Col. John B. Sanborn, Fourth Minnesota Infantry, commanding First Brigade
HDQRS. 1ST BRIGADE 7TH DIVISION, 17TH ARMY CORPS,
Camp in Field before Vicksburg, Miss., May 25, 1863.

COLONEL: I have the honor to report the marches made by my command and the part taken by it in the battles fought during the campaign from Milliken's Bend, La., to this camp.

On April 21, I received your order to send forward one brigade to Richmond, La., immediately, and relieve the command stationed there. At this time the general commanding this division was absent, and my command consisted of the Seventh Division, comprising: First Brigade-Fifty-ninth and Forty-eighth Indiana, Seventy-second Illinois: and Fourth Minnesota Regiments; Second Brigade--Tenth Missouri, Seventeenth Iowa, Eightieth Ohio, and Fifty-sixth Illinois Regiments; Third Brigade--Fifth Iowa, Twenty-sixth Missouri, Ninety-third Illinois, and Tenth Iowa Regiments ; and Battery M, First Missouri Light Artillery, Sixth and Twelfth Wisconsin Batteries, Eleventh Ohio Battery, two companies of cavalry, and pioneer corps of 137 effective men. The pioneer corps was already detached to work on Walnut and Roundaway Bayous, and did not come up during the time I remained in command of the division. This order was immediately complied with, and the Fifty-sixth Illinois and Seventeenth Iowa Regiments moved forward to Richmond the same day, distance 12 miles, and the remaining portion of the Second Brigade moved forward to Richmond the following day.

On April 23, I marched with the First Brigade and First Missouri and Eleventh Ohio Batteries to Richmond, and moved the Third Brigade and remaining batteries forward to that point on the 25th instant, and on the same day moved the Second Brigade on to Holmes' plantation, distance 9 miles; and during that night marched the First Brigade, with the exception of the Seventy-second Illinois, which, pursuant to your order, I left in command of Richmond, and two batteries, up to the same point.

On the 26th, the First and Second Brigades and two batteries marched forward to Smith's plantation, distance 9 miles, and bivouacked, and the Third Brigade and remaining batteries moved forward to within about 4 miles of that point. All camp and garrison equipage had been left behind, and the teams sent back to Milliken's Bend to bring forward rations to keep the supply up to ten days on hand, in accordance with Special Orders, No.--, from department headquarters but this train was seized and turned over to an ordnance officer to bring forward ammunition, and some of the regiments of the division were out of rations when we arrived at this point, and were supplied with bread by the post commissary.

On the 27th, the division did not move, for the reason that General Logan's division did not get past during the day, the roads being next to impassable.

On the 28th, the whole division moved together at 6 o'clock, and marched only about 4 miles during the day. I marched in the rear of General Logan's division, and the teams and batteries nearly all had to double the teams and go over the road twice.

On the 29th, the division was marched to Perkins' plantation, distance 11 miles, and bivouacked, and a few rations were obtained.

On the 30th, the march was continued to Hard Times Landing, opposite Grand Gulf, distance about 16 miles. At this point officers and men were a little disheartened upon learning that the Navy had found it impossible to reduce the Grand Gulf batteries, and that we must still continue our march down the river past this point before we could cross over.
Early on the morning of the 1st instant, I marched my command down the river to the point of embarkation for the east side. About the time of reaching this point, the rapid reports of artillery from the east side of the river announced that the advance of the army had come upon the enemy, and the soldiers were eager for the fray, and the infantry of the whole division (with the exception of the Fifty-sixth Illinois, which was detailed to remain in command of Hard Times temporarily), consisting of about 5,000 men, embarked on board transports, sailed 10 miles down the river to Bruinsburg, and disembarked in about one hour and a half, and moved forward toward the front line of the army before the brigade and division commanders could get their horses across the river.

After marching about 10 miles from the river toward the field of battle, and to a point within about 3 miles of the field, and before the division commander and staff had got up, an order was received from the major-general commanding the corps, by Colonel Holmes, commanding the leading brigade, to fall back to the junction of the Grand Gulf road with the Bruinsburg and Port Gibson road, and form, so as to resist any advance of the enemy from Grand Gulf by that road.
Colonel Holmes had disposed of the Second and Third Brigades and one battery of artillery in order of battle when I arrived upon the ground. The First Brigade and remaining batteries, with the exception of one held in reserve, were disposed in order of battle as fast as they came up, and in such manner as to resist any attack from the direction of Grand Gulf.
These batteries did not arrive so that the disposition could be completed till 11 o'clock at night. During this day the division marched 11 miles, and embarked on transports and sailed 10 miles and disembarked, and was carefully drawn out in order of battle at night at 1 o'clock.

On the morning of the 2d instant I received the order of the major-general commanding the corps to move forward my whole command at 3 a.m. to the field of battle. I marched accordingly, and at sunrise reported with my whole command on the field, having marched 6 miles.

At about 8 o'clock I was informed that the enemy had retired from the field, and I was ordered forward to Port Gibson, at which place I arrived with my command about 11 a.m., distance from the battle-field about 4 miles.
At this place the division remained about five hours, during which time the pontoon bridge was constructed across the south branch of Bayou Pierre, and during this time Brigadier-General Crocker reported to take command of the division, which marched about 8 miles to the north branch of Bayou Pierre before halting for night, making 19 miles that the division marched on this day.

Upon Brigadier-General Crocker assuming command of the division, I assumed command of the First Brigade. One regiment (the Fourth Minnesota) was detailed on fatigue duty during the night, to repair the suspension bridge crossing the north branch of Bayou Pierre that the rebel army had fired and partially burned.

During the time that I commanded the division, I received great assistance from Captain Rochester, assistant adjutant-general; Capt. L. B. Martin, temporary aide-de-camp; Lieutenant [Thomas S.] Campbell, aide-de-camp; Lieutenant [Ogden] Lovell, ordnance officer; Captain [Albert] Stoddard, judge-advocate and acting aide-de-camp, and Lieutenant [Charles L.] White, provost-marshal, all most gallant, efficient, and capable officers, and to all of whom I shall feel under lasting obligations.

On the morning of May 3, I crossed the north branch of Bayou Pierre with my brigade, following General Logan's division and leading the Seventh Division. The enemy opened with artillery in our front early in the morning, but retired rapidly until General Logan's division led off to the left, toward the Grand Gulf road, and the Seventh Division was marching in advance on the road leading from the Port Gibson and Jackson road to Hankinson's Ferry. When about 5 miles south of the ferry, the enemy deployed a long line of skirmishers, and formed a few regiments of infantry and put in position a battery of artillery.

The Fourth Minnesota was ordered forward as a support on the right, and the Forty-eighth Indiana as a support on the left of the road, with instructions to keep within supporting distance of the skirmishers.

When the skirmishers had advanced about 1 mile from the head of the main column, they came to the enemy's line, with two pieces of artillery in such position as to command all the open ground in front, through which my command was obliged to pass. This open ground was passed in the order above mentioned, under a heavy fire from the enemy's guns. The Fifty-ninth Indiana was the most exposed, but did their duty most manfully, obeying every order with alacrity. The Fourth Minnesota and Forty-eighth Indiana, as supports, moved up promptly and without hesitation. The conduct of all the officers and men was commendable and satisfactory. The enemy was driven from his first, second, and third positions, when, in obedience to your orders, I called in the skirmishers and moved on with my command to the crossing of the Big Black River, where we bivouacked, near Hankinson's Ferry.

In this skirmish I have to report the following casualties: Killed, Private Eli Fancette, and, mortally wounded, James W. Van Slyke, Company E, Fifty-ninth Indiana. Several of the officers and men of all the regiments sustained slight injuries, which scarcely can be called wounds.

While my command remained at Hankinson's Ferry, the greatest effort was made to procure rations; but there being no transportation, the command was compelled to leave with only two days' rations on hand.

On the 9th, the brigade moved with the balance of the division to Utica Cross-Roads, a distance of 12 miles, without opposition, and on the 10th marched 10 miles, through Utica and along the Raymond road, and on the following day moved forward 1 miles, and formed in order of battle on a ridge, in a favorable position for defense. My command was entirely out of rations at this time, except what could be gathered from the country, and so remained until the evening of the 17th, at which time the regimental teams came up from Grand Gulf.

On the morning of the 12th, my command marched at 9 a.m., leading the Seventh Division and following General Logan's division. Shortly after noon heavy cannonading in front announced that the advance had fallen upon the enemy. My command was kept closed up as closely as possible to the rear of the Third Division, and after the lapse of an hour or two, I received an order from General Crocker, commanding I he division, to move forward immediately and form on the left of General Logan's division. To arrive at the position indicated it was necessary to pass through a dense thicket of trees, brush, and vines, and then cross a clearing about 100 yards. It would seem that the enemy had formed the design of turning the left of our line, and had massed his infantry accordingly, and had planted his batteries so as completely to command this thicket and clearing, in order to prevent the left from being supported. As soon as my command commenced moving forward to form on the left, the enemy opened as heavy a fire as possible with his artillery upon me, but the formation was made in double-quick time, and my whole line moved up to within about 30 yards of our front line. Not more than a few moments elapsed after my command had reached this position before he advanced his lines of infantry upon the left, but was met with such firmness and so destructive a fire from the front line that he almost immediately gave way and fled from this part of the field. Immediately upon this having transpired, I received the order from General McPherson to move two regiments to my right in support of the center of our lines. The Fifty-ninth and Forty-eighth Indiana Regiments were immediately moved forward to the position indicated, and, at the suggestion of General Crocker, I offered to relieve the front line, which had been engaged at this time three or four hours, but these officers, among whom was the lamented Colonel Dollins, declined the offer, and said he felt certain that he could hold his position without aid.

The enemy by this time appeared in broken squads in front of the center, and in half an hour all firing had ceased and the enemy had fled in confusion from the field.

The only casualty in my command in this action was, Forty-eighth Indiana, 1 enlisted man wounded. After the action ceased, the command marched through Raymond and bivouacked about 1 mile north of the town. The Eighteenth Wisconsin Volunteers joined my brigade at this place.

[only excepts from Battle of Raymond are included by the editor]

JOHN B. SANBORN,
Colonel, Commanding.

 


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