THE BATTLE OF RAYMOND
Editor's Note: This vivid description of the Battle of Raymond was taken from "Military Annals of Tennessee, Confederate, Vol. I: Regimental Histories and Memorial Rolls of the Forty First Tennessee" edited and published in 1886 by John Berrien Lindsley. The history of the 41st Tennessee Infantry found in this two volume series was provided by Confederate veteran, James D. Tillman, who fought with the 41st Infantry. Included in the history of the 41st Tennessee Infantry was an article "The Battle of Raymond" by William E. Cunningham. Since William E. Cunningham was not a soldier with the Forty-First Tennessee, it is presumed that the article was provided to him by Sumner A. Cunningham, an active participant in all movements of the 41st Tennessee and later the founding editor/owner of the "Confederate Veteran". It would appear that William E. Cunningham was only a newspaper reporter with the Weekly Philadelphia Times and not the author of this article. There is speculation that he could have been related to Sumner A. Cunningham.
The morning of May 11, 1863, was bright and pleasant. Our men, after a march of two hundred miles from Port Hudson, La., were scattered about the camp which we temporarily occupied about one mile north of Jackson, Miss. Our march had been tedious, as Grierson's raid had played sad havoc unto the railroad to New Orleans, a short time before, leaving nothing for fifty miles but the hacked road-bed. The men were in groups, wandering about camp, or enjoying a cool plunge in the grateful waters of Pearl River, which ran close by. Many were the surmises as to our destination and as to the object of our march. Many an eye gleamed and brightened as some comrade ventured the prophecy that we were bound for Tennessee, for our brigade was composed of Tennessee regiments, save one. The surmises were cut short by the sharp bugle-blast, which sounded the assembly.
In a few minutes we were ready, and a short march brought us out on the hill overlooking Jackson. Halting to form, we began the march through the city. The Forty-first Tennessee, Col. Farquharson (a man who gained celebrity in Mexico as Major of the First Tennessee, and who was badly wounded at Monterey), was followed by the Third Tennessee, Col. Walker. Then came the Tenth Tennessee (Irish), Col. McGavock; then the Thirtieth, Col. Head; the Fiftieth, Col. Sugg, and the First Tennessee Battery, Major Colms. The rear was brought up by Col. Granbury, Seventh Texas, all under command of that lamented soldier and gentleman, Gen. John Gregg, of Texas. The column was headed by the band of the Third, and it fell to my lot to command the advance. As we moved down the wide road, marching to the strains of "The Girl I Left Behind Me." I glanced back, and could not restrain a feeling of pride in the splendid array of gallant men, nearly all of whom I knew either personally or by regiment.
It was a perfect body of men Gregg led through Jackson that lovely morning, and many a fair hand on this occasion gave the lie to the story that Jackson people charged for handing water to the noble fellows as they filed by. The streets were lined and the windows crowded as we marched along, not knowing our destination till we passed the depot and took the Raymond road. Raymond is the county-seat, although Jackson is the State capital, and both being in the same county. We soon met straggling cavalry who stopped in their mad flight long enough to tell us of a cavalry raid up from Grand Gulf. We had been itching for a fight, and could not have been suited better than to meet the raiders. The country was green with growing grain, and presented a peaceful, happy, and contented appearance. No sign of war had ever disturbed the people in their quietude; no thought of a Federal, save as a prisoner, ever for a moment entered their heads. If there were timid ones they were reassured as our army of seven regiments appeared, advancing to meet a foe which we little dreamed was the advance of Grant's host.
The citizens met us kindly and wonderingly. Raymond was peaceful; Raymond was happy. No sound of strife had yet reached that retired spot, which then was filled with refugees from other points. Early on the morning of the 12th the town was overrun with soldiers, having what we called a "high old time!"
In the midst of fun, feasting, and coquetting the long roll sounded, and every man answered promptly. Gen. Gregg moved through the town very quietly, where hundreds of people were eagerly watching events, little dreaming of the carnage to follow. He formed his command with the right, composed of the Forty-first Tennessee, covering the Edwards Depot road and at intervals of fifty or one hundred yards successively, with Capt. Graves's three-gun battery in the center on the Grand Gulf road. This is the same Captain Graves who mounted an old rusty piece on wagon-wheels and fired the first gun at Boonville, Mo., early in 1861. This battery was supported by the Tenth. We were expecting nothing but cavalry, which we felt satisfied we could whip. Skirmishers were advanced in the thick black copse, and almost instantly the quiet was broken by the crack of the rifle, answered by the first big gun in our center.
Suddenly the sound of the skirmisher's rifle was lost amid the roar of musketry, while our three pieces belched and thundered defiance at the six-gun battery of the enemy on the hill opposite. The force of the enemy was developed, and very suddenly, for from right to left along our whole front of a mile the battle opened at close range. At this juncture Col. McGavock advanced to charge the battery, supported by the Third. Nearly all saw him, as with gallant bearing he led his men, and as he moved irresistibly forward, capturing four guns. This was as gallant a charge as ever was made against terrible odds. In the moment of success the fiery McGavock fell, shot through the heart. Major Grace took command, only to fall from a severe wound.
The fighting around the battery was bloody in the extreme. The Third moved up in support, and in ten minutes one hundred and ninety of the five hundred comprising their number were killed or wounded. By this time the battle along the whole line was raging with incredible fury. At the one hundred and thirteenth round one of Bledsoe's guns burst. Still we held our ground and had possession of the captured guns. Gen. Gregg had discovered long before this that we had encountered something heavier than cavalry, and by examining captured prisoners found they represented eighteen regiments. A whole corps was in our front.
There was one of two things left us, to retreat in the face of such numbers, or to wait till we were entirely surrounded. He decided to retreat, which we accomplished successfully, even moving our shattered guns to Mississippi Springs, six miles from the battle-field, where we bivouacked for the night. On our retreat through Raymond we saw ladies with quilts and bandages for the wounded, who were being cared for by their tender hands. They would not be persuaded to leave the streets even after the enemy's shells were flying and crashing through houses. Mournfully we took up our line of retreat, bearing off our slightly wounded prisoners, numbering two hundred and eighty.
With six thousand men Gregg had met the advance of Grant's army, and had successfully resisted his advance in a regular battle of eight hours. Our loss was over ten per cent, or six hundred and fifty men killed and wounded. The history of the war furnishes no instance where the heroic gallantry of Southern soldiers showed to better advantage. After the lapse of eighteen years the memory of Raymond, though fought by a single brigade of Confederates against fearful odds, stands out as one of the most remarkable and hard-fought battles of the war. Not one of the regiment commanders is now alive, and Gregg himself fought his last battle in front of Petersburg, and now sleeps with the rest.
This proved to be the second act in Pemberton's grand drama of the "Fall of Vicksburg." On the 10th the battle: of Port Gibson was fought, Raymond on the 12th; on the 15th that of Baker's Creek, which told the tale. Was it good generalship that the defenders of the city should be divided and cut to pieces in three separate battles (not over twelve miles apart) by overwhelming odds?
| Home | Grant's March | Gregg's March | Battle of Raymond | Order of Battle | Commanders | Soldiers Who Fought | Diaries & Accounts |
Copyright (c) James and Rebecca Drake, 1998 - 2002. All Rights Reserved.