of Dedication Speech
participants in the Dedication of the Texas Monument: Parker
Hills, speaker, Dan Laney, Master of Ceremonies, Jean Ann
Ables-Flatt, Commissioner of Texas Historical Commission, David
McCain, Friends of Raymond, and Terry Winschel, Historian,
Historian, Vicksburg National Military Park. The tranquility of this beautiful pasture today belies the maelstrom
of war that swept over it on May 12, 1863. This spot was beautiful
Mississippi countryside then, as now, but on that fateful day in 1863,
this ground was enveloped in clouds of acrid black powder smoke and
choking dust. This ground was enveloped in a cacophony of sound: Rebel
yells, Yankee huzzas, screams of pain and anger, tremendous
blasts from hundreds of rifles firing continuously, the whizzing and
thud of bullets cutting through the air and hitting solid objects, the
roar of artillery and the shriek and concussion of outgoing and incoming
shell. This is what the Texans, who fought on this very ground,
experienced on that fateful Tuesday, almost 139 years ago to the day.
Key participants in the Dedication of the Texas Monument: Parker Hills, speaker, Dan Laney, Master of Ceremonies, Jean Ann Ables-Flatt, Commissioner of Texas Historical Commission, David McCain, Friends of Raymond, and Terry Winschel, Historian, Historian, Vicksburg National Military Park.
The tranquility of this beautiful pasture today belies the maelstrom of war that swept over it on May 12, 1863. This spot was beautiful Mississippi countryside then, as now, but on that fateful day in 1863, this ground was enveloped in clouds of acrid black powder smoke and choking dust. This ground was enveloped in a cacophony of sound: Rebel yells, Yankee huzzas, screams of pain and anger, tremendous blasts from hundreds of rifles firing continuously, the whizzing and thud of bullets cutting through the air and hitting solid objects, the roar of artillery and the shriek and concussion of outgoing and incoming shell. This is what the Texans, who fought on this very ground, experienced on that fateful Tuesday, almost 139 years ago to the day.
At 9:00 A.M., General John Gregg ordered Colonel Hiram Granbury's regiment of 306 men out of their Raymond bivouac to the junction of the Port Gibson and Utica roads, about 900 yards to the northwest of this location. The Texans formed in a tree line, about 100 yards south of the Port Gibson Road, just to the west of the Utica Road on a gentle slope that forms a watershed for Fourteenmile Creek, the creek running past this monument. The weather was hot and dry for a May in Mississippi, and the dust cloud to the south, slowly approaching on the horizon from the road to Utica, forewarned of oncoming Federals.
To provide security for his soldiers in the trees, Colonel Granbury detailed his most experienced skirmisher, Captain T. B. Camp, to ask for volunteers from Companies A and B to cover the wooden bridge over Fourteenmile Creek, which stood where the old concrete bridge now stands, about 150 yards southwest of this spot. The creek was low due to the dry weather, with banks that dropped over six feet in places, and with sandy deposits at each of its many twists and turns. Captain Camp's volunteers hustled across the bridge and settled down in the brush on the southern side of the creek. To their front was an open field, planted in just-sprouting corn, which rose gently to a low ridge about 300 yards south of the creek.
Shortly before 10:00 A.M., Union
skirmishers of General James B. McPherson's XVII Corps cautiously
approached from the south and crossed over this low ridge, trampling the
leaves of the newly planted corn. Moments later, the concealed Texans
opened fire at a range of 100 yards, and a few blue-coated soldiers
crumpled in the hot Mississippi sun. The three guns of the Confederate
artillery, located where the silver water tower now sits at the junction
of the Port Gibson and Utica Roads, roared into action, and the Battle
of Raymond had begun.
In Waco, of McLennan County, Gregg found the able assistance of Hiram Bronson Granbury, a Mississippian who had gone to Texas, and who had become the chief justice of McLennan County. After the required 1,000 men were recruited, by October 1, 1861, the regiment rendezvoused at Haralson's Springs, two and 1/2 miles east of Marshall, Texas.
The regiment was ordered to Nashville, Tennessee, and en route Gregg was officially elected as colonel with Granbury as major of the regiment. By February of 1862, the regiment found itself at Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River in north Tennessee. Even though the 7th Texas fought well, the Confederate army was surrendered while two Southern generals made good their escape. The regiment, depleted to 331 men due to disease and combat, was sent to northern prisoner of war camps in Ohio, and for the field grade officers, to Fort Warren in Boston Harbor, Massachusetts.
The officers and men of the 7th Texas were paroled in the fall of 1862, and January of 1863 found the newly reconstituted 7th Texas at Port Hudson, Louisiana, as part of now Brigadier General Gregg's brigade, with Colonel Granbury as commander of the regiment. The 7th had arrived just in time to fight in the Vicksburg Campaign.
Major General Ulysses Grant's invasion of Mississippi in the Spring of 1863, prompted Confederate Lieutenant General John Pemberton to order Gregg's Brigade to Jackson on May 5, 1863, and Gregg's tired men arrived in the capitol city of Mississippi on Saturday night, May 9, 1863, after a 200 mile trek from Port Hudson. The soldiers of Gregg's Brigade barely had time to catch their breath before they were ordered to Raymond, on Sunday, May 10.
The soldiers of the 7th Texas, along with the rest of Gregg's Brigade, broke camp at daylight in Jackson on Monday morning, and trudged 21 miles along the hot, dusty, road to Raymond, arriving in the country hamlet around 4:00 p.m., May 11, 1863. Here they were welcomed by the citizens of the town, now only women, children, and old men. The soldiers were given bouquets of flowers and provided food by the anxious citizens, and the exhausted men soon fell asleep on the grass lawns of Raymond.
Confederate General John Pemberton had informed General Gregg by correspondence on May 11 that the probability was very great that the Union movement toward Jackson was in reality on Big Black Bridge, 32 miles west of Jackson on the Big Black River, in which case Gregg was ordered to attack the Union forces in the rear or on the flank. Undoubtedly, Gregg decided to follow Napoleon's maxim: "A general should show boldness, strike a decided blow, and maneuver upon the flank of his enemy."
On Monday night, May 11, 1863, General Gregg was deep in the fog of war, as he had no real cavalry support, and he did not know the strength or intention of the enemy. But, during the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday, May 12, Gregg was informed by his limited number of scouts that the Union troops were approaching via the road from Utica, with their strength estimated at 2,500 to 3,000. Remembering Pemberton's message to hit the Union army approaching Big Black Bridge in the rear or on flank, Gregg figured that the oncoming Federals constituted a brigade, approximately 1,500 strong. In fact, what his scouts had seen was only the lead brigade of an entire Union Corps, 12,000 strong.
General Heinz Guderian once stated that, "When the situation is obscure, attack."
Gregg did just that, and, following Napoleon, he planned for an attack on the approaching Yanks, complete with a flanking maneuver.
Colonel Granbury was ordered to take his 7th Texas diagonally across the Utica Road to an open field behind the ridge at this spot, with orders to attack through the wooded area on the ridge and from there through the trees, that grew in this field, to the creek. Captain Camp's skirmishers at the bridge were actively engaging the rapidly forming Union lines. The skirmishers were ordered to remain at the bridge to protect the Texan's right flank, which was anchored on the Utica Road, about 75 yards west of the modern highway.
While Granbury was moving across the Utica Road with plans for a noontime attack, the Union troops of the 20th Ohio and 23rd Indiana had crossed the creek and occupied the woods that stood here. The Texas skirmish line crossed the brow of the ridge behind us, and came under fire from the Ohio soldiers posted here, at the base of the hill. That was enough for the combative Granbury. He ordered his men forward at the double-quick, and down the hill they charged.
According to Granbury, "The men obeyed with alacrity and, when in view of the enemy, rushed forward with a shout. So near were the enemy and impetuous the charge, that my regiment could have blooded a hundred bayonets had the men been supplied with that weapon. As it was, the enemy fled after firing one volley, leaving a number of prisoners. . ."
General Gregg was using the 7th Texas as bait to draw the Federals into his trap. Still believing that he was facing a 1,500 man brigade, instead of a 12,000 man corps, he planned to hit the Union right flank with two Tennessee regiments. The Tennesseans were to launch their attack from the wooded area of Fourteenmile Creek, about 1,200 yards to the southeast. To protect the Texan's left flank, Gregg brought up Colonel Calvin Walker's big 3rd Tennessee Regiment, 548 men strong.
When the Texans charged down the hill towards the position here, the fighting was hand-to-hand, and muskets were used as clubs. There was no time to reload, and the Texans were without bayonets. The Union soldiers, after a stand of ten minutes, were driven back into the shelter of the creek bed, using the bluff as a breastwork. Here they held for an hour and a half.
The attack of the Texans was described by a Union soldier: "We found the enemy upon us but we found also that the bank of the brook sloped off a bit, with a kind of beach at its further edge, which made a first rate shelter. So, we dropped on the ground right there and gave those Texans all the bullets we could cram into our Enfields until our guns were hot enough to sizzle. The gray line paused, staggering back like a ship in collision which trembles in every timber from the shock. Then they too gave us volley after volley, always working up toward us breathing our fire until they had come within twenty or even fifteen paces. In one part of the line some of them came nearer than that and had to be poked back with the bayonets.
"It was the 7th Texas which had struck us, a regiment which had never been beaten in any fight. We soon found they didn't scare worth a cent. They kept trying to pass through our fire, jumping up, pushing forward a step, and then falling back into the same place--just as you may see a lot of dead leaves in a gale of wind, eddying to and fro under a bank, often rising up as if to fly away, but never able to advance a peg. It was a question of life or death with us to hold them..."
Even though some of the Texans penetrated across the creek, they ran into the oncoming 20th Illinois, and the Texans were driven back into the creek bed. On the Texan's right, Union General John Logan rallied the 20th Ohio, and the ever-increasing onslaught of Union regiments began to turn the tide. There were simply too many Federal soldiers for Gregg's lone brigade to handle.
Three right-flank companies of the 7th Texas withdrew, and promptly marched to the left to the sound of the firing. The boys from Texas still had plenty of fight in them. They marched 400 yards to their left, to the top of the bare ridge just to the east, and assisted Colonel Randal McGavock's Tennessee regiment in their fight against the Union Missouri, Illinois and Indiana soldiers; at least seven Union infantry regiments.
By 3:45 that afternoon, the overwhelming Union numbers forced the Texans to withdraw, and Gregg's Confederate brigade slowly fell back through Raymond. By 5:00 p.m., the Battle of Raymond was over. Of the 306 Texans that had gone into the battle, Colonel Granbury reported 158 casualties--a loss of almost 52%. The wounded of both sides were taken into Raymond, and tenderly cared for by the ladies of the town. The Confederate dead were interred in the Raymond City Cemetery, where they lie to this day, underneath Mississippi's grateful soil. Of the 149 marked Confederate graves, 41 are from the 7th Texas. The Union dead now rest in the Vicksburg National Military Cemetery, also beneath Mississippi's rich earth. Americans all, they are men who fought for what they believed.
Today we gather on sacred ground, in fact, we are on the very ground that was described by the colonel of the 20th Ohio after the battle: ". . .twenty-three dead (Texans) were found in half an acre in front of the line of the Twentieth Ohio: seven dead were found behind a log, which was pierced by seventy-two balls. One tree in front of my line was stripped and hacked near the roots by balls, though not a mark was found more than two feet above the ground."
Such was the intensity of the fight here, on this hallowed ground.
On this contested ground, the Texas Monument is the first monument to be placed on the Raymond Battlefield. It is entirely fitting for it to be so, for the Texans were the vanguard of the Confederate attack on May 12, 1863. On this ground Texans led the fight: first to secure against attack, and then to attack others. On this ground Texans were the first to shed their very life's blood, for they believed in something. They believed that life was a light thing to lay down for the faith they bore. Today, this is inscribed in the Texas Monument at Vicksburg National Military Park.
This very ground, then, is hallowed ground, ground that has been nourished by the soldiers who clashed here. Texans fought for every square inch of this ground; ground they consecrated through their sacrifices, and ground today preserved by Americans--Americans who endeavor to properly remember the heroes who fought here.
This small patch of ground is being preserved so that we may honor the actions of our forebears, so that future generations may remember. It is being preserved so that our descendents may come here and ponder what kind of men would travel so far from their homes to fight for their beliefs. This ground is being saved inch by inch, acre by acre, to remember the bravery and selflessness of generations past, and to inspire generations of the future.
The vision for this battlefield is to remember all Americans who fought here: those who wore the blue and those who wore the gray, the colors of their countries. Men from Ohio and Tennessee, men from Illinois and Missouri, men from Michigan and Mississippi, men from Indiana and Kentucky, and men from Iowa and Minnesota. Today, we begin that process by honoring the men from Texas, the first to fight at Raymond. Again, it is most fitting that we do so.
In closing, I would like to honor the
soldiers from Texas by quoting from a 20th century general, Dwight David
The Texans came here to fight, and fight they did. Today, we have carved that in stone.
Parker Hills has conducted scores of military staff rides since he organized and conducted the first one in Mississippi in 1987. His audiences have included general officers, commanders of various levels, non-commissioned officers, and soldiers to include U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Berets), Army Rangers, U.S. Marines, and British soldiers. He has traveled the nation to conduct these staff rides, as well as to England at the request of Sandhurst Royal Military Academy. He has also conducted dozens of civilian tours of battlefields for non-profit organizations involved in battlefield preservation, and is a regular speaker at Civil War Roundtables, battlefield preservation groups, civic clubs and seminars.
During his 31 years as a Regular Army and National Guard officer, he served in various command and staff positions, and founded and served as the first Commandant of the Regional Counterdrug Training Academy (R.C.T.A.) at Naval Air Station in Meridian, Mississippi. Hills retired with the rank of Brigadier General in May, 2001. He served as president of an advertising agency for 15 years in Jackson, Mississippi, and established Battle Focus upon his military retirement in 2001. He holds a bachelor's degree in Commercial Art; a Master's Degree in Educational Psychology; is a graduate of the U.S. Army War College; and is the author of A Study in Warfighting: Nathan Bedford Forrest and the Battle of Brice's Crossroads.
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.
Copyright (c) James and Rebecca Drake, 1998 - 2002. All Rights Reserved.