IX Corps Reinforcing Grant at Vicksburg via Rail and Steamboat

Freddy

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Dec 19, 2006
Location
Worcester, MA
In mid-1863 the IX Corps was ordered to march from Tennessee and Kentucky to Cincinnati, OH. On June 5th they boarded the Mississippi & Ohio Railroad at 6:30 pm and were off for Cairo, IL. There on June 7th they boarded steamboats and steamed down the Mississippi River arriving at Vicksburg on June 17th. My great grandfather writes about this undertaking of moving the entire IX Corps from Cincinnati to Vicksburg.

From www.civilwardiary.net

June 5th. 1863
Arrived at Covington at 8 AM. Crossed by ferry to Cincinnati. Stopped in the city until near 5 PM. And had a good dinner provided us by the city. Had quite a chance to view the city. Liked its appearance very much, has some fine buildings all of which seemed to have a fresh and lively appearance, coming I suppose from their having been recently built. Was sorry to see whiskey shops so numerous, many of the regiment imbibed far too freely, much to the discredit of the regiment. Went with Lt. Pope and a squad of men patrolling among the whiskey shops for “stragglers.” Many citizens, formerly residents of the Eastern States visited the regiment. Had a few minutes pleasant conversation with Mr. Clarke of Dayton, Ohio., who formerly lived in Dedham. Our company was treated to a couple boxes of oranges from another ex-Dedham resident, Mr. Hunnewell. They were most heartily received. Wrote letter for Isaac Collier to his wife, he was suddenly taken sick and transferred to the Marine Hospital in the city. At near 6:30 PM were on board cars once again, on the Mississippi and Ohio Railroad and en route for Cairo, IL, as our next halting place. Were closely packed, 50 to a car, so there was scarce any chance to sleep or rest. Added to the unpleasantness of being thus crowded, was the pleasure of enduring the mad freaks and hilarity of some half dozen or more in each car of crazy headed ones from the influence of liquor, so that for a while it was in reality “confusion worse confounded.” It is pretty evident we now go to Vicksburg. Our stay in Kentucky has been very pleasant, some severe marching, yet we have been undisturbed by hostile foe. Probably the majority of the men would prefer such service rather than that we shall be likely to see down about Vicksburg. Yet I sometimes feel as if in such service we were doing but little in crushing the rebellion. If our going to Vicksburg will place us where we can be more useful to this end, we ought to be cheerfully willing to go there even though it bring us to the stern realities of battle. May God aid us to meet patiently and courageously the sterner scenes of war, which seem now to be in store for us. Accounts of the progress of the conflict about Vicksburg represent that our troops are having a hard time of it, suffering much from severe labors in besieging the city, and from sickness. Many of us will undoubtedly be laid by, no more to return to our Northern homes. Dread to write to my folks informing them of our move and destination.

June 6th.
Today have been steaming along through Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Leaving Cincinnati our route for quite a distance lay along the Ohio River, through prosperous villages and a thriving farming country. Rode upon the top of the car until dark and enjoyed the scenery very much. At every village the citizens were out “en masse” to welcome us on, the young ladies quite liberal in bestowing of flowers upon us so that we were quite fancifully decorated with them. The old and young were full of hearty cheers for us, this was truly refreshing after our cold and indifferent treatment we have received in the villages of Kentucky. Made out to sleep about half the night, after a fashion, anything but refreshing. The forepart of the night was anything but quiet with us on account of the crazy headedness of a few whiskey guzzlers. In Seymour, IN at 2:30 AM had some hot coffee and crackers. At Vincennes, IN on the banks of the Wabash River we were treated again to some hot coffee and other refreshments. Barrels of ice water were at the depots for us from which we filled our canteens. Crossing the Wabash we were in Illinois. Here we could see Western life in its every variety. Log houses were scattered along the route, villages more or less prosperous, nearly all having schoolhouses and churches and presenting in this respect a pleasing contrast to the villages of Kentucky. Occasionally a church or school building could be seen but partly finished, and seeming to tell that the war was having a depressing effect upon the material prosperity of the village. The people were out as in Ohio to greet us with cheers, flowers and banners. Passed over large sections of prairie land, which to us used to the hills and rocks of New England presented a novel appearance. All around as far as the eye could reach seemed one ocean of plains. Dotted here and there with villages and interspersed with cultivated tracts and tracts where nothing but a wild prairie grass was in growth, which was interspersed with a variety of wild flowers giving it a pleasing appearance. As we drew near the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi and Illinois Central railroads, the land grew richer, and the farms more numerous and as thriving as heart could wish. Changed cars at Sandoval for Cairo. Previous to our re-embarking our Colonel gave us a short season of battalion drill, his object he said to “rest us and stretch our limbs a little after our long ride”, this was not much liked by the men who made blunders innumerable some on purpose.

June 7th.
Passed the night very uncomfortably, were much crowded, and noise and confusion abundant of which it may be said “Whiskey done it.” Arrived at Cairo at 8 AM. Pitched our tents upon the sand on the bank of the Ohio. Took a good scrub in the river. Wrote a letter to Abbie and Carrie, after which slept rest of day. Could hardly realize it to be the Sabbath, or that I was really in sight of the MS, and of the shores of KY, Ill., and MO., such has been the whirl and excitement of our journeying from Ky.

June 8th.
Strolled about the town the forepart of the day. Find it quite a business place and full of small hotels and liquor shops; a low, swampy, mud hole sort of a place, its business derived from its being a terminus of the Illinois Central Railroad and a depot of merchandise sent south by steamer. It has scarce any pleasing or suburban residences. Embarked on board steamer Imperial at 5:30PM and got underway at about sunset en route for the vicinity of Vicksburg, as our next halting place. It was a lively and interesting sight to witness the loading of the steamer, the packing of the men, horses, baggage etc., all seeming to be in a state of inextricable confusion, yet at the last to find all on board in seeming order though closely packed. The 11th NH and U.S. Battery, with our regiment composed the cargo. The scenery as we steamed out of the Ohio into the Mississippi was pleasing, the change from riding in boxcars to the open decks of a steamer was most agreeable. We have a large boat, high decks so we have plenty of air and on the whole are comfortably off for room.

June 9th.
Got on to a sand bar at near 10 last night and did not get off until near daylight this morning. Had a good night’s rest saving being routed to go “aft” so as to lighten the bow. Our regiment occupies the upper deck so we are out in the open air. Received two papers from Benjamin Boyden, very glad for them, as they will help me in spending some of the dull hours of boat sailing or steam boating. Got a ducking from a shower this afternoon. Nothing of much note for scenery as yet. Can hardly realize that I am steaming down “The Father of Waters.” Passed “Island No. 10”, nothing remarkable in its appearance, yet one cannot help regarding it somewhat particularly in view of the scenes which have been enacted upon it. Remains of the rebel rifle pits are yet to be seen; stretching round through the swamp can be traced the route through which Commodore Foote piloted his “mosquito” boats and thus flanked the rebels from the Island. Have passed but one town as yet, viz. Hickman. Low wooded lands make up the scenery of the riverbanks, here and there a log cabin or settlement of “loggers” engaged in cutting and supplying wood for the steamers. Stopped quite a while at one of these places to wood up.

June 10th.
Heavy thunder shower last night giving those of us who were on the deck a good soaking. Our boat got stuck again this morning, but with aid of two steamers was soon off again. Shower again in afternoon. Wrote letter to Nellie. Arrived at Memphis at 6 PM. Were not allowed to go on shore. Peddlers of cakes, fruits, pies, etc., were plenty, but a few, however, were allowed to come on board. The 11th NH had just been paid, so they were profuse in patronage of the peddlers. It was amusing to witness their eagerness, crowding around the peddlers, pushing and hauling and nearly suffocating the pie merchants, most of whom, were women. Cooks went ashore and cooked three days rations.

June 11th.
Had a good night rest. Our regiment paid off during the night, our company. at about 3 AM this morning. Are allowed to go on shore today, and greenbacks are distributed freely over the city in exchange for pies, cakes, bread, fruits, cheese, butter and notions. Our whole IX Corps has arrived and the different boats are busy being loaded with coal. Took a stroll about the city. Found it more of a place than I imagined. Stands upon a bluff overlooking the river. It contains some 40,000 inhabitants, has fine wide streets, destitute of pavements, has some fine commercial buildings which are occupied with fine stocks of goods, some however, are closed showing that the war is having its effects upon the business of the place. A large cotton trade used to center here, but now amounts to nothing. A few bales along the landings confiscated from the interior by the government are to be seen. Has quite a pretty little park finely ornamented with shade trees, among them some fine Magnolias, which has a fine large white blossom. It has a fine bust of Jackson upon a pedestal. Some of the inscriptions upon it have been partially defaced by the rebels. The Union loving sentiments expressed probably smiting or disturbing their consciences. Took a bath in the river and came near getting drowned out in the current. I was almost unable to get in shore again. Some of our men as usual got under the influence of liquor or behaved badly. Have some doubts whether my having been free in expressing my condemnations of liquor drinking has been for good. As today, some of those who were inebriated seemed to have a special malice against those of us who have been free in speaking against the use of liquor. Need to be more watchful that what I say be spoken in love or humility.

June 12th.
Our fleet of 11 steamers got underway at sunrise this morning. Just below Memphis passes wrecks of rebel gunboats sunk during the attack on the place a year or more ago. The scenery below Memphis nearly the same as above it. Here and there a plantation can be seen stretching along the rive bank. The dwellings of the planters seem a hundred years behind the age in style and convenience. They have little about them that is attractive. Many of them mere one-story buildings unpainted. Adjoining them could be seen the log cabins of the slaves standing in rows close together. The day has been quite warm-have made out to shelter ourselves somewhat from the sun by using our tents or blankets. Got asleep today in the sun, which is very weakening. Must be more cautious about this if I would keep my health. The scene of the starting of our fleet was novel and lively music by various bands on one steamer was provided with a “calliope” which added its melody to that of the bands. Each steamer was crowded with men and batteries and stores, each had its guard on the hurricane deck, or some a section of a battery ready as guard against guerrillas, whose reports say are ready to pounce upon any unarmed steamer. Card playing or novel reading the principle methods of spending the time among most of the men. Have found some good reading with which to pass the time. Hauled up opposite Napoleon, Arkansas for the night and sent a picket on shore for the night.

June 13th.
Napoleon is the neatest appearing town I have seen on the river thus far. The houses nearly all neatly painted and are in good trim. Nearly all the plantations we have passed since leaving Memphis have a forsaken lookout of a dozen we have passed today but one showed any signs of being inhabited. Passed many plantations which presented naught but ruins-the bare blackened chimneys crisped and blackened shrubbery showing that fire had done its work upon the buildings. Many of them were destroyed by the government because they were used as hiding places or rendezvous for guerrilla bands. Passed one good size town, which made a show of but four inhabitants. All the stores and places of business seemed to be closed. Noticed this to be a feature in all the towns we passed. The scenery has become more interesting. The banks are more abrupt, with the land rising in gentle hills back from the river. Passed many dense swamps of cypress, which with the dense undergrowth presented a pretty appearance. Have been under convoy of gunboats most of the day. Partly wrote a letter to Abbie. Stopped quite a while at Helena, AK in afternoon.

June 14th.
Sabbath. Hauled up opposite Milikens Bend for the night. Steamed down to Youngs Point this morning where the Corps landed at a rough swampy sort of a place with a steep bank leading from the river. Our company detailed to unload baggage and stores, a hard two hours job amid a broiling noonday sun. All about us is clamor and confusion, baggage and stores piled upon the bank-men hurrying and bustling about putting up tents. The puffing of the steamboats and neighing of mules and horses makes a lively scene. Our regiment quartered close by the famous “cut off” or would be “cut off” from Vicksburg, an excavation dug by General Grant, to turn the stream of the Mississippi, or a portion of it so as to flank the rebel batteries at Vicksburg. Vicksburg lies in plain sight, the rebel rifle pits and batteries in view with aid of a glass. Just below us, some of our mortar boats are hard at work shelling the city, working at it night and day. It is a lively sight to witness the shells as they leave the mortars and whiz their way or drop into the doomed city, their tracks illuminated by the burning fuse. It has been hard to realize it to be the Sabbath, amid the new scenes, the toil and labor incident to disembarking, cleaning up and the booming of the mortar boats as they send their dire missiles. Could not but feel sad at the contrast between such scenes, and the peaceful Sabbath enjoyed by loved ones at home. Finished letter to Abbie. Felt dull in mind.

June 15th.
Routed a little before daylight. Five days rations were given out. Marched at near 6 AM with four miles over a part corduroy and part plank road through a dense and luxuriant swamp across the peninsula lying opposite Vicksburg-to the river again. Waited until 1 PM and were then placed on board Steamer Forest Queen with orders to cross the river and march to the rear of Vicksburg, but just as we had embarked and a battery partly loaded, came orders to disembark and wait for further orders. Bivouacked in a wood on the riverbank. Around us were quartered a large motley collection of contraband Negroes of all classes and sexes presenting a sad and mournful spectacle of destitution and wretchedness. Most of them living in shelters made of fine boughs and underbrush. Yet despite their discomforts most of them seemed cheerful and happy-doubtless rejoicing in the freedom now before them. May God pity this class of sufferers from the war and overrule their emancipation from slaving so that their freedom shall be a blessing to themselves and the nation. A little distance from us was the encampments of some Negro recruits. Many of our men exercise a foolish prejudice against Negro troops and indulge in a petty persecution towards them, which makes one indignant to witness. The Negroes bear this patiently and set us a noble example in that respect. Vicksburg lies in plain sight. Cannon and mortars are thundering away at it without intermission by night or day. We are expecting daily to hear of the surrender of the city. At 6 PM came prospect of a shower leading us to put up tents in hot haste. Just got them up when orders came to pack and move. Marched at about dark, back to the spot we left in the morning. Hard marching in the dark, as the way was a rough half made corduroy full of slough holes, ditches and banks of earth making it anything but pleasant stumbling along in the dark. Our return march was illuminated by flashes of lightning, and the flash of an occasional bursting shell from our mortars-reverberations of thunder, and our mortars mingling together, making the scene grand and stirring. Such marching and counter marching without any apparent result, add but little rather detract from the patience and good nature of the men. Could not help feeling a little cross, but suppose such movements must be expected in war; and the less fretting indulged the better.

June 16th.
The left wing of our regiment had the job of reloading baggage and stores upon the boat. At 11 AM on steamer again. Our whole corps on the move again, en route for the Yazoo River. Did not get underway until 3 PM. Thus seemingly our landing and movements at this point have been for naught-doubtless could we of the rank and file know all the circumstances calling for such movements we should see all was designed for the best and at the time needful. Landed at Snyders bluff on the Yazoo, or rather hauled up preparatory to landing. Snyders Bluff was once a strongly fortified position in the hands of the rebels, but was taken from them by Sherman. Went ashore to view the ruined fortifications. Dismantled breastworks, redoubts, trenches, spiked siege guns, half burnt gun carriages, all sorts of odds and ends of accouterments, pieces of shell, solid shot, all were in promiscuous confusion. Stayed on board of steamer during the night. Rained just as we turned in, but managed to sleep quite comfortable beneath my rubber blanket though on the upper deck.

June 17th.
Disembarked at about 8 AM. Had to climb a steep bank amid mud near ankle deep, making it so slippery that one could scarce stand up. Amusing scenes occurred in getting the baggage up the ascent, often times a package would be got partially up when a grand slide backwards would take place-it was anything but easy work to roll barrels of pork, bacon etc. up the bank. Marched about two miles and camped. Passed numerous camps of Western troops. Some of the men seem to hint that we, the IX Corps, were not needed to help at the siege, and showed a bit of jealousy toward us.

June 18th.
Have quite a good campground, much better than I expected to find anywhere in the vicinity of Vicksburg. Imagined it to be most all swampy land, but the land for quite a stretch about us is quite hilly, sharp ridges and deep valleys commingling. Good springs about some 1/4 of a mile from camp. Patches of cane breaks abound, some of them so thick with canes as to make it hard getting through them. Blackberries are abundant in the woods and open lands, are not fairly ripe yet. A sort of wild plum also abounds. Snakes, lizards, and insects are more numerous than agreeable. The foliage is very dense. Magnolia and other trees are in full bloom, which with a rich profusion of wild flowers give the woods a rich and charming appearance. Weather very warm during the middle of the day but cool nights with heavy dews. Broke my watch carelessly. Need more watchfulness and system in taking care of my personal effects. Had a pair of shoes and a shelter tent stolen from me while on steamer. One has to be constantly on the watch against thieves, and when turning in for the night to tie his effects about him in such a way that they cannot well be taken without his being waked. Some soldiers make a practice of throwing away some of their effects on the march to get rid of lugging them and then replace them by stealing from their comrades. We are on ground formerly occupied by the rebels, and fragments of their camp arrangements were strewn plentifully about. Tent pieces and some harness were found hid in the woods.
 
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Carronade

Captain
Joined
Aug 4, 2011
Location
Pennsylvania
This illustrates an interesting point; although the Confederates had the advantage of interior lines, the ability to move troops or material by river or sea around the periphery of the Confederacy gave the Union a comparable benefit.
 

Championhilz

First Sergeant
Joined
Mar 18, 2011
Location
Clinton, Mississippi
Many years ago when I worked at the Old Court House Museum in Vicksburg, I had a local lady come in and ask if I could identify an item she found while digging in her garden. The item in question was a Brass ID tag for a member of the 6th New Hampshire Infantry, part of the IX Corps reinforcements sent to Vicksburg. I asked the lady where she lived, and it was in the area where the IX Corps was stationed during the siege. The tag was in really beautiful condition - I wish I could remember the name of the soldier.
 

ucvrelics

Lt. Colonel
Forum Host
Regtl. Quartermaster Shiloh 2020
Joined
May 7, 2016
Location
Alabama
If we had only hard more torpedoes and mines :D we could have held out a few more weeks
 

Freddy

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Dec 19, 2006
Location
Worcester, MA
Many years ago when I worked at the Old Court House Museum in Vicksburg, I had a local lady come in and ask if I could identify an item she found while digging in her garden. The item in question was a Brass ID tag for a member of the 6th New Hampshire Infantry, part of the IX Corps reinforcements sent to Vicksburg. I asked the lady where she lived, and it was in the area where the IX Corps was stationed during the siege. The tag was in really beautiful condition - I wish I could remember the name of the soldier.
I think that is a great story. She could look up the soldier today online and perhaps a descendant is listed. Here is the History of the 6th NH Regiment. Perhaps it could help you.

https://www.library.unh.edu/find/digital/object/digital:00112
 

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