After the surrender at Fort Donelson, the transport to Cairo, Illinois, and the confinement in Camp Douglas near Chicago, the Twentieth Mississippi was exchanged at Vicksburg, Mississippi, on the eighteenth of September in eighteen sixty-two. After the exchange the regiment was reassembled under Col. Russell and assigned to Brig. Gen. Lloyd Tilghman's Brigade of Maj. Gen. William Wing Loring's Division of Lt. Gen John C. Pemberton's Army of Mississippi and East Louisiana, with which it was listed in the returns of January of eighteen sixty-three.
It was then moved to Clinton, Mississippi, where it remained encamped until early October. On the ninth of October the first companies left Clinton and traveled to Jackson by railroad. On the tenth of October, at five o'clock in the evening, another group of companies left camp at Clinton by railroad. They arrived in Jackson on the same evening after traveling some ten miles. The remainder of the companies, under the command of Capt. C. K. Massey of Company D left Clinton on the eleventh. While stopped at Jackson the men took the time to draw arms, knapsacks, and accoutrements.
That evening the troops left on the cars headed to Holly Springs, Mississippi, some one hundred seventy-five miles to the north. They left Jackson empty-handed but stopped at Vernon to book rations. Capt. Walter A. Rorer of Company B wrote in his report that the discipline of the troops would be promoted by a more regular issue of rations. They stopped at Winona to prepare the rations and then moved on to Holly Springs. It took most of the troops some forty-two hours to make the trip. The first men of the Twentieth arrived at Holly Springs at about noon on the thirteenth, and the last men arrived on the fifteenth. There they camped for several days.
On the twenty-third of October the regiment left Holly Springs and marched to Coldwater. Capt. J. B. Avant, commanding Company E, reported that since last muster his company had traveled from Clinton to Holly Springs by rail, marched thence to Coldwater, some six miles north of Holly Springs. It was then stationed at Coldwater, Marshall Co., Mississippi, through the remainder of October and the first week of November. A portion of Co. E was under the command of Capt. Avant. The other portion was detached as part of Capt. W. A. Rorer's Company, who had signed this roll for the entire company.
Capt. Avant then reported that his company was last mustered at Coldwater, Mississippi on the thirty-first of October. Since the last muster this company has marched from Coldwater to Holly Springs, Mississippi, a distance of six miles. From Holly Springs the company marched to Tippah Ford on the south bank of the Tallahatchie River. On November eleventh they arrived at Tippah Ford, after marching a distance of twenty-five miles. There they remained for the balance of the month.
Capt. Avant reported that on the first of December they moved toward Oxford, Mississippi, and then commenced falling back towards Grenada, Mississippi. The weather was very bad and the roads were badly cut up. Company E arrived at the Grenada on the sixth of December, after marching a distance of sixty miles and encamped one mile to the east of the town and remained there overnight. On the morning of December seven they marched some five miles to the eastward on Groveport Road and encamped at Camp Lovell.
First Lieutenent F. W. Keyes of Company C wrote in his report of December seven: We arrived the evening of December seventh and encamped some six miles east of Grenada. The company is poorly supplied with camp and garrison equipage. It has no picks, no shovels, no spades, and but two axes and two tents and a very limited supply of cooking utensils. The ration of meat is one and one-quarter pounds of the poorest kind of beef. The company has not received from the quartermaster department, since its return from prison, any of the books or blanks necessary in the conduct and the government of the company.
The regiment was in active service along the Central Mississippi Railroad during Gen. Grant's advance southward from Memphis in December of eighteen sixty-two and fell back to Grenada on the sixth and seventh when the pressure was relieved by Gen. Van Dorn's raid on Holly Springs. They remained encamped at Camp Lovell through the remainder of eighteen sixty-two and the first month of eighteen sixty-three.
Near the first of February in eighteen sixty-three the regiment was ordered to report to Port Hudson, Louisiana. They proceeded as far south as Osyka, Mississippi, where they camped for a few days. There the order was countermanded, and they were sent back to Grenada and then to Greenwood, Mississippi, where they served under the command of Gen. Loring in the defense of Fort Pemberton against the Federal naval and infantry expedition on Yazoo Pass. In his report the commander of Company G stated that the company and the regiment traveled down the Tallahatchie River from Greneda to Greenwood on board the steamer Sharp. The Twentieth Mississippi Regiment arrived on the twenty-eighth of February and was the second command to arrive at Fort Pemberton. There they were under artillery fire for several weeks.
In his report of March twenty-second Maj. Gen. Loring stated that he had left Jackson on the seventeenth of February with the view of finding some suitable place on the Yazoo River to erect works and place obstructions to the expected passage of the Federal troops down the Yazoo River on the way to Vicksburg. He also said that, though the weather was inclement during most of the campaign, he was able to throw up a line of works composed of cotton bales covered with earth extending from the Yazoo River to the Tallahatchie River.
The fort was under attack on the eleventh of March by the iron-clad turret-boat Chillicothe in the morning and the iron-clad DeKalb in the evening. Both attacks, which included a total of nine gunboats and twenty-four transports, were repelled, the afternoon group with great injury. On the thirteenth the fort endured more than four hours of continuous fire during the afternoon from both gunboats and land guns and then endured even more fire that evening. On the fourteenth the land batteries opened on the fort again, and on the fifteenth a grand assault was expected. On the sixteenth the iron-clads opened on the fort shortly after noon, and the land batteries kept up their fire until sunset.
On the twentieth of March the Federals commenced a precipitate up the Tallahatchie River shortly before noon. Some Confederate regiments were sent in pursuit. On the twenty-third the Federals were back in force in their gunboats in the afternoon. On the first of April the Federals were observed erecting a land battery which consisted of three thirty-two pounders, and on the third another large re-enforcement was observed. After re-enforcements arrived in early April the attack was renewed, and a Federal infantry and artillery force was landed. There were skirmishes until the fourth of April, when Gen. Loring's expedition withdrew.
In his report of the operations of March at Fort Pemberton Gen. Loring commended Col. Brown, commanding, and Capt. Cantey and the Twentieth Mississippi for important aid in collecting material for a large raft while in readiness to defend our works. (The raft was used as an obstruction in the river.) He also thanked Col. Russell for the aid rendered during the last engagement.
On the fourteenth of April the regiment left Fort Pemberton by steamer and was transported to down the Yazoo River to Yazoo City, Mississippi, where they arrived on the fifteenth. In the reports of Company G and Company I, the commanders stated that they, and the regiment, traveled on the Prince of Wales. Upon arriving at Yazoo City the regiment marched and encamped some four miles from town on Plank Road. On the sixteenth the regiment left Yazoo City and marched twenty-five miles to the east to Vaughan's Station, which was located on the Mississippi Central Railroad. They arrived at Vaughan's near noon and early afternoon on the seventeenth, and a short time later they took the cars to Jackson, arriving at eleven o'clock that night to one o'clock the next morning.
On the nineteenth, after spending a stormy night in Jackson, the regiment marched some ten miles west to Clinton on a truly awful road. Then on the twenty-fifth they marched back to Jackson. Soon after arriving in Jackson, an order was issued by Lt. Gen. Pemberton that the Twentieth Mississippi was to be mounted. A raid into Mississippi by the Union Cavalry under Col. B. H. Grierson caused Lt. Gen. Pemberton to write to Lt. Col. W. N. Brown authorizing him to mount part of his brigade and send a detachment in search of Col. Grierson.
In Jackson on the twenty-eighth and twenty-ninth of April, Companies C, D, and G were mounted, placed under the command of Maj. Walter A. Rorer and Col. Robert V. Richardson (of Tennessee), and ordered in pursuit of Col. Grierson's Federal Cavalry. They pursued the Federals as far as Greensburg, Louisiana, and, failing to overtake them, returned to Jackson on the twelfth of May. They were then ordered to Edwards Depot, where they arrived on the thirteenth. In his report of May fifth, Col. Richardson said that "the soldierly qualities of Maj. Rorer, his officers and men, never complaining, always ready for duty and anxious to meet and punish the foe, won my admiration."
After arriving at Edwards Depot the three companies joined with Col. Wirt Adams' Cavalry Regiment. They were a part of the advance guard of Gen. Pemberton's Army that evening where they skirmished with Federal troops at Chapel Hill Church. After the skirmish they retired to another road some two and one-half miles south of the church and bivouacked for the night. On the fourteenth they moved out in the direction of Raymond, Mississippi. They were dismounted and, along with three other companies ( including Company K) of the regiment, engaged in a skirmish at Dillon's Bridge over Four-Mile Creek. The six companies held in check at that point a column of Federals some eighteen thousand strong from near sunrise to two o'clock that afternoon. When forced to retire they were ordered to Bottom's Depot.
On the sixteenth companies C and G, along with most of the regiment, were actively engaged in the Battle of Champion Hill (Baker's Creek) near Edwards Depot. On that morning Company C was deployed on foot as skirmishers and engaged the Federals for a while before retiring upon the main Army. During the day they were ordered to the extreme left of Gen. Pemberton's Army, dismounted and deployed as skirmishers, remaining there until dark. The company sustained no losses during the day, and each man behaved himself well when under the fire of the Federal muskets and cannons. They were ordered to report to Vicksburg with the regiment on the nineteenth, and they reached Gen. Stevenson's headquarters in the evening. There they received orders to report to Maj. Gen. W. W. Loring in Jackson and await his orders.
After the skirmish at Champion Hill, Company G was detached with Maj. Rorer and marched west of the Big Black River Bridge where they were actively engaged several times. They remained there with Maj. Rorer until June thirteenth when the regiment was dismounted.
Company E was mounted on the twenty-ninth of April and was ordered, under the command of Col. Brown, to report to Grand Gulf, Mississippi, some sixty miles to the west southwest. They arrived at Grand Gulf on the first of May and reported to Gen. John W. Bowen. The company was immediately detailed as couriers and guards for Federal prisoners. They were actively engaged in the retreat from Grand Gulf to the Big Black River Bridge, having lost one man as a prisoner during the retreat. On the fifth of May the company was ordered to the extreme front to picket and to scout at and around Hawkins Ferry in Warren County, Mississippi. Then when the Army fell back from Edwards Depot and the Big Black River Bridge, the company went into Vicksburg on the nineteenth.
On April thirtieth Company F was mounted and received marching orders to report to Grand Gulf. They began their march on May first and arrived there on May second. They left Grand Gulf that night and retreated north with the Army, crossing the Big Black at Hankinson's Ferry. Then they marched to Bovina. On the fifth they were ordered to report to Gen.Carter L. Stevenson and were ordered by the general to do picket duty at Baldwin's Ferry and Hall's Ferry on the Big Black. They remained there for two weeks, and moved into Vicksburg with the regiment on the nineteenth.
On the second of May Company A was mounted and proceeded west to Edwards Depot where it was engaged in picketing and scouting duties. They were engaged in a skirmish on the fifth, another skirmish at Fourteen-Mile Creek on the twelfth, and at the Battle of Champion's Hill (Baker's Creek) on the sixteenth. At Baker's Creek Capt. Henry Cantey was killed. On the seventeenth they crossed the Big Black Bridge and picketed Baldwin's and Hall's Ferry Road until twelve o'clock on the nineteenth. Then they were ordered into Vicksburg with the regiment.
Company K was also mounted on the second of May and ordered to Edwards Depot, some thirty miles away. After they arrived that evening they were ordered to join Company A in picketing and scouting the roads leading to the south and to the west. About the eighth of May a detachment of twenty men from companies A and K were sent out under the command of Lt. Hale of Company A. By an unforseen move of the Federals five of the men from Company K were captured.
On May fourteenth the company was actively engaged, along with five other companies, in a hot skirmish at Dillon's bridge. Company K sustained no losses. That morning they reported to Gen. Gregg and retreated from Raymond. On the fifteenth the company was involved in quite a skirmish at Chapel Hill Church in Hinds County. On the morning of the sixteenth they joined several other companies of the regiment at the Battle of Champion Hill. Company K began skirmishing early in the morning on the upper Raymond Road. After an hour's engagement they were ordered to report to Gen. Stevenson. The company was dismounted and ordered to assist in supporting a section of artillery who contested the position for some two and one-half hours. They were compelled to retire before overwhelming numbers, leaving many brave soldiers dead and wounded on the field.
In the engagement at Champion Hill, Maj. Rorer commanded the companies of the Twentieth Mississippi. He was seen continually going up and down the line encouraging and directing the men as though no death messengers were nigh, exhibiting that noble daring and eminent tact which has through the campaigns rendered him so dear to every man in the regiment. After the engagement the companies retired a short distance and took a position which prevented the Federals from capturing our train which was passing down the Vicksburg Road. It was reported that six companies of the Twentieth Mississippi guarded the wagon train on the retreat from Edwards to the Big Black River. They held their position until dark.
At four o'clock on the morning of the seventeenth Company K was ordered to relieve Company B on the lines. A few minutes afterward the Federal pickets began approaching, and the company began to skirmish with them while gradually falling back to the Big Black River Bridge by order of Gen. Vaughn. The company was then sent to picket Baldwin's Ferry Road. On the nineteenth the company was ordered to report to Gen. Stevenson in Vicksburg. They arrived about noon and left about three o'clock that evening in search of Gen. Loring's, supposed to be lost, command.
On the tenth of May Company H was mustered in Jackson. On the sixteenth they left Jackson with the Army of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston where they arrived at Calhoun Station on the seventeenth. They then left Calhoun Station under the command of Brig. Gen. Adams in the direction of Livingston where they camped that night. A few days afterward they left for Yazoo City, crossing the Big Black River at Cox's Ferry, and marching on to Mechanicsburg. They were involved in two skirmishes while at Mechanicsburg and a third skirmish in early June while on scout on Boon Creek Road in the direction of Vicksburg. A short report from Company I stated that they were involved in the same two skirmishes in May, and they reported no loss while in action on the fourth of June.
Company B left no report of its activities of late April and early May.
Capt. Avant of Company E reported that his men swam the Big Black River on the morning of the twentieth, and on the twenty-first came to the Terry Depot on the New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern Railroad without meeting any of the Federal troops. On the twenty-fourth of May they, along with five other companies of the twentieth, the Eighth Kentucky Regiment, captured the town of Raymond, taking about five hundred prisoners, many arms and much ammunition, and some horses, which were properly returned over to the Quartermaster Department and accounted for. That evening Company E escorted one hundred sixty-eight prisoners into Jackson, and on the twenty-fifth they rejoined the command at Parson Ford's Plantation some three miles from Clinton. They remained there for almost three weeks while they picketed and scouted all the roads in Hinds County leading to and from Big Black River. Then they received orders to report to Vernon to be dismounted. They arrived at Vernon on the evening of June thirteenth, were dismounted the morning of the fourteenth, and marched five miles toward Canton before they stopped and encamped. Then on the twentieth of June they rejoined the brigade.
On the twenty-third of May Company F was ordered to move from Terry Station in the direction of Raymond and Edwards Depot. They remained on duty in that vicinity until they received orders on the thirteenth of June to move to Vernon and be dismounted.
On the twenty-fourth of May Companies C, D, E, and K reported as being part of the force that captured Raymond. Companies A and B were also engaged there. Companies F, G, H, and I reported being involved with activities elsewhere.
Companies C, F, and G all reported receiving orders to report to Vernon, where they were dismounted rejoined their former infantry command and took their place in the First Brigade of the First Division of the Army of Mississippi and East Louisiana
Brig. Gen. John Adams reported from Mechanicsburg that a Federal expedition moved against him on the fourth of June, and they were met with four companies of the Twentieth under Maj. Rorer, who skirmished at Bear Creek bridge at daylight, ambushed them seven times, and greatly delayed their advance. Maj. Rorer's troops also skirmished with the same troops near Bridgeport on the ninth. All of the companies and most of the men were involved in many skirmishes and daring adventures during this period.
The regiment was dismounted on the fourteenth of June by order of Gen. Joseph Eggleston Johnston. After being dismounted the regiment encamped a short time near Beattie's Bluff and then was ensconced in the bush near Vernon. They had resumed their former station in Adams' Brigade of Loring's Division of the troops Lt. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston for the relief of Vicksburg. Upon the surrender of Vicksburg on the fourth of July, Gen. Johnston's Army fell back to Jackson.
Most of the information in this short history came from:
|[BACK TO HOME PAGE]||[Go to Part 3]||[Back to Part 1]|