Friday, April 4, 2008

The 6th Regiment. Letter from Lieut. Alden.

Owing to the disturbance of mail arrangements, this letter did not reach us until yesterday. Ed.

Jackson Mississippi
July 18th 1863

Dear Sentinel:

After a long silence, I will again write you a few lines, in regard to the where-a-bouts and doings of the 6th Iowa.

Immediately after the capitulation of the Rebel Garrison at Vicksburg, your division was ordered to Big Black River, where we arrived on the evening of the 4th of July, at the only point of crossing above the R. R. Bridge, where a strong force of Jacksons Rebel Cavalry was posted to prevent our crossing. Gen. Smith selected our regt. And ordered us to cross the river at Bridsing Ferry, and to hold the position till he could send us support. The only means of crossing was two canoes lashed together, but the scouts [now] coming in, pronounced the river fordable, and Col. Corse determined to cross the stream by wading. We arrived at the river at 9 P.M. and to our consternation found it had risen 3 feet, so that it would have been madness to attempt a crossing on foot. Half a doz. Men were selected, and ordered to cross the river in the canoe, and ascertain if the enemy was still there. When they had got into the middle of the stream a volley of musketry was fired upon them, and they were compelled to retreat to the west side again. Fortunately none in the boat was hurt. A brisk fight was then kept up all night across the stream, and at daylight it commenced in earnest, and at 9 A. M. we had driven them from the river. The most of our army crossed that day. Our loss was one killed, and 9 wounded. We buried 7 rebels and found several of their wounded, tho' they had taken the most of their wounded away.

We arrived at this place in front of the enemy’s works on the10th inst., and our Regiment was again put in the front. We skirmished with the rebels from 3 p.m. until dark, having driven their pickets a half a mile. At 4 o’clock on the morning of the 11th, our Regiment was deployed as skirmishers, and moved forward, fighting over the ground from which the enemy retreated, until we were within half a mile, and in sight of the enemy’s works. Our loss on the 11th was three killed and nine wounded. On the morning of the 16th our regiment was again placed in the front, and ordered to charge the enemy’s works (it was then thought they were evacuating, which was not the case) which we did with credit to ourselves, as the following letter from Gen. Smith, commanding the first Division will show:

H’d Quarters 1st Div. Army Corps
In front of Jackson, Miss.
July 16th 1863

John M. Corse, Col. Commanding the 6th Iowa Infantry


The valor of your noble Regiment has been conspicuous, even amidst the universal good conduct that has marked the operation of all the troops of the 7th Division during our advance upon Jackson, and since our arrival here. I cannot too highly commend the gallantry you have displayed in the two successful charges you have made. The true heart swells with emotions of pride in contemplating the heroism of those who, in their country’s cause, can go forward under the iron hail of half a dozen rebel batteries and exposed to a murderous fire of musketry from behind strong entrenchments, and capture prisoners under their very guns. Such has been the glorious conduct of the Sixth Iowa this morning, and those who shared your dangers and emulate your value, will join with me in tendering to you and the brave men you command my warmest thanks and most hearty congratulations.

Most truly yours,

Wm. S. Smith
Brig. Gen. Commanding

The loss in our Regiment on the 16th was 29 wounded, 3 killed and 7 missing. Cap. Minton, of Company “F,” was severely wounded in the breast, arm, back and neck. The surgeons think he will recover. Lieut. A. C. Rarick, of Company “F,” wounded slightly in the neck. – Thomas Gray; Com. “F,” in leg, slightly. [Elam] Ford, Co. F, in ankle, slightly. – H. C. Stewart, in leg, severely. Joseph Wry, in hip severely.

Charles Griggs, Company “B,” Killed. William Brown, Company B, wounded in arm, severely. Corp. J. C. Lucas, in both legs severely.

The following men are missing since the engagement of the 16th, supposed to be prisoners

James. M. Laughlin, Com. B, F. B. Johnson, James Wilson and A. N. Sharp of Co. F.

The rebels evacuated this place on the night of the 16th, leaving large lots of ammunition and commissary stores behind them. We succeeded in capturing most of their rear guard – about two thousand men.

Our wounded are all doing well.

My facilities for writing are poor and having but little time I will cut this short.

Yours truly,

Ed. F. Alden

- Published in The Union Sentinel, Osceola, Iowa, August 15, 1863

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