Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Diary of Sergeant George G. Smith: May 25, 1863

[In the morning] we marched three miles further round towards the enemy's right, in the rear of some woods where the 91st New York deployed as skirmishers, and the First Louisiana fell into line as a reserve. The skirmishers had penetrated the woods but a short distance when they encountered the enemy's pickets and a sharp engagement was commenced, but the enemy soon gave way before advancing skirmishers. After pursuing them about half a mile, they obtained our range with three heavy guns from their works and we were obliged to fall back to their old encampment. We were not yet out of range, but the ground falling off in the opposite direction, his shot and shells flew harmlessly, hissing over our heads. After dark a serious catasttrophe happened on our left. The 31st Massachusetts stationed there mistook the 91st N. Y. on picket guard for the enemy, and fired into them. It cost the life of a captain of the 31st Massachusetts, but none of the 91st New York was injured.

The union line of investment was said to be seven miles long, from the river above Port Hudson to the river below. General Banks had most all the forces in the Department of the Gulf there; and were all stationed ready to invest the works preparatory to an assault. One in my position could not of course be expected to know much more than what was transacted directly under his own observation, so that those who desire a more extended view of the operations of the army during this siege must consult those who had better opportunities for observation than the writer of these pages.

SOURCE: Abstracted from George G. Smith, Leaves from a Soldier's Diary, p. 56-8

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