Saturday, October 10, 2020

Diary of 5th Sergeant Osborn H. Oldroyd: June 13, 1863

Shrapnel.—Containing 80 musket balls, fired at
Vicksburg.The conception of this missile is due to
Lieut. Gen’l Henry Shrapnel, of the English army.
Its velocity is about 1,000 feet per second.

The siege continues with increased fury, and the boom of cannon announces the sacrifice of more lives. Instead of any cessation the artillery plays upon the city almost every moment throughout the day. The variety of the projectiles becomes greater. The shrapnel, I think, must be most formidable to the enemy. It is a shell filled with eighty small balls, which, when the shell is exploded, scatter in every direction. It makes a fearful buzzing sound as it flies—a warning to seek cover, if such can be found. Besides this there are the parrot, cannister, grape and solid shot. The cannister and grape are also cases wherein are enclosed a number of small balls. But the least fragment from an exploded shell is sufficient to wound or kill.

I have a great curiosity to see the court house at Vicksburg. It stands on a hill, and seems to be the target for many cannon. There is a Confederate flag waving from it defiantly. A proud day it will be when we haul it down and raise in its stead the stars and stripes, never to be displaced again. The buildings in the city must, by this time, be pretty well riddled with shot and shell. The women, it seems, did not all leave the city before the bombardment began, and I suppose they have determined to brave it out. Their sacrifices and privations are worthy of a better cause, and were they but on our side how we would worship them.

Cannister shot is a tin cylinder with iron heads. Filled with balls packed with saw-dust. The heads are movable, and the edges of the tin are turned down over them to hold them in place. The balls are made of such a size that seven of them can lie in a bed. One in the Middle and six around. These balls are made of cast iron, and are 28 in number.

t is rumored in camp that Grant is getting reinforcements from the eastern army. I have a great desire to see them, for while we have always thought them to be no less brave, they are said to be better clothed and equipped than the western boys. In fact, from the eastern army, during the last year, the standing report among western boys has been merely such catch phrases as “Bull Run,” 

“Burnside Crossing the Rappahannock,” “All Quiet on the Potomac.” Perhaps such reports or their substance will continue to fill the headlines of news from those departments until Lincoln commissions Grant commander of the whole army. Should that occur, one grand move forward will be made and the Southern confederacy will be crushed forever. 

We are doing all we can to expedite the glorious victory awaiting us here, yet there are grumblers in the North who are complaining of our slow progress, and treasonable articles are published in some papers that come to us from the North, intended to discourage the soldiers. Why don't Grant move? If we had all those grumblers in Vicksburg, I fancy they would soon find something from Grant was moving quite briskly. But Grant does not idle away his time himself, nor let his men be idle. If the people of the North will but back us up with their aid and confidence, we shall feel well repaid for all the sufferings we endure here, staring death in the face, and standing like a solid wall between their homes and danger. 

Let not a murmur meet the ear, 
Nor discontent have sway; 
Let not a sullen brow appear 
Through all the camp to-day. 

SOURCE: Osborn Hamiline Oldroyd, A Soldier's Story of the Siege of Vicksburg, p. 51-3

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