Showing posts with label Vicksburg. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vicksburg. Show all posts

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Diary of 5th Sergeant Osborn H. Oldroyd: June 10, 1863

The heat of the sun increases, and we must improve our quarters. Accordingly a part of the day has been spent in cutting cane and building bunks with it on the side of the hill. Such improvements protect us better from the sun.

Last night I sat on the top of a hill a while, watching the mortar shells flying into the city from the river. High into the air they leaped, and, like falling stars, dropped, exploding among the houses and shaking even the very hills. The lighted fuse of each shell could be seen as it went up and came down, and occasionally I have seen as many as three of them in the air at once. The fuse is so gauged as to explode the shell within a few feet of the ground. The destruction being thus wrought in the city must be very great. We learn from prisoners that the inhabitants are now living in caves dug out of the sides of the hills. Alas! for the women, children and aged in the city, for they must suffer, indeed, and, should the siege continue several months, many deaths from sickness as well as from our shells, must occur. I am sure Grant has given Pemberton a chance to remove from Vicksburg all who could not be expected to take part in the fearful struggle. 

We have been looking for rain to cool the air and lay the dust, and this afternoon we were gratified by a heavy shower. 

SOURCE: Osborn Hamiline Oldroyd, A Soldier's Story of the Siege of Vicksburg, p. 49

Diary of 5th Sergeant Osborn H. Oldroyd: June 11, 1863

Stayed in camp to-day with the exception of about an hour. The rebs have succeeded in planting a mortar, which has sent a few big shells into our quarters. This sort of practice did not last long, for a hundred guns around our line soon roared the mortar to silence. But one shell dropped near my tent, buried itself in the earth, and exploded, scattering dirt for yards around and leaving a hole big enough to bury a horse. Another fell on top of the hill and rolled down, crashing through a tent, The occupants not being at home it failed to find a welcome.

These shells are visitors we do not care to see in camp, for their movements are so clumsy they are apt to break things as they go. However, they are rather rare, while the bullets are so frequent that we have almost ceased to notice them. Their flights remind us of the dropping of leaves and twigs from the trees around us. The balls of lead as they fall are found bent and flattened in every conceivable shape. A friend from the 96th Ohio, on a visit to me, as he walked over, met a rebel bullet which took a piece out of his arm.

SOURCE: Osborn Hamiline Oldroyd, A Soldier's Story of the Siege of Vicksburg, p. 49-50

Diary of 5th Sergeant Osborn H. Oldroyd: June 12, 1863

We expect to be paid off soon, as the pay-rolls are now being made out. Money cannot do us much good here among the hills, but we can send it home. Many a family is dependent upon the thirteen dollars a month drawn here by the head of it. 

When the war is over, how many soldiers will be unable to earn. even their own living, to say nothing of that of their families, all on account of wounds or disability incurred in the service. I have heard many a one say he would rather be shot dead in a fight than lose a limb, and thus be compelled to totter through life disabled. But I know our country will be too magnanimous to neglect its brave defenders who have fought its battles till they have become incapacitated for further service. I know we are not fighting for a country that will let its soldiers beg for a living. 

We have now but a year left of the term of our enlistment, and the boys are already talking about what they will do. Some say they will stay till peace comes, no matter how long may be the delay, and I think the majority are of this mind. A few, however, will seek their homes when their time runs out, should this war last so long, and the Lord and rebel bullets spare them. For myself, I shall stay, if I can, till the stars and stripes float in triumph once more over all the land. 

Here are a few lines : 


You started at your country's call 
     To tread the fields of blood and strife, 
Consenting to give up your all- 
     All, even to your very life. 
And many storms of leaden rain 
     And iron hail have been your lot; 
While yet among the number slain 
     The dear ones North have read you not. 
Oh, may you safely yet return 
     To those who wait your coming, too; 
May their fond hearts not vainly yearn 
     To greet you when the war is through. 
But, though I wish you back in peace, 
     'Tis not a peace that quite disarms- 
'Tis not a full and sure release, 
     You simply take up other arms. 

SOURCE: Osborn Hamiline Oldroyd, A Soldier's Story of the Siege of Vicksburg, p. 50-1

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

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Diary of 5th Sergeant Osborn H. Oldroyd: Sunday, June 14, 1863

No bells to ring us to church. I wish we had one day in seven for rest and freedom from care; but there is no such thing now for the soldier. It is shoot, shoot, dodge, dodge, from morning to night, without cessation, except when we are asleep. When the time comes, we can lie down and sleep soundly all night, right under our cannon, firing over us all the time, without disturbing us in the least. But let the long roll be sounded—every man is up at the first tap-for that sound we know means business for us. 

Occasionally the rebs plant a mortar in some out of the way spot and drop a shell or two into our midst; but a few well directed shots from our big guns at the rear soon settle them. These rebels obey very well. 

We have several large siege guns, lately planted in the rear of our division, which it took ten yoke of oxen to haul, one at a time, to their places. I had been told that the balls from these guns could be seen on their journey, and could not believe it until I put myself in range of the monsters, just behind them, when I found I could see the balls distinctly, as they flew across the hills towards Vicksburg. These guns are nine-inch calibre and they are about twelve feet long. They are monsters, and their voices are very loud. 

Sunday is general inspection day, and the officers passed through our quarters at 10 A. M., finding our guns and accoutrements bright and clean. If any young lady at the North needs a good housekeeper, she can easily be accommodated by making a requisition on the 20th Ohio. In fact we can all do patchwork, sew on buttons, make beds and sweep; but I do not think many of us will follow the business after the war is done, for the “relief” always so anxiously looked for by the soldiers must then come. 

I heard one of our boys—a high private in the rear rank-lament that he was 

“Only a private, and who will care 
When I shall pass away?” 

Poor lad, he was in a sad way! But it was mere homesickness that ailed him. If dissatisfied with his position as a private, let him wait, for if he survives the war, he will, no doubt, have a chance to be captain of an infantry company. 

SOURCE: Osborn Hamiline Oldroyd, A Soldier's Story of the Siege of Vicksburg, p. 53-4

Friday, September 25, 2020

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 2, 1864

So lax has become Gen. Winder's rule, or deficient, or worse, the vigilance of his detectives,—the rogues and cut-throats,—one of them keeps a mistress in a house the rent of which is more than his salary, that five Jews, the other day, cleared out in a schooner laden with tobacco, professedly for Petersburg, but sailed directly to the enemy. They had with them some $10,000 in gold; and as they absconded to avoid military service in the Confederate States, no doubt they imparted all the information they could to the enemy.

Mr. Benjamin, Secretary of State, asked the Secretary of War to-day to make such arrangements as would supply the State Department with regular files of Northern papers. They sometimes have in them important diplomatic correspondence, and the perusal of this is about all the Secretary of State has to do.

It is rumored that the Hon. Robert Toombs has been arrested in Georgia for treason. I cannot believe it, but I know he is inimical to the President.

The British papers again seem to sympathise with us.

Senator Orr writes to the Secretary that a resolution of the Senate, asking for copies of Gen. Beauregard's orders in 1862 for the fortification of Vicksburg (he was the first to plan the works which made such a glorious defense), and also a resolution calling for a copy of Gen. B.'s charges against Col. ——, had not been responded to by the President. He asks that these matters may be brought to the President's attention.

The weather is beautiful and spring-like again, and we may soon have some news both from Tennessee and North Carolina. From the latter I hope we shall get some of the meat endangered by the proximity of the enemy.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 140-1

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Diary of 5th Sergeant Osborn H. Oldroyd: June 7, 1863

The 20th was at the front all day, sharp shooting. There is a good deal of danger in this kind of business, but we have our fun at it notwithstanding. Another effigy hoisted a little above our rifle-pits, in an instant drew the fire of the enemy. It was our ruse to get them to raise their heads a little, and when they did, we fired back, and the result generally justified the refrain to which our thoughts were moving,

Should a rebel show his pate,
To withdraw he'll prove too late.

We have caught them that way several times.

We still keep unshaken confidence in General Grant, and the ultimate success of our cause. We shall stand firm at our posts, yielding cheerful obedience to all orders, and march bravely on without halting to wrangle and grumble at every imaginary shortcoming in our officers, while our country is in such distress, and when her cries are borne to us upon every breeze. To be in Grant's army, McPherson's corps, Logan's division and the 20th Ohio, commanded by our brave and courteous colonel, M. F. Force, is to be as well off as any soldier in any army in the world.

SOURCE: Osborn Hamiline Oldroyd, A Soldier's Story of the Siege of Vicksburg, p. 46

Diary of 5th Sergeant Osborn H. Oldroyd: June 8, 1863

Another day born in the midst of the rattle of shot and shell. Each day finds us more firmly entrenched amid these hills, until we begin to feel ourselves impregnable.

I visited one of the teeming hospitals to see some boys, and it made me sad enough to look upon some who will soon pass from these scenes of strife. One smooth-cheeked little artillery lad closed his eyes forever, with a last lingering look upon the flag he had hoped to see waving over Vicksburg. His last look was at the flag—his last word was “mother!” Poor boy, when he left home he knew little of the hardships and privations to be endured. War is quite another thing from what my schooldays pictured it. I used to think the two contending armies would march face to face and fire at each other, column by column, but experience has shown me a very different picture, for when the command to fire is given it is often when each man must fire at will, taking shelter where he can, without going too far from his line.

SOURCE: Osborn Hamiline Oldroyd, A Soldier's Story of the Siege of Vicksburg, p. 46

Diary of 5th Sergeant Osborn H. Oldroyd: June 9, 1863

Digging a mine under Fort Hill, with a cotton car as protection from
the enemy's bullets.
To-day our regiment was at the front. The rebels kept pretty quiet; they are learning to behave very well. In fact they might as well lie low and save their powder.

The Yankee Lookout.
Our men have been employed digging a ditch leading up to Fort Hill, when they intend tunneling and blowing up the fort. The rebels, however, have got range of the men digging, and have fired upon them. The answering Yankee trick was to shove a car of cotton bales over the trench toward the fort, while the men worked behind it. This served a good purpose for awhile, till the rebs managed to set it on fire; not to be out-done, our boys pushed forward another car well soaked with water. Another Yankee device was contrived—a tower, ten or twelve feet high, with steps inside running to the top, where was hung a looking-glass in such a position as to catch and reflect, to a man inside the tower, the interior of the enemy's fort and rifle pits, and thus every man and gun could be counted. This latter contrivance, however, did not last long; it became too conspicuous and dangerous for use.

A report creeps into camp that Johnston is coming with fifty thousand men to raise the siege, but I do not believe it. We have often heard that Richmond had fallen, but it continues within the confederate lines. If the army of the Potomac does not soon take it, Grant will march us there and seize the prize from them.

Sheltered from the sun, but not the enemy's shells.

 SOURCE: Osborn Hamiline Oldroyd, A Soldier's Story of the Siege of Vicksburg, p. 47-9

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

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

The siege is still progressing favorably. There is joy in our camp, for Uncle Sam has again opened a clothing store, which we shall patronize, asking nothing about price or quality. The boys cheered lustily when they saw the teams drive in, and heard what they were loaded with. However, I don't want to hug rifle-pits with a brand new suit on, for it would soon get dirty.

SOURCE: Osborn Hamiline Oldroyd, A Soldier's Story of the Siege of Vicksburg, p. 45

Diary of 5th Sergeant Osborn H. Oldroyd: June 6, 1863

Still banging away. I took a horseback ride around the line to the left in the rear of McClernand's corps. Everywhere I went I was met with the familiar zip, zip, of rebel bullets flying promiscuously through the air. I read a northern rebel paper, received by a member of the 96th Ohio, filled with false statements about the soldiers around Vicksburg. It said a great many of Grant's soldiers were deserting. This is of course false, for I have heard of but two deserting their flag in time of need. Those two will never be able to look their old comrades in the face, for if they escape the penalty of death, disgrace and ignominy will not only follow them through life, but stamp their memories and lineage with infamy. The scorn of every loyal soldier will follow these cowards who have deserted in the face of the foe. No true-hearted mother or father can welcome the return of such recreants, who not only disgrace themselves but all their kindred. This paper also stated that the soldiers around Vicksburg are dying off like flies. This is another falsehood, for the army is in good health and spirits, and looking forward to victory with assurance.

SOURCE: Osborn Hamiline Oldroyd, A Soldier's Story of the Siege of Vicksburg, p. 45-6

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Diary of 5th Sergeant Osborn H. Oldroyd: June 4, 1863

We move at last. We left camp as the sun rose, reaching our old quarters in front of the rebel Fort Hill in the afternoon. Glad we are to get here. A great change has taken place during our ten days' absence. More rifle-pits have been made and new batteries erected, and our lines generally have been pushed closer to the works of the enemy. Mines are being dug, and we shall soon see something flying in the air in front of us, when those mines explode. The work is being done very secretly, for it would not do to have the rebels find out our plans. Fort Hill in our front and on the Jackson road is said to be the key to Vicksburg. We have tried often to turn this key, but have as often failed. In fact, the lock is not an easy one. The underground work now going on will perhaps break the lock with an explosion. Our return to camp from our excursion after Johnston creates some excitement among those who stayed behind. They all want to hear about our trip, and what we saw and conquered. Our clothes are so dirty and ragged, that though we have sewed and patched, and patched and sewed, Uncle Sam would hardly recognize those nice blue suits he gave us a little while ago. This southern sun pours down a powerful heat, which compels us to keep as quiet as possible. Just a month from today we celebrate our Fourth of July-where, I do not know, but inside of Vicksburg, I hope.

I have asked both officers and men to write in an album I have opened since reaching our old post near the city, and here are a few of their contributions:

Friend O.: Here is hoping we may see the stars and stripes float over the court house in Vicksburg on the Fourth of July, and also that we may see this rebellion, in which so many of our comrades have fallen, come to an end, while we live on to enjoy a peace secured by our arms. Then hurrah for the Buckeye girls. Your sincere friend,

“HENRY H. Fulton,
" Company E, 20th Ohio.”

“Here is hoping we may have the pleasure of zweiglass of lager in Vicksburg, on July 4th.

“ Company A, 96th Ohio.”

I hope we shall be able to spend the coming Fourth in the famous city before us, and to have a glorification there over our victories.

“Company E, 20th Ohio.”

“Here is hoping that by the glorious Fourth, and by the force of our arms, we shall penetrate their boasted Gibraltar.

“Company E, 20th Ohio.”

“I offer you this toast: Though you have seen many hardships, let me congratulate you on arriving safely so near Vicksburg. May the besieged city fall in time for you and all our boys to take a glass of lager on the Fourth of July; and may the boys of the Twentieth be the first to taste the article they have duly won.

“Company G, 20th Ohio.”

SOURCE: Osborn Hamiline Oldroyd, A Soldier's Story of the Siege of Vicksburg, p. 43-5

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Diary of 5th Sergeant Osborn H. Oldroyd: June 2, 1863

Receiving supplies at Chickasaw Bayou for the army around Vicksburg.

We stayed in camp again all day, and I improved the time strolling through the camps, forts and rifle pits, which had been deserted by the Confederates. They seem to have left their quarters rather unceremoniously, for they abandoned siege guns, with tents, wagons, clothing and ammunition scattered about in confusion. I thought, while camped here, they seemed to feel quite secure. They frequently looked towards the Yazoo, and defied our boats to come up. However, when the boats did come, with Sherman in the rear, they beat a hasty retreat to the inside of Vicksburg.

As our duties have been light to-day, the time has been occupied socially, by the boys reciting many little scenes of the past month. We conversed feelingly of those left behind on acount of sickness, or wounds, or death in battle. Only half our company is left now, and after two years more, what will have become of the rest? We shall fight on, perhaps, till the other half is gone. The friendship that now exists among our remnant is very firmly knit. Through our past two years of soldier life such ties of brotherhood have grown up as only companions in arms can know. And I trust before the end of another two years · the old flag will again float secure in every State in the Nation.

SOURCE: Osborn Hamiline Oldroyd, A Soldier's Story of the Siege of Vicksburg, p. 40-1

Diary of 5th Sergeant Osborn H. Oldroyd: June 3, 1863

The Bright Side of Siege LifeCamping in the Rear.

Expected to move to-day, but got orders instead to remain in camp. Have heard heavy cannonading towards Vicksburg. Would prefer to take our place in the line around the city rather than stay away, for there is glory in action. It may be very nice, occasionally, to rest in camp, but to hear firing and to snuff the battle afar off, creates a natural uneasiness. Besides, if the city should surrender in the meantime, we might be cheated out of our share in a prize, to the taking of which we have contributed some valuable assistance.

Newsboys are thick in camp, with the familiar cries, “Chicago Times” and “Cincinnati Commercial.” The papers sell quite freely. At home each man wants to buy a paper for himself, but here a single copy does for a whole company, and the one that buys it reads it aloud—a plan which suits the buyer very well, if not the seller. While some of these papers applaud the bravery of 3 the generals and their commands, and pray that the brilliancy of past achievements be not dimmed by dissensions in the face of the enemy, other papers lave articles that sound to us like treason, slandering the soldier and denouncing the government. But they can not discourage or demoralize this army, for it was never stronger or more determined than now, and it will continue to strike for our country, even though bleeding at every pore. The rebels can not be subdued, so they say. Why not? In two years have we not penetrated to the very center of the South? And in less than that time we shall be seen coming out, covered all over with victory, from the other side.

SOURCE: Osborn Hamiline Oldroyd, A Soldier's Story of the Siege of Vicksburg, p. 42-3

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Diary of 5th Sergeant Osborn H. Oldroyd: May 25, 1863

Burying the dead that had lain between the Union and Confederate
lines for three days.

Pemberton sent a flag of truce to Grant at two P. M., and the cessation of hostilities thus agreed on, lasted till eight o'clock in the evening. It made us happy, for we fancied it was a sign they wanted to surrender—but no such good luck. It was simply to give both sides a chance to bury their dead, which had been lying exposed since the twenty-second. Both armies issued from their respective fortifications and pits, and mingled together in various sports, apparently with much enjoyment. Here a group of four played cards—two Yanks and two Rebs. There, others were jumping, while everywhere blue and gray mingled in conversation over the scenes which had transpired since our visit to the neighborhood. I talked with a very sensible rebel, who said he was satisfied we should not only take Vicksburg, but drive the forces of the south all over their territory, at last compelling them to surrender; still, he said, he had gone into the fight, and was resolved not to back out. He said they had great hope of dissension in the north, to such an extent as might strengthen their cause. There have been grounds for this hope, I am sorry to say, and such dissensions at the north must prolong the war, if our peace party should succeed in materially obstructing the war measures of government. From the remarks of some of the rebels, I judged that their supply of provisions was getting low, and that they had no source from which to draw more. We gave them from our own rations some fat meat, crackers, coffee and so forth, in order to make them as happy as we could. We could see plainly that their officers watched our communications closely.

SOURCE: Osborn Hamiline Oldroyd, A Soldier's Story of the Siege of Vicksburg, p. 35-7

Diary of 5th Sergeant Osborn H. Oldroyd: May 26, 1863

Up this morning at three o'clock, with orders for three days' rations in our haversacks and five days' in the wagons—also to be ready to move at ten o'clock to the rear, in pursuit of Johnston, who was thrusting his bayonets too close to our boys there.

I am not anxious to get away from the front, yet a little marching in the country will be quite a desirable change, and no doubt beneficial to our men. I have been afraid we might be molested in the rear, for we were having our own way too smoothly to last. I think the confederate authorities are making a great mistake in not massing a powerful army in our rear and thus attempting to break our lines and raise the siege. We shall attend to Johnston, for Grant has planted his line so firmly that he can spare half his men to look out for his rear. What a change we notice to-day, from the time spent around the city, where there was no sound except from the zipping bullets and booming cannon; while out here in the country the birds sing as sweetly as if they had not heard of war at all. Here, too, we get an exchange from the smoky atmosphere around Vicksburg, to heaven's purest breezes.

We have marched to-day over the same ground for which we fought to gain our position near the city. Under these large spreading oaks rest the noble dead who fell so lately for their country. This march has been a surprise to me. It is midnight, and we are still marching.

SOURCE: Osborn Hamiline Oldroyd, A Soldier's Story of the Siege of Vicksburg, p. 37

Diary of 5th Sergeant Osborn H. Oldroyd: May 27, 1863

t was three o'clock this morning before we camped. A tiresome tramp we have had, and after halting, but a few minutes elapsed before we were fast asleep. We were up, however, with the sun, took breakfast and were on the march again at eight o'clock. We halted two hours at noon, during which time we had dinner and rest. Camped again in the evening without having come in contact with the enemy. We do not know where Johnston is, but shall find him if he is in the neighborhood. This excursion party is composed of six regiments, and should we meet Johnston, and his force prove to be the largest, we shall have to fight hard, for we are now some distance from reinforcements. The health of our boys, however, is good-although one of them complains of worms—in his crackers. A change from city to country life seems generally acceptable-and yet as it was, our residence was only suburban.

SOURCE: Osborn Hamiline Oldroyd, A Soldier's Story of the Siege of Vicksburg, p. 37-8

Diary of 5th Sergeant Osborn H. Oldroyd: May 28, 1863

We did not strike out on the war-path again till three P. M. to-day, having spent the time previous in taking a good rest. To-day we have not marched very rapidly, as it has now become necessary to go more slowly in order to feel our way, since we cannot tell what obstacle we may encounter. All the natives we meet along the road claim that Johnston is going to raise the siege. If so, it will prove about the biggest “raising” he ever attended. Camped again about dark.

SOURCE: Osborn Hamiline Oldroyd, A Soldier's Story of the Siege of Vicksburg, p. 38

Diary of 5th Sergeant Osborn H. Oldroyd: May 29, 1863

“The early bird catches the worm.” We tried the truth of that adage this morning, but failed to make the catch. A few graybacks were seen afar off, but we failed to get within range of them. Where, O where, is General Johnston and the grand army he was to bring against us? We have looked for him in vain. I have the utmost confidence in Grant's judgment and the prestige of his army which has never yet known defeat, but I confess, till now, I have been afraid of some attack in our rear. And why such a thing does not occur is a mystery to me-at least an attempt at it. Day by day Grant is intrenching and pushing nearer to the enemy's works, planting heavy guns and receiving fresh troops, so the opportunity for a saving stroke by the enemy is fast disappearing.

Camped again at dark, within two miles of Mechanicsville, through which we passed, finding all quiet after our cavalry had driven a few rebs beyond the town.

SOURCE: Osborn Hamiline Oldroyd, A Soldier's Story of the Siege of Vicksburg, p. 38

Diary of 5th Sergeant Osborn H. Oldroyd: May 30, 1863

Moved this morning at four o'clock back again towards Vicksburg—rather an early start, unless some special business awaits us. A few surmise that there is need for us at the front, but I think it is only a freak of General Frank Blair, who is in command of our excursion party. The day has been hot, and we have been rushed forward as though the salvation of the Union depended upon our forced march. I am not a constitutional grumbler, but I fail to understand why we have been trotted through this sultry Yazoo bottom where pure air seems to be a stranger. Probably our commander wants to get us out of it as soon as posible. A few of the men have been oppressed with the heat, and good water is very scarce. This seems to be a very rich soil, made up no doubt of river deposits. A ridge runs parallel with the river, and it is on that elevation all the plantation buildings are located, overlooking the rich country around. The Yazoo river is a very sluggish stream and said to be quite deep. The darkies claim it is “dun full of cat-fish.” I think we may probably have fresh, fish, but not till we catch Vicksburg, and then only in case we are allowed to take a rest, for I presume there will then turn up some other stronghold for Grant and his army to take, and for which we shall have to be off as soon as this job is ended. We camped at dark, after a severe and long march, and it is now raining very hard.

SOURCE: Osborn Hamiline Oldroyd, A Soldier's Story of the Siege of Vicksburg, p. 38-9