CHAPTER 10 – the Hatchie to Grand Gulf
After Price’s Corps failed to hold the breastworks, a retreat was ordered and our army fell back six or eight miles, to the camping ground of the night of the 2nd, and rested until morning, when the retreat was resumed, but before ten o’clock, we found the enemy in strong force had gotten in our front at Hatchie’s Bridge, during the night, and was ready to contest our further advance. We are now in the forks of the Hatchie river and our only known way of escape was by way of Davis’ Bridge, now held be the enemy.
Gen. Maury was in the advance and one or two of his Brigades were pushed forward tot he bridge, and after a sharp contest, we were pushed back with much loss. Cockrell’s 1st Mo. Brigade was then rushed in double-quick to the front, and formed in line of battle under fire of the enemy’s artillery and waited the attack of the enemy. But they were satisfied to stand on the defensive, as they had every advantage in the way of position, and considered us safely penned. The whole army under Rosecranzs was hammering away at our rear, and things looked blue, even to a private soldier, but we Missouri boys felt sure that Old Pap would find a way out. Wade’s Battery was moved to the front, on a bluff overlooking the river bottom, and under fire of the enemy’s batteries. Gen. Cabell was sitting on his horse, near our battery and was wounded by a bursting shell, but stayed in the saddle and did not leave the field immediately.
The army was now at a standstill, for one or two hours, with cannons booming in front and rear, and as I could see no preparation to go forward and as our time was precious, we knew that other arrangements were being made and the rumor was passed from one to another that Gen. Price was looking for another crossing, and about one o’clock our train commenced to move off through the woods to our left, and we were told Price had found a crossing, on an old mill dam some six miles below. Soon the whole command was moving, and my battery crossed about ten o’clock at night. The old dam was patched up with logs and slabs and by continued watching and repairing, the army passed safely, without loss of a single wagon. The Missouri Troops gave Old Pap the credit of getting Van Dorn’s army out of this trap.
Oct 6th. We marched all night and entered Ripley, about 11 o’clock next day, very much worn out and in need of rest and something to eat. As Wade’s Battery was entering the town, we met Old Pap at the head of one Mo. Reg. of Infantry, moving back and to our left, to meet some Federal Cavelry, that were reported coming into town from that direction; but our Cavelry drove them back, without Pap’s help. This circumstance shows the confidence Old Pap had in his Mo. boys, as he only wanted one regement of less than three hundred men to beat back a cavelry raid of the enemy. We went into camp, fed our teams, cooked and ate and rested until late in the evening, then moved some five miles and rested until morning.
Oct. 7th. We resumed our march to Lumpkin’s Mill, near Holly Springs, Miss., where we had a rest, at least my battery did, for two weeks or more. Our camp is named Camp Roger’s, in honor of Col. Roger, who fell at Corinth Oct. 4th, while leading a charge. While here a very unfortunate difficulty took place between two of our battery boys. A boy by the name of Doolan, who was a driver on one of our ca issons, and a very unmerciful fellow, as he had killed one of his horses but a short time before, was leading his horse to water one evening, after a hard days work and as the horse did not like to go into the hole of water, for fear he would be bogged, Doolan, being quick tempered, grabbed a club and struck the horse between his ears and killed him instantly. Well, Doolan had placed a sweet potato in the ashes to roast, and when it was well cooked, he being absent, young Abner concluded he would play a prank on Doolan, by eating the potato. When Doolan returned and found his potato missing, he became very angry, and when he finally found that Abner had eaten it, he came at Abner with a butcher knife in his hand, and stabbed him in the left side to his heart, killing him instantly. Abner was a quiet peaceable young man; excitement ran high in a few minutes, linching was proposed and would have been carried out immediately, if the guard had not taken him out of our hands. He was placed in an old church close by, under strong guard to wait his trial by a military court, but in about three days after he was taken there, during a dark stormy night, he made his escape and was never heard from any more. It is supposed he got into the enemy’s lines.
Gen. Price’s son left for his home in St. Louis. I think he had lately come down to join his father, and think it strange that he is going back and take the oath to the Northern Government, in order to save the family’s property. This is the current reason afloat among us Missourians, for his son’s course. We do not believe our dear Old Pap endorsed his son’s course in this matter, for every Missourian in his command, has left everything to the mercy of the enemy and disdain the very thought of going back, and take an oath of allegiance to the Northern Government, in order to save our property, if indeed we have any now left.
Towards the last of the month, we started for Granada, about eight miles south. We had bad roads and a hard trip. After arriving we were ordered to fix ourselves up as comfortable as possible as we would likely remain during the winter, and we did remain during the months of December, January, and February.
Gen. Price, being appointed to command the army of the Trans-Mississippi Department. He made his farewell address in January telling us that the Secretary of War had promised him that we Missouri boys should follow him later. If he had been given Pemberton’s place we believe our country would be saved, notwithstanding our cause looks so gloomy.
Capt. Wade went to Richmond about Dec. 15th, 1862, and returned with his commission, a Col. of Artillery. He wore his new suit of Confederate grey, trimmed in red and as he is a small man, the trimming seems to be overdone and makes him look too flashy and vain. He is naturally proud, and as he walked about with his flashy suit, we could not keep from chuckling to ourselves, at his ludicrous appearance, and we called him, among ourselves, the “Red Woodpecker.” But soon we became used to his suit and nothing more was said about it. He had it on when killed, and was perhaps buried in it. When he returned with his commission as Colonel, he brought us a lovely new battle flag for our battery, with, Wade’s First Missouri Battery, in large gold letters across its face. It was just like the flag deserted by the Ark. Reg. near Elk Horn, it was made of fine red silk, gold fringe and cord, and beautiful staff. Frank Dey, a brave gallant young man, and a favorite of all who knew him, was our flag bearer. I have always understood that the ladies of Richmond, Va., made it and gave it to Capt. Wade for his battery, but it may have been the ladies of some other place made it. Wade was a great society man, a remarkably fine conversationalist, good dancer and very popular with the ladies.
In March we were moved further south and camped for awhile near Edward’s Depot. The weather was bad, continuous rains, and every day we can hear the cannons booming at Vicksburg, between Porter’s Fleet and our Batteries.
Again we moved through mud and water to Grand Gulf, and went into camp, at a lovely place among magnolias and all kinds of wild flowers. As it is balmy spring and all nature seems to be clothed in robes of green, and the whole animal kingdom seems to be happy, except man. Here within the radius of a few miles, are thousands of men with the latest and most improved implements of death, seeking to destroy each other, and the victor will rejoice with exceeding great joy, while on the side of the vanquished will be wailing, weeping and great lamentations. How out of harmony is man, with his God, when compared with rejoicing springtime.