March 31, 1863: McClernand moves south

Gen. John A. McClernand

Click for large map.

Despite Grant’s reservations about McClernand’s capabilities, he made use of the general to move troops south for the assault on Vicksburg. Here we see the beginning of McClernand’s report on the action. On March 31 McClernand’s troops took Richmond, LA (not shown, but near Duckport on the map above).

Official Records:


After several fruitless efforts to penetrate the State of Mississippi above Vicksburg and turn the rear of that city, it became a question of extreme interest and importance whether a point below on the Mississippi River might not be reached, from which the same result might be accomplished.

My corps, happily, was in favorable condition to test this question. It was inspired by an eager desire to prove its usefulness, and impatiently awaited an opportunity to do so. Sharing with it in this feeling, I was more than rejoiced in permission to essay an effort to cross the peninsula opposite Vicksburg from Milliken’s Bend to New Carthage.

MILLIKEN’S BEND TO NEW CARTHAGE.

Accordingly, on March 29 [30], I ordered General Osterhaus to send forward a detachment of infantry, artillery, and cavalry, to surprise and capture Richmond, the capital of Madison Parish, Louisiana.

On the morning of the 30th [31st],* Colonel Bennett, with the Sixty NINTH Indiana, a section of artillery, and a detachment of the SECOND Illinois Cavalry, took up the line of march in execution of this order. By 2 p. m. he had marched 12 miles over a miry road, and reached the bank of Roundaway Bayou, opposite Richmond.

Artillery first and infantry next opened fire on the small force garrisoning the town, and immediately dislodged it. A portion of the cavalry, dismounting form their horses, sprang into the small boats brought along on wagons, and, paddling them across the bayou with the butts of their carbines hastened to occupy the town. Hot pursuit of the fugitive enemy was soon after made by another portion of the cavalry, who swam their horses over the bayou. Seven of the enemy were wounded, four of whom fell into our hands.

This spirited and successful attack was consummated under my own observation, and effectually cut off wonted supplies transported through Richmond from the rich tracts traversed by the Tensas River and Bayou Macon to Vicksburg.

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