The following is a battle report from Trooper Bob Hines of the current
1st AL Cav. USV on his trip to Vicksburg.
Now I know how Stonewall Jackson's "foot cavalry" felt. But, beyond
some soreness in my feet and ankles, I had a great time at Vicksburg.
Luckily, I even managed to avoid blisters - hell, I have felt worse
after standing around all day at a job site. I think it was a
fantastic event for the dismounted. Ya shoulda been dere.....
We started with a decent scrap on Friday under a hot late-afternoon
sun for which we were complimented for having done EXACTLY what was
hoped for by way of tying up the johnnies whilst the heavy infantry
got into position to kick some butt.
Saturday morn we moved out at 0630 onto an old RR bed which was shady
(thankfully, because the sun was ferocious and temperatures were 88
degrees) and easy walking. Got about half a mile when the mounted cav
decided to shake things up by paying a call on the Rebs to see if they
were out of their bedrolls yet. Uh, huh....yeah, baby - Johnny was
awake and he was open for business. We tried to back up the mounted
by deploying into a corn field but the horsey folk got balled up in
front of us and we never got a chance to properly bring our fire to
bear. That corn will never amount to much because a horde of
graybacks emerged from the woods to our front and right flank to kick
our butts off the field along with the mounted. Only one of our
infantry units was up and that was not enough firepower to stop the
But, we got 'em back when we followed the Rebs down the road for
another mile or so and forced a passage of 14-mile creek (the actual
field for the Battle of Raymond). Got across the creek in good order
(nobody broke legs negotiating a 6-foot bank) after blowing past the
Rebel mounted rear guard. Deployed nicely opened up on the grayback
infantry. Pissed 'em, too; because they turned on us (5 BIG
battalions) in an open field and unleashed some arty on us as well.
We kept the fire hot as Kevin ran back looking for some support for us
because our butts were up against a deep creek (literally). However,
the fire managed to slow up the Rebs and pin them in the open field
long enough for the Federal Infantry to hit 'em on both flanks.
Glorious. More blue infantry took over from us and we sat and enjoyed
the spanking being applied to Johnny. Yeah, we hooked 'em good and
the infantry cleaned 'em and fried 'em. Ummm, umm....fried grayback -
After that, we resumed the march and had one hidden battery try to hit
us - the mounted soon took them out because the Reb infantry did not
stay around to fight. That was the last obstacle before Raymond.
Marched into town and took over under strict orders to behave
ourselves. After a rest at the actual Federal HQ (a plantation house
yard) we had enough energy left to get some great fighting in some
thick woods. Reb infantry tried to engage us and got hopelessly
disoriented in the undergrowth. Section leaders did a great job by
taking over the battle and instinctively thinking "flank, flank,
flank". Bagged the better part of a whole Reb Battalion (22 captured
and as many down) as a result of our fire & maneuver.
Sunday - back on the road at 0700 (roughly) following Johnny. Only
had a short company (yeah we lost a few due to blisters). Overcast
helped out a lot by keeping temperatures cooler. But that was the
only thing cool. Action was hot as a firecracker. Got shot up twice
before 0800 as the Rebs had pre-scouted the best ambush points. Our
maneuvers were greatly limited because we were skirting some cotton
fields which were strictly OFF LIMITS to participants - otherwise we
could have dome some flanking and butt-kicking. Had another hidden
battery which cleaned clock on some mounted and on lead dismounted
company of the Missouri boys before the rest of the unit charged in
column of fours (yes, us with revolvers on two legs trying to keep up
with horsey soldiers on four legs - puff, puff, wheeze, pant, gasp).
Further down the road we ran up against a Reb roadblock where their
infantry deployed and poured it to us. Again, we were forced into a
narrow front due to a bottleneck. Thrice-damned Provost Company tried
to mix in as light infantry and only wound up getting into our way.
Rebs moved forward and volleyed by successive ranks in a conveyor belt
fashion. We finally infiltrated onto their flanks thru a creek bed
and thick woods. Got into a field and poured it to them, taking
enough pressure off the Federal Infantry to open a hole when Johnny
diverted some infantry and his mounted to bite us. We slipped back
into the woods and they refused to follow - wonder why?
One more stand by Johnny on the march but we were pretty blown from
the previous roadblock. Snaveley (commanding because Kevin's horse
was not fit for duty on Sunday - so he was slicksleeve for the day)
took us off line for a rest (which we needed more than another fight).
After that we got about an hour's rest before the final Battle of
Champion Hill on Sunday. Good fight, saw lots of action by flanking
Reb battalions on at least 3 occasions and forcing them to give.
Overall I would do it again. But not until Thursday (groan). We came
dangerously close to hard-core campaigning .... and we liked it. We
did well. We can do this....this was fun. I am tired and my feet are
sore but it was a well-run campaign with the City of Raymond and the
host units (Stanford's MS Battery) looking out for you with water, ice
and vigilant emergency units all along the way in case they were
needed. Yeah, there were tubby middle-aged guys (and some young kids)
going down in the heat and with blisters. 4th Battalion lost maybe a
third of it's strength to foot problems but NONE to heat or exhaustion
(although we were pretty beat by Sunday afternoon). Yeah, dismounted
led the way for most of the march and we did well. Give me a couple
of cold ones and enough time to cook up some more yarns and I'll do it
Ya shoulda been dere.....see you for Tannehill, if not, then on to
Gettysburg. One piece of advice: you got, what, 7 (?) weeks before
the Big-G. Get into shape and get it ready 'cause dismounted is gonna
roll over the hill like a wagon wheel. See you there.
Yer obt' and footsore servant,