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Personal Papers of Major Milton Mills - 16th OVI
Letter from Benjamin Heckert
Description of Battle of Chickasaw Bayou
December 21, 1904
Web Author's Notes:
The following letter was transcribed from the original and reflects information exactly as it was written. This letter is to Maj. Milton Mills' wife, Kate Mills, from Lt. Benjamin Heckert, responding to an inquiry she made regarding her husband's activities during the war. View images of the original letter.

Benj. F. Heckert
Att'y at Law,
Masonic Building
Paw Paw, Mich., Dec 21st, 1904

Mrs. Kate Mills.

My Dear Madam:-
Your letter of the 19th came duly to hand and I make no delay in answering. I need not say that I was very glad to receive a letter from the widow of one of the dearest comrades and friends I had in the 16th regiment. Maj Mills was my senior by several years and he was more like a father to me than otherwise. I always looked up to him for inspiration in the discharge of my duty as a soldier. He was brave, loyal and faithful to every trust the duties of a soldier imposed in defense of the flag. It gives me pleasure to furnish any information I can on the points suggested in your inquiry. We were taken prisoner at Haines Bluff or Chickasaw Bayou on the Yazoo river near Vicksburg, Miss on the 29th of December 1862. In eight days more it will be 42 years. We were captured in a bayonet charge against the strong and almost impregnable intrenched works ofthe enemy. The charge failed and we were so near the enemies works we could not retreat without being shot in the backs and to be shot in the back was considered amongst soldiers an evidence of cowardice, so there was nothing left for us to do except to surrender. It was a bold, fierce but fruitless engagement. After capture, which was near night, we were marched through a drenching rain to Vicksburg, a distance of eleven miles, hungry and without blankets and were corraled in an old foundry where we laid on the cold wet ground for rest. In a few days we were taken to Jackson, Miss where we remained for six weeks or two months. From here we were taken to Libby prison at Richmond Va and detained there until our exchange. This exchange took place at City Point, Va, below Richmond on the James river. I am unable to give the date of the exchange of Maj Mills, as we were not all exchanged at the same time. I was exchanged on the 8th day of May 1863 and the others were exchanged not far from that time, Maj Mills amongst the rest. I cannot give the details of these exchanges, but the history of the whole matter can be obtained from the adjutant generals office in the City of Washington. The pension department could furnish you all the information there is of record as to dates concerning the matter. The length of time we were held prisoners was not far from five months. We all returned to the regiment which was with the army investing Vicksburg and was present when the Confederates surrendered to Gen Grant. The Maj remained with the regiment until the 12th day of Feb 1864, when he resigned. After that I knew nothing of him. My transportation was paid by the government on all of these pleasur excursions and I presume the Majors was. As to the loss of personal property I hardly think he lost any thing beyond his sword and some small equipments. He was not Maj at the time he was captured. If I remember he was not promoted until afterwards. I have given you as complete information as I can call to mind. You must remember that 42 years is a long time to carry such incidents in mind. If there is anything I can do for you or if you can refresh my memory on any matter you wish to know about I want you to feel free to ask me. I wish you would write me and tell me something of the Majors life after he left the army - when he got married - how many children he had if any - what business he followed - when he died and all about him if you feel so inclined. I am interested in knowing as much as possible about his subsequent life. Hoping to hear from you again. I am most,

Truly & respectfully,
Benj. F. Heckert
Late 1st Leiut Co K 16th Reg

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