Previous Battle Account Page Chickasaw Bayou Index Page 16th OVI Home Page Next Battle Account Page
Battle of Chickasaw Bayou
December 27 - 29, 1862
As Described in Harper's Weekly
January 31, 1863
Web Author's Notes:
The following is an account of the battle as it appeared in Harper's Weekly on January 31, 1863. This account is very interesting as it focuses completely on the 6th Missouri Volunteer Infantry, a regiment in Gen. Morgan Smith's Second Division, 1st Brigade. The article gives the uninformed reader the impression that the entire battle was waged by Gen. M. L. Smith and the 6th Missouri Infantry. It is likely this may have been the only information Harper's Weekly had on the battle, at the time, or that the author had a specific connection with the 6th Missouri. See a follow-up article published in Harper's Weekly on March 7, 1863.

The 6th Missouri Infantry did, indeed, have a significant part in the battle. General William T. Sherman, who, unfortunately, picked exactly the wrong place to attack (toward the bluffs above Chickasaw Bayou) sent just one regiment, the 6th Missouri, across a sand bar near the Indian Mound, further west. Confederate General Stephen D. Lee later stated that had Sherman "...moved a little faster after landing, or made his attack at the mound, or at any point between the bayou and Vicksburg, he could have gone into the city." Without further research into the details of the 6th Missouri's attack, we will rely on the account, below, describing their actions. It is now understood that the main point of attack was at the eastern most point along Chickasaw Bayou and that, despite the 6th Missouri's gallantry and their loss of fifty-seven men, the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou is primarily defined by the actions of Col. John F. DeCourcey's brigade at the bayou and where the 16th Ohio suffered so terribly.

See a sketch of the action of the 6th Missouri which appeared with the article, below.


The picture given below illustrates one of the most daring feats of arms ever attempted in the progress of this war, and not surpassed by anything in the annals of warfare. When General Morgan L. Smith's division of General Sherman's command undertook to storm the enemy's works on the banks of the bayou in the rear of Vicksburg, the Sixth Regiment of Missouri Volunteers, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Blood, was detailed for the advance. The enemy's works were very strong, there being is steep bank of thirty feet high to ascend, fortified with breast-works and rifle-pits, with a heavy force drawn up in line of battle behind them. The only approach was by a road across a sand-bar in the bayou, exposed to a double cross-fire from the enemy, and the only way of ascending the bank was by cutting a road. An order was received for two companies to be sent over in advance for the purpose of cutting the road --one with picks and shovels, and the other with muskets to protect the workers front the enemy's sharp-shooters in the rifle-pits over their heads. Company F, Captain Boutell, and Company K, Captain Buck, were the first to volunteer, the peril being so great that Colonel Blood was reluctant to order a detail. Their services were accepted, and the two companies of heroes went across under a most terrific fire, which left more than a tenth of their number stretched upon the sand. On getting across they immediately commenced operations on the bank, and very soon made a large excavation, almost sufficient for the purpose, when the position of the enemy's forces and batteries were found to be such that the further prosecution of the attempt would be certain destruction to all concerned in it, and without accomplishing any thing. In the mean time Lieutenant-Colonel Blood, with the balance of the regiment, had crossed over to their support, but with still greater loss, one-sixth of his force being killed or wounded.

Shortly afterward, the attempt being found impracticable, the regiment was recalled; and under cover of our guns, and favored by approaching darkness and a heavy shower of rain, succeeded in returning without further loss. During the whole time the regiment was crossing, and while it was under the bank, it was exposed to a heavy crossfire which threatened it with annihilation; but it never faltered or hesitated, but marched steadily on, apparently heedless of the storm of bullets which assailed it. Private M'Gee was shot four times, and thirteen bullets penetrated his clothing. As he lay upon the bar, unable to proceed, the enemy's balls still came whistling around him, and to protect himself he scooped a hole with his hands in the sand and crawled into it. The Sixth Regiment Missouri Volunteers has certainly won a right to a niche in the temple of fame. Notwithstanding the ill success of the attack on Vicksburg, such exploits as this will redeem the history of the affair in the memory of our soldiers.

Previous Battle Account Page Chickasaw Bayou Index Page 16th OVI Home Page Next Battle Account Page