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Letters of WILSCOT
January 22, 1863
Web Author's Notes:
The following letter was written by a 16th OVI soldier and sent to the Tuscarawas Advocate, an Ohio newspaper. The transcription was kindly provided by website contributor John M. Pierson. Spelling and grammatical corrections were not made.

The letter's author listed as WILSCOT is unknown. Speculation could be made he was Private William M. Scott, Company G, but there is no evidence to support this.

Published in the Tuscarawas Advocate, February 20, 1863.

From the Sixteenth Ohio.

Off Mouth Yazoo River, Miss.
January 22, 1863.

Editors Advocate: It is a long time since I last wrote you, since last your readers were worried with a tedious letter from the 16th Ohio, and if my remarks are not sufficiently brief, I will give them a privilege preachers do not -- they may go to sleep.

I suppose all are acquainted with our trip from Cumberland Gap to the Ohio River, in quest of something to eat, and know that we took an almost impracticable route through the mountains for the sake of the fine scenery, and pure air, and have heard how we drank green pond water and mud to ascertain their effects upon the human system, how hunger gnawed our vitals, and we gnawed -- well, anything, when we could get it; how John Morgan thought to teach us philosophy by obstructing our path with rocks and trees, any how for his pains we showed him the expansive force of Union powder, and the penetrative effects of northern lead. This they may know, but they cannot imagine how beautiful the Ohio River looked to us, nor how near our native State approximated to Paradise.

We can appreciate the feelings of Moses as he stood upon Pisgah's top and looked over into the promised land, but our joy must have been greater than his for we were permitted to go over.

We went to Portland, Ohio, where we remained three weeks. During this time we were clothed and joined to the army of Western Va., marched to the Kanawha Salt Works, drove the rebels out, retraced our steps to the Ohio River, and embarked for Memphis, Tenn, to take part in the great expedition against Vicksburg.

We found Memphis a miserable secession hole, and often wished for some such man as Butler. he is worth all the pampering Generals we have.

Our expedition being ready, we embarked Dec. 19, and anchored in the Yazoo the 25th. Proceeded up ten miles and landed on the 26th in the rear of Vicksburg. 27th skirmished with them and they killed several of our men. On Sunday the 28th our men formed in line in front of the rebels and after a hard fight through the woods and over bayous, succeeded in driving them behind their earthworks on the hill side. Gen. Morgan's Division did the principal fighting, and sustained the heaviest loss. All that night the men lay on their arms within a few hundred yards of the enemy, while our Surgeons were busy sawing off arms and legs, and binding up wounds till the gray dawn. That was my first sight of blood.

Next morning all were busy getting ready for the afternoon's work, for we were told a charge was to be made; the rebel batteries were to be taken by storm. Morgan's Division, and DeCourcey's Brigade were to do the principal work. Both expostulated, for they knew the task could not be accomplished, and they disliked to see their troops cut to pieces, for no purpose; but they were over ruled, and the charge was made. Gen. Morgan is a true gentleman, a brave man and good General, and has now the entire confidence of his command. he knew where he led, the men would follow, but the opposition was too great. Fallen trees, deep bayous, and ravines, had to be crossed in the charge and all under a galling fire of musketry and artillery, and thus it was for half a mile. The men took the first works, but scores of hidden cannon now belched the grape into their ranks, decimating them at every volley. men of flesh could not hold against the iron hail, and some one had blundered in not bringing up the support. The 16th Ohio stood till every officer who entered the action, save one Captain and two Lieutenants, had fallen, then all fell back outside of musket range. The 16th had lost 250 or 300, the 54th Indiana still heavier, and thus through the Division. The other Divisions lost some men, but not heavily. The killed and wounded in our Division was 504 and the missing as many more. That night again were the Surgeons busy. Sleeves up to the elbows, coats off, arms smeared with blood, sawing, cutting, sewing -- such was the order of the night with them. Busiest of the busy was Dr. Brashear, Surgeon of Morgan's Division, in his supervision of the field and general hospitals for the wounded. Heavy was the task, and well was it performed. He received the undivided commendation of all the surgeon's who co-operated with him. For four days and nights he scarcely rested an hour. Well did he earn his promotion to the rank of "Medical Director 1st Army Corps, Army of the Mississippi." Pardon my digression.

Tuesday the 30th we went out twice with flags of truce to bring our dead, but were fired on. Some of our wounded were living, and still lying on the ground. In the evening an old man, shot in the arm by a shell, got up and ran off the field, the rebels firing on him all the while. He reported others still living, but we could not get to them.

Next day, Wednesday the 31st, our flag of truce was respected, and we were permitted to bring off our dead, and bury them. We brought off 91, they having buried the remainder. The clothing was stripped off a good many. We buried them, and that night withdrew to our boats, and the next day were in the Mississippi again.

In my next I will speak of our capture of Post Arkansas, Ark., and six or eight thousand rebels.


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