Previous Date Day By Day Index 16th OVI Home Page Next Date
16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry
Where was the regiment on
Sunday, February 1, 1863

On or about this day, the troops camped at Young's Point and below began work on Grant's Canal. The design of this canal was to attempt to cut a waterway through the thin land mass that was created by the Mississippi River, known as DeSoto Point, as it would permit the passage of Union boats past and out of the range of the Confederate guns at Vicksburg. The canal was ultimately a failure, the river and weather continually defeating the multiple efforts of Union generals to accomplish the task.

It is not known, at this time, on which days the 16th Ohio was required to help dig the canal.

Pvt. Frank Mason, 42nd Ohio, tells us:

About the first of February, work was begun on the canal. The river was rising rapidly, and it was necessary that the excavation should be made with all possible dispatch. But a small part of the army could work advantageously at one time, and it was arranged that each regiment should excavate a certain number of cubic yards, in proportion to the number of men in the command fit for duty.

About this time, the water had risen to a stage which endangered the camps of the army. At several points above, it had broken through the neglected levee, cutting large gaps or crevasses, which poured great streams of water across the country into the bayous which ran southward, parallel with the Mississippi, into Red River. The Thirteenth Corps was called upon for heavy details of men to work upon the levees... The rains were incessant, and the low plantation ground on which the troops were encamped became a vast quagmire. The water broke through the sides of the new canal, which proved a total failure, and backed up, driving Gen. Sherman's Corps to the levee. The damp and discomfort began to tell seriously upon the health of the troops, and hospitals were filled with sick, who died as though stricken by an epidemic. The levee, the only dry ground in the vicinity, was soon honey-combed with graves.

* Some information and italicized text, above, taken from The Forty-Second Ohio Infantry - A History of the Organization and Services of That Regiment In the War of the Rebellion, 1876 - F. H. Mason, late Private of Company A - Cobb, Andrews & Co., Publishers.

Period map annotated (red line) with the approximate position of "Grant's Canal" where Gen. Ulysses S. Grant attempted to finish the earlier 1862 attempt at cutting a channel through the land mass jutting northeast in front of Vicksburg and around which the Mississippi River made a drastic bend. If the canal was successful, the Union fleets could bypass Vicksburg and all its guns, leaving it isolated and less important in the Union's attempt at controlling the entire river.

Another period map showing the canal.

Previous Date Day By Day Index 16th OVI Home Page Next Date