Report of Lieut. Col. Cyris W. Fisher, Fifty-fourth Ohio Infantry
HDQRS. FIFTY-FOURTH OHIO VOLUNTEER INFANTRYSIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the Fifty-fourth Ohio Volunteer Infantry in the expedition up Steele’s Bayou by the Second Division of the Fifteenth Army Corps:
Opposite Vicksburg, March 27, 1863
On the morning of the 17th instant, with two days’ rations in haversacks, I marched the regiment from their present camp to Young’s Point, a distance of 4 ½ miles, and embarked upon the steamer Minnehaha. We landed at Eagle Bend, in the Mississippi River, on the evening of the 17th instant, and assisted in the construction of a foot-bridge and road from the Gwin plantation to Steele’s Bayou, which was so far completed as to allow the transit of troops on the afternoon of the 19th instant, at which time we disembarked and marched toward Steele’s Bayou, about three-fourths of a mile, and bivouacked for the night.
We remained at this point until noon the 21st, when we were ordered by Colonel Smith, commanding Second Brigade, to embark on the steamer Eagle, then lying in Steele’s Bayou, which order was complied with promptly by my command. We steamed up the bayou through the woods slowly, arriving at the mouth of Black Bayou about 5 p.m., and were transferred into a coal-barge, in which we were transported with the aid of a steam tug, about 2 miles up Black Bayou to a landing in a canebrake, where we met General Sherman, who directed us to march to Hill’s plantation, 2 miles farther up the bayou, and bivouac for the night.
On the morning of the 22d, having filled haversacks with hard bread, I took the advance of the brigade, by order of Lieutenant-Colonel Rice, Fifty-seventh Ohio Volunteer Infantry, at that time commanding brigade, and kept within easy supporting distance of the rear of the First Brigade. At noon the regiment halted at the plantation known as Fore’s place, and after a rest of an hour was ordered to proceed. We had marched about 4 miles when the advance guard of the First Brigade was fired upon by the enemy, and brisk skirmishing was soon heard in front. Colonel Rice ordered me to form in line of battle, and advance until my right should join the left of the First Brigade. Major-General Sherman came up at the moment, and ordered me to advance in line of battle, with my left resting upon the road which ran along the bank of Deer Creek. I ordered Lieutenant Enoch, with one-half of Company A deployed as skirmishers, to advance rapidly to the front, until he should be in line with the line of skirmishers of the First Brigade. We advanced in this order through the woods for 2 miles, and when we emerged into an open field we could see our gunboats close at hand. By order of General Sherman, I called in the skirmishers, and advanced up the road by the right flank until we met the infantry force in company with the gunboats.
After resting the men an hour, by order of Colonel Rice, I advance on the road 1 ½ miles, and relieved six companies from the Sixth and Eighth Missouri Regiments, which were bringing up the rear of the gunboat train. My dispositions for rear guard were scarcely completed when the enemy appeared to the eastward and falling back from the woods into the open field, being followed by our troops at very long musket range. They did not come near enough to draw a fire from us. The gunboat Carondelet threw a few shells, by way of impetus to their backward movement, with excellent effect.
At this point commenced the backward movement of the Fifty-fourth Ohio Volunteer Infantry. We moved along at a snail’s pace, keeping in rear of the last gunboat, until sundown, when we were relieved, and ordered by General Sherman to rejoin the Second Brigade, which we did 2 miles back on the road, at the Mounds. During the night the rain fell heavily.
On the morning of the 23d, we marched 5 miles, over very bad roads, and were halted near a steam mill (I did not learn the name of the planter), where we remained in bivouac until the morning of the 24th, when we were ordered to march on to Hill’s plantation, where we arrived about noon, and were assigned our position by Col. T.K. Smith, who again assumed command of the brigade at this point.
We remained at Hill’s plantation until the morning of the 26th, and were then ordered to embark on the steamer Eagle; ran down the bayou into the Yazoo River and down to Young’s Point, arriving in camp this evening.
The men and officers of the regiment who accompanied the expedition did all they were ordered to do cheerfully, and endured the exposure without a murmur.
I must here mention the fact that the major-general commanding the Fifteenth Army Corps was himself on foot, and marched part of the time at the head of the Fifty-fourth, and this exhibition of carelessness of personal comfort on the part of one so high in command filled the men with enthusiasm and it is saying but very little to say they all believed in General Sherman.
I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
C.W. FISHER,Capt. G. MOODIE WHITE
Major, Commanding fifty-fourth Ohio Volunteer Infantry.
A.A.A.G., 2d Brig., 2d Div., 15th A.C., Army of the Mississippi