This morning we drove over the Big Muddy to the LA side and the site of Grant’s Canal across the foot of DeSoto Point. The 7th VT was here for the first attempt, in the ill-conceived 1862 Butler Expedition, at digging a trench across the Point which officers hoped would then erode into a waterway. They could then steam around the rebel batteries at Vicksburg. The Vermonters labored hard and suffered badly. Conditions were horrendous with being housed on gunboats or transports with other sick soldiers and the area was rich with mosquitoes. They died of sunstroke, heat exhaustion, malaria, dysentery, etc.
By the end of the year, in less than 9 months in theater, the 7th VT had suffered over 300 deaths and approximately 100 discharged with disabilities. Most of these can be attributed to the Vicksburg campaign. The 9th CT was also here along side the Vermonters. A beautiful new monument has recently been placed by the State of CT to honor the 153 men of the 9th who also perished from disease.
When leaving Grant’s Canal we were delayed at the RR crossing because of the Federal Government! Not TSA though. There was a Federal Railroad Administration safety inspection car near the crossing and the gates were down. I talked with one of the MS RR workers and he said, “yup, pain in the butt when they come and today is our turn”! Everyone likes to see “Uncle” coming!
Then it was off to Raymond, some 30 miles or so east of Vicksburg. The Battle of Raymond was one in a series of actions in May of 63 after Grant crossed the River into MS and leading up to the assaults, then siege, at Vicksburg. The court house was built in 1858 and is still in use as such. It housed wounded soldiers during and after the battle. The tables in the court room and the one in the jury room were there during the Battle and were used to treat the wounded! There is a “military park” just outside of the village that is on part of the Battlefield. There is a walking trail with interpretive signs and a couple dozen (repro) artillery pieces marking two locations were DeGolyer’s 8th MI Battery were deployed.
This is what noted Civil War scholar Retired Brig Gen Parker Hills has to say about Raymond,
“The Battle of Raymond looms large in history. The change in the operational situation after Raymond resulted in a change of Grant's scheme of maneuver in the Vicksburg Campaign. He boldly changed his decisive point from the Southern Railroad near Edwards to the capital city of Jackson. He made an audacious decision to attack one force at Jackson while turning his back on another at Edwards. As soon as Jackson fell, he resumed the offensive by attacking and defeating Pemberton at Champion Hill, Big Black River, and Vicksburg. Grant could never have read Clausewitz, but he innately understood that, "Reducing an enemy fortress does not amount to halting the offensive."34 The Battle of Raymond stands as a pivotal point in the most brilliant campaign ever fought on American soil.”
On the road into Raymond we saw a house that had 30, 40 (or more) old VW bugs in and around the house. Either the guy loves them or maybe he has a flourishing business going???
I think that I mentioned earlier about the crepe myrtle trees being in full bloom. WELL, they ain’t crepe myrtle! What I thought was crepe myrtle is actually mimosa. But they are still beautiful!!