June 13, 1863
We know from his pension file that Henry was back on his feet and with his company by this day.
You may have noticed in last week's email that the unidentified soldier recounted the regiment moving away from "the din of battle which surrounds Port Hudson," yet later "laying in front of Port Hudson" when so many soldiers were sunstruck. If this sequence is at first confusing, you have a glimpse of how battle manuevers likely looked from Henry's perspective, and for infantrymen through the ages.
For an officer's perspective, read below the official report of Major James Prentiss Richardson of the Thirty-eighth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers, written a month later. Henry's account of the same period will follow in subsequent letters dated July 2nd and July 8th, 1863. This is the regiment's first major engagement.
Report of Maj. James P. Richardson, Thirty-eighth Massachusetts Infantry, Third Brigade, of operations May 22-July 12.
BATON ROUGE, LA.,
July 14, 1863.
SIR: In regard to the operations of the Thirty-eighth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers before Port Hudson, I have the honor to report that the regiment landed with the rest of the army at Bayou Sara on the 22d May last, and marched for Port Hudson on the same day, where they arrived in the evening of the 23d, and rested in order of battle near a sugar-house. On the 24th, it moved forward about three-quarters of a mile, and rested for the night. On the 25th, regiment was ordered to Thompson's Creek to support the Eighteenth New York Battery. During the day we had a slight skirmish with the enemy, in which we lost 2 killed and 1 wounded.1 We remained in support of the battery until the 27th, when we were ordered to report to Gen. Paine. The enemy was attacked and driven back through the woods into his works, and an assault ordered. We went forward in column of companies very near to the works, but in consequence of the severe fire of the enemy, sheltered behind his works, it was found to be impracticable to enter, and the regiment sought such shelter as the ground afforded until night, when it was withdrawn. During the day, Lieut.-Col. Rodman, who was in command of the regiment, was shot through the heart and instantly killed. The loss of the regiment during the day, in addition to the above, was 3 killed and 12 wounded. In the evening of the same day, the regiment went on picket duty at the front, where it remained for three days constantly under the fire of the enemy. On the 28th, 1 corporal was wounded in the arm. On the 30th, I joined the regiment and reported for duty, having been absent sick since the regiment left Opelousas on the 5th May. The regiment had just been relieved from picket duty. At night we went on picket again where we remained until the 4th of June. During that time we had 1 killed and 1 wounded. On the 4th of June, we were moved in the rear of Battery F, where we remained until the next morning, when we were ordered to march under Gen. Paine.
We started at 4 a. m. towards Clinton, and marched till about 11.30 o'clock and halted at a sugar-house for two hours. On starting again, the heat was so intense that several men were sun-struck, and another halt was made in the woods until 6 p. m. In the evening we marched till about 10 o'clock, and rested in the woods.
On the morning of the 6th, at 6 o'clock we started and marched to Comite River, and rested until midnight, when we marched for Clinton, arriving near that place about 4.30 a. m. It being ascertain that the enemy had fled, we returned to Comite River, and rested until 6 a. m., when we marched till 9 p. m. and rested near Redwood Bayou. On the morning of the 8th we marched at 4 o'clock and arrived in camp before Port Hudson at 10 a. m. We rested till evening, then marched about 2 miles, and went into camp.
On the 13th of June, we formed with the rest of the Third Division in order of the battle, for an assault upon the enemy's works.
Mike Doyle, Historian
Milton Historical Society
with Steve Kluskens
1 One of those killed that day was Charlie Thayer.