Reports concerning the battle of Clinton, Louisiana, June 3, 1863 and related actions during the siege of Port Hudson:
From the O.R., Series I, Volume 26, Part 1, Siege of Port Hudson, La. :
No. 48. -- Reports of Col. John L. Logan, Eleventh Arkansas Infantry, of operations May 21 - July 8.
GENERAL: I am in enemy’s rear with 300 cavalry and mounted men, and 300 infantry. General Augur’s division has all passed up. I would strike him, but my force is too weak. I have no information from Plains Store excepting that the enemy occupy the place. My dispatch from Colonel [F.P.] Powers was received too late to strike the enemy on his right flank; besides, they came in too great numbers for Colonel Powers, and forced him back to the railroad before I could get here. I shall keep on his right flank, and strike as opportunity offers.
In a little skirmish this evening, I captured 2 prisoners, [who informed] me that Augur’s entire division has passed up, including two brigades of infantry, four batteries, and about 700 or 800 cavalry, commanded by Grierson. I think for the present I had better move the most of my force to Clinton.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GENERAL: I find that the small pieces of artillery are not of much service; besides, I have no ammunition for them. I must have more ammunition for the pieces I have (6-pounder smooth-bore and 12-pounder howitzers), and I really think that I ought to have Roberts’ entire battery. The enemy have a great deal of artillery, and, unless I have a sufficiency to cope with them, I cannot accomplish much. I am determined to annoy the enemy and hurt him at every favorable point and opportunity, on his flanks and in his rear. I am concentrating my force, as much so as I can, leaving for the present, on the Plank road and the roads toward the Comite, a small picket to watch the movements of the enemy. I sent Quartermaster-Sergeant Mack with this dispatch, who will take charge of anything you desire to send to me, and bring it to my command to-night.
All quiet, on Plank road; think most of the force has crossed to the Bayou Sara road. Enemy still reported at Plains Store; am going to see.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GENERAL: Your dispatches, per courier, for General Frank Gardner, were brought to my headquarters on 25th instant. Every effort has been made to get them through, but without success. The dispatches ordering the evacuation of Port Hudson were also received by me and sent through. Major-General Gardner was then completely invested, and to have attempted to cut his way through the lines of the enemy, 20,000 strong, well posted, with a large cavalry force at hand, would have been attended with very great loss; besides, I doubt his being able to get through at all. If he had, the line of retreat would have been so long we must have suffered greatly before we could have reached Jackson.
I have had no communication from General Gardner since the 24th. On that night he intended to come out, if possible, and ordered me to place my forces so as to assist him, which I did. I think he found it impossible to cut his way through, and has, perhaps, concluded to remain to defend the place as long as he can, hoping to be relieved by re-enforcements. I am at this place with a small command of cavalry and mounted infantry, 1,200 men, doing all I can to aid General Gardner by dashing upon the enemy’s lines, destroying his wagon train, &c., drawing the enemy’s troops from Port Hudson. I cannot do a great deal, but am determined to do all that can be done with the means at my command. I have so far prevented the enemy’s making raids into the country. Can we get re-enforcements? To relieve General Gardner is certainly very important; besides, I think it of very great importance to hold our position at Port Hudson as well as the New Orleans, Jackson, and Great Northern Railroad.
The country along the Mississippi River and east of it for 50 miles is a very wealthy one; there is a large amount of stock in it, and the people are doing everything they can for our cause -- raising large crops of corn and potatoes for the army. A re-enforcement of 8,000 or 10,000 men, thrown in Banks’ rear, will drive him from Port Hudson in five days. I am informed that Lieut. Gen. E.K. Smith is now at near the mouth of Red River with 10,000 men. If he would come down and cross at Port Hudson, under cover of our guns, Port Hudson would be relieved at once. Dispatches sent via Natchez, Miss., would reach Lieutenant-General Smith. Pardon me for making these suggestions.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
[General JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON]
GENERAL: The enemy attacked us this evening at 2 o’clock, 2,000 strong. After an engagement of three hours, we repulsed them and drove them from the field. Our loss, 20 killed and wounded. Enemy’s loss, 20 killed, 50 wounded, and 40 prisoners. No further news from General Gardner.
General JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON.
GENERAL: The enemy is moving a column of cavalry, infantry, and artillery, 4,000 strong, upon Clinton. I have met his cavalry and whipped it, but, of course, will have to retire before a heavy column of infantry and artillery, I will range around through the country, and, when an opportunity offers, strike his cavalry. Banks has lost very heavily at Port Hudson, but seems determined to take the place. He has dug rifle-pits and made breastworks of cotton along our entire line of works. I have annoyed him a great deal with my little force in his rear, and he seems very uneasy for fear a heavy force will be thrown in his rear. He has already burned the Manchac Bridge, that he rebuilt, for fear of being flanked.
As I have already stated, a small re-enforcement sent here will not only raise the siege of Port Hudson, but drive the enemy from the country, and, I believe from Baton Rouge. Ten thousand men, I am confident, could accomplish all this. I hope you will pardon me for urging this matter, but the relief of General Gardner, and the importance of holding Port Hudson and protecting a large section of the finest country that we have in the Confederacy, leaving out the importance of the position as regards future movements upon New Orleans, compels me to ask for these re-enforcements. The people in this country are doing all they can for the support of our army -- raising large crops of corn and potatoes. The re-enforcements I ask for can be subsisted entirely upon this country for thirty days, at least.
There is a large amount of stock in the way of beef-cattle, mules, and horses, that will fall in the hands of the enemy if we leave here. Please let me hear from you, as soon as possible, by telegraph to Osyka. Should the enemy occupy Clinton and Jackson, it will be useless for me to remain longer, as I can be of no service to General Gardner.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
General JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON
I made a dash upon the enemy’s lines yesterday morning at daylight. Captured two of his camps, took 100 prisoners, including 1 major, 2 captains, and 3 lieutenants, many wagons, teams, salt, arms, and negroes. My loss nothing. Enemy’s loss in killed and wounded 10 to 15. Colonel Logan has arrived and will take command.
Col. B.S. EWELL,
Abstract from morning report of the cavalry and mounted infantry,Col. John L. Logan, C.S. Army, commanding, for June 25, 1863; headquarters, near Clinton, La.
[modified by KEB]
A party of my scouts down near Port Hudson captured Brig. Gen. Neal Dow, Federal Army, last night at 9 o’clock. He will be forwarded to your headquarters at once.
Col. B.S. Ewell,
Following dispatch just received:
General JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON:
On morning of 2d, at daylight, I surprised and captured Springfield Landing, the enemy’s depot for landing supplies, 7 miles below Port Hudson, 6 miles in their lines. Burned their commissary and quartermaster’s stores, destroyed 100 wagons, killed and wounded 140, captured 55 prisoners, paroling 22 of them. My loss, 4 killed and 10 wounded; and engaged brigade of the enemy, and held him in check until the work was done, and then retired.
General S. COOPER.
COLONEL: Inclosed please find a communication from Brigadier-General Green, commanding cavalry brigade, &c., west of the Mississippi River, which I forward at once for your information. The young man states to me that General Taylor has two brigades of infantry, two of cavalry, and a sufficient amount of artillery, including some 12-pounder Parrotts, and that they were mounting two 24-pounder smooth-bore pieces; that transports could not pass their batteries, but that gun-boats continue to pass by, running near the east shore of the river.
I have answered the communication, and urged General Green to hold his present position and cut off the enemy’s supplies, and at the same time open communication with General Gardner, and provision the garrison at Port Hudson by swimming beeves across the river.
I hope from this statement you will understand the position, &c. Being on the move, I write in great haste.
I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Col. B.S. EWELL,
To any Confederate Officer commanding on the east of the Mississippi.
I send my young volunteer aide-de-camp, Leander McAnelly, of the Fifth Texas Cavalry, to communicate with any Confederate force on the east of the Mississippi.
We have a sufficient force on this side, of cavalry, infantry, and artillery, to hold it against any force the Yankees can bring against us. If a force on the east, below Donaldsonville, could hold their own on the river, we can stop the supplies to Banks’ army, and force him to raise the siege of Port Hudson. We will, I am confidant, be able to whip his army in the open field should he move on this side.
McAnelly will give you full details.
Notes on the battle of Clinton, Louisiana, June 3, 1863 and related actions during the siege of Port Hudson; taken from (1) Anthony C. Rushing’s book Ranks of Honor. A Regimental History of the Eleventh Arkansas Infantry Regiment and Poe’s Cavalry Battalion, C.S.A., 1861-1865 (1990), pages 38-47; (2) David C. Edmonds’ book The Guns of Port Hudson, Volume Two, The Investment, Siege and Reduction (1984), pages 64-376; and (3) a guided tour kindly provided to KEB by Mr. Michael Howell of Jackson, Louisiana on Oct. 27, 1997:
The remaining men of the 17th Arkansas Infantry commanded by now Colonel John Griffith were consolidated with the men of the 11th Arkansas Infantry commanded by Colonel John L. Logan; this consolidation occurred on March 31, 1863 and also saw the new 11th & 17th Consolidated Arkansas Infantry made into mounted infantry. Men from the 17th Arkansas Infantry were combined into companies H, I, and K of this new unit; Colonel Logan, being senior to Colonel Griffith, was the commander of the 11th & 17th Arkansas Infantry at this time. Colonel Logan made his headquarters at Olive Branch, Louisiana, placing the 11th & 17th Arkansas Infantry as pickets along the Amite and Comite Rivers in early May of 1863.
On May 14, 1863 orders arrived directing Colonel Logan to use his regiment as scouts in an area between the Plank Road, Plains Store, and Baton Rouge Road; other Confederate units proceeded to Port Hudson in preparation for the Federal onslaught being directed by Major-General Nathaniel P. Banks. Despite uncertainty re whether or not Major-General Franklin Kitchell Gardner’s garrison at Port Hudson should be withdrawn and sent to aid Vicksburg against U.S. Grant, on May 21, the decision was made for them. Major-General Christopher C. Augur’s Federal division marched from Baton Rouge in order to link up with another Federal division at Plains Store, due east from Port Hudson. Colonel Thomas R. Stockdale, with the approval of Colonel Logan, had placed both Mississippi and Arkansas troops in ambush for the Yankee cavalry of then Colonel Benjamin H. Grierson and his Illinois cavalrymen, but opened fire upon Augur’s brigades anyway before retreating north towards Plains Store. Stockdale had also sent couriers to both Major-General Gardner at Port Hudson and Colonel Logan at Clinton, informing them of his plans Gardner dispatched Miles Legion (about 900 men) from Port Hudson to assist Stockdale’s Battalion at Plains Store
In the morning, Colonel Logan’s force consisting of Stockdale’s Battalion and artillery under the direction of Colonel Frank Powers fought Augur’s force at the intersection of the Jackson-Baton Rouge-Port Hudson-Clinton roads. Stockdale and Powers withdrew after about one hour of fighting, then Miles Legion arrived that afternoon from Port Hudson, effectively flanking the Federal force. At one point, 3 companies of Miles Legion (~200 men) cut off over 1,500 Yankees before withdrawing back to the garrison of Port Hudson. Federal casualties for these two battles fought at Plains Store on May 21 were 15 killed, 68 wounded, and 14 missing; Grierson’s cavalry loss 20 horses as well. Confederate casualties were 12 killed, 36 wounded, and 41 missing. Unfortunately, the Federal Army of the Gulf (aka IX Corps) had sealed off Port Hudson in the process -- there would be no escape for the Rebel soldiers stationed there.
On May 27, Major-General Banks launched a large frontal assault against Gardner’s garrison at Port Hudson; one component of this assault, made across Slaughter’s Field was Bank’s 2nd Division of IX Corps, directed by Brigadier General Thomas W. Sherman. Under Sherman was Brigadier General Neal Dow from Maine, commanding the 1st Brigade of this 2nd Division -- General Dow was a well-known temperance champion before the Civil War, widely known in both the North and the South. Of interest to historians of the 11th/17th Arkansas Infantry is that Brigadier General Dow was badly wounded during this unsuccessful assault on May 27 and sent to a private home to recover. More will be said of General Dow shortly. Bank’s casualties were given by him to be 293 killed, 1,545 wounded, and 157 missing out of his total force of approximately 13,000 Federal soldiers (probably purposely underestimated for political purposes by Banks). Confederate casualties were estimated to be 300-350 killed/wounded/missing -- very light by comparison. Banks would not try another massive assault against Port Hudson until June 14.
June 3, 1863 saw the Confederates in Colonel Logan’s cavalry brigade and the 11th/17th Arkansas Infantry go head-to-head with the notorious “Grierson’s raiders”, led by then Colonel Benjamin H. Grierson. Grierson’s force sent against Clinton, Louisiana on this day totaled about 1,800 men from the 7th Illinois Cavalry, 4th Wisconsin Mounted Infantry, 2nd Massachusetts Battalion, 1st Louisiana Cavalry (Union), 14th New York Cavalry, 41st Massachusetts Mounted Infantry, 6th Illinois Cavalry, and Nims’ 2nd Massachusetts Battery. A long train of wagons and ambulances followed behind. Grierson approached the town of Clinton from the west, crossing bridges across swamp-bottom and the Comite River as his column marched onward.
At about 2:00 p.m., Colonel John L. Logan, Colonel John Griffith, and Colonel Frank Powers had their card game interrupted with news that Grierson’s force was at the edge of town. The bugle call “boots and saddles” sounded throughout the Confederate encampment and men scrambled to their posts -- the red-shirt clad “Rackensackers” in the 11th & 17th Arkansas Infantry collected their shotguns, Belgian rifles, and “Arkansas toothpicks” (Bowie knives) as they ran to their commands. Logan’s force that day totaled about 1,200 effectives made up of Griffith’s 11th & 17th Arkansas Infantry, Cochran’s 2nd Arkansas Cavalry Battalion, Garland’s Battalion Mississippi Cavalry, Hugh’s Battalion Mississippi Cavalry, and Robert’s section of the Mississippi Seven Stars Artillery; they were also joined by Cage’s Louisiana Battalion and Stockdale’s Mississippi Battalion Cavalry.
Stockdale deployed his men along Pretty Creek where it crossed the Jackson Road; he was soon reinforced by Griffith and his men in the 11th and 17th Arkansas Mounted Infantry, allowing Stockdale to charge Grierson’s column and drive it across Pretty Creek. Federal cannonfire ranged throughout the town of Clinton, striking buildings and even headstones in the cemetery. As the battle raged on for a full 3 1/2 hours, Grierson found he had badly miscalculated his Rebel adversaries and was being outflanked, not to mention running out of ammunition. Men of the 4th Wisconsin held off the surging Confederates as Grierson withdrew his men, most of his wagon train fell into Logan’s hands during this retreat, however. Grierson claimed casualties of 8 killed, 28 wounded, and 15 missing; Logan gave his casualties as 20 total, k/w/m. Actual losses may have been twice that based on each side’s estimate of the losses inflicted upon their opponents.
Two days later, on June 5, a Federal force of over 3,000 men descended upon Clinton once again; this time, coming from the south and under the new command of Brigadier General H.E. Paine from Wisconsin. Logan, seeing hopeless odds, evacuated Clinton on June 6, leaving the good townsfolk to the advancing Yankees, who led by the members of Grierson’s Illinois cavalrymen, looted and burned the town on June 7, 1863. Thus Grierson’s Raiders gained some satisfaction for their poor performance and pell-mell retreat from Clinton on June 3.
On June 14, Major General Banks launched another desperate assault against the Confederate garrison manning Port Hudson. The defenses of the Priest Cap and the Citadel were tested by the Yankee soldiers this day, all to no avail: Federal casualties were officially reported as 216 killed, 1,401 wounded, and 188 missing. Confederate losses were almost nonexistent: approximately 22 killed and 25 wounded. The bloodied Yanks were not permitted to quietly lick their wounds as Colonel John L. Logan and his cavalry brigade remained active in their raids upon the massive Federal presence around Port Hudson.
Despite recently losing their base of operations at Clinton, Logan’s men were at it again on June 15. This time, a strike force under the command of both Colonel Stockdale and Colonel Powers struck Federal forces stationed at Robert W. Newton’s plantation near the northeast portion of the Federal lines. During a surprise attack, the 250 men in Stockdale’s column struck the effete troopers within the 41st Massachusetts Mounted Infantry and the 14th NY Metropolitan Cavalry -- the latter unit was made up almost entirely of non-English-speaking Swedes. As the Rebel horsemen swept between their tents, the cry of “Upprorsman! Upprorsman!” (“Rebels! Rebels!”) rang out from the dismayed Swedish immigrants. At completion, Stockdale had killed perhaps 15 men and took over 100 prisoners, all without losing a single soldier! Their reward was their capture of assorted Federal equipment, including new pistols, carbines, sabers, McClellan saddles, and enough horses to mount all of the Arkansas soldiers in Colonel Logan’s Cavalry Brigade.
Federal intelligence was apparently lacking, for the previously mentioned Brigadier General Neal Dow (wounded on May 27) was still recuperating at the plantation house of Mrs. George Cage during the evening of June 30 -- Mrs. George Cage was the wife of Colonel George C. Cage, commander of the Louisiana Battalion within Colonel Logan’s Brigade! Not surprisingly, plans were made to capture General Dow by members of Logan’s force; Captain John McKowen, Jr., 1st Louisiana Cavalry convinced Colonel Frank Powers to let him and a small unit snatch the Yankee general from behind Federal lines. Three members of the 11th and 17th Consolidated Arkansas Mounted Infantry, Sgt. John G.B. Simms, Pvt. John R. Petty, and Pvt. Wilson F. Medearis (all from Co. H of Colonel Griffith’s command) joined Captain McKowen at the Plains Store crossroads before sundown. Joined by a mysterious person known only as “Tex”, after dark they rode to within 1/4 mile of Mrs. Cage house, crept up in the darkness, overpowered the guards, burst in, and found Brigadier General Dow missing! General Dow had heard rumors of his impending capture and had left on horseback earlier that evening. Fortunately for the Rebels, a lone horseman was spotted hiding behind a tree and Sgt. Simms and Pvt. Petty rode over to investigate. Sgt. Simms leveled his pistol at the head of the lone rider and demanded, “Are you General Dow?” “Yes sir!” came the reply. Simms then stated to the hapless Federal commander, “Surrender, or I’ll kill you!”. Dow agreed and rode with his captors back to Logan’s headquarters near Clinton. This capture of a high-ranking Federal commander by members of the 11th & 17th Arkansas Infantry was noticed by officials in both the United States and Confederate States governments -- it ranks with the capture of the U.S.S. Petrel on April 22, 1864 as perhaps their most famous exploit.
At dawn on July 2, Powers and Stockdale once again led a force, this time of about 200 men, against the Federal supply depot at Springfield Landing. Every other man had a bottle of turpentine with him and all had matches. The Yankee pickets of the 162nd NY Infantry were swept up and nothing stood between the Confederate raiders and their target, a hundred acres of supplies, wagons, animals, hospital tents, stores, warehouses, and Negro shanties. The rampaging Rebels charged, splitting into 3 separate detachments -- one straight to the landing, one right, one left -- shooting and tossing their flaming turpentine firebombs in all directions. Within minutes, the great mounds of Federal supplies and material were in flames; panicked men dove into the Mississippi or ran towards the Federal ammunition boat U.S.S. Suffolk for safety. Confederate claims were made of the total destruction of the Federal commissary and quartermaster stores, 100 wagons, 140 killed/wounded, and 35 prisoners; this with a Confederate loss of only 4 killed and 10 wounded. Federal accounts accordingly downplay the destruction wrought by Logan’s men this day during their spectacular 2-hour rampage through the Yankee supply depot.
Despite their best efforts, the outnumbered men within Logan’s Cavalry Brigade and Colonel John Griffith’s 11th & 17th Arkansas Mounted Infantry could not prevent the inevitable success of Major General Banks’ siege against Port Hudson. On July 9, 1863 CSA Major General Gardner surrendered his garrison; this at a cost of over 5,000 Federal casualties over the entire siege period. The approximately 5,500 Confederates manning Port Hudson’s defenses held out against the Federal army of over 28,000 for a longer period of time than Vicksburg before it fell to U.S. Grant on July 4, 1863. The success of the approximately 1,200 effectives in Colonel John L. Logan’s Cavalry Brigade and his hit-and-run tactics undoubtedly had a lot to do with this fact of history.
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