Vicksburg AreaFrom the 76th Regiment
Camp Near Butler's Canal
Louisiana, Feb. 20th '63
Mr. Editor:-- The seige of Vicksburgh is still in progress, but not vigorously as yet. Our Generals do not seem to have all in readiness to go to work in earnest.-- One of our mortar boats has been shelling the city from a point about a mile down the river below the upper end of the canal, for two days past, without receiving much reply.
The work on the canal is being vigorously prosecuted now and it seems to meet with a good prospect of success. A dam has been thrown across it at the levee near the upper end and as many men as can find room to work are throwing out the earth and making it wide enough to run gunboats and transports through it. A large number of contrabands are at work between the dam and river digging a new channel which will enter the river where it is believed the current will be stronger. The water in the canal is about ten feet higher above the dam, than it is below, and the dam being only about a hundred yards from the river, the rapidity of the current when the dam is removed must soon cut it through as low as the level below. It has been very rainy weather for a week past, rendering the work very difficult and disagreeable, but yesterday the sun came out very clear again, and the prospect is now good for fair weather and more rapid progress of the work. Our pickets are stationed all along the levee that runs along the river between the canal and Vicksburg and are in plain view of the city. The enemy might drop a shell among them very easily if they were so disposed, but they seem inclined to save their ammunition.
The water in the river is now up to the levee and would flood our camps were it not for the protection it affords. A terrible thunder storm occurred on the night of the 14th and the lightning struck one of the tents of Co. B, killing Sergeant Buxton and Corporal Rose, and stunning five others, who were in the tent. There has been considerable sickness and several deaths in the regiment since we came here, but there is much better health now. Dr. Smith, our new Asst. Surgeon, is likely to be popular. He seems to be possessed of feelings of humanity, which is more than can be said of some Army Surgeons. The death of Dr. Pierce was very much regretted, as there was no Surgeons in the army more faithful than he.
The news of the death of Lieut. Anderson was very unexpected and is much regretted by his fellow-officers. When he left us no one regarded his wound as dangerous.
I picked up a letter at Arkansas Post written by a man in Eastern Texas to his brother in the rebel army, in which he says: "The niggers are running away out West and going to Galveston, and the Yankees are drilling them, but I don't care if they get them all, for they have passed a law here that all who have twenty niggers can stay at home and take care of them. It has been the big men that have been at the head of the war, and I think the poor men ought to rebel, and come home and take care of their families, for the rich men are not going to do anything for them without pay." This is probably the feeling of a large portion of the common soldiers in the rebel army, but under the despotism of Jeff Davis and his Generals, they do not give expression to such feelings publicly. When the people of the North cease to sympathise with the rebels, and seek the counsels of such men as Valadigham, then will the rebel leaders be discouraged, and the Union army be encouraged, and victory and honorable peace will follow; but if the arms of the rebels in the South are to be strengthened by traitors in the North, then indeed the prospects look gloomy. Let true patriots of the North hold up their hands and encourage us, while enduring the privations and suffering that are the soldiers lot, and victory and honorable peace will yet crown the efforts of the Union Army. R.W.Burt
From: Newark True American Feb. 27, 1863
Ohio Historical Society Microfilm Roll #39705
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