Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 14.djvu/327
Foi'tification and Siege of Port Hudson. 321
kept up an incessant sharpshooting, as on every other portion of my line where the nature of the ground would permit.
At about 7 o'clock A. M., and simultaneously with the general attack upon the right of the left wing, Colonel Shelby, commanding extreme left of left wing, also sustained a heavy attack. There oc- curred one of the most important engagements, not only of the siege of Port Hudson but of this war.
It was a battle between white and negro troops, and, so far as I am aware, the first engagement of this war, of any magnitude, between the white man and negro. In order that the facts may be distinctly recorded, I quote the language used by Colonel W. B. Shelby, Thir- ty- ninth Mississippi regiment, in his official report of the engage- ment :
" Company B, of my regiment, under command of Lieutenant S. D. Rhodes, with fifteen men from Wingfield's battalion — total, sixty men and officers — was ordered to occupy and hold at all hazards a ridge extending from the residence of Mrs. Miller and running parallel with the road above mentioned to within two hundred yards of the bridge over Sandy creek.
" This ridge was a strong position and easily held. It was about four hundred yards in length, and on the side next the road it was abrupt and inaccessible. It was deemed of the first importance to hold this position, for the reason above mentioned, and for the further reason that it commanded the line of rifle-pits occupied by my forces, and from which the enemy could easily enfilade nearly my whole line; and, as it ran parallel with the road along which the enemy was compelled to advance to attack the works, it enabled a small force de- ployed as skirmishers along the length of the ridge to give the enemy advancing along the road a front, rear and enfilading fire. Early on the morning of the 27th of May I was advised by Lieutenant Rhodes, commanding on the ridge above mentioned, that the enemy was crossing Sandy creek, over the bridge, in large force — cavalry, infan- try and artillery. Beheving, from all the indications, that it was the purpose of the enemy to concentrate his forces, and to attack only the extreme left of my position, I immediately repaired to that point and assumed command in person. Immediately after reaching there, I discovered the artillery of the enemy crossing the bridge. I ordered Lieutenant Sorrel, commanding the gun at the sally-port, to load with solid shot and open at once upon the enemy's artillery. He opened upon them just as they were unlimbering, and so rapid and effective was his fire that the enemy's artillery, after firing one gun,