December 29, 1862:
The Battle of Chickasaw Bayou, Mississippi
Day 3: Sherman faces increasing odds as Confederates from Pemberton’s field army opposing Grant northward begin to arrive at Chickasaw Bluffs to bolster Generals Smith and Lee in opposing the slow Federal advance. For this morning, Sherman’s plan is for Morgan’s division to run straight up the heights, supported by Steele’s division. But when dawn comes, Morgan is confused: his engineers had bridged the wrong stream, and the Confederate artillery is raining shells down on them. The attack bogs down into an infantry firefight. He decides to call off the attack. When Sherman rides to the front and straightens out the mess. Having re-directed Morgan to the point of attack, Morgan sends the brigades of Blair and DeCourcy forward when Sherman gives the signal at Noon. They push the Rebels back with speed, but when the reach the steep slopes of the bluffs, they are easy marks for Southern sharpshooters, and the Federals are falling in large numbers. Morgan calls off the attack, and his men withdraw. The Union losses for the day are heavy: 205 killed, 1,005 wounded, and 563 missing. The Confederates suffer lighter casualties: 57 killed, 120 wounded, and 10 missing.
---David Lane, a Union soldier in the 17th Michigan Infantry Regiment, encamped near Fredericksburg, writes in his journal:
As I was about to retire for the night, our door was thrown open and some letters were handed in. Among them was one for me. I recognized the well-known hand—tore open the envelope, and, after perusing the welcome contents over and over again, I went to bed and dreamed of home.
Inexpressibly dear, to the soldier, are letters from home. It is interesting to stand by as the mail is being distributed, and, as the names are called, witness the animated, joyful expression that illuminates the countenance of the happy recipients, while those less favored retire to their tents disappointed and sad.