Captain Ira H. Morton



American Civil War


Wisconsin volunteer

28th Regiment

Company K



Mustered in at Janesville, WI

Oct. 14, 1862



Ira H. Morton was born in Orleans County, New York in 1822, but grew up in Ellisburg, Jefferson, N.Y.  His father, Calvin Morton, was a minister of the First Universalist Society and moved the family to several places in western New York before settling in Conewango Township, Cattaraugus Co., NY in the early 1830s.  Here Ira grew to maturity, and here too he met and married Elizabeth Ann Fairchild sometime between 1845-1850.  She was born in Greene Co., NY in 1825.  The family had six children, but only four survived to adulthood. We are uncertain of the dates of the births of Katie and Eddie and have arbitrarily assigned them to 1852 and 1857 as there were gaps in the family that would have allowed for that possibility--but we have not yet found any record of their actual birth dates.  (There is a note found in the obituary of their daughter, Irene, that she was one of six children born to this couple.)  The pension application of the widow’s benefit submitted by Ira’s wife, Elizabeth A. Fairchild Morton lists the names of her six children:


            Irene Elizabeth Morton          b. 24 June 1850            Conewango, Cattaraugus, NY

            Katie Morton                          b. abt        1852            Conewango, Cattaraugus, NY

            Ira H. Morton, Jr.                b. 16 Sep 1854            Conewango, Cattaraugus, NY

            Eddie Morton                          b. abt        1857            Walworth, Walworth, Wisconsin

            Carrie Morton                        b.  5 June 1859            Walworth, Walworth, Wisconsin

            Calvin Morton                        b. 22 Oct. 1862            Walworth, Walworth, Wisconsin


Ira’s Fairchild in-laws moved from Cattaraugus Co., NY in the latter 1850s and Ira and his family moved with them.  In southern Wisconsin, on the Illinois boarder, they found good farmland and established themselves in their new home. 


They had not been there long however, when the American Civil War broke out in 1860.  For a time Ira remained on his farm, but in 1862, Wisconsin was asked to send more troops into the Union Army. 


Ira was moved by a patriot, as well as a militaristic, feeling.  He must have been in order to induce him, at the age of 40, to leave behind a productive farm, a beautiful wife, and three young children (ages 11 down to 3—including his seven year old son, Ira H. Morton, Jr., the eventual grandfather of Irene Morton McDonald).  Additionally his wife was also nine months pregnant with their youngest child, who was born within days of Ira’s departure with his troops.  It is not known if he ever saw this little baby, who was named Calvin, after Ira’s father. 


Ira was eager to enlist in the service and he was most likely very prominent in the recruitment effort as he was given a Captain’s commission to lead Company K within the Regiment.  Initially his responsibilities would have been to help round up sufficient soldiers to fill his company’s requirements.


Under the command of Colonel James M. Lewis, the Wisconsin 28th Infantry Regiment was being formed in Waukesha and Walworth Counties throughout the summer of 1862. The new recruits were mustered in on Oct. 13th and departed on the 14th for Camp Washburn, near Milwaukee, for nine weeks of training.  Ten companies, of almost 100 men each, responded to the call for more soldiers.  Six of these companies were from Waukesha County, and four (including Company K) were from Walworth. 



Company Rosters

HYPERLINK "http://www.28thwisconsin.com/rosters/companya.html" Company A
Lewis Guards
Capt. John A. Williams

HYPERLINK "http://www.28thwisconsin.com/rosters/companyb.html" Company B
Waukesha Minute Men
Capt. Mandeville G. Townsend
Capt. Charles B. Slawson

HYPERLINK "http://www.28thwisconsin.com/rosters/companyc.html" Company C
Whittaker Guards
HYPERLINK "
http://www.28thwisconsin.com/veterans/tstevens.html" Capt. Thomas N. Stevens

HYPERLINK "http://www.28thwisconsin.com/rosters/companyd.html" Company D
Whitewater Co. No. 3
Capt. Edward S. Redington

HYPERLINK "http://www.28thwisconsin.com/rosters/companye.html" Company E
Federal Guards
Capt. James R. Kenyon

HYPERLINK "http://www.28thwisconsin.com/rosters/companyf.html" Company F
Badger Guards
HYPERLINK "
http://www.28thwisconsin.com/veterans/cc_white.html" Capt. Calvert C. White
Capt. Archie D. Montieth

HYPERLINK "http://www.28thwisconsin.com/rosters/companyg.html" Company G
Hodgson Guards
HYPERLINK "
http://www.28thwisconsin.com/veterans/e_enos.html" Capt. Elihu Enos, Jr.

HYPERLINK "http://www.28thwisconsin.com/rosters/companyh.html" Company H
The Sigel Guards
Capt. Herman A. Meyer, Jr.
Capt. James Murray

HYPERLINK "http://www.28thwisconsin.com/rosters/companyi.html" Company I
The LaFayette Guards
Capt. Horace B. Crandall
Capt. Andrew F. Shiverick
Capt. Lyndsey J. Smith

Company K
Wylie Guards
Capt. Ira H. Morton
Capt. Levi J. Billings



Last Updated: 07/07/2008 13:55:08
Webmaster:  HYPERLINK "%20mailto:webmaster@28thwisconsin.com?subject=28th%20Wisconsin%20Web%20Site" Kent A. Peterson

 


On December 20, 1862, the newly trained Regiment was loaded onto railroad cars and shipped south to join the Union forces at Columbus, Kentucky, where their first assignment was primarily related to performing guard duty around the fort. 


From here, in February, 1863, the 28th Wisconsin Regiment was moved down the Mississippi to a fort at Helena, Arkansas to support General Grant in his campaign against Vicksburg.  We don’t have a lot of specific details about the position and deployment of Company K, but it was included, along with others, in the history of their entire regiment.  In the course of their first year in the war, they were involved in three significant campaigns, as a part of the greater operation of defeating the Confederacy at Vicksburg, and splitting the military efforts of the South between those of the deep-south, from those of the western forces in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.  The major military efforts of the 28th Regiment included:

The Yazoo Pass Expedition (Mississippi)

The Battle of Helena (Arkansas)

The capture of Little Rock (Arkansas)


After these efforts, the Regiment eventually marched through Texas and ended the War in Brownsville, before being returned home to Wisconsin.  More men died of diseases contracted in the infested swamps than from enemy fire.  This included Captain Ira H. Morton, who died at Little Rock, Arkansas on September 18, 1863 due to one of the swamp fevers that devastated so many of the troops.  Below is a description of the three major engagements of this regiment.  (Taken from the Website of the Twenty-Eighth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry.)   Captain Ira H. Morton led his company in each of these engagements until his death outside of Little Rock, Arkansas. 




Yazoo Pass Expedition
A Failed Attack on Fort Pemberton
24 February - 5 April 1863


The Yazoo Pass Expedition occured in Mississippi during February and March 1863, as part of an effort by General Grant to capture Vicksburg. The plan was for a joint Army-Navy force to go through the Yazoo Pass, about 300 miles north of Vicksburg, and proceed via the Coldwater, Tallahatchie, and Yazoo Rivers to reach high ground east of Vicksburg. The Navy provided two iron-clads, six tin-clads, and two rams, which were joined by a division of 4,000 men under the command of General L.F. Ross

HYPERLINK "JavaScript:%20newWindow%20=%20openWin(%20'/gifs/moonlake_wilsonmap.jpg',%20'moonlake',%20'width=800,height=520,toolbar=0,location=0,directories=0,status=0,menuBar=1,scrollBars=0,resizable=1'%20);%20newWindow.focus()" View a map by Lieut. Col. J. H. Wilson, U.S. Army, Chief Topographical Engineer.


The expedition cleared the Coldwater River on 6 March, and reached the junction of the Tallahatchie and Yazoo Rivers on the 10th. Here the Confederates had constructed Fort Pemberton, and sunk the Star of the West in the river channel as an obstruction. The fortifications were composed of seven tiers of cotton bales and eight feet of earth outside, with several heavy guns.

Chillicothe and Baron DeKalb, with the other ships of the Yazoo Pass Expedition behind, engaged Fort Pemberton. However, the river was so narrow that only two gunboats could attack at any one time and the area around the fort was so waterlogged that troops could not be landed. The expedition ultimately had to retire without achieving its purpose.

With the fleet tied up at the nearby Curtis Plantation, the  HYPERLINK "http://www.indianainthecivilwar.com/rgmnt/46ind.htm" 46th Indiana was sent out on reconnaissance. They soon encountered Rebel pickets, and skirmished in the woods briefly before the Confederates began retreating to the safety of their fort. The 28th Wisconsin was ordered down the right bank of the river in support of the 46th Indiana. The iron-clad Chillicothe steamed down into view of the fort and began lobbing 11-inch shells.

Ultimately, the Federal Naval guns were unable to inflict much damage on the fort, and the infantry found little firm ground on which to mount an attack. The expedition withdrew on 5 April, leaving its mission incomplete.

This was one of the 28th Regiment's first combat situations during the Civil War. The story is told by members of the 28th Regiment, as recorded in their diaries and letters.

The following soldiers have been quoted for this story:

HYPERLINK "http://www.28thwisconsin.com/veterans/tstevens.html" Capt. Thomas N. Stevens, Co. C
HYPERLINK "
http://www.28thwisconsin.com/veterans/e_enos.html" Capt. Elihu Enos, Co. G
HYPERLINK "
http://www.28thwisconsin.com/veterans/l_barker.html" Sergt. Lauren Barker, Co. A
Sergt. George Sawyer Co. A
HYPERLINK "
http://www.28thwisconsin.com/veterans/c_wildish.html" Cpl. Charles H. Wildish, Co. A


Capt. Enos: (aboard steamer St. Louis) During the day we passed many splendid plantations, most of them deserted by the white people, and left in the sole possession of the 'colored' population, who greeted us with every demonstration they could think of--waving of hats and handkerchiefs, jumping up and down, clapping of hands, shouting, &c.-- In some instances there were the whole black populations of a plantation standing upon the bank, with their bundles, a mule or two, a bale of cotton which they had succeeded in saving from the rebels ...

Capt. Stevens: We landed yesterday two miles above here, and marched down here about 3 P.M. The gunboats were one or two of them in advance. While we were marching down, one of the gunboats opened on the Rebel battery, which almost immediately replied, and here we had our first sight & heard the first sounds of real war.... The first shot fell just at my left and opposite the head of my company, as we were marching down the river bank, striking the water about 4 rods from me. The next passed just over our heads. The third struck a tree in front, bringing down some dead limbs about Col. Lewis' horse's heels.

Sgt. Barker: ...we marched into the woods toward the fort with our drum corps playing a lively tune and the Rebel shell screaming over our heads. We had not gone far into the woods when the enemy got range on us by the sound of the music and sent a sixty-four pound shot that lodged in a large oak tree just in front of the regiment, and I often think how many lives that tree saved for us.

Sgt. Sawyer: Shortly, the second gun was fired, and again another and another, until someone suggested to the Colonel that it would be proper for our regiment to file right into line of battle and thus relieve ourselves from the dangerous exposure of marching into the face of the enemy by columns of fours. At the same time a request was made that the band cease playing. That scene was quite novel, that a regiment should march up before the enemy in columns of fours, as much to say, we desire to give you all notice possible that we are coming. We soon learned by experience that this was not considered good military tactics.

Capt. Stevens: One of our gunboats met with quite an accident, & hauled off. They were loading, when a shell struck the shell they were putting in when they both exploded, killing one man and wounding 18. Three have since died. This was all there was of the engagement. Our regiment was out on picket all night, and are yet. We are to be relieved at 11 o'clock today.

  INCLUDEPICTURE "http://www.28thwisconsin.com/gifs/dekalb2.jpg" \* MERGEFORMATINET


The Baron DeKalb, formerly known as the St. Louis.

Capt. Enos: This morning, while standing at this battery, (which is within 500 yards of the rebel fort) in company with Gen. Rose, Salomon and Fisk, the enemy fired two guns at us. The balls made merry music among the limbs of the trees over our heads, and sent us all back to the rear in 'double quick time', I assure you.

Sgt. Barker: Several days were spent skirmishing and getting ready to take the fort. A council of officers was held and it was decided that the two gunboats, Chillicothe and HYPERLINK "http://www.28thwisconsin.com/service/dekalb.html" Baron De Kalb, with the land battery we had made, could silence the guns in Fort Pemberton, and then a good storming party could capture the fort. Five companies of the 28th were chosen for this duty, and they went on board the gunboat Signal while the other boats opened fire on the fort, but two guns of the Chillicothe were soon disabled, so that they all withdrew, and the 28th was saved from slaughter.

Sgt. Sawyer: After several days skirmishing as well as firing on the part of our line of batteries and gunboats we deemed it impossible for us to capture Fort Pemberton in our front. Orders were issued for the return of the entire command to Helena (Arkansas).

Cpl. Wildish: We start early this morning and run pretty fast all day. About noon come to a halt, turn around, and go back again down the river. This goes rather against the grain with most of us.

Sgt. Sawyer: On going back up the Tallahatchie we met Gen. Quinby coming down with re-enforcements, also with orders for us to return and make a second attack on the enemy.... all of which we did, going through the same maneuvers that we did before.

Cpl. Wildish: Quinby's brigade has joined us. We arrived at our old camping ground at about 2 o'clock today. Our regiment is gone out on picket. Cos. A and B are left behind. It begins to rain. Our cavalry boys brought in fourteen rebel prisoners. Went to see them. These are the first secesh I have seen.

Capt. Stevens: Still we are here in our old position, getting ready for the siege of the fort...our forces are getting siege guns mounted, making reconnoisances &c. We are kept pretty busy with picket and other duties. The Rebels continue to fire at us as we are at work on the fortifications. Shot & shell reach us there quite profusely at times, though they usually fire only once in every half hour or so, except they discover some party of men moving in that vicinity, when they fire oftener.

Cpl. Wildish: Bake some cakes today. Wonder what mother would think to see me mixing up dough. The boys are all busy cooking up their flour this forenoon. We don't make very much progress in the way of taking the fort. We read in the papers today that we are clear down to Yazoo City. So much for the papers.

Cpl. Wildish: Today we make a raid out into the country. We go onto the boat, went up the river ten miles, then marched ten more out to McNutt, the county seat of some county. We took twelve prisoners and as many horses.

Sgt. Sawyer: A small portion of our regiment went out on a scout one afternoon to a little town called McNutt and captured some Confederate mail.

Capt. Stevens: As I had anticipated we were ordered on board the boats Saturday evening, and at daylight... our pickets were called in, and we left for Helena - or somewhere else. I think the Rebels could have been captured if a persistent effort had been made to do it, but it may be as well as it is. We have left something like a dozen dead upon the banks of the Tallahatchie... other regiments have probably lost as many in proportion.


Last Update: Monday, 7 July 2008
Webmaster:  HYPERLINK "%20mailto:webmaster@28thwisconsin.com?subject=28th%20Wisconsin%20Web%20Site" Kent A. Peterson




Battle of Helena

And Fort Curtis




Report by Lt. Col. E.B. Gray
Role of the 28th Wisconsin in the Battle of Helena

 Headquarters 28th Wisc. Vol. Infy.
Helena, Ark. July 5th 1863

Lieut. W.E. Whitredge
A.A.A. Genl. 1st Brigade 13th Divn.

Sir-

I have to report that the 28th Wisc. Inftry Vols. during the engagement of yesterday occupied the Riflepits on the right and left of Battery "B" on the St. Francis Road.

Company "G" under the Command of 1st Lieut. David Turner was on duty as advance guard on the Little Rock road, at the opening of the engagement, and being driven back by the enemys advance, joined the forces supporting Battery "D" and took part in the fight at that point.

Company "J" under the command of 2nd Lieut. Slawson was posted by the direction of the commanding General in the ravine on the left of the Riflepits, and did good service against the enemy on their advance toward Fort Curtiss, returning after the repulse to their place in the Riflepits.

Companies "A. D. E. & K. did considerable execution upon the Rebel forces, with their rifles at long range, and Companie "D" Captain Redington brought into Head Quarters about One Hundred prisoners.

Company "F" was detached from my Regiment and I am unable to state, what part they took in the engagement of yesterday.

I cannot but commend all, both Officers and Men, for their promptness and bravery throughout.

The casualties in my Command are

Wounded - five, of whom One has since died.
Missing - five.

Very respectfully,
E.B. Gray, Lieut. Col.
Commdg 28th Wisc. Regt.



SOURCE: Historical Society of Wisconsin Archives
Spelling and punctuation is per original document.


Last Update: Monday, 7 July 2008
Webmaster:  HYPERLINK "%20mailto:webmaster@28thwisconsin.com?subject=28th%20Wisconsin%20Web%20Site" Kent A. Peterson

 

The Battle of Helena
by  HYPERLINK "http://www.28thwisconsin.com/salomon.html" Brig. General Frederick Salomon
4 July 1863


The following account of the Battle of Helena, Arkansas, was written by General Frederick Salomon some thirty years after the War's end to members of the Society of the 28th Wisconsin Vol. Infantry. The General had been invited to attend the 11th annual reunion of the regiment but was unable to attend, and so forwarded his written account to be read at the reunion and published in the proceedings.

Source: transcribed from an original draft held by Mary Lou Salomon, a descendant of General Salomon, and generously made available for use on this web page.


Eleventh Annual Meeting of
The Society of the 28th Wisconsin Vol. Infantry
Held at Mukwonago, Wisconsin, June 21st and 22nd, 1893.


Battle of Helena, Second Paper
Salt Lake City, Utah, June 9th, 1893
S. R. Bell, Esq., Sec., Soc. 28th Wis. Regt. Vol. Inf.

My Dear Sir:

Your kind letter of June 1st, ‘93 has been received; and enclosed please find the desired account and sketch of the battle of Helena, Ark., July 4th, 1863. With my best wishes for your success in the reunion of the old brave 28th Wis. I am,

Truly Yours,

FRED. SALOMON.



Comrades of the 28th Regiment Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, GREETING:

I have been requested to address you at your annual reunion to be held at Mukwonago, Wis., June 21st and 22nd, 1893, on the battle of Helena, Arkansas, July 4th, 1863, in which you bore such a prominent part thirty years ago. Unable to be there personally, I will be wish you in thought, and send you, with my best wishes, my recollections of that memorable battle, and while I write this, the battle with all its details and excitements is clearly before me.

Helena is situated in Arkansas, on the right bank of the Mississippi River; it is bounded on the west and northwest by pretty high and steep hills, heavily timbered. On a spur of these hills, running south, is Fort Curtis, armed with five 24 and two 32 pounders. But the Fort, built principally to control the Mississippi River, is subject to the fire of common muskets of those days from the higher adjoining hills. The south side of Helena is open and level, a splendid opportunity for cavalry charges. General Prentiss commanded the Military District, General Ross the Forces and Defences of Helena, and when Gen. Ross left on a leave of absence of thirty days in the commencement of June, I was placed in command of said Forces and Defences. At the time General Prentiss informed me that the enemy, reported to be 20,000 strong, was marching from Little Rock eastward.

I then commenced the fortifications, and rushed them energetically. On the crest of the hills, west of town and Fort Curtis, I erected four batteries, which were given in charge of the 33d Mo. These batteries were connected with rifle pits. From the two extreme batteries A and D, rifle pits were run east to the levee of the Mississippi River, and on the south side of the town; in addition to the rifle pits, a line of Trous de loup in fence against cavalry charges were constructed, the whole line being seven miles long. Besides this the trees in front of the batteries were cut down, the roads except two made impassible; in short, the soldiers, only 3,500 strong, had hard work to do in that scorching June sun.

The first of July arrived; there was no knowledge of the whereabouts of the enemy; scouting cavalry forces did not find him, yet all indications forboded an early attack. I then ordered the whole force to fall in at the rifle pits every morning before daybreak. After adjusting the number of troops to the line, every man knew his place, and when before daybreak of the fourth of July the alarm gun was fired, the men hurried to their posts without confusion, awaiting the enemy. The enemy, under command of Lieut. Gen. Holmes, with Generals Price, Marmaduke, Fagan and other Generals, intended to make a simultaneous attack from all sides at daybreak, but owing to the obstructions in the roads and the cutting down of the trees they failed in it, and when they afterwards made an energetic but disconnected attack on various points of my line of defence, they gave me the chance to reinforce my troops at the endangered places.

Everything looked favorable, so that at about eight o’clock, after fighting for over four hours, and after repelling the assaults upon batteries C and D three times, I could send my Adjutant Blocki to Gen. Prentiss with the report, that I hoped to be able to hold the place.

Then a phenomenon, perhaps known only on the Mississippi, threatened to frustrate all our hopes. A fog rose from the bottom of the valley, white, thick. It rose quick, covering everything from view. No one could see the approach of the enemy. Then the fog still rose, leaving everything clear below it; then I saw innumerable legs, the upper part of the bodies still in the fog, marching on Fort Curtis. General Price had taken Battery C, had broken my line. I opened fire at once from the heavy guns of Fort Curtis; the troops on the south line were thrown against the storming enemy; two pieces of artillery received the enemy with cannister from south east; two from north east batteries D and E relieved at that moment, opened at their flanks and rear; they were under five different artillery crossfires; a few minutes of thunder; a white handkerchief; cease firing; an hour later the first lot of prisoners steamed north toward Memphis.

The battle was virtually over.

The next day reinforcements came from Memphis, the enemy was pursued, but could not be overtaken. On the same day, July 4th, 1863, Vicksburg, the long contested stronghold of the enemy, was surrendered to Gen. Grant, who sent Sherman immediately with his army east to fight the approaching enemy.

Comrades, think what a change might have been made in the whole warfare with Helena in possession of the enemy.

Your friend and comrade,

FRED. SALOMON.


Last Update: Monday, 7 July 2008
Webmaster:  HYPERLINK "%20mailto:webmaster@28thwisconsin.com?subject=28th%20Wisconsin%20Web%20Site" Kent A. Peterson

 

Attack on Helena, Arkansas
Reports of Maj. Gen. Benjamin M. Prentiss, U.S. Army,
Commanding District of Eastern Arkansas
July 4, 1863

HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF EASTERN ARKANSAS,
Helena, Ark, July 9, 1863.

COLONEL; I have the honor to forward the following detailed report of the battle of Helena:

In addition to the vague rumors that have been floating in the public press for several weeks past, I had been informed by trusty scouts that the enemy was co11ecting his forces with the evident intention of making a demonstration at some point on this side of the river. Conceiving that Helena might be attacked sooner or later, I omitted no precaution and spared no labor to add to and strengthen its defenses. To this end I caused rifle-pits to be dug, substantial breastworks to be thrown up, and four outlying batteries to be erected in commanding positions on the bluffs west of the town, and designated respectively from right to left (north and south) by the letters A, B, C, and D.

For ten days previous to the battle, indications of a premeditated attack on this place began to multiply; citizens from the country were not permitted to come to our lines; disaffected residents were unusually reserved, and the enemy's pickets were pushed forward and strengthened. Advised of the character of one of the principal generals said to be in this vicinity, I expected the attack, if one was to be made, would be sudden, and at an early hour in the morning. It was, therefore, ordered, a week previous to the battle, that the entire garrison should be up and under arms at 2.30 o'clock each morning. Wednesday night I learned definitely that the enemy had collected a large force at Spring Creek, distant some 15 miles from Helena, and that an attack would not be long delayed. Arrangements had been made by my patriotic regimental commanders for celebrating in a fit and becoming manner the approaching anniversary of our National Independence. In view of the length of line to be defended by so small a number of troops, it was deemed imprudent to permit the garrison to be assembled en masse, and on Friday, therefore, orders were issued prohibiting a general celebration on the following day. Events justified these precautions.

On Saturday morning, July 4, at 3 o'clock, my pickets were attacked by the enemy's skirmishers. They made an obstinate resistance, holding the enemy well in check until 4 o'clock, when they reached over rifle-pits and breastworks, and joined their respective regiments, which before this time had assumed their designated positions in the entrenchments. The attack was now commenced in earnest, in front and on the right flank; lint the enemy, although assured by his overwhelming numbers of a speedy victory, were driven back again and again. For four hours the battle raged furiously, the enemy gaining little, if any, advantage. Now, however, the attack in front became more furious; the enemy covered every hill-top, swarmed in every ravine, but seemed to be massing his force more particularly against Battery C. I now signaled the gunboat Tyler, the only one at hand, Lieutenant Commander Pritchett commanding, to open fire in that direction. The enemy (Parsons' and McRae's brigades), nothing daunted by the concentrated fire from Fort Curtis, Batteries B, C, and D, the Tyler, and all the infantry I could bring to their support, and led, as I since learn, by Lieutenant-General Holmes and Major-General Price in person, charged upon Battery C. Twice they were repulsed, but the third time, exhibiting a courage and desperation rarely equaled, they succeeded in driving my small force at the point of the bayonet and capturing the battery. Dividing his forces, and sending a part, as a feint, to menace Fort Curtis, the enemy then assaulted Battery D, to reach which they must pass through a deep ravine and encounter a heavy cross-fire. The enemy faltered, seeing which the men in Battery D, and those behind the breastworks, and in the rifle-pits supporting it, sallied forth, and, surrounding more than three times their number, brought them off prisoners. Not to be outdone by their comrades, the men who had been supporting Battery C, assisted by a detachment (dismounted) from the First Indiana Cavalry, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel [T. N.] Pace, gallantly charged upon the enemy in Battery C, retaking it, and capturing as well a large number of prisoners. This was about 10 o'clock. I immediately dispatched two of my aides to carry this information to Colonels [S. A.] Rice and [Powell] Clayton, who, with the remnants of two small brigades, were holding the enemy in check on the right flank, where the attack was only less severe and successful than it had been in front. At 10.30 it became evident that the enemy was withdrawing his forces; but, unaware how severely he had been punished, and learning somewhat of the strength of his forces from prisoners. I could but believe it was for the purpose of massing and attacking my left flank, which I considered the weakest point. The attack was not resumed, however, and, summing up the enemy's loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners, I am no longer surprised. Skirmishing to cover a retreat was kept up until 2 p.m., at which hour all firing ceased.

In the order published to his troops on the 23d of June ultimo, General Holmes says, "The invaders have been driven from every point in Arkansas save one--Helena. We go to retake it." I am happy to be able, to say that the attempt to haul down the Stars and Stripes, on the 4th of July, was an ignominious failure. In short, sir, my whole command not only succeeded in repulsing the enemy's attack, and thus holding Helena, which, if I mistake not, is all that was expected of it, but, in addition, administered to the enemy as severe punishment as he ever received west of the Mississippi, and this, too, with a loss to itself so small as to seem almost miraculous, as will sufficiently appear from the following statistics:

My whole force numbered--

Infantry:
Commissioned officers - 162
Enlisted men - 2,966

Cavalry:
Commissioned officers - 47
Enlisted men - 784

Artillery:
Commissioned officers - 4
Enlisted men - 166

Total - 4,129

The enemy's force, from the best information I can obtain from prisoners and deserters, consisted of eight brigades, formed out of thirty-seven regiments, and numbered, at a low estimate, in aggregate 15,000 men, and was commanded by one lieutenant-general (Holmes), one major-general (Price), and seven brigadier-generals.

My troops lost in--

Killed:
Commissioned officers - 3
Enlisted men - 54

Wounded:
Commissioned officers - 4
Enlisted men - 123

Missing:
Enlisted men - 36

Total(*) - 220

We have buried of the enemy's killed, at least - 400
Of wounded and since dead - 27
Paroled of his wounded - 108
Sent North wounded - 212
Remaining at Helena wounded - 7
Sent North as prisoners, in addition to wounded - 727
Remaining in Helena - 47

The enemy's surgeons admit a loss in wounded ranging from 1,200 to 1,500. His total loss, therefore, in killed, wounded, and prisoners, cannot be less than 2,500. We have also captured 2 colors and near1y 2,000 stand of arms. My thanks, as well as those of the nation at large, are due Brig. Gen. F. Salomon, who commanded the Thirteenth Division, Thirteenth Army Corps, in the temporary absence of Brigadier General Ross, and to whom had been assigned the special supervision of the defenses of Helena; to Col. William E. McLean, Forty-third Indiana Infantry, commanding First Brigade, who held the left flank, and rendered very efficient service on the left wing of the center, about Batteries C and D; to Colonels [S. A.] Rice, Thirty-third Iowa Infantry, commanding Second Brigade, and [Powell] Clayton, Fifth Kansas Cavalry, commanding cavalry brigade, who held the right flank; to one and all the officers and men composing the garrison of Helena, and to Lieutenant-Commander Pritchett and the men under his command for very timely and efficient co-operation. The guns in Fort Curtis and Batteries A, B; C, and D, were handled with great precision and success by the Thirty-third Missouri Infantry.

The members of my personal staff were efficient and tireless in the discharge of their duties. The result shows that all did well, and are entitled to honorable mention.

My command consisted of the following regiments and batteries: Forty-third Indiana Infantry, Twenty-eighth Wisconsin Infantry, Thirty-third Iowa Infantry, Twenty-ninth Iowa Infantry, Thirty-fifth Missouri Infantry, Thirty-third Missouri Infantry, Thirty-sixth Iowa Infantry, Third Iowa, Battery K, First Missouri Light Artillery, constituting the Thirteenth Division, Thirteenth Army Corps; Fifth Kansas Cavalry and First Indiana Cavalry, constituting the cavalry brigade; and the Second Regiment of Arkansas Volunteers of African descent.

I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

B. M. PRENTISS,
Major-general.

Lieut. Col. JOHN A. RAWLINS,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Department of the Tennessee.



Last Update: Monday, 7 July 2008
Webmaster:  HYPERLINK "%20mailto:webmaster@28thwisconsin.com?subject=28th%20Wisconsin%20Web%20Site" Kent A. Peterson

 



INCLUDEPICTURE "http://www.28thwisconsin.com/gifs/helena.gif" \* MERGEFORMATINET






Some Incidents Regarding the 28th Regiment
by Sgt. Lauren Barker, Co. A


These lines were penned by Lauren Barker some thirty-two years after the Civil War had ended, on the occasion of the Fifteenth Annual Reunion of the 28th Regiment. Sgt. Barker's words were published in the proceedings of the reunion, which was held 24 June 1897 at Elkhorn, Wisconsin. No doubt his comrades appreciated his wry humor as he related these often-told stories of the 28th Wisconsin.


By request of comrades I will relate a few incidents of the 28th Regiment, and in doing so will state facts only as my memory and diary recall them, and will not detract a hair from any regiment or soldier in the service. Our regiment did its duty and always bore a good name.

I will pass by our exploits in Milwaukee and Port Washington and some other places, and begin with the Yazoo Pass.

Boys, you remember what a terrible place that was for boats to go and how disagreeable for the soldiers on the hurricane decks with no shelter and the limbs of the trees breaking the railings off of the boat and sweeping some of our things into the river. On the 11th of March 1863 we landed near Fort Pemberton and marched into the woods toward the fort with our drum corps playing a lively tune and the rebel shell screaming over our heads. We had not gone far into the woods when the enemy got range on us by the sound of the music and sent a sixty-four pound shot that lodged in a large oak tree just in front of the regiment, and I often think how many lives that tree saved for us. Music ceased and we got out of range very quickly. Company A stayed on the skirmish line all night and until the next evening.

Several days were spent skirmishing and getting ready to take the fort. A council of officers was held and it was thought that the two gunboats, Chillicothe and Baron De Kalb, with the land battery we had made, could silence the guns in Fort Pemberton, and then a good storming party could capture the fort. Five companies of the 28th were chosen for this duty, and they went on board the gunboat Signal while the other boats opened fire on the fort, but two guns of the Chillicothe were soon disabled, so that they all withdrew, and the 28th was saved from slaughter. A party of sharpshooters was chosen from the regiment and sent through the water to pick off their gunners, and most of these (men) contracted disease that caused their death, and a large number contracted disease there and died at Helena.

We all remember our hard work at Helena before the battle, and how the boys said it was useless. After I called the roll of Company A, at 3 o'clock a.m., one of our boys (Ira Woodcock) told me it was a humbug and that our officers were afraid that they would be ordered to Vicksburg, and said there were not 500 rebels anywhere in that part of the country. It was but a few minutes after this when the alarm gun in Fort Curtis was fired and we sprang to arms. As we stood in line near Battery B the minnie balls came thick and the captain of the Battery told Col. Gray to send one of his men to the left with orders to have the men lie down as they were drawing the fire of the enemy and three of his men were wounded. O.W. Carlson sprang from the ranks and said: "Colonel, let me go," and he went across the ridge on the double-quick with the order and returned in safety.

Later in the day as we were engaged with the enemy, Oscar discovered a sharpshooter behind a stump loading his gun, and, as his gun was loaded, he said, "Boys, I will shoot at that Reb behind the stump." He did so and the Reb did not shoot at us anymore, but we buried him after the battle. Our forces that day were 3,500 all told, while the Confederates had from twelve to fifteen thousand men and an extra number of generals, perhaps too many. It was a great victory for our side, but everything was ready to receive them and every man knew his place and did his duty.

I could say much more of this battle, but so much has been written about it I will pass on. There was an order issued two or three days after the battle that every battery should fire a salute at sunrise the next morning; this order was to be read at dress parade, but somehow it was not read to us, and when the first shot was fired Company A formed in line and went out to Battery B on the double-quick. The Battery boys asked what we came for and we told them to defend the place and they said it was only a salute in honor of our victory on the 4th, and they gave three cheers for the Wisconsin boys and we returned to camp.


Last Update: Monday, 7 July 2008
Webmaster:  HYPERLINK "%20mailto:webmaster@28thwisconsin.com?subject=28th%20Wisconsin%20Web%20Site" Kent A. Peterson






Order of Battle
Battle of Helena, Arkansas
4 July 1863


Jump ahead to the  HYPERLINK "http://www.28thwisconsin.com/service/helena.html" \l "southern#southern" Confederate Forces Order of Battle


UNION FORCES
XIII Army Corps, Maj. Gen O.C. Ord (headquartered near Vicksburg, Miss.)
District of Eastern Arkansas,  HYPERLINK "
http://www.28thwisconsin.com/prentiss.html" Maj. Gen. Benjamin M. Prentiss

                                                          CASUALTIES:

                                                    Killed  Wounded  Missing


Thirteenth Division,  HYPERLINK "http://www.28thwisconsin.com/salomon.html" Brig. Gen. Frederick Salomon

  1st Brigade, Col. William E. McLean

     HYPERLINK "http://www.thnet.com/~liggetkw/incw/rgmnt/43ind.htm" 43rd Indiana Infantry, Lt. Col. J.C. Major.....   3        6        0

    35th Missouri Infantry, Lt. Col. H. Fitch......   2        4        5

     HYPERLINK "http://www.28thwisconsin.com/" 28th Wisconsin Infantry,  HYPERLINK "http://www.28thwisconsin.com/veterans/ebgray.html" Lt. Col. E.B. Gray....   4       18        0

                                                     ___      ___      ___

                      Total Casualties, 1st Brigade   9       28        5                         



  2nd Brigade, Col. Samuel A. Rice

    29th Iowa Infantry, Col. T.H. Benton...........   7       24        0

    33rd Iowa Infantry, Lt. Col. C.H. Mackey.......  19       50       16

     HYPERLINK "http://iowa-counties.com/civilwar/" 36th Iowa Infantry, Col. C.W. Kettredge........   1        0        5

    33rd Missouri Infantry, Lt. Col. W.H. Heath....  16       25        9

                                                     ___      ___      ___

                      Total Casualties, 2nd Brigade  43       99       30                         



  Cavalry Brigade, Col. Powell Clayton

     HYPERLINK "http://www.holli.com/~ligget/1incav.html" 1st Indiana Cavalry, Lt. Col. T.N. Pace........   2        8        1

    (The 1st Indiana Cavalry was equipped with

      three 2-pounder guns)

    5th Kansas Cavalry, Lt. Col. W.A. Jenkins......   3       10        0

                                                     ___      ___      ___

                  Total Casualties, Cavalry Brigade   5       18        1                         



  Artillery

    3rd Battery, Iowa Light Artillery (6 guns),

      Lt. M.C. Wright..............................   0        0        0

    Company K, 1st Missouri Light Artillery

      (4 guns), Lt. J. O'Connell...................   0        1        0

                                                     ___      ___      ___

                        Total Casualties, Artillery   0        1        0



    2nd Arkansas Infantry (African Descent),

      Maj. G.W. Burchard...........................    No Losses Reported



              Total Casualties, Thirteenth Division  57       146      36

Prentiss' command numbered 4,129 officers and men. In addition to the 13 guns listed above, there were three 30-pounder Parrotts mounted in Fort Curtiss and two field guns mounted in each of the four gun Batteries (Batteries A, B, C, and D).




ORDER OF BATTLE

Battle of Helena, Arkansas

4 July 1863


CONFEDERATE FORCES
Trans-Mississippi Department, Lt. Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith
District of Arkansas, Lt. Gen. Theophilus H. Holmes

                                                          CASUALTIES:

                                                    Killed  Wounded  Missing


Price's Division, Maj. Gen. Sterling Price

  1st Brigade, Brig. Gen. Dandridge McRae

    32nd Arkansas Infantry, Col. L.C. Gause.....      17       46       26   

    36th Arkansas Infantry, Col. J.E. Glenn.....      21       70       68

    39th Arkansas Infantry, Col. R.A. Hart,     

        (wounded and captured)

        Lt. Col. J.W. Rogan.....................       8       46       39

    Marshall's Arkansas Battery (4 guns),

        Capt. J.G. Marshall.....................       0        6        0   

                                                     ___      ___      ___

               Total Casualties, McRae's Brigade      46      168      133                          



  4th Brigade, Brig. Gen. Mosby M. Parsons

    7th Missouri Infantry, Col. L.M. Lewis......      17      126       53   

     HYPERLINK "http://home.swbell.net/jamesrey/8mohisha.htm" 8th Missouri Infantry, Col. S.P. Burns......      14       82       67

    9th Missouri Infantry, Col. J.D. White......       7       43        0

    10th Missouri Infantry, Col. A.C. Pickett...      11       41      237

    9th Missouri Sharpshooter Battalion,

         Maj. L.A. Pindall......................       9       26        8

    Tilden's Missouri Battery (4 guns),

        Capt. C.B. Tilden.......................       1        8        3

                                                     ___      ___      ___

              Total Casualties, Parsons' Brigade      59      326      368                      

                                                     ___      ___      ___

                Total Casualties, Price's Column     105      494      501



  2nd Brigade, Brig. Gen. James F. Fagan

    34th Arkansas Infantry, Col. W.H. Brooks....       0        1        0 

    35th Arkansas Infantry, Col. J.P. King......      16       44       15

    27th Arkansas Infantry, Col. S.S. Bell

        (captured); Maj. T.H. Blacknall.........      14       17      191

    Hawthorn's Arkansas Infantry,

        Col. A.T. Hawthorn......................      17       53       67 

                                                     ___      ___      ___

               Total Casualties, Fagan's Column       47      115      273



  The following units were attached to

  Fagan's Brigade:

    Miller's Company Arkansas Cavalry,                     No

      Capt. J.J. Miller                                    Losses

    Denson's Company Louisiana Cavalry,                    Reported

      Capt. W.B. Denson

    One undesignated company of cavalry

    Etter's Arkansas Battery (4 guns),

      Capt. C.B. Etter

    Blocker's Arkansas Battery (4 guns),

      Capt. W.D. Blocker



  Marmaduke's Division,

      Brig. Gen. John S. Marmaduke

    Staff.......................................       0        1        0

                                                     ___      ___      ___                                   

                                     Total Staff       0        1        0



  1st Brigade, Col. Joseph G. Shelby (wounded),

      Col. G.W. Thompson

    Staff.......................................       0        2        0

      5th Missouri Cavalry Regiment,

        Lt. Col. B.F. Gordon....................       3        3        8

      6th Missouri Cavalry Regiment,

        Col. G.W. Thompson,

        Lt. Col. J.C. Hooper....................       1       17        1

      Jeans' Missouri Cavalry Regiment,

        Col. B.G. Jeans.........................       3        9        0

      1st Missouri Cavalry Battalion,

        Maj. B. Elliott.........................       0        0        0

      Bledsoe's Missouri Battery (4 guns),

        Capt. J. Bledsoe........................       1        6        1

                                                     ___      ___      ___

                   Total Casualties, 1st Brigade       8       37       10       



  2nd Brigade, Col. Colton Greene

      3rd Missouri Cavalry Regiment,

        Lt. Col. L.C. Campbell..................       3        6        0

      8th Missouri Cavalry Regiment,

        Col. W.L. Jeffers.......................       1        0        0

      Young's Missouri Cavalry Battalion,

        Lt. Col. M.L. Young.....................       1        1        0

      Bell's Missouri Battery (4 guns),

        Capt. C.O. Bell.........................       0        0        0

                                                     ___      ___      ___

              Total Casualties, Greene's Brigade       5        7        0

                                                     ___      ___      ___

          Total Casualties, Marmaduke's Division      13       44       10




  Walker's Brigade, Brig. Gen. L. Marsh Walker

      5th Arkansas Cavalry Regiment,

        Col. R.C. Newton........................       No Losses Reported

      Dobbin's Arkansas Cavalry Regiment,

        Col. A.S. Dobbins (4 field guns were

        assigned to Dobbin't unit)..............       4        8        0

                                                     ___      ___      ___

             Total Casualties, Walker's Brigade        4        8        0


                                                     ___      ___      ___

                 Total Casualties, Holmes' Army      169      659      786

             



Last Update: Monday, 7 July 2008
Webmaster:  HYPERLINK "%20mailto:webmaster@28thwisconsin.com?subject=28th%20Wisconsin%20Web%20Site" Kent A. Peterson

 






The Battle for Little Rock, Arkansas

Or Bayou Forche



Less has been written about this engagement.  Primarily it involved the Union forces slowly moving inland toward the city of Little Rock as the Confederate forces withdrew.  The Union’s Cavalry led in the movement of the troops toward the town.  Most of the actions were merely skirmishes, but there was a brief resistance of forces from the Confederacy before the Union soldiers took the town.  A description of the campaign includes:


“On September 10, 1863, Maj. Gen. Fred Steele, Army of Arkansas commander, sent Brig. Gen. John W. Davidson’s cavalry division across the Arkansas River to move on Little Rock, while he took other troops to attack Confederates entrenched on the north side.  In his thrust toward Little Rock, Davidson ran into Confederate troops at Bayou Fourche.  Aided by Union artillery fire from the north side of the river, Davidson forced them out of their position and set them fleeing back to Little Rock, which fell to Union troops that evening.  Bayou Fourche sealed Little Rock’s fate.  The fall of Little Rock further helped to contain the Confederate Trans-Mississippi theater, isolating it from the rest of the South.”  (CWSAC Battle Summaries, The American Battlefield Protection Program – Bayou Fourche, AR – National Park Service.) 


The 28th Wisconsin Regiment was involved in this effort as well.  Presumably, Captain Ira H. Morton was still leading Company K, but soon thereafter, he became very ill from one of the many diseases spread throughout the military camps primarily due to poor water and unsanitary conditions.   His death was recorded as due to “inflamation of the bowels”.  He died there on September 18, 1863 without being able to return to his little family back in Wisconsin. 


Back in February of 1863, four months after Ira departed with his company for the war, he had been given a brief furlough to travel back home to see his dying father-in-law, Edward Fairchild.  This visit would have been the first time, and the last time, that Ira was able to see his new little baby boy, as well as his other children, including 12 years old Irene, 8 year old Ira (Jr.), 3 years old Carrie and four month old Calvin.


Below are only a couple photo copies of documents filed by Elizabeth A. Fairchild Morton for the widows pension benefits due to her and her children for the service rendered during the Civil War by her husband.  (For a more complete set of documents, see the Document Room in this web-site.)