June 10, 1863 Vicksburg

Right Wing of the Army
Besieging Vicksburg, June 10, 1863

Mr. Editor: This is the 23rd day of the siege, and now while I sit in my tent writing--my trunk for a seat and the lid of a cartridge box laid across my knees for a desk--the balls of the rebel sharpshooters are whistling over my head; but an earthwork behind which the tent stands, gives security from the danger from them, so let them crack away. A portion of the regiment is kept in the rifle-pits with reliefs every two hours, and they are getting the range on the butternuts so well that when one raises his head to fire, half a dozen balls from our Springfields raise the dust on top of the rifle pits so close to him that he is soon silenced. The siege is generally the heaviest for an hour or two in the morning, and the same length of time in the evening, continuing until it is too dark to see the enemy, and through the night a storm of shells are thrown into their camps and the city, from the mortars on the river above DeSoto Point, and the light and heavy artillery all around the lines. During the heat of the day, (which has been very oppressive for several days past), it becomes comparatively quiet, we pass away the time reading the news in the latest northern papers, or perusing old magazines sent us by kind and loyal friends up north, and perhaps some of the boys indulge in a game of "Seven up" or "Euchre". A day or two since some of them were thus engaged, when a rebel ball came along through the tent and barked the thumb of one of them, when he concluded to let some one else play out his hand.
IndentWell, we are having a long siege, but all are in good spirits and confident that Vicksburg will be ours before long. While deserters (half a dozen of whom come over every night), report that the rebels are living on pea bread and blue beef, except occasionally corn meal and bacon pressed from the citizens, and on about 1/3 rations at that; our Union boys are living on Uncle Sam's best, and full rations, besides what they buy from the Sutler, who is on hand and keeps up a good supply of many things that greatly improve the soldiers fare. Besides this, our reinforcements since we have had the city invested have reached 40,000.
IndentOur army has unlimited confidence in Gen. Grant, and think there is no such thing as failing in taking Vicksburg and the whole rebel army inside its works, prisoners of war. When we get it it will be a "big thing" and you can have some big glorifications over it, but you fellows up there who are out of the range of rebel shells and rifle balls can afford to wait, if we can. We have had but one man severely wounded since I wrote last--William Carman, Co. I, (K), gun shot through the neck, and two or three others slightly. The regiment was never in better health than now.
IndentOur camp equipage and all that we left behind when we went from Milliken's Bend, was soon after moved to Young's Point, and as the rebels did not go there in force, they are all safe. Our men are without tents as yet, only those that were captured from the rebels when we drove them in from their earthworks, but we have not room to put all our tents if we had them, where they would be out of range of the rebel rifle pits. But we expect to have better quarters, in the city of Vicksburg, before very long, and are patiently enduring all the inconveniences here. The 76th occupy the same hill that they have from the second day of the siege.
IndentThursday Morning June 11. Isaac Holtsberry, of Co. G, was killed this morning by a musket ball passing through his head, just as he was entering the rifle pits.

R.W. Burt

Note: Letter to the Newark True American Found at Vicksburg National Military Park

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