Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Whimsical Wednesdays 2 - A Civil War Tale

I just recently finish reading, Vicksburg Is the Key: The Struggle For the Mississippi River by William Shea.  It is a very good book, as
is most of William Shea's books (I have not read them all yet, so there maybe one turkey, but I doubt it.)  In the book there was a humorous account during the siege that I thought I should share.

Because of the rebel's entrenchments, General Grant directed for a mining operation under the 'Third Louisiana Redan', which was successfully exploded on June 25th, 1863.  While the explosion damaged the redan, the Union forces were not able to capitalize on their gain even after over 12 hours of close combat and melee. 

Andrew Hickenlooper after promotion to Brigadier General in 1865

So a second mine was started on June 26th, again under the same Union commander, Captain Andrew Hickenlooper, commander of the 5th Ohio Battery.  This mine was detonated on July 1st, 1863.  During the days leading up to the second blast, the rebels used slaves to attempt to counter-mine the Union efforts.  At the time of the second explosion, eight slaves were in the counter-mine with seven killed.  The eighth slave was a fortunate man by the name of Abraham.  Abraham was in blown out of the counter-mine up into the air and landed behind the Union lines (!?!?)

William Shea credits the following account of lucky Abraham to the book, The Siege of Vicksburg from the Diary of Seth J. Wells, Including Weeks of Preparation and of Occupation after the Surrender, by Seth J. Wells:

According to one Union soldier, "one Negro was thrown a 150 feet, lighting [sic., landing] on his head and shoulders, scarcely hurting him.  He attempted to run back, but a half dozen leveled muskets brought him back."  When asked by the soldiers as they were dusting him off, "How high did you go?"  Abraham replied, "Dunno, massa, but t'ink about t'ree mile."

Abraham became celebrity for the the remainder of the siege with him being displayed in a tent for ten cents to see America's first aeronaut!

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