Chickasaw Bayou (8)

by Dan O'Connell on January 15, 2014 · 0 comments

December 28 – Lake House Road

On the Lake House Road BG Morgan prepared for his renewed attack by assigning 7th Battery, Michigan Light Artillery, normally a 2nd Brigade asset, to DeCourcy. The six guns were placed on the south side of the road and took the 29th Louisiana under fire. Their exposed position was close enough for Confederate riflemen to wound five of the Michigan gunners but the fire continued unabated. DeCourcy also moved the 1st Battery, 1st Wisconsin Light into an earthwork constructed overnight by the 42nd Ohio. Under the fire of these two batteries DeCourcy planned to advance down the road pushing the 29th Louisiana before them. COL Lionel Sheldon moved his two available regiments, 69th Indiana and 120th Ohio) to a position on DeCourcy’s left along the banks of the bayou. COL Daniel Lindsey deployed his brigade with a strong line of skirmishers on DeCourcy’s right flank. After an hour long barrage the attack lunged forward. The Union artillery shifted fire to concentrate on the enemy’s supporting artillery, four guns of Co D and two of Co E 1st Mississippi Light Artillery. As DeCourcy’s men surged to the attack a new attack a new threat emerged. A company of the 29th Louisiana enfiladed his line from a detached position on his right. The annoying fire halted the attack while DeCourcy appealed to Lindsey for assistance removing the small but well placed fire.

Lindsey ordered the 7th Kentucky to form on the right end of DeCourcy’s line. The new line now overlapped the Confederate position and the advance began to make progress. Undeterred the 29th Louisiana commander, COL Allen Thomas, called up reserves and boldly counter-attacked the Union line. Superior numbers stole back the initiative and Thomas was forced to retreat. With the situation on the right dealt DeCourcy, remembering the ambush of the previous day, sought to protect his left. The 49th Indiana, from Lindsey’s brigade, sent five companies wading across the bayou. Shortly thereafter the remaining five companies joined them as the fighting on that side of the bayou escalated. As COL Sheldon’s brigade moved up the 120th Ohio was also sent across. Sheldon accompanied them to assume control with orders to create a “vigorous demonstration” to draw attention away from DeCourcy.

The artillery supporting the main column was advanced and a preparatory barrage started. The Wisconsin battery found enough room to deploy six guns along the margin of the road but drew heavy fire from the Confederate guns. This covering fire was enough to allow Thomas to move the 29th to the far side of the bayou. The retreat of the rebel infantry allowed room for the 7th Michigan guns to redeploy forward and fire on the main enemy defensive line. Twelve Federal guns hammered away at the six Confederate pieces. One of Co D’s guns was knocked out of action and the fire became so hot that the commander, CPT N. J. Drew, fled the field . But the Mississippi gunners remained at their task. Even the addition of the 4th Ohio battery to the Union Arsenal could not completely subdue the Confederate artillery. Despite gaining a good measure of fire superiority DeCourcy advanced only as far as the abatis at the crossing. The last Confederate defenders were driven from DeCourcy’s right flank by COL Lindsey, who personally led the 7th Kentucky forward. With the 26th Louisiana on the other side of the bayou Sheldon had his hands full. The green 120th Ohio nearly broke on first contact with the 26th Louisiana. Officers strained to regain control but finally managed to reform the regiment. Sheldon moved forward, the 49th Indiana on the right and 120th Ohio on the left. When he reached the Confederate rifle pits a bitter 30 minute fight before he managed to push the 26th back. Sheldon’s mixed command continued to advance until stopped behind a small stream by artillery fire. They suffered 62 casualties (9 killed and 53 wounded) before they stalled. Sheldon had his men seek cover while he waited to work in concert with an expected DeCourcy assault across the bayou. It never came. As darkness fell they were relieved by Blair’s brigade, which had formed the reserve. As they moved into position to replace Lindsey a short sharp fire fight broke out. In the exchange COL J. B. Wyman, commanding the lead element, the 13th Illinois, was shot and killed. Once across the bayou Blair established outposts and had the rest of the brigade rest on their arms. Action on the Lake House Road came to an end.

Chickasaw Bayou (Campaign Series)

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