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Lewis Deno Killed on 5/19/1863 at Vicksburg, MS

Report of Col. Thomas W. Humphrey, Ninety-fifth Illinois Infantry.

Natchez, Miss., August 14, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to report that at 11 a.m., May 19, when about 700
yards in front of the enemy's works at Vicksburg, Miss., I was shown by
Brig.-Gen. Ransom a written order from Maj.-Gen. McPherson,
ordering a simultaneous advance upon the enemy at 2 p.m. I was at the same
time further ordered by Gen. Ransom to secure a position previous to
that hour (2 p.m.) as near to the enemy as possible without unnecessarily
exposing my command. Accordingly, after reconnoitering as much as time
and circumstances would permit, I gained without loss a position in rear
of the second ridge in front of the enemy's works (on the grounds
afterward occupied by the Eleventh Illinois during the siege). The
Seventeenth Wisconsin, Lieut. Col. McMahon, on my right, started
on the charge before the Fourteenth Wisconsin, Eleventh and Seventy-second
Illinois came in sight.

Although, according to my time, the appointed hour had not arrived
by seventeen minutes, yet tile firing was so continuous as to render
the signal of the volleys uncertain, and as the Seventeenth Wisconsin had
started on what Lieut.-Col. McMahon deemed correct time, I deemed
it my duty to support him, and ordering my command forward, we charged
across the first ravine, over an almost impassable abatis of felled
timber, exposed to a direct and concentrated fire of musketry and a
murderous enfilading fire from the enemy's batteries of the redan on
our right front, and the heavy works on the Jackson road (erroneously
called Fort Hill) on our left. Being unsupported, I deemed it rashness
to proceed farther, but held my position with colors planted within 100
yards of the enemy's lines.

Informing the general of my position, I received the following dispatch:

May 19, 1863.
COL.: You have done well, nobly. I desire that you hold your position.
Do not expose your men or waste ammunition. I occupy the rear of the ridge
back of you. Will move forward as soon as we can be supported on the right
and left. I expect to hear from Gen. McPherson.

I accordingly held my position until ordered to fall back, which I did
in good order at 4 a.m., May 20.

My loss was, killed, 7; wounded, 54. Total casualties, 61--15
percent. of all engaged.

May 22, in accordance with orders from Brig.-Gen. Ransom, I formed
my command at 9 a.m., moving by the right flank, in company with the
balance of the brigade, through a network of ravines until within 100
yards of the enemy's works, where, under the partial cover of a ridge,
I formed column by divisions closed in mass.

This position was obtained without loss at 11 a.m. The Eleventh Illinois
was similarly formed on my left, the Fourteenth Wisconsin on my right,
and the Seventy-second Illinois still farther to the right, with the
Seventeenth Wisconsin held in reserve. The brigade remained in nearly
this position, awaiting support on the right and left, until 2.15 p.m.
Meantime the enemy had massed under cover of their breastworks in our
front, and within short convergent range of a force superior to the
assaulting column.

At 2.15 p.m. The order was given, "Second Brigade, forward." My command
simultaneously advanced to the crest of the ridge, when they encountered
the most sweeping and destructive fire to which troops were ever exposed.
In vain did those brave men rally to the charge; to advance was but to
meet certain death. All who made the effort, save two, were humbled to the
earth. When one bullet was not sufficient, two, three, four, and even five
did the work, until, out of 367 officers and men in the column, upward of
100 men were rendered hors de combat.

Col. Humphrey (supposed to be killed) was so far in advance of his
regiment as to be unable to return or render his command any assistance.
Maj. William Avery was severely wounded; Capts. Cornwell, Company K,
and Manzer, Company C? were killed; Capt. Cook, Company D, mortally
wounded, since died.

June 12.--Lieut. Sponable, Company A; Lieut. Pierce, Company I,
and Lieut. Smith, Company C, wounded; being 36 per cent. of the
commissioned officers and 28 per cent. Of the enlisted men disabled. I
cannot speak too highly in commendation of the conduct of
the officers and men of my command daring those trying scenes; not a
single instance of fear or cowardice was manifested; prompt and deliberate
obedience to orders was the characteristic of the day.

All of which is most respectfully submitted.

Your obedient servant,

Col., Commanding Regiment.

Source: Official Records
[Series I. Vol. 24. Part II, Reports. Serial No. 37.]

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