United States Mississippi Marine Brigade
Listed on a bronze tablet within the Illinois Memorial. This unit was an army command operating under the direction of the U.S. Navy. It consisted of artillery, cavalry, infantry, and a fleet of boats for transportation, and commanded by Brig. Gen. Alfred W. Ellett.
The unit was organized in early 1863, and consisted of about 350 officers and men, including boat crews which used nine small light-armored boats fitted as rams. The brigade reached the fleet above Vicksburg on 29 May 1863. On 14 June 1863, the unit joined Brig. Gen. Joseph Mower's expedition to Richmond, LA, and skirmished with the Confederates, suffering 3 wounded. On 20 June 1863, Admiral David Dixon Porter reported that two 10-pdr Parrott rifles, placed by the brigade on the Louisiana side of the Mississippi River, had much annoyed the Confederates for two or three days. General Ellett ordered work begun on a casemate fort on the point opposite the city of Vicksburg, MS, on 19 June 1863. Under the direction of Lt. Col. George E. Currie, the fortification was completed in four days and covered with a thickness of railroad iron. Personnally commanded and sighted by Capt. Thomas C. Groshon, a 20-pdr Parrott gun was emplaced within the fortification and opened fire on the city the morning of 23 June 1863. The Confederates responded, firing 17 rounds from 5 different guns. The fort was then further strengthened by adding another thickness of railroad iron. Fire from the Parrott gun in the fort was maintained until the end of the siege, with a total of 98 rounds expended, causing considerable damage to the Confederate foundry and machine shop. The fort was repeatedly struck but sustained no material damage or loss of life. The brigade also placed a brass Dahlgren in a casemate near the 20-pdr Parrott. From 25 to 30 June 1863, a detachment of the brigade on the steamer John Rains, formed a part of an expedition to Greenville, MS, under the command of Lt. Col. Samuel J. Nasmith of the 25th Wisconsin Infantry. At Goodrich's Landing on 30 June 1863, the brigade lost 1 officer, Capt. Wright, killed in action.
A ruling of the Judge-Advocate General, dated 11 Jun 1863, seems to make the brigade a "special contingent of the Army and not the Navy," but as late as 23 July 1863, Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant wrote: "They [the officers and men of the Marine Brigade] are not subject to my orders." By order of the Secretary of War, the army assumed full jurisdiction over the brigade in October of 1863. [Refer to page 664, Volume 6 of the WPA Monumentation Books.]
Did You Know?
President Abraham Lincoln, in speaking of Vicksburg's importance, is reputed to have stated early during the Civil War, "See what a lot of land these fellows hold, of which Vicksburg is the key, the war can never be brought to a close until that key is in our pocket."