Throughout the battle the conduct of the general officers was excellent, with a few exceptions. General Sherman was so exceedingly erratic that the discussion of the past twelve months with respect to his sanity, was revived with much earnestness.
All through the long December day the wounded lay upon the hill uncared for by either contending party. The ground was
that for which there had been so fierce a contest, and, while we could not take possession of it, the rebels did not choose to occupy it. Daybreak, sunrise, noon, sunset and night, and still the wounded uncared for. What must have been their suffering!
On the morning of Wednesday, the 31st of December the firing had been entirely stopped, and the rebels consented to receive a flag of truce. Five hours were allowed for burying the dead and taking away the wounded, and at the end of the
time the work was accomplished. A few of the rebels came out and talked freely with the bearers of the flag. They stated
that after the 1st of January they should shoot every officer captured, and put the privates at work on fortifications, with
ball and chain, in retaliation for the emancipation proclamation of the President. They expressed the utmost confidence in their ability to hold Vicksburg against the force now before it. From their statements it was inferred that Price was in command at Vicksburg, and that Tilghmans division was to arrive there on that day. There were evidently strong grounds for their hopes. They were well posted as to our strength, and informed us of the exact number of our transports and gunboats, and gave the number of men in the expedition with surprising accuracy.
All the slightly wounded had been taken to Vicksburg as prisoners of war, and we were allowed to bring away only those that we found on the ground. The rain and cold combined, with fifty hours' continued exposure, had left but few men alive. Had the flag been taken out and received on the afternoon subsequent to the battle, there is little doubt that many lives would have been saved. Doctors Burke and Franklin attended as best they could to the wants of the sufferers. By some criminal oversight there had been little preparation for battle on the part of Sherman's medical director, and the hospitals
were but poorly supplied with many needed stores. Since the battle General Sherman has persistently refused to allow a hospital boat to go above, though their detention in this region is daily fatal to many lives. The only known reason for his refusal is his fear that a knowledge of his management will reach the people of the North.