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Recollection of Colonel Hermann Lieb, commander of the 9th Louisiana at the Battle of Milliken's Bend, June 7, 1863

Hermann Lieb, circa 1900, detail
On June 7, 1863, Confederate troops desperate to relieve pressure on Vicksburg attempted to seize Union rear areas at Milliken's Bend and Young's Point. Milliken's Bend was defended by mostly ill-equipped, and not yet trained black troops of the 9th Louisiana Infantry, the so-called "African Brigade." Attacked by General Henry McCullough's Texas Brigade, the defenders, despite heavy casualties, drove off the Confederates with the aid of naval gunfire from the river. The action went a long way to convince Union leaders of the value of black soldiers and the recruiting of the United States Colored Troops began in earnest. In this recollection, responding in an open letter to an article Charles Francis Adams published in the May 1906 edition of The Century Magazine, the commander of the black troops, Swiss immigrant Herman Lieb recalled the struggle to recruit the regiment, and its behavior during the action. He went on to describe his subsequent experiences as a commander of African-American troops. (By John Osborne)