Now firmly entrenched, the 7th Division commanded the main entry point into Kentucky. They were well fortified but lacked the provisions for a long stay. Lieutenant Colonel Pardee was ordered to take five companies of his regiment and two pieces of artillery to the town of Tazewell, Tennessee where hundreds of bushels of corn were supposedly being stored. When they reached the outskirts of the town, Pardee split his force in half, leaving 200 men to defend the road leading back to Cumberland Gap. Within a short time Confederate soldiers appeared in the area. Pardee deployed his small force as skirmishers, spreading them in a line a mile long. The advancing Rebels noticed the large amount of skirmishers and believed they had stumbled on General Morgan’s main army. They fell back in a hurry, reporting the 7th Division was close by. Pardee called back his skirmishers and moved them to the woods behind the road. He had the soldiers march in a circle to fool the Confederates into thinking a large army was on the march. Gaps in the forest gave the illusion of a continuous line of men marching to the front. Several regiments of Rebels were ordered forward, but once again retreated, believing they were heavily outnumbered. Pardee had succeeded in buying time for his remaining troops to gather wagonloads of corn and flour and head back to Cumberland Gap.
At this point the Confederates began a major attack on the Union position. Pardee had his two cannon partially hidden in a sunken road. Both guns were loaded with double shots of canister. The Confederates advanced in a long line, companies marching shoulder to shoulder. When they were at point blank range the Union gunners fired, decimating the first wave of attackers. The lines broke in confusion, allowing the artillery to be pulled back and hitched to the horses. The 42nd reached the road back to camp and hurried along to safety. For the better part of a day, Pardee had held back a much larger enemy force. He brought back wagonloads of provisions to feed General Morgan’s army for several weeks. His actions showed great skill and leadership. He would receive personal thanks from General Morgan for his efforts.
The Union Army’s position at Cumberland Gap proved to be tenuous. The Confederates began a siege that stopped any further attempts at foraging. In October, the 7th Division abandoned their position and marched 200 miles north to Ohio. The 42nd received new uniforms, supplies, and six months’ back pay. The enjoyed a few weeks of rest until orders arrived to join General Grant and his army set to invade Mississippi. The main objective would be the city of Vicksburg.
The first action began in late December at Chickasaw Bluffs. This area was north of Vicksburg, a good staging point for an assault on the vital Confederate city. Pardee and the 42nd were now part of the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Army of the Mississippi. General Sherman had command of the army and quickly formed plans for the attack. To assault Chickasaw Bluffs meant wading through a deep bayou with swamp on either side, crossing an open plain, then climbing hills to reach the Confederate position. The commander of the Southern troops was General John Pemberton. He had entrenchments built to shield his soldiers and placed artillery at the peak of the hills. Any Union attack on his position would result in heavy casualties. Despite the difficulty, General Sherman ordered the advance. Lieutenant Colonel Pardee led his men forward, dashing through the bayou and heading into the open area. The Confederates blazed away at the enemy and Pardee was wounded when a musket ball struck him in the boot. He continued to lead, urging his boys forward. The battle raged on, with Union casualties mounting by the hour. One by one the regiments broke, and ran for the rear. Only the 42nd held their ranks, falling back in good order. Lieutenant Colonel Pardee shouted out orders for his troops to fall in line, about face and march to the rear as if they were drilling on parade grounds. The assault would go on for another four days until General Sherman realized the bluffs could not be taken.
After spending nearly a week in the swamps and bayous, Pardee developed a high fever along with dysentery. He was confined to the field hospital while the 42nd readied for an assault on Fort Hindman. Despite the serious illness, Pardee rose from his bed, dressed and mounted his horse “Charley” to lead the attack. Within a short time he fainted and had to be carried off his horse and back to the hospital. He would remain ill for several months, but insisted on leading his regiment into battle.
The battle for Vicksburg continued throughout the spring of 1863. The 42nd fought at Thompson’s Hill, Port Gibson, and The Black River Bridge and eventually took part in the siege of the city. Lieutenant Colonel Pardee led his regiment on the field for most of the campaign. Though still suffering from camp fever, he managed to participate in the majority of the fighting. On July 4, 1863 General Pemberton surrendered his army to General Grant. The Union now had control of the entire Mississippi River, an essential piece the Confederacy could not afford to lose.
Within a month the 42nd was transferred to Carrollton, Louisiana, roughly four miles above New Orleans. Lieutenant Colonel Pardee was appointed Provost Marshal General of the Gulf Department. He used his legal background to administer the law to the Union military population. Any infractions of military rules came under his jurisdiction including criminal investigations and desertion. Pardee served his new position for one year, then re-joined the 42nd in time to muster out of service in November of 1864. He would be brevetted to Colonel and then Brigadier General in March of 1865.
The time spent in Carrollton made a great impression on Pardee. After the war ended he returned there to set up a law practice. It must have been quite interesting for the northern Yankee to do legal work for the Confederates he fought against. At the very least they surely had some great stories to tell. In 1868 Pardee was elected Judge of the Second Judicial District of Louisiana and served in that position for twelve years. In 1879 he ran an unsuccessful campaign for state Attorney General. The 1880 Presidential election was won by James A. Garfield, a close friend and former commander. Within months the new President appointed Judge Pardee to the United States Circuit Court for the Fifth Circuit. It was a job that Pardee would never give up. He served until his death on September 26, 1919. He was eighty-two years old.
During the summer months, Pardee would return home to Wadsworth to visit old friends and relatives. He would be seen riding the city streets on a white horse. This imposing man would look straight ahead while he rode, looking every inch the soldier that he was.
-Scott Longert, Park Guide