Transcribed and Contributed by Tom Busby
Great Great Grandson of V. W. Sargent, Company F.
What follows was written by my great-great-grandfather sometime in the mid 1920's. He relied on both his memory and letters that he wrote to his parents during the war, many of which have been saved for these many years.
Along with his handwritten (89 pages worth) memories, you will also find information from his military records which I obtained from the U.S. Archives and the Official Roster And Records.
Van Buren Whipple Sargent was born May 5, 1845 to Americus Vespucious Sargent and Mary Haven (Whipple) Sargent in New Hampshire. He was the eldest of five boys. The next born to his parents were twins, George Washington (Washy) Sargent and James Wellington (Welly) Sargent on August 5, 1847. His twin brothers joined the same Co. as Van about a year and a half later.
Van enlisted August 15, 1862, as a resident of Delaware County and was mustered into Co. F of the 27th Iowa Infantry on Sept. 1, 1862. His brothers enlisted Feb. 5, 1864. Their uncle, served with the 21st Iowa Infantry from Aug. 18, 1862, until his death from disease on Aug. 3, 1863. Van was wounded in both legs on May 18, 1864 at Yellow Bayou, LA and returned to his unit at Nashville, TN.
His handwritten memories were written with little punctuation or paragraphs. I will try to make it easier reading, however I will not change any wording or spelling. Please keep in mind that some of the terms used back then do not have the same derogatory meaning they now have.
THE CIVIL WAR MEMORIES OF A UNION SOLDIER
I enlisted Aug. 15, 1862. Was living with my folks near Yankee Settlement. The most of the company near thare but only a few close by that I was Acquainted with.Frank Hill was one. He was our neighbor and about as old as my father. Thare was plenty of young fellows about my age. The most of them acquainted with one another but one a stranger around thare named Calvin. We got to chumming together and kept it up the whole three years except the six months that he was in prison and I was in the hospital. He was captured on the Red River Expedition and I was wounded.
Our company gathered at Dubuque and with others formed the 27th Iowa. We was thare 3 weeks. Went into the barracks vacakated by the 21st Iowa when that went south. That was the regt that my uncle Darwin Whipple was in. We drew our cloths and acutaments and drilled every day that was fare.
When we got orders to leave got aboard a boat & headed north up the Mississippi. We was being sent with a government paymaster a hundred miles north of Minniapolis to pay off a band of Indians. All Indians was getting uneasy at that time & as the gov had to pay in paper money for the first time. Was afraid this tribe would make trouble. We left the boat at St. Paul.
Marched up the Mississippi and crossed it just above whare the Minnesota River comes in. We crossed on a ferry boat such as I have never seen or heard of since. The boat was propelled back and forth by the current. A wire cable stretched acrost the river 40 feet upstream from the boat. A roap from each end of the boat to a pulleys on the cable. When the boat is loaded and they want to start, shorten the roap on the out end that slants end up stream and the current pushing against the side of the boat pushes it acrost. Then lengthen the roap that the end of the boat strikes the landing and drive off. Going back shorten the roap on the other end.
On the bluffs at the forks of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers stood old Fort Snelling whare we stoped two days and outfited for our march to the Indian vilage. We took a few wagons and two brass guns. Marched through Minneapolis whare we crossed our first suspension bridge.
We was swinging along keeping step to the band but had not got far on the bridge untill it was swinging so we could hardly stand up. The band had to stop playing & we brake step. Since then have heard that it wasent safe to trot a horse acrost a bridge like that.
Above Minneapolis thare was no settlement except in a few places. We followed the Mississippi about 50 miles then Rum River to the reservation on Lake Mill-Lac. We camped near the Indian vilage but the people did not turn out to greet us but later a few came around in their blankets. We boys picked out our girls but came to find out they was all bucks. They was quite interested in the cannon but verry careful not to get in front of them. They notised whare they was pointed though and soon we notised every wigwam had disapeared in front of the guns.
The gov agent or trader had a big log store & we heard that he had hard money enough to trade the gov for paper to make that payment. Anny way, there was no trouble. They put the whole bunch in a big stocade or yard 12 or 14 foot high and paid them as their names was called and they passed out, bucks, squaws, and papooses. We had a gard around the stocade so they couldnot put some of the papooses through the fence & have them get pay twice.
I heard some of the gards say afterwards that they alowed the squaws to slip papooses through to someone on the inside get pay again as they was carred out but I did not believe it. I heard the indians all got the same amount & get it yearly, big & little.
We puled out the next morning & had good weather untill we got back to the fort, then a little cold spell. Think this was about the middle of Nov.
The guns we carried up thare was a verry old fashioned musket big bore paper cartredg made up with a round ball and three buckshot. I think we traded them muskets for the enfield rifle at the fort. Remember we stayed thare a few days & then marched to St. Paul & got on a boat for the south but left boat & took (RR) cars at Prairie Duchine for Chicago.
Thare we changed cars bound for Cairo where we arrived in a rain. Think we stayed thare about a week. The captain we had this far was named Bickford. The Co. got against him & shipped him at this place & Joseph M. Holbrook was Captain to the muster out.
From Cairo we took a boat for Memphis. We saw some signs of war on this trip. We stoped at Fort Pillow which was fortified by the rebbels but was abandoned without a fight. I think it had good works and big guns camanding the river.
Memphis was a busling camp outfiting an expedition to take Vicksburg. Part of it under Sherman started down the river & we was with part under Grant going down through Tenn. by land. We had got half way to Vicksburg when old Forrest got in behind us & captured the suply depot. Our regt. After that was garding RR in Tenn. untill the next summer. We belonged to Grants army all the time untill after Vicksburg fell.
Our first camp was near Jackson, Tenn. We supposed we was going to stay thare for the winter. Our tents was 8x10 wedge shape with no walls, 4 persons to each tent. I &Calvin built us a small cabin & moved into it. That gave our 4 squad plenty of room. Our cabin was only about 6x8 & no window in but a fireplace in one end so at night we could injoy the warmth & light besides cook anny thing. We had a Co. cook at that time.
Our duty was light thare. We to patrole the RR a couple of miles each way from town & a picket around town & camp. We had one snow that laid on the ground two or three days. I was on picket one day & night, the only time in the three years that I stood picket in the snow.
The men of the Co. comenced to get homesick at that time & some from the regt desserted. We heard one of our Co. shot himself through the left wrist he clamed axidetly. That was the second one of the Co. thaat had that kind of an axident. The other just shot off his front finger on the right hand while we were in Minn.
While at this place a train came out from Memphis & our Co. was sent with it. The train consisted of an engine & boxcar pushing a flat car mounting a six pound gun & protected by iron plates all around. We took a branch RR running into enemy teritory. We ran sloly keeping a good watch of the track stoping to examin culverts & bridges. The country was timbered & sparcely setled. About 10 miles out we come to a long high tresel & bridge over a small stream. Here they droped six of us & the train went on. Our duty was to gard the bridge. Thare was no house nor signs of life in sight. We mad our camp under the bridge & some of us stroaled around through the timber looking for squrils but it was to early in the season for them but whenCalvin & I was getting back to the camp we saw a muskrat swimming acrost the crick. He said your first shot. I says all aright but whare do you expect to come in. But my gun missed fire. Then he laughed & with a flourish brought his gun up & said this is whare I come in but his gun missed fire also. The muskrat swam around the bend & we went to getting our guns in order. Them old muzle loaders was liable to miss fire if they stand long loaded or unloaded without being cleaned.
We made coffee & ate hardtack that evening & the Seargent posted one gard near whare the rest of us lay down under the bridge. My turn was from twelve to one thirty. The night was star light & verry quiet except for the frogs & owls. The gard wasent supposed to walk a beat but keep quiet & sit on a log. I was getting drowsy when I heard a swish & crash. It startled me but I thought I knew what it was. Soon the Seargent came sliping along to whare I was & asked in a whisper whare that volley was fired. I said that wasent no volley but an old stub fell off down the creek a wase. You sure says he. Sure says I. He seamed relieved & said guess he was half asleep. He stayed with me untill time to be relieved & then I wasent long in getting to sleep & when I waked up the boys were eating their sowbelly and hardtack. After wards we stroled up the RR a mile & was inspecting some rebel baracks when our train come along back & took us aboard.
On another expedition from that camp we went with another regt camped at another station to intersept a squad of Rebbel cavalry underForrest coming from a raid near Memphis & was getting back south east on account of high watter on the Tenn. River. We expected to catch him before he could make the crossing. We wasent use to marching but put in a whole day at quicktime untill it got so dark & by that time the regt was badly strung out & when we halted for camp I was one of only four up & in our places ready to stack arms. We was over two miles from the crossing yet. I don't know why we did not go on. That night we stayed thare & a rain came on in the night & thare was watter every whare that morning. One squad of our pickets fired into another that night & two of Co. K lay on blankets ded in the rain that morning.
We started out in rain & mud for the river but heard thatForrest had got acrost so we turned & went back to last nights camp & as that was Sunday we had to get our guns unloaded & cleaned for inspection. I could not draw the charge in my gun so sliped of in the brush & shot it out. I laid low for a while thare. Started acrost the field to camp but soon see an officer from Brigade Hdqrs had spoted me & started to head me off & just then also see our coln start for me. He was nearer & got to me first & says you come with me.
On the way to his quarters he asked me if I did not know it was against orders to shoot near camp. I told him that I did but I also knew it was against orders to go to inspection with my gun loaded & that I tried every way to draw the load but failed. The other officer see that I was caught & went back to his quarters. The Coln gave me a little lecture & sent me to my quarters & that was the only that he ever caught me when I disobeyed orders. We had inspection & stayed thare again that night & took two days to get back to Jackson.
Toward spring we moved from Jackson to Mosco. Thare was no town thare, just a station & a few shantys but a bridge acrost the Wolf River. Our regt & part of a battery. Thare was a small fort which the battery ocupied but our regt camped outside. Our duty thare was to gard the bridge & RR a few miles each way. The country around thare seamed to have ben all covered with timber but about half of it had ben cleared off & farmed. I think this was about 50 miles SE from Memphis. We drilled about every day for exersize about half a mile north of camp on high ground where we could overlook the low ground along the river.
I was on picket one morning & as it was getting daylight I notised some hounds baying two or three miles away & finely notised they was getting nearer & by the sound seamed like they was tracking something that was headed toward our camp. Soon they seamed to be stationary like they had that something treed, then stoped baying like they was waiting for something to drop. Then I heard a volley fired & that ended it. I always thought that it was a runaway negro or union man trying to get to our camp & being followed by a squad of citizens or gorillies. Thare was sevral such bands operating around thare. The negrows that came to us thare told us of their doings,
I remember of being on three scouts out into the country while there. One time, ten or twelve of us on mules & the Major on horse went out 5 or 6 miles on information of some kind. I understood we was supposed to find a band of gorilies at a plantation. Ariving we found a table all set in the kitchen for a crowd about our size & only two cooks & an oldish man thare. We wated a while & then comenced to help ourselvs. It was fine plantation grub all right, boiled beef, sweet potatoes, and corn bread. I had a fine white handled, three bladed jack knife which I was using on the beef. One of the boys borrowed it for a minut & just then we heard a couple shots from the guards outside & everybody made a rushed for the door & his mule. We mounted & followed the dust to a field. See 5 or 6 horsemen disapeare on the other sidde & we dinot go anny farther but back to the house so shook up & exited that we did not want anny more dinner & I never see my white handled knife again. I did not know who borrowed it & guess he never tried to find the owner.
The loft in the ginhouse that was close by looked like the people harbord a squad of horsemen at times anny way. We took the old planter to camp & kept him under gard for a few days. Supposed turned him lose. I never heard anny more about it.
Another time about 50 of us started about dark to watch a ford acrost the river 4 or 5 miles out & it got pitch dark before we got thare. The column stoped & every one piled down at the side of the road & some would be asleep in half a minute. Anny way, 5 or 6 of us at the rear did not notise when left & first thing we did know, they was away out of sight & hearing. Some thought we ought to go & overtake them & others thought it would be dangerous as we might get fired into. So we all went out to one side of the road about a rod & I supose every one of us was sound asleep in ten minutes. Anny way, I was awaked by firing & as I set up could see the others doing the same as the moon had come up & could see our sourindings. The firing only lasted a minute but we could hear horses running & expected them to come along our way & every man of us was ready for them but they was going the other way & soon every thing was quiet & we at the side of the road went to sleep again but awake pretty early & the mane squad came along back before it was farely light. Then we learned that they had taken position near the crossing of the river & then order them to surender. The scheam was working ok untill the rebs had goeen nearly acrost the river. Then one of our sleepy fellows droped his gun or made some kind of nois that the rebs heard & they turned & put spurs to them horses. Our fellows fired a few shots at the nois of their retreat & in the morning looked the ground over for dead men & horses but did not find anny blood even. It apeared that had not missed us untill they got to the river & did not know how far back they left us. We made a quick march back to camp that morning. Got thare in time for breakfast. Had to drill that day just the same.
That was a nice camp. Had a large cook shanty so the whole Co. could eat at once. We expected to stay thare all sumer but was moved to another RR & the regt split up & our Co. was divided. One part about two miles from the other guarding different bridges. The squad that I was in numbered about 20. We had a little fort that we could go into if atacted. Our camp & cook house was just outside the fort. Most of the vacinity was covered with timber. We had no duty in the day time & only four gards at night so you could see that was a picknick. The woods was full of squrils. I killed a half dozen in an hour several times. The boys from the other part of the Co. use to come thare & hunt as thare wasent menny up where they was camped. Some of us boys use to hunt about every day. At that place is whare I ate my first & only frogs legs. Thare was lots of them along the creek there. I would shoot them with wooden plugs in my gun. The powder in one cartredg would make for or five squibs to shoot plugs or bulets to kill frogs or squrels. But that easy job only lasted a month
Then we went to Memphis whare the gov was organizing an expedition to take Little Rock, Ark. Vicksburg had just fallen &Grants army was resting & recruting. I was detailed with a few others from the regt. to garde deserters that had ben caught in the north. The most of the bunch I garded was picked up in Chicago & being sent to their regts at Vicksburg. We gards from Memphis relieved the gards that came with them from St. Louis. The prisners were a bad lot. The most of them was toughs from the saloons from Chicago & other cities. Some was bounty jumpers & some was deserters from regts & hospitals. I was the only one from my Co. that I remember of on the detale. I think about 10 or 12 from the regt & as menny more from another regt. We went aboard the boat one evening & was organized into a gard & several sentinals posted over the boat & the rest picked our bunks. Mine was on the middle deck in front of the cabbin on a pile of sacks of grain or feed. Roled up in my blankets & went to sleep. The boat puled out in the night sometime & when it turned downstream my bunking place was exposed to the breaze which was blowing upstream. I stood it for a while & then had to hunt up another location.
We had a lot of trouble with the crowd we was garding. They wasent stowed in the cabbins & threatened to mob the gard when they could not bribe them to furnish them whiskey from the bar & when we stoped at towns they had to be watched that they did not get off the boat. A big six foot Lieutenant had charge of us gards. He had his hands full but handled the prisoners ok & turned them over to the provost gard at Vicksburg.
We gat a chance to look the town over before we got a boat back to Memphis. The efects of the siege was quite interesting. Only a week since the surender. It looked like every body had ben living under groun. As our boats could throw shells into the town and some stray shots from the works would drop in ocasionaly. The ground around thare was hard red clay and would not cave & the whole hills was under mined and the citizens all had a cave to go into.
We was around thare 4 or 5 days & when we got back to Memphis thare was an expedition about ready to start for Little Rock. Ark. The government had not ocupied anny of the interior of Ark yet, just a few towns along the Mississippi. Ours was one of a few regts that took boats & went down river to Helena. Little Rock was 75 miles about west from Helena. The most of the way the land was flat & swampy but the weather was dry & hot & the water awful poor.
I was taken with chills & fever on the march acrost. Would report to the Dr in the morning for my quinine & march with the Co. The morning of the last day before reaching Little Rock, theCapt. Said I had better go up with the train so I could ride when my fever come on in the PM but as we was expecting a fight told him thought I could march ok. There was some skermishing between our advance and the rebbels rear which caussed our mane column to make stops often. The rode led through brush & timber that PM so we could not see what was going on in front but could hear some firing. About four oclock, my fever got so bad that I failed to start with the Co. after a stop. Thought I would catch up at the next stop but they had got to the rebels works oposet town & did not get a chance to fire a gun as the rebs did not make a stand & all we could see was their dust several miles to the sw. My fever went down before dark & I & some of the boys wen to the river for a swim.
Some of the boys watched our close & a few of us swam acrost the river & walked up the bank nearly to town but it was getting dark & we could hear some firing in town. Some of our cavalry had enetered town & had found something to drink. Several of them came down to whare we was to watter their horses. One droped his haversack & when I picked it up I found it full of watches & stuff. He had ben patenerizing a jewelry store in town.
The next morning our army made camps around the out skirts of town. Our regt on the north side of the river, others on the south side. That was the side the town was on. We lade a pontune bridge acrost oposet town & built a permanent camp. I & five others built a board shanty with buncks and fireplace. I got the ague, broke up a week after arrival. I found a good canoe or dugout boat made from a cotton wood loge. I kept it thre weeks or a month. Would hide it in the willows nights. Used it to go over to town or up stream. Could get outside the pickets by taking the middle of the river in the daytime but at night the pickets was supposed to chalange & fire at anny thing on the river. Three of our mess went up river with the boat to forage some meat.
Thare was a few small scrawny cattle grazing around outside the camp & we thought we could fetch a couple of quarters with the boat, land in the willows oposet our shanty, watch our chance & smugle it into our quarters. We landed a half mile outside the lines, left the boat & found a poor young stear & soon had the hind quarters & on the way back to the river. But when we got in sight thare was a man in our boat padling downstream & he paid no attention to our threats but kept on & that was the last we ever see of the boat & we did not know what we would with our beef. We knew it would be doubtfull if we could get it through the line unless we could bribe the picket so we hid it in the brush untill we could investigate & as luck would have it, the picket next to the river was one of our Co. but not of our squad. We told him how we was fixed & he agraed if we would divey with his squad he would let us through so we got into camp without anny of the officers seeing us & had all the beef we wanted of that kind. If the government had issued us that kind of meat we would have kicked like a stear.
Our duty here was quite light, not much drilling & gard duty. About once a week one of our Co. died in camp. The first that I remember that was buried by the Co. Them that died before was in hospitals. We bureid him in back near the timber & I was picked for one of the firing squads & I oficiated in that capacity menny times after that.
Game was quite plentiful within a few mles of camp. One deer came aright through camp one day, swam the river and got away. That fall was a pigen year in Arkansas. Thare was thousands of them in sight for three or four weeks before we left.
We thought we might be thare all winter but Nov. 1st got orders to leave in three days. The last time I was on picket thare I was on post from 10 to 12 oclock PM. Thare was a drizling rain. I was humped up against a tree when a shot rang out from the next post 6 or 8 rods away. It seamed like the bulet went aright through me & struck a tree on back. I heard the man say halt after the shot. That was the first & all I heard. I wated a minute and walked that way & when I got in sight of him he was loading his gun & was verry much excited & ask me if a man on horseback came by me. I told him thare could not have ben anny thing but a phantom between us or I could have heard it. He was so hazy about his explnation that I thought he was asleep or had ben. In the morning we found whare his bullet had struck a tree passing me only a few feet.
A young man about 17 years old, Billy Wilson, inlisted in our Co. He was born & raised in the country near thare. Had no book edication but made a good soldier & when he was discharged was a smart young man. He went back to Arkansas & I never heerd of him afterwards.
We left Little Rock marching on the same road we come in on untill we got to whare we crossed the White River then took a boat down that crooked stram to the Mississippi & on that down to Vicksburg whare Sherman was organizing an expedition into enemys country east of Vicksburg, This was about the last of Jan 64. We havent had anny snow this winter so far. Camped near Vicksburg untill Feb 15. Then we puled out with a small army with Sherman in command. We went in light marching order. No tents or camp equipage. Just a few wagons with provisions for the men.
Our mision to brake the RR runing north & south about 100 miles east of Vicksburg to prevent the confeds shifting troops between gulf cost & Chatinuga. We got in touch with a small force of confeds & had them all around us so it wasent to stragle far away from around our comand at anny time.
I developed the mumps shortly after we started. Had them good & hard on both sides. I had always heard it was dangerous to take cold along with the mumps so was carful not to cool off to quick after getting warmed up.
The weather was cold & some rain & all the shelter we had was what we carried on our backs & our rations hardtack & sowbelly. Of corse I had to soak the hard bred while the mumps lasted & with plenty of hot coffee night & mornings. Could get rid of all my rations & for sleeping could most generly get some brush or grass to sleep on. Role up in my blankets & poncho & sleep all night. Anny way guess I did not take cold for the mumps subsided after runing their corse & we arrived at Meridian, Mississippi which at that time was a station on the RR with a few cabins seated around. Near this was the station that Anguss folks lived near & I have always thought from Anguss discription of & the direction & distance from the station that I was at or passed their plase with a foraging party while we was thare.
We was getting food for the mules & horses from the planters paying with government warents. I was one of fifty or sixty gards & 8 or 10 wagons. One day started out early. About two miles out, we captured a young fellow with a gun. He said he belonged to a Co. of hors soldiers that was camped around the bend of the road. Said he was on gard & told to stay untill the Lieutenant came out after him. Our Capt. Told him to come along with us & we would go & see the Lt. We went on & captured the Lt. Coming out afoot after him. The Lt. Was smarter than the kid & did not give away anny thing. Only by his actions we could see he was in no hurry for us to go on but just then we heard his Co. galloping & when we got around the bend see a squad of horsemen disapearing around the next bend. The Lt. Said they was gathering up recrutes for the confed army & that the gard we captured just joined them the night before. We went about five miles, filled our wagons with corn getting some taking some from 5 or 6 plantations. Stayed at Meridian about a week.
Tore up the RR for several miles on each side of town. It was a small job to tare up RR in them times to what it would be now. The ties laid on top of the ground except a rige of dirt along in the mdle of the track. None of the rails was boalted together but buted together on a fish plate the old fashioned way. One man to a tie strung along 3 or 4 rods on one side would rase up that side with the ties standing on end, then rock the whole thing length ways of the rails & the whole section would fall to pieces. Then we would pile up the ties three or four high & lay the rails with their middle resting on the pile & when the rales got hot, a man to each end could bend the rale & there would be nothing left that could be used again.
We did not lose anny one out of our Co. on that trip but heard thare was several from the regt that disapeared & never was heard of again & two that they knew was captured & the third one getting away led a party back & found the two had ben shot a short distance from whare they was captured.
One day just before we reached Meridian our regt was near the hed of the column. On the march we come to a house whar a woman lay near the road dead & three little children crying. The woman come out & mixed with the rebbel skirmishers & a stray shot from our advance killed her.
The day after that the rebs got a battery in front of us & stoped the column for a short time untill we sent one regt around to the side & flanked them away with a few shots & when we got whare the battery was thare lay one fine looking young man in his rebbel uniform.
We had good weather & verry good roads for the time year. On the way back to Vicksburg stoped a few days at Big Black River ten miles east of that place then went on in to within two miles of town & camped between the two lines during the siege. Stayed untill about April. Don't remember how long but think three weeks or a month.
I lay in camp a week with some kind of a fever & was hardly able to walk when we piled out for town whare we went aboard the steamer Diadem, one of a fleet of 15 that steamed down the Mississippi to the mouth of the Red River & up that river 20 miles & landed. Camped thare one day & then puled out acrost country. We soon heard cannonading ahead whare the rebs had the river blockaded.
In an hour we came out of the woods in sight of a big earthworks fort on a bluff near the river & at the foot of the bluff a watter battery. This battery mounted two big guns protected by a shield of heavy timbers covered by RR iron. The shield faced downstream & the river was straight thare for half a mile. The fort on the bluff was to protect the watter battery from anny land force. It mounted 11 big guns & was a verry strong work with a ditch around it so wide & deep a man could hardly get out of it without help.
The fort & our gun boat was ingaged when we come in sight. Our battery come up & formed in to & soon drew the fire of the fort & that put our regt under fire & several of their shells burst aright over our heads but none of our Co. was hurt. Guess I was the worst scarde of anny one thare. A limb of a tree droped & brushed me just as a big shell exploded over head. Guess my nerves was strung up to a high pitch for that little brush went through me like lightning & nearly knocked me down. Don't think anny of the boys notised me. Their thoughts were on what's coming for just then the order rang out "fall in for a charge!" We started out in double quick. Thare was several other regts on our left started at the same time.
The ground was an old field with no obstruction except a lot of fence rails seated whare the fence had ben thrown down. We had not got far when the minney balls comenced to whistle by us & I heard them striking the rails laying on the ground. I don't remember that we done much chearing on that charge nor that anny one near was verry much excited.
The mane force that belonged in the fort had gone out to meet us but missed us & we caught the fort with only 300 men to defend it & the most of them only fired one round at us & retired into their bomb proofs so we had no trouble or casualties going in to the fort. If the fort had ben full maned & well defended we would have paid dearly in men as the works were about the strongest that I saw during the war. That was a cheap victory.
The fort watter battery & magazine & amunition was all first class work & material. I never heard whare the rebs got the two big guns in the watter battery. The U.S. may have had them some whare in the south & they might have come from England. I don't remember their calibur.
The river was obstructed 30 or 40 rods from the battery with piles & ships cables & I don't think we had a gunboat at that time that could have run up & remove that obstruction
I found an old letter of mine that said we went from thare to Alexandra on boats but I don't remember it. But I do remember the first night we stayed at Alexandra using watter to drink & cook with from the river. About dark one of the boys come back with some watter & said he had "to go upstream quite a ways as thare was a drounded nigger floating in the drift whare we had ben getting watter." Some of us went to the river & sure enough thare was a black corpse in an edda whare we had ben getting watter. It looked like he had ben in the watter a long time.
Alexandra had a big sugar mill & a little dummy RR run out in to the country to bring in the cane. We all got plenty of sugar, all of it verry poor brown stuff. One of our Co. died thare. We thought it was from eating to much of it.
We joined Banks with the mane army here. He had marched up from New Orleans keeping pretty well west of the Mississippi River. The troops with him were mostly eastern men. They did not look like they had seen much hard service lately. The most of them wore paper collars, I think the first that I ever see. Their uniforms was new & everything about them was regalation stile. They made quite a contrast to us western troops & of corse we did not hitch that anny to well.
We did not likeBanks either. Thought he was too strict & dressed to fine for a campaign such as we was on. We thought our Old Rough & Ready A. J. Smith was about right though of corse the opinions I heard was from the blow hards in our command & they did not see anny thing in Banks' management of the expedition to change our opinions. It looked like Banks' management was to blame for the falure of expedition but by what I have heard since, he was ordered to return to return about the time we did after the battle of Pleasant Hill.
From Alexandra on, the rest of the way we made on foot. Our corps, A.J.Smiths, brought up the rear &Banks pets took the lead. The road was mostly out of sight of the river & we did not see much of the boats.
Nacitosh was the next large town & the only one af anny size. We wasent bothered with any oposition from the enemy & the weather & roads good so we made good progress. 3 or 4 days brought us to a small town called Grandycore whare the road forked. One crossed the river by ferry & followed the river through the bottom. The other kept the high land back from the river & was the oneBanks took & leftSmith's men & some other in camp at Grandycore.
On the second day we heard cannonading up ahead & that night about 12 oclock started quicktime up the road thatBanks took. We privates did not know what was going on ahead but about daylight began to meet a lot of them paper collar soldiers stragling back along the road. The most of them did not say much but we learned that the rebs had met them strung out in the timber, attacted them in front & side, mixed them up & captured a lot of teams & artillery & some men that could not out run them. Banks was making a stand a few miles back out of the timber & that was where we come up to him about noon the next day.
The place was called Pleasant Hill. I did not see anny town thare but did see a grate menny hills & they proved not to be verry pleasant to menny of the men of both armies for that was whare the battle of Pleasant Hill was fought.
Both armies had ben forming all the forenoon & from where we was in the first line, could have seen about all of both armies if the ground had not ben so roaling. We was near the right of our line. Could see it stretched off to the left for a quarter of a mile or so but could not see anny rebels. They done all of their manuvering in the low places.
Whare our regt & brigad was just at the edge of a grove of pines of which several seated over the field. But in front the ground was bare & in sight for 80 rods & then droped off & we could see no farther than the next hill a half a mile away. Our battery was just in front of the 32nd Iowa & they joined on our right. The battery would fire a shot ocasionaly at anny movement they see of anny army of the hills but it got no answer untill the ball opened about two oclock & they fired all along their line at once. I supose they had all our batteries located & one or more of theirs ready to move up in sight & drop their horses back out of sight & range.
They had the distance estimated properly & plans laid & acted on with a rush & that gave them the advantage over our side. Anny way, they soon siezed our battery up. Their infantry & cavalry also advanced at the same time. The first charge on our part of the line was made by horsemen. We heard them before we could see them coming with a rebbel yell & as soon as they toped the hill they was in range but had got half way to us showed much efect of their fire. Thare was a few of them that got to our guns mounted & only a verry few got back over the hill mounted. Quite a few riderless horses got back & some of them come through our lines. One man was carried by his wounded horse within three rods of whare I lay when the horse fell & the man jumped up & come limping in holding up both hands.
The first few minutes of the fire from the rebel guns on our battery silenced it & killed several of the horses & stampeded the balance. I don't know what became of the battery but think it must have fell in to the rebbels hands.
Our first line was driven back in the early part of the engagement except our regt & what was on the right of it. I don't know wheather the line ended with the three regts right of our brigade or not. After we beat off the cavalry charge a line of infantry apeared over the hill but they did not get verry far untill they got disorganized & droped back over the brow of the hill & lay down. Kep up a steady firing at us. We could see troops on our left whare our line gave way lining up to attact the second line.
I couldnot see why we was staying without anny protiction to our flank but learned afterwards that orders was sent twice but did not get to us. Our line was getting thined out bad by the wounded & them that went back with them. A few young jaines out in front was a pufing smoke from around the bottom like the rebs was under thare & we stoped smoak from that sorce. I did not hear anny orders to fall back but see the line braking so I started & I did not go slow either.
Our Cap. had ben wounded & gone off & only a few noncoms left with the Co. & they let us go as we pleased. We could not see far ahead for trees & brush. I with a few other fast runers broke out of a patch of brush close to a regt of rebs. Their skirmishers cut loos a volley at us. Some turned to the left & kep going & some fell. I went down but wasent hit. Was in low brush & grass near a big tree. I lade low behind the tree & could see rebbel officers lining up their regt for an advance on our second line & their skermishers with their guns at a ready for anny thing that moved in our direction.
I began to think I was a prisner. I would be discovered if I stayed thare but laid low for a while. Left my gun whare it fell. Stooped low & scooted for the brush 3 rods away & just as I went in to the brush 3 or 4 bulets cut in around but missed me. If I had kept a few rods farther to the north, I wouldnot have got into that snap.
My bunkie, Calvin, did not get off as lucky as I did. They got him & he was in prison at Tilor, Texas for over six months. He was one of four that dug a tunnel comencing in their tent & ran out under the stockade fence & 20 ft beyond. Thay had a little hole broke through & was all ready to make their getaway the next night when Calvin was drawn for exchange on that & I never heard what his comrads don with the tunnel.
I got behind our second battle line, found some of the Co. & we was set to gathering up wounded rebs. It apeard some of them had atacted the rear while we was busy in front, but was driven off & left a number of wounded scatered around. I picked up a gun but it wasent the same kind as what I left up in front but I traded with the first wounded reb I come to. He was a middle age man wounded bad through the hips & would nead two men & a stretcher. His gun, an Enfield rifle, lay near by. I told him would like to trade guns with him. He said "take them both. I donnot think I will have use for a gun anny more". I have often wondered what became of that man.
The next one I come to was wounded on the foot & laying in a safe place behind the roots of a big tree blown down. I told him we was gathering wounded whare they could get treatment. He thought he would not be able to go but I got him to try it & we was making it ok. Had got a few rods when the firing broke out with a rore. The rebs had struck our second line 15 or 20 rods away & the bulets was scatering bark & leavs all around us. He was leaning heavy on me & finly slumped down & waled that he could not make it. I says "we want to get out of here." He says, "Guess I can make it back to my hole." & he made good time on hands & knees getting back & I got behind a big tree & listened to the steady rore of small arms. Could tell when the rebs was making a rush by their yell.
When it slacked up a little, I went back to whare I left the regt. They had moved farther back & more of the boys had come in, all of them talking & enquiring for friends. I see thatCalvin had not shown up yet & could get no word from him. It was getting late. The heavy firing had slacked to a scattering ?? ?? that had his blood up.
After dark, our regt was sent out to the right front. Should think near whare our first line was. We was cautioned to keep quiet & in our places but could lay down. I was awakned some time in the night & we silently went back the way we come. Every thing was quiet except ocasionaly a groan & cryes from wounded men left on the field. I heard that the rebs sent a squad in the next morning for permission to bury their dead & found a few of our drs & nurses looking after our wounded. Then they sent a small force and took charge of the field.& we arived back in Grandycore 2 or 3 oclock PM the next day.
Put in our time from that untill 10 oclock that night resting. Then our regt & a few other troops was sent back on the other road that followed the river to relive the boats that had ben atacted the day of our battle. So that give us another nights march.
Reached the first boat near morning while it was quite dark yet. The road ran along the river on quite a high bank. The officer halted us oposit the boat which was one of the regular protected river gun boats. This one showed no lights & before our officers had time to hale it, they let off a big gun elevated so it just missed the bank & our heads. Then we all haled & some of the boys gave them a piece of our mind, firing on men before they knew wheather they was friends or fow. Them on the boat did not have their shell timed right for such short range & we heard it explode half a mile away in the woods.
We went on up the river farther & about daylight met an officer who said he had located a battery that we could capture if we could get to a certain place in time. So he led the way & we followed double quick but we failed to get thare in time for the battery was gone & out of sight. Guess the force that was operating against the boats had heard that their force was retreating from Pleasant Hill & left in the night some time as they did not bother the boats in the night & did not hear anny being seen except that battery.
We started right back & the boats also. I don't remember what damage the rebs don to the boats but don't think they destroyed anny. Heard the rebs got aboard some of them when they would run into the bank trying to make some of the short bends in the river but the boats could soon clear them off with streams of hot watter.
We don considerable foraging on the way back to Grandycore that morning. Wasent afraid Banks catching us at it as he would be well on his way down river before we got back.
Saw a funny thing as we was marching by a house. Quite a few of the boys was chasing fowls around the yard & others investigating smoak house & other out buildings. The owner, a pompous man, storming around amongst them but they paying not much attention to him. Finely a chicken squaled behind the preacher (that is what I heard he was) whirled in that direction, picked up a stone as he went, & when he got within a rod of the soldiers, threw it & struck him in the side. Another soldier close by steped in between them, put his bayonet on his gun, brought it down to a charge with the bayonet close to the preachers pants & motioned him out to the road. He had to advance the bayonet again before the preacher would start. I was to far away to hear what was said but the last I see of the preacher was a half hour afterward keeping along with the column & the man behind him with the bayonet.
As we was passing one plantation, I droped out & went into the house. Did not see anny ocupants but in one room was 10 or 12 of our boys around a trunk wateing for it to be opened. I steped into the ring too but when the cover was opened was squeezed out. Reached in between the others legs & got ahold of something & yanked it out. You cant guess what it was. A roal of leaf tobaco about as big & long as a roaling pin, bound solid with a bark string. I never saw anny fixed that way before or since. The trunk was full of them kind of roals but not enough to go around so I handed mine to an unlucky comrad & about that time an officer rushed in firing his revolver into the sealing & yelling get out of here. Everyone hasened to obey & made a rush for the door except two or three of us who was to far from the door went out a window & I got pretty warm before I got back to my place in ranks.
There was several things happened on the way back that I will mention that made the expedition the most varried of anny that the regt took part in. The rebs were in thick with us every day but did not hurry or bother us much as they never got a force together large enough. The wheather & roads was good & the days long so we made good time.
One day we had come over a high bluff & the whole army was strung along the road runing over a clear level stretch. I notised our battery stop & one of our guns comenced to load & looking back near the top of the bluff see a horseman with a glass taking in the whole panorama but he did not have time to count or even estimate our numbers untill our twelve pounder fired a shell that looked from whare we was like it burst aright in his face. Anny way, when the smoak of the shell raised, man & horse had disapeared.
Another day we tried to trap the little force that was following us. We chose a place whare the road ran through a long stretch of cleard ground between a bayou & the woods about half mile wid between timber & bayou. Our regt was near the rear of the column & was strung along the edge of the timber behind a fence what was covered so thick with brush & vine that an army could not be seen thare from the road. From whare I lay behind the fence looking from between the bottom rails could see anny thing passing between thare & the bayou. Could see the 2 or 3 regts of infantry that was behind on the road pass. Then a Co. of cavalry not in the road but strung acrost & reached nearly from timber to bayou. They was taking a lasurly gate that would keep them the proper distance from the marchers ahead.
The rebs was following them within a gunshot but both sides was firing verry lasurly & verry seldom hit one another. Some of them was passing not more than five rods from us. One fat man in his white shirtsleeves rode along side of an old ded stub leaned over, rested his gun on it & fired. I could have surprised him only for our strict orders not to make a nois. I had the front sight of my gun on him just to see how it would seam. The only time I ever drew a steady bead on a rebel.
That line all passed on by without discovering us. We was to wate untill the reserve got by, then we was to string acrost behind them & have them trapped. But before they all got by, some of their flankers come pearing into the brush & discovered us & give the alarm. Then all that had passed turned & galoped to the rear. We all fired at them as they went past but did not see that we hit anny one. They went & bucked up with their reserve. Then the twelve pound gun we had with us exploded a shell in their bunch & scatered them back out uf sight.
We took our places back in the marching column again & that or the next day about 4 oclock we arrived at Nacitosh. Our regt stayed in town untill after dark. Could hear firing between the rebs & our pickets nearly all around town.
We seamed to be rear gard & when we started to leave, a chuch bell started to tole. It seamed like it was an aranged signal that we was leaving. Anny way, we sent a squad to stop it.
At the edge of town we crossed a bridge onto an island several miles long & one wide & our army was all camped on it. It was so dark when we got thare that we couldnot see anny thing. We filed out of the road, stacked our arms & droped down in our blankets close by & was sleeping sound when a gun boomed out.
I opened my eyes, see it was stiil dark. Just then another gun boomed & I set up & see others doing the same close by. Then the third one boomed & that brought every on to their feet & the officers ordering fall in. By this time it was getting light & we could see the rebs had attacted our outposts but we wasent needed to drive back off the island just in time to save their battery & no damage was don excep waking up the army an hour or two early than usual.
But after breakfast & the advance started out, they, another reb battery holding the bridge landing off the other end of the island. One of our batteries ingaged theirs & a small force crossed the bayou & cleared the way. When we crossed the bridge, see several of their horses dead & one of their guns dismounted & left.
One place below thare the road followed along the river bank for some distance. We see the column did not follow the road but kep back out of sight untill the road bore off from the river. I could hear some scatering shots so droped out of line. Sliped to the road to see what was going on. See thare was a few bushwackers taking shots at anny thing going on that exposed road & a few of our boys in the brush taking shots at every puf of smaok raised by the bushwackers on the other side. I laid low & watched the other side untill I got in a couple of shots & the man that made the smoke that I shot at heard my bulet strike some whare near him I think.
I was bunking with Frank Hill & Charly Clark at this time. Charley had stole a canteen of whiskey from another of the Co. that had quite a pull with some of the officers & could get favors of them. Charley did not care for the whiskey but had a grudge against hym. He told Frank & I about it & said the canteen was under our blankets & that as soon as dark, he would sneak it out & throw it into the bayou. This was whare we was camping for the night. Frank H. did not like the idea of throwing good whiskey into the bayou so he went to bed early. I told Charley that I was afraid Frank was drinking from that canteen under the blankets & that if he got a couple of good drinks would give the whole thing away. We soon crawled into our blankets & before we hardly got to sleep Frank took another pull at the canteen. The first thing I knew, could hear the contence gurgling down Franks throat. Charley hearde it too & as every one had retired then, took the canteen from Frank & sliped quietly to the bayou which was only a short distance & threw it as far as he could but Frank had got enough so he was restless & muttering every little while & we was afraid the boys would hear & mistrust whare the whiskey went to. Finely Frank wanted to get up & trying to keep him quiet got him riled up & he began to get pretty lowd & some one not far off said "I think you fellows had better keep quiet". Frank fixed back "you better keep still". I recognized the Colenls voice & joged Frank & told him "that was our Colenl he was talking back to". That quietd him & he ducked under the blankets & all was quiet after that. But we see two of the squad that owned the whiskey testing canteens on the sly the next morning but of corse they found nothing.
When we got to Alexandra, we found the boats of the fleat held up by low watter on the rappids just above town. Some of them could get over by transfering their load onto liters & others they thought would have to be destroyed. But a Wisconsin regt made up of river & raftsmen thought they could fix the river so as to save all of them.
One of the officers in the regt was a civil engineer & he took charge of the work. The rapids was 200 rods long & lots wider than at other places. They started dams at the uper ends of the rappids from each side slanting down stream. That raised the watter some above the rappids & concentrated & deepened it over the shallowest part. The dam was built in two or three days & worked ok. It wasent supposed to confine all the watter into that narrow long end.
It was built of lumber mostly from buildings tore down, shop & outbuildings. The river was nearly two feet lower than when the boats went up a month before. I see one of the biggest gunboats go through the rappids. The current between dams was strong & the boats went through with such speed that if they struck bottom, they would not stop verry easy. From Alexandra thare was plenty of watter so guess the boats was all saved as they all got over the rappids.
Another little incident as we was crossing Marksvill Preare, a tract of land of three or four thousand acres with nothing but grass growing on it. As we was within a mile of the timber on the other side, two batteries opened on the column. They was in the edge of the timber & we could not see the size of the force so the leading regt turned left & so on untill we had a line reaching nearly a mile on each side of the road. The wagons trains wer back farther & then another line of infantry.
Some of our batteries on the first line opened on the smoak of their batteries & kept it up untill our whole army had taken their place, all in full view of anny one. If the rebels up on of the big trees near whare their battery was with a good glass, they could have counted our regts, batteries, & estimated the force pretty corectly. I have often wundered if that wasent the reason that they chose that place. I don't know of another place in the whole state of Louisianna that would answer better.
Soon come the order to the first line to shoulder arms & forward march & before we got half way to the timber, the rebs fire had ciesed & when got thare had vanished & we took the road in the same order as we was before. I did not hear of or see anny casualites on either side.
I don't remember of a single rain while we was on that expedition. The drinking watter was getting scarce & the roads awful dusty but we was nearing the Mississippi & expected to take boats thare but some of the corps was in their graves & others wounded before reaching the river. I was looking ahead to meeting my twin brothers at the river but was wounded in the little fight we had just before we reached the river & did not get to see my brothers untill six months later.
Along in the PM we crossed Yellow Bayou on a pontoon bridge. That wasent far from the river & when the bridge was taken did not expect the rebs would follow us farther as they was careful not to show anny force in sight of the gunboats.
But our brigade, three regts & battery was stoped at the bayou & the column marched by untill the rear got near. We could hear firing quite lively & soon shells coming from quite a distance droping around trying to find the bridge. Could hear the gun & the shell coming before it got near that & the hight they was droping from showed that they was coming from two or more miles away.
We went back acrost & 40 rods from the bayou. Was lounging around wating for the rear to come up. Several shells droped close to us. Some would explode & some not. One struck the side of a tree out in front of our line then the ground & come tumbling toward us which made the boys serge each way to let it pass. It come to stop just in front but the boys kept going expecting it to explode.
The rebel gunars must have ben aquainted with the locality as they was guessing close to where the bridge was. One shell droped in the watter near it & exploded & threw yellow mud & watter 40 feet high. All at once we was greeted by a volley of small arms from the woods 20 rods to our left. We jumped to our places & started doublequick for that woods.
Our battery charged out thare too & we stoped at the edge of the woods, we to form line & the batery to load grape & at their first shot, big Sargant Lathrop drop like he was shot but he got up grinning kinder sheepishly to think he got knocked down by the concussion. I got into my place & droped down on my knees. I notised one of the Co. trying to get his gun to go off. He was shuting his eyes & pulling the triger but it would not shoot.Charley Clark & I was laughing about it.
The rebs, some of them only four rods away, was firing aright in amongst. I & Alphonse Morse was hit about the same time. He through his brest above the heart & I through the left leg into the right just above the knees. When I was struck, I fell on my face, sated for a few seconds & quivered & when I looked up, Several of the boys was looking at me with expressions on their faces as thou it was my last quiver.
I roled over & two of them started to take off. Just then the regt gv the comand to forward & they started with a yell that thrilled me so that I felt like yelling but did not. The regt went out of sight into the woods & that was the last I see of them for over six months.
I went to the rear between & Corell an arm over each & my legs swinging aroud like they had no muslls or boans in them & when we got to the only house around there, several Drs was hard at work amputating. Others was being brought in. One from a Co. next to ours named Coners but he was past help when they got him thare & two of his Co. comenced to dig his grave near whare I lay. Clark went back to hunt the regt but I asked Corell to stay with me a while.
Soon the drs helper come around, looked my wounds over a little & said I would have to go on the operating table. I said no & Corell said no & he went on disgusted & soon another come & bandaged both legs then. Then Corell left me & I lay in the shade of a hedge whare I could look into the house & could see the Drs working. It was about sundown & I could have went to sleep only the canons was booming back in the field & they seamed to hurt my head.
Think I did get to sleep later but soon after dark they come around with a planters coach & took me & two other wounded & started for the landing on the Mississippi. On the way we crossed another bayou on a bridge of three steamboats side by side & we drove acrost the lower decks in front. One of my legs hurt me bad on the trip. < p>Don't know what time we got to our boat but they layed me on a blanket near front of the lower deck. When I woke up it was morning & we was steaming up the river. They soon moved me up into the cabbin & lay me on the floor with others on a blanket under us & our heads to the wall. We reached Vicksburg that day. I thought maybe Wash & Well would be their & come & see me. I did not see them.
All the wounded was changed onto a hospital boat & there I had a cott in the middle deck in front. A nice cool place & we was bound north some whare, the farther the better. The boat was a big one & heavily loaded. I was the last man moved off the other boat & old A.J.Smith, our corps comander, come through the cabbin & said what you doing here. I told him I was worried for fear they wasent going to take me on that boat going north. He asked what regt I belong to. Said they would take me all aright. I don't know when they would or not only for him. I never had occasion to speak to him before or after that.
The river was high on the way. Up over the banks untill we got near St. Louis. They unloaded us at Jefferson Barracks, ten miles south of St. Louis. That was an old gov post. The barrack was built of stone. We had good care thare. Good beds, grub, drs, & nurses. I was there a month or six weeks & could get around on crutches when I was sent up to Keokuk, Iowa.
Thare was put in a hospital in a hotell building. I was in the third story from the basement. All that was able to get around was given some duty. My duty was to keep the spitoons clean. I soon traded that to a kid that had to carry watter up three flights of stairs. I discarded my crutches, then used a cane & one pail for a while & then two pails. That soon built up my leg musels. My right leg had ben doing all the work untill I quit the crutches & the left one was a long time catching up. It would not bend clear back at the knee for over a year.
That was a nice, easy place to earn my twelve dollars but I tried to get back to the regt after the second week but the Dr. that had charge I guess got pay by the number of the patients & did not like to loos anny. He said I wouldnot stand it long with the regt, my lungs was bad & said he could give me a furlow home for 30 days. I see I could not get to the regt so took a furlow & went home to Father, Mother, Herbert &B ert. The folks was living on a wrented place then. Father had sold his 80 acre place whare they lived on when I inlisted.
Soon after I got back to the hospital, the government got onto the Doctors scheme & sent all the patients that was able to the front. So we had a good boat load to St. Louis. Then I & about 100 went by rail to Louisville, then south to Nashvill. Stayed the first night in an unfinished hottl, the Zollicoffer House.
The next morning we was distributed to our regts. My regt was in the outer works of Gen. Tomases army with Hoods rebbel army strung out around. Just outside most places in plain sight laying siege to Nashville.
Supose the battle would have ben over before I got thare only the big storm that come a few days before & covered the ground with ice & sleet. It was a sorry looking camp I foound the regt in but I was glad to see the boys of the Co. & my bros Wash & Well.
That night I crowded in a little dog tent with four boys which wasent much like the good bed I had at the hospital & the next night was on picket with the rebs only a gun shot away but we wasent exchanging shots much as it was freazing all night.Clark & I was on post together & wasent alowed a fire in the night but as soon as it got light we started a little smudge as we could see a half mile in all directions.
Nothing happened for a half an hour, then a bullet ziped by a little abive our heads & plowed up the dirt beyond. We could hardly hear the gun but see the smoak away of the the left front. We knew our guns wouldnot carry that far so droped back from our fire one on each side & wated developments. Could see the smoke come from behind a big tree & from the shooting seamed to come from a good high power rifle. The second shot under shot our fire about five feet but in good line. One more went through the smoke a few feet above the fire.
About that time, two men come along from town with Winchester rifles, the first one I ever saw. They was called Henry rifles then. I think the man that invented them was named Henry. Afterwards bought & manufactured by Winchester. I don't think the gun belonged to the army but just come out to try the new repeaters.
They asked about the reb picket line & we told them whare they would find it & they did not go on far untill they comenced firing. Thare was scattering trees & some brush in our front. The men with the winchesters would keep three or four rods apart & dodge along from one tree to another & fire at anny thing they see move. After the rebs had fired one shot from their muzzle loaders, they had to keep on the go & had no time to load again. Anny way, them two men with the repeating rifles pushed their picket line back a half a mile in a short time. The rebs could probily see that their oponents had a new kind of gun that would shoot a regular stream.Clark & I was relieved & went back to camp before the men with the winchesters come back so we did not hear if anny one was hurt.
About the second day after that, our army was out early forming a line several miles long fasingHoods army. Our regiment was near the left of our line within two or three miles at least but on our right it streached away to the Tenn. River above Nashville. It seamedGen Tomases plan was to push his right & if he could turn Hoods left, it would put Hood in a bend of the river. So the first days fighting was don mostly with artelry. The rebel line gave back slowly from one set of their works to another but by evening they had got behind their mane works & we did not get them out that night nor the next day untill the mane charge was made about three or four oclock.
That night we stacked our guns on the battle lines & lay by them. There was some artilery firing after dark. Some of it so far away to the left that we could hardly hear it. BrotherWash & I heard that night that one of our school mates, Rigement, was near us so we went & hunted it & found Charley Cooledge. Talked with him a few minutes. I don't think Wash ever saw him again but I saw him after I come to Cal. Over fifty years later. We did not meet again after the war as my folks was living in a different county then. Cooledge, like myself, went west & took up a homestead. His was near Grand Island, Neb. He got well off but when his family had all died & he had donated the most of his for a hospital in Nebraska. He died in 1922.
The night on the batle field passed off quietly but opened soon after daylight. We advanced closer to the rebbel line but seamed to be wating for other troops to get in place. We lay behind a slight nole that protected us from the fire in front. There was a set of plantation buildings on the nole where our skirmishers was exchanging shots with the rebbel works which was in plain sight from thare.
Wash & I sliped away up towards the buildings. As soon as we raised the nole could hear bulets whistling over striking fences & shrubery. There was 3 or 4 rods of clear place before we could get up behind the house & we did not loiter anny crossing that. The hous, a large two story one well furnished with carpets, rugs, pianos & such. We did not see the people that live thare but the house was full of our soldiers except the rooms on the side next to the reb lines. The windows was all shot out on that side & some of the bullets comeing through the side of the house. Our skirmishers was in & around the house & other buildings keeping up a steady fire on the reb works but the straglers like I & Wash was thare for courosity only. Some of them wasent being nice, either. I remember seeing one young fellow strum a few keys on the piano then jerk off an ivory key & put it in his pocket. Some of them had tore up a lot of carpets & ransacked closets. Wash & I took back a rug to help out our beding if we should camp near thare but we did not get to use it for soon an officer come galloping along back of the line waveing their hands to the front & ordering charge.
Then all was busle. Men taking their places in line not knowing what was coming to them in the next few minutes. We went up by the buildings over a fence. Then we was on smoth open ground about a half a mile from the rebel works which was a stone wall & back of that 20 or 30 rods comenced a steep rideg covered with scatering trees. The ridge stretched along back of their lines both ways as far as we could see except one pass with a road through it near whare we struck it. Their works was belching powder smoak when we got in sight of it. Bullets whistling by over head & raising the dust at our feet but I don't think anny of the rebs got in over two shots before we was close on & some of them made for the rear after the first for thare was only a few left at the works & them holding up their hands when we got thare. We went on to the foot of the ridge in time to see a few of them disapearing over the top & others got winded & took refuge behind trees before they could get to the top. Them we invited to come back down & we gathered up quite a bunch of prisners.
The pass through the ridge a little to our right got blocked by their stampede & we captured a few guns & wagons thare. The line along in front of us was verry thinly mand & they made no grate effort to hold it. I don't remember that we had a man wounded in our Co. The mane resistence was a mile or so to our left near the roads runing south out of Nashville.
We camped that night just inside the reb works near the pass through the ridge. There was one wounded rebel near whare we camped. He seamed to be partly unconsious & no one looking after him. I & the twins got some boards to sleep on. I don't remember that we was looking for rain or we would not have used the boards the way we did. We used them to keep us off the damp ground. They was longer than the bed & extended up the slope & when the rain came on in the night, what fell on the boards ran down under us but that was no worse than we got several times in the next three or four days.
We was following Hoods army which was a verry disagreeable march as it rained about every day & Hoods army left the roads in bad shape. We met some prisners being taken to the rear by our cavalry. But it seamed like we wasent gaining anny thing by following them farther as we was punishing our selvs as much as we was them.
So the second day we left the road the rebs was on & camped at or near a landing on the river & was ordered to build a permenent camp. We built breastworks, drilled some, & passed the winter thare. It was a verry lonesome place. Our rations come by boat & was ample except one week that the rebs had the river blockaded & then we was out the longest I remember of being. We lived on parched corn & the drivers had to watch their teams at feding time that the boys did not snipe some of it & that did not allways work. Feding time was after dark thare. I often watched the driver who genrly left just before the mules got cleaned up & I could get enough leavings to make me a good batch of parched corn.
When the first boat got to us, I & Wash was on detail to unlode. Welly was sick & being excused from duty. At that time, there were eight or ten of us unloading, working lively & wishing for an axident that would bust one of the cracker boxes we was carrying as we could smell something good inside. Soon one of the boys fell & busted a box & we all ralid to save the peaces & get a sample.
A pop peddler that come on the boat opened a barriel of bottles near whare we was at work. His sails wasent verry brisk as think wasent much money in the crowd but he got rid of that barriel quick. He got in to an argument with one of the boys & that gathered a crowd aroound him. Them in the rear wanted to get front & they all serged one way. The peddler & the barriel went down & disapeared. Finely the peddler come crawling out with his clothes verry badly messed & if his temper was rufled, he never opened his head but walked off to the boat. A Lieutenant of our regt had charge of the detale who was a god natural tall giant was in the midst of the crowd trying to quiet the boys. He was head & sholders above the serging crowd but could hardly keep his feet, but that smile of his never left his face.
Wal, we had our rations after that & could apreciate gov rations after going without anny kind for a week but I never had anny thing tats better than some of the parched corn did during the week.
The crackers we got at that last end of the war was good & could not be called hardtack.
We was glad to get orders to strike tents & prepare to leave that place. One boat took all from that place but others joined so we had quite a fleat by the time we got to New Orleans. Guess that was the longest trip on one boat while in the service. Was on the Cumberland & Ohio to Cairo & the Mississippi from thare to New Orleans. Don't remember how long we was going, but remember the men got unesa & touchy & had several fights among them selvs.
We disembarked at New Orleans. Marched through the city to the sw suberb & camped near whare the battle ocured between the British & army under Jackson. Thare is whare I see my first oranges growing on trees & took my first ride on a street car. Thare was a hos car line run from whare we camped up in to the city. We only stayed at New Orleans for a few days when we boarded a boat for Mobile Bay.
The boat was an old type steam ship with a walking beam, one large cylinder coupled to a walking beam midship. The other end of beam was coupled to a crank on a shaft runing clear through the boat from side to side & a paddle wheel on each end of the shaft. Don't remember that thare was anny way of running one wheel seprate from the other. It was a verry slow, crude boat & I never saw another like it but might have if I had lived near the ocean the forty years I lived on the prairie.
We passed out into the gulf in the evening. I went into the rigging with the pilot that took us out. He was an old gray hared man but had sharp eyes for seeing bowes & markers. He would ask me if I see anny thing anny whare around. I would have to say no. He would say "don't you see that beyou out there?" Then I could see it.
We soon felt the waves coming in. The pilot left in his little boat & most of the boys had gone below. I went up in the bow of the boat a while untill the rais & fall riled my stomach, then I went back midship whare it wasent as bad but it did not save me from feeding the fishes as the saying goes. After a while I went below.
Our Co. was in a big cargo room bunking on the floor. Coould hear some groaning & straining & comencing to smell pretty sower all ready. I slept verry well & when I went out deck in the AM, the boat was just docking at a wharf on Dauphine Island at entrance to Mobile Bay whare we disembarked & went into camp.
The island was sand covered with a few scatering pines. Thare was a small fort & a few government buildings. Also, a mile to the south acrost the chanel & near the panincelia was another fort. The forts, I guess, was put thare long before the war but don service when they was taken from the rebs.
We enjoyed the few days we stayed on the island geathering oisters & shells, Target shooting & making small boats to sail races with one another. But what we enjoyed the most was the bahmey weather thare. My boat was 18 inches long riget with a sale that I could set to run it in most anny direction. The day we left, I set the sales & rudder & sent it out on the gulf. It was in sight two or three miles away.
We took a steamer acrost to the south side of the bay & up a small stream whare our army was gathering that was to invest the two forts protecting Mobile from the south. Our gunboats was up in touch with the rebbel boats & forts. They had to work verry carful on acount of torpedos which blew up one of our boats already.
We was soon on the advance up the penincely in touch with their skirmishers from the start. Made one night camp before reaching the first fort whare we left the part of the force that was to work thare & the 16 core went on to another camp near Fort Blakley. The other fort was called Spanish Fort which was an old fashioned one of brick & morter strengthened & extended by modern earthworks. Blakley was all earth works built acrost a strip of dry land runing down to a landing at the bay.
The first night at that camp I was on picket. I & a new recruit of the Co. It was a new experience to Lukens, that was his name. He enlisted from his home in Dubuque & had only ben with us a few days. The reason two of us was togather, the post was an exposed one whare the line made a square bend. Our trick was from ten untill midnight. Every thing was quiet untill 11 PM, then the rebs comenced firing on us & it sounded like they was advancing on our corner post. Lukens was getting uneasy & asked me if we wasent going to the reserve. I told him our duty was to be sure the rebs was advancing & fall bac firing. He said he was awful sick & couldnot wate longer. I beged him not to leave me, we would find out if they was coming anny farther, but he left & made good time for a sick man.
I knelt behind a big tree & listened. Some of our boys along the line was exchanging shots with them but I still thought they was creaping up on my post & was straining my eyes to get a glimpse of something moving. Then I heard one calling with a low whistle & it sounded in front untill the second one come. Then I answered & it was the man they sent in Lukens place & when I see who it was I was relieved of all fear for I knew him as a brave level headed man of Co. A. If I had stampeded & left the post in a hurry I would always be ashamed of it. After the rebs had located out line, quit firing & supose went back & reported.
The second or third night after that I was on picket again near the same place, only on a single post & wating for day to brake. It had ben quiet all night. When the sun come up I got in front of my tree to get the benefit of it. Wasent expecting anny thing to happen at that time in the morning nor did I see anny thing. But I felt it so strong I got up & steped behind the tree that I had ben sitting before. I had no sooner don so than there was a shot from the front & a bulet plowed up the dirt just in front of whare I sat. It was a little low to hit me but was a good line shot. I watched the front & got two glimpses of a man dodging back into a guley.
We had not closed in on the fort but don so that evening. Fort Blakley was a heavy earth work with emplacements for canon every 15 or 20 rods joged out in front so the canon by turning right or left could rake the ditches in front of the mane works. Then they had a line of picket ditches 30 or 40 rods from their mane works & 20 or 30 rods apart that would hold 10 men apiece.
By working all night, we got a line of shalow ditches started so by working all day could hold a big force thare but had to change the men after dark.
The third night we advanced half way to their picket line. Each man took his gun & a shovle & it stood him in hand to use the shovle lively during the night to get a protection for the next day.
We mounted no guns at Blakley but did at Spanish & they was making the ground tremble with their fire. But one day they sent a shot into our camp which was a half mile from the fort & would have ben in plane sight only for being in heavy timber.
Some of the boys at camp climbed a big tree & was discovered by the rebs who sent a shell which burst in camp. As it happened, it hurt no one but they could have driven us out of that camp with a few more like it. They probily did not know thare was a camp thare. Camp was pretty empty anny way as the ablebodied was down in the front trenches. I was thare about the whole week before the charge.
We all felt like the war was about over & was wishing it would colaps before we had to take or loos anny more lives. It looked like if we took them works in front of us by storm, there would be some lives lost.
The charge ocured at four oclock in the afternoon. Our batteries moved into range & opened fire over our heads for about 30 minutes. Then our whole line left the works & swept forward. Thare was two rebbel guns that could swepe we had to pass over & some of us thought we could lessen the danger by falling flat at the first sign of their smoak. But we did not have to try the experiment as the two guns was put out of comission by our batteries before the charge. The minny balls was in evidence all the way to their works but thare wasent menny that hit near me & none of our Co. was wounded in the charge.
The rebs did not make a verry determined stand. I think half of them had left the works for their rear after their first fire & by the time we got to the affets or abstructions & had to stop & remove them, thare was verry few of them firing on us. Them that stayed at the works whare we got over did not make much resistence or we would have had a hard tim to get in as the ditch was so deep that one had to have help to get out of it.
We felt more like shaking hands with the rebs than anny thing else & I don't remember that we put them under gard at all.
We heard that Mobile & the fleat was all in our hands & on the second day after, we started for Montgomery, the capitol of Alabama & the first capitol of the confedricy. It was something over 100 miles from Mobile to Montgomery. We did not know that the war was over & expected a scrap of some kind when we got thare.
On the second day out on the march, through the woods a courier come up with us & told us of Lees surender. Then we went wild. Some threw their guns on the ground but more ov them comenced to shoot in the air untill the bulets comenced droping through the trees, then the officers put a stop to that.
But that same day we got news that put us all in gloom on account of Lincoln's asasination Them two things hapend before the charge at Blakley. Lees surender in forenoon of same day & if comunications had ben so we could have got news promptly, the charge might not have ben made.
When we arrived in sight of the big yellow earthworks enclosing Montgomery on every side, I for one was glad that thare was no enemy behind them & that we could march in with bands playing & guns on our shoulders. The crowds that turned out to wecom us was mostly negros. Hardly a white person in sight.
We marched through the city, past the state house & made camp near the river a half mile out. The month we stayed thare, we patroled the city to keep order.
The disbanded rebels was passing through every day going to their houses & ocasionaly an argument between them & our boys ended in a fist fight. Some of them woes houses in Mississippi & Tenn. had not seen them in two or three years & we knew that menny of them would only find ashes whare their homes use to stand.
While we was thare, some of our boys got pretty wild mixing with the slums of the city. One was JoLukens, the recrute that got sick & left me alone on the picket line. He deserted the Co. & I never saw him again but heard several years after that he was living in Dubuque & belonged to the G.A.R. post thare so I supose he took advantage of the goverments offer that if deserters would report & surender, they could have the stigma removed.
Several of our Co. went swimming nearly every evening. It was only a short distance from our camp to the Alabama River. One evening a few of Co. D went along with us. That was a German Co. Among them was a young recrute only just arived from the north whare the Co. was raised, so they was all acquainted. The old soldiers wanted some fun with the recrute & grabed before he got his clothes all off & threw him off the wharf. He told them he couldnot swim but they did not believe it. At anny rate, they laughed at his actions & woould have let him drown. He sank the second time but when he come up that time I was just outside & close to him. I grabed him under the arms & pushed him in to shore & the Dutchmen pulled him out & tiped the watter out of him. He would hardly have come up again whare we could have got to him to save him. He declared I saved his life & declared the first thing after payday he would pay me the 50 cents he borrowed of me the day before. But I never got the money he borrowed of me as we left all the recrutes a few days after & they was put in another regt that their time wasent as near out as our regt.
A few days after that, Welly & I crossed the river near that place. It wasent verry wide along thare but deep & had a swift curent. We made a little raft to float our clothes on. It looked riskey after we got into the swift curent but we made it ok but was caried down a long wase. We put on our clothes & went back along some olde fence rows & found the dandiest blackberry patch ever. Thare was blackberries almot anny whare around thare that season but never saw anny as large or as plentiful as that particular place. We pealed bark from a berch tree to make a receptical to carry them to camp in & when we got thare we felt like we had earned a shortcake.
Our three years term of service was drawing to an end but we could get no transportation from whare we was. Made one days march which took us to the town of Selma down the river. Thare is whare we parted from the recrutes & I did not seeWash &Welly again untill they was discharged & come home four months after. They was stationed at different places in Alabama & Tenn. carrying male & such.
We marched from Selma to Vicksburg. That took us clear acrost the state of Miss. & was our last march before leaving the service. I remember we strayed & took it easy. We wasent afraid of being picked up & sent to Andersonville. We encountered a grate menny of our old enemies along the roads going to their houses. Our meetings all seamed was generly frendly & all seamed glad the war was over. But we knew that some of them was going back to a devastated section of the south & would have to start from the bottom & build it up.
We made the 200 miles to Vicksburg in good time but tierd & foot sore & soon got a boat for our long trip up the river to Clinton, Iowa where we was mustered out of service, paid off & our transportation home.
The citezens of Clinton had a banquet ready for us when we arrived & of corse we don the Iowa Rations justice. But the change back to northern climat lanced me about the same as it did when we went south so it was two months before got back to normal.
My folks had moved back to Clayton County & was living in the big red house that we lived in several years before the war.Father had sold the little farm they lived on when I inlisted & his next venture was buying a livery outfit in the town of Elkader, county seat of Clayton.
Wash worked in the livery stable. Welly & I worked out mostly on public work & on farms in busy times such as harvest. We worked six months on a county bridge acrost the Volga River & another six on a dam acrost the Turkey River, all in Clayton County.
In the mene time I got married while Ma was working out too. She worked for Father & Mother & finely we took rooms in the red house & thare is whare Ott was born. And that spring we moved into rooms with my folks.
I & the twins, as we called Wash & Welly, riged up an outfit. A span of young horses & a covered waggon & headed west. We traveld lesurly, camping out nights & shooting a grate deal daytimes. The country was thinly setled & the game very plentiful. Just going north in the spring, we brought up near Fort Dodge whare we had several acquantances.
We each picked a claim of 160 acres of river land, so called because a co. called River Co. claimed to have filled a contract with the gov to make the river navigable from Fort Dodge to Des Moines for which they was to receive every alternit section 10 miles wide. Thare was some doubt the the co. could hold the land. If it went back to the govt, squatters would have first right. But thare was no knowing which way it would go or when it would be desided so we only stayed one winter untill we went farther west whare thare was plenty of govt land subject to homested entry.
But in the mene timeMaude was born on the river claim in Webster County. The other three children-Raymond, Herbert & Jennie was born on the homested in Buena Vista County & you all know something of the hardships Ma & I had to go through getting a start thare.