Charles H. Lewis Letter May 13, 1863
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Correspondence of the State Register

Jackson, Tennessee – May 13, 1863

Several weeks have elapsed since you have received a communication from this point. Several movements of interest have taken place during my protracted silence. On the evening of 19 April, the Infantry of Jackson – except one or two regiments – were ordered to proceed on the 20th to Corinth, Mississippi. Early on the morning of the 20th, the various regiments were assembled at the Mobile and Ohio RR, and ere the sun had risen high in heaven the long train of cars were rolling Corinthward. The land, if indeed it may be called land, between Jackson and Corinth's is the poorest, most worthless, most God-forsaken of any tract through which I have ever passed. Covered thickly over by tangled briars and almost impenetrable underbrush, lie there with no charms for me. Of Corinth I need write nothing. Your readers are conversant with its history. We moved into the camp of the 32nd Illinois infantry, and remained there during the temporary absence of the troops of Corinth as an expedition to Tuscumbia, Alabama. While at Corinth, Colonel Lawler, who was in command of the troops from this place, received his commission as Brigadier General, and was ordered to report without delay to General McClelland.

I visited the battleground and saw many of the graves of the 7th Iowa. I saw, too, the desolating track where the fiery car of war had swept by. The place is well fortified. A few troops could repel a large and powerful foe.

We returned to Jackson after two weeks spent in Corinth. The 27th Iowa immediately on its return, changed its camp to a more shady and pleasant place, in the immediate vicinity of Jackson. No sooner was the change effected than the Regiment was scattered hither and thither, to guard the railroad. Our men have been out about one week. Under existing orders they cannot be detached but four weeks. They are well pleased with their situations, and live in the best style that the scanty supplies of this rebel country will admit.

Yesterday, Brigadier General Thomas, Adjt. General of the United States, passed through this place on his way to Corinth. The train stopped but a few minutes. The troops of this command were in readiness to receive him. A number of cotton bales were rolled together to serve as a stand. He was introduced by Major-General Oglesby. General Thomas is an old, spare looking, gray-haired man – his appearance is easy, not graceful. He is no speaker, but a close, accurate thinker and a plain, common sense talker. I presume that not a man in all that vast assemblage ever heard such words before. Principles advocated by direction of the President of the nation – his remarks were what he was instructed by the president to say – what he said in his speeches down the River which have been reported; that he was here in a two fold capacity; as inspector of the Army, and furthermore to announce the policy of the President and his cabinet with reference to that unfortunate class of beings called slaves; that they were to be received kindly, to be clothed, fed and armed, and to be used to put down this rebellion; and that any officer refusing to receive them kindly, should be dismissed from the service, and any soldier maltreating them, should be rigorously dealt with. This speech was an effort, but was merely an utterance of such sublime truth, that every soldier's heart must have leapt for joy. Major General Oglesby then made a brief, pointed and stirring speech, endorsing heartily the sentiments proclaimed by General Thomas, remarking in the course of his speech "that a negro was too good to kill a rebel", not intending that they were better or as good as white men, but that they were far superior to the destroyers of our government. Brigadier General Kimball made a short speech endorsing the remarks of both Generals Thomas and Oglesby. He remarked that we could not be dragged down to the level of a Negro, and that it was impossible for us to pass far down below the Negro to the level of the traitor. All these remarks were received with hearty cheers. Black troops will be organized here; the field officers, commissioned and noncommissioned staff, the line officers, and the first Sergeant of each company will be white, the other sergeants and the corporals will be promoted from the blacks themselves.

C. H. L.

The Iowa State Register, City of Des Moines, Wednesday, June 3, 1863