Charles H. Lewis Letter Oct. 4, 1862
27th Iowa Top Banner

History of Buchanan County, Iowa 1842 to 1881
Transcribed by Tommy Joe Fulton and Peggy Hoehne

page 171


CAMP FRANKLIN, DUBUQUE. October 4, 1862.

FRIEND RICH: - Our destination is Minnesota. It was announced by Adjutant General Baker, that he had thought of dividing our regiment, sending a part of it north and a part south; but that he had just received a dispatch from General Pope, stating that he might send an entire regiment north; and he had decided to assign the Twenty-seventh to that department. The announcement was received by the regiment with wild cheers; though many, perhaps the greater part of the men, would have preferred going south. . . . In a few days the whistle of the locomotive will announce to the people of Independence the passage of troops for the protection of the northwestern frontier. And we will distinguish ourselves out there. Some of the truest men that ever lived to bless any nation, have lay down to die among the mountains of the far west. It was there that the gallant Fremont, standing where man never stood before - on the very top of America, flung out to the breeze the old flag.

Surgeon Sanborn, of Epworth, has arrived. He is keen, jovial and well-spoken. By his friends he is said to be a man of ability, and every way qualified for the post he occupies. Yesterday we were mustered into the regiment, and this morning we are to receive thirteen dollars, the month's pay we were to have in advance. It comes in a time of need, and will be most gladly received. We are also to have furloughs for five days, and I opine that this town will decrease in population very fast this afternoon, and that we shall see home and friends once more.

The State fair is being held here, and is, under all the circumstances, a pretty good show. Our regiment marched into the enclosure on Wednesday. The fruit on exhibition was good, and the flowers smilingly beautiful. The needle work showed taste and skill. Surely the ladies of Iowa know how to use "The swift flying needle - the needle directed by beauty and art." War's dread alarm is sounding through the land; and, in some portions of our once smiling domain, the hand of Industry is paralyzed. But of our own favored state it may yet be said,

And still she walks in golden hours
Through harvest-happy farms;
And still she wears her fruits and flowers
Like jewels on her arms.

Later. - We returned home to our camp late on Thursday evening, and found the little company who remained during our absence, in good spirits and glad to welcome us back again. . . . This morning we are to receive twenty-seven dollars, our guns, knapsacks and canteens; and this afternoon four of our companies leave for St. Paul, and the remaining companies will leave in the morning. [The destination of the regiment had been changed from southern Minnesota.] We leave here with happier hearts, than we should have carried away a month since. The President's proclamation, the harbinger of a new and glorious era has sounded in the ears of freemen.

Later. - On board the Itasca - Four companies left Camp Franklin on Saturday, and started for St. Paul on board the Northern Light. Colonel Gilbert, Adjutant Comstock and Surgeon Hastings were on board. On Sunday the rest of the regiment left, four companies on the Itasca, and two on the Flora. Lieutenant Colonel Lake, Major Howard, Surgeon Sanborn and Quartermaster Langworthy were with this portion of the regiment. It was to cold on Tuesday night, to sleep on deck, and Colonel Lake secured the cabin for us. The next morning, when we woke, we were within eight miles of St. Paul, but aground. At 8 o'clock we were aground again; and, it being election day, we began voting. Granger and Miller, of Alamakee, and Donnan, of Buchanan, were chosen judges of election. The vote Lieutenant Donnan has sent you. When we reached Fort Snelling, we marched about a mile to the west, where we found the companies which preceded us. Here we are, eight miles from St. Paul, on a beautiful prairie, in our white tents. Captain Noble's company had pitched tents for us; but, unfortunately, had pitched them in the wrong place, and we were compelled to pitch our own. The fort, which is a substantial stone structure, erected in 1822, is occupied at present by a large body of troops, cavalry and infantry. Our regiment is again broken for a few days. Captain Noble's company and five others, with two cannons, are going to Mille Lacs, the head of Rum river, a distance of about one hundred miles a little west of north from St. Paul. Both the colonel and lieutenant colonel accompany the expedition, which is to superintend the payment of the annuities of the Indians up there, after which they return to this place.

A few days later, from St. Francis. . . . We marched northward over a rolling tract of land, to Minnehaha Falls, six miles above Minneapolis, the intervening country being level and fertile, and not unlike that about Independence; except that it has no boulders. The situation of Minneapolis on the west side of the Mississippi resembles that of West Independence. It has some elegant dwellings, a good court house, and as magnificent mills as are in the western country. We marched three miles above the falls, and encamped by a pleasant brook-side, naming our first station Camp Lake, in honor of our lieutenant colonel. Next day we marched to Anoka, a distance of sixteen miles, the wind blowing a perfect gale. Here we crossed the river on an old current ferry, which was a very tedious job. Colonel Lake went ahead; and, as fast as we came up, the teams were put in proper position, and again we pitched our tents, a day's march nearer our destination. Could you have seen us that night, you would have had difficulty in distinguishing us from the genuine Sambo. I looked several times at some members of company C, that I had known for years, and then passed them by as strangers.

In a little while, however, we had our tents pitched - the war paint removed, and your correspondent felt like singing, "We will be gay and happy still." This morning we struck our tents at an early hour, and marched from the little village of Anoka, up the Rum river about fifteen miles; and here we are on the banks, just after an excellent discourse from our estimable chaplain, the Rev. D. A. Bardwell. Colonel Lake is sitting by my side on a convenient box, intent on reading a copy of the Army Regulations. Hastings and Hunt are over in their tent in good spirits, and Captain Noble and company are well representing old Buchanan. Captain Miller and company remained at Fort Snelling. I may write you again from some of the Tamarack or Cranberry swamps of this region.