History of Buchanan County, Iowa 1842 to 1881
Transcribed by Tommy Joe Fulton and Peggy Hoehne
LETTER NO. LXXXVI.
CAMP, TWENTY-TWO MILES SOUTHEAST OF, MEMPHIS
November 27, 1862.
FRIEND RICH: - The Twenty-seventh regiment, Iowa volunteers, finds itself encamped to-night at this point, on the road to Holly Springs. We left Memphis yesterday morning in three divisions, by three different roads. There were two brigades in each division, and five regiments of infantry in each brigade. This makes in all thirty regiments of infantry; one regiment of cavalry, and nine batteries of artillery-all under the command of Major General W. T. Sherman. The First division is under command of Brigadier General Denver; the Second under command of Brigadier General Smith; the third under Brigadier General Lauman, who is an Iowa man, and a good officer, and a good man.
The Twenty-seventh is in the Sixth brigade, under General Lauman, The brigade consists of the Twenty-seventh Iowa, Thirty-third Wisconsin, One Hundred and Fourteenth and One Hundred and Thirtieth Illinois, and Rogers' battery. When we left Memphis, the Third division was on the extreme right, the First in the centre, and the Second on the left. The First moved out on the Pigeon Roost, the Second on the Germantown, and the Third on the Hemando road. To-day at 12 o'clock the three divisions made a junction fifteen miles out from Memphis. This constitutes quite a formidable army corps. Together with the necessary trains it probably extends six or eight miles while on the march. I say probably, because it is impossible for me to find out its exact length.
Our destination is probably Holly Springs. Here the rebels are in strong force, having about thirty or forty thousand men, so it is reported. What is the strength of the Federal force already in their immediate vicinity, I do not know, neither do I know the number of men in this corps, but I judge we have over thirty thousand.
Members of the Twenty-seventh, and all other regiments, not well enough to walk and carry their knapsacks, were left behind to garrison Fort Pickering, and among these was Lieutenant Donnan. Probably it would be as well for those writing to their friends in the Twenty-seventh to direct their letters in the care of the captain of the company, giving the letter of the company also, and then adding, Twenty-seventh regiment, Sixth brigade, under General Lauman, via Cairo, Illinois.
Of the proclivities political of these people, there can be but one opinion - they are all secesh, red hot, as one woman said to-day. Their slaves are all in favor of going with the "Lincoln soldiers," as they call the Union troops. Each of the regiments in this corps has lots of black boys with them. They tote knapsacks and guns, and do all other kinds of labor willingly. The soldiers are not allowed to entice them away, but it a negro wishes to go with us, he is at liberty to go. Once with us he is as free as anyone, and is paid his regular wages. We see large fields of cotton unpicked and corn ungathered. The teams of all planters and farmers along the line of our march are taken and added to our train. The quartermasters and commissaries take corn fodder (hay and oats do not exist here), beef, pork, and all other articles that are necessary for the sustenance of the army, giving memoranda receipts for the same, the holder of which can get a voucher for the receipt by taking the oath of allegiance prescribed by the acts of Congress. We took to-day a mule from a Methodist minister. He complained to the commander of the brigade, who referred him to Colonel Gilbert. The Rev. --- represented to the colonel that it was all the mule he had to ride the circuit with, and he wanted this one left. Colonel Gilbert told him if he would take the oath of allegiance, he would give up the mule. The preacher refused, and so our regiment has one more mule. . . . We have had lovely weather since we left Cairo, and this is a lovely country.