Jed Lake Letter Sept. 10, 1863
27th Iowa Top Banner

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

pages 192 - 193


ASHLEY MILLS, ARKANSAS, September 10, 1863.

FRIEND RICH: - When I last wrote you from Brownsville, we were expecting to start for Little Rock on the sixth. Instead, we moved our camp about two miles, in order to get better water and more of it. On the eighth instant, we received orders to march, and were soon on the road. We marched out of the timber which surrounds Brownsville, and across a beautiful prairie about four miles wide; then into the nicest timber that I have seen since we came to Arkansas. Two miles further brought us to Bayou Metre, being the first good water we had found since leaving White river, where we stopped for dinner. Crossing the Bayou we entered a wilder and more dense growth of timber, filled with a thick undergrowth. Through this we marched some six miles, and encamped on the plantation of one of the wealthy planters of this region. In front of this plantation was Bear lake, an extensive body of clear water, such as is not often seen in these latitudes.

On the ninth we moved our brigade to the front of Major General Steel's army, and encamped, about 9 o'clock A. M., at Ashley's mills, on Deerskin Bayou. Here we stayed until this morning, when we received orders to move at 8 o'clock A. M., Colonel True's brigade being in advance of the infantry, on the road to Little Rock. Each man was to take two days' rations in his harversack, the teams to park as soon as they crossed the Bayou. About 9 o'clock A. M. we started, and after marching about four miles, we reached the Arkansas river, at a point where Brigadier General Davidson's division of cavalry was crossing on a pontoon bridge. The rebels had obstinately disputed the crossing of our forces, and there had been one of the prettiest artillery duels that could be imagined; but, before we arrived, the rebels had skedaddled, and the firing had ceased. General Davidson's division moved up on the south side of the river, and Colonel True's on the north. After marching about two miles Davidson found that the rebels had made a stand, and a severe skirmish ensued. The movements of both armies could be seen from our position on the opposite side of the river. Our artillery was placed in position and opened a flank fire on the rebels across the river. After a few rounds from our guns, a huge cloud of dust was seen rising on the road to Little Rock, and the shouts of our men and the dash of the cavalry showed that the rebels were making long strides at double quick time for Little Rock. Our artillery was again sent forward and again opened on them from a favorable position. The column was then put in motion and we soon came to earthworks recently erected and abandoned by the rebels. Our advance guard found one man in the trenches at work, the rest having left without notifying him. In their camp were found chickens and turkeys dressed and on spits before the camp files, kettles of mush half cooked, guns abandoned, and in fact everything to indicate a very hasty leave-taking. About two miles further on our eyes were greeted by a sight of the capital of the State of Arkansas.

In the river, between us and the town, lay the burning hulks of five boats. The pontoon bridge across the river here, had been cut in twain and set on fire. But a few good swimmers soon brought over the boats, extinguished the fire, and again the Arkansas river was bridged. A little before sunset the Stars and Stripes waved over the capital of Arkansas. At this writing, 10 A. M., September 11, 1863, Colonel True's brigade is encamped opposite the town, on the north bank of the river. Of the city I cannot now speak, as I have not been across the river yet. I did, however, in company with several hundred others, bathe this morning in the river. The water is not deep, but is the clearest river water we have seen south of the Ohio,



We have no news from the forces pursuing Price's army, except rumor, which says that at night, on the eleventh instant, they were about twenty miles from here, and fighting all the time; also that the rebels were burning their train and everything that in the least impeded their march. The latest papers we have received from the north, are the Memphis papers of the first instant. We are here cut off from civilization almost entirely, as there is no mail route in operation, and we are compelled to depend upon the supply trains for our mails. These run at very irregular intervals, and there is no certainty about their bringing the mails when they do come.

Isaac Gill, of company H, died at Brownsville on the eight instant. Thomas Magill, of the First cavalry, and son of Esquire Magill of Buffalo Grove, was killed in the battle on the tenth instant, but his brother, who was with him, is uninjured. These are all the late casualties to the men from our county of which I have heard.