Charles O. Torrey Diary
27th Iowa Top Banner


Ambulance Corps
27th Iowa Infantry Volunteers
Second Brigade, Second Division, XVI Corps Ambulance Corps
Mar 25-Apr 21 1865

Submitted by Camille Corte, Archivist
Historic Blakeley State Park Office.

*Manuscript Division, Library of Congress
*John R. Sellers, Civil War Manuscripts
Washington D. C. 1986

*Norman A. Nicolson, noted Civil War historian of the Mobile Campaign, generously gave Blakeley Park his collection of diaries, letters, and momentoes of the 27th Iowa. Any reprint of these documents should carry thanks to him for his gift to Blakeley of his collection. Nicolson has been collecting documents pertaining to Fort Blakely and Spanish Fort and the Mobile Campaign for better than 40 years. Anyone desiring to correspond with him can reach him via the Archivist at the Historic Blakeley State Park Office at e-mail address: [email protected]

Saturday [March] 25
Transport Col. Cowls came in & our Brig. of ambulances got order to load. We took buggies down and three big wagons. Loaded stock yesterday as written in yesterdays diary. I make a book of my diary. Loaded Comsary Rations all day. We drew forage.

Sunday [March] 26
Boat started about three or four this A.M. Crosed Lake Ponchatrain through pass near Fort Barlet (?) into Gulf Mexico then into Lake Borgn. I don't much like the "Briney deep". I have had tooth ache all day. Smoked pipe twice. Made me sick. Was some seasick to.

Monday [March] 27
Boat anchored for the night and today the wind blowed hard & we came near being wrecked. Finaly run in behind Horn Island & anchored. I was seasickish. What a terable feeling. Commenced to rain terably about 1 o'ck. Looks afful gloomy to me a Landsman all my life.

Tuesday [March] 28
Boat raised anchor & started about 8. Gulf very rough for transports where the sea brecks over the breckers. Some of the men afful seasick. Passed Grants Pass into Mobile Bay. Reported at Fort Gains from there run up Bay & unloaded Cavelry then up Bay to Sykes [Starkes?] landing. There anchored.

Wednesday [March] 29
Mobile Bay Ala. Here this A.M. in sight of Mobile. Can see Rebel gunboats around City & their Transports. Our gunboats fireing at their Batteries. Our gunboats can't (move?) up. Torpedos. One boat blown up. We unloaded our Ambulances & Wagons Horses &c on pontoon barges. Tied stern to shore in hvy. Rain. Come near going to Mobile by accident. Moved out about 1 mile & went into camp. At noon it rained.

Thursday [March] 30
Got up 4 & fed. Started about 6. Passed the 13 Corp. Heavy skirmishing all along the line in front of the old Spanish Fort. Our sharp shooters are close under the fort. Unfavorable to take by storm. Moved about 7 miles to Div. Hospital & went on to reg't. & got three letters two from Mira No. 24 & 25 & one from Mary Roe.

Friday [March] 31
I've got good camp ground pine trees dry ground and good water close to camp fine spring. Supply train with big escort of Cavely & infantry. I visited 21 Iowa. Saw good many boys I knew. We here our boats have got behind Spanish fort & we have had some old big guns playing on theres today. Heavy cannonading most of the day.

Saturday [April] 1
Rear Fort Spanish Ala Bay. Weather pleasant all day. Ther has been about the same amount of fireing from our batteries & sharp shooters. We washed Ambulances. Should have got rations but did not. Steel giving Rebs fitts above here.

Sunday [April] 2
Pleasant all day. Sent three Ambulances to 1st Div. to haul wounded. 4 P.M. went with our Brig. into the Country. Torpedo blew up Stevenson's & Jak  Eisenhart's horse but did not hurt them much. 312 Rebs came from Steel's  command. He took 500 last night.

Monday [April] 3
Got moving early to be ready. Only had finely  started 2 P.M. We took 12 Ambulances & two waggons . Moved in rear Blakely. Formed on Steel's  left. Had todrive Rebs in fort to form line. 19 Torpedoes taken out & 4 exploded in the road. We came on one Exploded (?) today. Gen. Steel  threatened prisoners & made them take them out.

Tuesday [April] 4
Blakely Ala. Our lines close around Rebs fort near Blakely. Brought in 3 wounded from Brig. 5 Ambulances out all night. Cloudy & looks like rain. Pioneers (policing?) ground for Hospital making preparations for good many wounded. We have nice place for hospital. Got 4 letters from Mira. She is at J. P. & well.

Wednesday [April 5]
Had one Ambulance out through the night. 2 wounded brought in. Heavy fighting on our left. Was gun boats fighting Very heavy cannonading. Good share of it Rebs. Tryed grape shot & shell on our men in front 2 Brig. but hit few men. We drew rations for 3 days. Spanish Fort pretty well demolished.

Thursday [April] 6
Heavy cannonading all night. Rebs charged our line but Yank would not worth [a] cent. We had three wounded. I sent Ambulances for 89th Ind. to bring in man shot yesterday noon but could not be brought away till dark. Weather pleasant & warm.

Friday [April] 7
The usual amount of cannonading night & day. Killed & wounded come in slowly buried four & 15 wounded, I believe. Sent four Ambulances to landing. Keep 3 in front all the time. Keep them on twelve hours. Rained some most of the day. Our Div. advanced our line close up to Rebs works.

Saturday [April] 8
Cloudy & rains some. Rebs charged our line night. Wer  repulsed. Our forces charged Fort Spanish & carried it capturing 590 prisoners of war & 27 cannon. A. J. Smith had the honor of taking it. Rebs had partly evacuated & re-enforced  this fort in our front. This will soon go up.

Sunday [April] 9
Wrote Mira letter No. 36 in forenoon. Was up to Regt. about 3. They had orders to move out one days ration. Hurrah Charge the Fort Blakely about six o'ck & carried it under tremendous fire. Strong works with every obstruction. Offul  ground to charge. Took 2500 prisoners 26 cannon two Gen. I guess our loss 14 in killed wounded &c.

Monday [April] 10
Feel old was up till 2 this A.M. helping the wounded. Got several Rebs dead & wounded. Most of our men badly hurt. 27 [Iowa] very lucky only 3 or 4 [shot?] Jackson Co. B bad wound. 11th Wis. lost heavy, also 58 Ill., 8th Ill. (and) 21 Mo. We have 12 dead at Hosp. and 3 Rebs to bury. buried 19 more. I guess our loss 135 (185?) killed. I got 3 letters from Mira, Nos., 26, 27, 28."

Tuesday [April] 11
Slept like hay. has moved his headquarters close to our ranch. Our loss in 2 Div 16 C. is 45 killed and ios (?) wounded or near that. About noon we got order for all ambulances and wagons. Loaded 39 ambulances and 1 wagon took to landing. Big news going around.

Wednesday [April] 12
I slept on the ground near the hay. Our ambulances and wagons got back about 11 o'clock. They was all up all night. I was up to Regt. in p.m. All kinds of rumors of peace and Lee's surrender. Mobile is ours. 1st Div. 13 C. gone over to Mobile.

Thursday [April] 13
Got marching orders for ten o'ck. We packed & started up taking up the Tensas River about 9 miles & camped. I was up to Co. early and No. 31 from Mira, which I expect is my last letter for a while. Mobile is ours and 13 Corp is there. I guess we are bound for Montgomery. Rained some. Splendid reports.

Friday [April] 14
Wheat foot high - Rye 5 feet - Looks dark and rainy this A.M. A.M. to M. marched about 14 miles. I am now about 22 miles from Mobile North E. All pitch pine; timber. No settlements of account. Saw corn 6 inches high. Was heavy loaded with sick. Shame to get horse up in order then (to) give him up when need him most. Hosp. Imposed on us with ___.

Saturday [April] 15
Started about 9. 2nd Div. In rear. Kept North E. Passed very few houses. Nearly all fine woods. Bad roads. Many teams stuck. Ambulances loaded heavy. Had to unload before we got to camp. Made about 14 miles. Seems will soon give out. Had very heavy rain in p.m. I did not feed Bill.

Sunday [April] 16
Easter Sunday and no eggs. Oh, bless. Sun shines brightly this A.M. Some of teams come in this morning. Started about 9. Had ____ all day. Made about 15 miles. Camped in field. Went side road. Drew rations. They won't issue tobacco. Boys all mad. Can buy with cash. Am very heavy loaded. Some teams give out. Still pine timber but better soil. Kept N. E. direction.

Monday [April] 17
Man died last night. Started at 6. 2sn Div. In lead. Some better roads. Travelled til 3 and camped near farm. Boys foraged little bacon and corn. Train out of forage and grain. Our teams give out. Got two more from Div. Train. Two got swamped. Passed several plantations. Country thinly settled. No Rebs. Report is Rebs have laid down their arms. Pleasant.

Tuesday [April] 18
Our Div. In rear today. Ambulances divided up with Brig. I was with 1st Brig. 4 hrs. Found better country. Hot. Niggers come out by scores, and wenches and children by brigades. Passed through "Burnt Corn." We found plenty of forage. Got few mules. One died in road, and several had to be left. Camped in field on left side of road.

Wednesday [April] 19
Got news of peace. Marched at 7. Very warm all day. Many boys give out. Hip Hurrah! News just come from rear. Peace declared. Lee and Johnson surrendered, and Abraham issues proclamation., Boy shot ____ throwed their hats and hollered at the top of their voices. In dry country. Our men and stock suffer for water.

Thursday [April] 20
Broke camp 6. 2nd Div. In lead. Marched slow. Men very tired and foot sore. Lieut. Stevenson and the sanitary man had big row over horse the sanitary jay hawked. Liet. Kept horse. We made about 15 miles. After much running around got into camp among the logs on right side of road. 12 miles Greenville. Weather pleasant and warm.

Friday [April] 21
Oh dear, oh dear, how it rains. Commenced about 2 this a.m., and continued to pour down in torrents. Started about 12. Made six miles when night catched up with us, and camped near creek on left side road. Wagons without number stuck. Mules killed. One man, died side road. I never saw such awful roads.