Saturday, February 19, 2011


Today marks the 150 year anniversary of the Swearing in of Jefferson Davis. The event, no doubt, went unobserved here in SoCal, but we did have a half page about it in the LA Times.

With that as my backdrop I want to continue with Will's journal entries as he gets closer to actually getting into the fight. Here we are back in May 1861. We get an idea, too, of Will's religious leanings.

We Drilled All Day

Oscaloosa City
     Last night we stopped at Red Rock; got a sight at Captain Ogg’s sweetheart, pretty good looking. I suppose he thinks so.
     Today we traveled from Red Rock to Oscaloosa [60 miles east of Indianola, Iowa], quite a pleasant journey. We cheered every lady on the road, the Boys all in good spirits. Even cattle & horses came running to the roadside, seeming to cheer the Stars & Stripes.
FRIDAY, MAY 31, 1861
Keokuk City
     Last night my company stayed at Oscaloosa; the citizens gave us the very best of accommodations. I enjoyed myself very well; kind faces caused me to think of friends at home.
     We left Oscaloosa at for Edenville. From thence to Keokuk on the cars, ran over two cows. Arrived in Keokuk , a pleasant journey.

Keokuk City
     Last night was my first night in quarters. Heaving some hay scattered on the floor, the whole company, consisting of one hundred and seven men, all slept together side by side.
     Although unaccustomed to such fare, I slept sound, and the company generally enjoyed the same blessing.

Keokuk City
     My health good.
     It rained last night. Got up at []; left quarters. Went to hotel for fear of building falling; it did not fall.
            Went to church at Good sermon by Rev. Engles, M. E. [Methodist Episcopal] Church. At the same place at 1 ½ P.M., discourse to Volunteers by Rev. Corkhill [?], patriotic & sentimental.
MONDAY, JUNE 3, 1861
     I drilled all day from to , 1 ½ to It is very hard for one to drill all day that is not accustomed to such things, a very warm day.
     This evening the 2nd Regiment made a grand parade on
Main Street
, commanded by Colonel Curtis.
     My health is good.
Keokuk City
     We drilled from to I got very tired & hungry.
     Cheering intelligence from Virginia, rebels put to flight, munitions and provisions captured.[1]
     This afternoon two regimental parades.
     Friend Dr. Bevington from Winterset came to see me. I wish more friends would do likewise. Health good.

Keokuk City
     All right today.
     Drilled 2 hours this forenoon. This afternoon we have for sport and well is the time improved. All manner of shine [trick or caper] & tricks are being played among the company.
     City is alive with people, it being market day.
     I took a bath in the Mississippi.
     I enjoy excellent health; this I deem a great blessing.
     we were marched to the river where the company took a bath in the mighty waters of the Mississippi, this the warmest day this summer.
     I went to the landing and hailed three companies of Volunteers from northern Iowa.
     Drilled 4 hours this forenoon.
     Good Health.
Keokuk City
     This has been a remarkable [sic] hot day. Capt. Ogg drilled us 5 hours this forenoon, but this afternoon we are privileged characters, and, all manner of shine is being played by the Boys.
     Lieutenant Clark read the Articles of War to the company, solemn thing to swear to.

Keokuk City
     This morning at we were examined with regard to our bodily strength and diseases; only two of our company were rejected. Five men refused to take the oath and disgracefully deserted the company. However, they were hissed out of the company.
     Today we were sworn into United States service for three years. I felt solemn on the present occasion.

The Sabbath

SUNDAY, JUNE 9, 1861
Keokuk City
     This morning I went to class meeting at the M. E. Church,
Graham Square
. Here I heard the testimony of old & young, those who have enlisted under the banner of our Lord Jesus Christ, as well as under the banner of their country. Such things are cheering to the Christian soul.
     Health good.
June the 9th con
Sunday, continued
     I went to church at , discourse by Rev. Engles on the Douglas’ memory. I did not endorse the sermon in every particular. Douglas did not do the good that he might have done for his country, he being the founder & destroyer of the Missouri Compromise.[2] He was undoubtedly an office seeker & would almost sacrifice principle for one. Yet, the last two months of his life was true to his country.
     At I attended Sabbath school. Quite a number of scholars were present. The whole school was conducted with credit to all. My prayer is that they may prosper.
Sabbath June 9th con

     At I attended Divine service at the Catholic Church. This building is well constructed & it, being decorated with fine drawings and images of Christ & the Virgin Mary, gave it a grand appearance.
The members, on coming in, knelt to the Virgin. The choir chanted the Vesper Hymn, while the old priest responded, standing amid 24, lighted candles, with 2 boys on each side to put on and take off his long robe. The choir discoursed the best music I ever heard in the state of Iowa.

Keokuk City
     My health is still good.
     Quite a disturbance in the company today about a communication written by a member of the company to the Indianola Visitor.
     3rd Regiment made its first regimental parade today on Main & Johnson Sts. This is considered the finest regiment in town.
     May God preserve my health through the war.


     Lieutenant Clark drilled us 4 hours this morning.
     My friend Wm Swan was taken down with the Lung Fever. He is very bad.
     This afternoon the memory of Douglas was celebrated. The regiments were on parade; 10,000 people were present. Speeches were presented.
     May God get me through life & save me in health.
     I visited my sick friends at the hospital this morning; found them improving in health.
     While there, I visited the museum. Here I found things of interest. I saw petrified bodies, all kinds of beasts, fowls & fish. I also saw skeletons, limbs & parts of bodies of men. Things brought me into solemn meditation.        W.C.N.

Keokuk City
     At last night orders came for the 1st & 2nd Regiments to repair to Hannibal, Missouri, stating that there had been a battle there. The city was in the highest pitch of excitement.
     At the 2nd Reg. took a steamer for Missouri. At the 1st Reg. did likewise. All in the best of spirits, success to them.
Keokuk City
     Nothing today any more than Governor [Claiborne F.] Jackson’s proclamation, calling for 50,000 men to put down the Iowa regiments.[3] This made my blood boil. How we want to get down there [perhaps to Boonville] to avenge the blood of justice.
     Drilled 4 hours this forenoon.
     Nothing to do this afternoon, but write letters. I wrote to Charley Toner, Clarinda, Iowa.
     We had the amount of drilling this morning as usual. We have certain hours to drill & certain hours for rest. Every evening the 3rd Reg. has a dress parade.
     This evening we received intelligence from Missouri that the Union Guards at Chillicothe were attacked by the enemy.
     Health good.
     The drum beat at the usual hour, at I went to the Catholic Church. The service & responses were in Latin. The sermon was in English.
At I attended United Presbyterian Church.
At 2 ½ P.M. I attended Sabbath school.
For continued remarks, see page 128.
While at the Catholic Church, it occurred to me that it is possible that so much ignorance & superstition can exist in an enlightened nation as this. But it certainly is so. And how shall we stop it?
By the formation of law.
, for the first time since my arrival in the city, I attended the United Presbyterian Church. While these scenes of my youth passed over my mind as dreams of the slumberer, it being the church I was raised in.

Text was 1st John, 4th Chapter & 5th.
1st   – The world is to be overcome.
2nd   – The wicked is termed the world.
3rd   – Everything that obstructs the Christian on his way to Heaven may be termed the world.
4th   – The means by which the victory may be    achieved.

Not having material, I did not take the he__s all down.
I trust we may have Divine service all the time we are in the army. So far, I have attended church so far & expect to so long as life & health permit.

Keokuk City
Nothing of importance transpired today, the same routine every day in drilling.
I have a bad headache this afternoon; I trust it will not continue.

[1] Perhaps Will is referring to Federal General George B. McClellan’s encounter in the mountains of western Virginia: “On June 3, in the first land engagement of the war, McClellan routed a sleeping Confederate camp at Philippi,” Robertson, James I., Civil War Virginia: battle ground for a nation, Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 1991, pp. 28-29. This encounter became known as the “Philippi Races” The Time chart History of the Civil War, Arnold, James R. and Weiner, Roberta, Editorial Consultants, Ann Arbor, MI: Lowe & B. Hould Publishers, 2001, p. 35. 
[2] Stephan A. Douglas, U.S. Senator (D) from Illinois, d. 3 June 1861, proposed the Kansas-Nebraska Bill. The bill would alter the 1820 Missouri Compromise, which prohibited slavery north of latitude 36° 30’. Morison, Samuel Eliot, The Oxford History of the American People. New York: Oxford University Press, 1965, p. 589.
[3]Jackson’s proclamation -calling upon 50,000 brave-hearted Missourians to rise and drive out the ‘invaders’- was off the press on the morning of June 12”... [Missouri’s] “1860 census showed about 236,000 men of military age. If only 25 per cent responded, they would more than fill the 50,000 quota...” Adamson, Hans Christian, Rebellion in Missouri: 1861, Philadelphia: Chilton Company, 1961, pp. 118-19.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Off to "Boot Camp"

I want to get this blog out to you before the SuperBowl festivities begin here at home. Not much of a crowd over for the Big Game, just the two of us actually, and that's just fine with me. So let's go back to when a super bowl may have been only a very large bowl of food. Or, the non-sensical question: Soup or bowl? I know, 'use a pun; go to jail'.

Instead let's go back and join Will as he completes his enlistment, describes his farewells, and then on to army training in Keokuk.
Clint Eastwood fans out there will recall Winterset in the book and film, "Bridges of Madison County". 

THURSDAY, MAY 16, 1861
W.C. Newlon’s Diary
Winterset Madison County
State of Iowa. In the year of our Lord,
A.D. 1861 May the 16th
     _ach Bloon Iowa
Adams Co., Iowa
     At sunrise little did I think I would be here. I was at work on the road when a friend sent me a note to meet him at the Stone Schoolhouse in 20 minutes to go with him and E.H. Brown to Page Co., Iowa on business, which offer I gladly accepted. And taking a pony, I soon went home, got ready, and was on my way.
Page County, Iowa
     We left our host this morning in Adams Co. During the forenoon the weather was pleasant, and we traveled along, passing the time away shooting chickens and taking turns in riding the pony. We took dinner [mid-day meal] at Captain Baker’s.
     In the afternoon we made good time. At a heavy rain came up, so we had to stop for the night. The rain is pouring down.
SUNDAY, MAY 19, 1861
     Page Co. Iowa
     It is still raining like fury & has been all day along [sic] without ceasing. It has been a lonely day with me so close to my journey’s end, and couldn’t get any further on account of the rain, which fell in torrents.
     This is a fine place to stay, very clever people, natives of Ohio.
     The gentleman of the house is a practical physician.
Good night, W.C. Newlon
     We started for Clarinda early; proceeded half way to town when we met my brother-in-law [Moreland]. I went on to town; got to see a good many friends. Remained here till after dinner, which I got at James Wilson’s. Moreland came along with his team & I went home with him. Found my sister [Dorcas Jane] & children well; Mattie [Moreland] did not recognize me. Things look natural.

Clarinda, Page Co., Iowa
I feel happy this morning to think I am with my friends once more. I have not been here for some time before. I spent the day in visiting particular friends. I find them all in good health.
The Boys tried to get up a party for the evening, but failed.
I could not get Mattie to recognize me at all this evening.
I went to see my &c, &c, &c.   W.C. Newlon

To Winterset
Adams Co., Iowa
I left my sister’s early this morning. Went to Clarinda where I found my friend E. H. Brown & 3 other passengers waiting for me. We were soon on our way to Winterset
We took dinner at Capt. Baker’s of Montgomery Co. We proceeded on our journey to Adams Co. where we stopped for the night.
After supper [evening meal] I visited my friend Frank McDaniel, formerly of Winterset, Iowa.
Winterset, Iowa
We started in good time this morning with a drive of 50 miles before us to Winterset. We passed through the thriving town of Nevin [perhaps present-day Nevinville, 40 miles northeast of Clarinda] at took dinner at Swear’s Mill on Grand River. Arrived at Winterset I did not go home, but stayed at the Pitzer House.
I went to Sewing Society at Mr. B.F. Bixbys, ladies plenty. Good time.
Fort Desmoines
I left Winterset early this morning for Desmoines; took dinner at Swan’s Tavern, 9 miles from Desmoines.
After a fine rest of two hours, we made our way to the city.
I put up at the Desmoines House where the members of the Legislature & Gov. Kirkwood were boarding. The town is alive.
SATURDAY, MAY 25, 1861
St. Charles, Iowa
I left Desmoines City at for Indianola to join [Captain] Ogg’s company. I arrived at Indianola The town was alive with people here. I joined the company & took the oath for 3 years service in the war.
 At I hired a team & buggy & started for home. Went as far as St. Charles [five miles east of Winterset] where I will stay till morning.
W.C. Newlon

I Bade Adieu

Winterset, Iowa
     I called for my team & buggy as soon as breakfast was over, and soon found my way to Winterset.
     I soon found myself surrounded, all wanting to know what I had done.
     I stayed but a few moments here. I proceeded directly home; told what I had done. After a little change of clothes, I went to Hoosier Prairie, where sister Mary [Wilson] was teaching. But [she] was now sick; father [Nathan] had also gone. See page 125.
     I found her health poor, after a short conversation. I ate a few bites of dinner, and without shaking hands, bid goodbye to all & soon was riding across the plain toward home. So far this was a lovely day to me.
     I went to town; attended church of the Christian Church. After which, I returned home where I spent the remainder of the day and night in the most melancholy manner imaginable. May I never witness another such. I could not get to see sister Martha, as she was gone to her school on Grand River, 18 miles distant. And, as I was to leave the next morning, it made it another impossibility to see her.
I have been to funerals but I cannot say that I ever witnessed one at any time that I felt more solemn than at the present time.
     After we had heard a portion of God’s word & all had knelt around the family altar to implore the blessings of Divine Providence in that and future events, I took my hat; went out to a sacred spot and there I knelt & prayed that God might be with me through the war, which I had just enlisted & that God would protect my friends while gone & that we all might live to meet again on earth to enjoy the blessings of home.
     Late this evening I visited our old neighbor, Mr. Evans. Had a pleasant interview. Long may they live.    W.C.Newlon

     Indianola, Iowa
     I bade adieu to my earthly parents [Nathan and Eliza Ann Winder], sisters [Mary, Mattie, Dorcas, Martha, Phebe] & brother [name not known] this morning. For how long a time God only knows.
     I have often parted with friends before, but never in all my life did I feel as I did upon this occasion. To see all looking so solemn with tears stealing stealthly [sic] down each one’s cheeks was almost too much to bear. But I summoned all my courage & kept up as good spirit as possible. See page 126.
     This day I bide you, my friends, adieu; I go to war. I go to offer my life a sacrifice upon the altar of my country. If my life is demanded to sustain our glorious Republic, I go to fight the battles of my country. I go to lend a hand, to put down rebellion against our glorious government. Nothing else would induce me to go.
     And who can say not go? I feel it my imperative duty; my country calls me to her aid. The laws, which have protected me through life, call me to go. And the God of Heaven calls me to go.
     What is better than life, & how can a man enjoy life with home & friends? And how can a man have these without laws to protect them?
     When I look at the cause my heart burns with patriotism. Therefore, my friends, mourn not after me; do not be troubled about me. What am I & what is my life compared with my country? Then for my country, my friends, I bid you adieu.
I left Winterset with B.F. Maury, S. G. Ruby,[1] M.R. Tidrick, and others for Indianola at After a little fast driving, we arrived at Indianola [25 miles] at My friends were there to welcome us.
TUESDAY, MAY 28, 1861

It rained this forenoon without ceasing. Our company drilled in the public hall on the north side of the public square. It was my first light infantry drill and is very fatiguing.
At the rain ceased. The citizens began to assemble & in a short time the number was great.
At the company of citizens assembled at the north side of the square & heard a farewell address by the Rev. J. C. Roed. See Page 127. It was an excellent piece of composition and was very well delivered. And, I do think it was very appropriate for the occasion.
Tears, in abundance, flowed from the eyes of all present, after the ladies presented us with a flag, to which Captain Ogg responded in a very appropriate manner.
The next thing was the presentation of copies of the New Testament by the ladies of Indianola to the Volunteers. This I accepted as the highest prize and may it do me good as it does the upright in heart.
The Order of the Day now being closed, friends from the country took leave of their friends, some, perhaps, forever. A very affecting scene, indeed.
The Volunteers received a uniform consisting of a blue & red shirt and a glazed cap.
The day, having passed, I retired to the hotel; spent the evening in writing letters & settling up my business.
I know not whether I shall ever live to come back to Iowa again. This may be my last night in Indianola, Warren Co., 30 miles from my home.


Red Rock
Today we started from Indianola to Edenville in wagons. I witnessed scenes this morning long to be remembered, the parting of friends, fathers with sons, sisters with brothers, and young men parting with sweethearts. I was glad that I had no relations to part with there at Indianola.

[1] Samuel G. Ruby, U.S. Consul, Belfast, Ireland, during Harrison Administration. Note to W.C. Newlon from S.G. Ruby on Consulate stationery.