Saturday, August 27, 2011

Heading South

Heading South

The next day was spent in moving from the cars to the steamboat intended to carry us down the river. I procured a pass in the morning and visited Benton Barracks where I found the 4th Iowa Cavalry. Here I found a number of acquaintances, that I had not seen since enlistment. The barracks looked almost like home, for I spent two months here last winter and not very pleasantly either. The day was spent very pleasantly with my former associates.

In the evening I returned to the landing and found my Regiment aboard the steamer Iatan, all ready to open the way through the running ice down the Mississippi River.

Starting time found not a few of the soldiers intoxicated for they had liberty to do as they saw fit during the day. Privilege, which a great many abused, brings trouble upon themselves as well as others.

At 10 o’clock P.M. the 7th, with all being in readiness, we shoved from shore, directing our course to the sunny South....

During March Will and the Iowa 3rd Infantry traveled south, through Cairo, Ill, stopping at Paducah, Fort Henry and Savannah to rest and regroup.

On the 17th Will’s Winterset Zouaves arrived at Pittsburg Landing:

We remained aboard the boat until the 17th when a part of the expedition landed at Pittsburgh Landing, Hardin county, Tennessee, where we still remain in camp this the 26th of March. We are at last brigaded. Colonel Williams is acting-brigadier general and has command of the First Brigade in the 4th Division, which gives our regiment the position of honor, which is on the extreme right of the division.

Leading up to the Battle of Shiloh, 6 April, Will writes:

April the 1st finds the Iowa 3rd Infantry with 150,000 other troops quietly in camp on the Tennessee River, Hardin County Tennessee, but making preparations to act upon the defensive or aggressive in a very short time. The rebel’s army at Corinth, Mississippi is being augmented daily by troops arriving by railway from different parts of the Confederacy.

Further down his narrative, Will foresees the future battle:

This was a signal for a battle, which I think, will soon be forgot not and it would appear from this that the enemy will be the attacking force. Our army is still being augmented by the arrival of fresh troops. If a battle takes place here between the two majestic armies, the loss of life will be immense.

After the Battle of Shiloh, Will gives his assessment of its historical significance when he pens:

April 16th A.D. ‘62, what a change since I last took up my pen. A terrible battle has been fought, and a great victory has been won by the great federal army at Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee.

On the evening of the 5th, everything appeared to be quiet along our lines, our regiment had dress parade at the usual hour (5 P.M.) a chaplain’s order was read announcing that we would assemble the next day (Sabbath) at 11 o’clock for divine service. The evening was pleasant and all appeared to be happy, little did we think that, the Sabbath soon to dawn upon us would be a day to be remembered by generations yet unborn, is the day on which began one of the greatest battles ever fought on the American continent up to that time.

Later, in a more personal entry, Will writes about surviving the battle in one piece. Yet, in the fall of 1862, six months later, Will would have his right leg amputated due to a wound during the Battle of Davis Bridge (6 October 1862):

I, myself, was wounded about 4 o’clock P.M. of the first day, in the right leg but not serious. As I looked around and saw hundreds with legs arms and bodies torn to pieces, I felt that I should be thankful that I had escaped with so slight a wound. However, this the 16th day of April the wound is healing finally, and I hope that in a short time I will be entirely well, little if any worse off than I was before I was wounded...

Five months after Shiloh and a year after the Battle of Liberty, Will compares Liberty to later battles:

Wednesday Sept. 17th / 62

Quite stormy last night, raining this morning. This day one year ago we fought the Battle of Blue Mills. We thought that a terrible affair; would think it no fight at all now. Our Regiment is stronger and in better condition this day than it was one year ago.

My health is good; all in excellent spirits. At this P.M. the sky is clear.

Camp near Bolivar

Sunday, August 14, 2011

South to Tennessee

We pick up the action now as Will and the Third travel by boat into Tennessee. A date at Shiloh awaits them... 

Events in Review

Headquarters, Keokuk
Huntsville, Randolph Co., Missouri
February 8th, 1862

The year of ‘62 dawned upon me at Benton Barracks, St. Louis, Missouri. The first day of the new year was spent in a way peculiar only to a military life. A New Year’s dinner was served in the Captain’s room in military style. Nothing worthy of notice took place during the day.

We remained in Benton Barracks until the 11th of January at which time we were ordered to join our Regiment at Montgomery City on North Missouri Railroad eighty-five miles north of St. Louis. At an early hour we bade adieu to Benton Barracks, but not without giving those remaining behind something to remember us by which we did by forming a line between Headquarters and the General’s house and gave three groans for Benton Barracks. I never was in all my life so much pleased to get away from a place as I was on this morning to leave Benton Barracks, Although, I left many good friends, from Page and Louisa Counties [Southwest and southeast Iowa counties, respectively ].

We marched to the R.R. Depot, and in due time were on the cars for Montgomery City. We arrived at St. Charles on the Mississippi River at 11 o’clock A.M. and the river, not being bridged; we crossed on a large steam ferry.

St. Charles is situated on the north side of the river, it contains perhaps 3000 inhabitants and I presume in ordinary times that a great deal of business is done here, it having the advantage of river and R.R.

The crossing of baggage and such like occupied considerable time and consequently did not leave till 3 o’clock P.M. And, before we reached our destination, night overtook us and therefore did not get to see much of the country along the road.

At 11 o’clock P.M., arrived at Montgomery City. Found our friends hail and hearty. The town of Montgomery City is a new place containing but few inhabitants, and is noted for nothing but the distilling and selling of whiskey and an unfinished well thirteen and fifty feet deep [1350]. Water is very scarce here, the citizens using cistern water.

We remained at Montgomery City till the 1st of February 1862. During our stay here I, with four associates, boarded at a private house. The time passed off pleasantly while here.

However on the first of February we were ordered to Huntsville 60 miles north[west] of Montgomery City.

We took cars at 3 o’clock in the evening [afternoon]; arrived at Allen Station at twelve o’clock the same evening after a cold and disagreeable ride. We remained in the cars till morning and slept but little on account of the extreme cold. In the morning, after building fires on the ice and snow to get breakfast, we partook a meal gotten up in military style.

After all was over we took up a line of march in the direction of Huntsville six miles west of Allen Station, at which place we reached about noon, stepping to the time of “Yankee Doodle”.

Quite a number of Negroes were upon the streets, with their white eyes turned up as large as a full moon. A few citizens could be seen standing around on the corners dressed in homespun of a blue and brownish color. There are but few, if any, avowed Union men in the town or vicinity. Those who have not declared openly their secession principles take a neutral position.

The town of Huntsville contains perhaps 2,000 inhabitants. There is nothing remarkable grand about the buildings except a magnificent courthouse and an educational institution, without which the town would present an insignificant appearance. The location is among the hills and resembles some of the county towns of eastern Ohio.

There are but five companies of the 3rd Iowa Infantry here and one company of cavalry under the command of Captain Ogg.

On the evening of the 8th of February at 11 o’clock P.M., a detachment of the Black Hawk Cavalry brought to headquarters at Huntsville 90 kegs of Kentucky Rifle Powder captured some twelve miles from this place, also 7 prisoners. The powder was found part in a corncrib and part of it in a hollow log, February 10th, 1862.


News of the battle and taking of Roanoke on the North
Carolina coast February 8th reached here the 13th. The taking of Fort Henry at the same time caused great joy among the troops. News reached here today, the 15th of February, that the federal troops were shelling Fort Donelson, also of the success of our troops at Springfield. After a short skirmish, Price retreated, leaving General [Samuel R.] Curtis in possession of Springfield with the stars and stripes floating from the courthouse for the first time, small rebellion.
The number of prisoners taken at Roanoke was 3000. Our loss fifty killed, about one hundred wounded. The enemy’s loss was still greater; they lost their entire naval force including all their gunboats except two of _.

The enemy is in a perilous condition; they are being struck on every side, with a complete success to our army in every instance - Harrah for the right and the destruction of the wicked.
We still continue to remain in Huntsville. But, up to this date, nothing of importance has transpired worthy of notice, February 15th A.D., 1862.
Fort Donelson was attacked on Thursday the 13th of February. The fight continued until Sunday morning at 9 o’clock the 16th, when the fort surrendered to the forces of General Grant. 15,000 prisoners including Generals [Brig. General Gideon J.] Pillow, [Lt. General Simon B.] Buckner and [Albert S.] Johnston. Of a greater victory has not been won since the present war.
The number killed in taking of the fort is __. The number wounded is __ . [Will drew underscores, but left quantities blank.] Great joy among the troops today, the army of rebellion is broken. General [John B.] Floyd escaped from Fort Donelson with 5,000 men. A traitor to his country, a traitor to the traitor; he is cursed by his own followers.

Today, the 17th of February, a number of slaves and other property were brought into town. Their masters were just starting to Texas, but, lo and behold, we relieved them of some of their plunder. The Negroes are here and free, almost frantic with joy.

The Forts

[Brig. General Ambrose E.] Burnside’s Expedition sailed and attacked the enemy at Roanoke [North Carolina] with success to our arms, capturing 3,000 prisoners and army equipment of great value.

Forts Henry and Donelson were captured [16 February 1862] by the forces under gallant Brig. General Grant and Flag Officer [Andrew H.] Foote, commander of the gunboats.

Fort Henry was captured with but little difficulty, the enemy having evacuated it after a short engagement. Fort Donelson was taken after a horrible battle, which lasted three days. The fort was attacked first by the gunboats under Commander Foote and afterwards by the land force 30,000 strong, divided in three divisions, commanded by [Brig.] General [Charles F.] Smith, Major Generals Don Carlos Buell and John A. McClernand, the whole under the command of Brigadier General U.S. Grant.

The battle raged with great fury until the fourth day (Sunday). At six in the morning when General Buckner requested of General Grant an armistice till twelve o’clock for the purpose of coming to some terms of surrender, to which General Grant replied that he would except of nothing but an unconditional surrender and said he’d propose to move upon your works. Buckner replied that he was compelled to surrender. Thus on the morn of 16th of February, 1862, Brig. General Buckner surrendered Fort Donelson with 15,000 prisoners of war to Brig. General U.S. Grant, commander of the federal troops.

In the meanwhile, General John B. Floyd and Brig. General Gideon J. Pillow escaped from the fort with 5,000 men leaving their comrades to make the best of it. Oh! Floyd, thou traitor, hell is yearning for a traitorous soul. W.C. Newlon

This month has witnessed the retreat of the rebel leader Major General Sterling Price commanding the so-called Missouri State Guard from the unfortunate State of Missouri into Arkansas closely followed by the gallant Brig. General [Samuel R.] Curtis and his noble army. The enemy made a stand at a formidable position, but after a short engagement, he (Price) beat a hasty retreat, the feds in hot pursuit capturing arms, baggage, commissary stores. In abundance also a number of hostile prisoners of war among who [sic] is Brig. General [Edwin M.] Price, son of Sterling Price, Major General, commanding Missouri State Guards. And the notorious Colonel Freeman, both of which are now in Prison at Alton, Ill.

During the past month the 120,000 troops, which were stationed in the state of Missouri have all, with a few exceptions, left and gone into the field of active service. The Iowa 3rd Infantry still remains in West Missouri, divided in three divisions, part at Mexico [Missouri], Sturgis on the W.M. [West Missouri] R.R. and four companies there at Huntsville under command of Capt. A. S. Ogg, captain of Company G.


On the 4th of March at 10 o’clock A.M., orders came for the 3rd Iowa to march, and at 12 o’clock the same day, we were on our way to St. Louis. The journey was very unpleasant as the weather was remarkably cold. We arrived at St. Louis 9 o’clock P.M., the sixth.


Uncle Sam’s Mule
By a played out warrior

In a muddy ditch by a deep morass,
A Government mule lay breathing his last,
With harness all geared, and waiting for death –
The grim driver’s summons to pull his last breath.

A right hearty chap he was when he enlisted,
And took his scant rations of hay unassisted.
Stood up to the rack like a patriot true,

And his body, by welting, was red, white and blue!
At evening, oft times, his day’s labor over;
Would he pensively dream of his mule-age and clover;
But his sweet tho’ts would grow sour and uncandid,
When he gazed on his end and the U.S. there branded.

“O! Abe, why did [you] allow the contractor
To disfigure me thus like a base malfactor?
You nail me for life – I don’t see it; t’ain’t fair –
The compact was ‘three years, or during the war’.
You’ve ‘throwed’ on me; Abe, I’m gone up the spout;
I get nay furlough, and bounty’s played out,
Promotions uncertain - I work for no pay;
Ain’t this patriotic? Pray tell me I bray!”

But now all his sighs and complainings are over,
And the lash of the driver shall goad him no more.
For he’s ‘passed in his checks’; has finished his work.
Has pulled his last load of shingles and pork.
There are none who will miss his elongated face;
Another is ready to pull in his place,
And the train will move on, and the soldiers be fed,
And no tears for the Government mule that is dead!


Ah! My bold sojer boy, tho’ thy hard bread is tough,
Thy ‘sow-belly’ worse and shoulder-straps rough,
Take this sweet consolation, and don’t feel so cruel –
For tho’ both are high-privates, you out-rank the mule.

3rd Iowa Inf.

February reviewed [18]62 (The month of February is at a close, and what has been done in this last month of winter?). The war has been prosecuted with more vigor and more has been done for the cause of the Union in the past month than any three months prior to this, since the war began.