Three Groans – Journal Two Begins
February 8th, 1862
Huntsville, Randolph Co., Missouri
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 Rail Road 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.
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. 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 of Montgomery City. We took cars at 3 o’clock in the evening, 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 is 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 is 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 hallow log February 10th, 1862.
News of Other Battles
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, [Major General Sterling] Price retreated, leaving General Curtis in possession of Springfield with the stars and stripes floating from the court house for the first time since the Rebs.
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 exception of two.
The enemy is in a perilous condition; they are being struck on every side, with a complete success to our army in every instance. Hurrah 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 Pillow, Buckner and Johnson, 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 the lines, but left quantities blank.] Great joy among the troops today, the army of rebellion is broken. [CS Brig. Gen. 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.
February reviewed, ’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.
[Brig. General Ambrose E.] Burnside’s Expedition sailed and attacked the enemy at Roanoke with success to our arms, capturing 3,000 prisoners and army equipment of great value. Forts Henry and Donelson were captured by the forces under gallant Brig. Gen. Grant and Flag Officer 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 Generals 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, Gen. Floyd and 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 traitorous souls.
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 Curtis [Samuel R., one of several General Curtises] 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 is Brig. General Price, son of Sterling Price, Major General, commanding Missouri State. 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, [Brig. Gen. S.D.] Sturgis on the W.M.R.R. [West Missouri Railroad] and four companies there at Huntsville under command of Capt. A. L. Ogg, captain of Company G. &c &c.