Monday, January 28, 2013

Tennessee Narrative, May 1862


Took Up a Line of March, May 1862
Our stay here was of short duration. We had scarcely got our camp cleaned up, when we were again ordered to advance with four days’ rations in haversack. So according to order, we struck tents at 7 o’clock A.M. Sabbath morning, and soon after took up a line of march in the direction of Corinth. We had proceeded but a short distance when it commenced raining, continuing to rain all day, causing the roads to be almost impassable.

We waded along through rain, mud and water until near night, stopping every few rods, waiting for the wagon train belonging to the division in front, as they were continually swamping and sticking in the mire along the road. Finding that we were not going to get through that day if we waited on the train, so we passed them, plunging through the mud like so many oxen.

Passing by Monterey, a little insignificant Hamlet situated on the top of a high ridge, from which you have a grand view of the surrounding country, which view represents the surrounding county as far as the eye can see as being covered with one dense forest of timber almost destitute of inhabitants and equally as destitute of civilization. General Davis’s division was in camp at this place.

After marching two miles in a southwest direction beyond Monterey, we came to a halt about dark in a heavy body of timber. We were informed that this would be our camping ground. While here, we were without tents or anything to keep the rain off, which continued to fall all night long upon us without mercy.

However, we cut some brush and spread our blankets down upon them, laid our weary limbs down to while away the night in sweet sleep and pleasant dreams, awoke in morning found ourselves half buried in water. Slept sound; dreamt of going into Corinth with a flag of truce. After getting informed I had no flag, [I] was in a pretty fix; got back safe. And lo and behold, it was a dream, and the rain ceased not for many days.
Skirmishing Continued During the Night
Our baggage trains and artillery did not get to camp till the evening, and it was with much difficulty that it got along at that time.

We remained here two days, and then changed position to the south one mile distant, our line being in rear of an old plantation. We remained here one day, and again advancing two miles, driving in the enemy’s pickets as we advanced, and occupying their ground. This was rather an impudent trick, but Ma Secessia had to fall back, and let northern federals come in.

The next day Saturday the 10th, the pickets had quite a skirmish with those of the enemy. We were called in line of battle, but as the enemy made no further demonstrations, we returned to our company streets, stacked arms, remained with accouterments on during the day, so as to be ready for any emergency. In the evening, we commenced in cutting away the timber in front of our lines and throwing up breast-works.

Sabbath, May the 12th, 62, skirmishing continued during the night. This morning everything appears to be quiet along the lines; we continue to work upon the works and clear them [timber] away for artillery. As the timber is heavy, much work is done.

Monday, May the 13th, 62, last night, [Gen. William Tecumseh] Sherman’s pickets attacked those of Major General John A. McClernand, taking them for the enemy. The firing was brisk, but not much damage done to either party; at day break the mistake was discovered.

Today the glorious news of the destruction of the Merrimack, the rebel war steamer, the capture of Yorktown, the surrender of the Gosport Navy Yard and the brilliant success of our navy on the water. We gave three hearty cheers for the officers and men engaged for their gallant conduct.

Tuesday 13th, pickets continue to skirmish; we continue to build breastworks. The weather is very warm.

Wednesday May the 14th, 1862, we advanced two miles, drove in the enemy picket occupied their ground, commenced immediately to build breastworks and to cut away the timber in front of our lines, which we completed late at night.

A Letter Home
Camp in field, near Corinth
Army of the Tennessee
State of Mississippi

May 15th, 1862

Dear Lydia,

Seeing I have not written anything of importance to you for some [time], I propose this very warm afternoon to write you a few lines, whereby you may know that I am yet above ground. But how long to remain, I cannot tell as the approaching storm is very near at hand.

And, I would just say at the onset that ere [before] I have written this page, we may be called into line of battle. We have been advancing on Corinth from Pittsburg Landing for the last two weeks, advancing at first from three to 5 miles at one time, and the farther we advance, the shorter would be the distance of advancement.

For the last three or four times, we would advance, but one or two miles at one time, stopping one or two days after each advancement for the purpose of building breastworks and cutting away the timber in front of our fire lines for the distance of three hundred paces. (for this part of the country) The timber is very heavy and much work is required to make our works formidable, in case that necessity should compel us to retreat, we would have something to fall back on, and thus prevent disaster.

We are now in the state of Mississippi, five miles from Corinth, in very close proximity with the enemy. And while I am writing, the pickets, only one half mile distant, are fighting with those of the enemy’s [sic]. But this is nothing new to me, for this has been going on for the past week. But the closer we get, the sharper are the engagements.

The enemy’s pickets are constantly in sight of our line, and as we advance, they very reluctantly fall back before unflinching Patriots. In advancing so often, makes a great deal of labor. We have to work the greater part of each night, as it is too warm for any successful operations during the heat of the day. And in addition to this, we are required to rise at 3 o’clock each morning and form in line of battle, and remain in this position until after day light. Then we return to our company streets, stack arms and hold ourselves in readiness for an engagement with the enemy at any moment.

We took the position that we occupy at present, yesterday at 4 P.M. The engagements by the pickets were warm, the enemy presenting a heavy line. Not much damage was done to either party as they kept at reasonable distance from each other. At 6 o’clock, a battery in Gen. Sherman’s division threw a few shells into the woods for the purpose of routing them.

Our position here is pretty good; we worked hard yesterday evening and last night in making defenses. We have very good breastworks thrown up with the timber cut down 300 paces in front, so as to give us good musket range in case they felt like trying a pull in the way of shooting a little.

Gen. Hurlbut came around last night where we were at work; he appeared to be very much surprised at the amount of labor we had performed in so short a time. Since the battle at Pittsburg Landing, we think much more of Gen. Hurlbut than we used to do. He also has a great deal of confidence in the Iowa 3rd, and says that they will do to lie to [sic] in a fight. But you must not think that I like to puff the 3rd Iowa because I am a member of that fighting body of Iowa nerves.

The pickets are piching [sic] in pretty strong just now. They must not shoot over this way for I am writing under a shade tree, and it would be a pity that I should be disturbed. What you think Lydia?

I have just been called on to go to the Landing with a train for provisions. I will finish when I return.

WC Newlon

A Desolate Appearance
As we are at work, the pickets are keeping up a continual roar of musketry, the enemy not willing to give away to our advancing guard. At 5 P.M., we threw a number of shells into the woods for the purpose of shelling and driving them from the woods, which had its desired effect. The canister and shell they could not stand; they did not trouble our lines quite as much during the night.

Thursday May the 15th, 62, things remained quiet along our lines during last night, but this morning the same routine continues as heretofore. The pickets continue to fight as though it was fun, although each day many are killed and wounded. At 3 o’clock P.M. our train starts to Pittsburg Landing for provisions; I go with them. We arrived to the Landing at 12 o’clock that night.

Friday May the 16th, 62, we proceeded this morning as soon as day to get our teams loaded, but owing to the great number of trains after provisions and forage for the army near Corinth, we could not get to the boat till about 10 o’clock A.M. Many steamers are here with provisions for the army. At the lower landing there is a great quantity of disabled artillery taken at the Pittsburg [Landing] Battle.

The distance to the Landing from our camp is 22 miles, and the county between the two has a desolate appearance. At one time covered with tents and swarming with busy soldiers, but now vacated; the ground covered with barrels, boxes, cooking utensils and every imaginable thing. The weather is warm and the roads very dusty.

We reached camp at midnight, tired and weary, with five days’ rations for our regiment. What times are these, what tuff times soldiers do have in this war. Soon may it end.

Camp near Corinth, Miss
Co. G, 3rd Iowa Inf.

Saturday, May the 17th, 1862

Camp near Corinth Mississippi

Our company came in from picket this morning; they did a good deal of skirmishing, but lost no men, although the enemy made himself very conspicuous in their presence.

Good Morning, Lydia!

Saturday, May 17th, 1862

Good Morning, Lydia!

I have got back into the wild of Mississippi again and you. But, I feel pretty tuff this morning, for I have not slept any for two nights. The distance to the Landing is 22 miles and owing to the emergency of the case, we were compelled to travel at night to make the connection. The [___] gone into the interior. The whole county presents a desolate field, covered with barrels, boxes, cooking utensils, blankets, broken wagons, disabled artillery; here and there a hospital tent &e, every imaginable thing giving our old camping ground a most desolate appearance. There is one continual train of teams going to and from the Landing, often after provisions for the armies in Tennessee.

The grand army of Tennessee is divided into three armies, [___], right wing called the Army of the Tennessee, left wing commanded by General Pope, called the Army of the Mississippi, center, commanded by General Buell, called the Army of the Ohio. All are commanded by General Halleck, General Grant’s second in command. General Sigle has command of the artillery. We are in the right wing, commanded by General Thomas. General Hurlbut commanding our division.

We have not moved in the advance for four days, we are as close to the enemy as we can get without bringing on a general engagement. Our company just came in from picket duty, being out 24 hours. As I was gone [to Pittsburg Landing], I did not go out. They were in sight of the enemy all the time. They done a good deal of skirmishing, we had four men wounded slightly (not our company). The work is progressing, firing continues to increase, often heavy volleys of musketry salutes our ears, and for a change in program, we have booming of artillery, although the enemy, has not as yet replied to our guns.

I think the ball will open in a few hours unless something is done to the contrary. How I long for the result. If we have to fight them, I say let us commence now. I am anxious for the engagement (not that I love fighting) but that we may have it over. Many think that Corinth is being evacuated. I think not, I believe that they are being reinforced by the forces, which had possession of Orleans. I believe the enemy to be bringing in every available force to their assistance. Yet I firmly believe that we will be successful, and expect ere you read this, to march into the city of Corinth under the stars and stripes, stepping to the time of Yankee Doodle. Oh! What a glorious time that will be. God grant that that glorious time come ere another sun is set. Everything is going on to my notion. The enemy is being compelled to abandon every stronghold where our armies were brought to bear upon them. When out on picket, we can distinctly hear the music in both armies - the one playing Star Spangled Banner, &e, the other Dixie, &e. A different tune from either will be played very shortly. All civilians, news reporters &e, who have not a pass from the Secretary of War, are excluded from our lines. This I think a good thing; no man should be permitted to enter the line on the eve of a battle.

How hot it is! And it is only May! What will it be in mid-summer? Hope I will be out of Dixie before that time comes. I suppose Ruby has something to say about me in every letter he writes to his Dear Sophy. What a pity he has no more to write. Well, they are excusable, for children are always at something. Blakely is with us and has good health, and wonders if people on North River are all well. Great Blakely!

Well, if you can read and make good sense of what I have written today, I must acknowledge you a better scholar than the author. &e &

WC Newlon

Friday, January 25, 2013

Lincoln's Legasy

"A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved--I do not expect the house to fall--but I do expect it to cease to be divided.

It will become one thing, or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward till it shall become alike lawful in all States, old as well as new, North as well as South."

                                                                               To the Republican State Convention
                                                               in Springfield, Illinois, June 16, 1858

Thursday, January 3, 2013

After The Shiloh Battle

Follow Sergeant Will Newlon on Twitter: @SgtNewlon. And now, from the War Journal of Sgt. William Newlon we continue...

After the Engagement


Colonel Williams, acting-brigadier general, was disabled early in the morning of the first day, by a cannon ball cutting his horse in two under the saddle. Major Stone, who had command of the 3rd Regiment, Iowa Infantry, was taken prisoner in the afternoon of the same day. Captain A. L. Ogg was wounded in both hands. His first lieutenant, P[hilo] G.C. Merrill, was wounded and taken prisoner. Quite a number of company officers belonging to our regiment were killed and wounded.

The loss in our regiment in killed, wounded and missing is 206, and that of our company is two killed, 15 wounded, and 13 missing. The whole amounting to 30 men out of our company, which makes it at present comparatively small indeed.

WC Newlon
One of my messmates, S.F. Anderson, was killed during the engagement near our camp. He was a fine young man and a good soldier. I do not know that he missed one day’s duty during his time of service. I miss him as a messmate and as a friend.

Also O. M. Nicholas, who was seriously wounded on Sabbath evening of the engagement, had his left arm broken with a ball and one through the left side of his breast, but since has had his arm amputated, his wounds are serious and I have fears of his recovery. God’s great care may restore health.

But the one I miss the most of all is my friend and messmate B.F. Murray, who, I presume, is a prisoner with the enemy as he is among the missing. He had been very unwell for some time prior to the battle and was far from being well when he went on the field of action. But he, being one of those who knew his services were needed, but went out to battle more from a sense of duty than anything else. I do trust he may be treated well and live to return to his friends who mourn his misfortunes.

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.

May I be so fortunate as to pass through this war with no more harm done to my person than was done through this terrible battle, I owe thanks to my Creator for the preservation of life thus far through this great and bloody war, and humbly desire that same omnipotent hand may be a shield through dangers to come until the end of the war, and grant God that that time may speedily come. But I am wandering from my subject.

As evening came our forces fell back toward the river. The enemy advancing a short distance &c &c.

General Buell's Forces

As night approached, the firing ceased except the gunboats, one of which threw a shell every 15 minutes till morning into the enemy’s camp. Both armies lay upon their arms on the field during the night, notwithstanding the torrents of rain, which fell. The enemy however fell back one mile further from our lines.

General Buell's forces, part of which had arrived on the opposite side of the River from Pittsburg Landing, crossed during the night to our assistance greatly relieving us as they took the advance.

Early on Monday morning, the battle commenced at different points along the line. Our forces making the attack, one division of General Buell's divisions succeeded in flanking the enemy on our right, driving him from his position toward the center; this occurred at 10 o’clock A.M. The battle raged with fury. The firing appeared not to cease, but a continual roar louder than thunder was heard without cessation. Great bravery and gallantry was exhibited by both officers and men.

The battle continued raging with great destruction until 3 o’clock P.M., when the enemy appeared to waiver under the heavy fire of musketry and artillery from our line. They fought with the desperations of devils and as though it was their last and only hope.

Again they rallied and made a terrible dash upon our lines with a determination to break them, but our lines were not to be broken and failing in this, they began to fall back. Soon they began to retreat followed by our men firing shot and shell among them with great destruction. The retreat became general and the further the faster, hotly pursued by our cavalry until the lateness of the evening made the pursuit further impossible.

No sooner had the news of the retreat reached the landing (Where troops were still landing), than a shout of joy was making the hills echo with their voices. The cavalry at the landing started in pursuit of the fleeing enemy.

The battleground covered an area of six miles and this was covered with the killed and wounded of both armies. In some places the ground was literally covered with the dead and wounded of the enemy. The loss of the enemy I presume was 25,000 that of ours were perhaps 18,000 in killed, wounded and missing.

WC Newlon

After recording a few items connected with one of the bloodiest battles ever fought in America, I will return to the position of our army after the battle. The first week after the engagement was spent in bringing in the wounded on both sides and in burying the dead men and horses. Many of the wounded remained on the field 48 hours after they fell; numbers dying before they could get relief. All the teams and ambulances were busily engaged bringing in the wounded to the river, where their wounds were dressed and all that were in condition were sent aboard the boats for northern cities.

The amputation of limbs and the extractions of balls was the work of days. The cold, rainy weather, which commenced the evening of the 6th and continued for some time, proved to be a great benefit to our wounded, also in preserving the bodies of the dead and in washing the blood from the ground, also in purifying the air from the stench arising from the slaughter of man and beast. All returned to their former camps, some few however, had been burnt by the enemy and others’ minds torn and shattered by shot and shell.

After spending a week or more in cleaning up, things began to assume their former appearance. We remained here but a short time, the whole line advancing about 3 miles, threw our camp in an open field. At the time of our removal I was very sick and was hauled in a wagon to the ground and consequently knew but little about things for a day or two. We remained here five days, when we again struck tents and advanced 4 miles in a southwest direction, halting and pitching tents in a beautiful piece of timbered land. This threw us in front, and the consequence was that we had to stand picket guard.

In marching to our campground we passed over the campground of the enemy prior to and at the time of the battle. Everything indicated great destruction of property and a hasty and unexpected retreat. The burning of tents, camp equipage, commissary stores, ammunition, &c &c appeared to be a general thing. Artillery wagons had their spokes cut in two to keep them from being of use to us, not knowing that we had as much as we wanted.

WC Newlon, Esq