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Title: Recollections with the Third Iowa Regiment

Author: Seymour D. Thompson

Release date: December 27, 2014 [eBook #47795]

Language: English

Credits: E-text prepared by JoAnn Greenwood and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team ( from page images generously made available by Internet Archive (



E-text prepared by JoAnn Greenwood
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
from page images generously made available by
Internet Archive


Note: Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive. See










Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year eighteen hundred and sixty-four, by


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the U. S. for the Southern District of Ohio.



At the solicitation of some of my comrades, the pages of this book were for the most part compiled from a diary which I kept during most of the two years I served with them, and which was written amid the scenes it attempts to describe. To furnish them a faithful account of the principal scenes through which they passed during this period, including sketches of the operations in which they were engaged, and of which our Regiment formed a part; a record of what they saw, and did, and suffered, such as I thought they would like to read in future days, has been my object in presenting it in this shape. As it was written for my comrades, to them I dedicate it; and in giving it to the public, I have only to say that if it suits them, it suits me. With regard to facts which have since become history, to which I have had occasion to refer, I may have committed some errors and inaccuracies; my book was not written in the library of the historian, but in the tent of the soldier, and with few exceptions without other information than such as observation and report could supply. In speaking of prominent officers under whom we served, I have not forgotten that some of them are still my superior officers, and that it in nowise comports with my duties as a soldier to assume to be their historian or critic. But the time has come when the conduct of those who have passed into civil life may be criticized[iv] by those who were their inferiors in the military service. Of such I have endeavored to speak honestly but plainly, remembering that they dealt plainly with us.

I am under obligations to Col. Scott, 32d Iowa, Lieut. Chas. P. Brown, A. A. Q. M., Fort Pickering, W. B. Lakin, Esq., College Hill, Ohio, for valuable favors and assistance. I trust that time will afford me opportunities of paying them in a better manner than by this public acknowledgment.

And now I give these pages to the public, with the single regret that the deeds of men who have so many titles to honor and gratitude could not have been better recorded and by a more worthy hand.

Fort Pickering, Memphis, Tenn., March, 1864.



The "uprising" in Iowa—Patriotism of the people—The Third Regiment—Its character and composition—Spirit and ideas of its members—Our colonel—Our visit to Camp Ellsworth and the First Iowa—The Second and First Iowa advance into Missouri—Our quarters—Our ideas of our treatment—Poor fare, and what some of us "did about it"—Our duties—Complaints about pay—Our arms—We go into camp—Our first camp experience—We chafe exceedingly under the yoke of discipline—Marching orders 13
We break up camp at Keokuk—The parting occasion—The last lingering look—A pleasant steamboat ride—Two nights and a day at Hannibal—We advance by rail into the interior of Missouri—Dangers attending the movement—We halt at Chillicothe, Grand River bridge and Utica—Leaving the cars and camping for the night—Condition of the country—Our first night alarm—How we celebrated the Fourth of July—Our uniform—Our rations—Our discipline—Colonel Williams arrives and assumes command—Colonel Smith visits and consults with him—Another false alarm 29
Operations of the rebel general Harris—Three companies of our regiment detailed to join an expedition against him—We are allowed ten minutes for preparation—We join a portion of the Sixteenth Illinois at Palmyra, and with them return to Monroe—The movement delayed by a storm—Consultation of officers—The column moves—Skirmish of Hager's Woods—We delay and finally camp for the night—And in the morning begin to retreat—Our train burned and the enemy in our rear—A threatened skirmish—He cuts off our communications and surrounds in large force—Cool conduct of Colonel [vi]Smith—We begin to fortify—A night of expectation—Details of our situation—The enemy opens with artillery—And begins to draw in his lines—We lie in our trenches and reserve our fire—Aid in the right time—The enemy quits the field in panic—An accident—Col. Williams arrives with a portion of the Third Iowa 43
We prepare to march from Monroe—Arrival of Governor Wood with cavalry and artillery; and of the Fourteenth Illinois—How Mr. Dugan speaks of this in his book—A change of counsels—The Third Iowa moves west on a train—Circumstances of the ride—Failure of an attempt to burn the Chariton River bridge—A few details—How young soldiers originate false alarms—Our camp at Chillicothe—General Hurlbut assumes command of the troops on the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad—We draw our accoutrements at last—We leave Chillicothe and go into camp at Brookfield 61
Activity of the rebels—Colonel Martin Green—We are ordered against him—Details and incidents of the march from Mason City to Kirksville—Character of the Home Guards—Condition of the country—Our situation at Kirksville—Details of our occupation of that place—Arrival of reinforcements under Gen. Hurlbut—Our complaints and expectations 73
Lieut. Call reconnoiters and reports the enemy's position—Colonel Scott desires to attack him with the Third Iowa, the Home Guards and the artillery—Gen. Hurlbut declines his consent—Dangers of such a movement—Disappointment of the men—The General reviews the troops—And issues a proclamation—He sends it by a flag of truce to Green's camp—Green don't see the point, but takes the hint and gets ready to leave—The General issues an order against plundering—Further details of our condition—A detachment goes to Lancaster after supplies—Escape and pursuit of Green—Details of the march—Suffering, straggling and plundering—Night at Wilsonsville—night at Bear Creek—Scouts from Moore—Junction with Moore at Bethel—Appearance of the place—Character and hospitality of the inhabitants—Change of plans—Moore and Smith pursue the enemy—Hurlbut and Scott move directly toward the railroad—Noon at Shelbyville—Another [vii]proclamation—A man straggles ahead of the column and is shot by the bushwhackers—Night at Shelbina—The situation—We proceed to Brookfield 89
The expedition to Paris—The forces engaged in it—Details of the movement to that place—Conduct of Colonel Williams and Lieut. Col. Blair while there—They return speedily to Shelbina—Green pursues and confronts them with a large force—Details of the affair at Shelbina—Colonel Williams retreats to Hudson where he meets General Hurlbut with reinforcements—The propriety of the retreat discussed—The account of the Rebellion Record 104
We break up camp at Brookfield and proceed toward Shelbina—Junction with Smith and Moore—Gen. Pope assumes command—Hurlbut and Williams proceed to St. Louis in arrest—Pope leads a night march against Green at Florida—Feelings of the troops—Circumstances of that affair—Report of General Fremont concerning it—We return to the railroad and proceed to Macon—Arrival of Generals Pope and Sturgis at that point—Prospect of active movements 112
Col. Smith with his own regiment and five companies of the Thirty-ninth Ohio, proceed to Platte River bridge and commence repairing it—Col. Scott is ordered to co-operate with him against the rebels in that vicinity—We proceed to Cameron by railroad, impress transportation and march toward Liberty—The first night—Second day's march—Second night at Centerville—Cannonading in the distance—Our feelings—Lieut. Call reconnoiters as far as Liberty—We move at 3 A. M.—At sunrise drive back the enemy's pickets and camp at Liberty—No tidings from Smith—Cannonading in the direction of Independence and probabilities of an engagement across the river—Col. Scott resolves to attack—Battle of Blue Mills Landing 120
Arrival of Smith—His march from the railroad—Why he arrived too late—Our feelings on his arrival—The situation the morning after the battle—What should have been done—Smith starts for St. Joseph—Burying the dead and caring for the wounded—Scott's official report—Comments on the same—Gallantry [viii]of Scott and Lakin—Official report of the enemy—Estimate of his force—Account in the Missouri Republican—Account in Pollard's "First Year of the War"—The necessity and merits of the battle 135
We start for the railroad—Arrival at Centerville—Arrival of a courier from Sturgis—March to Plattsburg—Orders from Sturgis—Turn toward Kansas City—Night at Smithville—March resumed toward Liberty—Sturgis retreats three days from an enemy who does not pursue—We think his pursuers turn against us, and turn to the west to elude them—Strike the Missouri at Parkville and prepare to cross on a flatboat—A steamboat arrives and conveys us to Leavenworth—We return next day to Wyandotte—Our stay at Wyandotte—Move to Kansas City—Arrival of Lane's Brigade—Comparison between Lane and Sturgis—They quarrel about precedence in rank—Lane moves out of town—Hospitality of the citizens 152
The troops leave Kansas City—We are not in a condition to march South—Rumored removal of the regiment to Quincy—Proceed by steamboat and railroad to Quincy—Our arrival and situation there—We are paid and prepare to leave—The citizens give a ball in our honor—Incidents of that night—We proceed to Benton Barracks—Col. Williams, his release, conduct, and re-arrest—Changes—Our sanitary condition—We are ordered to the North Missouri Railroad—Disgraceful conduct of certain captains 165
Preparations—We move North by railroad—Details of the ride—March from the railroad—Night on the frozen ground—Feelings and conduct of the soldiers toward the citizens—Night at Martinsburg—March to Mexico—Character of the citizens—Bad conduct of certain of the men—What the Major did about it—His speech—Its effect—An excess of quinine and lack of bread—Return march to Martinsburg—The New Year—March to Wellsville—Sickness—Conduct and character of Surgeon Edwards—Foraging and plundering—Movement of troops to the front—Anxiety to go with them—Fort Donelson—Discontent at being left in the rear—Trial and release of Col. Williams—He assumes command and [ix]begins reforms—Marching orders 175
Leave Mexico for St Louis—Conduct of some of the men and officers—Journey from St. Louis to Savannah, Tenn.—Scenes on the passage—Captain Albert Hobbs—Loyalty of the people on the Tennessee river—Move to Pittsburg Landing—The situation—Criticism, &c. 189
The enemy's reconnoissance April 4th—The alarm 5th April—The Battle of Shiloh—The soldier's impression of a battle—Stragglers and their shameful conduct—The different movements and positions of our division and brigade in the battle—Appearance of General Grant—Gallant charge and repulse of a rebel brigade 206
The enemy massing against the left—Our successful stand—Retreat and our successive positions therein—We form the left of Prentiss—His gallant conduct and capture—Capture of Major Stone—He and Prentiss vindicated—Scene on the bluff—Night and Buell—The cannonade—The night 221
The battle on Monday—Defeat of the enemy's right wing—Firmness of the left—Gallant conduct of Gen. Hurlbut—Col. Johnson in command of a part of our divided brigade—Victory—Flight of the enemy and failure to pursue 233
A survey of the field—Plundering the dead—Civilians and relic-seekers—Congratulatory orders—Camp on a field of graves 243
Preparations to advance on Corinth—Morale of army and sanitary condition—Advance to Shiloh Springs—Inspection by General J——Advance to Pea Ridge—Gov. Yates—Picket skirmishing—Battle of Russellville House—Arrival of Col. Scott—A night on picket in face of the enemy—The evacuation [x]and occupation of Corinth 257
Resume of the movements of our regiment—Sherman's movements towards Memphis—Camp on the Heights of Hatchie—Camp on Spring Creek and Wolf River—Colonel Williams again—Incidents of the march from LaGrange, Tenn., to Holly Springs, Mississippi—Return—Resignation of Lieut. Col. Scott—Arrival in Memphis—Gen. Sherman as a military man—Marching orders 278
Lieut. Col. Trumbull—Leave Memphis—Night on Wolf River—House burning—Reach and bridge the Hatchie—Hardships and murmurs—March toward Bolivar—Arrival at Bolivar—A reconnoissance towards Grand Junction—Attempt of the enemy to get in our rear—Return to Bolivar—Reinforcements 291
A day's march toward Corinth—Arrival of Gen. Ord—Situation and movements of the enemy—Battle of Matamora—Carrying the bridge of the Hatchie—Disastrous situation—Reserves ordered into action—Hurlbut saves the day—Carrying the Heights—Retreat of the enemy—Bivouac on the field—Reconnoissance, details, etc.—Return to Bolivar—Fruits of the victory—Losses 303
Col. Trumbull's official report—General Hurlbut's parting review—His parting orders—How they were received—Congratulatory orders of Gen. Grant—Telegram from the President 317
Reorganization and changes—Reconnoissance by General Ross—Disposition of the Hatchie prisoners—The State election in our regiment—Effects of the news of the northern elections upon the troops—Wild reports of the enemy's advance—Fortifying—Preparations for a general advance—Arrival of Gen. Grant—Grand review—Arrival of new regiments—General marching orders—First day's march—Condition of the troops—Our camp at LaGrange—Position of the enemy—Arrival of Col. Williams—Resignation of Lieut. Col. Trumbull—The Somerville march—Reviews and marching [xi]orders 329
The army in motion to the South—Character and scenes of the first days march—Bivouac at Holly Springs—An earthquake—The cavalry division and the enemy's rear guard—Cannonading—Camp Lumkin's Mills—A storm—Movement of Sherman, retreat of the enemy and advance of troops—Our division left behind—We advance—Rebel works on the Tallahatchie—Scenes and scenery of the march—Oxford—Join the army at Yockona Creek—The Thirty-third Wisconsin—The situation and movements—Raid of Van Dorn—Movements to open the communications 345
Retreat of the army—Commendable spirit of the troops—March to the Tallahatchie—Ridiculous rumors—Christmas—We We go into camp—Return of Dickey's raid—Our condition as to supplies—The New Year—March to Holly Springs—We go into camp—March of Denver's division—Our situation—Burning of Holly Springs—March again to the north—Bivouac at Cold Water—Reviewing and speculating over the campaign—Arrival at Moscow 358
Reorganization of Grant's army—How our division was posted—Descent of guerrillas upon our forage train—We march to Memphis and go into camp—A glance at the officers of our regiment—Gen. Lauman's regimental drills—Review of the Fourth division—Col. Bryant's movement against Chalmers—Our division ordered to Vicksburg—Parting with my comrades—Their journey down the river and affair with the guerrillas near Greenville—Arrival at Young's Point—Their view of Porter and Steele engaging the enemy—Proceed up the Yazoo and occupy Haines' Bluff—The captures—Blowing up the magazines—The 22d of May—They move to take position in the investing lines—Their position and operations south of the city—Their subsequent position and operations 373
Surrender of Vicksburg—Our division moves with Sherman against Johnson—March to Jackson—The place besieged—Disastrous charge of Colonel Pugh's Brigade—The blame imputed to Gen. Lauman—He is relieved of command—His parting orders—The feeling in regard to him—Our losses—Subsequent movements of the Third Iowa—Conclusion 386





The "uprising" in Iowa—Patriotism of the people—The Third Regiment, its character and composition—Spirit and ideas of its members—Our Colonel—Our visit to Camp Ellsworth, and the First Iowa—The Second and First Iowa advance into Missouri—Our quarters—Our ideas of our treatment—Poor fare, and what some of us "did about it"—Our duties—Complaints about pay—Our arms—We go into camp—Our first experience—We chafe exceedingly under the yoke of discipline—Marching orders.

When at the commencement of the war the loyal States vied with each other in offers of men and money to the Government, Iowa, in proportion to her population and resources, was not behind any of her sisters. The First Regiment of Infantry, the quota of the State under the call for three months men, was promptly formed, and sent to the designated rendezvous. But the people wanted to do more than this. Companies were formed in all parts of the State. Thousands of names were enrolled. It was not the question who should be permitted to stay at home, but who should have the privilege of going. The eagerness with which[14] the claims to acceptance of so many different companies were pressed upon the Governor, must have been a source of great embarrassment to him.

The interval between the first and second call for troops was to many who had tendered their services, unsuccessfully, a period of unpleasant and unprofitable suspense; for it was a matter of uncertainty to all, whether the services of any more troops would be required. And who could tell? The rebellion was so entirely without a precedent in our history, that the most far-seeing could not say whether it was a short-lived insurrection that could be frightened to death by military preparation, or a movement strong in its organization and formidable in its proportions.

But this period was, nevertheless, one of preparation. Men were settling their affairs, and preparing for the contingency which might call them from their homes. At length, a call was made for an additional number of troops to serve for three years, unless sooner discharged. This altered the plans of many who thought to enlist merely for honor and a little adventure. The prospect was now that they would have decidedly too much of both. Nevertheless, the supply of men greatly exceeded the demand. None who had enlisted with worthy motives were disposed to shrink from the prospect.

Under this call the Second Regiment was organized; and the unsuccessful candidates still waited in hope and doubt. Finally, in the last days of May, the companies which were to compose the Third Regiment received orders, to their great joy, to repair to the[15] designated rendezvous, and by the close of the first week in June, they were assembled in Keokuk.

Though comrades now, its members were, for the most part, strangers to each other. It belonged to no section, but rather to the State at large. The northern, central and southern portions were represented. In point of material it was a mixture of such elements as a border State would be likely to furnish. There were among us men of almost every State in the Union, and of almost every civilized country. Nearly all, however, were Western men either by birth or long residence, and were (is it boasting to say it?) tempered with that hardy, resolute spirit which is characteristic of Western men, especially of those who dwell on the frontier. The greater portion were from the rural districts, and trained to active, out-door pursuits. Those who were from the towns were for the most part river men. If there were among us any of "the drooping city's pale abortions," they soon learned to imitate the rough virtues of their comrades.

In point of ideas, there was as great a difference as of birth or nationality. It is claiming nothing to say that money had not entered into the calculations of those who first tendered their services to their country. The one great thought was the preservation of the Union. But such was the constitution of our ideas, that we saw in the accomplishment of this object ulterior results widely different. Each loved the Union for what it was to him. To the Irishman, it was an asylum where he could enjoy that civil liberty, and exemption from the oppression of an established church, which had[16] been denied him at home. He proposed to fight now for the preservation of that liberty. He saw in the destruction of the Union an invitation to the ambitious monarchs of Europe to fetter us with such chains as bound his own unhappy country. This was why he had enlisted.

To the Englishman in our ranks, America was now his country. It was to be the dwelling-place of his children. It promised more than any other to promote the peace and happiness of its people, and the progress of civilization. It was a branch of that great Saxon tree, which, continually spreading, already overshadowed the earth. Should it fall into the whirlpool of Gallic anarchy? Should it degenerate into a contemptible Mexican civilization? God forbid. He was ready to defend it with his blood.

We had among us the poetical, Heaven-ascending German. He proposed to fight for an ideal. That ideal was liberty. It was to him the symbol of progress, the talisman which was to lift man from earth to Heaven. He saw in the rebellion a reactionary movement, a tendency from democracy to aristocracy—from the power of the people to the one man power; a repudiation of the doctrine on which the Republic was founded;—nay, more, an attempt to found a Government on a maxim of absolute injustice, the assumption that one man has the right to own another. Could such a movement succeed? Was progress baffled? Had the age begun to retreat? He proposed to fight, not for the unity of the nation alone, not alone because it was now his country, but for that principle of liberty[17] which he saw, more fully than anywhere else embodied in her institutions,—that democratic principle which is destined one day to be the foundation of all human government.

But the great majority were native Americans, coming, immediately or remotely, from every section of the Union, with various ties and various ideas. They combined all these motives and ideas, and more. To vindicate the national honor; to avenge the insults done the flag; to overthrow all traitors and bring them to swift punishment; to save the nation from disintegration and ruin;—this was why they proposed to fight. Their country was too dear an inheritance to be easily given up. Had the Fathers fought in vain? Had Washington, Madison and Jefferson lived to organize anarchy and confound the world? Had it taken the wisdom and blood of a generation to found and build a temple which treason could tear down in an hour? Was the reason of the ages to be contradicted? Was justice to be overthrown? Was Progress to stop here? Must the Lamp of Liberty which had been lighted to guide the footsteps of the nations go out in the gloom which was gathering around us? Such were the questions we asked ourselves. As far as we could do, our deeds have answered them.

Thus of whatever section, of whatever country, with whatever ideas, we had now joined hands and were comrades,—all moving toward one grand, patriotic holy object, the preservation of our country and of liberty.

And now looking around us, we saw everywhere[18] matter for encouragement. Every omen seemed propitious. Every circumstance argued success. The North was united. There was no party now. At worst, we could but suppose the South likewise united against us. In that case we were twenty millions; they eight millions. We had a navy; they had none. We could blockade their ports, and cut off their supplies from foreign nations. We possessed manufactures, and means of keeping up our material. In this respect they were almost entirely deficient. We possessed a variety of resources which rendered our government self-sustaining in the most adverse events. They depended solely upon cotton, which now they would not be able to sell. And then their servile population, we supposed, instead of being a help, would be a great embarrassment. Besides, were we not engaged in a just cause? and would not, then, this great disparity in our favor enable us speedily to overcome them? With such strength, fortified in right, it seemed impossible that a single reverse could come upon us. Our enthusiasm, as yet untempered by disappointment or disaster, was unbounded. The future seemed full of glorious events, and we longed to be hurried into it. We had but one desire—to be uniformed, equipped and led on.

For a leader we wanted a man, who, while possessing some knowledge of military affairs, should have none of the exclusive spirit we understood to exist among the officers of the regular army. To suit our tastes, he must be at once commander and comrade. Such a colonel we were prepared to respect—to idolize. Who[19] was he to be? It was understood that Captain Herron and Congressman Vandever were candidates. We disliked the Captain, because he had been to a military school, and the Congressman, because he had never been to one; it was evident, we would be hard to suit. But it soon became apparent that, want whom we would, our wishes would not govern the appointment. Governor Kirkwood desired to consult only the wishes of the officers in the matter. There was a man, Nelson G. Williams, of Delaware county, whose claims to the colonelcy of one of the first regiments his friends, through the press and otherwise, had urged with great pertinacity. It was said that he was a military man, and yet a private citizen, and not a politician. Many had spoken in favor of him; no one against him. He was the man. It was determined to call this Cincinnatus from his obscurity. In a caucus of the commissioned officers he received nineteen votes, and, on the strength of this nomination, was appointed.

We were mustered into the service of the United States by Lieut. Alexander Chambers, of the regular army, since colonel of the 16th Iowa. Before this ceremony took place, the Articles of War were read to us, and from them we inferred that it was no easy matter to be a good soldier, and not at all safe to be a poor one. Those who did not wish to be sworn in after hearing them read, were allowed to decline. A few did so; and the farewell salutations these "deserters," as we chose to call them, received from their late comrades were not at all calculated to make them feel joyful or proud. As our field officers were not yet announced,[20] Captain Herron, as senior officer, assumed command of the regiment. He was in every respect a gentleman; but his discipline, though wholesome and correct, was such as our democratic ideas enabled us poorly to appreciate.

On the 10th of June, we, for the first time, saw ourselves as a regiment. The regiment was formed in the proper order of the companies, and marched in column of sections, through the principal streets of the city. We had no arms; and every company had its own style of uniform. Nevertheless, as we marched along, we caught, from the admiring glances of the citizens, an idea of our importance, and that such a sight as we presented was not to be seen every day, and that we were destined to play no unimportant part in the war for the Union.

On the 11th of June the people of Keokuk celebrated the obsequies of Senator Douglas. Of course the "military" had to take part in it. The three regiments were assembled, and following each other in their appropriate order, marched in column of platoons, to slow time, through the principal streets, and then through clouds of dust, and under a melting sun, away up the Mississippi to a point somewhere between Keokuk and Fort Madison. Here for the first time we got sight of a hearse, magnificently trimmed in black, into which a number of verdants were seen to peek, doubtless in expectation of getting a sight of Douglas. We were allowed to break ranks which was a great relief to us, as we expected to be compelled to stand in our places and undergo the infliction of an oration. The whole[21] being over, the battalions were again formed and marched back to their quarters to quick time. The citizens, who rode in carriages, or walked on the green sward, pronounced this military display a grand affair; but the soldiers who had been compelled to keep the dusty road, going and coming, pronounced it an intolerable bore. Some went so far as to express the profane wish that the great senator had never been born.

At this time, the First Iowa was in camp near the city. The name of their camp was Ellsworth. Their mode of life was a great novelty to us, and the fact that such was soon to be ours, gave it an additional interest. Those sentinels, marching to and fro, so stern, so mute, lent to their little city an inhospitable air, which we were not at all pleased to see. All within ten feet of their beat was forbidden ground. Why could we not trespass upon it? At least we thought there could be no harm in allowing their own men to pass out and in when they pleased. The sentinel could not explain this. He wanted to see the boys have all the privileges they wished, but he must obey his orders. Then, with a shake of the head, he would hint that it was contrary to orders for a sentinel to talk on his beat, and pass on. What did all this signify? Their officers were "putting on style," we said, and the men were learning to be soldiers pretty easily. Well, we could not blame the boys. It was their duty to obey their orders, at all events.

Then there was the gate where stood Sentinel No. 1. Through this, all who went in or out were compelled to pass. And there stood the officer of the guard. How magnificently attired! If men's merits were to be judged[22] by their appearance, we would have supposed him a hero of twenty battles. That Zouave cap, with the gold lace and bugle on it; that scarlet sash; those monstrous epaulettes;—how they dazzled! And then the neat fitting coat and pants. And what a full chest he had! "He must be a long-winded fellow," said we. And that we thought would help him if he should have any running to do, which was among the possibilities of war. And couldn't he swim though. Well, if such a bellows would not float a man, what would? A regiment of such fellows would float a bridge across the Mississippi. Perhaps the coat had something to do with it—who knew?

But we forgot to salute him. What daggers he looked at us! We asked him to let us pass in. "Where do you belong?" "To the Third Regiment." "What do you want here?" "To see some friends." "Sentinel, pass them in, Sir!"

It was indeed a novelty to most of us. The men and officers lived in square, white tents, slept on hay, and cooked their rations on fires built in holes dug in the ground. Most of the men were very communicative. A few would hold up their heads as if to say, "We have seen service; you are greenies." Of course some of us must have appeared very verdant to them. We plied all manner of questions, in reply to which they told us prodigious stories of what they had already seen, and suffered, for their country's sake. If we were to believe them, they were suffering greatly now. They had been in the service a month and a half, and the Government had furnished them no clothing and not a cent of pay! Besides, they were half-starved, and the rations provided[23] them were not fit for a dog! And their officers treated them shamefully, too. We began to think so; for yonder was a captain drilling his men. They obeyed promptly; and, yet, at every command, he called them "devils-of-hell."

Their officers all dressed wondrous fine. If all officers wore such epaulettes, such bugles and such lace, we did not wonder that there was an advance in American gold. And when we saw that they were all exceedingly full-chested, like the stern lieutenant at the gate, we concluded that the coat did have something to do with it.

And when we went away, it was under the impression that those soldiers would fight, and that they could tell a few things which we did not know. We concluded, too, that their officers put on a good deal of style; and indeed, we said, ours were beginning to pattern after them. A soldier did not have many rights that a white man was bound to respect, any way. We were very willing, very patriotic then, but we had not learned to be contented with what we could neither prevent nor improve.

About two o'clock on the morning of June 12th, we heard a great tumult in the streets. It was the Second Regiment preparing to leave. They had received orders to advance into Missouri and take possession of the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad which the rebels were attempting to destroy. All seemed to be greatly elated at the prospect before them. But amid the hurry of preparation, there was no time to talk.

The following afternoon the First Regiment left for the same destination. Their boys, like those of the[24] Second, were jubilant in spirit. They went about the boat which was to take them away, singing a parody on "Dixie;" and the boat moved out amid enthusiastic cheers of a large throng of citizens. It would be our turn to leave next. We hoped it would be soon.

And now the Third Iowa were the only military occupants of Keokuk. Our quarters were in commodious and comfortable buildings. We were provided with blankets, warm enough, but of a very inferior quality, and plenty of clean hay to sleep on. For subsistence, we were turned over to the tender mercies of contractors whom Government paid for boarding men at the rate of two dollars and ten cents per week. It may be surmised that it was the chief ambition of some of these men to board us as cheaply as possible. At least we thought so.

We began to see a great and unpleasant difference between the state of things now and a month ago. Then the time passed like a holiday. We were preparing to leave for the war, and the people seemed to think they could not do too much to encourage and assist us. They idolized us as patriots, almost as heroes. We had hazarded all we possessed, they said, for our country's sake. We hence belonged to them. The stripling of seventeen by enlisting gave himself to the public. Everybody talked of him; admired, encouraged, praised. He was a noble lad; he had the brave heart of a man. More likely than not, half a dozen fair misses were ready to quarrel with each other on his account. Indeed, the ladies seemed to be unanimous in the opinion that "none but the brave deserve[25] the fair." A young man who had not joined some company, without he had a very plain excuse, was nowhere among them. The soldier was "all in all;" the proud recipient of every favor, whether of money, advice, flattery, smiles or sighs. It would be surprising if these attentions did not lead us to form a very exalted opinion of our deserts. So it was. The people had humored us until when they handed us over to the Government, we were like spoiled children. We wanted to be humored still. At least, we looked upon ourselves as gentlemen, and thought the contractors should treat us as such. This they certainly did not do. It was bad enough, we thought, to compel us to eat on greasy tin plates and to drink our coffee out of cups of the same material; but to serve hair and brick-dust up to us in our soup, seemed decidedly out of place. At first we contented ourselves with dropping hints to the waiters that a reform in this matter would be agreeable; but seeing our hints unheeded we threw out admonitions, which were likewise a waste of words. Finally, two companies, D and F, indicated their displeasure, at their boarding houses, by turning up the tables, and pelting the waiters with beef bones. It seemed to some of our young ideas a glorious manifestation of the old Saxon spirit of liberty. At least, its results were salutary. In both cases it secured us a magna charta in the shape of a new boarding place with earthen dishes and palatable food.

It is doubtless true that under the impression that we were suffering useless hardships, our complaints were at times very unreasonable. Young soldiers, like young children, sometimes act very foolishly. And as[26] a person in manhood generally sees the folly of his early days, so we subsequently had many a hearty laugh at these complaints about what we had learned to consider luxuries, especially during the fasts of Kirksville and the Tallahatchie.

Our duties at this time differed in some respects from those of later days. Of course we had to retire and rise at the tap of the drum; but we had less fatigue and guard duty and more drill. We were required to drill six hours a day, a very irksome duty, as some had sore feet, and the weather was quite warm.

It is now a matter of ludicrous astonishment to us that before we had been in the United States service a week, we began to grumble about our pay. The State owed us for the three weeks we had passed in its service. Why did it not pay us? It was not such treatment as we had expected to receive; but now they had got us in their power, they would do with us as they pleased. But why did we not think of that before? And who did we mean by that indefinite they? It is a monster that has inflicted upon us untold wrongs, but could any one give his locality?

At length, on the 24th of June, we received pay for the time we had spent in the State service. It was a small sum, less than seven dollars to each man; but many of us had been out of money for some time, and it may be imagined it was highly appreciated. Indeed, before night, some of us grew quite rich over it.

The same day we received our arms. Instead of the Springfield or Enfield rifle of which we had had so many dreams, we were disappointed in finding them a[27] plain, bright musket, marked, "Springfield, 1848." But we did not know as much about these muskets then as we do now. There are some graves on a cotton field near Pittsburg Landing that have a tale to tell about them to any ordnance officer that will pass that way.

The following day we went into camp on the site of the late Camp Ellsworth. We received commodious quarters in the shape of fourteen wall tents to the company. The business of getting into camp consumed the entire day. We were beginners then. A strong line of sentinels was established around us. We did not like it. No, nor have we ever learned to like to be thus imprisoned.

The name of our camp was Kirkwood. It was a beautiful situation. The ground was a gently rolling greensward, over which were scattered trees in pleasant variety, and, near by, swept between his bold banks the majestic "Father of Waters."

It may be presumed that for the first few days of our camp experience, we got along poorly. But we could adapt ourselves more readily to our new mode of life than the members of some regiments in the field; for we had among us many whose frontier life had taught them the mysteries of "camping out." Of course we cooked our food badly. But the ladies who daily visited our camp gave us many important hints on this subject. As yet we had no surgeon; and our officers, either from want of knowledge, or not appreciating the importance of the matter, paid very little attention to it. It was a long time before we learned to cook our food so as not seriously to impair health.


At this time a circumstance occurred which showed that our "Saxon spirit of Liberty" was not unconquerable. The quartermaster had furnished us no cups, plates, knives, forks nor spoons. We were told that we would have to buy them with our own money. This we were determined not to do. We declared that the Government should furnish them. The quartermaster we believed was swindling us, and putting the money in his own pocket. We said all manner of hard things about him and about our officers generally. Well, after we had been two or three days in camp, it was noticed that most of us were provided with the articles in question. Where or how did we get them? The quartermaster did not furnish them, nor did any one give them to us; we must have bought them. Thus military discipline and hunger are great eagle-tamers.

But the Third Iowa was not allowed that period of discipline and drill with which some regiments are favored before going into active service. Almost from the very outset, we were destined to receive our training in the face of the enemy. On the 28th of June it was rumored that we were to advance into Missouri. That evening crowds of citizens visited our camp and paid us great respect and many kindnesses. Instead of a dress parade, as usual, we underwent the display of a review before Colonel Curtis of the Second Regiment, who commanded the "North Missouri Expedition." Before tattoo it was definitely announced that we would leave the following morning, and orders were issued for reveille at three o'clock.



We break up camp at Keokuk—The parting occasion—The last lingering look—A pleasant steamboat ride—Two nights and a day at Hannibal—We advance by rail into the interior of Missouri—Dangers attending the movement—We halt at Chillicothe, Grand River bridge, and Utica—Leaving the cars and camping for the night—Condition of the country—Our first night alarm—How we celebrated the Fourth of July—Our uniform—Our rations—Our discipline—Col. Williams arrives and assumes command—Col. Smith visits and consults with him—Another false alarm.

Reveille sounded at the appointed hour. We pulled down our tents, packed our baggage and camp equipage in boxes (for as yet we had no knapsacks), and by daylight were ready to move. But it took considerable time to convey the baggage to the boats, and we passed the interval in singing patriotic songs and listening to speeches which were delivered by a number of comrades amid the greatest applause. Brilliant was the prospect before us. It looked like a march of victory. Price had been defeated at Booneville, and had fled with a few followers to the borders of Arkansas. There was nothing before us, we thought, but to occupy a conquered country, and while preparing for a general advance, to wipe out the irregular parties which straggled in his wake. A vain delusion! A single fortnight would undeceive.


At length we formed battalion, and marched through the city to the levee, where the two steam ferry boats, "Gate City" and "Hamilton Belle," lashed together, lay waiting to receive us. We went aboard, amid displays of the greatest enthusiasm on the part of the citizens, to which our hearts, overflowing with pride and patriotism, and, as yet, unchilled by the realities we were to encounter, sent up a long response. At length the boats moved out amid a storm of cheers from citizens on shore and soldiers on board, as loud as a young battle, and when, by reason of the distance, our mutual voices could no longer be heard, we saw the vast throng waving their adieus, and as we sped down the willing waters, we watched with a lingering look the brick city crowning the bold hills, recede through the driving mist till it vanished. It was like taking the last look at homes and firesides. To many it was the last look indeed.

And now, as if to dispel the sad thoughts which filled our minds, we instinctively turned our looks southward whither we were going.

The day was gloomy; but it could not destroy the pleasant effect of the scenery through which we passed. The banks on either side rising majestically under their weight of forest, or gently receding in green fields, with many a little cottage quietly stowed away in their shady nooks; the beautiful towns with their fine residences and shady walks, where, as we passed, the people waved their little flags and white handkerchiefs in applause; the islands—like visions of paradise upon the peaceful waters—fled past us—a panorama of enchanting beauty.


Toward evening we arrived at the beautiful city of Hannibal, and were quartered in two large railroad freight houses, the gravel floors of which constituted our hard beds. The work of unloading and unpacking our baggage furnished a scene of indescribable confusion. It was impossible for every one to find what belonged to him; and what one lost out of his own, he generally endeavored to make up from his neighbor's pile,—a game in which some succeeded much better than others. In this situation we passed the following day, which was a beautiful one, waiting for the train to arrive which was to take us westward over the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad.

We formed the acquaintance of several members of the Sixteenth Illinois, two companies of which were stationed here. They doted largely on the good times they were having, and how much they enjoyed the hospitality of the good Union people of Hannibal. Toward evening our regiment marched through the city and had a dress parade, which was witnessed by a large crowd of citizens.

The following morning, July 1st, we got on board a long passenger train with our effects, and, at ten o'clock, the whistle sounded and we moved on. Passing out of the city, and all along the route, the citizens greeted us with many demonstrations of enthusiasm. But we already began to get tired of this. We began to do less cheering and waving of hats, and more sober thinking about our situation and the realities we were about to encounter. We were moving into the enemy's country without a knapsack, haversack, or canteen,—without a[32] mule or wagon of transportation,—without a cartridge box or a cartridge,—nothing but empty muskets with bright bayonets. The country was on fire with treason. The people were everywhere organizing to resist the Federal forces. The Union people received us joyfully; but according to their own statements, they were in a minority, hesitating, purposeless, powerless. It is true, that at Hannibal they had organized three companies of home guards who had one piece of artillery. Such was the condition of things when, almost totally unequipped, we moved into the interior of Missouri. The risk was enormous. It was alike a risk of safety and of reputation. The railroad led directly through the country where Brigadier General Thomas Harris was organizing his rebel forces. A hundred determined men could have thrown our train off the track and captured all of us. It is scarcely possible to conceive of greater stupidity than to take troops into such a country in this condition. We were perfectly helpless. We could not have withstood fifty armed men. The ignorance of the enemy alone was our good fortune.

But we dismissed apprehensions, and occupied our minds with contemplating the beautiful landscape on either side of us. There was an indescribable charm in this railroad ride. It was moving upon the enemy at a rate we had never dreamed of. The forests were full of wild flowers and song birds whose notes we could not hear; the level prairie sometimes stretching away in endless distance, sometimes bounded by long stretches of forest that looked like infantry arrayed for battle; the lofty hills and wide green bottoms—a dissolving[33] view, ever vanishing and reappearing. We were without rations; but the train made frequent halts at the stations, during which we would rush to the stores and buy whatever we wanted.

At dark the train arrived, when two companies under Captain Stone were left as a garrison. Four miles beyond, at the bridge over Grand River, Captain Sladden was left, with his company, C.

A mile further, the train discharged the remaining seven companies at the little village of Utica. It was now nine o'clock at night. Our baggage had to be brought from the cars, (and in those days we carried as much baggage as a division does now), wood and water had to be got, and no one knew where to get it; every thing was to be done; the night was quite dark, and the roads full of ditches. It was a scene, had it been possible to see any thing, of exquisite confusion. No one, unless he has been with them, can appreciate the inconvenience a regiment of young troops experience in camping for the night for the first time under such circumstances. But we managed to get through it all by midnight, and, then, lying down upon the wet ground, without a picket posted or a cartridge at hand, we slept.

The following day we established our camp near the town on a beautiful greensward, surrounded for the most part by young timber. We found the water in its vicinity poor and unwholesome. It was here that our quartermaster treated us for the first time to the luxury of pilot bread, then known by the name of crackers, but since vulgarly called "hard tack"—a luxury we have[34] seldom wanted since. At night we received four rounds of ammunition to the man, and were admonished to be prepared for a sudden attack. Again we had no pickets posted. A vigorous attack by a small party of men would have utterly disorganized us. Let us thank the combination of accidents, which, in spite of the carelessness of our commanding officers, saved us from such a misfortune.

Before the arrival of Federal troops in this section, the rebels had everything their own way. They had organized bands or companies at different points, and by threats and acts of violence had terrified the Union people into silence. But when the troops arrived, these bands precipitately fled, and it became the turn of the Union people to rule and rejoice. On our arrival at Utica two or three rebels showed the cloven foot by endeavoring to escape by flight; but, they were captured, and, after being confined two or three days in our guard tent, they were released on taking the oath, to the great astonishment and indignation of the boys, who proposed various punishments instead, among which hanging figured conspicuously.

On the trip hither it had been announced that Captain John Scott, of Company E, had been appointed Lieutenant Colonel, and Captain William M. Stone, of Company B, Major. Lieut. Col. Scott accordingly assumed command the day after our arrival at this point.

The Fourth of July, 1861, was a day which we shall long remember. It was ushered in by a false alarm about three o'clock in the morning. Two or three shots[35] were fired by the sentinels, and the long roll began to beat at a great rate. We had never heard it before; but we knew well enough what it meant. We jumped out of bed quicker than if a tornado had burst upon us. It took, of course, two or three seconds to get awake. Where were we, and what was to pay? Suddenly the whole thing flashed upon us. We were soldiers and in Missouri, and last night our officer had told us to be ready for a surprise. Imagine a soldier in this predicament! He springs first for his gun, then for his shoes. Where are they? Some one has got them on. It is vain to inquire after them. There is a universal clamor of voices, and no one hears anything except what he says himself. A cool listener outside might distinguish such expressions as these: "Where the devil's my hat?" "Who's got my boots?" "They're right on us; didn't you hear the guards fire?" "Hold up your gun there! You'll jab somebody with your bayonet." "I don't load till I get orders." "There! I've lost my last cartridge." "Fall in! Fall in."

At length he blunders upon a pair of shoes. They are not his; for they do not fit him at all. But he gets one of them on, and suddenly discovers that his pants should come on first. Off come the shoe and on the pants. By this time his head and the tent begin to get clear. He gets on his pants, then his shoes, seizes his gun and falls into the ranks.

On this occasion our companies were promptly formed and dressed. Then there was some shivering, some grumbling and a good deal of standing still and waiting. Strange, thought we, that the rebels had not charged[36] upon us immediately. But perhaps there was none to charge. At length amid hoarse grumblings and suppressed cursings, it was announced that we had been victimized by a false alarm. Accordingly we broke ranks and again went to bed. What was the cause of this alarm? Some said the sentinels had got scared and fired at a hog; others that the commanding officer had gotten it up to exercise the men.

As the morning dawned, a couple of anvils (for we had no cannon) were fired to usher in the consecrated day. It was decided that it should be duly celebrated. After breakfast the battalion was formed and marched to a grove near the village where the exercises were appointed to take place. Here we were joined by a goodly number of citizens. It was an impressive scene. On the soil of our own country, and yet in an enemy's land, citizens and soldiers mingled together—fair faces and gray hairs by the side of glittering bayonets—to celebrate the birthday of our beloved country, now bleeding and almost in the struggle of death. The Declaration of Independence was read in an impressive manner by Lieut. Col. Scott; patriotic songs were sung in which Lieut. Mullarky of our regiment took the lead, and the ladies joined; an appropriate and eloquent oration was delivered by Capt. Newcomb; martial airs were played by the band, and a series of regular toasts were responded to with music and cheers. We then returned to camp.

After dinner it was announced that Major Stone had invited a portion of Col. Scott's people to join him and his in a celebration at Chillicothe. Four companies[37] were allowed the privilege of going. A train of cars conveyed them thither, and from the depot they marched to the place of meeting near the town. The exercises were the same as those of the forenoon, except there was, if possible, more enthusiasm. The Declaration was read by a citizen, Lieut. Col. Scott followed with a speech which was characteristic of the man, generous, honest, and outspoken. He was followed by several citizens who spoke amid frequent and loud applause. Mr. Woolfolk, a young member of the bar, was particularly eloquent. The language and manner in which he referred to the past glory and present distress of our country was sufficient to have touched the heart of the most remorseless traitor. And when he appealed to the patriotism of the people of Missouri, and pointed to the glories won by her sons under Doniphan, the applause was beyond description. When he sat down there was a universal outcry from the soldiers for "Major Stone," "our Presbyterian Major." The Major mounted the stand and held for a few minutes the attention of the assemblage. His commanding figure, his rapid and nervous style of speaking, and his ready wit made a marked impression upon all. He spoke with his usual invective and sarcasm, which was now happily directed against Claib. Jackson, General Price, and their unfortunate followers. Before he closed, the boys asked his permission to have a dance, to which he replied that his religious scruples would not allow him to participate in anything of the kind, but he would watch the gap while they had the fun. He closed amid rapturous applause. We were especially delighted with[38] the patriotic songs sung by a glee club of citizens, most of whom were ladies. But what pleased us almost as well was a tangible manifestation of the hospitality of the Union people of Chillicothe, in the shape of a substantial table of victuals, from which no soldier was allowed to go away hungry. We did not stay to see whether the Major's boys had their proposed dance, nor did we greatly care to; since the boys of Company C had this afternoon sported their new uniforms (our's had not yet been issued to us); and the ladies had appeared quite exclusive in their attentions to them. We returned to our camps, having experienced a revivification of patriotism under circumstances which we shall never forget.

The following day our long desired uniform was issued to us. It consisted of pants and dress coat of fine and substantial gray cloth, trimmed with blue. The pants had the blue cord down the outer seams, and the coat had three buttons on the sleeves instead of two, marks which on the regulation uniform indicate the rank of a commissioned officer. In this some of the boys were disposed to think the State designed conferring an especial mark of honor. In connection with the coat and pants, we received the usual complement of drawers and shirts, two pairs of each. Adding to this the hats and shoes already drawn at Keokuk, we now had a complete uniform, unsurpassed, it was said, by that of any regiment in the service. It was emphatically a dress parade uniform. We prized it highly, and to preserve it, many continued to wear their old clothing as the Colonel had directed. But the advantage of[39] being clothed well and in uniform was in our case not without disadvantages. We were of course compelled to appear on dress parade in full uniform, and with coat buttoned to the chin. Our coats were of wool, and heavily padded, and hence in the hot days of summer this was exceedingly uncomfortable. It is not surprising, then, that, on one of our first dress parades after wearing them, five men fainted and fell from the ranks. It was a winter uniform, heavier than is ever furnished by the Government, and totally unfit to wear on the long marches we were destined to make during the hottest days of the summer. But the chief objection to it was its color. It was the same as that adopted by the enemy. And as we had heard that in one or two instances Federal regiments had committed the blunder of firing into each other, our apprehensions on this point were not very pleasant. This indeed proved to be an insurmountable objection; for after the battle of Blue Mills it was condemned, orders were issued against wearing it, and then we were compelled to pay for it. But the commissioned officers drew a suit apiece, for which, by some "hocus pocus" unknown to privates, they got rid of paying anything. At this time, however, we had not the slightest apprehension that it would be charged to us; and, as we now contrasted our condition with some of the ragged troops we had seen, we could not but feel a sense of gratitude toward the State by whose generosity we supposed it furnished.

This feeling was in decided contrast with the feelings we entertained toward those who managed the department[40] of subsistence. The quantity of rations which we drew, though perhaps as much as the Regulations at that time allowed, was totally inadequate to satisfy our hunger. Of unsubstantials, such as salt, vinegar, soap, and candles, we had plenty. Our supply of meat was also more than we could consume. But of bread, the staff of life, each man received the poor pittance of three hard crackers a day, and of beans, the other article of vegetable diet issued to us, each man got about a pint in eight days. These rations were evidently insufficient for healthy, strong men, who were drilling forenoon and afternoon, and otherwise in constant exercise.

But we found some relief in trading with citizens who daily visited our camp. Butter, milk and vegetables they readily exchanged with us for bacon and coffee. And, thus, with the help of a little money, we managed to live.

To our credit be it said, we had not yet begun to practice the "vandalism," which, in subsequent days, called forth so many General Orders. Hogs and sheep, great and small, ran through our camps unmolested. Gardens grew unpillaged, and fowls roosted unharmed. Our conduct did not give the lie to our professions, and the people had every reason to believe that in estimating us as "vandals," seeking spoils rather than anything else, they had been grossly deceived.

While we were camped at Utica, Col. Williams arrived and assumed command. Of course all watched his conduct with great scrutiny. He was the man who, more than any other, held in his hand our destiny. His[41] proper care would give us supplies, health, discipline, and, in every way, promote our efficiency, good appearance and good name. His conduct in battle would greatly influence the chances of victory and glory on the one hand, and of defeat and disgrace on the other. It is needless to say, that his first acts disappointed us. His efforts to preserve good discipline were certainly commendable; but his decisions were rash and hasty. His temper was quick and ungovernable, and his judgment part of the time under the control of his temper. The least mistake of a soldier was sufficient to put him into a violent fit of rage. Of course such manifestations tended to create a feeling of hatred and contempt toward him on the part of his men; and so frequently did these occur that they soon came to despise, at once, the man, his rank and authority. A state of things more unfortunate to our regiment, and to many of its individual members, could scarcely have occurred.

On Sunday, July 7th, our camp was visited by Col. Smith, of the Sixteenth Illinois, which was then stationed in two detachments, one at Hannibal, and one at Palmyra. It was rumored that he came to concert measures with Col. Williams for a movement against the enemy. But of course whatever was determined on, was kept a secret from us; for which reason some of us thought that the Colonel was acting very ungenerously toward us, and betraying a great lack of confidence in us. Ah, we had something to learn yet.

The same night we were victimized by another false[42] alarm, which was got up by Colonel Williams to exercise us in forming line of battle by night. On this occasion line of battle was formed without much delay, when the Colonel endeavored, but with poor success, to put us through one or two battalion manœuvers, and then allowed us to go to quarters.



Operations of the rebel general Harris—Three companies of our regiment detailed to join an expedition against him—We are allowed ten minutes for preparation—We join a portion of the sixteenth Illinois at palmyra—And with them return to Monroe—The movement is delayed by a storm—Consultation of officers—The column moves—Skirmish of Hager's Woods—We delay and finally camp for the night—And in the morning begin to retreat—Our train burned and the enemy in our rear—A threatened skirmish—He cuts off our communication and surrounds us in large force—Cool conduct of colonel Smith—We begin to fortify—A night of expectation—Details of our situation—The enemy opens with artillery and begins to draw in his lines—We lie in our trenches and reserve our fire—Aid in the right time—The enemy quits the field in panic—An accident—Col. Williams arrives with a portion of the Third Iowa.

We were now to learn that we had not been called into the field to wear fine uniforms and make imposing parades. We were to learn that soldiering has some higher realities than guard duty, drill and pilot bread. We were to learn that our prediction of the total defeat of the rebel cause in Missouri had been the wildest mistake, and, that in times of war it is folly to make any predictions whatever. In short, we were to learn what it was to see the enemy, to be surrounded by him, and to be shot at by him.

It appears that Thomas Harris, a citizen of Hannibal, one who had been a member of Congress from Missouri[44] a West Point graduate, and a man of tact and shrewdness, as those who knew him averred, was recruiting and concentrating, in Monroe county, south of the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad, a large force of mounted infantry, with what designs was then unknown to the Union authorities. It is known, however, that he gave infinite trouble to the Federal forces in northeastern Missouri; that he baffled all efforts to capture him, crossed the Missouri with a large force, joined Price at Lexington, and under him commanded a division. On the Sunday alluded to in the last chapter, Colonel Smith and Colonel Williams agreed upon a plan for a movement against his accumulating forces. To this end, the Third Iowa was to furnish three companies. That evening Colonel Williams assembled his captains, and they cast lots for the privilege of joining in the coveted movement. Herron, Newcomb and Warren were the lucky men, and their companies A, F and H were thus designated to take part in it. Thus our first expedition was concocted on Sunday, perhaps by accident; but who knows that the venerable colonel of the Sixteenth did not think it well to devote the Sabbath to so good a work?

Notwithstanding the companies which were to take part in it, were thus designated, orders for preparation were not issued to them that evening; no, nor at reveille in the morning. It was not till after breakfast that we received this order, and then we were allowed but ten minutes for preparation; and what was still more astonishing, we were not told whether to take any rations, or what baggage to take, and what to leave behind. We[45] must do in ten minutes no one could tell what, or else leave every thing undone. We, however, undertook the job of packing up our private effects, and getting them in shape to leave behind. But the matter on which the colonel had rested all night so easily, had now become suddenly and dreadfully urgent. While we were hurrying together our things with the utmost haste, he appeared among us in a great rage because we were not in ranks. We were compelled to leave our property, some of it packed, and some of it scattered about in our tents. It was three weeks before we saw any of it again, and some of us lost all we had. It may be imagined that this circumstance was calculated to exalt our opinion of Col. Williams, and to enhance our affection for him.

We got aboard a train of freight cars, and after a short delay, moved to the east. The time consumed in our ride was passed in singing patriotic songs, and speculating as to our destination. All that we knew of what was before us was, that the enemy was concentrating a large force somewhere, that he was supposed to have artillery, and that we were to attack him.

About 4 P. M. we arrived at Palmyra, where we were joined by two companies of the Sixteenth and one of the Hannibal Home Guards. The men of the Sixteenth had the advantage over us of being fully equipped and supplied with twenty rounds of ammunition. So also the Home Guards, who had with them their cannon, an iron six pounder. The chief of this piece was a soldier of the Sixteenth, who had been a non-commissioned officer in the British artillery service[46] in India. The manner in which he handled it in the face of the enemy, showed that he was as familiar with a cannon as an old hunter with his rifle. But it was unfortunate that the only ammunition with which it was supplied was solid shot.

With this force we went aboard another train, and as soon as the cannon and some commissary stores could be got aboard, it proceeded back to Monroe, a station eighteen miles distant. Here we got off and formed battalion for a night march. Just at this time a heavy rain storm came up and raged with violence during the fore part of the night. It would be folly to attempt to advance fourteen miles over unknown roads in the blackness of such a night, especially as the men of our regiment had to carry their total supply of cartridges, twelve rounds, in their side coat pockets, where the rain would render them unfit for use. So Col. Smith, who was in command, seemed to have concluded; but he gave us no orders during the whole night, whether to go to sleep or to keep awake and await orders to take up the march. We however availed ourselves of shelter as best we could in the case, in a few vacant buildings; and notwithstanding we had not a picket watching, slept soundly.

The morning dawned clear and beautiful. The prairie birds sung sweetly and the air was full of fragrance. But the cheer which pervaded nature illy accorded with our feelings. Wet, hungry and unrefreshed, we arose and set ourselves to work to prepare something to eat. The town afforded one hotel which accommodated with warm meals the officers and many of the men. With[47] the aid of this, and the scant rations we had drawn, we managed to appease our hunger, and as far as we, the men, were concerned, were ready to move.

But Colonel Smith was in a dilemma. It had been his intention to make a night march and surprise the enemy. In this the storm had disappointed him. And now that the enemy must be aware of his presence, he did not know whether it were best to advance and attack him or not. Nor is it strange that he hesitated. His force consisted of not more than 450 men, and their supply of ammunition was not more than sufficient to last them through a heavy skirmish. The lowest reports of the citizens placed the enemy's force at 900, and all represented that the whole country was rushing to join him. It was said that he had three pieces of cannon. He was encamped in a dense forest from which it would be hard to dislodge him, and where he would have the advantage of knowing the ground in case of attack. In addition to this, most of his force was mounted, while we were wholly destitute of cavalry. This would enable him unopposed to keep a network of scouts around us, who, from eminences in the open country, would reconnoiter, ascertain our numbers and watch our movements unmolested. Moreover, knowing our position at all times, he would be able to draw us into ambuscades, or in the timber to move rapidly and suddenly upon our flanks and rear.

Colonel Smith called a council of officers, and introduced the subject to them in that unrestrained, simple manner for which he was so peculiar: "Well, Captain, So-and-so, what had we better do?" This was the way[48] in which he asked each officer for his opinion. The council was not unanimous; but it was decided to march against the enemy.

Meanwhile several horses had been impressed and mounted with expert and daring men. This force succeeded in running down and bringing in several of the enemy's scouts, who appeared, at different times, watching our movements. Of course, it was impossible to obtain any reliable information from them.

At ten o'clock, we took up the march, leaving the train of cars behind without a guard. In the order of column the two companies of the Sixteenth had the advance, followed by the Third Iowa battalion, under command of Captain Herron, to whom Williams had given the command, allowing Lieut. Col. Scott to go along as a spectator! The enlisted men did not, at the time, understand this shameful trick, but wondered to see Capt. Herron giving orders to the battalion in the presence of Lt. Col. Scott. The cannon, followed by the Home Guards, was in our rear. Of course so small a column did not present a very imposing appearance; but as we thus moved toward the enemy with measured and united tread, we felt a glow of spirits which can not be described. Having proceeded about four miles, we halted and partook of refreshments to the amount of a single hard cracker to the man, without grease, water or salt.

Our road led through alternate woods and prairies, and over one or two small, muddy streams. The day was intensely hot, and being without canteens we suffered greatly from thirst. The country through which[49] we passed was almost entirely deserted by the inhabitants. We did not see half a dozen male citizens during the whole day's march. While marching through the open country, horsemen appeared, from time to time, on our flanks, but kept beyond the range of our guns, and reconnoitered us apparently with great coolness. In one instance the column halted and Fishbeem unlimbered his gun and sent one or two shots after these curious gentlemen, which made them disappear in a hurry. This was, in reality, a very foolish performance; but it demonstrated to our admiring eyes the ability of Fishbeem to handle a cannon just as we thought it ought to be done. From that time until the battle of Blue Mills, we put an immense amount of confidence in artillery, and would scarcely consider ourselves safe away from it. In marching through the woods, Col. Smith invariably kept a line of skirmishers deployed on either flank. This was almost a useless precaution; for the line, never in advance of the column, afforded no protection against a concealed enemy in front. For all the good this did us, the enemy might have concealed himself ahead of us, and allowed us to march unsuspectingly to within twenty rods of his cannon before firing. Colonel Smith was very kind and fatherly to us; but it is plain he was not a military man. He should have kept at least a platoon moving ahead of us as an advanced guard.

About two P. M. we came in sight of a party posted in the edge of a wood. Adjutant Sessions, somewhat excited, cried, "We have met the enemy and they are ours, boys!" Some of the privates, equally excited,[50] perhaps, failed to see the point. The rebels had a fair field for a footrace; hence the adjutant's mistake. The cannon galloped forward, the old driver keeping up an unearthly screeching for joy. We were put on the double quick. Many of the boys threw away their blankets, and even then, before the end of the race, got quite out of breath. But we kept our places in ranks pretty well. Verily we were going to have a fight. No, not quite so soon. The rebels kicked the bottom out of it by skedaddling as fast as they could. It was probably a small picket force.

About 4 P. M., while we were marching through a long lane which led into a dense growth of young timber, and while the renowned "Dutch Company" of the Sixteenth, a company of German rifles, was deployed as skirmishers on either flank, the head of the column was fired into by a party of the enemy concealed immediately in advance of us. They fired about fifty shots, and perhaps a less number were fired in reply; for the rebels immediately fled, leaving several horses tied to the trees and one man mortally wounded. The Colonel at this moment happened to be riding in the rear of the column, and in his absence every captain seemed to make such dispositions as he saw fit. Some companies climbed the fence to the left, some to the right, and some continued to advance along the road. Soon Colonel Smith rode up, appearing greatly surprised at all that had taken place, and pointing over to the left where no one dreamed of there being either foe or friend, said to Captain Newcomb, "Captain, any firing over in that direction?" But the Colonel was by no means excited.[51] Indeed we never saw him excited. If ever he appreciated the magnitude of danger, he never manifested it. So far he was a soldier.

Suddenly Fishbeem galloped up with his cannon, and fired two or three shots with it into an old barn, greatly to our encouragement and doubtless to the huge merriment of our flying foe. Thus ended our first rencounter with the enemy, known in official papers as "Hager's Woods."

In this little affair Captain McAllister, of the Sixteenth, who was riding in advance on horseback, was wounded in five places. "Kansas Jack," a soldier of the Sixteenth, who had already distinguished himself as a scout, was wounded in the arm, and a teamster was slightly wounded. The injury done to the enemy, beyond the wounding mortally of one man, is not known. It must have been inconsiderable.

Well, what did we do next? We stood still in ranks for two hours, waiting for—nobody knows what. Night at length came. Between us and the enemy there was said to be five miles of unbroken wood. If he could draw us into ambuscade by daylight, it would be folly to advance now. So Colonel Smith wisely concluded to turn back and go into camp. We countermarched a mile and halted for the night in a field of newly harvested rye.

As soon as we had stacked arms, there was a general rush to the wagons for blankets. Some found their own, some appropriated the first they came to, and some were compelled to pass the night without any at all. A picket guard composed wholly of privates was[52] posted by Adjutant Sessions around the camp, two men in a place, so as to form a line a quarter of a mile from it either way. This guard was simply a chain of videttes without a commanding officer, and not relieved during the night. The only instruction given to the men was to fire and retreat to camp if an enemy should appear. To their credit be it said, there was not a gun fired on the picket line that night.

Day again dawned beautifully. Colonel Smith, after consulting his officers, considered it prudent to return to Monroe. Accordingly, at eight o'clock, the column began to move in retreat. About ten o'clock we came upon a small party of the enemy, at whom Fishbeem fired a few shots, which caused them to disappear hastily. All day the "Dutch Company" kept the flanks, and moved abreast of the column over fences and through thick woods in a manner that excited our admiration. Our stock of horses received some additions by levies on rebel citizens, and an additional number of scouts were mounted.

About eleven o'clock we came in sight of Monroe, and what was our surprise to see the railroad depot and the train of cars we had left behind in flames! On reaching a more commanding view, we saw a long line of rebel cavalry drawn up to receive us. We immediately formed line, the cannon on the left. Fishbeem bade them good morning with a six pound ball which struck full in their midst. They did not wait for another salute, but broke over the hill and disappeared in the greatest precipitation. Then additional shots were fired, but they probably took no effect, as the[53] enemy were already behind the hill. Colonel Smith then gave the command to move forward. Captain Herron asked, "Shall we advance in line, Colonel?" To which the old Colonel replied characteristically, "Why, no; the devils are gone."

We now advanced toward the town, where we arrived about noon and took a position as much concealed as possible, the better to watch the movements of the enemy. The scouts reported that they found one horse with his leg shot off where Fishbeem's shot had first fallen among the cavalry. They now began to appear in large numbers on our left and right. A passenger train coming from the west got within half a league of us, when a body of horsemen galloped rapidly toward it. Perceiving this, and the track torn up in front of it, it halted and escaped by beating a hasty retreat. We now took a position in a three story brick seminary north of the town, which it was Colonel Smith's intention to make his point of defense. For instead of attacking the enemy, as we had come to do, it was evident that he was now preparing to attack us. All the afternoon columns of cavalry continued to debouch from the woods on the southwest whence we had retreated, now forming long lines in front, now separating and appearing again on all sides of us. It required more military experience than we possessed to divine what all this meant. Meanwhile columns of smoke rising in the distance to the east and west, told us that they were destroying the railroad, with the design of preventing succor from reaching us. Two Union men, who had escaped from their lines, confirmed[54] the report that they had cannon. It needed no statement of theirs to convince us that this force was immensely superior to our own; for before night we were completely surrounded.

Well, what preparations did Colonel Smith make in the meantime to meet them? None at all. He walked around and smoked his pipe apparently with the greatest unconcern at all that was going on. His appearance was entirely calculated to inspire confidence in our situation; but that of the enemy produced decidedly the opposite sensation. Colonel Smith made no preparations; but the officers of the Third Iowa took it upon themselves to erect works for defense. Captain Newcomb and Lieutenant Brown took the lead in the matter; the rest followed, and soon all the men were vigorously at work. It was commenced by tearing down some interior fences and tightly boarding the one which enclosed the seminary square, so as to conceal us completely from the view of the enemy. Then, seizing all the intrenching tools the town afforded, we worked until dark, throwing up embankments of dirt on both sides of this wooden wall, the enemy all the while coolly surveying our operations. That night, we slept on our arms behind our works.

Thursday, July 11. When the day dawned, parties of the enemy were in sight. During the forenoon they continued to appear until we were again completely surrounded. By noon we had thrown up a tolerable breastwork, perhaps as strong as ordinary rifle-pits. Continuing to work leisurely upon them, we waited the movements of the enemy.


Such was our first picture of war. However it may appear now, it did not make us feel at all buoyant then. We were surrounded—beleaguered. Our ammunition would not average fifteen rounds to the man, while our cannon had but forty rounds. The ammunition of Captain Herron's men, from being carried in their pockets was knocked to pieces, and much of it rendered unfit for use. Our supply of subsistence was nearly exhausted. We had corralled in our works a number of cattle, which would be a great help to us; but the rebels had shrewdly driven off all the rest. Our only supply of water was drawn from the cistern of the seminary which two or three days at most would exhaust. Had the rebels attacked us vigorously, we could have made a desperate resistance, but it must have been a short one. It was doubtless well for us that they did not know our situation, as it would have emboldened them to an attack. As it was, their movements exhibited unmistakable signs of fear.

About two o'clock in the afternoon, an officer stationed on the housetop with a glass informed Colonel Smith that the enemy was planting a cannon in the edge of the woods about three-fourths of a mile to the north. Another minute verified the statement. A flash was seen, a shock was heard, and a solid shot came whistling through the air. The first three or four shots were from a six pounder and fell short of us. But they commenced using a nine pounder, and their shots tore through the air unpleasantly close to our heads. At first they fired high and their shots struck in the middle of the town, or on the railroad track. But their aim[56] soon became more accurate. One shot struck our gun carriage and came near dismounting the piece. Another struck the parapet behind which Company A of the Third Iowa lay concealed, and threw two or three bushels of dirt over them, to the infinite merriment of all who saw it at a pleasant distance. Most of the time during this cannonade, we rested behind our intrenchments. A man in the building watched the enemy's artillery from a window, and when he would see the flash of their gun he would cry, "down!" a command which we obeyed by dropping into the ditches, and hugging the earth most willingly. In Company H of our regiment, a gun went off by accident, killing one man as he lay in the trench. Colonel Smith walked about the enclosure, surveying things very coolly and giving orders. The enemy's cavalry closed in, principally from the east, but their movements were slow and hesitating, and nothing could induce them to come within range of our muskets. We entertained a great contempt for such cavalry, and felt assured that we need not apprehend any harm from them as long as they kept mounted. Our cannon only replied twice to theirs, Colonel Smith deeming it prudent to save his ammunition for a greater emergency.

At length a train of cars was seen approaching slowly from the east. It gave us joy, mingled with apprehensions; for we had heard that the enemy had captured Palmyra, and did not know but that he might have captured the rolling stock at that point, and was in this way sending reinforcements against us. We could not but observe that it came very slowly, and we[57] were at a loss to conjecture the cause of this. Finally, it approached sufficiently near for us to discern a flag upon it. Colonel Smith ordered Captain Smith who stood in the window with a glass, to direct it upon that flag. He did so; and when he announced, "Colonel, it is the Stars and Stripes," there went up from every throat a shout of unfeigned joy.

Fishbeem now dragged his gun into the middle of the enclosure, and opened upon the rebels with fine effect, stampeding them in all directions. They got their artillery away as quick as possible, and then began to retreat, first to the south and then to the east, Fishbeem, all the while, visiting them with his hard favors. Their retreat soon assumed the character of a rout. We never saw the like in all our soldiering. There was nothing to run from that could possibly overtake them, and yet those men of chivalry ran—well, old trappers said their flight looked more like a herd of buffalo stampeding, than any thing to which they could liken it.

Our reinforcements consisted of four companies of the Sixteenth with one piece of cannon. They had been all day coming from Palmyra, a distance of eighteen miles, having been compelled to repair the track where the enemy had torn it up. The engine was backing its train, and as it approached, the boys on board became so jubilant, that they neglected to keep a strict watch ahead of them. There was a place where the rebels had torn up a rail; the train ran on to it, and the first two cars tumbled down the bank. The train was running slow, and fortunately no one was seriously hurt.


The coming friend, the flying foe, gave to us as we beheld them a feeling of indescribable joy. Aid had reached us in the moment when most needed. We might have been able to hold out without assistance; but there would have been a limit to our endurance. He had fired in all twenty-two shots, nine of which had struck within our works, three of them passing through the building; but no one was hurt. It is easy to calculate the chances of an assault. The rebels could not have carried our works by storm, until our ammunition had been exhausted. This he might have done by false attacks by night. They could not have done it in the daytime without great loss. As it was, had they possessed ordinary courage our situation would have been critical. On the other hand, Colonel Smith could have thrown his men into a square, and marched over the prairie to Palmyra, which by the wagon road was only fourteen miles distant, without being much disturbed. What are men on horseback with shotguns against infantry with bayonets? So we talked encouragingly behind our works while the enemy was approaching. And now, when we saw him flying from nothing in such magnificent rout, we were more than convinced of the correctness of our conclusions.

That night, as we had done the night before, we lay on our arms in the trenches. About three o'clock in the morning, the mounted pickets fired their pieces, and reported an enemy approaching in force. Our little garrison was thoroughly alarmed, and we made immediate disposition to receive him. The force proved to be most of the remaining portion of our regiment,[59] approaching from the west under Col. Williams. The arrival of these comrades coming to our assistance gave us an additional joy, although they were too late to relieve us from our supposed peril. They had heard, through rebel sources, many reports of fighting near Monroe resulting disastrously to us, and had been all the while they were coming most impatient to reach us, and afford us relief. They complained loudly of Col. Williams for tardiness and hesitancy, in bringing them forward. Much blame has ever since been attached to that officer for not reinforcing sooner. It was said that he made a useless delay of several hours at Hudson. Some even went so far as to attribute this delay to cowardice. Others assert that the delay was made to procure ammunition. The Colonel himself has been heard to boast of the energy and promptness he displayed in this operation. It is not my purpose, nor is it pleasant for me, to discuss personal matters. I can only say, that on this, as on most other questions, the general verdict of the officers and men was against him.



We prepare to march from Monroe—Arrival of Governor Wood with cavalry and artillery; and of the Fourteenth Illinois—How Mr. Dugan speaks of this in his book—A change of councils—The Third Iowa moves west on a train—Circumstances of the ride—Failure of an attempt to burn the Chariton River bridge—A few details—How young soldiers sometimes originate false alarms—Our camp at Chillicothe—General Hurlbut assumes command of the troops on the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad—We draw our accoutrements at last—We leave Chillicothe and go into camp at Brookfield.

The morning after the affair at Monroe, our regiment prepared to march. But the arrival of additional reinforcements changed the complexion of affairs. We were reinforced by a squadron of cavalry and a section of light artillery under Ex-Governor Wood, of Illinois, and by the Fourteenth Illinois Infantry, which came by rail. The Governor had come through from Quincy with a rush, burning the houses and confiscating the animals of guerrilla leaders, besides making prisoners of thirty or forty noted secessionists.

An account of the arrival of these reinforcements is given by Mr. Dugan in his book entitled "History of the Fighting Fourth Division." After detailing the circumstances of the journey of the Fourteenth from Monticello to Monroe, the grave "historian" goes on to say:


"When about two miles of town we left the cars and formed a line of battle, and supported Gov. Wood (who had accompanied us with five companies of independent cavalry from Quincy, Ill.), in a most brilliant charge upon the rebel columns, which resulted in their complete discomfiture. When the enemy's lines were broken by the impetuous charge of the Governor and his compatriots, and as they were flying in the wildest disorder, the Sixteenth sallied forth from their hastily constructed entrenchments, and poured a most destructive volley into the enemy's ranks, which emptied many a saddle, and sent not a few traitors to their final account."

My comrades, who were present on this occasion, will at once remark with what scrupulousness our author has detailed this occurrence. The Governor's "brilliant" and "impetuous" "charge" upon the "rebel columns," which had fled twenty hours before, reminds us strongly of Don Quixote's charge upon the army of Alifanfaron. The first intimation we had of the coming of the Fourteenth, was, when seeing them march up, stack arms in column, and cook their dinners as quietly as Sancho Panza at the saddlebags.

The old Governor seemed well pleased with the situation, and withal very affable to the boys. When we complained of having suffered on account of rations, he told us, with a shrewd wink, that it was good enough for us; we had no business to take prisoners with whom to divide our rations. Judging from his retinue of butternuts, his preaching did not at all harmonize with his practice.

The councils were now changed—why, we did not[62] know. Our regiment went aboard a train of cars, and about two o'clock in the afternoon moved westward toward our former camp at Utica. About four o'clock, we reached Salt River Bridge, which the rebels had burned. Here we left this train, and with much trouble and fatigue got our baggage across the bridge and on board another train which was waiting to receive us.

On this train we were crammed so closely together that it was impossible to lie down. Jolted and jammed by the motion of the cars, we passed the night somehow, and most of us got some sleep. Annoyed by these inconveniences, we little thought of the dangers of this nocturnal ride. The removal of a single rail by a mischievous citizen would have precipitated many of us into eternity.

Daylight found us at Macon city, where the train had halted for some reason to pass the latter part of the night. We were exceedingly hungry, having eaten nothing since yesterday's breakfast. Colonel Williams, knowing the difficulties of restraining men, and especially hungry men, in a town, posted guards and would allow no one to leave the train. He, however, took some of the officers with him and breakfasted at a hotel—an act which created, and justly, great indignation. An officer that will not share with brave men their hardships, as they share with him the perils from which he reaps glory, deserves universal execration.

About ten o'clock we reached Chariton Bridge, and Company F was detached to guard it. An incident had occurred here, a couple of hours previous to our arrival, not a little exciting. A party of a dozen men of the[63] Second Iowa had come from the west to guard this bridge. Arriving early in the morning, they had gone into a log house close by to get breakfast, when a party of rebels suddenly appeared and began preparations to set the bridge on fire. The Iowa boys sprung to their guns and rushed upon them. The rebels fled in confusion; but Lieutenant McKinney, the commander of the guard, attacked their leader, a young school teacher and law student, by the name of Marmaduke. He fell upon his knees and begged for mercy. But the lieutenant told him a bridge burner had no claims to mercy, and shot him through the head with his revolver. His dead body lay upon the railroad embankment near where Company F encamped. We buried him decently, giving him a soldier's grave. Subsequently some Union people of Callao came in behalf of his friends and disinterred the body and took it away.

The situation of Company F was not at all enviable. As soon as we had got off the train with our few effects it moved on. Since the previous morning, we had had nothing to eat, and for several days our rations had been scant. Our hunger was intense, a few rations of flour and bacon had been left for us; but we had no cooking utensils except a few mess pans which we had procured, no one knew how. We kindled a fire, kneaded some dough in these mess pans, wrapped it around sticks, and baked it in the blaze. We had scarcely had time to commence cooking dinner in this way, when half the company were ordered on picket. This, we thought, was seeing service. During the eight days we were here we were on guard half the time and suffered all[64] these inconveniences. Contrary to the endeavors of our officers, none of our camp equipage was sent to us,—another circumstance which tended to increase our affection for Colonel Williams.

Having left Company F at Chariton Bridge, the train proceeded five miles further to Brush Creek Bridge, which the rebels had burned. Here the regiment halted till the following night, when having repaired the bridge, Colonel Williams left Company C to guard it, and sent Company E back to Chariton Bridge to reinforce Company F. He then proceeded with the remainder of the regiment to Chillicothe, where he arrived the following forenoon. A detail was immediately made to go to Utica to bring hither our tents, baggage, and camp equipage. The whole mass was thrown together without respect of companies, and brought to Chillicothe. A regimental camp was established, which the officers united in naming Camp Williams.

The regiment was now disposed as follows: In the regimental camp at Chillicothe, Companies A, B, H, I and K; at Grand River Bridge, four miles west of Chillicothe, Companies D and G; at Brush Creek Bridge, forty miles east of Chillicothe, Company C; at Chariton Bridge, forty-five miles east of Chillicothe, Companies E and F.

These detached companies were continually threatened more or less seriously by the enemy. They were expected to protect the bridges and the railroad track in their vicinity. Reports frequently came in to them from the surrounding country, that the rebels were[65] organizing to attack them. But their instructions did not allow them to send out scouting parties to ascertain the truth of these reports. Indeed, the military knowledge we had expected on the part of our Colonel, he had as yet failed to exhibit. He did not even recommend these detached companies to construct stockades, nor were they provided with tools to do so, should it become necessary. None of these companies constructed works except Company F. We built of logs and sawdust a small square work around an old steam saw-mill, and named it Fort Brown after its projector, Lieut. Brown. Company A, which was subsequently detailed to guard Medicine Creek Bridge, built a small work near it of earth and logs.

On the evening of July 20th, Companies E and F, after having passed a week of almost constant fasting and watching, sleeping what little they were allowed to sleep in the open air, harassed by day by continual reports of the enemy approaching in force, and by night by clouds of famished mosquitoes, were, to their great joy taken aboard a train of cars, and expected to be conveyed immediately to Chillicothe. Imagine, then, the surprise and rage of Company F, at being awakened about midnight and ordered to get off at another railroad bridge in a timbered swamp. Company C was served in the same way. Company F relieved them at Locust Creek; but instead of being taken through to Chillicothe, they were left at Medicine Creek. The following day, however, these companies were relieved, the former by Company H, and the latter by Company A, and joined the regiment at Chillicothe. Subsequently[66] Company D was recalled from Grand River Bridge; but no companies were relieved after this, till the regiment changed camp to Brookfield.

The time spent in guarding these bridges was a period of constant, and sometimes harassing watchfulness. We were constantly on the lookout for the enemy. We had an unusual number of reports of enormous forces advancing against us, and night was prolific of false alarms. For in those days when the enemy were "bushwhackers," and videttes did not go to sleep on post, it was not hard for one of them, straining his eyes in the darkness, to convert an approaching horse or cow into a man; and, as dumb beasts do not understand the meaning of the word halt, it is readily converted into an enemy. It was easy for him to hear "the tramp of armed feet" in the rustle of the wind among the leaves or in the walking of a few swine. And in the "wee sma' hours," when the mind in spite of all its efforts to keep awake, is in a half-waking, half-sleeping state; when imagination plays such tricks with reason as to weave a thousand airy images, and make us think they are real, it would require no great effort amid these noises, for the sentinel to see in the darkness forms of assassins moving from tree to tree, or lines of skirmishers approaching through the gloom. And, seeing this, of course he must fire, and the report of his piece would alarm the neighboring sentinels, and they, too, would see images and fire. Thus the camp would be alarmed, and the men would be compelled to stand in ranks until the matter could be thoroughly investigated.


Our regimental camp at Chillicothe was situated on the north side of the railroad, and within the limits of the town. The ground was an excellent greensward, and the camp was systematically laid out. Our duty was camp guard, picket guard and drill. The camp guard generally required the heaviest detail. A strong line of sentinels extended around the camp, and no persons could pass them except in squads under a non-commissioned officer for water, without a written pass from the regimental commander. And, under Colonel Williams, it was a serious thing to disobey orders; and breaking guard was a risk which very few were willing to run. Whatever may be said against the Colonel, the discipline we attained under him while at Chillicothe, was highly creditable to him. It was in consequence of this discipline that our regiment had a good name among the citizens of Missouri, such as volunteer troops seldom gain among strangers or enemies. Their streets were not trodden by drunken soldiers; their property was safe; they no longer looked upon us as outlaws and monsters. They began to have confidence in us, and to take a more unprejudiced view of our cause. And who knows that our conduct did not make many friends of enemies? But it was doubtless the confinement to which we were thus subjected in our hot, close tents, that increased our sick lists so greatly. The restraint imposed upon us was excessive and unreasonable.

At Chillicothe our camp guard was managed according to the regulations, and the men learned the duties of the sentinel. But the manner in which our outpost[68] duty was done was horrible. As if to invite a surprise or a raid through our camp, Colonel Williams never had out pickets in the daytime. Nor did he ever send out a scouting party to ascertain the movements which were going on around him. Did he rely on Providence alone, or on accidental reports from citizens? Or did he unbosom his camp to his foes and trust to their magnanimity? In the night—did the Colonel think the enemy so foolish as to attack him in the night in the summer season when there was so much daylight to operate in? Or was he afraid of wolves? In the night before "tattoo," the officer of the day would string around the town a short distance from camp, twenty men, two in a place, without an officer, or even a non-commissioned officer over them. These men were not relieved till morning, when they would come in, according to instructions, of their own accord. If there was any military knowledge displayed in this arrangement, we were never able to see it.

Is it surprising then, that the rebels should have organized a company of cavalry within nine miles of us? Colonel Williams heard of this when it was too late, and sent a detachment of men in the night to look after them. This detachment was provided with ammunition at the rate of ten rounds to seven men, or 137 rounds to the man! But the foolish fellows got wind of our coming and ran off.

In this connection, Colonel Williams' attempt at fortifying deserves mention. He commenced throwing up a small work around the Union Hotel, where he had his headquarters, the flanks of it resting on the railroad,[69] which here runs in a moderate cut. What it was intended for we can guess: to be garrisoned by a small force when we should leave. What it was good for, no one but Colonel Williams could tell. Charley Kostman constructed it; as far as his part was concerned, it was good. It was evidently intended for about a hundred men. Was it intended to resist artillery? Why, then, was the parapet so weak? Was it intended to contain artillery? Why, then, were there no embrasures? Was it intended to protect infantry? The houses of the town on all sides of it could be filled with sharpshooters who would render it untenable. Was it intended for any thing? A party of men could run up the railroad track and get into it easily. It was in all respects a humbug; unless it be that it enabled the Colonel to sleep more soundly than before it was built. And there it doubtless stands to this time—a sublime monument to the genius of him who was chosen colonel of the Third Iowa, because he was a military man.

If Colonel Williams wanted to put up a small work against infantry, why did he not cut timber and make a stockade? If he wanted to make a fort which would resist artillery, why did he not select an eligible spot, and make one which would answer the purpose? No: he had a grander and sublimer object. It was to put the Union Hotel in a state of defense. And for this purpose he kept heavy details working, day after day, digging the baked earth in the hot sun,—which was an outrage, and so we regarded it.

In the meantime, Brigadier General Hurlbut arrived at Quincy, Illinois, and assumed command of the forces[70] on the Hannibal and St. Joseph railroad. Of this general we knew nothing, except that we had understood he was without military experience,—a circumstance not calculated to give us much confidence in him, especially when we thought of the disasters of Big Bethel and Bull Run. On assuming command, he issued a proclamation to the citizens of Missouri, which was about what they would have expected from a Federal general. He adopted General Pope's plan of making the citizens responsible for damages done the railroad in their vicinity. This was correct; for hitherto citizens had been mainly instrumental in these depredations. He also issued an order announcing the daily routine for the troops. By this order we were compelled to drill in the schools of the soldier, company and battalion,—in all, seven hours a day.

Few of my comrades have pleasant recollections of these long drills of Chillicothe. The heat was intense and relaxing, and the health of the regiment extremely bad. At one time, more than half of some of the companies were on the sick list, and few of us were entirely well. And yet the water we obtained from the wells of citizens was excellent, and our camp was a model of order and cleanliness.

On our battalion drills, Colonel Williams generally commanded. He taught us to execute several movements after the manner of Scott, and once or twice confessed that it was hard for him to get used to Hardee. He paid particular attention to instructing the battalion to form lines of battle rapidly and in various ways. As a drill-master he was rigid even to severity. It must[71] be allowed, that it was one of Colonel Williams' first objects of desire to see the regiment well drilled.

It was not till the 4th of August that we drew our accoutrements. Let us look back: up to this time, we had been in an insurrectionary district, filled with irregular forces of the enemy. From Calloway county, which Harris held with two or three thousand men, a two days ride would have brought an enemy to our camp. I can not see any excuse for this criminal carelessness. We ought to have been supplied with accoutrements and ammunition, or kept at home. If Colonel Williams had cartridges, he ought to have issued a supply to his men. If he did not have any, he ought to have seized powder and lead from the citizens, of which they had plenty. Singular good fortune, that we were not all captured! Were the gods propitious, or were our enemies too chivalrous to assail us, defenseless as we were?

Thus, with hard crackers and hard discipline; with constant drills and heavy fatigues; with full guard houses and frequent courts martial; in heat, dust, sickness and discomfort, we passed an irksome month at Chillicothe.

On the 7th of August we packed our baggage, struck tents at the tap of the drum, got aboard a train of cars and proceeded to Brookfield, the midway station between Hannibal and St. Joseph. We passed the first night without anything to eat, which naturally gave us pleasant feelings towards certain officers who looked out for their own comfort by supping at the hotel. The following day we established our regimental camp on a[72] beautiful hill on the prairie, about a half mile east of the town and near the railroad track. We were compelled to dig wells to procure water. Our duties were much the same as at Chillicothe, except that we did no nocturnal picketing, a squadron of the Second Illinois Cavalry, and Colonel Morgan's regiment of Missouri Cavalry, which was organizing at this place, doing this duty in our stead.

The only incident worthy of note during our stay at Brookfield was, that the feeling against Colonel Williams was on one occasion so aggravated by his conduct and that of Surgeon Edwards, that it broke out in an act of open mutiny. It was quieted, however, without any serious consequences. Let us draw the veil of forgetfulness over an occurrence so unfortunate, and, when viewed at a distance by those unacquainted with the circumstances, so discreditable to our regiment.



Activity of the rebels—Colonel Martin Green—We are ordered against him—Details and incidents of the march from Macon City to Kirksville—Character of the Home Guards—Condition of the country—Our situation at Kirksville—Details of our occupation of that place—Arrival of reinforcements under General Hurlbut—Our complaints and expectations.

It could not be expected that an enemy as active as the one we were attempting to suppress would allow us nothing to do. While we were busily engaged disciplining, he was energetically organizing. Price had been defeated at Booneville, and driven almost out of the State; but the secessionists seemed everywhere to have confidence in him. Some of them had followed him in New Mexico, and under him had one of the greatest of leaders. He had now joined McCullough on the borders of Arkansas, and, having greatly augmented his forces, was undertaking no one knew how grand an object—perhaps the conquest of Missouri. Already he had put our army in the southwest on the defensive. Nay, the rebel sympathizers were at this time exulting over the reported disaster at Springfield, which was a two fold disaster, on account of the death of the gallant Lyon.

For some time, one Martin Green, a citizen of Canton, Missouri, a brother of the well known ex-senator Green,[74] acting under the authority of General Price, had been organizing in northeast Missouri, and principally north of the Hannibal and St. Joseph railroad, a force of mounted men. Having been badly whipped near Athens, Missouri, by Colonel Moore, then commanding a regiment of home guards, but since the gallant Colonel of the Twenty-first Missouri, he had adopted the wise policy of shunning his enemies and employing his time in recruiting his force and collecting supplies. He was now said to be near Kirksville, about forty miles north of the railroad, and General Hurlbut projected an expedition against him. For this purpose he ordered Colonel Williams to detach from our regiment a force of five hundred men under Lt. Col. Scott.

On the 15th of August, at 1 P. M., orders were issued to us to prepare immediately for a march. The whole regiment, with the exception of the sick and convalescent, were assembled in line, and, after detailing from the several companies a guard of fifty men to be left behind with the camp, the force was reduced to the requisite number. Forty rounds of ammunition were issued to us. This we considered an omen of something to do; for we had heretofore carried but ten rounds. We took three days rations in our haversacks. For want of knapsacks we twisted or rolled our blankets, tied the ends together and slung them over our shoulders. This mode of carrying a blanket on light marches, where no additional clothing is necessary, is preferable to carrying a knapsack. Colonel Williams remained at Brookfield in command of the camp.

At 5 P. M. we got aboard a train of cars, and dark[75] found us in Macon City. General Hurlbut appearing on horseback as we got off the cars, led us to believe he was going to command the expedition in person. In this we were disappointed. We marched to the camp of a detachment of the Sixteenth Illinois which was stationed at this place, and having eaten a supper of pilot bread and raw meat, lay down on our arms and went to sleep. While we were sleeping, a train of cars arrived, having on board Capt. Madison's artillery company, with two guns and a good supply of ammunition. This force was increased by the addition of Fishbeem and squad with his unfailing six pounder. We were also joined by some mounted men.

At midnight we were aroused and ordered to fall in. The column was soon in motion. The night was dark, and we stumbled along in a most disagreeable manner over the roots of trees that crossed the road in all directions.

It was amusing to listen to the various conjectures as to our destination. Most of them, however, as is seldom the case, were in the main correct. The principal error consisted in supposing the enemy's force greater than it really was.

Colonel Scott rode or walked along, sometimes giving his horse to a lame soldier, or perhaps taking his gun, and talking all the while in that genial, unaffected manner which made him so great a favorite among the men. We were not sorry that the command of the expedition had been given to him.

About sunrise we arrived at the little village of Atlanta, where we halted in a shady grove to rest.[76] About 2 P. M. the march was resumed. The day was warm and the roads very dusty. There was plenty of water in the wells along the route, but all the men could not procure it without much straggling, and we suffered considerably from thirst. An advanced guard commanded by Lieutenant Call preceded the column half a mile, with a few mounted Home Guards as far in advance of them.

While marching through the little village of Laplata, an incident occurred which excited a good deal of merriment. Lieut. Call had been informed by a citizen who had joined us, that, at a certain house, a hotel in that place, they kept, and frequently displayed, a rebel flag. This the lieutenant resolved to have. He drew up his guard before the house, and went in, followed by his two sergeants, and demanded it. The landlord, a wretched looking creature, avowed his secession sympathies openly, saying, at the same time, that it was honorable to do so, which the lieutenant could not deny. But the lady (here was the rub—easier to capture the colors of a regiment) said the flag had been given to her to make into dresses for the children, that it was private property, and we could not have it. But the lieutenant insisted that a treasonable emblem was contraband of war, and that he must have it. Still she refused; whereupon the lieutenant pointed to the man and said, "Sergeants, take him out." The sergeants clapped their hands on his back, and said, "Come with us, sir!" The children began to shriek, and the old lady cried, "You may have the flag! You may have the flag!" The lieutenant attached it to a lance and presented it to the battalion[77] as it marched up, amid a most furious intermingling of cheers, yells and groans. Thus did the redoubtable advanced guard carry the enemy's town and capture a stand of colors before the arrival of the main force.

In the afternoon, a joke occurred, and it is doubtful whether it rested harder upon Lieutenant Call or the Home Guards in advance. While the lieutenant was marching leisurely along with his guard, a party of the former came riding back, frantic with excitement, and reported having seen the enemy's camp fires not far beyond in the edge of a wood. He put his men on the double quick, and sure enough they soon came in sight of a smoke. It was no humbug, thought they. The Home Guards had seen the enemy. When they had arrived within a convenient distance, the guard was halted, and the lieutenant rode forward at the head of the home guards to reconnoiter. We watched them, breathless with expectation. They rode full on to the enemy's entire force. It consisted of two women washing! Major Stone had just rode up, and when the lieutenant reported his discovery, he indulged in some remarks at his expense, which sounded more appropriate than they would now.

We halted for the night about three miles north of Laplata, near the residence of a Union man, who had an excellent well of water, sufficient to supply the whole force. Mounted pickets were posted on the approaches to our position. We could only account for this unusual precaution on the ground that the man who now had command possessed some common sense. Having refreshed ourselves on such a supper as our[78] haversacks afforded, we spread down our blankets and slept.

At seven o'clock in the morning we again moved. All along the route, home guards continued to join us in squads, large and small, mounted on such horses as they had, and armed with squirrel rifles and shot guns. These men, though patriotic and brave, were without any experience in the business of war, and, for the most part, without organization. On this account we were not supposed to put great reliance on them. They were under the obligation of an oath, and could go and come at pleasure. But they had incentives to action to which we were strangers. They had seen the treason with which we were at war, and dwelt among it. It had assailed our country only; it had not only assailed their country, but their firesides. They had seen its monstrous representatives, robbers, murderers, incendiaries. They had met it on their doorsteps. It had murdered and robbed their friends, and threatened them with like treatment for loving their country. This, now, was their hour of deliverance. They had come to assist strangers against a common enemy. Their homes and possessions appealed to them. Their dear helpless ones stretched their arms imploringly, and seemed to say to them, "We trust in you; save us: be men." They had come to fight without pay, and if necessary, to board themselves. They reported to Colonel Scott, and obeyed his orders without murmuring or hesitation. The strong motives which impelled them to take up arms, and the knowledge that discipline is the strength of an army, made them willing, if not skillful soldiers.


But another fact made them a great auxiliary to us. They knew who among the citizens were friends, and who enemies. They were able to give us valuable information concerning the enemy. Besides they hailed from all sections of the country, and on this account made valuable scouts. But they absolutely knew not what to do; they wanted some one to show them. Jim Call was exactly the man. His every characteristic admirably fitted him to command them. Cool, daring, audacious, always taking the lead and commanding his men to follow, Colonel Scott placed him in this position. Whole companies reported to him, and captains obeyed him with most undoubting confidence.

Our line of march was through lanes, bordered on both sides by cultivated fields, most of the land being planted with corn. The country was a convenient apportionment of timber and prairie, fertile and inviting. The inhabitants seemed well to do, and almost every dwelling had an air of comfort about it, if not of refinement. Indeed, in our subsequent marches in Missouri, we saw few places where this was not the case. We noticed few negroes; and every thing indicated that the labor was carried on by the more willing and skillful hands of free laborers. What could so attach this people to slavery, a system in which they could have little interest, as to induce them to take up arms against their country for its sake, will be a wonder to history as it was to us. As if out of punishment for the wrong done its unfortunate victims, this system is a source of infinite evil to the white man,—a noxious vapor that spreads pestilence in society. Could there be a greater[80] evidence of this than the deplorable state of things in this section of country? The operation of civil law had ceased, justice had no sway, magistrates no authority. Arraigned for offenses against traitors, bands of marauders and assassins were the citizens' only tribunal. Calling themselves soldiers, and under pretense of military necessity, they availed themselves of every opportunity to satiate private malice in theft and robbery, and settle feuds of long standing, perhaps, in blood. As a natural consequence, neighbors were in arms against each other; friends became enemies, and brothers are known to have joined the opposing forces and sought each other's life. An old citizen of Kirksville had a son in the camp of the rebel Green, and another in St. Louis endeavoring to procure arms for a Federal regiment then organizing, and of which he was to be the colonel.

The American people are not stoics. They realize quickly and feel keenly what is transpiring around them, or coming upon them. The people of this section had too much on their minds to allow them to pursue quietly their usual avocations. The younger and the more resolute were rushing, as feeling or choice impelled them, to the camp of the insurgents or the standard of the country. The rest were awaiting the course of events, or watching, each his neighbor, with trembling and hesitation. On the whole day's march we saw but one man at work in the fields. He was loading hay close by the road, and scarcely seemed to notice us as we marched along. His appearance excited the admiration of the boys, some of whom cried out, "bully for you!" Most[81] of the people who showed themselves to us were friends. The women and children saluted us with waving flags, and, in some cases, the men stood armed waiting to join us. One old negro stared at us curiously as we marched along, and cried out, "Gorry mighty! de've got lightnin' rods on der guns! De secesh no stan' dat!"

As we approached Kirksville, we heard all manner of reports concerning the enemy. It was said that he was not far beyond the town and would give us a fight. His force was estimated at from 1,500 to 3,000, with three pieces of cannon. These reports greatly hightened the enthusiasm of the boys, and served to divert their minds from the pain of their blistered feet and the excessive heat and dust of the day.

About noon, we halted three miles from the town, and after a short rest resumed the march. When nearly arrived there, Colonel Scott halted the battalion, brought it to a front, and made some well-timed remarks which were received with great attention. He exhorted us to patient endurance of whatever we would be called on to suffer, and not to let any breach of discipline sully our name. He ended by telling us that we would doubtless soon have an opportunity of meeting the enemy, which raised a great shout, showing the willingness of the men to fight, and their confidence in their commander. Major Stone followed with a few remarks, which excited much enthusiasm. We then entered Kirksville with flags flying, and drums beating Yankee Doodle.

Here we halted and stacked arms. Green was on Salt River, seven miles to the east. Why did we not[82] push on? The reason is this: Colonel Scott's orders were to march to Kirksville and hold the place. He was also to co-operate with Colonel Moore. This officer with his command was somewhere in the vicinity of Athens, and Green was between him and us. Co-operation between two forces with the enemy between them is something unusual in war. If Colonel Scott's force was not sufficient to attack the enemy singly, he certainly should not have been compelled to remain here, exposed to an attack from him. Moreover, we had no subsistence beyond what we had brought in our haversacks, and the rebels had stripped the country of almost everything which could be converted into rations. It is impossible to see the design of this movement.

Our first operation was to establish a guard-house, and arrest a number of disloyal citizens. But these traitors were dismissed on taking the oath of allegiance. We took quarters for the night in vacant buildings belonging to rebel citizens.

The following day we were visited by many citizens; some coming to declare their friendship, some out of curiosity, while some were doubtless spies of the enemy. A few also were refugees from the reign of terror which Green had inaugurated wherever he held sway. About 4 P. M., a report came to Colonel Scott which induced him to send out scouting parties in different directions. Considerable excitement ensued in camp, but nothing transpired. That night, Lieut. Call reconnoitered the enemy's position, and captured two of his mounted pickets. He did this by passing through their lines, and coming upon them from the direction of their camp.[83] He answered their challenge as friends, and then riding up closely with his party at his back, pointed his revolver at them and told them to put down their guns, which they did. They were armed with good looking squirrel rifles, without bayonets, and had curious contrivances for carrying their ammunition. The boys visited the guard house next day, and gazed upon them with much curiosity. They did not look like bad men, said they had been deceived, and seemed very penitent.

"What shall be done with them?" was asked. "Shoot them," said one. "No," said another, "they are traitors, and do not deserve a soldier's death; hang them." Others said, "treat them as prisoners of war. They are ignorant men and believe they are right. Hang the leaders. They are intelligent men, and know they are wrong." Few of the enlisted men were in favor of the policy which was adopted,—though it was at that time in general practice throughout Missouri, viz.: allowing them to take the oath and go.

Lieut. Call found the enemy camped on Salt River bottom, nine miles east of Kirksville. From this time until we left Kirksville, he, at the head of scouting parties composed of Home Guards and volunteers from our regiment, watched the enemy constantly, and kept Colonel Scott advised of his position and movements.

We had no clothing, tents nor camp equipage; but we accommodated ourselves to our situation somehow, and endeavored so far to disregard the presence of the enemy as to renew the routine of camp duty.


But in this we failed; for though we had a short battalion drill on the forenoon of the 19th, something transpired to induce the belief that the enemy was advancing, and we were ordered to be ready to form line of battle at 2 P. M. We swallowed a hasty dinner, when the battalion was formed, and took position in rear (to the west) of the town, behind a rail fence and in the edge of a growth of young timber, behind which stretched for several miles toward Grand River an uninterrupted forest. If this position had the disadvantage of the town before it, which would obstruct our fire and afford shelter to the enemy, it had what was perhaps an advantage, the forest behind it, which would afford cover in case we should be compelled to retreat. We cut brush and piled it against the fence before us, so as effectually to conceal ourselves from view. Behind this breastwork of leaves and boughs we waited. Some thought they could see a column of horsemen moving in the distance past our left. This was probably imagination. We soon gave up all expectation of a fight, and scattered ourselves in knots and groups under the shade trees. The boys were amusing themselves playing cards and telling anecdotes, when a report came in that cast a gloom over many countenances. Corporal Dix, of Company C, was killed. He was leading a small scouting party, and had stopped at the house of a citizen four miles from camp to get dinner, when he was surprised by a small party of the enemy, and after a short, hand to hand fight, was himself killed and his party put to flight. They inflicted some injury upon the rebels; but amid the conflicting statements[85] no definite conclusion on this point could be formed.

Corporal Dix was the first man in our regiment that fell by the hand of the enemy. He was an excellent comrade, and, like every good soldier, desired a name. For this he became a scout, and almost immediately won the admiration of the regiment. It was a misfortune to lose so promising a soldier. There were many commissioned officers in the service worth infinitely less to the country than he. Thus the first sacrifice of our regiment was one of its best and noblest men. A flag of truce brought in his body, and the next evening at sunset, it was buried with military honors.

We remained in this position the following day. This day Captain Hawks' company of Home Guards was organized. It amused our boys greatly to witness this ceremony. The first sergeant commanded the men to "fall in in two rows like the Regulars." The Home Guards called us Regulars. This expression afterwards became a byword in our regiment. The same day a report was brought in by four scouts that Lieut. Call had been cut off by the enemy with his whole party, and that they would be captured. This was true; but by riding a circuit of about twenty miles they escaped, and arrived in camp about midnight.

The following afternoon, the camp was again thrown into a state of excitement by the reported approach of the enemy. The long roll was beaten, and the men fell in under arms. The camp guard, which was a strong one, was dismissed, and the men reported to their[86] respective companies. A party of men appeared in a corn field in front of our position, and approached sufficiently near to draw the fire of our artillery. Four shells sufficed to drive them away. This time we thought there would surely be a fight. The enemy had been seen and shot at. But we soon concluded that it was only a reconnoitering party that had disturbed us, and relapsed into our usual quiet.

The following day a drizzling rain drove us into the town for shelter. The different companies occupied such vacant buildings as suited them best. As we were retiring for the night, we were alarmed by the discharge of a cannon. A party of Home Guards had some cattle in a field, and riding in reported the enemy advancing! Fishbeem, who had been among the first to hear the report, had taken the responsibility of a little artillery practice. The regiment immediately turned out. Battalion was not formed; but the companies were so disposed as to support the cannon which were stationed at the cross streets on the corners of the public square, a part being held in reserve. Captain Madison threw several shells in the direction in which the rebels were supposed to be advancing. It was very foolish thus to waste ammunition, shooting at darkness and air. Fishbeem took the more satisfactory course of firing solid shot at the house of one Purcel, a member of the State Legislature, and a notorious secessionist. This operation had the effect of making a small hole through the upper part of his mansion, and of scaring his negroes nearly out of their wits. Scouts were sent out and searched thoroughly, but found no enemy.[87] Having stood till midnight in a cold, drenching rain, we were allowed to go to our quarters.

The next morning a citizen brought a report that Colonel Smith, coming to reinforce us, had been attacked at Laplata. Several companies and a piece of cannon were immediately got ready to reinforce him, when another arrival contradicted this report, and stated that General Hurlbut was coming to join us with a large force. This proved to be true. His force consisted of the Sixteenth Illinois, and a two pounder cannon named "Old Abe." Our regiment was formed in line, and as our General approached at the head of his little column, we received him with presented arms, the artillery at the same time firing a salute.

We now had hopes that the assurance Colonel Scott had given us before marching into Kirksville would shortly be realized. The arrival of reinforcements sufficient to double our present force, together with the commanding general, we looked upon as an earnest of immediate action. We did not now stop to inquire into the policy which had kept us a week in the presence of a superior force of the enemy without support, and in a destitute condition. We thought we understood why we had not attacked the enemy: because we had not been allowed to do so. But we did not understand why we had received no supplies. We only knew that when the expedition was getting ready to start from Brookfield, Colonel Williams had said that we were only to be gone three days. He would not allow Quartermaster Clark to accompany it; and it was only at the urgent request of Colonel Scott, Quartermaster[88] Sergeant Mix was allowed to do so. In procuring subsistence from the country, the services of the latter were invaluable.

As it was evident to us that so far the whole thing had been badly managed by some one higher in command than Colonel Scott; our complaints would now have entirely ceased, had it not been for the fact that the only things which had come to us with these reinforcements in the way of supplies, were a few camp utensils. Thus we were almost as destitute as before. But we were willing to endure anything, if it would result in victory.

The enlisted men now expected nothing else than to be led against the rebels. Not one of us doubted the result. The same evening our force was augmented by the arrival of 150 Home Guards from the northern border of the State. It now consisted of 400 Home Guards, 1,200 Infantry, and four pieces of cannon. Surely there would be no delay now. We almost felt the exultation of victory. Let us see how we were disappointed.



Lieut. Call reconnoiters and reports the enemy's position—Col. Scott desires to attack him with the Third Iowa, the Home Guards, and the Artillery—General Hurlbut declines his consent—Dangers of such a movement—Disappointment of the men—The General reviews the troops—And issues a proclamation—He sends it by flag of truce to Green's camp—Green don't see the point, but takes the hint and gets ready to leave—The General issues an order against plundering—Further details of our condition—A detachment goes to Lancaster after supplies—Escape and pursuit of Green—Details of the march—Suffering, straggling and plundering—Night at Wilsonsville—Night at Bear Creek—Scouts from Moore—Junction with Moore at Bethel—Appearance of that place—Character and hospitality of the inhabitants—Change of plans—Moore and Smith pursue the enemy; Hurlbut and Scott move directly toward the railroad—Noon at Shelbyville—Another proclamation—A man straggles ahead of the column and is shot by bushwhackers—Night at Shelbina—The situation—We proceed to Brookfield.

On the evening of General Hurlbut's arrival at Kirksville, Lieut. Call reconnoitered Green's camp and the approaches to it. Since our arrival at this place, he had changed his camp to another point on Salt River bottom, several miles south. One main road, crossing this stream in an east and west direction, ran through it. Thus it could be approached from front and rear. It was about fourteen miles distant. The road approaching it from the rear could be gained by performing a detour of[90] seven or eight miles. His camp was surrounded by a high range of hills over which he could not retreat without the loss of his baggage and artillery. Hence, in case of his defeat, if these two roads were held with sufficient force, his entire materiel would fall into our hands. It would require only a simultaneous attack on these two roads to insure a speedy and decisive victory. It was ten o'clock at night when Lieut. Call reported the result of his reconnoissance. Colonel Scott immediately requested General Hurlbut to allow him to march that night and attack the enemy with his own regiment, the mounted Missourians and Madison's artillery. The news of this proposal spread quickly among the men. We expected nothing else than an immediate night march upon the enemy. The enthusiasm was unbounded. Meanwhile the General was consulting with Col. Scott and one or two other officers. Most of the officers of our regiment were in favor of Col. Scott's proposition. Whatever doubts they may have entertained of our ability to cope with the large force Green had gathered, they knew that nothing less than a victory would quiet the murmurs of their men, and repay them for the needless sufferings they had undergone. But General Hurlbut was of a different mind. He thought that the Sixteenth having marched sixteen miles that day, would not be in a condition to fight after marching sixteen more. There was much truth in this, although its importance might not have been appreciated at that time. To Colonel Scott's request to be allowed to march and attack the enemy with his own force, the mounted Missourians and Madison's artillery, he at first assented. But soon after,[91] a lieutenant of the artillery came in with a groundless report that Green had received reinforcements. This determined the General not to run the risk of dividing his command. Besides, he is said to have made a remark which induced the belief that he expected aid from General Pope. It may be that the consideration of co-operation from Col. Moore had some influence on this decision.

At all events, it is doubtful whether it would have been safe to allow Col. Scott to move as he desired. Night is a poor time to fight battles. A single mistake, caused by the darkness, might bring about the heaviest disasters. To attack an enemy in the night, unless the attacking party is thoroughly acquainted with his situation, is exchanging probability for chance. Our enemy was constantly on the alert, and Colonel Scott could not hope to surprise him. His force was camped in a dense forest, and Colonel Scott did not know the ground. To attack him in the rear, he would be compelled to make a circuit of more than twenty miles before gaining the required position. This would place Green between him and Hurlbut at Kirksville, in a central position between two forces which united were numerically inferior to his own. Colonel Scott would not have attempted to divide so small a force to attack Green at once in front and rear. Had he moved at all, he would have moved in but one way—directly upon the enemy, with his force united and Hurlbut at Kirksville at his back. This plan might have succeeded, but the risk would have been great. But there is no doubt that if General Hurlbut had moved in the morning with his now united[92] force, he would have compelled the enemy's retreat or beaten him badly if he had stood.

When his decision not to allow Colonel Scott to move that night was known, we were ordered to stack arms and go to sleep. The order was sulkily given and as sulkily obeyed. But we went to sleep in the hope that an advance would take place next day.

Instead of fulfilling our expectations, next day Gen. Hurlbut did two things, both of which were generally considered out of place. He reviewed the troops, and issued a proclamation to the insurgents. The review would have been well enough, if it had not been so near the enemy. I have no desire to comment on the proclamation more than to say that we were at a loss to conjecture the motives which dictated it. In it he proposed to visit every county seat in his district with an armed force, and there establish a committee of citizens of both parties, and make them responsible for the preservation of the peace in their counties. As far as we could learn, this proposition was not less obnoxious to the Union men than to the rebels. He concluded by offering all armed bands of the enemy five days in which to lay down their arms, and should they fail to do so in that time, he would convince them of the perils of pursuing this irregular warfare.

There was a printing office in town, that of the Kirksville Democrat, a rebel sheet, whose editor had fled at our approach. This had been taken possession of by some members of the Third Iowa, who proposed issuing a sheet of a different character. This was fortunate for the General, as it afforded him means of publishing his[93] proclamation. A number of copies were sent by flag of truce to the insurgents! Green doubtless chuckled over this, while General Hurlbut's officers and men gnashed their teeth with rage. Those five days were days of grace to Green. He believed General Hurlbut would not move against him till the expiration of that time. He employed it in completing his preparations to get away. Meanwhile, we lay at Kirksville doing nothing, the General probably waiting for his proclamation to ferment.

The Sixteenth on their march hither, if we may believe their own accounts, had been pretty free in the use of property belonging to citizens. After their arrival at Kirksville, a store had been broken open and robbed. This called forth an order from the General, announcing that any soldier of his command who should break open a private house or store for the purpose of robbery, should be "shot at once." There was doubtless a demand for an order of this kind, but we thought that a threat less violent would have answered the purpose equally well.

On the 25th, we attended religious exercises in the open air, and heard an army chaplain preach for the first time since entering the service. The meeting took place in the grove where we were then bivouacked, behind our breastworks of brush. The sermon was preached by the chaplain of the Sixteenth. It seemed strange, indeed, to see men with weapons of death by their sides, mingling their voices with the aged and innocent, in praise to the same God. It seemed a monstrous inconsistency. But nature is full of inconsistencies.[94] The God that gives joy to innocence, swallows up cities with earthquakes.

As has been said, we were compelled to subsist on the country. Sergeant Mix was careful to impress nothing except from enemies. A bakery was taken possession of, and men detailed to run it. This furnished us with an insufficient supply of corn bread. The Union people of Kirksville treated us with great hospitality, and did all they could to promote our comfort. But they could not furnish us with shoes in place of those we had worn out, or with shirts in place of those we had left behind. These things must be taken from the enemy. Accordingly, an expedition, consisting of Companies I and B, of our regiment, under Major Stone, proceeded to the town of Lancaster, about thirty miles to the north, near the Iowa State line, and impressed from rebel citizens several wagon-loads of boots, shoes and the like, which were distributed among those who needed them most.

General Hurlbut issued his proclamation on the 26th. On the 30th, Green began to retreat toward the south. The same morning orders were issued to the troops at Kirksville to be ready to move. We were ready to all appearance to take up the march at an early hour; but, for some reason, the departure of the column was delayed till nearly noon. Meanwhile a rumor circulated through the ranks that Green had gone; and, in our mortification and rage, we could assign but one reason for this delay; we said that the General wished to make an outward show of courage by pursuing, but did not wish to overtake the enemy. There seemed to[95] be an universal murmur against him. No one spoke in defense of him or attempted to justify his measures. Who would then have believed that under this same man we were destined to be led to honor and glory? We can not but suppose that he was either trammeled by his orders, or laboring like Bonaparte at Borodino, under some strange spell of mental lassitude. Nothing less could have made such a failure of him who was to be the honored General of the Fourth Division and Sixteenth Army Corps.

At 11 A. M., the column moved; the direction was southeast toward the late camp of Green. The most unpleasant feature of the day's march was, that we had nothing to eat. The day was quite hot, and the roads dusty. The country through which we passed was not as thickly settled as between Macon and Kirksville, and it was consequently difficult for the men to procure water. They straggled from the ranks in great numbers, and ran to the wells, at every one of which would take place a scene of indescribable greediness and confusion. A bucket of water would be drawn, and a hundred men would endeavor to get their canteens into it. A score of hungry wolves wrangling over one carcass, would scarcely be an adequate comparison. Hunger oppressed as much as thirst, and from the wells crowds would rush into the houses. What could be procured by asking, was taken. But the column was moving on. There was scarcely time to ask; and, in many cases, the people were too much frightened to answer, or to keep track of the confusion of questions with which they were assailed. In such cases the soldier[96] seized whatever he could see that he could eat, and hurried on. As the day wore away, these matters grew worse. Taking advantage of these circumstances, acts of unlicensed plundering took place, which would disgrace troops under any circumstances. Many gave out and fell behind the column without the hope (and sometimes with little expectation) of overtaking it, till it should halt for the night. Some of these were most dangerous plunderers. No longer under the control of their officers, and counting every citizen an enemy, they committed acts which they will be ashamed to remember, and which I have no desire to record.

Under ordinary circumstances, the less revolting acts of this kind which attended this march would be deserving of no apology. But most of them in this case were caused by absolute hunger. We had not had enough to eat since arriving at Kirksville, and now that we had begun a vigorous march our hunger was almost insufferable. Surely it is not hard then to understand that we could not resist taking food from hostile citizens. General Hurlbut used his best endeavors to correct these irregularities; but, in consequence of a hurt he had received on the day of the review, he was compelled to ride in a buggy, and was not able to put forth much exertion.

A march of sixteen miles brought us at dark to the little town of Wilsonsville, where we halted for the night. Some bread that had been baked at Kirksville and brought along was issued to us. There was not enough for supper and breakfast, but it helped us greatly. The quartermaster promised us fresh beef, but it was slow, very slow in coming. Our patience became exhausted.[97] In place of beef we took chickens. The town and surrounding country were our commissariat. We sent in no returns. We needed no issuing clerk. We drew from the henroosts by the tail. A strong camp guard was established with orders to let no one out except at the gate with vessels for water. But we found it very easy to go out, with a camp kettle for water, and to return with chicken soup all ready, except what could be done by fire and seasoning. Thus we behaved that night at Wilsonsville; and though we were very quiet about our depredations, and limited ourselves to supplying our actual wants, the people pronounced us vandals. But they saw only the outward manifestation; they knew nothing of the inward cause.

The column moved at daylight, our regiment in advance. A march of eighteen miles brought us to Bear creek, a tributary of Salt river, where we bivouacked in a timbered bottom. Again, as last night, we had nothing in our haversacks to eat. There were but two or three houses near, and guards were placed over them to prevent plundering, and we were compelled to wait till something was issued to us. Food came at last, in the shape of some fresh mutton and musty corn meal. We stewed the meat, made the meal into mush, and ate them both fresh; for we had no salt. Many were then suffering from diarrhœa, and were unable to eat their food at all; but went to sleep without supper hoping to be able to procure something they could eat at the houses we should pass, and so endure the march. The dust had filled our shoes, and there were few among us whose feet were not blistered. The creek on which we[98] were camped, like all the streams of North Missouri, was muddy and full of logs. But its waters were cool and afforded us a bath, which, under the circumstances, was indeed a luxury.

Several days previous to our departure from Kirksville, we had had rumors of Colonel Moore marching from Edina to join us. Some may have supposed that General Hurlbut was waiting for Moore to march upon Green from the opposite direction, and that his proclamation was intended to delay the retreat of the latter, till this could be effected. Events were transpiring which tended to make this supposition probable. Scouts arrived during the night from Colonel Moore, with the information that he was marching in the direction of Bethel in pursuit of Green. This news was very cheering, although we knew that Grant was twenty-five miles ahead of us, and that his force being mounted, we could not possibly overtake him.

At eight in the morning, we resumed the march, and having proceeded about thirteen miles arrived at two in the afternoon, at Bethel, a beautiful free labor village, inhabited entirely by Germans. These people seemed, indeed, models of good citizens. Every one seemed comfortable and prosperous. Their town was built of brick, and there was no air of dilapidation about it such as characterizes nearly all the interior towns of the South. The reason was obvious—there were no negro huts adjacent to the comfortable residences. Vice accompanies indolence whether among rich or poor; virtue is the companion of industry. There never was a better illustration of this truth than this little community.[99] They seemed to live in perfect harmony with themselves and the world around them. Hitherto, they had taken little or no part in the war. True to the thinking, honest character of the German, they had sat unmoved, and watched the strife around them, and smoked their pipes and thought. We call them phlegmatic; but while thus unmoved, they were moved the most. Every feature of the struggle must be submitted to the slow scrutiny of reason, and every motive which the struggle stirred within them, to the great magistrate, Conscience. This magistrate gave his decisions with the slowness of Justice. When he had answered all these questions they would be prepared to act. And when they began to act, the zeal of self-approbation would quicken them; the "fire of God" would fill them; nothing could cause them to halt or falter.

They fulfilled the Scriptures in point of obeying "the powers that be." Yesterday Martin Green was the commanding power; to-day, it was General Hurlbut. Yesterday Green had passed through their town; his people, they said, had treated them quite civilly. No wonder; such a community should be the pride of any people. Brigands would scarcely have done less. Like sensible people, they knew it was best to submit with patience to evils they could not resist. Green wanted flour and meal; he took all they had in their mill, and paid them in rebel State scrip, to which they knew it was useless to demur. They behaved towards his men with respect. It was an honest respect, but it was also that respect which is always inspired by power.


But it was plain to see which party had their sympathies. They heard of our approach some time before our arrival. They threw open their doors and spread their boards. Foot-sore, weary and weak with hunger, we entered their village,—they had enough to eat for all. They came out to meet us,—men, women and children; and, in that plain, artless way which tells that the heart speaks and does not deceive, invited us into their houses to eat and to rest. We halted and stacked arms. There was no need of a soldier being without an invitation. He could not walk half way through the town without being asked by a dozen different persons. And if any one should be so unfortunate as not to be noticed, he had but to present himself at a door-step, and what he wanted was known immediately. At least, he would not be long in divining what was wanted of him; for another plate would make its appearance on the table as soon as there was room for it. Then there would be a nod or a motion to him to sit down and eat. Such was the applause with which they greeted us. It needed no display of flags or white handkerchiefs to tell us where their hearts were.

We had not been here long when Colonel Moore arrived with seven or eight hundred men, and bivouacked near the town. This fresh arrival did not discourage the good citizens, but rather increased their hospitable efforts. Before night every man of General Hurlbut's column had received a substantial dinner and supper, and Colonel Moore's men a supper, and many were likewise furnished with lodgings. This was no mock hospitality like that of the Slave aristocracy. There[101] was no pride or pompousness about it,—only a smile of satisfaction at whatever was accepted,—an evidence that it was good done for its own sake. The soldier received the same as the officer. No one stopped to ask him what his rank was. It was sufficient to know that he was a soldier and that he was hungry.

I believe that our behavior towards these people was in all respects creditable. We parted as we had met, friends. They taught us a lesson and gave us something to remember. The recollection is still in our minds; the lesson still in our hearts.

Soon after Colonel Moore's arrival a new plan of operations was determined upon. Smith and Moore were to pursue the enemy who had retreated toward the railroad in the direction of Monroe, while the General with our regiment, Madison's artillery, and such of the Sixteenth as were judged unable to further endure the march, were to proceed directly south and strike the railroad at Shelbina. This plan of course comprehended the idea of abandoning the pursuit as soon as we should reach the railroad; for it was evident we should not overtake Green.

In Smith and Moore General Hurlbut had yoked together two characters directly opposite. Smith was tardy and irresolute; Moore fiery, energetic and hopeful. The one would push ahead with might and main; the other would drag behind. "Come," said Moore to Smith, that night at the hotel, "a big work is before us; and we have no time to lose." Smith replied, with two or three whiffs of his pipe, and Moore dragged him along.

Reveille sounded at an early hour. We breakfasted[102] as we had supped, with the good people of Bethel. About 8 o'clock our column moved in the direction of Shelbyville, county seat of Shelby county. This place, only five miles distant, was reached by ten o'clock, and we halted, and under the luxuriant shade trees of the court house square rested, while General Hurlbut got out another proclamation! I need not say what the officers and men thought of this. If the General did not know, it was not their fault.

About 2 P. M. we again moved. As we were about to march, we received the startling intelligence that a member of our regiment who had straggled ahead had been shot. This proved to be true. Three men had straggled ahead when the column halted, and when about three miles from Shelbyville, had been waylaid by citizens, and one of them shot dead, another slightly wounded, while the third escaped and brought back the report. This accident induced the precaution of throwing out skirmishers while passing through the spaces of timber that lay across our route. This was soon abandoned, it being concluded that the accident was only the work of malicious citizens. We passed the body of our unfortunate comrade as we walked along. It was a visible and solemn lesson to those who were not disposed to respect discipline and obey orders. It was put in a wagon and brought with us. We buried it next morning with the usual honors.

About five o'clock a storm came up from the northwest, and the rain fell in torrents. This only hightened the boys' glee. Our gait was accelerated, and with loud yells and constant peals of laughter, we entered Shelbina.[103] It was quite late before we could draw any rations; and the occurrences of the night at Wilsonsville were repeated, and perhaps in a more aggravated manner.

The next morning broke misty and lowry. But by nine o'clock it had cleared off, and the face of nature again looked cheerful. What was now the situation? Green had crossed the railroad near Monroe and was continuing his retreat. He had a wide field before him; but if all the means by which he could have crossed the Missouri had been seized, and a vigorous pursuit continued, he might have been captured or his band dispersed. At the same time Colonel Williams was in the direction of Paris, returning from an expedition which we will discuss in the next chapter. Nevertheless, we did not stay to support him; but leaving him to the mercy of Green who, there was every reason to believe, would proceed in that direction, we got aboard two trains of cars and moved toward Brookfield. We had proceeded but two or three miles when the train in advance was fired into by a concealed enemy. About thirty shots were fired; but no one was hurt. We halted a short time and made an unsuccessful search for them.

When we arrived at Brookfield we found that our tents had been occupied in the absence of Colonel Williams, by recruits for Colonel Morgan's regiment. We were admonished by the sick comrades we found here to give them a thorough cleansing before going into them. But in spite of all our efforts in this direction, we soon had the felicity of making the acquaintance of that charming little insect with whose habits and instincts every soldier is supposed to be familiar.



The expedition to Paris—The forces engaged in it—Details of the movement to that place—Conduct of Colonel Williams and Lieut. Col. Blair, while there—They return rapidly to Shelbina—Green pursues and confronts them with a large force—Details of the affair at Shelbina—Colonel Williams retreats to Hudson, where he meets General Hurlbut with reinforcements—The propriety of the retreat discussed—The account of the Rebellion Record.

While we were marching from Kirksville to Shelbina, Colonel Williams received an order, it is said, from General Fremont, the precise nature of which I am not able to give. However, he collected his available force, which consisted of the fifty well men left at Brookfield by Colonel Scott, as many of the sick as had convalesced during the subsequent two weeks, and sixty men of Company C, who had been watching the enemy in the vicinity of St. Joseph. With this force he proceeded to Hannibal, where he was joined by six companies, or rather by a remnant of six companies of the gallant Second Kansas, decimated by losses at Springfield and the sufferings of the hard campaign of the Southwest, and now returning home by this route to recruit their numbers and rest. This battalion, one company of which was mounted, together with a company of Missouri cavalry under Captain Dolan, increased his force to 630 men; with which he returned as far as[105] Shelbina, where he arrived at nightfall, and leaving the cars began an immediate night march toward Paris, the county seat of Monroe county, a flourishing inland town, where he arrived about daybreak and bivouacked for the day. Learning from reliable citizens that the enemy was in the vicinity with 1,200 men, he threw out pickets in the outskirts of town, and sent out the cavalry to reconnoiter. The latter had an affray with the enemy, and lost an officer captured.

That night both Colonel Williams and Lieut. Colonel Blair, were too much under the influence of liquor to be in a condition to command men. Colonel Williams is said to have behaved most ridiculously. He had his headquarters in the office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court. He told his officers that the force was in imminent danger of attack, and that they must not think of sleeping during the night. As to himself, he was so worn out with fatigue and anxiety, that it would be absolutely necessary for him to get a little sleep in order to be prepared for emergencies that might arise! The officers of the Third Iowa consulted together and decided that Colonel Williams was not in a fit condition to continue in command. Whereupon they reported this fact to Major Cloud, who informed them that Lieut. Col. Blair was in a like condition, and that he had already assumed command of the Kansas troops, and would assume command of the whole force; on which they mutually agreed to obey him should anything occur during the night. Before morning the camp was alarmed by the firing of the pickets, and the troops took position for action. Colonel Williams is said to have[106] rode around the lines and delivered a few drunken orders, which were not heeded, the officers obeying Major Cloud.

Whatever we may say in justification of Colonel Williams' conduct on the following day, we do not attempt to justify this night's debauch. In this, both he and Lieut. Col. Blair committed a fault for which they should have been dismissed from the service. It was one of those faults which amount to a high crime. They got drunk in the presence of a superior enemy, and when they were expecting him to attack the forces under their command. That was the crime. The situation of this little force at best was a dangerous one. That very day Green crossed the railroad in his retreat from Hurlbut. That he united with the rebel force in the vicinity of Paris, and designed attacking Williams while in this isolated position, subsequent events place beyond doubt. Had the latter remained at Paris till noon the following day, it is certain that Green would have inflicted a heavy disaster upon him.

As it was, he began to retreat early in the morning toward Shelbina. The promptness and rapidity of this movement, can not be placed to his credit; for, though he had reason to believe he was followed, he had no knowledge of the presence of Green. He arrived at Shelbina about 2 P. M., and learned, doubtless with regret, of the departure of Hurlbut and Scott from that place for Brookfield the previous day.

He had not been here half an hour when a heavy cloud of dust made its appearance in the direction whence he had come; and soon the head of a column of cavalry began to emerge from the long line of timber[107] which skirts the prairie of Shelbina about four miles to the south. This column, lengthening as it emerged, came stretching over the prairie, devouring, in expectation, the little band that was waiting to receive it. Through this prairie runs a small brook, in the valley of which the enemy disappeared in column and then reappeared, a formidable line of battle a mile in length, stretching to the north of the road and steadily advancing; at the same time bodies of troops began to appear to the south of the road, which, when deployed, extended so far as to reach the railroad to the east. The enemy now presented, with two or three slight intervals, a line of battle two miles in length, behind which could be seen, with the aid of a glass, a line of infantry a half mile in length drawn up as a reserve. Green then planted two pieces of cannon at different points, and sent to Colonel Williams by flag of truce a demand for the surrender of his force, giving him half an hour to decide. "Go to h——l!" is said to have been the laconic response of the Colonel. He then ordered the women and children out of the town.

Meanwhile he had been barricading the principal streets with lumber and rubbish to protect his men from the fire of small arms. At the expiration of the half hour, all eyes were strained with expectation in the direction of the enemy. A burst of smoke enveloped one of his pieces, and a nine pounder shot came screeching through the air. After several discharges with this, he opened with his second piece, and his extended flank began to advance, and close slowly toward our right and left. The cavalry and two light companies of the[108] Kansas battalion made two or three slight demonstrations toward the enemy. An engine and a car filled with men went to the east and disturbed his flank resting upon the railroad. He made a demonstration on the railroad toward the right; but an engine with two cars filled with men went out and drove him off.

When the enemy first made his appearance, Colonel Williams telegraphed to General Hurlbut a statement of his condition, to which the General replied, telling him to hold out, and promising to reinforce him before night. Two hours and a half had now elapsed without tidings of any assistance. The enemy was advancing his pieces and drawing his lines so as to envelop our flanks, and the situation was evidently becoming critical. The Colonel called together his officers and asked their advice. They were unanimously of the opinion that it was best to move on the cars out of range of the enemy and await the promised reinforcements. But Lieut. Col. Blair and Major Cloud expressed their determination to retreat with their battalion at all events. Col. Williams then said that if he could not induce the Kansas troops to remain, he would not remain with his own men. He therefore ordered a retreat. The men got hastily aboard the cars, leaving behind two or three baggage wagons and a small quantity of camp equipage. The enemy, before he discovered this movement, got his artillery quite close behind the screen of a cornfield, and began to throw grape and canister. The two trains moved rapidly toward the west, the cavalry galloping along on the side opposite the enemy. When the trains reached Clarence, the first station west of Shelbina, and[109] twelve miles distant from it, they halted. But instead of waiting reinforcements here, the cavalry got hastily aboard the flat cars, and the retreat was continued with every evidence that some one was greatly frightened. When Colonel Williams arrived at Hudson (Macon City), he found General Hurlbut there with about 250 men on the way to reinforce him. General Hurlbut called the Colonel and his officers to account for their conduct on this occasion, and his personal conduct greatly increased the feeling against him, both among the officers and men.

Col. Williams has been greatly censured on account of this retreat from Shelbina, and there may have been some disposed to attach a stigma to our regiment in consequence of it. At least the name of a regiment always suffers more or less with that of its commanding officer. If the Colonel was to blame, his officers, and particularly Colonel Blair and Major Cloud were not less so; the former for advising him to retreat; the two latter for refusing to remain with him with the troops under their command. That he did not await General Hurlbut at Clarence is altogether inexplicable. In continuing the retreat beyond that place in the manner in which it was done, there is every evidence of panic and fright. Nothing could have been lost then by waiting the arrival of reinforcements, or the approach of night or the enemy. This would have supported the confidence of the men, and given it, in the eyes of the public, the appearance of an orderly retreat, instead of a disgraceful flight. If he had waited till night, without the appearance either of reinforcements or of the enemy, it[110] might have been wiser then to resume the retreat than to run the risk of waking up in the morning to find himself surrounded, as Colonel Smith had been at Monroe, with the track torn up and the wires cut on either side of him. This undoubtedly would have happened to him, had he held out and remained that night at Shelbina. In passing judgment on this affair, we have to consider, first, that to hold out against a superior enemy hightens the morale of troops; and that it especially discourages men to be compelled to retreat from troops for whom they have a settled contempt, such as lawless insurgents, poorly disciplined and armed, and whom they have come to suppress; and, second, that a successful retreat, from whatever enemy, discourages them less than a disaster. Finally, considering the threatening approach of the enemy in such numbers, the non-arrival of reinforcements, and particularly the refusal of the Kansas field officers to remain, we can not see wherein Colonel Williams was to blame in abandoning Shelbina; but the flight from Clarence demands an explanation which has never been given to the men of the Third Iowa, who suffered a share in the general disgrace. A more resolute commander, one whose conduct on this occasion, as well as previously, had been such as to inspire the respect of all his subordinates, would not have given up the place without a severe fight. Before what happened in this case, the example of Sigel at Carthage or Mulligan at Lexington, would have been far preferable. The whole thing was badly managed. Hurlbut was to blame for not remaining at Shelbina the day before to support Williams. Williams[111] was to blame for drunkenness at Paris, and for the imbecility of calling a council of officers during the progress of the action. And again, Hurlbut was to blame for not reinforcing him more promptly and with a larger force. To show how this affair figures in history, I give the account found in the Rebellion Record, which is also found in the N. Y. Commercial of September 10, 1861:

"This afternoon, Col. N. G. Williams, with eleven hundred troops, Kansas and Iowa Third, was attacked at Shelbina, Mo., by Martin Green, with from fifteen hundred to two thousand troops. Green commenced firing upon them with two pieces of artillery, and kept up fire for about one and a half hours. One man, (Federal), had his leg taken off with a cannon ball. Col. Williams retreated on two trains to Hudson, Mo., leaving a number of horses and a part of his camp utensils in the hands of the rebels. Col. Williams had no artillery. General Hurlbut got as far as Hudson, Mo., from Brookfield, with two hundred and fifty men, to reinforce Williams. When he arrived there, Williams was at Clarence on his retreat."

Our only comment on this is that Lieut. Schrader, acting commissary for the force, stated that he issued rations for 630 men, and that Green, after receiving the reinforcements which joined him south of the railroad, not including the riffraff who joined him for the occasion, could not have had less than 3,000; nor could he have made so formidable display of numbers with a less force. The casualty mentioned was that of a captain of the Kansas troops, who had his foot taken off by a cannon ball while attempting to rally some Missourians.



We break up camp at Brookfield and proceed toward Shelbina—Junction with Smith and Moore—General Pope assumes command—Hurlbut and Williams proceed to St. Louis in arrest—Pope leads a night march against Green at Florida—Feelings of the troops—Circumstances of that affair—Report of General Fremont concerning it—We return to the railroad and proceed to Macon—Arrival of Generals Pope and Sturgis at that point—Prospects of active movements.

The men who had been with Scott at Kirksville were not allowed as much time to rest as they had expected. On the morning of September 6th, we broke up camp at Brookfield, got aboard a train of cars with our baggage and effects, and moving eastward, arrived at Hudson a little before sunset. Here we found Colonel Williams and his Shelbina command, the detachment of the Sixteenth which General Hurlbut had moved to reinforce him, and the Second Kansas, who had just got aboard a train of cars, and were about to start for their previous destination, their homes. The latter told prodigious stories of the battle of Springfield, and we looked upon them with the respect usually given to veterans.

The other troops at Hudson were not yet ready to move; but Colonel Scott pushed on and halted for the night at Clarence. It was quite dark when we reached that place, and we experienced not a little difficulty in[113] getting our effects separated properly, and putting ourselves in a situation to pass the night. The greatest trouble was, that we had scarcely anything to eat. But the town had plenty of henroosts, and our ready hands supplied the deficiency. There were some apprehensions, but no positive tidings of the enemy. Early in the morning, a construction train went forward with a guard of thirty men in command of a sergeant.

After Colonel Williams retreated from Shelbina, the enemy had ventilated his rage upon the innocent railroad by tearing up the track, burning culverts, and pulling down the wires for several miles either way from that place. The principal damage done was in the burning of the Salt river bridge, between Shelbina and Hunnewell. The day was spent in repairing these damages, and at night, the forces which had spent the previous night at Clarence and Macon under Hurlbut, Williams and Scott, formed junction with those of Smith and Moore, approaching from the opposite direction. Our regiment, again united, and under Colonel Williams, moved forward early in the night to Hunnewell.

Meanwhile we learned to our great joy that General Pope had arrived from the North Missouri Railway and assumed command of the forces on this road; and it was rumored that he would proceed immediately against Green, who was encamped in the vicinity of Florida, a day's march to the southwest. The rumor was correct; and he would have moved that night, if Colonel Smith had not been too long in getting back from Shelbina.


As might have been expected, the operations of the Federal forces in northeast Missouri, which the last two chapters have attempted to describe, discouraged the Union people and created a general feeling of disappointment against General Hurlbut, both among citizens and soldiers. Both the General and Colonel Williams were the following morning relieved from their commands, and started for St. Louis under arrest.

Daylight found the whole force assembled at Hunnewell under Pope. We waited anxiously to see what he would do. He still hoped to surprise Green. But he knew that the spies of the latter might watch him, and he accordingly adopted a ruse to deceive them. He laid out his camp in regular order, established a brigade camp guard, with Major Stone as officer of the day, and, as far as outward appearances could show, made preparations to remain at Hunnewell for some time. The ruse deceived his own soldiers, who shook their heads and did not like the appearance of things at all. It doubtless likewise deceived the enemy.

All at once, a little before sunset, up came an order to put four days' rations on the wagons and get ready to march immediately. At dusk the column took up the march in a splendid manner. Every step was elastic, and every heart was full of joy and hope. We were about to do now what we had longed to do at Kirksville. Nothing but some egregious blunder on our part, or extreme watchfulness on the part of the enemy, would hinder success.

But General Pope, notwithstanding his skill and[115] energy, had made one mistake. He had taken too long a train. Two days' rations would have sufficed instead of four. Should he succeed in surprising the enemy, the fight would not last long. Should the enemy retreat either before or after a fight, it would be useless to pursue, unless it were intended to undertake a general pursuit. The wagons, continually halting, embarrassed and impeded the march. Had the train been half as long, we could have moved with much more rapidity and ease.

After keeping the main road two or three hours, we followed by-roads or moved over fields and rough prairies, which rendered the marching tiresome in the extreme. About three o'clock in the morning we crossed Salt river and found ourselves in the streets of Florida. The different battalions twisted themselves together in all possible confusion, and the men, heedless of everything, threw themselves down in all manner of shapes to rest.

But where was Green? He was camped on a wooded bottom three miles below, and the road leading to his camp was on the opposite (east) side of the river. Only three miles off and we were halting! Was it to take rest before falling upon him? or had General Pope missed the way? Probably the latter; for we soon countermarched, crossed the bridge and moved rapidly down the river. Was the enemy there? The citizens said, yes. An old negro, who gazed at us with astonishment, said they were there last night. Soon we heard the crack of muskets. They were certainly there; for Lieut. Call was driving in their pickets.[116] It was our hour of glory. What had we to fear? We were three regiments and four pieces of cannon besides the Home Guards, and following a brave and skillful leader. They were a half organized horde, armed with citizen's rifles and shot guns. Soon we would have victory for the stigmas and sufferings of the past. Seldom have men felt more joy.

Suddenly we were in the enemy's camp; but the enemy was not there. Our feelings experienced a sudden shock of disappointment. Victory, glory,—a moment ago almost within our possession, now lost. Each man felt as though he had suddenly lost a fortune. But this is a tame comparison; for what is money compared with the reward of the soldier who participates in a successful battle? The enemy was gone; he had taken everything. Nothing was left but a United States baggage wagon, about ten bushels of unshelled corn and a broken shot gun. A few coals smoldered beneath the ashes of his camp-fires. Every thing indicated that his scouts had informed him of the movements against him, and that he had evacuated early in the night.

Those who participated in this affair will not recall without a smile the report of General Fremont to Adjutant General Townsend concerning it. It represented Pope as having defeated Green, capturing his baggage, besides recapturing that lost by our forces at Shelbourne (Shelbina); that his infantry was exhausted but his cavalry pursued. It is needless to say, that these statements were entirely without foundation. The only cavalry the General had was a few Home Guards,[117] armed with muskets and mounted on farm horses. It is true that they pursued; but they did not overtake the enemy. It is also true that the infantry pursued; that is, a great many small straggling parties went out in the direction of the enemy, levied contributions of warm meals upon the inhabitants, and captured animals of various sizes, from chickens in pin feathers up to horses. General Pope observed this conduct on the part of his men with deep regret. But he doubtless felt a little indulgent toward us, as every good commander will feel toward his men when they have done something praiseworthy.

His men needed rest. He accordingly posted no infantry guard—only kept his mounted men on the line of the enemy's retreat. This will account for an incident which occurred during the afternoon, and of which my comrades have a vivid recollection. A party of rebels, probably a detachment of Green's main force, rode leisurely into our camp. Colonel Moore was the first to discover them, and to recognize them as enemies. He sprang to the nearest stack of guns, seized a musket, and fired at the advanced man, giving him a mortal wound in the breast. A number of soldiers imitated his example, and another man was wounded; but the remainder fled in amazement and consternation. Toward night the column marched back to Florida and camped. Here, also, a number of depredations were committed on the property of rebel citizens. Consequently for the return march the following day, General Pope issued an order requiring the commandants of regiments to ride in the rear of their respective commands,[118] and allow no soldier to leave the ranks except in case of absolute necessity; and that whoever should break ranks to plunder should be shot. This order did not sound at all pleasant to some of us, but it was nevertheless obeyed. The march was begun early. The day was cool, and three o'clock found us at Hunnewell. We found that the camp of our regiment had been removed to the Salt river bridge by the guards and men left with it, for the better protection of that work. We joined them, tired and foot-sore enough.

After a fruitless chase that had promised such splendid results, we could not but have a feeling of disappointment. The enemy had not out-generaled us; he had out-marched us. We needed cavalry. Of what avail was it for a man to take his household goods on his back and endeavor to catch a horse? We must have dragoons to ride down and saber to pieces the mounted forces. This was the universal opinion among us. Our campaign against Green had taught us to value cavalry. At this time it seemed that the whole country was agreeing with us. "The man on the horse" was the rage, both in the army and out of it. The War Department was increasing the cavalry force to 75,000. We had rumors, too, that General Pope proposed to mount two or three regiments, including ours, and with them clear north Missouri of all irregular forces. The mere mention of it threw some of us into ecstacies.

But this expectation was suddenly disappointed, when the following morning our regiment got aboard a train of cars with all its baggage, moved westward and camped at Macon City. We did not lay out a regular camp[119] here. No one expected that we would remain long. It seemed as though we were only waiting for further orders.

The following day, September 12th, General Sturgis arrived from St. Louis, by way of the North Missouri Railroad, with four companies of the Thirty-ninth Ohio. General Pope also arrived from Hunnewell with the Sixteenth Illinois. These two brigadiers established their headquarters in the same hotel. It now looked like work. Fremont had sent two of his best generals to command the forces here. We had seen enough of Pope to have confidence in him. We knew that Sturgis had won laurels at Springfield. We had read unbounded praises of him in the St. Louis papers. His presence gave us great confidence in future movements.



Col. Smith with his own regiment and five companies of the Thirty-ninth Ohio proceeds west to Platte river bridge, and commences repairing it—Col. Scott is ordered to co-operate with him against the rebels in that vicinity—We proceed to Cameron by railroad, impress transportation and march toward Liberty—The first night—Second day's march—Second night at Centerville—Cannonading in the distance—Our feelings—Lieut. Call reconnoiters as far as Liberty—We move at 3 A. M.—At sunrise drive back the enemy's pickets and camp at Liberty—No tidings from Smith—Cannonading in the direction of Independence, and probabilities of an engagement across the river—Col. Scott resolves to attack.


We expected that the troops now under these two generals would be directed in pursuit of Green. In this we were disappointed. There were now far more important movements on foot, but of which we could conjecture nothing. Both the Sixteenth Illinois and the detachment of the Thirty-ninth Ohio were sent west under Smith. This seemed a little strange; but in reality it was not at all so; for we had already learned that the enemy had captured St. Joseph, and we had just received intelligence of the Platte river bridge tragedy with which the country is familiar. The Twenty-seventh Ohio and the additional five companies of the Thirty-ninth Ohio arrived by way of the North Missouri[121] Railroad, and, under Sturgis, proceeded west as far as Utica, when leaving the railroad, they moved south toward Lexington. I have been unable to ascertain the orders under which these columns moved. There is a chaos about the loss of Lexington, out of which it is scarcely possible to bring any thing tangible or intelligible. It seems, however, that General Pope had control of the movements designed to reinforce that garrison from the north, and that General Sturgis was under his command. Be this as it may, the dispositions were faulty in the extreme. It seems that the Union Guards designed reinforcing Mulligan from the line of the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad, and, at the same time, driving out the rebels from the vicinity of St. Joseph. Col. Smith, whom we supposed sent to effect the latter purpose, proceeded as far west as Platte river bridge, nine miles from St. Joseph, and commenced repairing it. Why he did not proceed against the enemy is inexplicable. If his force was insufficient, why was our regiment still lying at Macon? Above all, why were these movements delayed a day when Lexington was in such peril? Such questions will ever recur to us when we remember what an annoyance the operations of the western army received in the surrender of that garrison. The rebels began to retreat from the vicinity of St. Joseph, and what then? Why, it was now time to organize pursuit!

For this purpose, the Third Iowa was to go west and co-operate with Smith. On the morning of September 15th, Colonel Scott received orders to this effect, and, in less than two hours those of the regiment[122] who were able to endure a forced march were aboard a train of cars and proceeding rapidly toward the west. The Colonel compelled many partially ill or convalescent, who wished to join in the movement, to remain behind; because he expected to perform rapid marches, and did not wish to be embarrassed by straggling.

At 1 P. M. we arrived at Cameron, a station about forty miles east of St. Joseph, and got our effects off the train. Here we heard the first rumors of Price's movements, and began to have glimpses of what was before us. Colonel Scott's orders from General Sturgis were to leave the railroad at Cameron, march upon Liberty, act against the rebels and co-operate with Smith. The plan seems to have been that Smith and Scott should unite at Liberty, defeat the St. Joseph rebels and capture their immense train before they could cross the Missouri; and then, following them down the north bank of that stream, unite with Sturgis, who would then be able to appear before Lexington in such force as to raise the siege. It is easy to see wherein this plan was defective. It involved, first, a division of our forces in the presence of an enemy who was numerically our superior; and, secondly, the accomplishing of two objects almost simultaneously when the whole force should have been concentrated for the accomplishment of the main one, the relief of Mulligan. As will be shown in the following pages, the faults in executing were not less than those in planning, and the whole thing was a total and disgraceful failure, relieved only by two bright tints of glory, the heroism of Mulligan at Lexington and of Scott at Blue Mills. In justice to[123] Colonel Smith, however, it is proper to state here, that, as will be seen by the St. Louis Republican's account, given in the next chapter, orders to proceed to Lexington, after cutting off Boyd and Patton, did not reach him at all.

We were not long getting our baggage and effects off the cars. But how were we to move without transportation? Colonel Smith had taken our wagons from us on a previous occasion, and still had them. Colonel Scott, with his characteristic energy, set himself to work to solve this problem. Before the men had got their dinners, he had put into requisition several teams belonging to citizens, on which we loaded our subsistence and the few cooking utensils we took along. We were joined by a detachment of Captain Schwartz's Missouri Battery, fourteen men and a six pounder, under command of a sergeant.

At three o'clock, we began to move. It had been raining slowly since noon; but, though the roads were slippery, the mud was not deep, and the wagons and artillery proceeded without difficulty. After a steady march of seven miles, we bivouacked on an open meadow. It continued to drizzle slowly till sunset, and finally the wind rose in the northwest, damp and raw, which rendered the night very comfortless. The common ration of food being found insufficient to satisfy our hunger, Colonel Scott humanely and wisely ordered extra issues to be made.

The march was resumed at an early hour. The scenery through which we passed this day was sufficiently pleasing to repay even the toils of the tiresome[124] march. The day was clear and warm, and by noon the roads were quite dry. We halted for dinner and rest at the small town of Hainesville. As will be seen by Colonel Scott's official report, it was from this point that he sent his first messenger to Smith. [What became of these messengers? Were they captured by the enemy? Or were they too timid to go far? To suppose that they were unable to find Colonel Smith would be preposterous.]

After a short rest, we resumed the march, and arrived at Centerville at sunset. We had scarcely stacked arms, when we heard toward the west the firing of cannon. Every pulse beat quicker. There was not a man who did not listen with interest. Every jar seemed an earnest of something to come. Each seemed to tell of human passions broke loose, of men turned demons, of carnage and of death. There was to us a strange romance in those sounds. We rejoiced; for we knew that in that direction were both friends and foes. That the latter were there, gave us a double joy. We would meet them, and wipe out the unjust reproach of Shelbina. We would show the country, that under a brave leader, we were no cowards. We would make good our promises to our friends and loved ones at home. We would earn the right to be called comrades of the gallant men who fought at Springfield. The fact that friends were there, gave us the assurance that we should not meet the enemy alone and without hope of success.

We found Centerville almost entirely deserted. The inhabitants were rebels. They had heard of our approach and fled. Nothing belonging to them, however,[125] was disturbed except their henroosts. It requires no more than the teachings of ordinary experience to show that pilot bread and fat bacon will not support great fatigue. The country through which we passed supplied us in a measure with what our commissariat lacked. No one went beyond the bounds of reason, and the people were surprised that we took so little. Thus every man had plenty of good food; his blood flowed vigorously; and what, under other circumstances, would have cost him great fatigue, he now endured with comparative ease.

Colonel Scott sent another messenger to Smith, and Lieut. Call reconnoitered as far as Liberty. He reported the enemy marching through that place. This was sufficient to determine Scott. The sound of Madison's guns convinced him that the enemy was closely pursued. He was determined, that, if decisive results were not attained, it should not be through any fault of his.

Accordingly the drums beat reveille at two o'clock. We breakfasted hastily, and at three the column was in motion. There was an inspiration in this hurried march which the memory loves to recall. Colonel Scott since said in a private letter, "My impression at this moment of the proudest conduct of the old Third runs me back to the morning of Sept. 17th, '61, driving in the rebel pickets, and, with the eye of an eagle and the tread of a wild stag, closing up that heavy march and advancing upon Liberty, in the expectation of meeting thousands of rebels at any moment." At sunrise we came in sight of Liberty. There were indeed enemies at hand, but no friends. Lieut. Call drove the whole[126] rebel pickets through the town, and we bivouacked on the hill overlooking it from the north. But where was Smith? Colonel Scott could not suppose that his last messenger had not reached him. He accordingly waited with great impatience for his arrival. Nine o'clock—ten—twelve; but no tidings from him.

On the other hand, we heard the firing of cannon in the direction of Independence. This led us to believe that troops from the other side of the Missouri were engaging the enemy while he was attempting to cross. Colonel Scott seems to have been convinced on this point; for it had been his understanding before leaving the railroad, that troops from Kansas City were to co-operate. There was no mistaking the sounds. Six discharges were heard, loud and distinct. Besides, citizens actually reported that a fight was taking place on the other side of the river. This left it impossible for Colonel Scott to doubt that such was the case. He was, then, governed by two considerations: First, our friends were engaging the enemy and needed assistance. To hesitate or delay could not receive too much reproach. Second, if the enemy was not entirely across, he was divided by the river. Thus it was not only an absolute duty to attack at all hazards; but, in doing so, it was probable that he would be able to strike a decisive blow. Nevertheless, it was plain to see, that the undertaking involved great hazard. The lowest reports of the citizens placed the enemy's force at 3,000 men, with three pieces of cannon. Universally hostile to us, and chagrined that their friends had fled before so small a force, it is reasonable to suppose that they[127] represented his numbers less than they really were. But Colonel Scott accepted the hazard and determined to attack without delay. It was a resolution worthy of our old commander, and every soldier rejoiced to join in executing it.

This was between the hours of one and two. Colonel Scott started a messenger to Smith, and ordered the men to fall in. In a few minutes the regiment was marching through the town, keeping a buoyant tread to martial notes that had never sounded so sweetly before. The people, mostly ladies—for there were few men to be seen—gathered upon the street corners and watched us as we passed. We were marching to attack their sons and brothers, and yet in our enthusiasm, we thought we could see a gleam of admiration in their eyes. We subsequently learned that we were not deceived. We almost fancied we heard them murmur; "Those are five thousand; these, five hundred. Ah, how great the odds! Brave men! with what a tread they march forward to slaughter and defeat! But they are enemies, and it must be so."

I can imagine, too, the feelings of Colonel Scott, as he rode at the head of these devoted men. I believe he recognized in the coming hour not only duty but glory. There are moments in men's lives when a vigorous blow seems to revolutionize their destiny. The man who watches for these moments, who hails them in the distance, who recognizes them when they arrive, and who then strikes, may almost be said to be master of his fortune. It is given to few men to command a force, acting independently against an enemy, when there is[128] an opportunity to strike a decisive blow. Colonel Scott, then, doubtless recognized this as his hour of destiny. And such it was; for though success might not attend the blow, a failure to strike quickly would bring upon him the imputation of cowardice, and consign his name to irreparable disgrace. His force was small; but to each man the hazard was no less, than if they were a hundred thousand. Besides, it was at a period of the war when we had not begun to fight great battles; but when small successes made generals, and gave opportunity for greater ones. It must have been an anxious hour to Scott. But he was equal to it, and rode on, cool and firm as a Roman.

Lieut. Call with his mounted Missourians had the advance. They encountered the enemy's pickets about two miles from Liberty, drove them in and closely followed them. Anticipating this, his rearguard, a battalion of cavalry under Colonel Childs, ambushed themselves in a ravine behind a dense thicket, having previously picketed their horses in the rear, and awaited their approach. The Lieutenant and his party rode almost on to the muzzles of their guns, when the rebels discovered themselves by a simultaneous volley, which emptied five saddles, killing four men instantly and wounding a fifth. What was to be done? The enemy was dismounted and posted. The Home Guards had no sabers, only muskets, and could not charge. It was a trying moment; but they fully vindicated their courage. Not a man drew rein to retreat. They returned the fire, and only retired at the command of Lieut. Call. In this encounter, Capt. Cupp of the Home Guards was killed.[129] Capt. Hawk was also wounded in such a manner that it seemed half a miracle that it did not kill him. A ball struck him full on the corner of the forehead, but by some means glanced, and spared the gallant Captain's life. This affair won for Lieut. Call's Home Guards our highest respect; for it taught us that they were brave men.

The four ghastly bodies, as we passed them, were visible presages of what was to come. Near the scene of this occurrence, Colonel Scott halted the battalion, and brought it to a front. He ordered us to inspect our ammunition, and untie the bunches in the lower partition of our boxes. He then gave the command to load, and rode along the line cautioning the men to be steady and fire low. He caused the artillery to take position in the center of the column, and a company of infantry to be deployed forward as skirmishers. He ordered the mounted men to bring up the rear as a reserve.

These dispositions being made, the column continued to advance. It will be remembered that, at this point, we were perhaps half way between Liberty and Blue Mills Landing; two miles from either place. We were in a wooded bottom which continued to the river, interrupted by one or two small corn-fields. The timber was very dense, and the fallen trees and tangled vines rendered it almost impenetrable. It would be impossible for a battalion deployed in line to advance through it with any degree of rapidity or order. This induced Colonel Scott to keep the battalion marching by the flank in the road, and to trust to the skirmishers to discover the enemy in time to allow him to make dispositions[130] to attack him. Thus, making frequent halts to relieve the skirmishers with fresh companies, we felt our slow way forward.

That the character of the ground in a manner compelled us to advance thus, proved to be the chief misfortune of the day. We however reached a point before finding the enemy, that presented a favorable opportunity for preventing this. The road on which we advanced led north and south. We came to a square corn field lying to the left of the road and bordering upon it. On the south side of this field came a heavily traveled road from the east, entering the one on which we were marching at right angles. On the right of the north and south road and about three rods from it, ran parallel to it a slough several rods in width, unobstructed save by occasional logs, and, at this time, dry. We were now not more than a mile from the river, General Atchison's report to the contrary, notwithstanding. The enemy was between us and the river, if he had not crossed; and being so near, it was time to begin to proceed with greater caution. I have always believed that the Colonel's greatest mistake was in not forming line here, where the ground presented so favorable an opportunity, and advancing cautiously thus, the cannon in the road, and the skirmishers well in advance. But this is only the opinion of a soldier, given after the battle is over. Probably no one knew what to do then better than Colonel Scott; and when it was over, no one knew what should have been done better than he.

As it was, the column halted and the skirmishers now in advance were relieved by Company B, Captain[131] Long, which was deployed forward on the left of the road, and by twelve men of Company F, under First Sergeant Abernethy, who were deployed forward on the right of the road in the dry slough. Company I was now in the lead of the battalion, next the artillery, and then Company F, followed by the other companies. In this order the column again advanced, with no signs of the enemy until Captain Long is said to have reported from the line of skirmishers that he could hear the enemy advancing, their officers giving commands, and the ground shaking with their tread. For some reason, the Colonel paid no heed to this report, but rode very coolly on, cautioning the skirmishers not to get too far ahead. The enemy was indeed advancing, and the skirmishers were not more than twelve rods beyond the head of the column.

All at once, we heard a few sharp reports, and then a deafening crash of musketry. It was on the right in front of Sergeant Abernethy's skirmishers. They had unmasked the enemy and opened fire upon him, and with what fury he was returning it! Brave comrades! we knew that they were suffering, but we had scarcely time to think of them before the firing became general, and the enemy's balls flew thick and fast along the entire length of the column. The situation was disastrous in the extreme. It did not require a second thought to comprehend it. While marching to attack the enemy, he had ambushed us and attacked us in column. All that we could now do was to make the best of a desperate situation. The men moved quickly to the right and left without regard to their positions in ranks, concealed[132] themselves as best they could, and began to return the enemy's fire.

Colonel Scott immediately ordered the cannon forward. It was brought forward a short distance, got into position and fired two discharges of canister, which are said to have done great execution. This is doubtless the case; for the rebels were almost under its muzzle. But they opened upon the artillerists with rifles and shot guns—for they were within buckshot range—and in a few moments disabled several of their horses and killed and wounded half the squad. Soon after this, the Colonel is said to have given the order to "fall back a little." If such an order was given, it was intended only for those who had got too far in advance, and was heard by few and heeded by none. The enemy began to push a column past our right; but this proved a disastrous attempt; for, being exposed to the fire of our entire column across the slough, it was soon scattered and beaten back. Company I was particularly prominent in this. Colonel Scott put forth every effort to bring the companies into line parallel with that of the enemy; but the men could not be brought out of the confusion, and in the noise, the commands could not be heard. But he himself resolutely kept the extreme advance, and his example was almost worth a battalion of reinforcements.

Every moment matters grew worse. Out of sixteen commissioned officers ten had fallen. The cannon was totally disabled. The enemy, though he had been checked in his charges on our front, and in his attempt to flank our right, had fallen back to his cover, and his[133] bullets rained as thickly as at first. We began to give back slowly, keeping up an unabated fire, and carrying off our wounded. Only three wounded men were left on the field. We, the men, evidently thought that it was "advisable to fall back." But we had no orders to this effect,—at least, none that many of us heard, though a dozen might have been given. We were simply repulsed; driven out of the woods perforce; compelled to get out of the enemy's ambuscade or stand where we were and be shot down to no purpose. If orders to retreat were not given, they should have been. The enemy's long line, masked in a dry ravine, extended around us in the shape of a crescent, and we were exposed to a concentrated fire from its center and both flanks. Under the circumstances, we did the bravest thing possible; we retired slowly, disputing the enemy's advance. Our caisson had got clogged between two trees, and, as most of its horses were shot down, and the enemy pressing upon it, we were compelled to abandon it. But the cannon must be saved. Captain Trumbull waved his sword, and called on the men around him to help drag it off. As many seized hold of it as could, including Lieut. Crosley, Sergeant Abernethy, and the sergeant who commanded the artillery squad. It was with great difficulty that it was got away, and three men were shot while hold of it.

Colonel Scott who had been in the advance during the fight, was still nearest the enemy in the retreat. Two or three times he endeavored, but without success, to re-form the regiment before getting out of the timber. These efforts sadly demonstrated the advantages accruing[134] in battle from good discipline among troops. We had been too little accustomed to implicit obedience of orders, and the tyrannical conduct of Colonel Williams had exerted a bad influence on us in this respect. Under the Colonel's direction, however, a number of men, mostly members of Companies E and F, rallied; these to the flag, their Company's colors, presented to them by the ladies of Fayette county, Iowa, and now borne by the gallant Lakin, one of their number; those to their former captain, Scott, who lingered near the enemy, so loth was he to give up the field. They formed a platoon across the road and drove back the enemy's cavalry which attempted to charge our rear in pursuit.

As soon as we reached the open ground, the battalion was again formed. It was now nearly night. The enemy would not attack us on open ground, and we would not venture to attack him again in his ambuscade. Accordingly we began to retire toward Liberty. We soon met Colonel Smith's advance of mounted men. A brief consultation ensued, and then the march was resumed, and we soon reached our camp on the hill, where we had bivouacked in the morning.



Arrival of Smith—His march from the Railroad—Why he arrived too late—Our feelings on his arrival—The situation the morning after the battle—What should have been done—Smith starts for St. Joseph—Burying the dead and caring for the wounded—Scott's official report—Comments on the same—Gallantry of Scott and Lakin—Official report of the enemy—Estimate of his force—Account in the Missouri Republican—Account in Pollard's First Year of the War—The necessity and merits of the battle.

Col. Smith's command arrived a little after sunset. He had left Platte City at eight in the morning, and had taken a route so circuitous that his men estimated the distance of the day's march at twenty-six miles; whereas, it could have been accomplished in fifteen. He had left Platte river bridge Sunday at nine in the morning. It was seven miles further from that point to Liberty than from Cameron. He had six hours the start of Colonel Scott in pursuit of the rebels. He had plenty of transportation; we had to impress ours. The roads were no more muddy with him than with us. In fact, they were not muddy to any degree; only a little slippery, and by noon of the next day were completely dry. He had twelve companies of infantry, four pieces of cannon and one company of dragoons of the regular army. He had left three companies of the Thirty-ninth Ohio to guard the bridge. With this force he could not hesitate to[136] follow the enemy closely; but at no time did he get within a day's march of his main force. He took a circuitous route, and bore so far to the west that it has even been averred that he retreated from two o'clock of one day till eight o'clock of the next, expecting that the enemy was following him. It seems, however, that his system of scouts was so poor (if indeed he had any at all), that he knew nothing of the movements of the enemy's main body, and that the rebels' rear guard, Childs' battalion of three hundred cavalry, led him around over the country, while their infantry, artillery, and long wagon train of plunder were making their escape. In this movement, Smith displayed neither skill nor decision. No sufficient reason can be given why he did not reach Liberty as soon as we, or, at least, soon enough to co-operate with us.

It is impossible to tell with what feelings we thought of our being compelled to fight the battle alone, and to suffer a defeat, which might entail disgrace, because this officer had been so tardy in his support. In this state of feeling, we clamored loudly and with curses, to be led back against the enemy. But Colonel Smith decided to defer a renewal of the attack till morning, and his exhausted troops in the meantime took quarters in the court house and other buildings.

Early in the morning, Lieut. Call and his men went forward to reconnoiter. The field was abandoned. The enemy had crossed the river and was out of our reach. But would we pursue to Lexington? We understood that Price had besieged the garrison there with all his forces. Smith was now without orders; but reason and[137] duty pointed to but one course; to march down the river and support Sturgis, who was endeavoring to succor Mulligan. Had Smith known or acted upon the simplest principle of defensive warfare, that forces concentrate when threatened, he would not have hesitated at least in placing himself in communication with that officer. But he took precisely the opposite course. After spending most of the following day at Liberty, his men in the meantime plundering and outraging the citizens, he took up the march in the evening for St. Joseph, giving Scott an additional piece of artillery of Schwartz's battery, under command of a lieutenant, and leaving him under orders to return to Liberty as soon as he had made dispositions for his wounded, at the same time refusing him transportation to enable him to do so; thus, as we were willing to believe, placing us between him and the enemy, while he was making his shameful flight. Thus, while the enemy was making an inroad into our territory and threatening all our detachments west of St. Louis, he divided his small force and commenced the occupation of the country from which a portion of the rebels had just retreated. The privates in the ranks saw the stupidity of these movements at the time; and it is a striking illustration of their patriotism that, under such leadership, they were not thoroughly demoralized.

Our regiment spent the day after the battle in taking care of our wounded and burying our dead. Most of the bodies of the dead were brought from the field and buried in the public cemetery with military honors. The building of the William Jewell College was converted into[138] a hospital for the use of our wounded. Dr. Cool, our assistant surgeon, and Dr. ——, assistant surgeon of the Sixteenth, were untiring in their efforts in behalf of the sufferers. The three wounded men left in the hands of the enemy were taken across the river by them, but procured next day by flag of truce. They reported the rebel loss very severe, and the captain of the ferry boat confirmed their statements. Other corroborative statements have since been made, and all the evidence that can be gathered, including the studied silence of the rebel official report on this point, tends to convince us that such was the case.

The following is Colonel Scott's official report:

Head Quarters, 3d Reg. Iowa Volunteers, }
Liberty, Mo., Sept. 18th, 1861. }

S. D. Sturgis, Brig. Gen. U. S. A.—Sir: In relation to an affair of yesterday which occurred near Blue Mills Landing, I have the honor to report:

Agreeably to your orders, I left Cameron at 3 o'clock, P. M. of the 15th instant, and through a heavy rain and bad roads, made but seven miles that afternoon. By a very active march on the 16th I reached Centerville, ten miles north of Liberty, by sunset, when the firing of cannon was distinctly heard in the direction of Platte City, which was surmised to be from Colonel Smith's (Illinois 16th) command. Had sent a messenger to Col. Smith, from Hainesville, and one from Centerville, but got no response. On the 17th instant at 2 A. M. I started from Centerville for Liberty, and at daylight the advance guard fell in with the enemy's pickets which[139] they drove in and closely followed. At 7 A. M. my command bivouacked on the hill north of, and overlooking the town. I dispatched several scouts to examine the position of the enemy, but could gain no definite information. They had passed through Liberty during the afternoon of the 16th to the number of about four thousand; had taken the road to Blue Mills Landing, and were reported as having four pieces of artillery. At 11 A. M., heard firing in the direction of the Landing, which was reported as a conflict between the rebels and forces disputing their passage over the river. At 12 M. moved the command, consisting of five hundred of the 3d Iowa, a squad of German artillerists and about twenty Home Guards, in the direction of Blue Mills Landing. On the route, learned that a body of our scouts had fallen in with the enemy's pickets and lost four killed and one wounded. Before starting, dispatched a courier to Colonel Smith to hasten his command.

About two miles from Liberty the advance guard drove in the enemy's pickets, skirmishers closely examined the dense growth through which our route lay, and at 3 P. M., discovered the enemy in force, concealed on both sides of the wood, and occupying the dry bed of a slough, left resting on the river, and right extending beyond our observation. He opened a heavy fire which drove back our skirmishers, and made simultaneous attacks on our front and right. These were well sustained, and he retired with loss to his position. In the attack on our front the artillery suffered so severely that our only piece, a brass six pounder, was left without[140] sufficient force to man it, and I was only able to have it discharged twice during the action. Some of the gunners abandoned the piece, carrying off the matches and primer, and could not be found.

The enemy kept up a heavy fire from his position—and our artillery useless, and many of the officers and men already disabled—it was deemed advisable to fall back, which was done slowly, returning the enemy's fire and completely checking pursuit.

The six pounder was brought off by hand, through the gallantry of various officers of the Third Iowa, after it had been completely abandoned by the artillerists. The ammunition wagon becoming fastened between a tree and a log in such a manner that it could not be released without serious loss, was abandoned. The engagement lasted one hour, and was sustained by my command with an intrepidity that merits my warmest approbation.

I have to regret the loss of many brave officers and men, who fell gallantly fighting at their posts. I refer to the enclosed list of killed and wounded as a part of this report.

The heaviest loss was sustained by Company I, Third Iowa Volunteers, which lost four killed and twenty wounded, being one-fourth of our total loss. This company deserves especial mention. Captain Trumbull, assisted by Lieut. Crosley of Company E, brought off the gun by hand under a heavy fire. Major Stone, Captains Warren, Willet and O'Niel were severely wounded, and also Lieutenants Hobbs, Anderson and Knight. The latter refused to retire from the field[141] after being three times wounded, and remained with his men till the close of the engagement. Among the great number who deserve my thanks for their gallantry, I mention Sergeant James H. Lakin of Company F, Third Iowa, who bore the colors, and carried them through the fight with all the coolness of a veteran. The loss of the enemy can not be certainly ascertained; but from accounts deemed reliable, it is not less than one hundred and sixty, many of whom were killed. His total force was about four thousand four hundred.

Your most obedient servant,
(Signed) John Scott
Lt. Col. 3d Iowa Volunteers, Comdg.

This report was written the day after the battle, under very harassing circumstances, and before any written reports of subordinates could be received. Leaving out some slight inaccuracies on points which could not be thoroughly investigated then, it reflects very closely the impression of the affair most of us had at the time.

I think it was nearly two o'clock when we moved from Liberty to the attack, and that the action did not commence before four. The manner in which he mentions the officers is both truthful and just. Captain Trumbull and Lieutenants Knight and Crosley attracted the attention of all by their gallantry. Major Stone returned to the field as soon as his wound was dressed, and kept with us during the remainder of the action. I think the report should also have mentioned Sergeant Abernethy, who commanded the twelve skirmishers that commenced the battle, four of whom were wounded, and[142] who was one of the first to follow Captain Trumbull in dragging off the cannon. I am personally knowing to the fact, that the German sergeant who commanded the gun assisted in dragging it off. I do not believe that any of the published accounts of this action do justice to those German artillerists. They were almost recruits, they and their horses untrained. They were ordered to take the position so far in advance that they were within buckshot range of the enemy. The road was so narrow, that with their untamed and fractious horses, it was almost impossible to get their gun in position at all. It was stated by men who say they saw it, that the man who had the primer was shot, and staggering fell dead several yards in advance of the piece. Their post was in the road where they could not seek shelter. Here they stood till many of their horses and half their number were shot down. Who could expect more, or be surprised if, under these circumstances, some of them were appalled. I only blame some of them, including their sergeant, for drinking whisky several times out of a pint bottle on their way from Liberty.

Colonel Scott refrained from mentioning more fully the gallantry of the enlisted men, from a sense of delicacy in saying too much on a subject in which he might be supposed to be personally interested.

When the battle was well over, and we began to distribute, comrade to comrade, his proper meed of praise or blame, two names were mentioned by every tongue, and with an enthusiasm which amounted almost to idolatry; Scott, who led his men into the fight and followed them out, and upon whom, riding nearest the enemy, all[143] eyes were turned so often with the expectation of seeing him fall; and Lakin, who bore the colors so bravely; totally heedless of his own safety, but thinking only of duty; keeping the flag all the while near the Colonel, and calling upon his comrades to stand by it. Scott's horse was hit several times, and several balls went through his clothes. Eight balls went through the flag in the hands of Lakin, and a ninth one struck the staff. It seemed half a miracle that, while so many fell in places less exposed, these two, all the while in sight of the enemy, escaped unhurt.

The following is the official report of the enemy:—

Lexington, Sept. 21st, 1861.

General Price,—Sir: In pursuance of your orders I left this place on the 15th inst., and proceeded forthwith to Liberty, Clay county, Missouri, where I met the State Guard on the march from the northwest, one regiment of infantry under command of Colonel Saunders, and one regiment of cavalry under command of Colonel Wilfley of the Fifth District, and one regiment of infantry under command of Colonel Jeff Patton, and one battalion of cavalry under command of Colonel Childs of the Fourth District. I delivered your orders to the above commands to hasten to this point (Lexington) with as much dispatch as possible. They marched forthwith and reached the Missouri river about four o'clock in the evening, when Colonel Boyd's artillery and battalion and baggage were crossed to the south side, where he took position, Captain Kelly planting his artillery so as completely to command the river. The[144] crossing continued all night without interruption, every officer and man using his best exertions. We received news during the night that the enemy would be in the town of Liberty, about six miles from Blue Mills Ferry, at an early hour the ensuing morning. We were crossing in three small flats, and much time was necessary to move the large train of a hundred wagons. Colonel Childs with his command had taken post for the night about two miles from Liberty on the road to the ferry. Here he engaged the enemy's advance or pickets, killing four and wounding one, with no loss on our side. The enemy then fled, and we heard no more of them until three or four o'clock, when their approach was announced in large force, supposed to be nine hundred men with one piece of artillery, a six pounder. The men of our command immediately formed, Colonel Jeff Patton leading the advance, to meet the enemy. After proceeding about three miles from the river, they met the advance guard of the enemy and the fight commenced. But the Federal troops almost immediately fled, our men pursuing rapidly, shooting them down until they annihilated the rear of their army, taking one caisson, killing about sixty men, and wounding, it is said, about seventy. The Federal troops attempted two or three times to make a stand, but ran after delivering one fire. Our men followed them like hounds in a wolf chase, strewing the road with dead and wounded, until compelled to give over the chase from exhaustion, the evening being very warm.

Colonel Saunders, Colonel Patton, Colonel Childs, Colonel Caudiff, Colonel Wilfley, Major Grease, Adjutant[145] Shackleford, and all other officers and men so far as I know or could learn, behaved gallantly.

R. D. Atchison.

This report is doubtless a second-hand affair. Prisoners since captured informed us that General Atchison was not in the battle at all—but on the south side of the river; that the battle was fought by Colonel Saunders against his orders, for which this officer was court martialed, but acquitted. If we accept certain assertions known to be false, and make due allowance for the bombastic style of this report, and the border ruffian proclivities of its author, it speaks louder for us than anything else can. It confesses the rebel force to have been three regiments, two of infantry under Saunders and Patton, and one of cavalry under Wilfley; and two battalions, one of cavalry under Childs, and one (the arm not given) under Boyd, and one battery under Kelly; which being just recruited and with full ranks, could not have fallen far short of four thousand men.

The following account of Blue Mills is from the St. Louis Republican:

"The rebel forces under Patton, numbering some four thousand five hundred, evacuated St. Joseph on the 12th September, and retreated in the direction of Lexington. On the succeeding Monday, an expedition under Lieut. Col. Scott, left Cameron on the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad with orders to co-operate with Col. Smith in the pursuit of the secession soldiers.

"The column of Lieut. Col. Scott was composed of five hundred men of the Iowa Third Regiment, a small detachment[146] of Home Guards, and artillerists to work one gun, making five hundred and seventy in the aggregate. Simultaneously with the movements of these troops from Cameron, Colonel Smith of the Illinois Sixteenth, with two companies of Colonel Groesbeck's Thirty-ninth Ohio and four pieces, left St. Joseph. Both columns were ordered to Liberty, there to effect a junction and combine their forces. Lieut. Col. Scott, it appears, reached Liberty on the 17th inst., at 7 o'clock in the morning, and waited for the arrival of Colonel Smith until one o'clock in the afternoon. The latter not having got up, Colonel Scott sent back a messenger, stating that he would push forward after the enemy, whose camp was about five miles distant, which was accordingly done. Boyd and Patton with, as we stated, about four thousand five hundred men, were occupying a position in a thicket near Blue Mills Landing. The following statement is furnished of what transpired:

"Our skirmishers received a galling fire and slowly retired to the main body, when the action became general. Our six pounder was brought to bear on the enemy, and two shots fired which proved destructive. At this time a heavy fire was opened upon our single gun, killing one gunner and wounding two others. On this, several of the remaining gunners (Germans), abandoned their gun, carrying off the primer and fuses, rendering the piece useless. The action continued for an hour, when the column was slowly withdrawn, bringing off the wounded and dragging away the gun by hand—all the horses having been killed or badly wounded. In addition to the loss of the Third Iowa, there were six[147] Home Guards and one artillery man killed. Four of these Home Guards were killed in a skirmish about two hours before the battle. Three of the missing are supposed to be in the hands of the enemy and the balance killed.

"It seems that Colonel Smith, owing to the heavy rains and consequent bad roads, had been greatly delayed on the route, and his failure to join Lieut. Col. Scott is attributable to these causes. On the receipt, however, of Col. Scott's message, he immediately ordered his cavalry and mounted men to the front, and took them forward at a rapid pace. On his arrival at Liberty after dark, he found Scott there after having been repulsed by overwhelming numbers of the enemy. The men were exhausted, and as the enemy were reported strongly intrenched, it was resolved to postpone an attack until morning. Lieut. Col. Wilson reached Liberty with the infantry two hours after Colonel Smith.

"Early on the following morning, the 18th, the combined forces moved forward; but, on reaching Blue Mills Landing, found that the rebels had crossed the river and eluded them, the last detachment having gone over at two o'clock in the morning. They had been two days taking their baggage and stores across, and with a ferry boat and three flats found it comparatively easy to take their men over, especially as the Missouri is quite narrow at that point. Thus Boyd, Patton, and their army escaped. The loss of the rebels in the engagement of the 17th is not known. But from the desperation with which the Iowa boys fought, it must have been considerable. It seems that these soldiers[148] had been somewhat chagrined at what was termed their flight at Shelbina, although that retreat was reluctant and under orders. They determined on the first opportunity to show that they were not cowards, and this feeling it was, doubtless, that actuated Lieut. Col. Scott to push forward without waiting for Col. Smith's column. It was not of course intended that either command was to attack the vastly superior force of the enemy unsupported; and in this respect the conduct of Lieut. Col. Scott was unauthorized, though we do not hear of any disposition to attach any blame to him. His object, seeing that the enemy was making preparations to cross the river, was probably to draw him out and retreat before him in expectation of meeting a timely reinforcement from Col. Smith. It appears that Col. Smith left St. Joseph previous to the receipt of the full orders which were for him, after the contemplated cutting off of Boyd and Patton from Lexington, to move on himself to the latter place. These directions reaching St. Joseph subsequent to Col. Smith's departure, were sent after him by a mounted officer, who returned without having overtaken Col. Smith, and consequently without having delivered his orders. The reader, therefore, who has supposed that Col. Smith had moved to join Col. Mulligan, at Lexington, will be disappointed to learn that in his report to General Pope, he speaks of being about to return to St. Joseph."

As this book is intended to be an amusement to my comrades, I give the version of our first battle which I find in a book entitled The First Year of the War, written by one of the most distinguished men of the South, Edward A. Pollard, of Richmond, author of[149] Black Diamonds, and editor of the Richmond Examiner. I give it out of curiosity, and to illustrate what complete falsehood and nonsense may sometimes be dignified by the name of history:

"Gen. Price was informed that four thousand men under Lane and Montgomery were advancing from the direction of St. Joseph on the north side of the Missouri river, and Gen. Sturgis, with fifteen hundred cavalry was also advancing from the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad for the purpose of relieving the forces under Mulligan. About twenty-five hundred Missourians under the immediate command of Colonel Saunders, were, at the same time hurrying to the aid of Gen. Price from the same direction with the Lane and Montgomery jayhawks; and having reached Blue Mills, thirty miles above Lexington, on the 17th of September, crossed over their force, except some five hundred men, in a ferry-boat. While the remainder were waiting to cross over, the jayhawkers attacked the five hundred Missourians on the north bank of the river. The battle raged fiercely for one hour on the river bottom, which was heavily timbered and in many places covered with water. The Missourians were armed with only shotguns and rifles, and taken by surprise: no time was given them to call back any portion of their force on the south side of the river; but they were from the counties contiguous to Kansas, accustomed in the border wars since 1854 to almost monthly fights with the Kansas jayhawkers under Lane, and were fired with the most intense hatred of him and of them. Gen. D. R. Atchison, former President of the United States Senate, and well known[150] as one of the boldest leaders of the State Rights party in Missouri, had been sent from Lexington to hasten them on to his camp. He was with the five hundred, on the north side of the river when they were attacked, and by his presence and example cheered them on in the conflict. Charging the jayhawkers with shouts of almost savage ferocity, and fighting with reckless valor, the Missourians drove the enemy back ten miles, the conflict becoming a hand to hand fight between detached parties on both sides. At length, being unable to support the fearful fire of the Missourians at the short distance of forty yards, the enemy broke into open flight. The loss of the jayhawkers was very considerable. Their official report admitted one hundred and fifty killed and some two hundred wounded. The entire loss of the Missourians was five killed and twenty wounded. The intelligence of this brilliant victory of the 'five hundred' was received with shouts of acclamation by Price's army at Lexington."

And now, should we approve Blue Mills? I answer unhesitatingly, yes. Some have pronounced it a piece of unpardonable rashness. But one more glance at the situation; the enemy crossing the river; every reason for believing there was a diversion on the other side; the absolute duty of co-operating with it; the certainty that in this event his forces would be divided by the river; the almost certain nearness of support; the consciousness that to attack, though defeated by overwhelming numbers, would be honorable, and that to fail to do so on any pretext would be a disgrace; these were the motives which decided Scott. Who but a coward would[151] have done differently? But what is more, Scott well knew, as most of his officers and men afterwards confessed, that, after Kirksville and Shelbina, to allow this opportunity of a battle to pass, would have thrown the regiment into a state of demoralization. But I will not seek further to justify an act of which scarcely a man complained. All felt that the battle was a necessity, and that the only one to blame was the hesitating, halting commander who had left us to fight it without support.

I am not disposed to attempt criticism on the tactical mistakes committed on our side. It is easy to criticise the best dispositions when the battle is over. The mistake which drew us into the enemy's ambuscade in column was owing as much to his skill in removing early his rear guard and pickets, and posting his men completely out of observation, as to the fault of Col. Scott in not sooner deploying the column and keeping his skirmishers farther in advance. When once there, the situation called forth the highest powers of a commander. All that Scott could do by word or example, he did. Nothing less than the conduct he displayed could have induced his men to bear the disaster so bravely. It is no exaggeration to say that his resolution, in making the attack, and his conduct during the action, won for him the devoted admiration of the regiment.

Such was our first battle; undertaken through a lofty sense of honor and a loftier sense of duty, against eight times our number; beginning in mistake, sustained with desperation, ending in retreat; a martyrdom to public opinion, and vindication of character, a victory under the name of defeat.



We start for the railroad—Arrive at Centerville—Arrival of a courier from Sturgis—March to Plattsburg—Orders from Sturgis—Turn towards Kansas City—Night at Smithville—March resumed towards Liberty—Sturgis retreats three days from an enemy who does not pursue—We think his pursuers turn against us, and turn to the west to elude them—Strike the Missouri at Parkville, and prepare to cross on a rickety flatboat—A steamboat arrives and conveys us to Leavenworth—We return next day to Wyandott—Our stay at Wyandott—Move to Kansas City—Arrival of Lane's brigade—Comparison between Lane and Sturgis—They quarrel about precedence in rank—Lane moves out of town—Hospitality of the citizens.

On the morning of the 18th, Colonel Scott sent Lieut. Call, with most of his command to Cameron as an escort to about fifty wounded and sick conveyed in wagons. The following day, having succeeded in impressing an additional number of conveyances, he took up the march for the same place at 6 P. M., in pursuance of Colonel Smith's orders, leaving the rest of the wounded, those who were unable to ride in wagons, to be conveyed by steamboat to Fort Leavenworth, with Lieutenant Crosley in charge, and Sergeant Moe acting as hospital steward.

A cool evening march brought us to Centerville, where we halted for the night. It rained heavily during[153] the forepart of the night; but most of us found shelter in buildings and rested well. Colonel Scott's orders from Smith were to take Plattsburg in his route to Cameron; but as the Colonel wished to send his sick and wounded to the railroad with as little delay as possible, he chose to come out of his way with them as far as Centerville; and from this point in the morning; he sent them forward under a small escort of convalescents.

While he was preparing to do this, a courier arrived from Sturgis, with a dispatch for Colonel Smith whom he had expected to find at Liberty. Not finding him there, he had followed, and mistaking his route, had overtaken Colonel Scott. His representations induced the latter to open the dispatch. In it, Sturgis represented himself as being pressed by overwhelming numbers and without artillery, and ordered Smith to come to his support. Scott forwarded the dispatch to Smith who was then flying in all haste to St. Joseph. Not knowing where to find Sturgis, or what the result would be, he did not feel authorized to turn back with his small force, now less than four hundred men. He accordingly sent a dispatch to Sturgis that he would proceed to Plattsburg, and there await orders from him.

Meanwhile, vague rumors of the arrival and character of this dispatch spread among the men. Here there was but one voice: "Let us march to join Sturgis; let us not hesitate while our comrades are in peril." If any felt otherwise they cloaked their feelings in silence. We imagined that being under Smith's command, such[154] an order should govern us as though it came from him. We thought that it should have been enough to be satisfied that had Sturgis known our situation, a similar order would have been sent to us, and that to move on the strength of this dispatch would meet his approbation. We thought we should not take into consideration our own danger, when it was our duty to relieve our comrades. Nor could we believe there was much danger in such a movement. We thought we could march south upon Sturgis' line of retreat, and join him without interruption from the enemy. But we did not understand the situation as Colonel Scott understood it, and knew nothing of the nature of the dispatch; and for these reasons were unable to appreciate the considerations which induced the Colonel to continue his march to Plattsburg. But we know now that his conduct throughout met the approbation of General Sturgis, and that there always existed between them the kindest relations.

Nevertheless when we turned our faces toward the northwest, and our officers assured us that it was the design to reinforce Sturgis, we could not understand the manner of accomplishing this by marching directly away from them; and murmurs arose in the ranks which nothing less than the great confidence we had in our colonel could have quieted. The day was cloudy and cool, and the roads free from dust on account of the previous night's rain. The balking of the artillery horses caused two or three short halts. Otherwise there were no delays. The columns moved rapidly and steadily. Colonel Scott knew how to march men.[155] He never got them out of breath. About 9 P. M., we arrived at Plattsburg, and took quarters in a large college building.

About sunrise next morning Scott received orders from Sturgis to march to join him at Kansas City, and, at eight o'clock, the column took up the march southward toward Liberty. Murmurs again rose in the ranks. To the enlisted men, who knew nothing of the orders under which Colonel Scott acted, it looked as though he was vacillating or pursuing unsteady counsels. The sun shone clear, and the roads grew dusty; but the march was not slackened. When men became too lame or foot-sore to march, wagons were impressed to haul them. Usually these impressments were made for a day or for the trip, the owner commonly sending a driver, who would return with the team when we were through with it. We halted for dinner on a small stream, and in an hour resumed the march.

About eight o'clock in the evening we crossed Platte river and took quarters for the night in the little town of Smithville. Here Colonel Smith had bivouacked on the night of the 15th, the rebels he was pursuing having done so the night before. It was less than twenty-five miles to Liberty. What excuse, then, can he make for consuming two days in this march? We found an unfinished letter which represented the rebel force as numbering five thousand, and stating that Smith's soldiers behaved very badly, outraging the citizens in many ways. We quartered in houses, and, it is to be regretted that there was some plundering done, notwithstanding Colonel Scott's efforts to prevent it.[156] Citizens, however, had little reason to complain of our presence.

At an early hour the march was resumed in the direction of Liberty, and pushed at a rapid pace. Toward noon rumor placed us in the vicinity of a large rebel force.

Here let us pause and look at the situation. While the events narrated in the two last chapters were transpiring, Price had driven Mulligan from Warrensburg and besieged him at Lexington. Sturgis, with his column of fifteen companies, arrived before that place to find the enemy in possession of the boats on which he had expected to cross to the relief of the garrison. Price immediately sent Parsons across the river with a strong force to drive off Sturgis and cover the siege. The latter retreated precipitately toward Liberty, where he expected to join Smith, abandoning to the enemy his tents and a part of his baggage to facilitate his flight. Parsons did not pursue far with his main force, but kept up such a demonstration as led Sturgis to believe he was close upon him. After securing the property Sturgis had thrown away, Parsons was almost immediately recalled. But the former continued to retreat in haste, camping the first night at Camden, and reaching Liberty at four o'clock of the next. Here he dispatched a messenger to Kansas City for a boat, and when this arrived the following forenoon, so little had his sense of the danger abated, that he consumed only an hour in moving from the town four miles to the landing, and in getting his men and baggage aboard. He moved twelve miles up the river, and landed his troops at Kansas City on the opposite side.


He was thus embarking this morning, while we, thinking him in great peril, were hurrying forward to reinforce him. And now, very reliable information came to Colonel Scott, that the force which had pursued Sturgis had arrived, and camped in the fair grounds at Liberty. Thus he supposed his way blocked, and the road, on which he expected to reach the landing where he would embark for Kansas City, in possession of the enemy. There was left him but one alternative, either to retreat or turn to the right and evade them. He boldly chose the latter; and when about ten miles from Liberty, we turned to the west, and at 3 P. M., reached the town of Parkville on the Missouri river, having accomplished since starting nineteen miles.

Here the Colonel expected to find two flatboats on which to cross; but he found only one, the other having been moved to a point up the river. He caused the artillery to be planted on a ridge commanding the approaches to the town, and left Companies F and H to support it, while, with the remainder of his command, he proceeded to the river, and prepared to cross on this. The rearguard in the meantime quietly commenced cooking their dinners. We had thus waited about half an hour, expecting every moment the enemy, hardly hoping for friends, when to our great joy, a steamboat hove in sight, rounded the point and landed. It was the Majors, bound for Fort Leavenworth, and had on board General Sturgis. We were soon aboard, and the boat resumed its course up the river.

When we awoke the following morning we found ourselves at Fort Leavenworth. We marched to the[158] barracks and rested till about noon, sauntering about the grounds, looking at the artillery, and talking with the regulars. This day, reports came that Mulligan had surrendered. We took the matter very coolly; for it was what we had been expecting. Still it was easy to see a gloom on every countenance. The citizens of Leavenworth were thoroughly aroused, and a thousand of them were drilling each day.

Toward evening, the Majors again took us aboard and dropped down to the town three miles below the Fort. After a short while, it again moved down the river and landed us at Wyandott, Kansas, where we bivouacked on the river bank for the night. The next day we took quarters in vacant buildings. Three miles below us, Gen. Sturgis with his previous force occupied Kansas City. There also was a hospital containing some of our wounded comrades. A hospital was likewise established at Wyandott, to which a number of men were removed. The citizens of Liberty had manifested great kindness to our comrades while in their hands. Their generosity was really chivalrous. Though they bitterly hated us and our cause, they forgot for the time that these were enemies and invaders, but looked upon us only as unfortunate brave men, cast in a measure upon the hospitalities of their city. I have the testimony of Sergeant Moe, that the ladies nursed them night and day, and that they were fed entirely upon delicacies brought by them to the hospital. Their conduct in this respect merits our highest regard for them as a people, not less than our warmest gratitude. The citizens of Wyandott, though friends, and feeling that[159] they could scarcely do enough, hardly succeeded in doing more.

And now on the soil of a State made free by the blood of our brethren; at rest and at peace after some months of watching and disquietude; after some toilsome marches, retreats and pursuits; and after a battle which, for the numbers engaged, was by no means contemptible; breathing once more the air of freedom, and enjoying the hospitalities of friends, we felt as though we had been transported to another world.

The citizens of Liberty gave us great praise for our conduct at Blue Mills, and especially for our modesty(!); since, sulky after our defeat, we said little. We spent four or five days at Wyandott, doing what soldiers expressively call, "lying around." But we experienced no ennui. It was the season of ripe fruits, and we spent much time in rambles through the woods and pleasant intercourse with citizens. But we did not remain here long. Towards the evening of September 28th, news came that General Sturgis' pickets had been attacked beyond Kansas City. We moved without delay to reinforce him, and reached Kansas City at 8 o'clock in the evening. Finding that the General had dismissed apprehensions of an attack, we took quarters in vacant buildings.

We remained here about three weeks, without clothing and tents, and with but a single blanket to the man; and as the season advanced, we suffered some from cold. But in the midst of these discouragements, we had much matter for contentment. We had nothing to do but to feed ourselves and keep clean. The latter[160] was the most difficult task. In the former the hospitable citizens assisted us in a manner which merits our warmest remembrance. We had but to carry our rations to them, and they entertained us free of charge at the best their tables afforded. We had not been here long, when Colonel Scott managed to procure from a bank sufficient money to pay the enlisted men ten dollars each. In the absence of our clothing this was most fortunate. I need not speak of the feeling such acts of kindness created towards him.

But the principal event of interest which took place during our stay here was the arrival of Jim Lane and his celebrated brigade. His coming was noised before him, and when he was expected to arrive, all flocked to get a sight of the great "jayhawker," "the Father of Kansas." At length he appeared at the head of a part of his troops. The citizens said it was Lane, and we needed their assurance; for he was the last man we would have taken for a general. He had on citizen's pants, a soldier's blouse, and a dilapidated white hat. He rolled under his dark brows a pair of piercing eyes, and between his jaws a huge quid of tobacco. A general so unostentatious, so like his men, and yet so terrible to the rebels; the boys were struck with profound admiration of him.

His men seemed to partake of the character of their general. In such small matters as dress, every one seemed to consult his own taste. Few among them wore the prescribed uniform, and many were dressed entirely in citizen's clothing, who did not ask them where or how they obtained such articles of dress. But they entertained[161] us with enormous stories, which we were not displeased to hear, and sold us rebel caps at ten cents apiece.

In personal appearance there was as much difference between Lane and Sturgis, as between a wolf and a bear. Everybody knows how Jim Lane looks; for everybody has seen either the man or his picture, or some one that has seen him. The eye of an eagle and the visage of a wolf, thin and lean; this tells it. Gen. Sturgis, in respect to his personnel was precisely his opposite. He was thick, heavy-set and muscular. There are no angles in his face; it is broad and round. His forehead arching and heavy at the brows, retreats in all directions, and is covered with a mass of jet-black, wavy hair.

There was as much difference between the character of the men as between their countenances. Sturgis followed the army regulations and the doctrines of West Point. He kept the business of confiscation out of the hands of his soldiers, and left it, where it ought to be, in the hands of the Government. He protected all citizens, loyal and disloyal. His only line of distinction was drawn between those who were in arms and those who were not. While marching to join Lyon in the summer, he ordered some Kansas soldiers tied to a cannon and flogged for stealing chickens! He followed law and forgot equity. His rules of warfare had this absurdity, that he treated traitors in arms and traitorous citizens with the giving them aid and comfort and plotting the assassination of his soldiers with the same consideration he would have shown to a rightful enemy. Nothing can[162] be more ridiculous than to suppose that a nation fighting its own citizens for its own existence, should pursue the same course of policy toward them that it would pursue toward an enemy with whom it was contending on a mere question of international policy. By pursuing this course, he gave aid to traitors and protected spies. Though he was doubtless honest in all this, it is no wonder that his own soldiers denounced him as a secessionist and a friend of the enemy. I am inclined to think, that his retreat from Lexington deserves less censure than it may have received; and that it was owing chiefly to a lack of proper information, and of a proper system of scouts, and not to any lack of courage.

Lane, on the other hand, recognized military rules only so far as they were adapted to the present situation. He recognized the rebels as traitors, not as belligerents. He moreover failed to see the difference between the traitor whom he met in battle, and the one who gave him bread and powder, except that the former being the braver man was entitled to the more consideration. He had no mercy for bushwhackers, nor for men who to him were for the Government, and to his back for the enemy. He knew no such thing as neutrality on the part of citizens. All were for their country or against it. Those who were for it must give and sacrifice for its support. There was no such thing with him as enjoying the rights and privileges of citizenship without supporting its obligations and facing its liabilities. Those who were against it, must feel or shun his blows. He did not halt before small obstacles; or delay for decisions from Washington. When the[163] West Point clique at Leavenworth refused him supplies, the enemy had to furnish them. He would make the war support itself. The traitors who were responsible for the contest must pay for it. Every thing must be done which would paralyze the enemy and strengthen the government. Whatever opposed the restoration of our Union must fall, and those who did not like it must stand from under. True to his friends, his country and Liberty; hating bitterly and scourging without remorse, his friends', his country's and Liberty's foes; such was Jim Lane. The doctrines he applied to the present exigencies could be reduced to the simple maxim: Crush the rebellion by the quickest method, and in so doing neglect not to punish the rebels. Whatever may be said of these doctrines, the soldiers of the army of the west believed in them with a faith which was enthusiastic, and without reference to previous political distinctions. Nor did they believe less in the man himself. They idolized him, as soldiers will idolize only the general, who, they believe, will surely lead them to success.

It is said that Lane and Sturgis could not agree as to which was entitled to the command. Of course the soldiers knew little about this. We only knew that, for a time, citizens going out of town obtained passes from both Generals, and, that Lane, as soon as he had drawn his supplies, moved away from the city like a man who is getting away from the cholera.

Jemison's celebrated mounted infantry regiment, the 7th Kansas (jayhawkers) was at this time here completing its organization. This regiment was composed[164] of splendid men, many of whom had come from other States to join it. Lieut. Colonel Anthony was provost marshal of the city. No one would have believed, looking into the youthful countenance of Major Lee, as he sat about the Union Hotel, that a little over a year would make him a general.



The troops leave Kansas City—We are not in a condition to march south—Rumored removal of the regiment to Quincy—Proceed by steamboat and railroad to Quincy—Our arrival and situation there—We are paid and prepare to leave—The citizens give a ball in our honor—Incidents of that night—We proceed to Benton Barracks—Description of Benton Barracks—Colonel Williams, his release, conduct and re-arrest—Changes—Our sanitary condition—We are ordered to the North Missouri Railroad—Disgraceful conduct of certain captains.

Lane and Sturgis moved to join the main army under Fremont in the pursuit of Price. We expected to accompany them; but our supplies were not at hand, and we were not in a condition to go. It was without disappointment, but with feelings of regret that we saw successively Lane's and Sturgis' brigades move out of Kansas City for the south, and Jennison's cavalry to Fort Leavenworth to prepare for a winter campaign on the frontier, and we alone remaining, waiting for transportation to—where? To the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad, whence it was rumored the regiment had been ordered to Quincy, Illinois—for what purpose? To recruit and drill. It seems that some of our prominent officers had obtained this order by representing that we[166] had suffered greatly through exposure during the summer and losses in the recent battle, and that we had not had that period of drill requisite to secure a reasonable degree of efficiency. Whatever might have been thought of this then, there can be but one opinion now. It was humoring us; it was making children of us. Soldiers acquire most rapidly those qualities which the enemy most dreads, endurance of hardships and steadiness in danger, in the field and under his fire. This begging off for us, as it really was, from a work which others would have to do in our stead, is a matter of which we certainly have no reason to be proud.

About two o'clock in the morning of October 18th, we were aroused by the arrival of the boat which was to take us away. We went aboard at daylight, and soon after were moving up the Missouri. About dark, we arrived at Iatan and went aboard a train of freight cars. Crowded together, and jostled about by the motion, we went to sleep and awoke toward morning in St. Joseph. Soon after sunrise the train moved over the railroad towards the east. We passed Platte river bridge, the scene of the rebel massacre of innocent citizens; then Cameron, where we had left the railroad for Blue Mills; next Utica, the site of our first camp in Missouri; and then successively, Grand river, Chillicothe, Locust creek, Brush creek, Chariton river, Brookfield, Callao, Hudson, Clarence, Shelbina, Monroe,—places around which clustered many recollections. When night came, we jammed ourselves together and went to sleep, and awakening at eleven o'clock, a sky full of stars revealed to us the broad and placid surface of the Mississippi,[167] and beyond it the glittering lights of Quincy. We crossed on a steam ferry. There was no noise in the city but our voices, and the clatter of our unequal steps,—no visible life but our own and the lighted lamps. After marching three-quarters of a mile, we reached our camp on the north side of the city. Joyfully did we greet the comrades we had parted with at Hudson; and before morning many a social chat was had, and many a thrilling tale was told around our cheerful camp fires.

Our camp at Quincy was delightfully situated. We had no pickets or patrols, only a small camp guard. The usual time consumed in the daily drills was three hours. Colonel Williams was yet under arrest; Colonel Scott had obtained a leave of absence; and Major Stone was left in command. Immediately after our arrival we drew supplies of clothing and blankets, and appeared for the first time in the Federal uniform. The citizens of Quincy, with a patriotism which knew no distinction of State or place, seemed to take pride in doing us honor. They strove to make our stay among them pleasant; and so well did they succeed that we shall ever look to their beautiful city as the greenest spot in our whole soldier-life.

A number of furloughs were granted to the enlisted men, and most of the officers obtained leave of absence ostensibly to recruit for the regiment. I need not say that very few recruits were obtained in this way.

Thus we spent three weeks at Quincy; and the monotony of camp life began to be more irksome than tiresome marches; and we justly feared that by remaining[168] here, we would become an example of effeminacy, and fall behind our comrades in glory.

Our regiment having received five months' pay, and, in the opinion of some one in authority being sufficiently "recruited," we received orders to repair to Benton Barracks, Missouri. This was on the 7th of November. That night the citizens gave a grand ball in honor of the Third Iowa. It was an immense attraction. It attracted sentinels from their posts; and at 10 P. M., there were not twenty men in our whole camp including the guard. Those who were not attracted to the ball, were attracted elsewhere; and a number of little incidents occurred in Quincy that night which are not reportable. The author of this book has a vivid recollection of being a member of a patrol guard, commanded by good old Captain McCall, which saw that night one or two strange adventures. A castle on an island was besieged and then carried by storm. The prisoners were treated with a magnanimity which would have done honor to Fabricius. Does any one recollect it? It was a night of "riot most uncouth." Money flew, wine ran, and spirits rose. The temperate men were happy, the "bibbers" were jolly, and all of us thought we were having the best time in the world. Amid all this joy, bad as matters were with some, I claim that under the circumstances we behaved remarkably well. There are few regiments of our numbers that would not have behaved worse.

The following day, we took down our tents and prepared to leave; but something was not "ready," and the movement was deferred another day. Early the[169] morning of the 9th, we got our baggage aboard the White Cloud, and the battalion was formed. We were marched into the city and halted to hear Colonel Scott make a speech. In the name of his men he thanked the citizens of Quincy for their hospitality, and then he thanked his men; all of which suited us exactly, as we well attested with our cheers. We then shouldered arms and marched to the levee, where we underwent the interesting ceremony of drumming a fellow out of the service for robbing a comrade. This likewise met our approbation. We then went aboard the boat, and the next morning were in St. Louis. A march of four miles in which we suffered under our heavy knapsacks (for we had not yet learned the nice art of "cutting down" our baggage); brought us to Benton Barracks, where we were assigned quarters, each company occupying a separate apartment.

Benton Barracks, erected as a camp of instruction by General Fremont, and named after his venerable deceased father-in-law, Colonel Benton, is an institution which, from its direct association with the war in the West, will become historical. At some future day, the student may wonder what sort of a place it was where so many battalions were quartered and drilled.

Benton Barracks are built on what is known as the Fair Grounds in the suburbs of the city, and about four miles from the levee. They are so unconspicuous as scarcely to be seen until you get within a short distance of them. They are composed of long rows of white-washed buildings, inclosing a rectangular piece of ground, about three hundred yards in width by one[170] thousand in length. This ground, smooth as a floor and almost as level, is used for drills and parade. Toward the west end of it, the open space is interrupted by an interior row of barracks, and toward the east end, are the commanding general's headquarters, a two story building, painted white and over which floated a large garrison flag. On either flank of this was a smaller building, occupied by his staff, the whole being surrounded by a neat paling.

Before the door of one of these offices, a large crowd was seen each morning between the hours of seven and nine. They were soldiers waiting for their passes. Only four men a day of each company were allowed passes. Their names were sent by the 1st sergeant of companies to the sergeant major of the regiment, and through him to the Assistant Adjutant General, whose clerk at this hour made out and issued the passes to the men in person.

The barracks in which the soldiers were quartered were low, windowless, and ill-ventilated. On either side and at the ends of each apartment were three rows of berths on which the soldiers slept on straw, generally in ticks. To the rear of this row of buildings were hydrants fed by the reservoir which supplies the city. In the rear of the barracks proper, were sheds, the first row of which served as dining rooms, the second as kitchens. Here for the first time we cooked and ate by the company. Our cooking was done upon brick furnaces with an iron cover. Our simple camp utensils, sheet iron kettles and mess pans served as cooking vessels here as in camp. With such utensils, with inexperienced cooks, and with gangs of cold soldiers[171] crowding continually over the furnaces, it may be supposed that our food was not always prepared in the most desirable manner.

From reveille till retreat there was a constant hubbub pervading this little city, and the interior square presented a scene of splendid confusion. The noises of bugles, drums, and voices commanding; infantry, cavalry and artillery, drilling by the multitude, and going through their various evolutions as they could best divide the ground among themselves. When our regiment marched into the barracks for the first time, the whole force, infantry, cavalry and artillery, was marching in review before Generals Curtis and Strong. It was a splendid sight, so many men, all in the same uniform, and so neatly aligned, moving with such unity and precision. In the programme of duties, inspection and review were the order for Sundays.

The most exciting feature of the exercises was the occasional mimic battles, fought generally by one regiment against another; sometimes infantry against infantry and sometimes against cavalry. In one of these in which our regiment was engaged, Private McMannus of Company A, was shot dead. The cause of the accident could never be found out. It was probably done by some one using a ball cartridge instead of a blank. I believe that after this accident no more mimic battles were allowed.

Such was Benton Barracks. Without, the pomp of marching battalions, and galloping squadrons and batteries; within, the discomfort of men, poorly fed, poorly lodged, and jostled against each other continually in[172] darkness and foul air. Pomp without and misery within; such is the world everywhere.

While we were at Benton Barracks, Colonel Williams was released from arrest. The charges which had been preferred against him had been mislaid, and when his case came up for trial, he was released, because nothing appeared against him. Immediately on assuming command, he arrested a number of officers, his personal enemies, without the knowledge of the commandant of the post. As soon as these facts became known to General Strong, the officers were released, and Colonel Williams was ordered to report in person to General Halleck. The General informed him that he was under arrest. When this news reached the regiment, the exultation was very great.

General Sherman succeeded General Strong in the command of the post. The regulations made by General Curtis, the first commander, were continued. Besides the usual fatigue and police duty, we were compelled to drill seven hours a day. As the season advanced, while our duties grew no less, the inconveniences of the situation increased. Troops continued to arrive. Two companies were compelled to occupy a barracks built for one. Among the arrivals was the gallant Seventh Iowa, or what remained of it after its glorious day of Belmont. Cheer upon cheer greeted them as they marched in, and the shout was caught up and borne to the farthest end of the grounds. The Second Iowa was also here recruiting from the effects of its sojourn in the sickly swamps of Bird's Point. They were the best drilled troops in the camp.


It is doubtful whether their change from Bird's Point to Benton Barracks had been for the better. I do not think our own regiment would have suffered more in small detachments on the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad, or moving constantly with good tents during the same season.

Very few were free from colds and coughs, and diseases of the throat and lungs took down a great many. When our regiment left Benton Barracks it was as much reduced by disease as it had been at any previous time since leaving Chillicothe. Company F, more fortunate than the rest, had been most of the time at the St. Louis Arsenal, where they had excellent quarters, liberal rations, and as much liberty as they wanted.

It was now Christmas. We had had three months of drill, discipline, and rest from the fatigues of the active campaign. Although we were loth to acknowledge it, many other regiments had been far less favored in this respect than we. We were heartily tired of this kind of life, and rejoiced at the opportunity of getting away.

Irregular bands of rebels, acting under the orders of General Price, had torn up the North Missouri Railroad and rendered necessary the presence of troops in that vicinity. The Third Iowa was ordered there. A number of captains of companies without the knowledge of Colonel Scott, united in a statement to General Sherman of the bad health of the command, and other circumstances which rendered it unfit to go. Such a statement, even if it had been forwarded through the[174] proper channels would have been reprehensible. To plead disability, to shrink from duty, to ask to be kept in a bandbox and nursed, argued on the part of these officers a great lack of soldierly qualities. It had a tendency to disgrace our regiment in the eyes of the commanding General, and received from him the prompt rebuke it deserved. He reported the shameful proceeding to Colonel Scott, who gave the captains a severe reprimand privately at his headquarters.



Preparations—We move north by railroad—Details of the ride—March from the railroad—Night on the frozen ground—Feelings and conduct of the soldiers toward the citizens—Night at Martinsburg—March to Mexico—Character of the citizens—Bad conduct of certain of the men—What the Major "did about it"—His speech—Its effect—An excess of quinine and lack of bread—Return march to Martinsburg—The New Year—March to Wellsville—Sickness—Conduct and character of Surgeon Edwards—Foraging and plundering—Movement of troops to the front—Anxiety to go with them—Fort Donelson—Discontent at being left in the rear—Trial and release of Col. Williams—He assumes command and begins reform—Marching orders.

General Sherman issued an order that Christmas should be observed in all respects as the Sabbath. But the Third Iowa could not comply with it. It was with us a day of preparation, tumult and glee. We expected to move that day. The order had been read at dress parade the previous night, that we would be ready to move at a moment's notice with forty rounds of ammunition. But we were delayed on account of transportation which had not been issued to us. Those who were unable to march on account of sickness were left in the barracks we had occupied under charge of our assistant surgeon, Dr. Cool.

At 7 A. M. on the 26th, our regiment marched to the railroad depot. Major Stone was in command[176] Col. Scott having been detailed on a military commission. We waited in the cold till about noon for our baggage wagons to be brought up and loaded on the train. We had no rations in our haversacks; for when we left the barracks we had nothing to cook. Finally, to the great joy of all, the train moved out, and three o'clock in the afternoon found us opposite St. Charles. After many delays, seasoned with jokes, curses and cries of "bread," we succeeded in getting across the Missouri and aboard another train of cars and off. It was worthy of note, that for the first time but one in our experience as military railroaders, we were transported in passenger cars. For the consolation of the inner man, we drew from our quartermaster fifteen loaves of bread to the company, but no "small fishes." With these we appeased our stomachs, outraged by famine since Christmas noon. At length night came, and we could no longer enjoy looking at the scenery through which we were passing: so we hitched ourselves together as best we could (for the cars were crowded to their utmost capacity), and went to sleep. Whenever we awoke, until late in the morning, we could feel the unsteady motion of the carriages. Morn broke upon us at Warrenton. It was not a little amusing to view the scene which daylight ushered in. Some were sleeping on the seats, some between the seats, some in the aisles; lying on top of each other for pillows; horizontal, inclined and vertical; sometimes the head highest, sometimes the heels. Loud were the barkings of incipient consumptives; hoarse the groans of those whose hunger was not yet appeased, and dire the vengeance denounced[177] against the bridge-burners who had put us to all this hardship.

The scenery through which we passed was lovely, even in the gray shroud of winter.

At 10 A. M. we arrived at Florence, and had scarcely finished our breakfasts, when six companies, R, E, F, H, I and K, were ordered to get ready to march. The remaining four companies were left to guard the place, considered an important one; for it was the farthest point northward from St. Charles to which the cars could run, the track being injured and the wires cut beyond it.

We, the battalion that marched, were joined by a company of German cavalry of the 1st Regiment Missouri Reserve Corps, and immediately moved toward the west. A march of three miles brought us to the town of Danville, from which a small column of Union troops, commanded by Brig. Gen. Henderson of the State Militia, had marched an hour previous. We followed him, but by a shorter and less traveled road. The snow which had fallen some days previous, was not yet melted away in the timber, through which, most of the way, our road led us. Night found us marching on. The sky was clear and the stars sparkled brilliantly above us. The keen air quickly congealed the running snow, and rendered the hills so slippery that it was not without much difficulty and danger that the wagons could follow us.

We camped for the night on a meadow, bordering on a small stream of excellent water and surrounded on all sides by timber. It was ten o'clock before the wagons[178] got up, and we then discovered that our quartermaster had no bread for us. By some means the supply which had been furnished for us had been left behind. The quartermaster of course had to shoulder the blame. We cooked a scanty supply of bacon, rice and coffee, and slept in battle line away from our camp-fires, fearing a surprise. Our bed was the frozen ground; our tents the sky. Our thin woolen blankets furnished little protection against the keen air. We lay on our backs, and, if our heads were not smothered in our blankets, watched the stars, but doubtless with different emotions from those of the devout old Chaldean shepherds; and when we slept, we dreamed of—Heaven knows what. Some were at Valley Forge; one retreated all night from Moscow; and many fled to their warm firesides at home.

As morning streaked the east, we shook the stupor of our cold slumber from our limbs, and tried to dispel the gloom from our minds. Some of us had actually been sleeping on four inches of snow. Our breakfast, the same fare as our previous supper, afforded us little cheer. At half past seven o'clock we were again on the move. We marched slowly, doubtless, in order that our bread wagons which were coming could overtake us. In this we were disappointed.

We camped on a beautiful meadow, having made but nine miles. The Major had some hogs killed for our benefit; but this was not the only kind of fresh meat seen in our camp that night. The feeling in our ranks toward the citizens of this section was one of extreme bitterness. We believed that they were guilty, at least[179] in part, of the depredations which had rendered our presence among them necessary. To take up arms against us; to hide in the brush and shoot down our stragglers; to crawl up under cover of night and assassinate our pickets; to prowl about the country in guerrilla bands, and attack our small detachments; to burn railroad bridges and cut telegraph wires; to act as spies for the enemy; to give him shelter, food and cheer; and then, if captured in arms, to claim the rights of a prisoner of war; if without arms, to claim protection as a non-combatant, or, what is still worse, as a Union man; such we knew from experience to be the character of a large portion of the disloyal citizens of Missouri.

A soldier admires open enemies if they are brave. There is nothing that he despises as he despises such enemies as these. "Hang them if they act as spies or bridge-burners. Subsist our armies upon them. Confiscate their property and put it to the use of war. A war waged against such traitors ought to support itself. Give us such a leader as Jim Lane. Nothing short of his policy would do. We never would end the war until we showed traitors that we considered treason a crime." Such sentiments were canvassed freely in our ranks and found no contradictors. But we were only soldiers. We could not shape the policy of the Government in reference to the traitors. We were to execute the will of the commanding general. We could not take a chicken from the premises of an enemy in arms, without violating orders from our superiors. It is a correct maxim, that soldiers should not plunder. It is likewise a correct maxim that an army should not suffer from[180] hunger while marching through the country of men who by acts of treason have forfeited all right to the protection of the Government. We reasoned that the commanding general should authorize impressments of food for our use when we needed it as we did then. At all events we ought not to suffer from hunger, and if food could not be obtained properly, it must at least be obtained. Such was the reasoning which prompted the little nocturnal expeditions which went out from our camp, in spite of the active measures of the Major to prevent them, and which resulted in supplying some of the necessities we lacked.

The following day, December 29th, was clear and beautiful. We waited for the rear wagons till about noon; but they did not arrive and we took up the march. The ground thawed, and before night, the mud was deep and the march difficult. We camped for the night on a broad prairie near Martinsburg Station on the North Missouri Railroad. We obtained water by cutting holes through the ice of a pond which rests against the railway embankment and supplies a tank. The ice was about three inches thick. Most of us pitched tents and pulled grass and made beds. About 7 P. M. we were rejoiced at the appearance of the long expected bread wagons.

December 30th broke soft and balmy, the wind blowing from the south. At ten o'clock we heard dull sounds upon the wind as of a distant conflict of arms. It was not imagination. Every one heard them, and we were all curiosity to know their meaning. Soon after, a number of scouts arrived from Mexico with orders to[181] Major Stone to hurry on to that place. They at the same time brought reports of an engagement in that vicinity. We moved without delay. The column kept the railroad track till within about three miles of Mexico, when it took a wagon road to the left. The mud was deep, and wagons several times stalled and men had to be detailed to lift them out. These accidents caused temporary delays, so that we did not reach Mexico till 9 P. M. We found here a force under Brig. Gen. Schofield, of the State troops. Gen. Henderson had just left in pursuit of the enemy. Of the cause of the firing we had heard, we could learn nothing. It might have been a skirmish. It was more likely a detachment discharging their pieces to get the loads out of them.

Our battalion was quartered in a large vacant building. We found the inhabitants of the place intensely disloyal. A newspaper had just been issued at the printing office, one side of which was belabored over with treasonable articles and extracts. This being completed, the editor had fled on the approach of the Union troops, leaving the typos to complete the paper, which they did, accommodating the other side to the views of the new comers. Their unionism was sickeningly submissive.

During the night and the following morning, a number of excesses were committed by members of our regiment, among which was breaking into a liquor shop owned by a secessionist, and emptying seven barrels of that delectable article into a ditch.

This affair being committed in the presence of a large number of citizens, greatly and justly incensed the Major,[182] who called out the battalion, had roll-call in all the companies; when he mounted a box, and made a speech, in which he denounced such conduct, accusing us of having prostituted ourselves "and disgraced our State," and reproving us in unpleasant terms for having railed at our surgeon for giving us too much quinine, and at our quartermaster for giving us too little bread. He did not fail, however, to compliment us as having "stood before the enemy where fire and earthquake led the charge." After sundry similar compliments, denunciations and threats, he dismissed us, and allowed us to go to our quarters. Whatever apparent reason there might have been for this performance, it totally failed in producing a good effect upon the regiment. The men went away with the opinion that to make a boisterous speech in the streets of a public town, and to humiliate his men in the face of their enemies, did not become a military chieftain. Those who had not been guilty of any offenses felt the wrong most keenly.

It is true that whenever a halt had been ordered on the march hither, our quartermaster had been assailed with cries of "bread," our surgeon with cries of "quinine." In this respect we were undoubtedly "demoralized." But were these men abusing their superiors without a cause, or were they replying to abuse? The quartermaster furnished transportation for vinegar, beans and two negro servants, articles which are of no use to any army on the march, and the surgeon hauled his own private effects in the ambulances, while men marched in the ranks carrying heavy knapsacks and shaking with the ague. It is better to suffer abuse[183] than to be insubordinate; but men do not always properly appreciate this doctrine; and to correct his conduct belongs first to his officer, then to the soldier.

At 4 P. M. General Schofield placed himself at the head of our battalion, and we moved back in the direction whence we had come. The troops took the railroad track. For the first three miles our route lay through timber, and then we reached a level stretch of prairie ten or twelve miles wide, the rank, dry grass affording an opportunity of setting a prairie fire, such as we had so often seen on our own prairies of Iowa. It was a temptation which we could not resist. Before eight o'clock the whole vault of night was illuminated. Lines of flame extended as far as the gaze could reach, sending up immense columns of red smoke. The clouds blazed like a sea of fire, and shed upon us a strange red light, which made our march almost as plain as day. We moved at a rapid rate, making but one or two short halts, and these in consequence of the wagons sticking in the mud. No one gave out; there was no straggling. Only a few sick men got aboard the wagons. General Schofield was surprised at the endurance of the men. He asked Major Stone if his men generally marched as well; and when the Major told him they did, he complimented them highly.

At 10 P. M. we reached Martinsburg, a distance of thirteen miles from Mexico, where we halted to pass the remainder of the night. We got our baggage unloaded, made our beds on the wet ground, covered ourselves with blankets and tents and tried to sleep. But the[184] wind shifted to the northwest, and blew so hard that all our covering availed us little.

The New Year dawned with a sky overcast with gloomy clouds and with a boisterous northwest wind. The world without us corresponded exactly with the world within us. All was gloom. A few New Year's greetings were exchanged, and many fond thoughts went back to the happy firesides we had exchanged for the cheerless camp fires, the days of hunger and fatigue, the weary marches and watches, and the fearful chances of war.

In the middle of the day we moved five miles further to Wellsville, where General Schofield established his headquarters.

We took quarters in the vacant buildings and the first night slept on the cold floors, as crowded as though we had been in cattle cars on the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad. That night, or rather the next morning at two o'clock, three companies of our regiment, and one of the cavalry, went ten or twelve miles into the country expecting to surprise a company of guerrillas, but did not find them.

Our quarters were crowded and inadequate; but we accommodated ourselves to them cheerfully. The exposures of the past week had reduced many to the sick list. Surgeon Edwards treated our sick outrageously. I firmly believe that more than one good soldier died for no other reason than his neglect. Those in his hospital he left without food and proper nursing for twenty-four hours at a time. He absolutely refused to hear the complaints of twenty men reported on one[185] sick list, declaring that they were malingerers, that it was impossible for such a number to be sick. Two or three of these men were coughing blood; others had raging fevers.

It affords me especial pleasure to do this man justice. He was one of the most learned and skillful physicians of our State. His physical endurance, and capability of long exertion was such as few men possess; and yet, save when in some particular freak of good humor, he seemed to give his attentions most grudgingly, and to take a fiendish delight in abusing sick men of which we can scarcely believe human nature capable. If he survives this war it will be to receive the heartfelt execrations of those of my comrades who survive it.

For some time this part of our regiment remained in statu quo at Wellsville. The other battalion of it still remained at Florence under Captain Herron. The monotony of our situation at Wellsville was relieved by bringing in from the surrounding country various classes of persons as prisoners: sympathizers, bridge-burners, bushwhackers, blatant traitors and members of Price's old State Guard. Whatever excesses we may have committed with or without excuse upon citizen enemies, when they were in our power, we treated them with the respect due to prisoners of war. At one time our guard house contained upwards of twenty prisoners, citizens and soldiers. They were disposed of in various ways. Some were sent to St. Louis for trial. Some were transferred to Alton. Most were released on giving bonds to the United States.

For the first time since being in Missouri, we subsisted[186] our animals entirely upon forage taken from disloyal citizens. For this purpose, foraging parties went out nearly every day. Notwithstanding the stringent orders under which their commanders were placed, they were generally the occasion for carrying off whatever the soldier could find that would suit his appetite better than bacon and pilot bread. I never heard, however, of any outrages being committed in houses, the operations being seldom extended beyond the poultry yard, pig sty and potato bin.

On the 23d of January, all of our regiment was moved west, and distributed along the railroad at four different places; Mexico, Allen, Sturgis and Huntsville. Everything now went well. Our quarters, surroundings and duties were most pleasant. We were in the midst of civilization and social cheer. The Union had many friends in Missouri, and they entertained us generously. We were again seeing the halcyon days of a soldier's life; but we did not know it. We wanted glory. When Grant moved up the Tennessee we wanted to be with him. Many troops went from Missouri to reinforce him; but we were left behind. Fort Henry was taken, and we were not there. But the land forces had won no laurels in that operation. We hoped that we might be sent to take part in the reduction of Fort Donelson. But no. Train after train went past us loaded with troops from General Hunter's department, all going to reinforce Grant; but still we were left behind. Curtis was moving; Grant was moving; Buell was moving; McClellan was moving; Burnside was moving. The army was advancing at all points, and[187] we were left behind, guarding railroads and keeping down guerrillas. At length Fort Donelson fell. A thrill of joy electrified the nation. A universal burst of praise went up for the gallant men who there had fought so well. General Halleck telegraphed to Governor Kirkwood, "The 2d Iowa have proved themselves the bravest of the brave." And yet we were doing garrison duty in the rear. What had we done to merit less than these comrades of ours? Had we failed our country in the hour of trial? Had we done so little, suffered so little, and complained so much? Since Ft. Donelson, all the little battles of the war were forgotten. Blue Mills had dwindled into an insignificant affair. When we read the glowing accounts of these three days of battle, we almost ceased to be proud of it ourselves. A soldier would rather die than be behind in honor. We begged for a chance. We had no fears for the rest. At length we began to despair. We feared it was the intention of the commanding general to keep us behind always. We began to be ashamed of ourselves. We were ashamed to date our letters from Missouri. We would have blushed to look our friends in the face; for who thought of us now?

Meanwhile the trial of Colonel Williams was taking place at St. Louis. Witnesses went and came. It was protracted from day to day. Among the enlisted men of the regiment, the feeling was still strong and bitter against him. Finally it was announced that he would be released. It was without much disappointment; for we had watched the developments of the trial, and expected this event. At length it was reported that he[188] would join us, and that we should then be taken to the front. We rejoiced.

On the 25th of February, Colonel Williams arrived at regimental headquarters, Mexico, Missouri. Companies F and K were stationed here. The latter received him with some courtesy; the former with marked disdain. The memories of Chariton bridge still rankled in their bosoms. Nevertheless, we were disposed to be hopeful. We hoped that his long arrest had furnished an opportunity for meditation and repentance, and that he would be more careful of his conduct now. This was the case. Before his arrival we did every thing slackly. We almost began to forget that we were soldiers. The first thing he did was to enforce discipline. He instituted regular roll-calls, drills twice a day, and daily dress parades. He did nothing that we could complain of, although we watched him with the eyes of cynics. Day by day our former prejudices against him began to wear away. Almost imperceptibly those hitherto antagonistic elements, the colonel and his men, began to harmonize. Colonel Williams was a wiser officer, and we were better soldiers.

On the 3d of March, it was announced, amid great rejoicing, that we would leave for the south as soon as transportation should arrive to take us away.



Leave Mexico for St. Louis—Conduct of some of the men and officers—Journey from St. Louis to Savannah, Tenn.—Scenes on the passage described—Captain Albert Hobbs—Loyalty of the people on the Tennessee river—Move to Pittsburg Landing—The situation—Criticism, etc.

The day of preparation for an important movement, is always among soldiers a busy and a jolly day. It is a day of work and play. Boxing up camp utensils, packing knapsacks, loading wagons and cooking rations constitutes the work. Drinking, carousing and building bonfires constitutes the play. I need not say that those who do the least work generally do the most play. For this time I can only speak of the two companies at Mexico. During the day the order was work. Every thing passed off quietly and in order. By nightfall everything was ready and we only waited the cars. The troops who relieved us, a detachment of the Third Iowa Cavalry, had already ensconced themselves in our quarters.

It was now time to play. Some of my comrades had this failing, that in an hour of great glee like this, they would drink. There are a class of soldiers who never drink except on such occasions. The "riotons" commenced. Bonfires were kindled, bottles emptied, while[190] cries and cheers and songs and peals of laughter rent the air. I would not wish to be compelled to swear to all the unmilitary proceedings that I saw that night, nor to what I think might have taken place, had Colonel Williams been less vigilant and some of his men more sober. The Colonel used every exertion, and with partial success, to keep those who were disposed to be noisy within proper bounds.

At 11 P. M., we went aboard a train of box cars, and having disposed ourselves for sleep as best we could, awaited the dawn of day. To our surprise the bottoms of some of the cars were covered thickly with sawdust. We raked it up and made our beds upon it, and many were careful to get their full share. When we woke up in the morning, we found that we had been sleeping upon—well, the cars had been last used to transport Government horses.

This train carried but five companies, the remaining portion of the regiment coming upon another.

Morning found us at St. Charles, where we halted for breakfast, and smoked ourselves awhile around some ugly fires. The wind blew cold and raw from the northwest, and made us wish ourselves again in our moving quarters. We soon crossed the Missouri river and got aboard a train of passenger cars which brought us to St. Louis. After a long delay at the depot, we formed battalion, and marched through the city with all the pomp of which we were capable. At the levee we went aboard the Crescent City, a boat which was waiting to convey troops. One that has not seen it can scarcely imagine the scene attendant upon a regiment of volunteers[191] getting aboard a transport. The violent scrambling for the best places; the shouts of soldiers for messmates, and the grumbling of malcontents generally, make up a hubbub which never can be adequately described.

The remainder of the regiment arrived the next day, and the whole was transferred to the Iatan. It was not without the greatest difficulty that the officers were able to keep the men together. A number got into the guard-house of the provost guard; many straggled through the city, and some officers set the example; many became intoxicated, and before night, I am compelled to state, the scene in the vicinity of the boat was disgraceful in the extreme. A strong chain of sentries had to be stationed to keep the men from straggling.

Colonel Williams having procured the release of those in the guard-house and got the command aboard, the boat moved out at 8 P. M. The boat was heavily loaded with Government wagons and animals besides its human freight, and the river being heavy with floating ice, we moved slowly. In the morning we passed St. Genevieve by a channel which left it four or five miles to our right. It was a lovely sight as we viewed it in the distance, its windows throwing back the red blaze of the rising sun. I will say nothing of the unwearying beauty of the scenes through which we passed this day. We arrived at Cairo at 8 P. M., and consumed part of the next day in getting coal and subsistence on board. Commodore Foote's iron-clad fleet was lying here at this time, some of the boats undergoing repairs.

At 3 P. M., March 9th, we moved up the Ohio. It[192] was swollen, sweeping over its banks, and through the forests on the Kentucky shore. We went to sleep upon its waters, and in the morning were steaming up the beautiful Tennessee. We arrived at Fort Henry at ten o'clock, and spent some time in viewing the work. Most of the troops in this vicinity were leaving or had left. General Grant was still here. Since arriving at Cairo, we had had vague rumors that we were to join an expedition which was to push up the Tennessee as far as Florence, Alabama. We now learned that the expedition was to be under Major General C. F. Smith, and that our regiment was to be assigned to the division of Brigadier General Hurlbut. This latter information displeased us exceedingly, as we had lost all confidence in that officer in Missouri.

Leaving Fort Henry, we soon came up with a large fleet of transports loaded with troops, and at the railroad bridge twelve miles above were a number more. This river, like the Ohio, was very high, and swept through the bottoms on either side. The boat did not halt for night; but when we awoke in the morning, it was tied up and taking on wood in the shape of a rail fence and a pile of staves. All day we steamed up the river. The day was bright and beautiful, and the canebrakes and cedars along the banks had a greenness that reminded us of spring, and a soft breeze enhanced the pleasure of the ride. And when we saw all along the shore the citizens greet us with demonstrations of gladness and applause, we felt that we belonged to an army of liberation indeed. The way was lined with boats loaded with troops, we passing them, and they passing[193] us in turn. Before night, we found ourselves in a mighty transport fleet, numbering from eighty to ninety vessels, loaded to the water's edge with infantry, cavalry and artillery, and crowding up the river at full steam. Sometimes several boats would ride abreast and try their speed in the strong current, while the applause of thousands of voices would rend the woods. We will live long without seeing such a sight again. A grand army, equipped in splendor and exulting in success, moving far into the enemy's country with the speed of steam. A grand army of sixty thousand men, moving upon the waters. It was a glorious sight, and we could not tire of gazing. From it every soldier seemed to catch a sense of the great moment of the enterprise, and of his own dignity as an agent in it. As the sun went down, the bands struck up martial airs, and, in the obscurity of darkness, the scene grew more sublime. For every boat seemed a monster, its fierce eyes gleaming through the darkness, one of green and one of red, its dark breath rolling up against the sky, and the hoarse breathing of its great labor astonishing the still woods, as it hurried on, bent on some great purpose of justice or of vengeance. It was a great purpose indeed!—the preservation of the Republic whose foundation was the beginning of the "new series of ages."

Was there ever such an assemblage of patriots?—so much unity, so much courage, so much hope?

But when we retired to our quarters, a far different scene presented itself. Soldiers crowded together like hogs in a pen; breathing an atmosphere contaminated[194] by the breath of hundreds of men; sleeping, sitting and eating upon filthy decks; by day continually jostled and crowded about; kicked, jammed and trodden upon by night; getting by day no exercise, by night no rest; living on raw meat and tasteless pilot bread; and in all this many suffering from sickness;—such was our condition on these transports.

With our officers, however, the case was different. They ate at the cabin table and had good fare. They slept in state rooms. They had the ladies' cabin to themselves, and guards were stationed to keep the soldiers out of it. This was just. They had a right to what they paid for. But such a contrast of comfort and misery looked decidedly bad, especially among men who at home were equals, and whom mutual hardship and peril should have made friends. To us, the soldiers, it was a convincing proof that our officers were selfish and cared little for us. We could not see where they had merited so much more than we. Had they been braver in battle, or had they exposed themselves to greater danger? They were superior to us in rank and emoluments; but this superiority we had conferred with our votes. Was this sharing the hardships of war as they had promised to do, while we were yet citizens? Moreover, rank and emolument do not always answer the question of merit. Allowing that they had always done their duty in the places assigned them, had they done it better than we? Had they been more exemplary in morals, or more attentive to duty, or more patient under suffering? Had they been so diligent in the acquisition of military knowledge as to be worthy of[195] exemption from hardship? We could not see it. There was nothing peculiarly hard in their duties which should create this disparity. They did no fatigue duty. They did not carry a gun, a cartridge-box or a knapsack on a march. They did not have to walk the sentinel's beat in storm. The surgeon did not abuse them when they were sick. When they said they were not able to do duty, they were believed. But the Government had conferred on them these privileges. It was just. We had no right to complain. No, it was not just, for humanity is no more than justice; and there were men suffering from sickness who needed these comforts more than they. Generosity at least would have prompted them to deny themselves some comforts for the sake of alleviating the distress of others. It would certainly go far to prevent demoralization in the ranks.

There was an officer who seemed to be actuated by these motives. Let his name be printed in capitals, CAPTAIN ALBERT HOBBS. He ate with his men, and, in consequence of this, many of his brother officers made merry of him, calling him in his absence, "Mother Hobbs." He merited their opprobrium, simply by being a comrade to his men. This brave and good man was mortally wounded in the battle of Shiloh, and was buried near the spot where he fell. His memory will always be cherished by those who served under him.

Daylight of March 12th, found the great flotilla at anchor opposite Savannah, Tennessee, a dilapidated village about twenty-five miles from the Alabama line.

The citizens of Savannah were for the most part favorable to our cause. The town was full of refugees[196] from rebel conscription, to whom our presence was really a deliverance. Their stories of sufferings under the rebel rule would fill volumes. Their patriotism was genuine and unfeigned. Many of them enlisted on the gunboat Tyler, and in the 46th Ohio regiment.

The morning after our arrival at Savannah, we heard cannonading above us. We could only conjecture the cause of it then; but learned afterwards that it was the gunboats Tyler and Lexington, which convoyed the fleet, engaging the enemy's batteries at Eastport, Miss. The same day most of the fleet moved up the river, and our regiment went ashore to allow our boats to be cleansed, and before we were allowed to go aboard again, we enjoyed the luxury of being out in a drizzling rain.

We found at Savannah another illustration of the fact, that the farther an army gets from railroads and telegraphs, the more news the country affords. The citizens informed us that a battle had been fought near Manasses, resulting disastrously to the rebels; that though losing 10,000 men in killed and wounded, McClellan had taken 60,000 prisoners! We also learned that Beauregard was concentrating a hundred thousand men a few miles above us,—a report in which there was more truth than we were willing to believe.

Here, pausing and looking around us, the movements of the enemy and the designs of our generals began, if possible, to assume a more tangible shape in our ideas. The army of General Albert Sidney Johnston had been driven from its defensive line, which stretched from Columbus to Bowling Green; and now, its right wing[197] in full retreat before Buell, its left assailed by Pope, and its center pierced by Grant ascending the Tennessee, it was endeavoring to concentrate on a new line of defense, that of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, at the strategic point of Corinth, having at that time communication with all parts of the south, east and west, including the force which was blockading the Mississippi at Island No. Ten. With this purpose General Beauregard had probably already arrived at Corinth with a small portion of his troops, whither General Bragg was hurrying with a division from Mobile and Pensacola; and if we may credit a letter written about this time from Decatur, Alabama, by General Johnston to Jeff. Davis, the advance guard of his army had already reached that point, while the main body was crossing the Tennessee at Decatur,—a movement which he was executing contrary to the advice of his staff, and in which he had great apprehensions of being thwarted by General Grant.

Nothing would have been easier than this, had our fleet pushed on and landed the troops at a point from which they could have disembarked and seized the Memphis & Charleston Railroad east of Corinth. We could have then moved against Corinth, pushing Beauregard toward the Mississippi and preventing his junction with Johnston; or, in the event of his retreating southward, isolating him from his troops at Island No. Ten, as well as from a large portion of his forces hastening from that direction. Thus it is seen how easily a little vigor on our part would have disorganized the plans of the rebel leaders, prevented their concentration[198] on any practicable line of defense, thrown confusion into their councils and demoralization into their ranks, disheartened their people just as they were called upon to furnish new levies, flanked the Mississippi river as far as Memphis, seized the strategic point of the West from which the armies of Grant and Buell united could have commenced a new march of victory, and, in one word, secured without bloodshed or hazard, fruits which a year of suffering and carnage scarcely sufficed to gain. These were golden hours of victory to the army of the West. All that was necessary was to march on. But just as we had reached the decisive moment, when the events of a year could have been accomplished in a week, we faltered. Just at the hour when to wait should have been our farthest thought, we halted.

The enemy had placed batteries at Eastport, Miss., to blockade the river and cover the movement of General Johnston's troops over the railroad from Decatur to Corinth. It is also probable that he had a small land force at that point. The wooden gunboats engaged the batteries unsuccessfully. But it can not be claimed that they amounted to an obstacle in the way of General Smith. They could easily have been captured or driven off by our infantry. This Gen. Smith did not attempt; whether it was that his orders restricted his movements, or whether he was unequal to the occasion, is yet to be made known.

Toward night, March 4th, three days' rations were issued to our regiment with orders to divide, cook and be ready to march at daylight. The kitchen furnaces[199] of the boat were taken possession of for this purpose; and notwithstanding the work was crowded vigorously, but three companies could get their rations cooked during the night.

At daylight the boats conveying General Hurlbut's division moved up the river a few miles under convoy of a gunboat, and halted opposite the bluffs of Pittsburg Landing, which the enemy had occupied a few days before. Nine boats tied up on the western bank and two on the eastern, one of which was our own. We built fires on shore and proceeded to cook the rations we had not been able to do the previous evening. The whole expedition was almost at a halt. Most of the fleet was above us, probably endeavoring to effect a landing at Hamburg, six miles above. We, the soldiers, knew little of the whereabouts of the enemy. It was not fair to conjecture that our generals knew much more. A general generally knows much less of his antagonist than those who are not generals think he ought to. A few days before, the enemy had a force with some artillery on Pittsburg Bluffs. A gunboat had engaged them and driven off their artillery, but they in turn had repulsed our infantry which landed and attempted to pursue.

Who knew now that the enemy was not in force beyond our observation ready to dispute our landing? The honor of first setting foot on this historic soil belongs to the fourth division. To land at all in the face of the intervening bottom overflowed with water, presented no ordinary difficulties. The 41st Illinois regiment disembarked in light order, ascended the[200] bluff and advanced into the woods to cover the movement. General Sherman at the same time began preparations to debark. Roads were cut up the sides of the bluffs on which the wagons and artillery could ascend. These dispositions being made, General Hurlbut announced the details of the disembarking of his division in the following order:

Head Quarters, Fourth Division, }
March 17, 1862. }

General Orders,
No. 4.

The 1st and 3d Brigades of this Division, now at Pittsburg Landing, will disembark as rapidly as possible and form camps by brigades, the 1st Brigade with the left resting on the road, and the 3d with the right. In order to establish the lines without confusion, the 1st Brigade will commence the movement forming in brigade line right in front on the road. On reaching the point designated by a staff officer detailed for that purpose, the brigade will file right into line perpendicular to the road. Regiments taking positions according to the rank of their Colonels, from right to left. The 3d Brigade will be formed on the same road, left in front, and on reaching their line will file left into brigade line on the extension of the line of the 1st Brigade. Full room to the front will be taken by these brigades so as to permit the other troops to establish camps in their rear.

Tents will be pitched by the single file by the companies. After the above line is established, the brigades will stack arms and break by right of companies for the 1st Brigade, and by left of companies for the 3d[201] Brigade to the rear, leaving an interval of twenty-five paces from the color line to the first company tent.

Proper details will then be made to bring up the baggage and trains of the Regiments, and have but the details allowed to leave the regimental grounds. The transportation of each brigade will be used for this purpose without reference to the Regiments under the orders of the Brigade Quarter Master.

Thirty paces will be allowed between regiments, unless the nature of the ground compels a wider interval. Police and Regimental guards will be established before the Brigades stack arms. Commanding officers will see that sinks are established for their officers and men at once.

Burrow's Battery will occupy ground between the two Brigades, one-half with the 1st, and the other with the 3d. Mann's Battery, on the Key West will drop over to this side of the river as soon as the landing is opened, and be assigned to cover the flank of the 3d Brigade.

As fast as a boat is cleared of troops and baggage, it will be reported to these Head Quarters and sent to Savannah. The orders are to hold Pittsburg Landing and the honorable post of exterior line in front is given to this Division.

All officers are enjoined to give their strict personal attention to discipline and drill in their respective commands. Their attention is especially called to the 49th and 50th Articles of War, and they are notified that they will be strictly enforced. Each Regiment will clear its regimental ground for parade and drill, and as soon[202] as possible a rigid inspection will be made by Brigade commanders.

The 3d Iowa will establish camp perpendicularly to the line of the 1st Brigade, the right toward the river along the brush. The Empress and Emerald, having commissary stores on board, will fix themselves at some convenient points as soon as the rest of the transportation is drawn off. The General commanding will take Head-Quarters on shore as soon as the line is established.

By order of Brig. Gen. S. A. Hurlbut,
Smith D. Atkins, A. A. A. G.

While the work preparatory to disembarking was going on, the men were allowed to go ashore to cook their rations and wash their clothes. Much curiosity was exhibited in examining the field of the recent engagement. The bodies left on the field had been but slightly buried by the enemy, and the graves were covered over with rails. While an Illinois regiment was exhuming and reburying the bodies of their fallen comrades, many soldiers crowded around to get a view of the marred faces of the dead. And so great was the curiosity of some young soldiers to see the bodies of men who had been slain in battle, that a guard had to be placed over the graves of the enemy's dead to prevent them from being again torn open.

The Fourth Division landed on the 17th, agreeably to General Hurlbut's order, and the 3d Iowa took position on the bluff in rear of the line. We drew new Sibley tents, and six were allowed to the company. The ground was full of water; but our quarters were commodious and contrasted delightfully with the filthy[203] decks of the Iatan. But sickness was already becoming alarmingly prevalent among us. The confinement, bad diet, and bad air to which we had been subject, had thinned our ranks and filled the hospital as much as a hard fought battle. The water which we now had to drink was brackish and sickening. It was furnished by surface springs, and was the soakings of the roots of all the vegetation of the forest. Camp diarrhœa was the prevailing malady. We had not been in camp a week before there was scarcely a man who did not have it.

The Third Iowa was assigned by direction of Major General Grant, to the 1st Brigade, Fourth Division, and Col. Williams, as ranking officer, assumed command. The Brigade was composed of the Third Iowa, the 32d Illinois, Col. John Logan, the 41st Illinois, Col. I. C. Pugh, the 28th Illinois, Col. E. K. Johnson, and Burrow's Battery of light guns. It was very fortunate for Col. Williams to be thus placed in command of a brigade of such excellent troops, and his friends are confident that if he had not been disabled early in the battle of Shiloh, he would have silenced the accusations against him. Major Stone was left in command of our regiment, Col. Scott being absent on account of sickness. We twice changed our camp previous to the battle, and when that event occurred, the 1st Brigade was camped in proper order, the 3d Iowa on the extreme right. Beyond us were the divisions of Sherman and Prentiss, and to our right those of McClernand and Smith.

In the confusion of hills, ravines, and cross-roads, it was scarcely possible for a casual observer to come to a definite conclusion as to the topography of our camps.[204] But he did not have to look twice at that city of white tents in the solemn forest to be impressed with the grandeur of the sight. As far as the eye could reach the hills were covered with them. By day the roads were choked with baggage wagons coming and going; the woods teemed with armed men; the air was full of martial sounds. The noise of artillery firing on drill with blank cartridges, joined to that of soldiers discharging their pieces in the woods, at times almost counterfeited a battle. The field music, bugles and bands were continually playing, and a steam calliope on one of the transports seemed to catch up their notes and repeat them to the distant hills.

Our spare tent was mostly occupied with drills and reviews. The weather was much of the time rainy, and sickness and despondency continued to increase. We had tidings that our arms were everywhere successful, and yet we were in gloom. It almost seemed to us that we were suffering to no purpose. In a week or ten days after our arrival at Pittsburg Landing, the roads had dried up so as to be quite passable. Why, then, did we not advance? The reason is obvious now. Our delay had given the enemy time to concentrate at Corinth, and we must now wait the arrival of Buell before resuming the offensive. Ah! how nearly fatal was the delay! Our blunder in failing to deal the enemy a a decisive blow when we had the opportunity is equaled by that of allowing him the opportunity of dealing a decisive blow against us. He was concentrating a large army within a few days' march of us, with what design we were ignorant, whether merely to arrest our further[205] advance, or to march upon us and give us battle. In the latter event our situation was a highly dangerous one. With an impassable river immediately in our rear, and an impenetrable forest on either flank, defeat would amount to no less than destruction and capture. The soldiers themselves were not so stupid as not to discern the peril to which we were exposed. Nevertheless, not even the ordinary precautions were taken against it. The troops were not camped in proper line of battle; reconnoissances were unfrequent and unsatisfactory; picketing at the time of the attack was done only by the infantry; and the picket line was but a short distance in front of the line of advanced camps; and what was well nigh as bad, the headquarters of the commanding general were at Savannah, eight miles away. We had rumors that the enemy were evacuating Corinth, and again that he was marching against us. Whatever we believed, we could not deny that if the enemy expected to give us a decisive blow, he would attempt it now. The evening before the battle, I observed a captain talking with one of his men as they viewed from an eminence near the Landing the camps of the army. Their observations on the danger of our situation were very similar to those I have just made. Their words were almost prophetic. For in twenty-four hours that army whose camps they saw extending so widely and so beautifully, was rolled back a broken mass upon the bluff, half of its artillery and most of its material in the hands of the enemy, and with two hours more of such disaster, would have been utterly destroyed or captured.



The enemy's reconnoissance, April 4th—The alarm 5th April—THE BATTLE OF SHILOH—The soldier's impression of a battle—Stragglers and their shameful conduct—The different movements and positions of our division and brigade in the battle—Appearance of General Grant—Gallant charge and repulse of a rebel brigade.

On the evening of the 4th of April, while a heavy thunderstorm was raging, we heard dull sounds in advance like the firing of infantry. It was the 5th Ohio Cavalry encountering a reconnoitering force of the enemy. These sounds created little alarm until, when both they and the storm had ceased, the long-roll began to beat in the different camps. But for some reason the drums of the Third Iowa were silent, until General Hurlbut rode through our camp and impatiently ordered them to beat. When the long-roll had ceased beating, there arose a noise throughout the camps which sounded more like the ghost of a battle than any thing to which it can be likened. It was the men bursting caps to clear out the tubes of their guns. General Hurlbut hurried his troops forward to the support of Sherman. The regiments joined one after another in the column as they took the road. The mud was deep, the artillery wheels sinking nearly to the hubs, and what made it worse, it was already getting quite dark.


When we had advanced about three-quarters of a mile, General Hurlbut received orders to turn back. This put the boys in great glee; for we did not at all relish the idea of sleeping in the mud without blankets, and we had no expectation of a fight. The dullest soldier now found occasion to explode a little wit, and numerous and loud were the jokes and retorts that passed from mouth to mouth, as the column straggled through the deep mud. The general himself did not escape being holloaed at ever and anon by some graceless wag. We went to sleep that night without any apprehensions in consequence of the alarm, although we had heard General Hurlbut say that the enemy was either evacuating Corinth or moving against us; and that this cavalry movement was either a feint to deceive us, or a reconnoissance to discover our position.

The following day, all was quiet throughout the camps. No one seemed to think of such a thing as the immediate presence of the enemy. Several boats arrived loaded with troops, among which were the 16th Iowa, 18th Wisconsin, and Madison's battery of siege guns. Madison's men had been with us in Missouri, and we greeted them almost as friends. These two infantry regiments were undrilled and had just received their arms. They were sent forward to Prentiss in the advance.

There were rumors among us that Buell had arrived at Savannah; but no one seemed to feel certain that it was so. From the front there were no tidings of any thing unusual—not an intimation of the nearness of the enemy. Over all was settled a frightful calm. It was[208] that which indicates the gathering storm. Within an hour's march of us the enemy was taking his positions for battle. What a whirlwind was preparing for the morrow!

We have reached a day when history pauses and hesitates. It began in astonishment and cloud and mystery. It developed into a tempest. It ended in disaster and wreck. Officers and men alike it blinded. It is doubtful whether the commanding general, once on the field, succeeded in comprehending it. The soldier that fights in a battle neither sees, hears nor understands it. It is a confusion, an infinitude of noises, an earthquake of jarring multitudes. A man plunges into it, and the fountains of his emotions are broken up. He endeavors to hear and see and realize all that is taking place around him; but his faculties recoil exhausted. The situation masters him. He yields himself to it, and sees himself drifted on like a grain of sand in a tornado. A thousand sights and sounds and emotions rush upon him; but he does not comprehend them. Nevertheless there are certain bold outlines that imprint themselves on his memory. When the storm is over, he closes his eyes and senses to see again this indistinguishable spectral train of terrible images. All reappear before him,—lines of battle advancing and retreating, infantry rushing, and batteries galloping to and fro;—over all, the smoke of battle, as if endeavoring to shut out the gaze of Heaven, and amid all a deafening crash of sounds, as if it were feared some higher voice than man's would be heard forbidding.

But there are times in battle when the chaotic whole[209] resolves itself into definite shapes, some of which we see clearly. What we see of the great tempest at these times, together with the myriad rushing shapes of which we form no definite conception, form our recollections of a great battle. He alone who views it at a distance can be its historian. Those who participate in it can only contribute items.

With us the battle of Shiloh was not a battle. It was merely a resistance—a planless, stubborn resistance. After the first onset of the enemy, which was to the whole army, if not to General Grant himself, a complete surprise, the field was contested by our troops with a heroism which will forever redound to their honor. Divisions, brigades, regiments, men, fought recklessly, but no one could tell how; such was the tumult without and within. Such was the obscurity we can scarcely affirm with certainty what we believe we saw. Facts confronted each other and became uncertainties; certainties contradicted each other; impossibilities became certainties. This is why history hesitates.

I do not undertake a general description of the battle of Shiloh. I can only tell how the part of the conflict I saw appeared to me; how my regiment went through it; what it did and what it attempted to do. Beyond this, I can only sum up the general phases. Surprised at seven, and our front line broken; reinforced and confident at ten; stubborn at twelve; desperate at two; our lines crumbling away at three; broken at four; routed and pulverized at five; at six, rallying for a last desperate stand; at which time a third army[210] appears on the field and a new battle properly commences.

At about an hour of sun, while we were eating our breakfasts, vollies of musketry were heard in advance. We remarked, "they are skirmishing pretty sharply in front." By degrees the firing grew steadier and nearer. "If," said we, "it is a reconnoissance of the enemy, it is a bold one; for he is certainly pushing back our advanced troops." Suddenly set in the noise of cannon—jar after jar—quicker and quicker, announcing too truly that the enemy was attacking us in force. Many instinctively buckled on their accoutrements and took their guns. Others continued to manifest the utmost indifference, and some laughed at the vollies which announced the slaughter of comrades. These manifestations were counterfeits. They lied about the real feelings within. A man may put on the outward appearance of indifference or mirth; but when fortune begins to play freaks with all he has or hopes for, he is seldom mirthful, never indifferent.

And now the long roll began to beat. The soldiers flew to their arms and canteens, the officers to their swords and men, the wagoners to their mules and wagons, the surgeons to their tools and ambulances, the sutlers to their books and goods. Our regiment was promptly formed and moved to the front and left. Passing the 32d Illinois in line, we heard a field officer tell them that any one guilty of straggling from the ranks should be court-martialed for cowardice and shot. They cheered the announcement, and our voices loudly responded. Meanwhile stragglers in wagons[211] with wounded men, and in squads with and without arms, began to pour down the road. To our questions they answered that they had fought an hour without support(!); that the enemy was in their camps; that their regiments were all cut to pieces; to all of which ridiculous stories we paid no attention, but passed on. About a mile in advance the battle was now raging with fury. Our regiment moved by the flank, taking direction to the southwest and diverging to the left from the main road on which we had marched the previous Friday evening. We moved in this way through tangled woods for perhaps half a mile, when we filed to the right and shifted by the left flank into line, in which manner we advanced perhaps a quarter of a mile. Among so many obstacles of logs, trees and underbrush, it was impossible to move in line with any degree of steadiness. Our line wavered, sometimes opening into great gaps, and sometimes closing so as to crowd the men together into several ranks, if indeed it can be said that we maintained any ranks at all. Before leaving our camp we had been ordered to load. As soon as we began to advance in line we were ordered to fix bayonets. This increased our confusion, because it increased our expectations, and because it was much more difficult to march through the thick brush with bayonets fixed. At the same time, whose fault it was I do not know, we did not have a skirmisher between us and the enemy.

We had not marched far this way before we met scattered stragglers pouring through the woods. We at length halted, dressed our line, and other regiments of the 1st Brigade formed on our left. At this time a[212] mass of stragglers hurried pell mell past our right, whom a field officer was trying to rally. It proved to be what was left of a regiment of Sherman's division, led, or rather followed, by a lieutenant colonel. By mingled entreaties and threats he succeeded in inducing a few of them to form and close up the interval between our regiment and the one on our left. A sergeant of one of our companies took occasion to speak depreciatingly of their courage; but Major Stone rebuked him, telling him it was no time for crimination now. The Major evidently believed as did most of his men, that the situation was a precarious one, and that we, too, might be likewise routed.

It is a literal fact that some of the regiments of Sherman's and Prentiss' divisions were pulverized by the first onset of the enemy. They fled through the woods in panic, like sheep pursued by wolves. Neither commands, threats nor entreaties were of any avail to check them. They could hear behind them the enemy's musketry and his shout of triumph; but they could not see before them, the revolvers presented to their breasts by their officers, who demanded of them to turn back and face the enemy. Idle waste of words! Honor, glory, country, liberty; defeat, captivity, humiliation, shame;—all were alike to them. You shouted these words to them, but they did not understand you. It was no time for them to think of such things now. They had but one thought, to save themselves from the enemy's balls and bayonets. Of all their hearts cherished, nothing was so dear to them as their worthless carcasses. You shouted "coward!" "dastard!" in their ears. They[213] admitted it and rushed on. They had no colonels, no captains, no country; no firesides, no honor, no future. What was more discouraging than all, officers were sometimes seen to lead in these shameless stampedes.

At this very time regiments and battalions were hurrying forward to reinforce them and close up the breaches caused by their ignoble flight. We could look back and see them coming. It was a glorious, an all-cheering sight, battalion after battalion moving on in splendid order, stemming the tide of these broken masses; not a man straggling; regiments seeming to be animated by one soul. These were the troops of the Fourth Division, and this was the splendid manner in which their general led them against the enemy.

While in this position, where the First Brigade formed its first line at half past eight in the morning, the enemy advanced his batteries and began to shell us vigorously. Before us was a gentle ridge covered with dense woods and brush. The enemy fired at random. We lay flat on the ground and laughed at his shells exploding harmlessly in the tops of the trees above us. Our regiment shifted position two or three times here; but the whole brigade was soon ordered forward to take a position in a cotton field where one of our batteries had been planted. Beyond this field, we for the first time caught sight of the enemy, his regiments with their red banners flashing in the morning sun marching proudly and all undisturbed through the abandoned camps of Prentiss. To him as suddenly appeared the 1st Brigade, widely deployed upon the open field, the ground sloping toward him and not a brush to conceal us from his view; a[214] single blue line, compact and firm, crowned with a hedge of sparkling bayonets, our flags and banners flapping in the breeze; and in our center a battery of six guns, whose dark mouths scowled defiance at him. The enemy's infantry fronted toward us and stood. Ours kneeled and brought their pieces to the ready. Thus for some moments the antagonists surveyed each other. He was on the offensive; we on the defensive. We challenged him to the assault; but he moved not. He was partly masked in the woods and the smoothbore muskets of our regiment could not reach him. But a regiment on the left of the brigade opened fire. The others followed, and the fire was caught up and carried along the entire line. It was some moments before our officers could make the men desist from the useless waste of powder. The enemy's infantry did not reply; but no sooner had our foolish firing ceased than one of his batteries, completely masked, opened upon ours with canister. His first shots took effect. Ours replied a few times, when its officers and men disgracefully fled, leaving two guns in battery on the field.

Having driven off this battery, the enemy turned his guns upon the infantry. But most of his discharges flew over our heads and rattled harmlessly through the tops of the dry trees. He soon, however, obtained our range more perfectly, and we began to suffer from his fire. We were thus a target for his artillery, and could not at that range give him an effective return. Major Stone protested against his men being kept in a position where they were so uselessly exposed; and soon after the brigade abandoned the field, our regiment[215] taking position to the right of it in front of the 17th Kentucky.

The other regiments formed in rear of the field. We were soon after moved to the rear and placed in position in the third reserve line. In this position we were more exposed to the enemy's artillery, his shells passing over the advance lines and bursting frequently over our heads, but generally far in our rear. Soon it was rumored down the ranks that Colonel Williams was wounded. A solid shot had passed through his horse in rear of his saddle, killing the animal and stunning the Colonel so badly that he had to be taken to the rear. Colonel Pugh, of the 41st Illinois, announced that he assumed command of the brigade.

Meantime the battle rose with great fury to our right. The firing grew into a deafening and incessant roar. For an hour we lay in this position, listening to the exploding shells around us; to the noises of battle to our right, and to reports that came in from different parts of the field. The day now seemed to be everywhere going well. It was ten o'clock. The battle had raged for three hours. But on the left of the army the enemy was making no serious attempts; the center, though furiously assailed, held its ground; and it was reported that on the right we were driving the enemy.

About this time General Grant, with two or three staff officers, rode up from the rear. We were about to raise a shout, but our officers ordered us to be silent. An Illinois regiment in front of us cheered lustily as he passed. The General's countenance wore an anxious look, yet bore no evidence of excitement or trepidation.[216] He rode leisurely forward to the front line. We did not see him again till night, and then he was on the bluffs near the river endeavoring to rally his dispirited troops, and General Buell was with him.

About 11 o'clock, our regiment moved so far to the left that our left wing rested behind the cotton field. Looking forward we could see the two abandoned pieces. Side by side, like faithful comrades, they faced the foe, as if ashamed to fly like the ignoble men who had left them to their fate. But why were those guns left thus? We had remained on the field some time after they were abandoned, and had suffered little loss. After we had abandoned the field, volunteers had gone forward and spiked them. Why then could they not have been brought away? To see our cannon abandoned when the enemy could not come and take them away, was discouraging enough. It was an enigma which we did not wish to solve. Beyond the field we could now see the enemy distinctly, and some of the time his movements were plain to us. But he was beyond our range, and our officers would not allow us to fire. This was an excellent position for artillery, the open field affording free range and a fair view of the enemy to the right and left as well as to the front. Our duty was now to support the several batteries which were successively ordered to take position here, and which were successively either ordered away or disabled by the superior practice of the enemy. His artillery kept up a most vigorous fire. The air was full of his screeching missiles, and his shells burst over our heads continually. His canister reached us spent and only capable of afflicting with bruises; his[217] ordinary shells did little mischief; his case shot had the most effect. But rapid as was his firing, when lying down, we suffered comparatively little.

Meanwhile the battle commenced furiously immediately to the right of the field and in front of the position from which we had just moved. A fierce yell of the enemy mingled with the increasing din of musketry announced the approach of his assailing columns. And now, as though a thousand angry thunders were joining their voices, the incessant jar grated horribly upon the ear, drowning all other sounds. The discharge of our artillery could scarcely be heard. Dense clouds of smoke lifted themselves above the combatants. We listened breathless with expectation. Suddenly the firing ceased, and a wild shout of triumph caught up by listening comrades, borne far along the line, announced that the assault had been repulsed. And now in the storm a few moments lull, and the assault was renewed with the same fury as before and with the same result. And thus, after battering those lines for two hours with his artillery, the enemy assailed them for three hours with his infantry, his attacking columns withering away each time before the well-directed fire of our heroic troops. Nowhere on all the field of battle did the storm rage so fiercely. Nowhere did the enemy assail and renew the assault with such rage, and nowhere did our troops fight with such inspiring valor. Nor was there a place on the field which after the battle showed so many marks of conflict. At one point, where the underbrush was heavy, it was for several rods around literally mowed down with rifle balls. Saplings no larger[218] than a man's wrist were struck as many as seven times. The range of the balls seems to have been perfect, few striking lower than two, or higher than five feet from the ground. When it is known that this storm must have showered through the ranks of living multitudes, was anything more needed to account for the immense number of dead that strewed this part of the field. The troops that held this part of our line were the 3d Brigade of the Fourth Division, commanded by Gen. Lauman.

Thus we lay behind this open field silent spectators of the battle. Mann's Missouri battery was in position on the left of our regiment, and fired with great rapidity and effect. General Hurlbut twice rode up and complimented them, and his words moved the gallant Dutchmen to tears. At times during the conflict around us we could hear its noise on the more distant parts of the field. As far as we could hear beyond the 3d Brigade to our right, the firing grew more and more irregular, and farther and farther to the rear, which told us too well that our right and center were being crowded back. Men that came from our regimental camp reported that most of the forenoon the enemy's shells had been falling there, and that now, at noon, his infantry was very near. The 2d Brigade of the 4th Division which had been sent early in the morning to support Sherman near the center had been broken by overwhelming numbers and driven from its positions with great loss. Everywhere, except on the left, our line had crumbled before the enemy. Now, let it be said to the honor of the 4th Division, he had found his Farm of Hougomont. The 1st and 3d Brigades of Hurlbut and the 2d Brigade[219] of Sherman, commanded by Colonel Dave Stuart, had held this position unshaken since morning, and the enemy's assaults had only served to multiply his dead.

At length he lost his reason in his baffled rage; and failing in his repeated efforts to break the 3d Brigade, and thus propagate on our left the disorder of the center, he undertook to carry the cotton field and capture the annoying battalions behind it by direct assault. A brigade leaped the fence, line after line, and formed on the opposite side of the field. It was a splendid sight, those men in the face of death closing and dressing their ranks, hedges of bayonets gleaming above them, and their proud banners waving in the breeze; our guns, shotted with canister, made great gaps in their ranks, which rapidly closed, not a man faltering in his place. And now their field officers waved their hats. A shout arose, and that column, splendidly aligned, took the double quick and moved on magnificently. We could not repress exclamations of admiration. There is a grandeur in heroism, even when connected with a bad cause. We could not hate those men. Were they committing a crime? They had been educated to love what we hated. They could not advance so splendidly upon death itself, and imagine it was for aught but a noble cause. Nevertheless, it seemed to us like the wrong assaulting the right—like the night advancing upon the day; dark and gloomy, it is true, but with all the majesty of night. We saw the truth; we pitied the event, but recognized the inexorable necessity of firing upon those men. Our officers ordered us to reserve our fire and wait for the word. On, on came[220] their unwavering line. Not a man faltered; not a gun they fired. Not a gap occurred, save where our canister went plunging through, and these were speedily closed. Suddenly a few rifles were heard in the 32d Illinois on our left, and a field officer was seen to fall. And then all along our regimental line a crash of muskets maintained in a steady roar, followed by a cloud of blinding smoke, through which we could see nothing. We knew not whether they stood or fell, halted, retreated, or advanced. We only knew that their bullets at times rattled through the fence, and that some of our men were shot. We continued to load and fire until our officers ordered us to cease firing, and then it was not without much difficulty that they could make us understand and obey them. When the smoke cleared away, we saw what was left of this splendid brigade, retreating in good order by the right flank, by which movement they placed a hill between them and us. Singular enough, many muskets again commenced firing. The enemy's dead and wounded lay so thickly upon the field where his charge was first checked, that they looked like a line of troops lying down to receive our fire. It was some time before we could believe that such was not the case. When we saw our victory, there went up an exultant shout. It was a moment of ineffable joy to us. No one who has not felt it knows how a soldier feels in such a moment of triumph. We had served ten months, and marched and watched and fought, and suffered, and this was our first victory. But that single moment was sufficient to compensate us for all we had endured to gain it.



The enemy massing against the left—Our successful stand—Retreat and our successive positions therein—We form the left of Prentiss—His gallant conduct and capture—Capture of Major Stone—He and Prentiss vindicated—Scene on the bluff—Night and Buell—The cannonade—The night.

Our triumph was but the beginning of disaster. From our position we could see the enemy preparing a storm which was to sweep us from the field. Regiment after regiment of his infantry filed along our front beyond the field, and took position in front of Colonel Stuart's brigade, which formed the extreme left of the line. Once or twice his cavalry formed as if to charge us, and then disappeared. This was probably an attempt to mask the movements of his other troops. It did not succeed. We watched with harrowing expectations this masking of his battalions on our left. We noticed, too, that toward the right the firing had grown feeble and irregular. This told us that the enemy was withdrawing troops from the right and concentrating them against this part of the line, which was all that remained unbroken. In the meantime would we be reinforced? We could hardly expect it; for we knew that our other troops were broken and that there were no reserves. Turning to ourselves we saw that we had already suffered[222] heavily. Our remaining guns were well nigh disabled, and much of our infantry was hors de combat. And yet we saw that our only resource was our own strength and courage. Everything seemed now at stake and depending upon us,—life, honor, the salvation of the army and perhaps the success of our cause. We looked the crisis in the face, and every soldier seemed to resolve to meet it like a man. Most of the 1st Brigade had been moved to the left to support the expected point of attack. General Hurlbut was there to command the men in person, and to inspire them by his brave example as he had already done. Half of our regiment was moved to the left, but was not taken beyond the end of the field.

At half past three o'clock, the enemy's infantry in a column of several lines moved to the attack. From our position we could see the immense mass sweeping through the half open woods. The spectacle charmed even the dread it occasioned. At the same time his artillery, strengthened by the arrival of additional batteries, began to fire with greatly increased vigor, and his infantry renewed the battle on the right of the field. Everywhere around us the storm began to rage; shot, shell, grape, canister came howling and whistling through our lines. The very trees seemed to protest against it. Missiles flew everywhere. Lying on our faces we could not escape them. Our artillery, the 2d Michigan battery, replied feebly but bravely. Their horses were shot down and their men swept from their guns. We could not but admire the heroic conduct of these men, and shudder to see them fall. When we saw them go down[223] before those terrible vollies, horses, riders and gunners thrown upon each other, we forgot all feelings but pity, thick as was the danger around us. Their battery was finally disabled and compelled to withdraw into the woods. It is impossible to depict this hour of conflict. All the noises of battle commingled rose in a bewildering roar, and above all we could hear the cries of the combatants as they joined, and the shouts of multitudes, announcing a successful or an unsuccessful charge; for we knew not whether these voices were of friends or foes. It was a swift, anxious hour.

By four o'clock, the left was flanked and turned. Regiment after regiment was successively broken from extreme left to right. An enfilading battery opened upon us with canister. Their cartridges exhausted in opposing the flanking fire, and mowed down by the enfilading canister, our troops began to retreat in disorder through the woods. General Hurlbut rode up to Major Stone, and said in a calm, low tone, "I look to the 3d Iowa to retrieve the fortunes of this field." Those who heard those memorable words will never forget how the general looked then—a calm example of heroism amid those thickening disasters. It was an occasion which called forth the highest qualities of our natures, and told us who were men. Before us the enemy's dead strewed thickly over the field, showed us what discipline and courage could do. Above us the hissing and screaming of missiles; around us the roar of battle rising louder and louder; assailed in front and flank; the enemy to the left crowding our fugitive troops and pressing furiously on our rear; the troops to our[224] right swept back; we beheld ourselves the left and the front of the army—all of those five divisions that remained unshaken; and we had heard the words of the General committing the fortunes of the day to us. I would not write boastingly of my own regiment, nor in the least disparage the conduct of the gallant men who had fought on other parts of the field. That we still held this position was owing not more to the fact that it had proven unassailable to the enemy's infantry, than to the heroic conduct of the troops who had fought immediately on our right and left. I do not on this account claim for my comrades a degree of courage which others did not possess. I merely state the fact, and challenge the successful contradiction of those who have claimed the same honor for other regiments, that the 3d Iowa was the last regiment of the front line to retreat from the position it first occupied.

Such was the situation around us at half past four in the afternoon. Major Stone resolved not to disappoint the General, but to hold the position at whatever hazard. Our line was withdrawn for better protection a few rods from the fence. A part of the 2d Michigan Battery, commanded by the gallant Lieutenant ——, was yet with us. We were assailed by a concentrated fire of artillery,—a direct fire from the front, a cross fire from the right, and an enfilading fire from the left. General Hurlbut again rode up, explained to Major Stone the situation, that his right was driven back and his left broken, that it was the enemy's fault that our regiment was not captured, and ordered the Major to take us to the rear. We moved back about three hundred yards[225] and again faced toward the enemy. Here we came in contact with the enemy's infantry, pressing confusedly on after the fugitive troops behind our left. We availed ourselves of every shelter the ground afforded without breaking our line, and engaged him at close range. We were yet almost equal to a fresh regiment. He had not expected to meet such resistance. The buckshot from our smoothbore muskets flew too thickly for him, and he recoiled in astonishment. For a few moments the field was clear. Looking forward to our old position, we beheld the enemy's hated flag floating above the house behind which we had rested most of the day. Meanwhile we replenished our cartridge-boxes with ammunition, which had been previously brought up from the rear.

The enemy again advanced upon us. This regiment was the 22d Alabama. We received it as we had done the others, at close range. They raised their demoniac yell and pressed on at a charging step. They came so near that our officers used their revolvers against them. But like the others, they recoiled and retreated before our thick fire, leaving us masters of the ground. The enemy subsequently acknowledged that our range was here most perfect, and that this regiment was well nigh destroyed in this attempt, and did not again participate in the action either day.

But masses of troops now crowding past our right, forced us to another retreat. We fell back about three hundred yards and again faced toward the enemy, and re-formed our line. Major Stone, in the absence of senior officers, had been for some time gallantly fighting[226] his own battle. General Prentiss was now to our right with five regiments of Smith's division, endeavoring to hold the enemy in check. He rode up to the Major and explained to him what he was trying to do—to hold the enemy in check, if possible, till the army could again form in the rear, or till night should put an end to the battle. He asked the Major to assist him, and that our regiment should become his left. The Major readily assented, and agreed to obey his orders.

Here, then, if the spectacle of the field was appalling, it was sublime. Six regiments disputing the field with the enemy's army, and delaying his expected triumph. He crowded furiously on, assailing us in front and flank, his soldiers howling with mingled exultation and rage, their voices rising even above the din of battle. He no longer came in lines nor in columns, but in confused masses, broken in pursuit as our army had been in retreat. His missiles swept the field in all directions. Our dead fell thickly. Our wounded streamed to the rear. We no longer had lines of battle, but fought in squads and clusters. The settling smoke obscured the vision. Comrades knew not who stood or fell. All was confusion and chaos around us.

A mass of the enemy broke the regiment on our right and separated us from Prentiss. We were again compelled to retreat. We fell back in disorder, keeping up a brisk fire upon the enemy, who pressed on. The Major before ordering the retreat had determined to make another stand in front of our regimental camp, and make his command a nucleus on which the broken troops of Prentiss might rally. Reaching this position,[227] he sent Adjutant Sessions to form the left, while he in person undertook to form the right. The right was partially sheltered by a hollow; the left was on high ground and completely exposed. From the latter point we for the moment discerned the battle around us. To our right and rear as far as the eye could reach, through the woods and over the fields—at least a mile, our line of battle in full retreat,—infantry, artillery, wagons, ambulances, all rushing to the rear—a scene of confusion and dismay—an army degenerating into a rout. In front of us, partly obscured in smoke, the enemy's assailing infantry, while to our left and rear his multitudes were pouring through the camp of the 41st Illinois, and hurrying to cut off our retreat. In a few moments he would be full in our rear. It was no time to hesitate now. We must run the gauntlet he had prepared for us or be captured. We preferred to take the chances and run. The left wing gave way and ran in disorder through our camp. Passing through it, we saw to our late left, masses of the enemy very near, firing rapidly and rushing towards us with frantic yells. On the other side, led by a regiment well aligned, he was directing himself so as to cut off our retreat. Between these two fires we were completely exposed and suffered our greatest loss. At no time had we been exposed to so thick a fire. More of our men fell within the lines of our own regimental camp than anywhere else upon the field. Major Stone, retreating last with the right wing, crossed the open space between our camp and drill ground, and coming again into the woods, ran full against a rebel regiment, and with a few men was[228] captured. With the exception of those who fell, the rest of our regiment escaped.

Soon after, General Prentiss retreating with the remainder of his troops, came upon our camp ground, and looking forward, saw the gap closed through which he had hoped to escape. Exposed to a concentrated fire from all sides, his regiments completely broken, there was no alternative but to surrender. The officer who received the surrender of Major Stone, a major of a Tennessee regiment, received also that of Gen. Prentiss. The regiments captured here were the 8th, 12th, and 14th Iowa, and the 58th Illinois.

The capture of General Prentiss affords a most striking example of the reward the most meritorious conduct may sometimes receive at the hands of public opinion. Because he held the field with a handful of troops, regardless of the number against him, and finally retreated, not to escape danger, but, when he saw the enemy surrounding him, to escape capture;—because he was thus willing to sacrifice himself, if necessary, to hold the enemy in check and save the army, the imputation of cowardice was cast upon him and the brave men who were captured with him. His fault consisted alone in not knowing when to retreat; theirs in obeying their general too well. The same imputation was cast upon Major Stone, and used against him in the late gubernatorial campaign in Iowa, by his political and personal enemies. It is vain to say that a man exhibited a lack of courage in a day of battle at its close, who, through all its storm from early in the morning, had fought so bravely and so well;—and this, too,[229] because he was too tardy in retreat! But he has since triumphed gloriously at Vicksburg, and in the hearts of the people of Iowa.

I have always believed that this effort of General Prentiss delayed the enemy an hour, and prevented the capture of our army. It was about five o'clock when he surrendered. A mile behind him, and near the landing, the army was forming its last line of resistance. Toward this one point the retreat had converged from all parts of the field. Here the troops were crowded together in disorderly masses. Men were separated from their colors, and mixed in inextricable confusion. There were no longer any regiments, brigades or divisions. All was an immense mob—a great rout, halting because it could retreat no further. This was the grand army which yesterday surveyed itself so proudly! To-night it looked at itself and was appalled. The stoutest hearts sickened at the sight. Officers called upon their men to rally, but they did not heed them. Every one seemed to think that their commands did not apply to him. Men looked blankly into each other's countenances, and read only their own dismay. But the delay of the enemy gave time for reflection, and they began to realize their situation. Behind them was an impassable river staying their retreat. To plunge into it was ignominious death. Before was a victorious foe, coming relentlessly on. To face towards him and fight was, at least, to die with honor. Many began to be seized with this heroic resolution.

During the day, Captain Madison had with great difficulty succeeded in getting four of his siege guns into[230] position on the bluffs. The remnants of the broken regiments had halted and planted their colors near them. Stragglers came up and joined them, and by degrees a line of battle grew and extended itself to the right. Under the direction of Colonel Webster, chief of staff to General Grant, about thirty pieces of cannon were got into position along this line and opened upon the enemy.

For some time we had noticed on the opposite side of the river a signal flag and a battalion of cavalry. We heard a band of music playing martial airs. A strange general was also seen riding with Grant. It was he!—It was Buell! The news spread and was rumored everywhere. "Take courage," our officers said. "We will hold them till night; to-morrow Buell's army will be on the field, and we will easily defeat them." Nevertheless, we had the gloomiest doubts. Would his troops be here in time? It was an unheard-of thing in this war for our generals to be in time to support each other. We were divided between hopes and doubts, until Ammon's brigade of Nelson's division marched up the hill.

But we were astonished beyond measure at the enemy. When there was no longer anything to oppose him, he had halted. He had delayed an hour when perseverance alone was necessary to make his victory complete. When he could have seized the great prize almost without effort, he declined to take it. He, too, hesitated at the turning point of his destiny. It was his fatality and our salvation. But we did not fully understand his situation. His troops had suffered terribly,[231] as the assailing party always does when the assailed fight bravely. They had been broken in the pursuit well nigh as badly as we in the rout. Many of his men had straggled from their colors and begun to plunder our camps. Besides, General Prentiss had assured him that we had fortifications near the river. These circumstances decided him to re-form his lines before making the final assault. Before he could accomplish this, night began to close upon the scene.

Nevertheless, his right wing was thrown forward to the river, and moved down against us. But its advance was obstructed by an almost impassable ravine, at which point the gunboats Tyler and Lexington attacked it vigorously. At the same time Ammon confronted him with his full battalions; and beyond him, behind our now blazing batteries, a long blue line of infantry extended. The enemy halted and limited himself to keeping up a furious cannonade. As if out of respect to our brave men in front, his missiles almost invariably passed over their heads and fell among the disgraceful stragglers in the rear.

Here the scene was humiliating in the extreme. On the bottom below the landing and in the ravines leading to it, were thousands of stragglers belonging mostly to the regiments broken in the morning, whom no efforts were available to rally. The enemy's shells burst thick and fast among them. The transports not engaged in crossing Buell's troops were compelled to anchor in the stream or tie to the opposite bank, to prevent being loaded down by them and sunk. Some plunged into the stream and were drowned, endeavoring to swim[232] across. Others swam the bayou which puts into the river below the landing, and hid themselves in the woods beyond it.

A furious artillery duel, our gunboats and siege guns joining with their hoarser voices, was kept up until night cast its welcome shadows over the scene of horror. The moon rose and threw a ghastly light upon the field. The roar of battle gave place to the dull sounds of moving multitudes in front, and to the noise of transports crossing and recrossing continually in the rear, save, when at intervals from one of the gunboats, a jar of cannon, the noise of a flying projectile, and far to the front, the crack of an exploding shell, announced to the enemy that we were not yet wholly his.



The battle on Monday—Defeat of the enemy's right wing—Firmness of the left—Gallant conduct of Gen. Hurlbut—Col. Johnson in command of a part of our divided brigade—Victory—Flight of the enemy and failure to pursue.

All night the troops of Buell continued to cross. Regiment after regiment filed up the bluff, took position in line of battle, and awaited the dawn of day. During the fore part of the night, a moist, warm breeze blew from the south. About 10 P. M. the sky was overcast, and there began a drizzling, uncomfortable rain. Nevertheless, the soldiers, blanketless and weary, lay down and slept.

No one who has not experienced it knows with what a sleep a soldier sleeps after a great battle. But ours was interrupted at regular intervals by the jar of the gunboat howitzer, which had been ordered to throw shells during the night to annoy the enemy. Thus awakened and closing our eyes again to sleep, we saw in our brain-fever all the terrible images of the day's battle—hedges of glittering bayonets; blue masses swaying to and fro; and that last appalling image, the army in retreat—gigantic even in ruin, sublime in its own dismay. These images, flitting ghostlike and without effort through our minds seemed to possess the reality of day. Could I have produced them on canvas as I saw them in my mind that night, what a panorama it would have been.


But the generals could not have slept, they were busy with the preparations for the morning's battle. During the night two divisions and a part of a third succeeded in getting across. Lines of battle grew in the darkness and extended themselves over the hills. All expected victory. The plan was an admirable one—to turn the enemy's right and get possession of the Pittsburg and Corinth road, his only line of retreat. But of this of course the men knew nothing. Buell's men were as weary with marching as we with fighting, and all slept.

The day dawned. Our men arose and awaited the order to advance. The enemy, too, began to form his lines of battle. To his soldiers, who knew nothing of our being reinforced, our capture was expected without difficulty. "We will have them by eight o'clock," said some. Others thought we would hold out till nine and possibly later. Both hosts were full of expectation. With what a shock, then, would they join! Nevertheless the enemy formed his ranks slowly. His officers had to use curses and threats to induce the men to move with sufficient alacrity. Weary with yesterday's battle, added to their previous fatigues, a stupor clung to their limbs which not even a sense of their situation could dissipate.

Suddenly they heard the reports of rifles. Their pickets driven in announced the advance of our troops. In a moment our infantry confronted them. If the earth had sunk under their feet they could not have been more stupified. Batteries mounted the crests of the ridges and thundered at them. Lines of skirmishers appeared and vanished, followed by full battalions advancing[235] at a charge and shouting victory! victory! It was not possible that the broken host of yesterday had renewed its strength and were turning upon them. No, Buell was on the field. They realized it immediately, expected the worst, and determined to meet the shock like men.

The Fourth Division rested at this time on the bluffs as a reserve. We listened with great impatience to the noise of battle on the left, and to the frequent reports that came to us from that part of the field. The firing rose and continued heavily for two or three hours, growing the while more and more distant. The end of this beginning is known. The enemy fought desperately, inflicting upon us heavy loss, but he was forced back several miles, losing part of his artillery. By nine o'clock his stragglers began to pace through the woods towards Corinth, reporting Buell on the field and the day lost. By twelve o'clock this part of his lines seems to have been pushed nearly to Shiloh Springs, and crumbling and streaming through the woods, is said to have left the field in rout. Why Buell did not get possession of the Corinth road is more than the troops who subsequently passed over this ground could understand. It must have been owing to the stubborn resistance our attack met with on the center and right. Here the battle rose as soon as it was well in progress on the left, and raged heavily and with varying fortunes until four o'clock in the afternoon.

About ten o'clock General Hurlbut was ordered to move forward his division and reinforce the right. "Here," said the General, looking at his fragments of[236] battalions, "is what I am ordered to march against the enemy." He then ordered the regiments to be counted. The 3d Iowa numbered one hundred and forty men, and First Lieutenant George W. Crosley, as ranking officer, was in command. We moved by the flank, the First Brigade in advance, and General Hurlbut and Colonel Pugh at the head of the column. Thus this remnant of the Fourth Division, gallant men whom nothing could dismay, led by a general whom in one day they had learned to love, again moved forward into the battle. Having advanced perhaps a mile, we came within range of the enemy's shells, which fell in the rear of our line in this part of the field with great rapidity. This firing fortunately did us no damage. We reached the point we were ordered to support, and the division was drawn up in front. The battle here raged heavily, and the line in front of us which was engaged swayed to and fro.

To our right and rear, one of our batteries was engaged with one of the enemy's, a short distance to our left and front. The duel they kept up was rapid and revengeful. They fired shot and shell, which flew directly over our heads and struck and burst behind us and before us. A soldier in our ranks expressed the wonder whether the battery on our right was ours or the enemy's. A voice from behind him answered, "It is ours of course." Looking around us we saw General Hurlbut, seated on his horse and smoking calmly. Such was the conduct of this brave man. Whatever the danger, he kept constantly near his line, inspiring us with his presence, and never omitting a word that could encourage his meanest soldier.


In front of us we could catch glimpses of the battle. Regiments advanced, disappeared in the thick woods, and came back in disorder. It was a succession of successful and unsuccessful attacks. Now fortune was with us, and now with the enemy. Behind all the Fourth Division stood firmly, stayed the retreating battalions and held the line. Through all, the enemy's battery held its position and kept up its cannonade. Its shells seemed omnipresent. Its projectiles falling far and near to right and left, scaling the tree tops or crashing through their boughs, it seemed to overlook the field and talk to the army's whole right wing.

General Hurlbut several times changed the disposition of his line as circumstances seemed to dictate. A regiment retreating in confusion by the flank, broke through it cutting it about the center of our regiment. At this precise moment, Col. Pugh began to move the brigade to the left. In the noise and confusion, the command was not heard by those of the right, and one regiment thus separated from the rest; nor was the movement known until the left of the brigade had disappeared. This portion took position in the reserve line and was not engaged during the day. The right of the brigade, however, including about forty of our regiment with our colors, were to play a very different part.

Col. Emory K. Johnson, of the 28th Illinois, assumed command, and began immediately to advance the line. As it moved into more open ground and discovered its length, it was evident he had command of a greater part of the brigade. Having advanced a considerable distance, the line halted and volunteer skirmishers were[238] called for. A sufficient number immediately went forward and when about a hundred and fifty yards to the front, the line again advanced. The skirmishers soon discovered the enemy moving by the left flank along our front in the edge of a wide field. At the same time skirmishers farther to the left reported him massing troops in that direction, with the apparent design of flanking us. Col. Johnson immediately took measures to meet this movement. He moved his line to the left perhaps a quarter of a mile and then changed its direction to the front.

Suddenly we confronted the enemy, standing in compact line of battle, as if just dressed to begin an advance. We halted and both lines began a vigorous and steady fire. On our part there was no swaying nor straggling. It was a fair stand-up fight, the antagonists exposed to view, and deliberately shooting each other down. The enemy must have outnumbered us, for his right extended some distance beyond our left. It was a splendid test of the morale of the two forces. Victory was with us. We had expended from twenty to thirty rounds of ammunition, when the enemy's line gave way and ours followed at a charge. We pushed him to the edge of a field, over which he fled in disorder, suffering severely under our fire. A part of a battery fell into our hands, around which dead men and horses lay thickly, showing how severely it had suffered. The enemy, escaped across the field, and began a feeble fire from the opposite side.

All at once our line was ordered to retreat. It fell back rapidly and not without some disorder, and took[239] position with the other troops. I have never been able to ascertain why this retreat was made. At the time it was commanded, the enemy's fire was so slight, that without its being increased we could have easily crossed the field. Neither part of our regiment was engaged during the remainder of the day. Fresh troops went forward to reinforce the right, and the battle raged with unvarying steadiness all along the line, the enemy being gradually forced back till about four o'clock, when he finally disappeared from the field, and the cavalry rode forward with loud shouts to pursue. We who knew nothing of the ineffectiveness of cavalry against infantry, and especially untrained cavalry, and on a timbered field, expected them to perform prodigies in disorganizing the retreating enemy. But when we learned they had only followed him a short distance, picking up a few stragglers, "the man on the horse" sunk profoundly low in our estimation. As it was, they doubtless did all they could. Breckinridge's division covered the enemy's retreat, and presented a strong front to them when they approached.

The soldiers now expected the order to pursue. It is now almost useless to inquire why this was not done; but history will demand to know why nearly two months of hardship and suffering, including the recall of the army of the Mississippi from its theater of successful operations, was required to force the evacuation of Corinth, which might now have been accomplished by twenty-four hours vigorous action. General Grant's apology for not pursuing the enemy is expressed in his official report: "My force was too much fatigued during[240] two days hard fighting, and exposed in the open air to a drenching rain during the intervening night, to pursue immediately. Night closed in cloudy and with heavy rain, making the roads impracticable for artillery by the next morning." This statement admits of some qualification. None of Buell's army had been engaged but one day; and of this but a part of Wood's Division, and none of Thomas' had been engaged at all. The latter, though greatly fatigued by the long and hurrying march they had made to reach the scene of conflict, were eager to participate in the honors of the occasion, and might have been advantageously used in the pursuit. At least, were we not as able to pursue as the enemy to retreat? He had suffered as much in fatigue as we, and proportionally far more in the losses of the battle. He had marched against us expecting everything, and had gained nothing but slaughter and defeat. His right wing had left the field in rout. His whole army, conscious of our now superior strength and of their utter inability to make a stand against us, whatever the position they might take, was retreating demoralized on a single road which defiled for twenty miles through an almost uninterrupted forest, and which was now almost impassable for his artillery and train. Before reaching Corinth his retreat had degenerated into a rout, and his army had dissolved into a disorganized and straggling multitude. If we may believe the concurrent accounts of citizens, added to those of his own soldiers whom we subsequently captured, such was their dismay, that a pursuit conducted with ordinary skill and vigor, would have resulted in immense captures of[241] men and materiel. The enemy succeeded in getting his artillery through to Corinth after the night's rain, which General Grant avers made the road impassable for artillery. But had this been the case, a successful pursuit could have been made without doubt by infantry and cavalry alone. Who then shall say, that, within the utmost scope of endurance, General Grant should not have pursued as soon as the enemy retreated? The soldiers seemed to think so, and murmured because it was not attempted.

Nevertheless, whole regiments dissolved into squads and scattered over the field in search of their dead and wounded; and it was not long before the entire field was covered with stragglers and plunderers of the dead. To put a stop to this, the cavalry was ordered to get up a panic among them. They rode frantically over the field, circulating the report that the enemy's cavalry was upon them. The effect was admirable. In a few minutes the panic communicated itself to all parts of the field, and stragglers without number poured through the woods toward the river like herds of frightened brutes. No one could tell what he was running from. Each saw his fellow straggler run and followed him, seized and mastered by an indefinable, vague dread. At one point an officer, meeting a gang of stragglers, advised them to congregate for their safety upon an open field which was without a fence! The simpletons actually followed his advice.

General Sherman pursued the enemy a short distance and returned. The men of our regiment, after collecting their wounded and most of their dead, assembled at[242] our regimental camp. Through the energy and prudence of Quartermaster Clark, during the forenoon of Monday, our tents had been let down to the ground and our baggage hauled to the landing. Thus the former were saved from being greatly injured by the missiles of the battle, and the latter from capture by the enemy. The baggage was not brought up till the next day. We divided and ate a little food, put up our tents, and without covering lay down to rest. With blankets for their shrouds our dead comrades lay near us. Scattered over the field were thousands of wounded whose sufferings we could not alleviate. Under ordinary circumstances it would seem that men in this situation would scarcely wish to sleep at all. But we slept a sound and joyous sleep.

All night it rained heavily and with scarcely a moment's intermission. Storm, darkness and gloom—a fitting termination of those two dreadful days.



A survey of the field—Plundering the dead—Civilians and relic-seekers—Congratulatory orders—Camp on a field of graves.

Drenched by the rain and without covering, the troops of Buell had lain all night on the advance portions of the field in line of battle. In the morning many of them began to discharge their pieces to get the wet loads out of them. These reports caused great consternation among the stragglers in their rear, who fled toward the river firing their pieces as if to repeat the alarm. For some time we did not heed these noises; but soon hosts of stragglers, most of them armed, began to pour through our camp, reporting that the enemy was renewing the attack. Our teamsters began to hitch up their mules; our sutler gathered up his books and commenced a retreat toward the landing. In a moment our regiment was in line. Captain Smith was in command. We joined the 32d Illinois on our left and stretched our line across the road which ran between their camp and ours, thus intercepting the terror-stricken herd that poured down it, and compelling them to take positions in our ranks. We stacked arms and broke ranks as soon as the panic had subsided.


During the afternoon, I yielded to curiosity, and with some comrades took a stroll over the field. From our extreme front camps to the river, and for three or four miles to right and left, the dead were everywhere to be found. Upon the crests of certain hills, in camps and in open fields they lay more thickly than elsewhere. One could discern with unmistakable certainty on what parts of the field the battle had raged with greatest fury. Nowhere did the enemy's dead lay so thickly as on the open field behind which the First Brigade of the Fourth Division had fought on Sunday, and nowhere did our own dead lay so thickly as at certain points to the right and left of it.

Soldiers were scattered everywhere over the field, some prompted by curiosity, some by a desire to revisit some particular spot where his regiment had fought and suffered, where some dear comrade had fallen, or where he had witnessed while it was taking place, some particular feature of the battle, and some by a desire to plunder the dead.

For ourselves, we paid particular attention to the position our regiment had held for five hours on Sunday. "Here," said we, "we repulsed the charge on the field and piled up the enemy's dead. Here Mann's Battery engaged the enemy; here we supported the steel guns and here the 2d Michigan. And what a storm was here! And here was our first, and here our second position in retreat; and here we made our last stand, and then——".

The dead presented every possible appearance. Some of them looked calm and natural as if taking a quiet[245] sleep; not a mark of any emotion; not a distorted line in their features. It did not seem possible that these men could have fallen in battle. Other countenances exhibited traces of rage; others of fear. One rebel lay dead holding a cartridge in his teeth. We noticed that the countenances of our own dead seemed much more natural than those of the enemy.

As to the appearance of the wounds which caused death, no general idea can be given. Some did not seem to be wounded at all, but only asleep. There were no traces of violence or injury upon them, except, perhaps, the hair in a particular place would be clotted with blood. Under it, a buckshot had perhaps penetrated the skull. Many were shot in the face, and showed a ball hole under the eye or on either cheek, and a pool of clotted blood under the head. Many were shot in the chest and abdomen. Their bodies were swelled enormously, and a watery liquid bubbled and gurgled from their wounds. Some of their eyes were closed. Others lay on their backs, staring an unearthly stare, as though the light of a strange world were breaking on them. Some bore evidences of having expired in great agony, and looked sickening in the extreme. Their eyes were grim, their faces yellow and their mouths filled with foam. Other bodies were torn to pieces, as if by the explosion of a percussion shell. Others were disembowelled by canister, and beheaded, unlimbed and cut in two with solid shot.

Less than a mile from the landing, five of the enemy's dead lay in a row behind a tree. They were evidently killed by the same missile. The skull of the first was[246] torn open on one side; the second was struck in the neck, the third in the chest, and so on, as though a descending shell had struck them while standing behind the tree in a row. Near them were two other bodies which bore evidence of having been killed by an exploding shell.

After surveying the field and its multitude of dead, I returned, sickened, depressed, and disgusted with all things. Was it possible that such masses of corruption had been the dwelling places of immortal souls? Could spirits inhabit such foul tenements, and then fly to the stars? Such were the temples in which the images of God were appointed to dwell,—beautiful, it may be, when whole; but when broken, how monstrous! I hated myself because I was flesh and blood. I could have killed myself, had it not been for the thought of becoming like them. I was equally disgusted with war, with peace, with life. I hated peace; for looking back upon it, it seemed cowardly. I hated war; for it was a work of destruction. It was against life, that is to say, against God. I hated life; because it was a scene either of war or of peace. For a while it seemed to me as though men were made only to play a little, worthless game, and then sink into nothingness. To such an extent were my feelings depressed, while contemplating this sickening scene of horror.

After the battle came the sad duty of caring for the wounded and burying the dead. Late as Tuesday evening we saw ambulances bringing in the wounded; and Thursday night many of the dead were unburied. It must not be supposed that our army thus neglected its[247] own dead. It was the first duty with the men of the Third Iowa to bury their dead comrades. It was done as well as circumstances would permit, and head-boards were placed at the graves with suitable inscriptions. How the wounded were cared for, they and their attendants best can tell. They were placed upon hospital boats, and sent as rapidly as possible to northern hospitals. Fatigue parties were detailed to bury the enemy's dead. After the first day after the battle, this duty was anything but agreeable. Immense pits were dug where the dead lay thickest, to which the bodies were dragged by means of horses and then thrown in and buried. Thus were the heroes rewarded with nameless graves. But as they had been comrades in peril, they were now comrades in their last resting-place. To some of these graves our soldiers had placed head-boards. I noticed one with an inscription like this:—

Fourteen Dead Rebels,
Killed April 6th and 7th,

On the cotton field where we had fought on Sunday, it was said that one hundred and thirty had been buried in one of these pits. Most of our regiments buried their dead by themselves, thus forming a little regimental cemetery, around which they built an enclosure. The tardiness and carelessness with which the enemy's dead were buried was a disgrace to our army. Wednesday afternoon, I saw putrid corpses lying upon an open field within ten rods of General Nelson's tent, and in plain view of it.

There were more men ready to engage in plundering[248] the dead, than voluntarily to assist in burying them;—hyenas in uniform; vermin who creep over the field of battle by night and rifle the pockets of the slain,—who pull the boots from their feet, and cut off their fingers for the rings that are on them; birds of prey too despicable to be classed with buzzards,—who are too cowardly to pursue living game; but who skulk in the rear in battle, and when it is over, go forth and plunder alike friend and foe, whose arms can no longer strike, and whose voices can no longer rebuke them. Crawling over the field by night; skulking through the woods by day; when you meet them they tell you they are in search of dead or wounded comrades; they entertain you with tales of their own marvelous exploits in the battle. But if you watch them, it will not be many days before they will have "trophies" to exhibit,—swords, money, watches, jewelry. There is but one way to deal with such persons. To give them trial by court martial, is to insult discipline and to abuse the service. Mounted patrols should be detailed to scour the field after a battle, and should shoot without questioning whoever is caught plundering the dead. I do not mean to say that valuable property should be buried with dead men. But the dead should be collected and buried in the usual way, and their effects retained or disposed of by the proper officers for the benefit of the Government.

After a lapse of a few days, an army of civilians appeared on the field;—men who had come in search of missing friends, or to care for wounded ones,—agents of Sanitary Commissions sent to nurse the wounded, and having charge of stores for their benefit, who,[249] according to report, lived upon the stores and spent their time rambling over the field in search of relics and gratifying curiosity. They permeated the woods like a host of locusts. It was the especial delight of the boys to impose upon them. A soldier would cut a small stick, shoot two or three holes in it from his revolver, and sell it to one of them for a dollar as a cane cut from the battle-field. A soldier found an old, rusty, musician's sword, and sold it to a civilian for ten dollars, stating that he had captured it from a rebel officer! Many such tricks were practiced both to our amusement and profit.

The battle changed materially the morale of the army. It had diminished our inclination to boast. If it had not taught us to respect ourselves less, it had taught us to respect our enemies more. It diminished our confidence in General Grant, and greatly increased it in General Hurlbut. From the former, a general without experience and an army equally so, it is true we could not reasonably expect more than tolerable management. But he had allowed an immense army to march upon him and surprise him, and that surprise had entailed upon us defeat, and, to a certain degree, dishonor. The conduct of the latter won our unbounded admiration. We had expected nothing of him; he had done everything for us. If the country did not know it, we nevertheless felt it—that the Fourth Division under his leadership had covered itself with glory.

On Sunday the enemy had beaten us by superiority of numbers, by having his plans laid and his dispositions for the battle made without our knowledge, and without[250] any interruption from us, and, finally, by the advantage gained in the attack being a complete surprise to us. Of these, his advantage in superiority of numbers is the only one that has been questioned. The most moderate estimates from the enemy's side have placed his force at about forty thousand. No one who knows that our army was so much reduced by sickness and other causes that not more than half the men borne on its rolls were available for the line of battle, will believe that we had more than thirty thousand actually engaged. I have no doubt, that in the afternoon the enemy opposed us on the left with two to one. We believed that this battle had demonstrated the superiority of the enemy's generals; but at least the equal bravery of our own troops. His prisoners admitted that they had not imagined we would fight so well. We told them in reply that we were all Americans, the only difference between us being of ideas and education. If we were to believe what the newspapers at home said of us, we were both heroes and cowards. We knew that if we had achieved nothing splendid, we were at least victors. Though we knew that we had not won much glory, we felt that we had merited much more than we had won. On the whole, we were disposed to rejoice, not so much on account of the bare victory we had gained, as that the army had escaped, though narrowly, from the utter ruin which hung over it.

Finally, the following orders of thanks and congratulation came, the two latter of which, and particularly the one of Governor Andrew, brought tears to the eyes of stout soldiers as they were read on parade:—


Headquarters, Department of the Mississippi, }
Pittsburgh, Tenn., April 15th, 1862. }

General Orders,
No. 16.

The Major General commanding the Department thanks Major Generals Grant and Buell, and the officers and men of their respective commands, for the bravery and endurance with which they sustained the general attacks of the enemy on the sixth, and for the heroic manner in which, on the seventh, they defeated and routed the whole rebel army. The soldiers of the West have added new laurels to those which they had already won on numerous fields.

While congratulating the troops on their glorious success, the General commanding desires to enjoin upon all officers and men the necessity of greater discipline and order. These are as essential to the success as to the health of the army, and without them we can not long expect to be victorious; but with them we can march forward to new fields of honor and glory, till this wicked rebellion is completely crushed out, and peace returned to our country.

By command of Major General Halleck,
(Signed) N. H. McLean, A. A. G.


Headquarters, District of West Tennessee, }
April 10th, 1863. }

General Orders,
No. 34.

The General commanding congratulates the troops who so gallantly sustained the attack, repulsed and routed a numerically superior force of the enemy, composed of the flower of the Southern army, and fought by them with all the desperation of despair. In numbers engaged no such contest ever took place on this continent. In importance of result, but few such battles have taken place in the world.

Whilst congratulating the brave and gallant soldiers, it becomes the especial duty of the General commanding to make mention of the brave wounded and those killed on the field. Whilst they leave friends and relatives to mourn their loss, they have won a nation's gratitude, and undying laurels, not to be forgotten by future generations, who shall enjoy the blessings of the best Government the sun ever shone upon, preserved by their valor.

By command of Major General Grant,
(Signed) John A. Rawlins, A. A. G.


Headquarters, Department of the Mississippi, }
Camp Pittsburgh Landing, April 19th, 1862. }

General Orders,
No. 17.

The following General Order of the Governor and Commander-in Chief of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, has been received and is published to the Military and Naval forces of this Department:—

Commonwealth of Massachusetts, }
Headquarters, Boston, April 10th, 1862. }

General Orders,
No. 6.

In honor of the most signal victories recently won by the soldiers of the Union in the Department commanded by Major General Halleck, under the immediate leadership of Major Generals Pope, Grant and Buell, and by the sailors and marines commanded by Flag Officer A. H. Foote, and as a humble expression of the grateful joy with which the splendid results of the heroic valor, energy and good conduct of these commanders, their officers and men, is received by their brethren and fellow citizens of Massachusetts, it is ordered by the Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Militia of Massachusetts, that a salute of one hundred guns be fired on Boston Common, to-morrow, the 11th day of April current at noon.

Not even the cannon's mouth can loudly enough proclaim the debt which our country, human liberty, and civilization itself, owe to those noble men of the[254] West, who have met the angriest torrents of the rebellion, and rolled its waves back upon its depths. The heart of every son of Massachusetts leaps to salute them and do them homage.

Major General Andrew, commanding First Division, is charged with the execution of this order.

By command of His Excellency John A. Andrew, Governor and Commander in Chief.
William Schoulder, Adjutant General.

By command of Major General Halleck,
N. H. McLean, A. A. G.

Headquarters Fourth Division, }
Pittsburgh, Tenn., April 9th, 1862. }

General Orders,
No. 20.

The General commanding tenders his heartfelt gratitude to the surviving officers and men of this Division, for their magnificent service during the two days struggle which under the blessing of God has terminated in victory.

Let this Division remember that for five hours on Sunday, it held under the most terrific fire, the key point of the left of the army, and only fell back when flanked by overwhelming masses pressing through points abandoned by our supports. Let them remember that when they fell back it was in order, and that the last line of resistance in rear of the heavy guns was formed by this Division. Let them remember that on the morning[255] of Monday, without food and without sleep, they were ordered forward to reinforce the right; and that where-ever either brigade of this division appeared on the field, they were in time to support broken flanks and hold the line. Keep these facts before your memories to hand down to your children when we conquer a peace, and let it be the chief pride of every man of this command, as it is of your General, that he was at Pittsburgh with the Fighting Fourth Division.

By order of Brigadier General Hurlbut,
Smith D. Atkins, A. A. G.

But when we looked through the ranks of our regiment and surveyed our losses, there was left us little room for joy or congratulation. Of the four hundred and fifty who had marched into the battle under our flag on Monday morning, twenty-eight were killed, and over two hundred were killed, wounded and missing. Of our officers, Stone was captured; Hobbs was killed; O'Niel, Knight, Merrill and Wayne were wounded and captured; and Trumbull, Ogg, Weiser, Tullis and Hammill were wounded. In addition to this, Williams, whom we claimed was disabled while commanding the brigade, and while doing his duty bravely and well. Many regiments of the different divisions had suffered as much, and some perhaps more than ours. It was a poor satisfaction that the enemy's dead outnumbered our own. The only joy we could derive from a knowledge of his sufferings was that it would diminish his strength for the next battle. The field attested that his killed outnumbered ours by at least one-third. But his prisoners in our[256] hands asserted that their dead in proportion to their wounded was unusually large. When both sides of the question shall have been fully heard in reference to this great battle, it will be believed that the aggregate losses of the two contending forces were very nearly equal.[1]

Adding together our own and the enemy's dead, and including those who died of wounds and disease, at least four thousand men were buried on the field of Shiloh. And here, breathing a foul atmosphere, drinking a sickening water, and surrounded by loathsome and gloomy associations, we remained for three weeks—in camp on a field of graves.



Preparations to advance on Corinth—Morale of army and sanitary condition—Advance to Shiloh Springs—Inspection by General J——Advance to Pea Ridge—Gov. Yates—Picket skirmishing—Battle of Russellville House—Arrival of Col. Scott—A night on picket in the face of the enemy—THE EVACUATION AND OCCUPATION OF CORINTH.

Meanwhile the enemy entrenched at Corinth; Gen. Halleck arrived at Pittsburg Landing and assumed command of the army in person, and preparations were made for an advance. The troops of the two corps moved out and camped in line, Buell to the left of Grant. The Army of the Mississippi, called from its operations before Fort Randolph to reinforce us, disembarked at Hamburg and took post as the left corps of the army, thus throwing Buell in the center and Grant on the right. Grant was second, Buell third in command. McClernand and Wallace's divisions were detached as the reserve of the army under McClernand. Immense supplies were collected, and large quantities of clothing were issued to the troops. Those of the sick, who, in the opinion of the medical officers, would not be fit for duty in thirty days, were sent to the hospital boats and thence to northern hospitals. Fatigue parties under commissioned officers were detailed each day to repair and construct roads in the rear of the army.


The sanitary condition of the army was anything but flattering. Of our own regiment which, so far as we could hear, was a type of all the rest, very few were even in tolerable health. Fevers and camp diarrhœa filled the hospitals to overflowing; the sick lists increased rapidly; and the great extent to which the army was weakened in numbers by sickness, became a just source of alarm. It became painfully evident, too, that its morale was being greatly impaired by the same cause. For disease weakens the mind as well as the body; lingering, obtuse pains bring on a state of settled melancholy; the approaching heats of summer afforded no hope of an improvement in our sanitary condition; and, besides, we were beyond the reach of home comforts and the ministrations of bosom friends. It will not be surprising, then, that many good soldiers were possessed of a homesickness—a desire to be sent home on furlough or discharged, that amounted almost to a mania.

But if the troops were not buoyant in spirit, they were nevertheless determined. A beaten enemy was before us; we knew the responsibility upon us; and with what expectations the country looked to us; we had no reason to distrust the capacity of our commanding general. Under such circumstances, cravens would scarcely wish to turn back. In addition to this, it is plain to all that there was a spirit of rivalry between the army of the Tennessee and that of the Ohio. The latter army had come upon the field of Shiloh as a reinforcement, and had surprised and assisted in defeating an exhausted enemy; and for this, popular opinion at the North, forgetting Donelson and the bloody struggle[259] of April 6th, inquiring not into causes, but looking only at results, had, with a degree of stupidity and injustice to which the age affords no parallel, awarded to them the greater share of glory. The army of the Tennessee, from its highest officers to its meanest soldiers, felt the slight most keenly, and resolved to equal at Corinth, with their decimated battalions, all that Buell could do with his full ones. The army of the Tennessee, having suffered reverses and finally triumphed in two great battles, had learned well the character of its foes, and that nothing could be achieved over them except by steady and persistent bravery. They knew their enemy, and how to fight him. They had already become veterans. The same may be said to a certain extent of the army of the Ohio. Those of this army who had not been engaged at Shiloh, together with the army of the Mississippi, which, without a test of its valor, had accomplished by endurance and the skill of its leader alone, by far the most brilliant exploit of the war, longed to win for themselves that which the other troops of the army possessed, the glory which alone is won in battle; and hence, though perhaps less reliable and much more enthusiastic, they welcomed the expected conflict with joy.

Near the middle of April, Grant and Buell moved out and camped in line. Toward the end of the month the general advance commenced. Let us now dismiss our observations concerning the army, the great whole of which, we, the Third Iowa, were but a little part, and turn to our regiment, brigade and division; for here we were at home and among comrades, now scarcely less[260] in our regiment than in our division, where all followed and had faith in a common leader, and had a common glory won and to win.

Captain Smith was in command of our regiment. The Third Brigade had been discontinued, and General Lauman was assigned to the command of the First Brigade.

April 24th, the division broke up camp and moved forward to Shiloh Springs, where it camped with McClernand on its right, Sherman on its left, and Wallace in the rear. The camp of our regiment was on a beautiful open field, a quarter of a mile to the rear of the Springs. We found here in a block house a rebel hospital, and near our camp the brush and saplings were cut down so as to form a sort of abattis. This had been done by the enemy in his retreat. The improvement in air and water, scenery and associations, rendered our change of camp highly beneficial.

Here for the first time since landing at Pittsburg we began to do picket duty. This duty was no unimportant part of the details of the advance upon Corinth. Each division picketed its own front under a division picket officer. Our brigade furnished each day for picket 150 men with the proper complement of officers. The picket line was here about a mile and a half in advance of the camps. Our infantry picket line, unless circumstances determined otherwise, was aimed to be disposed as follows: One half in reserve; the other half in a line composed of squads of six men each under a non-commissioned officer, one hundred and fifty yards in advance of the reserves. Each of these squads was divided[261] into three reliefs of two men each, and a chain of sentries, two at a post, stationary and as much as possible concealed from view, was kept up still in advance. Beyond all on the roads were the cavalry videttes. Here, though the picketing was sometimes badly, and even shamefully performed through the negligence of officers, we were learning for the first time since being in the service to do picket duty well. Our picket line thus admirably formed was a complete safeguard against surprise, and was so strong that it would have resisted the enemy long enough for the troops in the rear to form line of battle before being attacked. A similar picket line before the battle of Shiloh would have done much to prevent the disastrous surprise of Sunday morning. It was estimated that throughout the army not less than ten thousand men were detailed for picket duty each day.

The degree of pleasure we took in this work depended greatly upon circumstances—the officers in command, the character of the country where we were posted, the state of the weather, and the degree of vigilance necessary to be kept up. I have a vivid recollection of a day on picket in front of Shiloh Springs. Capt. Wright, 53d Illinois, was picket officer for the brigade that day. He posted the men admirably; he impressed upon them by words and manner the responsibility of the position, and maintained throughout the entire tour a degree of vigilance which it was really a lesson to contemplate. Not a man even in the brigade reserve was allowed to take off his accoutrements or sleep day or night. It was a delightful day, a soft breeze blowing and the sun[262] warm. Nothing of the offensive effluvia of the camps; but the woods all fragrant and green and unmangled by the axes of soldiers. None of the constant and wearisome clamor of voices as in the camps; but a quiet siesta under the shady oaks, breathing the sweet air, and hearing only the birds, and the distant bands discoursing martial airs. During the day the detail from the 3d Iowa was in reserve. We were allowed to kindle in a hollow a small fire over which to cook our coffee and fry our bacon. We had long since learned to ask for nothing better than pilot bread, and that a piece of meat broiled on a stick or in the ashes, is as sweet as when cooked in a pan. One or two unlucky porkers strayed close to us, and were covertly put out of the way. Of course the good old captain was sure not to know how we got the fresh meat we had for dinner. Could we be blamed for that?—we who so long had tasted nothing better than salt bacon and hard crackers? Certainly not. The old captain, whatever his suspicions might have been, did not object to a slice himself. Toward evening, our good friend, General Hurlbut, always ready to give us good news when it came, but never particular about publishing any that was bad, sent an orderly to read to us a dispatch that Farragut had captured New Orleans. We were not allowed to cheer, but it seemed as though there would no end to our rejoicing. So great was our joy that we endured almost with a gusto the drenching rain that set in about dark, when we took position in the advanced line. Still we could have rejoiced full as well in our dry tents. For in Tennessee "when it rains it pours."[263] The air is full of rain. The clouds break away until you can see the stars through them, and still it rains. But to-night the clouds nowhere broke away, but hung over us, the rain pouring down without interruption till gray morning. Of course we were not allowed to kindle fires in the night, especially upon the advanced line. We had no artificial shelters, and were compelled to stand up and—let it rain. At daylight we were relieved and put in reserve, and at ten o'clock the new guard marched up, and we returned to camp.

April 27th, the 1st Brigade was reviewed and inspected by Brig. Gen. J——, Inspector General for the Army of the West. This officer was a model in his way. His dress and horse equipments looked splendid. He looked altogether out of place. It was the parade general, gorgeously dressed, without a speck of dirt upon his horse or uniform. His almost beardless face white and delicate as though he had been raised in a bandbox, coming among a host of sunburnt soldiers on active duty, whose guns were rusty on the outside from exposure in constant rains, and whose single suit of clothing, greasy from handling and cooking rations, and dirty from wading and sleeping in the mud, fell far short of his standard of soldierly appearance. His look, so imperious and haughty, was sufficient to set us to hating him from the first. We could not but observe that he never turned his head, but only his eyes, to look at us, and that when our colors passed him in review, he did not uncover his head as our own generals were wont to do, but only slightly lifted his hat. Still he went through his work with a rapidity and precision[264] which astonished us, and left upon us the impression that he was a valuable officer to the service, and an extraordinary man in his way.

April 30th, we had just finished our monthly inspection, when orders came for the division to advance. Leaving our sick behind and taking all our baggage, we moved on the main Corinth road about five miles to the southwest. We passed on the way wagons, caissons, knapsacks, clothing, and other evidences of the enemy's retreat. We also passed a dilapidated log building house, and near it a deserted rebel camp, full of tents, destroyed commissary stores, clothing, and camp equipage, everything indicating a hasty evacuation. We camped on what is known as Pea Ridge, a high backbone of country, four miles from Shiloh Springs and nine from Pittsburg Landing. From this commanding eminence we could look around us over a wide space of country. The whole army was advancing in columns, moving upon different roads. The hour of expected bloody work was drawing nigh. Sherman with the 5th Division had the honor of forming the right of the army. With twelve regiments of infantry and one of cavalry he had the enormous complement of nine batteries of artillery. He was now camped on the Corinth road a short distance beyond us, while McClernand and Wallace were about two miles in our rear.

Our camp was dry and airy, and the water was passable. We constructed ovens of clay; for a part of our bread ration was now drawn in flour, and it took us some time to learn to accommodate ourselves to the use of the iron bake-kettle of which the deserted camp we[265] had just passed furnished a goodly supply. These ovens were constructed by driving four crotches into the ground, and upon these placing two sticks, upon which was laid a floor of short poles. Upon this we piled a compact layer of clay mortar eight or ten inches thick. Then a flour barrel, open at the top and with a hole about six inches square cut in the side near the other end, was laid upon this with the hole upward where the chimney would be built, as a support for the soft clay. As soon as this was completed and the chimney built, a fire would be kindled in the barrel, and as soon as it had burned out and the staves fallen in, the clay would be sufficiently dry to support itself. These ovens subserved their purpose excellently, and furnished many a meal of warm biscuit and light bread, such as reminded us of home. We had begun to fix up our tents, too—to construct hickory bark cots; for here we could get no boards—and to get ourselves in shape to be comfortable, when up came another order for the division to advance next morning, May 4th, at 7 o'clock. Those of the sick who would be unable to do duty in ten days were to remain behind under charge of a medical officer. But three tents to the company were to be taken—one for the officers and two for the men. We were to take three days' cooked rations in haversacks. About 4 P. M. of the 3d, while we were making preparations for the march, a cannonade commenced three or four miles to the south and continued for over an hour with rapid and sharp discharges. It was said to be Pope's Parrott guns shelling the enemy out of Farmington. This seemed ominous of something[266] to come. But we continued our preparations undisturbed.

The morning was heavy with clouds, and the column was scarcely in motion when a drizzling rain set in. We first passed through the camp of Sherman, just evacuated. We noticed that much commissary and sutler's stores had been abandoned, which we afterwards learned were appropriated and made good use of by the sick we had left behind. Here we left the Corinth way and bore more to the right. Near the late camp of the 6th Iowa, we noticed a short line of rifle pits which had been dug by that regiment. It was an insignificant work, but it was the first we had seen in Tennessee since landing at Pittsburg. It had been made to protect the right wing of Sherman's line. It shook our confidence in our efficiency against the enemy we were to encounter. It almost made us afraid. Still we could not but regard it as a wise precaution. We moved slowly, constructing bridges and corduroy roads as we advanced. Late in the afternoon, we passed through Monterey, a town of one or two houses, dignified by being built on a hill. About a mile beyond we went into camp. The roads were almost impassable. Our teams foundered and our wagons sunk to the hubs in the mud. I could conceive of no situation more unenviable than that of teamster that day. It was really noon the next day before our baggage was able to arrive. Wet and fatigued, we made us beds of leaves, wrapped up in our blankets, and passed without other covering a night of incessant rain.

The following day we had pitched our tents, dried our[267] clothes, and commenced building ovens and cooking fresh rations, when an order came to march that night or in the morning. Next morning at eight o'clock we loaded our baggage and again moved forward. We passed Sherman's yesterday camp along the right of which, and fronting to the west, was a line of rifle pits defended by an abattis. Just as we had got beyond these works, McLean's division marched up and occupied them. After proceeding about two miles, the division was deployed in line facing toward the south, and we thus went into camp.

The single day that we stayed here was marked by two incidents, the news of the evacuation of Yorktown, which gave us great joy, and the affectionate farewell of Mr. Fox, our legitimate sutler. This man had first joined us at Chillicothe, Missouri. He had been allowed by our different regimental commanders to neglect and abuse the functions of his office most shamefully. He had never consulted our wants, but his own profit and convenience. When we had money and he competition, he sold reasonably; but when we were without money or were where we could buy of no one but him, he charged exorbitant prices for his goods. On the march or transport, and after hard marches or long movements, when we needed a sutler most, we were sure to be without one. When we had been some days in camp at Pittsburg Landing, he had joined us with a meager stock, having left most of his goods with his partner who had established a store at Savannah. When we broke up camp here and advanced, he found it more convenient to remain behind and sell to[268] transient customers than to follow us immediately. At this point, however, he came up with an ox-wagon loaded with goods, pitched a small tent and opened shop. A party of the boys immediately gathered about his tent and testified their esteem for him, and their admiration for the course he had taken, by cutting his tent ropes and carrying off about a hundred dollars worth of goods, to which all their comrades said "Amen." Here our benefactor left us, after exchanging with us the most complimentary adieus. The next time we heard of him, he was "relieved from duty," and in "close confinement" among a lot of butternut prisoners near the Landing, for being too great an admirer of a horse that belonged to one of General Halleck's orderlies.

This night we slept on our arms, and moved forward in the morning, May 7th, at eight o'clock. While the division was moving out, the Third Iowa in lead, Gov. Yates of Illinois rode up with his staff. General Lauman halted the brigade. Captain Smith announced "Governor Yates, the man who takes good care of his soldiers," and the Third Iowa responded with three loud and hearty cheers. General Lauman then turned to the Governor and addressed him with a few affecting remarks, telling him how much gratitude the soldiers of Iowa owed the State of Illinois—how her sanitary agents had ministered to their wants and comforts, and how, when at Cairo, the 7th Iowa was without blankets and clothing, the Quartermaster of Illinois generously supplied them. The Governor responded, that if Illinois had done her duty in this war, Iowa had also done hers.[269] Side by side they had stood in the great contest—side by side their soldiers had fought on numerous fields—and side by side they would continue to stand and fight, until the national flag should float over the whole national domain. Whatever Illinois had done for Iowa she had done for the country and the cause; it was no more than a patriotic duty, and as such required no thanks. The Governor rode away amid another outburst of applause. I noticed, among his staff, the familiar countenance of my old teacher, Professor Pope, of Black River Seminary, now a paymaster in the army. Having moved forward about two miles and a half, the division formed line facing to the south, stacked arms and began rapidly to fell the timber and construct an abattis in front of our position. Here our pickets first came in contact with those of the enemy, and a picket skirmish began, which was kept up day and night until we entered Corinth. It was reported that there was encamped a short distance ahead of us a detachment of the enemy with four pieces of cannon. The following afternoon a part of the picket force belonging to other regiments of the brigade, ran in a panic and reported the enemy advancing. The enemy's cavalry had indeed attacked the picket line and a sharp skirmish was taking place. The drummer sounded the long roll, and the regiments formed line. Generals Hurlbut and Lauman rode past our regiment as we stood in ranks, and we presented arms to them. General Hurlbut took off his hat as he passed our flag, and said to Captain Smith: "Captain, I hope you'll get another inscription on your flag to-day." The Captain responded, "There is room[270] for two or three more, General." When the cause of the alarm was ascertained, we stacked arms, and every man was ordered out to dig fortifications. Before night our position was covered by a passable line of rifle pits.

The following day was Sunday. There was a lull in the picket firing as though both parties respected it as a day of rest. Religious services were held in the camps of the regiments near us. Fatigue parties were kept at work on the rifle pits; but as the day was hot and sultry, little was done besides building before their exterior slopes a hedgework of brush and fallen tree tops. Each day brought the expected battle nearer to us. We were ready for it. It was while here that orders from General Hurlbut announced the capture of Norfolk Navy Yard, the destruction of the Merrimac, and the destruction of the rebel flotilla at Fort Pillow. It seemed that success was crowning our arms everywhere, and that the decisive victory in the West rested with us and depended upon our valor. We would achieve it. Such was the spirit of the entire army. Even the offensive-defensive policy General Halleck was now pursuing did not discourage us. We were equally ready to dig ditches or to attack the enemy.

On the 14th we again broke up camp and moved a mile to the front, the enemy's pickets retiring before us. We reached our new position about 5 P. M., and before ten our position was covered by as good a line of works as we had left. It was astonishing to see with what alacrity the soldiers worked. They did not stop to consider the necessity of fortifying when the enemy's[271] works were more than five miles from them. The General had taken this way to drive the enemy from Corinth. Everything depended upon our prompt obedience and vigorous co-operation.

Next day also we moved a short distance and entrenched abreast of Sherman. Here the battle of the pickets grew more severe than ever, and began to be varied by frequent cannonading on different points of the line. We were kept in constant readiness for a momentary collision with the enemy—slept on our arms, had reveille at three o'clock in the morning, and were frequently ordered into line.

May 17th, orders were issued to cook two days' rations and be ready again to move. The enemy, posted in a block house known as Russell's House, had annoyed our pickets greatly, and in order to advance the picket line, it became necessary to dislodge him. For this purpose our regiment, the 32d Illinois, and a section of Mann's Battery of Hurlbut's Division, went forward in conjunction with a force from Sherman's. Mann opened vigorously upon the position for a short time, when the 8th Missouri, of Sherman's Division, attacked and carried it at the point of the bayonet, losing a large number in killed and wounded. By this feat this gallant regiment made itself a name among us second to none with which we had ever been associated. We returned to camp about 9 P. M., and in the night received orders to move in the morning with rations in haversacks; but they were countermanded and we did not move.

At this camp, Colonel Scott joined us. All welcomed[272] him joyfully, and regretted that the state of his health would not permit him to resume command.

May 21st, the right wing of the Army of the Tennessee, commanded by Major General Thomas, was ordered to move forward. While the Fourth Division was advancing, General Davies' artillery shelled back the enemy's outposts in front of his division. Two batteries were said to be engaged. The discharges were rapid and sharp, and as they broke upon us so near while we were marching to the front, seemed to have a grim significance. The First Brigade halted on a commanding ridge and began to throw up works. By a miscalculation of distance, there was not room for the 2d Brigade to form between our left and Davies' right. General Veatch accordingly posted two of his regiments, the 25th Indiana and 15th Illinois, to the right of the 1st Brigade. Before night, a continuous line of works, capable of resisting field artillery, protected our division front. In the afternoon, in addition to the usual picket firing and cannonading, a brisk skirmish had taken place a short distance to our front. The enemy's cavalry, as report had it, appeared in Federal uniform and was driven off. Sherman's line was about half a mile in advance of Hurlbut's, his left covering our right.

This night I had my first experience of picketing in the face of the enemy. After working hard all day, my company was detailed for picket. Captain (then Lieutenant) Swank was in command, and Lieutenant Lakin was with us. Our division picket line extended around a very large cotton field of irregular shape, and formed[273] a sort of semicircle, the center retired and the flanks connecting with Davies on the left and Sherman on the right. Our position was on the most retired part of this line, along a little brook, the cotton field being in front of us. A quarter of a mile in advance of us and to our right, and joining this field on its southwest corner, was the left of Sherman's line of works, upon which his men were at work till nearly midnight, felling trees, dragging together logs, and banking up the dirt, with the most boisterous sounds of mirth and glee. Immediately across this field, in a dense thicket, the enemy had a picket post, which, strange enough, he had been allowed to maintain very near to Sherman's flank, and from which he had skirmished all day with his pickets, across the field. Where we were posted, the line was crowded together and very strong. The posts of eight or ten men each were but four or five rods apart. A strong reserve was in our rear. The captain threw out videttes and made dispositions for the night, and then most of us went to sleep. I had lain by the side of Lieutenant Jimmy, and endeavoring to derive a little consolation from the warmth of his body and the flap of his blanket, had gone to sleep. I was sleeping soundly, when bang! bang! bang! went the enemy's guns. I sprang to my feet, and by the time I could get my gun and recollect where I was, I could see around our entire division line, and away up the left of Davies', like a hundred meteors starting from the earth, the flash of rifles from every advance post. The enemy had doubtless taken this measure to ascertain our positions, or whether we were advancing our lines. The next morning these rebels[274] were justly chastised for their ungentlemanly conduct in disturbing our sleep. The detail which relieved us were ordered by the new officer of the day to deploy as skirmishers and advance across the field. They obeyed gallantly; and with a brisk skirmish, but not without some loss, dislodged the enemy and occupied his position. Company B of our regiment, had the honor of participating in this little affair.

The 26th of May, was a day full of excitement. About 9 A. M., the guns of Pope and Buell opened heavily upon our left, and about noon, Sherman's chimed in on our right. Something was to be done. General Lauman was in the saddle. We fell into ranks and stood ready. It was not a battle: but the whole line was advancing.

The next morning the 2d Brigade moved forward and united with the left of Sherman. Their ambulance corps with white badges tied to their left arms marched in rear of their respective regiments. They threw up works connecting Sherman with Davies, and the 1st Brigade formed a reserve behind them. All day, as yesterday, a vigorous cannonade was kept up, varied with occasional skirmishing by the infantry. The work on the fortifications continued briskly, and by night a heavy line of field works with embrasures for cannon was completed.

And now the morrow, the thirtieth of May, was to witness the meager fruits of all this preparation and hardship. At six o'clock in the morning, we heard a terrible explosion in the direction of Corinth. Our first impression was, that the enemy had opened with heavy[275] guns; but when we saw dense columns of smoke rising above the tops of the forest, we felt certain that he was evacuating and blowing up his magazines. About eight o'clock, General Lauman ran up to the Third Iowa, shaking his long beard and clapping his hands, almost frantic with joy. "Boys," cried he, "get ready to march, we are going into Corinth right away!" The only response I heard was from the "old veteran," my comrade: "If the old General says so, we'll do it any how!" The 8th Missouri had gone forward to reconnoiter, and found the enemy's works abandoned. There was an evident strife between Sherman and Hurlbut to see who should be first in Corinth. It was a running march through suffocating dust and melting heat. The infantry rushed on without waiting for the artillery. The batteries limbered up and galloped past the infantry. Three-fourths of a mile brought us to the enemy's works. They consisted, at the point where we passed through them, only of a tolerable line of rifle pits, but defended by a heavy abattis a fourth of a mile in width. All along we met straggling troopers retiring loaded down with various kinds of plunder, among which were enormous knives, which looked in shape and size like the coulters of our Western breaking-plows. Some had their horses completely loaded down with pikes, shot guns, and bake ovens. We passed the enemy's late camps and were soon in Corinth. The excessive heat, the dust of hurrying battalions and galloping squadrons and batteries, added to the sickening stench of the deserted camps, and to the smoke of burning houses and cotton, were almost unendurable. Sherman took the[276] shortest route and reached the town first. His and Hurlbut's divisions pursued the enemy for several miles on the Ripley road, but returned to their former camps before night.

The chase of the day was over, and we were again behind our works. It was a meager consolation that we had dug our last ditch for the reduction of Corinth. There was an indescribable feeling of mortification that the enemy with all his stores and ordnance had at last escaped. We could not but think that beyond the occupation of a little additional territory and a single strategic point to the enemy, we had gained nothing. His military organization was still unbroken. He was as able as before to hurl himself on a weak point, or to give us battle. We had lost a decisive victory by tardiness and excess of caution. If Pope had only been in command, or if Halleck had allowed him to press on as rapidly as he desired, how different, said we, would have been the result! And why had we not pressed the retreat of the enemy, while his soldiers were discouraged by being forced from so strong a position? Had we no generals capable of following up a victory? These feelings were subsequently in a measure relieved by the reports that Buell and Pope were pressing the main column of the enemy with splendid results. Yet nothing transpired to change the general impression that though we had gained much, what we had gained was entirely inadequate to the numbers, means and exertions made use of to gain it. We saw that the enemy had lost much by being compelled to abandon a position of such advantage to him, and in the consequent[277] demoralization of his troops; but we harbored a vague mistrust that his superior generalship would yet convert his defeat into a victory; and all seemed to feel that the subjugation of the South lay a long way before us.



My own Sickness—Resume of the movements of my regiment—Movement of Sherman toward Memphis—The camp seven miles from Corinth—March resumed—Camp on the "Heights of the Hatchie"—Advance to the Big Muddy—A hard march—Camp at Spring Creek—Next day's march—Reach and camp on Wolf River—Col. Williams again—LaGrange, Tenn.—Railroad communications—Movement upon Holly Springs—Incidents of the march—Occupation of that place—Return to LaGrange—Resignation of Lieut. Col. Scott—A foraging expedition—Feat of General Grant—Start for Memphis—Details of the march—Arrival in Memphis—Go into camp—Gen. Sherman as a military man—The negro—Our sojourn at Memphis—Marching orders—Letter of General Sherman.

Among the most interesting recollections of my soldier life, are those of the period I spent in military hospitals. Though much of the time my mind was so enfeebled by disease, as not to observe closely that which transpired around me; yet, long as I may live, I shall remember most vividly the sufferings I experienced while there, sometimes relieved by friends, by comrades, and by those appointed and detailed to take care of the sick and wounded; and sometimes in part, or entirely, neglected. It was there that I saw, more than anywhere else, human character divested of its artificial coloring, and exhibited in its brightest tints and gloomiest shades.

It was there that I contracted a debt of gratitude to[279] some that I can never repay, and conceived a hatred for others that I can never forget. Memories born in the heart amid scenes like these can never be blotted out. But glad as I should be to linger over the names of those who were kind and gentle to me amid these scenes of sickness and gloom, I shall hasten to consider those affairs in which my comrades had a more direct and positive interest.

And here my comrades would have to regret the absence of a link in the chain of this "grave, interesting and authentic narrative," had not a comrade who kept a diary of the wanderings of the Third Iowa, while I was absent from it during this term of sickness, generously come to my aid. After describing the scenes attending the occupation of Corinth, this Cid Hamet of my history goes on to tell us, that, on the afternoon of the 2d of June, orders came to the Third Iowa to march immediately, and before night the 4th and 5th divisions, under command of Major General W. T. Sherman, moved out, taking all their baggage, and, passing through Corinth, camped about a mile to the west of that place on the south side of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. There was no water in this vicinity to relieve the troops from the effects of the suffocating heat and dust of the day; but this state of things was somewhat mitigated by a light shower of rain which fell in the forepart of the night.

The following morning reveille sounded at daylight, and an early march, the 5th division in advance, brought the troops to a small stream of water on the south side of the railroad, where they established a camp, and[280] commenced repairing the road about four miles to the west, so as to enable them to proceed. For this purpose the Third Iowa furnished a small detail each day. On the 6th, the regiment changed camp to the north side of the railroad. This was about seven miles from Corinth.

On the 10th the troops again moved, and after a toilsome and dusty march of fifteen miles, both divisions camped on a commanding bluff that overlooks the Big Hatchie. As the 4th Division rested upon these hills, little did its soldiers dream that the valley below would one day be consecrated with the blood of many of its members, and that the "Heights of the Hatchie" would be forever linked in memory with its glorious achievements, and the prowess of its commander. It was the "Field of Matamora!" Two days they rested here, during which time a bridge was thrown across the Hatchie by the troops of the 5th Division, in place of the old one which had been burned by the enemy; and then they moved forward four miles, and camped on a stream known as the Big Muddy.

Resuming the march the following morning, June 13th, they defiled all day through a desolate waste of woods, and over dry ridges. The heat was intense. Save from occasional mudholes, there was no water to be found. The dust was shoe-top deep and rose in dense, suffocating clouds, which there was no wind to dispel. The dreariness of the country was relieved by but two farm houses during the whole day's march. Notwithstanding the unparalleled fatigue and suffering, the men kept in the ranks well, and there was little straggling.[281] After a march of thirteen miles, they camped on Spring Creek, a tributary of the Hatchie. Here they found excellent water, and moved at four o'clock in the morning about two miles, and rested for the day in the vicinity of some clear and cold springs.

At five o'clock the next morning the march was resumed. The men had no water during the day except what they took in their canteens in the morning. The march was more fatiguing, if possible, than on any previous day. They passed through Grand Junction and found an excellent camping place on Wolf River, having made a distance of twelve miles.

The following day, the 2d Brigade of the 4th Division made a reconnoissance towards Ripley; they were gone two days. There was much straggling from their ranks, and a number were missing when they returned. For two or three days afterwards, they continued to come up and report to the pickets.

After the evacuation of Corinth, Colonel Williams resumed command of the regiment, and during this march had begun to renew his obnoxious practices. He arrested the quartermaster and reduced Hulbert, the commissary sergeant. Both, however, were vindicated. The former resigning, was appointed Colonel of the 34th Iowa, and the latter was soon after appointed sergeant in his own company in which capacity he served, no one better or more bravely, and was reappointed commissary sergeant under Lt. Col. Trumbull.

On the 22d of June, the 4th Division moved to a position near LaGrange, Tenn., the Third Iowa going into camp on a beautiful wooded hill overlooking Wolf[282] River. This village, which, in prosperous times, contained about 2,000 inhabitants, is beautifully situated on an eminence which commands a view of ten or twelve miles of level country to the south of the river. It is supplied with excellent springs of water, is surrounded by wide and well cultivated fields, and its elegant residences, surrounded with costly evergreens, gave evidence of the cultivation of its inhabitants. It possessed far more attraction than any town they had yet seen in Tennessee. It was pleasant indeed, after so long a sojourn in the gloomy woods, to pitch tents amid scenes of civilization.

They had advanced slowly from Corinth, had built on the way two bridges ruined by the rebels, besides repairing the railroad so that the cars were now running regularly between LaGrange and that place. The removal of certain obstructions between LaGrange and Moscow, a station nine miles to the west, was all that now remained to put the road in working condition between Corinth and Memphis. A train coming from Memphis had been thrown off the track at Moscow. Part of the soldiers on board marched through to LaGrange in safety, while those who remained were captured by guerrillas, who burned the train. Whether this accident had anything to do with admonishing General Sherman of the impracticability of holding with so small a force so long a line of railway parallel to the enemy's front of operations, my informant does not pretend to judge. At least this line was soon after abandoned, and that by way of Jackson and Columbus opened in its stead.


It seems to have been known that the enemy under command of Breckenridge, were in the vicinity of Holly Springs, Miss., a small city twenty-six miles to the south. This force probably was merely one of observation, the enemy's main body having retired upon Grenada. But there came in exaggerated reports of his immense numbers there, and preparations to attack us. General Sherman determined to move against him, the two divisions starting simultaneously the morning of June 30th, the 4th from LaGrange, the 5th from Moscow. Two days rations were taken in haversacks. They camped at night near a brick church, in the neighborhood of the railroad station of Lamar. There was no water to be procured here except out of one or two wells and some dirty pools, at which places there was such a rush that each regiment was compelled to station a guard over them while its own men took their turn.

The next day, July 1st, was cool and pleasant. A march of seven miles brought the column to Cold Water River, a small stream, pure and clear. The only incident of this day's march was that a battalion of the 4th Illinois had been drawn into an ambuscade, losing four killed and six wounded.

The following day, the 32d and 53d Illinois regiments went forward to reconnoiter, but discovered nothing. On their return, they were taken for rebels, and an alarm throughout the whole force ensued.

The day after this, Lieut. Barnes of General Lauman's staff, went out with three others to some farm houses to buy provisions, and were fired upon by bushwhackers,[284] and all of them wounded. The affair caused considerable excitement, and threw General Lauman into a great rage.

The next day was the national anniversary. The 4th Division moved forward and entered without opposition Holly Springs, "the Saratoga of the South." This delightful little city is situated on the Mississippi Central Railroad, contains excellent springs of water, and was celebrated as a Southern watering place. The citizens behaved toward their new visitors with as much insolence as they dared to manifest. Little did they then, suppose that they were sowing in the bosoms of these men the seeds of a hatred, which would one day lay their beautiful city in ashes! The next day the column started back, and on the 7th again entered LaGrange and Moscow. During the fortnight my comrades stayed at the former place few incidents of note took place. It was here that Lieut. Col. Scott resigned and left the regiment. There was an universal regret at being compelled to part with the man who had commanded us so bravely and befriended us so well. All felt as though they had lost their best field officer, and turned with gloom to the prospect of being commanded, no one could tell how long, by a man who, whatever might be his merits or faults, had, with scarcely an exception, lost the confidence and good will of his men.

One day a forage train of sixty wagons went out in the direction of Cold Water, guarded by six companies of the Third Iowa, under Captain Smith. On their return the escort was menaced by Jackson's cavalry,[285] who endeavored to capture the train. But the Captain's tactics were quite equal to those of the rebel Colonel. He chose open ground and very coolly marched along in plain view of the enemy. They attempted by demonstrations to draw his fire, but failed, and finally withdrew, having for once found their match.

About this time General Grant performed the remarkable feat of riding in one day from Corinth to Memphis, unattended except by one company of cavalry, his body guard and a few staff officers. It must be remembered that with the exception of the immediate vicinity of LaGrange and Moscow, where General Sherman's troops were stationed, the whole country was in the hands of the enemy. At LaGrange the party halted an hour for refreshments, and left one of the staff who had given out. It is said they reached Memphis before night.

Meanwhile General Sherman and staff proceeded to Memphis, leaving orders behind that it was his intention to select at that place grounds for the encampment of the two divisions, and that no officer or soldier should be allowed to follow him to that place ahead of his corps.

July 17th, at 1 P. M., the 4th Division broke up camp at LaGrange, and moving along the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, after a tiresome march of nine miles in which many gave out and fell behind their regiments, camped for the night at Moscow, from which place the 5th Division had just moved.

Starting at 3 o'clock next morning, and with little improvement on yesterday's march in respect of straggling,[286] although the weather was cooler than usual both days, the column arrived at Lafayette Station, having marched ten miles.

The march was resumed at 2 o'clock in the morning, the 5th Division still in lead. The forenoon was excessively hot, and marching was difficult in the extreme. The dust rose in such clouds that a man in the ranks could scarcely see the comrade ahead of him. Seventeen miles being accomplished, the column halted for the night at Germantown.

Next day, the column moved forward six miles to White Station, and on the day after that, July 21st, a march of nine miles brought it to Memphis. Foot-sore, ragged and weary, the battalions marched into the city. The Third Iowa had the honor of being in lead of the 4th Division. So thick was the dust on men's faces, that it was difficult to distinguish soldier from contraband—all looked alike. Many had no shoes, and some even were without pants, and had nothing but drawers and shirt in way of uniform. But the boys dressed their files and proudly kept step to the music, while from balconies and windows the Union ladies waved white handkerchiefs in welcome.

Wallace's division was garrisoning the city, but now relieved by Sherman, it embarked to reinforce the army of General Curtis at Helena. General Sherman disposed his troops so as to environ the city and guard all the approaches to it. Our regiment being on the right of the line was camped on the south side of the city and near the river. We had a delightful camping ground, greensward beneath[287] our feet, and noble shade trees waving over our heads.

The period we spent here was one of rest but not of idleness. It was a period of discipline and duty. We were still in the presence of an enterprising enemy, who constantly menaced our extended line with attack. General Sherman was no less a general in camp than in the field. There his great bravery, his splendid tactical combinations in the face of the enemy, his unwearying energy, and his industrious attention to details, had impressed his soldiers with a kind of reverence for him as a military commander, which they felt for no other general. All could see that in genius and in spirit, he was a complete soldier. Though he could add nothing to the patriotism and bravery of the men he commanded, he was now to see they were better supplied, better drilled, better disciplined, and that there be infused into them more of the esprit de corps. Every one will recollect his fine figure on review—how keenly he scrutinized every thing; not a man, nor a uniform, nor a gun seemed to escape his notice. He exercised the closest supervision over the different departments, punished corruption and saw that justice was meted out to all. He administered martial law in the city of Memphis with justice and rigor, but without violence or cruelty. A young soldier studying the profession and practice of arms might well think himself fortunate in being under the tuition of such a general.

It was at Memphis that we first were allowed to admit negroes within our lines. At LaGrange and[288] Moscow and all along the march from those places hither, they had flocked to join us in great numbers. General Halleck's celebrated General Orders No. 3 being then in force, General Sherman was compelled to issue an order forbidding his soldiers from encouraging negroes in leaving their homes, and teamsters from giving them transportation. This order was written by Captain Hammond, his Assistant Adjutant General, and was couched in poor and undignified terms. As soon, however, as orders from Washington allowed him to do so, General Sherman issued orders authorizing the employment of negroes as cooks, teamsters and laborers in the various departments and on the fortifications. Large numbers were put to work on Fort Pickering, an important field work which was projected for the defense of Memphis. Contrabands thronged the camps in large numbers, and soon became an important element in the materiel of the army. All that came within our lines were received and put to work, and supplied with clothing and subsistence. This policy was viewed by the soldiers with very general approbation.

While we were thus resting, our comrades in the East were struggling, through prodigious marches, uncommon hardships, and bloody battles to check the advance of a superior enemy, and his invasion of our soil. Reports from that quarter of disaster crowding upon disaster, disturbed in no small degree the quietude of our camp life, and embittered the sweets of the comparative repose we were enjoying. In addition to this, the enemy began to make demonstrations in the[289] neighborhood of Bolivar, Tenn., and we were not surprised to find our spell of easy soldiering broken, when, on the 5th of September, orders came to march at 3 o'clock next morning, in what direction we could only conjecture.

The two divisions which had been so long together were now to be separated. They who had grown to consider each other comrades, had marched and fought together perhaps for the last time. General Sherman expressed his feelings on this separation in the following letter to General Hurlbut, which, after we had reached Bolivar, was published to us in General Orders. We esteemed it a great honor to receive such compliments from such a general:—

Headquarters, 5th Division, }
Memphis, Tenn., Sept. 6, 1862.}

Brigadier General Hurlbut, Commanding 4th Division, Army of the Tennessee,—

Dear Sir:—Permit me through you to convey to the officers and men of your division an expression of my deep regret that the necessities of the service should at this time separate our commands. Our divisions were the first to disembark at Pittsburg Landing, in the early part of March, and through storm and sunshine, adverse and prosperous times, we have been side by side. Not only have social ties arisen between us, but the habit of acting together has made us one command; and I feel in parting with you as though my own division was divided.


I need not express to you my high personal and official respect; for I hope to have evinced it on all occasions. I must say that no officers could have been more zealous, close, and attentive to their important duties than they have been. I can not recall an instance of their being absent from their posts for even an hour. Indeed, with very few exceptions, your division is composed of a class of steady good men, who by their behavior in camp, on guard, on the march and in battle, reflect honor and credit on themselves and their country.

Be pleased to convey to all my hearty thanks; and assure them that I will hail the change in events which will bring us again together.

With sentiments of high respect,
Your friend and servant,
(Signed) W. T. Sherman.



Lt. Col. Trumbull—Preparations to march—Leaving Sherman and Memphis—Heat, dust and straggling—Night on Wolf River—Second day's march—House burning—Annoyances—Halt for the night at last—Next day's March—Reach the Hatchie—Bridging the stream—Guarding the working parties—Hardships and murmurs—March toward Bolivar—Our situation there—A reconnoissance toward Grand Junction—Attempt of the enemy to get in our rear—Masterly retreat—Make a stand and shell back his advance guard—Arrive at Bolivar—Reinforcements—Vigilance.

At this time Colonel Williams was seriously ill. Capt. M. M. Trumbull, of Company I., had been recommended by the commissioned officers of the regiment to Governor Kirkwood as their choice to fill the vacancy occasioned by the resignation of Col. Scott, and having received since official notice of his appointment, Colonel Williams had ordered him to assume command. He accordingly put on the uniform of Lt. Colonel, and we began to address him by his new title, rejoiced that, at a time when an encounter with the enemy seemed probable, we were to be led by an officer of such gallantry and merit.

The sick, who in the opinion of the surgeons were not able to march, were provided for in the hospitals at Memphis. We replenished our stock of rations so as[292] to have a ten days' supply on hand, and busied ourselves in preparations for the morrow's march till late in the night, when we retired to rest, awaiting the expected reveille at one o'clock.

The drums, however, did not beat till half past five, and we awoke to learn that the march had been deferred till 11 A. M. At half past eleven the regiment moved, leading the column; the other regiments and the batteries following in their appropriate order. As we passed the Head Quarters of General Sherman, that officer sat on his charger watching us with all the scrutiny of an inspection. As we took a last look at him, we felt a feeling of regret that he was to command us no longer; but this was in a measure relieved by the thought that our old division commander, whom in times past we had been so happy and proud to follow, still led us. But we had still another source of regret; for, as we looked back upon the spires of Memphis, we could not but think that for a season, at least, such days of pleasant soldiering were over.

The road was free from dust on account of a heavy rain which had fallen the previous day, but the heat was oppressive in the extreme. Notwithstanding, in the commencement of the march, strict orders had been issued against straggling, we had scarcely got beyond the suburbs of the city when men began to give out and leave the ranks, and several were sun-struck and had to be put in the ambulances. Although the General took the precaution to halt and rest the column fifteen minutes each hour, before night the way was lined with men who were unable to keep up. We halted for the[293] night about eight miles to the northeast of Memphis, on a deeply wooded bottom of Wolf River. Owing to some obstruction which the wagons had met, a part of our train was still some time after dark in getting up, and it was not till late in the night that all the stragglers rejoined their commands.

September 7. It was General Hurlbut's plan to reverse each day the order of march so as to give no preference of place in the column to any regiment or battery. The 2d Brigade took the lead to-day, and the 3d Iowa marched in the rear of the 1st Brigade, and hence formed the rear guard of the column. Gen. Hurlbut was an early riser, and he announced each night the time of commencing the following day's march, which was seldom later than four o'clock in the morning.

This morning the troops began to move at an early hour, and about eight o'clock the 3d Iowa joined in with its train and was in motion. Owing to the light showers of yesterday evening which had succeeded the intense heat of the day, the air this morning was cool with occasional breezes, and consequently the march was less arduous, and the men kept the ranks without much difficulty. We made no halt for dinner.

About 3 P. M. we saw a dense smoke rising in advance, and on approaching discovered that it was a house on fire, and that several soldiers were applying the torch to other buildings near by. All that we could learn of the cause of this operation was that a Confederate flag, an Enfield rifle and a set of accoutrements marked "O. V. M." had been found secreted in it.[294] This had suggested to those who made the discovery that its inmates were traitors, and that it was a matter of duty with them to commit the house and the surrounding buildings to flames, which they were now doing with the utmost sang froid. General Hurlbut the next day issued an order censuring this act in severe terms, and warning his troops against similar conduct in future.

About this time a shower of rain commenced falling, cooling the atmosphere and rendering the roads quite favorable to marching. As it began to grow dark, it became evident from the frequent and annoying halts of the train ahead of us, that the regiments and batteries in the advance of the column were taking their positions for the night. Indeed so slow was our march on account of these halts, that our regiment did not reach its camping ground before eleven o'clock, having accomplished not more than two miles in the last four hours. This was by far the most fatiguing part of the day's march. Notwithstanding we had halted at sundown, dressed our files, loaded our pieces and received the strictest orders against straggling, it was impossible for the officers to keep the men in ranks. Many straggled far ahead and threw themselves down upon the green sward and went to sleep, to be awakened by their comrades or the rear guard. Reaching our position for the night, we ate a hasty supper from our haversacks, and threw ourselves down to sleep. Happy the lot of most of us compared with that of the few, who, exhausted and foot-sore, were yet compelled to watch on picket while we slept.

September 8. We rested in camp to-day. The wind[295] was damp with a drizzling rain, which was most welcome to us, as we expected to renew the march at an early hour. The enemy's cavalry was said to be prowling around us, and apprehensions were felt that a large body of his troops were in the vicinity. We received orders that there was to be no straggling from our stacks of arms, and, to prevent this, to have roll call every two hours. During the day we put up tents, and with the aid of the fresh meat and vegetables we had procured on the yesterday's march, we made ourselves quite comfortable. Towards night we had a careful inspection of arms and ammunition, and received the usual marching orders for the morning.

September 9. The column moved at daylight and continued the march all day without interruption or seeing any indications of an enemy. We camped for the night on a creek bottom, rank with growing timber and abounding in grapes, muscadines, lizards, copperheads, and the like.

September 10. Reveille woke us at 3 o'clock, and an easy march brought us to the Muddy, a small stream very appropriately named, and two miles beyond which flows the Hatchie. We did not put up tents for the night, and a heavy rain which fell towards morning soaked our blankets and proved to be not as much of a luxury as the previous ones had been.

September 11. The drums sounded at half past three. The bridge over the Hatchie in advance of us had been destroyed by a party of Federal cavalry who had passed through the country early in the summer, disguised as cotton burners, but had been detected and pursued.[296] In order to advance, it became necessary to rebuild it. For this purpose General Hurlbut ordered a pioneer party of soldiers and contrabands to be detailed, and the 3d Iowa and 41st Illinois to move forward to protect them while at work. We accordingly moved at 5 A. M. in light marching order, passed over a road leading through a cane and cypress swamp, whose rotten and dilapidated bridges indicated that it had not been used in several years, and reached the river, where we stacked arms and threw across a picket by means of a dug-out which we found here. We passed a wet and cheerless day, watching the pioneers who were busy felling trees, carrying logs into the stream, and laying the foundations of the proposed bridge. Without blankets and almost without food, we were compelled to pass the night here as we had passed the day.

While we thus lay beside our struggling fires, endeavoring to sleep, it may be imagined that our reflections were anything but pleasant. Why were we moving so far to the north of Bolivar, and on such an extraordinary road? Was it to evade, deceive, or surprise the enemy? Had our forces indeed retreated from Bolivar, or were the rebels making designs in their rear? Did the country afford no better roads than this? Or, if it was "strategy" to advance on such a road, would the advantages counterbalance the delay in constructing bridges? Rumor supplied twenty different solutions; but the General, and perhaps a few others, alone knew the correct one.

A party of cavalry arrived during the night from Bolivar with such intelligence as changed matters entirely.[297] The work on the bridge was abandoned, and early in the morning, September 12, we returned to camp and found the column already beginning to move. Loading our wagons and without waiting to take breakfast, we resumed our places in the order of march. The day was cloudy and cool and the roads good. A steady march of thirteen miles brought us to a wooded bottom, where, out of a few pools, we procured a supply of muddy water.

Monday, September 13. We moved early, and the march was a hard one. We halted about two hours in the middle of the day by the side of a mill pond, and took a refreshing bath and a pleasant siesta. The afternoon was very hot and the dust excessive. It seemed that the rains, which had made the roads of yesterday so excellent, had not reached this section. But the men kept their ranks well, and before night we went into camp in a beautiful situation on Spring Creek, about two miles to the west of Bolivar. Here we rested the following day, and on the 16th changed camp to a high and pleasant locality across the creek. The regiments of the division were somewhat separated, and the batteries occupied the most commanding and defensible position. The water was excellent; our supplies were regular and abundant, and the country around abounded in forage for our animals. The weather was delightful. We were able to procure from the inhabitants many luxuries. On the whole the people were quite friendly toward us. They seemed to have settled down to the conclusion that their country was to be permanently occupied by Federals, and inclined to make the best of a[298] state of things they could not prevent. Our duty was heavy; but Col. Trumbull endeavored to lighten it as much as possible. Our foraging expeditions furnished some excitement, and, notwithstanding very stringent orders against plundering, generally kept us well supplied with fresh vegetables and meat. Col. Trumbull was an excellent drill master, and under him our regiment improved rapidly in the evolutions of the battalion.

The 28th Illinois was camped nearest to us, and here there grew up between the men of the 3d Iowa and of that gallant regiment, a feeling of friendship which nothing has since served to obliterate.

On the 19th of September, orders came to our regiment to move the following morning at sunrise, taking all our baggage. It was to be a reconnoissance in force with a heavy train designed to deceive the enemy. The force consisted of the 1st Brigade and two battalions of the gallant 2d Illinois Cavalry, all under command of Brig. Gen. Lauman. The column started shortly after sunrise and took the road leading south toward Grand Junction.

Officers and men were equally ignorant of the object of the movement. We said it could not be a reconnoissance, else we would not have taken our train. Nor could it be that it was intended to occupy Grand Junction with so small a force. But we believed in our generals, and, inexplicable as the movement seemed, it gave us no particular concern. The day being cool and the roads good, we made a march of about eighteen miles, but camped in a country destitute of water, save what was to be found in a few pools, about five miles to[299] the north of Grand Junction. The pickets were carefully posted and the men ordered to sleep on their arms, and every precaution was taken against surprise.

The march was resumed at daylight next morning, and when we had proceeded to within a mile of Grand Junction, the cavalry reported the enemy. Let us look at the situation. LaGrange is four miles west of Grand Junction. A road leading from that place to the north, joins at Middleburg, about eight miles south of Bolivar, the way on which we were now marching. On this road the enemy was pushing a strong column past our right flank and endeavoring to get in our rear. The cavalry reported it to be a mile and a half in length. When this word was brought to the General, he saw the danger at a glance, and said with his usual brevity, "We must get out of this." He dispatched messengers to General Hurlbut. The wagons began to turn around. The 3d Iowa countermarched, and then was halted and brought to a front. Every one anticipated the next command, and one or two began to feel of their cartridge boxes; at sight of which Col. Trumbull called out, rebuking, "Wait for the word!" He then gave the command, "Load at will—load!" Soon the column was in motion to the rear, and began to execute a retreat, such as, in rapidity, order and success is seldom surpassed. Our regiment, hitherto in advance, was now in the rear, our battalion of cavalry moved past the column through the fields and became the new advance guard, while the other remained behind to cover the retreat. As this battalion let down the fence and rode past us into the field, the boys greeted each other with such shouts of[300] good natured raillery as told plainly that no one was afraid. It soon became apparent that the enemy was also following us in the rear. A gallant cavalry officer with a few men lingered behind to reconnoiter until the rebels were within hailing distance of him. They invited him to come up and have a talk, but he declined, and rode forward to tell General Lauman of what he had seen. The General sent Beauregard, his chief of orderlies, to hurry on the train. The old soldier realized as much as the General himself, that we were in a crisis. He went storming up and down the road, forbidding the teamsters to lock going down the steepest hills, and talking to some of them in such a manner as to secure their lasting gratitude. The manner in which he discharged this important duty excited the admiration of all. The column took a road further to the east than the one on which we had come, so as to make sure of evading the enemy. As we passed through the little town of Van Buren, the citizens came out to watch us, and a grin of delight played on their countenances, which made the boys gnash their teeth.

In three hours, with no loss but that of two horses, we had retreated twelve miles. The day was quite warm, and the dust began to rise heavily beneath our feet. The ambulances and wagons were so full of exhausted men that they could hold no more, and still they continued to give out. We were fast reaching the limit of endurance. General Lauman observing this, and at length reaching a tract of high open fields, he began to wink ominously, "I'll fight them right here," said he, "my men would sooner fight than run at any odds."[301] The next moment we saw the fences tumbling down, and Mann's Battery, a section on each side of the road, was quickly in position. The infantry was formed in two lines, two regiments on each side of the road. The 3d Iowa was on the right of it in the front line, and supported a section of the guns. Behind us, perhaps a half mile, the waters of Spring Creek flowed clear and cool, and here the animals and exhausted men having got water, the train proceeded leisurely on out of the way. A captain of cavalry, with six men, went back to reconnoiter. Colonel Trumbull also rode leisurely back alone over the field. The party met the enemy's cavalry, and were pursued by them. As the rebels came in sight, kicking up a great cloud of dust, the two pieces on the right of the road opened with shell upon them, and a few discharges caused them hastily to disappear.

Meanwhile the two regiments of the second line had moved to the rear, crossed the creek, and proceeded to form a new line faced to the south, on a commanding field about three miles to the north. The enemy making no further demonstrations, the two remaining regiments and the battery, after a time, formed column and passed through this new line about dusk, and soon after met reinforcements, three regiments and a battery under General Hurlbut. Moving leisurely back, we reached our former camping places about 8 P. M.

But apprehensions of an early attack were entertained. In pursuance of orders received from General Hurlbut during the night, we were in line and had our wagons loaded at 3 o'clock next morning, and waited[302] most of the day, expecting the approach of the enemy. We however policed our camps, and toward night put up our tents. Reinforcements were started to us from Jackson, and that evening we had a dress parade at which an order from General Hurlbut was read, stating that with reinforcements that had arrived and were about to arrive, he hoped soon to be able to assume the offensive; also that reveille would beat at 2 o'clock next morning, and that the baggage would be loaded at four. The order was obeyed; but the enemy declined battle and the General did not pursue. We again put up our tents; but at night a similar order compelled us to take them down again early in the morning. And thus for several days we were kept in a constant state of vigilance and of preparation for any emergency.

The troops now here in excess of the 4th Division constituted an additional division under Brig. Gen. Ross.



Sudden orders to march—A day's march toward Corinth—Bivouac on the Big Muddy—Fight of the cavalry—Arrival of General Ord—Reveille—Advance of the 2d Brigade—Situation and movements of the enemy—BATTLE OF MATAMORA—Our positions in reserve—Progress of the battle—Carrying the Bridge of the Hatchie—Disastrous situation—Reserves ordered into action—Scene beyond the bridge—Hurlbut saves the day—Carrying the Heights—Practice of the artillery—Retreat of the enemy—Bivouac on the field—On picket—Reconnoissance, details, etc.—Return to Bolivar—Fruits of the victory—Losses.

Our regiment was on battalion drill on the afternoon of October 3d, when orders came to be ready to march promptly at three o'clock in the morning, with three days cooked rations in haversacks. The evening was spent in preparation, and during the night frequent orders arrived announcing the details of the march. We were to go in light order, taking, besides the ambulances, but two wagons to the regiment, one for ammunition and one for tents, of which each company was to take one. Those not able to march were exempted by the surgeons, and for this purpose an examination was had.

Reveille roused us at one o'clock; at two we had breakfasted; and at three the column formed on the open fields to the west of Bolivar. It consisted of the 4th Division, and the 68th Ohio and 12th Michigan of[304] Ross' division. General Hurlbut was in command. General Ross was to remain to guard the place.

The column began to move without delay. We passed through Bolivar and took the road leading in a southeast direction toward Corinth. The full moon shone beautifully, but not enough to light the densely wooded bottom through which for two miles beyond Bolivar the road defiles. Besides the frequent mudholes, we had to ford a small creek that flows through a cypress swamp, by which means the ranks were much broken and the column greatly lengthened. When the head of the column gained the bluffs to the east of this, it was halted to wait for the rear to come up. Day had not yet dawned, but the scene was enchanting. The moon cast a pure pale light over all the landscape, which for a long distance lay beneath us to the west. There was not a breath of air in motion; and the profound silence which pervaded all nature was broken only by the heavy tread of man and horse, and the clatter of baggage and artillery wheels. Where and why were we thus marching? The sudden orders, the nature of the preparations, and the unexpected direction we were taking, assured us that it was an uncommon movement, and that there was trouble ahead. All was mystery; but in it every one could see a battle. Little did we think that at that very hour the enemy was preparing to storm our works at Corinth.

As soon as the rear battalions had crossed the stream the march was resumed with energy. The roads were not dusty, and when the day dawned there arose a cool breeze, which enabled us to maintain the same speed[305] with which we had led out. Fifteen miles brought us by 11 A. M. to a small stream where we halted till 2 P. M., for dinner and rest.

In the afternoon the roads were somewhat dustier. At Pocahontas Station we crossed the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, and, soon after, the cavalry, two battalions of the 5th Ohio, came upon a picket of the enemy which they put to flight, losing one man mortally wounded. The column went into camp for the night on the Big Muddy, the 1st Brigade beyond it, the 2d behind it. The Third Iowa occupied precisely the same ground on which it had camped the night of the 13th of June.

The 1st Brigade had just stacked arms, when word came that our cavalry had engaged that of the enemy about a mile and a half to the front, and that they were fighting sharply. Listening, we could hear the indistinct crack of the carbines. Messengers began and continued to arrive from the scene of action; but it was some time before General Lauman seemed much concerned about it. At length we saw an officer ride up excitedly to him. Then the general climbed his horse, and galloping down to our regiment, cried out: "Third Iowa! in line!" We sprang to our stacks and took arms; when he commanded in the same tone: "At will—load!" While we thus stood in line, expecting every moment to see the cavalry breaking back upon us, we saw something in the east, flashing back the rays of the setting sun. It approached us, dancing through the bushes like two great wheels of fire, and soon discovered itself, an enormous pair of spectacles,[306] behind which a cavalry officer came riding frantically up, and with a strange accent cried to Captain Trumbull: "Kapn-ve-kot-ateenuntert-kafalrie-kiust-uns-atwo-richiments-ot-ve-to-peet-a-retreat?" The Colonel very coolly referred him to the General, when he rode off, saying the General knew all about it.

After about an hour's fighting, the contending parties withdrew as if by mutual consent, and our cavalry as per orders retired upon the infantry. We again stacked arms, and nothing occurred during the night to prevent us from sleeping soundly.

About 3 o'clock in the morning, Major General Ord arrived from Corinth, whence he had come by way of Jackson and Bolivar, from the latter place on horseback, escorted by a company of the 2d Illinois Cavalry. He assumed command of all the forces, and approved the plan of battle General Hurlbut had already made. He brought intelligence that the rebels had been defeated at Corinth, and were retreating towards us. Early in the morning, and about the time we heard of his arrival, this news circulated through our fires merely in the shape of a vague rumor of a battle at Corinth.

We were aroused at daylight, and ordered to eat our breakfasts and get ready to move. The cavalry pickets, stationed at a house, fell back into the edge of a wood to eat their breakfast without molestation, and when they attempted to return to their former post, found the house occupied by rebels, and were unable to dislodge them. About seven o'clock, the 25th Indiana, of Veatch's Brigade, moved past us to the front, followed[307] by a battery, and their brigade train. The wagons were parked with our's on the field on which the 1st Brigade still rested. It was not long before we heard the firing of skirmishers, and soon after, we were startled by discharges of artillery rapid and near. It was a section of Bolton's Battery shelling the enemy out of the house. Soon the remainder of Gen. Veatch's command moved past us, the 28th Illinois followed, and Generals Ord and Hurlbut, followed by the body-guard of the former, rode leisurely to the front. General Hurlbut was in full uniform, but General Ord wore a yellow linen coat.

About this time, and still further to the east, we could hear a skirmishing fire, now deepening into heavy volleys, and now slackening into occasional discharges. Suddenly began the noise of artillery, deep and loud, and for a long time we stood by our stacks of arms, and listened with great interest to the mingled sounds of both arms. Orderlies and staff officers rode to and from the field, but from them we could gather little news of the progress of the battle. But it was all in our favor. The enemy was being driven at all points. Retreating from Corinth and encountering our cavalry the previous night, which after the skirmish had retreated from him, he thought we were merely a cavalry force sent out to watch him, or to harass him in the rear, while attacking Corinth. He did not expect a heavy force was moving to attack him in the rear. He was not looking for such generalship on the part of Grant. Nor, when at the block house, he had seen Bolton's artillery and Morgan's skirmishers, was he[308] willing to give up the delusion which General Hurlbut had so skillfully prepared for him; but with great boldness he pushed a heavy column of his troops across the bridge of the Hatchie, when, to his amazement, he saw General Veatch's infantry deploying before him, and his batteries taking possession of Matamora heights. The enemy quickly got his guns in battery, and his infantry deployed to the right and left. Then a severe artillery duel, and then the skirmishers again joined, and the 2d Brigade advanced at a charging step. The enemy withered before their fire, and finally fled before their approaching bayonets. The charge was gallantly pressed. Most of the rebels rushed, panic stricken, over the bridge; many threw away their guns and plunged through the river; some fled through the woods to the right, and escaped by crossing on logs above the bridge; and about four hundred surrendered on the west bank. A fine four gun battery was also captured.

To second these movements, General Lauman had sent forward the 28th and 53d Illinois regiments of his brigade; the 41st was detailed to guard the wagon train, and the 32d and 3d Iowa were in reserve. As soon as General Veatch's battalion commenced, General Lauman moved forward with these two reserve regiments about two miles, and deployed us, the 32d on the right, the 3d Iowa on the left of the road, about a half mile in the rear of Matamora heights, from which we saw the 2d Brigade move forward to the attack, and heard the noise of the battle. It was to us an hour of hope and fear. The appearance of the three generals,[309] Ord, Hurlbut and Lauman, as they now sat in the road on their horses in advance of us, and received messengers and dispatched orders, and calmly conversed with each other, tended to give us confidence. But we had seen enough of battle to know that its fortunes defy calculation; we knew nothing of the strength of the enemy, and could not but think, that gallantly as they had advanced to the attack, our comrades might be driven back in dismay, and we compelled to interpose between them and a victorious foe.

The generals soon rode forward and found the enemy driven across the river. General Ord ordered Veatch to throw his regiments across and deploy them successively to the right and left of the road. Beyond the river there was about twelve rods of bottom, and then there arose a very high and steep bluff. Along the brow of this the enemy, rallying and reinforced, had formed new lines of battle, and planted artillery which from different points, enfiladed the road and bridge, and swept the field on both sides of the stream. Following up the river, just above the bridge it makes an abrupt elbow and comes down from the east running parallel to the road on the opposite side. In this elbow and on not more than half an acre of ground, a part of General Veatch's brigade, according to the orders of General Ord, would have to deploy. The 53d Indiana crossed first, and, endeavoring to form on this ground, became crowded together in the narrow space between the road and the river, when it met a plunging fire of musketry and canister, and was driven back to the bridge in disorder and with great loss. Here they met[310] the 25th Indiana, which crossed bravely and stayed them in their retreat. The 14th and 15th Illinois followed handsomely and deployed to the left of the road. Then crossed the 28th and 53d Illinois of Lauman's brigade, which were ordered to deploy to the right, where, like the 52d Indiana, they were crowded together and confused; but they held their ground and bravely returned the fire of the enemy.

Meanwhile the reserves were ordered to the front. General Lauman took the lead, and we advanced by the flank rapidly down the road. We crossed the ridge and came to the village. Beyond us the field was swept by a converging fire of the enemy's batteries. Into this storm of shot, shell and canister, we ran. Beyond the river the battle was at its hight. Its noise was one uninterrupted roar. We knew that our troops were sustaining it bravely; for we met no stragglers as at Shiloh. The bridge was swept by a random fire directed through the tops of the trees. Colonel Trumbull ordered us to fix bayonets. We crossed the bridge on the run, and fixed bayonets, crossing. Beyond the bridge sat General Lauman and staff. Beauregard, the old orderly, was wounded and bleeding freely at the mouth; but he still was able to respond to our cheers, and to call upon us to "give the rebels hell." Colonel Trumbull riding in lead, pointed to the hill and ordered us to charge. The regiment obeyed bravely and had nearly reached the foot of the hill, when it was ordered to file to the right. Here in a moment we became massed and mingled with the regiments which had endeavored to form here before us. Through the dense smoke we could[311] not see the enemy; but we could hear the rapid jar of his artillery before and above us, and his canister as it swept through the air in vollies, making inroads into the masses that swayed to and fro around us. The situation was disastrous in the extreme. We were massed and crowded together, and completely at the mercy of the enemy's fire, while we could scarcely hope to injure him with our's. Behind us an almost impassable barrier, obstructing retreat. To attempt to withdraw across the narrow bridge would have insured our destruction. What then were we to do? We could not advance, we could not retreat, nor could we effectively return the enemy's fire. The next moment the enemy's masses might pour down the hill at a charge. We must hold our ground like men, and, if necessary, die here. This terrible resolution seemed to have seized all hearts.

At this juncture General Ord was wounded, and the command devolved upon General Hurlbut, to whom it of right belonged. The day was now lost, and it was for him to regain it. It was for him to correct the fatal dispositions of the former, to make new dispositions of the troops under that appalling fire, and out of shattered and broken elements to organize victory. He rode across the bridge and into the thickest of the fire. He ordered the 46th Illinois, and the 68th Ohio, and 12th Michigan, yet on the west bank, to cross the bridge, and deploy to the left so as to flank the hill. They executed the movement finely, and in a few moments the enemy saw, with astonishment, regiments emerging from the field of his concentrated fire, where[312] he had held us so long, and advancing in good order upon his right. His firing suddenly ceased; his colors disappeared from the crest of the hill. He saw his victory snatched from him by superior skill and courage, and fled in dismay.

At this juncture, having quickly formed our regiment, Colonel Trumbull took off his hat and said to us, "Men of the Third Iowa, will you stand by me this day?" All voices responded, "We will!" "Then," replied he, "here's a man that never retreats this day!" Could we have asked for a better leader?

In a few moments the whole force, splendidly aligned, advanced up the hill, and new lines were formed on its crest. The artillery followed, Mann's battery in lead, the planting of which General Hurlbut superintended in person. This battery, which won such honors at Shiloh, now behaved, if possible, more admirably than before. Leaving their caissons and limbers under the crest of the hill, the men ran their guns up by hand and opened a fire upon the enemy's masked battery, directing their aim at its smoke. The other batteries took position to its left, one of them so as to command the enemy's battery with a flanking fire. The practice of our artillery was splendid. As often as one of the enemy's guns would fire, three or four of ours would reply. Meantime a party of volunteer skirmishers from the 15th Illinois, crept up behind the crest of a hill in the open field, between the left of our line and the enemy, and with the most amusing impudence, picked off his wheel horses and cannoneers. In a short time his battery was knocked to pieces and[313] compelled to leave the field. His rear guard then withdrew, and disappeared from our front. The firing of our cannon had scarcely ceased, when we heard those of Rosecrans in the direction of Corinth, thundering in the enemy's rear. This should have been sufficient to determine the general to press the pursuit. Why this was not done was an enigma to us then, and it has remained unexplained ever since. It is true, we were not prepared for a general pursuit. But the enemy twice beaten was between two victorious armies, and had but one avenue of escape to the south, and that over a single bridge, where a portion of his force might have been cut off. But though the enemy's situation was not realized then, and though, with the knowledge he had, the general followed the best counsels in resting on the field, it is not doubted now that the enemy's retreat might have been pressed till night with splendid results.

We rested in line of battle till nearly night, when the wagons came up and we bivouacked on the field. The battle had lasted seven hours, beginning before eight in the morning, and ending before three in the afternoon. We were fatigued, not so much from the day's fighting as from the hard march of yesterday. A victory is for a time a great equalizer of military caste. It obliterates the distinctions of rank; the officer does not feel above the soldier, and the soldier feels as good as the officer; all become comrades in the general rejoicing. It is hard then for the soldier to disobey the officer; it is likewise hard for the officer to chide the soldier. And when to-night squads of the boys went[314] to the nearest farm houses, and came back with back loads of fresh meat, the officers,—the general himself, could not utter a word of disapproval.

That night three companies of the Third Iowa, A, F and H, were detailed for picket. Our position was a half mile in advance of the bluffs, and near where the enemy had formed his last lines of battle. Before us lay an open valley which looked strangely beautiful in the light of the moon. Behind us were scattered through the woods the enemy's dead. Our own were yet unburied. The moon as it looked down seemed to be pitying the fate of the brave men that lay staring a death-stare at her serene countenance. The "dim-lit fields" and the shadowy woods surrounding them, possessed a weird appearance, as though the ghosts of the slain heroes were flitting over them. And as we listened to the distant barking of the wakeful dog, and to the moanings of the night owl, we heard, or thought we heard, the far off sounds of the enemy's retreating hosts. And there we watched while our comrades slept. Terrible battle! glorious victory! moonlight watching on a field of death!—what scenes for future recollection!

Early in the morning, the 41st Illinois with two howitzers of Mann's battery, went forward to reconnoiter. They met the army of Rosecrans in pursuit of the enemy, who had retreated to the south, crossing the Hatchie six miles above us, and thus made good his escape. The line of the enemy's retreat was strown with abandoned baggage, wagons and artillery. A large detail under a commissioned officer went forward to[315] burn them. Many squads of stragglers came in, exhausted, sick, disheartened, and telling doleful stories of their sufferings. The day was spent in burying the dead, caring for the wounded and collecting the arms scattered over the field, abandoned by the enemy in his retreat.

Our rations were exhausted, but the country supplied us abundantly. On the morning of the 7th, wagons arrived with rations from Bolivar, and we replenished our haversacks and began our return march. We had not proceeded far before we met another train of wagons coming to take away such of the wounded as had not yet been removed. It was a matter of much regret to us, as we turned our backs to our field of glory, that we had not joined Rosecrans in the pursuit. But we were retiring victorious, and save the thoughts of our dead and wounded comrades, little served to diminish our joy. We halted for the night on the creek where we had taken dinner on Saturday, and the next day at eleven o'clock we reached our camp.

Before dismissing the battalion, Colonel Trumbull addressed us, saying that General Lauman had complimented our good conduct in the battle, and that if our Generals were proud of us, we had equal reason to be proud of our Generals. He therefore proposed three cheers successively for Generals Ord, Hurlbut, Lauman, and Veatch, which were given with a will, and three were then spontaneously given for Colonel Trumbull.

The next day Colonel Trumbull ordered the officers of the regiment, who had commanded companies in the battle, to make out official reports, stating who, if any,[316] had behaved in a manner particularly meritorious, and who, if any, had been guilty of misconduct. Under the latter head, a few were reported, whom the Colonel promptly arrested and confined, and reported to brigade headquarters with the request that they be court-martialed and punished.

Our loss in the whole force engaged did not fall far short of six hundred in killed and wounded. Our regiment lost two killed and about sixty wounded. The enemy's loss in killed and wounded must have been much less than ours. He did not leave many in the field. According to the most moderate reports, the captures were two batteries, including fourteen caissons, four hundred prisoners, one thousand stand of small arms, and about seventy wagons, burned the next day on the line of his retreat.



The Battle of Matamora—Colonel Trumbull's Official Report—General Hurlbut's parting review—His parting orders—How they were received—Congratulatory orders of General Grant—Telegram from the President.

The following is Colonel Trumbull's official report of the part taken by the 3d Iowa in the battle of Matamora. I give it as it was furnished me from regimental head quarters. With all due deference to the Colonel, who commanded us so bravely, and who had a better opportunity of knowing our situation during the battle than any one man among us, I think all will agree with me that in some statements he has made slight mistakes. It was not so much the enemy's fire, though that was severe, that threw us into confusion beyond the bridge, as it was the attempt to form us in line to the right of the road, on the narrow space already crowded by broken troops. We were first ordered to charge, and then, by General Lauman, I believe, to file to the right, the general not wishing to advance us into the fire of our own troops, who in the tumult could not hear the order to cease firing. The Colonel does not mention that, before any attempt to re-form the regiment was successful, the enemy had ceased firing and retired from the crest of the hill. This was due to the manner in[318] which General Hurlbut had disposed on the left his yet available troops. The promptness with which the regiment again formed was due to the Colonel as much as to the men. When once all could hear and understand the voice of the commander, who through the trying storm they had seen behaving so bravely, nothing more was needed to bring them to their places in ranks:

Head Quarters, 3d Iowa Infantry Camp,}
near Bolivar, Tenn.
, Oct. 8, 1862. }

Capt. H. Schofield, A. A. G.—Sir: I have the honor to report the part taken by the 3d Iowa Infantry in the battle of the 5th of October. The 3d Iowa, 300 strong, was on the right of the 1st Brigade, (Gen. Lauman), and formed part of the reserve. When the reserve was ordered into action the 3d Iowa led, crossing the bridge at a cheer, and at a double quick, under so severe a fire that about —— men were shot down in a few minutes, including over half of the commissioned officers present. This necessarily threw the regiment into some confusion, especially as the road was narrow and encumbered with a good deal of underbrush, and the men pressing forward got entangled with the men of other regiments. I saw no way to extricate the regiment, but by planting the colors in the middle of the road, and ordering the men to rally to them. This was promptly done, nearly every man springing instantly to his place. The regiment then moved forward up the hill in company with other regiments which had adopted the same plan, the enemy retiring as we advanced. On reaching the summit, the 3d Iowa was[319] stationed in the open plain to the left of the road, and toward the close of the engagement was moved to the right of the road near the bend of the river to support the gallant 28th Illinois, (Col. Johnson). The battle was now about over.

I have to regret the loss of 1st Lieut. W. P. Dodd, commanding Company H., who was struck by a shell and instantly killed, just before we crossed the bridge. He was a brave and faithful officer, and his loss will fall heavily upon the regiment. I have also to regret the permanent disability of Capt. E. J. Weiser, of Company D, and acting 2d Lieut. D. W. Foote, of Company I, two noble and gallant officers, both of whom have been wounded in battle before. Capt. C. Kostman, commanding Company C, and Lieut. W. B. Hamil, commanding Company K, were both severely wounded while gallantly pressing forward in the front of their respective companies. 2d Lieut. C. E. Anderson, commanding Company G, who had done his whole duty through the engagement, was severely wounded just at the close of the battle. 1st Lieut. J. G. Scoby was especially prominent in rallying the men to the colors. Lieut. Geary, Company H, deserves especial mention, for staying in command of his company after the death of the 1st Lieutenant, all through the battle, and until we reached Bolivar, though suffering from a painful, but not a severe wound. Lieutenants McMurtry and Burdick, of Company D, Lakin and Abernethy, of Company F, and Moe, of Company C, did their duty bravely and well. Company A. was not engaged. 2d Lieutenant G. H. Cushman, acting adjutant, and Sergeant[320] Major, A. W. Montague, both displayed great coolness and courage, and rendered me valuable assistance on the field.

The conduct of the rank and file in crossing the bridge, under the terrific fire of the enemy's batteries, and in rallying to the flag as promptly as they did, deserves the highest praise. Several cases of individual bravery among the men, I shall bring to the notice of the General commanding the Brigade, as soon as I have fully investigated the circumstances. I take pleasure in noticing here the gallantry of Corporal Anderson Edwards, the color bearer. This is the third fight in which he has carried the colors of the regiment, and he deserves the notice of the General commanding. I am ashamed to say that a few—a very few cases of misconduct in the presence of the enemy have been reported to me, which on further investigation I shall submit to the General commanding the Brigade, with a request that they may be submitted to a general court martial.

I herewith enclose a list of the killed and wounded of the Iowa Third in the action of the 5th. The number of the killed is very small, considering the terrible character of the wounds received.

I have the honor to be, sir,
With great respect,
Your obedient servant,
M. M. Trumbull,
Captain Commanding 3d Iowa Infantry.

No one can deny the justness and impartiality with which this report reviews the conduct of the officers and[321] men. It is to be regretted, however, that more instances of gallant conduct on the part of the latter, of which there were many, could not have been brought to light in this document.

Nothing more can be said of the conduct of General Hurlbut, than that his praise was again upon the lips of every man of the 4th Division. It received at the hands of the Government the prompt recognition it deserved. He was appointed to be a Major General and assigned to the command of the District of Jackson. He took a parting review of the decimated regiments which had marched so long and fought so well under his command. It was not like Napoleon taking leave of his officers at Fontainebleu, nor Washington's farewell to the army at New York; but it was a parting, where, on both sides, there were far more regrets than would seem. As the thinned battalions marched past him, their battered flags saluting, with so many brave, familiar faces absent, the General gazed upon his men, and the men turned their eyes toward their general, with an affection which it does not seem possible could have grown up between soldier and commander in the short space of seven months. On turning over the command of the Division to General Lauman, General Hurlbut issued the following farewell address:

Head Quarters Fourth Division,}
District of West Tennessee, }
, Tenn., Oct. 8, 1862. }

General Orders,
No. 112.

Officers and Soldiers of the Fourth Division:—Comrades in battle, partakers of the weary march and the[322] long watches! By your discipline and courage the victory has been won, and the title of the "Fighting Fourth," earned at Shiloh, has been burnished with additional splendor on the Hatchie.

We were ordered on a forlorn hope to the aid of our beleaguered brothers in arms at Corinth. The march was arduous, the undertaking desperate. My orders were to reach Rosecrans at all hazards, and relieve him or perish.

By the blessing of the God of our fathers and our country, the forces which assailed that indomitable garrison were scattered and broken by their invincible courage before our turn came. But there was yet work for the "Old Fourth."

The heavy mass of the enemy were retreating by the State Line road, when, after crossing the Muddy, we met them. Each arm of this division gallantly co-operating with the other—cavalry, infantry and artillery, over a rough and dangerous country—over hill and through ravines, forest and thicket—a desperate enemy made no breach in the serried ranks of this command. Aided by your brave comrades of the 68th Ohio and 12th Michigan, from General Ross' command, field after field was swept, position after position seized and occupied, until the crowning struggle of the day came for the occupation of the high grounds east of the Hatchie. The bridge across that stream was carried at a charging step; the work of the artillery was done—that of the infantry commenced in deadly earnest. Major General Ord, a stranger to you, but to whom the division, by its well won reputation, was no stranger,[323] and who had hitherto led the advance, was struck at the bridge and disabled; the command then devolved upon your old commander.

By misapprehension of the nature of the country across the Hatchie, a large portion of the division had been massed on impracticable ground to the right of the road, and exposed to a terrific fire of canister at short range. That you bore it without the possibility of active return speaks well for your discipline.

Knowing the ground, I immediately determined to throw out the main force to the left, crown the hill side, and flank the enemy; and it is among the proudest moments of my life, when I remember how promptly the several regiments disengaged themselves from their temporary confusion and extended to the left; and with what a will they bent themselves to conquer the hill. In twenty minutes all was over—the crest was gained and held, the artillery rapidly in place, and the field of Matamora was won. The broken fragments of the Confederate army recoiled before your solid advance; their main line of retreat was cut off, and their troops forced over the broken ground east of the Hatchie.

Our duty was accomplished. Our wounded, the bloody witnesses to the desperation of the fight, were to be cared for. Already the victorious column of Rosecrans was thundering in their rear. It was my duty to bring in the forces that remained to me.

You have returned to camp. No colors lost; not a man or a gun missing. It is a triumph; and you, and I for you, have a right to be proud.

With you in this achievement were associated the[324] Sixty-eighth Ohio and the Twelfth Michigan regiments. They were worthy to be with you, and their conduct receives the praise of their commanding officer.

And now the necessities of the service remove me from the immediate command of the Fourth Division. A promotion won by your courage and discipline removes me to a larger command.

I wish you to understand from these, my parting orders, that I know full well that no regiment in my old division desired to be under my command when we met at Donelson. The reason why, I know well, but care not to tell now. Your respect I conquered at Shiloh; your regard I hope to have acquired since.

Give to the officer who may succeed me the same prompt obedience, the same steady devotion to duty, and you will make me, wherever I am, proud of the high reputation of the Fourth Division.

Remember, every man and officer, that I here again publicly acknowledge, that whatever I may have of military reputation has been won by you; and that I wear it only as coming from you; and that any misconduct or want of discipline on your part, will grieve your old commander. Remember that I place my honor as well as your own in your hands, and that if I find a difficult place that must be held, I shall call for the Fourth. I have no fears how you will answer.

Our dead—our glorious dead! The joy of victory is dimmed when we think of them. But they have died as they would wish—died in defense of the Union and the Laws—died bravely on the red field of battle, with[325] their unconquered banner over them. Their comrades will avenge them.

And when at last our victorious flag shall float over the national domain, reconquered and united, and the weary soldier shall forget his toils in the endearments of home, around your firesides and among your children and neighbors, you shall recite as a part of your glorious history, how you swept the rebel hosts, with every advantage of position, across the Hatchie, and around the opposing hill, with a wall of fire and steel that repelled the chosen troops of Van Dorn and Price. Infantry, artillery and cavalry of the Fourth Division, and your well-deserving companions of the 68th Ohio and 12th Michigan, you have done your duty, each in his place, and each at the right time. You have satisfied your General; and the country in due time shall know what is due to each of you. I bid you, for a while, farewell.

Officers and men, continue to deserve your lofty reputation; and then, as heretofore you will continue to receive the approbation of your General and strengthen his hands in the performance of his duties.

S. A. Hurlbut, Major General.

This address was eagerly sought for, and read with the greatest pride and delight by all the soldiers of the Division. Every copy that could be supplied was taken and preserved as a choice memento, or sent home to friends. The boys read and re-read it so often that some even had it committed to memory. Neither in it nor in its author could any one see a blemish. Well, who[326] could blame us for rejoicing in our splendid victory, and in our idol and ideal general? If our comrades of other corps could not see it as we did, surely they should have been willing to allow us to believe that there was no division like the "Fighting Fourth," and no general like "Old Steve." To them the order may have seemed too eloquent—too boastful, and we, in the excess of our delight over it, making a ridiculous display of vain conceit. But was not the theme an eloquent one?—and who had a better right to boast than our general, and who to be proud than we?

General Grant viewed these battles at a distance, though he controlled the general movements. His order of thanks was more temperate, and perhaps more appropriate. It read as follows:

Head Quarters, District of West Tennessee, }
, Tenn., October 7th, 1862. }

General Orders,
No. 88.

It is with heartfelt gratitude that the General commanding congratulates the armies of the West for another great victory won by them on the 3d, 4th, and 5th instant over the combined forces of Van Dorn and Lovell.

The enemy chose his own time and place of making the attack, and knowing the troops of the West as he does, never would have made the attack, except with a superior force, numerically. But for the undaunted bravery of officers and soldiers, who have yet to learn defeat, the efforts of the enemy would have been successful.


Whilst one division of the army under Major General Rosecrans was resisting and repelling the onslaught of the enemy at Corinth, another from Bolivar under Major General Hurlbut, was marching upon the enemy's rear, driving in his pickets and cavalry, and attracting the attention of a large force of infantry and artillery. On the following day, under Major General Ord, these forces advanced with unsurpassed gallantry, driving the enemy back across the Hatchie, over ground where it is almost incredible that a superior force should be driven by an inferior, capturing two batteries (eight guns), many hundred small arms, and several hundred prisoners. To these two divisions of the army all praise is due, and will be awarded by a grateful country.

Between them there should be, and I trust there is, the warmest bonds of brotherhood. Each was risking his life in the same cause, and on this occasion risking it to save and assist the other. No troops could do more than these separated armies. Each did all possible for it to do in the place assigned it.

As in all great battles, so in this, it becomes our fate to mourn the loss of many brave and faithful officers and soldiers, who have given up their lives a sacrifice for a great principle. The nation mourns for them.

By command of Major General Grant,
John A. Rawlins, A. A. G.

I must not omit the President's congratulatory letter, written in his characteristic way, which General Grant published in the following order:


Head Quarters, District of West Tennessee, }
, Tenn., October 17, 1862. }

General Orders,
No. 89.

The following dispatch from the President of the United States of America, has been officially received, and is published to the armies in this District.

Washington, D. C., Oct. 8, 1862.

Major General Grant; I congratulate you and all concerned in your recent battles and victories. How does it all sum up? I especially regret the death of General Hackleman, and am very anxious to know the condition of General Oglesby, who is a personal and intimate friend. A. Lincoln.

By command of Major General Grant,
John A. Rawlins, A. A. G.



Organization and changes—Reconnoissance by General Ross—Disposition of the Hatchie prisoners—The State election in our regiments—Effect of the news of the Northern elections upon our troops—Wild reports of the enemy's advance—Fortifying—Preparations for a general advance—Arrival of General Grant—Grand review—Arrival of new regiments—Reorganization of our division—General marching orders—First day's march—Second day's march—Vandalism of the troops—Junction with the left wing—Our camp at LaGrange—Order against vandalism—Position of the enemy—Preparations and reconnoissances—Daily inspection of ammunition—Arrival of Colonel Williams—Resignation of Lieut. Col. Trumbull—The Somerville march—Reviews and marching orders.

Brigadier Gen. Lauman assumed command of the 4th Division, and Colonel Pugh again took command of the 1st Brigade, which he had commanded so well in the battle of Shiloh. Major General McPherson was put in command of the 2d Division of the District of Jackson,—embracing the country around Bolivar held by the 4th Division and the troops of General Ross, the previous command of General Hurlbut and still included in his command,—with his headquarters at Bolivar.

On the 9th of October, General Ross went out to reconnoiter in the direction of Ripley, but returned[330] without meeting anything of consequence. We again relapsed into the quiet of camp life, and began our customary drills and reviews. Our wounded were cared for in the hospitals at Bolivar, but as fast as they were able to be moved, were sent to Jackson and further north. The prisoners taken in the late battle were sent under escort of the 28th Illinois to Holly Springs, and delivered over to be exchanged.

While at this camp we witnessed among ourselves the novel experiment of soldiers being allowed to vote on matters which pertain to their State, and to their several communities at home. The commissioner appointed, in pursuance of the act of the Legislature, to take the vote of our regiment, P. F. Crane, Esq., of Fayette county, arrived several days before that of the election, and much of the time during his stay with us enjoyed the hearty but rough hospitalities of Company F. No military duty interfering, the election was held on the usual day for the State, the 14th of the month. That morning the minors were sent on picket to give all the legal voters a chance. The polls were opened at the Adjutant's tent. The whole affair passed off with a marvelous degree of quiet and order. There was no drunkenness, no wire-pulling, no trickery, no coercion, no undue persuasion. If some of our fellow citizens at home could have witnessed the election, characterized by not a single disgraceful scene, but where every man, like a citizen sovereign, voted unquestioned the ticket of his choice, they would have been put to shame at the disgraceful conduct which marks many elections held amid the restraining influences of society and civilization.[331] And could they have seen it, how it would have put to shame (if aught could put to shame), the detested, corrupt, traitorous and cowardly crew, who advocated the withholding of this just and simple right from the men who, they would allege, had forfeited it, because they had placed themselves a voluntary living wall between them and their country's foes! No event ever did more honor to the patriotism and wisdom of a legislative body, than did these elections to the Legislature of Iowa. Most of those who had hitherto voted or sympathized with the Democratic party, viewing its present workings as tending more to embarrass the Government than to reform its abuses, the vote for its candidates was very light—less than forty out of about three hundred votes cast. (I write from memory and can not give the official figures.) And what was still more significant, Mahoney, the traitor, only got two votes!

When the results of the Northern elections became known, it cast a gloom over the great majority of our regiment, and of the regiments around us. A crushing defeat of our main armies would not have had so chilling an effect on the morale of our best troops as this. Waiving all consideration of the questions involved, it was too plain to all that these elections indicated a dissatisfaction with the administration, an opposition to the prosecution of the war, a sympathy with the common enemy, and in general, a disaffection among the people, where all should be struggling unitedly for the salvation of the Republic. Though many good and patriotic men acted with the party, we could not but see that, with scarcely an exception, every traitor in the North[332] likewise acted with it, and we heard with mortification and rage the exultations of the enemy, who proclaimed its triumph as a triumph of their cause among us. But the most alarming feature of this indication of disaffection to the Government was, that it took place at a time when the two main armies of the enemy were scarcely checked in their marches of victory,—when his hordes on the Potomac and the Ohio had scarcely begun to recoil from their attempted invasion of our homes and firesides. That, at a time when the public danger increased, a portion of the people should have increased their factious opposition to the Government, was to the brave soldiers struggling against an all but successful enemy, really disheartening. In such times as these, it should be the chief lesson of the citizen to learn, that, however weak or lacking in wisdom the Chief of the State may be, the only resource of the nation's safety is for the people to rally around him as one man, and to accomplish by spontaneous action what he fails to do. Honor and gratitude to those who stand by their country's Chief when danger thickens; but to those who desert him and turn against him, let due infamy be accorded.

We still had wild and ridiculous reports of the enemy advancing upon us in great force. The Memphis Bulletin promulgated them, and many of the soldiers believed them with a credulity that was disgraceful. They did not stop to think that the enemy's army was numerically less than ours; and that his force being manifestly equal to ours at all other points, could not be superior to it here. Whether the generals believed[333] these reports or not, it is difficult to say. At least they began to construct fortifications at Bolivar, and for this purpose heavy details were made each day, and the work was pressed vigorously until, under the personal supervision of Major General McPherson, himself an engineer of the first order, a line of works were constructed by no means inferior in character, and capable of protecting the front of a large army.

But in the midst of these defensive operations, preparations for a general advance began. A six months supply of clothing, camp and garrison equipage, was issued to the troops; draught animals were shod, and wagons put in a state of repair; and an immense quantity of ordnance stores was brought forward. On the 28th of October the guns of Fort Sanderson announced the arrival of Major General Grant. In making preparations for a campaign, the first thing a general wants to know is the number and condition of his effective troops, and in order to make this investigation in a satisfactory manner, it is very desirable that he should see them. Accordingly the following morning was memorable for a grand review. The two divisions were drawn up in hollow square near Fort Sanderson. The lines thus formed were nearly three miles in length, exclusive of cavalry and artillery. The appearance of General Grant was the signal for a salvo of thirteen guns. He rode at a slow walk along the lines, eyeing the troops with great scrutiny. Exclusive of numbers, there was not in this review much of the "pomp and circumstance of war." At those points of the line where the General was at a distance and not approaching, the[334] men, excessively fatigued with standing still, sat down, and in some places the ranks became quite broken. We then passed in review before the General, and returned to our camp through suffocating clouds of dust.

Meanwhile new regiments, organized in the summer, began to arrive, and were distributed among the old brigades. The 4th Division was re-organized so as to be composed of three brigades, the 1st under command of Colonel Pugh, the 2d, of Colonel Hall, 14th Illinois, the 3d under command of the gallant E. K. Johnson, of the 28th Illinois. The 1st Brigade was composed of the 3d Iowa, 53d and 103d Illinois; the 2d Brigade of the 14th, 15th, 46th and 76th Illinois; the 3d Brigade of the 28th and 32d Illinois, and the 53d Indiana and 12th Wisconsin. The latter was a splendid regiment numbering nearly a thousand men. It had seen much service, but had never been in action. The 25th Indiana was detached from the division some time after this at LaGrange. Until then it continued with the 2d Brigade.

On the 1st of November we received marching orders. The recent order of General Halleck, reducing the transportation of the army, was now in our cases put into effect. We were to take but six teams to the regiment. Officers were required to confine their baggage to valises instead of trunks, and to turn over their surplus baggage, at their option, to the Depot Quartermaster for storage, who would receipt for the same. Three days rations were taken in haversacks, and two in the wagons. Our surplus wagons were detailed to haul the baggage of the 103d.


At daylight the camps had disappeared from the fields, the batteries were limbered up, long lines of baggage wagons stood where the camps had been, and dark columns of infantry completed the scene. Before eight o'clock the column stretched out on the Grand Junction road. The men were in excellent spirits; for it was generally believed that we were going this time to stay. The road was somewhat dusty, but the day was cool and the march easy. We made ten miles and camped south of Spring Creek, near where General Lauman had halted and shelled the enemy in his memorable retreat. General McPherson believed in military discipline; and notwithstanding the men were tired with carrying their heavy knapsacks, he caused a strong camp guard to be posted around each regiment, and ordered that the men be confined strictly to its limits. The arrangement created great displeasure towards him. It was repeated, though in a milder degree, in all our subsequent marches under him. Before night, Logan's division came up and camped near us.

The following day's march was characterized by a degree of vandalism which was disgraceful to all concerned in it, and even to the army at large. Fences and buildings were set on fire all along the line of march, and in some instances almost under the eye of General Grant. Decent respect to our General should have spared him the sight of such humiliating occurrences. Most of it was laid to the cavalry in advance.

Near Grand Junction where the State line road[336] crosses the one on which we were marching, we found the head of General Hamilton's column, coming from Corinth, but now at a halt and waiting for our column to defile past and take the LaGrange road to the right.

The right wing, General McPherson, went into camp around LaGrange, and the left wing along Wolf River, south of Grand Junction, and near Davis' Bridge. The 3d Iowa went into camp that night on the precise ground it had occupied in the summer. General McPherson established his headquarters in an elegant building near us. The railroad was repaired from Bolivar, and preparations for a continued advance immediately began.

The vandalism of both wings of the army in burning fences and buildings on the march hither, called forth a severe order from General Grant. This failing to accomplish its purpose, another one was issued assessing the amount of property destroyed to the smallest corps to which the act could be traced, whether division, brigade, regiment, company, detachment, or single man; the amount to be assessed against them, or him, on their pay rolls, and deducted from their pay. This had the desired effect for a while, but it was soon forgotten.

The enemy under Van Dorn and Price were camped south of us, at, or this side of Holly Springs. The time we lay at this point was consumed in preparatory reconnoissances, rebuilding the railroad bridge over Wolf River south of Grand Junction, and otherwise preparing for a general invasion of Mississippi.

About noon, November 5th, an order came to our[337] regiment to march immediately in light order, taking one day's rations in haversacks. It was a reconnoissance of the 1st Brigade with a section of Mann's Battery, Col. Pugh in command. Captain McCall was in command of the 3d Iowa. We moved south, taking the Holly Springs road, and, when about eight miles beyond our outposts, those of the enemy came in sight. Our infantry deployed on either side of the road, and our artillery commenced throwing shells. The country was open and level, and afforded a fine view. We could see our shells strike the ground and burst about three-quarters of a mile from us.

The enemy fled, and we again advanced. About sundown our cavalry came up with the retreating cavalry of the enemy and repulsed them after a brief skirmish, in which the rebels lost one killed and two wounded. Darkness coming on, we retraced our steps and arrived in LaGrange about 9 o'clock, having made in one afternoon a march of eighteen miles, besides some skirmishing.

The following evening an order was read to our regiment on parade that the troops of the division would hold themselves in readiness to march in the morning on a reconnoissance, in force, with the exception of two regiments of Gen. Veatch's Brigade, one of which was to be left to guard Ball's Bridge, and the other as a reserve and for picket duty, and one regiment of Col. Johnson's Brigade left to guard the bridge over Wolf River on the Holly Springs road, and one battery also to be left behind. We were to be provided with two day's rations in haversacks, and one hundred rounds of[338] ammunition to the man. The imprudence of reading such an order, on a public parade, is at once apparent. A single citizen might have conveyed its contents to the enemy, and he, taking advantage of our folly in thus informing him of our force and designs, might have punished it severely.

We moved at 9 o'clock, taking the Holly Springs road. Major General McPherson was in command, and General Lauman was also along. Captain McCall commanded the 3d Iowa. A steady march without any exciting incident brought us late in the afternoon to the brick church near Lamar, where the division had camped previously in the summer, when under Sherman. We had scarcely stacked arms when a distant noise of skirmishing began in front. At first we paid little attention to it; but soon it increased into indistinct vollies. We were ordered to keep on our accoutrements and to be ready to fall in line at any moment. Two companies, one of them Company K, of our regiment, under Lieut. Lakin of Company F, were sent out as skirmishers in a thick wood on the right. Just as we had got enough grass pulled to sleep on, we were ordered to take a new position, half a mile in advance.

We had not gone to sleep when various accounts of the skirmishing we had heard in advance began to come in. It proved to have been an affair of the cavalry. Ours, three battalions, respectively, of the 1st West Tennessee (mounted infantry), the 7th Kansas Jayhawkers (mounted infantry), and the 2d Illinois (cavalry), came up with the enemy's, consisting of two battalions of Jackson's celebrated cavalry under Col.[339] Montgomery. A ruse was adopted to draw the rebels into a trap. Our mounted infantry dismounted and concealing themselves on either side of the road, which ran through a narrow lane, the 2d Illinois Battalion then advanced, and coming upon the enemy, appeared to be confounded at his numbers, and began a precipitate retreat. The enemy pursued with great haste, and when he came between the two lines of dismounted infantry, they opened a sudden fire upon him. "Amazement seized the rebel thrones." They whirled about in great panic and began to retreat. But before they turned, the boys had shot down several horses in the rear of their column. Upon these poor animals, plunging and floundering, now rushed the whole mass, pent up in the narrow lane. The boys closed in on them, and succeeded in securing one captain and sixty-four men, many of whom were horribly bruised and mutilated. Besides these, two or three had been killed.

But this impudent trick was soon after surpassed by the ambitious Jayhawkers. Lying in wait, they saw a large party of the enemy move up and post themselves as a grand guard. The Jayhawkers waited till they got well asleep, and then crept up behind them, and woke them up to tell them they were prisoners. The whole thing was accomplished without any noise or disturbance. A few minutes after, a sergeant came up. He, too, was taken. Then came a lieutenant and a private. They shared the same fate.

I give the accounts of these exploits furnished by men who participated in them. The prisoners we saw, talked with, and counted. They numbered a hundred[340] and twelve. They were without uniform, though not ragged—but a dirty, wo-begone looking set. Many were horribly bruised and clotted with blood. They said that if Jackson had been in command their disaster in the lane would never have happened. But he had been promoted to be a brigadier general, and Montgomery, his successor, had proven himself incompetent to fill the place.

Most of the next day, the infantry and artillery remained where they had spent the night; but the cavalry pushed on as far as Cold Water River, where it met the enemy in force of infantry and artillery, and was forced back. We heard the dull booming of his cannon when they opened upon our cavalry, and guessed correctly what the sounds meant. Soon after, the 3d Iowa was sent forward to support the cavalry, but after advancing about two miles was recalled. The cavalry retired deliberately and the enemy did not pursue.

About four in the afternoon, we took up the return march for LaGrange. The air was cool, and when once in motion we led out at a brisk pace. The dust was somewhat annoying, but what was more so, the troops had set fire to the fields and fences, and we were compelled to march along burning lanes through intense smoke and heat, between two lines of fire. We reached our camps about eight o'clock in the evening.

After this reconnoissance, by order of General McPherson, the ammunition in the cartridge boxes of the men was inspected each day on dress parade by a staff officer sent for the purpose. Forty rounds of cartridge were furnished each man, and whenever a deficiency[341] was found that the soldier could not account for, he was charged at the rate of fifty cents for each cartridge. The boys were very careful never to get caught without their full number. Should they find their number short, it was easy to borrow for the time of some comrade who did not go on parade. When the marches again commenced the arrangement was dispensed with.

About this time General Lauman was succeeded in the command of the 4th Division by Brig. Gen. McKean. Our regiment listened to his parting orders with extreme regret. I do not know whether this feeling was common to the whole division; but the soldiers of the 1st Brigade felt that he was their general, and feared our division would not get another commander who would be so proud of his trust and fulfil it so well.

At LaGrange, Col. Williams again joined us. His appearance was greeted with many demonstrations of disrespect on the part of the rank and file. Captain Smith, who had been home on recruiting service, came with him. The Captain was well and warmly received. Lieutenant Crosley also joined us about that time; but was soon after detailed as aid on the staff of the brigade. Lieut. Col. Trumbull, who had been compelled to remain behind on account of sickness, joined us from Bolivar. He soon after tendered his resignation for reasons which were well understood and appreciated by his friends. It was not without much difficulty that he procured its acceptance, General McPherson at first refusing his concurrence. With scarcely an exception, he parted from us with the sincere regrets and[342] good wishes of the whole regiment, both officers and men.[2]

The morning of the 23d of November is memorable for the most remarkable march ever performed by our regiment. The enemy's cavalry appeared in our rear in the direction of Somerville, about sixteen miles northeast of LaGrange. Our cavalry was at the time busy with the enemy in front. Accordingly, the 3d Iowa, the 41st Illinois and a section of artillery were sent to look after them. We marched at six o'clock. Colonel Trumbull stood before his tent as we started. The tears came into the gallant Colonel's eyes as he looked at the boys for the last time. We were delayed for some reason near General McKean's head quarters, and did not leave the town till eight o'clock. Marching leisurely, and halting for a short rest, at a small stream seven miles out, we reached Somerville at one o'clock. The guerrillas were of course gone. After resting till half past two, we began the return march. Our regiment, [343]which had hitherto been in the rear, was now in advance. The column at once assumed a brisk gait. Soon after, a courier arrived with a dispatch from Gen. McKean to hasten back, as a general movement was on foot. The speed of the march was now accelerated, so as to keep the artillery horses much of the time at a trot. The officers must have known that it was impossible for the men to march at so unreasonable a gait; to keep in the ranks was out of the question. Many fell behind and some sank exhausted by the way. It was after dark when we reached the creek where we had rested in the forenoon. Here about two hundred, including the stragglers that came up, remained and passed the night without an officer or a picket posted. It was perhaps well that the enemy did not know their situation. When we reached the pickets, many more fell out of the ranks and remained around their fires. Only about twenty men and two officers reached camp with their colors—a fitting eulogium on fast marching. Nearly all, however, were present at morning roll-call, thus showing that they did not leave the ranks from a disposition not to acquit themselves in the most creditable manner. This extraordinary march of thirty-two miles in twelve hours called forth a complimentary order from General McKean.

Meanwhile, Capt. Brown, whose resignation had been accepted at Bolivar, returned as major, and assumed command of the regiment, Col. Williams still being sick. The captain had been promoted while home, at the request of a majority of the officers of the regiment. His appointment gave very general satisfaction among the men.


General Grant returned from Columbus, whither he had been to consult with Gen. Sherman. He reviewed the troops by brigades, and caused orders to be issued for the animals to be shod and subsistence drawn for an immediate march. The enemy was in force and fortified at Abbeville, south of Holly Springs, on the Tallahatchie. General Sherman marched from Memphis on the 26th of November, taking direction to the right of his position. Orders came on the 27th for us to march in the morning at 6 o'clock, taking all our baggage, three days rations in haversacks, and two in wagons. On account of the limited transportation, we would have to carry our knapsacks, now containing our winter's supply of clothing, and very heavy. On this account we promised ourselves anything but an easy march.



The army in motion to the south—Character and scenes of the first day's march—A picture of the old soldier in bivouac, and a glance at his domestic arrangements—The march of Nov. 29.—Bivouac at Holly Springs—Marching through the city—An earthquake—The cavalry division and the enemy's rear guard—Cannonading—Camp at Lumkin's Mills—A storm—Movement of Sherman, retreat of the enemy and advance of troops—Our division left behind—Things to the front—We advance—Rebel works on the Tallahatchie—Scenes and scenery of the day's march—Camp at Hurricane Creek—Oxford—Join the main army at Yockona Creek—The 33d Wisconsin—The situation and movements—Raid of Van Dorn—Movements to open the communications.

Reveille sounded at 4 o'clock. We cooked breakfast, packed knapsacks and haversacks, filled canteens, loaded wagons and fell into line. Major Brown was in the saddle. It was cheering to the members of Company F, to see their former esteemed Captain at the head of the regiment. The field music struck up the old familiar marching tune, "The Girl I left behind me," and the regiment marched out and took its position in the column on the bluffs of the river. Here we waited for the 2d and 3d Brigades to pass, watching in the meantime their column of dark infantry mixed with white covered wagons, as it extended to the south. It was a grand spectacle to see the right wing of the army stretching over those broad and open fields further[346] into the land of the enemy. And when each soldier thought, "I am a part of this grand movement; little as I am, I am helping to make history," he felt an exultation known only to men in the hour of great enterprises or of great success.

The left wing was also in motion on the road south from Grand Junction. Where that road unites with the one on which we were marching, six miles south of Wolf River, the right wing halted, and the left wing assumed the advance.

The roads were most favorable for marching, but the sky was overcast with leaden clouds, and the wind blew cold and raw from the northwest. During the frequent halts occasioned by the great length of the trains, the men would tear down the fences and build fires, around which to warm themselves. So frequent were the halts, and so great the length of the column, that before night the way was almost a continuous line of fire. These fires extended through the dry leaves and stubble, and communicated themselves to the fences, till at length we seemed to be marching through a perpetual bonfire. The sun went down, and darkness began to gather around, when, all at once through a sudden rift in the gloomy clouds, the red twilight broke gloriously, while to the east whither the wind was blowing, the flames of burning fences, fields and buildings, lit up the sky, which glared vengefully upon us as we marched along. It was a scene worthy a poet or painter. It was the splendor of desolation. A vast invading army marching through a blaze of the ruin it had made! Whether it were intentional or accidental, we could not but[347] deplore such a destruction of property. We knew that the world would consider such doings intentional, and that they would be a lasting stigma upon our name. There were some among us that rejoiced at it; but many shuddered instinctively at seeing ourselves re-enacting the deeds which have made the name of vandal the execration of all ages.

The advance infantry camped for the night at Cold Water. But our division, though it marched two hours after night, camped near the familiar brick church south of Lamar. Here there was no water for the animals, and scarcely enough for the men. The wagons parked as they traveled, by brigades. On account of the weight of our knapsacks, the slowness of the march, and the frequent halts, we were excessively fatigued, and when the order was given to file to the right, we had scarcely patience enough left to go through the remaining movement of halt!—close up—front! center dress! front! fix-bayonets! shoulder-arms! stack-arms! break ranks—march!

And here a stranger could have observed in all its reality the habits of the old soldier on the march. His knapsack is packed, not according to regulations, but to suit his own convenience. His haversack contains three days rations of bread, sugar and coffee, and a sure supply of salt. For his meat he trusts chiefly to fortune and to the enemy's pig-pens and henroosts. Outside his haversack hangs all that is left of some merry oyster supper,—a small tin can with a wire bail—his coffee pot. His canteen is never empty when water can be procured, unless it contains something sweeter or[348] stronger than water. When the regiment halts for the night and breaks ranks, his first purpose is to explore the near neighborhood, and espy and seize whatever he can of fresh meat, which having brought in, he divides liberally among his comrades, after reserving the best piece to himself. He then proceeds to improvise a fire, if his comrades have not a place for him by the side of theirs. And here let me say to all uninitiated soldiers, that whatever may be said in favor of green hickory, or dry oak tops, experience has taught me that well-seasoned rails make decidedly the best camp-fire in Secession Land. When he has built his fire, by chance he draws his gun from the stack, and brings his knapsack close to the welcome blaze, and sits down upon it, with his canteen, haversack and cartridge-box at hand. He fills his "coffee kettle" and puts it on the coals. He cuts a piece of meat, salts it, sticks his ramrod into it, and commences broiling it in the blaze. And then, should the Orderly Sergeant be heard calling him to go on guard or fatigue,—well, no one will blame me for not rehearsing word for word the strict manner in which he complains of the Fates. If he is so fortunate as to escape this, when his supper is over (relished no where so well), he gathers a heap of dry leaves, or it may be, breaks a bundle of broom sedge, upon which he spreads his blankets, and soon, his feet to the fire and his head in the land of cool air and pleasant dreams, till the morning drum or the night alarm, he is oblivious to the weary world.

Ranging among the fires, the stranger will perceive that the manner of this soldier varies greatly among[349] the others. Some, like him, find it good to be alone. Others, like geese, choose their mates and go in pairs. Others, gregarious, go in herds of six or eight. These variations in the size of families, cause as many modifications in the mode of life, which in all cases has reference to the general principle of acquiring the most comfort with the least possible labor.

November 29. We were aroused early, and were ready to move at daylight. But we were to be rear guard to-day, and had to wait for other troops to move out. The sun rose. Weary and stiff, we slung knapsacks and moved into the road. Slowly and with much halting the trains took the road, and by eight o'clock the column was again in motion. The roads were dusty, and the halts were more frequent and annoying than yesterday.

At 2 P. M., we reached Cold Water, where the left wing camped last night. Here we halted to rest and water our animals, and it was after dark when the march was resumed, and we did not reach Holly Springs till 11 P. M. Here we halted for the night. We built fires of the garden fences, and made our beds of forage taken from the barns of the citizens. Who could blame us? When the alternative was a cheerless night with no supper but that in our haversacks, and a bed upon the damp ground, what soldier would have done less?

And now, once more, those of the dwellers of this beautiful city who had not fled with their retiring army, saw on all sides the camp fires of "the Invader," and heard upon their sidewalks the tread of "Vandal" sentinels.


November 30—Sunday. The drums woke us at four o'clock, and though our short sleep had illy sufficed to refresh us, the admonitions of our officers, that we were soon to march, forbade any further attempt at repose. At daylight, the 3d Iowa leading the Division, we marched through the principal street of the city, with our files neatly dressed, to the sound of martial music. Vain parade! There were no citizens to witness it—none to admire it. If we had a terror for our enemy, we had inspired it in the confusion of battle, not by keeping step on review to sounds of fife and drum.

The day was cloudy, and the wind blew soft and damp from the south. For a while we moved rapidly; but soon subsided into a more reasonable gait. In the forenoon, while taking a short rest, we experienced a perceptible shock of an earthquake, which was also felt at Cairo and St. Louis. Reports frequently came that the cavalry division under Colonel Dickey, were skirmishing with the enemy's rear guard, and that he had captured two cannon.

As we approached Lumkin's Mills, a sudden burst of artillery saluted our ears. The sound put Colonel Pugh in ecstacies; and looking around, he called out in his peculiar tone of voice, "Boys, d' ye hear that?" The discharges were frequent and the deep valleys prolonged the sounds into deep echoes such as we had never heard before. It was the cavalry division engaging the enemy's nearest troops north of the Tallahatchie. This firing lasted nearly two hours, and not knowing the cause of it, we took it to be the beginning of a general engagement. We had been the rearmost[351] division in the march; and coming up with the troops of the other divisions, we found them camped on a high, commanding ridge which rises along the north bank of the stream which turns Lumkin's Mills, and overlooks a more level tract southward toward the Tallahatchie. We camped in advance of them, the 1st Brigade on the plain in the extreme advance.

The cannonade died away with the daylight; and soon after the artillery of Heaven in louder and longer echoes began to shake the hills. We hastily put up tents in expectation of a storm. It came sweeping from the west with loud crashings of thunder—a perfect tornado. Our tents fell before it, and the water ran in streams under our blankets. Many of us were compelled to seek warmth around our re-enkindled fires. And here, though the body suffered, the mind could not but feel exalted in the presence of such a grand commotion of the elements. The crashing thunder, the intense darkness, relieved only by the frequent lightnings and the camp fires of the army extending far and wide to the north, and the rushing wind, were in the highest degree sublime. In the morning God had shaken the earth; in the evening man had shaken the heavens, and now God was shaking both the heavens and the earth.

December 1st. The day was without rain, but the wind cold and raw, blew broken masses of clouds from the north. It was reported that Sherman with a strong column had crossed the Tallahatchie, nine miles below the enemy's works, flanked him and compelled him to retreat. That evening McArthur's division hastily[352] advanced, and during the entire following forenoon, the troops filed through our camps, advancing to the south. Our division and that now under command of Gen. Ross were left at this point; for what purpose, officers and men were alike unable to conjecture.

Trains were sent back to Lamar for rations, and the engineer troops were busy repairing the railroad southward from that point. General Sherman returned to Memphis to begin his expedition against Vicksburg, and General Grant, his column augmented by Denver's division of Sherman's troops, was pushing forward after the enemy. The details of his marches we knew only by report. The cavalry division pushed the enemy's rear guard with splendid results. Many prisoners passed to the rear, and we listened with thrilling interest to rehearsals of the gallant conduct of this portion of the army. The character of the cavalry, so much depreciated since the battle of Shiloh, now took a sudden rise in our estimation. In the romantic ideas of some of the young soldiers, "the man on the horse" came to be all in all. And many were frequently heard, regretting their misfortune in having enlisted in the infantry.

Meantime General McKean was relieved from active duty at his own request, and early on the morning of the 11th, started north with his staff. The division had received marching orders the night before, and the same morning at six o'clock we took up the march toward the south.

The weather was soft and delightful, and the roads all that could be desired. At ten o'clock we reached the[353] enemy's late advance works in front of the Tallahatchie. They consisted of a single line of rifle pits with embrasures at three points, sufficient each for a battery of light guns. They were by no means formidable, and the ground north of them was higher than that on which they were erected; but their field of fire was open and level, and they could not have been carried by direct assault without some loss. They were constructed to defend the bridge across the Tallahatchie. Beyond the river we came upon his main fort, its front and lateral faces angling with the river, and very nearly closing behind. It was a formidable work, its parapet thick and high, and its ditch wide and deep, with some interior arrangements which I did not comprehend, and rifle pits extending from its flanks, the whole buried in an impenetrable forest of bottom timber. So dense was this timber, that artillery could not have been brought to bear on them with success, and direct assault in the presence of the intervening river would have been out of the question.

As we marched through these works, we said among ourselves, "If the enemy could not hold such a place as this, where this side of Vicksburg will he make a stand? Our advance then will be a continued march of victory." Thus in exultation we pressed on.

Three miles south of the Tallahatchie we passed Abbeville, a small railroad station garrisoned by a few troops. We camped for the night on Hurricane Creek, a small stream six miles north of Oxford.

The country through which we passed south of the Tallahatchie was mountainous and picturesque. Sometimes[354] we would ascend high ranges of hills which would give us a wide view of the country; whence we could see other ranges lying blue and dim in the distance, and far to the right the deep and sleepy looking valley of the Tallahatchie. It afforded a delightful contrast to the monotonous woods, interrupted only by sparse plantations, which, on our previous marches in the South, had bounded to narrow distances the inquiring vision, and rose round us like a prison wall.

December 12th. We resumed the march early, and at nine o'clock passed through Oxford, a very pleasant looking little city, but bounded on all sides by the inevitable oak forest of these regions. It was chiefly noted as being the site of the University of Mississippi. This building, built of brick, in the western environs of the city, rose in stately relief against the dark woods and above the meaner edifices surrounding it, and was one of the few objects that commanded our united respect, even in a land of traitors.

A march of twelve miles further, accomplished with much fatigue and straggling, brought us in sight of the main army camped along Yockona Creek. Here General Lauman was waiting to assume command of the division. His return was greeted throughout our regiment with great joy. That night we enjoyed the luxury of a drizzling Southern rain, and the next morning we put up tents and laid out our camp in regular order. The 103d Illinois had been left behind at Waterford, and now the 33d Wisconsin was attached to the 1st Brigade to supply its place. This regiment had advanced with Sherman's column from Memphis, and then countermarched[355] to Waterford, and then again advanced to join the main army: in consequence of which, their supply of rations was either so much exhausted or wasted, that they were reduced to three-fourths of the regular allowance. In addition to this, the vigilance and energy of the provost marshal had rendered it impossible for inexperienced soldiers to draw many supplies from the country. In this situation their complaints, as might have been expected from young soldiers, were boisterous and perhaps unreasonable. Indeed, they seemed to us to act very foolishly. They abused without restraint their quartermaster and other officers, and accused them of stealing their rations. They would besiege their colonel's tent in great crowds, clamoring for rations. All day, with scarcely an interruption, the cry of "crackers!" rang from their camp; and long before reveille, of mornings, the woods would echo to the cry of "crackers! crackers!" And in the middle of the night, if they said aught, talking in their sleep, it would be to repeat that inevitable and all-meaning word, crackers. Now we pitied them; and as far as we were able, shared our rations with them. But we could not but be amused at the vehement manner in which they expressed their impatience; for it called to mind ludicrous recollections of the days when we were young soldiers ourselves.

The army rested in this position, and waited the opening of railroad communications from Holly Springs. In a week the cars were running from Yockona Station. The cavalry division had sustained its first defeat near Coffeeville—a severe repulse at the hands of the enemy's[356] infantry and artillery. This seemed to indicate his intention to dispute the occupation of Grenada, where he was said to be strongly fortified. But this result might have been anticipated by the cavalry, when, already beyond the reach of support from the infantry, they had pushed on against a vigilant and skillful enemy. He had taken advantage of their temerity and punished it severely; but, to the army in general, the affair was not of a serious character.

But the enemy's cavalry under Van Dorn, late their commanding general in Mississippi, was preparing a blow for our campaign, and it fell suddenly where it was least expected. Most of the cavalry division was recalled from the front, and part of it under Colonel Dickey was sent east, to make a raid on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, while the other part under Colonel Lee proceeded north to protect the communications from the designs of Forrest, who was moving on our railroad lines in Tennessee. About noon of the 19th, the Ohio Brigade of Ross' division, camped two miles south of Oxford, moved on the cars toward the north, passed through Holly Springs that evening, and arrived at Bolivar some time in the night. The same day Colonel Dickey, on his return, crossed the trail of Van Dorn, who was then moving to the north on his raid, and apprised General Grant of his movements, but too late to enable him to take measures to check them.

On the 20th, intimations that Van Dorn had captured Holly Springs came to the troops, first in the shape of vague rumors, and then of more definite reports. Immediate dispositions were made to meet the new danger.[357] McArthur's division was sent to the north to open up the communications. The same night, orders came to the 4th Division to be ready to march at an early hour. The noise of preparation was kept up far into the night. In the midst of this, across the valley to the north of our regiment, we heard a tumult which sounded like a thousand watch-dogs, joining all hideously in their midnight orgies. It was a row between the 14th and 15th Illinois regiments on one side, and the 16th Illinois on the other. I believe it was confined entirely to words.

At six o'clock in the morning the division moved, and, passing to the east, crossed the railroad at Yockona Station, and, after proceeding about four miles, camped on the ground just abandoned by McArthur's division. We laid out camps in the regular manner, got up tents, and in the evening our regiment had dress parade, at which was read an order from General McPherson that the troops of the right wing would be put on three-quarter rations. Towards night marching orders came to the artillery, and late in the night orders came to the infantry to be ready to march early in the morning.



Retreat of the army—Commendable spirit of the troops—Hurricane Creek—Our division left here to cover the retreat—March to the Tallahatchie—Ridiculous rumors—Christmas—We go into camp—Return of Dickey's raid—Our condition as to supplies—The New Year—Good News—March to Holly Springs—Announcement of the capture of Vicksburg—It is contradicted—We go into camp—March of Denver's division—Our situation—Burning of Holly Springs—March again to the north—Bivouac at Cold Water—Brooding and speculating over the result of the campaign—Arrival at Moscow.

Reveille beat at 3½ o'clock, and at sunrise we turned our faces to the north and our backs upon all our dreams of conquest and glory. We began to retreat. The rubbish of our camps was on fire, and the mill which had been impressed to grind corn for us, wrapt in flames, sent a column of dense smoke into the air. The 41st Illinois was detailed to tear up the railroad. We looked upon all this with blank astonishment. But it was no fiction; the campaign was abandoned; the whole army was in retreat! We were bewildered. But out of this disappointment we endeavored to kindle a glow of hope; and out of this failure, we endeavored to persuade ourselves that victory would yet come. All felt the event keenly, and it could not be expected that there would be no murmurings. But the army of the Tennessee[359] was too patriotic in spirit and too brave in heart to be demoralized at this. Each soldier endeavored to put on a cheerful air, and each sought for hope in the countenances and conversation of his comrades. I will not endeavor to recount the reasonings and conjectures with which we endeavored to justify and excuse the retreat; nor the manner in which others more despondent complained of it. Many, however, seemed to think that we could have taken Grenada and maintained ourselves there, subsisting on the country, until communication by railroad could have been opened with Memphis.

Passing through Oxford, we camped on Hurricane Creek where we had camped on the night of the 11th. The 41st came up before dark and reported that they had performed their job quite to their own satisfaction. We believed them. All night the cars plied rapidly between Oxford and Abbeville removing cotton and Government stores. A bright light shone over the city during the entire night, and we judged that the troops remaining there were setting fire to portions of it, but never received any direct confirmation of our conjectures.

In the morning, our trains were sent forward under a strong guard, and during the forenoon, Quimby's Division filed past us. Thus the 4th Division was left to cover and protect the retreat. Orders were had for the men to remain by their colors in readiness for anything that might occur. To prevent straggling Major Brown ordered roll-call in our regiment every two hours, the results to be reported in writing to him. We[360] remained here another night, and heard the frequent noise and whistle of the cars—sounds which seemed more in keeping with a time of peace than of war.

Next morning, the drums beat early, and we received orders to prepare for action or a march at a moment's notice. We had been exposed all night to the luxury of a drizzling rain, which still continued, and made the prospect of the day anything but agreeable. At eight o'clock we slung knapsacks and fell in, but were kept standing in ranks till afternoon before commencing the march.

Late in the afternoon we passed Abbeville, and there saw a small garrison protecting the depot inside of a redoubt of cotton bales. It looked decidedly aristocratic. Dirt breastworks would not do. It was too cheap. They must have it made out of something worth fifty cents a pound. Well, luxuries among soldiers are so rare, who could envy them that? We camped a short distance from the enemy's rifle pits north of the Tallahatchie.

Here coming up with our comrades of the train, we found they had balm for our wounded spirits in the shape of prodigious camp reports of victories at all points. Burnside had not only defeated the enemy on the Rappahannock and taken Richmond—Sherman had not only taken Vicksburg and Banks Port Hudson, but peace was actually declared! There were men in the 27th Iowa and 33d Wisconsin that would bet their bounties on it. Of course we did not believe these reports to their full extent, but, we thought there might be something in them, and the thought encouraged us greatly.


The following day was Christmas. We ate our ¾ rations and celebrated it soberly and seriously. Our example would have been an excellent one to those Christians, who, under more favorable circumstances, celebrate the birth of Christ by stimulating their animal propensities with rich meat and strong wine. We fasted somewhat; and if yearning is prayer, we prayed—prayed for deliverance from our gloomy situation, and to be put on a new road of victory.

We changed camp two miles to the northeast, and camped in line on the extreme left of the army, looking to the south. We sent out a forage train which came in abundantly loaded.

The cavalry brigade which had been sent to make a raid on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, returned, successful, having torn up several miles of track, burned a warehouse of rebel stores, and made large captures of horses. Indeed every soldier of the 4th Illinois Cavalry seemed to have brought with him at least two horses and one contraband. The news of this little success, however unimportant, did something toward mitigating our gloom.

Meanwhile our provisions, "like the lingering sands of an hour glass," were fast running out. To prolong, if possible, the expected period of final starvation, Gen. McPherson issued another order reducing us to half rations. Lumkin's mills, six miles to the north, were put to grinding corn for our division; but the supply of meal thus obtained fell far short of furnishing us with bread-stuff, but we found an excellent substitute in hulled corn and in black peas which abounded in the[362] corn-fields adjacent to our camp. We had also a corral which was supplied with beef (?) cattle, picked up in the surrounding country. And such cattle! Some were so poor as to be almost transparent. The boys actually averred that the butchers had to prop up one or two old oxen to shoot them! Our forage trains penetrated the country in all directions to find subsistence for the animals; in one instance going twenty-two miles from camp, and being gone two days. Thus the sweets of the enemy's success at Holly Springs was embittered to the whole country for many miles around, our army being put under tribute to supply its wants. And it must be confessed that notwithstanding the vigilance of the provost marshal who was now getting to be a most unpopular individual, the people suffered more from unauthorized seizures by soldiers who accompanied forage trains, or who, impelled by hunger, scouted the vicinity of the camps in bands, than in any legitimate way.

In the midst of this, we had our full rations of parades, inspections and reviews, and we more than once wondered if the generals were on half rations like the men. I do not believe they were.

The new year came; but it brought no rejoicings, no feastings, no comforts, no news from home. There was nothing to alleviate the general despondency, if we except an order from General McPherson announcing General Sullivan's victory at Parker's Cross Roads over Forest who had been destroying our railroad communications north of Jackson; also, that he had received a telegram from General Grant at Holly Springs, announcing[363] a sharp fight near Nashville, with Johnson badly cut up and falling back. The order closed with the words, "Bully for New Years, with the compliments of General McPherson."

So far the winter had been mild. We had had but little snow. We had had none of those cold winds which, at this season of the year, sweep over our northern prairies. The ground had not been frozen so deep but that a half day's sun sufficed to thaw it out. We had had spells of very warm weather, warm as September in the North, followed by the inevitable soaking rains of the South. And yet, if we except the traveled roads and level bottoms, the ground had not been muddy. The clay hills seemed impervious to water, which, flowing from them, cut immense ditches down which great quantities of soil are yearly washed away. But it was a question whether this waste of soil was much of a loss to the fields; for on the surface the soil seemed to be of the same consistence it was six feet below. They are compelled to plow around these hills and circle them with ditches to prevent this wasteful washing. If the climate were not favorable to the production of cotton, it was the universal verdict of my comrades that they would not give a dollar an acre for the uplands of northern Mississippi. But it is not surprising that we should be unfavorably impressed with a country that afforded us such meager hospitalities.

Our picket duty was quite heavy. The details were made by regiments. For instance, on a given day the 3d Iowa would be required to furnish 300 men, embracing a specified proportion of officers and non-commissioned[364] officers. Other regiments would furnish a similar number, and so the detail would go round the division.

On the 3d of January we received a meager mail from home, and the following day papers arrived announcing for the first time that General Burnside had been defeated at Fredericksburg. We also learned to our mortification that Vicksburg was not taken. But this news had a transient compensation in reports, coming from no one knows what source, that Burnside had again crossed the Rappahannock and gained a great victory, and that Sherman was only waiting the arrival of Banks, when Vicksburg would certainly fall. At any rate we were always in luck or about to be. But what was still more agreeable was the arrival of a day's full rations, and news that our railroad communications were open to Memphis by way of LaGrange.

On the 5th of January, our division broke up camp on the Tallahatchie, and again took up the northward march. When the column had formed on the main road, General Lauman rode along and the boys of our regiment cheered him lustily. The country through which we passed, particularly in the vicinity of Waterford and Lumkin's Mills was putrid with the offal of slaughtered animals and the debris of deserted camps. The animals in our beef corral were driven along with us. They were the most motley looking herd we ever beheld; oxen that could not make a shadow; cows of the most lilliputian dimensions; embryo calves (for indeed they seemed intended for calves); and sheep that would not make a meal for a rat terrier. These, we were told[365] were a fair specimen of Mississippi cattle! The herd would have made a menagerie worth a northern man's fifty cents in the hardest times.

Before we reached Holly Springs, Gen. McPherson received a dispatch from General Grant stating that Sherman had captured Vicksburg with 20,000 prisoners. The report was circulated along the column and caused great rejoicing. Reaching Holly Springs we found conflicting reports among the troops; and though the latest dispatches did not warrant the belief that Vicksburg was taken, we clung to the pleasant delusion, and for a long time would not believe that Sherman had been defeated.

We found Denver's Division here. The 109th Illinois was also here, and, with the exception of Company K, was in confinement for mutiny. The case of these traitors has become a matter of history. As regiment after regiment of the division passed their guard house, the boys growled and hooted at them in the most decisive manner.

We camped on the beautiful level ground north of the city. Gen. Grant still had his head quarters at Holly Springs, and our regiment furnished his head quarter guard.

At two o'clock the following morning, reveille began to beat in the camps of Denver's Division, and we knew they were preparing to march. No sooner had they evacuated their camps than our boys rushed to them, bearing away tables, bunks, boards, everything that could assist in furnishing our tents, or making them more comfortable.


All the troops except the 4th Division were withdrawn to the line of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. Our division was left to cover the evacuation of the country and protect the removal of property. The 1st and 2d brigades occupying Holly Springs; the 3d yet remaining at Lumkin's Mills. On the 7th, a guard was sent to the latter place to bring forward a wagon train. It returned without molestation. The next day, the 3d Brigade joined us, which was quite a relief, as hitherto our picket duty had been very heavy. The cars were busy night and day removing stores, cotton, and negro women and children. The same day, January 8th, the cavalry, which had been watching the front, moved to the rear, and all felt confident the infantry and artillery would go the next day. And now we were to witness a tragedy which reflects infamy upon its perpetrators, and a dishonor upon the 4th Division.

Under the belief that we would move in the morning, a number of soldiers of the different regiments met and concerted a scheme for firing the city. Shortly after dark, the flames broke out in its eastern limits, and did not spread, but soon rose in another quarter. We saw it from our camp with little amazement; for we could not but expect that there would be found some reckless enough to undertake to execute the threats of vengeance made by exasperated soldiers against the citizens, on account of their conduct towards our prisoners captured by Van Dorn in his raid. The provost guards in some instances did their duty, arresting the incendiaries; but generally they connived at their operations. The flames spread and broke out in new directions. Two additional[367] regiments were ordered on duty as provost guards. Generals McPherson and Lauman rode through the city with their escorts and endeavored to arrest the work of barbarism. But their efforts were unavailing. Men, seizing their guns and accoutrements, ran into the city from all the camps, and filled the streets with bogus guards, whose purpose was to counteract the operations of the real ones. By 9 o'clock the confusion was at its hight—hideous and indescribable. The fiendish yells of the assassins and their accomplices, the shrieks of women and children, the shouts of the swaying crowds, applauding or rebuking, the commands of officers, the rushing sounds of the devouring flames, and the crash of falling timbers, mingled all their noises together. Citizens assisted by soldiers vainly endeavored to arrest the flames. The rich and the poor; the friendly and the unfriendly were served alike. The most stately residences and the meanest hovels were alike consumed. Not even the negro quarters were spared. To whatever could make a blaze, the incendiaries applied the torch. In the midst of it all, but few collisions took place, and but one casualty was reported, the wounding of a member of the 41st Illinois by a provost guard.

From our camp, the spectacle was grand in the extreme. The flames illuminated the heavens far around, and sent up huge columns of red smoke, which, driven by the south wind, rolled over our heads in clouds reflecting the yellow light and shutting out the dark storm clouds above. We saw from our camp the splendid sight; but we did not hear the cries of the helpless around the flames and over the ashes of their once happy homes.


The conflagration raged unabated till midnight, when the long roll beat in all the camps. The men sprang from their sleep, gathered their arms and accoutrements and fell in line. Presently an orderly came along with an order for roll-call to be had in each company, and the absentees noted and reported to head quarters. It is due to the good name of our regiment, to say that but two men were found absent at this time. Indeed, it would be an unusual thing, when camped in the vicinity of a large city, for a sudden midnight roll-call to find all the men in their quarters.

Comrades, I have pictured this scene as we saw and heard it. If it was right for soldiers to behave thus, let no one be ashamed that those who did so belonged to the 4th Division. If it was wrong, as the guilty ones are unknown, the disgrace falls upon us in common. That many justified it who did not participate in it, can not be denied. It is equally true, that many denounced it.

Let us give both sides a fair hearing. Those who justified it said, that when the place was captured on the 20th by Van Dorn, the women insulted our comrades who had surrendered, firing pistols and throwing bricks at them. There was not a Union man in the city. It had been in the past, and if not destroyed, would be in the future, a rendezvous for the enemy. Every family would give him aid; every roof would give him comfort. We had tried the kid glove policy and it had failed. Our enemies were traitors to a Government, the noblest in the world, and which had never wronged them. They were neither legitimate nor[369] honorable enemies. We must teach them that we looked upon their treason as a crime. Had we left our homes and all the comforts of life, and come here to guard rebel property? If the contrary policy were adopted, the rebels would soon yield. They would not endure to see their property destroyed and their families brought to distress. Desertion would soon disorganize their armies, and leave us no more fighting to do.

On the other hand, it was said the war should be conducted honorably and according to the rules of warfare among civilized nations. War had its reciprocal justice; and we should not do to our enemies what we would not expect them to do to us, under like circumstances. The enemy was a traitor; that was true; but he was also a formidable power; and if we were to carry on the war with violence and outrage, he could and would retaliate. Until we had shown ourselves able to destroy the rebel hosts in the field, we should not direct our warfare against the women and children. All the advantages we had gained over the enemy had been gained by bravery in battle; not by cruelty elsewhere. Violence was not vigor. Energy in prosecuting the war, did not imply cruelty toward those whom its fortunes had placed in our hands. Let us march against the enemy's armies; defeat, pursue and destroy them. Then would the world applaud our valor. And, if we protected the unarmed, the helpless and innocent, it would applaud our magnanimity. If the contrary policy were adopted,—if we burned down over their heads the homes of women and children; if we left them shelterless in mid-winter and without food;—if we thus turned[370] a deaf ear to the common appeals of humanity, what sympathy could we expect from civilized nations? How, under such circumstances, could we expect neutrality from them, to say nothing of friendship? It would exasperate our enemies in arms to new vigor as well as to new cruelty; it would cause non-combatants to take up arms, and bring against us foreign powers. Thus would we be overwhelmed with our own wickedness and folly.

But, more than this, respect for our duties as soldiers,—respect for the oath we had taken, should restrain us from violating the positive and repeated orders of our commanding generals. If the Government chose to inaugurate the policy of burning and laying waste, and we were commanded to execute it, we would obey; the responsibility would not be ours. We had enlisted, not to be the Government, but to serve it; and until we were commanded to commit such acts, our moral instincts should teach us to refrain from committing them. That our generals had been compelled to issue orders admonishing us against such conduct, was itself a humiliation. Every soldier in our ranks should understand the dignity of his mission, and feel that the cause of civilization needs not the weapons of barbarism for its defense.

When the morning came the conflagration had not ceased; but, from hour, to hour the flames continued to break out in different places in the suburbs of the city. At 10 A. M., we received orders to prepare to march immediately. Our wagons were soon loaded and sent forward, and the troops were called into line. But[371] trains of cars continued to arrive and depart, loaded to their utmost capacity with negro women and children. Still we were kept in line, doubtless with the object of preventing a further destruction of the city. It was not till eight o'clock at night that we began to move. The roads were slippery and deep with mud. There was no moon in the early part of the night, and our only light was the conflagration, still raging behind us, and the blaze of burning fences and buildings on either hand. It was nearly midnight, when we reached Cold Water, and halted for rest and sleep.

Early in the morning, we took up the march on the Moscow road. We passed a camp of cavalry north of the stream as we crossed it,—all that now remained of the invading army fronting the enemy in Mississippi. And here we could not help but contrast our present feelings with those with which we had entered upon the campaign. Then in Virginia, in Middle Tennessee, and with us in Mississippi,—everywhere victory seemed preparing. Now, looking around us, we saw how our dream of victory and peace had vanished. Defeated at Fredericksburg; repulsed at Vicksburg; a hard earned, fruitless victory at Murfreesborough,—checked everywhere except in Mississippi, and here we had retreated.

But when we began to look at the chief difficulties of the campaign,—that of keeping open two to three hundred miles of railroad communication in the face of a bold and enterprising enemy, it was not so much a surprise to us that it had proved a failure, as that it had been undertaken at all. Our only source of hope[372] now was, that Grant would undertake the capture of Vicksburg by the more practicable route of the Mississippi.

The road was well beaten by previous columns of troops, and a vigorous march brought us to Wolf River, where we passed the night. In the morning we crossed the river and went into camp around Moscow, relieving a part of Logan's division.



Reorganization of Grant's army—How our division was posted—Descent of guerrillas upon our forage train—We march to Memphis and go into camp—A glance at the officers of our regiment—General Lauman's regimental drills—Review of the Fourth Division—Colonel Bryant's movement against Chalmers—Our division ordered to Vicksburg—Parting with my comrades—Their journey down the river and affair with the guerrillas near Greenville—Arrival at Young's Point—Their view of Porter and Steele engaging the enemy—Proceed up the Yazoo and occupy Haines' Bluff—The captures—Blowing up the magazines—The 22d of May—They move to take position in the investing lines—Their position and operations south of the city—Their subsequent position and operations.

The troops, lately constituting the 13th Army Corps, were re-organized into four corps, the 13th, 15th, 16th and 17th, commanded respectively by Major Generals McClernand, Sherman, Hurlbut and McPherson. The Fourth Division, at first attached to the 17th, was soon transferred to the 16th Corps, and thus it was again under its old commander. It was distributed in detachments of different sizes along the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, from Moscow on the east, to Colliersville on the west. General Lauman had his headquarters at the former place. For a short period, during his temporary absence, Colonel Pugh was in command of the[374] division, and Colonel Moore, of the 33d Wisconsin, in command of the 1st Brigade.

The eight weeks our regiment passed at Moscow, transpired without any occurrence of importance. The line of railroad guarded in part by our division ran parallel to the enemy's late front of operations; but the winter rains soon put the roads in an execrable condition, and besides, he was too much attracted in the direction of Vicksburg by Grant, who, with McPherson's corps, had gone thither to join McClernand and Sherman, and renew in person operations for the reduction of that stronghold, to make any demonstrations against us. But we were not without the usual number of rumors and reports of the enemy's approach, and of actual alarms by night and day. I have described similar occurrences so often, that it would be superfluous to mention them here.

One little occurrence, however, as it was the first of the kind that has ever happened to our regiment, must not be passed over. We still supplied our animals with forage from the country, and for this purpose were accustomed to send out expeditions in all directions, frequently ten or twelve miles, and with great boldness. On one occasion, a brigade train was out with an escort commanded by Major Long, of the 41st Illinois. They were returning with loaded wagons, a part of the guard with the Major marching in lead of the train, while the remainder, under Lieut. Hall, of the 3d Iowa, brought up the rear. Some of the wagons got stuck in the mud, and the rear guard, halting to help them out, was left about half a mile behind the main portion of the train,[375] when, about two miles from the picket lines, a band of Richardson's guerrillas dashed down a narrow lane into the main road, and with fiendish yells attacked the center of the train, and before the rear guard could get up, succeeded in getting away about fifty mules and a dozen teamsters. They shot and mortally wounded one teamster, who refused to unhitch his mules. The rear guard fired several volleys at them with but little effect. The guerrillas traveled through fields, woods, and over by-roads to their place of rendezvous somewhere to the north. Here they paroled the boys, who found their way to Fort Pillow, and thence back again to Moscow.

On the 11th of March, we were relieved at Moscow by a part of Denver's division, and took up the march toward Memphis. We bivouacked the first night at Colliersville. Before we could get up our tents, it began to rain heavily and continued with little intermission till morning. We had to lay exposed to it all the while, with whatever patience we could summon for the occasion. When the morning broke, an abundance of dry rails afforded fires, from which we derived a little comfort, until, at 9 o'clock, the march was resumed.

Soon after starting, it again began to rain, and continued, till nearly night, cold and heavy from the northwest. With great fatigue and immense straggling we reached White's Station, where, in the deep, soft mud, we passed a night, cold, dreary and comfortless enough.

The next day was cool and pleasant. Starting late, we reached Memphis in the afternoon, and[376] went into camp on the western environs of the city.

Two more months of monotonous camp-life. Major Brown had been promoted Colonel, at Moscow; and now, at the almost unanimous request of the officers of the regiment, Captain James Tullis, of Company H, a very brave soldier and proper man, who had been twice wounded in battle, was appointed Lieut. Colonel, and 1st Lieut. George W. Crosley, whose gallant conduct at Blue Mills and Shiloh, I have already mentioned, was appointed Major. These appointments gave very general satisfaction. The line officers of our regiment were now for the most part men who had served in the ranks, and who were faithful to their duties, and loved and respected by their men; and what was more, they had been tried in the ordeal of battle, and had not been found wanting. Compared with many regiments in the field, our's was exceedingly fortunate in this respect.

General Lauman instituted a regulation that two regiments of the division should meet each evening on the green, in front of his headquarters, for drill. This excited a spirit of rivalry among some of the regiments, which, between the 41st Illinois, of Colonel Pugh's brigade, and the 14th Illinois, of Colonel Hall's brigade, increased to great bitterness. These regiments drilled twice against each other, the second time in pursuance of a challenge from Lieut. Col. Carn of the 14th. The prize of this drill was a silver bugle, purchased jointly by the officers of both regiments. The judges could not be accused of partiality in their decision. As in the first trial the 41st had borne away the palm, so in[377] this it bore away the bugle. Both regiments went through the various movements in a manner which excited the highest admiration; and yet few of the spectators, who were strangers to both, would have awarded the prize differently. I confess that in this strife, and in the jealousy and bickerings which grew out of it, the sympathies of the men of our regiment were with the 41st. We had always belonged to the same brigade, had fought on the same field in the battle of Shiloh, had been side by side in prosperous and adverse circumstances, and now that we were camped close by each other, a singular attachment, which was universal throughout both regiments, had sprung up between us. General Lauman understood this, and our regiment never drilled against the 41st.

These drills with our regiment were productive of the most beneficial results. Captain Smith was, for a while our drill master, and a model one he was too. When Major Crosley received his appointment and returned from the brigade staff, he was assigned to this duty. For the first day or two he put us through the exercises with some difficulty; but he was too ambitious to allow us to suffer at his hands, and he soon became proficient in the tactics, and an excellent drill master.

Perhaps the most memorable event of this period was the review of the Fourth Division, by its old chief, General Hurlbut. The scene took place on the fair grounds northeast of the city. It was an occasion calculated to call up old memories. Hurlbut, Lauman and Veatch, three generals, under whom we had served through Shiloh, Corinth and Matamora, were there, and[378] there also, under the tattered banners they had borne through those storms, were the troops they had commanded so bravely and so well; generals and men between whom existed the strongest ties that can bind men together, recollections of mutual peril and the possession of a common glory. Here we again met the generals who had been so proud to command us, and whom we had been so happy and proud to follow. It seemed like a renewal of the past.

A large concourse of citizens and soldiers were present to witness it. The Memphis Bulletin thus described it:—

"Yesterday, at about ten o'clock in the morning, the division was drawn up by Brigadier General Lauman, preparatory to the review by General Hurlbut. We have seen these splendid reviews so graphically described by the "Knights of the quill," of the army of the Potomac, by General McClellan—when that army was in its prime,—but never did we look upon a body of men presenting a more soldierly appearance than did the Fourth Division yesterday. The old veterans who had passed through the fires of Pittsburg Landing, Corinth, Matamora, and other fields of action, who had scattered the armies under Van Dorn and Price, reminded us of the soldiers who fought in the Crimea.

As General Hurlbut rode along the line accompanied by his staff, we thought for the moment that our eyes never rested on a more captivating picture. It was a glorious sight. The review was what all anticipated it would be. Not a single manœuver was at fault.[379] From "shoulder arms," to the end of the review, all went smoothly, without a mistake. It is necessary to have educated officers to make good soldiers; and if any thing was wanting to convince the hundreds of ladies and gentlemen present at the review, of the falsity of the report, that the officers of the Fourth Division were not thoroughly qualified for the position they occupy, it is now entirely dispelled."

On the 17th of April, an expedition was sent into Mississippi against Chalmers, who held the rebel lines southeast of Memphis. It was commanded by Colonel Bryant, of the 12th Wisconsin, now in command of the 3d Brigade. While it was gone, the wildest rumors gained circulation in the city, and a thousand and one reports of fighting on the Cold Water, flew through our camps. But after a week it returned without having met any occurrence of importance.

Early in May, intimations came that we were ordered to Nicksburg, and these were followed by orders to be ready to move on the shortest notice. The 3d Brigade moved first; in a few days it was followed by the 2d, and on the 17th the 1st struck tents and prepared to embark.

And here end my personal recollections with the 3d Iowa. I was at this time detached from my regiment to remain at Memphis. It was with no ordinary feelings, on the morning of the 18th, on board of the Crescent City, I parted with my comrades. I had not supposed that I had become so attached to those men. And it was with strange feelings of regret that I stood on the bluffs of Fort Pickering, and gazed upon their[380] boat as it sped down the noble waters, like a bird that is flying away. And when it had disappeared, and I could see it no more, an indescribable vacancy seemed to surround me. Nothing looked familiar to me; I felt as though I were in a strange land. Separated from the men with whom for two years I had been associated in extraordinary circumstances; I left behind, and they gone to meet unknown hazards and to preserve their past career of glory. I expected never to join them again, and knew that I had shook hands with many of them for the last time. I must now turn to the strangers surrounding me, and among them form new associations and find new comrades.

If I have succeeded in making this book of interest to any reader, he will surely be unwilling to pardon me, if I do not go with my regiment briefly through the scenes which followed—its participation in what was the crowning glory to the army of the Tennessee, the siege and capture of Vicksburg, and where at Jackson my comrades fought for honor and without hope.

The transports conveying the 1st Brigade were convoyed by a gunboat of the musquito fleet. In the afternoon of the following day the gunboat had dropped behind and the Crescent City was in lead; while passing unconcernedly along near the foot of Island 65, a force of guerrillas opened upon it with two howitzers from a covert of young timber, throwing canister and shells. The first shots took effect, wounding thirteen men of the 3d Iowa, one of them mortally. To protect her machinery, the boat immediately refused her broadside and presented her stern. From this end of the boat,[381] the boys began to reply with musketry, when the gunboat coming up, the guerrillas fled. The gunboat opened fire upon them, and the troops landed. The 41st and 53d Illinois pursued them two or three miles without overtaking them. When they returned, the brigade moved down the shore three miles to the town of Greenwood, which they set fire to and burned—house and hovel, sparing not even the church.

At noon the next day they arrived at Young's Point, disembarked, and, after cooking their dinners on the shore, started to march across the peninsula. After proceeding half a mile, they were halted, and waited for orders till ten o'clock at night. During the afternoon the scene around was inexpressibly sublime. They could see the shells of Porter's fleet from below bursting over the city, and the enemy's river batteries replying. While on the bluff above it, they could discern, under a dense cloud of smoke, Steele's infantry and artillery hotly engaged, as well as the smoke which rose from the enemy's forts on his front. The gunboat, Choctaw, also dropped down, for some reason, to draw the enemy's fire. His guns opened upon her heavily, and, when she had reached a position about half a mile below the red flags which marked the enemy's furthest range, she halted and lay in the channel but did not reply. Her guns were not of sufficient range to reach his batteries. As soon as the enemy saw her object, he ceased firing. Some of his shots in their flight had crossed the river, the peninsula and the river again, and lodged above the city on the Mississippi shore. During the night the scene was still more sublime.[382] Signal rockets from the gunboats flashing against the sky, and the shells from the mortar fleet describing in their flight an immense curve of fire, making the noise of a distant wind storm, and bursting in fitful flashes over the doomed city. They could likewise see the flashes of Steele's artillery, and at times the flames leaping from the mouths of the enemy's responding cannon.

The brigade went aboard the boats in the night, and had all the baggage they were to take with them got aboard before midnight. The rest, comprising most of their tents and camp equipage, was left under a guard detailed for the purpose. That of the 3d Iowa was commanded by Lieut. Lakin.

At daylight their fleet moved into the mouth of the Yazoo where they found the Choctaw, which joined the musquito boat that had convoyed them from Memphis, and the two convoyed them to Haines' Bluff. The position was found to be evacuated, and Companies G and K of the 3d Iowa landed and occupied it. Here they found a rebel hospital, containing about 360 patients, who were paroled the following day. The brigade landed about a mile below to execute the purpose of the expedition, that of opening communication with Sherman. Meanwhile the crew of the Choctaw landed and commenced blowing up the enemy's numerous magazines and bursting the guns he had abandoned. Some of these magazines were filled with loaded shells, which were thrown into the air and exploded in all directions. In this way were destroyed an immense quantity of ordnance and ordnance stores, which might have been[383] made serviceable to General Grant in the subsequent operations of the siege. But it was expected that Johnson would move in this way to attack Grant in the rear, and it was deemed more prudent to destroy them than to run the risk of their falling into his hands.

Our boys found here plenty of tents and camp equipage abandoned by the enemy, and supplied themselves even better than they were before. Gen. Lauman immediately went back to Young's Point on a dispatch boat for orders, and soon after the brigade marched from where it lay to a position on the bluff, where the two companies were, and here spent the night.

The next day was the memorable 22d of May, on which Grant made his second assault on the enemy's works. They could hear the sounds of the battle—on the right the infantry engaging with a continuous war, and with it the quick jar of the batteries, and above all the thunders of Porter's fleet. Of the cause of all this they knew nothing; but conjectured the army was forcing its way into the beleaguered city. That day the Choctaw and musquito boats went up the Yazoo as far as Greenwood, but could not pass the batteries there. The same evening the brigade was relieved by a cavalry division under command of Major General Washburne.

Next morning it moved toward Vicksburg to take position in the investing lines. As they advanced they met many supply wagons on the way to the Yazoo, the teamsters giving dolorous accounts of yesterday's repulse, and saying frequently, in the most discouraging tones, "Boys, we can't take 'em; they're too well fortified." As they approached the lines of the army they[384] saw scattered through the woods many men who had been wounded in the previous day's fight; and many more in cotton sheds, crowded together on the soft cotton, as thick as they could be placed—men who had marched hither from Bruinsburg, without a change of clothing or a cooking utensil, dirty, ragged, and clotted with blood, lay under dense clouds of settling dust, raised by the troops and trains continually crowding past. It was a spectacle of wretchedness sufficient to appal common men. That night the 1st Brigade camped south of the Jackson Railroad, and about a mile and a half from Fort Hill, the rebel work which guarded the main entrance into the city. They were not allowed fires, and had to eat their raw bacon and hard crackers with the best relish they could.

On the 30th, they had out a strong force to protect their pioneer corps in constructing roads on which to bring up gabions to protect the rifle pits, to be constructed, from the enemy's flanking fire. That night their pickets advanced and drove those of the enemy from the hill they occupied. Here they dug their first line of rifle pits, a straight ditch, and in it inserted the gabions at intervals, with sufficient room for a single man to pass round them without getting out of the ditch. At daylight the enemy's artillery opened from What was known as the sand bag fort on the right, and speedily cleared the ditch of these obstructions, killing two men of the 41st Illinois. Of course this experiment was not again repeated.

That day our pickets protected themselves as well as they could. As soon as it was dark, Capt. Knight, of[385] the 3d Iowa, crawling between the two picket lines, ours and the enemy's, made a survey of the ground which enabled them next morning to commence digging zigzag rifle pits, by which they were enabled to advance their line steadily, under protection from the enemy's fire, front and flank. They did not extend these rifle pits through the valleys, but, on gaining the slope of a hill towards the enemy, would drive him from his rifle pits on the opposite hill by a night assault, and, occupying them, change the embankment to the other side, and commence anew their operations. They deviated from this rule in but one instance. Thus, until the final surrender, with frequent artillery duels and sharp engagements of the infantry; laboring and watching night and day; exposed constantly to an alternation of burning sun and chilling dew; amid a succession of scenes the most unreal; where romance itself palled on the sense and became monotonous; amid hardships which, under ordinary circumstances, few would have endured, they forced their steady progress toward the enemy.



SURRENDER OF VICKSBURG—Our division moves with Sherman's army against Johnson—DISASTROUS CHARGE OF COLONEL PUGH'S BRIGADE—The blame imputed to General Lauman—His parting orders—Our losses—Conclusion.

The first indication of the enemy's desire to capitulate, was a flag of truce which was seen to approach our lines from a point near Fort Hill. The firing immediately ceased at that point, and gradually died away to the right and left. The enemy's troops became more bold, and began to appear along their rifle pits. Ours likewise began to show themselves, and before noon the works of either side were lined with their respective uniforms, blue and grey. In some cases the antagonists mingled, and many of the enemy came into our camps, but General Grant ordered them to be sent back. So thick was the smoke, that it was not before 11 o'clock that the fleet saw the signal to cease firing. About one o'clock the flag of truce went back, and the firing again began at that point, and was soon resumed along the line, and within an hour the fleet again opened. About three o'clock another flag of truce came out; the firing again ceased, and the troops of either side appeared on their works much more readily than before. Orders soon after came for the firing to be permanently[387] discontinued. Our troops lay in their rifle pits all night, in the highest spirits. Daylight found the rebels in plain view all along their works, and our boys likewise coming out of their holes to see what they could see. It was the Fourth of July. At eight o'clock a national salute was fired with blank cartridges from the batteries along our entire line. About ten o'clock, from the position of our regiment, with a field glass, the enemy might be seen to take down his flag from Fort Hill, and hoist a white flag in its stead. Then two men started, each with a bundle of white flags, and proceeded either way, hoisting them along the works. As each flag was raised, the men in front of it would cheer frantically, and all along our lines the boys from the tops of their works began to sing national airs, while the rebels from theirs listened in gloomy silence. Soon the late combatants mingled together, the rebels streaming through all our camps. Their salutations were characteristic of their situation. "Boys," they would say, shaking hands, "this is strange; yesterday we were trying to kill each other, now we are meeting as friends." For the most part the rebels seemed quite disheartened; and many of them, speaking of the war, used an expression which seemed to have become proverbial among them: "This is the rich man's quarrel, but the poor man's fight." Thus they mingled together, victor and vanquished,—smoked, played cards, and, over pots of hot coffee, discussed the war and related their adventures, like old comrades who, after a long absence, had just met.

But the troops of our division were not allowed the privilege of mingling long with their late foes. Our[388] division was among the troops assigned to Sherman by orders from General Grant, with which, in the event of the success of the proposed assault on the sixth of July, he was to take the field immediately against Johnson. He was found in force around Jackson, strongly entrenched. It was not attempted to carry his works by assault; this was deemed impracticable, and the operations of a siege commenced.

The line of siege was formed on the eleventh, Hovey and Lauman, of Ord's corps, being on the extreme right. On the morning of the 12th, the 33d Wisconsin was sent across the Mississippi Central Railroad to Pearl River, and the 28th Illinois took their places in the 1st Brigade. Thus it seems as if fate had decreed that this gallant regiment, which had suffered side by side with ours in the disastrous bend of the Hatchie, should under the same generals suffer useless butchery now. In its first battle, the Third Iowa had fought for honor, but with some hope of victory; and now, in what was probably to be its last one, it was to fight for honor, but without hope;—nay, even to advance upon death itself, without the least encouragement of success.

Having disposed his divisions, General Ord ordered the generals commanding them to advance their lines. The left of our 1st Brigade was at that time considerably behind the right of Hovey. The troops moved forward as steadily as upon review, without hesitating or swerving, or showing any signs of precipitancy. It was a sight calculated to captivate the eye of a spectator, and fill with pride the heart of any general. What wonder? Were they not veterans, imbrowned by[389] long exposure, and at home amid the elements of battle?

Colonel Pugh's skirmishers soon became hotly engaged. He reported the fact to General Lauman, who ordered him to continue to advance. He pushed back the enemy's skirmishers, till he came within sight of his main works, formidable in appearance, his guns pointing through embrasures, and his field of fire level and unobstructed (even the corn-stalks being cut down), affording no possible cover to an advancing line. The colonel now reported in person his position to General Lauman; but the general still ordered him to advance. He returned, and swept with his eye the field. There was the enemy's long line of works, showing the mouths of his defiant cannon, and near him the remnant of his gallant brigade, now only eight hundred strong, which he was ordered to destroy. It must have been a harrowing moment to him. What was he to do? His order was imperative, and he was too true a soldier to question, much less to disobey it. To advance partially and then retreat, would seem to exhibit cowardice, and would be worse than to refuse to advance at all. To advance within musket range, and halt and engage the enemy, would be to court destruction without preserving honor, and without the possibility of injuring him. Besides, he was not instructed to halt at all. He gave the order to his men, and the line moved steadily forward, without support or diversion on the right or left, or a single shell having been thrown to test the enemy's strength, or prepare their way. From regimental commanders to the rank and file—all were astonished. At[390] first they supposed it was to be a general charge of the line, but their eyes soon undeceived them. A terrible realization of their situation came over them; but no one faltered or looked back. They had won too much glory on former fields to sully that record now. They must preserve honor, though they lost all else.

The enemy opened with fourteen pieces, and two brigades of infantry rose from their concealment, and poured a converging fire upon them. Colonel Pugh gave the command to charge; the men raised the shout and sprang forward through that thick storm of death. A few moments, and all was over. The line crumbled into broken bands, which arrived within pistol-shot of the embrasures, and halted and staggered and were swept away. Those who escaped had scarcely time to notice who had fallen. Back in the woods, where the advance had first commenced, they rallied—all that was left, but less than half the number that had advanced into that terrific fire. The Third Iowa had saved both its flag and banner; and now, of the two hundred and ten that advanced in the charge, but ninety could be rallied around them. Nearly all who were not there were killed, wounded or captured. General Lauman wept when he gazed on this remnant of his old brigade. Gen. Ord immediately relieved him of his command, and ordered him to report to Gen. Grant, at Vicksburg.[3]


Under the excitement of the moment, most voices were loud in imputing this disaster to him. No one could believe that he intended that this handful of men should charge unsupported a portion of the enemy's works. But all attributed it to his misunderstanding the orders of General Ord. Thus in common opinion the fault rested with these two generals. Either the one had communicated his orders unintelligibly, or the other had culpably misunderstood them. As generals are not apt to solicit the arbitrament of public opinion upon their conduct, and commonly keep their own secrets, we are only able to form conjectures in this matter. Calm reflection, however, can not but allow that it was unfair to lay the whole blame to a general, who, on all previous fields, had behaved with the gallantry and merit that had distinguished General Lauman. It is notable, that after there had been time for reflection, those of the division loudest in condemning him did not belong to the 1st Brigade. Nor is there a more striking instance of the ingratitude of common opinion, than in the case of those, who, in censuring him for this affair,[392] forgot the general of Belmont, Fort Donelson, Shiloh and the Hatchie.[4]

The casualties of this affair were deplorable. Each regiment was literally torn in pieces. In proportion to their numbers the 53d Illinois suffered most, to say nothing of losing their gallant Colonel Earle, who was struck by a volley of canister while riding in advance of his men. Our own regiment lost one hundred and thirteen, sixteen being killed, fifty-seven wounded, and forty missing and taken prisoners. A number of the wounds were mortal. Among those who lost their lives were some of our best names. The Ruckman brothers, the one Captain, the other 2d Lieutenant of Company B; 1st Lieutenant Hall, of the same company; and 1st Lieutenant McMurtry of Company D; 1st Sergeants Woodruff of Company B, and McClure of Company I; Sergeants Gilmore and Dent of Company E, Follett of Company F, and many other gallant names were among the sacrifices of this needless blunder. It would gratify me to mention the whole list of casualties in full—it [393]would be a roll of honor indeed—but as I could not obtain those of our other battles, I have refrained from giving this. Besides, their names deserve better memorial than mere mention in such a book as this. Among the severely wounded were Colonel Brown, Captain Geary, and Lieutenant Abernethy,—officers whose conduct here and on former fields, needs no eulogy from such a pen as mine. But I will not further dwell upon this affair—the saddest chapter of all my "recollections."

After the capture of Jackson, our regiment returned with Sherman's army to Vicksburg, and with the division was soon after ordered to Natchez, where it was stationed till winter, when it again returned to Vicksburg, and was stationed for a while in rear of that place, at Hebron. It has just returned to Vicksburg from Sherman's remarkable expedition to the Alabama line.

Comrades of the 3d Iowa! Thus far I have endeavored to follow you in this narrative through your campaigns and battles, to describe, as I saw them, some of the scenes you saw, and, as I felt and understood them, some of the hardships you suffered. I am as sensible as you can be, of how partially I have succeeded. To me, who came among you curious to see some of the pictures of war, your sufferings have seemed unreal, your exploits like romance. None but those who have been soldiers can ever understand these things. I am aware that I am addressing the 3d Iowa only in name—that I am addressing but a remnant of the gallant band that assembled under our regimental flag at Keokuk, nearly three years ago. Of the others, many have been[394] promoted, and are now serving honorably in other corps; one who commanded us in our most memorable battle, is Governor of our State; many have been taken from the service by wounds and disease, and many have fallen and perished—where? We may ask the cemeteries of almost every hospital in the West; the fields of Blue Mills, Shiloh, Matamora, Vicksburg and Jackson; the prairies of Missouri, and the woods of Tennessee and Mississippi, whose hostile soil has received them to its bosom; and the soil of their once happy homes to which the ashes of some of them have been removed. But they are not dead—we can not call them dead; for they live, and will live in affectionate remembrance as long as lives a member of the 3d Iowa. And of those who suffer from wounds received or diseases contracted while serving with us, let no one say that he has found one who, for relief from those sufferings, would be willing to give up the grand memories of the past, and the consciousness of honor merited—though it be not recorded—by hazard, hardship and gallant service in a glorious cause.

In taking leave of you, I would I could pay a sufficient tribute to those of you who have heretofore served and still serve in the grades of enlisted men. The people do not seem to understand this matter. They are not convinced that military rank alone is not an evidence of merit. They seem to have forgotten how many army officers of different grades, at the outbreak of the rebellion, betrayed their commands, and rushed to the standard of the traitors, while the private soldiers—whose services, considered menial, had neither been[395] honored nor paid—through obloquy, persecution and imprisonment, remained true to their country and their trust. They will not believe that preferment comes less by actual merit than by favoritism, intrigue or accident. They are slow to understand, that the hardships you suffer the commissioned officer does not always suffer in common with you. But be assured they will one day understand these things; and when they come to make a final award of honors to their gallant defenders, it will not be asked of any, "Was he a captain or a colonel?" but rather, "Did he do his whole duty in the place assigned him?" They will count your motives, in engaging in the war, unimpeachable. You have not served for money; you have not expected your toils and sufferings to be thus requited. You have not served for spoils; for you knew that the war would be conducted on civilized principles, and that there would be no spoils to divide. You have not served for the "bauble reputation;" for you well know how poor a chance you have had of gaining that. With whatever merit you may have served the operations of the war, your names have seldom been mentioned in official reports; officers alone, with few exceptions, enjoying the privilege of being able to have their names thus recorded among the military archives of the country. No: your motives have been higher and worthier than these. You have suffered most and have sought and received the fewest rewards. What you have not achieved in the gaining of money or personal reputation, you will one day receive in honor. History will dwell with delight upon the skill and resolution of the generals who have led you to victory; it[396] will dwell with delight both upon them and you. But if it admire their conduct as splendid, it will reverence yours as sublime. Nor think your services will be thankless. Time, which metes out justice to all, will see your sacrifices acknowledged and your merits recognized. The hearts of the great people that compose the Republic will go out in praise and gratitude to you. Public honors will come to reward your now humble services. Posterity will record you, as being among those who offered all they had, that the nation and liberty might live, an "all unclouded glory;" and on your names will attend, "The tears and praises of all time."

Comrades!—Your friends are gratified to learn, that what remains of the 3d Iowa has re-enlisted as a veteran regiment. Fields of honor are yet before you, and it is for you to participate in the last glorious deeds of the war. This thought should afford you no ordinary gratification; for to have fought both on its first and last fields will be counted no common honor. Your past record is one of glory; there are no fears that you will not continue to deserve it. Committing this book to you, and assuring you that though absent and serving in another corps, I am still with you in the memories and feelings of the past, I bid you an affectionate farewell.


[1] I have been unable to obtain the official report of this battle by our regimental commander, and through fear of making invidious comparisons, have refrained from mentioning the names of certain officers and men whose bravery was especially conspicuous. Among these, Trumbull, Knight, Crossley and Lakin sustained in a splendid manner on the first day's field, the reputation they had won at Blue Mills. Lieutenant Crossley was called to command the regiment late in the afternoon of Sunday, and from that time till Monday, did his duty with a degree of heroism which merits the life-long, honored gratitude of every member of our regiment. He rose with every occasion; and amid the severest shocks, and heaviest disasters, no one seemed so capable of inspiring men as he. Trumbull acted as field officer, and was conspicuous for his cool gallantry till in the afternoon of Sunday, when he was wounded by a shell and compelled to quit the field. Sergeant Lakin bore the colors the first day with a bravery nowhere surpassed; but during the night he was taken severely ill, and was unable to carry them the second day. In his absence Corporal Anderson Edwards filled his place in a manner which can not be too highly praised.

[2] This gallant and high-minded officer joined us with some military experience, having served in the Mexican war. He was with us in all our battles, and on all occasions behaved with a degree of courage and resolution seldom equalled, nowhere surpassed. In camp and on the march his conduct was no less meritorious. He kept himself thoroughly acquainted with his duties, and on all occasions commanded the highest personal and official respect. His generosity knew no distinction of rank; for a gallant officer or soldier he could not do too much, and there was but one offense which he could not forgive: misbehavior in the face of the enemy. To those guilty of this he was particularly intolerant. In short, he possessed in a high degree the elements which make up a successful soldier, and his comrades, and those who served under him, have learned with gratification that he is again in the service, as colonel of the 9th Iowa Cavalry, with the gallant Knight, first lieutenant and then captain of his old company in the 3d Iowa, as lieutenant-colonel.


Headquarters, 4th Division, 16th Army Corps, }
In the Field, Near Jackson, Miss., July 12th, 1863. }

Fellow Soldiers:—Having been relieved from the command of the 4th Division by Major General Ord, the command is turned over to Brigadier General Hovey.

To say that I part with my old comrades with sorrow and regret, is simply giving expression to my heartfelt feelings.

I shall ever remember the toils and hardships we have endured together, and the glory which the Old Fourth has won on hard fought fields, and the glory which clusters around their name like a halo—with pride and satisfaction.

And now, in parting with you, I ask a last request, that in consideration of your past fame, you do nothing in word or deed to mar it, but that you give to your present or future commander that prompt obedience to orders which has always characterized the division, and which has given to it the proud position which it now enjoys.

Officers and soldiers, I bid you now an affectionate farewell.

J. G. Lauman,
Brigadier General.

[4] General Lauman entered the service as Colonel of the 7th Iowa Infantry. He commanded his regiment in the battle of Belmont, where it suffered most, and distinguished itself above all others. Its conduct won special mention in General Grant's official report. In this action Colonel Lauman was severely wounded. At Fort Donelson he commanded the brigade of Smith's division, consisting of the 2d, 7th, 12th Iowa, and the 25th Indiana regiments, which performed the most gallant and successful achievement of that engagement, the carrying by storm of the enemy's works on our left—which compelled his surrender the following morning. At Shiloh he commanded the 3d Brigade of the 4th Division. Since then he has been with us most of the time in this narrative. His personal courage was of the first order; and his humanity and kindness towards his men were conspicuous upon all occasions. Those who complain of such a general do not deserve to be under so good a one.


Transcriber's Note:

Obvious typographical errors were corrected, but valid or consistently used archaic spellings were retained (for example: "height(s)" was used for high altitudes, while "highten(ed)" was used for increases in intensity).

Hyphenation variations were standardized, but "reform" (as in change or correct) and "re-form" (as in re-position) were retained.

In a few cases, the wording of chapter headings varied between the Contents list and the actual chapter headings. The differences were retained.

Variant spellings of "Yockono," "Yockona," "Yacoma," and "Yacomo" were standardized to "Yockona."