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27th Iowa Top Banner

Submitted by Ernst Ewringmann
Written in German

Transcribed by David Beck

Little Rock, October 23rd, 1863
Dear Gustav,

Since we are now having a rather good time and have little duty to do, I will put the time to use to tell you how the war is going and to make it clear where the armies stand. I think it will also be of interest to you to hear some truth about the greatest war ever waged (I think since the world began).

What the newspapers write is usually inadequate and often mixed with so many lies that one who is not an active participant cannot find out the truth. The previous May when I wrote your last letter we had taken somewhat of a beating. The Army of the Potomac (the greatest and strongest under General Lee) appeared in Ohio and Pennsylvania (after the 2nd battle of Fredericksburg) and now threatened Washington (the Federal's capital city). The Cumberland Army under Rosecranz lay inactive at Murfreesborough in Tennessee, the rebel General Bragg had strong fortifications opposite the Chattanooga in Tennessee and seeked to cut off the communications of both named Generals Rosecranz and Meade. The guerilla leader Morgan had showed up in Indiana and scorched and murdered; Grant, the best of our Generals, under which our regiment stands, was positioned in front of Vicksburg (the rebel's strongest fort on the Mississippi) but had to retreat after a bloody assault. Fort Charleston, in South Carolina on the coast of the ocean, was futily besieged by our General Gillmore. Helena, in Arkansas, was threatened by the rebel General Price; in short, we were at a disadvantage overall and the future promised to bring hard times for us. Also, we needed many more troops to occupy the places which had been defeated, and when the railways, through which we supplied provisions to our army, where not well occupied, were destroyed by guerillas who swarmed over the whole land. In the north the so-called Copperheads rose up, that is, "the other people", which sided with the south, and in the biggest cities like New York, Boston, Philadelphia etc., revolutions broke out, where troops were used to calm things down again.

So it went up to the 4th of July. This day, which, since the time when America separated from England, and on which the declaration of independence was drafted, is the greatest holiday in America, and which brought a great and favorable change for us by raising our spirits. General Meade, who had followed Lee to Pennsylvania, defeated the latter at Gettysburg and forced him to return after a loss of 20,000 men. On the same day Vicksburg was surrendered to General Grant and we got 30,000 prisoners there; 6 days later Port Hudson (on the Mississippi) fell with 14,000 prisoners. General Prentiss hit the rebels under Price at Helena and got 2,000 prisoners. The guerilla leader Morgan, the terror of farmers, was caught with his entire band and now sits behind bars under lock and key and Rosecranz set his army in motion and took Chatanooga without much trouble.

After this the hot time of the year set in and the army rested up. We had Tennessee, part of Alabama, 3/4 of Louisiana, Mississippi and Virginia in our possession and only waited for autumn to come at the rebels from all sides to crush them with a blow.

Every army is busied now with forward movement and all are crowned with good success except for the ones commanded by Rosecranz. You see, Rosecranz followed the rebels into Georgia after the capture of Chatanooga and so threatened to cut the eastern part of the south in 2, thereby moving the rebels with a hard push. However, the south had every reason to prevent this because first, through it, the whole railway system, which connects the south as a whole,  would fall into our hands and at the same time the connection of their armies would be cut off and secondly the most fruitful states, which alone deliver the south's food supplies, would fall into our hands. Therefore the rebels sent reinforcements upon reinforcements in front of Rosecranz and on Lookout Mountain on the Chicamauga river they went into battle, in which Rosecranz was forced to retreat to Chattanooga where he remained in a safe location and waited for reinforcements and now is probably already in the advancer's grasp (in the battle of Chicamauga there was a loss of 15,000 men on each side).

The Army of the Potomac is also finally moving forward to take Richmond; Charleston will fall soon and so together falls the whole secess into nothing; and hopefully then the golden sun of peace will shine again over the now blood soaked land, and the fields, which now lay broken, will again be cut through by the plowshare in order to make it suitable to take the seed and bring out the rich crops.

In the course of time should something interesting occur again I will let you know of it and not deprive you.

Also, I am sending you the following view of Little Rock and the position of our troops and that of the rebels.