History of Buchanan County, Iowa 1842 to 1881
Transcribed by Tommy Joe Fulton and Peggy Hoehne
LETTER NO. CXXVII.
HELENA, ARKANSAS, August 25, 1863.
FRIEND RICH: - About 3 o'clock A. M., August 24th, we were awakened and ordered to get our camp and garrison equipage aboard the steamer Grosebeck. At daybreak the regiment, which, since its arrival in Memphis, had been lying in a grove, two miles north of the city, marched on board the boat, bound for Helena. Several other regiments embarked at the same time, with the same destination. The land on either side, as we descended, presented, like that from Cairo to Memphis, a continued, cheerless, lone and uninviting wilderness. We sailed with nothing of interest, apart from our little fleet, until we came to the confluence of the St. Francis with the Mississippi. This is quite a pleasant stream, about the size of the Cedar river. Helena is a small town, with low, flat buildings, which exhibit no signs of elegance. It lies on a low tract of clayey land, which is overflowed in high water. In the distance the hills rise rather abruptly to the height of seventy-five or one hundred feet.
Immediately on our arrival we proceeded to unload our baggage, and, at daylight, marched the regiment up the levee near the hills and pitched tents. On these hills, which run the whole distance of the town, and parallel with the river, several batteries are planted, which, it seems to me, would be exceedingly hard to take. We have just received news that the boat on which the Forty-ninth Illinois was being transported, was sunk, some twenty-five miles down from Memphis. All that we know at present is, that it sunk with a loss of five men, a number of guns, and quite an amount of baggage. We had orders to leave here to-morrow, but since the news of the fate of the Forty-ninth, we do not expect to leave until we get orders from General Hurlbut or Steele. We are to go to Clarendon, on White river, where General Steele is in command, with some ten thousand troops. Our baggage is greatly diminished, and all the sick have been sent to the hospital. Nothing will hinder our making a rapid and, I think, a triumphant march to Clarendon, and from thence to Little Rock.
Our regiment numbers four hundred and ninety-five effective men; and all these will, I think, be true and obedient on the battlefield. A better brigade than ours never went into the field; and if they do not give a good account of themselves they will disappoint every one.
C. H. L.