History of Buchanan County, Iowa 1842 to 1881
Transcribed by Tommy Joe Fulton and Peggy Hoehne
LETTER NO. XCIV.
CAMP ON HURRICANE CREEK, Mississippi, December 11, 1862.
FRIEND RICH: - We remained at Pigeon Roost Creek, the place from which I wrote last, but a day or two, and then marched southward with two days' rations in our haversacks. The troops marched rapidly, apparently with the design of making connection with some other part of the army, or of attacking the enemy. All our wagons were left behind the division, except an ammunition wagon, and the two ambulances for transporting the sick. We marched, November 30th, about eight miles and encamped near Chulahoma. Rumors and excitement were rife. Some thought that we had cut off Price's retreat, while others, at each dash of our cavalry, trembled as if the fatal moment had come.
The camp at Chulahoma is quite a good one, in many respects. The soil was of a more sandy nature, and the country around presented a more inviting aspect. Rails from the high fences near by made large and warm fires. Miles of fences were burned that night by our troops; but the water was too much like that of the Mississippi, very poor indeed. During the night a fierce storm raged through the camp, reminding us of those we had seen sweeping over the broad prairies of Iowa. A number of tents were blown over, and some amusing scenes and incidents occurred. A major was clinging to his tent poles when the wind caught up the lower part of the tent, dashed a plentiful shower around him, for it was raining in torrents, and then passed on seeking new victims for this practical joke. A certain lieutenant found himself landed on all fours, fast in the mud; and those who witnessed this new military evolution, speak in the highest terms of the agility displayed; and though the grin which adorned his visage showed a slight degree of vexation, there is a general disposition to condone the offence, in consideration of the suddenness of the adoption of the new tactics, and the rapidity of movement required the first time he was "put through."
The next day, December 1st, we remained in camp, but started early on the second, and marched all day in a drenching rain, in the direction of Wyatt, at which place we arrived about sundown. The wagons with the tents and camp utensils did not overtake us until next day, just at night, so that we did what we had not done before, lay down upon the wet leaves, among a small growth of trees, with nothing over us but our blankets and the black and dripping clouds. There was more meditation than sleep that night. Thousands of brave ones, battling for humanity, lay thoughtful upon the ground in an enemy's land. . . . After remaining a day or two in Wyatt, constructing a bridge over the stream, which was unfordable, we marched, Sunday the seventh, to the camp on Hurricane creek, a distance of six miles. Our way lay through an inferior tract of country across the Tallahatchie river. The camp here is preferable in many respects to any we have found since leaving the vicinity of Memphis. The wood and water are excellent and handy, but the living is quite poor, We were out of crackers, and almost everything else usually furnished by the commissary, and were obliged to forage. Corn is the only breadstuff to be had, and a mill conveniently located was kept in active operation to turn out meal for the division. Pretty hard fare the boys say; but then we are cheerful as ever, and willing to accept whatever is inevitable in the soldier's life.
Soon after camping three major generals, Grant, Sherman and Smith, and a number of brigadiers, came into camp. They halted but a moment, but long enough for us to get a look at them. On the ninth our regiment, in connection with several others, was reviewed by Major General Sherman.
Our most ardent desire now is to get hold of Pemberton and his army. The large force of which I wrote in my last, in connection with Grant's forces, have marched steadily forward, meeting with very little opposition. The rebels had strongly fortified around the Tallahatchie, but when armies from the north came marching in long and bold lines down through their land, they vanished away without offering us any resistance. Our cavalry, as you have learned ere this, closely pursued them and captured a goodly number.
A division train was sent out to Holly Springs the other day, and has just returned; and we shall now live again. And, better still, we have marching orders for Waterford, a distance of twelve miles over the Mississippi railroad, to act as guard. Our regiment and the Twelfth Indiana are to report to Colonel Dubois at Holly Springs.
Here we are only about one hundred and sixty miles from the capital of Mississippi. He who thinks that our army is not gaining ground is deceived. We are going, in spite of rebels, to the gulf, and shall accept nothing but unconditional surrender to the old flag, the flag of our fathers. Ye men of the north, in whose hands are the interest and safe keeping of the government, while patriots from your own fire-sides are willingly submitting to all the hardships of the camp and the field, do not submit to an inglorious and temporary peace; but let us battle on until we have found the immovable foundations of liberty and justice, upon which may be built, broad and strong, the enduring structure of a permanent peace.
C. H. L.