History of Buchanan County, Iowa 1842 to 1881
Transcribed by Tommy Joe Fulton and Peggy Hoehne
LETTER NO. XCIX.
CAMP NEAR WATERFORD,
HEADQUARTERS TWENTY-SEVENTH REGIMENT.
FRIEND RICH: - We left camp on Hurricane creek, December 12th, to report to Colonel Dubois, at Holly Springs . . . The second day we marched over to and camped at Waterford. Jesse Roton, of company C, had been failing for days, and he was so far gone that morning, that he had to be carried. W. H. Lueder; of the same company, was very low, but rode in the ambulance. They both, contrary to the expectations of the surgeons, lived through the day, and are now somewhat better, with a prospect of recovery.
As we neared Waterford, we began to see, on a more extended scale the preparations for moving this great army. Just as we entered town, we met one hundred and fifteen mule teams, loaded with provisions for the armies of Sherman and Grant. And these were but a small fragment of the immense train constantly moving. Waterford is a small and dilapidated town on the Mississippi railroad, eight miles due south of Holly Springs. The land about town is sterile, and washes more than any other country I ever saw. The soil is a clay and sand mixture; and, at each shower, the water washes out deep gullies which make the country almost impassable, save where the roads are constantly worked. We remained but a day, then marched, agreeably to orders of Colonel Dubois, for the Tallahatchie. It rained very hard while we were on the march that day, and all were thoroughly soaked; but there was little murmuring, and when the tents were pitched, and large fires were built, and we had become dried and warmed, we were ready for another installment of the soldiers' peculiar joys. . . . The surgeons have taken possession of Dr. Jones' place for hospital purposes. The house is quite large, and, when well cleaned, will be an excellent building for the purpose. This Dr. Jones is said to be the richest man in the country. He owns five sections of land and over two hundred negroes. The greater part of the negroes, he put in the rear of the rebel army, thinking doubtless that they would be beyond the reach of the Yankee; but, unfortunately perhaps for him, and fortunately for themselves, some have already found our lines.
Headquarters of the regiment are established, for the present, about three miles from Waterford, in a very comfortable house, a little distance from the railroad; An old lady, her three daughters, and a number of blacks, are the only persons about the plantation. The men have gone, if indeed any belong to the establishment - the fates only know where - and the women, like all in the south, are widows. To-night, at a social gathering, the familiar song of "John Brown" was sung, but with what degree of pleasure it was received by them, I was not shrewd enough to decide.
Still the lament is, "no mail since we left Cairo." This is rather disheartening to some of us, who miss papers and kind words from home, more than almost all things else. This task of guarding the railroad may seem to some rather inglorious, but perhaps it is well that we, after having become noted as the travelling regiment, should for a time perform it. A good soldier is one that is obedient and vigilant.
C. H. L.