History of Buchanan County, Iowa 1842 to 1881
Transcribed by Tommy Joe Fulton and Peggy Hoehne
LETTER NO. CXXXIII.
REAR OF VICKSBURGH, MISSISSIPPI, February 1, 1864.
FRIEND RICH: - On the twenty-first of January, 1864, we received orders to be in readiness to move on the twenty-fourth. January 23d we received two months' pay, from October 31st to December 31, 1863, Major Lupton, paymaster. On the same day one hundred and twenty-one rounds of ammunition per man were served. Did not move on the twenty-fourth, as was expected. January 25th, brigaded with the Fourteenth Iowa, Thirty-second Iowa, and One Hundred and Seventy-eighth New York, and Colonel W. T. Shaw, Fourteenth Iowa, announced as brigade commander. We are Second brigade, Third division, Sixteenth army corps. All regimental and company property, not required in the field, ordered stored in the quartermaster's department in Memphis. January 27th the regiment embarked on steamer Des Moines. January 28th the fleet left Memphis - seven boats loaded with soldiers - and steamed down the river at 10 o'clock A. M. Our band discoursed some lively music, while the bands on the other boats contributed, by their inspiring strains, to the enthusiasm of the soldiers, as well as to that of the crowd collected to witness the departure of the troops. The large buildings adjacent to the river were covered with an immense throng. Soon we fell below the fort and, amid the cheers of the crowd on shore and the waving of handkerchiefs by those on the tops of buildings, we bade farewell to Memphis, to report at Vicksburgh, Mississippi. January 29th, at sunrise, we were at the mouth of White river, and very soon after we passed that of the Arkansas. To this point the regiment had sailed before; but as soon as we passed below the familiar scenery, all were on deck, eager to see something new. The same desolation marked the banks of the great river which characterizes them for hundreds of miles, until we had passed the extreme southern limit of Arkansas. Then we began to pass large, deserted plantations on either side of the river, on some of them as many as thirty-five houses - isolated towns, in which the slaveholder and his slaves formerly lived. Still farther down we saw other plantations which were not deserted, but were worked under the supervision of Government authorities by the freedmen. January 30th, passed Milliken's Bend at 9 A. M. Saw the large building in which General McPherson held his headquarters during the fitting out of the army which marched westward and south through Louisiana, crossing the river below Vicksburgh during the siege. We also saw the spot where the negroes fought so heroically, capturing the rebel posts. At 10 A. M. we came in sight of the city of sieges. We passed the mouth of the Yazoo river and saw the famous canal - a mere ditch; passed Haines Bluff, and thought of the noble sons of America buried upon those hills, and of the glorious victory of July 4, 1863, by the valiant army under General Grant.
Immediately on our arrival we debarked, camped on the shore, and hastily unloaded the baggage and supplies. Yesterday we remained on shore awaiting orders, without tents or shelter. Early in the evening it commenced raining, and continued until the whole flat was flooded with water. The boys, who had early lain down to rest, under rubber blankets, were soon awake and singing, a la boatman, "Four feet! Six feet!! Nine feet!!! No bottom!!!!" At midnight the rain ceased, and the men, without fires, passed the night in great discomfort; but all was borne uncomplainingly. This morning we moved, at 11 A. M., from the levee through the city to our present camping ground, two miles in the rear of Vicksburgh. The works are in a measure abandoned. Many of the caves in the earth have been filled, and the forts torn down. We are close to the spot where Lieutenant Dunlap, of the Twenty-first Iowa, fell in the charge on the fort just before us. Our transportation is cut down to three teams for a regiment. A large army is here, commanded by Major General Sherman, and will move soon.
C. H. L.