History of Buchanan County, Iowa 1842 to 1881
Transcribed by Tommy Joe Fulton and Peggy Hoehne
LETTER NO. CXIII.
SAME, March 23, 1863.
We have had some excitement within the past few days. You have doubtless been informed ere this time, by telegraph, that the guerillas, on last Saturday, tore up the track for a short distance between here and Memphis, designing to capture the paymaster, who was to pass over the road on that day. But a rail or two were torn up, and the guerillas lay in ambush at the curve of the road, anxiously waiting for the train which was to bring their expected prize. Fortunately the first train was a wood train, having on board a few negroes as laborers, and a sufficient force of white men to run it. It came round the curve and was thrown from the track, when a band of desperadoes made their appearance, burned a number of the cars and succeeded in capturing those on board. While engaged at this, the paymaster's train came in sight. When the turn was made the engineer saw at a glance that there was trouble ahead. Instantly he reversed the steam. The paymaster, who had on board a large sum of money, became frightened, and, with a captain, jumped from the train, leaving his money all on board. The engineer hesitated not a moment, but ran his engine with all possible dispatch to a place of safety, leaving Mr. Paymaster and captain in the hands of the guerillas.
It will be a source of pleasure to all to know that our muskets are to be exchanged for Enfield rifles. Your readers will remember that but two companies (A and B) were supplied with rifles when we first started out. All the others had Prussian muskets. There was no little dissatisfaction with them when they were furnished to us at Dubuque, and Colonel Gilbert has availed himself of every opportunity to exchange the muskets for rifles; and now our whole regiment is to be armed with guns, behind which a soldier may stand with some safety, and before which the enemy will fall. Ancient and modem warfare have depended to a great extent on the kind and use of weapons. We now have the right kind, and are being perfected in the use of them in our daily squad, company and battalion drills. Six hundred effective Iowans, with effective weapons, would, if they imitated the bright examples of their preceding compatriots, be a wall impregnable to traitors.
Good news cheers the heart of the loyal man at the north, but it sends a thrill of joy through the soldier's heart which is inexpressible. With what intense interest do we watch our fleet as it winds its way along under the over-arched, foliage-covered Yazoo Pass. How our hearts leaped last night with exultation at the news that our iron-clads had passed Port Hudson, and had reported to our out-posts below Vicksburgh. But if we are defeated, our devotion will rekindle, and the smothered fires of liberty will break forth in new and fiercer flames.
C. H. L