History of Buchanan County, Iowa 1842 to 1881
Transcribed by Tommy Joe Fulton and Peggy Hoehne
LETTER NO. XCVII.
HOLLY SPRINGS, MISSISSIPPI, December 21, 1862.
FRIEND RICH: - I wrote you a few days ago, stating that I presumed that our regiment was stationed for the winter. The next morning after that was sent, while Colonel Gilbert and myself were at breakfast, a messenger came in, stating that the rebels had attacked our hospital, which was about a quarter of a mile from the main camp, in a house.
We started immediately, but before we got to the hospital, the rebels, fifteen in number, had disappeared with five horses belonging to the surgeons, the ambulances, and seven men. We pursued them by mounting fifteen men on mules, but after a chase of six miles, to Wyatt, without overtaking them, the pursuit was abandoned. On our return we were met by another messenger, with the announcement that Holly Springs had been taken by five thousand rebel cavaly. We hastened back to camp, formed one regiment in the best position possible under the circumstances, and awaited results. About 2 P. M. Colonel Marsh, with two regiments, came in from Oxford, with orders for us to go to Waterford. We arrived there about sundown, and staid until this morning. This morning we received an order brigading us as follows: Twenty-seventh Iowa, Eighth, Sixteenth and Seventeenth Wisconsin, under command of Colonel Gilbert. The brigade marched to this place to-day. When we arrived, we found that the rebels had been gone some twenty-four hours, after burning all our commissary and quartermaster's stores, thirty-six cars, spoiling two engines, destroying a large number of wagons, getting pretty drunk, and packing off on our mules and horses, loads of clothing and goods generally. We have several hundred cavalry and flying artillery in pursuit, but how long it will take to overhaul and chastise them, is more than I can tell. I am confident, however, that they will be overtaken, some of them captured, and a large amount of our goods retaken. They have a little the start of us, but hard work will overtake them somewhere, and we may as well give them fits now as ever. Four of our companies were left to take care of the bridge over the Tallahatchie.
Who is to blame for this humiliating affair, it is not my business to determine. The United States have lost in property not less than two millions of dollars. It is certain that the citizens of the town have taken a great many of these goods, and the houses will be searched, and those found in possession of them will be punished.
Thus you see our promised quiet for the winter has been most rudely disturbed, and we find ourselves in a state of excited determination to fight somebody.
Where we shall go, how long we shall stay there, and what we Shall do while there, my next letter may disclose.