This letter was written by 43 year-old Harrison Gibble (1822-1898), a private in Co. A, 79th Pennsylvania Infantry. Harrison was the son of Lewis W. Gibble (1798-1851) and Polly Hummer (1800-1853). He was married to Hannah Bentz (1817-1891) about 1845 and worked as a blacksmith in Manheim, Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, prior to and after the Civil War.
Harrison wrote the letter to Henry Clay Gingrich (1825-1907), also of Manheim. He writes of the movements of his regiment in the final days of the war and ends his letter by mentioning the suicide of David H. Showers—an “old soldier” in Co. I, 79th Pa. Infantry, who “hung himself on a sprout of a tree near camp.” According to the company roster, Pvt. Showers died on 16 April 1865.
[Note: This letter is from the private collection of Richard Weiner and is published by express consent.]
Near Cape Fear River
April 20, 1865
Friend Henry C. Gingrich,
It is with pleasure to write a letter to you to inform you that we got the glorious news today that peace was declared and that we are to be sent home to our respective homes or states before long. Our army had much cheering when we got the news of the fall of Richmond and Petersburg and then the surrender of Gen. Lee. We almost got hoarse. But after the notice or order was read that peace was declared, it made almost the world shutter. How we cheered. Now is the talk in camp, “when do you think we will start to go home, &c.”
All the men are glad that we have conquered the rebs. Our army was doing hard work this last six months but it shows that it paid for doing it. We cut off all their supplies and drove them all the time in our front. We had Old Joe Johnston on a run all the time since we left Goldsboro till we stopped. We struck for the Capitol from Goldsboro and after we came within 15 miles of the city (Raleigh), the governor came to meet General Sherman and surrendered the town or city. The next day, we marched into the city till 10 o’clock A. M. and caught many of Old Joe’s rear guard. We then started next morning to follow his main army and came so close on him on all sides that he sent in a flag of truce for some reason and then we was ordered to stop and lay over till further orders.
So we laid still for 4 days and now we are waiting for orders to go to some other and more convenient place to camp. At present we lay 3 miles from the river to a town called Holy Springs. You can see the place by looking on the map of North Carolina. We have 23 miles to the Capitol.
Henry, I am glad that this unjust war is now coming to an end. It will make many a sad heart rejoice and will bring many a family to a more contented life, and all the troubles of war will be over. I got the sad intelligence of Mr. Hostetter and Frederick Ensminger. They have gone to their everlasting rest. I will come nearer to a close hoping that we Manheim boys may come home to meet you before the next 4th of July and spend that memorable day with you at home in some grove and help you to gather your hay and grain if you will be sactioned to raise any. We must now begin to think what to follow hereafter for our future days and throw away the musket—not to handle it no more.
The weath is fine. Thunder gusts most every other day and everything looks green and fruit trees full of buds all appearances to have much fruit. I will also hope to hear from you when convenient. Your friend, — H. Gibble
Direct to Raleigh, N. Carolina
N. B. Night before last a young man by the name of [David H.] Showers from Adamstown hung himself on a sprout of a tree near camp. Next morning we buried him. He was an old soldier and marched through all this long marches and after all over, hung himself.
This letter was written by Robert Buchanan (1835-1868) of Co. K, 58th North Carolina Infantry. Robert was a 29 year-old farmer when he mustered into Co. B on 25 June 1862 for three years or the duration of the war. The descriptive roll indicated he stood 5 feet 10 inches tall. Soon after mustering in, he was transferred to Co. K. It appears Robert was with the regiment until 15 December 1862 when he went home on a “20 day furlough” but did not return to his company until 25 March 1863. Some two weeks after he wrote this letter from the company’s camp near Clinton, Tennessee, he deserted (7 May 1863).
Robert wrote the letter to his “dear companion”—Rusha Ann (Canipe) Buchanan (1839-1924) whom he married in 1852 and called “Rushie.” The couple had three children—Thomas, Sarah Jane, and Noah—prior to Robert’s enlistment. A fourth child, Mary, was born in September 1865. The couple made their home near Bakersville, Yancey county, North Carolina.
Robert’s apparent disgust with the war—expressed in this letter—was shared by a significant portion of those who fought with the regiment. When the war dragged on beyond the second year, many of them became disheartened by their absence from family and home and began to desert. In short—their heart wasn’t in it and many blamed the secessionist firebrands for dragging them into the war.
Camp near Clinton [Tennessee]
[Tuesday] April 21, 1863
I take my pen in hand in order to drop you a few lines which will inform you that I am well as common. My jaw still keeps hurting of me. I can say to you that I want to see you and the children the worst I ever did in my life and if I have the good luck to live and keep my health, I will come home before cold weather.
We are under marching orders but I don’t know where to. We hear that the Yankees has got the Virginia Salt Works but I don’t know whether it is so or not. We had to double quick back to Jacksboro last Friday [17 April 1863] and stayed there till Sunday [19 April 1863].
So I must close by saying to you I want you to write to me as often as you can for there is nothing that gives me any more satisfaction than to hear from you all and hear that you are all well and doing well. I want you to do the best you can for if I never see you anymore in this world, I hope that we will meet where there is no war—no secession, for I tell you that that was the very cause of it. So write, write, write and fail not.
I ever remain yours affectionate husband until death, — Robert Buchanan
This letter was written by Lt. Col. William Henry Luse (1837-1904) of the 18th Mississippi Infantry. Luse entered the war as Captain of the Benton Rifles (later Co. B, 18th Mississippi) on 27 April 1861. He was elected Lt. Colonel of the regiment during the 1862 reorganization of the army. After Colonel Griffin was wounded, Lt. Col. Luse took command of the regiment at Malvern Hill on 1 July 1862.
The 18th Mississippi fought under General McLaws on the Maryland Heights 12 and 13 September 1862 and were part of Lee’s army that arrived at the Battle of Sharpsburg after the battle had been in progress for several hours on 17 September. Lt. Col. Luse and 50 other Mississippians were taken prisoner in the fighting at the Battle of Fredericksburg but by July, Luse was back in command only to be taken prisoner again at Gettysburg on 2 July 1863.
This letter was written from the prison on Johnson’s Island, which was the primary location used by the government to hold Confederate officers (see image below). He wrote the letter to Virginia Miller of Washington D. C.—a southern sympathizer who aided Luse and other imprisoned Confederate officers by sending them money to help them through their suffering as prisoners of war. Ms. Miller was the daughter of physician Dr. Thomas Miller who attended several U. S. Presidents up until the time Lincoln was elected. During the war, the family residence was kept under strict surveillance. She even hosted Mrs. Jefferson Davis while her husband was held a prisoner at Fortress Monroe after the war. [See: Dr. Miller and His Times, by Virginia Miller] The letter is only one page in length, which was the limit placed on prisoners for outgoing mail.
Luse was the son of Stephen Laurence Luse (1806-1884) and his second wife Sarah (“Sallie”) Purvis (1814-1844) of Yazoo City, Mississippi. He was married in 1861 to Mary Eliza King (b. 1842) and their first child was born in 1862. According to Ancestry records, the boy’s name was Douglas Burt Luse. Luse survived his captivity, returned to his farm in Midway, Yazoo county, Mississippi, and went on to have at least eight more children with his wife Mary.
September 21st 1864
My dear friend,
Your last came duly some days since and would have been answered sooner but regulations allow us fewer letters to our friends than formerly. I fear I should fail to interest you were I to write every day as ours is a monotonous life. I seldom hear from my friends south, and if you knew the pleasure it affords a prisoner to hear his name called on the letter list, you would not be ceremonious, but write often. Your friends here are all well and delighted always to hear from you.
Have not heard from the 18th [Mississippi Infantry] in some time. Col. G[erald] ¹ doing well when last heard from.
I had never thought to tell you that I had a charming boy at home now more than two years old and bearing the same name of our lamented friend, Col. [Erasmus R.] Burt. ² I shall be proud if he makes such a man as he. I have not seen him for two years. Excuse brevity & dullness.
Sincerely your friend, — W. H. Luse
¹ My assumption is that Luse is referring to George Bruce Gerald (b. 1836) who began his service as captain of Co. C (“McClung Rifles of Yazoo County”) of the 18th Mississippi. Gerald rose in rank to Major of the regiment by May 1863 and took command of the regiment (or what was left of it) in September 1864.
² Col. Erasmus R. Burt was killed in action on 21 October 1861 at Ball’s Bluff, Virginia. Burt began his service as the captain of Co. K, 18th Mississippi Infantry, but he was quickly elevated and was made its colonel by 7 June 1861 and led the regiment at Bull Run and at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff.
This letter was written principally by Morey T. Winship (1826-1875) of Cameron, Steuben county, New York. Adding a note at the bottom of the letter was his wife, Sarah (Baker) Winship (1829-1879). The letter was written to Morey’s nephew James Wilson Winship (1839-1896), the son of Sylvester Tynell Winship (1812-1866) and Sally C. Hayes (1816-1856), who had just been discharged for disability from Co. I, 3rd Iowa Infantry.
Morey mentions James’ brothers, Nehemiah Willard Winship (1837-1863) and Wesley Winship (1840-1865). Nehemiah served in Co. K, 86th New York Infantry and was killed at Gettysburg. Wesley served in the 1st New York Infantry and later in the 161st New York Infantry. He also mentions James’ brother George Washington Winship (1842-1928). George attended the Troopsburg Academy until 1864 when he enlisted in Battery G, 16th New York Heavy Artillery.
[Note: This letter is from the private collection of Walter Slonopas and is published here by express consent.]
Cameron [Steuben county, New York]
October 19th 1862
I was glad to hear from you once more. We are all well at present. I saw George yesterday and he was well. He said he had a letter from your Father last week. He is well also,
Jim, I was glad to hear that you had got home once more but I was disappointed that you did not come back here. We heard you were coming when your time was out. Jim, we all want to see you bad. We had a letter from Nehemiah last week. He has been sick but was getting better. He said Wesley had been with him two days and was as hearty as a pig.
Jim you must excuse my bad writing and write as often as you can. So goodbye for the present. — Mary Winship
To James Winship
P. S. Tell Ez[ra] ¹ I want to see him the worst kind. This devilish war prevents me from coming out there this fall.
[in a different hand]
James, please tell Lydia that we are anxious to hear from her and also tell her I have written two letters to her and received no answers and Mote has written to Ezra and has had no letter and we would like to hear from all of them. — Sarah Winship
¹ Ezra D. Winship (1827-1907) was Morey’s brother who lived in Shell Rock, Butler county, Iowa. Ezra was married to Lydia C. Kittrell (1834-1906) in 1850.
This letter was written by Everett E. Allen (1833-1902), the son of Amos Allen (1805-1884) and Lucinda Howland (1806-1885) of Oriskany Falls, Oneida county, New York. Everett was married in April 1858 to Theresa Melissa (“Lissy”) Kellogg (1839-1900). The couple had at least three children but only one—Carrie Elmira (“Mira”) Allen (1861-1932) was born prior to Everett enlisting in the service of his country.
At the age of 28, Everett volunteered to serve three years in Co. E, 101st New York Infantry. His service was short lived, however. After a severe attack of typhoid fever, Everette was discharged for disability on 26 April 1862, less than three months after this letter was written. His enlistment record indicates that he stood 5 feet 8 inches tall, had blue eyes and sandy hair.
A younger brother, George H. Allen (1842-1864) enlisted in August 1862 to serve three years in Co. G, 146th New York Infantry. He went missing in action on 5 May 1864 during the fighting in the Wilderness and was presumed killed.
In the following letter to his wife, Everett shares his disappointment with soldier life and expresses thinly veiled prejudice in the character of his fellow enlisted men, many of them apparently of German or Irish descent. He explains that the regiment is of insufficient size so they are to be consolidated with another regiment being formed in the southern part of the state.
Syracuse [New York]
February 7th 1862
My Dear Dear Wife,
I received your very kind and affectionate letter on Wednesday. It is not necessary for me to state that I was very happy to hear from you for you will judge from your own experience in reference to that. Lissy, I guess that you received my letter about the same time I did yours for we both wrote on Sunday. Yesterday we had the promise of our pay and I had the promise of a furlough to come home, but we got no money and besides, I know not when we shall get our pay.
On Monday we were told that we were to go south this week to Delaware county at a place called Hancock, but we haven’t gone and what is more, I think we we shall not until next week or week after. There is a report that we are to go to Washington from here within two weeks. Lissy, there are between six and seven hundred men on the grounds. This falls short of a regiment. Consequently the Colonel has consolidated our regiment with another from the south part of the state. We are to meet them somewhere but where, I am unable to say.
My dear Lissy, I have been deceived and if I had known as much about soldiering as I now do, I should not have enlisted. But I have been mustered into service and have been examined and pronounced sound by the doctor and therefore, I am fast. But my loved one, I am going to make the best of it I can. O Lissy, how well I do love to peruse your letter. I wish that I might hear from one so dear to me—one whom I so dearly love every day—but this cannot be.
Lissy, in reference to our barracks, there are three of them and you may imagine how well I enjoy being in one where there are two hundred men of all description quartered in a temporary building with but one door and no window except one in the top of the building among the Dutch [German], Irish &c. &c. Our beds are straw with one of those woolen blankets for a covering. And my dear, you know how well I like to have those blankets touch my skin in the condition I am now in for I think my itching is worse than when I left home. I have taken that saltpetre every morning since I left home and will continue taking it. I have not bathed since I have been here. It will probably be very seldom that I do bathe for when I am in the barracks among so many, it is impossible.
My pet, I am glad that you got some medicine for Mira. I do hope it will cure her. How well I would love to see her but not as well as I would like to see her mother. Lissy, you don’t know how much I miss you and of the number of hours I have lain awake thinking of you and of our little sis. Lizzy, I haven’t followed the line very well as you see from the fact that it was do dark I could not see them.
Lizzy, I am going to write you a long letter on Sunday and as supper is ready, I will close now.
From Everett who loves his dear good wife and daughter. Lissy, write me as often as you can. Take good care of yourself and of Mira for I dearly love you both.
These five diaries belonged to George Washington Kent (1820-1904) who served in the 88th Illinois Infantry during the Civil War. The regiment was organized by Colonel Francis T. Sherman in August 1862 in response to the President’s plea for more volunteers. The regiment was sometimes referred to as the “Second Board of Trade Regiment.” After mustering in on 4 September 1862, they were rushed to Kentucky to pursue Bragg and experienced their first battle at Perryville after only a month in uniform. It would prove to be only the first of many such engagements and the men of the 88th truly grew to become “brothers in arms.” Submitting his resignation after more than two years service with this regiment, Lt. Kent was notably conflicted when he entered the following in his diary on 26 November 1864: “I do not feel very well satisfied to leave the Old 88th [Illinois] and the comrades who have been with me through 23 engagements. So it is—but I leave them with a good deal of regret.”
It appears that when George first enlisted, he was made a sergeant in Co. C of the 88th Illinois. He rose to first sergeant in short order and when the first diary entry was made in March 1864, we find him arriving home in Gridley, Illinois, at the start of a furlough, just before receiving his commission as a First Lieutenant in Co. B, 88th Illinois Infantry. [Note: I cannot find any evidence that Lt. Kent was ever promoted to a captain though he clearly acted as the captain from time to time in the absence of Capt. John H. Merrill.]
Together, these five diaries cover the period from 1 March 1864 through 1 December 1864. Sadly, there is a large gap in the record between 16 April and 2 August when the regiment participated on the Atlanta Campaign as part of Howard’s 4th Corps. Lt. Kent resigned his commission just before they turned back Hood’s desperate attempt to take back Nashville. I have not yet confirmed the location of the original diaries though they may be housed in the Gridley Public Library who has photographs of Lt. Kent and the sword he carried. I also do not know if other diaries besides these five exist. Copies of these diaries were made available to me by Frederick Kent Thieman who describes himself as the “youngest grandchild of the seventh son” of the veteran soldier. In offering them to me for transcription, he wrote, “I feel compelled to accept your offer to see this account converted to digital media…those times of the Civil War were difficult for all—soldiers and families. I appreciate your passion and effort to tell those ‘spared & shared’ stories on Facebook.”
George was born on 1 June 1820, the son of Moses and Martha (Farnsworth) Kent of Boston, Massachusetts. On 5 March 1843, he married Mary Paul (1824-1903) in Massachusetts. Between 1844 and 1871, the couple had at least nine children—seven of them boys. The oldest son, George Boynton Kent (1844-1861) did not live to see his 18th birthday [“Georgie” is mentioned in Kent’s diary entry for 4 September 1864]. The second oldest son, Theodore Farnsworth Kent (1846-1887), entered the service with his father in Co. C, 88th Illinois Infantry, as a drummer boy but was discharged not long after for disability.
At the time of the Civil War, George W. Kent was residing in Gridley—a promising little village in McLean county sited on the newly laid Alton & Springfield Railroad in central Illinois. Kent has been identified as one of the co-founders of Gridley where he was credited for having built the area’s first grain elevator and started the Kent Lumber Company. After his service in the Union army. Kent returned to Gridley where he prospered in the lumber industry.
[Note: Copies of these diaries are possessed by Frederick Kent Thieman and are published here by express consent.]
TRANSCRIPTION DIARY ONE
(March 1 through April 16, 1864)
Wednesday, March 1 —Arrived at Indianapolis at 3 a.m. Not a bed to [be] had in the city. had to sleep on a trunk in the Spencer House. The 57th, 40th & 12th Indiana are in town and are having a good time generally. Bought some clothes off a Jew. Left at 11:30 for Reynolds. Stopped 30 minutes at Lafayette. Left my valise. Sent for it from Reynolds by a man who was kind enough to send it on for me. Arrived at Reynolds at 4 p. m. Had a very good supper. Left on freight [train] for the state line. Got there at 7 p.m.
March 3 —Left at 6 a.m. Arrived at Gridley at 12 M. All very glad to see me. Took them all by surprise. It seemed very pleasant to get home again. Found all the folks very well and in good spirits. All things looked pretty well—quite as well as I expected. Weather mild and pleasant.
Friday, March 4, —Spent most of the day visiting about town. Day passed very pleasantly. In the evening we were taken by surprise by a party of ladies & gentlemen who came well prepared to stay. Had a very pleasant evening and had a fine super. Separated about 2 a.m.
Saturday, March 5 —Spend the day tinkering about the house and seeing the folks.
March 6 —Went to church for the first time for 19 months. House was full.
March 7 —Stayed about home all day. Rather cool.
March 8 —Trimmed part of the trees but did not work very hard.
Wednesday, March 9 —Stayed at home all day. Cool and pleasant.
March 10 —Went to Chicago at ______ I saw Warren Fales. Visit there. Arrived at Chicago at 9:20 p.m. Raining very hard. Had a good oyster supper. Stopped at the Union House.
Friday, March 11 —Saw Lt. Chester, Tommy Carrigan, John Bartlett, M___ Nelson and a good many other old friends. The day was wet and stormy but it passed off very pleasantly. Mr. C. C. B. Holden gave me a pass down the Central. Stopped at Clifton House. Arrived at 12:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 12 —Called on Mr. Kingman, Caswell, and Kellee. Shedon and some others. Rob Crawford came on the train. I peeped him on and brought him along with me to Gridley.
March 13th —Stormy and cold. None of us went out much. Today rather dull for all of us including Robert.
Monday, March 14th —Started for Bloomington via El Paso. It has grown very much. Arrived at Bloomington at 5 p. m. just in time for dress parade of the 33rd Illinois who have just returned from Texas. They had a grand reception and dinner at Phoenix Hall, and a sociable in the evening. Had a very pleasant time. Everybody seemed to enjoy themselves.
Tuesday, March 15 —Went to Dr. G___ and had a splinter out of my thumb. Ws under the influence of chloroform for the first time. Came up to Pleasant Hill. Found all the folks well. Spent the evening at Milton Smith’s. Had a very pleasant time.
Wednesday, March 16 —Went to _____ ______ that we had to wait at ____ for 6 hours. John Nuttie and Wm. McCracken came up with me. Had a very pleasant visit.
March 17 —Cool wind but very muddy. J. Nuttie left for Boston today.
Friday, March 18 —Clear and cold. The frost has not left the [ground]. West winds today. The wind blows very hard indeed.
[March] 19th —Clear & very cold. Ground frozen hard. I feel the cold very much.
[March] 20 —Very window and cold, went to Chenoa [McLean county] for place. It was not done.
Wednesday [March] 23 —Arrived in Chicago at 6 a.m. Found my sash & belt at the Union House. Borrowed $50 off Murray, Nelson __, Chicago. Found goods very dear. Saw Ed. Cunningham. Found that my box was put in the Express Office at Nashville, Tennessee. Spent the evening with Col. & Mag Speeman. Left Chicago at 9:30 p. m. Arrived home at 3:30 a.m.
Thursday, March 24 —Mild and pleasant. Mrs. Kent is 40 years old today. It seems but little white since she was beside of 19. Worked about the house until 3 p.m. Then went down to the Martin’s to tea. Spent the evening at Thomas Houghton’s until 9 p.m. Paid Dr. Stockwell & Sam Locke.
Friday, March 25 —Warm and wet. Worked about the house in the a.m. Spent most of the p.m. about town and at Mr. Martin’s.
[March] 26th —Very pleasant and warm. Began to get my things together for a straight to Dixie. I begin to feel as if I should like to stay at home.
Sunday, March 27 —No meeting today on account of Isaac Houghton having the small pox. Very unfortunate.
[March] 28 —Started for Dixie. Mrs. Kent & children went as far as Chatsworth with me. Very glad of their company. Arrived at Reynolds at 5 p.m. OK
Tuesday, March 29 —Left Reynolds at 5 a.m. Arrived at Lafayette at 7:10. Laid over 3 hours. Arrived at Indianapolis at 5 p.m. Met Col. Shee____ on the cars and Father, Mother & Brother. Had a very pleasant trip. Left at 9:15. Arrived at Jeffersonville at 8 a.m. too late for train.
Wednesday, March 30 —Went to the Taylor Barracks with the 57th Illinois. It is a very good camp with good quarters, _____ and ____, with good stoves. Weather cool and cloudy. Went up to the U. S. Hotel so as to be near the Depot in the morning. A good house but high prices.
Thursday, April 1st —Left Louisville for Nashville at 7:30 a.m. Had a good trip in company with Lt. in the 4th Michigan Cavalry. Arrived at Nashville at 7 p.m. Put up at the Commercial House—a very fine house but with high prices as usual. Spent the evening with Ex Lt. Col. [Alexander Scammel] Chadbourne and Capt. Sheridan.
Friday, April 2nd —Saw Oscar Kent, Co. B, 25th Michigan. Well and hearty. Visited Mr. George Duey and family. All well. Had a very pleasant visit. Saw James Clark. He is about the same. Also Lt. [William F.] Sutherland, [Co. I] 36th Illinois [and] Col. [Francis Trowbridge] Sherman. The 51st Illinois came up this morning. We left Nashville at 4 p.m.
Saturday, April 3rd —Arrived at Chattanooga at 12:30 p.m. Put up at the Central House—a very hard place. $2.75 per day. Business seems lively here. General Stedman in command of the post. Ordered that all privates wearing officers clothing should have it taken off by the provost guard. Phil Beaubien [of Co. I] lost his vest but I got it for him again.
Sunday, April 4th —Left Chattanooga at 7:30 a.m. Arrived at Cleveland at 11 a.m. The train went no farther on account of reports that guerrillas were about. Cleveland is a very pretty town and must have been a very nice place before the war. Col. [Francis T.] Sherman, John Grombuey and I stopped at the house of a widow and found very comfortable quarters. Indeed, everything is very neat and a great abundance of flowers about the house & garden in bloom. Col. [Francis T.] Sherman paid my bill. The landlady has a sister and two daughters aged 10 & 16 with her and boards 3 clerks from some of the departments in order to get food for her family.
[Note: Somewhere in here, Lt. Kent screwed up the dates of his calendar which he corrected on April 7th]
Monday, April 5th [April 4th 1864]—Left Cleveland at 10 a.m. Had 4 ladies and 8 or 10 gents in the car which was loaded with sugar, coffee, candles, &c. for Loudon. Arrived at Loudon 3:30 p.m. Had a heavy shower. On arrival went over to camp in an ambulance. Sent to Col. [Francis T.] Sherman by Gen. [George D.] Wagner. Very glad to get back to camp having been 8 days on the way.
Tuesday, April 6th [April 5th 1864]—Received my commission as 1st Lt. this morning from Adj. [Richard] Realf. Went to Loudon and was mustered by Capt. C[harles] O. Howard of 18th Regt. Regulars—a very gentlemanly officer. Very glad to get my promotion as it has been a good while coming. Weather cool and roads muddy.
Wednesday, April 7th [April 6th 1864]—Ordered to take command of Co. B by Lt. Col. [George W.] Chandler and went on Battalion Drill as a company commander for the first time. Got along very well considering that I have only drilled but once for 10 months. Mild and pleasant. Wrote home and sent to Mrs. Kent $10.
Thursday, April 7th —The whole regiment was out on police duty today and the whole regimental grounds cleaned up. They were quite dirty. The look very well now. Had no drill today.
April 8th 1864—Co. Drill this a.m. Battalion drill this p.m. Sent a certificate to Dougal & Stuart, Chariton, Iowa, that Joseph Owen was a member of Co. B [should be “C”], 88th Illinois. Isbestee parted and settled the clothing account book. My mustered-in papers came back today so that I am a full Lieutenant now. A heavy shower with thunder and lightning.
April 9th —Saturday. Went on picket with 57 privates, 9 corporals, 7 sergeant. Relieved the 2nd Missouri. Examined the whole line of sentinels, and find them very far apart in places. Capt. [Dean R.] Chester [of Co. G was] officer of the picket. Had a shower in the p.m. Rained some all night but not hard.
Sunday, April 10th 1864—Was relieved by Lt. Arend, Co. H, 2nd Missouri at 7:30. Raining a little but cleared off in the a.m. and was pleasant the rest of the day. Dress parade at 4:30.
April 11 —Company drill in a.m. A short Battalion drill in p.m. Pleasant but windy. The 36th men sent to their regiment.
Tuesday April 12th 1864—Warm & pleasant. Co. & Battalion drill. Dress parade was over in time to escape a very heavy shower. Drew clothing and had some pants and drawers left over. For the first time, the men are well supplied with clothing. Spent the evening with Capt. [Henry H.] Cushing [of Co. C], Chester Smith & Co., at Cushing’s quarters.
Wednesday, April 13th —Very pleasant. Saw L. Martin. Looks a little better but still not very well. Wrote home. Sent $10 to Mrs. Kent. Had an apple pudding of Sam Simpson’s best kind. Was very nice. Had a Battalion drill but no dress parade. Received a letter from home—the first word I had heard since I left.
Thursday, April 14, 1864—Wrote home. Sent $10 to Mrs. Kent and Rob. Crawford’s photograph & $20. Wrote to Col. Chadbourne at Nashville about the package that I sent by Mrs. Cunningham that has not yet come to hand. Sent the Col. $10 that I borrowed of him when I came through on my way to camp. Company and Battalion drill.
Friday, April 15, 1864—Cool and cloudy. Quite so for the season. Company drill (skirmish). Battalion drill in the p.m. & dress parade by Maj. [George W.] Smith.
Saturday, April 16th —Quite cool. Had all the regimental grounds policed under the direction of Capt. [Levi] Holden and myself. Ordered to be ready to march on Monday with 3 days rations. Orders came a little while ago to march tomorrow (Sunday) morning. The whole camp is in a bustle preparing to move. The boys never had so much food & clothing on hand before. Some of it will have to be left behind. We all feel sorry to leave so comfortable quarters. We do not know where we are to go.
TRANSCRIPTION DIARY TWO
(August 2 through August 31, 1864)
Tuesday, August 2nd 1864—Moved camp last night 4 miles to the left which brought us nearly to the extreme left of our army. The country here is entirely cut up with rifle pits and breastworks. They run in every direction and all very strong. Can see the houses in Atlanta very plain. Also the rebel works and the soldiers upon them. They do not fire much. Weather cool & pleasant. There is a fine house near our camp said to belong to a son of Joseph E. Johnston. It is a very fine one indeed. It is one of the best houses I have seen in the South. Some men seem to be vandals. Some could not resist the temptation to break and destroy property that is no manner of use to them but seem to take savage pleasure in breaking something. I should liked to have seen that house before this cursed war broke out when the owner & his family lived in peace and proverbial Southern hospitality, when guests were plenty, when beaus, men, & fair ladies graced this fine mansion, when light feet tripped the light fantastic toe, and the rose vine graced the festive board. But those days have gone by. The rooms are deserted and only straggling soldiers are seen in its lonely halls.
Wednesday, August 3rd 1864—Very warm today. Still in the place where we were Tuesday night. Part of Atlanta is in sight of the camp—some very good houses. It is quiet on the lines except the pickets. They won’t keep quiet. At 3 p.m. we were ordered to stand under arms. There were 50 men out of the 88th [Illinois] sent to support the pickets who had a sharp skirmish but it [did] not amount to anything that I can hear of.
Thursday, August 4th 1864—All quiet today except artillery on the extreme right. Our lines must nearly surround the city by the sound of the guns and shells [that] explode in the city every day. We moved the length of one brigade to the left and are in a very good place indeed. Gen. [Nathan] Kimball is to leave us, I hear, and is assigned to the command of the 1st Division, 4th Corps.
Friday, August 5th 1864—Warm & pleasant. The boys are very busy fixing up the tents and making them very comfortable & convenient. They are stripping that fine house near the camp.
Saturday, August 6th 1864—We went out to the picket at 7 a.m. to support the 44th whose skirmishers had been driven [in]. After a sharp skirmish of about an hour, we drove them back again. We lost one killed [and] one wounded out of the 38th Illinois. Took one prisoner from the 29th Tennessee. We (B & K Companies) remained until 2 p.m. near the ruins of a very fine brick house that did not look as if it had been quite finished when it was burned. It was very substantial and well finished. We returned at 5 p.m. and remained on picket all night. Co. B were by themselves at the works the rebs took in the a.m.
Sunday, August 7th 1864—Very pleasant after the rain last night. Returned to camp at 7 a.m. It seems a little like Sunday today. There was preaching in the 74th [Illinois]. Col. [Samuel “Emerson”] Opdyke [of the] 125th Ohio, was assigned to the command of our brigade yesterday in place of Gen. [Nathan] Kimball [who was] assigned the command of the 1st Division, 4th Army Corps. He looks like a very good man but I do not know anything about him.
Monday, August 8th 1864—The wagons came up with valises and gave us a chance to get some clean clothes. All quiet today.
Tuesday, August 9th 1864—Has rained a good dal today but our camp does not get muddy as it slopes a little. Sent Theodore a paper noting the death of Josiah Field.
Wednesday. August 10th 1864—This is the last day of this campaign and I cannot see the end yet but I suppose it will come. Received a letter from home and Mrs. Green. Answered Mrs. Green’s. It was a very good one. There has been heavy firing on the right this p.m. Rained this p.m. Got my tent “fixed” up today.
Thursday, August 11th 1864—Dull and cloudy. Gen. Sherman kept his “big guns” agoing almost all last night throwing shells into Atlanta. There was some heavy musketry and that is about all there is today. We heard that our fleet had taken two forts and 3 gunboats at the mouth of the Alabama river 10 miles from Mobile.
Friday, August 12th 1864—Warm & pleasant. I have been mending old clothes most all day. The 74th [Illinois] and 2 other regiments have gone out to make a reconnoissance. 1 man killed out of 74th & one wounded of 36th.
Saturday, August 13th 1864—Pleasant today. “Dan” brought in a fine lot of green corn. It is a treat to get green vegetables. They are hard to get. Had letters from Mother & Otis Putney and from Samuel. Answered them all. Artillery opened along the whole line and was kept up until morning. [Eli] Washburn of Co. G [a private from Decatur, Ill.] was mortally wounded by a piece of a shell. The men kept close in the traverses. No one else was hurt in our regiment. Was one in 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry. The rebel battery in front of ours put a good many shells very close—right in our camp. Made us hug the ground very close.
Sunday, August 14th 1864—War & pleasant today. I should like very much to spend the day with the loved ones at home instead of the camp. It would be much more pleasant. Only 8 men were out on inspection today. Maj. [Levi P.] Holden was inspector. Except [for] some heavy cannonading on the right, it has been quiet today.
Monday, August 15th 1864—Warm and pleasant. All quiet today along the lines.
Tuesday, [August] 16th —Very warm today. Considerable artillery firing today. Moved our brigade about ½ a mile to the left on an open space by the side of the Atlanta road where cavalry had been camped.
Wednesday, August 17th —Regiment went on picket today out near the burned house. The 36th went out in the p.m. to reconnoiter. Was gone about 2 hours. Orders came to send all the sick to the rear. A good deal of firing in Woods Division as usual. They are a noisy set.
Thursday, August 18th 1864—Warm this morning. Regiment came in from picket about 7 o’clock. Maxwell of Co. A, Greiner of Co. D, & Clacy of Co. G went out foraging last Monday with four mules [and] have not yet returned. I suppose they are “gobbled.” It is too bad but cannot be helped now. Brigade inspection today by Brigade inspector. 11 men out.
Friday, August 19th 1864—The whole brigade was called up into line of battle at 4 this morning and at 5 went out to the picket line. Remained in the breastworks all day. Came in after dark. Very heavy musketry in front of Woods’ Division at times all day. Sent in my resignation today. I hope it will be accepted.
Saturday, August 20th 1864—Cool & cloudy. Very quiet this morning. My resignation did not go from the regiment until this a.m. Chance Simpson Flacy & M. Bolton came up today. They were attacked by Wheeler’s men. Lost their baggage & a good many cattle. Received letter from home & from Margaret. Answered both of them. The 90th Ohio captured 8 prisoners. Lost 3 men.
Sunday, August 21st 1864—Cool & cloudy. It seems like Sunday today. It is quiet. Wrote to Mr. Anderson today. Very rainy this p.m. and evening and first part of the night. Inspection this a.m. 11 men out. Guns looked very well. It has been very quiet all day.
Monday, August 22nd 1864—Cloudy & cool this a.m. I went on picket with a detail from the 88th of 30 privates & 5 men command. Was on the left wing on an open field. All very quiet. There is a house just outside the line said to be occupied by an old couple. Relieved Lt. B___. Was not much to do. Was rather lonesome. Relieved at 7:30 by Captain [Daniel E.] Barnard.
Tuesday, August 23 —Warm & pleasant. We are strengthening the works in front of us, putting in palisades, abattis, head logs, &c. making it almost impregnable as the Johnnies will find to their cost if they attempt to take it. Some firing on the picket line in front of Woods’ Division as usual.
Wednesday, August 24 —Warm & pleasant. Very quiet this morning. A large detail has gone out on fatigue duty I suppose to build breastworks on the extreme left. Had letter from home. Answered it. Capt. [John W.] Chickering [of Co. f] returned from Bridgeport [Alabama] this p.m. with our books and supplies. We were very glad to get them. We needed the pickles badly. They will do us all good. The milk also.
Thursday. August 25th 1864—Clear & warm. Very quiet. Ordered to be ready to move at a moments notice. Marched at dark towards the right, crossed the railroad 3½ miles from Vinings. Went into camp at 4:30 a.m. All very tired. Marched about 10 miles.
Friday, August 26th 1864—Warm & clear. Ordered to march at 8. Marched about a mile and built some rail breastworks to protect the left flank near a nice white house but before we finished them, we had orders to leave and go to the right. We marched very fast for about two hours. The heat was very great and the men fell out by scores. We had about 20 men in the regiment [and] about 100 in the brigade. Rested and hour. A good many come up. We also had a fine shower that cooled the air. We got along better in the p.m. The rebels followed our skirmishers very close and I think captured some. They started as soon as we left. The country is better settled than most of the country we have psased through. We passed the 16th, 17th, 14th, and 15th [Army Corps], I think. The 4th Corps is now on the extreme right. Went into a camp on a hill in the woods near a deep, rapid creek with a fine meadow in the rear of it with good grazing for the mules.
Saturday, August 27th 1864—Clear & cool. Had a light shower early this morning. Orders to march at 8. It seems good to get away from breastworks & forts and out of the sound of picket firing. It was very quiet last night. I slept very sound. I was very tired indeed. we marched at 2 p.m. Went about 7 miles through a very good cultivated country. Marched until 9 p.m. All the regiment but Co. F & A went out on picket on a hill in a piece of wood. Got ready to go to sleep about 11 p.m. The pioneers axes were at work all night lively, but was mostly quiet all night except a little firing on the left.
Sunday, August 28th 1864—It is all quiet except the axes of the pioneers. Warm and pleasant. Had letter from McGregor,Crawford, Howard, & Pinagre. We were taken off picket at 2 p.m. and marched about 5 miles and camped in a thick young growth of timber where I made my bed of leaves at the foot of a tree as usual. The boys went out and got a good supply of corn & beans. Ballard got some chickens and invited me to take dinner with him. Had a good dinner. Corn & beans are plenty in camp today. It will do the men a good deal of good. They need vegetables very much. It is reported that our troops occupy Atlanta but I doubt it very much—but hope it is true.
Monday, August 29th —The Democratic [Nominating] Committee meets in Chicago. We shall now soon know who is to be the other candidate for Presidency. Warm & pleasant. We moved about ½ a mile from camp on the side of a hill. Remained all day resting. Very quiet all day. I hear that the 14th Corps are destroying the Atlanta & Montgomery Railroad which is about 2½ miles south from here. No news of any consequence today. The boys have plenty of corn and beans which they have been needing very much indeed. We have plenty of rations but no vegetables and men cannot be healthy without them.
Tuesday, August 30th 1864—Clear & warm. Orders to march at 6 a.m. 88th [Illinois] deployed as skirmishers and as usual got into a mess. After marching about 4 miles, we found the rebels. Co. D captured one and killed one. Another mile and we had a hot skirmish for nearly an hour. The 44th Illinois came up and we charged across an open field but they had gone. We came out of the woods to a farm and built breastworks. Co. C built in front of them with bales of cotton. The buildings here are very good and a very fine garden. None of our men were hurt that I know of. They got a good many apples and some chickens. There is a good deal of sorghum raised in this vicinity. It grows very well and the farmers must make a good deal of sugar. The country is nearly level. The soil sandy but fruit trees grow very thrift and I should think would bear very well. Forage is very plenty and the boys make the most of it.
Wednesday, August 31st 1864—Had a skirmish for about an hour 7 miles from Eastpoint & 3 from the Macon river.
TRANSCRIPTION DIARY THREE
(August 31-September 24, 1864)
Diary of George W. Kent, 88th Illinois, commenced August 31st 1864, 16 miles S.W. of Atlanta, Ga. in the road behind breastworks of rails & cotton bales and finished in camp 1½ miles East of Atlanta, Ga. September 24, 1864
Wednesday, August 31 —Cloudy. All hands at work strengthening the breastworks until noon when we followed the 23rd Corps out and marched about 4 miles and camped in the woods. We passed some breastworks that were very strong but they were flanked out of them. The country here is nearly level and good. Our troops reached and destroyed part of the Macon Railroad.
Thursday, September 1st —Today is my Father & Mother’s birthday. Mother is 73 years old and if Father had lived, he would have been 71. Heavy cannonading on our left this morning—supposed to be Howard. Marched at 7 a.m. Struck the railroad in 3 miles march near Rough & Ready Station. Commenced destroying the road and as far as we did go. We did the work thoroughly. Not one rail in 70 will be fit to lay until it is rolled & much of it entirely worthless. Most all the rails are bent and twisted. There is a good deal of cannonading on the right. There is a good many farms where we have been today. About 5 p.m. we filed off to the left of the railroad and marched about two miles through the woods and support a [regiment]. Charged across an open field. We did not fire a shot but we were under a hot fire. Logan of Co. D was killed. We then camped in a field near the woods and put up rail works.
Friday, September 2nd 1864—Some firing this morning. Marched to Jonesboro 1½ miles. It is a very nice town of about a 100 houses and the nicest little village church that I have seen south of the Ohio river. It stands on a green lawn well covered with trees. There are some very good buildings, hotels & stores, mills & the ruins of a fine stone depot. The country is pretty well cleared and many good farms. It is a very good part of the country. Passed a small still for making apple & peach brandy, Our skirmishers struck the rebels about 1 p.m. Had some artillery dueling. Went into line of battle and remained until dark. Then built rail works.
Saturday, September 3rd 1864—Wet & rainy. Official information had been read that Hood’s troops evacuated Atlanta early yesterday morning after destroying 80 carloads of ammunition and large quantities of stores & supplies. Gen. Sherman is a great military leader and has accomplished a great deal this campaign which has been conducted with great ability by Generals Johnson & Hood. It is just four months today since the army left Chattanooga & Cleveland [Tennessee]. The railroad is thoroughly destroyed from East Point to this place near Lovejoy Station. Went on picket. Relieved the 24th Wisconsin. I had a good sheltered place on the side of a hill. In charge of 3 posts & 18 men. Firing was very heavy along the line. Heavy artillery firing all along the line.
Sunday, September 4th —It is just 3 years today since Georgie left us. It does not seem so long. We still grieve for him/ Two years today the 88th [Illinois] left Chicago with 876 men. Now we have 130—a small remnant of a gallant regiment. Many a brave man lies in a soldier’s grave. There are but few left now. Cloudy and dark last night. Was as dark as it could well be. It was almost impossible to find the posts. Relieved by the 44th Illinois. Came in to their place in camp. All right. Maxwell [of] Co. A was killed. No one else was hurt in the regiment. Letters from home—L_____, S____, Freed.
Monday, September 5th —The draft for 500,000 men comes off today. I hope they will send them into the field at once. Wrote home. Marched at 7:30 in the rain & mud. It was the hardest march I had. The mud was 2 to 6 inches deep and very slippery. The road was rough and the night very dark & cloudy. Fell back about 6 miles toward Atlanta. Our troops were burning cotton at Jonesboro as we came through town. It seemed too bad to destroy it when it is so dear. We are in camp now very near the battleground of the 1st.
Tuesday, September 6th —Moved back a few rods into the woods and put up breastworks. Remained all day.
Wednesday, September 7th —Marched 7 a.m. about 8 miles and camped on the side of a hill in a cane field. There is a small field of cotton but it is a very good crop. There is a most elegant tree all covered with scarlet flowers. It is the most beautiful thing I ever saw. It is called the crepe myrtle. The wood is like the Sycamore and is about 9 feet high. The farm is one of the best I have seen in the South. The soil is very light and rich and easy to work.
Friday, September 9th —Marched at 7 but did not get far away from camp until 9. The road was very good and passed some very good farms—most all deserted but not very badly injured. As ew approached the city (Atlanta), the houses began to get thicker and better. It is pleasanter on the south side of town than on the north. It is not so badly injured as I expected to find it. A good many women and children remain. The large depot of the Augusta Railroad was set on fire and destroyed. Four engines and about 100 cars loaded [with] arms and ammunition and stores and a good deal of other property. Shot, shells of various kinds, were lying about the depot in great abundance. It is a very nice city and contains many fine houses and other buildings. The 20th Army Corps is in the city now. They put on a good deal style.
Saturday, September 10th 1864—Clear & cool. Wrote to Frank. Sent paper and magazine yesterday. Wrote to Mother & Margaret. Sent $2. All quiet except the boys are cleaning up & fixing up their tents and getting ready for inspection tomorrow. We expect to move to the left on Monday to connect with the 23rd [Army] Corps. Recommend the following names for promotion. For sergeant, J. W. Stoufer; for captain, Wm. Ishester; for captain, Oscar Humphrey; for captain, Wm. R. Burrell; for captain, A. Chance; for captain, Eli A. Graves.
Sunday, September 11, 1864—Clear & warm Companies B and F have been consolidated for company and battalion movements, picket, & fatigue duty, but in all other respects they will be a separate command. Were out on inspection today with 30 men. Gen. Sherman will grant furloughs.
Monday, September 12th 1864—Enlarged our camp and moved Co. B’s tents to the right of the regiment. I do not like to be shifted about so much. We have a very nice camp indeed. The ground is dry & sloping. The streets wide and roomy. There is a good deal of ground for policing and it must be kept as clean as possible.
Tuesday, September 13 —Clear & cool. My books have come and now for 1 week there is a good deal to do.
Wednesday, [September] 14th —The 88th [Illinois] went as guard to a forage team. Did not see any rebs. Loaded all the wagons with corn and fodder. The boys got a few potatoes and sweet pumpkins and a little corn that was soft enough to boil. The country was not very well settled where we went.
Thursday, September 15th —Clear & warm. Making out pay rolls as fast as possible. The pay master is here and we want some money very much. Had Brigade inspection. The men and their equipment looks very well indeed. All hands very busy cleaning up camp and making tents comfortable.
Friday, September 16th —Clear and cool. Last night is the coolest night we have had yet. I could not get warm but I will have more bed clothes tonight. Rowlands [and] I went over to the 14th Corps. Also took a ramble through town. There are a good many fine buildings in the city in the business part of it. Also a good many very fine residences and like southern houses, have large yards & trees and shrubbery about them which gives them a very pleasant appearance indeed. The Railroad building are in good condition and are very large and commodious. The hotels large and fair looking as usual. There have been a good many very good houses pulled down by the soldiers to fix up their tents with. The 14th [Army] Corps lies on the Macon Railroad about 1½ miles from town. They have a very nice camp. We had a very pleasant visit to Capt. John [M.] Cosgrove, Co. B, 1st Wisconsin Vols. The non-veterans start for home to be mustered out of the service. Most all the officers have to remain in the service. Wrote to Th___. Got back to camp about 10 p.m.
Saturday, September 17th —Cool & pleasant. The nights are getting quite cool. Orders have just been issued that the men can have Saturday to wash and clean themselves and their equipments so as to appear well on Sunday inspection.
Sunday, September 18 —Rainy nearly all day. Was Officer of the Day but did not have much to do. It has been quite like Sunday today.
Monday, September 19 —Had officer’s drill at Col. [Emerson] Opdykes headquarters. He is very anxious to have this brigade a model one. Received letter from Miss Graves. Answered it. Wrote to Jack Freede.
Tuesday, September 20th —This is the morning of the Battle of Chickamauga when Sgt. [Laban] Manning [of Co. C] and a good many other brave men [died] in defense of their country and flag. Had an inspection of the division by Maj. General [David Sloan] Stanley. The troops looked very well indeed. It rained a little but none to hard. Dr. [William P.] Pierce inspected the camp [and] reported it in good condition.
Wednesday, September 21st 1864—Cloudy with some rain. Rained a good deal in the night. Some infernal scamp stole my jacket, pants, and sash out of my tent last night. It is all the good clothes I have & I don’t like to lose them. The sash was a very fine one and it is a pity to lose it. Went down to the 129th Illinois. Saw the Jewett boys. All well, Rained very hard on the way home.
Thursday, September 22 —Wet and rainy. Officer’s rill this morning. Col. [Emerson] Opdykeput us through the rudiments of drill which made us very much disgusted. it is insulting to us before our men. It has rained most all day and still raining. Capt. Tilton was over to see me today. Looks well and hearty. We sent in a petition to quit officer’s drill.
Friday, September 23rd 1864—Warm & cloudy. Went to town [Atlanta] to try and get trace of my clothes but could not. I found Pat Barrett and spent the day as his guest. Stopped at the Atlanta House. Fare not very good but a very good bed but I could not sleep at all. It is so long since I slept on a bed I could not get to sleep, It was too good. I could have slept better on the ground outdoors with a blanket over me. The railroad buildings in the city are of the very best kind—large and convenient. The round house has 42 stalls for engines. The freight houses are very large and convenient & very substantial. There is a beautiful park near the Georgia Depot now occupied by the 111th Pennsylvania Volunteers. It is too bad to put soldiers in such a nice a place. The machine shops were very much injured by our shells. I think they were hit more than 200 times. They looked badly used up in places.
Saturday, September 24th —Arrived in camp about 8 this morning ok. Received a letter from home. Shall answer it by Mr. [Absolom] Chance [of Co. C.] who goes to Gridley direct. I send a few odds & ends by him but nothing was valuable. I hope he will have a pleasant visit & find his family all well.
TRANSCRIPTION DIARY FOUR
(September 25-November 1, 1864)
Sunday, September 25 —Cool & pleasant. Had regimental review & inspection. Very good. Our baggage has come up from Bridgeport. We need our blankets very much but we shall not get them just now as we are ordered to Chattanooga at once. We left camp at 11:30 and each brigade filled a train. We left at 3:30 and passed over some of our fighting ground. It looked quite lonesome & quiet to what it did when we were there. We were started off in a great hurry and left our comfortable & convenient camp. We had got it into good order. Our baggage is all left behind with some guards with it.
Monday, September 26th —We were on the cars all night and rather uncomfortable all piled up in a heap, thick as 3 cats in a sack. Arrived in Chattanooga at 3 p.m. Camped in a vineyard northeast of Fort Sheridan about 8- rods. I went up to see Sgt. Lewis. Found him very comfortable. His wife is with him. He looks as we as I could expected to see him. He will get along now that he has his wife with him. She is a very pleasant woman. This city does not look as it did one year ago today. Then we were all at work like beavers fatiguing and living on half rations. Now everything goes on smooth and systematically, and everything in great abundance. Ed Stomp came to see us to some purpose. We had not drawn rations. He sent half a box of crackers and a bag of onions. I went down with him to the Sanitary [Commission] rooms and had a fine supper and I was in need of it. I had not fared very high during the day and was hungry. The 3rd Brogasde has gone to Bridgeport. Part of the 2nd is on duty here.
Tuesday, September 27th —Warm & pleasant. No orders yet to move. At 1 p.m. we moved to Fort Lytle and camped. The 44th Illinois went to the shebangs of the 14th U. S. C. T. [U. S. Colored Troops] and began to pull them down. The darkies rallied and charged on them and drove them off the grounds. They went back without their ____. Wrote home to Mary. In the evening I went to a concert with Lieut. [Albion G.] Burnap. I was very much surprised to find so good a companyso well dressed. The ladies were very good looking and young. The music was very good and altogether it was a very pleasant place to spend an evening and I enjoyed it very much. At 9 p.m. we got orders to be at the cars at 8 a.m. tomorrow for Whiteside.
Wednesday, September 28th —Left Chattanooga in a box car. Arrived at Whiteside without accident at 11:30 a.m. Relieved part of the 68th New York. They have been here 5 months. If we can stay as long, it will take a good part of the time we have to serve. I do not like the place very much. It looks lonesome but most of the officers and men do like the place very much. It is a valley enriched with hills very steep & high. The block house No. 45 that we are in is fixed for 30 muskets. We have 10 days rations on hand and about 200 rounds of ammunition to a man, 2 kegs of powder, and a good well under the floor. Lieut. McMinty and myself have a very nice room to ourselves. It seems very close to sleep in a house. I had rather sleep out-of-doors. The troops that are relieved are the dirtiest that I ever saw. It does not seem possible that men would be permitted to remain so filthy. They are mostly Dutch. One company of the First Ohio still remain. They go the 4th of next month.
Thursday. September 29th 1864—Cloudy this morning wth showers all day. Our baggage all came up today and Co. B got all their baggage that they had back in the rear. Teams do not run regularly yet. The mess got their dining room so as to go into it at supper tonight.
Friday, September 30th 1864—Cool & cloudy. Light shower. A rumor that the rebs are many and may come here but those “scares” are very common. Let them come if they think it best. Write home today. Read answer to the letter sent to Lt. L____ Agt. Three trains loaded with troops went north today.
Saturday, October 1st 1864—Just 2 years ago we left Louisville to follow Gen. Bragg. What changes there has been since that time and what a few there are left of us now out of the large regiment that started with us then. Two years of hard service and 14 battles have made sad work with our numbers.
Sunday, October 2nd 1864—Wet and rainy. Most all hands are writing to friends. Wrote to G_____.
Tuesday, October 4th —Still wet and rainy. Men busy fixing up tents &c. to be comfortable.
Wednesday, October 5th 1864—Wrote to Haden & Nelson and to Mother. Got orders to march tomorrow morning.
Thursday, October 6th —All hands out early getting ready to move. We do not like the plan of leaving one good place but there is no help for it. SEnt my mess box home by Express. Departed 3:15 [and] arrived at Chattanooga about 4 p.m. very tired. In our old camp again. We may stay a day but cannot tell.
Friday, October 7th 1864—Ordered to march at 8 a.m. The 88th [Illinois] gets no rest. Went to the depot at 9 a.m. Took the cars for Resaca via Cleveland. Abridge is washed away near Ringgold. Cleveland looks very much as it did when we left it the first of May. Two cars got off the track 20 miles below Cleveland. Dr. [Sherman C.] Ferson of the 74th Illinois was killed. Dr. [Henry O.] McPherson of the 73rd was wounded also. Col. [Wallace W.] Barrett of the 44th Illinois and 4 or 5 enlisted men, I think, is mortally. We arrived at Resaca at 8 p.m. Camped a few rods west of the railroad. The night turned very cool so that it was very difficult to keep warm without tents.
Saturday, October 8th 1864—Took the cars at 11:30. Started for Chattanooga via Cleveland. When about a mile from the depot, 2 cars went off the track and two of Co. F, one [from] Co. A, two [from] Co. D, and 2 [from] Co. G were wounded—all slighlt exceot Capt. King of Co. A whose leg is fractured. Accidents are too common on these railroads here.
Sunday, October 9th —Weather cool & pleasant. Quiet and still. I called to see Sgt. Lewis. He is still improving and his good wife is cheerful as sunlight.
Monday, October 10 1864—All quiet today. Some of the officers have been to Scott, Keen & Co. and spent about $800 for clothing and have not got much neither.
Tuesday, October 11th 1864—Sent my reports of Camp & Garrison Equippage & Clothing to Washington today. Cool & pleasant. Bought a few goods at Scott, Keen & Co. but not much.
Wednesday, October 12th 1864—Cool & pleasant. Very quiet all day. Got me some new clothes on credit. Very bad business but I was in great need.
Thursday, October 13th 1864—Cool & foggy. Had a nice chimney built in my tent. It is very comfortable at night & mornings. Ordered to march at 8 p.m. but it was countermanded and we went to bed.
Friday, October 14th —Cool & cloudy. Quiet all day. It is expected that Dalton has been taken by the rebels.
Saturday, October 15th 1864—Ordered to be at the cars with all our baggage at 12 M. We got away at 6 p.m. Went to Ringgold, laid in the cars until sunrise. Then back to Chattanooga and without leaving the cars started for Bridgeport and were stopped at Whiteside and laid in the cars until morning through a very uncomfortable night.
Monday, October 17th 1864—Left Whiteside at 7 a.m. for Bridgeport. We passed some very strong block houses on the way—one was in the form of a Greek Cross with a 2nd story rising of the square. It was a very fine one. Arrived at Bridgeport at 11 a.m. Saw some old friends from the 51st Illinois. It has changed considerable since we left here 13 months ago. There are two gunboats in the river. I have been on board of the Burnside. She is a very fine boat and very neat. Her hull armament ids 9 guns but has only 5 now. The officer rooms are very clean and comfortable—not much like infantry officers. I called on Mr. Guilford’s family. Found them well and very well situated. Mr. Guilford and 2 sons are in the Quartermaster Department. I intended to dine with them tomorrow if we stay. Stayed at Lieut. Mann’s quarters, 1st Michigan Engineers.
Tuesday, October 18th —Got breakfast at 5 a.m. but did not leave Bridgeport until 10 a.m. Arrived at Chattanooga at 2 p.m. Left then for Lee & Gordon’s Mills at 4 p.m. Did not get into camp until 10 p.m. I was very tired and my feet were sore. The night was cool and uncomfortable, We passed the Chickamauga battleground. All were talking about it. March 12 miles.
Wednesday, October 19th, 1864—Clear & cool. Ordered to march at 8. With cattle, passed through a very fine country indeed. This part of the country does not show the effect of war except there are no men about. Camped at Lafayette, Walker county—a very nice town but the court house and some of the other houses are scarred with bullets. There are but few persons left in the town. 14 miles.
Thursday, October 20th —Marched 5:30 a.m. We passed through one of the finest countries in the world but it does not show the thrift and neatness of New England farms. The boys are living high on pork, mutton, & sweet potatoes. Went into camp at 3 p.m. on the farm of Capt. Gatewood of the C. S. A. It is a very fine farm indeed. This is a mistake, The captain’s farm is on the opposite side of the road.
Friday, October 21st —Cool & foggy. The 88th [Illinois] goes in the rear of cattle. We had a very pleasant march indeed. Went into camp at Alpine and on the spot where [ew] camped last year.
Saturday, October 22 —The 88th [Illinois] went foraging. I went 5 miles to Mill with 23 men & 2 teams. Left part of our wheat. The mill only grinds 20 bushels of wheat per day. We had a good time.
Sunday, October 23rd 1864—Received a letter from Margaret. Wrote to her & Frank. We are having a good rest and getting fat with good living. This is a very rich valley. A lot of officers from the 26th & 48th Illinois Vols. and about 800 men whose term of service had expired passed here today on their way home. They felt very jolly all of them. The men are visiting about the country and enjoy themselves very much and see a good many people that they saw here last year.
Monday, October 24th 1864—Cool and pleasant today. We draw molasses, flour & pork today and a good deal of other forage. Col. Smith & Beck came up. The Col. has got his pay. I wish I had.
Tuesday, October 25 —Very mild and pleasant. Cleaned up camp today and got the tents into regular order. Lt. Griffin’s commission as 1st Lieutenant came today. Lt. McMurty is captain of Co. H.
Wednesday, October 26th 1864—Cool & cloudy. Went to the 57th. They have 200 new recruits and 400 more coming. Wrote home & sent $10 & $1 to Chicago Tribune. Went on picket with 24 privates, 3 corporals, 1 sergeant. Relieved Lt. Wentz. Rained all night.
Thursday, October 27th —Rained part of the day. The 1st & 3rd Divisions came in this p.m. We expect to move in the morning to Chattanooga.
Friday, October 28th 1864—March at 8 a.m. We have had a hard march today. Went 24 miles. Were all very tired. One wagon did not come up so we had no rations [and] no blankets.
Saturday, October 29th 1864—Marched at 6:30. Passed over the ground where Crittenden & Thomas fought September 19th & 20th, 1863. The trees still show the effects of the terrible artillery firing. A very large number are cut off and are scored with canister & bullets. The bodies of most of the Union men are taken to the cemetery at Chattanooga. We camped at Rossville on the same ground we did the night of September 20th, 1863.
Sunday, October 30th 1864—Marched at 6:30 and camped on the Rossville Road just south of the ridge near the old tannery. The pay master came out and paid us 8 months pay. I received $619.87 but I owed so much that it went very quick. My mess bill was about $100 [and] clothing $82. I hope I shall not owe so much next time we get paid. Sent $320 home.
Monday, October 31st 1864—Remained in camp all day. The wagon train has been passing all day going over the mountain. Cool and pleasant. A good many soldiers have gone home. Furloughs are very easy to get now. I have give five [from] Co. B.
Tuesday, November 1, 1864—Marched into Chattanooga and took the cars for Athens. Arrived at 12 midnight. Had a very pleasant trip. The 36th & 88th [Illinois] officers had a car to themselves. It rained almost all night. I had no blanket and was too cold to sleep so I sat up most all night and read one of Margaret’s novels—Newton Foster. Huntsville is a very nice-looking place indeed. Most all the country looks like good farming land but not many farms on the way. 100 miles.
TRANSCRIPTION DIARY FIVE
(November 2-December 1, 1864)
Wednesday, November 2, 1864—Got a poor breakfast and started west to the town of Athens—a nice town once but badly used by troops. The walls of the Court House are all that are left of a very fine building. Some very fine buildings in the town [including] a very nice female seminary. The grounds about it are laid out with a good deal of taste and ornamented with some statues and a good number of conch shells. We marched about 3 miles and went into camp in the woods not far from a creek. Had a wet and cold night.
Thursday. November 3rd 1864—Still wet and rainy. Wrote to Susan Pain. Sent her my likeness. Also one to May and one to Thea. Marched at 2 p.m. Very muddy and a good deal of water in the road. The troops marched the last two hours faster than I ever saw men march. Went into camp just at dark. Marched 8 miles.
Friday, November 4, 1864—Cold & rainy. Marched at 7:30. 5 miles to the river. The land was very hilly. Very few farms. Saw a spring coming out from under a hill that furnished more water than any one I ever saw. Waded across the river. Water was very cold. It was about 200 yards wide. The town of Elkton on this side of the river. It has been a good business town but mostly deserted now. A very good turnpike from Elton to Pulaski.
Saturday, November 5th 1864—Pulaski is a good sized town. Some good stores & houses. Quite a number of fine-looking ladies and children. Made 15 miles. It was so foggy that we could not see much of this town but I think it is a fine town. We marched about 2 miles out of town and camped on the top of a high hill. Very pleasant but rather cool. A fine valley west of us and some fine houses. Wood and water are hard to get up here. Made 7 miles.
Sunday, November 6th 1864—Clear & windy and rather cool. Broke camp and marched through town. Went into camp on the north side of town near a very fine seminary building and cemetery with some very fine marble monuments. One tomb in the form of a house carved entirely of marble including the dome and six shields for epitaphs. It is a fine place for a camp. Several good houses. A beautiful valley in front of our camp, Marched 3 miles.
Monday, November 7th 1864—Went to work on fortifications near the seminary. Pulled down some horse shed belong to the 12th Tennessee Cavalry and shanties to get lumber for the breastworks but a good deal of it went into the camps and made very good “shebangs.” Most of the men have good, comfortable quarters. Lumber is plenty. We built the works across the yard of a very fine cottage with some fine looking girls in it.
Tuesday, November 8th 1864—Today is the great election—one of the most important ever held on the country comes off today and the result will be felt for a long time to come. I have no doubt that Abraham Lincoln will be elected. I do not think Gen. McClellan is to be trusted. The 88th [Illinois] went on to the works and relieved the 125th Ohio while they went in to vote. The Illinois boys could not vote because the Copperhead Legislature were afraid to trust them and well they might for shame on a body who will disenfranchise men because they are fighting for their country.
Wednesday, November 9th —Windy and rainy. Stormy all day.
Thursday, November 10th 1864—Cool & pleasant. Had no mail for a week. We are getting anxious to hear from the elections. The Pioneers are cutting down some white wood trees 6 feet in diameter and 100 feet high. They cannot be replace in a 100 years.
Friday, November 11, 1864—Clear. All quiet. Camp rumors enough for gossip. No mail yet. It is expected in 2 days. The “C. S.” [Confederate States] gave our mess a sheep today. Was a fine one. We have had nothing but salt pork for 10 days.
Sunday, November 13, 1864—Pleasant. Took a walk with the officers of the 88th [Illinois] outside the camp and the “correll” and the burying ground of the Patterson family upon whose ground we are camped. Saw the 125th Ohio hold dress parade. Their officers & men need practice & drill. The cars came through from Nashville today with a large mail. Had letters from home and papers from May Ann. All well.
Monday. November 14th 1864—Pleasant all day. Read letters from A. J. Owen & M. Nelson. The 36th [Illinois] received 200 recruits today of one-years men. They look stout & hearty. Our foragers brought in some butter, eggs, chickens, & apples. Will improve our bill of fare a good deal. It has been very poor and badly cooked.
Tuesday, November 15th 1864—Rained all night and today. Everything looks dull. The men have chimneys to all their tents and are comfortable. Made out L. W. M____ discharge papers today. Received letters from Mary Ann and Margaret. Write to May and sent her a lock of my hair as she requested. She will be surprised to find it so gray.
Wednesday, November 16th 1864—Cloudy. Send papers to Thea, with poem “Sheridan’s Ride” in it. “Atlantic” to Mrs. Kent. Hood is said to be in Florence, Alabama. All quiet here. Sent in my resignation today. I do not like to leave my comrades but I hope it is for the best.
Thursday, November 17, 1864—Clear and pleasant. We begin to live well. Our forager ([Noah] Rae) brought in a good supply. We have now hot biscuit pies, potatoes, apple sauce, pickles, & other good things. We are living well enough now but when we march, we must come down to hard tack & coffee & beef bad as Job’s cat.
Friday, November 18, 1864—Wet & rainy. Went on picket on Post No. 1 [with] 24 privates, 3 corporals, 1 sergeant on the Elton Turnpike. Two men came in in a buggy whose house was visited by guerrillas last night. NO harm done. Two other men came in the p.m. who had been robbed at R____. They were railroad men. The Sexton Boss had his pants taken off of him.
Saturday, November 19, 1864—Still raining. There are 8 teams on the railroad near us. Looks as if there was some move on. Found one is a construction train, Roads are very bad. Relieved by Lieutenant of 44th Illinois.
Sunday, November 20th 1864—Cloudy & muddy. Sutler came up with some goods. We are ordered to be ready to march at a moments notice as [Gen. Nathan B.] Forrest is approaching. If our cavalry cannot hold him, the infantry go to help.
Monday, November 21st 1864—Cold & snowing with high wind. Spent most of my time by the log fire in front of my tent and the sutler’s “shebang.” Took my blankets and slep in his tent as it was warmer than mine. Had some milk punch.
Tuesday, November 22nd 1864—Marched at 8 a.m. Clear & cold. Went into camp at 3:30 near Linnville. Most of the town has burned for harboring guerrillas.
Wednesday, November 23 —Clear & cold like the weather in New England at this time of year. Broke camp at 3:30. Went up on the top of a high, steep hill. There was also camps on another hill across a narrow valley. The camp fires made a splendid sight after dark.
Thursday. November 24th 1864—Thanksgiving Day—the day of roast turkeys, plum pudding, and mince pies at home. But my dinner today was coffee without milk or sugar, a hard tack & a bacon side. Marched at 4 a.m. I got some hot coffee but not near all got as much as that. Marched to Columbia 18 miles before breakfast. Forrest was advancing on the town and we did not get there any too soon as he had demanded the surrender of the town but we were too close and the place was saved. There was a heavy skirmish 2 miles out of town on the southwest side. Went to work at once to put up breastworks. If Hood comes, he will find the Old 4th Corps ready for him and will give him Thanksgiving supper that he will not digest very well.
Friday, November 25, 1864—One year ago today we fought at the Battle of Mission Ridge. Those that were in that battle will not forget it soon. Reveille at 5, stand at arms until relieved. 4 regiments under command of Lt. Col. Smith went out on the Pulaski Pike to develop the rebel lines. The fell back on to their reserves and we went back into camp. Broke camp at 7 p.m. and marched to the right. Some beautiful residences on the outskirts of the town. Passed the camp of the 72nd Illinois wound around a hill with stone breastworks, and camped on the side of a hill near an old earthwork built by the rebels. When we went after them on the “Franklin Scout.” Marched 3 miles.
Saturday, November 26, 1864—Rainy and muddy. Found the works leveled. A fine house in front of us with the cabins and out building. The furniture was very good. Was all moved out but was called away by the troops. Ordered to be ready to move in a moment if needed. Took down our tents and beds. Got wet. We were told we should not move until a.m. My resignation has been accepted and I am a citizen once more. I do not feel very well satisfied to leave the Old 88th [Illinois] and the comrades who have been with me through 23 engagements. So it is but I leave them with a good deal of regret.
Sunday, November 27, 1864—Left camp with Lt. Griffin of Co. D, crossed Duck river but did not get away until 4:30 p.m. The team was loaded with sick & wounded. Passed through a very fine country. Arrived at Nashville at 9 p.m. and awful going the rounds to get lodging. We got leave to spread our blankets on the floor of the City Hotel.
Monday, November 28th 1864—After a good breakfast, took a walk. Met Col. Chadbourne, Sam Simpson, Frank Ho___, John Lofler and other old friends including Capt. L. B. Bean & Son, George, John, and ____ Nouse. Left Nashville at 2:30 p.m. Arrived at Louisville 2:30 a.m. o’clock. Got good lodging at the Louisville Hotel and slept on a good bed for the first time in several months.
Tuesday, November 29th 1864—Pleasant. City full of business as the supplies for the Army of the Cumberland and Ohio go through the city makes business good. Capt. Bennell, Lieuts. Welgamoth & Griffin got two months pay. Bought a few presents to carry home to the little ones. Left Jeffersonville at 2:30. Arrived at Reynolds at 3 a.m.
Wednesday, November 30th 1864—Fine weather for the season. Was at Reynolds until 12:25 [waiting] for the cars. Rather a dull place to wait. Arrived at Gridley at 7:30. Took all by surprise as no one expected me but all seemed glad to see me.
Thursday, December 1, 1864—Rained all day. Spent most of the day visiting about town. Business good and has increased a good deal since I left. A good deal of business is done here now.
This letter was written by Sylvester Tynell Winship (1812-1866) from Avon Creek, McKeen county, Pennsylvania. He wrote the letter to his son, James Wilson Winship who was hospitalized and about to be discharged from Co. I, 3rd Iowa Infantry. He also mentions two others on serving in the war. These were Nehemiah Willard Winship and Wesley Winship. Nehemiah served in Co. K, 86th New York Infantry. Wesley served in the 1st New York Infantry and later in the 161st New York Infantry.
[Note: This letter is from the private collection of Walter Slonopas and is published here by express consent.]
Avon Creek, McKeen county, Pa.
June 27, 1862
My Dear Son,
It is with great thankfulness that I received yours of the 26th and was glad to hear from you but was sorry to hear that you was so unwell. I am in hopes you will improve your health and gain your strength so that you can be about again shortly so that you can pick some of those blackberries. But son, be careful how you eat [and] not eat to many of them at a time.
It has been so long since I have heard from you that I began to think that you were dead. I kept a worrying about you every day. I am so glad to think that you wrote [even] if it was short. It come and [was] received very thankfully. You can’t begin to know how thankful I am to hear from you. I hope the next I shall hear that you are well.
My health isn’t very good at present. It is caused mostly by hard work and shoeing horses. It hurts me so it causes my back to pain me very severely sometimes.
I haven’t hear from Nehemiah and Wesley for five weeks. I want to hear very much. I am in hopes to hear tomorrow when the mail comes in. The post office is right across the road from me.
Our friends are generally well through this country. It has been very wet here the most of this month. Crops is backward. I am a cleaning on my farm this spring some. I am in hopes the war will soon come to a close so I can see you again. I am in hopes you won’t have to fight anymore. Henry Hoodly they say was shot and killed in a battle. Now James, when you get well, be as careful of your health as you can because it is the greatest blessing man can have in this world.
When have you heard from your Uncle Ezra’s folks and Uncle Richard’s folks? I haven’t heard from them in a long time. I have heard from our folks in Steuben [county] on 3 weeks. They were well at that time.
I must close for it is ten o’clock and after. If you were here. I could talk all night with you. I live in hopes of seeing my boys again and all of my children together again once more while I live. Write as soon and as often as you can and I will answer. So goodnight. I am respectfully your father, — S. Winship