Lot Abraham’s 1863 Diary

June. Wednesday the 3d. 1863

Capt. Lot Abraham's Diary, Iowa University Special Archives

Capt. Lot Abraham’s Diary, University of Iowa Special Collections

I started for camp about 8 oclock with Lieuts Clark & Early. Had a tedious ride & found all about right boys all on Guard. I made out my Papers ready for muster out & into service according to rank by the Commander of Musters. Intended to go this evening but it was now too late. There’s only 7 or 8 of the Co here in this camp. They got my supper. My servant is here with Ball. He looks no better for being left in this place. In the evening, I rode down to Gen. McClernand’s Headquarters passing around our lines where we could see the bombs bursting &c. Seven officers of the 4th Iowa Cavalry rode with me. Our object was to see the Governor of Iowa & talk some about who we should have for our Colonel. Found him in a grove & very talkative; talked plain too.

June Thursday the 4th 1863

Was routed at 2 o’clock this morning and ordered to join my Company that then was on the move for Mechanicsburg again. I felt tough but knew it was all for the best. Mounted Ball [and] started without any breakfast. Just before day[break], rode in company with 4 others nodding along. Reached Roache’s Plantation shortly after sunrise, found a few others there on their way to the regiment which left yesterday P.M. We fed & eat a little breakfast, then started. Maj. Darkell, 5 Capts and 10 men. Took the Ridge Road. Was very hot and dusty. 1st place I found myself was at Grants. There we rested awhile. Seen the Secesh Lady again. I slept awhile. We found the regiment was far ahead of us and going. Made good time never thinking of danger until some Darkies told us of it — that Rebs were passing about &c. Stopped & fed at noon where the Idiot Boy lives. He is a curiosity.  Our advance drove the Rebs from the place this morning & skirmished with them all the way. We arrived in Mechanicsburg before sundown. They had had quite a little fight, took about 20 prisoners. The 5th Ill Cavalry made a charge. Only lost 1 man killed [&] several wounded. There was about 600 infantry around the town, come up on Boats. I couldn’t find my Company very easy. The regiment was divided. Found the little wagon. Made my nest for a nights rest.

Sunday, June 7th 1863

[First part of entry missing] … its too much crowded about here; we had to move in the orchard. Give the yard to the infantry & 5th Illinois. Boys are all grumbling like everything. Most all want to go to camp. They are ragged & dirty. About 4 P.M. Sergt Rebb & I started for the camp. Brought the little wagon along. Rode slowly along talking of everything connected with past, present & future. Fired our pistols some. Got to camp after dark. Found all well. No mail for me. No news of interest. Fighting slowly at Vicksburg yet. I went to bed early in my tent — 1st time under cover for many a night.

Monday, June 8th 1863

ajaxhelperTook a very good rest last night. Got up in good time. Commenced writing letters. Did not have time. Got my papers ready for muster and rode to Gen. Sherman’s Headquarters in company with Maj. Winslow, Lieut. Gray & Brim. The talk was all on the prospect for a Col. [The] Major hoes his own row and does an extra amount of sassing. I have made up my mind to go for Diters & will to the last. The Governor is here yet. Still undecided what to do about it. He got mustered without trouble by Lieut. Dickey 13th Regulars. My 1st [Lieut.] to date Sept. 1st 1862. Then out & in as Capt. to date March 1st 1863. I am well satisfied with that if I have no more trouble about it hereafter and can get pay soon. We started back, stopped at an eating house [and] got a lunch for $4.00. I come on to camp. They went to see the Governor & brought up an order from Gen. Grant to have this camp & all these men moved immediately to the regiment. Col. Grants over it. I wrote a letter to [my brother] John. Sent him my old commission & papers. Wrote to Kate Blacker & to Kate & Lige. Got two different orders about the move before dark. Don’t care what they do. The firing is heavy tonight. Has been most of the day. ‘Tis very hot and dry. I went to bed in good time.

Tuesday, June 9th 1863

We got ready for the move early but got so many orders that I couldn’t tell what to do. Didn’t bother much about it. Just waited to see what would be done. Finally all started on a slow move — a move without any life or spirit over the hills, through the dust, and the Devil couldn’t keep the boys together. Stopped in the valley by the brook just this side of Milldale. Col. has gone on for orders. We was left on our horses in the road. I found that out & come up on the hillside in the shade. Boys got dinner. I fixed up this little Book for journal & wrote thus far—-here we are waiting & waiting. Don’t know what for or how long for. The boys [are] grumbling & swearing. I waited very patiently till the Col. come back. Then he had to go and look for a better camp so we don’t know yet what we will have to do. Put up for the night anyhow. There is plenty of water here and I don’t want any better camp. It’s a nice little valley on the brook between 2 hills of the usual size. Looks like rain to night. Messer took very sick. I worked with him till late. Then went to bed on the ground without shelter.

Wednesday, June 10th 1863

It rained on us last night and I got very little sleep. ‘Tis raining hard this morning. We are ordered on a scout for the day. Boys done some swearing over it. The Lieuts. went too. I took a nap, then made out a correct report. 1st one for over a month. Got the clerk at work posting the books. Want to get in shape again & try to keep better order in the arrangements. Can do but little at it though, until we have a boss — a Col. that knows something and will run the machine himself. I was waiting for the rain to cease falling until noon. It kept on so I started anyhow. Benson & I in the little wagon drove down the valley to the Yazoo [River] & down to Sherman’s Landing across the Chickasaw Bayou near where our troop done the fighting last winter. It’s an ugly looking place. Found the little river full of boats. The rain ceased. I found our sutler [and] bought some eatables. Went to the Commissary Boat [and] got a lot of provisions. Got ready [and] started back all alone. Benson went to Youngs Point. Guards stopped me. Wanted to take the team. I begged off by giving them some whiskey. Drove slowly to camp.

Thursday, June 11th 1863

Rained hard last night again but we had our tent up though the boys had to take it under their ponchos. Look rough this morning. I hate to hear them grumbling so but it’s all the privilege they have that they will take much advantage of and they do take the good of that in every instance. 20 men ordered out today from each Company with Danner. I only brought 16.  Lieutenants stayed in & I come. We come the Benton Road to Bear Creek 10 miles, & now have 50 axes at work falling this fine timber across & in the road, making a blockade against Johnson’s army making a dreadful noise. I took an axe & tried it awhile. Cut down one little tree [and] raised a blister on my hand. Everyone of the boys that chopped blistered their hands. We filled the road for over a mile. Rode back to corn & fed. Got blackberries & plums. The Boys upset bee gums for honey and made a desperate scattering among men & horses. Stung 2 horses to death. I had Balley in a carriage house, shut the door & saved him. We got to camp [and] found it moved about 1/2 a mile on a nice hill in sight of the church & scattered over enough ground to camp Grant’s Army. Co. D has a nice place, a good supper ready, & 20, 000 troops arrived today from above. 6th Iowa is near us. Cleared off this evening.

Friday, June 12th 1863

Clear and pleasant. 8 A.M. and no orders yet. Our camp is a lovely one on the hillside. My tent [is] spread on the green grass in the yard. I got the clerk to writing, posting the clothing account. I filled up my journal. Wrote all day. Got a letter from Neal and answered it in the evening. Col. Bussey is with Col. Swan waiting for his regiment to come. Dick Shipman come up today. There’s been no firing since morning. Don’t know the reason. We have no news. Got Home Journal. Read that some. [Wrote] awhile in the good old notebook. Boys have taken a good rest.

Saturday, June 13th 1863

Was rousted early long before day to get out 25 men in a hurry. I soon had them scrambling & was in my saddle. Left Tucker to bring up the Command & rode with one of our spies out a secret road to avoid the pickets. The thought occurred several times that he might be a Reb but I was willing to risk it. Rode a mile outside the pickets. He give me the plan to surround a house, take him and a reb spy. I then rode back to the picket to bring up the command (50 men), moved them out within a quarter [mile] of the house and halted to await daylight. About day[break], the spy returned to me & reported that his bird was gone. Then the object was to get out of the scrape without suspicion resting on the spy. He left and rode up the road in a hurry. I moved out 2 miles making all kinds of inquiry. Come back, stopped & got plenty good berries. Come in, got breakfast. Wrote a letter to Angeline & read awhile. 2 P.M. brought an order to pack up ready to move camp immediately. Officers started to hunt the camp and we got ready and after the usual waiting &c. moved out on the road to wait in the hot sun. The regular rations. Moved up to Snyder’s Bluffs 3 miles & camped. Horses on the hillside in the sun & men up on the bluff inside of the Rebel ditches, or rifle pits. There is little shade here and all hands pulling for it. This is one of their strongest places and was rendered useful in a few hours without a stroke. The River is in plain view about 3 hundred yards distant and boats passing all the time. We have hard ground to sleep on, too steep. Put up our tents nearly on the top.

Sunday, June 14th 1863

Couldn’t sleep last night. Kept slipping downhill & crawling up again. And bug biting and running all over me. I got up in time for breakfast. We board with mess No. 1 yet & have good living. The boys are making sheds of brush over the horses. I leveled off my bed, gathered moss for it. Lieut.’s had the shed made. I took it very easy today. Mail come and I got a letter from Neal, dated June 3rd. There’s no more firing to be heard and it seems lonesome. Heavy reinforcements arriving all the time and these hills are alive with them. Rebels must be coming– I wrote a letter to mother — long letter. Sent out Lieut. Sharp & 25 men with Capt. Drummond on patrol duty. They go to Bear Creek Bridge & back. I went to meeting, down by the Hospital. Kirk was telling his rigmarole in his old style.

Monday, June 15th 1863

Weather cool & pleasant. A little cloudy. The boys got in at daylight. Rode all night. We heard heavy firing for awhile this morning at Vicksburg. Then it ceased again. Maj. Winslow started on scout for 3 days with 4 companies. I got orders to have the pay rolls ready immediately, that the pay master is here and wants them. Had to foot up the clothing accounts and put them on. Worked on them slowly most of the day. No news. A good many rumors about Rebel army coming out and troops moving some. Officers call sounded in the evening and we got orders to move camp at daylight tomorrow. Go back on Clear Creek where we can stand picket. We’ll not be confined this way there. Here are guards on all sides of us. It is raining hard after dark while I write. Wrote a little letter to Jim Holland.

Tuesday, June 16th 1863

Sun was 2 hours high before we got ready to move. Then went very slow about it. I rode up to camp of 40th Iowa. Seen cousin Wilson Abraham. Overtook the regiment as they moved off. Come down the ridge road to the blockade, turned off to the left, [and] come about 2 miles east of Clear Creek. 12 miles from starting point. I went on picket & patrolled the road. Had the main post at Widow McCall’s on Black River Road. It is cloudy & rained some in the evening.

Wednesday, June 17th 1863

Cloudy & pleasant. we gathered all the berries we could eat and took it patiently on the porch talking to the fair lady most of the time. No relief come until after noon. Then Co. B come. We come in, got dinner, then I took a good sleep. Awoke late in the evening. Can hear a gun at Vicksburg occasionally. A mail come but nothing for me. 285 Sharp carbines come & captains cast lots for them. I was lucky enough to get Sharps.

Thursday, June 18th 1863

Ordered on a scout at 5. Give out 20 of the new guns. Got ready slowly and started at 6. I took the advance, only 5 companies to go. Moved down to Black River. We had to do the flanking and had rough riding of it on both flanks. Halted on Jones’ Plantation in Black River Bottom. I sent the Co. in every direction hunting cattle. Went down the Bottom a mile. Got a good drove, and drove them up to the yard. 6 of us then got water & went in the house (it’s all deserted). Some boys [were] eating dinner, some reading, and all scattered about when the alarm was raised and we rushed for our horses, but after mounting no one knew anything about it and I thought it was all for nothing, but moved out to the lane slowly until firing commenced on the hill in front of me. Then I supposed it was a picket on the hill until I got up & found it was Co. D going in & there had been no picket on that hill. There was about a 100 Rebel cavalry formed but they broke about the time I got up. Seen Co. A coming up through the Bottom. Our boys raised the yell & [went] after them. It was the best sport we ever had and nobody [was] hurt. Porter lost his horse jumping a ditch. Rebels all got away; got down in a canebrake. We (Companies D & A) dismounted & [went] after them on foot through there. They brought our horses along, mounted, & on again for several miles. Seen no more of the Devils. Come back down the valley, halted & fed at the plantation. Then gathered up all the stock cattle & sheep, come around through the woods, and into the road 2 miles up this way. Rode slowly to camp driving the stock along. It had rained hard up here & very little with us. Was very hot all the time. Col. Hammond (Adj. Genl., 15th Army Corp) was with us this command. Spearman was our officer. — No news except that a corps of the Potomac troop arrived here and that they still come. I write after dark and the Battalion (Maj. Winslow) has just arrived. They have been up on Deer Creek above the Yazoo [River]. Had no trouble. Captured some good horses, but was not allowed to bring them across the river.

Friday, June 19th 1863

Benjamin F. Housel from Mount Pleasant, Iowa, enlisted as a fifth sergeant in Company D, 4th Iowa Cavalry on September 28, 1861; on January 15, 1862, he was promoted to battalion commissary sergeant. Housel was transferred back to Company D on June 9, 1862; he was discharged on March 14, 1863, for promotion to lieutenant with the Mississippi Marine Brigade.

Benjamin F. Housel from Mount Pleasant, Iowa, enlisted as a fifth sergeant in Company D, 4th Iowa Cavalry on September 28, 1861; on January 15, 1862, he was promoted to battalion commissary sergeant. Housel was transferred back to Company D on June 9, 1862; he was discharged on March 14, 1863, for promotion to lieutenant with the Mississippi Marine Brigade. Image Courtesy Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield; WICR 11490

Weather clear and warm. Issued the Sharp carbines to the men (40) and transferred the Union Carbines. Worked at it all the A.M. as I write, and only 5 men have been called for today. Got them among those who remained in yesterday. Sent Sergt. Housel away and hope for good too. Maybe he will have some spunk at Sherman’s Headquarters [where he] has to command orderlies. I have some more of same kind that I have no use for, have some of all kinds, some grumbling all the time about anything they can think of. The day passed away slowly. Commenced on the Quarterly Returns in the P.M. fixing up the paper &c. My 2 recruits come this evening. Joe Bodkins & Charley Day. They look well.

Saturday, June 20th 1863

Up early this morning and hear such thunder — tones of battle as we never heard before. The earth trembles and Vicksburg hills shake, and it has been this way for over an hour now, beginning at daylight (so terrific). Opened in the night sometime — everybody listening with astonishment this morning wondering what they mean — how anxious now to hear. Lieut. Tucker is better. We started on a scout. Went down to Bird Song Ferry on Black River. Seen a squad of rebels. They run. Drove back a lot of cattle. Got back to camp before night. The heavy firing has ceased. We don’t know the result yet.

Sunday, June 25th 1863

Weather cool & pleasant. We was detailed for Picket. Hear there was but little gained by the fighting yesterday. Took post down on the right hand road around a ______. Horses tied to the ornamental trees in the yard. Got plenty of berries. Patroled over to the Bridgeport Road. I came up to camp and stayed the afternoon. Wrote a letter home. Tucker is very sick and several of the boys are getting down with the ague. Went back and moved the post to the church. Slept in that. One of the Co. L. died very suddenly today.

Monday, June 22nd 1863

Maj. Alonzo B. Parkell

Maj. Alonzo B. Parkell

Moved out on the post early and I started with a patrol. Went 4 miles. Got back late in the day. The boys had been relieved. Come into camp. A scouting party went out this morning. I took a sleep and was wakened up to hear that our scouting party was fighting– the ambulances came and took Tucker and all the sick they could haul away. Tucker is worse. By this time the boys was coming in one at a time without hats, many of them bloody, & telling how they — Co.’s A. K. F. & I (130 men) was cut off by 2 [Mississippi] regiments of Rebels [led by Wirt Adams and P. B. Starke] and that few of them had escaped to tell the story. Maj. [Alonzo Burett] Parkell was in command. He got away. We got ready and moved out and proceeded cautiously to the scene of action. Kept finding our boys all the way hid in the brush, corn, &c. They was afraid to venture out until they was sure who we was. Found the Rebels had just left one wagon load of their dead. They had to leave. Found 6 of our boys dead & 3 badly wounded. The wounded had been carried to a house nearby. Loaded the dead in a spring wagon, [placed the] wounded in the ambulance, and come back. Arrived after dark. I got a letter from home. Went to bed and had just got to sleep when an order came to load up — all transportation to be moved back 4 miles. We got that done, then went to sleep again when another order came to saddle and prepare for immediate action. We got ready. So passed a sleepless night.

Tuesday, June 23rd 1863

In our saddles before day awaiting an attack. I took Co. D and tore down fence. Then went on picket out by the Widow [Hill’s House]. We soon got an order to advance and moved. The infantry following closely [and] halted often. The infantry only got to the long hill. In the evening we advanced to the battleground. Found a Rebel Lieut. & 10 men there with a flag of truce, gathering up their dead. Learn they had 18 killed. We had 8 or 10 killed & 12 taken. Our boys fought desperately. Just let the Rebs come right up, then mowed them down. Killed many horses. We lost our little howitzer. A storm came up while we was on the battleground. Blowed terribly. Moved back on Little Bear Creek and stopped. We was left on picket in the rain without anything to eat. Dark — no sleep for 2 nights before. It seemed a little more rough than common — very little grumbling though. Gen. Sherman is in command out here. Headquarters 2 miles back. (I sent Detrich to him with a man that come to us in the night — a spy I guess.) There’s 10 brigades of infantry.

Wednesday, June 24th 1863

Had a rough night of it and I never seen the boys look so hard. Feel so myself. Bibb brought up our little wagon and we got crackers, coffee, & fat meat. Eat hearty, felt better. Moved early down to Black River followed by 8th Iowa Infantry. They was set to chopping, blockading the road. We scouted all around & guarded. Got plenty of berries. Moved out & met our forces on the other road. Moved back to our old camp at night inside of the infantry lines. They advanced to Big Bear creek. We’ll rest tonight anyhow. I camped in a lane away from the regiment.

Thursday, June 25th 1863

Clear and Hot. We hear that Port Hudson is taken, that Hooker is falling back, and Lee advancing. Have about give up looking for Johnson in here on our rear. Officers call sounded and we collected. Col. wanted to tell something about Pay Rolls. When Gen. Sherman rode up, talked & laughed awhile, then told Col. to saddle up and come with him. We was soon in line. Rode down on Black River and down it several miles. Back another road back to our camp again & rested the balance of the day & night, my nice Dun Horse died today.

Friday, June 26th 1863

Clear & Hot. I started early for the old camp for the wagon to find my desk & fix the Pay Rolls. Rode back there. Had to make a new one — worked very fast at it till done. Wrote a letter home. Got all the boys there to sign the Rolls. Was bothered to know what to do with the sick there. Several very sick. Got a letter from Uncle Collin and one from Neal. Gathered us about 6 men & started for the regiment about sundown. Found them on Bear Creek. The infantry had moved back. Co. D on picket. I went to them. Found them ready for & expecting a fight.

Saturday, June 27th 1863

Lay in the fence corners all night [with] guns through the fence & ready for ’em. Co. B [was] with us. Several shots [were] fired but [there was] no fight. After day[break], I had the men sign the Rolls and come down to Adj. Officer with them. Wrote a letter to Uncle Collin. Went to the sutler of 25th Iowa. Eat peaches & crackers. Boys come in. We camped down on the hillside away from the regiment. All went to sleep. I awoke before night sick with fever &c. Some more of the boys come up today. Today peace was to be declared.

Sunday, June 28th 1863

Col. Cyrus Bussey

Col. Cyrus Bussey

I was crazy awhile last night. The fever was the cause of it. Feel some better this morning. Have the headache though. It seems like we are all going to be sick.  I wrote here awhile, then wrote a letter to Neal just on my knee as I write this. Wish I had my desk here. Can’t write worth a cent this way. Don’t feel like moving today. Walked about a little in the P.M. We was ordered on a scout — 4 companies. I only had 20 men to go (6 on duty). I left Sharp with the Co in camp. We went to Oak Ridge [and] reported to Col. [Cyrus] Bussey. Camped just inside the pickets.

Monday, June 29th 1863

Started on scout before day[light]. About 400 cavalry under Col Bussey. Moved out on the upper Benton Road toward Mechanicsburg. I had no idea what was to be done. Passed through the blockade [of felled trees] made on the 11th inst. It was a tough job. Moved on about 8 miles, halted at the fork of the road. I took Companies D & A [and] went 2 miles farther. Was then within 2 miles of Fort Adam’s Cavalry Camp. Come back and followed the command down the other road across a rough country. Come out on the Benton Road at Marley’s Plantation. Then down that road 5 miles & across on Black River Bottom. Arrived at camp about 5 P.M. and I took a posish in my blanket under a tree. Chilled awhile, then come the fever, headache &c. and I didn’t know anything for an hour or more. Jehod stayed with me and heard all my foolish talk. Feel better this evening. Eat some. Got a letter from Asa Andrews, 1 from Becca & the children. The Paymaster come out here tonight [and] will pay us tomorrow. Lieut. Sharp had to go back after our papers. Saddled up and expect an attack. Heard a shot or 2 on picket.

Tuesday, June 30th 1863

All quiet this morning. Weather warm. I feel better. The boys all seem better. No news. Hear heavy firing at Vicksburg. Lieut. [Sharp] got back early and clerk came with the muster rolls (this is the day). I finished them up. Our company had to wait till next to the last, then got paid by Maj. Marston. Clothing accounts settled. Some of the boys got a good pile where they had drawn but little clothing. I got my pay this time up to April 30th. $940.00 dollars. Lt. Sharp got 240.00. Capt. Davis has resigned & was just starting home. I sent $700.00 dollars with him. I had to collect for several of the boys & had writing &c. to do till my head ached fit to kill. Had eat nothing during the day. Sent back to the sutlers. Got a can of peaches &c. Thought I could eat a little but before I got time, some of the boys took them for their own use. I said nothing about it [and] went to bed without eating. So ends June 1863. I wrote to Becca & John today.

Wednesday, July 1st 1863

Weather clear and hot. I was busy all the morning. Made out Butler’s discharge papers &c. The company went on picket and my chill come on before I could get time to go to them. Lt. Sharp is with them and here on my blanket under the tree I had to put in the day. The chill was lighter than the others. I suffered with headache & fever & got lonesome. The day seemed very long. I sent the clerk back to the desk, to work at my Rolls & Returns. No news today. Heard no firing at Vicksburg.

Thursday, July 2nd 1863

Clear & hot. Boys come in early all out of rations & grumbling. I feel better [but] too weak to walk much. Haven’t eat anything lately. The regiment started on a scout. I waited around awhile, wrote a letter to sister Sallie, [and] sent her a present of a ___. Got the mail [and] Home Journal of 20th June. I read that through. Nothing very interesting considered news from the East. Lee moving up into Pennsylvania &c. Heavy firing at Vicksburg all day. The scout was out only a short time. Shot a Rebel picket. Saw several Rebels on the other side of the River. In the afternoon I rode back to the sutlers hunting something to eat. Found some peaches & cheese (all cold). Got lemon syrup to use in the water. Got back to camp before night. Boys are in a fix for swearing. (Hungry) I can do nothing for them yet. But hard to hear such complaints.

Friday, July 3rd 1863

Clear & warm. The day for my chill & I kept quiet in the shade. Was up to Headquarters awhile. Col Bussey come along. An alarm was raised about noon and we saddled in a hurry. I was ordered to the pickets. Rushed out & the regiment come soon. Col. Bussey was along. Then I was sent off to the right to reconnoiter. Went into the valley below Jones’ Plantation. Could see nothing. All quiet. Reported back & they had found it was principally false. Come to camp and got the news that the Commissioner was arranging the surrender of Vicksburg. Boys won’t believe it. Orders are to be ready to move and we expect an advance tonight or tomorrow. I forgot my chill today. It looks like storming to night. The boys are uneasy about their money & want it sent home. I tried to get a pass to take & express it home from the landing. Swan would not grant it. ‘Tis raining slowly. I went to bed early. Don’t feel as well as I would like to. Boys got rations today.

Saturday, July 4th 1863

Rained but little last night. Cleared off early. All quiet. Only one shot heard in camp. I put up 1283 Dollars in packages to express home for the boys (22). Lt. Sharp got a pass and went back. No news yet and no word of starting this 8 A.M. No firing at Vicksburg yet. I went up to Headquarters awhile, then come back to my tent. Had nothing to do that would interest me enough for this day so I wrote a long letter to Neal. We got marching orders for certain. After hearing that Vicksburg had surrendered but Co. D could not enjoy it for want of faith. They have no confidence in anything now. We are ordered to move and the secret is that our army is making an advance. There was quite a fight down the river today. We have no report except that the 3rd Iowa Cavalry got cut up badly. We heard the cannon. I was up to Headquarters several times this P.M. Don’t know but what I have to do. Maj. Winston commands. I started Sgt. Bebb & Rumble back with orders &c. Then wrote a letter to mother. While writing that, the mail come and I got a letter from John & Mag. & one from Wilson, 49th Ind. concerning the sorrel colt. Yes and Col. [Edward F.] Winslow’s commission came. He can now command the 4th Iowa. Finished my letter & one to Wilson. The troops in rear of us are passing out tonight & the woods is alive. They all seem happy. The hills tremble with their noise. I read some today but there’s no good news from the East.

Col. Edward F. Winslow, 4th Iowa Cavalry

Col. Edward F. Winslow, 4th Iowa Cavalry

Sunday, July 5th 1863

Weather clear and hot. The army is slowly moving out. We sent back the sick & transportation this morning. Sent all mess boxes & cookery. I have 43 men left. Lt Tucker come out this morning. Has been all over the city. Went in as soon as the white flag was run up at 10 AM yesterday. We could ask him many questions. Sharp come a little later. He too had been in [the city]. The boys can’t help believing now. We hear from 28 to 33 thousand prisoners, 220 siege & field guns, &c. Part of our army goes now to reinforce Banks. Sherman moves east with 50 thousand. Waited all day long expecting to move but no orders. I am restless & anxious till we get on the move. Couldn’t sleep, too warm. Commenced reading novels. The 9th Army Corp moved out today. Passed along by us — all live Yankees right from New England states. We (the officers) got privilege to take a team for a mess. Got over a $100 worth to start on. Took supper together this eve. Done fine for a start. The boys have but little to do and almost nothing to eat. Not much grumbling yet. We sleep under the trees.

Monday, July 6th 1863

Fine morning. I read my novel till I forgot my breakfast, then hurried up. Got plenty though and good enough. Not much stir this morning (rumor says we have captured some 20,000 Rebs in the East but things are in a bad shape there, for as I can learn, Hooker has give it up to some other General. I wrote a letter to Dick Jackman. Signed Lt. Sharp’s resignation papers. He wants out of the Service. 11 a.m. & we have orders to move at 4 P.M. Signed Lt. Tucker’s papers. He too is going to leave me. Moved out at 1 and down to Bird Song Ferry. Halted in the hot sun awhile, then moved to shade. Lieut’s come down with me. We settled up and they went back. I feel very lonesome. We camped up about the house & orchard without feed. Got our suppers. I eat a very hearty supper. No news except that the army is crossing below. The fighting today did not amount to much — 6th Iowa got cut up some but I heard Gen. Smith say they fought damned well. It is cloudy, thundering, & rained a little. I went into an old cotton house & slept on the cotton.

Tuesday, July 7th 1863

Routed early and the boys didn’t have time to make their coffee. Some got a little. We had rather a hurrying time to get ours. Then moved down the Bottom for the other crossing, leaving the trains. Col. Bussey in Command of 3 & 4 Iowa, 2nd Wisconsin, & 5th Illinois Cavalry (15 hundred)  .4 miles down, then crossed on a good bridge at Messinger’s. Gen. Sherman was there. A large force of infantry ahead of us & we had to pass it riding fast — our Regt in advance. Saw a good many friends. Passed troops for 12 miles, then took the lead driving the enemy all the way. Passing through their deserted camps. Halted at Bolten Station in their old camp, where we left the morning 17th May. Found feed here. Shelled corn, fed & we (Co D) went on picket over a mile on the left hand road. All seemingly very quiet. I put out my pickets & started on to look a little farther. [Took] 2 men with me & we met 2 Rebs right in the road. Come up within 50 yds. All paused a moment. They lowered their guns & I fired first. Then the boys fired. They run like good fellows. We saw a man on a white horse watching us all the P.M. Tried to trap him. Co. M. comes out for reinforcement. We made good arrangements for the night. The Planter McNeal is very much troubled. Thinks he’s ruined forever. Had a storm just after night & hard rain. I went in the house.

Wednesday, July 8th 1863

All quiet except the confusion of a storm & good soaking for most of the boys. We fed after daylight, made coffee, and was relieved at 8 by Co. F. Come into the regiment. No prospect of a move yet. 9 A.M., I got a letter from Neal dated June 24. We are camped around the residence of Col. Miller. Officers occupy the house. I wrote here a little, read some. I’ve had a good dinner. At 11, I tried to sleep. Too warm for that. No news. We are waiting for the army to close up. Moved up at 3 P.M. Took the left flank. Had a good road. Skirmished all the way. Passed 4 Rebels that had been killed by the advance. I have only heard of 5 of our boys being wounded. Met them after dark. All formed in line in a field. We deployed to the right & formed in the woods, Rebs directly in front. We dismounted and some of the boys was soon asleep. By 11 o’clock, the infantry got up, formed in front of us, and we unsaddled & slept good. Got a little water out of a mud-hole nearby. I had just enough buttermilk left in my canteen for a drink and that done me.

Map of Sherman's forces during siege of Jackson, Mississippi

Map of Sherman’s forces during siege of Jackson, Mississippi

Editor’s Note: From the 9th to 17th July, General Sherman’s forces conducted a siege of Jackson, Mississippi. Capt. Lot Abraham’s diary contains a description of the 4th Iowa Cavalry’s participation in the siege. The following map shows a deployment of Sherman’s forces. Lot describes activities on the Canton Road which can be seen entering Jackson from the north in this map. It also shows the location of the Insane Asylum on the Canton Road where lot viewed the city from its cupola on 11 July 1863 and witnessed from afar the attack by Brig. Gen. Jacob G. Lauman’s troops on Rebel earthworks manned by Brig. Gen. Daniel W. Adam’s Brigade which failed. Click on the map to enlarge it.

Thursday, July 9th 1863

Quiet all along the lines this morning. We made coffee. Have no feed for the poor animals. Sent all Niggers & led horses to the train. Moved out about 6 o’clock and took to the woods. Left Clinton to our right, just in sight. Moved away to the left, then back toward the road chasing their pickets all the way. Come into the road only 4 miles from Clinton. Road full of infantry & artillery. Light cannonading to our right front nearly all the time. We passed to the front & halted about 4 miles from Jackson, Rebs just in front. Skirmishing all the afternoon. Had some trouble about them shooting a prisoner they took. Sent in a flag of truce demanding the man that shot him. I can’t learn the result. We got plenty of feed for our horses. In the evening, they opened on us with some small artillery and made [our] cavalry get back right smart. A battery run up [from Parke’s Ninth Corps] & soon drove them. The troops are forming in line of battle in our rear all over the fields, woods, &c. Water very scarce. None for horses. We are formed by squadrons in a woods pasture. Don’t know what to expect but ready for anything. Think their force is 40,000 & that they are between here & Jackson. Unsaddled & went to rest.

Friday, July 10th 1863

All quiet. No feed or water. Got enough for coffee. Our mess had meat, coffee, & hard bread. Started at 5 o’clock. Our regiment next to the advance. Took to the left & moved far away through the fields. The army is well closed up & advancing in line of columns for miles of front. Very hot day. Cannonading began in the centre slowly. We stopped in the shade a long time, then moved on until directly north of the city, then turned down toward it. Soon found the Rebels [but] only a few shots fired. They was across a big field from us. We formed in the field in fair view. They seem cool enough. Remained there near ½ hour, then fell back to avoid their battery. Formed over the hill in the field yet the infantry come up. Firing has all ceased. I wonder at the delay. It seems to me we are ready. Many horses have died today. Only one of ours yet. Our regiment was ordered to make a reconnoissance round to the left. We have only come a short distance & find Rebels. Are halted in the shade. About 3 P.M., an hour later, 2nd Wisconsin & our regiment moved on. Left 1st Battalion here on guard. We fed & rested. They went to the railroad, destroyed that & the telegraph. Got back after dark. We got ready for start, then stopped again for the night.

Saturday, July 11th 1863

Union soldiers tearing up railroads

Union soldiers tearing up railroads

Got a good rest again & all quiet this morning. We fed early, then moved out on the railroad & down that to the [Insane] Asylum where the 9th Army Corps was. They had a fight [Lawler’s Brigade of Iowa Infantry] while we was there but gained nothing. I went up in the cupola of the [Insane] Asylum. Could see the city [of Jackson] & the dust & a good many Rebs on line of works. Just in front, Rebs very busy at work on it. The cannon is at work all around slowly & our troops closing up. We are much the nearest. Moved from there & back up the road — our regiment in advance. Halted 5 miles north of Jackson. I went with a detail. Got corn, fed & rested good. Moved out at 4 P.M.Took the Canton road & found it a winding one through a lovely country. Splendid corn &c. Night come on & still we kept going. Stopped & tore up the railroad. Turned it upside down. Piled on rails & set fire. Moved on again. Caught 2 Rebel horsemen. ‘Twas too dark to see the country though it must be fine, all the nice hedge fences, long lanes &c. We halted near morning & fed a little. Then went to sleep on the ground in a hurry.

Sunday, July 12th 1863

Was waked up on double quick this morning at daylight & hurried out. Our regiment in advance yet. Moved on toward Canton. Come to their pickets shortly after sunrise & skirmishing began. I was 3rd company in column and deployed as skirmishers on the left. Could see about 40 Rebels most of the time. Drove them a mile. Was then within 3 miles of Canton. Our regiment held our position & kept up appearance in the front & all the others moved off westward. After they had got out of the way, we drew off Battalion at a time and got out of the way. Moved 10 miles & halted. Got something to eat & fed, slept awhile. It’s a very hot day & sometimes with headache. Heat & dust. I hardly know what I’m about. Left just before sundown for a night ride again. Wound about in all directions. We got up a talking in front of the company to keep awake. Hort & I talked [about] Old Liberty & surroundings for 6 years back all over & kept awake at it. Looks like rain all the time. We halted in Mt. Vernon for the night. It’s a small place in a fine country not very far from Black River. We have been within a quarter [mile] of the River. Unsaddled & went to sleep.

Monday, July 13th 1863

No rain of account. Cloudy, cool & pleasant. We was hurried out before daylight [and] was soon in our saddles & moving & behold our regiment in advance again. Our Battalion in rear. Took a southwest course and moved rapidly through as fine country as need be. Got melons, apples, peaches, &c. in abundance. Fed at noon. Reached our train 4 miles from Jackson just before night. Learn we have made some narrow escapes. Good news form Port Hudson, Helena and from Hooker’s army. I got a letter from Kate and Lige. Wrote one to [my brother] John. No feed or water. Fixed for a good rest.

Tuesday, July 14th 1863

Slept in good earnest & feel fine this morning. Boys all rested & slept till satisfied. No firing to be heard or news from Jackson. I look for a desperate conflict here yet. We moved about 8 a.m., come over & camped here 5 miles north of Jackson where we fed on Saturday — a nice grove [with] plenty of water but no feed. Learn the army is on half rations already. 2 P.M. got order to prepare for a move. I took a chill had fever in the evening. Eat nothing. No move though all ready for it. I had some washing done. Nothing but green corn for horses.

Wednesday, July 15th 1863

Fine morning. I feel better. Up early & ready for whatever comes. 1st was a good breakfast. Next good news from the East (if only true). Lee whipped, Richmond taken, &c. &c. I wrote a letter to Neal & one to Kate & Lige. We are expecting to move at a moment’s warning on an expedition northward. Got some strict orders about conducting the march. Got word in the afternoon that we would remain all night. Sent out the train, got corn plenty. Heard the Rebels was crossing Pearl River and sent the train reinforcements. Live very well here.

Thursday, July 16th 1863

Pleasant morning. All ready & moved out at 6 A.M. Took back & round on the railroad, then waited a long time or something and my chill come on — a rough one too. Moved out shaking, a big blanket around me in the hot sun. I could hardly ride & after the fever come on, fell behind the regiment. Had Booker carry my arms. Troop moved down to Pearl River, tore up the bridge that the Rebs crossed on yesterday. I laid down [and] covered up, but the pickets fired a few shots & I hurried to my company. Rode till night. Camped near the railroad & behind the infantry. I was crazy as a loon.

Friday, July 17th 1863

Feel tired & very weak. Eat a little breakfast and was ready to move with the command. 3rd & 4th Iowa Cavalry was left in rear of the infantry and train. Had to halt & wait an hour for them to get out. Then we took the road & moved along to the same place where we met them last sunday & all of a sudden a large cavalry force appeared on our left in the corn & the fight began both there & in front. We was soon in line facing the daring Rebs and all seemed prepared & determined for a battle. We soon had a good gun run up in front supported by a regiment of infantry & lit into them with a rush. Could see the dust rising in their rear & soon there was no more (to our view anyhow). Then moved up to the front in line of battle & the skirmishing went on all day. We was relieved in turns & fell back to make coffee & feed horses. Firing was kept up till near night. When our forces crossed the creek, found no Rebs & bivouacked for the night. We camped up by the house and Co. D was for picket. I went out, posted, & made the arrangements. Come up & slept in the Negro quarters. It is raining.

Saturday, July 18th 1863

Francis J. Herron

Maj. Gen. Francis J. Herron

News that all Rebs have fled, that Gen. Herron is coming up from Yazoo City, is within 7 miles of Canton, & that Jackson has been evacuated. Our command hurried out to beat Herron into Canton. His company come in & we stayed to feed & get breakfast. I feel bad. — headache &c. When the company got ready, we moved on to Canton [and] was surprised to find such a beautiful city & much larger than I expected to find it. Splendid Buildings, dwellings, &c. Found the regiment on the opposite side of town in a grove. Guards all over the city and nothing destroyed, very little taken. Troops busy destroying railroad. Our regiment was sent north to Black River through a lovely country and the boys was scattering & having a good time. Got fruit, melons & everything good to eat & some good horses (we got 3, Col. Winslow got mad & it ceased). We destroyed railroad — the [Way’s Bluff] bridge across Black River, large battlework, storehouses, &c. A very hot day to work. Moved back & fed. It rained hard. Then we struck for Canton late in the evening. Passed through about 10 at night. City lighted by fire along the railroad. Troops all gone. City undisturbed, Found the troops on Bear Creek. We camped at same place [Briscoe’s], 6 mile this side of Canton late in night.

Sunday, July 19th 1863

All quiet there. News of all kinds but none that I feel very safe to rely on. It’s all good but maybe too much so. Got a good rest last night. Feel almost well today. We started out in advance for Jackson. Moved along in fine spirits through heat & dust for a 24 mile trip today — one of the hottest days of the season. Halted for 2 hours within 10 miles of Jackson. Had a good shade & took a good rest. The infantry come up with us almost give out. Got all we could eat & fed horses on green corn. Moved out about 4 P.M. Dusty riding. I rode with P. Keck & talked all the evening. We learn that the Rebels nearly all got away, 2 or 3 hundred taken, & only one siege gun. The 9th Army Corps is on the move for Vicksburg & ’tis thought the whole army will go back now & rest. The capture of Richmond needs confirmation, but Lee has been whipped, Port Hudson taken, &c. We camped in the grove in front of the Asylum late in the night. No water or feed & we soon took ourselves to rest upon the hard ground.

Monday, July 20th 1863

We found a little the hardest spot of ground last night to rest on that I ever tried. Couldn’t sleep. Rumble was my pardner in the unlucky affair. He tried it on all sides. Rooted me out & tried my place. All quiet this morning. I’ve got orders to stay here & rest all we could today. Used pond water. Got 2 loads of corn about 10 oclock a.m. & fed. I rested all I could for heat. Wrote some here. Went up to the Asylum. Read a paper of the 10th inst. Particulars of Lee’s whipping [at Gettyburg], of the surrender of Vicksburg, the fight at Helena, &c. &c. Got my dinner up there at 4 P.M. Took all the boys that wanted to go (about 20) & went into the city. Looking at the fortifications [and] then at the destruction of the city. The business part of it has all been burned. Went to Pearl River & took a swim. Then round to the lower & westward works — the former where [Brig. Gen. Jacob G.] Lauman made his desperate charge. Found the signs of destruction there. Got to camp after dark. Eat supper. To move at 9 am. Then to rest with orders.

Tuesday, July 21st 1863

Novel read by Lot Abraham in 1863

Novel read by Lot Abraham in July 1863

Reveille at 1 ½ this morning and as we occupied the same hard location, it found me awake but very sleepy. Got breakfast & was in our saddles at 3 a.m. as per orders. Had to fool along as usual though & it was daylight when we passed through the city enroute for a camp of rest at or near Vicksburg. Took a last fond look at the city, moved 4 miles, & was halted & turned into the brush here where ’tis said we wait till tomorrow for Steel’s Division to rest. They have been to Brandon destroying railroads. Got back last night. ‘Tis cloudy today & very hot. I took a good sleep & rest under some small trees in the brush. Heat awoke me. The boys are stretched all around sleeping & sweating. Some swearing. No feed for horses, pond water for men and beast. I don’t know what to do. Have nothing to read & it’s too hot to do anything. Got a paper of the 8th & read it through. Accounts & descriptions of the great Battle at Gettysburg — the victories of July 4th, & at what glorious news for soldiers. I commenced reading a book of 400 pages — India, or the Pearl of Pearl River.

Wednesday, July 22nd 1863

Orders to start at 5 a.m. When the hour arrived, it found no one ready. I was just going to get my breakfast. Went on & eat hearty. Come back & found the boys beginning to eat & Maj. hurrying us. Some didn’t get a bite & some eat till satisfied. We moved, reached Clinton, and another mile brought us to a halt for this day at least. 2 days & 10 miles from the city. Have a nice grove here & got corn to feed & tolerable pond water. I read the time away in my book that has become quite interesting. ‘Tis a very hot day. Have plenty to eat (without variety). I eat hearty. Feel quite well though not stout. Made a soldier bring back a horse that he took out by Canton & sold to one of the 5th Illinois for 40 dollars. I told the company no more speculation of the kind would be allowed in the company. Finished my book before night. Have nothing else to read. No news here of any kind. We are shut out from the world it seems. Don’t know what the army is doing. Suppose it is following us back (or part has already gone). It looks like rain tonight. I eat a hearty supper. Feel well. Made my bed under ponchos with H. M. D.

Thursday, July 23rd 1863

No rain yet. Hot & dusty. Up early but no move for today. Got plenty of feed and though rations are scarce. all seem contented. We have no news yet. I got a Bible & read awhile. Then slept a short time in our hovel but it got too warm for me. The day passes rather slowly. I read 12 chapters of the Acts — a little religious book. Want to be doing something. Thought of writing letters but that’s no use now. The day seemed long. Have orders to move at 6 a.m. tomorrow. Looks a little like rain.

Friday, July 24th 1863

Got ready for the march but had to wait till about 8 a.m. on the infantry passing. Then brought up the rear. Our regiment in advance though. 8 miles brought us to Bolton Station about noon. Camped on the same ground we occupied the 7th & 8th. Got Dinner. Fed green corn. I read most of the time. Eat hearty & feel very well. Stay in the house. No news certain yet. The infantry moved out in the evening.

Saturday, July 25th 1863

Very hot day. We are all quietly resting. I had a good bed to lounge on till I got tired of that. Reading magazines &c. Fed corn at noon. Got dinner & moved out at 2 P.M. Our regiment in rear. Our Battalion in rear. I was next company to rear. Tedious moving. About 10 or 12 miles brought us to Messenger’s [Ferry] on Black River. Crossed on same bridge that we did before & camped along the fence this side. Draft for all sides. Hear that Lee had succeeded in crossing the Potomac with a loss of 27 thousand, [and] that Morgan has gone over into Indiana on a big raid. I have some hope that he will never get back. [Also heard] that Chattanooga has been evacuated by the Rebels & that Rosecrans is marching for there (was near at last account). ‘Tis a clear, warm moonlight Saturday night. We are scattered about on the grass. Open ground in rear of our horses — they tied to the fence. I begin to wish for the mail & news from camp & from home. Now over a month since I have any account of them. Couldn’t sleep till later in night.

Sunday, July 26th 1863

Started from slumber on the wet grass at sound of bugle. Early breakfast & started to hunt camp. Come down Black River. Not very near it, 5 or 6 miles, found this camp about 2 miles from the river. 3 from Black River Bridge where the Depot is there are to get forage & supplies. Camp very level woodland & not shade enough quite. Didn’t do much for awhile. Awaiting for the mail. ____ & Adjutant come first & from them I learned the sorrowful news that Lieut. [John T.] Tucker died at Milldale the 19th inst. very suddenly. Nothing could have shocked me more. I can hardly think ’tis so yet. His body sent home by Westfall. Ogg & helper got sick furlough for 30 days. Henry Brown has been discharged at Cincinnati, Ohio July 11th. Mail come in large quantities. I got a lot of it. News from home to the 12th inst., from Neal the 4th, Dick 8th, Noah the 9th where he says—“As to being a traitor & deserving worse than a traitors grave. I have something to say but not now. I shall keep it for future use.” I hope we will live to see each other face-to-face, that our joy may be full. [My brother] John was harvesting. Talks of the horse &c. Says he could make it pay if I was there. Had got my money, [Sister] Mag asks if all soldiers are like Andrew W & keep still.

Sunday, July 26th 1863

Lieut. [George J. Sharp’s [resignation] papers have been accepted July 23th & he ceased to be an officer. I am alone. Lieut. come to try & get Butler discharged & go home together. Butler is nearly crazy.  The train come up & brought part of my camp equipage [but] didn’t bring my tent & we had a heavy rain in the evening. Got wet. The ground is too level here — leaves water standing. Lieut. & I went up to the [plantation] house [owned by] Flowers & made our bed on the porch. I wrote a letter to mother by candlelight.

Monday, July 27th 1863

Camp at Flower’s Plantation, Mississippi. Rained hard last night. Blew in on us. Stirred out early. ‘Tis cloudy & cool today & our regiment mess broke up & I have to depend on No 1 for living & by the way, tis scanty fare. Not much doing today except building of bunks, hut or shelters of any kind. Sharp is busy about Butler’s trouble. No news — only a confirmation of what we have had. My tent come too late to be put up though and and we repaired to the porch again.

Tuesday, July 28th 1863

Camp at Flower’s Plantation. Weather cleared up pleasant. Put up my tent & fixed up comfortable. Lieut. [Sharp] got Butler’s papers & they left about 2 P.M. in the little wagon for Bovina Station 9 miles to take the cars for Vicksburg. The boys are hauling timber making comfortable quarters. I found out ’twas intended to move camp & had them quit. Wrote some in the evening a letter to Noah telling him to say just what he wanted to and try to do it in a friendly manner, that I didn’t say he deserved a traitor’s grave &c. Alone in my tent late [left side]. A Heavy rain in the evening [right side]. Bibb came in to my tent. We had a long talk. Concerns by ourselves late all night.

Wednesday, July 29th 1863

Clear off. Cool today. I started for Bovina Station early to get provisions for a Mess with officers of 1st Battalion. Heavy rain had washed away all the bridges over little streams. Had a rough ride. Found Lieut. & the boys there yet as no train had left. Some of the 25th with them. We run about awhile but found nothing ‘cept soda. I got my provisions — 31 dollars worth. Started it home by the boys in little wagon. They started around on different route.  I went in a tent to get a picture taken, got very bad one. Tried several times and could do no better. Wanted one to send home so bad that I took it anyhow [for] $1.50. Hunted through different camps for sutlers. Found nothing but little things to eat. Got $3.50 worth & then quit hungry. Took a different route coming back. Arrived about 4 P.M. after a long ride. We started our Mess. Mail come, got Home Journal of 18th. Read it through. Capt. Drummond better. The home news is not much this time. A word to the ladies is good. No letters for me this time. I wrote to Ogg by candlelight.

Page from Lot's Diary

Page from Lot’s Diary

Thursday, July 30th 1863

Weather clear and pleasant. I was detailed as officer of day. Commenced moving camp early. Move about ½ mile northward promiscuously to a better camp. I had my equipments loaded early and was among the 1st on the ground arranging camp. ‘Tis nice, shady, rolling ground (no underbrush) [with] a good spring near where the water is fired up a sum 2 feet about the water in the branch. Good water too. Put the camp in good shape forming a square — a Battalion on each side and Headquarters,  hospital &c. on the other. I had a detail of men cleaning off hospital grounds & about camp fixing spring &c. All P.M. nearly sick myself. Got my tent up & bunk made but Booker is very slow— Boys are getting along fine with theirs. I got a new hat today (accidentally though) — a poor one & too little for $5.00. No news today. I have a very bad cold & headache. Alone in my tent.

Lot Abraham

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