January ~ March, 1862

New Year’s Day 1862

Very cold & the ground coated with ice. I almost give up seeing any visitors today on account of the cold & ice and after such a breakfast as we had, served to us in the hall before daylight this morn (a few beans, some poor coffee, & bread) who would be glad to see the generous people of Liberty coming. About 11, I was gratified by seeing quite a number come with loads of goodies as usual. I went into the first that fell in my hands. We had a big dinner & I felt more like eating than ever before in this encampment. The day soon passed away & nobody seemed to enjoy it much. John, Kate & Susan was here. They started home immediately after dress parade. I visited several other companies tonight, danced some, & found in one tent a man 6 feet 6½ inches high. Had to give it up. Beat.

Up to this date, January 3d, nothing of importance had occurred. Some snow has fell & the weather continues cold. All hands seem to be in low spirits. It’s nothing uncommon to hear someone wish the whole regiment was in Hell & use varieties of language similar. It has become almost impossible to get away from here & at the same time we are doing nothing (except eat what little we get to eat). We get not news of any kind except lies made up by the devilish boys for sell. the prospects for war with England increases as they are not satisfied with the surrendering of Mason & Slidell but ask more. There seems to be no movements in our great armies.

Saturday the 4th

I got a pass about 3 & went to the Col’s office. He signed it & let me have a horse to ride home where I arrived about dark & took a big supper as usual.

Sunday the 5th January 1862

Snowing rapidly. I felt strange — as though I was out of place or something of the kind but took an active part in eating and felt like looking at all the old books and papers on the place. It continued to snow until about 2 o’clock P. M. Then ceased with about 8 or 10 inches. Rebecca & Dick come up about 2½ & then we was all there together. I felt as though it might be the last time for awhile but can hardly tell nothing about it yet. After taking dinner, they loaded my satchel with provisions. John got out my horse, brought him to the door, I mounted & rode away. Reached camp about dark, found things in almost an uproar & some of the boys seemed glad to see orderly come.

Monday the 6th

A beautiful winter day. The camp presents a romantic appearance as we look at it from headquarters & the boys are all full of hope as the paymaster has actually come & we have some hopes of leaving here soon. John come to camp about noon with a barrel of molasses [and] sold to our company for 30 cts. per gallon. Then I got in the sled & went to town with him without authority from anyone. Mother was there & we went & got my suit of black cut out & trimmed. Mother took it home to make for me. Then I felt rather mean about being there without a pass so I went to Col. & he gave me a pass to come & go as I pleased. I thought that was sound & hurried back to camp.

Tuesday the 7th January 1862

Cloudy & disagreeable. The camp was all alive today. Companies commenced going to town for pay early in the morning. Our turn came about 3 o’clock when we formed in column of twos & marched to the Col’s. Office in good order, halted on the pavement in front, & waited for turns. Mine came first & in I went & received $57.33 for my time up to the 1st of this month (20 dollars per month). Next came the sergeants. They received 17 per month, then corporals 14 per month. Then came the ranks by turn receiving 13 per month. It took piles of money. then Capt. [Spearman] turned the company loose for ½ hour. During that time money almost flew. Col. & Surgeon were afraid they would take the town but when the time was up, we soon got them into ranks again & made our way to camp somewhat noisy. I collected about 20 dollars of our Home Guard uniform money that night.

Wednesday the 8th

Cloudy & thawing some. Nearly everybody wanted to go to town this morning. I felt sick & was so hoarse I could hardly talk. Went up to town, paid the taxes which was only 25 dollars, paid the 10 dollars boot money that I promised in that team trade, then paid the lightning rod of (5.75). Saw John in town. They had a big row in a saloon between some of our boys & some of [Orrin] Miller’s Company [C]. I was there but wouldn’t go in. Hort [Detrick] got stabbed in the back. They took some of them to the guard house. It ended. We rode some horses out to camp late in the eve. I was sick all night.

Thursday the 9th January 1862

Weather cloudy & cold. I could hardly talk this morning & had the headache bad. Took a sick list to the Surgeon & he told me I was taking the measles (they have been raging in camp for some time). I got ready & left camp immediately. Noah Heater brought me home in his sleigh. It was my first sleigh ride [this season]. I have been here in the house ever since pretty sick, but no measles appeared. The weather has been very cold all the time.

Saturday the 11th

John went up to town & brought cousin Mit Greenwood down. She come down on the cars in the morning. Joe Ennis come along & stayed until Sunday the 12th, then he footed it back to camp. I was up part of the time everyday & read some.

Tuesday the 14th

Was cloudy & cold. I could talk much better & was clear of the headache. Miss Lizzie Mitchel was here & they all wanted to go to Mr. Dickeys.’ I took the sleigh & team & we went up there & spent the day. It was snowing when we come home in the eve. There was to be a big sleigh ride at night but it was snowing too hard for them so they concluded to go down to Andrews’ only & I went along. Had a cold ride down there facing the drifting snow. Stayed till about 11. Went through a charade game that was interesting. Had a pretty good time. I rode home in the big sled with the crowd. Talked to Miss Favor & found her quite talkative for once. It was after midnight when I went to bed.

Wednesday the 15th January 1862

About 4 inches more snow. It cleared off & is pleasant but cold enough. I didn’t get up very early. Felt well. Wrote something over 2 pages of this as I had neglected it so long. Had to skip some. Had a notion to go to camp this morn. Went over to Heaters’ about noon, stayed awhile, then went up to school. Mr. Gore teaching. I found it very noisy. Scholars done about as they pleased. I stayed till night, then went home. Felt pretty well. Wrote a constitution for an Elocution Society at Liberty.

Thursday the 16th


The appointment of Thomas Drummond (1832-1865) as Lt. Col. of the 4th Iowa Cavalry was approved by President Lincoln in December 1861. Drummond, a former civilian and politician with no prior military training, was not well received by the men of Company D who referred to him as “his honor.” Drummond soon resigned from the unit (June 1862) and accepted a commission as Captain in the 5th U.S. Cavalry.

Very cold. Got ready for camp this morn & John brought me to town in the sleigh. The girls — Kate & Mit [Greenwood] — come along. We went to the artists. Mit got her picture for [Joe Ennis] to take to war, I guess. I got mine in a large case for mother to keep. We all come out to camp then & I found things looking gloomy. About 20 of the boys sick &c. I did dread it for certain. John & the girls only stayed a short time & then drove away. I felt (Oh! how lonesome) as they drove away from camp across the meadow and as far as I could see I watched them. In the evening I took my books &c. from Sergt. [Martin] Rice & resumed my ta___ which has increased very much since the arrival of Lieut. Col. [Thomas] Drummond which was the 12th. Now we have to learn it nearly all over again. The boys was telling something new all the time & I saw his honor [Drummond] at dress parade for the 1st & some of his new movements. Felt unnatural all eve & coughed hard nearly all night.

Friday the 17th January 1862

Snowed a little last night. I felt rather under & sick today but had to go it from early morn till late at night. 1st was seen at guard mount. About half the regiment was out to see the performances. He made us toe the mark that he laid down. It may be right, we don’t know. The next was when I had to go to his honors presence to get some papers signed (I had heard of his requirements but waited his orders) first was to doff my helmet & that was something I had never intended to do to any man. But off it come. Then who was I which I told. Then he ordered me to take the stripe off my pants today. Then I got my passes & left. One orderly refused to uncover his pate. When he jumped up & put him out in a hurry. We went to work & got up a petition to Col. Porter & it was a good one sure. I put my name down & got 5 other orderlies too & then 4 refused to sign it & put it in my pocket. All the non-commissioned officers was called out & drilled by his honor at 1 o’clock in the snow. Oh! how I suffered with cold & so went today.

Saturday the 18th

Snowed a little more & is gloomy looking day. I couldn’t sleep good last night on account of my sickness so I wrote (I won’t tell what). The bugle sounded reveille before I was up this morning & oh! the hurrying there was. We was a little behind some other companies. The day passed off about as yesterday. All day I had to trot. The great coats come this morning & was distributed — long black & pretty nice ones. Lieut. Col. [Thomas] Drummond called [Densmore] Cramer up today & questioned him close concerning our petition. Oh how Cramer was excited when he come back & told me of it. But I concluded not to fear him, but don’t know what he is going to do. There is a big excitement among the big officers about it. J. M. learning fast. After tattoo tonight great squads of men went to town & one of the officers who met them reported to Capt. Spearman who was officer of the day. He sent some 20 men with muskets after them. Brought some to guard house.

Sunday the 19th

Cloudy & favorable. Had Sunday morning inspection at 9 o’clock. His honor [Drummond] commanding & he inspected also. And then come & inspected the house, bunks, dishes, Butry &c. I didn’t have quite so much to do today. Didn’t feel well by any means. Col. [Porter] was out today & [Densmore] Cramer told him about the petition. We have nothing to fear now.

Monday the 20th [January] 1862

Colonel [Porter] started to Washington City this morn. There is considerable talk about our regiment breaking up. Some’s afraid of it & others praying for it. For my part, neither will do me. Col. Drummond ordered out the guards today.

Tuesday the 21st

About as usual. Good many of the boys sick. Mounted Guard at 9 A.M. & nearly all the regiment was out to see the fun. He put us through savage. Put the guards in front & rear of the stables where they’ll do no good at all. Day passed off about as usual. I had a severe cough.

Wednesday 22nd January 1862

Weather severe. All astir in camp anxious to know our doom & cursing the Lieut. Col. [Thomas Drummond]. Got the news of the great battle in Kentucky & our complete victory.

Thursday the 23rd

Stormy. About as usual in camp today. In the evening John come up with the sleigh. He was very lame in the foot. Wanted me to go home & help him drive the hogs. After considerable talk, we started for home. Stopped in town & heard that Col. Porter had come back & that our regiment was all right & the equipments coming & that we was going to Lane’s Army for certain & pretty soon too. Got home about 9 o’clock.

Friday the 24th

Started the hogs early & drove to town by noon. 20 hogs. They weighed 6,888. Got 1.90 per hundred, then paid off two notes — the last in this clime. Came out to camp in the eve & I concluded to stay so John put back. Found things here about as usual. The clothing commenced coming in in the night about 11 o’clock & they hauled all night.

Saturday the 25th

Weather clear & beautiful. Joe [Ennis] & I started for town before breakfast for fear of missing the cars. I thought it was too early & stopped at the barber shop. Joe went on to the cars. The train was just starting. John & Mit [Greenwood] was there. Joe & her took the cars & left. John come back & told me of it. We then come out to camp. I didn’t pitch into anything. Waited for Capt. [Spearman] to come until 11, then started & drove away to ——- was in school all afternoon. Took a sleigh ride at night. Stayed at —–. Took some hot tea for cough.

Sunday the 26th January 1862

Cloudy & snowing & a very disagreeable day. About 10 we started and drove facing the storm back to the large lonesome brick. About half past one, I left there & drove for camp through the drifting snow. Oh how dreary it seemed. I suffered with cold. A man got in to ride. I made him drive most of the way. Found John & the girls here when I come. They started home late in the eve through the storm.

Monday the 27th

Cold & stormy. Nothing unusual in camp until the Col. come out & ordered the horses out on the parade ground. Then great anxiety prevailed. All the companies had their horses in line in front of their quarters. The Majors drew for choice. Swan got 2nd. Then the captains drew for choice in the 4 lots & we got the last choice. There was only one company of grays in the regiment. They was in our battalion & I was so sure they would be left that I picked out my horse. But behold, they was the 2nd choice. We got a set of browns & bays mixed. Then it was night. Cloudy & thawing. Rained.

Tuesday the 28th

Cold & stormy. Oh! the first thing was to brand out horses with the letter D. Then took them out into lone on the parade ground [and] sized off. The company then gave me choice of them. I selected a good looking bay horse 5 year old about 16 hands high. Then called the roll & each trooper took his horse according to size. Some got bad ones, of course. It was all right with them except one or two who growled like fury. I got mine saddled & rode him to water. Believe I might pick a better one now if I had the chance. The week passed on weather cold & stormy. Went up to town.

Thursday 30th

Got a big pair of overshoes & find them useful. Had my picture taken to leave with sister Becca. The camp was all excitement this eve. The Lt. Col. put a man from C. K in the guard house. Col. Porter let him out immediately. Cheers. Hisses & groans for Lt. Col. [Drummond]. He come running over. Men run out to see & hear. Col. Porter come drove them all in quarters & so it went.

Saturday night, February 1st 1862

In my lonely bunk, 11:10 at night. I write & have been writing all night so far & feel tired. Received saddles today for about ½ the company. Soon had one of the back of my horse (named Hunter). Rode to the creek again, &c. John was up today in the sleigh. Wanted me to go home but I guess I had better stay here for fear they get ahead of me. Was up here in my bunk till midnight fixing out Sunday morning report &c. Felt lonesome thinking of past & future but can promise myself nothing.

Sunday the 2nd [February] 1862

Weather clear & cold. Sunday morning inspection come at 9 o’clock. The regiment drawn up in line looked well. Had to stand in the cold perfectly still. Nothing unusual occurred during the day. I read papers &c. part of the time.

Monday the 3d February 1862

Clear and cold. Boxes came rolling in today containing sabers & saddles. How glad we was to see some arms coming for the 4th Cavalry & to see them commence shoeing horses. It looks a little like it. I went up to town tonight [and] heard Prof. Jocelin lecture on the war & slavery.

Tuesday the 4th

It was hurry, hurry, with me this morning because I didn’t have my morning report made out last night. Had to take the men to Guard Mount without overcoats & we got orders from his honor to never bring men out there without them looking just like a soldier. About 10 the sabers was dealt out to us & all was well pleased with them. They look splendid. Are pretty heavy. We drilled in the afternoon with them. Then went on dress parade. Oh, how splendid it did look to see the bright sabers of the 4th Cavalry gleaming in the sunlight of evening.

Wednesday the 5th

Nearly all the regiment was out mounted this afternoon & looked first rate. They nearly covered the whole meadow. Drilled on foot & with sabers each day. The weather pleasant but rather cold.

Friday the 7th

Cold. We drilled on foot & with sabers & put in the rest of the time in roll call &c. I mounted my horse and rode home after retreat. Found the folks all well except mother. She isn’t very well. They are at work about as usual but it don’t seem natural to be there anymore. I felt lonesome but fed myself well.

Saturday the 8th February 1862

Weather clear and very cold. I took a look around at things but couldn’t tell much about it. They look natural yet. But I believe it would go better if I could be there with them. I started after breakfast & rode to camp. Found Capt. [Spearman] had been scratching the morning report. I hated it.

Sunday the 8th

Cold yet. They put off the inspection 1½ hours & then had the regiment out mounted. His honor [Drummond] swearing as usual. He gave Co. D a round — the performance looked beautiful — especially as they passed in review. We had to stay out there too long. Come in to find the house crowded with spectators. Got a late dinner &c.

Tuesday the 11th

At 10 o’clock P. M., I write while all the camp is still. They feel like resting for his honor has been among the 4th Cavalry making himself felt, keeping every man moving from daylight till dark and so it passed on.

Wednesday the 12th

Was snowy. We drilled &c. In the eve, it was snowing hard but [William] Jollif & I thought we would have the lady’s wish gratified so I got him a pass & we put out afoot & went but she didn’t know him. Most all of them knew me. We had some good fun over her mistake & was soon well acquainted with all. The night passed off in play, song & eating pumpkin pie &c. It was about 3 o’clock when we got to camp & the weather was then clear & cold.

Thursday the 13th February 1862

Clear & very cold. Nothing done in camp. I read the Articles of War to our company again. After dark I wrote a letter for Lot [Spainhower] — one that he intends to wind up the business with Jane B. He’s jealous, poor fellow. Called the roll at 8. Then took Pickel’s 1st & 2nd & went to a dance. There was quite a respectable crowd there, but oh1 the cold, the cold. I had several pretty good dances. No loft in the way nor no quarreling. All went off smooth. It was late when we come to camp. The week passed off but brought some good news from Fort Henry &c.

Sunday the 16th

Was a pleasant day. Inspection come off in good style this morning. Beck, Dick & the girls was up today. Stayed a long time. There was crowds of visitors here to see the sights. it thawed & melted snow.

Monday the 17th

Clear & thawing. we drilled rapidly &c. at noon. I had my hair shingled off close. Went out to drill in the afternoon & nearly froze. It turned cold & Oh how cold on dress parade. After retreat, Corp’l. Detrick & I started on foot for Liberty and made the trip in less than 2 hours. Found only a few there & then not doing much. I was sadly disappointed. Only stayed a short time, then went home. Stayed up & talked till about 1 o’clock, then layer down awhile.

Tuesday the 18th

Hort [Detrick] come with his sleigh about 4 o’clock & we rolled out for camp. As it was, we didn’t suffer much. Got to camp. We heard the good news of the surrender of Fort Donelson &c. Oh how [we] rejoiced. The day was too cold to do anything.

Wednesday the 19th February 1862

Cloudy & snowy. The day passed off with drill &c. Considerable excitement about the good news from Dixie & more about the taking of Dean & Randolph. The latter & a Mr. Gillis was brought to the guard house & made [to] carry a chunk of wood & walk a circle. We all — or nearly all — went to the city tonight & up to the Union Hall to the concert. Paid a ¼ apiece for the benefit of our band. It was cold & snowing when I got back. I took some milk & pie & hastened in.

Tuesday the 20th

Clear & very pleasant. We drilled as usual. I wanted to go some place very bad & finally calculated to go. Then got ready & after dinner mounted, rode to town, stayed a short time, then put out toward the south. Stopped at several places on the road & rode fast part of the time. Reached there just before night & surprised —— very much. Didn’t know me. Stayed & enjoyed a good visit. Started about 4 o’clock & had a long, sleepy, lonesome ride of it. Reached camp just before reveille.

Friday the 21st

Then had to pitch in like fury. Got along well with my morning work. After hearing that we was going to St. Louis immediately, and order was sent  in about 9 o’clock that we come out on inspection at 10 & each day following until next Wednesday, then leave Camp Harlan. The camp was alive. Inspection went off in good style. I went to town with Capt. [Spearman] & he arrested E. __. Hill, made him take the oath. I brought F. Yocum to guard house. Went back to town. Stayed till about night. Slept well alright.

Saturday the 22nd February 1862

Cloudy but pleasant. Washington Birth Day and great excitement prevailed. The regiment turned out in full strength & went through parade & inspection, then marched to the city. It looked beautiful marching in column of fours & reached so far back that we could never see the end. The town was blocked — full of spectators, doors & windows full — all looking at the gallant Iowa Horsemen. [We] paraded through the principle streets & right back to camp & dismissed. Some loud cheering was done at retreat & all the Marshall boys went home this eve. I took possession of Rice’s bunk & wrote till I got tired. Then laid down there & took a good sleep.

Sunday the 23rd

Cloudy & thawing. I made out my morning report as though all was present & then I was uneasy for fear we would have inspection & sure enough an order came for it & we had to go but they didn’t count us & all was right. Inspection went off in splendid style. Our quarters was crowded with spectators all day. Late in the eve, the Marshall boys come in & then the Liberty boys rolled out for their last visit home — myself with the rest. I rode down the old road home that so often I’ve traveled before turned into the same lane & rode up to my good home. Found all there, brothers & sisters, & my good old mother in bed sick (I fear with grief). I almost shuddered at the thought of bidding her farewell. Stayed up & talked till about midnight. then went to bed with brother John in our own little room. Didn’t sleep very sound.

Monday the 24th February 1862

It snowed some last night & turned cold & is very cold this morning. I found myself awake very early this morning thinking of the past & more particularly of the future. And of the time when I will be found here again & then the thought of bidding adieu would come rushing into my mind. Got up in good time for breakfast after giving up the idea of getting to camp for reveille. I took a good look at all around this morning, the stock & all, give John some instructions &c. Couldn’t talk much. After breakfast, saddled up my horse, brought him out & got ready. The scene that followed then I never could describe, but I was soon on my horse & rode away at a full gallop, occasionally casting my eyes backward toward my good home until it was left out of sight behind. Then rode thoughtlessly along to camp, found all right. I sat around rather tired out. Didn’t do much. Drilled a regimental drill at 2 o’clock. It was pretty good but our captain wasn’t here. When I come back to quarters, I received a note from a friend. I went through the regular routine for evening, then got ready & went to town where I found my friend. Then went up to the Union Hall to the concert which was a sell. After that I had a good time for a wile, then sorrowful.

Tuesday the 25th February 1862

Sgt. Lot Abraham (1862)

Orderly Sgt. Lot Abraham (25 Feb 1862)

Clear and pleasant. My eyes was nearly run down but had to get up & go it. We didn’t have to drill today. Got another order to leave tomorrow morning at 5 o’clock. I fixed up my clothes in my satchel & my horse equipments to my saddle, then that was done. The rooms, hall & all was crowded to overflow with spectators. John & the girls, Dick & Beck was here. I went up to town afternoon & fixed up the deed & bond between them & us. Then I went & had my picture taken twice in my uniform. It was getting late & they had to go home. I bid them all farewell, sisters & Dick, & they drove off for home. John went with me & we stopped & saw my friend. Then come on out to camp. Found all stirring, getting ready to leave. There was a good many spectators here tonight. Not much done tonight. I’m here in my lonely bunk for the last night writing in my journal for the last time. And now I bid both a farewell that may be forever. — Lot Abraham.

The Final Entry in Lot Abraham's Diary

The Final Entry in Lot Abraham’s Diary

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