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Letters From Three Soldiers


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Letters From Three Soldiers
Submitted by site visitor and researcher David Wildman

These are excerpts from letters, memoirs, and diaries of three members of the 38th Iowa Volunteer Infantry, describing their experiences while traveling aboard the Daniel G. Taylor on their way to Vicksburg.

· Brickner, Conrade H. I. Personal History of Conrade H. I. Brickner of Decorah, Iowa. Winneshiek County Historical Society, Decorah. Transcribed by S. E. Brickner, 1909.

The Regiment left New Madrid June 7th, [1863] on the steamer, D.G. Taylor, going down the river having on board the 37th, Ill, Regiment . . .

· State Historical Society of Iowa Library, Des Moines, (Micro film).
Fayette Pioneer 1860 - 1864
Author of this letter is unknown.
Army Correspondence.
Camp Near Vicksburg, Miss.
June 18, 1863

The 24th Mo., came down on the D. G. Taylor and when they got off we took passage on her to our place of destination, wherever it might be, and about the middle of the afternoon the drums beat, we swung knapsacks and fell into line in front of our barracks, marched down to the boat and took our place as assigned to us by the officers, then at a quarter past 6 P. M., we bid farewell to ft. Thompson, to try our fortunes in the sunny south; at about a quarter past eight we stopped at a wood yard, where the deck hands loaded wood all night. 8th. This morning at about five o'clock we started for Memphis, Tenn. We passed a few small towns along the river, one of which was Gayoso, (This place, to use the Yankee phrase, is so large that it can't be seen for the houses (or rather for the want of houses). The next place we passed was Ashport, Tenn., and passing down the river we came to Ft. Pillow, Tenn. This is a nice place and has a good command of the river being hilly. The country for some distance along the river is hilly and bluffy, but not a stone or rock can be seen. The hills are said to be caused by an earthquake in 1811. For some distance along the river below Ft. P. the banks are so steep that they look as though they were dug down by men. The next place of any importance is Ft. Wright, Tenn. This place was held by the rebels, but they evacuated it, destroying what they could, the chimnies (sic) still stand as monuments of the fact. A slight accident having happened to the boat near here, we stopped to make some repairs.


· Fuson, Joseph B. Diary, Dec., 8,1862-July 14, 1863. U. S. Military History Institute, Carlisle Barracks, PA. Transcribed by Arnella K. Turner, Assistant Professor, American Thought and Language, Michigan State University, Michigan, 1977.

June 8, 1863

… about the middle of the afternoon the packing blew out of one of the main steam pipes and we came near being blown up - but finally landed and let her cool down and fixed it - we passed on smoothly until just dark when the rope that managed the rudder broke just as we were making a turn - the stern swung around against the land and came nigh recking her.

June 9, 1863

Left [Memphis] for Vicksburg at 4 afternoon on same old creaky boat - sounding for bottom lost one rudder - sailed on with one pleasantly till 11 o'clock at night - lay over on acct of dark and storm till morning.
Brickner, Conrade On our way down we were much crowded with the two Regiments. The only comfortable place I could find one night to stretch myself out on the floor at the back end of pitman that turned the large side wheel. I did not sleep for a long while. The dipping of the paddles, rushing of water and escaping steam would not permit, yet I slumbered some I know not how long when, what is the matter, Bells were ringing, whistles screaming, timbers cracking and floor heaving up under me. I skedaddled. What was up? Struck a snag and tore off part of the wheel house. Ship carpenters soon made sufficient repairs for the time and we continued on our way down to the mouth of Yazoo river and up to Sherman's landing. . .

Fayette Pioneer - The boat being repaired, we started and traveled until night, when she ran upon a snag and disabled one of her rudders, and we had to stop again to repair, and some thought we would have to lie there all night, and we were admonished to have our guns and ammunition where we could get them at a moment's warning, as there was some fear that the guerrillas might make a raid on us; but the boat was finally put in running order and we ran to Memphis and put in for the night.

9th. This morning the steamboat had to be loaded with coal to last to Vicksburg and back, and about forty of us, though contrary to the regulations, were detailed to load the coal instead of the deck hands doing it, and several hundred bushels had to be loaded, this being done, a lot of hay was put on board for the mules and horses, then about the middle of the afternoon we started for Helena, Ark., got within twelve miles of that place and put up for the night.

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Baldwin, Horace C. Letters 1862-1864. Letters To Kate, Transcribed by Susan Madsen Harris
©2002-2003-2004. Presented at: http://iagenweb.org/chickasaw/militaryltrstokate.htm

On Board Steamer, D.G. Taylor
June 10, 1863

Here we are dear Kate gliding down the river almost to our place of destination. We left Memphis yesterday afternoon at 3 o'clock and passed Helena this morning at day light. Our boat is loaded so heavy that we do not run nights. It has rained pretty much all the while since we left, but as our old boat is so roomy we manage to keep dry - The men have to huddle close together as you can judge for yourself when I tell you that there is over nine hundred soldiers on board.

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