Letters From Three Soldiers
Submitted by site visitor and researcher
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,
The Regiment left New Madrid June 7th, 
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.
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,
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.