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Evening Gazette

Cedar Rapids, Iowa 

Vol 5, #29

Friday, February 11, 1887




Front Page

The Veterans' Corner To-day


Contains some highly interesting features; Joe McLelland tells a most indirous story of his experience at a widow's house where he boarded while in New Orleans, and Mr. Anthony's letters describe the first battle they were in, Prairie Grove.  Do not fail to read the Veterans' Corner.





Ed. Gazette: In you oft-repeated request that I should give you some of my recollections of the war, you asked me to give you the "lights," not the "shadows," of those stirring times.  Well, was has its sunshine as well as its clouds - that is to say, was has its comedies as well as its tragedies; but in writing of the war now, twenty-one years after it is past, it is very hard to keep the latter from coming to the front, but in giving you my "recollections" of six months on duty in New Orleans during the war, I shall write from memory, tell truthfully in my own way something of what I saw, heard, and was while on duty there, believing that the readers it may find will not be harmed by it, and hoping only that they may learn something of the "way things were done" in the "First city of the South."


Early in the month of January, 1864, I was ordered on duty in New Orleans.  I was to take charge of a camp of distribution.  To this camp were sent all recruits from the north for the "Department of the Gulf," and from here they were taken to the regiments for which they were recruited.  After arriving in the city my first concern was to find a pleasant place to board.  Meeting a colonel of an Indiana regiment I asked him if he could direct me to such a place telling him I had been "fetched up" in the country, knew little of, and cared less for, high living and style, but wanted a "good, quiet place."  The old colonel with delight said, "I have it," thon went on to state that he had been stopping at the home of a widow, but he was now going north for thirty days, that the widow and her two daughters had requested him if he could to send a Yankee officer there to "stay for company more than for anything else."  They lived in an elegant home in a nice part of the city.  The girls were very pretty, could play and sing and were very agreeable as well, and the mother was a very remarkable woman.  so young looking and so young feeling too.


"Stop, colonel, you have said enough," I said, not being able to hold myself any longer.  "I must see those people."


"Well," said the Colonel, "you meet me at the St. Charles this afternoon and I will take you with me, as I am going up to bid them good-bye."  So toward evening the Colonel and I sauntered through a number of streets, the names of which were not pronounceable to me, and at last he stopped in front of a house on Paytannia street and said "this is the place,"  As I looked toward the house, the first thing which drew my attention was two large watch dogs, one on either side of the front door.  Their attitude was threatening at first sight, but I soon learned that they were made of bronze, and, of course, were harmless; had, perhaps, been sitting there for twenty years, and, in fact, may be sitting there to-day, but the colonel, all unmindful of the dogs, led me into the house as if it were his own home, through the hall into the front parlor, on into the back parlor, where we met the lady of the house.  After the speech of introduction was over (and it was painfully long) the colonel spoke my piece for me, thereby giving me great relief.  "Yes," she said, turning to me, "I shall be very glad to have you stay at my home while you remain in the city."  I then asked her how much per week she would want from me while staying at her home, and she then said to me, "You have a servant, of course." I told her I had.  She then told me that if I would let my servant be her servant to wait in the dining room, she would only charge me $10.00 per week.  So the matter was settled.  I was to come the next evening to tea.  How much the lady discounted the regular price list because of the desire she had for my "company" I never learned, but it surely could not have been much.


As the Colonel and I walked from the house to the street he said to me that he knew I would be "more that pleased with my place," and as he said this I thought I saw a twinkle in his eye, which meant that he was having much fun to himself, but I said nothing.


Next morning I sent Jim, my nigga, to Mrs. DeLamburn's, No. - Paytannia street, telling him that that lady wished him to work for her; that she would board him and pay him something beside.  This "Jim" was a black man of fine form and pleasant face.  He did not know how old he was, but "reconed" he must be mighty nigh unto twenty-seven years.  He had no knowledge of his father and his "mamy" was sold away from him when he was a very little "brat."  He was owned by a man in Yazoo City, where he came to me.  He told me that he was "mighty handy" with tools and had for twenty-one years been paying his master $6 every Saturday night for his own time and yet earned enough more than that to feed and clothe himself, and in 1861 would bring in good money "on the block" $2,000.  But Jim, like most of his race, would not always tell the truth, but I did not care so much for this, but he always had the wool on his head full of matches day or night, sleep or awake, wet or dry, Jim always had his head full of these "igniters" and I was fearful that some day he would be cremated.  The afternoon of the same day found me in Mrs. De Lambourn's front parlor taking with the widow and her daughters.  They were all fine talkers, and of their own accord gave me much of their past history.  The husband and father had died early in the war, had been a strong Union man, and because of this Gen. Banks had been very kind to them.  They then went on to say that they had great admiration for the western soldiers, for some of their confederate friends had told them that they were "heroic fighters," and you know," she went on to say, "we southern ladies almost worship the heroic."  I now left for my own room, and as I went up those long stairs I kept thinking that last remark with its rich, mellow tone was the finest thing I had ever heard, and I confess I felt pleased at the implied compliment (as I thought) to myself.  Going into my room I was bewildered by my surroundings.  It was a front room, large and high, the carpet was rich and soft giving back no sound to my footsteps as I walked to the center, where I stopped and took in the following scene.  Standing on each of three sides of the room was a French mirror, reaching from floor to ceiling; there were also three dressing bureaus in the room, and as many washstands, all made of the richest wood and marble and in the "dead corner" of the room was a bedstead, with huge square posts covered with different designs of carved work, and going well up towards the ceiling, where a gilt cornice ran around from post to post, the whole being covered by a canopy of rich crimson satin converging from this cornice to an oval glass in the center high over the mattress, while hard by stood a marble mantel, the shelf of which was full of beautiful ornaments.  Now I had been born in a log house and lived there until I was ten years old, then was taken into a much smaller and worse one, where I slept next to the roof and had often watched the moon and stare through the cracks; then, after going to war, I had lived in a way and slept in places that none but old soldiers can from any conception of, even if they are told - that is to say, I had slept in tents and also in the woods "among the leaves."  I had slept in the mud and on rail piles, on the soft green grass and on the hard dusty roadway.  I had "laid me down to sleep" in the valley by the turbulent river, and more than once stretched my tired lank form on the steep sides of the Boaton mountains, where the weeping clouds hung low, and I could see and hear the lightning flash and hiss off a thousand bayonets, and feel the mountains rock in harmony with the rolling thunder.  I had slept, too, on frozen ground, with a thin cold sheet of snow for covering, and too, I had made my bed in the hot, bloody trenches around Vicksburg and watched with delight Porter's huge 200-pound shells chasing each other toward the sky, and then turning rush after each other down into the doomed city, and I had also "went to bed" "far down below" where I heard the splash of the alligator in the lagoon not fifty feet away, and now the "fortunes of war" had thrown me into Mrs. Le Lambourn's best room, with its elegant belongings.  Was it any wonder that I was dazed with the scene?  In the last two years I had lived weeks at a time without seeing my face in a glass or hearing the voice of a woman, and here, now, I could not get away from my double, as reflected in the mirrors, and in a short time I heard the rich tones of a piano coming up from below, followed by the voice of the oldest daughter, who had commenced singing a Southern song, and as the voice swept on, and up, I was lost to my surroundings in my concern for the girl and things below, for at times when she seemed to be doing her best I thought something must give way and the result might be terrible, and then these efforts would die away in such a manner as to cause me to be fearful that the girl never would catch her breath. * * *  a beggar, it is siad, awake from a sound sleep to find himself in the king's bed.  Alarmed and frightened by his surroundings, he slowly regained his composure as courtier after courtier entered, bowing low to proclaim him king, and he soon came to believe that the present had always existed, while the real past was an idle dream.  So I, as I looked on one beautiful thing after another, soon regained my self-possession and for the time-being almost forgot my past life and lived only in the present.  But all things here below have an end, and so had this.  A sound coming from the open door caused me to look in that direction an dI saw Jim, the nigger, standing at "attention" in the open door, a living smiling picture in a frame, from which these two laconic words, "Tea, Sah" came forth, reminding me that I was still in this vulgar world, where we must all either eat or die.  five minutes later I was down in the dining hall, and seated at the table with the three ladies.  Now this was all easy enough until the "madam" handed me a cup of tea and remarked, "now please feel at home and help yourself."  Now I confess I could not help myself for the very thing I wanted first was not there.  On the center of the table was a very small plate on which was a very little butter, flanked on one side by a piece of dried fish and on the other by four small pieces of cheese.  I suppose it was my confused face that gave the situation away, for the lady bringing her little hands together with much force cried, "Girls, we have forgot the bread!"  This was followed by much confusion all round, after which the sound of the bell brought "Jim" to the front smiling as usual, and the widow said: "Here, Jim, go get five cents worth of biscuit, be smart, too!"  Jim soon returned bringing five small biscuit.  This w3as our "tea" for four persons, and it is only truth to say that I had never up to that time spent so much time eating so little.  Tea over, I handed the lady $10 for one week's board in advance, and she was very profuse in her thanks for what she called my considerate kindness.  That word "considerate" was well chosen on her part, but my consideration not all on her account - partly on my own, for I thought that a little more money would get us something more for breakfast that we had for tea.


I remained in my room that evening, but somehow, with all its wealth of furnishing, it did not make me happy--in fact, whoever knew a man to be happy when he was hungry? and it is but a cold fact to say that I was hungry, and had it been possible I would have exchanged all my elegant surroundings for one half hour at my dear mother's corner cupboard.  Once there, I should have opened the door in the lower part and taken a crock of rich milk; then on the first shelf in the upper part I should have found the loaf of bread and the sweet butter; hard by it, and in the left hand corner a plate of cold meat, and just behind it a dish of pickles, and I knew that in half an hour that voiceless yearning deep down in my innard parts would have been satisfied.  But then all this was wild nonsense.  It could not be, and retiring to my satin covered couch, I was sang to sleep by a quadroons' quartette on the other side of the street, who were singing, "Da Year of Jubilee am a Coming, Coming."


Next morning I found that my "considerate kindness" had not worked in the direction that I had hoped, as the breakfast was no better than the supper had been, and after reporting for duty, soon found time to go to a restaurant near the St. Charles hotel, where I had my second breakfast, for which I paid $1.00.





Camp on the Battlefield of Rose Prairie

December 9, 1862. –


We received orders on the 4th just to March at 4 o’clock p. m. which were subsequently changed.  At 1 o’clock a. m. reveille beat and we were ordered to hurry up and in a short time we were striking tents preparatory for a march south.  We march twenty miles and camped.  At 2 o’clock next morning we were up again for a march of twenty-four miles when we camped.  The next morning early we were again on the move and just at night reached Cross Hollows, distance twenty-two miles.  A little after 1 o’clock a.m. we started again for Fayetteville, eighteen miles, which we reached soon after sunrise.  We stopped about a mile south of town and ate our dinner (which to some o fus proved to be our last dinner) where we first hear the sound of cannon faintly but distinctly.  We were soon moving towards the scene of action which we found to be twelve miles off.  We were soon marched up to support our batter, and ordered to lie down near our battery under cover of a bank.  We had lain there but a few minutes when our Colonel ordered a detail of twenty men from Company A to act as skirmishers, to be commanded by Lieutenant Drake.  He took the section of our company which included myself and we marched off to the left and rear of our regiment to give our men warning if the enemy should attempt to flank us.  In the meantime the artillery was busily at work and soon the rattle of small arms mingled with the roar of cannon and the cheers of the combatants.  The enemy were posted on a range of hills covered with timber while we had to march across an almost level prairie in order to reach them with our infantry.  Our regiment reduced to about one hundred and fifty men, marched up into the woods and engaged the enemy for about half an hour, when they retreated out of the range of fire and awaited further orders.  Our regiment left eight dead on the field and I understand we have about forty wounded.  The enemy acknowledge a loss of sixteen hundred killed and wounded.  They say they lost more here in two hours that they lost at Pea Ridge.  I cannot say how many we have lost.  One of our captains who went over the field before our dead were removed told me he should judge the enemy’s dead doubled ours.  But they had possession of the field during the night and might have removed many of their dead.  I have been over a part of the field and had the satisfaction of seeing many secessionists who will trouble their country no more.  They were a large sized as ours and appeared to be well fed and warmly clothed.  You will see full returns in the papers more full and correct then I am able to give you.  Reinforcements continue to arrive and we shall soon be able to put down all opposition beyond a peradventure.  I am as well as I can expect to be under the circumstances.  My ankle gets lame on our forced marches and my feet blistered, but the others are about as bad off as I am.  For the last two days before the battle I used a cane which I brought on to the field, and then dropped it.  I tell you a battle will put new life into a man.  Company A lost one man, Daniel W. Robbins.  He could not keep up with his company and fell out, but still kept on his way, and is supposed to have fallen in with the 19th Iowa and went into action with them as he was found on that part of the field occupied by that regiment.  The skirmishers detailed from company A did not happen to meet the enemy.  We were not recalled in time to take a part in the firing with the regiment, and the enemy did not flank us being kept back by
General Blunt, I have not had a letter from you for some time.  I expect one the next mail.  We have had some pretty hard marches to do lately and we need some rest.




December 10th. – Eight of our dead being those who died on the field were buried to-day.  We buried in separate graves in a circle, a large oak tree being in the center.  We are all well at present.  I must now stop and go to dinner.  My respects to all.



Camp on the Battlefield of Prairie Grove, Dec. 12, 1862. – I wrote you a letter soon after the battle, but as I have a little leisure I will write again.  In my last letter I called the battlefield by the name of Rose Prairie.  Our lieutenant colonel stated to the regiment on the morning after the battle that the battle would be known by that name, but it was subsequently changed to that of Prairie Grove.  The enemy being posted within the timber, nearly all who fell, fell within the precincts of the grove.  In my last letter I put our regiment at one hundred and fifty.  I did so on the statement of the sergeant major, who should know.  I have since learned we numbered over two hundred.  I am unable to say what our loss may be, but some of our regiments suffered quite severely.  The Twentieth Wisconsin lost fifty-three men killed.  Major Thompson, of our regiment, was shot through the thigh, but was able to ride off the field.  The dead are about all buried.  We had to finish burying the Secessionists.  They appear to be a different kind of men from ours.  Almost every man is what we should call sandy complexion – that is, reddish hair and whiskers.  They are full as large sized as we are, but may not be as well armed in all respects.  I think their power is broken in this part of the state.  In the battle they put the conscripts in front and the volunteers in the rear, with orders to shoot any of them who attempted to run.  I have heard men say, who pretended to know, that many were shot in their endeavor to escape.  There is no doubt but many have been forced into the service who would gladly leave them if they had a chance.  I cannot say how long we shall stay here.  We are about forty miles from Fort Smith, but whether we go there from this place I am unable to determine.  I think our movements will depend in a great measure on the motions of the enemy.  What they may be is probably not yet fully developed.  We have been having most splendid weather, but to-day it threatens a storm, NO COWARDICE IN HIS.


December 14.


We have been having a twenty-four hours rain, and it is raining yet.  I got a letter last night mailed December 2nd, containing four bunches of thread, two handkerchiefs, and a box of cayenne.  I also found a fine comb in my letter.  I do not know as I shall need the silk one; it is too refined for the business we are in.  The other articles came in good time.  I appropriated a few buttons from the dead secessionists while they were lying on the field.  I will enclose one in this letter.  I have also three cartridges taken off the field, two of them taken from the pocket of a dead rebel.  John D___, our first corporal, has been reduced to the ranks for what I should call cowardice.  On the day of the battle he was unable to travel further than the hospital this way, but by some unaccountable freak of good fortune, he found his way back to Fayetteville without difficulty.  I thank God that I had no such feelings.  I felt as anxious to arrive on the battle-field if possible, as I do to return home well and find you all well.  How could I return home if I played the coward?  I should not want to live to disgrace you, my friends and the 20th regiment.  My turn has again come to stand guard and I must get ready.  I am as well as usual.  I must now close, though unwillingly.  I often think of all of you.   J. R. ANTHONY


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All Mexican soldiers that are disabled, and those that are sixty-two years of age, the widows of all Mexican soldiers and all soldiers of the Black Hawk and other Indian wars, and all soldiers of the late war who are disabled and dependent on their own labor for support, and all dependent parents who are dependent on some one else for support, should send their address to Capt. E. H. colcord, Vinton, Iowa.  The late acts of congress will help them.


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