Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Post image for Downing’s Civil War Diary.–Alexander G. Downing.

Downing’s Civil War Diary.–Alexander G. Downing.

August 27, 2013

Diary of Alexander G. Downing; Company E, Eleventh Iowa Infantry

Thursday, 27th—Leaving our Oak Ridge bivouac early this morning we journeyed fifteen miles more and stopped for the night on the banks of Bayou Said, only seven miles from Monroe, our destination. During the day we crossed another ridge known as Pine Ridge, which is eight miles across and about twenty feet above the surrounding land. It is beautifully covered with yellow pine, growing so straight and tall, seventy-five to one hundred feet. We noticed a few small clearings with log huts. This is the worst bivouac we have yet occupied. It is full of poisonous reptiles and insects, centipedes, jiggers, woodticks, lizards, scorpions and snakes of all kinds—I have never seen the like. Some of the boys killed two big, spotted, yellow snakes and put them across the road—they measured about fifteen feet each. The ground is covered with leaves ten inches deep, and the water of the bayou has a layer of leaves and moss fully two inches thick.[1]

[1] This proved to be our most dangerous Journey in all our four years’ service. The natives told us the next morning that no Southern soldiers could have been hired to do what we did. I have often wondered and would like to know, just as we did then, why we were sent into this forsaken section of the country, and during the most sickly time of the year, at that! The natives we saw were a white-livered set; they were all ardent sympathizers of the secession cause.—A. G. D.

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