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

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

Sunday, 23d—I started for home, thirty miles distant, with Abner Hatch, who had come down from our neighborhood with a team for the purpose of taking a load of the boys home. We left Davenport at 7:30 o’clock this morning and I reached home at 5 p. m. I found my folks all well. I am at home this time never to go to war again. It was a fine day for a ride in Iowa; it had rained yesterday, and though it was somewhat cloudy, the prairies never looked so nice and green as they did today.

Monday, 24th—It rained all day. I remained at home and brought my diary up to date.

Tuesday, 25th—I went into the harvest field and worked all day at binding wheat.

Wednesday, 26th—Working in the harvest field is making me quite sore, as it is the first of the kind I have done in the last four years.

Thursday, 27th—It is the same thing and nothing of importance.

Friday, 28th—I went out to Tipton today, and in the evening had a fine visit with Miss ——.

Saturday, 29th—Home again from my visits. I have worked three full days now in the harvest field.

Sunday, 30th—I went to church this morning and in the evening went to visit friends, old and new.

Monday, 31st—Today I again went out into the harvest field.



Saturday, 22d—Weather quite pleasant today. Our regiment was paid off this afternoon, and we received our discharge. This makes us free men again and we at once left Camp McClellan for town. I went to the Davis House and stopped for the night. Mr. Hatch came to Davenport for a load of us.

I bought some clothing this afternoon, the first citizen’s suit which I was permitted to wear in four long years. I also bought a good watch for $50.00, which with my clothing, $41.50, amounted to $91.50.

The Sixteenth Iowa arrived this morning from Louisville, Kentucky. The men of our brigade, on being discharged, seem to be scattering to the four ends of the earth; even the boys of Company E, after bidding one another farewell, are going in all directions.

Friday, 21st—It rained all day. No pay yet. Most of the boys are staying down in -town. There is nothing of importance.

Thursday, 20th—We remained in camp all day. No pay yet.

Wednesday, 19th—Our night along the lake shore was quite cool. We arrived in Chicago this morning at 2 o’clock, and then marched to the Rock Island station, where at 8 o’clock we took train for Davenport, Iowa. We arrived at Davenport at 5 p. m. A large crowd of citizens was at the station to receive us, among them our old colonel, William Hall, who gave us an address of welcome.[1] Although he was suffering from sickness, he came to welcome us, and as he could not stand on a platform, he remained in his carriage to address us. We then marched up to old Camp McClellan, where we shall remain till we get our discharge and pay, which we expect in two or three days. The Second and Seventh Iowa have just received their pay and are striking out for home.

[1] “I cannot stand long enough to make a speech, I can only say to the citizens of Davenport, in response to the warm and generous welcome that they have extended to my comrades of the Eleventh Iowa, and myself, that the record we have made as good soldiers from the State of Iowa, while fighting in defense of our common country, will be duplicated by the record we shall make as good citizens, when we shall have returned to homes and loved ones.”—Roster Iowa Soldiers II, p. 282.

Tuesday, 18th—We are still pushing on towards home and everything is all right. Our train ran all night, except when standing on some sidetrack. We arrived at Michigan City a little after dark and changed cars for Chicago.

Monday, 17th—We had our last reveille early this morning. We took down our rubber ponchos, packed our knapsacks, and at 5 o’clock started for the boat landing, where we took the ferry for New Albany, Indiana, crossing the river below Louisville. On our way up the river we passed the headquarters of Generals Logan and Belknap, and each delivered a short speech to us. At New Albany we took the train for Michigan City, leaving at 10 o’clock. We had fairly good passenger cars, but the train was a slow one, as it often had to switch onto sidings to let other trains pass.

Sunday, 16th—It rained all day, and having no duty of any kind, we remained in our “ranches.” We had no services of any kind today, but as we had our last dress parade, and as this is our last Sunday in camp, we should have had some minister come out from the city for our last religious services in camp.

Saturday, 15th—Our regiment, the Eleventh Iowa Veteran Volunteers, was mustered out this morning at 9 o’clock. We were relieved from all duty and turned over to the general quartermaster the regimental teams and everything that does not belong to the individual officers or men. The papers for the rest of the brigade have not yet been made out.

Friday, 14th—I had a time getting the men out this morning when starting around the brigade to relieve the second relief, some refusing to come out of their tents. I finally started with what guards I had, and when I came to a guard for whom I had no man as relief, I told him to fall in behind and go to the guard tent, thus leaving his beat vacant. After I had made the round, I went to the tents of the absentees and ordered them out, each to his own beat number, adding that if they refused I would have them arrested and put in the guardhouse. I went to one chap’s tent the third and last time, and I tell you he did some lively stepping to reach his beat. He was a member of the Sixteenth Iowa. Our muster rolls and discharge papers were all finished today and the accounts with the regimental quartermaster were all squared up; everything has now been inspected and reported ready for mustering out. All the property belonging to the quartermaster will be turned over to him tomorrow morning. Some of the boys in the regiment have bought their Springfield rifles of the Government, paying $7.00 for them. I bought my rifle, as did more than half of the boys of Company E. These are the rifles we received at Cairo, Illinois, in May, 1864. We are entitled to our knapsacks, haversacks and canteens, and of course are taking them with us.