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

Thursday, 13th—I was on camp guard this morning, detailed as sergeant of the brigade guard. This thing of camp guard is about played out, and I suppose it is my last.[1] The guard house or tent has become so dirty that the men on that relief do not want to stay there while not on their beats. I took their names this morning and allowed them to go back to their own tents.

[1] This proved to be the last time that we were on duty of any kind. —A. G. D.

Wednesday, 12th—Very pleasant weather. Our regimental muster-out rolls are almost ready.

Tuesday, 11th—Troops are leaving daily for their homes. The boys are all active in getting everything squared up with one another before leaving for their homes. We get passes to the city as often as we can, to buy things we want before leaving the army for good. The boys are getting small photo gems taken to exchange with one another; I have already received over sixty in exchange.

Sunday, 9th—It rained all day and all of us not on guard remained in our “ranches.” Our camp is on rolling ground and so the water runs off quickly. In this camp we have no bunks built up from the ground, for there was no tearing down of houses to get timbers, but we have straw on which to lay our ponchos. For a roof we have a pole resting on two forks, with four rubber ponchos stretched over the pole and the ends fastened to the ground.

Saturday, 8th—Captain Spencer returned to our company today. He is in ill health and it is supposed that he has consumption. He is a fine officer, tall, and as straight as an arrow. He is kind to his men at all times, on or off duty. We still have dress parade every evening.

Friday, 7th—Our officers have commenced to make out the discharge papers and the muster rolls. The blanks came this morning and the officers of each company have expert penmen at work filling them out.

Thursday, 6th—It is hot and sultry, but as our duty is light we can stay in our “ranches” and keep out of the hot sun. All are happy at the thought of going home soon.

Wednesday, 5th—An order from the War Department came today, ordering the mustering out of all the soldiers of the Army of the Tennessee. All is quiet.

Tuesday, 4th—General Sherman reviewed the Army of the Tennessee today for the last time, our division passing in review at 9 a. m. He made a short speech—a farewell address—to all the troops. He told us that we had been good soldiers, and now that the war is over and the country united once more, we should go home, and as we had been true soldiers, we should become good citizens. This is a rather dull Fourth. I stayed in camp the rest of the day after the review, but in the evening I went down town to a theater—Wood’s theater—for the first time in my life.

For a while today there was a lively time in camp when a lot of the boys tried to break through the guard line. When they failed at that, they next made a raid on the sutlers, who have been doing a big business since our arrival at Louisville. Before the officer of the day could get guards to the sutlers’ tents, the boys had secured a considerable amount of booty.

Monday, 3d—Reveille sounded at 1 a. m. for the Iowa Brigade, and at 2 o’clock we started for the city, marching down to the wharf for the purpose of escorting General Sherman from the landing to the residence of Mr. Osborne, the editor of the Louisville Journal. The general looks fine; he never looked better to us boys.