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

Reminiscences of the Civil War, William and Adelia Lyon

Colonel Lyon’s Letters.

On Steamer Clara Dalson, July 12, 1865.—We are now steaming past Milliken’s Bend, 28 miles above Vicksburg, where we expect to be before noon. We left Cairo at 2 p. m. Sunday. Arrived at Memphis, 240 miles below Cairo, at 5 p. m. Monday. Were near Helena yesterday morning. Passed the mouths of White and Arkansas rivers and Napoleon yesterday afternoon, and this morning find ourselves here. We are 600 miles below Cairo and over 1,000 miles from Racine. We are yet 400 miles from New Orleans.

We are having a delightful trip. We have a good boat, and good fare; weather comfortably cool, with considerable rain. We expect to be at New Orleans by Friday. We hear nothing of the corps moving as yet. We have green corn every day, and found plenty of ripe peaches at Memphis. The country is low and flat, but large plantations are becoming more frequent.

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Colonel Lyon’s Letters.

 

Cairo, Ill., Sun. a. m., July 9, 1865.—We did not get here until after midnight, having been detained several hours by a collision ahead of us, fifty miles from here. I found the Major and Lieutenant Fowle in Chicago. Saw nothing of the Adjutant. We leave on the ‘Clara Dalson’ at 11 o’clock this morning for New Orleans. The weather is somewhat warm here. We get Government transportation from here, which is worth $10 to each of us, and our meals and staterooms cost us $20 more.

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June 20, 1865.—William reached home on leave of absence for 20 days.

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Mrs. Lyon’s Diary.

 

June 17.—Arrived home at five o’clock in the morning, having stayed over in Chicago a couple of days. Attended the Sanitary Fair.

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Colonel Lyon’s Letters.

 

Wed. Eve., June 14, 1865.—Our transportation starts for Johnsonville tomorrow morning, and General Wood informed me this evening that it is understood that the Second Division also goes tomorrow and our division on Friday. We probably shall not get off, however, before Saturday. If not delayed, I think I can get home by Thursday of next week, but a delay of a day or two at Johnsonville is not at all improbable. So do not look for me until the last of the week. I am very busy getting ready to move, and in the absence of the Adjutant am compelled to look after all of the details of business in person. The men mustered out will get off tomorrow evening.

I suppose you are steaming through Indiana now. It is intolerably lonesome here since you left, and we need the excitement of a march to help our spirits.

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Mrs. Lyon’s Diary.

June 13.—I am starting for home. General Beatty kindly takes me to Nashville in his ambulance. Adjutant Scott goes North with me.

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Mrs. Lyon’s Diary.

 

Camp Harker, June 1, 1865.—We have moved camp. I found it all done when I came back from town. We take long rides every day. I enjoy it very much now, the mare is so kind and gentle.

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Colonel Lyon’s Letters.

Camp Harker, May 29, 1865.—I expect to get a leave of absence, which I have applied for; and in that case we shall go home about the middle of June. I do not like to resign, because I think we shall be mustered out during the summer and I wish very much to stay in the service to the end of the war. My leave will be for twenty days if I get one. The surrender of Kirby Smith practically ends the war, and saves us probably from being sent to Texas.

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Mrs. Lyon’s Diary.

 

Camp Harker, May 28.—A large party of us took a trip today to the Hermitage, General Jackson’s home. We had two ambulance loads, and nearly all our officers went on horseback, as a body-guard. We went through the garden to the tomb where General Jackson and his wife are buried. At the head of the tomb is a beautiful large magnolia tree in bloom, which filled the whole yard with perfume. There was a great variety of flowers in bloom and Lieut. Knilans bought me a beautiful bouquet of roses. Hickory canes cut on the plantation were also for sale, and I bought two for the two fathers.

We took our lunch, expecting to picnic, but the old servants offered us the use of the dining hall, a large, beautiful room, which they said was seldom opened. There was a very nice mahogany extension table, made in the old fashion, and they brought us the old family china, and gave us all the buttermilk we could drink. (Buttermilk is a great luxury with the Southern people.) We saw the old family carriage, made entirely from the old ship Constitution; but the gray-headed negroes were the greatest novelty about the plantation. Old Aunt Betty said she cooked for General Jackson forty years. They have numbers of visitors. We had a very pleasant day.

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Mrs. Lyon’s Diary.

Camp Harker, May 27.—This morning when I first wakened I looked up; and on the upper part of the tent, right over the bed, were ever so many centipedes. I spoke to William. We were quite alarmed and got up and out of that tent about as quickly as we could. They were different lengths, showing they had several families. We did not get any of them on us. The men took the tent down and killed all they could find. They said there were numbers of them, but we escaped being bitten.

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