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

Mrs. Lyon’s Diary.

March 17, 1865.—The boat was tied up again last night. We have gone very slowly today, for we go against a strong tide. We arrived at Nashville after dark.

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Mrs. Lyon’s Diary.

 

March 16, 1865.—The boat was tied up all night. I wonder if it will be tonight. We rode all day. We thought we saw the body of a man in the driftwood today. We still pass lots of cattle floating in the river.

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During the first of March Captain Kingman was home on leave of absence. Before leaving for the South he came to Racine to call upon me. I was expecting a passport in every letter, and was ready to start for the South any day that it should come. I decided to go South with Captain Kingman, for I felt that I could go as far South as Nashville, and thought that if I could go no further Mr. Lyon could no doubt come to Nashville to see me.

I left for the South on the 13th of March, with Captain Kingman and Minerva. We left Chicago at 9 p. m., on the 16th, riding all night. We reached Cairo at 8 o’clock the next evening, just in time to take the boat. The packet Armada was just ready to start, so we went on board immediately, considering ourselves very fortunate, for there were some ladies there who had been waiting three days for the boat.

 

Mrs. Lyon’s Diary.

 

March 15, 1865.—The boat is tied up to a tree on the Cumberland river. The wind is so high they dare not run for fear of running into the woods, for the banks are all under water. The river has not been so high in fifteen years. The water is up to the chamber windows of all the houses along the shore. Yesterday one of the houses was floating in the river and some men took a boat and went out to it. They found in it the bodies of a man and woman and five children. I presume we shall hear of more such cases. We have seen a number of horses and cattle floating down the river, all dead.

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Colonel Lyon’s Letters.

 

Huntsville, Ala., Wed., March 15, 1865. We are still here, but expect to get off on Friday or Saturday. I have been relieved of all of my commands, but the regiment is not yet relieved. We expect the troops tomorrow to take our place. It will be some new regiment.

The 46th Wisconsin, Colonel Lovell, of Kenosha, passed here yesterday for Athens. Colonel Ginty’s regiment, I hear, is at Tullahoma. The movement of the 4th Corps is progressing. One advantage in going to the field is that my expenses will be less. I have to keep up a General’s headquarters with a Colonel’s pay.

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Colonel Lyon’s Letters.

Huntsville, Ala., Sun., March 12, 1865.—The railroad is again repaired, and the first train came through from Nashville last night. I found out yesterday why everything has worked against your coming here. I received an order assigning the 13th Regiment to the 4th Army Corps, and this corps commences moving tomorrow for East Tennessee, probably Knoxville. No troops have come on yet to take our place, and it may be some days before we are relieved. At the same time I received a permit for you to come to Huntsville. I am rather pleased to get out of this than otherwise. It is time the regiment moved and had more active duty; and it is more creditable to serve in an army in the field than back in the rear. I am satisfied that I should have lost less men had we gone with Sherman last spring than we have lost by reason of malaria. Beside, if but a small force is left back here, they will be annoyed with raids all summer, and will be in more real peril than we shall be in at the front. I do not see much of a fighting prospect ahead.

The activity in volunteering at the North is the most hopeful sign of the times. We shall be able to confront the rebels everywhere with superior numbers, which will soon, I trust, finish the war.

In my next I will send the permit. I do not send it now, fearing you would be the more disappointed when you read this letter.

The guerillas fired on the train last night between here and Stevenson, killing a soldier and wounding the engineer severely. The guard drove them away. I shall have command of a brigade in the 4th Army Corps, I am told.

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Colonel Lyon’s Letters.

 

Huntsville, Ala., March 8, 1865.—We are in fine spirits today, for we have just heard that Sheridan has cleaned out Early in the Shenandoah valley, capturing him and nearly his whole army. We all believe this and rejoice, for it is by such blows as these, and these only, that this war will be ended.

I attended a review of the 4th Corps yesterday. There were 6,000 or 7,000 troops in line and they made a fine appearance. There are no signs of any movement of troops here yet. About 20,000 lie around here doing little or nothing.

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Colonel Lyon’s Letters.

Huntsville, Ala., March 5, 1865.—I hope the war is drawing to a close; I believe it is. One victory like Thomas’ over Hood is worth more to our cause, does more to put down the rebellion, than the evacuation of twenty cities. It uses up their armies, while the evacuation of these places concentrates their armies and makes them actually stronger. The war will continue until we succeed in dispersing and breaking up their armies. I hope, and almost believe, that Grant and Sherman will do this in the East, as Thomas has in the West; but the people must be patient. It can not be done in a day or a month.

The most hopeful sign of the times is the activity North in raising troops. I am glad that the Governor gave George Ginty a regiment. He is worthy and capable. I rejoice at his success. I hear that he is ordered to Nashville, and shall be pleased to get him down this way; but the new regiments are being sent towards Chattanooga and Knoxville, and very likely Colonel Ginty’s will go in the same direction.

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Colonel Lyon’s Letters.

 

Huntsville, Ala., March 2, 1865.—I write this morning in the office, surrounded by a crowd of officers, therefore can write but little. I do not hear a word from my application for leave for you to visit me. The failure to answer is equivalent to a refusal, and I fear that we must give it up. There may be a good reason, but I do not believe it, yet we are compelled in this service to endure a good many annoying and humiliating things.

I see the people North are in high spirits over the evacuation of Charleston and Wilmington, etc. I am entirely unable to see the importance of these evacuations to us. I can not see that these movements will have much influence in closing the war. We must crush and destroy their armies before the war will end, and we are making but little headway in that direction in the East. But we must be patient, and if there is another year of heavy fighting we must not be surprised or disheartened. We are bound to conquer in the end.

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Colonel Lyon’s Letters.

 

Huntsville, Ala., Feb. 26, 1865.—I took command of the post and brigade again yesterday. General Doolittle has taken command of the district. So I have plenty of work on my hands again and am likely to have for some time to come. I am getting my heart so set on your coming that I begin to feel almost nervous for fear that we shall be ordered away.

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Colonel Lyon’s Letters.

 

Huntsville, Ala., Thurs., Feb. 23, 1865.—General Granger is going North on leave of absence, and General Doolittle takes command of the district in his place. It looks so much like our remaining here for some time that I am tempted to give you marching orders for Huntsville. Indeed, I sent to Nashville two days since for a pass for you and Minerva, and hope that by the time I get it, which will doubtless be in a few days, I will see my way clear to tell you to come. Captain Kingman is in Wisconsin, and if you can get ready to come back with him it will be convenient for you. Should the permit be refused, I shall take it as an indication that we are not to remain here. I do not dare to have you bring either of the children, much as I would like to have them with us.

The men from the 15th Wisconsin (Colonel Heg’s regiment) reached us last night. I learn that there are some sixty of them. Dr. Cady, our new Assistant Surgeon, has arrived. He lives at Kibbourn City. He used to practice at Canaan Four Corners, Columbia County, N. Y. He knows lots of people that I used to know. I like him.

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