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.

About this time I went South. I took Clara with me. The winter was quietly spent at Edgefield, without much to narrate. We lived in the same house with Captain and Mrs. Hewitt, and messed together.

A few letters to Father Lyon are all the letters I have for a couple of months, and there is but little in them.

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Colonel Lyons.

 

Nov. 29, 1863.—General Grant has cleaned out Bragg, which I think ensures our staying here this winter. We have a new band. They heard you were here last Wednesday night, and came over to serenade you. They play well.

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Colonel Lyons.

 

Edgefield, Tenn., Fri., Nov. 20, 1863.—We had a review yesterday of seven regiments of infantry, one of cavalry and a battery of artillery. We made quite a show. General Granger was the reviewing officer.

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Colonel Lyons.

 

Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 15, 1863.—We commence brigade drill tomorrow under General Ward, and are to drill three times a week.

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Colonel Lyons.

 

Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 5, 1863.—I am on a court of inquiry, to investigate a matter connected with the shooting and killing of one of his men by Colonel Meisner, of the 14th Mich., and shall be so occupied all of this week. We hold one session per day at the capitol, from 9 a. m. until noon. At the election last Tuesday, the 13th gave 400 majority for the Union ticket, only 18 or 20 votes cast for Palmer. I see by yesterday’s papers that the State has gone Union by a large majority.

I am on the track of a house two blocks from camp, which I think I can get. Boats are running up the river quite freely now, and occasionally get fired into between here and Clarksville. That region is full of guerillas now, since the troops are withdrawn from Donelson and Clarksville. The 83d is there yet, but can not do much for want of numbers.

Captain Hewitt and I have rented a house together and I moved into it on Tuesday. It is a brick house, two rooms, one story, in a quiet, pleasant spot, about 30 rods from the camp. We pay ten dollars per month rent. I send you a diagram. Mrs. Hewitt and you had better come on together. We shall have to mess together. The rooms are large and commodious, good walls and floors, and excellent fireplaces, don’t smoke a particle. We will live in our room and eat in their room. Jerry and Minerva have an outside room, and have in it a little stove that I had for my tent.

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Colonel Lyons.

 

Headquarters 13th Regt. Wis. Vol., Camp Bigney, near Nashville, Tenn, Sun. p. m., Nov. 1, 1863.—It takes considerable writing, I find, to give you our exact ‘locus in quo,’ as the lawyers say, but you have the whole story in the heading to this letter. We named the camp yesterday, on parade, in honor of the major who selected it, and whose influence brought us here; and a beautiful camp with most beautiful surroundings it is, too. The weather is very pleasant today, but we have had a very severe rainstorm and have frosty nights.

It is a little rough lying on the ground, and I have neither floor nor fire in my tent, yet I stand it well. Jerry is quite indignant that I should live so. Says he, ‘Colonel, it’s enough to kill a hoss to sleep on that wet ground! Yes, sir, it’s enough to kill a good hoss!’ I have not yet secured any rooms for us, although I am diligently hunting for them. I would like to have the children here, but looking the thing all over my best judgment is that they will be better off at home. I have got a pony for you to ride when you get here—gentle as a lamb, and my horse is a beauty. I ride a good deal.

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Colonel Lyons.

 

Nashville, Tenn., Oct. 29, 1863.—We are encamped in a dry, beautiful location in Edgefield, directly across the river from Nashville and about one-half mile from the railroad bridge. Edgefield is a clean, quiet village, and we have decidedly the softest thing that we have had since I have been with the regiment. We shall probably remain here some time, perhaps all winter, unless some unexpected emergency arises at the front.

Now make all your arrangements to come to me, and I will make my arrangements for you as fast as I can. I am living in a tent now, but will find a house, or some rooms, as soon as I can. It is necessary for you to have a permit to come here. I will have no difficulty in getting it, I think, and will send it to you in a few days, together with a list of articles you will need to bring with you.

The regiment is furnishing guards in the city, about 150 per day, which is our only duty. The weather is most lovely, and it is a delightful change from the rain and mud and filth of Stevenson.

A torpedo was exploded under one of the trains that had our regiment, when coming here, which threw the engine off the track and made a perfect wreck of the tender, but fortunately no one was hurt. This occurred Sunday night, about 28 miles this side of Stevenson.

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Colonel Lyons.

 

Stevenson, Ala., Oct. 25, 1863.—We put the regiment on the cars yesterday afternoon, but it did not get off until this afternoon. I go in the morning. The Quartermaster, Ira Dutton, goes with his traps tomorrow, and the mounted infantry will go in two or three days, as soon as Lieut. Lamoreau gets back from Chattanooga, where he has gone with a drove of cattle for the army. That cleans out the 13th from Stevenson.

General Hooker moves his headquarters to Bridgeport tomorrow. I was relieved yesterday by Colonel Cobham; and he was relieved today by Colonel Ross, of a Connecticut regiment.

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Colonel Lyons.

 

Stevenson, Ala., Oct. 23, 1863.—How little we know what is before us! We were ordered ten days ago to Battle Creek, on the river above Bridgeport, and a few days afterwards the place was changed to Anderson Cross Roads, way up in the mountain towards Chattanooga. The order came from General Morgan and we were to march when relieved by Gen. Hooker. The General never got ready to relieve us, and so we did not march under that order; but this afternoon the order came from Gen. Thomas, and is peremptory; and so we must go sometime tomorrow.

Adjt. Scott has gone up the railroad to see Ruger. He is at Tullahoma. Rain every day, and mud unfathomable. A nasty time to move, but soldiers must go without grumbling, when ordered.

I was mistaken when I said in my last that Gen Grant was at Gen. Hooker’s quarters. He was in town, and the three major-generals met at the cars, but Grant went on to Bridgeport. Next morning General Hooker came in and asked me to go to his quarters and see Gen. Rosecrans. I went, and was introduced. Gen. Rosecrans immediately said, ‘Gen. Hooker, this is my old Ft. Donelson commander,’ and he spoke very complimentarily of my administration of affairs there. He recollected me in Mississippi, upon my reminding him of one or two incidents that happened there.

The band of the 33d Massachusetts serenaded the generals, and they both made little speeches and both made failures. They can fight, but neither of them can make a speech.

My successor in the command of the post will be Colonel Cobham, of the 111th Pennsylvania. He will assume command in the morning. Come to think, you will want to know where we are going. We are ordered to Nashville. Aren’t you sorry? We go by railroad.

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Colonel Lyons.

 

Stevenson, Ala., Wed. Eve., Oct. 21st, 1863—It has rained nearly all day, and the roads are almost impassable, causing much apprehension that we shall be unable to get forward sufficient supplies for our army at the front. The supplies are kept here for this large army.

The grand theme of interest and discussion now is the change of commanders in this army. Generals Grant and Rosecrans arrived here an hour ago, and are both at General Hooker’s quarters. This is a remarkable meeting. Less than four months ago these three generals were at the head of three great armies of the Union, and the eyes of the whole world were upon them Hooker at the head of the Army of the Potomac was carrying out that splendid strategy which culminated in the defeat of Lee at Gettysburg. A few days after he was relieved (by his own request) from the command of that army. Grant was pressing upon Vicksburg, which he soon after captured; and Rosecrans, with the laurels of Stone River fresh upon his brow, was pursuing the retreating army of Bragg out of Tennessee.

Tonight they are all here—Rosecrans without a command; Hooker with a very subordinate one; and Grant, whose star seems to be in the ascendant, with a command greater by far than has been entrusted to any other general in this war. Three nobler, braver, or better men, never met than these; and whatever their future may be they will fill a glorious place in our history.

I have no fault to find with the removal of General Rosecrans. I can readily imagine why the Government should regard it as imperiously necessary to do so. The consolidation of the three departments of Tennessee, Ohio, and the Cumberland, into one under General Grant, is a very wise measure.

No further signs of our moving.

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