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

Post image for Downing’s Civil War Diary.–Alexander G. Downing.

Downing’s Civil War Diary.–Alexander G. Downing.

August 23, 2013

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

Sunday, 23d—Our expedition broke camp this morning and started for Monroe, Louisiana, on the Washita river, seventy-five miles northwest of Vicksburg. By 1 o’clock we had covered ten miles, in a burning hot sun,[1] without water to drink, and through neglected fields of hemp standing from ten to fifteen feet high. The cavalry went in front to break down the hemp, and were followed by a six-gun battery and our army wagons, after which the hemp was pretty well flattened for the infantry to pass over. The men and animals suffered awfully. Many artillery horses gave out and some of the men were sunstruck. Many of the boys fell out of the ranks during the trip and had to be cared for by the doctor. Finally at the end of the ten-mile journey we reached the banks of the Tensas river, and though the water was stagnant, in mere pools, we threw ourselves down, brushed aside the green scum and drank that hot, sickly water to quench our thirst.

[1] Oh, that hot sun on our heads! It was frightful! There was no air to stir even a leaf; It was like going through a fiery furnace! But stopping in that God-forsaken country to hunt for water would have been a greater punishment than going on without water—so we kept straight on.—A. G. D.

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