Thursday, February 28, 2008

Letter From Adjutant E. H. King

Headquarters 15th Iowa Inft Vol’s.
Vicksburg Miss. Nov 21st 1863

Mr. Cavely:-

Night’s Sable curtain has long since intercepted the bright rays of Orient, and signaled the closing of the day’s drama. Aye, the scenes of another week have ended. Tomorrow’s Sun will dawn upon the Sabbath “Holy to the Lord” in all other climes where people live to praise the God of love and mercy. To us, it dawns a sabbath, sure, but not unlike a Monday’s rest, the the [sic] rest we know a Sabbath to unfold. God knows our hearts, a Soldier’s Sabbath and Monday are both the same except that, most frequently all important movements, and grand reviews take place on Sunday. Let him who can deny this. In case of “militia-necessity” of course no patriot Soldier could or would complain of this, but one fails to see that a practice which has been so notoriously indulged, is absolutely unavoidable. But as I cannot hope to remedy this evil by parading it before the people at home, I will leave it, and talk of other matters.

News here at present is devoid of that brilliancy and excitement enjoyed so luxuriantly, with other armies but certainly not without interest. The country is infested, as at other points, with Guerrillas, who dash occasionally upon our Picket stations, and, exchange a few shots but universally fail to hurt any body or affect anything to enliven the spirits of the men on duty there.

The fortifications are well nigh completed. So nearly at least, that the Brigade furnishes no more details for building them. The arsenals and magazines in and about the city furnish the occasion for heavy guard duty, and is performed by both white and black troops. In this too, there is interest and danger. Orders are explicit and imperative. No fire must be brought near the amunitoin [sic], nor must loungers be permitted to visit these places. Persons who disobey these orders, receive swift and frequently, terrible punishment. Only today, a negro soldier smoking a cigar approached the ordinance depot in the city guarded by a detatchment of this regiment. The Sentinel on duty warned him to approach only within certain limits. Disregarding this warning, the Sentinel “halted” him three times prescribed and shot him. In ten minutes he was dead.

A few days ago three negro soldiers were guarding a powder magazine, half a mile from our camp. The Sentinel on duty, becoming careless, took occasion to enjoy the luxury of smoking a cigar. A spark fell from it, ignited the powder, blew up the magazine and shattered the Sentinel into a thousand atoms. These are some of the rewards of evil doing in the army. Punishment does not always follow the criminal so quickly, terribly or so surely. The Gen. Court Marshal dallies with a case for a day or week or month, and “after mature deliberation on the evidence aduced, find the accused guilty, and do therefore sentence him” &c to forfeit pay. or to work on the fortifications or some other punishment which in their combined judgemen [sic] compensates for the crime committed. Courts Martial are the rage here at the present, and I presume will continue so to be, until more active operations are commenced. Then the enemy will engross the attention. Generals come and go at this point, as occasion requires. General Crocker and command arrived from Natchez a few days ago, and have taken position on Black River. General Logan started north to assume command of the 15th Army Corps, - one week ago tomorrow. He is universally and deservedly popular with the soldiers, especially those of his old Division. When it was noised about that Gen. Logan was aboard the steamer and about to leave a vast multitude of officers and soldiers hastened to the warf to give him a parting cheer. In a few moments the levee everywhere was crowded, a fine band was in attendance, and the call for the Gen. commenced. Half an hour elapsed ere he made his appearance on the upper deck of the steamer, and then such a cheer rent the air as might make any Gen. feel proud. After the music and cheering ceased, the Gen. made a speech, full of power eloquence and patriotism and retired amidst the shouts and applauses of the eager auditors. A General so ingratiated into the hearts of the soldiers he commands, can only fail at the hand of an ill-fated destiny or beneath the feet of a powerfully overwhelming foe.

There are other matters which I intended to write about, but must defer their narration until another time.

Health is not good but is improving. Weather the finest in the world. Nights cool.

Reg. received pay today up to the 31st Oct.


E. H. King

- Published in The Union Sentinel, Osceola, Iowa December 12, 1863

See Other Blog Entries:
Ensign H. King
Letter from Lieut. King - March 28, 1863
Letter from E. H. King - June 15. 1863
Letter from Adjt. King - September 23, 1863

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