BENTON BARRACKS, Mo., Feb. 11th, 1862.
FRIEND SANDERS: Benton Barracks is yet or “abiding place,” and though some with little faith may suppose from the past that it may long continue to be, yet I think the time of our departure is near at hand. Among the vast multitude of soldiers that are now taking their appointed places in the grand “forward” which has commenced, the 2d Iowa Cavalry will soon be “counted in.” The regiment received last week over four hundred revolvers and are expecting the balance daily. As soon as received they will be ready.
On the 5th the regiment took an airing to and through the city. Yesterday, by order of Gen. Halleck, it marched to the city and was reviewed by him. The St. Louis Democrat says: “They appeared without exception, to be in the finest possible condition and moved with the precision and confidence of veteran troops.” The streets were thronged with “lookers on.” The column passed through several of the principal streets. A close observer by following the column could make out a very correct “check roll” of loyal citizens, and of those who scorn the banner that ever has and now is securing to them all the blessings of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” As the column moved through Main street the majority of the business men looked hard at us. “Secesh” when looking at sights of this kind are no doubt impressed with an idea that fearful realities are very soon to be experienced from similar movements.
Through the streets which the column moved many ladies and all the children thronged the doors and windows, and most of the ladies, and all of the little ones were for the Stars and Stripes. Hundreds of flags were flung to the breeze, and waving of signals by the hands of many fair ladies, gave the cheering proof, that they are for “Union.” In many cases the schools on the streets through which we passed, had intermission, and at one place, on Washington Avenue, the young misses ranged themselves on the walk, and sung as we passed, the “Red, White, and Blue.” It was an inspiring scene. May this be the last time they may ever be called to witness the force of arms as necessary to enforce obedience to and uphold the supremacy of the “Constitution and the Laws.”
The people who have been so anxiously waiting until they had almost began to think patience no longer a virtue, can, no doubt, now begin to see that in his own good time McClellan is ready. The grand advance has begun. The “Anaconda” from his head on the Potomac, along his heavy folds down the Atlantic coast to the Gulf, and throughout his extensive coils to the Kansas border, is beginning to enclose within his mighty embrace the “hell” of Secessiondom. His colossal proportions are now beginning to writhe with powerful contortions, and as one after another of his massive folds overlapping each other crowd its resistless sway with deadly effect into the vitals of rebellion, the arch-traitors themselves, as they hear the reverberating shouts of victory resounding in thunder tones throughout the loyal States, and witness it re-echoed from thousands of loyal hearts within the borders of their fair land they would consign to infamy and despotism, will themselves begin to recoil from his terrible embrace; and as the “beginning of the end” begins to loom up before their astonished gaze, they will cry out for the mountains and the rocks to fall and cover them from the wrath of “Abraham.”
Gen. Curtis is after Price with something worse than a “sharp stick;” a victory awaits us there, and not only there, but very soon everywhere.
There are now but three full regiments here – the 2d Iowa Cavalry, the 1st and 2d Michigan Cavalry, with their batteries. The first battalion of the Iowa 1st Cavalry is also here. From present indications, I think we will go direct to Tennessee, and very probably with Gen. Halleck himself. He will no doubt soon take the field in person. When the “Sunny South” greets our vision, I will let you know the result of my observations. That such may very speedily be the case is the earnest desire of every one in the 2d cavalry.
The regiment, under the daily, thorough instruction if its efficient officers, has become very proficient in drill. Its health is rapidly improving, and but few are now in the hospital. Forty three have died since we have been in this camp, but the regiment now seems to be acclimated.
The weather is fine, feeling for the past two days very spring like. As I write, the doors are wide open. It is quite muddy, but a few days will cause it to dry up.
As I have written twice as much as I intended, and perhaps twice as much as you wish, I come to a “halt.”
– Published in The Davenport Daily Gazette, Davenport, Iowa, Monday Morning, February 17, 1862, p. 2