Friday, November 8, 2013

Diary of Alexander G. Downing: Friday, January 9, 1863

It is reported in camp that we are soon to go to Memphis for duty. Several cases of smallpox have broken out in the camp of the Sixteenth Iowa Regiment. All who had not been vaccinated before had to take their medicine. The country along the Charleston & Memphis Railroad from Memphis to Iuka, a distance of about one hundred miles, and for some miles on either side of the line where our armies are in camp and on the march, has been laid waste and is almost desolate. The men are desperate enough for anything. Vacant houses on plantations or in towns and villages have been burned. Many of these were substantial buildings with stone chimneys, which generally remained standing after the burnings. These the boys hilariously spoke of as headstones and on passing them would call out: “Here stands another Tennessee headstone,” or a “Mississippi headstone,” as the case might be.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 92-3

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