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The Civil War Journal of
Seymour Gilbert

1st Lieut., Co. G, 28th Wisconsin Infantry Volunteers

Little Rock, Arkansas
February 1865

Typescripted from the original holograph by
H. Wayne Overstreet
Further editing and background research by
M. Alan Overstreet, MA, MLIS

February 1, 1865 From Pine Bluff to Little Rock
Feb. 2 From Pine Bluff to Little Rock
Feb. 3 From Pine Bluff to Little Rock
Feb. 4 From Pine Bluff to Little Rock
Feb. 5 Little Rock, Ark.
Feb. 6 Little Rock, Ark.
Feb. 7 Little Rock, Ark.
Feb. 8 Little Rock, Ark.
Feb. 9 Little Rock, Ark.
Feb. 10 Little Rock, Ark.
Feb. 11 From Little Rock to Clarendon
Feb. 12 From Clarendon to Mouth of White River
Feb. 13 From Mouth of White River to Gaines Landing
Feb. 14 From Gaines' Landing to Vicksburg
Feb. 15 From Vicksburg to Port Hudson
Feb. 16 From Port Hudson to New Orleans
Feb. 17 Algiers, La.
Feb. 18 Algiers, La.
Feb. 19 Algiers, La.
Feb. 20 Algiers, La.
Feb. 21 Algiers, La.
Feb. 22 From New Orleans to Mouth of River
Feb. 23 Mouth of the Mississippi
Feb. 24 From Mouth of the Mississippi, to Mobile
Feb. 25 Mobile Point, Ala.
Feb. 26 Mobile Point, Ala.
Feb. 27 Mobile Point, Ala..
Feb. 28 Mobile Point, Ala.

Feb. 1st From Pine Bluff to Little Rock.

Our Regiment were Rear Guard again, and it was at least 7:30 before we started. All the trains were ahead of us, and we found the roads in an awful condition, in fact almost impassible, and our progress was very slow. There was quick sand under all the road, and many of the wagons cut through into it, and the mules frequently got mired in it. At sunset wwewere at our last camp on the way down, and the rest of our Brigade was at Rock Spring - five miles further along. It had been raining nearly all day, and when we went into Camp about dark, the rain was still pouring down, and the prospect was anything but cheering, but we soon pitched our tent, and started a fire, and by the time we had eaten our suppers and were ready for bed, it was a little more cheering though it smoked horribly, and it was wet and chilly. (Col.) Gray was dissatisfied with A. Adjutant Hopper, and relieved him in disgrace, and Bingham was detailed to take his place. Hopper had been sent for orders, to Brigade Headquarters and Gray relieved him because he was so long in returning. I believe Gray had been drunk during the day, part of the time asleep in one of the wagons, behind the Regiment and was probably cross and perhaps did not have a very clear view of things. At any rate the Officers thought he dealt unfairly with Hopper.

Feb. 2nd From Pine Bluff to Little Rock.

We received orders to leave the Post and Pontoon trains behind, and make our way to our Brigade, so as soon as we could see we were moving, and at 9 O' clock we were at Rock Spring, ready to go into Camp. It had stopped raining, which was well for us, as it was late in the P.M. before our wagons came up with our tent and rations, but we had a good pine wood fire, and after our tent was pitched, we got a fine lot of pine boughs, and settled down quite comfortably. Gray's Mess were close by us, and Gray gambled away all his money, and then borrowed $10.00 of Mr. Fellers. Bingham and Slawson also had a hand in the gambling business, but Fellers seemed to win most of the money. I passed the night as usual, my tooth and foot bothering me a good deal, and preventing me from sleeping. Large Details were sent back to bring up the train, and Captain Smith had charge of one from our Regiment and Lieutenant Coates of another. At night all the wagons but four were up, and I presume that they came up during the night.

Feb. 3rd From Pine Bluff to Little Rock.

We started again at the usual hour 6:30 - our Regiment being once more in the advance. The roads were not quite as bad, and at 12:30 we went into Camp near the Campbell Place, where we camped our second night on our way down. By 3 O' clock all the train was up, and we might have gone further as well as not, but that was not in the programme. It was a bright, warm day, and we were soon more comfortable than we had before been since leaving the Bluff, upon starting the expedition. In the evening we learned that General Carr was to try to get through to the Rock the next day, and on my account I was glad, but I thought it would be hard on the men. As usual, I spent rather an uncomfortable, wide-awake night, my tooth and foot troubling me so much. My foot was no better, and my leg seemed to be getting worse. I was a little afraid it might prove something serious, but I hoped for the best.

Feb. 4th From Pine Bluff to Little Rock.

We started 15 minutes earlier than usual, our Regiment being the second from the advance. We found the roads over the bottoms much better than we expected, and we got along first rate. I rode Vanderpool's pony over Rock Hill, and got into the ambulance again at the long bridge on our picket line. I rode ahead of the Regiment into Camp, and when the boys came in , I was reading a letter from my wife. I received four from her, and one each from Sarah, Myron, Melinda and Doctor Ingersoll. My mail seemed a good thing after my 75 mile ride in an ambulance. Our expedition had come to a terminus, and I came to the conclusion that it must have been a feint in aid of some other move, for in and of itself it did not seem to have an object. We had a good supper of warm biscuits and butter, canned strawberries and tomatoes, and coffee with condensed milk in it. After supper I wrote a letter to my wife, one to Myron and on to Sarah, all because I felt so well to receive "Good" news from home. Mira and Baby were well, and as far as I learned, all our friends. It seemed real good to lie down on my bunk again, and I was so pleased to hear well of my family once more, that my sleep was sweeter and sounder than for two weeks before.

Feb. 5th Little Rock, Ark.

I did not get up until about 8 O' clock, and it was past 9 O' clock when we ate breakfast. We had a good breakfast, for us, and we did not eat another meal until night. I employed most of the day in writing - writing even these words in the evening - and my hand became real tired. I had been so unused to writing for a couple of weeks. There were all sorts of rumors in regard to our contemplated move to New Orleans - it being reported that we were ordered there - but we could learn nothing definite in regard to it. Higley came up in the afternoon, and brought the report that a telegraphic dispatch had been received from De Vall's Bluff, stating that the negotiations for peace were likely to result favorably, but I placed no reliance upon it. He also said that a mail had arrived at the Bluff, and that we were likely to get it in the P.M., but the train did not come in until after dark. In the evening Fitzgerald came to our Quarters, and we had not seen him for nearly a year before. He was Acting Quarter Master Sergeant of the 54th U.S. Infantry of A.D. but was receiving only Privates' pay. It snowed most of the night before, and until toward noon of Sunday, but before night it was nearly all gone. In the morning Donaldson made an application in writing for the position of Commissary Sergeant of the Regiment but in the evening it came back, disapproved - the endorsement being that no Private would fill the place.

Feb. 6th Little Rock, Ark.

It was a cloudy, chilly day, and a person to be comfortable needed to keep near the fire all the time. We received a mail in the forenoon, and there were six letters and several papers for me. Two of the letters were from Mira, one from Alvarus, one from Delia, one from Uncle Hiram and one from Philena Evans. My family and all our friends, so far as my wife knew were well on the 25th of January, the date of her latest letter. In the forenoon I finished a ring that I was making for Mira, finished a letter that I commenced the night before, and put the ring in to send home. I also wrote to Mary and Helen, Uncle Hiram and Doctor Ingersoll, as I did not wish to start off on a march owing many letters. (Jonathan) O'Brien of Company "H" was mustered in as 1st Lieutenant, his Commission being in Camp when we returned from our Elba trip. There was no important news by the mail, though there were later papers. We received full accounts of the capture of Fort Fisher, and matters looked quite bright generally.

Feb. 7th Little Rock, Ark.

We had quite a cold, uncomfortable day, and it was cloudy and gloomy from morning until night. We received a small mail in the morning but there was nothing for me, and I did not hear any news of any kind. Matters in regard to our move to New Orleans remained about the same, only we received orders to pack the surplus clothing, and take an inventory of it, so that the Commanding Office of the Regiment could make application for permits to send the clothing home, he having the assurance that General Salomon Post Commander, would approve such application. It would then have to go to the Agent of the Treasury Department for approval, and General Salomon seemed, from his circular to us, to think there was little doubt that it would be approved by him. The swelling of my foot seemed to be going down and the sores on my leg to be healing up, and I was in hopes that I should not have much more trouble with it. Bence had procured an old overshoe for me, which I managed to wear, as it was quite large, and I could get around, and up to Captain Steven's Quarters to my meals and back, without much difficulty.

Feb. 8th Little Rock, Ark.

We had another cold day, but as the Regiment had no duty to do, we got along first rate by keeping up good fires. I passed the day in my Quarters as usual, my foot, though improving, not being well enough to get about much. During the day we packed our surplus clothing in three boxes, and handed in our inventory. I put in one wool blanket, my old fatigue coat, two shirts, my field boots, my slippers, a couple of planes and try square the Weaton gave me, one or two brushes that I did not wish to carry along, a cigar box filled with various trinkets and some other small articles, besides a hymn book, a singing book, etc., all weighing not far from 30 lbs. It so reduced my stock of baggage that my valise would easily hold them, except my blankets and overcoat, and a suit to wear. There were some doubts about obtaining permits to send the things home, some of the Officers thinking that we would be ordered to store them instead of sending them off. At night the Captain went over to the Officer's Hospital and stayed all night, leaving me in quiet possession of our shanty. I finished a letter that I was writing to my wife, and then had a good night's sleep, using the Captain's blankets as well as my own. Adjutant Kendrick was in our Quarters toward an hour in the evening, and he said that he had received a letter from Lacy, General Stul's Adjutant General, in which he stated that Stul was to start out with a large Command probably to operation this (West) side of the river, and that we were to form part of the expedition. General Stul's troops were rendezvousing ten miles above New Orleans.

Feb. 9th Little Rock, Ark.

The day passed away as usual, the Regiment having no duty to do, and only to keep fires and make themselves as comfortably as possible. I employed my time in writing etc., and in getting ready to start on our trip to New Orleans, and we were expecting orders to start.

Feb. 10th Little Rock, Ark.

In the forenoon we received our permits to send our surplus things home, and in the P.M. I took our permit and went down with the boxes to the office of Adam's Express Company and had them marked to V. Tichenor, Waukesha, Wisconsin, and took their receipt for them. The weighing of the boxes was 575 lbs - one weight in 340 - one 165 and the other 70 - and as the charges were $15.00 per cwt, it was a pretty good thing for the express company. I gave receipts to Captain Tichenor to be sent to his father. We received orders toward night to be in readiness to march to the depot at 4 O' clock the next morning and about night, the teams commenced moving our stuff. We took our unserviceable Camp and Garrison Equipages into Company "B"'s Officers' Quarters, and the Quarter Master was detailed to remain behind and take care of them, and turn them over in case the Inspection reports condemning them should come back approved. It was past midnight before our field chest and valises were taken away, and as we had Reveille at 3 O' clock in the morning, I slept but very little. Before going to bed, I finished a letter to my wife, and one to Delia, in which I put a Gutta-Percha ring that I finished for her in the P.M.

Feb. 11th From Little Rock to Clarendon.

Before 4 O' clock A.M. I started for the depot, carrying my sword in my hand, my blankets on my shoulder, and my foot still encased in the old overshoe that I had been wearing for some days. When I got to the cars I threw it away and put on my boot once more. I managed to wear it through the day without apparent injury to my foot. Our things were on the cars, and we started at sunrise. We passed Bayou Metaire (Bayou Meto) about 8 - through Brownsville at 9 - and at 11 were again at De Vall's Bluff. In two hours our things were transferred from the cars to the Steamer Sir William Wallace, and we were starting down the river. On account of the sick headache I had lain down, and I went to sleep and slept until after we tied up for the night somewhere below Clarendon, we having passed that place about 4 P.M.. I then went below, and after vomiting awhile, I felt better. The cars stopped a few minutes at Brownsville and while Lieutenant Bennett was getting something to eat, the cars started on, leaving him behind, and the last that was seen of him, he was standing on a stump, hoping I presume, that we would see him and have the train stopped for him. Captain Tichenor's Uncle had been drinking too much, and came near being left too, but he managed to get aboard as the boat was starting out from the Bluff. One of the Company "B" boys fell overboard, but he was taken ashore, and was left behind, though he came near drowning. The Captain and I had a good berth on the boat, and I slept like a log all night, forgetting all about my headache after getting asleep.

Feb. 12th From Clarendon to Mouth of White River.

We had Reveille on the boat at day light, and in a few minutes the pickets were on board, and we were under weigh. I felt no more of my headache, and was quite well during the day. I thought of it being Sunday, and in the A.M. wrote to my wife and to Melinda. A number of other Officers wrote letters, and Captain Williams very politely invited Mr. Mills to use my place and my writing materials. I ate breakfast on the boat, but it cost me nothing, so I ate dinner, which cost me 75 cents. We met several boats on their way up to the Bluff - most of them loaded with C.S. Stores. We made good progress, passed Saint Charles early in the A.M. and by 3 P.M. were landed at Mouth of White River. I was detailed to take charge of the fatigue party to unload the boat, and in about 3/4 of an hour our things were off, and a guard placed over them. The Sir William Wallace then started up the Arkansas for Pine Bluff. We pitched our tent, ate our supper, made our bed, and some time after midnight I went to sleep, though I lay down before 9.

Feb. 13th From Mouth of White River to Gaines Landing.

We were up and ready for moving at sunrise, but we took our time for breakfast, however, when the J. C. Swan came down it was soon decided that the four Companys on the right-wing should go aboard, and that the rest of us should wait for another boat, the Swan being too heavily loaded to take on the whole Regiment. Accordingly Companys A. F. D. & I went aboard, took our traps, and the Swan put off, in command of Captain Williams. We had commenced our dinners when another large side wheeler was seen on her way down, and she soon proved to be the Saint Nicholas, and we were ordered aboard. It was not far from 2 O' clock P.M. when ourselves and traps were stowed away, and we shoved off. We found the St. Nicholas to be a fine, large, new boat, and she was on her first trip down the river, hailing from Louisville, Kentucky. Her Officers did not want to take troops aboard, but though they did their best to prevent it , General McGinnes was a bigger man than the Captain of the boat, and much to their apparent annoyance, they found us on the boat. The Captain (T) had a nice, clean, comfortable state room, furnished with spring mattress, nice, clean cotton sheets, quilts, looking glass etc., and we concluded to be as comfortable as our improved circumstances warranted. We passed the Mouth of the Arkansas in a short time, and directly after, Napoleon, 12 miles below the Mouth of the White River, the Marine Hospital being the only building of consequence. Not far from 9 O' clock at night we passed Gaines' Landing, but I could only see the lights of several boats lying at anchor, and camp fires on shore. I then lay down to sleep, with better accommodations than I had before seen since leaving Wisconsin, more than two years previously and i enjoyed a first rate night's rest.

Feb. 14th From Gaines' Landing to Vicksburg.

When I went out to wash in the morning, the barber told me we were passing Goodrich's Landing, and we soon came to what they said was Milliken's Bend. We passed the Mouth of the Yazoo about noon, though we were partly by before I saw it. Then we came to Grant's Cut-off, which was not nearly as wide nor deep as I expected to see it, but it was doubtless partly filled with dirt, and its sides caved off, which would cause it to appear more insignificant. Soon Vicksburg hove in sight, and field glasses and telescopes were brought into requisition. As we rounded the bend, and neared the city, fortification after fortification appeared in view, and it really looked as though there might have been desperate fighting over the rough broken ground, rendered more rough than Nature made it, by the aid of human means. The boat was tied up to the shore not far from one O' clock P.M. and I soon went ashore, almost the first unusual thing I noticed was a basket of oranges, and as fine, large ones could be bought for 10 cents each or $1.00 per dozen, I immediately commenced to eat oranges. I had soon swallowed three, more than I had before eaten in all my life - when I was satisfied. I kept a couple of large ones in my pocket, and the Captain and I afterwards bought a dozen. I took a walk through the city, saw a number of churches, the finest of which was the Catholic Cathedral, found the streets barricaded and fortified, and batteries planted in almost every direction, and then returned to the boat, the streets being too muddy to be traversed with pleasure. The streets were very narrow, and too uneven to be at all pleasant. The city was not as large as I had expected, but in other respects was very much as I had expected to find it. Lieutenant Seymour, acting Quarter Master, drew shelter tents, a quantity of freight was put off and about four O' clock P.M. we again shoved off, but the boat put across to the other side of the river to wood, and it was after dark before we were again fairly under weigh down river. Before reaching Vicksburg I wrote to my wife and to Sylvanus, and while ashore, and inquiring for the Post Office a soldier offered to post them for me, and I entrusted them to his care. I wrote another to Mira while at Vicksburg, which I also handed to a soldier to post for me. I ate my meals with our Mess, but the Captain ate at the boat table. At 9 O' clock P.M. we were aground, and I thought for the night, as it was foggy, and very dark. When we pushed off from Vicksburg, Captain Slawson was left, but he came down on a tug while we were wooding, and I then first set foot on Louisiana soil, as I went ashore.

Feb. 15th From Vicksburg to Port Hudson.

When I arose in the morning we were past Grand Gulf, and were steaming along toward Natchez, which we reached not far from one O' clock P.M. I went ashore, and took a stroll through the city with several other Officers. I was surprised to find it so nice a place, and it bore more resemblance to a northern town than any other southern town I had seen. I saw several churches, the Catholic being to appearance, the largest and nicest. Lieutenant Hebbard gave me a bananna, the first I ever saw, but I did not relish it greatly. The Swan, with the rest of our Regiment on board came up after us, and we saw the Officers and men for the first time after leaving Mouth of White River. We started on again after a couple of hours, but the boat stopped to wood a mile or two below the city, and it was late in the P.M. before we were fairly on our way. We passed the Mouth of Red River after dark, and I did not see it. We passed Morganza about 10 O' clock, or perhaps it was not later than 9 - and I thought I would sit up to see Port Hudson, so I took a look, and went back to bed, and in a minute or two the boat was again steaming along. At Morganza the Colonel received orders to land at Algiers, opposite New Orleans, instead of several miles above the city, where first ordered to land. While we were lying at Natchez I wrote a letter to my wife, and one to Sylvanus, giving them to the Sergeant of the Provost Guard to mail for me.

Feb. 16th From Port Hudson to New Orleans.

I was up at daylight, just as we were passing Plaguemine, a small town on the west side of the river, and I learned that we passed Baton Rouge at 4 A.M. The country began to assume a different aspect, and on either bank of the river was one continued plantation - almost village, for more than 100 miles. We passed Donaldsonville in the A.M. after that two churches, on opposite sides of the river, near which, on the east side, was the Convent of the Sacred Heart - and a little further below, was Jefferson College, on the same shore. About this time we began to see orange trees, and when 40 miles or so above New Orleans, I first saw the fruit of the trees. By this time nearly all the forest trees were profusely covered with the peculiar moss that I have noticed for the first time on the morning of the previous day - and which was said to be caused by the effect of the sea breeze. It was said to blossom, the seed to mature, and to propagate itself like any plant. When about 30 miles above New Orleans, we passed Bounet Quarre Church, French Catholic, and quite a commodious building. It might be called a continued sugar plantation all along on both sides of the river, and in some places they were plowing and planting. We came in sight of the city when near Connorsville 16 or 18 miles above, and when we reached Carrolton 7 miles above, we could see the city quite distinctly. We seemed to pass at least half around the city, as it is built on a point caused by a large bend of the river. It was nearly sunset when we landed at Algiers opposite the city, and it was quite dark before our things were ashore, and we were in our Camp a third of a mile from the landing. There was no wood and as we could not get any supper the Captain and I pitched a tent and went supperless to bed, and barring some trouble from a toothache, I had a good night's rest, it being my first sleep on Louisiana soil.

Feb. 17th Algiers, La.

I was detailed as Officer of the Day in the morning, and I relieved Captain Stevens. My orders were to instruct the guards to keep the boys from stealing rails and oranges, both of which were temptingly near our Camp. The boys behaved well, however, and I had no trouble whatever. The Captain went away in the morning, and did not return until after dark, he having been across the river to the City. He gave a glowing account of it, and proposed that I visit it the following day. We had Dress Parade at 5 P.M. and while the Regiment were on parade, I went to the orange orchard near the camp, and picked from the tree my first orange, a large, but worthless one, it being of the sour kind. Lieutenant Alvord came to me for $10.00 and not liking to refuse him, like a fool I let him have it, though I had so little money that I could ill afford to spare it. Our camp was filled with women all day, who were selling oranges, apples, oysters, bread, cakes and pies, and a great variety of other things - the boys paying for them in bits of bacon, old shirts, soap, pans, wash dishes, pails, old pants, and any other old traps they did not wish to keep. I wrote to Alvarus and Myron, finished one that I had been writing to my wife, which I sent to the Post Office of the 35th Wisconsin, and in the evening I wrote another to my wife.

Feb. 18th Algiers, La.

Quite early in the morning I started to cross the river to the city, accompanied by Foster, Clark, McKowen and Wells. We went down to the Canal Street Ferry Landing, and were soon on our way across the river. The fare was five cents and no trouble about passes. We went up Canal Street, saw the Custom House, and the Post Office being kept in the same building. I went in and mailed a letter and a book to my wife, a letter to Myron and a letter for Captain Tichenor. We then turned to the left and passed several fine markets and churches, the City Hall, and many fine buildings and came back to Canal Street passing the Clay Monument, upon which (by Butler's order, it was said) something like the following language of the great orator was inscribed: "If I could be instrumental in eradicating the stain of slavery from the character of my country, I should feel a proud satisfaction not experienced by the most successful conqueror." We then passed down to Jackson Square - passing the Rue Stores and the Cathedral. In the center of Jackson Square stood Mills' Equestrian Statue of General Jackson, and the square was most beautifully laid out in squares and circles and different other figures, and filled with all sorts of evergreen trees, tamed to almost any shape. We passed down to the French Market, a great sight for us, and then down to the U.S. Mint, after which we again returned to Canal Street just in time to see the fashionable afternoon promenade. We then visited the canal leading to Lake Pontchartrain, and several Catholic Cemetaries filled with fine marble tombs of all shapes, sizes and highths, a most lavish expenditure of wealth upon the residences of the dead. We then returned to the landing past the Medical College, and a large Charitable institution, whose name I do not recollect. I afterwards learned that we also passed Saint Charles Hotel in our wanderings. We were tired, but we considered ourselves well paid for all our fatigue. We lived on apples, oranges, banannas, and at noon we ate a substantial dinner in the French Market, consisting of bread, beef steak, eggs, potatoes, oysters, pie etc. It was nearly sunset when we returned to camp, and I soon went to bed and to sleep.

Feb. 19th Algiers, La.

After breakfast in the morning I obtained passes for Dan, (Pvt. James) Loughney and myself, it being our intention to attend church in the city of New Orleans. We crossed at the Canal Street Crossing and I took the boys to the Custom House, the Clay monument, City Hall etc., and finally to the Presbyterian Church, a fine large building, where we proposed to attend religious service. The sexton sent the boys up the gallery, but gave me a seat in the body of the house, a distinction that did not please me at all. I really had a good mind to go up gallery with the boys. An old grey headed man preached a very fair sermon from 1st Timothy 1st Chapter and a clause of the 8th verse, the meaning of which was that the law was good if properly regarded. There was a large organ, but the music, though passable, was by no means superior. After the service we went around to the St. Charles Hotel, the French Market, Mint etc., and not far from 4 O' clock P.M. recrossed the river, and returned to Camp. The shops were nearly all open, and there seemed to be but little regard paid to the Sabbath. We learned that a large mail had come for us, but that we could not obtain it until the next day, as the Post Office was closed when the P.M. went for it. Also that the 50th Indiana and the 33rd Iowa had come, aandthat we were all to start for Mobile Point on Tuesday. My health was first rate - my leg and foot nearly well, and my spirits of the best, and I felt ready to go anywhere, and do any service legitimately required of me. I lay down, and though the rain was dropping on the tent over my head, and I did not know where, nor under what circumstances I might be even 24 hours thereafter, I slept an honest undisturbed sleep until morning.

Feb. 20th Algiers, La.

We learned in the morning what things could be taken along by Officers and man and the boys were soon busily engaged in packing their surplus clothing etc., in boxes and barrels, preparatory to sending it home by Adams' Express, the agent agreeing to take it to Wisconsin for $7.50 per cwt. The Captain went across the river in the morning, and did not return until after dinner, just as the Regiment went out on Inspection, Colonel Gray being the Inspecting Officer. He brought a box to pack our surplus clothing etc., in and while he was on Inspection with the Company, I packed my things, first marking them with a stamp on which was set in type my name. I having bought the stamp as a souvenir on the preceeding Saturday. There was a full set of the Alphabet with the stamp, in addition to the letters of my name. I packed a pair of pants, two pair of drawers, a linen coat, a vest, a wool blanket, my sash, a lot of collars, my cap, a neck tie, two or three books, some paper and envelops, and a number of small articles that I could not carry, and that I did not wish to throw away. I also packed my Diary, intending to keep some kind of a record, and copy it after my return home. I kept in the line of clothing one wool blanket, and rubber poncho, two pairs of pants, two shirts, four pairs of socks, a dress and a blouse coat, a hat, a pair of boots, two pairs of suspenders and an overcoat. I kept in my valise a full set of writing materials, my needle book, a couple boxes of blacking, a shoe brush, 100 pistol cartridges and a few other small articles, besides my clothing. After Inspection I packed the Captains's things, we fastened up the box, and the Captain had it marked to his father, and took a receipt for it. I then wrote to my wife and to Luriette, as we had received orders from General Veatch - Commanding our Brigade to embark on the steamer Belvedere the following day. I then had one more good sleep in our tent on shore.

Feb. 21st Algiers, La.

Early in the A.M. we received orders to strike our tents and pack our things, and at 10 O' clock the Regiment fell in to be inspected by Captain Patten of some Colored Regiment whose business it seemed to be to inspect all troops about starting for Fort Gaines or Mobile Point. He made a thorough inspection of arms and equipments, Camp and Garrison Equipage, Clothing etc., and it was perhaps 2 O' clock P.M. when he finished. I was not tied up by Inspection, but my liberty did me little good, as I did not know how soon orders to move on to the boat might come, so I did not go away from Camp at all. After Inspection was over, it began to rain, and we pitched our shelter tents just before night, and I had commenced to write to Mira when I was detailed for Guard Duty, placed in charge of 18 men and 2 Non-Commissioned Officers, and sent down to the landing to guard our Commissary Stores and other traps. I had not been there over half an hour when the Regiment came, and went aboard the Coast Steamer Belvedere of 808 tons burden. It rained hard before the Regiment were aboard, and as most of the boys were placed on the upper deck, without other shelter than their blankets, they had a hard time of it, as they could not fail to become wet to the skin. A large Faigue Detail was placed in charge of Lieutenant Hopper to put our stores aboard, and as it rained like jehue and it was very dark and slippery they had a miserable hard time of it until 3 O' clock the next morning. The wagons, 9 in number were taken to pieces and put below, a very hard job, and the mules and horses - 60 of them - were taken aboard and secured on the main deck. I kept up until about midnight, when, not feeling well, partly as I thought on account of the mingled smell of whiskey and tobacco smoke, and the confusion and noise, I lay down, but my indisposition proved to be the sick headache, and I did not sleep much, especially as a lot of the Officers were up drinking and gambling until the Fatigue Party were relieved at 3 O' clock A.M.

Feb. 22nd From New Orleans to Mouth of River.

I was real sick when I awoke in the morning, and I vomited several times - or made the motions - for I had eaten nothing since the previous noon. I lay in the cabin, on the floor, most of the day, or until the boat started out at 3 O' clock P.M. The 33rd Iowa Infantry, put on 10 wagons and 60 mules and a guard of 30 men, which took until 3 P.M. the time of starting.

Soon after starting I felt all right, and I ate a smoked herring and some hard tack, and afterwards a piece of bread and butter from our Mess Chest, which was all I ate during the day. We passed some fine sugar plantations below New Orleans, and made good headway until dark when we anchored in the middle of the river for the night. The little cabin was crowded, and early in the evening Gray, Slawson, Bingham, Watts, Williams, Fellers and Tichenor - the sutler - commenced gambling and drinking. I lay down at about 9 O' clock, as I did not fell quite well yet and was quite sleepy on account of being unwell, and not resting much the night before, but the gamblers drank a good deal, became noisy, and at last commenced quarreling, and they kept up a most disgraceful row until one O' clock A.M. when the clatter broke up in a general quarrel, one accusing another of cheating, and others drunkenly making other accusations. I felt ashamed, disgusted, and mad, but could not help myself. The Officer of the Day, Lieutenant O' Brien could do nothing, as he received his orders from Gray, who was as deep in the mire as any of the others. I slept well after the bedlam subsided. Before starting out in the morning we received a good mail. The Officers of the 33rd Iowa said that Quarter Master Collier got on a spree after we left Little Rock, and was dismissed from the service by order of General Reynolds, for drunkenness but it would have been too good a riddance so we could not place any reliance upon the report. It would have been an act of simple justice toward him, and toward the Regiment and the same course might have been pursued toward some of the other Officers without causing a great deal of complaint on the part of the men.

Feb. 23rd Mouth of the Mississippi.

We started on again in good season in the morning and at 2 P.M. anchored at the Mouth of the river. The banks of the river were very low, and covered, for a good part of the way with a tall, coarse, reed like grass, and much of the ground overflowed with water. Of course the scenery was very dull and monotonous, and it really looked dismal enough. There was a line of telegraph all the way down on the east side, and occasionally could be seen a house set upon stilts, which I presumed to be occupied by those whose business it was to watch the line of telegraph and keep it in repair - for I could think of no other motive for living in such a place. The line of telegraph seemed to terminate near our anchorage, in fact it had to terminate or continue into the Gulf as there was water all around except on the narrow delta bordering the river, which was all made land, the sediment of the mighty river. In the afternoon I wrote to Mira and Pa, for I thought I should be sea sick as soon as we were out on the Gulf - and under such circumstances I knew that I should not be able to write - nor do anything except take care of myself. As I fixing my bed on the floor about 9 O' clock, Lieutenant Cowing asked me to occupy his room, and he would lie on the floor, and I accepted his invitation with many thanks. I had a fine sleep and partially made up for the deficiency of the two preceding nights. The next morning I learned that the Officers had another row in the cabin after I went to bed, throwing water on each other, even by the pail full, throwing bundles of blankets and anything else they could find, breaking the lamp chimney, and I do not know what else - and having a nasty rough time generally, and of course the whiskey had been flowing freely to set such machinery in motion. They did not act much as though the perils of the country weighed very heavily upon them.

Feb. 24th From Mouth of the Mississippi, to Mobile

As early as they could see in the morning the hands weighed anchor, and the boat was soon turning around. In half an hour or so, the boat was outside the Bar, and we were really on the "Dark Blue Sea". We went through the North East Pass - but I saw the South Pass and the South West Pass. These we saw the day before. We were no sooner outside the Bar than the boat began to roll the sea being still quite heavy, there having been a violent storm, which was only just over. I went up on deck, but in less than an hour more I began to feel sea sick - but I had eaten no breakfast, and though I had all the motions to go through with, I could throw up nothing but a little bile and froth. It began to rain after a while, and I went below, where, by sitting in a reclining posture, I managed to keep command of my stomach, though I was obliged to keep still, and not think of certain articles of food. I neither ate nor drunk anything during the day, and I felt as miserably as I had any desire to feel - without exaggerating in the least. I was as well off however, as most of the others seemed to be, and I found that when night came, instead of staying up until after midnight, gambling and drinking, and raising the D____l generally, as formerly, every Officer went quietly to bed; for which I was very glad, as it gave me an opportunity to lie down as soon as I chose. We could not make Mobile Point that night, but the boat was anchored ten or twelve miles away, where she rolled and pitched at a great rate. The Captain of the boat thought we were five or six miles from the breakers - but it proved that we were barely a mile, and about midnight the Officers of the boat talked seriously of throwing the mules and horses overboard, to prevent the boat from foundering. I heard our Officers speckulating as to the probabilities of being run into by some other vessel, or of springing a leak, but I lay still and said nothing, for I knew that I was helpless, and I did not feel any alarm, nor experience much anxiety. Perhaps I had been in daily danger of being the target for the rifle practice of the enemy too long for such feelings or perhaps I did not fully realize the danger. During the day I saw some porpoises - and there were large numbers of Nautilus - or Portuguse Men-of-War - as the sailors term them, but I saw none, though I afterwards saw large numbers of them at Mobile Point. On the whole I had a miserable day of it, and my thoughts were not of a very poetical character, and I did not enthusiastically quote Byron's so oft repeated lines commencing: "Row on thou deep and dark blue ocean, roll.." though for the first time old old ocean's waves were rolling beneath me.

Feb. 25th Mobile Point, Ala.

We started again at daybreak, and the rotten old boat rolled and pitched as though it would be the pleasantest thing in the world to roll us all into the sea. I felt a little sick at first after getting up, but I soon got over it, and could run about without danger of heaving. We soon passed Sand Island, upon which was a Light House, and a tall chimney of some kind to appearance.
Fort Morgan, Mobile Point, Alabama, 1864, showing damage to the south side of the fort.
Fort Morgan, Mobile Point, Alabama, 1864, showing damage to the south side of the fort.
Mobile Point and Fort Morgan soon came in sight, and it was not long before Forts Powell and Gaines, Bird Island and Cedar Point were pointed out as our boat came to anchor. Gray and the Captain of the boat went ashore to report at Fort Morgan, and while they were gone, I wrote to Mira and to Sarah. My wife could then know nothing of my whereabouts and experiences, nor I of hers - but there was a great satisfaction in writing to and receiving letters from her. It was while in the army, away from home and friends so far, that I was learning the value of the little knowledge of writing etc., that I possessed - for what should I have done without the knowledge and the privilege of corresponding with my wife and friends. We were ordered ashore at Mobile Point instead of Dauphin Island, and we and our things were soon once again on Terra Firma. We went into Camp on the sand not far from the Fort, and I ate some pie and cheese with Captains Williams and Smith. A number of us then took a stroll through the Fort, and an artillery Captain belonging there showed us around. I there obtained my first intelligent idea of the inside of a large fort. The Citadel was mostly in ruin - the work of fire during the bombardment, but most of the bomb proofs were apparently in good condition. The Fort was being repaired, and the work of repair had been going on for months - but the effects of our shot were still everywhere visible. I came to the conclusion that such work would not be an easy thing to take, for the pieces in the bomb proofs covered every square inch of the inside of the Fort, and it seemed to me that after an assaulting party were once inside they would be in the place for almost helpless slaughter. After seeing the Fort we ate supper, and then Captain Tichenor and I took a walk down to the beach and picked up some sea shells. I went early to bed, glad of the privilege of again making my bed on the land. After we had lain down, the Captain's Uncle came and said that his goods had been confiscated, and he put under arrest, though allowed to go where he pleased on parole, and he came in and slept with us. He was arrested for shipping his sutler goods on a Government Transport. I did not sleep very well, as it was cold, and we were somewhat crowded.

Feb. 26th Mobile Point, Al.

I was up at early daylight, and I went down to the beach for a walk, and to pick up shells. Breakfast was ready by the time I returned, when I first thought that it was Sunday morning. After breakfast I wrote Mira a letter, and told her about my morning walk. The Captains Donaldson and McKee commenced the Pay Rolls at eleven O' clock. I took the Company on Inspection and I found the ammunition in good condition considering the stormy weather we had been having. Dinner time soon came, and after dinner Lieutenant Alvord and I started out along the Gulf Shore for a walk, and to pick up shells. We went and went and at last passed through the camp of the 33rd Iowa Infantry at Navy Cove, four or five miles from our own camp. We obtained a drink of very poor water, and then started back, crossing the Point to the Bay shore. We were tired and hungry by the time we were back to camp, and I was glad when supper time came. There were a good many boats at Navy Cove, some of which were river craft. There was a rail road from the Point to the Cove which we followed part of the way back. The water was very still and smooth, and I thought it would be rather pleasanter sailing than when we came from New Orleans. On the Gulf side we saw numbers of Porpoises sporting in the water, and a little later Captain Tichenor and his Uncle said they saw a couple of sharks - but I think they were mistaken. I had a good nights' sleep once more, as we were not so much crowded as we were the previous night.

Feb. 27th Mobile Point, Al.

After breakfast I took a walk down to the beach with Sam Turner, and we saw a great number of Porpoises, and picked up a lot of sea shells.
Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island
Fort Gaines
I then wrote a letter to Mother, and put a couple of small shells in it, and Foster took it and the one I wrote to Mira the day before down to the Post Office as the mail was to go out in a short time and I afterwards learned that it was put on the boat. After dinner (Pvt. James) Loughney and I took a walk down to the shore, and we saw a large Pelican. We heard some heavy firing at Fort Gaines, or somewhere in that direction, but we did not learn what the firing was for. Some attributed it to the downfall of Charleston and some to the arrival of General A. J. Smith, while others said that our Gun Boats were shelling the woods. Loughney saw a New Orleans paper of the 26th which stated that Sherman had captured Branchville, that Schofield had formed a junction with Sherman, and that Sherman's left wing was only two miles from Charleston. Major Pettibone of the 20th Wisconsin had a talk with some of our Officers and told them that about 45000 men were to start out, one column from Pensacola, under General Stul, one from Mobile Point, under General Granger, and one from Pascagoula under General A. J. Smith, and the opinion seemed to be entertained that the expedition would start within a week. The center column had Gregg's Battery to take on its way up to Mobile, four or five miles below the city. Mr. Tichenor received notice in the evening that he and his goods were released, and he said that he should take the first boat for New Orleans.

Feb. 28th Mobile Point, Al.

Our regular Muster Day, and Donaldson and McKee were engaged upon the Rolls until Muster at 10 A.M. We proof read the Rolls twice, and they were at last pronounced complete. We were Mustered for pay by Lieutenant Colonel Gray, and the Government was owing the Regiment eight months pay, and me seven. Nothing of unusual interest occurred except the reported arrival of a mail at the Fort. Other Regiments received mail, but our Quarter Master could not find any for the 28th and we concluded that it must be at Brigade Headquarters, up at Navy Cove, but no one felt interest enough in it to send up for it. I wrote to my wife, for I knew that she was just as anxious to hear from me as though I heard from her recently. For supper we had raw oyster, just out of the shell, the first that I ever ate, and to my surprise, I liked them well. The Mc Neills Church, and Heaten went up to the Cove and gathered a few oysters, and in the evening, by their invitation, I ate a soup made of them. They thought they tasted much better than * though they had not caught them, and I did not doubt it. Mr. Tichenor told me in the evening that our Army Corps was the Reserve Corps of the Expedition, and he did not think it would start out as soon as the other two Corps, but of course he knew nothing about it. I lay down on the sand as usual, and I had a very good sleep indeed - just as good, for ought I know, as though the main topic of conversation were not coming in collision with the enemy, charging Batteries etc.

Journal of Lieut. Seymour Gilbert
Nov. 1864 | Dec. 1864 | Jan. 1865 | Feb. 1865 | Mar. 1865 |

Last Updated: April 8, 2022