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The War from the Other End of the Telegraph Sometimes a valuable diary is to be discovered, written by someone other than a participant on the battlefield. Such is the case with this diary kept by Edward Bates: Missouri politician, serious contender for the 1860 Republican Presidential nomination, and a man who years earlier served as a sergeant during the War of 1812. In February 1861, President-elect Lincoln called Bates to Washington, and on March 5th incorporated the man onto his Cabinet as Attorney General. The sections of Edward Bates’ diary most of interest: Pages Dates 121-130 APR-JUN 1860 Presidential aspirations. 143-167 SEP-DEC 1860 “The Country is coming apart.” 175 5 MAR 1861 Bates enters the Lincoln Administration. 180 March “The Florida forts must be held, with or without Sumter.” 182 15 APR War footing recommendations. 201 15 NOV “Halleck has gone to take charge in Missouri.” 215 December “France intends to side with England, in event of a provocation…” 217 31 DEC “We expect to hear of a battle near Bowling Green soon…” 218 31 DEC Bates advises Lincoln to “take personal command of the Army.” 220 31 DEC “Nobody knows McClellan’s plans…” 223 10 JAN 1862 “The boats and bomb rafts at Cairo are not ready.” 226 13 JAN Cameron has resigned; Stanton to be the new SecWar. 226 13 JAN General frustration, due to lack of military action. 228 2 FEB Bates describes Edwin Stanton. 228 3 FEB “The President has ordered action everywhere to commence by 22 FEB.” 230 5-11 FEB [Bates makes no mention of Fort Henry.] 232 14 FEB “It is said Fort Donelson was attacked today.” 232 17 FEB “We have certified information of our success at Fort Donelson.” 232 20 FEB “Willie Lincoln has died; his brother, Tad, is gravely ill.” 235 21 FEB Bates evaluates meaning of success at Fort Donelson. 239 11 MAR Stanton Report; McClellan removed as General-in-Chief. 239 11 MAR The Experiment begins: Stanton/Lincoln co-commanders. 242 15 MAR Telegrams from Halleck, Foote, Pope (IRT their intentions.) 246 5 APR No news… 246 8 APR “While in Cabinet Council, news arrived from Island No.10” 247 8 APR “We expect news from General Grant…” 247-249 April The news from Pittsburg Landing. 249 April Bates believes: “Once New Orleans falls, it is over.” 253 28 APR “The news comes that we have taken New Orleans…” 260-261 4 JUN 1862 “Things have not gone well recently…” The Diary of Edward Bates, published 1933: https://archive.org/details/diaryofedwardbat00bate/page/n5
On the morning of the 6th of April, Sergeant Seymour Thompson was a twenty-year old member of 3rd Iowa, Company F, eating breakfast with his messmates, when the growing sound and increasing frequency of musket fire to the south and southwest became concerning. But with the booming of not-so-distant artillery, there was no mistake: the Federal camp at Pittsburg Landing was under attack. The long roll trilled and SGT Thompson joined his fellows in ranks for the march south to aid General Prentiss' 6th Division... but General Stephen Hurlbut halted his men well short of Prentiss' camps -- made aware of that Division's disintegration by the swelling stream of wide-eyed skeddadlers racing north -- and Sergeant Thompson and the rest of the 3rd Iowa found themselves arranged in a line of blue, stretching roughly east-west across a cotton field. And not long after the stragglers thinned out a bit, Thompson caught his first sight of the enemy: "The Rebel regiments with their red banners flashing in the morning sun marched proudly and all undisturbed through the abandoned camps of Prentiss. To the enemy's surprise, suddenly appeared our line of blue, widely deployed upon the open field, the ground sloping towards him, and not a brush to conceal us from his view: a single blue line, compact and firm, crowned with a hedge of sparkling bayonets, our flags and banners flapping in the breeze. And in our center a battery of six guns, whose dark mouths scowled defiance at him. "The enemy's infantry fronted towards us and stood. Ours kneeled and brought their pieces to the ready... Thus for some moments, the antagonists surveyed each other... until a regiment on our left opened fire, and the other regiments got caught up, and the fire was carried along the entire line..." Thus relates Seymour Thompson his initiation into the Battle of Shiloh in his 1864 book, Recollections with the 3rd Iowa Regiment. Nearly forty pages of this 400-page history are devoted to arrival at Pittsburg Landing and subsequent battle. The first hundred pages relate the forming of the regiment (and trouble arising from the political "selection" of Colonel from outside the regiment, in opposition to the usual practice of vote of members); and everything one could ever want to know about guarding railroads in northern Missouri. The book concludes with Thompson's discussion of 3rd Iowa's disastrous participation in the Battle of Jackson, Mississippi in July 1863. Because only two years passed between Battle of Shiloh and publication of the book, many unexpected insights and revelations are included IRT how that battle was fought; what chance the Confederates had of winning; and observations of early-career U.S. Grant, W.T. Sherman and John Pope. And Stephen Hurlbut comes in for criticism early on (during operations in Missouri); but over the course of Days 1 and 2 at Shiloh, Hurlbut experiences a transcendence in the view of the author, and most of the men of the 4th Division. Available at archive.org (free site for out-of-copyright books). Ozzy http://archive.org/stream/recollectionswit00thomp#page/n3/mode/2up N.B. SDG member, Hank, first made mention of this work by Lieutenant Thompson several months ago... but I only just got around to it.
Available online from the University of Iowa Library are these three diaries (for years 1861, 1862 and 1863) written by 20-year-old schoolteacher, Turner S. Bailey. Working in Epworth, Iowa (about three miles west of Dubuque) at the start of 1861, his diary for that year focuses on teaching classes, the weather, and local issues... until April 15th. "Considerable excitement about war. Fort Sumter taken by the South." Beginning with that entry, Turner indicates growing preoccupation with "war fever" until enlisting in the 3rd Iowa Co. A at Dubuque on May 22nd; travelling with the regiment to Keokuk in June; and duty in Missouri (guarding railroads) beginning in July. In March 1862, it was decided to add the 3rd Iowa to the growing Federal force on the Tennessee River; Private Bailey arrived opposite Pittsburg Landing on the 15th. On the 17th the 3rd Iowa went ashore at Pittsburg Landing and went into camp near "their friends in the 12th Iowa." Each subsequent day is faithfully recorded -- the weather, the skirmish on April 4th -- and of course, the Battle of April 6/7. On the attached link, click on the desired diary... a new page will open... click on the diary again for access to every page. [University of Iowa adds another diary, or collection of Civil War letters, about every 3-6 months, so worthwhile to check back every once in a while to see what's been made available.] http://www.iowaheritage.org/items/browse?advanced[element_id]=49&advanced[type]=is+exactly&advanced[terms]=Infantry Cheers Ozzy