Thanks for posting this, Sue. These rare personal accounts from the
soldiers on the front lines are always interesting reads.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, September 18, 2003 10:12 PM
Subject: [IA-CIVIL-WAR] College Reporter, July 15, 1862
[Those of you who have read enough accounts of the battle of Shiloh
want to delete this but I thought those with ancestors in the 14th Iowa
might find it interesting, particularly if your ancestors were among
captured the first day of the battle, which is really what this letter is
Western College Reporter
Western College, Linn Co., Iowa
July 15, 1862
Letter from Dixie.
Camp of Paroled Prisoners, Nashville, Tenn.
June 20, 1862
After so long a silence I again seat myself to give the "Reporter" our
whereabouts which by the heading of this letter you perceive to be in a
paroled prisoners, "Shiloh" prisoners, whom the rebels have
they had not a sufficiency of "corn dodger" and stinking
beef to feed
There are about fifteen hundred of us in camp, all of whom have seen
"secesh" elephant, both on the battle field, and at his
home down in the
of cotton. I always had a desire to see the South; but never
"toted" all over the Southern confederacy, at the expense
of Jeff. Davis,
freight cars, and decks of steamboats, at the rate we have been,
last April. In my most romantic imagination, about privations, I had
reckoned of a _ythe? of the sufferings--of the dieting on stinking mule
unsifted corn meal--when we regarded the quantity more than
thirst, while riding in box cars, where we were suffering for want of pure
the uncleanliness, when we had not a change of clothing, and were
furnished with either soap or water--of sleeping at night without
frequently taunted and insulted by rabid secesh, of both genders--of
denied the privilege of newspapers, when we were about dying to know what
going on in the world--of hearing our country, its principles, and
depreciated by a set of filthy mouthed "butternuts," or by the aristocracy
cloth, as the case might be--of having to behold that meanest and
detestable of all banners, floating insultingly in our faces, and so on to
I do not propose, at this time, to give you a history of the battle of
Shiloh, or attempt to give even an epitome of the part our regiment took
reserving that for some other time. It was a terrible affair, the
confederates classing it with Waterloo and Solferino, and all unite in
hardest battle fought on this continent. Ft. Donelson was nothing by
it. We went into it on Sunday morning the 6th of April and after a
battle were surrounded and taken prisoners at 5 1/2 P. M. of the same day,
not in the morning as some newspapers have carelessly reported. When
taken the day was evidently against our army--but thanks to Buell and
forever, who were on hand the next morning to turn the tide of
favor. The rebels overpowered us on Sunday, but our men fought like
along our whole line of battle. The roaring of the cannon sounded
thousand thunderstorms, breaking simultaneously over a mountainous
reverberating from mountain to mountain, ringing through numberless
caverns, while the incessant small arms sounded like the crash of ten
thunder bolts. The white smoke of battle rising in majestic clouds
tree tops, floated along through the sky fairly darkening the sun.
of the enemy bursting over our heads--the cannon ball and grape shot
around us with their savage and peculiar whistle, together with the
the small arms singing about our ears with their well known
scene both awful and sublime. In the forenoon, several of our
killed, but we had the satisfaction of repelling our assailant, a
regiment well equipped and armed, getting their colors. Our position
center, which we held till the wings were beaten in after terrible
both sides; when we after a hard fight of more than an hour were
retreat through a cross fire as terrible as that which our
through at the memorable battle of Bunker's Hill. But we were
strong force of the enemy thrown directly in front of us, and were
to surrender as prisoners of war. We were in a heavy fire for some
after the surrender, several of Co. F getting wounded. This ended
the battle of Shiloh. Of the Western and Shueyville boys taken
were but four: B. F. Jacobs, Thos. Graham, B. F. Ransford and myself.
Zyke was left on the field severely wounded in the thigh. Wm. Walt
a few minutes before the surrender but whether he was killed or
escaping none of us can tell. Frank Zyke behaved very bravely for he
into the battle when he should have been in the hospital; another one
company (James Burns) did the same. Several of our company had very
escapes. B. F. Jacobs had the bugle on his hat mashed in by a bullet. B.
Ransford had the stock of his gun broken by a ball, while at the same
another grazed his neck. Wm. Walt had the barrel of his gun mashed by a
our first engagement in the morning. B. R. Smutz, was struck by a
went through his canteen cutting it entirely off of him throwing it
from him, also cutting through his haversack, entered his pants
striking a deck of cards glanced off, thus saving his life. B. F. Walker,
wounded in the thigh. Turner Wheatly, in the leg, but both of them
us. Wm. Wymark, an Englishman, who has been in twelve battles in
severely wounded in the shoulder. Sergt. Beach, [ink is faint]
wrist. The only one I know of in our company killed out right was
Lane, shot through the breast. It is very likely that Frank Zyke did not
long after he was wounded as he had been reduced so by sickness. I
made by a spent ball, which at the time was quite painful. Soon
surrender our captors forming us into a column of six deep, strongly
on both sides, began marching us off the field; a few minutes after,
boats began throwing shells over us, which made the secesh increase
very perceptably, giving us frequent orders to "close up
thar" "close up
thar." Our march lay through the battlefield for some distance, but the
there presented I have not space now to describe. We marched six or
miles, and were encamped for the night in an old field. In the night it
very hard completely saturating us, as we had neither overcoats or
the morning they gave us a ration of crackers, which we ate for
the most of us had been nearly twenty four hours without food. Soon
breakfast there was a great commotion among the guards, they acting as if
to fire on us. The commotion no doubt was caused by the news that
giving them, Hail Columbia. We went to Corinth that day, the next
the cars, we went to Memphis. Staying there a few days we were sent
a few days afterward we were sent to Cahaba on the river below
the 2nd of May we took steam boats from Cahaba for Macon, Georgia
Montgomery. As we came in sight of Montgomery in the evening, one of our
seeing the state house, said, "Thar's the house that played
hell with this
country." From Montgomery we went on the cars to Macon. The people of
treated us quite humanely, camping us in the fair grounds where we
air and good water. Our rations were better here than elsewhere as
us wheat bread, and strange to say even rations of coffee. But even
rations were not more than half as much as in our own camp. We
twenty days, in which sixteen of our number died, we numbering over
hundred men. On the 24th of May we were paroled, and were sent to our
way of Chattanooga meeting our men at Bellefont on the 28th, arriving
Huntsville the same evening. After two or three days rest we started on
Columbia, which we reached in three days and a half, from thence by
place. Before reaching this place we were joined by the prisoners
Tuscaloosa. They fared much worse than we did, being nearly starved to
and one of them was shot dead for looking out of the window of the
which they were quartered. B. P. Zuver was at Tuscaloosa, he is here
well. I would like to give you an account of the people of the
sentiment, that will break out occasionally, in spite of all
condition of the country, and a thousand and one other things but
When we were in Georgia the conscription act was creating a great
Send a copy or two of the "Reporter" to us if you please.
As ever, for the Union.
A. M. Baker.
Note: All the following served with Company F, 14th Iowa Infantry, except
P. Zuver, who was with Co. D, 12th Iowa Infantry:
A. M. Baker (Alvin M. Baker) of Western College, Iowa, enlisted at 25 on
26, 1861; reported missing in action at the battle of Shiloh on April
1862; later promoted to First Sergeant on May 1, 1863; mustered out Nov.
B. F. Jacobs (Benjamin F. Jacob), a Virginian, aged 32, resident of
Shueyville; enlisted Oct. 2, 1861 as Sixth Corporal; taken prisoner at
6, 1862, and later discharged for disability on Mar. 21, 1863, at St.
Thos. Graham (roster lists him as Grayham which may be an error), born in
aged 41, resident of Shueyville; enlisted Oct. 2, 1861, as Wagoner;
in action at Shiloh on April 6, 1862; discharged Oct. 13, 1862, at
B. F. Ransford (Benjamin F.), born in IL, aged 20, resident of Western;
enlisted Oct. 2, 1861; missing in action April 6, 1862, Shiloh, TN;
Corporal May 1, 1863, to First Corporal July 16, 1864; mustered out
Frank Zyke (Francis M. Zike), born in KY, aged 20, resident of Shueyville;
enlisted Oct. 2, 1861; killed in action April 6, 1862, Shiloh, Tenn.
James Burns; born in Iowa, aged 18, resident of Bonaparte; enlisted Oct.
1861; missing in action April 6, 1862, Shiloh, TN; discharged for
Jan. 8, 1863, St. Louis.
William Walt, born in PA, aged 19, resident of Shueyville; enlisted Oct.
1861; wounded and missing April 6, 1862, Shiloh, TN; mustered out
B. F. Walker (Benjamin F.), born in Iowa, aged 18, resident of Hillsboro;
enlisted Oct. 14, 1861; promoted First Corporal March 29, 1862; missing in
April 6, 1862, Shiloh, TN; promoted Second Sergeant Jan. 1, 1863;
out Nov. 8, 1864, Davenport.
Turner Wheatly (Wheatley, Ross W.), born in PA, aged 18, resident of
Hillsboro; enlisted Aug. 23, 1863; wounded in knee slightly April 9, 1864,
Hill, LA; see Company B, Residuary Battalion Fourteenth Infantry.
Wm. Wymark, born in England, aged 34, resident of Hillsboro; enlisted Oct.
18, 1861; missing in action April 6, 1862, Shiloh, TN; discharged for
Jan. 18, 1863, St. Louis.
Samuel Lane; born in Iowa, aged 19, resident of Hillsboro; enlisted Oct.
1861; killed in action April 6, 1862, Shiloh, Tenn.
Sergt. Beach (possibly Beach, Thomas B.), born in OH, aged 23, resident
Hillsboro; enlisted Oct. 14, 1861, as Third Sergeant; missing in
6, 1862, Shiloh, TN; promoted First Sergeant Jan. 1, 1863; Second
March 15, 1863; see company B, Residuary Battalion Fourteenth
B. R. Smutz (Benjamin R.), born in PA, aged 21, resident of Hillsboro;
enlisted Oct. 14, 1861; missing in action April 6, 1862, Shiloh, TN;
Corporal May 1, 1863; Second Corporal July 16, 1864; mustered out
B. P. Zuver (Byron Plympton Zuver) served Co. D, 12th Iowa Infantry
(Veteran); aged 20, resident of Mason City; enlisted Sept. 20, 1861;
April 6, 1862, Shiloh, TN; re-enlisted and re-mustered Jan. 5, 1864;
Eighth Corporal March 1, 1864; Fifth Corporal Oct. 15, 1864; Fourth
Dec. 1, 1864; First Corporal March 20, 1865; Fifth Sergeant June 1,
mustered out Jan. 20, 1866, Memphis, TN.
[Zuver also wrote articles about this period of their captivity.]
"Solferino" no doubt refers to the battle of Solferino, in Italy, on June
1859, involving the French and Sardinians against the Austrians, a
that had no clear outcome, somewhat like the first day at Shiloh, and was
particularly bloody; again, like Shiloh.
Source: "Roster and Records of Iowa Troops in the Rebellion, Vol. II."
War and Iowa: Greyhounds and Hawkeyes. CD-ROM. Creston, IA: O. J.
Sue Trout Reisdorph
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