|We had for the last year and a half been chased around from place to place, and had taken part in several battles and innumerable skirmishes, and had marched and traveled by train and steamship til now we felt were justly entitled to a rest. There were other armies that had been doing but little the last year or so, and General Canby, who commanded a part of the army at the siege of Fort Blakely, had not been doing much with his army of late, so he volunteered to go to Montgomery, Alabama, and attempt to take the fort there, leaving us to rest up. But our ambitious General Smith would not listen to this, not being satisfied to lie idle, so we had to go on again. In the ensuing march from Mobile to Montgomery, we suffered much the same hardships we had done on the expedition through Missouri, and under the same general. We found out that General Canby had sincerely wished to spare us, but that the strong-headed General Smith objected, as he was anxious for the honor of taking another fort. Signs of all descriptions with various threats and readings aimed at General Smith were nailed up on fenceposts and trees along the road, and Smith, who kept himself rather in the rear of the army, could not avoid noticing them. And it seemed to take effect, for he was easier with us after this, giving us better rations and better treatment generally.
We had been through a good many battles by now, and we had taken several forts, but to be honest, we dreaded what was now before us, which was the contemplated the siege of Fort Montgomery. It was a large fort, and we realized fully what it would mean to take it. I had seen so many of my intimate friends with whom I had fought shoulder-to-shoulder killed, wounded and maimed for life, and as we had only three months left on our enlistment there were so few of us left, I wanted this remnant to be spared and get home. But there was no sympathy or sentiment. All we had to do or think about was to obey orders and go to Montgomery and take that fort.
When we were nearing the fort on our last days march, we would occasionally be halted, and then we would hear a mighty hollering and cheering far ahead of us. Soon it was whispered that good news was coming. The cheering came closer and shortly a man on horseback drew up opposite our regiment, halted us, got off his horse, and officially announced that General Lee had surrendered to General Grant, and that the war was now ended.
Then came our turn for cheering, which we did most lustily and from the bottom of our hearts. Amidst the cheers there were hats and handkerchiefs thrown aloft, and some had been propelled so swiftly and went so high that they caught in the tree tops and had to be left there - but who cared for hats or handkerchiefs at such a time? It was the happiest moment of my life! The cruel war was over, and those who were left of us were safe and had the best prospects of getting back to our dear ones again.
We continued marching until we came near the city, when there was a momentary halt to enable the best band (at least, so I thought) of the army, the 198th New York, to take its place at the head of our columns and lead us into the city to the strains of stirring martial music. We were woefully tired out, but when we could march to the tune of such uplifting music and were buoyed up by the thought that our dangers and privations were soon over, we walked along quite lightly in spite of our fatigue.
We marched about two miles beyond the city where we camped in a pine forest. Here we had to stay for three months. Some regiments were sent home quite promptly, while others had to remain until things cooled down somewhat.
One or two regiments were sent home each week. We waited in vain for any relief orders to come to the 32nd Iowa. Our time of enlistment, too, had expired, and so, we wrote a complaint to Washington D.C., whereupon we soon got an order that we might go home. A steamboat took us down the Alabama River then we marched across the country to Vicksburg, and there embarked on a steamer for Clinton, Iowa. We were mustered out August 23, 1865, four and a half months after the assassination of Lincoln.
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