|We enlisted at Story City, Iowa, the 12th of August, 1862, and left from Nevada, Iowa the 13th of September the same year. [View a copy of the enlistment paper]
On the last day of our stay in Nevada, we were feasted and banqueted in regular wedding fashion. At the tables, the soldiers, marching to the strains of music, were seated first, and directly afterwards those nearest of kin. But there was too much sorrow and weeping at the thought of parting that our appetites were small. Mother could not swallow a morsel. I gave her an apple to take home. Personally, I did not feel the pain of parting to be unbearable.
From Nevada we were taken in three wagons holding about 12 men each to Clemens Grove, where lived the father of H.F. Ferguson. The old man invited us to his home for dinner. He had butchered a hog which was fat and luscious to a degree. After having gorged ourselves on delectable swine flesh, we thought of our host and asked him to state his price. He refused to consider it, but expressed a desire that we, each of us, make a couple of rebels bite the dust. Mr. Ferguson had a son in the 2nd Iowa Cavalry, Co. B, and another in the 2nd Iowa Infantry, who died at Shiloh, (also called Fort Danielson) in the spring of 1862. [Editors note]
From Clemens Grove we went to Albion, where we were quartered Saturday night. On Sunday we were again feasted to our hearts content. Great big tables were set up in the open, and the women served chicken and all kinds of good things. We spent Saturday night at Grundy City, Grundy County, where we were pieced out among private families. From Grundy City we were taken to Waterloo, where we were treated to plenty of apples, though in a rather unique fashion. The apples were thrown about everywhere, on the ground and elsewhere, and we hopped around picking them up as best we could. Our next halt was Dubuque, which we reached by train.
When we came to Dubuque, we immediately sought for some good things to eat, but though we had taken time by the forelock, the people of the city, or whoever it was, got ahead of us and brought us the hind-quarters of several oxen which we were invited to make away with at our pleasure. We were supposed to prepare food ourselves in camp-kettles, but none of us knew how. However, we had to learn, or starve.
We were sworn into service the 6th of October, the same year, and started for St. Louis a week later. Arrived there, we marched in a northwesterly direction through the city. We finally came to a timber where we halted on the south side, and where there were houses and tables (Jefferson Barracks). Here we were well entertained for a week.
From this place Companies A, D, F, and G were taken to Cape Girardieu, Missouri. I never visited the place, which was located beyond some rugged hills and dells through which I saw soldiers go when departing. The rest of us in the regiment, Companies B, C, E, I, H, and K went with our captain, Colonel Scott, went to New Madrid, Missouri., and stayed there until Sunday between Christmas and New Years. But, before we left New Madrid, our captain received orders from General Asport to destroy the ammunition magazines there, and sink all cannon balls that we could not carry, for here the rebels were expected to appear. We lay around in boats on the Mississippi and witnessed the explosion which was terrific. Later Colonel Scott was tried by the war authorities for having "obeyed wrong orders" and uselessly destroyed war material, but being a good lawyer, he cleared himself and was exonerated.
We stayed at Fort Pillow, Tennessee, until June. The place was most uninviting. We had to shovel snow off the ground to prepare a place to sleep. Later we built houses there and lived comparatively well. Not far from our camp was an evil nest, where a guerrilla captain by the name of Kussman, a German, delighted in shooting down as many Union soldiers as he could safely get a bead on. However, one morning when he wasnt looking, Captain Moorse, of the 2nd Illinois Cavalry, nabbed him, placed him in chains, and sent him to Columbus, Tennessee.
One day, while we were yet at Fort Pillow, we received a rather funnily expressed message from the rebels. Colonel Wolfe, of the 52nd Infantry, took charge of the letter in which was expressed a very strong desire to possess the place we were occupying, in fact they were bound to have it, etc. The colonel turned the letter over and exploded into unprintable speech, and finally wound up by writing: "Come any time. I have plenty of boys to fight you, and they are of the best kind." We felt certain that they would come upon us in the night. We waited while the dogs howled and the lightning played back and forth on the heavens, and at three oclock all fires were extinguished, but no rebs came then, nor at dawn, when we thought surely they would have hurled themselves at us.
From Fort Pillow we were transported to Columbus, Kentucky, where we remained until September, 1863. It was here that Mr. Eliasson took sick and was the first among the Norwegians to pass away.
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