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In no other profession are the penalties for employing untrained personnel so appalling or so irrevocable as in the military.-- General Douglas MacArthur
5th Iowa Infantry5704 Reads
Jefferson City Aug 1861 Dear Folks at Home I take this opportunity of writing you a few lines to let you know that I am well at present and hope these few lines will find you all enjoying god Health
My health has been good since I joined the army I have not read but one letter from Delhi since I left Home. The day I left I went up to Mccrearys and he said he would send me the Journal but I have not read a copy of it yet. Tell Mc if he dont soon send I will quit takng it. I would like to have it if he would send it to me. We (the 5th Regt) has been moved about considerable since I wrote to you & we have had a prety hard time of it too. We left Camp Warren for Keokuk on the 1st of Aug we wet to FtMadison on the boat then took the cars and run in to Keokuk we had first rate quarters there we did not go out on the camp but put up in the city the building we was quartered in is about as large as the Harding house there was two Com of us in it. On the 4ins News came in town that a heavy Army of Sesesh was marching on Aethans which is 30 miles from Keokuk the excitement was great we soon read orders to leave for that place. Every man was ready in a short time and soon the cars was hurrying gusto that point. They stopped about two miles this side there we learned that 500 of Union drove them we was ordered to cut off their retreat and imediately started we waded he Desmoines River and marched about Ten mile in Missouri Then learned they had got ahead of us and was fast retreating it was about 9 oclock P.M. So we stoped for the night we had but one cracker for dinner and had to do without supper and some of us had no blankets and had to sleep on the ground without cover there was considerable growling in the camp but we could do no more than lay our selves down for the night. The next morning we marched into Aethens and learned the poticulars of the Batle about 500 of our troops drove 1500 Rebles Killed about 40 took a good many of them prisoner Capture 60 horses. I went over town and found a reble house the man had been taken prisener and the rest had left I entered it it was an awfull looking house the Soldiers had throwed the beds all over the floor took all the chickens and cooked them in the house we was left to take anything we wanted. I found a Handkerchief and some No 1 apples that suited me first rate so I pocketed them. I see were they buried some of the rebbles we left for Keokuk that day and on the 7th ins it was supposed that they was agoing to make another attack and we was ordered back but they did not do it s e returned home the same day. On the 11th ins we was ordered to Jefferson Barix which is Ten miles below St. Louis. We arrived on the 13th and in one hour from the time we got off the Boat we was ordered to this place but we did not start until the next day we had a gard time that trip nothing but river water to drink which is worse than water out of a dirty mud puddle the water in the missouri is muddy all the time well we finally arrived and lad around in the boat for a few days and then came to these quarters which is first rate it is a large Brick Building on the night of the 20th (when all was asleep except the guards) the order rang trough the house for us to arise and fall in ranks in a very short time we was all in ranks and marched on board of the cars and was off for Osage which is 10 miles from here they expected the rebbles to attact that point in the morning but they did not make the attack we staid there that day and that night. I was on Alarm guard It was an awful night it rained extra hard I stood 4 hours I the rain and was as wet as water could make me and could not get dry clothes until we came home I have to go on Parade so I must lay ths by for the present Aug 24 There has another night passed since I commenced this letter when we was on parade last night the Colnel said that in a short time we would get our uniforms and arms. I supose when he said arms he ment Rifles as we are armed with muskets now and as soon as we get them we will go out in Camp (Huhrh for Uncle Sam) There was a full boat load of Cavery just arived it is reported this morning that there is seventeen thousand troops in this town this morning and more is arriving hourly We are expecting a fight in a few days as this is Jacksons home and it is reported that he is marching his army to this place if he comes he will fink a warm reception as they are throwing up entrenchments and fast preparing for him. There is an irish regiment here. They are pretty hard boys and they will fight like Bull dogs. They are down to Osage now and the news just came to town that they had a brush last evening the Rebbles tried to burn the rail Road bridge and while one man was puting a match to it he was shot he fel over in the river to rise no more as a traitor there was several of them taken prisners and several killed the rebles tried twice before this and succeeded in burning about half of each time it is a bery long bridge and crossed the Osage River I was on it when we was down. There was some of our men up the Missouri River on a scouting trip they jus returned having 7 prisners 23 horses 2 span of mules 3 wagons with provisions blankets clothing etc etc. Tell Mrs George I will send her the money for making my pants as soon as I draw some if Crozier has not paid her And I want you to be shure and tel Said that I made amistake when I wrote to her yesterday In writing about the battle at Aethens I think I said the rebles was 15000 strong tell her i ment 1,500 I think I put on one to many naughts and tell her to direct to t Loui insted of this place asthey will come safer ive may respects to all enquiring friends. Tell Chet it is about time he was answering my letter give im my address Address ` I Remain Your Son Company I Hirst 5th Iowa Vol St. Louis Mo good bye
Note: by William Hirst Gift
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