Archive for the ‘civil war’ Category

[Auto] Biography of Samuel Oliver Bereman

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Several months back, I inherited a box full of family stuff: photos, newspaper clippings, report cards, etc. One of the items in that box was a six-page handwritten biography of my mother’s father’s mother’s father, Samuel Oliver Bereman. Perhaps he wrote it for his GAR chapter, as the mentions his GAR post in the last paragraph, and says little else about his post-war life. I’ve transcribe the document as well as I could; the handwriting is a bit of a challenge. Here it is in its entirety:

Atchison Kansas March 11/02

The subject of this sketch, S.O. Bereman, was born at Bellville, Indiana February 22nd 1842.

In the fall of 1845 with his parents he moved by wagon to Henry County Iowa and spent his boyhood upon a farm and getting only a common school education. The year 1858 he spent in Kansas, six miles south of Topeka where his older brother had entered upon good land, and in 1860 he crossed the plains to the new gold fields of Colorado, on his return to his home in the early winter Abraham Lincoln had been elected President and the mutterings (?) of the great storm which was so soon to break upon the land were even then beginning to be heard.

On October 25th 1861 he enlisted in Co. K 4th Iowa Cavalry then being recruited a week into camp at Mount Pleasant the county seat, where the Regt. continued (?) drilling &  doing camp round duty until in Feby. ’62 when they were ordered south. Stopping a few weeks at Benton Barracks St. Louis the Regt. was ordered to join Gen [Samuel R.] Curtis then on his way to Little Rock Ark.

Gen Curtis failed to [take(?) looks like "nuch"] Little Rock and after a long and arduous march   through the heat and dust with scant substances(?) they reached Helena, Artkansas. The regt. had been in a few light skirmishes  and had its baptism having lost several men in killed and wounded.

During the fall and winter of 62/63 they lay in camp at Helena  making frequent scouts (?) into the interior and very nearly returning without having had a scrap with the Johnies. In the spring of 1863 the regmt. went aboard transports and went down the  Miss. to join Gen Grant, then begining preparations(?)   to capture(?) Vicksburg.

During the greater part of the seige the 4th Iowa Cavalry were the only cavalry troops with Gen. Grant’s army and their duties were arduous in the extreme. The men were in their saddles every day and many nights, upon one of their excursions toward Black River  beyond which Rebel Gen. Johnson (sic, should be Johnston) lay, and while felling trees to block the road a detail of 120 men of this regmt. were surprised and surrounded by Starks brigade of Rebel Cavalry and lost ji___(?) half their numbers in killed and wounded and prisoners.

Immediately after the city surrendered, the regmt. went with Gen Sherman to capture or drive off  Johnsons (sic, again) army  which fell back to Jackson, Miss. Coh___ after a siege of ten days Johnston evacuated and the troops returned to Black River near Vicksburg.

Early in the siege of Vicksburg,  S.O. Bereman was detailed as a courier for Gen Sherman and was on his staff until late in the fall when Sherman left that dept. The regmt. remained here all winter with occasional (?) scouting—one of which was to Natches and lasted several weeks.

In Feby. 1864 the regmt. went with Gen Sherman on the Meridian Expedition and on their return to camp, the most  of the men having   re-enlisted as Veterans for their years were sent home on a thirty day furlough.

Returning the early part of April they disembarked at Memphis Tenn. and remained there until Sept 2nd. During this summer they were almost constantly engaged in fighting Gen Forrest  and his army. One such engagement [the Battle of Brice's Crossroads] was at Guntown in  Miss. when Forrest completely routed our force under the miserable incompetence of Gen. Sturgis, the latter through blundering lost his train of 200 wagons—all his artillery and more than half his command. The brigade of cavalry to which the 4th Iowa belonged brought up the rear on two days and two nights—constant without rest or food and saved many of the infantry from capture. The four howitzers of the brigade were all the guns saved to the army. The regmt. lost 70 men in this engagement.

Immediately after this another army under A.J. [Andrew Jackson] Smith also had arrived at Memphis went out and at Tupelo paid back Gen Forrest with interest all we owed him. The regmt. was with Smith on this trip and suffered severely—but not so much as at Guntown.

On Sept. 2nd the Regmt.   Started on the “Price Raid” Expedition. Going to near Little Rock  it joined A.J. Smith’s Command and followed Price through Ark. Mo and Kansas and to the Arkansas River in the Indian Territory where the chase was abandoned  on Nov. 8th. Going into camp in the snow and cold they took a vote—it was unanamous for “Lincoln and the vigorous prosecution of the war”.

The next day they started back—??—half starved—half clad—in the snow and ice half the men dismounted—to St. Louis when they arrived on the 1st day of Dec. having been on the march constantly for 3 months.

On this trip Price’s army was completely destroyed or dispersed. There were several engagements—notably at Big Blue—Marais des Cygnes —Mine Creek & Newtonia.

From St. Louis the next move was to Louisville Ky on January 1st 1865, the latter part of Feby they were loaded onto boats and went down the Ohio to the Tenn. River & up that to Eastport near the Miss & Alabama line where Gen J.H. [James Harrison] Wilson had gathered an army of about 15000 cavalry and very soon were started south & for nearly two months heard no word from the north.

On this raid Selma and Montgomery, Columbus & Macon Ga. were captured after hard fighting. The enemy killed or captured on this raid exceeded the number of our[?] command. The ??? of property—such as arsenals—factories and war material—including one gun boat at Columbus—would aggregate many millions of dollars.

At Macon a flag of truce reached us on April 22nd—the first news we had had from the north— the war was over. It was while waiting for news that we heard of the assassination of Pres. Lincoln.

After a few weeks’ rest the army moved to Atlanta & on its way up the 4th Cavalry participated in the capture of Jeff. Davis. The regmt. had the honor of capturing seven of Davis’ cabinet— Alexander Stephens—vice pres.—Robert Toombs—Stephen R. Mallory sec. of Navy, B?? R. Hill—Senator & Gen & Hershel V. Johnson— but missed the great prize.

They lay at Atlanta until August 10th when they started north & arriving at Davenport Iowa were mustered out Aug.  25th. The regmt. lost in killed wounded and dischaged for disabilities [what happened to the rest of that sentence?]

Com??? Bereman was with his Regmt. the whole of its service & was in nearly every engagement & campaign of any importance. His family sent nine soldiers to the field—his father—six brothers & two brothers in law.

After returning home being in very poor health he attended school & taught some until in 1868 he engaged in the drug business which he continued all his life. In July 1873 he came to Atchison Kansas & in 78[?]  joined John A. Martin—then Atchison Post 93 [of the GAR, a CW veteran's group] and has held the office of adjt.—Q.M. & Commander.

my great-great grandfather was an SOB

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

Samuel Oliver Bereman, my mother’s father’s mother’s father, left a journal of his adventures in the Civil War. I’ve had “plans” for some time to do a video blog project, following his journal through the South, visiting battle sites, interviewing historians, and profoundly ruminating. Eventually, I’d take the vlog footage and condense it into a two hour movie that I could sell, take to film festivals, etc. Next time I have a few thousand spare bucks and a couple of spare months… oh, well.

While my snarky family members generally refer to him by his initials, family letters refer to him as “Ol”, short for Oliver, his middle name, contrasting with his father, Samuel Emerson Bereman. I’ll use Ol here.

Anyway, a year or two ago, a bunch of my extended family members got together; I was unable to attend. A box was put aside for me with a bunch of Bereman stuff and miscellaneous tidbits from other branches of the family. Among these papers was Ol’s papers documenting his promotions and his discharge from the military after the war. It seemed like these were cool enough to throw up on the web and see if anybody cares.

Ol’s promotion to Sergeant

Ol’s promotion to First Sergeant

Ol’s discharge

There are a number of interesting documents in this box, including newspaper clippings of the deaths of several Bereman cousins and some personal letters. I’ll try to post a bunch of them as time permits.


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