Civil War Journal of Samuel Oliver Bereman, page 11
In the 4th Iowa Cavalry
January 25-February 29, 1864
On picket last night, we have the nicest weather I ever saw for the time of the year. I dont know when we will go home. I guess Mr. Government didnt fulfill his contract for we were told we should go home if we reenlisted. I would'nt care much - only I wrote to all my correspondents that we were coming home & they needn't write any more so now I won't get any more letters for a month.
Started out on a foraging expedition. There are sixty wagons along and about 400 cavalry. Traveled sixteen miles where we found enough corn in the crib to feed our wagons & pitched in to it. We ran on to some rebels this evening and took one prisoner. He was wounded in the thigh and bled so he fell off his horse, another one was wounded but got away. We are camped at old Mr. Russels who was so kind as to furnish us the corn. He is an old grey headed rebel.
Started back at three oclock this morning, the moon was shining brightly. Our regt. was in the rear and the 1st Battallion in rear of the regt. About sunrise a Brigade of rebel cavalry attacked us in the rear thinking perhaps to capture our trains. Taking advantage of the ground we would form one co. after another across the road & as the rebs would come up to the rear co. would give them a volley & then fall back, keeping the train moving all the time. They didnt follow us far after we came to our old fortifications. We lost one man taken prisoner and one horse shot dead
January 29th 1864
We were paid off today. I drew $207.00. My old bounty of $100, sixty of the new and three months pay. There is a big expedition going out from here soon and our regt. is going along. We are promised a furlough as soon as we return.
I.O.U. arrived and I went down to Vicksburg to send money home. I sent $210.00.
Started out at daylight with twenty days rations. The expedition is under command of Gen. Sherman who has just arrived here. The Cav. Brig. is under Col. Winslow. There are two Army Corps along the 16th and 17th. Co.B. had a man severly wounded at Edwards Station while on picket. Camped tonight at Baker's creek on the road to Jackson.
Started early and had gone only a short distance when we came on to some rebel cavalry and kept up a skirmish with them all day. They made a determined stand two miles from Bolton Station. We dismounted and fought them on foot until the Infty. came up, when we were ordered to make a flank movement on them which we did coming on to their left near Bolton Station when they fled. We are camped a few miles beyond the Station tonight. The rebels lost five men killed and fourteen wounded. We lost five killed & several wounded.
Camped tonight at Jackson. Our regt. was in the advance today and our co. in the advance of the regt. The rebels had taken a strong position at Clinton in the edge of the timber and as we came in sight of them they opened on us with two batteries raining in the grape shot & shell thick for a while. But fortunately we had only one man killed.
We were dismounted and tried holding our horses by the bridles. Wat. McLean and I were behind the same tree. A shell burst about twenty feet to our right and a piece of it struck me on the foot, bruising it slightly and scaring me greatly. Another one came between me and my horse and struck McLean's horse on the leg cutting it off except a little skin. He took his saddle off and I shot the horse with my revolver to end his sufferings.
The Infty. coming up we were sent around to the right to flank the enemy again. Their columns soon commenced falling back and we struck it Just outside the old fortifications at Jackson. Dismounting we attacked them vigorously cutting off the greater part of their cav., it going around to the north of Jackson, We killed three of them and wounded several and took twenty prisoners and two pieces of artillery.
As we were advancing to the attack, we went "every fellow for himself". cav. fashion and not keeping any kind of a line. Major Spearman, who by the way is rather excitable in a fight after vainly endeavoring to keep us straight, told Col. Winslow who had just come up that he could'nt do any thing with the men - "they were all mixed up and running every way." "Which way are they running" asked the Col. "Towards Jackson." replied the Major. "Well let them run, they are going the right way." Said he and we did run.
One poor fellow got behind and being the last one who got through, had to run the gauntlet of all our carbines. I am certain there was a hundred shots fired at him - but he escaped unharmed. I took a "dead rest" on a fence post and fired two shots, but expecting any minute to see him fall. But "boldly he rode and well" - leaning forward on his horse he gained the fortifications and was out of sight. The 10th Mo then charged after - them mounted and pressed them so close that some of them fell off the bridge and were drowned.
February 6th 1864
Went three miles north of the city and got forage for our horses and came back to within half a mile of town and went into camp for the day.
Crossed Pearl river this morning and started on east. Passed through Brandon twelve miles from Jackson, and camped two miles beyond. Some prisoners say that young Gen. Robert Lee was at Jackson and was wounded in the arm.
Started at daylight. Marched twenty miles. The 10th Mo. being in the advance were skirmishing nearly all day with the rebs. who lost several men in killed and wounded. Our co. are on picket tonight. The rebels have about eight thousand Infty, ahead of us now, under Gen. Loring besides their cavalry, We have run them pretty close today and their camp is less than a mile off. While I was out on Vidette I could hear their band playing quite plain. Heard them play "Dixie" and several other well known pieces. If they will make a stand tomorrow we will play them a tune worth a dozzen of theirs.
Started early but only made ten miles. Our regt. was in the advance and were skirmishing with the rebel rear guard all day. Took thirtyfive prisoners besides a lot of deserters.
The 5th Ills. were in the advance today. They had considerable of a fight this morning at Hillsborough. The rebels lost four men killed and several wounded. A lot more deserters were picked up today.
Marched only 10 miles today. The roads are very swampy and in some places almost impassible. The rebs. burned several bridges on the way. The country this side of Jackson very barren-covered principally with scrubby pine. The weather continues warm and pleasant for february. Didnt have much skirmishing today as the Johnnies have the start of us on acct. of the roads.
February 12th 1864
Marched twelve miles. Passed through Decatur four miles from last night's camp where the advance had some fighting. Our regt. will be in front tomorrow and deserters say the rebs. will make a stand. The Inft. have closed up with us and are camped all round us tonight and one of their bands is playing "Bonnie Eloise" which sounds very beautiful here among the pines.
Started early - the 4th Iowa in the advance. Went three miles and found a large bridge torn up, which detained us an hour, when we started on but soon found the road blockaded by trees being felled across it. We had to clear this away and fix up another bridge and by this it was nearly night. The rebels were just ahead and gone into camp - thinking we would not get through the obstructions tonight. Our Battallion was dismounted and went ahead on foot. We soon came on to the rebels, and had a running fight for about seven miles. It soon got so dark we could not see them but when they would hear us coming they would fire & then we would fire at the flash of their guns. They would take advantage of every hill to make a stand - but would not stand long after we got close enough to fire. They lost several killed that we know of and might have been more, as it was so dark we could not see them. We only lost one man. After we had stopped chasing them, we heard them fire a volley a mile ahead of us. I suppose they thought they heard Yanks coming.
Started early, crossed the Octibbehaw a considerable of of a stream. The rebels had burned the bridge as usual & we had to build a new one. But as we are used to that it did not detain us long. After crossing we pushed on to Meridian, ten miles from where we camped last night. Had a fight before we got in to the place. The Infty. were brought up but did not have to do any thing. The rebs. had one killed and several wounded which they left behind. We had several wounded.
February 15th 1864
Lay in camp all day. It rained all forenoon - the first we have had since we left Vicksburg. We are camped on a large plantation three miles N.E. of Meridian. Have plenty of forage for the horses and lots of good hams & fresh meat for our selves. There were some wounded rebels left here, one of whom died today. They were wounded yesterday. I think it was intended for us to meet a cavalry force near here from Memphis or northern Miss. but we havot heard from them yet.
Started out on the north end of the Mobile & Ohio R.R. a part of the Inft. following us and destroying the track. Stopped at Marian Station seven miles from Meridian until the Inft. came up when we went on to Sanderdale Springs, twelve miles from Marian and five miles from the Alabama line, where we camped for the night. There a several large buildings at the Springs which are converted into rebel Hospitals. Had a small skirmish this afternoon.
There was considerable excitement in camp last night, in consequence of a report to the effect that the rebels were making an attempt to cut us off from the Infty. which stopped at Marian. We broke camp at three oclock this morning and fell back to our Base, where we arrived at 9 o'cock and got breakfast and fed our horses. It was very cold last night and did'nt sleep much as we were not allowed to unsaddle or build any fires. In the P.M. we moved out half a mile north of town and camped for the night.
The command did'nt move today. Our co. on Picket a mile and a half north of town. Some of the co. went out foraging and captured seven horses and a six mule team loaded with meat, meal &c. which were being driven off "to hide from you'ens." It was very acceptable indeed, as we are out of hard bread entirely & have to cook johnny cakes. Pretty cold yet, snowed this forenoon.
February l9th 1864
Relieved from picket at ten oclock, returned to carnp and went to sleep. The regt. went out foraging.
Started this morning back to Vicksburg, the cav. in the rear. Marched 18 miles. We are on a road several miles north of the one we came out on.
Marched twenty miles today, didnt get into camp until way after dark and then had to go a mile and a half after forage for the horses. Our regt. was in the rear but didnt see any signs of rebels, guess they are not going to follow this time as is their custom.
Left the Infty. this morning - we taking the right hand road. We drew five days rations before we left the troop and will not likely see them again soon. Marched 28 miles and camped at a large C. S. Gov. plantation, where we found a plentiful supply of meat, flour, meal, corn &c. all which we helped ourselves to abundantly. This is my twenty-second birthday, but I havn't enjoyed it very much as I am not very well today. Passed through Philadelphia a small deserted village with nothing extra-ordinary about it except its name. Also crossed Pearl river a few miles up.
Started out very early and marched thirty miles. The country here is very hilly and rocky, covered with pine timber - some what resembling the Ozark Mountains in Mo. Captured a confederate mail at Platsburg and believing that "alls fair in war", we had the audacity to open it and examine the letters. We found nothing of any importance - but some were rather interesting. One of them written by a lady to her husband in the army said that Vicksburg was retaken by the rebels! News to us but it wont be to him for he wont get his letter. The writer also expressed strong hopes that the South would soon gain her independence, and that she would soon see her dear husband at home! All of which I seriously doubt. I suppose this is the way they build up the courage of the soldiers by telling such big lies. Our general course since leaving the Jackson road has been N.W Think we will go by the way of Canton. Our regt. was in the advance today, had some skirmishing which we took seven prisoners, one reb. had his horse killed.
Marched twenty-seven miles. Passed through Koscinsco 7 miles from last night's camp It is rather a nice business like place. The country begins to look better also. We have turned in a S.W. direction today. Our regt. in the rear. Some rebels appeared and attacked the rear guard, but when they lost one of their number killed and another wounded, they soon got tired of it and quit.
Marched twenty five miles and camped within three miles of Canton. The Infty. are in Canton having come in on a nearer road. The citizens around the city hearing of the approach of the yankees on the other road, loaded up their valuables and provisions and such things as they thought "we'uns" would like and started then out on this road, & the first thing they know, they ran right in to us! They acknowledged themselves beat at their own game. We captured 14 wagons loaded down with stuff of all kinds all of which we appropriated as "spoils of war." Among the rest was a rebel capt. who had just been married, and was riding out in a fine carriage with his lovely bride. We took him out of the carriage and left her in tears! It really looked hard, but we had to do our duty. Besides she ought'nt to have married a rebel. We have more contrabands following us of all sizes - sexes - colors, and ages, than we have white men in our Brigade!
Lay in camp all day. Just two years today since we left home. Received orders tonight for the 4th Iowa to start on to Vicksburg in the morning as escort for Gen. Sherman who says we shall start home as soon as we get to camp. We will go through as soon as possible, not wait for the command.
Started at sunrise passed through Canton where we found Gen. Sherman & staff waiting for us. Went twenty miles and fed our horses & stopped a couple of hours. Started on and went 15 miles.
February 28th 1864
Our co. on picket last night - didnt sleep a bit, Started on at three oclock and arrived at camp on Clear Creek 16 miles - at 9 oclock. Found a good many recruits for the regt. which now numbers over twelve hundred men, Washed and put on some clean clothes after which felt much better, We have been out 26 days and have had a very good time. We brought in five hundred prisoners and deserters - five thousand contrabands 400 mules and horses, lost two hundred men killed & wounded missing.
Mustered for pay also turned over horses and arms to the recruits and those who did'nt reenlist, so we will start home soon.