Civil War Journal of Samuel Oliver Bereman, page 14
In the 4th Iowa Cavalry
January 2-February 22, 1865
Jan. 2nd 1865
Arrived at Portland, three miles below Louisville about sun down and commenced disembarking. Boats cannot run up to Louisville on account of the rapids. Did not unload much after dark.
Moved out two miles South of the city on the R.R. running from this place to Nashville where we found the Detatchment who were after Price in Mo. & Ark. & went in to camp. Dont like the looks of the camp at all. It is quite flat & muddy with no protection from the wind & no quarters but small shelter-tents.
Jan, 4th 1865
Our stables (composed of a picket rope stretched from one stake to another) are about two hundred yards from the camp & are on the other side of a big slough which is almost almost impassible now, dont know what it will be if it rains.
We have been having quite a spell of weather of late, rain, snow, hail, mud, ice &c. & the branch between here & our stables is on a bender. I instructed the stable guards to feed the horses if it became unfordable. I have been acting 1st Sergent since we arrived here as our orderly is about to be promoted to 2nd Lieut.
The balance of the regt. joined us today. I mean the Detatchment that went into Miss from Memphis. They are looking hearty & well. Guess they had a good time. They captured 700 prisoners - tore up 40 miles of R.R. in Hoods rear - destroyed a large lot of supplies that were intended for the rebel army - among them 600 head of fat hogs & nearly as many beef cattle. They could not bring these in - being but a squad of cavalry so they killed & burned them. They brought in 700 horses & mules & about the same number of contrabands. We are under marching orders, for Eastport Miss. but I think will not go very soon. Good news from the east - Ft. Fisher is captured by our forces. Well keep the ball rolling I say.
Jan. l9th 1865
We do have the awfulest weather here that any body ever saw & so much of it. It will freeze hard as Greenland for a few days & then turn worse, thaw out & rain. Then we will have mud without end - then it will snow & freeze up tight again &c. It keeps continually changing. We have been trying to drill some but donot make much progress at it.
Capt. Drummond was mustered out today, his time has expired. He had held his own for three years. It is not every one who does that.
We were paid off today. The Co. only drew two months pay as they had been paid off since I have. I drew six months pay & an installment of bounty $50.00 making $170.00 which I sent home by express.
Received a hamper of nice things from home by express, such as butter, canned-fruit &c. I ordered it sent to Memphis thinking we were going to stay there, so it has been a long while on the road, having come via Memphis. They were very welcome indeed, much obliged to the folks at home.
We are having an awful muddy time just now. The snow has all gone off - & it has been raining. Imagine the consequence in this wooded country. We had a sword presentation today by the officers & men of the regt. to Col. Winslow, who by the way is Breveted Brig. Gen.
Had speeces [speeches] from Lieut. Col. Peters & Winslow. The mustering of Capt. Drummond has caused a [gap in original] in co. K. The co are unanimously in favor of Lieut Vanorsdol for Capt. & have signed a petition to that effect & presented it to Col. Winslow, who is not at all likely to regard it in the least, but is going to have an officer from some other co. to "rule over us." which we dislike very much. Vanorsdol is as brave an officer and as efficient in the field as there is in the regt. but Col. Winslow thinks he has not enough discipline to be in command of a co.
He sent for me the other day & wanted to know the feelings of the Co. on the subject, as also Lieut Vans. I told him plainly what I thought about it. I told him if an officer from another co. was placed over him that Lieut. Van. would resign He said he could not help that, & that it would be to my advantage, as I was to have the next commission in the co. I said "I would much rather stay where I am now the rest of my time than to lose him" "I have no doubt of it" said he. But I could do nothing with him. When he is determined to do a thing he generally does it in spite of everything.
Sergt. Hallowell has been promoted to 2nd Lieut. & I to 1st Sergt. Lieut. Hodge - Brigade Adjutant will likely be our Capt.
Feb. 7th 1865
We have been under marching orders for some time but owing to the ice in the river the boats could not run. Today we broke camp & went down to the wharf at Louisville & lay there till sundown, where we got on board the "Nashville", but did not get all our equipage on so will not start before tomorrow.
Finished loading & started down the river about noon. Got over the rapids without any difficulty as the river is up. There is only one co. on this boat besides ours, so we are not crowded at all & sleep in the Staterooms. So I anticipate a nice trip - which is some thing of a rarety for soldiers on a Steamboat.
Stopped to coal at Canatton until ten oclock. One of the boats with a part of the Brigade passed us here. It has turned cold & is snowing some at present. Ran all last night with the exception of a short halt at Evansville Ind.
Arrived at Paducah Ky. at 4 oclock P.M. It is at the mouth of the Tenn. River, 60 miles above Cairo. Passed Smithland at the mouth of the Cumberland River twelve miles above. There is lots of floating ice in the Ohio River here which left Louisville before we did.
Left Paducah at 4 oclock this afternoon & started up the Tenn. River. There are seven other boats with the rest of the Brigade on all under convoy of a Gunboat.
Feb. 12th 1865
Passed Pittsburg Landing at ten oclock in fore noon, or Shiloe as it is called some times. It does not have the appearance of a hard fought battle-field, but of course one could not see much from the river. The place seemed deserted. The Tenn. River is rather a narrow stream, but is clear & deep & is with all a very nice stream. It looks favorable for guerrillas to attack boats from the narrowness of the stream & the thick woods on either side, & I understand they improve the opportunity.
Arrived at Eastport Miss. at 3 oclock in the afternoon. Passed on up to Waterloo landing three miles & disembarked. The Brigade is camping about twelve miles up the river, so we went in to camp for the night on the bank of the river.
Moved out to camp, & was very agreeably surprised to find some very good quarters already for us to move in to, which have been built & left by some other troops. They are made of split logs with the cracks daubed & chimneys to them. Much better than what we had at Louisville. Much obliged to those who built them - may they always be as successful as we have been. The name of our camp is Gravelly Springs, from springs of that name in the vicinity. We are two miles from the river in the corner of the State of Alabama, just north of us is Tenn. & a short distance west is Miss. There is said to be a force of 25,000 mounted men here under Gen. Wilson. He is a Regular army officer & lately from the Potomac. We dont like Regular Army officers - especially when they come from the Potomac but let us hope for the best.
It seems very lonesome here compared to the busy scenes of Louisville. There seems to be no life here save that imported by the soldiers, the moving of troops & munitions of war. Every thing has the appearance of having felt the blighting hand of war, & the presence of hostile forces. Gen. Hood passed here on his retreat. The roads were very muddy at the time as every body knows & their track is plainly visible. Dead mules & horses, broken & abandoned wagons, torn down fences mark the rout, besides the absence of subsistance of every kind - especially chickens.
Well this is my 23rd birthday. I am just a year older than I was this time last year. It has been warm and nice for a week or so but today it is raining. Got some mail - the first we have had since leaving Louisville. Hav'nt seen a newspaper since we have been here. Dont know what is going on in the world except right here. Peace might be declared & every body would get done rejoicing over it before we would hear of it. We have to drill now, have dressparade, Guard mount &c. Getting Stylish in our old days' Gen. Wilson is the cause of it all. We are all employed in writing letters, as it rains so we cant drill.