Letter from CW soldier, Asa W. Mitchell, of Co. F Reg 93, IL Inf to his Mother - transcribed by Marji Turner and Jeanette Martin [brackets and question marks added by transcribers]
April 18th 1863
Millicens [Milliken's] Bend, Louisanna
you will see by the date of my letter that we have changed from where we were when I wrote you last. I think that I dated Mattie’s letter in Alabama when it should have been Louisiana. We left Providence a little after noon and landed here a little before sundown. The weather since we arrived here has been very warm.
Night before last we have quite an excitement in regard to one of our Fleets who ran the Blockade at Vicksburgh.
There were six Gunboats, one Ram, and three Transports: there was only one man killed and two wounded. Some of the boats were never touched although there were over five hundred shots fired at her. One of the Transports took fire, and and was burned, but it was not certain whether the five was kindled by the Rebels or whether it was caused by fire on board. Although there were seventeen miles between us and them, we could see the flash and hear the report of almost every gun that was fired.
The weather is quite warm today but there’s a cool breeze blowing from the north. I had intended to have finished my letter yesterday but was called away to go on guard.
This is a very pleasant place to camp and although we are so close to the great Rebel Head Quarters we feel just as safe as at any other place where we have been before, this security arises I suppose from the fact that there are so many troops here and along the rivers both above and below us. The land on this (the west side) is nearly all cleaned away for nearly a mile back.
There are a great many fine residences on these plantation but they are all occupied by our forces and are used by the Generals for their Head Quarters. General Grants is within a half mile of our Camp up the river. General McClemanse [?] had his nearly a half mile farther and General McFerson is still further up nearly three miles from here. This morning several of us took a walk and went up the River to the last named General’s Head Quarters: all the way from here there it is thickly crowded with Camping grounds. The houses are all been evacuated by the original owners, we seen one large three story house which had been shot into by our Gunboats, but it did no damage, we (also seen some hedge fences that were made of rose bushes, it was really a nice thing, as some of them were in full bloom. these are some things that I have …………….. [a sheet is either missing or bottom was cut off in the copy in the file as next sheet starts with the following:]
Day before yesterday our Division was called out on grand review by Major General Thomas who said that he was direct from Washington, after the Review he made a speech to us telling us what the object of his visit which was to put the immancipatiation law into effect, he told our Officers that they would be required to allow all the Negroes to come within our lines who wished to: and also that there would be twenty thousand troops raised among them in this department of the Army: these troops were to be Officesed by white men. He said that he wanted to get officers out of our Division for two Regiments, these Regiments are to be raised immediately and applications have been already sent in for Commissions: which he, (General Thomas) is athorized to give, he said that they would be used to hold fortifications in this Southern Country: he also said that they intended to have all the Negroes that they needed and would put this land into cultivation but from all that I can gather about farming in this Country. I think that it will be soon be to late to do any thing toward planting this year but as yet there is nothing about [?] done and I think that by the time they can put their scheme into operation they will not be able to do any thing this year but if the Rebellion should last any length of time I think that it will be put into full force.
The great question has been, if the Negroes are liberated what will be done with them, but that question is at last answered, put them on their Masters Plantations, and let them raise their own bread.
Today our Regiment is being paid off up to the first of March they have paid some of the Companies but I do not know whether we will get ours tonight or not. Just now I have been looking over head and seen some white birds which they calls [smeared word] Crows, this I think is the first white crow that I have ever seen.
We cannot tell how long we will stay here. Some think that we shall move away soon, while others as usual think that we shall stay here for some time, but it is expected by all that there will be a battle at Vicksburg within a few days, but if they should, there is nothing certain about our being engaged in it, for it is thought that there is very near two hundred thousand men in Grants army which is in position to be brought in to a battle if needed, there are now something near one hundred transports lying along the shore within three miles up and down the river from our camp, it is expected however (but of course not known) that we shall have to march across the country and come to the River below Vicksburgh to Blockside with the Transports, but with only men enough on to man them, then they will take us aboard to cross the river and land us at a place called Warrington [Warrinton], it is on a hill equally as high as Vicksburgh where if we can reach we will have an equal chance with them.
Since writing the above we have received our pay for four months $52.00. I expect that tomorrow I shall receive between 7 or 8 dollars more for duty performed in the hospital last winter.
We are intending to send what money we have to spare home by express, and will probably start it within a few days.
received our money last evening $52. each an our Colonel said that he would make arrangements so that we could send our money home by express. David is sending $48, you will get it at the Banker Smith in Fulton, all that we sent in that way will be sent in one package. I think of nothing more to write now. So will close, by sending love to all
Yours affectionately A. W. Mitchell
[Asa was killed about 7 months after writing this letter in Mission Ridge, Tennessee on November 25, 1863. He was the only son of John and Elizabeth Huffman Mitchell. He and his father farmed 200 acres of joined land – 80 of it belonging to Asa. The land was sold off in order to support the remaining family. His father, an invalid, died May 12, 1876. His Mother’s pension application #248869 was rejected by the government on the grounds that she was not dependent upon the soldier for her support at the time of his death]
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