Diary Entry from Allen, Charles Richard

Soldier: Allen, Charles Richard
Allegiance: Union
Unit/Service Branch: 2nd Cavalry
Home State: Illinois
Date Written: Thursday, January 1st, 1863
Location: Memphis, Tenn
Correspondence Type: Diary Entry
Subjects: Bushwhackers, Camp Life, Commanders, Comrades, Cotton, Enemy, On the March, Western Theater
Dec 31st 1862
I carried a dispatch to the 68th Ohio at Abbeville. Got back quite late. Run into a spy. Do not know whether he was Rebel or a Union. We were close together before we knew it and both ready to fire but waited for each other. Soon as he saw my uniform he threw down the point of his revolver, said all right and rode by. I concluded I was not hunting trouble, had orders to only fire in self defense if I met up with an ememy.

Jan 5th 1863
We camped at Holly Springs. Here we found out the Rebel Gen’l Van Dorn [General Earl Van Dorn] had captured the place. Our 6 companies of the 2nd Reg’t had quite a battle with the Rebels. Our Col. McNeal surrendered but Major Marsh and Bush did not surrender so they only got the Col. of or Reg’t but the inf. surrendered and acted very cowardly. The Confederates burned all of our supplies that were here. That was the reason Grant retreated from the Tallahatchie River.

Jan 6th 1863
Camped at Coal [Cold?] Water.

Jan 7th 1863
Arrived at Lagrange. One brigade went to Davis Mills, one to Grand Junction.

Jan 10th 1863
We left Lagrange this morning going towards Memphis, Tenn. Camped at Moscow [Tennessee].

Jan 11th 1863
Camped at Lafayette [Mississippi?] a small miserable town. Head quarters are in a house.

Jan 12th 1863
Foraging today.

Jan 14th 1863
Pickets attacked. We went out but Rebels had left. Very bad roads. About 10 of us crossed Wolf River in a snow and rain storm over a bottoms that the bridges were all afloat and water deep. We were soaking wet and miserable cold. One horse fell down between the floating logs and like to have drowned Charlie Hodson before we could get him out. We crossed over to a saw mill found a com. of Inf. had been standing picket here and had been attacked by a Com of Rebel Cav. but time we got across the Rebel Cav had gone.

Jan 15th 1863 – Thursday
On guard over some camp equipage. Rain and snow 2 inches deep. I was carrying a dispatch came to where the Rebs had sacked a country store. Found that they had scattered the goods all around. Picked up some handkerchiefs and saw a big double Bay Slate Shawl. I pulled it up in front and tied it on my saddle thinking I would send it home. I was on my way back to the camp, had to go through a division of Inf. marching along in the cold muddy roads. When some of them laid their hands on my horse and says “Hello Charley. How do you do?” Looked down at the boys and saw about a dozen old schoolmates. One of the boys hollered “Oh Henry here’s Charlie your brother.” Sure enough it was my brother’s com. First time I had seen him since I left home and while I was talking with him he said that they had left most of their blankets at one of their old camps to be sent home and now the weather was so cold they pretty near froze for want of them. I took the Bay Slate Shawl and handed that to him. He said that was just what he wanted.

Jan 17th 1863
4th division came into town today. Very cold terrible time for infantry to march. The roads are so muddy and it rains or snows continually. Everybody gets wet and not much chance to dry their clothes at night. It will be a wonder if there is not an immense sight of sickness amongst the troops this spring. There is a great deal of complaining amongst the boys. Everything looks dark. Our army has suffered defeat in the East and West. There are a great many desertions. Times look very dark for the Union.

Jan 18th 1863 – Sunday
Division moved to Colliersville [Tennessee] and went into camp.

Jan 19th 1863 – Monday
Division moved this morning. Marched to within 8 miles of Memphis. I saw Henry today between Germantown and Memphis his division came in on the Pigeon Roost Road. They are enroute for Memphis. I was carrying a dispatch when I run into his Reg’t. Boys were all glad to see me.

Jan 20th 1863 – Tuesday
We moved into the suburbs of the city of Memphis, Tenn. We expect to get 2 months pay today.

Jan 21st 1863
Rec’d our pay. I got $96. I went to town and bought a pair of $7 boots and $3 hat. Everything pretty high. Our Reg’t does not wear the regulation hat. That is the com. don’t. We wear a soft felt hat with a large black plume.

Jan 23rd 1863
I got a pass and went out to Henry’s Reg’t on a visit. Stayed all night. Had a very pleasant visit with the boys. Most of Henry’s company were from Albany, Ill. Nearly all of them had formally been my schoolmates.

Jan 24th 1863
Came back to camp this am. Went to town with some of the boys in the eve to attend a theater. I did not have a pass. The other boys had on civilian clothes. I did not know that a pass was necessary. Consequences were I was arrested and taken before the Provo Marshall who finally gave me a pass back to camp. So I lost my .75 I paid for my ticket and had a lonely walk back to camp but learned a lesson not to depend on comrades for knowledge about such things. After this I think I will have a pass when I go anywhere.

Jan 27th 1863 – Tuesday
Very cold. I wrote letters in camp all day and went to the theatre in the eve. Heard Mrs. Tannehill sing some of her favorite songs. One of them I liked so much it was “Trust to Luck” and Irish song. Now our work is mostly camp guard. We write letters or that is what I do. The boys are having a great time gambling. Some of them lose all their money in a few days after they are paid off and then borrow all they can and generally lose that.

Jan 30th 1863
I went to the city. Had my likeness taken and sent it to O.J.S. I sent home some of my money.

Feb 5th 1863 – Thursday
Brother Henry here today.

Feb 12th 1863
Henry and I went down town had our pictures taken and sent them to mother.

Feb 15th 1863
We went out on a scout today with the Reg’t also 2 Reg’t of Inf. 2 pieces of artillery. We only saw 5 or 6 Rebels. We had to leave them and came back to camp.

Feb 20th 1863 – Thursday
We started to load our Com. and head quarters on a transport. We rec’d our pay today $50.40

Feb 21st 1863 – Saturday
All loaded on the transport Marie Denning. [see reference notes for USS Maria Denning]

Feb 22nd 1863 – Sunday
The fleet started down the river this morning. Bands playing sounds like we were off on a picnic. Don’t think there will be much picnic about it.

Feb 23rd 1863 – Monday
Landed at Lake Providence [Louisiana]. McArthur’s [General John McArthur] division is here.

Feb 24th 1863
Unloaded and went into camp near the lake. Half of the town is burned up. Now the weather seems to set in for better weather. Quite balmy.

Feb 27th 1863
My birthday today. We have a beautiful camp here close to the lake. Some of us went out to serenade some young ladies near the lake this eve.

Mar 5th 1863 – Tuesday
Out scouting. Went out 12 to 15 miles. Saw Old River. Very rich country. Plenty of corn. The planters are raising corn in place of cotton. They raise the corn especially for the Rebel army. Guess the Johnies will not get all of it. We were out scouting doday. Went 15 miles down the river. We gathered up and drove in camp 50 head of cattle. Got in at midnight tired and worn our.

Mar 7th 1863
Went about 40 miles today. Got 25 head of cattle. Came back in a very hard rain storm. We found some fine hams here. The nicest sugar cured hams I ever saw. They were in a rail pen out in an open cotton field covered over with charcoal. The think the old planter thought he had them hid. We stopped at his place for dinner. The old fellow was terrible strong Rebel. He said his corn was for the Rebel army. We found his hams and if we had only had one of our wagons along would have brought them all into camp. We brought in 2 and 3 and some of the boys as much as four apiece. They was a treat for the com. also for Gen’l Logan’s head quarters.