Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Classic from My Bookshelf

Several times a week, I like to pull a book from my shelves that I haven’t looked at in a long time. Maybe it’s geekish, but I like to become reacquainted with my books. Yesterday, I opened my Camp Pope Bookshop reprint of Reminiscences of the 22nd Iowa Infantry by Lieutenant Samuel Calvin Jones. Admittedly, I am rather sentimental about this book because it was one of the first soldier accounts of the war that I ever read. The University library in the town where I grew up allowed me as a non-student to check out books including bound copies of the original Confederate Veteran, first editions of Confederate soldier accounts, and even a first edition copy of Reminiscences of the 22nd Iowa Infantry.

Jones’ slender volume is appealing because it is based on his diary, written in a straightforward fashion, and chronicles a regiment that served in all three theaters of the war. The 22nd Iowa Infantry was one of Fox’s “300 Fighting Regiments” and was featured earlier in this blog. Jones’ discussed service in Missouri and then his involvement in the Vicksburg campaign where his Iowa regiment suffered severe losses during the May 22nd assault. Later in the war, the regiment was one of three Iowa units that served in the 1864 Shenandoah Valley campaign.

Here is a brief sampling about a mud march in Missouri on this date in 1862:

“February 8th. We leave West Plains. We take up our march going northeast on the Thomasville road, a very muddy one. Marched ten miles and go into camp for the night.
            We start out on our march early this morning. The wagon trains and artillery started out earlier than we did. We found wagons and artillery stuck in the mud, some of the wagons abandoned. The moving of the trains and artillery was almost an impossibility. There was much wrath and confusion. We had it to do and we tried to make the best of it. We reached Thomasville at 3 p. m. Our teams did not come in till ten p. m. We could get nothing to eat until they came, therefore, we got our supper about eleven o’clock.
            We went into camp here on the banks of Eleven Point river” (pages 18-19). 

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