Homer's story is an episode in life that echoes with meaning for today. The account begins with the greatest of aspirations at Pella Iowa in 1861. It unfolds through rural Iowa and Illinois, continues in war torn Missouri and Arkansas, and concludes mysteriously at post-bellum Monroe Louisiana in 1866.
(This book was revised in 2015.)
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Today is a day firmly fastened upon my memory for it is the day when I broke the ties that bound me to home and started forth into a world of strangers determined to be some thing in the world placing strict reliance upon the old adage which says "Where there is a will there is a way." I knew that with a steady nerve and determined will I could in time enroll my name side by side with the Illustrious. Finally after bidding friends and relatives a long farewell I started from my Uncle George's the morning of the 20th, 1861 with about $18.00 in my pocket. I came to Pella and bid Libbie Parrish farewell. (May Heaven bless her!) Walked from Pella to Oskaloosa where I arrived at 5 PM. Stopped at Osee Reynolds intending to remain a few days.
Peddling in Rural Indiana and Illinois
Returned to Crown Point and sold some envelopes. To-day I saw a little girl who wanted to buy a pin of mine but her father would not give her the money. She was smart & handsome. Her name was Mattie Beness. I started for Centerville where I arrived at 6 PM. I went to the tavern at night where there was a ball to sell envelopes & sold 6. I stopped with a good Methodist by the name of James Hernanway. I read a chapter and united in prayer.
He made no charges.
I sent that lady's pin to that little girl and also some paper & envelopes. She is a niece of Mrs. Hernanway. Their address is Merrillsville Lake County Ind. I promised to write. Stopped with a widow (Smith).
Nothing of interest happened last night while I was on guard except one man left his post and was reported. Thad Kinsloe is our 1st Duty Seargent and Chas Dawley 2nd Duty Seargant. The boys pass the guard and go down in town every night. A report has been going round here that our battalion is to be changed into an Infantry Regiment. The soldiers universally declare that they will never submit to this. They are pretty clamorous. How true this is time will tell. I drew an army shirt. About 8 PM Pointer was put in guard house for fighting with his wife. He was drunk.
Wednesday October 30.1861
We can hear the canon's roar every day almost. Last night Col Moore fired 9 rounds. We were visited by 1 of his men this morning. Our Col is very much alarmed and allows no one to leave Camp - not even a Com Officer - the reason of which is that our Col fears that some of our men will join Moore. The secret of which is that Col Bishop is jealous of Col Moore. There exists a rivalry between them. I should be none surprised if this Regiment was dissolved. We guard the horses. I am Corp of guard here and have been ever since we came here. The weather is very cold. Looks a great deal like snow.
Today I returned "Blackstone" to Lawyer Stephens. He said if I wanted to borrow any books or wanted a recommendation he would gladly accommodate me. He also said that when I got out of the army he would assist me to get a legal education.
I also returned Milton's work to Miss Roosevelt and borrowed Byron's complete works which I now commence. I love Milton surely. R Lymer and I went skating. We saw Cad. She was glad to see me and me her.
Chasing Quantrill & Bushwhackers
Monday June 23.1862
Lieut Vance last night chose 11 men from our own Company whom he wanted to go with him on a bushwhacking expedition. The 11 were Snoefo., Sergt Ross, Sergt Abernathy, Corp Springstein, Ferrier Morris, Wm Willhite, James Nelson, John C Fall, Thad Kinsloe, Joe Highfield, David Page, and myself. Each one was to take a revolver and dress in citizens clothes if possible. A stage was to take us from here and deposit us in the brush. Accordingly we started at daylight in the stages - the windows of which were closed. We take 6 days provisions. About 20 miles from here on the Lexington road in the vicinity of the Mo. River we decamped from the stages taking our provisions with us into the brush. ...
Wednesday July 9"1862.
It was very wet in guard tent besides body lice had taken possession and I allowed the prisoner to sleep in his own tent. Finished my Guard Report and wrote a letter to Mother asking about the probable prospect of getting into an Iowa Regt but more particularly as to if they were raising a Comp in Marion Co. Langdon & I went to see the Misses Farvers. No remarks to make on them now.
This evening just at dusk as we were all seated before our tents discussing topics common to a soldier - whisky and women - The Lt Col suddenly made his appearance and with the utmost coolness politely informed me that I "might consider myself under arrest". Also that I should leave my tent only to go to my meals, to the privy and attend to my horse, & leave Company to water my horse. The cause of this arrest to viz: allowing the prisoner last night to sleep in his tent. ...
Arresting Union Officers
Wednesday July 30"1862.
It rained the latter part of last night and pretty througoly soaked all of us for we were lying on the ground with the heavens for a covering. Started at 4 o'clock and at about 3 o'clock we arrived at Santa Fee on the Kansas line. A Company of the Kansas 6" is stationed here. The whole Comp is from Appanoose Co Iowa. Some of them were acquainted with Jno Osborn and Burkholder and one with SS Howell and his father. He said SS H used to go to school to him. We are here to arrest the entire Comp and Officers and Maj Ransom. Lieut Vance said he would arrest the first man who crossed the line. ...
Battle of Independence (8-11-62)
About one half hour before day light the noise of the men running in camp awoke me. I raised my head and looked out but saw it was not light yet and supposing the noise nothing more than common laid down again and relapsed into a dull sleep. Soon I was startled by the cries of "Fall in". I raised my head and saw a citizen running through camp crying that, "They were fighting up in town and were coming to camp." Men were running, then falling into ranks and the Bugler commenced sounding "To Arms". I jumped to my feet and exclaimed, "Mead the enemy is coming." ...
Friday October 17"1862.
Last night about 9 o'clock one of the sutlers store took fire and 3 houses were consumed before it could be stopped.
Gen Shoefield ordered a soldier to do some thing and he refused to when the Gen gave him 5 or 6 hearty kicks and told him to go to quarters. Gen Totten cursed some of the men. Neither general were dressed in uniform. Totten ordered Bush of our Comp to go to his quarters when Bush asked him "Who are you". "Brig Gen Totten" was the quick response. Bush said not another word but started to his quarters.
Arose at 3. Started at 6 AM with 32 days rations in our haversacks. One or two brigades moved in advance of ours. We camped at dark on Pea Ridge. For one or two mile signs of the battle between Price and Curtis can be seen. Whole trees were cut in two parts. ...
Battle of Prairie Grove
We moved on at an early hour. We passed the 1" Ark who were camped on the Illinois Creek and were nearly ready to start when we passed. The roads were hard and our horse's hoofs resounded as we passed over the ground. Our horses having had nothing to eat this morning we halted in a lane 6 mile from Cane Hill. ...
The rooms were so crowded last night that some were obliged to stand up while one man said he lay on a shelf. We look for a change of houses. There are some Federal soldiers who were taken at Newtonia and some at Hellana belonging to the 12" Iowa.
Our programme is as follows. At day light allowed to pass out of the house into the yard. Go with a guard to the river for water and make some mush for breakfast. At this we have to take our turn for only 2 men can go with one guard. After breakfast we boil beef, then make some mush and eat dinner. For supper we have mush and beef instead of beef and mush. ...
Capture of Little Rock
Little Rock Ark.
Sept. 18th 1863
... Price's rear guard had but just passed out of town when I came in. We lay down and slept till morning when we moved on after "daddy Price". We overtook them 7 mile from here and drove them 13 mile. Our Regt was dismounted to fight on foot and drove the Enemy some distance with a loss of one man wounded. I also dismounted and once had to hug the ground awfull close to keep from getting hit. The balls passed immediately over my head. We pursued the Enemy untill nightfall and camped. ...
Scouts behind the lines
Pine Bluff Ark.
June 2nd 1864
Mother and Brother.
I have just gotten your letter dated May 15th and right glad was I too. I am in good health. Have been sick but one day since I wrote last.
I have been on three scouts beyond the Rebel lines in their uniform within the last fifteen days. The first time there were but four of us. 3 citizens or refugees and myself. We went below Monticello where the Rebels have some 3000 men and captured some mules and horses but no prisoners. The next time we only went to the Rebel pickets and fired at them about mid night. You ought to have seen them run. ...
Remaining in the South
Jan. 15th 1866
My Dear Mother and Brother
... Anson, I own two of the best mares in the state. One will have a colt in a month or two and I could get $400 for her now if I would sell. Both are fast stock. I have no news that would interest you. I would send some money but no Express line here & I am afraid to send much by letter. Ill send a few dollars. Give my love to one and all my friends. I am reading Shakespeare good good!