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1864 January 26: “McPherson is going to make a big raid, … destroying all in our course, plundering the rebels as much as we choose”

January 26, 2014

The original letter is in the Edwin D. Levings Papers (River Falls Mss BO), in the University Archives and Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

Camp at Clear Creek,
Miss., Jan 26th, 1864.

Dear Parents,

                      You will be surprised at learn we are back at our old camp at Clear Creek in rear of Vicksburg.  We were ordered up here the 22nd,—left Natchez the day following, reached Vicksburg at sunset next day, and yesterday came out here.  We received yours of the 28th ult. at Natchez and also those of cousins Lottie and Hattie, which we will answer in a few days.  I have not time just now to write as I would like and you must excuse a poor letter this time.  [paragraph break added]

I will tell you what is about to be done.  McPherson [James B. McPherson] is going to make a big raid, out beyond Jackson and we expect to go along too.  It will doubtless be the most extensive raid of the war and, if successful, will damage the rebels in no small degree.  Perhaps it will be preliminary to some more important movement elsewhere.  There are many stories in circulation as to what is intended but as the Gen’ls keep the matter secret, we are left to our own speculating at present.  From what I can learn I think we shall strike at Jackson and penetrate to Meridian 90 or 100 miles each of the former place, where there are large manufactories &c, destroying all in our course, plundering the rebels as much as we choose.  So much you may reckon as probable.  [paragraph break]

Now for a little speculation and for some stories that are afloat.  Some assert the Big Black River bridge is to be rebuilt, that the R.R. is to be repaired as far as Jackson & that the Military Governor, whoever he is, is to take his seat at that place.  Another rumor is troops are coming down the Mobile and Ohio R.R. from Corinth on a mission similar to our own, perhaps joining us at Meridian.  Possibly our movement is for the purpose of recalling the scattered forces of rebels going to reenforce Johnson [sic: Joseph E. Johnston’s] army, or preliminary to an attack on Mobile, as it will destroy all supplies and rolling stock on the Miss. roads.  A lot of pontoons have been in process of construction at Vicksburg & were to be done to day.  The report is 10 or 12 thousand of Hurlbut’s [Stephen A. Hurlbut] troops arrived at Chickasaw Bayou yesterday & are to constitute a part of the expedition.  Yazoo City I understand will receive attention, too.  The expedition will probably consist of 25 or 30,000 troops.  The rebels in Miss. are estimated at not more than 15,000.  We shall have some fighting, perhaps, and a good time, probably – shall be gone, perhaps, 30 or 40 days, perhaps less.  We shall start about the 1st next month.  So we veteran chaps will not get home as soon as expected, but after this raid is over, the Gen. says we can be spared to go home.  Fully ¾ of the entire Corps are Veterans.  We are to be mustered before this march, but not to be paid till after our return.  I understand the Veterans are to be credited to the counties they are from & are to receive the $100 bounty of those counties.  Very well, if you want to give us $100 all right, you’ll not lose any thing [sic] if your taxes are high.  [paragraph break added]

Now if you don’t get many letters for a month or so, if you get not any at all remember we are not in circumstances perhaps, at that time to write, but if opportunity occur, we shall surely write.  I will write again before we leave.  The weather is superb – warm and pleasant enough.  Write us often.  Direct to Vicksburg.  Co. A 12th Wis. Vol., 3rd A., 4th Div. via Cairo to Vicksburg.  Our love and best wishes to you all.

Edwin D. Levings

We are both in excellent health—as we always are.

Edwin Levings letter of January 26, 1864, from the Edwin D. Levings Papers (River Falls Mss BO) in the University Archives & Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls

Edwin Levings letter of January 26, 1864, from the Edwin D. Levings Papers (River Falls Mss BO) in the University Archives & Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls

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