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1864 May 28: “I have seen some of the toughest fighting that I ever saw, but as luck would have it came out all right”

May 28, 2014

Since August  29, 1863, Frank Harding had been the captain of Company C of the 5th (or 15th) Corps de Afrique Engineers.  On April 4, 1864, the 5th Corps de Afrique Engineers became the 99th Infantry Regiment of U.S. Colored Troops, which was attached to the Engineer Brigade in the Department of the Gulf.  Union troops serving under General Nathaniel P. Banks in the Red River Campaign—including the 99th—arrived in Morganza, Louisiana, on May 22, 1864.  The 99th then served fatigue duty at Morganza till June 20.  Morganza is village near the Mississippi River in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana.

The original letter is in the Frank D. Harding Papers (River Falls Mss AB), University of Wisconsin-River Falls University Archives & Area Research Center.

Morganza   May 28th  1864

My Dear Father

                                I have neglected to write for some time thinking that in a short time we should be somewhere, but as I see no immediate prospect of moving from here I will give some idea of where we are and what we are doing.  What we have done you have doubtless ere this learned thru the newspapers.  We are at present nearly  200   two hundred miles from New Orleans on the bank of the Miss.  We have been here one week.  How much longer we shall stay I don’t know.  At present we are engaged in fortifying this place.  [paragraph break added]

The 19th Army Corps are reorganising [sic] and are to be turned into a marine corps to patrol the river on found transports.  The 13th Corps have gone to New Orleans.  We some expect to go to Arkansas to join Steel’s [sic: Franklin Steele] Expidition [sic].  If we should go you will here [sic] from me.  Scince [sic] I last wrote you I have seen some of the toughest fighting that I ever saw, but as luck would have it came out all right.  We lost our Major and Adjt. and some few men.  The Major and Ajt. were taken prisoners and shot after being taken.  Yesterday our boys took twelve guerrella’s [sic].  They acknowledged that they belonged to no regular organisation [sic].  The upshot of the matter was four was [sic] shot, four hung and four brought into camp [in?] heavy irons.  [paragraph break added]

Our Army in this Dept. have made some of the longest marches on record.  They march in twelve consecutive days, three hundred and fifty miles, and have made almost as good time throughout the march.  Our Engineer Regt. were [sic] in front and rear constantly.  The officers however had the advantage of being mounted which made some difference.

But I will stop.  Hoping that my next letter may be dated at New Orleans.  Give my love to Mother and Diantha.  With love,

Yours Truly
Frank

 

 

Frank Harding letter of May 28, 1864, from the Frank D. Harding Papers (River Falls Mss AB) in the University Archives & Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls

Frank Harding letter of May 28, 1864, from the Frank D. Harding Papers (River Falls Mss AB) in the University Archives & Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls

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