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1865 January 9: “I suppose the draft is engrossing the most of the attention of the people up there just now”

January 9, 2015

Jerry Flint—again spelling it “Jerrie“—writes this letter to his mother in River Falls.  The original letter is in the Jerry E. Flint Papers (River Falls Mss BN) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, University Archives and Area Research Center.

Highland Stockade,¹ La
January 9th, 1865

My Dear Mother,

                                No doubt it seems strange to you that I should not write oftener to a Mother, and perhaps there should be no excuse.

I write but very little now, to any one as nearly all my time is necessarily occupied with business arrising [sic] from being alone in command of a Company of Cavalry.  Warren is away, which leaves the duties of three officers devolving upon me.  [Warren P. Knowles]

How long it will be so I cannot say, but at present there is no prospect of a change.

Our station is seven miles from Baton Rouge in a small stockade fort built principally for the protection of the Telegraph running to New Orleans.

We are now however building a work which when finished will be a pretty strong fort.

I only hope that when it is finished we may remain inside of it long enough to learn which way is North and South.  I am about tired of so much moving camp, short distances as we have had the past fall and winter.  We have built Barracks three times this winter.

For a week past it has rained almost incessantly and the mud can only be compared to Illinois.  Unless a man is very careful when he goes out his hat will be the only relic that marks the fatal spot where he sank  into the bosom of earth.

But just now I am very comfortably situated for quarters and keep a Colored Individual to bring me wood, water, and rations, therefore I can be in defiance to the elements.

I have not heard from Helen² for a long time.  The last letter I did receive, she talked to me just as she used to do when I wanted to shoot some chickens off the wheat stacks Sunday, and censured me most severely for not writing oftener.  I believe I have not written since, so what may I not expect in her next.

I suppose the draft is engrossing the most of the attention of the people up there just now.  It may be selfishness but I do love to have these drafts take place.  I hope they will all keep up their spirits for the “Call” and one or two more will probably give us men enough, and then I think the Good time so long coming, will have come.

It is now a little over a year since I left River Falls at the end of my Recruiting tour and never did time seem to pass off so swiftly.  It seems hardly a month.  What shall I do when this war is over?  Hoeing corn and digging potatoes every hour will seem an age.  I almost shudder to think of it.

“Our Boys” are in good health and spirits and I believe we have as few sick men in the Company now as at any time previous.  The recruits are becoming acclimated and the veterans can stand everything.

I will enclose a few Photographs which I wish you would carefully preserve with those I have previously sent.  One you have whose name is Harris.³  He was one of my best friends and was discharged last summer at the expiration of his term of service.  Since then he has been in the employ of the Government as “Secret Scout.”  I have just heard to night that he is dead.  You can judge how much I shall prize his picture.¹

Give my love to Grandmother and all my friends and tell my enemies that I hate them worse then ever.  Tell Phineas² not to wait for me to write but that a few lines from him will be acceptable any time.  Good night and may God bless you.

~ Jerrie E. Flint

1.  The Highland Stockade was built by the 4th Wisconsin Cavalry to protect the southern entrance into Baton Rouge. Their job then consisted of “guarding the river and preventing the rebels from running salt and beef from western La and Texas across the river into the confederacy.” The Highland Stockade is today on the National Register of Historic Places.
The following comes from material of the 4th Wisconsin’s Guy C. Pierce and confirms what Jerry says here, and even includes a story about Jerry. The original material this was drawn from belongs to Debra Pierce Cohig and the full item can be found transcribed on the 4th Wisconsin Volunteers website. This material is now old enough to be in the public domain.

“Nov. 7th, Capt. Pierce with his Company [D] went with Major Craigue [Nelson Francis Craigue, 1835-1897] six miles below Baton Rouge and occupied the Highland Stockade which Major Craigue had built the year before. Our work was mostly guarding the river and preventing the rebels from running salt and beef from western La. and Texas across the river into the confederacy. We were very successful in capturing large quantities of rebel stores and supplies, quite often engaging in hot skirmishes with squads of cotton burners and guerrillas. Capt. Pierce’s life was probably saved by Obe Driskall, now of Richland City, Wisconsin, who got the drop on a rebel just as he was drawing a bead on the Capt. from behind a tree while we were having a fight in the open woods with a party of guerrillas.

“Nov. 14th, 1864, the detachment under Major Craigue and Capt. Pierce stationed at Highland Stockade joined an expedition under General A. L. Lee making first Clinton, La., then on to Liberty, Miss. . . . sixty miles from Baton Rouge, charging in and surrounding the Head quarters of rebel General Hodge capturing his A. A. General and a portion of his body guard. The old General escaping through a window the back way jumping a high picket fence in a dense bramble thicket in his shirt-tail “after this, he was always known as shirt-tail Hodge.” Before reaching Liberty, a large portion of the 4th Wisconsin with Lt. Jerry Flint in advance charged into Camp Beauregard. Lt. Flint capturing the rebel, picked without alarming the camp, also taking fifty prisoners, most of their arms and equipment, and twenty horses.”

2.  Jerry’s sister (Helen) and brother (Phineas).
3.  Probably Edward A. Harris, from Platteville, who enlisted in Company G of the 4th Wisconsin on May 6, 1861, and was discharged, when his term expired, on July 2, 1864. The official Wisconsin roster, of course, says nothing about his activities after his discharge.

Jerry Flint letter of January 9, 1865, from the Jerry E. Flint Papers (River Falls Mss BN) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls University Archives & Area Research Center

Jerry Flint letter of January 9, 1865, from the Jerry E. Flint Papers (River Falls Mss BN) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls University Archives & Area Research Center

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