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Army Life

From a Soldier’s Journal

A.O. Marshall

Publication Year: 2009

Army Life is the story of a twenty-year-old private whose engaging writing belies his age but also allows his youth to shine through. Marshall tells of the battles he fought and the games he played, of his friends, fellow soldiers, and officers, and of the regiment’s activities in Missouri and Arkansas, at Vicksburg, and in Louisiana and on the Texas Gulf Coast. Enhanced with careful editing and thorough annotations, this journal Marshall carried faithfully to every mustering out is a rich and important Civil War memoir.

Published by: University of Arkansas Press

Title Page, Copyright

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Series Editors’ Preface

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pp. vii-viii

The Civil War in the West has a single goal: to promote historical writing about the war in the western states and territories. It focuses most particularly on the Trans-Mississippi theater, which consisted of Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, most of Louisiana (west of the Mississippi River), Indian Territory (modern-day...

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Editor’s Introduction

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pp. ix-xviii

In 1884, Albert O. Marshall published his memoirs of service, entitled Army Life. This memoir is a rarity in what it is not. It is not a complete story of the Thirty-third Illinois Regiment. It is not a complete roster of regiment members, nor a list of killed and wounded. It is not written from an officer’s point of view...

Original Title Page

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pp. 1-2

Original Contents

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pp. 3-4

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PREFACE

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pp. 5-6

It has been truly said, that if the biography of any man, however humble his station, were written so truthful and complete as to display his whole inner and outer life, from the cradle to the grave, it would be immortal. To write such a biography is impossible. The writer, like the painter, only produces a likeness...

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I. LEAVING HOME

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pp. 7-16

The eleventh day of September, during the eventful year of 1861, found me riding at railroad speed down the Chicago and Alton road, on my way from my Will County home to Camp Butler at Springfield, Illinois, where I was to join the army, shoulder a musket, and go forth to the bloody fields of battle to...

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II. AT PILOT KNOB

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pp. 16-34

It was late at night when we arrived at Pilot Knob, too late to pitch tents, so we spread them on the ground for a bed and slept upon them with nothing over us except the starry sky during our first night in Missouri. “Pitch tents,” does not, like “pitching quoits,” mean to throw them as far as you can but, to...

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III. IN WINTER QUARTERS

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pp. 34-47

In each room there was either a stove or a fireplace. The one I was in had a good large fire place. These old-fashioned fire-places, relics of the past in more civilized lands, are yet in quite general use in Missouri. These are, as all pioneer people will well remember, simply an open fire-place at the end of the room...

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IV. LEAVING ARCADIA SEMINARY—THE FAREWELL SPEECH

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pp. 47-68

On the twenty-seventh day of February we received marching orders. These orders were received with glad enthusiasm. It is not necessary to describe the wild scene. It was almost an exact repetition of the scene at Camp Butler on a like occasion. All were anxious—wildly so—to go forward. To attempt to...

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V. IN CAMP AT BATESVILLE

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pp. 68-76

A curious incident happened on Sunday. By invitation, some of our soldiers met with and joined in a prayer meeting at the residence of a widow who lived near our camp. The widow, a very zealous, religious old lady was there and participated with the Union soldiers. In fact it was her prayer meeting. The...

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VI. BATTLE OF CACHE RIVER

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pp. 77-91

The early morn of a summer day, as the light began to break in the eastern sky on Monday morning, July 7, 1862, found us camped on the west side of Cache River. Work was commenced at an early hour and our pontoon bridge was soon thrown over the river. The army immediately commenced...

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VII. AFTER THE BATTLE

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pp. 91-95

The Union loss in the battle of Cache River was seven killed and forty wounded. Company A had three wounded: Captain Potter, Sergeant Fyffe and Corporal Bigger. Seeing how lame Captain Potter was, one of the boys ran out as the battle ended, and captured a riderless horse which the Captain rode the...

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VIII. FROM HELENA TO OLD TOWN—LIVELY TIMES–GATHERING COTTON AND FIGHTING REBELS

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pp. 95-100

The next day the Government paymaster arrived, the first paymaster we had seen for a long time, and our regiment was paid. Soldiers look with considerable interest for the army paymaster. The pay the soldiers receive, small as it is, thirteen to sixteen dollars per month, is to them quite an important...

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IX. NORTHWARD BOUND

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pp. 100-110

Sunday, October fifth, the good news, marching orders, came. We are ordered up the river. During the day we took a boat ride to Helena where we are to take a larger steamer for our northward trip. On the sixth, at the hour of five P. M., the good steamboat, Des Moines, started with us on board from...

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X. FROM PILOT KNOB TO VAN BUREN—THE ARMY MULE, ETC

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pp. 111-115

We remained in Pilot Knob until the seventh of January and then started to guard a wagon train to our army camp. Bailey and I waited in Pilot Knob for the railroad train to arrive from St. Louis so as to get the mail for our boys and some newspapers. It was late before we got started. Had to wade the streams...

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XI. WE RETURN TO PILOT KNOB

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pp. 116-121

It being plainly evident that the enemy would not remain for us to get within striking distance of him, and the object of our winter’s advance being accomplished by clearly demonstrating that the Union troops could at any time drive all rebel bands out of Southern Missouri and Northern Arkansas, we were...

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XII. A PUBLIC MEETING

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pp. 121-128

All politics were ignored in the army. As to the political belief of our comrades, we cared not. It was a rare case when one learned his comrades’ preference as between mere political parties. It would be a correct statement to say the soldiers of our army have no politics. The election of 1862 claimed but...

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XIII. DOWN THE MISSISSIPPI

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pp. 128-131

We left Ste. Genevieve on Monday and reached Cairo at three o’clock Tuesday afternoon. The steamboat started again at ten o’clock that night, reaching Memphis, Thursday, the nineteenth, where we stopped to take on a supply of coal. We were detained here the next two days. On Sunday Chaplain...

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XIV. CONFEDERATE NEWSPAPERS—ERRORS OF SOUTHERN OPINION

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pp. 131-135

One of their late papers is a curiosity. It contains a strong, pleading appeal to the Northern volunteer soldiers to unite and demand that their officers immediately lead them back to their own States. The sanguine rebels evidently thought that it would create a wonderful effect upon the Union...

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XV. MAGNOLIA HILLS

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pp. 136-140

Sunday morning I went forward and passed over much of the hard-fought battle field of Friday. The battle field presented a scene both grand and terrible. The dead had nearly all been buried and all of the wounded taken to the field hospitals. Enough remained, however, to plainly show how fierce the struggle...

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XVI. BATTLE OF CHAMPION HILLS

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pp. 140-143

At an early hour on Saturday morning, May 16, 1863, our entire army was aroused, a hasty breakfast consisting of some coffee and hard tack eaten, and every thing put in readiness for the coming contest. The thick woods in our front covered the Confederate army lying there and waiting for us. The...

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XVII. BATTLE OF BLACK RIVER

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pp. 143-152

The conditions for a stubborn defense were ample. The rebel position was a strong one. At this point Black River is a stream of considerable size. The wagon road to Vicksburg, as well as the railroad, here crosses the river. On the west side of Black River are some high bluffs. We were approaching from the...

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XVIII. VICKSBURG

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pp. 152-161

The ground here is broken into steep hills and deep ravines. Charging over this hill gave us possession of a ravine near the rebel works. In places the hills are very steep. In the charge, part of our line suddenly came to a place where there was a perpendicular fall of nearly twenty feet. They were going so...

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XIX. THE SIEGE OF VICKSBURG

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pp. 162-172

May twenty-third, the day following the charge, we remained in support of our artillery, which kept up a slow fire on the rebel works. During all of these lively times, since crossing the Mississippi, I had often been reminded that the ague was still staying with me. By the liberal use of quinine, and the exercise of...

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XX. CHARGE UPON VICKSBURG

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pp. 172-181

Standing here as I do today, and remembering that this is not only the anniversary of our National birth, but also that of a later event, how can I forget that three years ago I saw the surrender of Vicksburg. Those of us who were there can never forget the time when we stood upon the immortal hills of...

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XXI. AFTER THE SURRENDER

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pp. 182-185

At noon the next day the command started forward. Doctor Rex came along and ordered me to the hospital. I stayed and the regiment went on its journey. Not caring to stay at the over-crowded hospital at Black River, I took passage with a wagon train going back for supplies, and went to the...

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XXII. AT BRASHEAR CITY

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pp. 185-191

The enemy began to show a very threatening spirit toward our troops at Brashear City, nine miles further west. On September eleventh we started at four o’clock in the morning and marched to that place. Brashear City is a small place of no great importance except as a military post. The river at this place is...

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XXIII. MARCH UP THE TECHE VALLEY

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pp. 192-194

Saturday, October 3, 1863, saw us again on the road. We started at six o’clock in the morning and marched fifteen miles. Our present course is up the Teche River. The next day we marched ten miles. On Monday we started at six o’clock, and marched thirteen miles. Passed through Franklin during the...

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XXIV. TO TEXAS

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pp. 194-204

We soon learned that the reason for our hasty return from the Teche Valley, was to go to Texas by water. The overland route was too long and difficult. Part of our brigade started on November twelfth. On the fourteenth we crossed over to Brashear City and took the cars and went to Algiers. General...

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XXV. FIRST MARCH IN TEXAS

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pp. 205-211

The southern or southwestern end of St. Joseph’s Island, where we landed, consists mainly of rough ridges of sand. While the rough, wild scenery could hardly be called beautiful, still it was quite interesting to us who were not accustomed to see the moving hills of drifting sand. When I looked upon the white...

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XXVI. ADVANCE UPON, AND CAPTURE OF FORT ESPARENZA

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pp. 211-225

On the morning of Friday, November 27, 1863, after a light breakfast, consisting of coffee and hard tack, in heavy marching condition and in complete fighting order, we moved forward. We had some expectations of seeing an armed enemy ere the sun went down. We knew that they were yet upon the...

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XXVII. IN WINTER QUARTERS AT INDIANOLA

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pp. 226-230

The first of December, 1863, found us camped upon the shore near to the captured Fort Esparenza. As we now had possession of Pass Cavallo and the harbor of Matagorda Bay, other troops coming to act with us had a good and easy landing place. The third brigade of our division came December first, and...

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XXVIII. THE YEAR 1863 AS VIEWED BY A SOLDIER—AN ARMY NEWSPAPER—SHORT RATIONS

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pp. 230-237

A year ago, the objects, the aims, the purposes and the intentions of this great struggle could hardly be said to be more than fairly determined. Prior to that time, it seemed as though both sides were slowly feeling their way to determine what great principles were involved in the gigantic war that had...

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XXIX. WITH THE NINETY-NINTH ILLINOIS

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pp. 237-243

Thursday afternoon, January twenty-eighth, we moved into our new quarters with Company B of the Ninety-ninth Illinois. They treat us royally. The old Company A boys, four of us, J. D. King, C. A. Bailey, S. Smith and myself were given a nice room by ourselves. The non-veterans of Companies...

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XXX. NATIONAL QUESTIONS—ABOLISHING SLAVERY—HONEST VOTING—THE PRESIDENCY—VIEWS OF A PRIVATE SOLDIER

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pp. 243-256

Among other things with which we occupied our time and amused ourselves was that of writing, schoolboy like, upon different subjects. After being read for our entertainment, such writing was, of course, usually thrown away. One of these essays having, however, by many curious incidents, escaped...

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XXXI. WE LEAVE TEXAS AND RETURN TO LOUISIANA

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pp. 256-263

By the middle of May there began to be considerable talk of Matagorda Island being evacuated. We were loath to believe this. With the fortifications in the shape they are a small force could successfully hold this place and thus command the entrance to the only available harbor upon this part of the Texas...

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XXXII. FROM NEW ORLEANS TO NEW YORK AND THENCE TO ILLINOIS

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pp. 263-266

Saturday, September seventeenth, we were surprised by the sudden and unexpected orders to start at once for the North. A special train at once took us to Algiers. We immediately crossed the river to New Orleans. The reason for this sudden haste was this: a large number of Confederate prisoners were...

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XXXIII. THE END OF MY SOLDIER LIFE—HOME AGAIN

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pp. 266-269

On Wednesday, October fifth, some of us attended a great mass meeting of those who favor the re-election of Lincoln. I saw Governor Yates, Judge Trumbull, Senator Doolittle, Generals Logan, Palmer and Oglesby, Deacon Bross, Colonel Ingersoll and other speakers. Met Lieutenant Fyffe of Company...

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Appendix A: The Normal Picket

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pp. 271-276

It is rather amazing that no mention of this publication is made by Marshall in his narrative, especially when one considers the depth he goes into describing the amusements of the Normal Regiment over the winter in Arcadia and the information he gives about the newspaper produced at Indianola...

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Appendix B: A Soldier’s Letter

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pp. 277-

Soldier’s letters from the Trans-Mississippi theater are not common. Those that use a “Patriotic Cover,” that is, an envelope with flags, portraits, slogans, etc., are still less common. Finally, those that have a regimental and/or company notation are quite rare. The example shown above is one of these rarities, from...

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Appendix C: The Thirty-third in Print

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pp. 279-282

In February 1862, the St. Louis Missouri Democrat published two letters from an anonymous correspondent from the Thirty-third Illinois from Ironton. They are transcribed below...

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Appendix D: Problems with Cotton

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pp. 283-289

When General Curtis’s army, including the Thirty-third Illinois, arrived at Helena, they were, unbeknownst to themselves, embarking into new territory, both physically and politically. They were the first Union troops in Helena on July 12, 1862, and also some of the first to encounter significant quantities...

Notes

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pp. 291-321

Bibliography

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pp. 323-328

Index

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pp. 329-340

About the Author, Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781610750455
E-ISBN-10: 1610750454
Print-ISBN-13: 9781557289179
Print-ISBN-10: 1557289174

Page Count: 400
Illustrations: 40 photographs and images
Publication Year: 2009

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Subject Headings

  • Marshall, Albert O., 1840-1914.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives.
  • United States. Army. Illinois Infantry Regiment, 33rd (1861-1865).
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Regimental histories.
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