“A Punishment on the Nation”
An Iowa Soldier Endures the Civil War
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: The Kent State University Press
Title Page, Copyright
Cast of Historical Characters
Download PDF (59.2 KB)
Download PDF (63.2 KB)
The reading, transcribing, and editing of the letters of Silas W. Haven has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my historical career. As a self-professed historian of the Confederacy during the Civil War, I have found my journey northward to be enlightening, engaging, and rather fun. Yet, I have not taken...
Introduction: Private Silas W. Haven’s Civil War
Download PDF (122.2 KB)
On May 30, 1895, future Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. delivered an address on the significance and importance of Memorial Day before a graduating class at Harvard University. Holmes reflected on the Civil War, noting, “As for us, our days of combat are over. Our swords are rust. Our guns will...
1. Kiss the Children for Me: 1862
Download PDF (259.5 KB)
The collection of letters that encompass 1862 included an early letter that Silas Haven wrote to his parents before his enlistment in the Civil War. The letter described the state of the war for Union forces in 1862. Haven not only explains why the war has emerged but also why the nation must continue to endure...
2. Guarding the Rails: January–June, 1863
Download PDF (304.7 KB)
The letters that cover 1863 included a number of letters to and from Haven’s parents that regularly discussed local and national politics and the fears that those against the war would gain political power. For the first six months of 1863, Haven guarded the Memphis & Charleston Railroad. Although the regiment...
3. Everything Is Quiet in Camp Today: June–August, 1863
Download PDF (247.2 KB)
In the summer of 1863, as Union armies triumphed across the country, Pvt. Haven and his regiment remained in Tennessee, guarding the Memphis & Charleston Railroad. Col. James Gilbert received special orders in June 1863 to guard bridges over Wolf and Grissom Creek at Moscow, Tennessee...
4. The Arkansas Expedition: August–December, 1863
Download PDF (233.9 KB)
In the fall of 1863, the 27th Iowa traveled throughout Arkansas on an expedition to secure portions of the state firmly into Union hands. After Gen. Steele captured Little Rock, Arkansas, in September, the regiment remained in the city on guard duty for a few weeks. The regiment returned to Memphis at the end of...
5. The Meridian and Red River Expeditions: January–May, 1864
Download PDF (255.9 KB)
After returning to Memphis, 1864 emerged as a pivotal year for Pvt. Haven as he saw more military action and awaited the presidential election. However, despite the excitement of both endeavors, Pvt. Haven remained plagued by disease, boredom with picket duty, and a constant longing to return to his family. The Meridian...
6. Copperheads Are as Still as Mice: June–December, 1864
Download PDF (250.5 KB)
Throughout the second half of 1864, Pvt. Haven dealt with a host of health issues, including smallpox and constant diarrhea. As Haven recovered, his regiment participated in Gen. A. J. Smith’s expedition to Tupelo, Mississippi (and its corresponding battle on July 14–15, 1864) and then on to Oxford, Mississippi, in...
7. I Send This in a Rebel Envelope: 1865
Download PDF (287.5 KB)
For Pvt. Haven, during 1865, the final year of the war, he once again found himself recovering from illness. As the year progressed, he spent time in Mississippi, visited New Orleans, and traveled throughout Alabama, using his downtime to write several letters as the major military operations of the Civil War drew...
Epilogue: After the Guns Fell Silent
Download PDF (78.3 KB)
After his service to the United States concluded, Pvt. Silas W. Haven returned to Rockford on August 11, 1865. He arrived by train from Waverly, Iowa, in the early morning hours. Haven picked up where he left off before the war, worked as a carpenter, and became a prosperous furniture dealer. The town of...
Download PDF (265.7 KB)
Download PDF (113.4 KB)
Download PDF (262.6 KB)
Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2012
Series Title: Civil War in the North
Series Editor Byline: Gordon, Lesley J.