By Donald C. Elder III

William Henry Harrison Clayton used to be one in every of approximately 75,000 infantrymen from Iowa to affix the Union ranks through the Civil warfare. owning a highschool schooling and more advantageous penmanship, Clayton served as an organization clerk within the nineteenth Infantry, witnessing battles within the trans-Mississippi theater. His diary and his correspondence together with his kinfolk in Van Buren County shape a distinct narrative of the day by day soldier existence in addition to an eyewitness account of severe battles and a prisoner-of-war camp. Clayton participated within the siege of Vicksburg and participated in operations opposed to cellular, yet his writings are distinctive for the descriptions he provides of lesser-known yet pivotal battles of the Civil conflict within the West. scuffling with within the conflict of Prairie Grove, the nineteenth Infantry sustained the top casualties of any federal regiment at the eld. Clayton survived that conflict with simply minor accidents, yet he was once later captured on the conflict of Stirling's Plantation and served a interval of ten months in captivity at Camp Ford, Texas. Clayton's writing finds the advanced sympathies and prejudices everyday between Union squaddies and civilians of that interval within the country's heritage. He observes with nice unhappiness the brutal results of warfare at the South, sympathizing with the plight of refugees and lamenting the destruction of estate. He excoriates draft evaders and Copperheads again domestic, conveying the intra-sectional acrimony wrought by way of civil battle. eventually, his racist perspectives towards blacks show a typical yet ironic angle between Union squaddies whose efforts helped result in the abolition of slavery within the usa.

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Sample text

We will probably not stay here long. I do not know where we will go to. I think you had better direct letters to St. Louis, and they will reach me sooner if we should go east. E. of Springfield. Write often. I remain ever your affectionate brother, W. H. H. Clayton <><><><><><><><><><><><> Camp on James River Mo. November 21st, 1862 Dear Father & Mother, I once more take my pen in hand, to write a few lines to you. When I last wrote to you we were encamped about 16 miles from Springfield, southeast at Ozark.

It was about 3/4 of a mile from our camp. It has four 32 pounders3 mounted and commands the country around for a long distance. There are about 55 "secesh" [secessionist] prisoners there. They are kept at work some on the fort and others digging up stumps & clearing away rubbish around the camp at Rolla. Several have balls fastened to their ankles. We marched to this place yesterday morning. We have plenty of good spring water to drink. The camp is on what was once a cornfield, a piece of ground several hundred yards in width with high hills on the east and west sides.

It is a difficult matter to provide sustenance for the large number of troops now in the s. west [of Missouri], all of it has to be hauled in wagons from Rolla, about 120 miles. If the rebels are driven out now, there will be no use for so many soldiers here. The number in and around Springfield is estimated at 18 or 20,000 & about 10,000 left here last week going west. From what I hear the folk about home are uneasy about us boys. I think there is no occasion for such uneasiness. We all feel perfectly safe here.

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