The Civil War: Soldier Calls Own Troops Dirtiest Brutes

Great-grandfather writes of life in Union infantry, includin dirt and lice.

| Good Old Days

My mother was Ella Fagen Robinson (1887-1973). In her possession, she had a series of letters written during the Civil War by her grandfather, Abraham Bennett, during his service with the Second Iowa Infantry, Fourth Division, 15th Army Corp of the Union Army.

October 1864: "John W. Moore and I bunk together. We have a good bed of straw, plenty to eat, plenty of river water to drink. I was put on top of the stagecoach at 8 p.m., where I stayed until daylight. We have two days rations. I haven't been examined; we passed between two doctors and held up our hands; that was all. I must tell you what I got – an overcoat; beau pants; two shirts; two drawers; two pair of socks; one fine hat with the eagle-bugle and a fine feather on it; a splendid blanket; and a good oil cloth to keep warm and dry.” 

"I am at Nashville now in the biggest house I ever saw – five stories from the ground. I am sitting on my knapsack, writing on my knee." 

Later: "The big house I was in ... in Nashville fell down (two nights after we stayed there). It killed 300 men. You see, I was lucky." 

January 8, 1865 – from Savannah, Georgia: "1 have got some good hope of going home in the spring. We got the news today that Georgia has called her state militia home." 

January 31, 1865 – from the field in Georgia: "We are the dirtiest looking brutes you ever saw after a few days' march ... and lousy is no name for the lice. They pretty nearly eat some of us up some nights." 

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