1863: Artemus (“Artie”) Lee Buzzell to Mary “Ella” Fawcett

These two letters were written by Artemus (“Artie”) Lee Buzzell (1838-1912) of Benton county, Iowa, who enlisted on 7 July 1862 as a wagoner in Co. H, 18th Iowa Infantry. He was missing in action on 18 April 1864 at Poison Spring, Arkansas, on the Camden march. Reduced to ranks at his own request in August 1864. Mustered out July 20, 1865, Little Rock.

Artie was the son of Stephen Dana Buzzell (1797-1871) and Sarah (“Sally”) Dean (1800-1885) of Fremont, Benton county, Iowa.

Artie wrote the letters to his friend, Mary “Ella” Fawcett (1847-1914), of Benton county, Iowa. Ellen was the daughter of Jonathan Fawcett (1806-1884) and Caroline Gibbons (1821-18xx). There is a reference to Ella’s brother, Asa H. Fawcett (1842-1893) in the letter.

TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE

Springfield, Missouri
April 25, 1863

Kind friend Ella,

Once more my clumsy hand has commenced to scribe a few sentences for your perusal. I received your very consoling letter of the 27 in proper time but have been waiting to get some interesting news before I wrote you. But new is “played out” in this part of the moral heritage & we are reduced down to the stem variety of hard crackers & roll call. Day after day we have the same routine of duty to perform & how I wish I could once more follow the plow & eat the products of my own soil with a mother to despair my [   ] meals. But alas, we have another call. Our country calls & we must bear arms till every foe in the front & in the rear is subdued & compelled to plead for mercy & the protection of the “Glorious Union.” I think the rebels will have to go under before next winter if not sooner.

Well, I feel greatly relieved since I found out who those serious thoughts were about & I hope there will be no cause for ant more on my account for I don’t consider [   ] I am of consequence enough for any person to have such thoughts about me — especially since I became a soldier, for I have become so ugly & rough no person could like me that ever did before. Well there, I ought not to have told you I was rough & ugly for just as likely as not you will cease to write to me any more. But I hope not for if I should lose any of my corespondents, I do not know what I would do for I do not get half enough letters now. Yet I suppose I get more than I deserve.

I mean to come up there some time & then I can talk to you without the aid of this old pen & poor ink.

There are three of our boys up in Benton [county] now on furlough & it will come my turn after awhile & then the Copperheads will have to climb or get bruised severely.

Times are very good here. We have just received four months pay & of course we feel mighty big of our Green Backs because we have had to go through many hardships sufferings to earn them. They say we will be paid again the 7th of May. The paymaster remains here until them. After we are paid again, I expect we will leave here for Arkansas again. I hope we will for I am tired of staying here & standing guard every other day.

It has rained ver hard for a day or two. The water pours right through our tents just like a sieve. There is nothing going on here. Everything is quiet except now & then a drunken soldier who makes himself as disagreeable as which is [   ] of doing. Our regiment looks fine. The boys are all in good spirits & are generally healthy. My health is better now than it ever was before & I am good for two rebels, let them come as they please. We are all well clothed & have a plenty to eat — such as it is. But our meat is very poor. We draw light bread ¾ of the time & hard crackers the rest of the time.

Lieut.-Col. [Thomas Z.] Cook is in command of our regiment now. He is a tip top officer. Our colonel is commander of the post here. Our Captain’s name is G. P. Stafford of Fayette county, Iowa. He is an innocent, good-natured old grannie but I don’t think he could hurt ever a rebel as he is naturally cowardly; so much for the Captain of Co. H.

Tell your Pa I would like to be up there to help him raise his barn & you may tell [your brother] Asa that I have given up hearing from him anymore till the war ends. Yet I suppose Delia occupies his leisure moments either in thoughts or presence. Well, as she is teaching, he will not have to go so far o make her a call now. Enough nonsense. Write again. Give my best wishes to your people & the balance of the friends. Yours truly, — Artie


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO

Springfield, Missouri
June 19th [1863]

Kind friend Ella,

Your very welcome letter is received. Although it was long looked for, it was none the less welcome. It is a great pleasure to receive a letter from any of my old friends & associates. I am always glad to hear of their prospering for I have faith to believe that us boys — that is, the most of us — will one day return to our homes & friends to enjoy life as in olden time. Yet how dark the future looks just now. But as the old saying is — it is always darkest just before day — & hope the saying may prove true in this our country’s dark hour! Already the demons have invaded our former Free Soil & how far they will go, God only knows! After all our late glorious victories, I fear the hardest struggle is yet to come. Oh, if those mean Southern Traitors were all in our front, how much quicker we could end this awful war. One copperhead’s worse than three rebels in open arms. But with all of our disadvantages, I believe we will at last come off conquerers. Yet the struggle may not be half overcome yet.

Since I wrote you last, we have moved out of the old fort ¹ & are now encamped on an old Secesh farm surrounded by groves & a beautiful Osage hedge. There is a fine spring of pure water close to camp & on the whole, it is much pleasanter here than it was in that old pen of a fort for we have a great deal more liberty here than we did while in the fort. We go off to pick gooseberries & cherries just when we please. There are a great many nice red cherries here & they are not bad to take after soldiering all winter without any sauce or fruit. We live first rate now, have plenty of milk & mush & light bread & all the fresh meat we are a mind to kill. I wish our boys at Vicksburg could fare as well as we do. I wish we were down there with them but the little 18th is doomed to stay here as long as the war lasts unless Old Price can bring force enough to drive us away. I almost wish sometimes that he would for I am pretty sick of staying here.

On the first day of June, we had an awful storm here during which the lightning struck two of Company A’s tents, severely shocking seven boys. One of them [Gabriel G. Netland] has since died. I do not think any of them will ever be able to do duty anymore. That night the wind blew down all of our tents leaving us exposed to a heavy rain for about an hour when it ceased & we put our tents up again.

Our second Captain [Gideon P. Stafford] departed this life on the 5th of June. He died instantly with a fit of apoplexy. He was beloved by all of his men & friends at home, was a kind & prompt officer of West Union, Fayette county, Iowa. Our company seems to be very unlucky with her commissioned officers. We have not got one that we left Clinton with & have but one at present. I think Jim Kirk[patrick] ² will be one of our lieutenants soon. He is thought the most of of any sergeant in the company & will stand a good chance for promotion if there are any promotions made.

You spoke of a dance at Uncle George’s. Oh how I wish I could have been there. I have not been to a dance since I left home but most all of the other boys go. There is one in town twice a week. I hate to go where the shoulder straps are so I stay at home. I guess they will not go as much now as they used to for almost every officer in this regiment has his wife here. So the Secesh ladies will not get so much attention paid them as they did before the officer’s wives came here. The general amusements here are dancing, horseback riding, and piano forte playing among the citizens & officers; & among the soldiers [it is] ball, marble, & Eucre playing.

I am well & it is a very healthy time here & very fine weather. Give my best respects to [your brother] Asa. My best wishes to your parents & yourself. Write often & oblige. Yours truly, — Artie L. B.


¹ There were several fortifications built in the vicinity of Springfield, Missouri, but it is my understanding that the 18th Iowa garrisoned Fort No. 1 in January 1863 and may have remained in that fort until the spring of 1863.

² James (“Jim”) A. Kirkpatrick (1839-1867), the son of David Kirkpatrick (1803-1874) and Nancy Anderson (1811-1870) of Canton, Benton county, Iowa. Jim enlisted in Co. H, 18th Iowa Infantry in August 1862 and was immediately made 5th Sergeant. He rose in rank to 2nd Sergeant in September 1863 and finally received a commission as 1st Lieutenant on 30 January 1865. He mustered out with the regiment at Little Rock, Arkansas in July 1865 but died less than two years later on 17 May 1867.

 

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