This is from the journal of James B. Lockney of Co "G" 28th Wisconsin Inf. on an expedition from Little Rock to Mount Elba in January 1865. The Journal can be found in its entirity at http://pws.cablespeed.com/~jshirey/CivilWar/
and the editor is Jim Shirley. He mentions the burial of one Union Soldier and the 12 Confederate soldiers from the battle of Mount Elba- March 30th 1864. Thought you might be interested.
On the March to Mt. Elba January 27th Friday 1865 A busy scene was presented about our Camp for an hour or two, all were so busy securing nails, logs &c. for fire & shingles & boards to make shelter & bunks. Our camp was at the house of an old settler, but the place was deserted & tenantless. Two or three out buildings were soon torn to pieces & divided among many hundred, each getting what he could. The family residence was occupied as officers’ quarters, & so was saved. All had plenty for fire all night, & much was yet left in the morning. Lewis & I slept warm & comfortable all night. He was waked once by the heat of our dry rail fire. We both have colds, & we cough some, & do not find this addition to our army troubles at all desirable. We had pine tops on the ground, & dry oak leaves over this for our bed. For supper & breakfast we boiled two pots of coffee & fried some pork each time. A clear stream of water was nearby & many such are crossed each day. Water is cold & frosty & the snow still lies scattered over the ground. Q.M. Sergt. Hawkes issued from 50 to 100 prs of boots & shoes to our regt. as several had great need of a new supply. Those were issued to him by Capt. Barnes Q.M. at Pine Bluff as an accommodation to our regt. because of past friendship. We started early & found the road much better than we expected for it was hard & firm where the mud was thick & deep last March & April when we were out. The pontoon train went ahead of all this morning except the Cav. that keep in the advance of all. Last night I finished reading the Psalms. I also washed my feet, which stand the march well. I have my portfolio with me & in it more than a quire of paper, Envelopes, Stamps, Gold Pen, Ink bottle &c. all of this makes me no more trouble & costs much less than Pipes & tobacco to others. On the way many hogs in lean order were butchered by the boys & loaded into the wagons. Co. B. has a dog called Calamity that catches the hogs & holds them.
Shooting is forbidden, but shots are sometimes heard along the way. The A.M. was cloudy, in the P.M. the clouds grew thin & scattered & some sunshine brightened the scene. Waste & desolation prevail all the way from Little Rock & many houses inhabited last spring are now tenantless. Some of those went toward Texas, while others went among the Yankees for security. Co. B. was unable to get any bread as the Capt. was in town carousing. He followed us out yesterday several hours late & was unable to walk. Too Bad! We reached Mt. Elba about 3 ½ or 4 P.M. & went into the camp. All well.
Waiting at Mt. Elba January 28th Saturday 1865 Yesterday we passed over the ground on which we met the rebel foe on the 30th of last March. Near the road is the grave of our comrade Thos. Greene. His last long resting place is under a white oak tree, but we did not see any mound nor anything else to mark the place. At a distance on low ground is a space covered with fence rails in a square & under those lie from 12 to 20 rebels who were killed in the fight. All this casts a sadness over the place which was diminished only by the lines of Cav. men that stood along the way as we marched past. Those said they had been in some two or three hours, & had time to have cooked something to eat & were to start across the river in an hour, or as soon as the pontoon bridge was laid. We saw a group of prisoners under guard & we soon heard the advance. Cav. had a little fight with some 50 to 75 rebels & captured 10, killed three & had one of our men killed, the rest of the party escaped. The bridge is made of frames that are made to form the framework of the boats with canvas covering thus forming a strong boat 16 to 20 feet long, 5 or 6 feet wide & 3 to 3½ feet deep. On those rest timbers which bear the floor or roadway. This makes a firm track & is the first of this kind of pontoon that I have seen. The usual activity prevailed in securing a supply of logs for fuel, as no rails were near us. We soon had log heaps to cook our food & to warm us. The evening was cloudy & threatened rain, I thought, & many thought yesterday that a change was taking place in the weather & we feared rain would follow the cold frosty spell of weather we lately had.
Before we lay down the sky cleared off & stars were bright & there was quite a severe frost. Today is bright & breezy. The Cav. crossed last evening & came to a camp held by a small party, all of whom escaped but the officer in command. Foraging parties were sent out early with one wagon for each Regt.,That from our Regt, went out 5 or 6 miles across the river. They got hogs, poultry, &c. finding a great plenty of bacon, sweet potatoes, &c. The impression now is that we will not cross the river or go farther, but are very apt to return to Pine Bluff very soon. Lewis & I slept together & were warm & comfortable all night. Night before last I sold one of the four loaves of bread that I got at Pine Bluff to Alonzo Monroe, as he could not get any. I thought I could better do with three loaves than he could with none. The officers have tents along, so have the battery boys. Many have sore eyes from the smoke & exposure.
Waiting at Mt. Elba January 29th Sunday 1865 In the army a person is liable to many vexations, for one can scarcely be entirely alone, for many relations exist by means of which ill-temper & unreasonableness are often shown & with many fault finding in regard to the share done by others & boasting of what themselves do is common. I think I have always done a full share of some kind of work in every mess of which I was ever a member & yet few are the instances in which someone did not complain. Day before yesterday evening I was so disgusted by what some in our mess said that I hastily declared I would give ½ all I was or would be worth to a substitute rather than be subjected to the abuse of others in the army. Yesterday we chopped old dead trees that stand in the fields after the Southern way of clearing land & we carried pieces from 6 to 10 feet long & as heavy as from 4 to 6 of us could bear a distance of 20 to 30 rods. Today was pleasanter so we did not require so much wood to burn, & we had some fence rails drawn to us in one of the baggage wagons. Since we left Little Rock several of our Co. have had attacks of sickness. Gelzer, Layhee, Chas. Findley, & Cameron have had chills, but they manage to keep along & do some duty. Yesterday C. Findley went on picket, but feeling sick last night he came in & I was sent out in his place.
The night was the pleasantest & calmest since we started. I was out as vidette from 1 ½ to 2 ½ this A.M. & from 6 ½ to 7 ½. I had several hours sleep, but was waked sometimes to cough & raise phlegm & saliva. My cold is broken but is yet disagreeable & troublesome. wish I had some liquoria root or extract as I think it would help me. While I write 4 ½ P.M. the Cav. are crossing to this side on the pontoon bridge. We may start back tomorrow. All wish we would do so for rations were wasted & stolen at first & now are quite scarce. The excitement in camp today was hunting for wild rose briar roots & making tobacco pipes of all sizes & shapes from them. Some prize those highly, & tell their intention to take or send the pipes home &c.
I rejoice that no such trash troubles me. The day was clear & bright. Last evening I exchanged three hard tack for about ½ loaf of soft bread. Tack gets to be scarce, meat is plenty, fresh and salt. Our Co. is better supplied than any other in the Regt. I think this because of the bread we got at Pine Bluff. Coffee, sugar, &c. are scarce. I read to 17 Chap in Proverbs. I was on post at sunrise & we were relieved early. How I long for the Happy Days of Bliss to come when I will not be a soldier.
On the march back January 30th Monday 1865 Last night we sat about our warm bright fire having arranged our blankets & beds of fire weeds dry & dry long grass so as to secure a warm sound sleep. Capt. told me that our Regt’l. Adj.-now A.A.A.
Gen. A.S. Kendrick said to him & others of our officers that Gen. Dana had a force of 40 to 50,000 with which he started from Gains Landing on the West side of the Miss. River making his way as fast as possible to Shreveport, La. This was say-so among officers, & it seems our feint coming here was only to divide the forces of the enemy. I very much doubt the advance of any such force as that stated, & in fact no army at all may be moving in that direction. We slept warm & soundly & were early on the alert & ready to march at daylight. Lieut. Gilbert rode in the ambulance & I think will ride all the way back. Capt. is on picket in advance, so orderly leads the Co.
I heard the total no. of prisoners taken is about 50 while we lost but one man killed. The roads are in fair order but not so good as on our way out. As we passed on the way we saw many buildings burning. Those had been fired by some of the soldiers that were ahead of ours. When we reached camp we heard a report was made to Act. Brig. Gen. Mackey that the buildings were fired by our Regt. This was evidently a mistake. There was a two story frame building about four miles from Mt. Elba of which the first floor was used for a church, & the upper was used by the Free Masons. When we passed no smoke or fire was seen, but we heard this & the frame school house were both burned. All right-minded men will regret the destruction of buildings used for religious or school purposes, for this is directly contrary to our ruling professions. A member of Co. F told us that much of the land between Pine Bluff & Mt. Elba was yet government land. He said the soil would yield good crops if well cultivated, though we think it poor. McKee & Draper are to join the Co. on 8th inst. March 30th, Wednesday, 1864.
Last night I lay with Henry Smart. Cav. brought in 21 Prisoners. This morning I & others with Lt. Tichenor were going on Picket at 7 1/2 delayed till 8 Pickets were driven in by Rebs. We had a fight with 1500 or 2000 from 8 1/2 to 10 1/2 or 11. Cav followed them toward Monticello. We lost 3 killed.
March 30th Wednesday, 1864 Day of Battle, at Mount Elba, Bradley Co, Arkansas Last night I slept with Smart. I waked twice in the night by the cold as we had no wool blankets over us each time. I warmed at a good fire & laid down again. I & Lewis had a long & pleasant talk together about various matters, but chiefly of domestic life & social relative and our won chances, hopes, preferences, & fancies of the partners of our peace & happiness & days of the raptures of bliss yet to be. He told me many of his experiences & of the trickery & treachery & petty jealousies of some of his former associates, who are now members of our Co. but not present & belonging in New Berlin. Also of some of his acquaintance with young women , all of which I believe was true & honorable on his part. His manner is very retired, still & unpretending.
He told me of his disadvantages for study as he had to work at his home with his step father Monroe, as if he were in a strange place, doing chores late in the night & early mornings till after school time. He attended school one winter in Minnesota about the year ’57 where he learned more than in many winters at home. He went to Minn. in 1855 and got 1/4 section. He is older than I & so fortunate as to have the promise of the heart & hand of a Waukesha Co. school mistress in Brookfield. She is a talented & gifted singer & worker, brave, & gay lady. This I say from what I heard & saw of her. I wish I was so favored, so blessed with a cheering prospect in promise, but I can trust to Him who rules the future. The night was clear & starry calm, but a little chill. Lafford cooked some beef & a chicken making soup which we had for breakfast. Lt. Tichenor ate breakfast with our mess. I & Lewis, Moore, McKown, Reamer, & Sergt Foster with Tichenor was detailed on picket. We fell in at 7 1/2 AM but were detained till 8 O’clock by some misunderstanding or mistake. Before the 1/2 hour passed firing was heard along the picket line. Soon this became so rapid that orders were given for all the infantry to fall in line of battle to meet the enemy if he advanced. The force present was all Inf. so about 225 or 250 of 18 Ill. & as many of 28 Wis. V. Inf. total 450 or 500. Soon the firing ceased & the train was moved nearer the river on low ground. Blankets were piled in heaps, as in fight they would be cumbersome. The Lt. Col. of 18 Ill. commanded & Capt. Smith Co I. 28[th Wis.] was second in commanded & acted as cool & collected as on Dress Parade. Soon Co’s G. H. & I on the left of Co. 28 were ordered to go to the extreme left of the position to prevent a surprise to the left flank which would cause the loss of our pontoon bridge & expose our whole force. We went on the double quick & were soon again in line. 15 from the left of G. were ordered forward 20 or 30 rods as skirmishers under command of Sergt. McKee. 13 privates (of which I was one) & corps. Church & Snyder went forward, most of us in the woods along the river but 5 or 6 on the right were in a field among a few old peach trees.
Those few last got some few shots at the foe while the rest of us advanced & retreated many times but failed to see one during the fight. About 9 O’clock or soon after the fight again raged & heavy volleys of musketry were returned from for the scattering fire of the Rebs. Shot was fired from a steel piece & shells from one or two 12 lb brass howitzers. Again there was a lull[??] of a few minutes duration, when the Rebs again advanced yelling as rebels only know how to yell when round after round of shot & shell together with repeated volleys of musketry was hurled against them for a welcome from the Goddess of Liberty. At the time we noticed, & rejoiced they had no artillery. This gave us a strong hope of victory whatever might be their numbers. About 10 1/2 or 11 AM they gave up the fight & beat a hasty retreat toward Monticello being the same way they had come. As soon as the fight began, one or more messengers were sent across the river to Clayton, distant to some 8 or 10 miles. Before the end of the fight, the cavalry began to arrive & cross the bridge leaving their horses on the other side in the woods. As soon as Lt. Col. Jenkins came he assumed command & soon came Col. Clayton & the pursuit of the enemy began. We heard heavy volleys of the Cavalry carbines & some shell was fired. Soon began the flood of captured prisoners to pour across the bridge & continued till 283 had crossed with about 200 horses & mules. Those were taken after crossing their pontoon bridge near Monticello on their way to Camden. About 50 wagons were destroyed by Lt. Greathouse of 1st Ind. & 1st Lt. Young of 5th Kansas. The enemy mistook them for some of their own men that had our uniform. Our loss was three men killed & not one wounded. Thomas Greene of our Co. G was mortally wounded & died about 2 PM & was buried there on the battle ground. O’Brien of Co I was driver in the battery & was killed. Also one of 5 Kansas. The enemy lost 20 to 30 killed & 50 to 75 wounded. The wounded Rebels said their attacking force amounted to 1500 or 2000 men. Day was sunny & pleasant.
This article can be downloaded from the January, 2008 edition of the newsletter located at the top of the page…great Civil War articles written by Civil War buffs in Arkansas.