Description

    [Siege of Vicksburg]. Union Lieutenant Osborn Barnard Archive comprised of over thirty letters, both to and from Barnard, spanning the years 1853 through 1865. Lt. Barnard (1822-1901) enlisted in the Union Army on August 20, 1862, and was mustered into Co. "I," 94th Illinois Infantry, as a first lieutenant. One month after his enlistment, Barnard and his regiment found themselves in Missouri, a hotbed for guerilla activity, "Sept 12th 1861 . . . we will not be Idle long as there is to much to do But there is no alarm here now yet some gurrillas are seen & taken occasionly." The activities of the partisans were well- known throughout the country as illustrated by a letter, dated May 6, 1863, sent to Barnard by his brother, Francis, who was at home in Illinois: "from the accounts of the papers there seems to [be] bands of guerrillas through Mo that make their raids quite successful. as they have broke up the mail between Rolla and Springfield I should not be disappointed if there would have to be quite a large force kept in Mo to keep them desperadoes in check."

    After nearly a year of duty in Missouri, Barnard and the 94th headed south along the Mississippi River to the city of Vicksburg, then under siege by Gen. Grant. By June 15, 1863, the 94th was "in a hollow" three miles south of the besieged city, and one and a half miles "from the Rebel Rifle pits." Barnard wrote again to his wife and gives great detail to the ongoing siege: "June 15th . . . We are . . . directly under the Rebels guns Though we have as yet taken no part as we are not fully settled. . . . There are verry few men killed or wounded around the lines now though there are at this time at least 300 cannon of all caliber . . . discharged each hour of the day & thousands of muskits mostly from our side . . . guns on the boats & mortars roar loud as thunder . . . all say they [the citizens of the city] are burrowed in caves & I doubt it not . . . as nothing els could save them from the storm of Iron that continually fall on them."

    In addition to the wonderful details regarding the war, the politics of the day are discussed. In a letter from friend back home, dated March 22, 1863, Barnard is updated on the doings of the so-called copperheads, Peace Democrats who opposed the war: "The copperheads tried to have a great demonstration week before last but it was a grand fizzle. . . . The boys at their meeting at night groaned and hissed them out . . . The copperheads of our Town are making every exertion to carry the Election this Spring. They had a convention yesterday to nominate officers. That notorious Secesh Al. Benjamin presided. . . . I would like to see these infernal copperheads cleaned off from the face of the earth . . . They ought to [be] banished to Africa and be compelled to live under some petty king." This collection of letters is definitely worthy of further research.


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    April, 2015
    9th Thursday
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