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    Description

    Edward Rolfe Set of Four Diaries for the Year 1864. Four small diaries belonging to Private Edward Rolfe, all measuring approximately 3" x 4.75", dating from January 12 to August 31, 1864. Rolfe was an English native who enlisted in the Union Army at the age of 43 in August 1862. He was mustered into Company F of the 27th Iowa Volunteer Regiment and later was promoted to Corporal in February 1865. The 27th Iowa was organized on October 3, 1862. Rolfe survived the war and mustered out in May of 1865. The diaries are clearly written, but with spelling and grammar errors throughout.

    The regiment was stationed at Memphis, Tennessee from mid-November 1863 until the end of January 1864, when it moved to Vicksburg. On February 2, 1864, Rolfe wrote a quick entry in his diary that read, "took a walk around the works that the Rebels made while being besieged got a piece of the tree that US Grant & Pemberton met under at the surrender of Vicksburg...
    " The 27th Iowa then aided in the Meridian raid, and Rolfe wrote on February 14, "we marched into Meridian with colors flying and Bands playing passd the Rebs Barracks rather poor looking but the Rebs left town on a double quick they wounded one of our Cavl we were the first Yankees the people ever saw some of them said we look as if we had never been sick in our lives."

    The unit returned to Vicksburg on March 4 and proceeded to take part in some of the engagements of the Red River expedition in the following two weeks. Rolfe wrote on March 14, "got up this morning at 4 o.c. [h]ardly time to make our coffee some of the boys had to start without we marched along till 11 o.c. & halted our guns shelling the woods at noon we came to the prettiest country that I have ever seen since I have been in the south we passd through 3 towns & about 12 miles of handsome prairie the fight began about 4 o.c. the fight began & the fort [Fort de Russy] surrendered at 7 o.c. to Col Shaws Brigade the 27th this day saw the Elephant. Col Gilbert led the charge & was the first Field officer on the breastworks our flag was the 2nd that was planted on the Fort none of the 27th killd by the Enemys guns about 30 killd & wounded altogether." Two weeks later he wrote on March 28, "...went into a southern house the Destruction that I saw there made me feel bad and thankful that the Horrors of war did not reach my home."

    Rolfe saw action at the Battle of Pleasant Hill, where the 27th Iowa had 88 casualties. He wrote of the battle on April 9, "The camp was aroused at ½ past 3 o.c. stay in camp till 7 o.c. then ordered to the front about noon the artillery began to fire away and at ½ past 3 o.c. the musketry began & for 1 hour or ¾ it was one continual roar Regt was in front a Brigade of texians cavly charged on our front and only 2 went back sound the rest all got dismounted just at dark the Rebs gave way and the fight ceased our boys lay on the field all night at 2 o.c. in the morning ordered to retreat." The following day he wrote, "This morning found us several miles from the Battlefield ¼ of our Company wounded & missing got into camp in good time tired enough had a good nights rest issued one day rations our Capt stayd with us that night he is badly wounded in the elbow & on the hip."

    The next heavy action that Rolfe saw was at the Battle of Tupelo. The day before the battle, on July 13, he wrote in his diary, "we marched in an opposite direction to what we was going the other day so we fool the Rebs for they was fortifying all day to received us but we started to the Raid Road distance 18 miles the cavalry tore up the Rail R and we held the Rebs in check fighting all day in our rear 50 of our men woundd the Niggers playd the Rebs a trick they lay in ambush and destroyd 2 Regts." The next day, Rolfe wrote of the battle, "the morning broke with bright skies and with the light the cannons of 2 armies bleache [sic] forth their deadly misles [sic] the fight commenced at ½ past 6 o.c. and lasted 2 hours and it was one of the sharpest fights of the war skirmishing all day and towards night the Rebs tried to flank us but was repulsed every time..." And on July 15, at the Battle of Old Town Creek, he wrote, "our train began to move Early but we had not got far before the Rebs pitched in and our boys just moed [sic] them down and drove them but they was not satisfied and we went into camp at 3 o.c. soon the Rebs threw a shell into our camp and we just moved out our Brigade went to meet them they charged their Battery some 35 of our Regt wounded the boys killd lost of the rebs CP Tupp wounded."

    Rolfe and his company soon returned to Memphis, and while on the road back, they faced more skirmishes with the Confederates. He wrote on August 14 of an engagement where numerous men in his company were killed or wounded: "Still at Holley Springs and our Brigade doing all the picketing and guard a large fight on the Tallatehie [sic] 50 of our men killd and wounded our men buried 40 of the Rebs there must have been a great number wounded Cap arrived at Holley Springs today takes command of the company tomorrow." Four days later, on August 18, he wrote again while on the road, "this morning marched at 7 on the Road that we went over 2 years ago the fields that was laid waiste have not been toiled and some Houses that stood there there is nothing left but the chimneys campd about 3 miles from Tallatehie [sic] going south towards Oxford just got a tent up wen it raind very hard."

    At the back of his final journal, Rolfe wrote a longer entry in the style of a letter to his wife, Charlotte. Dated August 31, he wrote about his hopes of the war ending soon and his return home. The entry reads, in part: "...Dear this is a hard life to live but it is my Lot and I can put up with it without a murmur one year and if the Lord spares my life I shall be free and as you say I shall have seen enough of the south yes: enough for I do not want to live in such a country Old Iowa is the place for me yet all I hold dear in this world is there & there is where I want to be..."

    These diaries provide a great insight into the day-to-day life and movements of a soldier from a lesser-known regiment towards the end of the war. In addition to his daily entries, Rolfe also included notes and lists of food, etc. in the back of some of the diaries.

    Condition: The diaries are written in a combination of pencil and ink. Some of the pencil entries are mildly smudged. Light toning throughout all pages. Bumping to corners, with light chipping to the page corners and edges. The binding is sound on all diaries.


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    October, 2019
    26th Saturday
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