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    [Vicksburg]. Civil War Diary of J. T. Curtis spanning the months August through December 1862. Curtis opens his diary with a declaration of why he enlisted in the Union army, stating: "On the 8th of Aug 1862 I fully determined that the state of the war, the reverses the Federal side was suffering & the turn or apparent turn of politics in respect to guarding Rebel property made it my imperative duty to actively aid in punishing the traitors. Spent the P.M. of the 8th in Jerseyville [Illinois] & from this till the 15th of Aug I worked...in getting volunteers for the Templar Regt." He was very soon made a hospital steward and transferred to the 97th Illinois Volunteer Infantry.

    In his diary, he recalls the movement of the regiment from Illinois to Louisville, Kentucky, and from there, by boat down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to Memphis, Tennessee. While passing through Versailles, Kentucky, he notes that "...a negro stealer tried to steal two negroes from our regt."

    While floating down the river, he documents the presence of Federal gunboats and fortifications along the river's edge. Near Evansville on November 23, they spy "...3 gun boats & one Ram the Hornet, a regular secesh looking affair as she really is being a captured boat." The following day, they pass "...the Gunboat Monarch & the captured Ram Gen. T. Price a rakish looking affair & looked as though timber was scarce where she was built." On November 25, after leaving Hickman they pass "...Island No 10. Saw the upper battery & the four other works on the main there." The island was the sight of a key Union victory months earlier. On the 26th they pass Fort Pillow where Curtis views "...the batteries along the water's edge and the works on the bluff..." Near Memphis, Tennessee, on November 29 he notes that "...The Guirillas [sic] are very bad in all the country around here."

    After reaching Memphis, Curtis attends to his duties in the hospital, tending the sick and making medicines, and documenting cases of sickness such as measles, diarrhea, rheumatism, fevers, etc.

    On Christmas Day, Curtis, who was accompanying his regiment on an expedition south from Memphis, reached "...the upper end of Millikens Bend 25 miles above Vicksburg...We landed at one o'clock...Early the boys struck out & soon were seen thick volumes of smoke issuing for a cotton gin...Genl [William T.] Sherman ordering the boys fired upon Only one man hurt...Some of our boys are wounded already. The other Divisions have gone down the river." Curtis soon follows and is nearing Vicksburg where they again debark: "We were ordered to prepare for battle & for a march of two days...Yesterday the gunboats shelled out an encampment of rebels the trees show the passage way of many balls...The gun boats were engaged above with a fort, which was surrendered..." On December 28, nearer Vicksburg, he can hear the distant sounds of battle: "We heard firing before 7...at 8 firing was rapid, at times the cannon chimed in loudly & again the rattle of musketry...at 9 ½ the firing ceased & we heard cheering." His regiment is moved up toward the front, when firing is again heard again. The narrative continues in much the same way until it ends abruptly on December 31.

    On pages 74 through 103 is found a complete, hand-written "Regimental Roll of 97th Ills Vol. by Companies." A fascinating account.


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    Auction Dates
    June, 2013
    8th Saturday
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