These letters were written by John Caleb Lockwood (1811-1891) while serving as quartermaster sergeant of the 30th Iowa Infantry during the Civil War. He mustered in on 24 October 1862 and mustered out on 5 June 1865. His parents were John A. Lockwood (1759-1811) and Priscilla Blackiston (1774-1858). He was married in 1835 to Susanna Wilson Mitchell (1816-1864) with whom he had at least nine children. With his second wife, Nancy A. Ryder (1827-1897), he had two more children. Two of his sons also served in the war: Edwin Jaynes of the 11th Iowa, and Alfred Oliver of the Union army [?].
Lockwood moved west to Iowa from Middletown, Delaware in 1842. He had attended public schools in Delaware and pursued a mercantile business. He continued the business in Iowa and in 1854 was elected by Louisa county to be their representative in the Iowa Legislature. After his term ended, he was appointed in 1856 by the Governor at Register of the Des Moines River Improvements. In 1859 he moved back to Louisa County and was appointed Postmaster. He continued his mercantile business where he remained until the break out of the Civil War. He entered the army in the fall of 1862 as quartermaster in the 30th Iowa Infantry where he remained until the close of war.
One of the stipulations for purchasing deeds to lots in his new town, was that no intoxicating liquors were to be sold on his land. He purchased land on the Mississippi River known as Walling’s Landing, and laid out the town of Port Louisa. He also held the esteemed titles of Rep. to Iowa Legislature, and Postmaster. (State Historical Society of Iowa resources, Ancestry websites)
On Board Steamer Minnehaha [at Keokuk, Iowa]
Monday 3 P. M., November 3, 1862
My dear Sue,
We are now just about to start, steam up, and shall very soon be on our way south. We left camp early yesterday morning. The regiment left about 6 but having some business to settle up, I was the last to leave. When I got to the wharf, I found the regiment and all the teams strung along the levee, having refused to go on the boat assigned to us as it had already several hundred horses on it and was otherwise cluttered up. So the Old General ([Samuel R.] Curtis) came down himself and soon got another boat—a very comfortable one—so that we are now very comfortable. The adjutant & I have a good room in the Ladies Cabin alongside the Colonel [Charles H. Abbott] & family who accompany us to Helena. I have my desk in the Ladies Cabin also where I can write as we go down, will will probably take some 3 or 4 days.
The 25th Iowa from Mt. Pleasant arrived here this morning and I went up to see them, meeting many acquaintances. They marched out on the levee and were soon marched back again with orders to go today for Helena too. Will leave here tomorrow. Among the officers of the 25th are Col. [George Augustus] Stone, Professor [John Allison] Smith of the public school, A[lexander] Lee, &c. &c.
An Illinois regiment also arrived today and have just passed down. Suppose we shall have lively times at Helena. Col. [Asbury B.] Porter is on board on his way to join his regiment at Helena. We have plenty of tents and equipments generally. The asst. wagon master told me that it took about 80 wagons to transport our equipments, stores, &c. from camp to the boat. It made a long train.
I called on R. J. Lockwood today. He was surprised to see me in uniform. Was very clever and agreed to forward my watch when it comes. I have been too busy to visit Rev. Eben. I wrote to him to come in but have not heard from him. My health continues good. With much love to you all. I must close as the boat is about starting.
Your affectionate husband, — J. C. Lockwood
Headquarters in Camp
Saturday afternoon, November 7th 1862
My dear Sue,
After a pleasant trip, we arrived at the wharf at Helena about 12 o’clock night before last, remained on board the boat till after breakfast, when we commenced unloading. The Col., Lt. Col., Adjutant, Surgeon, & myself took horses & started in search of a suitable camp ground which we soon found in a grove immediately on the river bank about half mile above the town where we at once sent our tents with men to put them up. I then remained at the boat superintending the removal of our stores & equipments which occupied the balance of the day. Early in the evening I came out to camp and not having my tent arranged for sleeping, I accepted the invitation of our chaplain to sleep with him. And after partaking of his hospitality of some nic nacks brought from home, hearing him read some from his [Christian] Advocate, and having family prayer, we retired and slept soundly., ready to rise at reveille and enter upon the duties of another busy day.
Among the first acquaintances I met on landing was Doc. [Benjamin] McClure [9th Iowa Infantry] and Rev. [Pearl P.] Ingalls who were surprised and glad to see me. I have since met other acquaintances making me feel more at home. Rev. [Andrew J.] Kirkpatrick, chaplain of the 4th Cavalry, called to see us this morning.
We stopped several hours at Memphis, giving us an opportunity of taking a good look at that pleasant city. The Captains took their companies out and marched them through the city and fortifications. I strolled around at pleasure and as I was strolling through the public square [Court Square] (where I picked the enclosed magnolia leaf), one of our company marched in, and it done me good to see them in a ring around the marble bust of General Jackson to which they showed their respects with presenting arms. Upon the marble pillars upon which the bust of the general stands are cut the words, “The Federal Union—it must be preserved.” The words “Federal” I noticed were defaced as though it was intended to be obliterated. ¹ I thought I could see from the countenances of the citizens that we were not very welcome visitors.
While standing in the street talking to some of our men who I met, Col. John M[urray] Corse came up and seeing me there and in uniform, he seemed to be completely taken by surprise, remarking, “Is it possible that you are in the army?” He immediately took me around to his boarding house, his wife & son being there also, who soon accompanied us in a walk. John has been there for about 4 months. I also met Bartroff (formerly of Mt. Pleasant) at Memphis.
At Cairo where we stayed for several hours, I had the pleasure of taking the hand of the brave Col. [James Madison] Tuttle [2nd Iowa Infantry]—the hero of Fort Donelson—and heard him relate some of his exploits in that battle.
Mrs. Col. Abbott is still with us. Came out to camp and dined with our mess today, She leaves on the Minnehaha on her return this evening and I send this letter by her. Wish you could be here to see how snugly we are getting fixed up. Expecting to stay here at least six weeks—perhaps longer. There is said to be some twenty thousand troops here now and will be largely increased rapidly. I think our mission is to go down and open the Mississippi river—the very thing I would like to have the honor of taking a part in.
Having a good deal on hand to attend to today, you will please excuse haste. I will write to some of the children soon. Must now try & steal time to drop a few lines to Edwin. Hoping to hear from you very soon. Direct your letters to me at Helena, Arkansas via Cairo, Illinois.
Your affectionate husband, — J. C. Lockwood
Love to all of course.
¹ According to Thomas Hawley, US Surgeon at the General Hospital in LaGrange, Tennessee, who visited Memphis in March 1863, “Jackson’s monument, as tis called, but is only a bust mounted on a square pedestal with some few ornaments. In all about four feet high, yes 7 or 8, the features are good about life size surrounded by an iron fence. The renegade [Gen. Meriwether Jeff Thompson disfigured the word federal in Gen. Jackson’s immortal saying, ‘The federal union it must and shall be preserved.’ Magnolias, cedar, pine and spruce and rose trees are growing finely.” The bust may now be seen in the Shelby County Courthouse lobby in Memphis.
Headquarters 30th Regt. Infantry
1st Brigadem 2nd Division
Army of Eastern Arkansas
November 17, 1862
My dear Wife and Family,
The labors of the day and evening being over, now past 9 o’clock, I take my seat in our comfortable tent at my convenient desk and with my mind traveling up the Mississippi toward home, sweet home, I pen these lines. The Major, my tent mate, has turned in and is comfortably snoring, having had a very busy day and no doubt, his rest is sweet. The fire is blazing cheerfully in our brick fireplace as cosily as it used to do in the old mansion of my youthful days, of which it strikingly reminds me—and our camp is remarkably quiet tonight—scarcely a sound save the hoarse cough of a youth in the chaplain’s tent nearby who the chaplain has taken in tonight to attend to. Poor boy, he would be much better off at home for its doubtful if he ever gets there alive. About the age and temperament of Johnney. I suppose his desire to see the army and some of the world will end in the soldier’s grave. For the first time since leaving home, I felt lonely and somewhat depressed in spirits for awhile on yesterday evening on my return to camp.
Sunday last was a day of great excitement at Helena. On Saturday morning the Col. called me aside and enquired whether i had bread & provisions sufficient for 400 men to leave that afternoon and judging from the issue of 40 rounds of cartridge to each that something was up, I soon discovered that a large force were about to start on some expedition, which I afterward found was to be by river. The detail of 400 from the 30th with their blankets, knapsacks, & haversacks and fully equipped marched out of camp (accompanied by Col. and Lt. Col.) to the boat in waiting at the landing on Saturday evening.
Finding next morning that they had not yet left the wharf, the Major and I came down, and such another army, I never before saw as was there congregated—cavalry, infantry, and artillery—twelve steamers apparently crowded all over and the banks of the river lined for perhaps half mile or more, still embarking, and occasionally a boat dropping out and leaving downstream. I rode up and down the levee amid the exciting scene and noticed the boat (“Decatur”) on which our boys were start down. After going down about two miles, it turned about and came back while I remained. I soon discovered something was wrong. The Captain of the boat had accidentally, in handling a pocket pistol, shot himself through the body and they brought him ashore on a litter. He was still alive and I have not heard from him since. The boat, after some delay, went on.
The fleet contained it was said some ten thousand men. Where they have gone or what to do, but very few are apprised of here. But it is supposed they have gone up White river to destroy some rebel fortifications building there. I think some two or three gunboats accompanied them.
Well, on my return to camp, I of course missed the 400 men (besides officers) of my family, and during my absence one had died in the hospital and I must provide for his burial. Dispatched my sergeant in the ambulance with an order for a coffin. On his return, the soldier was wrapped in his blankets in his coffin in presence of his son (another soldier) and with the fife & drum playing a mournful dirge, he was carried to the soldiers’ cemetery, leaving camp about dark. These scenes, as I before said, cast a gloom over my mind for a time, but the exciting, busy scenes of a camp life soon dispel in a measure such feelings.
Tonight our regiment was called in for more than we could spare, for picket guard of which we sent out [ ] for twenty-four hours. A line of picket guards extends in a circumference of some twelve miles, encircling the entire camps stationed in this vicinity.
After the return of the expedition below, I will write to some of you again. My health continues good, with continuing camp appetite, A col. who was going the rounds of the picket guard tonight called and took supper with me, remarking that he had not had so good a meal since he had been in the service. Goodnight. I must turn in.
Tuesday morning. Weather mild and showery. I feel the need very much of an almanac and can’t find one in Helena. Send me one by mail for 62 & 63 both. Have not received my watch yet. Did you send it?
I received a letter today from Edwin under date of the 12th at Grand Junction, Mississippi, on the road to Holly Springs where they expect to meet the enemy and have a fight, but I am informed that the rebels have evacuated Holly Springs. Ed had not read my letter written from here. When I hear from him, I shall know more about transferring him or of forwarding his things.
Wednesday morning. Weather clearing off. Very pleasant. Health first rate. No news from the expedition below. One told that the Iowa 1st Cavalry have arrived and encamped near the Fort and that the Iowa 19th Infantry is near. Shall be glad to meet the boys of the 19th when they get in. I rode along the lines of the 4th Cavalry as they were waiting for transportation in the levee on Sunday last to find Lue Dean and other acquaintances. Found Capt. Spearman of Mt. Pleasant but did not find Dean.
Major Dewey was out on duty yesterday making the rounds of the outer picket. Returned after night covered with mud. It is an awful route to travel—so rough and hilly. I rode out last Sunday some two or three miles. The road leading along on the top of very high ridges, so sharp that a roadway had to be cut down in some places ten feet deep & just wide enough for one wagon. It would be difficult for the enemy to approach this place in a large body.
With much love to you all. From your affectionate husband, — J. C. Lockwood
Headquarters, 30th Reg. Iowa Infantry
1st Brigade, 2nd Division
Army of East Arkansas
Sunday afternoon, November 23, 1862
My dear wife and family,
Your truly welcome favor of the 13th came to hand last evening bearing the pleaing tidings that “all is well,” but it seems that you had not received any letters from me since my arrival here. Having written some, I hope you have received them all ‘ere this. I noted that Alfred has got all his wood sold and presume at very good price, considering its quality, and as you say he has sold that at the end of the store (which I thought of keeping for winter wood), I suggest that he has a good lot of the remaining scattered wood at Odessa hauled in for use of house and store, it being good and dry, the rough. It will be better than green wood. And perhaps Mr. Cunningham will cut some for us just adjoining the Port, or on the channel piece, and any wood cut up there he must keep in account off and credit on account of Channel [?] Co. Same as Odessa, credit to Odessa Co.
Has Mr. Herron hauled the logs to mill at Odessa? If not, try and have it done and have the maple logs sawed into stuff suitable for furniture manufacture & have Winder or someone to stack it up carefully.
How much money have you now on hand? Let me know and all about what the boys think of doing at business. I hope that Big & Sis with their family are with you by this time, and settled ready for business. Shall hope to hear from them very soon. You say that Arnold was taking the wood from Odessa but said nothing about paying. Hope he will not fail in his agreement, but it may be necessary to give it strict attention and prep the matter if not paid soon, as he has done well with wood and probably received the money for it by this time.
I hear nothing from Weed & Co. yet about our settlement. I am sorry to hear that Mr. Law & Kuhn have come to blows instead of compromising their difficulty. Hope that my dear Libby has returned from her visit to Wapello and that her & Sobera [?] are making good use of their precious time in learning all they can at school. Do my dear children improve this coming winter in improving their minds, and Alfred too may improve himself greatly, if he will apply his mind to study during his leisure time. Do so my dear son while you have the opportunity and the assistance of Big and your Sister during the winter, you may find in after life that it was a time well spent. Don’t know, but it is possible that I may have some active service for you and Johnny to perform by next spring. There is no telling what this war or my wanderings may bring about in our destiny.
Well, the “great expedition” has been made. The fleet has returned—arrived night before last—and our boys got back to camp yesterday morning under the general impression that the expedition was a failure. There not being sufficient water to admit of the fleet going up White river (where they intended going to destroy a fortification, &c.) so after dispatching some foraging parties through the country, gathering in beef, cattle, mules, Negroes, &c., they returned.
Being on my way from camp to town, I met our men coming in and after saluting them, I joked them as I passed the lines about their having taken Vicksburg, opened the Mississippi, &c. Presently here came their squad of contrabands—men & women (quite a little drove)—trudging along with their bundles. It was really amusing—the whole scene.
Today, while resting on my cot in my tent with an appetite for dinner (our old backs only allowing us two meals on Sunday), one of the Captains sent in one of his newly acquired contrabands with a nice dish of prepared codfish & potatoes, and having the waiter take a stool, I had an interesting conversation with him as I enjoyed the lunch. He being quite an intelligent fellow, told me about his escape &c. and how much he likes the Yankees, they being “such nice folk, and dress so fine, &c, &c.” He got to the boats by skiff from the Mississippi side. I asked him whether the darkies through his country knew about the President’s Proclamation. “O yes,” said he. They all expect to be free after the 1st of January. I asked him how they found it out. “Oh,” said he, “the overseers are not allowed to tell us anything, but the ‘Big’ folks talk about it around the table or before the house servants and they tell it to those who they can trust, and so it goes around.” I was told afterward that Joe thinks the Quartermaster a very nice gentleman indeed. The poor fellow seemed willing to go anywhere or do anything in reason for the Yankees.
Again the funeral dirge was played through our camp today. Another fellow soldier received his final discharge last night. Our Pastor gave us a good short sermon this morning and this afternoon we had a Union Meeting at our camp of several regiments—Rev. Ingalls preaching for us in his usual good style. It looks odd that during the religious exercises of camp, so varied is the surrounding scenes. Tonight a very interesting and devoted speaking & prayer meeting is being carried on near our tent while I write.
The weather continues delightfully pleasant though cool enough at night to make a good fire comfirtable. The leaves of the large trees have generally fallen off, but I notice a good deal of greenness yet among the bushes, peach trees, &c. and the canes and bunches of mistletoe continue quite green.
Professor—rather, Commissary Grey is intending to publish and account of the White River trip. I forgot to tell you that our portion of beeves &c. was turned over to the quartermaster, so I am now having fed my 5 steers ready to butcher whenever needed.
Did not Libby & Johnny promise to write to Pap? Would be glad to have a letter from them and Delf & Sarah May. Am always glad to receive the information he writes to me about. Keep me posted. Alf—have not received my watch yet but hope Richard will forward it soon or someone of the numerous boats coming down. Keep me informed about the weather so that we can compare.
With much love to all and kind regards to the folks generally. Your affectionate husband, — J. C. Lockwood
Monday afternoon—just received my watch all right without any cost or charges. Handed to me by an old acquaintance of John Dodge from Council Bluff.
On Board Steamer Dictator
Lying at Napoleon, Arkansas
Headquarters 30th Iowa Infantry Vol.
Sunday evening, January 17th 1863
My dear Family at Home,
In the multiplicity of engagements, I ave deferred the answering of Alfred and Libbie’s letter of the 9th December, received just before leaving Helena. I hope they have not concluded that I do not set enough value upon them for they afforded me much pleasure, and in looking over it again tonight, my affection would wing away up the Mississippi on whose bosom we are once more waiting orders. Lib mentioned that she and Sis were engaged there making Christmas presents for the children—that she wished she could get one to me. I’ll take the will for the deed, Libby. I seldom, if ever, undress and remove my garters (a present last Christmas) but that I think of my pet, the giver. I am so glad to see that you are secure to enjoy yourselves together so well. That was my object in getting you all together and hope that each one will strive to promote each other’s happiness—in every possible way—and that the children will all make good use of the present winter at school. Also be regular in their attendance at Church and Sabbath School. Lit, Coant, Alf, Johnny, Libby, Nellie, Alfie, Sarah and Delf—a pretty good string, helps to fill up the Sabbath School from Lockwoods.
Now for Alfred who seems to have been bothering about the division of the wood at Odessa and Channel [?] All the old wood remaining on hand when I left, either on bank or in the woods, I wished sold on my own account—paying whatever expense attending its hauling or sale out of the proceeds, and keep an account of each separately. I think you will notice by reference to the Ledger that I have credited Odessa Co. with all the wood I had chopped. The Channel Co. I could not give full credit till you had got all hauled, you will however find memorandums in pencil that may be useful to you on those accounts.
Now for all that you and Bog shall get cut, I suppose you will have to be governed by the price going this winter, though I think that 25 C for the Odessa and 30 for the Channel wood is enough under the circumstances. You have done right in getting it hauled up to the poet, and as you have had a good deal of trouble with the wood, and its “all in the family.” If you prefer to take it in the rank at a specified price, you may do so, and allow your Mother whatever you and her can agree upon. I think she will be careful that you and Big so not cheat her. I therefore leave the matter among you.
About the logs cut by Perryman, you will find by his account on Ledger that we guessed them off, and closed his account and I think I credited them so to Odessa Co. You must examine the ledger more where you will find memorandums in pencil explaining such as I thought would not be clear. I intended to have sawed out of those Perryman logs—enough to fill the warehouse, for which the logs would have to be sawed the proper length. <r. Low would give the number needed of each length and he knows how I wanted the foundation of the warehouse fixed, which I would like carried out and finished—whether it will pay to get any more lumber sawed or not is a question, you must judge of that. If you do have anymore sawed, let it be such as will do for flooring for the warehouse, if possible, pile so that it will dry without warping. The fence posts belong to the Co. You done right in letting Brown go into the Kitchun as I hope they will take care of the property then. If he fixes the bottom of the fever he can have a good garden in the Spring if he remains.
I suppose you have your hogs killed and packed. Am pleased at your good luck in finding them. You will notice Brown account was unsettled. You will have to task his account partly for a few days work done, &c. Be careful he does not get in your debt—or any other of your workmen. They will do it quick by misrepresenting the quantity chopped &c. and fair promises.
Enclosed find a plot of the battleground, fort &c. of Arkansas Post furnished by one of our officers who went through the battle this day a week ago. It will give you some idea of our position. I went through the fort and saw the powerful effect of the balls from gunboats—knocking about 2 feet from the muzzles of two of their 3 big guns—10 feet long, 2½ feet diameter, 10-inch bore 3 inches thick. The casements around these guns were wood-splintered and awfully disturbed though built of 3 thicknesses of about 2 feet size logs, firmly fastened, and covered with railroad iron, which the balls from the boats sent flying high in air.
Before we left, men were set to work leveling the walls and the hundreds of comfortable quarters were fired. We have been having quite a little winter for several days. Several inches of snow and weather quite cold. More moderate today and raining tonight.
We expect to go with the fleet down to Milliken’s Bend and go into camp there soon as the troops certainly need recruiting from their long confinement to the boats. General Grant has been here and I’m told that our transports are to return for his army after taking us down. So there is yet another prospect of Ed & I meeting near Vicksburg. Another mail today & no letter for the Quartermaster—delayed in the route probably. Write to me often, my dear family, if its only a few lines and send paper occasionally.
With much love for you all, I bid you goodnight. Take a [ ] and go to bed.
Devotedly yours, — J. C. Lockwood
Camp near Vicksburg, Mississippi
January 30th 1863
My dear Mother,
Thinking you would be anxious to hear from me again, I thought I would write this afternoon. We arrived here about a week ago. We are now about five miles from Vicksburg on the opposite side of the river in Louisiana. I am now staying with Pap. He has had an attack of the piles but is getting better now and will soon be able for duty again. Prof. Gray came up to our camp about 6 miles above here yesterday & told me Papa was unwell so I came down to stay with him a day or two. He is getting along very well now. I still have very good health and the other Port [Louisa] boys are well.
I believe I wrote you last from Memphis. We was there about a week and was paid two months pay there. We came down the river on the Maria Denning with three other regiments so we was pretty badly crowded. Our company had to go on deck among the mules. We had to sleep in a pile of stone coal but we got along first rate. We was on the boat just one week. We got very tired of the old thing, but we moved off at last and have got a very nice camp now.
I came down and hunted up Pap the next day after we got here. He was glad to see me and you better believe I was glad to see him. We have been having very disagreeable weather for the last week but it has cleared up now and I hope we will have pretty weather again for awhile.
Pap just received Alf’s and Libby’s letters of the 3rd and 4th inst. We was glad to hear that you all keep well. Libby gave a very nice account of how she spent her Christmas. I believe I told you how I spent my Christmas in Holly Springs over a pot of mush. That was all we had and no salt in it. We had lots of fun over it.
We can’t tell how long we will stay here. It may be some some time but I don’t think we will have much fighting to do at Vicksburg. I think we can siege them out. We are at work now digging a canal so as to get closer to them without getting in the way of their batteries. We can see the city from here very plain but it is six miles off. They have tried several times to reach this point with their heavy guns but they can’t make it out. I will send you a map of the city and our camping ground so you can have a rough idea how the thing stands. Vicksburg is on a high hill is the reason we can see it so far.
I have not made out yet to get a transfer and think it is doubtful whether I can or not. If I can’t, I think I can be detailed to help in the quartermaster department for awhile. But while we are so close together, it won’t make much difference for we can get to see each other once in awhile.
I am in hopes this rebellion will soon be “squashed” and then we will all be at home together.
The boots Pap brought me from home fits first rate. I got them just in good time too for it has been very muddy ever since. Have you ever heard if Asbury Vandervort is alive yet or not? Or has he got home? We can’t get any news of him at all. His discharge papers were sent to him some time ago while we were at Grand Junction.
We had a very nice time while we were at Memphis. I was in the public square and saw Jackson’s Tomb and where the rebs had defaced it, trying to chip out the sentence, “the Federal Union must be preserved.” It can be read yet. Memphis is a very nice place. There are some very fine, costly buildings there. We stopped at Helena but did not see much of the place as we was not permitted to leave the boat. I saw Charley Lash on the levee. Lu Dean was there but I did not get to see him as he was on picket and could not come to the boat.
Well, I believe I have nothing more to write of interest. I will stop until I go back to the 11th. I guess I will tomorrow.
Give my love to all. Kiss all the little ones for me and don’t let them forget their “Old Uncle Ned.” Write soon and often. I remain your affectionate son, — Ed
Saturday evening, January 31st
I came back this afternoon from the 30th Iowa. Pap is nearly well but he was right sick when I first went to see him. I found a letter from Johnny when I got back. I will answer it before long. — E. J. L.