Category Archives: 8th Iowa Infantry

1864: Simeon Oscar Johnson to Helen Elizabeth (Johnson) Bailey

I could not find an image of Simeon but here is Sgt. Thomas H. Morris of Co. H, 8th Iowa Infantry. Thomas died of wounds he received at Jackson, Mississippi in July 1863. (John Wernick Collection)

This letter was written by Simeon Oscar Johnson (1838-1912), the orphaned son of Simeon Johnson (1786-1849) and Rachel Cruzen (1804-1845). He wrote the letter to his younger sister, Helen Elizabeth Johnson (1841-1923) and her husband, Abraham Bailey (1828-1910) of Oskaloosa, Mahaska county, Iowa.

During the Civil War, Simeon volunteered to serve in Co. H, 8th Iowa Infantry. He mustered into the regiment on 12 September 1861 and mustered out three years later on 28 September 1864 at Davenport, Iowa.

The 8th Iowa Infantry left the state for St. Louis in September 1861 and was attached to Department of Missouri until March, 1862. The regiment was assigned to the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, Army of Tennessee for one month and then transferred to the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, until July, 1862. Following the fighting in SE Tennessee and NE Mississippi, the regiment was assigned to the District of Corinth, Dept. of the Tennessee, 1st Brigade, XIII Army Corps. Following the exchange of Shiloh prisoners (most of the regiment was captured at Shiloh), the regiment returned to Davenport for reorganization December 20, 1862-January 4, 1863. They were assigned to the District of St. Louis, Dept. of the Missouri, January-April, 1863. The Iowans returned to the Army of the Tennessee in the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, XV Army Corps, until December, 1863. They transferred to the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, XVI Army Corps, until June, 1864, following which they moved to the District of Memphis, District of West Tennessee, until February, 1865. 


Camp near Big Black River, Mississippi
February 9th 1864

Dear Brother & Sister,

I now take my seat to answer your kind letter of the 11th of January which come to hand some time ago while on the march. I would have answered it sooner but I was at Memphis (when I received it) on our way down here, and we have been fixing things around so as to be as comfortable as possible, and we also had to leave our knapsacks at Memphis with everything in them so that we could not write until we could get some paper and pens to write with.

This is written in good health and I hope when it comes to hand, it will find you all enjoying good health. I don’t know when this regiment will get to go home on their promised furloughs as we have rather moved south than north, but I think that they will get to go home sometime between now and May. But it is my opinion that they will have to stay here until this expedition returns (that started from here as we came) and goes home and returns. I can’t tell much about what the intentions are of the officers in command of this army that left here but I think that they are going to Meridian and from there to Mobile, and it may be some time ere they will return. Therefore it may be some time before our regiment gets their veteran furlough. It may be possible that they will not go home until in August and if they are put off that long, I am inclined to think that those that has not reenlisted will get to go home at the same time and stay there unless they choose to enlist again as veterans.

For my part, I am a going to have a month or two to myself before I try my luck at dodging rebel bullets again. I don’t know but I may enlist again after I am at home long enough to get tired of a civilized life, but I will then take my choice of the branches of the service which will be either heavy or light artillery.

I hear that the President has called out five hundred thousand 500,000 more men and if that is the case, I would like to be out of the service now and at home and I would try to get up a light field battery if I could get any encouragement from the proper authorities to do so.

The weather down here is very warm at present, so much so that I am now sitting in my tent without either fire or coat, boots or any under clothes in me, and I am as comfortable as I want to be. I seen peach blossoms in Vicksburg on the 3rd of this month. You may think it strange but notwithstanding, it is so. It is by this season of the year that you may judge the difference in the summer between here and the North.

I want you to write as soon as get this and give me the news. Direct to Co. H, 8th Iowa Infantry, 3rd Division, 16th Army Corps, via Memphis, Tennessee. Our Division has been transferred to the 16th Army Corps. No more at present but write as soon as you get this and oblige your brother, — S. O. Johnson

1862: David Knowles to General Baker

Rev. David Knowles

This letter was written by Rev. David Knowles (1811-1899) of Columbus City, Iowa, in June 1862. In his letter, David requests the assistance of “Gen. Baker” in securing a discharge for his son serving in Co. C, 8th Iowa Infantry. His son was David A. Knowles (1843-1863) enlisted on 10 August 1861. He died at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis on 6 August 1863.

I believe the General Baker that David addressed his letter to was Nathaniel Bradley Baker who Governor Kirkwood appointed as adjutant-general of Iowa to coordinate Iowa’s response to the Civil War.

[Note: This letter is from the private collection of Jim Petersen and is published on Spared & Shared by express consent.]


Columbus City, Iowa
June 10, 1862

To Gen. Baker
Respected Sir,

According to your advice to me on Monday last on the steamer Admiral Hine, I send you these lines to ask for the requisite instruction in regard to my son’s discharge.

His name is David A. Knowles and is a private in Capt. Bell’s Company (Washington Rifles) 8th Regt. Iowa Colunteers. When his regiment was leaving Sedalia for “Dixie,” he was sick with pneumonia. Bro. Rankin sent me word to try and get him home if possible. I did do. He is better but not fit for camp duty. He has pain in his side so that he can not be on his back nor chop a stick of wood without much pain. Having been away from his regiment at 2 months, during which time he has sent a Doctor’s Certificate to Headquarters twice, if you can help us in the premises, you will confer a lasting obligation upon yours respectfully. — David Knowles