Memphis TennesseeFrom the 76th Regiment
Camp Near Memphis, June 3, '62.
Mr. Editor:- Your humble correspondent resumes the pen again to inform you of another movement of the Seventy-Sixth, and this time we have pitched our tents, or what is left of them, in the Shelby county Fairgrounds, about a mile west of the conquered city of Memphis. We feel like "hollering," for we have got out of the woods at last. Two months' sojourn in such a wilderness country as lies between Shiloh and Corinth was enough to make us have a strong desire to see a civilized country again. We tarried but about four days at Union Station, for the order came before midnight on the 16th to be ready to march by three o'clock in the morning and though we .... ..... .....( unreadable ) .... .... .... .... .... About the time a good warm breakfast would have been relished well, we passed through Raleigh, the county seat of Shelby county, which is a rather shabby looking town. Our road (which was once a plank road with toll gates) crosses Wolf Creek a mile west of town, over a very long, shabby, plank bridge, which did not look very safe for man or beast; but we crossed it safely.- The weather being very hot and dry the road was very dusty and water being very hard to get, we were much fatigued when we reached our present camp, and we soon sought the cooling shade of the few large oaks within our lines. Our camp is a tolerably pleasant one, though a few more shade trees would make it more agreeable this hot weather. The water is pretty good compared with some we have had. The health of the Regiment is pretty good at the present: much better than it has been since we came to Crump's Landing, on the Tennessee.
After a day or two of rest in camp, I procured a pass to Memphis and took a stroll about the city to see the principal places of interest. The first public building that arrested my attention was the "Overton Hotel," which is a very large and splendid building. It was formerly occupied by the Secesh as a hospital and is occupied now for the same purpose by the Federal army. As I approached, a flag presentation was going on in front of the hotel, the flag being a present from the Union ladies of Memphis to Col. Slack, the Provost Marshal. A Miss Majors presented the flag in a neat speech, which was responded to by Col. Slack in a neat and appropriate speech, when three bands which were on the cars discoursed sweet music to patriotic ears - "The Red, White and Blue." The flag was then placed on the train, which moved off majestically down the main street, the band playing the "Red, White and Blue" and the "Star Spangled Banner" as they proceeded.- That was the old banner that had protected the people of Memphis in other days and is for the protection of all who are loyal to it now. The city is safe from destruction while that flag floats over it, yet some of its misled citizens would have sustained a flag that would have floated in the smoke of its ruins. Passing down Main street the next object of interest is the Court House, a beautiful park very tastefully arranged, in the center of which stands Jackson's monument. On the north side of which is engraved a sentiment of the old hero that was too great a rebuke to the people of Memphis, "The Federal Union, it must and shall be preserved." Some shameless scamp, said to be a Secesh Colonel, named Brant, took a chisel and defaced the word "Federal," and part of the word "Union." Henceforth it will be a monument of shame to the city of Memphis. The trees and shrubbery are oaks, evergreens and magnolias.
Near the lower part of the city, fronting the river, is the Gayoso House, where Jeff. Thompson had his head quarters until our gunboats made their appearance, and now it is the head quarters of Gen. Wallace. It is a very large and substantial looking building, built of brick, but finished in imitation of marble, with very large columns in front; but it is not as large and does not display as much architectural beauty as the Overton Hotel. I visited the navy yard on the north side of the city, but found the building occupied for a railroad depot. It was ceded back to the city by the Government some years ago, but I am informed that the Government intends to re-occupy it for a navy yard. My time was too limited to make a complete survey of the city. Having a cousin on the gunboat Louisville, I procured a yawl and went out to where it was anchored in the middle of the river. Having been in the naval battle before Memphis he was able to give me an interesting description of the contest. The Louisville has thirteen guns, four on each side, three forward and two aft. The guns are manned by from 13 to 18 men, and the whole boat's crew numbers about 180 men. Everything about the boat looked neat and clean, and the strictest discipline seemed to be practiced.
How long we remain here seems a matter of much doubt. Already there are rumors that we are to go back to Bolivar where part of our brigade was left. We don't altogether like the notion, but if it be so we might as well laugh as grumble about it. Lewis Evans arrived here on Sunday, having come for George Scott.- George is getting better, and will probably soon be able to return with him. Our camp is thronged from morning until night with almost every kind of hucksters and peddlers imaginable. The boys have the best opportunity to spend their money that has ever presented itself since we have been in the service. Bread, pies, cakes, milk, butter, eggs and vegetables can be had plenty, but the prices are a caution to pocket books. Bread sells at 10 cts for one lb loaf, butter 25 cts, eggs 15 and 20 cts, milk 10 cts per quart, pies 20 to 25 cts and everything else that is offered in proportion. The boys are not going to be confined to hard crackers, pork and white beans, when all these luxuries are being offered to them every ten minutes, and so the hucksters find plenty of customers even at their high prices. Our regiment is drawing flour now and having it baked, so they have some relief from their hard crackers without drawing on their own pocket books. Flour sold in Memphis at $25 per barrel previous to its occupation by the Federal army, but it is now selling at $6 - quite a fall.
The 76th has battallion drill two hours a day: an hour in the forenoon, commencing at 6 o'clock, and an hour in the afternoon commencing at 5 0'clock - quite enough for this hot weather. It is expected that the regiment will be uniformed in light, sky-blue pants in a few days. Lt. Col. Woods, commanding, is an excellent drill officer, and the 76th is becoming one of the best drilled regiments in the service.
The latest North American we have received is of date June 5th. Cincinnati dailies are received here the third day after publication. Letters are about four or five days in reaching us from Newark.- There are two daily papers published in Memphis, both of Secesh proclivities, of which are carried about camp every morning, but do not meet with a very ready sale. I understand that a daily Union paper, to be called "Reveille," is to be started soon by some Indianians. Gen. Wallace has taken possession of the "Argus" and placed A.D.Richardson of the New York Tribune and Thomas W. Knox of the New York Herald in the editorial chair, leaving the business department, as formerly, with its former editors.
Since writing the above I have visited the city again. Business is rapidly increasing and the deserted store-rooms are being occupied with new tenants from the north. An immense amount of Government stores are piled up on the levees.- Adams & Co. have established an express office in the city and it is doing a very heavy business. A large Union meeting was held in Court Square yesterday, (24th) and excellent speeches were made by two citizens of Memphis; one of whom had been compelled to go to the North, where he remained ten months, to prevent being pressed into the rebel army. A municipal election is to be held in a few days, and the Union men put a ticket in nomination last evening.
Fearing that I may be trespassing on your patience, I will make my bow, and wait for further movements of the 76 before writing again. R.W.BURT
From: Newark True American July 18, 1862 Newark, Ohio
Ohio Historical Society Microfilm Roll #39705
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