By Donald C. Elder III
William Henry Harrison Clayton used to be one in every of approximately 75,000 infantrymen from Iowa to affix the Union ranks throughout the Civil struggle. owning a highschool schooling and more advantageous penmanship, Clayton served as an organization clerk within the nineteenth Infantry, witnessing battles within the trans-Mississippi theater. His diary and his correspondence along with his kin in Van Buren County shape a different narrative of the daily soldier existence in addition to an eyewitness account of severe battles and a prisoner-of-war camp. Clayton participated within the siege of Vicksburg and participated in operations opposed to cellular, yet his writings are precise for the descriptions he supplies of lesser-known yet pivotal battles of the Civil conflict within the West. battling within the conflict of Prairie Grove, the nineteenth Infantry sustained the top casualties of any federal regiment at the eld. Clayton survived that conflict with purely minor accidents, yet he was once later captured on the conflict of Stirling's Plantation and served a interval of ten months in captivity at Camp Ford, Texas. Clayton's writing finds the complex sympathies and prejudices primary between Union squaddies and civilians of that interval within the country's heritage. He observes with nice disappointment the brutal results of conflict at the South, sympathizing with the plight of refugees and lamenting the destruction of estate. He excoriates draft evaders and Copperheads again domestic, conveying the intra-sectional acrimony wrought through civil warfare. ultimately, his racist perspectives towards blacks reveal a typical yet ironic angle between Union squaddies whose efforts helped bring about the abolition of slavery within the usa.
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Additional info for A Damned Iowa Greyhound: The Civil War Letters of William Henry Harrison Clayton
If I had not been on guard Friday, I think I could have got home Saturday but now I make no more calculations. I may get off but the chances are slim. The colonel is absent, gone to Davenport. He is to be back on Wednesday & some think that we will leave soon. But no one can tell anything about it. I believe I have written all that is of importance at present so I will close. I remain your affectionate son Wm. H. H. S. I would like for you to write or get the boys to write. They can write well enough for me to read.
Burr Brown acquainted me with the history of the 1864 guerrilla raid into Iowa. Vicki Betts proved very helpful in making me aware of sources on the prison camp in which Clayton was incarcerated. Finally, Steve Cottrell, an excellent author in his own right, shared the fruits of his research on the Civil War campaigns in and around the Ozarks with me. They all deserve special commendations for their efforts. Historians learn quickly to use the services of research institutions, and I am no exception.
Direct your letters to Benton Barracks Mo. & they will follow the regt. There are 4 regts, here the 19th and 20th Iowa, 20th Wisconsin & 94th Illinois, commanding [is] Genl. Herron. 18 Write often I am glad to get letters. The boys are all well. I stopped writing to get some dinner. I thought that I would add a little more. When the brigade is moving from place to place each regiment takes its turn to lead the advance. The other day the 94th Ill. led. They stopped to rest so often that it got those in the rear all out of patience.