Lot 15 of 96:
Manuscript memoir of Civil War service  

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Lot closed - Sold For (Includes Buyers Premium):$4,062.50
$2,000 - $3,000

Handwritten memoir by Wesley Hobbs written in diary format shortly after the Civil War, covering in detail his wartime service with the Union Army, and briefly events before and after the conflict

Hobbs, Wesley Calvin

Iowa & Wisconsin




Autograph manuscript, in ink. 154 pp. (numbered 1-161, but with discrepancies in pagination, complete). Written on both sides of leaves of lined paper in a notebook. 20.5x13 cm (8¼x5¼"), disbound.

Exceptional memoir giving a first-hand account of events during the Civil War by an Iowa native born in 1842. After giving a brief history of his forebears, Hobbs outlines his early life, punctuated by ill health, and his acceptance at Burlington University. His academic career was brief, however, for after a little more than a year, "at the breaking out of the Southern Rebellion enlisted in the Army... On the ninth day of July 1861 I joined a company at Camp Warren, Burlington Iowa... we were mustered in to the United States service as Company "K" 6th Regt. Iowa Vol. Inftr. On this company were my brother James H. Hobbs [two years younger than Wesley], my college chum  Arthur B. Wilson and several others from our village (New London)." Though Hobbs' college career was brief, his native intelligence shines through in his writing, as he traces his wartime service through nearly two years of boredom and terror, mud and marching. About 100 pages of the memoir are taken up with his time in the military, with a brief break when he managed to get married before reenlisting. He finally left the army in April of 1863. The final 25 pages are taken up with his life from then until 1868. Hobbs died in 1884, at age 42, having survived the war but not his prevalent ill health. He was elected to the Iowa General Assembly in 1875 and found success as an attorney before his untimely death

The manuscript is titled at the top of the first page: A Sketch of the life of Wesley C. Hobbs, written by himself for his own exclusive use, A.D. 1866.

A few excerpts:

  • Thus we had the honor of raising the first American flag in the capitol of Missouri after the breaking out of the rebellion.  While at this place we received the long expected and much needed clothing.  It consisted of a short jacket, pantaloons of a dark blue cloth with an overcoat of sky blue and underclothing and shoes and stockings.  The manner of putting on these clothes I cannot forbear relating.  The company was ordered into ranks and we were marched down to the Quartermaster's tent.  We were furnished first with the shirts drawers and stockings after which Captain White ordered us to "about face" and marched us to a creek about a quarter of a mile from the Q.M.s   Here every man was required to divest himself of his old clothing and wash himself thoroughly in the creek.  After this ablution we put on our new underclothing and marched back.  We presented a picture ludicrous in the extreme as we marched along clad only in shirts drawers and stockings.  When we were again at the Q.M.'s we received the remainder of our uniforms.  About this time a sad occurrence happened at Jeff. City.  The Gov. of Indiana had furnished the soldiers of that state with uniforms of a gray color.  This uniform was similar to that worn at that time by the Rebels of Missouri.  And it was this similarity that led to the accident which I am to relate.  An Indiana regiment in moving their Camp were obliged to pass through the camp of an Illinois regiment.  Seeing this regiment advancing the Illinoisans supposed them to be Rebels and immediately drew up in line of battle to await the attack which they supposed was intended.  The Indiana Col. supposed that they were thus drawn up to honor them by "presenting arms" and marched steadily ahead.  When they had arrived within gunshot the Illinois regiment fired upon them killing and wounding several.  The Indiana Col. then supposed that the Illinoisans must be rebels in disguise and ordered his regiment to return the fire which resulted in the death and wounding of several of the Illinoisans.  By this time each side began to suspect that there was something wrong and mutually ceased hostilities and soon found out what a sad mistake they had made.  The Major of the Indiana regiment was mortally wounded in the abdomen.  He died three days after and was buried with 
    the honors of war, his funeral being attended by ten thousand soldiers.  This accident caused the Government immediately to take measures to have the whole Army clothed alike.  
  • On the night following the day of this amusing occurrence I was on duty about three o'clock in the morning.  The night was cold and I had built a fire and was standing by it.  Fires were against orders but we were cold and had run the risk of disobeying orders in this particular. While standing at the fire I heard the crack of a rifle but a short distance to the right.  I suddenly remembered that the men who were on this post had been fired upon the night before and I left the firelight and placed myself in a position to see all there could be seen without exposing myself to the firelight.  I heard nothing more however during the night.  Upon inquiry I heard the next morning that the picket on the next fort to my right had been killed by a Bushwhacker while standing by a fire. This was a warning to me ever afterwards, to be very cautious how I stood by a fire on picket guard.
  • On the 6th day of October we received $17.36 pay which paid us up to the 1st day of September.  The next day after this we packed our knapsacks, struck our tents and started on our march westward.  It is unnecessary to trace our march day by day.  Suffice it to say that we found marching with heavy knapsacks on our backs to be very
    hard work and that blistered feet were the order of the day until we became hardened to it.  Three days march brought us to a small town called Tipton.  Here occurred an incident which I will relate.  Our Regiment with several others were encamped on a damp wet piece of ground.  A soldier belonging to some regiment I do not now remember what one, seeing a pile of boards picked up one to take to his tent.  Lt Col. Brown who was Provost Marshall of Tipton seeing this ordered him to lay it down.  The soldier paid no attention to him but proceeded with his burden.  The order was repeated twice with a like result.  Col. Brown then drew a revolver and shot him dead.  I understood afterward that the soldier was a German and did not understand English.  Brown was court-martialed for this and acquitted and justified in this manner of  "enforcing discipline".  I leave this without comment.  
  • Our destination was Vicksburg provided we could get there.  A day or two after we started Col.  Stone appointed me Capt. of the Company, W. F. Conrad 1st Lieutenant and John P. McGrew 2nd Lieutenant.  It is not my intent to give an extended description of our expedition down the river and our attack upon the defenses of Vicksburg for the particulars of that expedition and unsuccessful attack are matters of history, but I shall content myself by speaking of what fell under my own observation and the part taken by our regiment in the battles of the 27th, 28th, & 29th of December [1862].  When we reached the mouth of the Yazoo river the fleet steered its course up that river and landed at "Johnson's landing".  Here the army went on shore and our regiment bivouacked in a cornfield formerly the property of Albert Sidney Johnson [Johnston] a rebel general who had been
    killed at the battle of Shiloh.  The next morning we moved towards the rebel lines.  Various delays caused us not to reach the line until evening.  About dusk we came upon a rebel skirmishing party.  Co. A of our regiment immediately moved forward and attacked them.  There rebels fled after firing a volley or two which [did] no further harm than to ventilate the clothing of some of the men.  At dark we lay down in line of battle and slept till just before daylight when we were roused up made a cup of coffee and marched forward again.  We were placed that day to support a battery and lay down in line of battle all day long.  Very soon shells begin to whistle over us and alight among us.  The rebel sharp shooters gained a position on our left flank and began to send the ... balls among us. Co. B was sent to dislodge them and carried on quite a spirited contest for some time.  One man of Company B was killed and several wounded.  During the day I was sitting under a tree at the head of my company at one time and within a yard of me stood one of the members of Company E.  Col. Stone rode along and spoke to this man and asked him how he liked it.  "Oh pretty well" he replied "I have dodged some bullets and I guess I can dodge more".  He had scarcely spoken when a ball whistled past my face and struck his leg.  The gun had been loaded with a cartridge consisting of a ball and three buck shot.  Two of three buck shot passed through my coat.  I was thankful that it was my coat and not me that was wounded.  


Lot Amendments

Normal wear and some soiling, as may be expected; very good.

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