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Adair County Iowa

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Civil War Letters

These are three letters written by Prentice Cyrus Barrow from Fontanelle, IA age 23. He enlisted 8/9/62 as a Private. 29th Iowa Infantry Company D Mustered Out 8/10/65 New Orleans, LA Born NY
He writes to his sister and brother.

Letter #1:

Little Rock
Jan 18th 1864
Dear Sister,
I have neglected answering your kind letter much longer than I intended. One reason for my so doing has been the severe cold weather of the first two weeks of this month. For a time it cut off all our communication with the world. The boats were ordered off White river about Christmas, or soon after, and sent up the Ark. which had rained enough to allow boats to come up to this place. The weather turned cold on the 31st of Dec. and has remained so until within a week it was so severe as to cause a fall in the river, and the running ice blockaded all the short bends which are not afew in this river, so that our fleet was detained.
A number of the boats have succeeded in getting up here and we hope for a change for the better, but it is not warm weather yet and it may be some time yet before the river will be in a good navigable state.
We have had some real cold northern winter weather. The morning has been down to ten degrees below zero, and the snow and ice did not all disappear from the roofs of buildings from the 31st of Dec. to the 12th of Jan.
The greatest inconvenience we experience from the cold is on account of the difficulty in getting enough wood. We have five six mule teams at work at it all the time but we have to go two miles and the roads are very bad, and the teams afraid. There has been no hay to be had since we have been at Little Rock. On friday the 8th I witnessed the hanging of a rebel spy - David O. Dodd. he was arrested about the 30th Dec. When taken he had plans and statistics showing the number and position of our forces. He was but about eighteen years of age. He met his doom calmly, showing no emotion whatever at the scaffold. Some arrests of suspicious persons supposed to have been connected with Dodd have been made. One of them is a methodist minister, and there has been a report that he will be hung. Isaac Hoch is now at Camp McClellan at Davenport Dover, in the Invalid Camp.
I received a letter from him the last mail. He said he had not heard from Simon for a long time. I think he would be glad to hear from you. Our Thanksgiving dinner was just like all our dinners - bread meal and coffee, But Christmas we got up something a little better. We really had a plum pudding, berries, chicken, fresh pork, "mashed taters" and stewed peaches. Did you beat that? My health continues good, as usual I have never been a patient in the hospital or anywhere else. I have never missed
a tour of duty on account of sickness yet. My name was on the morning sick report three times while on the boat going down the Tallahachie last spring, which is the sum total of my experience with the Surgeons. Many times last Winter and Spring I felt more like going to bed than on duty, but did not give up.
I have been more favored than any other member of the Co. for which I cannot but feel truly Thankful.
I think Frank a good and smart looking boy. You see I don’t believe in spoiling his name with an "ic".

Yours Prentice (End of Letter)

Letter #2:  
Little Rock Jan 18th 64
Dear Brother,
I will put in a few lines to you to answer what I can of your questions about schools in the south, but my knowledge is very limited. Of Miss. I know nothing. I have made some inquiries in this State, and have been told by the citizens that there has never been a public school system in operation, that is fully. There was a grant of land - every sixteenth section - given for schools.
Townships had the right to sell or rent this land, and the process went to form a permanent school fund. Besides this all petty fines went to the school fund. In some places the land had been sold and they were getting something like a start with public schools. But since the rebellion broke out an act was passed by the State Legislature appropriating all the school fund of the State to the support of families of soldiers. I have been told by Missourians that Gov. Claib. Jackson of that state took all the school money of the state and used it to support the rebel army. So you see that in Ark. and Mo. treason and free schools did not flourish together. I cannot find as there was even any tax for school purposes in this city.
Citizens say they have had good schools here, but are all private schools.
There is a large building which was used as a college, but as soon as the war broke out it was turned into a hospital for the army. Outside of the towns of Clarendon and Brownville, I did not see a school house on the road from Helena to Little Rock. This is all I can give at present. Let me know any particular point on which you wish me to make inquiries. Hal Myers - who by the way is my bunk mate - sends respects to you and family. He has just got into bed and says tell you that he is resting on a downy bed of - boards.
Yours Truly, Prentice
(end of letter)

Letter #3:  
Little Rock Feb 4th 1865

My Dear Sister
I am not owing you a letter but think perhaps under the circumstances you might excuse me if I write to you.
I wrote to Simon the 26th of Jan.
Our reg. is expecting to leave these parts in a short time, if not sooner.
We received orders several days since, but did not have much faith in them. We have been subject to so many false alarms that we suspected this might be one. But I guess this is no hoax. Some of the officers of the Dept. are anxious to have our regt. stay, and have been making an effort to that effect but I don’t think they have succeeded.
This morning we received the order to be ready to go in the morning. Our destination is supposed to be New Orleans. Col. Benton thinks we are to go into a Corps Commanded by Gen. Steele. But I think there is nothing certain known about it, only that we are to report to Gen. Canby at N.C.
Five other regiments of our old division are included in the same order.
I told Simon that an expedition had started as it was supposed for Red River.
I did not tell a falsehood for nearly all of our officers supposed that to be the object of the expedition. But it has proved that we were mistaken as we are very apt to be when we try to look behind the curtain before the bell rings, as Soldiers and newspaper correspondents are always trying to do. The said expedition returned today without having apparently accomplished anything, and now we are all at a loss to know what they went out for.
We don’t much like to leave our comfortable quarters, but it will soon be warmer weather and then "Dog tents" will do very well. I want to go now since they have put us to the trouble of getting ready. We have been at Little Rock a long time, and have done a great deal of hard duty here, but I don’t expect we will ever find a place we shall like better as long as we are in the service.
Peace rumors are flying thick today, but they don’t create much excitement among the boys. The weather has been quite spring like for a few days, but is cooler this evening with rain and wind from the N. E.
I presume that I shall have opportunity to write again before many weeks. At any rate write to me as often as you have done and I will try and answer. Direct to the Co. and Reg. and the letters will find me.
Excuse this poor scrawl as it would be impossible for me to write a sensible or respectable letter tonight. Love to the folkeses.

Your affectionate brother (for Three years unless sooner discharged)
P. Cyrus
(end of letter)

Other persons mentioned in the letters are:
Isaac Hoch from Fontanelle, IA; 20 years old. He enlisted on 8/9/1862 as a Private. On 8/30/1862 he mustered into "D" Co. IA 29th Infantry and transferred out on 12/11/1863
Samuel H. Myers (Hal) from Fontanelle IA; 21 years old. He enlisted on 8/15/1862 as a Private. On 9/1/1862 he mustered into "D" Co. IA 29th Infantry and Mustered Out on 6/7/1865 at Davenport, IA
Simon Barrow 49. Prentice lived with him in Adair County, IA. Might be his father.
Prentice’s final resting place is Oakdale Cemetery
Adel, Dallas County, Iowa
Barrows, Prentice C., b. 24 Oct 1838, d. 20 Jan 1912, Civil War


Adair County

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