This letter was written by 20 year-old Pvt. Milton S. Wade of Co. F, 31st Iowa Infantry. An Ohio native, Milton was residing in Maquoketa, Jackson county, Iowa, when he enlisted on 16 August 1862. He was mustered into the service on 20 September 1862, and discharge on 8 September 1863 at Black River, Mississippi.
The regiment, commanded by Colonel William Smyth, took transport and moved down the river, on the 1st of November, 1862, and on the 20th arrived at Helena, Ark., and went into camp.
Milton wrote the letter to Owen Weed Nims of Maquoketa who served previously in Co. I, 12th Iowa Regiment until he was taken prisoner at the Battle of Shiloh and discharged not long afterwards.
November 23, 1862
Dear Friend Weed,
I take this opportunity of writing to you. I would have wrote before but we have been on the go for 3 weeks. We stopped at St. Louis on our way down and for 3 days we saw Benton [Barracks]. There [next two or three sentences are pencil smudged and illegible]
…that we came across. We were about 2 weeks coming from St. Louis. We got fast on those sand banks below the Ohio river. The farther we get down river, the smaller the river is. There is lots of troops coming down the river every day. There is gunboats strung all along the river down here. There is five or six gunboats.
It is very warm down here with cold evenings. We are camped in the woods close to the Iowa 59th. Weed, you must write and tell me all the news. Tell me if Ben Whitmore and Philo has gone into the army.
I am well and perfectly satisfied if I could go hunting with you once in awhile. You must excuse my poor writing as I have used my knapsack for a table. I must close. Direct your letters to Helena, Arkansas, in care of Capt. [William] Vosburgh, Co. F, 31st Regiment Iowa Volunteers.
— M. Wade