P-071: Bigelow, Ed Letter | UMSL

Common Searches

P-071: Bigelow, Ed Letter

SCOPE: Letter from Ed Bigelow to his brother from Louisiana during the Civil War. Letter discusses many points of interest including the Siege of Vicksburg, the Steamer Sultana, the exploding of the Steamer City of Madison, and the movement of troops.

EXTENT: One Letter, two sheets with script front and back. Folded to create eight pages. Dated August 2nd 1863, Carrolton, Louisiana



Carrolton La. Aug 2nd 1863

Dear Brother

            Your last came in hand last night and I was well pleased (am) far down in Dixie in the vicinity of New Orleans in fact I might say in its suburbs as it is nothing but buildings all the way into the city. Cars run to & from the city about every half hour so anyone can go that wishes to but with very little trouble. We left Vicksburg on the night of the 25th on the steamer Sultana and arrive here about daylight yesterday morning making the trip in about 30 hours


a distance of about 400 miles pretty good for steamboat traveling. Nothing of unusual interest happened on our way. Port Hudson was the point of most interest to us which we passed about 5PM of the 26th. The rebs had a splendid position to oppose the advance of a force by the river. The river turns about a right angle and the cannons planted on the bluffs commanded the river both up and down for miles. We did not stop and so had no opportunity of going on shore. I did not realize as we passed that but a few weeks ago it was the scene of such awful carnage. We were not molested by guerrillas at any point but it is reported that there are some hovering about near


the mouth of the Red River. I like the appearance of the country first rate at this point. Everything looks fresh and green, in fact it seems as if we had got into a civilized world once more, where we have been for the last three months the country has been so desolated by the army that it really look as if it was a forsaken land. We find a great change in the markets and everything appears very cheap we have been so long subjected to the high army prices extorted by sutlers and other hangers on the army to speculate at the expense of the common soldier. One dollar here will buy about as much as five would at Vicksburg. 

Among the luxuries of


          the season are nice fresh oranges, which are just beginning to get ripe. Lemons are also quite plenty. The country abounds in Orange and lemon trees. Bananas also are quite numerous as well as a good many fruits common to a southern clime. The weather still hot though the night are getting much longer and cooler. I hope the hottest weather will soon be over, for I am getting tired of it. – it seems to take all the vim out of a fellow and the dreads to do anything.

            You will probably ere this reaches you have seen an account of a big explosion at Vicksburg, the blowing up the City of Madison. I with the rest of the company was at work there helping to load the ammunition


when one of the shells bursted which ignited other powder which exploded and caused the boiler to burst and I assure we had to make our escape on a double quick through a perfect shower of bullets shell solid shop splinters and sticks of timber. One man killed in our company & one wounded. 25 or thirty killed in all. They were mostly colored men in the hold stowing away and they were all killed. I don’t want to witness another explosion of the kind.

            So it seems that some of the boys round in the neighborhood have been drawing prizes.


You think most of them will pay their $300 dollars and stay at home. I suppose its all right but I would much rather see them act the more manly part and shoulder the musket and fly to their country’s rescue. It seems to me such means patriotism is not very deep except in some extreme cases where it absolutely necessary for them to stay at home. There are some I might mention I would rather give five dollars myself then not have them go but I presume they will be the very last to go. I am pleased to know that the draft passed off so quietly and without any resistance.


“Copperheadism” will play out after a while I guess. Now that they find old Abe in earnest and going to put the draft through at all hazards.

            So “Old Prince” is sold. He old servant turned out to receive the abuses of horse jockeys after doing so much hard labor. I think he had done enough hard work on the farm to ensure him a good home the rest of his days. I would rather have paid the $30 dollars and paid you for keeping him while he lived than have him sold.

            I do not feel much like writing today so I will close. We will probably not stay here only for a few


day we suppose we are going to Mobile. I understand yesterday that we were to stay only 4 days here. A General review tomorrow which is a pretty good sign we will move soon. Directly hereafter 2d Brigade 4 division 13 A.C. Wishing you all well I am still

            Your Brother

                        Ed Bigelow



ACCESS: This is collection P-071. This collection is available for on-site use only in the Rare Book and Manuscripts Reading Room. Some of the collection may be photocopied, digitally scanned or photographed, depending on condition. Researchers are advised to call ahead concerning changes in hours due to University intersessions and holidays. The St. Louis Mercantile Library is located on levels one and two of the Thomas Jefferson Library building. More information about conducting research with the archival collections of the Library, including current building hours and reading room policies, can be found on our Research page.

Preferred Citation note: The preferred citation for this collection is "From the collections of the Herman T. Pott National Inland Waterways Library at the University of Missouri - St. Louis.”

The full letter and transcript is available digitized below:

Full Bigelow Letter, Black and White - .jpg
Full Bigelow Letter Transcript - .pdf