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בס"ד

Jacob C. Cohen, 27th Ohio Infantry

In Camp at Davis' Mill, Miss.,
November 19th, 1862.

DEAR MESSENGER:

Well! Here I am again. I expect that you will vote me a bore; but what care I, as long as you publish this, and thereby let your readers know that J.C.C. still exists, and is, as ever, ready to keep them directly posted as to the movements of our army in this section of Dixie's land. I presume that many of them have concluded that I had "seceded" or committed some equally foolish act, such as succumbing to a secesh bullet, running off with some fair representative of the Confederacy, or worse still, was working for a Brigadier Generalship; but these few paragraphs will soon disabuse their minds.

The smoke of the late battles of Iuka and Corinth, wherein we achieved such signal victories, has cleared away. The dead have been buried. The wounded have been gathered to hospitals. Our late esteemed commanders, Gen'ls Rosecrans and Stanley, have been removed from us to more important commands. Our honored designation we have been deprived of, and the "Army of the Mississippi" has passed into history.—Enshrouded in the "Army of the West Tennessee," we have moved forward from Corinth to this point, occupying on the route, Grand Junction and La Grange, two important towns on the Memphis and Charleston R.R., and our Cavalry division has undisputed possession of Holly Springs, which is situated fifteen miles south-west of this place. So after marching over two hundred miles since I last wrote you, the Ohio Brigade turns up, encamped at this point, one of the most fertile and pleasant in the State. We are seven miles equidistant from Grand Junction and La Grange, and about 80 miles from Grenada, Miss.

La Grange is a town of about six thousand inhabitants, but with the retreat of the rebel army, full one third "skedaddled." It is one of the finest towns for its size in Tennessee. The streets are laid out with regularity, and the buildings demonstrate considerable architectural skill and taste in their erection. There are five churches, one college, a Masonic Hall; Orphan Asylum and several hotels, besides business and private dwelling houses in the village. It is, indeed, with the exception of Memphis, Nashville and Clarksville, one of the most flourishing towns in the State. The inhabitants of the place are also of a different class of people to those whom we have hitherto met in our campaign through either Tennessee or Mississippi. It is quite apparent that they are becoming day by day more reconciled to our occupation of their country. Instead of the sneer and frown with which they were wont to welcome (?) federal uniforms, they can now pass us in the streets with an occasional bow or smile. Their houses are nightly visited by our officers, and an hour or two is very socially, and pleasantly passed away in conversation. The ladies are also inclined to be more affable and courteous, which renders a visit still more agreeable. It is true, that there are a few families here wherein the gentle sex are apt to remind the Federal visitors of their continued sympathies for the rebellion, but still they do not render themselves as obnoxious as the women in the neighborhood of Corinth, Ripley, Jacinto, or Rienzi. At the latter places the snuff chewing, wizen-faced specimens of petticoat government would not be content with an expression of their sentiments, but must continually thrust into our ears all the hopes and wishes they entertained in the destruction of the Union and annihilation of our armies, until it became so unbearable that their sex was their only protection from summary punishment.

In La Grange, however, it is different; the casual chanting by some fair rebeless of the "Bonnie Blue Flag," or "Maryland, my Maryland," or the performance on the piano of "Jeff. Davis' Waltz," "Our Southern Freemen," or "Beauregard's March," during an evening's entertainment, is about all that remind us that we are in the society of women whose fathers, brothers or husbands are enlisted in the Confederate ranks and whose sympathies are with the Southern cause. As a general thing, the men either remain neutral or profess Unionism; most of those residing in La Grange and the vicinity, have taken the oath of allegiance and are allowed certain privileges, (such as dealing with our sutlers, commissaries, &c.), which are more apt to impress them favorable toward us than otherwise.

Grand Junction is entirely depopulated; nothing remains to mark the site of this once fine town but a heap of smoking ruins. The little that the rebels left, was destroyed by the advance of Gen. [E.O.C.] Ord's division, when they occupied the place on the 4th. The country all around it is completely devastated, as on the march down from Bolivar the troops of Ord's column were allowed to pillage without any restraint. Their conduct was disgraceful in the extreme and elicited considerable censure from Gen. Grant, who, to prevent similar outrages in future, has issued an order whereby all future depredations on private property are punishable by an assessment on the Division, Brigade, Regiment or Company, to which the depredation is traced, to the amount of damage done the property. This wholesale plundering, or as it is termed in the army "Jayhawking," has increased to such an alarming extent that it has become necessary to use some decisive and vigorous measures to put it down, and it is to be hoped that this last plan of Gen. Grant will succeed.

The country hereabouts is in a high state of culture. For miles around, immense plantations of cotton and tobacco loom up n every direction; in fact, so thickly are these products cultivated around here that it is difficult to obtain camping grounds, without locating on an immense field of cotton, and you can readily believe that ploughed ground does not make a very pleasant camp, especially in inclement weather. Most of the cotton around here is yet unpicked. Gen. Grant has, however, taken measures for the collection of all contrabands in his department, who are to be organized and placed under command of Chaplain J. Eaton, Jr., of the 27th Ohio, for the purpose of collecting and baling the same.

The weather down here is really fine. It is true many of us have been disappointed in the "sunny" part of the southern climate, but not sufficiently to materially inconvenience us. As a general thing the weather is pleasant and clear; occasionally a strong north-west wind will set in and two or three cold days will ensue. But then "variety is the spice of life," and as it is a poor rule that won't work both ways, I will close, so as to enable you to give your readers something else besides this "milingtary" scrawl.

Au revoir,

J.C.C.

Jacob C. Cohen Letters