Red River Campaign Letter

The following is a letter written by Joseph Minis who was a private (joined 1863, 18yr) in Co. H., of the 11th Wisconsin. He recounts exploits from Bank’s Red River Campaign, which the 11th Wisconsin was not involved in. Minis was first a member of the 33rd Wisconsin which took part in the Red River Campaign.

Joseph Minis, Private, Co. H, 11th Wisconsin

Vicksburg

May 6th 1864
Dear father & mother

I now take my pen in hand to write a few lines to you to let you know that I am and in good health at present and hope since I have wrote before for I have no time we have been on a pretty long trip and have just got back you have probly heard of our trip up red river before this time we have ben gone almost three months and when we started we thought we would be back in thirty days well I will give you the most interesting parts of our journey for I cant think of anyhing else to write I cant remember half of it but I can remember that we have been fighting most ever day we was out the first fight we had was at fort derusey but that was not much of a fight we had ten killed and twenty seven wounded then we got on to boats and went up to Alexandria and stoped three or four days then we started for shareveport up the river we was fired into every day and night by the rebs but they did not hurt many of us we went as far as grandecore then banks got whipped so we stayed thare four or five days then started back we had a great time coming back for our corps had to stay in the rear and cover banks retreat so the rebs would attacked us in the morning and we had to fight them all day then banks would be so far ahead that we would have to march all night to catch up with him he kept us a going so far about three weeks while we got so tired we could not do hardly anything then he put the thirteenth and the nineteenth corps in the rear for a while our cavalry had the hardest time of it for they was fighting all the time both night and day they had to do all the scouting thare was to be done they lost .. they said that the sechs in lousiana were the hardest fighting men that they ever had to deal with you could not feare them by shooting into them they would stand until we came right up to them and when they fell back they swould go very slow just as if they hated to and I gues they did about the hardest fight we had with was on the 19th of May they attached us in the morning about nine oclock and fought us all day the sixteenth corps was in first then we went out about eleven oclock to help them then the thirteenth came out about four oclock in the afternoon they fought mostly all with the artillery the cavalry made two charges on the rebs we had about two hundred killed and 97 wounded the rebs don’t know how manyt they lost we took over three hundred prisoners and when we was going out through the field after we had chase them we went through a piece of wood and the rebels were laying so thick on the groun where out artillery played on them that you could hardly walk through without steping on them that was the last time they attacked us on the other side of the river we from thare to Vicksburg they had moved our camp so we dont know where it is yet we are not going to stay here but two or three days they say we are going to cairo I will write soon.

About Chris

I am a high school history teacher in Colorado and am finishing my masters in history from APU. My book The 11th Wisconsin in the Civil War: A Regimental History was published by McFarland & Co. in 2008.