Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

"This Day We Marched Again": A Union Soldier's Account of War in Arkansas and the Trans-Mississippi

Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

"This Day We Marched Again": A Union Soldier's Account of War in Arkansas and the Trans-Mississippi

Article excerpt

"This Day We Marched Again": A Union Soldier's Account of War in Arkansas and the Trans-Mississippi. Edited by Mark K. Christ. (Little Rock: Butler Center Books, 2014. Pp. 157. Maps, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. $19.95, paper.)

Mark Christ, longtime community outreach director at the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, has once again contributed to our understanding of the Civil War in Arkansas and the Trans-Mississippi with his publication of Jacob Haas's diary. Writing in his native German, Haas recorded his experiences with Company A (Sheboygan Tigers), Ninth Wisconsin Infantry as they fought in Kansas, Indian Territory, Arkansas, and Missouri. Immigrants like Haas played an important role during the conflict, and German-American regiments served throughout the Trans-Mississippi region, contributing mightily to the Union victory there.

Haas's diary does not discuss any political motives for joining the Union cause, which is refreshing, for he concentrated his attentions on military exploits and the people and cultures he encountered during the war. We get an understanding of the country and its various societies and cultures, most of which disappeared after the war. Whether Haas recorded Wisconsin soldiers chasing buffalo near Fort Smith, visiting the Osage Catholic mission, watching the Creeks and Seminoles perform a native dance in camp, or witnessing the antics of the extinct Arkansas parakeet, his war experiences come alive.

Vivid descriptions not only of the countryside but also towns like Rolla, Helena, Camden, and Fort Smith place Haas's experiences in a geographic context, further complementing the narrative of military exploits. Haas's regiment was on hand when the seventeen-year-old Confederate spy David O. Dodd was hanged at Little Rock, and it witnessed the deadly effects of the ingestion of poison-laden molasses set out by Confederate women in Arkadelphia. Haas reminds us again and again that war consists of more than just strategy and tactics.

Haas's discussions of the military actions and duties of the Ninth Wisconsin contain a level of detail often lacking in primary sources. Christ's title, "This Day We Marched Again," aptly describes the soldiers' experience. Marching hundreds of miles, from St. Louis to Indian Territory and back again, Haas's regiment saw minor and major action against the Confederate army in Arkansas and southern Missouri. Whether the regiment played a major role in a battle, operated as a supporting force, or fought guerrillas, Haas's diary provides detailed observations. …

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