Saturday, March 19, 2011

Iuka Don'tcha Know?


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In a little known crossroads in the extreme northeastern corner of the state of Mississippi, lies a quiet little town called Iuka. One hundred and forty nine years ago this spot was hardly the tranquil spot it is now. In fact it was here that my great-great-great uncle, George Bedford gave his life for the preservation of the Union.
I've been interested in the American Civil War for well over fifteen years. It all began when my grandmother showed me a pair of letters written by our family ancestors during the war. The first was from Edward Bentley who reportedly enlisted well underage and joined the 14th Iowa Regiment. His letter was very concise, but includes a lot of information concerning his involvement in the ill-fated Red River Campaign. Bentley survived the war and returned to Iowa, becoming my great-great-great grandfather.

The second letter was from Bedford, written to both his sister and family back in Clinton, Iowa. He wrote the letter while on campaign over the course of several weeks, giving us as readers a unique insight into the life with the regiment. He posted the letter in late August 1862. Two weeks later he was killed by a confederate bullet.


I write this because lately I have been finding myself absolutely fascinated by the war in a whole new light. Several new developments have transformed my previously casual interest into a full blown fixation. The first, and perhaps the most important was my formal training as a historian. With the skills and tools learned at university, I have been able to access far more information concerning the war than I had previously been able to before. This is largely thanks to the internet. Chief among the new information is the official state regimental histories. Thanks to Google Books, I was able to access and download the official history of Iowa in the Civil War, amounting to thousands of pages about the state's contribution to the war. These documents are organised by the individual Infantry and Cavalry regiments as well as the artillery batteries raised by the state. Each regiment's history is recorded in detail, including the names of each and every Iowan casualty.

Furthermore, the last time I was on an ACW (American Civil War) kick, I had absolutely nothing to do with wargaming. I was strictly interested in the general history of the war. Since then, wargamming has added a whole dimension to my obsession. Wargaming allows me to intereact with history in ways I couldn't have imagined in university. It compels me to explore the organisational and mechanical elements of the battle and ask questions and seek answers about how these things interacted.

Now, once again I find myself digging out Bedford's detailed letter and reading it with a new frame of mind. I wanted to see how his regiment functioned, how it fought, where it went, and most importantly, how Bedford died.

Using wargaming and research together, I intend to discover the answers to these questions, and I thought I'd use this blog to help keep me motivated. I will still keep working on my other projects, but this one has decisively cut its way into my life and demands my attention. Over the next few weeks I will be delving into the life and death of George Bedford, and I sincerely hope you will enjoy the ride.

Regards,
Mike (Union Sympathizer)

2 comments:

  1. Very interesting my friend. I look forward to your findings ... good luck.

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  2. oh you and your civil wars... Whats that saying you always used to say the north will rise again. =P But I do find this history intresting.

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