Lewis T. Hickok journal  1863
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Hickok, Lewis T.

Rank : Corporal

Regiment : 124th Illinois Infantry Regiment. Co. E (1862-1865)

Service : 1862 August 7-1865 August 15

The 124th Illinois Infantry was stationed in southwestern Tennessee in January, 1863, preparing for service in the Vicksburg Campaign. When they boarded the steamer Platte Valley on February 20 for Lake Providence, Berry's Landing, and Milliken's Bend, Corporal Lewis Hickok of Co. E entered into some of the hardest service he would see during the war -- as well as some of the dullest.

From Milliken's Bend, the 124th was assigned to the force that crossed the Mississippi near Grand Gulf with the intention of encircling Vicksburg. At Port Gibson on May 1st, Hickok "had the privilege of firing one volley" as the federal army drove the rebels from their works, and took part in the breathless sweep up the Big Black River to the battles of Jackson and Champion's Hill. As the regiment peeled back toward Vicksburg, they abruptly shifted gears, settling in for a two month tour of the "rat holes" on Shelley's Hill, so close that the pickets could hear the Confederate pickets whisper.

Hickok presents something of an enigma. Though obviously patriotic and morally upstanding, he thought little of taking "French leave" to visit the city, commenting wryly after being ordered to perform picket duty as punishment: "It is as all right seeing we cant help it. Wait till I get to be a general" (1863 August 14). Similarly, during an expedition toward Canton, Miss., he casually and apparently sympathetically noted (October 15) seeing a little girl crying over her pet lamb, but the next day he remarked that he "feasted on the spinal column if a dead lamb."

As the regiment bided their time in occupation duty in Vicksburg during the final four months of the year, Hickok fought off bouts of illness until his health restored with the cooler weather. He remained in the service until the regiment mustered out in August, 1865.