William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan
Finding aid for
James A. Sprowl Journal, 1862
James S. Schoff Civil War CollectionFinding aid created by
Rob S. Cox, January 1995
James A. Sprowl journal
Sprowl, James A. (James Alexander), 1840-1916
James Alexander Sprowl, a young man from Gibson County, Ind., enlisted in the Union army on October 21st, 1861, and was assigned to Company B of the 58th Indiana Infantry. His journal contains brief daily entries from March 26th through September 14th, 1862. Sprowl's descriptions are spare, but while lacking detail, they do give an impression of the rough edges of life in the service.
The material is in English.
William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu
Access and Use
Donated, 1994. M-3100.
The collection is open to research.
Copyright status is unknown.
The Sprowl Civil War journal was generously donated to the Clements Library in December, 1994, by Sprowl's descendent and namesake, Mr. James A. Sprowl.
James A. Sprowl Journal, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
Sprowl, James Alexander, 1840-1916
Rank : Corporal
Regiment : 58th Indiana Infantry Regiment. Co. B (1861-1865)
Service : 1861 October 21-1863 March 9
James Alexander Sprowl, a young man from Gibson County, Ind., enlisted in the Union army on October 21st, 1861, and was assigned to Company B of the 58th Indiana Infantry. For a little over a month, the regiment trained at Camp Gibson, near Princeton, before being ordered to duty near Bardstown, Ky., early in December. The comparative calm of these months was shattered in March, 1862, when the Regiment was ordered to march to Nashville and were detoured to participate in the final day of the Battle of Shiloh. In his first taste of warfare, Sprowl was exposed to the sight of Confederate burial details working as rapidly as they could to deal with the "hundreds of acres of land covered with dead soldiers and horses."
After several days regrouping near Shiloh (near enough at one point that the stench forced them to move), Sprowl's regiment left in pursuit of Braxton Bragg's forces to Cornith, Miss., on April 29th. For four weeks, Sprowl and his regiment were stationed in the lines around the city and were frequently called into the trenches or assigned to picket duty or as skirmishers. On May 30th, they finally succeeded in forcing the Confederates out. As Sprowl reported "they did not like the fare" that the Union army served.
Following Bragg's army to Tuscumbia, Ala., and then turning up into Tennessee, the 58th Regiment appears to have had a somewhat easier time of it in the early summer. They enjoyed themselves fishing and foraging were able to take time to wash their clothing and relax, with only a few guerrillas presenting any real danger. During this period, the regiment was used to guard "mechanics" reconstructing bridges and repairing rail lines, and they saw duty in several towns, including McMinnville and Nashville during rear guard actions against Bragg's offensive in Tennessee and Kentucky.
From October through December, 1862, the 58th Indiana were involved in several engagements during the pursuit Bragg, including LaVergne and Stone's River (Murfreesboro). Shortly after the latter battle, Sprowl became critically ill and was issued a surgeon's certificate of disability on March 9th, 1863. After his recovery, he reenlisted in Co. H of the 143rd Indiana Infantry, with whom he served from January 23rd, 1865 until his final discharge on October 17th, 1865.
Collection Scope and Content Note
The Sprowl journal is pocket-sized and contains brief daily entries from March 26th through September 14th, 1862. Sprowl's descriptions are spare, but while lacking detail, they do give an impression of the rough edges of life in the service. The best sections in the journal are those that deal with the tense month spent in the siege of Corinth, and the much easier days of foraging through eastern and central Tennessee.
- United States. Army. Indiana Infantry Regiment, 58th (1861-1865)
- United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
- Corinth, Battle of, Corinth, Miss., 1862.
- Shiloh, Battle of, Tenn., 1862.
- Tennessee--Description and travel.
Additional Descriptive Data
Burials.Corinth Campaign, 1862.Courts martial and courts of inquiry.Guerrillas--Tennessee.Pillage--Tennessee.Shiloh, Battle of, 1862.