This is a personal account of Captain William Harrison Huls' Civil War service hand written in April of 1917 as part of his request for a pension for his war service. The reader is advised to keep several facts in mind to maintain historical perspective.
First, the matter of the request for the Medal of Honor. At the time, this was the only medal issued by the United States Government. (The Order of the Purple Heart had been discontinued and had not been reinstated.) As it was the only medal issued by the military it had been issued rather liberally by the services during the Civil War.
Second, please keep in mind that this was written by W.H. Huls 53 years after the events described occurred.
Third, bear in mind that a pension of $10 a month would keep a man in bread, butter and steak in 1917.
Fourth, in reading this account please understand W.H. Huls had a good education for his day, he had even been a school teacher before the war, but his opportunities were limited by the times. This is especially important as I have copied his words exactly as he put them down in pencil on a yellow sheet of tablet paper 96 years ago.
Third Army Service for Medal of Honor
Showing the risk of my life in being So willing to do my duty for my country and in obeying my superior officers.
On the third day of March 1864 I was detailed as officer of the guard to take rebel prisoners from Vicksburg, Miss to New Orleans. When the set time came for the steamboat to leave the wharf I went to the place but the steam boat had Left the wharf a moved two miles down the river on the other side loading on wood for steaming purposes. I took thought for a moment and believed I could cross the river on floating ice and reach the boat before it would push out. So I started on a run and was very successful until I almost reached the other shore when I found the ice was parted and I could not land. I waited a few moments and to my great surprise I saw a large cake of ice coming down filling up my much needed space. The very moment the space was closed, I rushed to the shore when may people at Vicksburg on the hill waived their hats and hankerchiefs (today nearly 53 yeas ago,) I at once went to a colored man who was hauling wood to the bank of the river I said to him what will you charge to take me horseback to that boat? (now about one mile and a half down the river) he said 50 Cents. I paid him the money got on his large mule behind his back and trotted lively and soon reached the boat thirty minutes before it pushed out. After that I had a very Successful voyage down and back to Vicksburg.
William H. Huls