What a glorious scene! The sky filled with stars; the rising moon; two mountain walls so high, apparently, that one might step from them into heaven; the rapid river, the thousand white tents dotting the valley, the camp fires, the shadowy forms of soldiers; in short, just enough of heaven and earth visible to put one's fancy on the gallop. The boys are in groups about their fires. The voice of the troubadour is heard. It is a pleasant song that he sings, and I catch part of it.
"The minstrel's returned from the war, With spirits as buoyant as air, And thus on the tuneful guitar He sings in the bower of the fair: The noise of the battle is over; The bugle no more calls to arms; A soldier no more, but a lover, I kneel to the power of thy charms. Sweet lady, dear lady, I'm thine; I bend to the magic of beauty, Though the banner and helmet are mine, Yet love calls the soldier to duty."
24. Our Indiana friends are providing for the winter by laying in a stock of household furniture at very much less than its original cost, and without even consulting the owners. It is probable that our Ohio boys steal occasionally, but they certainly do not prosecute the business openly and courageously.
26. The Thirteenth Indiana, Sixth Ohio, and two pieces of artillery went up the valley at noon, to feel the enemy. It rained during the afternoon, and since nightfall has poured down in torrents. The poor fellows who are now trudging along in the darkness and storm, will think, doubtless, of home and warm beds. It requires a pure article of patriotism, and a large quantity of it, to make one oblivious for months at a time of all the comforts of civil life.
This is the day designated by the President for fasting and prayer. Parson Strong held service in the regiment, and the Rev. Mr. Reed, of Zanesville, Ohio, delivered a very eloquent exhortation. I trust the supplications of the Church and the people may have effect, and bring that Higher Power to our assistance which hitherto has apparently not been with our arms especially.
27. To-night almost the entire valley is inundated. Many tents are waist high in water, and where others stood this morning the water is ten feet deep. Two men of the Sixth Ohio are reported drowned. The water got around them before they became aware of it, and in endeavoring to escape they were swept down the stream and lost. The river seems to stretch from the base of one mountain to the other, and the whole valley is one wild scene of excitement. Wherever a spot of dry ground can be found, huge log fires are burning, and men by the dozen are grouped around them, anxiously watching the water and discussing the situation. Tents have been hastily pitched on the hills, and camp fires, each with its group of men, are blazing in many places along the side of the mountain. The rain has fallen steadily all day.
28. The Thirteenth Indiana and Sixth Ohio returned. The reconnoissance was unsuccessful, the weather being unfavorable.
2. Our camp is almost deserted. The tents of eight regiments dot the valley; but those of two regiments and a half only are occupied. The Hoosiers have all gone to Cheat mountain summit. They propose to steal upon the enemy during the night, take him by surprise, and thrash him thoroughly. I pray they may be successful, for since Rich mountain our army has done nothing worthy of a paragraph. Rosecrans' affair at Carnifex was a barren thing; certainly no battle and no victory, and the operations in this vicinity have at no time risen to the dignity of a skirmish.
Captain McDougal, with nearly one hundred men and three days' provisions, started up the valley this morning, with instructions to go in sight of the enemy, the object being to lead the latter to suppose the advance guard of our army is before him. By this device it is expected to keep the enemy in our front from going to the assistance of the rebels now threatening Kimball.
3. To-night, half an hour ago, received a dispatch from the top of Cheat, which reads as follows:
"All back. Made a very interesting reconnoissance. Killed a large number of the enemy. Very small loss on our side. J. J. REYNOLDS, Brigadier-General."
Why, when the battle was progressing so advantageously for our side, did they not go on? This, then, is the result of the grand demonstration on the other side of the mountain.
McDougal's company returned, and report the enemy fallen back.
The frost has touched the foliage, and the mountain peaks look like mammoth bouquets; green, red, yellow, and every modification of these colors appear mingled in every possible fanciful and tasteful way.
Another dispatch has just come from the top of Cheat, written, I doubt not, after the Indianians had returned to camp and drawn their whisky ration. It sounds bigger than the first. I copy it:
"Found the rebels drawn up in line of battle one mile outside of their fortifications, drove them back to their intrenchments, and continued the fight four hours. Ten of our men wounded and ten killed. Two or three hundred of the enemy killed."
If it be true that so many of the rebels were killed, it is probable that two thousand at least were wounded; and when three hundred are killed and two thousand wounded, out of an army of twelve or fifteen hundred men, the business is done up very thoroughly. The dispatch which went to Richmond to-night, I have no doubt, stated that "the Federals attacked in great force, outnumbering us two or three to one, and after a terrific engagement, lasting five hours, they were repulsed at all points with great slaughter. Our loss one killed and five wounded. Federal loss, five hundred killed and twenty-five hundred wounded." Thus are victories won and histories made. Verily the pen is mightier than the sword.
4. The Indianians have been returning from the summit all day, straggling along in squads of from three to a full company.
The men are tired, and the camp is quiet as a house. Six thousand are sleeping away a small portion of their three weary years of military service. This time stretches out before them, a broad, unknown, and extra-hazardous sea, with promise of some smooth sailing, but many days and nights of heavy winds and waves, in which some—how many!—will be carried down.
Their thoughts have now forced the sentinel lines, leaped the mountains, jumped the rivers, hastened home, and are lingering about the old fireside, looking in at the cupboard, and hovering over faces and places that have been growing dearer to them every day for the last five months. Old-fashioned places, tame and uninteresting then, but now how loved! And as for the faces, they are those of mothers, wives, and sweethearts, around which are entwined the tenderest of memories. But at daybreak, when reveille is sounded, these wanderers must come trooping back again in time for "hard-tack" and double quick.
5. Some of the Indiana regiments are utterly beyond discipline. The men are good, stout, hearty, intelligent fellows, and will make excellent soldiers; but they have now no regard for their officers, and, as a rule, do as they please. They came straggling back yesterday from the top of Cheat unofficered, and in the most unsoldierly manner. As one of these stray Indianians was coming into camp, he saw a snake in the river and cocked his gun. He was near the quarters of the Sixth Ohio, and many men were on the opposite side of the stream, among them a lieutenant, who called to the Indianian and begged him for God's sake not to fire; but the latter, unmindful of what was said, blazed away. The ball, striking the water, glanced and hit the lieutenant in the breast, killing him almost instantly.
6. The Third and Sixth Ohio, with Loomis' battery, left camp at half-past three in the afternoon, and took the Huntersville turnpike for Big Springs, where Lee's army has been encamped for some months. At nine o'clock we reached Logan's Mill, where the column halted for the night. It had rained heavily for some hours, and was still raining. The boys went into camp thoroughly wet, and very hungry and tired; but they soon had a hundred fires kindled, and, gathering around these, prepared and ate supper.
I never looked upon a wilder or more interesting scene. The valley is blazing with camp-fires; the men flit around them like shadows. Now some indomitable spirit, determined that neither rain nor weather shall get him down, strikes up:
"Oh! say, can you see by the dawn's early light, What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming, Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight, O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?"
A hundred voices join in, and the very mountains, which loom up in the fire-light like great walls, whose tops are lost in the darkness, resound with a rude melody befitting so wild a night and so wild a scene. But the songs are not all patriotic. Love and fun make contribution also, and a voice, which may be that of the invincible Irishman, Corporal Casey, sings:
"'T was a windy night, about two o'clock in the morning, An Irish lad, so tight, all the wind and weather scorning, At Judy Callaghan's door, sitting upon the paling, His love tale he did pour, and this is part of his wailing: Only say you'll be mistress Brallaghan; Don't say nay, charming Judy Callaghan."
A score of voices pick up the chorus, and the hills and mountains seem to join in the Corporal's appeal to the charming Judy:
"Only say you'll be mistress Brallaghan; Don't say nay, charming Judy Callaghan."
Lieutenant Root is in command of Loomis' battery. Just before reaching Logan's one of his provision wagons tumbled down a precipice, severely injuring three men and breaking the wagon in pieces.
7. Left Logan's mill before the sun was up. The rain continues, and the mud is deep. At eleven o'clock we reached what is known as Marshall's store, near which, until recently, the enemy had a pretty large camp. Halted at the place half an hour, and then moved four miles further on, where we found the roads impassable for our artillery and transportation.
Learning that the enemy had abandoned Big Springs and fallen back to Huntersville, the soldiers were permitted to break ranks, while Colonel Marrow and Major Keifer, with a company of cavalry, rode forward to the Springs. Colonel Nick Anderson, Adjutant Mitchell and I followed. We found on the road evidence of the recent presence of a very large force. Quite a number of wagons had been left behind. Many tents had been ripped, cut to pieces, or burned, so as to render them worthless. A large number of beef hides were strung along the road. One wagon, loaded with muskets, had been destroyed. All of which showed, simply, that before the rebels abandoned the place the roads had become so bad that they could not carry off their baggage.
The object of the expedition being now accomplished, we started back at three o'clock in the afternoon, and encamped for the night at Marshall's store.
8. Resumed the march early, found the river waist high, and current swift; but the men all got over safely, and we reached camp at one o'clock.
The Third has been assigned to a new brigade, to be commanded by Brigadier-General Dumont, of Indiana.
The paymaster has come at last.
Willis, my new servant, is a colored gentleman of much experience and varied accomplishments. He has been a barber on a Mississippi river steamboat, and a daguerreian artist. He knows much of the South, and manipulates a fiddle with wonderful skill. He is enlivening the hours now with his violin.
Oblivious to rain, mud, and the monotony of the camp, my thoughts are carried by the music to other and pleasanter scenes; to the cottage home, to wife and children, to a time still further away when we had no children, when we were making the preliminary arrangements for starting in the world together, when her cheeks were ruddier than now, when wealth and fame and happiness seemed lying just before me, ready to be gathered in, and farther away still, to a gentle, blue-eyed mother—now long gone—teaching her child to lisp his first simple prayer.
9. The day has been clear. The mountains, decorated by the artistic fingers of Jack Frost, loom up in the sunshine like magnificent, highly-colored, and beautiful pictures.
The night is grand. The moon, a crescent, now rests for a moment on the highest peak of the Cheat, and by its light suggests, rather than reveals, the outline of hill, valley, cove and mountain.
The boys are wide awake and merry. The fair weather has put new spirit in them all, and possibly the presence of the paymaster has contributed somewhat to the good feeling which prevails.
Hark! This from the company quarters:
"Her golden hair in ringlets fair; Her eyes like diamonds shining; Her slender waist, her carriage chaste, Left me, poor soul, a pining. But let the night be e'er so dark, Or e'er so wet and rainy, I will return safe back again To the girl I left behind me."
From another quarter, in the rich brogue of the Celt, we have:
"Did you hear of the widow Malone, Ohone! Who lived in the town of Athlone, Alone? Oh! she melted the hearts Of the swains in those parts; So lovely the widow Malone, Ohone! So lovely the widow Malone."
10. Mr. Strong, the chaplain, has a prayer meeting in the adjoining tent. His prayers and exhortations fill me with an almost irresistible inclination to close my eyes and shut out the vanities, cares, and vexations of the world. Parson Strong is dull, but he is very industrious, and on secular days devotes his physical and mental powers to the work of tanning three sheepskins and a calf's hide. On every fair day he has the skins strung on a pole before his tent to get the sun. He combs the wool to get it clean, and takes especial delight in rubbing the hides to make them soft and pliable. I told the parson the other day that I could not have the utmost confidence in a shepherd who took so much pleasure in tanning hides.
While Parson Strong and a devoted few are singing the songs of Zion, the boys are having cotillion parties in other parts of the camp. On the parade ground of one company Willis is officiating as musician, and the gentlemen go through "honors to partners" and "circle all" with apparently as much pleasure as if their partners had pink cheeks, white slippers, and dresses looped up with rosettes.
There comes from the Chaplain's tent a sweet and solemn refrain:
"Perhaps He will admit my plea, Perhaps will hear my prayer; But if I perish I will pray, And perish only there. I can but perish if I go. I am resolved to try. For if I stay away I know I must forever die."
While these old hymns are sounding in our ears, we are almost tempted to go, even if we do perish. Surely nothing has such power to make us forget earth and its round of troubles as these sweet old church songs, familiar from earliest childhood, and wrought into the most tender memories, until we come to regard them as a sort of sacred stream, on which some day our souls will float away happily to the better country.
12. The parson is in my tent doing his best to extract something solemn out of Willis' violin. Now he stumbles on a strain of "Sweet Home," then a scratch of "Lang Syne;" but the latter soon breaks its neck over "Old Hundred," and all three tunes finally mix up and merge into "I would not live alway, I ask not to stay," which, for the purpose of steadying his hand, the parson sings aloud. I look at him and affect surprise that a reverend gentleman should take any pleasure in so vain and wicked an instrument, and express a hope that the business of tanning skins has not utterly demoralized him.
Willis pretends to a taste in music far superior to that of the common "nigger." He plays a very fine thing, and when I ask what it is, replies: "Norma, an opera piece." Since the parson's exit he has been executing "Norma" with great spirit, and, so far as I am able to judge, with wonderful skill. I doubt not his thoughts are a thousand miles hence, among brown-skinned wenches, dressed in crimson robes, and decorated with ponderous ear-drops. In fact, "Norma" is good, and goes far to carry one out of the wilderness.
13. It is after tattoo. Parson Strong's prayer-meeting has been dismissed an hour, and the camp is as quiet as if deserted. The day has been a duplicate of yesterday, cold and windy. To-night the moon is sailing through a wilderness of clouds, now breaking out and throwing a mellow light over valley and mountain, then plunging into obscurity, and leaving all in thick darkness.
Major Keifer, Adjutant Mitchell, and Private Jerroloaman have been stretching their legs before my fire-place all the evening. The Adjutant being hopelessly in love, naturally enough gave the conversation a sentimental turn, and our thoughts have been wandering among the rosy years when our hearts throbbed under the gleam of one bright particular star (I mean one each), and our souls alternated between hope and fear, happiness and despair. Three of us, however, have some experience in wedded life, and the gallant Adjutant is reasonably confident that he will obtain further knowledge on the subject if this cruel war ever comes to an end and his sweetheart survives.
14. The paymaster has been busy. The boys are very bitter against the sutler, realizing, for the first time, that "sutler's chips" cost money, and that they have wasted on jimcracks too much of their hard earnings. Conway has taken a solemn Irish oath that the sutler shall never get another cent of him. But these are like the half repentant, but resultless, mutterings of the confirmed drunkard. The "new leaf" proposed to be turned over is never turned.
16. Am told that some of the boys lost in gambling every farthing of their money half an hour after receiving it from the paymaster.
An Indiana soldier threw a bombshell into the fire to-day, and three men were seriously wounded by the explosion.
* * * * *
The writer was absent from camp from October 21st to latter part of November, serving on court-martial, first at Huttonville, and afterward at Beverly.
In November the Third was transferred to Kentucky.
30. The Third is encamped five miles south of Louisville, on the Seventh-street plank road.
As we marched through the city my attention was directed to a sign bearing the inscription, in large black letters,
"NEGROES BOUGHT AND SOLD."
We have known, to be sure, that negroes were bought and sold, like cattle and tobacco, but it, nevertheless, awakened new, and not by any means agreeable, sensations to see the humiliating fact announced on the broad side of a commercial house. These signs must come down.
The climate of Kentucky is variable, freezing nights and thawing in the day. The soil in this locality is rich, and, where trodden, extremely muddy. We shall miss the clear water of the mountain streams. A large number of troops are concentrating here.
1. Sunday has just slipped away. Parson Strong attempted to get an audience; but a corporal's guard, for numbers, were all who desired to be ministered to in spiritual things.
The Colonel spends much of his time in Louisville. He complains bitterly because the company officers do not remain in camp, and yet fails to set them a good example in this regard. We have succeeded poorly in holding our men. Quite a number dodged off while the boat was lying at the landing in Cincinnati, and still more managed to get through the guard lines and have gone to Louisville. The invincible Corporal Casey has not yet put in an appearance.
The boys of the Sixth Ohio are exceedingly jubilant; the entire regiment has been allowed a furlough for six days. This was done to satisfy the men, who had become mutinous because they were not permitted to stop at Cincinnati on their way hither.
4. Rode to Louisville this afternoon; in the evening attended the theatre, and saw the notorious Adah Isaacs Menken Heenan. The house was packed with soldiers, mostly of the Sixth Ohio. It seemed probable at one time that there would be a general free fight; but the brawlers were finally quieted and the play went on. One of the performers resembled an old West Virginia acquaintance so greatly that the boys at once y'clepped him Stalnaker, and howled fearfully whenever he made his appearance.
7. Moved three miles nearer Louisville and encamped in a grove. Have had much difficulty in keeping the men in camp; and this evening, to prevent a general stampede, ordered the guards to load their guns and shoot the first man who attempted to break over. Have succeeded also in getting the officers to remain; notified them yesterday that charges would be preferred against all who left without permission, and this afternoon I put my very good friend, Lieutenant Dale, under arrest for disregarding the order.
12. In camp near Elizabethtown. The road over which we marched was excellent; but owing to detention at Salt river, where the troops and trains had to be ferried over, we were a day longer coming here than we expected to be. The weather has been delightful, warm as spring time. The nights are beautiful.
The regiment was greatly demoralized by our stay in the vicinity of Louisville, and on the march hither the boys were very disorderly and loth to obey; but, by dint of much scolding, we succeeded in getting them all through.
13. Have been attached to the Seventeenth Brigade, and assigned to the Third Division; the latter commanded by General O. M. Mitchell. The General remarked to me this morning, that the best drilled and conditioned regiments would lead in the march toward Nashville.
15. Jake Smith, the driver of the head-quarters wagon, on his arrival in Elizabethtown went to the hotel, and in an imperious way ordered dinner, assuring the landlord, with much emphasis, that he was "no damned common officer, and wanted a good dinner."
18. In camp at Bacon creek, eight miles north of Green river. Have been two days on the way from Elizabethtown; the road was bad. There were nine regiments in the column, which extended as far almost as the eye could reach.
At Louisville I was compelled to bear heavily on officers and men. On the march hither I have dealt very thoroughly with some of the most disorderly, and in consequence have become unpopular with the regiment.
20. General Mitchell called this afternoon and requested me to form the regiment in a square. I did so, and he addressed it for twenty minutes on guard duty, throwing in here and there patriotic expressions, which encouraged and delighted the boys very much. When he departed they gave him three rousing cheers.
21. A reconnoissance was made beyond Green river yesterday, and no enemy found.
We are short of supplies; entirely out of sugar, coffee, and candles, and the boys to-night indicated some faint symptoms of insubordination, but I assured them we had made every effort possible to obtain these articles, and so quieted them.
Major Keifer was officer in charge of the camp yesterday, and when making the rounds last night a sentinel challenged, "Halt! who comes there?" The sergeant responded, "Grand rounds," whereupon the weary and disappointed Irishman retorted in angry tones: "Divil take the grand rounds, I thought it the relafe comin'."
22. The pleasant days have ended. The clouds hang heavy and black, and the rain descends in torrents.
After eleven o'clock last night I accompanied General Mitchell to ten regiments, and with him made the grand rounds in most of them. As we rode from camp to camp the General made the time most agreeable and profitable to me, by delivering a very able lecture on military affairs; laying down what he denominated a simple and sure foundation for the beginner to build upon.
The wind is high and our stove smokes prodigiously. I have been out in the rain endeavoring to turn the pipe, but have not mended the matter at all. The Major insists that it is better to freeze than to be smoked to death, so we shall extinguish the fire and freeze.
Adjutant Mitchell has been commissioned captain and assigned to Company C.
25. Gave passes to all the boys who desired to leave camp. The Major, Adjutant and I had a right royal Christmas dinner and a pleasant time. A fine fat chicken, fried mush, coffee, peaches and milk, were on the table. The Major is engaged now in heating the second tea-pot of water for punch purposes. His countenance has become quite rosy; this is doubtless the effect of the fire. He has been unusually powerful in argument; but whether his intellect has been stimulated by the fire, the tea, or the punch, we are at this time wholly unable to decide; he certainly handles the tea-pot with consummate skill, and attacks the punch with exceeding vigor.
27. No orders to advance. Armies travel slowly indeed. Within fifteen miles of the enemy and idly rotting in the mud.
Acting Brigadier-General Marrow when informed that Dumont would assume command of the brigade, became suddenly and violently ill, asked for and obtained a thirty-day leave.
I would give much to be home with the children during this holiday time; but unfortunately my health is too good, and will continue so in spite of me. The Major, poor man, is troubled in the same way.
28. Lieutenant St. John goes to Louisville with a man who was arrested as a spy; and strange to say the arrest was made at the instance of the prisoner's uncle, who is a captain in the Union army.
Captain Mitchell assumes command of company C to-morrow. The Colonel is incensed at the Major and me, because of the Adjutant's promotion. He intended to make a place in the company for a non-commissioned officer, who begged money from the boys to buy him a sword. We astonished him, however, by showing three commissions—one for the Adjutant, and one each for a first and second lieutenant, all of the company's own choosing.
30. Called on General Dumont this morning; he is a small man, with a thin piping voice, but an educated and affable gentleman. Did not make his acquaintance in West Virginia, he being unwell while there and confined to his quarters.
This is a peculiar country; there are innumerable caverns, and every few rods places are found where the crust of the earth appears to have broken and sunk down hundreds of feet. One mile from camp there is a large and interesting cave, which has been explored probably by every soldier of the regiment.
31. General Buell is here, and a grand review took place to-day.
Since we left Elkwater there has been a steadily increasing element of insubordination manifested in many ways, but notably in an unwillingness to drill, in stealing from camp and remaining away for days. This, if tolerated much longer, will demoralize even the best of men and render the regiment worthless.
1. Albert, the cook, was swindled in the purchase of a fowl for our New Year's dinner; he supposed he was getting a young and tender turkey, but we find it to be an ancient Shanghai rooster, with flesh as tough as whitleather. This discovery has cast a shade of melancholy over the Major.
The boys, out of pure devilment, set fire to the leaves, and to-night the forest was illuminated. The flames advanced so rapidly that, at one time, we feared they might get beyond control, but the fire was finally whipped out, not, however, without making as much noise in the operation as would be likely to occur at the burning of an entire city.
5. General Mitchell has issued an immense number of orders, and of course holds the commandants of regiments responsible for their execution. I have, as in duty bound, done my best to enforce them, and the men think me unnecessarily severe.
To-day a soldier about half drunk was arrested for leaving camp without permission and brought to my quarters; he had two canteens of whisky on his person. I remonstrated with him mildly, but he grew saucy, insubordinate, and finally insolent and insulting; he said he did not care a damn for what I thought or did, and was ready to go to the guard-house; in fact wanted to go there. Finally, becoming exasperated, I took the canteens from him, poured out the whisky, and directed Captain Patterson to strap him to a tree until he cooled off somewhat. The Captain failing in his efforts to fasten him securely, I took my saddle girth, backed him up to the tree, buckled him to it, and returned to my quarters. This proved to be the last straw which broke the unfortunate camel's back. It was a high-handed outrage upon the person of a volunteer soldier; the last and worst of the many arbitrary and severe acts of which I had been guilty. The regiment seemed to arise en masse, and led on by a few reckless men who had long disliked me, advanced with threats and fearful oaths toward my tent. The bitter hatred which the men entertained for me had now culminated. It being Sunday the whole regiment was off duty, and while some, and perhaps many, of the boys had no desire to resort to violent measures, yet all evidently sympathized with the prisoner, and regarded my action as arbitrary and cruel. The position of the soldier was a humiliating one, but it gave him no bodily pain. Possibly I had no authority for punishing him in this way; and had I taken time for reflection it is more than probable I should have found some other and less objectionable mode; confinement in the guard-house, however, would have been no punishment for such a man; on the contrary it would have afforded him that relief from disagreeable duty which he desired. At any rate the act, whether right or wrong, had been done, and I must either stand by it now or abandon all hope of controlling the regiment hereafter. I watched the mob, unobserved by it, from an opening in my tent door. Saw it gather, consult, advance, and could hear the boisterous and threatening language very plainly. Buckling my pistol belt under my coat where it could not be seen, I stepped out just as the leaders advanced to the tree for the purpose of releasing the man. I asked them very quietly what they proposed to do. Then I explained to them how the soldier had violated orders, which I was bound by my oath to enforce; how, when I undertook to remonstrate kindly against such unsoldierly conduct, he had insulted and defied me. Then I continued as calmly as I ever spoke, "I understand you have come here to untie him; let the man who desires to undertake the work begin—if there be a dozen men here who have it in their minds to do this thing—let them step forward—I dare them to do it." They saw before them a quiet, plain man who was ready to die if need be; they could not doubt his honesty of purpose. He gave them time to act and answer, they stood irresolute and silent; with a wave of the hand he bade them go to their quarters, and they went.
General Mitchell hearing of my trouble sent for me. I explained to him the difficulties under which I was laboring; told him what I had done and why I had done it. He said he understood my position fully, that I must go ahead, do my duty and he would stand by me, and, if necessary, sustain me with his whole division. I replied that I needed no assistance; that the officers, with but few exceptions, were my friends, and that I believed there were enough good, sensible soldiers in the regiment to see me through. He talked very kindly to me; but I feel greatly discouraged. The Colonel has practically abandoned the regiment in this period of bad weather, when rigorous discipline is to be enforced, and the boys seem to feel that I am taking advantage of his absence to display my authority, and require from them the performance of hard and unnecessary tasks. Many non-commissioned officers have been reduced to the ranks by court-martial for being absent without leave, and many privates have been punished in various ways for the same reason. It was my duty to approve or disapprove the finding of the court. Disapproval in the majority of cases would have been subversive of all discipline. Approval has brought down upon me not only the hatred and curses of the soldiers tried and punished, but in some instances the ill-will also of their fathers, who for years were my neighbors and friends.
Very many of these soldiers think they should be allowed to work when they please, play when they please, and, in short, do as they please. Until this idea is expelled from their minds the regiment will be but little if any better than a mob.
7. We hear of the Colonel occasionally. He is still at Louisville, running his train on the broad gauge. His regiment, he says, has been maneuvering in the face of the enemy beyond Green river, threatened with an attack day and night. Constant vigilance and continued exposure in this most inclement season of the year, so undermined his health that he was compelled to retire a little while to recuperate. He affirms that he has the best regiment of soldiers in the service; but, unfortunately, has not a field officer worth a damn.
Robt. E. Lee was the great man of the rebel army in West Virginia. The boys all talked about Lee, and told how they would pink him if opportunity offered. But Simon Bolivar Buckner is the man here on whom they all threaten to fall violently. There are certainly a hundred soldiers in the Third, each one of whom swears every day that he would whip Simon Bolivar Buckner quicker than a wink if he dared present himself. Simon is in danger.
Had the third sergeants in my school to-night. Am getting to be a pretty good teacher.
10. General Mitchell gave the officers a very interesting lecture this evening. He is indefatigable. The whole division has become a school.
Had five lieutenants before me. Lesson: grand guards and other outposts.
11. The General summoned the officers of his division about him and went through the form of sending out advanced guard, posting picket, grand guards, outposts, and sentinels. During these exercises we rode fifteen or twenty miles, and listened to at least twenty speeches. My horse was very gay, and I had the pleasure of running many races. I learned something, and am learning a little each day. Had the lieutenants in my school again to-night. Lesson: detachments, reconnoissances, partisans, and flankers.
12. The officers dress better, as a rule, than in West Virginia. The only man who has not, in this regard, changed for the better, is the Major. He continues the careless fellow he was. Occasionally he makes an effort to have his boots polished; but finds the day altogether too short for the work, and abandons the job in despair.
14. Every day we have the roar of artillery, the rattle of musketry, the prancing of impatient steeds, the marching and countermarching of battalions, the roll of the drum, the clash and clatter of sabers, and the thunder of a thousand mounted men, as they hurry hither and yon. But nobody is hurt; it is all practice and drill.
16. People who live in houses would hardly believe one can sleep comfortably with his nose separated from the coldest winter wind by simply a thin cotton canvas; but such is the fact.
19. General Dumont called. He is to-day commandant of the camp. The General is an eccentric genius, and has an inexhaustible fund of good stories. He uses the words "damned" and "be-damned" rather too often; but this adds, rather than detracts, from his popularity. He dispenses good whisky at his quarters very freely, and this has a tendency also to elevate him in the estimation of his subordinates.
General Mitchell never drinks and never swears. Occasionally he uses the words "confound it" in rather savage style; but further than this I have never heard him go. Mitchell is military; Dumont militia. The latter winks at the shortcomings of the soldier; the former does not.
25. We are not studying so much as we were. The General's grasp has relaxed, and he does not hold us with a tight reign and stiff bit any longer.
There is a great deal of sickness among the troops; many cases of colds, rheumatism, and fever, resulting from exposure. Passing through the company quarters of our regiment at midnight, I was alarmed by the constant and heavy coughing of the men. I fear the winter will send many more to the grave than the bullets of the enemy, for a year to come.
26. A body of cavalry got in our rear last night and attempted to destroy the Nolan creek bridge; but it was driven off by the guard, after a sharp engagement, in which report says nine of the enemy were killed and six of our men.
The enemy is doing but little in our front. A night or two ago he ventured to within a few miles of our forces on Green river, burnt a station-house, and retired.
28. The Colonel returned at noon. I was among the first to visit him. He greeted me very cordially, and called God to witness that he had never spoken a disparaging word of me. Busy bodies and liars, he said, had created all the trouble between us. He had heard that charges were to be preferred against him; he knew they could not be sustained, and believed it an attempt of his enemies to injure him and prevent his promotion. He affirmed that he had enlisted from the purest of motives, and entered into a general defense of his acts as an officer and gentleman. I listened respectfully to his statement, and then said: "Colonel, if your conduct has been such as you describe, you need not fear an investigation. I hold in my hand the charges and specifications of which you have heard. They are signed by my hand. I make them believing them to be true. If false, the court will so find, and I shall be the one to suffer. If true, you are unfit to command this regiment or any other, and it should be known. I present the charges to you, the commanding officer of the Third Regiment, and with them a written request that they be forwarded to the General commanding the division." He took the package, tore open the envelope, and seated himself while he read.
In less than an hour Captains Lawson and Wing called on me to report that the Colonel would resign if I would withdraw the charges. I consented to do so.
31. Had dress parade this evening, at which the Colonel officiated, it being his first appearance since his return.
Ascertaining that he had not sent in his resignation, I wrote him a note calling attention to the promise made on the 29th instant, and suggesting that it would be well to terminate an unpleasant matter without unnecessary delay.
We had a case of disappointed love in the regiment last night. A sergeant of Captain Mitchell's company was engaged to a girl of Athens county. They were to be married upon his return from the war, and until within a month have been corresponding regularly. Suddenly and without explanation she ceased to write, why he could not imagine. He never, however, doubted that she would be faithful to him. His anxiety to hear from home increased, until finally he learned from her brother, a soldier of the Eighteenth Ohio, that she was married. Strong, healthy, good-looking fellow that he was, this intelligence prostrated him completely, and made him crazy as a loon. He imagined that he was in hell, thought Dr. Seyes the devil, and so violent did he become that they had to bind him.
This morning he is more calm, but still deranged. He thought the straws in his bunk were thorns, and would pluck at them with his fingers and exclaim: "My God, ain't they sharp?" Captain Mitchell called, and the boys said: "Sergeant, don't you know him?" "Yes," he replied, "he is one of the devils." The Captain said: "Sergeant, don't you know where you are?" "Of course I do; I'm in hell." When they were binding him he said: "That's right; heap on the coals; put me in the hottest place." While Dr. Seyes was preparing something to quiet him—laudanum, perhaps—he said: "Bring on your poison; I'll take it."
The boys, while living roughly, exposed to hardships and dangers, think more of their sweethearts than ever before, and are constantly recurring, in their talk, to the comfortable homes and pleasant scenes from which they are for the present separated.
1. The Colonel sent in his resignation this morning. It will go to Department head-quarters to-morrow.
Saw the new moon over my right shoulder this evening, which I accept as an omen of good luck. Let it come. It will suit me just as well now as at any time. If deceived, I shall never more have faith in the moon; and as for the man in the moon, I shall call him a cheat to his face.
2. The devil is to pay in the regiment. The Colonel is doing his utmost to create a disturbance. His friends are busy among the privates. At noon an effort was made to get up a demonstration on the color line in his behalf. Now a petition is being circulated among the privates requesting Major Keifer and me to resign.
The night is as dark as pitch. A few minutes ago a shout went up for the Colonel, and was swelled from point to point along the line of company tents, until now possibly five hundred voices have joined in the yell. The Colonel's friends tell the boys that if he were to remain he would obtain leave for the regiment to go back to Camp Dennison to recruit; that he was about to obtain rifles and Zouave uniforms for them, and that there is a conspiracy among the officers to crush him.
3. Petitions from four companies, embracing two hundred and twenty-five names, have been presented, requesting the Major and Lieutenant-Colonel to resign.
4. We closed up the day with a dress parade, the Colonel in command. The camp is more boisterous than usual. No more petitions have been presented.
The Major received a package from home to-night containing, among other articles, a pair of slippers, which, greatly to my advantage, were too small for him. They were turned over to me, and it happens that no little thing could have been more acceptable.
The bright moonlight of to-night enlivens our spirits somewhat, and fills us with new courage. The days have been dark and gloomy, and the nights still more so, for many days and nights past.
From the band of the Tenth Ohio, half a mile away, come strains mellow and sweet. The air is full of moonlight and music. The boys are in a happier mood, and a round, full voice comes to us from the tents with the words of an old Scotch song:
"March, march, Ettrick and Teviotdale! Why, my lads, dinna ye march forward in order? March, march, Eskale and Liddlesdale! All the blue bonnets are over the border. Many a banner spread flutters above your head, Many a crest that is famous in story; Mount and make ready, then, sons of the mountain glen! Fight for the King and the old Scottish border!"
5. The Major and Mr. Furay are engaged in a tremendous dispute. Furay is positive he can not be mistaken, and the Major laughs him to scorn. When these gentlemen lock horns in dead earnest the clatter of words becomes terrible, and the combat ends only when both fall on their cots exhausted.
6. The Colonel's resignation has been accepted. He delivered his valedictory to the regiment this evening. Subsequently he passed through the company quarters, shaking hands with the boys and bidding them farewell. Still later he made a speech, in which he called God to witness that he was a loyal man, and promised to pray for us all. The regiment is disorderly, if not mutinous even. The best thing he can do for it and himself is to get out.
8. The Colonel has bidden us a final adieu. His most devoted adherents escorted him to the depot, and returned miserably drunk.
One of the color guards, an honest, sensible, good-looking boy, has written me a letter of encouragement. I trust that soon all will feel as kindly toward me as he.
10. We left Bacon creek at noon. There were ten thousand men in advance of us, with immense baggage trains. The roads bad, and our march slow, tedious, and disagreeable. Many of the officers imbibed freely, and the senior surgeon, an educated gentleman, and very popular with the boys, became gloriously elevated. He kept his eye pealed for secesh, and before reaching Munfordsville found a citizen twice as big as himself in possession of a double-barreled shot-gun. Taking it for granted that he was an enemy, the Doctor drew a revolver and bade him surrender unconditionally. The boys said the Doctor was as tight as a little bull. What phase of inebriety this remark indicated I am unable to say; but certain it is that he did not for a moment lose sight of his gigantic prisoner, nor give him the slightest opportunity to escape. He was quite triumphant in his bearing; directed the movements of the captive in a loud and imperious tone, and favored him with much patriotic advice.
A wagon with six unbroken mules attached is an uncertain conveyance. If the mules are desired to stop suddenly, they are certain not to do so, and if commanded to start suddenly, they are just as sure not to obey. If, after an immense amount of whipping and many fervent asseverations on the part of the driver that all mules should be in Tophet, they conclude to start at all, they go as if determined to reach the place indicated without unnecessary delay. If a mud-hole, ditch, tree, or any other obstacle lies in the way, and the driver cries whoa, the mules redouble their speed, and rush forward as if they did not in the slightest degree consider themselves responsible either for the driver's neck or the traps with which the wagon is laden.
It was about eight o'clock in the evening when we crossed the bridge over Green river. The moon had around it a halo, in which appeared very distinctly all the colors of the National flag—red, white, and blue—and the boys said it was a good omen; that they were Union people up there, and had hung out the Stars and Stripes.
12. To-morrow we start for Bowling Green, our division in the lead. Before night we shall overtake the rebels, and before the next evening will doubtless fight a battle.
13. Long before sunrise the whole division was astir, and at seven o'clock moved forward, our brigade in the center. Far as the eye could reach, both in front and rear, the road was crowded with men. A score of bands filled the air with martial strains, while the morning sun brightened the muskets, and made the flags look more cheerful and brilliant. The day was warm and pleasant. The country before us was, in a military sense, unexplored, and every ear was open to catch the sound of the first gun. The conviction that a battle was imminent kept the men steady and prevented straggling. We passed many fine houses, and extensive, well improved farms. But few white people were seen. The negroes appeared to have entire possession.
Six miles from Green river a young and very pretty girl stood in the doorway of a handsome farm-house and waved the flag of the Union. Cheer after cheer arose along the line; officers saluted, soldiers waved their hats, and the bands played "Yankee Doodle" and "Dixie." That loyal girl captured a thousand hearts, and I trust some gallant soldier who shall win honorable scars in battle may return in good time to crown her his Queen of Love and Beauty.
From this on for fifteen miles we found neither springs nor streams. The country is cavernous, and the only water is that of the ponds. In all of these we discovered dead and decaying horses, mules, and dogs. The rebels in this way had sought to deprive us of water; but while their action in this regard occasioned a vast deal of profanity among the boys, it did not in the least retard the column. We were, however, delayed somewhat by the felled trees with which they had obstructed miles of the road. At sunset we halted and pitched our tents in a large field, near what is known as Bell's Tavern, on the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. We had marched eighteen miles.
The water used in the preparation of the evening meal was that of the ponds. The thought of the rotting dogs, horses, and mules, could not be banished, and when the Major sipped his coffee in a doubtful way and remarked that it tasted soupy, my stomach quivered on the turning point, and, hungry as I was, the supper gave me no further enjoyment.
14. Resumed the march at daylight. Snow fell last night. The day was exceedingly cold, and the wind pierced through us like needles of ice. I think I never experienced so sudden and extreme a change in the weather. It was too cold to ride, and I dismounted and walked twelve miles. We were certain of a fight, and so pushed on with rapid pace. A regiment of cavalry and Loomis' battery were in advance. When within ten miles of Bowling Green the guns opened in our front. Leaving the regiment in charge of the Major, I rode ahead rapidly as I could, and reached the river bank opposite Bowling Green in time to see a detachment of rebel cavalry fire the buildings which contained their army stores. The town was ablaze in twenty different places. They had destroyed the bridge over Barren river in the morning, and now, having finished the work of destruction, went galloping over the hills. When the regiment arrived, it was quartered in a camp but recently evacuated by the enemy. The night was bitter cold; but the boys soon had a hundred fires blazing, and made themselves very comfortable.
15. This morning we were called out at daylight to cross the river and take possession of the town; a sorrier, hungrier lot of fellows never rolled out of warm blankets into the icy wind. It was impossible for many of them to get their wet and frozen shoes on, but we hurried down to the river, and were there halted until it was ascertained that our presence on the opposite side was not required, when we went back to our old quarters.
16. To-day we crossed the Big Barren, and are now in Bowling Green. Turchin's brigade preceded us, and has gutted many houses. The rebels burned a million dollars worth of stores, but left enough pork, salt beef, and other necessaries to supply our division for a month; in fact the cigar I am smoking, the paper on which I write, the ink and pen, were all captured.
General Beauregard left the day before our arrival. It is said he was for days reported to be lying in General Hardee's quarters, dangerously ill, and that under cover of this report he left town dressed in citizen's clothes and visited our camps on Green River.
18. The weather is turning warm again, the men are quartered in houses. I room at the hotel. This sort of life, however pleasant it may be, has a demoralizing effect upon the soldier.
19. Spent the forenoon at the river assisting somewhat in getting our transportation over. It is a rainy day, and I got wet to the skin and thoroughly chilled. After dinner I went to bed while William, my servant, put a few necessary stitches in my apparel, and dried my underclothing and boots. I am badly off for clothing; my coat is out at the elbows, and my pantaloons are in a revolutionary condition, the seat having seceded.
The Cincinnati Gazette of the 14th instant reports that I have been promoted. Thanks.
20. We learn from a reliable source that Nashville has been evacuated. The enemy is said to be concentrating at Murfreesboro, twenty or thirty miles beyond.
The river has risen fifteen feet, and many of our teams are still on the other side. The water swelled so rapidly that two teams of six mules each, parked on the river bank last night so as to be in readiness to cross on the ferry this morning, were swept away.
Captain Mitchell returned this evening from a trip North. We are glad to have him back again.
21. Hear that Fort Donelson has been taken after a terrible fight, and ten thousand ears are eager to hear more about the engagement. No teams crossed the river to-day; we are flood bound.
There was an immense number of deaths in the rebel army while it encamped here. It is said three thousand Southern soldiers are buried in the vicinity of the town. They could not stand the rigorous Northern climate. A Mississippi regiment reported but thirteen men for duty.
22. Moved at seven in the morning toward Nashville without wagons, tents or camp equipage. Marched twenty miles in the rain and were drenched completely. The boys found some sort of shelter during the night in tobacco houses, barns, and straw piles.
23. The day pleasant and sunshiny. The feet of the men badly blistered, and the regiment limps along in wretched style; made fifteen miles.
24. Routed out at daylight and ordered to make Nashville, a distance of thirty-two miles. Many of the boys have no shoes, and the feet of many are still very sore. The journey seems long, but we are at the head of the column, and that stimulates us somewhat. Have sent my horse to the rear to help along the very lame, and am making the march on foot.
The martial band of the regiment is doing its utmost to keep the boys in good spirits; the base drum sounds like distant thunder, and the wind of Hughes, the fifer, is inexhaustible; he can blow five miles at a stretch. The members of the band are in good pluck, and when not playing, either sing, tell stories, or indulge in reminiscences of a personal character. Russia has been badgering William Heney, a drummer. He says that while at Elkwater Heney sparked one of Esquire Stalnaker's daughters, and that the lady's little sister going into the room quite suddenly one evening called back to the father, "Dad, dad, William Heney has got his arm around Susan Jane!" Heney affirms that the story is untrue. Lochey favors us with a song, which is known as the warble.
"Thou, thou reignest in this bosom, There, there hast thou thy throne;
Thou, thou knowest that I love thee; Am I not fondly thine own?
Ya—ya—ya—ya. Am I not fondly thine own?
Das unda claus ish mein, Das unda claus ish mein, Cants do nic mock un do.
On the banks of the Ohio river, In a cot lives my Rosa so fair; She is called Jim Johnson's darky, And has nice curly black hair. Tre alo, tre alo, tre ola, ti.
O come with me to the dear little spot, And I'll show you the place I was born, In a little log hut by a clear running brook, Where blossom the wild plum and thorn. Tre ola, tre ola, treo la ti.
Mein fadter, mein modter, mein sister, mein frau, Undt swi glass of beer for meinself, Undt dey call mein wife one blacksmit shop; Such dings I never did see in my life. Tre ola, tre ola, tre ola ti."
25. General Nelson's command came up the Cumberland by boat and entered Nashville ahead of us. The city, however, had surrendered to our division before Nelson arrived. We failed simply in being the first troops to occupy it, and this resulted from detention at the river-crossing.
27. Crossed the Cumberland and moved through Nashville; the regiment behaved handsomely, and was followed by a great crowd of colored people, who appeared to be delighted with the music. General Mitchell complimented us on our good behavior and appearance.
28. Captain Wilson, Fourth Ohio Cavalry, was shot dead while on picket. One of his sergeants had eight balls put through him, but still lives.
1. Our brigade, in command of General Dumont, started for Lavergne, a village eleven miles out on the Murfreesboro road, to look after a regiment of cavalry said to be in occupation of the place. Arrived there a little before sunset, but found the enemy had disappeared.
The troops obtained whisky in the village, and many of the soldiers became noisy and disorderly.
A little after nightfall the compliments of a Mrs. Harris were presented to me, with request that I would be kind enough to call. The handsome little white cottage where she lived was near our bivouac. It was the best house in the village; and, as I ascertained afterward, very tastefully if not elegantly furnished. She was a woman of perhaps forty. Her husband and daughter were absent; the former, I think, in the Confederate service. She had only a servant with her, and was considerably frightened and greatly incensed at the conduct of some soldiers, of she knew not what regiment, who had persisted in coming into her house and treating her rudely. In short, she desired protection. She had a lively tongue in her head, and her request for a guard was, I thought, not preferred in the gentlest and most amiable way. Her comments on our Northern soldiers were certainly not complimentary to them. She said she had supposed hitherto that soldiers were gentlemen. I confessed that they ought to be at least. She said, rather emphatically, that Southern soldiers were gentlemen. I replied that I did not doubt at all the correctness of her statement; but, unfortunately, the branch of the Northern army to which I had the honor to belong had not been able to get near enough to them to obtain any personal knowledge on the subject.
The upshot of the five minutes' interview was a promise to send a soldier to protect Mrs. Harris' property and person during the night.
Returning to the regiment I sent for Sergeant Woolbaugh. He is one of the handsomest men in the regiment; a printer by trade, an excellent conversationalist, a man of extensive reading, and of thorough information respecting current affairs. I said: "Sergeant, I desire you to brighten up your musket, and clothes if need be, go over to the little white cottage on the right and stand guard." "All right, sir."
As he was leaving I called to him: "If the lady of the house shows any inclination to talk with you, encourage and gratify her to the top of her bent. I want her to know what sort of men our Northern soldiers are."
The Sergeant in due time introduced himself to Mrs. Harris, and was invited into the sitting room. They soon engaged in conversation, and finally fell into a discussion of the issue between the North and South which lasted until after midnight. The lady, although treated with all courtesy, certainly obtained no advantage in the controversy, and must have arisen from it with her ideas respecting Northern soldiers very materially changed.
2. Started on the return to Nashville at three o'clock in the morning. The boys being again disappointed in not finding the enemy, and considerably under the influence of liquor, conducted themselves in a most disorderly and unsoldierly way.
Have not had a change of clothing since we crossed the Great Barren river.
6. Regiment on picket.
When returning from the front I met a soldier of the Thirty-seventh Indiana, trudging along with his gun on his shoulder. I asked him where he was going; he replied that his father lived four miles beyond, and he had just heard that his brother was home from the Southern army on sick leave, and he was going out to take him prisoner.
8. This afternoon the camp was greatly excited over a daring feat of a body of cavalry under John Morgan. It succeeded in getting almost inside the camps, and was five miles inside of our outposts. It came into the main road between where Kennett's cavalry regiment is encamped and Nashville; captured a wagon train, took the drivers, Captain Braden, of Indiana, who was in charge of the train, and eighty-three horses, and started on a by-road back for Murfreesboro. General Mitchell immediately dispatched Kennett in pursuit. About fifteen miles out the rebels were overtaken and our men and horses recaptured. Two rebels were killed and two taken; Kennett is still in hot pursuit. Captain Braden says, as the rebels were riding away they were exceedingly jubilant over the success of their adventure, and promised to introduce him to General Hardee in the evening. Without asking the Captain's permission they gave him a very poor horse in exchange for a very good one, put him at the head of the column and guarded him vigilantly; but when Kennett appeared and the running fight occurred he dodged off at full speed, lay down on his horse, and although fired at many times escaped unhurt.
Morgan's men know the country so well that all the by-roads and cow-paths are familiar to them; the citizens keep them informed also as to the location of our camps and picket posts, and if need be are ready to serve them either as guides or spies, hence the success which attended the earlier part of their enterprise does not indicate so great a want of vigilance on the part of our troops, as might at first thought be supposed.
9. The enemy made a descent on one of our outposts, killed one man and wounded another.
16. Went to Nashville this morning to buy a few necessaries. While awaiting dinner at the St. Cloud I took a seat outside the door. Quite a number of Union officers were seated or standing in front of the hotel, when two well, extremely well, dressed women, followed by a negro lady, approached, and while passing us held their noses. What disagreeable thing the atmosphere in our immediate vicinity contained that made it necessary for these lovely women to so pinch their nasal protuberances, I could not discover; certainly the officers looked cleanly, many of them were young men of the "double-bullioned" kind, who had spared no expense in decorating their persons with shoulder straps, golden bugles, and other shining trappings which appertain somehow to glorious war.
After dinner I dropped into a drug store to buy a cake of soap. The druggist gave me, in the way of change, several miserably executed shinplasters. I asked:
"Do you call this money?"
"I wonder that every printing office in the South does not commence the manufacture of such money."
"O, no," he replied in a sneering way; "in the North they might do that, but in the South no one is disposed to make counterfeit money."
"Yes," I retorted, "the Southern people are very honest no doubt, but I apprehend there is a better reason for not counterfeiting the money than you have assigned. It is probably not worth counterfeiting."
Private Hawes of the Third is remarkably fond of pies, and a notorious straggler withal. He has just returned to camp after being away for some days, and accounts for his absence by saying that he was in the country looking for pies, when Morgan's men appeared suddenly, shot his horse from under him, mounted him behind a soldier and carried him away. The private is now in the guard-house entertaining a select company with a narrative of his adventures.
We have much trouble with escaped negroes. In some way we have obtained the reputation of being abolitionists, and the colored folks get into our regimental lines, and in some mysterious way are so disposed of that their masters never hear of them again. It is possible the two saw-bones, who officiate at the hospital, dissect, or desiccate, or boil them in the interest of science, or in the manufacture of the villainous compounds with which they dose us when ill. At any rate, we know that many of these sable creatures, who joined us at Bowling Green and on the road to Nashville, can not now be found. Their masters, following the regiment, made complaint to General Buell, and, as we learn, spoke disparagingly of the Third. An order issued requiring us to surrender the negroes to the claimants, and to keep colored folks out of our camp hereafter. I obeyed the order promptly; commanded all the colored men in camp to assemble at a certain hour and be turned over to their masters; but the misguided souls, if indeed there were any, failed to put in an appearance, and could not be found. The scamps, I fear, took advantage of my notice and hid away, much to the regret of all who desire to preserve the Union as it was, and greatly to the chagrin of the gentlemen who expected to take them handcuffed back to Kentucky. One of these fugitives, a handsome mulatto boy, borrowed five dollars of me, and the same amount of Doctor Seyes, not half an hour before the time when he was to be delivered up, but I fear now the money will never be repaid.
18. Started for Murfreesboro. The day is beautiful and the regiment marches well. Encamped for the night near Lavergne. I called on my friend Mrs. Harris. She received me cordially and introduced me to her daughter, a handsome young lady of seventeen or eighteen. They were both extremely Southern in their views, but chatted pleasantly over the situation, and Mrs. Harris spoke of Sergeant Woolbaugh, the guard furnished her on our first visit, in very complimentary terms; in fact, she was surprised to find such men in the ranks of the Federal army. I assured her that there were scores like him in every regiment, and that our army was made up of the flower of the Northern people.
19. The rebels having burned the bridges on the direct road, we were compelled to diverge to the left and take a longer route; toward evening we went into camp on the plantation of a widow lady, and here for the first time in my life I saw a field of cotton; the old stalks still standing with many bulbs which had escaped the pickers.
20. Turned out at four o'clock in the morning, got breakfast, struck our tents, and were ready to march at six; but the brigade being now ordered to take the rear, we stood uncovered in a drenching rain three hours for the division and transportation to pass. All were thoroughly wet and benumbed with cold, but as if to show contempt for the weather the Third sang with great unction:
"There is a land of pure delight, Where saints immortal reign; Infinite day excludes the night, And pleasures banish pain.
There everlasting spring abides, And never withering flowers; Death, like a narrow sea, divides This heavenly land from ours."
Soon after getting under way the sky cleared, and the sun made its appearance; the band struck up, and at every plantation negroes came flocking to the roadside to see us. They are the only friends we find. They have heard of the abolition army, the music, the banners, the glittering arms; possibly the hope that their masters will be humbled and their own condition improved, gladdens their hearts and leads them to welcome us with extravagant manifestations of joy. They keep time to the music with feet and hands, and hurrah "fur de ole flag and de Union," sometimes following us for miles. Parson Strong attempts to do a little missionary work. A dozen or more negroes stand in a group by the roadside. Said the Parson to an old man: "My friend, are you religious?"
"No, massa, I is not; seben of my folks is, an dey is all prayen fur your side."
Hailing a little knot, I said: "Boys where do you live?"
"Lib wid Massa ——, sah."
"All Union people, I suppose?"
"Dey say dey is, but dey isn't."
One old woman—evidently a great-grandmother in Israel—climbed on the fence, clapped her hands, shouted for joy, and "bressed de Lord dat dar was de ole flag agin."
To a colored boy who stole into our lines last night, with his little bundle under his arm, the Major said: "Doesn't it make you feel bad to run away from your masters?"
"Oh, no, massa; dey is gone, too."
Reached Murfreesboro in the afternoon.
22. Men at work rebuilding the railroad bridge. General Dumont returns to Nashville. Colonel Lytle, of the Tenth Ohio, will assume command of our brigade.
My servant has imposed upon me for about a month. He arises in the morning when he pleases; prepares my meals when it suits his pleasure, and is disposed in every thing to make me adapt my business to his own notions. This morning I became so provoked over his insolence and laziness that, in a moment of passion, I knocked him down. Since then there has been a decided improvement in his bearing. The blow seems to have awakened him to a sense of his duty.
25. So soon as the railroad is repaired, an immense amount of cotton will be sent East from this section. The crops of two seasons are in the hands of the producer. We are encamped in a cotton field. Peach trees are now in bloom, and many early flowers are to be seen.
26. The boys are having a grand cotillion party on the green in front of my tent, and appear to have entirely forgotten the privations, hardships, and dangers of soldiering.
The army for a temperate, cleanly, cheerful man, is, I have no doubt, the healthiest place in the world. The coarse fare provided by the Government is the most wholesome that can be furnished. The boys oftenest on the sick list are those who are constantly running to the sutler's for gingerbread, sweetmeats, raisins, and nuts. They eat enormous quantities of this unwholesome stuff, and lose appetite for more substantial food. Finding that all desire for hard bread and bacon has disappeared, they conclude that they must be ill, and instead of taking exercise, lie in their tents until they finally become really sick. A contented, temperate, cheerful, cleanly man will live forever in the army; but a despondent, intemperate, gluttonous, dirty soldier, let him be never so fat and strong when he enters the service, is sure to get on the sick list, and finally into the hospital.
The dance on the green is progressing with increased vigor. The music is excellent. At this moment the gentlemen are going to the right; now they promenade all; in a minute more the ladies will be in the center, and four hands round. That broth of an Irish boy, Conway, wears a rooster's feather in his cap, and has for a partner a soldier twice as big as himself, whom he calls Susan. As they swing Conway yells at the top of his voice: "Come round, old gal!"
28. General Mitchell returned from Nashville on a hand-car.
30. This is a pleasant Sunday. The sun shines, the birds sing, and the air stirs pleasantly.
The colored people of Murfreesboro pour out in great numbers on Sunday evenings to witness dress parade, some of them in excellent holiday attire. The women sport flounces and the men canes. Many are nearly white, and all slaves.
Murfreesboro is an aristocratic town. Many of the citizens have as fine carriages as are to be seen in Cincinnati or Washington. On pleasant week-day evenings they sometimes come out to witness the parades. The ladies, so far as I can judge by a glimpse through a carriage window, are richly and elegantly dressed.
The poor whites are as poor as rot, and the rich are very rich. There is no substantial well-to-do middle class. The slaves are, in fact, the middle class here. They are not considered so good, of course, as their masters, but a great deal better than the white trash. One enthusiastic colored man said in my hearing this evening: "You look like solgers. No wonder dat you wip de white trash ob de Southern army. Dey ced dey could wip two ob you, but I guess one ob you could wip two ob dem. You is jest as big as dey is, and maybe a little bigger."
A few miles from here, at a cross roads, is a guide-board: " 15 miles to Liberty." If liberty were indeed but fifteen miles away, the stars to-night would see a thousand negroes dancing on the way thither; old men with their wives and bundles; young men with their sweethearts; little barefooted children, all singing in their hearts:
"De day ob jubilee hab come, ho ho!"
On the march hither we passed a little, contemptible, tumble-down, seven-by-nine frame school-house. Over the door, in large letters, were the words:
The boys laughed and said: "If this is called an academy, what sort of things must their common school-houses be?" But Tennessee is a beautiful State. All it lacks is free schools and freemen.
31. Colonel Keifer, in command of four hundred men, started with ninety wagons for Nashville. He will repair the railroad in two or three places and return with provisions.
3. Struck our tents and started south, at two o'clock this afternoon; marched fifteen miles and bivouacked for the night.
4. Resumed the march at seven o'clock in the morning, the Third in advance. At one place on the road a young negro, perhaps eighteen years old, broke from his hiding in the woods, and with hat in hand and a broad grin on his face, came running to me. "Massa," said he, "I wants to go wid you." "I am sorry, my boy, that I can not take you. I am not permitted to do it." The light went out of the poor fellow's eyes in a moment, and, putting on his slouched hat, he went away sorrowful enough. It seems cruel to turn our backs on these, our only friends. If a dog came up wagging his tail at sight of us, we could not help liking him better than the master, who not only looks sullen and cross at our approach, but in his heart desires our destruction.
As we approach the Alabama line we find fewer, but handsomer, houses; larger plantations, and negroes more numerous. We saw droves of women working in the fields. When their ears caught the first notes of the music, they would drop the hoe and come running to the road, their faces all aglow with pleasure. May we not hope that their darkened minds caught glimpses of the sun of a better life, now rising for them?
Last night my bed-room was as grand as that ever occupied by a prince. The floor was carpeted with soft, green, velvety grass. For walls it had the primeval forest, with its drapery of luxuriant foliage. The ceiling, higher even than one's thoughts can measure, was studded with stars innumerable. The crescent moon added to its beauty for awhile, but disappeared long before I dropped off to sleep.
We entered Shelbyville at noon. There are more Union people here than at Murfreesboro, and we saw many glad faces as we marched through the streets. The band made the sky ring with music, and the regiment deported splendidly. One old woman clapped her hands and thanked heaven that we had come at last. Apparently almost wild with joy, she shouted after us, "God be with you!"
We went into camp on Duck river, one mile from the town.
5. General Mitchell complimented me on the good behavior and good appearance of the Third. He said it was the best regiment in his division. At Bacon creek, Kentucky, he was particularly severe on us, and attributed all our trouble to defective discipline and bad management on the part of the officers. On the evening when the acceptance of Marrow's resignation was read, the General was present. After parade was dismissed, I shook hands with him and said: "General, give us a little time and we will make the Third the best regiment in your division." The old gentleman was glad to hear me say so, but smiled dubiously. I am glad to have him acknowledge so soon that we have fulfilled the promise.
At Murfreesboro heavy details were made for bridge building, and one day, while superintending the work, the General addressed the detail from the Third in a very uncomplimentary way: "You lazy scoundrels, go to work! Your regiment is the promptest in the division to report for duty, but you will not work." At another time he gave an order to a soldier which was not obeyed with sufficient alacrity, when he yelled: "What regiment do you belong to?" "The Third." "Well, sir, I thought you were one of the obstinate devils of that regiment." At another time he rode into our camp, and the boys failed to rise at his approach, when he reined in his horse suddenly and shouted: "Get up here, you lazy scoundrels, and treat your superiors with respect!" Riding on a little further, a private passed without touching his cap: "Hold on, here," said the General, "don't you know how to salute a superior?" "Yes," stammered the boy, "but I did not see you." "Hold up your head like a soldier, and you will see me."
One night I was making the rounds in the Second Ohio with the General. The guard did not turn out promptly and he became angry; diving into the guard-tent to rout them up, he ran against a big fellow so violently that he was nearly thrown off his legs. This increased his fury, and seizing the soldier by the coat collar he shook him roughly, and said: "You insolent dog, I'll stand insolence from no man. Officer, put this man under arrest immediately."
On the same night the guard of the Thirty-third Ohio turned out slowly, and some of them were found to have stolen off to their quarters. The General was still in a bad humor. "Where is the officer of the day?" he asked. "At his quarters, sir," replied a sergeant. "Present him the compliments of the General commanding, and tell him if he does not come to the guard-tent at once, I will send a file of soldiers after him." The officer appeared very soon. I refer to these incidents to show simply that the men of other regiments received reprimands as well as those of my own.
6. Late in the evening the officers of the regiment, with the string band, started on a serenading expedition. After playing sundry airs and singing divers songs, Ethiopian and otherwise, at the residence of a Mr. Warren, Miss Julia Gurnie, sister of Mrs. Warren, appeared on the veranda and made to us a very pretty Union speech. After a general introduction to the family and a cordial reception, we bade them good-night, and started for another portion of the village. On the way thither we dropped into the store of a Mr. Armstrong, and imbibed rather copiously of apple-jack, to protect us against the night air, which, by the way, is always dangerous when apple-jack is convenient. After thus fortifying ourselves, we proceeded to the residence of a Mr. Storey. His doors were thrown open, and we entered his parlors. Here we had the honor to be introduced to Miss Storey, a handsome young lady, and Lieutenant O'Brien, nephew of Parson Brownlow.
Lieutenant O'Brien is an officer of the rebel army. He accompanied Parson Brownlow to Nashville under a flag of truce, and has been loitering on his way back until the present time. He wears the Confederate gray, and when we entered the room was seated on the sofa with Miss Storey. After being introduced in due form, I placed myself by the young lady and endeavored to at least divide her attention with my Confederate friend. The apple-jack dilated most engagingly on the remarkable beauty of the evening, the pleasantness of the weather generally, and the delightfulness of Shelbyville. There was a piano in the room, and finally, after having occupied her attention jointly with O'Brien for some time, I took the liberty to ask her to favor us with a song; but she pleaded an awful cold, and asked to be excused. The apple-jack excused her. The Storeys are pleasant people, and I trust that, full as we were, we did nothing to lessen their respect for us.
From Mr. Storey's we went to the house of Mr. Cooper, President of the Shelbyville Bank, but were not invited in, the family having retired.
Our last call was at the residence of Mr. Weasner, whilom member of the Tennessee Legislature. The doors were here thrown open, and a cordial invitation given us to enter. A pitcher of good wine was set out, and soon after Miss Weasner, a very pretty young lady, appeared, and played and sang many patriotic songs. When finally we bade this pleasant family good night, it was bordering on the Sabbath, and we returned to camp.
7. Colonel Kennett, at the head of three hundred cavalry, made a dash into the country toward the Tennessee river, captured and destroyed a train on a branch of the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, and returned to camp to-night with fifteen prisoners.
8. Party at Mr. Warren's, to which many of the officers have gone.
9. Moved at six o'clock in the morning. Roads sloppy, and in many places overflowed. Marched sixteen miles.
10. Resumed the march at six o'clock A. M. Reached Fayetteville at noon. Passed through the town and encamped one mile beyond. General Mitchell, with Turchin's and Sill's brigades and two batteries, left for Huntsville on our arrival.
There are various and contradictory rumors afloat respecting the condition of affairs at Shiloh. The rebel sympathizers here are jubilant over what they claim is reliable intelligence, that our army has been surprised and defeated. Another report, coming via Nashville, says that a part of our army was terribly beaten on Sunday; but reinforcements arriving on Monday, the rebels were driven back, and our losses of the first day retrieved.
A courier arrived about dark with dispatches for General Mitchell; but they were forwarded to him unopened.
13. Confused and unsatisfactory accounts still reach us of the great battle at Pittsburg Landing.
It is strange what fortune, good or ill, our division has had. Taking the lead at Green river, we doubted not that a battle awaited us at Bowling Green. In advance again on the march to Nashville, we were sure of fighting when we reached that place. Starting again, the division pushed on alone to Murfreesboro, Shelbyville, Fayetteville, and finally to Huntsville and Decatur, Alabama, at each place expecting a battle, and yet meeting with no opposition. With but one division upon this line, we looked for hard work and great danger, and yet have found neither. As we advanced the honors we expected to win have receded or gone elsewhere, to be snatched up by other divisions. The boys say the Third is fated never to see a battle; that the Third Ohio in Mexico saw no fighting; that there is something magical in the number which preserves it from all danger.
14. The Fifteenth Kentucky remains here. The Third and Tenth Ohio moved at three in the afternoon. Roads bad and progress slow. Bivouacked for the night near a distillery. Many of the men drunk; the Tenth Ohio particularly wild.
15. Resumed the march at six in the morning. Passed the plantation of Leonidas Polk Walker. He is said to be the wealthiest man in North Alabama. His domain extends for fifteen miles along the road. The overseer's house and the negro huts near it make quite a village.
Met a good many young men returning from Corinth and Pittsburg Landing. Quite a number of them had been in the Sunday's battle, and, being wounded, had been sent back to Huntsville. General Mitchell had captured and released them on parole. Some had their heads bandaged, others their arms, while others, unable to walk, were conveyed in wagons. As they passed, our men made many good-natured remarks, as, "Well, boys, you're tired of soldiering, ar'n't you?" "Goin' home on furlough, eh?" "Played out." "Another bold soger boy!" "See the soger!"
At one point a hundred or more colored people, consisting of men, women, and children, flocked to the roadside. The band struck up, and they accompanied the regiment for a mile or more, crowding and jostling each other in their endeavors to keep abreast of the music. The boys were wonderfully amused, and addressed to the motley troupe all the commands known to the volunteer service: "Steady on the right;" "Guide center;" "Forward, double quick."
Reached Huntsville at five in the afternoon.
16. Just after sunset Colonel Keifer and I strolled into the town, stopped at the hotel for a moment, where we saw a rebel officer in his gray uniform running about on parole. Visited the railroad depot, where some two hundred rebels are confined. The prisoners were variously engaged; some chatting, others playing cards, while a few of a more devotional turn were singing
"Come thou fount of every blessing, Tune my heart to sing thy praise."
By his timely arrival General Mitchell cut a division of rebel troops in two. Four thousand got by, and were thus enabled to join the rebel army at Corinth, while about the same number were obliged to return to Chattanooga.
20. At Decatur. The Memphis and Charleston Railroad crosses the Tennessee river at this point. The town is a dilapidated old concern, as ugly as Huntsville is handsome.
There is a canebrake near the camp, and every soldier in the regiment has provided himself with a fishing-rod; very long, straight, beautiful rods they are, too.
The white rebel, who has done his utmost to bring about the rebellion, is lionized, called a plucky fellow, a great man, while the negro, who welcomes us, who is ready to peril his life to aid us, is kicked, cuffed, and driven back to his master, there to be scourged for his kindness to us. Billy, my servant, tells me that a colored man was whipped to death by a planter who lives near here, for giving information to our men. I do not doubt it. We worm out of these poor creatures a knowledge of the places where stores are secreted, or compel them to serve as guides, and then turn them out to be scourged or murdered. There must be a change in this regard before we shall be worthy of success.
21. A detachment went to Somerville yesterday. While searching for buried arms forty-two hundred dollars, in gold, silver, and bank-notes, were found. The money is, undoubtedly, private property, and will, I presume, be returned to the owner.
Fine, large fish are caught in the Tennessee. We have a buffalo for supper—a good sort of fish—weighing six pounds.
General Mitchell has been made a Major-General. He is a deserving officer. No other man with so few troops has ventured so far into the enemy's country, and accomplished so much. Battles if they result favorably are great helps to the cause, but the general who by a bold dash accomplishes equally important results, without loss of life, is entitled to as great praise certainly as he who fights and wins a victory.
Colonel Keifer and I have been on horseback most of the afternoon, examining all the roads leading from Decatur. On our way back to camp we called at Mr. Rather's. He was a member of the Alabama Senate, favored the secession movement, but claims now to be heartily sorry for it. He received us cordially; introduced us to Mrs. Rather, brought in wine of his own manufacture, and urged us to drink heartily.
23. A beautiful day has gone by and a beautiful starlit night has come. The camp is very still. The melody of the frog, if melody it can be called, and the ripple of the Tennessee, are the only sounds to be heard. Thoughts of home and the quiet evenings; of youth and the gay visions; of the thousand and one pleasant scenes in life; of what we might have been and where we might have been, had the cards of our life been shuffled differently; of the deeds we might do, if peradventure the opportunity were offered, and the little we have done; all come up to-night, and we chew the cud over and over, without being able to determine whether it is bitter or sweet.
The enemy, three hundred strong, made a dash on our picket last night, wounded one man, and made an unsuccessful effort to retake a bridge.
24. Our forces are on the alert. I lay down in my clothes last night, or rather this morning, for it was between one and two o'clock when I retired. The division is stretched over a hundred miles of railway, but in position to concentrate in a few hours.
Before leaving this place, the rebels built a cotton fort, using in its construction probably five hundred bales.
To-day we filled the bridge over the Tennessee with combustible material, and put it in condition to burn readily, in case we find it necessary to retire to the north side.
A man with his son and two daughters arrived to-night from Chattanooga, having come all the way—one hundred and fifty miles probably—in a small skiff.
25. Price, with ten thousand men, is reported advancing from Memphis. Turchin had a skirmish with his advance guard near Tuscumbia.
26. Turchin's brigade returned from Tuscumbia and crossed the Tennessee.
27. The Tenth and Third crossed to the north side of the river, and Lieutenant-Colonel Burke of the Tenth applied the torch to the bridge; in a few minutes the fire extended along its whole length, and as we marched away, the flames were hissing among its timbers, and the smoke hung like a cloud above it.
28. Ordered to move to Stevenson. Took a freight train and proceeded to Bellefonte, where we found a bridge had been burned; leaving the cars we marched until twelve o'clock at night, and then bivouacked on the railroad track.