29. Resumed the march at daylight; one mile beyond Stevenson we found the Ninth Brigade, Colonel Sill, in line of battle; formed the Third in support of Loomis' Battery, and remained in this position until two in the afternoon, when General Mitchell arrived and ordered the Ninth Brigade, Loomis' Battery and my regiment to move forward. At Widow's creek we met a detachment of the enemy; a few shots from the battery and a volley from our skirmish line drove it back, and we hastened on toward Bridgeport, exchanging shots occasionally with the enemy on the way.
About five o'clock we formed in line of battle, on high ground in the woods, one-half mile from Bridgeport, the Third having the right of the column, and moved steadily forward until we came in sight of the town and the enemy. The order to double quick was then given, and we dashed into the village on a run. The enemy stood for a moment and then left as fast as legs could carry him; in fact he departed in such haste that but few muskets and one shot from a six pound gun were fired at us; one piece of his artillery was found still loaded. We captured fifty prisoners, a number of horses, two pieces of artillery and many muskets. The bridge over the Tennessee had already been filled with combustible material, and when the rear of the rebel column passed over the match was applied; the fire extended rapidly, and we found it impossible to proceed further.
The fright of the enemy was so great that, after getting beyond the river a mile or more, he threw away over a thousand muskets, and abandoned every thing that could impede his flight. Unfortunately, however, before a raft could be constructed to convey our troops across the river, the rebels recovered from their panic, backed down a railroad train, and gathered up most of their arms and camp equipage.
A little more coolness on the part of our troops would have enabled us to capture twenty-five or thirty cavalrymen, who came riding into Bridgeport, supposing it to be still in the hands of their friends. As they approached, a few scattering shots were fired at them by the excited soldiers, when they wheeled and succeeded in making their escape.
30. The troops are short of provisions; there is a grist mill near, but the owner claims that it is out of repair, and can not be put in running order for some days, as part of the machinery is missing. On inquiry, I found that the owner of the mill was a rebel, and that the missing machinery had probably been hidden by himself. I therefore said to him that if he did not have the mill going by noon, I would burn it down; by ten o'clock it was running, and at three in the afternoon we had an abundance of corn meal.
A detachment of the Third under Colonel Keifer crossed the river and reconnoitered the country beyond. It found no enemy, but returned to camp with an abundance of bacon—an article very greatly needed by our troops.
Started at nine o'clock P. M. for Stevenson; marched all night. Whenever we stopped on the way to rest, the boys would fall asleep on the roadside, and we found much difficulty in getting them through.
1. Moved to Bellefonte.
2. Took the cars for Huntsville.
At Paint Rock the train was fired upon, and six or eight men wounded. As soon as it could be done, I had the train stopped, and, taking a file of soldiers, returned to the village. The telegraph line had been cut, and the wire was lying in the street. Calling the citizens together, I said to them that this bushwhacking must cease. The Federal troops had tolerated it already too long. Hereafter every time the telegraph wire was cut we would burn a house; every time a train was fired upon we should hang a man; and we would continue to do this until every house was burned and every man hanged between Decatur and Bridgeport. If they wanted to fight they should enter the army, meet us like honorable men, and not, assassin-like, fire at us from the woods and run. We proposed to hold the citizens responsible for these cowardly assaults, and if they did not drive these bushwhackers from amongst them, we should make them more uncomfortable than they would be in hell. I then set fire to the town, took three citizens with me, returned to the train, and proceeded to Huntsville.
Paint Rock has long been a rendezvous for bushwhackers and bridge burners. One of the men taken is a notorious guerrilla, and was of the party that made the dash on our wagon train at Nashville.
The week has been an active one. On last Saturday night I slept a few hours on the bridge at Decatur. The next night I bivouacked in a cotton field; the next I lay from midnight until four in the morning on the railroad track; the next I slept at Bridgeport on the soft side of a board, and on the return to Stevenson I did not sleep at all. My health is excellent.
5. Captain Cunard was sent yesterday to Paint Rock to arrest certain parties suspected of burning bridges, tearing up the railroad track, and bushwhacking soldiers. To-day he returned with twenty-six prisoners.
General Mitchell is well pleased with my action in the Paint Rock matter. The burning of the town has created a sensation, and is spoken of approvingly by the officers and enthusiastically by the men. It is the inauguration of the true policy, and the only one that will preserve us from constant annoyance.
The General rode into our camp this evening, and made us a stirring speech, in which he dilated upon the rapidity of our movements and the invincibility of our division.
8. The road to Shelbyville is unsafe for small parties. Guerrilla bands are very active. Two or three of our supply trains have been captured and destroyed. Detachments are sent out every day to capture or disperse these citizen cut-throats.
10. Have been appointed President of a Board of Administration for the post of Huntsville. After an ineffectual effort to get the members of the Board together, I concluded to spend a day out of camp, the first for more than six months; so I strolled over to the hotel, took a bath, ate dinner, smoked, read, and slept until supper time, dispatched that meal, and returned to my quarters in the cool of the evening.
We have in our camp a superabundance of negroes. One of these, a Georgian, belonged to a captain of rebel cavalry, and fell into our hands at Bridgeport. Since that affair he has attached himself to me. The other negroes I do not know. In fact they are too numerous to mention. Whence they came or whither they are going it is impossible to say. They lie around contentedly, and are delighted when we give them an opportunity to serve us. All the colored people of Alabama are anxious to go "wid yer and wait on you folks." There are not fifty negroes in the South who would not risk their lives for freedom. The man who affirms that they are contented and happy, and do not desire to escape, is either a falsifier or a fool.
11. Attended divine service with Captain McDougal at the Presbyterian Church. The edifice is very fine. The audience was small; the sermon tolerable. Troubles, the preacher said, were sent to discipline us. The army was of God; they should, therefore, submit to it, not as slaves, but as Christians, just as they submitted to other distasteful and calamitous dispensations.
12. My letters from home have fallen into the hands of John Morgan. The envelopes were picked up in the road and forwarded to me. My wife should feel encouraged. It is not every body's letters that are pounced upon at midnight, taken at the point of the bayonet, and read by the flickering light of the camp-fire.
Moved at two o'clock this afternoon. Reached Athens after nightfall, and bivouacked on the Fair Ground.
13. Marched to Elk river. A great many negroes from the neighboring plantations came to see us, among them an elderly colored man, whose sanctimonious bearing indicated that he was a minister of the Gospel. The boys insisted that he should preach to them, and, after some hesitation, the old man mounted a stump, lined a hymn from memory, sang it, and then commenced his discourse. He had not proceeded very far when he uttered this sentence: "De good Lord He hab called me to preach de Gospil. Many sinners hab been wakened by my poor words to de new life. De Lord He hab been very kind to me, an' I can nebber pay Him fur all He done fur me."
"Never pay the Lord?" broke in the boys; "never pay the Lord? Oh! you wicked nigger! Just hear him! He says he is never going to pay the Lord!"
The preacher endeavored to explain: the kindness and mercy of the Lord had been so great that it was impossible for a poor sinner to make any sufficient return; but the boys would accept no explanation. "Here," they shouted, "is a nigger who will not pay the Lord!" and they groaned and cried, "Oh! Oh!" and swore that they never saw so wicked a man before. Fortunately for the poor colored man, a Dutchman began to interrogate him in broken English, and the two soon fell into a discussion of some point in theology, when the boys espoused the negro's side of the question, and insisted that the Dutchman was no match for him in argument. Finally, by groans and hisses, they compelled the Dutchman to abandon the controversy, leaving the colored man well pleased that he had vanquished his opponent and re-established himself in the good opinion of his hearers.
14. Resumed the march at two o'clock in the morning, and proceeded to a point known as the Lower Ferry. Ascertaining here that the enemy had recrossed the Tennessee, and was pushing southward, we abandoned pursuit and turned to retrace our steps to Huntsville. Leaving the regiment in command of Colonel Keifer, I accompanied General Mitchell on the return, and reached camp a little after dark.
16. Appointed Provost Marshal of the city. Have been busy hearing all sorts of complaints, signing passes for all sorts of persons, sending guards to this and that place in the city, and doing the numerous other things necessary to be done in a city under martial law. Captain Mitchell and Lieutenant Wilson are my assistants, and, in fact, do most of the work. The citizens say I am the youngest Governor they ever had.
17. Captain Mitchell and I were invited to a strawberry supper at Judge Lane's. Found General Mitchell and staff, Colonel Kennett, Lieutenant-Colonel Birdsall, and Captain Loomis, of the army, there. Mr. and Mrs. Judge Lane, Colonel and Major Davis, and a general, whose name I can not recall, were the only citizens present. General Mitchell monopolized the conversation. He was determined to make all understand that he was the greatest of living soldiers. Had his counsel prevailed, the Confederacy would have been knocked to pieces long ago. The evening was a very pleasant one.
A few days ago we had John Morgan utterly annihilated; but he seems to have gathered up the dispersed atoms and rebuilt himself. In the destruction of our supply trains he imagines, doubtless, that he is inflicting a great injury upon our division; but he is mistaken. The bread and meat we fail to get from the loyal States are made good to us from the smoke-houses and granaries of the disloyal. Our boys find Alabama hams better than Uncle Sam's sidemeat, and fresh bread better than hard crackers. So that every time this dashing cavalryman destroys a provision train, their hearts are gladdened, and they shout "Bully for Morgan!"
19. Rumor says that Richmond is in the hands of our troops; and from the same source we learn that a large force of the enemy is between us and Nashville. Fifteen hundred mounted men were within seventeen miles of Huntsville yesterday. A regiment with four pieces of artillery, under command of Colonel Lytle, was sent toward Fayetteville to look after them.
20. The busiest time in the Provost Marshal's office is between eight o'clock in the morning and noon. Then many persons apply for passes to go outside the lines and for guards to protect property. Others come to make complaints that houses have been broken open, or that horses, dogs, and negroes, have strayed away or been stolen.
23. The men of Huntsville have settled down to a patient endurance of military rule. They say but little, and treat us with all politeness. The women, however, are outspoken in their hostility, and marvelously bitter. A flag of truce came in last night from Chattanooga, and the bearers were overwhelmed with visits and favors from the ladies. When they took supper at the Huntsville Hotel, the large dining-room was crowded with fair faces and bright eyes; but the men prudently held aloof.
A day or two ago one of our Confederate prisoners died. The ladies filled the hearse to overflowing with flowers, and a large number of them accompanied the soldier to his last resting-place.
The foolish, yet absolute, devotion of the women to the Southern cause does much to keep it alive. It encourages, nay forces, the young to enter the army, and compels them to continue what the more sensible Southerners know to be a hopeless struggle. But we must not judge these Huntsville women too harshly. Here are the families of many of the leading men of Alabama; of generals, colonels, majors, captains, and lieutenants in the Confederate army; of men, even, who hold cabinet positions at Richmond, and of many young men who are clerks in the departments of the rebel Government. Their wives, daughters, sisters, and sweethearts feel, doubtless, that the honor of these gentlemen, and possibly their lives, depend upon the success of the Confederacy.
To-day two young negro men from Jackson county came in with their wives. They were newly married, and taking their wedding journey. The vision of a better and higher life had lured them from the old plantation where they were born. At midnight they had stolen quietly away, plodded many weary miles on foot, confident that the rainbow and the bag of gold were in the camp of the Federal army.
25. This in-door life has made me ill. I am as yellow as an orange. The doctors say I have the jaundice.
3. Have requested General Mitchell to relieve me from duty as Provost Marshal; am now wholly unfit to do business.
We have heard of the evacuation of Corinth. The simple withdrawal of the enemy amounts to but little, if anything; he still lives, is organized and ready to do battle on some other field.
5. Go home on sick leave.
* * * * *
25. There were three little girls on the Louisville packet, about the age of my own children. They were great romps. I said to one, "what is your name?" She replied "Pudin' an' tame." So I called her Pudin', and she became very angry, so angry indeed that she cried. The other little girls laughed heartily, and called her Pudin' also, and then asked my name. I answered John Smith; they insisted then that Pudin' was my wife, and called her Pudin' Smith. This made Pudin' furious, and she abused her companions and me terribly; but John Smith invested a little money in cherries, and thus pacified Pudin', and so got to Louisville without getting his hair pulled. I saw no more of Pudin' until she got off the cars at Elizabethtown. Going up to her, we shook hands, and I said, "Good-by, Pudin'." She hung her head for a moment, and tried to look angry, but finally breaking into a laugh she said, "I don't like you at all any way, good-by."
27. Reached Huntsville. The regiment in good condition, boys well; weather hot. General Buell arrived last night. McCook's Division is here; Nelson, Crittenden, and Wood on the road hither.
2. We know, or think we know, that a great battle has been fought near Richmond, but the result for some reason is withheld. We speculate, talk, and compare notes, but this makes us only the more eager for definite information.
I am almost as well as ever, not quite so strong, but a few days will make me right again.
3. It is exceedingly dull; we are resting as quietly and leisurely as we could at home. There are no drills, and no expeditions. The army is holding its breath in anxiety to hear from Richmond. If McClellan has been whipped, the country must in time know it; if successful, it would be rejoiced to hear it. Why, therefore, should the particulars, and even the result of the fighting, be suppressed. Rumor gives us a thousand conflicting stories of the battle, but rumor has many tongues and lies with all.
General Mitchell departed for Washington yesterday.
The rebels at Chattanooga claim that McClellan has been terribly whipped, and fired guns along their whole line, within hearing of our troops, in honor of the victory.
A lieutenant of the Nineteenth Illinois, who fell into the enemy's hands, has just returned on parole, and claims to have seen a dispatch from the Adjutant-General of the Southern Confederacy, stating that McClellan had been defeated and his army cut to pieces. He believes it.
My horse is as fat as a stall-fed ox. He has had a very easy time during my absence.
To-morrow is the Fourth, hitherto glorious, but now, like to-day's meridian sun, clouded, and sending out a somewhat uncertain light. Has the great experiment failed? Shall we hail the Fourth as the birthday of a great Nation, or weep over it as the beginning of a political enterprise which resulted in dissolution, anarchy and ruin? Let us lift up our eyes and be hopeful. The dawn may be even now breaking.
The boys propose to have a barbecue to-morrow, and roast a corpulent, good-natured Ethiopian, named Caesar. They are now discussing the matter very voluminously, in Caesar's presence. He thinks they are probably joking; but still they seem to be greatly in earnest, and he knows little of these Yankees, and thinks maybe his "massa tole him de truff about dem, after all." "The Fourth is a great day," the boys go on to say, "whereon Yankees always dine on roast nigger. It is a part of their religion. It is this which makes colored folks so scarce in the North." Shall Caesar be stuffed or not? That is really the only question. One party claims that if Caesar be stuffed with vegetables and nicely roasted, he will be delicious. The other party insists that Caesar is sufficiently stuffed already; vegetables would not improve him. They have eaten roast nigger both ways and know. So the discussion waxes hot, and the dusky Alabamian has some fear, even, that his last day may be drawing very near.
4. Thirty-four guns were fired at noon.
5. An Atlanta paper of the 1st instant says the Confederates have won a decisive victory at Richmond. No Northern papers have been allowed to come into camp.
6. McCook moved toward Chattanooga. General W. S. Smith has command of our division.
The boys have a great many game chickens. Not long ago Company G, of the Third, and Company G, of the Tenth, had a rooster fight, the stakes being fifteen dollars a side. After numerous attacks, retreats, charges, and counter-charges, the Tenth rooster succumbed like a hero, and the other was carried in triumph from the field. General Mitchell made his appearance near the scene at the conclusion of the conflict; but, supposing the crowd to be an enthusiastic lot of soldiers who were cheering him, passed on, well pleased with them and himself.
The boys have a variety of information from Richmond to-day. One party affirms that McClellan has been cut to pieces; that a dispatch to that effect has been received by General Buell. Another insists that he has obtained a decided advantage, and is heating the shot to burn Richmond; while still another affirms that he has utterly destroyed Richmond, and, Marius-like, is sitting amid the ruins of that ill-fated city, eating sow belly and doe-christers.
7. Am detailed to serve on court-martial.
DETAIL FOR THE COURT.
General James A. Garfield. Colonel Jacob Ammen. Colonel Curren Pope. Colonel Jones. Colonel Marc Mundy. Colonel Sedgewick. Colonel John Beatty.
Convened at Athens at ten o'clock this morning. Organized and adjourned to meet at ten to-morrow.
General Buell proposes, I understand, to give General Mitchell's administration of affairs in North Alabama a thorough overhauling. It is asserted that the latter has been interested in cotton speculations; but investigation, I am well satisfied, will show that General Mitchell has been strictly honest, and has done nothing to compromise his honor, or cast even the slightest shadow upon his good name.
The first case to be tried is that of Colonel J. B. Turchin, Nineteenth Illinois. He is charged with permitting his command, the Eighth Brigade, to steal, rob, and commit all manner of outrages.
10. Our court has been adjourning from day to day, until Colonel Turchin should succeed in procuring counsel; but it is now in full blast.
Nelson's division is quartered here. The town is enveloped in a dense cloud of dust.
14. There are many wealthy planters in this section. One of the witnesses before our court has a cotton crop on hand worth sixty thousand dollars. Another swears that Turchin's brigade robbed him of twelve hundred dollars' worth of silver plate.
Turchin's brigade has stolen a hundred thousand dollars' worth of watches, plate, and jewelry, in Northern Alabama. Turchin has gone to one extreme, for war can not justify the gutting of private houses and the robbery of peaceable citizens, for the benefit of individual officers or soldiers; but there is another extreme, more amiable and pleasant to look upon, but not less fatal to the cause. Buell is likely to go to that. He is inaugurating the dancing-master policy: "By your leave, my dear sir, we will have a fight; that is, if you are sufficiently fortified; no hurry; take your own time." To the bushwhacker: "Am sorry you gentlemen fire at our trains from behind stumps, logs, and ditches. Had you not better cease this sort of warfare? Now do, my good fellows, stop, I beg of you." To the citizen rebel: "You are a chivalrous people; you have been aggravated by the abolitionists into subscribing cotton to the Southern Confederacy; you had, of course, a right to dispose of your own property to suit yourselves, but we prefer that you would, in future, make no more subscriptions of that kind, and in the meantime we propose to protect your property and guard your negroes." Turchin's policy is bad enough; it may indeed be the policy of the devil; but Buell's policy is that of the amiable idiot. There is a better policy than either. It will neither steal nor maraud; it will do nothing for the sake of individual gain, and, on the other hand, it will not crouch to rebels; it will not fear to hurt the feelings of traitors; it will not fritter away the army and the revenue of the Government in the insane effort to protect men who have forfeited all right to protection. The policy we need is one that will march boldly, defiantly, through the rebel States, indifferent as to whether this traitor's cotton is safe, or that traitor's negroes run away; calling things by their right names; crushing those who have aided and abetted treason, whether in the army or out. In short, we want an iron policy that will not tolerate treason; that will demand immediate and unconditional obedience as the price of protection.
15. The post at Murfreesboro, occupied by two regiments of infantry and one battery, under Crittenden, of Indiana, has surrendered to the enemy. A bridge and a portion of the railroad track between this place and Pulaski have been destroyed. A large rebel force is said to be north of the Tennessee. It crossed the river at Chattanooga.
18. The star of the Confederacy appears to be rising, and I doubt not it will continue to ascend until the rose-water policy now pursued by the Northern army is superseded by one more determined and vigorous. We should look more to the interests of the North, and less to those of the South. We should visit on the aiders, abettors, and supporters of the Southern army somewhat of the severity which hitherto has been aimed at that army only. Who are most deserving of our leniency, those who take arms and go to the field, or those who remain at home, raising corn, oats, and bacon to subsist them? Plain people, who know little of constitutional hair-splitting, could decide this question only one way; but it seems those who have charge of our armies can not decide it in any sensible way. They say: "You would not disturb peaceable citizens by levying contributions from them?" Why not? If the husbands, brothers, and fathers of these people, their natural leaders and guardians, do not care for them, why should we? If they disregard and trample upon that law which gave all protection, and plunge the country into war, why should we be perpetually hindered and thwarted in our efforts to secure peace by our care for those whom they have abandoned? If we make the country through which we pass furnish supplies to our army, the inhabitants will have less to furnish our enemies. The surplus products of the country should be gathered into the Federal granaries, so that they could not, by possibility, go to feed the rebels. The loyal and innocent might occasionally and for the present suffer, but peace when once established would afford ample opportunity to investigate and repay these sufferers. Shall we continue to protect the property of our enemies, and lose the lives of our friends? It is said that it is hard to deprive men of their horses, cattle, grain, simply because they differ from us in opinion; but is it not harder still to deprive men of their lives for the same reason? The opinions from which we differ in this instance are treasonable. The man who, of his own free will, supplies the wood is no whit better than he who kindles the fire; and the man who supplies the ammunition neither better nor worse than he who does the killing. The severest punishment should be inflicted upon the soldier who appropriates either private or public property to his own use; but the Government should lay its mailed hand upon treasonable communities, and teach them that war is no holiday pastime.
19. Returned to Huntsville this afternoon; General Garfield with me. He will visit our quarters to-morrow and dine with us.
General Rousseau has been assigned to the command of our division. I am glad to hear that he discards the rose-water policy of General Buell under his nose, and is a great deal more thorough and severe in his treatment of rebels than General Mitchell. He sent the Rev. Mr. Ross to jail to-day for preaching a secession sermon last Sunday. He damns the rebel sympathizers, and says if the negro stands in the way of the Union he must get out. Rousseau is a Kentuckian, and it is very encouraging to learn that he talks as he does.
Turchin has been made a brigadier.
21. An order issued late last evening transferring our court from Athens to Huntsville.
Colonel Turchin's case is still before us. No official notice of his promotion has been communicated to the court.
23. Garfield and Ammen are our guests. They are sitting with Colonel Keifer, in the open air, in front of our tent. We have eaten supper, and Colonel Ammen has the floor; he always has it. He is somewhat superstitious. He never likes to see the moon through brush. He is to some extent a believer in dreams. On one occasion he dreamed that his father, who was drowned, came up from the muddy water, looked angrily at him, and endeavored to stab him with a rusty knife. In his effort to escape he awoke. Falling to sleep again, his father reappeared and made a second attempt to stab him. This so thoroughly aroused and troubled him that he could not sleep. In the morning he told this dream to a friend, and was informed that two members of his family would soon die. Soon after he was summoned home, when he found his mother dead and his sister dying of cholera. At another time he felt a sharp pain in the back of his neck, and was impressed with the idea that he had been shot. Soon afterward he learned that his brother in the South had been shot in the back of the neck and killed. He believes that his own sensation of pain was experienced at the very instant when his brother received the fatal wound; but as he could not remember the precise hour when he was startled by the disagreeable impression, he could not be positive that the occurrences were simultaneous. When going into battle at Greenbrier and at Shiloh, the belief that his time to die had not come rendered him cool and fearless. He never felt more at ease or more secure. So when, at two different times, he was very ill, and informed that he could not live through the night, he felt absolutely sure that he would recover.
Garfield had a very impressionable relative. The night before his fight with Humphrey Marshall, she wrote a very accurate general description of the battle, giving the position of the troops; referring to the reinforcements which came up, and the great shout with which they were welcomed.
These mysterious impressions suggested the existence of an undiscovered, or possibly an undeveloped principle in nature, which time and investigation would ultimately make familiar.
Colonel Ammen says, "If superstition, or a belief in the supernatural, is an indication of weakness, Napoleon and Sir Walter Scott were the weakest of men."
With General Garfield I called on General Rousseau this morning. He is a larger and handsomer man than Mitchell, but I think lacks the latter's energy, culture, system, and industry.
24. We can not boast of what is occurring in this department. The tide seems to have set against us every-where. The week of battles before Richmond was a week of defeats. I trust the new policy indicated by the confiscation act, just passed by Congress, will have good effect. It will, at least, enable us to weaken the enemy, as we have not thus far done, and strengthen ourselves, as we have hitherto not been able to do. Slavery is the enemy's weak point, the key to his position. If we can tear down this institution, the rebels will lose all interest in the Confederacy, and be too glad to escape with their lives, to be very particular about what they call their rights.
Colonel Ammen has just received notice of his confirmation as brigadier. He is a strange combination of simplicity and wisdom, full of good stories, and tells those against himself with a great deal more pleasure than any others.
Colonels Turchin, Mihalotzy, Gazley, and Captain Edgerton form a group by the window; all are smoking vigorously, and speculating probably on the result of the present and prospective trials. Mihalotzy is what is commonly termed "Dutch;" but whether he is from the German States, Russia, Prussia, or Poland, I know not.
Ammen left camp early this morning, saying he would go to town and see if he could find an idea, he was pretty nearly run out. He talks incessantly; his narratives abound in episode, parenthesis, switches, side-cuts, and before he gets through, one will conclude a dozen times that he has forgotten the tale he entered upon, but he never does.
Colonel Stanley, Eighteenth Ohio, has just come in. He has in his time been a grave and reverend senator of Ohio; he never loses sight of this fact, and never fails to impress it upon those with whom he comes in contact.
An order has just been issued, and is now being circulated among the members of the court, purporting to come from General Ammen, and signed with his name. It recites the fact of his promotion, and forbids any one hereafter to call him Uncle Jacob, that title being entirely too familiar and undignified for one of his rank. All who violate the order are threatened with the direst punishment.
The General says if such orders please the court, he will not object to their being issued; it certainly requires but very little ability to get them up.
The General prides himself on what he calls delicate irony. He says, in the town of Ripley, men who can not manage a dray successfully criticise the conduct of this and that general with great severity; when they appeal to him, he tells them quietly he has not the capacity to judge of such matters; it requires a great mind and a thorough understanding of all the circumstances.
After all I have said about General Ammen, it is hardly necessary to remark that he does most of the talking.
To-day Garfield and Keifer, who of course entertain the kindliest feelings, and the greatest respect for the General, in a spirit of fun, entered into a conspiracy against him. They proposed for one night to do all the talking themselves, and not allow him to edge in even a word. After supper Garfield was to commence with the earliest incidents of his childhood, and without allowing himself to be interrupted, continue until he had given a complete narrative of his life and adventures; then Keifer was to strike in and finish up the night. General Ammen was not to be permitted to open his mouth except to yawn.
We ate supper and immediately adjourned to the adjoining tent. Before Garfield was fairly seated on his camp stool, he began to talk with the easy and deliberate manner of a man who had much to say. He dwelt eloquently on the minutest details of his early life, as if they were matters of the utmost importance. Keifer was not only an attentive listener, but seemed wonderfully interested. Uncle Jacob undertook to thrust in a word here and there, but Garfield was too much absorbed to notice him, and so pushed on steadily, warming up as he proceeded. Unfortunately for his scheme, however, before he had gone far he made a touching reference to his mother, when Uncle Jacob, gesticulating energetically, and with his forefinger leveled at the speaker, cried: "Just a word—just one word right there," and so persisted until Garfield was compelled either to yield or be absolutely discourteous. The General, therefore, got in his word; nay, he held the floor for the remainder of the evening. The conspirators made brave efforts to put him down and cut him off, but they were unsuccessful. At midnight, when Keifer and I left, he was still talking; and after we had got into bed, he, with his suspenders dangling about his legs, thrust his head into our tent-door, and favored us with the few observations we had lost by reason of our hasty departure. Keifer turned his face to the wall and groaned. Poor man! he had been hoisted by his own petard. I think Uncle Jacob suspected that the young men had set up a job on him.
The regiment went on a foraging expedition yesterday, under Colonel Keifer, and was some fifteen miles from Huntsville, in the direction of the Tennessee river.
At one o'clock last night our picket was confronted by about one hundred and fifty of the enemy's cavalry; but no shots were exchanged.
29. The rebel cavalry were riding in the mountains south of us last night. A heavy mounted patrol of our troops was making the rounds at midnight. There was some picket firing along toward morning; but nothing occurred of importance.
Our forces are holding the great scope of country between Memphis and Bridgeport, guarding bridges, railroads, and towns, frittering away the strength of a great army, and wasting our men by permitting them to be picked up in detail. In short, we put down from fifty to one hundred, here and there, at points convenient to the enemy, as bait for them. They take the bait frequently, and always when they run no risk of being caught. The climate, and the insane effort to garrison the whole country, consumes our troops, and we make no progress. May the good Lord be with us, and deliver us from idleness and imbecility; and especially, O! Lord, grant a little every-day sense—that very common sense which plain people use in the management of their business affairs—to the illustrious generals who have our armies in hand!
30. We have just concluded Colonel Turchin's case, and forwarded the proceedings to General Buell.
General Ammen for many years belonged to a club, the members of which were required either to sing a song or tell a story. He could not sing, and, consequently, took to stories, and very few can tell one better. The General is a member of the Episcopal Church, and, although a pious man, emphasizes his language occasionally by an oath. When conducting his brigade from the boat at Pittsburg Landing to position on the field, he was compelled to pass through the immense crowd of skedaddlers who had sought shelter under the bluffs from the storm of bullets. A chaplain of one of the disorganized regiments was haranguing the mob in what may be termed the whangdoodle style: "Rally, men; rally, and we may yet be saved. O! rally! For God and your country's sake rally! R-a-l-l-y! O-h! r-a-l-l-y around the flag of your c-o-w-n-try, my c-o-wn-tryme-n!" "Shut up, you God damned old fool!" said Ammen, "or I'll break your head! Get out of the way!"
General Garfield is lying on the lounge unwell. He has an attack of the jaundice, and will, I think, start home to-morrow.
I find an article on the tables of the South, which, with coffee, I like very much. The wheat dough is rolled very thin, cut in strips the width of a table-knife, and about as long, baked until well done; if browned, all the better. They become crisp and brittle, and better than the best of crackers.
31. General Ammen is so interesting to me that I can not avoid talking about him, especially when items are scarce, as they are now. Our court takes a recess at one, and assembles again at half-past three, giving us two hours and a half for dinner. To-day the conversation turned on the various grasses North and South. After the General had described the peculiar grasses of many sections, he drifted to the people South who lived on farms, where he had seen a variety of grass unknown in the North, and the following story was told:
In the part of Mississippi where he resided for a number of years, there lived a Northern family named Greenfield. When he was there the farm was known as the Greenfield farm. It was the peculiar grass on this farm which suggested the story. The Greenfields were Quakers, originally from Philadelphia. One of the wealthiest members of the family was a little weazen-faced old maid, of fifty years or more. Her overseer was a large, fine looking young man named Roach. After he had been in her service a year she took a fancy to him, and proposed to give him twenty thousand dollars if he would marry her. He accepted, and they were duly married. A year after she grew tired of wedlock, and proposed to give thirty thousand dollars to be unmarried. He accepted this proposition also. They united in a petition for a divorce and obtained it. Roach took the fifty thousand dollars thus made and invested it in the Yazoo country. The property increased in value rapidly, and he soon became a millionaire. When General Ammen saw him, he had married again more to his liking, and was one of the prominent men in his section.
The farm of the Gillyards lay near that of the Greenfields, and this suggested another story. A Miss Gillyard was a great heiress; owned plantations in Mississippi, and an interest in a large estate in South Carolina. A doctor of prepossessing appearance came from the latter State, and commenced practice in the neighborhood, and an acquaintance of a few months resulted in a marriage. After living together a year very happily, they started on a visit to South Carolina; she to visit relatives and look after her interest in the estate mentioned, and he to see his friends. On the way it was agreed that he should attend to his wife's business, and so full power to sell or dispose of the property, or her interest therein, was given him. At Charleston she was met by the relatives with whom she was to remain, while the Doctor proceeded to a different part of the State to see his friends, and afterward attend to business. When about to separate, like a jolly soul, he proposed that they should drink to each other's health during the separation. The wine was produced; they touched glasses, and raised them to their lips, when the door opened suddenly and the Doctor was called. Setting his wine on the table, he stepped out of the room, and the wife, more affectionate, possibly, than most women, took the glass which his lips had touched and put her own in its place. The husband reappeared shortly, and they drank off the wine. In an hour he was dead, and she in the deepest affliction. After she had recovered somewhat from the shock, she left Charleston to visit his people. She found them poor, and that he had a wife and three children. The truth then broke in upon her; he had drank the wine prepared for her.
This story suggested one involving some of Miss Gillyard's relations.
Two lady cousins resided in the same town. The father of one had amassed a handsome fortune in the tailoring business. The father of the other had been a saddler, and, carrying on the business extensively, had also become wealthy. The descendant of the saddler would refer to her cousin's father as the tailor, and intimate that his calling was certainly not that of a gentleman. The other hearing of this, and meeting her one evening at a large party, said: "Cousin Julia, I hear that you have said my father was nothing but a tailor. Now, this is true; he was a tailor, and a very good one, too. By his industry and judgment he made a large fortune, which I am enjoying. I respect him; am grateful, and not ashamed of him, if he was a tailor. Your father was a saddler, and a very good one. He, by industry and good management, accumulated great wealth, which you are enjoying. I see no reason, therefore, why we should not both be proud of our fathers, and I certainly can see no reason why a man-tailor should not be just as good as a horse-tailor."
1. The Judge-Advocate, Captain Swayne, was unwell this morning. The court, therefore, took a recess until three o'clock. Captain Edgerton's case was disposed of last evening. Colonel Mihalotzy's will come before us to-day. A court-martial proceeds always with due respect to red tape. The questions to witnesses are written out; the answers are written down; the statement of the accused is in writing, and the defense of the accused's counsel is written; so that the court snaps its fingers at time, as if it were of no consequence, and seven men, against whom there are no charges, are likely to spend their natural lives in investigating seven men, more or less, against whom there are charges. It is thus the rebels are being subjugated, the Union re-united, the Constitution and the laws enforced.
3. Among the curiosities in camp are two young coons and a pet opossum. The latter is the property of Augustus Caesar, the esquire of Adjutant Wilson. Caesar restrains the opossum with a string, and looks forward with great pleasure to the time when he will be fat enough to eat. The coons are just now playing on the wild cherry tree in front of my tent, and several colored boys are watching them with great interest. One of these, a native Alabamian, tells me "de coon am a great fiter; he can wip a dog berry often; but de possum can wip de coon, for he jist takes one holt on de coon, goes to sleep, an' nebber lets go; de coon he scratch an' bite, but de possum he nebber min'; he keeps his holt, shuts his eyes, and bimeby de coon he knocks under. De she coon am savager dan de he coon. I climbed a tree onct, an' de she coon come out ob her hole mitey savage, an' I leg go, an' tumbled down to de groun', and like ter busted my head. De she coon am berry savage. De possum can't run berry fast, but de coon can run faster'n a dog. You can tote a possum, but you can't tote a coon, he scratch an' bite so."
The gentlemen of the South have a great fondness for jewelry, canes, cigars, and dogs. Out of forty white men thirty-nine, at least, will have canes, and on Sunday the fortieth will have one also. White men rarely work here. There are, it is true, tailors, merchants, saddlers, and jewelers, but the whites never drive teams, work in the fields, or engage in what may be termed rough work.
Judging from the number of stores and present stocks, Huntsville, in the better times, does a heavier retail jewelry business than Cleveland or Columbus. Every planter, and every wealthy or even well-to-do man, has plate. Diamonds, rings, gold watches, chains, and bracelets are to be found in every family. The negroes buy large amounts of cheap jewelry, and the trade in this branch is enormous. One may walk a whole day in a Northern city without seeing a ruffled shirt. Here they are very common.
The case of Colonel Mihalotzy was concluded to-day.
5. General Ammen was a teacher for years at West Point, at Natchez, Mississippi, in Kentucky, Indiana, and recently at Ripley, Ohio. He has devoted particular attention to the education of children, and has no confidence in the usual mode of teaching them. He labors to strengthen or cultivate, first: attention, and to this end never allows their interest in anything to flag; whenever he discovers that their minds have become weary of a subject, he takes the book from them and turns their thought in a new direction. Nor does he allow their attention to be divided between two or three objects at the same time. By his method they acquire the power to concentrate their whole mind upon a given subject. The next thing to be cultivated is observation; teach them to notice whatever may be around, and describe it. What did you see when you came up street? The child may answer a pig. What is a pig, how did it look, describe it. Saw a man, did you? Was he large or small? How was he dressed? A room? What is a room? Thus will they be taught to observe everything, and to talk about what they observe, and learn not only to think but to express their thoughts. He often amuses them by what he terms opposites. To illustrate: He will say "black," the child will answer "white." Long, short; good, bad; heavy, light; dark, light. "What kind of light," he will ask, "is that kind which is the opposite of heavy?" Here is a puzzle for them. Next in importance to observation, and to be strengthened at the same time, is the memory. They are required to learn little pieces; short stories perhaps, or songs that their minds can comprehend; not too long, for neither the memory nor the attention should be overtaxed.
7. As General Ammen and I were returning to camp this evening, we were joined by Colonel Fry, of General Buell's staff, who informed us that General Robert McCook was murdered, near Winchester, yesterday, by a small band of guerrillas. McCook was unwell, riding in an ambulance some distance in advance of the column; while stopping in front of a farm-house to make some enquiry, the guerrillas made a sudden dash, the escort fled, and McCook was killed while lying in the ambulance defenseless. When the Dutchmen of his old regiment learned of the unfortunate occurrence they became uncontrollable, and destroyed the buildings and property on five plantations near the scene of the murder. McCook had recently been promoted for gallantry at Mill Springs. He was a brave, bluff, talented man, and his loss will be sorely felt.
Captain Mitchell started home in charge of a recruiting party this morning. I am anxious to fill the regiment to a thousand strong.
8. General Ammen was at Buell's quarters this evening, and ascertains that hot work is expected soon. The enemy is concentrating a heavy force between Bridgeport and Chattanooga.
The night is exceedingly beautiful; our camp lies at the foot of a low range of mountains called the Montesano; the sky seems supported by them. A cavalry patrol is just coming down the road, on its return to camp, and the men are singing:
"An exile from home, splendor dazzles in vain, Oh! give me my lowly thatched cottage again; The birds singing gayly, that came at my call, Give me them, with the peace of mind dearer than all. Home, home, sweet home, there is no place like home; There is no place like home."
9. I have sometimes wondered how unimportant occurrences could suggest so much, but the faculty of association brings similar things before the mind, and a thousand collateral subjects as well. The band of the Tenth Ohio is playing. Where, and under what circumstances, have I heard other bands? The question carries my thoughts into half the States of the Union, into a multitude of places, into an innumerable variety of scenes—faces, conversations, theatres, balls, speeches, songs—the chain is endless, and it might be followed for a lifetime.
10. The enemy, a thousand strong, is said to be within five miles of us. One hundred and sixty-five men of the Third, under Major Lawson, and five companies of cavalry, the whole commanded by Colonel Kennett, left at two o'clock to reconnoiter the front; they will probably go to the river unless the enemy is met on the way.
A negro came in about four o'clock to report that the enemy's pickets were at his master's house, five miles from here, at the foot of the other slope of the mountain. He was such an ignorant fellow that his report was hardly intelligible. We sent him back, telling him to bring us more definite information. He was a field hand, bare-footed, horny-handed, and very black, but he knew all about "de mountings; dey can't kotch him nohow. If de sesesh am at Massa Bob's when I git back, I come to-night an' tell yer all." With these words, this poor proprietor of a dilapidated pair of pants and shirt, started over the mountains. What are his thoughts about the war, and its probable effects on his own fortunes, as he trudges along over the hills? Is it the desire for freedom, or the dislike for his overseer, that prompts him to run five miles of a Sunday to give this information? Possibly both.
Caesar said to the Adjutant, "Massa Wilson, may I go to church?" "What do you want to go church for, Caesar?" "To hear de Gospel." One day Caesar said to me, "Co'nel, you belongs to de meetin don't you?" "Why so, Caesar?" "Kase I nebber heard you swar any."
To-day one of the pet coons got after a chicken. A young half-naked negro took after the coon; and a long and crooked chase the chicken, coon, and negro had of it.
12. At five o'clock the members of the court met to say good-by, and drink a dozen bottles of Scotch ale at General Ammen's expense. This was quite a spree for the General, and quite his own spree. It was a big thing, equal almost to the battle of "Shealoh." They were pint bottles, and the General would persist in acting upon the theory that one bottle would fill all our glasses. Seeing the glasses empty he would call for another bottle, and say to us, "Gentlemen, I have ordered another bottle." The General evidently drinks, when he imbibes at all, simply to be social, and a thimble-full would answer his purpose as well as a barrel.
The court called on General Buell; he is cold, smooth-toned, silent, the opposite of Nelson, who is ardent, loud-mouthed, and violent.
17. Colonel Keifer has just received a telegram informing him that he has been appointed Colonel of the One Hundred and Tenth Ohio. I regret his departure too much to rejoice over his promotion. He has been a faithful officer, always prompt and cheerful; much better qualified to command the regiment than its Colonel.
Watermelons, peaches, nectarines, are abundant. Peaches thrive better in this climate than apples. I have eaten almost the whole of a watermelon to-day, and am somewhat satiated. The melon had a cross (+) on the rind. I enquired of the negro who brought it in, what the mark meant, and he replied, "de patch war owned principally by a good many niggars, sah, an' dey dewided dem afore day got ripe, an' put de mark on de rine, to show dat de p'tic'lar melon belonged to a p'tic'lar niggar, sah."
Governor Tod is damaging the old regiments by injudicious promotions. He does in some instances, it is true, reward faithful soldiers; but often complaining, unwilling, incompetent fellows are promoted, who get upon the sick list to avoid duty; lay upon their backs when they should be on their feet, and are carousing when they should be asleep. On the march, instead of pushing along resolutely at the head of their command, they fall back and get into an ambulance. The troops have no confidence in them; their presence renders a whole company worthless, and this company contributes greatly to the demoralization of a regiment.
22. A little vine has crept into my tent and put out a handsome flower.
General Buell and staff, with bag and baggage, left this morning.
25. Ordered to move.
29. We are at Decherd, Tennessee. I am weak, discouraged, and worn out with idleness.
The negroes are busily engaged throwing up earth works and building stockades. To-night, as they were in line, I stopped a moment to hear the sergeant call the roll, "Scipio McDonald." "Here I is, sah." "Caesar—Caesar McDonald." "Caesar was 'sleep las' I saw ob him, sah." These negroes take the family name of their masters.
The whole army is concentrated here, or near here; but nobody knows anything, except that the water is bad, whisky scarce, dust abundant, and the air loaded with the scent and melody of a thousand mules. These long-eared creatures give us every variety of sound of which they are capable, from the deep bass bray to the most attenuated whinny.
The Thirty-third Ohio was shelled out of its fortifications at Battle creek yesterday. Colonel Moore is in the adjoining tent, giving an account of his trials and tribulations to Shanks of the New York Herald.
Fifty of the Third, under Lieutenant Carpenter, went to Stevenson yesterday; on their return they were fired upon by guerrillas. Jack Boston shot a man and captured a horse.
4. Army has fallen back to Murfreesboro.
5. At Nashville.
6. To-night we cross the Cumberland.
7. Bivouacked in Edgefield, at the north end of the railroad bridge. Troops pouring over the bridge and pushing North rapidly. One of Loomis' men was shot dead last night while attempting to run by a sentinel.
10. The moving army with its immense transportation train, raises such a cloud of dust that it is impossible to see fifty yards ahead.
11. Arrived at Bowling Green. The two armies are running a race for the Ohio river. At this time Bragg has the lead.
3. At Taylorsville, Kentucky. Our first day's march out of Louisville was disagreeable beyond precedent. The boys had been full of whisky for three days, and fell out of the ranks by scores. The road for sixteen miles was lined with stragglers. The new men bore the march badly. Rain fell yesterday afternoon and during the night; I awoke at three o'clock this morning to find myself lying in a puddle of water. A soldier of Captain Rossman's company was wrestling with another, and being thrown, died almost instantly from the effect of the fall.
4. At Bloomfield. Shelled the rebels out of the woods in which we are now bivouacking, and picked up a few prisoners. The greater part of the rebel army is, we are told, at Bardstown—twelve miles away.
5. Still at Bloomfield, in readiness to move at a moment's notice.
7. Moved to Maxville, and bivouacked for the night.
8. Started in the early morning toward Perryville. The occasional boom of guns at the front notified us that the enemy was not far distant. A little later the rattle of musketry mingled with the roar of artillery, and we knew the vanguard was having lively work. The boys marched well and were in high spirits; the long-looked for battle appeared really near, and that old notion that the Third was fated never to see a fight seemed now likely to be exploded. At ten o'clock we were hastened forward and placed in battle line on the left of the Maxville and Perryville road; the cavalry in our front appeared to be seriously engaged, and every eye peered eagerly through the woods to catch a glimpse of the enemy. But in a little while the firing ceased, and with a feeling of disappointment the boys lounged about on the ground and logs awaiting further orders.
They came very soon. At 11 A. M. the Third was directed to take the head of the column and move forward. We anticipated no danger, for Rousseau and his staff were in advance of us, followed by Lytle and his staff. The regiment was marching by the flank, and had proceeded to the brow of the hill overlooking a branch of the Chaplin river, and was about to descend into the valley, when the enemy's artillery opened in front with great fury. Rousseau and his staff wheeled suddenly out of the road to the left, accompanied by Lytle. After a moment spent by them in consultation, I was ordered to countermarch my regiment to the bottom of the hill we had just ascended, and file off to the right of the road.
Loomis' and Simonson's Batteries were soon put in position, and began to reply to the enemy. A furious interchange of shell and solid shot occurred, but after a little while our batteries ceased firing, and we had comparative silence.
About 2 o'clock the rebel infantry was seen advancing across the valley, and I ordered the Third to ascend the hill and take position on the crest. The enemy's batteries now reopened with redoubled fury, and the air seemed filled with shot and exploding shells. Finding the rebels were still too far away to make our muskets effective, I ordered the boys to lie down and await their nearer approach. They advanced under cover of a house on the side hill, and having reached a point one hundred and fifty yards distant, deployed behind a stone fence which was hidden from us by standing corn. At this time the left of my regiment rested on the Maxville and Perryville road; the line extending along the crest of the hill, and the right passing somewhat behind a barn filled with hay. In this position, with the enemy's batteries pouring upon us a most destructive fire, the Third arose and delivered its first volley. For a time, I do not know how long thereafter, it seemed as if all hell had broken loose; the air was filled with hissing balls; shells were exploding continuously, and the noise of the guns was deafening; finally the barn on the right took fire, and the flames bursting from roof, windows, doors, and interstices between the logs, threw the right of the regiment into disorder; the confusion, however, was but temporary. The boys closed up to the left, steadied themselves on the colors, and stood bravely to the work. Nearly two hundred of my five hundred men now lay dead and wounded on the little strip of ground over which we fought.
Colonel Curren Pope, of the Fifteenth Kentucky, whose regiment was being held in reserve at the bottom of the hill, had already twice requested me to retire my men and allow him to take the position. Finding now that our ammunition was exhausted, I sent him notice, and as his regiment marched to the crest the Third was withdrawn in as perfect order, I think, as it ever moved from the drill-ground. The Fifteenth made a gallant fight, and lost heavily both in officers and men; in fact, the Lieutenant-Colonel and Major fell mortally wounded while it was moving into position. Colonel Pope was also wounded, but not so seriously as to prevent his continuing in command. The enemy getting now upon its right and rear, the regiment was compelled to retire from the crest.
After consultation with Colonel Pope, it was determined to move our regiments to the left, and form a line perpendicular to the one originally taken, and thus give protection to the rear and right of the troops on our left. The enemy observing this movement, and accepting it as an indication of withdrawal, advanced rapidly toward us, when I about faced my regiment, and ordered the men to fix bayonets and move forward to meet him; but before we had proceeded many yards, I was overtaken by Lieutenant Grover, of Colonel Lytle's staff, with an order to retire.
Turning into a ravine a few rods distant, we found an ammunition wagon, and, under a dropping fire from the enemy, refilled our empty cartridge boxes. Ascertaining while here that Colonel Lytle was certainly wounded, and probably killed, I reported at once for duty to Colonel Len. Harris, commanding Ninth Brigade of our division; but night soon thereafter put an end to the engagement.
We bivouacked in a corn-field. The regiment had grown suddenly small. It was a sorry night for us indeed. Every company had its long list of killed, wounded, and missing. Over two hundred were gone. Nearly two hundred, we felt quite sure, had fallen dead or disabled on the field. Many eyes were in tears, and many hearts were bleeding for lost comrades and dear friends. General Rousseau rides up in the darkness, and, as we gather around him, says, in a voice tremulous with emotion: "Boys of the Third, you stood in that withering fire like men of iron." They did.
They are thirsty and hungry. Few, however, think either of food or water. Their thoughts are on the crest of that little hill, where Cunard, McDougal, St. John, Starr, and scores of others lie cold in death. They think of the wounded and suffering, and speak to each other of the terrible ordeal through which they have passed, with bated breath and in solemn tones, as if a laugh, or jest, or frivolous word, would be an insult to the slain.
They have long sought for a battle, and often been disappointed and sore because they failed to find one; but now, for the first time, they really realize what a battle is. They see it is to men what an arctic wind is to autumn leaves, and are astonished to find that any have outlived the furious storm of deadly missiles.
The enemy is in the woods before us, and as the sentinels occasionally exchange shots, we can see the flash of their guns and hear the whistle of bullets above our heads. The two armies are too near to sleep comfortably, or even safely, so the boys cling to their muskets and keep ready for action. It is a long night, but it finally comes to an end.
9. The enemy has disappeared, and we go to the hill where our fight occurred. Within the compass of a few rods we find a hundred men of the Third and Fifteenth lying stiff and cold. Beside these there are many wounded, whom we pick up tenderly, carry off and provide for. Men are already digging trenches, and in a little while the dead are gathered together for interment. We have looked upon such scenes before; but then the faces were strange to us. Now they are the familiar faces of intimate personal friends, to whom we are indebted for many kindly acts. We hear convulsive sobs, see eyes swollen and streaming with tears, and as our fallen comrades are deposited in their narrow grave, the lines of Wolfe recur to us:
"No useless coffin inclosed his breast; Not in sheet or in shroud we wound him, But he lay like a warrior taking his rest, With his martial cloak around him.
* * * * *
Slowly and sadly we laid him down From the field of his fame fresh and gory; We carved not a line, we raised not a stone, But left him alone with his glory."
13. We are in a field near Harrodsburg. Moved yesterday from Perryville. We are without tents. Rain is falling, and the men uncomfortable.
Many, perhaps most, of the boys of the regiment disliked me thoroughly. They thought me too strict, too rigid in the enforcement of orders; but now they are, without exception, my fast friends. During the battle of Chaplin Hills, while the enemy's artillery was playing upon us with terrible effect, I ordered them to lie down. The shot, shell, and canister came thick as hail, hissing, exploding, and tearing up the ground around us. There was a universal cry from the boys that I should lie down also; but I continued to walk up and down the line, watching the approaching enemy, and replied to their entreaties, "No; it is my time to stand guard now, and I will not lie down."
Meeting Captain Loomis yesterday, he said: "Do you know you captured a regiment at Chaplin Hills?" "I do not." "Yes, you captured the Third. You have not a man now who wouldn't die for you."
I have been too much occupied of late to record even the most interesting and important events. I should like to preserve the names of the private soldiers who behaved like heroes in the battle; but I have only time to mention the fact that our colors changed hands seven times during the engagement. Six of our color bearers were either killed or wounded, and as the sixth man was falling, a soldier of Company C, named David C. Walker, a boyish fellow, whose cheeks were ruddy as a girl's, and who had lost his hat in the fight, sprang forward, caught the falling flag, then stepping out in front of the regiment, waved it triumphantly, and carried it to the end of the battle.
On the next morning I made him color bearer, and undertook to thank him for his gallantry, but my eyes filled and voice choked, and I was unable to articulate a word. He understood me, doubtless.
If it had not been for McCook's foolish haste, it is more than probable that Bragg would have been most thoroughly whipped and utterly routed. As it was, two or three divisions had to contend for half a day with one of the largest and best disciplined of the Confederate armies, and that, too, when our troops in force were lying but a few miles in the rear, ready and eager to be led into the engagement. The whole affair is a mystery to me. McCook is, doubtless, to blame for being hasty; but may not Buell be censurable for being slow? And may it not be true that this butchery of men has resulted from the petty jealousies existing between the commanders of different army corps and divisions?
19. Encamped in a broken, hilly field, five miles south of Crab Orchard. From Perryville to this place, there has been each day occasional cannonading; but this morning I have heard no guns. The Cumberland mountains are in sight. We are pushing forward as fast probably as it is possible for a great army to move. Buell is here superintending the movement.
24. In the woods near Lebanon, and still without tents. Bragg has left Kentucky, and is thought to be hastening toward Nashville. We shall follow him. Having now twice traveled the road, the march is likely to prove tedious and uninteresting. The army has been marching almost constantly for two months, and bivouacking at night with an insufficiency of clothing.
The troops are lying in an immense grove of large beech. We have had supper, and a very good one, by the way: pickled salmon, currant jelly, fried ham, butter, coffee, and crackers. It is now long after nightfall, and the forest is aglow with a thousand camp-fires. The hum of ten thousand voices strikes the ear like the roar of a distant sea. A band away off to the right is mingling its music with the noise, and a mule now and then breaks in with a voice not governed by any rules of melody known to man.
9. In camp at Sinking Spring, Kentucky. Thomas commands the Fourteenth Army Corps, consisting of Rousseau's, Palmer's, Dumont's, Negley's, and Fry's divisions; say 40,000 men. McCook has Sill's, Jeff C. Davis', and Granger's; say 24,000. Crittenden has three divisions, say 24,000. A large army, which ought to sweep to Mobile without difficulty.
Sinking Spring, as it is called by some, Mill Spring by others, and by still others Lost river, is quite a large stream. It rises from the ground, runs forty rods or more, enters a cave, and is lost. The wreck of an old mill stands on its banks. Bowling Green is three miles southward.
When we get a little further south, we shall find at this season of the year persimmons and opossums in abundance. Jack says: "Possum am better dan chicken. In de fall we hunt de possum ebbery night 'cept Sunday. He am mitey good an' fat, sah; sometimes he too fat."
We move at ten o'clock to-morrow.
11. We have settled down at Mitchellville for a few days. After dinner Furay and I rode six miles beyond this, on the road to Nashville, to the house of a Union farmer whose acquaintance I made last spring. The old gentleman was very glad to see us, and insisted upon our remaining until after supper. In fact, he urged us to stay all night; but we consented to remain for supper only, and would not allow him to put our horses in the stable.
We learned that a little over a week ago the rebels endeavored to enforce the conscription law in this neighborhood, and one of Mr. Baily's sons was notified to appear at Gallatin to enter the Southern army. He was informed that if he did not appear voluntarily at the appointed time, he would be taken, either dead or alive. He did not go, and since has been constantly on the watch, expecting the guerrilla bands, which rendezvous at Tyree Springs, ten miles distant, to come for the purpose of taking him away. When, therefore, he saw Furay and me galloping up to the house, he mounted his horse and rode for the woods as fast as his steed could carry him. After we had been there half an hour, he returned, and, while shaking hands with us, said: "You scared me out of a full year's growth."
Morgan, with a force, the strength of which is variously estimated, passed near this a few days ago. Many of Mr. Baily's neighbors are members of the guerrilla bands, and all of them willing spies and informers.
We had a splendid supper: chicken, pork, ham, milk, pumpkin pie; in short, there was every thing on the table that a hungry man could desire.
I had introduced Mr. Furay as the correspondent of the Cincinnati Gazette; but the good folks, not understanding this long title exactly, dubbed him Doctor. There were three strapping girls in the family, who did not make their appearance until they had taken time to put on their Sunday clothes. To one of these the Doctor paid special attention, and finally won his way so far into her good favor as to induce her to play him a tune on the dulcimer, an abominable instrument, which she pounded with two little sticks. The Doctor declared that the music was good—excellent—charming. He now attempts to get out of this outrageous falsehood by affirming that he referred simply to the air—the tune—and not to the manner in which it was executed by the young lady. This, however, is a mere quibble.
It was quite dark when we said good-by to this kind-hearted, excellent family, and started on our way back to camp. The woods were on fire for miles along the road. Many fences and farm buildings had caught. One large house tumbled in as we were passing, and the fences, out-buildings, and trees were all enveloped in flames. While riding slowly forward, and looking back upon the dense cloud of smoke, the flames stretching as far almost as the eye could reach, the dry trees standing up like immense pillars of fire, we were startled not a little by the sentinel's challenge, "Halt!" There had been no pickets on the road when we were going out, and we were, therefore, uncertain whether the challenge came from our own men or those of John Morgan. "Who comes there?" continued the sentinel. "Friends." "Advance friends, and give the countersign." Going up to the sentinel, I told him who we were, and that we had not the countersign. After a little delay, the officer of the guard came and allowed us to proceed.
12. To-day farmer Baily came to see us. I sent his good wife a haversack of coffee, to remunerate her somewhat for the excellent dinner she had given us. He urged us to come again, and said they would have a turkey prepared for us this afternoon; but I declined with thanks.
15. At eight o'clock to-morrow morning we shall move to Tyree Springs, a little village situated in the heart of a wild, broken tract of country, which, of late, has been a favorite rendezvous for guerrillas and highwaymen. Citizens and soldiers traveling to and from Nashville, during the last two months, have, at or near this place, been compelled to empty their pockets, and when their clothes were better than those of their captors, have been compelled to spare them also.
We have no certain information as to the enemy's whereabouts. One rumor says he is at Lavergne, another locates him at Murfreesboro, and still another puts him at Chattanooga. General Rosecrans is now in command, and, urged on by the desires of the North, may follow him to the latter place this winter. A man from whom the people are each day expecting some extraordinary action, some tremendous battle, in which the enemy shall be annihilated, is unfortunately situated, and likely very soon to become unpopular. It takes two to make a fight, as it does to make a bargain. General John Pope is the only warrior of modern times who can find a battle whenever he wants to, and take any number of prisoners his heart desires. Even his brilliant achievements, however, afford the people but temporary satisfaction, for, upon investigation, they are unable to find either the captives or the discomfited hosts.
I predict that in twelve months Rosecrans will be as unpopular as Buell. After the affair at Rich mountain, the former was a great favorite. When placed in command of the forces in Western Virginia, the people expected hourly to hear of Floyd's destruction; but after a whole summer was spent in the vain endeavor to chase down the enemy and bring him to battle, they began to abuse Rosecrans, and he finally left that department, much as Buell has left this. Our generals should, undoubtedly, do more, but our people should certainly expect less.
19. At Tyree Springs. Am the presiding officer of a court-martial.
The supplies for the great army at Nashville and beyond, are wagoned over this road from Mitchellville to Edgefield Junction. Immense trains are passing continually.
20. General Bob Mitchell dined with me to-day. He is on the way to Nashville. Blows his own trumpet, as of old, and expects that a division will be given him.
30. This is a delightful Indian summer day. I have been in the forest, under the persimmon and butternut trees. It is the first ramble I have had at this season for years, and I thought of the many quiet places in the thick woods of the old homestead, where long ago I hunted for hickory-nuts and walnuts; then of its hazel thickets, through which were scattered the wild plum, black-haw, and thorn-apple—perfect solitudes, in which the squirrels and birds had the happiest of times. How pleasant it is to recur to those days; and how well I remember every path through the dense woods, and every little open grassy plot, made brilliant by the summer sunshine.
2. We move to-morrow, at six o'clock in the morning, to Nashville.
9. Nashville. Every thing indicates an early movement. Whether a reconnoissance is intended or a permanent advance, I do not even undertake to guess. The capture of a brigade, at Hartsville, by John Morgan, has awakened the army into something like life; before it was idly awaiting the rise of the Cumberland, but this bold dash of the rebels has made it bristle up like an angry boar; and this morning, I am told, it starts out to show its tusks to the enemy. Our division has been ordered to be in readiness.
The kind of weather we desire now, is that which is generally considered the most disagreeable, namely, a long rain; two weeks of rain-fall is necessary to make the Cumberland navigable, and thus ensure to us abundant supplies.
The whole army feels deeply mortified over the loss of the brigade at Hartsville; report says it was captured by an inferior force. One of our regiments did not fire a gun, and certainly the other two could not have made a very obstinate resistance. I am glad Ohio does not have to bear the whole blame; two-thirds is rather too much.
10. During all of the latter part of last night troops were pouring through Nashville, and going southward. Our division, Rousseau's, moved three miles beyond the city, and went into camp on the Franklin road.
14. Our court has been holding its sessions in the city, but to-day it adjourned to meet at division head-quarters to-morrow at ten o'clock A. M.
The most interesting character of our court-martial is Colonel H. C. Hobart, of the Twenty-first Wisconsin; a gentleman who has held many important public positions in his own State, and whose knowledge of the law, fondness for debate, obstinacy in the maintenance of his opinions, love of fun, and kind-heartedness, are immense. He makes use of the phrase, "in my country," when he refers to any thing which has taken place in Wisconsin; from this we infer that he is a foreigner, and pretend to regard him as a savage from the great West. He has, therefore, been dubbed Chief of the Wisconsins. The court occasionally becomes exceedingly mellow of an evening, and then the favorite theme is the "injin." Such horrible practices as dog eating and cannibalism are imputed to the Chief. To-night we visited the theater to witness Ingomar. On returning to our room at Bassay's restaurant, the members took solemn Irish oaths that the man with the sheep-skin on his back, purporting to be Ingomar, was no other than Hobart, the Wisconsin savage; and the supposition that such an individual could ever reform, and become fitted for civilized society, was a monstrous fiction, too improbable even for the stage.
It should not be presumed from this, however, that the subject of our raillery holds his tongue all the time. On the contrary, he expresses the liveliest contempt for the opinions of his colleagues of the court-martial, and professes to think if it were not for the aid which the Nation receives from his countrymen, the Wisconsins, the effort to restore the Union would be an utter failure.
Bassay's restaurant is a famous resort for military gentlemen. Major-General Hamilton just now took dinner; Major-General Lew Wallace, Brigadier-Generals Tyler and Schoepf, and Major Donn Piatt occupy rooms on the floor above us, and take their meals here; so that we move in the vicinity of the most illustrious of men. We are hardly prepared now to say that we are on intimate terms with the gentlemen who bear these historic names; but we are at least allowed to look at them from a respectful distance. A few years hence, when they are so far away as to make contradiction improbable, if not impossible, we may claim to have been their boon companions, and to have drank and played whist with them in the most genial and friendly way.
16. This afternoon Negley sent over a request for help, stating that his forage train had been attacked. The alarm, however, proved groundless. A few shots only had been fired at the foragers.
17. The news from Fredericksburg has cast a shadow over the army. We did hope that Burnside would be successful, and thus brighten the prospect for a speedy peace; but we are in deeper gloom now than ever. The repulse at Fredericksburg, while it has disabled thousands, has disheartened, if not demoralized a great army, and given confidence and strength to the rebels every-where. It may be, however, that this defeat was necessary to bring us clearly to the point of extinguishing slavery in all the States. The time is near when the strength of the President's resolution in this regard will be put to the test. I trust he will be firm. The mere reconstruction of the Union on the old basis would not pay humanity for all the blood shed since the war began. The extinction of slavery, perhaps, will.
While the North raises immense numbers of men, and scatters them to the four winds, the enemy concentrates, fortifies, and awaits attack. Will the man ever come to consolidate these innumerable detachments of the National army, and then sweep through the Confederacy like a tornado?
It is said that many regiments in the Eastern army number less than one hundred men, and yet have a full complement of field and company officers. This is ridiculous; nay, it is an outrage upon the tax-payers of the North. Worse still, so long as such a skeleton is called a regiment, it is likely to bring discredit upon the State and Nation; for how can it perform the work of a regiment when it has but one-tenth of a regiment's strength? These regiments should be consolidated, and the superfluous officers either sent home or put into the ranks.
20. This morning, at one o'clock, we were ordered to hold ourselves in readiness to march at a moment's notice, with five days' rations. Court has adjourned to meet at nine o'clock A. M. Monday. It is disposing of cases quite rapidly, and I think next week, if there be no interruptions, it will be able to clear the docket.
A brigade, which went out with a forage train yesterday, captured a Confederate lieutenant at a private house. He was engaged at the moment of his capture in writing a letter to his sweetheart. The letter was headed Nashville, and he was evidently intent upon deceiving his lady-love into the belief that he had penetrated the Yankee lines, and was surrounded by foes. Had the letter reached her fair hands, what earnest prayers would have gone up for the succor of this bold and reckless youth.
There was a meeting of the generals yesterday, but for what purpose they only know.
21. The dispatches from Indianapolis speak of the probable promotion of Colonel Jones, Forty-second Indiana. This seems like a joke to those who know him. He can not manage a regiment, and not even his best friends have any confidence in his military capacity. In Indiana, however, they promote every body to brigadierships. Sol Meredith, who went into the service long after the war began, and who, in drilling his regiment, would say: "Battalion, right or left face, as the case may be, march," was made a brigadier some time ago. Milroy, Crittenden, and many others were promoted for inconsiderable services in engagements which have long since been forgotten by the public. Their promotions were not made for the benefit of the service, but for the political advancement of the men who caused them to be made.
Last evening, a little after dark, we were startled by heavy cannonading on our left, and thought the enemy was making an attack. The boys in our division were all aglow with excitement, and cheered loudly; but after ten or fifteen minutes the firing ceased, and I have heard no more about it.
The rebels are before us in force. The old game of concentration is probably being played. The repulse of our army at Fredericksburg will embolden them. It will also enable them to spare troops to reinforce Bragg. The Confederates are on the inside of the circle, while we are on the outside, scattered far and wide. They can cut across and concentrate rapidly, while we must move around. They can meet Burnside at Fredericksburg, and then whip across the country and face us, thus making a smaller army than ours outnumber us in every battle.
In the South the army makes public opinion, and moves along unaffected by it. In the North the army has little or nothing to do with the creation of public sentiment, and yet is its servant. The people of the North, who were clamoring for action, are probably responsible for the fatal repulse at Fredericksburg and the defeat at Bull run. The North must be patient, and get to understand that the work before us is not one that can be accomplished in a day or month. It should be pushed deliberately, yet persistently. We should get rid of a vast number of men who are forever in hospital. They are an expense to the country, and an incumbrance to the army. We should consolidate regiments, and send home thousands of unnecessary officers, who draw pay and yet make no adequate return for it.
23. The court met this morning as usual. We are now going on the fifth week of the session. New cases arise just about as fast as old ones are disposed of.
The boys in front of my tent are singing:
"We are going home, we are going home, To die no more."
Were they to devote as much time to praying as they do to singing, they would soon establish a reputation for piety; but, unfortunately for them, after the hymn they generally proceed to swear, instead of prayer, and one is left in doubt as to what home they propose to go to.
25. About noon there were several discharges of artillery in our front, and last night occasional shots served as cheerful reminders that the enemy was near.
At an expense of one dollar and seventy-five cents, I procured a small turkey and had a Christmas dinner; but it lacked the collaterals, and was a failure.
For twenty months now I have been a sojourner in camps, a dweller in tents, going hither and yon, at all hours of the day and night, in all sorts of weather, sleeping for weeks at a stretch without shelter, and yet I have been strong and healthy. How very thankful I should feel on this Christmas night! There goes the boom of a cannon at the front.
26. This morning we started south on the Franklin road. When some ten miles away from Nashville, we turned toward Murfreesboro, and are now encamped in the woods, near the head-waters of the Little Harpeth. The march was exceedingly unpleasant. Rain began to fall about the time of starting, and continued to pour down heavily for four hours, wetting us all thoroughly.
I have command of the brigade.
27. We moved at eight o'clock this morning, over a very bad dirt road, from Wilson's pike to the Nolansville road, where we are now bivouacking. About ten the artillery commenced thundering in our front, and continued during the greater portion of the day. Marched two miles toward Triune to support McCook, who was having a little bout with the enemy; but the engagement ending, we returned to our present quarters in a drenching rain. Saw General Thomas, our corps commander, going to and returning from the front. We are sixteen miles from Nashville, on a road running midway between Franklin and Murfreesboro. The enemy is supposed to be in force at the latter place.
28. At four o'clock P. M. we were ordered to leave baggage and teams behind, and march to Stewart's creek, a point twenty miles from Nashville. Night had set in before the brigade got fairly under way. The road runs through a barren, hilly, pine district, and was exceedingly bad. At eleven o'clock at night we reached the place indicated, and lay on the damp ground until morning.