29. At eight o'clock A. M. the artillery opened in our front; but after perhaps two hours of irregular firing, it ceased altogether, and we were led to the conclusion that but few rebels were in this vicinity, the main body being at Murfreesboro, probably. Going to the front about ten o'clock, I met General Hascall. He had had a little fight at Lavergne, the Twenty-sixth Ohio losing twenty men, and his brigade thirty altogether. He also had a skirmish at this place, in which he captured a few prisoners. Saw General Thomas riding to the front. Rosecrans is here, and most of the Army of the Cumberland either here or hereabouts. McCook's corps had an inconsiderable engagement at Triune on Saturday. Loss small on both sides.
Riding by a farm-house this afternoon, I caught a glimpse of Miss Harris, of Lavergne, at the window, and stopped to talk with her a minute. The young lady and her mother have experienced a great deal of trouble recently. They were shelled out of Lavergne three times, two of the shells passing through her mother's house. She claims to have been shot at once by a soldier of the One Hundred and Nineteenth Illinois, the ball splintering the window-sill near her head. Her mother's house has been converted into a hospital, and the clothes of the family taken for bandages. She is, therefore, more rebellious now than ever. She is getting her rights, poor girl!
30. A little after daylight the brigade moved, and proceeded to within three miles of Murfreesboro, where we have been awaiting orders since ten o'clock A. M.
The first boom of artillery was heard at ten o'clock. Since then there has been almost a continuous roar. McCook's corps is in advance of us, perhaps a mile and a half, and, with divisions from other corps, has been gradually approaching the enemy all day, driving his skirmishers from one point to another.
About four o'clock in the afternoon the artillery firing became more vigorous, and, with Colonel Foreman, of the Fifteenth Kentucky, I rode to the front, and then along our advanced line from right to left. Our artillery stationed on the higher points was being fired rapidly. The skirmishers were advancing cautiously, and the contest between the two lines was quite exciting. As I supposed, our army is feeling its way into position. To-morrow, doubtless, the grand battle will be fought, when I trust the good Lord will grant us a glorious victory, and one that will make glad the hearts of all loyal people on New-Year's Day.
I saw Lieutenant-Colonel Given, Eighteenth Ohio. Twelve of his men had been wounded. Met Colonel Wagner, Fifteenth Indiana. Starkweather's brigade lost its wagon train this forenoon. Jeff C. Davis, I am told, was wounded this evening. A shell exploded near a group, consisting of General Rosecrans and staff, killing two horses and wounding two men.
31. At six o'clock in the morning my brigade marches to the front and forms in line of battle. The roar of musketry and artillery is incessant. At nine o'clock we move into the cedar woods on the right to support McCook, who is reported to be giving way. General Rousseau points me to the place he desires me to defend, and enjoins me to "hold it until hell freezes over," at the same time telling me that he may be found immediately on the left of my brigade with Loomis' battery. I take position. An open wood is in my front; but where the line is formed, and to the right and left, the cedar thicket is so dense as to render it impossible to see the length of a regiment. The enemy comes up directly, and the fight begins. The roar of the guns to the right, left, and front of my brigade sounds like the continuous pounding on a thousand anvils. My men are favorably situated, being concealed by the cedars, while the enemy, advancing through the open woods, is fully exposed. Early in the action Colonel Foreman, of the Fifteenth Kentucky, is killed, and his regiment retires in disorder. The Third Ohio, Eighty-eighth, and Forty-second Indiana, hold the position, and deliver their fire so effectively that the enemy is finally forced back. I find a Michigan regiment and attach it to my command, and send a staff officer to General Rousseau to report progress; but before he has time to return, the enemy makes another and more furious assault upon my line. After a fierce struggle, lasting from forty to sixty minutes, we succeed in repelling this also. I send again to General Rousseau, and am soon after informed that neither he nor Loomis' battery can be found. Troops are reported to be falling back hastily, and in disorder, on my left. I send a staff officer to the right, and ascertain that Scribner's and Shepperd's brigades are gone. I conclude that the contingency has arisen to which General Rousseau referred—that is to say, that hell has frozen over—and about face my brigade and march to the rear, where the guns appear to be hammering away with redoubled fury. In the edge of the woods, and not far from the Murfreesboro pike, I find the new line of battle, and take position. Five minutes after the enemy strike us. For a time—I can not even guess how long—the line stands bravely to the work; but the regiments on our left get into disorder, and finally become panic-stricken. The fright spreads, and my brigade sweeps by me to the open field in our rear. I hasten to the colors, stop them, and endeavor to rally the men. The field is by this time covered with flying troops, and the enemy's fire is most deadly. My brigade, however, begins to steady itself on the colors, when my horse is shot under me, and I fall heavily to the ground. Before I have time to recover my feet, my troops, with thousands of others, sweep in disorder to the rear, and I am left standing alone. Going back to the railroad, I find my men, General Rousseau, Loomis, and, in fact, the larger part of the army. The artillery has been concentrated at this point, and now opens upon the advancing columns of the enemy with fearful effect, and continues its thunders until nightfall. The artillery saved the army. The battle during the whole day was terrific.
I find that soon after the fight began in the cedars, our division was ordered back to a new line, and that the order had been delivered to Scribner and Shepperd, but not to me. They had, consequently, retired to the second position under fire, and had suffered most terribly in the operation; while my brigade, being forgotten by the division commander, or by the officer whose duty it was to convey the order, had held its ground until it had twice repulsed the enemy, and then changed position in comparative safety. A retrograde movement under fire must necessarily be extremely hazardous. It demoralizes your own men, who can not, at the moment, understand the purpose of the movement, while it encourages the enemy. The one accepts it as an indication of defeat; the other as an assurance of victory.
McCook had been surprised and shattered in the morning. This unexpected success had inspired the rebels and dispirited us. They fought like devils, and the victory—if victory there was to either army—belonged to them.
When the sun went down, and the firing ceased, the Union army, despondent, but not despairing, weary and hungry, but still hopeful, lay on its arms, ready to renew the conflict on the morrow.
1. At dawn we are all in line, expecting every moment the re-commencement of the fearful struggle. Occasionally a battery engages a battery opposite, and the skirmishers keep up a continual roar of small arms; but until nearly night there is no heavy fighting. Both armies want rest; both have suffered terribly. Here and there little parties are engaged burying the dead, which lie thick around us. Now the mangled remains of a poor boy of the Third is being deposited in a shallow grave. A whole charge of canister seems to have gone through him. Generals Rosecrans and Thomas are riding over the field, now halting to speak words of encouragement to the troops, then going on to inspect portions of the line. I have been supplied with a new horse, but one far inferior to the dead stallion. A little before sun-down all hell seems to break loose again, and for about an hour the thunder of the artillery and volleys of musketry are deafening; but it is simply the evening salutation of the combatants. The darkness deepens; the weather is raw and disagreeable. Fifty thousand hungry men are stretched beside their guns again on the field. Fortunately I have a piece of raw pork and a few crackers in my pocket. No food ever tasted sweeter. The night is gloomy enough; but our spirits are rising. We all glory in the obstinacy with which Rosecrans has clung to his position. I draw closer to the camp-fire, and, pushing the brands together, take out my little Bible, and as I open it my eyes fall on the xci Psalm:
"I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God; in Him will I trust. Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shall be thy trust. His truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be, afraid for the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness, nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall by thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee."
Camp-fires innumerable are glimmering in the darkness. Now and then a few mounted men gallop by. Scattering shots are heard along the picket line. The gloom has lifted, and I wrap myself in my blanket and lie down contentedly for the night.
2. At sunrise we have a shower of solid shot and shell. The Chicago Board of Trade battery is silenced. The shot roll up the Murfreesboro pike like balls on a bowling alley. Many horses are killed. A soldier near me, while walking deliberately to the rear, to seek a place of greater safety, is struck between the shoulders by a ricochetting ball, and instantly killed. We are ordered to be in readiness to repel an attack, and form line of battle amid this fearful storm of iron. Gaunther and Loomis get their batteries in position, and, after twenty or thirty minutes' active work, silence the enemy and compel him to withdraw. Then we have a lull until one or two o'clock, when Van Cleve's division on the left is attacked. As the volume of musketry increases, and the sound grows nearer, we understand that our troops are being driven back, and brigade after brigade double quicks from the right and center, across the open field, to render aid. Battery after battery goes in the same direction on the run, the drivers lashing the horses to their utmost speed. The thunder of the guns becomes more violent; the volleys of musketry grow into one prolonged and unceasing roll. Now we hear the yell which betokens encouraged hearts; but whose yell? Thank God, it is ours! The conflict is working southward; the enemy has been checked, repulsed, and is now in retreat. So ends another day.
The hungry soldiers cut steaks from the slain horses, and, with the scanty supplies which have come forward, gather around the fires to prepare supper, and talk over the incidents of the day. The prospect seems brighter. We have held the ground, and in this last encounter have whipped the enemy. There is more cheerful conversation among the men. They discuss the battle, the officers, and each other, and give us now and then a snatch of song. Officers come over from adjoining brigades, hoping to find a little whisky, but learn, with apparent resignation and well-feigned composure, that the canteens have been long empty; that even the private flasks, which officers carry with the photographs of their sweethearts, in a side pocket next to their hearts, are destitute of even the flavor of this article of prime necessity. My much-esteemed colleague of the court-martial, Colonel Hobart, stumbles up in the thick darkness to pay his respects. The sentinel, mistaking him for a private, tells him, with an oath, that this is neither the time nor place for stragglers, and orders him back to his regiment; and so the night wears on, and fifty thousand men lay upon their guns again.
3. Colonel Shanklin, with a strong detachment from my brigade, was captured last night while on picket. Rifle pits are being dug, and I am ordered to protect the workmen. The rebels hold a strip of woods in our immediate front, and we get up a lively skirmish with them. Our men, however, appear loth to advance far enough to afford the necessary protection to the workers. Vexed at their unwillingness to venture out, I ride forward and start over a line to which I desire the skirmishers to advance, and discover, before I have gone twenty yards, that I have done a foolish thing. A hundred muskets open on me from the woods; but the eyes of my own brigade and of other troops are on me, and I can not back out. I quicken the pace of my horse somewhat, and continue my perilous course. The bullets whistle like bees about my head, but I ride the whole length of the proposed skirmish line, and get back to the brigade in safety. Colonel Humphrey, of the Eighty-eighth Indiana, comes up to me, and with a tremor in his voice, which indicates much feeling, says: "My God, Colonel, never do that again!" The caution is unnecessary. I had already made up my mind never to do it again. We keep up a vigorous skirmish with the enemy for hours, losing now and then a man; but later in the day we are relieved from this duty, and retire to a quieter place.
About nightfall General Rousseau desires me to get two regiments in readiness, and, as soon as it becomes quite dark, charge upon and clean out the woods in our front. I select the Third Ohio and Eighty-eighth Indiana for this duty, and at the appointed time we form line in the open field in front of Gaunther's battery, and as we start, the battery commences to shell the woods. As we get nearer the objective point, I put the men on the double quick. The rebels, discovering our approach, open a heavy fire, but in the darkness shoot too high. The blaze of their guns reveals their exact position to us. We reach the rude log breastworks behind which they are standing and grapple with them. Colonel Humphrey receives a severe thrust from a bayonet; others are wounded, and some killed. It is pitch dark under the trees. Some of Gaunther's shells fall short, and alarm the men. Unable to find either staff officer or orderly, I ride back and request him to elevate his guns. Returning, I find my troops blazing away with great energy; but, so far as I can discover, their fire is not returned. It is difficult, however, in the noise, confusion, and darkness, to direct their movements, and impossible to stop the firing. In the meantime a new danger threatens. Spear's Tennesseeans have been sent to support us, probably without any definite instructions. They are, most of them, raw troops, and, becoming either excited or alarmed at the terrible racket in the woods, deliver scattering shots in our rear. I ride back and urge them either to cease firing or move to the left, go forward and look after our flank. One regiment does move as directed; but the others are immovable, and it is with great difficulty that I succeed in making them understand that in firing they are more likely to injure friends than foes. Fortunately, soon after this, the ammunition of the Third and Eighty-eighth becoming exhausted, the firing in the woods ceases, and, as the enemy has already abandoned the field, the affair ends. I try to find General Rousseau to report results, but can not; and so, worn out with fatigue and excitement, lie down for another night.
4. Every thing quiet in our front. It is reported that the enemy has disappeared. Investigation confirms the report, and the cavalry push into Murfreesboro and beyond.
During the forenoon the army crosses Stone River, and with music, banners, and rejoicings, takes possession of the old camps of the enemy. So the long and doubtful struggle ends.
5. I ride over the battle-field. In one place a caisson and five horses are lying, the latter killed in harness, and all fallen together. Nationals and Confederates, young, middle-aged, and old, are scattered over the woods and fields for miles. Poor Wright, of my old company, lay at the barricade in the woods which we stormed on the night of the last day. Many others lay about him. Further on we find men with their legs shot off; one with brains scooped out with a cannon ball; another with half a face gone; another with entrails protruding; young Winnegard, of the Third, has one foot off and both legs pierced by grape at the thighs; another boy lies with his hands clasped above his head, indicating that his last words were a prayer. Many Confederate sharpshooters lay behind stumps, rails, and logs, shot in the head. A young boy, dressed in the Confederate uniform, lies with his face turned to the sky, and looks as if he might be sleeping. Poor boy! what thoughts of home, mother, death, and eternity, commingled in his brain as the life-blood ebbed away! Many wounded horses are limping over the field. One mule, I heard of, had a leg blown off on the first day's battle; next morning it was on the spot where first wounded; at night it was still standing there, not having moved an inch all day, patiently suffering, it knew not why nor for what. How many poor men moaned through the cold nights in the thick woods, where the first day's battle occurred, calling in vain to man for help, and finally making their last solemn petition to God!
In the evening I met Rousseau, McCook, and Crittenden. They had been imbibing freely. Rousseau insisted upon my turning back and going with them to his quarters. Crittenden was the merriest of the party. On the way he sang, in a voice far from melodious, a pastorial ditty with which childhood is familiar:
"Mary had a little lamb, His fleece was white as snow, And every-where that Mary went The lamb was sure to go."
Evidently the lion had left the chieftain's heart, and the lamb had entered and taken possession.
McCook complimented me by saying that my brigade fought well. He should know, for he sat behind it at the commencement of the second assault of the enemy in the cedars, on the first day; but very soon thereafter disappeared. Just when he left, and why he did so, I do not know.
At Rousseau's we found a large number of staff and line officers. The demijohn was introduced, and all paid their respects to it. The ludicrous incidents, of which there are more or less even in battles, of the last five days, were referred to, and much merriment prevailed.
6. The army is being reorganized, and we are busily engaged repairing the damages sustained in the battle.
Visited the hospitals, and, so far as possible, looked after the wounded of my brigade. To-morrow the chaplains will endeavor to hunt them all up, and report their whereabouts and condition.
7. I was called upon late in the evening to make a report of the operations of my brigade immediately, as General Rousseau intends to leave for Louisville in the morning. It is impossible to collect the information necessary in the short time allowed me. One of my regimental commanders, Colonel Foreman, was killed; another, Colonel Humphrey, was wounded, and is in hospital; another, Lieutenant-Colonel Shanklin, was captured, and is absent; but I gathered up hastily what facts I could obtain as to the casualties in the several regiments, and wrote my report in the few minutes which remained for me to do so, and sent it in. I have not had an opportunity to do justice either to my brigade or myself.
13. Move in the direction of Columbia, on a reconnoitering expedition. My brigade stops at Salem, and the cavalry pushes on.
14. Have been exposed to a drenching rain for thirty hours. The men are cold, hungry, and mutinous.
15. Ordered back to Murfreesboro, and march thither in a storm of snow and sleet. It is decidedly the coldest day we have experienced since last winter.
I find two numbers of Harper's Weekly on my return. They abound in war stories. The two heroes, of whom I read to-night, received saber cuts on the face and head, obtained leave of absence, returned home, and married forthwith. Saber cuts are very rare in the Army of the Cumberland, and if young officers were compelled to defer entering into wedlock until they got wounds of this kind, there would be precious few soldiers married. Bullet wounds are common enough; but the hand-to-hand encounters, knightly contests of swords, the cleaving of head-pieces and shattering of spears, are not incidents of modern warfare.
The long rain has completely saturated the ground. The floor of my tent is muddy; but my bed will be dry, and as I have not had my clothes off for three days, I look forward to a comfortable night's rest.
The picture in Harper, of "Christmas Eve," will bring tears to the eyes of many a poor fellow shivering over the camp-fire in this winter season. The children in the crib, the stockings in which Santa Claus deposits his treasures, recall the pleasantest night of the year.
Speaking of Christmas reminds me of the mistletoe bough. Mistletoe abounds here. Old, leafless trees are covered and green with it. It was in blossom a week or two ago, if we may call its white wax-like berries blossoms. They are known as Christmas blossoms. The vine takes root in the bark—in any crack, hole, or crevice of the tree—and continues green all winter. The berries grow in clusters.
16. I have as guests Mr. and Mrs. Johnson House, my old neighbors. They have come from their quiet home in Ohio to look over a battle-field, and I take pleasure in showing them the points of interest. Mr. House, with great frankness, tells me, in the presence of my staff, that he had been afraid I was not qualified for the high position I hold, and that I was getting along too fast; but he now feels satisfied that I am capable and worthy, and would be well pleased to see me again promoted. I introduced my friends to Lieutenant Van Pelt, of Loomis' battery, and Mr. House asked: "Lieutenant, will these guns shoot with any kind of decision?" "Precision," I suggested. "Yes," Van Pelt replied, "they will throw a ball pretty close to the mark."
17. Dr. Peck tells me that the wounded of the Third are doing well, and all comfortably quartered. He is an excellent physician and surgeon, and the boys are well pleased with him.
3. This has been the coldest day of the season in this latitude. The ground is frozen hard. I made the round of the picket line after dinner, and was thoroughly chilled. Visited the hospital this evening. Young Willets, of the Third, whom I thought getting along well before I left for home, died two days before my return. Benedict is dead, and Glenn, poor fellow, will go next. His leg is in a sling, and he is compelled to lie in one position all the time. Mortification has set in, and he can not last more than a day or two. Murfreesboro is one great hospital, filled with Nationals and Confederates.
4. At noon cannonading began on our left and front, and continued with intervals until sunset. I have heard no explanation of the firing, but think it probable our troops started up the Shelbyville road to reconnoiter, discovered the enemy, and a small fight ensued.
5. It is said the enemy came within six miles of Murfreesboro yesterday, and attacked a forage train.
The weather has been somewhat undecided, and far from agreeable.
6. A lot of rebel papers, dated January 31st, have been brought in. They contain many extracts clipped from the Northern Democratic press, and the Southern soul is jubilant over the fact that a large party in Ohio and Indiana denounce President Lincoln. The rebels infer from this that the war must end soon, and the independence of the Southern States be acknowledged. Our friends at home should not give aid and comfort to the enemy. They may excite hopes which, in time, they will themselves be compelled to help crush.
7. Few of the men who started home when I did have returned. The General is becoming excited on the subject of absentees. From General Thomas' corps alone there are sixteen thousand men absent, sick, pretending to be sick, or otherwise. Of my brigade there are sixteen hundred men present for duty, and over thirteen hundred absent—nearly one-half away. The condition of other brigades is similar. If a man once gets away, either into hospital or on detached duty, it is almost impossible to get him back again to his regiment. A false excuse, backed up by the false statement of a family physician, has hitherto been accepted; but hereafter, I am told, it will not be. Uncle Sam can not much longer stand the drain upon his finances which these malingerers occasion, and his reputation suffers also, for he can not do with fifty thousand men what it requires one hundred thousand to accomplish.
People may say Rosecrans had at the battle of Murfreesboro nearly one hundred regiments. A regiment should contain a thousand men; in a hundred regiments, therefore, there should have been one hundred thousand men. With this force he should have swallowed Bragg; but they must understand that the largest of these regiments did not contain over five hundred men fit for duty, and very many not over three hundred. The men in hospital, the skulkers at home, and the skedaddlers here, count only on the muster and pay-rolls; our friends at home should remember, therefore, that when they take a soldier by the hand who should be with his regiment, and say to him, "Poor fellow, you have seen hard times enough, stay a little longer, the army will not miss you," that some other poor fellow, too brave and manly to shirk, shivers through the long winter hours at his own post, and then through other long hours at the post of the absentee, thus doing double duty; and they should bear in mind, also, that in battle this same poor fellow has to fight for two, and that battles are lost, the war prolonged, and the National arms often disgraced, by reason of the absence of the men whom they encourage to remain at home a day or two longer. If every Northern soldier able to do duty would do it, Rosecrans could sweep to Mobile in ninety days; but with this skeleton of an army, we rest in doubt and idleness. There is a screw loose somewhere.
10. Fortifications are being constructed. My men are working on them.
Just now I heard the whistle of a locomotive, on the opposite side of the river. This is the first intimation we have had of the completion of the road to this point. The bridge will be finished in a day or two, and then the trains will arrive and depart from Murfreesboro regularly.
11. Called at Colonel Wilder's quarters, and while there met General J. J. Reynolds. He made a brief allusion to the Stalnaker times. On my return to camp, I stopped for a few minutes at Department head-quarters to see Garfield. General Rosecrans came into the room; but, as I was dressed in citizens' clothes, did not at first recognize me. Garfield said: "General Rosecrans, Colonel Beatty." The General took me by the hand, turned my face to the light, and said he did not have a fair view of me before. "Well," he continued, "you are a general now, are you?" I told him I was not sure yet, and he said: "Is it uncertainty or modesty that makes you doubt?" "Uncertainty." "Well," he replied, "you and Sam Beatty have both been recommended. I guess it will be all right." He invited me to remain for supper, but I declined.
16. To-day I rode over the battle-field, starting at the river and following the enemy's line off to their left, then crossing over on to the right of our line, and following it to the left. For miles through the woods evidences of the terrible conflict meet one at every step. Trees peppered with bullet and buckshot, and now and then one cut down by cannon ball; unexploded shell, solid shot, dead horses, broken caissons, haversacks, old shoes, hats, fragments of muskets, and unused cartridges, are to be seen every-where. In an open space in the oak woods is a long strip of fresh earth, in which forty-one sticks are standing, with intervals between them of perhaps a foot. Here forty-one poor fellows lie under the fresh earth, with nothing but the forty-one little sticks above to mark the spot. Just beyond this are twenty-five sticks, to indicate the last resting-place of twenty-five brave men; and so we found these graves in the woods, meadows, corn-fields, cotton-fields, every-where. We stumbled on one grave in a solitary spot in the thick cedars, where the sunshine never penetrates. At the head of the little mound of fresh earth a round stick was standing, and on the top of this was an old felt hat; the hat still doing duty over the head, if not on the head, of the dead soldier who lay there. The rain and sun and growing vegetation of one summer will render it impossible to find these graves. The grass will cover the fresh earth, the sticks will either rot or become displaced, and then there will be nothing to indicate that—
"Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire; Hands that the rod of empire might have swayed, Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre."
17. The army is turning its attention to politics somewhat. Generals and colonels are ventilating their opinions through the press. I think their letters may have good effect upon the people at home, and prevent them from discouraging the army and crippling the Administration. Surely the effort now being put forth by a great party in the North to convince the troops in the field that this is an unjust war, an abolition or nigger war, must have a tendency to injure the army, and, if persisted in, may finally ruin it.
19. Work on the fortifications still continues. This is to be a depot of supplies, and there are provisions enough already here to subsist the army for a month. Now that the Cumberland is high, and the railroads in running order, any amount of supplies may be brought through.
Expeditions go out occasionally to different parts of the country, and slight affairs occur, which are magnified into serious engagements; but really nothing of any importance has transpired since we obtained possession of Murfreesboro. A day or two ago we had an account of an expedition into the enemy's country by the One Hundred and Twenty-third Illinois, Colonel Monroe commanding. According to this veracious report, the Colonel had a severe fight, killed a large number of the enemy, and captured three hundred stand of arms; but the truth is, that he did not take time to count the rebel dead, and the arms taken were one hundred old muskets found in a house by the roadside.
The expeditions sent out to capture John Morgan have all been failures. His own knowledge of the country is thorough, and besides, he has in his command men from every neighborhood, who know not only every road and cow-path in the locality, but every man, woman, and child. The people serve him also, by advising him of all our movements. They guide him to our detachments when they are weak, and warn him away from them when strong. Were the rebel army in Ohio, and as bitterly hated by the people of that State as the Nationals are by those of Kentucky and Tennessee, it would be an easy matter indeed to hang upon the skirts of that army, pick up stragglers, burn bridges, attack wagon trains, and now and then pounce down on an outlying picket and take it in.
20. Colonel Lytle, my old brigade commander, called on me to-day. He informed me that he had not been assigned yet. I inferred from this that he thought it utterly impossible for one so distinguished as himself to come down to a regiment. His own regiment, the Tenth Ohio, is here, and nominally a part of my brigade, although it has not acted with it since Rosecrans assumed command of the Army of the Cumberland. Under Lieutenant-Colonel Burke, it is doing guard duty at Department head-quarters.
1. There is talk of consolidation at Washington. This is a sensible idea, and should be carried into effect at once. There are too many officers and too few men. The regiments should be consolidated, and kept full by conscription, if it can not be done otherwise. The best officers should be retained, and the others sent home to stand their chances of the draft.
A major of the Fifteenth Kentucky sent in his resignation a few days ago, assigning as a reason for so doing that the object of the war was now the elevation of the negro. The concluding paragraph of his letter was in these words: "The service can not possibly suffer by my resignation." The document passed through my hands on its way to Department head-quarters, and I indorsed it as follows:
"Major H. F. Kalfus, Fifteenth Kentucky Volunteer Infantry, being 'painfully and reluctantly convinced' that the party in power is disposed to elevate the negro, desires to quit the service. I trust he will be allowed to do so, and cheerfully certify to the correctness of one statement which he makes herein, to-wit: The service can not possibly suffer by his resignation."
General Rosecrans has just sent me an order to arrest the Major, and send him under guard to the Provost-Marshal General. The arrest will be made in a few minutes, and may create some excitement among our Kentucky friends.
3. The fortifications are progressing. The men work four hours each day in the trenches. The remainder of the time they spend pretty much as they see fit.
General Garfield is now chief of staff. It is the first instance in the West of an officer of his rank being assigned to that position. It is an important place, however, and one too often held not merely by officers of inferior rank, but of decidedly inferior ability. General Buell had a colonel as chief of staff, and, until the appointment of Garfield, General Rosecrans had a lieutenant-colonel or major.
To-night an ugly and most singular specimen of the negro called to obtain employment. He was not over three feet and a half high, hump-backed, crooked-legged, and quite forty years old. Poking his head into my tent, and, taking off his hat, he said: "Is de Co'nel in?" "Yes." "Hurd you wants a boy, sah. Man tole me Co'nel Eighty-eighth Olehio wants a boy, sah." "What can you do? Can you cook?" "Yas, sah." "Where did you learn to cook?" "On de plantation, sah." "What is your master's name?" "Rucker, sah." "Is he a loyal man?" "No, sah, he not a lawyer; his brudder, de cussen one, is de lawyer." "Is he secesh?" "O, yas, sah; yas, he sesesh." "It is the Colonel of the Eighty-eighth Indiana you should see;" and I directed him to the Colonel's tent. As he turned to leave, he muttered, "Man tole me Eighty-eighth Olehio;" but he went hobbling over to the Eighty-eighth, with fear, anxiety, and hope struggling in his old face.
4. Major Kalfus, Fifteenth Kentucky, arrested on Sunday, and since held in close confinement, was dishonorably dismissed from the service to-day for using treasonable language in tendering his resignation. He was escorted outside the lines and turned loose. The Major is a cross-roads politician, and will, I doubt not, be a lion among his half-loyal neighbors when he returns home.
5. Our picket on the Manchester pike was driven in to-day. The cavalry, under General Stanley, went to the rescue, when a fight occurred. No particulars.
9. T. Buchanan Reid, the poet, entertained us at the court-house this evening. The room had been trimmed up by the rebels for a ball. The words, "Shiloh," "Fort Donelson," "Hartsville," "Santa Rosa," "Pensacola," were surrounded with evergreens. The letter "B," painted on the walls in a dozen places, was encompassed by wreaths of flowers, now faded and yellow. My native modesty led me to conclude that the letter so highly honored stood for Bragg, and not for the commander of the Seventeenth Brigade, U. S. A.
General Garfield introduced Mr. Reid by a short speech, not delivered in his usual happy style. I was impressed with the idea all the time, that he had too many buttons on his coat—he certainly had a great many buttons—and the splendor of the double row possibly detracted somewhat from the splendor of his remarks.
Mr. Reid is a small man, and has not sufficient voice to make himself heard distinctly in so large a hall. In a parlor his recitations would be capital. He read from his own poem, "The Wagoner," a description of the battle of Brandywine. It is possibly a very good representation of that battle; but, if so, the battle of Brandywine was very unlike that of Stone river. At Brandywine, it appears, the generals slashed around among the enemy's infantry with drawn swords, doing most of the hard fighting and most of the killing themselves. I did not discover anything of that kind at Stone river. It is possible the style went out of fashion before the rebellion began. It would, however, be very satisfactory to the rank and file to see it restored. Mr. Reid said some good things in his lecture, and was well applauded; but, in the main, he was too ethereal, vapory, and fanciful for the most of us leather-heads. When he puts a soldier-boy on the top of a high mountain to sing patriotic songs, and bid defiance to King George because "Eagle is King," we are impressed with the idea that that soldier could have been put to better use; that, in fact, he is entirely out of the line of duty. The position assigned him is unnatural, and the modern soldier-boy will be apt to conclude that nobody but a simpleton would be likely to wander about in solitary places, extemporizing in measured sentences; besides it is hard work, as I know from experience. I tried my hand at it the other day until my head ached, and this is the best I could do:
O! Lord, when will this war end? These days of marchings, nights of lonely guard? This terrible expenditure of health and life? Where is the glory? Where is the reward, For sacrifice of comfort, quiet, peace? For sacrifice of children, wife, and friends? For sacrifice of firesides—genial homes? What hour, what gift, will ever make amends For broken health, for bruised flesh and bones, For lives cut short by bullet, blade, disease? Where balm to heal the widow's heart, or what Shall soothe a mother's grief for woes like these? Hold, murmurer, hold! Is country naught to thee? Is freedom nothing? Naught an honored name? What though the days be cold, or the nights dark, The brave heart kindles for itself a flame That warms and lightens up the world! Home! What's home, if in craven shame We seek its hearthstone? Bitterest of cold. Better creep thither bruised, and torn, and lame, Than seek it in health when justice needs our aid. Where is the glory? Where is the reward? Think of the generations that will come To praise and bless the hero. Think of God, Who in due time will call His soldiers home. How comfort mother for the loss of son? What balm to which her heaviest grief must yield? Ah! the plain, simple, ever-glorious words: "Your son died nobly on the battle-field!" What balm to soothe a widow's aching heart? The grand assurance that in the battle shock Foremost her husband stood, defying all, For freedom and truth, unyielding as the rock. Then, courage, all, and when the strife is past, And grief for lost ones takes a milder hue, This thought shall crown the living and the dead: "He lived, he died, to God and duty true."
10. Rain has been descending most of the day, and just now is pouring down with great violence. A happy party in the adjoining tent are exercising their lungs on a negro melody, of which this is something like the chorus:
"De massa run, ha, ha! De nigger stay, ho, ho! It mus' be now de kingdom comin', And de year of jubelo."
I can not affirm that the music with which these gentlemen so abound, on this rainy and dismal night, has that soothing effect on the human heart ascribed to music in general; but, however little I may feel like rejoicing now, I am quite sure I shall feel happier when the concert ends. The singers have concluded the negro melody, and are breathing out their souls in a sentimental piece. Now and then, when more than ordinarily successful in the higher strains, they nearly equal the most exalted efforts of the tom-cat; and then, again, in the execution of the lower notes and more pathetic passages, we are brought nigh unto tears by an inimitable imitation of the wailings of a very young and sick kitten.
"Do they miss me at home; do they miss me?"
I venture to say they do, and with much gratification if, when there, you favored them often with this infernal noise.
14. The weather is remarkably fine to-day. I saw Mrs. and Major-General McCook and Mrs. and Major-General Wood going out to the battle-field, on horseback, this morning. Mrs. General Rosecrans arrived last night on a special train.
16. The roads are becoming good, and every body is on horseback. Many officers have their wives here. On the way to Murfreesboro this morning, I met two ladies with an escort going to the battle-field. Returning I met General Rosecrans and wife. The General hallooed after me, "How d'ye do?" to which I shouted back, at the top of my voice, the very original reply, "Very well, thank you." From the number of ladies gathering in, one might very reasonably conclude that no advance was contemplated soon. Still all signs fail in war times, as they do in dry weather. As a rule, perhaps, when a movement appears most improbable, we should be on the lookout for orders to start.
The army, under Rosecrans' administration, looks better than it ever did before. He certainly enters into his work with his whole soul, and unless some unlucky mishap knocks his feet from under him, he will soon be recognized as the first general of the Union. I account for his success thus far, in part at least, by the fact that he has been long enough away from West Point, mixing with the people, to get a little common sense rubbed into him.
While writing the last word above, the string band of the Third struck up at the door of my tent. Going out, I found all the commissioned officers of that regiment standing in line. Adjutant Wilson nudged me, and said they expected a speech. I asked if beer would not suit them better. He thought not. I have not attempted to make a speech for two years, and never made a successful attempt in my life; but I knocked the ashes out of my pipe and began:
"GENTLEMEN: I am informed that all the officers of the Third are here. I am certainly very glad to see you, and extremely sorry that I am not better prepared to receive and entertain you. The press informs us that I have been very highly honored. If the report that I have been promoted is true, I am indebted to your gallantry, and that of the brave men of the Third, for the honor. You gave me my first position, and then were kind enough to deem me worthy of a second; and if now I have obtained a third, and higher one, it is because I have had the good fortune to command good soldiers. The step upward in rank will simply increase my debt of gratitude to you."
The officers responded cordially, by assuring me that they rejoiced over my promotion, and were anxious that I should continue in command of the brigade to which the Third is attached.
Charlie Davison can sing as many songs as Mickey Free, of "Charles O'Malley," and sing them well. In Irish melodies he is especially happy. Hark!
"Dear Erin, how sweetly thy green bosom rises, An emerald set in the ring of the sea; Each blade of thy meadows my faithful heart prizes, Thou Queen of the West, the world's cush la machree.
* * * * *
Thy sons they are brave; but the battle once over, In brotherly peace with their foes they agree, And the roseate cheeks of thy daughters discover, The soul-speaking blush that says cush la machree."
17. Dined with General Wagner, and, in company with Wagner and General Palmer, witnessed an artillery review.
18. My brigade is still at work on the fortifications. They are, however, nearly completed.
Shelter tents were issued to our division to-day. We are still using the larger tent; but it is evidently the intention to leave these behind when we move. Last fall the shelter tents were used for a time by the Pioneer Brigade. They are so small that a man can not stand up in them. The boys were then very bitter in condemnation of them, and called them dog tents and dog pens. Almost every one of these tents was marked in a way to indicate the unfavorable opinion which the boys entertained of them, and in riding through the company quarters of the Pioneer Brigade, the eye would fall on inscriptions of this sort:
PUPS FOR SALE—RAT TERRIERS—BULL PUPS HERE—DOG-HOLE NO. 1—SONS OF BITCHES WITHIN—DOGS—PURPS.
General Rosecrans and staff, while riding by one day, were greeted with a tremendous bow-wow. The boys were on their hands and knees, stretching their heads out of the ends of the tents, barking furiously at the passing cavalcade. The General laughed heartily, and promised them better accommodations.
The news from Vicksburg is somewhat encouraging, but certainly very indefinite, and far from satisfactory.
19. Reviews are the order of the hour. All the brigades of our division, except mine, were reviewed by General Rosecrans this afternoon. It was a fine display, but hard on the soldiers; they were kept so long standing.
At Middletown, sixteen miles away, the rebels are four thousand strong, and within a day or two they have ventured to Salem, five miles distant.
20. Loomis, who has just returned from home, called this evening, and we drank a bottle of wine over the promotion. He is in trouble about his commission as colonel of artillery. Two months ago the Governor of Michigan gave him the commission, and since that time he has been wearing a colonel's uniform; but General Rosecrans has expressed doubts about his right to assume the rank. Loomis is all right, doubtless, and to-morrow, when the matter is talked over between the General and himself, it will be settled satisfactorily.
21. I have been running over Russell's diary, "North and South," and must say the Yankee Nation, when looked at through Mr. Russell's spectacles, does not appear enveloped in that star-spangled glory and super-celestial blue with which it is wont to loom up before patriotic eyes on Fourth of July occasions. He has treated us, however, fully as well as we have treated him. We became angry because he told unpleasant truths about us, and he became enraged because we abused him for it. He thanks God that he is not an American; and should not we, in a spirit of conciliation, meet him half way, and feel thankful that he is not?
Flaming dispatches will appear in the Northern papers to-morrow respecting the defeat of John Morgan, by a small brigade of our troops under Colonel Hall. The report will say that forty of the enemy were killed, one hundred and fifty wounded, and one hundred and twenty captured; loss on our side inconsiderable. The reporters have probably contributed largely to the brilliancy of this affair. It is always safe to accept with distrust all reports which affirm that a few men, with little loss, routed, slaughtered, or captured a large force.
Peach and cherry trees are in full bloom. The grass is beginning to creep out. Summer birds occasionally sing around us. In a few weeks more the trees will be in full leaf again.
23. General Negley, who went home some time ago, returned to-day, and, I see, wears two stars.
General Brannan arrived a day or two ago. He was on the train captured by guerrillas, but was rescued a few minutes after.
The boys have a rumor that Bragg is near, and has sent General Rosecrans a very polite note requesting him to surrender Murfreesboro at once. If the latter refuses to accept this most gentlemanly invitation to deliver up all his forces, Bragg proposes to commence an assault upon our works at twelve M., and show us no mercy. This, of course, is reliable.
At sunset rain began to fall, and has continued to pour down steadily ever since. The night is gloomy. Adjutant Wilson, in the next tent, is endeavoring to lift himself from the slough of despond by humming a ditty of true love; but the effort is evidently a failure.
This morning I stood on the bank of the river and observed the pontoniers as they threw their bridge of boats across the stream. Twice each week they unload the pontoons from the wagons, run them into the water, put the scantling from boat to boat, lay down the plank, and thus make a good bridge on which men, horses, and wagons can cross. After completing the bridge, they immediately begin to take it up, load the lumber and pontoons on the wagons, and return to camp. They can bridge any stream between this and the Tennessee in an hour, and can put a bridge over that in probably three hours.
General Rosecrans makes a fine display in his visits about the camps. He is accompanied by his staff and a large and well-equipped escort, with outriders in front and rear. The National flag is borne at the head of the column.
Rosecrans is of medium height and stout, not quite so tall as McCook, and not nearly so heavy. McCook is young, and very fleshy. Rousseau is by far the handsomest man in the army; tall and well-proportioned, but possibly a little too bulky. R. S. Granger is a little man, with a heavy, light sandy mustache. Wood is a small man, short and slim, with dark complexion, and black whiskers. Crittenden, the major-general, is a spare man, medium height, lank, common sort of face, well whiskered. Major-General Stanley, the cavalryman, is of good size, gentlemanly in bearing, light complexion, brown hair. McCook and Wood swear like pirates, and affect the rough-and-ready style. Rousseau is given to profanity somewhat, and blusters occasionally. Rosecrans indulges in an oath now and then; but is a member of the Catholic Church in good standing. Crittenden, I doubt not, swears like a trooper, and yet I have never heard him do so. He is a good drinker; and the same can be said of Rousseau. Rosecrans is an educated officer, who has rubbed much against the world, and has experience. Rousseau is brave, but knows little of military science. McCook is a chucklehead. Wood and Crittenden know how to blow their own horns exceedingly well. Major-General Thomas is tall, heavy, sedate; whiskers and head grayish. Puts on less style than any of those named, and is a gentlemanly, modest, reliable soldier. Rosecrans and McCook shave clean; Crittenden and Wood go the whole whisker; Thomas shaves the upper lip. Rosecrans' nose is large, and curves down; Rousseau's is large, and curves up; McCook has a weak nose, that would do no credit to a baby. Rosecrans' laugh is not one of the free, open, hearty kind; Rousseau has a good laugh, but shows poor teeth; McCook has a grin, which excites the suspicion that he is either still very green or deficient in the upper story.
22. Colonels Wilder and Funkhauser called. We had just disposed of a bottle of wine, when Colonel Harker made his appearance, and we entered forthwith upon another. Colonel Wilder expects to accomplish a great work with his mounted infantry. He is endeavoring to arm them with the Henry rifle, a gun which, with a slight twist of the wrist, will throw sixteen bullets in almost that many seconds. I have no doubt he will render his command very efficient and useful, for he has wonderful energy and nerve, and is, besides, sensible and practical. Colonel Harker is greatly disappointed because he was not confirmed as brigadier-general during the last session of Congress. He is certainly young enough to afford to wait; but he seems to fear that, after commanding a brigade for nine months, he may have to go back to a regiment. He feels, too, that, being a New Jersey man, commanding Ohio troops, neither State will take an interest in him, and render him that assistance which, under other circumstances, either of them might do. These gentlemen dined with me. Harker and Wilder expressed a high opinion of General Buell. Wilder says Gilbert is a d—d scoundrel, and responsible for the loss at Mumfordsville. Harker, however, defended Gilbert, and is the only man I have ever heard speak favorably of him.
The train coming from Nashville to-day was fired upon and four men wounded. Yesterday there was a force of the enemy along the whole south front of our picket line.
From the cook's tent, in the rear, comes a devotional refrain:
"I'm gui-en home, I'm gui-en home, To d-i-e no mo'."
24. We are still pursuing the even tenor of our way on the fortifications. There are no indications of an advance. The army, however, is well equipped, in good spirits, and prepared to move at an hour's notice. Its confidence in Rosecrans is boundless, and whatever it may be required to do, it will, I doubt not, do with a will.
The conscript law, and that clause especially which provides for the granting of a limited number of furloughs, gives great satisfaction to the men. They not only feel that they will soon have help, but that if their conduct be good, there will be a fair chance for them to see home before the expiration of their term of enlistment. Hitherto they have been something like prisoners without hope.
26. Another little misfortune has occurred to our arms at Brentwood. The Twenty-second Wisconsin, numbering four hundred men, was captured by General Forrest. The rebels succeed admirably in gathering up and consolidating our scattered troops.
The Adjutant and others are having a concert in the next tent, and certainly laugh more over their own performance than singers do generally. They have just executed
"The foin ould Irish gintleman,"
And are at this present writing shouting
"Vive l' America, home of the free."
I think it more than probable that as their enthusiasm increases, the punch in their punch-bowl diminishes.
27. A mule has just broken the stillness of the night by a most discordant bray, and I am reminded that all horses are to be turned over to the mounted infantry regiments, and mules used in the teams in their stead. Mules are far better for the wagons than horses. They require less food, are hardier, and stand up better under rough work and irregular feeding.
I catch the faintest possible sound of a violin. Some indomitable spirit is enlivening the night, and trenching upon the Sabbath, by giving loose rein to his genius.
During the light baggage and rapid marches of the latter part of Buell's administration, together with the mishaps at Perryville, the string band of the Third was very considerably damaged; but the boys have recently resuscitated and revived it to all the glory and usefulness of former days. One of its sweetest singers, however, has either deserted or retired to hospital or barracks, where the duties are less onerous and life more safe. His greatest hit was a song known as "The Warble," in which the following lines occurred:
"Mein fadter, mein modter, mein sister, mein frau, Und zwi glass of beer for meinself. Dey called mein frau one blacksmit-schopt; Und such dings I never did see in my life."
When, at Shelbyville and Huntsville, this melody mingled with the moonlight of summer evenings, people generally were deluded into the supposition that an ethereal songster was on the wing, enrapturing them with harmonies of other spheres. But sutlers, it is well known, are men of little or no refinement, with ears for money rather than music. To their unappreciative and perverted senses the warble seemed simply a dolorous appeal for more whisky; and while delivering up their last bottle to get rid of the warbler and his friends, in order that they might get sleep themselves, they have been known to express the hope that both song and singers might, without unnecessary delay, go to that region which we are told is paved with good intentions.
The voice of a colored person in the rear breaks in upon my recollections of the warbler. The most interesting and ugliest negro now in camp, is known as Simon Bolivar Buckner. He is an animal that has been worth in his day eighteen hundred dollars, an estray from the estate of General S. B. Buckner. He manages, by blacking boots and baking leather pies, to make money. He deluded me into buying a second pie from him one day, by assuring me, "on honah, sah, dat de las pie was better'n de fus', case he hab strawberries in him." True, the pie had "strawberries in him," but not enough to pay one for chewing the whit-leather crust.
30. Read Judge Holt's review of the proceedings and findings in the case of Fitzjohn Porter. If the review presents the facts fairly, Porter should have been not only dismissed, but hung. An officer who, with thirteen thousand men, will remain idle when within sight of the dust and in hearing of the shouts of the enemy and the noise of battle, knowing that his friends are contending against superior numbers, and having good reason to believe that they are likely to be overwhelmed, deserves no mercy.
It is dull. I have hardly enough to do to keep me awake. The members of the staff each have their separate duties to perform, which keep them more or less engaged. The quartermaster issues clothing to the troops; the commissary of subsistence issues food; the inspector looks into the condition of each regiment as to clothing, arms, and camp equipage; the adjutant makes out the detail for guard and other duties, and transmits orders received from the division commander to the regiments. All of these officers have certain reports to make also, which consumes much of their time.
1. Adjutant Wilson received a letter to-day, written in a hand that bespoke the writer to be feminine. He looked at the name, but could not recollect having heard it before. The writer assured him, however, that she was an old friend, and said many tender and complimentary things of him. He tried to think; called the roll of his lady friends, but the advantage, as people say, which the writer had of him was entirely too great. If he had ever heard the name, he found it impossible now to recall it. Finally, as he was going to fold the letter and put it away, he noticed one line at the top, written upside down. On reading it the mystery was solved: "If this reaches you on the first day of April, a reply to it is not expected."
The colored gentlemen of the staff are in a great state of excitement. One of the number has been illustrating the truth of that maxim which affirms that a nigger will steal. The war of words is terrible. "Yer d—d ole nigger thief," says one. "Hush! I'll break yer black jaw fer yer," says another. They say very few harder things of each other than "you dam nigger." One would think the pot in this instance would hardly take to calling the kettle black, but it does. They use the word nigger to express contempt, dislike, or defiance, as often and freely as the whites. Finally, the parties to this controversy agree to leave the matter to "de Co'nel." The accused was the first to thrust his head into my tent, and ask permission to enter. "Dey is a gwine to tell yer as I stole some money from ole Hason. I didn't done it, Co'nel; as sure as I'm a livin' I didn't done it." "Yaas, yer did, you lyin' nigger!" broke in old Hason. "Now, Co'nel, I want ter tell you the straight of it." I listened patiently to the old man's statement and to the evidence adduced, and as it was very clear that the accused was guilty, put him under guard.
The first day of April has been very pleasant, cool but clear. The night is beautiful; the moon is at its full almost, and its light falls mellow and soft on the scene around me. The redoubt is near, with its guns standing sentinel at each corner, the long line of earthworks stretches off to the right and left; the river gleams and sparkles as it flows between its rugged banks of stone; the shadowy flags rise and fall lazily; the sentinels walk to and fro on their beats with silvered bayonets, and the dull glare of the camp-fires, and the snow-white tents, are seen every-where.
Somebody, possibly the Adjutant, whose thoughts may be still running on the fair unknown, breaks forth:
"O why did she flatter my boyish pride, She is going to leave me now;"
And then, with a vehemence which betokens desperation,
"I'll hang my harp on a willow tree, And off to the wars again."
From which I infer it would be highly satisfactory to the young man to be demolished at the enemy's earliest convenience.
A large amount of stores are accumulated here. Forty thousand boxes of hard bread are stacked in one pile at the depot, and greater quantities of flour, pork, vinegar, and molasses, than I have ever seen before.
3. An Indiana newspaper reached camp to-day containing an obituary notice of a lieutenant of the Eighty-eighth Indiana. It gives quite a lengthy biographical sketch of the deceased, and closes with a letter which purports to have been written on the battle-field by one Lieutenant John Thomas, in which Lieutenant Wildman, the subject of the sketch, is said to have been shot near Murfreesboro, and that his last words were: "Bury me where I have fallen, and do not allow my body to be removed." The letter is exceedingly complimentary to the said lamented young man, and affirms that "he was the hero of heroes, noted for his reckless daring, and universally beloved." The singular feature about this whole matter is that the letter was written by the lamented young officer himself to his own uncle. The deceased justifies his action by saying that he had expended two dollars for foolscap and one dollar for postage stamps in writing to the d—d old fool, and never received a reply, and he concluded finally he would write a letter which would interest him. It appears by the paper referred to that the lieutenant succeeded. The uncle and his family are in mourning for another martyr gone—the hero of heroes and the universally beloved.
Lieutenant DuBarry, topographical engineer, has just been promenading the line of tents in his nightshirt, with a club, in search of some scoundrel, supposed to be the Adjutant, who has stuffed his bed with stove-wood and stones. Wilson, on seeing the ghostly apparition approach, breaks into song:
"Meet me by moonlight alone, And there I will tell you a tale."
Lieutenant Orr, commissary of subsistence, coming up at this time, remarks to DuBarry that he "is surprised to see him take it so coolly," whereupon the latter, notwithstanding the chilliness of the atmosphere, and the extreme thinness of his dress, expresses himself with very considerable warmth. Patterson, a clerk, and as likely to be the offender as any one, now joins the party, and affirms, with great earnestness, that "this practical joke business must end, or somebody will get hurt."
4. Saw Major-General McCook, wife, and staff riding out this morning. General Rosecrans was out this afternoon, but I did not see him. At this hour the signal corps is communicating from the dome of the court-house with the forces at Triune, sixteen miles away, and with the troops at Readyville and other points. In daylight this is done by flags, at night by torches.
5. There are many fine residences in Murfreesboro and vicinity; but the trees and shrubbery, which contributed in a great degree to their beauty and comfort, have been cut or trampled down and destroyed. Many frame houses, and very good ones, too, have been torn down, and the lumber and timber used in the construction of hospitals.
There is a fearful stench in many places near here, arising from decaying horses and mules, which have not been properly buried, or probably not buried at all. The camps, as a rule, are well policed and kept clean; but the country for miles around is strewn with dead animals, and the warm weather is beginning to tell on them.
6. It is said that the Third Regiment, with others, is to leave to-morrow on an expedition which may keep it away for months. No official notice of the matter has been given me, and I trust the report may be unfounded. I should be sorry indeed to be separated from the regiment. I have been with it now two years, and to lose it would be like losing the greater number of my army friends and acquaintances.
7. The incident of the day, to me at least, is the departure of the Third. It left on the two P. M. train for Nashville. I do not think I have been properly treated. They should at least have consulted me before detaching my old regiment. I am informed that Colonel Streight, who is in command of the expedition, was permitted to select the regiments, and the matter has been conducted so secretly that, before I had an intimation of what was contemplated, it was too late to take any steps to keep the Third. I never expect to be in command of it again. It will get into another current, and drift into other brigades, divisions, and army corps. The idea of being mounted was very agreeable to both officers and men; but a little experience in that branch of the service will probably lead them to regret the choice they have made. My best wishes go with them.
All are looking with eager eyes toward Vicksburg. Its fall would send a thrill of joy through the loyal heart of the country, especially if accompanied by the capture of the Confederate troops now in possession.
8. Six months ago this night, parching with thirst and pinched with hunger, we were lying on Chaplin Hills, thinking over the terrible battle of the afternoon, expecting its renewal in the morning, listening to the shots on the picket line, and notified by an occasional bullet that the enemy was occupying the thick woods just in our front, and very near. A little over three months ago we were in the hurry, confusion, anxiety, and suspense of an undecided battle, surrounded by the dead and dying, with the enemy's long line of camp-fires before us. Since then we have had a quiet time, each succeeding day seeming the dullest.
Rode into town this afternoon; invested twenty-five cents in two red apples; spoke to Captain Blair, of Reynolds' staff; exchanged nods with W. D. B., of the Commercial; saw a saddle horse run away with its rider; returned to camp; entertained Shanks, of the New York Herald, for ten minutes; drank a glass of wine with Colonel Taylor, Fifteenth Kentucky, and soon after dropped off to sleep.
A brass band is now playing, away over on the Lebanon pike. The pontoniers are singing a psalm, with a view, doubtless, to making the oaths with which they intend to close the night appear more forcible. The signal lights are waving to and fro from the dome of the court-house. The hungry mules of the Pioneer Corps are making the night hideous with howls. So, and amid such scenes, the tedious hours pass by.
10. A soldier of the Fortieth Indiana, who, during the battle of Stone river, abandoned his company and regiment, and remained away until the fight ended, was shot this afternoon. Another will be shot on the 14th instant for deserting last fall. A man in our division who was sentenced to be shot, made his escape.
It seems these cases were not affected by the new law, and the President's proclamation to deserters. Hitherto deserters have been seldom punished, and, as a rule, never as severely as the law allowed.
My parchment arrived to-day, and I have written the necessary letter of acceptance and taken the oath, and henceforth shall subscribe myself yours, very respectfully, B. G., which, in my case, will probably stand for big goose.
General Rosecrans halted a moment before my quarters this evening, shook hands with me very cordially, and introduced me to his brother, the Bishop, as a young general. The General asked why I had not called. I replied that I knew he must be busy, and did not care to intrude. "True," said he, "I am busy, but have always time to say how d'ye do." He promised me another regiment to replace the Third, and said my boys looked fat enough to kick up their heels. The General's popularity with the army is immense. On review, the other day, he saw a sergeant who had no haversack; calling the attention of the boys to it he said: "This sergeant is without a haversack; he depends on you for food; don't give him a bite; let him starve."
The General appears to be well pleased with his fortifications, and asked me if I did not think it looked like remaining. I replied that the works were strong, and a small force could hold them, and that I should be well pleased if the enemy would attack us here, instead of compelling us to go further south. "Yes," said he, "I wish they would."
General Lytle is to be assigned to Stanley Matthews' brigade. The latter was recently elected judge, and will resign and return to Cincinnati.
The anti-Copperhead resolution business of the army must be pretty well exhausted. All the resolutions and letters on this subject that may appear hereafter may be accepted as bids for office. They have, however, done a great deal of good, and I trust the public will not be forced to swallow an overdose. I had a faint inclination, at one time, to follow the example of my brother officers, and write a patriotic letter, but concluded to reserve my fire, and have had reason to congratulate myself since that I did so, for these letters have been as plenty as blackberries, and many of them not half so good.
A Republican has not much need to write. His patriotism is taken for granted. He is understood to be willing to go the whole nigger, and, like the ogre of the story books, to whom the most delicious morsel was an old woman, lick his chops and ask for more.
Wilder came in yesterday, with his mounted infantry, from a scout of eight or ten days, bringing sixty or seventy prisoners and a large number of horses.
11. A railway train was destroyed by the rebels near Lavergne yesterday. One hundred officers fell into the hands of the enemy, and probably one hundred thousand dollars in money, on the way to soldiers' families, was taken. This feat was accomplished right under the nose of our troops.
To the uninitiated army life is very fascinating. The long marches, nights of picket, and ordeal of battle are so festooned by the imagination of the inexperienced with shoulder straps, glittering blades, music, banners, and glory, as to be irresistible; but when we sit down to the hard crackers and salt pork, with which the soldier is wont to regale himself, we can not avoid recurring to the loaded tables and delicious morsels of other days, and are likely at such times to put hard crackers and glory on one side, the good things of home and peace on the other and owing probably to the unsubstantial quality of glory, and the adamantine quality of the crackers, arrive at conclusions not at all favorable to army life.
A fellow claiming to have been sent here by the Governor of Maine to write songs for the army, and who wrote songs for quite a number of regiments, was arrested some days ago on the charge of being a spy. Last night he attempted to get away from the guard, and was shot. Drawings of our fortifications were found in his boots. He was quite well known throughout the army, and for a long time unsuspected.
12. Called on General Rousseau. He referred to his trip to Washington, and dwelt with great pleasure on the various efforts of the people along the route to do him honor. At Lancaster, Pennsylvania, they stood in the cold an hour and a half awaiting his appearance. Our division, he informs me, is understood to possess the chivalric and dashing qualities which the people admire. With all due respect, I suggested that dash was a good thing, doubtless, but steady, obstinate, well-directed fighting was better, and, in the end, would always succeed.
W. D. B., of the Commercial, Major McDowell, of Rousseau's staff, and Lieutenant Porter, called this afternoon. My report of the operations of my brigade at Stone river was referred to. Bickham thought it did not do justice to my command, and I have no doubt it is a sorry affair, compared with the elaborate reports of many others. The historian who accepts these reports as reliable, and permits himself to be guided by them through all the windings of a five-days' battle, with the expectation of finally allotting to each one of forty brigades the proper credit, will probably not be successful. My report was called for late one evening, written hastily, without having before me the reports of my regimental commanders, and is incomplete, unsatisfactory to me, and unjust to my brigade.
13. General Thomas called for a moment this evening, to congratulate me on my promotion.
The practical-joke business is occasionally resumed. Quartermaster Wells was astonished to find that his stove would not draw, or, rather, that the smoke, contrary to rule, insisted upon coming down instead of going up. Examination led to the discovery that the pipe was stuffed with old newspapers. Their removal heated the stove and his temper at the same time, but produced a coolness elsewhere, which the practical joker affected to think quite unaccountable.
14. Colonel Dodge, commanding the Second Brigade of Johnson's division, called this afternoon. The Colonel is a very industrious talker, chewer, spitter, and drinker. He has been under some tremendous hot firing, I can tell you! Well, if he don't know what heavy firing is, and the d—dest hottest work, too, then there is no use for men to talk! The truth is, however much other men may try to conceal it, his command stood its ground at Shiloh, and never gave back an inch. No, sir! Every other brigade faltered or fell back, damned if they didn't; but he drove the enemy, got 'em started, other brigades took courage and joined in the chase. At Stone river he drove the enemy again. Bullets came thicker'n hail; but his men stood up. He was with 'em. Damned hot, you better believe! Well, if he must say it himself, he knew what hard fighting was. Why, sir, one of his men has five bullets in him; dam' me if he hasn't five! Says he, Dick says he, how did they hit you so many times? The first time I fired, says Dick, I killed an officer; yes, sir, killed him dead; saw him fall, dam me, if he didn't, sir; and at the same time, says Dick, I got a ball in my leg; rose up to fire again, and got one in my other leg, and one in my thigh, and fell; got on my knees to fire the third time, says Dick, and received two more. Well, you see, the firing was hotter'n hell, and Colonel Dodge knows what hot firing is, sir!
15. Since the fight at Franklin, and the capture of the passenger train at Lavergne, nothing of interest has occurred. There were only fifteen or twenty officers on the captured train. A large amount of money, however, fell into rebel hands. The postmaster of our division was on the train, and the Confederates compelled him to accompany them ten miles. He says they could have been traced very easily by the letters which they opened and scattered along the road.
16. Morgan, with a considerable force, has taken possession of Lebanon, and troops are on the way thither to rout him. The tunnel near Gallatin has been blown up, and in consequence trains on the Nashville and Louisville Railroad are not running.
17. Am member of a board whose duty it will be to inquire into the competency, qualifications, and conduct of volunteer officers. The other members are Colonels Scribner, Hambright, and Taylor. We called in a body on General Rousseau, and found him reading "Les Miserables." He apologized for his shabby appearance by saying that he had become interested in a foolish novel. Colonel Scribner expressed great admiration for the characters Jean Val Jean and Javort, when the General confessed to a very decided anxiety to have Javort's neck twisted. This is the feeling of the reader at first; but when he finds the old granite man taking his own life as punishment for swerving once from what he considered to be the line of duty, our admiration for him is scarcely less than that we entertain for Jean Val Jean.
18. The Columbus (Ohio) Journal, of late date, under the head of "Arrivals," says: "General John Beatty has just married one of Ohio's loveliest daughters, and is stopping at the Neil House. Good for the General." This is a slander. I trust the paper of the next day made proper correction, and laid the charge, where it belongs, to wit: on General Samuel. If General Sam continues to demean himself in this youthful manner, I shall have to beg him to change his name. My reputation can not stand many more such blows. What must those who know I have a wife and children think, when they see it announced that I have married again, and am stopping at the Neil with "one of Ohio's loveliest daughters?" What a horrible reflection upon the character of a constant and faithful husband! (This last sentence is written for my wife.)
19. Colonel Taylor and I rode over to General Rousseau's this morning. Returning, we were joined by Colonel Nicholas, Second Kentucky; Colonel Hobart, Twenty-first Wisconsin, and Lieutenant-Colonel Bingham, First Wisconsin, all of whom took dinner with me. We had a right pleasant party, but rather boisterous, possibly, for the Sabbath day.
There is at this moment a lively discussion in progress in the cook's tent, between two African gentlemen, in regard to military affairs. Old Hason says: "Oh, hush, darkey!" Buckner replies: "Yer done no what'r talkin' about, nigger." "I'll bet yer a thousand dollars." "Hush! yer ain't got five cents." "Gor way, yer don't no nuffin'." And so the debate continues; but, like many others, leads simply to confusion and bitterness.
20. This evening an order came transferring my brigade to Negley's division. It will be known hereafter as the Second Brigade, Second Division, Fourteenth Army Corps.
28. Late last Monday night an officer from Stokes' battery reported to me for duty. I told him I had received no orders, and knew of no reason why he should report to me, and that in all probability General Samuel Beatty, of Van Cleve's division, was the person to whom he should report. I regarded the matter as simply one of the many blunders which were occurring because there were two men of the same name and rank commanding brigades in this army; and so, soon after the officer left, I went to bed. Before I had gotten fairly to sleep, some one knocked again at my tent-door. While rising to strike a light the person entered, and said that he had been ordered to report to me. Supposing it to be the officer of the battery persisting in his mistake, I replied as before, and then turned over and went to sleep. I thought no more of the matter until 11:30 A. M. next day, when an order came which should have been delivered twenty-four hours before, requiring me to get my brigade in readiness, and with one regiment of Colonel Harker's command and the Chicago Board of Trade Battery, move toward Nashville at two o'clock Tuesday morning. Then, of course, I knew why the two officers had reported to me on the night previous, and saw that there had been an inexcusable delay in the transmission of the order to me. Giving the necessary directions to the regimental commanders, and sending notice to Harker and the battery, I proceeded with all dispatch direct to Department head-quarters, whence the order had issued, to explain the delay. When I entered General Rosecrans shook hands with me cordially, and seemed pleased to see me; but I had no sooner announced my business, and informed him that the order had been delivered to me not ten minutes before, than he flew into a violent passion, and asked if a battery and regiment had not reported to me the night before. I replied yes, and was proceeding to give my reasons for supposing that the officers reporting them were in error, when he shouted: "Why, in hell and damnation, did you not mount your horse and come to head-quarters to inquire what it meant?" I undertook again to tell him I had received no order, and as my brigade had been detailed to work on fortifications I was expecting none; that I had taken it for granted that it was another of the many mistakes occurring constantly because there were two officers of the same name and rank in the army, and had so told the parties reporting; but he would not listen to me. His face was inflamed with anger, his rage uncontrollable, his language most ungentlemanly, abusive, and insulting. Garfield and many officers, commissioned and non-commissioned, and possibly not a few civilians, were present to witness my humiliation. For an instant I was tempted to strike him; but my better sense checked me. I turned on my heel and left the room. Death would have had few terrors for me just then. I had never felt such bitter mortification before, and it seemed to me that I was utterly and irreparably disgraced. However, I had a duty to perform, and while in the execution of that I would have time to think.
My brigade, one regiment of Colonel Harker's brigade, and the Chicago Board of Trade Battery, were already on the road. We marched rapidly, and that night (Tuesday) encamped in the woods north of Lavergne. Rain fell most of the night; but the men had shelter tents, and I passed the time comfortably in a wagon. The next morning at daylight we started again, and a little after sunrise arrived at Scrougeville. Here my orders directed me to halt and watch the movements of the enemy. The rebel cavalry, in pretty strong force, had been in the vicinity during the day and evening before; but on learning of our approach had galloped away. We were exceedingly active, and scoured the country for miles around, but did not succeed in getting sight of even one of these dashing cavaliers.
The sky cleared, the weather became delightful, and the five days spent in the neighborhood of Scrougeville were very agreeable. It was a pleasant change from the dull routine of camp duty, and my men were in exuberant spirits, excessively merry and gay. While there, a good-looking non-commissioned officer of the battery came up to me, and, extending his hand, said: "How do you do, General?" I shook him by the hand, but could not for the life of me recollect that I had ever seen him before. Seeing that I failed to recognize him, he said: "My name is Concklin. I knew you at Sandusky, and used to know your wife well." Still I could not remember him. "You knew General Patterson?" he asked. "Yes." "Mary Patterson?" "Yes; I shall never forget her." "Do you recollect a stroll down to the bay shore one moonlight night?" Of course I remembered it. This was John Concklin, Mary's cousin. I remembered very well how he devoted himself to one I felt considerable interest in, while his cousin Mary and I talked in a jocular way about the cost of housekeeping, both agreeing that it would require but a very small sum to set up such an establishment as our modest ambition demanded. I was heartily glad to meet the young man. He looks very different from the smooth-faced boy of ten years ago. I was slightly jealous of him then, and I do not know but I might have reason to be now, for he is a fine, manly fellow.
At Scrougeville—how softly the name ripples on the ear!—we were entertained magnificently. Above us was the azure canopy; around us a dense forest of cedars, and in a shady nook, a sylvan retreat as it were, a barrel of choice beer. The mocking-birds caroled from the evergreen boughs. The plaintive melody of the dove came to us from over the hills, and pies at a quarter each poured in upon us in profusion; and such pies! When night threw over us her shadowy mantle, and the crescent moon blessed us with her mellow light, the notes of the whip-poor-will mingling with the bark of watch-dogs and the barbaric melody of the Ethiopian, floated out on the genial air, and, as stretched on the green sward, we smoked our pipes and drank our beer, thoughts of fairy land possessed us, and we looked wonderingly around and inquired, is Scrougeville a reality or a vision? I fear we shall never see the like of Scrougeville again.
On the morning of the 26th instant I received a telegram ordering our immediate return, and we reached Murfreesboro at two o'clock P. M. same day.
I had not forgotten the terrible scolding received from the General just before starting on this expedition; in fact, I am not likely ever to forget it. It had now been a millstone on my heart for a week. I could not stand it. What could I do? At first I thought I would send in my resignation, but that I concluded would afford me no relief; on the contrary, it would look as if I had been driven out of the army. My next impulse was to ask to be relieved from duty in this department, and assigned elsewhere; but on second thought this did not seem desirable. It would appear as if I was running away from the displeasure of the commanding general, and would affect me unfavorably wherever I might go. I felt that if I was to blame at all in this matter, it was in a very slight degree. The General's language was utterly inexcusable. He was a man simply, and I concluded finally that I would not leave either the army or the department under a cloud. I, therefore, sat down and wrote the following letter:
"MURFREESBORO, April 27, 1863. "MAJOR-GENERAL W. S. ROSECRANS, "Commanding Department of the Cumberland:
"SIR—Your attack upon me, on the morning of the 21st instant, has been the subject of thought since. I have been absent on duty five days, and, therefore, have not referred to it before. It is the first time since I entered the army, two years ago, as it is the first time in my life, that it has been my misfortune to listen to abuse so violent and unreasonable as that with which you were pleased to favor me in the presence of the aids, orderlies, officers, and visitors, at your quarters. While I am unwilling to rest quietly under the disgrace and ridicule which attaches to the subject of such a tirade, I do not question your right to censure when there has been remissness in the discharge of duties; and to such reasonable admonition I am ever ready to yield respectful and earnest attention; but I know of no rule, principle, or precedent, which confers upon the General commanding this Department the right to address language to an officer which, if used by a private soldier to his company officer, or by a company officer to a private soldier, would be deemed disgraceful and lead to the punishment of the one or the dismissal of the other. Insisting, therefore, upon that right, which I conceive belongs to the private in the ranks, as well at to every subordinate officer in the army who has been aggrieved, I demand from you an apology for the insulting language addressed to me on the morning of the 21st instant.
"I am, sir, respectfully, "Your obedient servant, "JOHN BEATTY, Brig.-Gen'l."
I sent this. Would it be regarded as an act of presumption and treated with ridicule and contempt? I feared it might, and sat thinking anxiously over the matter until my orderly returned, with the envelope marked "W. S. R.," the army mode of acknowledging receipt of letter or order. Fifteen minutes later this reply came:
"HEAD-QUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND,} "MURFREESBORO, April, 1863. }
"MY DEAR GENERAL—I have just received the inclosed note, marked "Private," but addressed to me as commanding the Department of the Cumberland. It compromises you in so many ways that I return it to you. I am your friend, and regretted that the circumstances of the case compelled me, as a commanding officer, to express myself warmly about a matter which might have cost us dearly, to one for whom I felt so kindly. You will report to me in person, without delay.
W. S. ROSECRANS, Maj.-Gen'l. "BRIG.-GEN'L JOHN BEATTY, Fortifications, Stone river.
"P. S.—It might be well to bring this inclosure with you."
The inclosure referred to was, of course, my letter to him. The answer was not, by any means, an apology. On the contrary, it assumed that he was justifiable in censuring me as he did, and yet it expressed good feeling for me. It was probably written in haste, and without thought. It was not satisfactory; but I was led by it to hope that I could reach a point which would be.
I obeyed the order to report promptly. He took me into his private office, where we talked over the whole affair together. He expressed regret that he had not known all the circumstances before, and said, in conclusion: "I am your friend. Some men I like to scold, for I don't like them; but I have always entertained the best of feeling for you." Taking me, at the close of our interview, from his private office into the public room, where General Garfield and others were, he turned and asked if it was all right—if I was satisfied. I expressed my thanks, shook hands with him, and left, feeling a thousand times more attached to him, and more respect for him than I had ever felt before. He had the power to crush me, for at this time he is almost omnipotent in this department, and by a simple word he might have driven me from the army, disgraced in the estimation of both soldiers and citizens. His magnanimity and kindness, however, lifted a great load from my spirits, and made me feel like a new man; and I am very sure that he felt better and happier also, for no man does a generous act to one below him in rank or station, without being recompensed therefor by a feeling of the liveliest satisfaction. I may have been too sensitive, and may not, probably did not, realize fully the necessity for prompt action, and the weight of responsibility which rested upon the General. There are times when there is no time for explanation; great exigencies, in the presence of which lives, fortunes, friendships, and all matters of lesser importance must give way; moments when men's thoughts are so concentrated on a single object, and their whole being so wrought up, that they can see nothing, know nothing, but the calamity they desire to avert, or the victory they desire to achieve. Nashville had been threatened. To have lost it, or allowed it to be gutted by the enemy, would have been a great misfortune to the army, and brought down upon Rosecrans not only the anathemas of the War Department, but would have gone far to lose him the confidence of the whole people. He supposed the enemy's movements had been checked, and was startled and thrown off his balance by discovering that they were still unopposed. The error was attributable in part possibly to me, in part to a series of blunders, which had resulted from the fact that there were two persons in the army of the same name and rank, but mainly to those who failed to transmit the order in proper time.