29. Our large tents have been taken away, and shelter tents substituted. This evening, when the boys crawled into the latter, they gave utterance, good-humoredly, to every variety of howl, bark, snap, whine, and growl of which the dog is supposed to be capable.
Colonel George Humphreys, Eighty-eighth Indiana, whom I supposed to be a full-blooded Hoosier, tells me he is a Scotchman, and was born in Ayrshire, in the same house in which Robert Burns had birth. His grandfather, James Humphreys, was the neighbor and companion of the poet. It was of him he wrote this epitaph, at an ale-house, in the way of pleasantry:
"Below these stanes lie Jamie's banes. O! Death, in my opinion, You ne'er took sic a blither'n bitch Into thy dark dominion."
30. This afternoon called on General Thomas; met General R. S. Granger; paid my respects to General Negley, and stopped for a moment at General Rousseau's. The latter was about to take a horseback ride with his daughter, to whom I was introduced.
1. The One Hundred and Thirteenth Ohio is at Franklin. Colonel Wilcox has resigned; Lieutenant-Colonel Mitchell will succeed to the colonelcy. I rode over the battle-field with the latter this afternoon.
4. Two men from Breckenridge's command strayed into our lines to-day.
7. Colonels Hobart, Taylor, Nicholas, and Captain Nevin spent the afternoon with me.
The intelligence from Hooker's army is contradictory and unintelligible. We hope it was successful, and yet find little beside the headlines in the telegraphic column to sustain that hope. The German regiments are said to have behaved badly. This is, probably, an error. Germans, as a rule, are reliable soldiers. This, I think, is Carl Schurz's first battle; an unfortunate beginning for him.
9. The arrest of Vallandingham, we learn from the newspapers, is creating a great deal of excitement in the North. I am pleased to see the authorities commencing at the root and not among the branches.
I have just read Consul Anderson's appeal to the people of the United States in favor of an extensive representation of American live stock, machinery, and manufactures, at the coming fair in Hamburg. Friend James made a long letter of it; and, I doubt not, drank a gallon of good Dutch beer after each paragraph.
11. The Confederate papers say Streight's command was surrendered to four hundred and fifty rebels. I do not believe it. The Third Ohio would have whipped that many of the enemy on any field and under any circumstances. The expedition was a foolish one. Colonel Harker, who knows Streight well, predicted the fate which has overtaken him. He is brave, but deficient in judgment. The statement that his command surrendered to an inferior force is, doubtless, false. Forrest had, I venture to say, nearer four thousand and fifty than four hundred and fifty. The rebels always have a great many men before a battle, but not many after. They profess still to believe in the one-rebel-to-three-Yankee theory, and make their statements to correspond. The facts when ascertained will, I have no doubt, show that the Union brigade was pursued by an overwhelming force, and being exhausted by constant riding, repeated fights, want of food and sleep, surrendered after ammunition had given out and all possibility of escape gone. The enemy is strong in cavalry, and it is not at all probable that he would have sent but four hundred and fifty men to look after a brigade, which had boldly ventured hundreds of miles inside his lines. In fact, General Forrest seldom, if ever, travels with so small a command as he is said to have had on this occasion.
13. An order has been issued prohibiting women from visiting the army. I infer from this that a movement is contemplated.
14. General Negley called to-day, and remained for half an hour. He is a large, rosy-cheeked, handsome, affable man, and a good disciplinarian.
I am going to have a horse-race in the morning with Major McDowell, of Rousseau's staff. Stakes two bottles of wine.
When we entered Murfreesboro, nearly a year ago, the boys brought in a lame horse, which they had picked up on the road. The horse hobbled along with difficulty, and for a long time was used to carry the knapsacks and guns of soldiers who were either too unwell or too lazy to transport these burdens themselves. The horse had belonged to a Texas cavalryman, and had been abandoned when so lame as to be unfit for service. Finally, when his shattered hoof got well, he was transferred from the hospital department to the quartermaster's, where he became a favorite. The quartermaster called my attention to the horse, and I had him appraised and took him for my own use. Under the skillful and attentive hands of my hostler he soon shook off his shaggy coat of ugly brown, and put on one of velvety black. After a few days of trial I discovered not only that he was an easy goer, but had the speed of the wind. When at his fastest pace he is liable to overreach; it was thus that his left fore hoof had been shattered. To prevent a recurrence of the accident, I keep his hoof protected by leathers. I believe he is the fastest horse in the Army of the Cumberland.
15. Major McDowell did not put in an appearance until after I had returned from my morning ride. He brought Colonel Loomis with him to witness the grand affair; but as it was late, we finally concluded to postpone the race until another morning.
Some one has been kind enough to lay on my table a handsome bunch of red pinks and yellow roses.
My staff has been increased, the late addition being "U. S.," a large and very lazy yellow dog. The two letters which give him his title are branded on his shoulder. He sticks very close to me, for the reason, possibly, that I do not kick him, and say "Get out," as most persons are tempted to do when they look upon his most unprepossessing visage. He is a solemn dog, and probably has had a rough row to hoe through life. At times, when I speak an encouraging word, he brightens up, and makes an effort to be playful; but cheerfulness is his forte no more than "fiten" was A. Ward's, and he soon relapses into the deepest melancholy.
16. Read Emil Schalk's article on Hooker. It is an easy matter for that gentleman to sit in his library, plan a campaign, and win a battle. I could do that myself; but when we undertake to make the campaign, fight the battle, and win the victory, we find it very much more difficult. Book farmers are wonderfully successful on paper, and show how fortunes may be gathered in a single season, but when they come down to practical farming, they discover quite often that frost, or rain, or drouth, plays the mischief with their theories, and renders them bankrupt.
It can be demonstrated, doubtless, that a certain blow, delivered at a certain place and time, against a certain force, will crush it; but does it not require infinite skill and power to select the place and time with certainty? A broken bridge, swollen stream, or even the most trifling incident, which no man can foresee or overrule, may disarrange and render futile the best-laid plans, and lead to defeat and disaster. After a battle we can easily look back and see where mistakes have been made; but it is more difficult, if not impossible, to look forward and avoid them. War is a blind and uncertain game at best, and whoever plays it successfully must not only hold good cards, but play them discreetly, and under the most favorable circumstances.
17. Starkweather informs me that he has been urged to return to Wisconsin and become a candidate for governor, and for fear he might accede to the wishes of the people in this regard, the present governor was urging his promotion. He is still undecided whether to accept a brigadier's commission or the nomination for this high civil office. Wind.
18. Two deserters came into our lines to-day. They were members of a regiment in Cleburne's division, and left their command at Fosterville, ten or fifteen miles out. They represent the Southern army in our front as very strong, in good condition and fine spirits. The rebel successes on the Rappahannock have inspired them with new life, and have, to some extent, dispirited us. We do not, however, build largely on the Eastern army. It is an excellent body of men, in good discipline, but for some reason it has been unfortunate. When we hear, therefore, that the Eastern army is going to fight, we make up our minds that it is going to be defeated, and when the result is announced we feel sad enough, but not disappointed.
19. Generals Rosecrans, Negley, and Garfield, with the staffs of the two former, appeared on the field where I was drilling the brigade. General Rosecrans greeted me very cordially. I am satisfied that those who allow themselves to be damned once without remonstrance are very likely to be damned always.
I am becoming quite an early riser; have seen the sun rise every morning for two weeks. Saw the moon over my right shoulder. Lucky month ahead. Am devoting a little more time than usual to my military books.
Colonel Moody, Seventy-fourth Ohio, has resigned.
20. This afternoon I received orders to be in readiness to move at a moment's notice.
21. The days now give us a specimen of the four seasons. At sunrise it is pretty fair winter for this latitude. An hour after, good spring; at noon, midsummer; at sunset, fall. Flies are too numerous to mention even by the million. They come on drill at 8 A. M., and continue their evolutions until sun-down.
Wilson, Orr, and DuBarry are indisposed. My cast-iron constitution holds good. As a rule, I take no medicine or medical advice. In a few instances I have acceded to the wishes of my friends, and applied to the doctors; but have been careful not to allow their prescriptions to get further than my vest pocket.
The colt has just whinnied in response to another horse. He is in fine condition; coat as sleek and glossy as that of a bridegroom. Yesterday I rode him on drill, and the little scamp got into a quarrel with another horse, reared up, and made a plunge that came near unseating me. He agrees with Wilson's horse very well, but seems to think it his duty to exercise a sort of paternal care over him; and so on all occasions when possible he takes the reins of Wilson's bridle between his teeth and holds it tightly, as if determined that the speed of the Adjutant's horse should be regulated by his own. My black is also in excellent condition, and certainly very fast. My race has not yet come off.
23. Received a box of catawba wine and pawpaw brandy from Colonel James G. Jones, half of which I was requested to deliver to General Rosecrans, and the other half keep to drink to the Colonel's health, which at present is very poor.
Colonel Gus Wood called this afternoon. He is one of those who were captured on the railroad train near Lavergne, 10th of last April, and has returned to camp via Tullahoma, Chattanooga, and Richmond. He says the rebel troops are in good condition and good spirits; thinks there is an immense force in our front, and that it would not be advisable to advance.
The enlisted men of the Third are at Annapolis, Maryland, and will soon be at Camp Chase, Ohio. The officers are in Libby.
The box of cigars presented to me by my old friend, W. H. Marvin, still holds out. Whenever I am in a great straight for a smoke I try one; but I have not yet succeeded in finding a good one. I affect to be very liberal, and pass the box around freely; but all who have tried the cigars once insist that they do not smoke. They will probably last to the end of the war.
26. The privates of the Eighty-eighth Indiana presented a two-hundred-dollar sword to Colonel Humphreys, and the Colonel felt it to be his duty to invest the price of the sword in beer for the boys.
Lieutenant Orr was kind enough to give me a field glass.
Hewitt's Kentucky battery has been assigned to me. Colonel Loomis has assumed command of his battery again. His commission as colonel was simply a complimentary one, conferred by the Governor of Michigan. He should be recognized by the War Department as colonel. No man in the army is better entitled to the position. His services at Perryville and Stone river, to say nothing of those in West Virginia and North Alabama, would be but poorly requited by promotion.
Hewitt's battery has not been fortunate in the past. It was captured at this place last summer, when General T. T. Crittenden was taken, and lost quite a number of men, horses, and one gun, in the battle of Stone river.
28. At midnight orderlies went clattering around the camps with orders for the troops to be supplied with five days' provisions, and in readiness to march at a moment's notice. We expected to be sent away this morning, but no orders have yet come to move.
Mrs. Colonel B. F. Scribner sent me a very handsome bouquet with her compliments.
Mr. Furay accompanied Vallandingham outside the Federal lines, and received from him a parting declaration, written in pencil and signed by himself, wherein he claimed that he was a citizen of Ohio and of the United States, brought there by force and against his will, and that he delivered himself up as a prisoner of war.
30. Captain Gilbert E. Winters, A. C. S., took tea with me. He is as jovial as the most successful man in the world, and overruns with small jokes and stories, many of which he claims were told him by President Lincoln. From this we might infer that the President has very little to do but entertain and amuse gentlemen, who apply to him for appointments, with conversation so coarse that it would be discreditable to a stable boy.
31. Received a letter from daughter Nellie, a little school girl. She "wishes the war was out." So do I.
1. By invitation, the mounted officers of our brigade accompanied General Negley to witness the review of Rousseau's division. There were quite a large number of spectators, including a few ladies. I was introduced to General Wood for the first time, although I have known him by sight, and known of him well, for months. Many officers of Wood's and Negley's divisions were present. After the review, and while the troops were leaving the field, Colonel Ducat, Inspector-General on General Rosecrans' staff, and Colonel Harker, challenged me for a race. Soon after, Major McDowell, of Rousseau's staff, joined the party; and, while we were getting into position for the start, General Wagner, who has a long-legged white horse, which, he insisted, could beat any thing on the ground, took place in the line. McCook, Wood, Loomis, and many others, stopped to witness the race. The horses were all pacers; it was, in fact, a gathering of the best horses in the army, and each man felt confident. I was absolutely sure my black would win, and the result proved that I was correct.
The only time during the race that I was honored with the company of my competitors, was at the starting; then, I observed, they were all up; but a half a minute later the black took the lead. The old fellow had evidently been on the track before, and felt as much interest in the contest as his owner. He knew what was expected of him, and as he went flying over the ground astonished me, as he did every body else. Loomis, who professes to know much about horses, said to me before the race took place, "Your's is a good-looking horse, but he can't beat McDowell's." Before leaving the field, however, he admitted that he had been mistaken. My horse was quicker of foot than he supposed.
2. Called on Colonel Scribner and wife, where I met also Colonel Griffin and wife; had a long conversation about spiritualism, mesmerism, clairvoyance, and subjects of that ilk. At night there was a fearful thunder-storm. The rain descended in torrents, and the peals of thunder were, I think, louder and more frequent than I ever heard before.
Met Loomis; he had accompanied General Rosecrans and others to witness the trial of a machine, invented by Wilder, for tearing up railroad tracks and injuring the rails in such a manner as to render them worthless. Hitherto the rebels, when they have torn up our railroads, have placed the bars crosswise on a pile of ties, set fire to the latter, and so heated and bent the rails; but by heating them again they could be easily straightened and made good. Wilder's instrument twists them so they can not be used again.
The New York Herald, I observe, refers with great severity to General Hascall's administration of affairs in Indiana; saying that "to place such a brainless fool in a military command is not simply an error, it is a crime." This is grossly unjust. Hascall is not only a gallant soldier, but a man of education and excellent sense. He has been active, and possibly severe, in his opposition to treasonable organizations and notoriously disloyal men, whose influence was exerted to discourage enlistments and retard the enforcement of the draft. Unfortunately, in time of civil war, besides the great exigencies which arise to threaten the commonwealth, innumerable lesser evils gather like flies about an open wound, to annoy, irritate, and kill. Against these the law has made no adequate provision. The military must, therefore, often interpose for the public good, without waiting for legislative authority, or the slow processes of the civil law, just as the fireman must proceed to batter down the doors of a burning edifice, without stopping to obtain the owner's permission to enter and subdue the flames.
3. Our division was reviewed to-day. The spectators were numerous, numbering among other distinguished personages Generals Rosecrans, Thomas, Crittenden, Rousseau, Sheridan, and Wood. The weather was favorable, and the review a success. In the evening, a large party gathered at Negley's quarters, where lunch and punch were provided in abundance.
Generals Wood and Crittenden, of the Twenty-first Army Corps, claimed that I did not beat Wagner fairly in the horse-race the other day. I expressed a willingness to satisfy them that I could do so any day; and, further, that my horse could out-go any thing in the Twenty-first Corps. The upshot of the matter is that we have a race arranged for Friday afternoon at four o'clock.
The party was a merry one; gentlemen imbibed freely. General Rosecrans' face was as red as a beet; he had, however, been talking with ladies, and being a diffident man, was possibly blushing. Wood persisted that the Twenty-first Corps could not be beaten in a horse-race, and that Wagner's long-legged white was the most wonderful pacer he ever saw. Negley seemed possessed with the idea that every body was trying to escape, and that it was necessary for him to seize them by the arm and haul them back to the table; he seemed also to be laboring under the delusion that his guests would not drink unless he kept his eye on them, and forced them to do so. Lieutenant-Colonel Ducat, an Irishman of the Charles O'Malley school, insisted upon introducing me to the ladies, but fortunately I was sober enough to decline the invitation. Harker, late in the evening, thought he discovered a disposition on the part of others to play off on him; he felt in duty bound to empty a full tumbler, while they shirked by taking only half of one, which he affirmed was unfair and inexcusable. General Thomas, after sitting at his wine an hour, conversing the while with a lady, arose from the table evidently very much refreshed, and proceeded to make himself exceedingly agreeable. I never knew the old gentleman to be so affable, cordial, and complimentary before.
4. The guns have been reverberating in our front all day. I am told that Sheridan's division advanced on the Shelbyville road. It is probable that a part, if not the whole, of the firing is in his front.
5. Read the Autobiography of Peter Cartright. It is written in the language of the frontier, and presents a rough, strong, uneducated man, full of vanity, courage, and religious zeal. He never reached the full measure of dignity requisite to a minister of the Gospel. There are many amusing incidents in the volume, and many tales of adventures with sinners, in the cabin, on the road, and at camp meeting, in all of which Cartright gets the better of the sons of Belial, and triumphs in the Lord.
8. The One Hundred and Fourth Illinois, Colonel Moore, reported to me for duty, so that I have now four regiments and a battery. This Colonel Moore is the same who was in command at Hartsville, and whose regiment and brigade were captured by the ubiquitous John Morgan last winter. He has but recently returned from the South, where, for a time, he was confined in Libby prison.
The rebels are still prowling about our lines, but making no great demonstrations of power.
9. Governor (?) Billy Williams;, of Indiana, dined with me to-day; he resides in Warsaw, is a politician, a fair speaker, and an inveterate story teller.
Wilson has been appointed Assistant Adjutant-General, with the rank of captain.
13. Had brigade drill in a large clover field, just outside the picket line. The men were in fine condition, well dressed, and well equipped. I kept them on the jump for two hours. Generals Thomas and Negley were present, and were well pleased. I doubt if any brigade in the army, can execute a greater variety of movements than mine, or go through them in better style. My voice is excellent, I can make myself heard distinctly by a whole brigade, without becoming hoarse by hours of exertion. Starkweather has the best voice in the army; he can be heard a mile away.
Our division and brigade flags have been changed from light to dark blue. They look almost like a black no-quarter flag.
We have one solitary rooster: he crows early in the morning, all day, and through the night if it be moonlight. He mounted a stump near my door this morning, stood between the tent and the sun, so that his shadow fell on the canvas, and crowed for half an hour at the top of his voice. I think the scamp knew I was lying abed longer than usual, and was determined to make me get up. He is on the most intimate terms with the soldiers, and struts about the camp with an air of as much importance as if he wore shoulder-straps, and had been reared at West Point. He enters the boys' tents, and inspects their quarters with all the freedom and independence of a regularly detailed inspecting officer. He is a fine type of the soldier, proud and vain, with a tremendous opinion of his own fighting qualities.
16. Had a grand corps drill. The line of troops, when stretched out, was over a mile in length. The Corps was like a clumsy giant, and hours were required to execute the simplest movement. When, for instance, we changed front, my brigade marched nearly, if not quite, a mile to take position in the new line. The waving of banners, the flashing of sabers and bayonets, the clattering to and fro of muddle-headed aids-de-camp on impatient steeds, the heavy rumble of artillery wagons, the blue coats of the soldiers, the golden trappings of the field and staff, made a grand scene for the disinterested spectator to look upon; but with the thermometer ranging from eighty-five to one hundred, it was hard work for the soldier who bore knapsack, haversack, and gun, and calculated to produce an unusual amount of perspiration, and not a little profanity. Major-General Thomas guided the immense mass of men, while the operations of the divisions were superintended by their respective commanders. I fear the brigade and regimental commanders profited little by the drill, but I hope the major-generals learned something. The latter, in their devotion to strategy, have evidently neglected tactics, and failed to unravel the mysteries of the school of the battalion.
In the morning, with my division commander, I called on General Thomas, at his quarters, and had the honor to accept from his hands the most abominable cigar it has ever been my misfortune to attempt to smoke.
19. The army has been lying here now nearly six months. It has of late been kept pretty busy. Sunday morning inspections, monthly inspections of troops, frequent inspections of arms and ammunition, innumerable drills, and constant picketing.
Colonel Miller assumes command of a brigade in Johnson's division. Since the troops were at Nashville he has been commanding what was known as the Second Brigade of Negley's division; but the colonels of the brigade objected to having an imported colonel placed over them, and so Miller takes command of the brigade to which his regiment is attached. He is a brave man and a good officer. Colonel Harker's brigade has been relieved from duty at the fortifications, and is now encamped near us, on the Liberty road.
21. Mrs. Colonel Scribner and Mrs. Colonel Griffin stopped at my tent-door for a moment this morning. They were on horseback, and each had a child on the saddle. They were giving Mrs. Scribner's children a little ride.
Attended divine service in the camp of the Eighty-eighth Indiana, and afterward called for a few minutes on Colonel Moore, of the One Hundred and Fourth Illinois. On returning to my quarters I found Colonels Hobart and Taylor awaiting me. They were about to visit Colonel T. P. Nicholas, of the Second Kentucky Cavalry, and desired me to accompany them. We dined with Colonel Nicholas, and, as is the custom, observed the apostolic injunction of taking something for the stomach's sake. Toward evening we visited the field hospital, and paid our respects to Surgeon Finley and lady. Here, much against our wills, we were compelled to empty a bottle of sherry. On the way to our own quarters Colonel Taylor insisted upon our calling with him to see a friend, with whom we were obliged to take a glass of ale. So that it was about dark when we three sober gentlemen drew near to our respective quarters. We had become immensely eloquent on the conduct of the war, and with great unanimity concluded that if Grant were to take Vicksburg he would be entitled to our profoundest admiration and respect. Hobart, as usual, spoke of his State as if it were a separate and independent nation, whose sons, in imitation of LaFayette, Kosciusko and DeKalb, were devoting their best blood to the maintenance of free government in a foreign land; while Taylor, incited thereto by this eulogy on Wisconsin, took up the cudgel for Kentucky, and dwelt enthusiastically on the gallantry of her men and the unrivaled beauty of her women.
When I dismounted and turned my horse over to the servant, I caught a glimpse of the signal lights on the dome of the court-house, and was astonished to find just double the usual number, in the act of performing a Dutch waltz. I concluded that the Signal Corps must be drunk. Saddened by the reflection that those occupying high places, whose duty it was to let their light shine before men, should be found in this condition of hopeless inebriety, I heaved a sigh which might have been mistaken by the uncharitable for a hic-cough, and lay down to rest.
23. My colt had a sore eye a day or two ago, but it is now getting well. The boys pet him, and by pinching him have taught him to bite. I fear they will spoil him. I have not ridden him much of late. He has a way of walking on his hind legs, for which the saddles in use are not calculated, and there is, consequently, a constant tendency, on the part of the rider, to slip over his tail.
Captain Wells sent a colored teamster, who had just come in, tired and hungry, to his quarters for dinner. Simon Bolivar Buckner, who now has charge of the commissary and culinary branch of the Captain's establishment, was in the act of dining when the teamster entered the tent and seated himself at the table. Buckner, astonished at this unceremonious intrusion, exclaimed: "What you doin' har, sah?" "De Capin tole me fer to come and get my dinnah." "Hell," shouted Buckner, "does de Capin 'spose I'm guiane to eat wid a d—n common nigger? Git out'er har, till I'm done got through."
Buckner gets married every time we move camp. On last Sunday Captain Wells found him dressed very elaborately, in white vest and clean linen, and said to him: "What's in the wind, Buckner?" "Gwine to be married dis ebening, sah." "What time?" "Five o'clock, sah." "Can't spare you, Buckner. Expect friends here to dine at six, and want a good dinner gotten up." "Berry well, sah; can pos'pone de wedin', sah. Dis'pintment to lady, sah; but it'll be all right."
24. The note of preparation for a general advance sounded late last night. Reynolds moved at 4 A. M.; Rousseau at 7; our division will leave at 10. A long line of cavalry is at this moment going out on the Manchester pike.
* * * * *
Rain commenced falling soon after we left Murfreesboro, and continued the remainder of the day. The roads were sloppy, and marching disagreeable. Encamped at Big creek for the night; Rousseau and Reynolds in advance.
Before leaving Murfreesboro I handed John what I supposed to be a package of tea, and told him to fill my canteen with cold tea. On the road I took two or three drinks, and thought it tasted strongly of tobacco; but I accounted for it on the supposition that I had been smoking too much, and that the tobacco taste was in my mouth, and not in the tea. After getting into camp I drank of it again, when it occurred to me that John had neglected to cleanse the canteen before putting the tea in, and go I began to scold him. "I did clean it, sah," retorted John. "Well, this tea," I replied, "tastes very much like tobacco juice." "It is terbacker juice, sah." "Why, how is that?" "You gib me paper terbacker, an' tole me hab some tea made, sah, and I done jes as you tole me, sah." "Why you are a fool, John; did you suppose I wanted you to make me tea out of tobacco?" "Don know, sah; dat's what you tole me, sah; done jes as you tole me, sah."
25. Marched to Hoover's Gap. Heavy skirmishing in front during the day. Reynolds lost fifteen killed, and quite a number wounded. A stubborn fight was expected, and our division moved up to take part in it; but the enemy fell back. Rain has been falling most of the day. A pain in my side admonishes me that I should have worn heavier boots.
26. Moved to Beech Grove. Cannonading in front during the whole day; but we have now become so accustomed to the noise of the guns that it hardly excites remark. The sky is still cloudy, and I fear we shall have more rain to-night. The boys are busy gathering leaves and twigs to keep them from the damp ground. General Negley's quarters are a few rods to my left, and General Thomas' just below us, at the bottom of the hill. Reynolds is four miles in advance.
27. We left Beech Grove, or Jacob's Store, this morning, at five o'clock, and conducted the wagon train of our division through to Manchester. Rosecrans and Reynolds are here. The latter took possession of the place two or three hours before my brigade reached it, and the former came up three hours after we had gone into camp. We are now twelve miles from Tullahoma. The guns are thundering off in the direction of Wartrace. Hardee's corps was driven from Fairfield this morning. My baggage has not come, and I am compelled to sleep on the wet ground in a still wetter overcoat.
28. My baggage arrived during the night, and this morning I changed my clothes and expected to spend the Sabbath quietly; but about 10 A. M. I was ordered to proceed to Hillsboro, a place eight miles from Manchester, on the old stage road to Chattanooga. When we were moving out I met Durbin Ward, who asked me where I was going. I told him. "Why," said he, "I thought, from the rose in your button-hole, that you were going to a wedding." "No," I replied; "but I hope we are going to nothing more serious."
29. My position is one of great danger, being so far from support and so near the enemy. Last night my pickets on the Tullahoma road were driven in, after a sharp fight, and my command was put in line of battle, and so remained for an hour or more; but we were not again disturbed. No fires were built, and the darkness was impenetrable.
At noon I received orders to proceed to Bobo's Cross-roads, and reach that point before nightfall. There were two ways of going there: the one via Manchester was comparatively safe, although considerably out of the direct line; the other was direct, but somewhat unsafe, because it would take me near the enemy's front. The distance by this shorter route was eleven miles. I chose the latter. It led through a sparsely settled, open oak country. Two regiments of Wheeler's cavalry had been hovering about Hillsboro during the day, evidently watching our movements. After proceeding about three miles, a dash was made upon my skirmish line, which resulted in the killing of a lieutenant, the capture of one man, and the wounding of several others. I instantly formed line of battle, and pushed forward as rapidly as the nature of the ground would admit; but the enemy fell back.
About five o'clock, as we drew near Bobo's, two cannon shots and quite a brisk fire of musketry advised us that the rebels were either still in possession of the Cross-roads or our friends were mistaking us for the enemy. I formed line of battle, and ordered the few cavalrymen who accompanied me to make a detour to the right and rear, and ascertain, if possible, who were in our front. The videttes soon after reported the enemy advancing, with a squadron of cavalry in the lead, and I put my artillery in position to give them a raking fire when they should reach a bend of the road. At this moment when life and death seemed to hang in the balance, and when we supposed we were in the presence of a very considerable, if not an overwhelming, force of the enemy, a half-grown hog emerged from the woods, and ran across the road. Fifty men sprang from the ranks and gave it chase, and before order was fully restored, and the line readjusted, my cavalry returned with the information that the troops in front were our own.
The incidents of the last six days would fill a volume; but I have been on horseback so much, and otherwise so thoroughly engaged, that I have been, and am now, too weary to note them down, even if I had the conveniences at hand for so doing.
1. My brigade, with a battalion of cavalry attached, started from Bobo's Cross-roads in the direction of Winchester. When one mile out we picked up three deserters, who reported that the rebels had evacuated Tullahoma, and were in full retreat. Half a mile further along I overtook the enemy's rear guard, when a sharp fight occurred between the cavalry, resulting, I think, in very little injury to either party. The enemy fell back a mile or more, when he opened on us with artillery, and a sharp artillery fight took place, which lasted for perhaps thirty minutes. Several men on both sides were killed and wounded. The enemy finally retired, and taking a second position awaited our arrival, and opened on us again. I pushed forward in the thick woods, and drove him from point to point for seven miles. Negley followed with the other brigades of the division, ready to support me in case the enemy proved too strong, but I did not need assistance. The force opposed to us simply desired to retard pursuit; and whenever we pushed against it vigorously fell back.
2. This morning we discover that we bivouacked during the night within half a mile of a large force of rebel cavalry and infantry. After proceeding a little way, we found the enemy in position on the bluffs on the opposite side of Elk river, with his artillery planted so as to sweep the road leading to the bridge. Halting my infantry and cavalry under the cover of the hill, I sent to the rear for an additional battery, and, before the enemy seemed to be aware of what we were doing, I got ten guns in position on the crest of the hill and commenced firing. The enemy's cavalry and infantry, which up to this time had lined the opposite hills, began to scatter in great confusion; but we did not have it all our own way by any means. The rebels replied with shot and shell very vigorously, and for half an hour the fight was very interesting; at the end of that time, however, their batteries limbered up and left on the double quick. In the meantime, I had sent a detachment of infantry to occupy a stockade which the enemy had constructed near the bridge, and from this position good work was done by driving off his sharpshooters. We found the bridge partially burned, and the river too much swollen for either the men or trains to ford it. Rousseau and Brannan, I understand, succeeded in crossing at an upper ford, and are in hot pursuit.
3. Repaired the bridge, and crossed the river this morning; and are now bivouacking on the ground over which the cavalry fought yesterday afternoon—quite a number of the dead were discovered in the woods and fields. We picked up, at Elk river, an order of Brigadier-General Wharton, commanding the troops which have been serving as the rear guard of the enemy's column. It reads as follows:
"COLONEL HAMAR: Retire the artillery when you think best. Hold the position as long as you can with your sharpshooters; when forced back, write to Crew to that effect. Anderson is on your right. Report all movements to me on this road.
"JNO. A. WHARTON, Brigadier-General. "July 2d, 1863."
I have been almost constantly in the saddle, and have hardly slept a quiet three hours since we started on this expedition. My brigade has picked up probably a hundred prisoners.
4. At twelve o'clock, noon, my brigade was ordered to take the advance, and make the top of the Cumberland before nightfall; proceeding four miles, we reached the base of the mountain, and began the ascent. The road was exceedingly rough, and the rebels had made it impassable, for artillery, by rolling great rocks into it and felling trees across it. The axmen were ordered up, and while they were clearing away the obstructions I rode ahead with the cavalry to the summit, and some four miles on the ridge beyond. In the meantime, General Negley ordered the artillery and infantry to return to the foot of the mountain, where we are now encamped.
5. Since we left Murfreesboro (June 24) rain has been falling almost constantly; to-day it has been coming down in torrents, and the low grounds around us are overflowed.
Rousseau's division is encamped near us on the left, Reynolds in the rear.
The other day, while sitting on the fence by the roadside smoking my pipe, waiting for my troops to get in readiness to march, some one cried out, "Here is a philosopher," and General Reynolds rode up and shook my hand very cordially.
My brigade has been so fortunate, thus far, as to win the confidence of the commanding generals. It has, during the last week, served as a sort of a cow-catcher for Negley's division. At Elk river General Thomas rode up, while I was making my dispositions to attack the enemy, and approved what I had done and was doing.
We hear that the Army of the East has won a decisive victory in Pennsylvania. This is grand! It will show the rebels that it will not do to put their feet on free soil. Now if Grant succeeds in taking Vicksburg, and Rosecrans drives Bragg beyond the Tennessee, the country will have reason to rejoice with exceeding great joy.
6. An old lady, whose home is on the side of the mountain, called on me to-day and said she had not had a cup of coffee since the war commenced. She was evidently very poor; and, although we had no coffee to spare, I gave her enough to remind her again of the taste.
Our soldiers have been making a clean sweep of the hogs, sheep, and poultry on the route. For the rich rebels I have no sympathy, but the poor we must pity. The war cuts off from them entirely the food which, in the best of times, they acquire with great labor and difficulty. The forage for the army horses and mules, and we have an immense number, consists almost wholly of wheat in the sheaf—wheat that has been selling for ten dollars per bushel in Confederate money. I have seen hundreds of acres of wheat in the sheaf disappear in an hour. Rails have been burned without stint, and numberless fields of growing corn left unprotected. However much suffering this destruction of property may entail on the people of this section, I am inclined to think the effect will be good. It will bring them to a realizing sense of the loss sustained when they threw aside the protecting shield of the old Constitution, and the security which they enjoyed in the Union.
The season's crop of wheat, corn, oats, and hogs would have been of the utmost value to the Confederate army; when destroyed, there will be nothing in middle Tennessee to tempt it back.
7. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Tennesseeans have deserted from the Southern army and are now wandering about in the mountains, endeavoring to get to their homes. They are mostly conscripted men. My command has gathered up hundreds, and the mountains and coves in this vicinity are said to be full of them.
It rains incessantly. We moved to Decherd and encamped on a ridge, but are now knee-deep in mud and surrounded by water.
This morning a hundred guns echoed among the mountain gorges over the glad intelligence from the East and South: Meade has won a famous victory, and Grant has taken Vicksburg.
Stragglers and deserters from Bragg's army continue to come in. It is doubtless unfortunate for the country that rain and bad roads prevented our following up Bragg closely and forcing him to fight in the present demoralized condition of his army. We would have been certain of a decisive victory.
9. Dined with General Negley. Colonels Stoughton and Surwell, brigade commanders, were present. The dinner was excellent; soups, punch, wine, blackberries were on the table; and, to men who for a fortnight had been feeding on hard crackers and salt pork, seemed delicious. The General got his face poisoned while riding through the woods on the 2d instant, and he now looks like an old bruiser.
McCook, whose corps lies near Winchester, called while we were at Negley's; he looks, if possible, more like a blockhead than ever, and it is astonishing to me that he should be permitted to retain command of a corps for a single hour. He brought us cheering information, however. The intelligence received from the East and South a few days ago has been confirmed, and the success of our armies even greater than first reports led us to believe.
10. We have a cow at brigade head-quarters. Blackberries are very abundant. The sky has cleared, but the Cumberland mountains are this morning covered by a thin veil of mist. Supply trains arrived last night.
11. We hear nothing of the rebel army. Rosecrans, doubtless, knows its whereabouts, but his subordinates do not. A few of the enemy may be lingering in the vicinity of Stevenson and Bridgeport, but the main body is, doubtless, beyond the Tennessee. The rebel sympathizers here acknowledge that Bragg has been outgeneraled. Our cavalry started on the 9th instant for Huntsville, Athens, and Decatur, and I have no doubt these places were re-occupied without opposition.
The rebel cavalry is said to be utterly worn out, and for this reason has performed a very insignificant part in recent operations.
The fall of Vicksburg, defeat of Lee, and retreat of Bragg, will, doubtless, render the adoption of an entirely new plan necessary. How long it will take to perfect this, and get ready for a concerted movement, I have no idea.
12. Our soldiers, I am told, have been entering the houses of private citizens, taking whatever they saw fit, and committing many outrages. I trust, however, they have not been doing so badly as the people would have us believe. The latter are all disposed to grumble; and if a hungry soldier squints wistfully at a chicken, some one is ready to complain that the fowls are in danger, and that they are the property of a lone woman, a widow, with nothing under the sun to eat but chickens. In nine cases out of ten the husbands of these lone women are in the Confederate army; but still they are women, and should be treated well.
14. The brigade baker has come up, and will have his oven in operation this afternoon; so we shall have fresh bread again.
General Rosecrans will allow no ladies to come to the front. This would seem to be conclusive that no gentlemen will be permitted to go to the rear.
16. We have blackberries and milk for breakfast, dinner, and supper. To-night we had hot gingerbread also. I have eaten too much, and feel uncomfortable.
Meade's victory has been growing small by degrees and beautifully less; but the success of Grant has improved sufficiently on first reports to make it all up. Our success in this department, although attended with little loss of life, has been very gratifying. We have extended our lines over the most productive region of Tennessee, and have possession also of all North Alabama, a rich tract of country, the loss of which must be sorely felt by the rebels.
18. To-night I received a bundle of Northern papers, and among others the Union (?) Register. While reading it I felt almost glad that I was not at home, for certainly I should be very uncomfortable if compelled to listen every day to such treasonable attacks upon the Administration, sugar-coated though they be with hypocritical professions of devotion to the Union, the Constitution, and the soldier. How supremely wicked these men are, who, for their own personal advantage, or for party success, use every possible means to bring the Administration into disrespect, and withhold from it what, at this time, it so greatly needs, the hearty support and co-operation of the people. The simple fact that abuse of the party in power encourages the rebels, not only by evincing disaffection and division in the North, but by leading them to believe, also, that their conduct is justifiable, should, of itself, be sufficient to deter honest and patriotic men from using such language as may be found in the opposition press. The blood of many thousand soldiers will rest upon the peace party, and certainly the blood of many misguided people at the North must be charged to the same account. The draft riots of New York and elsewhere these croakers and libelers are alone responsible for. After the war has ended there will be abundant time to discuss the manner in which it has been conducted. Certainly quarreling over it now can only tend to the defeat and disgrace of our arms.
We hardly hear of politics in the army, and I certainly did not dream before that there was so much bitterness of feeling among the people in the North. Republicans, Democrats, and every body else think nearly alike here. I know of none who sympathize with the so-called peace party. It is universally damned, for there is no soldier so ignorant that he does not know and feel that this party is prolonging the war by stimulating his enemies. A child can see this. The rebel papers, which every soldier occasionally obtains, prove it beyond a peradventure.
20. Mrs. General Negley, it appears, has been allowed to visit her husband. Mrs. General McCook is said to be coming.
Received a public document, in which I find all the reports of the battle of Stone river, and, I am sorry to say, my report is the poorest and most unsatisfactory of the whole lot. The printer, as if for the purpose of aggravating me beyond endurance, has, by an error of punctuation, transformed what I considered a very considerable and creditable action, into an inconsiderable skirmish. The report should read:
"On the second and third days my brigade was in front, a portion of the time skirmishing. On the night of January 3d, two regiments, led by myself, drove the enemy from their breastworks in the edge of the woods."
This appears in the volume as follows:
"On the second and third days my brigade was in front a portion of the time. Skirmishing on the night of January 3d, two regiments, led my myself, drove the enemy from the breastworks in the edge of the woods."
Thus, by taking the last word of one sentence and making it the first word of another, the intelligent compositor belittles a night fight for which I thought my command deserved no inconsiderable credit. I regret now that I did not take the time to make an elaborate report of the operations of my brigade, describing all the terrible situations in which it had been placed, and dwelling with special emphasis on the courage and splendid fighting of the men. In contrast with my stupidly modest report, is that of Brigadier-General Spears. He does not hesitate to claim for his troops all the credit of the night engagement referred to; and yet while my men stormed the barricade of logs, and cleaned out the woods, his were lying on their faces fully two hundred yards in the rear, and I should never have known that they were even that near the enemy if his raw soldiers had not fired an occasional shot into us from behind. If General Spears was with his men, he must have known that his report of their action on that occasion was utterly untruthful. If, however, as I apprehend, he was behind the rifle pits, six hundred yards in the rear, he might, like thousands of others, who were distant spectators of the scene, have honestly conceived that his troops were doing the fighting. General Rousseau's report contradicts his statements, and in a meager way accords the credit to my regiments.
Officers are more selfish, dishonest, and grasping in their struggle for notoriety than the miser for gold. They lay claim to every thing within reach, whether it belongs to them or not. I know absolutely that many of the reports in the volume before me are base exaggerations—romances, founded upon the smallest conceivable amount of fact. They are simply elaborate essays, which seek to show that the author was a little braver, a little more skillful in the management of his men, and a little worthier than anybody else. I know of one officer who has great credit, in official reports and in the newspapers, for a battle in which he did not participate at all. In fact, he did not reach the field until after the enemy had not only been repulsed, but retired out of sight; and yet he has not the manliness to correct the error, and give the honor to whom it is due.
21. The day has been a pleasant one. The night is delightful. The new moon favors us with just sufficient light to reveal fully the great oaks, the white tents, and the shadowy outline of the Cumberland mountains. The pious few of the Eighty-eighth Indiana, assembled in a booth constructed of branches, are breathing out their devotional inspirations and aspirations, in an old hymn which carries us back to the churches and homes of the civilized world, or, as the boys term it, "God's country."
Katydids from a hundred trees are vigorous and relentless in their accusations against poor Katy. That was a pleasant conceit of Holmes, "What did poor Katy do?" I never appreciated it fully until I came into the country of the katydids.
Two trains, laden with forage, commissary, and quartermaster stores, are puffing away at the depot.
General Rosecrans will move to Winchester, two miles from us, to-morrow.
No one ever more desired to look again on his wife and babies than I; but, alack and alas! I am bound with a chain which seems to tighten more and more each day, and draw me further and further from where I desire to be. But I trust the time will soon come when I shall be free again.
Morgan's command has come to grief in Ohio. I trust he may be captured himself. The papers say Basil Duke is a prisoner. If so, the spirit of the great raider is in our hands, and it matters but little, perhaps, what becomes of the carcass.
A soldier of the Forty-second Indiana, who ran away from the battle of Stone river, had his head shaved and was drummed out of camp to-day. David Walker, Paul Long, and Charley Hiskett, of the Third Ohio, go with him to Nashville, where he is to be confined in military prison until the end of the war.
Shaving the head and drumming out of camp is a fearful punishment. I could not help pitying the poor fellow, as with carpet-sack in one hand and hat in the other he marched crest-fallen through the camps, to the music of the "Rogue's March." Death and oblivion would have been less severe and infinitely more desirable.
25. General Rosecrans, although generally supposed to be here, has been, it is said, absent for some days. It is intimated that he has gone to Washington. If it be true, he has flanked the newspaper men by a wonderful burst of strategy. He must have gone through disguised as an old woman—a very ugly old woman with a tremendous nose—otherwise these newspaper pickets would have arrested and put him in the papers forthwith. They are more vigilant than the rebels, and terribly intent upon finding somebody to talk about, to laud to the skies, or abuse in the most fearful manner, for they seldom do things by halves, unless it be telling the truth. They have a marvelous distaste for facts, and use no more of them than are absolutely necessary to string their guesses and imaginings upon.
My colt has just whinnied. He is gay as a lark, and puts Davy, the hostler, through many evolutions unknown to the cavalry service. The other day Davy had him out for exercise, and when he came rearing and charging back, I said: "How does he behave to-day, Davy?" "Mighty rambunctious, sah; he's gettin' bad, sah."
Major James Connelly, One Hundred and Twenty-third Illinois, called. His regiment is mounted and in Wilder's brigade. It participated in the engagement at Hoover's Gap. When my brigade was at Hillsboro, Connelly's regiment accompanied Wilder to this place (Decherd). The veracious correspondent reported that Wilder, on that expedition, had destroyed the bridge here and done great injury to the railroad, permanently interrupting communication between Bridgeport and Tullahoma; but, in fact, the bridge was not destroyed, and trains on the railroad were only delayed two hours. The expedition succeeded, however, in picking up a few stragglers and horses.
26. General Stanley has returned from Huntsville, bringing with him about one thousand North Alabama negroes. This is a blow at the enemy in the right place. Deprived of slave labor, the whites will be compelled to send home, or leave at home, white men enough to cultivate the land and keep their families from starving.
27. Adjutant Wilson visited Rousseau's division at Cowan, and reports the return of Starkweather from Wisconsin, with the stars. This gentleman has been mourning over the ingratitude of Republics ever since the battle of Perryville; but henceforth he will, doubtless, feel better.
A court-martial has been called for the trial of Colonel A. B. Moore, One Hundred and Fourth Illinois. Some ill-feeling in his regiment has led one of his officers to prefer charges against him.
28. General Thomas is an officer of the regular army; the field is his home; the tent his house, and war his business. He regards rather coolly, therefore, the applications of volunteer officers for leaves of absence. Why should they not be as contented as himself? He does not seem to consider that they suddenly dropped business, every thing, in fact, to hasten to the field. But, then, on second thought, I incline to the opinion that the old man is right. Half the army would be at home if leaves and furloughs could be had for the asking.
29. Lieutenant Orr received notice yesterday of his appointment as captain in the subsistence department, and last night opened a barrel of beer and stood treat. I did not join the party until about ten o'clock, and then Captain Hewitt, of the battery, the story-teller of the brigade, was in full blast, and the applause was uproarious. He was telling of a militia captain of Fentress county, Tennessee, who called out his company upon the supposition that we were again at war with Great Britain; that Washington had been captured by the invaders, and the arch-iv-es destroyed. A bystander questioned the correctness of the Captain's information, when he became very angry, and, producing a newspaper, said: "D—n you, sir, do you think I can't read, sir?" The man thus interrogated looked over the paper, saw that it announced the occupation of Washington by the British, but called the attention of the excited militiaman to the fact that the date was 1812. "So it is," said the old captain; "I did not notice the date. But, d—n me, sir, the paper just come. Go on with the drill, boys." This story was told to illustrate the fact that the people of many counties in Tennessee were behind the times.
It would take too much time to refer, even briefly, to all the stories related, and I will allude simply to a LONDON GHOST STORY, which Captain Halpin, an Irishman, of the Fifteenth Kentucky, undertook to tell. The gallant Captain was in the last stages of inebriety, and laid the scene of his London ghost story in Ireland. Steadying himself in his seat with both hands, and with a tongue rather too thick to articulate clearly, he introduced us to his ancestors for twenty generations back. It was a famous old Irish family, and among the collateral branches were the O'Tooles, O'Rourkes, and O'Flahertys. They had in them the blood of the Irish kings, and accomplished marvelous feats in the wars of those times. And so we staggered with the Captain from Dublin to Belfast, and thence made sorties into all the provinces on chase of the London ghost, until finally our leader wound up with a yawn and went to sleep. The party, disappointed at this sudden and unsatisfactory termination of the London ghost story, took a mug of beer all around, and then one gentleman, drunker probably than the others, or possibly unwilling, after all the time spent, to allow the ghost to escape, punched the Captain in the ribs and shouted: "Captain—Captain Halpin, you said it was a London ghost story; maybe you'll find the ghost in London, for I'll be d—d if it's in Ireland!" The Captain was too far gone to profit by the suggestion.
30. This evening General Rosecrans, on his way to Winchester, stopped for a few minutes at the station. He shook hands with me, and asked how I liked the water at the foot of the mountains, and about the health of my troops. I told him the water was good, and that the boys were encamped on high ground and healthy. "Yes," he replied, "and we'll take higher ground in a few days."
On the march to Tullahoma I had my brigade stretched along a ridge to guard against an attack from the direction of Wartrace. General Rosecrans passed through my lines, and was making some inquiries, when I stepped out: "Hello," said he, "here is the young General himself. You've got a good ridge. Who lives in that house? Find a place for Negley on your right or left. Send me a map of this ridge. How do ye do?"
31. Met General Turchin for the first time since he was before our court-martial at Huntsville. He appeared to be considerably cast down in spirit. He had just been relieved from his cavalry command, and was on his way to General Reynolds to take command of a brigade of infantry. General Crook, hitherto in command of a brigade, succeeds Turchin as commander of a division. In short, Crook and Turchin just exchange places. The former is a graduate of the West Point Military Academy, and is an Ohio man, who has not, I think, greatly distinguished himself thus far. He has been in Western Virginia most of the time, and came to Murfreesboro after the battle of Stone river.
General R. B. Mitchell is, with his command, in camp a little over a mile from us. He is in good spirits, and dwells with emphasis on the length and arduousness of the marches made by his troops since he left Murfreesboro. The labor devolving upon him as the commander of a division of cavalry is tremendous; and yet I was rejoiced to find his physical system had stood the strain well. The wear and tear upon his intellect, however, must have been very great.
2. Rode with Colonel Taylor to Cowan; dined with Colonel Hobart, and spent the day very agreeably. Returning we called on Colonel Scribner, remained an hour, and reached Decherd after nightfall. My request for leave of absence was lying on the table approved and recommended by Negley and Thomas, but indorsed not granted by Rosecrans.
General Rousseau has left, and probably will not return. The best of feeling has not existed between him and the commanding general for some time past. Rousseau has had a good division, but probably thought he should have a corps. This, however, is not the cause of the breach. It has grown out of small matters—things too trifling to talk over, think of, or explain, and yet important enough to create a coldness, if not an open rupture. Rosecrans is marvelously popular with the men.
3. The papers state that General R. B. Mitchell has gone home on sick leave. Poor fellow! he must have been taken suddenly, for when I saw him, a day or two ago, he was the picture of health. It is wonderful to me how a fellow as fat as Bob can come the sick dodge so successfully. He can get sick at a moment's notice.
4. Called on General Thomas; then rode over to Winchester. Saw Garfield at department head-quarters. He said he regretted very much being compelled to refuse my application for a leave. Told him I expected to command this department soon, and when I got him and a few others, including Rosecrans and Thomas, under my thumb, they would obtain no favors. I should insist not only upon their remaining in camp, but upon their wives remaining out.
In company with Colonel Mihalotzy I called on Colonel Burke, Tenth Ohio, and drank a couple of bottles of wine with him and his spiritual adviser, Father O'Higgin. Had a very agreeable time. The Colonel pressed us to remain for dinner; but we pleaded an engagement, and afterward obtained a very poor meal at the hotel for one dollar each.
The Board for the examination of applicants for commissions in colored regiments, of which I have the honor to be Chairman, met, organized, and adjourned to convene at nine o'clock to-morrow. Colonel Parkhurst, Ninth Michigan, and Colonel Stanley, Eighteenth Ohio, are members.
I am anxious to go home; but it is not possible for me to get away. Almost every officer in the army desires to go, and every conceivable excuse and argument are urged. This man is sick; another's house has burned, and he desires to provide for his family; another has lawsuits coming off involving large sums, and his presence during the trial is necessary to save him from great loss; still another has deeds to make out, and an immense property interest to look after.
6. This is the day appointed by the President for thanksgiving and prayer. The shops in Winchester are closed.
Colonel Parkhurst has obtained a leave, and will go home on Monday.
7. Captain Wilson and Lieutenant Ellsworth arose rather late this morning, and found a beer barrel protruding from the door of their tent, properly set up on benches, with a flaming placard over it:
"NEW GROCERY!! WILSON & ELLSWORTH. Fresh Beer, 3c. a Glass. Give us a call."
Later in the day a grand presentation ceremony took place. All the members of the staff and hangers-on about head-quarters were gathered under the oaks; Lieutenant Calkins, One Hundred and Fourth Illinois, was sent for, and, when he appeared, Lieutenant Ellsworth proceeded to read to him the following letter:
"OTTOWA, ILLINOIS, July 20, 1863.
"LIEUTENANT W. W. CALKINS—Sir: Your old friends of Ottowa, as a slight testimonial of their respect for you, and admiration for those chivalrous instincts which, when the banner of beauty and glory was assailed by traitorous legions, induced you to spring unhesitatingly to its defense, have the honor to present you a beautiful field-glass. Trusting that, by its assistance, you will be able to see through your enemies, and ultimately find your way to the arms of your admiring fellow-citizens, we have the honor to subscribe ourselves,
"Your most obedient servants, PETER BROWN, JOHN SMITH, THOMAS JONES, and others."
The box containing the gift was carefully opened, and the necks and upper parts of two whisky bottles, fastened together by a piece of wood, taken out and delivered in due form to the Lieutenant. He seemed greatly surprised, and for a few minutes addressed the donors in a very emphatic and uncomplimentary way; but finding this only added to the merriment of the party, he finally cooled down, and, lifting the field-glass to his eyes, leveled it upon the staff, and remarked that they appeared to be thirsty. This, of course, was hailed as undeniable evidence that the glass was perfect, and Lieutenant Calkins was heartily congratulated on his good luck, and on the proof which the testimonial afforded of the high estimation in which he was held by the people of his native town. Many of his brother officers, in their friendly ardor, shook him warmly by the hand.
8. Hewitt's battery has been transferred to the Corps of Engineers and Mechanics, and Bridges' battery, six guns, assigned to me. I gain two guns and many men by the exchange.
Our Board grinds away eight or nine hours a day, and turns out about the usual proportion of wheat and chaff. The time was when we thought it would be impossible to obtain good officers for colored regiments. Now we feel assured that they will have as good, if not better, officers than the white regiments. From sergeants applying for commissions we are able to select splendid men; strong, healthy, well informed, and of considerable military experience. In fact, we occasionally find a non-commissioned officer who is better qualified to command a regiment than nine-tenths of the colonels. I certainly know colonels who could not obtain a recommendation from this Board for a second lieutenancy.
Saw General Garfield yesterday; he was in bed sick. I have no fears of his immediate dissolution; in fact, I think he could avail himself of a twenty-day leave. I know if I were no worse than he appears to be, I would, with the permission of the general commanding, undertake to ride the whole distance home on horseback, and swim the rivers. In a little over a week I think my wife would see me, and the black horse, followed by the pepper-and-salt colt, charging up to the front door in such style as would remind her of the days of chivalry and the knights of the olden time. I should cry out in thunder tones, "Ho! within! Unbar the door!" The colt would kick up his heels with joy at sight of the grass in the yard, while the black would champ his bit with impatience to get into a comfortable stall once more. Altogether the sight would be worth seeing; but it will not be seen.
The Board holds its sessions in the office of an honorable Mr. Turney, who left on our approach for a more congenial clime, and left suddenly. His letters and papers are lying around us in great confusion and profusion. Among these we have discovered a document bearing the signatures of Jeff. Davis, John Mason, Pierre Soule, and others, pledging themselves to resist, by any and every means, the admission of California, unless it came in with certain boundaries which they prescribed. The document was gotten up in Washington, and Colonel Parkhurst says it is the original contract.
Dined with Colonel D. H. Gilmer, Thirty-eighth Illinois. Dinner splendid; corn, cabbage, beans; peach, apple, and blackberry pie; with buttermilk and sweetmilk. It was a grand dinner, served on a snow-white table-cloth. Where the Colonel obtained all these delicacies I can not imagine. He is an out-and-out Abolitionist, and possibly the negroes had favored him somewhat.
Colonel Gilmer is delighted to find the country coming around to his ideas. He believes the Lord, who superintends the affairs of nations, will give us peace in good time, and that time will be when the institution of slavery has been rooted up and destroyed. He is a Kentuckian by birth, and says he has kinfolks every-where. He is the only man he knows of who can find a cousin in every town he goes to.
9. Dined with Colonel Taylor. Colonels Hobart, Nicholas, and Major Craddock were present. After dinner we adjourned to my quarters, where we spent the afternoon. Hobart dilated upon his adventures at New Orleans and elsewhere, under Abou Ben Butler. He says Butler is a great man, but a d—d scoundrel. I have heard Hobart say something like this at least a thousand times, and am pleased to know that his testimony on this point is always clear, decisive, and uncontradictory.
My visitors are gone. The cars are bunting against each other at the depot. The katydids are piping away on the old, old story. The trees look like great shadows, and unlike the substantial oaks they really are. The camps are dark and quiet. This is all I can say of the night without.
In a little booth made of cedar boughs is a table, on which sputters a solitary tallow candle, in a stick not remarkable for polish. This light illuminates the booth, and reveals to the observer—if there be one, which is very unlikely, for those who usually observe have in all probability retired—a wash basin, a newspaper, a penknife, which originally had two blades, but at present has but one, and that one very dull, a gentleman of say thirty, possibly thirty-five, two steel pens, rusty with age, an inkstand, and one miller, which miller has repeatedly dashed his head against the wick of the candle and discovered that the operation led to unsatisfactory results. Wearied, disappointed, and disheartened, the miller now sits quietly on the table, mourning, doubtless, over the unpleasant lesson which experience has taught him. His head is now wiser; but, alas! his wings are shorter than they were, and of what use is his head without wings? He feels very like the man who made a dash for fame, and fell wounded and bleeding on the field, or the child who, for the first time, discovers that all is not gold that glitters. The gentleman referred to—and I trust it may be no stretch of the verities to call him a gentleman—leans over the table writing. He has an abundant crop of dark hair on his head, under his chin, and on his upper lip. He is not just now troubled with a superabundance of flesh, or, in other words, no one would suspect him of being fat. On the contrary, he might remind one of the lean kine, or the prodigal son who had been feeding on husks. He is wide awake at this late hour of the night, from which I conclude he has slept more or less during the day. No one, to look at this gentleman, would take him to be a remarkable man; in fact, his most intimate friends could not find it in their hearts to bring such an accusation against him. His face is browned by exposure, and his blue eyes look quite dark, or would do so if there were sufficient light to see them. When he straightens up—and he generally straightens when up at all—he is five feet eleven, or thereabouts. His appetite is good, and his education is of that superior kind which enables him, without apparent effort, to misspell three-fourths of the words in the English language; in fact, at this present moment he is holding an imaginary discussion with his wife, who has written him that the underclothing for gentlemen's feet should be spelled s-o-c-k-s, and not "s-o-x". He begs leave to differ with her, which he would probably not dare to do were she not hundreds of miles away; and he argues the matter in this way: S-o-x, o-x, f-o-x—the termination sounds alike in all. Now how absurd it would be to insist that ox should be spelled o-c-k-s, or fox f-o-c-k-s. The commonest kind of sense teaches one that the old lady is in error, and "sox" clearly correct. Much learning hath evidently made her mad. Having satisfied himself about this matter, he takes a photograph from an inside pocket; it is that of his wife. He makes another dive, and brings out one of his children; then he lights a laurel-wood pipe, and, as the white smoke curls about his head and vanishes, his thoughts skip off five hundred miles or less, to a community of sensible, industrious, quiet folks, and when he finally awakes from the reverie and looks about him upon the beggarly surroundings—he does not swear, for he bethinks him in time that swearing would do no good.
10. Colonel Hobart, Twenty-first Wisconsin, and Colonel Hays, Tenth Kentucky, have been added to the Board—the former at my request.
11. To-day I dined with a Wisconsin friend of Colonel Hobart's; had a good dinner, Scotch ale and champagne, and a very agreeable time. Colonel Hegg, the dispenser of hospitalities, is a Norwegian by birth, a Republican, a gentleman who has held important public positions in Wisconsin, and who stands well with the people. In the course of the table talk I learned something of the history of my friend Hobart. He is an old wheel-horse of the Democratic party of his State; was a candidate for governor a few years ago, and held joint debates with Randall and Carl Schurz. He is the father of the Homestead Law, which has been adopted by so many States, and was for many years the leader of the House of Representatives of Wisconsin. All this I gathered from Colonel Hegg, for Hobart seldom, if ever, talks about himself. I imagine that even the most polished orator would obtain but little, if any, advantage over Hobart in a discussion before the people. He has the imagination, the information, and the oratorical fury in discussion which are likely to captivate the masses. He was at one time opposed to arming the negroes; but now that he is satisfied they will fight, he is in favor of using them.
To-night Colonels Hays and Hobart held quite an interesting debate on the policy of arming colored men, and emancipating those belonging to rebels. Hays, who, by the way, is an honest man and a gallant soldier, presented the Kentucky view of the matter, and his arguments, evidently very weak, were thoroughly demolished by Hobart. I think Colonel Hays felt, as the controversy progressed, that his position was untenable, and that his hostility to the President's proclamation sprang from the prejudice in which he had been educated, rather than from reason and justice.
12. Old Tom, known in camp as the veracious nigger, because of a "turkle" story which he tells, is just coming along as I wait a moment for the breakfast bell. The "turkle," which Tom caught in some creek in Alabama, had two hundred and fifty eggs in "him." "Yas, sah, two hunder an' fifty."
Tom has peculiar notions about certain matters, and they are not, by any means, complimentary to the white man. He says: "It jus' 'pears to me dat Adam was a black man, sah, an' de Lord he scar him till he got white, cos he was a sinner, sah."
"Tom, you scoundrel, how dare you slander the white man in that way?"
"'Pears to me dat way; hab to tell de truf, sah; dat's my min'. Men was 'riginally black; but de Lord he scare Adam till he got white; dat's de reasonable supposition, sah. Do a man's har git black when he scared, sah? No, sah, it gits white. Did you ebber know a man ter get black when he's scard, sah? No, sah, he gits white."
"That does seem to be a knock-down argument, Tom."
"Yas, sah, I've argied with mor'n a hunder white men, sah, an' they can't never git aroun dat pint. When yer strip dis subjec ob prejdice, an' fetch to bar on it de light o' reason, sah, yer can 'rive at but one 'clusion, sah. De Lord he rode into de garden in chariot of fire, sah, robed wid de lightnin', sah, thunder bolt in his han', an' he cried ADAM, in de voice of a airthquake, sah, an' de 'fec on Adam was powerful, sah. Dat's my min', sah." And so Tom goes on his way, confident that the first man was black, and that another white man has been vanquished in argument.
13. The weather continues oppressively hot. The names of candidates for admission to the corps d'Afrique continue to pour in. The number has swelled to eight hundred. We begin our labors at nine, adjourn a few minutes for lunch, and then continue our work until nearly six.
16. We move at ten o'clock A. M. Had a heavy rain yesterday and a fearful wind. The morning, however, is clear, and atmosphere delightful.
Our Board has examined one hundred and twenty men. Perhaps forty have been recommended for commissions.
The present movement will, doubtless, be a very interesting one. A few days will take us to the Tennessee, and thereafter we shall operate on new ground. Georgia will be within a few miles of us, the long-suffering and long-coveted East Tennessee on our left, Central Alabama to our front and right. A great struggle will undoubtedly soon take place, for it is not possible that the rebels will give us a foothold south of the Tennessee until compelled to do it.
21. We are encamped on the banks of Crow creek, three miles northerly from Stevenson. The table on which I write is under the great beech trees. Colonel Hobart is sitting near studying Casey. The light of the new moon is entirely excluded by foliage. On the right and left the valley is bounded by ranges of mountains eight hundred or a thousand feet high. Crow creek is within a few feet of me; in fact, the sand under my feet was deposited by its waters. The army extends along the Tennessee, from opposite Chattanooga to Bellefonte. Before us, and just beyond the river, rises a green-mountain wall, whose summit, apparently as uniform as a garden hedge, seems to mingle with the clouds. Beyond this are the legions of the enemy, whose signal lights we see nightly.
22. Our Board has resumed its sessions at the Alabama House, Stevenson. The weather is intensely hot. Father Stanley stripped off his coat and groaned. Hobart's face was red as the rising sun, and the anxious candidates for commissions did not certainly resemble cucumbers for coolness.
Hobart rides a very poor horse—poor in flesh, I mean; but he entertains the most exalted opinion of the beast. This morning, as we rode from camp, I thought I would please him by referring to his horse in a complimentary way. Said I: "Colonel, your horse holds his own mighty well." His face brightened, and I continued: "He hasn't lost a bone since I have known him." This nettled him, and he began to badger me about an unsuccessful attempt which I made some time ago to get him to taste a green persimmon. Hobart has a good education, is fluent in conversation, and in discussion gets the better of me without difficulty. All I can do, therefore, is to watch my opportunity to give him an occasional thrust as best I can. Father Stanley is slow, destitute of either education or wit, and examines applicants like a demagogue fishes for votes.
Brigadier-General Jeff. C. Davis and Colonel Hegg called to-day. Davis is, I think, not quite so tall as I am, but a shade heavier. Met Captain Gaunther. He has been relieved from duty here, and ordered to Washington. He is an excellent officer, and deserves a higher position than he holds at present. I thought, from the very affectionate manner with which he clung to my hand and squeezed it, that possibly, in taking leave of his friends, he had burdened himself with that "oat" which is said to be one too many. Hobart says that Scribner calls him Hobart up to two glasses, and further on in his cups ycleps him Hogan.
Wood had a bout with the enemy at Chattanooga yesterday; he on the north side and they on the south side of the river. Johnson is said to have reinforced Bragg, and the enemy is supposed to be strong in our front. Rosecrans was at Bridgeport yesterday looking over the ground, when a sharpshooter blazed away at him, and put a bullet in a tree near which the General and his son were standing.
24. Deserters are coming in almost every day. They report that secret societies exist in the rebel army whose object is the promotion of desertion. Eleven men from one company arrived yesterday. Not many days ago a Confederate officer swam the river and gave himself up. For some time past the pickets of the two armies have not been firing at each other; but yesterday the rebels gave notice that they should commence again, as the "Yanks were becoming too d—n thick."
26. To-day we were examining a German who desired to be recommended for a field officer. "How do you form an oblique square, sir?" "Black square? Black square?" exclaimed the Dutchman; "I dush not know vot you means by de black square."
As I write the moon shines down upon me through an opening in the branches of the beech forest in which we are encamped, and the objects about me, half seen and half hidden, in some way suggest the half-remembered and half-forgotten incidents of childhood.
How often, when a boy, have I dreamed of scenes similar to those through which I have passed in the last two years! Knightly warriors, great armies on the march and in camp, the skirmish, the tumult and thunder of battle, were then things of the imagination; but now they have become familiar items of daily life. Then a single tap of the drum or note of the bugle awakened thoughts of the old times of chivalry, and regrets that the days of glory had passed away. Now we have martial strains almost every hour, and are reminded only of the various duties of our every-day life.
As we went to Stevenson this morning, Hobart caught a glimpse of a colored man coming toward us. It suggested to him a hobby which he rides now every day, and he commenced his oration by saying, in his declamatory way: "The negro is the coming man." "Yes," I interrupted, "so I see, and he appears to have his hat full of peaches;" and so the coming man had.
28. Rode to the river with Hobart and Stanley. The rebel pickets were lying about in plain view on the other side. Just before our arrival quite a number of them had been bathing. The outposts of the two armies appear still to be on friendly terms. "Yesterday," a soldier said to me, "one of our boys crossed the river, talked with the rebs for some time, and returned."
29. The band is playing "Yankee Doodle," and the boys break into an occasional cheer by way of indorsement. There is something defiant in the air of "Doodle" as he blows away on the soil of the cavaliers, which strikes a noisy chord in the breast of Uncle Sam's nephews, and the demonstrations which follow are equivalent to "Let 'er rip," "Go in old boy."
Colonel Hobart's emphatic expression is "egad." He told me to-day of a favorite horse at home, which would follow him from place to place as he worked in the garden, keeping his nose as near to him as possible. His wife remarked to him one day: "Egad, husband, if you loved me as well as you do that horse, I should be perfectly happy."
"Are you quite sure Mrs. Hobart said 'egad,' Colonel?"
"Well, no, I wouldn't like to swear to that."
This afternoon Colonels Stanley, Hobart, and I rode down to the Tennessee to look at the pontoon bridge which has been thrown across the river. On the way we met Generals Rosecrans, McCook, Negley, and Garfield. The former checked up, shook hands, and said: "How d'ye do?" Garfield gave us a grip which suggested "vote right, vote early." Negley smiled affably, and the cavalcade moved on. We crossed the Tennessee on the bridge of boats, and rode a few miles into the country beyond. Not a gun was fired as the bridge was being laid. Davis' division is on the south side of the river.
The Tennessee at this place is beautiful. The bridge looks like a ribbon stretched across it. The island below, the heavily-wooded banks, the bluffs and mountain, present a scene which would delight the soul of the artist. A hundred boys were frollicking in the water near the pontoons, tumbling into the stream in all sorts of ways, kicking up their heels, ducking and splashing each other, and having a glorious time generally.
30. (Sunday.) The brigade moved into Stevenson.
31. It crossed the Tennessee.
In one of the classes for examination to-day was a sergeant, fifty years old at least, but still sprightly and active; not very well posted in the infantry tactics now in use, but of more than ordinary intelligence. The class had not impressed the Board favorably. This Sergeant we thought rather too old, and the others entirely too ignorant. When the class was told to retire, this old Sergeant, who, by the way, belongs to a Michigan regiment, came up to me and asked: "Was John Beatty, of Sandusky, a relative of yours?" "He was my grandfather." "Yes, you resemble your mother. You are the son of James Beatty. I have carried you in my arms many a time. My mother saved your life more than once. Thirty years ago your father and mine were neighbors. I recollect the cabin where you were born as well as if I had seen it but yesterday." "I am heartily glad to see you, my old friend," said I, taking his hand. "You must stay with me to-night, and we will talk over the old times together."
When the Sergeant retired, Hobart, with a twinkle in his eye, said he did not think much of that fellow; his early associations had evidently been bad; he was entirely too old, anyway. What the army needed, above all things, were young, vigorous, dashing officers; but he supposed, notwithstanding all this, that we should have to do something for the Sergeant. He had rendered important service to the country by carrying the honored President of our Board in his arms, and but for the timely doses of catnip tea, administered by the Sergeant's mother, the gallant knight of the black horse and pepper-and-salt colt would have been unknown. "What do you say, gentlemen, to a second lieutenancy for General Beatty's friend?"