"I shall vote for it," replied Stanley.
"Recommend him for a first lieutenancy," I suggested; and they did.
In the evening I had a long and very pleasant conversation with the Sergeant. He had fought under Bradley in the Patriot war at Point au Pelee; served five years in the regular army during the Florida war, and two years in the Mexican war. His name is Daniel Rodabaugh. He has been in the United States service as a soldier for nine years, and richly deserves the position for which we recommended him.
1. Closed up the business of the Board, and at seven o'clock in the evening (Tuesday) left Stevenson to rejoin the brigade. On the way to the river I passed Colonel Stanley's brigade of our division. The air was thick with dust. It was quite dark when I crossed the bridge. The brigade had started on the march hours before, but I thought best to push on and overtake it. After getting on the wrong road and riding considerably out of my way, I finally found the right one, and about ten o'clock overtook the rear of the column. The two armies will face each other before the end of the week. General Lytle's brigade is bivouacking near me. I have a bad cold, but otherwise am in good health.
3. We moved from Moore's Spring, on the Tennessee, in the morning, and after laboring all day advanced less than one mile and a quarter. We were ascending Sand mountain; many of our wagons did not reach the summit.
4. With two regiments I descended into Lookout valley and bivouacked at Brown's Springs about dark. Our transportation, owing to the darkness and extreme badness of the roads, remained on the top of the mountain. I have no blankets, and nothing to eat except one ear of corn which one of the colored boys roasted for me. Wrapped in my overcoat, about nine o'clock, I lay down on the ground to sleep; but a terrible toothache took hold of me, and I was compelled to get up and find such relief as I could in walking up and down the road. The moon shone brightly, and many camp-fires glimmered in the valley and along the side of the mountain. It was three o'clock in the morning before gentle sleep made me oblivious to aching teeth and head, and all the other aches which had possession of me.
5. A few deserters come in to us, but they bring little information of the enemy. We are now in Georgia, twenty miles from Chattanooga by the direct road, which, like all roads here, is very crooked, and difficult to travel. The enemy is, doubtless, in force very near, but he makes no demonstrations and retires his pickets without firing a gun. The developments of the next week or two will be matters for the historian.
Sheridan's division is just coming into the valley; what other troops are to cross the mountain by this road I do not know. As I write, heavy guns are heard off in the direction of Chattanooga. The roads are extremely dusty. This morning I consigned to the flames all letters which have come to me during the last two months.
I have just returned from a ride up the valley to the site of the proposed iron works of Georgia. Work on the railroad, on the mountain roads, and on the furnaces, was suspended on our approach. The negroes and white laborers were run off to get them beyond our reach. The hills in the vicinity of the proposed works are undoubtedly full of iron; the ore crops out so plainly that it is visible to all passers. Here the Confederacy proposed to supply its railroads with iron rail, an article at present very nearly exhausted in the South. Had the Georgians possessed common business sense and common energy, extensive furnaces would have been in operation in this valley years ago; and now, instead of a few poorly cultivated corn-fields, with here and there a cabin, the valley and hillsides would be overflowing with population and wealth.
We returned from the site of the iron works by way of Trenton, the seat of justice of Dade county. Reynolds and Sheridan are encamped near Trenton. I feel better since my ride.
6. (Sunday.) Marched to Johnson's Crook, and bivouacked, at nightfall, at McKay's Spring, on the north side of Lookout mountain; here my advance regiment, the Forty-second Indiana, had a slight skirmish with the enemy, in which one man was wounded.
7. We gained the summit of Lookout mountain, and the enemy retired to the gaps on the south side.
8. Started at four o'clock in the morning and pushed for Cooper's Gap. Surprised a cavalry picket at the foot of the mountain, in McLemore's Cove, Chattanooga valley. In this little affair we captured five sabers, one revolver, one carbine, one prisoner, and seriously wounded one man.
While standing on a peak of Lookout, we saw far off to the east long lines of dust trending slowly to the south, and inferred from this that Bragg had abandoned Chattanooga, and was either retiring before us or making preparations to check the center and right of our line.
9. Marched up the valley to Stephen's Gap and rejoined the division.
10. Our division marched across McLemore's Cove to Pigeon mountain, found Dug Gap obstructed, and the enemy in force on the right, left, and front. The skirmishers of the advance brigade, Colonel Surwell's, were engaged somewhat, and during the night information poured in upon us, from all quarters, that the enemy, in strength, was making dispositions to surround and cut us off before reinforcements could arrive.
11. Two brigades of Baird's division joined us about 10 A. M. Five thousand of the enemy's cavalry were reported to be moving to our left and rear; soon after, his infantry appeared on our right and left, and, a little later, in our front. From the summit of Pigeon mountain, the rebels could observe all our movements, and form a good estimate of our entire force. Our immense train, swelled now by the transportation of Baird's division to near four hundred wagons, compelled us to select such positions as would enable us to protect the train, and not such as were most favorable for making an offensive or defensive fight.
It was now impossible for Brannan and Reynolds to reach us in time to render assistance. General Negley concluded, therefore, to fall back, and ordered me to move to Bailey's Cross-roads, and await the passage of the wagon train to the rear. The enemy attacked soon after, but were held in check until the transportation had time to return to Stephens' Gap.
12. We expected an attack this morning, but, reinforcements arriving, the enemy retired. This afternoon Brannan made a reconnoissance, but the result I have not ascertained; there was, however, no fighting.
I am writing this in the woods, where we are bivouacking for the night. For nearly two weeks, now, I have not had my clothes off; and for perhaps not more than two nights of the time have I had my boots and spurs off. I have arisen at three o'clock in the morning and not lain down until ten or eleven at night. My appetite is good and health excellent. Last night my horse fell down with me, and on me, but strange to say only injured himself.
We find great numbers of men in these mountains who profess to be loyal. Our army is divided—Crittenden on the left, our corps (Thomas) in the center, and McCook far to the right. The greatest danger we need apprehend is that the enemy may concentrate rapidly and fight our widely separated corps in detail. Our transportation, necessarily large in any case, but unnecessarily large in this, impedes us very much. The roads up and down the mountains are extremely bad; our progress has therefore been slow, and the march hither a tedious one. The brigade lies in the open field before me in battle line. The boys have had no time to rest during the day, and have done much night work, but they hold up well. A katydid has been very friendly with me to-night, and is now sitting on the paper as if to read what I have written.
17. Marched from Bailey's Cross-roads to Owensford on the Chickamauga.
18. Ordered to relieve General Hazen, who held position on the road to Crawfish Springs; but as he had received no orders, and as mine were but verbal, he declined to move, and I therefore continued my march and bivouacked at the springs.
About midnight I was ordered to proceed to a ford of the Chickamauga and relieve a brigade of Palmer's division, commanded by Colonel Grose. The night was dark and the road crooked. About two in the morning I reached the place; and as Colonel Grose's pickets were being relieved and mine substituted, occasional shots along the line indicated that the enemy was in our immediate front.
19. At an early hour in the morning the enemy's pickets made their appearance on the east side of the Chickamauga and engaged my skirmishers. Some hours later he opened on us with two batteries, and a sharp artillery fight ensued. During this engagement, the Fifteenth Kentucky, Colonel Taylor, occupied an advanced position in the woods on the low ground, and the shots of the artillery passed immediately over it. I rode down to this regiment to see that the men were not disturbed by the furious cannonading, and to obtain at the same time a better view of the enemy. While thus absent, Captain Bridges, concluding that the Confederate guns were too heavy for him, limbered up and fell back. Hastening to the hill, I sent Captain Wilson with an order to Bridges to return; and, being reinforced soon after by three pieces of Shultz's First Ohio Battery, we opened again on the advancing columns of the enemy, when they fell back precipitately, evidently concluding that the lull in our firing and withdrawal of our artillery were simply devices to draw them on.
In this affair eight men of the infantry were wounded; and Captain Bridges had two men killed, nine wounded, and lost twelve horses.
About five o'clock in the afternoon I was directed to withdraw my picket line—which had been greatly extended in order to connect with troops on the left—as silently and carefully as possible, and return to Crawfish Springs. Arriving at the springs, the boys were allowed time to fill their canteens with water, when we pushed forward on the Chattanooga road to a ridge near Osbern's, where we bivouacked for the night.
There had been heavy fighting on our left during the whole afternoon; and while the boys were preparing supper, a very considerable engagement was occurring not far distant to the east and south of us. Elsewhere an occasional volley of musketry, and boom of artillery, with scattered firing along an extended line indicated that the two grand armies were concentrating for battle, and that the morrow would give us hot and dangerous work.
20. (Sunday.) At an early hour in the morning I was directed to move northward on the Chattanooga road and report to General Thomas. He ordered me to go to the extreme left of our line, form perpendicularly to the rear of Baird's division, connecting with his left. I disposed of my brigade as directed. Baird's line appeared to run parallel with the road, and mine running to the rear crossed the road. On this road and near it I posted my artillery, and advanced my skirmishers to the edge of the open field in front of the left and center of my line. The position was a good one, and my brigade and the one on Baird's left could have co-operated and assisted each other in maintaining it. Fifteen minutes after this line was formed, Captain Gaw, of General Thomas' staff, brought me a verbal order to advance my line to a ridge or low hill (McDaniel's house), fully one-fourth of a mile distant. I represented to him that in advancing I would necessarily leave a long interval between my right and Baird's left, and also that I was already in the position which General Thomas himself told me to occupy. He replied that the order to move forward was imperative, and that I was to be supported by Negley with the other two brigades of his division. I could object no further, although the movement seemed exceedingly unwise, and, therefore, pushed forward my men as rapidly as possible to the point indicated. The Eighty-eighth Indiana (Colonel Humphreys), on the left, moved into position without difficulty. The Forty-second Indiana (Lieutenant-Colonel McIntyre), on its right, met with considerable opposition in advancing through the woods, but finally reached the ridge. The One Hundred and Fourth Illinois (Lieutenant-Colonel Hapeman), and Fifteenth Kentucky (Colonel Taylor), on the right, became engaged almost immediately and advanced slowly. The enemy in strong force pressed them heavily in front and on the right flank.
At this time I sent an aid to request General Baird or General King to throw a force in the interval between my right and their left, and dispatched Captain Wilson to the rear to hasten forward General Negley to my support. My regiment on the right was confronted by so large a force that it was compelled to fall back, which it did in good order, contesting the ground stoutly. About this time a column of the enemy, en masse, on the double quick, pressed into the interval between the One Hundred and Fourth Illinois and Forty-second Indiana, and turned with the evident intention of capturing the latter, which was then busily engaged with the rebels in its front; but Captain Bridges opened on it with grape and canister, when it broke and fell back in disorder to the shelter of the woods. The Forty-second Indiana, but a moment before almost surrounded, was thus enabled to fight its way to the left and unite with the Eighty-eighth. Soon after this the enemy made another and more furious assault upon the One Hundred and Fourth Illinois and Fifteenth Kentucky, and, driving them back, advanced to within fifty yards of my battery, and poured into it a heavy fire, killing Lieutenant Bishop, and killing or wounding all the men and horses belonging to his section, which consequently fell into rebel hands. Captain Bridges and his officers, by the exercise of great courage and coolness, succeeded in saving the remainder of the battery. It was in this encounter that Captain LeFevre, of my staff, was killed, and Lieutenant Calkins, also of the staff, was wounded.
The enemy having now gained the woods south of the open field and west of the road, I opposed his further progress as well as I could with the Fifteenth Kentucky and One Hundred and Fourth Illinois; but as he had two full brigades, the struggle on our part seemed a hopeless one. Fortunately, at this juncture, I discovered a battery on the road in our rear (I think it was Captain Goodspeed's), and at my request the Captain ordered it to change front and open fire. This additional opposition served for a time to entirely check the enemy.
The Eighty-eighth and Forty-second Indiana, compelled, as their officers claim, to make a detour to the left and rear, in order to escape capture or utter annihilation, found General Negley, and were ordered to remain with him, and finally to retire with him in the direction of Rossville. This, however, I did not ascertain until ten hours later in the day.
Firing having now ceased in my front, and being the only mounted officer or mounted man present, I left the Fifteenth Kentucky and One Hundred and Fourth Illinois temporarily in charge of Colonel Taylor, and hurried back to see General Thomas or Negley, and urge the necessity for more troops to enable me to re-establish the line. On the way, and before proceeding far, I met the Second Brigade of our division, Colonel Stanley, advancing to my support. Had it reached me an hour earlier, I feel assured that I would have been able to maintain the position which I had just been compelled to abandon. I directed Colonel Stanley to form a line of battle at once, at right angles with the road and on its left, facing north. Returning to Colonel Taylor, I ordered him to fall back with the Fifteenth Kentucky and One Hundred and Fourth Illinois, and form in rear of the left of Stanley's line, as a support to it. Soon after we had got our lines adjusted, the enemy pressed back the skirmishers of the Fifteenth Kentucky and One Hundred and Fourth Illinois, who had not been retired with the regiments, and, following them up, drove in also the skirmish line of Stanley's brigade, whereupon the Eleventh Michigan (Colonel Stoughton), and the Eighteenth Ohio (Lieutenant-Colonel Grosvenor), gave him a well-directed volley, which brought him to a halt. Our whole line then opened at short range, and he wavered. I gave the order to advance, then to charge, and the brigade rushed forward with a yell, drove the enemy fully one-fourth of a mile, strewing the ground with his dead and wounded, and capturing many prisoners. Among the latter was General Adams, the commander of a Louisiana brigade.
Finding now that Colonel Taylor had not followed the movement with his regiment and the One Hundred and Fourth Illinois, and seeing the necessity for some support for a single line so extended, I hastened to the rear, and, being unable to find Taylor where I had left him, I induced four regiments, of I know not what command, which I found idle in the woods, to move forward and form a second line.
At this time Captain Wilson, whom I had sent to General Negley some time before the Second Brigade reached me, to inform him of my position and need of assistance, returned, and brought from him a verbal order to retire to the hill in the rear and join him. Convinced that the withdrawal of the troops at this time from the position occupied might endanger the whole left wing of the army, I thought best to defer the execution of this order until I could see General Negley and explain to him the necessity of maintaining and reinforcing it with the other brigade of our division. But before Captain Wilson could find either Colonel Taylor, who had in charge the Fifteenth Kentucky and One Hundred and Fourth Illinois, or General Negley, the enemy made a fierce attack on Stanley's brigade and forced it back. The unknown brigade which I had posted in the rear to support it retired with unseemly haste, and without firing a shot.
At this juncture frightened soldiers and occasional shots were coming from the right and rear of our line, indicating that the right wing of the army had either been thrown back or changed position. Stanley's brigade, considerably scattered and shattered by the last furious assault of the enemy, was gathered up by its officers and retired to the ridge on the right and to the rear of the original line of battle. Wilson and I made diligent efforts to find Taylor, but were unable to do so. I was greatly provoked at his retirement without consulting me, and at a time, too, when his presence was so greatly needed to support Stanley. But later in the day I ascertained from him that he had been ordered by Major Lowrie, General Negley's chief of staff, to join Negley and retire with him to Rossville. He also had much to say about saving many pieces of artillery; but it occurred to me that his presence on the field was of much more importance than a few pieces of trumpery artillery off the field. Why, at any rate, did he not notify me of the order which he had received from the division commander? The charge of Stanley's brigade had not occupied to exceed thirty minutes, and as soon as it was ended I had returned to find him gone. The Colonel, however, did, doubtless, what he conceived to be his duty, and for the best. His courage had been tested on too many occasions to allow me to think that anything but an error of judgment, or possibly the belief that under any circumstances he was bound to obey the order of the major-general commanding the division, could have induced him to abandon me.
Supposing my regiments and General Negley to be still on the field, I again dispatched Captain Wilson in search of them, and in the meantime stationed myself near a fragment of the Second Brigade of our division, and gave such general directions to the troops about me as under the circumstances I felt warranted in doing. I found abundant opportunity to make myself useful. Gathering up scattered detachments of a dozen different commands, I filled up an unoccupied space on the ridge between Harker, of Wood's division, on the left, and Brannan, on the right, and this point we held obstinately until sunset. Colonel Stoughton, Eleventh Michigan; Lieutenant-Colonel Rappin, Nineteenth Illinois; Lieutenant-Colonel Grosvenor, Eighteenth Ohio; Colonel Hunter, Eighty-second Indiana; Colonel Hays and Lieutenant-Colonel Wharton, Tenth Kentucky; Captain Stinchcomb, Seventeenth Ohio; and Captain Kendrick, Seventy-ninth Pennsylvania, were there, each having a few men of their respective commands; and they and their men fought and struggled and clung to that ridge with an obstinate, persistent, desperate courage, unsurpassed, I believe, on any field. I robbed the dead of cartridges and distributed them to the men; and once when, after a desperate struggle, our troops were driven from the crest, and the enemy's flag waved above it, the men were rallied, and I rode up the hill with them, waving my hat, and shouting like a madman. Thus we charged, and the enemy only saved his colors by throwing them down the hill. However much we may say of those who held command, justice compels the acknowledgment that no officer exhibited more courage on that occasion than the humblest private in the ranks.
About four o'clock we saw away off to our rear the banners and glittering guns of a division coming toward us, and we became agitated by doubt and hope. Are they friends or foes? The thunder, as of a thousand anvils, still goes on in our front. Men fall around us like leaves in autumn. Thomas, Garfield, Wood, and others are in consultation below the hill just in rear of Harker. The approaching troops are said to be ours, and we feel a throb of exultation. Before they arrive we ascertain that the division is Steedman's; and finally, as they come up, I recognize my old friend, Colonel Mitchell, of the One Hundred and Thirteenth. They go into action on our right, and as they press forward the roar of the musketry redoubles; the battle seems to be working off in that direction. There is now a comparative lull in our front, and I ride over to the right, and become involved in a regiment which has been thrown out of line and into confusion by another regiment that retreated through it in disorder. I assist Colonel Mitchell in rallying it, and it goes into the fight again. Returning to my old place, I find that disorganized bodies of men are coming rapidly from the left, in regiments, companies, squads, and singly. I meet General Wood, and ask if I shall not halt and reorganize them. He tells me to do so; but I find the task impossible. They do not recognize me as their commander, and most of them will not obey my orders. Some few, indeed, I manage to hold together; but the great mass drift by me to the woods in the rear. The dead are lying every-where; the wounded are continually passing to the rear; the thunder of the guns and roll of musketry are unceasing and unabated until nightfall. Then the fury of the battle gradually dies away, and finally we have a silence, broken only by a cheer here and there along the enemy's line.
Wilson and I are together near the ridge, where we have been all the afternoon. We have heard nothing of Negley nor of my regiments. We take it for granted, however, that they are somewhere on the field. As the night darkens we discover a line of fires off to our left and rear, toward McDaniels' house. That is the place where Negley should have been in the morning, and we conclude he must be there now.
We have been badly used during the day; but it does not occur to us that our army has been whipped. We start together to find Negley. We have had nothing to eat since early morning, and so, passing a corn-field, we stop for a moment to fill our pockets with corn; then, proceeding on our way, we pass through an unused field, grown up with brush, and here meet a man coming toward us on horseback. I said to him, "Are those our troops?" pointing in the direction of the line of fires. He answered, "Yes; our troops are on the road and just beyond it." Pretty soon we emerged from the brushy woods and entered an open field; just before us was a long line of fires, and soldiers busily engaged preparing supper. We had approached to within two hundred feet of them, and could hear the soldiers talk and laugh, as soldiers will, over the incidents of the day, when we discerned that we were riding straight into the enemy's line. Instantly wheeling our horses, we drove the spurs into them and lay down on their backs. We had been discovered, and a dozen or more shots were sent after us; but we escaped unharmed. The man we met in the unused field had mistaken us for Confederate officers. Two or three shots were fired at us as we approached our own line, but the darkness saved us.
Near eight o'clock in the evening I ascertained, from General Wood, that the army had been ordered to fall back to Rossville, and I started at once to inform Colonel Stoughton and others on the ridge; but I found that they had been apprised of the movement, and were then on the road to the rear.
The march to Rossville was a melancholy one. All along the road, for miles, wounded men were lying. They had crawled or hobbled slowly away from the fury of the battle, become exhausted, and lay down by the roadside to die. Some were calling the names and numbers of their regiments, but many had become too weak to do this; by midnight the column had passed by. What must have been their agony, mental and physical, as they lay in the dreary woods, sensible that there was no one to comfort or to care for them, and that in a few hours more their career on earth would be ended.
At a little brook, which crossed the road, Wilson and I stopped to water our horses. The remains of a fire, which some soldiers had kindled, were raked together, and laying a couple of ears of corn on the coals for our own use, we gave the remainder of what we had in our pockets to the poor beasts; they, also, had fasted since early morning.
How many terrible scenes of the day's battle recur to us as we ride on in the darkness. We see again the soldier whose bowels were protruding, and hear him cry, "Jesus, have mercy on my soul!" What multitudes of thought were then crowding into the narrow half hour which he had yet to live—what regrets, what hopes, what fears! The sky was darkening, earth fading; wealth, power, fame, the prizes most esteemed of men, were as nothing. His only hope lay in the Saviour of whom his mother had taught him. I doubt not his earnest, agonizing prayer was heard. Nay, to doubt would be to question the mercy of God!
A Confederate boy, who should have been at home with his mother, and whose leg had been fearfully torn by a minnie ball, hailed me as I was galloping by early in the day. He was bleeding to death, and crying bitterly. I gave him my handkerchief, and shouted back to him, as I hurried on, "Bind up the leg tight!"
The adjutant of the rebel General Adams called to me as I passed him. He wanted help, but I could not help him—could not even help our own poor boys who lay bleeding near him.
Sammy Snyder lay on the field wounded; as I handed him my canteen he said, "General, I did my duty." "I know that, Sammy; I never doubted that you would do your duty." The most painful recollection to one who has gone through a battle, is that of the friends lying wounded and dying and who needed help so much when you were utterly powerless to aid them.
Between ten and eleven o'clock, at night, I reached Rossville, and found one of my regiments, the Forty-second Indiana, on picket one mile south of that place, and the other regiments encamped near the town. My men were surprised and rejoiced to see me. It had been currently reported that I was killed. One fellow claimed to know the exact spot on my body where the ball hit me; while another, not willing to be outdone, had given a minute description of the locality where I fell. General Negley rendered me good service by giving me something to eat and drink, for I was hungry as a wolf.
At this hour of the night (eleven to twelve o'clock) the army is simply a mob. There appears to be neither organization nor discipline. The various commands are mixed up in what seems to be inextricable confusion. Were a division of the enemy to pounce down upon us between this and morning, I fear the Army of the Cumberland would be blotted out.
21. Early this morning the army was again got into order. Officers and soldiers found their regiments, regiments their brigades, and brigades their divisions. My brigade was posted on a high ridge, east of Rossville and near it. About ten o'clock A. M. it was attacked by a brigade of mounted infantry, a part of Forrest's command, under Colonel Dibble. After a sharp fight of half an hour, in which the Fifteenth Kentucky, Colonel Taylor, and the Forty-second Indiana, Lieutenant-Colonel McIntyre, were principally engaged, the enemy was repulsed, and retired leaving his dead and a portion of his wounded on the field. Of his dead, one officer and eight men were left within a few rods of our line. One little boy, so badly wounded they could not carry him off, said, with tears and sobs, "They have run off and left me in the woods to die." I directed the boys to carry him into our lines and care for him.
At midnight, the Fifteenth Kentucky was deployed on the skirmish line; the other regiments of the brigade withdrawn, and started on the way to Chattanooga. A little later the Fifteenth Kentucky quietly retired and proceeded to the same place.
22. We are at Chattanooga.
With the exception of a cold, great exhaustion, and extreme hoarseness, occasioned by much hallooing, I am in good condition. The rebels have followed us and are taking position in our front.
24. At midnight the enemy attempted to drive in our pickets, and an engagement ensued, which lasted an hour or more, and was quite brisk.
26. This morning another furious assault was made on our picket line; but, after a short time, the rebels retired and permitted us to remain quiet for the remainder of the day.
Their pickets are plainly seen from our lines, and their signal flags are discernable on Mission ridge. Occasionally we see their columns moving. Our army is busily engaged fortifying.
27. (Sunday.) Had a good night's rest, and am feeling very well. The day is a quiet one.
1. Have been trying to persuade myself that I am unwell enough to ask for a leave, but it will not work. The moment after I come to the conclusion that I am really sick, and can not stand it longer, I begin to feel better. The very thought of getting home, and seeing wife and children, cures me at once.
3. The two armies are lying face to face. The Federal and Confederate sentinels walk their beats in sight of each other. The quarters of the rebel generals may be seen from our camps with the naked eye. The tents of their troops dot the hillsides. To-night we see their signal lights off to the right on the summit of Lookout mountain, and off to the left on the knobs of Mission ridge. Their long lines of camp fires almost encompass us. But the camp fires of the Army of the Cumberland are burning also. Bruised and torn by a two days' unequal contest, its flags are still up, and its men still unwhipped. It has taken its position here, and here, by God's help, it will remain.
Colonel Hobart was captured at Chickamauga, and a fear is entertained that he may have been wounded.
4. This is a pleasant October morning, rather windy and cool, but not at all uncomfortable. The bands are mingling with the autumn breezes such martial airs as are common in camps, with now and then a sentimental strain, which awakens recollections of other days, when we were younger—thought more of sweethearts than of war, when, in fact, we did not think of war at all except as something of the past.
Sitting at my tent door, with a field glass, I can see away off to the right, on the highest peak of Lookout mountain, a man waving a red flag to and fro. He is a rebel officer, signaling to the Confederate generals what he observes of importance in the valley. From his position he can look down into our camp, see every rifle pit, and almost count the pieces of artillery in our fortifications.
Captain Johnson, of General Negley's staff, has just been in, and tells me the pickets of the two armies are growing quite intimate, sitting about on logs together, talking over the great battle, and exchanging views as to the results of a future engagement.
General Negley called a few minutes ago and invited me to dine with him at five o'clock. The General looks demoralized, and, I think, regrets somewhat the part he took, or rather the part he failed to take, in the battle of Chickamauga. Remarks are made in reference to his conduct on that occasion which are other than complimentary. The General doubtless did what he thought was best, and probably had orders which will justify his action. After a battle there is always more or less bad feeling, regiments, brigades, and corps claiming that other regiments, brigades, and corps failed to do their whole duty, and should therefore be held responsible for this or that misfortune.
There was a rumor, for some days before the battle of Chickamauga, that Burnside was on the way to join us, and we shouted Burnside to the boys, on the day of the battle, until we became hoarse. Did the line stagger and show a disposition to retire: "Stand up, boys, reinforcements are coming; Burnside is near." Once, when Palmer's division was falling back through a corn-field, our line was hotly pressed. Pointing to Palmer's columns, which were coming from the left toward the right, the officers shouted, "Give it to 'em, boys, Burnside is here," and the boys went in with renewed confidence. But, alas, at nightfall Burnside had played out, and the hearts of our brave fellows went down with the sun. Burnside is now regarded as a myth, a fictitious warrior, who is said to be coming to the rescue of men sorely pressed, but who never comes. When an improbable story is told to the boys, now, they express their unbelief by the simple word "Burnside," sometimes adding, "O yes, we know him."
5. The enemy opened on us, at 11 A. M., from batteries located on the point of Lookout mountain, and continued to favor us with cast-iron in the shape of shell and solid shot until sunset. He did little damage, however, three men only were wounded, and these but slightly. A shell entered the door of a dog tent, near which two soldiers of the Eighteenth Ohio were standing, and buried itself in the ground, when one of the soldiers turned very coolly to the other and said, "There, you d—d fool, you see what you get by leaving your door open."
6. The enemy unusually silent.
7. Visited the picket line this afternoon. A rebel line officer came to within a few rods of our picket station, to exchange papers, and stood and chatted for some time with the Federal officer. There appears to be a perfect understanding that neither party shall fire unless an advance is made in force.
11. My new brigade consists of the following regiments:
One Hundred and Thirteenth Ohio Infantry, Colonel John G. Mitchell.
One Hundred and Twenty-first Ohio Infantry, Colonel H. B. Banning.
One Hundred and Eighth Ohio Infantry, Lieutenant-Colonel Piepho.
Ninety-eighth Ohio Infantry, Major Shane.
Third Ohio Infantry, Captain Leroy S. Bell.
Seventy-eighth Illinois Infantry, Colonel Van Vleck.
Thirty-fourth Illinois Infantry, Colonel Van Tassell.
There has been much suffering among the men. They have for weeks been reduced to quarter rations, and at times so eager for food that the commissary store-rooms would be thronged, and the few crumbs which fell from broken boxes of hard-bread carefully gathered up and eaten. Men have followed the forage wagons and picked up the grains of corn which fell from them, and in some instances they have picked up the grains of corn from the mud where mules have been fed. The suffering among the animals has been intense. Hundreds of mules and horses have died of starvation. Now, however, that we have possession of the river, the men are fully supplied, but the poor horses and mules are still suffering. A day or two more will, I trust, enable us to provide well for them also. Two steamboats are plying between this and Chattanooga, and one immense wagon train is also busy. Supplies are coming forward with a reasonable degree of rapidity. The men appear to be in good health and excellent spirits.
12. We are encamped on Stringer's ridge, on the north side of the Tennessee, immediately opposite Chattanooga. This morning Colonel Mitchell and I rode to the picket line of the brigade. The line runs along the river, opposite and to the north of the point of Lookout mountain. At the time, a heavy fog rising from the water veiled somewhat the gigantic proportions of Lookout point, or the nose of Lookout, as it is sometimes designated. While standing on the bank, at the water's edge, peering through the mist, to get a better view of two Confederate soldiers, on the opposite shore, a heavy sound broke from the summit of Lookout mountain, and a shell went whizzing over into Hooker's camps. Pretty soon a battery opened on what is called Moccasin point, on the north side of the river, and replied to Lookout. Later in the day Moccasin and Lookout got into an angry discussion which lasted two hours. These two batteries have a special spite at each other, and almost every day thunder away in the most terrible manner. Lookout throws his missiles too high and Moccasin too low, so that usually the only loss sustained by either is in ammunition. Moccasin, however, makes the biggest noise. The sound of his guns goes crashing and echoing along the sides of Lookout in a way that must be particularly gratifying to Moccasin's soul. I fear, however, that both these gigantic gentlemen are deaf as adders, or they would not so delight in kicking up such a hellebaloo.
This afternoon I rode over to Chattanooga. Called at the quarters of my division commander, General Jeff. C. Davis, but found him absent; stopped at Department Head-quarters and saw General Reynolds, chief of staff; caught sight of Generals Hooker, Howard, and Gordon Granger. Soon General Thomas entered the room and shook hands with me. On my way back to camp I called on General Rousseau; had a long and pleasant conversation with him. He goes to Nashville to-morrow to assume command of the District of Tennessee. He does not like the way in which he has been treated; thinks there is a disposition on the part of those in authority to shelve him, and that his assignment to Nashville is for the purpose of letting him down easily. Palmer, who has been assigned to the command of the Fourteenth Corps, is Rousseau's junior in rank, and this grinds him. He referred very kindly to the old Third Division, and said it won him his stars. I told him I was exceedingly anxious to get home; that it seemed almost impossible for me to remain longer. He said that I must continue until they made me a major-general. I replied that I neither expected nor desired promotion.
At the river I met Father Stanley, of the Eighteenth Ohio. He presides over the swing ferry, in which he takes especial delight. A long rope, fastened to a stake in the middle of the river, is attached to the boat, and the current is made to swing it from one shore to the other.
14. My fleet-footed black horse is dead. Did the new moon, which I saw so squarely over my left shoulder when riding him over Waldron's ridge, augur this?
The rebel journals are expressing great dissatisfaction at Bragg's failure to take Chattanooga, and insist upon his doing so without further delay. On the other hand, the authorities at Washington are probably urging Grant to move, fearing if he does not that Burnside will be overwhelmed. Thus both generals must do something soon in order to satisfy their respective masters. There will be a battle or a foot-race within a week or two.
15. Have read Whitelaw Reid's statement of the causes of Rosecrans' removal. He is, I presume, in the main correct. Investigation will show that the army could have gotten into Chattanooga without a battle on the Chickamauga. There would have been a battle here, doubtless, and defeat would have resulted probably in our destruction; yet it seems reasonable to suppose that, if able to hold Chattanooga after defeat, we would have been able to do so before.
20. Orders have been issued, and to-morrow a great battle will be fought. May God be with our army and favor us with a substantial victory! My brigade will move at daylight. It is now getting ready.
Order to move countermanded at midnight.
22. The day is delightful. Lookout and Moccasin are furious. The Eleventh Corps (Howard's) is now crossing the pontoon bridge, just below and before us, to take position for to-morrow's engagement. Sherman is also moving up the river on the north side, with a view to getting at the enemy's right flank. My brigade will be under arms at daylight, and ready to move. Our division will operate with Sherman on the left. Hitherto I have gone into battle almost without knowing it; now we are about to bring on a terrible conflict, and have abundant time for reflection. I can not affirm that the prospect has a tendency to elevate one's spirits. There are men, doubtless, who enjoy having their legs sawed off, their heads trepanned, and their ribs reset, but I am not one of them. I am disposed to think of home and family—of the great suffering which results from engagements between immense armies. Somebody—Wellington, I guess—said there was nothing worse than a great victory except a great defeat.
Rode with Colonel Mitchell four miles up the river to General Davis' quarters; met there General Morgan, commanding First Brigade of our division; Colonel Dan McCook, commanding Third Brigade, and Mr. Dana, Assistant Secretary of War.
23. It is now half-past five o'clock in the morning. The moon has gone down, and it is that darkest hour which is said to precede the dawn. My troops have been up since three o'clock busily engaged making preparation for the day's work. Judging from the almost continuous whistling of the cars off beyond Mission Ridge, the rebels have an intimation of the attack to be made, and are busy either bringing reinforcements or preparing to evacuate.
Noon. There has been a hitch in affairs, and I am still in my tent at the old place.
About 2 P. M. a division or more was sent out to reconnoiter the enemy's front. The movement resulted in a sharp fight, which lasted until after sunset. Both artillery and infantry were engaged. As night grew on we could see the flash of the enemy's guns all along the crest of Mission Ridge, and then hear the report, and the prolonged reverberations as the sound went crashing among ridges, hills, and mountains. Rumor says that our troops captured five hundred prisoners.
24. Moved to Caldwell's, four miles up the river. A pontoon bridge was thrown across the stream; but there were many troops in advance of us, and my brigade did not reach the south side until after one o'clock. Our division was held in reserve; so we stacked arms and lay upon the grass midway between the river and the foot of Mission Ridge, and listened to the preliminary music of the guns as the National line was being adjusted for to-morrow's battle.
25. During the day, as we listened to the roar of the conflict, I thought I detected in the management what I had never discovered before on the battle-field, a little common sense. Dash is handsome, genius glorious; but modest, old-fashioned, practical, every-day sense is the trump, after all, and the only thing one can securely rely upon for permanent success in any line, either civil or military. This element evidently dominated in this battle. The struggle along Mission Ridge seemed more like a series of independent battles than one grand conflict. There were few times during the day when the engagement appeared to be heavy and continuous along the whole line. There certainly was not an extended and unceasing roll, as at Chickamauga and Stone river, but rather a succession of heavy blows. Now it would thunder furiously on the extreme right; then the left would take up the sledge, and finally the center would begin to pound; and so the National giant appeared to skip from point to point along the ridge, striking rapid and thundering blows here and there, as if seeking the weak place in his antagonist's armor. The enemy, thoroughly bewildered, finally became most fearful of Sherman, who was raising a perfect pandemonium on his flank, and so strengthened his right at the expense of other portions of his line, when Thomas struck him in the center, and he abandoned the field. The loss must be comparatively small, but the victory is all the more glorious for this very reason.
26. At one o'clock in the morning we crossed the Chickamauga in pursuit of the retreating enemy. The First Brigade of our division having the lead, I had nothing to do but follow it. At Chickamauga depot we came in sight of the rebels, and formed line of battle to attack; but they retired, leaving the warehouses containing their supplies in flames. At 3 P. M. my brigade was ordered to head the column, and we drove the enemy's rear guard before us without meeting with any serious opposition until nightfall, when, on arriving at Mrs. Sheppard's spring branch, near Graysville, a brigade of Confederate troops, with a battery, under command of Brigadier-General Manny, opened on us with considerable violence. A sharp encounter ensued of about an hour's duration, resulting in the defeat of the enemy and the wounding of the rebel general. My brigade behaved well, did most of the fighting, and, owing to the darkness, probably, sustained but little loss. When General Davis came up I asked permission to make a detour through the woods to the right, for the purpose of overtaking and cutting off the enemy's train; but he thought it not advisable to attempt it.
I will not undertake to give a detailed account of our march to Knoxville, for the relief of Burnside, and the return to Chattanooga. We were gone three weeks, and during that time had no change of clothing, and were compelled to obtain our food from the corn-cribs, hen-roosts, sheep-pens, and smoke-houses on the way. The incidents of this trip, through the valleys of East Tennessee, where the waters of the Hiawasse, and the Chetowa, and the Ocoee, and the Estonola ripple through corn-fields and meadows, and beneath shadows of evergreen ridges, will be laid aside for a more convenient season. I append simply a letter of General Sherman:
"HEAD-QUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE,} "CHATTANOOGA, December 18, 1863. }
"GENERAL JEFF. C. DAVIS, Chattanooga.
"DEAR GENERAL—In our recent short but most useful campaign it was my good fortune to have attached to me the corps of General Howard, and the division commanded by yourself. I now desire to thank you personally and officially for the handsome manner in which you and your command have borne themselves throughout. You led in the pursuit of Bragg's army on the route designated for my command, and I admired the skill with which you handled the division at Chickamauga, and more especially in the short and sharp encounter, at nightfall, near Graysville.
"When General Grant called on us, unexpectedly and without due preparation, to march to Knoxville for the relief of General Burnside, you and your officers devoted yourselves to the work like soldiers and patriots, marching through cold and mud without a murmur, trusting to accidents for shelter and subsistence.
"During the whole march, whenever I encountered your command, I found all the officers at their proper places and the men in admirable order. This is the true test, and I pronounce your division one of the best ordered in the service. I wish you all honor and success in your career, and shall deem myself most fortunate if the incidents of war bring us together again.
"Be kind enough to say to General Morgan, General Beatty, and Colonel McCook, your brigade commanders, that I have publicly and privately commended their brigades, and that I stand prepared, at all times, to assist them in whatever way lies in my power.
"I again thank you personally, and beg to subscribe myself, Your sincere friend,
"W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General."
Colonel Van Vleck, Seventy-eight Illinois, was kind enough in his report to say:
"In behalf of the entire regiment I tender to the general commanding the brigade, my sincere thanks for his uniform kindness, and for his solicitude for the men during all their hardships and suffering, as well as for his undaunted courage, self-possession, and military skill in time of danger."
26. Moved to McAffee's Springs, six miles from Chattanooga, and two miles from the battle-field of Chickamauga. My quarters are in the State of Tennessee, those of my troops in Georgia. The line between the states is about forty yards from where I sit. On our way hither, we saw many things to remind us of the Confederate army—villages of log huts, chimneys, old clothing, and miles of rifle pits.
27. Just a moment ago I asked Wilson the day of the week, and he astonished me by saying it was Sunday. It is the first time I ever passed a Sabbath, from daylight to dark, without knowing it.
Wilson lies on his cot to-night a disappointed man. His application for a leave was disapproved.
I am quartered in a log hut; a blanket over the doorway excludes the damp air and the cold blasts. The immense chinks, or rather lack of immense chinks, in various parts of the edifice, leave abundance of room for the admission of light. There are no windows, but this is fortunate, for if there were, they, like the door, would need covering, and blankets are scarce. The fire-place, however, is grand, and would be creditable to a castle.
The forest in which we are encamped, was, in former times, a rendezvous for the blacklegs, thieves, murderers, and outlaws, generally of two States, Tennessee and Georgia. An old inhabitant informs me he has seen hundreds of these persecuted and proscribed gentry encamped about this spring. When an officer of Tennessee came with a writ to arrest them, they would step a few yards into the State of Georgia and laugh at him. So, when Georgia sought to lay its official clutches on an offending Georgian, the latter would walk over into Tennessee and argue the case across the line. It was a very convenient spot for law-breakers. To reach across this imaginary line, and draw a man from Tennessee, would be kidnapping, an insult to a sovereign State, and in a States'-rights country such a procedure could not be tolerated. Requisitions from the governors of Tennessee and Georgia might, of course, be procured, but this would take time, and in this time the offender could walk leisurely into Alabama or North Carolina, neither of which States is very far away. In fact, the presence of large numbers of these desperados, in this locality, at all seasons of the year, has prevented its settlement by good men, and, in consequence, there are thousands of acres on which there has scarcely been a field cleared, or even a tree cut.
The somber forest, with its peculiar history, suggests to our minds the green woods of old England, where Robin Hood and his merry men were wont to pass their idle time; or the Black Forest of Germany, where thieves and highwaymen found concealment in days of old.
What a country for the romancer! Here is the dense wilderness, the Tennessee and Chickamauga, the precipitous Lookout with his foot-hills, spurs, coves, and water-falls. Here are cosy little valleys from which the world, with its noise, bustle, confusions, and cares, is excluded. Here have congregated the bloody villains and sneaking thieves; the plumed knights, dashing horsemen, and stubborn infantry. Here are the two great battle-fields of Chickamauga and Mission Ridge. Here neighbors have divided, and families separated to fight on questions of National policy. Here, in short, every thing is supplied to the poet but the invention to construct the plot of his tale, and the genius to breathe life into the characters.
It may be possible, however, that the country is yet too young, and its incidents too new, to make it a fertile field for the novelist. The imagination works best amid scenes half known and half forgotten. When time shall have thrown its shadows over the events of the last century, and the real and unreal become so intermingled in the minds of men as to become indistinguishable, imaginary Robin Hoods will find hiding places in the caves; innocent men, in deadly peril, will seek safety in the mountain fastnesses until the danger be past; conspirators will meet in the shadowy recesses to concoct their hellish plots, over which truth, courage, and honesty will finally triumph. Here the blue and the gray will meet to fight, and to be reconciled; and there will not be wanting the Helen McGregors and Die Vernons to give color and interest to the scene.
27. Our horses are on quarter feed.
Some benevolent gentleman should suggest a sanitary fair for the benefit of the disabled horses and mules of the Federal army. There is no suffering so intense as theirs. They are driven, with whip and spur, on half and quarter food, until they drop from exhaustion, and then abandoned to die in the mud-hole where they fall. At Parker's Gap, on our return from Tennessee, I saw a poor white horse that had been rolled down the hill to get it out of the road. It had lodged against a fallen tree, feet uppermost; to get up the hill was impossible, and to roll down certain destruction. So the poor brute lay there, looking pitiful enough, his big frame trembling with fright, his great eyes looking anxiously, imploringly for help. A man can give vent to his sufferings, he can ask for assistance, he can find some relief either in crying, praying, or cursing; but for the poor exhausted and abandoned beast there is no help, no relief, no hope.
To-day we picked up, on the battle-field of Chickamauga, the skull of a man who had been shot in the head. It was smooth, white, and glossy. A little over three months ago this skull was full of life, hope, and ambition. He who carried it into battle had, doubtless, mother, sisters, friends, whose happiness was, to some extent, dependent upon him. They mourn for him now, unless, possibly, they hope still to hear that he is safe and well. Vain hope. Sun, rain, and crows have united in the work of stripping the flesh from his bones, and while the greater part of these lay whitening where they fell, the skull has been rolling about the field the sport and plaything of the winds. This is war, and amid such scenes we are supposed to think of the amount of our salary, and of what the newspapers may say of us.
28. One of my orderlies approached me on my weak side to-day, by presenting me four cigars. Cigars are now rarely seen in camp. Sutlers have not been permitted to come further south than Bridgeport; and had it not been for the trip into East Tennessee the brigade would have been utterly destitute of tobacco.
While bivouacking on the Hiawasse, a citizen named Trotter, came into camp. He was an old man, and professed to be loyal. I interrogated him on the tobacco question. He replied, "The crap has been mitey poor fur a year or two. I don't use terbacker myself, but my wife used to chaw it; but the frost has been a nippen of it fur a year or two, and it is so poor she has quit chawen ontirely."
When returning from Knoxville, we passed a farm house which stood near the roadside. Three young women were standing at the gate, and appeared to be in excellent spirits. Captain Wager inquired if they had heard from Knoxville. "O yes," they answered, "General Longstreet has captured Knoxville and all of General Burnside's men." "Indeed," said the Captain; "what about Chattanooga?" "Well, we heard that Bragg had moved back to Dalton." "You have not heard, then, that Bragg was whipped; lost sixty pieces of artillery and many thousand men?" "O no!" "You have not heard that Longstreet was defeated at Knoxville, and compelled to fall back with heavy loss?" "No, no; we don't believe a word of it. A man, who came from Knoxville and knows all about it, says that you uns are retreating now as fast as you can. You can't whip our fellers." "Well, ladies," said the Captain, "I am glad to see you feeling so well under adverse circumstances. Good-by."
The girls were evidently determined that the Yank should not deceive them.
At another place quite a number of women and children were standing by the roadside. As the column approached, said one of the women to a soldier: "Is these uns Yankees?" "Yes, madam," replied the boy, "regular blue-bellied Yankees." "We never seed any you uns before." "Well, keep a sharp lookout and you'll see they all have horns on."
One day, while I was at Davis' quarters, near Columbus, a preacher came in and said he wanted to sell all the property he could to the army and get greenbacks, as he desired to move to Illinois, where his brother-in-law resided, and his Confederate notes would not be worth a dime there. "How is that, Parson," said Davis, affecting to misunderstand him; "not worth a damn there?" "No, sir, no, sir; not worth a dime, sir. You misunderstood me, sir. I said not worth a dime there." "I beg your pardon, Parson," responded Davis; "I thought you said not worth a damn there, and was surprised to hear you say so."
While we were encamped on the banks of the Hiawasse, a Union man, near seventy years old, was murdered by guerrillas. Not long before, a young lady, the daughter of a Methodist minister, was robbed and murdered near the same place. Murders and robberies are as common occurrences in that portion of Tennessee as marriages in Ohio, and excite about as little attention. Horse stealing is not considered an offense.
29. Nothing of interest has transpired to-day. Bugles, drums, drills, parades—the old story over and over again; the usual number of corn-cakes eaten, of pipes smoked, of papers respectfully forwarded, of how-do-ye-do's to colonels, captains, lieutenants, and soldiers. You put on your hat and take a short walk. It does you no good. Returning you lie down on the cot, and undertake to sleep; but you have already slept too much, and you get up and smoke again, look over an old paper, yawn, throw the paper down, and conclude it is confoundedly dull. Jack brings in dinner. You see somebody passing; it is Captain Clayson, the Judge-Advocate, and you cry out: "Hold on, Captain; come in and have a bite of dinner." He concludes to do so. Being a judge-advocate he talks law, and impresses you with the idea that every other judge-advocate has in some respects been faulty; but he has taken pains to master his duties perfectly, and makes no mistakes. Pretty soon Major Shane drops in, and you ask him to dine; but he has just been to dinner, and thanks you. Observing Captain Clayson, he asks how the business of the court-martial progresses, and says: "By the way, Captain, the sentence in that quartermaster's case was disapproved because the record was defective." The Captain blushes. He made up the record, and it strikes him the Major's remark is very untimely.
It is dull!
30. Took a ten-mile ride this afternoon. Two miles from camp I met Lieutenant Platt, one of my aids. He had asked permission in the morning to go into the country to secure a lady for a dance, which is to take place a night or two hence. I asked: "Where have you been, Lieutenant?" "At Mrs. Calisspe's, the house on the left, yonder." I did not, of course, ask if he had been successful in his mission; but as I approached the little frame in which Mrs. Calisspe resided, I thought I would drop in and see what sort of a woman had drawn the Lieutenant so far from camp. Knocking at the door, a feminine voice said "Come in," and I entered. There were three females. The elder I took to be Mrs. Calisspe. A handsome, neatly-dressed young lady I concluded was the one the Lieutenant sought. A heavy and rather dull woman, who stood leaning against the wall, I set down as a dependent or servant in the family. "Beg pardon, madam, is this the direct road to Shallow Ford?" "Yes, sir, the straight road. Won't you take a seat?" "Thank you, no. Good evening." Trotting along over the road which Mrs. Calisspe said was straight, but which, in fact, was exceedingly crooked, we came finally to the camp of the Thirteenth Michigan, a regiment which General Thomas supposes to be engaged in cutting saw-logs, when, in truth, its principal business is strolling about the country stealing chickens. It is, however, known as the saw-log regiment.
On our return from Shallow Ford, as we approached Mrs. Calisspe's, we saw her handsome daughter on the porch inspecting a side-saddle, and concluded from this that the gallant Lieutenant's application had been successful, and that she proposed to accompany him to the ball on horseback. As we galloped by the house, a little flaxen-haired, chubby boy, who had climbed the fence, extended his head over the top rail and jabbered at us at the top of his voice; but the handsome young lady did not favor us with even a glance.
31. It is late. Hours ago the bugles notified the boys that it was time to retire to their dens. I have been reading Thackeray's "Lovell, the Widower," and as I sat alone in the silence of the middle night, the scenes depicted grew distinct and life-like; the characters encompassed me about real living men and women; the drawing-rooms, dining-halls, parlors, opened out before me; the streets, walks, drives, were all visible, and I became a spectator instead of a reader. Suddenly a low, unearthly wail broke the stillness, and my hair stiffened somewhat at the roots, as the fancy struck me that I heard the voice of the defunct Mrs. Lovell. A moment's reflection, however, dispelled this disagreeable thought. Looking toward the corner of the cabin whence the ghostly sound emanated, I discovered a strange cat. My long-legged boots followed each other in quick succession toward the unhappy kitten, and I yelled "scat" in a very vindictive way.
JANUARY 1, 1864.
Standing on a peak of Mission Ridge to-day, we had spread out before us one of the grandest prospects which ever delighted the eye of man. Northward Waldron's Ridge and Lookout mountain rose massive and precipitous, and seemed the boundary wall of the world. Below them was the Tennessee, like a ribbon of silver; Chattanooga, with its thousands of white tents and miles of fortifications. Southward was the Chickamauga, and beyond a succession of ridges, rising higher and higher, until the eye rested upon the blue tops of the great mountains of North Carolina. The fact that a hundred and fifty thousand men, with all the appliances of war, have struggled for the possession of these mountains, rivers, and ridges, gives a solemn interest to the scene, and renders it one of the most interesting, as it is one of the grandest, in the world.
When history shall have recorded the thrilling tragedies enacted here; when poets shall have illuminated every hill-top and mountain peak with the glow of their imagination; when the novelist shall have given it a population from his fertile brain, what place can be more attractive to the traveler?
Looking on this panorama of mountains, ridges, rivers, and valleys, one has a juster conception of the power of God. Reflecting upon the deeds that have been done here, he obtains a truer knowledge of the character of man, and the incontestable evidences of his nobility.
* * * * *
Standing here to-day, I take off my hat to the reader, if by possibility there be one who has had the patience to follow me thus far, and as I bid him good-by, wish him "A Happy New Year."
GENERAL HARRISON C. HOBART,
OF MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN.
Among the Union officers who escaped from Libby Prison at Richmond, on the night of the 9th of February, 1864, was my esteemed friend, General Harrison C. Hobart, then Colonel of the Twenty-first Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. His name is mentioned quite frequently in the preceding pages. Ten years after the war closed, he spent a few days at my house, and while there was requested to tell the story of his capture, imprisonment, and escape. My children gathered about him, and listened to his narrative with an intensity of interest which I am very sure they never exhibited when receiving words of admonition and advice from their father.
While my manuscript was in the hands of the publishers, it occurred to me that General Hobart's story would be as interesting to others as it had been to my own family, and so I wrote, urging him to furnish it to me for publication. He finally consented to do so, and I have the pleasure now of presenting it to the reader. It bears upon its face the evidence of its entire truthfulness, and yet is as interesting as a romance.
GENERAL HOBART'S NARRATIVE.
The battles of Chickamauga were fought on the 19th and 20th of September, 1863. The Twenty-first Wisconsin, which I then commanded, formed a part of Thomas' memorable line, and fought through the battles of Saturday and Sunday. At the close of the second day, Thomas' Corps still maintained its position, and presented an unbroken front to the enemy, but the right of our army having fallen back, the tide of battle was turning against us.
To avoid a flank movement, our brigade was ordered to leave the breastworks, which they had held against the severest fire of the enemy during the day, and fall back to a second position. Here only a portion of the men, with three regimental standards, were rallied. A rebel battery was instantly placed in position on our right, and rebel cavalry swept between us and the retreating army.
Being the ranking officer among those who rallied, I directed the men to cut their way through to our retreating line. I was on the left of this movement to the rear, and, to avoid the approach of horsemen, rapidly passed to the left through a dense cluster of small pines, and instantly found myself in the immediate front of a rebel line of infantry. I halted, being dismounted, and an officer advanced and offered his hand, saying that he was glad to see me, and proposed to introduce me to his commander, General Cleburne. I replied, that I was not particularly pleased to see him, but, under the circumstances, should not decline his invitation.
I met the General, who was mounted and being cheered by his men, and surrendered to him my sword. He inquired where I had been fighting. I said, "Right there," pointing to the line of Thomas' Corps. He replied, "This line has given us our chief trouble, sir; your soldiers have fought like brave men; come with me and I will see that no one insults or interferes with you."
It was now after sun-down, and the last guns of the terrible battle of Chickamauga were dying away along the hillsides of Mission Ridge. A large number of prisoners of war were soon gathered, and marched to the enemy's rear across the Chickamauga. Here we witnessed the fearful results of the battle. The ground strewed with the dead and wounded, the shattered fragments of transportation, and a general demoralization among the forces, told the fearful price which the enemy had paid for their victory. More than fifteen hundred soldiers, prisoners of war, camped by a large spring to pass the remainder of a cold night; some without blankets or overcoats, and all without provisions.
The next day we were marched about thirty miles to Tunnel Hill, where we received our first rations from the enemy. On this march, the only food we obtained was from a field of green sorghum. Here we were placed in box cars and taken to Atlanta. On arriving at this place, we were first marched to an open field outside of the city, near a fountain of water, and surrounded by a guard. Kind-hearted people came out of the city, bringing bread with them, which they threw to us across the guard line. Immediately a second line was established, distant several rods outside of the first, to prevent them from giving us food.
From this place we were marched to the old slave-pen, and every man, as he entered the narrow gate, was compelled to give up his overcoat and blanket. I remonstrated with the officers for stripping the soldiers of their necessary clothing, as an act in violation of civilized warfare and inhuman. The men who were executing this infamous duty, did not deny these charges, but excused themselves on the ground that they were simply obeying an order of General Bragg from the front. That night I saw seventeen hundred Union soldiers lie down upon the ground, without an overcoat or blanket to protect them from the cold earth, or shield them from the heavy Southern dew.
The next morning we were ordered to take the cars, and proceed on our way to Richmond. These men arose from the ground, cold and wet with dew, and under my command organized and formed in column by companies, and marched to the depot through one of the main streets of Atlanta, singing in full chorus the Star Spangled Banner. Crowds gathered around us as we entered the cars. A guard with muskets accompanied the train.
I will here relate an incident which occurred on our way. We overtook a train of open cars, filled with Confederate wounded from the battle-field. The two trains stopped for some time alongside and in close proximity. It was a spectacle to see the men of the two armies intently observe each other. On the one side was the calm, pale face of the wounded; on the other, the earnest, deep sympathy of the captive. No unkind look or word passed between them. Of the seventeen hundred prisoners, there was not one who would not have given his coat, or reached for his last cent, to help his wounded brother.
On the last day of September, after traveling more than eight hundred miles from the battle-field of Chickamauga, we arrived at Richmond, and the officers of the Cumberland Army, to the number of about two hundred and fifty, were marched to Libby Prison.
This building has a front of about one hundred and forty feet, with a depth of about one hundred and five. There are nine rooms, each one hundred and two feet long, by forty-five wide. The height of ceilings from the floor is about seven feet. The building is also divided into three apartments by brick walls, and there is a basement below.
On entering the prison, we were severally searched, and every thing of value taken from us. Some of us saved our money by putting it into the seams of our garments before we arrived at Richmond. The officers of the Army of the Cumberland were assigned to the middle rooms of the second and third stories. The lower middle room was used as a general kitchen, and the basement immediately below was fitted up with cells for the confinement and punishment of offenders. These rooms received the sobriquet of Chickamauga.
The whole number of officers of the army and navy in prison at this time was about eleven hundred—all having access to each other, except those in the hospital. There were no beds or chairs, and all slept on the floor. I shared a horse blanket with Surgeon Dixon, of Wisconsin, which was the only bedding we had for some time. Our bread was made of unbolted corn, and was cold and clammy. We were sometimes furnished with fresh beef, corn beef, and sometimes with rice and vegetable soup. The men formed themselves into messes, and each took his turn in preparing such food as we could get.
At one time, no meat was furnished for about nine days, and the reason given was, that their soldiers at the front required all they could obtain. During this period, we received nothing but corn bread. Kind friends sent us boxes of provisions from the North, which were opened and examined by the Confederates, and if nothing objectionable was found, and it pleased them, the party to whom a box was sent was directed to come down and get it. Many of these were never delivered. Every generous soul shared the contents of his box with his more unfortunate companions. Had it not been for this provision, our life in Libby would have been intolerable.
There was no glass in the windows, and for some time no fire in the rooms. An application for window glass, made during the severest cold weather, was answered by the assurance that the Confederates had none to furnish. The worst affliction, however, was the vermin, which invaded every department.
Each officer was permitted to write home the amount of three lines per week; but even these brief messages were not always allowed to leave Richmond.
A variety of schemes were adopted to improve or kill time. We played chess, cards, opened a theater, organized a band of minstrels, delivered lectures, established schools for teaching dancing, singing, the French language, and military tactics, read books, published a manuscript newspaper, held debates, and by these means rendered life tolerable, though by no means agreeable.
An incident occurred, after we had been in prison some time, which made a deep impression upon every one. Some of our men had been confined in a block not far from Libby, called the Pemberton Building. An order had been issued to remove them to North Carolina. When they left, their line of march was along the street in our front, and when they passed under our windows, we threw out drawers, shirts, stockings, etc., which they gathered up; and when they raised their pale and emaciated faces to greet their old commanders, there were but few dry eyes in Libby. Many of them were making their last march.
Our sick were removed to the room set apart, on the ground floor, for a hospital; and, when one died, he was put in a box of rough boards, placed in an open wagon, and rapidly driven away over the stony streets. There were no flowers from loving hands, and no mourning pageant, but a thousand hearts in Libby followed the gallant dead to his place of rest.
We were seldom visited by any person. The only call I received was from General Breckenridge, of Kentucky; I had known him before the war. During our interview, I referred to the resources of the North and South, and asked him upon what ground he hoped the Confederacy could succeed. His only reply was, that, "five millions of people, determined to be free, could not be conquered."
There being no exchange of prisoners at this time, projects of escape were discussed from the beginning. One scheme was, for a few persons at a time to put on the dress of a citizen, and attempt to pass the guard as visitors. A few actually recovered their liberty in this manner. Another plan was, to dig a tunnel to the city sewer, which was understood to pass under the street in front of the prison, and escape through that to the river. This project might have succeeded had not the water interfered. The final and successful plan was as follows:
On the ground floor of the building, on a level with the street, was a kitchen containing a fire-place, at a stove connected with which the prisoners inhabiting the rooms above did their cooking. Beneath this floor was a basement, one of the rooms which was used as a store-room. This store-room was under the hospital and next to the street, and though not directly under the kitchen, was so located that it was possible to reach it by digging downward and rearward through the masonry work of the chimney. From this basement room it was proposed to construct a tunnel under the street to a point beneath a shed, connected with a brick block upon the opposite side, and from this place to pass into the street in the guise of citizens. A knowledge of this plan was confided to about twenty-five, and nothing was known of the proceedings by the others until two or three days before the escape. A table knife, chisel, and spittoon were secured for working tools, when operations commenced. Sufficient of the masonry was removed from the fire-place to admit the passage of a man through a diagonal cut to the store-room below; and an excavation was then made through the foundation wall toward the street, and the construction of the tunnel proceeded night by night. But two persons could work at the same time. One would enter the hole with his tools and a small tallow candle, dragging the spittoon after him attached to a string. The other would fan air into the passage with his hat, and with another string would draw out the novel dirt car when loaded, concealing its contents beneath the straw and rubbish of the cellar. Each morning before daylight the working party returned to their rooms, after carefully closing the mouth of the tunnel, and skillfully replacing the bricks in the chimney.
An error occurred during the prosecution of this work that nearly proved fatal to the enterprise. After a sufficient distance was supposed to have been made, an excavation was commenced to reach the top of the ground. The person working, carefully felt his way upward, when suddenly a small amount of the top earth fell in, and through this he could plainly see two sentinels apparently looking at him. One said to the other, "I have been hearing a strange noise in the ground there!" After listening a short time, the other replied that it was "nothing but rats." The working party had not been seen. After consultation, this opening was carefully filled with dirt and shored up. The work was then recommenced, and after digging about fifteen feet further the objective point under the shed was successfully reached.
This tunnel required about thirty days of patient, tedious and dangerous labor. It was eight feet below the street, between sixty and seventy feet in length, and barely large enough for a full-grown person to crawl through, by pulling and pushing himself along with his hands and feet. Among the officers entitled to merit in the execution of this work, Col. T. E. Rose, of Pennsylvania, deserves particular mention.
When all was complete, the company was organized into two parties; the first under the charge of Major McDonald, of Ohio, and the second was placed under my direction. The parties having provided themselves with citizens' clothing, which had at different times been sent to the prison by friends in the North, and having filled their pockets with bread and dried meat from their boxes, commenced to escape about seven P. M., on the 9th of February, 1864; Major McDonald's party leaving first. In order to distract the attention of the guard, a dancing party with music was extemporized in the same room. As each one had to pass out in the immediate presence of these Confederate soldiers, when he stepped into the street from the outside of the line, and as the guard were under orders to fire upon a prisoner escaping, without even calling upon him to halt, the first men who descended to the tunnel wore that quiet gloom so often seen in the army before going into battle. It was a living drama; dancing in one part of the room, dark shadows disappearing through the chimney in another part, and the same shadows re-appearing upon the opposite walk, and the sentinel at his post, with a voice that rang out upon the evening air, announcing: "Eight o'clock, Post No. One," and "All is well!" and at the same time a Yankee soldier was passing in his front, and a line of Yankee soldiers were crawling under his feet. The passage was so small that the process of departure was necessarily slow; a few inches of progress only being made at each effort, and to facilitate locomotion outside garments were taken off and pushed forward.
By this time the proceedings had become known to the whole prison, and as the first men emerged upon the street, and quietly walked away, seen by hundreds of their fellows, who crowded the windows, a wild excitement and enthusiasm were created, and they rushed down to the chimney, clamoring for the privilege of going out. It was the intention of the parties, organized by those who constructed the tunnel, that no others should leave until the next night, as it might materially diminish their own chances of escape. But the thought of liberty and pure air, and the death damp of the dark loathsome prison would not allow them to listen to any denial. Major McDonald and myself then held a parley, and it was arranged that the rope upon which we descended into the basement, after the last of the two parties had passed out, should be pulled up for the space of one hour; then it should be free to all in prison.[A]
Having joined my fortunes with Col. T. S. West, of Wisconsin, we were among the last of the second party who crawled through. About nine o'clock in the evening we emerged from the tunnel, and cautiously crossing an open yard to an arched driveway, we stepped out upon the street and slowly walked away, apparently engaged in an earnest conversation. As soon as we were out of range of the sentinels' guns, we concluded it would be the safest course to turn and pass up through one of the main streets of Richmond, as they would not suspect that prisoners escaping would take that direction. My face being very pale, and my beard long, clinging to the arm of Colonel W., I assumed the part of a decrepit old man, who seemed to be in exceeding ill health, and badly affected with a consumptive cough.
In this manner we passed beneath the glaring gaslights, and through the crowded street, without creating a suspicion as to our real character. We met the police, squads of soldiers, and many others, who gave me a sympathizing look, and stepped aside on account of my apparent infirmities. Approaching the suburbs of the town, we retreated into a ravine, which enabled us to leave the city without passing out upon one of the streets. While in prison I copied McClellan's war map of Virginia, which aided us materially in this escape. Our objective points were to cross the Chickahominy above New Bridge, then cross the Yorkville Railroad, then strike and follow down the Miamisburg pike.