William Thacker Beatty
Buffalo County Beacon
The journal entries for William T. Beatty were obtained from a Beatty, Randall and Williams Family Reunion on
28 September 2002 in Clermont, Ohio.
commenced on Friday, February 9, 1883
Diane R. Beatty Hugo April 2003.
Leaves From My Journal No. 1
Company C., 2nd O. V.I., [Ohio Voluntary Infantry] was enlisted at Goshen, Clermont County, Ohio, In July, 1861, by Captain William T. Beatty, and mustered into the service of the United States on the 20th of August, 1861, at Camp Dennison, Ohio. This regiment was formed under the command of Colonel L. A. Harris, of Cincinnati, Lieutenant Colonel John Kell, of Franklin, Ohio, and Major Anson G. McCook, Steubenville, Ohio.
Sept. 24th – Left Camp Dennison and removed to Covington, Kentucky, opposite Cincinnati. Belonging to Co. C at that time was John D. Randall and Nelson Schooley, now of Gibbon, Nebraska, and Bradford Ringer, of North Platte, Nebraska, and to other companies of the regiment quite a number who are now residents of Nebraska.
Oct. 6th – Left Covington and marched to Paris; camped on the fairground one day and night; left Paris Oct. 8th, and arrived on the 9th at Mount Sterling. At noon here we were furnished an excellent dinner by a loyal man named Oden, and at night were feasted with every variety of fat things by the citizens of Mount Sterling, brought to us on wagons, carts and wheelbarrows, in baskets, boxes and sacks. There were quarters of roast beef, pigs, turkeys, chickens, bread, butter, cakes, pies, apples, peaches, pears, melons, green corn and cider. Ladies and gentlemen, young and old, waited on us with the utmost politeness and promptness, mixing everywhere through our camp with their own colored servants to help us to the best of everything, and filling our haversacks with enough to last two days. It was a grand and glorious reception for worn out soldiers in a country claimed by Rebels.
October 10th – Resumed our march to Olympian Springs, in former days a noted summer resort for the chivalry of Kentucky, such as Henry Clay, Taylor, Webster, Marshal, Crittenden and others. Here we found about 300 home guards trying to save their state from rebellion. We remained here eight days encamped on the grounds of Esquire Gill, the proprietor of the springs. We captured twelve rebels and sent them back to Camp Dennison, Ohio.
Leaves From my Journal No. 2
Left Camp Gill at Olympian Springs on the 19th of October 1861, and marched to McCormicks Pass fourteen miles, and encamped in a very wild and picturesque country. Called our Captain Garret Davis. Some very beautiful scenery here in the mountains, and our soldiers enjoyed it. On the 22nd we again took up our march, the aggressive point being West Liberty, distance thirty-five miles. Traveling all night in a hard storm of wind and rain, wading streams, water up to our arms, plodding through the mud up to our boot tops. We became so exhausted that when ordered to halt for a few moments rest many of our soldiers fell down in the mud and lay there, and when the order came to move forward many were unable to march and were left, among them one captain and several lieutenants.
When the captain became rested he gathered up the soldiers, and took possession of a church near by. Soon after he was attacked by the Rebs, but held his fort until morning, when he was relieved by a detachment sent back. We moved on through the storm the balance of the night, arriving at West Liberty at 9 o’clock on the 23rd. Found the enemy entrenched on the hill west of the town, and after a brisk and exciting skirmish of thirty minutes dislodged them, killing one man and wounding five or six, taking the town, capturing three prisoners, and some horses, cattle and hogs.
Leaves From My Journal No. 3
BATTLE OF IVY RIDGE
Marshall’s Kentuckians being in front recoiled from the fire as they were in a narrow defile and could not form in line, and their horses being unused to the firing became unmanageable. The 2nd Ohio Infantry occupied the narrow road immediately in their rear, preventing them from passing; they dismounted and immediately returned the Rebel fire. The Rebels seemed to be very much excited, as those on our front and left on the mountain ridge or spur shot over our heads into the river, and those over the river on our right shot over our heads, cutting the leaves, limbs and bark from the trees and making them shower down upon us, but very few of their shots taking effect upon us. Colonel L.A. Harris, commanding the 2nd, seemed to take it quite coolly, ordering us to move by the left flank and charge the fortifications on the ridge, the colonel, lieutenant colonel and major leading the way.
But four companies of the regiment could obey the order as the other six companies had almost perpendicular rocks on their left and were obliged to move forward under the fire in order to follow their comrades up the ridge. This they did most heroically for green soldiers in their first battle, not a man of them to my knowledge flinching, but under the most trying circumstances advancing steadily on the works.
The hill being very abrupt with rocks of every form and size in our way, some nearly vertical and others lying at all possible angles, with small cedar trees growing out of the crevices, we were obliged to pull ourselves up as best we could, and all the while the Rebels from their breastworks in front of us pouring volley after volley down upon us, and those on the other side of the river firing steadily upon our exposed backs. Such an experience I have no desire to repeat as we then met with, and I now confess that at they trying hour I would have been glad of a reasonable excuse to leave. But to retire presented as great a danger as to press on, and in one hour and forty minutes we had possession of the Rebel works, and Humphrey Marshall and his boasting southern chivalry flying in every direction. The 2nd lost seventeen men killed, and about as many wounded. Just as we struck the enemy’s works, one section of artillery belonging to our brigade got into position and threw two shells over our heads. This gave us the victory, as the Rebels were badly frightened by them, these being the first shells they had encountered.
The 59th Ohio Infantry, under Colonel Howard, was three miles in our rear when the fighting commenced; they immediately threw down their overcoats, blankets and knapsacks and double-quicked the three miles, getting up just in time to see the enemy retreat, and to give those over the river a parting salute. General Nelson, commanding the brigade, was in the fight; being a very large man, in order to encourage his soldiers, he stood upon a rock conspicuously located and shouted to the men urging them on, and telling them that if the Rebels could not him they could not hit any of them. He escaped unhurt, but was afterwards shot and killed by Colonel Jeffrey C. Davis, of Indiana, at Louisville, Kentucky, in October 1862.
Leaves From My Journal No. 4
During the battle of Ivy Ridge, and while performing the flank movement spoken of in the last number of these leaves, while the writer was leading his company up over the rocks, being almost blind with smoke, dust, chips and leaves, he ran against a man sitting on a rock with his gun across his lap, and accosted him with, “Hallo, what’s this?” He replied, “This darned tube has got stopped, and I can’t shoot.” There he was in the midst of the fire with wrench in hand taking the nipple out of his gun, and repairing it so that he could shoot, and it impressed me as the coolest thing of the day. This was Thomas J. Cramer, then a very small soldier, seventeen years old, and a member of my company, now living in at Fort Wayne, Indiana.
As soon as the battle was over our regiment was called into line, killed, wounded and missing ascertained, and a detail made to bury the dead and care for the wounded. The regiment then moved on up the river about three miles, and encamped in an open field, the rain pouring in torrents and not a tent or shelter to cover us, and a great many of us who were unused to sleeping under such circumstances could not possibly keep our thoughts from wandering back toward home and home comforts, which was kind of natural, I suppose. The next morning we looked like men who had lain out all night. But soon the order came to march, expecting to overtake the enemy at Pikesville, twenty miles up the river. On we plod through the mud, wading the streams and climbing the spurs of the mountain, arriving at Pikesville at night only to find that the enemy had departed taking with them or destroying all the supplies.
Here we were without provisions, having cut loose from our own supplies at Prestonburg, twenty-eight miles below. Our field officers forced themselves upon a few private families that were still in town and by stealth or otherwise obtained their board, but we, poor underlings, small officers and private soldiers must supply ourselves or do without. Company C, with its officers, colors and soldiers soon had possession of an old foundry, and there being broken castings in abundance, we soon had them hot enough to a parch corn and had a bountiful supper of parched corn, washed down with copious draughts of Adam’s ale, and made palatable by hunger which is said to make an excellent sauce.
The next day a detail was made of twenty men to forage for meat, two men from each company forming the foraging party. While hunting for cattle land hogs they discovered a large amount of honey and were about to appropriate it when a woman called to them from the house offering them all the rendered honey they wanted if they would let her bees alone. This they accepted, and having nothing but their haversacks to carry it in they filled them full and at night they came into camp driving some cows and calves, and honey dropping from their haversacks on their saddles and ponies, the flies fighting for the wastage. Some of the cattle were speedily converted into cooked beef and taken care of by our hungry soldiers. The next day we had nearly all the women and children of the neighborhood in town hunting their cows. Our colonel being a whole souled generous fellow sent for the writer and ordered him to go to the cattle yard, and if there were any cows there unfit for beef to turn them out. As there were quite a number of such the women and children were pleased as they led their cows home again.
Leaves From My Journal No. 5
PIKESVILLE, November 16, 1861
During the night a courier arrived informing our colonel that the Rebels had got in our rear and were marching on Prestonburg to capture our supplies, teams, sick and wounded; we were immediately ordered to be ready to march at daylight for Prestonburg, twenty-eight miles distant, and soon we were under way as fast as we could walk, and constantly urged to go faster. Before noon our men began to lag, and some to sit or lie down, so worn out that the officers could not induce them to proceed. The farther we went the worse they became, dropping all along the road. Our field officers being on horseback did not realize the fatigue of the foot soldiers, and when we arrived at Prestonburg the captain of Company A on our right flank had one lieutenant and twelve men: Company C came next with his captain, colors and eight men. Two or three other companies were represented by a few men, and some of the companies were entirely absent, and if the enemy had been at Prestonburg they could have easily captured our whole regiment, for the officers and men came straggling in all night, and in the morning but few were missing.
The second day after, we started for the mouth of big Sandy River with orders to proceed to Cincinnati; we put our sick and our baggage on small boats and rafts while the soldiers marched down the river to the mouth of Johns Creek, where we procured some coal barges and embarked for Catlettsburg. As we pulled out from shore our band struck up “Getting out of the Wilderness,” which raised a shout that echoed and re-echoed among the hills on the shore. Arriving at Catlettsburg, we found one of Cincinnati’s best streamers waiting for us, the Jacob Strader, and now we began to feast again; arriving at Cincinnati we found our friends from the homes of Company C with a supply of underclothing, socks, mittens and gloves – a God-send to us, as the government had not yet issued any clothing.
Soon we were under way again for Louisville, Ky.; arrived in the morning of November 25th, disembarked and marched five miles in a snowstorm and encamped in an open field without tents, the surface of the ground covered with snow and water. This was too much for our field officers, so they called on the writer, and the colonel ordered him to take charge of the regiment until further orders, and they decamped for the comforts of Louisville, and we saw no more of them for twenty-fours hours. Toward night our tents arrived and we speedily had them up; as there were several stack of hay in the field and a good rail fence around it, we soon had comfortable quarters and good fires, the soldiers being ordered to take none but the top rails to make their fires; but it was so very cold that when morning came the top rails and all others were gone into smoke and ashes.
The mud and snow mixed together grew so bad that about one-half of our men got sick of the weather and reported at sick call, wanting to go the hospital at Louisville, but soon orders were issued, and we marched to Elizabethtown, the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln.
Leaves From My Journal No. 6
ELIZABETHTOWN, KY, December 11, 1861
We remained here six days; General Don Carlos Buell commanding the department of the Ohio is concentrating a large body of troops here for the purpose of making a descent into the land of Dixie. Our camp is called Camp Washington.
Here the 2nd, 21st and 33rd Ohio and the 10th Wisconsin Regiments were formed into the 9th brigade of the department of the Ohio, the brigade commanded by Colonel Sill of the 33rd Ohio, our division being commanded by General O. M. Mitchel, formerly known as professor Mitchel, founder of Mt. Adams observatory at Cincinnati, Ohio (now the Mitchel observatory).
On the 17th we again took up our march, and on the evening of the 19th encamped at Bacon Creek 65 miles from Louisville, on the railroad to Nashville, Tenn.; here we remained until February 10th. On the 25th we received two months’ pay. This was the first money we received as soldiers as soldiers, and it gladdened many a brave heart. The members of Company C sent home $2,000 as a Christmas gift to their families at home.
How different our situation now from or former life; we are not at home with family and friends, nor are we surrounded with comfort and plenty, but surrounded with all the paraphernalia of war, and exposed to all its dangers, privations and difficulties. The snow has disappeared, and in its place we have mud a foot in depth, but because of it we are excused from drill through the courtesy of our lived general O. M. Mitchel, who encouraged us very much by preaching the gospel to us on successive Sabbath days. One thing is seen in Company C this evening – the first time since its organization – three or four men reeling under the influence of intoxicating drinks.
December 30th – Grand review of this division by General Buell, commander of this department.
December 31st – New Year’s Eve. The sun sets most beautifully, casting his last lingering look over the tented field as he sinks into oblivion, like the last moments of the departing Christina, calm, quietly and peaceful. But not so with us poor soldiers; war has changed the scene: while many of us would most gladly be now meeting with anxious friends at home to spend a Happy New Year together, here we are penned up within the huts of a military camp, subject to military rules, not daring to leave without the consent of “red tape,” which in many instances puts on unwarrantable authority; but the inquiring and untiring mind of the Anglo Saxon must have food, and there being several large caves near our camp, a great many of us spent part of our time investigating; thousands of our men find recreation in daily visits to these curious caves.
January 11, 1862 – As the freight train from Louisville was passing our camp a soldier belonging to the 13th Ohio fell from the cars and was instantly killed. Cause, bad whiskey.
January 20th – During the night we were visited by a tremendous storm of thunder, lightning and rain, completely flooding our camp; the next day we gathered up our households and household goods and moved one mile in advance on the banks of Bacon Creek, high above the water, fixing ourselves, comfortable in our new Sibley tents, and being supplied with excellent beef from Cincinnati, we began to feel like men again. The camps of our entire division are in sight, spread over the hillsides and valley of Bacon Creek, immediately east of us. But hark! A mighty hurrah comes from McCook’s division west of us, caught up by the different camp until Bacon Creek valley roars with the echoes.
Leaves From My Journal No. 7
Feb 9, 1862 – Peal on peal the hurrah sounds and immediately the order comes: strike tents, into lines, on to Nashville! And now what a commotion is seen and heard, others on flying steeds rushing from point to point giving orders, while the rumbling thud of heavy bodies of cavalry, the rattle of artillery wheels and the tramp, tramp, tramp of infantry, create such a commotion that once heard and seen can never be forgotten. In a few minutes forty thousand men are in motion, and a march of five miles brings us to Green River; here the Rebels had destroyed the railroad bridge and McCook’s division had rebuilt it, three hundred feet long and one hundred and thirty feet above the water. We cross the bridge, marched three miles up the river and encamp in a beautiful grov
Appearances are here of an extensive Rebel encampment now deserted. A battle was fought here two weeks since Colonel Willick commanding the 32nd Indiana was practicing his men in skirmish drill when he was attacked by 2 regiment of cavalry called the Texas Rangers under Colonel Terry, supported by two regiments of infantry and a section of artillery. The Rangers charged Willick with a yell, but got themselves most terribly whipped; their colonel and a large number of men and horses killed before their supports could come up. When they arrived and saw the cavalry retreating, they w also fled, thus one regiment of green Hoosiers putting to flight three regiments of Texans supported by artillery. Dead horses lay all over the field, and the 2nd Ohio boys gathered up quite a number of cavalry revolvers which had been lost in the fight.
Feb. 12 – Forward again; march 18 miles and encamped at Glasgow Junction; here we found the railroad tunnels filled up, the wagon roads obstructed by trees and logs, the ponds and water supplies, filled with dead horses, mules, cattle and hogs, and our own soldiers so thirsty that they would take water out of a pond, alongside of a dead animal and drink it. Here we learn that fifty thousand Rebels are entrenched at Bowling Green awaiting our approach.
Leaves From My Journal No. 8
Feb. 16, 1862 – Forward again is the order; moved to the railroad and went on board of a long train of flat cars, the rain pouring steadily down. While the troops were boarding the cars our brave general, O. M. Mitchel stood upon a bank by the track and sang us a thrilling war song. Went about twenty-five miles on railway when we found the track destroyed by water. We left the cars and marched three or four miles through the wood and came to the railroad again where we build fires and lay down upon the track for the night.
Feb. 17th – Marched to Gallatin; being entirely out of supplies some Union men informed us that the Rebels had secreted a quantity of provisions about twenty miles out in the country, which we soon appropriated; we lay here two days.
Feb. 20th – General Mitchel rode to our camp and informed us that the Rebels had fled from Nashville and the city had surrendered to him.
Feb. 21st – Marched to Edgefield Junction.
Feb. 22nd – Moved on and encamped within five miles of Nashville.
Feb. 27th – Crossed the Cumberland River on the steamer Silver Moon the Rebels having destroyed all the bridges; marched through the city and five miles out on the turnpike toward Murfreesboro; here we encamped in a beautiful park, formerly a place of resort for the southern chivalry; a beautiful mansion that formerly stood in the midst of the park had lately been burned. We called this camp Andrew Jackson, the tomb of the hero of New Orleans being in the vicinity of this place. The Rebels have fled to Murfreesboro, thirty miles south.
On Sunday, March 2nd, our quartermaster overtook us with our supplies, and getting possessions of our tents and plenty of provisions we began to live again.
March 4th – Our paymaster arrived and paid us the amounts due us for two months of service, my company C turning over to me fifteen hundred dollars which I expressed home to their families.
March 8th – About four o’clock in the afternoon the long roll was beaten, and in about two minutes our regiment was double-quicking it up the turnpike toward Murfreesboro. We soon learned that the noted guerilla John Morgan, had captured b about forty men and eighty horses from the train belonging to the Fourth Ohio Cavalry, that regiment being encamped about four miles in advance. The Rebels left the wagons standing in the road and made off with their prize. But the fourth immediately gave chase and soon recaptured the horses and most of the men, killing and capturing eight or ten of Morgan’s men; we returned to camp the same night.
March 18th – General Mitchel’s division started for Murfreesboro and arrived there on the 20th having had to make quite a circuit on account of the bridges on the direct route being destroyed by the Rebels. Here we encamped and remained until April 4th, rebuilding the railroad bridge across Stone River, which had been burned by the enemy. While encamped here the 2nd O. V. I. Presented our colonel with a beautiful sword which cost $305 inscribed as follows: “Presented to Colonel L. A. Harris by the non-commissioned officers and privates of the 2nd O. V. I., as a token of their esteem. The heart is all.”
April 4th – Took up our march for Shelbyville. This is a beautiful country, excellent turnpike roads lined on either side with evergreen shrubbery, fine farms and handsome buildings. We encamped on Duck River, one mile south of Shelbyville.
April 6th – Sabbath preaching in camp by our chaplain, M. P. Gaddis, of Cincinnati, followed by an interesting philosophical address by our excellent General O. M. Mitchel.
Leaves From My Journal No. 9
April 6th – 1862 – At night a very interesting prayer meeting was held by the 2nd and the 21st Ohio Regiments.
April 7th – Our regiment was again paid for two months time.
April 8th – Rained very hard. Companies C and H were sent forward one mile on picket duty under command of the writer. We took a position on a high ridge.
April 9th – We took up our march at four o’clock a.m. for Fayetteville, twenty-six miles away, and arrived at twelve a.m. on the 10th. The writer was ordered to stake off a camp a la military. The task was about half completed, when I received orders to head my company on the march for Huntsville, Alabama. The 4th Ohio Cavalry under Colonel Kennett was a few miles in our front during this march. Belonging to the cavalry was a young man named Pike, from Hillsboro, Ohio, who was one of the most daring and successful scouts belonging to the army of the Cumberland, always in advance of our Army, braving everything and daring anything. The day before we entered Fayetteville he rode into town full of Rebel soldiers, stopped at the hotel, ordered his horse fed, walked into the hotel, and called for dinner. There were some eight or ten Rebel officers sitting in the office, one of whom challenged him with, “See here, who are you?” “Well, sir,” said he, “I am Corporal Pike, of the 4th Ohio Cavalry, and if you don’t want to be caught in here and had better get out immediately, for the Blue-Coats are close by, and will capture you if you do not leave.” “Well, but,” says Johnny, “how do you know that, and who are you, anyhow? “I told you who I am, Corporal Pike.” “Yes, the devil you are, you are one of our scouts.” So he ate his dinner, called for his horse, mounted and rode off passing a point at a mountain, he came upon a wagon train loaded with bacon; single-handed he captured the wagon-master, compelled him to corral his train, unhitch, take his horses and leave. Pike, then burned the bacon.
We arrived at Huntsville at four o’clock April 11th. General Mitchel took possession of the city, completely surprising the enemy who fled at our approach. Here we captured fifteen locomotives, a large number of cars, depots, roundhouse and machine shops all complete. Also two trains loaded with wounded and paroled or furloughed soldiers just arrived from the battle of Corinth or Pittsburgh Landing. Our general immediately ordered a detail of eight hundred men, with their officers, the whole under the command of Colonel Sill, of the 33rd Ohio, to take a train for Bridgeport, sixty-five miles east and south on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. We ran our train off the track before we left the city, worked most of the night to replace it, then left, surprising every station on the road from Huntsville to Bridgeport, capturing railroad stock and supplies. The citizens had collected at the stations expecting to receive their friends from the Shiloh battle, and stood anxiously gazing at us until they discovered the stars and stripes, then fled precipitately into the woods or into the houses as opportunity offered.
At one place called Woodville, a small town, men women and children ran into the river, waist deep, crossed and fled into the woods. At another town about fifty men were seen on the platform in front of the depot, armed. They gazed intently until we were within a few rods when they ran into the depot, came out on the other side without guns, having left them in the building, and as they were all dressed in citizen dress they said there were no soldiers among them or in the town. Here our general overtook us, having followed on an express train, led us on four miles to a bridge across a stream about eight miles from Bridgeport, on the Tennessee River. This bridge we burned to prevent the enemy from making a dash at us from Bridgeport or Chattanooga.
We then returned to Huntsville, having captured ten or twelve engines, a large amount of rolling stock, twenty-five or thirty prisoners and destroyed a quantity of arms. Huntsville, Alabama, is one of the most beautiful and pleasant places in the south. It is built upon a hill out of which issues a stream of water as clear as crystal and of sufficient quantity to be called a river; and within one hundred feet of the hill a dam is built and machinery put in so that the water, in passing over the dam, turns the machinery and carries itself up to the highest point t in the city into a reservoir which supplies the city with the purest and best of water. The best and most beautiful of evergreens and flowering trees and plants adorn the streets, sidewalks and gardens; and the most beautiful of southern flowers, the magnolia, is constantly seen in the parks and gardens. Here we established our camps; our regiments being encamped at different points in or near the city so as to completely prevent a surprise.
Leaves From My Journal No. 10
April 15, 1862. We remained encamped at Huntsville, Alabama, until the 19th of June. One division of Blue-Coats under O.M. Mitchel encamped in the very heart of the Confederacy for over three months, holding the city of Huntsville, the Memphis & Charleston Railroad, and the Tennessee River for over 100 miles, having a picket line around the city over fifteen miles long. The officers in charge of this line had to visit every picket post on the line every twelve hours. The writer was kept at this duty until he was worn out, and took the typhoid fever, and went to the hospital on the evening of the 15th. Two brigades started for Florence, eighty miles distant by rail, stopped at Town River; here the Rebels had burned the bridge. One brigade, under Colonel Turchin, marched on and took the town, the Rebs fleeing.
Returned to Huntsville on the 18th. Four companies of the 2nd sent to Stephenson, sixty miles towards Chattanooga, under Captain Berryhill. At 2 p.m. we were ordered to move in ten minutes and take the train to Stephenson to reinforce Berryhill, who had sent his first lieutenant to inform our colonel that the enemy was in full force in his front and he was likely to be overpowered. So here we go as fast as steam can carry us to Stephenson. Arrived at his position at ten o’clock same night.
19th – Sabbath morning. Moved cautiously forward through rain and mud and water to attack the enemy, but lo! No enemy there, neither had there been any for a month. Returned to Huntsville through a very cold rain and hail.
24th – A detachment of 200 men from the 2nd O.V.I., under the writer ordered to report to Colonel Moore, of the 33rd O.V.I., who, with 200 men from his regiment, took the train for Jonesboro, remained two days guarding supplies.
26th – Returned to Huntsville; found the 2nd O.V.I. gone toward Chattanooga; ordered to report with my command to our colonel at Stephenson. Took the cars and moved off immediately and reported same night.
28th – 2nd Ohio reconnoitering towards Bridgeport; surprised the enemy’s picket, thirty or forty strong, at a place called Widow’s Creek, taking five prisoners and destroying their camp. Returned to Stephenson the 29th; moved forward again supported by the 3rd and 33rd Ohio and 10th Wisconsin Regiments; drove in the enemy’s pickets, and being reinforced by 10th Ohio Regiment and one section of artillery, advanced on Bridgeport, on the Tennessee River, twenty-five miles west of Chattanooga. Here the enemy was entrenched 3,000 strong, under General Ledbetter, but we merely arrived in time to give them a parting salute, as they retreated toward Chattanooga, having set fire to the railroad bridge to prevent our following. This bridge spans the Tennessee River and is 1,260 feet long. We captured the town, with two pieces of artillery, fifty prisoners, a number of horses and a quantity of provisions. Remained here four days. While here I saw a letter written by a woman in New Orleans to her husband, a Rebel soldier. She sent him some shirts, which she said she had to make out of her own, as she could get neither flannel nor muslin in the city.
May 3. – Returned to Huntsville to our old camp.
Leaves From My Journal No. 11
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama, May 6, 1862
The roaring of artillery is heard in every direction this morning, our troops rejoicing over the capture of Yorktown, Virginia. Colonel Harris, of the 2nd, superceded Colonel Norton, of the 33rd, a Provost Marshal of the city; consequently we are acting as Provo-Guards.
Now for some incidents of camp life: As stated in former leaves, the picket line around Huntsville was about fifteen miles long, and it made the duty of the officer in charge to make this circuit every twelve hours and report to General Mitchel at twelve noon and twelve midnight. On the east and south the pickets were posted at the foot of the mountain in very dense timber, composed of different species of evergreen, trees and shrubs.
Those sentinels and pickets were instructed to move as soon as it became dark eight or ten rods from the position they occupied in the daytime, so that if the enemy had discovered them in the daytime they would not find them in the same position after night; consequently the officer in charge would not know exactly where his sentinels were in the darkness, and I have frequently been halted in those deep, dark dells with the “who comes there,” in so stern a voice that it almost made me wish I was at home; the answer would be, “a friend.” “Dismount, friend, and give the countersign.” The sentinel would then bring his gun to a charge, and the officer had to lean forward over the point of bayonet and whisper the countersign in his ear. This I have often done by taking hold of the bayonet with my left hand, and holding a cocked revolver in my right hand, not knowing whether I was dealing with friend or foe; this was spice in the soldier’s life.
On the northeast of the city two miles out, two of the principal roads intersected each other. Near this junction stood a very fine mansion, occupied by a man whom we had captured as quartermaster, when we captured the city. This man was paroled and allowed to stay at his home. At the junction a few rods nearer the city I had a lieutenant with fifty men on picket, and visiting this post in the evening, the lieutenant informed me that he had disobeyed orders (as he had been ordered not to suffer any one to pass out), as he had allowed an old darky to pass and go to the mansion. The Negro had informed him that he was a preacher, and had agreed to marry a couple of Negroes at that house, and that the lady of the house had requested him to send the officer out there when he came. So telling the lieutenant to hold his men in readiness for hear of treachery, I rode over to the house, went to the well and got a drink. The lady came out and invited me in, saying, as we walked to the house. “We are going to have a Negro wedding here tonight, and I want you to be present, as you people up north think we use our servants like brutes. I want you to see for yourself.”
Arrived at the house, she ordered a man to take my horse to the stable, and I went into the parlor. In a short time I was invited to step out on the front porch, and there behind a mahogany stand sat the old darky preacher, with a small book in hand, and two lamps on the stand. In a few minutes there came from the Negro quarters, in the rear of the mansion, about fifty Negroes, men, women and children, preceded by two Negro girls, probably ten years of age, each holding a large wax candle burning with a beautiful light. Immediately following the two girls were the bride and groom, the bride being almost white, with even features and long black hair, while the man by her side was a black as any Negro, with lips as thick as I ever saw. They came in front of the minister, and he first had prayer, then performed the marriage ceremony in a masterly manner. The whole company then filed into the mansion and sat down to one of the finest suppers I ever saw in any country, and the white lady of the house waited on them herself. A finer supper, better conducted wedding, or more polite and pleasant people I never associated with – except the man of the house (the paroled quartermaster); he merely sat there, looking as grum as an old mule, and I could not get him to say anything.
Leaves From My Journal No. 12
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama, May 17, 1862
Colonel Harris, of the 2nd, was succeeded as city marshal by Colonel John Beatty, of the 3rd. The 2nd, relieved of duty in the city, returned to its old camp. There are three splendid church edifices in Huntsville, belonging to the Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian denominations. The church members here, and especially the ministers, are the worst of Rebels, and have done more at instigating and encouraging rebellion, than any other class.
May 22nd – A deputation of the enemy came in with a flag of truce to exchange prisoners.
May 24th – A detachment of 200 men under Colonel Rell sent to escort a train to Shelbyville.
May 25th – Sabbath. Preaching by our chaplain, Reverend M.P. Gaddes, just returned from Cincinnati. Our officers took possession of one-half of the Huntsville cemetery and buried our dead there, and every time we went to bury a soldier the young ladies of the Rebel persuasion would appear with baskets of flowers, and decorate the graves of Rebel soldiers, while contemptuously scorning the graves of those who died in defense of the union; but we of course said nothing to them, as we had no fight with ladies, unless they PANTED for military glory, donned the Rebel uniform and stood in the Confederate ranks.
June 11th – Still in camp at Huntsville. General good health commanding our army at present; we stand the climate here much better than we anticipated.
12th - Order issued to pack up and move to Stevenson. Took the cars to Belfont, then on foot to Stevenson.
13th - On to Jasper, twenty miles below Chattanooga on the Tennessee River, arriving on the 14th. Here we found Colonel Sill, of the 33rd Ohio, and a part of the 10th Wisconsin; also a body of cavalry; here we remained until the 21st. Ascertaining that the enemy were getting in our rear, we fell back a distance of six miles to the mouth of Battle Creek; here we were reinforced by 20,000 troops, they being a part of Buell’s Army, just arrived from Corinth, or the battle of Pittsburgh Landing. We fortified the north bank of the river, while the foe appeared in force upon the opposite bank. Our pickets being on the north bank and theirs on the south, they would hail each other across the stream, inquiring as to the news, and proposing an exchange of late newspapers. The details amicably arranged, one from each side would plunge into the stream with the papers in his teeth, the two meeting in the middle of the river, completing the exchange, and swimming back to their respective shores, thus contributing to the spread of information as to what was going on in the different parts of the world. Here we lay doing but little and living on half rations. Our camp is called Malotsky, and is situated at the mouth of Battle Creek on the Tennessee River, twenty-five miles below Chattanooga, where General Bragg is organizing a large Army.
24th – Bragg having fitted up his Army, and being unmolested by Buell, crossed the Tennessee and marched for Kentucky, which compelled Buell to fall back to Nashville. Our Army, after enduring incredible hardships marching over the Cumberland mountains, living on green corn, potatoes, and such fruits as came to hand, arrived at Nashville on September 3rd, where we remained until the 6th; left there for Bowling Green, which we reached on the 10th, and remained there ten days, being worn down with the hard service to which we had been subjected.
Left Bowling Green on the 20th for Louisville, frequently coming near Bragg’s Army, Buell steadily refusing to attack him, although pressingly urged to do so by many of his subordinate officers, among them General George H. Thomas, than whom the army of the Cumberland could not produce a better or abler officer.
On the 28th of September Buell arrived at Louisville with 40,000 men. Here he found twelve or fifteen thousand more and re-organized his Army, and on the 1st of October left Louisville in pursuit of Bragg, who had gone southeast. He overtook him at Perryville, Boyle County, Kentucky, and two divisions under Rousseau and Jackson, the whole commanded by General A.M. McCook, immediately attacked Bragg and fought him successfully for five hours, while Buell, with 30,000 men, was within three miles, but refused to reinforce McCook, although General Thomas begged him to allow him to lead his division into the conflict. When night closed the scene, it left both sides upon the battlefield, each claiming possession.
Leaves from My Journal No. 13
PERRYVILLE, KY, October 9, 1862
Both armies claimed the battlefield at dark last night. This morning brought to light the fact that General Bragg, with his Army of Rebels, had silently withdrawn during the night, and was in full retreat south towards Chattanooga. But a greater surprise to the Union troops was the fact that our most generous General Buell lay quietly in camp for three days, refusing to let his Army pursue Bragg, suffering him to forage, and carry away all the supplies that he could find conveyance for. This was to us an unaccountable inconsistency, for all our officers were satisfied that we could have captured his entire Army, but General Buell forbade our doing so.
It was said at the time that Bragg and Buell were brothers-in-law, and the consequence was that General Buell was relieved, and General William Rosecrans placed in command, and who immediately pursued Bragg. The particulars of this pursuit I cannot give, as I was severely wounded in the battle on the 8th, and left on the battlefield. Being in command of the Color Company of the 2nd Ohio during the battle, I received a Minnie ball through my thigh, seven ball holes through my coat, and seventeen ball holes through my colors. The 2nd Ohio lost in the battle, either killed or wounded, five out of seven captains, four lieutenants and ninety-nine men. Suffice it to say that General Rosecrans forced Bragg back to Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Here Bragg fortified, and Rosecrans attacked him on the 27th of December, 1862; fought him four days, drove him from his position on the 31st and captured the city. It rained almost incessantly during the battle, our soldiers being compelled to remain all night in line of battle in the cold rain, our supplies gave out, and the hungry men cut up the horses that were killed in battle and ate their flesh. Many of them perished with cold and hunger. We lost in this battle about ten thousand men killed, wounded and missing.
On the 20 th of January 1863, I rejoined my regiment: I was going on a crutch, and as we lay at Murfreesboro near four months I recovered, and being promoted took my place as major. During this time our Army was reinforced, reorganized and refitted, and the last of April 1863, took up the line of march for Chattanooga. When Rosecrans attacked Bragg our Army was composed of three corps under Generals George H. Thomas, Alexander M. McCook and Crittenden – McCook on the right, Thomas in the centre, and Crittenden on the left. Murfreesboro is on the east bank of Stone River; the railroad and turnpike leading from Nashville runs on the west side of the river until near the city, where a long bridge crosses the river. Crittenden’s corps were on the east side of the river, marching south directly on the city. Thomas was in the centre, on the west side of the river, on the railroad and pike. McCook’s’ corps were farther west, and in his front was a dense cedar Forrest filled with Confederate soldiers.
The battle raged with desperate fury for two days, when the Rebels concentrated their forces, and with desperate energy and reckless courage forced McCook back at right angles to Thomas who, pouring a desperate fire of shot land shell into their flank, compelled them to fall back, and let McCook partly recover his ground. The enemy immediately whirled around Thomas in front, crossed the river, and passing through the city poured nearly their entire force on Chrittendon, compelling him to give way from the left and swing back on Thomas’ left into Stone River. Thomas immediately ordered a division to their support, who formed on the west bank of the river, and as soon as Chrittendon came down the east bank so as to uncover the Rebels, who were rushing after them, they received such a shower of balls from Thomas’ men that caused them to halt, and Chrittendon immediately reformed his men, rushed back up the hill, and in a hand to hand fight drove the enemy back into and through the city, and Thomas and McCook also moving forward, the whole Rebel Army gave way and the battle was won. But O, the horror of that battlefield! Who shall describe it so as to convey a correct idea to those who never saw a battle?
Leaves From My Journal No. 14
MURFREESBORO, Tennessee Jan. 1, 1863
This morning found General Bragg in full retreat toward Chattanooga, while the Union forces under Rosecrans were hunting something to stop their hunger and rest their worn out constitutions. Now we will take a look at the events of yesterday, and some incidents of the battlefield, as this was one of the most terrible battles of the rebellion. On the east side of the river was a large field and it was over this that the Rebels had driven Crittendens’ corps until they were reinforced by Thomas, and then quickly rallying under their brave and noble General, they threw themselves with the most desperate courage on the enemy; and now comes the real test of brute force against physical force, the corn fed madsills of the north on one side and on the other side the cotton stuffed chivalry of the south. The southerners were flushed with their success, and the northerners stung by their repulse, and both sides were determined to win. Awful and desperate was the struggle. Officers and men were cut down by hundreds, and the roar of artillery, and musketry, and the clash of sabers was most terrible and entirely beyond description, and for hours the carnage went on, until the physical endurance of the mudsills began to tell heavily on the cotton chivalry and mere physical or brute force won the day, equal valor being displayed by both officers and men on either side.
On the west side of the river, nearly opposite to Crittenden’s battlefield was a large plantation, and an immense cotton field was occupied by Thomas’ corps, here also heavy work was done. The mansion house, a very fine brick had fifteen or twenty holes pierced through its walls by solid shot from our artillery as Thomas advanced, and the whole field on either side of the river lay covered with the dead of the late contending armies, side by side when they fell, artillery men, cavalry and infantry in one indefinable mass.
“And there lay the steed with his nostrils all wide”
“But through them there rolled not the breast of his pride”
“And there lay the rider distorted and pale”
“With the dew on his brow and the rust on his mall.”
And in this terrible carnage were found Generals Sill, Jackson, McPherson and several others, with Colonel Kell of the second, with hosts of captains and lieutenants and thousands of privates who had showed the most daring bravery. Twenty days after the battle those fields, and also the cedar forest where McCook’s corps fought were yet covered with broken remnants of the fight. Artillery wheels, caissons, baggage wagons, muskets, swords, sabers, pistols, bayonets, cartridge boxes, caps, hats, and shoes, and tons of shot and shells, with great furrows plowed in the ground by heavy shot and shells, and earth in many places saturated with blood, while in the cedar forest the ground was covered with tree tops, limbs, bark and pieces of trees of every conceivable shape and size, and in many places solid shot had gone through large trees making holes as large as a man’s head. After the battle, large quantities of these trees were cut and manufactured into canes, rulers, toilet boxes and other articles of various kinds as in mementos of the tearful conflict, a great many pieces still having the leaden balls sticking in them. The writer has a large ruler made from a piece of cedar picked up on the battlefield.
Leaves From My Journal No. 15
MURFREESBORO, Tennessee June 21, 1863
The result of this great battle was the retreat of Bragg, and the capture of Murfreesboro by the Union Army; but our men were so completely worn down and used up that Rosecrans did not pursue, but went into camp in land about the city while Bragg finding himself not pursued, went into camps at Fairfield, Winchester, Tullahoma, Deckard, and other points on the road to Chattanooga. Here the two Armies lay until the 25th of June, putting in their time burying the dead, taking care of the sick and wounded, reorganizing and refitting, most of our regiments being reduced by death and sickness to one-half their former number. The 2nd O.V.I. now belongs to the 1st brigade, 1st division of the 14th Army Corps, commanded by General George H. Thomas, and we are all encamped in regular tactic order in brigades, divisions and corps, so that General Rosecrans knew exactly where each subordinate officer was with his command, and could have called his whole Army into line for battle in fifteen minutes.
While we lay here a young man belonging to Brush’s Indiana Battery deserted, was pursued and captured, court-martialed and condemned to be shot. On the day of his execution our whole division was called to see him shot. We were formed in two ranks open order. The condemned man was marched between the ranks, headed by fife and drum playing the “Rogue’s March.” He was then seated on his coffin, his eyes bandaged, and eight soldiers placed ten paces in front of him. These soldiers were then handed eight rifles, four of which were loaded with ball, and four with only blank cartridges, the soldiers not knowing which were loaded. Their commander then said, “Ready, aim, fire,” and four balls pierced the breast of the young man, and he fell backward on his coffin, dead. It was said at the time that it was necessary for the subordination of our army to make an example of this young man, but many tears were shed for him that day by men who would not flinch in battle.
June 25th – Rosecrans has now got a good ready, and sends his aids to notify the different commands to be ready to move at six o’clock in the morning, with five days rations and sixty rounds of ammunition. The next morning came, and with it a tremendous rainstorm; but no matter, soldiers must obey, and out into line we drove, and there we stand for four hours, the rain pouring down. At ten o’clock the word is given to march, and here we go slosh, slosh, slosh, through the mud and water knee deep; but no difference, the field officers have their carriages, or their horses and their waterproofs, and, as to the poor soldier, it don’t matter, they can either lie down and die, or go ahead, it is their only alternate. Hundreds of them did give out and lie down, some of them to die and some to contract disease from which they never recovered, and some of them are mere skeletons, still lingering on the shores of the republic they tried to save.
Our division, under General Rosseau, marched to McMinville and encamped in an open field so covered with water that it was impossible to find dry ground on which to pitch our tents, and we were compelled to get hay, straw, cornstalks or brush and pile in the water, and sleep on them, some men taking rails and making a floor of them, and it is fair to presume that the other commands fared but little, if any, better.
Leaves From My Journal No. 16
We lay at Minville for five days, General Bragg’s troops being scattered over the country south of us. He attempted to stop our march by making a stand against McCook at Tullahoma on our right, but McCook compelled him to retreat, and being unable to carry away his supplies, the roads being almost impassable, he ordered them destroyed to prevent their falling into our hands, and we found in and about Tullahoma thousands of bushels of corn meal, beans and peas, the ground being covered in many places a foot deep where they had been thrown in the mud and ran over by man and animals. Forward again is the order, and we moved to Cowan Station on the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad. Bragg just in our front, growling like a lion, but still retreating. Here we remained in camp for two weeks, having quite a gay time, there being plenty of peaches, apples and huckleberries in the neighborhood. The Yankees were not slow in appropriating them that were just commencing to ripen. The Confederates could not use them and had not destroyed them.
Again we are on the move, crossing a spur of the mountains and striking the railroad again at Anderson station. Here we encamped in a beautiful beach grove, with plenty of supplies and surrounded by full and plenty. This station is named after a man who lives in a fine mansion near the station, and owns twenty thousand acres of rich land, a large part of which is covered with a heavy crop of corn, just ready for us to boil and eat. So here we laid out our camp in regular order, fixed up our hospital and remained three weeks, living on green corn, Army bacon, hard tack, etc., having tea and coffee with sutler’s supplies; that is, the officers had sutler’s supplies, the soldiers having only Army rations. But right here let my say that the Army regulations do not issue free supplies to commissioned officers, they being compelled to pay for all they receive, unless they have agreed in appropriating without charge from some other source. So they are compelled many times to procure their supplies from the sutler or storekeeper that follows the army.
While laying in this camp our men indulged in different kinds of sports and games, and some of them frequently got into disputes and quarrels. Two soldiers belonging to one of our companies were playing cards, when they got into a dispute over their game, get to fighting, and one got the thumb of his comrade in his mouth, bit it badly, and it soon inflamed and in spite of all that our surgeons could do it poisoned his whole system, and in four days he died. When informed that he must die he sent for his comrade land offered to forgive him, and wished him to promise him that he would never gamble any more. This the young man refused to do, and went away sullen and angry. Soon after his comrade died.
Another instance: A number of our officers, principally lieutenants, were in the habit of leaving camp, going to the little towns and public houses and indulging in apple jack and like stimulants. In coming into camp one morning after a night of debauchery, one of them fell and injured his ankle so badly he had to be carried to our field hospital.
Two days after, we were ordered to march. The writer was ordered by the Colonel to remain behind and see that every one left camp in proper order. Rode back to our hospital, and as our ambulance drove up to take in the sick and wounded this lame lieutenant came out on crutches, and when he saw me he said, “Well, Major, is not this too bad?” “What is too bad, sir?” “That we are about to go into battle and I have to be hauled in an ambulance.” “Lieutenant, it is a great pity it was not your neck instead of your ankle.” I replied, “An officer who has no more control of himself than to indulge in debauchery the way you do, is entirely unfit to control or command Union soldiers.”
Leaves From My Journal No. 17
Remaining about one hour at our old camp to see that our baggage and supplies were all on the train and our sick and wounded all cared for, I rode up to the railroad and seeing that all were leaving in good order I returned, and riding through our old camp found it literally alive with human beings running here and there – old grey headed men and women, some few young women, and numbers of boys, girls and small children, white, black and every shade between, one conglomerated mass of non-combatant citizens, all vying with each other endeavoring to excel one another in obtaining the best and most valuable article of old clothing, or provisions, camp stools or chairs, boxes, or other useful things which are left at camps by soldiers when they are compelled to carry many rounds of ammunition.
So, spending a few moments with this menagerie of humanity, commonly called camp followers, I cantered away to overtake my regiment, who, instead of taking the wagon road along the railroad around the mountain, had taken a southeast course, and, under a native guide, took a path that led directly over the mountain towards Bridgeport, where the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad crosses the Tennessee River. Overtaking them as they were struggling up the mountain, I found many of our men exhausted, and some of them who had been living too high on green corn and fresh meat lying down. Their knapsacks filled with clothing and other essentials, haversacks with rations, canteens with water, cartridge box with ammunition and gun that weighted 16 pounds, they found it impossible to keep up with the more rugged of their comrades, and were obliged to rest, having overdone themselves in the attempt. Some of them have never recovered from the effects of that day’s march and are now pensioners, dating their disability from that day, and soldiers now in this state have called on the writer for certificates of these facts.
All day long we struggled over the mountain, and in the evening encamped on the southern side. Soon after encamping it was discovered that a large number of hogs were in the neighborhood. Notwithstanding we had strict orders not to pillage, and to have every soldier arrested who was found with any fresh meat or other purloined article, yet the soldier’s natural antipathy to live hogs running around camp assumed itself, and pretty soon a sharp but quickly suppressed squeal or last groan of a hog could be heard in different directions; and it being my misfortune to be on picket duty I was required to look after the matter. So hearing some onerous sounds near by in the timber, and it being pretty dark, I passed along quietly and came upon a squad of men skinning a hog. They saw who it was, and one said, “It is the Major.” So they quickly sprang into the bushes, but seeing that they had the pork dressed, and remembering the orders I had received in the morning to see that all our rations were taken care of, I immediately ordered them to come back, take some pork into camp and save it for rations. This they quickly did. I walked on, and the next morning the major got some nice pork steaks presented for his breakfast.
With the permission of the reader I will now retreat a month in my narrative and relate an incident that occurred at one of our camps in Tennessee, which is literally true, happening under my own observation, and the lending spirit in the affair was C.D. Randall, who lived near Gibbon the past summer, but is now in California. Our division commander at the time was Lovel H. Rosseau, a noble Kentuckian who had given strict orders that no soldier be allowed to pillage, and that he would hold the officers responsible for their men. Acting under this order Colonel Scribner, commanding our brigade, made a detail of two men from each regiment and formed a headquarter guard. These men he sent out in different directions around camp to arrest any soldier or soldiers found carrying supplies into camp.
Leaves From My Journal No. 18
One of these men came upon a party headed by this C.D. Randall, having a pole on their shoulders on which was hung a very nice veal. They were all arrested and taken to the brigadier colonel’s headquarters, and his Provo-Marshal appropriated their meat and sent them to General Rosseau’s
Headquarters to do police duty for fours days as a punishment. The boys served out their tour days and returned to their company. Only three or four days passed until the same squad of boys with Randall at their head, was again arrested for the same offense, marched directly to brigade headquarters carrying their meat on a pole, and now the angry Provo-Marshal not only appropriates all their meat, but sends them up again for eight days. They served out their sentence and returned to camp.
Soon after their return quite a commotion was raised in our regiment, which was encamped some distance from our colonel’s headquarters. He discovered this, and coming into the tent said, “Major, something is wrong in camp; go quickly and see what it is.” I immediately went, and at first thought our soldiers had all got the hydrophobia, for nearly every soldier was barking, trying to mimic every dog from the noble St. Bernard to verrist whiffets and so eager were they that it was some moments before I could command attention. I then found two of those brigade guards trying to arrest some of our men for barking at them; and when they attempted to arrest one 3 dozen more would bark at their backs, and when they turned around the same thing would happen in their rear. So they were completely beat, and unable to arrest them. I ordered our men to be quiet, enquired into the matter, then told the guards to arrest any that had barked at them. They said they were unable to do it, so many had barked at them. I then told them to go to Colonel Scribner, and tell him he would have to send more forces if he wished to arrest the 2nd Ohio. They went away. I then ascertained that Randall & Co., after their first punishment, had went out and killed a large fat dog and carried it so as to be seen by the guard. And the last meat appropriated by our brigade colonel and his staff was dog meat. So long as we were in the field Colonel Scribner and his staff heard barking.
Next morning we broke camp and moved to Bridgeport. Remained here four days resting and refitting for a march over Lookout Mountain, and on the 7th of September broke up our camp at Bridgeport, crossed the Tennessee River and camped at the foot of Lookout Mountain, on the north side, 23 miles west of Chattanooga. On the morning of the 8th commenced climbing the mountain. A wagon road passes over the mountain at this place, but to a prairie man this road would seem an impossibility, many places being so steep that it was impossible for our soldiers to walk up them, encumbered as they were with their guns, knapsacks, ammunition, haversacks with rations, and canteens with water; so they were compelled to tack against the mountain in the same manner as the sailor does against the wind, going diagonally for a short distance to the right, and in the same manner to the left, in order to gain the top. Thus we spent three days, going up, over and down the mountain land then encamped in McLemores on the south side. Here we encamped for one week, and then came the order to issue rations for three days with sixty rounds of ammunition to every man, and be ready to start at a moment’s notice for Chattanooga.
In a short time the order came, and Thomas’ whole corps commenced a forced march to intercept Bragg before he could reach Chattanooga. McCook’s corps, which was then on our right, was also ordered to follow us immediately. So here we go, some 60,000 Union Yanks marching day and night with the exception of a short rest at the end of every six hours, arriving at Chickamauga Creek right in Bragg’s front on the third day about noon September 19th, 1863. And now we prepare for one of the greatest battles of the the rebellion. Bragg was supposed to have about 95,000 men, Rosecrans about 70,000 fit for duty; the Rebels having cut us off from water. As soon as we were halted our men reclined in every possible position to rest. The writer having been almost constantly on duty for three days land nights, and not having any provisions left except a few nubbins of green corn picked on the march, I dismounted, made a fire and put my corn to roast. My corn had commenced cooking when General Baird, then in command of our division, rode up and commanded me to take command of his line of skirmishers, which was over one mile long and composed of one company out of every regiment in his division.
No. 19 is not
Leaves From My Journal No. 20
SUNDAY, September 20, 1863
We lay in line of battle all night and were called up and moved to the front at daylight this morning. Soon after our line was formed, artillery firing was heard on our right, which seemed to grow in intensity for perhaps one-half hour when the infantry joined in, and one continued roar of fire-arms was heard until the earth seemed to tremble with the sound, when suddenly the fire seemed to slacken. The enemy making a desperate attack on McCook were repulsed, and withdrawing from McCook, commenced to concentrate on Thomas in the centre. Instantly all was commotion in our corps. Our brigades and regiments were quickly arranged and placed in a proper position to meet the oncoming conflict. The 33rd Ohio, under Colonel More, was ordered forward a short distance onto a small rise of ground. I received an order to support the 33rd, which I immediately did by a right flank movement, throwing my regiment immediately in More’s rear, and about 200 yards distant.
I ordered my men to lie down, which they instantly did. Myself and adjutant were the only field officers on horseback with the regiment, the adjutant being a short distance to my right. A shell cut the top off of a pine tree, which fell between our horses and just in the rear of my men. Instantly, another shell burst immediately in front of our horses and over my men, but fortunately doing us no harm. The Rebels quickly made a charge on the 33rd accompanied with the ever-fearful Rebel yell and a terrible discharge of shot land shell, which forced Colonel More to fall back.
I kept my men down until the 33rd had passed over them, then ordered them to up and fire. This they did with a will, and the enemy being only a short distance in front received such a shower of balls that they halted, and quickly receiving another discharge they fell back. The 33rd did not leave us but formed immediately in our rear. Now the heavy firing grew thicker and heavier on our left and we knew that our whole line was attacked and the enemy concentrating their forces on Crittenden on the left. In a few moments McCook is again into the fight with a terrible roar and soon the sound sweeps back towards Chattanooga. McCook is falling back, but hark! The sound stands still, then wavers, then moves south, telling us in the centre, that McCook has in turn, forced the enemy to retreat until he has regained his former line. A terrific yell comes from his front, the enemy is reinforced with ten thousand fresh troops, under General Longstreet, direct from the Army of Potomac. These troops led by the celebrated Longstreet rush, with one prolonged howl, upon McCook and he is again compelled to retreat out of the fight. The enemy now giving us a brush in the centre, again attack Crittenden on our left, and he is compelled to give way.
At this moment I received an order from General Thomas to fortify as well as we could and hold the point at all hazards. As we were not then under fire, we procured some axes, cut down trees, gathered some old logs and stones, and some had quite respectable breast-works formed and when the enemy again charged upon us we were entirely unmovable. But they forced back our regular brigade on our left, capturing their artillery and compelling them to fall back, their right hanging on my left and swinging back until they were at right angles with the 2nd O.V.I. Regiment. Here they halted and fought until the enemy fell back, then the regulars, composed of four battalions under General King, built breast-works and held their position. Both wings of our Army being gone, McCook on our right, and Crittenden on our left in full retreat for Chattanooga, the whole Rebel force centered on Thomas. The situation became desperate in the extreme, and Thomas, seeing the day lost, set his big head and noble brain to work to save what he could from the wreck, knowing full well if the centre should be forced back in confusion, the whole Army would be caught in a net at Chattanooga or forced into the Tennessee River. Hence his order to hold our position in the centre, while he, like a lion at bay, slowly fell back on the right and left, and by the time the centre was compelled to give way, had fortified a new position at Rochester, eight miles south of Chattanooga, and saved the entire annihilation of Rosecrans Army. Thomas’ big head did it, and his corps helped him to carry it out.
Seven times during this terrible Sunday did the enemy, in tremendous force, charge upon or line and works, and every time we were repulsed covering our whole front with dead and wounded and making sad havoc in our own ranks. Here a shell falls close behind our works, right among our men, bursts and sends a dozen men, brave and true, into the air, and now the sharp hiss of a Minnie ball knocks a man out here, and there another, and still another, our ammunition is giving out and not reinforcements; and now dear reader imagine for a moment, if you can, the feelings and thoughts of the officer in command. Seeing his best men falling on every hand, and the cry coming from right and left, “Colonel, we are out of ammunition,” and “we are dying for want of water.” “Each captain sent two men to the rear for water.” They go, and are all captured. No water to be had. “Lieutenant Crebbs, go quickly to the rear and see if you can procure reinforcement or ammunition.” He goes and never returns.
And now smarting under three wounds I take my pocketknife and running along in the rear of my men cut the cartridge-boxes from the waists of my dead soldiers, and throw them in among my men. Soon we hear a tremendous Rebel yell on our right, and looking in that directions see the Rebels limbering up a battery on an eminence only a short distance off, which completely commands our position. Instantly springing on our works and looking to the left, I see the Rebels swarming to our rear. Discovered our position entirely untenable, our last hope fled. Pointing with my sword to the north I called out, every man save himself that can, there is your only chance, we are surrounded. Away they went like sheep before a wolf, and the battle of Chickamauga was ended.
Leaves From My Journal No. 21
Myself, smarting under three wounds, and Adjutant Thomas with several Lieutenants, immediately followed my men. My progress was slow. When we came into the open field a short distance from our works, we were in full view of the Rebel Battery referred to in my last, and it immediately opened on us with grape and canister, which strewed the field with dead and wounded. But providentially neither myself nor my adjutant was hit, and as we approached the timber on the north side of the field we saw an officer on horseback coming toward us. As it was now sunset, everything looked blue with smoke and I mistook him for one of our cavalry officers and thought we were safe. He dashed up to me, drew a revolver, and in a rough voice demanded my sword.
I somewhat surprised, beheld before me an officer of my own rank, but wearing the Rebel gray. I hesitated and he pointing his revolver at me said, “Are you going to do it?” I replied, “I suppose I am,” changing my sword from my right to left hand, turning the guard up, and catching my own revolver with my right hand, intending to shoot him while he was in the act of receiving my sword, but before I could do so eight or ten of his command came up and surrounded us, so I did not draw my revolver but was made a prisoner, with all my command that was near me at the time. We were taken south through the battlefield land for three miles I did not see a body of organized troops. The Rebels were so completely exhausted that they dropped down upon the ground and lay like dead men, scattered promiscuously among the dead and wounded of both armies. We soon came to the field hospital, here was plenty of good, cool water and as soon as we had obtained a drink we, too, tumbled on the ground, so completely worn out that we cared but little whether we lived or died.
The next morning about 300 of us were given in charge of a Lieutenant from North Carolina who, with his company of about 100 men, were to take us back to Atlanta. We had been without provisions all day Sunday during the fight and now we started on foot for Atlanta without a mouthful. We marched until one or two o’clock when most of lay down – could not possibly go farther without rest, so our commander halted us, and after resting for some time, moved on again. Finally we came to a field of sorghum and I requested the Lieutenant to let us get some of the stalks, as we were starving. He said his orders were not to allow us to pillage; but he finally suffered four or five of us to get over the fence and cut two stalks for each man, and this was all we had to eat from Sunday morning till Tuesday night, when we arrived at Ringold, Ga. Here the officers were put in an old building and a guard placed over them, while the soldiers were marched into an open field and a guard placed around them. Here the Lieutenant issued to each one of us one pint of cornmeal and nothing else of any description. We had no vessels to mix or cook it in, in our building. Recollecting that some of my men had small frying-pans which they always carried with the, and seeing one or two have them; the evening before, I got permission from our Lieutenant to go to the field, under guard, and here I mixed my meal with some water and cooked it in the frying pan. This was the feasting we got down among the Southern chivalry. The renowned F.F.V’s of America.
Well, we all lived through the night, and the next evening arrived at Atlanta. During the afternoon quite a shower of rain fell. At night they put us into a lot that was enclosed with a board. A small ravine ran through it, and four or five clay points composed the lot. The rain had caused these to be muddy. And without shelter or bunk of any kind except a few blankets that some of our private soldiers had we were compelled to spend the night in this mud-hole. I remember I thought myself very fortunate in obtaining a seat on the root of an old stump, which was all the bed I had for that night. The next day we were marched into the city and exhibited as Abe Lincoln’s hirelings. We were badly snubbed and jeered at by the so-called Southern ladies, some of whom were not slow to show their sympathy in spiteful words and actions, which gave us Northern mudsills a pretty strong dose of Southern high life.
We were then marched out of the city to a stockade, which, I think, had been used as a jail to punish other Negroes in. At the gate was stationed some soldiers; we were marched to them in two ranks – the officers in front and our private soldiers in the rear. We were halted at the gate, the officers were ordered to open ranks and our soldiers were marched between our ranks to the gate, the officers were ordered to open ranks and our soldiers were marched between our ranks to the gate where they were searched by these Rebel soldiers and all their blankets, knapsacks, haversacks, penknives or money were taken from them. Some of our men thinking the officers would not be searched, handed some of their property over to us. In this way I carried two pairs of army blankets into the stockade and returned them to my men, for the Rebels did not take anything form our officers.
Leaves From My Journal No. 22
Near the gate at this stockade was a raised platform, which had probably been used by the auctioneer when selling slaves. On this, at the time we were turned in, stood quite a number of women, mostly young, and from their appearance, and style of dress, they were of the very elite of Atlanta. Those ladies seemed to enjoy the sight of the prisoners exceedingly and indulged in slang phrases and sarcasm, laughing heartily at each other’s comments. This rather stirred up my composition until it boiled over, and I said, “Ladies, it is your turn to laugh now, but in less then one year from this time I expect to see you here begging the Union authorities to release your own husbands, brothers and lovers.” At this they hooted, hissed and laughed me to scorn. But sure enough, not quite one year from that date I was back in Atlanta, an exchanged prisoner, and saw our Provo-Marshal’s office crowded with those ladies asking for favors for their fathers, husbands, brothers and lovers, confined in this same stockade.
Well, we remained in the stockade two days, then were placed in stock and box cars on the railroad, and started for Richmond, Virginia, each car being crowded as full as we could possibly stand. Before packing us, however, they issued to us some crackers made of some flour and mixed with beans and peas and were of a blue mud color and very hard so that it was almost impossible for men with poor teeth to chew them. They also issued us some bacon, and with this outfit we started for Libby Prison. Not having room to sit down, our only chance to rest was for some to lie down and others to sit on them and exchange as we tired out, and about once every twenty-four hours one hundred guards would stop the train in some open country where there was plenty of water and suffer us to get our of the cars and refresh ourselves as best we could for about one hour.
At one place where we stopped there was a pump with plenty of water at the road, a fine house near by, and a field of corn near the pump; also a large number of persimmon trees loaded with ripe fruit. Instantly the Blue Coats were in the cornfield and up the persimmon trees. A large, fine looking man with a double barreled shot-gun came out declaring he would shoot every man that did not immediately leave his property. Some of the soldiers that were close to him came out of the field without corn; but his corn was climbing over the fence on every hand and his fruit was disappearing by the wagon load – but not in wagons. Our guards did not seem to care what he did or what we did, so we did not run away. They did not forbid us taking what we could, neither did they forbid him shooting, but he did not shoot. I suppose he thought it would not pay him to shoot as his ammunition would run out before he could kill all the game, and we cared but little what he did. In this manner we arrived at Augusta, Ga., on the seventh day after the battle or the 27th day of Sept. Here they unloaded us and marched us into the town and out the principal street to a large fine block of building in front of which stood quite a number of officers.
We were marched by, then counter-marched and passed them again then halted and the chief officer, which I suppose was the Governor of Georgia, ordered the Lieutenant who had control of the prisoners not to suffer any one to abuse to put us on the cars and take us to Richmond and turn us over to the authorities. While we were standing there an officer came up to me and seeing my watch-chain, which was made of hair and old thread, asked what I would take for it. I said $10 in your money; he immediately handed me $10 and took the chain. I returned him the money and asked him if he would step into the bakery close by and get me $10 worth of bread, which he did, returning me ten small loaves. I took one and gave the rest to my men.
We were packed into boxcars again and on to Richmond where we arrived the evening of September 29th, 1863. We were taken from the cars near the city and marched into Libby Prison. We arrived at the prison about sunset and were placed in a room adjoining the office of the superintendent, major Dick Turner, prison inspector; Latoosh, Adjunct’ Ross, secretary. The ammunition or money was contraband, we would be compelled to give them up. Going back a little, let me say when we arrived at the door of Libby this big ruffian Adjutant Latoosh was there and suffered none but officers to enter, the private soldiers were sent to other buildings across the street known as Scott’s buildings and Castle Thunder.
Leaves From My Journal No. 23
Before we were put on the cars at Atlanta, a regular role was taken of all the officers and when they marched us they called us into ranks in regular order our ranking officer in command. So when they went to searching us at Libby, they called us by that roll. Two Colonels came first on the roll, these were stripped and searched and all their money was taken from them. The third on the list was the writer. I had in my pocket $80, fearing the Rebs would appropriate it, I had divided it leaving $10 in my pocket-book, putting $10 in my vest pocket and $60 in my sock inside of my boot. The officer of the prison finding that it took so much time to search these two Colonels, made a proposition to the balance of saying, “Gentlemen, if you will come up one at a time and pay over to the secretary what money you have in your possession, I will stop searching you, and the secretary will take your name and rank, and credit you with the amount you give him and you shall have it back whenever you need it while prisoners of war, at the rate of seven of our dollars for one of yours; and if there is any back when you are exchanged we will pay you back in your own money.” The first prisoner to comply with this offer was the writer. I immediately gave the clerk the ten dollars I had in my vest pocket. Looking up, he asked is this all you have? I replied not quite, and gave him the ten I had in my pocketbook. He gave me a credit of $20, and I was dismissed with $60 in my boot. It took us about three hours to get thro’ with this clerk, and then under the direction of Dick Turner, prison inspector, and Adjutant Latoosh we were marched to our quarters in the centre room in the third story of the old tobacco warehouse, or forwarding the commission house, on which still hung the sign of LIBBY & SONS.
At this time, however, the building was owned by a man in Baltimore, named Ross, and the man acting secretary here, at present, is his son. This young man, when the war commenced, volunteered for the Union but fearing that their property would be confiscated he deserted and came to Richmond and being a very small man, got the position of secretary of the prison, and he showed us all the favor he dared to, while we were in Libby.
This building stands on the east side of, and close by, the basin of the canal. It is 120 feet long and 100 feet wide, is three stories high on the side next to the canal and two stories high on the first street above, with two partition walls of brick running from the ground up, dividing each floor into three rooms. At the time we were placed there the north basement room was occupied by a quartermaster where we received our rations. The center basement was a dungeon to put refractory prisoners in. The south basement room was occupied by old bunks, old clothing, straw, etc., used, or had been used, by the hospital which was kept in the south room of the second story, immediately over this basement.
The middle room of this story was used as a cook room. The north room on this floor was occupied by Major Tom Turner as his office. The room above this office was occupied by Colonel A.D. Strait, of Indiana. Colonel Strait had been sent at the head of three mounted infantry regiments on a raid down into Georgia, was surrounded by cavalry near Rome, Georgia, and captured with his whole command and the Rebs had placed him and his men in this room, crowding him in and not suffering them to leave it, making them cook, eat and sleep, all in the one room, for they were more than ordinarily incensed at Strait on account of the damage he had done them while on the raid.
The south room on this floor, or immediately over the hospital, was occupied by the Army of the Potomac, or prisoners there from. While we, as prisoners from the Army of the Cumberland, occupied the middle room. The Army of the Potomac and the Cumberland were allowed to go down to the second floor middle room to cook and here we remained for seven months and now we hear such talk as no two families being able to live in the same house without trouble, and no little village living together without quarreling and fighting. Will it trouble your imagination to ascertain how or by what principles or process fifteen hundred commissioned officers belonging to the Union Army coming from almost every State in the Union, and representing almost every Nationality, could live together in those rooms for seven long dreary months, exposed to privation and want, and yet not fight with each other during the whole time?
Well, our first rations were issued, consisting of some crackers made of mixed flour and beans or peas, some salt, and some beef that had been fresh but not the flies had left their larvae on it, and it was such as would not be tolerated here, but there it seemed pretty good.
Leaves From My Journal No. 24
For a few weeks our provisions were much the same, but finally the beef that was issued had been packed in barrels, soured and smelled so bad that when it was wheeled into our cook room it drove the cooks out and none but those who were starving could use any of it. Consequently the authorities had to take it away, after which no meat of any kind was issued.
We each selected a spot on the floor of our upper room and called it our bunk, and here we deposited what little outfit we could get in the way of cooking utensils or tableware. We were so poorly provided that our outfit would not have averaged more than a tin cup, a tin plate and a knife and fork to each man. The large windows in the sides of the room had once been fitted with wooden shutters but the glass had been broken out and the shutters torn off and iron bars placed in the frame to prevent us from getting out. The weather was o cold, and one-half of the officers without blankets or bedding of any kind, that those who had blankets were compelled to use a part of them to close the windows and then we were obliged to huddle up together in piles like hogs to prevent freezing, at night; and having so little and such poor provisions to live on, when the weather was cold we went shivering all day.
After having been there about two months the Rebel authorities granted us the privilege of receiving boxes of provisions from our homes, and then all those who lived (or whose family lived) north of Mason and Dixon line, were soon supplied with the very best; but those officers who lived in Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri or Virginia, were not permitted to receive any, so we of the North had to divide with them, but we fared pretty well until the prison authorities found some gold coins hidden in some rolls of butter in one of the boxes which their soldiers (or guards, they never were soldiers) had stolen.
After this they would bring our boxes to the door of the prison, call out the name that was on the box, and when the officer came they would open the box, take each package out and fun a sharp iron rod through it several times and if you had a blanket spread outside of the door, they would throw the packages into it, if not, they would cast them on the pavement at the door and by the time they had got through the box, the provisions would be very near worthless, the man issuing it when probing for money, would run his probe into a package of butter three or four times, then into a package of smoking tobacco, then into canned fruit, or papers of tea, sugar, or coffee, and if there was a ham or dried beef it too, had to be probed every three or four inches to find hidden treasures.
Thus I have seen boxes of which cost $50 or $60 in Ohio so completely ruined that if they had been sold for $5, but among starving soldiers at Libby, they had to be used, and the heartless rascals had not only ruined our provisions but had our blankets stained with a little of everything; wet up with maple molasses, syrup from canned fruit, greased with bacon and butter, so it was almost impossible to use them for bedding anymore. Finally they refused to issue our boxes until they had a large warehouse full of them, and their guards took them and used them. All the rations that was issued to us was a piece of corn cake about eight inches long, two inches thick and four inches wide, made of meal with corn silk and husks in it. It was just about the size of a common brick and was almost the texture after becoming three or four days old. The only way I could eat them was to whittle them off into coffee if I had it, or into hot water as a substitute and allowing them to stand until they softened.
While the Rebs were issuing our boxes, we would throw these cakes out into the street, and the little children and old decrepit people both white and black, would come and gather them up in baskets or sacks and carry them away.
One day major Turner discovered the people gathering them up, sent a squad of men to take their baskets and sacks from them, and catching some of the small boys and girls, four men would take a blanket, each taking hold of a corner, and then placing a child upon a blanket, would toss it eight or ten feet into the air, and catch it as it fell, as a punishment for picking up this bread. Some of the children were so frightened that they could not walk when taken off the blanket.
Turner then ordered the guards to shoot any of the prisoners who came to the windows to throw out bread, and then sent us several barrels into our rooms and told us to put what bread we did not use in them. This we did and knowing it to be very hard, when we washed our dished we put the dishwater in the barrel to soak the bread. This made them mad, but as no one knew who did it, we were not punished.
Thus we fared and lived the life of Yankee prisoners, or rather dragged out our existence – there was but little life in it. For pastime some of us got to whittling bones, other gamed, and others turned to music. More life in Libby next week.
Leaves From My Journal No. 25
There were officers in this prison from almost every branch of industry and art in the United States, and a great many who could procure the tools and supplies, went to work, some making trinkets out of bone, some out of wood, some drawing on paper with pen or pencil, some studying theology, law, and other branches of literature and science. Some went to playing at games of cards, chess, checkers and dominos. Others set up a bank and gambled for money, others organized a literary club and debating society, others again organized a Sunday School and prayer meeting, and having 2 or 3 local preachers in our rooms, we had preaching every Sabbath and prayer meeting in the evening.
A company of young officers organized a minstrel company called the Libby minstrels, procured some violins and horns, fixed up a stage in the cook room and gave us concerts, an excellent antidote for the overpowering sickness occasioned by dull time, with which nearly every officer in the prison was affected. At the head of this minstrel party was the Adjutant Thomas of the 2nd O. V. I., as a noble strong fellow from Mt. Sterling, Kentucky.
Thus with all these facilities for enjoyment we merely endured prison life until the winter of 63-4 was pretty well spent when Colonel Stone of the 77th Pennsylvania Infantry, conceived the idea of tunneling out. He imparted his plans to several other officers and formed a company for that purpose. But previous to this time Colonel A.D. Strait of Indiana, had made several attempts to escape. He and his adjutant made an agreement at one time with the guard to let them escape, giving them, I believe, about $100. They were to pass the guard at night. They did this all right but another guard had been placed some distance off and took them in again. Then they were put in the dungeon and kept for a time as punishment.
Soon after they tried it again, this time giving the guard a gold watch, they were allowed to pass and intercepted by another prepared guard the same as before. As I stated in a former leaf, our cook room was on the second floor in the centre and two fireplaces were built in the brick partition on the south side of the room. The fireplaces were boarded up and our cook stoves placed near them. Colonel Stone and his men took down the boards in front of the fireplace near the east end of the room, dug down through the hearth and brick wall and come into the basement at the south immediately under the hospital. Here Stone supposed he could dig under the foundation wall and into the sewer that led from the building into the canal. They got through the wall into the sewer and Colonel Stone attempted to pass through it but when near the canal, found the water filled the sewer and he was compelled to back out. They then went to the south-east corner of the room and taking up the flag-stone on the floor commenced tunneling under the wall, and succeeded in getting through under the wall and under the vacant lot between the Libby building and some tobacco warehouses on the south. This lot was bounded on the south by a high board fence and on the south side of the fence was a stable.
Stone wanted to tunnel under the fence into the stable, and now the question was, the exact distance between the wall of Libby and the fence. Two captains of my regiment belonged to this tunneling company, Captain William Randall and Captain John Galagher. Both these captains had been receiving boxes of provisions from home, and Captain Galagher requested Major Tuner the prison commander to issue him a box of provisions, which he pretended he knew had come and was stored over in those tobacco warerooms. Turner send his orderly over and searched but did not find the box. Galagher then informed Turner that it must be there and if he would suffer him to go and look for it, he would divide the contents with him, and it was very valuable. Turner called a guard and sent Galagher to look for his box. When he came to the corner of Libby he stepped the distance over to the board fence, went into the building and looked awhile for the box – he knew it was not there, and returned with the information Colonel Stone so much needed.
So the digging went on the hole came out inside the stable. The men who dug the hole used a strap hinge, which had formerly been on the window shutter. It had been made by a blacksmith and was about 15 inches long, made wide at one end and tapering to the other. The big end had a hole in it to hang on a hook. The small end was cut off leaving it an inch and a half wide. This they filed sharp and wrapped some rags around the big end to make a handle, which would not hurt their hands. The tunnel was dug with this instrument. They got some twine from our boxes which we had received and made ropes; to these ropes they attached haversacks, so that they could fill the haversack with dirt in the tunnel and a man at the end of the tunnel could draw a sack full of dirt out at the time an empty sack in, and in this way the earth was removed and placed under the straw and old clothes in the basement. They were about fifteen days, or rather nights digging the tunnel (but little was dug in the daytime). There was a guard around the prison day and night. This guard line was about ten or twelve feet from the building. A part of the line passed over the tunnel. One night Captain Randall, who was digging in the tunnel, struck his digging iron against a stone, making a little noise. One of the guards called to his comrade and said, “What was that noise, it was right here,” walking up and standing over where Randall was; his comrade said, “I did not hear anything.” Well, I did and it sounded like something scratching.” “O, you heard the rats, see their holes all about here.”
The newspapers for Aug. 3rd, Aug. 10th, Aug. 17th, 1883 are missing.
Leaves From My Journal No. 29
About this time we were reinforced by quite a number of officers, taken from Sherman in his advance to Atlanta by Hoods forces as they fell back to Atlanta. Our Commander, Cobb, came to the conclusion that we would run short of water and ordered our superintendent to dig a big well about the center of our stockade. This gave us an opportunity to put the earth, which we took out of our tunnels on that which they threw out of the well and the authorities did not discover it. We also hid some of it under the floral building. This building stood on brick pillars some eighteen or twenty inches high, and as some of our officers had dug them holes under it to sleep in and threw the earth in piles, a good opportunity was offered to hide the earth from the tunnels. Now comes a Rebel officer and informs us that a detail of fifty of the officers must be made to go to Charleston, South Carolina. Commencing at the highest in rank, they took all our Brigadier-Generals, Colonels, Lieutenant Colonels, and majors, except three Majors, myself being the highest in rank left in the stockade. These officers were taken to Charleston and placed under General Foster’s fire, who was shelling the city, from our batteries on Morris Island.
No sooner did our authorities at Washington ascertain the fact that they immediately sent fifty Rebel officers and placed them on open boats near our batteries, so as to receive the fire from the Rebel batteries at Charleston. This compelled both parties to cease firing, and the Rebels immediately offered to exchange. This was accepted by the Union and our fifty officers were sent home. Among them was the celebrated temperance advocate from Maine, Brigadier-General Neal Dow. Asking your pardon for this digression I will now return to the stockade at Macon. The detail of so many officers broke up our tunneling companies so we had to reorganize and choose new leaders. This was soon accomplished, and the work proceeded, until my tunnel was out past the fence, and large enough for a man to stand up in and we were ready to make our exit but the night was very clear and the moon shone so bright, and the Rebs had piled pine knots at intervals all around the enclosure and their bloodhounds were chained in sight, so we concluded to wait until we had a dark night. The company on the north had their tunnel pretty near finished and was large enough for a man to walk upright in. The company on the east were pretty well along with their tunnel.
The very next day our prison inspector brought a body of soldiers or guards into the stockade, drove us all down to the west end near the spring, placed the guard so as to keep us there, took a ramrod from one of the guns, went into the agricultural shed, pulled away the bunks and commenced probing with the ramrod giving us the first intimation that he knew anything about our digging; by the fifth or sixth time he probed he struck a board, some men with shovels threw away the earth, and taking up some boards, discovered the mouth of our tunnel and our hopes of escape by that means had become entirely too thin.
He immediately passed north, went right to the place and discovered the tunnel there, then east and opened that one. This convinced us that we had been betrayed and suspicion rested on a Tennessee officer who previously had been quite intimate with our superintendent or prison inspector. Had we been positive that he was the man, he would have hung to a limb of one of the pine trees that night in such a way that he would not have needed anymore corn rations. We questioned him so close as to frighten him and the next day he was taken by the prison inspector and not returned. About his time a young Lieutenant by the name of Grierson, belonging to a New York regiment, went to the spring at dusk in evening and was shot by the guard, dying in a few minutes. The guard averring that he came to the dead line, but officers who were near him said that he fell immediately when shot and he lay twelve feet from the dead line.
The next morning the inspector came into the stockade, and the same guard that shot Grierson being on guard at the same place, the officer inquired of him his reason for shooting. He said Grierson attempted to get over the dead line, but our officers pointed to the place where Grierson fell, showed the blood and said he was standing there when he was shot. The guard said they lied as Captain Terry, from West Virginia, strutted up towards him cursing him and calling him a cowardly poltroon, telling him that he dare not shoot a man in daylight. Pulling open his coat and slapping on his breast dared him to shoot, telling him he could beat him off his post with brick bats picking up some menacing him, but the cowardly scamp did not shoot.
We remained in this prison until the middle of July, being reinforced every few days by prisoners taken from Sherman in his advance on Atlanta. These were called fresh fish and every time any were put in, those old prisoners near the gate would sing out, fresh fish, others would repeat it until the cry of fresh fish, would be heard throughout the prison, and all would rush to the entrance to see the newcomers and if they had clean or nice uniforms on, the cry of store clothes would take the place of fresh fish.
At times they were brought in without hat, coat or shoes. They would be greeted with, oh you have been entertained by the southern chivalry have you poor fellows, what a glorious time you must have had among those boasting southerners, who want to run a republican government, how would you like to be subjects as long as we have. O, would you not love our masters. Then we would spend several hours asking and answering questions, so as to get all the news possible.
The newspapers for Aug. 31st and
Sept. 7th, 1883 are missing.
Leaves From My Journal No. 32
The Rebel officer in charge was there with an order to send on for exchange all the officers captured from Sherman in his advance on Atlanta. As I did not come under that order, but was captured at Chickamauga, I did not believe he meant me. He inquired if I was Major Beatty of 2nd O.V.I., I replied yes, then said he, I want you to sign this parole in which you promise not to try to escape while you are being conveyed to Atlanta, Georgia to be exchanged. I said my dear sir, I will most gladly do so and I think nothing but a wooden man would have refused.
Well, 153 officers were selected out of some 1,500 that were confined in Charleston, put upon boxcars and taken to Macon, Georgia and that night put into our old stockade from which we had been taken two months previous. The next morning the Rebs discovered that quite a number of us did not belong to Sherman’s Army but had been captured at Chickamauga under Rosecrans. The Major who acted as exchange officer, came upon the platform near the gate and informed us that he had made a mistake and there was but 83 of us out of the 153 who could be taken on for exchange, as we did not come under his order, and the anticipations of us who belonged to Rosecrans Army suddenly fell to 30 degrees below zero. And now said he, I have made out a new roll, and each officer as he is called will take whatever traps he may have and pass out at the gate, a sentinel standing as gatekeeper.
I had picked up my old quilt and was looking for the best quarters I could find expecting to be left, when the officer called out William T. Beatty, major, 2nd O.V.I. captured Sept. 21st. My heart at one bound came back to blood heat, and it seemed to me that all nature looked much fairer than it did a few minutes before, so I gathered the old quilt and started for the gate and now about a dozen officers who had been captured with me who belonged to the regular army, came around me to bid me good bye and these brave fellows who did not fear to rush up to the cannons mouth in battle cried like children when they found I was going and they were to be left, but about a dozen of those who were to be left gathered up their duds and walked out as we whose names were called passed out and the sentinel at the gate not knowing what our names were let us all pass and as we entered the cars as we passed out, the extra number was not discovered.
We rode about 25 miles toward Atlanta and came to the end of the road, for Sherman’s Blue Coats had destroyed the road by taking up the rails, piling the ties in heaps setting them on fire and throwing the rails across the fire until they became hot in the center then taking them and bending them around trees or telegraph poles, so we had to disembark and take it on foot. This far we had been under guard of about 20 men, but when we left the train the Rebel Major said, gentlemen thus far I have brought a guard but now I am going to send them back and go on with you myself and if you wish to kill me I suppose you will have to do it, so laughing and talking with us marched with us on foot to Jonesborough. Here some Confederate soldiers were encamped under General Ledbetter but the Major took us to a church and schoolhouse and told us to take possession of them and make ourselves as comfortable as we could, saying that it was about a mile to Ledbetter headquarters and he would go and stay with him and be back about 7 o’clock in the morning, but that we might start on as soon as we liked as we had 18 miles to travel to a place called Rough and Ready where we would be exchanged.
Soon after he left us quite a number of Rebel soldiers came to see us and after talking with us for an hour or two left us and we saw no more of them, and as soon as it was light in the morning, our officers who came out at Macon without orders, left for the woods, while the rest of us marched along the road. About 9 o’clock our Major overtook us having about 29 men with him all mounted, we opened ranks as he came up and passed through, saying very pleasantly, good morning gentlemen, I see you are all getting along finely, went on and let us. About noon it began to rain and when we arrived at Rough and Ready it was pouring down.
Leaves From My Journal No. 33
There were but two or three houses at Rough and Ready, as our soldiers had destroyed the place, so there was no chance to get out of the rain. A Major Fry, belonging to a Pennsylvania regiment, who had also been speaker of the house of representatives, was with us and like myself was here by mistake, as he did not belong to Sherman’s Army. So he became uneasy for fear the mistake would be discovered and he would have to go back, that he finally deserted us and took to the woods. He several times urged me to go with him, but I refused telling him I considered my case a providential one, and I would see it out.
So when we arrived at the place of exchange, Sherman had sent up a train from Atlanta on the railroad bringing up the Confederate officers and soldiers for exchange, and to carry us back to Atlanta, so we were placed in a line and the Rebel and Union commissioners of exchange came in front of us with their mustering rolls, and commenced calling off the names, when they came to mine they called W.T. Beatty, Major, 2nd O.V.I. captured at Chickamauga Sept. 21st having no year to it, and here I found the key to exchange as the Rebs had neglected to put the year that I was captured to their order for exchange. They supposed I belonged to Sherman’s Army, as some of his officers had been captured the same day of the month, but a year later. The commissioners here discovered this fact and had quite a dispute about my passing the line but finally our Union commissioner said pass on, which so much relieved me that I felt as brisk as a boy, although at that time I was 47 years old, and nothing but a skeleton reduced by bad usage and poor fare, while boarding with the chivalry of the south in their Hotel de Libby &c.
Well, we got upon the train and soon were under way for Atlanta, coming down the track 3 or 4 miles we discovered a red handkerchief stuck up as a flag on a small hill near the road, stopping to ascertain its meaning we took on board 6 of the officers who had left us in the morning and who had now exchanged themselves without giving the Rebs an equivalent. A short distance farther and 3 or 4 more waiting for us and so within 10 miles we had them all on board. We soon arrived at Atlanta and all were ordered to report to Sherman’s headquarters, where he made us quite a speech eulogizing us somewhat because we had sufficient nerve muscle to stand the Rebel provisions and return alive, and surely a month previous we had need of some encouragement, but just then we felt quite independent again. He had also assigned us quarters and ordered the Q.M.S. to furnish all the rations we needed, at this all that had been prisoners cheered lustily with long live Sherman. Among the officers who were first placed under Foster’s fire at Charleston and then exchanged was Colonel Lafavor of the 22nd Michigan Volunteer Infantry.
This man was my roommate at Libby for 7 months and was now acting Provo-Marshal at Atlanta. He soon discovered me and immediately took possession of me called one of his men and ordered him to conduct me to his quarters. Here I was supplied with a suit of new clothes, the Colonel telling that when he saw me come in on the train I reminded him of an old Irish ditch digger up in Michigan and I presume if I now had the same clothing on the Gibbonites would call me a vanducenbugger. Well, my regiment, the 2nd O.V.I., had served out their enlistment which was for three years and had returned to Ohio and were mustered out of service so I was ordered by General George H. Thomas then commanding my old corps, to return to Columbus, Ohio and be mustered out of the service which I did and was mustered out on the 10th day of November 1864.
And now dear reader I propose to give you a rest thinking that you have been bored long enough by my poor scribbling. If you have not got enough of this sort of a thing I have two or three more journals such as Over the Plain in ’52. On the Nevada’s, &c, &c, and after resting a while I might possibly hunt up something that would be interesting. Thanking you for your patience and your comments, for the present I bid you farewell.
Last update: May 03, 2003