The Civil War experiences of George M. Kirkpatrick, Private, were recorded by him in notes, letters and miscellany, which I have compiled and edited, in honor of one of 'the bravest of the brave,' a soldier who was never absent from his post, during his service thru the entire war, from 1862 to 1865.
Comrade Kirkpatrick was in 25 battles, and one hundred skirmishes. He was wounded five times, and one wound was so near the heart as to almost prove fatal. It was 'one of the deadliest shots for the heart ever received by man'.
The account recorded in the notes, is corroborated and authenticated by the letters which are published in this writing. The original letters used are now dim with age, and yellow in texture, being difficult to peruse.
I noted in these letters, the homesick longing of a boy of fifteen to nineteen years of age, and the pride which would not admit it, not ever allow him to own that he was 'tired of soldiering'.
In spite of toil, deprivation, and hardship this boy of fifteen, thought only of continuing the struggle until victory should be won for his country and his flag, When things were at their worst, he wrote a cheerful letter home, giving his loved ones the impression that all was well with him-a message of comfort, seldom acknowledging conditions as they were.
Each letter home ends with "Yours until death," showing the ever shadowing expectancy of death at any moment.
With the understanding sympathy of a mother's heart, I read and appreciated the memoirs, as he had written them, and endeavored in arranging them, to leave them unchanged, insofar as possible, for his memory book.
Although he has explained that he had very little education and 'could not draw a grand pen picture of the war', yet there is in the plain and simple account, a beauty and charm which are original, admirable and interesting.
It has been the great desire of Comrade Kirkpatrick to see his memoirs in print. Last year I prepared the manuscript for publication but it was lost by the editor to whom it was entrusted, so I again took up the task and it is again completed, and my joy is full, being found in your enjoyment of the work, as well as in the Comrade's satisfaction.
Mrs. Ethel Arbour Chase.
The writer of this brief history came from a fighting family. Dating back to 1776, my grandfather’s brother was killed in that war.
My father and mother, Samuel and Elizabeth Kirkpatrick, were the parents of nine sons and six daughters. Six sons, four brothers-in laws, and two grandsons enlisted as soldiers to fight for Old Glory, and the preservation of the Union, one in the First Indiana Cavalry, one in the Seventeenth Indiana, two in the Twenty-fifth Indiana, one in the Forty-second Indiana and another in the Twenty-eighth Indiana regiments.
In August 1861, after five brothers had gone to war, the subject of this sketch, being the youngest and but fifteen years old, was plowing in the field one day, when some of the neighbor boys who had enlisted, came along, where I was at work.
They had their new uniforms and guns, and they laughed at me because I could not go. I was a big overgrown boy, and weighed 168 pounds. That night I ran away with a neighbor boy, to Cincinnati, two hundred miles up the Ohio River.
I enlisted, and when the mustering officer asked me how old I was, I said I was a man and was fifteen years old. They said they would not take me without the consent of my parents, so I went back home, discouraged, and broken in heart, but determined to go.
One day I went to Evansville on horseback after the mail. At the time, Smith Gavitt, then the sheriff of Vanderburg County, was getting up a company for the First Indiana Cavalry. He told me he would give me the pick out of his livery stable, at the corner of Main Street, and the old canal, so I took him at his word, and put my name down, choosing a fine saddle horse, and went out to the old Saltwells, later Cook’s Park, and drilled until the following Saturday night.
Governor Baker was the Colonel of the First Indiana Cavalry, and I told him, also the Captain, and later Major Gavitt that on Sunday morning they would see Uncle Sam, as they knew my father coming over the hill with the old black mare hitched up to the buggy and he would take me back home.
Governor Baker said, "Oh no, I know him, and we'll fix it up all right." But they did not know my father as I knew him. He came of Scottish ancestors that never took no for an answer.
So, I had to come out of hiding and go back home behind the old black mare and I wished all kinds of bad luck to that trip.
On Sunday, two of my sisters were going over to the old Fair Ground, called Camp Vanderburg where the Twenty-fifth Indiana, was then encamped. We had two brothers in Company B, Colonel Rhilander's Regiment. My sister Martha was a fiancée of the Colonel.
I thought she would help me to get into Company B, but after I had put my name down again in Company B, the Colonel found that they already had 110 men-ten too many-and so he was going to put me into another company.
As I was going around the Camp, Charley Ohmsted, later Captain of Company A, Forty-second Indiana, came along asking every young man to put his name down to start a new regiment. He said as the Twenty-fifth was going away soon, we could all stay there. My sisters drove the old black mare home, and after a few days I went home and told my mother to pack up my duds because I was a soldier.
My father said I would be no use on the farm anyway, and to let me go; that I would get enough in two weeks and be glad to come back home, and that he could take me out when he wanted me. Afterwards how I wished my father had asserted himself a little more strongly, and enforced his authority, when things went bad, but at this late date, I am glad I did help to keep the old flag floating over this the greatest and best government on earth.
Some men talk about patriotism! It was all excitement-drums beating, flags flying, shouting, and eating corned-beef and cabbage out of tin plates, drinking coffee out of tin cups, and having lots of fun drilling and wearing the grand blue clothes which some one else paid for, for at the time, there were no thoughts of the hardships of marching through mud and snow, and worst of all, being shot at by strangers that we did not even know, and it was going to be a breakfast spell.
But shooting at Johnny Rebs to see them run, was not going to be such jolly fun! Now the Forty-second Indiana, God bless them and that old state of Indiana! There were others, but that sounded best to me, and I say from experience, that a boy of fifteen is a long way from Tipperary when he thinks he knows as much as his father!
A boy thinks that he knows as much or even more than his father knows, but this is far from true, and I would that every boy should have that pasted in his hat for future reference and perhaps someday he would see his folly.
On the eighth day of October we were mustered in for three years or during the war. 'During' was put in, because we were going "to lick the Johnnies before breakfast;" but let me tell you it was a long breakfast spell, and we often had nothing to eat for days, as when at Chattanooga, Tennessee, we drew no rations for ten days.
We of the Forty-second Indiana drew our equipment-at first, flint-lock muskets that had seen service in 1812 and 1813. We drilled with them until we could get better guns, then we drew about 80 Halls breech-loaders, for Company A.
We moved down near the old Marine Hospital below Pigeon Creek Bridge, and there we got our tents, wagons, horses, etc.-four to each of the twelve wagons-and three two-wheeled ambulances with two horses tandem, one ahead of the other.
Then we were sent down into the enemies' country, down the Ohio River, twelve mile by steamboat; while the wagons and equipment went by land. We arrived after dark, at Henderson, Ky., and we had no lights, so the Quartermaster had to hunt for some candles, and had to buy all that one store had on hand.
We were marched to a big tobacco ware-house and I had to learn the first duty of a soldier, it appeared, which was how to shirk duty. Every man, young and old did this same thing and always will as, long as soldiering is the game to be played.
I crawled under a long table where there was about a foot of tobacco dust and leaves, and was soon lost to the rest of the world and was not bothered with any crawling or creeping thing until morning.
Toward morning a team of mules coming to town, started to run away and they ran across a small bridge in the outskirts of town, tore off some boards from the side of the bridge, and made such a racket that the pickets fired, or tried to. Out of twenty guns only two or three went off.
The regiment turned out with great excitement at the long Roll as it is called, with drums. After the excitement, the only thing of any importance was the fact that the nephew of our old sutler Henry Gumberts, in running, fell into the cesspool, where the slops and so forth had been dumped, and we had to turn the hose on him before he could dress.
So old Abe's nephew, 4t Jew was the first man to fall and a mule was the cause, and from that beginning, I think the mule was one of the most prominent factors in putting down the great war. There are two kinds of mules-one kind that hauled the wagons, and ammunition and grub and had long ears, and the other kind that carried a musket and a load of seventy-five pounds on his back. The one was goaded on with a black-snake whip, the other with a sword, and I never found out which was ahead when the war was over.
I had a good night's sleep however, and the next morning promptly, I was put on extra duty for being so sleepy. I was detailed to dig trenches for public convenience stations for the regiment.
This was the first time I got in bad with the management. In after years I learned to mind what I was told to do, but I had lots of lessons to learn before I was through.
After camping at Henderson, Ky., for about a week, we started across country for Spottsville. By the way, nine years after that, while on a picnic steamer up Green River, where Miss Carrie Newitt promised to take me for better or worse through life, is the place where we camped at Spottsville, in 186l.
In going up there, it required three days, and it rained the entire three days. It seems that this was to harden us for the hardships which were to follow. At night we would have put up our wedge tents, but some of the teams were stuck in the mud seven miles back.
I went to Captain Ohmstead and asked him where we were going to sleep and if we couldn't go into some house near by, and I asked him when we were going to stop this tomfoolery of traveling through the rain.
We found a stack of straw and took it to a near by woods, and there we camped, all wet and bedraggled, and our pants all whetted up with yellow clay, clear to the crotch. It rained all night and it was cold. We built big fires with green wood as best we could, for we had not yet learned the art of war.
Let it be Kentucky or Tennessee, later on in the war, and we would have done better. But then we dare not even disturb a hen roost for we were in Kentucky, you know.
Arriving at Spottsville, the quarter master procured some large tarpaulins or canvas and erected a shelter of them until the wagons should arrive.
Talk about preparedness, at this late date! But we finally got some guns that would go off. In three days the green teams and the green drivers got there, and then we were ready for the march to Calhoun, Ky. This is some distance below Bowling Green on Green River.
Here we built winter quarters out of poles and logs, covering them with out tents. We also built a fireplace out of sticks and put a mud-daubed chimney on it.
We often had to stand picket. One cold night when there, were four inches of snow on the ground thirty-five men were sent out on the road to Bowling Green. First a reserve, then post pickets along the road, one hundred yards apart-five men each had to stand on one side of the road, but not walk a beat.
Out side, one quarter of a mile was a videt post of cavalry. Three men, if they had room, took turns to ride in a circle, and if they should see the Rebs coming, they would shoot, as an alarm. And so on down the line, to the reserve, when they would fall back to the camp, and then turn out.
A corporal, a non-commissioned officer, is supposed to hold a private’s gun, while he retires at intervals. I asked the corporal what I should do if the enemy came down the road. He said to run back into the woods or run home to camp; and he would come out every two hours and relieve us with men from the reserve.
Now, a while back, I mentioned about a soldier leaning to shirk his duty. Well, there were a great many past-masters in the game, and at 10 o'clock when the corporal brought out the relief, he could only get four men, so it appeared.
Anyway, one of the men had eaten a large supper, and the big fire at the reserve was so inviting that he did not want to break away from it-especially when the Rebs were only seven miles away.
I was the fifth man on that road. By this time, the habit of shirking, that all soldiers learn was getting in its work with a vengeance, on this big boy just off a farm a few weeks before. The sum and substance of it was, that I was left there to freeze, and dare not walk to keep warm.
In the morning at 5. a.m., the relief, with Cris Scott, or Corporal Scott, came marching down the frozen road. I could hear the tramp, tramp, so familiar to all soldiers.
I was standing with my back against a hickory tree, thinking at getting back to the big fires the reserve. I was looking up at the moon and went to sleep. This corporal came up to within ten feet of men said "There he is." I opened eyes and asked who goes there,” and they gave me the ha ha.
Now this corporal wanted to get a feather in his cap, and he reported to his captain, and I was court-martialed. Meanwhile I was confined in a small tent without any fire in it. The next day, without any one to defend me, and without my even being present, I was sentenced to be shot.
But I had a brother-in-law, Lewis Short, in the company and he went down to the telegraph office, and sent word to my father.
My father then rode four miles to Evansville, and sent a telegram to Abraham Lincoln, the President, telling him about his youngest boy’s fare, and that he had six sons, four sons-in-law, and two grandsons in the field, and would have enlisted himself if he had not been a cripple. He told Lincoln how he wanted his boy on the farm.
In four hours from that time a telegram came to the colonel to send that boy back home to his father at once, and that he wanted full particulars of the whole case.
They asked me if I wanted to go back home, and I said, "No, but I want to know the names of the officers that sentenced me, without a witness except this corporal Scott, who just wanted a promotion to sergeant." But to this late day, I have never found one of those officers' names, that sat on that drum-head court-martial; and if I had there would have been less names handed in to St. Peter when Gabriel blows his horn.
There's one consolation, however, and that is that after the war, that corporal died an unpatriotic death, and was buried with out the stars and stripes as his winding sheet.
I have reason to look up to him who was the saviour of millions of colored men, and one white boy, and that was Abraham Lincoln.
About the 20th of February, we were ordered to the battle of Ft. Donelson on the Cumberland River. We started at four O'clock from Green River to Owensboro, on the Ohio River, a distance of twenty-six miles or more. It rained and we thought it was a hundred miles of mud and water and slush.
We arrived at Owensboro in the morning. We had thrown away everything that we could possibly spare. I had a heavy pair of new shoes and sold them to a darkey for fifty cents.
The darkey went and invested it in some Kentucky applejack and that helped save his life for a while at least.
Two steamers were waiting for us, and when the wagons came in, we or some of us, loaded them on the old side wheel boat. My pardner and I crawled under the boilers, in about a two-foot space and got a good sleep. We awoke about two a.m., dry and nearly roasted, but we got out, and could hardly walk, we were so stiff and hungry.
We had had no supper, so we ate some crackers and hard tack. When we arrived at Evansville, we stopped there but did not go ashore. There was the first gun boat we had ever seen, with railroad iron two thick on the sides. Two thousand people were on the shore waiting to see their soldier boys.
We butted up against the gun boat, and there were guards to keep us off. I was ashamed to be seen, and I was afraid my father would be there with the old black mare to take me home again.
I was enjoying things so far, and did not want to give u p the ship, so down the Ohio we went, to the mouth of the Cumberland River. We saw the gunboats come down with prisoners.
It was the first sight of a Johnny we had had, and we had the thrill of seeing Gen. B. Buckner, the commander of the Confederates.
We steamed up the river to Ft. Donelson. I had two brothers in the battle. My brother Bob had one eye shot out there, and he went home and was discharged. Afterward he was killed in a duel with a brother officer.
Later, we went on up to Nashville, and landed on Feb. 25th, 1862. There was not a soul to be seen except a few stragglers who were drunk. We went out about two miles and camped, I think, it was on the Murfreesboro Pike.
While we lay there, one of the soldiers was shot for cursing an officer, and here again, be it said, I shirked my duty, for I would not turn out to see him shot. I did not believe in that. Because of the treatment I had received, there was in my boy-heart a hatred for officers in general.
I could not forget the past, and there after would never accept the honor or dishonor of being a corporal, and I could not be promoted to a sergeant without first being a corporal, and so on up the line in rank.
We next had orders to go down to the battle of Shilo. After marching four miles toward Pittsburg Landing, our regiment was changed for another going to Murfreesboro, so we turned back and went with O. M. Mitchell's Division, going south.
We arrived at Murfreesboro and camped for a while, afterward going on to Shelbyville, thence to Fayettsville, on Elk River.
My Partner and I were sent out to guard a plantation which was occupied by a Confederate Generals’ family, an old lady and two daughters. The plantation was located several miles out of town and between two lines. To guard it was risky business, and I could see our finish if we were captured.
So, the first night when the Confederates came with about two hundred wagons and thirty five cavalry as a guard, it was quite evident to us that the two men could stand much show with thirty five.
The old lady woke us up and we jumped out of the window into the garden which was grown up with weeds, and listened to make sure whether they were Yanks or Rebs. We could soon distinguish the drawl of the Johnies, and we lay low until they were about gone, then we fired our guns to make the old lady believe we were brave men.
The next day when the Yanks came we went out and gave them pointers, as to where the best corn and hay and other things to eat were. The old lady said that we ought to stop them, but I told her to go to the camp, and if she could prove her loyalty the quartermaster would give her a check on Uncle Sam for everything that they took. This went on for two weeks and there was nothing left but the house and barn.
The old lady then went in to our commander and told him she had nothing to feed the guards on, for the, "blamed Yankees had stolen everything." The commander answered that she had let the Rebs have half of it and that we had a right to the other half, and that he, (the commander) could not blame two men for not stopping thirty five men, and when the Yankees came there was an officer with them, with orders to seize any forage he found. So the two privates had to mind this superior officer.
We withdrew in good order without the loss of a man, and thanked her for the pleasure we had in the company of southern ladies…..The living had been far superior to any pork and beans of our Uncle Samuel, and it required some time to come down to any army grub.
We soon went down to Huntsville, Alabama, a beautiful place with a large spring of cool water and we camped there a long time. We would volunteer to go on picket every other day. There were about six men, and one of them a corporal. One man would watch the post and the rest would go out foraging for potatoes, watermelons etc.
We often met the colored people coming down from the side of the mountain with eggs, chickens, corn etc. to sell. We were like Ben Butler, and we called everything contraband, and said we had orders to confiscate it; so we lived high, for as they came out they would have other things that looked good to us, and so it went along from day to day.
But at last came the harvest season, and I being a farmer, was one of the twenty sent out to see or oversee the harvesting of crops. For the army depended upon the harvest to help our Uncle Sam in a pinch, for there were a good many troops there then.
One day the boys in camp had a longing for potatoes, and watermelons. Even Confederate money was scarce then, and a German by the name of Laurence got some tissue paper and oiled it, and made the sign $50.00 in one corner of It. With this bogus paper he bought a whole wagon load of melons and potatoes from a darkey and told him to bring back the change when he came home from town.
When he came back from town he went to the Colonel, Charles Denby of Evansville, and he came over to Co. A and searched for potatoes and melons but he could find nothing, for the boys had buried the leavings and so the poor old darkey was out that much. I wont say that every man had a hand in that mean trick. We just called it reciprocity or some such name but we never have forgotten Huntsville, Alabama.
At about this time a detachment of the Forty-second Indiana was sent down to the Tennessee River, at Whitesburg landing, and crossed the river in flatboats. They landed and marched thirty five miles burning all the cotton and cotton-gins and presses. We burned several thousand bales, and it was worth $100.00 a bale. We did it to keep it from being shipped to the coast where English blockade runners would take it to England and pay gold for it.
Bragg- was marching a force to Louisville to make a raid on the North; we did not start yet. We had a grand review at Huntsville, and all the men had to wear white gloves. But Co. A.
The "Forty-Second Indiana" was encamped in a grove of trees on the edge of a large plantation where three hundred slaves were employed. The former owner, Mr. Clemens, had died, leaving the estate to heirs, of which a son, Hon. Jerry Clemens, once a congressman from Alabama, was an emancipationist of the Henry Clay school.
He would not touch a dollar of the money obtained from sale of slaves.
After piling all condemned guns and equipment in a huge pile, we set fire to it and sacked the town. I however, was not in on that.
We left in haste, our destination being Chattanooga, leaving about dark, and each man having to carry a load of about seventy five pounds, we had not gone ten miles, before our loads began to get very heavy.
I hired a darkey with a two horse wagon to haul our
knapsacks and when he was loaded up, we got a yoke of oxen and wagon, afterward
getting another yoke of oxen until we had three yokes of oxen, and a pile of knapsacks as big as a load of hay.
We were getting along fine when a General asked the darkey who was paying
He said "Uncle
Sam," and the General asked him who hired him, and he went to look for me,
but I had heard the talk and had run around the ox-cart.
We came to a river
where the water was about four feet deep, and the troops had waded through, and
the General made all come back across the river and get our knapsacks, and sent
the teams back home.
My feet were sore and skinned and I told the General I could not walk any more. He said that if a man fell down, and could not walk, then he could ride on the wagon. So I soon fell down on a rock and hurt my knee, and got to ride the rest of the distance.
The distance was
about thirty seven miles to Dechard station on the Nashville and Chattanooga
Rail road, the date was August 22, 1862, when we arrived here, and we remained
until the 30th of August.
General Buell gave
order to concentrate the army at Murfreesboro to prevent Bragg from entering
At the same time
Bragg had started for Louisville. We
left Dechard Station, August 30th, and from that time on through the month of
September, and up to and after the battle of Perryville, October 8th, 1862,
and well nigh the close of that month, the "Forty-Second Indiana"
experienced the most remarkable hard usage, in common with the entire army.
seven-hundred empty wagons. After
shipping all surplus goods by rail, they loaded us into the wagons, about 12 men
and knapsacks to each wagon. Most
of us had to stand up, and traveling over rough roads and rocks, men often
spilled out, but none were seriously hurt in this way.
The men had little
to eat and horses and mules were starving.
When we reached Shelbyville, there were two thousand barrels of flour
there in mills. We had to load it
into wagons to prevent it falling into the hands of the enemy.
We were thus
compelled to march which was even more agreeable to us, than riding in the
rough wagons as before.
Murfreesboro, on September 3rd, we supposed a halt would be made.
But we started immediately for Nashville, thirty-two miles away.
We were short of rations on the way, and we thought that we would have
plenty when we got to Nashville, but discovered the supplies were exhausted.
Many a soldier had
to begin the march to Louisville almost barefooted. On the night of September 6th, we crossed the Cumberland
River, and camped at Edgefield.
Next morning we
started on that long and dusty march for Louisville with nothing but flour to
eat-not even salt. Now talk about living on flour alone.
A housewife cannot make anything out of flour except paste with which to
hang paper on the wall, or maybe put into a little cheese-cloth bag and dust
onto her cheeks for powder.
But laugh, if you
will; there's more truth than poetry about this. The way we did was to dump a barrel of flour off of the
wagon, and knock the top in, and one man at a time would dump in a quart of
water, mix it up into a little dough.
We had a little salt
peter that was procured out of old pork barrels at Nashville, where meat had
been packed. This salt peter was in
hard lumps, and we thought that by pounding it up fine we could use it for salt.
But it gave us water-brash, and we slobbered like cows after eating
We would wrap the
dough around a long stick and hold it in the fire and it would be burned black;
then we would get a flat stone and flatten the dough out, and lay it onto the
stone, placing the stone in front of the fire, to bake.
When the stone would get hot enough it would burst.
After it was baked, we called the hardtack "sinkers."
Think of an army of
thousands of men marching through Kentucky and living on flour alone!
I am not positive, but think there were 50,000 men.
When we at last
arrived at West Point, which I think is a few miles below Louisville, a
steamboat-load of hardtack was sent down to meet us, and as we passed near the
landing each company sent down some men to get a box of crackers, each, and over
take us, as we were not allowed to stop for one minute.
As the men walked
along beside us with the open box of crackers we all helped ourselves.
It was a great treat, and we ate crackers until we got to town.
After we had eaten our fill of hardtack and had drank from wells and
creeks along the way, we felt a swelled up sensation, and some of the boys
required the services of the doctor. We
commenced to throw away our sinkers, until the road was lined with the
About seven miles
before we reached town, I became very tired and as it was getting dark, I
concluded that the haystack which was near the road was a good place to lie
down. So I dug a hole in the side
of it and took a much needed rest, and even had a pleasant sleep, as far as the
Graybacks would let me.
When we reached
camp, our old war Governor, Oliver P. Norton, Governor of Indiana came along
and. gave orders that every Indiana man should have a new suit of clothes,
should wash, and have his hair cut, and have new shoes also.
We had not had a
chance to wash since we left Green River; many of the men had not even washed
their faces for two weeks, and we looked like Digger Indians.
We were weary and footsore, and most of us were without any footcovering
at all.. To a man we voted that if it was as hard to serve the Lord as it was to
serve Uncle Sam, He would not get many recruits!
One man by the name
of Bill See, a teamster, was so disgusted with the treatment, and wanted to go
over into Indiana to his home so badly, that in the night he sold his six mules
for $100, and stayed two weeks, and came back, and as far as we ever knew, he
did not get any punishment for it.
We drew three days
rations and started for Perryville Kentucky, where later on occurred the
battle of Chaplain Hills. It was
about forty-two miles from Louisville. We
marched on the "double quick" nearly all of the way.
We expected to
fight, and had heard that the Johnies would take all of our grub away from us if
they captured us. According to this
prognostication, I ate my two pounds of pickled pork, raw, and chewed up the
coffee which I had from fear of its being taken from me.
Water was very scarce and the salt meat took effect with a vengeance.
While still four
miles from the scene of battle, we could hear cannonading in front.
What with this, and the dry weather and the salt pork, we were sorely in
fear and distress. We finally reached a creek near the widow Bottom's farm
house, but found that the creek was dry except for a few puddles of water with
green scum over it.
But in our desperate
need, we skimmed the water, and put it into a pot and boiled it, making
ourselves some coffee.
While we were doing
this, the Irish Brigade, or the Louisiana Tigers, came down on us out of the
woods. Colonel Jones called to Fall
back," and saying "Get up," to his horse, over the stone fence he
Our baptism had
begun. We fell back on our Brigade
three hundred yards. They lay in a
We had two
sergeants, Jack Jones and Nath Matheney. The
former had told us what to do if we heard a cannon shot.
He had said, "don’t dodge as when you hear it, it is past."
Jack was running right ahead of me, and every time a cannon ball or shell would
go over, he would duck to the ground.
After that we knew
that we could not help it. Both of
those men had been in service in the Mexican War, and we young fellows looked to
them for information, or had been doing so; but after that we would not take
their word any more.
We formed behind a
fence, as well as any soldiers could. This
was in the edge of the timber. Dick
Nash, a man of Co. 'A' was
lying in the corner of the fence. Dick
was known as a fellow that could outswear any soldiers in Flanders.
The rest of us were
hugging the ground, for the bullets were coming thick and fast.
I saw Dick get up on his knees and offer up a prayer as fine as a
minister, could do........
The Johnies were
coming right over toward us. They came up to the fence, where we were and before
we were relieved, our whole regiment gave them a volley that stopped them until
the other three regiments which were in our Brigade could get there.
These were the 10th Ohio, 3rd Ohio and the 15th Kentucky, and they got
back of us, and fought hard, but about half of them were left there, killed or
wounded or captured, and we had to retreat, shooting all the time.
Other troops came up
and we fell back on a hill. It was
so smokey that we could not see far, so we were ordered to charge down the hill.
Captain Olmstead of
Co. A, raised his sword and called. "Come
on, Boys," and turned to go down the hill.
He met his death at that moment, for a bullet pierced his brain.
My partner and I were six feet, two and one half inches tall, and were
the two first in the regiment. The
bullet which killed Captain Olmstead went between
us, and Captain Olmstead's brains blinded us, as he fell directly before us, and
we jumped over him, with the determination to avenge his slaughter.
About half way down
the hill two Johnies were sitting behind a rail cut log, with their guns cocked
ready, and one of them shot for my head, his bullet passing right below my ear,
clipping the hair; the other drew blood from Lockwood, my file leader.
As soon as they shot
they squatted close to the log, and threw up their old gray hats and said
"We will surrender." I don’t know just how it was, but others said
they saw two guns come down on those two Johnies' heads, and I found my gun
broken, and do not know how it happened. The
whole thing was all over in thirty seconds or less.
Colonel Denby had
got shot in the mouth, and his lips were bleeding and he was mad.
He was riding along the line shouting to cease firing.
By this time I had picked up another gun, and it had a load in it.
The smoke of battle had opened up, and we could see the Rebs and I fired
right in front of the Colonel's horse.
The horse jumped
back and Colonel Denby struck at me for shooting.
I was looking for another cartridge, so sergeant McCutcheon, later
Captain of Company “A”, threw his gun over my head and caught the blow of
the sword. The sword was not very
sharp, but nevertheless it cut into the barrel of the gun, behind the front
sight of it clean to the bore.
Now if the Colonel's
sword had hit me, I would probably not have gotten hit again in a few minutes.
The Colonel wanted to get us out of there, for about a hundred yards
distant, were five lines of Rebs coming.
Denby then said,
"Right, face forward"! by file, right double quick, and as we were
going up the hill, I had not had a chance to see the Rebs yet.
There being a tree about twelve inches through the butt, and forked six
feet from the ground, I jumped behind it. No
sooner had I looked about, than a musket hall struck me on the leather cap brim,
blistering my forehead.
In my fright, I
thought that my brains were laid bare, because of the stinging pain, and the
blood pouring down into my eyes, and as I followed the regiment, I was afraid to
put my hand up there, for fear to disturb my brain, which I supposed to be
exposed by the wound.
I passed D. Evens,
the adjutant, whose horse had been shot dead and had fallen upon one of the
adjutant’s legs. Two or, three
men were trying to drag the horse off, and they hallowed to me to give them a
hand, but for once I could not respond to a call for help, and it did seem as if
I had done enough for one time, as we had shot away forty-five rounds.
I had to slow up
because of the shock of the wound on my forehead, and by now the regiment had
gotten away from me. The ammunition
train was coming up, or trying to get up in an old field as I went over the
hill, there was a six mule team with a wagon load of cartridges.
The darkey teamster was unloading the boxes, so that he could pull up
farther toward the front.
The wheel mule was turning his head and braying, when a solid shot went through the mules head, striking the front end of the wagon and unloading the boxes. The shot went past the darkey we never to my dying day will I forget the astonishment of that Negro. He looked up at me and started to run, and if he is still living. I don’t suppose he knows yet whether it was I or that cannon ball that went through the wagon.
I thought they had
the range on me, and one shell went into the ground about ten feet ahead of me,
and burst, throwing the yellow clay into my face.
I had not thrown my
blanket away yet, and had a pair of new drawers, and two pair of shocks, wrapped
up in it, rolled and the two ends tied together, and slung over my left
shoulder, and hanging at the right side, instead of a knapsack.
None of us had knapsacks since the time when I discarded the blanket.
coming to a branch running down a hollow, filled with blackberry bushes, and I
dived into them, as they were large and dense.
I surely thought they had more thorns in them than I had ever seen, and
they held me, so that I was stuck and could get no farther, either forward nor
I put my big gun
crosswise in front, and low down, and with it worked myself back, and out of
there, and then I walked around the bushes and got into the woods.
There I found fourteen of the regiment with the colors, but not one
officer with them, but it wasn’t long before they started to come in, and they
kept coming until we had one hundred and fifty.
I will tell you it
was a sad reckoning, when the men began to tell of the dead-seven from Company
"A", and twelve wounded; while Bob Woods and William Elliot ran right
on, into the Rebel lines. However
they were paroled and were back the next day.
Two divisions of us
had been fighting all of Bragg’s army, and just over the hill not a mile away,
were 22,000 troops that were not in on that fight, and when a courier reported
to Buell he said "They got in, now let them out."
All the army knew
that General Bragg of the Confederates and General Buell, were brothers-in-law,
and had supper together the evening before, and that General Buell had
promised General Bragg that he would let him get back South without a battle.
Be that as it may,
our general never showed himself to us, or we would have wasted a lot of bullets
to revenge ourselves. He rode in an
old ambulance to prevent his army from seeing him, (peace be to his ashes).
So that night they
had left our front. Peter Truckee
of Evansville, and I, went back onto the field in the moonlight, and we found
our Captain-Captain Olmstead, slain in our sight that day.
Next morning five of us went there to bury his body, but we could not be
sure, for the rebels had stolen all of his clothing except his shoes and
We hunted up the
others of our dead, and the Captains body was sent back home to his family, to
be laid among his family. This
terrible first experience we never did forget, and we were always after that
looking for a chance for revenge.
We left there after
we had found a large spring, which they had held, until the next day, the 9th of
October, 1962, just one year from the time we were mustered in to do or die, for
the preservation of the union.
After filling our
canteens with good water, we started after them again.
As we neared the town of Perryville, we saw the dead bodies of four
hundred or more Confederates, piled up four feet high and fifty feet long, with
a fence built around them to keep the hogs from devouring them.
We left an officer and detail of men and they made the citizens of
Perryville bury them.
Then we followed
into the Crab Orchard district where there was so much apple-jack, and there was
so many places to get it that we drowned our sorrow with the Kentucky Apple
We followed on to
the mountains, and after they had got safely by, they had cut huge trees and
felled them across the road up the side of the mountain. That stopped us, but we finally landed at Broomfield,
Kentucky, on the rolling Fork of Green River, about two or three miles from the
birthplace of Abraham Lincoln. Some
of the boys walked up there.
I think we camped at
New Market on the 12th of October, '62, and that night when the men were
sleeping around on beds made of leaves, without any shelter, we had a snowstorm
of three inches. In the morning you
could see little mounds of snow, and at each man's head a little smoke as his
breath came up through the snow. All
had slept warm, it was reported.
The next day the
paymaster, the Chaplin and the sutler came up, and the sutler had barrels of
beer. For the want of pails, the
men used their hats. We called them
"Lincoln plugs"- and every man got a hat full of beer for seventy-five
cents. Something out of the
ordinary! (The hats were new).
There were all kinds
of peddlers to get the money. One
man had a load of bread on a wagon, as big as a load of hay, and if he got paid
for a half, he did well; but anything stronger than beer to drink was scarce.
One man had a case
of Hostetter's Bitters, and we tried to trade him anything we had.
He had a very poor speciman of a horse and we asked him how he would
trade for a mule. This teamster had
a fine mule that he used to trade. The
hair hung down over the brand on the shoulder, so that you could not see the
The man said he
would give seven dollars and the two boxes of Bitters to boot and the trade was
made. The boxes were taken away,
and the Jew hitched up the mule.
A battery lay camped
near by, and some men in the battery had seen the trade, and he pinched the Jew
and made him hitch up the old horse again.
All soldiers know what that "U.S." means when branded on a
mule, as nobody can keep a mule or horse so marked. They tried to find the men who got the bitters, and the
teamster claimed his mule.
Now this is written
more to show what tricks the soldier will resort to for something to eat or
drink. Possession is nine points of
When we again
reached the road leading from Louisville to Nashville, we went into camp for a
reorganization, on account of General Little having been wounded at Perryville.
Colonel Johnes (Jones?) was promoted to Brigadier General.
The Brigade consisted of the Forty-second Indiana, the Fifteenth
Kentucky, the Third Ohio, and The Eighty-Eighth Indiana.
There were perhaps no two companies in the command that had the same kind of guns. To those who at the start had the old sixty-nine caliber flint locks altered to percussions, exchanged for Endfield rifles, or new muskets of fifty-eight caliber, it was necessary to have a uniform caliber in every regiment.
This was not
complete until we reached Nashville again, the first part of December.
We then went into winter quarters after marching about fourteen hundred
miles since we left Huntsville Ala., in August.
The enemy was well
fortified at Murfreesboro. We
started for the battle along the Railroad and turnpike. The roads in Tennessee were all rock and were in excellent
condition. The roads out of
Nashville run like the spokes of a wagon-wheel, and are nearly all straight for
miles, all having been built by convict labor before the war.
The country is very
rugged and rocky with hardly any timber except red cedar.
The Brigade arrived
on December 30, '62 in line of battle near Stone River, about two miles from
Murfreesboro. Our regiment covered
the road in the center on the morning of December 31, at 6 a.m. We were lying
behind some temporary breastworks.
John Hasewinkle, a
German boy was to drive the head quarter team, and he said he had never driven a
horse in his life before. I put
my wits to work and knowing what was coming on, I sent
John down to the Colonel to tell him of the situation; and to tell him that he had a pal who had been raised on a farm and who could drive anything that was hitched up. This resulted in my being detailed as a driver in charge of a wagon.
Lee Wetheraw was
taken as head teamster for the division. The
six darkies that belonged to headquarters, of the "Forty-second," had
to load and unload the wagons, and they had everything ready, and I was right
after them, loading on top of the cover twelve or fifteen men who had been
excused by the doctor.
A great many men
were always ready to march or forage, but when it came to fighting, they were
likely to find some excuse at this critical moment, and I had some of the same
kind of argument, but did not reckon with out my host; for in twenty minutes
cannon balls commenced to go through the wagon and musket balls went crack,
crack! The fifteen convalescents
were all gone from the top of the wagon, in two minutes.
had been surprised at our right, and the Rebel Cavalry captured all these men
who ran to the rear. The wagon
train was corralled in a cedar thicket, and I wished I was back in old Company
protection! I had none only little
Johnny Messick, a little drummer boy, only eleven years of age.
He was a brave boy.
A Cavalry man rode
up to me and asked if he could hitch his horse to the wagon.
He was evidently a new recruit, for his saddle, bridle and all of his
equipment were new, but he had a poor horse.
Little Johnny cursed him, and told him to go and fight, but he ran
instead. He had not gone fifty feet
when a Rebel Cavalry man took him in tow.
Other troops came up
and drove them back and we pulled out to the rear, and nobody knows how such
confusion and such a terrible mix up followed.
We got back to
Overals Creek that night. We were
about four miles from Murfreesboro. Next
day after dinner, we had orders to start for Nashville, twenty-eight miles away.
When we reached
Lavergne Forests, Confederate Cavalry was there, and they were shooting the
drivers, and setting fire to the wagons. I
saw seven hundred wagons burned in one pile. They were packed and most of them were loaded with sugar and
We got through the
tangle, and were on the way to Nashville, the horses on the run.
The Cavalry were after us, and we could see them shoot the drivers and
the lead mules. That would stop the
wagon and then they would stick a piece of cotton in the cover of the wagon, and
set it a fire.
I drove four big
black horses with four lines, but the mule were driven with a jerk line, the
driver riding the wheel mule. Lots
of the drivers had gotten off, unhitched the lead mule and rode him to
I had this in mind
to do, but little Johnny Messick cried and said "Don't leave me and Old
Cavalry," (the horse which he loved). for Johnny had often ridden on the
wagon in Kentucky as he was too small to march.
We were going some,
and the horses were covered with white foam!
No time to stop and argue, for the Rebels were only four wagons back of
us. I told Johnny we had better
jump off and hi(le in the cedars, as it looked as if everything would he off
But just at this
critical moment. we espied ahead of us a regiment of Infantry coming from
Nashville on the run. with no Hats
on half of them, or no coats either! They
were a blessed sight to see. They
were “100 day men,” and they had come fifteen miles on the run.
So Johnny and I and
that blessed team of black horses, and all of the equipment of our regimental
officers, which Major Shanklin never saw again, were saved.
The Major was captured in the battle.
At nine o’clock
that night we pulled into the Fair grounds below Nashville-twenty eight mile
from 2 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. through worse than fire.
And I had aged in that brief time, or I thought I had aged ten years.
I was seventeen years old in January, the first of the year, ’63.
A fine News Year’s greeting!
teamster had rode a horse, and he and James Vickery our quartermater, came to me
and congratulated me, and little Johnny.
More things were yet
to follow. It had been raining and sleeting and turned cold that night.
I rubbed down those noble horses and gave them a little water at first,
and walked them up and down for four hours.
They had had no water all day, and very little to eat at dinner.
I had all of the
tents and equipment on my wagon, and I had heard Major Shanklin tell Wetheraw,
in my presence, to make the negroes do the work, and his cook to do as he is
told; and the Major said “if he don’t do it, kill him.”
The Negroes had come
through in some of the wagons, and were unloading a wagon, and Wetheraw came
across a big bed tick filled with cotton. He
asked who was having such beds hauled.
The cook spoke up,
and with an oath Wetheraw took his knife and split the tick and spilled the
cotton out. The Negro made a vile
remark and ducked. The tent pole
was sitting up against the wheel. Wetheraw
picked it up and struck at him. As
the darkey stooped to dodge the tent pool came down upon his neck.
We put up a stove
and built a fire, and all the negroes ran off and went to town.
After we had made some biscuit, fried some ham and made some good coffee,
we went out and the negro was still lying there.
As the negroes always slept under the wagon, we rolled him under there.
We suppose that
somehow, he got in the horses way, and under old Calvary’s feet, for he was
pawed by the horse and injured to death. When
quarternaster Vickery and little Johnny came around they discovered what had happened. None of the other
negroes came back, so the quartermaster got some men to bury the negro.
Now this is a brief
account of the affair and it was never refered to afterward.
The life of a soldier is all mixed up with varied experience, and today
you can't get an old soldier to admit that
he ever did anything bad in his whole career in war.
He will say that he sincerely hopes that not one of the bullets fired by
him ever hit anyone, and that's the way of the world.
On the sixth of
January, the battle being over with a great loss, we were ordered to go to
Murfreesboro. We pulled out for the
south-of Nashville, and waited at the side of the road for
our place in the
Train of Wagons. They went by us
for forty eight hours, six mule teams, one after another.
We never unhitched
out teams. Nobody has any idea of
how many teams it takes to move an
army. We figured out that train was
sixty-miles long, and so many had been destroyed and captured.
When we got up to
our brigade, they received us with open arms, and I decided I would stick to my
company, after the experiences of that brief period; but it seemed that the
longing for the joy of teaming was still strong within me.
One morning there
were thirty-five wagons ready to go eight miles out for wood.
They had an escort of thirty soldiers.
Being the ammunition train from our division, they were short one
teamster. So the wagon-master asked
me to take the team.
For the sake of the
adventure, I did so, and after loading up with all sorts of limbs of trees, and
wood, we started back for camp. It
was late and I happened to be the last team, and there was no one on my wagon.
It was cold and the roads were bad and I got stuck in the heavy mud.
The six mules would not pull. I
took my whip and walked to camp, four miles away, leaving the mules, to ponder
over the situation, and liable to be captured.
But they did not seem, to care just what did happen to them then.
As it was outside
our picket line, I. did not sleep, well that night, as I kept thinking about
what they would do with me if the mules got captured.
So about four a.m.,
I got up, and with my whip, I struck out for where the team had been left.
All this time the wagon-boy, did not know my name or regiment, so
although they had missed the team, they did not know who the man was that was
Well, when I got to
the team, they were there, like the "star spangled banner,” and they were
very anxious to do or die. They had
tramped or pawed and kept the mud from freezing around their feet.
When I got onto the
saddle mule and gave one yelp, they were off, fro they were hungry, and I let
them know I had a whip, too. When I
got into camp there was not a wheel-barrow of wood left on that wagon.
The soldiers came
running out of their camps to see the team running, just as if going to a fire.
The wagon-master wanted to know what was the matter, and I told him they
all ran away and left me stuck in the mud, and that I had to stay there all
night, and kept the Rebels from capturing the mules.
He thought that was
a brave deed, and would have had an honorable mention mad of it.
When he found out where I belonged, he reported to the Colonel and I
nearly got court-martialed, but I proved by my partner that I was in my bed that
night, so they never did get that figured out right.
The rest of the winter we were working on forts and breastworks.
We had to work eight hours a day, and at this stage of the game, we had
sibley tents holding eighteen men. They
were round and pointed at the top. Each
tent drew rations, and had a cook.
The eighteen were
all able for duty. Our cook, Joe
Smith, was ordered to go to work, so George Googe of Evansville, was detailed
to cook for us, as he was a convalescent.
We got our heads
together, and decided that we would get one man excused by McGinnis, the M.D.;
so I held a pocket knife by the blade, and Joe jerked it out, cutting the ball
of the thumb, so I went up to the sick call, and had about two
yards of cloth wrapped around my
McGinnis asked what
ailed me, and I answered that I had cut my thumb and could not hold a shovel, so
I was excused for two weeks, and that gave us a man to cook.
When we were in
camp, we hardly ever ate crackers. We
drew flour and got a baker to bake two barrels of flour into bread, for one
barrel of flour; and the baker would make his flour into pies, either peach or
apple (dried apples), and sell them for 25c each.
When we started on a
march, we would draw crackers again. The
boys liked flap-jacks made in a long-handled skillet or frying pan.
The handle of the pan, might have been four feet long, and the trick was,
that when the cake was done on one side, you would shake it loose and throw it
up into the air, and catch it on the other side.
That was a
flap-jack, and eighteen men could eat about thirty six of them at a meal.
We had to buy that flour because our ration of flour was made into bread.
One day I had gone
out with a hatchet to cut a tent-pole. I
was sitting on a log, chopping away and thinking of home and mother, when a man
came along and asked me if I had any money.
As we had had pay
day some few days ago, I had $35.00. This man from the Third Ohio was one of he
best chuck-a-luck players in the army. I
think it is called hazard-shaking three dice into a box and betting on what
would come up.
I had often lost my
money with this game man. Anything
for amusement. There are not many
aside from soldiers, who know how much money is lost and won at that game but at
this one place along the banks of Stone River, with twenty of these banks running,
$100,000 a day changed hands, so we opened up a bank using our two Lincoln plug
hats to hold the change.
We ran from two to
six p.m., and afterward we sat down On a log and commenced to count out
and divide up. He had $1, 300 in a pile, and the drums were beating for roll
call. As he had to be there, I
grabbed the $1300.00, and possibly he had some more, as I could not go down
every day. He said he would keep
the $35 for banking money, so he used to call every evening to pay me the
It seemed as if I
had never before had so much money, and I wanted to be good to the boys and
sometimes would write an order on James Orr, the Brigade quarter-master, and
sign James Vickery's name to it (our Regiment Quarter-master), and thus I could
get ham and flour and canned goods at cost price.
I do not know, to
this late day, whether the boys ever appreciated the money.
I paid out to give them a treat, of that kind.
Out of the money, I sent my father $175.00 but it never got to him as you
will find out later.
bush-whachers or guerillas and train robbers had become active.
Between Nashville and Murfreesboro a band of these Rebel sympathizers had
organized to rob our express and mail trains.
They robbed a few cars loaded with meats-hams, bacon and other things,
and hauled it in wagons, out to their homes.
Some got around our
lines to their soldiers, so something had to be done. At about this time there was gotten together in our division,
an organization know at the Roll of Honor men composed of two men from each
company to be mounted for foraging. They
were later known as Sherman's Bummers, but never mounted until the march to the
Our division was
ordered back on our line of supplies to break up and capture the marauding band
of thieves. It was known as the
Bates band, but in history they have some other name. I know for I burned Bate's house, that night when we went
back about fifteen miles and bivouacked the whole division with our brigade
At five p.m., they
detailed thirty-five or forty men from this Roll of Honor.
I will say that I never saw many honorable things that they did that
We started out at
dark with two old Union men as guides. They
had lived there all their lives, but had to take refuge in the Union lines.
This is the most God-forsaken part of Tennessee-rocks, hills and red
cedar bushes with a farm here and there, but scarcely any soil to cultivate.
When we neared a
house the men would surround it with guns ready to shoot anyone who showed his
head, and the Lieutenant of our battery, Loomis, 1st Brigade, in charge, one
sergeant, and I would go in and search the house, and if we found any
evidence-of their raids on our trains, we had orders to let the people take
their bedding, and clothes, and then burn the house, and barn.
We found hams, and
shoulders, coffee, sugar and letters from their relatives in the Rebel army.
We finally came, to a large house which looked like it belonged to
well-to-do people. Inside, were an elderly man and lady, and four fine looking
While we were
searching for evidence, the boys outside, peeking through the windows, got so
interested, that they came in. The
officer in command ordered them out under penalty, but they were more interested
inside than outside.
Some of our men
found four hundred hams in the smokehouse, and they threw them into the well.
It remained for me to apply the torch, but the four girls pleaded so hard to spare the house and promised that they would pray for me. So I found it hard to resist, and as the officer was outside
forming the men, I
set fire to the smoke house and some more out buildings, and the Lieutenant,
seeing the smoke, supposed that the house was burning down, but not so.
We had found a
letter in the drawer from the sons of this man, who were in the Confederate
army, saying that they enjoyed those hams he brought them.
About thirteen miles
from camp, we came to Bate's House, a large two-story log house.
He was the man we were after, and forty of his men were near there that
night. So we went in and a lady
about fifty years old, ordered us out of the house with a bold air of bravado.
But we were not bashful at all, so the sergeant and I went up the ladder
in the corner.
We had tallow
candles to light our way. By the
light of the candles we saw three
hats with brims about two feet wide. They were made of straw, and were evidently
home-made. We remarked that they
would be nice to keep the sun off from a Yankee.
Just then a voice
came from a bed in one corner; “Oh, you..........Yankees, let those hats
We told them to get
into their clothes, for we were going to burn the house.
They jumped out of bed and began to berate us with all the words at their
command. One of them told us they wanted us to 'put down that old chest'-a very
For an answer, I
pulled up a board in the floor, and threw in a bag of cotton, with the mouth
down that hole, and then went down and touched my candle to it, and away it
The boys had been
carrying out the clock and looking glass and other things taking them to the
door and then throwing them out. All
was excitement now.
When I went out, I
thought about the safe-chest, and the robbery of the mail and express, and
$190,000 in money. I had this in
mind when I opened the chest, with my bayonet, and running my hand in there
grabbed up 700 postage stamps from our
letters, which they had robbed. They
were not cancelled.
We also found a lot
of our letters at another barn, where these stamps bad been removed.
We always believed afterward that $20,000 was in that old chest, Bate's
While we were in the house, some of the men found some bee-hives and
started to get the honey from them. But
they got stung, and two of them could not see, so I had to escort them as well
as to carry the big coffee-pot, which I had secured and which was filled with
I also had a ham.
Now the other boys would not help these two men, "for being such
fools," and so for thirteen miles I had my full
guiding those men, carrying the heavy load and traveling over the stony roads
and hills. We had enough troubles
for one night, and arrived at the camp, about 6 a.m.
We were extremely
hungry but we had no sooner than begun to eat, when there came orders to return
to Murfreesboro, so we three got no rest until we again arrived in camp.
This was a distance of fifty-six miles, requiring two days and one night
for us without rest or sleep.
We decided that
being on the Roll of Honor, was not a very job, nor one that we so much desired
after seeing what it was like; However we were not again called upon, until
Sherman's army left Atlanta for the sea.
While camped at
Murfreesboro, the army was re-organized, and we had to turn over our horses for
artillery, drawing mules.
I was detailed to
help break the mules, for work, as they were wild mules.
So by spring, we got ready to go.
On the 24th of June,
‘63, we broke camp and marched against Tullahoma, where a wing of the Rebel
army was encamped.
It began raining,
and rained for sixteen days, but we had to skirmish or fight all those sixteen
“Forty-Second" moved through Hoover's Gap, and was busy all the time, day
and night, engaged with the Rebels, often placing the picket lines within 200
The places touched,
before we got to Dechard Station again, were Manchester and Hillsborough.
Most of the time spent at Dechard Station was put in drilling and
Then we left Dechard
Station, and marched over the Cumberland Mountains, on the other, or south
side. At Crow Creek Valley, our
brigade had to cut cord-wood for a week, to be used in the old wood-burning
engines of those day.
For this work we
only had only meat axis, and saws picked up off from farms, and they were not at
all sharp. I said I would not cut
wood, (But I said it to myself).
When the several
thousand men got to work, they cut lots of wood.....I took William Olmstead, a
‘62 recruit, with me, and we went up on the mountain, hunting apples, as there
are farms up there.
Well, we nearly got
captured. Bill was up in a tree,
shaking the apples down, when I, saw two gray hats, above the weeds. I took a
shot at them, and Bill did not wait to climb down he just let go and came down
like a bear.
We grabbed our bags
and started down that mountain, slipping and sliding-and rolling.
We had only about a
half bushel of apples, and they were small and hard, but we would cut them up
and stew them, and it made pretty fair eating-that is for an army mule.
About that time our
cook drew dried apples-should say about two bushels, and not knowing that they
are like a petty politician with a hundred dollar job, and swell up, he did
not put a few to soak at night, and then cook them next day; but rather, did he
put a great quantity of them right on to cook.
Two camp kettles
full of them began to expand, like our Democratic policy. The cook commenced to dip them out into other kettles until
he had seven kettles full. And
still they kept on swelling, so he put the rest of them on to a pile of dry
leaves on the ground.
This was at night,
and he left them there. Meanwhile
an old mule slipped his halter and commenced to look for oats.
When he smelled the dried apples he ate all that were on the leaves, also
the leaves too.
In the morning the
mule had swelled up and died, and that cook lost his job.
We ate the rest of the apples that day and next.
We then went on to
Stevenson and Bridgeport, Alabama, and crossed the Tennessee River, on Pontoon
Bridge. We camped and went up the
river next day, six miles, starting across the three
ranges of mountains,
to reach the rear of the Confederate army, so they could not leave Chattanooga.
On this campaign,
Lewis Short, a corporal, and a brother-in-law of mine, was detailed to do the
butchering for the First Brigade. He
detailed me to help him. We
confiscated every milk cow, sheep and hog and anything to get meat out of, at
the rate of about four cows a day. We
would drive them along all day and at night shoot them and dress them, and the
meat would be issued to the four regiments.
The butcher would
sell the head, heart, liver tail and paunch and, in this, way make about five
dollars a day. I would get a liver,
heart or any part outside of the four quarters of the beef, so I had plenty of
meat to eat, then.
When -we reached
Lookout Mountain, twenty-six miles above Chattanooga, we were all day getting
our wagons and artillery up. We
went back to the foot again to get water, and the next morning we found plenty
of water 200 yards from camp.
The mountain there
is about seven miles wide on top, and covered with timber.
There are some farms up there. We
saw a farmer there who had not been to Chattanooga for twenty years. He was
making felt hats for the "secesh army," and we confiscated them.
They were not blocked out yet, and ran up to a point.
The next day went
down the other side of the mountain to what is called I think, Bird's Gap.
At Pigeon Mountain, in going down the steep and slippery, rough and
crooked road, a six mule team and wagon slipped off the bluff, and fell two
hundred feet. Mules, wagon,
crackers and all were mixed up in such a mesa that nothing could be saved.
I went down there to
see if I could even save some crackers, but I do not believe that there was even
one whole cracker to be found
In coming over here
from Bridgeport, we went through Trenton, Alabama. I have a letter that I wrote home from there, now.
We camped at a cross
roads at about Sept. 15, '63, or five days before the battle of Chickamauga.
Two other divisions crossed about fifteen miles further up, and if the
Confederate generals had known it, they could have done us up, in short order,
as they were in full force about three miles from us.
But we got down to Gordon's Mills on the 18th and ran right into the
incident will do right here. We had
in Co. "A" Forty-Second, Indiana, a man by the name of Benner.
We never had -gotten him into a battle, so the Colonel ordered the
Captain to detail a Corporal and one man to have charge of this man.
He was a moral and physical coward, so. Short and I, "the
butchers," were put on the job.
Benner wanted to tie
his shoes, and hurt his foot. He
was getting behind the regiment, so Short, being a very conscientious man, said
"George what shall we do this man? We
don’t want to waste our bullets on him." So I said, "Tell him to run
for his life, and we would shoot at him as he ran the gauntlet.”
As it was, so Benner
accepted the challenge and he certainly did run, I mean while shooting about
five feet above his head, so that he could hear the bullets whistle.
We then ran until we
caught the "Forty-Second."
We lay all night in
line of battle the 19th of September. On
the 16th early in the morning we were washing our faces in a Branch, and I had
pulled my coat and blouse off and hung them on a fence for a minute.
Some man who had no conscience, stole them, so I went for over a week
with only a very soiled shirt.
That night with all
the shooting and the cold, I began to get the shivers, and I cut a hole in my
blanket, and stuck my head through the hole, put my accoutrements over the
blanket, and thus kept warm. This
was better than just a dirty shirt, for a garment.
There was vermin in
our clothing, and now as before, our socks when we had I any, were not on
speaking terms with us. We did not
take them off until they were rotten, and only removed our shoes once a week.
On the 18th of
September, the battle of Chickamauga opened up with us on the run for the
extreme left of our army. We lay
all night on the Lafayette Road; we, being General Beatty, lst Brigade, 1st
division, 14th Army of the Cumberland, General Negley’s division.
Forty-Second Indiana, Fifteenth Kentucky, Third Ohio, and Eighty-Eighth
We lay down and;
skirmished all night, with the Rebels, as there was not much fighting by night.
Next morning, we were marched right in the rear of our troops that were
in deadly combat, until we were near the McFarland House.
Our regiment the "Forty-Second," was by the bugle deployed as
skirmishers, as we were past the extreme right of the Rebel army.
John Lockwood and I
were the two tallest men being six feet two and a half inches.
"Co. A" was at the
right when we were deployed.
We were in the rear
of the Rebels, about two hundred yards; having passed their right, we lay down
in thick timber and underbrush. Rebels
in front of us, Rebels in back of us.
We were hugging the
ground and our battery. "1st
Kentucky" came through, and unlimbered, and the artillery making such a
noise we could not hear the bugle call to fall back. When we raised our heads
the regiment had all gone, so we naturally ran to the rear and ran into the
I saw my old
brother-in-law captured two feet in front of me, and I changed my course to the
right. I had not gone far when I
came upon R. P. McCutcheon,
a brother of the Captain of "Co. A."
He was shot in both
hips, and he said that if he had his belt off, he could walk, so I got down on
my knee to get his belt off. He was
doubled up, and I threw myself back to get my knife to cut his belt.
Just as I did that, a bullet cut me in both arms, and cut the bosom of my
dirty hickory shirt off, drawing blood from both arms.
Some blood flew in
McCutcheon's face, and he never knew for fifty years where the blood came from,
(fifty years later we met there at the reunion, and I told him.)
He told me to go,
that he was done for anyway, and it was better for one to die than two, so I
grabbed my gun and ran. I passed my
regiment behind a barn and a pile of knapsacks about four hundred yards in the
The Rebels captured
Colonel Cockrum of Oakland City, Indiana, Major, eight Captains, and one hundred
twenty four of the regiment.
"Forty-Second" regiment monument is located there at the place where I
got away. The spot is the only one
that has a fence around it, three acres of ground being in the fenced square.
The superintendent of Chickamauga battle field of 6000 acres lives there near
the Lafayette and Reeds bridge road.
I got away and went
over to Snodgrass Hill where Thomas was fighting. Three of us helped a section of the 4th regiment battery to
shoot away their ammunition. All of
their horses were killed except two, and all the men killed except four, either
killed or wounded.
The Rebels were one
hundred yards away, and the men spiked their cannons, got on the limber, two on
the two horses, and rode down the hill. We
two soldiers went into a log cabin and got a coffee mill off the wall, and went
over to the dry valley and back to Rossville.
Fifty years after that, I was looking for the house where I stole the coffee mill, to pay the woman for it; but time brings about changes in fifty years. McCutcheon has gone to his last reward, although he lived fifty-two years after the war.
I will later on,
give his letter in part, telling of where he lay down and I knelt beside him,
and my daughter, L. B. Brown of Chicago took a snap shot picture of us, on the
spot fifty years afterward.
Now we had gained
our objective, namely, to hold Chattanooga and we held it.
We formed a line of breastworks across Chattanooga and forts about
where the City Hall and Library now stand.
Then we went out and burned all the houses in front of the works.
We built Fort Negley
not far from the Rail Road depot. We
had not had our shoes off for two weeks, and we wore no socks.
We worked on the fort, two weeks-four hours on, and four hours off.
One night the Rebels
charged the fort. I was lying
behind the magazine asleep, and twelve
guns were working for two hours, and yet when I woke up I had not heard a sound,
even the noise of the cannon. So
you see how a soldier is worn out, and is immune to the clatter of the
We went into camp at
the foot of Cameron Hill on the Tennessee River and sent all of our wagon
trains to Stevenson for rations, and Wheeler's Cavalry captured all of them.
Only one team left in it belonged to the Jeff C. Davis’ Division.
Think of it! 60,000
men in Chattanooga without anything, to eat!
But thanks to Gen. U. S. Grant for he arrived and opened the cracker line
to Bridgeport. We drew no rations for ten days. We had to go on picket every day and I stood picket one
night, barefooted, and it was in November too.
I told the Captain I
would not go on picket without shoes and so I was put into the guard house.
wanted to move his tent over from the north side of the river, and as I was the
only one around, he told me to go down the river and pick up four old sickly
mules running loose, and move him and he would give me all the crackers, coffee,
and bacon that I could eat.
I got an old pair of
shoes number 7s, and I wore 11s. So
I cut the toe off and wrapped my,
feet with old gunny sacking, and my foot was two inches longer than the shoe, so
I let them stick over the toe.
I got on the saddle
mule and rode over and dug up the crackers and bacon buried in the tent.
So that night I had fourteen crackers and a gallon of black coffee and
two pounds of fried bacon, which I had to eat after dark for fear the soldiers
would mob me.
Next morning our
General Negley heard that there was a team of mules in the
"Forty-Second,” and he sent down for them to report up town at the place
about where the City Hall it now.
The 4th regular
battery was building a fort, and they would cut down big trees, on the ground
where the National Cemetery is now. One
hundred men would pick up the butt end and put it on wheels; the hind wheels
being under the other end, haul it up to build the fort.
These poor mules had
nothing to eat for two weeks except the, green limbs off from oak trees, and
they got so weak that they could not walk.
One night it rained and in the morning the, wind had blown three of the
mules down, and we had to kill them.
called me up to his headquarters, and asked me where I got the mules.
I told him down in the cane-brake. I
told him of the team down at Jeff C. Davis' Division, which never
went after rations, and he told me to go that night and steal the team of
the finest mules in the Army. They
had rings and ornaments and were being fed on corn, and at the same time, 60,00
men were starving in camp.
I got a man, and we
went over to Jeff C. Davis' Division, where the six mules were tied up to a
wagon, four at the pole and two at the tail end of the wagon.
We took them home to
First Division, a distance of a mile and a half. Next day I went up to General Negley's headquarters, and he
sent me over to a rocky hill, right where now stands the public library and Post
Office of Chattanooga, to haul logs.
notified General Sherman that one of his men of the "Forty-Second
Indiana" had gone over and stolen those mules in the night.
Next day I took the
mules over to haul logs for the breastworks of the 4th regular battery.
The driver of the team from whom they were stolen, saw me with them.
General Negley then
sent for General Sherman and notified him of the team that had not been sent for
rations. It came very near to being
a court martial for Jeff C. Davis, for allowing the team to be excused from
going to Bridgeport for rations.
All of the teams of
our whole Army were captured by General Wheeler's cavalry while on that trip
While standing in
town looking at Hooker's men come around to the Craven House, we were sadly in
need of something to eat.
I had a
brother-in-law who was an old farmer, and he had saved his crackers.
I told him I would give him a dollar a cracker for fourteen crackers, and
he grabbed it. He never had a single one for two days after.
Before dark our
brigade was sent up on the mountain to relieve Hooker's men, and to carry up
We skirmished with
the Rebel pickets along under the bluffs of Lookout Mountain, and had one man
killed, James Martin, “Co. A,
In the morning we
went down the mountain, crossed Mission Ridge, and charged and captured the
Ridge and followed them to near Ringold, Georgia. We had a fight called Oak Ridge battle, then we returned to
On January 4th 1864,
we reinlisted for three years more, being given a thirty day furlough home, all
back pay and three months in advance, also an additional bounty.
We each had $402.00 to spend, and kept back two hundred until the close
of the war.
We spent thirty days
at home and had a good time. Then
we went back to Nashville, and had to march from there to Chattanooga again.
After getting back we were put to work building the National Cemetery,
digging up the dead around there for twenty miles-work which we did not at all
like, and we went on a strike.
quit" was the word, and we won and went out to Ringold to get ready to go
on the Atlanta campaign. It
required three months to fight our way to Atlanta, and all that time there were
not thirty minutes without hearing a bullet whistle by.
We were in several
battles, Peach Tree Creek being the last before we arrived in front of Atlanta.
On July 22, 1864,
was fought the battle of Atlanta. Our
brigade was used to extend our lines West.
I was commissioned
as a sharpshooter, and on the 11lth of August was sent out on our picket line,
to keep down some sharp shooters, a mile away on a hill, so our men could stick
their heads up out of our breast works.
It was terribly
hot-110 in the shade, and no shade to be had.
I went-along the line of pickets to find a place of shelter to shoot
from, and a sharpshooter from a 1st Georgia regiment came down as near as fifty
yards, while I was in a rifle pit talking to some buddies.
When I got out he
plugged me straight for the heart. It
broke two ribs and shot nine holes in a silk handkerchief that was around my
neck. He shot me with a Whitworth
A Lieut. of the lst
Georgia regiment deserted that night, and told our men that on the night of the
10th of August, a German, Charles Laurence and I, went into Rebel rifle pits,
and made a bargain or armistice, not to shoot, if we would not,
as we were so close at our left, being only 14 steps apart, we could not
show our heads without a dozen shots coming over; so they agreed and kept it up
for three days, and the sharpshooter had made no bargain because he came down to
He beat me to it,
for I was looking for him. Two men
had to carry me two miles through the timber, then I was taken in an ambulance
to Division Hospital, two miles in the rear, and next day to Vining Station,
near Chattahoochee River to the Field Hospital.
Thence I was
conveyed to Chattanooga Hospital, then to Nashville, then to Louisville, then
to New Albany, Ind., and then to Evansville, Indiana.
assassination of Lincoln, I was transferred to the Veteran Reserve Corp, and
sent to Cleveland Ohio, to muster out the troops from Northern Ohio.
I was discharged at
Cleveland Ohio, July 12, 1865, at the age of nineteen years and five days,
having seen forty-four months of service, and was still young.
Now there was a
dawning of a new era, and I was to start all over again.
My father had sold
the farm and gone to Owensville, Indiana. I went into the shooting Gallery game
at Terre Haute, Ind.; afterward being employed by the Adam Express Co.
I became assistant baggage master, and in the spring of ’66, went to
I went down with a
saw-mill to Brownsville, Tenn. Tail Sawyer and I hauled saw-logs.
I then worked on a cotton farm, after which I went to Memphis, shipped on
a steamboat for St. Louis; shipped on a boat as a deck-hand, for Ft. Benton,
2000 miles up the Missouri River.
We got as far as
Atchison Kansas, and I had a scrap with the mate and left him on the shore, a
fit candidate for the hospital.
I then went to work
in a nursery, digging trees, afterward leaving that work to become a
stone-mason, building the Atchinson Topeka Rail Road round-house. Then I was employed by a company to build log houses for
equipment for building the Leavenworth and St. Joe R. R., I then went down to
Little Blue Tank on the Missouri Pacific
R. R., and went to cutting cord wood for three men of
Quantrils Band of Guerrillas of the Jay Hawkers War in Jackson Co.
Missouri; and came near joining the James Boys gang of outlaws, but escaped by a
I went up to Kansas
City, with two others, and got a boat, and went down the Missouri River, came
onto a wrecker of boats, and hired out to him to gouge a large flat boat to St.
After working in a
brickyard, I left on a steamboat, as a passenger, with an ex-Confederate
soldier, bound for Leavenworth Kansas then out to Ft. Riley, Kansas; was sent
back to Grantville, Kansas, for three hundred mules, for the U. S. A., and was
paid $60.00 in gold, per month.
When we got back,
four hundred Indiana were there stampeding six hundred head of cattle.
This scared the Confederate, and we went down in Kansas to work on a
farm. My partner cut his foot and
the farmer discharged us, and we started down the Railroad track to Kansas
City. We went back down Missouri
and I lost my buddy.
I then went down in
Saline Co. to Sedalia, then over to the Missouri River to work on a farm.
I left there for St. Louis again and went to work there on a dirt road.
I was working for a contractor, but got no pay for my labor.
Later, found me
working on the M. 0. R. R. building a branch to Boonville for a Mr. Kelly.
He never paid off his men, so we left for
St. Louis on a steamboat. Reaching
that city, I went out in Illinois to bind wheat at $4.25 per day.
I worked through harvest, and
started home but stopped off at
I got a job as
carpenter, but instead of working at it, I got up at 12 midnight, and started
walking a hundred and ten miles to Evansville.
The next night I was at Owensville, eighty-one miles, without rest.
Then I hauled saw logs with four yoke of oxen, and tended bar and chopped
wood, afterward going to Evansville.
Such a wandering
life I led after the war! But other
things were to come about after this nomadic experience.
At Evansville, I
went to work for Mr. William G. Newitt, a florist, and eloped with his daughter.
We were married May 7, 1870.
I became foreman of
a greenhouse belonging to J. D. Carmoody of Evansville. Some of the time for '65 to 1870, I whacked mules to Denver;
and whacked bulls in Montana, hunted in the mountains, fought Indians, helped
survey the A. T. and Santa Fe to Pike's Peak, and did other things too numerous
to mention. .
I also raised a big
family in Chicago. I worked at every trade except undertaking.
I farmed 160 acres of land in Chatham Field, Chatham Field Farm, at 79th
and Cottage Grove Ave., Chicago, and I raised cabbage on the corner of 43rd and
I did all of Nels
Morris' teaming and worked for Armours. I
ran a shoe shop on Halsted Street; was gardener for Oakwoods Cemetery for three
years; helped build Pullman, and preached the funeral of a Gipsy Queen, a
hundred and four years old.
I was a member of
the bricklayer's union 24 years, being sewer inspector for years. I was
inspector in the four mile tunnel.
I was head engineer
of the Bernard McFadden Sanitorium, 43rd and Grand Boulevard; had charge of
Manhatten beach when Pains fire-works showed the great spectacle of the burning
of Pompeii, for one hundred days; built the boat that played Pinafore at the
beach; and when Jack Haverly took charge of Manhatten Beach and pulled off the
great prize fight of Glover and Paddy Ryan, I shut Off the water and delayed the
fight for two hours.
I was working for
the city when Carter Harrison was shot, and was inspector when Aldrich, was
superintendent of public works, and he was later elected to congress.