Acknowledgement: Special thanks to Paul Barnett, Francis Carlisle’s Great Grandson (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org), for submitting this autobiography for inclusion on the 42nd Indiana Volunteer Infantry Web Site.
I was born in Pike County, Indiana, on the 11th day of August, 1844. My mother was a widow and when I was five years old she married David Kinder, and moved to Warrick County, Indiana. On July 2nd, 1851, my mother died at the age of fifty years; I then lived with my sister Armilda Kinder, in Pike County, Indiana, until I was eleven years old. I then came to Warrick County, Indiana, and lived with Zachariah Skelton, a short time and lived with Allen Polk one summer in the year of 1856; in the fall of that same year I set into work and lived with my brother, Pleasant P. Carlisle, who had married Nancy A. Polk in 1857, and worked for him six years. When I was sixteen years old I ran away from home and went to Evansville, Indiana. After adjourning there a few days, I hired to work for a man by the name of Cromwell, who was clearing up 100 acres of land in the Ohio River bottoms, at $13.00 per month; I had worked only a day or two when my brother P. P. Carlisle came after me and wanted me to come home, which I thought best and did so. I then worked for my brother until the spring of 1861, when I quit him and worked for the Squire Johnson for a few months, when my brothers wife died, and it was so that he needed me very much to help him in his business I then went back and stayed with him until in August 1861 and on the 11th day of August, 1861, I enlisted in the U.S. Service for three years. On the 9th day of September, 1861, we all assembled at Folsomville, Indiana, early on Monday morning to form a Company, and selected Armour Reed as our Captain and Squire Johnson as our 1st Lieutenant; and at ten o'clock a.m. we marched off by wagon conveyence to leave our home and friends and loved ones behind--perhaps with a great many for the last time. We bade our friends good-by, and a many a "God-Bless You" was said to all. We hoisted our flag and rode out towards Boonville, the County Seat, and Oh: such a wave of handkerchiefs and small flags held out to us as far as could be seen. Such times were never witnessed at Folsomville before nor since; some of our fathers and mothers were there taking their last farewell with their dear boys and while others took leave of their dear sisters and others their best girls and sweet-hearts and brothers and friends -- for all were our brothers and friends, then over and over we sang "The Blue-eyed Girl that we left behind" until we reached Boonville, where the good people of that place had a fine dinner awaiting our arrival, which we did justice to.
After dinner we bade farewell to our friendly host and boarded our wagon-train and started to Camp Vanderburgh, near Evansville, Ind., we landed there about sun-down and were received with great royalty, and military honors by members of the 42nd Regiment, Indiana Volunteers, who had proceeded us to camp; here we took our first soldier's lesson and soon became better acquainted with the tactics of war. We soon formed into a regiment and my company became Company D of the 42nd Regiment of Indiana Volunteer Infantry. Here we drilled, squad drill and Company drill and Regimental drill, which is called battalion drill and stood guard, patrolled the woodland for miles around to pick up the boys who would break guard and get out of the camp to have their fun. Here we stayed a while and on 9th of October 1861, the regiment was mustered into U.S. service, which made us indeed and in truth. We here drew our new uniforms, which were of a pretty bright sky blue color consisting of pants, dresscoat, and overcoat, with brass buttons and blue caps and blanket. And here we broke camp for the first time and marched to and through the city of Evansville, to a place on the Ohio River below the city where we drew our Army Tents called the A tent-room for six members to the tent. We gave this camp the name after our Colonel, "Camp Jones” and here we drilled and equipped ourselves with knapsacks, canteens and haversacks and were there given guns with five cartridges and five percussion caps to start in with to put down the Rebellion.
We all felt the necessity of taking the best care of the ammunition that was given us, as we were daily expecting to get orders to go to the front, which was just across the Ohio River where there were many rebels organizing into regiments.
On about the 1st of November, 1861 at night there came a dispatch to our Colonel to take four companies of the 42nd and go to Henderson, Ky., and put down the Rebellion at that place, at midnight we boarded the steamer called "Mattie Cook" and went down the Ohio River to Henderson, we landed and marched off of the boat with hard chills and the "buck-ague" trembling in every joint, expecting to be attacked any moment. We marched through the town unmolested, and camped in a tobacco factory until daylight; we put out our pickets that morning before day, and as there were several rebels in town, not expecting us so soon, several of them were taken in and detained in the City. While we camped here we had considerable trouble with rebel guerrillas and many arrests were made.
We did a great deal of scouting while camped at Henderson. In a few days after going into camp (which was called "Camp Denby" after our Lieutenant Colonel) the rest of the regiment came down and joined us. Lieut. J.D. Sanders, while here at this place, took eight men (myself being one of them) to manage a cannon, and with two companies under command of our Major, Jas. G. Shankling, boarded the steamer "Storme" and went down the river to Uniontown and captured seven large coal barges from a rebel citizen and towed them up to Calhoun, Ky., on Green River to make a bridge across that stream so that our cavalry and artillery could be crossed at a moments warning.
About the 15th of December, 1861, our regiment had orders to march to Calhoun, Ky., to take our place under General T.L. Crittendon, where we found the following regiments organizing: Col. Wolford with the 3rd Ky., cavalry and the 25th, 26th, 11th, and 17th Kentucky Infantry all under command of General. Crittendon.
It taken us four days to make this march, as we marched through a very swampy country until we reached Curedesville, a small village on Green River. It had been drizzling rain until we got to the river: when it commenced to snow. We had to cross on a small ferryboat. We commenced crossing in the morning and when about half of the regiment had crossed, and just at night, the steamboat "Mattie Cook" came up the river to our relief and soon got us all over. One of our company members, Martin Withers, by accident was knocked off the boat into the river; but by being a good swimmer and by help of some of the boys he succeeded in getting out all right. Some of our boys who had crossed early in the day managed to get a lot of Old Monarch Whiskey, and were having a royal time going into camp.
The Colonel ordered our Sergeant Major to take a squad of men, patrol the town and to take charge of all the whiskey he found, and that soon put a stop to the boys fun. The snow fell to about eight inches and our tents were in the wagons and they were the last to get across the river and it was near midnight when they reached camp. There was only one church in the town and Company K and I got that and the rest of the boys built fires and stood around them the remainder of the night. It was so cold that those in the
church almost froze, they passed off the time by speech making and keeping up a general racket all night, and by morning the snow had ceased and had commenced to melt and before night the mud was shoe-mouth deep. Nine o'clock a.m. next morning found us on the road, the snow melting the country being broken and hilly, made hard marching. We had to carry forty rounds of ammunition to the man, and our guns and accoutrements, and three day rations and canteens filled with water --- all told 65 to 75 lbs. to the man.
We got to Calhoun, Ky. late in December, and taken our places under General. Crittendon; we were in a camp about a week when the measles broke out in our camp, and all who had not had them, taken the disease and died like hogs with the cholera.
Here we went into winter quarters and built small fireplaces to our tents, and slept on the ground with a little straw under us for bedding. Here Company D buried the first of its members namely W.J. Myers, and after we had laid him to rest in the wooded hills of Calhoun Ky., we were called to our Chaplain to draw near around his grave to listen with bowed head and sad hearts, to the petition sent up by the Chaplain and prayer. We filled the grave and gave the usual military salute, by firing three musket-shots over his grave. We then returned to the camp with sad and sorrowful hearts.
We remained at Camp Calhoun for quite a while, as fully One-half of our regiment was sick, and in Hospital; about the first of Feb., all of the regiment that was able marched up the river to South Carrolton, and camped about two weeks there, and while there Company K built a fire against a large tree, and one night while all were asleep the tree fell into the Company and crippled two of its members so badly that they were discharged and sent home. They were David Addington and Wm.Barton.
The regiment returned to Calhoun, Ky., and on the 16th of Feb., we received orders to march to Owensboro, Ky. we started at dark, the snow about twelve inches deep, we reached Owensboro, the next day about three o'clock p.m. There a fleet of steamboats awaited us in readiness to transport us down the Ohio. We landed in Evansville the next morning, staying there all day. While there I met my brother P.P. Carlisle, who with other friends had come to the city to see a few of my sick comrades that were there at the hospitals.
We again boarded our boats and bade good-bye to home and State and turned down the river, probably for the last in life, for all we knew. We landed at the mouth of the Tennessee River at Paducah, Ky., there we cast anchor for some time, while the several large steamboats came down the Cumberland River, loaded with rebel prisoners that Grant had taken at Fort Donaldson, Tenn.
The boat on which the rebel General, Simon B. Buckner and staff were, landed by the side of our boat; several of our Officers were well; acquainted with some of Buckner's staff officers; Clay Stincton of Evansville, Ind., was a Captain of Artillery on Buckner's staff while here at this place we had strict orders not to let a man off the boat, there being no stage plank thrown out, and the boat being anchored twenty feet from shore, the guard thought it not necessary to watch very close, but we had a man in our company by the name of Berry Bately, better known as "Bully"' who was always breaking guard and getting out of camp to get whiskey and get drunk and raising sand generally; and "Bully" taking in the situation, made a jump for the shore: the guard heard him strike the water and yelled out man-overboard; but Bully came up out of the water and swam to shore all right and about-faced, gave the guard the military salute, and made his way to the city, -- and that was the last that we ever saw of "Bully" for three months when he made his appearance in the Company all right.
When we left Paducah we started up the Ohio, and at Smithland, at the mouth of the Cumberland River, we took up this stream and preceded to Clarksville, Tenn. When we entered the Cumberland River, we had twelve boats in our fleet loaded with soldiers, it was Sunday and the weather was fine, each boat had a silver band on board, and we had a fine time racing, one boat trying to pass the other and the bands playing; each one trying to excel the other in good music and the boys would cheer them and we had a fine time all that day, but after we reached Clarksville, just below Fort Donaldson, we were more careful, as there had been no Yankees above that place, and the gunboat the “Ironclad” was ordered to proceed us for fear of trouble at Nashville, Tenn. We landed at the wharf at two p.m. but the men all stayed on board until next morning, except a strong patrol on the water front; next day while we were lying anchored at the foot of Main St., some of the rebels that were still in the city set fire to a steam boat that was loaded with pork for the rebel army; it has been said that is was Jno Morgan himself that set it on fire, hoping that it would float down on our fleet and burn us out, but in this he failed, as it lodged against an anchored coal-barge and this saved our fleet. We lay at the foot of Main St., until the next day when we marched through the city of Nashville and some of the women, strong secessionists, would call our boys "negro-stealers" and would spit down on our boys from upper rooms along the street; and for that some of their houses were burned.
We camped out about one mile from the main part of the city, while here our brigade was ordered out by our division Commander General Nelson, to assemble at a point near a reveane to witness the execution of a member of the 14th Ohio Regiment, by the name of James Cornell for drunkenness and wanting to fight his Colonel. The brigade consisted of four regiments we there formed a hallow square and the condemned man with his hands tied behind him, walked between two catholic priests and behind his coffin, the brass band in front playing a funeral dirge marched in front of each regiment of the brigade with twelve guards following, when they reached the ravine the pall bearers set the coffin down and he stood at the head of the coffin, then a short prayer was said by one of the priests, after which the Black cap was adjusted over his face. The twelve men that had been selected was drawn up in fifteen yards of the condemned men and he motioned to the guards with his left hand to his breast, and the guards had already been instructed as to their part, by an officer in charge, by the motion of his sword, twelve muskets were discharged. Every guard fired and the poor fellow eased down on his coffin, paused for a second; then fell over and was dead in another minute. The brigade marched back to the camp with sad heart and with many condemnations of General Nelson, the inhumane Commander of our division as this execution was carried out by his order. This cast a melancholy feeling over all the boys who witnessed the execution, but such is war, and on account of the excitement of war which immediately followed, this incident and the sadness resultant to it was soon forgotten.
Here the regiment was paid off for the first time since it had enlisted, and this put new life into the boys and we all had a fine time for a while. This was six and one-half months service for the 42d regiment, and we marched from our camping ground the last week of March 1862, to Murfreesboro, Tenn. At Murfreesboro, I was left at the hospital with mumps: here I was put on extra duty as nurse in ward A with Jno. A. Bingham of the 4th Ohio Calvary at 25 cents per day extra pay, I served until the last of June, when I was ordered to my regiment at Fayetteville, Tenn. on the Elk River. We remained there for several weeks and marched from there to Huntsville, Ala., while here we scouted the country far and near, and was called out and crossed the Tennessee River several times on account of rebel guerrillas who were harassing the country and giving us a great deal of trouble. We built several stockades and blockhouses along the R.R. for eight or ten miles each way, and had several narrow escapes from being taken prisoners while located there.
Huntsville, is noted for having the finest spring of pure water in the south; the spring comes out from under the main part of the city from the side of the Mountain with a stream of water 35 or 40 feet wide, where it runs down the mountain side and winds it way to the Tennessee River about 12 miles distance.
While at Huntsville, one of our men belonging to Capt. Loomis's battery was killed by accident, by pulling his gun out of an ambulance by the muzzle; the gun was discharged and killed him instantly. We remained here until in Sept. 1862, when the rebel General Brackston Bragg made his raid into and through Kentucky. We marched after him by the way of Nashville, Tenn., and after reaching Kentucky the rebels turned upon us and a hard battle ensued, during which my company lost two of its men, Wm. P. Camp and Amos Camoran both died instantly; Camoran' head being shot off by a cannon ball. The battle Pearyville, Ky., begun at two o'clock P.M. on October 8th, 1862, and continued until dark when it seemed that the Federals were overpowered, but both sides considered it something of a draw. That night both regiments (rebel and union) with flags of truce and torches met on the battle-field, and collected their wounded, and all next day were encouraged in burying their dead, which numbered up in the thousands.
We followed after Braggs through Kentucky to Crab Orchard, near the corner of the state, near Cumberland Gap, where the corner of N. Carolina, and Tenn., join, we then retraced our steps through Kentucky by way of Somerset, Lebanon, down the Roland Fork River, to New Market; then to Glasglow and to Bowling Green Ky.
When we struck the Salt River at New Market the regiment was paid off to four months pay, $52.00 to the man. The sutlers all came up with their supplies, and we could buy all necessaries and write letters home for the first time since we left Louisville. We had a two-day rest here, and having plenty of money we felt that we were glad we were still alive.
While at New Market we received a lot of new recruits from home, and that night being the 25th of October 1862, it came a heavy snow and we had no tents; the snow was at least four inches deep, but it soon left us. Some of the boys bought new boots at $5.00 per pair and we soon renewed our march; after the first half day march you could see the "new boot" boys drop out, haul off their boots, their feet blistered and offer their boots at half price and many of a poor fellow had to wrap his bare feet in blankets until he could get shoes.
When we arrived at Bowling Green, Ky., General. Wm. S. Rosencrans was put in command of our Army and General. Don Carols Buell was relieved of our command we then marched to Tyree Springs, near Nashville, Tenn. Camped there three weeks, and late in December we marched through Nashville, and camped out on the Granny White Pike. We gave our camp the name Andrew Jackson, as his home was once in this city. We drilled and scouted the country around for quite a while, and got ourselves in good trim for another fight; on the 26th of December, 1862 we broke camp and marched down what is now Hardinsburgh Pike, and turned towards Murfreesboro, Tenn., which place we reached on the night of Dec. 30th, 1862.
On the morning of the 31st at daylight we were ordered to fall in line and had to double-quick march to reinforce our right wing in command of General Cook, who had been surprised that morning at four o'clock by the rebels, and quite a number taked prisoners. This taken place West of Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad at a place known as the Cedar Thicket; and before
we had our breakfast. It had been raining and was very foggy until up in the day and as we entered the thicket we ran to a large gang of wild turkeys, and Wm. T. Garrison, of my Company D. caught one of these turkeys while the bullets from the enemy's guns were flying fast and thick about him; there were several turkeys caught thus while we were forming our line of battle. In the West side of the Cedar Thicket we engaged the enemy on their left, and held them in check until about three o'clock p.m. when they were reinforced and we were compelled to retreat back through the Cedars to the Railroad where we first started in the morning.
While we were in the Cedars we were employed as skirmishers and were facing West, and the sun came out and was shinning in our faces, so that we could not see the enemy, but they could see us and had a good range on our line. At this place I got a rebel ball through the cape of my overcoat, and the same bullet killed my file-closer, James Hamilton of my Company. As we retreated and just as we reached the East side of the Cedars we met General Rosencrans, he called to Col. Shanklin, to know what regiment we were, and was told that it was the 42nd Indiana; he said to the Colonel, to go back into the Cedars in another place just for twenty minutes an then he would relieve us so that we might get our dinner. We about-faced and filed into the woods and laid down and in a few minutes the 38th Indiana came running back over our regiment, and it proved that the whole corp of Hardee's Rebels were making a desperate charge on our entire line. That twenty minutes cost our regiment about 150 of our men and ten of my Company D were taken prisoner including myself; they were: Captain Jno. Eizeman and Lieut. J.C. Schameyhorne, Jno A. Hevron, Wm. R. Wilcox. Geo. Gentry, W.H. Garrison, Jacob Kruger, Jno. Oliver, A.J. Williams, and F.M. Carlisle were all taken to Libbey Prison, Virginia. We were run down South to Pollard Station Alabama, and then back to Atlanta Ga., and to Chattanooga, Tenn., and camped at Dalton, Ga., where I traded my overcoat to a young rebel for a new blanket, and was given $10.00 to boot, so that I could buy something to eat, as we went from two to three days at a time without drawing anything to eat.
While camped at Dalton, Ga., we were not guarded very closely, in all there were about 1,000 of us prisoners, one captain, two Lieutenants and ten guards, we were lying near a train of freight cars which were loaded with supplies for the rebels camps near by, we crawled under the cars and broke open the back doors and a few of us at a time would go in while some would keep watch, and cut holes in boxes of meat and etc., and take liberally there from I secured a haversack of flour from a barrel and carried the same to Libbey Prison, while there after caring it until it was almost black with dirt I rented a skillet on the halves and baked the flour into a tough bread which helped appease the appetite to some extent.
We were shipped by rail to Richmond, Va. by the way of Washington, Tenn., in the Lynch River, where we found our men had scouted the country in that part of East Tenn., and had burned the railroad bridge and we prisoners had to wade this river which was very swift and cold, and from three to four feet deep oh! How cold it was, it was in the middle of January, 1863, we had to walk ten miles to another river called Clinch River, the bridge here also had been burned by our cavalry, but it was too deep for us to ford, here a crossing was made of logs pinned together. At this place we had to wait for a train to come after us and we had nothing to eat for two days, but the Rebel Captain was a good-hearted man and he divided the whole Command of us prisoners into squads of five men each and gave the head of each squad $5.00 and gave orders to go in all directions into the country, to the farm houses and buy something to eat, and if we could not buy, take it and return, as that was the only chance to keep from starving.
Those that were sick remained at the river until those that were sent out returned with some relief, as I had been sick for four or five days I had been missed my grub that had issued at Knoxville, Tenn., and by this time I was getting pretty weak and hungry, I was given permission by the Captain who had charge of us to go out alone to see if I could find anything to eat, while on the road I met a man on a horse and he was amazed to see a Yankee soldier alone in that part of the confederacy, he halted me and quizzed me very closely in regards to the news of the Federal Army, and about the battle of Murfreesboro, and how many prisoners we had lost there, but when he found out that I was a genuine Federal Yankee, he gave me a $2.00 bill and told me that he was one of our scouts belonging to Capt. Carters Bridge Burners, and that I had probably saved him from falling into hands of our guards, and becoming a prisoner with us as he was being watched very closely by the rebel citizens in that country. He turned off the road and bade me good-bye. (I wish I knew his name, but I didn't remember it.)
I traveled about two miles up on the side of a mountain, where I came to a little log cabin, I called and found one of our boys already there, luckily the lady was a Union lady, her husband was lying out in the mountains in hiding from rebel guerrillas, and she said she did not know when the word would come to her of big capture. She made me a good-old-fashion dinner of cornbread and pork and a cup of coffee, which was the last coffee she had. Well you can guess that I did justice to that dinner, for which I paid her $1.00 and a thousand thanks. She filled my haversack full of cornpone; I then returned to the river and reported to the Captain, and made him a present of a piece of cornpone which he accepted with many thanks. By four o'clock all of our boys had returned, some with plenty of eatables and some with nothing only what they had eaten that night late we boarded a train for Lynchburgh. Va., where we landed next day late in the evening, here I bought $5.00 worth of meat and bread and a pie, which myself and Comrade Jno. Hearion, ate all at one meal. One pie cost $1.00, bread and meat in proportion. We next landed at Richmond, Va., where we were placed in a large tobacco warehouse owned by a man by the name of Libby and his son; thus it is called Libby Prison.
Here I will give a brief description of Libby Prison: It was originally a large tobacco warehouse built on the edge of the canal which is cut through the length of the shoals in the James River, so as to allow small steamers to pass up and down the river. This canal is walled with stone; the West end of this prison is resting on this wall for a part of its foundation. The building is a three story one, ground floor and two floors above, I was in the South room 20 x 200 feet, on the second floor, the East end facing Water and First Street, there were six rooms in this building. My Col. Jas. G. Shanklin, formerly of Evansville, Indiana, and Jon C, Scameyhorn, my 1st Lieutenant, with Col. Straight of the 51st, Indiana Volunteers, were kept on the ground floor, just below my room, where afterwards Col. Straight engineered a tunnel from his room East, and under Water St., and came out in the yard of an old negro's residence, which liberated about 400 officers. Straight and Scameyhorne made good their escape by the aid of this old "darkey". This Libby Prison was well equipped for a prison, it was bounded on the West by the James River and Canal and well supplied with good water by the waterworks, all the filth and gleanings of the building was slushed into the canal, the building has since been taken down and moved to Chicago Ill. and rebuilt on a speculation scheme, but I think it failed and has since been torn down and gone out of existence.
Our fare consisted of a very scanty ration of five ounces of very good wheat bread and two ounces of very bad, partly spoiled beef, at 10 o'clock a.m. and five ounces of bread and one pint of soup thickened with a little rice or peas at 4 o'clock p.m. that was all we had unless some that had money could buy it. It did keep us from starving, but it kept us always hungry. Our daily conversation was what we would have to eat when we were out of this awful place, our whole talk was for something to eat and to get out of prison. The vermin was so annoying that we would sit with our shirts off as long as we could stand the cold in search of them and then they would almost eat us up.
I volunteered several times to go down in town to the cook house to help carry our grub, in order to get a little fresh air, which was worth a great deal to me as well as to see some of the city. There was never any trouble to get volunteers for this duty, and all would watch for this one chance. The time in prison was taken up in all kind of games and singing and debating on the time of the ending of the war, and what we would do with the negroes and as to how we would not equalize with them.
We staid here until the 5th day of February, 1863, when we were paroled and sent to City Point, Virginia, to be turned over to our men in the Federal Army. We were here counted off like so many head of sheep or cattle and were receipted for just as that many head of stock. We looked down to where a flag of truce boat lay in the James River, with a large white flag on it and also the old Stars and Stripes afloat on it, and such a yell as you probably will never hear, went up from the enraptured throng of paroled Union Soldiers; we felt like we had found some of God' s people again. We were given plenty to eat and were sent down to Fortress Monroe, Va., where we had a look at the big blockade said to be at eight miles long and eight mile wide, at the mouth of the James River and the neck of Chesapeake Bay; we were again given plenty to eat and then we crossed the Bay, to Annapolis, Maryland. When we got into the middle of the bay, it looked like a large umbrella stretched over us, you could see all around in every direction until this umbrella would close out the sight. We landed at Annapolis, Md., and there were given new outfits of clothing and then sent to the bath-house at the Military Academy, where we had to shed out old clothes and have our hair shingled close and take a good warm bath with plenty of soap. When we came out of the bathroom our own comrades did not know us. We had undergone a wonderful change and felt like living again.
We were sent out to the parole camp and remained there until the 18th of March, 1863, we then taken a ship to Baltimore, Md. where we landed the next day, we did not get anything to eat here and our Commander telegraphed to Pittsburgh, Pa. that we would be there at twelve thirty p.m. that night, and there were 900 prisoners who had not had anything to eat since we left Annapolis, that were starving. When we arrived at Pittsburgh, we were met at the depot by a large delegation of citizens and were divided into three squads and marched to three large churches, where was in waiting a fine table loaded with the very best of eatables that skillful hands could prepare, we ate until we were filled with all that we could well stow away. The rest of the night was taken up by short speeches and good singing, and good music by the church choir. At daylight our train was ready to take us to Columbus, Ohio. We gave three cheers to the good ladys and friends of Pittsburgh, and with a many of a "God Bless You" we left for our train. We arrived at Columbus, at five p.m. that day and marched four miles out to Camp Chase, where we remained until the first of April.
While at Camp Chase, John Allbacker, (of Evansville, Ind.) and myself went out in the country and taken a job of cutting cordwood, so as to earn a little money for necessary purposes, while we were at work the camp had orders for all of the INDIANA BOYS to get ready TO GO TO THEIR OWN STATE, our friends did not know just where to find us and came very near leaving us out in the country, buy my friend Herion hunted until he found us and on Sunday-morning, April 1st, 1863, we boarded the train for Indianapolis, Ind., which place we made without incident. On Monday-morning the Col., in command of the camp gave orders that if any of us paroled prisoners that had landed the day before, had money to go home on, he would grant us a ten day furlough. "Well you can guess that I don’t cut cordwood for nothing" so I made application for a ten day furlough, and started home that evening; I reach home all right, and on Sunday evening I went to see my "best girl" - and stayed all night too! That ten days passed off to soon, and as I knew that we could not go to the front until we were exchanged, I lengthened my furlough until I saw in the newspaper that all prisoners of war that had been taken prior to the first of March were exchanged by order of the War Department, which included me. I soon saw all my friends and time went off so fast I concluded to get married and she was willing (and didn't know any better) and we just got married --- that was all! I married Miss Nancy A. Garrison, on the 27 day of April, 1863, the "sweetest girl in Indiana", and when I got notice of my exchange I did not know whether I could go back or not, but I concluded that I could stand it, and I lived over it all right.
I got back to Indianapolis, Ind. on the 25th day of May, 1863, and on the 27th day of June we all started South buy the way of Louisville, Ky., and to Nashville, Tenn., and found my regiment at Murfreesboro, Tenn., in three miles of where I had been captured just six months before. The regiment had been building forts and had the place well fortified. We soon started South on the Tullahoma Campaign, and on the 16th day of June we found the enemy the 2nd day out. We commenced to skirmish and fight every day until 4th day of July, 1863. and it rained every day and night during that campaign, except the 3rd day of July, it was sunshiny all that day. We had quite a battle at Elks River that day, but that night it rained again. On the 4th of July we went into camp at Deckerd Station, on the Nashville & Chattanooga R R., where we remained until late in August, when we made another short move, to within five miles of Stevenson, Ala., but before we left Deckerd Station, the regiment while in camp held several court-martials, that is several of the boys who had been guilty of any sort of crime were tried and convicted by a command of commissioned officers, and Willis Brown of Company K of the 42nd Indiana Volunteers was charged with running away at the battle of Murfreesboro, and was sentenced to have his head shaved to the skin and drummed out of camp under guard; and to serve the remainder of his three years in the Military Prison at Nashville, Tenn., which sentence was carried out to the letter; as he was drummed from the Brigade headquarters, our regiment had to march out in line as the guards passed by. One of my Company's member by the name of E. L. Skelton, was sentenced to thirty days hard labor at Brigade headquarters on bread and water; this sentence was passed on him for being found asleep at the post and two months pay taken from him, as he was a splendid good soldier we boys made up half of his money and gave back to him by donation, and when he got to Brigade headquarters we would slip his rations to him every night, so he has as much to eat as we did and his water extra.
While we were at Stevenson, Ala., our regiment cut a lot of cordwood for the railroad, and scouted the country far and near, but we were forbidden to take or molest any private property of any kind, but some of the boys would slip out side of the pickets and visit the chicken roosts very often. One morning while on picket guard, William T. Garrison and myself heard chickens crowing about a half mile down the Railroad, as we had the countersign, "we lit out" and found that they were up in a beech tree; Will being a climber, went up after them, and would hand them down to me and I would take off their heads and sack them until our sacks would hold no more, and we carried two along in our hands. The old man of the place awakened and said to the old lady that he thought there was something after the chickens, so he opened to door and looked out as he heard some one, I brought my gun up and said to him "what time of night is it?" then he saw us and he closed the door in a hurry. We thought we had plenty for our picket post and we went in and as Garrison and I had been up most of the night we went to sleep and left the boys to do the cleaning and cooking for breakfast; E.M. Skelton and Jon M Nixon, did the scalding and cleaning; they came to an old hen that had no feathers on her breast and they couldent agree just what to do with her; she was one of the two that had not been sack so they held a court of inquiry as to what should be done with the old hen, and finally they decided to write a pass and tie it to her neck and pass her through the picket line and it was put on Nixon to see that she went through the lines and Nixon reported that when he set her free she flew down the railroad as though she knew that she had been tried for crime and had been acquitted!
While we camped at this place we had lots of fun and plenty to eat; nearby there were several little log cabins on the edge of Sand Mountain near our camp and a narrow path passed up the side of the mountain lead to these cabins; and in one of them lived a widow with a grown daughter, near this house there was a hole or basin about twenty feet deep and about thirty feet across the top of it, in this basin grew a Hickory tree, and the top of the tree came just above the surface of the ground, and in the tree roosted a large brood of young chickens just large enough to fry, with the old hen. Will T. Garrison, and I made this discovery just at dark one evening, and Will says "I am going to have those chickens tonight" we had Jon M. Nixon pass himself off on the old lady as a Captain, and a single man, and he was to court the girl, while myself and Will got the old hen and chickens. We got a long pole and reached it to the fork of the tree and Will crawled out into the tree and would hand them down one by one until all the young ones were handed down, but the old hen was higher up and it was very dangerous to get upon the small limbs, I pleaded with Will to let the old hen go for luck, as I knew she should squawk and give us away, but Will said "I'll have that old hen if I knew I would fall to the bottom of this basin "he reached up and got her by the foot, and here he came with the old hen a squaking and we "lit out" down the path past the spring and at the spring we shut off her squalling, and awaited the results; out came the old lady with her light and to her chicken roost; and to her sorrow she found that every one of her chickens were gone; she called to the Captain and said "Some of those theiven Yankees have stolen the last chicken that I have on the place - - - even the old hen which I thought was safe from all danger in the top of that tree in that big deep hole here they put a pole in the fork of that bush. I do wish they had of fell in the hole so they would have never got out - - - Oh the scoundrels - - - and that is the last chicken I have on the place." and the "Captain" he tried to console her by his sympathy, and said he would make a search for them the next day and have the guilty parties punished for their conduct; Nixon played his part all right until just then he heard someone give a low whistle; and them she let out on the captain saying "yes and you helped to plan this trick I know" well the next day we dined on fried chicken for breakfast and dinner.
While here at this place several of our Company taken a trip across the mountain to see what we could find, we came to a farm and several grown girls were there; they claimed that we were the first soldiers that they had ever seen; and declared that they did not know that there was a war going on. They said that they had been to Stevenson one time only, and to church once or twice down on the other side of the mountain at a place where the people held meeting some times. They lived within six miles of a railroad, but had never been there but one time. These people made everything that they lived on and all their clothes were manufactured at home by hand.
On the 30th day of August, we broke camp and started on the Chickamauga Campaign. We crossed the Tennessee River at Power's Ferry, below Stevenson, and marched south until we reached Lookout Mountain; it was very high and steep. We had to take ropes and hitch on in front of the horses and stack our guns and all of us had to help push and pull all of the artillery and wagons up the mountain. We made slow progress; we would work all day and could look back at night and could see where we had camped the night before, but we at last reached the top at a place called Stevens Gap, and here we had a considerable fight with some of the Rebel Cavalry, we captured one prisoner and was having a lot of fun out of him, when he proved to be one of our spies by the name of Pike, well known in army history as Corporal Pike. It was his message that kept us from getting into a trap that the Rebel General Braggs had set for us.
Pike had been with Genl. Bragg's men for several days, and when we attacked them he made this way into our regiment and reported to our Genl., the strength of the enemy in our front. We fell back four or five miles and waited until more our army came up, and then we moved on over to the East side of Lookout Mountain, and marched down into what is called Mackelmoor's Cove, this is a level basin of land between two rough mountains, or a flat place surrounded by hills, here we camped near crawfish springs. We then were move acrossed the West prong of the Chickamauga River near a camp of a part of the Confederate Army. The river was very deep and we had to cross on two hued logs. The 17th Indiana Mounted Infantry had been over there just ahead of our regiment, and were at a double log house. The man of the house ran out and said that no "Damned Yankee" could come in his house, where upon he was ordered to surrender, which he refused to do, and said that he would not surrender to any "Damned Yankee" at that time he was on the North porch, and one of the 17th boys fired; killing him instantly. He was still lying there when we relieved them. I stood guard all night at this house in the South yard. His family all left the house and were gone. We remained there all that day until about three o'clock P.M. on the 19th of September, when we recrossed the stream and took our place in the brigade. We were sent over there to guard a ford to keep the Rebs from crossing at the ford, I never saw or heard harder fighting than was done at this place. We laid on our guns all that night, and the next morning Sunday, the 20th of September, we marched due North for three quarters of a mile, when we struck the enemy in strong force; we threw down a fence and made temporary works, and put out a strong skirmish line, but there was not one of them that ever came back; all were killed and captured, and those that were captured starved to death in Andersonville prison in Georgia.
We fought Breckenrige Corps until we became cut off from our main support, when we were ordered to cut our way out if we could. I had my hat shot off my head. Our regiment lost fifty men there in that many minutes. We fell back for considerable distance, and took charge and helped to get the ammunition train back and up the bluff, so that we wouldn't lose it. We taken our place with our Brigade, and formed line of battle at near Rosevil-Gap, and met the Rebel force at that place, said to be part of Pat Cleburne's men. We held them in check until late in the night of the 21st, when we fell back into Chattanooga, and here we went to work with a will, building forts and digging rifle pits. The enemy threw shells into our lines constantly, but the boys were always on the dodge, and but few lives were lost in this way.
We were so completely whipped at Chickamauga, and cowed that our most dashing Generals such as General Rousseau, and Jeff. C. Davis, were up and down the lines constantly giving us good cheering news, and would make bright and encouraging speeches to us, and sent out barrels of whiskey to stimulate the boys, and if Braggs had of known that we were so badly whipped, he could have destroyed our whole Army at that time; but in two days we had our works so strong that it was out of the question to move us out. We continue to fortify until we made Chattanooga, a complete network with deep pits and forts. The enemy here had our army almost surrounded; their lines rested on the Tennessee River above and below our Army, and our lines of communications of river and railroad were cut off from us and the country was so hilly and broken that we had to go sixty five miles around the mountain to the railroad with teams for our supplies, and often the rebels would make a raid on our teamsters and capture them, and kill what mules and horses they could not take off with them; and would burn our wagons and we came near starving, and thousands of our horses and mules did starve to death.
While we were camped in those forts and breast-works, we were shelled every day by Bragg's batteries, said to be 50 pieces, but we were so well entranched that they could not do us much harm. We were so closely confined in our works and shelled by our enemy that we had to do most of our cooking after night, and our rations finally became so short we had none to cook. There were five days that we did not have a thing to eat but one-half pint of shelled corn to the man. We lived that five days on parched corn.
On the 20th of November, General Grant and Sherman, with General Hooker began to arrive to our support, and on the 24th Genl. Hooker's force appeared on the West side of Lookout Mountain, and Genl. Sherman on the North end of Missionary Ridge, and commenced to shoot the rebels off. Lookout Mountain was just below us, and come up to the river, and Missionary Ridge was East also, But up against the river; we were under Genl. Thomas and held center and Chattanooga Valley. At five o'clock p.m. on the 24th of November, 1863, we sailed out of our works and went to Hooker's relief in the North end of Lookout Mountain. His men had exhausted their ammunination, and just as our brigade got in line in front of Hooker's men the rebs made a desperate charge on us; we lost eight men killed, in my regiment and 16 wounded. It was on this Mountain that General Joseph Hooker fought the "battle above the clouds". During the night the rebel General Hardee made his escape and retreated to Missionary Ridge, where in the 25th we followed him; all this time Sherman's Army was having a hard battle on the North end of Missionary Ridge, and at 4 o'clock p.m. the six signal guns from Fort Wood on Orchard Knob, fired six shots, as a signal for our whole army to advance on Missionary Ridge, at a double quick step. It seemed that the enemy thought that it was impossible for our force to ascend the ridge at that point, as it was so steep and rocky, and they did not think that we meant to charge on them at that place. We were very near to their first line of works before they really apprehended our purpose, then we were so close to them that they could not bring their cannons to bear upon us, and their shells would go over us and burst in our rear, and would do no harm. We had such good aim and an up hill shot that we killed quite a number of the enemy, and they were so completely surprised at our troops to make such a dash at such a well fortified hill, that they invariably shot over us. My company had one man killed at this place, J. S. Crow, and one wounded E.M. Skelton. We climbed up the steep side of the Ridge by holding scrub bushes, and zig-zagging until we got to their first line of rifle pits, and our aim was so accurate that the enemy had to tuck their heads down and give themselves up as prisoners; they went streaming to the bottom of the hill with only a Corporal's guard and drived to our forts by their own guns. We here paused only a few minutes and directed our attention to the forts on top of the Ridge, which were well manned by the Rebel Genl. Breckenridge's Crops. They made a desperate effort to keep us down under the hill, but they too shot too high and when we fixed our bayonets on our guns they saw that we were determined to come, and by this time Hooker's men had worked their way around to their rear, and as our batteries from Fort Wood and Orchard Knob were sending their shells over us into their lines, O how awful was the storm of lead and cannon shells they could stand it no longer, and all those that had not been killer or wounded were taken prisoners, except some few that ran away.
When we arrived at the top of Missionary Ridge, our work was complete, and such a scene as was open to our view. We were so inspired by our victory that we could restrain no longer, and gave vent to our feelings by cheer after cheer until we made ourselves hoarse. We had taken Missionary Ridge with all its forts and forty pieces of artillery, and we had taken about eight thousand (8,000) prisoners.
Our days work was done, and we made fires and cooked coffee and remained on this Ridge until morning, when we took up the march after the remaining and retreating rebels. our Brigade was led that day by General. Wm. P. Carlin, of the Regular Army. We cut across the country through the woods, and headed the enemy off on the road just above Grayville, Ga., a little railroad town on the Chickamauga River. When we came close to the wagon road where the enemy's trains and artillery was moving, we lay down and awaited until the 2nd Brigade came up on our right. While laying here three rebel soldiers came along a by-road, which we were laying across, they were talking very loud and came right up to us before they knew that we were there; they were going to some old neighbors, to stay all night; two of them were going to talk to their girls, while the other was going to his home close by, and just as they had it understood, that the first two were to come by his mother's house and wake him up at four o'clock in the morning, they had come within twenty feet of us, when we halted them, and they jumped like they had been shot, and wanted to know who we were, we told them to surrender, that we were Yanks; they threw down their guns and came slowly. We told them that we disliked very much to keep them away from their girls, mothers, and friends but there was no choice in war, and we did not think that they could talk to their girls that night.
In a few minutes general signal was given for all to make a general charge, and we all went for the train and artillery and captured the whole train of fifty wagons and three pieces of artillery and a lot of ammunition. We then deployed across the road and scattered out through the woods and marched by a flank movement East to Grayville, about one-half mile. John Nixon, Ben T. Simpson and myself were together, we came on to six rebels lying in the woods asleep; this was about ten o'clock in the night, we secured their guns and told them to get up, which they seemed to pay no attention to, we then kicked them a little and demanded them to get up, but they only said “Go to Hell”, but when we got them fully awake we told them that we were Yanks, and they soon realized that fact, and said this beats "Hell"; we thought we would get one night good sleep, but the "damned-Yanks" are everywhere. Our Command in this way picked up several prisoners in their sleep that night. When we arrived at Grayville, we turned over our prisoners to the guard, where the rest of the prisoners were kept, some five or six hundred of them, we here made coffee and camped until morning.
That night up the river road one of the boys named James Bowlin, who was on picket duty was captured and murdered by a rebel Lieutenant Roberts, formerly of Owensboro, Ky., we learned afterwards that he belonged to the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry of the Rebel army; There had been four James Bowlin in our regiment, all cousins, and this was the third one killed, our whole regiment taken an oath that is we ever should take a Lieutenant Roberts a prisoner, we would hang him to the first limb, and some time afterwards while on the Atlanta Campaign, the other James Bowlin was killed.
We followed on to Ringold Gap, where the enemy made a stand, and fought them for two days, but their position was a good one, and we gave up the chase and returned to Chattanooga, and on our way back John Nixon of my Company, and self, captured a rebel soldier as we had cut across the country to see if we could find something to eat, as we came onto him he was very much surprised, and remarked that this does "beat Hell". He told us that he had been taken the third time that day, but had managed to escape, he was in his old neighborhood, and was trying to get home to see his wife and children. He pleaded so hard for his freedom that we told him that if he would direct us to a place where we could get a good supper that we would let him off, as we did not want to bother with him anyway, and he pointed over the way and said that there we could get a square meal at a house just in sight, as the old lady had two sons in the Northern Army, and one in the Rebel Army, and that she could not turn either away, and that he lived close by. He bade us God speed and made off through the woods, for fear he would be picked up again. We called at this old mother of the divided sons, although several of our Army had proceeded us, and the old lady of the house gave us a fine supper of hot cornpone and fresh pork, and burnt meal coffee, and we were in a fine shape to do justice to it, and did it all right.
Night over-took us here and we were about twelve miles from camp, but we made good time until we got in, at eleven O'clock that night. We loaded ourselves down with ear corn as we went through corn fields that evening and it was a God send to us, as it proved afterwards, for every train for four or five days brought in nothing but oats, and hay for the starving horses and mules. We lived on our corn until finally the cracker line was opened, which made us feel like that many prisoners let out of prison. We had been cooped up in Chattanooga ever since the 22nd day of November. It was said that the Rebel Cheiftain, "Old Jeff Davis" had stood upon the spur of Lookout Mountain and looked down upon us at the time of his greatest promise to his cause and exultingly predicted our total destruction and ruin, but in this the Confederate President was at fault, as he was in a great many things.
By this time our boys began to be themselves again. Our hospital supplies and new clothing began to arrive every day, and plenty of provisions and feed for our starving horses and mules.
While we were cooped up in Chattanooga, our Government had built six new steamboats at Bridgeport, just twenty miles below us, and as soon as Lookout Mountain was taken they steamed up the river loaded to their utmost with hospital supplies and stores of all kinds, and the sight of those steamboats and Railroad trains all coming to our relief gave us a new lease on life and we soon forgot our starved condition. We received orders to go up the Tennessee River about a hundred miles to guard a supply train to Charleston, Tenn., to Burnsides Army, who had been starving like ourselves. It was the last week in December and the mud was six inches deep in many places, and we did not want to take the trip, a few of our boys had been talking of reinlisting as Veterans, and as our Adjutant was a Recruiting Officer, some few of us offered to reinlist if he would excuse us from this trip to Charleston. John Nixon, E. M. Skelton and myself offered to reinlist and he promised us that we should be relieved of the trip; that was about seven o'clock at night before we were to start next day. We began to get others to go up to the office, and at ten o'clock we had seventeen members. It so pleased O. M. Dorsey, our Adjutant, that he promised me a position as soon as we were mustered in as Veterans, that encouraged us and the Adjutant called out the regiment and made a short speech to the boys, and explained to them that we would be allowed thirty days furlough home, and $400 bounty, and all of our back pay and two months pay in advance when we were mustered in as Veterans Volunteers and in three days the whole regiment was reinlisted, and the 88th Indiana Regiment had to take the trip to Charleston in our place, and they never did get done cursing us for it, as they were young troopers and could not reinlist.
On the 1st day of January, 1864, a cold New Year's day, we were mustered in as Veterans Volunteers, and in a few days were paid off in full started for Indianapolis. We arrived at Louisville and stayed there three days, I suppose to give notice to Governor O. P. Morton, of our State, of our coming, and to be ready to receive us in royal style. Anyway when we landed at Indianapolis, we were met and marched to the Soldier's Home, where a fine dinner awaited us; we were provided with a place to sleep, and the next day we were marched in front of the State House, and there received by our Governor and others to welcome us to the City. Several fine orators were present and made us thrice welcome.
We marched to the Arsanel and stowed away our guns, and on the 30th day of January, 1864, we received our furlough for thirty days, when we started for our several homes. We were soon at home to see our wives and friends. It was very muddy and cold; some of us laughed and some cried and some shouted and a good old time we all had one more. OH! but the time passed off to soon, and on the 1st day of March, I started back to Princeton to meet my regiment, and on the 3rd day of March, arrived at Indianapolis, and remained only a short time when we started for the front; we went by the way of Madison; there we took a steamboat to Louisville Ky., thence by rail to Nashville, Tenn. We made our home at the old Zolacoffer House, while there. This was a very large brick building erected by the Rebel Genl. Zolacoffer, who was killed at Mill Springs, Ky., early in the war; said to be by a Chaplin of our Army. This house had 365 rooms in it, one for each day of the year. When we left Nashville, we could not get transportation and had to march back to Chattanooga, on foot, we landed there the first week in April, and there we soon resumed our old vacation; built a nice camp and as heretofore promised by Adjutant Dorsey, I was first made a Corporal and soon after made a Sergeant.
Our Regiment there put on a detail to erect a National Cemetery, containing fifty acres on what is known as Orchard Knob, at Chattanooga, Tenn. After pulling out the stumps with block and tackle, we dug the first graves and buried the first soldiers in that Cemetery. It is one of the finest cemeteries and has the finest location in the United States. We took up the dead with grab hooks, that had been buried in the winter, and Fall before, without coffins or boxes. It was an undesirable job. It was days work for a man to dig a grave and cover up his man. We had to dig three and one-half feet straight down, 3x6 feet, and if you were an expert you could get through in a half day; I always worked with a little Irishman, an expert with a spade, we would help each other and would get our gruesome task finished about one o'clock p.m. while it would take some all day. Some days it would come our turn to take up the dead bodies that had been buried from the battle of Chickamauga, in September before. In taking up the dead we were furnished all the whiskey we wanted to drink; I have seen many a man lose his dinner. We worked at this until in May, and on the 6th day we broke camp, and left Chattanooga, for the last time. On the 7th day of May we joined our Brigade at Grayville, Ga., and taken our places in our first division of the 14th Corps. Our Brigade was Commanded by Wm. P. Carlin, and called the First Brigade of the First Division, of the 14th Army Corps; Richard Johnson commanded our Division, and John M. Parmer of Illinois commanded the 14th Corps until just in front of Atlanta, Ga., he resigned and Jefferson C. Davis of Indiana, took his place and remained in command of the Corps until the end of the war.
On the 7th day of May we had a little fight just past Ringold Gap, near Tunnel Hill, and further on at Rocky Face, some times called Buzzard Roost, we tried hard to make a logment somewhere on the guarded place, but to know avail. We had several men wounded here. We then marched South through Calhoun, Ga., on through Snake Creek Gap, where Wheeler with a large Cavalry force tried to check us, but we pushed then out of the way and on the Resaca, Ga., we went, where on the 14th day of May we struck the enemy in a fortified and strong force in a fort on Camp Creek, where the 42nd Indiana and the 2nd Ohio Regiments made a desperate charge on the fort. They were compelled to fall Back at night very badly cut up by the enemy. We here lost one man killed instantly, and six wounded, and two of my company died of their wounds in a short time, they were -- 2nd Lieut. Henderson McAsams, as brave a man as ever drew a sword, and a little Irishman, Michael Folley. This was on Saturday, and on Sunday our brigade moved North a quarter of a mile. Two Regiments at a time would take it turn about, form a good view of the rebel fort, which was in an open field in the valley on the railroad, and well built of heavy logs and dirt. Our men were on a high elevation and at a distance of three hundred and fifty yards, would take aim at the top of the fort and continually kept up a steady fire all day; you could see the dust fly up at all times, and so constantly that the enemy could not stick their heads above the works to return the fire. We thus shot 10,000 rounds of ammunition at the fort, and our artillery of six guns kept up a steady fire on the same fort until dark. The enemy only discharged one cannon in return all that day; when dark came all ceased firing, and the enemy called over to our boys and wanted to know what regiment did the shooting, saying, "We beat Hell to shoot". We informed them that it was the 88th Indiana and the 15th Ky., they told us that they were also the 15th Kentucky Confederate; that we had been shooting at all day; both Regiment were well acquainted with each other some of them lived in the same neighborhood, and they kept up a long conversation until late in the night, by halloing back and forth to each other, and they would ask about some of their regiment that they knew had enlisted from their vicinity, and in some cases there were brothers on each side belonging to the 15th Kentucky, both North and South.
At midnight the rebels fired a volley at us and then left, and next morning we went over and examined the fort and the effect that our guns had on it. We found that in very short time we would have demolished the fort. The next day the 17th we marched down the river about five miles, where we had to ford the stream; it was about six hundred yards wide; we striped off our clothing and swung them with our ammunition on our guns and carried them high about our heads, the water coming up to our armpits, but this was the speediest way to overtake the rebels, which we did at Pumpkin Vine Creek, near New Hope Church, Ga., and near Dallas where we had seven days and night of steady fighting. It was at the headwaters of the creek, and ground was very broken and ditchy. The enemy had already selected their position; we were on the extreme left wing of our corps and we had to get very close to them in order to have a position that we could hold at all. They reached there and formed their lines before we did, but we came so close to them that they would throw stones at us in order to get us to move so they could see us and if we made a move or shook a bush they would pour a volley into us.
On our right was placed the 21st Wisconsin’s Regiment, which had about four hundred raw Indians in it, and every evening about five p. m. the Rebs would make a charge on the Indians, and they could not stand the Southern yell, and would break and run back to our breastworks. The result was it left us to fight bothways, and we lost some of our boys on account of those "cussed Indians." Our Colonel appealed to the 2nd Brigade for a regiment to take the place of the 21st Wisconsin, and the 25th Ohio was sent to us; they were armed with repeating rifles and shot five times without loading. The rebs made their onslaught as usual about five p.m., but when they met the Ohio boys they soon found out that the Indians had been relieved, and the result was quite different. We captured several of the Jonnies that evening, and they wanted to know what had happened, as they said those fellows "beat all hell to shoot".
On the 10th of June, we advance toward Lost Mountain, and new Lost Mountain is where the noted Lieut. Genl. Pork was killed, by one of our batteries; he was a leading General in the Confederate Army. Up to this time in June the losses of our part of the Army was as follows: 5,747 men and 67 officers killed, and 259 wounded, and eight missing, and 873 enlisted men killed, 4,300 wounded and 40 missing. The Army captured 742 prisoners including 37 officers. The 42nd Indiana comes in for her share of all of this, except under the head of the missing, we had none.
In the operations around and in the front of Kennesaw Mountain, we had some very hard fighting, and several desperate hand to hand encounters and on 27th of June, Sherman ordered a charge all along the entire line, and it proved one of his greatest mistakes of the Atlanta Campaign, as it was a slaughter, and we gained nothing, but paid dearly for his mistake. We lost thousands, killed and wounded, and failed to carry any part of the enemy's corks, but on the night of July 3rd 1864, the rebels fell back and passed Marietta, Ga., and on the 4th we over-taken them in full force, and had a hard battle with them six miles South of town. Rebel J.E. Johnson fell back to the Chattahoochee River within ten miles of the city of Atlanta and here after day and days of hard fighting all along the line since the 6th day of may, we rested for the first time on the banks of the Great Chattahoochee River. It was the first Sunday for a hundred days that the men had rested for more than just a few minutes at a time. Our Chaplain, O.H. Chapman, seeing his opportunity, called the men together, and there midst the roar of artillery resounding for miles to the right and to the left of us and in front of us, hymns of praise were sung, and a short address by the Chaplain delivered and prayers offered by Comrades to All-Mighty God, THE COMMANDER *IN*CHIEF OF ALL? FOR HIS BLESSINGS AND PROTECTION SO FAR.
We could now look through our field glasses and see the spires of the Churches in the city of Atlanta, the time and place of a rest of a few days, which was much enjoyed by the whole of Sherman's Army. During all the time since the 7th day of May, not a day or night, nor an hour, but what there was quite a heavy firing along some part of the line, both musketry and artillery. It was never too dark or rained too hard, but what you could hear or see the flash of the guns; the pumping of muskets was as steady as the ticking of a clock, and while we lay here on the banks of the river, General Joe Johnson Commander of the Confederate Army, in our front was relieved of his command, and Lieut. General John B. Hood put in his place, and he had the Railroad Bridge burned, and one morning while I was on the picket line, it has been our custom to advance our picket lines, and in doing so here at this place we moved our lines not two hundred yards; we were to make as little noise as possible, and when we had gone as far as we thought is safe we were to halt for daylight. John M Nixon and myself were side by side, the whole line was scattered out some fifteen of twenty feet apart, when we halted; Nixon and myself began to fortify our post, and in a few minutes to our right we could hear some one talking. Presently we learned that we had advanced too far, and were beyond the Rebel line, but the darkness caused us not to be discovered and to our surprise we soon found that all the men had fell back unknown to us, but when we realized our situation we crawled for a short distance, and by hard running made good escape.
We soon crossed the river, at night on a pontoon bridge laid after night by our engineer corps. We had to fight over every foot of ground from the river to Atlanta, Ga., On the 19th of July, while my Company was on the picket line on Peachtree Creek, was a water mill, and in this Mill was a lot of flour, and at the dwelling some fine chickens. It was between the picket lines of the two armies. The Confederate pickets were just on the opposite side of the creek, and W.T. Garrison, E.M. Skelton and self, would slip up to this mill and get a lot of flour, and would get behind the house from the Rebs, and the chickens were under the house, we would shoot them and Garrison would crawl under them, and in this way we secured plenty of flour and chicken for the whole Company; we had chicken dumplings while the rebels were shooting at us all the time, but luckily we all escaped that day, but poor Will was killed two days later in front of Atlanta.The next day the 20th we crossed the creek at the mill, and just got across it, in line when the enemy made a desperate charge on us. The hardest of the fighting was on our left against Hooker's corps, but lucky for Hooker's men they had been across long enough to build some breastworks, which came in good play, as this was a hard battle. One regiment in our Brigade lost 28 men killed instantly, besides their wounded, but they did not come before our regiment. We lost four men only, wounded, but on the 22nd day of July, 1864, in front and in sight of the city of Atlanta, we lost 13 men, killed William T. Garrison, of my Company being one of them.
I was a Sergeant at this time, and was ordered to take thirty men and advance after the retreating rebels, as far as I could safely; all skirmisher were instructed to not wait for orders, but to use his own judgment, and if the enemy should make a charge on us for every man to take care of himself. We advanced near half-mile, and stopped and layed down for thirty or forty minutes, when at once they gave a yell and it seemed like they were right onto us. We had passed East to the railroad, and a lot of cordwood was stacked along both sides of it, and west of the railroad was heavy timber, and this timber was full of rebels. We had been going south, passing this timber, and when we started to fall back I had crossed to the timber on the West of the railroad and started to run along in the edge of the timber. John Nixson had been down in a ditch with me, and I was ahead of him about fifteen feet, when he was captured. I could tell that their bullets were striking the west side of the cordwood. The weed had fallen over in one place into the timber and I made a leap over the wood for the railroad; John said he saw me fall over the wood and supposed I was killed, as he could see the rebs right at me. He surrendered and was taken to Andersonville Prison, but I did not see the rebs and got into the railroad between long ricks of cordwood, and made connection with Sam Bench of Company H, Sam was about two ties ahead of me, and it seemed that there were about ten or fifteen rebs shooting at us. I felt for a bullet to go through me every minute. I said to Bench let us throw up our hands and surrender, as they were sure to kill us anyway, but Bench said no they would have to break his leg first. This stretch of woods seemed to be about three hundred yards long, but we kept running and at last we got through it all right, but if it had not have been for the high stacks of wood they would have gotten both of us, as the timber west of us was full of Rebels, and right up to the wood. When we got back to our regiment and found that they too had been shot in the back, and was facing in a western direction and was very much confused, and thirteen had been killed, while I had one of my men Aaron Alley of Company H killed, and four taken prisoners, Nixon being one of them, as we reached our Command we got reinforcements and established a new line and made good works, and remained there for several days. This was the 22nd of July, the day that General James B. McPherson was killed. The greater part of the Rebel Army had concentrated on his part of the line, and in the left of our line, and they threw their whole force on our left, and some of our regiment had to fight from both sides of their works, as the enemy came upon front and rear. We lost an killed and wounded that day 20,000 men but yet we held our ground. We in a few days were moved ten miles to the right and west of the city, and still fought every day or some part of the time.
On Sunday I was on what is known as Brigade picket, in charge of six pits, this is holes dug in the ground at intervals of 25 of 50 feet apart with six men to the pit. A Lieut., by the name of Dick of the 15th Kentucky was in charge of all of my parts of the line. It had been very quiet all day up until 3 p.m. and we were all wondering what was the matter for it had always been that when we were on picket duty together, said Dick, “that we always had a hard battle." I had moved up to the Kentucky pit where Dick was, and he could see over to the rebels' forts about 800 yards as we guessed it. There were about four of five officers lying out on the parapet, as Dick could tell with his field-glasses, he said, "Boys do you reckon our muskets would hold up to those fellows.” Well we thought we would see; I raised the sight of my gun to 800 yards, and took good aim at the crowd, not really expecting to reach them, Dick watched through his field-glasses and seen the dust fly up right at them, and they hustled away and got into their forts. We still sat there in the wooded place, and I guess they had field glasses too, for they soon found where the shot came from, and put three of four balls very close to some of us, I was sitting on a log by this pit and the second shot hit in the log just under me, and from those shots the whole skirmish line began, and we soon found our holes, and in less than one hour the whole line on our felt was hotly engaged. The 4th corps had just come up from the extreme left of our Army, and in establishing their lines they got into a regular pitch battle; very unexpected to all of us. So you can see what one Carlisle shot can amount to.
While we were at this place, later on our pickets or skirmish pits was at some places just forty steps apart, and we made agreement with the Johnnies, as that as what we usually called the Rebs, to not shoot at one or the other, and that became the general understanding all along the lines unless one or the other' column should be advancing, in that case we agreed to give the other pickets warning by halloing out to "Look out Johnnie, we are going to shoot!", then every fellow would take to his hole.
At this place we would meet between the two lines and trade tobacco, coffee and crackers for cornpone, and newspapers, and have a good old time with each other; those social meetings got to be very common. We kept this up until we became attached to some of the Tennessee and Georgia boys. Some of the 40th Ga., to mount a corporal's guard, except the Officers. The next day some four or five met at an old house to trade and the rebels threw 3 cannon shells through it and you ought to have seen our boys coming in with their friendly foes with them to our lines. That broke up our social time at this place. Those men that were brought in from the old house were the angriest set of fellows I have ever seen. One was a Sergeant and wanted the Cincinnati Gazette, and had come to trade for it; He was the maddest fellow I ever saw; he cursed the fellows that took him until the colonel had to threaten him before he gave in.
We made a move clear to the South of Atlanta, about thirty miles. The Rebs seemed to think we had abandoned the idea of any longer trying to take the city, and were on our retreat, but instead we got on their railroad, and tore and tore it up for about fifteen miles, of track, heated the rails red-hot and bent them around trees, and burned the ties, but in a few days they found us out and all of their army left the city and came out to give us battle. They fortified on the Macon Railroad, and we had to fight them behind their works, and at one place Hardee had massed his force along a ridge around a battery of eleven guns; our men made several attempts to take that battery; finally the 17th New York Zouaves, that were armed with saber bayonets or heavy cutlasses, made like a short saber that was used on their guns in place of a cannon bayonet. They were brought up and made the effort by the Colonel, and in a few minutes the colonel was killed; the Lieut. Col., then also killed the Major. He had them fall back behind some willows in a hallow in about a hundred yards of those guns, and instructed them as on his plan, urging all to follow him and they would take those guns. By this time one third of this noble regiment was killed or wounded; his plan was to form in a column of four as if marching on the road and run right across their rifle pits to the right of their main fort; and here to turn to the right and the left up and down those pits with those cutlasses in hand and to cut right and left as long as there was a man left. They succeeded and were Victorious, and took all those guns and all its support, of corse, they had help to do this, but they were the main ones; but Oh! at what a cost of life it was, and what a scene it was to look at the horror in and around this fort. I went up to this fort after all was over and looked it over; there was pieces of legs, hands, scalps, and tufts of hair, and fragments of skulls, and dead men wounded in every conceivable way that you could imagine, and when it was all over and the dead were buried, and head boards put up to the graves, I counted 273, of the 17th New York. This charge broke the backbone of Hardee's corps, and in a short time all the confederate army was in full retreat. At this fort I saw a stack of muskets stakes up enough to fill three cars. we took a large number of prisoners, and that ended our Atlanta Campaign.
Here I visited the hospital and saw several of those rebel prisoners that had been hacked on the head by the 17th New York with those saber bayonets and I saw one fellow prisoner who had both of his legs shot off at the knees, he sat proped up on a cot, and would curse us yankees as he called us, and would say that he wished he had two more legs to lose for his cause, and if he had he would freely give them to have another shot at us. He was a big stout fellow and the wickedest man that I ever heard talk.
We stayed here a short time while some of our Army followed the remainder of the retreating rebs a few miles, and then we commenced to fall back to the city of Atlanta, which we reached on the 7th day of September, 1864, taking note that we had just been four months to a day on this Campaign, and every mile of that country of 150 miles had been forced by the hardest efforts and determined men, and every foot of ground contested by as equally as brave men as we were. Here in and around the City our whole Army went into camp and rested up; got new clothing and cleaned up in nice shape.
While here the two Commanding General Sherman and Hood, made an exchange of all prisoners that had been taken on this four month Campaign. On the 22nd day of September, our prisoners arrived, and were only too glad to get back to us, and as dirty and ragged and sorry looking set of fellows as I had ever seen since 1863, when I myself was returned from Libby Prison. Poor John M. Nixson, who is now dead, had been captured on the 22nd of July before; was so poor ragged and weakly looking, from starvation in Andersonville, Prison; he had not had any soap to wash off the dirt. We washed him up gave him clean clothes and a good dinner, and I trimmed his hair, and such a change in his looks and feelings was wonderful. Oh! the tales of treatment that our prisoners were having at that prison, who had been there for twelve months before, was something awful. He said that our boys who had been taken at the battle of Chickamauga, in Sept., 1863, was just walking skeletons; a few were still living namely; William Collier, Ben Lawrence, Jack Williams, and John Oliver, but had given up all hopes of ever getting back home again. James Calvin, our fifer had died of starvation, and out of fifty three that had been taken prisoners at the battle of Chickamauga, in 1863, I only remember of four getting home alive. Those fifty three all belonged to the 42d Regiment.
While at Atlanta, Sherman, made an order that all non-combatance, (women and children, and old men not able to fight), to take their household effects and leave the city, and all that wanted to go north he would send them by rail to Nashville, Tenn., and all that would not go he would send by wagon to Rough-and-Ready, where Hood's advance lines were then established, as he expected to make the city a military post, and he could not feed only his own men; the scene that followed was very touching indeed. In some cases it was said that some few old men went north while their wives went south; such is war, awful, awful, war. Us old soldiers had gotten use to it, but these people thought it was very hard to give up their nice homes. But at the same time their husbands and sons were just a little to the South of us in arms, and doing all they could to destroy our Army and the Government, which they had lived in and had formerly had as much right to as we had. Those were awful times.In October, a great many regiments that had not reinlisted as Veterans Volunteers, their time having expired, about fifty of our regiments had also not reinlisted, were now discharged and bade us good-by, and started home, with sorrow to leave us here in the field in front of a hostile enemy, but with glad hearts with the thought of getting to go home to their families and loved ones, and how we wished to be with them. By this time Hood and his army undertook a job that he failed in; that was to give up this part of his country to us, and march his men back to Nashville, Tenn., and into Kentucky, and if possible to cross the Ohio River, and let us follow him, but Sherman was too smart for that, but did follow him back as far as Gailesville Ala., where he turned over the job to Genl. Schoolfield, to follow him until Genl. Thomas, at Nashville could come to his relief. Sherman turned and went back to Atlanta, tearing up the railroad and destroying all bridges as he went, and destroyed the most of the city of Atlanta. Then we made our famous march to the sea through Georgia. Our Regiment was put on extra service, and we drove 1900 head of beef cattle through in rear of our army. Those cattle had been shipped from the north early in the summer before, and had been herded along in our rear, and was so poor that we could hear the bones crack every step; they would travel until they give out and would lie down to die. We got through with about 1500 head. They were too poor for us to eat them as we lived off the country as we went through. Our cattle traveled so slow that we were in great danger of being captured by the rebel cavalry that followed us for that purpose.
We had a long and wearisome trip of three hundred miles to the seacoast and landed at Savannah, Ga., near Christmas, with but the loss of a very few of army. We here met our old friend General Hardee with 40,000 men. We came within fifteen miles of the city on the 13th of December, and had a considerable fighting until the 23rd of December, 1864, we here turned over our cattle and taken our places in our brigade again. We kept up continual firing along the front, and would gain a little every day. This part of the country was very low and swampy, and the timber very thick on the ground, and the Grey Spanish moss would hang from the top most of the trees, and it made everything look awful gloomy and dismal. We lay close to what is known as the Cheeves Farm of 6,000 acres made into a rice farm, with its rice mills and canals running in all directions, so as to flow the growing rice, when needed, by the tide water, and the large swamp of the Ogeechea River.
Our regiment stood on a stack of rice straw and watched Genl. Hazen of the 15th Corps, capture Fort MaCallister on the Ogeechea River who had been such a great annoyance to our gun boats and kept them from passing up this river for the whole time during the war up to this time. While we were on this straw stack at the rice-mill Genl. Sherman and staff and a few Signal Officers, came to the rice mill and established a signal station on the top of the mill; we could see our fleet of gun-boats lying four or five miles South of the Fort MCallister, and they caught the Sherman signal and wanted to know if Ft. McCallister had been taken yet; Sherman replied to them that it would be by night, as he was at that time Signaling to Hazen to make the attack on the fort, which was soon carried by an assault, with but a small loss to our side, that knocked out the key wedge, and our Gunboats under Dalgreen steamed up the river, as soon as the prisoners which were taken at the fort were made to raise the torpedoes so as to clear the stream of danger. The next night Hardee vacated the place and the city of Savannah was ours, with all its supplies and a lot of cotton and machinery of war.
In marching through Georgia about 40,000 negro men and women and children followed our army into Savannah, and here was another burden, as they all had to be fed and cared for. We formed then into squads of 100 each and detailed uncommissioned officers to take charge of them, our regiment had to see after 2,000 of them, and twelve more Sargents and myself were detailed to care for them. We made ten companies of them and divided them into Companies of 200 each, I had charge of 200 of those mostly all old men, and women and children, as we sent the able-bodied men off to the ship landing to load and unload ships. They made shelter out of brush and quilts, the best they could and kept big fires all the time, and seemed to enjoy themselves at night. Every few days there would be an increase of a little black negro to swell the number for rations, as we drew as much rations for an infant as for a grown person. Every third day I would draw rations for 200 to 210, and all that was not consumed by the blacks we ate ourselves. After the first few days they failed to eat half what was allowed them, and at the same time some of our men in the 15th Corps, camped near us, could not get enough to eat, and I have sold to them many of a box of crackers for $3 that my colored friends could not eat, and that made lots of spending money.
This was in January, 1865, and while here I made a visit to a cemetery about one mile from the city limits and found a number of very finely constructed tombs erected for the most wealthy people, by some means one of them had become jarred open and for curiosity I steeped inside to see what was there, but on my second thought I made my way out of the tomb, as I thought the large door might swing to and it did not take much observation to learn what was in there; there was some three or four caskets in there. I have often thought what if that large and heavy door had of closed with me in there, and I concluded that I made a narrow escape. I have thought the heavy cannonading had probably jarred the door open in time of the siege, as we took several pieces of very heavy siege guns that would throw a hundred pound ball, and all this country is situated on a low sandy marshy land.
We had a nice time here until the last of the month, when we got ready to start on our South Carolina raid. Some of our amusements while we remained at Savannah, was dragging out oysters in their natural state, and would fry them; we could have all the oysters we wanted in any style, fresh fried, or raw. The 58th Indiana Regiment captured a small alligator while camped near the Savannah River on the South Carolina side. This river is the line between Georgia and South Carolina. While camped here I went with a large forging party out 100 miles into the direction of Florida, in order to get corn and other forage, while gone on this trip we camped one night on a large plantation, and there were about 1000 negroes on this farm. We were the first Yankees those darkies had ever seen, and they came to the camp by the hundreds; they shouted all night and claimed that their prayers had at last been answered, as they said that they had been praying for the last four years that "Massa Lincoln would come to set 'em free". They called all of us Massa Lincoln. They made us a royal feast; they cooked all night and we enjoyed the feast.
While I was on this trip I killed a squirrel that was coal black, they are a species of the fox. There are two kinds of fox-squirrels, one black and one gray-fox, and a little gray like we have here in the North, but I never saw a red fox squirrel down there.
We returned in eight days with teams loaded with plenty of Sweet potatoes and corn, chickens, pigs, fodder and ducks. We now left our seashore camp, and struck up the Savannah River through the swamps, and back water from the heavy rains that was now on the lands; we had a time in this mud and after we reached a place on this river called Sister Ferry, and that night the 6th of February our rain turned to snow, and about three inches of snow fell on us as we slept on the wet ground. Most of us were without tents, but this beautiful white mantle soon left us, and it still rained. It was several days before we got across the river, as the water was so swift that our pontoon men had trouble in getting their bridge to stand. We finally got on to the old hot bed of the mother earth of secession - - as South Carolina is well noted for her seceding from the Government and had always been known for her treacherous acts.
We had all promised that if we should ever get on to her soil that we would try to pay her back for some of her mean acts, and before we got very far into the state it was an easy matter to see that the boys were paid and with good interest too boot, for we all live fat off the country which we were marching through, and we covered a space territory from forty to sixty miles wide; the greater part of the wealthy people had flown before us, and no empty houses escaped the torch. We burned all public buildings and machine shops, railroads and unoccupied dwellings. We took their cattle, horses, hogs, chickens, potatoes, and corn and what we did not take we burned, as we thought the quickest way to end the war. While marching through this state when on a high hill we could look in most any direction at any time of day, and tell the location and direction of our entire army. We did not need orderlays to carry dispatches to tell what way any part was moving, for the smoke of burning buildings guided us through the state of South Carolina, and the reader can easily see to what extent the devastation and destitation and hard-ships that brought on poor people that happened to live in this stretch of the country which we traversed from one end to the other. One day while John Nixon and myself were out we stopped at a dwelling, where a great many soldiers on both sides had preceded us; we found a woman with three small children, and she told us that her husband was in the Southern Army like all other in that country; and she was in a condition to have to go to bed in a very few days. She had three sweet potatoes lying on the hearth and a small bucket of Sorghum molasses was all that had been left her and her three little girls; she was in about the center of this devastated country. This is only one instant of the distress and desolation from the awful hand of war. But this was in South Carolina, and when we came to the line of North Carolina, our officers gave orders that North Carolina had been one of the last Southern States to go out of the Union, and all burning of private property must cease, and to destroy nothing but machine shops, arsenals and foundries. These orders were generally respected by all private soldiers.
We marched through the state and had our usual amount of fighting with the enemy’s Calvary, but no general engagement until we got to Fayetteville on the Cape Fear River, which we reached on the 12th day of March, 1865 we rested here for two or three days; we had marched for the last two or three days through a very poor country, and found but very little to live on. We came to lots of resin lakes and kilns where the resin was made. I will here give a sketch of this country; the land is poor and also the people, most all of the growth is Pine timber, and is cut and stacked into pits like or kilns we make for charcoal. The wood is cut about four feet long, and stacked on end around and around until they get it as large as they want it; it is always stacked near some pond or stream of water so they can dam up the water into a lake, then they cover up this stack of wood and leave a small air hole and set it on fire. In this way all the sap that will make resin will run out to a ditch that leads to the lake, and this fluid will spread out over the water and form a body to the thickness of about three of four inches; owning to the amount of wood and the length of time the fluid is run in. I have seen acres of it at a time, and four inches thick on the water; I have also seen it set on fire and burned; it makes a fine smoke. When they get all in this lake that they want then they break it up into small lumps and barrel it for shipping. It can be made for a cent a pound. turpentine is made a little different. The trees are tapped by cutting furrows on the side of them from the ground, up as high as twenty feet by long handles attached to implements made for the purpose; and the wax or sap will run down and harden and stick to the trees to the thickness of several inches, and is then taken off and manufactured and crated and made into turpentine, but I have never seen this made.
We crossed the Cape Fear River on the morning of the 14th, and advances towards Averysboro, a small village on Black Water, a river, and during the first day out we passed a little overshoot wheeled watermill, very common in the South. Most all that country had their own watermills to grind corn on, and some of the twenty corps had charge of the mill. We as a rule were all out of bread, and as I have said, heretofore, we had been traveling through a very poor country where they made nothing much but resin, which we could not very well live on. We were all short of something to eat, and when I passed this mill I promised myself that if we stopped within ten miles of it I would come back that night at the risk of being captured, and myself and Martin V. Withers of my Company sought out Col. G. R. Kellams for his permission to go back to this mill and see if we could get something to eat. He gave his consent but warned us of the danger of being captured and hanged by Wade Hampton’s men who were in our rear. But we were determined to go; we each had a mule that was used for carrying the Company’s tents and cooking outfit, so we got us a load of corn and started back, we reached the Mill about eight o’clock p.m. Our boys and the 20th Corps had never been on very good terms during the Campaign, as we could always out march them and get to a town ahead of them; and if any good prize we would get it, so I felt some scruples to approach them, as it was a general feeling with the 14th Corps and them, but I think that we are all soldiers and all for the same cause, and I will make my wants known at any rate, and I spoke to one fellow and told him my business, and he pointed to the Sargent and said that he was the “boss”, I told him my distress and that we had not had a bite of bread of any kind all day, and to my surprise he taken us down stairs to his cook and gave us all we could eat of bread, pork, and coffee.
They told us that they would leave at one o’clock p.m. next day and that we could take charge then; they had us to eat breakfast with them next morning and I traded them some of my corn for some of their meal, and went to cooking bread, and by one o’clock I had a sack full of cornpone baked while Withers was scouting the country for more corn. We ground meal until late that evening when at five p.m. Jack Hunt and B.T. Simpson came after us and told us that our army was heavily engaged in front in a battle, and orders to have us hurry forward as the whole Company was almost starving. We closed down our mill and started to the front about six p.m. and we by this time was 16 miles behind our Command with two full sacks of meal and two sacks of cornpone baked in an old fashioned skillet with a lid, with an average of two to 2-1/2 inches thick to the pone. We arrived at our Regiment about ten o’clock that night with out precious cargo of provender, and I didn’t think I ever seen any one so gladly looked for as we were by our boys that night. Our regiment was on the front line and we unloaded our supplies 200 yards in the rear, at the headquarters of Col. G.R. Kellams and the news was soon announced that Company D’s boys had returned with plenty of bread, and never saw our boys as joyous to see anyone as they were to see us that night. Even the Col., came to us for bread, which was freely given, and many other special friends that belonged to other Company’s. Captain O. M. Walker of Co. E now in McClainsboro, Ill., came with a pan just for one quart of meal, and I gave him a full gallon and a half moon of cornpone, and he was so glad that he promised me that he would will me a cow when he died, but he is still living and I have plenty of cows and bread too.
The next day our foes fell back and we moved forward through the black mud, in places hub deep to our wagons, and our artillery mired in mud places that we had to pries and help with long ropes, this lasted all day until we got to higher and dryer land. This was the 16th of march, 1865, and as we had to depend upon the country for our support for previsions, we would make a large detail of men under the command of some commissioned officer, and would send them in advance to secure forage for all the command, and it was a very common thing for our foragers to do all the fighting as Hampton’s So. Carolina Cavalry was always in our front and rear, and if we heard any shooting in front we would think the boys had either found a lot of chickens or hogs, as this was an every day occurance.
On the morning of the 19th of march, we got orders to prepare grub for the day, as we were to make a thirty mile march that day to Goldsboro, our objective point, and to be ready to march at sunrise. We were in fine hopes and spirits that morning to think that we were to make a 600 mile march without a general battle, but at 7 o’clock a.m., almost before we were fairly straightened out on the road our foragers struck the enemy and we would halt and wait for our foragers to move them out of the way. But soon the firing got hotter and harder until about 8 a.m. when to our surprise the enemy opened on us with artillery; then we began to know that there was something to do, and we were hurried forward to the front, and by ten o’clock we were well developed into one of the hardest battles of the war. We had run up against our old foe, Old Joseph E. Johnson, whom we met on the Atlanta Campaign and he was well fortified in rifle pits and forts at a junction of roads near Bentonville, N.C., and with a force of 40,000 soldiers. He came near taking us all in out of the wet, and would have done so if the 20th Corps under General Slocum, had not come to our aid in the “nick of time”. Old Hardee’s men just as they swung around our left flank to our rear, “ the Good Old Star Corps” met them in an open field with fixed bayonets, and at first was about sixty yards apart, and came almost to a hand to hand charge, but as the 20th kept coming up on the double-quick, Hardee’s men broke and gave back, but not until they had left several hundred of our men, killed and wounded on the field, while our Corps was just as hard pushed in front. The battle lasted for two days, and the second night Johnson, finding Sherman coming up on his flank, he fell back, and our right-of-way was cleared to Goldsboro. We lost in this our last battle of war, 214, men killed and wounded. This was our last fight of any considerable note. We buried our dead also the rebel dead and marched into Goldsboro, and arrived there on the 28th day of march, and camped on Coal Creek, until the 10th day of April. While camped here our regiment was sent out with a train of wagons for forage, we went North toward Raleigh, that capitol of N. Carolina, we came up to some of Hampton’s Cavalry, and we happened up with a brigade of the 23rd Corps with two pieces of artillery on the same errand, and a few shots from this battery sent Hampton’s men filing out of our way. Those were the last men in arms that I saw, so I might say here, so ended the war, so far as I was concerned.
While in camp here the boys would amuse themselves by betting on roosters fighting, as we foraged through the country, and found rooster that looked game, we would tie him on our pack mule; a great many were taken in this way, and at Goldsboro, this was the chief amusement. Myself and John Nixon captured one large Plymouth rock that had been trained for that purpose, and had his comb cut off smooth with his head and his spurs scraped until they were as sharp as a needle; we called him Old Billy after Sherman. He could just whip anything that would come to him. I have seen as many as a thousand men assemble to see those cock-fights and the boys would become excited and would often bet as high as $10, and many of them $1, and in all would amount to hundreds of dollars, which would change hands on these occasions.
I will here quote a few words spoken by Robert G. Ingersoll’s Vivion of the past. It will bear readings and rereading.
“The past raised before us like a dream. Again we are in the great struggle for national life. We heart the sounds of preparation, the music of boisterous drums, the silver notes of heroic bugles; we see thousands of assemblages and hear the appeal of orators, and we see the pale faces of women and the blushed faces of men, and in those assemblages we see all the dead whose dust we have covered with flowers; we lose sight of them no more. We are with them when they enlist in the great Army of Freedom; we see them part with those they love. Some are walking for the last time in quiet woody places with the maidens they adore, we hear the whisperings and the sweet vows of eternal love as they lingeringly part forever. Others are bending over cradles kissing babes that are asleep; while some are receiving the blessing of old men. Some are parting from mothers who hold them and press them to their breasts ageing and again, and say nothing. Kisses and tears, and tears and kisses and divine mingling of agony and love, some are talking with wives and endeavoring with brave words spoken in the old tones to drive from their hearts the awful fear. “We see them part”, we see the wife standing in the door with the babe in her arms-- standing in the sunlight sobbing, at the turn of the road a hand waves, she answers by holding high in her loving arms the child. He is gone forever.”
We see them all as they march proudly away under the flaunting flags, keeping time with the grand wild music of war, marching down the great streets of the cities, through towns and across prairies, down to the field of glory to do and to die for the eternal right.
We go with them one and all. We are by their sides on all the glory fields; in all the hospitals of pain; on all the weary marches. We stand guard with them in the Wide storm, and under the quiet stars we are with them in the ravines running with blood in the furrows of old fields. We are with them between contending hosts unable to move, wild with thirst the life ebbing slowly away, among the withered leaves we see the pierced with balls and torn by shells in the trenches by forts, and in the whirlwind of the charge where men become iron with nerves of steel; we are with them in prison of hatred and famine, but human speech can never tell what they endured. We are at home when the news come that they are dead. We see the maiden in the shadow of her first sorrow. We see the silver head of the old man bowed with his last grief. The past rises before us, and we see four millions of human beings governed by the lash. We see then bound hand and foot, with the strokes of the cruel whips. We see hounds tracking women through the tangled swamps. We see babes sold from the breasts of mothers, cruelty unspeakable; outrage infinite.
Four million bodies in chains, four million souls in fetters. All the sacred relations of wife, mother, father, and child, trampled beneath the brutal feet of might, and all this was done under our own beautiful banner of the free.
“The past rises before us; we hear the roar and the shriek of bursting shells. The broken fetters fall. These heroes died. We look! Instead of slaves we see men, women and children. The wand of progress touched the auction block. The slaves pen the whipping post, and we see homes and fireside and school-houses and books. And where all was want and crime and fear, we see the faces of the free.”
“These heroes are dead! They died for Liberty! They died for us! They are at rest. They sleep in the land that made free under the flag they rendered stainless, under the solemn pines, the sad hemlocks, the tearful willow and the embracing vines. They sleep beneath the shadows of the cloud careless alike of sunshine or storm; each in the windowless places of rest. Earth may run red with other wars; they are at peace in the midst of battle. In the roar of conflict they found serenity in death.”
“I have one sentiment for the soldiers living and dead; Cheers for the living and tears for the dead”.
We left this place on the 10th of April, and marched towards Raleigh, and the enemy fell back without much show of fight. We were the first regiment to enter Raleigh, N. Carolina, and as we entered the State House yard, some frantic rebel fired a shot at our Brigade Commander H.C. Hobert, but failed to do any damage.
I will here state that on the day before we entered the city, while we were in camp for dinner, the Mayor of the city came out on a train with a flag of truce, and surrendered the city to General Sherman, on conditions that there should be no violence shown to our men and begged that we should give full protection to the citizens, and when this shot was fired by a man secreted in the Statehouse, the city was soon threatened of destruction, but in a short time the better class of people assured our officers that this outrage had been done without any knowledge of the authorities of the City whatever, and it was said that this culprit was hanged that evening, but that I do not know for certain.
Our 14th Corps was soon sent down to the Cape Fear River, about twenty miles from the city, to keep a lookout for Johnson’s Army, and to prevent any of them from making a break back towards Texas, in order to make their escape, as it was now plain that they would have to do something, as Lee had all ready surrendered, and many of his men had returned home, here where we camped.
We were camped on this river when we received the sad news of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, and I with about four hundred of our army was sent out up in the country between two small rivers that came together at a village called Mayesville. Here we found the Cape Fear River the bridge opposite of Mayesville, on the East side was burned and we had to cross on a small ferry boat, not very safe. We had started at one o’clock at night, and just at daylight I got across and received permission from Lieut. Meyers to go ahead and arrange for our breakfast. I was well mounted on a little sorrel mare, and I turned off of the main road, where I soon come to a large nice looking dwelling and dismounted; made for the house and ask if I could have breakfast for myself and Lieutenant. He proved to be a very nice man by the name of Dr. Walker, and he said he would give me such as had to eat, but that was not much. I told him I would be back in a few minutes with my Lieutenant all right. And when I returned to the command the Major in command of all of us had given orders for no man to leave ranks, but Lieut., Meyers still said I could go, but he would have to obey orders. I thought I wouldn’t be beaten out of my breakfast, and went by myself, and when I returned breakfast was ready. I had taken off my cartridge box and belt and sat my gun down by the door as I sat down to the table. I had almost finished eating when I ask if there were any rebels in that part of the country at that time; yes he said very calmly, there were two stayed all night here with me last night, and as you rode up this morning they stepped out at the far end of the hall and they are out at the barn now somewhere. Well it did not take much to do me as I was soon full and you can guess that I got hold of my gun very quick, and fixed myself for business. Oh! he says, I think if you don’t bother after them, they won’t bother after you, as one of them is my son, and the other, one of his Company boys. I offered to pay him and he said no, if my property is protected and not bothered I am satisfied. Well I did not stay long to see if his property was protected or not, but thanked him very much for his kind hospitality, and hurried away. He told me that he had been in good financial shape, had owned 1200 negroes and that amount of land, but we had set his slaves free and his land was a burden to him, he felt himself in poverty. I soon bade him good-by and made tracks back to my command, and I felt that I had had all the adventure by myself that I wanted for that day.
We made our way up between those rivers for five miles until we came to a large watermill on the West of us, and it had a lot of wheat in it, we always had a lot of millers with us and we put them to grinding, and left a strong guard for their protection. We went up still farther and found one old Rebel Colonel and he seemed to own that whole country, he had on his farm over 1000 head of slaves that did not yet know that they were free until we told them, and when we did so you could see wonderful commotion among the darkies, and may of them wanted to follow us off; but this we refused them. We told them that we had heard of lot of horses that were hid out up in this rough part of the country, and we were after them. And their answer was; “Yes, Massa, I know just whar they is, and a lot of bacon too, and barrels of brandy was carried out into the woods for old Massa, and done build a pen around it so youall couldn’t find it, yes, sah” Well the result was that we got thirty head of fine horses that had been taken there from all around that part of the country for safekeeping. This was the object of our trip up in that broken part of the country. We found all the old darkie told us to be true, and we returned camps that evening loaded with all each man could carry on his horse and some too full of brandy to ride.
That was the last foraging that was allowed by our authorities, and on the night of the 27th of April, we got orders for General William T. Sherman to cease all foraging and to get ready to march at 8 o’clock, on the 28th of April for Washington, D.C., as himself and General Joseph E. Johnson had come to terms of peace, and Johnson had surrendered his entire army. Then at Greensboro. N.C., and as we and our division were out here all along, General Walcott, at that time had charge of it, and sent a special order for us to make all the noise we wished to and to tear the ball from the powder and to shoot all we wanted to. Well since a racket I haven’t heard since. We shot all night and our artillery shot all night, and we “hollowed” ourselves hoarse. We were about six miles off from our 2nd division commanded by General Bayard. The orderly that had been sent out to let him know of the surrender had missed his way and as they supposed the enemy, had come down on the 1st division, and that we were in hot fight with Johnson’s Army, and their General, sounded the alarm and ordered them to fall in and not to take time to take anything, but their arms and ammunition, and double quick to our relief, and out they came and was getting close by when the orderly overtook them, and when he found out what the matter was it made him so mad that he wouldn’t tell his men the news, and about faced and marched them back to their camp, and told them to go to bed and to sleep. While the boys was wondering what in the world was all of this, as they could hear us plainly; also hear us yelling, with one part of the Brigade in one place and us in another. It did appear that there were two sides and made them think that we were being cut to pieces.
The next morning General Bayard had his division fall in line and the order read to them of the surrender of Johnson’s Army, and ordered them to be ready to give the 1st division a good cursing, as they came by them that morning for fooling them in that way, and had caused them to run on the double-quick for four miles. They did curse us for a month. We had all of that to ourselves and such a rejoicing as we had is hard to explain; we all laughed and shouted and “hollowed” ourselves hoarse. I will not try to explain our happiness for it is beyond my power.
We here set out to Raleigh, and on the 2nd day of May we started for Richmond, Virginia, and marched every day until late in the night, and out marched our supply train. We suffered for something to eat as a result, as it was now strictly against orders to take anything without paying for it. And a general order had been issued that any soldier caught taking from any citizen by force and without paying, was liable to be shot for all such offense and that any citizen should have the right to protect property even if it took life to do so. We had to march through part of North Carolina, and all through Virginia, and all the Southern Soldiers just returning home, made eatables very scarce, and hard to buy. We finally got to the James River, on the opposite side of Richmond, and there we rested and waited until all of our troops, and wagons and baggage caught up, and until they rested.
While here I had a pass to the city, and reviewed my old prisons the Palmer and “Old Libby”, and at several others noted building and places but as Grant’s men had visited the city first, by some means fire had got started and had burned out a great deal of the city, and I could not see it in the same light as I did when I had been there two years before as a prisoner.
Our whole Army marched through Richmond on a grand parade, and made a fine show, and all the darkies shouted themselves hoarse, and all would shout “God Bless Massa Lincoln’s Army.”
We marched through Virginia and saw a great deal of the battle ground that army of the Potomac had fought over, and the scars on trees and other signs of war. We passed over the battle field of Bull Run, so much noted as our first battle; and the greatest defeat of our Northern armies. We arrived at Washington, D.C., and on the 23rd day of May the army of the Potomac marched through the streets of Washington, on review, and was viewed by all the people present and the officers of the city and the masters of all nations, and in the 24th day of May all of Sherman’s Army with its hoards of burners and its corps of pack-mules with its train of ambulances, and in some instances with cows lead with a halter by a darkie, and with chickens tied on the top of their pack mules.
With all of our artillery, and at the North end of the noted Long Bridge we filed into platoons with Bayonets fixed, and our guns carried at a right shoulder shift, marched up around the Capitol building and filed left and down Pennsylvania Avenue, with all our sheep-skin bands discoursing the finest of music, and passed the White-house, where the review stand was erected for the President, and all the big officers of our government was stationed, and thence through the principal parts of the city in grand review. And it has been said by some of our historical writers that it was remarked of by some of our statesman to a foreign ambassador or minister of some foreign power, what he thought of our two great armies. He had seen Grant’s Army the 23rd and had seen Sherman’s Army the 24th. “Well,” says he, “I think Grant has a magnificent army, but I can take that ragged army of Sherman’s and whip all “Hell” out of those Eastern men.” He said of Sherman’s men not so much pride but lots of grit and nerve and all fight!
It taken us all day to get through the city and back by way of Georgetown, and I will here state that a part of the District of Columbia, is known as Georgetown, there is a small river that runs to the south, and west of the main part of the city of Washington, that is the dividing line, and is intersected at every street by bridges and on the South West of Georgetown is located the notes Smithsonian Institute, which I visited and saw the wonderful collections of the world here on exhibition free. I would advise anyone who should ever visit the city of Washington D.C. to take a trip out to this wonderful Institute. We soon left our camp on the South side of the Potomac River, and State of Virginia, and moved out through the city and out North of the suburbs, and camped until late in June.
And here is where our regiment filled itself up with the full quota of officers and the Grand Promotion of uncommisioned officers was promoted to Commissions by paying out of their own pocket for their muster into office from $25 to $50, owning the rank. I was put in as first duty Sargeant from the 5th Sargeant’s place in my Company. We left this grand old place late in June by railroad, by the way of Harrisburg, the Capitol of Pennsylvania and to Parkersburgh, Pa., on the Ohio River. Here we took steamers to Louisville, Ky., and were mustered out of service of the United States on the 21st day of July, 1865, and sent to Indianapolis, Ind., to be paid off and discharged, which we received on the 28th day of July, 1865 and started to our home by way of Louisville, Ky. I reached my home on the 31st day of July - - - and Oh! how glad I was to know that I did not have to go back to war, and to say farewell to home and loved ones.
42nd Indiana Volunteer
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