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Full text of "On wheels and how I came there; a real story for real boys and girls, giving the personal experiences and observations of a fifteen-year-old Yankee boy as soldier and prisoner in the American civil war"

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THE NCW YORK 





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The Author: " On Wheels 



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ON WHEELS 



AND HOW I CAME THERE 



A REAL STORY FOR REAL BOYS AND GIRLS 

Giving the Persona! Experiences and Observations of a Fifteen- 
year-old Yankee Boy as Soldier and Prisoner in 
the American Civil War 



BY 

PRIVATE W. B. SMITH 

Of Company A', IJ^th Illinois Volunteer Infantry 



EDITED BY 

Rev. JOSEPH GATCH BONNELL 

Of the St. yohn's River Conference^ Florida 



(/ 



Neither shall they learn war any nnore."— Bible. 



NEW YORK : HUNT & EATON 
CINCINNATI : CRANSTON & GURTS 



TIJ3 MEW YORK 



T>TTT-> y-t. TT.pAT^y 



685393 A 

A3TOR, LENOX AND 

TILDEN FOUNDATIONS 

R 1933 L 



Copyright, 1892, by 

HUNT & EATON, 

New York. 



Electrotyped, printed, and bound by 
' •; '.? 50' Fifi^h ■ Avenua^' -New Vcrlc.,'' * 



TO 
MY AGED FARENXS, 

WHO TEARFULLY GAVE THEIR ONLY BOY AT FIFTEEN 
IN RESPONSE 

TO OUR NATION'S CALL DURING THE CIVIL WAR. 

AND WHO 

JOYFULLY WELCOMED HIS RETURN AT THE RETURN OF PEACE. 

THIS VOLUME IS AFFECTIONATELY 

DEDICATED. 






AUTHOR'S Preface. 



C2^ 

WN writing On Wheels: and How I Came Tkere^ 



_ T l.o.r^ 



I have studiously avoided inserting anything 
concerning which there was the least doubt. If 
even my comrades can detect any errors I am posi- 
tive they will be but slight matters of dates, which 
cannot affect the truth of my story. 

Of every injury to myself or assistance received 
from my comrades which I have mentioned there is 
a record on file in the Pension Department at Wash- 
ington. ]S^o fictitious names appear anywhere in the 
book. The persons and places mentioned are real, 
and the experiences and events related actually oc- 
curred. 

I had no thought of writing a book until after the 
following occasion. One afternoon, while sitting in 
my chair in my Florida home, I thought of some 
beef heads which were issued to us at Andersonville 
Prison during the winter of 186i. Being unoccupied 
at the time, I concluded to write a short description 
of the circumstances for my children. I gave the 



8 PREFACE. 

storj this title : '• The Fate of a Beef Head at An, 
dersonville, as Witnessed bj a Boy Prisoner." It 
appears in this vohime, substantially as I then wrote 
it, as Chapter XXX. The evening after I wrote it 
I received a call from a journalist, a personal friend, 
who, after listening to the story, urged me to have it 
published. This indorsement, together with the 
facts, in themselves interesting, that while a mere 
boy I was in the army, was captured and confined in 
different Confederate prisons, led me to believe that 
possibly I might write an account of my experience 
and observations as a boy soldier and prisoner that 
both young and old would read. I did so, and here- 
with submit this humble volume to the public. If 
its perusal shall in any way contribute to a genuine 
patriotic sentiment the author will be amply re- 
warded. 



Lawtey, Fla., May, 1892. 



Will B. Smith. 




INTRODUCTION 



Ef EEE is a book that every boy and girl in all 
^ tliis nation ought to read. Its universal cir- 
culation would be a national blessing. Abraham 
Lincoln was fond of telling of his indebtedness to 
Weems's Life of Francis Marion^ in forming his 
character and kindling in his soul the fire of patriotism. 

If this republic has future struggles before it, and 
is to come out victorious in them all, we must see to 
it that the children of each generation know by heart 
the glorious history of their country. 

The boys of '63 were in the army by the ten thou- 
sands. How they got there was a mystery. The 
legal age for enlistment was eighteen, and yet thou- 
sands of them were only seventeen, sixteen, fifteen 
years old. 

The beautiful poem, " Driving Home the Cows," is 
founded upon a true story of a mother who sent her 
boy to perform this duty years before. He obeyed at 
last, but in the meantime he had been to war and back 
again. That boy was in his teens. 



10 



INTRODUCTIOK 



Lieutenant Ciisliing was but twenty-one when lie 
blew up the Albemarle and sent her to the bottom of 
the rive]-. The Albemarle was a powerful rebel 
cruiser which w^as about to put to sea to prey upon 
our commerce, when this boy, at deadly peril to his 
life, ended her career before it was fairly begun. 

This book, On Wheels : and How I Came There, 
is a story of one of the boys of that period. He was 
only fifteen when he entered the service of his country, 
and the war was over before he was seventeen. 

The story of liis marches, battles, and prison life 
will hold the interest of the reader from the first page 
to the last. 

If you want to buy for any Amei'ican boy or girl a 
gift that will rival in interest the romance of Robinson 
Crusoe, select tlie true stoiy told by the author of 
On Wheels : and How I Came There. 

C. C. McCabe. 




CONTENTS 



CHAPTER I. PAGE 

ElS'LlSTED ... 1 '> 

CHAPTER II. 
Uniformed 24 

CHAPTER III. 
Off fok the War ... 32 

CHAPTER IV. 
Joining My Regiment 39 

CHAPTER V. 
Camp Life 48 

CHAPTER VI. 
On to Camp Cocran 56 

CHAPTER VII. 
Off for the Meridian Raid 64 

CHAPTER VIII. 
On the March Through Jackson 73 

CHAPTER IX. 
The Skirmish 83 

CHAPTER X. 
The Battle 8D 

CHAPTER XI. 
After the Battle 100 



1 2 Contp:nts. 

CHAPTER XII. PAGE 

At Meridian 110 

CHAPTER XIII. 
A Foraging Expedition 118 

CHAPTER XIV. 
Our Return March 127 

CHAPTER XV. 
Again at Vicksburg 136 

CHAPTER XVI. 
Off for a New Field 147 

CHAPTER XVII. 
Our March to Rome, Georgia 155 

CHAPTER XVIII. 
Guarding Railroad in Sherman's Rear 165 

CHAPTER XIX. 
Busy Behind Sherman 176 

CHAPTER XX. 
Battle of Moon Station and Capture 186 

CHAPTER XXL 
Marching to Prison 198 

CHAPTER XXII. 
Arrival at Andersonville 208 

CHAPTER XXIIT. 
Entering Andersonville Prison 220 

CHAPTER XXIV. 
Andersonville Experiencp:s 2:33 



Contents. 13 

CHAPTER XXV. pack 

Removed to Millen Prison 244 

CHAPTER XXVI. 
Removed to Blackshear Prison 252 

CHAPTER XXVH. 
Flying from Sherman 261 

CHAPTER XXVHI. 
Again in Andersonville 270 

CHAPTER XXIX. 
Diversions of Prison Life 279 

CHAPTER XXX. 
The Fate of a Beefhead at Andersonville, as 
Witnessed by a Boy Prisoner 288 

CHAPTER XXXI. 
Last Days in Prison 298 

CHAPTER XXXII. 
Released from Prison 304 

CHAPTER XXXIII. 
The Bliss of Freedom 314 

CHAPTER XXXIV. 
Homevtard Bound 323 

CHAPTER XXXV. 
Home at Last » 331 



ILLUSTRATIONS. 



The Author; " On Wheels " facing title 

Armed and Accoutered facing page 54 

i?indersoxville prison facing page 222 



ON WHEELS: 

AND HOW I CAME THERE. 



CHAPTER I. 
Enlisted. 

tpHE first gun of the great American Civil War, 
^ fired upon Fort Sumter in the spring of 1861, 
whicli tlirilled our entire country with wild 
excitement, found me, a wiry lad of thirteen, attend- 
ing school in the little town of I^aples, 111., which is 
situated on the eastern bank of the Illinois River, 
some one hundred miles north of St. Louis, Mo. 

I had listened to one of the famous debates between 
Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas, which 
occurred in our town in the year 1858. Upon that 
occasion Mr. Lincoln took dinner with my uncle, Mr. 
John White, then one of the leading Eepublicans of 
the community, and being present I heard the con- 
versation between these two great men on the exciting 
political topics of the time, which I now recall with 
pleasure. 

In 1860, during the lively political campaign which 
resulted in the election of Mr. Lincoln to the presi- 
dency of the United States, I was the youngest member 
2 



16 ON WHEELS. 

the uniformed Lincoln Wide Awake Club of 

^^ :i )leS. 

Many circumstances conspired to incite mo to tlie 
life of a soldier. In mj early life I had listened to 
the til rilling Indian stories of one of my grand- 
mothers, who, with her family, liad lived ten years 
among the Pottawattamie Indians, and to the war 
stories of one of my grandfathers, who was a soldier 
in the War of 1812, and of other relatives who served 
in the Mexican War. 

During the summer of 1861 I became familiar with 
the work of enlisting soldiers and raising companies 
and regiments for the Union army. During this 
year the then Colonel U. S. Grant, afterward the 
great Union general of the Civil War, and still later 
President of the United States for two terms, having 
been placed in command of the Twenty-first Illinois 
Infantry Regiment for purposes of discipline — the 
regiment being a difficult one to manage — marched 
it across the country from Springfield to Quincy, 111., 
and while en route held it in camp at Naples for some 
days. During their stay I witnessed the attractive 
drilling and maneuvering of the regiment by its 
gallant commander, who rode with grace and man- 
aged with ease his large, light-colored claybank horse, 
a color to which I was by no means partial, being an 
admirer of dark bays, jet blacks, and dapple grays. 

I was often about the colonel's tent, where I could 
see him at close quarters, and noticed his slouch hat, 
])lain blue blouse, and quiet bearing, and, like many 
other boys of the town, I thonght if I were the 
governor I could have selected a much better looking 



ENLISTED. 1 7 

liorse, and, notwithstanding liis good liorsemansliip, 
a mucli better looking rider as commander of the 
regiment. 

While at Naples Colonel Grant had his son Fred, 
since United States Minister to Austria, with him. 
Being about the same age, Fred and I soon became 
acquainted, and were together much of the time 
during their stay, and greatly enjoyed such sports as 
bathing, boating, fishing, etc. 

In addition to these experiences, many of my com- 
rades and schoolmates were enlisting and going to 
the arm}', which liad a decided tendency to keep me 
in a feverish state of excitement, and to beget an 
eagerness to trade my Lincoln Club torch for a mus- 
ket and march to Dixie. 

But with all my stretching and measuring and 
marking I could, not, during the earlier years of the 
war, reach the required standard of height for sol- 
diers, and, although I was actually growing rapidly, 
it seemed to me as if by some means I had become 
stunted and that my growth was checked. 

In the meantime the soldier boys who came home 
sick, wounded, or on furlough had many thrilling 
experiences to relate, which were eagerly listened to, 
especially by the boys, and had a tendency to make 
me the more eager to quit school and join the fellows 
at the front. 

The exciting months sped by, and I made real 
progress in growth, thougli to me it seemed very 
slow. The year 1863 found me fifteen years of age, 
and barely measuring up to the required soldier stand- 
a'-d, five feet and six inches, with not a fraction to spare. 



18 ON WHEELS. 

About tliis time Captain W. W. Strong, of Com- 
pany K, Fourteenth Illinois Infantry, wliose regiment 
was lying in winter quarters at Camp Cowen, in the 
rear of Yicksburg, Miss., was at home in our county 
raising recruits for the army, and visited Naples. 
Frequent meetings were held in the little old chur(;li, 
where I had attended Sabbath school and church 
services from my early childhood, for enlisting re- 
cruits. Now, instead of the sweet, peaceful songs of 
Zion, lined by the venerable minister in clerical black 
with white cravat, and sung fervently by the devout 
worshipers, the rostrum was occupied by the stalwart 
Union officer in blue with shoulder straps of gold, 
patriotic war songs were heartily sung, and stirring 
speeches were made. Martial music of fife and drum 
tilled the air and all was enthusiasm and excitement. 

A number of my schoolmates and other associates 
were enlisting, among them \\\y chum and seatmate, 
Hardin Abrams, and the influence upon me was over- 
whelming. I decided to enlist if the recruiting 
officer would accept me and my parents would give 
their consent; for, with all my eagerness to go, being 
the only son of a crippled father, I did not want to 
leave him without his consent. 

On the evening of December 21, 1863, in the old 
church, its pulpit gracefully festooned with the stars 
and stripes, just after the singing of the patriotic 

song, 

"Yes, we'll rally round the flag, boys, 
We'll rally once again," 

I stepped forward, and with pen in hand signed the 
enlistment roll as it lay on theconnnunion table. The 



ENLISTED. 1 9 

next morning our measure was taken, and now the 
only thing to impede my onward march to tlie en- 
chanting fields of military glory was my age. But 
Captain Strong told me if I should not pass the 
required surgical examination he would take me as 
his private clerk. 

This was as nmsic to my ears, and off I started for 
home in doul)le-quick time, thrilled with emotions of 
joy at the prospect of realizing my long-cherislied 
hopes on the one hand, and with grave misgivings on 
the other lest my parents should refuse their consent. 
However, after carefully and fully weighing the mat- 
ter, my parents gave their written consent, probably 
the more readily because my age might be the oc- 
casion of my rejection, and I might after all liave to 
remain at home. At any rate, father gave me money 
with which to return from Springfield in the event of 
my failure to pass. 

In giving his consent my father said : "Will, you 
can go if they accept you to carry a gun in the 
ranks, but if you are to act in the capacity of a clerk 
or waiter you can come home and wait on us." 

The eventful day of our departure came, with the 
affecting scenes of the last farewell. Mother and 
sisters gave the parting kiss, and a mother's Christian 
advice was tearfully given. The weather was very 
cold, but amid the excitement of the parting scenes I 
forgot my overcoat, and, rather than repeat those 
trying experiences, I was going to take the trip of 
fourteen miles across the country to Winchester, 111., 
where we were to join other recruits, without it; but 
one of my young friends having a horse close at hand. 



20 ON WHEELS. 

sprang into the saddle, rode over to my home, and 
brought it to me, and so off we started. 

On arriving at Wiiicliester we met with a hearty 
reception by the ladies and citizens generally of the 
city, and found in waiting a royal supper for the re- 
cruits who were coming in from various directions. 
The bountiful supper and the kind and generous 
entertainment accorded us in their homes by these 
patriotic citizens w^ere greatly appreciated by the 
boys, and indicated the genenil willingness and desire 
to help in every possible way those who volunteered 
in our country's cause. 

From Winchester we were taken to Jacksonville, 111., 
and there carefully exanuned. So many of us being 
quite young, the examination was made all the more 
rigid. Here we were required to hop around the 
long hall in which the examination occurred, first on 
the right foot and then on the left, as rapidly as we 
could, and then to run around it twice at the top of 
our speed — a gait, by the way, which was not so very 
slow. The minute examination of eyes, ears, teeth, and 
limbs made a deep impression on my mind, and had 
a tendency to create within me a feeling of uneasiness 
lest, afte.r all, I should not be accepted. 

However, I was found to be of requisite height, 
and physically sound in every way ; but now came 
the greatest barrier of all, my age. This emergency, 
though, I had clearly foreseen. I fully understood 
that while eighteen years was the legal age for ac- 
ceptance as a soldier, yet with the parents' written 
consent, which I had obtained, a boy seventeen years 
of age would be accepted if otherwise admissible. 



ENLISTED. 21 

When the digiiilicd, spectacled surgeon came to 
question me as to my age 1 straightened myself np 
so as to look as tall as possible, and determined to 
confront this emergency. Although a great admirer 
of George Washington, for the time I seemed to lose 
sight of the little hatchet story, and I so represented 
my age that a discrepancy of two years is to-day found 
between my enlisting age, as shown by my discharge 
papers, and my actual age, as shown by the old family 
Bible at home. 

At this juncture the examining surgeon eyed me 
closely, and said : " You young rascal, you're sound 
enough," and then shaking his head added, ''but I 
don't know so well about your age, judging from 
your appearance ; " however, the point was not further 
pressed, and I was ordered to the side of the room 
with the boys who were accepted. 

But while my sudden and not altogether creditable 
leap in age cleared my way to the enticing fields of 
military glor^^, it also led me to sufferings and ex- 
posures most severe, and resulted in shattered health 
for all my subsequent life. 

Our next transfer was to Springfield, 111., wdiere, 
after another rigid examination, I found myself, with 
many others, finally accepted. Having now run the 
gauntlet of several rigid trials, I was proud of the 
fact that I was at last a soldier, and should in reality 
exchange my Lincoln torch for one of " Uncle Sam's" 
glistening Enfield rifles. 

The question as to which branch of the service I 
should enter was decided before I left home, several 
considerations leading to the final conclusion. The 



22 ON WHEELS. 

infantry, cavalry, and gunboat service each had special 
attractions for me. 

The gunboat service was the most fascinating to me 
because of my familiarity with the water. I could 
swim like a duck, and was as mucli at home in a boat 
as on land. In the absence of a boat it was nothing 
unusual for me to swim a great distance carrying a 
line in my teeth when seining, or to perform similar 
feats. But I liked my freedom so well that the con- 
finement of the gunboat service decided me against it. 

Tliere were some very special attractions to me in 
the cavalry service. I was very fond of horseback 
riding, which I had often enjoyed on my Uncle White's 
horses and mules ; besides, my cousin, Sam White, 
was a member of the Second Illinois Cavalry, and 
nothing would have suited me better than to join him ; 
but my experiences w^th uncle's horses and mules had 
impressed me quite unfavorably. 

When riding Joe, a little brown mule, at full speed 
lie was almost sure to stumble, and often I would 
find myself suddenly thrown under him, and I would 
be compelled to extricate myself as best I could ; 
Rube, an old raw-boned roan horse. Uncle John's 
buggy nag, not kept for beauty so much as for re- 
liability, had a fashion, when ridden into the river for 
water, of plunging his head in up to his ears, and 
then, while vigorously shaking the water out of them, 
I found it difficult to stick on him with both hands 
clinging to his mane and my short legs tightly clutch- 
iug to his bony sides ; Pete, a little round bodied bay 
mule, was full of tricks, and threw every man or boy 
that ever monnted him. He was my forlorn hope. 



ENLISTED. 



23 



I never wanted to ride lilm unless it was my only 
chance, for after working a half hour to get on him 
I had no assurance of more than a few rods ride, to 
be followed, j)erhaps, by a half day's chase in catch- 
ing him. So these imfavorable exploits at horseman- 
ship decided me against joining my Cousin Sam in 
the cavalry service. Besides, my enjoyable hunting 
expeditions, the long tramps with gun that I could 
take, the heavy loads of game I could carry, and the 
great fatigue I was capable of enduring, led me to be- 
lieve I was better fitted for the marches and fatigues 
of the infantiT service, and so I decided. 




CHAPTER II. 
Unifokmed. 

FTER our second and final examination at 
Springfield we were marched out and up the 
sti-eet two or three blocks to a large govern- 
ment storeroom, where we drew our equipments. 

On entering the room, which I had noticed had no 
sign to indicate "Uncle Sam" was doing business 
there, we found there were no counters nor shelv^es, bnt 
in lieu of these was a row of long tables on each side 
loaded down with soldier uniforms, etc. Each table 
contained but one kind of article, excepting the one 
where we drew plate, cup, knife, fork, and spoon, 
where all these were handed out on the plate. Be- 
liind each one of the tables stood a blue-coated clerk, 
with book in liand, doing a general credit business, 
requiring no references, and asking only for our names. 
This was so very different from the manner our home 
merchants conducted their business I was impressed 
that "Uncle Sam" was very reckless in the manage- 
ment of this store. 

After each of us received his knapsack, canteen, 
and haversack, and its belongings, we drew the follow- 
ing articles of clothing: two pairs of gray woolen 
socks, one pair of heavy sewed brogans, two pairs of 



UNIFORMED. 25 

heavy drilling drawers, one pair of light blue woolen 
pants, one each dark blue woolen blouse, dress coat, 
and cap, one light Wue woolen overcoat with cape, 
two gray woolen shirts, and one pair of gray woolen 
blankets with the large letters U. S. woven in the 
center of each. All coats and caps were supplied 
with the regulation brass button, surmounted w-ith 
the king of birds, which just suited my boyish vanity. 
As I had already pi-ovided myself with a pair of high 
top boots with which to wade through the Confeder- 
acy, I drew no shoes. 

" Uncle Sam " wrapped no goods and furnished no 
paper nor twine. As we ^were hustled past the 
tables we were hastily sized up, and the articles pre- 
viously mentioned were handed or tossed to us. No 
time was given for folding, and before we had reached 
the overcoat table the avalanche of accouterments, 
blankets, and clothing had us completely overloaded. 
Although I had up to this time been very anxious to 
get my wardrobe of blue, I was now very glad there 
was no more of it, for I was about to lose a part of 
what I had received. -But we waddled along as best 
we could with our enormous loads, and as we did so 
we presented a comical appearance indeed. 

Before being marched out of the room we were 
allowed time to pack, or try to pack, our knapsacks. 
Some of us had never so much as packed a valise, and 
now as this band of recruits was down on the floor, ■ 
each trying to pack his cart load of government cloth- 
ing, together with his two large army blankets, in his 
knapsack, it made a very ludicrous scene. 

The fact is, we could get but a portion of our new 



26 ON WHEELS. 

wardrobe in our knapsacks, and wlien the order to 
march was given we gatliered the rest up in our 
arms. 

Bj this time it was nearly dai'k, and we were 
marched out to Camp Yates, a distance of some two 
miles, throng] I a deep snow. Although it was very 
cold, yet our heavy, bunglesome loads and exercise in 
wading through the deep snow warmed ns up to 
fever heat and caused ns to perspire f reel}'. 

We arrived in camp just at dark, and were assigned 
quarters in wedge tents, which were supplied with a 
liberal amount of straw. After getting inside the 
tents we threw down our loads, unslung our knap- 
sacks, and soon found ourselves chilled to the marrow, 
and with chattering teeth. Having no lights or fuel, 
we wrapped ourselves in our blankets, which were 
our only protection against freezing. 

We were soon notified that supper was ready for 
us in the barracks, distant about a hundred yards, but 
the weather having suddenly turned bitterly cold, the 
wind howling and shrieking furiously outside, we 
decided to spend our first night in camp snj^perless 
rather than face the terrible blizzard. 

We had just come from pleasant homes with their 
warm suppers and comfortable feather beds, and this 
seemed like a decidedly cool reception by "Uncle 
Sam ; " however, it did not chill our young ardor, but 
it did make us want to get South, away from the 
fierce clutch of the ice kins^. 

The oflicers had not anticipated this sudden cold 
wave, or we should have been better provided for. 
The night was simply terrible. I was awake a good 



UNIFORMED. o 7 

portion of it rubbing my nose, ears, bands, and toes, 
trying to keep them from freezing. I bad previously 
read Washiiigton and His Generals, and during my 
rubbing exercise, trying to keep warm, I reviewed 
Yalley Forge and bis freezing men, and it wavS a serious 
question in my mind if we were not going to have a 
duplicate of it at Camp Yates witb frost-bitten boys. 

The first day of January, 1804, is memorable for 
the severity of its cold in that latitude. On that 
morning, when the time for roll call came, the mer- 
cury was twelve or fifteen degrees below zero. We 
wxre all badly frost-bitten. My nose, ears, toes, fore- 
head, and finger ends were frozen. As soon as onr 
situation was known by those in charge of us we were 
moved into one of the large barracks ; but before 
those of us who had boots could go we were com- 
pelled to wait until the camp guards could thaw them 
out, for they were frozen so hard we could not get 
them on. 

After getting thawed out, which was about 9 a. m., 
we were marched to the dining room barracks for 
breakfast, but, on arriving, we found the victuals 
so frozen we were compelled to take them to the 
stove in the other barracks and thaw them out. Our 
breakfast was served on Lmg tables in tin dishes_, 
and each ration consisted of a half loaf of baker's 
bread, one pint of cofiee, a plate of boiled beans, and 
about six ounces of meat, now known by the tame 
and modest name of bacon, all of which were frozen 
solid except the coffee, and the ice was an inch thick 
on that. 

Being of an observing turn of mind, I noted a few 



28 ON WHEELS. 

peculiarities about this dining room, different from 
the one I was accustomed to at home. In the lirst 
place they had neglected to spread the cloths on the 
table ; there was also a noticeable absence of chairs, 
so that guests were expected to eat standing; and, 
although I had had no supper, and breakfast was 
quite late, and I was consequently as hungry as a 
bear with keen scent, yet I could smell no victuals, so 
I could but note the contrast between this breakfast 
and the savory meal which was presided over that 
morning by my little black-eyed mother at home, 
where, if I could have been present, I would have had 
a whiff of hot buckwheat cakes, smoked sansage, and 
the delicious aroma of boiling coffee. 

This iirst nig] it's lodging and breakfast at "Uncle 
Sam's" expense, amid these disagreeable conditions, 
put our patriotism to as severe a test as any we met 
until we entered Andersonville Prison. 

The large l)arracks we were in were of but one 
thickness of inch boards, and contained but one large 
stove, and that for some unaccountable reason, unless 
it was to prevent its being upset, was in one end 
instead of the center, so that but few could get near 
to it at a time, while the rest v,^ere compelled to resort 
to the most vigorous exercise, such as jumping, 
wrestling, etc., in order to keej) from freezing when 
out from under their blankets. 

AVe were kept here but three days, when, the 
weather having sufficiently moderated, we were 
marched to Camp Butler, a distance of some six 
ujiles. 

At Camp Yates we had packed our citizen's clothes 



UXIFORMED. 29 

and expressed them lioiiie, and donned our suits of 
bine, wliicli seemed to ligliten oiir hearts as well as 
our knapsacks, and, although our toes were frost- 
bitten and sore, yet we stood this tramp to Camp 
Butler quite well. 

Here the barracks were better and the w^eather had 
moderated, so that we were quite comfortable, except 
from the stinging and burning of our frost-bitten 
parts. 

These barracks were one hundred feet lono^, and 
contained a double row of bunks on each side. Here 
we indulged in our first letter writing. Tin plates 
resting upon our knees were our writing desks, and as 
we sat with our feet dangling over the edge of our 
bunks the room had the appearance of an immense 
bluebird house, with part of the birds on their perches 
and part on the floor, and all having a merry time. 

Here, drawn up in line outside the barracks, with 
uncovered heads and uplifted right hands, we were 
sworn into the service "for three years, or during the 
war." Myself and comrades were assigned to Com- 
pany Iv, Fourteenth Regiment, Illinois Volunteers, 
Infantry. 

We were then marched to the paymaster's quarters, 
where each man received three hundred dollars 
bounty in new^ crisp greenbacks. This looked like 
another piece of reckless business management on the 
part of " Uncle Sam," giving a lot of young fellows 
so much money in advance on a contract, before they 
had hardly commenced the job, which rather impressed 
me that it must be a ticklish piece of business, and 
that he w^as very anxious to have it finished. 



30 OX WHEELS. 

Fifteen dollars was the most money I ever liad of 
my own at any one time before, and this amount of 
bright new bills looked like an immense sum to me ; 
but as I knew my parents w^ere in moderate circum- 
stances only, and, as 1 knew, keenly felt the absence of 
their only boy in more ways than one, before my 
bounty was given to me I had fully made up my 
mind what I would do with it. Twenty dollars went 
into my left trousers pocket, and the rest, a roll of 
two hundred and eighty dollars, into my right pocket ; 
and with my hand on this latter amount I went 
directly to the express office, where for an hour in 
the great crowd I clutched my roll before I could 
exchange it for an express recei})t, which I imme- 
diately inclosed in my first letter home. A number 
of the boys did the same, but many of them kept all 
they got. The twenty dollars I got changed, and, 
when I returned to the barracks, secreted the most 
of it in my underclothing for safe keeping. 

On my return to the barracks I found there a lively 
trading scene. The sharpers were there in full force 
with trays and baskets full of knives, combs, pocket- 
books, revolvers, watches and chains, and all manner 
of pinch-back jewelry, and brass and silver-plated 
letters and numbers for soldier caps. Each trader 
was surrounded by a group of recruits, eager to ex- 
change their new greenbacks for the sharper's trash, 
and w^hen the curtain dropped on the scene some of 
the young blue-coats were loaded down with one or 
two revolvers each, and supporting a watch and chain 
and other jewelry in proportion. 

As for mj'self, I purchased a silver-plated laurel 



UNIFORMED, 



31 



M-reath, aboat two inches in diameter, and a silver- 
plated company letter, K, and State letters, Illinois, 
and the nmnber of my regiment, l-i, whicli were all 
placed on top of my cap, tlie letters and the numbers 
all going witliin the wreath, and all appearing very 
neat, and, as I thought at that time, giving a very im- 
portant finish to my uniform ; though, for reasons 
which will appear later on, I did not keep them very 
long. 




CHAPTER III. 



Off for the War. 



-<: 



"X^l^T^E were kept at Camp Butler but a few days 
• ^^^ o'^ly? waiting until transports, which liad 
been mucli dehiyed by lieavy ice in the Ohio 
and Mississippi Rivers, could arrive at Cairo, 111., to 
take us South. 

A1)out January 9, 1&64, we boarded a train, were 
placed in good passenger coaches, went to De- 
catur, 111., and thence to Cairo. "Uncle Sam" still 
indulged in his extravagance by furnishing free 
lunch and calling for no tickets; but he was heading 
us southward, and knew what he was about. 

After a jolly ride on the cars we arrived at Cairo in 
due time, and were immediately marched to the 
wharf on the Ohio Klver side of the city. There we 
found several transports in waiting. 

We embarked on the large government steamer 
Citf/ ff Alton. On looking around I could see no 
difference between this and the beautiful Illinois River 
side-wheel steamers with which I was familiar, ex- 
cepting the arrangements for the protection of the 
pilot. It looked as if a very large boiler had been 
cut in two crosswise and a piece seven or eight feet 
long set on end in the pilot house and then split 



OFF FOR THE WAR. 33 

down on opposite sides, so that the pilot and his 
wheel were inclosed within the two halves. This 
formed an excellent protection for the pilot in his ex- 
posed position to the bullets of bushwhackers and 
bands of guerillas, which infested the country along 
the Mississippi River south of Cairo. 

We embarked without display ; indeed, we simply 
walked in over the old-fashioned stage plank, and 
without even a colored porter to assist us with our 
bairiraefe, or to offer to check it when once aboard. 

The steamer's decks were packed with recruits and 
government stores; indeed, she was loaded to tlie 
guards, and sometimes the waves would dash over 
them. My chum Hardin and I had quarters 'midship 
on the boiler deck. 

After we were assigned quarters, and were fairly 
settled, the captain waited until there was a suitable 
opening in the heavy floating ice, wliich almost covered 
the surface of the river, so that he could back the 
steamer out and turn its prow Dixieward. Then the 
bell struck, the machineiy started, the stage planks 
were drawn in, tlie liawser turned loose, and soon the 
steamer glided out into the turbulent, ice-fettered 
waters of the Ohio, and as the vessel's prow swung 
around to the South our backs were turned on home 
and loved ones. From hundreds of young lips came 
the words, " Farewell, Illinois," " Farewell, old 
Sucker State ! " 

We then began to realize that we had burned the. 
bridges behind us. A little tinge of homesickness 
came stealing over us, and w^e could but wonder if 
our feet would ever again press the soil of the 



34 ON WHEELS. 

" Prairie State," and our eves ever behold again tlie 
dear ones left behind, or whether we should be sac- 
rificed to swell the numbers of unmarked graves be- 
neath the magnolia and the jiine. 

Passing the Cairo point, and from the Ohio into 
the " Father of Waters," those serious reflections were 
soon banished by the novelty of seeing three States at 
once without knowing exactly which one we were in. 

By the time our steamer was under full headway 
the sun had set, and the already chilly air became 
more piercing, until it was freezing cold. Hardin 
and I looked in through the glass of the front cabin 
door, but " Uncle Sam " had begun to change his 
tactics a little, and now no soldiers, except officers and 
some old veterans, who were the steamer's guards, were 
allowed inside the cabin. A guard was stationed at 
the cabin entrance, which was as good as saying, 
''No recruits need apply." 

As Hardin and I peered through the glass door we 
could see a large red-hot coal stove surrounded by 
military officers and veterans, who were smoking., chat- 
ting, and having a comfortable, jolly time of it. We 
could also see a long stretch of tables being spread 
with white cloths, preparatory for the evening meal, 
all presenting a very inviting picture, as viewed from 
our chilly standpoint, and which made us eager to get 
inside. . 

Hardin and I both had a good knowledge of steam- 
boats, how they were officered, and the duties of each, so 
we decided the steward was the man for us to see in 
order to obtain more comfortable quarters; accord- 
ingly, we hunted him out and proposed our plan to 



OFF FOR THE WAR. 35 

him, which was to work in the cook house or cabin 
for board and lodging on our trip down the river. 

This, however, he speedily rejected, as he had more 
help and apphcants tlian he could nse ; however, lie 
informed ns there was one empty stateroom which 
he thought we could get bj paying four dollars each 
to Memphis, which was as far as this transport was 
cliartered to go. He also offered to see the clerk 
and endeavor to procure the room for ns if we de- 
sired. The amount mentioned did not include meals, 
but we told him to do the best he could for us. lie 
soon returned with the cheering word that he had 
succeeded. So, after securing our tickets, we got our 
traps and moved in, and were soon chatting with the 
comfortable group around the blazing fire. 

From this more genial point of view, as we looked 
out, we beheld quite a different scene from the one 
we had looked in upon. Peering through the same 
glass door through which we had made our attractive 
observations could be seen the grinning faces, blue 
noses, and chattering teeth of our less fortunate com- 
rades. Although the dividing wall which separated 
the "ins" and the "outs" was but a thin plate of 
glass, yet there was avast difference in their condition, 
which we were now fully prepared to appreciate. 

Our stateroom was near the center of the cabin, so 
that when the table was set we were brought into 
close proximity to the large silver urn of hot coffee. 
By little courtesies, in the shape of cigars, sandwiched 
now and then with ten cent pieces, we soon succeeded 
in getting into the good graces of the head waiter, who 
had an eye to business. In this way our plain empty 



3G ON- WHEELS. 

till pint cups every meal, before the tables were 
cleared, found their way to the more noble polished 
silver urn, and returned to ns with its warm congrat- 
ulations and pressing invitation to call again, which, 
as if fearing to insult its gracious highness, they never 
failed to do. 

Throngh the same subtle medium hot rolls, beef- 
steak, potatoes, and other delicacies found the avenue 
the tin cups traveled, and each meal marched in and 
took ])osition on our bright tin plates ; indeed, we 
fared quite sumptuously in our private apartments. 

With the boys outside it was quite different. 
Government rations — coffee, sngar, bacon, and haid- 
tack — were issued to them. They had no means for 
cooking except at the fires under the boilers, or by 
bribing the cook to boil their pails of coffee on his 
galley stove. Besides, they had the cold to contend 
with, the hard deck to sleep on, and, having no 
checks, their baggage to look after ; and, the bag- 
gage being so great in quantity, and all of the same 
pattern, it was no easy matter to distinguish that be- 
longing to one recruit from any of the rest. To i elieve 
the situation somewhat in this matter small squads 
were formed, their baggage was thrown together, and 
they took turns in keeping guard over it. 

The tickets Hardin and I received answered as 
passes to let us out and in the cabin, and these we 
frequently loaned to the boys who were outside so 
that they could go in and get warm by the stove 
while we amused ourselves viewing the passing sights, 
towns, gunboats, etc. 

In passing gunboats we were invariably required to 



OFF FOR THE WAR. 37 

slacken speed and report -svlience we were from and 
wliitlier bound. I recall one very dark night when it 
was thought dangerous to advance on account of the 
heavy ice. We landed and remained all night under 
cover of a gunboat which was anchored out in the 
stream. Steam was kept up all night ; officers were 
at their posts, and to prevent an attack on the land 
side of the steamer videttes were placed well out in 
the woods to give the alarm in case of approaching 
danger. The night passed quietly, however, and we 
were not molested. 

Reaching Mem])his, Tenn., wo landed at a large 
wharf-boat at the foot of the levee, and disembarked. 
Of course, Hardin and I had to give up our comforta- 
ble quarters on the elegant steamer. Before we did 
so, however, the old waiter, who seemed to take quite 
a fancy to us, gave us a supply of good things for our 
haversacks, and, all things considered, we felt we had 
received full value for the four dollars we had paid 
for our tickets and the little extras we had given the 
waitei'. 

From some of the old soldiers we met with inside 
the cabin we had learned some points about packing 
knapsacks and rolling up blankets army fashion. 
Had we not had an excess of woolen goods beyond 
what old soldiers ever thous^ht of carryino; we mio'lit 
have gone ashore at Memphis with trim knapsacks. 
This we were ambitious to do, for w^itli cumbersome 
bundles, together with our smooth faces, we were 
certain to be recognized as raw recruits, a distinction 
whicli we very much disliked. Yet the old soldiers 
seemed to take malicious delight in calling us raw 



38 ON WHEELS. 

recruits, and often, to exasperate ns the more, would 
acid ; " Do your mothers know you're out." 

After landing w^e bade adieu to some of the 
steamer's guards we had become acquainted with on 
the trip, w^alked over the stage plank and the wharf- 
boat to the shore, not to find free 'busses with drivers 
eager to take us to the best hotels, but for a plunge, 
under a heavy load, into Memphis mud, ankle deep, 
on a march to Fort Pickens, some two miles out on 
the I'iver bluff, there to wait for transports to take us 
to Yicksburg, Miss. 

Here we were assigned quarters in tents, and had to 
wait only three days, and, on account of the deep mud, 
w^e were heartily glad we did not have to w^ait longer. 

While here we had our first sight of Confederate 
soldiers. Some twenty or more of them one day rode 
out on the opposite side of the river, a half mile or more 
distant. While they were halted on the river bank 
watching us climb up and down the high, steep, and 
slippery bank after water, a gunboat anchored out 
in the river threw a shell which exploded about 
twenty-five feet immediately above their heads, and 
which sent them pell-mell back from the river out of 
sight ; nor did they ever appear again. 

Here the blue-coats from Camp Butler, edging 
their way southward, began to meet the spring blue- 
birds winging their way northward. They were on 
our direct line of travel, and we boys wondered if 
any of them were the ones we had seen at home, and, 
if so, wdiy we might not whisper to them a little mes- 
sage for the dear ones there. 



CHAPTER IV. 
Joining My Regiment. 

tHE evening of our third day at Fort Pickens our 
down-river transport steamed into port. We 
at once received orders to pack np. This was a 
welcome order, for we were only too glad of the op- 
portunity to get away from the sticky nmd of the 
Men:ip]iis region. 

Arriving at the wharf we found a very large stern- 
wheel transport, provisioned for Yicksburg, awaiting 
us, and we were inmiediately marched aboard. 

Hardin and I again found ourselves with quarters 
on the boiler deck, and before we were fairly settled 
the cable was drawn in, the captain signaled the pilot, 
and out backed the steamer into the swift, muddy 
stream, and amid the gathering shades of evening we 
were soon under full head of steam for Yicksburg, 
with Memphis lost to view. 

The last of the old waiter's good things had by this 
time disappeared, and, finding that we could not get 
cpiarters inside the cabin without paying an exorbitant 
price, and the weather being much warmer tlian when 
we left Cairo, and our pocket-books being somewhat 
depleted, with no pay-day close in view, my clium and 
I decided to accept the situation, draw our plain 



40 ON WHEELS. 

rations, and take care of them in true soldier fasli- 
ion. 

It was about 9 p. m. before we could get a chance at 
the fire below so as to boil coffee and broil bacon, 
which, with hard-tack, made up our evening meal. 
AVIdle partaking of this army repast I thought I could 
understand why the old examining surgeons scru- 
tinized onr molai's so very minutely. No unsound 
tooth would have been half a matcli for that hard-tack, 
while fnlse ones would have been utterly useless. We 
afterward found ont that it was a good tiling that it 
was so hard, for, carried as it had to be in the large 
government wagons, often over rough corduroy roads, 
soda crackers and cream and butter wafers would 
soon have been ground to powder. So the absence of 
shoi-tening in the " tack *' kept it fresh much longer, and 
m-ide it hard so that it woidd stand rough traveling. 

Supper over — the dishes not washed, but simply 
wiped out with paper and put away in our individual 
oil-cloth cupboards — we proceeded to prepare for the 
night's lodging. In the absence of a black walnut 
bedstead and woven wire springs we substituted the 
steamer's deck. 

Our first mattress was genuine wool, but only the 
thickness of a government blanket. The second one, 
also, was wool in the shape of our di-ess- and overcoats, 
smoothly spread. Then came the first slieet, not of 
white muslin just from the laundry, but another 
wool blanket. Our remaining two blankets answered 
for top sheet and spread. Our knapsacks were laid 
together for bolster, and our blouses and pantaloons 
were folded and laid on top of these for pillows. 



JOIXIXG MV REGIMENT. 41 

AYlieii completed we found ourselves in possession 
of an average soldier's bed wliile on board a transport. 
But, notwithstanding onr fine woolen double mattress, 
about an hour at a time was as long as we could quietly 
rest, when we found it necessary to ''spoon" to the right 
or to the left, and thus change position to prevent the 
eagles on onr brass buttons in our upper mattress from 
gouging holes in our youthful and tender anatomy. 

Our bed, however, had several good features. N^o 
burglar could hide under it. In case we rolled out 
we did not have far to drop, and the floor being 
about as soft as our bed it would not wake us 
up. Then, when once awake in the morning we were 
decidedly glad of the opportunity of getting up with- 
out waiting for some one to pull us out. It was 
theref«)re strongly conducive to early rising — a very 
good feature for soldier boys and others. 

One morning, about 4 o'clock, when steaming 
around a bend in the river some fifty miles north of 
Helena, Ark., we were suddenly wakened from our 
peaceful slumbers by a terrible crash that made our 
stanch steamer tremble like a leaf from stem to 
stern. Our boat had collided with another large 
transport coming around the bend from the south. 
Both steamers were under full headway. Each had 
given the proper signal, but the stubborn pilots were 
old enemies, as we afterward leai-ned, and neither 
would give an inch to the right or left, so the two 
steamers madly plunged into each other like two 
infuriated beasts. The shock threw down everyone 
standing, and those who were not already up immedi- 
ately arose and began to plan for their safety. 



42 ■ ON WHEEL 8. 

If the worst slionld come, Hardin and I decided to 
jerk off the liead board of onr bed — the two outside 
cabin shutters just back of our bolster — and jump into 
tlie river with them and use them as life floats with 
which to reach the shore, and very glad I was that I 
knew how to swim. 

Day was just dawning in the oast, and very 
fortunate indeed it was for our linge antagonist, which 
received decidedly the worst of the fierce encounter. 
It was also fortunate that the chaimel at this point 
ran close to the shore. With her bow badly stove in 
the unfortunate steamer slowly backed off in a sink- 
ing condition, and barely had time to reach the shore 
on the Arkansas side, when she sank. 

As the other boat did not blow up or catch fire, and 
there was a town from wliich aid could be obtained, 
after seeing all safely landed our transport steamed 
slowly and cautiously ahead, the proud champion of 
the duel, but with fifteen or twenty feet of her lower 
forward deck on the starboard side torn away, and a 
large hole stove in the hull within six inches of the 
water line. 

The hole was temporarily patched by the boat 
carpenter. This enabled us to reach Helena, the 
nearest government post, which we did about 3 p. m. 
that same day. Here, our transport being considered 
unsafe, we were landed to await another. The post 
commander, not having anticipated our detention, had 
no preparations in the way of tents or other shelter 
for our accommodation, consequently some of us were 
quartered in a brick church. We were requested not 
to injure or mar the building or any of its furnishings. 



JOINING 21 Y REGIMENT. 43 

and guards were placed to see that the order was 
obeyed — an unnecessary precaution, for, young and 
wild as we were, we had been brought up to respect 
the house of God. 

On enterino; the buildins^ Hardin and I, knowins: 
there wouid be some open floor space within the altar, 
made a bee-line for that locality, and immediately 
staked out our claim by spreading a blanket on the 
floor. This gave us the best sleeping accommodations 
the building afi^orded. We remained there three or 
four days, did all our cooking outside of the building, 
and left it in quite as good condition as we had often 
seen churches in the North the mornino^ after a festival 
or oyster supper. 

Marching back to the river, we embarked on our 
third and last trans[)ort on our voyage to Yicksburg. 
From here on we metgunl)oats much more frequently. 
The mariners seemed to take great delight in trying 
to torment us raw recruits by depicting some great 
calamity that was likely to befall us, telling us of 
t«u'pedoes that were ready to blow us into " smither- 
eens" if there was not some skillful piloting done. 
They insisted that Yicksburg had been retaken by the 
Johnnies, and that on nearing that point we were 
very likely to be captured or blown up. Their favorite 
story, however, was to the effect that a hirge Confeder- 
ate force had been seen a day or two before a few miles 
below with a battery, which at that time, perhaps, was 
lying in ambush for us. But as we had as late and reli- 
able news from Yicksburg as it was possible for them 
to have, fully assuring us that our flag was still floating 
in triumph there, these marine yarns amused us. 



44 ON- WHEELS. 

While en route from Helena to Yicksburg we 
could frequentlj see, especially on the west side of 
the river, where large plantation residences had been 
burned, the two tall chimneys of each standing with 
lower and upper fireplace intact, which seemed to 
serve the purpose of head and foot stones of the rest- 
ing-place of the ashes of the cremated mansions. 
Or, when seen, especially on the low, black bottom 
lands of Louisiana, they reminded us of the obelisks 
along the Nile, standing as silent monuments of great 
events. 

We learned that these buildings were not nearly all 
fired by Union soldiers, but that their proud owners 
often set the torch to their own homes to prevent 
them from falling into Federal hands. 

Our trip from Cairo down was quite tedious, mak- 
ing us all glad to get on terra fiinna once more. 
Arriving at Yicksburg one bright, sunny morning 
the latter part of January, 1S64, we soon disembarked 
and were marched up into the city, and halted near 
the famous courthouse, which, dui'ing the memora- 
ble siege, had been the target for a hundred Union 
guns. The many large, ragged holes in the court- 
house bore ample evidence of the good marksmanship 
of the Union cannoneers. But high above these 
rough, cannon-pierced breaches, and still on above 
the apex of the cupola, we beheld an ins])iririg sight. 
There in the fresh morning breeze proudly and tri- 
umphantly waved the grand old starry banner. 

W^e were to accompany a provision train to our 
regimental camp, some twelve miles to the cast of the 
city ; but learning we were not to start for an hour or 



JOINING MY REGIMENT. 45 

two, we concluded we would take a hasty glance at some 
of the sights. Our ramble soon brought us into a 
large artillery park, where we hastily inspected over a 
hundred guns of different sizes and patterns, togetlier 
with their deadly projectiles. Our attention was 
especially drawn to one piece of ordnance, a small 
brass two-pound cannon, mounted on a very light and 
graceful carriage, to be run by hand. The piece was 
liighly polished and tlie carriage newly ])ainted and 
freshly varnished, indicating that it was somebody's 
pet, and that we were not its only admirers. Boy- 
like, I could not keep my hands off it, and found it 
ran as lightly as an ordinary hand-cart. What a 
gun, thought I, for the Fourth of July ! Or what a 
battery four of them would make with six Shetland 
ponies to each, and with battery boys all nicely uni- 
formed ! And what boy would not have been proud 
to be captain of such a battery ? 

Passing on fi-om the park, with its then silent and 
harmless implements of war, and taking a last look at 
its boy-bewitching beauty, we were soon diving in 
and darting out of the many bomb-proof tunnels that 
honeycombed the Yicksbnrg hills, and which had 
been used by the Confederate soldiers and beleagured 
citizens as places of safety. These hills have incor- 
porated in their composition enough clay to make 
them tenacious and cohesive, and thus to render them 
susceptible of being tunneled without caving in. So 
the Johnnies found these tunnels their safest places 
of retreat during the bombardment. 

Before quitting our rapid ramble we visited the 
camp of the Eighth Illinois Infantry on the outskirts 



46 ON WHEELS. 

of the city. Tliere we found old friends and acquaint- 
ances from Naples, 111., who were occupying some of 
the deserted works the boys in gray liad so stubbornly 
defended and so reluctantly given up. 

There we spent but a few moments, delivered some 
messages from home to the boys, and on double- 
quick time went back to the courthouse. Arriving 
tlrjre almost out of breath, we found the boys had 
ali-eady received orders to move, and were preparing 
to start. 

We immediately got into our soldier harness, and 
were soon in tlie long moving column of heavily 
loaded white-covered wasroiis and rollicsome recruits 
heading eastward out of the city. Tlie road, much 
traveled and deep cut, up hill and down, through a 
rough country, led us through both the Confederate 
and Fedei-al works which were used during the siege, 
and some of which were in close speaking distance to 
each other. 

We arrived at camp about dusk. Although a short 
march, yet, as it was my first at carrying accouter- 
ments, I found myself quite weary, and experienced 
much pain from my frost-bitten feet. I immediately 
joined my regiment, whore I found, much to my sur- 
prise, Kic Fulks, a young man who at one time 
worked for my father, and Dan Haskell, a young 
farmer from near Naples, with whom I was well 
acquainted and who was one of the regimental color- 
bearers. As soon as they learned I was in the squad 
of recruits they hunted me up and escorted me to the 
log cabin their mess were occupying, where I was in- 
troduced in good shape to seven other old soldiers of 



JOINING MY REGIMENT. 47 

the mess, and to Jack, the colored cook, an escaped 
Mississippi slave about seventeen years old. 

The mess were all grown men, and wlien Dan and 
W\c entered the cabin with me they said : " Boys, 
here is a youngster from our town in Illinois. His 
father and he are both friends of ours, and if there 
arc no objections we want to take liim into our 
mess." 

Xo one dissenting, I was at once adopted into their 
army home by these nine big bronzed brothers in 
arms wlio afterward shielded me in many ways as 
mucli as if I had been their own younger brother; 
and I have always looked upon that evening's re- 
ception by that old mess as one of the most fortunate 
events and brightest spots in my checkered army ex- 
perience. Besides being congenial, and possessing 
sterling soldierly qualities, in this mess we had two 
noncommissioned officers, Sergeant William Close, 
and Dan Haskell, the regimental color-sergeant; 
and in every respect it was equal to any in the com- 
pany. 

My chum, Hardin Abrams, was also fortunate in 
getting into Orderly Sergeant Henry Stall's mess. 
But, strange as it may seem, intimate friends as we 
were at home Hardin and I never messed together 
after reaching our regiment. Indeed, it was often 
the case with soldier boys that their warmest friends 
after reaching their regiments were those whom they 
never met before. However, Hardin and I made up 
for our separation by many pleasant visits to each 
other's mess. 
4 



CHAPTER V. 
Camp Life. 

f J HERE not being cabins enougli to shelter all, 
\ some of llie less fortunate recruits had to mess 
together in tents wliich were far less comfortable 
than the ca])ins, which had two rows of bunks across 
one end and a capacious stick and clay fireplace at the 
other end. 

It was dark when I first entered our cabin, but a 
cheery pine-knot fire on the hearth, where Jack was 
preparing supper, illuminated the room so I could 
see every nook and cranny in it. This was an ideal 
place for winter quarters. Tlie cracks between the 
})ine logs of which the cabin w^as constructed were 
well chinked and daubed with clay. Along the sides 
of the cabin were numerous pegs, upon which we 
hung our nniskets, accouterments, and our clothing. 
The fioor was hard and clean swept. Our broom was 
made of a bundle of small cane stems with the 
leaves on. On one side of the cabin was a door 
swinging on Avoodcn hinges, and having a wooden 
latch, while on the opposite side was a wooden win- 
dow or shutter. The clapboard roof, which was ex- 
posed inside, was held in place by heavy poles. 

The furniture consisted of a ^ood-sized mess table 



CAMP LIFE. 49 

made of boards, a slab bench fur each side of it, and 
for extra seats there were several homemade stools. 
A few cracker-boxes resting on their sides, one on top 
of tlie other, with openings in front, made a very re- 
spectable looking and qnite a convenient cnpboard, 
which, with onr broom, completed onr cabin's fur- 
nishings. 

Tired and hungry as I was when I first entered, it 
struck me as being a very cosy nest. As soon as I 
got my heavy knapsack off, and the introduction was 
over, and I had taken a good wash, Jack had the supper 
ready and u]), and we suiTOundcd the table. 

For supper we had the I'cgulation beans and bacon, 
desiccatt potatoes, 'tack dry and 'tack fried, and, 
as I was nipany, some pickles which one of the boys 
had dodged out to the sutler's and bought, with 
some apple-butter for dessert. The coffee — the like 
of which, it seems to me, has never been imported 
since the sixties — cleared with cold water, and wdiich 
I drank without " trinnnings," was simply supei'b. 

The brilliant pine knot illumination, together with 
the relishuble repast, was very enjoyable. It seemed 
to me as if the cabin, the cook, and these genial com- 
rades were all conspiring to make me feel welcome ; 
and, as I have before observed, that evening's recep- 
tion l)y these old soldiers was one of the brightest ex- 
])eriences in all my army life. 

When taps sounded for lights to be put out I was 
a little curious to know where Jack was going to 
sleep. The cabin afforded no loft for his bed, and 
there appeared to be nothing but the bunks for the 
mess. Finally, I saw him down on his knees in front 



50 ON WHEELS. 

of one of the lower bunks, vvliicli were about two and 
a lialf feet from the floor, unrolling a large bundle, 
which, to my great relief, proved to be his bed ; and 
before I had linished bathing my sore and swollen 
feet, and was ready to retire, Jack was snugly stowed 
away under the bunks, snoring a heavy sub-bass, utterly 
oblivious of mess pans and kettles and of all culinary 
cai-es. 

Before retiring, however, he, like all good domes- 
tics, made some preparations for tlie morning meal, 
which I watched quite closely, but did not fully un- 
derstand until breakfast time. 

He first took a large heavy sheet-iron mess \y<xn and 
placed in it a lot of hard-tack, set it on the floor, and 
then took the butt eijd of a musket cleaidy wiped off 
with his dish-cloth, and, holding the pan securely be- 
tween his feet, gave the 'tack a vigorous pounding. 
When the crackers were sufficiently i)ulverized to suit 
him he poured some water in the pan, i)laced a cover 
over it, and set it on the hearth to soak until morn- 
ing. 

When I lay down in our bunk for the night with 
Nick I found it was filled up at least six inches deep 
with soft grass and leaves which were covered over 
with a blaidvet, the edges of which were tucked un- 
der to hold them in place. 

I needed no rocking in this luxurious army couch 
after my day's niai-ch to put me to sleej^, and very 
soon, securing a guide book from old Moi'pheus, I 
silently went marching through the mysterious land 
of dreams, and when reveille sounded in the morning 
it seemed as if I had but just gotten into bed, and had 



CAMP LIFE. 51 

just begun iny explorations througli the enchanting 
country. 

On awaking one of the first things to meet my 
drowsy gaze in tlie lirehghted room was Jack with a 
musket apparently trying to pound out what appeared 
to me to be the bottom of the mess pan which con- 
tained the crackers he had prepared the evening 
before. But my keen scent was not long in making 
tlie discovery that he w^as grinding coffee, and 1 ob- 
served that he had a tall sheet-iron mess kettle 
between his feet this time instead of the mess pan. 

When we w^ent out to roll call it w^as barely light 
enough for the orderly sergeant to see to read the 
names of the soldier boys. Several, I noticed, were 
but half dressed. One big fellow was wrapped up in 
a blanket like an Indian chief. This, of course, would 
not answer so well for close inspection or dress parade, 
but the Fourteenth was an old regiment that liad 
seen much hard fighting and had passed its day of rigid 
discipline, so that the big soldier's Indian toilet only 
created a hearty laugh instead of eliciting a repri- 
mand. 

AYe new recruits now, for the first time, had our 
names placed on the company roll. This put us in a 
position for duty and for receiving our guns. As we 
had now been in the service over a month without 
either we had begun to feel somewhat like poor 
boys on the Fourth of July without any fireworks, 
and were very eager to obtain our pieces. 

At breakfast the reason for Jack's manipulations 
w^ith the hard-tack the evening before v/itli musket 
and water was made plain. The operation had pro- 



52 - ON WHEELS. 

duced a hard-tack batter, and tliat iiioriiing I tried my 
iirst army slap-jacks, a ]mstry which we ate with 
melted sugar siiiip, which Jack liad prejxired with 
the surplus sugar not required for our coffee. Thus 
prepared and eaten they were quite palatable— about 
fourth cousins to buckwheat cakes, as they seemed to 
me, and a dish w^hich I afterward found with mo- 
notonous frequency on our army bill of fare. 

Breakfast over, accompauied by iS^ic Fulks I took 
a survey of the camp. I found it to be quite large 
and pleasant, situated on rolling ground in a forest of 
stately pine, oak, and beech trees, through which 
threaded several small streams of clear water. !N^u- 
merouslong, broad streets had been cut through, which 
were heavily flanked on either side by substantial log 
cabins. On the outskirts of this improvised Yankee 
city were many clusters of white tents and corrals of 
white covered army wagons, which formed a pretty 
fi'inge to the picturesque scene. 

The camp this bright Januarj^ morning presented 
an animated picture. Over the different headquarters 
in the balmy breeze gracefully floated the starry 
banner. Here and there on the clean drill grounds, 
in bright blue garb, were regiments and battalions, 
with their polished guns gleaming in the sunlight, on 
dress parade and inspection. Handsomely mounted 
orderlies dashed hither and thither with their orders. 
The sharp reports of the rifles of the returning pick- 
ets could be heard on the outskirts of the camp as 
they came off duty. These were replaced by fresh 
details under sergeants and corporals with guns at 
right shoulder shift and carrying w^ell-fllled canteens 



CAMP LIFE. 53 

and haversacks, wlio gavly tramped past us as they 
went out to tlieir posts. Dozens of squads of awk- 
ward recruits, under corporals wlio seemed disposed 
to assume brigadier airs, were seen awkwardly taking 
their limbs through the difficult evolutions of the 
drill. The inspiring roll of fife and drum, the clear 
notes of the cornet in the brigade brass bands, render- 
ing martial airs, filled the clear morning air with 
thrilling nmsic. 

Along the pretty moss-covered banks of the clear, 
pebbly, winding brooks, and everywhere under the 
stately giants of the forest, could be seen the bright 
c:imp fires with their blue smoke lazily curling heaven- 
ward, while around them were gathered hundreds of 
merry plantation Negroes busily engaged washing 
and hanging out clothes, singing their comic planta- 
tion songs, and chanting their weird melodies. 

In the cavalry camps and artillery parks could be 
heard the shrill bugle blasts and neighing of horses, 
and in the corrals the braying of mules, while the 
steady ring of the blacksmith's anvil in the busy 
camp that winter morning clearly portended an early 
move for a vigorous spring campaign. 

This whole scene made a lively military camp 
panorama which fully met my highest expectations of 
army camp life, and was well calculated to thrill the 
average boy with a spirit of purest patriotism, and 
wdtli Avild delight. 

As for myself, fresh from my home and the matter- 
of-fact experiences of everyday life, this fascinating 
scene filled me with electric enthusiasm. Shouting 
being out of order, the best I could do was to c^ive 



54 ON WHEELS. 

vent to my pent up emotions by some lively whistling, 
which, as I thought, must have astonished the birds 
in the boughs above my head. 

During our stroll Nic introduced me to the offi- 
cers and men of our company. As Captain Strong, 
who enlisted us, never returned to the regiment, our 
company was under the command of its iirst lieuten- 
ant, John Kirkman, of Winchester, 111. 

The first colonel of our regiment was John M. 
Palmer, afterward major-general ; but at the time of 
which I write it was commanded by Colonel Hall. 
B. F. Stephenson, after whom the G. A. R. Post of 
Springfield, 111., is named, was our surgeon, and Pev. 
W. J. Putledge, one of the pioneer ministers of the 
Illinois Conference, Methodist Episcopal Church, was 
chaplain of our regiment at that time. 

Our regiment belonged to the Second Brigade, 
Fourth Division, Seventeenth Army Corps, which 
was commanded by the highly esteemed Major-Gen- 
eral James II. McPherson. 

On the afternoon of this first day, after reaching our 
regiment, we recruits drew our much-coveted Enfield 
rifles and accouterments, and we were at once put at 
hard drilling under a competent drillmaster. Corporal 
John Platner, a medium-sized, swarthy-complexioned, 
heavy-muscled young man, with the agility of a cat. 
Sometimes, when touched off with a spark of im- 
patient, nervous energy occasioned by some recruit's 
awkward motions, this officer would call the squad's 
attention, and while we stood at parade rest would 
treat us to an exhibition of Hardee's Tactics with his 
scrupulously clean and highly polished rifle, wdiich 




Armed and Accoutered. 
From a War-time Photograph. 



CAMP LIFK 55 

for skillful maneuvering was simply astonishing ; and 
at sncli times Lis rapid movements were performed 
with the admirable precision of machinery. 

During these diills we also had some target prac- 
tice, so that we might become familiar witli our guns, 
and we soon learned how even a good-looking army 
ritle could kick. At tliis time our ammunition was 
buck and ball — a round ounce ball in a paper cartridge 
with tliree large buckshot secured to it. Tliis made 
a heavy charge, and, if one did not ling his gun tightly 
to his shoulder when firing, the piece was liable to 
almost knock him down. Having to bite off the end 
of these tough paper cartridges before loading fully 
demonstrated to us the wisdom of the old examining 
surgeon's rigid refusal to accept any recruit who was 
minus a good set of incisors. 

Our life in this delightful camp with its com- 
fortable quarters, however, Avas soon to be brought to 
a close, and we were transferred to other scenes, for 
we had been enlisted for an important work, which 
must be done even though it should be at the sacrifice 
of all ease and comfort. 




CHAPTcR VI. 

Ox TO Camp Cockax. 

E liad been kept busy at hard drilling but a 
few days when orders came for us to pack 
up and marcli over to Camp Cocran, which 
was situated some live or six miles distant on the 
bluffs near the crossing of the Big Black River, where 
General Sherman was concentrating his army for his 
famous raid across the state to Meridian. 

Although we recruits liad but fairly got settled 
with our regiment i:i its snug quarters, yet the order 
was not unwelcome, for we were all eager fur adven- 
ture. 

When the order was received immediately the en- 
tire camp became a scene of lively commotion. Long 
stacks of arms soon appeared in the streets as if bv 
magic in front of the different quarters. Suspended 
from their fixed bayonets were swung the soldiers' 
broad leather belts with well-filled cartridge and 
cap boxes attached. Beside these hung haversacks 
in whose depths our fingers so often fumbled among 
tin plates, knives and forks, and spoons foi- the stray 
crumb of cracker. Touching these in intimate re- 
lations swunor friendlv canteens freshlv filled from 
the bubbling brook. On the ground around and 



ox TO CAMP corn AX. 57 

uiiJeriieatii each stack of guns were great piles of 
knapsacks and rolls of army blankets, the latter with 
their two ends tied together fonning a woolen sash to 
be swims: over their owners' shoulders. 

AVitli their personal effects packed and out of the 
■way, the dwellers in tents drew the stakes, when ropes 
immediately slackened, the small white houses col- 
lapsed, fell to the gionnd, were quickly spread out, 
and, with poles placed within them, were soon rolled 
up, securely bound, and made ready to load. 

The loud crack of the teamster's long, limber 
blacksnake was now heard cutting the moining air, 
and soon appeared at the end of the streets six pairs 
of long, erect-eared mules to each white-covered army 
wagon, shying and dodging to right and left at the 
smoldering camp fires and the heaps of I)lack camp 
kettles anch pans. Halting every few rods along the 
streets, the tents were quickly L:»aded. In the space 
between these and the wagon-bows at the top the 
colored cooks stowed away their cooking utensils, and 
when all were in place, and draw-strings to the covers 
were fastened, drivers spoke cheerily to their teams, 
tugs straightened, and at once the heavily loaded 
wagons rolled out into the roads and took their places 
in the moving train. 

The command of company officers to " Fall in " is 
given; the roll of drums and blasts of bugles are 
heard ; belts with cartridge-boxes are hurriedly 
buckled on ; strong arms hastily slip through knap- 
sack, canteen, and haversack straps ; old and young 
lieads bob through snug rolls of army blankets ; 
brown hands grasp burnished rifles ; color-bearers 



58 ON WHEELS. 

slip the oilcloth cases from the bright standards and 
unfurl them to the breeze ; regimental officers gayly 
gallop to the head of their columns ; coinj)anies double 
quick into line, and dress on the colors; the colonel's 
stentorian voice calls, "Attention, battalion! For- 
^vard ! March ! " and we are off. The drum and fife 
corps, marching at the head of the first platoon just in 
rear of regimental mounted officers, strikes up the 
lively strains of the old but ever-inspiring "Yankee 
Doodle ; " in even ranks and steady steps — tramp, 
tramp, tramp — resound the boys' heavy brogans, 
keeping time to the lively tune; forty or fifty fun- 
loving colored cooks, old and young, bring up the 
rear of each regi-ment, and tlie camp is deserted, its 
beautiful white-fringed borders having vanished like 
mist before a brisk breeze. 

At home, when moving, we would take the house 
furniture and leave the house, but in the army we 
took tlio house and left the furniture. As we fell in 
line and cast a glance back over the lately tented field 
the eye rested on naught beneath the towering trees 
of the forest save a broad expanse and wilderness of 
uncanny soldier beds, benches, tables, and cupboards, 
white wreaths of smoke from the dying camp fires 
were curling heavenward, and groups of colored refu- 
gees were chasing through the abandoned quarters 
picking up anything of possible value to them that 
the boys had overlooked or had thrown away. 

Up to this time I had not been in line with my 
company except at the morning roll call, and now, as 
I obeyed Lieutenant Kirkman's command to fall in 
line, and sprang into position with tlie old regiment 



ON TO CAMP C OCEAN. 59 

headed for the heart of the Confederacy, fully armed 
and equipped and instructed in tlie art of biting off a 
cartridge and ramming it home witli my iron ramrod, 
I fully recognized my importance as a soldier ; and as 
I dressed on tlie glorious colors carried by one of my 
own mess, and kept step to the music beside my bunk- 
mate, Nic, my boyish pride soared to dizzy heights 
which it had never reached before, and certainly has 
not since attained.* 

Camp Cocran was reached about 11 a.m., and with 
but slight fatigue. 

The novelty of this my first march with my -regi- 
ment, together with the stirring music which the 
numerous bands discoursed, so fascinated and ab- 
sorbed my thoughts that, although I marched under a 
very heavy load, I scarcely noticed the burden, and 
when ordered to halt and stack arms I felt almost as 
fresh as when I started, and also realized that among 
music's many charms it possesses none more marked 
than in lessening a soldier's heavy burdens. 

We were ordered to halt and stack arms near a 
large brick mansion which was used as the general's 
headquarters, and which stood in the center of an old 
abandoned plantation, the rail fencing of which had 
done duty in boiling coffee for General Grant's men. 

The weather had changed during our march, and it 



♦In Memorial Hull in the State House at Springfield, 111., may be 
seen the two identical Hags under whose briglit folds we boys slept, 
marched, fouglit, and saw our comrades die, and at the foot of these 
flag staffs, on tlie floor of the glass flag case, along with the photo- 
graphs of some of my comrades, you will find one of the author in 
his wheel cIkm". 



t)0 ON WHEELS. 

was now threatening rain, which made ns eager to get 
up onr shelters, and gather some bedding before the 
leaves should get wet. 

The different quarters were soon marked out and 
tents unloaded, we receiving two for our mess, and in 
almost as short a time as the white cottages had col- 
lapsed at Camp Cowen thej were up, stiff and taut, 
at Camp Cocran. 

While some of our mess were employed putting up 
the tents and ditching around theui, others started 
with blankets and axes on double quick time for the 
woods in search of bedding and furniture material, 
while Jack went in the same direction for wood and 
water with which to prepare dinner. M(jss and leaves 
were found near the camp, also forks and poles for 
table and bed legs, and for crosspieccs, but nothing 
suitable was found for bed bottoms or for table top. 

JN^ic, Sergeant Close, and myself, while following a 
good sized stream, about a half mile from camp, were 
suddenly halted by pickets stationed near the edge of 
a large cane brake, wliich was so dense that it was 
impenetrable except along paths which were worn 
through hy animals running at large. The cane was 
from fifteen to twenty feet high. This was what we 
were looking for, and, selecting the sizes suitable for 
our purposes, we cut it down and into proper lengths 
for our beds and tables, and in suitable quantities, until 
it required several trips for ourselves and others of 
our mess to carry it to camp. 

After getting in we wove a sheet or mattress of the 
cane, single thickness, compactly, with a cross piece 
two feet from each end, and wide enough to cover the 



ON TO CAMP C OCEAN. 61 

head and foot crosspieces of our bed, and to extend 
up each side six inches. The sides were secured by 
fastening them to tlie forks, which were left long 
enough for that purpose. Our knapsacks held the 
bedding in at the head, while a chunk of wood served 
for that purpose at the foot. The tables were made in 
like manner, minus the sides. 

The canes used for the beds were about one and a 
fourth inches in diameter, and those for the tables 
about three fourths of an inch in diameter, and we 
used such quantities as to seem rather extravagant on 
good fishing pole stock. 

1 expect that John Chinaman and his funny little 
Japanese cousin would have shaken their heads, 
squinted their almond eyes, and considered "Melican 
solger man's" bamboo work rather crude, but it 
nevertheless made decidedly the best spring bed I 
ever slept on while in the army. 

Our small wedo^e tents, thanks to Yankee ino^enuitv, 
had a yard- wide piece of old tent cloth sewed all 
around the bottom, which converted them into quite 
roomy wall tents, so that we could have our beds well 
up from the ground. There not being sufficient 
room inside our tents for the tables, this piece of 
dining room furniture had to be set up in the street 
just in front of our tents. 

Before we had completed our furniture the rain 
came down in torrents, and the weather turned so cool 
we very mucli missed our cheery fireplaces in the log 
cabins. But none of us missed them so much as did 
Jack, who while cooking at such times had to put on 
an oilcloth blanket and get out in the rain, which 



62 OX WHEELS. 

persisted in putting out liis green wood fire, and so 
tried his patience tliat liis ebony countenance became 
more clouded, often, than was the skv above us. Of 
course, in such weather we ate our meals in our tents. 
Camp Cocran was much larger than Camp Cowen. 
The weather soon cleared uji, but remained cool, and 
the brief time we remained here was improved by us 
recruits in hard drilling. 

Here I found an uncle in the Seventy-sixth Illinois 
Regiment, Volunteer Infantry. They had been 
camped here for some time, and were quite com- 
fortably situated, having good stick and clay fire- 
place chinmeys, many of which were topped off with 
open-ended pork barrels ; but as we knew we were to 
remain but a few days we did not indulge in this 
luxury. Tlie entire camp was subjected to a general 
inspection of men, arms, ammunition, and everything 
pertaining to a soldier's campaigning outfit. 

Xew clothing and shoes were issued, questionable 
cartridges were thrown away, and our boxes supplied 
with fresh ones. Men who were ailing attended the 
sick call, were examined by the surgeons, and, if not 
considered able to withstand the fatigue of a long 
march, were ordered to remain in camp and look 
after the tents and surplus clothing and baggage that 
should be dispensed with in order to put our army in 
light marching trim. 

As to my own personal wardrobe, my heavy double 
blanket was cut in twain ; my overcoat, dresscoat, 
and one blanket were left in camp. I drew an oil- 
cloth blanket having a slit in the center, so that I 
could put my head through it when marching in the 



017 TO CAMP G OCR AN. 63 

mill, in place of tlie one left. The old mess advised 
me to throw away my heavy boots before starting, 
and draw a pair of sewed brogans instead. But I 
said, "!No, sir!'' That was asking ^c>^ nuich. Hadn't 
I had those ten dollar boots made on purpose to wear 
to the war, and with which to march throngh the 
Confederacy? So, notwithstanding all their argu- 
ments and })ersnasions, to my sore grief in the future, 
as the reader will learn, I stuck to my high-top boots. 
I believe it was previously mentioned that I did 
not retain n\y company letter and regimental 
numbers on my cap very long. On reaching my 
regiment I soon noticed that the veterans had no dis- 
tinguishing marks on their hats, and JS'ic advised me 
not to put them on the new hat which 1 had drawn 
and was now wearing in place of my cap, telling me 
that they might trap me, or reveal my identity if I 
sliould be discovered while engaged in some foraging 
expedition. So I concluded to dispense with them. 
But I could not dispose of my pretty ornaments to 
anyone. Even Jack refused to take them as a gift, 
saying: " Look hea, Massa Will, Jack's gwine on to 
dat ere raid, too, an' dis young nigger dun war no 
'stinguishin' mark on his pusson. needer." 
5 




CHAPTER VII. 

Off for the Meridian Raid. 

.K the lirst of February General Sherman ar- 
rived from Memphis. On tlie third, with 
light hearts, we broke camp and marched out 
under flying colors, leaving all tents and extra bag- 
gage behind. The day was bright. We headed east 
and crossed the Big Black Eiver in tlie forenoon on 
pontoon bridges just north of the burned Jackson and 
Vicksburg Railroad bridge. 

Here the army was halted for a few hours on an 
open plateau of bottom land for the purpose of issuing 
to the command tliree days' rations, and for the differ- 
ent organizations to be allotted their respective posi- 
tions in the future line of march. 

Our regiment was among the first to cross, and 
halted well to the east and center of the plateau. 
Glancing back westward we could see crossing the 
pontoons and tiling in right and left on the open 
ground acres and acres of the boys in blue, with their 
gun-barrels glistening in the sun ; well mounted 
cavalry troops, with their yellow-striped jackets and 
rattling sabers ; batteries of Parrott and howitzer 
guns drawn by superb horses, witli their gay riders in 
uniforms trimmed in red ; and an immense train of 



OFF FOR THE MERIDIAN RAID. Go 

white-topped ambulance, medicine, ammunition, and 
provision wagons drawn by well-kept and newly shod 
mules. The view was entirely unobstructed by tent 
or tree, and was a typical army scene. 

Soon the entire command was busily engaged in 
drawing rations. Infantry, cavalry, and artillery 
sergeants w'itli squads of men were seen crossing and 
recrossing eacli other's track, going in all directions 
from the provision wagons to their companies, with 
boxes of hard-tack on their shoulders, sides of bacon 
on their heads, and with large camp kettles filled 
with roasted coffee, sugar, salt, and hard soap. 

On arriving at their companies boxes and vessels 
containing rations were placed on the ground ; cracker- 
boxes were soon pried open by the orderlies with a 
bayonet, or tlieir covers knocked oif with borrowed 
wagon hammers, and their contents then issued in 
mess pans for the different messes. When in camp 
the rations were turned over to the mess cooks, but 
on the march they were subdivided and issued to the 
several members of the mess, each soldier taking care 
of his own. 

At once twenty thousand soldier boys were seen on 
their knees on Mississippi soil, not, indeed, to pay hom- 
age to ''King Cotton," but in devotion to some of 
" Uncle Sam's " swine brisket and hard-tack, coffee, 
etc., all busily occupied in packing them away in 
their haversacks. 

Before starting Nic had helped me make three 
small sacks out of oilcloth in which to put my coffee, 
sugar, and salt ; and had provided me with a piece 
eight or ten inches square in which to wrap my bacon, 



66 ON WHEELS. 

and a small piece for my soap, which was carried in 
mj knapsack. This oilcloth I found an excellent pro- 
tection for mj rations. Recruits who were not thus 
provided soon found they had a bad mix of provisions 
in their haversacks, for with their rations wrapped in 
paper they were soon softened by the bacon grease^ 
and the swinij,-ing, jolting motion given the haversacks 
caused the flinty hard-tack to grind and thoroughly 
mix with their other contents. All such unfortunate 
recruits were soon easily distinguishable by a large 
grease-spot on the left hip of their blue breeches. 

The three days' rations I received were in excess of 
tlie room in my haversack. Kic, however, kindly 
aided me by suggesting that I put the surplus 'tack 
in my knapsack, and to be very particular in packing 
it so as not to leave any corners to protrude out in any 
way, or they would gouge or chafe me. He also in- 
structed me to secure and pack away twelve or flfteen 
pieces that others might leave, if I should find them. 
Some, even of the old veterans, would not undertake 
to carry so much, but depended on begging or foraging 
for a fresh supply if their rations ran short before 
another issue. 

After rations were packed we filled our canteens 
with fresh water, Kic cautioning me to keep mine 
well corked, informing me that if it should leak and 
soak its woolen cover and my trousers the two rubbing 
together would chafe and scald me. This I found 
excellent advice, for afterward, when marching, I 
often saw soldier boys who had not taken this precau- 
tion with their right limbs rubbed raw from this can- 
teen friction. 



OFF FOR THE MERIDIAN RAID. G7 

As none but louded wagons were to accompany ns, 
the empty ones, from which our first tliree days' ra- 
tions were supplied, returned to Yicksburg. Tliis w^is 
our last opportunity, therefore, before moving on to 
get letters started on the way to the dear ones at 
home. Such occasions the boys never failed to im- 
prove. Accordingly, knapsacks were quickly opened, 
paper, envelopes, and the little round wooden-cased 
inkstands taken out and opened, and with the white 
sheets of paper spread on cracker-boxes, drumheads, 
cartridge-boxes, artillery caissons, or anything we 
could substitute for a writing desk, brown soldier 
hands hastily jotted down a few lines something like 
the following : 

" We have just ci'ossed Black Eiver. Are starting 
on a raid under General Sherman with twenty thou- 
sand troops ; have three days' rations in our haver- 
sacks, and will be accompanied by a large provision, 
and ammunition train. Expect to be gone some time. 
Do not be uneasy or worry if you should fail to hear 
from us often. " Uncle Billy " [the soldiers' pet 
name for General Sherman] will bring us through 
all right. AVe are well and in good spirits, and will 
write the first opportunity we'have to mail a letter. 

" Yours affectionately, 

"P. S. — Have orders to move in ten minutes. 
Good-bye to all. God bless and keep you." 

" K. B. — Direct to Yicksburg, and put in some post- 
age stamps. Hurrah for the Union ! 



68 ON WHEELS. 

I can voneli for the above being about the purport 
and tenor of thousands of letters the old wagons car- 
ried back to Yicksburg that day. 

There was one important item of interest, how- 
ever, to both sender and receiver that I can as cer- 
tainly vouch they did not contain, and that was our 
point of destination. It was very clear to us where 
we had been when we got back, but at that time this 
desirable piece of information seemed to be lodged 
under the crown of " Uncle Billy's " hat, and he was 
not at all inclined to be communicative on the sub- 
ject. But the army seemed to have unlimited confi- 
dence in their general, as well as he in them, so there 
was no complaining. However, there were a great 
many conjectures and surmises concerning our objec- 
tive point. Many seemed to think we were going to 
Mobile, Ala., to operate w^ith our fleet in the capture 
of that city. Others thought we were going to the 
eastern part of the State to destroy railroads. But all 
was mere guessw^ork, and since reading General 
Sherman's memoirs I doubt if any beside himself 
knew our destination at the time, not even Generals 
McPherson and Ilurlbut, who commanded the right 
and left columns of the expedition. 

When we received the order to be ready to march 
in ten minutes letters were cut short, and fixtures 
were hurriedly stowed in our knapsacks. One man 
for each mess, or perhaps for a whole company, took 
our letters to the wagons which were to carry the 
mail to Yicksburg. 

Before starting, I noticed Generals Sherman and 
McPherson seated on their horses, surrounded by a 



OFF FOR THE MERIDIAN RAW. 69 

group of officers and orderlies, critically examining 
with their field glasses a heavy body of timber in our 
front through which we were to pass. Soon an orderly 
galloped from the group in the direction of a cavalry 
regiment, and that body at once dashed out in front 
of us. They, however, met but a small reconnoiter- 
ing cavalry force of the enemy, which fell back after a 
few shots were exchanged at long range. 

We moved out without deployment in compact col- 
umns, so that the Confederate cavalry would have but 
slight chance to dash in on us and get away. 

General Sherman did not always burn all the 
bridges behind liim. When his command was safely 
across on the east side of the Big Black, and the wagon 
train that was to return to Yicksburg had recrossed 
to the west side, the canvas pontoons on which we 
crossed were taken out of the river, collapsed, folded 
up, and loaded on the wagons with their W'Ooden 
frames, stringers, floors, etc., together with their rope 
tackle, the whole outfit making no small train of itself. 

The rear of our colunm had not advanced more 
than two or three miles from the river when the Con- 
federate cavalry appeared behind us, completely cut- 
ting us ofE from our base of supplies, and causing us 
to depend for food upon the region through which we 
passed. But while they soon surrounded us on all 
sides, their force was not sufficiently strong to retard 
our progress longer than to give us time to rebuild 
bridges and remove obstructions placed in our way, 
while those behind us served as a spur to assist our 
rear guard in urging our stragglers forward. 

Our cavalry was employed the most of the time in 



;-0 ON- WHEELS. 

our front, carefully feeling our way, but never getting 
very far beyond supporting distance of our infantry 
and artillery. Our cavalry force, but one thousand 
two hundred strong, was under Colonel E. F. Winslow. 
This was deemed sufficient for all practical purposes 
on our marcli. But a cavalry force of ten thousand 
men^ under General W. S. Smith, had been ordered 
by General Sherman to start from Memphis on the 
first of February and march directly to Meridian and 
join us there. For some reason, however, they 
failed to start until the eleventh, and were headed oft' 
and defeated by General Forest, and so never reached 
us. 

We had proceeded but four or five miles on our 
march when we were ordered to halt and stack arms, 
and were given some tliirty minutes for dinner. Be- 
fore starting those who were not already supplied 
with quart buckets provided themselves with such 
made out of fruit or oyster cans with wire bails. 
For some reason unknown to me these were called 
" blickers." While on tlie march their rattle made 
quite a din, yet their utility and unquestioned right 
in a campaigner's outUt were fully demonstrated, for 
by their aid, M'ith a supply of water and wood, the 
soldier could have a cup of boiling coffee in a few 
minutes' time, which soldiers always prized. If we 
halted a dozen times a day, that often could be seen 
hundreds of men boiling coffee ; and if ordered to fall 
in line before it was druidv it was carried along and 
sipped out of the blickers or emptied into canteens 
and drunk out of them. 

On halting we would break ranks, unsling our 



OFF FOR THE MERIDIAN RAID. 71 

knapsacks, secure wood for fire, and wliile tliis was 
getting under way our roasted coffee was ground in 
our blickers with the butt ends of our baj'onets and 
was soon in readiness for use. Wliile our coffee was 
heating we would broil a slice of bacon by holding it 
over the fire on a forked stick, holding a cracker under- 
neatli to catch the dripping grease. 

These three luxuries made np the common bill of 
fare for a marching column. But this was frequently 
enlarged from the poultry yards, smokehouses, potato 
patches, and sheep, cattle, and swine herds of the 
enemy through whose land wo were marching ; and 
often did our boys regale themselves with choice 
milk and sirup and honey on this expedition. 

On this march all of the colored cooks did not go 
with "US. Our Jack, who was along, only helped with 
breakfast and supper; the midday meal was pre- 
pared individually. As he was not sworn into the 
service of course he could draw no rations, clothing, 
or pay. These our mess provided for by dividing our 
rations into eleven portions instead of ten, giving 
him one of them. Besides giving him one dollar 
each per month to do our cooking and washing, we 
also provided him with clothing from our cast-off 
garments. In this way thousands of colored army 
cooks who were not sworn into the service were pro- 
vided for. 

When on the march these cooks were not required 
to keep in ranks, and having no guns or accouter- 
ments to carry, they could, and often did, lighten our 
burdens. Jack often kept several regiments in ad- 
vance of us when we were not ourselves in tlie front. 



72 ON WHEELS. 

and on making a discovery of some good water he 
would rush back after our canteens, and by the time 
we came up would have them ready for us freshly 
filled. 

Sometimes w^hen our regiment was w^ell toward the 
rear of the marching coluum, or was acting as rear 
guard, our regimental wagons carrying our cooking 
utensils would get into camp an liour or so in advance 
of us. On such occasions Jack would go in with 
them, and l)y the time we reached camp, which w^as 
frequently after dark, we w^ould find our faithful 
cook seated on a pile of rails or w^ood whicli he had 
gathered, with mess pan and camp kettle on the 
ground beside him, filled with water, w^aiting for us, 
ready to prepare supper as soon as he could learn 
wliere we would bivouac. 




CHAPTER VIII. 
On the Makcii Through Jacksox. 

tHE first day out our brigade niarclied near tlie 
head of the column, so that Jack liad no op- 
portunitj of going in advance of ns to make 
preparations. As it was dark wlien we reached camp 
several of us assisted him in getting wood and water. 
A number of regiments were in advance of us, and 
already liad their fires started and suppers under way. 
The black pine smoke from these camp fires was 
very dense and blinding, and, at times, made it 
difficult to see or step without stumbling over some 
object or running into some person. 

Dan, the tall color-sergeant, and I, while going in 
search of some water, had to pass through wdiere 
several of these regiments were camped. In trying to 
keep up with Dan's long strides in the blinding 
smoke I had the misfortune to come in contact with 
a pile of knapsacks, tumbled headlong over them 
with my camp kettles and canteens, and, losing my 
balance, caught my toe under the end of one of a pair 
of long rails that w^ere occupied b}^ a happy party of 
steaming coffee blickers and sputtering frying pans, 
which, judging from their savory smell, were about 
ready to be taken from the fire. These were sur- 



74 ON WHEELS. 

rounded by ten or a dozen Imngrj, impatient Iowa 
soldiers. Mj unceremonious appearance on the scene 
at this juncture threw one of the rails out of place 
and upset the kettle party into the fire, nearly putting 
it out. The infuriated lowans instantly sprang to 
their feet amid the stifling smoke, and wildly shrieked 
for vengeance. I gathered myself and tinware up as 
quickly as possible, and took to my heels, but got 
several more tumbles before I considered myself at a 
safe distance from the fierce Iowa blizzard that was 
on my track. My safe escape was only niade possible 
by the extra smoke I had caused by upsetting the cof- 
fee and the protection of the old sergeant in my rear. 

When we returned with the water, for which we 
had to go nearly a quarter of a mile, the rest of the 
mess had some rails collected for fuel and for side- 
boards to our beds. The cheery fire was blazing, and 
on both sides of it, with foot ends next the fire, were 
our camping couches, all ready to receive those who 
should occupy them. These couches consisted of 
two good-sized rails laid parallel to each other on 
the ground, about the width of a blanket apart, 
with the space between filled up with leaves and a 
kind of long grass that grew in that section. Over 
these were spread the oilcloth and w^oolen blankets, 
while knapsacks were used for pillows. 

Each member of the mess contributed his share of 
coffee and bacon for the evening meal, and Jack did 
the cooking. During the repast, as we reviewed the 
events of the day, the Jolmnies came in for their 
share of praise for having cut and ricked up such a 
lot of fine dry wood for us. 



ON THE MARCH THROUGH JACKSON. 75 

The early February air was crisp and frosty, and 
when I snuo'iiled under our blankets beside Kic it was 
quite late, and lie was sound asleep, as were most 
of the boys, except a few colored cooks, who were 
carrying water and making preparations for an early 
breakfast. The fires had all died out, and a slight 
breeze had swept aside the dark canopy of smoke by 
which the camp had been enveloped. 

The night was perfectly clear, and over head, 
through the branches of the tall tree-tops, peered the 
old man out of the silvery moon, as if to guard ns in 
our slumbers. Around him shone myriads of bril- 
liant gems, as if so many angel-lighted lamps swung 
in space from heaven's blue-vaulted dome. Their 
light revealed the forms of thousands of brave men 
stretched prone upon the ground, wrapped in their 
blankets, and dreaming, perchance, of their far-away 
homes and loved ones. 

This being my first night in camp on the open 
field, the novelty of the scene and the many thoughts 
which went flitting through my mind drove sleep 
from my eyes until near midnight. All was quiet, ex- 
cept the heavy breathing and snoring of sleeping 
soldiers, the deep hush only broken now and then by 
the loud braying of some hungry government mnle 
and the " who-who-wlio, who, who, who ? " of some in- 
quisitive Mississippi owl, as if desiring to know what 
strange creature was disturbing the stillness of the 
night. 

These midnight confusions and new surroundings, 
together with the fact that we were now in the enemy's 
country, cut off entirely from friends, led me in ray 



76 ON WHEELS. 

reflections back to the dear old home-circle, and to 
the school I had left ; and I could but contrast my 
surroundings now with what they were before, when 
Ilardin and I were seated behind a badly carved desk 
in tlie old schoolhouse at Naples, and I thought how 
strangely " Uncle Sam " had let me down and out, 
first, from a snug cabin to a tent, and from the latter 
to open camp, with no protecting shelter. 

The next morning we were up bright and early, 
and slipped out of camp just at dawn. The day was 
most charming, just cool enough for comfortable 
marching, though the roads were very dusty on ac- 
count of the heavy travel. We had not proceeded 
more than two miles when we marched through the 
camp the Johnnies had occupied the night previous. 

We marched fifteen miles that day. Before noon, 
however, my heavy boots, which were a little loose, 
were giving me intense pain. They had blistered my 
feet some the day before, but I had made no mention 
of it. I knew of several others with badly blistered 
feet who were in the ambulances, but my boyish 
pride would not submit to that, and when I reached 
camp that night I was suffering great agony, and 
knew I must have relief from some source, or not be 
able to march the next day, which would require a 
ride in an ambulance, or expose me to capture, to either 
of which I was strictly opposed. 

When we got into camp, therefore, and settled, 
I unburdened my trouble to ISTic with many misgiv- 
ings. He looked at me with a kind of " I told you 
so " expression, which was rather humiliating to me, 
and said, " We will attend to them after supper." 



ON TUE MARCH THROUGH JACKS OK 77 

AYlien supper was over, with a piece of resin soap 
in hand, I accompanied him to a hrook, where he 
helped me pull my boots off — no easy task, for after 
reaching camp my feet had swollen badly. A 
thorough bathing, however, gave me great relief, but 
I found it necessary, wearing my cumbersome boots, 
to keep up this practice every few niglits, which be- 
came rather monotonous during our three hundred 
miles' march. 

During this day's march w^agon loads of new dress- 
coats, overcoats, and blankets were thrown away by 
recruits, who had thought they knew better what was 
needed on a march of tliis kind than did the com- 
manding officers or the old soldiers, and, in many in- 
stances, I saw the latter and the colored cooks ex- 
changing their old worn blankets for good new ones, 
and the colored brethren their badly worn coats for 
bright new ones. Jack, on this occasion, provided 
himself with both a new coat and blanket. 

During the day we passed by a plantation which 
belonged to Jefferson Davis, the President of the 
Southern Confederacy. The fences were all gone, 
and I heard some one remark that " Old Jeff '' would 
have to get " Uncle Abo " to come down and split 
him some rails before he could put in his spring crop. 
"Uncle Abe" was the soldier's name for President 
Lincoln, the old-time " rail splitter." 

On the sixth we drove the Confederates through 
and beyond Jackson, crossed Pearl Piver on the 
pontoons, and camped some two miles to the east of 
the city for the night. 

As we passed through some of the principf^-^bajsi- 




78 ON WHEELS. 

ness streets of the city I saw some of the " boys in 
bhie " coming out of stores with boxes of tobacco and 
cigars, neither of which had any attractions for me. 
But I tliought I should like to patronize a Southern 
shoe store, and broke ranks to do my shopping, but 
failed to find any. 

We had now readied the third day of our march, 
and, just as Nic had predicted, men were seen beg- 
ging rations. Our mess had plenty of rations for 
supper, but as the provision wagons were late getting 
in it was midnight before many others had anything 
to eat. 

Having now reached a point farther east from 
Yicksburg than any of the Union forces had ever 
penetrated to before the scenes were in marked con- 
trast to those of the region we had passed through. 
Thus far the territory traversed seemed to be almost 
deserted, both towns and country presenting many 
blackened ruins, houseless chimneys, and fenceless 
fields. IS^ow we were entering a rich cotton-growing 
district which had been hitherto unmolested by the 
Yankees. 

The planters had fine residences and large planta- 
tions well stocked with Kegroes, horses, mules, cattle, 
liogs, sheep, etc. We found full corn cribs, sweet 
potato banks, and large amounts of cotton which had 
not been shipped or disposed of on account of the 
blockades. But on our approach the whites appeared 
to become panic-stricken, and many deserted their 
homes, leaving them in possession of their former 
slaves. 

Unlike these whites, the freedmen were in great 



ON THE MARCH THROUGH JACKSON. 79 

ecstacies of joy at this turning point in their liis- 
tory, and, hailing "' Massa Sherman " and his sold- 
iers as their deliverers, they bade adieu to the old 
plantations, and, male and female, old and young, 
flocked to us by the tliousands. They came from the 
Iiill-tops and from the plains in their flight for 
freedom. They could be seen hurrying toward us 
across the broad fields and along the highways some 
on foot, carrying huge bundles on their heads or 
shoulders ; others riding, and hauling their pos- 
sessions in various kinds of vehicles, from an old 
single ox cart to a fine family barouche. Indeed, I 
saw several joining the caravan wn'tli loaded wheel- 
barrows, and it was no uncommon thing to see an old 
'* aunty " w^ith a half-dozen little bareheaded, half- 
naked children driving along the road in the rear of 
tiie column in a fine carriage, she dressed up in some 
"ob de white folks' finery," wanting to make a 
"'specutable 'pearance" when she should meet 
''Massa Sherman," while just behind her would be 
the old uncle, walking, and leading an old plantation 
mule with its head stuck out of a huo:e mountain of 
clothing, bedding, provisions, etc. 

To one venerable-looking old black man, dressed in 
an indescribable suit of cotton patchwork, whose white 
wool was seen peeping out of the crown of an old 
straw hat, and whose toes were protruding from a 
pair of well-worn shoes, laced up with cotton strings, 
I said : 

"How do you do, uncle?" 

" O, bress de Lawd, I'se berry well, tank you !" 

" Where are you going ?" I asked. 
6 



80 ON WHEELS. 

" O, bress Massa LiiikTirn, child, I'se gwine wliar 
Massa Sliennan an jous are all gwine." 

These crude plantation specimens in nature's dusky 
uniforms, so oddly dressed, now ecstatic with inex- 
pressible joy at their deliverance from a life of bond- 
age, and eagerly endeavoring by grotesque speech, 
song, grimace, and gesture to set forth their great 
gratitude to the " Lawd '' and "Massa Linkum" for 
their gracious deliverance, presented a spectacle at 
times so touching and pathetic as to stir the tender 
emotions of the brawniest soldier in blue, and at 
others so truly comical as to cause our aching sides to 
test our broad belts while convulsed with laughter. 

On our route as far as Jackson the battle-scarred 
and devastated country would not have kept one good 
healthy pilferer in chickens, and the old soldiers, 
who had niarched and fought over this ground, 
seemed to know it, and made no effort to improve our 
plain bill of fare by foraging. But the night we 
crossed Pearl River Dan and several of my mess de- 
clared their intention to have something to eat besides 
bacon and '"tack," if it was to be found within five 
miles of the camp. Accordingly, after supper, as 
color-bearers carry no guns, Dan borrowed one of 
ours, and, with two others, fully equipped with car- 
tridge boxes, haversacks, and canteens, started, say- 
ing, " We do not expect to return before mid- 
night." 

When reveille broke the stillness of the following 
frosty morning the blue dome above us was still 
spangled with thousands of twinkling luminaries, and 
as we gathered around our camp fire, wrapped inonr 



ON THE MARCH THROUGH JACKSON. 



81 



blankets, to dispatch our early breakfast, old Sol liad 
not yet dispelled the morning twilight. 

The foraging expedition of Dan and his comrades 
was a decided success, and, as the result, Jack gave us 
a breakfast of delicious boiled turkey and sweet 
potatoes and honey, in addition to our usual fare. 

This being the tirst fowl or fresh meat of any kind 
I had tasted since reaching my regiment, I can assure 
my readers it was decidedly toothsome, although it 
was simply boiled in clear water, seasoned with salt 
and pepper, destitute of any brown basting, and 
having no delicious oyster dressing. 






E^- 



CHAPTER IX. 
The Skirmis 



a; 



w 



E had barely Unislied storing awa^^ the remains 
of our turkey in our haversacks wlien we 
were ordered to '' fall in, and take arms.-' 

We passed along over tJie dusty road at a good pace 
without any noteworthy event until we reached Bran- 
don, then a good-sized village, which we entered just 
as the sun was gathering its fading rays behind the 
tree-tops in our rear. Here we found the depot of 
the JacksDu and Selma Hailroad, several large ware- 
houses, and wharves stored with cotton bales, ail in 
flames. 

As we entered one street the intense heat caused 
b}^ the fiery wrath of the old white King, now being 
offered as a burnt sacrifice on the altar of the " Lost 
Cause," was unbearable, so that we were compelled to 
halt, about face, retreat, and take another street be- 
fore we could pass his fiery majesty. 

After going into camp in a piece of timber which 
skirted the town two of our mess, Jim flowers 
" bunkie," and Kic, my " bunkie," were detailed for 
picket duty. This naturally threw Jim and I to- 
gether for the night. We at once took our blankets, 
and went in search of material for our beds. Comino^ 



THE SKIRMISH. 83 

across quite a large liole, filled with leaves, at tlie 
foot of an uprooted tree, we proceeded to fill our 
blankets. During the operation the toe of Jim's 
brogan struck something on the bottom of the hole, 
which produced a metallic sound. Instantly we both 
dropped to onr knees and began clawing vigorously 
among the leaves, and soon reached a tin box about 
six inches wide and deep, and some ten inches in 
length. As it was too dark to read, we struck a 
match and set fire to some leaves. By the aid of this 
light we opened the unlocked box, which had a 
hinged lid with clasp fastening, and found it full of 
deeds. Confederate bonds, and five thousand dollars 
in Confederate money. We kept the money, and aft- 
erward Jim realized five cents on the dollar for some 
of his at a bank in Yicksburg. I was not so fortunate 
with mine. We also kept several l)onds as relics, one 
of which, on the State of Arkansas, I have yet, which 
I would be pleased to cash at its face value, twenty 
dollai's. 

When through examining the contents we took a 
deed, and with pencil w^'ote these words on its back 
in bold hand: "Small favors thankfully received, 
large ones in proportion," and signed it, "Yankee 
Soldiers." We then carefully returned all to the box 
except what I have mentioned, placed the deed on top 
of the other articles with the inscription up ; then, in 
the gathering darkness, by the light of the leafy fire, 
we safely returned the little casket to its shallow grave 
at the foot of the old forest giant, covered it with a 
thick blanket of withered leaves, trampled out the 
fire, and started for camp. 



84 ON WHEELS. 

As we stole away through the darkness of the night, 
with onr blankets filled with soft bedding material, 
and with our bogus booty, Jim remarked that the man 
who hid that box must have been foolish or frightened, 
as he had left it exposed to three destructive agencies, 
namely, Yankees, fire, and water. He also stated 
that wdiile he would not care to be near enough to 
hear what the " Johnnie " would say when he should 
resurrect and open the box, believing it would not be 
complimentary either to us or our Yankee govern- 
ment, yet he would very nmch like to have a good 
photograph, picturing his position and physiognomy 
when he should first detect the loss of his Confedei'ate 
scrip and read our Yankee inscription. Poor Jim 
was a brave soldier and one of the handsomest 3'oung 
men I ever saw. After his time in our regiment ex- 
pired he returned home, reenlisted in another regi- 
ment, and was killed before Mobile. 

After our evening meal was over I visited the town 
to take in the sights by the illumination of the still 
burning cotton. Among other scenes that interested 
me was a crowd of soldiers busily engaged with long 
sharp pointed poles punching up a large bed of coals. I 
noticed, as I approached nearer, that sometimes when 
they drew their poles out of the long mound of coals 
there were some dark objects sticking on the ends of 
them about the size of my two fists or even larger. 
Those engaged in this enterprise seemed much inter- 
ested in it. On reaching the place I found they were 
gathered around the smoldering ruins of a warehouse 
in which several hundred bushels of sweet potatoes 
had been stored, which were now well baked, but the 



THE SKIRMISH. 85 

fire was jet burning so fiercely there was no possible 
way of obtaining the potatoes witliout tlie aid of these 
long potato forks, and the men in higli glee were spear- 
ing for Mississippi yams, of which I soon obtained a 
haversack full myself. 

An old Jersey soldier, who loaned me his yam spear 
after getting all he could carry, said he had dug a 
great many clams in his day and had been at many 
New England clambakes, but this Mississippi yam- 
bake, while it was very hot digging, beat the biggest 
clambake he was ever at, and he should have to 
write to his friends about it. 

The next morning it fell to the lot of our brigade 
to march at the head of onr column, and as usual, when 
we had proceeded but a mile or so, we passed through 
the camp the Johnnies had occupied the night before. 

About 3 p. M., just as the head of the long blue 
column was surmounting the crest of a low range of 
wooded hills in our front, sharp firing was heard in that 
direction, and soon a force of our cavalry appeared on 
the brow of the hill and came dashing down the road 
toward us to report the trouble. 

Immediately we were halted, and ordered to one 
side of the road to make room fur a battery to pass 
to the front. Instantly four brass howitzers, each 
drawn by six strong horses, come flying by on the 
dead run, nuiking the very ground to tremble beneath 
their thundering tread. They swiftly ascended the 
wooded crest, deployed to the right, and, rapidly swing- 
ino: around until the cannon faced the enemv, were at 
once unlimbered, and more quickly than it can be 
related were belching forth smoke, flame, and shell. 



80 OX WHEELS. 

I had never seen anything of this kind before, and, 
judging bv tlie way tlic Jolmnies had been retreating 
before ns, I began to fear I never would. Being so 
close to Avhere the battery was going into action, I 
got permission (at least I think I got it), and ran to 
the top of the hill, a little to the left of the battery, 
arriving there just in time to see them open fire on 
some dismounted Confederate cavalry who had taken 
position in the center of an open piece of ground be- 
hind two rail fences, and in a large cotton gin and 
other small buildings. 

'The guns were fired by volley. The first four shells, 
flying and screaming through the air over their 
heads and over the roof of the gin, passed beyond 
and burst harmlessly. Two shells of the second 
round struck the ground and exploded a few rods 
in front of the fence. One hit the fence, burst, 
and sent the old rails flying in the air and a group 
of Confederates scampering to the rear. The fourth 
went crashing through the barricaded side of the 
gin house, and in an instant came a terrible roar and 
crash, the shingles and sheathing flew off of the roof, 
smoke poured out, and the panic-stricken Johnnies 
rushed out of the building like bees from a disturbed 
beehive. Hastily they vaulted into their saddles 
and rode out of the range of the shells, which were 
novv^ bursting at their heels, as rapidly as their four- 
footed friends could carry them. They were only 
some five or six hundred yards distant when the bat- 
tery opened fire, and a number of them must have 
been killed or wounded, especially from the shell 
which exploded in the crowded gin-house, but I never 



THE SKIRMISH. 87 

learned the exact casualties. When our battery bojs 
had dislodged the Confederates from the position from 
wliich they expected to open fire npon our infantry 
we moved on past the position as if nothing had oc- 
curred. 

That evening, our brigade being in the lead, webiv- 
onacked early, about an hour before sundown, in a 
wooded ravine opposite a large deserted plantation, 
the residence of which was in flames. As soon as we 
had stacked arms and could misling our knapsacks 
we made a move toward the premises for rails and to 
secure something for our mess kettles if possible. 
When I reached there, out of breath, I found I was 
too late for anything but rails, but glancing through 
the smoke I caught a glimpse of a large family Bible 
lying on a center table near the middle of the room. 
I had no desire to take the book for myself; but not 
wishing to see it and the family record it contained 
destroyed, my boyish impulse w^as to save it for its 
owner's sake. Acting upon this impulse, I instantly 
sprang into tlie room, secured it, and just escaped as 
the roof and timbers fell in. 

The Bible weighed ten or twelve pounds, and when 
I had caught my breath, collected my thoughts, and 
began to look around for some safe, dry place to leave 
it, I found the out-buildings had caught fire from the 
main one, so there seemed to be no liiding place for 
it. I then began to realize that I had a Inrger contract 
on hand than I had bargained for, and if it had been 
any other book I should have left it on the ground. 
But now that I had it in my possession I felt in a 
measure responsible for it, and finally decided to carry 



88 



ON WHEELS. 



it to camp and leave it at some house the next daj', 
where the owner would probably find it. 

Heaching camp wntli it under one arm, with a rail 
on my opposite shoulder, I was eluded by my com- 
rades for "stealing a Bible," and all were urgent to 
learn the text I had selected to preach from that night. 
My explanation of motives for securing it only seemed 
to make matters worse. But notwithstanding these 
gibes I stuck to the Bible, and the next day I left it at 
a house about three miles from the place where I ob- 
tained it. 




CHAPTER X. 
Thp: Battle. 

BOUT 3 p. M., the 9tli of February, jnst as we 
entered some wooded hills, the serenity of the 

sunny afternoon was suddenly broken by the 
loud roll and rattle of musketry, and the deep, heavy 
thunder of artillery in our immediate front. Our 
advance, which was but a few yards ahead of ns, had 
encountered a line of Confederate infantry and artil- 
lery, which was posted on the crest of a range of hills 
that ran across our front. 

Instantly I observed the old soldiers scan each other's 
faces as if attempting to divine the meaning of this 
sudden demonstration. Nic, turning to me with a 
determined expression of countenance I had never 
seen him wear before, said, " AYill, there is a battle 
on hand and we are in for it. Stick by me." I made 
no reply, but had already decided I would try to do 
tliat very thing. [N'everhad I seen so serious an expres- 
sion on the faces of men as those old soldiers wore 
when that battle storm burst upon us. Its suddenness 
and fury were as the coming of a mighty cyclone unan- 
nounced except by a terrific roar and peal after peal 
of thunder from a clear sky. It was enough to 
terrify the bravest hearted, and the intense nervous 



90 Oy WHEELS. 

sti-ain of tlie instant was enongli to age one by years. 
However, as I glanced up into those brave, rigid 
faces I could read in their firm expression, as clearly 
as if cut by sculptor's chisel, a determination to " do 
or die," and this, naturally, strung my young nerves 
up as they would not have been had they betrayed tlie 
sliglitest trace of fear. 

But the intensity of the moment's strain was at 
once relieved by our being ordered double quick to the 
fi-ont. As we went in we met a yellow-striped cavalry 
regiment coming out pell mell through the timber, the 
steel-clad hoofs of their flying chargers cracking the 
brush beneath them as they leaped over logs, gullies, 
and brush heaps. 

These scampering cavalry appeared to nettle some 
of our old infantry men, and as they passed by I heard 
one remark that he had never seen a dead cavalry man 
yet, and another said, "My kingdom for a ' boss.' " 

We had proceeded but a short distance when we 
began to meet stragglers and Negro cooks — chaff which 
the fierce tempest was driving to the rear. Then we 
came upon the dead and wounded. The first wounded 
man I saw was a Confederate sitting against a tree near 
the roadside, who was shot through the body. As 
we passed a rough recruit in our company rudely 
asked this man " how far it was a mile ahead." To 
which the wounded Confederate replied, " Three 
lengths of an infernal fool; if you don't believe it lie 
down and measure it yourself." Upon this we gave 
the poor wretch a hearty cheer which must have done 
him good, while at the same time it was a deserved 
rebuke to the unfeeling recruit. 



THE BATTLE. 91 

As we emerged from the timber Into an open 
field on the hilltop we were met bj a tornado of hot 
iron and leaden liail. The " ping," " whiz," " zip," 
and deadly thnd of the minie balls were heard on 
every side. Solid shot and deadly shell went flying 
through the air, hatefully hissing and screeching as 
they burst over our heads or tore up the earth beneath 
our feet. As this terrific storm broke npon us, and we 
hurried through the smoke and dust to our position, I 
noticed in passing many dead and wounded. Indeed, 
it seemed strange that any could possibly escape un- 
hurt. One poor fellow in blue uniform lay in a pool 
of blood at the foot of a large gate-post with his head 
as completely severed as if it had been taken off with 
a cleaver. 

At this juncture a six-gun battery of brass howitzers 
dashed past, drawn by thirty-six powerful gray horses 
with distended nostrils, flashing eyes, and flowing 
manes, causing the hilltop to tremble under their 
heavy tread ; and as their red-striped, blue-jacketed 
riders urged them to the top of their speed with whip 
and spur, every tug was pulled taut, and every nerve 
and muscle strained to its utmost. Their object was 
to gain a coveted position in our front, commanding 
a view of an opposite hilltop crowned by Confederate 
artillery which was now dealing death and destruction 
to our lines. 

Arriving and deploying, each six-horse team wheeled 
its chariot of fire into position with the motion and 
velocity of a whirlwind ; fearless riders sprang from 
the backs of their foam-flecked, fiery steeds ; guns 
were unlimbered, caissons thrown open, brave battery 



92 O.V WHEELS. 

boys rushed with bomb and ball to cannon's mouth, 
and with rapid rammer strokes crowded the iron 
feed down their brazen throats ; pieces were quickly 
trained, lanyards drawn, and instantly their rigid lips 
of brass re-ponded with the deadly Lmguage of the 
lightning flash and thunderbolt in mad defiance to 
the fierce tongues of fire, smoke, shell, and solid 
shot of the enemy's guns; and as our regiment right- 
wheeled into position on the hillside below them for 
their support the deafening roar and terrible shock 
seemed to rock the whole mound beneath us. Here 
the missiles of death, like a fierce meteoric shower, 
screaming and bursting over our heads in rapid and 
crashing sounds, from the cross-fire of Union and Con- 
federate guns, appeared to rend the heavens and earth 
asunder. 

We received orders to halt instantl}^, followed by the 
command, " Load at will ; load ! " and as our men bit 
off the ends of paper cartridges and rammed them 
home, and adjusted percussion caps, the metallic ring 
and click of iron ramrods and heavy musket locks 
were barely heard above the din of battle. 

While in this act two recruits near me were 
hit. Deb Deposter, just at my left, was struck in the 
hand by a minie-ball while capping his gun, but was 
too plucky to go to the rear. A cannon-ball caught 
the protruding corner of Pat Wood's knapsack, 
whirled him around about-face, double quick, leav- 
ing him with his back to the enemy. Somewhat 
puzzled at Pat's singular movement, I asked him 
what it meant ; and, as he faced about to the front, 
with surprised look and blanched countenance, he 



THE BATTLE. 98 

said, " That ugly thing sthriick me roit in the 
back.'' 

Our gallant old Colonel Hall at that time was in 
command of our brigade, and as we were loading lie 
rode along well in our rear on a large roan horse, 
speaking words of cheer to our men. He ordered 
Major McNoltj, who was in command, to have four 
men from each company, who were the least able to 
go into the engagement, detailed as stretcher bearers. 
When Lieutenant Kirkman of our company called 
for men it seemed to me, on account of my age and 
size, that every eye in the companj^Avas turned toward 
me, while I had several boys in n:iind that I thought 
would be sure to avail themselves of this opportunity 
to escape the dangerous part of the fray. But, to my 
surprise, and to the credit and honor of these brave 
boys, not one of them deserted the ranks. The four 
men who did volunteer for this special work were 
about as large as any in the company, and ranged in 
age from twenty-four to forty years. The one aged 
twenty-four was a big-fisted, pugnacious recruit, who 
was constantly making trouble with some one smaller 
than himself, and who had made repeated boasts that 
he was eager to smell gunpowder. "When, therefore, 
I saw this bully of a fellow slip out of the ranks and 
skip off with long strides to the rear for a stretcher I 
concluded he had had his smell of gunpowder and 
was satisfied. 

As soon as our guns were loaded we were ordered 
to lie down. Instantly every man in the long line of 
blue with glistening gunbarrels and fiashing swords 
dropped to the ground as if the whole forest, xif^jnus- 



94 ON WHEELS. 

kets and ineTi liad been mowed down by a single vol. 
ley from the Confederate guns. 

This being my first experience in battle, I was 
somewhat surprised to find that the handsomely 
dressed commissioned officers in this line of flattened 
infantry appeared no more conspicuous than others, 
nor did they seem any more afraid of soiling their 
fine uniforms than did the plainest private in his old 
blouse. What was still more strange to the uninitiated, 
it was very perceptible also that these officers did not 
manifest ar.y aversion to having a stump or a log to 
obstruct their view of the front. No objects of all 
our long line of blue were left standing, except the 
flags with their stafl^s driven in the ground, and a few 
mounted officers in our rear. 

With heels uphill and head down, our position, 
while thus held in support of our battery, was any- 
thing but comfortable or composing, exposed, as we 
were, both to artillery and infantry fire which we 
could not return for the reason that our own men were 
in the midst of a fierce eno^a2:ement but about seventv- 
five 3'ards in advance of us. I am quite sure, how- 
ever, that I never seemed to be so large in all my 
life before, for, as closely as I could hug the hill and 
contract my frame, my extremities seemed entirely 
too long and my back to hump up entirely too high. 
But, though unfavorably situated, in accordance with 
my practice of making a daily record of my expe- 
riences, I decided that I would be no more exposed 
with my eyes open, taking observations of the tragic 
scenes in the midst of which I found myself for 
record, than if I were to keep them closed. 



THE BATTLE. 95 

Some one liundred and fifty yards to the rear, and 
a little to the left of our battery, on another eminence, 
seated on his horse and surrounded by a group of 
mounted officers, I saw General McPherson, witli 
lield-glass to his eyes, scanning the field in front. 
Just then a mounted orderly, as if on the wings of 
the wind, came dashing up to the group from the left. 
Immediately two others started, the one for the left 
and the other for the center where the battery was 
posted, and as they galloped away with orders their 
fleet-footed chargers appeared to spurn the very 
ground beneath them. 

Posted in our rear at regular intervals, and parallel 
to the line of battle, between it and the group of ofii- 
cers, was the mounted signal corps with their differ- 
ent colored flags fluttering in the breeze. 

The mound above us where our battery was posted 
was enveloped in smoke and flame ; and as the guns 
belched forth their showers of heated metal they re- 
minded me somewhat of a picture in my old school 
geography of a volcano in eruption. 

Midway between the top and base of the eastern 
hillside our line, like a broad band of blue ribbon, 
lay stretched on the brown grass to the right and left 
as far as the eye could penetrate through the smoke. 
Below and between us and the opposite chain of hills 
ran a small creek, skirted on each side by heav^y tim- 
ber. In these dark woods a stubborn fight was in 
progress. The Confederates were on the side of the 
creek next to us, and it was a question whether they 
would force our lines back to our position, or our 
forces drive them across the stream. As shadowy 



93 0}r WHEELS. 

forms quickly glided from tree to tree puffs of smoke 
were seen, and the sharp reports of rifles were lieard, 
and the whole fronts of the long lines of the bine and 
the gray in the dark valley seemed ablaze with streams 
of fire from hot mnsket mnzzles, and the roll and 
rattle of volley firing swept up and down the battling 
lines as if in loud tenor accompaniment to the heavy 
thundering bass of the artillery on the hilltops above 
us. Over and beyond the plume-crowned pines 
w^hich stood in the valley, throngh the rifts in the sul- 
phnrous clouds, the eye caught frequent glimpses on 
the opposite hillside of the long lines of Confederate 
gray gripping tightly their polished steel, while massed 
in support of tlie smoke-curtained, cannon-crowned 
crest above, which in its wild grandeur of action ap- 
peared as a twin crater to ours. 

While lying here listening to the din of battle 
which filled the air, and w\atching the grand spectacle 
before me, I took in several byplays of the battle. 

Our major, at the time of this battle, had two very 
fine horses, one a beautiful dark chestnut sorrel mare, 
and the other a large handsome dapple gray horse. 
The two were almost inseparable. His hostler was a 
large rawboned old German named Peter. The after- 
noon of this engagement the major rode the gray, 
leaving the chestnut behind the hill in charge of the 
hostler. This sepai-ation did not seem to please either 
of the horses, as was clearly shown by their frantic 
actions, and, when the balls were flying thickest and 
shells were bursting loudest, the brave four-footed lady, 
eager to be beside her handsome mate, took the bit in 
her teeth, and, despite old Pete's efforts to restrain 



THE BATTLE. 97 

lier, brouglit him on a flying charge over tlie liill to 
our position. 

It should be noted that the day we started on tliis 
raid to Meridian Peter's three years' service lacked 
but three days of being out, and he seriously objected 
to starting. But the officers refused to excuse him, 
which made him very angry. That the mettlesome 
mare had unceremoniously taken him into the midst 
of danger after his term of service had expired now 
seemed to make him still more wrathy. 

Then, as if this were not enough, and to exaspe- 
rate Peter all the more, just as he appeared in sight 
a shell exploded in the air immediately in front of 
the flying chestnut, which caused her to rear and 
walk off on her hind feet, pawing the air as if striking 
at tlie impudent shell, with Peter clinging to her 
neck. This little comic act, introducing itself on the 
stage where the serious tragedy of actual war was be- 
ing enacted, caused the spectators for a moment to 
lose sight of the dangers by which they were sur- 
rounded, and a loud ripple of mirth swept up and 
down the prostrate lines of blue, which finally gave 
vent to a roar of merriment as the men shouted, 
" Hold on, Pete, you only have three days more ! " 
These tantalizing words caused the old German's 
beer-mug of wrath to fairly froth over, and, be it said 
to Peter's discredit, that on that trying occasion he 
used some very discourteous, emphatic language in 
broken English about the officers, the men, the mare, 
and the ugly shell. 

About this time the major noticed the unnecessary 
danger the pair were placed in, and ordered Pete to 



98 ON WHEELS. 

dismount and lead his pet out of range of tlie ene- 
my's guns. The last I saw of this excited pair before 
the curtain dropped on this act Peter was down on 
all fours, spread out in front of the mare like a big 
frog, vainly endeavoring to drag her up over the hill, 
while the stubborn beauty had her feet firmly planted, 
refusing to follow the old man's lead. 

In striking contrast to this comic scene, but an in- 
stant later, and quicker than a flash, I saw three men 
of the Twelfth Wisconsin Eegiment, just a few yards 
in front of me, violently hurled to the ground and 
into eternity by a deadly solid shot. At the time 
their re(]^iment was in line and enj^^ae^ed, and as the 
ill-fated trio stood in a row, one behind the other, 
and on a gradual elevation, the cruel ball tore off the 
first mail's head, the right shoulder of the one behind 
him, while the third victim was stricken in the breast, 
the ball tearing an ugly hole through his body. Then 
the death-dealing demon, as if to wipe its bloody sides 
on the dress of mother earth, struck in the dead grass 
a few feet in front of where I lay, and went bound- 
ing over our regiment as if in quest of more human 
gore. 

While lying here below and between the opposing 
batteries I plainly saw several solid shot from the 
Confederate guns before they reached us ; also many 
shells coming and going in mid air. 

Soon after the three Wisconsin men mentioned 
were killed our right began to swing around the ene- 
my's left flank. The gray lines in the timber wavered, 
and we received the welcome order, '^ Up, and for- 
ward ! " . Immediately the long lines of support 



TEE BATTLE. 



99 



sprang to their feet and went rushing, cheering, down 
tlie hill. We swept the Confederates througli tlie 
timber, across the shallow creek, and, like a blue tidal 
wave, our line surged up and over the crest beyond, 
and just as the sun sank amid his amber glory the 
long lines of Confederate gray, infei-ior in numbers 
and beaten, hastily retreated and left the held to the 
victorious Union blue. 




685293 A 



CHAPTER XI. 



After the Battle. 

tHAT night we went into camp in a body of tim- 
^ ber which skirted an old cotton field, about half 
a mile distant from where the battle took place. 
As Colonel Rogers, of the Fifteenth Illinois, our 
"twin regiment," known as such because it brigaded 
with us, was inspecting the picket line in our front, a 
Confederate sharpshooter posted in a clump of woods 
on the opposite side of the field, at least a quarter of 
a mile away, no doubt thinking the mounted officer 
a good target on which to try his skill, displayed his 
line marksmanship by landing a bullet plump against 
the large brass buckle on the colonel's sword-belt. 
The shining eagle on the buckle impeded the flying 
missile, but the heavy thump it gave the colonel over 
the pit of his stomach caused liim to reel and fall from 
his horse as if dead, and compelled him to forfeit a 
part of his dinner ; otherwise he was uninjured. 

As far as Morton, near where this engagement oc- 
curred, our command had marched on two separate 
roads running parallel with each other east and west, 
and from seven to ten miles apart. Hurlburt's, the 
Sixteenth Corps, occupied the left, while our corps, 
McPherson's, the Seventeenth, occupied the right. 



AFTER THE BATTLE. 101 

but at Morton the two formed a jiiDction. On tlie 
12tli Hurlburt's Corps had tlie right of way, and at 
niiJ:ht biv^ouacked on a small stream three or four miles 
east of Decatur, while McPherson's, bringing up the 
rear, camped for the night on the outskirts of the town. 

As usual, during the day there had been lively 
bkirmishing at the front and on our flanks, with an 
occasional dash on our rear guard. Entering Decatur 
as the shadows of the tall pines were lengthening to 
their eastern limits, we came upon evidences of a 
cavalry dash upon Hurlburt's wagon train, the dusty 
road being strewn with dead and wounded mules, 
abandoned white-covered wagons riddled with bullets, 
besides a number of wounded soldiers and teamsters. 

On entering the town we found General Sherman 
and staff, and learned that our commander had just 
run a very narrow escape from being captured by 
some Confederate cavalry. Had these Johnnies but 
known of the prize so nearly within their grasp it is 
presumable, judging from the situation, they would, 
to the certain mortification of the general, consterna- 
tion of the command, and the great pleasure of the 
captors, have galloped off with "Uncle Billy," a. feat 
which forever after would have rendered them 
famous. 

It seems,- as was his custom, that General Sherman 
that day i-ode along with the advance corps, and as 
the Sixteenth Corps passed through the town he de- 
cided to halt there, with his staff, for the night with 
the Seventeeth Corps, the head of whose column was 
some four miles behind the rear of the Sixteenth. 
To make this undertaking: safe he detached an in- 



102 OX WHEELS. 

faiitry regiment from Hurlburt's command to guard 
tlie crossroads of the town until the liead of our 
column should come in sight. He and staff then went 
to a large log liouse and made arrangements with the 
hostess for supper, had their liorses unsaddled and 
tied to the fence, and went inside to aw^ait the prepa- 
ration of the meal. Feeling fatigued, the general lay 
down on a bed and fjll asleep. Presently the colonel 
of the regiment detailed as guard, espying a cloud of 
dust down the road in the direction of our corps, and 
being very eager to get into camp, took it for granted 
that it was occasioned by the head of our column, 
called in his pickets, and started with his regiment in 
the direction his corps had taken. This left General 
Sherman and staff wholly unprotected. 

But the dust cloud the colonel had seen was 
occasioned by some straggling wagons of the Sixteenth 
Corps, and a light infantry support. When these 
arrived within pistol shot of the house where the 
general was, a body of Confederate cavalry that 
during the day had been hovering on the right flank 
of the Sixteenth Corps, discovering the exposed posi- 
tion of the wagons, struck them in the flank with the 
result mentioned on tlie previous page. 

In the encounter some of the balls struck the bouse 
in which the general and his staff were located. On 
being awakened by this disturbance General Sherman 
started an officer on the run for the infantry regi- 
ment that had left him, and he and the rest of his 
staff and orderlies pi-epared to take refuge in an old 
corn crib near the house, and defend themselves as 
best they could. Fortunately, however, the officer 



AFTER THE BATTLE. 103 

soon overtook the regiment, returned on tlie run 
witli it, and, deploying as they came, soon cleared the 
premises of the troublesome Johnnies, whicli, no 
doubt, saved the general and our nation from a great 
calamity. 

That night, after getting into camp, Frank Durant, 
a seventeen-year-old recruit from Naples, while out 
foraging, trying to shoot a hog, managed in some 
awkward manner to w^ound himself with his revolver. 
Tlie ball went through liis left thigh about ten inches 
above the knee, just grazed the bone, and lodged next 
the skin on the opposite side from where it entered, 
whence the surgeon cut it out. It made an ugly 
wound, and, from its inflamed and swollen condition, 
must have been quite painful. But Frank was a 
gritty boy, and, notwithstanding that we had to march 
one hundred and seventy -five miles before reaching 
Vicksburg on our return from the long raid, yet he 
refused to ride in an ambulance a single step of the 
way, or to be excused from any duty. 

At Decatur we destroyed a large amount of cotton 
and other stores, and on the morning of the 13th we 
were on our way bright and early, headed for 
Meridian. Our route lay through a i-ather low 
wooded country, interspersed with swamps and cotton 
plantations. Toward 10 a. m. the hitherto sunlit skies 
suddenly became overcast with dark, low-hanging 
clouds, and before noon the cold winter rain was 
coming down in torrents. Our leather cartridge 
boxes and oilcloth haversacks kept our ammunition 
and provisions dry, but as we trudged along the 
muddy roads with our heads poked through our 



104 ON WHEELS. 

rubber blankets, carrying our muskets under them, the 
heavy gusts of wind would catch our oilcloth cover- 
ings, fore and aft, and whirl them up over our heads 
so much that we became thoroughly drenched, and 
our woolen blankets saturated. My high-topped boots 
only seemed to serve as cisterns in catching the copi- 
ous flow of cold rain-water from my oilcloth roof, and 
on becoming fllled seemed as if they w^ould glue me 
fast in the Mississippi mire. 

As night approached we had a decided mix of 
men, horses, mules, and mud. The heavy ordnance 
train, provision wagons, artillery, and other heavy 
travel had cut the soil and mixed it up w^ith the 
water on some portions of the road at least two feet 
deep. This " loblolly," if not the color, was about the 
consistency of flour paste or sticky starch, and the 
road presented the appearance of a long mud canal 
doing a heavy business, but having its tow-paths 
flooded, and every few rods a team with its craft 
sunk and stuck fast out in the middle of the channel. 
AVading around each of these government schooners 
thus stuck in the mud, in the pelting rain and knee 
deep in mud, were dozens of soldiers wdth long rails 
and poles trying to pry the wagons up and assist the 
faithful government mules with their heavy loads out 
of the almost fathomless mire. 

This soil in places was quite peculiar, being a crust 
of solid ground about a foot deep resting on a 
seemingly bottomless abyss of soft black quicksand, 
the depths of which we were unable to fathom witli 
our longest rails. A man walking over it would 
shake it for some distance around him, much like the 



AFTER THE BATTLE. 105 

shaking of rotten ice as persons skate over it, and 
after it became water-soaked horses and mules would 
cut through at every step and sink to their bodies, and 
wagons would sink to their hubs. 

When we reached this portion of the road our 
engineers were not long in finding out that we would 
have to corduroy, and that in a hurry, or we would all 
be in danger of being swallowed up as Pharaoh and 
his hosts w^ere in the Red Sea. So the pioneer corps 
was at once set to work with axes felling small timber 
and cutting it into proper lengths, and the infantry 
were put to carrying and placing it in proper position 
on the road. In doing this we would iirst put down 
long stringers lengthwise with the road on each side, 
to answer for mud sills on which to lay the cross- 
pieces, or floor, which were some eight or ten feet in 
length and were placed close together. 

In some instances on passing over this corduroy 
road the heavy teams and wagons would sink the iirst 
floor, and often we w^ould be compelled to lay tw^o or 
three on top of each other before they would bear up 
the heavy travel. This was very laborious work, but 
the boys did it cheerfully. 

Tall old Jim Scott — "Uncle Jimmie," as we all 
called him in honor of his whitening locks — known as 
the cupola of the company, being over six feet in 
height, as he stalked around in this ocean of mud 
looked much like a tall crane among a lot of little 
mud snipes. He and I, from our first acquaintance, 
were always on the best of terms, and cracked many 
a good joke together. That day, as we were waddling 
through the mud toward the wagons, carrying a 



106 ON WHEELS. 

length of heavy green sapling apiece, I thought 1 
would have a little fun with " Uncle Jiminie," and 
so asked him if he did not think it a fine large day. 

"Bedad," he replied, "everything is foine — the 
wither is foine, the country is foine, and it's a foine 
mud pie we're in ; hut, faith, had I thought ' Uncle 
Sam ' would have been afther puttin' me to worruk 
buildin' a turnpoike for Jeff Davis, I'm bio wed if 
I'd a 'listed atall, atalL" 

And " Uncle Jimmie " was not far out of the way, 
either, for while, of course, we were building the road 
for our own benefit for the time, I very nmch doubt 
if the Johnnies ever had so good a road through that 
country before, and it was certainly very much needed. 

That night after getting into camp, wet, cold, and 
hungry, if the command was not covered with mili- 
tary honor it certainly was with Mississippi mud ; and 
as soon as we were in and arms were stacked I was 
detailed for picket duty, and had to start off at once 
in the rain before we had time even to boil a cup of 
coffee or draw any rations. 

Our squad of six men, besides a corporal, tramped 
about a mile before we reached the picket line, and 
then, just as it was growing quite dark, we were 
posted in the edge of a dense shallow swamp, where 
the water was about a foot deep. The reserve 
selected two large cypress logs on which to roost, and 
the vidette was posted about a hundi-ed yards farther 
in the swamp on a very large cypress knee having the 
appearance of an oval-top stump about two feet high, 
with the bark grown over the top. The swamp itself 
was very dark, and by the time the vidette had gotten 



AFTER J HE BATTLE. 107 

fairly perched upon the knee, and the reserve was 
strung out on the logs, the night was of inky black- 
ness. So intense was the darkness that one of the 
boys at my side said to me, in a whisper, that a stack 
of black cats would make a shining light in compari- 
son with it. In changing post, with the corporal for 
a guide, we could only stumble and grope our way, as 
if blind, among the trees and over the tangle of logs 
and cypress knees, and many were the fierce encoun- 
ters we had with the great bunches of sharp-spiked 
palmetto standing as if posted as sturdy sentinels, with 
fixed bayonets, for the protection of their weird jun- 
gle home. 

Xo lights were allowed on the picket line, and 
hence a fire to warm our drenched and chilled 
bodies or to cook by was out of the question entirely. 
I was as hungry as a gaunt wolf, and my povertj^- 
stricken haversack contained nothing digestible but a 
very small slice of raw pickled pork, one hard -tack, a 
few stray grains of coffee, and some cracker crumbs. 
But these, after being washed down with a few 
draughts of swamp water, seemed to improve my 
condition a little. 

When my turn came for vidette duty, and I was 
seated on the cypress knee, like a frog on a toadstool, 
with my feet hanging over in the water, from 10 p. m. 
until midnight, I was in constant dread that some old 
alligator would take me for a midnight lunch, and, 
being some one hundred yards away from the squad, 
I sat witli fixed bayonet ready for his reception, and 
made frequent probings around my watery throne to 
assure myself that he was not there. 



108 ON WHEELS. 

The season was too cold for the frogs to hold con- 
certs, and the swamp was perfectly quiet w^ith the ex- 
ception of the rustling of leaves, the falling of rain, 
and the screeching and hooting of innumerable owls, 
which, from their impertinent and persistent inquiries, 
seemed bent on linding out who-who-who-who-who- 
who their Yankee callers were, even if it should take 
all night to do so. One inquisitive old fellow, with a 
heavy bass voice, perched in a tree not more than a 
hundred feet from where I sat on vidette, as if ap- 
prised of the fact that I could not talk back, put the 
question as to my identity so often and so loudly that 
it became very annoying, and made me fairly frantic 
for the privilege of breaking the monotony and re- 
sponding to the midnight calls of his royal highness 
by making the old swamp ring with the discharge of 
my musket. 

During the first part of the night I had only 
mastered the situation sufficiently to catch a few short 
naps, and put in the time, when not on vidette, try- 
ing various styles of riding the log, straddle, sidewise, 
and, finally, tailor fashion, with my knapsack on my 
lap for a pillow. When relieved from vidette I 
found myself so very tired, uncomfortal)le, and drowsy 
I was determined I would get some sleep, even 
though I should, run the risk of a tumble into the 
water in order to get it. So I finally entered the land 
of dreams by stretching myself out on the log length- 
wise on my stomach, lizard fashion, keeping all my 
accouterments on but my knapsack, which I placed 
under my head for a pillow, and my \voolen and oil- 
cloth blankets, which I managed by skillful maneuvers 



AFTER THE BATTLE. 100 

to get spread over me in a way so that tliey formed w 
good roof for shedding the cold and pelting rain. Be- 
tween my body and my hard, slippery bed I had noth- 
ing, except my knapsack, as mentioned, and my gnn. 
The latter I kept dry by keeping it \mder my oilcloth 
roof and clamped to the log with my right arm and 
knee. The rest of the boys managed in about the 
same way, and had anyone not posted on Yankee 
" mud-sill " ingenious maneuvers chanced to get a 
ghmpse of our dark forms as we lay stretched out on 
those old swamp logs that cold, rainy night, tliey might 
have been led to believe that " Uncle Sam " had en- 
listed and armed a squad of Mississippi alligators to 
do duty in his service while in the low lands of that 
country. 

On being aroused in the early morning by the 
corporal to go into camp I found myself so stiif and 
unpliable from lying around and in tlie shape of the 
log that I could scarcely move a limb. The day and 
night's experience was enough to give the greenest 
old bullfrog in the swamp the ague and the toughest 
old alligator the rheumatism, and was twenty-four 
hours of the hardest service I experienced on the 
Meridian raid. 




HG 




CHAPTER XII. 

At Meridian. 

jlS^ reacliing camp that damp, gloomy morning 
,^^f^^ we found our regiment slinging knapsacks and 
taking arms preparing to move out with the 
marching column on the muddy road leading to Merid- 
ian. Our picket squad did not fall into line with them, 
but after receiving our rations from our comrades, 
who had drawn and taken care of tliem for us, we 
halted long enough to broil a liberal slice of bacon, 
and boil a quart of strong coffee apiece, and it was 
wonderful indeed what a warming, soothing, and 
limbering effect this hot repast, by a roaring hot fire, 
had on our collapsed stomachs, chilled bodies, and 
stiffened limbs. 

The moving column was well under way by the 
time we had finished our frugal meal and were will- 
ing to pull out and leave our friendly camp fire, which 
made us feel so comfortable and was lightening our 
loads by drying out our water-soaked blankets and 
clothing, and it was 9 or 10 A. m. before we caught up 
with our regiment where they were halted in a lane, 
assisting the work of corduroying the road with rails 
from the fences which stood along its sides. 

About this time the heavy mist of the morning 



AT MERIDIAN. HI 

turned into a regular down-pour, giving us another cold 
drenching, and when we had finished our piece of 
work we pushed on through the mud and rain. Soon 
we reached the crossing of the Big Chunky Kiver, 
a short distance west of Meridian. Here, finding 
the bridge destroyed, and there being no pontoons 
down, we went through the water, washed off some 
of the mud, and forded the swift, swollen stream. 
The cold, chocolate-colored water at the shallowest 
ford tickled us little fellows under the armpits, but 
we managed to keep our leather bustles and haver- 
sacks dry by carrying them over on our heads. 

We marched into Meridian about noon, St. Valen- 
tine's Day, 1864, in a torrent of falling rain, all wet 
as an army of drowned rats. General Polk, a bishop 
of the Protestant Episcopal Church, had been in com- 
mand of the place, and when we poked in, evidently 
not feeling prepared to give us a good warm recep- 
tion, he backslid and Po(l)ked out in a hurry, and re- 
treated in the direction of Demopolis, Ala., and very 
unkindly left us poor Yanks out in the cold winter 
rain to find shelter and entertain ourselves as best we 
could. 

Our infantry forces were at once set to work de- 
stroying an arsenal, immense storehouses, and the Mo- 
bile and Ohio Railroad, north and south, and the Jack- 
son and Selma Railroad, east and west, of Meridian. 

Our regiment had barely halted near a large four- 
story frame hotel in the center of the town when puffs 
of smoke were seen and rifle shots were heard on all 
sides of the town. For the instant we supposed we 
were completely surrounded and were in for a hard 
8 A, 






112 ON WHEELS. 

fiu^lit. Men Imrriedly snatched up their gnns, expect- 
iiig oi'ders to fall in line of battle; but in a moment 
the wild excitement was abated. It appeared that 
some soldier on the outskirts of the town took a notion 
to try his wet gun to see if he could discharge it. The 
old musket f)erformed all right, and its clear report 
on the heavy atmosphere gave his neighbor the fever 
to try his gun also, aud the contagion seemed to spread 
rapidly from regiment to regiment, until pop, bang, 
rattle, and roar sounded all over the camp, and prob- 
ably some fifteen or twenty thousand musket* were 
discharged within the space of five minutes. As the 
mysterious fusillade alarmed us for the instant it w^as 
no doubt startling to the few remaining inhabitants of 
the captured town. 

"When the little flurry was over I headed for wliat 
I .took to be a large smokehouse in the rear of a 
dwelling, which, on entering, I found to be a detached 
kitchen, provided with all necessary paraphernalia 
used in cooking. Bat, to my boyish sorrow, I found 
it to bo destitnte of any provender. However, while 
funiblins: amon^i: a lot of tin cans and bottles on a 
shelf above one of the side ^vindows I fished out a 
]unt fiask filh d with some kind of clear liquor, and 
riot bc-ing a tip[)ler myself, I was not quite sure what 
kind it was, and decided to take it to my mess and 
there have it sampled. 

The first person I met on reaching the street was 
Uncle Jimmie Scott, who, like the rest of us, was 
very wet and chilly and looked somewhat dejected ; 
but as he canght a glimpse of the flask in my hand 
his gloomy countenance brightened up a little, then 



AT MERIDIAN. 113 

clouded and drooped again, as be said ; " Well, it's a 
bad fasliion tliese Sacesb bave of puttin' striclmine in 
wbisky for tbe Yanks, an' ye's lucky, me by, ef ye's 
don't get pizened." After wliicb, in a very paternal 
and solicitous manner be proffered to examine it for 
me. Believing if tliere was anytbing on eartli " Uncle 
Jiinmie " was a good judge of it was tbe article I bad in 
my band, tbougbtlessly I banded it over to biin, and 
before I bad time for a second tbougbt about wbat tbe 
tall, bony Irisbman was up to, or be bad time to find out 
wbetber tbere was any extra poison in it or not, be 
jerked out tbe cork, clasped tbe llask firmly in both 
bands, placed it to bis lips, and, quickly turning liis face 
and tbe bottom of tbe flask up toward tbe descending 
rain, be closed bis eyes, and before I could prevent it 
by my many quick and vigorous jerks on bis long arms 
be let tbe wbole of its contents gurgle down bis tbirsty 
tbroat. Tbe liquor, be afterward told me, was a very 
fine quality of old Kimmel wbisk}'. I cared notbing 
for it myself, but some of my mess on tliat occasion 
were as mad as wet, cliilly soldiers could well be, and 
gave ^' Uncle Jimmie" a severe tongue lasbing, wbicb, 
so far as I could discover, appeared to make bim all 
tbe merrier, and to tbink the joke on tbem all tbe 
more enjoyable. 

On reacbing my mess fartber down street I found 
tbem all seated around a ruddy camp fire in tbeir oil- 
clotb blankets, busily engaged broiling bacon on tbe 
ends of tbeir iron ramrods, and earnestly watching 
Jack's big mess kettle of steaming coffee, wbicb was 
about ready to take off. I, too, soon bad a slice of 
pork broiled, and joined them in the midday meal. 



114 ON WHEELS. 

Just as WG were washing tlie last of our toasted 
liai-dtack down with the hot coffee smoke and flames 
were seen to suddenly burst out of a dozen or more 
windows of the large hotel near us. The building be- 
ing constructed of yellow pitch pine, the flames spread 
rapidly, making a very hot Arc, and consumed it in 
a A^ery few minutes. Our mess never knew who set 
it on fire, but as our regiment was luilted nearest to it 
we got the credit for it. Having had orders against 
burning private property, as a punisliment for tlie 
offense, as soon as the fii'e was over our regiment was 
marched a half mile out of town. The building was 
completely furnished, but wholly deserted except by 
cats and rats. These ran out of it into the streets, 
singed, mewing, and squealing, by the dozens, and were 
killed by the soldiers, which, while decidedly tough 
on the poor singed cats and rough on rats, furnished 
very lively sport for a few minutes, and was heartily 
engaged in by the old Yanks as well as the younger 
ones. None of the army of singed boarders escaped 
tlie slaughter, except two or three cats, which were 
not badl}^ burned. After this episode hundreds of 
cold, water-soaked soldiers gathered around the big 
blaze to warm themselves and dry out their clothing 
and blankets. 

Our command remained in Meridian and vicinity 
some five days awaiting the arrival of General W. S. 
Smith with his force of ten thousand cavalry from 
Memphis, who, as previously stated, failed in his 
attempt to join us. 

During this stay our infantry were kept busily em- 
ployed destroying the railroad tracks in all directioiis. 



AT MERIDIAN. 115 

while the cavalry were scouting as far to the north- 
west as Philadelphia, a distance of thirty-five or forty 
miles, feeling for General Smith and his troops. 

While here we were more or less solicitous respect- 
ing our situation, for our command of twenty thou- 
sand had now penetrated into the enemy's country one 
hundred and fifty miles from its base of supplies, and 
were disappointed in our expectations of forming a 
junction with a strong cavalry I'orce. To add to our 
anxiety, while we api)reliended no danger from the 
west, the direction from which we had come, yet 
there remained three directions — north, soutli, and 
east — from which the Confederates could quite easily 
be concentrated on railroads entering Meridian. 

The morning of the 15th of February, in company 
with a good portion of the Seventeenth Army Corps, 
we marched south along the Mobile and Ohii) Kail- 
road as far as Enterprise. Here the command was 
divided into working parties and guards, so that while 
some were at work tearing up the railroad track 
others were posted out some distance on each side of 
the track to prevent a surprise. Tools for tliis work 
had been brought along with us, or picked up at 
various stations along the way. When it came our 
regiment's turn to work, we little fellows, by common 
consent, were appointed firemen on the Mobile and 
Ohio Railroad, a position that I very much enjoyed, 
even though I had to walk and the pay was small. 

In destroying the greater portion of this track 
whole regiments and brigades were strung out on one 
side of it, a man to each tie, who, after prying the ties 
up, took hold and turned the whole thing upside down. 



lie ON WHEELS. 

and then pried and knocked it to pieces with crow- 
bars and sledge hammers. On some other portions 
of the track the outside spikes -were first drawn and 
the rails rolled off at the ends of the ties, afcer which 
the ties were ricked np into wedge-shaped piles four 
or five feet high ; the rails were then placed across 
the top tie so as to evenly balance, leaving just space 
enougli betw^een them for the flames to have a good 
sweep, and then we boy firemen had our sport in 
firing hundreds of ricks of pitch-pine ties, and watch- 
ing the long, heavy iron rails bend to the ground from 
the heat. Then the men would take the rails and 
twist them into all manner of shapes, handling them 
with their heavy tongs, or wrap them around the 
trees as iron cravats, until the track of the old Mo- 
bile and Ohio Railroad had so many twists and turns in 
it that its best iron horse could not have followed it. 

The second day, while engaged at this work, we 
had a light fall of snow, which added very much to 
the picturesqueness of the busy scene. At that point 
the road passed through a long avenue of tall, statel}^ 
evergreen trees. On either side of it, as far as the 
eye could penetrate through the feathery flakes of 
falling snow, could be seen long stacks of guns and 
tall piles of knapsacks, which, together with the grace- 
ful evergreens and the ground around, were cov- 
ered with a mantle of fleecy wdiiteness. In marked 
contrast with these, tlie roadbed itself was covered 
with thousands of busy bhiecoats, whose uniforms 
were kept clear of the falling snow, as was also the 
roadbed, by the heat of the high-leaping flames from 
the burning ties. So there could be seen at once the 



AT MERIDIAN. 117 

red flames, tlie white snow, and the bhie coats — our 
national colors, disphiyed as if in liigli carnival, with a 
lively crowbar accompaniment. 

At Enterprise we burned a large amonnt of cotton 
and other stores. The morning after our first night 
there it was reported that General Sherman had been 
compelled to move his headquarters three times dur- 
ing the night previous on account of the fire which 
had been spread by the high winds. 

Our brigade was camped that night just outside of 
the town on a bald knob commanding the place. The 
weather had now turned much colder, and in our ex- 
posed position we got the full benefit of the wintry 
blast. As night approached Company G of our regi- 
ment, composed entirely of Germans, for tlie purpose 
of protecting themselves against the piercing wind, 
all went down to the town with their blankets and 
returned with them full of cotton for beds, and no 
doubt sweetly slept and dreamed. Toward midnight, 
however, when all were sound asleep, and the wild 
winter gale was at its height, these beds caught fire 
from some flying sparks, and tlie flames spread rapidly 
from bod to bed and quickly consumed the wdiole 
field of combustible couches. Being awakened by the 
commotion, and peeping out from under my old gray 
blanket, I beheld such a scene of excited Dutchmen 
and heard such cartridge explosions as I had never 
seen or heard before. The contents of the cartridge 
boxes were snapping and popping like bunches of 
cannon crackers, while the Germans were jabbering 
and jumping out of their fiery beds and away from 
the cartridge explosions in a most lively manner. 



CHAPTER XIII. 



A FoKAGiNG Expedition. 

,NE cold, gloomy morning, while camped on the 
elevation mentioned, from which we had a 
good view of the surrounding country for sev- 
eral miles, a boy belonging to another mess and my- 
self, considering onr camp life rather prosy, held a little 
council of war, and decided on a raid to a plantation 
which we could see some two miles away. 

Before starting on the expedition we mapped out 
our route, which lay across fields and up several low 
wooded ravines. So, after slinging our canteens and 
haversacks, we strapped on our cartridge boxes, shoul- 
dered our guns, and descended from camp into the 
lower woodland. When about three fourths of a mile 
from camp we managed to run the guards where some 
of our boys were on picket by promising to return 
that way and divide if our raid should prove a success. 

About 11 A. M., emerging from a ravine in a pasture 
near the residence we had started for, we cautiously 
crawled to the top of a ridge to take observations and 
form a plan of approach. Here we entered a clump 
of bushes, and climbed up two small trees, from whose 
leafy boughs wo had a good view of the premises. 
We discovered that the large, snow white residence of 



A FOE AGING EXPEDITIOX. 119 

the plantation stood on a beautiful elevation nestleil 
among a clump of line old shade trees, handsome ever- 
greens, and neatly trimmed shrubbery; and surround- 
ing this residence were so many white barns, out- 
buildings, and Negro cabins that the premises pre- 
sented the appearance of a trim little country village. 

As we peered out from our observatories in the tree, 
tops a Sabbath quiet seemed to pervade tlie little 
hamlet. At first sight none of the villagers appeared 
to be astir, though this did not disturb us so much as 
the total absence of any stock or poultry on the prem- 
ises. We had come provided with a couple of sharp 
knives, and now it looked as if we should have no oc- 
casion to use them. 

We had been in the trees but a short time, discuss- 
ing the safest plan of approach and the way of escape 
in case trouble should occur, when, by a little closer 
scrutiny, through the trees surrounding the house we 
were rewarded with a glimpse of several blue coats 
and two white men dressed in citizen's clothes in a 
large garden w^hich adjoined the door yard. This 
discovery assured us that the coast was clear, and we 
at once slid down to the ground, picked up our guns, 
emerged from the bru&h, and were soon in the garden 
with those whom we had discovered, surrounding one 
of a half dozen large potato banks that were filled with 
choice sweet potatoes. At the opening in this bank, 
on his knees, handing out potatoes to the four soldiers, 
was one of the citizens, a man about thirty-five years 
of age, dressed in a neat and clean suit of homespun, 
whom I took to be a rather intelligent hired man, and 
whom the other man addressed as Henry, telling hini 



120 ON WHEELS. 

to give the gentlemen all tliej wanted. The four sol- 
diers were standing quietly bj, tilliiig their haversacks 
and stuffing potatoes around inside of their blouses, 
until the quartet looked like as many puffy toads. 

As we climbed over the fence and approached tlie 
party the proprietor, a tall, well-built, elderly gentle- 
man, somewhat to our surprise, addressed us boys as 
gentlemen, and invited us to have some of his sweet 
potatoes, and as he lifted his broad-brimmed black bat 
to us we both saluted him in true military style and 
thanked him for his kind offer. Tliis man had a clean 
shaven face, pleasant features, long wliite hair, and 
was dressed in a suit of black broadcloth. As we ap- 
proached, and before I had secured any of the pota- 
toes, he beckoned me to whore he was standing, a 
little apart from the group, and invited me to go to 
the house witli him and get something to eat. This I 
consented to do, for there was a certain noble look 
about him that completely captivated me and disarmed 
my suspicions. 

When we started I had no idea of entering the 
house, but expected to stop at the kitchen or dining 
room door and take my victuals in my hand like a 
tramp. But as we came np to the back veranda he 
halted in front of the door of the large dining room, 
and gave orders to have a dinner served for a gentle- 
man and to send \\m\ word to the parlor when ready. 
He then entered a long hall, and as he did so I halted 
outside. When he noticed I was not following he stopped 
and seemed a trifle embarrassed, and then asked me 
if I would not go inside and wait until the servant 
should prepare my dinner. To this I replied I thought 



A FORAGING EXPEDITIOX. 121 

I was not dressed properl}" to be seen in a gentleman's 
l^arlor. He said that would make no difference, as in 
my vocation I could not control mj dress. Then I 
was rather nonplussed, for I was not thinking so much 
about my dress as I was abont my gun. The latter I 
did not propose to let get out of my hands, and it 
seemed it would be a rude thing to carry it into the 
old planter's parlor, especially when he seemed so very 
hospitable with me. 

At this juncture I made up my mind to return to 
my comrades and not to enter the house at all, and, 
turning on my heel to do so, he asked what the trouble 
was. I then frankly told him I did not want to carry 
my gun into his parlor or go in without it. This in- 
stead of displeasing only seemed to amuse him, and 
he said : " Come right in, young man, gun and all. 
It's the proper thing to do. I will take no exceptions 
to your riHe, and while the servant is preparing your 
dinner I wish to have a little conversation with you." 
I then followed him through the long hall into the 
fine large parlor at the front of the house, where he 
seated me in an upholstered rocking-chair in front of 
a cheerful lire in an elegant open fireplace, the rich 
mantel of which was elaborately covered with bric-a- 
brac. 

AVe had been seated in the comfortable room but 
about ten minutes when I heard rapidly approaching 
hoof -strokes, and turning to look out the window I 
noticed for the first time that the blinds were all 
closed, and that the liglit in the room was produced 
by the bright pine-knot fire on the hearth. I then 
began to fear I was entrapped, and asked my host 



122 ON WHEELS. 

what it all meant. He seemed somewhat agitated, 
and rej^lied that he did not know, but would go to 
the front door and see, expressing a hope that there 
would he no trouble. As he started I did also, and 
he had but barely reached the door when I heard a 
loud knock, and voices outside both at the front and 
rear of the liouse. Seeino^ that we were hemmed in, I 
decided to return to the parlor and await develop- 
ments. In an instant the front door was thrown open, 
and I heard some one on the veranda ask the propri- 
etor if he was the man of the house, and if there were 
any more men inside. To this he replied in the affirm- 
ative, stating that there was one servant and a soldier 
within. The conmiand was then given for the sergeant 
to take two men and go in and arrest the soldier, at 
the same time ordering the planter to point the soldier 
out. The planter entered the pai'lor door smilingly, 
wliicli I could not quite understand. Hearing the 
sound of the rattliniT of sabers and the cockinor of 
revolvers in the hall, my hair fairly stood on end, for 
I thought I should certainly be roughly handled if 
captured as a forager in a Confederate parlor. 

But my feai's were soon, quieted when I saw three 
Yankee dragoons enter, though with drawn revolvers, 
who on seeing my diminutive size and blue uniform 
lowered tlieir revolvers and burst out in a roar of 
laughter. They had entered the room expecting to 
arrest a Confederate soldier, and found a Yankee boy 
recruit instead. This also explained the old planter's 
smile, which, while mystifying to me, was doubly sig- 
nilicant. In the first place, having invited me in to 
enjoy his hospitality, I do not believe he w^anted me 



A FORAGING EXPEDITION. 123 

captured in liis house by the Confederates ; besides, 
having no love for the Yankees, by not making known 
tlie kind of a soldier he was entertaining, it sc^ive him 
an excellent opportunity to get a good joke on a 
Yankee officer, which he succeeded in doing admira- 
bly. 

When the three cavalrymen returned to the ve- 
randa without a captive, 1 heard the officer ask them 
Mdiere their prisoner was, to which they replied : 
" O, pshaw ! Cap., if s only one of our boys in there." 
In a moment the tliree soldiers returned, and a large 
cavalry captain with them. As they came in 1 
stood up and saluted the officer, who, without return- 
ing my salute, demanded in an angry tone to know 
what I was doing out there two miles from camp by 
myself. To this I replied that I had been invited in 
to dinner, and was only waiting for it to be served, 
and that my comrades were out in the garden getting 
some sweet potatoes. This ho did not seem to credit, 
and roared out that it was false, that there w^as not a 
Union soldier on the place when they came up, except 
myself, and that it was hardly likely that a Southern 
gentlenum would invite such a specimen as I into his 
parlor to wait for dinner. This led me to surmise 
that my comrades, when they heard tlie approach of 
this cavalry squad, suspecting they were Confederates, 
had fled, and that really I was the only Union soldier 
left on the premises. 

As I stood there before the officer on the beautiful 
soft carpet, and caught a life-size view of myself in 
a large mirror, I confess I could not blame the officer 
for doubting my veracity, for as I viewed myself 



124 ON WHEELS. 

iroui head to foot, standing with my old musket at 
parade rest, my soiled blouse stuck inside my dirty 
pantaloons, the bottoms of which were tucked into 
the tops of my coarse boots, I, too, thought I was an 
unprepossessing looking specimen for a gentleman to 
ijivite into his parlor for any purpose, much less to 
await the preparation of a sumptuous dinner. But I 
told the captain I could prove the truth of my asser- 
tions. However, he would not listen to this, and had 
one of the men take my gun, placed me under arrest, 
and marched me outside. As we went out, however, 
I saw the planter in the hall with several soldiers 
standing near the parlor door, where he had been lis- 
tening to our conversation. Presently he came out 
and called the officer to his side, and when the latter 
returned to the squad where he had me under guard, 
he said : " As you are but a boy, and I have no extra 
horse for j'ou to ride, I will release you." 

I told him I was much obliged to him, but to please 
let me get some of the potatoes. 

"Be in a hurry," he said, "and get away from 
here, for we are c^oina^ to start in a few minutes." 

Beturning to the garden, I once more found Henry, 
■who, as he helped me load up, told me he was a slave, 
and that he was going to run off that night and come 
into our lines. I now for the first time detected a slight 
tinge of mulatto blood in him, and a few days afterward 
I saw him in the ^N^egro corral and learned from him 
that my comrades, on hearing the approach of horse- 
men, ran off before they knew who they were. Pie 
also informed me that the l\"egroes and stock belong- 
ing to the plantation had been run off on the approach 



A FORAGING EXPEDITION. 125 

of our army, tlie old " mnssa" only remaining behind 
with a few servants because of the sickness and ina- 
bility of tlie old *' mistress " to be moved. 

After filling my haversack with potatoes, and stnff- 
ing so many inside of my blouse that I could barely 
climb over the garden fence, I started, and as I bal- 
anced on its top wiiitewashed plaidv I caught a sight 
which fairly made my blood boil in my veins. There 
on the back porch w^as the cavalry captain being 
escorted into the dining room by the planter to devour 
my dinner. 

When about half way to camp, while in an open 
field, following a deep ravine looking for some good 
place at which to cross it, I noticed some cavalry in 
a lane where I thought they could see me. lN"ot being 
certain whether they were Union or Confederate, I 
became nnich excited and eager to cross the ravine 
so that I conld reach some timber where I would 
be obscured. I presently came to a place about six 
feet wide and seven feet deep, the banks being per- 
pendicular. Throwing my haversack and canteen 
across the ravine, with a run and a jump I landed 
safely by them, but with such a sudden stop that my 
big load of potatoes jerked the short tail of my blouse 
from my trousers and dumped them all on the ground. 
This placed me in a more serious predicament than 
ever, for I was almost afraid to take time to readjust 
n\y blouse and pick up the potatoes; but rather than 
lose them 1 decided to try it, keeping an eye on the 
cavahy while at work. To my great relief, however, 
the cavalry squad tnrned into a lane leading in an 
opposite direction and soon passed ont of sight. 



126 ON WHEELS. 

Entering the timber, I became confused as to di- 
rections, and twice I came out near tlie place where I 
had entered. After a while I was halted by some one 
in a clump of small pines. From the peculiar tone 
of his voice I was unable to tell to whicli army he 
belonged, and all I could see was about a foot of the 
muzzle end of a musket pointing toward me. This 
so startled me than when the gnard gave his chal- 
lenge : " Halt ! Who comes there? " I scarcely knew 
how to reply, but said, presently, in a trenmlous voice : 
*' A friend with sweet potatoes." 

The guard then said: "Advance with your 
' taters ! ' " 

Obeying the order, I was delighted to find I had 
been halted by a big, good-natured Indiana volunteer, 
who as I came up said he had been listening to me 
crack brush for some time. Then, laughing, he added : 
" Well, youngster, you have got 'eui bad, very bad. It's 
about the worst case of sweet pertaters I ever saw. 
Looks like they're about ready to break out all over you.' 

When I told him they had back where I had 
jum])ed the ravine the big Ploosier fairly roared with 
laughter. As I started for camp I handed him two 
good-sized potatoes for passing me in, and as I left 
him he said ; '' Say, you young rooster, if you are out 
there after any more ' taters ' 'twix' this and moruin', 
remember they are legal tender for the countersign at 
old Indiana's post." 

"When I arrived in camp my mess were more 
pleased to see me than my potatoes, for the boy who 
went with me had returned several hours before 
and leported me as captured by Confederate cavalry. 



CHAPTER XIV. 



Our Return March. 

^TE renuiined at Meridian and vicinity to Lear 
from General Smith until the morning of the 
20tli of February, and during the time com- 
pletely destroyed the railroads around that junction. 



Getting no 



tidings 



concerning General Smith, our 



entire connnand, the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Corps, 
started back, heading toward Canton, Miss., arriving 
there on the 26tli. 

The second morning on our return trip, while in 
the skirmish line, as I passed through the front door 
yard of a large phmtaticui, lying in the path, midway 
between the front gate and veranda, I saw two dead 
cavalry boys in blue, side by side, in pools of blood, 
their bodies yet quite warm. The reports of the shots 
by which they were killed we had heard but a few 
moments before as we were approaching the house. As 
I passed through the yard one of the Union generals 
and staff rode in, and as they did so a woman came 
running out of the front door wringing her hands, 
and going up to where the general was viewing the 
dead cavah-ymen, she wildly cried : " O, I shall die ! 
I shall die ! ^' 

To this the general replied : "No, madam, I don't 
9 



128 ON WHEELS. 

think you will die just jet. But here are two of our 
boys wlio have been killed by shots fired from that 
house," and added : "You had better go back into the 
house, and I will see that our men do you no harm." 

The killing of these boys in this yard seemed a very 
cruel thing, but, as thej^ considered us invaders, I sup- 
pose those who did the shooting believed they v/ere 
doing it in defense of this home. They undoubtedly 
looked upon us about as did the inmates of those un- 
fortunate Ohio homes w^hich were along the line of 
Morgan's raid, or those of Pennsylvania who un- 
fortuuately fell in the line of march of Lee's invading 
army. 

That night, just after dusk, we went into camp in a 
sheltering timber by the side of an old field which 
was inclosed by a rail fence. Early the next morning 
we noticed twelve or fifteen horses on the opposite 
side of the inclosure about a quarter of a mile distant. 
A dozen or more of our boys, suspecting no danger, 
started across to capture them, but just as two of them 
had caught and mounted a horse apiece hundreds of 
us who were watching saw the squad fired into by 
some dismounted Confederate cavalry. During the 
night they had evidently set and baited a nice little 
trap for the purpose of catching us by turning their 
horses loose in the field, securing two of them near the 
fence to keep the others from straying away, very 
cleverly secreting themselves in some brush just in the 
edge of the timber near by, and there waiting for the 
Yanks. 

As the puft's of smoke arose from the Johnnies' 
carbines I heard an old soldier remark that bethought 



OUR RETURN MARCH. 129 

all the time that the situation over there looked 
suspicious, and that he wasn't hankering after anj' 
horses that morning. Then as I jumped up from the 
fire to get a better view a feeling of faintness came 
over me, for two or three of our company boys were 
in the squad, and I w^as afraid they would be left 
over there. Indeed, in the fusillade several of our men 
were wounded, but, luckily, all managed to escape, 
and came in on a lively run, most of them minus 
their hats, the two on the captured horses not much 
in advance of those on foot. 

To even up with the Johnnies for this sharp trick, 
while we were finishing our morning meal a six-gun 
battery was brought up and masked in some timber 
and underbrush near the edge of the field. Then, 
after our brigade had breakfasted, we shouldered 
arms, fell in line, were marched to the rear of the 
battery, and there in easy supporting distance were 
ordered to lie down and keep perfectly quiet, while 
the bands were taken forward playing national airs 
as though leading a marching column. 

It was between 9 and 10 a. m. before the silence of 
our little '^ mum " party was broken, when a brigade 
of gray-coated cavalry came out of the timber on the 
opposite side of the field, and, after they had opened 
the fence, rode through, formed into line of battle, 
and then advanced across the field toward our ])osition 
on a sharp gallop, their every move after entering 
the inclosure being in plain view. In the crisp morn- 
ing air their horses were quite frisky, and it was in- 
deed a pretty sight as the long line of prancing blacks 
and bays, sorrels and grays, dressing on the colors, 



130 ON WHEELS. 

with noses in line, their long manes gracefully flowing 
in the morning breeze, cjinie gayly sweeping across the 
opening toward us, their riders meanwhile wholly 
oblivious of the terrible storm of destruction that 
awaited tliem. 

They were allowed to approach to within about one 
hundred and seventy -five yards of us, when tlie battery 
men quickly ran the six howitzers out from their 
ambush, and opened on tliem witli grape and canister 
and shell. The rapidity of this fire seemed as a 
continuous roar of tliunder, and was most deadly in 
its effects, movring down great gaps of both horses 
and men. 

The Johnnies were so completely surprised and 
panic-stricken that they never returned a shot, but 
wheeled and flew back for the shelter of the timber 
on the dead run, not a few^ of them on foot, while a 
number of horses in the stampede were without 
riders, the flying stirrui)S of their empty saddles ap- 
parently acting as S])urs to rush them on. Several of 
the riderless chargers, led by a large gray with the 
blood running down from his right shoulder, came 
galloping into our lines, and were captured. 

The projected shells continued to explode at the 
heels and over the heads of the retreating Confeder- 
ates until their last man and horse, except the dead 
and wounded, were out of sight. The position of our 
infantry on this occasion would have enabled them to 
deliver a sweeping fire in connection with the battery, 
which would have almost annihilated that cavalry 
command, but we never fired a gun. Why the fire 
was withheld I never knew, but attribute it to the 



OUR RETURN MARCH. 131 

liumanity of some officer, wlio thought we had fully 
squared accounts with the Johnnies. 

That afternoon, as we were marching along on the 
dusty road, all tired and somewhat chafed in spirit 
from the extra effort required in overtaking our com- 
mand, the first man to the right, just in front of me, 
while dodging under a low limb which hung over the 
road, struck me a hard blow on the top of my head 
with his gun barrel. "While dodging under the same 
limb myself my gun barrel gave a surly man be- 
hind me a heavy thump on his pate, and while 
I was cogitating about the carelessness of the man 
whose gun had struck me this fellow administered to 
me a fearfully hard kick. This greatly enraged me, 
for, being attacked both in front and rear, my com- 
bative energy got the best of me, and, springing from 
the ranks, as the surly man, who had not only hurt 
me but had grossly insulted my boyish pride as well, 
came from under the limb I dealt him a blow with 
the butt end of my gun that fairly staggered him. 
There might have been an inglorious fight if my 
comrades had not interfered in time. 

The afternoon of the 26th, when within two or 
three miles of Canton, we passed a rail inclosure con- 
taining fifty or sixty dead mules, which the Con- 
federates had shot to prevent their falling into our 
hands. 

After entering Canton quite late in the evening, in 
company with Nic, my bunk mate, Mose and George 
Langley, of our mess, and six other men of our 
company, I started out on a foraging expedition. 
Arriving at the picket line just a little after dusk, my 



132 ON WHEELS. 

messmates induced me, nmcli against my own wish, 
to return to camp and assist the rest of the boys and 
Jack to prepare some good beds. So I returned, 
while they went on what proved to be, ahas, a fatal 
trip. All nine of thena were captured that night, and 
seven out of the nine afterward perished in Anderson- 
ville prison, brave, generous-hearted Nic among 
them. He now sleeps beneath the moaning pines in 
the National Cemetery, where that frightful prison- 
pen once stood. To me it was like losing an older 
brother or a father, and henceforth my army life 
must be deprived of the wise counsel and the 
brotherly care of this noble soldier. 

Returning to camp, I made a good bed for Nic and 
myself out of straw from a stack near by. I sat up 
quite late waiting for his return, and during tlie night 
I was awake a number of times, and felt over on his 
side of the bed to see if he had not returned. But 
when reveille sounded it found me still alone. Jump- 
ing up, I hastily dressed myself, went to roll-call, and 
there found that all nine of the men I had started 
with the night before were missing. This cast a 
gloom of sadness over the entire company, for they 
were all good men, old and tried soldiers, and the loss 
was a heavy blow on all of us. 

On the 2Tth of February General Sherman left us 
and started for Yicksburg, escorted by Winslow's 
Cavalry, arriving there the following day. The re- 
mainder of the command was left under the senior 
major-general, Hurlburt, with orders to remain at 
Canton and vicinity until the 3d of March. Wiiile 
there we destroyed the railroad, which was also cut 



OUR RETURN MARCH. I33 

below at Jackson, and botli north and south of Canton. 
Here we captured a large quantity of rolling stock, 
among which were twenty -seven locomotives, which 
were all demolished and burned, excepting the bells. 

The second day while here, as I was passing a large 
residence on the outskirts of the town I heard low, 
muffled brays that greatly puzzled me. A wagon 
train was passing at the time, and several of the donkeys 
belonging to it were braying. I soon made up my 
mind, however, that the subdu-ed braying I heard did 
not come from them, and I appointed myself a com- 
mittee of one on investigation. Going to the barn 
attached to the premises, I made a careful searcli, not 
leaving until I had examined the loft and every bin. 
Finding no donkeys there, I then visited several other 
barns on tlie same alley, with like results. Then re- 
turning to the premises first visited, I found the house 
locked up and deserted. I carefully examined all 
the outbuildings, but no donkeys were to be found. 
I then tried the outside cellar door at the rear of the 
residence. This was also securely locked, but I suc- 
ceeded in getting it open, and as the light shone in 
through the dark hole I was greeted by the loud 
braying of a span of large bay mules, vrhich stuck 
their big heads and long ears into the doorway, 
evidently pleased at the prospect of being liberated 
from their dungeon. 

The cellar doorway opening had been dug back 
some distance so as to let the mules in, and the ex- 
cavation then filled uj-), and the windows had l)een 
carefully darkened. AYithin the cellar the donkeys 
had access to feed and water sufficient to keep them 



134 ON WHEELS. 

during a siege of several days, and if we had camped 
in the town but one night, or the mnles had not 
answered the bray of the donkeys in the passing train, 
it is likely their owner ^vonld have had the pleasure of 
resuri-ecting tlieni himself, and of chuckling over the 
way he had beaten tlie Yanks. 

As soon as I discovered them I called to some 
passing soldiers, who helped me get them out, and 
^' Uncle Sam's" quartermaster was soon in possession 
of an extra span of fine large mules at the expense of 
the Confederacy. Such things were considered a 
part of our work, and I mention it that the boys and 
girls of to-day mny know of these veritable incidents 
of the great Civil War that the writers of history 
books never tliink of mentioning. 

AYe remained at Canton until the morning of the 
3d of March, when we all took up the line of march 
leisurely toward Yicksburg, arriving at our old camp 
on the bluffs west of tlie Big Black River on the 
afternoon of the Gth. 

As we crossed the quivering canvas pontoons that 
spanned the muddy stream we completed a successful 
raid of three hundred miles into the very heart of the 
Confederacy, during which we had been entirely cut 
off from our base of supplies for thirty -one days. 
Our generals had demonstrated by this time that in 
so far as our army subsisted on supplies obtained in 
the country through which we were passing our 
government was that much the gainer, and the enemy 
correspondingly ci'ippled, which was considered a 
better method of bringing them to terms than the 
sacrifice of human lives. 



OUR RETURN MARCH. 135 

Pen cannot describe the hilarity of the boys of our 
command upon tliat memorable occasion. On ap- 
proaching the river every flag was flung to the breeze ; 
every band in the victorious command, over twenty in 
number, was phiying lively national airs. At Canton 
our teamsters had taken the bells from the twenty- 
seven captured locomotives and brought them along, 
and these were all swung on their wagons and were 
ringing ; twenty thousand bronzed warriors, carrying 
their hats and caps aloft on the mijzzle of their guns, 
were lustily singing, "John Brown's body lies a 
moldering in the ground," while thousands of 
" contrabands," following the marching column, now 
getting their first taste of freedom, joined heartily in 
the chorus, '* Glory, glory hallelujah," not a few of 
them audibly indulging in expressions of praise and 
prayer. Everything that lovely afternoon seemed to 
conspire to make a boy who had shared in the dangers 
and triumphs of the expedition join in the most 
enthusiastic demonstrations. 

Thus ended Sherman's famous Meridian raid, 
which, no doubt, was an influential precedent, and a 
potent source of inspiration in his grander "march to 
tlie sea." By it the Confederacy in that section was so 
crippled that our command was no longer needed in 
that region, and so could be transferred to the Army 
of the Tennessee, as it soon was. 




CHAPTER XV. 



Again at Yicksburg. 

friAT evening, when we got back to onr old 
^^ quarters and took possession of our tents and 
belongings, which we had left in charge of a 
few of onr sick boys and some of the colored cooks, 
we found a large mail tliat had accumulated during 
our absence, and which was distributed to us. We 
also found newsboys in camp with the latest St. 
Louis, Chicago, and Cincinnati papers. 

"We were all eager to get our letters so as to hear 
from home and the outside world once more, and 
were quite anxious to learn what the rest of the Union 
army had accomplished during our absence. While 
the orderly was distributing our mail to us one 
comrade read aloud from a late paper for the benefit 
of tlie company. Among the important news thus 
read was an account of the passage of a bill by 
Congress by which the grade of lieutenant-general 
was restored, and that General Grant was to be pro- 
moted to that office, and placed in command of all the 
Union forces. Instantly our hats w^ere taken off and 
thrown into the air, and three cheers and a tiger for 
General Grant were heartily given. When quiet was 
restored, down the column a little the comrade read : 



AGAIN AT VICKSBURG. 137 

*' All is quiet on the Potomac." Then the Eastern 
army came in for a scoring, and more than a half 
dozen voices were heard to say : " You can bet your 
boots it won't be so quiet on the ' Pot-o-mack ' when 
Grant gets over there." 

These were about my sentiments too, but I could 
not help reverting in my own mind to the time before 
I enlisted, when I saw this quiet man busy in his un- 
pretentious way around his little wedge tent at 
Naples, 111., dressed in his plain blouse, with slouch 
hat, and looking almost as common as any man in his 
regiment, and how I then thought Governor Dick 
Yates had made a great mistake in placing such an 
unpretentious looking military man in command of a 
regiment. 

Mail day furnished a scene by no means uncom- 
mon in army life. Oii receiving their mail almost 
all the soldiers would slip off by themselves, as if 
afraid lest their letters would contain some family 
secret. This, however, was not the real object of 
their seclusion. They knew that the bravest heart is 
often most tender, and were suspicious that their 
emotions might be betrayed by a trickling tear-drop, 
started by some loving word from home. 

Although I was feeling quite jubilant there were 
several things during the distribution of this mail that 
greatly stirred my emotions, and unbidden tears would 
flow, as when my missing comrades' names were being 
called, and especially that of poor Xic, who had been 
my special friend and bunkmate. Two letters wliich I 
received, addressed in the familiar hand of my loving 
mother, warned me that I had better seek a secluded 



138 ON WHEELS. 

place for tlieir perusal. Altliougli as full of mischief 
and fun as a boy could be, and never sick or home- 
sick while in the service until a prisoner, it was 
always wise forme thus to do if I did not wisli to re- 
veal my emotions when reading mother's letters. 
Often did I upbraid myself for giving way to my feel- 
ings at such times, foolishly, as I thought, for a soldier 
boy, and, although I would vow I w^ould not be so 
foolish again, yet the very next time a letter would 
come from mother, the moment I caught a glimpse of 
the " Dear Willie," her pet name for her boy, the 
blinding tears would start into my eyes. One of the 
saddest things I witnessed during the distribution of 
army mail was when a homesick cojnrade's name 
would not be called. Every feature of his saddened 
countenance would show his great disappointment, 
but he was sure to receive expressions of sympathy 
from his more favored comrades. 

During our long raid, although it was the first 
march of any consequence I had taken, and I was a 
tender recruit fresh from home, and was encumbered 
with my heavy boots, which at Meridian I had so 
badly burned while drying them that the soles and 
uppers had to be " whanged " together with strings, 
I never rode a step nor missed a duty on picket, or 
skirmish, or in battle. This so pleased the old mess 
that when we got back they gave me the title of 
" vet.," of which I was always as proud as the bravest 
brigadier of his brightest stars. This title, coming 
from these old soldiers, I felt fully repaid me for all 
my exposures and sufferings. And this new title 
made me all the more determined that my comrades 



AG Am AT VICKSBURG. 109 

should never catch me shirking or indulging in any 
weakness not becoming a veritable " vet." 

The morning after we got back to our old quarters 
was devoted to letter writing. Besides writing one to 
my parents I wrote a long one to my schoolmates to 
be read to the school. In it I gave them a description 
of our raid. I also referred to a song we boys and 
girls sang at school, the chorus of which was : 

*' So let the cannon boom as tliey will, 
We will be gay and happy still." 

I remember telling them tliat tliat chorus was very 
well for boys and girls in the schoolroom, but on the 
battlefield I found I was not happy until the cannon 
ceased booming. 

After the letter writing the rest of the day was 
devoted to a general wash-up. It was fortunate for 
ns that the weather was pleasant, for the most of the 
command had to boil their trousers, the only sure 
means of death to a troublesome enemy that would 
sometimes inva'dc them. To the lookers-on it was 
quite amusing to see large numbers who had but one 
pair clad in drilling underwear over boiling kettles, 
anxiously watching until their garments could be 
taken out and dried. 

The pantaloons I drew at Springfield, 111., were 
much too large for me ; but after sevei-al trades I 
had a pair which fitted me around my waist, but they 
were about four inches too short for me. As long 
as I wore them tucked in my boot-tops this made no 
difference ; but my boots having worn out, I was now 
wearing a pair of brogans I had picked up, and it did 



140 OX WHEELS. 

make a big difference. After boiling my trousers I 
waited around in the sun two or tlu-ec Irjurs for tliein 
to dry, and when I got into tliem I found they had 
slirunk several inches, and the gap between them and 
my shoe-tops was greater than ever. Stooping over 
to take hold of the bottom of my trouser legs 
to draw them down so as to form a junction with the 
top of my socks, they crawled up my limbs still far- 
ther, and I failed to get them inside my sock legs so 
as to tie them down. However, I finally got out of 
the dilemma by sewing a piece of cloth on the bottom 
of each trouser leg. Tliis was not very scientifically 
done, and when completed looked as if I had been try- 
ing to ornament them with a couple of large flaring 
flounces, which the boys said made them look like a 
combination of petticoats and trousers. In a few days, 
however, I drew a new pair and threw this unsatis- 
factory combination away. These new ones were also 
much too large for me, but I soon got the regimental 
tailor to cut them down to fit me, and having drawn 
a new hat and pair of brogans, and had my blouse 
and other clothing washed up and my haircut, I made 
quite a respectable looking soldier boy. 

We were but fairly settled in our old camp when 
we were ordered to march into Vicksburg, whence we 
were to be transferred to the Army of the Tennessee. 
Arriving in the city one very warm morning, we 
were at once marched down under the shadeless river 
bluffs to await the arrival of a transport that was ex- 
pected at any time. A strong camp guard was 
thrown around our regiment to prevent our straying 
off and being away when the boat should arrive. 



AGAIN AT VIOKSBURG. 141 

After waiting severul hours in the broiling sun with 
no steamer in sight, a number of us boys became rest- 
less and wanted to go up in the city, but we could get 
no passes. The most of the officers had already gone, 
and this made us all the more eager to go. So some 
twenty or thirty of us held a council and decided we 
would try it. Selecting a good place at which to pass 
the guards between the beats of two good-natured sol- 
dier boys who, we were quite sure, would not shoot or 
use their bayonets on us, we got into a rollicksome 
game of leapfrog, and when these two sentinels were 
walking in opposite directions our entire squad quickly 
leapfrogged out between them. They appeared to 
take no notice of us, and we were soon up in the city 
having a good time, although compelled to dodge the 
officers. 

While in the city I saw a newly enlisted regiment 
of colored soldiers drilling which was made up of 
the green plantation Negroes whom we had picked 
up on the raid. They all seemed fond of martial 
music and of their display. They put on all sorts of 
comical airs. Dressed in brand new suits of bright 
blue, with polished shoes, white gloves, burnished 
guns, shiny brass buttons and shoulder-guards, to- 
gether with large black-plumed hats trimmed with cord 
and tassels and pinned up at one side, and bearing 
their company and regimental letters and numbers, 
they made a gorgeous sight that was amusing to those 
who had learned that glitter and show doesn't 
amount to much in the hardships of real army expe- 
riences. 

Passing a building on one of the principal streets 



142 ON WHEELS. 

of the city in which I noticed a number of soldiers 
seated around tables, I glanced up at the sign, and 
read, " U. S. Christian Commission Kooms." ^N'ever 
having been in one of these buildings, I thouglit I 
would enter and see what was going on, and did so. 
Most of the soldiers who w^ere there were reading or 
writing. Behind the counters were several ladies 
who gave the boys paper and envelopes, on the left 
npper corner of which were the w^ords, ^' From the 
U. S. Christian Commission." A number of other 
useful articles were on the shelves, such as rolls of 
white bandages, socks, underwear, sheets, pocket and 
needle books, jellies, pickles, jams, and other good 
things to eat. 

As I entered the room with my hands thrust into 
my penniless pockets, and my new hat cocked to one 
side, I noticed a mischievous looking young lady, 
some twenty or more years of age, I judge, behind 
one of the counters near the door, who seemed to eye 
me quite closely. As I walked by I also took a 
pretty good look at lier, for I believed her rosy cheeks, 
black, sparkling eyes, and clean white apron were 
those of a Yankee lass, and if so she was the first 
Northern girl I had seen since coming to "Dixie." 

After I had been in the room a few moments I leis- 
urely sauntered down to near the center of it, where 
there was an elderly lady, wdio at once engaged me in 
conversation. While thus engaged the young lady 
made it in her way to walk down to us to ask the 
other lady some question. Then turning to me, she 
said : " My soldier boy, you have a button off your 
blouse, can't I sew it on for you?" Supposing she 



AGAIN AT VICKSBURG. U'.i 

meant for iiic to take my blouse off so that she could 
sew the button on, I felt rather awkward, for I didn't 
see how I conld xqyj well do that, as I was wx^aring 
it belted inside mj pantaloons as an overshirt. Hesita- 
ting a moment, I then blushingly said : " I — I — I thank 
you very much, but T — I guess not.'' Both ladies must 
liave surmised my thoughts, for they glanced at each 
other in a significant way and smiled, which rather 
plagued me, and, seeing my embarrassment, they tried 
to turn it off b}' asking me if there was not something 
else they could do for me. I had a fondness for red 
raspberry jam, of which I saw they had a supply, but 
knowing it was only intended for the sick I would 
not ask for any. Xot seeing anything else I thought 
it would be proper to ask for except writing material, 
T said : " If you please, I will take a sheet of paper and 
an enveloj^e." 

While the elderly lady was getting these for me 
the younger one asked me if I had a housewife, which 
so puzzled me I could hardly believe my ears. Blusli- 
ing again, I said : " A wh — a — t ? " "A housewife," she 
repeated. " Wouldn't you like a neat little house- 
wife to help you do your sewing and darning?" By 
this time the room seemed exceedingly warm to me, 
and the ladies were apparentlj^ almost dying with 
suppressed mirth. I thought myself rather young to 
be wanting a housewife, and that the girl was getting 
rather forward for a stranger. But remembering the 
hard time I had experienced piecing down my old 
pantaloon legs, and not wishing to be entirely 
" bluffed," I finally summoned courage sufficient to 
gasp out : '• I — I — T believe I should like one," l)ut was 
10 



144 



ON WHEELS. 



rather confused in my own mind as to wliat kind of 
one she was going to offer me. She then hmghinglj 
said : " You shall have the very best looking one in 
the room." However, instead of making me an offer 
of her own hand she lianded out to me a very pretty 
needle-case well supplied wnth sewing and darning 
needles and pins, and having several pockets tilled 
with yarn, skeins of black linen thread, and buttons. 
That neat little housewife I have to-day in a cabinet 
amonir other choice war relics. 

After thanking the ladies for these articles they had 
so kindly given me, I seated myself at a table near 
the door, where I could hear a boat if one should 
whistle, and proceeded to write a letter. 

The upper blouse button that the young lady- 
wished to sew on for me was one that Jack had 
pounded off when washing my blouse l)y beating it 
over a log with a paddle, the way the colored people 
in the army had of washing. I had my letter but 
fairly begun when, glancing up, I saw standing l)y my 
side, equipped with a brass button, needle, and thread, 
the owner of the black eyes and white apron. The 
persistent girl then said, playfully : " Now I have you, 
and if you don't sit still like a good boy and let me 
sew this button on I will bayonet you with my big 
needle." Seeing I w^as cornered, I surrendered with 
as good a grace as possible, but all the time wondering 
if I had gotten my neck and ears clean when I washed 
in the muddy water of the river, just before starting 
up town. 

By the time she was ready to clip the thread with a 
pair of scissors which hung by her side we had be- 



AGAIN AT VIGKSBURG. 145 

come ])rettj well acquainted, and bj way of apology 
in case I had failed in getting my neck and eai-s 
clean I ventured the remark that we had a very dusty 
march that morning coming in from Black River. 
She asked me if I had a mother, to wliicli I replied 
in the affirmative. "I suppose," she said, "you are 
writing her a nice letter, and will tell her all about 
the Christian Commission." 

"JN^o," I said, " I am writing a letter to a widow." 

" Has she any boys in your company who can't 
write?" she inquired. 

" No ma'am," I replied ; " I have been correspond- 
ing with her ever since I enlisted, and the correspond- 
ence is getting very interesting." 

" What ! You Avriting love letters to a widow 
lady?" 

"Yes, ma'am," I said, " but only for the fun of it." 

This seeined to disgust her, and she said : " I had 
a better opinion of you than that, and if your mother 
knew it she would be ashamed of you, and I am for 
her." 

Seeing she was going to snap off the thread of our 
conversation about as suddenly as she had clipped the 
sewing thread w^itli her scissors, I said : " I don't see 
anything so very wicked or so much to be ashamed 
of in a bo}^ writing love letters for a comrade who can't 
write, especially when I don't charge him anything 
for it." 

I now had the satisfaction of seeing somebody else 
embarrassed besides myself, and the young lady made 
about as poor an " out " of apologizing for her severity 
on me as I had in refusing to have a button sewed on, 



146 ON WHEELS. 

or in accepting a needle-case. Bat she wound up our 
conversation by saying : '' You are a bad boy, anyhow, 
for leading nie into a trap of that kind." 

About this time the whistles of several boats were 
heard, the advance of the fleet that was coining to 
transport our con:imand up the river to Cairo, 111. 
This cut our conversation off. Quickly folding my 
pnrtially written letter, I slipped it into the envelope, 
and both into my pocket, tipped my hat, and was off 
on a run for the wharf, arriving there just as my regi- 
ment was slinging knapsacks preparing to embark on 
one of the transports. 

As we boys all got in on time none of us were 
punished further than a slight reprimand for being 
absent without leave. 




CHAPTER XVI. 
Off for a New Field. 



'^^JllE^ fairly quartered on tli 
T^f soon out into the river and 



lie steamer she was 
^y «v^v,x. v/ccu ...^^ ^..K. XX, ^. e*wv^ uudcr waj lieudcd 
for Cairo, 111. I improved this opportunity 
and finished the letter I had begun for my old com- 
rade while in the U. S. Christian Commission Rooms. 
This man was a widower of about forty-five, and 
enlisted at the same time I did. lie belonged to 
another mess, and neither he nor the widow with 
whom he w^as corresponding could write. She was 
about his age, and the correspondence was occasioned 
by her jn-esenting to him a white linen handkerchief 
just ns lie was starting for the army. As a mark of 
his appreciation of this gift and esteem for the giver 
he never used the handkerchief, but kept it unsoiled 
by carrying it in his knapsack folded in several thick- 
nesses of paper inclosed within a piece of oilcloth 
wrapping. After we joined our regiment he noticed 
that I wrote letters for several of the boys, and re- 
quested me to do the same for him. 

About this stage of affairs, as I remarked to the 
young lady in the Christian Commission Rooms at 
Yicksburg, the correspondence, as a result of the 
handkerchief episode, was getting very interesting. 



148 ON WHEELS. 

The widow had changed scribes, evidently, and 1 
judged from the handwi-iting and the tone of the 
letters he was receiving that her present amanuensis 
must be some lively young girl about my age, and the 
way we two youngsters were warming up those two 
old hearts was indeed amusing. 

Having now become accustomed to roughing it, 
and the weather being milder, our trip up the majestic 
" Father of Waters " was much more pleasant than 
the down trip liad been. 

We passed Memphis and Fort Pillow a few days 
after the merciless massacre at the latter place, and 
arrived at Cairo the 28th of April, this time to find 
it very rainy and the snow and ice displaced by 
oceans of mud and water, the city being ]mrtially 
inundated by the swollen rivers. 

Notwithstanding this disagreeable state of affairs 
it seemed very pleasant to touch toes with the old 
Sucker State once more, where we were nearer our 
friends and had a good chance for our lives if we 
were fortunate enough not to get drowned. 

After disembarking we were marched out to an 
elevation in the north part of the city alongside the 
track of the Illinois Central Eaib'oad. Here we were 
quartered in some tents having bunks raised above 
the ground about two feet. The second morning 
after taking possession of these quarters, on awaking, 
we found the w^ater had flooded our tents and was up 
to within three or four inches of our bunks and still 
rising. When this discovery was made w^e quickly 
jumped out into the muddy liquid, gathered up our 
effects, and waded out to still higher ground, leaving 



OFF FOR A NEW FIELD. 149 

the flooded tents for the catfisli and turtles, as they did 
not belong to us. 

In this movement for self-preservation every man 
acted for himself and without orders, and in it I got 
separated from my old mess for several days. This 
was occasioned by myself and five other boys taking 
up quarters in a large hollow sycamore log, which 
was about fifty feet long, and which some fornier and 
higher flood had lodged against the railroad embank- 
ment, where it was lield from rolling into tlie waters 
below by several limbs on its lower side. The railroad at 
that point served the purpose of a levee, and the water 
at that time on the side where the log lay w\as up to 
within a few feet of it. Our regiment was quartered 
on the opposite side of the track from the water, and 
w^as protected from it by the roadbed, and w^as shel- 
tered by some tents made out of oilcloth blankets. 

On reaching the log we found it to be notliing hut 
a shell, having an opening about four and a half feet 
in diameter at the butt end. We explored the inte- 
rior of it with a candle to see that there were no snakes 
or other objectionable inhabitants in it, and discov- 
ered that twenty-five feet back from the mouth the 
opening was still some four feet across, and as the rain 
was pouring down in torrents we were not long in 
deciding that this tubular hotel would suit us. We 
accordingly took up our abode in it, and, despite the 
continued rain, spent a very pleasant week under its 
friendly roof. We drove pegs into the inside walls, 
upon which we hung our guns and other accouter- 
ments. We also made some good beds out of hay that 
we foraged. These were suflieiently roomy so that 



150 ON WHEELS. 

we could sleep two in a bed, thus requiring three beds 
for the six of us. 

One of the best things, however, about our novel 
liouse was the front porch, where we cooked M'ith 
ourselves and fires well protected from the rain. This 
we made bj chopping away five or six feet of the 
lower side of the shell at the entrance, leaving the 
upper half to project over for a roof. Tlie end of tlie 
log extending in beyond our beds we used as a store- 
house and woodshed. At night we lighted our 
rooms with candles, using our bayonets stuck into the 
log for candlesticks. And here in our dry, cosy nest, 
as we " listened to the patter of the soft rain over- 
head," we had a fine place for army boys, where we 
could sleep soundly at night, and at other times open 
our knapsacks, take out our old letters and read them, 
look at the pictui-es of friends, examine our little 
trinkets, write letters, and darn our socks and mend 
our clothes, assisted by our "neat little housewife." 

There were two contingencies, however, that some- 
what disturbed our otherwise complacent minds while 
occupying this log hotel, especially at night time. 
One was the possibility of the rising flood reacliing 
our tenement, and the other was the possibility that 
the heavy jari-ing of the many passing trains might 
cause the limbs by which it was supported to give 
way and let us roll down into the turbulent waters. 
But, escaping these two calamities, I found it decided- 
ly more pleasant sleeping within this log on a dark 
stormy night than I had found it on the top of that 
old log in the alligator swamp down in Mississippi. 

Just after the Meridian raid General McPherson 



OFF FOR A NEW FIELD. 151 

assumed command of the Army of the Tennessee. 
This left one army corps without a commander. Gen- 
eral Frank P. Blair, then a member of Congress, by 
request of General Sherman, resigned his seat in that 
body, came West, and by appointment assumed com- 
mand of the Seventeenth Armj^ Corps. Our division, 
Crocker's, and Leggett's of this corps rendezvoused 
at Cairo some two weeks, awaiting the return of the 
reenlisted men of the Second Division, who Avere at 
home on veteran furlough. 

We broke camp about tlie 15th of May, 1864, and 
marched down througli rain and mud and water to the 
fleet which was in waiting for us on tlie Ohio Kiver 
side of tlie city. There we embarked for Clifton, 
Tenn., which is situated on the Tennessee River in 
one of the southern counties of that State, a point on 
our route to the Army of the Tennessee, which had 
now started on the famous Atlanta campaign and was 
in the field near lluntsville, Ala. 

Our regiment boarded the side-wheel steamer Illi- 
nois^ a large freight transport, the largest river craft 
I had ever seen. The most of us were quartered on 
the boiler deck, which had but a small cabin in the 
center of it for the accommodation of the boat's offi- 
cers. The remainder of the floor space was left free 
for all kinds of freight. On this deck we found a 
small space fore and aft occupied by cannon. In the 
surrounding space, except that occupied by our guns, 
was a fringe of white-topped provision, ordnance, 
ambulance, and medicine wagons, which were standing 
jammed up against each other side by side, and with 
their hind wdieels backed up against the outside rail 



152 ON WHEELS. 

or giiarcl. The tongues of these vehicles were all 
stuck up in the air as stiff, straight, and noncommuni- 
cative as an officer of the regular armj. As these silent 
tongues interposed no objections we were soon crowded 
into the wngons and under them out of the rain. 

We were to take a large drove of cattle to the 
front, and our boat had its full complement on the 
lower deck of bawling cattle, squealing horses, and 
braying mules, which, together with their kicking and 
stamping, strongly suggested the ancient confusion of 
Babel, if not in kind, at least in degree. The hull of 
our transport was loaded with ammunition, provisions, 
etc., as was also the space not otherwise occupied on 
both decks. As we took up our quarters amid this 
mass of animate and inanimate freight, with the rain 
descending in torrents and the vast floods of angry 
waters surging in maddened fury, as if bent on the 
destruction of all things unsheltered, to my young 
mind there were strong suggestions of the deluge, with 
its terrible destruction, and of Noah's ark, with its 
securely protected occupants. 

When the entire fleet was loaded bells were rung, 
hawsers were cast off, and soon we were on our way 
up the Ohio with an escort of two gunboats in our 
front and one in our rear, and as we passed by Cairo 
all the flags of our large fleet were flying, whistles 
were blowing, bells ringing, bands playing their live- 
liest national airs, all conspiring to stir a boy's patri- 
otic spirit to the highest pitch, and make him feel 
proud that he was on board of one of those govern- 
ment transports headed for the front. I was not yet 
sixteen, was well and hearty, had seen just enough of 



OFF FOR A NEW FIELD. 153 

military life to make me eager for more, and, being 
fond of the water and of adventure, this lively trip 
along with this large war fleet up the broad Ohio and 
the deep, clear, winding Tennessee was to me one of 
ravishing delight. 

We entered the moutli of the Tennessee, at Padu- 
cali, Ky., the evening of the first day, and the follow- 
ing day we passed the historical Fort Henry, then 
dismantled and deserted. 

The second day burst upon us clear and bright. A 
lovely May morning it was, with all nature wearing 
her brightest charms, causing us all to feel gay and 
happy. The flowers were in bloom. In the graceful 
overhanging bouglis the thrushes and mating mockers 
were warbling their sweetest notes, while farther up 
the cedar-covered rocky cliffs could be heard the plaint- 
ive sound of cooing doves. Men sang of home and 
love while our bands played their softest, sweetest 
melodies ; and, as I gave ear that mild, rosy May 
morning to strains of "Home, Sweet Home," so ten- 
derly discoursed by military bands and sweetly sung 
by boys in blue, I could scarcely realize that I was 
being borne again to scenes of angry war ; and when 
the touching chorus of the song was reached my soul, 
echoing its tender sentiment, almost yearned for a 
glimpse of the old fireside and the loved ones gath- 
ered there. That morning we saw a company of Con- 
federates lying along a ravine near the river watching 
our passing fleet. They were in plain view and easy 
range from the upper decks, but, like ourselves, ap- 
peared peaceably inclined, as if enchanted by the day's 
dreamy sweetness and enamored by music's gentle 



154 ON WHEELS. 

charms. So we simply exchanged a good look at each 
other, reserving our fire for some future fraj^ 

On this transport, as usual, thei'e was no chance for 
us to get any cooking done except about the fires 
under the boilers, or by bribing the cook to set a 
kettle or a pan on his stove for us. While at dinner 
that day regaling ourselves on dry crackers, broiled 
bacon, and strong coffee, secretly wishing we had a 
ixood kettle of bean soup, the steamers cook, as if divin- 
ing our thoughts, helped us out of our ditiiculty by 
setting a very large pan of baked beans and bacon out 
to cool on the deck just outside of the cook room door. 
This cook room, unlike any otlier that I ever saw, 
was on the same deck and under the same roof that 
the officers' cabin was. This threw our company and 
the baked beans and bacon in close proximity ; nor 
was it long until our relations grew more intimate, 
for no sooner had the fat colored cook turned his 
back than the big square pan, containing not less than a 
peck of beans and eight or ten j^oundsof bacon, started 
on a lively sliding journey under the wagons, and nearly 
all of our company got a share of its contents, and 
baked fingers as well, along with the sport it gave us. 

When the cook reported his loss search was made 
for the missing pan and its contents, but before the 
searching party had reached our company the booty 
had been divided, safely hidden, and the big pan was 
resting on the bottom of the river. We kept an eye 
on that door for more beans, but none ever appeared 
again. We felt grateful, however, to the cook for 
wliat we did get, though it never seemed quite con- 
venient for us to thank him. 



CHAPTER XVII. 

Ol'r March to Eome, Georgia. 

ERIYING at Clifton, Tenn., about the 18tli of 
May, we disembarked, ascended the rockj, ce- 
dar-covered hills, and remained there two days 
waiting for the fleet to discharge its freight and for 
the lading of thew^agon trains. We then started east 
for Pulaski, Tenn., having in charge a large drove of 
cattle. Our route lay tliroi.gh a sparsely settled 
country made picturesque by several clear streams 
meandering among its tree-clad hills. 

Our first day out from Clifton our animals, soldiers, 
and especially General Blair, being quite fresh, we 
made a long and hard march. It seemed to us that 
the general was especially bent on getting to the front 
as if to make up for lost time while he was in Wash- 
ington, and as if he was afraid the Johnnies would all 
be killed before we should reach the scene of battle, 
and his trip West thus prove a failure. 

During our first night on this march General 
Crocker's headquarters were in a large plantation res- 
idence on the outskirts of our camp, about half a mile 
distant from where our reginjent bivouacked. That 
night found us all much fatigued from our long march, 
but, notwithstanding this, after supper a boy whom we 



156 ON WHEELS. 

had nicknamed " Pigeon " and I, haviug noticed some 
fifteen or twenty liead of cattle near General Crock- 
er's headquarters as we passed bj, decided we would 
make a foraging tour and capture fresh meat if pos- 
sible. These cattle belonged to the plantation, had 
been driven into the .yard, and were protected by a 
guard at the front gate. 

That night a curtain of white, billowy clouds was 
thrown over tlie blue sky, partially veiling the moon. 
The night, however, was sufficiently bright to enable 
one to outline good sized objects at quite a distance. 
Keconnoitering the premises under cover of a row of 
shade trees which stood in front of the house, w^e dis- 
covered a gate near one of the corners of the house 
that opened from the back door-yard into a large 
orchard. Waiting until all tlie lights about the prem- 
ises had disappeared, and until w^e thought all were 
asleep but the guard, we climbed over the fence and 
then crawled along in the shade of the trees and 
shrubbery to the orchard gate and propped it open. 
With both guns in charge I was stationed, flat on my 
stomach, near the gate, so as to head off one or two of 
the cattle into the orcliard when Pigeon should drive 
them up, for we were sure of getting caught if we 
should undertake to butcher one in the yard, and the 
guard would miss them if we should drive them all 
out. The cattle were a mixed lot, ranging from suck- 
ing calves to w^ork oxen. Pigeon was to get himself 
up into as near the shape of one of the calves as pos- 
sible, and with his pockets full of pebbles (gathered 
from a gravel walk), which lie was to use in place of 
a whip, he was to crawl out among the herd, pick out 



OUR MARCH TO ROME, GEORGIA. 157 

one or two, and drive them around toward the gate 
where 1 lay. 

After chasing around on all fours for nearly an 
liour, using up several pocketfuls of pebbles, he finally 
succeeded in separating from the rest of the herd an 
old crumpled-horned cow and her yearling heifer calf, 
and then drove them toward the gate, through which 
we soon succeeded in chasing them into the orchard, 
the old cow as she passed through throwing up her 
tail and heels into the night air as if trying to brush 
a mosquito off of the old man in the moon. Shutting 
the gates, we shook hands, declaring the yearling was 
our meat, and tlien started in hot pursuit. Knowing 
if we should shoot we would arouse the camp, we de- 
cided that we would drive the cow and heifer to one 
of the remote corners of the inclosure and there slay 
the calf with our bayonets. So after fixing bayonets 
and removing the caps from our guns we were off for 
our prey. But the cattle took shelter in a wilderness 
of old peach trees and blackberry bushes in the back 
part of the orchard, so that we found it impossible to 
corner the heifer and stab it with our bayonets. Fail- 
ing in this, we then left our guns in a secure place, and 
obtained a supply of brickbats from a pile of bricks we 
had discovei-ed near the center of the orchard, and 
again took up our pursuit. Finding the cattle, we 
tried to knock the heifer down with our bats. About 
the third or fourth attempt, when I was some fifteen 
feet in front of the heifer, and Pigeon was just to the 
right and a little to the rear of her, he said : '' Now, 
'Yet.,' you have a good chance, blaze away." Where- 
upon I blazed ; but instead of killing the calf the bat. 



158 ON WHEELS. 

after striking Ler right shoulder, glanced off and hit 
Pigeon just below tiie belt, nearly collapsing him ; and 
when 1 gut up to where he was lying, my only hopes 
of his recovery were based on the character of the pet 
names he was lavishing on me and his questionable 
praise of my marksmanship. 

This last effort was as near as we ever came to get- 
ting that fresh meat, for, after unbuckling Pigeon's 
belt and rubbing his stomach for half an hour, he was 
then but barely able to walk even with my assistance. 
However, while chasing around after the cattle we 
came across a sitting goose, and having failed to cap- 
ture the heifer I proposed that before we should start 
to camp, leaving the guns with Pigeon, I would go 
and get the goose, which was agreed to. She was sit- 
ting at the root of a dead peach tree in some blackberry 
bushes. On reaching the place, so as not to frighten 
her away from the nest, I thought I would reach my 
hand in gently and seize her by the neck. But in- 
stead of being frightened, when I got my hand to 
within about six inches of her head the saucy thing 
nabbed it and well-nigh took a piece out of it ; and 
as I jerked it back the briers gave it a fierce rake, 
so that in this first assault I had much the worst 
of the encounter. Seeing that the old goose was de- 
termined to " hold the fort," I decided to capture her 
panther fashion, by springing on top of the nest, briers 
and all, and grabbing her in the fall But, O horrors ! 
I found she was sitting on a nest of explosives, and 
when I dropped there were loud reports. The pun- 
gent, penetrating odor from these l)onil)s almost took 
my breath. Fortunately, however, for me, as I dropped 



OUR MARCH TO ROME, GEORGIA. 159 

tlie old goose spread lier wings, and thus protected my 
clothing from the most of tliis paralyzing perfume, and 
I was not long in extricating mvself from the unpleas- 
ant situation, this time carrying off my prize. I soon 
had her killed and her feathers washed in a small 
branch which ran through the orchard. 

Returning to Pigeon, we prepared to move. I slijipcd 
his cartridge-box on my belt to carry it for him, as his 
diaphragm was too sore to bear its weight. Then, with 
both guns and the goose on my left shoulder, assist- 
ing Pigeon with my right arm as much as 1 could, we 
made our way to camp, arriving there about midnight 
in a rather demoralized condition. After getting 
Pigeon into bed I woke Jack up, and we built up a 
lire and put tlie goose on to boil, after which Jack 
retired while I remained up for about two houi's poul- 
ticing Pigeon's stomach with socks wrung out in hot 
water, and keeping up the fire under our goose kettle. 
Pigeon now being easier, and resting in the embrace 
of " nature's sweet restorer," I retired. On awaken- 
ing the next morning Jack informed me that our 
mess, who had risen some time before, had pronounced 
the goose worthless and ordered him to throw it away. 
Thus ended the most unsatisfactory and fruitless 
foraging expedition I was ever engaged in. 

Breaking camp that morning just a little after sun- 
rise, we made a march of twenty miles before we 
bivouacked for the night, which brought us to within 
thirty miles of Pulaski. During the night a report 
reached camp that Wheeler's Confederate cavalry were 
threatening the railroad at that point. So the next 
morning we were on the move before sun up, and 
11 



J go ON WHEELS. 

that day we tramped thirty miles, np hill and down 
over dusty roads, with our lieavy loads, reaching Pu- 
laski just at sunset almost fagged out. On our arrival 
at that point we found Wheeler was not there, but was 
expected to strike the road fifteen or twenty miles 
north. We were allowed but a few minutes to pre- 
pare and eat supper, when we were loaded in and on 
top of box cars, and there held until we should receive 
a dispatch that would inform us just where we would 
be wanted. Being very nmcli crowded we could get 
no rest. Between ten and eleven o'clock, no word 
having been received, we were ordered out of the cars, 
and were soon under our blankets asleep. But we had 
not been in bed more than an hour when a telegi'am 
came, stating that Wheeler was heading for Elk River 
Raih'oad Bridge, some fifteen miles soutli of us. 

We were soon up and on board the cars again to 
await orders. But again no orders were received, and 
toward morning we returned to camp and got, per- 
haps, two hours' sleep. Then came reveille, a hurried 
breakfast, and we were off for Elkton a short time 
after sunrise, and reached there about 3 p. m. the 
same day. There we were given over a day's rest 
waiting for tlie balance of our command to come up 
with the cattle we had left when we started on our 
chase after Wheeler. 

The loss of nearly two nights' sleep, foraging and 
boarding and unboarding the cars, along with forced 
marches over hot and dusty roads, had me pretty well 
tuckered out when we reached Elkton ; so as soon as 
we had halted and stacked arms 1 sought shelter from 
the rays of the scorching sun under a big gourd 



OUR MARCH TO ROME, GEORGIA. 161 

vine, like Jonah's, which covered a fence corner, and 
tliere I lay with my head on my knapsack fighting 
flies and dozing until the cool of the evening. Then 
going down to the Elk Kiver I took a plunge in its 
cooling waters, and, after partaking of a supper of 
Jack's hot coffee, fried bacon, and some crackers, 
along with a delicious stew^ of gi-een gourds, I retired, 
and the next mornins: awoke feelino^ mucli refreslied 
and ready for iiny demands the day might bring. 

That afternoon the portion of our command having 
charge of the cattle overtook us. During the follow- 
ing night a heavy rain fell, which caused a sudden 
rise in the small river, making its current very sw^ift. 
This made it very difficult to get our pontoons down 
so as to cross. During the next morning, after this 
was accomplished, and a part of the command was 
safely over, the quivering bridge, while it was filled 
from one end to the other with frightened cattle that 
were crowding and horning each other, broke in two 
near the center and instantly went to pieces. The 
boats, being secured by strong hawsers, swung around 
against either bank, but the cattle and other portions 
of the bridge, in a great tangle of heads, horns, string- 
ers, and planks, were all quickly swept down the 
swollen stream. Many of the cattle were drowned, 
and others had their legs broken, the steep clay banks, 
made slippery by the late rains, making it difficult 
for any of them to get out. 

It required several hours to gather up the bridge 
material and get the pontoon in condition to cross on. 
In the meantime we got a good supply of fresh beef 
by butdiering the broken-legged steers, which was 



162 ON WHEELS. 

the first we had out of the drove we brought out with 
us from Cairo. The reason of this was that at that 
sta^e of the war the railroads over which Sherman's 
supplies were carried were being constantly torn up 
by the enemy, so that it was often exceedingly diffi- 
cult for him to obtain needed provisions for his forces. 
Hence these four-footed, self transporting supplies 
were not to be used until the very last moment, or in 
a case like the one mentioned, where the cattle were 
disabled from traveling. 

After crossing to the south bank of the Elk Kiver 
we headed for Athens, Ahi., arriving tliere the next 
day about 10 A. m. The following morning reveille 
sounded early, and we were soon off trudging along in 
tlie red mire (the soil being red in that region) toward 
Huntsville, Ala., arriving at that pretty town with its 
shaded streets and line large spring the next day 
about 11 A. M. There we remained several days re- 
oro;ai)izintr the command, for the time had now ex- 
pirod for which the Fifteenth Illinois Infantry and 
our regiment, the Fourteenth, had enlisted. These 
regiments were so much reduced in numbers from 
long and hard service, and from the failure of many 
of the men to reenlist, that they were now consol- 
idated and were called the Veteran Battalion of the 
Fourteenth and Fifteenth Illinois Yolunteers. My 
company letter was now changed from K to F, by 
which the new company, formed from the remnants 
of Companies I, C, and K, was known. 

These changes were not at all agreeable to me, for 
they took from me several of my particular chums, 
who returned to their homes, among them big Dan, 



OUR MARCH TO ROME, GEORGIA. 163 

the color sergeant ; besides, it left me with but two of 
the old mess and Jack, our cook, and so we had to 
organize a new mess. Also, there being a surplus of 
officers, some changes were made among them, which 
was, to say the least, unpleasant. The most prominent 
change among officials was that of Colonel Rodgers, 
of the Fifteenth. Being senior and ranking officer, 
lie was given command of oar battalion, so we had to 
part wdth gallant Colonel Hall of our regiment. 
Our first lieutenant, John Kirkman, who commanded 
our company, went home, and First Lieutenant 
Thomas A. "Weisner, of Company D, was placed in 
charge of our new company. This change in our 
regimental and company officers we regretted simply 
because of the high esteem in which we held those 
taken from us. But we soon formed a strong attach- 
ment for our new officers, w^ho w^ere brave, kind- 
hearted, and generous men. 

When our old comrades came to leave we found it 
hard to part with them, and my feelings were much 
wa'ought upon when I came to say " good-bye " to 
them, and especially so when I took big Dan's brawny 
hand in mine for the last time, and gave him a mes- 
sage to bear to the " dear ones at home." 

At Huntsville I met with another sore trial. My 
old school and seat mate, Hardin Abrams, was taken 
sick with a fever, and we had to leave h\m there in a 
hospital, and I was separated from him during the 
remainder of my army life. 

Thus my readers will see that the vicissitudes of 
army life brought many changes in companionship, 
often severing the strongest tics of friendships, which 



1G4 ON WHEELS. 

would naturally leave one, especially a boy so young 
as I, with feelings of lingering loneliness and sadness. 

We remained at Huntsville but two or three days, 
when we broke camp and marched southwest to De- 
catur, Ala. Here we met a small force of Confeder- 
ates, which we soon dislodged. Crossing the Tennes- 
see Kiver on pontoons, we started southeast through 
the mountains of northern Alabama toward Eome, 
Ga., a distance of one hundred and twenty -five miles, 
which, considering the heavy rains that were falling, 
and the condition of the roads, was accomplished in a 
remarkably short time. 

Several nights during this forced march we did not 
go into camp until after midnight. This caused tiie 
soldiers to enter strong complaints against General 
Blair. On these wearisome night marches we were 
all too tired and jaded to talk much, and, except these 
occasional outbursts of complaint, some of them 
in emphatic and inelegant language, nothing was 
heard save the steady slushing tramp and clattering 
sound of the marching column, and an occasional 
sharp command to close up. But on we pressed 
until we reached our destinatiim, the city of Rome, 
which we found in possession of the Union troops. 




CHAPTER XVIII. 
Guarding Hailroad in Sherman's Rear. 

fHE Confederates, who had evacuated Rome but 
a short time before we arrived there, had tlirown 
quantities of their stores into the Coosa River, 
and we found the Union troops engaged in fishing 
them out. As soon as we had halted and stacked 
arms we joined them in the sport. Being fond of the 
water, this was just to mj liking, and in one of my 
dives I came up with a ten-pound caddy of good to- 
bacco, a trophy which w^as much prized by those of 
my company wlio were users of the weed. 

AVe remained at Rome but one night, wlien we 
broke camp and continued our march southeast 
through Kingston and on to Etowah, Ga., situated on 
the nortli bank of the Etowah River. Arriving there 
June 6, 1864, we found both wagon and railroad 
bridge destroyed. "We were now in the immediate 
rear of the army of General Sherman, who was 
pressing his way onward to the siege and capture 
of Atlanta, the enemy sharply contesting every foot 
of ground. 

We remained at Etowah two days, when, crossing 
the river on canvas pontoons, we proceeded south- 
ward through the Altoona Mountains to join Slier- 



IG6 ON WHEELS. 

man's forces, whose cannon we conld hear thundering 
around Ackworth, twelve miles away to the south 
of us. 

While at Etowah we camped on tlie river bank in 
close proximity to a graveyard. The lirst night we 
were there we had a very lieavy thunderstorm, the 
rain coming down in perfect torrents. About mid- 
night, tlie ground being flooded to a depth of Ave or 
six inches, I awoke to find the water running in one 
of my ears, which would have occurred sooner but 
for the fact that my knapsack pillow liad kept my 
liead above the rising tide. Assuming a sitting posi- 
tion, I took a survey of the situation by nature's own 
majestic electric light, which at times was so vivid as 
almost to blind me ; and having during the day noticed 
near the center of the cemeteiy a large tombstone, 
which, unlike its upright comrades, lay flat npon its 
six brick pillars some eighteen inches above the 
ground, I concluded tliis would make tlie dryest bed 
I could find. I gathered up my belongings, and by 
the aid of the flashing lightning succeeded in making 
my way out through the briers to the tombstone, 
though not without several tumbles on the way. I 
soon folded my water-soaked w^oolen blanket double 
and spread it on the marble couch, placed my knap- 
sack at the head for a pillow, lay down and covered 
myself u]3 head and ears with my rubber blanket, 
and, although a perfect deluge of water was falling, 
I was soon oblivious to the flood, which by this time 
gave this city of the dead the appearance of a small 
lake dotted over with white sails. On awaking the 
next morning, not having changed my position after 



GUARDING RAILROAD IN SHERMAN'S REAR. 1G7 

lying down, I found upon my side which was next to 
tlie slab impressions of its name, dates, and poetry. It 
certainly proved the hardest bed I ever tried, and is 
the only one I slept on during the service which I am 
positive I could find now just where I left it. 

On the 8th of June our command reached the little 
station of Altoona, which is situated at the foot of the 
Altoona Mountains at the southeast end of the fa- 
mous Altoona Pass. Our brigade, the Second of the 
Fourth Division, Seventeenth Army Corps, number- 
ing fifteen hundred men, was detached and set to 
work fortifying the pass as a secondary base of sup- 
plies, and I suppose as a place to fall back to in case 
of the defeat of our main army, the booming of 
whose artillery around Big Shanty, some twelve miles 
south, we could now hear. 

Our camp was situated on the top of the mountain 
at the south side of the pass. Here we had an un- 
obstructed view across the broken country to Kenne- 
saw Mountain, eighteen miles southeast of us, where 
the Confederate forces under General Johnston were 
fortified. Our forces had crowded close up to the 
base of Kennesaw Mountain, and that niglit, when on 
picket duty, I could see their fuse shells in aerial 
flight, making their long and graceful curves from 
the base to the summit of old Kennesaw. 

That day, the 11th of June, the first railroad train 
came thundering through the pass, the engineer and 
fireman making all the noise they possibly could with 
bell and whistle, and being greeted with such ringing 
shouts and cheers as only jubilant soldiers can give. 
This train was loaded with provisions, and, strange as 



168 ON WHEELS. 

it seemed to us, Lad crossed tlie Etowah River on a 
new bridge, w^here on the Sth, but three days previ- 
ous, w^e were compelled to cross on pontoons, and at 
which time there were no signs of a bridge but the 
old stone abutments. 

We were kept busj patrolling the railroad, guarding 
supplies, and building fortifications around Altoona 
during the last weeks of June and the early part of 
July. On the 14th of June the Confederate General 
Polk was killed by a shell from one of the Union guns 
— the same bishop-general who had retreated before us 
as we entered Meridian, Miss., a few months previous. 

On the 27th of Juno the great assault on Kenne- 
saw was made. The wounded from this engagement 
were sent back for us to care for, and came by the 
train load. I was detailed among others, and worked 
three days and nights helping put up hospital tents, 
make beds, and remove the wounded from the cars to 
them. These poor wounded men were torn up in all 
conceivable shapes, and their sufferings were inde- 
scribable. Many of them had had their limbs ampu- 
tated at the field hospital before being placed on the 
cars, and as w^e carried them out some of them would 
cry with pain and bemoan the loss of their limbs, 
while others, more gritty, would laugh and joke as 
if they considered it a pleasure to lose a limb in de- 
fending the old flag. I remember one little fellow 
especially who was about my age. He had been shot 
in the head, an ounce ball having struck him in the 
right eye and passed out back of his ear. The second 
day after he was shot he was up and around watching 
us work. 



GUARDING RAILROAD IN SHERMAN'S REAR. 169 

The first day we were at this worlv a train load of 
wounded came in before we had the tents ready for 
them, and, as the train was in a hurry to return to the 
front for more, we carried the wounded off and placed 
them on the ground, and made them as comfortable as 
possible in tlie gracious shade of the pine and chestnut 
trees. While we were getting the tents up and the 
wounded into them a violent tliunderstorm came up, 
and in some way one poor fellow was overlooked and 
left out in the storm. When taken out of the cars he 
was placed at the root of a tree on a soft cushion of 
leaves found in quite a large hole about six inches 
deep. lie had been shot through the body, which 
left his back quite weak, and when carried out he was 
left sitting up against the tree for support ; but in 
some way he fell over into the hole tilled with water 
from the storm, and, being too weak to raise himself 
up, was drowned in this shallow pool. We placed 
him in a suitable grave lined with pine boughs, his 
body wrapped in his blanket, covered it with more of 
the evergreen boughs — fit emblems of immortality — 
and after filling up the grave penciled his name, com- 
pany, and regiment on a piece of cracker box, and 
placed it in proper position for a head-board. Such 
was the common method of burial in such cases. In- 
deed, during all the time I was in the service I never 
saw anyone buried in a coffin. I will not attempt to 
describe the work of the surgeons there, with their 
merciless knives, saws, and probes, which I witnessed. 
The thought of it makes me shudder yet. But I saw 
two ministering angels moving around among the 
wounded tenderly, whom I remember with delight. 



170 ON WHEELS. 

These were two women in clean, bright calico dresses, 
quickly passing from cot to cot with white bandages, 
cups of warm soup, and tins of lemonade ; who, with 
warm, loyal hearts full of good cheer and loving sym- 
pathy, did far more toward reviving the spirits and 
inspiring the courage of the wounded than the sur- 
geons with all their skill and professional imple- 
ments. 

After we were relieved from this hospital work I 
was detailed with others at one time to make an abattis 
down the mountain side in front of our rifle-pits. For 
this purpose acres and acres of timber were cut down 
as follows : Beginning at the lower line of the abattis 
with hundreds of axes, we would cut the trees half off on 
the upper side, and thus work our way up the moun- 
tain side until we reached the long line of rifle-pits; 
tliere we would cut the trees entirely off, felling them 
against those just below them, which in turn would 
fall against others still below them, and so on until 
the whole body of timber, acres in extent, would go 
down with a perfect crash as suddenly as if struck 
by the swoop of a cyclone, making a perfect tangle. 
This done, we would then go down the mountain to 
the lower edge of the abattis and work our way up 
again to the rifle-pits, this time sharpening all the 
brandies of the trees. When completed this made a 
very formidable obstruction to an advancing foe. 

On the 3d of July the Confederates relinquished 
their grip on Kennesaw, evacuated that natural strong- 
liold, and also evacuated Marietta, and retreated to 
the south, taking a new position near the Chattahoo- 
chee River, This weakening of the Johnnies made 



lis feel jubilant, and formed a very inspiriting topic 
of conversation for the Fourth of July. 

The morning of the 4th, as I stood on the depot 
platform among a group of comrades, a train load of 
soldiers came in from the I^orth. These were men 
returning from veteran fnrloiigh, and among them 
was my cousin, John K. White, of the Forty -first 
Illinois Infantry. He came direct from ^N^aples, 111., 
where my parents were living. He knew I was sta- 
tioned at Altoona Pass, but I did not know where he 
was. Although he was a man grown and I but a 
mere lad, yet we were always more like brothers than 
cousins, and when we met that day he gave me a hug 
tJiat nearly broke my ribs. It id needless to say that 
we had a most deliij^htful visit durino^ the day. He 
brought me many pleasant messages from dear ones 
as well as all the home news, while I gave him an ac- 
count of my experiences since we separated at Yicks- 
burg. The next day he went on to his regiment, 
which belonged to our division. 

On the 6tli or Ttli of July we broke camp at Al- 
toona, boarded a train, and went to Marietta. This 
pretty little town, nestled in the lap of old Kennesaw, 
with its shaded streets, brick stores, good churches, 
and neat dwellings, was one of the prettiest I saw any- 
where in the South. ^Yo arrived there that afternoon, 
and theeveningwaseinployed inputting upourshelters. 

The first thing I did the next morning after break- 
fast was to climb to the top of the mountain. It was 
a beautiful clear morning. As I ascended in company 
with several of my comrades we noticed that there 
^vas scarcely a square yard of ground but had been 



172 ON WHEELS. 

torn and plowed up with shells from the Union guns, 
thousands of fragments of which were scattered 
around over the ground, though some had never ex- 
ploded. Trees were riddled and full of boles and 
dead boughs hung from every tree top. In some in- 
stances whole tree tops had been cut off by shot from 
our artillery. Behind nearly every log, stump, tree, 
and rock were great piles of paper from cartridges the 
Johnnies had bitten off. 

Arriving at the summit, I climbed the very tallest 
tree I could find, and from its topmost branch cut a 
twig out of which to make a pen holder as a memento 
of the noted place. While on this lofty perch I en- 
joyed a beautiful view of the surrounding country, 
and off to the southeast, six or seven miles, I could 
make out the positions of the Union and Confederate 
forces by the smoke from their camp fires. 

On the 10th I was detailed, witli some fifty others, 
to bury the dead on the right of Little Kennesaw, 
about four miles distant. These were the Confederate 
slain, and had lain there in the summer sun and rains 
but partially covered ever since the assault on the 27th 
of June. The weather was exceedingly hot, and the 
piece of ground over whicli the dead were scattered 
was but about four or five acres in extent. There we 
found some two hundred of the slain, while millions 
of green flies swarmed about and on the rank black- 
berry bushes, now loaded with ripe fruit, but which 
we dared not eat. The stifling heat and sickening 
odor rendered the place and work almost unendurable. 
Pen cannot describe the ghastly sights which there 
met our eyes — too ghastly and sickening to attempt a 



GUARDING RAILROAD IN SHERMAN'S REAR. 173 

portrayal. It required the best part of two days in 
which to accomplisli this disagreeable task. No liead- 
boards could be placed at the graves to mark tliem, 
and no doubt many homes in the South mourned the 
death of these dear ones, never knowing of their place 
of burial. 

Of the many I assisted in burying the case of one 
young ma'^ may claim special mention. His grave 1 
might have marked if I had had the material with 
which to do it, for I obtained his name from a soiled 
letter which I took from his side pocket. It was a 
bright, cheery missive, full of expressions of love 
and words of encouragement from his betrothed. In 
it she had inclosed a small piece of pretty linsey which 
she had woven with her own hands for a new dress 
for herself. As we buried this young man I said, 
*' Poor girl, poor boy ! " and the cruelties of war 
seemed more bitter than ever. 

The few days we were at Marietta we had 
rather an easy time of it. Wlien off duty, in com- 
pany witli my cousin, Royal Moore, of Company I, 
One Hundred and Twenty-ninth Illinois Infantry, I 
engaged in the jewelry business. Indeed, we did 
quite a thriving business, manufacturing and selling 
and trading rings to the native whites and to the col- 
ored people. These rings we made out of metal per- 
cussion caps which we picked up on the mountain. 
These metal tubes were about the size and shape of a 
number ten or twelve cartridge such as is now used in 
shotguns. They were thicker, however, and had a 
thread cut around the outside of them by which they 
could be screwed into the shell, and which held them 



174 . ON WHEELS. 

securely in place. These we contrived to unscrew 
with our bayonets. The metal of wliicli tliej were 
made seemed to be a composition of copper and brass, 
and when rubbed up was about the color of Guinea 
gold. Out of these metal caps we would cut and 
make the rings with a broken saw and a file, and when 
made would brighten them up with a piece of blue 
woolen goods. When thus completed they were quite 
bright and attractive, and enabled us to get fancy war 
prices for them in cash, pies, milk, sweet potatoes, etc. 
But notwithstanding the business proved quite re- 
munerative, I should not want to engage in it again 
unless I could get the enemy to unscrew the danger- 
ous percussion caps from the unexploded shells. 

While at Marietta we were ordered out early one 
morning to go to Resaca, Ga., by train to intercept 
Wheeler's cavalry, which was momentarily expected 
to strike the railroad at that point. We arrived about 
noon that day, and for two days scouted through the 
suri'ounding country, and finding no trace of them 
we returned to Marietta, arriving at camp about 10 p. m. 

We had left a few sick and Negroes in charge of the 
camp, Jack among them, whom we soon awakened 
and asked if he had anything for us to eat, having 
eaten nothing since breakfast. Jack replied ; " Ise 
got nuffin 'ceptin' coflPcc an' bacon, but if sum ob de 
mess starts a fire I'll see if I can't fin' snffin'." This 
was agreed to, and off he started, and in about half an 
hour returned carrying in his arms two dozen loaves 
of steaming hot baker's bread, wliicli with our coffee 
and bacon made us a relishable snpper. But Jack 
Mould never tell ns where he obtained the bread. 



GUARDING RAILROAD IN SHERMAN'S REAR. 175 

always replying when asked about it: "Don' ax Jack 
dat question. Jes ax if dar is any rao' wliar dat come 
from." 

One day while encamped at Marietta General John 
M. Palmer, our first colonel, made us a visit, and the 
hour among his old comrades was very pleasantly spent 
in reminiscences of previous campaigns. This was the 
last time we saw him during the war. Also it was 
while we were encamped here that General McPher- 
son, our old corps commander, was killed, on July 22d, 
near Atlanta. Tlie death of this gallant and greatly 
beloved officer cast a gloom over the whole army. 
How strange that our noble corps commander, who 
led us on the Meridian raid, and General Polk, who 
commanded the Confederate forces at the place at 
that time, had within a few days both fallen on Georgia 
soil and 0:1 battlefields but a few miles apart! 
12 




CHAPTER XIX. 

Busy Behind Siiekman. 

BOUT August 1 we were ordered back to Ack- 
wortli to guard the railroad over which Sher- 
man was getting liis supphes. We went bj 
train, and when we arrived we took quarters in the 
depot and abandoned storehouses. Here we were 
kept on the go night and day, scouting and patrolling 
the railroad to prevent its being torn np or trains 
tlirown off by the Johnnies. 

This work was both arduous and dangerous, for the 
enemy seemed determined to capture or ditch all 
trains possible. The road in this section runs through 
a rough, broken country, which was then covered with 
brush and timber close up to the track, so that we 
were in constant danger of being ambushed as we 
patrolled it in small squads. Our beat was two and 
a half miles north to Altoona Creek Block House, and 
two and a half miles south to the point where we 
struck the northern line of the beat of the guard at 
Moon Station. It was fortunate for us that the ene- 
my was more intent on injuring the railroad track 
and derailing trains than in firing at us. We were 
required to inspect the track carefully to see that the 
rails and everything were in place, and as we passed 



BUSY BEHIND SHERMAN. 177 

along many briglit muoiiliglit nights, especially when 
outside of onr picket lines, we were wholly at tlie 
mercy of any lurking foe that might be lying in am- 
bush. 

Several times while we were stationed at Ackworth, 
during the month of August, trains were thrown off 
the track near the town, train guards were captured, 
and what provisions were wanted by the enemy were 
taken, the foe making good his escape before any 
force from town could reach the point of attack. 
Sometimes a guard would pass along entirely un- 
molested but a short time before a train would be 
wrecked, although the Johnnies must have ])een con- 
cealed in the thick brush beside the track as they 
passed. 

One of their methods of throwing trains from the 
track was by the use of an iron shoe and a wooden 
wedge. One squad, consisting of Sergeant Thomas 
Cunningham and Privates Frank Durant, Charles 
Paine, Charles Harper, William and Peter Gross, 
and myself, all members of the same company, once 
captured an outfit of this kind. That day we started 
outimmediately after an early breakfast supplied wiih 
a full day's rations. We were to relieve a squad in 
patrolling the road south of us toward Moon Station, 
and expected to meet them near the picket lines 
coming in to be relieved. Failing in this, suspecting 
something might be wrong, we continued on down 
the track, keeping a sharp lookout for the guards or a 
derailed train. Not seeing either, we did not halt un- 
til we reached the point where we should meet the 
guards from Moon Station. This was at the mouth 



178 ON WHEELS. 

of a deep cut where the road ran tliroiigh a liill mid- 
way between the latter station and Ackworth. At 
this point, the northern extremity of the cut, the track 
comes ont on a liigh roadbed, on the west side some 
forty or fifty feet high and very steep, while on the 
opposite side it was only fonr or five feet down to 
the level of the woodland, which was covered with a 
heavy growth of timber and brush close up to the 
roadbed. Xear the north end of this cut there was 
quite a curve in the track, so that engineers on north- 
bound trains could not see the end of the cut until 
within a few yards of it. This made it a very danger- 
ous place, and one where we always expected trouble. 
Indeed, we sometimes kept a special squad of men 
there to watch and guard it. 

IS^ot finding the squad we expected and had gone to 
relieve, and hearing no response to our calls, and see- 
ing nothing of the guard from Moon Station, after a 
brief consultation, no train being in hearing distance. 
Sergeant Cunningham decided we had better go to 
the south end of the cut and see if we could get any 
information from some natives who occupied a log hut 
which stood there, and then hasten back before any 
train should come along. 

From a woman at this house we learned that no 
guards had been seen there since the evening before, 
that some Confederates had been there during the 
night, and that near daylight she had heard some 
firing and supposed the guards had been driven off or 
had gone to Moon Station for assistance. We then 
returned to the north end of the cut to secrete our- 
selves in the brush to guard the track until we should 



BC^SY BEHIND SHERMAN. 179 

be relieved. After returning we halted on tlie track 
a few moments while discussing the situation. The 
sergeant then ordered lis to take a position just east 
of the track in the brush, and as we proceeded to ex- 
ecute tlie order we heard a great rustling and crashing 
out in the thick brush not more than twenty feet from 
where we had been standing. This commotion was 
made by a squad of Johnnies who were there await, 
ing an opportunity to wreck a train. There were 
seven or eight of them, and our squad immediately 
fired at them, but they all escaped. We chased them 
for about a quarter of a mile, exchanging shots as we 
went, but decided it would be useless, in view of the 
density of the forest, to pursue them farther, and re- 
turned and took a position near the railroad track, 
secluded in the thicket. From the position these 
Johnnies occupied it is evident that each one of them 
might have picked his man and shot us down. 

Soon after taking our position one of our boys 
found the iron shoe and the wooden wedge referred 
to secreted under some leaves. The iron shoe was 
made out of an old plowshare, having a groove in it 
so as to catch the flange of a car wheel and run it upon 
and over the rail. The wooden wedge was about 
eighteen inches long and four inches thick at the large 
end, and both had clamps with which to fasten them 
to the rails. Tlie two were designed to be used on 
rails opposite each other, and could not have failed to 
accomplish their work. 

Soon after finding these a train of twenty-five box 
cars came through the cut. The train was loaded 
with soldiers. Every car, both inside and on top, was 



180 ON WHEELS. 

full. Desiring to send some word into camp, we 
waved them down, and while lialtL-d we showed the 
trainmen these instruments of death. Their grati- 
tude was unbounded for this timely discovery, wliich, 
they felt, had in all probability saved them from a 
horrible death. The shoe and wedge Avere sent to 
General Sherman, and our squad was officially com- 
plimented for our prompt action and sound judg- 
ment in guarding the dangerous position until re- 
lieved. 

One dark night during the time we were encamped 
at Ackwortli I was detailed, with some others, to 
drive the Johnnies from a train they had captured 
about a mile below town. When we reached the ti-ain 
we found that the Johnnies, after ca])turing tlie train, 
which was loaded with army stores, not being able to 
carry prisoners with them, held our men captive only 
while they were loading their horses with provisions, 
and then released them and rode off in the darkness 
with their booty. 

At another time, while patrolling about a mile 
north of Ackwortli, one day about noon we met a 
train going south which the Johnnies had tried to 
capture, but failed in the attempt. The train slowed 
up and the men told us of their encounter. On our 
way to the place we met a brakeman who had jumped 
from the train when the Johnnies were on the track 
trying to signal it to stop. He had been captured 
and every shred of clothing taken from him except- 
ing a pair of white cotton drawers, and when we met 
liim, trudging along bareheaded and in his tender 
bare feet over the hot road, he was decidedly the 



BUST BEHIND SHERMAN. 181 

wratliiest railroader I ever saw. The Johnnies had 
also relieved liini of a good watch and all his nionev, 
and the language he was using about them would be 
out of place here. lie said thej were not satisfied 
with what they had taken from him, but cursed him 
for not having on more clothing, as they had not ob- 
tained enough to go aronnd. 

While here we had flour issued to us instead of 
hard-tack. This we at first used in biscuits baked in 
Dutch ovens, but we soon discovered that we had good 
bakers in our battalion, and further investigation re- 
vealed the fact that we also had masons and tinners. 
Ascertaining this, it was but a few days until a brick 
building was torn down and the brick used in the 
construction of bake ovens and its tin roof converted 
into large bread pans. Then such baker's bread as we 
had issued to us I have never seen excelled. 

Daring the first week in September Companies A 
and B of our battalion were ordered and marched to 
Big Shanty, ten miles south of Ackworth, to guard 
the railroad at that point ; and our company, F, at the 
same time was ordered and w^ent five miles south to 
Moon Station. 

At Moon Station it so happened that my company 
relieved the company of which my cousin, John 
White, was a member — the cousin who spent the 
Fourth of July with me at Altoona Pass. When we 
relieved them my cousin's mess turned the shanty 
they occupied over to our mess together with its fur- 
niture. This was quite a favor to us, for we had 
a good deal of rainy weather while we were there. 
The shanty was a good one, having a board roof, good 



182 ON WHEELS. 

beds, and dry bedding, and, Avitli the sides inclosed 
Avith onr rubber blankets, we could keep dry despite 
the hardest rains. 

Moon Station was a wood and water station mid- 
way between Altoona Pass and the Kennesaw Moun- 
tain, and was five miles south of Ackworth and five 
miles north of Big Slumty. It was guarded by a rail 
stockade having between forty and fifty loopholes. 
The garrison at this time comprised our company, 
numbering, all told, eighty officers and men and four 
Negro cooks. 

During the month of September here, as previously 
at Ackworth, we were kept busy as beavers scouting 
and patrolling the railroad to prevent the enemy from 
ditching the trains and cutting the telegraph wires. 

On one occasion I was called out in the night to go 
with a squad to the relief of a train that had been 
ditched near Big Shanty. Arriving at the scene of 
disaster, we found the engine and five cars in the 
ditch, and that all the trainmen had been captured 
and taken off but the engineer, and he was under his 
engine with a broken leg. He told us that when he 
saw the obstruction on the track, and knew his engine 
must go off, he threw his gold watch into the brush 
and jumped. While some dug him out others searched 
for his watch with torches, but failed to find it. 

On another occasion I was called out eai'ly one 
morning, before the sun was up, to go to the relief of 
a captured train. This one was within a half mile of 
the one just mentioned. When we reached the train 
we found it liad not been thrown from the track, but 
had been held up by an obstruction on the road, and 



BUSY BEHIND SHERMAK 183 

that after tlie Confederate cavalry had captured all on 
board, and loaded their horses down with provisions, 
they liad set tlie long train of box cars on lire. When 
we arrived there was nothing left of the train and its 
cargo but the iron, and along the middle of the track 
great piles of burning corn, oats, flour, beans, and coffee. 

Toward tlie last of September the Johnnies grew 
bolder, at times riding up in squads and firing on our 
pickets, which, on account of our small numbers, 
were posted not more than tw'oor three liundred yards 
from the stockade. One afternoon twelve of ti»em, 
dressed in blue nniform, rode np and fired on an out- 
post south of the stockade, and made good their es- 
cape before our pickets knew who they were. 

Matters kept growing worse with us until the 
2d of October. That day Orderly Sergeant Ben 
Burch and a small squad of men, when returning 
from Big Shanty \vith a wagon load of provisions, 
were captured by Confederate cavalry. General 
Thomas's wagon train, several miles in length and 
well guai'ded, was passing north at the time, and, be- 
ing between it and the railroad, this cavalry squad, 
evidently fearful lest they could not cut through the 
moving train encumbered with prisoners, held their 
captives but a short time and then released them, tell- 
ing them they would call for them tlie next day. 

Pat Woods, the Irish boy who was so suddenly 
turned around on the battlefield in Mississippi by a 
cannon ball, was in this captured squad, and was shot 
through the right wrist for talking sharpl}^ to one of 
the guards, and when shot he seemed about as much 
surprised as he was when the cannon ball spun him 



184 ON WHEELS. 

around, and said to tlie guard, " And sure, what did 
ye go and do that for ? " Indeed, he kept up his im- 
pertinent renuii-ks until the guards would probably 
have killed him had not Sergeant Burch interfered 
and put a stop to his talk. Pat was a brave boy, and 
after the close of the Civil AVar served with credit in the 
regular army, and died while in that service in the "West. 

That afternoon a squad of fifteen or sixteen of us, 
while out reconnoitering in the dii-ection of Big 
Shanty, where we had heard some firing, came across 
Sergeant Bui'ch and the men who had been ca})tured 
with him. . The sergeant deeming it dangerous to 
proceed further, we returned to camp and made our 
report. On our way in I bound Pat's wrist with my 
large red silk handkerchief which my mother presented 
to me the day I left home. 

The evening of that day I was detailed for picket 
duty. It was very diirk and rained nearly all night. 
My post was east from the stockade. The reserve 
were posted in some brush and timber on the west 
side of a small field, while I was near the center of 
the field behind a large stump. Crouched behind this 
stump under my rubber blanket from midnight until 
2 A. M., by the aid of the frequent bright flashes of 
lightning I saw several squads of Confederates riding 
north on a road not over one hundred yards east of 
my position, but I deemed it unwise to fire at them. 
The next morning, after reaching camp, I found 
that others had seen some of the enemy during the 
night. This gave us no small degree of anxiety as to 
what the Johnnies had in view\ At the time we sup- 
posed that Sherman's whole army was between us and 



BUSY BEHIND SHERMAN. 185 

the Confederate arniv, and tliat those whom we saw 
during the night were only some of Hood's cavalry 
sent out to damage the railroads and gather supplies. 
In reality, however, Ilood had now started for Ten- 
nessee, and w^as running his whole army of tliirty-iive 
thousand men around north of Sherman to demolish 
the railroad track between Altoona Pass and Kenne- 
saw Mountain, and to capture Sherman's base of sup- 
plies at Altoona Pass, some ten miles north of us, where 
he had collected the stores for his march to the sea. 

Hood's move on the railroad at this time was un- 
doubtedly a conjplete surprise to General Sherman, 
for at the time there were no Federal troops in the 
valley from Kennesaw to Altoona, a distance of some 
eighteen or nineteen miles, except our Veteran Bat- 
talion, six companies, numbering but between four 
and five hundred officers and men, while Altoona 
Pass at the time was garrisoned by only eight hun- 
dred and ninety officers and men. Companies A and 
B of our battalion, commanded by Captain Gillespie, 
were stationed at Big Shanty, the lii'st station north 
of Kennesaw. Three other companies were at Ack- 
worth, the first station south of Altoona, under com- 
mand of Captain Crinion, I think. Our own company, 
F, numbering eighty-four officers and men, com- 
manded by Captain Thomas A. Weisner, was at Moon 
Station, about midway between Big Shanty and Ack- 
worth, near the center of the valley. 

Such was the situation on the memorable morning 
of October 3, when our captain received this remark- 
able order : " Hold on as long as possible, and then 
surrender yourself and njen on the best terms possible.'* 



CHAPTER XX. 

Battle of Moon Station and Captl're. 

S the morning advanced lieavj nuisketrj firing 
was heard in the vicinity of Big Shanty. From 
this we were satisfied that tronble was brewing, 
but could not understand whr.t it was. A train going 
south that morning with army stores was captured 
about two miles south of us, and our guards, who had 
skirted the timber along the track on their way to it, 
came near being captured as they approached. 

The same day, between 1 and 2 p. m., a train load of 
cattle, heavily guarded, went south. This was soon 
followed by a train of army supplies. This latter 
train, however, returned in a short time, and as it 
backed into Moon Station we were informed tliat the 
cattle train had been captured and that this one had 
barely escaped the same fate, and as it could not get 
througli to Big Shanty it would be taken back to Al- 
toona Pass and there wait for orders. The cattle train 
had been captured less than a mile south of our post, 
and soon we heard the most terrible bellowing I ever 
listened to. The Johnnies had set fire to tlie train, 
which had on board not less than three hundred head 
of cattle, all of which were bui-ned. 

At Moon Station the railroad ran north and south 



BATTLE OF MOON STATION AND CAPTURE. 187 

between two gently sloping hills. The track was on 
an embankment some five feet high. Our rude stock- 
ade stood on the east side of the railroad about fifty 
yards up the slope from the track, and was made out 
of chestnut rails, stood on end, with loopholes notched 
in them about four feet above the bottom of a ditch 
that was two feet deep and which ran around just inside 
the stockade. About twenty-five yards farther up the 
hill were our shanties. At the station there were no 
buildings except a log house -svhich stood a little to 
the north and front of the stockade and about half way 
between it and the railroad east of the track, and a 
long woodshed and a large water tank which stood 
across the track almost opposite it. Both hillsides 
had been pretty well cleared of timber, yet on the 
west of the railroad a few scattering trees, stumps, 
and small patches of brush still remained. Some 
two hundred yards south of the stockade the road 
ran through a deep cut in a hill which was covered 
with a dense growth of brush and timber. At the 
northern end of this cut began the high grade before 
mentioned, which continued past the station. After 
the train referred to backed in from the south, about 
2 p. M., no more patrols were sent out, and those that 
were out were held in the quarters as fast as they 
came in. The pickets, under command of Lieutenant 
Kieffer, were instructed when attacked to hold their 
posts as long as possible and then retreat to the stock- 
ade. 

Every preparation for battle was made. A heavy 
square wooden box containing one thousand rounds of 
cartridges was cariied into and placed near the center 



188 ON WHEELS. 

of the stockade, and opened so as to be of easy access 
to our men as supplies in onr cartridge boxes sliould 
give out. Our Enfield rifles were carefully examined, 
put in order, loaded, and fresli caps put on. 

"We were now expecting the enemy to attack us at 
any moment. Our orders were to run for the stockade 
as soon as the pickets were driven in, and as far as pos- 
sible to cover their retreat. As for myself, I was de- 
termined on getting into the stockade as quickly as 
anyone after we should learn the pickets were falh'ng 
back. Knowing there were but a little over half 
enough loopholes for the company, I resolved, if pos- 
sible, to have one of them, and to have one on the 
side next to the railroad if I could get it. With this 
in view I early strapped on my cartridge box, and held 
to my gun all the afternoon. 

Our pickets were first fired upon about 2 r. m., and 
later at different times during the afternoon ; but they 
held their ground until near dark. My mess, as did 
nearly all others that evening, took our guns with us 
when we went to supper. Our table, made of rough 
boards supported by stakes driven in the ground, stood 
in the alley back of our quarters. Between five and six 
o'clock in the evening, as we were standing around a half 
finished supper, with our guns leaning against the table 
by our sides, suddenly " wiiiz," " bang," " zip," rang 
the guns on the opposite hilltops, volley after volley. 
Our pickets, being attacked in force, were returning 
the fire and retreating down the hill toward the stock- 
ade at the top of their speed. Instantly knives, forks, 
cups, and spoons were dropped, and, seizing our guns, 
we made a wild rush for the stockade. I was among the 



BATTLE OF MOON STATION AND CAPTURE. 189 

first to enter, and never halted until my gwn was run 
tliroiigli a loophole near tlje center of the side of tlio 
stockade next to the raih'oad. Those of us who were 
in the quarters when the firing began had barely 
entered the stockade when the enemy opened on us 
from the opposite hilltop. Tlieir first fire went wild, 
the balls whistling and singing at least thirty feet above 
our heads. But their guns were soon depressed to the 
right range, and then '^ spat," " spat," " thud," " thud," 
" thud," the leaden liail showered against the stockade 
and the clay embankment wdiich was thrown up 
against it on the outside, causing the splinters to fly 
from the one and the mud from the other. I had 
barely gotten my rifle run through the loopliole 
when those to my right and left began to fire. Just 
then an old soldier, who was evidently vexed at not 
getting a loophole, gave my i-iglit arm a vigorous jerk 
and yelled out : " Shoot, you young rascal, or give me 
that hole." 

I was braced to receive tlie wicked kick of my 
gun and never turned, but hallooed back at the top 
of my voice : " I'll not give up this hole nor fire my 
gun until I see somebody to shoot at." 

Just then a Johnnie broke cover from behind a 
tree, and, drawing a careful bead on him, I fired and 
quickly handed my gun back and received a loaded 
one in exchange. This kind of work was going on 
all around me, and our fire was so rapid and deadly 
that the enemy on the opposite hill where the attack 
first began soon retired behind the slope to devise 
some better way of approach on the stockade. 

After our foe had retired from in front of mv side 



190 ON WHEELS. 

of the stockade, upon which all the first attack was 
made, with almost breathless suspense, and with ejes 
kindled with the fire of battle, we watched through 
the loopholes for his next appearance. But four or 
five minutes, however, of extreme suspense prevailed, 
wlien tlie bojs on the south side of tlie stockade sang 
out : " Here thej come ! Give it to 'em ! " and began 
a rapid fire. Above the din I could hear John Coats, 
Bill Chirk, Jim Corey, Jule Eldred, and otliers yelling: 
'' There goes one ! There tumbles another ! Give 
it to 'em, boys ! " 

All this time I was in a feverish state of excitement, 
standing with u\y loaded gun run out through the 
loophole ready to fire at the fii-st Johnnie that might 
come in sight, but I could see none to fire at, for they 
were now ponring through the railroad cut south of 
us, and filing off to the left or west of the embank- 
ment too far to one side for me to see. 

A brigade of gray coats, under command of Gen- 
eral Reynolds, of Arkansas, came through the cut on 
the dead run ; but while their speed was high it re- 
quired several minutes for them to turn the corner and 
get down behind the railroad bank out of the range 
of a destructive fire from the south side of the stock- 
ade, and while they w^ere turning this deadly angle 
many a brave Confederate fell. 

As soon as they had all made their way through 
the cut there was an ominous lull for a few minutes, 
with none of the enemy in view except their dead 
and wounded. During this time Captain Wiesner, 
our gallant young commander, told us the Johnnies 
were working their way up to us behind the railroad 



BATTLE OF MOON STATION AND CAPTURE. 191 

enibankiiient, for us to keep perfectly cool, and reserve 
our fire until they should show themselves, aud then, 
taking good aim, to tire as rapidly as possible and make 
every shot count. At the time this command was 
given a brigade of fourteen or fifteen hundred deter- 
mined Confederates were strung out behind the rail- 
road embankment directly in front of us, while our num- 
bers all told were but eighty -four. They wereaboutfif ty 
yards from the stockade — so close, indeed, that we 
could hear them talking and their ofiicers giving orders. 
Our captain's orders were obeyed to the letter, and 
our fire, ranging from the fifty yards in our immediate 
front to two hundred yards on either side of the stock- 
ade, with two loaded guns for each loophole, to start 
with, and two men to each to work them, told with 
most deadly effect. As rapidly as we fired and handed 
back our empty guns our comrades behind us had 
loaded ones ready for us to grab, and so rapidly did 
we thus load and fire at times during the evening's 
engagement that sometimes our smoking guns were so 
hot we could scarcely hold them. During this time 
the Confederates poured a heavy fire on the stockade 
from behind the railroad embankment, while we re- 
turned it with such execution that we held them in 
bay for nearlj^ three hours. Firing then ceased for a 
short time, during which we could hear the Confed- 
erate ofiicers as they were forming a storming party 
and gave orders preparatory to the charge. Hearing 
this we stood to our guns, hammers raised, and fingers 
to triggers. It was a moment of unspeakable sus- 
pense as we thus stood and peered through the loop- 
holes over the long steel barrels of our trusty rifles. 
13 



192 ON- WHEELS. 

breathlessly awaiting the desperate charge and the 
proper moment to press the death-dealing trigger. 
We had but a moment to wait when the enemy, mad- 
dened at their h)ss and our stubborn resistance, surged 
over the roadbed and made a wild rush up the hill 
with their peculiar yell. In this lit'ty yards of open 
slope we mowed them down like grain before the 
sickle, but with our most rapid and deadly lire we 
could not check them. On, on they SAvept up the hill- 
side in the face of our leaden hail, a mad, resistless 
tide of gray, whose right and left striking the stockade, 
swept entirely around it, completely engulfing us in 
a seething mass of yelling Confederates. Four Con- 
federate flags were soon waving over our stockade, and 
their smoking rifles thrust through our loopholes, and 
for a few moments our brave old company fought the 
desperate Johnnies under their stars and bars, at 
times our muskets locking horns with theirs in the 
same loopholes in a hand to hand contest. 

About this time our captain was wounded in the 
right side ; several others were slightly wounded, and 
two of our men were killed. The forty rounds of 
ammunition in our cartridge boxes were exhausted, and 
to my personal knowledge not over a handful of the 
thousand rounds in the large box remained. And 
now, with our ammunition exhausted, Confederate rifles 
blazing through the loopholes on all sides of the stock- 
ade, and surrounded by overwhelming numbers. Cap- 
tain Wiesner, considering the morning's order to hold 
the position as long as possible had been fully obeyed, 
ordered us to cease flring, and throwing his black hat 
up in the air high above the stockade, shouted : " We 



BATTLE OF MOON STATION AND CAPTURE. 193 

surrender!" Tlie enemy still continuing their fire, 
we clutched our guns, expecting an order to fix bay- 
onets, and were just ready to obey it wlien they 
ceased firing and the desperate battle of Moon Station 
was ended. 

At the time of the surrender Allen Crisp, one of 
the youngest boys in our company, was lying on the 
ground with a bullet hole through his body. Old 
Uncle Jimmie Scott, my Irish friend, the cupola 
of the company, had a shattered knee, from which he 
died. These, with our captain and several others but 
slightly wounded, were all of our men who were in- 
jured in the stockade, and I think none were wounded 
until the Johnnies got to our loopholes. We never 
knew the exact loss of the enemy in this engagement, 
but from what we could see around the stockade 
there must have been over one hundred killed and 
wounded. 

As soon as the Confederates ceased firing we were 
ordered to march out of the stockade ; but before 
startins: a number of our men broke the stocks of their 
guns, and several of the other boys, with myself, 
threw ours into the inside ditch, which had six or 
eight inches of water in it, and jumped in on them 
and stamped them into the mud as deep as we could. 

As we marched out of the stockade that evening in 
the darkness, between 8 and 9 o'clock, we found our- 
selves prisoners of war surrounded by a howling mob 
of Confederates, who unceremoniously relieved us of 
our watches, etc., and made all kinds of one-sided 
trades for our clothing, hats, caps, boots, and shoes, 
and would not allow^ us to return to our quarters for 



194 ON WHEELS. 

our knapsacks, haversacks, blankets, or other belong- 
ings. 

As soon as we were out some Confederate general 
rode lip and called for our commanding officer. 
When Captain Wiesner stepped out he severely criti- 
cised him for not surrendering before so many lives 
were lost. But the captain informed him he had 
simply obeyed his orders to hold the post as long as 
he could, and that with the commanding Confederate 
officer rested the responsibility of the loss of life. 

At the time the Johnnies were robbing us of our 
effects they found me rather poorly clad, for I had 
not drawn any clothing since leaving Yicksburg, over 
six months before, and my pantaloons and blouse 
were quite threadbare, besides being considerably 
soiled. These they did not appear to want, but I had 
on a very good black felt army hat which seemed at- 
tractive to them, and I had not taken more than one 
step out of the opening leading from the stockade 
when a Johnnie about six feet tall, with long sandy 
hair, said : " Say, you young Yank, you have got a 
pnrty good hat," and with that jerked it from my 
head and handed me his old quilted cloth one instead. 

I had no more than got this old quilted rag placed 
on my head when another Johnnie stepped up to me 
and said : " Yank, let's trade hats," and jerked mine 
off and handed me his old broken-billed gray cap ; and 
before I had gone ten steps farther into the crowd 
another Johnnie said : '* Yank, you have no business 
with a Confederate cap," and, snatching it off my 
head, handed me his hat, saying : '^ Ilayre, take one 
of yere un culler," 



BATTLE OF MO OX STATION AND CAPTURE. 195 

When I examined the old hlack and bhie Hmp 
thing he handed nie I found tlie ci'owii was a piece of 
an old bine army overcoat which he had " whanged •' 
on with cotton cord, and the limp black rim was 
looped np to this on all sides with the same kind of 
cord to hold it from falling down over his face. 

As no other Confederate seemed inclined to trade 
hats with me after this exchange, I concluded my 
youthful brow was now graced with the poorest 
makeshift of a hat Hood's army could produce. Yet 
while that was my candid opinion, and I felt insulted 
and highly indignant at every Johnnie who so uncere- 
moniously jerked my succession of hats from my 
head, to-day I would give more for that old Confed- 
erate hat than I would for the best hat that can be pro- 
duced in America ; and I never think of this episode 
without a hearty laugh. Furthermore, as time ob- 
literates the bitterness engendered by war, and the 
mollifying influences of a quarter of a century have 
subdued its heated passions and strife, we can throw 
the mantle of charity over many things which then 
seemed harsh and cruel. 

As we were being relieved of our clothing and 
other possessions, ruthlessly, as we thought, many hot 
words were exchanged, and in some instances it 
seeuied as if they would terminate in blows. 

We had not been out of the stockade over five min- 
utes when a long mysterious line of battle, like a 
phantom column, stretdiing to right and left as far as 
we could see, made its sudden appearance amid the 
evening's shadows, coming in on the double-quick. 
Their colors or uniforms I could not make out, but 



196 ON WHEELS. 

from the first glimpse I canglit of the long line in the 
protecting gloom it seemed to me I could discern the 
Union blue. New and buoyant hopes at once sprang 
up within mj breast, for all through that eventful 
afternoon and evening, not knowing of the orders the 
captain had received nor that Hood's whole army was 
in the valley between us and our main forces, I had 
momentai-ilj expected the appearance of a relief 
column from Marietta. Was not this onr line of boys 
in blue I saw swin«D^ino- over the crest of the hill ? 
and were they not coming in on a charge to relieve us ? 
It seemed to me it must be so. for they were coming 
from the i-ight direction, and my young heart fairly 
leaped within me at the thought ; and my powder- 
stained finger tips pressed my brow beneath the old 
Confederate hat to assist my straining eyes in piercing 
the evening's gloom to discover, if possible, whether 
the advancing column was the blue or the gray. 

As I thus stood, with trembling frame and 
heaving breast, what a Yankee shout of joy would 
have burst from my young throat had I caught a fair 
glimpse of the stars and stripes held aloft by a boy in 
blue. But in this cherished hope I met a bitter dis- 
appointment, for, alas ! the colors were the stars and 
bars borne by a boy in gray. 

At this bitter revelation a heart twinge nearly took 
my breath, for not until then did I fully realize the 
terrible weight of my situation. Having confidently 
and momentarily expected relief during all the after- 
noon and evening, it was not until this advancing 
column of gray drew their lines closer and tighter 
around us that I fully abandoned all hope and allowed 



BATTLE 01 MOON STATION AND CAPTURE. 19 7 

myself to believe and admit that we were prisoners. 
When at last the sad, sad fact fullj broke npon nie my 
wrought-up nerves were completely unstrung, and 
thoughts of home and dear ones from whom I felt I 
was going, perhaps forever, came in rapid succession. 
I gave way to boyisl* grief, and a heavy gloom, deeper 
than that of the night, settled down upon me. I how- 
ever gave way to this despair but for a moment when 
hope and determination came to my relief, and, brush- 
ing the streaming tears from my smoke-bogrimed face, 
I iirmly resolved to make the best of my sad situation 
and not again give w\ay to emotions of despondency 
and grief. 




CHAPTER XXI. 
Marching to Pkison. 

FEW moments after tlie new line of battle at 
"^^ the railroad below ns bad halted, the prisoners 

were ordered to fall iu line, double Hie, and 
were snrronndcd by a cordon of gray-coated guards. 
Then this blue and gray procession at the order, 
" Forward ! March !" crossed the railroad and headed 
for Big Shanty, and as in the gloom of the night we 
bade adieu to our dead and wounded comrades, some 
of them in a dying condition, I am sure I never saw a 
more sad and sullen set of blue and gray. I think, 
however, wo respected each other's courage, and each 
liad but one grim satisfaction — the Johnnies, that they 
had captured ns and had possession of Moon Station, 
and we, that they had paid dear for their Yankee prey. 
By this time we prisoners Vv^ere dressed in all 
manner of old ragged Confederate coats, hats, and 
caps, and now, as we left our dead and wounded com- 
rades, aud were starting for prison, disarmed of our 
guns, having but three or four blankets all told, 
wliich happened to be carried into the stockade, 
compelled to leave behind all of our liaversacks and 
knapsacks in which w^ere kept our letters, pictures of 
friends, and little keepsakes from home, we marched 



MARCHING TO PRISON. 199 

out of Moon Station a saddened set of captives, with 
gloomy forebodings. Every man in our company had 
been killed or captured, excepting Uncle Billie Ward, 
an Irishman, who did not enter the stockade when our 
pickets were tired upon, and who made his way into 
our lines at Marietta. The poor colored men. Jack, 
Toney, Oliver, and one other cook, who were captured 
with the rest of us, the Johnnies nearly frightened to 
death, but otherwise did not injure. 

As our road to Big Slianty lay through heavy 
timber and brush, and the night was dark, our guards, 
before starting, provided themselves with a number 
of pitch pine torches, with which to light the column 
on its way, and as a precaution against any of us 
making our escape. After these torches were lighted 
we were afforded a better view of our new uniforms, 
and a more comical, woe-begone looking set of 
Yankee soldiers, or queerer torchlight procession, I 
never saw or marched with. We could barely 
recognize each other ten steps apart, and when there 
was a recognition, notwithstanding our dismal plight, 
we could not suppress a laugh or a joke over each 
other's comical appearance. 

We reached Big Shanty near midnight, where we 
found a number of dead and wounded comrades of 
Companies A and B in the depot, where we were held 
until morning. One of the living, an Irishman, 
whose name 1 have forgotten, who deserted from the 
Confederate army at Yicksburg, and who joined our 
regiment while there, during the morning's engage- 
ment had an arm broken. A short time after we 
arrived his old Confederate captain came in the depot, 



200 ON WHEELS. 

and, recognizing his former subordinate, had the poor 
fellow taken out and shot. Companies A and B were 
not all captured, a part of them under Captain 
Gillespie escaping to Marietta. 

At daylight, along with our comrades of Companies 
A and B who were able to march, we were started 
southwest under a heavy guard. About 8 a. m. on 
this the 4:th day of October we heard heavy musketry 
firing northeast of us, and were satisfied Ackworth 
was attacked, as was the case; and the three companies 
of our battalion stationed there held the post until 
2 p. M., when, greatly outnumbered and overpowered, 
they were forced to surrender. 

All during that day on our march v/e were passing 
Confederate troops, principally^ infantry and artillery, 
with long trains of ambulance and provision wagons 
of every conceivable shape, from light spring and 
old farm wagons to an occasional good United States 
army wagon which had been captured from some of 
our trains. The mules and horses were as poor and 
motley-looking as were the vehicles. The most of 
them had on chain harness, cotton cloth back-bands, 
and. cornhusk collars. The troops were poorly clad 
in brown and gray cotton suits, and but for the flags 
they carried looked as if they might have been a 
section of the old Continental army. 

Hood's troops seemed to be in goo 1 spirits, and as we 
])assed regiment after regiment they would sing out, 
" Well, Yanks, old Sherman has got flanked this 
time ; " and we would retort, " Yes, and you will 
catch it up at Altoona." But, notwithstanding their 
seeming good spirits, from their general appearance, 



MARCHING TO PRISON. 201 

as compared with the Union army, we took considera- 
ble comfort in believing tlie Confederacy was on its 
last pegs. 

That evening just at sundown we went into camp in 
the vicinity of Lost Mountain, where we found a 
number of Confederates encamped in advance of us. 
As we passed these troops, camped alotig both sides of 
the road under the tall pines, we noticed long piles of 
corn dodgers ricked up on the wire grass ready to be 
issued to the troops. Dozens and dozens of Negroes 
were engaged in baking this bread in Dutch ovens. 
The dodgers were about the size of a brick, though a 
little different in shape, were nicely browned, and, 
being liot, gave out a savory flavor to a tired and 
luingry soldier boy. We were corraled in a cow pen 
that night on the same plantation where these Con- 
federate troops were encamped. Just outside the bars 
stood an old empty white-topped wagon, the rear end 
gate of which was out — a Confederate portable secre- 
tary. On the floor of the bed, at the rear end, were 
pen and ink and a large blank book, one of old Jeff's 
autograph albums. In this book each Yankee prisoner 
was invited by a crusty Confederate sergeant to inscribe 
his name, company, and regiment, and, this done, he 
passed on into the pen, around which was stationed 
a strong guard. In recording his name in that book 
many a brave comrade signed his death-warrant. 

Surrounded as we were by Confederates, General 
Hood at the time seated on his horse within a few 
feet of us, the Confederate stars and bars in sight, I 
could but contrast the scene and occasion with the one 
wlien, in the old church at home, surroimded by 



202 ON WHEELS. 

warm patriotic friends, I had gone forward with 
Hardin and other associates and signed tlie enlistment 
papers as they hiy on the communion table o'erspread 
with the stars and stripes. There we were heartily 
cheered, and called brave boys ; here we were called 
Yanks derisively, with qualifying jidjectives that we 
considered quite inappropriate, and on we were hur- 
ried like cattle into the pen. 

Once inside that hisrh rail inclosure, we besfan to 
speculate as to what kind of rations they were going 
to give their new herd. As fur myself, I had my 
mouth fixed for one of the toothsome corn dodgers. 
But none of them came, and in their stead Confederate 
hard-tack was issued to us, three pieces to each 
man, designed as a day's rations. These were unlike 
any Yankee hard-tack we had ever tackled. They 
were made out of ground rice and water without any 
shortening or salt. There were no molars in our 
squad of prisoners that could grind them, and the 
only way we could manage them was by pulverizing 
them between two stones, of which there were a good 
many in the pen. I ground mine in that way and ate 
but a part of them tliat niglit, putting what was left 
in my blouse pocket for the next day. 

During the night one of our boys was awakened by 
a Johnnie taking his shoes from under his head. The 
alarm was at once given, and the entire squad, over 
one hundred in all, awoke. Then, although our feet 
needed the rest, we sat up on the ground where we 
had been lying with nothing under us but our shoes 
for pillows, and put them on, and tied them in hard 
knots, so that we lost no more that night. 



MARCHING TO PRISON. 203 

Once awake 1 found it difficult to get to sleep again, 
and as I lay there in the old cow pen on my back, 
gazing at the stars through the tops of the gently 
swaying pines, I thought of many things. What 
would tlie dear ones at home think when they should 
hear that their only boy was a prisoner ? How would 
father and mother take it? And my sisters — Nellie, 
May, and Georgia — then quite small, and all younger 
than myself ? How I wished for their pictures, which 
I had received but a short time before my ca])turc — 
a splendid photograph it was of the three in a smiling 
group. I vrondered if some Johnnie would send it to 
his home as a memento of the fight. Then I tried to 
imagine wliat kind of a prison we were going to, sup- 
posing it would be some large building like a barrack, 
surrounded by a strong guard. . 

I finally dropped to sleep, however, thinking that 
for a boy onlj^ a little over sixteen years old I had made 
a record I need not be ashamed of, though I was a 
prisoner. I had "been at my post of duty and filled 
niy place ever since my enlistment, and, since signing 
the prison record the evening before, my name was 
inscribed in both Federal and Confederate war records, 
in the latter of wliich signatures, however, there was 
not nmcli comfort. ^^,. 

The morning of the 5th dawned bright and clear. '^ 
Some time during the night previous the other tlireq^ 
companies of our battalion, which had been captured ^ 
at Ackworth, joined us. Dr. Chaffee, our regimental tp^ 
surgeon, being with them. As surgeons were not 
held as prisoners of war he was released, but before 
leaving us he took a list of all our names, companies. 



204 ON WHEELS, 

and regiments for publication in the Northern papers 
for the information of our friends. 

At an earlj hour the bars of the pen were let down, 
and w^e were turned out into the road and took up our 
line of marcli toward a point on the Chattahoochee 
Eiver, to the soutliwest of Atlanta. As we started 
we passed a Confederate regiment that was just taking 
up its line of march in the opposite direction. In 
passing this gray column I noticed one of the men 
with a frolicsome pet that wore a uniform which was 
in ])leasing harmony with that of its owner, and 
which, from its sprightly maneuvers as it skipped 
about from shoulder to shoulder along the whole line 
of the regiment, at last hiding itself snugly away in 
its owner's pocket, seemed imbued with the spirit of 
that most glorious October moi-ning. This nimble 
little creature was a sprightly gray scpiirrel, and I 
venture to say, while he has not the national reputa- 
tion of " Old Abe," the proud eagle of the Eighth 
Wisconsin Eegiment, that he is by no means forgotten 
by this old Confederate regiment. 

About 8 A. M. that 5th day of October, as we were 
swinging along at a good gait over a rolling countiy 
covered with stately pines whose lofty evergreen 
crowns were gently swaying in the clear morning air, 
our ears caught the faint reverberations of the boom- 
ing of a cannon, undoubtedly the opening gun at 
Altoona Pass; then came another and another, and as 
the rumble of distant thunder is the presage of the 
coming storm, this, to our keen ears, was the premo- 
nition of the fearful tempest which was breaking 
upon Altoona Pass. We knew every inch of the 



MARCHING TO PRISON. 205 

ground tliere, rifle-pits, barricades, and redoubts, for 
we ]iad lielped n)ake them. If prayer is the sincere, 
earnest desire of the heart, " uttered or unexpressed," 
everyone in our captured company must have prayed 
effectually for the success of our boys there that day 
as we were marching away to prison under the sound 
of those guns. 

It will be remembered that on the 4th of October, 
the day previous, the stirring revival song, " Hold the 
fort ! " liad its birth, or rather the event which in- 
spired it occurred. That was the day on which Gen- 
eral Sherman signaled from Yining Station, below 
Marietta, to the top of Kennesaw Mountain, the 
message which was signaled from tliere to Altoona, 
that he was sending reinforcements to Altoona, 
and for them to hold the post without fail. At the 
very time this signal was given we were in the valley 
between the two mountains, and the message was sent 
over our heads and over Hood's army, although all 
unknown to them and us. 

I desire here to record my belief, which I think no 
one who is informed about the matter will question, 
that Altoona Pass would not have been saved by the 
brave General Corse and his gallant men but for the 
desperate fighting of the Veteran Battalion of the 
Fourteenth and Fifteenth Illinois Infantry on the 3d 
and tilth of October in the valley below Altoona. By 
tlieir stubborn resistance the Confederates were held 
in check at least thirty-five hours, and twenty hours 
of this time engaged them in actual fighting. This, 
Avitli the time required in taking care of their dead 
and wounded, gave General Corse time to get down 



206 ON WHEELS. 

from Ivoiiie to Altooiia with his forces, which he did 
just as the outposts at the latter phice were being at- 
tacked by Hood's troops at 1 a. m. the morning of 
the 5th. 

Hood attacked this pkce with three brigades, num- 
bering between four and five thousand men. Altoona, 
previous to Corse's arrival, had but eight hundred 
and ninety men, under command of Colonel Tourte- 
lotte, who could not have held the place eighteen 
hours without assistance. Hood sent but one division 
to strike and destroy the railroad in the valley where 
we were stationed, and bore off to the left or west with 
his main army. Tliis division took our stations one 
at a time, commencing at Big Shanty between 9 and 
10 A. M. the 3d of October, and striking us at Moon 
Station the same day at 2 p. m. We held our position 
until 9 p. M. Ackworth was attacked at 8 a. m. the 
morning of the 4tli, and was held until 2 p. m. the 
same day, the troops at these three stations all being 
portions of our Veteran Battalion. After taking these 
points Hood's troops could not, and did not, reach 
Altoona until 1 a. m. the 5th of October, as previously 
stated, just as General Corse arrived with his troops 
from Home. Thus, it will be seen, it took Hood's 
forces forty hours to make fifteen miles. I^ow, sup- 
pose our little battalion had surrendered post after post 
as we were attacked by that division of determined 
Confederates. Had such been the case it can be readily 
seen that Hood's forces could have reached and taken 
Altoona Pass, where Sherman's provisions for his 
march to the sea were stored, at least twenty-four 
hours before General Corse arrived there. 



MARCHING TO PRISON. 207 

Tills being the fact, and no mention of the impor- 
tant work of our Veteran Battalion having been made 
in any war liistorj, must be my only apology for making 
this record here. I feel that tliis much is justly due 
our brave boys who fouglit so stubboi-nly and held 
their posts so persistently against great odds in de- 
fense of this line of railroad leading to Sherman's 
base of supplies, and wlio indirectly saved Altoona 
Pass. 

General Corse and his men were a band of brave 
and gallant heroes, and this statement is not intended 
to, nor can it, detract in the least from their glory. I 
dare say the general would readily grant all that is 
here claimed, and would accord due merit and praise 
to our brave battalion. It is not surprising that 
members of our battalion should have felt somewhat 
disappointed when General Sherman's Memoirs came 
out to find that no mention was nuide of our services. 
But we attributed this to his lack of information re- 
specting the work done. 

This record, therefore, of the gallant defense of im- 
portant posts by our brave old Yeteran Bactalion is 
the first that has ever appeared, so far as the writer's 
knowledge extends. 

14 



CHAPTER XXII. 
Arrival at Andersonville. 

fUST as the san was setting on the evening of 
the 5th of October, 1864, we went into camp 
for the night on the south bank of the Chatta- 
hoochee River, some twenty-five miles distant from 
the cow pen near Lost Mountain wliere we spent the 
previous niglit, and twenty odd miles southwest from 
Atlanta. Our camp was just a few yards to the right 
of the pontoon bridge on which we crossed. 

As we were going into camp Geiiei-jd Beauregard 
and staff crossed to the north bank of the river, and, 
when over, Hood's entire army, excepting our guards, 
was on the north side of the Chattahoochee. The 
bridge was then taken up. After being marched to 
our camp on the bank of the river a guard line was 
formed around us in the shape of a crescent with each 
horn touching the edge of the water. In our front 
in the river was quite a growth of buck brush ex- 
tending about twenty yards out into the stream. The 
ground on which we were camped was open, sloping 
gently to the river's brink. After the turn of the 
night I was awakened and noticed a dozen or so ob- 
jects, about six feet long and somewhat the shape and 
color of logs, quietly rolling down the slope over the 



ARRIVAL AT ANDERSONVILLE. 209 

saiul V beach into the river and disappearing in the buck 
brush. 

Across the river, on the opposite bank from where 
we were, Confederate forces were encamped, while 
just beyond the skirting of l)uck brusli I could see 
guards as thej were paddling up and down the stream 
Avith hghted torches as though afraid some of us 
might be sonmaml)ulists, and that walking in our 
sleep we miglit get drowned. But wliile the brush 
formed a pretty good hiding place, which some of our 
boys were disposed to avail tliemselves of in an at- 
tempt to escape, 1 conchided, when by the light 
of liis torch I caught a glimpse of one of the John- 
nies in a skiff with fixed bayonet, that I would prefer 
my chances on land. 

In the evening when we went into camp we were 
carefully counted, and on the morning of the 6tli as 
we started out the counting was repeated, which dis- 
closed the fact that they were short some thirty odd 
prisoners. We were then hiilted and marched back 
into camp. The officers in churge questioned the 
guards as to whether they had seen any of the Yanks 
escape or not. Finding that none had been dis- 
covered the Confederate officer felt sure they were 
eitlier in the ground or in the water, and instituted 
a careful search for Yankee graves. Being unable to 
resurrect any from the sandy beach, he stepped down 
to the river's edge and called aloud for them to come 
up out of the watery deep, but not a ripple or a sound 
came from the placid stream, and the waters of the 
beautiful Chattahoochee continued their onward flow 
all unmindful of the excited Confederates. 



210 ON WHEELS. 

This niirufiled serenity of the stream seemed very 
exaspenitiiig to the officer, who was now fairly froth- 
ing at the mouth, and indulging in the use of inelegant 
descriptive adjectives concerning us Yankees wliich 
we did not particularly enjoy. Ilow^ever, after he 
cooled down enough to use his brains with some de- 
gree of intelligence, he ordered some of his guards 
to get into the boats and institute a vigorous spearing 
campaign with bayonets in search of the missing pris- 
oners. It was not long until they started their game, 
and as one after another came bounding to the shore 
from their hiding places, dripping from head to foot, 
they were greeted with hearty cheers and shouts as 
though they were proud conquerors instead of skulk- 
ing prisoners. When the officer found his full com- 
plement of prisoners we took up our line of march 
again and started south at a lively gait in the direction 
of AVest Point. About noon we halted for dinner 
near a large log warehouse that stood alone in the pine 
woods, several miles from any other building, so far as 
we could see. One end of this building was stored 
to the depth of some three feet with bacon packed in 
charcoal. In the other end was a great quantity of 
meal in sacks. That noon we had issued to us about 
a pint of good meal to each man and a half pound of 
bacon. The bacon had but the slightest trace of salt, 
but was preserved by the charcoal, and tasted quite 
delicious when broiled. The meal we found some- 
what difficult to manage. Some took theirs in hats, 
others, who were fortunate enough to have any left, 
took theirs in their handkerchiefs, and still others in 
their pockets or on pieces of bark. We used the meal 



ARRIVAL AT ANDERSONVILLE. 211 

by mixing it with water, and then put the saltless 
dough on pieces of bark or chips, which we propped 
np in front of tlie fire until baked. 

About 4 p. M. that day we passed a fine-looking 
spring which was some twenty feet from the road. 
Being quite tired and thirsty, I asked one of the guards, 
a kind-looking old man, if he would not go with me 
to the spring and let me get a di-ink. This he con- 
sented to, and, dropping out of ranks, he told me to 
go on in advance of him. Reaching the spring, I 
satiated my thirst w^itli its delicious cooling waters. 
On the opposite side of the road from the spring was a 
canefield, and while lying on the grass beneath the 
large bushy-topped chestnut tree which shaded the 
crystal fountain, I w^ondered if the clever old guard, 
who was standing a few feet back of me leaning on 
his rifle, would allow me to climb over the fence into 
the field and get ns a stalk of sugar cane apiece. 
When we got back into the road alongside the field, 
without halting I glanced back over my shoulder, 
and said : " Guard, let's have some of that cane. If 
you will let me I will go over and get us each a good 
stalk." 

All Southerners are fond of cane, and, being in an 
accommodating mood, the old gentleman consented to 
my proposition. Being unencumbered, I quickly 
bounded over into the field. The freedom thus given 
seemed to beget within me a keen desire for more, and 
as I stepped out into the canefield T determined, if 
possible, to have it. But I thought it would be best 
to work my way out several rows before undertaking 
it. With the view of throwina: the old man off his 



212 ON WHEELS. 

gnard, wliilo I was going out I carefully exauiined the 
different hills as I passed them as if in search of the 
best. When I reached the fourth row, some twenty- 
five or thirty feet from the fence, I decided that that 
was the time for making the break for liberty. How- 
ever, before doing so I concluded I had better cut a 
stalk of cane, and while doing so to look back and see 
what the old guard, whom I left standing in the mid- 
dle of the road, was doing. I soon discovered that 
the accommodating old man had shifted position, and 
was then near the fence, and at that instant had his 
rifle run through the top crack of the fence, hammer 
cocked, with a carefully drawn bead on me, ready 
to fire at my first attempt to escape. 

At this uninspiring sight the two nimble members 
Avhich I had expected to carry me oft" so rapidly in 
my flight for freedom became so demoralized and 
untrustworthy that I abandoned the project, and at 
the same time it occurred to me that after all the cane 
near the fence might be the sweetest; so, leaving the 
stalk I had been hacking at with my dull knife as 
unconcerned as possible, I walked back to the outside 
row near where the guard was standing and cut olf 
two g(^od stalks. While doing this the guard let down 
the hammer of his gun, withdrew it from the fence, 
and quietly waited for me to return w4th the cane. 
Climbing the fence, I handed him the better stalk of 
the two, and then we hastened on to catch up with 
the j)risoners and guards in advance. But neither of 
us made any mention of what we thought the othei-'s 
intentions were when 1 was getting the cane. Had I 
succeeded in escaping from the guard I would have 



ARRIVAL AT ANDERSONVILLE. 21:{ 

luid a fair cliaiice to reach our lines near Atlanta, for, 
as I have before mentioned, at that time all of Plood's 
forces were north of the Chattahoocliee except onr 
guards, a fact which the boys who tried to make their 
escape the niglit before well understood. 

After a long, hard march we reached West Point 
the evening of the 0th, about sundown. Marching 
into town, we were halted on a street in front of the 
large brick courthouse. While halted here for a few 
moments nntil it should be determined what to do 
with us for the night several of the boys who had a 
little money secreted about their persons obtained 
permission, and, under guard, Ment to some of the 
stores and purchased some bread, crackers, and cheese. 

These guards were old soldiers from Hood's army 
direct from the front, and I trust the reader of these 
lines will take special note of the fact that I do not 
enter one word of complaint against their treatment 
while we were guarded by them. Indeed, it the old 
guard had shot me had I attempted to escape lie would 
have done his simple duty. I mention this here be- 
cause this was our last day with these soldierly guards. 

While in the street before the courthouse, the even- 
ing being a pleasant one, a large crowd of citizens, prin- 
cipally women and children, gathered on the sidewalks 
to see the live Yankee prisoners. From the comments of 
some of the ladies, both old and young, I am afraid the 
ragged and dirty appearance of our old battalion made 
an unfavorable impression upon their minds. Our 
woc-begone appearance seemed conclusive to their 
minds that the Union was about ready to collapse, and 
that "old Sherman " would soon be compelled to sue- 



214 ON WHEELS. 

cuiiib. One elderly matron, pointing lier finger to- 
ward ns, as she was talking to another excited woman, 
said, " Nobody needn't tell me old Lincoln's soldiers 
are clothed and fed better than onr brave boys are. 
I've seen thousands of our soldiers, and I have never 
seen as ragged and dirty a looking set as these Yankees 
are. You jist mark what I say, our boys will drive 
'em out of Georgia yit." 

"We had been halted but about twenty-five min- 
utes when we were marched into the courthouse 
and held in the large court room over night. On 
the morning of the 7tli our guards were changed, some 
mounted Georgia militia relieving the old soldiers 
who had brought us to AYest Point. We very much 
regretted this change, for we soon discovered that the 
militia, composed of young upstarts who knew noth- 
ing of the hardships of military life, were going to 
give us trouble. The commander of the new guards 
kept his revolver in his hands continually, all the while 
threatening to shoot the first Yank that didn't hop 
when he spoke to him, or who would attempt to retort 
to his gruff commands; and he ordered all his subor- 
dinates to treat its in like manner. 

It was just a little after sunrise when we started 
that clear morning for Columbus surrounded by those 
mounted boy militia. We had not proceeded very far 
when we learned from some of the guards that the 
captain, a young fellow about twenty-two or twenty 
three, had a sweetheart living near Columbus, and that 
he was going to drive us through to her father's plan- 
tation before camping for the night, which would re- 
quire a twenty-eiglit or twenty-nine mile march under 



ARRIVAL AT ANDERS ON VILLE. 215 

a hot sun over dusty roads for men already luucli 
fatigued from hard lighting, poor rations, and severe 
marches. 

We were started off on a trot, an unnatural gait, 
which both worried ns and stirred up the dust as our 
long swinging gait to which we were accustomed did 
not. By 10 a. m. the sun was beaming down upon us 
very hot and some of the older men began to fag. 
For their sakes the commander was courteously re- 
quested to slacken our gait by a sergeant of our com- 
pany, but for this respectful and modest request he 
received a terrible cursing and came near being shot. 

Several times during the day, when we were almost 
famishing and choking with the dust, we crossed 
streams, but this inhuman officer would not allow a 
halt so that we could get a drink, and galloped his 
horse around from one side of the column to another, 
urging his men to crowd us on, and all the while 
flourishing his revolver. This rush was continued 
from early morning until sundown, when we went 
into camp on some open ground belonging to the 
plantation referred to, and within a mile or so of Co- 
lumbus. It was the most trying day's march I ever 
experienced while in an able-bodied condition. When 
we halted some of our men fell dov/n from sheer ex- 
haustion, apparently more dead than alive. In jus- 
tice to some of the young men who helped to drive 
us that day I wish to say that I do not believe they 
were in sympathy with their inhuman officer, but 
were afraid to object lest they should bring upon 
themselves his cowardly malignity. 

We broke camp the following morning and marched 



216 ON WHEELS. 

into Columbus, entering the town about 9 o'clock, 
where we were the sensation of the day, and were 
viewed and interviewed bv hundreds of citizens, who 
seemed, however, more respectful than those at West 
Point. 

AYe were held in Columbus until about 5 a. m. the 
following day, October 9, when, under heavy infantry 
guard, we were placed on board a ti-ain of flat cars 
and at once started tlmmpety-bnmp over an old 
rotten railroad for Fort Valley, some ninety miles 
east, arriving tliere about 1 p. m. the same day. There 
we were at once transferred to a train of box cars on 
the Macon and Albany Eaih-oad and headed soutli for 
Andersonville, distant about forty-five miles. 

At Columbus tliere was put on the train with us 
one of the scrawniest, raggedest, and most lilthy 
Union soldiers I had ever seen. We all tried to shun 
him for fear of becoming stocked with vermin and of 
catchini]^ some disease. On our way from Fort Yal- 
ley to And'- vsonville, as we thumped along in the old 
box cars over the loose joints of another dilapidated 
road, this filthy skeleton of a fellow, listeniug to our 
erroneous surmisings about Andersonville, said, " Com- 
rades, you will not believe my storj^ but I escaped 
from that place two weeks ago, and I tell you now 
you are all going to hell." 

Then he proceeded to give us, as we afterw^ard 
found to our great sorrow, a true picture of Ander- 
sonville Prison, with its unspeakable horrors; and his 
description was a better picture of this prison than 
any I have ever seen penned or penciled on paper. 
Although he was one of our comrades in blue, yet I 



ARRIVAL AT ANDERSONVILLE. 211 

tliink tliore was not a man in the car who believed 
Ills stoiy. As for injself, I entirely discredited it, and 
thought he was eitlier a great liar or a deranged per- 
son who had been wandering around among the 
swamps and pine forests until he had become nearly 
starved and naked. To fortify this thonght his long 
matted hair and filthy look gave him a decidedly ma- 
niacal appearance, and made him repulsive to every- 
one. 

About 4 o'clock that bright afternoon, October 9, 
1864, a day on which the harmonies of nature would 
banish all thoughts of gloom and horror, our train 
stopped in an opening in the pine forest, where could 
be seen nine or ten log houses whose roof boards 
were held in place by long poles. To the east of the 
railroad track, about a quarter of a mile from this 
point, over some gently rolling clay hills which were 
partially cleared of timber, we could see a large log 
stockade. This station, in the heart of this great 
Southern forest, our emaciated companion informed 
us, was Andersonville, so named before the war, as I 
have since learned upon reliable authority, for our- 
noble Major Anderson, of Fort Sumter fame, by a 
friend of his who- surveyed the railroad. 

To me, having listened to my grandmother's In- 
dian stories, and read books on frontier life among the 
Indians, as I landed here, and listened to the distant 
baying of hounds in the forest, and saw the prison 
pen, the place appeared like a new settlement in the 
wilds of the Far West, with a stockade for the pro- 
tection of settlers in case of an attack by the redskins. 

AVhen our train came to a stop we were ordered out 



218 ON WHEELS. 

of the cars, and were at once turned over to the pris- 
on guards, who marched us a sliort distance east to an 
open space, where we were halted and, taken sepa- 
rately, were carefully searched by several Confederate 
sergeants. They took every valuable they could find 
from our mouths, buttons, shoes, and the various 
places where we had them secreted in the lining of 
our clothing. 

While this search was in progress a small, wry- 
faced Confederate captain with a foreign countenance 
walked over to where we were from one of the log 
huts, over which a Confedei-ate flag floated from the 
top of a pole planted in front of it. This individual, 
whose frame was somewhat stooped, hair shaggy, 
beai'd a grizzly gray, weai-ing a very common suit of 
Confederate gray and crowned witli a small gray cap 
whose large, black bill was all out of proportion, his 
tnouth fllled with uncommonly long tobacco-stained 
snags of teeth, and with an enormous revolver in hand, 
was the old Swiss captain, Henry Wirz, of Anderson- 
villc notoriety — to my mind a very poor representa- 
tive of the land of William Tell. When he came to 
where we were he said, " I vill shows you Yankees 
'pout 'Uncle Sam.' You shust vait I keeps you six 

months, you no more lights for ' Uncle Sam.' 

'Uncle Sam!'" 

These words are in his exact language, except that 
he filled the blanks witli curses, and they were burned 
into my young mind so deeply at the time that they 
seem to ring in my ears to this day. 

This narrow-minded, shallow-souled, malicious man 
was commander of the interior of the prison, and 



ABEIVAL AT ANDERSONVILLE. 219 

directed our treatment and liow we should be fed. 



watered, clothed, and sheltered. It is but fair to say 
that he was detested by some of his own guards as 
\wq\\ as hated by all the prisoners. Neither the Con- 
federate soldie]-s in tlie front nor the masses of the 
people of the South knew any more about what was 
done in Andersonville and other Southei'u prisons, 
and the inhuman treatment we were receiving, than 
we know of what is going on in the prisons of Rus- 
sia, and were in no way responsible for such treat- 
ment, and such is the nniversal belief of those wlio 
were incarcerated in these prison dens. The record 
of the coming chapters will simply give some of the 
actual experiences and observations of a boy prisoner, 
as nearly as language can convey a correct idea of 
them. 




CHAPTER XXIII. 



Entering Andersonville Prison. 



a 




HEN the search for valuables was over, inas- 
much as commissioned officers were not con- 
fined in Andersonville, those belonging to our 
battalion were ordered out of the ranks to be sent to 
some prison kept especially for such officers. Our 
acting lieutenants, Kieft'er and Bostwick, not having 
received their commissions at the time, had to enter 
the prison with the rest of us. Here we bade adieu 
to our gallant captain, Tom Wiesner, and other com_ 
missioned officers, and, although Captain Wiesner is 
still living, and now resides at Rock Bridge, 111., I 
have never seen him since. 

After the officers were separated from us our old 
battalion, three hundred strong, was taken east toward 
the stockade, surrounded by a strong guard of old 
men and boys belonging to a Georgia militia regi- 
ment. 

At the time of our entrance the prison consisted of 
a strong stockade twenty feet in height, inclosing 
twenty-seven acres of ground. This stockade was 
formed of large pine logs firmly planted in the 
ground some five feet deep. The main stockade was 
surrounded by two other similar rows of pine logs. 



ENTERING ANDERS ONVILLE PRISON. 221 

the '.ijfddle stockade being sixteen feet liigb and tlie 
onter one twelve feet high. These were designed for 
both offensiv^e and defensive operations. If the inner 
stockade should be forced by the prisoners the middle 
one would form another line of defense. -In case of 
an attempt to deliver tlie prisoners bj a force oper- 
ating from the outside the onter stockade formed an 
excellent protection for Confederate troops, and a 
most formidable obstacle to the approach of Union 
cavalry or infantry. The fonr angles of the outer 
line were strengthened by earth forts on commanding 
eminences from whicli the cannon, in case of an up- 
rising among the piisoners, miglit sweep the entire 
inclosure. The ground inclosed by the innermost 
stockade lay in tlie form of a parallelogram, extend- 
ing lengthwise almost due north and south. This 
space included the northern and southern slopes of two 
hills, between wliich a stream of water five or six 
inches deep and six or seven feet wide ran f i-om west to 
east. The surface soil of these two hills was composed 
chiefly of sand with varying admixtures of clay, which 
was sufficiently tenacious to give a good degree of 
consistency to the soil. On the west side of the stock- 
ade, the side next to the railroad, there were two en- 
trances, one on each side of the small creek midway 
between it and the corners of the inclosure on the 
same side. These w^ere known as the north and 
south gates, and were the only entrances into the 
prison. Ai'ound these two gates on the outside were 
small stockades with other sets of gates. Around the 
inner stockade and just outside of it at regular inter- 
vals were forty-four sentry posts, or little perches. 



222 ON WHEELS. 

wliich were reached by ladders and were covered 
with board roofs. On these the guards stood, the 
greater portions of their bodies rising above the 
stockade, which gave them a full view of the inside 
of the prison. Twenty feet inside the inner stockade, 
entirely around the inclosnrc, was the dead line, 
which consisted of a strip one inch thick by four 
inches wide nailed on the top of stakes driven into 
the ground, and which were about three and a half 
feet high. To attempt to pass or reach over or un- 
der this line was certain deatli. 

A portion of this description of Anderson ville 
Prison, which accords with my knowledge of tlie 
place, I have copied from a report of a Confederate 
surgeon given at the Wirz trial after the close of the 
war. The illustration on the opposite page is a fair 
representation of it, so far as it can be pictured. 

On our way to this pen, a little to tlie right of tlie 
southwest corner of the stockade, we saw four ragged, 
skeleton-looking Union prisoners confined in stocks, 
with hands, feet, and neck securely fastened. As 
they lay there motionless, their blackened faces uj)- 
turned toward the clear sky, they were in appearance 
much like the poor fellow we picked up at Colum- 
bus, and looked as if they might be dead. 

As we went through the second or middle stockade 
a little to the riglit of the south gate we passed a 
brush shelter made with poles resting on stakes, wliich 
were covered with pine boughs, having open sides and 
no floor. Lying on the ground under this shade we 
counted over twenty emaciated, blackened human 
forms. The most of them were covered from head 



THE NEW Yrr.K 



ENIEIUXG ANDERSONVILLE PRISON. 223 

to foot \vitli angry looking sores. They were lying 
side by side and were entirely destitute of clothing. 
This was the Andersonville dead-house, through 
which, during twelve months, between twelve and 
thirteen thousand Union soldiers were carried, wdiose 
graves in the national cemetery at that place are all 
marked by small white marble slabs, all provided and 
kept in order by the United States government. 
Many moi'e who were coniined in Andersonville, in 
attempting to escape, perished in the surrounding for- 
ests and swamps, and so were not buried in the ceme- 
tery, and a record of whose death was never made. 

This shroudless squad of emaciated bodies was the 
last sight that met our wondering gaze before the 
heavy iron bolt was drawn and the massive wooden 
doors swung open to admit us into the small stockade 
by which the south gate was inclosed. When these 
were opened the head of our column, perhaps one 
half of it — the section i:i which I was marching — was 
taken inside this ante-chamber of the main stockade. 
It was about twenty-five feet square, inclosed by a 
wall of logs which were from a foot and a half to two 
feet in diameter, and about twenty feet high. These had 
been sawed on the sides which came toojether so that 
they fitted so closely that those within could not see 
out without placing their eyes close up to the small 
crack between them. The logs forming the main 
stockade were scored and fitted in like manner. 

When the small pen was crowded as full as it could 

hold of prisoners a tall Confederate sergeant, by the 

name of Johnston, entered with us while the rest of the 

guards remained in heavy lines around the prisoners 

15 



224 ON WHEELS. 

wiio were left outside. The gates were then closed 
and fastened securely behind us. 

If a portion of a drove of cattle hemmed in on the 
scales, just before entering the slaughter pen, could 
think and feel as we do, I believe the emotions of the 
dumb brutes, ready to go to the shambles, would be 
akin to ours as we were crowded into that small pen, 
with the words of old Captain Wirz ringing in our 
ears, with added emphasis from the ghastly sights we 
had but a moment before witnessed. 

At the time we could see nothing outside save tlie 
blue sky above us and the gray-coated sentinels on 
their perches, and as we looked into each other's 
blanched and troubled faces we felt indeed that we 
w^ere in the very jaws of death and gates of hell with 
no one to deliver us. 

When the gates behind us had been closed and 
made secure the Confederate sergeant who had 
entered Avith us unlocked the massive wooden gates 
of the inner stockade, threw back the heavy iron bar 
that secured them, and shoved the heavy doors inward 
on their creaking hinges, and we were marched in. 
As we entered through the open door Johnston 
ordered us to keep in line. To the left of the gate 
were to be seen twelve or fifteen more shroudless 
dead, covered with filth and vermin, lying in a row 
near and with their heads against the stockade. 

Once inside, what an immense volume of suffering 
was opened before us ! The horrible sights which met 
our view seemed to daze us completelj^, and men ex- 
claimed : " Is this hell ?" Yerily, the great m?ss of 
gauntj unnatural-looking beings, soot-begrimed, and 



ENTERING ANDERSONVJLLE PRISON 225 

clad ill liltliy tatters, that we saw stalking about inside 
this pen looked, indeed, as if they might belong to 
a world of lost spirits. 

Our battalion was marched east from the gates on a 
street to a point near the center of the stockade, east 
and west, and there we were allotted a piece of 
ground adjoining and just to the south of the creek. 
As we marched to the center of this literal valley of 
destruction and halted we were engulfed in an ocean 
of black, grimy, emaciated beings, covered with soi-es, 
vermin, rags, and filth, who, with their smoke-black- 
ened faces, matted hair, and weak, strange-sounding 
voices, crowded around us inquiring about Gi-ant and 
Sherman, about news of exchange, and wanting to 
know if we had any hard-tack or coffee to trade for 
corn bread. Could it be possible, we thought, that 
these gaunt, filthy creatures, with half-naked, bony 
limbs, lusterless eyes, and feeble voices, some of them 
in their starving condition having lost their minds, 
were ever able-bodied Union soldiers ? If so, alas ! 
for our fate. 

In this great throng I could see some who were 
hatless and naked, except for old ragged shirts, two 
with nothing on but an old tattered pair of drawers 
each. One man was with the whole top of his head 
raw, and in an unspeakably horrible condition. The 
man had no coat, was clad in hlthy tatters, and, as I 
stood within four or five feet of him, the sight almost 
fastened me to the spot. 

Dozens of men were there with their lower limbs 
burst open from dropsy, and others with their teeth 
and gums falling out from scurvy. In another crowd 



226 ON WHEELS. 

that evening I saw three men whose feet and hands 
were gangrened to such a degree that the bones 
and sinews were in full view, and the joints were 
separating. In any direction we might go south of 
the creek, wliere the most of the prisoners were con- 
gregated at the time we entered the prison, these poor 
creatures could be seen lying on the ground unable 
to get up. 

The swamp near where we were camped, embracing 
two or three acres, was covered to the dei)th of 
several feet with iiltli in a fomenting condition, which 
prevented the growth of any vegetation in it, and was 
literally alive with millions of wriggling maggots. It 
emitted a sickening odor, and the old prisoners told 
us to keep away from it as far as possible for fear of 
gangrene. 

This representation of Andersonville Prison is as 
we found it, and is in no way overdrawn. Indeed, it 
is a milder representation of it than any I have ever 
seen as written either by other Union men who were 
confined therein, or by Confederate surgeons who 
visited the place and in official reports gave descrip- 
tions of it and recommended changes for the im- 
provement of the condition of the prisoners, which 
changes, liowever, were never made. Some of the 
commonest prison sights could not be described here. 

Before we entered the prison we had been separated 
into companies of ninety each, according to one of the 
prison regulations, with one of our own sergeants placed 
over each squad, whose duty it was to draw rations for 
his company and account for his men. That evening 
was the List time our old Veteran Battalion ever stood 



ENTERING ANDERS ON VILLE PRISON 227 

together in ranks, and before we scattered, as we stood 
tliere beside the sliallow creek, wliich wns used for 
prison sinks, and into wliicli the washings from the 
cook honse and tlie Confederate camps above flowed, 
often covering it with a greasy shnie, I believe that 
every man in tlie battalion felt as if we had entered 
the valley of despair, and were caiuj)ed on the river 
of death. 

As for myself, I never felt so utterly depressed, 
crushed, aiid God-forsaken in all my life before. All 
my former experiences in battles, on marches, and at 
my capture were not a drop in the bucket as com- 
pared with this. I was utterly appalled at the sight 
of the misery and death I saw on every hand, and the 
very logs of the stockade appeared as if ready to march 
in over tlie frr.il dead lines and crush us between their 
high walls. By this time we all felt that the skeleton- 
looking companion on the train had not pictured the 
horrors of the prison nearly so terribly as we found 
them, and that Wirz meant every word he uttered 
when he told us that if he kept us six months we 
would never fisrht for " Uncle Sam " as^ain. 

That evening I was sixteen years four months and 
ilve days old, and all that I liad with which to meet 
the horrors of that prison and to battle against grim 
denth, outside of my physical force and resolute will, 
was my old Confederate hat, my blue woolen blouse 
and pantaloons, my gray woolen shirt, one jmir of 
cotton drawers, one pair of woolen socks, and one pair 
of army brogans ; and every jiiece of this outfit was 
at least half worn. In my pockets I had an old jack- 
knife, a piece of coarse comb, and the silk handker- 



228 ON WHEELS. 

chief previonslj mentioned. The latter, from 
frequent wasliings, was almost coloi-less, and was rent 
in several places. 

As soon as we broke ranks that evening we formed 
messes. My old mess, w^hicli was composed of 
Charles Paine and his cousin, Charles Harper, William 
and Peter Gross (brothers), Frank Durant, and my- 
self, hung together. These messmates were all as 
destitute as myself, excepting Charles Paine, who at 
the time of our capture had his blanket with him in 
the stockade, and still retained it. Having but the 
one blanket among this mess of six, we persuaded 
"Will Chirk, who also had a blanket, to join our mess, 
which gave us two for the mess. 

When we broke ranks that evening it was about 
half past four o'clock. Soon after this I heard some 
one over near the gate we had entered sing out, 
" Limber Jim at the gate !" This refrain was at once 
taken up by every old prisoner that conld pipe above 
a whisper, and '* Limber Jim at the gate ! Limber 
Jim at the gate !" was heard all over the pen. See- 
ing a crowd start for the gate, and having nothing to 
look after, I started in the same direction to see what 
"Limber Jim at the gate" meant. 

On my way up the street along which we were 
marched in I was passed by the cleanest and best 
looking old prisoner I had seen. Everybody seemed 
to be trying to get out of the way of this man, whose 
tall, lithe, sinewy form, as he strode by me, caused 
me to think he was the limberest old prisoner I had 
met, whether it was Jim or not. Arriving at the 
gate, I found that this man really was '' Limber Jim," 



ENTERING ANDERS ONVILLE PRISON. 229 

one of the old regulators, wlio at the time was chief of 
the prison police, and that he was wanted at tlie gate 
to clear the way for the ration wagon, which was 
standing just outside. 

As soon as he liad made an opening through the 
famine-pinched crowd the inner gates were thrown 
open, which revealed in tlie small stockade a mule 
team hitched to an old wagon, in which were some 
greasy looking barrels. This wagon was driven in- 
side and started east on the street which led across the 
pen, and as it moved along it was followed by crowds 
of eager, hungry prisoners. At each narrow cross- 
street along the way it halted, and the sergeants in 
charge of the groups of nineties received the rations 
of corn bread and pea soup for their respective 
companies. 

The bread was in cakes, or loaves, about two feet 
square and four inches thick. The soup was received 
in buckets which the prisoners had made out of wood, 
using strips of leather cut from their belts for hoops. 
Some carried their soup away in boots, others in boot- 
leg buckets, others in drawer and pantaloon legs, 
made secure at the bottoms, and which had become 
so coated inside from the sediment adhering to them 
that they leaked but very little. 

As each sergeant received the rations for his 
company he was followed off to his quarters by the 
men belonging thereto. There he divided the rations 
into four parts, and gave them to four other sergeants 
for distribution atnong as many different squads. 
These squad sergeants cat the corn bread up into as 
many pieces as they had men in their squads, and as 



230 ON WHEELS. 

the names or iiiiiubers of the men were called the 
final distiihution was made. Meat, wlien we had any, 
was distributed in the same way. Beans and mnsh 
were divided in many different ways. 

This ration wagon, Wirz's portable cupboard, was 
also Anderson ville's hearse, nsed to hanl the dead from 
the gates to the place of burial, as I was informed. 

On evenings when we drew meat, which was gener- 
ally poor boiled beef, about two or three ounces to each 
man, lively trading scenes would follow. Dozens of 
unsightly specimens of humanity in all manner of 
tattered garments could bo seen, with the different 
kinds of I'ations they had drawn, making exchanges 
as best suited the traders. The men who had lost 
their teeth from scurvy wanted soup, mush, or meal 
in exciiange for their hard corn bread. Those with 
dysentery wanted a soup bone or soup in place of 
their corn bread, and thus the trading was carried on 
until each man had done the best lie could for him- 
self. 

When our mess of seven drew rations that evening, 
not having any vessel but a two-pound peach or oyster 
can bucket, we hardly knew how to manage. But 
Charlie Paine came to our rescue with a piece of old 
red and brown colored damask, about twenty inches 
square, which lie had used as a handkerchief. This 
we soon converted into a soup tureen, in which we 
drew our cow-pea soup. It required four pairs of 
hands to hold up the corners and sides of this flexible 
tureen the lirst evening while we were getting our 
soup. After that we lapped the corners and secured 
them with wooden ])ins, and it was not long until our 



ENTERING ANDEliSONYILLE PRISON. ^Z'M 

improvised clisli could stand alniiL', and thus we used 
it all the time of our ])riton life for our soup and 
mush, iind during all that time the onlj' cleansing it 
received was an occasional scraping. 

I was very hungry that evening, but from the 
amount of bugs in the soup, hundreds of which I saw 
while helping hold the tureen, my rather particular 
stomach became as much demoralized as had my 
lower limbs on a former occasion. So I decided I 
would not eat any pea soup while a boarder at the 
" Wirz Hotel." But that evening I iished the peas 
out of my soup, took them in my hands and my corn- 
bread in my pockets, and went to the creek. Tlieiel 
washed my peas, losing a number of them in the 
process, and, when through, could hold all I hr.d left 
in one band. I then crushed every ])ea in a skirmish 
for bugs, in which I was quite successful, for evei-y 
pea but a dozen or so was full of them. I ate the 
good ones, but threw the rest away, and i:s fast as I 
tiirew them away they were picked up and eaten by 
an old prisoner, who, I thought, must be crazy. 

It takes some people quite a wliile to learn to eat 
oysters or some other articles of diet, but it only re- 
quired about three days for us new prisoners to 
change our minds about eating pea soup, and our 
daily increasing appetites, made keen by short rations, 
soon prepared us for all we could get, with craving 
for more. 

While at the creek that evening washing my peas, 
lying on the sand, I saw a prisoner dying just across 
the narrow stream from where I was. Xear by him 
were two skeleton prisoners almost naked, who were 



232 



ON WHEELS. 



quarreling about who should have the dying man's 
clothes, and, indeed, fought over it. Which of the 
two obtained the clothes I never knew, for when they 
came to blows it was more than I could endure, and I 
left. It was amid sucli scenes and horrible ex- 
periences that the curtains of our first night in 
Anderson ville closed around ns, bnt far deeper than 
the shades of the night was the gloom that settled 
down upon us. 




CHAPTER XXIV. 

Andersonville Experiences. 

fHE evening was warm and pleasant, and, as tlie 
stars came out one by one, all of us being weary, 
we lay down with the bare sand for our couch 
and our two blankets for a covering, a sad, hungry, 
and thirsty mess of boys. We had not yet learned of 
the wonderful Providence Spring, and, rather than 
drink the water from the filthy little creek, we had 
scooped out some shallow holes back from the stream 
a little ways and tried to drink the tepid, boggy -tast- 
ing water which oozed into them, but it gagged us 
quite as badly as the soup. 

We had not been lying down long when, in addi- 
tion to the wicked mosquitoes, which came in vast num- 
bers from the adjoining swamps, we w^ere attacked in 
force by the fleas and graybacks, which were in the 
sand by the millions- — I mean by the millions ! They 
seemed to relish the " fresh fisli," as new prisoners 
w^ere called, and, while they had pestered us greatly 
before retiring, now that we were down on a common 
level with them their crawling and gnawing nearly 
set us wild. 

It now seemed to me that all of my five senses, 
sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch, were so shocked 



234 OmV wheels. 

and oiih'aged that I could not possibly exist in that 
horrible place. Nor do I believe I could had not 
those senses in a great measure become blunted and 
so less susceptible to the many terribly obnoxious 
things that we came in contact with. Indeed, it was 
not long until we became so accustomed to our poor 
quality and scanty quantity of rations that our empty 
stomachs craved anything eatable ; and so accustomed 
to scenes of suffering and death did we become that 
they made less impression upon us than does the suffer- 
ing and death of dumb brutes now. 

About eight o'clock, as we lay there on the sand de- 
ploring our condition and trying to beat off the fierce 
and persistent attacks of insects, our minds were divert- 
ed from the skirmish for a few moments by the an- 
nouncement of the sentinels from their posts. First 
we heard: " Post numbah one, eight o'clock, and a-l-l-'s 
w-e-1-1 ! " A similar announcement was made from post 
number two, and so from all the others until the en- 
tire circle of forty-four had reported. This indicated 
to the officers in charge of the guards that none of 
them were asleep or neglecting their duty. 

I shall never forget my feelings when I lieard the 
voice of that first guard ringing out, "Post numbah 
one, eight o'clock, and a-l-l-'s w-e-1-1 ! " To me it 
seemed a hollow mockery, and that everything was 
all wrong instead of well; and so it ever seemed to me 
through all the months of my confinement there, 
which dragged so wearily by. 

Occasionally this cry would be varied a little, and 
to me it was a great relief when a guard would cry 
out : ** Post numbah foah, nine o'clock, and h-y-a-r-'s 



ANDERSONVILLE EXPERIENCES. 235 

y-e-r m-n-l-e ! " and the next one follow it up with, 
"Post nil mbah five, nine o'clock, and h-y-a-r-'s y-e-r 
r-i-d-a-h ! 

AVhen that first call of the night had gone the 
rounds of the sentinels, and its sound had died away 
from the lips of the last guard, tlie most of the pris- 
oners were lying down and the prison was compara- 
tively quiet. Then as we lay and gazed up into tlie 
clear, starlit sky, away from the misery by which we 
were surrounded, and were comparatively free from 
the sights and sounds which had so horrified us by 
the light of day, our nerves began to reassert them- 
selves, and we seven boys, none of us of age, began 
coolly and resolutely to look our situation in the face ; 
and there on the sand we talked the matter all over. 
But one opinion seeming to prevail among us, namely, 
that no man could live to get out of that prison who 
should become broken spirited, abandon hope, or lose 
his grit, then and there I believe our nerves be- 
came as rigid as those of the most'Stolid Indian. Then 
we pledged to keep our persons as clean as possible, 
and to stand by each other in all that might befall 
us— a vow that was never broken. 

The sun was shining brightly the following morn- 
ing when we awoke from a night of restless dreamy 
slumbers. For boys unaccustomed to such sights it 
was well we had set our wills to firmly endure all 
while the shades of night curtained from our view 
the acres of misery by which we were surrounded. 
With no breakfast, the vermin constantly pestering 
us, and the sight of filthy, ragged prisoners, with old 
wcatherbeaten boards about fourteen inches wide and 



'236 ON WHEELS. 

eight feet long, going in all directions "ver the pen, 
picking up and carrying out the stripped and almost 
fleshless forms of those wiio had died daring the 
night, required the strongest nerves. Not less than 
thirty-five bodies were tlius carried to the gate that 
morning, and before night sixty stiffened forms had 
been placed there side by side on the sand. From 
there they were carried to the pinebough dead-house, 
previously mentioned. Then tliey were placed in a 
wagon and piled up as long as they would lay on, 
and hauled away to the trenches, about half a mile 
distant, and placed in their coffinless graves. This 
was a daily occurrence. 

During that month of October, 1864:, was recorded 
the heaviest death rate, in proportion to the numbers 
in confinement, of any month in the history of An- 
dersonville. This was occasioned by the fact that, 
becoming alarmed lest Shernum should release the 
prisoners, the authorities removed the bulk of the in- 
mates to other prisons, leaving the sick and more 
feeble ones at Anderson ville. During the month 
there were 4,208 confined in the prison, and out of 
this number 1,595 perished, an average of 51 a day. 

I have now given but a glimpse of the horrors 
which I w^itnessed during that month, and have only 
described a few cases that I saw the evening I entered 
the prison. 

Having nothing to eat that first morning in An- 
derson ville, and nothing to do but answer at roll call, 
fight insects, and take care of our small stock of pos- 
sessions, our quart cup, soup dish, and two blankets, 
and having heard of the Providence Spring, we left 



ANDERSONVILLE EXPERIENCES. 23 7 

one comrade to guard our position and possessions, 
while the rest of us made our way to where it was 
located, on tlie west side of the stockade, half way np 
the hiU toward the north gate, between the dead hne 
and the inner wall. The w-aters of this spring were 
conducted througli a trough under the dead line into 
a larger trough but a few feet within the dead line. 

When we reached the spring we found hundreds of 
the prisoners there, eacli very particular about drink- 
ing out of his own bucket, cup, cowhorn, boot, or 
bootleg, for. fear of catching the scurvy, which was 
generally considered hy the prisoners to be conta- 
gions. 

In order to reach the spring from the south side of 
the creek we had to pick our way to the small log 
foot-bridge which spanned the stream near the dead 
line on the west side, passing through a wilderness of 
low mud huts and tattered tents. The huts were 
made out of clay balls, and the tents of old army 
blankets, fragments of old clothing, oilcloths, etc., 
and seemed to be arranged in no particular order. On 
the north side of the creek hundreds of these huts 
and tents were vacant, a few only being occupied. 

There were no buildings of any kind w^ithin the 
entire inclosure excepting six long sheds with open 
ends and sides. These were located along the north 
end of the stockade within a few feet of the dead line, 
each having double rows of bunks. These were 
known as the hospital sheds. There were, however, 
but few of the sick in them, and this for several rea- 
sons ; the bunks having no bedding, not even a straw, 
were harder than the sand ; having no sides, and the 



238 ON WHEELS. 

roofs being high, the rains would drive through them ; 
then they were too far from the water, and from 
where the rations were issned, and from roll call, 
which all were required to answer every morning. 

The two great events of Anderson ville's historj^ — the 
appearance of Providence Spring and the hanging 
of the notorious six raiders — had occurred before our 
battalion entered. 

If you will now refer to the plan of the prison 
you can readily locate the spring. The cook house, 
you will notice, stands just outside the stockade, on 
the north side of the creek, between the two gates. 
The spring was directly opposite the cook house, 
inside the pen, between the stockade and the dead 
line. At that time I was not a professed Christain, 
but, like thousands of the prisoners, I then believed, 
as I now^ believe, that Divine Providence placed that 
spring there in answer to prayer. 

The reader can but faintly imagine the condition of 
things when, in tlie month of August, 1864, accord- 
ing to the report of a Confederate surgeon who was 
there and examined the prison, there were 32,899 
prisoners confined on 1,176,120 .square feet, a little 
less than six feet square to each. With the excep- 
tion of a few wells which the prisoners had managed 
to dig w^ith. old cans, half canteens, etc., and which 
afforded but little water, and a very poor article at 
that, the creek w-as the only source of supply for 
w\ater to drink. All over the grounds holes as deep 
as an arm's length had been dug and were us?d for 
sinks, as was the creek also. From these and the 
sewage from the cook house and the Confederate 



ANDERSONVILLE EXPERIENCES. 239 

camps above the water in the creek could not be 
otherwise tlian fonl and poisonous, and most terribly 
so after a big rain. 

Is it any wonder that the prisoners, compelled to 
drink this filthy water during the hot summer months, 
were dying by the hundreds ? or that they should 
pray for a supply of pure water? It was when the 
situation was at its worst, in that moTith of August, 
that this magnificent spring appeared and sent forth 
its ilow of the pure, life-sustaining beverage, not in 
scanty measure, but most copiously, supplying the 
needs of the entire thirty-two thousand prisoners. 

Its location was providential, being at a point 
where its waters could not become foul, where 
it was easy of access to all, where it occupied the least 
possible space of the limited grounds, and wdiere it 
was near the only thoroughfare which led across the 
creek north and south. Had it appeared on the op- 
posite or east side of the pen it would have been be- 
low the swamp, aiid hence where the impurities of 
the prison would have been carried toward it, and 
where it would have been most difficult of access. 
Every circumstance indicates it as sent of God as 
certainly as were the waters from the smitten rock in 
the wilderness to the famishing Israelites, and rightly 
has it been named " Providence Spring." 

To us prisoners it was a great boon, and you can 
imagine how much we relished and enjoyed its pure 
waters that first morning in prison ; and after fully 
satisfying our thirst we carried a bucketful to our 
sentinel comrade whom we left in charge of our mea- 
ger possessions. Many hundreds of times did our 
IG 



240 ON WHEELS. 

little can-bucket do similar service while we were 
guests at the " Wirz Hotel." 

That morning some of our mess got hold of three 
small tent stakes in some way, and four pegs for the 
corners. We then whittled out some little wooden 
pins, with which we pinned our two blankets together, 
and then set up our little tent, so that the lower 
edge of our blankets came within six or eight inches 
of the ground. Once up, we crawled under our 
shelter, and thus our blankets gave us protection from 
the hot sun duiing the day, while at night, still pinned 
together (it was the only way they could be made to 
cover all seven of ns), they gave us protection from 
the damp dews and chilly air. 

You can readily see that with seven of ns under 
the two blankets it was necessary for us to lie on our 
sides spoon fashion, and that when one got tired and 
turned over all the rest would have to turn with him, 
and lying on the hard ground made this movement 
necessary about every half hour. This constant shift- 
ing process was by no means easy on our scanty gar- 
ments, and every week bi'ought them nearer to the 
point of becoming threadbare. 

That first day I thought 1 would go to the creek 
and wash my shirt. Arriving, I found a number of 
old piisoners there indulging in the luxury of a bath, 
wlio advised me not to wash my shirt, for the reason 
that it would wear out fast enough without it. I ac- 
cordingly took their advice, and did no laundrying 
all the time I was a prisoner. 

The same morning, up on the street which led in 
from the south gate, I saw six old pi'isoners bucked 



ANDERSONVJLLE EXPERIENCES. 241 

and gagged, as a punisliment by our prison police 
for violating the prison rules. It is a sad comment 
on Immanitj that even in this prison commiinitv of 
comrades in blue there were found raiders — prisoners 
wlio would steal from their unfortunate mates if thej 
could. These men were some of these despicable 
raiders, and they were punished by having sticks tied 
in their mouths so they could not talk. Tlieir wrists 
were tied together securely and slipped down over 
the front of their knees, and, being placed in a 
squatting condition side by side, a small pole was run 
througli between their knees and elbows, and thus they 
were all strung out together. Such punishments, I am 
sorry to record, were not infrequently made necessary. 

The first night of our prison life one of the raiders 
stole a pair of shoes from one of our battalion. When 
the alarm was given several men started after the flee- 
ing thief, who, after crossing the creek to the north 
side, fell into one of the open wells there, which was 
about twenty feet deep. lie was left there until the 
next afternoon, when he was taken out by means of a 
rope made of blankets tied together. lie was not hurt 
much, and when taken out was given his turn on the 
pole, which had been worn smooth in such service. 

The second day we were in the prison was sunshiny 
and hot, and dragged wearily away. During the day 
we made several trips to the spring, and, besides, 
quite thoroughly explored and inspected the pen. 
"We could not see out of it except when standing 
on the upper hillsides at the north or south ends, and 
then only over the stockade at or near where the 
creek entered and left it. Over these places we could 



242 ON WHEELS. 

get a glimpse of tlie outside world to the extent, per- 
haps, of one hundred iicres. And, O ! how attractive 
it was to see the carpet of green grass, the tall pines, 
and men walking about in freedom ! The very birds 
which winged their flight over the prison pen caused 
ns almost to envy them of their freedom, and to wish 
for wings, that we, too, njight soar away. 

When rations came that evening we felt more in- 
terest in them than we had the evening before, and 
threw nothing avray except the bugs, :ind w^e all kept 
back a little for breakfast. This, however, wq ate dur- 
ing the night, and we were not long in finding out 
that our rations did us much more good Avhen we ate 
them all fur our evening meal, rather than try to 
make several meals out of wliat was not more tlian a 
third of one good one. Heserving any to eat the fol- 
lowing day left our dissatisfied stomachs craving what 
was left, and these gnawings greatly interfered with 
our sleep and rest ; whereas, with the cravings of our 
stomachs more nearly satisfied, we coidd sleep more 
soundly, and our rest, consequently, w^as mucli more 
beneficial, and we had need to conserve every par- 
ticle of vital energy we had while besieged by disease 
and death. So our mess, as did the majority of the 
prisoners, ate our rations soon after drawing them, 
and during the rest of the time made out on water 
as best we could, tightening up our belts as Ave grew 
more and more gaunt. My belt, being the breast 
strap from my knapsack, which I happened to have 
on the day I was captured, is the only article I have 
left that I wore while in Andersonville. 

After we had been in the prison a few days one of 



ANDERSONVILLE EXPERIENCES. 243 

our company, tlioiigli not of our mess, was taken out 
to work in the cook house, and was placed on parole 
for that purpose. By this arrangement lie went out 
of the pen each morning and came back at night, 
and when returning he would carry in pieces of wood, 
boards, etc. He gave me a piece of a board an inch 
thick and about six inches square, out of which, after 
several days' work, I succeeded in scooping a plate. I 
also made me a wooden spoon, and these, with my old 
jackknife, comprised my entire culinary outfit, which I 
zealously guarded all through my prison life. 

We had been in confinement but a few days when 
we settled down into the common humdrum, every- 
day life of prisoners, which, in addition to drawing 
and eating our rations, consisted in many tramps to 
the spring each day and one lively skirmish in search 
of vermin, during which each garment was turned in- 
side out, and every seam was carefully lingered over 
and every insect found exterminated. These occasions 
were sometimes playfully and quite appropriately 
called "knitting parties," and sometimes "skirmish- 
ing parties." The rest of the time, with nothing to 
read and nothing to do, we devoted to lounging and 
talking over and over our old stories of army experi- 
ences, until repetition wore them as threadbare as our 
clothing was worn by the sand on which we slept. 

AVhen talking over probabilities it was the prevail- 
ing opinion of our battalion that, on learning how we 
had fought to save his base of supplies. General Sher- 
man would arrange some special exchange for us and 
we would soon be given our freedom. But, alas ! " the 
wish was father to the thouo-ht." 



CHAPTER XXV. 

Removed to Millen Prison. 

N the evening of November 8 a Confederate 
^^^^^^ sergeant came into the prison and announced the 
welcome news that we were to be exchanged, 
and tliat Union ships were at Savannali awaiting our 
arrival. On the announcement of this news I made 
a spectacle of myself and gave a shout that was enough 
to alarm a Comanche chief. Old prisoners with pain- 
racked bodies, some of whom had been scheming, 
hoping, and praying for this ha]')pj event in that and 
other prisons for over a year, were wild with excite- 
ment, and wept and shouted for joy. 

Never before had I witnessed such a scene or passed 
through such an experience. Everybody seemed 
frantic over the joyous information. Men prayed, 
shouted, sang, wept, and hugged each other in their 
joyous frenzy. "Now for God's country," could be 
heard from many lips which had w^ell-nigh become 
sealed in death. Indeed, the news seemed to electrify 
the whole prison, even those w^hose lives had almost 
ebbed away, and if you had seen some Avho were in 
the procession the following day as they made their 
way out of the pen to the railroad, hobbling along on 
their old tent stakes, and supported by their stronger 



REMOVED TO MILLEX PRISON. 245 

comrades, jou would have thought it was ahnost like 
raising the dead. 

The 9rhof November, about 11 a. m., when it caiue 
our division's time to march out, all our mess had to 
do, ns we had not put up our tent that morning, was 
to unpin our blankets and roll them uj) and pick up 
our soup tureen, quart bucket, and wooden plates — a 
task onlj too simple for seven. As we marched out those 
old gates that morning we considered we were a lucky 
set of bojs thus to get out of old Wirz's clutches so 
easy, for, although our month's confinement had very 
much reduced us in flesh, and we were considerably 
weakened as comj)ared with what we were when we 
entered, yet none of us were down sick, like hundreds 
of others, too weak to walk to the train. 

On our way from the prison to the railroad we passed 
a group of some seven or eight ladies, who treated us 
with respect and gave some of the worst erases a few 
little sugar cakes. But I and my mess were too hale 
and hearty looking prisoners to draw any of the cookies. 
When we arrived at the railroad we were at once taken 
into box cars which were in waiting for us, and soon 
we were olf, headed toward Macon. We were packed 
into these cars as tightly as we could be jammed be- 
tween each other's knees, and sat in rows across the 
cars, facing the door from each end. This was very 
uncomfortable and had a tendency to make hungry 
men cross, and some brutal fights were witnessed in 
our car that day. 

We had not been running along over the rough 
road a great distance when some of the old prisoners 
in the car began to weaken in their faith about the 



24G ON WHEELS. 

exchange news. This was decidedly dampening to our 
liopes, for they said they liad been told they were going 
to be exchanged when they were taken to Aiidersonville. 
We reached Macon that afternoon about live o'clock, 
where for some purpose unknown to us we were 
switched onto a side track. While there Tony and 
Oliver, two of our colored cooks, from whom we had 
gotten separated at Columbus, found us and gave their 
old mess something to eat. They told us they thought 
Jack had been sent back to his old master. 

Just before the train pulled out that evening, a little 
after sundown, I was sitting near the car door by 
Henry Cowan, of Company A. He liad on an old 
Confederate suit of gray, and, his faith in the exchange 
matter being on the w^ane, he very slyly dropped out 
of the car onto the ground among the guards, and I 
soon lost sight of him in the fading twilight. Twenty- 
live years afterward, in July, 1SS9, in Springfield, 111., 
while returning with my family to our hotel from the 
State House, where we had visited Mcmoi'ial Hall, we 
stepped into a drug store to refresh ourselves with 
soda water, the heat being oppressive. As I wheeled up 
to the counter in my chair and received my glass from 
the hands of the clerk, I thought I could detect some- 
thing familiar in his countenance, and while 1 was 
drinking the soda water I located him. It was Henry 
Cowan, of whom I had lieard nothing since the day 
he jumped out of the car at Macon, Ga. You can 
imagine our hearty greeting and hand-shaking on this 
revelation. He then informed me that lie succeeded 
including the guards at Macon, and made liis way to 
our lines near Atlanta in safetv. 



REMOVED TO MILLEN PRISON. 247 

But a few minutes after Cowan left us the whistle 
blew juid our train lieaded eastward. I was awake 
nearly all night, getting only an occasional doze, and 
could see that we were running thi-ough a poor, sparsely 
settled pine region, and also that we were making very 
poor time. 

Just as the sun was making his appearance above 
the eastern horizon our train came to a stop in the 
midst of an immense pinery, and wbere, I had not the 
remotest idea. Here we were ordered out of the cars. 
I hoped it was for the purpose of issuing to us some 
rations, and that we would have an opportunity to 
get a drink and stretch our cramped limbs, which we 
had had no opportunity^ of doing since we left Ander- 
sonville. When we did get out we found our lower 
limbs so stiff that M^e had great difficulty in getting^ - 
them straightened out. Z^- 

As soon as we were all out of the cars, except a| 
few who had died en route^ and others who wer(^-« 
too feeble to alight, we were ordered to fall in line 
and were started into the woods. We had marched 
but a short distance, perhaps one hundred yards, 
when, to our dismay, right before us there loomed 
up another horrible stockade, which was known 
as Millen Prison. Just before entering this prison we 
noticed on the right side of the road near the gate 
three emaciated forms in the stocks. We passed within 
ten feet of them, and could see that they were fast- 
ened the same as those we had seen at Andersonville, 
neck, hands, and feet. They were all dead and were 
covered with a white frost. This siffht as we were 
entering another miserable log pen called a prison. 




248 ON WHEELS. 

coupled with our knowledge of Anderson ville horrors, 
sent our declining spirits down to the lowest degree. 

On entering the pen we found it very similar to the 
one we had just left, with tlie exception tliat it was 
comparatively new, and hence cleaner, and the creek 
which ran through it was several times as large as the 
one at Andersonville. Here we found some seven or 
eight thousand old prisoners who had previously been 
moved from Andersonville. Among them was John 
McElroy, afterward author of Andersonville j ot\ A 
Sto/y of JRehel Prisons. 

Our sufferings here were greater than they w^ere in 
Andersonville, for now frosty weather and cold rains 
had set in, and, our flesh, blood, and clothing all being 
thinner, our two old blankets afforded us but little 
protection as we lay on the bare ground, much of the 
time soaked to the skin and having very little fuel for 
fires. The rations here were but very little better than 
those at Andersonville. I do not know what the death 
rate was here, but it was fearful among the old prisoners, 
who, by the hundreds, almost naked and with no pro- 
tection, were compelled to lie on the ground in the 
November storms. I do not mean to say that none 
had protection, for some who entered the pen wdien 
it was new, when such things could be picked up in- 
side, had little shanties made out of pine boughs and 
slabs. But when we entered there was not so much 
as a splinter to be had without stealing or buying it, 
so that we and hundreds of others had to lie on the 
bare ground as at Andersonville. 

I was near the gate our first day there when rations, 
consisting of meal and fresh beef, w^ere brought in. 



REMOVED TO MILLEN PRISON. 249 

Instead of driving around through the pen with them 
as they did at Andersonville, the meat was issued that 
day at the gate to division sergeants, who called for 
men to carry the meat to the different quarters. Being 
close to the wagon, I took a small hind quarter that 
would weigh, perhaps, seventy-five or eighty pounds 
to carry to our division. It was quite a distance to 
where we were located, and I hardly ex])ected to 
carry the meat so far, but I thought that while it 
was in my possession I could secure a good chunk 
of tallow. Failing to get any wdiile I had it on my 
shoulder, after I had gone a little distance I fell down, 
managing to fall with the meat under me ; and, while 
struggling to get up with it, succeeded in pulling 
off a full half pound of tallow, which I stuck in be- 
tween my blouse and shirt, having left the former 
open for that purpose before starting. After securing 
the tallow and making an unsuccessful attempt or two 
to get up with the meat, I finally got up without it, 
and told our division sergeant I was too weak to carry 
it. He let me off with a reprimand for attempting 
to carry the meat and dropping it in the dirt, which 
I thought a very reasonable price for a good half 
pound of tallow. 

I did not say anything to my mess about my ex- 
ploit until they w^ere cooking their mush, w^liich was 
done by each taking his turn cooking it in the quart 
bucket. As this was being done I gave each one 
a piece of tallow about the size of a quail egg, 
with which to season his mush. My mess lauded my 
achievement as much as if I had been some great 
general w^io had gained an important victory. 



250 ON WHEELS. 

Wliile we were in Milieu Prison there was an ex- 
change of the sick ai:d disabled, and I suddenly be- 
came so lame it required two sticks for me to walk 
with, and I know I never tried so hard in all my life 
to appear sick. But my attempt failed, and I was 
ordered out of the ranks twice and told there was 
nothing the matter with me, which, in comparison 
with many others, was true. 

On one of these exchange occasions I saw in the 
ranks a huge bony giant. I believe if he had been 
straightened up he would have stood at least six feet 
and four inches in his bare feet. He had no clothing 
on him but an old ragged pair of drawers, which 
reached but a little below his knees. Between two 
other large soldiers, with his arms around their necks, 
resting his weight on their shoulders, he was being 
slowly walked out to the gate. He was nothing l)ut 
skin and bones. On his great bony hips a hat 
might have been hung, and I am sure I could have 
compassed liis wasplike waist with my two hands. 
How the man, in his condition, could live in that 
place at all was a mystery to me. 

One day while in Millen I was near the gate, just 
inside of which there were several guards watching 
a pile of meal bags. It was just a few days after Mr. 
Lincoln was elected to the presidency of the United 
States the second time — a fact which at that time we 
were not apprised of, though, I think, the Confeder- 
ates were, and felt crusty over it. Politics had been 
running high among the prisoners, and elections held 
had given Mr. Lincoln large majorities. One guard, 
as if endeavoring to raise his drooping spirits, and 



REMOVED TO MILLEN FBJSOy. 251 

dampen mine, as I tiiouglit, broke out on tliat occa- 
sion with tliis jingle : 

"Davis on a white horse, 

Lincoln on a mule; 
Davis is the President, 

And Lincoln Is a fool." 

Not knowing wlietlier Lincoln had been reelected 
or not this sentimental poetry rather nonplused mo 
for the instant, and the only retort I could make was 
that tliey would find out before a great while that 
Lincoln's mule couhl kick the hardest. 

But this reply did not seem to be relished by my 
Confederate friend any more than I had relished liis 
])oetry, and I was summarily ordered to shut up. 
Tliis I did, for we had orders not to talk to the 
guards, and to do so was dangerous. However, the 
way w^e two boys, Johnnie and Yank, eyed each 
other, like two sullen curs, gave evidence that we 
were willing to settle our part of the war right then 
and there. 

One night, about the first of December, a signal 
gun was fired fi'om the fort, and the guards were all 
gotten under arms. What it meant we did not know, 
but afterward learned it was because Ivilpatrick's 
cavalry, which M'ns with Sherman on his march to the 
sea, was heading for Millcn, and was approaching a 
little nearer than seemed safe. So, as they had run 
us from Andersonvillc to prevent Sherman from re- 
leasing us there, they were now going to hurry us out 
of Millen for the same purpose. 




^^■^ 



CHAPTER XXVI. 
Hkmoval to Blackshear Peison. 

tHE night was cold and dreary, and tlie rain 
was coming down in torrents, when, about 
4 A. M., a Confederate sergeant entered the pen 
and ordered us to get up and fall into line. 

We were soaked to the skin, and onr teeth were 
chattering when we got np in tlie dai-k and fumbled 
around on tlie wet ground in search of our few be- 
longings. We then fell in line and wei-e marched 
outside, where we were told there had been some mis- 
understanding before about our exchange, but that 
this time our vessels, without any mistake, were at 
Savannah awaiting us. 

Though we were taken out so early it was fully 
noon before the division I was in was packed into 
cattle cars as tightly as we had been in coming from 
Andersonville. Then we started toward Savannah. 
It had rained during the entire morning while we 
were waiting, yet we had no shelter and no fire by 
which to dry or warm ourselves, and as the tall pine 
trees were madly lashing their branches in the wild 
November winds the big cold drops of water as they 
came down in perfect sheets upon us seemed as if 
they would drive entirely through us. 



REMOVAL TO BLACKSHEAR PRISON. 253 

The guards liad been quite careless with us that 
morning, and it did really look as if we were going 
to be exchanged. Near the railroad track there were 
several large sugar kettles set up in the woods un- 
covered. The J would hold, pei-haps, one hundred 
gallons each, and were, as we passed, about two thirds 
full of hot mush. As we were going by them I 
broke ranks, and, taking my wooden plate, scooped 
up about a pint of hot mush, and with it got a badly 
burned hand. Many others, also, helped themselves 
to the mush in the same waj^, and the guards made no 
attempt to check us. 

After getting aboard the cars and thumping and 
pounding along over the rough railroad, if you could 
have caught a sight of us, soot-begrimed and huddled 
on the floor, as we ate our saltless mush and licked 
our burned and sticky hands, trying all the while to 
protect ourselves against the cold and pitiless rain- 
storm which was driving through the car, you might 
have taken us for a load of colored slaves just im- 
ported from the wilds of Africa and being conveyed 
to Southern plantations. 

The road was rough, the train long, and the breath 
of the old rickety engine short, so we did not reach 
Savannah, some ninety miles south of Millen, until 
the next morning about sunrise, where we were or- 
dered out of the cars and marched up into the city 
to a square, a number while on our way having 
perished on the trains, which were composed of flat, 
box, and cattle cars. 

It was not raining when we arrived, but it was 
cloudy, and a northeast gale from the ocean was blow- 



254 ON WHEELS. 

iiig, which, as we huddled around in groups with no 
iires, chilled lis through and through. Here we re- 
ceived three crackers apiece — imitation of United 
States hard-tack, but not so large or good as " Uncle 
Sam's." 

Dozens of generous, tender-hearted ladies, with 
baskets full of bread, sweet potatoes, and other pro- 
visions, visited us, but the heartless militia officer for- 
bade their giving them to us. These ladies, howevei-, 
told him thej had husbands and sons at the front, 
and that they were better Confederates than he, and 
paid no attention to his orders, but threw the pro- 
visions over the guard line to us, so that we felt we 
would much rather be guarded bj the husbands and 
sons of such women than bj such a wretch as this 
merciless militia officer. 

This act of kindness indicated that there were many 
witliin the bounds of the Confederacy who were con- 
siderate of others' good, and tender-hearted even 
toward their antagonists, and wns*a most timely bene- 
faction to us, for we had just learned that no vessels 
were there to receive us, and, being deceived again 
about our exchange, our drooping spirits, now almost 
crushed, needed something to brace them up. To 
me it was the worst disappointment I experienced, 
in the matter of exchange, during all my imprison- 
ment. The Confederates may have failed in their 
expectations about exchanges, but evidently with 
every removal they held out their promise, and thus 
deceived us in order to prevent any attempt on our 
part to escape and thus make it easier to guard us. 

The afternoon of that day we were marched to tlie 



EEMOVAL TO BLACKSUEAR PRISON. 255 

Atlantic and Gulf Kailroad in the city, and were 
taken aboard a train of old flat cars which experienced 
no little difhculty in getting nnder way, the old 
wheezy engine having more drj boxes and hungry 
Yanks than it was able to move i-eadily or keep undei* 
way on this, the rottenest, most dilapidated road we 
had struck in the Confederacy. 

This road, which seemed to be abandoned, or used 
but little, ran in a southwesterly direction alnioFt par- 
allel with the Atlantic coast, throui^h a flat, poor, 
sandy pine region, covered with swamps, and almost 
destitute of either vegetation or live stock. All we 
saw of the latter along these two streaks of rusty track 
were turtles, snakes, and alligators, such as could 
easily slide out into the adjoining swamj)s when their 
lazy lollings were disturbed ; excepting a few very 
small bony cattle, which looked about as poor as the 
small bunches of hard, dead, wiregrass at which they 
were nibbling, and a few pioneer razorback hogs, 
which looked as if they might be outlaws that had 
been run out of upper Georgia, where I had seen 
some YdYj good swine, by their more respectable 
neighbors. 

These razorbacks were of variegated colors, ranging 
from a dull red to black. They were sharp featured 
and of compressed frame, and nearly all that I saw 
appeared as if standing on their heads w^itli a pile of 
sand around them, which they seemed to bore out 
with a peculiar motion they had while lacerating the 
ground for something I never could see them get. 
The general impression that one would form from this 
animal's build is that he has been designed by nature 
17 



256 ON WHEELS. 

to loosen hard soil and slide through narrow crevices. 
From liis motion and the way he shoveled out the 
sand, he looked a good deal as if he might be a self- 
acting post anger and spade combined, and, if he had 
a pair of handles attached, that he would make an ex- 
cellent self-propelling garden plow. 

On this rickety, wabbly railroad no provisions 
seemed to be made for feeding or watering the " iron 
horse." Wiien he became thirsty he was halted near 
some stream or pool of water, and then the colored 
hostlers would climb down with buckets and supply 
him with water. When he became hungry he was 
reined up near some adjacent field, from which arm- 
loads of dry rails, or dry logs chopped and split up, 
were obtained and carried aboard for him to devour. 

On coming to the foot of a small grade he would 
seem utterly exhausted and unable to proceed, and to 
aid him we prisoners would have to climb down from 
the old flats and foot it to the top of the grade. 

These little foot excursions, however, aflforded us 
an opportunity for getting hold of something green, 
which we seized with great avidity. Scrub palmetto 
roots were pulled up for buds, from the lower end of 
which about a bite of a white tender substance could 
be obtained, with about as much flavor and strength 
as a piece of raw turnip contains after lying in the 
water over night. 

Thus we traveled by day and night for forty-eight 
hours to compass eighty-five or ninety miles. Finally 
the train came to a stop in what seemed the very 
heart of the pine forest, at a point called Blackshear. 

Why we should stop there I was at a loss to under- 



REMOVAL TO BLACKSHEAR PRISON. 257 

stiind, unless it was from sheer exliausticii. xso build- 
ings were to be seen, and, apparently, no provison 
had been made for our reception. AYe were marched 
out into the pine woods again as at Millen, and I kept 
looking for another duplicate of Andersonville, but 
none appeared. 

When we were brought to a lialt, about half a 
mile from the railroad track, it w^as on the bank 
of a good-sized stream in a body of tall, open 
pine timber. Here the guards and some artillery 
were placed around us. Stakes were driven down 
around the square we were occupj'ing to mark the 
dead line. 

Our grounds did not extend to the borders of the 
creek, but from the nearest point of the square to it, 
which was about twenty yards, a lane about twenty 
feet wide was staked off down to the stream, which 
was well guarded on both sides. This allowed us free 
access to the water. 

At Savannah w^e had eaten up our three small 
crackers and such provisions as the generous ladies 
had brought us, and we had not drawn an ounce of 
anything since we left there, forty-eight hours before. 
All I had eaten since leaving Savannah was the three 
or four palmetto buds secured along the way, and a 
turnip top which a guard had thrown away ; and 
when we arrived at Blackshear I w^as almost exhaust- 
ed from hunger and cold, and was but barely able to 
march out to camp ; and. there we were kept twenty- 
four hours longer without a morsel to eat. In the 
endeavor to appease our hunger we split up pieces of 
fat pine wood into splinters, boiled these in our 



258 ON- WHEELS. 

buckets and cups, and skimmed off the resin which 
raised to the top, and chewed it for gnm. This was 
evidently an injui-j to us, and in many instances was 
followed by severe pain. 

During the second afternoon there, which was the 
third day since we left Savannah, or seventy-two hours 
since I had eaten any rations, after drinking my fill 
of creek Vv^ater, being very weak and faint, I lay down, 
passed off into a stupor, and became unconscious. In 
this condition I certainly would have perished but 
for the fact that in an hour or so after I became un- 
conscious beef rations were issued, from which my 
comrades made some hot broth and poured down my 
tliroat with wooden spoons, I being entirely uncon- 
scious at the time. 

On that occasion I passed through all the pangs of 
starvation to the limits of consciousness as certainly 
as did any of my comrades in Andersonville or else- 
where, and I am confident that but for the timely 
ministrations of my faithful comrades referred to, 
and the tender watchful care " of Him whose eye 
never slumbers or sleeps," and without whose notice 
not even a sparrow falls, I never should have revived. 
By these, and these alone, my life has been spared, 
and I live to make this grateful record. 

At Blackshear we had plenty of fuel, the timber 
protected us from the winds, and as there was no 
rain while we were in camp there it was decidely 
the best place we had found in our prison quarters. 
After my starving experience I had the good for- 
tune to trade my old silk handkerchief for five or six 
good-sized sweet potatoes, which, added to my meager 



REMOVAL TO BLAGKSHEAR PRISON. 259 

rations, in connection witli our favorable situation, 
improved my physical condition quite rapidly. 

While here I witnessed, for the first and only time, 
tlie killing of a prisoner by a guard. This prisoner 
was a Pennsylvanian. He had been to the creek for 
water, and was returning up the guarded lane, and 
when he came to the mouth of the lane opening into 
the square he turned a little too short to the left and 
stepped just outside the corner stake, which was 
about a foot liigli. The guard, a heartless young 
militiaman, was standing about ten feet away, and so 
that the prisoner came between him and the corner 
stake. When the unsuspecting Pennsylvanian, re- 
covering from his mistake, had gotten two or three 
steps inside of our camp lines the guard threw his 
gun to his shoulder and shot the poor fellow in the 
back just below the ribs, the ball tearing an ugly hole 
entirely through his body. 

I was on my Avay to the creek at the time and was 
within twenty-five or thirty feet of the man when he 
was shot. I saw it all, and it made my very blood 
run cold. He was not killed instantly, and w^as picked 
up by his comrades and carried to their quarters, 
where he suffered for an hour or two in terrible 
agony, and then died. Let me say here that I do not 
believe that such horrible deeds as this would have 
been connnitted by soldiers at the front on either side. 
None but heartless cowards, who were never found in 
the bloody contests at the front, ever perpetrated such 
cruelties on defenseless prisoners. 

We had been at Blackshear but about a week when 
news came tbat we were going to be sent back to Sa- 



260 ON WHEELS. 

vaiiiiali for exchange, and eiglit or ten Imndred left 
us at that time for that point, much elated at being 
the first to leave and start for '* God's country," as 
they termed it. Those of us left behind expected we 
should follow as soon as tlie trains could make the 
trip to Savannah and return for us. In this, however, 
we were disappointed, and afterward learned that the 
first train load had been taken right through Savannah 
on their way to Florence Prison in South Carolina, to 
which place tliey liad, no doubt, intended to take us 
also, in order to keep us out of Sherman's way, when 
"Uncle Billy" and his boys interfered by entering 
Savannah. 

About this time General Sherman's movements had 
these prison authorities completely outwitted, and 
they were evidently puzzled to know what to do with 
those of us who were still at Blackshear. The Union 
forces having occupied Savannah, their principal base 
of supplies, it became a serious question as to where 
they should get provisions to feed themselves and 
prisoners. Furthermore, when Savannah fell it cut 
off their only route for getting us up into Carolina ; 
therefore, the only two things that seemed to remain 
for them to do were to hold us at Blackshear, and all 
starve together, or push farther to tlie southwest with 
us. They decided to do the latter. 




CHAPTER XXVII. 

Flying from Sherman. 

jTLJ AYING determined to move us in a soutlierly 
(i^-i^ direction, they took us over the same road on 
which we liad entered Blackshear to Thomas- 
ville, which is situated in the southwestern part of 
Georgia, reaching there the early part of December, 
1864.' 

Here they had made some preparation for us out- 
side the town limits by digging a deep, wide ditch 
around a square inclosure of four or five acres, 
covered with heavy pine timber. The ditch was five 
or six feet deep and too wide for us to jump across, 
the dirt from it being thrown up on the opposite side 
from our camping ground. Along this embankment 
guards were posted. At one place on the side next 
to the town a space wide enough for the ration wagon 
to drive over was not ditched. This was securely 
guarded by cannon. 

Thomasville was not a large town, but was quite a 
good looking one for southern Georgia. While on 
the streets of this place, before we were taken to our 
camp, I saw a man purchase a small raw-boned bay 
pony, paying for him twelve Inmdi'cd dollars in 
Confederate currency. I saw the money counted, the 



262 ON WHEELS. 

bills being mostly in denominations of two, five, and 
ten dollars. It was a large bundle of bills, and if 
they bad been hay or fodder they would have made 
the little scrub pony a pretty good supper, which he 
looked as if he needed. 

Tlie Confederacy at that time seemed to have more 
money, such as it was, than anything else. It vv'as 
then estimated as worth about five cents on the dollar. 
It was made on such poor thin paper, with such a 
sickly, ashen color, that it looked to me as if it might 
be in the Inst stages of consumption, and not worth 
anything as compared witli our government green- 
backs, which, with their rich green and red tints, 
looked as if they were backed by the whole vegetable 
and animal kingdoms. 

It was about noon on a raw, cloudy day when we 
arrived at Thomasville. On our way out to camp we 
passed a wagon containing crackers, which was backed 
up to the road, and as we passed by each man was 
handed three crackers, the same kind Ave drew at 
Savannah. When I drew mine I put them in my 
blouse pocket. Then I l^roke ranks, managed to 
elude the guards, made my way back past the wagon, 
dropped into the lines again, and as I marched by the 
wagon again I received three more crackers. This I 
did twice while the column was passing, and thus 
obtained nine crackers in all. This was the only 
successful flanking I ever did while I was a prisoner, 
and I tried it manj^ times. 

We reached our ditch inclosure soon after noon, 
and marched inside. We had not been there more 
than an hour when a cold rain and sleet set in. The 



FLYING FROM SHERMAN, 263 

guards threw over a lot of axes into the iiiclosure, so 
that we could cliop down the trees for shelter and 
fuel. I picked up one of these axes, hut a hig fellow 
jerked it out of my hands. Then the next best thing 
I could do was to watch the trees as they fell and run 
in and pick up limbs which broke off, and drag them 
to where one of our mess was in charge of our camp 
outtit, and of tlie brush and limbs as they were 
l)rought in. The other boys of our mess were col- 
lecting material for shelter and fuel in the same 
manner. 

While this work was going on, the prisoners being 
quite thick in the inclosure, several were killed, and 
others were wounded by tlie falling trees. I was 
among the latter. The end of a large limb, which 
had been broken from a pine tree about forty feet 
from the ground by a tall tree falling against it, struck 
my right side and broke three of my ribs, the ends 
of which, driven inward, punctured my right lung. 
This knocked me insensible, and my comrades picked 
me up and carried me to onr quarters, where Sergeant 
Will Close, one of my best friends, who had belonged 
to my former mess, took off the only pair of drawers 
he had, made a bandage six or seven inches wide out 
of them, and bandaged me up as tightly as he could, 
with the assistance of my messmates. This bandiigo 
was fastened together with wooden pins, and was held 
in place by strips runningover my shoulders, attached 
to it with the same kind of pins. In this condition I 
lay on some pine boughs, in the rain and sleet, for 
two days before I returned to consciousness, my only 
protection during this time being such as my mess- 



264 ON WHEELS. 

mates could make out of the brnsli and our two old 
blankets. This, however, did not keep us dry, for a 
part of the time there w^as a driving rain and sleet 
storm ; but having plenty of lire, when the storm was 
not too severe, helped us out some. During the time 
I was insensible my messmates kindly drew and took 
care of my rations for me. 

It was about a week before I was able to be up at 
all, and then I would not have been had not a Con- 
federate officer informed us that they Vvcre going to 
march us across the country sixty miles to Albany. 
lie wanted no prisoners to start who were not able to 
endure the march, for there would be no wagons 
along, and the route lay through an unsettled pine 
forest most of the way, hence there would be no means 
of caring for any who might give out along the I'oad. 
This placed me in a very critical situation, and my 
mess held a council over my case. It was certain 
they would all have to go. For me to stay behind 
with none of them to look afrcr nie w^ould be cei'tain 
death, the Confederates offering no assistance. Ac- 
cordingly, it was decided that I had but one chance for 
life, and that was to stick with my mess and try to 
make the trip with their assistance. 

It was an icy morning toward the latter part of 
December when we broke camp and started on that 
long march. I was still so weak that I had to be sup- 
ported the greater part of the time between two of 
my comrades, and my side and punctured lung were 
so inflamed that every step I took I suffered as 
severely as if a knife had been thrust into them. 

The second day on this trip, about 10 a. m., we 



FLYING FROM SHERMAN. 265 

came to a creek, the water in wliicli was about waist 
deep, and was covered with ice at least a half inch 
thick. The creek was not very wide, and across it 
two large trees were felled for the guards to walk 
over on, the prisoners being required to ford the 
stream. As I approached the stream and saw my 
comrades passing through the icy water, from the 
way my side and lung were paining me it seemed to 
me that if I should go in I should perish. I then 
foolishly broke ranks "without asking permission of 
the guards and stepped upon the log between two of 
them as they were crossing over. It was with great 
difficulty that I balanced myself at all on the log, and 
could not walk fast enough to keep out of the way of 
the guard behind me. I had not taken more than 
four or five steps over the creek when the one im- 
mediately behind me, who was carrying his gun at a 
right shoulder shift, gave me a push with the butt of 
it in my back, and knocked me headlong into the 
water. The blow with which I was struck took the 
breath out of me, and, although I was a good swimmer, 
I M-ent entirely under the water and nearly strangled 
before my comrades could get me out. 

The weather was freezing cold at this time, and my 
clothing soon froze on me, as did that of all who got 
wet. I was now so nearly exhausted and so racked 
Avith pain from my wounded side that my comrades 
were required to almost carry me the remainder of 
the day, wdiich they kindly did. 

The moon was casting her first faint, silvery beams 
through the Southern forest, and the tall pines, 
fantastically festooned witli long gray moss, were 



266 ON WHEELS. 

gently nodding and moaning above us with ghostly 
sounds, when we went into camp for the night, and 
all the prisoners were so completely worn out that it 
seemed as if we could not have gone a step farther. 

Our camp was bountifully supplied with fallen 
pine, and we soon had rousing fires against logs fed 
with rich pine knots, the warmth of which soon 
thawed us out and dried us off. 

That evenino^ some of the cattle which had been 
brought along for the purpose were butchered, and 
when the beef was issued to us we made some salt- 
less soup, which, together with our friendly fires, very 
much revived us. 

At these camps we were always counted as we 
went in and as we came out. At this one, the situa- 
tion appearing favorable, some of the boys dug holes, 
got into them, and were covered over with brush and 
dirt during the night by some of their comrades. The 
next morning when we were counted out of camp five 
or six of the prisoners were missing. 

The officer, not wishing to detain the entire com- 
mand (the dodge being one to which he had become 
accustomed), secreted a few guai'ds around the de- 
serted camp to await developments, while we pressed 
on. As tliese secreted Yanks, when they thought all 
were at a safe distance, resurrected themselves one by 
one, theee guards arrested them until they had all the 
missing prisoners. Then, taking our trail through 
the woods with their Yankee prey, they overtook us 
about noon, and, althouii^h we were all sufferino: more 
or less, and felt sorry for the boys, we could but 
laugh at their failure and woe-begone appearance. 



FLYING FROM SHERMAN. 267 

During tlic morning of the day before we reached 
Albany we passed by the only pkntation of any con- 
sequence we saw anywhere along our trip. There a 
lady, one of God's own jewels, who had in some way 
learned that we were going to pass by her place, came 
out to the road, at her front gate as we passed, having 
with her three tidily-dressed slave women, and all 
four of them were loaded down with baskets and 
large pans full of boiled sweet potatoes, which she 
wanted to give to ns. This the Confederate major 
who was in command, whose name I well remember, 
but withhold, refused to allow her to do, and when 
she insisted on carrying out her wishes this rude and 
heartless officer cursed her, and told her she was not 
loyal to the South, ordering her back into the house, 
and the guards to take the sw^eet potatoes, which they 
did, and not one of them did we get. However, 
when she got inside of her gate she gave this 
cowardly, inhuman wretch a scoring which was far 
more cutting than was his profanity. 

She did not hesitate to tell him that he was a 
coward, or he would not be where he was ; that her 
husband and son were in the army, and if she had 
any more sons they would be there too. To us 
starving prisoners she said she had a son who was a 
prisoner at Camp Duncan, 111., and if any of our 
mothers should see him in our condition she hoped 
God would put it into their hearts to give him some- 
thing to eat, as he had moved her to give to us. Had 
it been in our power we would gladly have placed 
that precious boy in his mother's loving arms. 

Reaching Albany the next day about 9 a. m. we were 



268 ON WHEELS, 

lialted for a short time just outside the town beside a 
stream of water which flowed from a spring some 
twenty-five or thirty feet across, and which looked as, 
if it might be iovtj or fifty feet deep. Within tlie 
open space where we were halted there was a feed lot, 
containing a little over an acre, in which corn-fed 
cattle had been kept. We had no sooner halted than 
our company of starving prisoners, ready to devour 
anything eatable, climbed over the fence into tliis lot 
to obtain the corn which had dropped over the ground 
from the cattle. Considerable quantities were thus 
secured, some getting as much as a half pint or more. 
Before eating this, however, it was taken to the creek 
and washed, and when tlius cleansed it tasted much 
like unhulled hominy about half boiled. This strange 
repast was scarcely finished when we were ordered 
into line, and were then marched to the Macon and 
Albany Railroad, taken aboard a train of box cars, 
and headed toward Anderson ville, some sixty miles 
north, where we arrived the afternoon of the same 
day. 

We had now been out of this dreadful prison just 
a month and a half, and, iu the meantime, had swung 
around a circle of five hundred miles to prevent 
Sherman's forces from releasing us, and during that 
time there was not a place where we camped but was 
strewn with the bodies of our comrades who had died. 
During our sixty miles' march from Thomasville to 
Albany many perished on the waj^, and I am of the 
firm belief that the sufferings on that long march, 
during those bleak December days, through those 
forests and swamps, taking the half naked and starv- 



FLYING FROM SHERMAN. 



269 



ing condition of onr men into account, are unequal ed 
in tlie annals of our country. Considering my 
weakened condition and my severe wound, how I 
ever endnred the trip is a mystery that eternity only 
can unfold. 




CHAPTER XXVIII. 

Again in Andersonville. 

|)c:^NTEEING the Wirz Hotel tlie second time on 
Christmas Eve, December, 24:, 1864, we found 
tliesame old Lmdlord tliere to receive lis. But 
we had been buffeted around so much by him and others 
we had become somewhat calloused, so that his blus- 
ter and profanity now did not seem to affect or alarm 
us as it had done before. Even going through the 
great gates into the pen, from which it now looked as 
if I had less prospect of getting out alive than I had 
before, did not seem to horrify me as tlie same thing 
did on my first entrance. 

Arriving inside of our old quarters, we found that 
the landlord had just cleaned house. All our old tent 
stakes, pegs, etc., had been picked up and thrown 
over between tlie dead line and the inner stockade, 
all the mud huts torn down, spooning holes tilled up, 
and the twenty-five acre floor freshly plowed, but not 
swept nor even harrowed down. 

We had not been inside fifteen minutes when a 
prisoner, reaching under the dead line, near the creek, 
for some tent stakes, was killed by one of the guards. 
I did not witness this, but heard the report of the 
gun, and some of my mess saw the man after he was 



AGAIN IN AXDERSONVILLE. 271 

shot. An ounce ball and three buckshot had torn a 
liole through the upper part of his body an 1 killed 
him instantly. 

While we Jiad been out of this prison on our tour 
two sheds, each about thirty feet wide and one hun- 
dred and fifty long, had been built inside the prison 
on the south side of the creek. These, unlike the 
ones on the north side, stood lengthwise north and 
south. They had no bunks, the ends and sides were 
open, and about all tJie protection they afforded was 
from the sun and from a straight downpour of rain. 

It appeared that Wirz, in putting up buildings for 
his guests, could never get it into his head that we 
needed more than a roof or a wall. If he put up a 
wall he left off the roof, and if he put up a roof he 
left off the w^all. His style of architecture, however, 
had this redeeming feature, namely, it afforded us a 
bountiful supply of fresh air, the only life-giving and 
life-preserving element he allowed us to have in un- 
stinted measure while we boarded with him. 

We had been in the pen but a short time that 
Christmns Eve when the wagon drove in with rations. 
We each drew a half pint of cold mush and two or 
three tablespoonfuls of some kind of concoction 
called vinegar, which was made out of sorghum mo- 
lasses, and was intended as an antidote for scurvy. 
A few times while there we drew about the same 
quantity of sour water which came off of fermented 
meal, and was designed for the same purpose. 

That night my mess M'as placed in with the Tenth 
Division, which was not fortunate enough to get under 
the sheds. These new sheds stood in the southwest 
18 



272 ON WHEELS. 

corner of the stockade lengthwise with the slope 
Our mess had quarters near these and within live or 
six feet of the dead line. 

The evening we entered the second time was 
cloudy, raw, and blustery. At iVlbany, knowing that 
we were returning to Andersonville, and tliat wo 
should need tliem, while on our way to the raih'oad 
we picked up chips, sticks, and pine knots, and carried 
as many into the cars with us as tlie guards would 
permit. As niglit came on a cold rain set in, which 
soon turned to sleet. Our chips, sticks, and pine 
knots came into good play, and, splitting them up into 
little splinters about the size of ordinary leadpencils, 
we built us small individual fires which we crouchecl 
over and protected as best we could with our bodies. 
In order to save fuel we fed our fires just enough to 
keep up a little blaze, over which we held our aching 
liands, which, together with all exposed parts of 
our bodies, were smarting, for the sleet was almost 
like hail and was driving against us Avith stinging 
force. 

The suffering and agony of that Christmas Eve 
in that prison pen can never be told. The cold 
mush that we drew and ate in the evening seemed as 
nothing in our gnawing stomachs, and the vinegar 
seemed as if it had turned to aquafortis and was con- 
suming our very vitals. AVe were so benumbed from 
the cold and pelted with the driving sleet it appeared 
as if we should freeze and tliat the flesh would be cut 
from our bones before the dawning of the coming 
Christmas morning. Men moaned and groaned and 
shrieked all over the south side of the pen where we 



AGAIN IN ANDERS ON VILLE. 273 

were congregated, as if in wild accord with the cold, 
fierce, dark nii^-ht and with tlie warrin<2: elements. 

About 11 p. M. we became so exhausted that we 
could sit up no longer, and we Avere forced to lie 
down on the newly plowed ground now thoroughly 
soaked with water and turned into a mixture of clay 
and sand-mud and covered with sleet, which, as it 
melted from the heat of our bodies — having nothing 
under us — stuck to our clothinor on all sides, for we 
were compelled to turn frequently from side to side 
during those awful hours. 

My recollections of that terrible night while lying 
in that mud and sleet, with no protection but our tw^o 
old blankets, are vivid, and I recall it as the most hor- 
rible experience in all my prison life. We lay 
spooning as closely as if glued together with the mud 
in order to keep w^arm. I doubt if we lay in one po- 
sition to exceed iifteen minutes any time during the 
night, when some one of tlie seven, being full of pain, 
would have to change position, and that would neces- 
sitate a change for all. Every time we spooned to 
right or left, and especially when my wounded side 
was down, it seemed as if it would take my life, and 
I believe that but for a quart of blackberry bush and 
corn soup that I made and ate at Albany the previous 
morning — all I had to eat the entire day except the 
mush and vinegar mentioned — and the fact that the 
boys kindly let me sleep near the middle of our 
group, I should liave perished, as indeed manj^ did. 

During this awful night of woe death reaped a rich 
harvest, and Christmas morning, wliicli should have 
been the brightest and happiest of all the year, ra- 



274 ON WHEELS. 

vealed the stift'eiied forms of tliose who perished dur- 
ing the night in greater numbers than I noticed at any 
time afterward, and the monarcli tliere seemed to be 
the king of terrors rather than the Prince of Life. 

Toward niorning the weather turned colder, the 
rain and sleet ceased, and it froze to some extent, but 
bj 10 A. M. the sun appeared and thawed everything 
out, and from its warming rays and the lieat of our 
little fires we got pretty well dried (^nt by night, and 
the mud scraped off. 

That Christmas Day, 1864, with empty, craving 
stomachs, wliile we thought and talked of the dear 
ones at home, tilled stockings, rich presents, roasted 
turkeys, mince pies, and fruit-cakes, we were at 
work — thousands of us in the south side of the stock- 
ade, busy as beavers in the mud — constructing mud 
huts out of clay balls and digging out ''spooning 
holes," as they were called, with our hands, half can- 
teens, old cups, and })ans. 

The rain had only wet the ground as deep as it w^as 
plowed, and by night our mess had completed an ex- 
cavation two feet deep, five feet wide, and eight feet 
long. With the dirt which we took out of this exca- 
vation we made an embankment all around it on the 
outside, which made it about three and a half feet 
deep and gave us a good protection from the cold 
winds. After a time we obtained tent stakes, and 
then we could cover our mud hut over with our 
blankets, which would turn off most of an ordinary 
rain. The blankets we kept up during the daytime 
only, excepting when it rained, taking them down, 
when dry, at night for a covering while asleep. 



AGAIX IX AXDERSONVILLE. 275 

Scores of mornings tliey were covered with frost. 
Indeed, a number of times during that winter while 
we were at Andersonville the little creek running 
through the prison was frozen over so tliat it would 
bear a man. 

When our Christmas dinner was brought in that 
afternoon we all quit work for a short time. That 
day each prisoner received three or four ounces of 
cold boiled beef and a chunk of coarse unsalted 
corn bread about two inches thick and some four 
inches square. 

The sun, at that time one of our warmest friends, 
the coming of whose bright beams cheered us in 
the morning, and the departing of whose rays de- 
pressed us in the evening, was rapidly sinking in the 
west. The December air becoming quite chilly, we 
all needed something with which to warm ns np, so 
in the absence of any warm rations to eat or drink 
we improved our Christmas repast somewliat by re- 
moving the thick upper and lower crusts from our 
coi-n bread, which we toasted brown by our little fires, 
broke up into small bits, and in our can bucket each 
made for himself a quart of smoking hot Anderson- 
ville coffee. This w^e drank and ate, giounds and all, 
and I venture that no tea, or chocolate, or coffee 
drank in any ^N'orthern home that Christmas evening 
was relished as we shivering prisoners, huddled around 
our little fires sipping our warm beverage out of our 
black buckets, cups, wooden plates, or cow horns, did 
our improvised Andersonville coffee, all the while 
slowly nibbling our cold beef and corn bread so as to 
make them last as long as possible, and the meanwhile 



276 ON WHEELS. 

talking over the probable features of Christmas dinners 
at our homes and wondering if we should ever live 
to join the dear ones again on these festive occasions. 

At that period of the war neither the Federal nor 
Confederate authorities were willing to exchange 
prisoners on the terms the others offered, and it 
seemed to us that in the midst of this bitter contest 
the die of death was cast against us by both friend 
and foe. But we well understood the desperate situ- 
ation, and that eitiier many precious lives must be 
sacrificed or that of the nation. Hundreds and thou- 
sands of as brave men as ever trod tlie eai'th were in- 
carcerated in Andersonville and other prisons, and 
literally starved and rotted to death that our benign 
government, the grandest and best of the ages, founded 
by Washington and his noble band of compatriots in 
precious blood, might not i3erish from the face of the 
earth, but be pei'joetuated as they left it, a strong, 
united country, a refuge for the oj^pressed and a 
terror to oppressors. 

Desperate bravery in the midst of the carnage of 
tlie battlefield is a great quality in a soldier, but the 
quality of patient endurance under privation and suf- 
fering, without the inspiration of battle, is a still 
higher virtue. Add to this the will and nerve to 
yield up young, hopeful life in loving devotion to 
country by a tedious, torturing death — a death often 
lingering through months of captivity, months when 
the brave prisoners slept on the bare cold ground and 
saw their hands and feet becoming unjointed and 
rotting off, when, too, by taking the non-combatant's 
oath they might obtain liberty and life, but deliber- 



AGAIN IN ANDERS ONVILLE. 211 

atelj and resolutely deciding to endure all in true 
loyalty to their government — this, I say, constitutes an 
exhibition of determined bravery and self-sacrilicing 
patriotism that never has been and never can be ex- 
celled. 

The Confederates offered us three ways by which 
we might be released from confinement in Anderson- 
ville. The first was by parole to work outside in the 
prison hospital or cookhouse and in burying our dead. 
Comparatively few, however, were required for these 
purposes, and those accepting this parole were not 
considered ti'aitorous in so doing, but were respected 
by their comrades. The second was by taking the 
oath of allegiance to the Confederate government, 
which involved taking up arms against our govern- 
ment. I remember but three or four whom I saw go 
out for this purpose, and they were under guard, or I 
believe they would Jiave been lynched by their com- 
rades. As it was they were jeered and called " gal- 
vanized Yanks." No doubt some who took this oatli 
did so with tlie view of making their escape to our 
lines after reaching the front. But such "galvanized 
Yanks " had little prospect of escaping in this way, 
for they were scattered about in tlie Confederate 
army where they could be well watched. The third 
metliod was by taking the noncombatant's oatli. 
This required neutrality — that is, the individual tak- 
ing this oath thereby agreed that he would not enter 
either army, but was bound himself to make no at- 
tempt to escape and to work for the Confederate 
government in some capacity. 

The Confederates were quite eager for our men to 



278 ON WHEKLS. 

take this oath, particularly artisans such as blacksiiiitlis, 
wagonmakers, tailors, shoemakers, etc. These would 
have been valuable acquisitions to the Confederacy, 
and in many instances would have taken the place of 
Southern men, who would have been armed and sent 
to the front — men wdio would have made better sol- 
diers than the "galvanized Yanks." 

As this oath offered liberty and life to the prisoner, 
with exemption from risk of battle, the young reader 
will understand that the refusal to take it involved a 
rejection of its proffered liberty and life on the one 
hand, and, on the other, acceptance of starvation, suf- 
fering, and not improbable death. 

During the time I was a prisoner I saw Imndreds 
and thousands reject that oath and thus accept the 
inevitable and yield to severest sufferings and a most 
dreadful death, actuated by the most exalted patriot- 
ism and most unswerving devotion to the nation. 




CHAPTER XXIX. 
Diversions of Prison Life. 



FTER making tlie most of our Cliristmas rations 
we resumed onr work on our " spooning hole '^ 
with renewed energy, and we finished it by 
starlight about 8 o'clock in the evening. 

After a trip to the spring — for it was always 
customary to fill up on water before retiring for the 
night — we all lay down in the bottom of our newly 
prepared quarters, spooned together as closely as 
possible, covered with our old blankets, and found 
ourselves much more comfortable than we were the 
night previous, when lying in the mud and sleet with 
no protection from the cold wind. This hole in the 
ground was our home as long as we stayed at Ander- 
sonville. 

If old Wirz had come around about that time 
with a spade when we seven boys were lying so 
snugly in the bottom of our excavation, with the dirt 
banked up around so conveniently, I am afraid he 
would have been strongly tempted to entomb us and 
thereby deplete the number of his free boarders. 

Not oftener than every twenty or twenty-five days 
during that winter each prisoner was ])erinitted to go 
out, under guard, to carry in wood, going about a 



180 



ON WHEELS. 



quarter of a mile for it. It was astonishing to see the 
great logs brought in by some of the bojs who looked 
as if they could scarcely stand on their feet. 

When any of our mess went out for wood he would 
fill up his pockets, and between his blouse and shirt, 
with pine needles, until we obtained of them a cov- 
erinir about a half an inch thick for the bottom or 
floor of our spooning hole. This n^^ade a decided 
improvement over the bare ground for a couch on 
which to rest. 

Several times during tlie winter we were driven out 
of our spooning hole by heavy rains filling it with 
water. At such time many of the mud huts caved in 
on their occupants, often completely entombing and 
smothering them. One morning, after a terrible 
nio-ht of rain, I saw one which had stood near our 
quarters in such a collapsed condition, with three 
pairs of feet sticking out of the mud and water from 
the front end. These men had scooped out a hole 
and set up a small ridge-pole with other poles leaning 
against it. These they had thinly thatched with pine 
boughs covered with clay about six inches thick. As 
this i-oof became saturated with water it was heavier 
than the little ridge-pole could bear, and, sleeping 
with their heads at the rear end, when it fell in on 
them they were entombed and smothered to death. 

;Now that winter had set in we were rid of two 
pests, namely, flies and mosquitoes, and had the ad- 
vantage, to a certain extent, of two others, the fleas 
and graybacks, which the cool weather made more 
sluggish and hence much more easily captured. 

h\ order to protect our pine-needle bedding each 



DIVERSIONS OF PRISON LIFE. 281 

morning it was carefully gathered up and placed in 
one corner of our den, where it remained until bed- 
time, when it was very carefully and evenly spread 
out again. While gathering up our bedding we care- 
fully examined QWQYy square inch of ground on the bot- 
tom of our spooning hole in our search for vermin, 
and we never failed in findino^ and killino^ hundreds. 

Prize fights, which occurred quite frequently down 
on the flat near the creek, were quite a source of 
amusement for tlie prisoners during that winter. The 
stakes were usually a, few chews of tobacco, and why 
men would pound each other up for such insignificant 
and worthless things was a puzzle to me. The 
principals and seconds in these encounters were 
always too particular and deliberate to suit me. The 
contestants were usually city toughs who seemed to be 
posted on the rules of the prize ring, and often they 
would consume an hour in doing the work I had seen 
accomplished in a rough and tumble fight up in 
Illinois in five minutes' time. 

Occupying a part of one of the long sheds near us 
was a squad of twelve or fifteen AViseonsin Indians, 
who always seemed interested in these prize fights, 
but never more than two of them attended them at a 
time, and as soon as the contest was ended the two 
would return to the shed and repeat it for the amuse- 
ment of their comrades. I always followed them at 
such times, and considered their performances the best 
part of the show, for their gesticulations and the 
grimaces of their comrades were always very comical, 
especially their big grunts after a good play by one of 
the contestants. 



282 



0.¥ WHEELS. 



Singing and speech-making was anotlier of our 
pastimes. These were frequently led by a short, 
heavy-set old man, who went by the name of 
" Baldy." This sobriquet was given him on account 
of his bald head. But if that smooth pate, fringed 
with a circle of gray hair, possessing piercing black 
eyes, and whicli sat on his shoulders like a bald eagle 
on a mountain crag, was bald on top it was not by any 
means a blank within, as his singing and patriotic 
speeches evinced. At such times he never failed to 
collect about him large crowds or to keep them awake. 
I remember one afternoon in particular, when old 
^'Baldy" seemed to get unusually warmed up, while 
he had several thousand of us ragged, emaciated 
prisoners around him nearly splitting our throats sing- 
ing " Rally round the flag," that the guards on the 
south side of the stockade seemed to become ex- 
asperated at this patriotic demonstration in a Con- 
federate prison and ordered us to desist and disperse, 
threatening to fire into our assembly in case we did 
not. Who this old man was I never knew, but he 
was an Illinois soldier, for I met him in July, 1865, 
at Springfield, 111., whither we had gone to be dis- 
charged. 

Another prison diversion was that of making crazy- 
patchwork, and it would not be surprising if some one of 
the inmates of Andersonville should turn out to be the 
inventor of the kind so much in vogue in these days, 
for the stitches, material, and shape of prison patches 
were all on the crazy order. An outfit for the w^ork 
was a bone needle, hand made, thread raveled from a 
piece of a meal bag foraged from a ration wagon, or 



n I VERSIONS OF PRISON LIFE. 283 

otherwise obtained, and old rags for crazy patches 
taken from the bodies of dead comrades. 

I remember one fellow who stole two meal sacks, 
out of which he made him a pair of trousers, the seat of 
which he decorated with a piece of old wool carpet 
eight or nine inches square, and which had a large 
red rose in the center. Where he ever gathered that 
wool bouquet I never knew, but he always said that 
he was no common boarder, but one of the gentle- 
men who occupied the parlor bed room at the Wirz 
Hotel. 

After we had been back in Andersonville the second 
time about two months the scurvy attacked me, and 
oftentimes from that on until our release this terrible 
disease and my severe wound would get the advantage 
of me. Indeed, I was frequently so helpless that my 
mess would have to draw and prepare my rations for 
me and protect me from the ravenous insects. I was 
the youngest by several years of my mess, and they all 
treated me with the same tender care and gave me 
the same kindly attentions they would have extended 
toward a younger brother. 

Sometime in January, the sleeves of my blouse 
being completely worn out, in some way my mess- 
mates obtained the red and green linsey lining out of 
an old blue overcoat and made me a new pair of 
sleeves out and out. 

One sunshiny day in January AVill Gross, one of 
my messmates, being very hungry, decided, since it 
looked as if spring was opening, that his system 
needed something within more than protection from 
without, and, having the best coat of our mess, he 



284 ON WHEELS. 

concluded lie would try to trade it to one of the 
guards for some meal. Accordingly lie started out 
and soon found one avIio said lie would give liini a 
haversack full of meal for the coat, which Will had 
pulled off and was displaying by holding it up as near 
the dead line as it was safe to approach. When the 
bargain was concluded the guard told Will to toss the 
coat over to him, and he would throw the haversack 
and meal over into the stockade to Will. So, rolling 
his coat up and tying it in as small a compass as possi- 
ble with the sleeves. Will tossed it over to him. 
After the guard went down and picked it up from 
where it landed he kept Will in suspense for several 
minutes, then, returning to his sentinel stand with the 
haversack, he pitched it to Will, who, on picking it 
up, found it to be full of sand. 

Seeing he had been deceived and robbed of his coat, 
he plead with the guard to take his haversack back 
and return the coat, but this the guard refused to do 
and ordered him to leave if he didn't want to get into 
more serious trouble. AYill looked quite dejected 
when he returned to us without his coat, carrying in 
its stead the old limp haversack minus the meal. 

One afternoon near that time, becoming almost 
frantic for some salt with which to season my mush, 
for we were not drawing a particle nor did our little 
ration of boiled beef contain any, I cut the three brass 
buttons off of my blouse, which at that time were 
considered worth five cents, and traded them to a 
guard for a teaspoonful of coarse salt, which was also 
valued at the same price. The exchange was effected 
on this w^se : I tied the buttons together with a 



DIVERSIONS OF PRISON LIFE. 285 

raveling nnd tossed tlieni up to the guard in Ijis percli, 
and lie tossed the salt down to me tied up in a small 
rag. 

Toward the latter part of January I met with a 
fine opportunity to supplement my scanty rations for 
a few days. It was at a time when several hundred 
new pi'isoners came in, who had been captured at 
Franklin, Tenn. While en route to Andersonville 
they had been held a few weeks at Meridian, Miss., 
and while there had been pretty well fed, receiving 
among: their rations meat from the oifals from a 
slaughter house. The first evening they drew rations 
at Andersonville among them was some boiled beef, 
the bones of which they threw away. Seeing this I 
was not slow in improving this unusual opportunit3\ 
Indeed, without waiting for them to throw the bones 
away, I engaged four or five good soup bones from 
the men as they drew tliem, which they turned over 
to me as soon as they had eaten the meat from them. 
Some of these bones were richer than, and worth 
double, the meat which was issued with them, and 
afforded us richer dumpling soup fur a few days than 
I ever ate before or afterward at Andersonville. 

The dumplings I made out of my meal ration by 
working it into a stiff dough and rolling it out into 
little balls about the size of quail eggs. These little 
meal marbles, cooked with the broken up soup bones, 
and without any salt, tasted so very vei^y delicious 
that 1 was never more positive of anything in my life 
than that, if I should live to get home, I would have 
my mother cook some for me. Indeed, I thought 
they were far superior to any fiour dumplings cooked 



286 ON- WHEELS. 

in cliicken soup that I had ever tasted, and that it 
must have been an oversight in my mother that slie 
had never tried tliem. But, surprising as it may 
seem, when I got home where there were mills full of 
meal, I never had my mother try her skill on Ander- 
son vi lie dumplings. 

The new prisoners referred to gave us our first 
news of the result of the Altoona and Franklin bat- 
tles, whieli we received with lusty cheers. But, as 
these prisoners had been captured tlie 30th of 
November, two weeks before Sherman started from 
Atlanta on his march to the sea, we were still in 
doubt as to his whereabouts, for the Confederates had 
not informed us of the fall of Savannah. 

Among the new prisoners who came in at this 
time was an acquaintance of mifie from Naples, 111., 
by the name of Hiram Rader, who belonged to 
Company B, Twenty-seventh Illinois Infantry. The 
first night he was in the pen near midnight a raider 
stole something from some one near the gate. He 
was detected just as he was starting off with his booty, 
and immediately the alarm was given : ^' Raider at the 
gate !" '^ Hi," as he was called for short, happened to 
be awake at the time, and, hearing so many calling his 
name, supposed he was wanted at the gate to be ex- 
changed or to receive some important news. He 
hurriedly bounced up and started in that direction as 
rapidly as his long legs could carry him. But he had 
not proceeded very far on his starlit journey among 
the old prisoners, who were always on the alert for 
running raiders, especially at night, until he found 
himself sprawling on the ground with several piles of 



ni VERSIONS OF FBI SON LIFE. 



287 



old bones on top of him, holding him down and call- 
ing at the top of their voices for the police. He had 
a difficult time explaining to these detectives how he 
could be a Rader in Andersonville and not be a thief, 
and ever after, while a guest at the Wirz Hotel, he 
was very cautious about answering to his surname, 
and especially at night. 
19 




CHAPTER XXX. 

The Fate of a Beefhead at Andersonvtlle, as 
Witnessed by a Boy Prisoner. 

jT^URING this, to me, never to be forgotten 
^^; winter of 1864—65, several regiments of Con- 
federates on tlieir way to the front were camped 
for several days at Andersonville, and during this 
time liad fresh beef issued to tliem, the lieads and 
offals of which were issued to the prisoners inside the 
stockade. 

During this stay of these Confederate regiments 
the company of ninety to which I belonged two days 
in succession drew one beefhead minus the tongue 
for its meat ration. Each head war. taken chai'ge of 
by the sergeant who had command of our company 
and divided into ninety equal parts, or as nearly so 
as it was possible for human ingenuity to get at it 
without the aid of a food cliart, giving the relative 
value of brains, eyes, bones, horns, and hide, as com- 
pared with beef flesh. 

The sergeant had a board which he kept on which 
to divide our rations, and I shall never forget watch- 
ing him as he dissected these heads on that board. 
He had a puzzled look, as with an old case knife he 
taxed his ingenuity in skinning and dividing the 



FATE OF A BEEFHEAD AT ANDERSONVILLE. 289 

] leads into ninety different parts so as to be fair 
for all. To add to liis perplexity, we ninety starving, 
emaciated prisoners in our wretchedness encircled 
liim, keenly scrutinizing the operation and intensely 
impatient at his slowness. 

The skin once off, an old ax was borrowed and the 
horns w^ere knocked off. Then the eyes were dug 
out, with from a half inch to an inch of the eyebrow 
attached to each, and, after all the meat was taken off 
that possibly could be, the head was broken up and 
the brains taken out. The manual part of the task, 
Avliich had proved to be no easy one, was now about 
over, but the difficult part of all, the scientific division 
of it, yet remained. To determine for ninety starving 
comrades the relative nutritive value of bones, brains, 
eyes, horns, meat, and hide was, I surmise, one of 
the knottiest problems our sergeant ever tried to 
solve. The meat and the brains he eyed with an intelli- 
gent and confident expression, and seemed to say to 
himself : " I know what meat is, and have heard that 
brains are very rich, worth, ounce for ounce, about as 
much as the marrow in bones ; these the boys can cook 
with a spoonful of meal in their blickers and have 
quite a relishable, nutritive dish." But when he 
picked up a bone, eye, or horn, and looked at it or 
turned the hairy, bloody hide over and examined it, 
the intelh'gent and confident look deserted him, and 
one of perplexity mingled with uncertainty spread 
over his smoke-begrimed face ; and, shaking his puz- 
zled, shaggy pate in a vain endeavor to arouse some 
dormant idea to his aid, you could read on his coun- 
tenance : " Comrades, I want to do the square thing by 



290 ON WHEELS. 

every man, but I never dealt out sucli rations before, 
and I am at a loss to know the relative nutritive 
value of these different parts, and if I did know it 
how can you cook these horns and large pieces of 
jawbone which you cannot get into your quart cups ? " 

However, he finally got a starting point by laying 
the horns and eyes on one end of the board, calling 
each one a ration. The brains were 'then placed 
alongside of these in little piles containing one and a 
half or two ounces each ; next came small piles of 
meat containing an ounce or two each with bones, the 
larger tlie bone the less the meat ; next were several 
large pieces of jawbones with the teeth in them, and 
with scarcely a trace of meat on them ; finally the 
hairy and bloody hide, including the ears, all pretty 
well sanded, was then spread, mapped out with his 
knife several times, and then cut up into two-inch 
square pieces. ]N^ow, the head, which was not a large 
one, for cattle are small in that country, was divided 
into ninety rations as nearly equal as the sergeant could 
get them. 

Tins miniature meat market, wdth its meager fur- 
nishings and impoverished customers, was an odd-look- 
ing affair. There was the old weather-beaten board 
counter, about six or seven feet long and ten or twelve 
inches wide, lying flat on the sand with the divided 
rations dotted over it, but destitute of either scales or 
cash drawer, the grim prison-pinched butcher squat- 
ting beside his counter with case knife in hand, in- 
specting his precious stock, taking away a little here 
and adding a little there, then recounting to make 
sure there were the ninety rations ; and, lastly, we 



FATE OF A BEEFHEAD AT ANDERSONVILLE. 291 

ninety penniless, starving, and lialf naked customers, 
with faces and all exposed parts of onr shriveled 
forms so heavily veiled with thick, black, sticky pine 
soot that, had oar mothers stood beside us looking for 
the boys they sent to the war, their keen vision coidd 
not have detected our identity, all eager for the 
market to open, but having no choice or preference 
of the divided stock when it was, made a grotesque 
prison picture I would to-day like to possess as a war 
relic. 

After the sergeant succeeded in dividing the beef- 
head into ninety rations they were then rearranged on 
the boai-d in four divisions, two portions containing 
twenty-three each and two twenty-two each, the 
only way the awkward arrangement of companies 
into nineties could well be suited, the rations still be- 
ing separate, and each of the four divisions contain- 
ing its proper proportion of the different kinds. 
The eyes and hoi'ns, which gave the sergeant the 
most trouble, were managed by balancing an eye 
against a horn, so that the portion receiving a hooker 
was minus an optic, and vice versa. The tedious hair- 
splitting division now over, except for the extra 
ration in the two groups of twenty-three each, our 
most critical prison judge would be slow to make a 
choice. 

The company sergeant now being ready for the 
four squad sergeants to cast lots for their sevei-al por- 
tions, we all gave back a little so as to enlarge the 
circle. The four squad sergeants stepped forward with 
smaller boards in hand and stood waiting to receive 
their portions. Squads one and two had twenty-two 



292 ON WHEELS. 

meip.bers eacli, squads three and four had twenty- 
three each. Tliat there miglit be no possible unfair- 
ness, a comrade was chosen w^io turned his back toward 
the company sergeant and the rations. To this one 
who was willing to turn his hollow eyes away from the 
board for a brief time, the sergeant said : '* We wdll 
decide one and two first." Then resting the point 
of the faithful old case-knife on one of the boards 
containing twenty-two rations, he inquired : " Which 
shall this be ? " to which the chosen comrade re- 
sponded : '' Number two." The other board containing 
twenty-two rations went to number one. The remain- 
ing two were disposed of in like manner to squads 
number three and number four. 

The trusted and patient company sergeant now rose 
slowly to his feet, his cramped, benumbed and scurvied 
limbs almost refusing to act. But he got up from 
his difficult task with the satisfaction of believing he 
had performed his duty faithfully and had fairly 
earned the extra ration wdiich he received for the 
labor of drawing and issuing rations for the company. 

The squad sergeants now stooped down and placed 
their boards alongside the larger one, and the four 
sets of rations were transferred from the latter to tlie 
former. The large board was handed up to its owner, 
and as our squad sergeantsrose with their four w^ooden 
trays the weary, eager, anxious throng of depleted Yan- 
kees began to disperse, each group, like a pack of hun- 
gry wolves, following closely on the heels of the ser- 
geant having their rations. Arriving in front of our 
dens and spooning holes, we halted and formed a smaller 
circle around him. His board was now again deposited 



FATE OF A BEEFHEAD AT ANDERSONVILLE. 29H 

on the sand, revealing to some of the weaker ones 
wlio could not get near the larger board, and who just 
brought up the rear, that our squad had received in 
our 23ortion a horn instead of an eye. Now another 
comrade was chosen to call off our numbers, and turned 
his back. The distribution was now getting nearer 
home to us. Were we eager before ? Our eagerness 
was now intensified tenfold. 

The boys and girls who read these lines may, if 
they wish, make a guess, as I did at that time, as to 
which was the best ration on the board, and which 
one they would have chosen had they been there. I 
picked out a little pile near the center of the board 
which looked as if it had more clear meat in it than 
any other. This I did not get, however, and if I 
had I should have been badly deceived, for there was 
one ration there, if no more, that was far superior to it. 

Each evening the beefheads were distributed when 
my number, fifteen, was called the sergeant's finger 
was resting on one of the two-inch square pieces of 
the hide, which was, perhaps, the poorest ration in 
the lot. The first ration of this kind I drew I hardly 
knew how to manage, but seeing an older comrade 
with a similar one squat down by a little fire and 
hold his ration over it until the hair was all singed off, 
and then keep on scorching it until he got it so he 
could bite it off a little at a time, I did the same. 
But, during the barbecue I felt indignant at the 
friendly fire for shrinking up my ration and lapping 
up the precious juice, which I was unable to save. 

When my ration was done my part of the beef- 
liead, as the result of the numerous divisions and of 



V94 ON WHEELS. 

the contractions made by the fire, was slirunlven and 
rolled nj) to about the size and shape of a cigar stump. 
It made just three small bites and was tough, but I 
have never tasted a sweeter morsel before nor since, 
and I chewed it at least an hour before I gave up to 
let the last of it slide into my pinched and collapsed 
stomach ; and, alas ! when it was gone and it was too 
late to remedy it, I ran across a more ingenious com- 
rade than the one I had patterned after, who had a 
ration precisely like mine, but had an improved 
method of cooldno: it. After sinij^eino^ the hair off of 
his piece of hide, he then scorched it but about half as 
much as I had niine, then he put it into a quart cup 
and boiled it with a little meal. He was just taking 
it out when I saw it, and I discovered he had actually 
gotten a little meat seasoning into his meal gruel for 
I could see little particles of grease floating around 
on top of it, and his piece of hide had swollen up 
until it was at least four times as large as mine, and 
it looked as if it might taste much better. You will 
not wonder then when I tell you that my stomach is 
at war with my brains yet for the inconsiderate method 
of cooking my beefhide ration that day. 

The next day, when I drew my small square of 
beefhide, I profited by the experience and observation 
of the day previous and followed the method of cook 
number two in preparing my meager meal, which I 
found a decided improvement on that of number one, 
and resulted in a little wholesome fullness under my 
belt which I did not experience the day before. 

My comrades who drew the large pieces of jaw- 
bone had a difficult contract on hand to make them 



FATE OF A BEEFHEAD AT ANDERSONVILLE. 295 

eatable, but they did, and consnined every particle of 
them. There was, however, but little marrow in 
them, and if there had been more they were so large 
they would not go into their quart blickers so as to 
get the benelit of it, and these were the largest cook- 
ing vessels they had. The best they could do, there- 
fore, was to sit around the small fires and charr the 
edge of the bones and gnaw the charred portions off, 
which they did until the bones were entirely eaten 
up. 

And now, boys and girls, have you made your 
choice of rations yet? And are you sure j'ou have 
the best ? Here it comes, a genuine prize package, in 
the shape of a horn, and wortli any four or five other 
rations on the board. No one knew its value until 
one of my messmates, Charles Harper, who drew 
a horn, let the secret slip out by boiling the horn in 
our blicker, one end at a time, until the inside, by a 
little jarring, slipped out, and was a genuine prize 
almost the full size of the horn, and nearlj^ all mar- 
row. Such portion of it as was not marrow was so 
soft, that, after being boiled, it could be readily eaten. 
The horn contained a quantity of rich, gluey sub- 
stance, which was scraped out and eaten, and the horn 
itself was left to charr and be eaten as the jawbones 
were, or to be made up into spoons or combs. This 
rich horn was by far the most valuable ration secured 
by any of my mess during the seven months we were 
guests at the Wirz Hotel, and excepting several 
blank days, the small square piece of hide was the 
poorest. 



CHAPTER XXXI. 



Last Days in Prison. 

'W^lIE very last prisoners who ever entered An- 
1^ dersonville were three liandsome looking sailurs, 
who came in the latter part of February, 1865. 
These " Jack tars •' were dressed in new suits of 
sailor blue, and wore pretty dark-blue Tain O'Shanter 
caps with black ribbon streamers reaching to their 
shoulders. The youngest one of them, a finely 
formed young fellow about twenty years of age, with 
a sweet, noble countenance, whose clear eyes were as 
deep blue as the sky, and whose wavy auburn hair 
crowned a shapely head, was one of the handsomest 
young men I ever saw. His complexion was as clear 
and fine as that of the fairest maiden, and his jaunty 
garb set it off ,to the best possible advantage. The 
few weeks before he and his suit became soiled and 
faded he was the admired of all and the prince of 
the pen. He looked about as much out of place in 
that filthy den, among us ragged, dirty, prisoners, as 
a fair Easter lily would in a frog pond, among tad- 
poles. Nor did it require a much longer time for 
him to wilt and fade than it would the fair lily, if 
plucked and thrown out on the muddy bank in the 
scorching sun. 



LAST DA YS IN PRISON. 297 

These sailors belonged to a man-of-war wliicli was 
anchored off the coast at Brunswick, Ga. The town 
at that time was deserted, bnt some Confedeiate mi- 
litia were secreted along tlie shore, two or three of 
whom left their guns with their comrades, went down 
to the beach, and waved a signal of di.<tress to the 
ship's crew. The captain observing tliis signal desired 
to rescue them if in need, but knowing there was 
dano^er attached to the undertaking he called for vol- 
unteers to make the attempt. In response to this 
call these three noble hearted fellows, ready to make 
sacrifice for any in distress, volunteered. On reach- 
ing the beach, however, where the men with their 
signal of distress were standing, the other Confeder- 
ates rushed from their ambush and took these sailors 
captive, and thus tliey were ruthlessly snatched from 
their proud ship and genial comrades and carried 
away to one of the deadliest of prison pens. 

These sailors brought us the news of tlie fall of 
Savannah and that General Sherman had started up 
into South Carolina. This we were glad to hear, 
but, learning that Atlanta was evacuated, we felt that 
we were a long way from our friends, with no possi- 
ble hope of release, and as they brought no news of 
exchange, the future looked dark and gloomy, indeed, 
to us. 

The severe winter and exposures were telling on 
the old battalion with fearful effect. Hardly a day 
passed but we would see some of our comrades on the 
dead pile, while others were becoming demented 
from their sufferings. To add to my troubles, by the 
middle of March the scurvy had broken out so badly 



298 ON WHEELS. 

all over me that neither mj shirt nor bandage could 
be removed, nor did I have either of them off from 
that time until after I was released. 

About the 1st of April, 1865, the Confederates 
began sending prisoners from Andersonvilleto Yicks- 
burg. Some of our battalion got out at that time and 
were on the ill-fated steamer Sultana^ which blew 
np on the Mississippi River soon after. The division 
to which I belonged at one time early in April re- 
ceived marching orders and went over to the railroad 
to board a train of cars which was in waiting to carry 
US to Yicksbnrg. On reaching the railroad, however, 
just as we were about to board the cars, a dispatch 
was received, stating that the Union cavalry nnder 
General Wilson had made a bad cut in the railroad 
near Selma, Ala., and that, consequently, we could 
not be gotten through that way. So we were 
marched back into the horrible old pen again. 

But while we were out we were halted by a corn- 
pen made out of pine poles, in which were eight or 
ten bushels of nubbin corn, and, while Wirz was 
foaming around and the guards were excited over the 
news, we improved our opportunit}^ by raking out 
every nubbin ; and when I marched back into the 
stockade seven or eight of them were stowed away 
between my blouse and the shirt, raking and scraping 
my angry scurvy sores. Wirz, for a wonder, was not 
wound up on the striking side that day, else, when 
lie missed the corn, lie would have cut off our 
]'ations*for a day or two to pay for it. 

General Lee surrendered on April 9. The war was 
then practically over, but we knew nothing of tlie 



LAST DAYS jy PBISON: 299 

event. President Lincoln was assassinated April 14, 
of which the guards, on the 16th or ITth, told 
lis, but thej gave us no information whatever about 
Lee's surrender. Thej had deceived us so often, 
however, that we gave no credit to the statement 
that Lincoln was murdered. 

The news of the collapse of the Confederacy they 
withheld from us, I think, to keep us from clamoring 
to be released. They evidently did not want to turn 
us loose on the country, and desired to keep us quiet 
until they could devise some way of getting us to our 
lines. 

Before President Lincoln was assassinated he had 
ordered a celebration at Fort Sumter to take place on 
the 14th day of April, 1865, just four years to a day 
from the time the fort was surrendered to the Confed- 
erate forces. The celebration, consisting of an oration X^*^* 
by Eev. Henry Ward Beecher, the raising by Brevet/^- ^ 
Major General Anderson of the same United Statesi ^ -v^ 
flag wliich he had so gallantly defended, and its salutes .^^ ^ 
from Fort Sumter and from every fort and battery '■oS*><"ep 
which had fired upon it in 1861, actually occurred on 
the day of Mr. Lincohi's assassination. 

But while this great national demonstration was 
going on we were still lying in Andersonville, entirely 
ignorant of the glorious victories our armies had 
achieved. It was April 18th or 19th, I think, when 
the Confederates told us to be ready the following 
morning to start for our lines. We hardly knew 
whether to believe them or not, but old Wirz being 
so easy about the loss of his corn, and the actions of 
the guards, made it appear to us that something un- 



300 ON WHEELS. 

usual had occurred. Still we did not allow ourselves 
to get very much excited, as we were afraid it would 
turn out to be another hoax. 

The following morning all who were able to hobble 
marched over to the railroad, and these were phys- 
ically the dregs of Anderson ville, excepting the very 
lowest sediment of prisoners who were unable to be 
moved and were left lying on the ground in the j^en or 
in the hospital. Scvei-al of our old battalion were in- 
cluded in this number, among them old Uncle Jimnue 
Yevers, whom I never expected to meet again, but who 
was found by our cavalry a day or two later, and who 
finally reached Illinois live or six months afterward. 

We had now been in Andersonville the second time 
from December 24, 1864, until April 19 or 20, 1865, 
or nearly four months. During this time we had 
a great deal of rain and sleet and freezing weather, 
and none of the time did we have one tenth enough 
fuel for cooking and warming purposes. Our rations 
all this time were very meager, also, barely sufficient 
to keep us alive. 

Our mess during all these lingering months of suf- 
fering occupied our spooning hole in the ground 
which we dug on Christmas day. Lying on the sand 
so constantly had by this time worn our clothes into 
shreds, and we were reduced to skin and bones. The 
most of US were covered with scurvy sores and with 
the sticky pine soot until we were black as Negroes, 
for we had not drawn an ounce of soap nor had our 
clothes been washed since our capture, for the reason 
previously mentioned, to prevent wearing them out 
thereby. 



LAST DA YS IN- PIUS OK 301 

At that time, in addition to my shirt and bandage 
being stuck to my back and chest with scurvy sores 
so that they could not be removed, the scurvy was 
also in my mouth and all over my limbs, particularly 
my lower limbs and feet. My left foot, which was 
the worst, was eaten to the bone. Had I not contin- 
ually forced myself to walk a little every day when at 
all able, and when not able stretched my limbs and 
worked mj joints, in two or three days' time they 
would have become so stiff I could not have moved. 
This stretching exercise was so painful it seemed as if 
it would almost take my life, and it required my ut- 
most resolution to do it. This, however, was neces- 
sary or I must give up walking, and to do that 1 felt 
meant certain death, for I had known ever since the 
first of April that the railroads were cut all around 
Anderson ville, and that to get awe^y from there at all 
would require a march through miles of swamps and 
forests in order to reach our lines in any direction. 

The weather now was fine, and my wounded lung 
and side, while yet very sore, had improved consider- 
ably since the mild weather of April had set in. 

The day we received word we were going out, ex- 
pecting we would have some marching to do, those 
who had shoes cobbled them up the best they could, 
while others made bandages for their feet out of old 
rags. At that time my shoes were worn and cut all 
to pieces, though some of the soles were left, for the 
last month of my confinement I did not walk much. 
The entire feet of my socks were gone, but the boys took 
the legs and made coverings for my feet out of them, 
and I made bandages for them and my ankles out of the 



302 ON WHEELS. 

lower part of my drawers' legs. Now, if yoa can im- 
agine the condition of mj old, limp rimmed Confeder- 
ate liat, my ragged trousers, and my blouse, with its red 
and green linsey sleeves now full of holes, my smoke- 
])egrimed face and hands, pinched frame, and matted 
liair, which had not been cut for over eight months, 
and consider my age, as I marched along with a stick 
for a cane in one hand and my square wooden plate 
in the other, in company with the other prisoners, all 
surrounded by gray-coated militia guards, you will 
have a true picture of the author of tliese lines as he 
appeared on that April day as we marched out of 
prison — a picture which is not overdrawn in any par- 
ticular. 

As we passed through those old prison gates I believe 
we emerged from one of the most horrible, ghastly 
places the world has ever known, and in comparison 
with which the old Spanish Inquisition would pale 
into insignificance. 

When Kemler was executed by electricity in the 
State of New York one of the chief new^spapers of 
Florida published a list of thirty different modes of 
execution which have been in vogue in as many dif- 
ferent countries. After carefully examining the 
article several times I could find no method of execu- 
tion presented therein the cruelty of which was any- 
thing like the torturing deaths that Wirz, in his 
barbarous treatment, produced in Andersonville ; no 
method but 1 would greatly prefer to some deaths 
which I saw there. 

Now, having reached the time of my departure 
from Andersonville, not expecting to have any occa- 



LAST DAYS IN PRISON. 303 

sioii to refer to it again, I wish to repeat with em- 
phasis that we prisoners — we wlio endured tlie tortures 
of this horrible prison — do not hold the Confederate 
soldiers or the great mass of Southern people in any 
way responsible for the barbarities perpetrated on ns 
by Wirz. This inhuman prison-keeper always entered 
the pen astride of an old sway-back gray mare, invari- 
ably carrying his revolver full of lead in his hand, and 
was always surrounded by an armed bodyguard on 
foot which, as he was seated on his horse, made him 
all the more conspicuous. The prisoners called him 
" death on a white horse." 

But before taking leave of this anti-fat sanitarium 
I must say a word in favor of its notorious proprietor. 
He never ran a bar in connection with his hotel, nor 
did I ever see a drunken boarder or a drop of intox- 
icating liquor on the premises while I was his guest. 
Still, I could not recommend his bill of fare or lodg- 
ing, and, besides, he had a most unsatisfactory way of 
claiming all the baggage of his boarders. 

Farewell, Captain Wirz ! Farewell, A^ndersonville ! 
20 




CHAPTER XXXII. 
Released from Prison. 

tHE glad day of our release from Anderson ville's 
liorrors had come. While Ave Avere on our way 
to the railroad that morning I had an oppor- 
tunity to talk a little with an old guard. He was one 
who, on our march across the country from Thomas- 
ville to Albany, noticing that I was a mere hoy and 
w^as severely wounded, seemed to sympathize with 
me, and advised me to take some kind of an oath and 
not reenter Andersonville prison, in case they should 
return with us to that place — advice against which my 
mind Avas steeled. But the old man gave it in a way 
Avhich indicated that he had some feeling for me and 
really Avanted to save my life. He knew I Avas so 
enfeebled physically that I could be of no benefit to 
the Confederacy even if I should take an oath and be 
released, and I hav^e ever appreciated his sympathy. 

On this, our last trip over to the railroad, he told 
me Lee had surrendered, and that the Avar Avas virtually 
ended, and that he believed we Avere going to our 
lines. This gave me renewed hope and made the 
Avalking much easier, but still there Avas a lingering 
doubt, for GeneralJohnston had not been heard from, 
and, in fact, his final surrender did not occur until 
five or six days later, on April 26, 1865. 



RELEASED FROM PRISON. 305 

When we readied the railroad we found several 
trains of box cars in w^aiting for us, with their engines 
headed south, and we at once boarded them and 
started toward Albany. As we steamed away from 
this place of misery and death in the ])ine forest, and 
the stockade, the bloodhounds, and the brutal Wirz 
were lost to view, I never expected to look upon tlieir 
hideous forms again. If w^e should, indeed, reach our 
lines I w\as sure I would not, and I knew I could not 
endure much more with the heavy odds against me, 
for, notwithstanding my hopeful nature and firm de- 
termination not to yield to the attacks of the enemy 
which was now fiercely preying upon me — the scurvy 
— yet' I could plainly see that it was literally eating 
me up. As w^e bade adieu to Andersonville that day 
I was sure that, even if we did not go to our lines, 
I should never live through another prison experience 
anywhere else to be returned to Andersonville, so I 
was: satisfied this was a linal adieu. 

If, however, it should prove true that we w^ere 
going to our lines I was determined I would summon 
my courage anew and all my remnant of failing 
strength in order to reach them, even though I should 
have to crawl, for I regarded this as my last chance 
for life and freedom, and w^as resolved that no bodily 
pain should defraud me out of the precious prize; and 
God only knows what I suffered on that journey. 

Arriving at Albany the evening of that day, we 
marched out of town and camped near the large 
spring beside which we were halted when we were 
there the previous December. This time, however, 
we were fed much better than usual, especially on 



306 ON WHEELS. 

corn meal. Tlie iiuxt morning we receiv^ed more ra- 
tions, and, after an early breakfast of mnsli, we started 
into the forest on onr former trail south, toward 
Tliomasville, reaching that place one evening four or 
five days from the time we started, and there we tar- 
ried over night. 

Up to this time the weather had been warm and 
fair, but that evening tlie angry clouds gathered, and 
I never saw a heavier rainfall than came down that 
night from 8 p. m. until about six the next mornincj. 
We were exposed to it all, and were soaked through 
and through, but it was a warm rain and so did not 
hurt us much. Tlie greatest trouble we experienced 
from it was in being broken of our rest, occasioned by 
our camp ground becoming flooded witli water. 

The morning after this rain we received better 
rations of crackers than we had ever drawn from tlie 
Confederacy ; and, breakfast over, we wei'e immediately 
started into the forest again in a direction south from 
Tliomasville, and, after wading through man}^ flooded 
swamps and swollen streams, we came out the next 
forenoon at a point on a railroad running from Talla- 
hassee to Jacksonville, Fla. Here we were soon 
])laced aboard trains and started eastward. 

This road was in bad condition, wdiich necessitated 
a slow speed, and lying by over night, so that w^e did 
not arrive at Baldwin, situated about twenty miles 
west of Jacksonville, until the following day about 9 
A. M. From this point to Jacksonville the railroad 
track had been torn up and the rails carried away by 
the Confederates, when they evacuated the latter 
named place. 



RELEASED FROM PRISON. 307 

Baldwin was a small station fortified by slight 
earthworks, and was as near to our lines at Jackson- 
ville as any of the Confederate forces were stationed. 
As soon as we arrived there we were taken from the 
trains, formed into line on the railroad bed east of the 
station, and there informed by the Confederate officer 
in charge of ns that he was going to remove the 
guards and leave ns to march into oar lines at Jack- 
sonville. Those were the sweetest words I ever heard 
fall from a Confederate's lips, and the man actually 
looked better to me than any Confederate I had ever 
seen. 

This welcome intelligence sent a thrill through my 
weak and emaciated body, now racked with severe 
pains from the hard struggle I had experienced in 
getting that far, which seemed to put new life, 
strength, and elasticity in every fiber, but the four or 
five minutes he was talking to us made it seem almost 
like an age before the guards were removed. 

Before this was done, however, he turned the com- 
mand of some three thousand prisoners over to one of 
our sergeants, with the instructions about marching 
us to Jacksonville, informing him that all he had to 
do was to follow the railroad track, and that we would 
be sure to find our friends when we reached there. 

The guards were then removed, and before our 
sergeant had time to give the order, " Forward ! 
Marcli ! " we all started off as rapidly as we could hobble 
or run. He tried to control us, but he had no more 
power to check us released prisoners and keep us in 
ranks, now that we were heading for life and free- 
dom, than a child would have in controlling a herd of 



308 ON WHEELS. 

cattle, and tliis was because we had been deceived so 
often. 

One moment we would think the Confederate officer 
was honest in what he said, and the next we would have 
our doubts and be fearful that he was going to de- 
ceive us again ; and so when the guards were removed 
we determined to get as far away from him as we 
could, and that if lie should attempt to throw the 
guards around us again we would try to make our 
escape by taking to the swamps on either side of the 
railroad. 

"While the officer was talking I stood, nervously and 
tremblingly, ready to start, like a boy with his toe to 
the mark at a foot race ready for the signal, only 
with an intensified eagerness on my part, as it was to 
be an effort for life and freedom. 

For the first half mile as I liobbled along as rapidly 
as I could go with the aid of my stick, I nearly 
twisted my neck off looking back to see if any of the 
guards were following. The first half of this distance 
I could see there w^ere none, but after that I could not 
tell but what there were some mingled with the 
prisoners behind me. Then my fears would cause 
me to press on until compelled to drop and rest for a 
few minutes. 

There were quantities of ripe blackberries growing 
along the sides of the railroad embankment, and when 
I would become exhausted I would manage to drop 
down by a bush, or a pool of water found in the ex- 
cavations from which the earth had been taken to form 
the railroad bed ; but, at such times, I would remain 
for a moment or two only, just long enough to catch 



RELEASED FROM PRISON. 309 

my breath, eat a few berries, or take a sip of the 
boggy water from these standing pools, which, at that 
time, abounded with snakes and alligators, then the 
thought of gaining the prize I had for so many weary 
months longed and prayed for, together with the fear 
that some of those I saw far back in the rear might 
be the guards coming, would incite me on, and some- 
times I would barely get settled for a little rest when 
I would struggle up again and push forward as 
rapidly as I possibly could. What my gait lacked in 
style was made up in variety. 

During this whole terrible trip from Andersonville, 
while marching through dense forests and wading deep 
swamps, my tortured body had been goaded on with 
mingled hopes, doubts, and fears, but now, as 1 neared 
the priceless goal, every milepost I put behind me 
seemed as a vanquished doubt or fear, and each one 
that I wearily approached seemed to beckon me on to 
liberty and begat within me a new and buoyant hope. 

About half an hour before sundown, that 28th of 
April, 1865, when the company of stragglers with 
which I was marching had approached to within 
about a mile and a half of Jacksonville, we saw a man 
on a horse ride out of the timber and stop on the 
roadbed about a quarter of a mile in advance of us. 
When he came to a halt he looked in our direction, 
and seemed to be shading liis eyes or looking through 
field glasses. 

He remained on the track but a moment or two 
and then rode o& into the pine forest to the right or 
soutli of the railroad. This greatly excited us, and 
put my heart all in a flutter. We could not discover 



:310 ON WHEELS. 

whether lie wore bhie or gray, and did not know 
whether to be sad or glad, whether to proceed farther 
or take to the woods. As for myself, my oppressive 
doubts and fears began to troop back into my mind 
more rapidly than the successive mile posts had 
driven them away. I rather believed that man was 
clad in gray and began to doubt that our troops 
occupied Jacksonville, and thought that possibly, after 
all, the Confederates were in possession of the city. 

While we were halted for a few moments, discus- 
sing the probabilities, I explored the interior of my 
cranium as carefully as its exterior needed going over, 
in an endeavor to rake up some idea about the loca- 
tion of Jacksonville and the probabilities of its being 
a favorable place for our troops to be stationed, but 
with my most careful search I could not remember 
the names and locations of any towns in Florida but 
the capital, Tallahassee, St. Augustine, Key West, and 
Pensacola. Jacksonville, so far as my memory 
served me, was a blank, as also it was with our en- 
tire squad. 

AVe were then in great trouble and hardly knew what 
to do. To take to the woods offered us some possibili- 
ties of escape, to proceed and run into a line of 
Confederates our doom was sealed. However, as the 
majority of our squad of thirty or forty felt tolerably 
sure tlie man we saw was dressed in darker garb than 
the Confederate gray, and as some prisoners who pre- 
ceded us had passed the point where we saw him 
cross the track without any commotion, so far as we 
could see, we decided we would proceed cautiously a 
little farther, and if we should then discover that our 



RELEASED FROM PRISON. 311 

comrades in advance of us, were in any trouble, we 
would break for the timber. 

I think my mind and nerves were never so wrought 
up as when we ventured to advance. Was it possible 
I should be cruelly robbed of life and freedom that I 
now felt was so nearly within my grasp, after all I 
had endured ? I hardly knew what to do. Hope 
seemed to impel me forward, while doubt and fear 
seemed as strong cables drawing me into tlie shelter- 
ing woods. 

When we had traveled along in this tortured state 
of mind for a short time, we came to the point where 
we had seen the unknown rider ; then, glancing to our 
right, we saw that same man not more than a hundred 
yards distant, ride out toward us from under some 
large live oak trees, which were heavily and beauti- 
fully festooned with long Spanish moss. 

Pen cannot describe our sudden transition of emo- 
tions as we passed from a state of killing suspense to 
one of supreme delight. The color of the rider's 
uniform settled the great problem of life or death for 
us ; and, O glorious revelation, it is blue ' He is a 
Union picket? officer ! See ! he puts spur to his noble 
steed and is dashing forward to meet and greet us. 
Ah ! never before did horse and rider look so grand 
to us prisoners as did this handsome young officer in 
Union blue, as he came dashing up to us on his noble 
bay Steed, with outstretched hand, to welcome us back 
to a nation's protection and grateful benefactions. 
Never before had I seen a uniform that appeared so 
beautiful or the countenance of man that seemed more 
noble and true. 



312 ON WHEELS. 

As lie approaclied I raised my old Confederate hat 
to salute him and then made an attempt to speak, but 
now that the strain of months of anxious solicitude 
was over my voice failed me and I gave way to sobs, 
the first I had yielded to for months. 

The voice of the noble young officer, also, was 
husky, and his eyes were dimmed with tears at the 
sight of our ragged and emaciated condition. In 
answer to our questions he informed us that the vrar 
was really over and the Union saved, and, notwith- 
standing our feebleness, we gave him a cheer. Then, 
with hearts lighter than air, we pressed on until we 
reached the city of Jacksonville, and for the iirst 
time during that awful trip did we seem to appreciate 
the beauty and fragrance of the blooming magnolia 
and the sweet, soft notes of the silver-tongued mockers 
as they warbled forth their evening lay. 

But hark ! what familiar strains are those which 
come floating to our ears on the soft evening air ? 
Ah ! they are the sweet strains of the inspiring 
" Star-spangled Banner," wdiich we had not heard 
played by a band for months, and the soul-stirring 
notes almost set us wild. To add to the. thrill of the 
moment, just then we caught our first glimpse of the 
dear old " Stars and Stripes " proudly floating at the 
masthead of a vessel lying in the harbor ; and, as the 
glorious vision burst upon our view, the old tune and 
flag seem to lift us to the very skies. The fruition of 
fond hopes realized burst asunder the tomb of fore- 
boding doubts and fears, and new joy came to life at 
a bound. Off came our hats, and we shouted, sang, 
and wept until we were hoarse and so exhausted we 



RELEASED FROM PRISON. 313 

could scarcely stand on our feet. My throat did not 
seem large enough nor my lungs strong enough to 
greet tlmt old tune and ^-.x^ in an appropriate man- 
ner. Indeed, I do not believe that any Americans 
were ever in a position to appreciate more fully the pa- 
triotic sentiment of that glorious national air and the 
ample protection guaranteed by that beautitul Union 
flag than were we released prisoners. 

To reach our lines after all the horrors of Ander- 
sonville Prison, to see these glorious visions and to 
hear cheering strains, these were as the effulgent 
brightness of a noon-day sun bursting with all its 
splendor upon our midnight of deep sorrow and 
almost utter hopelessness; and we were at once lifted 
from the valley of gloom and sadness to the highest 
mountain peak of joy and gladness. 

May the boys and girls of this fair land, by the aid 
of Him who presides over the destinies of all nations, 
ever keep that grand old flag, the red, white, and blue, 
floating to the breeze, a perpetual pledge of freedom, 
so long as the beautiful, many-tinted bow of promise 
spans the fierce storm-cloud, the Father's pledge of 
unending care and protection. 




CHAPTER XXXIII. 
The Eliss of Freedom. 

fACKSOJ^YILLE, at tlie time of our entrance, 
was p-arrisoned with three reo^iments of -United 
States colored troops officered by white men. 
Kone of the garrison were apprised of our approach 
until we began arriving at the picket lines. 

When the one hundred or so of prisoners who had 
preceded us reached town the colored troops were 
about as much excited as were we. Tlieir bands 
were brought out and they gave us a rojal reception. 

As we entered the city w^e met a colored sergeant 
witli an armload of fresh baker's bread, not less than 
two dozen loaves in all, which he intended to issue to his 
mess ; but when he saw our condition and how wist- 
fully we looked at the bread, passing scarcely a word, 
he began pulling off the loaves and handing them out 
to us, and continued until he gave us all he had, and 
the generous fellow seemed sorry that he did not 
have enough to give to all the prisoners. 

I received one of the soft, flaky loaves, which was 
the first wheat bread we had seen in seven months, 
except some rusty. Confederate hard-tack. When I 
received the loaf it looked as white as snow in my 
black hands, and, O ! how good it smelled. And 



THE BLISS OF FREEDOM. 315 

^vllen I began breaking it off and pnt it in my moutli 
it felt as soft as velvet to my sore and tender gums, 
and to my taste it was as delicious and refreshing as 
must have been the manna to the hungry Israelites in 
the wilderness. 

After receiviiig my loaf, in company with Theodore 
Maniley, another boy from Naples, 111., who has 
since died from the effects of his prison treatment, I 
left the squad of comrades we were with, and together 
we went to where we saw two old colored women 
near a little shanty. They were washing clothes and 
just beginning to prepare their evening meal. AYlien 
we approached they hardly knew what to make of 
us and could scarcely tell whether we were white or 
black. But after we explained who we were they 
kindly invited us to sit down on a log near by, and 
told us they would make us some coffee. We thought 
we would keep some of our bread to go with it, but 
when the coffee came the bread was all gone. We 
drank a quart apiece of the refreshing beverage, which 
gave our stomachs a satisfaction they had not known 
for months, the invio-oratinoj effects of which seemed 
to extend even to the entire surface of our bodies. 

While wo sat on the old pine log and chatted with 
these two kind-hearted old "aunties," they seemed 
about as much distressed over our terrible condition as 
did our mothers when w^e reached home. I shall never 
forget the deep pathetic feeling they manifested when 
addressing us as " po'r chillun," and saying, " Youse 
bof look like youse wuz dun beat out in dat ar' old 
prisun." 

After drinking our coffee we bade adieu to the old 



316 ON WHEELS. 

colored women and made onr way on, into and 
through the town, to tlie St. John's River, where we 
liad seen the vessel with the flag floating from its 
masthead. There on the bank the officers had cor- 
ralled several hundred of the prisoners, and soon a 
wagon with soap arrived and was backed up with its 
rear end to the street we were on, which led down to 
the river. As soon as it came we were marched bj 
the wagon toward the river, and as we passed it each 
man was handed a large cake of soap. AVe needed no 
further hint, and at once proceeded on down the 
sandy bank to the river, and there washed off so much 
prison dirt that it would not be surprising if it had 
something to do with the formation of the obstructing 
sandbar at the mouth of the St. John's River. 

As I could not get my shirt off I did not go into 
the river as hundreds of others did, but confined my 
first scouring to my face and arms and tried to loosen 
up my matted hair, though the latter was not much 
of a success. It w^as a great luxury, indeed, to wash with 
this, the flrst soap we had seen in seven months, and 
witli an unstinted quantity of water ; and after we were 
throuu'li for that evening: it had wroudit such a chano-e 
in our appearance w^e could scarcely recognize each 
other. 

Some had better success than others in this cleans- 
ing process, and while we wxre all of one color be- 
fore the bath, afterward, as we marched up the banks, 
w^e were of variegated hues, ranging from that of 
light quadroons to that of the darker coffee-colored 
Africans. The comical part of it was that nearly all 
were streaked with the dirty w^ater dripping out of 



THE BLISS OF FREEDOM. 317 

their long, sooty liair, for we liad not the sign of a 
wiping toweh 

After this introduction to the St. Jolm's we were 
marched out to the east of the town, on the river bank, 
and tliere corralled, to prevent stocking the place witli 
vermin, I presume ; and as we marched out to camp 
each one of us held on to his chunk of soap as if it 
were a nugget of gold. 

It was dusk when we readied camp. In a short 
time the colored soldiers began bringing us coffee and 
cooked provisions, and I ate and drank until I could 
not take another mouthful. Then, completely worn 
out and exhausted from the fatigue and the excite- 
ment of the day, I lay down on the sand to enjoy my 
first nio^ht of freedom. 

The sun of a golden morning had been displaying 
his resplendent glory for at least two hours before I 
awoke the following day. When I opened my eyes 
I found I was within a new, clean, white tent, the 
opening of which was gently swaying to and fro in 
the morning breeze. Lying with me in the same 
tent were several men whom I did not know ; and as 
I lay there on my back, gazing up at the snow-white 
canvas now flooded with mellow sunlight — tlie first 
time in nearly seven months I had awakened witli 
anything obstructing my view of the sky — for several 
minutes I was completely dazed and lost. I seemed 
as if in a dream, and could not think who or where I 
was. I was still more mystified when I noticed my 
clothing, for in some unknown way to me mine had 
been changed during the night. 

I think I lay there fully ten miimtes before my 



318 DN WHEELS. 

puzzled brain unraveled the mysterious problem. 
When the delightful revelation was unfolded to my 
mind that the awful struggle was over, and that I 
was actually safe within the Union lines and now in 
a government tent with clean clothes on and under 
the protecting folds of the Stars and Stripes, where I 
should starve no more, and would, no doubt, soon be 
home witli loved, ones, my cup of bliss w^as full to 
overflowing. 

Then I lay quietly for a few moments looking at 
the pure white canvas above me, made brighter by 
the soft golden sunlight, which to me made it look 
heavenly. While I thus lay enjoying the bliss of my 
first morning of freedom, in peaceful reverie, I drank 
long and deep at the fountain of liberty. To me it 
was as the panting hart that had found the quiet 
water brook where there was no enemy to disturb, or 
as the tired infant peacefully resting in its mother's 
bosom ; and, except Liter in life w^hen my troubled 
sin-tossed soul first cast anchor in a more delightful, 
the spiritual, haven of rest, these were the softest, 
sweetest moments of my existence. 

Durino; the niij^ht tents had been hauled out to our 
camp and put up by the colored troops, and we had 
been picked up promiscuously and carried into them. 

Many of the released prisoners became unconscious, 
some from sheer exhaustion, others from liquor which 
the surgeons brought out and ordered them to drink 
as a necessary stimulant in their enfeebled condition, 
and with which they had gorged themselves, some of 
them until they were in great misery. 

The surgeons and a large force of colored troops 



THE BLISS OF FREEDOM. 319 

worked hard all night with the worst cases, and then 
dozens of them died before morning. Among the 
latter was my true friend and former messmate, 
Sergeant Will Close, who robbed himself of his only 
pair of drawers in tlie dead of winter to make a band- 
age for me when I was wounded at Thomasville. It 
was sad, very, very sad, to think that these poor pris- 
oners, after all they had sacrificed and suffered, and 
were now at last landed within our lines, could not 
live to get home and enjoy the fruits of their suffer- 
ings. 

It was fully a week or ten days before some of our 
comrades w^ho had started with us from Anderson- 
ville ceased coming into Jacksonville. After leaving 
Albany, Ga., on that trip, we marched over one hun- 
dred painful miles, an experience that I doubt if any 
other body of prisoners were called to endure. There 
was scarcely a mile of the entire march but men fell 
out by the wayside. Many of these perished ; others 
followed our trail and finally reached the railroad and 
were forwarded to Baldwin, and from there made 
their way into Jacksonville on foot or were picked up 
by ambulances, which were kept busy this week or 
ten days carrying out provisions and bringing back 
loads of straggling prisoners whom they found strung 
out all along the twenty miles of road between Bald- 
win and Jacksonville. 

I think that that night, when the surgeons found 
m.e and discovered my condition, that before carrying 
me into the tent they must have administered to me 
some kind of opiate, and while I was under its in- 
fluence had my wounds and sores dressed and clean 
21 



320 ON WHEELS. 

clothes put on me. I knew the colored man who did 
the work and provided the clothes to put on me, for 
the next morning he brought me more clothes and 
bandages, an old pair of shoes and stockings, moss for 
a bed, and something to eat. 

When I awoke that first mornintr in the tent I was 
not able to get up, and for a week I was confined to 
the tent, during which time this good Samaritan took 
the tenderest care of me. 

The first morning, after a breakfast of fresh fried 
mullet, good coffee and bread, with an orange for des- 
sert, he relieved me of my matted locks, and after 
he gave my head a good scouring and combing it 
felt most delightfully clean and cool. 

That day a large number of kettles were brought 
out to camp, and those who did not burn their clothes 
gave them a good boiling. Those who had received 
changes from the colored soldiers — the only w^ay we 
had of getting them — burned their old ones. By this 
process we soon got rid of the pestiferous vermin. 

I was there a week before I was able to write a 
letter to the dear ones at home, whom I so longed to 
see. Then I got a teamster to let me ride with him 
down into Jacksonville and back, for I was not able 
to walk that distance. While the teamster was load- 
ing his wagon up with provisions, I entered the Com- 
missary Department and begged a sheet of paper, an 
envelope, and a postage stamp, and wrote a letter 
home. This missive, which simply bore the infor- 
mation that I had reached our lines and expected to 
reach home in a month or six weeks, was the first I 
had written since my capture ; and, on reaching liome. 



THE BLISS OF FREEDOM. 321 

I learned that \\\y parents had received that message 
as one from the dead, for they had heard of the lior- 
rors of Andersonville, and I, being so young, they did 
not think I could endure them. 

We remained at Jacksonville between three and 
four weeks, recruiting until we should be strong 
enough to be sent home. During this time the col- 
ored troops, both officers and men, did everything in 
their power to alleviate our sufferings. They gave 
us money, clothing, and fruits without stint, and 
while there, in addition to other rations, there were 
issued to us fish, vegetables, and oranges. The latter 
were especially beneficial for our scurvy, and wdiat 
delicious medicine they were to take ! 

After once reaching Jacksonville, it was very ap- 
parent we could not have been sent to a better place 
to recruit. The genial climate, abundant sunshine, 
balmy sea breezes, vegetables and fruits in abundance, 
were just what we needed, and enjoying them, to- 
gether with the faithful care we received at the 
hands of the kind-hearted surgeons and colored men, 
we did recruit rapidly, considering our starved and 
diseased condition. 

When the time arrived for our departure home, 
we were told that there was a large vessel lying at 
anchor out in the ocean at the mouth of the river, 
watered and provisioned, ready to take us to Annapo- 
lis, Md. This good news we received without ques- 
tion, and we gave a shout of gladness, for we were 
now eager to be off for home. 

When all was in readiness we were taken on board 
steam lighters and carried down the broad, deep, beau- 



322 ON WHEELS. 

tif ul St. John's Kiver to its mouth, twenty miles distant. 
There catching my first view of the miglity ocean it 
looked to me as if it might be as vast and boundless 
as eternity. 

Passing an earth fort, we proceeded out to sea a 
short distance to where the large black hulk, with its 
tall masts and reefed sails, lay rocking at anchor ready 
to receive ns. As we neared the great monster our 
baby craft slowed up and approached it with care, 
for there was quite a high sea running, and there was 
some danger of the two crafts pounding. We were 
soon made fast to the Cassandra, the name of the 
large steam and sail freight vessel which was to carry 
us to Annapolis. The sailors on her stanch deck 
dropped rope ladders down to us, and we clambered 
up over her sides and were soon assigned quarters on 
her upper and lower decks, and were in readiness for 
our long-desired homeward trip. 




CHAPTER XXXIV. 
Homeward Bound. 

■^n S soon as all were safely on board the great ves- 
-^ sel the fastenings of the last steam lighter were 
cast loose, we waved them an adieu, orders 
were given, and the heavy anchors of our vessel were 
weighed, her bells rang and jingled, sharp whistles 
screeclied and screamed, clouds of black coal smoke 
rolled out of the huge smokestack, and we steamed 
out to sea. 

As we started the snow-white sails on the three tall 
masts were given to the breeze, and quickly filling 
with the stiff southwester, we were soon under full 
sail and head of steam on our way to our loved ones 
who were anxiously awaiting our coming with open 
arms to receive us. 

The Cassandra was painted black as the night, 
the sails on her swaying masts were new and white 
as the driven snow, and as her shapely prow gracefully 
parted and plowed a deep foam furrow through the 
white-capped, tumbling waves she looked a thing of 
life like some mighty black sea fowl with enormous 
snow-wliite wings sporting on the mighty deep. 

It was a lovely afternoon, the 20th of May, that 
we set sail northward, and as the low sandy shore 



324 ON WHEELS. 

of fair Florida faded from view behind lis tliej ap- 
peared in danger of becoming a prey to the restless 
sea. 

My mess, after getting on board, bad the good 
fortune to have space or quarters assigned us on the 
upper deck. 

We had not been long under way before hundreds 
were suffering from the deathly sea-sickness. One of 
my mess, Charlie Paine, took the cramp colic, and his 
agony was so intense it seemed as if he would certainly 
die ; and I believe if it had not been for the prompt 
and vigorous efforts of the captain's wife he could 
not have survived. This noble lady of unselfish be- 
nevolence, had accompanied lier husband on this 
voyage for the purpose of caring for the sick, and, 
being the first Northern lady we had seen since coming 
into our lines, it was indeed delightful to watch her 
as she cheerfully went about over the ship administer- 
ing to their wants. 

I had not been on the vessel a great while until 1 
felt a serious disturbance in my stomach, but after a 
few hours this seemed to wear away, and I thought 
I had such a grip on my dinner that the old ocean 
could not break it loose. 

On our way we touched at Hilton Head, S. C, and 
at "Wilmington, N. C, at the latter place taking on 
fresh water. While lying there I saw a large block- 
ading squadron which was one of the grandest sights 
I ever beheld. 

We were favored with fair weather, and the trip 
was most delightful, until we neared Cape Hatteras. 
That morning black, portentous clouds began to gather 



HOMEWARD BOUND. 325 

in the west, soon tlio wind stiffened and great rain- 
drops began to fall. At the time I was seated close up 
in the bow of the vessel, looking down into the sea at a 
school of large black porpoises w^hich were sporting 
around the vessel's bow, and it was astonishing, at the 
rate of speed our vessel was going, how they could 
glide backward and forward and across the bow to 
within six inches of it apparently, and never seem to 
get a nib. These fish looked to be as large through 
the body as an ordinary horse. "We threw meat and 
bread to them, to which they paid no attention, and 
seemed as if rollicking with some monster of the 
deep. The same fish would follow the vessel for 
miles and miles and never appear to tire of their play. 

"When the rain began to fall there was a bright flash 
of lightning which, to me, made the sea look more 
green than blue, and was followed by a terrific clap of 
thunder. I was so far forward at the time, and the 
winds were making such confusion, I could not hear 
the orders of the ofiicers, but I discovered that some of 
the sailors were reefing the sails while others were 
lashing down the great water casks and everything 
that was loose on the deck ; and the returning soldiers 
all appeared to be going below deck. 

By this time the rain was coming down in torrents, 
and the storm increased with such s\idden violence that 
before I hardly had time to take in the gravity of the 
situation, onr vessel was rocking and plunging so furi- 
ously I could not stand on my feet and could only 
manage to reach the first hatchway where sailors stood 
and kneeled ready to batten the hatch down. By 
clinging to the outside railing until I reached a point 



326 ON WHEELS. 

nearly opposite thetn, tlieii waiting for a favorable lurch 
of the vessel I slid the rest of the way. 

The black, angry storm clouds now hung low, and 
it had suddenly become quite dark. The electric 
storm, while grand, was terrific. The forked light- 
nings shot and darted into the sea and about the black 
vessel until she seemed as if ablaze from stem to stern, 
and the rapid crashes of pealing thunder were more 
terrible than the hurried ci*oss fire of artillery; and as 
the o^reat Cassandra tossed in and out of the trouMi of 
the sea like a mere toy, nothing could be heard above 
the awful roar of the tempest. The waves were lashed 
into foam and were piling mountain high, and as the 
huge billows struck the ship they burst and engulfed 
the deck with spray. 

Before I left the bow sometimes it seemed as if I 
was going to be lifted to the very skies, and tlie next 
instant as if I should be plunged to the very bottom 
of the deep. I had often thought I should like to 
witness a storm at sea, but since my experience on 
that occasion 1 have had no desire to behold the sub- 
lime and awful grandeur of another such scene. It 
seemed as if the black, angry heavens and the mighty 
turbulent ocean were in deadly combat, and as these 
warring elements roared and displayed, the one its 
fiery power and the other its maddened frenzy, our 
ship, with closely reefed sails, appeared but as a toss- 
ing straw to be ground to atoms between the enraged 
elements. 

I was among the very last to go below, and, as I 
started down the ladder, I detected a variety of odors 
rising from the hold, where lay some two thousand 



HOMEWARD BOUND. 327 

seasick comrades. But among the various odors I 
failed to detect attar of roses, new-mown hay, or 
oransre blossoms. 

As I encountered the nauseous fumes which came 
up in the hot stifling air it was more tlian tlie strong- 
est stomach could endure. I had not inore tlian 
reached the lower deck among my heaving com- 
panions until I was compelled to make an uncondi- 
tional surrender of the good things I had been recently 
storing away for purposes of nutrition. 

All in the dim]y lighted hold, probably about 
twenty-five hundred men, were sick, the hatches were 
all battened down tightly, and the air was stifling. It 
was certainly the most wretched place, for the time, 
I was ever in, Andersonville not excepted ; and as 
the vessel tossed and rolled in the sea the most of us 
were so helpless that we tumbled and slid around on 
the floor almost like so many bags of boneless meat. 

In this condition we were in the hold for some four 
or five hours without any fresh air before the storm 
had suflSciently abated so as to admit of the hatches 
being raised. I think I was there about twelve hours 
before I had strength to crawl up the ladder to the 
upper deck, and when I reached it, between 9 and 
10 p. M., the stars were shining briglitly and the 
vessel was plowing ahead as if nothing had happened, 
its only loss, apparently, being the large water casks 
which had been torn loose and swept into the sea. 
The captain said the gale was one of the heaviest he 
had encountered for a number of years, and that at 
several times during its progress the vessel was in 
great danger of foundering. 



328 ON WHEELS. 

We were blown considerably out of our course hy 
the storm, and did not enter Chesapeake Bay until 
about 10 p. M. the following day. There we found a 
perfect calm, which was a great relief after our ex- 
perience at Hatteras ; but, our vessel being large, and 
now having to depend entirely on her steam screw, 
she made poor time, so that w^e did not reach Annap- 
olis until the following afternoon. "We felt so safe 
and secure, however, in the great bay, that it was a 
luxury to lounge around on the deck and watch the 
fishing smacks and passing vessels on our way up to 
Annapolis. 

When we arrived and steamed alongside the dock, 
looking over the railing or guard, our eyes were met 
by a sea of upturned faces of men, w^omen, and chil- 
dren who were apprised of the coming of the vessel 
and had come to Annapolis to meet it and see if any 
of their friends or loved ones were on board. 

Many were the happy meetings and cordial greet- 
ings we witnessed, and many, too, were the bitter dis- 
appointments ; but it mattered not w^hether fond 
wives, mothers, and sisters, fathers and brotliers were 
controlled by emotions of joy or sorrow, their lips 
were quivering and their eyes were bedewed witli 
tears. 

We were the last shipload of prisoners to come in, 
and those who were disappointed had but little to 
hope for, as there were none to follow us but a few 
sick, who were unable to travel when we left Jack- 
sonville. 

Descending the rope ladders to the dock, which 
was a scene of smiles and tears, we took our leave of 



HOMEWARD BOUND. 329 

the Cassandra and her crew and slowly made our 
way through the dense throngs of joyful and sorrow- 
ing ones, and marched up into the city a few blocks to 
some first-class barracks. From the effects of the roll 
of the sea, on our way up to tlie barracks we all 
seemed to have an inclination to step as high as a 
blind horse just after picking himself up out of a 
ditch. Indeed, it was several days before we entirely 
overcame this pecuHar gait. 

At Annapolis we drew ration money for all the 
time we were prisoners, at the rate of twenty-five 
cents a day. This gave me something over forty 
dollars — the hardest earned money I ever put into 
my pocket. Think of it ! Only forty dollars for 
being incarcerated in open pens for seven montlis, 
exposed to storms and chilling frosts, and all the 
while on starvation rations, attacked by severe dis- 
eases and buffeted and most cruelly treated by 
guards and prison keepers. Tliough this was the 
first money we had drawn since our enlistment, yet 
there had been but the slightest complaint among 
the prisoners. 

We sometimes hear of people who rob their stom- 
achs to robe their backs. Well, you can make out a 
clear case of tliat kind of robber}^ against me, for I in- 
vested thirty-five dollars of that ration money for a new 
suit of nice blue clothes, including jacket, vest, trous- 
ers, and a soft black hat with cord and tassels. I did 
this because the suit the old colored soldier gave me 
at Jacksonville was badly patched and would not be as 
presentable as I desired on reaching home, and I did 
not wish to draw any more government clothing. I 



330 



ON WHEELS. 



bought 110 shoes, because I could not wear anything 
in the shoe line having much more than soles. 

At the barracks we found chairs on which to sit, 
the first thing of any kind we had to sit on for over 
seven months, save the ground. You may be assured 
that when I had taken a bath and had donned my 
new suit and sat down on one of tlie barrack chairs, 
crossed my legs, and hung my new hat, with its 
fine cord and tassels, on my knee where I could 
turn it around and observe it in all its beauty, I felt 
greatly elated. That easy camp chair was almost like 
a kingly throne in comparison with the dirt and sand 
I had been accustomed to sit on ; and that jaunty 
black hat, with its gilt cord and tassels, resting on my 
new light-blue pantaloons, looked like a gorgeous 
crown in comparison with the old Confederate hat 
which was burned at Jacksonville. 

At this time the government was feeding us well, 
and I had a few dollars in my pocket for luxuries. 
What more of earthly treasure could a boy desire ? 




CHAPTER XXXV. 
Home at Last. 



g^T'E remained at ATinapolis but four or five days 



._,. ' before beins: sent out iu all directions to our 
homes. The AYestern men, among wliom I 
Avas placed, formed a train load, and started for the 
West over the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad; many of 
them left our train at Columbus, O., and Indianapolis, 
Ind. At Harper's Ferry,Wlieeling, W. Ya., and, indeed, 
all other points along the line where our train stopped, 
we were met by hundreds of citizens with baskets of 
provisions and bushels of the choicest flowers. At 
one place where we halted there were several large 
factories near tlie track which, on the arrival of our 
train at the station, quit running, and hundreds of 
young women and girls flocked around the train and 
almost deluged us with smiles and roses. 

The journey home from Annapolis from beginning 
to end was a perfect ovation. Almost every })lace 
through which we passed liad some one on the train 
who belonged there, and had written or telegraphed 
when we would pass ; and their friends, and, appar- 
ently, all creation besides, within reach, would be at 
these stations with good things to eat and the choicest 
products of their flower gardens to meet and greet us. 



332 ON WHEELS. 

Of course there were some great disappointments, and 
consequently some very siid scenes to witness, but 
taking it altogether I never expect to be on another 
tour attended with sucli greetings and welcomings 
and such joy and gladness as was this one. 

At Indianapolis, Ind., we were held over Sunday, 
and were entertained at the Soldiers' Home. Thence 
we were taken to St. Louis, Mo., where we were quar- 
tered for a few days at Schofield barracks. "While 
there the relatives or friends of many of the boys 
came to see us, and among them my father made me 
a visit. At the time I was unable to walk without 
great pain. The day my father came, and shortly 
before his arrival, I had been at the hospital and had 
the surgeon burn the proud flesh out of the sores on 
my feet and ankles, and when he entered I was lying in 
my bunk with my head to the door. You will remember 
that my father was a cripple, hence it was necessary for 
him to use a crutch in walking. Several times during 
that morning the boys had deceived me by telling me 
father was coming, when, on looking around, I discov- 
ered it w^as only crippled soldiers who came thumping 
along on the hard barracks floor with their crutches. So 
this time when they told me father was coming, I deter- 
mined I would not look around, and did not until he had 
passed the head of my bunk and stopped in front of it. 

I cannot describe our meeting, but when we clasped 
hands and kissed, as we always do after a long separa- 
tion, it was several moments before either of us could 
speak. Then, with quivering lips and tremulous voice, 
father said : " My poor, poor boy ; I should never have 
known you ! " 



HOME AT LAST 333 

Fatlier and otlier friends remained witli us until 
evening, and then returned home on the same boat on 
which they came down from N^aples. We remained 
at Schotleld barracks but two or three days and were 
then taken to Camp Butler near Spriuf^field, IlL, 
where we were at once fnriouglied and permitted to 
go liome, Avith instructions to return to Camp Butler 
or Springfield and report as soon as the government 
should notify us we w^ere wanted there to be formally 
discharged. 

Since w^e boys had responded to our country's call, 
bade adieu to our friends, and marched away with our 
rifles in the winter's snow and icy blasts in December, 
1863, mother earth had tw^ice changed her robe of 
white for one of green, and now with the olive branch 
of peace we returned amid the summer showers and 
fragrant blossoms of June, 1865. 

How pleasing the contrast between w^inter and sum- 
mer, war and peace, rifle and olive branch, sorrow at 
parting, and joy on returning; but no contrast was so 
pleasing to me as on arriving at home, instead of the 
troubled, anxious look my mother wore when she bade 
me adieu as I was leaving for the war, I beheld her 
smiles of joy beneath her tears as she clasped me in 
her loving arms. 

I was accorded a hearty welcome back to our dear 
old home by father, mother, sisters, and friends, and 
received almost as one from the dead ; and was in 
demand for dinners and suppers until I had gone the 
whole round of relatives and friends, and had attended 
a number of public receptions given for us returning 
prisoners and other soldiers, on which occasions we 



334 ON WHEELS. 

were required to relate over and over again our expe- 
riences in camp, on the march, in skirmish and "battle, 
and while prisoners. 

On the 12th of July I received notice from govern- 
ment officers to appear at Springfield the following 
day for the purpose of being formally discharged. 
Accordingly, I went, and on receiving my discharge 
papers I found that while they were signed July 13, 
1865, they were dated May 30, 1865. I was born 
June 4, 1848, hence I had been to the war, through 
Confederate prisons, returned home, and discharged 
before I was seventeen years of age ; and, during my 
absence had traveled over five thousand miles by land 
and water, and been through or on the borders of 
every slave State except Texas. 

Up to the time of my capture I had never missed 
a march, skirmish, or battle in which my regiment 
was engaged. In fact I had never been absent from 
my regiment a single day or missed a single duty ; and 
it is probable that few boys even in the army were 
called to pass through, or if so, lived to endure, the 
same amount of suffering from prison exposures and 
treatment from wounds and severe painful disease, as 
that which I was called to endure, and which in the 
Providence of God I have survived. 

"When I reached home my nervous system was so 
shattered and my general health so undermined, I 
could never resume my school studies. I tried various 
occupations at IN^aples, Perry, Sharpens Landing, and 
Koseville, 111., and had to abandon them all on account 
of my health. Finally in 1878, when living on a 
stock farm near Lathrop, Mo., which I owned, my 



HOME AT LAST. 335 

old wound in my riglit lung reopened, a portion of 
the upper lobe of wJiich I lost at that time. At the 
same time my spine was so seriously affected ti)at I 
lost the use of my lower limbs for a short while. 

Not regaining my strength so that I could even 
oversee my farming interests, I traded my farm for an 
interest in a family grocery business in Astoria, III., 
and removed there with my family in 1879, where 
1 had been but a few months when I again lost the 
use of my lower limbs from disease of the spine, and 
my back became so weak I could not sit up in a chair 
without wearing a corsage, and being supported by 
straps around my shoulders hung over the top of my 
chair back, as can be seen in the frontispiece. 

In that condition I have been ever since, and a num- 
ber of times have been confined to my bed for months 
not able to sit up even with these supports. In addi- 
tion to this trouble, while living in Illinois I had pneu- 
monia and asthma at different times ; and, finding I 
had a perpetual struggle for existence in that climate, 
remembering the sunny days, soft, balmy air, golden 
fruits, and fragrant flowers, which I so much enjoyed 
when released in Florida, my mind naturally turned 
in that direction ; and, in October, 1881, with my 
family I removed to Lawtey, Bradford County, Fla., 
where I have since resided in peace and plenty, with 
the new lease of life Florida's genial, invigorating 
climate has given me, and where I number among my 
friends many old Confederates as well as Northern 
people and Union soldiers. 

It seems a strange coincidence, indeed, that I should 
find myself located on the line of the Florida Central 
22 



336 ON WHEELS. 

and Peninsular Kailroad, but eighteen miles south of 
Baldwin, where I was released in 1865 ; and a kind 
Pj-ovidence that has directed me thither where I am 
permitted to enjoy the benefits of one of the best cli- 
mates in the world, witiiout which I undoubtedly 
should have been in my grave years ago. 

Up to the time of becoming totally disabled wliile 
living at Astoria, 111., I had not made application for 
a pension, although I knew I had been entitled to one 
ever since I had been discharged. But when I lost 
the use of my lower limbs, being disqualified thereby 
for business, and, consequently, needing financial aid, 
I then made application for a pension. Friends wrote 
to Governor Cullom of Ilhnois — now United States 
Senator from that State — and stated my case in full 
to him. He in turn wrote to the United States 
Pension Department, and through his influence my 
claim was taken out of its regular order and received 
immediate action. Tlie department generously al- 
lowed me a pension from the time I was discharged 
in 1865, amounting in all to $2,750, which was indeed 
a great blessing to myself and family, a wife and three 
small children. 

When I was first enrolled as a pensioner I was placed 
on the list at twenty-four dollars per month. Within 
a year my pension was increased to fifty dollars per 
month: and in January, 1885, it was increased by 
special act of Congress to seventy-two dollars per 
month, of which special act the following is a verbatim 
copy ; 



HOME AT LAST. 337 

^Sth Congress, ) SENATE 5 Report 

2d Session. \ ' \ No.95'd. 

In The Senate Op The United States. 



January 6, 1885. — Ordered to be printed. 



Mr. Cullom, from tlie Committee on Pensions, submitted the 
following 

REPORT : 

[ To accompany bill H. R. 5004. ] 

llie Committee on Pensions, to whom was referred the Mil (II. B. 
5004) for the relief of William B. Smith, have considered tlie same, 
and respectfully report as follows : 

This bill proposes to increase the pension of William B- 
Smith from $50 to $72 per month, the rate which he would be 
allowed by the Pension Office under the act of June 16, 1880, 
if at the date of its approval he had been on the rolls at $50 
per month. The writer of this report has seen Mr. Smith, and 
can certify from personal knowledge that the statement of the 
case made in the report of the House Committee is correct, as 
follows : 

The papers in this case show that the petitioner's condition 
is most helpless and pitiable. It is impossible to conceive a 
case in which the full amount of $72 could be more worthily 
bestowed. We recommend the passage of the bill. The ap- 
plicant, as is amply proved, is, and since October, 1881, has 
been, in a helpless condition, "requiring the constant assist- 
ance of another person to move, eat, undress, go to bed, get up, 
in fact, cannot help himself, and cannot sit up in his armchair 
without being strapped in to keep him from falling over. " 
His present condition is but the aggravation of the disease for 
which he was originally pensioned. 

We therefore recommend the passage of the bill. 

In accordance with the provisions of this special 
act my rating has been and still continues as therein 
stated and thereby increased. 



338 ON WHEELS. 

The very first money I used out of tliis generous 
aid by the government I sent to the New Haven Chair 
Company, of Kevv Haven, Conn., for a reclining wheel 
chair, which I had noticed was highly recommended 
by the Hon. Alexander H. Stephens. When this 
chair arrived I found it a great luxury for an invalid, 
enabling me to get out into the open air imd sunshine 
which I so much needed, and to be propelled from 
place to place, as I otherwise could not be. 

And now, dear reader, having given you a plain, 
truthful account of some of the army and prison ex- 
periences and observations of a young boy soldier in 
the great American Civil War, I trust you have found 
it of some interest and proiit, and that it clearly indi- 
cates why I am " On Wheels: and How I Came There." 




N, 






'^CT 7 1936'