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■•KiT"'/' " -^"^^ w 

Reminiscences of a 

Soldier of the 
Orphan Brigade 

By LIEUT. L. D. YOUNG, Paris, Kentuc y 


Univ. of Kentucky 

Reminiscences of a Soldier 
of the Orphan Brigade 

Paris, Kentucky 

i^ii. : 




To Those Who Wore the Gray and to Their Children 

AND Children's Children, This Booklet 

IS Dedicated. 





The Richard Hawes Chapter of the Daughters 
of the Confederacy warmly recommends Col. L. 
D. Young's "Reminiscences of the Orphan Bri- 
gade' as a most worthy addition to the literature 
of the South. 

It is an interesting recital of the author's per- 
sonal experiences and contains much valuable 
historic information. 

The Chapter commends Mr. Young, a splendid 
Christian gentleman — a gallant Confederate sol- 
dier — to all lovers of history — and especially to 
the brave soldiers of the present great war. 

By Prof. N. S. Shaler of the Federal Army. 

Eighteen hundred and sixty-one: 
There in the echo of Sumter's gun 
Marches the host of the Orphan Brigade, 
Lit by their banners, in hope's best arrayed. 
Five thousand strong, never legion hath borne 
Might as this bears it forth in that morn: 
Hastings and Crecy, Naseby, Dunbar, 
Cowpens and Yorl^town, Thousand Years' War, 
Is writ on their hearts as onward afar 
They shout to the roar of their drums. 

Eighteen hundred and sixty-two: 

Well have they paid to the earth its due. 

Close up, steady! the half are yet here 

And all of the might, for the living bear 

The dead in their hearts over Shiloh's field — 

Rich, O God, is thy harvest's yield! 

Where faith swings the sickle, trust binds the sheaves, 

To the roll of the surging drums. 

Eighteen hundred and sixty-three: 

Barring Sherman's march to the sea — 

Shorn to a thousand; face to the foe 

Back, ever back, but stubborn and slow. 

Nineteen hundred wounds they take 

In that service of Hell, yet the hills they shake 

With the roar of their charge as onward they go 

To the roar of their throbbing drums. 

Eighteen hundred and sixty-four: 

Their banners are tattered, and scarce twelve score, 

Battered and wearied and seared and old. 

Stay by the staves where the Orphans hold 

Firm as a rock when the surges break — 

Shield of a land where men die for His sake, 

For the sake of the brothers whom they have laid low. 

To the roll of their muffled drums. 

Eighteen hundred and sixty-five: 

The Devil is dead and the Lord is alive, 

In the earth that springs where the heroes sleep. 

And in love new born where the stricken weep. 

That legion hath marched past the setting of sun: 

Beaten? nay, victors: the realms they have won 

Are the hearts of men who forever shall hear 

The throb of their far-off drums. 



It is for the amusement and entertainment of the thou- 
sands of young Kentuckians now enlisted beneath the 
Stars and Stripes in the world cataclysm of war for the 
cause of humanity and righteousness that these recollec- 
tions and reminiscences are published. The author believ- 
ing they will enable the ''boys" to pass what might other- 
wise be at times lonesome and monotonous hours. 

And while refused by the Secretary of War ( by reason 
of age) the opportunity to participate in the great struggle 
now raging, it is his province now only to watch their 
career, to pray for them and their success, for their suc- 
cessful and triumphant return. 

And by reason of his experience as a soldier he can 
enter into fully their aspirations and ambitions and share 
their hopes, rejoice in their victories and their triumphs. 
He understands the dread suspense of the impending con- 
flict, the thrill and shock of battle, the victorious shout, 
the gloom and chagrin of defeat, the pangs of hunger and 
suffering from wounds and disease — for he has seen war 
in all its horrors. 

And he knows that when the supreme moment comes 
that Kentucky blood will assert itself; that her traditional 
honor will be upheld, her renown glorified anew. 

He knows that these inspirations will insure steadi- 
ness of step, strength of arm and force of stroke. 

He rejoices that the ever assertive blood of the Anglo- 
Saxon flows through the veins of these young Ken- 
tuckians, ready at all times and under all circumstances 
to be dedicated to the cause of humanity and righteous- 

As will be readily seen, at the time of the writing of 
these chapters, there was no thought of the great war in 

6 The Orphan Brigade. 

which the world is now engulfed and it was mainly a work 
of pastime and personal satisfaction that they were then 
written and published. But the suggestion has been made 
that if published in suitable form for distribution and 
donated by friends to the Kentucky boys now in service 
that it might be appreciated by the boys "over there," 
some of whom are doubtless the sons or grandsons of those 
who composed this little band of "immortals" and who 
contributed so much to Kentucky's history in the unfortu- 
nate fratricidal conflict of almost sixty years ago. Thank 
God that the animosities of that unhappy period have 
long since been banished, and there is now but one 
thought, one aim, animating the hearts and minds of these 
sons and grandsons, viz., the overthrow of autocracy and 
the avenging of the outrages of the Huns — and a readjust- 
ment and regeneration of the relationship and affairs of 

In the changed conditions that confront us today we 
see the history of the Commonwealth being absorbed by 
the Nation and almost imperceptibly blended into a 
Nationalized, Americanized whole. 

And whatever of history the sons of the Commonwealth 
achieve in the great war will be accredited to the nation 
America, and not Kentucky. And recognizing this unifica- 
tion as a fixed policy of our government, the writer takes 
advantage of the opportunity in this little booklet (lest 
we forget) to individualize and compliment the magnif- 
icent record of that little band of Kentuckians, known 
in history as the "Orphan Brigade" and whose achieve- 
ments form one of the most brilliant chapters in the his- 
tory of the State and Nation. Hence the publication of 
this booklet. The writer does not for a moment stop to 
criticise the wisdom of this change (from the volunteer 
to the conscript system) and he hopes he may be pardoned 
for expressing pride in Kentucky's unexcelled past his- 
tory. Henceforth it will not be what Kentucky or Ohio 
accomplished — in war, but what the Nation, unified Amer- 

The Orphan Brigade. 7 

ica, accomplished. It will now be "liberty enlightening" 
and leading the world. 

Then let the battle rage and onward move, 

Count not the cost nor falter in the breach, 

God, the Great Commander, wields the righteous wand, 

And bids you His Love the tyrant teach. 

When that shall have been accomplished (should the 
author be living) he will be tempted to exclaim in the lan- 
guage of old Moses when from Mt. Nebo he beheld the 
land of Canaan and exclaimed "Now Lord, I am ready." 

In writing these recollections and reminiscences he has 
aimed as much as possible to avoid aspersions, reflections 
and criticisms and confine himself to a personal knowl- 
edge, which, of course, was more or less limited, because 
of the restricted sphere of his activities and operations. 
But he assures the "boys" that his stories, while not 
classic, are substantially true. He could not afford to, 
at his advanced age, attempt to misrepresent or deceive, 
and he hopes the reader will excuse any irregularities in 
the order of publication in book form for, as previously 
stated, that was not originally contemplated. 

In comparing conditions and surroundings of that day 
with those of the soldier of today, we find them so rad- 
ically different as to be incomparable. And for this the 
soldier of today should be truly, thankful, since in the 
case of these isolated Kentuckians — none of whom could 
communicate with friends and receive a message or word 
of cheer from the dear ones at home, circumstances today 
are so very, very different. And while you are called upon 
to meet and face many and more trying dangers, because 
of the new and more modern instruments of war, you are 
in many ways much better provided for than were your 
sires and grandsires. Now when sick or wounded you 
have every attention that modern skill and science can 
command. You have also the angelic help and ministra- 
tions of that greatest of all help and comfort, the Red 

8 The Orphan Brigade. 

Cross, and many other sources of help and aid that the 
soldiers of the past did not have. 

So that while the dangers may be greater, the casual- 
ties more numerous, relief has multiplied proportionately. 
And you are today soldiers engaged in war which has the 
same meaning it has always had. Because of the gloom 
and sorrow that now enshrouds the world, it would be 
well if we could forget the past — for the events of today 
are but a portrayal of the past, a renewal of man's "inhu- 
manity to man." But it has been so decreed by Him who 
"moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform. Who 
plants His footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm." 

And let us hope — as many believe^ — that out of "Much 
tribulation cometh great joy." If it were not for a great 
and wise purpose, how could it be? It is God's will and 
submission to His will is man's only choice. 

So let your spirits as they rise and fall. 
Ever cling to the Faith that Right will prevail. 
That God will be with you to the end and is all in all, 
And no foeman, freedom's banner shall assail. 

It is at the instance of the Richard Hawes Chapter of 
the U. D. C. chiefly that the writer of these recollections 
and reminiscences has collected and published them. 

If in contributing this history of experiences and recol- 
lections he shall give in any degree pleasure and furnish 
entertainment to the "dear Kentucky boys" over the seas 
he shall feel happy to have had that privilege and oppor- 

He assures them that none more sincerely, more 
prayerfully hopes for their safe and triumphant return. 
He knows that this triumph will be the grandest chapter 
in the world's history and that America will have played 
her part gloriously in the grand tragedy. 

Oh ! that he could be one of the actors ! 

Then will the dark and gloomy days of your absence 
hallowed by the blood of your lost comrades be made 

The Orphan Brigade. 9 

glorious by a triumphant return, the like of which the 
world has never before seen nor never will see again. 

Then will every hilltop and mountain peak blaze with 
the bonfires of a glorious greeting. 

Then will the dear old mother's heart thrill with joy 
and happiness, then will the old father say "Welcome! 
Welcome! my dear boy, I knew you would come." Then 
too will she who promised, watched, hoped and prayed 
be found seeking the opportunity to say "I am now ready 
to redeem my promise." 

Then will the old soldier (God permitting him to live) 
who dedicates these lines extend the glad hand of greet- 
ing to the noble boys of his acquaintance and say, "well 
done ye noble sons ! I rejoice in your achievements, your 
victories, your triumphs. 

"Welcome, thrice welcome, and again welcome, God 
smiles and the land is yours. Let justice and righteous- 
ness prevail now, henceforth and forever." 

It is conceivable that forty or fifty years hence some 
of these soldier boys now participating in the great war 
will find themselves wandering over these fields upon 
which the greatest tragedies in the world's history are now 
being enacted, and it is in full comprehension (because 
of similar experiences) that the writer can extend the 
imaginations of the mind to that time. 

It will be for him, who may be so fortunate, a glorious 
day, a thrilling and inspiring reminiscence. To be one of 
the actors in this stupendous tragedy in the history and 
affairs of the world; to see, to participate in and realize 
these grand events is to see things that have heretofore 
seemed impossible, or inconceivable. 

But the times are full of wonders and amazements, 
and things are happening faster and faster day by day. 

If the early history of the writer, read before the U. 
D. C.'s, contains matter that would seem more appropriate 
for a novel, because of its romantic character he justifies 
himself by saying that "youth is full of romance" and he 

10 The Orphan Brigade. 

believes, yea he knows, that many a brave boy today feels 
the impulse and touch of these thoughts and suggestions 
— and not alone the soldier boy, but the modest, timid, 
retiring maiden whose heart quavered when she said good- 

(An address delivered at Paris, Ky., June 26, 1916.) 

Madame President, Ladies, Daughters of the Confederacy: 

I have several times promised your ex-president, Mrs. 
Leer, that I would furnish her with a brief history of my 
observations and experiences as a soldier, and have so far 
failed ; but will now, ere it is too late, try to comply with 
this promise. 

But for the life of me I cannot see how I shall comply 
with this request without (seemingly at least) appearing 
in the role of one given to self praise or eulogy, and, mod- 
est man that I am, I hesitate ; this will explain why I have 
been so long complying with your request, and shall con- 
stitute my apology. 

The history of Kentucky Confederates was in most 
Instances very similar and their duties likewise similar. 
All were imbued with the spirit of patriotism and love 
for the cause in which they had engaged, each determined 
to do whatever he could to promote and advance the cause 
in which he was enlisted. In this I claim to have done 
no more than other Kentucky soldiers who fought under 
the "Stars and Bars." 

And yet there may be some incidents, some experiences 
in my history so different from others as to make them 
somewhat interesting by contrast, and as others have 
kindly furnished you with a history of their experience, 
you may be somewhat interested in making comparisons. 

Now, so far as relates to my history as a real soldier, 
the beginning of that career was on the 8th of September, 
1861. On the 22d of January following I was twenty 
years old — quite a youth you are ready to say. But I had 
been a soldier almost two years, being a charter member 
of that little band of "Sunday" soldiers — the "Flat Rock 
Grays" — and which constituted an integral part of what 


12 The Orphan Brigade. 

was known at that time as the Kentucky "State Guard." 
This little company of citizen soldiers were in their 
conceit and imagination very important and consequen- 
tial fellows. Invited to all the noted gatherings and pub- 
lic affairs of the day, dressed in gaudy and flashy uniforms 
and flying plumes, filled with pride and conceit, they did 
not know they were nursing their pride against the day 
of wrath. One only of two now living, I look back upon 
those days and scenes of youthful pride and ambition, with 
a feeling of awe and reminiscence, and wonder why and 
wherefore have I been spared through the labyrinth of 
time elapsed and for what, alas! I am wondering. 

The most of the "Grays" left home for the scenes of 
the war in August, but I had not completed my arrange- 
ments and did not reach "Camp Burnett," Tennessee, 
until September 7. Now the most trying and impressing 
circumstances of these preparations was the last "good- 
bye" to my dear old mother and sweetheart, both of whom 
survived the war; the dear old mother greeting me on my 
return in a manner I shall leave to the imagination of you 
ladies to describe. I was her "baby" and had been 
mourned as lost more than once. But the sweetheart in 
the meantime had become the wife of another and gone 
to a distant state to make her home. Oh ! the fickleness of 
woman and the uncertainties of war. Pardon me, ladies, 
I mean no reflection, but it hurts to this day; yet God in 
His wisdom and goodness knows I forgave her. Perhaps 
schoolday love is remembered and still lingers in the heart 
of some of those I am addressing, then she, at least, can 
appreciate this sentiment. 

The 0th of September found me in this town (Paris, 
Ky. ) , where I began preparations for the life of a soldier, 
by substituting my "pumps" for "Brogans," which I knew 
would be more suitable, really indispensable for a soldier 
on the march over rough and rugged roads. I sent back 
home my pumps and horse, the latter afterward con- 
fiscated and appropriated by the Yanks. Now I am wsure 

The Orphan Brigade. 13 

my brogans presented a striking and ludicrous contrast 
to my "clawhammer" blue broadcloth and gold buttons, 
and to which I shall have occasion to refer again. But I 
was going to the war and why should I care for comment 
or criticism? That night found me in Louisville, a shy, 
cringing guest of the old Louisville Hotel, my brogans 
giving me more concern than anything else, being in such 
striking contrast to my clawhammer broadcloth and gold 
buttons. I recall the scenes of that night and next morn- 
ing with a distinctness that makes me almost shudder to 
this day. If it were possible for you ladies to imagine the 
excitement of those days, filled with the thousands of excit- 
ing rumors that were heard every hour in the day, turn in 
whatever direction you might, and the clangor and prep- 
aration for war, you might have some idea of, and appre- 
ciate, my predicament. A solitary country boy, who had 
seen but little of the world, on his road South in quest of 
Southern rights on the field of battle. Were it not fraught 
with fearful recollections it would now seem ridiculous. 
But the night was spent, not in sleep, but in wild imagin- 
ings as to the outcome on the morrow and what the morn- 
ing would develop. Morning came and with reddened 
eyes and unsteady step, I came down the winding stairs 
of the old hotel, my mind filled with fearful misgivings. 
Going up to the office shyly I began instinctively to turn 
the leaves of the register ; imagine my surprise when I read 
the names of Generals W. T. Sherman, L. J. Rousseau, 
Major Anderson of Fort Sumter fame and other Federal 
officers, aides and orderlies, who were stopping there ; that 
humbug Kentucky "neutrality" no longer being observed. 
I was now almost ready to call on the Lord to save me. 
But my fears were intensified when a gentleman of middle 
age, whom I had noticed eyeing me closely, walked across 
the room, putting his hand on my shoulder and asked me 
to a corner of the room. "Angels and ministers of grace 
defend me" — in the hands of a detective. I'm gone now! 
Noticing my look of fear and trepidation, he said, "Com- 

14 The Orphan Brigade. 

pose yourself young man, / am your friend — the shoes 
you wear (Oh, the tell-tale shoes! Why didn't I keep my 
pumps) lead me to believe you meditate joining the army, 
and if I am not mistaken you are aiming to go South to 
join the Confederates." I was now halting between two 
opinions; was he aiming to have me commit myself, or 
was he really a friend? But proceeding, he said, "It is 
but natural you should suspect me, but I am your friend 
nevertheless, and am here to advise and assist young men 
like you in getting through the lines (a somewhat calmer 
feeling came over me now) and you will have to be very 
cautious, for I fear your brogans are a tell-tale — (I had 
already realized that). You see," said, he, "excitement 
is running high and almost everybody is under suspicion, 
myself with others." I ventured to ask his name, which 
he readily gave me as Captain Coffee of Tennessee, to me 
a very singular name. 

Feeling sure of his man and continuing, he said, "The 
train that leaves here this morning will likely be the last 
for the state line (and sure enough it was) and you will 
find excitement running high at the station; they have 
guards to examine all passengers and their baggage, and 
when you reach the station go straight to the ticket office, 
secure your ticket and go to the rear of the train. Go in 
and take the first vacant seat and for Heaven's sake, if 
possible, hide your brogans, for I fear they may tell on 
you." I had by this time become thoroughly convinced 
that he was really my friend and decided to take his 

But now the climax to the situation was, as I thought, 
about to be reached. Looking toward the winding stairs 
I saw coming down them (Coffee told me who they were) 
dressed in their gaudy regimentals (the regulation blue 
and gold lace), Generals W. T. Sherman and L. J. Rous- 
seau, side by side, arm in arm, behind them the short, 
chubby figure of Major Anderson of Fort Sumter fame 
and some other prominent officers whose names I have 

The Orphan Brigade. 15 

forgotten, accompanied by their staff officers and order- 
lies. A "pretty kettle of fish" for me to be caught with — I 
thought. They passed into the dining room immediately. 
I shall never forget the hook-nose, lank, lean and hungry 
look of General Sherman, reminding me of Julius Caesar's 
description of Cassius. Later on I was often reminded of 
this incident, when Sherman was pushing us through 
Georgia, toward the sea in the celebrated campaign of '64. 
I was then almost wicked enough to wish that I had at 
this time and there ended his career. But, exchanging a 
few more words with Capt. Coffee, I called for my satchel 
and took the "bus" for the station ; arriving there I acted 
upon the advice of my new made friend and adviser. 
Quickly procuring my ticket and entering the car, I 
secured the rear seat and with fear and trembling 
attempted to hide my brogans by setting my satchel on 
them. (We had no suit cases then.) This was a morning 
of wonderful excitement in the station for it was the last 
train to leave Louisville for the State line and Memphis. 
There were thousands of people there crowding every avail- 
able foot of space — excitement ran high. The train guards 
or inspectors — fully armed — were busy examining pas- 
sengers and their baggage. My heart almost leaped from 
my bosom as they came down the aisle. But just before 
they reached the rear of the car the bell rang and the train 
started. The guards rushed for the door, leaving me and 
one or two others unquestioned and unmolested. Like 
"Paul, when he reached the three taverns," I thanked God 
and took courage. I doubt if the old station ever before 
or since saw such excitement and heard such a shout as 
went up from the people therein assembled as the train 
pulled out for Dixie. Many of these people were Southern 
sympathizers and wished us God-speed and a safe journey. 
That evening I joined my schoolboy friends and soldier 
comrades, the "Flat Rock Grays," in Camp Burnett, Ten- 
nessee, the Grays dropping their name and acquiring the 
letter "H" in the regimental formation of that celebrated 

16 The Orphan Brigade. 

regiment commanded by Col. Robert P. Trabue and known 
as the Fourth Kentucky, C. S. A. That night I slept in 
camp for the first time — as to what I dreamed I am unable 
to say — it might have been of the sweetheart. The next 
day was spent in getting acquainted with the dear fellows 
whose comradeship I was to have and share for the next 
four years. Here began the experiences of the real sol- 
dier, that was to include some of the most momentous 
events in American history. Only one day, however, was 
spent in Burnett, for that night orders came for those com- 
panies that had been supplied with arms to break camp 
early next morning and take the train for Bowling Green 
— to "invade Kentucky." The companies without arms, 
among which was Company H, was to repair to Nash- 
ville where we procured arms, joining the rest of the regi- 
ment a few weeks later at Bowling Green. 

I have told you of the beginning, now it is proper and 
altogether pertinent that I should refer to some of the 
closing scenes of my career as a soldier. But I am here 
leaving a gap in my history, the most important part of it, 
which will be found in other parts of this little book. 

Having received my furlough at Jonesboro, where I 
was wounded on August 31, 1864, the following six months 
were spent in hospitals; first at Barnesville, later at Ma- 
con and then Cuthbert, Ga., and later still at Eufaula, 
Ala. I had as companions in hospital experiences three 
other Kentuckians, Captain E. F. Spears of this city, 
Paris, whom you all know to have been a gentleman of 
the highest honor and noblest emotions — a gentleman — 
Oh, how I loved him; and Lieutenants Hanks and Eales, 
noble fellows and companionable comrades. Here were 
formed ties of friendship — that death alone could sever. 

But having sufficiently recovered from my wound, I 
decided the last of March that I would make an effort to 
reach my command (the Orphan Brigade) now engaged 
in a desperate effort to stay the progress of Sherman's 
devastating columns now operating in South Carolina. 

The Orphan Brigade. 17 

The ^'Orphans" in the meantime and during my absence 
had been converted into cavalry. I was still on crutches 
and bidding Eufaula friends good-bye (with regret) I 
started once more for the front. 

The times were now fraught with gloomy forebodings 
and misgivings, excitement running high. The South was 
in tears, terror stricken — the Confederacy surely and rap- 
idly was reeling to her doom. General Wilson's cavalry 
was raiding through Alabama and Georgia with but little 
opposition, destroying the railroads and almost every- 
thing else of value as they moved across the country. 

On the train I had very distinguished company in the 
person of General "Bob" Toombs, who commanded the 
Georgia militia, a mythical organization of the times, and 
Mrs. L. Q. C. Lamar of Mississippi, whose husband was 
afterward a member of Cleveland's Cabinet. I was very 
much impressed with the remarkable personality of this 
lady and felt sorry for her and her family of seven chil- 
dren, fleeing terror stricken from the raiders. Pande- 
monium seemed to reign supreme among these fleeing 
refugees, the air being literally alive with all sorts of 
rumors about the depredations and atrocities of the raid- 
ers. Numerous delays occurred to the train, everybody 
on board fearing the raiders and anxious to move on. 
General Toombs, excited and worried at these delays, 
determined to take charge of the situation and see that 
the train moved on. With a navy revolver in each hand 
he leaped from the train and with an oath that meant 
business said he w^ould see that the train moved on — 
which it did rather promptly, the General taking due 
credit to himself for its moving, which the passengers 
willingly accorded him. Inquiring who this moving spirit 
was, I was told that it was General "Bob" Toombs (by 
this name, ^'BoW Toombs, he was known throughout the 
United States). Instantly there flashed into my mind the 
celebrated speech he made in the United States Senate, 
in which he said that "erelong he expected to call the roll 

18 The Orphan Brigade. 

of his slaves beneath the shadow of Bunker Hill Monu- 
ment" — and which speech did more to fire the hearts of 
the North than almost anything said or done prior to the 

But finally we reached Macon — where I had been in 
the hospital — and on the afternoon of the second day after 
our arrival, Wilson's cavalry took possession of the city. 
That night some of the fiends, that are to be found in 
every army, applied the torch to the home of Senator 
Howell Cobb, the Lanier Hotel and a number of other 
prominent buildings. I could realize the excitement from 
the Confederate hospital on College Hill, which overlooks 
the city, and which was terrifying and appalling beyond 
anything I had ever before seen. The shrieks and cries of 
the women and children almost unnerved me. Woe of 
woes ! Horror of horrors ! I thought. 

But I must do General Wilson the honor to say that 
he did not order or approve of this fiendish piece of work, 
for he did all in his power to prevent and stop it; and but 
for his efforts the city would no doubt have been com- 
pletely destroyed. 

Of course I abandoned my attempt to join the old boys 
of the "Orphan Brigade," I was now a prisoner, every- 
thing lost (save honor), gloom and chaos were everywhere. 
Obtaining a parole from the Federal officer in command 
(something new), I decided to join my comrades Knox 
and Harp, each of whom, like myself, had been put out of 
business by wounds received sometime before and who 
were sojourning with a friend in the country near For- 
sythe, intending to counsel with them as to the best course 
to be pursued next. Having enjoyed the hospitality of our 
host and his good wife for several days, Knox and myself 
decided to go down to Augusta for a last and final parting 
with the remnant of these dear "old boys" of the "Orphan 
Brigade" whom we learned were to be paroled in that 
city. We soon learned upon our arrival in the city that 
General Lewis and staff would arrive next morning. Next 

The Orphan Brigade. 19 

morning the General and stafif rode through the city, the 
most sorrowful and forlorn looking men my eyes ever 
looked upon ; it was enough to make a savage weep. The 
cause for which we had so long fought, sacrificed and suf- 
fered, lost, everything lost, God and the world apparently 
against us, without country, without home or hope, the 
old family being broken up and separated forever, our very 
souls sinking within us, gloom and sorrow overhanging 
the world; what would we do; what could we do? Learn- 
ing from General Lewis that the remnant of the little band 
of immortals who had contributed so much to the history 
and renown of Kentucky in the great conflict would be 
paroled at Washington, some twenty miles from Augusta, 
Knox and myself proceeded to that place for a last and 
final farewell. 

The associations of almost four years of the bloodiest 
war in modern times up to that day were here, to be for- 
ever broken up. The eyes that gleamed defiance in the 
battles' rage were now filled with tears of sorrow at part- 
ing. The hand that knew no trembling in the bloody 
onslaught now wavered and trembled — the hour for the 
last parting had arrived, the long struggle ended forever 
— good-bye, John ; farewell, Henry ; it is all over and all is 
lost, ended at last; good-bye, boys; good-bye. 

Are their deeds worth recording, worth remembering? 
It is for you, dear ladies, rather than men, to say whether 
it shall be done or not, and in what way. / am content 
to leave it to you, knowing that it will be well and faith- 
fully done. 

Resuming the closing scenes of my experiences at 
Washington and the final sad leave-taking of these dear 
old "Orphans," I must revert to my friend and well wisher 
(as he proved to be), General Toombs. 

The Confederate Government had saved from the ruin 
that befell and overtook it several thousand dollars in coin 

20 The Orphan Brigade. 

and which was being transported across the country, 
whither, no one seemed to know — in charge of a certain 

Now Washington was the home of my hero of the train 
incident. The powers that were left decided to distribute 
a part of this coin among the faithful veterans who were 
being paroled at this point. The cavalry, who did not 
enlist until later in '62, receiving |26, in some instances 
more, while the Orphans received as their share only |3.50, 
a very unfair and inequitable distribution, character of 
service and time being considered. The cavalry in this, 
as in some other instances, receiving the lion's share and 
getting the most of the good things that fell to the lot of 
the "pooh" soldier. This money consisted mainly of 
"double eagles," three of which fell to the remnant of my 
company. The perplexing question now was how could 
we divide this money. The matter was finally settled by 
the boys commissioning me to go down into the town (a 
mile or more away) to see if I could exchange it for 
smaller coins. Still on crutches, I finally consented, but it 
was a task. Going into town and from home to home — 
all business houses long since closed — I at last staggered 
on the home of General Toombs — not knowing he lived 
there. I recognized at once the moving spirit of the train 
incident. He and another gentleman were seated on the 
veranda engaged in earnest and animated conversation. 
Saluting in military style, I at once made known my busi- 
ness. The General protested that he had no change, but 

referring me to his guest. Major , who, he said, was 

in charge of some funds in the house belonging to the gov- 
ernment. The Major remarked if I would wait awhile he 
would furnish me with the required change, at the same 
time retiring to a back room of the house where I soon 
heard the sound of a hammer or hatchet, presumably in 
the hand of the Major, who was engaged in opening a box 
or chest. In the meantime the General invited me to a 
seat on the veranda and began plying me with numerous 
and pertinent questions — not giving me a chance to refer 

The Orphan Brigade. 21 

to the train incident — asking to what command I belonged, 
when and where I was wounded and how I expected to 
get home and many other questions, not forgetting in his 
vigorous and vehement way (for which he was noted) to 
deplore the fate of the Confederacy and denouncing the 
Yankee in unmeasured and vigorous terms. 

Finally after so long a time the Major returned with 
the required change — all in silver and while not much, it 
gave me (already tired out) great worry before I reached 
camp on my crutches. Of course I thanked the Major 
and apologized for having put him to so much trouble, 
and saluting him good day, I started for the gate, the 
General preceding me and still asking questions. Opening 
the gate, for which I thanked him, I tipped a military 
salute and started up the sidewalk. But the General 
seemed very much interested in me and walking along- 
side the yard fence he suddenly thrust his hand into his 
vest pocket, pulling out a twenty dollar coin and quickly 
reaching across the fence, he said, "Here, Lieutenant, take 
this from me. You will doubtless need it." Dumfounded 
at this sudden change of affairs, I politely declined it, but 
the General, in a spirit of earnest command, forcefully 
said, "Here, take it, sir; you are a d — n long way from 
home and you will need it before you get there." Com- 
prehending the spirit which prompted it, I accepted it and 
thanked him, extending him my hand, which he grasped 
with a warmth that thrilled my soul to its very depths. 

Thus the diamond in the rough that I had seen on the 
train at once became the glittering jewel that sparkled 
and shed its brilliance to the depths of my then thankful 
and weary soul. I love to think of this incident and this 
great man (for he was truly a great man of his time) 
and transpiring at the time it did and under — to me — 
such distressing and discouraging circumstances, it is one 
of the happy and cheering oases of my soldier life. 

Going from Washington back to Augusta I met and 
spent the following night in company with Hon. E. M. 

22 The Orphan Brigade. 

Bruce, one of the best friends I ever had, whose friend- 
ship, magnanimity and generosity toward myself and other 
Kentuckians was, as in my ease, made practical, he pre- 
senting me with three double eagles, which I was com- 
pelled to receive as a recompense for acts of friendship 
and assistance rendered him during the trying times of 
the preceding four years. I have never known a grander 
character than E. M. Bruce, a truer friend, a nobler man. 

But now, with more than |80 of real money, I was 
quite well equipped for the return to dear "Old Ken- 
tucky," which I was glad to see after an absence of almost 
four years, spent under the most dangerous and trying 
circumstances to which it was possible for man to be 

There were doubts in my mind as to what our status 
as citizens would be and just how we would be received 
and regarded by some; returning as we did, overcome, 
discomfited, defeated. But we well knew how we would be 
received by those who loved us and whose sympathies were 
manifested in a thousand ways not to be mistaken or mis- 
understood. Here in these manifestations was recom- 
pense for the long years of absence amid dangers, trials 
and suffering. 

And now after a lapse of more than half a century, 
with its wonderful history, we are still remembered by 
some of the kind and gentle spirits that greeted us on our 
return, and other charming and lovely spirits of the U. D. 
C, descendants of the noblest ancestry that ever lived 
and inhabited this, the fairest land that God ever made. 

These circumstances, these surroundings and inspir- 
ing scenes make hallowed the lives of these few surviv- 
ing old veterans, rendering it a panacea for all that we 
as soldiers of the "lost cause'' encountered and suffered. 

From the fulness of my heart I thank you, noble ladies, 
for your kindness and patient attention. This oppor- 
tunity to appear before you today is more than a pleasure 
and I feel honored to find myself in your presence and 
appreciate your happy greeting. 


(From an address delivered at the meeting of the 
Morgan's Men Association at Olympian Springs, Septem- 
ber 2, 1916.) 

Mr. President^ Old Comrades, Ladies and Gentlemen: 

I must confess that this is somewhat embarrassing at- 
tempting to talk in public at the age of seventy-two, never 
having attempted such a thing before. But the subject 
upon which I am expected to talk is certainly, to myself, 
at least, interesting, and the occasion I am sure is happy 
and inspiring, had I only the ability to do them justice. 
However, by reason of my inexperience in matters of this 
kind, I believe I can safely appeal to the charity of my 
audience to overlook any failure I may make to properly 
interest them in what I shall have to say. 

You ask sir, that I shall relate some of my observations 
and experiences of the great battle of Shiloh. Well fifty- 
two years and more is a long time and takes us back to that 
important event in American History that transpired on 
the banks of the Tennessee on April 6 and 7, 1862. Some 
of these old veterans now seated before me can doubtless 
remember many of the exciting and intensely interesting 
scenes of these two eventful days. It is more deeply im- 
pressed upon my mind, because of the fact that it was 
our initial battle and early impressions are said to be al- 
ways most lasting. 

This was the first of a series of grand and important 
events in the history of that renowned little band of Ken- 
tuckians, known in history as the "Orphan Brigade," but 
which for the present occasion I shall designate as the Ken- 
tucky Brigade, it not receiving its baptismal or historic 
name until the celebrated charge of Breckinridge at Mur- 


24 The Orphan Brigade. 

freesboro. But what a grand and thrilling opening chapter 
in the lives of these Kentucky boys, as soldiers, for we were 
only boys, as we now look back at things, a majority of 
us being under twenty-one. 

Now, if I were called upon to say which in my judg- 
ment was the best planned, most thoroughly and sys- 
tematically, fought battle of the war in which I took part, 
I would unhesitatingly say Shiloh. As time rolled on and 
with subsequent observations and experiences on other im- 
portant fields, such as Murfreesboro, Chickamauga, Resaca, 
Atlanta, Jonesboro and a number of others, I am still con-, 
strained to say that Shiloh was the typical battle. I mean, 
of course, battles fought in the West and in which Ken- 
tucky troops took a prominent part. 

If in relating my story I shall seem somewhat partial to 
Kentuckians, I hope I may be excused for it is of them I 
shall talk mainly, besides, you know I love them dearly. 
And in the exercise of this partiality I claim to be justi- 
fied from the fact that a number of the leading characters 
in this grand tragedy of war were Kentuckians. First 
among whom was the great general and peerless leader; 
others were Breckinridge, Preston, Tighlman, Trabue, 
Helm, Morgan, Monroe, Lewis, Hunt, Hodges, Wickliffe, 
Anderson, Burns, Cobb and last but by no means least, 
Governor George W. Johnson whose patriotic example was 
unsurpassed and whose tragic death was one of the most 
pathetic incidents of the great battle. A conspicuous figure 
indeed was he, so much so that when found on the field 
mortally w^ounded by the enemy, they believed him to be 
General Breckinridge. Private John Vaughn, of my old 
Company H of the Fourth Regiment, relates this story in 
regard to this sad and lamentable incident. Vaughn was 
severely wounded and was lying ou the field near where 
Governor Johnston fell and from which he had just been 
removed by the enemy, when General Grant rode up and 
inquired to what command he belonged. When told by 
Vaughn to what command he belonged, Grant said : "And 

The Orphan Brigade. 25 

it is Kentuckians, is it, that have been fighting my men so 
desperately at this point?" Here is where the four des- 
perate charges and counter-charges were made on the Sev- 
enth and noted by Colonel Trabue as commander of the 
Kentucky Brigade in his official report of the great battle, 
the bloodiest part of the field where Kentucky gave up 
many of her noblest and best. This is the field to which 
General Grant refers in his "Memoirs," when in writing 
of the desperate fighting of the Confederates, he says : "I 
saw an open field on the second day's battle over which the 
Confederates had made repeated charges, so thickly cov- 
ered with their dead that it might have been possible to 
have walked across the clearing in any direction stepping 
on dead bodies without touching a foot to the ground." 

Here were enacted scenes of sublime courage and hero- 
ism that elicited the admiration and comment of the civil- 
ized world ; here the soil of Tennessee drank freely the 
blood of her elder sister, Kentucky, 

But Grant, when told by Vaughn that he belonged to 
the Kentucky Brigade, turned to one of his aids and or- 
dered a litter to be brought and had Vaughn placed upon it 
saying, "We have killed your General Breckinridge and 
have him down yonder," pointing in the direction of their 
field hospital. He then had him taken down to where the 
supposed General Breckinridge lay. It seems that they 
were doubtful of and wished to establish his identity. 
Pointing to the body of the dying Governor he asked 
Vaughn if he was not his general. When Vaughn told him 
that it was Governor Johnson and not General Breckin- 
ridge, Grant turned away quickly with a look of disap- 
pointment upon discovering his mistake and learning who 
he was. Vaughn used to relate this incident with consid- 
erable feeling and pride as connecting him with General 
Grant at this particular time and under such peculiar and 
painful circumstances. I mention it because it contains 
more than ordinary interest to some of us Kentuckians, 

26 The Orphan Brigade. 

who had the opportunity of witnessing the heroic conduct 
and sublime courage of this noble citizen of Kentucky. 

But let us notice while passing some of the sacrifices 
Kentucky made in this first great battle of the war in the 
West and the compliment incidently and unintentionally 
paid us (as Kentuckians), by the greatest general that 
ever commanded the Federal army. 

First among whom was the great general and peerless 
leader, Albert Sidney Johnston, whose name I always 
mention with feelings of profound pride and admiration, 
I would liked to have said veneration. George W. Johnson, 
the noble beloved citizen and patriotic Governor, whose 
voluntary example of sublime courage and heroism was 
without a parallel in the great battle. Thomas B. Monroe, 
the youthful and distinguished journalist, statesman and 
accomplished soldier, a man with scarce a peer at his age 
in either civil or military life. Charles N. Wickliffe, the 
gallant and dashing colonel of the Seventh Kentucky, and 
a thousand other Kentuckians many less distinguished but 
equally brave — the flower of Kentucky youth and man- 
hood. Is it any wonder I am partial to Kentuckians and 
proud of their record in this great and memorable battle? 

Oh, how well I remember the morning of that eventful 
Easter Sabbath, April 6, 1862. So beautiful and lovely 
that all nature seemed proud and happy. Trees budding, 
flowers blooming, birds singing, everything seemingly joy- 
ful and happy in the bright sunshine of earlv spring, save 
man alone. But with what awfulness the scene changes 
when we contemplate man's actions at this hour and time 
bent upon the overthrow and destruction of his fellowman 
and how ominously significant the preparation. 

Just at early dawn we were quietly awakened by our 
officers — many a noble and brave boy from his last sleep 
on earth; the bugle not sounding the reveille, for fear of 
attracting the attention of the enemy, it being part of the 
great general's plan to take him by surprise, which suc- 
ceeded admirably, notwithstanding the oft repeated de- 

The Orphan Brigade. 27 

nials of General Grant to the contrary. Quickly arrang- 
ing our toilets and having hastily despatched breakfast 
from our haversacks we formed in double column by com- 
pany, the band in front leading, playing "Dixie," which 
sounded upon the early morning stillness in this deep 
wildwood, as it never before sounded, soul-stirring and in- 
spiring. What patriotic soldier could fail to be moved by 
its charm and pathos? The veil of caution and silence now 
removed by the band, down through the woods of massive 
oaks we moved at quick-step, every man doubtless believing 
himself the equal of half a dozen Yankees. A very errone- 
ous notion indeed, soon dispelled by hard and stubborn 
facts to the contrary. But on we moved stopping but once 
to unsling knapsacks, which with our Sunday clothes and 
precious jewels we never saw again. Ah, some of those 
precious iewels ! Still on we moved. Now the roll of the 
Skirmishers' rifles away out in front told that the issue 
of battle was being joined, not Greek against Greek, but 
American against American in one of the most desperate 
and sanguinary conflicts of the great war. Led by two of 
the greatest military chieftains of the age; here the high 
spirited and chivalrous youth from the Southern planta- 
tions and the daring, hardy Western boy from the prairies 
of the West, had met in battle array. 

Here was to be a display of courage and chivalry un- 
surpassed in the annals of war. Now an occasional boom, 
boom, of the big guns, began to echo up and down the valley 
of the Tennessee as Hardee's batteries seemingly in chorus 
with those of the enemy in reply, began to open on Grant's 
battalions now hurriedly forming, having recovered from 
their surprise caused b}- the sudden and unexpected attack 
of Hardee's advanced lines. Stirred by the highest am- 
bition of our youthful hearts on toward the front rapidly 
and steadily, now in column of fours, moved the Ken- 
tucky Brigade. Passing down a little narrow valley just 
to the left and on the higher ground, we passed that gallant 
little band of Kentuckians known as Morgan's Squadron 

28 The Orphan Brigade. 

at the head of which, seated on "Black Bess" the real (not 
the mythical "Black Bess" that some of you fellows some- 
times talk so loudly about and never saw), but the real 
Black Bess — was that grandest specimen of a Kentucky 
soldier, save one — the immortal Breckinridge — Captain 
John H. Morgan. The Kentucky Brigade was proud to 
find itself in such noble, such royal company, though for a 
passing moment only. Oh, how it thrilled our hearts as 
these Kentucky boys, Morgan's men, greeted us by waving 
their hats, cheering and singing their famous battle song; 
"Cheer, boys, cheer; we'll march away to battle; 
Cheer, boys, cheer, for our sweethearts and our wives ; 
Cheer, boys, cheer; we'll nobly do our duty. 
And give to Kentucky our arms, our hearts, our lives." 
General Duke, you remember this incident. Do you 
not, sir? More than happy am I with such a noble wit- 
ness to attest the correctness of this part of my story. It 
was the second line of this famous stanza that touched my 
soul most and sunk deepest into my youthful heart, for I 
had left back in old Nicholas a little, black-eyed, curly- 
haired maiden whose image at that very moment seemed 
fairer than all the angels in heaven. My old heart still 
beats quick when I think of this thrilling incident and 
those charming eyes. Now there are doubtless some of you 
old veterans who are listening to me that left home under 
similar circumstances as myself kissing farewell, as you 
thought, perhaps for the last time, the dear little girl you 
were leaving behind and who felt on the battle's verge as 
I did and was tempted to exclaim with me in the anguish 
of your heart, "Oh cruel, cruel relentless war, what sad 
havoc you have wrought with lovers and lovers' lives." 
Verily, old comrades, I believe I am growing sentimental 
as well as very childish, but these thoughts crowd my 
memory and must have vent. Still to the battle's breach 
I must go where the "pride, pomp and circumstances of 
glorious war" invite. 

Pressing rapidly forward we quickly passed through 

The Orphan Brigade. 29 

the enemy's outer encampments from which they had fled 
when attacked and surprised by Hardee's skirmishers, leav- 
ing behind them untouched, their breakfasts of steaming 
hot coffee, fried ham and other good things with which 
their improvised tables seemed to be heavily ladened, and 
which under other and more favorable circumstances, we 
would have quickly appropriated. But the scenes of great- 
est moment and absorbing interest were on the front to- 
ward which we were rapidly hurrying where the clash of 
steel, shot and shell was resounding with the fury of 

How well I remember the first victim of war — a Con- 
federate — I saw on this eventful morning. How well, too, 
I remember the hiss and scream of the first shells of the 
enemy's guns that passed closely above our heads, and 
how quickly and ungracefully we bowed in acknowledg- 
ment. How well, also, I remember the first volley fired at 
us by Colonel Wor thing-ton's Forty-sixth, Ohio, our neigh- 
bors from just across the river. We had hardly completed 
the formation of changing "front to rear" on our first 
company in order to confront them squarely bv bringing 
our line parallel with theirs, when they opened fire on us, 
getting the drop on us, if you please. 

]l»^ow I need not say much about this experience, for I 
am sure that every old veteran remembers well the first 
fire to which he was exposed, but I do believe that my hair 
must have stood on end and fairly lifted my cap for I felt 
as they leveled their rifles, that every man of us would 
surely be killed. Not many however, were killed or seri- 
ously hurt, for the enemy in their eagerness and great ex- 
citement fired wildly over our heads. The next was ours, 
and as we had been previously cautioned by Major Monroe 
to fire low, we made it count. Quickly reloading our rifles 
we had hardly fired the second volley when the sharp shrill 
voice of Major Monroe rang out amid the roar and din 
of battle, "Fix bayonet" and was quickly repeated by the 
company commanders. My, my; oh Lord; but the cold 

30 The Orphan Brigade. 

chills darted up and down my spinal column as I con- 
templated the use of the bayonet. Now if there is any 
scene upon the battle-field more exciting and more terrify- 
ing than the glimmer and glitter of a fixed bayonet in the 
hands of a desperate and determined enemy, pointed di- 
rectly at your throat or your stomach, I have never seen 
it. Terrified at the gleam and clatter of our bayonets 
iWorthington's men broke and fled through the woods rally- 
ing on their reserves, stationed some distance in rear of 
their original position. It was well perhaps for them that 
they did, for thoroughly drilled as we were in the bayonet 
exercise, they would doubtless have found themselves at 
a great disadvantage in the use of this weapon, had they 
stood to make the test. But with fixed bayonets, acceler- 
ated by the Rebel yell, we followed at a double-quick, pass- 
ing over their dead and wounded halting just beyond. What 
a ghastly sight ; what a terrible scene ! Here was pictured 
for the first time in our experience the horrors of the battle- 
field in all of its hideousness. How well the new Enfield 
rifles, with which we had been armed just before leaving 
Burnsville for the battlefield two days before, following 
the reading of General eTohnston's famous battle order, were 
used upon this occasion, the dead and severely wounded of 
more than three hundred of the enemy grimly told. Colo- 
nel Trabue in his official report says more than four hun- 
dred but I hardly think there were ,so many. There were 
enough at least to attest the efficiency of our new Enfields 
and the correctness of our aim. Many of these poor fel- 
lows begged us piteously not to kill them as though we 
were a band of savages without pity or compassion, know- 
ing nothing of the usages and customs of civilized warfare. 
It was an insult to our sense of honor and chivalry. But 
we soon convinced them by every act of kindness possible 
under the circumstances that we were both civilized and 
chivalrous, notwithstanding the teachings of the Northern 
press to the contrary. How false, absurd and ridiculous 
these charges by some of these stayed-at-home sycophants 

The Orphan Brigade. 31 

of the Northern press accusing us with brutal and inhu- 
man treatment of their wounded that fell into our hands. 
But, just before the encounter of the Fourth Kentucky, 
which occupied the extreme left of the Confederate battle 
line, with the Fortj-sixth Ohio, the roll of musketry and 
the roar of artillery came down the battle line from right 
to left (a distance of more than three miles), like the suc- 
cessive waves of the ocean as Grant hurled his battalions 
in echelon against the extended lines of Johnston, open- 
ing fire in rapid succession as they deployed and struck 
our lines, to which, the Confederates in like successive 
manner instantly replied. Oh, I tell you this was sublime- 
ly grand beyond the power of man to describe. As Grant's 
battalions were successfully met and hurled back, that ter- 
rible and ominous sound, the "Rebel yelF' heard by us for 
the first time on the battle field told that the day was surely 
and steadily becoming ours. The enemy made another 
desperate and determined stand and from their advan- 
tageous position occupied by their reserves on which their 
broken columns had rallied, they poured a deadly and de- 
structive fire into our ranks killing and wounding many of 
our men. We had been pushed forward under the enemy's 
fire and halted to await the movement of our reinforce- 
ments moving in our rear and to our left, and while await- 
ing the execution of this movement we learned quickly for 
the first time the importance of lying flat on our faces as 
a means 'of protection from this deadly fire of the enemy. 
This was trjdng indeed under orders not to fire ; compelled 
to remain passive and see your comrades being killed all 
around you, momentarily expecting the same fate your- 
self. At last co-operating with the flanking column on our 
left, with fixed bayonets we made a desperate direct at- 
tack and drove the enemy from this very formidable posi- 
tion which they had been holding for some time, not how- 
ever until we had lost in killed and wounded more than 
two score of our brave and gallant boys. I am now speak- 
ing of the operations of my own regiment — matters were 

32 The Orphan Brigade. 

too absorbing to pay much attention to what others were 

Again pushing forward we quickly encountered the 
enemy's reinforcements, which they had thrown forward to 
resist our advance and were again exposed to another 
scathing and deadly fire. Again resorting to our former 
tactics of lying flat on our faces, we returned their fire, 
turning upon our backs to reload our rifles, then again 
upon our faces to deliver fire, here the battle raged furi- 
ously, for some time and here again we lost a number 
more of our gallant boys. I shall never forget the anguish 
of the boy immediately to my left, as he expired from the 
effects of a ball that passed through his body. In the 
meantime and while the battle was raging at this point, 
Burns' and Cobb's Kentucky batteries of fourteen pieces, 
which were stationed upon the extreme right of the Ken- 
tucky Brigade, were hurling shot and shell, grape and 
canister, with terrific and deadly force into the enemy's 
moving columns, as they shifted from right to left of the 
battle line. Grant seemed anxious to turn our left, but 
was anticipated and promptly met by counter-movements 
of the Confederates, he having a most worthy rival in the 
art and skill of maneuvering troops upon the battlefield. 
Finally the terrible and desperate assault of the Tennes- 
seans away to our right, led by the gallant Breckinridge 
and the peerless Johnston against the enemy's center and 
his stronghold, known as the "Hornet's Nest," compelled 
Grant to yield every position he had taken and seek shelter 
and protection under the banks of the Tennessee. This 
was the sad and fatal moment, for here in this desperate 
charge the great general fell. 

Co-operating with the troops on our left the Kentucky 
Brigade hinged upon Burns' battery, the whole left wing 
of the army swinging like a massive gate to the right, 
joined in this last desperate charge and had the proud sat- 
isfaction of participating in the capture and impounding 
of Prentiss' division of more than three thousand men, in- 

The Orphan Brigade. 33 

eluding the celebrated Watterhouse battery of Chicago 
with its magnificent equipment of new guns and fine 
horses. This magnificent battery had been equipped by 
this great millionaire for whom it was named, we wondered 
how he felt when he learned the fate of his pets. I never 
in my entire experience as a soldier saw such a humiliated 
and crestfallen body of soldiers as these men were ; prison- 
ers driving their own magnificent battery from the field. 
It looked really cruel to thus humiliate them. But then 
you know it is said, that all's fair in love and war. To the 
first of which saying I am compelled to demur for I know 
that all is not fair in love, however, it may be in war. But 
in striking contrast what a jubilant and overjoyed set of 
fellows we Confederates were, what a time for rejoicing! 

This was one of the proudest moments of my soldier 
life, exciting and thrilling almost beyond description. Their 
artillery being driven from the field by their own gunners ; 
their infantry formed in a hollow square stacking arms and 
lowering their colors ; their offlcers dismounting and turn- 
ing over their horses and side arms; Confederate officers 
and orderlies galloping to and fro in every direction; ex- 
citement unbounded and uncontrolled everywhere. Imagine 
these transcendent and rapidly transpiring scenes and 
think for a moment if you can, how these "boys" unused to 
such tragedies must have felt amid such stupendous and 
overwhelming surroundings. Why we made the very 
Heaven and earth tremble Avith our triumphant shouts. 
And I doubt not, I know they did, for General Grant inti- 
mates they did, the euemy routed and hurrying to the 
banks of the Tennessee for protection, trembled also. 

Now the scene changes somewhat, reforming our lines 
and filing to the right and left around this enclosed square 
in which these prisoners were held, we again moved for- 
ward to the front expecting to deliver the last and final 
blow. Four o'clock three-quarters of an hour later, with 
more than two hours of sunshine in which to deliver the 
last and final blow, found us drawn up in the most mag- 

34 The Orphan Brigade. 

nificent line of battle I ever beheld, extending up and down 
the river bottom to the right and left as far as we could 
see, straight as an arrow ; every man in place standing at 
"attention" exuberant with joy, flushed with victory, all 
understanding the situation, eager for the signal to be 
given that they knew would finish the glorious day's work. 
Grant's army cowering beneath the banks of the Tennessee 
awaiting the final summons to surrender. What a moment 
of grand anticipation and oh, how quick the heart beat! 
But at what fearful cost to the Confederate cause, the ap- 
parent great victory ! The voice of the great commander, 
now silent with a successor unwilling to finish the day's 
work so gloriously begun and so successfully executed up 
to the hour of his fall. And oh, how important the hour 
to the new born nation ! How portentous the signs ! Here 
and in this hour was sacrificed the opportunity of the 
Southland's cause, here was thrown away, so to speak — 
the grandest opportunity ever offered to any general in 
modern times. Here the "green-eyed monster," jealousy, 
must have whispered into the ear of Beauregard. Here I 
must draw the black curtain of disappointment and despair 
to which I never can be reconciled. But let it rest as lost 
opportunity and bury it in the oblivion of forgetfulness. 
Paradoxically speaking here was lost the opportunity of 
the "Lost Cause." But what followed, many, yes all of 
us know too well. 

It is strange what momentous events sometimes turn 
upon seemingly trifling and insigniflcant circumstances. 
With the prevailing tenseness of the moment, if one man 
had leaped to the front of that battle line and shouted 
"forward," Grant's army as a consequence would have 
been overrun and captured. Grant known no more in his- 
tory; the "Stars and Bars" would have been planted upon 
the banks of the Ohio ; Kentucky redeemed and history dif- 
ferently written. Had Johnston the great captain, lived, 

The Orphan Brigade. 35 

this* would have been accomplished. But it seems that 
Providence decreed it otherwise by removing the master 

From this magnificent battle line which I have at- 
tempted to describe and this moment of proud hope and 
expectancy we were by order of Beauregard, withdrawn 
to the camps of the enemy from which we had driven them 
during the day — not worn out and exhausted — which 
Beauregard gave as his excuse for failing to carry out the 
plans of the great commander to crush Grant before Buell 
could come to his rescue. 

Passing the night in the camps of the enemy; recount- 
ing the exciting incidents of the day ; indulging in the rich 
and bountiful supplies of a plethoric commissary, and no 
less rich and bountiful supply of sutlers stores in great 
variety, just received from the North, we enjoyed a "Bal- 
shazzar" feast not knowing, and little thinking of the 
"handwriting on the wall" in the form of 30,000 reinforce- 
ments then crossing the Tennessee to be met and reckoned 
with on the morrow. 

Why, oh why, did Beauregard not allow us to finish 
the day's work so gloriously begun by Johnston? Every 
man must answer this question for himself. Beauregard 
did not answer it satisfactorily to the soldiers who were 
engaged, whatever the opinion of the world. What, but the 
spirit of envy and jealousy and an overweening ambition 
to divide the honors of victory with Johnston, which he 
hoped and expected to win on the morrow could have con- 
trolled his course? That and that alone, answers the sad 
question in the mind of your humble friend and comrade. 
I am aware that this will be considered presumption in 
me, but it is history in part and as observer and participant, 
I have the right to criticize. 

The morning of the fateful 7th came and with it the 
direful results that followed. The arrival of Buell, the 
Blucher of the day, turned the tide and sealed the fate of 
the cause — the golden opportunity lost, lost forever! The 
historv of that dav is well known to all students of the 

36 The Orphan Brigade. 

great war and to none better than the few survivors of that 
little band of Kentuckians afterward known in history, as 
the Orphan Brigade, and whose part in the grand tragedy 
was such an important factor. It needs no studied 
eulogium or lofty peroration to tell the story of the part 
played by this little band. A loss of forty per cent in killed 
and wounded tells the story, and is the panegyric offered 
by Kentucky on this memorable and bloody field. 

I might speak more in detail of this last day's bloody 
work and describe more at length many of the horrible 
sights witnessed and the terrible suffering of our wounded 
in their transfer to Corinth during the next three days 
over almost impassable roads — the most horrible the mind 
could possibly picture, exposed to the almost continuous 
downpour of rain and the awful, awful sadness that filled 
our hearts in the loss of so many of our comrades, kinsmen 
and school-fellow friends and the further deep humiliation 
of final defeat, but the story would be too horrible and sad 
to elaborate. 

I have already taken too much of your time in relating 
a little of personal romance in connection with something 
of history and in conclusion will say I am here in part for 
what may be, though I hope not, a last farewell handclasp 
with these dear "Old Boys," Morgan's men, the equals of 
whom as soldiers and citizens, Kentucky and the world 
will never again see. I thank you for your attention and 
the courtesy you have shown me. 

It seems altogether natural and opportune now that a 
large part of the world is engaged in war that our minds 
should revert to the past and the historic battle scenes in 
which we engaged should be renewed in reminiscence. 


Because of the similarity of scenes now transpiring on 
the Western front in France I am tempted to describe a 
scene that occurred and that I witnessed during the siege 
of Vicksburg in July, 1862. My regiment (4th Ky.) had 
been detailed and sent on detached service down to War- 
renton, some miles below Vicksburg, leaving in camp a 
number of sick that were unable to go, among whom was 
Capt. Bramblett and myself. On the morning of the 15th 
of July just at sunrise, suddenly, unexpectedly, as if the 
infernal regions had suffered an eruption, the earth rocked 
and trembled, the Heavens seemed pierced and rent with 
the roar and thunder of cannon of all sizes, mortars from 
gunboats, siege guns, land batteries and everything of a 
terrifying and destructive character, that man was capable 
of inventing appeared to be turned loose, an explanation 
of which no one would venture to make. 

Directly however, news came that the Confederate ram 
"Arkansas" had run the blockade of the upper fleet of 
federal gunboats and transports, and was lying at the 
wharf in Vicksburg. The news was magical on some of us 
sick fellows, and myself and Sergeant Knox started im- 
mediately, without breakfast, to see the wonder and learn 
the news of the exciting episode. Arriving at the wharf 
we soon saw the cause of the terrible outburst of excite- 
ment and terror. 

The Arkansas had been constructed at Yazoo City. 
Whisperings of its existence and probable descent upon 
the blockading fleet in the Mississippi had been heard for 
sometime, and now we could see the monster (so to speak) 
in her grim and battered condition with numerous holes 
in her smoke stack, made by shots from the enemy's guns, 


38 The Orphan Brigade. 

and a large piece torn out of her cast prow. Her crew was 
composed of the most daring despicable smoke-begrimed, 
looking set I ever beheld, but who were elated at their suc- 
cessful victory. It was both interesting and amusing to 
hear them discussing their recent experiences. 

That night the world went wild and pandemonium 
reigned supreme in and around Vicksburg; for every gun 
and mortar in both the upper and lower fleets turned loose 
every element of hell and terror they possessed, with the 
seeming determination to destroy everything in and 
around the devoted old city. The Confederate siege-guns 
with "Whistling Dick" for leader joining in the grand 
Orchestral chorus of ruin and chaos. 

The scene was the most spectacular and pyrotechnical 
event of the war and has never been equaled unless it has 
occurred in the awful experiences on the Western front or 
at the Dardanelles. It was sublimely grand and tests the 
wildest imagination of the mind to describe it. 

The air was literally burdened, with ascending and 
descending shells which were easily traced in their course 
upward and downward, shells from the upper and lower 
fleets, crossing each other in their flight Heavenward, be- 
fore they reached their zenith, others in their downward 
course and a few at the apex and still others, that failed 
to explode reached the ground destroying everything with 
which they came in contact. The flashes from these guns 
illumined the surroundings for miles, and reminded you 
of a terrific thunderstorm with continuous flashes of light- 
ning. Every color of the rainbow could be seen in this 
terrible and grand display. Balloon shaped clouds of 
smoke from exploding shells could be seen, floating slowly, 
softly, through the air, adding amazement and wonder to 
the grand aerial tragedy taking place in the Heavens. 

In reading of the terrific bombardments in the great 
war now raging, and comprehending these descriptions and 
pictures, I count myself no stranger, and this scene I have 
attempted to describe I am sure will compare favorably 

The Orphan Brigade. 39 

with anTthing in the great world-war of today. Not all 

the wonders and terrors of war are yours, boys ! Some of 

us older warriors have seen something of war too. But it's 
all grand and glorious, isn't it boys? 

MURFREESBORO (Stone River). 

It is to the great and interesting battle of Murfrees- 
boro and some of the incidents and circumstances preced- 
ing it, that I shall devote this article. History will some 
day accord it but one name, whereas it now has two — Mur- 
freesboro and Stone River — but I shall use the former. 

Here a mile or so Southeast of the city, on a beautifuj^ 
little plain or suburban scope of country, was encamped 
for a period of three months, the Orphan Brigade. The 
weather was beautiful and we enjoyed both it and the many 
good things we had to eat and the hospitable greetings of 
the good people of the town and surrounding country. But 
while we were enjoying these good things, we were under- 
going a strict military training, being drilled in the school 
of the company, battalion and the more comprehensive and 
enlarged movements of the brigade and division maneuv- 
ers, some of which we had seen employed at Shiloh and 
elsewhere by exigencies in actual battle. It was a matter 
of general pride in which as a member, I still glory that 
the Orphan Brigade was the most thoroughly drilled and 
best disciplined body of men in the Confederate army. In 
substantiation of this claim, I refer to the compliment paid 
us a little later on by General Hardee, in a trial drill with 
the First Louisiana Brigade, held at Beech Grove in the 
Spring following, and at which trial drill General Hardee 
was one of the judges, and was heard to say that to excel 
our drilling would require the construction of a different 
and better code than was laid down in the system of 
tactics bearing his name. The truth was we were deter- 
mined to allow no body of troops to excel us in anything 
pertaining to these accomplishments or history of the sol- 
dier. This was accomplished in a great measure by the re- 


The Orphan Brigade. 41 

quirements and training of that military martinet, "Old" 
Roger Hanson. I use the appellation with the most pro- 
found respect. The facts as to these accomplishments can 
be attested by numbers of men still living and who often 
refer to General Hanson's rigid discipline and require- 
ments with feelings of respect and pride. I must instance 
one circumstance, in support of this assertion. 

Some time after he took command he issued an order 
that all officers and privates alike should be in full dress 
and in proper places at roll call in the morning after the 
sounding of the reveille. This did not suit many of the 
officers who wanted to take a morning snooze, but ''Roger's" 
orders were inexorable to officers and soldiers alike and 
it was for a few mornings laughable to see these officers 
hustling on their clothes and into line. There was nothing 
that pertained to discipline and order that escaped his 
notice. It was sometimes amusing to hear some fellow 
relate his experience in attempting to outwit and fool him, 
and the fellow that attempted it was always caught. It 
just could not be done. 

But the whirligig of time was rapidly turning and 
bringing with it lively and exciting times ; big with impor- 
tance to the country and the Confederate cause and espe- 
cially and particularly to these dear Orphans of mine. 

While in Mississippi and preceding his disastrous Ken- 
tucky campaign and in which his malevolent nature was 
displayed, Bragg refused us the great joy we so earnestly 
and hopefully prayed for viz, the return to Kentucky with 
his army, where we might see the dear ones at home, and 
incidentally aid the cause by inducing enlistments. 

But the fact that quite a number of our fellow Ken- 
tuckians were coming out with the newly enlisted cavalry 
commands and bringing with them the news from home 
and friends — the first of consequence for a year or more — 
gave us some comfort and consolation. In the meantime 
some interesting matters of thrilling moment were tran- 

42 The Orphan Brigade. 

spiring down here, "Where the oak, the ash and red elm 
tree, all grow green in old Tennessee." 

Rosecrans, not satisfied with results at Perryville, was 
cutting across the country for another opportunity to test 
his military skill and prowess, and to punish these un- 
repentant rebels for daring to offer resistance to the "old 
flag" and trying to "break up the best Government the 
world ever saw," and over which Government some of these 
same people are now fussing among themselves. 

Excuse me, please. I see I am again off my base. Back 
to my beloved Orphans I must go. Oh, how I do love 

The change from the ordinary routine of drill maneuver 
and review was brought about by the plan of General Mor- 
gan to attack the enemy's advance post at Hartsville, North 
of the Cumberland and about thirty miles or more from 
Murfreesboro. This movement included in its plan the 
co-operation of the Orphan Brigade and making it a dis- 
tinctly Kentucky command, planned, led and fought by 
Kentuckians, and which was one of the most complete and 
brilliant affairs of the war. Some of us to this day feel 
the sting of disappointment of not being privileged to share 
in this "coitpe de grace/' as the Fourth and Sixth Regi- 
ments w^ere left at Baird's mill to guard against the possi- 
bility of an intercepting column from Nashville. My heart 
went out in sympathy (practically) to these boys on their 
return to our encampment, worn out with fatigue, ex- 
hausted and hungry and almost frozen, the weather being 
bitter cold and the ground covered with snow to a depth 
of several inches. I confess also to a feeling of sorrow 
for the poor blanketless prisoners who passed a night of 
suffering, though we did the best we could for them by fur- 
nishing them with fires. 

But here again the Orphans engaged in this fight paid 
dearly for their honors, especially the Second Regiment, 
which lost heavily in both officers and men, the Ninth Regi- 
ment also losing considerable. But this seemed but the 

The Orphan Brigade. 43 

prelude to the grand Christmas entertamment staged to 
come off later and when Breckinridge's Kentuckians re- 
ceived the soubriquet Orphan Brigade by which they have 
ever since been known and which will pass into the annals 
of history, alongside that of the "Tenth Legion," the "Old 
Guard" and "Light Brigade." 

With a sense of feeling that impresses me with my 
utter inability to at all do justice to the subject of Mur- 
freesboro (or Stone Eiver), I fear to undertake the task. 

To the writer this was in some respects one of the most 
interesting, exciting and captivating battles of the war in 
which he took part. Captivating, because the great battle 
of the 31st was witnessed from my vantage point of view — 
the left of our entrenchments on Swain's hill — overlooking 
the stretch of country on which the battle was fought, ex- 
tending as it did from the Nashville turnpike and railroad, 
which at this point are parallel, and at which point also 
stood the famous "Cowans' burnt house," referred to by 
historians and which I saw burn, the afternoon before. 
From this knoll I could see the principal part of the field. 

Before attempting to describe the battle on this part 
of the field, I must look up my Orphans and see what they 
are now, and have been doing these last few hours. On the 
afternoon of Monday, the 29th they took possession of this 
hill, which was the acknowledged key to Bragg's position 
of defense. And herein lies a kind of mystery, why he 
would trust to these men, in the judgment of whose ofii- 
cers he showed later on he had so little confidence, this the 
most important point in his whole line, and why should it 
be entrusted to them — the Kentucky Brigade. Some were 
wicked enough to say, and his course toward us later, as 
that of Friday, strengthens this belief that he wanted us 
all killed, hence placing us in the most perilous position. 
Now mind you, gentle reader, I am not giving this as my 
opinion, but others have given it as theirs. While "bivou- 
acking" a little behind this hill the enemy's skirmishers a 
little after dark made quite a determined onset on our 

44 The Orphan Brigade. 

skirmishers in front of the hill, but were driven back finally 
with considerable loss to both parties. It was a daring and 
courageous move and created no little excitement and con- 
cern and looked for a time like a night attack was pending. 
The 30th was spent in getting ready by both parties to the 

And early on the morrow we took our position on 
Swain's hill in support of Cobb's and the Washington ar- 
tillery. From my vantage position I could see more 
plainly the Confederate lines than the Federal, because the 
Confederates were on a direct line extending Southward, 
while the Federals were obliquely to the front and partial- 
ly obscured by an intervening cedar glade and in the after- 
noon the Confederates swung like a great gate on their 
pivotal position, while just behind and to the left of this 
was the enemy's strong point of resistance, to which he had 
finally been driven. The smoke from the guns of the long 
lines of infantry, as they moved forward to the attack and 
the counter stroke from the enemy's resisting columns, the 
dashing to and fro, up and down the lines and over the 
field by officers, orderlies, aides and couriers, carrying or- 
ders and dispatches, with here and there a battery belching 
forth shot and shell was a sight wonderful to behold and 
never to be forgotten. The most thrilling incident to that 
view was early in the day when a body of cavalry, sup- 
posed to be ''Dragoons," swung into line from behind the 
cedar glade with drawn sabers, gleaming and waving in 
the crisp chill sunlit air, dashed down over the open fields 
in a grand charge upon the Confederate infantry, whose 
movements a few moments before convinced me of this 
approaching cavalry charge. 

We had been instructed by Buckner, Monroe and others 
on the drill field in the formation of the ''hollow square" 
to resist the charge of cavalry and when I saw these regi- 
ments doubling column at half distance I knew what was 
coming. To see the field officers on horseback rushing 
within the squares as they closed and the front rank kneel- 

The Orphan Brigade. 45 

ing, all with fixed bayonets glittering in the frosty sun- 
light, and these oncoming charges with waving sabers and 
glittering helmets was a sight unsurpassed by anything I 
witnessed during the war. The nearest approaching it was 
by Sherman's charge at Resaca. As soon as the squares 
were formed the artillery in the rear opened fire through 
these intervening spaces made by the formation of the 
square, whereupon artillery and infantry combined swept 
the field and the charging column turned in confusion and 
route, skurrying helter skelter back over the field, leaving 
numbers of men horseless. 

Soon the "Eebel yell" down the line told us that things 
were going our way and looking we could see our friends 
moving forward like a mighty serpent drawing his coils. 

While this was transpiring on the left a battery in our 
front on the opposite side of the river was industriously 
employed in shelling Cobb's and Slocum's batteries sta- 
tioned on Swain's hill, and whose business for the time it 
was the Orphans to support. When I saw this cavalry 
charge, to which I have referred, the thought instantly and 
involuntarily came to my mind of the repeated attacks of 
Napoleon's cavalry on the squares of Wellington's infantry 
at Waterloo. The sight was so thrilling that I hoped they 
would repeat it. But how foolish, I thought this was, in 
this body of cavalry attempting to ride down regiments 
of veteran infantry. Their officers must surely have 
thought that they could reach the Confederate line before 
they could complete this formation. If so, they paid dearly 
for their mistake. 

The battle progressed steadily and satisfactorily to the 
Confederates until about four o'clock, when they, in the 
language of the "bum," "run against a snag." Woods' and 
Sheridan's divisions, with other of Rosecrans' forces had 
concentrated upon his extreme left, which was his strong- 
est position for a final and last stand. The conflict here 

46 The Orphan Brigade. 

was desperate and bloody, neither party seeming to have 
much the advantage. 

The National cemetery now occupies this identical 
ground and in which there are more than 6,000 Federal 
soldiers buried. A beautiful and fit place for the remains 
of these brave Western soldiers to rest, for here upon this 
field was displayed a courage that all men must admire. 

Both armies slept that night upon the field with the 
greater part of the field in possession of the Confederates 
and the advantages and results of the day almost wholly 
in their favor. 

The Orphans spent the night in the rear of and among 
the artillery they had been supporting. When morning 
came we found that the enemy was still in our front instead 
of on the road to Nashville as Bragg believed. Both par- 
ties seemed willing that a truce should prevail for the day 
and scarcely a shot was heard. Bragg believed that Rose- 
crans' army was "demolished" and would surely retreat to 
his base (Nashville), and so informed President Davis. 

But old "Rosy" had something else in his mind. He 
was planning and scheming and matured a plan for a trap 
and Bragg walked right into it with the innocence of a 
lamb and the ignorance of a man that had never known 
anything of the art of war, and the butchery of the next 
day followed as a result of his obstinacy and the lack of 
military skill. Had he listened to the protestations of 
General Breckinridge and his officers he might have saved 
for the time being his military reputation and the lives of 
several hundred brave and noble men. 

The recounting of the steps that led up to this ill-con- 
ceived and fatal denouement and the efforts by General 
Breckinridge to prevent its consummation, by one while 
not high in rank, but who claims to know something of 
the facts in the case, may not go amiss even at this late day. 

Early on the morning of January 2, Captain Bramblett, 
commanding Company H, Fourth Kentucky, and who had 
served with General Breckinridge in Mexico, received or- 

The Orphan Brigade. 47 

ders from him (Breckinridge), to make a thorough recon- 
naissance of the enemy's position, Company H being at 
that time on the skirmish line. Captain Bramblett with 
two of his lieutenants, myself one of them, crawled through 
the weeds a distance of several hundred yards to a prom- 
inent point of observation from which through his field 
glass and even the naked eye we could see the enemy's con- 
centrated forces near and above the lower ford on the 
opposite side of the river, his artillery being thrown for- 
ward and nearest to the river. His artillery appeared to be 
close together and covering quite a space of ground; we 
could not tell how many guns, but there was quite a num- 
ber. The infantry was seemingly in large force and ex- 
tended farther down toward the ford. Captain Bramblett 
was a man of no mean order of military genius and in- 
formation, and after looking at, and studying the situation 
in silence for some minutes, he said to us boys, "that he 
believed Rosecrans was setting a trap for Bragg." Con- 
tinuing, he said, "If he means to attack us on this side, why 
does he not reinforce on this side? Why concentrate so 
much artillery on the bluff yonder? He must be expecting 
us to attack that force yonder, pointing to Beatty's position 
on the hill North of us, and if we do, he will use that 
artillery on us as we move to the attack." At another time 
during the afternoon I heard him while discussing the 
situation with other officers of the regiment use substan- 
tially the same argument. I accompanied Captain Bram- 
blett to General Breckinridge's headquarters and heard 
him make substantially in detail a report containing the 
facts above recited. Captain Tom Steele was ordered (his 
company having relieved ours) on the skirmish line to 
make a reconnaissance also, and made a similar report, 
and lastly General Breckinridge, to thoroughly and un- 
mistakably understand the situation and satisfy himself, in 
company with one or two of his staff examined the situa- 
tion as best he could and I presume reached the same con- 
clusion, and when he (Breckinridge) repaired to Bragg's 

4:8 The Orphan Brigade. 

headquarters and vouchsafed this information and sug- 
gested the presumptive plan of the enemy, Bragg said: 
"Sir, my infonnation is different. I have given the order 
to attack the enemy in your front and expect it to be 

What was General Breckinridge to do but attempt to 
carry out his orders, though in carrying out this unwise 
and ill-conceived order it should cost in one hour and ten 
minutes 1,700 of as brave and chivalrous soldiers as the 
world ever saw. What a terrible blunder, what a bloody 
and useless sacrifice! And all because General Breckin- 
ridge had resented the imputation that the cause of the 
failure of Bragg's Kentucky campaign was the "disloyalty 
of her people to the Confederate cause." Could anyone of 
the thousands of Kentuckians that espoused the cause 
of the South, complacently acquiesce in this erroneous 
charge and endorse the spirit that prompted this order 
and led to the slaughter of so many of her noble boys? 
This was the view that many of us took of Bragg's course. 

How was this wicked and useless sacrifice brought 
about? "That subordinate must always obey his superior" 
— is the military law. In furtherance of Bragg's order we 
were assembled about three o'clock on the afternoon of 
January 2, 1863 (Friday, a day of ill luck) in a line North 
of and to the right of Swain's hill, confronting Beatty's 
and Growes' brigades, with a battery or two of artillery as 
support. They being intended for the bait that had been 
thrown across the river at the lower ford, and now occu- 
pied an eminence some three-quarters of a mile to the 
right-front of the Orphan's position on Swain's hill. 

This was the force, small as it was that Bragg was so 
anxious to dislodge. Between the attacking line and fed- 
eral position was a considerable scope of open ground, 
fields and pastures, with here and there a clump of bushes 
or briars, but the entire space was in full view of and 
covered by the enemy's batteries to the left of the line on 
the opposite side of the river previously referred to. If 

The Orphan Brigade. 49 

the reader will only carry these positions in his eye, he can 
readily discover the jaws of the trap in this murderous 

A more imposing and thoroughly disciplined line of 
soldiers never moved to the attack of an enemy than re- 
sponded to the signal gun stationed immediately in our 
rear, which was fired exactly at four o'clock. Every man 
vieing with his fellowman, in steadiness of step and cor- 
rect alignment, with the officers giving low and cautionary 
commands, many knowing that it was their last hour on 
earth, but without hesitating moved forward to their in- 
evitable doom and defeat. We had gotten only fairly 
started, when the great jaws of the trap on the bluff from 
the opposite side of the river were sprung, and bursting 
shells that completely drowned the voice of man were 
plunging and tearing through our columns, ploughing up 
the earth at our feet in front and behind, everywhere. 
But with steadiness of step we moved on. Two companies 
of the Fourth regiment, my own and adjoining company, 
encountered a pond, and with a dexterous movement known 
to the skilled officer and soldier was cleared in a manner 
that was perfectly charming, obliquing to the right and 
left into line as soon as passed. 

By reason of the shorter line held by the enemy, our 
line, which was much longer and the colors of each of our 
battalions being directed against this shorter line, caused 
our lines to interlap, making it necessary, in order to pre- 
vent confusion and crowding, that some of the regiments 
halt, until the others had passed forward out of the way. 
When thus halted they would lie down in order to shield 
themselves from the enemy infantry fire in front, who had 
by this time opened a lively fusillade from behind their 
temporary works. 

While lying on the ground momentarily a very shocking 
and disastrous occurrence took place in Company E, im- 
mediately on my left and within a few feet of where I lay, 
A shell exploded right in the middle of the company, al- 

50 The Orphan Brigade. 

most literally tearing it to pieces. When I recovered from 
the shock the sight I witnessed was appalling. Some 
eighteen or twenty men hurled in every direction, includ- 
ing my dear friend, Lieut. George Burnley of Frankfort. 
But these circumstances were occurring every minute now 
while the battle was raging all around and about us. Men 
moved intuitively — the voice being silenced by the whiz- 
zing and bursting shells. On we moved, Beatty's and 
Growes' lines giving way seemingly to allow the jaws of 
the trap to press with more and ever increasing vigor upon 
its unfortunate and discomfited victims. But, on we 
moved, until the survivors of the decoy had passed the 
river and over the lines stationed on the other side of the 
river, when their new line of infantry opened on our con- 
fused and disordered columns another destructive and 
ruinous fire. 

Coupled with this condition and correlative to it, a 
battery of Growes and a part of their infantry had been 
cut off from the ford and seeing our confused condition, 
rallied, reformed and opened fire on our advanced right 
now along the river bank. Confronted in front by their 
infantry, with the river intervening; swept by their ar- 
tillery from the left and now attacked by both infantry and 
artillery by an oblique fire from the right, we found our- 
selves in a helpless condition, from which it looked like an 
impossibility to escape; and but for the fact that two or 
three batteries had been ordered into position to check the 
threatened advance of the enemy and thereby distract their 
attention, we doubtless would have fared still worse. 

We rallied some distance to the right of where we 
started and found that many, very many, of our noblest, 
truest and best had fallen. Some of them were left on the 
field, among whom was my military preceptor, advisor and 
dear friend. Captain Bramblett, who fell into the hands of 
the enemy and who died a few days after in Nashville. I 
shall never forget our parting, a moment or two before, 
he received his wound — never forget the last quick glance 

The Orphan Brigade. 51 

and the circumstances that called it forth. He was a 
splendid soldier and his loss grieved me very much. Many 
another gallant Kentuckian, some of our finest line and 
field officers, were left on the field, a sacrifice to stupidity 
and revenge. Thirty-seven per cent in one hour and ten 
minutes — some say one hour — was the frightful summary. 
Among the first of these was the gallant and illustrious 
Hanson^ whose coolness and bearing was unsurpassed and 
whose loss was irreparable. He with Breckinridge, under- 
stood and was fully sensible of — as indicated by the very 
seriousness of his countenance — the unwisdom of this move 
and as shown in their protest to Bragg. What a pity that 
a strict observance of military rule compelled it to be 
obeyed against his mature military mind and judgment, 
causing the loss of such a magnificent soldier and gentle- 
man — uselessly and foolishly. 

Comtemplating this awful sacrifice, as he rode by the 
dead and dying in the rear of our lines. General Breckin- 
ridge, with tears falling from his eyes, was heard to say in 
tones of anguish, "My poor Orphans ! My poor Orphans !" 
little thinking that he was dedicating to them a name that 
will live throughout the annals of time and crown the his- 
tory of that dear little band with everlasting immortality. 

I have tried to give you above a description from mem- 
ory's tablet — of the battle of Murfreesboro, and I shall now 
relate some of my observations made on my recent visit 
together with further references, to the events that tran- 
spired on that eventful field — the study of which is of al- 
most overwhelming interest. 


Here, as elsewhere and on other fields, the view is espe- 
cially and particularly interesting, because of the country 
being more level and more open with the view much less 
obstructed. It was worth a half dozen years to live over, 

52 The Orphan Brigade. 

in reminiscence, this week of intense excitement, interest 
and danger. And here too, as at Chickamauga, memory 
refused to be satisfied, and I find myself wishing I could 
see it again. I feel that I could never tire looking at the 
different aspects of the view and studying the tragic scenes 
as they transpired on this eventful closing of this event- 
ful year of 1862, and the no less eventful opening of the 
year 1863. To those who lived in this historic decade and 
participated in these events of bygone years are of in- 
tense and ever thrilling interest, but few realize that these 
things happened a half century ago. 

Here as elsewhere events came back to me and I had but 
little or no difficulty in locating the leading and many of 
the minor places of interest. 

The immediate vicinity of our long encampment is 
changed considerably by houses being erected nearby and 
on the ground where our camps stood, but the big spring 
house, however, still does duty as of yore. The place on 
the Shelbyville turnpike where we held guard mount and 
review is much changed. So also are the grounds on the 
East side of the city where we held brigade and division 
drill, it now being "built up." But one of the leading 
landmarks of the town and of special interest to the Or- 
phans and other Kentuckians is still intact and but little 
changed in appearance but now used for a different pur- 
pose. I refer to the Judge Ready residence where General 
Morgan captured his grand prize. There is not an old 
Orphan now living, that does not remember how he used 
to primp for the march by this house, and how proudly he 
stepped and with what perfect mien he marched to Billy 
McQuown's best pieces, all to have the privilege of "show- 
ing off," and having the opportunity for a sly glance at the 
beautiful Queen sisters standing on the upper veranda. 
You know, old boys, just how this was, don't you? 

But my mind is taking me back to the battlefield where 
the things of real excitement were transpiring, where "the 

The Orphan Brkjade. 53 

pride, pomp and circumstances of glorious war are to be 

Starting out in company with Rev. Everett Smith, we 
took the Nashville pike crossing the river at the same place 
we crossed when on the retreat from Bowling Green to 
Shiloh in February, 1862, and where I had crossed several 
times while encamped later, near the town and over and 
beyond which I saw the celebrated cavalry charge and the 
victorious columns of the Confederates move on December 
31. My mind was so completely occupied and crowded that 
I scarcely knew what to do or say. I know I must have 
been a study, to my young friend for a time at least. 

I could see again in imagination the smoke and red 
fire and could hear the crackling flames as they leaped high 
in air of the famous "Cowan" house as we rode by. I 
imagined as we rode on that I could hear the yells and 
shouts of the contending lines as they surged forward and 
across the turnpike to the famous cut in the railroad, where 
Wood and Sheridan saved the day to the Federals against 
the last grand charge of Cleburne, Preston and Pillow of 
the Confederates. 

As before stated here is a fitting place for the six thou- 
sand Federals who rest here. Here at the cemetery, I was 
introduced to Captain Thomas, the officer in charge, who 
was exceedingly polite and courteous and whom I found by 
conversing with, that I had faced at Shiloh and who had 
the most perfect recollection of many of the chief points 
and incidents of that battle. I regretted very much that 
I could not spend more time with him, as he impressed me 
as being a man after my own heart. But my young friend 
and myself had promised to be back at the dinner hour 
and I was therefore, compelled to close my interview. 

I spent the afternoon in glancing over town and meet- 
ing and conversing with old soldiers and others whom I 
found interested in my mission, and willing and anxious 
to give me any information I desired. 

I met and arranged with Captain Mitchell, who now 
owns a part of the field over which the celebrated charge 

54 The Orphan Beigade. 

of Breckinridge was made, to go out with me next morn- 
ing and in company with him and a young friend, W. H. 
Hohgatt, of Pittsburgh, Pa. We started early, going over 
the same road, crossing the same bridge, as the day before 
to a point near the cemetery where the road to McFad- 
den's ford leaves the turnpike and runs North by the bluff, 
the famous bluff where Rosecrans' fifty-eight pieces of ar- 
tillery were stationed that wrought such dreadful havoc 
upon Breckinridge's men as they moved across the fields to 
attack Beatty and Growes (the decoy) on the other side 
of the river, here we crossed the river at the lower ford, 
so famous in history but which is properly known as Mc- 
Fadden's. Here we "tied up" and in company with my 
companions we took to the fields and woods, which latter 
exist now in fancy only. Up the gradual slope we go 
to the crest of the ridge (now a cotton patch) to where 
Beatty and Growe were stationed, swinging around 
as we go to the point overlooking the river on which 
stood the massive oaks where the Sixth Kentucky, led 
by that incarnate demon of war, "Old Joe" Lewis, with 
flashing sword and blazing eyes, more terrible than the eyes 
of a raging lion and who impressed me as I was never 
impressed before or since, with the devil in human form. 
He presented a picture at that time I shall never forget. 
It is as grimly and immovably fixed in my mind as the sun 
and the stars and I become enthusiastic whenever I think 
of him and the incident. Now we move along the crest 
Northward to the point where the Fourth Kentucky struck 
Beatty's line. Looking East and South towards the Leb- 
anon pike, we can see the vicinity where we started in the 
charge about midway between the crest and the pike. Turn- 
ing around we can look down the North slope of the ridge 
and over which we pressed Beatty and the right of Growes' 
brigade to McFadden's ford, dropping into, as we move 
down the narrow sag or depression that leads from the top 
of the hill straight to the ford and which furnished the only 
protection from the murderous fire of the fifty-eight guns 

The Orphan Brigade. 55 

massed on the bluff. Out of this depression, going or 
coming, we were exposed to this dreadful and incessant 
fire. Opposite to and some forty yards from this ford la 
the picket fence where we were compelled to halt and which 
is so well remembered by many of the Orphans. 

The Federals passed around the end of this fence, they 
being acquainted with the situation, but we struck it 
square and were compelled to halt. Just outside and along 
this picketing were piled the enemy's drums and upon 
which the minnie balls from their new and supporting line 
on the opposite side of the river were beating a funeral 
dirge for many of our dear boys who were here compelled 
to halt and die to no purpose whatever. I walked along 
this picket fence, which looks just as it did then, but of 
course has been rebuilt, and over the very ground on which 
my dear Captain Bramblett fell and with whom I ex- 
changed glances a moment before. To give expression to 
my feelings as I contemplated this last glance, this look in 
life at my dear friend and leader is impossible and I turn 
away with sickened heart from the fatal spot and retrace 
my steps over the field to the rallying point, every step of 
the way marked by exploding shells and flying shot from 
the enemy's battery of fifty-eight guns which seemed de- 
termined to show no mercy at all. 

Lest some one may say I am magnifying this story of 
the "battery on the bluff" I will quote here verbatim from 
• the tablet on the twenty-foot granite monument which 
marks the place occupied by these guns to mark the place 
from which the death-dealing shot and shell were hurled 
that resulted in the death of so many of Kentucky's noble 
and brave boys. 

I understand this monument was erected by the presi- 
dent of one of the great railway systems, the N. C. & St. L., 
who had participated in the famous charge. It is the most 
interesting and historic point of all the very interesting 
points of this eventful field. It was with awe and over- 
powering wonder and feeling that I indulged the scenes 

56 The Orphan Brigade. 

of fifty years ago, enacted on this spot. Here the very 
earth trembled beneath the thunderings of these fifty-eight 
cannon, sending death and destruction into the ranks of 
us poor unfortunate Confederates. 

The tablet upon this monument reads as follows ; 

"On January 2, 1863, at three p. m., there were sta- 
tioned on this hill, fifty-eight cannon commanding the field 
across the river and as the Confederates advanced over this 
field the shot and shell from these guns resulted in a loss 
of 1,800 killed and wounded in less than one hour.-' 

What a harvest of death in so short a time was wrought 
by shot and shell ! The most of whose victims were muti- 
lated and lacerated beyond recognition or description. Had 
the earth been torn by an earthquake the scene would not 
have been more terrible and hideously appalling. 

On a board marker, near by, in faded letters is this 
indefinite inscription : 

"Col. S. Mat , Third Division 14th A. C. Fed , 

Col. S. W. Price commanding. Holding Lower Ford, Dec. 
31, 1862." 

This evidently refers to the battery that played upon 
Cobb and Slocum on Swain's Hill. 

It would seem from these last words of this poster that 
the Federals were afraid on the first day's fight that the 
Confederates would attempt to turn their left by crossing 
at this ford, hence the placing of this battery here. Bragg, 
it seems, had no such thought, and, however, it was sta- 
tioned in our immediate front. West from Swain's Hill 
and as the battle progressed on the plain South of the 
railroad and turnpike it played upon Cobb and Slocum 
with increasing vigor and spirit. As before stated, the 
Orphans were stationed at this time in support to these 
batteries, and it was from this point that I witnessed the 
thrilling sights on the West side of the river. 

In company with my new-made genial and accommo- 
dating friend, W. G. Beatty, whose father owned the land 
on which the battle of the 2nd was fought, I visited 

The Orphan Brigade. 57 

Swain's Hill, which is evidently a mistaken name for the 
place, no one with whom I conversed, old or young, knew 
it by that name. I found on the hill, which I very readily 
recognized from the distance, the old entrenchments intact, 
save from the leveling effects of time, and on which an 
occasional locust sapling is growing with quite a thicket 
of the same in the immediate front. But from the left 
of this line of works and where I was stationed on the 
31st the view overlooking the railroad, turnpike and plain 
is perfectly clear. From here I looked, studied and won- 
dered. Why should I not linger and contemplate? Never 
until the great day of judgment do I ever expect to wit- 
ness such a thrilling and awe-inspiring scene as I here 
witnessed on that eventful day of December 31, 1862. 

Beatty contemplated me with interest, if not astonish- 
ment. So intensely interesting were these scenes and recol- 
lections I was almost tempted to spend another day con- 
templating and reviewing them. But we returned to the 
city at night to attend a church affair at the instance and 
invitation of my young friend from Bourbon, Rev. Everett 
Smith, whose guest I had been while here. 

I tried hard to forget and partially succeeded in for- 
getting the thoughts and reminiscences the day had sug- 
gested — in the presence of so many charming ladies and 
gallant gentlemen of Brother Smith's congregation and 
the additional enjoyment of the ice cream, cakes and straw- 
berries, my appetite of fifty years ago suddenly returning 
to remind me of the difference twixt now and then. 

Next morning my friend Beatty was on hand early with 
his automobile and speeded me over the city which I am 
frank to say is one of the most beautiful little cities I ever 
saw. I was charmed by the old time warmth and hospital- 
ity of its people and the greeting given me and I shall 
remember them as among the happiest of my life. And if 
I were young once more, I would be almost tempted to cast 

58 The Orphan Brigade. 

my lot with these good people in this good country, both 
of which are the next best to Kentucky. 

I must not forget to remind the old Orphans and others 
who may read this paper that after considerable inquiry 
I was able to find the old Haynes home, in which General 
Hanson died, and which is now occupied by Hon. Jesse 
C. Beasley, the present Democratic nominee for Congress 
in this district. I was shown through the house by his 
good little wife who although taken somewhat by surprise 
at my sudden and unexpected visit, but who courteously 
invited me to examine and inspect until fully satisfied. 
I stood in the room in which he died almost dumfounded 
with emotion. Here, in the presence of his heart-broken 
wife, and sorrowing friends his life gradually ebbed away 
and, took its flight to the realms above. 

I was reminded to tread lightly and speak softly on 
this solemn occasion, for here, passed away into the Great 
Beyond one of Kentucky's grandest and greatest noble- 

I attended that afternoon, in company with Captain 
Baird, Beatty and others, the anniversary decoration of 
the Confederate graves and listened to a fine oration and 
the delightful rendering of several appropriate songs by 
the Murfreesboro quartette. When they sang "My Old 
Kentucky Home," I hugged tightly, the tree against which 
I leaned and fear I betrayed a weakness for which I am 
not altogether ashamed, for what Kentuckian that lives, 
especially when away from home, whose soul is not moved, 
when he hears the sweet strains of this touching and soul 
inspiring song. How can he, when thus reminded of his 
old Kentucky home, keep from exclaiming (in mind at 
least) in the language of the poet: 

"Lives there a man ( Kentuckian ) with soul §o dead. 

Who to himself hath not said, this is my own, my 
native land." 

Before closing this chapter I must not fail to say that 
I found on this trip a manifestation of the same liberal 

The Orphan Brigade. 59 

hospitable and magnanimous spirit, that has ever char- 
acterized this noble and self-sacrificing people. To the 
good women of the South I owe my life; to them I bow 
and acknowledge obeisance as the truest, purest, sweetest 
and best of all God's creatures. 

No sacrifice, that mortal man could make is, too great 
a recompense for the love and devotion of these dear 
women who sacrificed, wept and suffered during the four 
long years of midnight darkness. They are the angels of 
the earth today ; to them, as such I uncover my head and I 
hail them. 

Finally I wish to acknowledge my thanks to Mr. and 
Mrs. C. D. Ivie, at whose home I was the guest of my friend, 
Rev. Smith and his charming little wife. To Editor Wil- 
liams, W. G. Beatty, Captains Baird and Mitchell, Dr. 
Campbell and others, I am indebted for many courtesies 
and favors. 




I am now attempting to write from this Lookout Moun- 
tain, one of the most picturesque as well as interesting 
places on the American continent. Near by and round 
about here some of the greatest episodes in the world's 
history transpired near the close of that eventful year, 

Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, 
where the lives of sixty-five thousand Americans were 
either destroyed or more or less wrecked. 

A feeling of philosophy and awe prompts me to ask 
why all this great sacrifice of human life, misery and suf- 

Was the Great God that made man now looking on 
this awful scene of carnage and woe again repenting that 
He had made wicked, rebellious and murderous man; or 
was it a part of His omnipotent plan for man's inherent 
folly and wickedness driving him to destroy his fellow- 

Whatever it was it seems to have been accomplished 
here amid these towering mountains. 

But so it was and I, one insignificant actor in the 
grand drama, am still permitted to live and recount some- 
of the thrilling scenes as they were enacted. It is beyond 
my power to describe minutely and correctly all the thril- 
ling sights that I witnessed on this eventful occasion 
(Battle of Chickamauga) and I shall refer to those only 
that concern myself and my Kentucky comrades, unless 
incidentally it shall appear necessary to my story. 

I will, therefore, not attempt to note the maneuvering, 
the marching and counter-marching, back and forth, up 


The Orphan Brigade. 61 

and down the Chickamauga Valley, in and about Ross- 
ville and Crawfish Springs and their vicinity ; all of which, 
at that time, seemed to me was but the waving of the red 
flag in the face of Rosecrans in '*/ dare you to come out" 
spirit on the part of Bragg. 

Whatever motives, schemes and strategy it contained 
we all knew, rank and file, field and staff, that we were 
on the eve of momentous events. We all knew that here 
the question of "Greek meeting Greek" would soon again 
be tested and two of the mightiest armies of modern times 
would be locked in mortal combat. We had not long to 
wait for on the morning of the nineteenth (September 
1863) an occasional boom, boom, away to the right and 
front told us of the coming storm that was about to break 
over and sweep Chickamauga Valley with a mighty ava- 
lanche of thunder and horror that shook the very earth 
itself. Slowly but steadily the roar of artillery increased 
and by the middle of the afternoon became almost inces- 

Longstreet's Virginians had come out to show the 
Western army how to fight and they were now learning 
that Rosecrans' Western veterans could give instruc- 
tions in the art of war as well as they and that they were 
not facing the aliens and wage soldiers that constituted 
a large part of the Army of the Potomac. They also 
found, as the battle progressed, that the Western army 
of the South knew as well and were as willing to "stand 
up Johnnie" and give and take blow for blow as they. The 
evening wore on and occasional reports from the front 
brought news that the Confederates were holding their 
own and a little better. 

Meantime the "Orphans" were on the move toward the 
front and facing the enemy's moving column on the Chat- 
tanooga road, which led to Rossville and near Glass' Mill, 
at which place the artillery of Breckinridge's division, 
commanded by the gallant Major Graves, engaged the 
enemies in one of the fiercest artillery duels it was my 

62 The Orphan Brigade. 

pleasure to witness during the war. I say pleasure advis- 
edly, for it was a magnificent sight to see from where I 
was stationed Graves moving among his men and direct- 
ing their every action, which was done with an admirable 
celerity and precision that was perfectly channing. I 
must here do Graves the honor to say that he was the 
most perfect military man I ever saw. But this was but 
the prelude to the play of the morrow ; both parties seem- 
ing (after a half hour's engagement) to say we will settle 
tomorrow. "Sunday is a better day." 

Shifting our position to Lee and Gordon's Mill, fur- 
ther down the Chickamauga, in the afternoon, we here 
awaited developments and that night made a long detour 
and crossed at Alexander's Bridge, several miles down the 
river. Next morning we found ourselves on the extreme 
right of the dividing line of the stage of action marked 
out by the respective commanders for the grand tragedy 
that day to be enacted upon the stage of war. Early, very 
early the Fourth Kentucky Skirmishers (and I here glory 
in the fact) had the honor of firing the first shots in the 
opening that day of the greatest battle ever fought on the 
American continent, if not the greatest in modern times. 
This assertion may be called in question by critics, but if 
I mistake not there were more men killed and wounded at 
Chickamauga than in any other engagement of the war. 

Here the old and somewhat sacrilegious saying of "Hell 
broke loose in Georgia" was fully and forcefully empha- 
sized by the almost continuous thundering of 200 cannons 
that made the very earth tremble, besides the constant 
rattle of musketry and the shouts of more than a hundred 
thousand struggling combatants determined on each 
other's destruction. Americans all, and all for what? 
That a God-made inferior race might occupy the same 
plane with the superior was the object of one, while that 
right was disputed by the other. But I fear I may be 
digressing somewhat from the original purpose in these 
chapters. Still these thoughts are hard to suppress. Re- 

The Orphan Brigade. 63 

viewing the incidents of the great battle and the part 
played by Kentucky Confederates I return to the skirmish 
line of the Fourth Kentucky, which covered the front of 
the Orphan Brigade and which was commanded by Col. 
Joe Nuckols, who was wounded at the very outset of the 
engagement and compelled to leave the field. 

The writer was the subject at this particular time and 
place of the most ridiculous and practical joke of his entire 
war experience, but which (thanks to the Bill of Rights) 
he is not here compelled to relate. This was the begin- 
ning of that chapter in the history of the Orphan Brigade, 
which took the lives and blood of so many noble Ken- 
tuckians to write. In the first and desperate onset, led by 
the noble and intrepid Helm, whose name is a household 
word with almost all Kentuckians, fell here, together with 
Graves, Hewitt, Dedman, Daniel, Maderia and other 
officers of the line, and many splendid men of the Second 
and Ninth Regiments, who paid with their lives tribute 
to Mars and added to Kentucky's old traditional glory 
and renown. 

Three regiments on the right. Fourth, Sixth and Forty- 
First Alabama, swept everything before them — the enemy 
being in the open field. But the Second and Ninth en- 
countered the enemies' breastworks and were repulsed 
with terrible slaughter. Here was where the officers just 
mentioned fell in one of the most desperate struggles of 
the day. Here "Pap Thomas' " veterans took advantage 
of their works and exacted deep and merciless toll. More 
than once during the day was this position assailed by 
other bodies of Confederates with similar results. About 
the middle of the afternoon the assembling of Cheatham's 
and Walker's division in conjunction with Breckinridge 
warned us that the fatal moment had arrived and the hour 
of desperation was at hand. 

The old veteran needs no one to tell him when a crisis 
is approaching, he instinctively and otherwise compre- 
hends the meaning of these movements and nerves himself 

64 The Orphan Brigade. 

for the desperate work before him. His countenance 
would convince the stoic of what his mind contained, in 
modern parlance he "understands the game." When the 
signal gun was fired we knew its meaning, so also did the 
enemy. Then three lines in solid phalanx, desperate and 
determined men, moved forward on the Federal strong- 
hold to be met by a withering and blighting fire from the 
enemy behind their works. But so furious and desperate 
was the onslaught that Thomas' veterans, who had with- 
stood all previous attempts to dislodge them, could no 
longer face the line of gleaming bayonets of the Confed- 
erates as they leaped over the breastworks the Federals 
had so successfully defended up to that hour. 

Some surrendered, others made their escape and still 
others met their doom — many, not hearing the shouts of 
the victorious Confederates as they rushed over and among 

This was the culmination of the struggle. Similar 
movements with similar results were taking place simul- 
taneously all along the line, closing the most stupendous 
struggle of the war. But at this particular point and at 
Snodgrass Hill, where the Fifth Kentucky contributed 
additional and unsurpassed glory to Kentucky's part in 
the great battle, were the keys to Eosecrans' position, 
and here the fighting was the hardest and the losses 

In the first charge in the morning where the right of 
the brigade was so successful, we captured a section of the 
enemy's artillery. The writer seized the trunnion of one 
of the guns and with assistance turned it on them while 
the other was turned by others of our men ; but we could 
find no ammunition to fire them and were deprived of the 
anticipated glory of firing on the enemy as they fled from 
the field. I wish here, and in my feeble way, to lift my hat 
to do honor to the gallantry of the captain commanding 
that battery (who I learned was from Indiana) as doing 
the most daring and chivalrous act I ever saw performed 

The Orphan Brigade. 65 

by an enemy dnrin^ my entire war experience. Both his 
lieutenants and a number of his men having been killed 
before he abandoned his guns, which were in a battery 
just on the West side of the Chickamauga road and in the 
face of us Confederates, who had reached the East side 
of the road, he dashed into the road and past us, lifting 
hite hat and waving us a salute that would have put to 
shame a Chesterfield or a Prince Rupert. The act was 
almost paralyzing and not a man of the fifty or more who 
fired at him point blank touched him or his horse. If 
there is such a thing as a charmed life, this captain must 
have possessed it on that occasion. If living I would 
gladly travel miles to shake his hand. 

Our next move was to unite our separated line which 
we did by retiring later on to the point from where we 

During the occasional lulls in the musketry firing the 
artillery from left to right and especially on the left about 
Snodgrass Hill, was thundering defiance and sending 
death into each other's ranks that seemingly made old 
earth shake from center to circumference, set the birds to 
flight, caused reptiles, lizzards and all manner of wild 
animals to flee from the wrath of murderous man, among 
which was a cotton-tail deer that was seen by some of the 
men running in a bewildered and dazed manner in the 
rear of the contending lines, not knowing which way to 
flee or what it all meant. 

The enemy routed, the conflict ceased — about dark — 
with the Orphans (those left) on the West side of the 
Chickamauga road, some of the men playfully astride the 
enemy's guns — several in number — that had been aban- 
doned at this point, others prostrate on the ground rest- 
ing and recounting incidents of the day, all glad enough 
that it was over. 

Here General Buckner rode up, he having come over 
from the left where his artillery and division of infantry had 
done such splendid work and who was greeted with a cheer 

66 The Orphan Brigade. 

from the surviving Orphans that must have done his soul 
good and which he acknowledged with a smile, lifting his 
hat gracefully in acknowledgment of the greeting. 

What next! We all expected that we would follow 
immediately without an hour's delay on the heels of the 
retreating and discomfited Federals and overtake and 
completely route and possibly capture them before they 
could get settled behind their fortifications around Chat- 
tanooga. But here the fatal mistake of Beauregard at 
Shiloh (and for which Bragg censured him) was dupli- 
cated by Bragg himself. 

Back to the field among the boys where we spent the 
night among the dead and wounded ; and awaiting orders 
from Bragg, who was spending his time in sending con- 
gratulations to President Davis while Rosecrans was busy 
preparing to receive and entertain him from his fortifica- 
tions around Chattanooga. 

The writer having learned that we would likely spend 
the day on the field resting — "restmg" ( I toss my head in 
derision of the thought), obtained permission to visit and 
inspect the field of battle, and in company with one or two 
comrades started early next morning from the extreme 
right, where we opened the battle, and traversed the entire 
length of the field, a distance of seven miles or more. 
This was the first time such an enviable opportunity had 
ever presented itself and I seized it gladly, notwithstand- 
ing the many horrible and ghastly sights I knew I would 
see. On every hand, in every direction, were evidences of 
the desperate conflict of the preceding day. The forest 
trees splintered and torn by the plunging shot and shell 
from the cannon's deadly throat, dismantled caissions and 
artillery wheels, dead horses, guns, cartridge boxes, bayo- 
nets and almost every kind of war paraphernalia imagin- 
able were strewn promiscuously over the field. Trees and 
saplings, not larger than a man's body to a height of six 
or eight feet, contained from a dozen to as high as sixty rifle 
balls. But worst of all with upturned faces and glaring 

The Orphan Brigade. G7 

eyes, torn and mangled bodies of not less than four thou- 
sand dead men on the field and at the hospitals. At the 
latter, especially at the Snodgrass place, there were acres 
covered with wounded and many dead. Here I witnessed 
the most appalling sight my eyes ever beheld, a descrip- 
tion from which I shudder and shrink at this distant day, 
and which is too terrible for delicate and sensitive natures 
to ponder; and which involuntarily reminds me of Sher- 
man's saying again. The citizens of today will doubtless 
wonder how any man could escape such a rain of shot and 
shell, but by the old soldier it is readily understood. While 
ninety per cent of these shots were being fired the men 
were lying flat on their faces and were overshooting each 
other when suddenly one or the other would spring to his 
feet and with a bound and a yell rush at a double-quick 
upon their foe, giving him time to fire one or at most two 
rounds when his ranks would be broken and compelled to 

After seeing these appalling sights I retraced my steps 
and reached the starting point about twilight to find that 
my command had been ordered forward toward Chatta- 
nooga and the vicinity of Missionary Ridge, which we 
reached next day to find Rosecrans occupying his fortifica- 
tions and redoubts ready to receive and entertain us. We 
were formed in line of battle at or near the foot of Mis- 
sionary Ridge and expected when the formation was com- 
pleted to be hurled against the forts and redoubts to cer- 
tain and inevitable destruction. 

Many expressions of evil and forebodings of disaster 
were indulged in and anathemas were hurled at the com- 
mander without stint for holding us back for this, the 
hour of our doom. Many farewells were being exchanged, 
mingled with jeers and sarcasm, all knowing and under- 
standing fully the gravity of the situation. It was an 
hour of intense, of dreadful suspense, which could only 
be felt and not described. 

But thanks to an allwise and merciful Providence 
which at the last moment withheld the hand and changed 

68 The Orphan Brigade. 

the mind that commanded. But for this change of mind 
he who writes this story would doubtless now be "sleep- 
ing the sleep that knows no waking on fame's eternal 
camping ground." When we were ordered to retire to 
Missionary Ridge many were the longdrawn sighs of relief 
that we had escaped from this threatened and, as we felt, 
certain doom. 

IN MAY, 1912. 

I have visited scenes of the great conflict twice, tra- 
versed the very ground from the point where we formed 
line of battle and moved to the charge against "Pap" 
Thomas' veterans and am still unsatisfied. Not that the 
points of greatest interest have been lost to memory, but 
because memory will not be satisfied. I can see in my 
mind the anxious look in the faces of those brave Ken- 
tucky boys, as they stepped into line and touched elbows 
in obedience to the commands "dress to the right; dress 
to the left; steady, steady, men; quick step, forward, 
march !" 

Tell me I shall ever forget these commands or this 
hour! Never, while "memory lasts and reason holds 

From this very starting point I traced the ground over 
which we moved (in 1863) taking the monument erected 
to the memory of General Helm as a guide and allowing 
for the space of the two regiments to occupy the right, 
coursing Westward, the exact direction we moved, cross- 
ing the LaFayette road at or near the very point where 
the two pieces of artillery were captured and previously 
referred to. The tablet here tells me who my gallant cap- 
tain of Indiana (Bridges) was and recites the facts of the 
capture correctly. There, too, is the open field through 
which the broken regiments of infantry were fleeing that 

The Orphan Brigade. 69 

I was so anxious to assist with shots from their own 

Here I must criticise a little at the risk of censure. I 
will do so by quoting from memory, not literally, from 
Gen. Breckinridge's official report saying, "That a strong 
supporting line at this moment, thrown on Thomas' flank 
and rear, would have resulted in dislodging and over- 
throwing Thomas early in the day." This was plain to 
line and field officer alike. The opportunity was presented 
but not availed of ; why, I know not. 

The tablets here with their historic record briefly 
stamped in metal are substantially correct. My version 
of the battle previously stated to the guides while going 
out (I. P. Thoeford, an old Confederate) and S. P. Black 
were so nearly identical that these men threw up their 
hands in amazement when I read from the tablet. It was 
no trouble to convince them that I had been there and 
knew something about the battle and the positions of the 
troops on that part of the line. Here stands nearby the 
Glenn House, some old log houses. Not far away is the 
Kentucky monument, a fitting memorial to Kentuckians 
of both sides crowned with the Goddess of Love and Peace. 
Northeast is the monument to that gallant, lovable char- 
acter, Ben Hardin Helm — my hand trembles as I write 
his name, for I really believe he was one of the kindest- 
hearted and best men I ever knew. Near this spot was 
where so many of the Second and Ninth fell, some of 
whose names are already mentioned in this chapter on 
Chickamauga. I could write much, very much, more of 
this very interesting and historic field, but will not tres- 
pass further on your time and space. 




From here (Missionary Ridge) about the last of Sep- 
tember the Orphans were sent to Tyner Station as a base 
from which to guard the commissary stores at Chicka- 
mauga Station, that place being the depot of supplies for 
the army investing Chattanooga. 

But when it was seen that Grant, who had arrived and 
assumed command of the Federal Army, was planning to 
move on our lines on Lookout and Missionary Ridge, we 
were ordered back to our original position on the Ridge, 
not far from Bragg's headquarters. From this point we 
could see on the night of the 24th of November the flashes 
from the rifles of the contending lines on Lookout, like so 
many fireflies on a hot July evening. 

The extravagant talk about Hooker's "battle above the 
clouds" is a misnomer, that has found its way into print, 
and for a long time filled the papers and magazines and 
is nothing but a magnified myth (unsupported by facts) 
that is absolutely incredible. At no time were the con- 
tending forces more than half way up the mountain, and 
all the glory arrogated by the Federals was achieved over 
a light line deployed as skirmishers, composed of Ala- 
bamans. For a long time this twaddle was absolutely and 
positively sickening. 

But I must return to my beloved Orphans. Next morn- 
ing (25th) before daylight we were ordered to the ex- 
treme right (Northern point of the Ridge) as support to 
Cleburne's division, a man who was never known to ask 
for support. This move was a complete waste of that 
important element of strength at this critical and all- 


The Orphan Brigade. 71 

important time, for we, the Orphans, rendered practically 
no service at all on that eventful day. But here I conjec- 
ture and philosophize again. May be and perhaps it was 
providential, for had we kept our place in the line between 
and among Cobb's guns, "Lady Breckinridge," "Lady 
Buckner" and "Lady Helm," and his other guns to which 
the Orphans were lovingly endeared, they would never 
have been surrendered while a man was on his feet. Lucky 
indeed for Sheridan and Wood that day that the Orphans 
were away from home, and perhaps equally lucky for 
some, if not all, of us, for we had sworn never to abandon 
this position while a man of us lived. 

This, in my mind, was the strongest natural position 
with one exception (Rockyface Gap) ever held by the 
Confederate forces in the West, and its abandonment was 
a disgrace to Confederate arms. Imagine our mortifica- 
tion and deep chagrin when we learned that our battery — 
Cobb's — with the endearing names inscribed thereon, had 
been cowardly abandoned after we had successfully de- 
fended them at Shiloh, Vicksburg, Baton Rouge, Mur- 
freesboro, Jackson, Chickamauga and other places. It 
was enough to make an angel w^eep and justified the 
anathemas hurled at the commander and the cowardly 
troops that were left to defend them. The circumstance 
left a sting that never can be forgotten while an Orphan 

We never knew what had happened until about dark, 
when we were ordered from our position toward Chick- 
amauga Station. Then the truth took first the form of 
conjecture, then misgiving and lastly the sad news that 
we were to cover the retreat of the army. Then all was 

The retreat that night was one of intense hardship and 
excitement, and it was entrusted to the Orphan Brigade, 
with the help of Cleburne's division, to protect the retreat- 
ing army. We were in their grasp had they only known 
it. Passing so near one of their pursuing columns we 

72 The Orphan Brigade. 

could actually hear them talking and see them moving 
around the camp fires they were kindling. To prevent 
being ambushed we threw out a string of guards on both 
sides of the road, who moved along parallel with the road 
and near it. Every moment we expected an attack. 

The feeling was one of intenseness and we were greatly 
relieved when at last we became assured of our escape. 

Had the Federals only known it, they had our retreat- 
ing column cut in two and could have made a finish of the 
day's work and probably the Confederacy as well. 

But they, too, as well as the Confederates, failed some- 
times to grasp their opportunities. One of the pleasant 
and enjoyable features of this night's experience was the 
wading of Chickamauga River, waist deep, which had a 
tendency to further exasperate us and cause the men to 
express themselves in anything but Sunday school phrase 
and song. 

Next day was but little less exciting. The Federal 
advance was pressing us with unusual vigor and com- 
pelled us to turn time and again from the line of march and 
check their advance. It was fight and run until Cleburne 
determined to, and did, put an end to it, ambushing them 
at Ringgold Gap, where they paid for their persistence 
with the lives of several hundred men. 

After this costly warning from Cleburne we were per- 
mitted to continue our retreat unmolested and reached, 
the next day, that haven of rest, Dalton, about which I 
have written in a subsequent chapter. 

I am making my chapter on Mission Ridge short be- 
cause there is nothing pertaining to it that is to the credit 
of the Confederate soldier as a whole. Yet there were 
some commands of the army that did their duty well and 

In looking at the tablets of many — in fact most of the 
Federal regiments and brigades which contain a sum- 
mary of their losses — I was struck with amazement at the 
very light loss sustained in this memorable engagement, 

The Orphan Brigade. 73 

so disgraceful to the Confederates. Some regiments los- 
ing only one man killed and ten or twelve wounded, and 
no brigade, so far as I noticed, lost more than thirteen 
men, which was an average of three to the regiment. We 
had a single company. Company I, of the Fourth Ken- 
tucky, that lost more men at Shiloh than a whole brigade 

When considering the great advantage of position 
held by them and the insignificant losses inflicted upon 
the Federals, the losses but emphasize the fact that the 
Confederates must have been badly rattled on this sum- 
mit and would no doubt have made a better fight from 
their entrenchments at the base of the mountain border- 
ing the valley, over which the columns of Grant moved to 
the attack. 

But let us think and reason for the moment, and if 
possible find some excuse for this miserable failure. It is 
well known to the expert marksman and sportsman as 
well, that in shooting on a steep decline you are much 
more apt to overshoot than when directing a shot hori- 
zontally or upward. This was the case there on these 
steep mountain sides, which furnishes the one excuse only 
for such bad marksmanship and the low per cent of cas- 
ualties just noticed. But notwithstanding this fact a 
much more creditable record could have been made by 
rolling the huge boulders that were abundant down upon 
the Federals, whose progress was, of course, necessarily 
slow; and, lastly, when the enemy reached the summit 
exhausted, what were their bayonets for and why did they 
not use them? These are questions that suggest them- 
selves to the mind of the writer at this distant day, while 
looking at this natural and seeming impregnable position. 
As stated before, the history on one part of the field would 
have been differently written had not the Orphans been 
taken away from their pets — "Lady Buckner," "Lady 
Breckinridge," "Lady Helm," "Lady Hanson," "Lady 
Lyon" and others of their companions in war. A feeling of 

74 The Orphan Brigade. 

chagrin creeps over me when I think of the surrender of 
these guns with their endearing names and hitherto im- 
mortal history. 

But General Bragg, in his wisdom — no, his unwisdom 
— thought it best to send us away from our idols and 
hazard them in the keeping of those who betrayed their 
trust, and left us, like Rachael, weeping, because they 
were lost and we "also refused to be comforted." 

I find almost innumerable tablets, markers and monu- 
ments placed here to commemorate the deeds of valor here 
performed by the Federals ; but I find very few ( which is 
well) to mark the Confederates and their deeds. But 
could I have my way every one of these would be removed 
and in their stead I would place the Goddess of Liberty, 
weeping for shame that her children had so dishonored 
their heritage. 

I have said that I would be brief, and choking back 
the feeling of remorse and disgrace that this one incident 
in the history of the Confederate soldier has fixed upon 
their otherwise brilliant and incomparable record, I close 
by referring the reader to Murfreesboro. 


Who that spent the winter of '63-'64 at Dalton does 
not recall some circumstance or incident to remind him 
of the dreary "winter of discontent" spent in this moun- 
tain fastness of Northern Georgia? To many of us it 
seemed like an age, but withal it was a season of much 
needed rest and recuperation. Here in and around this 
little city flanked by majestic mountains, pondering over 
the disasters of Lookout and Missionary Ridge, we spent 
the time in comparative comfort and ease, some planning 
in mind the future campaign and its outcome, others indif- 
ferent as to the future and caring but little, willing to 
entrust all to those at the helm, and making the most of 
circumstances and the ever present, little thinking or car- 
ing for the great dangers and hardships that awaited us. 

There was from the time we turned our faces South- 
ward from Bowling Green to the very close of the war an 
air of indifference, a "devil may care," happy-go-lucky 
spirit, about these young Kentuckians that made them ready 
to cheerfully undertake any enterprise, no matter how 
dangerous or exacting the duty or perilous the undertak- 
ing. They had become so accustomed to all these things, 
and so thoroughly inured to hardships, that they felt 
themselves prepared for and rather coveted them, no mat- 
ter how great or trying. While here we enjoyed more 
liberty and recreation than any time during or since the 
war began. Some of the men were furloughed and enjoyed 
a few days of rest with relatives and friends (if perchance 
they had any) in the South. The waiter spent his in gay 
old Richmond on the James, in company with General 
Lewis, Captain McKendrie and other Kentuckians there 
assembled. All amused themselves as best they could in 
camp and town. 

Drilling had been dispensed with— no need now for 


76 The Orphan Brigade. 

that, for in this we were perfect. Dress parade, guard 
mount and review were about the only exercises now re- 
quired. A great sham battle broke the monotony once, 
and a snowball battle at another time was a diversion 
indulged for one day. A very pertinent question was 
often asked toward the close of the winter — "Who would 
command in the next campaign?" When at last it was 
given out that General Johnson would command, the 
spirits of the men revived and hope was again renewed. 
While contemplating the future, news came that the 
enemy were now moving Daltonward. We indulged the 
hope and wondered whether Sherman would undertake 
to force the pass in Eockyface Mountain through which 
the railroad and wagon road both ran. We thought of 
Leonidas and his Spartans and hoped for an opportunity 
to imitate and if possible to eclipse that immortal event 
at Thermopylae. But not so the wily Sherman. That 
"old fox" was too cunning to be caught in that or any 
other trap. 

We were ordered out to meet him and took position 
in the gap and on the mountain, from which we could see 
extending for miles his grand encampment of infantry 
and artillery, the stars and stripes floating from every 
regimental brigade, division and corps headquarters and 
presenting the greatest panorama I ever beheld. Softly 
and sweetly the music from their bands as they played 
the national airs were wafted up and over the summit of 
the mountain. Somehow, some way, in some inexplicable 
and unseen manner, "Hail Columbia," "America" and 
"The Star Spangled Banner" sounded sweeter than I had 
ever before heard them, and filled my soul with feelings 
that I could not describe or forget. It haunted me for 
days, but never shook my loyalty to the Stars and Bars 
or relaxed my efforts in behalf of our cause. 

While thus arrayed in his grand encampment, his ban- 
ners flying and bands playing, a part of his force (Mc- 
pherson's Corps), like a gladiator, was rapidly and 

The Orphan Brigade, 77 

stealthily gliding over the plain West of the mountains 
to seize Snake Creek and Dug Gaps and strike Johnson 
in the rear at Resaca. But you know "the best laid 
schemes of mice and men gang aft agley." We arrived 
there first and gave him a hearty welcome, as described 
in my chapter on Resaca. 

Dalton, like other towns and cities, has changed won- 
derfully in the days since the war. From a quaint old 
mountain town of a half century ago to the modern and 
thrifty little city of today, putting on airs like many other 
towns. To me no landmarks are visible save the old stone 
springhouse, near where General Lewis had his head- 
quarters and Captain Phillips, A. Q. M, of the Fourth, 
had his quartermaster store and where his lovely little 
wife graced his "marquee" with the air and dignity of 
the queen that she was, I walked over the ground on 
which the Fourth was encamped and stood upon the very 
spot where Captain Hugh Henry's tent was pitched, and in 
which we were often entertained by the Kentucky Glee 
Club, which was composed of some of the finest talent in 
the army. While it may not be altogether relevant to the 
purpose of these chapters, I cannot refrain from referring 
to and mentioning the fact that the Fourth Kentucky 
was admitted to have the finest band in the Western 
Army, led by that accomplished and expert musician who 
(after the war) became a teacher in the Boston Conserva- 
tory of Music — Billy McQuown. Many, many times were 
we regaled by the music of our band and carried back to 
the bosom of friends by the sweet strains of "My Old Ken- 
tucky Home" and other familiar and inspiring airs played 
by this baud. It is no stranger, than it is true, that music 
exercises a wonderful and inspiring influence over the 
soldier, making him forget the hardships, trials and dan- 
gers to which he is almost constantly exposed, and troops 
are never happier than when being entertained in this 
way, unless it be at a full mess table, 

I have been reluctantly compelled to pass by Kenne- 

78 The Orphan Brigade. 

saw and Pine Mountains, both of which are places of much 
interest to surviving Orphans. On the former we left 
several of our best officers and men. Among the former 
was Major John Bird Kogers of the Fourth Kentucky 
Regiment, and Lieutenant Bob Innis of the Second. Than 
the former there was not a more capable and gallant 
officer identified with the history of the Orphan Brigade 
as was also Lieutenant Innis. 

Pine Mountain, a lone sentinel of nature, was made 
sacredly historic by the blood of the great preacher. Gen- 
eral Bishop Polk. I saw the "grand old man" as he. Gen- 
erals Johnston and Bates and others rode by the Orphans' 
position to the summit of the mountain to view and exam- 
ine the enemy's position in front, and could not but admire 
the graceful and dignified bearing of the grand old man 
as he saluted in true military style as he passed. I saw 
the smoke from and heard the thunder of Simonson's guns 
as they sent the fatal shot that tore his body and ended 
his earthly career. Sad and awful moment for the Con- 
federacy! But we have here presented one of the most 
noted and conspicuous characters in America history. I 
stood on the very spot on which he fell not twenty minutes 
after the sad occurrence — Burton's sharpshooters with 
their Kerr rifles having driven Simonson and his gunners 
to cover. I believe the sacred spot should have erected 
on it a monument commemorative of this tragic incident 
and the life and character of this great man. It is cer- 
tainly a picturesque and interesting spot. 

But before I go I must tell of my visit to Rockyface 
Gap. Here is one of the grand sentinels of nature — a lofty 
and stone-crowned mountain towering above and looking 
contemplatively down upon his neighbors and the low- 
bending valleys upon whose bosom Sherman pitched his 
grand and imposing encampment in the make-believe that 
he was going South through this impregnable pass held by 
Johnson. Next to Lookout it is the grandest mountain 
in the Appalachian chain, and one well worthy of a visit 

The Orphan Brigade. 79 

by the tourist lover of nature. I climbed to the top of it 
this morning, going over the same identical path traveled 
by us while doing picket and observation duty. Here we 
had the only human telegraph line I ever saw, which was 
made by placing the operator (an officer) on the summit 
to report the operations and movements of the enemy to 
the first man in the line, he repeating it to the next in 
line and so on down the mountain to its base where the 
general had his staff officers and couriers to receive the 
message and report to him at his headquarters. The 
scheme worked like a charm, notwithstanding its unique- 

I was impelled to make this trip — although I felt when 
I reached the summit I was about to collapse — to see the 
resting place of a noble and brave old Orphan who was 
killed while on duty here — George Disney of Company 
K, Fourth Kentucky — an account of whose singular death 
is noted by Virginius Hutchings in the history of the 
Orphan Brigade. I learned before going on this trip that 
the Boy Scouts of Dalton, under Captain Sapp, county 
clerk, had only two days before gone up and placed a 
marble headstone to the grave to take the place of the 
board that had so long marked his resting place — a place 
that a monarch or king might envy, hundreds of feet above 
common man. 

I wished while there, so high upward toward Heaven, 
that I could wield the pen of a Gray or a Kipling, that I 
might do this subject of my thoughts justice. The sub- 
ject, the inspiration, was here, but language to express it 
was lacking. Poor George! You have had one friend 
after these long years to leave a tear of tribute to your 

I cannot close without first thanking the good daugh- 
ters of Dalton for the compliment they paid me by really 
forcing upon me undeserved attentions in a very fine lunch 
set before and out of time specially for me just before 
taking 'the train; at 11:50 a. m., and who I think had a 

80 The Orphan Brigade. 

scheme to force me to make them a speech — it being Dec- 
oration Day — but I slipped through their fingers and got 


May 14th found us after a tiresome night's march at 
Resaca, from which point I again write you. 

Here today and on the morrow was fought the first 
battle of magnitude in the great hundred and twenty days' 
battle of the celebrated Georgia campaign from Dalton to 
Atlanta. I say hundred and twenty days' battle, which 
may seem a little far-fetched, but which is almost literally 
true, for there was not a day or night, yes scarcely an 
hour, that we did not hear the crack of a rifle or roar of a 
cannon. Their sounds were our lullaby, sleeping or wak- 
ing — to their music we slept, by their thunderings we 
were awakened, and to the accompanying call of the bugle 
we responded on the morning of May 14 to engage in the 
death grapple with Sherman's well clothed, well fed and 
thoroughly rested veterans — a matter "of Greek meeting 
Greek again." Sherman had pushed down the West side 
of Rockyface Mountain and through Snake Creek Gap 
the day and night before in an effort to cut Johnston's 
communications and take him in the rear. But we had 
been doing some marching and digging, too, and when 
Sherman's columns four or five deep debouched from their 
positions — a long, heavily wooded ridge — into the narrow 
valley, on the East side of which we had constructed rifle 
pits, he found us ready to receive his gay and awe-inspir- 
ing columns, who moved in perfect step, with banners fly- 
ing and bands playing, as though he expected to charm us. 

The eagerness of our own men could scarcely be 
restrained until they had reached the point to which our 
orders had been given, seventy-five to eighty yards, when 
our lines opened almost simultaneously a deadly and 
murderous fire from both infantry and double-shotted 
artillery, that flesh and blood could not withstand. Retir- 


82 The Orphan Brigade. 

ing in disorder to their original position in the woods, they 
rallied and reformed, while their artillery was busy play- 
ing upon our batteries, from which they received no 
response whatever, a mystery at the time to many of us, 
but which we understood a little later on when they again 
moved down to the attack, to be met in the same manner 
with both infantry and artillery, and with similar results. 
Three times during the morning and early afternoon were 
these attacks made upon our lines, with the same results. 
It was a veritable picnic for the Confederates and was the 
second time in the history of the war, up to this time, that 
we had presented such a glorious opportunity, protected 
as we were by earthworks, with clear and open ground in 
front. Had Sherman continued this business during the 
entire day (as we hoped he would) the campaign would 
have ended right here, as we had not called into requisi- 
tion any of our reserve force. The principal part of the 
afternoon was spent by the artillery — after the infantry 
had gotten enough of it — on both sides pounding away at 
each other in a lively and entertaining fashion. 

Some daring and courageous deeds were performed by 
the Federal officers and men on this occasion, the recollec- 
tion of which is refreshing and exhilarating to the writer, 
but for want of time I shall be compelled to pass over. 
However, one instance, I will relate as being somewhat 
interesting to Kentuckians as showing the home spirit and 
natural feeling existing between them as Kentuckians, 
although now engaged in the deadly breach. That night 
some of our boys of the Fourth Kentucky learned from 
inquiry of our "friends" in our front that we were con- 
fronting the Federal Fourth Kentucky (Colonel Tom 
Croxton), whereupon a bantering of epithets and compli- 
ments was at once begun and exchanged in a very amus- 
ing and interesting way. I listened to the colloquy with 
great interest and amusement, which was conducted on 
our side by Lieutenant Horace Watts, who was a noted 
wit and humorist. But I regret that I have forgotten the 

The Orphan Brigade. 83 

name of his interrogator, whom I recall, however, was 
from Vanceburg, Ky. 

That night was spent in strengthening our works and 
preparing for the work of the morrow, which work we 
well knew was coming. When morning came the appear- 
ance of Old Sol was greeted with a signal from a battery 
immediately in onr front, which had been stationed there 
during the night and protected by substantial and elab- 
orate earthworks. The shots from this battery were 
directed against Hotchkiss' battalion of artillery, and 
which the Fourth Kentucky Infantry was supporting. The 
enemy's guns from every part of the line kept up a con- 
tinuous fire throughout the entire day and was the great- 
est open field bombardment of the w^ar. We were much 
amused at the manner of firing of the battery in our front, 
which was done by bugle signal, the meaning of which our 
men soon learned, for a moment later our works would be 
pierced by their shells and when they exploded threw 
high in the air a cloud of dirt and smoke from the embank- 
ment that almost covered us up. At intervals of about 
every five or ten minutes the bugle's "whe-whee-deedle- 
dee-dee" told us of the crash that was coming and almost 
lifted our scalps and rendered some of us deaf for weeks. 
Had the day been an hour longer we would have been com- 
pelled to abandon our works, for the embankments were 
almost leveled and the trenches filled. 

Two of Hotchkiss' guns were cut down and had to be 
abandoned, and but for the fact that they had been run 
back beyond the crest, not a splinter of them would have 
been left. 

Our batteries did not fire a gun that day, having been 
ordered to withhold their fire in anticipation of another 
attack by the enemy's infantry. This day's work was a 
very clever ruse of Sherman's and demonstrated the cun- 
ning of that wily general, for while he was thus entertain- 
ing us with the main part of his army, especially his artil- 
lery, like the sly old fox that he was, he was planning our 

84 The Orphan Brigade. 

undoing by sending down the river to our rear Dodge's 
Corps to fall on our rear and cut our communications and 
intercept our retreat. 

Had his plan been expedited by Dodge, as it might 
have been, it would surely have been "all day" with us 
poor devils of Confederates. It was certainly a "close 
shave," for which we were all very thankful. But we here 
on the 14th enjoyed the "picnic" for which we Orphans 
paid most dearly on the 28th at Dallas, and which I shall 
describe in another place. War, it seems from my experi- 
ence and observation, may be described as a dreadful and 
costly game of "tit-for-tat." 

The losses sustained by the Orphans in this engage- 
ment at Resaca were insignificant compared with that 
inflicted upon the enemy in their front. There is not a 
single recognizable object here save the ground where we 
fought, from the fact that we arrived here in the night 
and took our departure in the night. The narrow valley 
and the long extended rigde in its front and the spur 
occupied by Hotchkiss and the Fourth Kentucky, is all 
that I see to remind me of the two days of "pride, pomp 
and circumstance of glorious war." But how's this, we 
fighting behind entrenchments and the enemy in the open, 
four or five lines deep? 

"Our loss was 2,747, and his (Johnson's) 2,800. I 
fought offensively and he defensively, aided by earthwork 
parapets." — [General Sherman's statement.] There must 
have been some bad shooting on this occasion — the ad- 
vantages all on one side, but results so nearly even. 

Today, May 16 (1912), marks the forty-eighth anni- 
versary of this important event, and finds me on the 
ground. Here, as at other places previously mentioned 
and described, things came back to me and I see them be- 
ing reenacted. I was accompanied on this inspection by 
an old comrade (J. H. Norton), who lost an arm at Chan- 
cellorsville, and who has lived here in Resaca almost all 
his life and who was at home at the time, having been 

The Orphan Brigade. 85 

discharged on account of the loss of his arm, and who 
assisted in burying the dead, and he pooh-poohed Sher- 
man's statement as to relative losses. Another old com- 
rade, who is a merchant in the town, told me that he had 
bought over a hundred thousand pounds of minnie balls 
picked up on the ground where the battle was fought. I 
saw a three-bushel box full in his store today. How many 
poor devils were killed by these would be impossible to 
tell. They have a neat little cemetery near the town, in 
which there are nine Kentuckians (Confederates) buried, 
some of whose names I have copied. 



Here, as at Balaklava, "some one blundered," and while 
we have not had a Tennyson to immortalize the event, it 
is of more than ordinary interest to Kentuckians, espe- 
cialy those who participated in the bloody event. More 
because of the fearful slaughter and the mournful fact 
that it was the result of a failure to deliver orders at the 
proper time. The official report showed a loss of 51 per 
cent, a loss, considering the time actually engaged, unpar- 
alleled in the history of the war. To my mind it was the 
most desperate and disastrous of all the many engage- 
ments in which the Orphans took part during their four 
years of experience. 

The actual time under fire did not in my judgment 
exceed thirty minutes. To describe accurately the posi- 
tion of the enemy at this distant day would be a difficult 
task, but when the reader is told that they occupied two 
parallel lines of entrenchments, from both of which he 
delivered simultaneously a destructive and murderous 
fire, that was so fatal that nothing but the protecting hand 
of an all-wise and merciful Providence could save. The 
first of these lines was a few yards below, and in front 
of the second, which ran along the summit of the ridge and 
enabled the second line to fire directly overhead without 
endangering the first. Besides this double advantage, 
they were able to enfilade our line with their artillery 
from both extremes of their line. Smith's brigade, on our 
left, having received orders (which were also intended 
for us and which failed of delivery) to withhold the at- 
tack, enabled the enemy to deliver an oblique fire upon us 
from his infantry on the left, as well as from his two lines 
directly in front. At every step Kentucky was paying 


The Orphan Brigade. 87 

double toll with the lives of her noblest and best. To push 
forward meant certain and complete annihilation; to re- 
main where we were some seventy-five or eighty yards in 
their front, meant the same, only a little slower death. 

The order to "fall back" having been given, we were 
only too glad to attempt our escape from the death trap 
Into which we had been ordered. Many of our wounded 
and all of our dead were left on the field or intervening 
space between the entrenched lines of the opposing forces. 
Several of the wounded crawled back after nightfall and 
in this way made their escape. The grounds in the rear 
of our works presented an appalling sight when I reached 
them with my burden on my back — Sergeant W. E. Knox, 
who had a broken leg. Nothing but a miracle saved us 
both from the murderous fire of the enemy. Here fell the 
gallant and polished Major Millett within ten paces of our 
entrenchment, he being the third major of the Fourth 
Regiment to be killed on the field. 

Several incidents of a thrilling and miraculous char- 
acter occurred on this field, as afterward related. Some 
of our wounded who approached nearest the enemy's 
works and fell into their hands were taken to the little 
town of Dallas, a mile or two distant, where they were 
found two days later, and left in a shamefully neglected 
condition. Among them was one of the most noble gentle- 
men and gallant soldiers it was ever my good fortune to 
know, Captain D. E. McKendrie of the Sixth Kentucky, 
and who died a few days later. 

There were really only two brigades engaged in this en- 
counter, the Orphan Brigade and Findlay's Florida Brigade. 
The burden of the encounter fell upon the Orphans, as 
shown by their greater loss. But here again was displayed 
that daring, regardless of consequences, which had been 
so often displayed by this little band of Kentuckians on 
so many fields from Fort Donaldson to this eventful day. 
I hope I shall not be accused of egotism for seeming to 
arrogate to myself and my fellow Kentuckians honors to 

88 The Orphan Brigade. 

which we are not entitled and of which all of her people 
may be justly proud. The loss of 51 per cent tells the 
story more graphically than anything I may say by way 
of compliment or eulogy. 

The reader may wonder why this attack was ordered 
against a force so strongly and irresistibly posted. The 
answer is easy to the old veteran who knows the difficulty 
in ascertaining an enemy's position in a heavily timbered 
country like this, with trees and bushes in full leaf, and 
how great the danger from the ever alert sharpshooter to 
the man attempting a reconnaissance. The object was to 
develop his strength at this point, the commander believ- 
ing Sherman to be only feigning while he was carrying 
out other and ulterior plans. But so it was, we paid 
dearly for the desired information. 

I have reviewed every foot of this ground the second 
time, stopping here and there to pick up a minnie ball 
lodged in the enemy's works, fired at them by my dear 
old "Orphan" boys, and while thus engaged the familiar 
faces of many a noble comrade and in one or two instances 
school fellows' images passed before my mind in panorama 
that almost unnerved and dumfounded me. Studying 
coolly at this time the great advantage the enemy had in 
position and numbers, I am surprised that any of us 
escaped at all. I had no difficulty whatever in locating 
at once the position of both parties and the exact spot on 
which my regiment and company fought. Most of the 
Confederate lines have been partly and in some places 
completely obliterated by the plow, but hills and hollows 
are still there. The enemy's lines have been little dis- 
turbed and are mostly intact even at this distant day. 

I must confess that I am wont to linger about this hal- 
lowed spot and my heart beats heavily when I think of the 
comrades and friends who died here and whose bodies I 
assisted in giving the last rude sepulchre. I turn away 
from it with tearful eyes and sorrowful heart. 

ATLANTA— MAY, 1912. 
I am writing this from historic Atlanta, the "gateway 
of the South." How very difiPerent to the Atlanta I knew 
in the days gone by when her streets were filled w^ith the 
tramp, tramp of marching armies, when her walls were 
rocked by the thnnders of the cannon's mighty roar, when 
the rockets' "red glare gave proof through the night that 
our new flag was still there." Oh! what a wonderful 
change 'twixt now and then. "Lovely city now, quiet and 
mighty in her peaceful ways, may the God of war never 
again sound his bugle calls over her peaceful slumbers, 
and may she know the ways of war no more forever." 

How very, very different to the Atlanta I saw in June, 
1865, when on my way home from the South, returning 
disabled, discomfited, defeated. What darker picture could 
be imagined unless it be "Dante's Inferno," than a city of 
destroyed homes with blackened walls and chimneys punc- 
tuating the fiendish spirit that prompted the ruin of its 
people and their homes. When General Sherman first 
gave expression to his oft-repeated apothegm he must have 
had in mind the ruin he had accomplished in the destruc- 
tion of this fair city of the South. Certainly nothing but 
a fiendish spirit could have prompted it. 

But two buildings of prominence were left — the Ma- 
sonic Temple and a hotel. But her people are now enjoy- 
ing the blessings of peace and prosperity, having risen, 
Phoenix-like, from her ashes. 

I must now return to some of the incidents and events 
of the defense of Atlanta in which I was an humble par- 
ticipant. On the 9th of July General Johnston's army 
crossed the Chattahoochee River on pontoons and the 
time until the 22d was employed by Johnston and Hood 
chiefly in marching and counter-marching to checkmate 
the movements of Sherman. A circumstance happened 


90 The Orphan Brigade. 

about this time that gave Sherman great pleasure (he 
says so) and correspondingly great sorrow and despond- 
ency to the Confederates, heretofore so successfully led by 
General Johnston, viz., the removal of Johnston and the 
substitution of Hood. 

While Hood was a Kentuckian as well as we Orphans, 
and we priding in everything pertaining to the history of 
Kentucky, we had unbounded confidence in General John- 
ston. But once before had we felt such sadness and regret 
— when General Breckinridge was taken from us and sent 
to Virginia. This feeling was intensified by the belief 
that Bragg was responsible. 

On the 20th the battle of Peach Tree Creek was fought 
and given a prominence in excess of the facts as the writer 
saw it; a straggling, haphazard kind of hide and seek 
affair, magnified into a battle. On the 22d of July was 
fought what is known in history as the battle of Atlanta. 

The night march of the 21st from our place in the line 
of defense on the left and to the extreme right near De- 
catur, where this battle was fought, was the most trying, 
with one exception, the writer remembers to have ever 
experienced, occupying the entire night in dust ankle 
deep, without a drop of water or an hour's rest. It is 
remembered to this day with a distinctness that makes me 
fairly shudder. When morning came we looked like the 
imaginary Adam ''of the earth earthy," so completely were 
we encased in dust. But for the nerve stimulus that immi- 
nent and great danger gives a man on the eve of a great 
battle, I don't think I could have rendered much service, 
on this occasion, after such exhaustion and suffering from 
thirst. In fact were it not an indispensable part of my 
plan I should have little to say about this whole affair, 
for it was to me the most ill-conceived and unsatisfactoiT" 
executed plan of battle of the whole war in which I par- 

There were difficulties to overcome that might easily 
have been avoided had the proper engineering skill been 

The Orphan Brigade. 91 

employed in time and the necessary reconnaissance been 
made. So far as results accomplished were concerned, it 
was barren and fruitless. Especially was this the case 
on the extreme right, where Bates' division fought and 
where the Orphans took part. Not that any man or body 
of men proved recreant, but there was a lack of under- 
standing and cooperation, of movement, coupled with 
almost insurmountable obstacles that might have been 
avoided. For instance, the Kentucky Brigade was com- 
pelled to struggle through the mire of a slough and mill- 
pond filled with logs, stumps, brush and what-not in water 
and mire knee-deep, the men in many instances being com- 
pelled to extricate their comrades by pulling them onto 
logs and other footings before we could pass the obstruc- 
tion. This so deranged our battle alignment that in the 
press and excitement of the moment, caused by the enemy 
firing at this critical moment, we were never able to 
correct it and present a solid front. Out of dust ankle 
deep into water and mire knee-deep was too much for the 
nerves and patience of the strongest man and most patient 
Christian. And then, to be finally pitched in one disor- 
dered and confused mass against a well disciplined and 
strongly posted line of veterans, behind earthworks, was 
too much for the best soldiers of the times. And yet with 
the proper use of artillery at the right time and place, we 
might have accomplished more decisive results. 

This affair was the more lamentable to the Orphans 
because of the loss of quite a number of our best officers 
and men without any tangible results. The whole thing 
was disappointing and to me really disgusting. Hood at 
Atlanta, like Bragg at Murfreesboro, might profitably 
have spent more time with his engineers in examining and 
surveying the ground on which he expected to fight. Gen- 
eral Johnson was doubtless better posted. But the final 

result would have been the same; Atlanta was doomed 

by Sherman's force of three to one. After summing up 
results and exchanging regrets and expressing sorrow for 

92 The Orphan Brigade. 

the loss of comrades, we returned to our original places 
in the lines of defense to await the next scene in the grand 

This came on August 6th at Utoy Creek on the Sand- 
town road leading Southwest from Atlanta. The Orphan 
Brigade and Tyler's Tennessee Brigade had been pushed 
forward on a kind of salient to the left and front of the 
main line and touching the little stream known as Utoy 
Creek. Here occurred the battle known by the above 
name. I here recognize more distinctly than any other 
place, so far visited, the general appearance of the ground 
and especially the falls of the little creek at which on the 
day previous to the battle I enjoyed the only refreshing 
bath for several days. It is quite an interesting place to 
the writer. I here witnessed on the morning of the battle 
the capture of Lieut. Isham Dudley, in command of the 
videttes, together with some half dozen men of the Orphan 
Brigade, they having been completely surprised just at 
daybreak by a sudden and unexpected rush of the enemy. 

The writer had the honor to command the skirmish 
line covering the Confederate position and had a fine 
opportunity to witness the charge of the two Federal brig- 
ades, which were composed chiefly of East Tennesseans, 
as they swept past the right of our skirmish line, they 
doubtless not knowing that they were about to encounter 
breastworks of a formidable character, receiving at the 
same time a scathing flank fire from the Fourth Ken- 
tucky and the skirmish line above alluded to. But they 
were plucky fellows and charged to within a few yards of 
our works, paying dearly for their courage and temerity. 
In this affair we were attacked by a force somewhat 
superior in numbers, but the advantage that our breast- 
works afforded us made the victory easily won. I here 
quote the order of General S. D, Lee, commanding corps, 
congratulating them and incidentally complimenting the 

"The lieutenant general commanding takes pleasure 

The Orphan Brigade. 93 

in announcing to the officers and men of this corps the 
splendid conduct of a portion of Bates' Division, particu- 
larly Tyler's Brigade and the Second and Fourth Ken- 
tucky regiments of Lewis' Brigade, in sustaining and 
repulsing on yesterday afternoon three assaults of the 
enemy in which his loss in killed, wounded and prisoners 
was from eight hundred to a thousand men, with three 
stands of colors, three or four hundred small arms and all 
of his entrenching tools. Soldiers who fight with the cool; 
ness and determination that these men did will always be 
victorious over any reasonable number." 

In this engagement we lost only about eighteen men 
all told, while the enemy's loss in killed alone was 160. I 
walked over the ground ten minutes after it occurred and 
found the crest of the hill covered with the dead and 
wounded, swords, guns, cartridge boxes and other par- 
aphernalia of war. 

I found here the thing I need and coveted most of all 
at this time, a fine black sombrero, which furnished me 
ample protection thereafter from the intense rays of the 
August sun. I "swapped" my spoon-bill cap with the 
fellow who had worn this hat, to which he, of course, 
raised no objection. Others provided themselves in like 
manner, which was entirely legitimate, of course, the orig- 
inal owners having no further use for such things. But a 
flanking column that night, as usual, compelled us to 
abandon the position of our recent victory and we retired 
to our original position in the circle of entrenchments. 

I have this day, May 13, 1912, carefully and studiously 
reviewed the very spot on which those 160 men lay dead, 
and I feel safe in saying that it is not larger than one-half 
a city block. They were met square in front and were 
fired on from both flanks, and had they attempted to 
remain there as much as one hour there would not have 
been a man of them left on his feet. It was a death trap 
similar to the one into which we Orphans fell at Dallas. 
I could hardly control my emotions when viewing this 

94 The Orphan Brigade. 

place, and my mind was almost overwhelmed as I walked 
along on top of these still distinct and undisturbed para- 
pets, stopping now and then to pick up a "Yankee bullet" 
lodged in them, or a small stone that had been thrown out 
by the Confederates. The surroundings here are perfectly 
familiar to me, notwithstanding opinions of friends at home 
to the contrary. So interesting is this spot that I have 
made the second visit to it. 

Here the time from August 7 to 29, 1864, was spent in 
listening to the music of the rifle and the cannon and an 
occasional sweet, faint and harmonious symphony from 
the enemy's brass bands as they played, seemingly for our 
entertainment, "The Star Spangled Banner," "Hail Co- 
lumbia," "Yankee Doodle" and, to taunt us, "Dixie." At 
night they would vary the entertainment by sending up 
innumerable rockets, which some of the men interpreted 
to mean the arrival of a new command or shift of posi- 
tion, but to most of us it was "Greek and Hebrew." 

But this condition was not to last; Sherman's defini- 
tion of war was in him and must come out. On the 29th 
we packed our knapsacks and bidding good-bye to the 
Atlanta of the day, soon to be no more, we again turned 
Southward to meet the flanking columns of Sherman at 
Jonesboro, with a description of which I shall close these 

Before leaving this dear old city I must take one more 
last look at her steeples, her walls and her streets, shake 
the hand of friends in the last farewell grasp and say 
good-bye forever. 

I find Atlanta so wonderfully changed, commercially, 
assuming metropolitan airs and wearing her honors so 
gracefully that I dare not attempt a description of her 
present status. Besides, these things are well known now 
by the whole American people. Still I find myself com- 
paring her (in mind) with what she was "before and dur- 
ing the war." 

The fact that I am now looking upon her for the last 

The Orphan Brigade. 95 

time, and the further fact that she contains many warm 
and true friends whom I shall never see again, causes a 
feeling of sadness I wish I could resist. But I break camp 
and take up my line of march for Jonesboro. 

But before I leave I must tender my thanks to my 
young friend from Bourbon, W. H. Letton (who is now a 
prosperous business man here), for many favors and cour- 
tesies so cheerfully extended me. It were cruel to allow 
him to spend with me so much of his time from his lovely 
little Georgia bride, so recently taken to himself. But this 
is Kentucky, you know, and he inherits it. I am also 
indebted to my old comrades, J. W. McWilliams of the 
Forty-Second Georgia; J. M. Mills of the Soldiers' Home, 
and C. L. Ingram of Fort McPherson; ex-Sheriff Barnes 
Major Jones of the Seventeenth Infantry at the fort (Mc- 
Pherson), and last, though not least by any means, Mrs. 
Jones of the city at whose boarding house I was a guest. 



I begin here the last inspection and reminiscence, on 
my return trip from attending the recent Confederate re- 
union at Macon, May, 1912, and while I distrust my ability 
to do the theme proper justice, I am tempted to undertake 
the task through the love of the brave "old boys" who still 
survive and the memory of several hundred noble young 
Kentuckians whose life blood consecrates the soil of 
Georgia on every field from Chattanooga to Jonesboro. 

My mind becomes a whirlpool of recollections as I 
stand here and "view the landscape o'er" and contemplate 
the horrible scenes enacted here forty-eight years ago, and 
in which the Confederacy was surely and rapidly expiring 
in the throes of dissolution. 

It is not my purpose or aim to controvert in any in- 
stance the descriptions and recitals of the historians, but 
merely as a pastime to revert to some of my personal ex- 
periences and recollections. Nor shall I attempt to enlarge 
upon or embellish the history of that glorious little band 
of Kentuckians known as the "Orphan Brigade." That 
has been done by others, done by such men as Prof. N. S. 
Shaler, Gens. Joseph E. Johnson, W. J. Hardee, Stephen 
D. Lee, Ed. Porter Thompson and many others, able and 
eloquent men, historians and statesmen, and in whose 
history Kentuckians of all beliefs must ever rejoice as 
one of the brightest and most interesting pages in her 
history. And why not, since they represented so many of 
the noblest and best young men of the state and were led 
by such men as Breckinridge, Hanson, Helm, Lewis, Mon- 
roe and others whose names are a synonym of glory and 

When we arrived here (Jonesboro) in the great cam- 
paign there were many absent — not without leave, thank 


The Orphan Brigade. 97 

God, but with honor, whose brows had been crowned with 
everlasting wreaths of honor — in death "on Fame's eternal 
camping ground." When the roll was called no response 
came from many. Hanson, Helm, Hewitt, Graves, Rogers, 
Dedman, Madeira, Daniel, McKendrie, Millett, Williams, 
Innis, Bramblett, Bell and three thousand others failed 
to answer. But as the "blood of martyrs is the seed of 
the church," so the sacrifice of these Kentuckians is a 
diadem in the wreath that encircles her history. 

But now I stand on this historic spot where forty- 
eight years ago the unequal, almost suicidal conflict raged 
with destruction and fury, and see, in my mind's eye, the 
raging conflict and hear the cannon's mighty roar, the 
screaming shot and shell and the ping and whistle of the 
deadly minnie, the shouts and yells of the combatants as 
they grapple in the deadly conflict. Here I experienced 
the pangs of a painful wound from a minnie ball, while 
assisting a dear friend (Lieutenant Neal), being in the 
throes of death, both he and the man on my left falling 
simultaneously. How well I remember the look of anguish 
upon his noble countenance as he held up both hands, im- 
ploring my assistance. Brave, noble fellow and Christian 
gentleman, I trust and believe his soul rests in peace 
among the angels. 

Imagine my grief on reaching the ambulance (assisted 
by comrades) to find my bosom friend (and by many said 
to be my double). Ensign Robert H. Lindsay of Scott 
County, in the ambulance, he having received a mortal 
wound from which he died that night while lying iipon 
the same blanket with myself. The reader can imagine 
my feelings when the dawn of morning came and I threw 
back the blanket that covered us and beheld his noble 
countenance cold in death, with the fixed glare of the eyes 
that told me that my beloved comrade and friend had 
passed to the realms of eternal glory. Poor Bob ! I tried 
in vain, while on the way to the field hospital, to extort 
a parting message, a last farewell to mother and family, 

98 The Orphan Brigade. 

but the messenger of death held him in his grasp and 
refused compliance with this last request of his friend 
who loved him as a brother. A circumstance coincident 
with his death was the fact that we prepared and ate our 
dinners together that day, meantime talking over the 
probable results of the approaching battle and making 
certain requests of each other in the event that one or 
the other should fall. Hence my anxiety to hear a last 
farewell from his dying lips. Memory takes me back over 
the intervening years and I am tempted to exclaim: 
Sing thou music of the spheres 
The song of the weeping pines 
As the days and years go by, 
But let me. Oh! let me not forget, 
The dear friend who 'neath them lies. 
I have always thought this a singular circumstance, 
that the three friends — boon companions — holding the 
same rank, should be stricken down almost at the same 
moment — that "two should be taken and the one left," 
but such are the vicissitudes of war. 

I can recognize only two landmarks of this historic 
spot and its surroundings — the old stone depot and the 
prominent knoll, occupied by the enemy's skirmishers on 
the morning of the battle (August 31st) and which Lieut. 
Heck Burden, the commander of that gang of army 
sleuths, that Sherman and his officers admitted they 
dreaded — known as the Kentucky sharpshooters^ — and my- 
self, in a spirit of daring, approached within easy rifle 
range, by means of a deep gully, and which terminated in 
one less Federal officer reporting to his commander. 1 
have looked upon this particular spot with no little con- 
cern, for it was near this my two dear friends just noted 
fell, and where I also received my quietus — as a reward, 
perhaps, for my daring of the morning. This circumstance 
(my wounding) precludes the mention from personal 
experience a description of the second day's fight and in 
which the Orphans sustained the loss of a number of men 

The Orphan Brigade. 99 

and officers and resulted in the capture of the greater 
part of the survivors, Sherman's overwhelming numbers 
enabling him to outflank and overpower the left of the 
Confederate line. But they were held as prisoners but a 
short time and were exchanged and returned to service 
almost immediately. Here, as in other instances, the 
enemy outnumbered us three to one and enabled them to 
envelop our flanks more readily than in previous engage- 
ments, the country being without the natural barriers and 
obstructions that had previously favored us in the moun- 
tain section of the country through which we had passed. 
Here at Jonesboro ended my service to the Confederacy 
and my experience as a soldier in the field. The next six 
months, which brought the war to a close, were spent by 
me in hospitals, which also came near bringing my earthly 
career to a close. But, thank God, I am still here and 
now engaged in reviewing our movements of the past. 
And I shall be happy if what I may have written should 
fall under the eye of some old comrade or friend and 
afford him pleasure or food for contemplation. 

(Note — The author takes the liberty and desires to 
thank Genl. W. B. Haldeman, of the Orphan Brigade, the 
Courier- Journal Job Printing Co., and others, for their 
kind assistance in the publication and introduction of this 
little booklet.)