Funding from the Library of Congress/Ameritech National Digital
supported the electronic publication of this title.
Text scanned (OCR) by
Images scanned by Kathleen Feeney
Text encoded by Kathleen Feeney and Natalia Smith
First edition, 1998
Academic Affairs Library, UNC-CH
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
Two Boys in the Civil War and After
W. R. Houghton
M. B. Houghton
The Paragon Press
The electronic edition
is a part of the UNC-CH
digitization database, Documenting the American South.
Any hyphens occurring in line breaks have been removed, and the trailing part of a word has been joined to the preceding line.
All quotation marks and ampersand have been transcribed as entity references.
All double right and left quotation marks are encoded as " and " respectively.
All single right and left quotation marks are encoded as ' and ' respectively.
Indentation in lines has not been preserved.
Running titles have not been preserved.
Spell-check and verification made against printed text using Author/Editor (SoftQuad) and Microsoft Word spell check programs.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
[Half-Title Page Image]
The suburban residence of M. B. Houghton.
[Title Page Image]
WE DEDICATE THIS LITTLE VOLUME
TO THE MEMORY
THOUSANDS OF WHOM SLEEP IN UNMARKED GRAVES
AND TO THOSE OF THEIR POSTERITY WHO ADMIRE
AND VENERATE IN THEIR FOREFATHERS,
HEROISM, COURAGE, BRAVERY, SACRIFICE, ENDURANCE,
W. R. HOUGHTON.
Buoyant and bright of disposition, alert in mental and physical perception, brave and gallant in action, he was the ideal soldier with no selfish ambition for place and power, but was consumed with an earnest desire to achieve the independence of his native South.
To him duty was but a way station on the rugged highway of remorseless war, and he far transcended her demands in his enthusiasm to drive the Northern invaders from the soil of his beloved South.
It was such soldiers as William R. Houghton, and their name was legion in all the armies of the South, that caused our greatest general to modestly disclaim credit for so many splendid victories, but freely accorded them to the unrivaled valor and bravery of his men in the ranks.
An Athenian statesman is said to have boasted that there was not a citizen in his state who was not capable of conducting wisely and successfully the destinies of Greece, so, in the ranks of the Confederates
there were many who would have led their comrades with equal or greater success. In more than one important engagement of the great Civil War, it has been freely conceded that the victory over the enemy was won by the gallantry and invincible bravery, of the Confederate privates in the face of incompetent and unwise leadership on the part of commanding officers.
The opening of the civil war found W. R. Houghton eighteen years of age, engaged in teaching school in a neighborhood of wealthy and aristocratic planters near Smiths' Station, Russell county, Alabama, about eight miles North of Columbus, Georgia. This neighborhood together with other contiguous parts of counties have subsequently been formed into the county of Lee. Columbus, Georgia, at that time was a prosperous and influential city and dominated the social and commercial interests of east Alabama. One of the crack military companies of the city was the Columbus Guards, in whose ranks were found the young men of the best talent and blood of this thriving town. It was an old organization with high standards, the pride of West Georgia and Eastern Alabama.
With this organization W. R. Houghton volunteered for one year and at the termination of this period for the war.
How well he acted his part is freely attested by the love and admiration of his surviving comrades and officers. The highest officers in command trusted him implicitly and allowed him to go voluntarily on many delicate and dangerous scouting expeditions into the lines of the enemy.
The narrative of his personal experiences and observations, penned by himself, will interest thousands
yet unborn, who in reading the history of this Titanic struggle, wish to catch the view point of a private soldier of quick apprehension and remarkable memory.
At the close of the war he returned to the old neighborhood where he had formerly taught, almost a physical wreck. Penniless, and threadbare of clothing, he was taken in hand by his cousins, the Misses Whitten who were veritable angels of mercy and sympathy and who devotedly nursed him back to health and strength.
He again resumed his school under the changed conditions among his former patrons or such of them as had survived the struggle. He begun reading law during his school term and after its close he studied under his father at Newton, where he was admitted to the bar.
He located in Hayneville where he practiced many years and where he married Annie Streety only daughter of John P. Streety one of the large planters and merchants of that town. His wife died a few years after their marriage leaving one son, Harry S. Houghton who is also an attorney and resides at Morningview near Montgomery.
He removed to Birmingham in the year 1886 and practiced his profession in partnership with Col Collier, Colonel Tallifero, and Captain W. C. Ward with whom he was practicing at the time of his death.
He had among his clients some of the best and most prominent citizens of Lowndes, Montgomery, and Jefferson counties.
He was noted for his ability as a lawyer, his high sense of honor, sterling integrity and honesty, his
unfailing affability, charity, patriotism and love of his fellow men.
What is somewhat rare in the legal profession, joined with fine legal ability, he possessed business acumen and had slowly accumulated a handsome competence.
His life was full of good deeds, kindliness and helpfulness but he asked for no inscription to be chiseled on his monument commemorating any of his virtues but requested this only
In Oakwood Cemetery in Montgomery, the Capital of the State he so fondly loved stands a lofty white marble shaft above his grave with the above simple but heroic inscription.
The following tribute to his memory is copied from an editorial in the Birmingham Age-Herald of July 31st, 1906, the morning after his death:
"Judge William R. Houghton died last night at the Hillman hospital as the result of a stroke of paralysis suffered last Tuesday morning. Since stricken he had been in a critical condition and there had been little hope of his recovery.
"On Tuesday Judge Houghton was paralyzed while walking on Eighteenth street and in a few hours lapsed into unconsciousness. He was conveyed to the hospital where he had received the best medical attention. He remained in a deep stupor most of the time with only occasional returns to consciousness. His vocal organs were affected by the stroke and he had never been able to speak a word, but by slight movements of the head he was able to
indicate that he understood remarks addressed to him.
"Last evening about 6:30 o'clock there was a sinking spell and relatives were hurriedly summoned. The end came at 7:30 o'clock. At his bedside at the time were his son, Harry S. Houghton of Montgomery and the deceased's brother, M. B. Houghton. He leaves also a sister who resides in Austin, Tex.
"Judge Houghton's body will be carried to Montgomery this morning at 8:30 o'clock. The funeral will take place there this afternoon.
"William R. Houghton was born in Heard County, Georgia, on May 22, 1842. When he was but a small boy his family moved to Alabama and settled near Opelika, where he was reared and educated. At the beginning of the civil war he was teaching school near Mt. Zion, Ala., but at the first call for troops he enlisted in the Columbus, (Ga.) Guards. He served throughout the war and participated with marked gallantry in many important battles, being wounded several times. At the close of the war he took up the study of law and practiced at Rutledge and later at Hayneville.
Moving to Birmingham about fifteen years ago he formed a partnership with E. T. Talliferro, and later on practiced with W. A. Collier. In 1896 he became the partner of Capt. W. C. Ward in the law firm of Ward & Houghton and had been associated with him to the present time.
"Judge Houghton was deeply interested in literature
and especially war annals. He made valuable contributions to Confederate history. His narrative papers on the great battles are regarded as having high historical value. The deceased was often urged to put these narratives into book form, and was engaged on this work when the end came.
"Devoted to the stirring memories of the sixties and ever bound to his old comrades of the war, Judge Houghton accepted the results of the surrender and lived and worked for the upbuilding of the south. Proverbially unassuming, the deceased was known far and wide for his bravery and his heroic spirit, and he was known, too, for his kindness of heart and his unostentatious deeds of charity. His death will be profoundly lamented in Alabama and to Camp Hardee, United Confederate Veterans, his passing away will come as a real grief."
Name - W. R. Houghton.
Where born - Franklin, Heard County, Georgia.
Rank when entering service - Private.
Rank at close of service - Orderly Sergeant, detached as scout for General Longstreet.
Age at time of enlistment - 18 years.
Occupation at time of enlistment - School teacher.
Occupation after the war - Lawyer.
Condition of health - Never robust.
Residence at time of enlistment - Smith's Station, Ala.
Where mustered into service - Tybee Island.
How long - One year, afterward for the war.
Name of company - Columbus Guards, Co. G., Captains Roswell C. Ellis and Thomas Chaffin, Jr
Regiment served in - Second Georgia.
Brigade - Benning's, afterward Toombs'.
Division - Jones', afterwards Hood's.
Corps - Longstreet's.
Army - Northern Virginia.
How often on furlough - Twice for wounds, once for gallantry at Chickamauga and once on one day's leave.
In service how long - Three years, eleven months three weeks.
How many times wounded and where - Seven times, once at Malvern Hill, once at Second Manassas, other wounds slight, at Chickamauga, Petersburg and below Richmond.
How often a prisoner of war and where captured -
In the evening of ninth of April, 1865, after General Lee had surrendered at Appomattox.
Discharged from service - April 12th, 1865, at Appomattox Court House, Va., paroled as a prisoner of war.
Engaged in battles and skirmishes - Yorktown, Seven Pines, Malvern Hill, Second Manassas, Thoroughfare Gap, Fredericksburg, Suffolk, Gettysburg, Falling Waters, Maryland, Chickamauga, Wills' Valley, Knoxville, Fort Sanders, Spottsylvania, Cold Harbor, Trenches at Petersburg, one month, under incessant fire, North lames River, Fusell Mills, Fort Harrison, Darbytown Road (three separate engagements), Petersburg again April 1st, 1865, Farmville April 8th, 1865, Appomattox April 9th, 1865. Numerous skirmishes outside the lines.
Name - M. B. Houghton.
Where born - Franklin, Heard County, Georgia.
Rank - Private.
Age at time of enlistment - 16 years.
Occupation at time of enlistment - Newspaper work.
Health - Fairly good.
Where mustered into service - Fort Mitchell Alabama.
For how long - One year, afterwards for the war.
Residence at time of enlistment - Newton, Alabama.
Name of company - Glennville Guards, Company H.
Regiment served in - Fifteenth Alabama.
Brigade - Law's, afterwards Trimble's.
Division - Hood's.
Corps - Ewell's, afterwards Stonewall Jackson's.
Army - Northern Virginia.
Captain - William Richardson.
How often on furlough - None except when wounded.
In service how long - Three years, eight months.
How many times wounded and where - Twice, in head Second Manassas, in hand at Chickamauga. Latter light, former serious.
How often a prisoner of war and where captured - On foot hills of Lookout Mountain, in night attack a few days after the battle of Chickamauga. My Captain and thirteen others captured at same time.
Where confined and how long - Camp Morton, Indiana, 16 months.
Discharged from service, at Richmond, Paroled when liberated, and war practically over.
Battles engaed in - Siege of Suffolk, Second Manassas, Cedar Run, Port Republic, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, and in all the engagements of Stonewall Jackson's valley campaign wherein three separate forces of the enemy each equal in numbers to our own were defeated and vast wagon trains and stores captured.
In the year 1861 I was living with my father at Newton, Dale County, Alabama, our family having moved in 1859 from Russell, now Lee County, a county formed subsequent to the war by partitioning parts of Russell and other contiguous counties. The family at that time consisted of my father, Colonel William H. Houghton, my mother, who was a daughter of Rev. Rev. Mitchell Bennett, two sisters, Julia and Beatrice, and myself. My only brother, W. R. Houghton, was teaching school in a neighborhood of wealthy river planters near Smith's Station in the then county of Russell. My oldest sister, Elizabeth Ann, had married Caleb R. Olive and they were living at Union Springs. Mr. Olive volunteered in the Fourth Alabama Regiment and was mortally wounded in the battle of Gettysburg, and we do not know the place of his burial.
My father was 53 years of age and was practicing law in Newton in partnership with J. R. Breare, an Englishman, and enjoyed a lucrative practice as things then went. My father was known as Colonel Houghton, having commanded a troop in 1837 or 1838, at Wetumpka, Alabama, where he and his brother, Col. R. B. Houghton, latterly of Florida, were then living. The object of the troop was to protect the town of Wetumpka and settlers in surrounding country from the depredations of Indians and desperados.
The town of Newton at outbreak of the war, was
M. B. HOUGHTON.
a flourishing village, the county site, with court house, churches, schools, some talented lawyers, physicians, and other citizens.
I was employed for some time in the office of clerk of the circuit court and afterward became a compositor, assistant pressman, assistant editor of the only newspaper published in the town, The Newton Standard. I have preserved two or three copies of the paper, one with an editorial written by my father, and one written of me by the owner, editor and manager, Mr. A. W. Weir, after I had volunteered to serve in the Confederate war.
The following is the editorial written of me by Mr. Weir:
(From the Newton Standard, July 5th, 1861.)
"Among the Dale volunteers that will start to Virginia today, may be found our worthy associate and warm friend, Mr. M. B. Houghton. We part with him with sincere and unfeigned regret. In all of our experience in the printing and publishing life we have never found a more efficient, industrious, steady and trustworthy operator, a truer friend and a more high minded, honorable gentleman; but we are consoled by one reflection that our loss will be our country's gain. No truer soldier, no more ardent patriot, no more worthier man can be found in the ranks of any army. The prayers and unceasing solicitude of his friends in Newton will accompany him wherever he goes, and if they avail he will distinguish himself and will return in due time to the embraces of his fond parents and the greetings of his numerous friends. His speech at the parting meeting last night was some evidence of his intrinsic worth and the faithful manner with which he will discharge his duties as a soldier."
As the foregoing was said of me by another I am not open to the Biblical admonition, "Let not him that putteth on his armor boast as he that taketh it off."
I entered the Confederate Army as a private in a company recruited from Barbour, Henry, Dale and Russell Counties in Alabama.
John A. Truitlen of Glennville, Barbour County, came to Newton in July, 1861, and enrolled some sixteen volunteers, myself among the number. I was sixteen years old and fairly well developed for a boy of that age.
A meeting was called to assemble in the Court House, patriotic speeches were made, military ardor was intensified by the beating of drums and the shrill notes of the fife, while the women and girls sang patriotic songs amid shouts and waving of flags. A banquet was given at night and those of us who had enlisted felt that we were great heroes and were going forth to participate in a kind of holiday excursion, soon to return crowned with victorious laurels. The oratory of the occasion was very fervid and the people were wild with excitement. I had but a limited education and knew very little of the ways of the world, but felt my importance as a prospective soldier of the Confederacy.
There was a small but talented theatrical troupe playing in Newton, the two principal actors were Virginians about thirty years of age. They dissolved their company and enlisted with us. They were handsome, educated men and made faithful and brave soldiers. Their names were W. L. Wilson and Frank Boothby.
We went in wagons to Eufaula and thence to Glennville in Barbour County, where the company
was recruited to its full strength of one hundred men and named the Glennville Guards. John R. Truitlen was elected Captain, who, on the formation of the Fifteenth Alabama Regiment at Fort Mitchell was appointed Lieutenant Colonel and William Richardson was elected in his place.
Our regimental formation was made at Fort Mitchell, a railroad and river station about nine miles below Columbus, Georgia, on the Alabama side. The regiment known as the Fifteenth Alabama, was made up here and James Cantey, who had seen service in the Mexican war, was appointed Colonel.
The Glennville Guards was numbered Company H. by which designation it was ever afterward called.
Col. Cantey made a rigid disciplinarian, so we thought, for the experience of military life was novel and somewhat humiliating. We were uniformed in Confederate gray, and had new tents and necessary equipments. The regiment was a fine looking and soldierly body of a thousand strong. It was numbered fifteen and was afterward celebrated as the glorious old 15th Alabama Regiment. Among the officers was Major Daniels of Barbour County, and Captain Vernoy, our commissary from Columbus, Georgia. We afterwards found that the commissary office was a very important one, and an energetic forager for his men, highly to be praised, although the soldiers mercilessly jibed and ridiculed him whenever the rations were short or not on time and he was seen to beat a hasty retreat to the rear when the enemy was encountered.
I do not remember any incidents of importance
while we were at Fort Mitchell except several men were drowned in the river while bathing and the daily visits of the ladies to our camp and the constant drill and daily dress parade.
We were all anxious to get to the seat of war and were delighted when orders came to break camp and beard the cars for Virginia.
We bivouaced at Manassas, arriving just one month after the first great battle was fought. Obtaining permission the men would often explore the battlefield and eagerly seize any relics they could find, mostly for the purpose of sending back to relatives and friends.
We camped at Centerville six miles from Manassas about six months and it was the most trying period of the war. I say this because it was a period of enforced idleness with little to break the monotony of camp life but drills and parades. This was the time that the frying pan and the raw flour and fresh beef got in their deadly work. The men fresh from their homes with no experience in cooking did not know how to prepare the food furnished and the flap jack and half cooked roast produced dysentery and the men died by scores.
The first few months of our camp life in Virginia developed a hardihood and robustness in those who survived that stood them well in hand for the arduous marches, the great privations, the scanty rations and the threadbare clothing and equipment that resulted as the war progressed. Our camps were about thirty miles of Washington and our picket lines were often in sight of the dome of the great Capitol of what was once our country. It was strange, but we did not envy our Northern
enemies their capital nor did we want to lay waste their land and country, but felt that we had divided our possessions, giving them their full share, and only desired to be let alone and left to make the best of our destiny.
There were almost daily rumors of the advance of the enemy and most of our forces being untried and raw we were kept in a high state of expectancy. We wanted to fight and wanted to do so right off, but the enemy would not gratify us, but patiently worked to perfect his plans, drill his troops and make a serious business of the war.
I have often done picket duty between Fairfax Court House and Washington, guarding some lonely trail in the blackness of night, feeling sure that I was the most important safeguard of the splendid army in my rear, as with strained eyes I peered into the woods and imagined every rustling leaf an enemy.
Our currency was good for a few months of our camp life and we could purchase fine Norfolk oysters at fifty cents a quart and the vegetables and fruits with which Virginia abounded, at reasonable prices. There were a great many hucksters and the soldiers were liberal customers. With the increase of Confederate money the peddlers and their wares gradually disappeared, but be it said of the noble men and women of Virginia, they never turned away a hungry Confederate soldier if, of their scanty store, they could supply his necessities.
We had fine beef in abundance when we first went in camp, but we did not know how to prepare it and were not accustomed to its constant use. Bacon would have suited us much better and if our authorities
had found it out sooner many valuable lives would have been saved. We had to learn how to feed an army by degrees and the lesson was learned at a fearful cost of life. I have seen many excellent quarters of Virginia clover-fed beef lying in our camp on the snow, the men at liberty to help themselves, but untouched for the very sight got to be nauseating. The men divided into messes of three, four or even six taking turns at cooking, but the best cook usually had most of it to do, the others building fires, cutting wood or bringing water. I did not like large messes and never had more than three to divide duties with, and believe I got along better for it. We had skillets, a kind of oven with a handle and lid and would cut up our beef, put in the oven, fill with water, put coals of fire on top and bottom and let it stew all night, occasionally getting up to replenish the fire and water. This made an excellent and savory stew and was highly relished. We could do this very well while in regular camp, but afterward on forced marches we had no time or utensils, but used sticks or our ramrods to scorch the meat and baked our bread on the coals if we were so fortunate as to have anything to cook.
When McClellan moved the seat of war to the Peninsular and tried to capture Richmond from the East we marched to Ashland, and afterwards to Gordonsville so as to be in readiness to repel an attack from the North or East.
One night after Pope had succeeded McClellan as commander of the Federal forces, we were on a range of hills or bluffs on the South side of the Rappahannock river and the enemy occupied the
opposite side. A furious cannonade was kept up even into the night, while we could only lay down and submit to the consequences. A large shell struck the earth about three feet below where four of us were reclining on the brow of a bluff and nearly covered us with dirt, but fortunately failed to explode. The air was full of whizzing balls and bursting shells, but the destruction of life in consequence was not very great.
Early in the night we started on a forced march up the river which we waded to the opposite side about midnight and with the Bull Run Mountains Between us and the enemy we pushed on toward Manassas Junction. Tired, wet, wornout, all night long we pressed forward, wading streams, climbing hills, across farms, through forests and along country roads until the morning found our army well on the way to the rear of the Federal army. We marched through a gap of the mountains and followed the railroad between Washington and Richmond. At Bristow Station the advance guard and cavalry had a fight with a force of the enemy and we came up in time to see the finish. While we were marching by the station a small detachment of Federal cavalry made a dash at our line. They were brave fellows, but we emptied every saddle before they could reach us with their sabres.
We pressed on to Manassas, where we found train loads of army supplies and sutler stores. The boys helped themselves and I got some coffee, canned fruit and other good things. We were in the rear of Pope's army and he was hastening to overwhelm us, consequently we had to burn and destroy what we so sadly needed. We marched about Centreville
and Bull Run for two or three days, taking many positions and obscuring our movements in woods and behind elevations evidently with the object of deceiving the enemy as to our numbers for he was coming back at us to capture or destroy our force before help could arrive. One evening about dark, our lines and a brigade of the enemy came together and we had a hot fight. The firing of small arms was terrific and the fiery blaze from the thousands of guns made a fire works display that was worth seeing. We were engaged at very close quarters and the cry was raised "don't fire, you are killing our men." It seemed to have proceeded from both sides. Many ceased firing and both lines soon withdrew in the darkness and we never knew whether we were shooting at friends or enemies My part of the line was in the edge of a little thicket and from the sizzing balls and cut twigs it seemed that if I had held up an iron hat I could have caught it full of bullets in a short time
The hottest hand-to-hand fight I ever witnessed was the next day after the incident just related. It seemed General Jackson tried to avoid an engagement as long as possible in order to give time for Longstreet's Corps to come to our aid for Pope had turned his whole army, or it so seemed to us in the endeavor to crush our small force. The brigade to which I belonged was stationed behind an old railroad right of way and the road bed had been partly graded. The 15th Alabama had an embankment in front except on the extreme right where there was an open space of some fifty yards not filled in. To the right, still further, was a cut through a rise or hill about six to eight feet deep. Two lines of battle
charged our front and a part forced through the opening, but we slayed nearly every man who got up to our line. They pushed our men back from the opening, but we on the left poured an enfilading fire into them that left few to tell the story. Three lines of battle, one after another in beautiful order with banners flying, hurled themselves against our men in the cut. The front line was nearly annihilated, but the second one came to the rescue and nearly met the same fate, but some of the men and the color bearers got to the edge of the cut and waved their flags over our men. We had mostly muzzle loading guns and there was no time to load. Then such a contest with rocks and butt ends of muskets I have never seen or read of before or since. It was in full view of all of our regiment next to our right, and we poured an enfilading fire which somewhat staggered the third line, but most of them got to the edge of the cut and were about to annihilate our men with overwhelming numbers, when with shouts and yells, our reinforcements came up and a volley or two put the enemy to flight. The maddened men, the flying stones, the clubbed muskets, the shouts, yells, smoke, dust, din, and rattle of that scene passes description. I caught a glimpse of the banners of Longstreet's men as they came rushing to our rescue some half mile distant and our men shouted in unison with them, inspiring us with a joy unspeakable and made every man redouble his efforts, if that were possible.
Our company fought behind the old dirt bank, as said before, and in front of us was a small woodland which gave the enemy a little advantage as to
cover and they would fire at us whenever we showed ourselves on the bank. We had to walk up, take a little time to get an aim, which gave the enemy a fair shot and we lost a number of good and brave men in this way. William Baily, who lived near Newton, Alabama, and myself were firing alternately. I had gone up and fired and stepped back to load when Baily went up and was immediately shot through the lower part of the neck. He fell over me and I assisted him a little way to the rear. He afterwards died at home from the effects of this wound.
The Federals rapidly retreated after their bloody repulse and the arrival of reinforcements under Longstreet. Our regiment was moved to another part of the field in the direction of the retreating enemy, but I was ordered to remain at our last stand to succor the wounded and guard the regiment's baggage and some supplies. The field was literally strewn with the dead and wounded. It was a grewsome task, alone and in the moonshine, to guard this field of death and destruction. The piteous groans and wild despairing shrieks of the scores of helpless wounded would have appalled any but a hardened, half starved and wornout soldier. I rendered what aid I could to those around and made a fire upon which I broiled some bacon and boiled a large tin cup full of captured coffee. Near me were at least one hundred dead men and six within twenty feet of my camp fire. I took part in the battles of Gettysburg and Chickamauga two of the greatest and most sanguinary contests of the war, but I saw more dead and wounded on this field than in either of the two named. And the dead were
principally the enemy for our loss was comparatively small, considering the sanguinary nature of the combat.
The enemy retreated towards the Potomac and the next day I joined the regiment in pursuit, although there were other troops in our front. While following the enemy two days after the battle the rear guard of the Federals planted some cannon on an eminence a mile or more in our front and shelled us with great vigor. One of the shells burst above our line which was in marching order and a fragment struck me on the side of the head above the right ear. A hole that you could put your thumb through was torn in my old tough wool hat and I was stunned and dazed. I felt the blood trickling down my face but was hardly conscious of my condition. I do not remember how I made my way but do remember stopping in an old house where there were many wounded being operated on by a surgeon. Some one felt of my head and told me I was badly hurt. Several pieces of the outer scull bone came out and I began to suffer great pain. The doctor's time was all taken up with cutting off broken legs and arms and would not look at others who had no shattered limbs. I do not know how I did it but I filled my canteen with water, punched a hole at the bottom and hung it up on a nail in the wall. I then laid down on the floor and let the water slowly drip on the wound. I kept this up all night and the next morning felt somewhat relieved but was in a semi-dazed condition. I did not get any medical attention and did not ask for any for I did not realize the necessity and the serious nature of my wound. Pieces of shattered bone continued
to work out of the fracture at times for ten years after the war. For some time after the wound I have no recollection as to what happened to me, but remember to have been in a hospital and to have finally recovered sufficiently to rejoin the regiment. After some forty years I often feel some pain from this hurt and there is now a cut in the bone of my head about a quater of an inch deep and an inch long.
We were made a part of General Stonewall Jackson's celebrated foot cavalry and took part in his historic campaign in the Valley of Virginia, which I think in many respects, the most wonderful of the many great achievements of the war. The men were equal or superior to horses on the march, wading streams and rivers, climbing mountains and often engaged in skirmishes and brisk little fights with the enemy. We waded the Shenandoah river, the water coming up to our necks and quite cold but it did not strike us then as anything out of the ordinary. We crossed and recrossed the Blue Ridge Mountains at a great elevation and one night camped near the summit. As the regiments filed into their positions in the wooded coves the bands played "The Girl I Left Behind Me," and other familiar airs which resounded among the mountain heights and greatly delighted the weary soldiers. I thought I had never heard anything so beautiful and inspiring and in fact I have not since.
We captured an immense wagon train with supplies and were retreating up the Valley towards Staunton on the west side of the Shenandoah river pursued by Fremont and an army equal to our own in numbers. On the opposite side an equal force under
Shields was trying to head us off. At Port Republic was a bridge, our only means of crossing an unfordable river. As we came up on the hills in view of the bridge and the valley beyond the enemy was in sight on the other side. Fremont also attacked our rear, and our regiment with others had to right about and fight his forces. We made short work of it charging right up to their batteries, not giving them time to work them effectively. While crossing a rail fence I saw a Yankee take a deliberate aim at me as I straddled the top rail. The bullet buried itself in the rail but did me no harm.
After forcing back Fremont's forces we hurried toward the bridge arriving in time to witness a brisk fight going on across the river. The position we occupied was much higher and we had a fine view of the contest which was raging in the valley beyond. We saw one line of our men charge the enemy but were received with such a galling fire they faltered and lay down on the grass. Another brigade double quicked up and with the "Rebel" yell rushed over them and put the enemy to flight. Our Calvary pursued them with relentless vigor and they returned no more to trouble us.
We had defeated two armies equal to our own in numbers, saved an immense wagon train and leisurely marched toward Richmond. Some time afterward the enemy rallied their forces and resolved to try us once more. They attacked us while we held a position on the base of a huge hill we called Cedar Mountain. They gave us a hard fight which was highly scenic and picturesque as we were far above the plains below and both sides occupied at times commanding positions in full view of each other
The charges and counter charges, the play of many batteries of artillery, and the incessant rattle of musketry away up on these eminences made a picture of real war that we could see and realize. We finally repulsed them with heavy loss but it was not a rout for they greatly outnumbered us.
I have seen some daringly foolhardy deeds but where so many unflinchingly acted heroic parts it is hard to discriminate. We often thought if the enemy would only fight us two to one or double our number we would ask no easier job than to whip them, but we hardly ever had less than twice our force to contend with and often three times our number. There was no disputing the fact that our men were the best fighters for we had our hearts in the work and our homes at stake, while the enemy fought more like machines and their souls were not in it.
It was at the siege of Suffolk I witnessed a foolish act of bravery on the part of an aid, a Lieutenant Cousins from Mobile. We had earthworks about five feet high and the enemy's sharpshooters were in a bushy swamp in our front. This Lieutenant would get on top of the fort, take out his glasses and peer at the enemy's position and to show his contempt for their markmanship he would occasionally stoop down and with his pocket knife dig in the dirt for the balls. He had long curly hair and was over six feet tall, his appearance altogether impressing us that he led a charmed life. He was not hurt at this time nor afterwards that I ever heard of.
When our forces were near Orange Court House, I was detailed to guard a private house some two miles from camp. I do not know the reason a guard
was necessary unless it was to keep away foragers as we called the men who were constantly seeking from the hospitable Virginia people something better to eat than our army rations. M. M. Pannell was the name of the man whose house I protected and I shall never forget the kindness of the lady of the house. She was a true Virginia gentle woman, full of grace and sweetness and made me feel more like an honored guest than a soldier under orders. I had the satisfaction of halting many intruders but I can testify to the credit of the Confederate soldiers in our army not one of whom persisted in trying to enter contrary to my warnings. I remained on guard about the premises for more than a week and then our command was ordered to another part of Virginia. It was stange but months after I had guarded this home, and after the campaign in Pennsylvania and the battle of Gettysburg, while we were leisurely retreating toward Richmond I was detailed to guard the same premises, where I again remained several days. One thing impressed me less at the time than afterwards, was a remark of Mr. Pannell that our cause was lost after the battle of Gettysburg, but I was young and enthusiastic and refused to believe it. Mrs. Pannell gave me a red Morocco bound little New Testament which I carried in my side pocket during the remainder of the war including the great battles of Gettysburg and Chickamauga and fourteen months in Camp Morton prison. I lost this highly prized relic forty years after the war in a fire on Court Street in Montgomery.
The grandest military display I ever witnessed was on the banks of the Potomac river when General
Lee's army crossed over for the invasion of Maryland and Pennsylvania. I was one of the Provost guard whose duties were sometimes in the front and at others in the rear or on the flank, but why we were on this particular occasion in the front I do not know.
We were stationed near the river bank on a beautiful bright morning when the Calvary in columns of fours marched by. The horses were in good trim and the men in high spirits. The procession seemed endless. Then came Battery after battery of artillery and the gray hosts of infantry. These men were all tried veterans inspired with a spirit of invincible determination and had the bearing of heroes.
The change of tactics or plans from the defensive to the aggressive made a wonderful change in the bearing and spirit of our men. They marched in close order with a steadiness and vigor and an air of conscious power and superiority that was majestic. The men appeared to be over the average in size and weight, fairly well equipped and uniformed and had unbounded confidence in their great Commander.
I had seen many bodies of fine soldiers but this army of invasion impressed me at the time as being the most superb fighting machine the world ever saw. After many years I have no reason to change the opinion then formed. With proper leadership they would have routed the federal forces at Gettysburg but it was impossible to scale rocky heights and dislodge a foe superior in numbers at the same time. It was a fatal mistake to join battle with the enemy in his chosen position where the natural obstacles were almost insurmountable.
Our brigade appeared to occupy the extreme right at the battle of Gettysburg. At one time the enemy occupied a hill in our front that was very steep and rocky. We were on a hill also, within rifle range but between us was a deep ravine. We could see they were in some confusion and their teams and army wagons ready for flight. The men in ranks spoke of such a favorable opportunity to flank them on the left as that part seemed wholly unprotected. It seemed to us that a brigade or even a regiment could have turned their left and started a panic that might have caused a different result to have happened. Some of the officers afterward believed it could have been done but no one in authority saw it at the time.
were advantageous for planting and operating the cannon and the batteries on both sides were the pride of either army. I do not know the number operated at the same time but it was said to be five hundred; but I do know the roar was awful and the heavens surcharged with hissing, roaring balls screeching, screaming, bursting shells enveloped in sulphorous smoke that clouded the July sun. When the heavens are rolled together as a scroll in the last days I doubt whether it will present a more awe-inspiring spectacle than that historic field presented on that fatal day.
We saw a farm house dimly in the distance and bore down on it fully expecting to share some frugal Dutchman's ample supply of good things but on a near approach the sight of a half dozen birds of the same feather as ourselves blighted our hopes, but did not dismay us. We saw a clearing on the foothills of the mountain far in the distance and rapidly made our way toward it. We found an uncultivated field and an abondoned house, but beyond a trail or path that had been recently traveled. Following the trail we came into a thicket so dense and dark that one of my companions proposed that we go back as we might get into trouble, but we overruled him and
pressed on. Suddenly the front man came to a halt, brought his gun to a ready and we followed his example very quickly. He had discovered a horse fastened by a line to a sapling about fifty yards ahead, but on investigation could find no claimant. I had separated from my companions a few paces when I discovered an entrance to a cave and called to them to examine it. Below was an immense ledge of rock and an opening in which some dirt had collected and I saw human tracks. We called to the supposed inmates to come out that we would not harm them, but could get no response. Finally against the protest of my companions I entered, and advanced slowly following the dim passage. I had gone some distance, when a short turn revealed a sight that made my hair stand on end. Reclining on a rock was apparently a pretty girl and near by was a man with a gun in his hand. Their den was dimly lighted through crevices in the top in which were fallen trees and limbs resting on the ledges of rock.
As I was in a position where I could not be seen, I watched carefully for other occupants until I was convinced they were alone. They commenced a conversation in a low tone and slipping into a crevice of the rock I determined to test their nerve. "Hello' there," I called? and the effect was magical. He bounded up striking his head against the logs and she screamed a succession of very healthy and voluminous screams. Her companion cried "mine Got! we be kilt already, mine Got!" and kept time with her for several minutes. Finally, during a lull I called to him to stuff his hat in his mouth and stop that noise, for I would not hurt him and if they continued they would scare all the wolves and bears off the
mountain and run the rebels back over the Potomac. My jocular tone somewhat assured them but they trembled perceptibly, visible even in a dim light.
I ordered the man to put his gun aside, which he did, and I advanced into their chamber. My captives I found to be a fair Dutch girl and her companion her brother, an overgrown boy. They had been over the mountain on a visit when our cacalry cut them off from home and their minds were so filled with fear of the horrid rebels they had sought this retreat the whereabouts they had learned in hunting. We led them to their horse and down the mountain to the place where they had left their jersey wagon, hitched it up and sent them on their way rejoicing and heaping blessings on the heads of "repols" generally.
During the campaign in the Valley of Virginia while we were on the march, General Stonewall Jackson, our commander, several times rode to the front from the rear of his army. At such times we knew he was coming by the shouts of the men behind who quickly opened rank two and two on either side of the roadway. He came in a gallop on his chestnut brown horse, sitting not gracefully but easily, with the visor of his cap well down over his brow and a pleased expression on his countenance. While not an imposing military figure he appeared soldierly and striking. The men were wild with enthusiasm whenever he appeared, giving vent to their admiration by continual shouts and waving of hats We had unbounded confidence in his leadership and would have rushed into the jaws of death had he so ordered. It is said that he rode down near the bridge over the Shenandoah river, when pressed in
the rear by Fremont and saw that Shield's forces had planted a battery on the other side commanding the bridge, our only means of crossing over. He shouted to the enemy to move that battery lower down, that the rebels were crossing below, which order they quickly obeyed. He then rushed a brigade across and met the Federals before they found out that they had been duped. The truth was that some of our cavalry did cross the river, but far below the bridge we so badly wanted at the time.
We were all proud of our connection with Jackson's army and whenever asked to what command we belonged we replied "to Jackson's Foot Cavalry."
Jackson was merciless in marching his men, preferring to strike terror to the foe by a surprise and flank or rear attack and at an unexpected time rather than have his men meet superior forces on their chosen battle ground.
One of the bravest men I ever saw in battle, and I have seen many brave ones, was John G. Archibald from west Alabama, I believe from Greensboro. He was not spectacular in his ways, making himself a target without reason, but always exchanged places, if in the rear rank, with the front man when a fight was imminent giving as his reason that he did not want to be shot with a dirty ball. He was never seen to show a tremor under the most galling fire nor to dodge a hissing shell, but always stood squarely to the front, cool and determined. He was about 45 years of age, rather under medium size, jocular and good humored. I saw him shot through the face the ball entering just below the left cheek bone and coming out on the right of his neck, making a horrible wound. We all thought he was mortally
hurt but such was his vitality, he returned to ranks within six weeks, as valiant and true as ever.
The rations given us were often insufficient to appease hunger, and consequently there was more or less foraging to supplement the deficiency. One evening two of our men went to a farmer's house but found nothing they wanted but some stands of bees. Waiting until dark a little distance off they returned but found the place guarded by a fierce dog. By some means they made friends of him and soon made way with two stands fairly well filled with honey. Next day the farmer complained to the commanding officer of the theft, and stated that he had left his dog to guard the premises. The officer inquired why the dog had not done his duty, "The scoundrels stole the dog too" said the farmer at which we all laughed him into a good humor.
Longstreet's corps was transferred to Georgia to aid General Bragg and in a short time after we plunged into the battle of Chicamauga one of the great battles of the war, and one among a number of the most destructive recorded in history.
Our regiment, the 15th Alabama did not get into the hottest part of the great fight, but we lost many men. We were engaged mostly in the woods and with a retreating foe. We mixed up with the Federals several times and shot at each other at close range. I was slightly wounded by a minnie ball cutting open the top of my left fore finger but otherwise escaped unhurt. After the battle, while on picket duty near Chattanooga, I often exchanged newspapers and tobacco with the Yankee pickets. The Western men we found braver and more stubborn than those of the Army of the Potomac.
Our rations about this time, were irregular and very poor. Our bread was made from corn and pea meal mixed and unsifted, with a very small piece of rusty bacon. The constant downpour of rain made the bread an unsavory mush. It was not strengthening and the men became greatly weakened.
About two weeks after the battle of Chickamauga we were ordered upon Lookout Mountain. It was a night march and altogether through woods and undergrowth. We halted several times, formed line of battle and threw up breatworks of logs and rocks only to leave them and go forward. Finally we reached the crest of a range west of Lookout. We halted, formed line of battle and made slight breastworks as before. We could hear the rumbling of the wagons and the sound of horses' feet far below in the valley. We constantly expected the enemy to attack us in front but we could not see, for the woods were dense and the hills steep, somewhat precipitous. It was an ominous hour for the thin gray line, away up on the mountain top in the midst of the scraggy woods. We could hear the roar of the moving hosts of the enemy with fresh re-enforcements prepared to cut off our retreat and strike us in the rear. About 12 o'clock at night we heard volley after volley of musketry far to our left, but the firing was intermittent and followed by ominous silence. The enemy's pickets were in front of us and we fired several volleys into the dark woods whenever we heard the rustling of leaves and bushes, but they did not answer. No doubt it was a mistake to have fired when we did as it only served to reveal our position. Suddenly one of the enemy's
pickets came blustering up to our line immediately in front of my position, beseeching us not to shoot, that they were friends, and talking like a crazy man. Five or six muskets were pointed at his breast, but no one fired. Without faltering, he came right into our line but did not hold his gun at ready, talking and gesticulating like an actor. One of our men took his gun and gathering him by the collar made him lay down, threatening to use the butt of his gun on his head if he did not keep quiet. The tension of expectancy was now intense and I was so occupied with the front that I do not know what became of him.
A few minutes after two companies of our regiment on the extreme left broke and fell back, nearly doubling on us. The officers finally succeeded in rallying most of them and they returned to their positions. It was but a very short time after this that all of the left of the regiment fell back in confusion and stampeded to the rear. Not a shot had been fired and we could see no enemy. Most of us got up and followed but more leisurely. With several others I made an effort to rally the men. I remember one fellow ran by me so excitedly that he struck a large size sapling, straddling it and going over the top down the hillside. I called to my companions "Let's go back, I do not see anything to run from." Twelve or fifteen of us did return to our former places and in the confusion, being at night and in the woods, we thought the regiment was reforming. It never occurred to me that the enemy had flanked us, and we kept a sharp watch out front.
A short time after we had resumed our positions
the rustling of leaves and tramp of men in my rear attracted my attention and I turned to see what it was. In the dim moonshine I saw a line of men that appeared better uniformed than our men and seemed larger, and had brighter guns. Still I would not believe that our men had all gone and decided they were re-enforcements. The line advanced within fifteen or twenty steps and I raised up and asked what regiment that was. The answer came "the 74th Ohio," and I knew I was in a bad fix, for I heard another officer command to shoot the first man who showed himself in front. When the line was nearly on me I gave up, and I found later they had my Captain Richardson and fifteen other men.
Those who consented to take the oath of allegiance to the North were released but few did so, and then Gov. Johnson appeared disappointed and mad at what he considered the stubbornness of the helpless prisoners. As fast as transportation could be provided we were forwarded via Louisville to Camp Morton prison, near Indianapolis, Indiana. On the way from Chattanooga to Nashville I believe some of us could have escaped, as the cars were loosely guarded, but most of us after the trying experiences of the Chickamauga battle, the heavy rains and poor rations, were nearly prostrated. After the excitement of battle and subsequent capture we had physically collapsed and did not possess vitality enough for a desperate undertaking.
It was in the latter part of September 1863, we arrived at Camp Morton named for Governor Morton of Indiana. The Prison had been the State fair grounds enclosed with a stockade about twelve feet high, made of one by twelve inch plank nailed upright on the outside of which was a sentry walk or platform about three feet from the top. About eight or ten acres were enclosed, and the old cattle and animal sheds were our barracks. These houses were made of plank placed up and down with the cracks or joints not broken or stripped and had dirt floors. The barracks had three rows of board bunks on each side of an eight foot passage way. Three men were assigned each bunk and no bedding furnished. Three to four thousand men were confined in this Camp under very strict surveillance. It was a motley crowd, dressed or partly dressed in all kinds of clothes except good and clean ones. Most of the men when captured, were worn out and famished and their faces had a haggard and weary appearance.
Our bread was cooked in a bakery out side the walls and was good and wholesome but only a half pound loaf was allowed daily. The daily allowance was devoured in a few minutes. Our meats were cooked in big cauldrons inside the camp and was usually beef. No coffee or tea was given us but we had some beans and soup occasionally. The general ration was cut down to less than half the army allowance and many men slowly starved to death.
Some of the officers commanding were cruel and tyrannical and inflicted all sorts of punishment on many of the men who committed thoughtless acts or were in any way refractory. Often men were reported by spies and traitors among us to the commander for the expression of any sentiment of hope for victory for our side or criticism of the Federal conduct of the war or the management of the prison. Tieing up by the hands, bucking and gagging were common. Whenever a prisoner escaped they seemed to take revenge on many of the men by more than usual severity of treatment. It was not uncommon for a guard to shoot a prisoner for very slight infraction of the rules, and one little officer said to have been from Missouri delighted to show his authority by abusing the men in every conceivable manner.
The mortality among the prisoners was frightful. Insufficient food, and clothing, no bedding, little medical attention and the dull hopeless existence of prison life in a severe climate sapped the remaining vitality of the men and they died by the score.
Slow starvation among a lot of idle men gradually robs them of every noble instinct and transforms them into weak but ravenous beasts. It was curious
but tragic to hear the prisoners recount the story daily and hourly of former feasts and revive the memory of every ample dinner they had enjoyed in the past. With glowing eyes and animated faces they delighted to tell of the good things provided by their wives and mothers in the halcyon days in Dixie. The subject became a passion - a frenzy, and men only existed to remember what had been.
I remember the case of a once handsome man who after the war achieved prominence at the bar in Georgia. He talked bread, bread, bread all kinds of bread, and what a great lover of bread he was until we thought he had gone daft. The boys nicknamed him "Bread."
There was a large ditch or canal across the grounds through which flowed a small sluggish stream that was always more or less filthy. Thousands of cray fish or craw fish as we wont to call them bred in this stream and the men would gather them for the purpose of making soup. Every dog, cat and rat also had to run for his life for the hungry men were omnivorous.
With two other men I had the top bunk at the North end on the East side of one of the barracks. The passage way between the two houses was covered but had a ground floor. The gabled end was not entirely closed up and the cold northwest wind was very severe. We had an old rubber blanket to spread on our rough plank bed and two other thin hair blankets for cover. We took turns as to sleeping in the middle for that was the warmest position. The winter was a very cold one, snow covering the ground more than forty days in succession, with two or more blizzards intervening. On one of these
cold nights we laid down to try to sleep. One of my companions named Searcy, from Eufaula, Alabama, occupied the middle while I was on the outside most exposed. Searcy was over medium sized, well proportioned and seemed strong and vigorous. During the latter part of the night he talked of his adventures in battle, describing how he had shot three men in a certain fight, declaring that he knew he had killed them, and detailing all the circumstances. He expressed regret that he had not slain more, and bitterly upbraided the enemy for the treatment he was receiving, denouncing them in the strongest and most vigorous terms of which he was capable. He talked on while we his two bedfellows, were partially benumbed with cold and semi-conscious from drowsiness. He finally became quiet and when the morning came we found him dead.
It was astonishing to see the ingenuity the men developed. With their pocket knives they carved all sorts of trinkets, cups, plates and puzzles out of wood and other material. Time was no object and with infinite patience they wrought many artistic articles that they never could or would duplicate outside of a prison.
The guards and inspectors and such visitors as were allowed to see us rebels would buy many of these articles, paying a mere pittance for them, and many were taken by hook or crook and never paid for. By reason of this traffic more or less currency of the "shinplaster" kind was in circulation, besides some of the prisoners had money concealed on their persons when captured or had friends on the outside who managed to give them some.
As in life in the outside world among these to three
to four thousand men many were thrifty, many barely held their own, and others exhibited the extremes of want and despair. By their skill, energy and tact a considerable number managed to live fairly well and made a little money.
A sutler store was one of the institutions of the camp and we could spend our little change for tobacco, cakes, bread, can goods and other goods not contrabrand. If the commander found that the men were buying too much for their comfort he forbade the sale for a while, but the love of gain would prevail and the sutler would slyly lay in stock some more of the forbidden goods. The commandant of the prison wanted the men deprived of everything that would mitigate their misery. The finger ring industry was the most important in the prison. Along with this trade was the making of watch charms, bracelets, breastpins and other jewelry
The sutler was allowed to sell us large guttapercha coat buttons at five cents each. These we would boil in tin cups until they resumed their original shape. With great patience the worker would cut the centre out and fashion it into a ring. Old gold pens, pieces of silver, brass buttons, and any other bright metal was used in making sets representing clasped hands, hearts and shields and other designs which were nicely engraved and highly polished The sets were riveted in with pins or strips of metal so perfectly that the fastenings could not be dectected. We used sand paper and a greasy cloth to polish. With my two bunk companions for partners I started a ring factory. These men were Johnathan Smith, farmer and blacksmith and R. M. Espy a farmer, both from Henry county, Alabama. Smith
was somewhat of a genius at tinkering, Espy had no skill in any particular line and I was an untrained boy with a bent toward barter and some tact as a salesman.
Our first investment was for two rubber buttons costing ten cents which amount we raised by selling a part of our rations which we sorely needed. I cut a brass button from my old coat which we hammered out on an old piece of iron. By some means we bought or borrowed a ten cent file. Smith made two rings, Espy and I assisting in cutting and polishing. The sets were clasped hands with hearts on either side. The rings were well shaped and the metal shone like polished gold. I willingly acted as salesman and found a purchaser in the sergeant of the guard at ten cents each. With the money we purchased more buttons and made more rings.
Smith constructed a little machine that cut a small ring out of the centre of the button thus giving us two to the button. The small ones were suitable for children and were made as carefully as the larger ones. Double rings for men were made by riveting two buttons together so deftly that the joint could not be readily detected. All of the metal was nicely engraved, highly polished and were artistic and beautiful.
Smith invented boring and riveting machines and we gradually acquired the facilities for doing the work with more ease. Now and then a particularly mean official would come along and destroy all the little helps that a factory contained. He would delight in smashing everything in sight and we learned to conceal and scatter our treasures when one came in sight.
There were so many rings and trinkets made and so few buyers that I had to seek a market. The prison authorities ran wood wagons to haul our fuel and would detail men to go outside of the camp to load the wagons and unload on return. I have often volunteered to work all day lifting very heavy sticks of green beach wood for the chance to sell my stock to the guards. The trip was about a mile and the grounds was covered with snow and my clothes were very thin but I braved it all and some days was not rewarded with a sale, but usually sold two or three.
Our trade in rings graudally increased and a short time, before we were released, and in one day I disposed of twenty dollars worth, but it was the banner sale of the season and a riddance of accumulated stock.
Sometime the sergeant of the guard would ask me to allow him to carry the rings outside to show to his friends or to the people of the city. No doubt they were in demand as curiosities or relics or were purchased by kind hearted civilians who did not object to aiding in this way the suffering prisoners. He did not always account for all put in his possession and at times paid over ridiculously low prices for those he said he had sold. With the money or shinplasters obtained by our handicraft we bought some extra rations and some few articles for our comfort.
I concealed on my person a dozen or more choice rings when we were released and brought them safely to Alabama. They were objects of curiosity and interest to my friends and relatives and were highly prized. Unfortunately, a few years after nearly
all of them were stolen, presumably by a servant. A small one is yet in my possession. I also carved a wooden mug with a relief scroll bearing the inscription "Camp Morton Prison 1864," which I left with relatives in Lee county Alabama. It was much admired and was really a pretty keepsake but unfortunately was destroyed when their house was burned soon after the close of the war. I also brought home a large tin cup, more than a quart size that I had used during my campaign experiences as a general utility cooking vessel. As occasion demanded it was a soup pot, coffee pot, meat pot or for any purpose almost that a small cook stove could supply. The coffee was of burned bread crusts, parched corn or wheat, bran or swept potatoes. This highly prized old friend was also destroyed in a fire more than thirty years after the war had closed.
Tunneling was a favorite method of attempting to escape from the prison. The black soil of the prison enclosure was about three feet deep and underneath was a thick stratum of white sand. The men would commence under their bunks and dig with knives, sticks or any tool they could improvise down to the sand and then scrape out a tunnel toward the guard wall. The dirt was carried away in their pockets or they would tie a string around the bottom of the legs of their pants and partially fill the space around their limbs with the sand, then walk out and slowly scatter it about on the grounds so as not to attract attention. They often patiently worked for weeks until they estimated they had run their shaft outside the guard wall, usually about fifty yards, and await a dark night to open out on the outside. A number of men escaped in this way
but spies and traitors made it dangerous and nearly every effort made during the last six months of our confinement was defeated by some scoundrel who would betray the workers.
In one or more instances the guards would allow the prisoner to open the outside end of the tunnel and shoot him down as he emerged. A preconcerted movement was projected for a general escape. It was one of those unaccountable uprisings that take possession of men without a head or immediate cause. No one appeared to direct but it was whispered from man to man and caused great suppressed excitement. For some reason it was reported that most of the guard for the prison had been withdrawn leaving barely sufficient men to mount the guard on the walls. It was believed that the Confederates were threatening some nearby point and all their men were needed to repel them. On a certain night armed with rocks and sticks, we were, about eight o'clock to scale the east wall, rush the guard and escape to the country. Hundreds of us drifted in the direction indicated. We were desperate and did not take into count the risk. I had several stones of convenient size to knock a guard down if he offered resistance. The few sentinels could not kill all of the mob and we could get over before others could come to the rescue. Then the sentinels on the walk high up on the walls would not be able to shoot often or accurately with hundreds of stones being hurled at them. We were in striking distance when we heard the bugle calls on the outside, the double quick of infantry, the unlimbering of artillery and the tramp of cavalry. We had been betrayed and sullenly returned to our quarters.
Thirteen of our men escaped one day, but a few of them were afterwards retaken. A detail was sent out with some wagons for wood about two miles from camp. This detail of thirteen was guarded by six men. By some means a signal was agreed on and at a favorable opportunity they seized the guard, took their arms and made off. Afterwards the guard was doubled and no more escapes were made in this way.
During the latter part of the year 1864, sometime in November, we had orders to move. It was not made known to us that we were to be exchanged but to be sent back South on terms never fully understood by us. Joyfully we boarded the freight cars at Indianapolis and set out for the long, slow journey toward Washington. We were sent down the Potomac and passed Fortress Monroe, Newport News and thence up the James river to our lines just below Richmond.
It was a ragged, emaciated lot of men, spiritless and weak from long confinement and ill treatment that once more entered Dixie. Our heroic fellow soldiers guarding the lines, looked on us with tender compassion for they were in dire straits themselves and the coming collapse of Confederate hopes cast a baleful shadow over the remnant of Lee's once invincible army. They appeared to us as men who realized that their fate was fixed but who were determined to meet the consequences without an exhibition of fear.
We went into camp for a time but whether for want of equipment or in compliance with terms of release we were dissmissed subject to call. The order for again entering ranks never came, for communications
were cut off in all directions and the end of all things hoped for by the Confederates was at hand.
My only brother, W. R. Houghton who was a gallant soldier of the Second Georgia regiment Longstreet's corps, attempted to send me money at two different times to Camp Morton and had the letters safely mailed within the enemy's lines but it is needless to say I never received the robbed letters.
Dr. John A. Wythe an eminent physician now of New York, who was a prisoner also in Camp Morton, who seems to have had some influential friends outside the prison, wrote a series of articles on prison life in Camp Morton which were published in the Century Magazine. The story of the abuse, cruelty, graft, neglect, starvation and mortality connected with the conduct and management of that prison makes the history of Andersonville mild in comparison when the resources of the two governments are considered.
These articles can be found in the public library of Montgomery and should be read by every Southerner when the story of Andersonville prison is quoted as a reflection on the Confederacy.
I frequently saw General Joseph E. Johnston who achieved fame at the battle of Manassas. He had a clear cut, military air, rotund and of medium size. He gave out the impression that he was a man of quick perception and thoroughly self possessed. He wore a military goatee with side whiskers which contributed largely to his soldierly appearance. His subsequent career proved his ability as a tactician and strategist but fate denied him the glory of achieving any great victory.
General J. E. B. Stuart was a handsome, dashing, spectacular officer. He wore a broad brimmed, heavily plumed hat with a cockade and dressed in a fine suit of Confederate gray. His sword and belt, his boots and other equipments were bright and clean. He had long reddish brown beard and mounted a splendid charger. Altogether he was a picturesque commander but his showy appearance made him the target of the enemy. He was a brave and gallant officer and his reputation as a capable commander increased until his untimely death.
General Trimble, at one time our brigade commander was a sturdy but slow officer with great tenacity and purpose. He handled his brigade usually with skill and effect. He was not personally very striking but inspired confidence by his calmness and exhibition of utter fearlessness.
General E. M. Law at one time also our brigade commander was from Tuskegee, Alabama, and was small of statue but brave and alert. He usually kept close to his men in battle and was considered a reliable officer.
General Longstreet, our corps commander, was a large heavy set, determined looking man who was regarded as slow but sure and possessed the confidence
of his men and the army generally. He was not showy or dashing nor was he very aggressive but held on to any advantages with great tenacity.
Colonel W. C. Oates who commanded the 15th Alabama regiment for some time was a handsome and brave leader. He was regarded by many as too aggressive and ambitious but he usually was well to the front and did not require his men to charge where he was unwilling to share the common danger.
Then came the crowning infamy of negro suffrage followed by carpet bag and negro rule. The adventurers who were mostly subordinates and hangers-on of the northern army in partnership with a small following of southern renegades, took advantage of the negro's ignorance and with the aid of his suffrage filled every office, state, county and municipal where there was a prospect of plunder.
The so-called elections were a travesty on the right of suffrage. Hordes of negroes, like a great black, portentous cloud, armed with old shot guns knives, sticks and other weapons would encamp the nights before an election on the hills near the county sites, build bonfires, sing, dance and drink, preparing for the election on the morrow. They had been industriously drilled into believing that if they did not vote the republican ticket they would be placed back in slavery or deported to Africa.
They had no conception of the value of their votes or the purposes of government but obeyed implicitly the direction of their white bosses. The so called elections were farces but backed by the military arm of the conquerors the southern people had no recourse but submission.
Military authority was gradually withdrawn and the white people began to assert themselves in every way possible. They had success in localities but the era of carpet bag and negro rule lasted for ten years. Its baneful effects will be felt for generations.
In order to break up this infamous domination the southern people resorted in many places to taking forcible possession of the ballot boxes, substitution and destruction of ballots and many other devices. In many precincts where the negroes were in the
majority the whites would not open the polls and they did not have sufficient intelligence to conduct an election themselves. However they never failed to turn out in great numbers to vote or try to vote. It was only a question of time after the withdrawal of military authority that the intelligent white man would overcome the brutal and ignorant black.
There is no parallel in history to the condition of the Confederates after their surrender. Their northern foes after subduing them by force of overwhelming numbers deliberately turned loose upon them millions of half civilized, ignorant aliens, totally unfitted for absorption and made them the governing and dominant factors over their prostrate former foes. It was more diabolical than the emancipation proclamation during hostilities which seemed intended to incite insurrection in the south and cause the slaughter of the women and children while their protectors were at the front fighting back the invaders of their country. The last has the very slight justification as a war measure; the former was evolved long after the last armed foe had surrendered.
I propose to tell something of the life of the Confederate soldier in camp and on the march, aside from his prowess in battle.
Enlisted in April, 1861, we went to Savannah, thence to Tybee Island, where we drilled, fought mosquitoes and fleas for two months, thence to Brunswick, Ga., where we had the same troubles, varied by an outbreak of measles and mumps, which played havoc with the companies composed of men from the country. On this account, I always congratulate mothers when their children have these complaints in infancy.
We had, in our ranks, men of every calling, sailors, soldiers of the Mexican war, a French Zouave who had served in Algiers, men who had been educated in Europe, travelers, circus clowns, poets, authors and musicians. It was at first, hard to get accustomed to camp life. Men divided into messes, according to their likes and dislikes, but soon one found that his best friend was not inclined to cut wood, fetch water, make a fire or do his share of washing the tin plates. Others who had been foppish in dress at home, became careless and dirty, and others used much profanity and vulgarity. So these messes in four years became greatly changed, sometimes by death, sometimes by weeding out objectionable fellows.
I remember one man, whose ill-temper, profanity
and obscenity was such that he could not find a messmate who would stay with him. Another one who knew more Shakespeare than any man I ever saw, was so lazy and dirty that he messed alone. Another in the next company, an old bachelor of means was so objectionable that a detail of men cut off his hair and scrubbed him, not very lightly, in the effort to get him less offensive. But long campaigning, dangers shared together, hungers and the brotherhood of comrades, finally made many of those who messed together, regard each other with a love like Jonathan and David, passing that of women. However, it was the rule of one mess to the close of the war, that during our meals, however taken, standing or sitting, no profanity or vulgarity was permitted.
Several of the company had their musical instruments until forced marches caused them to disappear, and thus we had music, and a glee club gave excellent vocal entertainments around the camp fires or under the trees, but these too, disappeared in the severe campaigns. At first we had chess, checkers, cards and games, but after the first year all games except cards were abandoned. I have seen men playing poker on a knapsack within ten steps of a preacher discoursing to men sitting on the ground around him.
But it was singular that the men would not carry a pack of cards into battle. When the cannon began in front, and we pressed forward to form in line of battle, one could walk a long distance on cards strewn by the way, and I have never seen a pack of cards on one of the thousands of dead, either friend or foe, I saw on battlefields.
The members of card clubs will take note, and
they are sure not to order pockets in their shrouds for cards.
Perhaps nine-tenths of the soldiers played some game of cards and about three-fourths indulged in gambling. On the march from Culpepper, Va., to Gettysburg, we marched an hour and rested ten minutes, with an hour's rest at noon. As soon as the men stacked their arms for the midday meal, the gamblers would set their roulette, chuckaluck and faro spreads, which they had lugged under the burning summer sun. Crowds surrounded the "lay out" eagerly reaching over the shoulders of the nearest to lay on their favorite color or number of card bundles of Confederate currency. When we recoiled from the rock bound heights of Little Round Top at Gettysburg, leaving so many gallant fellows cold in death, we saw no gambling on our sullen retreat. At Chambersburg, I lent a gambler $20 who said he was in a game. He was captured the next day and kept in prison a long time. On returning from furlough I met him on a train in North Carolina, and after embracing me with every appearance of joy, he suddenly thrust his hands into his pocket and handed me the money. There are some debts a gambler feels bound to pay. No doubt the spirit of gambling that permeates the women's clubs, the social clubs, and infests the towns with games and disreputable characters, owes something to the demoralization of war times.
The blockade runners brought over fresh supplies of cards which were generally plentiful in camp.
We were ordered to Richmond in July, 1861, which caused a great deal of joy and a stag dance. We marched through streets, thronged with people
cheering and waving handkerchiefs, just as the same Richmond did at the reunion in 1896. My company had more baggage then than the brigade had in 1863-4, but we began to lose "impedimenta" at this point. We went to Acquia Creek where the gun boats shelled us from afar, which caused a few Indians who had enlisted with us to desert. Thence we marched to Fairfax, C. H., in the sultry August days, a trial to the parlor soldiers.
A fine looking lieutenant of a north Georgia company had a heavy black mustache previous to this march, but before it ended, one side of his adornment was white as snow, because his hair dye was with the wagon train which took a different route. We spent the fall around Centerville, and built log huts, with no floors but the moist earth, daubed the cracks with mud and covered the huts with boards split out of very refractory oak.
We had rations and clothing in abundance, but the mud prevented exercise. Books were plentiful, and the folks at home kept us supplied with good things.
Here we saw the first miltary execution. Three of the Louisana Tigers were shot for insubordination, and our command was among those marched out to witness the sad scene.
We left quarters in March for Yorktown, and our real hardships began. Rations were often scarce and poor. Coffee had been issued to us, but now that failed, and from that time to the close of the war, only an occasional ration of coffee was given us as some blockade runner would bring a supply. The men first tried sassafras tea, but as a steady diet, it proved debilitating. Parched corn meal, potatoes
and other substitutes were tried for the remaining three years, but open air life made the men long for their coffee and the writer whilst scout, never failed to ransack wagons or knapsacks for coffee, and fared much better than the men in the line in this respect.
For the first year each company wore its own uniform, and some were of fine material, but now the factory jeans, the famous Confederate grey, became
a necessity, and our fine jackets were exchanged for long tailed frocks. We forgot these long tails when standing near the fire, and most of them got scorched, so that we had forked-tail coats, and learning wisdom by this experience mostly wore jackets afterwards. Sometimes the government would get a supply by blockade runners of fine English cloth and we would get good uniforms, almost too blue. I remember the Jenkins, S. C., brigade clad in these new uniforms, created a sensation when it appeared in Bragg's army in 1863, so blue did they appear in the distance and some of our scouts lost their lives by mistaken pickets. The writer was fired upon by his own friends more than once whilst trying to enter the picket line.
Salt was always scarce after the first year. Each man treasured a little in a box tied up in a rag in his haversack, but in damp weather, it frequently lost its savor, as well as its substance. I have tried gun powder as a substitute, but do not approve of it.
Cooking utensils were plentiful at first. After a time we were reduced to an oven and frying pan for each mess, and later to a skillet for each company. When the wagon drove up, each company had a man to claim its skillet, some being marked with a file, and frequently disputes as to ownership occurred. Some men would tie a frying pan or skillet to his knapsack, hence the famous expression, "tote his own skillet" so well known in one Alabama district. Halted for the night in a rain in the wet woods, one would wonder how he could light a fire. Soon a little glimmer appeared, when some man had obtained a little dried inner bark of a dead tree, cedar twigs or dry leaves, or a piece of newspaper,
the little flame was carefully fed with pieces of dead twigs until it became a fire, then a hundred hands bore away little torches of twigs to become the parent of other camp fires. Some would gather wood for the night, some take the canteens and get water, and with the cheerful blaze, would arise the shouts of laughter and the hum of conversation. The meal, if we had any, being over, the old campaigner would bathe his feet in cold water, rub the bottoms with tallow, if he could get it, and toast them before the fire in order to harden them for the next day's tramp. Then if it still rained, blankets, oil cloths, or little tent flies captured from the foe were stretched over poles, and the men would crawl under them and sleep better than the inmates of palaces. I have seen men who had lost their blankets sleeping on logs or fence rails by the fire, whilst snow was falling. Two men usually slept together, thus having a blanket under and one over them. When one's comrade was killed or went on picket, the other one had to fare as best he could. The night before eve charged Fort Sanders at Knoxville, was bitterly cold, and snow driven by a fierce wind fell at intervals. As we lay on the side of the rocky hill facing the fort, the shells fell among the rocks and made us wakeful. Just before day, I saw the captain and first lieutenant of the next company fighting. I ran down, and assisted by main force in separating them, but could not learn the cause of the quarrel, until we formed the line about break of day, when I was informed it was for "pulling cover" that is, the fellow on the windward side was angry because the other fellow got too much cover. But the men were and are yet, excellent gentlemen, and one lost
a leg in battle. In an hour after this little fracas, we had charged Fort Sanders and Longstreet lost 218 dead in the unavailing assault.
Whilst on the sea coast or camped near large streams, our facilities for bathing were good, but often the men had no means of getting a good bath. I have cut through ice four inches thick with an axe and bathed in Cub Run, and while in the trenches at Petersburg under incessant fire night and day, the only water we used came at night in canteens from a spring reached by a deep ditch. The spring still gushes forth its pure water, remembered only because it quenched our thirst and raved our faces and hands for it was used for no other purpose. On our last retreat, for five days, many of us never bathed our faces. We waded streams, but like Gideon's band, we never stopped and after the surrender, I gave the last money I had in the world to a Federal for some soft soap he had taken from some farm house.
Our laundry work was of the rudest. We had sixteen negro cooks in our company until rations got too scarce to divide with so many, and they were reduced to three. On forced marches these were sometimes captured, but always escaped and returned to us. We paid them to wash our clothes, but when they were absent, we had to do it ourselves. Only twice did I attempt the job. I waded out to the middle of a swift creek rubbed and dipped and finally beat the clothing with a rock, but was a failure as a laundryman. In preference I wore woolen underclothing even in summer, as many laborers do, and am not convinced that it is not as cool and healthy as cotton or linen. Few men and officers had an entire change of clothing or anything but a change
of underclothes. Knapsacks were abandoned by all but a few and the extra clothes were wrapped in a blanket; this was rolled up, the ends tied together and worn over the shoulder. On forced marches and desperate charges these were laid aside and often lost. I have seen thousands of federal knapsacks in line as their owners fled. The federal government furnished them with a new supply, ours could not.
Discipline, as it goes in the regular army, was not enforced after the first year. Officers and men
messed and slept together. I played whist in the captain's quarters for a long time. The first year we had candles, tallow dips, then we had Confederate candles, made by dipping a long wax wick until it was the size of a goose-quill. This was wound on a stick and sent to us, and by unwinding a foot of it, we had a candle that lasted until more was wound off. But in the gloom of approaching defeat in the winter of 1864-5, our people were too poor to furnish even this substitute. But the men built them a theater of logs with blankets and tent flies for drop curtains, and with these poor accessories, but with trained actors who were our comrades, got up some excellent performances.
The worst trial besides hunger was want of shoes. A near relative a sixteen-year-old boy, came with a different regiment to Virginia in the fall of '62. I visited him and found him barefooted. Mark Powell of Lowndes was guard over a prisoner to be tried by a court martial for desertion. Conveying his prisoner over the frosty ground to the house where he was to be tried, Colonel, afterwards Governor, O'Neil of Alabama, came in and returning the salute of the sentinel, asked how the man came to be barefooted. The reply was that the government had not supplied him and he had no money. Colonel O'Neil said, "Here Sentinel, take this money and get this man a pair of shoes. I'll be d----d if I can try a bare-footed man for his life this cold morning and do him justice." It is needless to say, the man was acquitted.
My shoes gave out at Second Manassas. I had a long walk before me to the hospital as I was wounded, and I took a pair off a dead foe. He did not
need them, and I did. On the march to Gettysburg I wore out three pairs in a month. The leather had been hurriedly tanned and the shoes came to pieces.
Before coming to the Tennessee army I had fortunately procured a pair of English army shoes, iron-heeled, with rows of iron and brass tacks. On a scouting expedition I captured a lot of horses and saddles, and from a saddle skirt a soldier cobbler half soled my shoes with maple pegs hardened in the camp fire. I paid him with the other skirt for the job.
The East Tennessee campaign was the hardest we ever had. Coarse corn meal was issued to us at
Chattanooga. It would hardly stick together when baked, and in a haversack in rainy weather it crumbled. Then little filmy threads like spider webs appeared in the bread. On the march to Knoxville we pushed the enemy hard, finding abandoned wagons, ammunition, etc., along the road, but no food. It was cold and a quick pursuit for a whole evening made us hungry, but we had not a mouthful to eat. Off before day the next morning, I picked up in the road a piece of cabbage stalk, which constituted my entire sustenance for thirty-six hours. I was so hungry that I felt like I had reverted to the original type of savage man, and would have stolen bread from a baby, if there had been bread and a baby to be found. The country had been harried by both armies, and the secession element had been run off, leaving a population very forbidding in appearance, and all the boys used to say that all east Tennessee lacked of being hell was a roof over it.
Birmingham has some excellent citizens who lived in that section but owing to their participation in the war, were not permitted to return there.
After the failure to take Knoxville, we marched northeast, fought a bitter little skirmish at Bean's Station, where I pulled up a fence post and in the darkness prized out of the frozen ground some Irish potatoes, my only food for that day. Crossing the Holston, we marched without food for a whole day in the bitter cold. Jim Dubose of my company, nephew to General Toombs, raided the corn which had been given to the headquarters horses. Another procured some of a fat hog which had been killed for trying to bite some soldier. I volunteered to make the corn into hominy with the aid of hickory ashes from our camp fire, the only luxury we had. It was
an all night job. I put too much ashes and the lye ate the skin off the corn. Before daylight I had fried the hominy with the fat pork, and woke up the company to a hearty meal, enough for all and it enabled us to make another day's march.
The winter of '63-4 at Morristown, Tenn., was peculiarly hard. We had no huts, rations were scant and poor, as were blankets, clothing and shoes We did not get a mail for three months. Plug tobacco could not be had, and "stingy green" the unpressed leaf raised in the surrounding country, was all we had, and very scarce. We could hear of the men who would leave the fire and go behind a tree to take a chew, being fearful they would be asked to divide. Making our way towards the Virginia line, we passed through the home of Andy Johnson, and the place where Morgan was killed. Camped near this place, three days rations were issued to us. A vote was taken whether we should cook and eat the whole at one meal or dole them out. I voted for the latter and was upbraided for my want of trust in Providence, and the majority being against us, we ate the whole at one meal, and did not have enough. That night we heard the whistle of a locomotive, the first in months. The bridge over the Holston had been repaired, a train came in, and before noon a large box with a huge side of bacon and a bushel of cow-peas crime to Tom Coleman from his father in Columbus, Ga. Big hearted Tom made it common property to the company, and what a feast we had! I trust Tom has his reward in the beyond.
especially whilst campaigning, but in camp we had letters pretty regularly. Paper was poor and hard to get, and we often got supplied from captured knapsacks. I noticed that southerners seldom carried their letters into battle. When moving into line in hearing of shells, one could see men tearing up precious missives from loved ones at home, and the way was littered for miles with the fragments. I am inclined to think this was also common to the better class of federal soldiers, as the letters found in their knapsacks, whilst numerous, I counted fifty-two in Asa Frear's at Savage station, indicated that the writers did not belong to the cultivated class, but the contrary.
Of course there was nothing wrong about taking property on the battle field but robbing the dead was never favored by most soldiers. Yet, strange to say, almost every corpse had his pockets turned out very soon after he fell. In the tumult of a charge and retreat and return, one would think that killing and victory would be the supreme thought of men, yet in a very few minutes after a charge and repulse, I have returned over the ground and saw where the robbers got in their work, and neither side seemed to have been exempt.
At Chickamauga near the pond, now drained, in front of the Kelly house, lay a federal breathing heavily, but insensible from a bullet in the head. We camped near him all night and the next morning I saw a dozen or more Confederates sitting like vultures over their expected feast. He had a gold watch chain plainly visible, and just as he was gasping his last, a man reached for it, took out the watch saying, "Well, I reckon he won't need this any more." The others had been waiting for the man to die.
A near relative in a northern prison wrote me that he was ragged and starving and to send him some money. Having none, I determined to get some on the next battle field, and took a pocketbook from a man headless by reason of a cannon shot, named John W. House, of Wheeling, W. Va. I wrote to his mother and sister according to a request found in the book, and sent the letter by flag of truce, but I devoted the money to the relative. This, and taking the shoes from a dead federal at Manassas, completed my experience in such matters. Those may condemn who will, but under the same circumstances, I would again act in the same way, and I believe they would.
At Fredericksburg, from the top of a hill, I saw the morning sun shining brightly over some hundreds of dead lying on the frozen ground and nearly all stripped of clothing taken by our men to ward off the cold.
To supply blankets, the people at home cut up their carpets, took the carpets from the churches and sent them to us. Under such covering I slept the winter of 62-3. One ingenious fellow having worn out his clothes, made himself an entire suit including a peak shaped hat or cap out of a flaming red carpet, with figures on it so large that it took his whole body to display one rose. When we left quarters it was snowing and our command waited by the roadside to allow his regiment to pass, and as he appeared against the white background, the shouts that went up attested the admiration for his genius. It took a brave man to stand the gibes hurled at him.
The suceeding winters we had no carpets and suffered much discomfort from want of blankets.
Next morning I wandered in the chilly rain looking at the dead and the debris of the battlefield. I was hungry and the smell of so much blood had made me sick. Approaching a party of wounded federals, who had on oil cloths, they were very polite, they had coffee and rations, but wounded in the legs, could get no water or fire. I had feet and one hand so I got wood and water, and around a cheerful fire, we had a hearty meal and friendly talk.
One, a polished Pennsylvania captain, with a crushed ankle, gave me his card and told me if ever a prisoner or in happier days a visitor to his state, to call on him. I parted with him with regret when the long line of white ambulances came from Washington for him, whilst I with ill-fitting shoes taken from a dead foe, turned in the opposite direction to trudge through the mud forty miles to Culpepper, and a hospital.
Our men generally treated prisoners well. I never permitted a harsh treatment of them in my presence,
nor did others to my knowledge. On two occasions I carried water to wounded federals under a heavy fire, and I have repeatedly seen others risk their lives to aid wounded foes.
Of course there were exceptions. On a scout I captured a German who could not speak a word of our language. When I took him to the others of my party, I heard the click of a gun hammer, and was just in time to throw up the rifle of a Texas scout. I had a sharp controversy with him, and afterwards learned that his brother's wife, with an infant of three weeks had been driven from her home in far away Missouri into the snow and without clothing by union men while they burned her house. She and the infant both died, and it was said the two brothers never took prisoners. He was one of the handsomest men I ever saw, and daring to rashness. I had to guard that prisoner, and shared my scant rations with him, and when nightfall came he had a hundred opportunities to escape, but each time I lost him among the wagon trains, he would find me with a glad cry. If he did not understand English he understood the gesture with the rifle of the Texan.
I have captured many of these creatures whilst alone on a scout. Tempted by the huge bounty, they were gathered by the thousands in foreign countries and drilled on their way over, even in the harbor of Liverpool, and had no heart in the war, but they could defend breatworks, and hold forts. Two of us captured a picket post of fifteen men, killing one, only one, and he a Canadian, could speak a word of English. If Stonewall Jackson's plan for raising the black flag had been followed, these creatures would not have crowded the union armies. I saw a
provost guard take $400 bounty greenbacks from one of these men. Many of these cattle surrendered on slight provocation, or deserted to lie in Confederate prisons, where by eating our rations, they served more effectually than with arms, and now most of them draw pensions and glory in the flag.
The northerners managed to make money out of every war, including the Spanish, except the war of 1812 when the New Englanders tried to secede, but the histories say that patriotism urged them on in 1861-5, when the fact is that large bounties and bonds mostly sustained the fight.
of 120 feet in length. Our supper was light bread, "wasp nest" we called it, and sorghum syrup, and about one-eighth enough. I have gone in, spread myself before two plates set one over the other, hid one piece of bread in my jacket, and ate both rations, then getting up and walking further down, been hustled into a seat by the sergeant and repeated the performance. The surgeon refused a furlough but through Vice-President Alex Stephens, I got one and went home for sixty days. Reporting on my return I found that the men, incensed because the surgeon, using all the delacacies sent for the sick and giving wine parties with these things, had waylaid him one night as he came out of the house where he had given a wine supper, and nearly killed him with brickbats. This was the extent of my hospital experience. Once in 1863 I went to surgeon's call with a sharp pain in my side betokening pneumonia. The man in front reported the same symptoms. We were ordered to march, as the surgeon said the ambulances were full and we had to march in the driving snow. Before noon the man who reported sick in front of me, gave one gasp, fell in the snow and was dead. At 3 P. M. we waded an ice laden stream 150 yards wide and it seemed as if I had turned to ice. Going into the wet woods to camp, the boys said I would die, and got me into a barn, spread our wet blankets on the clover, one getting on each side of me and covering me with other wet blankets. I awoke next morning well and since that day have had faith in the efficiency of a "wet pack."
Many were the expedients used to get out of reach of bullets by the "malingerers' or shirkers of duty. Some shot themselves, but the powder blown into the flesh revealed the author of the wound. All sorts
of diseases were simulated and complained of. The most ingenious was invented by a man who bound a piece of plug tabacco under his arm until he was as yellow as gold, including the whites of his eyes. The doctors recommended his discharge because he was in the last stages of something very bad they knew not what, but I suppose they called it heart failure, not having any other name.
Now and then the doctors would make a raid on the hospital and drive back crowds of these "play outs" but that sort of a man never makes a good soldier, though he may defend breastworks, as almost any animal will fight in self-defense.
I had two furloughs on account of wounds, one so it said for gallantry, one to have some dental work done, and one for a day whilst an route to Chickamauga. Of course, much was made of the returned soldier, who feasted on good things, and was a kind of hero. I did not envy the lot of the few young men who stayed at home under one plea or another. The girls did not fail on every occasion to let them know their opinion of a "stay at home," and surely I would have preferred the fire of the enemy to the scorn of the girls.
Captain Tom Chaffin of Columbus, Gal, never had a furlough, never swore an oath, never was in the hospital, and never received a wound, though he had the seams on both sides just below his pockets cut out at Chickamauga, and his sword belt was shot off, and his canteen punctured on other occasions. In a fight he always got a gun, and if coolness accounted for anything, he did execution. The friendly post oak which sheltered us at Chickamauga, was just his size then, but it is larger now. Nearly every soldier
got one or more wounds. I was hit seven times, but only three of them disabled me for more than a few minutes.
Some years ago I sat on a dummy car in Birmingham, with six others, all of whom had been wounded more than once, and three of them five times. Two were wearing minnie bullets in their muscles.
There were a few soldiers who never were in a hospital, never had a furlough, received a wound or shirked a fight.
At first each regiment had a chaplain but after a time there was not enough to go round. Some of the devoted men were very attentive to the sick and wounded and preached occasionally. It took a devoted man to be patient in constant hearing of the profanity, ribaldry and general deviltry of camp life, but those who were patient, kind and loving to the men, had their rewards in the affection and respect of the soldiers. Sometimes we could hear of great revivals in other parts of the army, but I never saw one in Hood's division. I think men got to lean towards fatalism after awhile. We could stand on the field looking down into the peaceful, sometimes smiling, faces of dead comrades, so full of life an hour before, and around us, not a tree or a twig the size of of a pencil but cut or barked by bullets, and yet we had charged and fought and stood at this very spot for minutes or hours.
We could but wonder why we were left and the others taken, and some argued like the Mohammedans, "It is kismet, it is fate."
Nevertheless, most of these same men who returned home became pillars in the church, some ministers. One of the most daring of Longstreet's scouts,
profane and ribald of speech, unable to write his name then, is now a useful and respected minister of the gospel. He belonged to the gallant Fifteenth Alabama of glorious memory.
It also happened that the war was fought during the transition stage from the smooth bore musket which carried 100 yards to the Enfield rifle, which was dangerous at 1000, and even more, and the repeating rifle was also used by the federals. Few of our Generals except Wilcox and Rhodes had the genius to meet the situation.
These organized corps of sharp-shooters drilled by bugle to advance or retreat, rally or charge and to take advantage of trees, rocks or the conformation of the ground, and drawn out in a thin skirmish line, frequently drove solid lines of battle before them, and now all the armies of the great powers copy the tactics of those two great Alabama soldiers.
After we were put in position, the officers never interfered with the men to any great extent, and the men knew what to do, and generally did it. I have seen a little pale sergeant, after the enemy's charge was repulsed, leap over the works and cry: "Charge 'em boys," and the whole line went with a rush that was irresistable. One of my regiment was, by court martial, convicted of stealing some fish hooks and lines, and he was a disgraced man. In the first battle afterwards, at the command to charge, he took his hat in one hand, and his gun in the other, being very fleet and yelling like an Indian. After that, he was welcome to every camp-fire, and to a "chew" of tobacco from every man.
The winter of '64-5 was very sad. We did not get enough to eat once a month. The men grew gaunt and thin. Clothing and blankets were tattered. Fuel was scarce, and we cut the green loblolly pine for our fires. We were on the Darbytown road, five miles from Richmond, and had about one man to every 8 yards as a guard for the line of fifty-five miles in length, the whole army numbering about 45,000 whilst 120,000 confronted us, superbly armed, clothed and fed with abundance.
Sherman's army had laid waste in Georgia and North Alabama, and letters came telling how the loved ones at home, the helpless women and children, were starving. The fire in the rear caused many a good man to go home never to return. In whispers, with a tried and faithful few, we would discuss our inability to hold so long a line, and supposed and determined that when the grand final came, we of Lee's army would go down like Napoleon at Waterloo, in a blaze of glory, not forseeing that starvation
on the last retreat would so cripple the army, that although Hood's division was nearly intact, yet only 13,000 would be left to lay down their arms. The last scene at Appomattox is imprinted on my memory. The tears, the oaths, the hysterical, insane laughter, the breaking of guns, swords, the prayer for death from men who had toiled and sweated, starved and bled for a cause they loved better than life.
Most of us anticipated then that the negro would be placed to rule over us, but we did not foresee the exceeding sordid malice and attempted humiliation with which it would be brought about, nor did we foresee the deviltry by which money would be wrung out of the south by the despicable carpet-baggers, who were the agents of the victors.
To my mind the greatest battle the Confederate soldiers ever fought was not on bloody fields, but in his desolated home, when for years he maintained the supremacy of his race against the sordid politicians, the fanatics and the credulous victors of the north, who sought, whilst robbing him, to degrade him, as well as themselves, by injecting into our political system four millions of a race not prepared for the experiment.
The Confederate was reared in the belief that John Brown, who sought to murder at midnight women and children, was an assassin like Guitteau. The northern men agreed with us that the latter was an assassin but worship the memory of the former as a saint, mostly because he wanted to harm only Southerners. They were reared that way, or to use an expression applied to the president, they are built that way and cannot help it.
We have long been accustomed to thinking that a
man who believes the negro is equal to himself, is the best judge of the matter, and it is best to accept the situation, but meanwhile keep our own doorsteps clean as did they in the happy days of Jerusalem.
The terrors of misrule, reconstruction, the long years of negro domination, and the worse rule of thieving carpet-baggers, did not shake the stern soul of the Confederate. Not one in a thousand deserted his race or forsook the faith of his forefathers, and now he sees the fruit of his labors, and his faith in states redeemed and independent, and communities careless of the opinions of the worshippers of an inferior race. If America is saved from the fate of San Domingo and Jamaica, the salvation came by the courage, faith and persistence of the Confederate soldier and southern women.
We did not often get good bread in camp. In winter quarters '61-2, we took it by turns to cook a week at a time, and we often had light rolls, obtaining yeast from some neighboring house and "raising" the bread by the fire in our stick and mud chimneys. Afterwards on occasions we cooked biscuits with the aid of soda and grease fried out of bacon. When ovens or skillets were scarce we often had to wait our turn. After a time we got only poor beef and flour, and our bread was poor indeed.
In the spring the men would strip the bark off a
hickory or poplar and make a beautiful tray in which to knead the flour into dough. But these luxuries were not always accessible, and I have seen the commissary wagon drive up in dark wet woods, after a hard day's march, and the flour for a whole company would be dumped on an oil cloth or a blanket. Then with cold water we would mix the flour, often without salt, on an oil cloth, and bake in ovens, skillets or frying pans; or if these were not available, then a string of dough would be wrapped around a ramrod and held to the fire, turning often until it was baked, or partially baked. The only meal we had in the five days preceding Appomattox was cooked in this manner from flour brought in by a haggard, weary man after a severe skirmish on a scouting expedition. But he does not remember that a couple of drinks of "apple jack" taken with Fitzhugh Lee, helped him to carry the load to his famished comrades. General Scott said that the frying pan killed more soldiers than Mexican bullets, but we seemed to be proof against its bad effects, or perhaps our rations were so scant that we could have devoured the food raw and been none the worse for it. Corn meal was harder to manage than flour. In a newly built fire on the damp earth, we could not bake an ash cake, nor could we cook corn bread on ramrods, so we had to take our turn waiting for the skillet. We preferred bacon to beef, because we could eat the former raw and had little trouble in preparing it; it afforded more strength and fortified us against the cold. Sometimes the beef was so wretchedly poor that it was hard for even a hungry man to eat it. We would chop it up bones and all and set it by the fire to simmer all night, and then parch some flour in the frying pan to make gravy
and get a good meal out of very poor material. If the men got enough to eat there was always merriment, shouts and laughter, but if rations failed the men were sullen and gloomy.
Hence young wives are always advised by mothers to see that the breadwinner is well fed, if he is expected to stay in a good humor.
I feel positive that Hood's old division did not get one-half, and much of the time one third, enough to eat for the last three months of the war, whilst we were within five miles of Richmond. Men can stand a hungry spell for a short while, but long starvation will sap the strength of any army. Our men grew gaunt, lean and haggard. Only now and then would a scouting trip result in anything that could be converted into Confederate money, and the writer would get off to Richmond for a day. If he visited the famous "hole in the wall" and got a measured glass of applejack it cost $5. A dinner at the Powhattan Exchange or American cost $10, with a $2 tip to the waiter for an extra dish or two. Then he had a nap on the grass in the noble capitol square free, and a ticket to the new theatre $10 more. Supper was not to be counted in to a man who had a dinner that day. After the theater a five miles tramp to the lines, to creep between blankets that had seen long service, and this made a red letter day long to be remembered, and not one man in five hundred had this chance to enjoy one day's surfeit in a year.
It was against military rules to sell liquor in a camp or cities like Richmond under martial law.
In the early days of the war men would bring liquor into camp in their gun barrels, a convenient stopper being inserted in the muzzle. Then an innocent
looking countryman would dirve his little wagon in with vegetables and a keg of butter, in which was concealed a keg of apple brandy. The sentries soon broke up this game, and then men would come in with canteens concealed under their coats, but the occasions when men could drink were few and far between. Early in 1863 during a hard snow, General Hood rode to each camp fire, spoke a few words and told us we would get some whisky and sugar soon. It came, and such a glorious stew we had, that when I awoke the next morning, the piece of church carpet covering me was so laden with snow that I could hardly turn over. One morning we started for Richmond in a driving snow which got to be eighteen inches deep, and only four paths could be seen for the twenty-five miles as we made our way in ranks without a halt. About 3 P. M. Sunday, with bands playing, we plowed our way through Franklin street, the fashionable avenue of the city. Our hats, beards, shoulders, blankets, every vantage of rest was piled with snow, and the citizens, then at dinner, rushed to the doors and windows, some crying and exclaiming. Soon those dinner tables were cleared of everything, and pitchers of coffee, tea, brandy and all the eatables were distributed among those grim looking veterans. 'Twould make the fame of a painter could he portray that scene as it is imprinted on memory now, but how few of these gallant spirits are left to recall the snow, the tears of the beautiful women, the anxious faces of the gray haired men, and the wild burst of music from the most famous band of Hood's division as it echoed from the stately residences on the finest street of Richmond, dear Richmond on the James! It was
five miles further to camp, and not over one third of my company got there that night. When the excitement of the music gave way, one became weak, and many times I had to rest before we got to the snowy plain where we halted. We cleared away a space, throwing the snow on the windward side, and unable from sheer fatigue to stretch a tent, built a fire and again came rations of whisky and sugar for the whole company, which those present appropriated, and again the stew made us sleep like the righteous.
We read of the groans and cries of the wounded in battle, but in reality I heard little of the sort. Most of the dumb animals when stricken (your dog for instance) may cry out with pain, but if badly hurt they go off to some secluded place and are quiet. It
is so with man. Occasionally one heard a cry of pain, but usually these were reserved until fever and delirium set in at the hospital. In the tumult of the charge one could hear but little, except the roar of cannon, musketry, shouts and cheers. In breastworks I have seen men shot down by sharp shooters, and there was maybe a groan and a lifeless lump of clay instead of a comrade full of life and vigor. I have studied the faces of friends dead on the field a few minutes, or hours after they fell, and without exception they wore a peaceful smile or an expression of repose, from which so far as one can see, it must be better to leave the world suddenly than to linger in agony until suffering imprints its heavy lines on the features. But there was one sort of suffering that appalled the stoutest. At Spottsylvania a federal was shot through the stomach and lay between the lines for two days, groaning and begging for water. His comrades kept up an incessant fire and did not allow us to aid him. At last, some of our men with extreme risk crawled out and brought him over to our works. Mortification had set in, and he was as dark as an African. He was given a drink of water and died in a minute afterwards. This is only one instance out of many that came under my observation and I knew men who carried in their pockets a lump of crude opium with the resolve that should like fate be theirs they would end life more painlessly.
The writer knows a soldier, whose leg, near the ankle, was shattered by a bullet at Gaines' Mill. He lay three days where he fell, and got a piece of wood, which with his knife he cut into splinters, and stuck them in the ground around his leg as a setting. I have seen him since in full run on a deer hunt. Joe
Bethune returning after his wound at Chickamauga, accidentally shot himself in the knee joint with a self-cocking pistol, then very uncommon. When I went to see him, the blood and oil from the joint were slowly oozing from the wound, and he was gathering handfuls of snow and applying it to the hurt.
Expressing my sorrow, the big brave fellow burst into a boo-hoo of crying, and between sobs: "I wouldn't mind it, but the d----d playouts at home will say I shot myself to keep out of the war." He used the same pistol to keep the surgeons from amputating his leg, and now walks with an almost imperceptible limp. He is now a judge of United States Court in California. The oldest lawyer in this city lay on the ground with a bullet in his groin for days, and a comrade has cut "WARD" on the big boulder where he got the wound at Gettysburg, the first monument to a Southerner on that field. He relates that whilst in the hospital near the town, good women ministering to all, expressed great surprise because they never heard a complaint or groan from his people, whilst their people were just the opposite. It may be that the Confederates did not expect much, or perhaps being mostly from the farms, like the Indians, they were stoical.
On the other hand, a man came to our regiment, who said that he knew a wound would kill him. At second Manassas a bullet took from one finger a piece about as large as a grain of corn, and the man died in a few days. The pluck in a man made the difference, when the wound was not necessarily fatal. Jim Johnson lay with a bullet through his lungs at Petersburg until the surgeons had finished with
the other wounded, and then five of the wise gathered about him, and four of them bet the other a gallon of whiskey that he would die. Jim lived to help drink the whisky, and is yet an excellent citizen.
Girard Cook of Lowndes, now over the river, related that at Fredericksburg he lay with a bullet through his lungs on the frozen ground from sundown until midnight. The last searchers had abandoned their quest, but finally he saw the dim light of a lantern which finally approached. He could only utter faint groans, and after a time Colonel afterwards Governor, O'Neil, came up to him, gave him from his canteen a stimulant, and remained till help to bear him off was procured. No wonder that O'Neil could not be defeated before the people.
Many sad scenes we saw, but the most pitiful of all were the boys, those of fourteen and fifteen years, as they lay dead on the field. We had carried their guns on the. march, petted them in rough soldier fashion, and lightened the burdens of the little heroes.
It was pathetic, too, to hear in the still hours of the night the screams of horses with one or more legs shattered by cannon shot. Other wounds they bore in silence, but the effort to stand on shivered bones was more than the poor creatures could bear. At Dandridge, Tenn., the Eighth Texas cavalry had charged up a steep hill, the surface of the frozen ground being melted by the sunshine. Their horses had broken through the frozen crust underneath the surface and many strewed the ground and in an upright position, their legs buried in the mud. But their masters took the fence rail breastworks, and
left their four-footed servants, mute monuments of their obedience even unto death.
One cannot transfer to these lines the gibes and jests, the humor and the fun that enlivened these dark scenes. One busied himself all day making a parody of some poetry captured in the last battle, and late one evening as we were trudging through the mud and rain, gloomy, tired, hungry and sullen, some one suddenly broke out in a stentorian voice:
this d----d old war is over,
And we go marching home again."
The gloom was gone and the soldiers laughed again. And in the line of battle, when the shells and bullets seemed to be just scraping our backs as we lay flat on the ground, one sang out: "I wish I was a baby and a gal baby, too, so I wouldn't have to go to war." The nervous tension was gone, and that fellow inspired the regiment in the charge which followed. There were some men whose spirits were irrepressible. They were the life of the camp and march and they now go to all the circus, minstrels and other shows, whilst others who heard 400 cannons thunder at Gettysburg saw the panorama of second Manassas, the slaughter of Malvern Hill and the plunging fire at Fredericksburg, can hardly keep awake in front of painted actors and painted scenery that stir not the blood as did the shouts of victory in the days of old. But the others get the most out of life, as did the Roman who said: "Whilst we live, let us live."
I love to go to the reunions, not as a delegate, for that is dull, but as a free lance, to approach and grasp the hands of any man wearing a badge, to
hear his hearty "God bless you" to see the cheerful faces, and hear them tell of their lot since the war. At Memphis, one man said: "I landed in Texas with my wife after the war with just three copper cents, and I've got 'em yet." "Is that all you've got?" I asked. "No, I have five plantations, have raised six children, my girls are well married, and me and the best wife in the world have a good bank account and have plenty of friends."
The tales one hears would fill a volume, and most of them tell of the rewards of patience, fortitude and courage instilled by experience in the war
The youngster in search of a new sensation at the cheap theater or card party has never had the depths of his heart proved, and the great fountain of memory stirred like these comrades of old, when they meet after the lapse of so many years.
We built a great many miles of breastworks during the war. From Winchester to Petersburg, Virginia is criss-crossed with lines of earthworks, some of which are still perfect, and will be for a century
to come. The huge first and second lines around Richmond were built by slaves in 1862, and behind a salient in the outer line we resisted the only charge ever made against us behind works. No doubt they protected us against attempts to charge and against sharpshooters very often, but it was our luck to have to charge the enemy in every instance but one, that I can now recall. Grant nearly succeeded in capturing Petersburg in June, 1864, and about midnight after a hard march, we lay down to sleep in an old field east of the city. With the dawn, came the sound of musketry and the whiz of bullets, and we woke to find ourselves in a bare field exposed to fire from works at short range, although in front of us was a line of our men covered by works too low to protect us. I took a bayonet for a pick, and a tin cup for a spade and commenced burrowing, throwing up the dirt in front. Billy Redd, our adjutant, assisted me, and soon all the line were working like beavers. We lost several men before we could protect ourselves. To stand up, was almost sure and instant death, so our work was done lying down. Frequently after a hasty march we were ordered to build breastworks, and it was astonishing how quickly without spades we could protect ourselves. The enemy outnumbered us toward the close of the war so greatly that he could overlap us on both flanks, and then outnumber us at any point. But he was dilligent in burrowing as we, and when Petersburg fell, there were over forty-five miles of double line of fortification extending from the north to Richmond across two rivers to a long distance south and west of Petersburg, and this does not take into account the numerous double lines, the forts and deserted useless works.
Grant would fortify with the heaviest kind of earthworks, replace every man we killed by a foreigner and move around the end of our line with real American troops and fortify again. This is why we, on the Richmond side of the James, were so scattered that each man defended eight yards of the line until Grant outflanked us forty-five miles away at Five Forks. General Lee, reporting to the secretary of war in February, 1865, said his men had been fighting in sleet and rain without meat for three days, and his Calvary was dispersed in search of forage.
As early as February 21, 1865, General Lee reported that he was accumulating supplies in the line of his proposed retreat which did not commence until April 2, but many of us before that had discussed around our camp fires the impossibility of holding Richmond against four to one who had fortified themselves and kept building breastworks towards the only railroad that brought us the scant food we got. One may well say that Grant's spades did more to take Richmond than did his guns. We had not the men to spare for charging forty miles of works, nor could we take any one part without stripping our own line of its defenders. One not familiar with these lines will never understand how much labor they cost. Near the crater there was a front line with broad ditch for fighting. In the rear of this another line for bringing in relief, provisions, and carrying out the dead and wounded. Then there were numerous cross ditches and banks of earth called traverses, perpendicular to the main line to prevent enfialde fire. Although not required of me, for over a month I took part in defense of this line. I would be roused up, take a gun fire every minute
or two in the darkness toward the enemy about 100 yards distant, this to prevent them from forming a line for attack. At the end of two hours I would wake up the next man, lie down in the ditch, and my relief would stand with one foot on each side of my head and fire in the same way till the turn of the next man came. This sort of firing did not prevent us from sleeping soundly, but when they played sky-ball with 100-pouder mortar shells we were wide awake at once. Undertaking to dodge one sleek, black shell that appeared to be dropping directly on us from the sky one day, my chin came in contact wth Prince Anderson's head, and both of us were knocked down just as the shell exploded burying a piece weighing at least twenty pounds in the hard clay within a foot of us. Each of us believed for an instant that we were wounded by the shell. One of these shells fell among some Virginia artillerymen engaged in a game of poker within a few yards of us and killed nine. I did not like fighting in breastworks, but in the open where one can look his enemy in the eyes as I have done at less than two paces, one can feel that his manhood is worth something.
A. B. Vandergrift of this city tells something unique in the way of fighting. At Rocky Face Ridge his regiment occupied the top of a perpendicular ledge overhanging a steep hill covered with large trees. His command rolled many huge rocks to the edge of the precipice, and when the advancing enemy had got about two-thirds the way up the mountain, an avalanche of great boulders was discharged over the ledge to go bounding, crashing and thundering among the astonished federals. Oak trees two feet in diameter were cut down as if they were grass. The discomfitted foe fled with all haste and
for an hour the valley below could be heard their curses, the burden of which was: "D--n you, that is no fair way to fight."
One morning before day, six of us went out and lay in the ditch of an old set of works on the Darbytown road, where Kautz's calvary picketed during the day, withdrawing at night. We knew that twenty-four cavalrymen armed with Sharp's carbines and pistols came to that point every morning leaving three of the number as videttes. But on this particular morning it was horribly cold, and the officer in charge must have been a good sort of fellow as he let the men scatter in their various posts, and only three came directly to us, and they were in a sort of Indian file. They first stopped, one with his horse's head within six feet of us as we lay in the ditch. Being in charge, I sprang up with the others, and with levelled guns ordered him to surrender. He said, "By God, I'll do it." and came to the ground at once. The others turned and galloped off. In the firing that ensued, one of them was shot through and died that day in his camp. We went there to meet four to one, not expecting the officer in command to allow his men to scatter, which had never been done before within our knowledge. The cavalry were very bitter about it, and stuck notices on the trees that they would not spare the scouts if they caught us, and if we took prisoners they always made it a burden of complaint. Whilst we regretted shooting the man as he fled, and that there were only three instead of twenty-four, I can not see how one could be surprised at the event.
The Calvary horses were very intelligent. They could discover one's approach at night long before their masters. One night John Lindsay and I
crawled through an open field, the thin ice breaking under us, to capture a vidette stationed near a cedar. Against the dim starlit sky we could see the dark outline of the horse and rider, the latter with the cape of his overcoat over his head and evidently fast; asleep. The horse was restless and moved his head up and down to inform his master of danger. We got within fifteen paces and Lindsay wanted to shoot but I restrained him, and we called out, "Surrender!" Suddenly his horse wheeled off in a gallop. We fired into the darkness, but never got our man. Cavalrymen have often told me that they depended on their horses for warning them of the approach of danger at night. I used to wonder what time horses got for sleep. One might pass hundreds in an artillery or cavalry camp at almost any hour, and they would be eating, stamping, or showing some signs of wakefulness, but I discovered that about an hour before day they were generally quiet, some resting on three legs, the toe of the other foot just touching the ground, and cavalrymen told me they were sleeping in this position. I have slept walking, but never could sleep standing. One's knees give way, but a horse seems to be better gifted in this respect.
Kautz's cavalry were good fighters. Sometimes when we stepped out of a thicket and demanded surrender, a picket would raise his carbine and fire, and he would have to be killed. We were ordered now and then to take a prisoner in order to get information, and if the unfortunate fellow selected would not surrender it was kill or be killed. Keenan of the Fifteenth Alabama got two holes shot through the slack of his pants trying to capture a vidette, and though brave as Caesar, had to run for it, as the
fellow had a repeating carbine. Sometimes they were very polite and have shaken their canteens at me as I passed on a scout.
On picket below Fredericksburg we would rig up a board with sails and rudder and send over tobacco in exchange for coffee and newspapers. Above the city Wilcox's men would wade out to the middle of the river and make exchanges. It is related that three yankees were having a good chat this way one time and their line being relieved they were reported as deserters and sentenced to be shot, but Loncoln set aside the sentence of the court martial.
On the right at Petersburg men would fire front their picket holes for hours, when some man world shout in a loud voice, "Rest!" Then both sides would get out of their holes, walk around, talk, exchange papers or tobacco, and the firing of a gun in the air would be the signal for them to disappear and the work of murder would again commence.
It is hard to believe that brave and seemingly clever men like these would afterwards use the negro and the worse carpetbagger to rob and oppress the south. Perhaps the politician, the stay at home, and the settlers outvoted them and the soldiers could not stay the hand of the thieving crew. There never seemed to be much opposition to misrule in the south till every state government was bankrupt, the cities and counties in the same condition and the bad crops of '73 made the farmers insolvent. Then it was that New York and even Massachusetts found they could not sell their goods to bankrupt people, and in 1874, both states elected a majority of conservative congressmen and the way was paved for the withdrawal of the troops from the south, and the tramp of
soldiers was no longer heard in legislative halls. The northerners have a keen eye to the main chance, which in this case meant money, and the darkey is not so dear to him when cash does not follow that sort of philanthrophy.
But the Confederate has known all the time that there were honest, well meaning people in the north, but their voices could not be heard above the noisy clamor of greed and hate. As part of history of the times, I must give an instance or two. One fairly intelligent man for a Yankee came south to raise cotton when it was forty cents a pound, educate the poor, ignorant southerners in farming and incidentally make a little money for himself. After his cotton blossomed out and began to fruit, he wrote a little country paper in his far northern birthplace that he had discovered one important fact about cotton which the southerners did not know, viz: that a white cotton bloom never yielded fruit, but was useless. Every southern boy knew that a cotton bloom is white the first day it opens, has little red veins at sun down, and is red the next day, but the sublime superiority of this man never led him to ask the small darkey about this little fragment of botany.
his slaves all their lives. Roebuck was a good Christian, if men are ever such, but honestly believed that the only difference between a white man and a negro was in the color of their skins, wherein we all know he was about as far from the truth as the other "God and morality" man was about the cotton blooms. But Roebuck came down to shed the light of the gospel on poor benighted freedmen and southern whites, teach them religion by example, and incidentally make a little money by farming. McCall agreed to stay with him a few months and assist as far as he was able, in showing the new settler how to farm.
Roebuck, from the start called his tenants Brother Sam and Sister Susan, etc., and had prayer meeting every night, and the darkey brothers and sisters did their full share in praying. They went on beautifully and Roebuck was reaping the reward of his devotion to the colored brother, until finally when spring plowing got under way, he noticed that his mules were gaunt and poor, although bountifully fed. When he complained, Brother McCall told him to watch the big trough after the mules were fed at night. He did so, and came with a woefully injured air and said, "Brother McCall, what do you think? I found Brother Sam stealing corn from my poor mules." Brother McCall, who had known such things for forty years, only said, "You don't say so?" Shortly afterwards he became downcast and heaving deep sighs with the tale that Sister Susan was not as chaste as Diana of old. Brother McCall said "you don't say so?" Thus, because Roebuck, good honest Christian as he was, already knew so much more than McCall, the latter let him find out things for himself. He farmed the year through and the
darkeys stole his corn and cotton from the fields at night, so that the old man lost money, and worse than all, lost faith in his ability to change the leopard's spots, so that he sold out and went back to Ohio a wiser and sadder man.
Secretary Root said in his speech to the Union League that negro suffrage was a failure, and when he read it Brother McCall, no doubt, exclaimed, "You don't say so?" When on his dying bed Roosevelt shall confess that he could not make the Mississippi river run up hill, nor enforce negro social equality in the south, Brother McCall's ghost will groan, "You don't say so?" Profound ignorance, not innate cussedness is at the bottom of many prejudices. No doubt, we have ours, but we do not try to force them on others, but let them alone.
So it is that very good people a thousand miles away know so much better than we how to manage the inferior race. The fathers resolved that the earth belonged to the saints, and forthwith took their muskets and shot the Indians in order to rob them of their land, and the poor Indian still gets the worst of every bargain. But when other people are not altogether angels in dealing with an inferior race suddenly given the ballot, under new and untried conditions, their malevolence knows no bounds and the southerner is pictured as the worst of beings. I am very high tempered, but have never struck a negro, nor have I seen half a dozen struck since the war by whites, though for a long time I lived where they outnumbered the whites five to one.
By confronting Lee's army with a force double its own, fortified behind breastworks, and detaching a force to threaten our right flank, Grant had advanced crabwise, with a loss of 40,000 to the ground occupied by McClellan without a struggle, and on June 9, 1864, the terrible slaughter of second Cold Harbor had taken place. We lay in a wheat field behind earthworks, the enemy's pickets being about 500 yards in front in the edge of the moods, which, just to the left, abruptly terminated so that two sides of the woods were surrounded by the wheat, then a few inches high.
Shortly after daybreak, one of the pickets came running into camp calling to me, stated that the enemy had retreated in the night, and there was a force just in front of us which had captured John Moore of the Buena Vista guard, a little fellow who always wore in his hat a buck tail, captured from the famous Pennsylvania regiment. The picket was excited and insisted that I ought to go and recapture Moore.
I had done a little amateur scouting, and had also been detailed for that duty on a few occasions, and without giving much thought to the consequence, with the hope of some fresh excitement, I got an Enfield rifle, and failing to find Colonel Shepherd, obtained permission from Captain Chaffin, who was second in command, and set out. Reaching our pickets, I found them much excited. The picket line of the enemy where it appeared in the field was deserted, but in front was a post whose numbers were unknown, and the woods prevented us from seeing the line on the right. Dave Moreland of the second Georgia volunteered with the commander's
permission to accompany me, and we set out to the left, going aroung the angle of the woods and passing through the enemy's deserted picket line. After we had passed the deserted picket pits some 40 paces being about 80 yards from the woods, we heard to our right and rear shouts of "Halt! Surrender!" Looking back we saw a number of bluecoats with their guns leveled at us. Some of them got behind trees and some got on the reverse side of their little breastworks, while the rest stood squarely up, and pointing their guns at us, commanded us to come in.
To say the least of it, the situation was appalling. I had made up my mind never to surrender, and as this was a kind of volunteer task on my part, with our pickets, whom I had left in plain view, I could not think of giving up. The scanty wheat was not high enough to afford a cover if I lay down, and any attempt to retreat would only bring a storm of bullets, with death as the sure result.
All these things flashed over me, and I decided that the only thing possible to be done was to bluff the enemy and fight as a last resort. So I spoke to Moreland to advance with me against the blue coats, and facing about, we began to move toward them, telling them to lay down their arms or they would all be killed. It seemed to be the most difficult walking I ever did. Moreland, stooping down, kept at my side with gun in position, and I halooed myself hoarse ordering our adversaries to surrender. I ordered Moreland not to shoot, for I believed it would draw their fire on us, in which case we would have no chance. As we neared them there seemed to be, great commotion among them, some running from one tree to another, but some stood up facing us all
the while. A tall, heavy built Canadian seemed to be the leader, and he swore many vigorous oaths at us, while he kept ordering us to throw down our guns; I saw he was the man most to be dreaded. The rest moved about and seemed undecided, but this man never wavered; keeping his eye on us along his leveled gun, he continually declared he would shoot if we did not surrender, and I vociferated as loudly that he would be killed if he did not give up. When we approached within about twenty paces of the crowd, it seemed matters were at a crisis. I have an indistinct recollection, that I felt myself on the verge of an awful precipice, that a moment more and I would meet death, and eternity would be revealed In such moments men live fast and ideas flit past with lightning-like rapidity.
we had thrown the captured arms into a pile, and had our feet on them. I felt like a man who had been rescued from drowning. The joy of victory was nothing; the escape from death was the only thought. We took fourteen men back to camp, and left one dead. Moreland had shot him through the waist belt, and the poor man's cries and moans had demoralized his comrades more than our appearance.
It turned out that during the heavy rain storm of the previous night, the pickets had been freely supplied with liquor, had been ordered to retreat, but by mistake or the effects of the liquor, the order had never reached this post of seventeen men under the command of the Canadian. So that when morning came he found his little party isolated. He had sent off two of his men with Moore after his capture, and like a faithful soldier, was still holding his post when we came up. His men were all ignorant Germans, probably confused by the effects of the liquor and their lonely situation. Had they been as brave as the Canadian, this tale would not have been written, and my life would have been the price of my folly. I do not think I ever felt fear to the same extent, before or since, as on that occasion, and the conviction that I had caused Moreland to be in such unnecessary peril made it all the worse.
John Moore was retaken in a few minutes, and came back looking very foolish. Of course many of our pickets saw the affair, and when Dave Moreland and I returned in triumph, each carrying a load of muskets and guarding our fourteen prisoners, our comrades crowded around us. To them the practical results were that two men had surrounded and overcome fifteen of the enemy. Instead of being punished
for my folly I was complimented and a few days after this General Longstreet detailed me as a Scout.
After turning our prisoners over to the provost guard, and getting breakfast, I was ordered to follow Grant's army, while our own moved towards the James river.
Falling in with some Texas scouts, we followed the Federals several miles until we became very weary. While resting near the intersection of two country roads, I saw through the bushes a blue uniform and going toward the wearer ordered him to surrender. He threw down his gun and held up his hands, and I told him to come to me. On getting back to my companions, I turned to ask him a question and found he could not speak a word of English. Directly I heard the click of a rifle behind me, and one of the Texans, with an oath, told me to stand aside. I turned and beheld him with his cocked rifle leveled at the breast of the miserable brute I had just captured. I had some sharp words with the Texan before I could make him desist from his intention to shoot the prisoner, and he finally told me I had to guard him back to camp, which I was compelled to do. I divided my scant rations of raw bacon with the poor creature, and overtaking the wagon-train of Longstreet's corps about dark, I frequently lost my man, but he would always get up with me and make his presence known by a sort of glad exclamation like the bark of a dog. Doubtless it meant something in German. He could not understand my words, but he understood the gestures and motions of the Texan when I was protecting his life.
Late at night, fatigued beyond measure, I found a provost guard, and by the dim light of the camp fire,
took a receipt for my prisoner. When I started off and the guard made him understand by putting a bayonet to his breast, that he must stay, and I motioned him back, the disappointment on the poor brute's face, at parting with his new found friend, made a picture which lingers yet in memory.
From some of the Texan's friends, I afterwards learned why he was so blood-thirsty. His brother, living in Missouri, was a confederate soldier, and went home on a furlough to visit his young wife and his first born, then a few days old. It was the dead of winter and some union troops attempted to capture him. He escaped to the woods and saw the savage brutes drive his wife without clothing, with her infant in her arms, out into the snow and burn his home. The wife and child died from exposure and the two brothers' hearts were steeled against mercy, and, but for my interference, this ignorant German would have been punished for the crime of others.
Tempted by the high bounty, he came to murder, rob and destroy a people who had never harmed him, of whose very language he was ignorant, and, while the conduct of the Texan was inexcusable, yet these things are a part of the history of the times.
I often met this Texan afterwards, but as our salutation was generally by the name of our respective states, as "Hello Texas," I cannot remember his name, if I ever knew it. He was tall, lithe, graceful and comely ,with ruddy cheeks, laughing eyes and long auburn hair, the sort of man over whom women rave and brave men dread to meet in combat. While apparently fearless in the face of the enemy, he was ever cautious in the scout.
The white men were quite friendly in their manner, but this impudent fellow asked, "Why the d----d rebels did not send some one to take care of the wounded?" Simmons retorted in a way that showed he had no Quaker like scrupples about swearing, and appeared to be willing to use his rifle on the brute, but on my intervention let him alone. I noticed that he had on a fine pair of cavalry boots, almost new, such as were worth about $500 in Confederate money. Of these more anon. I got from the side of a dead Michigan Captain, whose name I think was Peter Bennett, a green, patent leash sachel, and near by were some wagons, the wheels of which had been cut down, loaded with hospital stores. We found cases of Otard brandy labeled 1858, barrels of crushed
loaf sugar, crackers, packages of new woolen underclothing and various other things. We had been fasting for twenty-four hours, and the copious drink of brandy each of us took as the first thank offering for our success, had a considerable effect on our empty stomachs as well as our heads. We took a supply of clothing, sugar, and a dozen bottles of brandy and started to return. We soon met the handsome Texan with some companions, and told him of the good things to be found further in front. Our command had marched off, and in the effort to overtake them we became well nigh exhausted, but did not fail to give our companions an opportunity to drink a thank offering with the Otard. In the calm which followed the battle I took the opportunity to go to Richmond and recruit for a day. Life appeared to be a short affair then, and as we did not get enough to eat one a month in camps, the opportunity to go to the city and fill up on good things once more, and be our of range of shot and shell, afforded a temptation we did not try to resist, when we had a supply of confederate currency. Dinner at the American hotel was $20, a drink of apple brandy was $5, and a theater ticket was $10. I took all the rounds and just after getting seated in the beautiful new theater, I saw all my Texas friends come in. They sat in the row next in the rear of me. After exchanging greetings I asked: "Boys, did you get any sacking the other day?" Receiving an affirmative reply I asked if they saw the boots on the wounded negro. The handsome Texan threw his foot encased in those very boots, on the top of the seat beside my head remarking: "Yes by G-d, here they are." In answer to my wondering inquiry as to how he got them off, he said that he put his foot against the man and
jerked them off, and the negro could be heard yelling a mile, which was not to be wondered at. It is all sad, but it is history.
Afterwards, on a scout, about a dozen federal cavalry suddenly charged on this Texan and four companions. They stood their ground in the road, and my handsome friend got a saber cut on the head and a horse knocked him into the corner of the fence. His thick wool hat and the fortunate blow from the horse's shoulder doubtless saved his life. He picked himself up and was ready for the fray again within the time that a modern dude could brush his hair or wax his moustache.
The last time I saw him was a day or two before the surrender. Famine had pinched his handsome features, but his bearing, when, while on a scout far from supporting force, a handful of us, sallied into the woods to engage unknown numbers, was as gay as if he was entering a ball room.
The little skirmish was soon over, and in a short while, we came to a fine country mansion. General (afterwards governor) Fitzhugh Lee was sitting cross-legged on the lawn with an empty pitcher in front of him. He had the pitcher refilled with apple juice from the farmer's cellar for our benefit, and there under the noble oaks, as the darkness was falling on us, doubly dark because the heavy clouds of defeat were lowering over our devoted army, we drank a merry round from the Virginian's apple brandy, and separated to meet no more, each to join our respective commands, then on the march.
Gallant Texan! I seem to behold your Apollo-like form, and look into the depths of your laughing blue eyes.
I came to a mill on a creek near by, and our cavalry were helping themselves to flour. As my comrades of the line were reduced to worse straits for food than myself, I took about thirty pounds in a sack and started off in the darkness, crossing the creek on a log, and I wonder how I did it, considering the fatigue, the heavy load I bore, the hunger and the brandy. I ascended a hill and came to a field. As I approached within five paces of the woods on the far side, two men suddenly arose up from the edge of the bushes, with guns leveled at my breast, demanded my surrender. I had determined never to surrender, but the situation was not cheerful. Under such circumstances men think fast and in a flash it occurred to me that my captors, being as weary as myself, I could escape from them or overcome them in the night. So I surrendered, and immediately asked what command my captors belonged to, and was overjoyed to hear the reply "Longstreet's corps."
I engaged one of them, with the promise of five pounds of flour, to carry the sack to my command, which, after a weary march, we overtook, and the next morning my company had bread, made from the flour, without lard, and baked on ramrods and pieces of wood. Two days more, and our battle flags were furled forever at Appomattox.
a dead enemy, but that was a necessity, and I never felt any pangs of remorse for the act. There are in all armies men who rob - sack is the soldier's word for it - the dead, the wounded and the living, sometimes being careless whether they are friend or foe. I have seen gold watches, money and other valuables, which were said to have been taken from the dead, and on one occasion I had seen a prisoner, who said he was a bounty jumper, relieved of a belt containing over $400 in greenbacks. I had captured him while alone on a scout, and had guarded him two miles to camp, and when I turned him over to the provost guard, the sergeant, Lynch by name, cooly went through him with results very gratifying to the Confederates, but most vexatious to the gentleman in blue.
I was thoroughly imbued with the idea that it was not in accord with the character of a chivalrous southern soldier and gentleman to be guilty of robbing the dead. It was with pain and sorrow that I was forced to confess that we had in the ranks of our army ghouls and vandals capable of such conduct nevertheless. I saw the sun rise after Fredericksburg on more than 1000 corpses, stripped of every vestige of their clothing which could be useful to the victors and on other occasions after we had recovered from the enemy the ground where our own dead lay, I saw that they, too, had vandals in their ranks.
I think now that I had extreme ideas on the subject. I expatiated to my comrades on the horrible custom. The company to which I belonged was an old one, organized for the Indian war of 1836. It marched into the city of Mexico with Scott, and had been feted and toasted in the piping times of peace
for its superior drilling and the excellent material of which it was composed. It was our boast that every man of the one hundred and forty-odd who composed the company was a gentleman. It was not singular that I, boy as I was, should have abhorred the practice of sacking the dead, for we dwelt upon the enormity of the fiendish practice, and vied with each other in condemning it.
I wonder now how a change came over me. After the lapse of more than a quarter of a century, I will try to tell how it was that I, too, sacked the dead.
It was in September, 1864, after the terrible campaign of the Wilderness when the two armies had settled down before Petersburg into steady seige work, but murder kept going on all the time, day and night with bomb and shell, minnie bullet, mine and countermine. Over to the north of the James a force of the enemy had a demonstration, and the part of the army to which I was attached had hurried over there and met them at Deep Bottom, where Colonel Gates lost his arm and the gallant Girardy lost his life. Three small brigades, some cavalry and artillery, about 1500 in all, were left to guard the north side, and the writer was one of this force. The writer had a brother, an only brother, in the fifteenth Alabama, who was captured in a night fight in Wills Valley near Lookout mountain in November, 1863.
The first information received stated that he had been killed, but letters sent by flag of truce to different prisons, were finally answered by him, and he stated that in a land of plenty, in sight of fields of wheat and corn, he was slowly starving, and that numbers of his comrades had already succumbed to famine, and cruel treatment. He further stated that
his clothing was in rags, his only blanket worn out, the building in which he was quartered, open; he did not believe he could survive the rigors of the approaching winter, and wound up by an appeal to his brother to send him some funds with which to purchase food and clothes, which might prolong his life. These letters were received during the summer and fall of 1864, while we lay at Deep Bottom. My sergeant's pay was $28 per month in Confederate currency, and all my friends could not have raised a dollar in greenbacks.
Somehow, during the quiet days at Deep Bottom the thought of that boy, starving in a land of plenty, of how I had shared my scanty rations with Yankee prisoners, and risked the enemy's bullets to carry their wounded succor and water, and how hopeless I was to aid my only brother, preyed on my mind until it underwent a great change. The only way to get any funds which would benefit my brother was to sack a dead Yankee, and I found myself arguing that, in so good a cause, it could not be wrong, and from this I soon grew to believe it would be a praiseworthy act. Thus it was that I made up my mind to raise some funds from the dead the very next time I had an opportunity. We fronted James river, distant about a mile, about eight miles below Richmond.
heard their words of command. I hurried back and reported to the general in command, who directed me to go out and again report what I could find out. Before I could return from this duty, an attack was made all along the line and a large force marched between us and Richmond, compelling my command to beat a hasty retreat from its position, and I never returned to camp again. All my worldly effects - clothing, blankets, everything except what I wore, fell into the enemy's hands. I was completely sacked, and my anticipations of booty vanished; and with the rest of the command I was speeding at a double-quick toward the fortifications.
About two miles distant was a line of works, one part of which was called Fort Harrison. When we emerged from the woods and came in sight there was a brigade of some 3000 blue coats between us and the fort. Like us they, too, had been at a double quick for a long way, and were now quietly resting under the shelter of a little hill, preparatory to making a dash at the fort, which, but for an accident would have been entirely without defenders. A working detail of seventy men, under Major Moore of the seventeenth Georgia, was passing near when the enemy came in sight and he immediately resolved to fight the overwhelming force. He got a sick artilleryman to show him how to load a thirty-two pounder in the fort, and with this he kept up a great noise, while the enemy was advancing through the field in front. Being in light marching order and swift on foot, three of us, who were scouts, were ahead of the command and came up very near the rear of the enemy, firing into the mass of men, who took very little notice of us; there was a bigger game in front
of them, and Richmond was almost in their grasp. But when the head of our column well night exhausted with the long run, came near enough to cause alarm, the blue coats rose and made a rush at the fort. The old thirty-two pounder had been double shotted with grape as large as walnuts, and when the enemy reached the crest of the hill, the gallant Moore pulled the lanyard, and the charge tore a lane through the masses of the enemy. That scene is pictured on memory now. The cannon was dismounted by the recoil. The enemy filled the ditch and climbed up the parapet of the fort, and I could see our few but gallant fellows striking at them with the butts of their muskets. In a few moments the fort was taken and the attention of the victors was turned to the approaching Confederates. I got a few men, crossed over the flanking breast-works, and getting behind some log cabins, which had been winter quarters, kept up a brisk fire on those in possession of the fort. The main body of our men, still outside the line of the fortifications, attempted to reach a small salient about one-fourth of a mile from Fort Harrison and part of the same line. The enemy rushed after them, and there was a scene such as is seldom witnessed even in war. Both sides were almost exhausted with their long run, tongues hanging out, guns empty, one side calling to the other to halt in great oaths, and the gray coats refusing to surrender and swearing back with equal vigor, some striking at others with their guns. Of course many of our men were captured, but about eighty of them reached the small salient, and two pieces of artillery under the command, as far as I could see, of a young Virginia corporal - Charlie was his first name, the other
I never heard, came to our help. A more gallant fellow than Corporal Charlie I never knew.
The enemy, exhausted, withdrew for a time, and then reserves began to file into the fields, in plain view of our position, by the thousands.
In a short while they detached a regiment about 500 strong to charge our position. They advanced gallantly under fire of Corporal Charlie's two guns and the remnant of our force until within 150 yards, when they began to lie down behind convenient positions, such as logs, stumps and other cover. Some brave fellows came within 20 yards of the works, and, finding themselves unsupported, lay down there. In the spring previous a small piece of woods in front of the fort had been cut down and the sprouts had put up, and these, covered with leaves, furnished cover which concealed while it did not protect the assailants, who kept up a brisk fire on our devoted few. Every man of Corporal Charlie's force was killed, wounded or had become demoralized, and he had to call on the infantry to help him load after the gun had recoiled from the platform, and to help push the gun back to its position, after which, amid a hail of bullets, he would aim his gun at the ground just in front of the fort, and, with hearty curses, pull the lanyard. Sometimes we saw caps, pieces of muskets clothing and other things fly into the air, as the solid shot tore through the cover in front of us. The ammunition of the infantry gave out, and things looked very critical; but after awhile two men, who had been sent for it, returned with a supply of cartridges in their blankets, having to run the gauntlet of a tremendous fire of artillery and musketry. Our devoted band raised a shout, and hope revived in their breasts. Across the wide field about a half a mile
distant, were at least 5000 federal infantry and many pieces of artillery. There was nothing for them to do but to walk over us, but for some unexplained reason they stood supinely and let the brave fellows in front bear all the brunt of the fight.
We saw that we must get rid of these men nearest to us, and volunteers to charge them were called for. Eleven of us responded at once, all that were needed or could be spared, and Lieutenant Hines of southwest Georgia called for two of these to be the first with him to mount the works and draw the enemy's fire. John Lindsay, of Columbus, Ga., and another whose name I forget, promptly responded to the call. The plan was for those who were to remain in the fort to load their guns and be ready to shoot any blue coat who arose from the cover to his feet; the three men were to draw the fire of the enemy and the other eight of the charging party were to mount the works and assail the enemy who were lying in the bush. The plan was carried out perfectly. It seems to me, I can now see Hines and Lindsay, both redheaded and both small, as they leaped into the air from the works. Some of the Federals at once rose to their feet, and all who were loaded fired, but our men shot down every man who had arisen, and the balance of the eleven volunteers at once leaped over the works, I being one of the number. I never knew what took place for the next few minutes any more than if I had not been at the scene of action. I had no knowledge of what I did, or of what others did, until I found myself sometime afterwards about 100 to 150 yards from the fort. To say that I was excited would convey a very faint idea if the state of my mind. I was entirely absorbed, delirous. It was victory or death, and, had the latter come to me then, I would
not have known it, should not have felt it. Our task was not so hard as it would seem. When men who compose a charging column once lie down, scattered behind a convenient cover, it is almost impossible to get them to act in concert, and especially hard to get them to rise up in the face of a withering fire. The first who rise are shot down? the rest do not attempt it. Lying on the grounds, scattered, unable to load their guns, except slowly and with difficulty, they interposed little obstacles to the madmen who rushed among them. The first thing I remember after leaving the works I was about 150 yards from the fort, standing with one foot on a pine log, the other on the ground. My Enfield rifle was clubbed and raised high in the air. Four living and some dead federals were behind the log and the victory was won, on that part of the line and the fight was over for the time.
We captured 287 prisoners who were unhurt, besides the wounded, and there were many corpses on the ground, some sadly mangled by Charlie's solid twelve pound shot.
I remember that I ordered the four men to the rear and made others go into the fort, when, all at once, I thought of my brother, and this was my first opportunity for getting funds. At my feet, lying prone on his face, was a dead man. Corporal Charlie's solid shot had hit the back of his head as he lay on the ground, and left only his face and the front of his skull. I turned him over, got out a new pocketbook and a new red silk handkerchief, then looked around for more, I found two other dead men, hastily relieved them of their pocketbooks, and began to look for more, when lo! I found that my Confederates
had been engaged in the same work and there were no more bodies to search. I gathered five muskets, took them back to the little fort and loaded them all for the patient gentlemen who were standing at the far edge of the fields observing all these proceedings. They had stopped their cannonading when we began to send prisoners into the fort for fear of killing their own men. I then inspected my booty. Two of the pocketbooks belonged to owners as poor as I, for there was not a cent in them. But the other, the first find, had in it $49 in greenbacks and 96 cents in United States postage stamps. I was rich. I had found money to send to the prisoner if I could only live through this battle. I also found a note in the pocketbook requesting some dear comrade of John W. House to notify his mother and sister at Wheeling, W. Va., of his death. I was not a comrade, but I wrote by flag of truce telling them that John died bravely in front of the enemy.
This was the first, last and only time I ever searched the pockets of a dead man. Before and after that time, whilst on scouts and in battles I found much plunder. At one time a pearl handled dagger, at another a wagon load of delicacies, among them bottles of Otard brandy and barrels of loaf sugar; at another I took fifty-two letters from girls to one Asa Frear from the knapsack of the said Asa, and in the lull of the battle the boys read them aloud, much to their edification.
After this we had rest for a time on our part of the line, but away off to the left at Fort Gilmer, on the same line, there was warm work going on, and far in our rear we could hear the sounds of battle,
where Kautz with his cavalry was trying to force the innermost defenses of the city, and Pemberton of Vicksburg fame, with department clerks and old men, was pounding away with 100 pound shells at a skirmish line.
Meanwhile some Texans and reserve artillery had come to our assistance and as we had all the captured rifles loaded up, we felt anxious to try another bout with our friends, the enemy, who were still in plain view in front and in great numbers.
About 5 o'clock in the evening we saw a stir in their lines and a gallant regiment, the forty-fifth Pennsylvania, I think, marched to the front of their lines and were apparently addressed by some officer, after which they directed their steps towards our little fort. The regiment appeared to number about 450 men, and as we had about 150 besides artillery and the advantage of good breastworks, it was a clear case of suicide on their part, and more than one of our men expressed sorrow that these men were sent on such forlorn hope. Expecting the artillery and ten rifle men, our force was ordered to reserve its fire until the enemy reached a ditch about 200 yards in front. They came on gallantly closing up the gaps made in their ranks by the shells and bullets, and preserving their line as if on parade until they reached the ditch, when a terrible fire was opened on them. They made a rush forward, but the hail of bullets was too much for human nature to stand. Some escaped back to their lines, but they were few, perhaps not more than thirty, the rest were killed, wounded or captured, and we held the fort, which was named "Second Georgia," after the writer's regiment, until the fall of Richmond.
It is fitting that I should relate how I disposed of my booty. I mailed to my brother three $5 bills separately in letters and shipped a box of tobacco, addressed to the lone prisoner. Alas! the rules required the letters to be unsealed, and some thief, Federal or Confederate "sacked" the letters of the money, and the tobacco never reached its destination. When the surrender came at Appomattox, I had of my booty left one paper 10 cents in greenback, and that I gave to a federal soldier for some soap.
My brother pale and haggard, his spirit utterly broken by want, confinement and cruel treatment, was released January 1865 on parole.
John Lindsay, who received a furlough signed by the immortal Lee, for gallantry at Chickamauga, was killed at Columbus, Ga.
Of the other gallant spirits who participated in the dangers and joys of that day's fray, I recall Col. W. S. Shepard, Capt. Thomas Chaffin, William Anderson, ("Prince") James DuBose, "sex" of the Columbus guards, and Henry Bussey, John Simmons, Dave Moreland, - - Shepherd, of other companies in the second Georgia. It was their lot to illustrate on that day southern heroism and prove that gunpowder had not driven courage out of the world.
Culpepper Court House and set out to join my command, then marching to the Rappahannock. The road was full of marching battalions, artillery and wagon trains, and it was difficult to pass through them while in motion. When halted for rest the men would stretch themselves out on each side of the road, and the poor stragglers who had to run the gauntlet of the fire of wit from the long lines of soldiers, is not apt to forget it. If, as was the case with the writer, he had on clean clothes, he became the subject of unmerciful raillery. At every step he was greeted with "Come out of them clothes; I know you are in them; I see your feet stickin' out." "Look at the conscript." Then some persistent fellow would say "Left, Left," as if drilling an awkward squad to keep step, and just as I would get out of the sound of his voice another would take it up. Every old soldier who was at all sensitive, knows what a trial of patience he had to undergo in passing troops on the march. No one had wit sharp enough to parry the thousand volleys with which he was assailed. Fighting was out of the question, so a kind of a meek, subdued and injured air was the universal refuge on such occasions.
I overtook my regiment at Jeffersonton, and some shelling was going on across the river. We marched further northward and camped for the night. Our rations the next few days were composed of roasting ears without salt, varied with a little beef, and on one or two days a slender bit of badly cured bacon. I saw George Abercrombie eat thirteen roasting ears at one meal, and then he dryly remarked, "D--n a Government that won't furnish fodder."
But a few days before I had been in bed, and fair
hands had prepared for me all sorts of delicacies, and put flowers on my pillow. The change of diet was rather sudden, not to say startling.
Stonewall Jackson had gone around to Pope's rear, and after a day or two we followed, fording the river and marching through the peaceful valley and the quiet town of Salem towards Thoroughfare Gap. This Gap is a natural curiosity. The mountain range has the appearance of having been pulled by a giant hand into two parts, separated by a little space, just sufficiently wide for a little creek, a country road and a railroad to pass side by side through the range. Tomb's brigade was in front that day, and we had gotten well into the defile, when the bullets began to sing through our ranks and some men fell. We had no idea of danger until then. Withdrawing to the edge of the pass we commenced to clamber up the mountain and soon gained the top, but the front of the pass was occupied by artillery, which shelled us till after night fall. Some troops were sent around by another pass and when day returned the blue coats were gone and we resumed our march, Hood's Texas brigade in front. After awhile we could see, far up against the blue sky, the white smoke of bursting shells, though we could not hear their sound, which told of the heavy fight Jackson was making against the whole of Pope's army. We quickened our steps as the story ran down the lines, of the danger our comrades were in. We passed Gainesville, and filed into line of battle on each side of the pike by ten o'clock in the morning. We were made to face towards the east; as we afterwards learned to intercept Fitz John Porter, who was afterwards condemned
to die because he did not walk over Longstreet's corps that day.
Volunteers for the skirmish line were called for, and Ferguson and myself were accepted from the Columbus Guards. We were placed in a field near a house, and far enough from the brow of the hill overlooking the old Manassas battle ground to prevent any view of the fight, which raged all day and far into the night. By the cheering in the shrill tones, we knew so well, we could tell that our comrades were victorious in the charge and repulse. We lay in line that night and until 4 p. m. next day, without even a sight of the momentous conflict going on within half a mile of us.
About 4 p. m. Col. Rosser ordered a battery of the famous Washington Artillery to the brow of the hill in front, and some of the pieces were planted within a few yards of a farm house, Compton's, the doors of which had been closed all the time. At the word of command the six guns were discharged, shaking the earth with their roar, and all at once, the basement door was thrown open, and a poor woman with two babies in her arms, followed by a nurse and several small children rushed out, shrieking as if they were about to be murdered. Ferguson and I threw down our guns and rushed to them and taking an armful of children apiece bore them off to a place of safety. The poor woman was frightened nearly to death, and doubtless thought her end had come. Later in the night I saw her attending to the wounded, and she had the opportunity to repay the little kindness I had shown her, by attending to my own hurt.
We were ordered to advance, a rail fence lay in our way, and at the word of command, a soldier at
each corner gave a push and it went down as if by magic. As we reached the brow of the hill the whole scene, the panorama of battle, lay before us in the valley, shrouded only by the canopy of smoke.
For the first time I saw artillery charge. Two pieces would be driven at a furious gallop to a knoll, unlimber and fire, while two others would gallop past them to another eminence, and commence firing, when the first couple would - like well-trained dogs - rush past them to get a position. Thus alternating, this artillery kept ahead of us, although we were in a run, and actually drove the enemy some distance before we could overtake them.
Our line of advance carried us to the right of the Chinn house, down a little ravine with a hill to our left and a piece of scattering woods to our right. The site of the Henry House, where Bee and Bartow fell in 1861, was about one mile in front. On the hill was a New York brigade, which had just come up in splendid line as a reinforcement as our line exhausted by the long run, halted and commenced firing. I had fired my sixth round, at the blue line on the hill, about 80 yards distant, and I was capping my old smooth bore musket, when I received a minnie bullet through the lower edge of my right hand. I did not feel any pain, but my arm was completely benumbed I was a little in front of my company, and walked back to them. I remember now that I was completely bewildered, and had no idea what to do. I was an useless machine of no further value in that fight. Tom Beasley, cousin of Augusta Jane Evans, the authoress, was sergeant of the little corps, generally carrying an old cavalry sabre as a walking stick. He came to me, and amid the shower of bullets untied a handkerchief conveniently
fastened about my neck, and with it, tied my hand, which was bleeding profusely. Tom was as cool and deliberate as if he was far from danger, and told me to lie down in a little depression near by. This soon filled up with wounded men and proving to be a very unsafe place, I went across the ravine, and lay down in a little gulley, where a dead Confederate made a sort of breastwork for me. I heard several bullets strike my fortification; men came running over me in rapid flight, and I could hear it said that our men were giving way. Never having been in the rear before I was not aware that this demoralization was common in the rear of a line of battle, so I took to flight with the rest. It took a long run to get out of the reach of bursting shells and bullets. I met General Toombs and staff in a gallop, their horses covered with foam. He had been under arrest, but obtained permission to join his brigade. I raised my hat and he stopped long enough to inquire the whereabouts of his brigade.
Finally, I arrived at a place where I could rest in comparative safety, and I turned to view the battle. The roar of artillery, the incessant discharge of small arms, the shout of the combatants were exciting enough, but the smoke hung over the lines so that little could be seen. Finally, about sundown, Lee ordered his last reserves. It was a Georgia brigade advancing gallantly through the level field on our extreme right, and a Federal brigade was sent to meet them. The sun shone brightly on the long lines of steel, and the foemen advanced with quick steps towards each other, as if they were brothers eager to embrace. All at once, they stopped, the blue line got in the first volley. Some of the gray fell, some ran to the rear. I wondered if they would
126 all follow. Staggered for a moment, they returned the volley, and with a shout rushed forward into the canopy of smoke, and I saw no more of the battle, though I watched with anxious eyes till nightfall. Streams of wounded, ambulances, staff officers, men hurrying to and fro, were plentiful. The firing and the shouts of our men grew more distant and I knew we had won the day.
A sense of lonliness came over me. I was a broken wheel, a useless machine, with no companions and no food. I wandered to the place from which we started to charge, and there it was darkness and more lonely. Beyond I saw the glimmer of a light, and there I found the lady whom we had assisted. She bound up my hand, gave me water to drink and a kind word. I made my way back to the Chinn House, and lay down in the east portico. The house and yard were full of dead and wounded men, but fatigue, hunger and wretchedness were soon forgotten in welcome sleep. During the night a wounded captain was brought and laid down beside me, but when morning came he was a corpse.
A cold rain was falling, the surgeons were still busy amputating limbs, and the piles of legs and arms attested their patient work during the night. The sight was not calculated to cheer me. The smell of warm blood, in my exhausted condition, was too much for me, and for once I nearly fainted, but I went out into the cold rain and walked among the numerous dead, who covered the fields around.
After a while, out of sheer loneliness and wretchedness, I approached a group of wounded federals and sitting on the ground in the rain, we talked over the events of the day before. One of them, a captain from Pennsylvania, whose name I regret that I have
forgotten, had the air and manner of a courteous gentleman. We soon became friends. His ankle was shattered, but he had hands, coffee and rations. I brought wood and water; he made a fire and some very good coffee. He shared the contents of his haversack with me, and under the influence of a good meal our spirits revived. He pressed me to visit him or call on him for any favor, and as good friends we parted, he in an ambulance train under flag of truce for Washington, and I for a weary walk to Culpepper, a hospital experience, and a sixty days furlough. I trust that the courteous Pennsylvanian, at once my enemy, host and friend, yet lives in prosperity.
I have thus detailed what I actually saw of the second battle of Manassas, not because it is thrilling or interesting, but to show how little of a battle is actually seen by one man.
Between thirty and forty thousand men were killed, wounded or captured, and many pieces of artillery and thousands of small arms were taken, yet I only saw a small part of it. The line of battle extended over several miles, the woods, hills and smoke prevented any extended observation.
two bridges, was unable to meet the federals with anything like equal numbers and there was a terrible struggle to save Petersburg on the 17th and 18th days of June. Hood's old division, commanded at that time by Gen. Fields, to which the writer belonged, arrived at the front line during the night of the 18th of June, and took position behind the line which had fought all day, and when light dawned we found that we were in close range of the enemy and without works, in an open field. With bayonets for picks and tin cups for spades we speedily threw up earthworks, which afterwards formed part of the famous line of defense.
Just to our left, and east of the city, was a slight elevation, and here the lines were only about a hundred yards apart, and firing was incessant. Men would load and fire for two hours in the night, wake up the relief and lie down in the trenches. The relief would often stand with one foot on each side of the head of a sleeping comrade and fire until relieved. Burnsides' corps faced us at this point, and he reported that without a battle in about a month he lost 1,150 men, mostly killed.
The colonel of a Pennsylvania regiment, composed mostly of miners, suggested a mine to blow up our works, and obtained the consent of the commander. A tunnel about five feet square and 110 yards long was run from their lines to a point under our works, and then under our works on each side with chambers cut in the earth. In these chambers was placed powder, 8,000 pounds, and the tunnel filled with sand bags to confine the force of the powder. Our engineers had discovered that the enemy was tunneling, and had sunk a shaft at that point but not deep enough to reach the tunnel.
Meantime Grant made preparations to make the blow effective. He crossed the James river to Deep Bottom, near Malvern Hill, with a large force, and this caused Gen. Lee to carry five of the eight divisions which composed his army and one brigade over to the north side of the James to meet the demonstration. Grant recrossed the James at night, and had his whole army massed to take advantage of the whole explosion of the mine, whilst less than three-eights of the Confederates were opposed to him.
The federals had eighty-one heavy guns and mortars, besides many pieces of light artillery, bearing on the point to be assaulted; their infantry, including a division of negroes of 4,500 men, were massed in covered ways ready to spring upon the thin line in front as soon as the explosion took place. This was ordered at 3:30 a. m. on the 30th of July, 1864, but the fuse was defective and was relighted after the lapse of half an hour, and at 5:45 there was a vast upheaval of earth, resulting in a crater about thirty feet deep, fifty feet wide and 200 long. Many of our men, one a colonel, were buried under the masses of clay, and their bodies still remain there.
The forward division of the army poured over the intervening space into the crater and the adjoining works. It had better be explained here that our works were formidable. First, there was an earthwork six feet high, with a broad trench behind it. At intervals banks of earth call traverses were thrown up perpendicular to these works to prevent an enfilade fire. Then there was a covered way some fifty feet in the rear, which was a broad ditch with the earth thrown up on the side next to the enemy, and
intended to cover re-enforcements - those bringing in ammunition and rations - as well as for carrying out the dead and wounded. Besides these there were numerous cross ditches, sinks, etc., which cut up the ground.
The enemy took possession of these works and the crater on each side for a distance of more than 100 yards, and, once in them, the works afforded security against any attack by our men except a direct charge into them and mortar shells.
We had no second line and only a few mortars manned by less than fifty men were between the enemy and Petersburg. They had nothing to do but move forwad to the crest of the hill and Petersburg was within their grasp. But the severe losses of the past month by this division from our sharp-shooters, and the recollection that it was not easy to win anything from the Army of Northern Virginia, as well as the want of competent leaders, caused the enemy to stop in the crater and adjoining works, and attempt to wrest more of our line on each side of the crater from our troops. Here the fighting was very severe. Each traverse formed a little fort, and was defended with desperation. Behind one all the defenders had been killed but three and one of these took his position kneeling whilst the other two loaded guns for him, and as fast as an enemy would try to pass around the end of the traverse he was shot, until twenty-six men fell. The ground between the works of the enemy and ours in rear of the crater to the crest, was swept by a rain of fire.
Burnside, who was in command of the attacking force, from his safe position, ordered in more troops, who rushed forward into the space already crowded by men sheltering themselves from the pitiless bullets
and mortar shells. Finally the colored troops - 4500 strong - were ordered to charge. It is said they had been plied with liquor to enthuse them; but the delay caused by the failure of the fuse at first caused their inspiration to cool; but they rushed to the crater with loud cries of "Give the d----d rebels no quarter!" Their officers tried to get them to charge the crest behind the crater, and, in the court of inquiry held by order of the federal secretary, some of the officers testified that they advanced 200 yards past the crater towards Petersburg, but were repulsed.
Some of Sanders' brigade now living in Birmingham say that when they charged over this very ground later in the day, there were no dead or wounded visible on this portion of the field, so it is quite probable that these officers were mistaken.
Repeated orders were sent to the division commanders of the Federal troops to advance; but the reply was that the other troops were in front, and the scene of action so crowded that no more troops could find lodgment there. In fact, from all accounts some 12,000 or 15,000 men were already packed into a space about the size of a block in one of our cities, and our mortar shells exploding in the midst of such masses produced frightful confusion and death.
As soon as troops could be moved from our right - a distance of nearly two miles - they were brought up to supply the places of those killed by the explosion and to retake our works. Every foot of the ground over which the charge was made was swept by an incessant fire. Nearly 100 pieces of artillery and thousands of rifles were hurling missles of death every instant.
Mahone's and Wright's brigades were brought up, and after heavy loss, succeeded in retaking our lines up to within forty yards of the crater on our left. Then Sanders' Alabama brigade, about 1500 strong, was brought up through the covered way and filed into the field about 300 yards in rear of the crater, where a small depression sheltered them as they lay prone upon the ground. Mahone went along the line and told the men not to fire a shot until they got to the enemy. Sanders' brigade was composed of the Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh and Fourteenth Alabama regiments, all of whom had seen service on many a well contested field. These men lay under the burning July sun, with shells and bullets flying over them for nearly two hours, when, at the word of command they rose and moved off in quick time, in perfect line toward the crater. When within about fifty yards of the enemy a terrible volley was poured into their line, and the devoted Alabamians trailed their arms and broke into a double quick. Before the federals could reload our men plunged into the crowded mass and the work of death began anew, but now with bayonet and clubbed guns.
The scene is said to have been indescribable. In places our mortar shells had exploded in the crowded mass of men, tearing them in pieces. In the hot sunshine the odor arising from the blood and mangled remains was horrible. One man, the son of a promiment judge, leaped into the crater striking a Federal to the ground as he jumped on him. Quickly recovering, he plunged his bayonet through the prostrate man with such force that it penetrated a plank, and when the gun was withdrawn the bayonet remained, pinioning the man down as a boy pins a fly to the
wall. As the Confederate withdrew his gun a Federal fired at him and the ball shattered his left arm near the shoulder. Swinging his gun with his remianing arm he brought it down on the head of the federal, crushing his skull. The wounded man then escaped, living long to tell the tale.
Adjutant Fonville of the Fourteenth Alabama was shot while surrounded by enemies, but Captain Terrell of Dadeville at once slew the man who killed him. It would be vain to even attempt to relate the one hundredth part of the personal conflicts which ensued when 1500 men threw themselves into the midst of the several thousand enemies, packed like sardines in the crater and ditches which formed our works. Death was everywhere and men fought like demons. Our men had heard the cry of the negroes to give no quarter, the broiling sun, the smoke, the smell of powder and blood, and the desperation born of the resolve to conquer or die brought on a delirium which all soldiers have felt. As it is said that the work of slaughter went on long after the resistance had ceased, and stopped only after Mahone had exerted himself for a long time to stay the hands of his infuriated men.
A federal soldier visiting the scene long afterwards, relates that he, with five white and fourteen negro comrades, had crowded into a bomb-proof for shelter. Knowing that the Confederates had heard the cry of "No quarter" from the negroes and fearing that the whites, too, would be slaughtered, they deliberately resolved to kill all their black comrades so as to get an opportunity to surrender, and they carried their resolution into effect.
The land on which the crater is situated was owned by Griffith, and is now owned by his son, who was
13 years of age at the time of the battle. He pulled the lanyards for two mortars in rear of the crater for two hours during the battle. And when the mortar ceased firing he went to the edge of the crest and witnessed the charge of Mahone's, Wright's and finally of Sanders' brigade. He says the soldier boys of the volunteer companies drilling in the streets did not make a better line or move with more precision than did Sanders' brigade when they marched into the jaws of death on that eventful day. Griffith went to the crater on August 1, when the dead were being buried under flag of truce. and, with the vivid recollection of a boy, he can tell many things forgotten by the men who took part in the same.
He says in some places men were piled up like cordwood, tumbled into a heap at least six deep. The blood had been mixed by the feet of the struggling men with the clay, until the mud so formed was ankle deep.
The total loss of the Federals as reported by General Meade on that day was 4400; and, when it is considered that most of these losses were in a space not much larger than one of our city blocks, and that space cut by the ditches and banks of earth, one can readily imagine what a scene of carnage and bloodshed, when so many men besides 1800 of our own were lost.
The crater is now enclosed with a fence, and a growth of pines and cedar has sprung up as if to cover the awful scene. The works on each side have been leveled - done, it is said, to obtain the lead found in them - and the field is now cultivated. The same spring to which we resorted at night continues to flow with cool, pure water, so grateful to us during the weary months of the siege.
The writer served in the trenches over a month about 100 yards to the right of the crater, but his command was ordered to the north of the James one day before the battle, and he did not participate in it. This narrative is compiled partly from accounts given by others, and partly from the records of a court of inquiry held by the Federal authorities, which rested much of the blame of their failure on General Burnside and some of his subordinate commanders. Had a Jackson, Gordon or Mahone commanded on their side with Grant's whole army present, and five-eights of General Lee's absent, with the advantage of the surprise and the loss occasioned by the explosion, the siege of Petersburg would have terminated on that day.
The writer has urged some of the participants to put on record the part taken by Sanders' brigade; and this is written as a tribute to the gallant Alabamians who on that memorable day made a record of valor and devotion which should be commemorated by a monument. Some of the survivors yet live in our midst, and a visit to the crater and a description by an eye witness will gratify and prove a reward to anyone who believes that heroism yet lives in the world.
When night closed on the dreadful scene and other troops came to relieve the remnant of the commands who retook our works, it is said to have been inexpressibly sad. Our Virginia regiment went into the battle with ninety-seven men. At roll call that night only seven answered to their names, and none were prisoners. Ninety were dead or wounded. At the roll call of the Sixty-fourth Georgia of Wright's brigade, the major of the regiment would answer to the
names of those who had been killed "dead on the field of honor." He burst into tears. but with broken voice he continued the responses. Sanders' brigade did not suffer so heavily as some of the others who charged earlier in the day.
I remember well that we took special pride in a dinner our mess gave one day, in which the principal dish was a pot of forty-two apple dumplings, served
with sauce made of butter, sugar, and apple brandy. It was a red letter day for us, and the fortunate guests were looked upon as pampered epicures. The sutler's stores supplied playing cards, books of all kinds began to circulate, and we took our ease under the shade of the forest, played whist and euchre or read Macaria, Les Miserables, or Scott's novels, or slept, or dreamed away existence, not knowing what hour might call us to face danger again.
Suddenly we received orders to prepare four day's rations, and be ready to march at a moment's notice, no one knew whither, but we all knew that the enemy in front was making no demonstration, and that Bragg had been manoeuvred out of Chattanooga, and a battle was imminent in Georgia. We soon ascertained that two of Longstreet's divisions were ordered to reinforce Bragg's army in Georgia, and embarking on the cars, we made our way towards the South. As usual the men were as gay as schoolboys at play. We made a stop at Raleigh, N. C., where Holden published a paper which was very abusive of President Davis and the Confederate Government. That night his office was attacked, and his printing outfit completely destroyed by some soldiers, led by some North Carolinians. During the battle of Chickamauga a comrade handed me some type, which he said came out of Holden's office. I was asleep at the time or perhaps I would have figured in the business, for we had little respect for those who fired into our rear, while we were at the front.
The trains moved slowly in those days but we finally arrived at Augusta, Ga., sometime in the night. There was a direct road to Atlanta, and I had taken my place on the floor of a freight car and
was fast asleep when Lucius Johnson, son of him who afterwards became Provisional Governor of Georgia, aroused me and informed me that the Calumbus guards had permission to go by Columbus on twenty-four hours furlough. It was nearly 200 miles further, we had no money to pay our passage, that particular spot on the plank floor of the car seemed to be very soft and inviting to me in my half slumbers, and I protested against going, but Lucius dragged me out by the foot and we took the train for Columbus, via Macon, and had comfortable seats in a passenger coach. After daylight we began to discuss ways and means for making the trip. I had two dollars in Confederate money, and was the largest capitalist in the company, by odds. When the conductor came around the first men of the company of whom he demanded fare, replied, pointing to their Enfield rifles, "I paid my fare at Gettysburg," and the poor bewildered man had to content himself with the answer. Somehow it got ahead of us by wire that the Columbus Guards, which was a crack company in the days of peace, was on the train, and after a little, at every station, the people shoved good things through the windows of the cars to us, without money and without price. Figs, water-melons, cakes, pies, apples, everything one could desire, were thrust on us in profusion. Such a day of hilarity, feasting and enjoyment I never saw. At Macon we were invited to supper at Brown's Hotel, the best in the place, but several of us could not accept the invitation because we were full already. Arriving at Columbus late at night, I continued my journey on the Opelika road, to my home, eight miles out, where I lay down on the piazza of an old store and slept
two hours, rather than disturb my relatives. A leave of absence for twenty-four hours! Can you realize it? A whole day among loving kin and friends, well dressed, clean and neat, no drums, no orders, no bullets, shells, death or bloodshed, nothing but kind words, feasting peace and pleasure. It is said if there is no cross, there is no crown; and one must endure hardships of a soldier's life to feel to their depths the pleasure of a furlough of one day. How it pictured on memory now, a green spot in the dreary waste!
Promptly on time I took the train the succeeding night and arrived at Atlanta, where, during a detention of a few hours, I took the opportunity to visit, for a short hour, Mrs. Mary E. Bryan, the authoress, an own cousin, who was residing with her father whose name was Rogers. This was the only time I ever saw her. Here, too, I met for the last time, W. D. Kyle, a Tennessean, who had left his home near Clarksville, to join our company, and with whom, after a year of friendship, I had an unfortunate misunderstanding. We made friends, spent a pleasant hour together. I took the train for fateful Chickamauga, and as I stepped off the cars the sharp reports of the rifles of the distant pickets greeted my ears, reminding me in no gentle way, that my day of pleasure was past.
I found many of my comrades on the ground many others had not yet arrived. We had all been anxious to come down and help our comrades of Bragg's army win a battle. In most of the conflicts in Virginia, we had routed the enemy and we were consequently inspired with the belief that we were irresistable when we met the foe on open
ground. On our way down we had boasted that we would show these Western Yankees how they could be beaten. We did show them, but alas! it took the blood of three-fourths of our men to teach them the lesson. As usual, the sound of the picket firing and occasional roar of cannon had a sobering effect on us, and the look of grim determination which always precedes the battle, settled on every countenance.
After marching and counter-marching in the woods in a very perplexing way, about 4 P. M. of Saturday, the 19th day of September, 1863, we were ordered forward till we came to a place where our line of battle had been hotly engaged, and for a long way could be seen the still forms of the dead Confederates, clad in their rusty grey uniforms. They were almost in line.
as they fell in files they lay,
Like mowers grass at close of day."
In Virginia, where the country is mostly open, we had been used to the sudden charge, a volley, a shout, a rush forward and one side or the other gave way, often to return to the charge, but these Western armies seemed to fight a square stand up duel, to which we were not accustomed.
On the inanimate forms the bright September sun was shining through the trees, and we halted right among them for a time, while the shells and bullets of the enemy, as yet unseen, were tearing over our heads and through our ranks. This situation is always trying to the soldier, so that it was a positive relief when we were ordered forward and the minnie mullets began to thicken as we approached a thicket
of young pines and scrub oaks intermingled with large trees.
Just here Gen. Robinson, Polly we called him, commanding Hood's Texas brigade, rode past our front and said something to the men, which I did not understand, but a shout was raised and we broke into a double quick step. I learned afterwards that at this moment the command was given to "right oblique," but I did not hear it, and went straight forward into the thicket. There is always an interval of space between regiments, and being on the left side of the Second Georgia, the movement caused me to advance alone, although I did not observe it at the time, owing to the excitement and my being fleet of foot. We had grown careless about bayonets and I had none, but was running along parting the bushes with my left hand and carrying my Enfield rifle in my right. All at once, as I attempted to pass around an oak tree in my front I found myself face to face with a heavy-set heavily bearded Federal who was on his knees at the root of the tree, in the act of putting a cap on his gun. It was a mutual surprise, for I had no idea any of the foe were so near, and his astonishment caused him to open an otherwise large mouth very wide. I cannot say he uttered any sound, if he did I did not hear it. I was greatly astonished, remembering my absent bayonet, it seemed a hundred thoughts flashed over me in the brief instant of time I looked into the face of my foe, who was not over the length of a musket from me. In less time than it takes to tell it I fired from my hip without raising my gun to my shoulders. I had frequently killed game that way, and struck the man in the waist. He threw up his hands and fell over
backwards. Late in the day when the fortunes of battle carried me past the same place in hurried retreat, I saw his motionless form in the place where he fell. As we fought the Eighth Kansas Regiment at this point, he must have belonged to that regiment.
I knelt behind a large stump and hastily reloaded my gun, wondering all the time why my comrades did not come up. Just as I finished loading I saw two federals behind a tree, not over five paces to the left, who fired on the Seventeenth Georgia, and I heard one of our men groan as he sank to the earth. He was not five paces from the man who shot him, but the thick growth prevented seeing very far. I fired at one of the men behind the tree and he sank to the ground. Reloading, I passed through the thicket into more open woods, and by this time the whole line was up with me, and a scene of indescribable confusion ensued. The federals were jumping up from every sort of cover, trees, logs, stumps and clumps of bushes, and taking to flight. We would call them to surrender. Some would turn their heads and curse and few surrendered. As one of us would get his rifle loaded he would fire at the back of a fleeing Federal, and a little, but distinctly marked cloud of dust would fly out of the dark background of the blue coat and down would go the unfortunate enemy. I suppose every old soldier has seen this cloud of dust fly from the stricken enemy. They had no time to reload their empty guns, and our men continued the slaughter without danger to themselves. This was just north of Viniard's house.
To our left was a field in which the enemy had posted themselves behind a hillside ditch, grown up
with briers and bushes, and our men found it difficult to dislodge them. So that when our part of the line followed up the foe in front of us, we got in the rear of the Federals in the field, and when they gave way and became panic stricken, in crowds, rushing past us, we stood in the corners of the fence in safety and fired into the fugitives until the slaughter was sickening. The field was blue with the uniforms of the dead and wounded, and I have never seen more dead in the same space anywhere. I think our mode of fighting and the charge right into their lines was a surprise to them. I know that few surrendered.
We took a dismounted cannon at the edge of the LaFayette and Chattanooga road, and our lines, which had been much disordered, were somewhat reformed, and we started to advance across the field in the direction of the enemy. But some batteries in the woods, about four hundred yards distant, opened on us with cannister so fiercely that the line halted and the men sought such shelter as they could. The cannister fairly rained down on us. It was very dry, the dust in the road was deep, and every shot sent up a little cloud so that one could see danger of crossing the road. I got between two of the dead horses attached to the captured canon, and using them as a breastwork, fired across the field at the enemy. After a while I was struck in the side, and the blow gave me intense agony. I thought I could feel the track of the ball through me and I groaned and rolled over with the pain. Captain Newell of Co. K. called to me to go to the rear, but I felt unable to walk. After a while I concluded to examine the hurt, and found an ounce ball twisted up in my flannel shirt just above the waistband. From despair
I was elevated to a fighting humor, all in less than a half minute. The enemy reinforced, commenced to advance on us, and the storm of cannister had killed or disabled many of our men and demoralized the line to such an extent that it gave way and made its way to the point from which we started to charge. I did not go so far, but while they were forming again, rallying it is called, I sat down between them and the enemy opened a knapsack, and examined its contents. After I rested sufficiently, I went to the line and we charged over the same ground running the enemy to the shelter of their cannon, but the same hail of cannister met us at the road, and another counter charge compelled us to retire as before. It was now nearly dark, and it was hard to rally our disheartened men. Gen. Hood, with his arm in a sling, came along and talked to us. Again the order came to charge; again a few of us went to the road, again to recoil before the same relentless storm of lead. Perhaps not more than twenty of the Second Georgia participated in this last charge, and we lost a gallant fellow - John Seay, of the Stewart Grays. In the gloom of the gathering darkness, sullen and dispirited we again formed our lines, and prepared to receive an attack; but the enemy had been too heavily stricken. Three men were put under my charge; we were taken out to a tree in front of the lines, and there, among the dead and wounded, I was ordered to hold that post and keep awake all night, and guard our sleeping comrades I told my men to go to sleep while I took the first watch. In the gloomy forest it was perfectly dark, the outcries and groans of the wounded were the only sounds to be heard, and the recollection of that
gruesome vigil, like a picture draped in mourning, or a funeral pall, lives yet on memory's page. The enemy sent out men to bear off their wounded, and they came quite near us, so that I could distinguish their words as they spoke to their suffering men. Our orders were to fire on everything in front, but I disobeyed, because it would have been unnecessary, inhuman and disturbing to our men.
We were relieved at sunrise next morning, and, on our return to the lines, found many of our comrades who had overstayed their one day's furlough trebly sad; in that, during their absence without leave, a battle had taken place, many comrades had passed over the river, and somehow the story had gone to the rear that Bennings brigade had not acted well in the battle. One of these belated comrades was Lieut. Patterson. The story was, that he was deeply in love with one of the fair belles of Columbus, and finding that she was visiting friends at a distance, he went thither, pressed his suit, met a refusal, and lost a day from his place. We went off to a tree and had a long conversation. He was deeply chagrined, and told me repeatedly that he would have preferred to have died that fateful Saturday than to have been absent. He was pale, his lips compressed, and he assured me that he had a fixed presentiment that death would come to him that day. I tried to rally him, but without avail. Before the day was over a bullet pierced his brain and he never spoke again. Witty, talented, refined and educated, his death made a gap in our ranks never to be filled.
After a time we were moved to the right and found we were to be the second line in this day's fight, usually an easy place according to our Virginia
experience, but alas! it was not so here. There was the usual shelling and picket firing until about 11 a. m. and about the time the good people at home were in their churches praying for us, we moved to the front. After crossing the road, the brigade in front of us received a terrible volley of shot and shell, and turned and fled. We did our best to stop them. Jim DuBose put his bayonet to the breast of a big Colonel, and swore at him vigorously, but they ran through our lines. At once the command was given "Steady, men! forward!" We hastily formed and pressed forward. In a moment we were greeted with another volley which staggered us and sent many a brave fellow to his long home. Down the slope about one hundred and twenty yards distant, we saw six cannons and a long line of infantry, treble our numbers, behind breastworks made of logs. None but veterans would have stood a moment. As it was, I saw the faces around me pale, but raising a shout we charged down the slope, firing as we ran. For some reason, after covering about half the distance, the men halted and commenced a regular stand up duel. This was a great error, and many a brave fellow was thereby sacrificed. We silenced the cannon, and I could see the bluecoats beginning to run from the works. The artillerists would run back, take hold of the wheels of their cannon and try to pull them away. Above the roar some confederate would cry out, "Shoot that d----d fellow at that cannon!" A dozen shots would be heard and down he would go. This happened several times. When about twenty paces from the battery, John Lindsay left our lines, ran to the guns and picked up the battery's flag, returning waving it over his head, and
shouting in triumph. He came directly to me, and I can yet see the fierce joy in his eyes. The artillerists kept trying to drag off their guns till we got among them, and from this position we could enfilade the works, which soon caused the bluecoats to leave them. A few of us passed through the works into the woods beyond, but our numbers were by this time sadly reduced, and heavy reinforcements to the enemy came up in forty paces of me. Capt. Chaffin and I gut behind the same little postoak tree, and, being farthest in advance, we received especial attention from the enemy. The minnie bullets rained on the tree and flew around us. Chaffin had the seams of his pants cut on both sides just below the pockets. Whilst loading I happened to see Col. Shepherd, who was a little in our rear, receive a wound, fall, get up and run to the rear. Most of our regiment, then a mere handful, followed him. I told Chaffin to look around him, which he did, and very cooly said, "Why, Houghton, I believe they have all gone." I insisted on going too, and we started on a run. I think five hundred shots were fired at us as we ran, I saw the ground torn up just as I was putting my foot down to the place several times. I got to a large post oak tree and stopped to watch what the enemy would do. They came on in great crowds and mounted on their cannon, waving their hats and huzzaing. Some of them wanted to make stump speeches. From my good tree I got several shots into the crowd, but in a few minutes I saw Kershaw's South Carolina brigade coming like a storm. They gave the crowd at the cannon one volley, they tumultously fled, and the guns were left to us without further struggle. I was told that our command went near half a mile before they rallied, and if the enemy had followed us, instead
of stopping to glorify over recapturing their own guns, they would have met with little opposition.
I was left on the field, the only "unhurt" Confederate in sight. I refilled my cartridge box from those of the dead, got a canteen of good cool water off a federal, and walked around looking into the calm peaceful faces of my comrades, who an hour before had been full of life and heroism. In an hour or so my regiment was led back and were surprised to find me alive. Many more incidents happened that day, but their narration would swell this paper too much The Second Georgia carried two hundred men into the battle and only 42 answered to their names after it was over. Many of the absent were only slightly wounded, owing to the fact that the fight was mostly among the trees.
I forgot to mention that I was struck by a glancing shot Sunday morning, but it caused no inconvenience.
While at winter quarters below Richmond in February, 1865, about dusk one evening, Adjutant Redd walked into my hut and handed me a paper. It was signed by the immortal Lee granting me a furlough for thirty days, by reason, so said the paper, of "gallant conduct at Chickamauga." John Lindsay also received one at the same time for conduct in the same battle.
Unfortunately I lost the paper, else it would be prized beyond compute.
I ought to mention that someone informed me that we were an hour and ten minutes taking the battery, with never a minute of intermission from the storm of battle. The trees, bushes and little twigs were all
cut and barked by the bullets, even those the size of a pipe stem were barked sometimes in two or three places.
The commander of the battery captured had tied his horse by a long halter to a little bush between his guns. It was a magnificent black, with a bright red saddle blanket, so that the horse was a conspicuous central figure, as he reared and pranced round, trying to break loose. After a time, whether a bullet cut the halter or the horse broke it I never knew, he broke away and followed his flying masters.
I have visited Chickamauga three times since the war. The scene of Saturdays fierce contest is near Viniards, and rough stone monuments mark the farthest advance of the 2d, 15th, 17th and 20th Georgia regiments, and just opposite stands the handsome monument to the Eighth Kansas, on which is recorded that it went into action that day with 409 men and lost 217. About one mile north from Viniard's is the scene of Sunday's fighting and the beautiful Georgia State monument stands near, overlooking the stones erected to the regiments of Bennings brigade and some cannon representing the Indiana battery captured by us.
The post oak which sheltered me after our repulse was cut down for the bullets imbedded in it. Brotherton of our brigade, who was reared on the field told me that in cutting timber to make rails after the war, he found from 150 to 400 bullets in the lower lengths of each tree. Of course, in making the park the undergrowth has all been cleared away. The post oak which sheltered Capt. Chaffin and myself after we passed through the battery is still standing. The battle field is so well laid off and
impartially marked that every participant can find his position without trouble.
I heard Gen. Lee direct Gen. Benning to send scouts to the rear over the route of our night march and by the time the courier reached me with the order, I had buckled on for the last time the familiar armor, and selecting two soldiers, we retraced our
steps through the woods and far into the fields beyond. Soon we saw the blue coated cavalry coming. Sending my comrades, who were unused to scouting to the rear, and sheltered by a pine thicket, I awaited the approach of the foe. A major rode in advance and I came near adding his name to the pension list before I saw he had a white handkerchief on a switch. He gave me a letter addressed to Gen. Lee, which I delivered to the nearest General for transmission by mounted courier, and returning to the rear, I found the Federal infantry forming in plain view of our men, who had orders not to fire. We could not understand it, and I hastened to my commander with the information. Shortly the news came along the line that Lee had surrendered. Like a scar burned by fiercest flame, that scene is imprinted on my memory. Gray haired veterans wept aloud or wrung their hands in agony. Some broke their swords and rifles; some cursed the day of their birth; others laughed hysterically, like men gone mad from sudden frenzy. We were surrendering to men who fled before us at Manassas, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.
Among these men was Sheridan, whose division at Chickamauga, had melted before us in the wildest panic. We had killed, wounded and captured more of that army than our own numbered since the campaign opened in May, 1864, and what mattered it if they were now seven to one, recruited with bounty loving foreigners. But it was done Gen. Lee had said so. I told my comrades I should desert and go to Johnson's army, and going to Colonel Latrobe, Longstreet's Chief of Staff, I told him I intended to desert. I remember I wondered then,
that he did not order me to be shot, but he refused to tell me the best way to get out, saying that his parole forbade that; I insisted that he tell me where the fewest Yankees were, and he finally waved his riding switch towards the Southeast.
By wading down a mill stream fringed with willows, which screened me from observation, I passed the enemy's lines, but in the evening, while passing through a large field, which I could not avoid a foraging party of Michigan cavalry captured me and carried me to their commander, Gen. Custer who, among other questions, asked me what I would do now, if I had my way. "Put powder under both armies and blow them to perdition!" was the reply. "Said he, "If you have not enough of fighting I have a man here who will give you enough!" and he called out, "Tom! Tom! when there arose a Michigan trooper who seemed to be at least seven feet high. I said to Gen. Custer: "As I am very tired, I will take a seat while you make game of a prisoner," and took a seat on a pile of wood prepared for his evening fire. He immediately ordered me sent to the provost guard who shared with me the Virginia ham and coffee - all they had. Two days later I was permitted to return to my comrades, received my parole and started moneyless, ragged, and without rations, on the tramp to Alabama.
My company, the Columbus Guards, entered service on 16th April, 1861, with 114 names on its rolls. Thirteen, of whom only eight bore arms, surrendered at Appomattox.
Forty years ago, on a bright sunny Sunday, the remnant of the wan, haggard and starving legions that had followed Lee, surrendered at Appomattox. These returned to the places that had been home, many to find houses burned, cattle and horses stolen, fences destroyed - all without money and without means to keep the wolf of starvation from the door. Later returned those who had been kept in prison, some from Fort Delaware, near the City of Brotherly Love, where, by an order of the war department, only one-fourth rations were issued to them, and they had watched noble fellows die of starvation in a land teeming with plenty, rather than take the oath of allegiance.
So dire was the need in some regions that the returned soldier often saw his children crying for bread. One gallant man in Virginia was in such straits that the faithful old colored butler went to him and told his former master to sell him to get means to live on. When told that he was free, and that no one could be held in slavery, he replied, that he would work for his new master and never claim his freedom.
Another, of Bibb County, Alabama, now of this city, used the belt of the sword he had captured from a Federal Captain at Petersburg, to piece out the harness of a plow mule.
It is hard now to realize the extreme poverty of the land. The noble people of Baltimore sent thousands of bushels of corn as a gift to the suffering
people, but they could not supply all, and the wrecked railroads could not reach the more remote regions.
We were a subjugated people, and, so far as the majority of the ruling party can make it, we are yet ruled as a subjugated people, and no region of similar size in the civilized world has been worse misgoverned than the South. In 1860 there were only 225,000 free negroes residing in the North, whilst there were 355,000 residing in the slave-holding section. In the greed of power, in order to hold the whites in subjugation so as to exploit the Southern States for the vile carpetbagger, and worse scalawag, the ruling party deprived a large element of whites of their votes, and made voters of millions of Africans. Then, finding that the unconquerable spirit of race supremacy would not yield to social equality, the same party attempted to pass force bills which in varying forms is yet a favorite scheme to preserve party power and the colored voter, the bloody shirt, the wrongs of the negro, fancied or real, are yet used by the ruling party to retain power.
But the chickens are going home to roost, and there are now 1,750,000 negroes residing in the North. For a time their votes held the balance of power in Indiana, Ohio and Illinois. But for their votes West Virginia, Maryland and Delaware would be swept from the grasp of the ruling party.
For forty years, the same length of time the children of Israel were kept wandering in the wilderness, the emancipated colored man has been cultivated, enlightened and made a citizen. Out of its dire poverty the South has paid taxes to educate the
negro in the common schools, without any aid from other sources. Northern philanthropists have given aid to colleges for negroes, but not one colored person in 5000 is reached or affected by these schools. Every Southern man, however poor, has paid a thousand fold more in proportion to his means towards educating the negro in the common schools than Mr. Roosevelt or any other of the dominant party, unless it be those who have property in the South. What thanks do we get? What reward have we?
The consciousness of duty done may be reward for some, but in the face of the continual nagging, the ever running sore, the contention that we are unjust and the enormous hypocricy of the accusations made against the South, the average man wants a change. The Northern people are so much wiser than we, so much more religious and patient, it is but fair that they take the negro to their section and keep him for the next forty years. He has so many more advantages there that it should be very attractive to him. The Philadelphia papers say that he can vote four times a day in that city and get paid every time. Some time he can marry whites. He can ride on the street car in the same seat with whites, eat at the hotels and sometimes break into society.
Let them go North at the rate of half a million a year. Encourage them to go. There need be no fear that our lands will lie untilled. A few years ago there was a cry of want of labor in the black belt, because many negroes had gone elsewhere, but now lands in that section are higher priced and more in demand than at any time since the war. The natural
growth of our population will offset the decrease of the negro, and it is better that our young men stay in the homes of their birth than to go west, and better to have them here than the negro, or foreign immigrants. The North has had charge of the negro politically for forty years at long range, and it is but fair to them to take charge of his morals, education and civilization at close range.
From Manassas it is seven miles to the battle ground. The whole country, including the fields of both battles is fenced in with substantial wire and post, and the land, being poor, is mostly used for grazing. The farm houses, which compare favorably with the better residences on the Highlands are generally situated one-fourth or half a mile from the roads with an avenue flanked by old cedars in front. After a time, we saw in the woods near the road a
board inscribed, "Gen. Kirby Smith was wounded near here," and another told that Gen. O. B. Wilcox was also wounded near that point. Where the celebrated Henry House stood is now a two-story house, and on the gate is a board from which one learns that fifty cents admission is charged. Further down our road, which was the Sudley Ford road, crossed the pike which figured so extensively in both battles leading across the stone bridge over Bull Run, past Centerville to Alexandria. The stone house has been greatly improved by new mortar and a metal roof portico in front makes it appear to great advantage.
battle, and who was condemned to death for alleged refusal to obey Pope's celebrated 4 p. m. order to attack Johnson's right flank, when Longstreet had superior numbers in the way.
When I tried to describe the place where I was wounded, he told me that owing to wire fences it would be hard to get there, and like the hospitable Virginian took it for granted I was to take dinner with him. He had started to Sudley church, but talk detained him until the people returning from church came past us, and we drove southward on the pike, now a wretched road, as the rocks have scattered in all direction. Groveton is just one and one-eighth miles from the stone house, and here another private road intersects. On the way is a neat substantial iron-fenced cemetery, the inscription on the gate being, "Confederate dead, 1861-1862." There is only one grave marked in the inclosure. It was that of "James J. Palmer, S. C., killed Aug. 30, 1862." There are over five hundred buried in the cemetery, and the cost was borne by an association of the Daughters of the Confederacy.
sit right down." There was an abundance of chicken apple sauce, etc., but when I came to pay the bill I was mortified to meet her refusal to take anything from a Confederate, but I compromised by leaving something for the Confederate cemetery. The name of my hostess was Mrs. M. E. Dogan, born at Sudley Ford, where McDowell crossed in '61 on his flank movement, and moving to Groveton after the war. She owned the surrounding land, including the old railroad cut behind which Jackson's men fought for three days in '62. On her land some Northerners had erected a monument inscribed, "To the patrotic dead who fought here," but somebody has carved "Confederate" before the word "dead." Giving me particular directions as to wire fences and gates, I left the good woman - so typical of the splendid Virginia hospitality, the remembrance of which yet warms the hearts of men who fought with Lee.
After a time, with much opening of gates, I came to the spot where I was wounded in August, '62. There was the little branch flowing over stones, the hills, the bottom, the gulley where I lay after my hand was tied up, and in the distance the crest over which Toombs' brigade and the Washington artillery charged. All was correct but the Chinn house where I lay in the portico. Through another gate I went there, and the clever Virginian informed me that the house had been burned since the war, and the handsome new house faced in a different direction. I found the well which had been filled, and knew my bearings perfectly then. When we came near the field from Manassas Gap in the morning, our brigade was thrown out to oppose Fitz John Porter, and with the skirmishers I lay in an apple orchard beyond the crest overlooking the battlefield, for
about twenty-seven hours. Rosser brought up his battery near the house, and about 4 p. m. of the last day opened on the enemy near three-fourths of a mile distant. Out of the house came a pale woman carrying an infant screaming as if the day of judgment had come. Behind her came a succession of children from two to fourteen years, all screaming. Ferguson and I, throwing down our guns, took up some infants and ran to the rear with them. The poor woman bandaged my hand that night, but I can find no trace of her now. The house was afterwards burned.
and the boulders of Devil's Den, which saved the northern army from defeat, better than the plains of Manassas where nature opposed no obstacle in its favor. The postoffice near the battlefield is named Wellington, a station on the Manassas Gap R. R., which now runs to Harrisonburg.
There are no monuments beside those mentioned on the field. The little marble column erected to Bartow, where he fell, near the Henry House, disappeared piece-meal from the attacks of the relic hunters before the second battle was fought.
In a few years none will be left to point out the positions of regiments in the respective battles. The Fifteenth Alabama occupied the old railroad and so severely were they pressed that clubbed guns and rocks were freely used by both sides. The federal color bearers waved their flags over the heads of our men and in one place broke through the line. Ask any of that regiment and they will tell you of the shouts that went up when Longstreet's cannon told that help had come to save Jackson's men from the overwhelming numbers which Pope had thrown against them for three days. An eye witness tells me that he was present when Longstreet, from the hills nears Groveton, saw three lines of battle march against Jackson, and ordered up the artillery, telling them to fire into the rear line. My informant climbed a persimmon tree and saw the line waver and break, for it was an enfilade fire, which no troops can resist Then came the order to fire into the second line, which broke and fled. The first line met such a fire from the front that it soon followed the others.
The contractors who are double-tracking the Southern from Washington to Orange have about 2,500 negroes from Birmingham and Montgomery in their employ, and in places work night shifts by electric lights.
The Virginians say that our Alabama darkies are hard cases, who fight with razors, get drunk, shoot craps, and cut up in a surprising way. One went to a farmer whose home is on the battlefield of Brandy Station and wanted work. When he asked what he could do on a farm, he said he could pick cotton, although there was none in a hundred miles. I assured them that the contractors usually got the riff raff from the cities, and we hope they would send them to their bosom friends in Boston.
The sublime superiority in wisdom and morals of some of these negro pholists prevents them seeing
that their ill-timed and unwise efforts to destroy racial feeling hurt the negro. About 1872-3 negroes became so wrought up by the "God and Morality" teachers, that they became unbearably insolent.
In Hayneville, the young buck negroes would lock arms and refuse to give up the sidewalk to whites meeting them. A gentleman of this city, then living in Montgomery, tells me that escorting his sister to church on Sunday, he was compelled to carry a pistol in his hand. Four or five buck negroes would lock arms across the sidewalk, and make white ladies and their escorts take the gutter.
The result was, that a number of foolish negroes lost their lives, and the trouble subsided. When McKinley appointed negro postmasters in little villages in Georgia and South Carolina, where little girls and women had to come in contact with thick-lipped Africans, some other negroes lost their lives. The negro, Indian and Chinaman always get the hot end of the poker in conflicts with the Caucasian.
When pyramids, and such are the races of men, come in collision, their bases first meet, and it is in the lower strata, the foundation stones, where the prejudice, if you call it such, is strongest. Half the Indian wars were caused by unruly whites, and most negro riots originate with the unruly classes of both races, although the negro is inspired by the teachings of men near the top of the white pyramid to claim more than nature, education or position give them. The new crusade will cause some more foolish negroes to lose their lives and the wheels of progress will move along in their destined way, and the Confederate and his posterity will cling to the faith that this country ought to be ruled by the white man. Northerners who live among us, and who are not
here for politics, are of the same opinion, only that they out-Herod Herod and are less patient than we, with the brother in black.
There is one feature of soldier life which has both a sad and ludicous side. I refer to straggling. Even in the best disciplined armies, well fed and clad, there are men who will slip out into the woods or darkness, cut across the country and forage for buttermilk and dainties as well as substantials. Although we had rear guards, provost guards, and all the machinery, one can well believe that the soldiers who were seldom well fed or clad would with the best intentions and under lax discipline, leave the ranks and hunt for food. They seemed to know by instinct the by ways and nigh cuts, and on the march from some high hill, we could see streams of them going to the houses, never afraid of dogs, for the latter seemed awed into submission, and always approaching the back door like a tramp for that was the nearest way to the pantry or kitchen. Usually they got all the cold victuals and buttermilk about the house, sometimes a ham, live fowls, apple butter or honey, but after Virginia had been harried by both armies, new plans had to be invented to coax food from those patriotic and splendid Virginia women. Generally the straggler wanted something for his "sick captain," and for a long time that was a winning dodge. Sometimes when there were no eatables in the house the straggler would accomodatingly wait all night, assured that the family would borrow a meal somewhere, perhaps from hidden stores. Whilst we lay famishing for days in Maryland with the unfavorable Potomac at our backs, the boys would take their ramrods and probe into the gardens and discover cans of preserves, apple butter, and other good things
buried against the coming of such visitors. It is a wonder, that with so much straggling, our commanders could count their forces for battle, but on the first sound of cannon the noble army of stragglers would hasten their steps, and inquire for the whereabouts of their respective commands, and go in to dare and to die. As we lay the third day on a knob under a heavy fire from Little Round Top at Gettysburg, the enemy's cavalry charged around our right into the wheat field in our rear. With shouts and waving of sabers which flashed in the July sun, they came on gallantly. We gathered and loaded all the scattered guns left around us by dead friends or foes, and prepared to fight front and rear. The captain of an Augusta (Ga.) battery charged down on the cavalry with his guns pouring in rounds of cannister. Then the nobility of the straggler shone forth. From every rock, and shade and brush, and out of the wheat, could be seen little puffs of smoke, where the straggler, angry that mere cavalry disturbed his repose, was pouring in his fire. The federal commander, Colonel whose commission as brigadier general came next day, was shot down by a straggler, and when two of them tried to take him, he wounded one with his pistol, and was killed by the other. The Fourth Alabama was faced about, went to the edge of the field, gave the federals one volley, and the survivors fled. The whole was as distinctly seen by us as the actors on the stage of the theater, and honors seemed to be equally divided among the artillery, the Fourth Alabama, and the stragglers, as every one of the latter I saw was running towards the enemy and firing as fast as he could load.
Two of the fraternity tried all their powers of persuasion on an obdurate old woman, but could get no eatables, positively, she had not a thing eevn for her own people. Finally one of them asked to be allowed to make some rock soup which aroused her curiosity, and permission was given. A few small rocks were nicely washed, put into a kettle of water, and set on the fire. When nearly boiling they asked for a pinch of salt, which the old lady gave them, then they wanted just a little lard or butter and it was furnished. After the mixture was stirred awhile, they wanted a little flour or meat with which addition they had a tolerable dish of "rock soup" to the great surprise of the good woman. Of course all of us occasionally shared in the results of these foraging expeditions, even though procured for "my sick captain." If one is very hungry his conscience does not discriminate so nicely as does that of the well-fed preacher. It is the cold truth too, to say that many times the owner was not consulted about the disposition of his property, and if a straggler came in with a piece of fat hog still warm and the hair on it, he would say in explaining, that the hog tried to "bite" him, and wear a very meek expression, as if it had been painful for him to strike in self defense. A fish hook baited with a grain of corn, and properly attached to a line thrown into a farm yard, often caused a very unwilling fowl to follow a very innocent-looking straggler off to camp, and suffering cows were often relieved of their milk by sympathetic soldiers who longed for home comforts. I saw one milked into a canteen, no other vessel being in reach.
I never tried straggling but three times. Down in the edge of Dismal Swamp, N. C., Joe Bathune and I
went to a country house, were invited all dirty and unkempt into the parlor, and presently a most charming woman, dressed in silk, with manners which would have graced a queen, came in, and we were greatly abashed to tell her that we wanted dinner, and Joe had to do the talking. We were treated to an elegant dinner, but I have never recovered from the self abasement I felt on that occasion. She was a graduate of Salem college, and performed beautifully at the piano, as Joe said, and his father was the owner of Blind Tom. Another time I set out, walked miles, failed to get any food, returned to find the command gone, and hunger, fatigue and heat nearly overcame me before I caught up, and we had to go twenty-five miles further without food or halt. I slept walking that night, that is for an instant or two, maybe longer. I lost consciousness as we made our weary way, and again I would have stolen bread if there had been bread to steal. This completed my personal experiences in straggling.
From accounts it seems that discipline among the cavalry that served in North Alabama was lax, and tales of the "buttermilk rangers" were common enough. There is no doubt but that the efficiency of our armies was greatly lessened by straggling, but when one remembers the scant rations, the wonder is that more of it was not done.
But the most unfortunate, and sometimes very serious evil arose in the moment of victory. During an attack on the enemy when they would be flying in haste, some of our men would stop to gather the spoils, in the way of eatables, clothing, blankets, canteens, etc., and thus time would give for the enemy to form or bring up reinforcements.
Early's attack on Sheridan's army at Fisher's Hill, October 19,1864, was a complete success. The sleeping enemy were aroused and fled in dismay, but the cooks were preparing the morning meal, and the smell of the hot coffe and fried bacon was too much for the famished heroes, and they stopped to plunder. Commands, curses, entreaties availed not to get close pursuit, thus giving time for the routed foe to form another line and Sheridan to come from Winchester. The victory was turned into defeat, and Early lost not only the captured cannon, but most of his men. It is said that afterwards, whilst on the march, some of his hungry men shouted at him, "Rations!" and his reply was, "Fisher Hill, G-d d-m you." After Appomatox, I asked of a citizen at the little village of Rocky Mount, Va., directions to go to Georgia, and he pointed out a man dressed in citizens clothes heavily bearded, with a slouch hat sitting on the steps of a closed law office. He took a pencil and gave me a way bill of the principal roads, ferries and towns on the way
When I thanked him, he raised his head, and I saw the eyes of the magnificently brave Early, Lee's trusted Lieutenant. I thought of Marius sitting amid the ruins of Carthage.
Rocky Mount was Early's home. With the aid of his directions, I made my way along the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge, sustained by the aid of poor, but worthy people, who had little to give except corn bread, buttermilk, and occasionally fried eschalots, all of which I like yet, perhaps because country bred, perhaps because of gratitude. Bill Young of the Seventeenth Georgia was my companion, and we crossed the Yadkin, the Congaree and the Catawaba, tramping till nightfall, resting on oilcloths captured
in by-gone fights, by little camp-fires, to be off at early dawn, tramping again until some house was found to give an homely and scant breakfast. In order to reach Spartanburg, S. C., we must go over forty-four miles in one day. About sundown Young went to a house near the road and brought back a canteen and a quart cup filled with buttermilk. I took a sip or two, and against my protest he emptied the cup and before we had gone a quarter of a mile he showed the same symptoms as a foundered horse. I assisted him to the next house, a painted one, too, and the good Samaritans doctored Young, put us, against our protests, in a feather bed, and before day we were off in time to catch the first train over the fragment of a railroad Sherman had partially destroyed, but which, although pointed to Charleston, carried us nearer home and gave Young a chance to recover from "foundering," as I shall always contend it was. Traveling part of the day, we walked across to strike another fragment of railroad which took us to Abbeville, from which we walked forty-two miles to Washington, Ga. On the way we met trains of wagons drawn by Confederate mules, fat and sleek. We should have taken a pair or a dozen then and there, but the sense of discipline was still strong and we left them to be surrendered.
Young left me to go to his Georgia home, and I have never heard of him since, whilst I went on to Alabama to meet relatives, friends, reconstruction, carpet-baggers, and had not a dollar in the world.
But I never will forget the kindness of those homespun people along that road, who divided their food with us. There is not one of Lee's army today who will not give all praise to the noble, generous hospitable Virginians who shared their all with the hungry
soldier. I never entered a private house in Richmond, nor knew a citizen, but sick comrades told such tales of their pitying kindness, their whole-souled hospitality, that we loved the town, and maybe loved it more because the yankees hated it so much. If love was shown by toil and sweat and blood, then, indeed, you may know we loved Richmond on the James. More than half the hurts I got were within sight or sound of cannon of the besieged city. The remembrance of that long tramp when six hundred miles away from home, without a dollar, without food, ragged and dirty, I found charity among the poverty stricken people, makes my heart warm towards the forlorn tramp who says he is hungry. In many years law practice of a varied sort, I have never cried in the court house but twice, and one of the times was when, without fee, I was making an appeal for a forlorn tramp, convicted by an over-righteous justice because he asked for bread. Telling the court that I, too had once begged for bread, I looked up and the tears were coursing down the cheeks of the old judge, and the speaker lost his voice in sobs. The tramp got free, even the negro constable who guarded him, contributing his mite to feed and send him on his way.
When, in 1864, we heard that Sheridan was burning all the mills in the valley and shooting the milch cows, the only hope for sustenance for innocent babes, there were deep curses from men who had been hospitably treated by these people, and a darker page might have been added to history had the brute who boasted that a "crow must carry his rations if he flew over the valley,' had fallen into the hands of our indignant men. Doubtless he was seeking revenge
for that day at Chickamauga, when his division ran in wild flight, throwing away their guns and knapsacks. He was on the winning side, hated the south, got promoted, and praise in books written then, but a hundred years hence history will give him his just deserts.
As the war progressed, every able bodied man between the ages of 16 and 50 was required to do military service, so that our ranks contained men of every kind, profession and calling. One man too old for conscription came as a substitute for a comrade who wanted to be transferred to cavalry, as also did another, Martin Etter by name, from Rogersville, Tenn. These two old men thrown with a set of youngsters, already inured to hard campaigning, had to endure a lot of chaffing and ridicule, but they were the most patient men I ever saw, and certainly made faithful soldiers.
They would get up early in the morning and build goof fires, fetch water and have everything ready for the young men who slept late to get up and cook breakfast for they always insisted on the veterans doing the cooking, but they would wait on us and help all they could, and were just as kind and faithful as we would let them be. Now and then one of the youngsters would overstep the bounds in his deviltry, and the old men would give him a tongue lashing which would put a quietus on us for a while. One of them was the most deliberate man in battle I ever saw. He would load and cap his gun in his own way, and then take a most deliberate aim, just as if drawing a bead on a squirrel and fire away.
One was hurt in the tumult of the last day at Petersburg, the other surrendered at Appomattox, and I never heard of either since. God rest their souls,
for they were brave, kindly and patient, and made few complaints, but their old bones could not rest well on the hard ground, and many a time have they got up in the silent watches of the cold night and replenished the fires which kept their "unruly boys" as they called us, from freezing.
We used to discuss the matter, but I never heard a satisfactory reason why the negro with a thicker skull and larger feet than the white man, should put his head next to the fire. Perhaps he is built that way and cannot help it.
These colored men were great foragers and brought in many eatables, but on hot days, whilst water was difficult to obtain on the march, they would often bring cool water to us in their canteens. If you go to reunions you will frequently see some of these faithful men, wearing Confederate badges, marching with their old masters and proud of the attention shown them. Whilst every able bodied man was in the army the colored man guarded his master's home, wife and children and raised crops to feed them and the army.
When Wilson's raid passed through Lowndes county, some of his followers hung a colored man to whom the jewelry had been entrusted for safe keeping, and his life was taken by thieving murderers because he was faithful to his trust. For many years the only marble tombstone over a colored man in the country marked his grave as a testimonial from his master, Capt. William May, to his fidelity. Another buried all the family watches and jewelry in a plum orchard, and after the raid passed restored them to his mistress. For many years and many a time his master or I would have to go and carry some little dainty, and inquire how Frank Streety was when sick. There was no use to suggest that a servant might be sent; the mistress of the house would not have any but a white messenger, no matter how weary he might be.
A party under the leadership of a commissioned officer, left Montgomery and went to Wetumpka, seeking Howell Rose, reputed to have a great store of gold. In fact he had entrusted $15,000 to each
of two neighbors, keeping a like amount, and each hoard was buried.
They siezed him at night in his own house, hung and otherwise maltreated him, but remaining obdurate, they stripped him, burnt splinters of pine till the ends were fiery coals and bored holes in his flesh with the live coals.
Failing to gain the desired information they left him more dead than alive, and whilst passing through a ravine on their return some crippled and furloughed soldiers waylaid them and mortally wounded the officer. A force was sent from Montgomery to revenge this outrage on union soldiers, but the commander happened to be a man and not a thief, and visited the dying robber in the warehouse where the citizens had removed him, and told him that he was a disgrace to the uniform he wore. Faithful slaves had given warning and enabled the cripples to avenge this outrage.
I have before me a copy of a letter, dated February 25, 1865, by Lieut. Thomas I. Myers, to his wife in Boston, in which he says he has about a quart of jewelry, some No. 1 diamonds, pins and rings among them, "for you and the girls," and tells how the officers dressed in citizens clothes when on their expeditions of robbery, and tells further how the "d----d niggers" preferred to stay at home.
lined the main street of Greencastle as we marched through, and waived their union flags and said a good many things, but the boys chaffed at them and had them all laughing. One buxom miss had a flag pinned on her bosom ,and a grizzled Texan called out to her to take it off, "For," said he, "we always take breastworks with the flag on them." The roar of laughter and shouts ran far down the line, and when we of the next brigade passed, the girl was still laughing, pretty and defiant.
I climbed a great cherry laden tree and was helping myself, when two women came out and talked and gesticulated violently, but as they spoke in Dutch I knew not if I was getting curses or blessings, but the probabilities were strongly against the latter.
One veteran tells me that whilst in a cherry tree a woman came out and pelted him with rocks until he fled for safety. Those cherries were tempting.
One day whilst camped near Chambersburg a very dirty looking boy soldier came along with a skeleton hoop skirt on. Not many of this generation ever saw one, but your grandmother will describe it. Some soldier gave me a white straw hat, but as we charged through the wheat field against Little Round Top, it was too conspicuous, and I sailed it far up in the air.
Our mess came out of the enemy's country with a porcelain lined preserving kettle, which boiled our beef through Virginia Chickamauga, East Tennessee and Virginia again until the surrender. Doubtless General Lee's order was disobeyed, but this is all the sacking or robbery I saw done, and such a thing as maltreating a citizen or insulting a woman would have been resented in no mild way by our own men. It was not even thought of. Bad men we had, but such a thing as systematic robbery of jewelry
could not have been done, any more than the old veterans would now engage in it.
I think the southern people were disposed to overlook the robbery and vandalism committed by Northern soldiers knowing that there were such men as McClellan, Rosecrans, Meade, Buell and Grant, who
neither practiced nor protected such conduct, but they have not forgotten nor forgiven the efforts to pass force bills and enforce social equality with the emancipated race by the worshippers of John Brown.
Twenty years ago I took the Independent, which prides itself on its breadth of view and cultured philosophy. For an unmanly fling at Jeff Davis I stopped the paper, though the editor in a note, said he regretted the matter. Last year I subscribed for the paper again, and in the second number was a brutal thrust at my people because we did not sit in the street cars and in church with the negroes.
Perhaps we should not be incensed at these little things, but, as Senator Vance once said in reply to a taunt from a negro lover in the senate, "Mr. President, the gentleman says we ought not to notice such small things, but I have been more troubled in my life by fleas than by elephants."
deeds, such as the massacre of Glencoe, yet live in the hearts of the people on the border land, and the fame of Flora Macdonald's devotion to Charles the Pretender, shines with a purer light than that of the bloody Duke of Cumberland. The name of the Duke of Alva is still used as a bogy to frighten Dutch children, and as the synonym of monster, but the heroism of the people who cut their dykes and caused the ocean to overwhelm their land before they would surrender their religion and their liberty, is yet the admiration of the world.
So, too, the grey haired Confederate confidently believes that Father Time, the great leveler, and Truth, though she moves with leaden feet, will proclaim the infamy of the men who would degrade themselves and their race by miscegenation and throw a halo of a glorified light on the memory of men who proudly upheld their race through years of misrule, oppression, hate and villification.
From constant life in the open air, for after the first year we seldom had tents, we grew to be weather wise. When we got ready to march in the early morning, if the fog was rising, we did not tie our blankets, but threw them loosely over our shoulders, confident that we should need their protection from rain before eleven o'clock. If, however, the fog was falling to the earth, each blanket was rolled up, the ends tied together, and it was worn horse-collar fashion over the shoulder. The men pulled their socks over the bottoms of the legs of their pantaloons to fend off the mud, and thus equipped, long lines of men might be seen on the march. Some of the monuments capped with a life sized Confederate, show an exact representation of the soldier thus arrayed.
If the rain came whilst on the march, the blanket was folded near the middle, a string or strap passed through and tied about the neck and the owner was kept dry to his knees. I do not think that I was completely drenched with rain half a dozen times during the war, and I did not own an umbrella for years afterwards as it seemed an useless sort of encumbrance, but civilization has in that sort rather contaminated me, and I sometimes carry one, though I feel like apologizing for it on slight provocation.
As we lay on our blankets we had fine opportunity to study the brilliant stars above us, and some of the men of superior attainments, would talk by the hour about the different constellations and the mythological fables with which the ancients surrounded those groups. One evening just after dusk) as we marched along the base of the Blue Ridge in the beautiful valley of Virginia, the newly risen full moon was obscured by an eclipse. It came so suddenly and the gloom was so pronounced, that a feeling of awe stole
over the men, and they became silent. We had not heard that an eclipse was due, and were inspired by some of the mystery and awe which savages feel when Heaven suddenly shuts out its light from man.
There were many fine bands in both armies. At Fredericksburg, the armies were on each side of the river, and at night the thousands of camp-fires were plainly visible. A federal band would play "Yankee Doodle," "Hail Columbia," and other tunes, and in the frosty air every note was distinct and clear. Then one of our bands from a hilltop would discourse "Dixie?" "Maryland," "Bonnie Blue Flag," each side applauding its music with ringing shouts. Then one side or the other would give "Annie Laurie," "Home, Sweet Home," and friend and foe alike joined in the applause to music and sentiments shared by all. It frequently happened that we heard these contests between bands of the opposing sides. General Grant to his honor be it said, ordered that no bands play at Appomattox, and there was very little or no shouting by the foe. The Second Georgia had one of the best bands in our army, and it frequently drew immense crowds to our evening parades. Sometimes the band would go to General Benning's camp-fire and give him a serenade, for the brave old man was deservedly popular. He would smoke his pipe and look in the fire while they played beautiful airs, until they were about ready to depart, when he would say: "Now, give us 'The Gal I Left Behind Me,' " and he would keep time with a vigorous patting of his foot whilst his favorite was being played, a distinction given no other air. The tune is over four hundred years old, but I wonder why this generation neglects what was so popular once, and in which there seems to be real music, to dally with "rag-time," coon songs,
and opera airs that nobody understands. But infant boys smoke cigarettes now, and infant girls drink wine and beer at suppers in public places, and, of course, music, like all things else, has changed.
Old Rock, as the boys loved to call General Benning, had been on the Supreme court bench of Georgia, was a wealthy planter, brave in battle, but had a good many oddities. Among them, he was very plain of speech, and would talk back in kind with compound interest to any of his men. He was leading us toward Fort Sanders at Knoxville, and as we marched by the left flank) my position was next to him as we came to a little branch flowing over the rocks. He halted the brigade, knelt down and drank deeply of the stream. As he arose, I called his attention to a dead horse which had fallen into and damned up the little stream just above, the water making its way through the fragments. He looked over his glasses at the object, wiped his mouth with the braid sleeve of his coat, and said: "I don't care a d--n, it was as good a drink of water as I ever had in my life. Forward, march." He was ever kind to his men, and on one occasion, took in person my application for furlough to General Longstreet, saying that one had been refused to him, but he would try for me, and he succeeded. After Appomattox he remained with his men as they made their way slowly to Georgia, and now there is a camp named in his honor in Columbus.
W. S. Shepherd commanded the regiment a great part of the time. He was, and is yet a bachelor, with plenty of this world's goods, and all the qualities that go to make a fine man, but rather reserved. In the campaign below Suffolk in '63, we were marching incessantly in the rain, and our fires at night were of pine wood, so that our uniforms and faces were colored with the soot most of the time. But some days we would go into camp early, and from far and near the people would come in carriages and on horseback to see the parade, and hear our splendid band. Colonel S., overcoming his timidity, stepped forward to assist a beautiful belle from her horse, but a company cook, a fine-looking fellow with clean clothes, pushed in front of him, and the gallant colonel had to retire in confusion. Some of the boys were mean enough to get close to the cook, who was an ignorant backwoodsman, and hear his discourse, which with sufficient exaggerations, was retailed about camp for many a day, but I never saw the colonel try to be gallant again, except in battle.
One captain in the regiment, from Ducktown, was said never to have worn a pair of shoes until he entered service. He was handsome and brave, and got a bullet through his calf when helping me to remove a wounded man from the burning Poe house at Chickamauga. Ex-Governor Candler and his father were both in our regiment. The latter had a great soul, with the most kindly manners. The boys used to say that on taking his company out to the daily drill, he would say, "Gentlemen of the Banks County Guards, will you drill up the road or down the road today?" I had a fistcuff in ranks as we were forming for dress parade one evning, but Sergeant Allen
separated us. After returning to our quarters, Captain Roswell Ellis made the company a speech, saying how mortified he was that gentlemen of the Columbus Guards should fight, and this was all the punishment we got. John Lindsay was put in the guard house for refusing to cut wood for the colonel, and in five minutes a hundred bayonets were fixed and guns loaded to go and get him out. The officers were greatly distressed, but to our relief John came up smiling, and there never was another Second Georgian called on to perform such service.
These incidents, and hundreds of others that might be given, will show what sort of discipline prevailed in much of the southern army. The officers recognized the fact that sometimes one company contained two dozen men, each the equal in wealth, education and social position to any general in either army. One Alabama regiment had one company containing twenty-two privates, each worth over a million dollars. These men might not submit quietly to punishment for slight infraction of discipline, they did get hungry, dirty and ragged, but when called on to march or charge double their numbers, they did it, inspired by sentimental of duty and patriotism, superior to any military discipline.
Troy, shot through the lungs, to be captured, carried to Washington, nursed to health by Sisters of Mercy, and live long as one of the leading lawyers of Alabama. Captain R. F. Manley of this city, then took command, and fell on the third line, struck on the, head by a rail, against which a shell exploded. Captured, he went to prison, where he read in the Richmond papers, his obituary, though he says it was grossly exaggerated, and that struggle as he may, he cannot live up to the good things said about him. Grant brought up fresh troops and overwhelmed their line, and we were hastily called from the extreme left.
Leaving the miserable mud-daubed earthen floor huts, where for months we had not one-third enough to eat, with ragged clothing and scant blankets, we marched to Richmond in the dead of night, and on the hills at Rocketts we could see the long trains of fire following the shells which were being fired into ill-fated Petersburg. Detained for some cause one the train at the bridge over the James, we reached Petersburg just before day, and at once marched out to its western borders, where the spiteful sound of picket firing and an occasional cannon shot crackled in the misty dawn and told us that the enemy had broken our lines. Ordered to the front, I went on till I came to an avenue bordered by low hedges, leading to a fine residence and in this I met General Lee alone on Traveller, head bowed on breast, and the Federal sharpshooters popping away at him, and some unsupported cannoneers he had just left. I begged him to dismount as he was so conspicuous, but he only looked at me and did not reply. I had never seen him with such a look on his face. Going to the cannon, I could see long lines of infantry extending
for miles in the open, and hurrying back I reported that our little brigade of eight hundred men could not halt their progress. My regiment lay behind the crest of a hill, and fought the advance, while the others cut down a bridge behind us. The sharpshooters took cover in front, and there was a savage, spiteful fight, until we heard the bridge fall, when we retreated, wading the chilly stream.
As we ascended the opposite hill in a laughing mood because of our escape, a bullet fired from the dormer window of a house struck the end of my middle finger, and the agony was like mashing your nail with a hammer. The nail came off, and that which replaced it, was never so good, as the first, and this day it requires a little attention, so I have with me a reminder of the tumult of that day. A. P. Hill, the only name mentioned by Lee and Jackson, as their senses wandered in their dying moments, was killed on that day, and in the distance we saw line after line, about 10,000 in all, charge a fort held by 230 of a Mississippi regiment, who, after their amunition gave out, fought with rocks, bayonets and clubbed guns, and only thirty unhurt men were captured. We lost some good men. Shepherd of Company E, Ballard of Company G. and others, but held the town till nightfall and commenced our fateful retreat to Appomattox.
and excellent soldiers. William Anderson was born of Quaker parents within twenty miles of Gettysburg. Of unfailing good humor, amiable and somewhat of a wag, he was a favorite. He was such a fop in dress, and had such fine manners, that the boys dubbed him "Prince of Wales," after the present King of England, who had visited this country just prior to the war. But he got to be as dirty and ragged as any of us, although he never complained.
At Yorktown, after we had been relieved from duty in the trenches and were supposedly out of danger, Prince was doing some sewing when a bullet struck him on the thigh. We ran to his aid, and gathered around him. His eyes always large were magnified and he had seized his leg with both hands pressing tightly to stop the flow of blood. With much difficulty we forced his hands away and found the spent ball had only made a blue spot. He was the first man in the company to get a wound, and it was his last, for he surrendered at Appomattox and lived long to enjoy life. The fortunes of war made him my comrade in the winter of '64-65, and we shared the same blankets.
He discovered that he had the seven years itch, which was not pleasant for me, but I never took it. On some one's advice he got a citizen to show him the root of a poke stalk, dug it up, chopped it into small pieces, boiled them in the camp kettle, and bathed himself in the decoction. He had used nearly a peck and it was very strong. In a few minutes he was in terrible agony, and whelks or great swellings as large as one's arm appeared all over him. The surgeon was sent for, and soon relieved him, but the itch was cured. Returning from a lonely scout about midnight I found him lying in the middle of
the hut stark naked, but feeling good as one who had just missed death. God rest the soul of Prince, and those other faithful Northerners who toiled, starved, fought and bled with the people among whom they had cast their lot. One of them served in the Sixth Alabama, was wounded and captured at Sharpsburg, was offered the chance to go to his home to remain without taking the oath, but he was exchanged, served through the war, and is yet one of the most useful men in the state as professor of mathematics at Auburn. Otis D. Smith has more friends among the young men than any one I know, and in an acquaintance of over forty years, I have never heard an unkind word or criticism concerning him.
Another, Baine of Lowndes, a powerful and popular lawyer, fell at the head of the Third Alabama before Richmond. There were great numbers of Northern men who shared our dangers, privations, defeat and reconstruction.
and the proud fellow cried with the agony and the fear that he would be missing when the fight came on. Judah P. Benjamin, our secretary of stat had not a superior in America. He became queen's counsel in England, and wrote a text book that is authority on two continents. Many of them served faithfully all through the war and through the more trying times of reconstruction. After the war, when plantations were ravaged, stock and farm implements gone and no credit, it is said that a Jew first established the system of giving credit on a mortgage on the crop to be grown, which enabled the poverty stricken Confederates to carry on their farming operations. It was the only source of credit in those days, and now forms part of our system of laws, though like other good things it has been badly abused. It is said that the plan of mortgaging the crops yet to be planted and grown came from Russia.
Two veteran Jews lived in Hayneville, and had many friends. One of them whilst suffering from rheumatism, was attacked by a youngster one day while sitting in front of his place of business. The son of a gentile veteran sprang to his rescue, and seizing the man by the throat, with his fist pounded the aggressor's head against the side of the house so vigorously that it was like beating tattoo on a drum. A son of the other Jew unfortunately, and by accident killed a negro in an altercation almost in my presence. I shall never forget how when I assured the old father that no jury would convict his son, he said whilst the tears streamed down his face, "Oh Billy, but there is blood guilt on my son." When the trial came on, almost every veteran in Lowndes
county was on the ground working or offering to work for their old comrade, and the jury did not stay out twenty minutes before acquitting the boy.
I remember one, a very smart fellow, who got discharged upon some pretext about the time that bullets and shells became familiar to us, but he was again pressed into service and fought at Olustee, Fla. The next time I saw him, he embraced me with fervor, and commenced telling me almost in shouts of his experience in battle. He said he did not know he could stand bullets and believed he was a d----d coward, but he got into the fight before he knew it, and the enemy commenced to run and he ran shouting and firing after them. Said he, "Billy, it was great. I found I was a hero. I wouldn't take anything for that battle." His joy was like that of a boy when he first swims or rides his pony.
I have before me a packet of letters written to his mother, wife and sisters by Phillip A. J. Harris, who has a son in this city proud of his father's record. He belonged to the famous Tenth Alabama and was from St. Clair county. The letters are dated from July, 1861, to the summer of 1864, and surely there is enough of the pathetic in them to touch the heart of any one. He writes that he is glad he went to the war, and never makes a complaint of an officer or man or of hard fare or dangers. After some of the fearful battles, he writes that some of his comrades, who were neighbors at home, have been killed, others wounded, but he never writes of the poetry or war, of the dashing charge, the booming cannon, but gives a simple narrative of events as if they were every day affairs.
In one he advised that a boy relative, ambitious to go to the war, be advised to stay at home and raise crops for the women and children. He frequently gives advice about farming operations and from camp near Orange courthouse in March 1864, tells his wife to be sure and plant a good crop of peas for, said he, they are selling at $80 per bushel. He frequently sent money home by furloughed soldiers, and wrote that he would send some cotton cards by express to Rome, Gal, the nearest express office. Think of it, the nearest express office a hundred miles away! He mentions "Jabe" Curry and Captain Caldwell. The last letter is from his brother and the saddest of all. It tells how the faithful man died in the hospital at Lynchburg, either from fever or from the erects of a wound received in the Wilderness, which caused the surgeons to resect or take out about three inches of the bone of his arm.
He was rational to the end, and his last words were of the wife and children. Like four-fifths of the Confederate Army, he was not a slave owner, perhaps none of his relatives were, but he belonged to the sturdy liberty-loving Anglo-Saxon stock who wrested Magna Carta from King John at Runnymede, under Cromwell crushed the tyranny of another English king, won King's Mountain and the Cow Peas against another, and for four years battled against gunboats, odds six to one, starvation and devastation, impelled by the same love of liberty. Some able men say that the next war will be along the line between labor and capital, but if it comes and if liberty be crushed, its last vestiges will be found along the Appalachian ranges in communities like St. Clair Co., where at court, one can hear the sheriff calling jurors and witnesses all day long and never a name among them not familiar in the British isles. The last census showed that one county in Alabama having over 30,000 population had only one foreign born citizen in its bounds, and the United States now has that one in a penitentiary for meddling with a colored man's pension.
who refused to give it up. The young man went to the acting secretary of war, himself a general who wrote a note to the possessor of the picture intimating the position he was in. The picture was restored and sold for $1500 which was all the family had for support, so dreadfully had they been robbed. But the "quart of jewelry," the thousands of rings, plate, watches and money, could not be recovered. When we read of the ship load of loot that came from the sacking of Pekin, and was stopped until duty was paid; of the fourteen diamond ring cases which went to the Supreme court of the United States, because they were imported from the Phillippines; of the sacred vessels taken from the churches, of the "water cure" torture, those of us who recall the days of 61-65 read between the lines that there has been looting in the Phillipines. It is inevitable in war that bad men have the opportunity to rob, but it is not calculated to win the respect of the islanders any more than that of the Southerners
But note the difference. Occasionally there is a court martial in the Phillipines on charges of brutality, and though no one is ever convicted, still an occasional newspaper sets up a cry against the evils done to unoffending natives and Senator Hoar sheds tears for them. But no one ever heard of a court martial or a cry of sympathy for the barbaraties practiced against whites in the south during the war. Some of the federal officers who were gentlemen, tried to protect people by placing guards at their houses, but so profound was the hatred towards the Southerner that he got no sympathy, he was white.
This leads me to speak of the feeling now prevalent in both sections. In common with the Confederates, I have been a law-abiding citizen, and would go
as far as the most vile South hater in the North to defend the country against foreign aggression. In everything that goes to make a loyal citizen, we are their equals, and in regard to respecting their prejudices, in not forcing negro equality on them in protecting them from Chinese immigration, and in not trying to loot the treasury by false and fraudulent pension claims, we can certainly compare favorably with them.
The larger newspapers and magazines in the North are leaving off their prating and pursuing a policy of letting us alone, which is the true way to bring about reconciliation, but it is not long since they all in heated campaigns advised their readers to "vote as they shot during the war," and even now the little country papers that we seldom see in this section, will cry the slogan, "vote as you shot" and any man who does not know that such feelings actuate
great masses of people in that section, is lacking in observation. It is not claimed that we are so free of prejudices that we are angelic, but our people are deeply grounded in the doctrine of state's rights, and believe that in everything not controlled by the general government, we ought to let other people manage their domestic concerns, and they should let us do the same. Apropos of our prejudices, if you call them such, when Smithson, who was doing a thriving law practice in this city was preparing to remove to a Northern city, he was asked by a brother lawyer why he was leaving. He answered in a tone almost pathetic, "Because a man has got to be a Democrat or a nigger in Alabama." So long as hatred, vindictiveness and prejudices govern and bind together one section, the other will instinctively join hands in self-defense.
armed foe, put iron manacles on a sick old man confined in the stone casemate of an impregnable fortress, every true son of the South felt the cowardly insult to be directed at himself, and felt as if he too was manacled and degraded in the person of his representative.
Then the victors demanded blood, and hung Wirz because of alleged cruelty to Andersonville prisoners who received the same rations as their captors and whose want of medicine was the result of the failure of their government to accept our offer to allow medicines and surgeons to be sent them. It was long afterwards before it was shown by the records at Washington in possession of the victors, that whilst but 12 per cent of Northern soldiers in our hands died in prison, 16 per cent of Southern soldiers died in Northern prisons, in a land teeming with abundance. There are many living witnesses my own brother among them, to the barbarities starvation and cruelties practiced on prisoners in the North, generally it is true by the home guards who had never seen a battle, but it was done and the South had to submit quietly to seeing an innocent man hanged on a false charge. If these things indicated a wish for reconciliation, it was of the kind practiced by Indians, who turned over helpless captives to their women to be tortured with fire.
substituted in its place. Again it was found that not all the generals would consent to be brutes, and then came negro political equality, which was as degrading to the oppressor as to the oppressed. Then came so-called elections in which almost all the intelligence of the South was studiously disfranchised and the days of reconstruction and the carpet baggers brought bankruptcy to states, municipalities and individuals. The robbers of the war time, got in their work in those days by issuing state and county bonds, and it was seen that the so-called philanthrophy which gave the negro voting bond issues for his charitable friends whose charity was directed to robbing a helpless people, always provided they and not the negro got the proceeds of the robbery. These kindly attempts at reconciliation were kept up for several years, and only stopped because there was nothing more to steal from impoverished states.
Then we have sustained numberless attempts to have "force bills" designed to provide social equality, but be it said in his honor that great Pennsylvania, Randall, prevented this extreme of cruelty, which never an Arab, Roman or Indian dreamed of as a method of tortue. It was the refinement of cruelty, the climax of tortue, the invention of small souls rendered desperate by their failure to invent other methods of making life horrible to the people they had robbed of everything save honor. The Supreme court of the United States, placed as it is above the methods of the low politician, its members secure for life in their position, and in the cold, clear light of law, with the knowledge that history and time will adjudge their opinions, have wisely thwarted
the attempts of these malcontents to interfere with social and domestic relations, but what do we think of them as lovers of peace and humanity?
The Romans tolerated the religions and prejudices of all the conquered nations of the world, and their gods found an honored place in the Pantheon. When the Jews rebelled because the eagles, the symbols of conquest, were placed in the holy temple at Jerusalem, they were withdrawn, and it was death for a Roman to enter the sacred precincts. Caesar, Alexander and Napoleon, not only tolerated but respected the traditions of people whom they conquered. Of late, conquering England gave the defeated Boers
terms which astonished the world by their liberality, and it is reserved to one section of the United States to maintain the most liberal, not to say barbarous views towards people of their own race. These views are committed to writing, not as an apology, nor as a defense, for the Confederate needs neither the one nor the other, but the prevalent beliefs of a people are facts, and by their results are moulded into history.
In 1860 I traveled by private conveyance through a part of Georgia, Florida and South Alabama. One
Saturday I was in one of the towns in an Alabama county, now the center of thrift, education and prosperity. There was an old fashioned square or plaza with the court house in the center, and clustered around the square were lawyer's offices, stores and barrooms, or groceries as they were then denominated.
In the evening two young men got to quarreling and cursing each other vigorously, and a crowd, among whom were the sheriff and various county officers, surrounded them. The young men stripped to their waists, apparently did everything imaginable to bring on the fight. They shook their fists in each other's faces and used shocking profanity; boasted of what each could do to the other, until in my innocence, I fully expected to see one or both killed. Finally one of them said to the other: "Your granddaddy was a d----d Tory in the Revolutionary war." The other replied: "And your granddaddy plead the baby act (infancy) in South Carolina, and d--n you, I can prove it." This was the straw that broke the camel's back, and they begun fighting so furiously that both were soon covered with blood. The crowd stood and watched until the combatants were out of breath, and then separated them. No weapons except nature's own were used, and it seemed to be a matter of course for the fight to go on and nobody was arrested. The incident is recalled in order to show that old memories are likely to retain a strong hold on people, and further show what changes have taken place. To be called the descendant of a Tory was a great insult, just as our grand children will be insulted by being told that their ancestors were rebels or unionists.
Again it was an insult to be told that one's ancestors had plead infancy to avoid a debt. Now our young men fight, or more frequently do murder with pistols, and too many will not only plead infancy, but claim exemptions to avoid the payment of honest debts. Prior to 1860 a respectable young man could get a loan of money to start business on his plain note, and I contracted debts of hundreds of dollars before I was 18 years of age, but I never heard of any one trying to avoid payment. What a happy thing it would be if with our street railways, electric lights, imigration and fine imported manners we could have preserved some of the old-fashioned ways of paying debts, without waive notes and mortgages, and fighting with fists instead of with pistols.
In the humble cottages, as well as the stately mansions of the black belt, the mistress of the house or her daughters, who never traveled farther than the nearest market town, always rise when a visitor leaves the room, and one with the graciousness of a princess, follows him to the door; but the fashionable girl, who got her manners in "Nu Yok," shakes hands as if her arm was a pump handle, and lets her guest find his hat, overcoat, and his way out the front door as best he can. Now we hear of scandals, lawsuits for breach of promise and seductions, when such things used to be treated with a shot gun or silence.
If an editor was not very careful in mentioning the name of a lady in his paper, there was a prospect of a horsewhipping for him, but now every arrival is chronicled as the "most lovely and accomplished" until all are on a dead level in the social
columns. Even the shape, color and material of the "gowns" are set forth, on all occasions, forgetful that in the show windows are finer dresses, less paint, and better rounded shoulders on the smirking wax figures. Many of these things are the result of the demoralization following the war. When the Normans conquered England, it was the conquered who impressed their manners, customs, language and laws on the victors, but in the cities of the south what is worst in the manners of the victors is being adopted and what is good is not copied. But in the country the changes are not so apparent and the stock that sturdily withstood the Norman will long preserve the traditions of the old South in its respect for women, and its love for home, of simple, honest life, and its hospitality to the strange guest. I have traveled much in the country, and it is an invariable rule that the weary stranger is asked to go and see his horse fed, and if the master did not go he at once fell in the estimation of his host. Many a time have I on taking my departure, and asking for my bill, had for reply, "All I charge you, stranger, is the next time you come this way you must stop with us again." If one came to a broken down vehicle, or wagon stalled in a mud hole, and did not stop and offer to assist the unfortunate countryman, he was liable to be thought of as a meanly disposed person.
Whilst journeying from one court to another, with my silk hat and store clothes on, I have dismounted, and in the mud with a fence rail, assisted in prizing wagons out of the mire, and whilst the country men were not effusive in their gratitude, their looks and manners indicated that they thought that I was a fellow whom they could tie to, and my heart warms
yet at the recollection of the manly way some of these farmers accepted the trifling help I gave them.
The great majority of men have the courage to make good soldiers, and it was rather the exception that a man behaved badly under fire. In one company of the Second Georgia were three brothers, whose name I will not call, for they are now thrifty, well to do and respected citizens of Alabama. Two of them had always been quiet boys, and made excellent soldiers, but the elder had been before the
war a notorious fighter. He had whipped every fighting man in his neighborhood, and if he heard of another twenty miles distant he would hunt him up and provoke a fight, so that he was notorious as a bully in his section. This was before the day of pistol "toting," and there was seldom any malice between the bullies, but this brother made a poor soldier, and shirked every battle until late in 1863. On the French Broad in Tennessee, as the lines were forming to charge an ugly hill from which the bullets came in a spiteful way, his captain requested that two men might be sent from my company to him, and John Hicks and I went and received orders to place ourselves behind this man, and if he started to run to shoot him. As the line moved forward he looked over his shoulder at us and evidently understood matters, but he went with the line into what proved to be a very small fight, as the enemy fled before we got a chance to punish them.
When I was shot in the hand at second Manassas, Tom Geasley tied it up with my handkerchief, and told me to get into a little gully just in the rear of the line. From a hill at short range a New York brigade was pouring bullets like hail on us, and having nothing to do but look on they seemed to me as thick as rain drops in a shower. The depression soon filled up with men, and a staff came along rousing the men and imploring them to get up and fight. Severel showed him they were wounded. I held up my bloody hand, and he came to the next who was not hurt. Said he, "My God! What will the men do if the officers run out of the fight!" and shook the man by the shoulders. The officer turned up his pitiable pale face and said: "I - I can't - can't fight." This was the only battle in which I was in
the rear of the fighting line, and all the missles seemed to be aimed at me, and the sight of the wounded men running to the rear was demoralizing to such an extent that I would prefer a front place, where one could occupy himself in scaring the other fellow. It relieves the situation mightily when you can give blow for blow, and know the other fellow is just as badly scared as you are.
decided - and what a fool I was - that I must fight somebody, and when the next remark was made about me I squared myself before the great big fellow and demanded an apology, expecting to get a good beating, but to my great relief he apologized in the most gentlemanly manner. It had the effect of stopping the ridicule, but I still did not know if I would fight. Some months afterwards George A- suddenly provoked me into striking him, and almost before I knew it I was in a fisticuff, and to my great astonishment I stood up to it until the officers separated us. Afterwards I was under fire from gunboats, pickets, in the trenches at Yorktown, at Seven Pines, and in the beginning of the battles around Richmond, but always under such circumstances that I did not see anything to run from, and anybody else that tried to run, so I began to believe that I could stand fire as well as the average man, and you can rest well assured it was a great comfort. Finally came the supreme test at Malvern Hill, when sick and with a surgeon's certificate in my pocket, our long line, under the sultry sun, advanced through an open field against seventy cannon supported by thousands of infantry, armed with long range rifles against our smooth bore muskets. We passed some of our cannons dismounted, the wheels town to pieces and littered with shreds of human flesh, stepping over the mangled bodies of the cannoneers. I remember that I felt gratified to keep my pace in the front rank as we went onward up the long slope through that hell of fire. Getting close to the enemy, who were concealed by the smoke we moved by the left flank, crossing over a fence, and there lay down and were told not to fire, an order which I disobeyed, as I could plainly see as the guns blew
away the smoke the blue artilleries, and I did not want to be murdered in cold blood. Directly I raised up, looked around and found my comrades gone, except the noble Porter who was shot through the head, and going to the rear I met Lucius Johnson, who did not know what had becomee of the regiment, which for want of leadership in our generals, had refused to lie still and be killed for nothing. In a piece of thicket just to the rear was a South Carolina major calling on the men to rally, and, admiring his pluck, I stopped with him, as did Hucks, another of my company. He got together forty-seven men and led us up the hill which 10,000 had tried in vain to take. We went about as far as the main line had gone and our game cock major ordered us to lie down, at which I was surprised, for he seemed willing to attack alone the whole Yankee army. The cannons still belched forth their whirlwinds, and about dusk one struck me on the thigh, which was blue and black for weeks. Some of Jackson's troops came to our support in the night, but the enemy retreated, and the next morning with a musket for a crutch and desperately sick, I searched for my command. Feeble as I was I could not resist the feeling of intense satisfaction arising from the knowledge that I had gone as far to the front as anybody else, and that I had remained all night close to the enemy. In fact I considered it a settled question that I could do my part in a battle, but up to that time I had not known it for a fact.
A furlough, home comforts and doctoring prepared me for second Manassas, where we were better led, and my regiment acquitted itself with credit. Led the same way at Malvern Hill we would
have taken the position. These are the honest confessions of a boy who did not know whether he could fight or not until he was tried in the fire. If the young men of the present generation were called on to endure the same experience - which God forbid - they would note disgrace their ancestors, but the topers, the cigarette smokers and the gamblers would play out of the game, just as they fall by the wayside in their battles of banking, rail-roading, merchandising, law, farming, and medicine ,and just as they did in 61-65. But one baptism of fire did not make a hero and in '63, '64 and '65 as the shells and bullets began to fly around us, the flesh felt the same tremblings and aversions to the danger. You have all seen a frightened horse, and how senseless he is, but a man or a lot of men in a panic have less reason than a runaway horse, and I have laughed and grown mad by turns at men who were flinching from the searching shells and bullets. I saw Jim DuBose, who weighed about one hundred pounds, at Chickamauga, put his bayonet to the breast of a fleeing colonel twice his weight and curse him soundly, and yet the same Jim, whilst on a lonely vidette post on the Darbytown road, fired at a covey of partridges made restive in the bushes by the intense cold. My brigade had proven themselves veterans on many a bloody field, had resisted odds of ten to one at Sharpsburg and Richmond, had taken breast works and batteries from odds, yet as we were marching one starlit night outside our lines through the thick woods to flank the enemy, a little muddy stream, crossed only by a foot log, delayed our march, and passing it I suddenly found that every man had taken to the woods like scared quails.
A scout could not do likewise, however strong the temptation, so I advanced until I hailed a bulky form in the road and found a mounted boy courier who had panicked veterans by inquiring in a loud voice, "Whose command is that?" Of such stuff are mortals made. With my son, in 1897, I drove over the same road - curious to recall the feelings of that sombre scene. Three miles from our line and less than two hundred yards from a strong cavalry post of the enemy, I was in a little road, crossing a marsh, when at a sudden turn I met a little woman in a blue shawl, and the momentary terror I felt is yet fresh in my recollection. At another place where we had fought three times, and the arms and the legs of the dead had been uncovered by the winter rains, and whence alone I had taken prisoners, I was standing waiting for daylight, so as to observe the hostile camps, when I saw gliding towards me, now stopping, now moving, a grey object too small for a horse, but to my ditsurbed imagination, quite large. My heart came to my throat several times and I turned my gun on the object, but the recollection of the ridicule I would get if I shot anything but an enemy made me wait till I discovered - an 'opossum. It is but a step from the sublime to the ridiculous, even in war times, and the man whose heroism you praise today may look like a scarecrow tomorrow.
The braggart and bully of peace times is likely to prove a coward in battle, and the quiet man who turns pale when angry, will lead in the daring charge. Alone, and miles from my own people, I have been ordered to surrender, and escaped by fleetness, and I have many times narrowly missed
death, or capture, and it would be idle to say that one did Not feel fear and no old soldier would believe it.
There is, as every one knows, a law regulating the recording of deeds and mortgages, and the fee for such services in 1868 was twenty cents per hundred words. The probate judge certified on the back of the instrument that it was recorded in a certain book on a certain day. The scoundrels in office, by the grace of the negro, charged in addition, fifty cents for the certificate, and this continued until we turned the thieves out in 1876, when, with a different set of men, it was decided in the case of Wood vs. Tillman, that the charge was illegal. The case is reported in 58 Ala. Page 578.
When one considers that in some counties thousands of such papers were recorded each year, it is easy to see that the amount stolen from the people in eight years was nearly a million dollars by this method. Then, after bankrupting the people, so they could not pay their taxes, their lands were advertised and sold by the tax collector. If a man owned a section of land, which is composed of sixteen forty-acre tracts, they would advertise each forty separatetly; charge a dollar for levying and a dollar for selling besides the printer's fee; so that the owner had to pay thirty-two dollars, instead of two. Some who owned several thousands acres of land were treated in this manner. The papers had to print
extras to hold the advertisements, and sometimes half the land in the county was sold for taxes. This state of things existed until 1874, when the case of Gachet vs. McCall, 50 Ala. 307, was decided, and another particular form of theft was abolished. The price of marriage license was two dollars, but one official had some printed with pictures, and "only three dollars, my friend" got to be famous.
of the "God and morality party" for robbing a helpless people.
The law then allowed officials, administrators, and guardians to give security on their bonds, residing anywhere in the state. These places were filled in almost every instance, by the worst of men. I have seen in the Commissioners' court of Lowndes, a very thick-lipped, coal-black negro, and a white man whom the United States government had put in the penitentiary for a year, levying the taxes for the county. Out of a jury of twelve, nine were negroes trying another negro for the murder of a town marshal, and, of course, the defendant was acquitted. There are unsatisfied decrees for thousands of dollars in the Probate courts of the black belt, in favor of widows and orphans, against administrators and guardians who were insolvent as were their bondsmen.
John Hardy, of Selma, was a bondsman for many of these creatures, and he was reputed to be rich, but his case in 68 Ala. 303, shows that after being imprisoned for a time he proved to be insolvent One of the elect taught public school, but he planted and cultivated a crop of cotton with his colored scholars.
leaders of the colored mob had broken the head out of a barrel of whiskey in the street, and the elect became boisterous, their leaders were told that if one drop of blood was shed, we would fire on them and not on their poor tools. There was a very quick departure of the guard, and I have never seen it paraded since. There was a rumor that in the woods, near Gordonsville, a night meeting of the guard would be held. Five or six mischievous boys without arms, on horseback, charged them, and the shouting and tramp of horses dispersed the patriots, never to assemble again.
No country in the North would have tolerated this state of affairs a week, and it may be asked why the Confederates submitted. We knew that if we had acted just as any respectable Northern community would act, the party in power would send troops and do like Sheridan in the valley - burn some houses and mills starve a few white women and babies, and imprison the most respectable men they could find, whether innocent or guilty. Some of the best men of Sumpter were dragged in chains to Mobile, and I have seen a detachment of soldiers sent twenty miles to camp in sight of an election being held, so fearful were the saints that we might elect a decent man. A Confederate possessed of over $20,000, had to get a pardon to prevent confiscation, and the fees charged which were to the receiver mere bribes, were enormous. John P. Streety, whose shoes the official skunk was not worthy to untie, applied for his to him for pardon, and the low-born, without speaking to him, turned to his secretary and said, "Give him the papers when he pays you $50." Busteed, disgracing the office of the district judge of the United States, was accused of every crime except those involving
manliness. He took high ground, and refused to allow lawyers to address persons in his court, as General Morgan, Governor Watts, Colonel Troy, etc. because they were titles of the "rebellion," but lawyers have a way of taking care of themselves, and the wit of Sam Rice and the contemptous treatment accorded him finally compelled respect. Fern Wood in open court, told Kiel, another vile creature on the bench as judge in Eufaula, that he was a disgrace to humanity, to the bar, to the bench, contemptible and cowardly, and when the trembling creature ordered the sheriff to arrest Wood, there were fifty men ready to resist, and the judge resigned.
Sometimes they fell out with each other, as the case in 54 Ala., Page 393, will show, and one Republican governor tried to hold over after his defeat, but a judge of his own party, who hated him adjourned court and traveled in haste to Montgomery to issue a warrant which ousted him, and justice was done through motives inspired by malice. No, we are not against the government, but we despise the politicians who refuse to allow their party to be respectable in the South, and if this hasty view of less than one-tenth of the enormities practiced by it, here given, is not enough to create and keep a "solid South," there are a few things, such as attempts to pass force bills, taunts, appointment of black officials to positions where they come in contact with women and children, and the like which would band together a people less proud and brave. But the Confederates, even if under parole, got some fun and little revenges out of the infamous crew.
After the Constitution of 1868 was fastened on Alabama by fraud, the officials pretendedly elected at the same time took their seats. By reason of the disfranchisement of numbers of its best citizens the negroes in Butler county had chosen one Gardner as probate judge. He was a very superior sort of person, who talked down at a rebel as a very inferior sort of man, but was very affable toward his colored equal who voted for him.
there would have been a lynching, only the speaker fled town in haste.
If one could realize how, under the promise of "forty acres and a mule" unlimited license, and the hope of associating with white girls as their beaux, the inflammable state of the negro mind, he might appreciate the result of such teachings, for such speeches made on that night and others like it all over the land, and the teachings of vile newspapers, viler politicians and yet viler preachers, saints at long range, inspired the negro to commit that peculiar crime which brings, and always will bring death, North or South. The negro would have been benefitted if that speaker and all like him had been put to death at once. The boys formed a club for deposing Gardner and drew lots, the first falling to Bill Payne, who, the next Monday, walked into Gardener's office and with one blow of his fists knocked him senseless and walked out, not a word being said. The next Monday, Jim Brunson did the same thing in the same way, and it went around the club every Monday, until it came Payne's turn again. He put on a pair of huge spurs, dragged Gardener to the court house door, mounting on his back and spurring him vigorously, rode him to the door of a barroom. Calling up a colored man, he compelled him to hold his unwilling steed whilst the rider went in and took a drink, then coming out, he rode him back to his office with many a dig of the spur.
The prosecutions in the United States court against the boys were dismissed, and Butler county has never had a carpet bag probate judge since, nor has a negro been lynched for the peculiar crime. We paroled Confederates enjoyed the affair immensely.
At Rutledge, three of the elect advertised public speaking; and a committee of white men demanded a division of time, which, after some objections, was granted. Of course the elect had the opening speech, at the close of which our speaker got up, every colored man left the house, which so enraged the whites that they ran a skirmish line around the square, and with fence rails, sticks and brush, drove every darkey up stairs to hear a decent man speak Up to a few years ago only one white man in Crenshaw county ever voted the negro ticket. He was half witted and the Hard-Shell Baptists turned him out of the church for this disobedience to what they conceived to be divine law.
Our grandchildren may read in some histories about the "solid South," "the long haired barbarians," and a few other choice epithets applied by so-called gentlemen to their ancestors, but the facts here narrated will go in the history of reconstruction now being written by a Virginian, and future generations will take pride in the fact that instead of a race of mongrels, the purest stock from the British Isles yet dominates their native states.
I have refrained from relating many events and giving names, because of the pain it might inflict on some innocent kin, and on others who have suffered from being in bad company yet living, but I have lived to see most of the actors in that carnival of crime live and die miserably.
far as we did go, I spent three days of last week on the ground, and it is still a mystery to me that we wrested cannon and precipitous heights from even a skirmish line.
I went this time in a palace car, and with an accident policy, but the travel is more wearisome with people who ride in cars where even the tots are offish in their demeanor, and the grown folks seem to expect deference because they occupy seats obtainable by extra cash. In the smoker the flavor of conversation is apt to be coarse, and no one but the brakeman could point out King's mountain, where was fought the battle which is said to have been the turning point of the revolutionary war. If you want to remain ignorant of the country through which you travel, ride in a Pullman. Passing South and West of Appomattox we came to Lynchburg, of which Sut Lovengood said that when Providence finished and painted it, it was turned on its side to dry and left in that position. There in the early days of the war from every parlor window floated the strains of "Maryland, My Maryland," delighting the ears of the wounded soldiers, but the town has grown far to the south now.
Bull Run and Fairfax, names familiar to the survivors of Lee's veterans. What a throng of crowding recollections rushed on me as I recalled the tramps through mud and snow or under the blazing sun past these places in the happy days long gone, with the gay and gallant spirits, the brave and jolly comrades whose familiar faces rose before me, and whose souls communed with mine till the brakeman wondered at my silence.
Those marches were less tiresome than the car journey, and the simple meal of bacon and hard tack cross legged on the ground were more enjoyable than the feast off silver, china and cut glass in the dining car, for did we then not have youth and hope and freedom?
Taking the first train out of Washington we crossed the Monocacy, where Early wrestled with Lew Wallace for the brigade, then Keedysville, the nearest railroad point to Sharpsburg. We crossed the Antietam three miles above the battleground and came to Hagerstown, where the colored driver who transferred me to the other depot had served through the war as servant to one of Rosser's cavalry officers, and the only occupant of the carriage besides myself was a very old lady who on being informed that I was a rebel, snapped out vigorously "I am a rebel to the bone. I saw fighting in front of my house." The dinner at the hotel was good except the beef, which reminded me of some of the camp beef we used to have. I saw no corn bread on the trip until on the return I reached Mount Airy, Ga. Our Southern negroes must be a failure in the North, since they have not learned their friends the value of hoecake.
One tradition says that the hunters always lost their game in this confused mass of rock and another that the whistling of the wind in the ravine caused the superstitious early German settlers to give the suggestive appellation to the fearsome place. Under the cliff a spring of not very good water has been excavated in the rock. I easily found among the rocks the cleft up which I
climbed during the battle. Then I had to throw my rifle forward and by aid of the rocks on either side pull up and repeat the operation. Now, without a gun, and no enemy in front, I found it difficult to go up the same rugged pathway, and again I had to cling to the rocks to get up. On this rugged spur are four cannon, representing the artillery in the battle and we took and carried away three guns - being the only captured artillery of that day's fight carried off by our army.
To the left the spur is more accessible, but boulders from the size of a cow to an omnibus are scattered all over its southern face, and again I wondered how the left of Bennings' brigade - some of Laws and the Texas could have driven away even a skirmish line and taken those guns. All the Second Georgia could do was to employ the men on the precipice over our heads. We remained on this spur all July 3 under fire from Little Round Top, which three regiments of Law's and and two of the Texas tried in vain to take and no wonder. I fired that day many times at an officer in a white shirt serving the cannon. Many of my comrades also did and on that spot is a monument to a general and a lieutenant of artillery.
to the top just fifteen, some say ten minutes before the Alabamians reached the foot of the hill. A skirmish line could have held the place, so inaccessable is it. The line of battle of the union forces was about five miles long in the general shape of a huge fish hook. Culps is at the point of the hook and Little Round Top at the end where the line is tied. The village of Gettysburg is below the bend of the hook and was in our lines which ran along High Street, which then formed the eastern boundary of the village, and the cemetery is on very high ground, and gives the name to the ridge, which is almost inaccessable except where Pickett charged. In many places are the earth and stone breast works which sheltered the union forces who seemed to need no shelter on those rock bound heights.
Our line was distant about one mile on Seminary Ridge, so called from a Lutheran seminary yet there, and was about six miles long. The enemy having inside line could and did reinforce from any part of the line across to threatened points. Pickett charged one mile and a quarter in an open field and whilst his men covered this distance reserves were brought up to meet him.
There are over five hundred monuments on the field besides markers and government tablets; some of them are costly, some quaint and artistic. Several in granite represent the sharpshooter lying behind a pile of rocks taking aim. One in white marble is a perfect representation of a tent with a canteen hanging on the end of the ridge pole. Many of the monuments are based on huge boulders, and some of them are fashioned out of the boulders. At the bloody angle is an altar, approached by granite steps. On its top in bronze is an open book four
feet across inscribed at the top, "High Water Mark of the Rebellion." This point is thick with monuments and only one, that of Gen. Armistead, is Confederate. In fact, that and one to the Second Maryland are the only two monuments to Confederates on the field.
To appreciate the scene, to breathe again the spirit one must walk over boulders where no vehicle can go, and I wandered on foot from monument to tablet until darkness. The squirrels play round Devil's Den and I disturbed many young rabbits in the deep grass over which golden rod and many autumn flowers cast their sunshine. In the mouth of one cannon a bird had built her nest. In one respect the field is not satisfactory. Whilst a mile over yonder the tablets tell you where each Confederate regiment formed its line of battle, when you get into
the union line and find that in places it was driven back a quarter or half of a mile, and monuments of union regiments are thick and tell of fearful losses, there is no way to inform the visitor who inflicted these losses, or what command overcame rocks, heights and soldiers. There is one notable exception, one monument says Barksdale's brigade drove them 300 yards when they rallied and with reinforcements recovered the lost ground.
Another monument tells that its colonel was killed with a bayonet on that spot, trying to recapture his flag, but does not inform us what command took the flag.
Owing to want of knowledge of the ground three of Law's and two of the Texas regiments fought with Benning's brigade, separating them from the rest of their command. Wofford's brigade nearly cut the enemies line and gave name to the Valley of Death, but there is nothing to inform the visitor who broke the lines, who captured the guns, who scaled the rocks and heights. True there are ponderous maps in town that tell you some things, but not one visitor in a thousand cares for or remembers the maps. He wants to see for himself on the ground. When the Confederates are dead and their grandchildren visit the field, none will know where his ancestors fought. He can go a mile away and see where he started to charge and that is all.
Georgia shows who fought at that particular point and just in front of the guns and tablets showing the capture of an Indian battery on Sunday are the rough stones showing the Second Georgia was there in the fight. A Virginian told me of an incident which illustrates the point. As the guest of a Maryland friend he was inspecting the bloody angle where Armistead fell and heard a guide reeling off in metalic tones his speech about the things done by Meade and various regiments to a party of Boston people. When his breath gave out there was silence for a time and the Virginia veteran said, "Guide, it seems to me I have heard that a man named General Lee was here with some friends about that time but you forgot to tell that." There were smiles and laughter in the crowd and an old Boston lady came up to the Confederate and told him that he was the first one she ever saw, made him partake of an elegant lunch with plenty of champagne. He carried away more than twenty, visiting cards and pockets full of fine cigars. This illustrates what you see at Gettysburg. The guide books, the guide, the monuments tell what the union people did in '63 but not a word of who made them glorious and brave. One can see from the broken and scattered lines of monuments that those battle lines were bent and broken in places by somebody, the monuments tell of regiments that lost one quarter, one third, or one half their numbers. Somebody bent or broke the lines on those frowning precipices, somebody overcame those immense boulders, somebody killed and wounded the defenders, but who did it? The monuments and tablets do not tell you. Go to the tablets on Seminary Ridge a mile away and they only tell you
who were there, not who on diverging lines routed the foe from almost inaccessable bluffs and hills.
Gettysburg contains about 5000 people, has three banks, water works, electric lights, a car line and several hotels. The influx of visitors is constant and many reunions are held there. The people thrive on visitors who support hotels, carriages, guides and buy souvenirs of every kind. The government employs many people in the care of the
grounds and extending the avenue. The park commissioners have their office there, among them being Major W. M Robbins, formerly of the Fourth Alabama regiment, who sends greetings of "God bless you" to all the old Confederates. He was very courteous and being the only Confederate there, is in demand for a speech at every public occasion, and being so much in the minority probably believes like Pope argued that "Whatever is, is right."
When we were there in '63 and for many years afterwards we were "d----d rebels." Now at the hotels at Devil's Den and other points when I met excursion parties and told them I was a rebel, I was politely corrected every time. One young lady, very handsome and gentle, who was informed by me that I fought at that point on the rebel side, said with an ahem, "And you were a Confederate?" Times and people have changed The round trip fare from Washington is $5.40, from Baltimore, which is much more convenient it is much less. There are 3500 union dead buried in the National cemetery and 2900 Confederate dead were removed in 1879 and buried in Hollywood at Richmand, but numbers of both sides are still being found in excavating for roads.
Besides several shops and stores in which souvenirs are sold there are two museums containing relics obtained from the battle field. On the main street near the square is an old wooden pump, seemingly out of place in a town having modern waterworks, but they tell you Gen. Early watered his horse there and across the street in the museum is the old battered pot then a watering trough. Visitors are shown a tree in the street with a fragment of a shell imbedded in it, and a two story house near the
square has the marks of several shells in it and it is related that many Confederates got in the house but a shell exploding in the upper story made them swarm out. Charley Sturgis of this city tells about a comrade calling to him of the eatables in a two-story brick houses and how he found great loaves of bread and apple butter but a shell made him leave hastily. It must be the same house.
Farther east up Baltimore street and on the left or Northern side is a brick house where Jennie Wade was killed. At the time of the battle a woman with a babe three days old was in the house and could not be moved. The union generals gave orders that no pickets must use the house, but two got in and fired on our men from the cellar windows and of course there was a return fire as our people did not know the house was occupied by women. Jennie Wade was behind the door of a room kneading dough and a bullet passed through both door shutters and killed her. Her picture adorns match boxes, and almost everything you can think of. Her photographs are on sale and she is made conscipuous. Her story is told with every circumstance of grief and horror. She was the only woman killed on Northern soil, and I heard it and all the while deploring the accident I thought of the thousands of delicate women and children who were driven out of Atlanta by Sherman, to starve and die whilst he burnt their homes, and of the other thousands driven out of Columbia when he burned that city, and of the numberless women and babes left to die of starvation by Sheridan when he ravaged the valley of Virginia. They were the wives and children of rebels and it was all right for them to die and they got no pictures, no sympathy. Such is the difference between mine and thine.
In this house is a museum of field relics, among them some ancient dueling pistols, watches and quaint weapons of all kinds. One in particular arrested my attention. It was a gold chain with locket attached and a ring of curious workmanship. It represents clasped hands, and the ring could be opened, displaying springs, but on being shut the hands again clasped. The picture in the locket had faded as it lay on the ground nearly forty years, but the chain and ring are still perfect. From the position where it was found, I suppose one of Early's corps once wore it, but owing to the fact that there is no way for a stranger to ascertain what particular Confederates fought at that or any other point, the relatives of the owner of the ring may never be found.
be in the exact place then occupied by them, one may doubt it. Culp's hill is 508 feet above the plane from which the field has been measured, which is considerably taller than Red mountain or Duffey's mountain at Blount Springs. It is rugged, steep and there are outcropping ledges of rock and boulders over its face for two miles. Hayes' Louisiana brigade mounted these steeps, took the earth works and held them till nearly all were slaughtered as their support did not come up. From the angle where Pickett charged to Little Round Top, nearly two miles, the union line was broken at nearly every point, sometimes pushed back nearly half a mile, but we had no reserves, no fresh troops to crush the broken line which rallied and with reinforcements drove our men back.
general on either side. Instead of detracting from the fame of their successful defense, it will add to their pride to know that Wilcox's, Rhodes or Law's Alabamians or the Texans or Georgians or Carolinians, the very flower of Lee's army drove them from those apparently impregnable heights, and wrestled on that spot for victory. I have given the elevation of Culp's hill on the left, Round Top on our right is 664 feet. Little Round Top 548; Cemetery Ridge 500, the angle where Pickett and Pender charged, 472; Peach orchard, 467, the hill above Devil's Den, 440 feet. Red Mountain is 400 feet above the railroad tracks at the depot in Birmingham, so one can get an idea of the heights, but over half the line was covered by ledges and boulders, rendering it impossible for any troops to keep in line as they charged.
When opportunity offers I shall again visit the field and I am sure that any of the survivors of that conflict will enjoy a view of the heights which frowned on us in 1863.
Felix McLaughlin, our tax assessor, was wounded as Wilcox's brigade neared the enemy's line. He got to a lime sink and protected from fire, watched our men fall as they climbed the hills. He told me to find the place and I found one among numerous sinks, but there is no table or monument to tell where Wilcox's men fought and part of that division after breaking the Federal line wheeled and fought with their backs to another part of the same division which had wheeled in the opposite direction. I have government maps in my office but they are not object lessons like tablets or monuments on the spot. If the government does not allow Confederate monuments where the commands fought, the field will always be one sided history. The broken
lines of the federal monuments negatively tell that somebody fought there, but in a few years none will be left to tell who they were. It is passing strange that the Federal losses in the battle were some thousands greater than the Confederate. When it is remembered that our line charged a mile in the open, under fire from artillery, and then had to climb hills rugged with boulders which formed excellent protection to the defenders, and then inflicted more damage than they suffered, it takes official reports to convince one that such could be the result.
In memory yet I can see the 500 sabers flashing in the sunlight and hear the shouts of those blue-coated cavalrymen, as they came in our rear in the open
wheat field. There is a monument to Farnsworth, but none to the battery which without supports rushed its guns through the field against the charging cavalry and poured into them cannister at close range. On the ridge beyond is a tablet, showing that Reilly's and Bachman's batteries were opposite and we heard that day that the battery which charged was from Augusta, Ga., commanded by a German. I saw it from a distance, but do not know which battery did the work. Its glorious bravery merits a tablet or a monument on the spot.
We had orders to leave the hill over Devil's Den one at a time and form in the field at its foot. Under a terrific fire from Little Round Top our men formed, although now and then a man went down. They told off by numbers, faced right and marched off in perfect time and order. As we passed over Plum Run I kneeled to get a drink of water, and running to my place a head, one of the Fifteenth Georgia raised his musket to brain me for running. Our faces were so covered with powder that he did not recognize me. This will give an idea of the spirit of the men who charged those heights.
When Prof. Sam. L. Robinson read that there were no monuments to tell where Confederates fought, he wrote a poem, two stanzas of which are here given:
a monument found on the dark, bloody
To tell of the laurels there won,
By the most gallant lads, in the steadiest squads,
That ever yet carried a gun;
Not a monument there - on those heights - in those vales,
To tell to our sons true battlefield tales.
they climbed up those hills - when they
tempted the will
Of the Gods in the struggle, may be,
Did the foe leave their post at the sight of a ghost?
Was there nothing that caused them to flee?
Will they say to the world that those brave men of theirs
Surrendered their guns to an army of hares?"
Paroled, ragged, hungry and threadbare, at Appomatox on April 12, 1865, I left the slow marching brigade (Benning's), and with Wm. Young, of the Seventeenth Georgia, procured direction from General Jubal Early, made my way, dependent for food on the kindness of the people along the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge to Spartanburg, S. C., where we first journeyed over part of a broken railroad. While alternately riding over the fragments of railroads Sherman had not destroyed and walking, Young parted from me to go to his Georgia home. I lost my hat when asleep in a freight car, but for two Confederate dollars purchased another very ancient one, which now one would hardly pick up with a pair of tongs.
Reaching West Point, Ga., about sundown, April 29, I was overjoyed to meet with Lawson McKelvey, one of the color guards of the Twentieth Georgia. At Gettysburg a shrapnel had burst just at the flag destroying more than half of it, killing three or four of the guard and wounding McKelvey in twenty-two places, extending from his ear along his left shoulder and arm to the wrist. He was placed in the ambulance corps and did his duty faithfully to the end. He was a gallant soldier, a faithful friend, and there is one who wafts kindly wishes at him for "auld lang syne."
We traveled the river road until late that night, sleeping on the side of a rocky hill and next morning, Sunday reached the house of a friend, Hop Smith, as he was familiarly known, one of the best men and neighbors and a friend of my boyhood who had often given me words of homespun wisdom. His wife, yet living, was and is a benediction on all who knew her.
While breakfast was preparing, I saw tears on her face, and surprised at such a welcome, I inquired the reason. Then she told me how wretched she felt at my home-coming in such clothes. I told her I would get more when I reached my people, but she sadly shook her head, and with many sobs told me that my trunk containing all I had in the way of worldly possessions had been stolen by deserters. I made light of the matter, but not so with her.
Reaching my relatives, I met a welcome not apparently affected by the apparel I wore, and learned that when Wilson's raid, which took place in Selma and Montgomery and scattered destruction in its path, was expected, the neighbors made up a train of wagons to take valuables across the Chattahoochee
into the hills of Harris county to escape robbing by the raiders. My cousin put in a wagon my trunk with all my clothes and valuables, some of their best dresses, 400 pounds of cured bacon, then most valuable, and some other household effects, and a young negro was sent in charge of the wagon, which formed the rear guard of the team. After crossing Soap Creek near its mouth, the horses balked at a hill. Some men came out of the woods and told the negro to go to a house near by and get help. On his return he found the wagon emptied of its contents and no one had been able to trace the goods or the theives, and since about three weeks had elapsed, all hopes of finding them had been given up.
Clothes being a necessity, I went to Columbus, and learning there, that owing to some influence a lot of Confederate clothes had not been burned, I went to John Mott, formerly aid to General Benning and told him I must have two suits. He denied any knowledge of the whereabouts of the goods, but I told him unless he allowed me to take what I wanted I would get my old comrades and we would break into the building and divide the Confederate stores, as I felt I was rightly entitled to a share. He finally led me into an alley, then up a stairway, across a building down another, and finally into an open room where there were hundreds of suits of Confederate jeans, cut out and tied up ready for the makers. I selected two and my cousins with deft hands converted them into clothes so that I was clad in what was then an honorable uniform. But the sense of injury on the loss of my trunk and my cousin's property was strong, and the instinct of revenge stronger, especially when it was suspected that some deserters had stolen the goods. With the soldiers
a deserter was not supposed to have much more rights than a snake.
After some days I borrowed from Sam Lowther a derringer, the only pistol in the neighborhood, and I think he said it was his grandfather's dueling pistol, and taking some fishing tackle, clad in my worn uniform, I made my way to the place where the wagon was robbed, confident with my experience as a scout, even after the lapse of three weeks I could find traces of the missing property. Arriving after a walk of four miles at the foot of the hill where the robbery took place I found in the woods on the side of the road toward the river where the dead brush had been tramped upon, and by following it there was a pretty fair trail to the river, distant about 400 yards, which at that point was about one-fourth of a mile wide, with swift current broken by many large rocks and one or two wooded islands.
A batteau half filled with water was tied to the bank, and with a paddle I commenced baleing out the water. While thus engaged I heard a shout, evidently a signal from the Georgia side, and I could see a man and two women in a field were making signals. I started across the river, which had many dangerous currents among the rocks, and had need for all my expert skill with a paddle. On approaching the Georgia shore, the persons, to my surprise, retired from the bank some forty yards and commenced a conversation with me, anxiously inquiring if the war was over, who I was etc. I told them the war was over, that I had surrendered with General Lee, that I belonged to a Mississippi regiment, my name was Thompson, that my uncle, who lived near Columbus and owned a plantation near, had sent
me out to look after some matters and I had come to the river fishing, and hearing their signal had brought over the boat.
They were very suspicious, but finally I got the man tame enough to come near, and he put one foot on the prow of the boat as it lay on the shore and talked some minutes and saw that everything he had on from head to foot was mine.
A girl had presented me with a cravat embroidered at the ends by her own hands and the rascal had on that. He had been to a dance the night before over in Georgia, and had been dressing himself in my best, just as I had done before the war. He told me his name and I recognized him at once, as I had known him from infancy, but he did not appear to recognize me. I offered to carry him back in the boat, saying it was too windy to catch fish, offered him the rear paddle and after much talk finally got the two buxom girls to take their places in the boat. While making our way to the Alabama shore I made up my mind to land the girls, draw my pistol and compel the man to drop down the river to Smith's landing, and then carry him prisoner to my friends.
But my plans would not work. When within an hundred yards of the shore I saw on the bank a notorious deserter, whom I had known for years, with an Enfield rifle in his hands. As soon as he saw that there was a stranger in the boat he stooped and glided into the thick cane and brush which lined the bank.
Landing I gallantly helped the girls, still unsuspicious, out of the boat, chatted a while, begged for an obtained an invitation to the next dance, to be at their house two days after - I had never danced a step in my life - and bidding them good bye, walked
off whistling "Dixie," no doubt passing within a few feet of my friend with the rifle, but never looking to the right or left. Again my scouting experience served me well, for had I betrayed knowledge of his presence, I would have been sent to the bottom of the river and this tale left untold.
I kept step to "Dixie" till I got to the woods, and then in a double-quick, I summoned my friends to meet me the next morning. Some of my old friends, some crippled soldiers ,among them Lawson McKelvey, met me with boats at the mouth of Soap Creek. Four of us went to the island found evidence of a camp, and papers from my trunk. Forming a skirmish line across the island we traversed its length, and Lawson found the bacon in an underground cellar cleverly planked up and covered with driftwood. The deserters had taken the alarm and removed the trunk and other things and we searched the Georgia shore and other islands without further results.
While searching the Alabama shore one of the party heard a signal opposite the island. It proved to be an old woman who lived two miles off, and who had in hand a case knife. The party gathered about her, and McKelvey gave it as his opinion that she had come after some of the bacon and was signaling the island, not knowing that we were after the precious deserters. First the old men then I, tried argument, persuasion, entreaty, threats, everything but force, to make the old woman divulge the whereabouts of the other missing property, but without avail. She had come to the river to get some medical roots for her rheumatism, and protested that she had no knowledge of the stolen things, calling on her Maker to witness the truth of her assertions.
She fairly outdid me in deceit, when I passed off to her son as Thompson.
Finally, when patience was exhausted McKelvey said to me: "You are too d----d chickenhearted about women. Turn over the command to me, and I'll make the old hag tell the truth."
I very gladly resigned in his favor, and he took a rope, brought to tie prisoners or hang them as may be, commenced to make a hangman's noose, at which he seemed to be skillful. Everybody was silent, but the old woman begun to eye his movements with evident curiosity. After the knot was made it did not seem to slip according to his ideas and he sliced off a piece of the bacon and greased the rope, at the same time slipping it up and down on his elbow. The old woman finally broke silence with: "Mr. Kelvey what are you going to do with that anyhow?" Pointing to a huge willow which bent over the deep currents of the Chattahoochee, he replied: "I am going to hang you to that tree till you are dead, and then cut the rope and let the fishes eat your carcass."
Again, she loudly protested her innocence. He threw the rope over a limb of the willow, jerked off her bonnet and clapping the noose over her head began to draw her. Of course, we all knew McKelvey would not hang the woman, nor would we have permitted it, - but it looked very serious - especially to her.
After a little he loosed the rope and asked her for the truth, but she again protested her innocence. This was repeated twice, the last time the rope must have grown very tight for when it was relaxed she confessed everything, told who got the articles, that
they had been on the island but had been moved, she knew not where. This last was truth.
Finally she agreed if we would not hang her or prosecute the takers, let bygones be bygones, she would deliver everything at a neighbor's house two days after, which was done. The faithful McKelvey went with me and when we returned with the recaptured spoils, my cousins, who were rather slender sat on the floor around the trunk while unpacking it. When their fine dresses came to view it was seen that they had been cut in the back and a gore or V-shaped piece of cloth let in so that the buxom belles who bewitched the deserters might wear them; the dresses being otherwise too small. The girls had been mad up to this time and their remarks had been most exemplary in Christian patience. But now their patience gave way and they cried and cried again over their wrecked finery.
My friends thought my life would not be safe in that neighborhood, but I remained there the rest of the year, and on one occasion met my deserter friends at a cider pressing and saw them occasionally, but I can not say we were very cordial.
After awhile came provisional government and a proclamation of amnesty for most sins, including the taking of the goods and the pretense of the hanging and peace rested in that neighborhood.
It is gratifying to know that the deserters and those who shared their spoils long since became good citizens and have a respectable standing in the community as well as in the church. Most of the actors have gone "over the river," those gallant, warm-hearted friends who stood by me even when in a disagreeable task, but Lawson McKelvey still lives,
a cheery, warm-hearted fellow, as of old. Maybe the rough edge on his tongue is somewhat smoothed, but however that is - wherever he may be - here's a health to him, and these remembrances now serve only to call up merriment. We are prone to forgive the faults of thirty-seven years ago.
[Back Cover Image]