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[Title Page Image]
COMPANY B, EIGHTH GEORGIA REGIMENT,
LONGSTREET'S CORPS, ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA
FORMERLY SUPERINTENDENT MACON (GA.)
Copyright, 1912, by
The Neale Publishing Company
The appearance of these war stories in book form is due largely to the interest manifested in them by two of my most efficient and helpful colaborers during my superintendency of the Macon public schools, Mrs. A. E. Keenan, Principal of Second Street School, and Miss Clara I. Smith, Principal of Nisbet School.
These teachers constantly insisted that my talks to their classes on history, which usually included an incident from my personal experience in the Confederate Army, were helpful to them in teaching United States history. If the stories contributed to the splendid work they did in history with the classes that successively came under them from year to year, they must have merit and ought to be preserved.
Also, the children of all ages, with the "grown ups" as well, like the way I tell the stories, and I think they will want my book.
Capture and Trial of Supposed Abolition Emissaries - Secession of South Carolina - Fort Sumter Excitement - Political questions in the Literary Debating Societies - Georgia secedes and the Georgia students all leave for home - My college chums - Tribute to Jake Elmore . . . 32
accepted and ordered to Virginia -
Joining the company and starting for Virginia . . . 39
At Richmond - Regiment organized - Off for the Potomac - Arrival at Harper's Ferry - Bathing in the Potomac - Johnston's first retreat - An incident: Taking the Union's man's honey and giving it up - Off for Manassas to reinforce Beauregard - Wading the Shenandoah at midnight - Army invited to breakfast - Riding in or on a box-car - First sight of Beauregard - Going to extreme right where battle is to commence . . .
Fatherly talk of Bartow to his boys the night before the battle - Disappointment, battle started by Federals against our extreme left - The three mile run to
get into it - Under fire; the first cannon
ball - The boys in the apple tree - The
charge and the pine sapling thicket -
How one man felt in the first battle -
Retreating - New York Fire Zouaves -
Beauregard's salute, Gallant 8th - Tide
turns, Federals retreating - Going back
to the pine thicket - Impressions of killing men to settle disputes - The day
after the battle - Burying the dead - A
man who shed tears because he missed
the battle . . . 60
Confederate advance two months after the battle - Picket duty in sight of Washington - Old soldier tricks on picket - How men are executed in the army - Almost a ghost story - Dodging Scott's rear guard - Ridicule turned into applause - An exciting little fight at Dam No. I - In camp near Richmond - "Running the blockade" into the city - Sleeping on the floor at Mr. Yarrington's
instead of between snowy sheets - Captured and taken to the colonel - Climbing
trees to get information - A lucky drop
- An interrupted poker game - How
little things affect big events: Three
men go ahead to hunt buttermilk and
are captured by Federal scouts - A near
look at Lee and "Traveller" - Going on
the mountain to find out who is there -
Fighting by "bluffing" - Advantage and
disadvantage of being in front - Getting
wounded - How one may lose his life
trying to save it - Deserved rebuke, "I
thought, sir, prisoners were captured
on battlefields, not in hospitals" - Distressed father hunting his wounded boy
- Hauled forty miles to the railroad
station at one dollar a mile - Detailed
account of getting wounded - Wounds
dressed six days after battle . . . 75
Sherman breaks up my job along the Central railroad in Georgia - Joining the cavalry - Cornered, and a race for life - Hunting
a road to the rear through Sherman's army - Crossing the Savannah -
On an island in "Back River" - Rescued
by "Marse" Winkler's rice flat - Captured by South Carolina militia and
unwittingly sent to our own boys
(like Brer Rabbit in the brier patch
for punishment) - Recrossing Savannah
River . . . 117
How General Wheeler fooled Kilpatrick - Appearance of things at the old home after the "Cyclone" had passed - Peter, the negro house boy, showing the two "gentermen" the ford and the path - A wagon trip to Augusta - War prices for necessaries - The stampede and how a little riderless mule saved himself - Again keeping out of Sherman's way - Two days in the enemy's lines - A prisoner captured and what to do with him - The faithful negro, London - Thrilling experience with two dismounted cavalrymen . . .
table and hear discussions of officers about assault on Fort McAllister - They wish for wings to fly to the Fort and report - When Fort is captured they are sent in army ambulance to home at Guyton . . .
The home life of a schoolboy in the country covers so much and has so much to do with his "terms" at school it occurs to me as very appropriate to devote my first chapter to an account of my life on the farm.
Our "place," as we called it, was located one mile north of Springfield, Ga., the county seat of Effingham, and near the road leading from Springfield to Sisters' Ferry on the Savannah River.
Father often spoke of it as a poor place for a farm. His chief reason for remaining there, as I have often heard him say, was because the county academy was located in Springfield and he wanted his children to
have the advantage of a good school. Then, too, he was fond of hunting and fishing and "The Runs," as this portion of Ebenezer Creek was called by everybody in those days, with its hummocks and swamps a half mile across, afforded fine sport in these lines. Deer and wild turkeys were quite plentiful and the large number of buck horns that adorned our veranda bore testimony to father's success as a hunter.
But to me the "place" was perfect. The swamps and fields teemed with small game of all kinds - partridges, doves, robins, larks, thrashers and bullfinches, squirrels, raccoons, opossoms, and rabbits; and the creek and Jack's Branch had every kind of fish from the trout or black bass that would not look at any bait but a silver fish, live and playful, to the branch pike that would snap up a grasshopper as soon as it touched the water. I had, too, a gun, a faithful dog, and a hunting companion in Zack, a negro about my age. There was an apple orchard with every variety from the toothsome little "Junes" to the "Father Abrahams" that hung on the
trees till October; a peach orchard with early "free-stones" and white and yellow "clings"; mulberry trees, with berries as long as my finger; three or four plum orchards; watermelons and muskmelons in season by the wagonload, and last, but best of all, the creek with the big swimming hole was not a half a mile away - and I had permission to go in whenever I pleased. With all these, how else could I regard our "place" but ideal? And it is still the dearest spot on earth to me. The old dwelling house and its predecessor - that in my day was the "loom house," - the negro cabins, the orchards, are gone; but the creek and swimming hole are there, and the old fishtrap site, and the eddies where I could always pull out a "war-mouth" perch any afternoon. The hummocks where I hunted squirrels, and the bridge up at the road, are all there. I visit them occasionally and find myself repeating with Woodworth, slightly changing his lines, -
"How dear to my heart are the scenes of my childhood,
While gladly, though sadly, I look on them all."
Of course the ten months of school each year, under a strict teacher, with perplexing
problems and long memoriter lessons, cast a shadow across my happy life on the farm; but even these had their compensation in baseball or shinney at recess and during the long noon intermission. Then, too, Saturday never failed to arrive on time, bringing with it, besides a hunt with Zack and Watch (my dog), mother's weekly bake in the brick oven of light bread, pies, and syrup cakes, a peck of groundnuts and yellow yams that, remaining all night in the oven, shrunk away from their jackets to half their original size; and, of course, a shoulder of pork or a ham of venison or a turkey, for Sunday dinner. I can see them all with my mind's eye as I write.
I was never required to do any work on the farm except of a very light character, such as dropping peas or gathering up the bundles of fodder that the hands tied up hastily when the thunder cloud was approaching, or sticking sweet potato vines, or picking up apples for the hogs; and these were more a frolic than work for me and the half dozen little negroes who constituted the "mergency gang."
I was at school, you know, for ten months every year, and my dear, sympathetic mother thought I ought not to be required to work during my two months' vacation.
But there are other ways than by manual
labor of learning to work, and my teacher
gave me the habit. In my next chapter I
shall have much to say of his methods to
Another advantage I enjoyed by being so near the county seat was that of hearing distinguished speakers and attending political meetings, for nearly all the political meetings were held at the court house. Many a point of information I picked up in this way. It was from Ben Hill and Joe Brown in their race for the Governorship that I got my first knowledge about the railroad built and owned by the State, and known as the Western and Atlantic Railroad, reaching from Atlanta, Ga., to Chattanooga, Tenn.
In Presidential elections I heard such men as William H. Styles, Henry R. Jackson, and Frank Bartow discuss the questions of the tariff for revenue and for protection of American manufactures, and that other far-reaching
question of the rights of slave-owners in the Territories. Not half of the people of Georgia or any other Southern State were slave-owners. In fact, Georgia, when it was first settled, had an anti-slave law, and some of the people were still opposed to slavery, though everybody admitted that the slaves were property according to the laws of the State and the Constitution of the United States. And being property, they were on a footing with all other property, and any law that discriminated against this property right was regarded by everybody as unjust. The Abolitionists of the North were getting anti-slavery laws passed wherever they could, and so it was natural that the election of Lincoln by the Abolition Party should be regarded in the South as a bad thing, not only by those who owned slaves, but by everybody else. Those who did not own slaves saw it was unjust to pass laws that would injure any man's property. Moreover, the question of doing away with slaves in the North had been in every instance settled by the States, each one in its own way; and why should not the people of the South be allowed to settle the matter in the same way, each State for itself?
The matter was discussed in this manner all over the South from the time the Abolition party was first organized, and all the people became so much interested in it that in those days even the schoolboys understood what was meant by the "Missouri Compromise," "The Fugitive Slave Law," and "The Dred Scott Decision." Since I have touched on this matter here, I will add an incident concerning it occurring during the war. In talking to prisoners that we captured they all claimed to be tired of the war, and would ask us why we did not quit fighting against the Union, - that is, the United States Government. They would instantly get the reply, "We'll quit fighting just as soon as you fellows go back home and attend to your own business and let us alone." The truth was, the Southern people felt that it was not the United States Government they were fighting, but the Abolitionists that had gotten control of it and were doing unlawful things. If the Abolition party had not been started there would have been no Secession and no war; and yet gradually slavery would have disappeared in the Southern States just as it had
disappeared from the Northern States - by the separate action of each State.
In those days a political gathering meant not only public speaking by distinguished men, but one or more personal fights. But no guns or pistols were used. The fights were all of the "rough and tumble" or "fist and skull" sort, with broken teeth, bleeding noses, and blood-shot eyes; and, to be honest, I must confess I enjoyed these fights more than I did the speaking.
Fighting is wrong, of course, and we ought to settle all our disputes in some other way than by fighting; but most of us are compelled to admit, if there must be a fight, we like to see a good one. Is not this the main reason why we like to read about Stonewall Jackson, General Lee, and the Confederate warship Alabama - because they did such splendid fighting?
I remember my first day at school. I was a well-grown eight-year-old boy when I "started" to school, but shy and timid.
Of this first day I must give a few incidents. To me it was an eventful day. It ought to be such with every child, and parents and teachers should do their part toward making it a day to be remembered.
Going to school has come to be, in a sense, too common a thing. This is perhaps one reason why education is not appreciated as it should be. Too often, perhaps, it is the case that going to school means only getting out of the way and off the hands of an overtaxed mother.
But to my story: I was taken to the girls' room, for the school was divided into two departments, one for the boys under the principal, the other for the girls under his
assistant. In this instance the assistant was the wife of the principal. She gave me a seat at her left as she faced the school and about the third desk from the front.
She occupied a platform about two feet high and closed in front and on one side. The side next to me was open and her position was reached by going up small steps.
You see, I noticed things that day. I said it was an eventful day. It was, and I was in a state of mind to be impressed. I saw things for myself and I remembered them.
Presently I was called up to be taught my first lesson, A, B, C and D, E, F. Then I was told to go to my seat and say these over and over till I could repeat them from memory and name each one on sight.
But I soon got tired and, looking out at the shade trees, I began to think of things at home. A tear probably gathered in my eye. Then the teacher came down and walked up and down the aisles. She stopped at my desk and, putting her hand on my head, said, "Well, you have been to school one day. I hope you like it. Would you like to go home now?" "Yes ma'am," I said, of course.
"Then you may go and come again to-morrow." My tears were dried, my homesickness was cured, and all the way home I kept thinking, "What a good teacher I have; yes, I like school and I'll go again to-morrow." Are you surprised that all through the years that I have lived I have held, as a "pleasant memory," that "first day at school," and like to talk about it to the children?
"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver." And in my picture is the sweet face of that kind-hearted lady, my first teacher, Mrs. H. S. Hawley.
I sometimes say that our disappointing and disastrous Civil War gave to the youth of the South as a compensation for the calamity of failure the Southern woman as a teacher.
As is well known to those of the generation now rapidly passing off the stage, it was a rare thing to find a Southern woman a teacher in any school before the Civil War. Nearly all the female teachers in the South were Northern ladies. Not so, however, with Mrs. Hawley; she was a Georgian by birth. Her husband, H. S. Hawley, was a Northern man, a New Englander, I think. He had been principal of the academy several years before I started to school, and for seven
years out of the nine that I was at the academy he was my teacher. He was said to be one of the best Latin and Greek scholars in the State, and his pupils always stood well at the State University and other colleges.
I have often entertained my children and others with his way of doing things, both in governing and teaching, and I shall devote a little space here to a description of some of his methods.
First, his main reliance in discipline and for securing good lessons was the rod, which with him was a rule two inches wide and two feet long, or a whalebone, the bow of an old-fashioned umbrella. He had his own method, too, of administering the punishment. Generally the culprit was required to stretch himself across a chair face downward and hold fast to the lower round. Mr. Hawley stood in front of and near the chair with one foot elevated on a round, thus completely shutting off all attempts by the boy to rub the bruises or catch the rule or whalebone with his hand. The boys would squirm and kick and yell, but, pinioned as they were,
they were powerless to help themselves. How I feared getting on that chair! It probably was due to this that, during the seven years that I was under Mr. Hawley, it was never my lot "to come to the chair." I probably was no more disposed to prepare my lessons than other boys of the school, and so my good luck, as some of them termed it, was due solely to my fear of Mr. Hawley. I never felt like taking any chances with him on lessons or behavior.
I will give a sample of what frequently occurred in the school in the matter of preparing home lessons.
There were four of us in a Latin class. Adams' Latin Grammar was the text-book. I remember hearing Mr. Hawley say of the Latin grammar: "It is the first book to take up in the study of Latin, and you will never know enough to lay it aside as long as you study the language." Our class had a long review lesson in the grammar. I was up late preparing it. Mother spoke to me from her room, saying, "Son, it is very late; you'd better go to bed." "Let him alone," said
father; "he and Mr. Hawley understand each other." And he was certainly correct as to my part of the understanding. When Mr. Hawley said get a lesson, I understood he meant just that - no less.
When I reached the school grounds I found John M. and Tom G., two of my classmates, playing marbles under the "twin oaks" by the well. (These oaks, by the way, are still standing, December, 1911.) I expressed surprise at their playing marbles when we had such a hard lesson. "You are afraid of Hawley," said Tom; "we are not." The bell rang and soon it came our turn to come to the recitation bench. "Start the lesson, John," said Mr. Hawley, and John started, "Nominative penna, genitive penn, penn, - , dative, dative, dative - " "Come to the chair, sir," said Mr. Hawley, and he stepped to the corner of the room and got a whalebone from the bunch leaning there. John went down across the chair and began to recite rapidly and loud, but it was not " penna." He limped back to his seat and Tom was told to proceed with penna. Trembling, stammering, hesitating, he finally "stuck" about where John broke down, and he went to the chair: and as the whalebone
whisked in the air he yelled and wriggled, as he had often done before, and sniffling returned to the bench. "You may take it," said Mr. Hawley, looking at me. A rabbit with his ears pinned back and his head greased could not have glided through a thicket more smoothly than I did with penna, from nominative singular to ablative plural. Then I took puer and dominus and sermo and caput and manus and dies and bonus - a, um, and hic, haec, hoc, and the synopsis of amo, active and passive, in the first person, singular, through from present indicative active to latter supine. In this way I got all my lessons, and I sincerely believe that in doing so I acquired a habit of application and concentration of mind on the work in hand that was helpful throughout my school and college course, and no doubt greatly improved my memory.
And let me add that it never occurred to me to ask Mr. Hawley why he required me to take up any particular study; and if I had complained to my father that Mr. Hawley was too severe, he would probably have said, "Just do what he requires and you will not have any trouble." If I had complained that Latin was too hard, he would have said,
"That's between you and Mr. Hawley; talk to him about it." How blest I was, both in father and teacher! Father had confidence in my teacher, and I had respect for him amounting to wholesome fear. I see now that this statement compasses the whole matter of my splendid progress during those seven years under Mr. Hawley. I was reading Caesar and about to take up algebra when he left the school at the close of my seventh year.
Let me say here that confidence in a teacher on the part of parents is essential for the satisfactory progress of the child, and respect for the teacher - amounting to wholesome fear, if you please - on the part of the child is in my judgment a necessary condition of good school training.
Again, a good teacher is the first essential of a good school. A well-adapted school building is desirable; comfortable seats and desks are important; text-books are helpful; but a good teacher standing under a tree with interested pupils sitting on a log constitute a better school than the best equipped building
with only a "hearer of lessons" in the teacher's chair.
Mere text-book tasks drop out of mind even before school days are over, but the knowledge that comes from association with a teacher who is both well informed and able to impart information in a way that interests and attracts will remain through life.
My teachers at the academy for the next two years after Mr. Hawley left were J. T Lynn and Rev. William Epping, each one year.
From Mr. Epping I got the suggestion of teaching all history in school by short lectures, to be reproduced in writing by the pupil. In my judgment it is the only kind of history teaching in school that is worth anything from the standpoint of learning history.
In October, 1859, I entered the sophomore class of the Lutheran College in Newberry, South Carolina, and I was there in December, 1860, when the State seceded.
I will give an incident of those stirring times with which the older students were connected. It will help, also, to show how excited the people were.
John Brown had attempted to excite an insurrection among the negroes in Virginia and had seized the United States armory at Harper's Ferry, to furnish them with arms. For this he had been tried and hanged.
The Presidential election had just been held, in which Lincoln the Abolition candidate had been elected.
It was believed by many people that Abolition fanatics like John Brown were sneaking about, visiting the negroes at night, and organizing them for a general uprising. In
many places "vigilance" committees were organized to send out scouts and "patrols" at night to watch for these "emissaries."
One of these committees was formed in Newberry, and the college authorities were requested to allow the older students, who desired to join the committee, to do so. Night patrols were organized and all the roads leading into the town were picketed. One night a report was brought in that a party of Abolition "emissaries" had been located, and scouts were sent out to take observations. About two miles from town on one of the principal roads they came upon the camp of the "emissaries," consisting of a two-horse "Virginia tobacco wagon" and two white men who were then sitting before a bright log fire. The scouts concealed themselves to watch for results.
Presently two negroes came down the road and turned in to the comfortable looking fire to warm their shins. While they were standing there one of the white men went to the wagon, turned down a keg and, filling a cup with what was supposed to be
whiskey, returned to the fire. The two white men each took a drink from the cup, then passed it to the negroes. This was thought by the scouts to be sufficient proof and they rushed forward and arrested the bewildered wagoners. They were marched into town and taken to the hotel corridor. Soon a crowd collected, and on all sides could be heard such expressions as "String 'em up!" "Hang the devils!" "Bring 'em out!" "Bring 'em out!" "Give us a chance at 'em!" They were kept under a strong guard till morning, and by eight o'clock a crowd of probably two hundred people had gathered in front of the hotel. It was thought best by the officers of the committee to take the prisoners over to the court house and give them at least the form of a trial, and thither the crowd surged.
One of the men was led forward and was told to make a statement as to who he was and what was his mission. In a straightforward manner, but with evident emotion, he stated that they were tobacco and apple peddlers from North Carolina; that they had come down to sell tobacco and apples, as they were accustomed to do every fall; that they had gone into camp for the night out on the road a mile or two from town, and while
they were eating their supper two negroes came down the road and stopped to warm themselves; that while the negroes were there they drank some apple brandy and gave the negroes what was left in the cup. Then some young men ran up and said they were prisoners and must go with them. The other man was called on for a statement. He simply said, "Pardner's told it all."
The chairman of the meeting asked if anyone in the audience wished to make a suggestion or offer any remarks. A young lawyer by the name of Nance rose and said that he desired to say a few words. At once all was attention. "These men," he said, "are in my judgment just what they claim to be, tobacco peddlers from our sister State of North Carolina." All over the house there were voices, "Down! down! no better yourself!" "Hang 'em up!" "Let us have 'em!" But Nance continued and made an appeal that for impassioned earnestness I have never heard equaled. A motion was made to appoint twelve men to consider the case and report. The twelve were named, and at once retired. In a few minutes they returned with their report, saying in substance that there was doubt in the case, and therefore they
recommended that the men be discharged but ordered to leave town at once. It is needless to say that the apple peddlers stood not upon the order of their going, but left at once. Under ordinary conditions no intelligent man who looked into the faces of these illiterate mountaineers would have thought for a moment of charging them with being "Yankee emissaries" engaged in organizing the negroes into insurrectionary bands, but "when the mob rules reason is dumb."
On the twentieth of December the South Carolina convention passed the Ordinance of Secession. I attended the ball given at the Kinard Hotel in honor of the event. The ladies all wore homespun dresses.
Captain Walker, of Newberry, organized a company to go to Charleston, and a number of the students living in Newberry joined it. Excitement was at fever heat. Major Anderson, commander of the forts in Charleston harbor, had refused to abandon the forts, as he had been requested to do by the Governor of South Carolina, and had put all the supplies into Fort Sumter, the
strongest one of the forts and was preparing for a fight. Men collected in groups and discussed the situation, and at the college the literary debating societies took it up and had warm debates over the right and the provocation of a State to secede. Little studying could be done. Dr. Brown, president of the theological department, who was a Pennsylvanian, was said to be an Abolitionist because he employed white servants. He was advised to leave, and did so.
Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi followed South Carolina and seceded, and on the 19th of January the Georgia convention passed the Secession Ordinance. The next day all the Georgia boys took honorable discharges and left for home. My classmates from Georgia at that time were Tom Rawls and Jake Elmore, both of Newnan. The former was killed in Garnett's campaign in West Virginia. The latter served honorably through the war and became a minister of the Lutheran Church. For many years, and until his death, he was judge of the Court of Ordinary of Macon County, Ga. I met him a number of times after the war and greatly enjoyed his company. Though generally dignified and rather reserved, he enjoyed a good
joke and was fond of telling some of our college tricks. He especially enjoyed laughing over one on our roommates, Rawls and Hutcheson. They were bedfellows, but had had a falling out and would not speak to each other. Neither Jake nor I would exchange with them, and so they continued to sleep together. One morning our genial landlord, Dr. M., on greeting us pleasantly as we took our seats at the breakfast table, remarked to Jake that he seemed not to be so well as usual. "No, sir," said Jake, without a smile, "Rawls and Hutcheson talked so much all night I couldn't sleep." Of course the good doctor appealed to them to explain. They blushed and were greatly embarrassed, but Rawls recovered and stated that Elmore sometimes talked in his sleep and was probably not yet fully awake. I was nearly bursting with suppressed laughter, which Jake's nudging did not aid me in holding down. Splendid fellow was Jake Elmore. He crossed over the river last year (1910), beloved in life by all who knew him, and his death was regarded as a calamity by his Church and by the people of Macon County whom he had served so long as a faithful and efficient public servant.
When I reached home from college I found the war spirit and excitement as high in Springfield and throughout the county as it was in Newberry. In every district in the county the militia was organized and having frequent meetings for drill. I was given a first lieutenant's place in the Springfield district company and got a copy of "Hardee's Tactics" and began to study the manual of arms and company movements.
But my whole thought was on getting into active service by joining some fully equipped company like those in Savannah. Every day I went over to Springfield to get the news. For a while it looked as though there would be no war. Leading men in Virginia had proposed a convention of delegates from all the States to try to agree on some plan by which matters could be reconciled. In the meantime the seven seceding States had sent
delegates to Montgomery, Alabama, to form a new government. The new government was called "The Confederate States of America," and Jefferson Davis of Mississippi was elected President and Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia Vice-President. The delegates declared that in forming a new government it was not the purpose of the Southern people to make war on the United States, and they appointed a committee to go to Washington to arrange about Sumter and other forts and property in the seceded States that were claimed by the United States Government. And so it looked very much as if there would be no war. I was very sorry, for I thought the Abolitionists deserved to be punished for their meddling in our affairs, and I was sure a battle would teach them a good lesson and "bring them to their senses."
The Star of the West, loaded with troops and supplies, and it had been driven back by the batteries in Charleston harbor.
It had been said that Lincoln would never be permitted to take his seat, but he slipped into Washington disguised and was inaugurated President.
Of course everybody wanted to know what he would say in his inaugural address; and when the news came that he had said he would not only hold Fort Sumter, but would retake all the other forts that had been taken possession of by the States that had seceded, the war fever rose higher.
One day news came that Beauregard in command of the Southern forces at Charleston had learned that a fleet of ships was on the way to reinforce Fort Sumter, and he demanded of Major Anderson the surrender of the fort or a promise not to take part in a fight of our batteries with the ships. It was said Anderson had refused to do either, and Beauregard was firing on the fort. The next day news came that it had been taken.
In a few days Lincoln called for seventy- five thousand troops from the different States to invade the South and compel the Southern States to return to the Union.
Then the report came that President Davis was calling for volunteers to be ready to meet them. The Effingham Hussars were talking of offering their services, and a movement was started in Guyton - a small town on the railroad in the western part of the County - to organize a company of infantry. But I knew that in Savannah there was a large number of well-drilled military companies, and I felt sure some of these would be the first to go "to the front"; so I told Major Porter in command of the militia to get another lieutenant for my company, and not to depend on me, for I expected to join the first Savannah company that got orders to leave.
Governor Brown had ordered a number of companies from North Georgia to assemble at Savannah for drill and to be organized into regiments. I went down to see them drill. I also visited Fort Pulaski and saw the big columbiads in position and ready for the Yankee ships that might attempt to come up the river.
The "Georgia Hussars," "The Guards," "The Blues," "The Oglethorpes," "The Jasper Greens," and other Savannah companies were vying with one another for a
place in the Confederate army, but it was impossible to tell which stood the best chance. I returned home and impatiently waited.
Next came the news that Virginia had refused to furnish her quota of troops called for by Lincoln, and had seceded.
In a few days word came from Savannah that Bartow's company, the Oglethorpe Light Infantry, had been ordered to report in Virginia. I was over in the village. I went home in a run and announced the news, and told mother I could not wait for dinner; in fact, I did not want any; that I was going to start at once down the Middleground road, afoot, for Savannah. She reminded me that it was twenty-six miles, and that I could not possibly walk that distance; that I should wait till my father came home and he would take me over to Guyton and I could go to Savannah on the train.
I reluctantly yielded, and set about getting a few more of my things together that I would probably need in the army. When father came home he convinced me of the folly of going on foot to Savannah, and
agreed to take me to Guyton for the early through train from Macon next morning, which would land me in Savannah before eight o'clock. I was dreadfully afraid that every vacancy in the company would be taken before I could get there, but to my great gratification I found, when I reached the armory, that a resolution had been passed by the company the night before rejecting the married men, and that there were in consequence several vacancies. One of the rejected married men offered me his uniform. I was accepted by the company and ordered to call on the proper company officers for a gun and other equipments.
Bartow arrived from Montgomery, and the next day we were escorted through the principal streets of the city by the entire military of Savannah, and somewhere on the march we were halted to receive the flag that had been made for us by the ladies of Savannah. It was on this occasion that Captain Bartow used those memorable words, "I go to illustrate Georgia." I felt that he included me, and it was the proudest day of my life.
We passed through Charleston and on to Richmond. At every station there were
crowds of people, among them young ladies with dainty little rosettes that they pinned on the lapels of our coats. At first an effort was made by the officers to keep the men in the cars when we stopped at a station, but at some places the waits were so long and, from other causes, discipline relaxed and generally when we reached a station the boys rushed out and mingled with the people.
On the third day, I think it was, we arrived at Richmond, and were drawn up in front of the Exchange Hotel. A guard was detailed to take care of the guns, and we "stacked arms" and went in for a "square meal." It was a royal meal, and we were in condition to do it justice. Then we went out to Howard's Grove and pitched tents.
Every day a new company or two would arrive, and finally after about ten days the regiment was formed and officers appointed. Bartow, captain of the Oglethorpe Light Infantry, became colonel; Montgomery Gardner, a Mexican War veteran, lieutenant-colonel; Thomas Cooper, of the Atlanta Grays, major; and John Branch, of our company, adjutant.
In the afternoons the ladies of Richmond by hundreds would visit the camp to see
"dress parade." the Oglethorpes, "the B. B. B.'s," - Bartow's Beardless Boys, - with their handsome blue-black uniforms, with buff trimmings, and the Zouave bayonet drill, "caught the crowd," and more than one Oglethorpe took with him when he left for the front a tiny photograph or a card with a name on it.
I had the good fortune to form the acquaintance of the family of Mr. M. W. Yarrington, treasurer of the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad, of whom I shall have occasion to speak again in these war stories.
Soon we were ordered to Harper's Ferry, making our first march of eighteen miles between the towns of Strasburg and Winchester. Arriving at Harper's Ferry, we marched through the village and went up on Bolivar's Heights, a high ridge between the Potomac and the Shenandoah and overlooking the town from the west. While we were stationed here I went down one day to the Potomac and took a swim among the rocks.
At this point the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad runs along the river bank several hundred feet below the overhanging mountains. The Shenandoah comes in along the Blue Ridge range from the south and joins the Potomac and, with united volume, they seemed literally to have torn their way through the mountain range. The scenery is grand beyond description. From Bolivar Heights we could see the splendid railroad
bridge of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad that spans the river here. We could see also the canal along the north bank of the Potomac.
Not long, however, did we tarry at Harper's Ferry. It was reported that General Patterson, with an army from Pennsylvania, was about to cross the river above us and hem us in. So General Joe Johnston made the first of his famous retreats. We went up the river toward Martinsburg, turned south, and finally got back to Winchester and pitched tents in Hollingsworth Grove, east of the town. Once or twice while here we prepared two or three days' rations and marched toward the Potomac to offer battle, it was said to Patterson.
It was on one of these trips that a personal incident occurred that is worth relating.
Our cooked rations had given out and we were beginning to feel, as all hungry soldiers do, that we had not had "a mouthful for three days." So when we started on our march back for camp John W., Henry P., and myself decided we would "fall out" and
hide in the shrubbery in the front yard of a residence until the army and Captain Scott's "rearguard" had passed; then we would see what could be done at the house for something to eat.
There were some bee-hives among the grass and clover in the front yard. They stood on the end, and a small box, perhaps six inches square, was on each gum. In these was the new honey.
When the army had passed we went to the rear of the large brick residence and rapped on the door. A man responded from an upstairs window and inquired what we wanted. We told him to come down, that we wanted to talk to him. He came. We explained our famishing condition and asked him to sell us a box of honey, one of those small square boxes on the hives. He flatly refused. We told him we were nearly starved; had not eaten anything but green apples for two days and he ought really to give us one of the boxes. He got angry and said we Secessionists had brought all this trouble on the country and a little starving might do us good.
Then John said, "You know, my friend, some soldiers don't ask people to give or sell them things when they are hungry."
"Yes," said he, "I've heard of such, and I'm ready for them." With that he reached inside and got a double-barreled shotgun, and declared that any man who touched his property would do so at the risk of his life.
"Oh! you wouldn't kill a man," said I, "for a few pounds of honey?"
"Yes, I would," he promptly replied.
"But we are willing to buy the honey; sell us that or something else to eat."
"No, I won't, and if any man attempts to take my property I will kill him."
The stock of his gun was on the ground, the palm of his hand over the muzzle. Quick as a flash, as we say, John's rifle was at his breast and, looking him full in the face, John said, "And if you move I'll kill you."
Henry dropped his gun to the same position and said, "We sure will."
The man stood like a statue.
"Well, boys," said I, "if you hold him that way I'll get the honey."
Going to the hives, I put my hankderchief on the grass, looked back to see if they were still holding him, then lifted off the little box, tied the four corners of my handkerchief over it and left. As I passed out of the gate I looked back and saw the three coming
down the walk, the man between John and Henry, and without his gun. They brought him on down the road a few hundred yards and turned him loose. We saw no more of him.
What inconsistent creatures we are! We were in Virginia for the purpose of protecting the people from the invaders who were coming to coerce us and take or destroy our property, and it had not been two months since we were applauding Jackson, the Alexandria hotel proprietor, for killing the colonel of a Federal regiment who with a squad of soldiers had pulled down the Confederate flag from his building and was carrying it off. And here we were entering this man's premises and carrying off his property! The only difference in the two cases was that Colonel Ellsworth was an officer in charge of a body of men for whom he was setting a bad example, while we were private soldiers doing a thing which we knew our officers disapproved and for which we would be severely dealt with if found out. We were both wrong. Jackson was right to defend his property, the Confederate flag, and so was this man in his determination to defend his honey
But let me finish my story. We stopped at a little rippling stream and began on the honey. It was delicious and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Then we lay down at the edge of the stream and filled up with water. Then John stopped, looked serious and said, "Boys, I believe mine is coming ba-, ba-back," and began vomiting. Henry followed suit; and mine at once became restless, and up it came.
On Thursday, the 18th of July, about noon, we got orders to get ready to cook three days' rations. We were at our camp in Hollingsworth Grove, east of Winchester. "Another trot toward Martinsburg all for nothing," said some of the boys; but we cooked the biscuits and fried the "streak of lean and streak of fat" and about two o'clock we struck tents, loaded the wagons, and started. We passed through Winchester and took a road due east. "Where are we going?" was eagerly asked on all sides. No one knew. After marching two or three miles we halted for a rest. The boys crowded around Lieutenant-Colonel Gardner
who always seemed disposed to be sociable and often walked along with us on a march instead of riding. He told us that all he knew was that we were to "stop for the night on the Blue Ridge Mountains yonder," pointing to them. We set up a yell, for the mountains looked to be only three or four miles distant. But we marched till sunset and the sleepy old mountains seemed no nearer than when we started. We kept on. Near midnight some one passed the word back, "Get ready to wade the river." I paid little attention to it, for really all my ideas about a river were of the Savannah, down near Ebenezer, and the Potomac as I saw it at Harper's Ferry, and it seemed absurd to me to talk about wading the river. But, sure enough, in a few minutes we were at the water's edge and the boys waded right into it. I sat down to collect my thoughts and to be sure I was not dreaming. I think I had nodded several times as I was marching. But I could not convince myself it was all a dream, for soon all the boys of the regiment had disappeared in the rapidly flowing stream. And now the wagons began to enter. I thought of scrambling up into one, but they plunged
down the bank so hurriedly that there seemed small chance of my getting into one of them. So I took up seriously the matter of crossing on my own account.
I decided it would be best to have dry clothes and shoes for the march after I crossed, so I pulled them off and tied them up in a bundle. This I hung on my gun and, with a heavy knapsack on my back and my bundle of clothes swung to my gun overhead, I entered the stream. Again my thoughts reverted to the Savannah River, and old Ebenezer Creek near my home. Their bottoms were of clay or sand, but this river, the Shenandoah, seemed to have its bottom covered with crushed rocks, with their sharp edges upward. From my earliest recollection I could never walk well at night, and feeling my way over this rocky bottom, and with the swift current twisting my legs (the water was from two to three feet deep), I made slow time, you may be sure. But finally I reached the eastern bank and, putting on my clothes and shoes, I went forward to overtake the boys, who, I thought, were surely asleep by this time on the mountain, for it was midnight. I soon found I was "going up hill, more than down,"
and knew I was climbing the mountain. A mile or two brought me among the boys, who were lying on each side of the road. Many a short "No, you fool," greeted me as I waked up first one and then another to inquire if this was Company B, Eighth Georgia. The regiment was marching "by the right flank," which put Company B near the front, and that meant I must pass through six hundred men before reaching "our boys." But I finally reached them and, dropping down on the rocky road, was soon asleep.
Friday morning, the 19th, came all too soon, and we resumed the march down the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge.
After a march of two hours, and covering a distance of perhaps five miles, we came to a place where a carriage gate on our left opened and a circular driveway led to a large brick residence with a long veranda. A negro in a white apron stood in the gateway and, with intense earnestness, kept saying, "Missus says come up to breakfast." "Come right up, Missus says, all of you
come right up." Company A, the Rome Light Guards, wore a handsome gray uniform with frock coats, and Company B, the Oglethorpes, followed in a handsome blue-black uniform, and not only frock coats but with epaulet straps on our shoulders, giving us much the appearance of officers. The boys hurrahed, saying: "The fool thinks we are officers." But the negro pressed his invitation from "Missus" so earnestly that the head of the column turned into the gateway and up the drive. When we approached the house a lady standing on the front veranda said, "Glad to see you, dear boys; just pass round the house to the dining- room." We passed; we came to the dining- room; we entered. It makes me hungry now as I write this, fifty years afterward, and think of what I saw on that dining-room table: biscuits by the bushel, sliced bread and ham in stacks two feet high, cakes and doughnuts of all sizes and shapes, and on each side of the exit door innumerable tubs and cans of hot coffee. There was too much going on for me to try to describe all I saw in that wonderful dining-room. But we were not allowed to tarry. A half dozen or more ladies were posted along the sides
of the long table and they literally passed us along, at the same time stuffing our haversacks as we proceeded, and saying, "You haven't time to stop to eat; you are going to Manassas to help Beauregard; the Yankees attacked him yesterday and were repulsed. You must get there to help him."
This was our first knowledge that we were going to Manassas. It is needless to say that, coming under the circumstances I have feebly described and from the lips of these dear women, the news that we were soon to take a hand in driving back the invaders filled us with a joy and gladness little short of ecstasy. As we passed down the circular driveway to the other gate and out to the turnpike, I saw the stream of men still moving up toward that dining-room. The scene is as fresh and vivid in my mind today as when I saw it that Friday morning July 19, 1861.
That day we came to a station on the Manassas Gap Railroad, said to be about twenty-five miles from Manassas Junction, our destination according to the good ladies
who furnished our breakfast and filled our haversacks. About sunset we boarded a freight train. You remember it was July. I thought the top of the car would be the best place, so I climbed up. But soon the heated metal and boards, supplemented with cinders and smoke from the engine, caused me to want to be inside the car. So at the first station I swung down and entered. I thought of the "black hole of Calcutta" and began to think my time had come - not from Yankee bullets, but from choking suffocation. I felt that I was being cooked alive. I have disliked the looks of a freight car ever since that night. Do you blame me? I slept some, of course, but was waked up every few minutes, it seemed to me, by rude jolts as we backed or went into a side track to get out of the way of an approaching train.
It was said the employees or officials were in sympathy with the Yankees and were simply "killing time" to delay our arrival at Manassas. However that may be, it is a fact we took all night to make that twenty five miles, and did not reach Manassas Junction until seven or eight o'clock Saturday morning.
I saw Beauregard for the first time that morning. It was when Colonel Bartow rode up to him and said, "General, I am here with my boys, the Eighth Georgia Regiment, and I have promised them they shall be in the opening of the fight." "They shall be gratified," replied Beauregard, and, calling an officer, directed him to take Colonel Bartow out to some road to the extreme right. We marched out about three miles and halted in a piece of woods.
Beauregard was of rather small stature, smooth-faced, and with swarthy complexion. He was quick-spoken and bright.
Now I am not going to tell minutely all that I saw and heard in every battle that I was in, but as the Battle of Manassas or Bull Run was my first, and as a battle is so different from what it is thought by most people to be, I will try to tell everything about this one that I think will interest the reader.
Just after dark Colonel Bartow came down to the company - his Savannah boys, the Oglethorpe Light Infantry now known as Company B - and gave us a fatherly talk. I remember his saynig he had secured for us the honor of being in the opening of the battle, which would begin at daylight, and he felt sure we would acquit ourselves well. But his last words somewhat saddened me. He said, "But remember, boys, that battle and fighting mean death, and probably before sunrise some of us will be dead." As
I lay on my blanket, when all was hushed and still, and looked up at the starry vault and thought of the morrow and the last words of Bartow, I confess I was a bit homesick. But I slept soundly.
The dawn came, but there was nothing that seemed like a battle. Sunrise came, but still no battle. Then Bartow came and moved about nervously, as if worried. Then he galloped away, but about eight o'clock, it must have been, he dashed up and exclaimed, "Get ready, men! the battle has been raging for two hours on our extreme left, and we must go there at once." Soon we were in line and off at a double quick for "our left," which I supposed meant over in the woods a half mile or so west of us. But on we went. Frequently Colonel Bartow would gallop up to troops or artillery in position as we passed along in their rear and inquire, "Is this our extreme left?" He was told it was not, and on we trotted. My! how tired I was and how the perspiration oozed from every pore! Presently from an officer of an artillery company that we were passing, Colonel Bartow received the answer that he was at the extreme left. We had come four or five miles, I am sure. The
head of our column turned to the right. We passed through a skirt of woods, then into a cornfield, the stalks being about waist high. We were halted and Lieutenant Colonel Gardner said, "Let the men load their guns and lie down." He said this very calmly, and as if no special significance attached to his words.
A large apple tree was to our left, loaded with red apples, and many of the boys, as soon as they finished loading, ran to it and with rocks and lumps of dirt began to throw at the apples; some climbed up the tree. The company officers yelled to them to come back into ranks. Colonel Gardner remarked, "I see a battery taking position over yonder; they will need orders in a few minutes." A battery means an artillery company with four cannons. I did not know this at that time, and he spoke so calmly I had no thought he meant anything very serious.
He had scarcely uttered the words when I heard a cannon, and a moment after I heard the shrieking ball, - a conical shell, I afterward learned it was, - and it seemed coming straight for me. The boys dropped from the apple tree like shot bears, and scrambled on hands and knees for their
places in the line. Under some circumstances the sight was a laughable one, but not so to me at that moment. I felt that I was in the presence of death. My first thought was, "This is unfair; somebody is to blame for getting us all killed. I didn't come out here to fight this way; I wish the earth would crack open and let me drop in." Now that cannon was only about a half mile away, and that ball was only two or three seconds reaching us, but all those thoughts passed through my mind in those brief moments. Then with a shrieking, unearthly sound - woo-oo-oo- p-o-w! It passed and exploded. To say I was frightened, is tame. The truth is, there is no word in Webster's Unabridged that describes my feelings. I had never been in the very presence of death before, and if my hair at that moment had turned as white as cotton it would not have surprised me. Colonel Gardner was standing a few feet away from where I was lying. "That went a hundred feet over us," he coolly said, "but the next will come closer. Here it comes! lie low!" He was looking at the cannons, of course, and saw the flash. I wriggled to get lower as he directed, but the ground was hard and I couldn't get into it. I think
I tried to spread and flatten myself. But it was all in vain. The noise of the ball left no room for doubt that in a moment I would be killed. "What a fool! I'm gone! I'm dead!" Just then the ball struck the ground a few feet ahead of us. It went into the earth and exploded, throwing a wagonload of earth and clods into the air. A lump as big as my fist fell on me, striking between my shoulders. I stretched out both hands and shut my eyes. I was dead; that is, I thought I was, which was all the same for the moment. The next ball passed over Company A and Company B and struck in Company C, and exploded, killing and wounding several men. Colonel Bartow galloped up at this moment to Colonel Gardner and exclaimed, "They have your range, Colonel, charge them!"
"Attention, right face, double quick, march!" cried out Gardner. Every man was on his feet immediately. We ran forward a few steps, then halted. Colonel Gardner took his position before the regiment and said, "Men, I am no orator. I shall not attempt to make you a speech. Keep your ranks, do your duty, and show you are worthy of the State from which you came!
Right face, double quick, march!" These were Colonel Gardner's exact words. We were off in a run for the guns. We moved by the right flank, which means the right end of the regiment in front, and I will add here, for the information of the children, that a regiment consists of ten companies, each company having usually seventy or eighty men. Our regiment numbered about seven hundred that morning. I suppose it was the intention of our commander to get the regiment on the flank or side of the battery before charging it, killing or driving off the men and capturing the guns.
Of course while we were running forward the men at the cannons changed the direction of the guns and continued to fire at us. We made good headway, however, and were soon on the flank of the battery. It was stationed near the oft-mentioned Henry house. We entered a pine sapling thicket, and were halted directly north of the house. Then we faced to the left and started forward. A few steps brought us to the edge of the thicket and, looking up the hillside, we saw
the "Bluecoats" literally covering the earth. They were in the shubbery in the front yard, down through the horse lot, behind the stables and barns and haystacks. Seemingly a thousand rifles were flashing and the air was alive with whistling bullets. Men were dropping at my right and left. I kneeled at a sapling, fired, reloaded, and fired again; but it was impossible to see if my shots hit anyone. To my right and left I could hear the balls striking our boys, and I saw many of them fall forward, some groaning in agony, others dropping dead without a word. It seemed to me, every second, a bullet cut the bark of my sapling and I felt sure I would be struck, but I loaded and fired as rapidly as I could.
Colonel Gardner was one of the first men wounded. I saw him drop down and seize his ankle, and I asked him if I could help him. "No," he replied, "shoot on." Presently there was some commotion to our right and, looking in that direction, I saw a line of Federal soldiers coming through the thick undergrowth not more than fifty steps distant. They fired a volley down our line. A ball from this volley struck my gun at the small of the stock, burning my little finger,
and passed across my breast. I saw it was "all up" with us, and as everyone about me seemed to be dead or wounded, I determined to take my chances of saving myself by getting away as fast as I could. I had no order to retreat, but I felt that was the thing to do; so I left my sapling and was soon out of the thicket.
Just ahead of me I saw a body of men crowding around a flag, but moving along quite rapidly. I ran toward them, and soon recognized the flag as our own Eighth Georgia banner. No shipwrecked sailor, floating on driftwood and seeing a rescuing ship approaching, would have been more overjoyed than I was at the sight of that flag, just then. I could have shed tears. But by the time I overtook them I was exhausted and could scarcely put one foot before the other. I just could not keep up, so I dropped down into a gully to catch breath. The air seemed so full of bullets that I felt if I raised my hand it would be struck.
While lying here I looked across the fields westward and saw a body of soldiers in
crimson uniform emerge from a piece of woods and start across the old field. What a beautiful sight they were, as with well preserved line they moved across the undulating field! I knew they were Yankees, and my heart sank as I saw them move along in such a beautiful line. Presently they reached the eastern edge of the old field and entered a thicket of small pines and undergrowth. I saw the white smoke rise above the bushes, and I heard the rattle of musketry. How it thrilled me! The soldiers in red burst back into the open, every fellow for himself. Their arms were moving wildly, guns and haversacks and canteens were being hurled right and left, and now from the woods rushed their pursuers, the Confederates, shooting as they ran. In a few minutes it was all over. The famous New York Fire Zouaves had met more than their match and had been driven pell-mell across the field over which they had advanced a few minutes before in such a beautiful line.
But all this occurred in much less time than it has taken me to write it. I felt rested enough to get another "move" on me, and I soon ran upon our boys again, who had halted behind a hill. In a few minutes an
officer on a horse, who seemed to be carrying orders, rode up and conducted us to the rear. Where two roads crossed we passed Beauregard. He raised his hat and said, "I salute you, gallant Eighth." The regiment ever after bore this name, given to it by the commanding general in this its first baptism of fire. Hampton's regiment of South Carolinians was in line here and we took position behind them.
Our regiment had been badly disorganized, and no one seemed to have charge of us. We were simply following our color-bearer. It proved that Colonel Bartow, who was acting brigade commander that morning in charge of the Seventh and Eighth Georgia regiments, had left us to bring up the Seventh. He was killed leading that regiment to our relief. Our Lieutenant Colonel Gardner was wounded, as I said, just after we entered the thicket and, being unable to retire, was captured. The next in command, Major Cooper, had in some way become separated from the regiment in the thicket and did not find us until two or three o'clock in the afternoon.
While we were lying down in the rear of Hampton's regiment, our color-bearer,
Charles Daniel, kept our flag flying. Again and again it was struck by rifle balls, but it was of silk and they failed to pierce it, simply making a shrill whistle as they glanced on it. More than once some one of our boys called out, "Put down that flag." But Daniel replied, "They told me to hold it up when they gave it to me, and I'll do it." "Put down that flag; they'll know we are here." "That's what we want," said Daniel, and kept it flying.
After a while Hampton's command was ordered forward, and we were led back a few hundred yards and ordered to remain there and reorganize.
About four o'clock reports came that the Yankees had been driven back and were crossing Bull Run. Captain West of our company said he wanted to know who of our boys were killed, and he started off for the sapling thicket where we had fought. With his permission, I accompanied him.
I shall never forget the feeling that came over me as I walked among the dead that afternoon. "Surely, surely," I said, "there
will never be another battle." It seemed to me barbarous for men to try to settle any dispute or controversy by shooting one another, and, now that it had been realized what a battle meant, I felt sure there would never be another. But not so thought those both North and South who had not taken part in this battle. And so there was no trouble in getting volunteers by the thousand from both sections, to take the places of those who had been killed.
The day after the battle I walked over the battle-field and stopped a few minutes at a hospital. The surgeons were still busy amputating legs and arms. I saw a squad of soldiers burying the dead, and there were other squads with wagons gathering up guns and cartridge boxes. I went among the saplings in the thicket where we had fought. I saw trees not more than eight inches in diameter that had been struck by at least twenty balls, and I wondered how any of us escaped. As I am not writing a history, but only telling what I saw, I will not attempt to give an account of the battle. In fact, I know of my own knowledge very little beyond what occurred right around me. No one can see a battle, for it covers miles
of country with intervening woods, and hills, and ravines, and the excitement is so great that many soldiers do not even see what is going on within a few steps of them.
I have often thought that one on a ship going down at sea must have the most helpless feeling possible, but I think a battle not only makes one feel perfectly helpless, but also impresses on him as nothing else can what an insignificant creature in an army one man is. I believe, too, no soldier in the ranks ever wanted to go into a second battle. Of course he was willing to go, but only as a duty that pride and honor would not let him openly avoid.
In pictures of battles we often see lines of men running eagerly toward the enemy. The picture is correct in one respect only: the men do run forward toward a battery or breastworks or another line of men, who shoot them as they approach, but not a man in that charging line is really eager to go forward - not if he had ever one time been under fire in a battle.
And yet I once saw a man shed tears because
he had missed being in a battle. The man was Joseph Gnann of our company. When we received orders, as I have stated, on the 18th of July, at Winchester, to strike tents and start we knew not where, Joe was down sick and could not go with us. But when the news reached him that a battle was actually going on at Manassas, he got up and set out to join the company. He reached us two or three days after the battle and, standing in a group of the boys who were telling incidents of the day, he listened as eagerly as a child to a fairy tale. As he drank in the stories, his eyes filled with tears that flowed over and coursed down his cheeks. "Excuse me, boys; I can't help it; the one battle that I came out here to be in had been fought and I have missed it;" I was at his side when we went into the next fight, at Dam Number One, on the Peninsula near Yorktown, and I am sure he was glad when the order to charge was given; and when the Vermonters took to their heels at our first volley, accompanied by the stirring "rebel yell," and we stopped from our pursuit of them and dropped into the ditch at the water's edge, I could hardly
keep him from hugging me. He was so overjoyed. He was in a number of other engagements, but after awhile he left us to take a lieutenant's place in a company of the Fifty-fourth Georgia, in the western army, and in the battle in Atlanta, July 22, 1864, he was killed - three years to a day, almost exactly, from the day he shed tears because he had missed the battle of Manassas.
About two months after the battle of Manassas our commanding general, Joseph E. Johnston, took a notion to move the army up toward Washington to see what was going on; perhaps to find out if the Yankees had really gone back across the Potomac in the flight from Bull Run. Two days after, not two months, would have been considered too long for this move by some men.
Our regiment was sent to Mason and Munson's Hill, within sight of Alexandria and the dome of the Capitol in Washington. The Federal army seemed to be around Alexandria on this side of the river.
One very dark night a party of us was taken out for outpost duty. We followed an old road, and two men were left at each post with instructions to make no noise and
both to stay awake. My companion was Henry Parnell. We stood in the road at the end of what seemed, in the pitchy darkness, to be an old barn or stable. Sometime in the night, when all was still and quiet as a graveyard, we heard a movement in the loft of the barn. We moved up closer to each other and I felt my hair rising on my head. The noise became louder. I whispered to Henry to know what he thought it meant. "M-a-n, I think," he whispered. We waited in breathless silence. Then there was more noise, as if there were several of them. "You go around that side of the house and I'll go on this side," I whispered. On my side was a door, on Henry's, a window. The door was closed. I stood a moment by it, listening; and I took hold of it softly and jerked it open. As I did so Henry yelled out, "O-o-e-ee!" and exclaimed, "It's a cat! He jumped right into my breast."
Just before daylight the corporal of the guard came to relieve us. We reported, "Nothing unusual observed."
One night I was detailed, with John Webb, for an advanced picket post. Knowing that
soldiers on guard, "taking turns" with one another, never agree about the "off time" - that is, the time spent alternately in sleep by them - I urged that we both stay up all night. John objected, and I finally let it go his way, with probably a "mental reservation."
I let John take the first "off," and woke him up when I thought he had slept two hours, to take his turn keeping watch. He protested, of course, that he had not slept two hours. Then I stretched out on the ground for my nap. It seemed to me that I had just gotten soundly to sleep when John nudged me, saying, "Your time." I got up, rubbed my eyes and took my position on the off side of the big chestnut tree, but I called up that "mental reservation" and as soon as John got to snoring vigorously I went round and woke him up. He said he had just gotten to sleep, but I pointed out a star and told him about its position when he "turned in" and remarked: "Stars don't lie." I lay down, but did not shut my eyes. Presently I yawned and turned over. John came and stooped over me in order to be sure I was sleeping soundly. Then he spoke, "Sorry to have to wake you, but - " "Confound you!" I said, "you don't have to wake
me, for I haven't closed my eyes since I lay down, and I haven't been here for a half hour." He admitted he might be mistaken. Then we agreed to spend the rest of the night without "taking turns," but it seemed to me the longest night I ever spent.
On one occasion I saw two men executed, men who had been tried by a court-martial and sentenced to be shot. I am sure it will interest my young friends to know exactly how it is done, so I will describe the affair.
It was in the fall or early part of the winter of 1861-1862, while our army was stationed at Centerville. We had in the army a battalion of men from Louisiana, known as the "Tiger Rifles." They wore Zouave uniforms, that is, baggy knee breeches, stockings, a jacket, and a turban. Each one carried also a large camp knife in a sheath suspended from his waist-belt. They were said to be rough men, requiring the strictest discipline by the officers. Two of them had overpowered an officer and was about to kill him, and for this they had been court-martialed and condemned to be shot.
Announcement had been made in an order from General Johnston, commanding the army at that time, that the execution would take place on a certain day, and it seemed to be expected that it would be witnessed by the whole army. During all the forenoon of the designated day crowds of soldiers could be seen wending their way to the place where the execution was to take place. When I reached the place there were probably five thousand soldiers already on the ground. Three sides of a hollow square, the sides probably four hundred feet long, had been formed, and sentinels were marching up and down keeping the crowd back. On the open side of the square were two posts standing about two feet out of the ground and perhaps thirty feet apart. The crowd rapidly increased until probably fifteen thousand men were standing on the three sides of the hollow square.
I had a position in the front row, but the crowd behind kept pushing forward, and the sentinel threatened repeatedly to put his bayonet into those of us in front if we did not stand back. Finally the prisoners arrived. They came in a wagon, which also contained their coffins. They were led to
the posts and made to kneel down with their backs to them. Their hands were tied behind them and then tied to the posts, and they were blindfolded. Two platoons of twelve soldiers each were marched out in front of them. They were of the same command with the men who were to be shot. It was said that only six of the guns in each platoon had balls in them, the others being loaded with blank cartridges, - that is, cartridges without balls. But no soldier knew which guns had the ball cartridges in them, as they had been loaded by others. The officer in charge of the two platoons stood somewhat to their front, where he could readily be seen by all of the men of the two platoons. Without saying a word, he raised his hands and the men brought their guns to the position of aim. He dropped his hand and they fired. The orders were given silently by these movements, so that the prisoners would not know the exact moment when they would be killed. It was a very sad sight and one that deeply impressed me.
On one of those occasions that frequently occurred in the hurried forming of a line
of battle, it happened that a farmhouse occupied by an old gentleman and his wife and daughter was exactly on the line. Supposing, like ourselves, that the battle would begin in a few minutes, they hurried away, leaving everything at the mercy of the soldiers. The battle did not take place, however, and that afternoon some of the boys tested the old man's honey. In doing so they angered the bees and some of those who had no part in taking the honey got stung. Among them was my close companion and messmate, Billy Dasher. His sting was just under the eye, and by next morning that member was completely closed up and his entire face much swollen.
The owner of the house returned and at once made complaint to our captain, who happened to be right at hand, that the men had been taking his honey. "They shall be punished, sir," the captain promptly replied, and suiting his action to his word immediately instructed the orderly sergeant to call out the company for investigation. Standing before the company, he appealed to the men to act honorably in the matter and not put him to the trouble of interrogating each man. He asked all who had taken part in the affair
to step out and take their punishment like men. Promptly five or six stepped forward, among them my friend, Dasher. Announcing their punishment, ten days extra guard duty, he dismissed the company. Now Dasher was known by everybody in the company to be a model soldier in ever respect, and some of us were present when he was stung and we knew he didn't have anything to do with taking the honey. Of course we wanted to know what he meant by stepping forward as one of the guilty. He explained it thus: "You see, if with my face swollen by a bee sting I had not pleaded guilty, the captain and others would have probably have thought I was not acting honorably in failing to own up as the others did, so I just decided to take the punishment rather than create that kind of impression." Rare man he was, and a better soldier never followed Lee.
On one occasion when our regiment was trying to occupy an advanced position just beyond an open space through which the cannon balls and shells were flying, our commander ordered us to run across in groups.
Just as my group got fairly into the opening a shell exploded right at the head of the man in front of me. He was knocked down and hurled several feet. When I reached the woods on the other side, Lieutenant Bliss, commanding our company at that time, exclaimed in surprise, "Why, Zettler, I was sure that it was you that shell killed." "No," I replied, "it was Jim Carolan, and the shell took his head off right at his shoulders." While we were still speaking of the occurrence, Jim ran into the midst of us, his face so blackened by the powder that we scarcely recognized him. The concussion had knocked him down, but fortunately the fragments of the shell had all missed him.
Captain Dunlap Scott of our regiment had been assigned to the command of the rear guard, whose duty it was to scour the woods to the right and left of the marching column on a retreat to pick up stragglers and foragers. It became the custom of the boys, when a man was seen sneaking away in the woods to yell, "Scott! Scott!" and sometimes when the captain made his appearance
in the camp some wag would put his face to the ground and yell, "S-c-o-t-t!" Immediately the cry would be taken up by others, and others, until it traveled entirely through the brigade.
On our trip from Northern Virginia, in the spring of 1862, to the Peninsula, we passed through Richmond. Captain Scott had been absent on sick leave. As we marched down Main Street he walked out of the Spotswood Hotel. Immediately some one yelled "S-c-o-t-t!" and the marching column took it up. The merchants ran to their doors to see what was the matter, and some even came out into the street to inquire who was General Scott that the men were cheering so loudly. Captain Scott, when the yelling began, coolly stepped upon the carriage stone in front of the hotel and stood with bared head, waving his hat and smiling as if returning thanks for a compliment the soldiers were paying him.
It was the first afternoon, I think, of our arrival on the Peninsula, in March, 1862, to reinforce Magruder, who was holding McClellan in check. Through a dense smoke from burning woods we were moved into a hummock that was being vigorously shelled.
Limbs and tree tops were falling about us and shells bursting overhead. It became so "hot" that Colonel Lamar remarked, "They are shooting as if they know we are here; break ranks and take care of yourselves behind the trees." We did so very promptly. There was some desultory shooting just ahead of us, as if pickets were exchanging shots. Presently the cannonading ceased and all was quiet except the occasional crack of a rifle. Suddenly there was a shout, a sort of "Hoo-raw," such as the Yankees sometimes made when about to charge, followed immediately by a volley of musketry - all seemingly not more than a hundred yards in our front. We rushed into line and were ordered to lie down. Then we heard a noise as if ten thousand Texas steers were coming toward us. And now, bursting up us, came a mob of panicky soldiers - Confederates. They were without guns; some had spades in their hands, and others a cartridge box or a coat. They were looking in the tree tops and their eyeballs were as large as tea-cups. The toe of one fellow struck my head and he fell between me and the next man in line. As soon as he struck the ground he began wildly
to ask, "Is this Company E? Is this Company E?" "No, you fool!" my comrade said. The man was on his feet at once and, tearing away the bushes, continued his wild flight to the rear.
"Attention, forward!" came from our colonel. We rushed forward and entered a somewhat open space and, there before us, not fifty yards distant was what seemed to be about two companies of Yankees standing in line with their back to us. We fired and rushed ahead with a yell, loading and shooting as we ran. It was now the Yankees' turn for a stampede, and, every man for himself, they skedaddled. We followed them into the pond, but the water seemed to stretch out beyond sight in front of us. The Yankees were in up to their waists and some of our boys did not stop until they got in as deep. Then we dropped back to a shallow ditch at the edge of the water and were ordered to "get down." We had scarcely gotten into the ditch when the cannons opened on the other side of the swamp, making it necessary for us to keep well down in the ditch, and for an hour they made it very uncomfortable for us. That portion of the ditch where I was had not less than fifteen
inches of water in it, but it was safe, so we held our places without murmuring until the firing ceased, then we crawled out and stretched off on the ground for a good night's rest.
This affair, as I afterward gathered it from various sources, was this: A North Carolina regiment was holding the position along this swamp and creek with a dam across the stream, causing the overflow of the hummocks and swamp above. The regiment was engaged in throwing up a line of breastworks, their guns being stacked in the rear, with their accouterments and jackets hung on them. A few pickets were down at the edge of the water. The Yankees on the opposite side, learning the situation, resolved to wade through without firing and surprise and stampede the force at work on the entrenchment and cut the dam. One of the wounded Yankees told me it was four companies of a Vermont regiment, the Third, I think, that undertook the venture, and he said they were to be handsomely rewarded if they succeeded. He said also that they were told there were no other Confederate troops near, "for the woods in the rear had been shelled till a rat couldn't stay
in them." He pluckily declared, too, that if we hadn't been there they would have succeeded. And it did look that way, but that little if spoiled it.
It is thought by many if Albert Sidney Johnston had not received a mortal wound at a critical moment in the Battle of Shiloh or Pittsburg Landing, General Grant would never have been heard of after that battle; and a still great number believe that if the accidental shooting of Stonewall Jackson by his own men at Chancellorsville had not occurred, Hooker's army would have suffered a more disastrous defeat than McDowell sustained at Manassas, and the battle of Gettysburg, if fought at all, would have been a Confederate victory and resulted in the establishment of the Confederate Government - all changed by that little word if.
While McClellan was extending his lines around Richmond in the summer of 1862, and General Lee was planning to "Lift him out of his boots," as we know he did in the memorable Seven Days' Battles, our regiment was doing picket duty just beyond
Price's farm near the Nine Mile Road and only about five miles from the city. The picket lines were too near for fires and cooking, and with my messmate, Bill Dasher, I had the good luck to be detailed on the cook squad to prepare rations and bring them to the company each day. We usually got up each morning at daylight, started the log heap fire and put on the camp kettles to boil the chunks of beef, each piece about three-fourths of a pound in weight, and got the "spiders" ready to bake the thirty-five or forty hoe cakes (one for each man). By eight o'clock we were on our way to the picket line with our camp kettles, filled with meat and bread, swung on a pole between us. After distributing the rations we returned to the cook camp and spent the afternoon in reading such books or papers as we could get hold of or in playing cards or shooting marbles. Our readers will readily understand now why the cook squad appointment was considered a lucky detail. There was no standing guard; no picket duty for them.
Our camp being, as I have said, only about five miles from Richmond, it was very natural for the boys to slip away and spend the evening
in the city. To prevent this, sentinel posts had been established at three or four places on all the roads leading into the city. But the boys soon learned to "run the blockade." I proposed to Dasher that we try it one evening. He assented and, getting the necessary points about the location of the sentinel posts from the boys who had been in, we set out about sunset. We made a successful "run," and in about two hours were at the front door of our friend, Mr. W. W. Yarrington, whom I mentioned in a previous chapter. The family were delighted to see us again and Mrs. Yarrington and her niece, Miss Josie Sharpe, insisted on giving us a square home-cooked supper. We yielded. Then they filled our haversacks with all sorts of good things and, learning that we had time to read, included several magazines. The hours flew quickly, and soon it was time for retiring. We told them that our duties required us to be back at the camp by sunrise and we must leave the city by dawn. Mr. Yarrington showed us how to use the night latch to get out and then conducted us to our room. When we looked at the snowy sheets and pillow slips, we decided they were too nice for us, so
we stretched off on the floor and were soon asleep. We woke at daylight and started for camp.
We had learned that the sentinels along the road were instructed to stop no soldiers going out of the city to their commands, so we had no fear of being arrested and kept the road. When we had gone about tow miles we discovered that we were not in the right road, so we concluded to pass through a skirt of woods to the road farther east, which we were told was the "Nine Mile Road" - our road. As we emerged from the woods a soldier rose out of the grass and, leveling his "smoothbore" at us, called out, "Halt there!" He came up to us and said, "Running the blockade, eh?" "By no means," I replied, "we are on our way to camp." "What you doing off the road if you're going to camp?" We showed him our haversacks filled with city cooked things, bread and ham and cakes, and our magazines, but they failed to convince him. He was proud of his prisoners as a country urchin of his first bluejay and he marched us to the sergeant at the road. I think the sergeant was satisfied that we were, this time, on our way out, but he probably suspected
that we might have "run the blockade" going in. So he thought it best to send us to our colonel, and our captor was told to take us to him. One the way we repeated our story and explained how we came to be in that woods, and we assured him that our colonel would not do a thing to us and he would have his long walk for nothing. We asked him to sit down and rest while we went to the spring for a drink of water. But nothing would move him from his purpose. He was a "new issue," as we called the soldiers who enlisted the second year of the war, and had just come from the coast near Savannah. He was yet "fresh," and under the impression that a soldier must always obey orders and never "look the other way" when he had a comrade a prisoner.
When we came in sight of the colonel's tent-fly I said, "See the man yonder in his shirt sleeves; he is our colonel." he had probably never seen an officer without his coat, and seemed not inclined to believe me, but we were soon in the colonel's presence. "Good-morning, Colonel!" we said, "here is a Richmond Dispatch, and see what our Richmond friends gave us on our way to camp," at the same time covering his camp
chest with the best in our haversacks. "Yes, yes, yes, boys! those Richmond ladies are the finest in the world. We must not let the Yankees take Richmond, boys, never, never!" "But, colonel, we are prisoners. This man arrested us on our way out and insisted on bringing us to our colonel." "Ah," said he, looking at our captor, "and were you instructed to bring them to their colonel? Well, I'm Colonel Lamar of the Eight Georgia Regiment, and these are my men, so you have done your duty. You may go." "On the cook squad, boys?" addressing us. "I see! then you may go too."
We concluded to give our "new issue" a point or two, and went after him. "Say, here, you mosquito-fighter, we are two and you are one; you are our prisoner now, and we intend to initiate you. Yes, sir, when we get through with you you'll know a thing or two." He was thoroughly "scared up" and pleaded with us not to hurt him. But we assured him it was necessary for him to go "through the course." The tears gathered in his eyes, and he declared if we would just "post" him about the ways of old soldiers he would always hereafter try to follow them. Being satisfied that he was thoroughly
repentant, we agreed to let him off this time and allowed him to go. "Say, boys," he said, as he started, "are all the colonels out here like yourn?" We answered "Not quite," which was true, for Lamar was one of the handsomest officers in Lee's army, and as clever and brave as he was handsome, and he was the idol of his regiment.
Early in the war scouts and pickets got to resorting to all sorts of projects for obtaining information about things in front. One of these was climbing into the top of a tree. The other fellows, however, soon found this out, and it got to be a dangerous venture, for with field-glasses they would locate you and send a rifle ball into the tree top, and sometimes they would even use a small rifled cannon to bring down the man in the tree.
On one occasion when I was away from the company for a few days on a special detail, it changed position, and in reaching the company I passed under a large cherry tree that had quantities of cherries on it. I asked the boys why they did not get them.
"The Yankees object," they replied. "They seem to keep a watch on that tree and shoot into it if they see the leaves shake." "Nonsense," I said, "they can't see anyone among the leaves in that tree." "Try it if you want to test the matter," they said, and I proceeded to do so. When I got up about ten feet from the ground, I looked over the hill and, sure enough, there were two or three Yankees standing at a cannon seemingly less than three hundred yards distant. I stood on a limb and reached my hand up among the cherries, keeping my eyes fixed, however, on the cannon. There was a flash. I let my feet go from under me and struck the ground just as the ball whisked through the tree where I had been standing. I concluded, like the fox with the grapes, that those cherries were no good anyway and I did not want them.
While the army was in front of Richmond, previous to the Seven Days' Battles, we received a payment from the Government of twenty dollars as a bounty or for service. Many of the men at once began to gamble with their money. One day a party of them was having an unusually interesting game. They were sitting on the ground just under
the brow of the hill; the cards and "chips" and "pot" were on a few pieces of boards on the ground in front of them. A number of us were standing over them anxious to see who would rake in the "pot." We forgot, for the moment, that in standing up at that particular place we could be seen by the Yankees at a small sand fort just across the hill. Suddenly there was the report of a cannon and at the same moment a ball tore through the apple tree just above our heads. We dropped down on the players and they in turn tumbled over one another, scattering in every direction the grains of corn that represented "chips" and constituted the "pot." An ill shot, we might say, that did somebody good.
It was the latter part of August, 1862. Stonewall Jackson had gone to the rear of Pope, seized his supplies at Manassas Junction and cut the telegraph wires between him and Washington city. (Read in the Records of the Federal and Confederate armies, published by the United States Congress, of the telegraphic messages passing between Stanton
and Pope at the time Jackson was cutting the wires. They will make you laugh.) Pope it seems was puzzled as to the whereabouts of Lee, and even thought for awhile that the trouble in his rear was only the work of a band of cavalry raiders. A few days after Jackson started on this flank movement, Lee took most of Longstreet's corps from Pope's front, at Rappahannock Station, and, going up the Rappahannock River ten or fifteen miles, crossed over and was proceeding down the turnpike west of Bull Run mountains, with a view doubtless of forming a junction with Jackson on Pope's flank or in his rear.
It was Thursday, the 28th of August, and one of the hottest days I ever experienced, that we were making this rapid march. I learned afterward that we were hastening to get through Thoroughfare Gap and to the east side of this little range of mountains before Pope should discover the movement.
Tige Anderson's brigade formed the head of the column that day, with the Eighth Georgia in the lead. The position of the Oglethorpes - Company B of the regiment - put us very near the front. During most of the morning General Lee and General
Longstreet rode side by side just ahead of us, and once in crossing a little stream they stopped to let their horses drink while we continued on up the hill. Presently they rode by and on to the front. General Lee passed close enough for me to have put my hand on "Traveller." I looked up into General Lee's face as he passed me. It was the closest view I ever had of him. His appearance was exactly as he looks in all the pictures of him, especially the one that is printed with the engraved copy of his farewell address to the army at Appomattox, a picture that hangs on thousands of walls in houses and halls and business offices throughout the South.
About one o'clock we came to a halt in the broiling sun on the turnpike. It was said some of the artillery horses were giving out from the heat and it was necessary to halt the column to let them rest.
Two or three men in the front of the regiment concluded they would go ahead to try to get some buttermilk, or something to eat
from one of those dear Virginia housewives who seemed always able to find something for a hungry Confederate. Presently they came running back almost out of breath, and without their guns. They reported that in a village half a mile down the road some Yankee cavalry came on them, and after learning that they belonged to Longstreet's corps of Lee's army and that it was only a half mile away, broke their gunstocks against the trees, and turned them loose. Of course the information they obtained was far more important than caring for two or three prisoners, and they doubtless made rapid time getting the news to Pope.
The men were sent to General Lee, who was only a few steps away, and soon the column was again under way. But now we marched slowly, for a while, with a strong skirmish line in front. After passing through the village we quickened our steps, and were soon in sight of the Gap, eight or ten miles away. Just before sunset we reached it, but in the open space beyond we saw a Yankee battery in position, and in a few moments the shells began bursting in our midst.
We filed to the left along the foot of the
mountain and were halted. In a few minutes orders came that skirmishers must be sent up on the mountain to ascertain if it was occupied by the enemy. Companies A and B of the Eighth Georgia were ordered forward and deployed. There were just thirty of us in the two companies.
I shall digress here to say that there are both advantages and disadvantages in being at the head of the column in a march. Those in front are the first to get to the clear stream or a well or the tubs and cans of water that in the early days of the war families at houses we passed would set out on the roadside for us. They were out of the dust, also, and were the first to throw off accouterments and coats at the camping-place. But sometimes, as in the present instance, the way must be cleared, which means a fight.
When the order came for the two companies I have mentioned to deploy and advance, I was standing in front of a cluster of vines and briers well-nigh impenetrable; but soldiers must know no obstacles, so I plunged into the brush and briers. The mountain
side was covered with a thick undergrowth of low cedars and vines, and in some places huge masses of rock had broken loose and tumbled down, not only forming a very formidable barrier, but leaving a perpendicular wall of five or six feet that was very difficult to scale. But we clambered up, stopping every few steps to take breath and listen for movements or noises above us that would help us to know who were in our front. Presently I heard a jingling of canteens in the bushes just above me, and almost at the same moment the man with them exclaimed, "Who's down there?" Stephen Baldy, the comrade four or five steps to my left, threw up his gun with his finger on the trigger. I said, in a low tone, "Don't shoot; it may be one of our men." He replied, "No, I see him; it's a Yankee." Then the man spoke again, "Say, is that Company A?" "What regiment?" said Baldy, his finger still on the trigger. "Eleventh Massachusetts." Baldy fired. Now you want to ask, as others have done to whom I have told this story, "Did he kill the man?" I don't know, for right between me and where the man was, a line of men in blue rose, and as their bright guns dropped down toward me I looked into their
muzzles a moment - a very short moment - and went over backward. I heard a volley, but I was tumbling, rolling, jumping, falling, and had no time or inclination to look behind me. When I reached the bottom, General Tige Anderson, our brigade commander, was right there, and inquired what I knew. I told him I saw a regiment of Yankees. "Only a regiment?" said he. "That's all I had time to see," I replied. "You were frightened to death, and don't know what you saw," he said. I made no reply, but I knew I was not dead quite. Another man pulled himself through the briers and, on being questioned, gave the same information. Then Lieutenant Howard, who had charge of us, came up. "What's the force up there, lieutenant?" said Anderson. "Well, General, we came upon them very unexpectedly, and - " "Yes, and they stampeded you like they did the boys; so you know nothing. Get your men together, sir, and go back and stay there until you know something definite." Of course there was but one answer to such an order, and so Lieutenant Howard began to line up the men for another advance.
Now the man with the canteens had probably been allowed by his commander to take
a number of them from the men and fill them at a spring or branch, and on his return he had lost his bearings and, hearing us, thought we were Company A, Eleventh Massachusetts, for which he was looking. It was a very common thing for an officer to let one man go to fill canteens while we were in line of battle.
Well, of the thirty men who went up the mountain, twenty-nine soon reported, and we started again. The thirtieth one, Jim Carolan, of Company B, had been killed by that volley. Poor fellow He had once before been counted dead by me, - when the shell exploded at his head, - but this time a rifle ball had entered his heart, and there was no mistaking its effect. But in the skirmish line, like on the lonely picket post, "a man or two killed doesn't count in the news of the battle."
Slowly, cautiously, we crept through and around the cedars and vines, each one wishing that somebody else would come first on those Yankees waiting for us. When near the place where we encountered them before, there was a sharp report of a rifle a few yards to my right. Immediately the line of men in blue rose up just above me. I dropped to the earth. Luckily a rock as large as a
flour barrel jutted out right in front of me. The regiment fired over my head. They dropped down, and another just above them rose and fired and dropped; a third, and a fourth, and a fifth did the same thing in quick succession. The last one was some distance up the mountain and their balls struck all around me. With that volley the firing ceased. I thought I knew "something definite," and heels over head I went down the hill. Several had made better time than I did and had rendered their reports. In answer to General Anderson's questions, I told what I saw and how I came to see what I reported. He calmly said, "You seem to know something," and turned to the next man. Then he sent a courier to General Longstreet, to inform him of the force on the mountain.
In a few minutes an officer galloped up and, saluting, said, "General Longstreet's compliments, General, and he directs that you make an assault at once, that you'll be supported by his entire corps, and General Wilcox will assault in the rear."
Immediately the Eighth and the First regiments were ordered to advance. "My Heavens!" I exclaimed, "does he expect two little regiments to assault five!" "He's a fool," someone said. But in a few minutes we were climbing up the mountain. Then, as if by preconcerted agreement, every man began giving orders in a loud tone. "Hold back your men there, captain!" "You boys there, go slow; wait for the flankers to get behind them!" "Hold on, men, you'll scare them off the mountain!" It was getting dark, and I imagine the three hundred of us going up through the bushes all giving orders in loud tones made the Massachusetts boys think there were several thousand of us. At any rate, when we reached the top and rushed forward with a yell, expecting a volley in our faces, there was not a man before us. I heard afterward that there was some fighting to our right by the First Georgia and, possibly, other troops, but in battle a man cannot know of his own knowledge what is taking place to his right or left: and so I do not know whether the First Georgia fared as well as we did or not. This I know, that I saw but one dead Yankee, an officer lying about halfway down the mountain on the east side.
Soon word came to us that General Longstreet said of our assault: "It was the handsomest thing done since the war started," and that we could sleep on the mountain and come on next day; the rest of his corps would pass through the Gap that night. Some of the boys went to hunt dead Yankees, to try to get some coffee from their haversacks, but they reported that they could find but one, - the officer mentioned above.
I have always wanted to meet a veteran of the "Eleventh Massachusetts" to find out exactly why they gave up their strong position at Thoroughfare Gap that evening, the 28th of August, 1862. I think we "bluffed" them.
I have so often been asked to tell in detail the circumstances under which I received my wound and the incidents immediately following it, I have concluded that since I am giving personal incidents, with myself usually as the hero, I will include this one among my stories.
Near sunset on the 30th day of August, 1862, - the day on which Lee defeated Pope in the big battle of Second Manassas, - our division commander, General Hood, threw
his division into line for a final charge against what I afterward learned was a collection of twelve pieces of artillery. Once, while the line was moving at a double-quick over hills and valleys, General Hood came at a full gallop down the line, now in rear, now in front. As he passed the right of the Eighth Georgia I heard him say, "Go it, boys, we'll give them more than they can attend to!" Presently up the line came the command, repeated from one to another: "Division, left wheel Division, left wheel!" Our regiment was, I think, the extreme right of the division, and the "wheel" brought us quickly on the flank or side of the cannons and within range of their infantry support. There was a moment's pause of the regiment, probably to re-align before rushing on the guns. Just then some of the guns changed the direction of their fire from front to side, and the first ball they sent went ricocheting along the rear of the regiment. (We were still facing the infantry support and somewhat in rear of the cannons.) The second ball struck the ground a few steps to my left, rose and struck me, tearing away a pound or more of flesh from the underpart of my left thigh six inches above the knee and cutting a shallow groove
through the right, the right foot being on the swing for a step forward at the moment.
As soon as I struck the ground two or three of my comrades stooped over and asked if I could be carried. I straightened out my legs and, finding no bones broken, replied, "Yes." They quickly unrolled my indiarubber cloth that I was carrying instead of a blanket, put me in it and trotted off about twenty steps and dropped me in a hillside gully. They then ran back and rejoined the regiment. Just then Wright's Georgia brigade swept over me, going somewhat to the right of our position. I afterward learned that they swept the Federal infantry from our front, and our regiment, with the others of the division, captured the entire lot of cannon, - twelve pieces, - together with thirty new ambulances parked in the woods just behind them.
Not more than fifteen feet above me and in an exposed place lay a man who had been wounded. The cannon-balls were plowing up the ground around him, and it seemed every moment he would be torn to pieces.
Presently a soldier came running and dropped into the gully between us. The wounded man immediately appealed to him to pull him down where he was, saying he had both legs broken and would be killed. Just then a shell exploded right at him. He exclaimed, "My God, friend, please - " but he never finished the sentence, for at that moment another shell exploded right at his friend, and when the smoke cleared away he was nowhere to be seen. Where he had lain was a hole big enough to bury a mule in. He had probably been blown to pieces. I think of him in connection with the Scripture, "Whosoever will save his life shall lose it." With that shell the firing ceased, for our boys had captured the guns, and there was no longer any danger for me and the man with the broken legs. If the comrade to whom he had so earnestly appealed had gone to his relief, he would have saved his own life; but he was too much concerned for his own safety to help his wounded brother.
It was probably ten o'clock that night when we were found by the "litter bearers" or ambulance corps. They put me on a stretcher and carried me to the Robinson House and put me down at the front gate. The house
and yard were said to be full of wounded. Here Jim Sweat, a comrade, came to me saying that another of our company, Stephen Baldy, had been seriously wounded, and Lieutenant Bliss, in command of our company, had instructed him to stay with us and care for us. Sweat was a weak, frail man who rarely held out on a long march, though there was no pluckier or braver soldier in Lee's army.
While I was lying at the gate three surgeons in quick succession came along with their lanterns looking among the wounded for desperate cases. Each one gave me an opiate of some kind, and I was going off into unconsciousness when the third one thrust the little spoon between my teeth -
I came to myself next day, Sunday, about twelve o'clock. It was raining quite heavily.
After an hour or two an ambulance drove up and I was lifted into it. Baldy was put in by my side, and we were taken about a half mile to a farm where Dr. Jackson, our brigade surgeon, had established his field hospital. All the houses on the place seemed to be full, so we were put into two cow stables behind the barn.
That afternoon Dr. Jackson and two or three assistant surgeons came together near us out in the horse lot, and I heard Dr. Jackson tell Dr. Jones, the assistant surgeon of the Seventh Georgia Regiment, that he was to take charge of the wounded and, with the few ambulances that he would leave him, get them to Warrenton as rapidly as possible, encouraging all who could walk to set out on foot, and leaving for the last those who would probably die here or from the effects of the long ride. It was fourteen miles, he said, to Warrenton, so the ambulances could make but one trip each day. Thursday morning they reached the barn and cleared it of wounded, and late that afternoon an ambulance backed up to the cow stalls, and Baldy and I were laid side by side in it. Night soon came on and it began to rain, but through the pitchy darkness the mules picked their way up and down the hills and brought us to Warrenton about eleven o'clock.
After driving over the town to the court house and to one or two church buildings, our driver finally found a place for us in the railroad freight warehouse. The floor was made
of white oak planks, sawed, I am sure, with a wabbling saw, for through my indiarubber cloth, that I was still lifted about in, I could feel the circular ridges on them as though they were as large as my finger. Rather to my surprise, I lived through the night. I had lost a great deal of blood and had taken only a cup or two of milk every day.
Friday morning Assistant Surgeon Jones came to me, and in a jollying way said we boys of Company B, Eighth Georgia, couldn't be killed; that we were worth saving, and he proposed to take care of us. About nine o'clock we were again loaded into an ambulance and taken to the Baptist church and each put on a mattress. Comrade Jim Sweat had a tub of water brought; my bloody clothes were taken off and I was washed and my wound dressed. Then Dr. Jones said, "Do the same for the other man" - Baldy - "and I'll see if there is a sheet in this town to cover this man with," and he left. The boys went across the church to where Baldy was, but Jim came back at once and quietly said, "He is dead." In a few minutes the doctor returned with a sheet, and laughing said "Now you are all right."
The wounded from the Second Battle of Manassas, of whom I was one, had been hauled back to Warrenton to be cared for. They had been put into the churches, the court house, the schoolhouse, and other public buildings, and many were in private houses. I was lying on a mattress on the floor in the "Amen" corner of the Baptist church, and Mrs. Robert J. Newby, a good lady of the place, who, with others, was ministering to our needs, was sitting on the steps leading up into the pulpit, the end entrance or "preacher's door" being between us. A body of Yankee cavalry came into the town and a party of them galloped up to the door at the end of the church. An officer dismounted and, running up to the door, in a loud voice called for the officer in charge of the hospital to come forward. Nobody came. Again he demanded to see at once the officer in charge. Still nobody responded. Then lowering his voice, he asked Mrs. Newby if she could tell him who was in charge of the building. She replied, "Probably we ladies are considered in charge. What can we do for you?" "Have you a list of the men on this floor?"
he said; "I wish to parole them." "You mean to make prisoners of them, sir?" "Yes, ma'am," he answered. She looked into his face silently for a moment, then calmly said, "I thought, sir, prisoners were captured on battle-fields, not in hospitals." It was a withering shot. He made no reply, but immediately withdrew and, mounting his horse, galloped away.
Never, never, can the whole story be told of what the mothers, wives, and sisters of the boys in gray did for them and the cause of the Confederacy during those four years of fighting, and sacrifice, and suffering. A nobler heritage is the memory of their deeds than the gold of a millionaire or the royal title of princes.
A week after the Second Battle of Manassas, in which I was wounded, father set out to come to me. In Richmond he learned that most of the wounded from that battle had been sent back to Warrenton, but that the railroad had only been repaired within fifty miles of the place. But that did not deter him. He reached the terminus and was informed that it was fifty-three miles by the
turnpike to Warrenton. There was no such thing as hiring a team, and so he set out on foot, with a party of others on the same mission, hunting for their sons that had been wounded in that battle. They made a continuous trip of it, except a rest of one hour at midnight, and walked the fifty-three miles in twenty-three hours. He was at that time sixty-four years old.
When he reached Warrenton he explained his mission to the first man he met, and was told that it was said there were eighteen hundred wounded men in the place; that all the churches, the court house, schoolhouse, and railroad warehouse were full, and there were many in private families.
Father said he never realized until then what it meant to hunt for one among eighteen hundred. "Are there any in that building yonder?" he inquired, pointing to a near-by church. "Yes, sir, it's full. You see a man's head on the floor in the preacher's door right now." "Then," said father, "I'll begin my search right here, and may the Lord direct me."
He came to the church, to the preacher's door; he came up the steps, and the man whose head was lying in the door was his
boy. It, indeed, must be true that the Lord directed him.
At the surgeon's suggestion he secured board for me and himself with a family in the place, and had me removed from the church.
When father had been with me four weeks he secured a three months' furlough for me, had a stretcher with legs made on which to take me home, and engaged the only man in the town who had a team, - a mule and a one-horse wagon without springs, - to take me to the railroad terminus. His charge was a dollar a mile for hauling a man to the station, and, he added, as if for father's comfort, that some of the bridges had been repaired and now it was only forty miles to the railroad.
We set out at daylight, and at dark the faithful mule walked into Culpeper. So did father. He walked the entire distance of forty miles, cheered and sustained by the knowledge that he was on his way home with his boy, his only son.
It was twelve months before I was entirely well from my wounds, and then I was pronounced permanently disabled. Not desiring a discharge, I was assigned to light duty - appointed a government agent for the collection of the farmers' "tithe tax" in South Georgia. Being allowed to name my station, I chose Guyton on the Central Rail Road, within six miles of my home.
I had spent more than a year in the work and had gotten nearly through the collections of 1864, when Sherman broke up my job. My last order from headquarters in Savannah was to ship what I had on hand by the next train and dispose of myself as I saw fit.
Knowing that there was a fine young horse out at my father's farm, only six miles distant, awaiting my final "return from the war," I was not long in deciding that the
thing for me to do was to get that horse and "jine the cavalry," leaving the question of mounting and dismounting with a rather helpless left leg to the "inspiration of the occasion." So early next morning I set out for home and arrived there to find everybody busy "hiding things" and making ready for the marauding host. With a few parting words to loved ones, I mounted "Tip" and started out, not knowing where night would find me.
Something prompted me to go back to Guyton before the Federals got there. Perhaps it was a wish to see, just once more, "another not a sister." At any rate, two hours later I was in the village. But just as I drew rein at a familiar gate a little darkey darted round the corner and yelled, "Hoss sojers comin'!"
Going to the corner, I watched the approaching cavalcade for a few minutes and discovered to my great delight that they were Confederates.
The command proved to be General Lewis's Kentucky brigade of General Wheeler's cavalry, with the Fourth Tennessee,
under Major Bledsoe, in the lead. Reporting to him as "mounted infantry" and out of a job, the major at once questioned me as to my knowledge of the country, and on being told that I was born and reared in that county he exclaimed, "Just the man we want, - a guide! Come on."
Following a neighborhood road, we came to the next full station on the railroad, Eden or "No. 2," a little while before sunset. It was here that the main road to Savannah from the south side of the Ogeechee River crossed that stream and as one corps of Sherman's army was known to be on that road and probably in advance of those approaching on our side, and perhaps at that very moment crossing the river, we decided a stand should be made here with a view of at least letting them know that the way was not entirely clear.
"We'll dismount here," said Major Bledsoe, "and you will please take that man riding across the woods yonder and reconnoiter for me toward the swamp."
On reaching "that man," who proved to be
a farmer lad getting out of the way, and delivering to him Major Bledsoe's request, he replied, "I don't need to reconnoiter. There are Yankees in that swamp and I don't belong to Major Bledsoe."
With that he struck old "Firefly" with his peach switch and galloped away. I went on toward the swamp. Then I stopped in a clump of "gallberry" bushes to make observations. Satisfying myself that "that man" was right about Yankees in that swamp, and that they were moving to where I was, I turned my face in the direction of the point where I had left Major Bledsoe and his regiment, when, to my inexpressible astonishment and terror, I beheld a line of Federal skirmishers, about seventy-five, I'm sure, stretching across the open piny woods from scarcely one hundred yards above me to the railroad, and near the crossing where I had parted with Major Bledsoe. Less than fifty yards below me and parallel with the skirmish line was a "stake and rider" fence. My only way of reaching the railroad and the wagon road beyond it was to take my chances at full speed down the skirmish line between it and the fence. It seemed a hopeless undertaking, and for a moment I considered the question
of dismounting and "heeling it" for the fence; but there was no friendly stump near, and the inspiration to dismount without it didn't come at once, so I resolved to "run the gauntlet." Dropping down close on "Tip's" neck, I headed him for the railroad and gave him the word. He seemed to understand the situation, and burst from the "gallberries" like a startled deer. With every leap it seemed to me a rifle ball went singing past or struck a pine near by with a noise like a firecracker. We fairly flew! And now those skirmishers shot! Cursing, then, their bad markmanship, perhaps, but laughing as many a time since they told the story of the "flying Rebel" and his iron-gray horse that they couldn't hit.
A half mile below the railroad crossing I overtook Major Bledsoe, who manifested no surprise whatever that I had saved myself; and on my remonstrating with him about leaving me without notice, he laughingly replied, "I forgot you were only 'mounted infantry.'"
This was my first experience in the cavalry and in learning that peculiar accomplishment characteristic of our Confederate troopers -
"always ready to fight or to run, and always knowing which to do, without orders."
With a river to right of them, a river to left of them, and Sherman's army of seventy thousand in front of them, stood Lewis's Kentucky cavalry brigade twelve miles out of Savannah in December, 1864.
A few miles to their rear were the fortifications of the city held by a small force under General Hardee.
Hemmed in on three sides, as has been described, General Lewis was beginning to feel a bit cramped, and he was doubtless turning over in his mind the problem of avoiding the humiliation of being shut up in Savannah and drawing rations on requisition, "like common foot soldiers." This would have been considered degrading by any of the cavalry, but to this brigade, that had had the honor of marching in Sherman's front for 150 miles, giving farmers notice of his approach and being allowed to help themselves to anything they wanted, it was especially humiliating.
Already it was reported among the men that General Lewis had received an intimation
from General Hardee, commanding at Savannah, that on reaching the city his men would be dismounted and placed in the trenches, and they were feeling that, after all, it might have been better to follow in Sherman's wake and forage for subsistence among smoking ruins and devastated farms.
Something must be done to avert the disgrace of going into the trenches. But to attempt to cross the Ogeechee or Savannah at this point was not to be thought of. Only one other hope remained, that of finding a way to Sherman's rear by some neighborhood road running between the main thorough-fares on which the army was marching; and this General Lewis decided to undertake.
As I had been acting as his guide since he had reached Guyton, as explained in a former story, and claiming familiarity with all sections of the county, he requested me to accompany a scouting party of ten men on this expedition of finding the desired road. It was then ten o'clock at night, and, as the distance to be gone over was not less than fifteen miles, no time was to be lost. We set out at once.
Going forward in our immediate front near the Central Railroad, we soon came
upon thousands of pine-knot fires, showing the presence of the enemy in large numbers. We drew back and moved to the right and again went forward. The same scene greeted our eyes - fires everywhere. Again we went to the right, and again we came upon the enemy's campfires. They seemed to be literally covering the county from river to river.
Daylight found us on the old Augusta road that passes through the eastern part of Effingham County and very near the Savannah River. In fact, we had come to the end of our search without finding an open road through the enemy's lines.
For once my training in the infantry served a good purpose. On parting with General Lewis I had, like a good foot-soldier, asked for "further orders," in the event I found no unoccupied road leading to Sherman's rear. The general had responded: "Then do as you please with yourself."
The boys decided that the last order included them, and offered to follow me in my next move. I decided to take the general at his word, and put in practice some of my newly acquired cavalry tactics and "save myself" by crossing the Savannah in some way, I knew not exactly how.
We went down the road till we came to the avenue leading to Winkler's rice plantation on the river in upper Chatham, known as "Mulberry Grove," and a ride on the causeway of a mile, including the swimming of two small creeks where the bridges had been burned, brought us to the Winkler home. There were only a few old negroes on the place, but going to the pier on the river we found a large rice flat and its crew of eight or ten negroes. To my request that they put us over the river, the leader or "cap'n" replied: "You see, boss, Marse Winkler sent us for the furniture, we to take 'em right away." Just then one of the Kentucky boys stepped up and, clicking the hammer of his carbine, asked which was the negro that said he wouldn't put us across. Quickly the "cap'n" spoke up: "Boss, I didn't say I wouldn't - only Marse Winkler; but ef you'll be 'sponsible to him, we put you 'cross." We assured him that the government would make it all right with "Marse Winkler," and soon gang planks were made ready, the horses were blindfolded and led aboard, and we headed for Carolina.
We landed safely, dismissed the "cap'n," and started for the woodland, seemingly a
half mile distant. But horror of horrors! We came upon another river, of course, "Back River," known to every ricefield darky for twenty miles up and down the river. We were on an island. But the boys immediately set out to explore our newfound possessions, and soon returned with the information that a mile below, there was a "negro quarter," and rice and chickens seemed abundant. We moved down and went into camp. Soon the squalling hens told a raid was on, and for a day and night we feasted on boiled rice, boiled eggs, and boiled hens. The next day another rice flat hove in sight and a yell from the boys, with a few whistling balls over her bow, brought it to shore. We were soon aboard and again heading for Carolina. This time we reached the mainland all right. And now, surely, thought we, our troubles will soon be over. But we had not gone a mile when a cavalcade in gray uniforms, with a profusion of brass buttons and gold lace, bore down on us from a side avenue, and a pompous fellow (a militia colonel he proved) in a plumed hat advanced, ordered us to halt and consider ourselves under arrest. I offered to explain, but he said no explanations were wanted: and after a short consultation with
his staff he informed us that we would be sent under guard to Colonel Bird, commanding a regiment of cavalry a few miles up the road. I winked at the boys, but "I lay low and said nothing," after the manner of Brer Rabbit when it was determined that as a punishment he should be thrown into a brier patch. Colonel Bird was not only himself one of Wheeler's boys, but also a neighbor of ours in old Effingham, and his brother a near kinsman of mine by marriage.
In due time we reached his camp, and our escort departed. The colonel was delighted to see us and hear from General Lewis in Sherman's front, but knowing the customary condition of the average soldier as to rations - they usually have had nothing to eat for three days - he ordered a "good square meal" to be made ready for us and our horses well supplied with corn and long forage.
While we were eating, a messenger arrived, bringing an order from General Wheeler, with headquarters in rear of Sherman at Springfield, my old home, to Colonel Bird, directing him to send at once a few men as guides from the Effingham County company in his regiment. "That suits you exactly",
said the Colonel. "They can go along and report with your Kentucky boys to General Wheeler." So, reinforced by three men from the regiment, we proceeded on our journey. Arriving at the river, we found a bateau with which, after several trips, all the men were put on the Georgia bank. Two of us remained with the horses on the Carolina side, and when all was ready we drove them into the stream. With much floundering and snorting in the swift flowing current, they finally headed for the south bank and all landed safely and were taken in charge by the men in waiting. We followed in the bateau, mounted our horses, and after a two hours' ride over the familiar old "Sisters' Ferry road," reported to General Wheeler at Springfield.
It is rarely the case that I venture in war narratives to go beyond my own personal observations and tell of things that others claim to have seen or heard; it is easy to get into the marvelous and incredible. But I will depart from my custom in this respect, to relate a story told of General Wheeler while he was in Sherman's rear at Springfield.
Knowing that Sherman's entire army was now between the two rivers, the Savannah and Ogeechee, a strip of country less than twenty-five miles across, and that it was a region of swamps and branches and "gallberry flats" in which very little was produced in the way of army supplies, he concluded that the whole army, infantry, artillery, and cavalry, was being fed from the wagons. And judging Kilpatrick's cavalry by his own, he knew they considered it a tame business
to draw rations from the wagons. He felt quite sure they would not consent thus to take up quarters with the infantry and "eat up their grub," but would probably go on a foraging expedition across the Ogeechee into south Georgia, possibly making a dash at Andersonville, to release the forty thousand prisoners confined there. For this, however, they certainly would not have received the thanks of General Grant, who just before this had written to Butler, the Federal Commissioner of Exchange, to take no steps looking to an exchange of prisoners, because, as he stated, to make "an exchange at this time would endanger Sherman's army and compromise my own position at Richmond." So to find out whether Kilpatrick was with the army or had gone off on this expedition, was the thing that General Wheeler was very anxious right then to know. It was said that in order to get this information he sent a man under a flag of truce to the Federal lines with a communication to General Kilpatrick, proposing an exchange of such of their "cavalry boys" as had been so unfortunate as to be picked up, without referring the matter to the higher authorities.
Promptly and under the flaming headlines,
"Headquarters of cavalry, Louisville road, eight miles out of Savannah," General Kilpatrick wrote a reply expressing surprise at the reception of such a "monstrous proposition" from an officer who had received his military training at West Point, etc., etc. General Wheeler, as the story went, did not finish reading the communication, but with the remark, "I only wanted to know if you are there, Kil," threw it on the floor and instructed his adjutant to write out orders for the immediate transfer of the command into South Carolina.
When General Wheeler transferred his command to South Carolina to rest and recuperate, he left General Iverson with a small force on the Georgia side of the river to keep an eye on things around Savannah.
I concluded to stay with General Iverson as guide and courier. He made his headquarters at Springfield, and as soon as things became somewhat settled I got a leave of absence to go over home, only a mile away, to see the condition of things there. Evidences
that the invading army had been there were to be seen on every hand. The smokehouse stood open, likewise the sugar and syrup house, the corncrib, and the "rice" house, in which the field peas were usually stored in the hull till the rice was threshed. The potato "banks" were leveled to the ground; every stalk of seed sugarcane had been pulled out of its winter bed; not a potato or an ear of corn was left; not a chicken or a pig, a cow or a horse. But under the wagon shelter I saw a strange horse, chewing corn shucks, and on inquiry learned that on the night when the Yankees were camped in front of the house Wheeler's cavalry had a brush with them, and this fine Kentucky mare had been shot in the shoulder and abandoned. Her neck and shoulder were badly swollen, but I readily located the ball and cut it out. She afterward did good service in my wagon trip to Augusta and on the farm.
The house lot had been made a butcher pen by the army commissary, and father had stretched out over a hundred cow hides to dry. Mother and my sisters had looked after the fat on the entrails and had tried out over two hundred pounds of tallow.
Of the forty negroes on the place, who for
two days and a night had listened to the soldiers' stories of "a good time with freedom" in Savannah, all but one man, whose wife lived on another place, had packed up and followed the army.
Except a few panels of fence in the pasture branch, every fence rail had been burned. Not a collard nor a turnip remained in the garden. Articles hidden in dense thickets in the creek swamps, or put under ground and covered with leaves and trash had been found and carried off; and the only vessels on the place that would hold water were the well buckets, a large wash pot, and the syrup boiler. The family were subsisting on peas and rice; the former, being in the hull, were troublesome to the soldiers to shell out and the rice was in the stacks unthreshed. Father had dug up the earth in the smokehouse and extracted some salt water to use with fresh pork picked up from the camps or found in the fields and woods.
As an offset to the gloom and desolation, the following amusing incident was related to me by my sister Belle, afterward Mrs. J. B. Kieffer, and since sunset of that perfect day in June, 1905, when the voice from heaven called her sweet spirit home, a dweller in the
"House not made with hands eternal in the heavens."
I give it exactly as she told it to me: The army had begun to arrive about one o'clock at their camping place out on the Middle- ground road, - a half mile from the house, - and at once hundreds of soldiers spread over the fields and through the yard and house, helping themselves to everything their needs or fancy suggested. Just before dark a cavalry company rode into the grove in front of the house and unsaddled their horses. Mother, my two sisters, and Peter, our bright little negro houseboy, about ten years old, were the only occupants of the house that night. Father, hearing of the tortures to which old men were being subjected in order to extort money and valuables from them, had decided to remain out of the way until the army had passed.
In terror and dread the helpless group sat up through the long hours of that terrible night, wishing for the morrow that they hoped would mean the departure of the army.
About three o'clock in the morning there was a gentle rap at the back door, and little Peter was sent to see what it meant. He returned
with the announcement that it was a man "who say he is a Rebel sojer and wan'ter see de lady of de house." With Federal soldiers in camp almost up to the front gate, Peter's story of a Rebel soldier at the back door seemed incredible, and yet the polite request "to see the lady of the house" inspired the hope that the stranger might really be a Southern soldier, so, accompanied by Peter, mother went to the door.
The man at once began his story. He stated he belonged to Wheeler's cavalry, a company of which was on the other side of the large creek (Ebenezer) just back of the house, and he had come over on foot to inquire if there was not a ford across it and a path through the swamp, the public road crossing it at this point having been blockaded by trees felled across it and the bridge burned. He added that if they could get through they proposed to surprise the Federal cavalry camped in front of the house by a daylight attack and capture their horses. He was told there was a ford and a path through the swamp leading up to our horse lot, but that it would be impossible for him to find it in the darkness. Peter stood listening to all that passed and, knowing "ole missus"
was right about the trouble of the soldier's finding the ford and the path, put in a solution, with the request that he be allowed to "go wid de genterman and show him." He was told he could do so, and disappeared with him.
An hour later a body of cavalry rode silently through the yard; then there was a "Rebel yell" and a rattling discharge of pistols and rifles in the grove. The Federals, taken completely by surprise, scampered away in the darkness and the Confederates, quickly seizing the abandoned horses and other leavings, disappeared as quietly as they had come. An officer ran through the house saying, "My fine mare was shot in the shoulder and I must leave her, but she'll get over it. You may have her."
The alarm soon spread through the Federal camps and a pursuing force was organized. It was now daylight. Through the grove they charged and into the yard and around the house. A Federal officer passed near the window where Mother was looking out, and seated behind him was little Peter. As he caught sight of the face in the window he called out, "Missus, I'm showin de udder genterman now." Such was the negro on
the farm during the war, ready to help all who called on him, without stopping to ask whether they were Federal or Confederate.
Peter soon returned, saying with a chuckle: "I showed him all right, but he was 'fraid to go in de swamp."
I will add a few lines on the subsequent history of that fine mare.
She recovered, and did good service on the farm the following spring. And so long as her fare consisted of cornstalks and green millet she was submissive and went up and down the corn rows as meekly as a mortgaged mule, but when the little crop was "laid by" and we began to mix "shoots" and "nubbins" in her rations, her Kentucky blood and army training asserted themselves. She disdained the touch of buggy and carriage trappings and nothing on wheels could come near her and hold together. So I rode her to Savannah and had her sold at auction, without warranting her to "stand without hitching" or to "give her dust" to everything on the road. The auctioneer called attention to her fine, ratlike hair, her clean limbs, and the trace marks on her sides. The bidding was lively, and she was soon knocked down at $150. The money was paid and she was led away.
The auctioneer took out his commission and handed me the remainder and as I stuffed the comforting wad of "greenbacks" into my pocket I asked him if he knew the purchaser.
"Yes," said he, "it was Ferguson, the undertaker." I left town that day. As we took no newspaper at our house at that time, I knew nothing of the "happenings in the city" during those days, nor did I ever learn whether the noble animal, passing through those terrible days of "destruction and reconstruction," was finally induced to "accept the situation," or, true to her army training, she continued to disdain breeching and traces and scattered the dead behind as she probably had been accustomed to do with the living in front of her.
A few weeks after this visit I decided to make a wagon trip to Augusta to dispose of the hides and tallow and get some much needed supplies for the family.
The negro man, London, who had remained on the place, begged to be allowed to go with me, and together we made the long journey.
Of this wagon trip of nearly a hundred
miles I must give a few incidents to show in some degree the straightened circumstances at that time (January, 1865) of the people of our dear Southland.
When I reached McBean, a station on the Central Railroad fifteen or twenty miles below Augusta, I decided to leave the team and take my hides and tallow by rail the rest of the way. While I was having the hides weighed a man stepped up and asked if they were for sale. After a few words we traded at five dollars a pound, and he counted out for me three thousand dollars in Confederate bills.
On reaching Augusta I learned that the Augusta cotton factories were refusing to take Confederate money for their goods, but would exchange cloth for produce. As the marauders had carried off not only every sheet, pillow-slip, and towel at our house, but every article of clothing, both men's and women's that was not on the bodies of their wearers, my list of purchases called for several bolts of homespun; so I headed straight for the factory with the tallow. It was readily exchanged at the rate of a pound of tallow for a yard of cloth. Then I proceeded to make some other purchases as follows:
A sack of flour - 100 lbs . . . . . . $150 00
A sack of corn meal - 100 lbs . . . 50 00
One bushel of salt . . . . . . . . . . .150 00
One wool hat (boy's size) . . . . . 125 00
On my way home I drove up to a residence in Burke County, with a large barn in sight, and told the gentleman who greeted me that I had come for some corn. He stated that every bushel not needed for his own use had been engaged, and much of it, in fact, had been paid for. But I pleaded with him so earnestly that finally he agreed to let me have twelve bushels in the shuck, - all my wagon would hold, - for twenty-five dollars a bushel. I gladly paid him the three hundred dollars, and with my well-filled wagon proceeded on my journey. At two other places I succeeded in trading cloth for some hens - a yard of homespun for a hen.
When I reached the residence of Mr. Kittles, friends of our family in Scriven County, they completed my load with several sacks of sweet potatoes. Nowhere is a sweet potato more appreciated during the winter months than on a south Georgia farm, and as the family had not seen one for more than
a month this present was regarded as a belated "Santa Claus gift."
While I was with General Iverson I was in a measure relieved from duty, and I frequently mingled with "the boys" in camp. On one occasion I joined Lieutenant Clarke of the Fourth Alabama Cavalry in a scout to pick up stray horses and make observations near the enemy's lines.
Our little scouting party was a typical one, illustrating in its make-up the waning cause of the Confederacy and the depleting effect on its resources of the long-drawn-out struggle.
It consisted, besides Lieutenant Clarke and myself, of Dick and John, two seventeen-year-old recruits, who had enlisted under the "last call," the former mounted on a three-year-old colt, the latter on a stocky little mule that reminded one of a toy horse, and Sam K., a sixteen-year-old lad of the neighborhood, whose widowed mother had on the approach of Sherman directed him to mount their only plow animal, "old Mollie," and join the cavalry.
A ride of six or seven miles brought us in the immediate vicinity of the army. Women and children in roadside cottages were startled at our presence "right among Yankees," and warned us not to go any farther. But we assured them we could take care of ourselves and proceeded down the road.
Our "order of advance" at this time was as follows: Clarke and myself, side by side, in the lead; about fifteen yards behind us, Sam on old "Mollie"; then, at a similar interval behind him, Dick on the colt, and lastly, far to the rear, came John on the mule.
An old sow with two plump little roasters trotted across the road in front of us. "Look!" said Clarke, "see what they have left us," and turning in his saddle, he called to Dick to pick up one of the pigs.
Naturally all eyes were turned in the direction of Dick and the pigs. Just then, and as startling as a thunderbolt from a clear sky, came a volley of pistol shots with bullets whistling so close we could "feel their breath" and, looking ahead, we beheld in the midst of smoke and dust and flashing sabers a body of Federal cavalry bearing down on us under a full charge. Sam exclaimed, "They are
going to stampede us!" "Old Mollie," rising on her hind feet, spun around and was "down to business." Dick regained the road, and the colt was "off" as in a free-for-all quarter-dash. The mule had likewise "about-faced," and he and his rider, now seemingly molded into one, appeared as a black dot in the white sand road.
"Hold your horse in," said Clarke; "we must keep the boys ahead of us."
But my inclinations were all for getting in front, and "Tip" seemed to share my spirit. However, holding him in slightly, I glanced ahead. The boys had "bunched" and "neck and neck" were filling the road. I didn't like that. But soon "Old Mollie's" staying qualities told in her favor and she shot ahead. The mule's short legs failed "to reach," and he dropped back to third place. We passed the cottage where the kind warning had been given, but we exchanged no greetings this time with the group on the front steps. We didn't have time. The firing seemed to slacken. Clarke looked over his shoulder. "Put your horse out," he said, "they are right on us."
I dropped down on "Tip's" neck, gave him the reins and, striking him with my open
hand, said with intense earnestness, "Go, Tip, go!" He responded nobly. But now we were right on the mule, and I was about to make a bad wish for him. Just then we came to a place where some fence rails had been put over a mud-hole in the road. The mule struck the rails with all four feet. They turned, and down he went on his breast, his rider rolling off in the ditch at the roadside. "Tip" cleared mule and rails, but had scarcely landed on "terra firma" when I heard the horses behind us strike the rails. Once again I gave "Tip" an earnest stroke and urged him to go. I felt something strike my heel. I glanced down to see what it meant, and there at my stirrup was that little mule's nose, his nostrils dilated, his half-shut eyes looking up with a pleading expression, and his short legs, now seemingly increased to forty, were moving like the sticks of a kettle-drum. True to his training, he was doing the "last act" in cavalry tactics, saving himself. There was yet a hundred yards to the wooded branch and the curve in the road. The mare and the colt were "getting there." Would we also be able to make it? Again I glanced at my stirrup. The mule's nose was right there; his head on a line with his neck.
There was a splash, I felt my horse lean to the right, and "We are safe!" from Clarke relieved the tension and ended the race.
We drew on the side of the road to "catch breath" and exchange congratulations. The mule came up and stood between us and, as he swayed back and forth, his long ears keeping time with his body and his little eyes pleasantly winking, he seemed to be saying: "You thought they'd have me, but they didn't; you thought they'd get me, but they couldn't."
When we reached camp we found Sam and Dick stretched out before the pine-knot fire soundly sleeping, undisturbed by roast-pig dreams or life-and-death stampedes. Poor John had probably been captured and would soon be in a Northern prison, where, according to Grant, he would be no more than a dead man to the Confederate States for the remainder of the war.
A few weeks after my return from my Augusta trip, reports were brought to General Iverson that the Federal army was leaving Savannah on the road leading in the direction of Springfield, and he gradually dropped back toward Augusta. Leaving him again for a few days, I went home, hitched up the
wagon, put the corn back into it with some other supplies, and left, accompanied by the faithful negro man, London, to keep out of Sherman's way.
One incident of this "hide out" I must give to show the perfect trustworthiness of this negro slave.
When the army reached Springfield the head of the column took the Sisters' Ferry road, indicating Sherman's purpose to cross the Savannah River at that point to invade South Carolina. This would take the army again to our house.
The crossing of the river was attended with some trouble, and it required eleven days? During all this time the rear of the army was in the vicinity of Springfield and the old home. I became impatient to know how things were going on there, so, borrowing a gun and accompanied by a convalescent Confederate soldier whom I found at Guyton, I went out to Springfield. Among our thrilling experiences in the enemy's line, we had the good fortune to capture, one night about ten o'clock, a Yankee who claimed to be a deserter, from whom we
secured one hundred and twenty-five dollars in United States "greenbacks." (He must have been a "bounty jumper.") As I had not yet been able to reach our house, I was not ready to return, but we had no use for the prisoner where we were, and what to do with him was a question. To relieve the situation my comrade offered to take him that night to the Confederate picket post at Guyton, five miles distant. I agreed, but fearing some mishap with him, I insisted on taking care of all the money, with the promise that I would come to him next night and divide. When I got back to my wagon the next afternoon I learned that my comrade had delivered our prisoner all right, but that a Federal scouting party had that morning come to Guyton and driven off the Confederate pickets there and they were at that time in possession of the place. I explained my situation to London, telling him about my agreement with my comrade, who was to be at Mr. Patton's in Guyton that night. London's wife lived in Guyton, and he was well acquainted with the place, so I proposed to him to take the money to my friend. He agreed to do so, saying, "The Yankees won't trouble me if they see me."
I counted out sixty dollars in five and ten dollar bills - the money was all in that shape - and gave him the roll. He delivered it and returned next morning, with a brief note in pencil from my friend, who was safely closeted at Mr. Patton's.
After caring for the team with me, London remained with father, and after Lee's surrender made a contract with him to crop on shares that year. That fall he hauled to his wife's home in Guyton his share of the corn, potatoes, and syrup, and sitting alone one evening in front of the fireplace in his house, he was suddenly seized with an epileptic fit, to which he was somewhat subject, and, falling forward into the fire, was burned to death before he was discovered.
I have written the story of his faithfulness and the sad ending of his life as my tribute to his memory, glad in the thought that it will be read by everyone into whose hands his "Mars' Berry's" little book shall come.
Another incident of my venture in the lines of the Federal army at Springfield while it
was delayed crossing the river to go into South Carolina, I must not omit.
My comrade, Thomas, was equipped with a small-bore rifle that carried a ball about as large as a "crowder" pea, and I had secured a double barrelled shotgun, into which I had put good charges of powder and thirty-two buckshot - sixteen to each barrel.
Just before reaching the village I explained to Thomas the location of the court house and a few of the principal residences, among them Dr. Wilson's house in the lower part of the village, where I agreed to come to him after I had reconnoitered about grandmother's hotel and the court house. We separated. As I came in view of the hotel I saw two men jump off of the veranda and run down the street toward Dr. Wilson's residence. I ran to the hotel, and when grandmother recognized me she exclaimed: "My child, did you drop out of the clouds!" I explained my presence and mission. She begged me to go back into the branch, saying the Yankee soldiers were all about the place, and added that two had just left in a run, saying they saw a Rebel soldier down the street. I knew that was my comrade. "The men," she said, "each had a repeating
rifle and pistol." I told her the man they saw was my comrade and I must go to his rescue and, against her protest, hurried off down the street. Just before reaching Dr. Wilson's I stopped behind a tree to look about. In a few minutes the two men came out of the house, followed by Mrs. Wilson. They stood a moment seemingly arguing with her about something, and then walked down the steps and proceeded down the street. As soon as they turned the first corner I slipped up to the house and inquired of Mrs. Wilson if she had seen anything of a Confederate soldier. Recognizing me, she replied, "Yes, I have him hid in the house and have just had a terrible time with two Yankees who declared they saw him come into the house." She said that luckily Dr. Wilson came in just then from the horse lot, and one of them, laughing, said: "There's our Rebel, and he's harmless." But the other had insisted that he saw "a Rebel in a gray jacket," and wanted to search further for him, but finally gave way to his companion's statement. Mrs. Wilson then went in and brought my friend from his hiding-place. We decided to follow the two Yankees. We were reinforced just then by my cousin from grandmother's,
a fourteen-year-old boy. He was armed with a "smooth-bore" musket taller than himself.
A mile below the village we came in sight of the men just as they were going into the gate of a resident - 'Wilse Zipperer's. We immediately planned for their capture. Thomas and the lad were to crawl up into a corner of the fence just above the gate, while I would go in front of the gate just across the road and conceal myself in some scantily foliaged scrubs and briers. Soon the men came out and started for the gate, and I got my gun in position, with the words "Hands up" at my tongue's end. Just then an open vehicle, with a one-armed man, the county tax collector, Ben Morgan, a lady and two children in it, came up to the gate and stopped! My eyes had been riveted on the men in the yard, and the slow moving team in the heavy sand road had come across my vision as noiselessly as a moving cloud. I didn't move a muscle, but held myself ready to throw up my hands and say "Don't shoot!" The men stood across the road from me and between the vehicle and the gate, one of them seemingly looking into my face as he talked. Then the vehicle
moved off and the men stepped behind it and followed, continuing their talk. I heard one of them say to Morgan something about "dismounted cavalrymen." It was about sunset. Soon they and the team disappeared around a curve in the road. We came together for another "war council." We decided to follow them. At the next residence, Mrs. John Bird's, the vehicle turned in, but the men kept on down the road.
I explained to the boys that a few hundred yards ahead was a pond, the main road passing through the edge of it and a "turn-out," dry road around it, with "gallberry" bushes between the two roads. Our plan was to move up close to the men, and if they took the dry road we would slip by them on the main road and be ready for them as they came back into it. The full moon had risen and we could see the men very plainly about a hundred yards ahead of us. We quickened our steps, and as the men turned to the left into the by-road we started on a run in the main road. My foot struck a root, the men whirled around. I thought of my thirty-two buckshot and, feeling sure that whoever got in the first shot would win, I dropped my gun to the level of my hip and fired. I saw
the flash of the Yankee's gun at the moment and a ball whizzed close to my cheek I pulled the other trigger and yelled, "Head 'em! head 'em!" at the same moment jumping behind a pine at the side of the road. Thomas and the lad, had done the same thing. When the smoke cleared away I peered forward, expecting to see at least one of the men lying in the road; only the shadow of a pine lay across it. Presently, in a strong whisper, I said to Thomas, "What you think?" "In the bushes," he whispered back. I was afraid he would say that very thing, and his words were not comforting. We kept our places in perfect silence for probably a half hour, hoping to see or hear something that would help us to decide what to do next. Finally I concluded to make a move, and whispered to the boys that we would step out, keeping our eyes on the bushes. We did so. Then we parleyed about coming together to reload our guns. Thomas being the only one who had any powder, I whispered, "Come over." He replied, "You come." The moonlight in the road was too bright for us, in view of those dark-looking "gallberries" ahead of us, so we held to the shade a half hour longer.
Then the boys came over to me. We started to reload. My gun slipped through my hands and struck the ground heavily. Milton, the lad, exclaimed, "They're coming!" and dashed away like a frightened rabbit Thomas, to be sure with himself, followed, and I found myself putting my "game" leg to the test, unmindful of the surgeon's statement of permanent disability in that member. After a short run we came together and decided to call it a "draw game," and started back for Springfield.
A few months afterward I was telling this story at home, when father suggested that he could add something to it. He said that on the day I claimed to have been in Springfield, two dismounted cavalrymen had called at the house looking for horses, and next morning just after daylight the same two men came up out of the swamp nearly frozen and asked him to make a fire for them. While they were warming themselves they told him a "lot of Rebels" got after them below the village just after dark the evening before and came very near capturing them; that they escaped by taking to their heels and hiding in the swamp. Still later I talked to Mr. Zipperer, in front of whose house
we had planned the capture of the men, and he told me that the next day he was passing around the pond below Mrs. Bird's and found a soldier's blanket-roll at the side of the road with eleven buckshot in it.
No apology is offered for including the following letter from my sister, Mrs. Elvy E. Heidt, in my war stories. It was furnished not without some misgivings, for, in her, trials and afflictions have done "their perfect work" and she has learned "in all things to give thanks and upbraid not." In her account of the visit of Sherman's army to our home she but verifies the statement of a Northern historian, Nugent Robinson, in "History of the World with all its great Sensations," that when Sherman was nearing the end of his long march "discipline relaxed and the army was little better than a horde of savage plunderers."
"Guyton, Ga., January 10, 1912.
"You ask me to give you for your book an account of the visit to our home of Sherman's army on its march to Savannah.
"I was yet a schoolgirl at that time. Many years have passed since, and I fear my memory is not equal to the task. But some incidents of that event I can never forget. One thing I must omit, namely, our feelings while expecting the army. I haven't descriptive powers adequate for this.
"Like everybody else in the country, especially those living on or near the public roads, we had been hiding things for several days? Some things we buried, but most that we tried to conceal was taken into the woods and swamps by father; and as we felt sure the soldiers would, in one way or another, get from the negroes on the place all they knew about such matters, we did the hiding at night and by ourselves. I often think of our dear old father bending under the weight of trunks and boxes that he could scarcely lift, and going off in the dark with them. Of course all this made us nervous and kept us so disturbed we couldn't sleep, although we were often so tired we could hardly walk. We heard that the army was burning all the houses they passed, so we considered nothing would be safe in the house. When we learned that the army was near, we each put on two or three dresses to save them. I think
it was the 6th of December (1864) that the army reached our place. Father thought they would be marching along the road for a half day perhaps, and as we had been hearing that the soldiers were torturing old men in all sorts of ways to make them tell where their money and valuables were hidden, we concluded it was best for him to go into the swamp until the army had passed. His absence added, of course, to our distress.
"Four cavalrymen came first. They rode through the front gate right up to the veranda. At the sight of their blue clothes I was terribly wrought up and frightened. They jumped off their horses and demanded money and firearms. They went into the house and through all the rooms, looking into closets, bureau drawers, and trunks. I had forgotten in my excitement to take off a ring I was wearing, and one of the men asked me to give it to him. I didn't do so, and he made no attempt to take it.
"About two hours later the infantry seem to have arrived, and they swarmed through the yard and the house, shooting turkeys, chickens, and pigs. Several of them put a rope around our dog's neck and swung him up. He was soon dead. We wondered why
they did not shoot him as they were shooting everything else. Mother spoke to one man who was carrying off an armful of our clothes, asking what he wanted with women's clothes. He replied 'For my wench' and went on with them. They found out we had some blackberry wine buried, and threatened to set fire to the house if mother refused to tell them where it was. She told them where it was. There were a few who acted very gentlemanly and seemed ashamed of the way the men generally were acting. They told us to apply for a guard, but we had no one to send and we were afraid to venture out on the road among the soldiers. Several were chasing a pig and shooting at it, and mother ran out and got between them and the pig, and one of the men aimed his gun at her, but the cap popped. She ran back into the house. Mother said something about their taking all the peas, and a soldier handed her a twenty-dollar Confederate bill saying, 'Take this and buy some.'
"The second day they found father, and made him come with them to the house. Two parties of soldiers came on him about the same time. He was on the other side of a lagoon from them, and while he was
going round it to come to them, as he was ordered to do, the men got to quarreling about who captured him; other soldiers came up and passing through the crowd, he got away. Several hailed him as he came along to the house, saying, 'They got you, eh?' He simply replied yes, and passed on.
"The soldiers killed, it seems to me, over a hundred cattle in our horse lot. They made a butcher's pen of it. They found in the swamp, where we had hidden them, our family horses, 'Blazeface,' 'Ransom,' and dear old 'Larry,' and carried them off, also every vehicle except the big wagon, the wheels of which father had rolled into the woods.
"All the cows and yearlings about the place were killed, as well as those in the pasture and the woods; father said he had in all about a hundred.
"There wasn't a thing left cooked or uncooked that we could eat, and in fact no pot or vessel in which anything could be cooked. The second day a soldier asked us what we had to eat. We told him parched corn, which we had raked up where the cavalry horses had been fed. He went off and brought up some army crackers in a quilt.
"Oh, it was dreadful to see everything that our dear old parents had accumulated in a lifetime swept away in a day! But as I look back at it all, I am filled with thankfulness that not a soldier offered any violence to us or even used any insulting language. But the dread of facing alone a lot of strange soldiers was terrible. I don't know how we stood it."
The following unique incident will, I'm sure, prove interesting to many of my readers, though it is given chiefly for the benefit of my own children. Before they were old enough to appreciate fully the inherent gentleness, sweet disposition, and rare good judgment of the devoted wife and mother from whom we often heard it, her lips were forever closed. But in the novel and trying position which the incident describes, they will see these qualities strikingly displayed, and will hold the story as a tribute to her memory.
When Sherman's army reached the vicinity of Savannah the cavalry captured, near the Ogeechee River bridge, the last outgoing train on what was then called the Atlantic and Gulf Railroad. On this train as passengers were Mr. R. R. Cuyler, the aged president of the Central Railroad and two young
ladies, Miss Guyton and Miss Cotton, who had "refugeed" from Guyton on the Central Railroad to Savannah, and were now again "refugeeing" to friends and relatives in Thomasville and Americus, determined to keep out of Sherman's way. But behold! here they were made prisoners by a band of his cavalry. The coaches were at once set on fire. While they were burning, the ladies noticed another body of cavalry coming at a gallop and, thinking they were Confederates coming to their rescue, they clapped their hands with joy. But they were mistaken. Their supposed rescuers proved to be a company of Federals. Their captors offered no indignities, not even requiring President Cuyler to give up his watch.
Soon an army ambulance drove up, and Mr. Cuyler and the ladies were told to get into it to be taken to General Sherman's headquarters. Luckily for them they found Sherman occupying as his headquarters the residence of the Rev. Mr. King, who had taught school in Savannah at one time and one of the young ladies had been his pupil.
He was at home, though his family had "refugeed."
The feeling of relief to the ladies on
meeting Mr. King can be readily imagined. They were at once notified, however, by a member of Sherman's staff that they would be held as prisoners for several days, at least, and Mr. King would arrange for their accomodation. Nothing could be done but "accept the situation," and they resolved to do so with as good grace as possible.
When meal time arrived the ladies were notified that their meals would be sent to their room, if they preferred, but that General Sherman would be glad to have them occupy seats at his military family table. Knowing it would give less trouble to adopt the latter course, they did so.
Now it was Sherman who, on expelling the people from Atlanta, had written the memorable words, "The women and children must be made to feel the hardships of war as well as the men in the army;" and his soldiers in their march through Georgia and South Carolina were allowed to illustrate the meaning of his words by pillaging private residences and carrying off whatever suited their needs or fancy; but on this occasion he acted the gentleman, and when the ladies entered the dining-room he courteously asked that one of them take the head of the table.
Willing to "promote the agreeable," even as a prisoner in the enemy's hands, Miss Guyton, the elder of the ladies, with her old teacher on one side and her "sister in affliction" on the other, occupied the seat at the head of the table, and for a week "poured coffee" for Sherman and his staff.
It was often the case that the officers discussed at the table the progress of the siege of Savannah and the preparations for the capture of Fort McAllister. On the evening before the assault was made on the fort, Sherman invited General Hazen to take supper with him to discuss the matter. In answer to Sherman's question, "Are you quite sure, General, that you are ready?" Hazen replied, "Our long range guns are all in position and by nine o'clock the fort will be yours."
The fort was built to meet an attack or approach from the sea, and its heavy guns could not be shifted to respond to this bombardment from the rear. So it proved as General Hazen predicted. After a few well directed shots it surrendered.
"But imagine my feelings," I often heard one of these lady Confederate prisoners say, "as we sat at our window that night and
looked towards the fort! How I wished for wings that I might fly over to it and tell our boys what was coming."
As soon as the fort was captured the prisoners at headquarters were told they would be sent anywhere, within forty miles, that they wished to go. The next morning, they left in an ambulance for Guyton, about thirty-five miles across the country, and arrived that afternoon without further incident of interest.
The young lady who poured the coffee for Sherman, a prisoner at his headquarters in Mr. King's home on the Ogeechee, afterward became my wife, the mother of my children, Guyton M., Gordon B., and Hattie Guyton (Mrs. H. W. Dent). It was from her own lips that I learned this unique and interesting story.
During the four years of the Civil War there were seven Federal campaigns or advances against Richmond, the Confederate capital, under seven successive commanders, as follows:
1 - McDowell; defeated by Beauregard and Johnston at Bull Run, July 21, 1861.
2 - McClellan; defeated by Lee in Seven Days' Battles around Richmond, June 26 - July 2, 1862.
3 - Pope; defeated by Lee in Second Battle of Manassas, August 30, 1862.
4 - Burnside; defeated by Lee at Fredericksburg, December 13, 1862.
5 - Hooker; defeated by Lee at Chancellorsville, May 2-3, 1863.
6 - Meade; flanked by Lee at the Rapidan and forced back to Potomac, October, 1863.
7 - Grant; repulsed by Lee at Wilderness, May 5-7, 1864; Spottsylvania, May 12; Cold
Harbor, June 3; Petersburg, June 18; The Crater, July 30, 1864.
In August, 1864, Grant ordered the exchange of prisoners to be stopped, thus depriving the Confederates of fifty thousand soldiers and forcing them to feed and guard an equal number of Federal prisoners. During the winter of 1864-65 he continued to extend his lines around Richmond, and in April, 1865, forced Lee to abandon the city.