History of the 30th Illinois Veteran Volunteer Regiment of Infantry
At the earnest request of comrades and friends I have undertaken to write a history of the 30th Illinois Veteran Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Fifty years have gone by since this history of four years of hard service was made. Many of the boys have answered their last roll call, which makes it more difficult to get facts that would have made this little history more complete and interesting.
The Adjutant General's report, and short history of the regiment is the only record to which I could go for facts, and it is very incomplete. I have trusted a good deal to memory, and have appealed to the comrades for help, but few have responded. I have labored long and hard, and have taken much time and trouble to secure all the facts in order to do justice to everything and everybody. Read it with a reasonable degree of charity. I have repeated some things, but if I have it was the fault of memory.
G. B. McDonald
Sparta, Illinois. 1916
About the 10th of August, 1861, a military company was organized in Opossumden Prairie, at what was known as the Campbell place, a half mile south of Blair, Illinois.
A.M. Wilson, of Palestine, had part of a company, and J. R. Wilson, on the east side of the Prairie also had part of a company. The two parts of companies met at the Campbell place and organized a company that was admitted to the service known as the War of the Rebellion, and mustered into the service as Co. "C" 30th Illinois Infantry.
James R. Wilson was elected captain, and Alex M. Wilson, 1st Lieutenant, (the Wilsons were no kin) Alfred Parks, 2nd Lieutenant; Wm. M. Adair, 1st Sergeant; Felix Harmon, 2nd Sergeant, Samuel Miller, 3rd Sergeant; David C. Campbell, 4th Sergeant; Robert McNabney, 1st Corporal; Silas F. Crisler, 2nd Corporal; Wesley T. G. Henderlight, 3rd Corporal; Abraham Harmon, 4th Corporal; Jas. M. Brown, 5th Corporal; Jasper N. Foller, 6th Corporal; Jas. Been 7th Corporal; James R. Caudle, 8th Corporal; G.B.McDonald, Drummer; Jas. B. Gordon, Fifer; Amos P. Lively, Wagoner.
The citizens all over the country arranged for a big barbecue and farewell for the boys, which was to be held on the 20th day of August, in the edge of the woods on the east side of Lively's Praire, need a little red schoolhouse known as the McNeal schoolhouse. A large crowd assembled there. Speeches were made, lots of good things to eat and a jolly good time was had. But the parting, late in the evening was sad. The farmers had arranged to take us to Belleville in their wagons. No railroad to Sparta then. About three o'clock in the afternoon the wagons were ready and the goodbyes were said with anxious looks from fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, wives and sweethearts, no one knowing what was in store for us in the future. A loyal, sympathetic feeling was in every heart. The writer was a small boy then, and had never been away from home and the scenes of that day are still fresh in my mind; and I often think of the friends, neighbors and associates that were there that day, and the scenes of parting with loved ones, and I know my feelings in the scenes of that day is that of all the boys.
We got into the wagons and started across the prairie with that vast crowd of people following, shouting goodbyes and waving hats and handkerchiefs. How sad it makes us feel when we look back on that crowd, and think how few of the boys are left who were there that day. How little we knew about a soldier's life.
We reached Sparta a short time before sundown and marched past where I am living now. We stopped a short time on the street where more farewells and good wishes were heard. We drove out about two miles on the St. Louis road, and stopped for a short rest and lunch. The excitement of the day was past and friends left behind. Some of the boys were jolly and kept up a little fun, but Oh! How lonely! Homesick, lovesick, wanted to see mama.
About dusk we loaded up and started for Bellville. When we got to the Wallace Hill, in Hill Prairie, a crowd of farmers was there to bid us goodbye. After some singing by the young folks and short talks by the older heads, we made another start for Bellville. It was a long, tiresome, lonely drive. The boys sang songs and kept up a jolly time until about midnight; then all were quiet, tired and sleepy. Nothing could be heard but the chuckle of the wagons and the occasional bark of a farmer's dog, and the crowing of roosters. As we trudged on our way to Bellville, lonely, lonesome, lonely. We reached Bellville about three o'clock in the morning of the 21st. We were marched into a small park, and slept under the trees until morning, with the covering of some quilts and blankets that we had taken from home. This was our first soldier's camp. While lying there thinking of the folks at home I heard for the first time the squawk of a peafowl. I will never forget the doleful, lonesome sound of that fowl's voice. I looked into the future and wondered if we would get tot kill any rebs for getting us into such a bad fix; and wondering if we would ever see the gal we left behind. The good ladies at the picnic had put up a nice lunch for each one of us. We had a little nap and rest and was up early, feeling pretty taggy. No water to wash, but we opened up our lunch to satisfy the inner man. Well, it was crumbled cake and pie and fried chicken, quite a different spread from the day before. No coffees, pretty tough, but just listen later on. This was the beginning of a soldier's life at Bellville, August 21, 1861.
After breakfast we got into a crooked line and marched down to the depot and took cars for Papstown, now East St. Louis. While at the depot I saw telegraphing for the first time. A white piece of paper was running through a machine that was clicking little dots and marks on it. A man was sitting there interpreting the dots and marks and putting them into writing. That was a wonder to me, but just see now.
We bid good bye to the friends that hauled us to Belleville, and took the train for Papstown and transferred to the C. & A.R.R.. for Springfield, Ill., and a little later for Camp Butler, five or six miles to the northeast of Springfield. On arriving at Camp Butler we found other boys there just from home, with the same experience that we had had, but all were now Uncle Sam's boys. And all were amateurs in regard to camp life.
But everybody got bust pitching tents, building fires and cooking a dirty bite, and making coffee was a sight to behold. When the coffee was about done a stick would break and spill our coffee, and all would have to be done over again. But we were going soldiering now, and no kicking about such little things as that. But all minds were turned back home, and thinking how nice it would be to sit down to the table and eat some good things that mama had cooked. The next thing was writing to father, mother, wife or sweetheart, and telling them of our hardships. But later on when learned something about hardships.
When we had with us the old coffee kettle, the friendly canteen, yes, and the old mess pan, and if you had seen the mess we had in them sometimes you would have said that they were well named. These were friends indeed in the time of need.
We stayed at Camp Butler a short time, then moved to Clear Lake, a short distance southeast. This was an ideal camp among the trees. The lake had nice banks, clear water, fine for bathing and fishing. Here the 30th Ill., was organized, with Philip B. Fonk, Col.; E.S. Dennis, Lt. Col.; Thomas McClurkin,, of Sparta, Maj.; G.A. Bacon, Adjt. We were made Co. "C". We drilled a good deal, trying to learn, hay foot, straw foot. We stood guard with sticks, and of course we were all brave, and could kill Secesh if we could, talk about the war, and wonder if it would be over before we would get into a fight. But follow the 30th through this little history, and you will see if we got into a fight or not. We have had many a good laugh since, about our foolish ideas.
We saw several companies come into camp carrying loads big enough for two or three men. Let us see what we carried later on. One half of a Pup tent, and one little old lousy blanket and a little grub in a greasy haversack, and always forty rounds. The forty rounds was for the Johneys. I will explain what a Pup tent is. It's right name is Shelter tent, but the boys dubed it pup tent. The tent is in two parts: each part is about four by six feet. One half has buttons, the other has button holes. Two comrades bunk together, and each carries a half tent. It is buttoned together, a ridge pole is secured, two forked stakes, three or four feet long are driven into the ground the width of the tent, the ridge pole laid in the forks, the tent spread over, and staked to the ground by loops for the purpose; and as far apart as desired for room for two comrades. If you have something to close one end, well and good but if not, it can remain open to give plenty of fresh air. Then rake up leaves, grass, or being lucky, get some straw; then spread one blanket down, the other over you get down on all fours, and crawl in and you are fixed for a glorious nights rest, provided a storm does not come along and blow your Shebang down. The boys called it pup tent, first, then added Shebang. The word Shebang, spread all over the country, even got into Congress. All the Congressmen, in speaking about anything would say "Shebang."
If you were on a little elevation and look over a camp of pup tents, you would say it was a camp of prairie dogs. So you see Uncle Sams boys had a jolly good easy time, no rent to pay, and no board bills.
September 1st we marched back to camp Butler, and took the train for Decatur. Here we changed to the I.C. for Cairo, Ill. The scenes along the R. R. were new to us alll (sic) and some funny things took place. The citizens long the way were always out to cheer us on our way, and it was a great pleasure to us kids who had never been away from home. As far out as we could see, the ladies were waving their aprons, bonnets, and handkerchiefs, as the handiest article was used. The boys were always ready to return the compliment, by waving their hats. And several of the hats slipped from their hands and were lost. Hats were lost, but the opportunity for some fun was not lost. The boys guied them for throwing their hats at the ladies. Just imagine yourself on that kind of a trip without a hat.
As soon as the cars stopped, one of the boys went out to get a canteen full of water. He went into a saloon and filled his canteen, and the saloon keeper charged him twenty-five cents for it. He came rushing into the car, very much excited, and said to the boys "this is soldiering like hell. Right here between two big rivers, and twenty-five cents for a canteen full of water." The reader can imagine how the boys gave him the horse laugh.
The regiment marched from the cars to some old barracks where some other soldiers had been quartered. The barracks were dirty and we feared gray backs. Some talked loud, some swore and theirs laughed. But all were tired, and blankets were soon spread and all laid down for a night's rest, and thought of the Johnny Rebs just across the Ohio river in Kentucky. All were up early next morning viewing the surroundings and wondering what next. In a short time we were moved over next the Mississippi river in the rear of Cairo and camped in tents. The high water had floated large sycamore logs all over the ground and our first duty was the clearing of a drill and parade ground. This was a big job. Large details were made for the work. Any kind of work is called fatigue duty. Details were also made for guard duty. A levee had been thrown up along the river to keep the water back. A guard was placed around the camp and along the levee. A guard is divided into three reliefs: two hours on and four off. The guard posts are all numbered. A guard has to walk his beat, from one guard post to the next, fifty or a hundred yards apart. The first guard will announce the hour and "Post No. 1" and "All's Well," Number two will pass it to No. three and so on, all the way around, every hour.
One night it was very dark, and raining. When the word came to Post No. 10 the guard announced: "Post No. 10, All's well, and raining like hell."
The soil about Cairo is deep, black and mucky, and in rainy weather it is very disagreeable getting around. Several old cows and hogs got shot just because they would not halt when they were ordered to.
We had been assigned to Brigadier General John A. McClernand;s brigade; General U. S. Grant commanding the District of Cairo, and Maj. Gen. John C. Fremont commanding the Department of Missouri. By this time we had gotten pretty well uniformed. In drawing uniforms you had to take pot luck. A man weighing one hundred and forty or fifty pounds may draw a suit for a man of two hundred. So you see how well they would fit. But we traded around until all got a pretty good fit. But sometimes we had to resort to cutting and sewing. Shoes were the brogan style just the thing for marching. We drew some gray hats at Camp Butler, with red, white and blue cords around them, With our uniforms we got a blue cap with a scoot bill to it. Maybe you know what scoot is, I'm not sure that I do. Some of the boys would turn them the scoot up in front, to make them look fierce, and it worked like a charm. Now the time had arrived for some kind of guns. Everybody was ordered into line, and the Regt. marched down to the levy on the Ohio river, and one company at a time marched in on an old warf boat and drew their guns. They were the old Belgum muskits with brass bands on them, and would kill at both ends. They lay in ricks and no one knew how long since they had been used. In taking them out of the rick one went off, but no one was hurt. Now with "uniforms and guns", we were sure enough soldiers, and talked louder about the war being over before we got into a fight (but just wait a little). There was some drilling now, in the manuel of arms and squad firing.
Not a man in the company had any knowledge of military tactics. There was no standard tactics then and three kinds were used, Scotts, Hardies and Caseys. We used Caseys. Some men learned quick, others labored hard but could not learn, and of course they were assigned to the awkard squad, and had extra drilling to do. Some men went through the war and never learned to keep step. How the boys would cuss when they had to march behind a man that could not keep the step. Of course they would tramp on his heels, then he would cuss. I have often wondered what that kind of a man was made of, can't put down the left foot at the beat of a drum.
After the troops got pretty well drilled, we had some grand reviews under Grant and McClernand. A review of well drilled soldiers is a grand sight. There was a little fort on the Ohio river, just below what is now called the Halliday House, and the boats coming down the Mississippi river past Birds Point had to run up the Ohio river to get to Cairo. Whenever a boat got to a certain place and did not whistle the guns in the fort put a ball in the water in front of them. Then if there was no whistle, another was put across her bow, that brought a whistle.
Several boats on the Mississippi were rebel sympathizers, the Plat-Valley for one.
Cairo was a small dirty place, poor buildings, sidewalks two feet off the ground. Late in the fall barracks were built for us to live in the winter. The barracks of the 18th Ills., caught fire one day, but it was reported that they set them afire to get rid of the lice. The fire engine tried to out on these sidewalks, (streets too bad to travel). They would slip off occasionally, but got out and threw some water and lots of mud.
There were rats in Cairo, without number. Some of the boys declared they saw some as big as tom cats.
October 22nd the Regt. went on a scout over into Kentucky, near Columbus, returned to Cairo. Nov. 6th got on board of the boats with other troops and went down the Mississippi river. Stayed on the boats all night.
November 7 we moved further down the river, and landed in a bend 5 or 6 miles above Columbus, Ky., marched about two miles south through the woods. Cannon balls began to whistle over our heads. We halted near a turnip patch, and the boys concluded everything was fair in war, and the first charge was made on the turnip patch. The cannon and musket balls were flying thicker over out heads. Got orders to fall in, and formed line of battle. Just then a man belonging to the 27th Ills., was wounded and was taken to the rear. The wound seemed to be in his breast, and the blood was running freely. This was the first man I had seen wounded, at it made me feel worse than all the rest of the fight. We advanced a short distance and was ordered to fire. It seemed half of the regiment was knocked down by the shock, but the worst was over. Some being killed and others wounded. A hospital was established in rear of the regiment by Dr. Gordon of the 30th. The wounded were laid on the bare ground. With cannon balls crashing through the timber and musket balls falling in every direction, it made an impression on us all, we ill never forget. A steady advance was made, with an occasional halt to investigate the front, and the Confederates were driven back to their camp, which was just across the river from Columbus, Ky.
It was reported that a number of the rebs jumped into the river trying to escape and were drowned. Others escaped up and down the river, and a good many were taken prisoners. The victory was ours, all was confusion, at it looked like no one was in command . There is a big bend in the river above Columbus, and the rebs, by boat, rushed troops over and surrounded us. Three Companies of the 22nd., was sent down river to guard against this movement, but failed to do their duty and left us to fate. When it was reported that we were surrounded, Gen. Logan commanded the boys to get in line, and with an oath said we had fought our way in, and we could fight our way out. We moved back over the ground we had fought over coming in and it was not long until we struck the enemy. They opened fire on us and we returned the compliment, and moved forward on quick time. The enemy gave way and opened to the right and left and fired on us from both flanks. This where we lost the most men. The 30th captured the celebrated Watson's New Orleans "Battery", but owing to the thick timber it had to be abandoned and left on the field. We made our way back to the boats in considerable confusion. We got on board of the boats in a hurry. The enemy had followed up, and began firing on us. The boys got on the upper deck, and returned the fire with good effect. Three old wooden gunboats, (Lexington, Tyler and Connastoga) had accompanied us down the river, and now it was their time to fight. They opened with broad side, 64 pounds guns and how they did boom. We began to feel like we had some help, and was cheering news to us. This part of the fight was very exciting, for a short time, being at close quarters. But the boats soon got out of range of their guns. There was an old log house near the bank of the river and the confeds took shelter in it, but the gun boats soon knocked it down, and must have killed a good many of the enemy.
The 7th Iowa (a splendid regiment) took a circuitous route, going south, then west and came into the boats without much moss. Sid Marlin and JimBeen of Co. "C" were killed, Felix Hannon and Bill Elsey died from wounds, one was taken prisoner. Dr. Gordon of the 30th remained with the wounded, and was taken prisoner, and lost a big black stallion, he had taken from home. Wm. A. Brown of Co. "C" was wounded in the head, and so far a known was the first man from Randolph county to shed blood for his country. He is living yet, at Murray, Nebr., and is almost blind from the wound.
John Iliff, of Co. "C" captured a black flag in the camp at Belmont. A black flag means no quarter; take no prisoners, kill everyone. John Humphreys now living in Sparta, was on one of the gun boats that took part in this flight. One of the big guns at Columbus fired a ball at our transports and it went five or six feet in the ground. The deck hands dug it out and brought it to Cairo and it lay at Gen. Grants headquarters a long time. It was about eight inches in diameter and about twenty inches long, and had several brass bands around it.
We landed at Cairo after dark, tired and hungry and with the satisfaction of knowing that we had been in one fight before the war was over. Several friends from home came to Cairo to pay us a visit when we were getting on the boat to go down the river the day before the fight, and could hear the cannon during the fight and sent wonderful reports home. Companies "C" and "E" being from Randolph county.
We remained in our quarters until Jan. 10, 1862, when we went into Kentucky on a scouting expedition. Landed at Fort Holt, Kentucky. There was quite a hill out a short distance from the river, and soldiers were detailed to pull the wagons and artillery up the hill. Long ropes were used, and a full company would do the pulling up the hill. We camped there and it snowed that night, January 11. We started on the march, and when we camped we had to rake the now away and spread out blankets on the bare ground. That was a little rough, going out of our warm barracks at Cairo. We camped one night in a branch bottom, near a little town called Blandville. It rained that night, and with the snow made lots of water. The writer woke up the next morning lying in two or three inches of water. We went into camp before night, and there was a big strawstack across a field from camp. The boys went for the straw to make a good bed. Each one got all he could carry and came marching across the field, a laughable looking sight. The commanding officer discovered the move by this time, and made them carry it back. The reader will understand that among a lot of soldiers, some are not as pious as they might be, and you can imagine what followed. The boys thought when they were in the enemies country it was fair to take anything they wanted. But there were some loyal people in Kentucky and they must be protected.
We had a good many wagons on this trip, and we never saw the wagons after we left our first camp until we got back to Cairo, on the 22nd, except a few that hauled provisions. We camped near a farm house on Saturday night and laid over Sunday. The boys sneaked a hog, and being out of salt had to find a substitute. We had heard old men say in other wars they used gun powder for salt. We tried it in this case but it was no good for salt. This was a hard disagreeable trip, did not see any Johneys, was out twelve days in the mud and snow, and got back to Cairo on the 22nd. It was the opinion of all that this trip was more damaging to the men than any we were ever on. February 4th, with other troops we went up the Tennessee river by boat. 6th was at the attack and taking of Fort Henry, on the Tenn. River. The fort was on low ground, and our gunboats did fine execution there, and did not leave much for the land forces to do. Captured some guns in the fort, but few prisoners.
The fort was on the east side of the river and Fort Heyman, was on the west, on high ground. Gen. Tighlman was in command of the fort. The Confederates retreated to Fort Donaldson, twelve miles distant, on the Cumberland river. The Federal forces persued the retreating enemy, and a few miles from Fort Donaldson struck a strong line of pickets. Had several days skirmishing but drove them back to their main force, and on the 13the the fight was on in earnest.
The enemy was well fortified with rifle pits and forts, and had large guns in the forts, on a high bluff commanding the river.
Our gun boats run down the Tenn. River, then up the Cumberland and attacked the fort, but owing to the high bluff, and the river bring narrow, they did not do as good execution as they did at Fort Henry, and were pretty badly damaged. There was snow on the ground, and it was very cold and disagreeable. There was several charges made on their works without much success, our forces falling back and formed a new line. The dead and wounded were left between the lines and lots of the wounded froze to death. The ground had quite a growth of saplings, and as high up as a man could reach they were so cut up by bullets it looked like it would have been impossible for a man to be left alive.
On the 14th the success of the Union forces was in the balance. The Confederates made a desperate effort to cut their way out. The attack was made on the right center where the 30th was stationed, the fighting was fierce. The attack was very near a success, but they were driven back. 15th the fight resumed, and a demand from General Grant for a surrender. About noon white flags were seen on the breast works, and orders were given to cease firing, and General Grant and General Buckner agreed on terms of surrender. General Floyd had been in command, but he had been secretary of war under Buccannan and had taken a solemn oath to support the Constitution of the U.S. and defend it against all its enemies, so he was afraid to surrender to the "U.S." forces. General Pillow was next in rank and Floyd turned the command over to him. He was conceited and prided himself on his services as a soldier and it would be too humiliating for him to surrender to the "yanks" and he declined the command and General Buckner being next in rank the command fell on him. He was considered by General Grant to be the best of the three.
Floyd and Pillow seized some boats lying there and with some troops escaped up the Cumberland river, on the night of the 15th of February . Gen. Buckner surrendered with about 15000 prisoners, and General Grant's forces took full possession of Fort Donaldson on the morning of the 16th. This was another victory for General Grant, and it was cheering news to the folks at home.
At the out break of the war the Southern soldiers got the impression that the "yanks" were little men with horns, and they could go in among them with big knives and cut their heads off. The report proved true. When the place surrendered, they stuck their big knives under the houses and other places wherever they could hide them. They were made out of old files and steel bars, with good substantial handles, and were from 15 to 20 in. long. So they found out the yanks were big men, and big fighters, and did not have horns, and were good stayers. They concluded that they would have to resort to some other weapons other than big knives to put the yanks out of business, as we never found any more big knives after that. But the boys never forgot the story about the little yanks with horns. When we were on the Mississippi campaign, the darkeys were all out along the road in great glee on seeing so many big yanks, and one old aunty said, "We'uns all thought you'uns all had horns". Well the boys gave her the war whoop. In passing on a little further, Lance Baden, (our boss drummer) asked a bunch of darkeys if they saw any yanks with horns. "Yes" says a big black women, "We saw some go by with great big horns", meaning, of course, the brass band. You know the boys had a laugh on him. While we were tired and hungry and sometimes sleepy; and wondered if we would ever get home, yet we had some fun along the way.
Fort Donaldson is on the west bank of the Cumberland river, and on high ground. Dover, (a small town) is about two mile up the river from the fort. (Grant's memories) a number of the officers threw their revolvers in the river when the place surrendered. The boys found a good many of them while in swimming. The writer was in a house where two old people lived, and they had their life sized pictures hanging on the wall and a miney ball came through the wall and through the old ladies picture, about the breast. They were in the house during the fight. While we laid there Parson Brownlow had been from a rebel prison and came down the Cumberland river on the Jacob Streightor. The boat landed there awhile and our band went down and serenaded him. He came out and made a little talk. Alexander Murray and Samuel Pollock of Co C were killed, Capt. Wilson, of Co C was wounded in the head and fell as though he was killed but came to and stayed in the fight to the end.
Crack Lemmons of C was hit on the elbow by a ball which rendered his arm useless, and was discharged. John McKinzie, George Koop, Chas. Ruhl, Andrew Whittock, Chas. Grah and Henry Hilling, of Co E were killed. The regiment lost sixteen at Fort Donaldson.
The 30th and 31st were pretty well used up at Donaldson and were left there to do guard and scout duty, and were not in the battle of Shiloh.
The 30th and 31st marched from Fort Donaldson to Fort Henry, got aboard the boats and landed at Pittsburg landing, April 25th.
Took part in the siege and taking of Corrinth, Mississippi. Our first camp was near Shiloh meeting house. It was built of logs and was pretty well torn up by cannon balls. We advanced about a quarter of a mile at a time and threw up breast works. We were up before day light a good deal of the time, and in our works ready for the enemy, should they try to surprise us. Had some skirmishing with the enemy. We occupied the same ground the rebs did, and our graybacks got mixed. They were numerous, and very large, very brave and always hungry. Here is where I got the first graybacks on me, it made me homesick and I wanted to see mama.
This battle ground was heavily timbered, and the trees were badly cut up with cannon balls. The water was scarce, and very bad on account of so many dead men and horses. We used lots of lemons in our water and the smell of them was almost sickening. It was a great place for whiskey and chuck-a-luck. Co C of the 30th was sent out one day to one of the whiskey dealers and chuck-a-luck gang. The Co., was deployed as skirmishers and made a charge on them. It was fun to see them grab their wealth and skin through the woods. The boys took in a lot of the gamblers. Three of the ring leaders were courtmarshalled and dishonorably discharged. They were decorated for the occasion. One had a lot of long black bottles tied around his neck and marked whiskey. Another had a barrel over him, with his head sticking out, and marked on the barrel in big letters, chuck-a-luck bank. The third had a big card fastened to his suspenders behind, and big letters saying "bat tender". They were marched all through camp with the fife and drum playing, "The Rogues marched after them" and outside of the camp and ordered to keep going. Here are the words the boys set to the tune of the Rogues march:
Poor old Soldier, Poor old Soldier,
Bucked and gaged and sent to Hell,
Because he wouldn't soldier well.
There was no occasion for making any more arrests for that business. This was in Logan's brigade. We continued to advance on to Corinth until we were within a few miles of the town, when the Confederates evacuated the place on the 29th of May, and the Federal troops occupied the town on the 30th.
June 4th and 5th we marched to Bethel on the railroad north of Corinth. The boys will remember the big springs there. June 8th we occupied Jackson, Tenn., camped on the west , side of town. We had a good time fishing and bathing in Forked Deer creek. We feasted on blackberries and fruit from an orchard near by. 13th and 14th the 20th and 30th Illinois marched to a crossing on the Estannola river, 18 or 20 miles south west of Jackson. Went from Estannola to Brownsville, 12 or 15 miles to the north west. We found the people there very friendly. It was a nice little town. We did not stay there very long. Went back to Estannola. We had quite a scare one night, some darkeys were trying to cross the river and come into our camp. The pickets fired on them and broke a horse's leg, and he got down in the water and made such a noise, the pickets thought the whole rebel army was coming, and the pickets kept up the firing for awhile. The drum major was ordered to beat the long roll. He got out in his shirt tail, and it being a still night, it would have almost raised the dead to hear that drum through the beech trees. The boys were soon in line, some dressed, some half dressed and some not dressed at all, but all had their fighting traps on ready to lick any number of Johnnies. But when the facts were known, some laughed, some swore about having such excitement, and spoiling their nap, aobut (sic) an old horse down in the river with a broken leg. But such is a soldier's life. Thas (sic) is what we call a false alarm. Broke rank and all returned to their tents and all was quiet again. Under such circumstances it is natural for one to think of home, and wonder when this cruel war will be over.
On August 31st about daylight we received orders from Col. Loller, commanding the forces at Jackson, Tenn., to destroy every thing we could not take with us, and marched for Jackson. There was a large force of Confederates in that vicinity, and he had fears for our safety. This was on Sunday morning, and about Friday before our teams had been to Jackson for provisions, and two barrels of whiskey was in the supply. We hurriedly packed our knapsacks and loaded the wagons with camp equipage. The two barrels of whiskey was cumbersome for the troops on a forced match (sic). The heads were knocked in and the barrels upset and the whiskey went on the ground. The boys could not stand to see such a waste as that, and they got busy dipping it up in their hands and drinking it, and went on their way rejoicing.
It was a beautiful Sunday morning, we got in line and started about sunup on quick time and about 10 or 11 o'clock we reached a little town called Denmark about 10 miles from our starting place. A halt was made for a little rest, and we received orders to go into camp until the next morning. Col. Loller must have had all confidence in the fighting qualities of the 20th and 30th to order them to intersept the enemy in such force.
Sept., 1, 1862
We marched south east, then turned east and about 9 o'clock the advanced guard struck the enemy. The 20th was in front with a section of artillery wagons and ambulances came next, and the 30th in the rear. After a few shots by the advanced guard the artillery took position on the road leading north and south and opened on the rebs. One or two shots were fired when an orderly came on the gallop for the 30th to come to the front of double quick and leave the wagons. We opened ranks to each side of the wagons and went on the run. Just before we got to the front the rebs captured the two guns, and had the 20th pretty well demoralized, and was making another charge just as we were climbing a little hill, and the command was on right into line, and firing as we came into line, and with a yell drove the enemy back, and just had time to form a good line with the 20th when another charge was made. We took positions a little under the hill in a little strip of timber facing the east, the public road running north and south was just in front of our line. To the east and south there were large fields, the fences had all been thrown down. The Confederates were formed in these fields. Their forces were composed of Cavalry and mounted infantry, six thousand strong, and commanded by General Armstrong. Just in our front there were quite a ridge and the enemy would form under the hill and then charge. We could not see them forming, but could see the dust as they charged. The boys would hold their fire until they were about two hundred yards distant, then would pour a broadside into them. How they did empty saddles! Horses would gallop off without riders and others would fall on the fields. Another charge would come up the road in our front, the men hanging on the far side of their horses, and firing Indian fashion. Charge after charge was made until along in the afternoon, when all of a sudden the enemy withdrew and left us masters of the field. This was glad news to us, for it seemed that there were enough of them to eat us up. But as far as they went they found it tough eating.
A sergeant of the 20th was captured and taken before Gen. Armstrong, and questioned in regard to our forces, and the cause of so much cheering. That was when the 30th came into the fight with a whoop. The sergeant told him that was the advance guard of Logan's "Division" that he was fighting, and that we were getting reinforcements. (See the cool head of that sergeant.) Gen. Armstrong came to the conclusion if that was the advance guard he was fighting he did not care to meet the main force, so he ordered a retreat. He made a circuitous march to avoid meeting any more Yanks. As I have said before the Confederates were six thousand strong, according to their own report. The Union forces were only composed of the 20th and 30th Illinois, and both of these were very small; one section of Swartz's battery, Capt. Foster's Independent Ohio Cavalry company and 34 men of the 4th Illinois Cavalry. The 20th lost three killed and the 30th two.
On our forced march from Estannola, the day before a good many of the boys gave out, and when we made the run to get into the fight the sore footed boys fell behind and were captured. There were about sixty of these. They were marched all night and part of the next day and then paroled. They made their way back to Jackson. The troops there heard the firing of the battle and became excited and wanted to come to us. When the fight commenced Dr. More, of the 30th, struck the road for Jackson, and gave the first report of the battle to the effect that the 20th and 30th were all killed or captured. It was reported at the time that he run his horse so hard that all its hair came off from overheating.
The 18th and 31st Illinois were sent to reinforce us, but did not reach us until after dark. We made camp on the battle ground among the dead. The two guns we lost were recovered again. The Rebs took them off a short distance, spiked the guns, cut the spokes in the wheels and left them. Perhaps some of the readers will not understand how a gun is spiked. There is a small hole in the butt end of the gun, on the top, where a fuse is put with a ring at the end, and a long cord called a lanyard with a hook at the end. The hook is hooked into the ring at the end of the fuse, and at the word "Fire!" the lanyard is pulled with a jerk and the gun is fired. All the men in the battery at the word fire raise on their toes. By doing this the shock in not felt. To spike a gun a thing for the purpose like a rat tail file, is driven in the touch hole and broken off. The gun is spiked. Several of our wagons were burnt. Hugh Blair, of Co. C was very sick and was lying in an ambulance at the edge of battle-ground. The Rebs came up and looked at him and concluded that he was no good and would not fight any more, and left him. Blair did not run away but lived to fight another day. He came home alive and raised some more little Blair's. The battle was fought at the mouth of a lane and a man lived on that lane by the name of Britton, hence the Battle of Britton's Lane. This little battle was a hummer, but is not mentioned in history. That eagle Col. Dennis wore laid a star on his shoulder in honor of this battle. He was colonel of the 30th and in command of the forces. Major Shed commanded the 30th, Lt. Col. Bacon being absent at the time of the fight. The writer was the only musician left, and made music for the two regiments as they marched into Jackson. The other musicians were not killed either.
We never learned what the losses of he Confederates were, but it was supposed that their losses in killed and wounded were equal to our whole force. Maj. Shed was riding a frisky horse, and as he was prancing around the Major got shot in the back.
Sept. 2 the troops that reinforced us were left to bury the dead and care for the wounded, and we marched to Medan Station on the Mississippi Central railroad. We marched over the ground the Confederates occupied and the scene was awful. Dead horses, horses with broken legs and otherwise wounded. There were dead men, but they did not add much to the scene for us; we had gotten used to that.
September 3rd, marched to Jackson. General Logan had been in command at Jackson, but was in Illinois the day of the fight. A telegram had been sent him that the 20th and 30th were all either killed or captured. He took the first train for Jackson and was there when the regiments marched in. He made a speech to us and told us the news he had heard, and said he did not believe a word of it.
The regiment was camped at Jackson for two months Stock ran at large there, and the boys would go to a bridge south of town in the evening, and as the cows came home in the evening they would herd up the cows on the bridge and milk them. When you wanted the cows to stand still you said "So, so," but one old cow was secesh, and did not purpose to "so," and jumped off the bridge a distance of ten or fifteen feet. "Now, damn you, I guess you'll 'so'." That fellow is a little more pious now; and his name is Wm. A. Brown, and he is now living at Murray, Nebraska. They got the milk just the same, and the cow was not killed.
Company "C" was sent to White Station, north of Jackson to guard the railroad. They built a little fort of blockhouse, but camped on the outside. They had several alarms at night and some shots were fired. Just think of jumping out of bed at midnight in your night clothes (if you had any) and running to the blockhouse to stand the Johnnies off. An alarm was given one night, and the run was made for the fort. Ike Snodgrass run over something and fell down and hurt one of his legs and got left behind. After all the other boys were in the fort he came limping up and says "Do you think you can hold it, boys?" Under the circumstances such things are very amusing and the laugh was on Ike. Companies F and K were sent south to Mound-Pinson. This was just a country road crossing. The writer was with these two companies. Some laughable things take place in a soldier's life. A regiment of Tennessee cavalry passed by our camp one day, and they were straggling some. The colonel gave the command "Close up gentleman, close up gentleman." You bet we had a good laugh. The idea of soldiers gentleman was a corker to us. The Tenneeseeans were not experts in tactics but when it came to the fight they were stayers. Mound Pinson was a short distance east of the railroad, and fifteen or twenty feet high, and perfectly round, level on top and about fifty feet in diameter at the top. A few trees were growing on it. The country was comparatively level, there were no other mounds. While we were stationed there the boys foraged some, and I witnessed the skinning of some hogs. If you never skinned a hog just try one. You will find it a job. You have to cut the hide off just like you would the bark of a hickory sapling before the sap is up.
The last of October the regiment was assembled at Jackson, and on the 2nd of November, 1862, we took up the march for Lagrange, Tenn., where Gen. Grant's forces were mobilized for the Mississippi campaign.
On November 11, 1862, Grant's army started on the Mississippi campaign. The object was to strike Vicksburg in the rear from this direction. This was a long, tedious hard march, mixed with many hardships. We crossed the Tallahachee river near a little town called Abbeyville the Confederates falling back as we advanced. We passed through Holley (sic) Spring, Oxford, Miss., and camped near Water Valley Decemmber (sic) 19. Holly Springs was made the base of our supplies. The 8th Wisconsin, commanded by Col. Murphy and a regiment of cavalry were stationed there. The Confederates, surrounded the place and demanded its surrender, which was done without a fight. The cavalry regiment did not like the idea of surrendering and cut their way out. With our cracker line cut and our sowbelly hogged by the Johnnies there was nothing for us to do but to retrace our steps. This was a gloomy outlook for us. Rations all gone and the whole country laid waste living was quite lean. Not even a top rail to start a fire. So what could not be cured must be endured. If there was a soldier disliked to do it was marching over the same ground previously marched over. On this campaign Co "A" found a barrel of molasses. They knocked the head in and were filling their canteens when a woman came on the scene, and with language too awful to publish, rushed in and upset the barrel, and the molasses being thick, did not spread fast enough, she got down on her hands and knees and spread them to keep the boys from getting them. I guess she would call that Southern chivalry.
In course of time we got back to Abbeyville, the place I mentioned on our way down, near the Tallahachee river. We were there on Christmas Day, 1862, and had nothing to eat but parched corn, and stole it from the horses. There was a little grist mill there, and we scoured the country for miles around and got a little corn and ground it on the mill and ate it bran and all. Two companies were sent foraging one day and came back late in the evening with about ten bushels of corn and two small hogs. A soldier came riding in one day with a hog on his horse before him, with his overcoat buttoned around it and a pair of boots on its hind legs to make the guard believe it was a man, for fear he would be arrested for killing a hog. There were strict orders against foraging except on regular detail. While on this campaign we would see houses with a sign put up by the owner saying "Smallpox." The purpose was to keep the boys away from the house. The boys concluded that if small pox was there, fire was a good eradicator of disease and it soon went up in smoke. We left Abbeyville about the first week of January 1863. We crossed the Tallahachee river in a big rain and soon went into camp. Clothing, blankets and everything were soaking wet. Mud was shoetop deep; no place for a dry night's rest. The writer and four other comrades chanced to get a big tent and we gathered up sticks, chunks and brush to keep us up out of the mud We spread wet blankets down to lay on, and had wet blankets to cover with. Laid down spoon fashion, got up a little heat and smoked like a bed of hogs. Never had a better night's rest. Some of the boys cut stiff brush and hung on them to keep out of the mud. Soldiers will contrive some way to suit their needs. In course of time we trudged our way back to the vicinity of our starting place. We camped for a few days at a little place called Lafayette, Tenn., on the Memphis railroad. Many of the boys were worn out and sick with the long campaign. Had about two inches of snow. Broke camp and took up the march for Memphis, Tenn. When by the way of Germantown, All that were not able to march were put on the cars. A little before sundown we had a wreck at a little culvert just where the 10th Missouri regiment was camped guarding the railroad. The engine went over, but the cars piled up. Six were killed and about thirty crippled. Most of the train was flat cars loaded with boxes of ammunition, the men riding on top. There was one coach on the rear of the train. The writer was one of the worn out boys and occupied a seat in the rear coach. One end of the coach got off the track. The 10th Missouri boys took us into their tents and cared for us until late the next evening when we got off for Memphis, arriving there after dark January 19, 1863. Was in Col. Legget's Brigade, Major General Logan's Division, Maj. Gen. J. B. McPherson's Corps. We stayed in Memphis for awhile we did guard duty and some scouting. Memphis was a pretty good sized town but in bad condition. The writer was in Memphis in 1913 and found it wonderfully improved. Like many of the towns of the South, Northern capital and energy have gone into these towns, and some of them have grown almost like mushrooms. It is on the east bank of the Mississippi river and surrounded by a very good farming country.
After being replenished with clothing, grub and ammunition, on the 22nd of February we went by boat to Lake Providence, LA., on the Mississippi river twenty-five or thirty miles above Vicksburg, Miss. Lake Providence is a beautiful lake on the west side of the river, and separated from the river by a levee. There was a large cotton field on the south side of the lake, and the cotton was ready for picking. The ground was very low and rich. The trees along the lake were hanging full of moss two feet long. This was the first I had seen. A small steamboat was pulled from the river to the lake on skids. The work was done by soldiers. Later the levee was cut to let the water into the lake. The river being high the water rushed into the lake at a fearful rate. The object in this was to flood the country to the west and run the Johnnies out. We remained in this camp about two weeks, then moved up the river forty or fifty miles to Vista Plantation, and we also called it Camp Logan. On the 17th of April we went down the river by boat to Milliken's Bend, La. This was a low, flat country of black rich soil; about ten or fifteen miles above Vicksburg. While camped here General Grant undertook to cut a canal across the country, and connect with the river below Vicksburg to put troops across the river into Mississippi. When the canal was deep enough the river being high the water to be let into the canal sufficient to let boats through. But the river went down before the canal was ready. The batteries on the high bluff at Vicksburg had got range of the dredgers and made it very dangerous to work. It was reported some years ago that the river had cut through Grant's canal but it proved to be untrue. The writer went from Vicksburg to Monro, La., in 1913, and the railroad passed over Grant's canal, and it is used as a sluiceway, and it is about the same depth that it was when it was made. The canal being a failure, something else had to be resorted to to get the boats below Vicksburg, and a plan was laid to run the blockade. Four steamboats were secured and loaded with hay and cotton bales to protect the boilers from the guns at Vicksburg. The bales were well soaked with water to keep them from burning.
On the 16th of April, everything being ready they started on their perilous journey. The gunboats accompanied the transports. The boats floated until they were discovered, then they put on all steam. The gunboats opened on the batteries on the bluff. It was quite an exciting time for about two hours before they got of reach of the enemies guns. One transport was disabled and set on fire. All of the boats were damaged to some extent. This was certainly a hazardous undertaking. Volunteers were called for to man the boats, and the call was soon filled, and others turned away. Soldiers are always ready for any undertaking. A second run of the blockade was made, but not as successful as the first. Houses were set on fire along the river bank to make a light so the boats could be seen. Boats were now below Vicksburg, and the troops were marched around on the west bank of Lake St. Joseph and into the river near Grand Gulf, where the boats ferried us across the river into Mississippi. On the 1st day of May the 30th crossed the river just before sunup. We marched out a short distance and stacked arms. We could hear the guns at Port Gibson; the fight was on. A vote was taken whether we would go on or wait for our baggage; a yell was raised: "Let us go on." Got into line, took arms and struck the road for the fight at Port Gibson. The day was dry, hot and dusty, but the sound of battle is very enthusing to soldiers; we pushed on all day without a halt. There were deep cuts in the hills, and about noon the sun beat down, and the dust rose up and made it a little bit warm for the "soldiers" carrying knapsacks, three days' rations, forty rounds and in uniform. We arrived on the battle fled (sic) just before sundown formed line of battle and advanced, but did not have any fighting to do as the Johnnies began to fall back. Camped in line of battle. (This was Saturday) Sunday morning May 2, up early, got some good old coffee, hard tack and sowbelly. Put in column and marched into Port Gibson. This was my first time to see Southern scrip, (money), it was blowing on the streets in 5, 10 and 20 dollar bills. I brought some home with me. The bridge across Byo-Pierre, being burn and the water not very deep, we pulled off our shoes and socks, rolled up our pants and wadded it. We marched out about a mile and halted. The boys brought in a number of prisoners, they were hiding in the brush and old houses.
A colored man told us where there was a pile of hams hid in the woods, just listen; did the boys get any of those hams? While they lasted the boys came into camp with a ham on his bayonette. "Bully Ham" too. At this halt, Dick Yergan, of Co. F was after a chicken, and it run under an old house. He crawled under after it and found an old coffee pot full of silver. He brought it into camp and it being too heavy to carry, gave it out to the boys for greenbacks, dollar for dollar. An old colored man had been saving it up to buy his and his wife's freedom. Now he was to have his freedom and did not need it for that purpose, the boys thought it was not robbery to appropriate it to their own use. This same Dick Yergan picked up a bundle on the streets of Vicksburg and it had $1500 dollars in it. He was from north east Tennessee.
We moved on a short distance and went into camp. May 3rd we did not march far until we came to Hankensons ferry on the Big Black river, not a very big river either. We lay here several days skirmishing with the enemy. On the 12th we reached Raymon (sic), where we had a hot fight for several hours.
The rebs had selected this place to check our advance. The road run about east to west, and a small creek run north and south, with a bridge across it, and not much water in it. The creek made pretty good breast works when we were able to reach it. The 30th was on the north side of the road in a piece of open timber, on the west of the creek, and a big open field on the east of the creek. On the south of the road there was a good deal of timber and brush, on the south of the road there was an open field. The creek made a turn to the east after passing the bridge and throwing the open field on the south of the creek. On this side of the road the Confederates came down much closer, being protected by the brush. The dead lay thick about the creek.
The 30th advanced to the creek and took shelter in it, It made very good breast works. The battle lasted several hours, when the enemy retreated toward Jackson. We had a man in Co. C that was an awful coward by the name of Johney Boyd. He would always dodge out when a fight was on. My brother, David, was Sergt. Maj. Of the regiment. Capt. Wilson requested the Sergt. Maj. To keep behind Co. C and see that Boyd went into the fight. He had to draw his sword on him several times, but he put him into the fight, after getting into the bed of the creek for protection. The boys would get up to the front where they could see to shoot, but Boyd would keep well down in the bed of the creek to load his gun, and instead of getting up to the front to see where to shoot, he would stay down in the bed of the creek, tuck his head down, and throw his gun up and shoot. He came very near killing some of the boys that was up at the front. One of the boys gave him a cursing and told him he would put a bullet through him if he didn't stop that kind of shooting. The Capt. never forced him into a battle again for fear he would kill some of the boys. He made him do other duties that were useful. He would tremble as though he would fall dead in his tracks. Here is the question: Could he help that?
After burying the dead and caring for the wounded we took up the march for Jackson eighteen miles distant. Passed through Clinton (a college town). We reached Jackson, Miss., on the 14th, where the Rebs were in considerable force.
The reader will notice that on this campaign when we reached a place there was no parleying, but we formed a line of battle and made an attack immediately. The reason for this is plain: When we left Milliken's Bend we cut loose from all communications north, and were fighting our way around to some place near Vicksburg, on the Yazoo river, which proved to be a success later on. Consequently the enemy was attacked without delay, and Jackson was taken without very much hard fighting. Perhaps less than fifty were killed. A good deal of artillery was taken, with other military stores. The Confederates destroyed a good deal before the evacuated the place. There was a cotton factory there that had not stopped during the fight. After the surrender, Grant and Sherman visited the factory and watched them work for awhile, making tent cloth, with C.S.A. printed on each bolt. After watching them work for awhile, Grant told the operators they could leave and take all they could carry. The most of the workers were girls. (Grants Memories). About the close of the battle a bunch of sheep came running by, and Co. "K" "30" boys, took one in; and had a change from sowbelly to sheep. W.F. Wilton, of Co "K" now living at Huey,Ill., was one of the sheep boys. This was the 14th, and at Champion Hill, the 16th he lost an arm. Jackson was a very nice town, and it is the capitol of Mississippi. The writer was there in 1913 and found the place much improved, A new state house had been built. Pearl river is a short distance to the east. We camped near Jackson, the night of the 14th. On the morning of the 15th we changed our course for Vicksburg, about fifty miles due west. We passed through Clinton, the college town, and camped on Baker's creek.
As is generally the case, when the enemy is near, and a battle is expected, the troops will have some knowledge of it. But in this case there was not a hint of battle being so near. We broke camp early on the morning of the 16th as usual, and took our place in line of march. About 9 o'clock, some skirmishing was heard in front. The boys had got in the habit of saying that that was the pioneer corps fixing bridges. The skirmishing continued, and increased, until about 10 o'clock when an orderly came galloping back for our brigade to move to the front on quick time. This kind of order gets soldiers on their nerves, and they want to get on the firing line. Gen. Hovey was in the advance, and was heavily engaged, and was falling back when we came in sight. We moved by column right into an open field, and formed on his right. He was south of the road and we on the north. His troops rallied as we formed line of battle on a ridge in an open field. The Confederates were in the timber just outside of the field, about a half mile to the west. Our line advanced at intervals and laid down, so as not to get ahead of Hovey's line of battle. He had now reformed his line and was driving the enemy back. The sun was warm, and the rebs bullets made it still warmer. These short advances were made with continued fighting until late in the afternoon, and fighting was fierce. Gen. Pemberton, commanding the Confederate forces had marched out from Vicksburg and selected this fine position, with the determination of defeating Grant. And Grant was fighting to open his cracker line, and get in communications with the north. So when Americans meet Americans; then comes the tug of war. We had fought our way down to near the woods late in the evening, when Hovey's troops gave way on our left, and that gave the enemy a flanking fire on us, and we suffered for it. We lost Maj. Wilson, ex Capt. of Co. "C" Capt. Meily, of Co. "D" and Capt. Burnett of Co. "G" and a number of men of the regiment.
At this stage of the battle, fifty or sixey (sic) pieces of artillery had taken position on the ridge where we formed in the morning, and we were ordered to fall back to a little ravine and lay down. Then the artillery opened on the Johny's and for about thirty minutes, the earth trembled and the smoke rolled up as from a prairie fire and the Lord only knows how the rebs rolled up. It had been give and take, but now it was give, and the enemy took to the rear and that ended the battle.
It is hard for men to stand shot and shell like that. When we were ordered to fall back, Capt. Meily of Co. "D" had just fell mortally wounded, and called the boys not to leave him. John Wilson of Co. "C" was near him, and he took his gun in one hand, and with the other got Miley partly on his shoulder and took him back to the ravine. For this act he was awarded a badge of honor. In passing over the battle field later, John Wilson picked up two balls stuck together, they had met during the battle, Yank and Johney balls. A Col. Of, I believe an Ohio Regiment, had formed his men in line of battle and was in front directing their movements, before they began firing; and a rabbit jumped up and run to one flank, and the Col. Pulled off his cap and threw it at the rabbit and yelled "Go it molly cotton tail if it was not that my reputation was at stake, I would go with you". That was a cool officer. We sometimes hear soldiers say they were not afraid in battle. That won't do boys; when death is staring you in the face don't you feel a creeping, trembling sensation pass over you? But you can be like this Col., keep cool, for your reputation is at stake, and you stand to. We marched a mile or two after the battle, and in doing so, we marched over the battle ground after dark, and the groans of the wounded, and calling for water was heartrendering. The name of this battle was taken from a mans name that lived on the hill in the midst of the battle. In 1906 I attended the Illinois dedication of the monument at Vicksburg, and in going from Jackson to Vicksburg the railroad passes over the north edge of the battle field. There is no station there but the train stops for passengers. Just when we were getting off the cars at Vicksburg, I saw the conductor talking to a lady and call her Mrs. Champion. I addressed myself to her and asked her if she was the Mrs. Champion that lived on the battle field, and she said "yes sir, I am the woman" I asked her is she was there during the fight. She said she was, and was in the cellar during the fight, and her youngest child was a baby then, and had died that summer with yellow fever. That was 46 years after the battle. She had a part in the program of dedicating the monument.
There was not much time for burying the dead, and a good many of them was laid in a ditch and covered over. After the surrender of Vicksburg we were back over the battlefield and the rain had washed the dirt off and their knees were sticking out, and some of their teeth were shining.
All was up early and ready to move. We crossed Bakers creek on a bridge that the enemy did not have time to destroy. When we got near the Big Black river, where the enemy made their next stand, and were well fortified, a line of battle was formed, and the war whoop was raised, and the race was, who could get their first. The Yanks went into the fort without a halt, capturing eighteen cannon and seventeen hundred prisoners. We lost a few killed, and a good many wounded. The fort was on the east side of the river, the ground being in cultivation a considerable distance back. The enemy had burned the bridge, but pantoons (sic) were soon laid, and early on the morning of the 18th troops were crossing and moving on Vicksburg about ten miles distant.
On May 19 the enemy was driven inside of their works, and a complete line was drawn around the tow, from the river above to the river below, and communication was opened up on the Yazoo river, above Vicksburg. The first troops on this campaign crossed the Mississippi river on the last day of April, near Grand Gulf, making twenty days since we cut loose from all communications north. The reader can imagine how the boys rejoiced to get letters from home, and a good supply of hard tack and sowbelly. We had only five days rations issued to us in these twenty days.
Vicksburg and Port Hudson were the only two places remaining in the hands of the Confederates on the Mississippi river. Port Hudson is a considerable distance below Vicksburg. The ground around Vicksburg is very broken. The Confederates had selected the most commanding hills and ridges about two miles out from town and had them well fortified and supplied with guns, and of course we had to occupy high ground within range of their works in order to do any execution, and fortify, which was mostly done at night. The brigade to which the 30th belonged occupied the center about a quarter of a mile from, and in front of Fort Hill, the strongest works around the whole line. Gen. Grant concluded as the confederates had been defeated in every battle and with the killed, wounded and prisoners that their army had become so weakened and demoralized, their works could be taken by assault. So with this belief in view, he issued a general order to the troops that on the 22nd of May at 10 o'clock a.m. a general assault would be made on the works from one end of the line to the other. The reader will remember that in all of our battles infighting our way around to Vicksburg we were always victorious, and some of them were the give and take kind, but when this order went forth, it
tried men's nerves. There was some brush along the gulches and ravines, but not enough to shield the troops from view. The big forts and strong line of rifle pits were in plain view. And with the experience Grants men had had; every man realized the undertaking that lay before them. I believe if this could have been done on the spur of the moment, and not issued the orders they day before, the result would have been better. It is very natural when men have such a task before them, for it to wear on their nerves, thinking that the 22nd of May would probably be their last. General Grant had all the corps commanders set their watches with his, and they with their division, and brigade commanders, so as to have a union of action. (Grant's Memories). Promptly at the time set, the signal gun was fired and the charge was made. In order to give the men every advantage possible, they were marched out and took position as near the works as it was possible to do so, and lay down. One thought was in every man's mind: will we take the works, or will we fall in the attempt. The signal gun is heard, now they rise and raise the yell and rush forward on the run. A beautiful, sad sight. See the flag bearer three paces in front of the regiment, with the stars and stripes waving in the air. (Grand Sight). There you see the flag go down, the bearer is killed. Another picks it up and goes forward to suffer the same fate. See a shell go through the ranks, three, four, five or six of the boys go down. The gap is closed up and they press on. Man after man goes down, until the ranks are weakened, everyone sees the task is a hopeless one, they faulter, they pause, a retreat is ordered, back over the same ground, among the dead and wounded. Sad, sad scene. But such is war.
The works of the Confederates were full of men and every man had two or three guns loaded, lying by his side ready to use. The charge was a failure, and Grant, seeing it was going to cost too many men to take the place by assault, began a regular siege which lasted until the 4th of July, when they surrendered. The Brigade to which the 30th belonged had formed in a hollow from which the ground sloped up to Fort Hill on the Jackson road. We were not ordered to charge and lucky for us. Fort Hill was not takable. It was the general opinion of all the Fort Hill could not be taken by assault, and we were formed in plain view of their works to hold the enemy there and keep them from reinforcing at other points. After the charge all of our lines were advanced a little, and it was dig and fight to the end. The Confederates had sand bags on top of their works, with loop holes to shoot through. The boys shot them full of minie balls, and after the surrender they were paid fifteen cents per quart for picking them out. They were put in quart bags to use at short range. During all the siege the enemy scarcely ever showed a head. If they did a dozen bullets was flying at it. The boys roamed over the hills almost at will. A Battery of sixty-four pound guns was planted near our position, called Battery Logan.They fired at Fort Hill almost daily during the siege. The boys will remember Whistleing Dick. The rebs planted it in a big hollow off to our left and threw shells at our battery, but in never did any damage. It was down in a hollow and three a curved shell but it always missed. Our batteries brot their guns to bear on it, and when they saw the smoke shoot up, shells went in there thick and fast. Sharp shooters were detailed every day, and occupied rifle pits up close to the enemy,and pecked away at the rebs almost day and night. An observatory was erected close to Fort Hill and a looking glass placed in it, and worked with a string to reflect the inside of the enemys works. But the Johneys soon got on to that, and put a ball through it. Wooden mortars were made to throw shells over into the enemy's works. Just enough powder was put in to throw the shell over the works. They were short and made of the toughest trees that could be had, and had iron bands around them. A plan was laid and put into execution by digging a ditch from in front of our position up to Fort Hill. The trench was dug six feet deep and wide enough for four men to march abreast It was dug in a zig zag shape to keep the enemy from shooting along it. It was called Logan's Approach. It was Logan's Division and Leggett's brigade, to which we belonged, that lay in front of Fort Hill, that did the work. The purpose was to get up to the fort and undermine it. As soon as the sap was run up to the parapet the work of undermining began, and on June 25 everything was ready, and at 3:00 o'clock in the afternoon the fort was blown up. Troops were there ready to charge in, but the breach was not large enough to admit enough men to make it a success, and the undertaking was a failure. But hand to hand fighting continued for some time. When it was blown up, a colored man was blown over on our side of the works, frightened and trembling, but not much hurt. When asked how high he though he went he would reply "dun no, massa, but t'ink 'bout t'ree mile." General Logan, took him to his headquarters as a cook..
In 1906, the winter was at the dedication of the Illinois monument, (will describe it later on), and standing on top of the fort talking to two members of the 3rd La. Ret., they told me they knew we were undermining the fort, and they were countermining against us. When the fort was blown up, they had eight men working in there and they are in there yet. Another mine was exploded July 1st, destroying an entire redan; and killing and wounding a considerable number of the enemy, and leaving quite a hole in the works. But no attempt was made to storm the works. The fleet took position on the river, and almost day and night three shells into the town. We sat on the hill many a night and watched the shells dropping into the town. I could see a flash of light as if far off lightning and rumbling like distant thunder. In about two seconds would see the shell came up over the bluff with fire on the fuse.
It would go up, up, up then down with the same curve and speed out of sight, then see another flash and hear the rumbling when the shell exploded. There were deep cuts in the hills for the wagon roads and the citizens would burrow into the hills at the deep cuts and make rooms to live in, to escape the shells. I was in several of these dugouts and they were fine and safe from harm. Another sight that was fine was to watch the sixty-four pound guns shell Fort Hill. I could see the shell leave the gun, and see the shell plow into the fort and explode, then see the dirt fly. One of our gunboats was sunk there, and when it received the shell it put on al steam and steered for shallow water, and when it went down it was about half out of the water. The boys will remember it lay in the bend of the river above Vicksburg until after the surrender. Then it was raised and put into commission again.
The court house was in our front and we could see the town clock and tell the time of day and hear the clock strike. When the charge was made on the 22nd of May the colonel of an Ohio regiment on our right told the color bearer not to stop until he went to the court house, and the color bearer obeyed orders. The regiment was driven back, but the color bearer went on over the works and of course was captured. He told the Col. Of a Confederate Ret. The orders he had, and the Col sent two guards with him to the courthouse and back..
The 30th Regt. was ordered to get as near Fort Hill as possible, and going in the night without much noise, got right up under the fort, but was discovered early next morning.
The Regt. Ws so close the rebs could not use their guns without exposing themselves, but resorted to throwing hand grenades. A hand grenade is a small shell with a fuse and can be cut so as to explode in so many seconds,and thrown by hand.
They threw the shells over the top of the fort so they would roll down among the men and explode. This was close work, and very dangerous. The battery of sixty four pound guns opened on the rebs that were to throw the hand grenades. If the shells fired by the guns has not be put up right, they will lose their course, or in other words, will tumble over and over instead of going straight. One of this kind was fired and fell in Co. "B" and cut both legs off of one man above the knee, and one leg above the knee, and one arm at the elbow of another.
The hand grenades did not roll clear down, but lodged in holes and rough places made by the shells from the big guns. This saved a number of men from being killed. So being in danger from our own shells and the hand grenades of the enemy, the Regt. was ordered out of there in open day light, and brought the two wounded men out, and did not lose a man, but a number were wounded.
The big shells came in just right now, they made it hot for the enemy, they could not get up above the works to see to shoot our boys. The two men died soon after the Regt. got back..
The 20th and 45th Ills. Regts. Were sent up to the fort after the 30th was withdrawn and were no closer than we were. They have markers in the places they occupied, and the 30th has none to her credit. The writer was there in 1913 and saw the markers. The plan was to put a marker to represent the Regt. in its most advanced position in the Vicksburg Military park. The Confederates had not erected any monuments or markers to mark there positions. But the intention was to have them erected. There is an old Confederate cannon standing on Fort Hill pointing toward the Federal's position with a piece broken out of the muzzle.
The boys will remember the rifle pit the 30th sharp shooters occupied a long time, just across a little gulch from the fort, there is a 30th marker there. The 30 h has another marker a little in front of the old Shirley house and close to the Ills. Monument, and on the north side of, and right at the edge of the Jackson road. The Regimental monument is a little further back, and on the south side of the road.
The Vicksburg Military park is a grand sight. The lay of the ground is peculiar. There is gulches and ravines running in every direction, with scrubby bushes growing over the hills and along the streams. The ground was literally covered with bermuda grass. There was no bermuda grass during the siege. The government has sown the seed of this grass to hold the works intact. The works are just as they were during the siege, but covered with grass.
There are peaks along the streams forty and fitty (sic) feet high, grand place for a battery. Each state has erected monuments and markers to their regiments, and the government has built a beautiful graveled road twenty seven miles long around the park, and granitoid gutters and iron bridges wherever needed. The Illinois monument, or dome, is built of white marble, and cost $262000.00. It is round and open at the top, and I would judge about seventy-five feet high and forty or fifty feet in diameter. Thirty five thousand soldiers names are stamped on bronze tablets, and placed on the inside in their regular order by regiments. Going in at the door, turn to the left and follow around until you come to the 30th, then find your company and names in their alphabetical order. The leading general's life sized pictures are above. It faces to the south and has thirty steps twenty-four feet long extending down to the Jackson road. It is on the north side of the road and is about halfway between the old Shirley house and Fort Hill. Has a portico in front supported with heavy pillars. Lincoln's, Grant's and ex-Gov. Yates, sr., of Illinois, pictures are chiseled in the stone up about thirty feet. The old eagle pausing with out-stretched wings above the. Grand sight.
The Illinois Memorial Dome is said to be the noblest and most appropriate battlefield memorial in the world. The Wisconsin shaft is a considerable distance north and a little to the east of the Illinois Dome. The boys will remember the eagle, old Abe as he was called. The 8th Wisconsin Regiment carried him all through the war. He is perched on top of the shaft.
The Iowa Memorial, to the south west, is a bronze battlefield picture, in six panels. Taking as you face the memorial, the first panels on the left shows one gun in action and one of the Union gunboats in the bombardment of Grand Gulf April 29th. Second panel, the 90th Illinois capturing two guns of a Virginia battery in the battle of Port Gibson, May 1st. Third panel, the 17th Iowa charging on the double quick, the Confederate intrenchments at Jackson, May 14th with the 6th Wisconsin battery on the run to keep even with the infantry line. The next panel to the right, the center one, is a black marble slab on which is inscribed the 32nd Iowa commands engages at Vicksburg, and their respective casualties. The fourth panel from the left shows the 24th Iowa capturing four guns of an Alabama battery in the battle of Champions Hill May 16th. The fifth panel the 23rd Iowa in line of battle on the double quick charging the Confederate entrenchments at Big Black river bridge May 17th. The sixth panel on the right shows the placing of the flag of the 22nd Iowa on the pararpet (sic) of the Confederate railroad Redoubt, in the assault May 22nd. There are three observation towers in the Park, one on the right, one on the left and one in the center. The one in the center is about one hundred yards south of the Illinois Dome. They are built of concrete and are a little over one hundred feet high with winding stairs to the top.
The boys will remember the big cotton wood tree that stood on the side of the hill near our camp. Harvey Moreland, Jap Fowler, Fletch Crisler and several others had fixed up a tent fly against the tree and was sleeping there when a thunder storm came up one night and lightning struck the tree. The boys cam crawling down the hill calling to the boys for help, that their legs were torn off. They were only stunned, soon got alright. That tree has been cut down. The colored folks have built a nice little church on the hill just in front of our camp and in the rear of battery Logan. They call it Mount Etna. It is on the south side of the Jackson road.
The old Shirley house is in good repair, kept so by the government. The Confederates had a Fort Hill up the river toward the cemetery. It was from this fort that the shot was fired that sunk our gunboat, the Cincinnati.
The cemetry (sic) is a beautiful place. Located on the side of the bluff fronting the river, and was established in 1865, and the number of the boys buried there is 16,822. This is the largest National Cemetery. 12,719 are unknown. It is built in terraces and in a circle, well set in grass, beautiful walks and driveways and is ornamented with trees shrubbery and flowers. The trees are mostly Spanish oak. May. Wilson who was Capt. of Co. "C" is buried there Section 0, Grave No. 4,307.
The Pennsylvania memorial is not very large, but the inscription on it is appropriate, and a noble sentiment:
"Here brothers fought for their principles,
Here heroes died for their country.
And the united people will forever cherish,
The precious legacy of their noble manhood."
The Navy monument is north of the cemetery, and is a shaft about one hundred feet high. The Vicksburg Military park contains 1,288 acres. There is two principal avenues, Union and Confederate. Eleven secondary avenues, Grant, Pemberton, Sherman, connecting Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin. And thirty short circle, Johnston, Logan, Maloney, Navy, Observation, Pemberton, Sherman, Tighlman, Memorial, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois. Illinois Memorial, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin.
There are sixteen bridges in the park. The United States has placed 869 tablets in appropriate locations, on which are told briefly the detailed stories of the siege and defence, 568 Union and 328 Confederate. Classified by subjects, Historical 162, battery 197, Union trench markers 227, Confederate trench markers 150, Union approach markers 136, Headquarters 19, mortuary 5. The avenues, circles, and public roads in the park aggregating about thirty-two miles of park roadway are marked by 120 guideboards . General summary of Casualties, of the Vicksburg campaign, Union killed 1,581, wounded 7,554, missing 1,007, total 10,142.
Confederate killed, 1,413, wounded 3,898, missing, 3,800, total 9,091.
In the main body of the park the lines of the opposing armies are plainly shown without confusion or uncertainty, by the monuments, markers, tablets, and in a very realistic sense the battle is again set in order.
I have neglected to give an account of the surrender of Vicksburg in its proper place, but will do do (sic) so now.
On the 3rd of July, about 10 o'clock a.m. white flags were seen on a portion of the enemies works, and in a short time two men were seen coming toward our lines bearing a white flag. All firing ceased. An officer was sent out to meet them, and conducted them to General Grant's head-quarters. General Pemberton requested a few hours armistice. Grant refused. Then they suggested that he meet general Pemberton in regard to the matter. Grant agreed to this and set 3 o'clock in the afternoon for the meeting. Pemberton and some of his officers appeared at the appointed time. Grant and some of this officers met them not far from the rebel lines. Grant demanded an unconditional surrender. This was refused. On seperating Grant promised by 10 o'clock that night he would send a written demand for the surrender, and on what terms. The terms were officers and men to be paroled as soon as possible. Officers to retain their side arms, baggage and one horse each, and if accepted, white flags must be displayed on your works by 9 o'clock a.m.
At the time appointed white flags appeared on the enemy works, and the stronghold of Vickburg was surrendered to Grant by Pemberton, July 4, 1863 at 9 a.m. The Confederates marched out of their works and stacked arms, then returned inside of their works as prisoners of war. (Grant's Memoirs).
During the siege there had been a good deal of friendly talk between the pickets. The rebs were known as 'Johnnies" and the Union as "Yanks." The Johnnie would say "Yank, when are you coming in to town?". Yank would answer back, "We are going to celebrate the 4th of July in Vicksburg". The Vicksburg paper, which we received regularly thru the courtesy of the rebel pickets, said prior to the Fourth, in speaking of the Yankee boast that they would take dinner in Vicksburg that day, that the best recipe for cooking a rabbit was first "ketch your rabbit". The paper at this time and for some time previous, was printed on the plain side of wall paper. The last number was issued on the Fourth and announced that we had "caught our rabbit".
31,600 prisoners, 172 cannon, 60,000 muskets and and large amount of ammunition was surrendered. (Grant's Memoirs).
This ended the most daring campaign of the war. It was march and fight, march and fight for twenty days on five days rations.
A few years before the war my mother and brother David was down in Mississippi visiting our kin folks. When Vicksburg surrendered he supposed some of the Mississippi troops was inside of the works. He went in a made inquiry and found several cousins he had visited before the war. But here is closer kin than that. Four brothers were in the Union army and one in the Confederate army. He went from Arkansas. His home was there when the war broke out, and it was with good deal of reluctance that he entered the army. He was taken prisoner near Chattanooga, sent to Camp Chase, Ohio, exchanged from there, and never heard of since.
These were anxious times, but ten times more so at home than in the army, for we felt like we could take care of ourselves against all comers. But the folks at home were anxious to hear from the boys, but no one knew anything about them, except they were somewhere in the vicinity of Vicksburg.
The place where Grand and Pemberton met to agree upon terms for the surrender of Vicksburg, was in front, and a little to the left of the 30th position, and near a scrubby old oak tree. That tree was taken, root, body and branch for relics. The writer has some of it yet. There is a large cannon standing on end to mark the spot where the tree stood. It is called surrender monument. There was a marble monument put up first, but it has been chipped off by relic hunters until it was badly disfigured. It was moved to the cemetry and called "Peace Monument". The writer was in Vicksburg in 1913 and found the city much improved, but not so much as other Southern towns. It is a Jew town now. The court house is just the same. The town clock ticking away like it did when we viewed it from our lines.
May 25th, the 30th with other troops marched to Mechanicksburg (sic), on the Yakoo (sic) river, looking for General Johnson, who was threatening our rear, returned to Vicksburg in a short time, and actively engaged in the siege. June 23rd, moved to Black river, under Gen. Sherman, to guard against Johnson's attack in the rear. Soon after the surrender of Vicksburg, moved with Gen. Sherman, back to Jackson to drive Gen. Johnston farther east. Returned to Vicksburg July 25th. August 20th went up the Mississippi river by boat, landing near Lake Providence, and marched to Monroe, Louisiana, one hundred miles west. This is a low country, with rich and black and muckey soil. Returned to Vicksburg August 28th. October 14th moved with other troops under Gen. McPherson toward Canton, Miss. Was in one engagement at Bogachitte creek. Returned to Vicksburg the latter part of the month.
We remained in Vicksburg the winter of 63-64. On January 1, 1864 we re-enlisted and mustered in as veteran Regiment. January 10th, moved with other troops up the Mississippi river against guerrillas. Returned to Vicksburg the 15th. February 3rd, started with other troops on the Meridan campaign under Gen. Sherman. Had several skirmishes with the enemy. Arrived at Meridan the 15th. Returned to Vicksburg March 3rd, distance traveled three hundred miles.
I haven't said anything about foraging. Some of the boys were hard to beat at the business. If they never got any rations issued to them, they would always have plenty to eat. I will not tell on the boys, but if I tell on myself, I will not get any scrapping on my hands.
While we were camped at Vicksburg, some of us boys were out in the edge of town, and we spied a coup of geese in a man's yard, and laid a plan to get some goose that night. After dark four of us started to get goose or gander. There is lots of pleasure in pursuit, and thinking how nice it would be to have a fat goose for the next day instead of old rank pork, two went to the south side to draw the attention of the dogs while myself and pard got the geese. But to our surprise, the coop of geese was gone. But goose or bust, so we set out to locate the geese. After slipping around and listening we located the coveted geese in a little barn, and the door was locked, so we were up against the most difficult part of the job. So we looked and felt and prowled around for a place to get in. We had been so long at this part of the work, that the boys who had gone to the south side had lost their desire for goose and went back to camp and left us to our fate. On the east side of the barn a rock wall had been built up to bring the foundation on a level with the west side. There had been a broad plank nailed on the east side of the barn at the top of this wall. Time had loosened the nails and in feeling around we discovered this plank was loose, and by my pard pulling hard on this board, made room for me to crawl in. The next thing was something else. That something else was goose. By this time the geese had discovered an enemy and was making a good deal of noise. I waited awhile until everything was quiet. Now the goose question had become very interesting. Mama had raised geese and I fully understood their goose tricks. The reader well knows that if they were ever bit by a goose, that if a goose gets you by the finger it is like going up against a buzzsaw. Thus far with a fine prospect for goose. I approached the coup with care and felt for a slat that I could remove with little noise. My pard was waiting and watching on the out side. I removed a slat and felt carefully for my goose and bearing in mind the cissor (sic) bill of a goose. I got my goose by the neck, then there was a scuffle for a little while, as she did fully understand an unconditional surrender. I held my grip on the neck so she wouldn't squawk, I got her by the wings so she could not flop, brought her out of the coup, laid her on the ground, got on her with my knees, and feeling I goose ship secure, I twisted her neck until it was broke, tightened my grip on the wings, a struggle, a quiver and all was quiet. Now I felt sure I had one goose. Then to pass it out to my pard was another question. After feeling around a while I found a crack just as high up as I could reach. I poked the goose's head out, and my pard pulled and I pushed and she went through. I repeated this process of securing a goose until I had four. I fixed the slat back on the coup and my pard pulled the plank back anl (sic) I slipped out.
When we started out it was a question whether we would get any geese or not, but now we knew for a certainty that we had the geese. But before this time we were sure the other two boys had deserted us. So taking two apiece we pulled for camp. The geese were hid away, and we crawled into our bunk with the satisfaction we would feast on fat geese tomorrow, The next morning the other two boys were taken to task for leaving us. All kinds of excuses were offered but none satisfactory, and we accused them of being cowards in time of danger. They promised to be more brave the next time, and the catch was divided, one to each mess, and the work of preparing fat goose for dinner was begun. We picked some and skinned some and got them to boiling early, and thought by noon would have good cooked goose. But not yet. But we were out of and still no good cooked goose. But we were ut (sic) of patience waiting for them and served them for supper, but just listen. There was not fat enough on them to color the water, and tough was no name for it. Worse than blue jurk. They were like the rebs, starved out.
Well, we got paid for our trouble, but not the kind of pay we were after. I have often wondered how that man accounted for the four missing geese the next morning. I see him peering in the coop and counting them over. He says to himself, there were twelve in the coop when I put it in the barn, now there are only eight. He looks through the barn for feathers, blood, or a hole that any varmit could get in at. Then he tries to solve the mystery. Then he goes to the house and calls Mary Ann and wants to know if she was sure there were twelve geese in the coop. "Yes there were twelve" "Well, there are only eight now". The question was unsolved and if living, just not yet understand how the four geese got out of the barn, and never once thought perhaps a yankee thief stole his geese. I feel mean about it yet, particularly so for the reason that he never could solve the mystery. That was my first jayhawking and my last.
March 5, 1864 we left Viscksburg by boat for home on our veteran furlough. Arrived at Camp Butler March 12th. Each company left Camp Butler by the shortest route home, and for thirty days our chief business was seeing the gals, eating good dinners and cutting the pigeon wing.
People that were for the Union, heart and hand, were glad to see the boys at home having a good time, and they done every thing they could to make our short stay at home pleasant by giving up public dinners and dancing parties. But there were some old copper heads that looked sour and treated us fairly well when it was policy to do so, for they had stabbed us in the back. They had heaped all kinds of abuse on us, calling us Lincoln hirelings, nigger lovers, greasers and mud sills. They aided and abetted the Southern cause in every was they could. Knights of the Golden Circle always held their meetings in some secret place at night, plotting against the boys that were fighting for the preservation of the union. When these kind of men were challanged (sic) for their disloyal utterances they would always boast that they were as loyal as anybody. (Such Loyalty). It was that kind of loyalty that caused Judas to hang himself. Those kind of men drank health to my brother Henry's death when he was killed at the battle of Atlanta, Ga., while carrying the flag. It was these kind of men that murdered good old Abraham Lincoln, and strange to say we had some of those kind in the army.
We lay at Raleigh, North Carolina, when we received the sad news of the assassination, and one of these kind boastfully remarked, "Served him right". He has scarcely made this remark when he was knocked senseless, measured his length on the ground.
The citizens of Chester gave us a big dinner and dance in the courthouse, and during the dance, one rebel sympathizing woman shouted, "Hurrah for Jeff Davis". No sooner said than a lady slapped her in the mouth. Those were trying times. For the Union or against it.
The Union League was organized to offset the Knights of the Golden Circle. It was composed mostly of men that were too old to go to the war. They were men of nerve and stayers. Lots of them in and around Sparta. The most of them are in their graves now, but I cherish their memory. We needed such men at home as well as in the front. I admire the man that has the principle and the nerve to back it.
The people gave us a big dinner at Preston. These occasions always brought a big crowd. Boys, do you remember what happened there? A big secesh bully had been very busy shouting for Jeff Davis, before we can home, and was silly enough to come there. You will remember the two boys of Co. C that led him out of the crowd and one of them spat in his face and the other one rubbed it in, then they ordered him to take a a (sic) walk, and to go quick and to keep on going. The boys will remember Billy Prine, of Co. G. He was at the table feeding from both sides. One of the boys said to him: "Billy, how do you like it?" He answered with an oath, "it's superb". You remember that later on he was corporal of the Pioneer Corps. Then you remember after the grand review at Washington, D.C., we camped outside of the city a short distance and the newsboys came into camp with papers to sell. Some mischievous fellow (we had plenty of them) told the newsboys to announce Corporal Prine's farewell address to the Pioneer Corps was in the paper; big laugh all through camp. Billy has been preaching since the war, doing well.
The boys, and girls too, will remember the big "shindigs" we had in the old McCormack house. Old Miles Burget and another colored man made the music. It was fine, too. Big dinner at Red Bud for us, and one at Ephraim Morris', not the John Wright place, near Blair. All of these big doings were inside of thirty days, besides some sniping scrapes between times. Can you catch on? Our thirty days' furlough being about out, and feeling like we had been on a forced march for thirty days we began to return to Camp Bulter. (sic) About April 1 we started for Richview, the farmers hauling us in their wagons. We stopped a short time in Oakdale, There was a saloon there, and of course there was no harm in taking a little of the "O-be-joyful" in time of war. John Wilson and Ed Laird had been at outs for awhile, and while in the saloon Laird renewed the difficulty. Wilson invited him out to settle the matter. We formed a little ring for them, they toed the mark and sailed in. In the first round Wilson beefed Laird. It was a clean knockout. That settled the matter. Laird was much the larger man. You see we had not had any scrapping with the Johnnies for awhile and wanted to be in fighting trim when we got back to the front. Loaded up again and started for Richview. We passed through Nashville. About an hour before sundown we had some more fun. We met a man walking. J. C. Wilson, now living in Sparta, called to the man to holler for "Old Abe" (meaning Lincoln). The man walked on and paid no attention to the demand. Jim jumped out of the wagon and took after him. He overtook the man, and laying his hand on his shoulder, demanded that he holler for Old Abe. The man said that he could not holler. Him then told him to swing his hat and he would holler. The man swung his hat three times, and Jim whooped 'er up. The boys were laughing and guying Jim, thinking that he was up against it, but Jim won out.
Went on to Richview. Got there about dark. One other company was there and we all took the train for Camp Butler. The companies all arrived at Camp Butler on time. And on April 18 we boarded the train for Cairo. Left Cairo the 28th with the Tennessee river expedition, under Gen. W. Q. Gresham. Landed at Clifton, Tennessee, the 30th. Marched to Athens,Georgia, in a downpour of rain. Got there after dark; everybody and everything was soaking wet. There was about half of the regiment in line when we were ordered to stack arms.Instead of stacking arms the boys just stuck their bayonets in the ground. Then every fellow was hunting a dry place for the night. The writer and several others run som (sic) hogs out from under an old church, and had a fine place to sleep, but not in a very good shape to fight. A squad of Johnnies could have taken the whole camp.
The next morning found everybody still wet and hungry. We got some breakfast and pulled the bayonetts out of the ground and cleaned up, and got ready for business. Athens was a small town.
May 5th we marched via Pulaskia, Tenn., to Huntsville, Alabama. Huntsville is a nice town. The finest spring water there I ever saw. It had a fall of about ten feet and was fifteen or twenty feet wide. A large steam of water flowed from it.
May 25th we moved to Decatur, crossing the Tennessee river the 27th. Thence via Warrentown, Alabama to Rome, Georgia, thence via Kingston, joining Gen. Sherman's "Grand Army" at Achworth (sic), June 8th. On the 10th we moved to Big-Shanty and commenced skirmishing with the enemy. Big Shanty is known as the place where the Andrews raiders captured a train, and moving north, burning bridges and tearing up the railroad.
They passed through Kingston where there was several thousand Confederate soldiers without being found out. But they were all captured before they got Chattanooga, and after lying in prison for some time, Andrews and seven of his men were hung at Atlanta, Georgia. There were 24 in all, the others supposing that would be their fate, laid a bold secret plan and succeeded in over powering their guards, broke jail and escaped. After many hardships they succeeded in reaching the Union lines. This was as daring and hazzardous an undertaking as took place during the war. They were Ohio soldiers.
June 15th we moved a little to the south east, had considerable skirmishes with the enemy. 1st Lt. Ogdan Greeno, of Co. "F" and acting Adj., of the brigade was killed standing on a hill watching the movements of the enemy through a field glass. He was killed by a sharp shooter. The sharp shooter was captured, and he inquired if there was an officer killed.
We advanced across a field to the south west, crossing a small stream called Nonday creek. It was deep but not very wide. The boys were crossing on a log, and that cannon balls were flying over head. Johnny Boyd, an awful coward, was on the log when a cannon ball went hissing over. Boyd plunged into the water, gun, knapsack and all. He went under and when he cam up, Hugh Blair of Co. "C" was on the log and he called to Boyd to hand him a drink. This was fun while fighting.
After crossing the creek we soon struck some woods, Brushy Mountain was about a quarter of a mile to the front, advanced through the woods in line of battle with the rebs peppering away, but when we reached the fort on the hill the enemy had retreated.
Brushy Mountain is east and a little to the north of Kenesaw Mountain. About the 20th we made a demonstration to the southeast. Went on the double quick part of the time. It was very hot. Billy Hawthorn, of Co. C was sunstruck. The writer was one of the stretcher bearers. Was giving him some water when the doctor came up and gave me some whiskey to give him. He was lying on the ground and struggilng (sic) a great deal. I got astraddle of him to hold min steady and poured the whiskey in this noes, in his eyes, all over his face and a little in his mouth, (good nurse). We carried him back to camp and nursed him for several days, and he got all right. On the 27th day of June our brigade moved south form our position on Brushy Mountain, across an open field to some woods on the south side of the field. Halted and staked arms right in the face of the enemy. There was a little field just to the east of the woods, and Co. K was sent out as skirmishers across the field. They advanced across the field to a strip of woods on the south side. Johnny Burson was killed and a sergeant badly wounded. A cannon ball struck a stack of guns, and pieces few in every direction, wounding several of the boys. The adjutant of the brigade rode up to Lt. Col. Rhodes and asked him if he had any water in his canteen, Rhodes said yes. The adjutant got off his horse, ran his arm through the bridle rein to hold his horse while he drank. While he was drinking a cannon ball struck his horse at the girth, and of course, killed him instantly. This was a hot place, and the idea of stacking arms right in the face of the enemy was more that we could understand. Sam Caudle, of Co. C, and George Brown, of Co. E were killed, and a number were wounded. There was a big charge being made away on our right, and we had made this demonstration to keep the enemy from reinforcing from our front. I remember a boy in a regiment on our right that was hit on the collar bone by a piece of shell; how he did yell. The ground was rocky, and when a shell plowed into the ground the air was full of missiles. We got in line, took arms and fell back to our position on Bushy Mountain. We lost twenty killed and wounded. On the night of July 2nd we moved with the 17th Army Corps to the right of General Sherman's army, west of Kenesaw Mountain. The 30th was sent out on a reconnaissance one night, on a blind road through the woods, did not find anything and on returning to camp he boys straggled some, and at the fork in the road the read half of the regiment took the wrong road and got lost. It took some little time to get together and get back to camp.
July 5th we moved to Nickerjack creek. Did not have much fighting to do, but had a good deal of cannonading. The Confederate works was east in an open place. The pickets were not far apart, and a little before sundown one evening, a yank picket proposed to the Johnnies that they quit shooting and have a friendly talk. Agreed says the Johnnie, but there must not be any tricking in this, the yank says "It's all on honor", "agreed" says the Johnnie.
Word was sent along the line to cease firing. All firing ceased, the pickets on both sides crawled out of their holds, and got on top of their works and held a friendly conversation. Tobacco was exchanged for coffee, hardtack for a chunk of cornbread, and the enemies were having a friendly talk. It lasted for quite awhile. They looked like a lot of prairie dogs on top of their little mounds. Yank says, "Every man to his hole", and in about two seconds not a man could be seen, and the guns began to crack. That was the spirit of brave men.
July 9th the regiment was sent to guard the Department Headquarters. The boys called this a soft snap, but we were soon ordered to the front again and lost our soft snap.
On the 12th we moved to Sweet Water creek. 17th we moved toward Decatur, via Marrietta, Ga., crossing the Chattahoochia river at Rossville, arriving at Decatur on the 20th and moved across a large field between Decatur and Atlanta.
We had a not skirmish across this big field with the enemy, driving them into their works around Atlanta. By night we had driven them into their works on Bald hill and camped on a ridge among some brush and threw up small breast works.
July 21st we were up early, but no fires were allowed as we were in plain view of the enemy. We camped in line of battle and the first command was "Attention! Forward March". We crossed over our little breast works and moved down the hillside through the brush to a small ravine at the edge of a little field, halted and got the command to fix bayonets. When soldiers get the command to fix bayonets they know there is something going to be done. The enemy had a strong fortified position on top of the hill about a quarter of a mile west. Our Brigade was composed of the 12th and 16th Wisconsin, 20th, 30th, 31st and 45th Illinois. We charged two lines deep, received the command, "Charge Bayonets; forward double quick!"; raised the yell and sailed in. The bullets had been flying before we crossed our little breast works, but now they flew thicker.
About half was across the field, the Wisconsin regiments broke, being in front, we closed up to them and held our line intact, they rallied and went for the Johnnies and by quick work we routed the enemy and took their works. We had very few killed but a good many wounded.
The Wisconsin regiments had a good many half blood Indians in them, but were good soldiers.
Just as we took the works a hog came charging through our ranks, and meat being scarce, the boys would not stand for a Johnnie hog to be so hoggish as that, and Mr. Hog was soon hogged by the Yanks and fresh meat took the place of old sowbelly.
We went to work and reversed the works to face toward Atlanta, two or three miles due west. We tore down an old house on the hill and used it in making our works. The works north and sough and extended short distance into the woods to the south.
About one o'clock we could see the Confederates marching sough out of Atlanta, with their flags flying. Our officers were watching them through their glasses, and it was the opinion of all that they were evacuating. By one o'clock next day we found we were mistaken. Gen. Johnson had been in command for some time, and when Gen. Sherman began to close in on him he would evacuate. Jeff Davis became displeased with the retreating tactics, and removed Johnson, and appointed Gen. John B. Hood to the command.
July 22nd, 1864. This was a beautiful morning everything was quiet and nothing doing except the regular routine of camp duty. But as the saying is a calm before a storm.
The Confederates had thrown up some breast works about a quarter of a mile in our front. And Co. "C" was detailed to go out and occupy the works. After a little skirmishing the works were occupied. The day was clear and warm and everybody was enjoying a rest from the last two days skirmishing and fighting and did not realize that a desperate battle was to be fought that afternoon. We did not have any pickets out a mile or two, as is the custom, but had infantry pickets out a short distance, to the south east.
The flagbearer, Henry McDonald and myself, had gone out with the company in the morning on the skirmish line, and was in the works mentioned with the company.
About one o'clock p.m. when a few shots were heard in the rear, the tiring increased and the flag bearer went on the double quick to his post in the regiment with the flag.
Some of the boys had been out gathering black berries and discovered the rebel line of battle moving in our position. They were commanded to halt, but would not obey the enemies orders, and rushed into camp and raised the alarm. Orders were given to fall in, the boys were soon in line with their fighting traps on, ready to give them a warm reception. It was quite a surprise, but did not create any confusion.
We did not have long to wait, within fifteen minutes after the first gun was fired the battle was on in all its fury. It was give and take from start to finish. The Confederate charge was over the same ground we charged the day before.
At the first alarm Gen. McPherson having sent his staff officers to other parts of the field with orders, took his orderly and galloped to the front to examine the lines. He rode through a gap in our lines and right up in front of the Confederates. They ordered him to halt, he seeing his danger, quickly reined his horse to the rear to make his escape. Just then the enemy fired a volley and he fell from his horse, and was dead in a few minutes. His orderly escaped and reported his death.
General Logan took command of the army of the Tennessee. I think it was some Ohio troops that charged the enemy and drove them back and recovered his body. The news of his death soon spread through our ranks and it seemed like the boys were determined to avenge his death, for he was held in high esteem by officers and men. He was a West Pointer, a native of Ohio, a noble, brave, good officer. This was a critical time in the fight, but General Logan filling his place, gave the men all confidence as he was as well liked as McPherson.
The battle raged from that on, as Gen. Logan's presence on the field would enthuse all soldiers.
As I have said before, we say the Confederates marching out of Atlanta on the afternoon of the 21st. They had marched all that afternoon, all night and until one o'clock the 22nd, perhaps with a little rest before they attacked us in the rear.
With this long march and wide circuit they had gained our rear. Gen Hood saw from the start that if anything was done it must be done quickly. And finding no pickets out any distance in our rear, had formed his line of battle a mile or two in the rear, with the intention of taking us by surprise, and force the fighting to a finish. Charge after charge was made, they came thick and fast and fighting was fierce.
We changed to the other side of our works, and some of the killed fell in the ditch on the other side from us. They tried to take the flag from our color bearer, Henry McDonald, by force. But he had a carbine on his shoulder he had captured the day before and putting the flag under his left arm, and taking the carbide in his right hand and with one lick killed the reb and saved the flag.
During this part of the fighting a battery from Atlanta was firing at our line and the two lines were so close together the cannon balls went into the Confederate lines, killing their own men. They would dodge from these balls and the boys would holler at them not to dodge, that it was their own guns.
Col. Shed, of the 30th had put up a tent fly as a shelter from the sun, just in rear of the regiment. It was knocked down by the cannon balls from Atlanta. The first attack lasted about two hours, when other Confederates fell back. They saw in this first attack they had gotten too far to the rear. Then they moved south and formed a new line and charged from that direction.
Before making the charge they opened on us with grape and canister at close range, and the boys who have faced such know their terror. The bark from the saplings flew thick and fast. This fire was lengthwise of our works, and its a wonder they did not kill us all.
After shelling us quite a while a double line of infantry charged our lines. This being lengthwise of our works they were no protection to us. And in returning the fire there was danger of killing our own men.
This was a cool, daring, brave charge and well executed. It was in this charge our flag bearer, Henry McDonald, was killed. He was standing on top of the breats (sic) works, waving the flag. We lost our flag, but there was not enough of the boys left to defend it. The flag bearer was a brother of the writer, but I must say there never was a braver soldier ever marched under the start and stripes. Whenever there was an advance made on the enemy he was in front of the regiment, and his hat in one hand, and the flag in the other. He had holes shot in his clothes before, but never receivd (sic) a scratch before he was killed. He was a friend to everybody and everybody was his friend. He weighed over two hundred pounds, and was just the man for the place, as it takes a man of strength to carry the flag. I have a clipping from the National-Tribune, written by a member of the 78th Ohio, with whom we were brigaded before, and was there that day, he says: "Who is it that was in the 1st Brigade, 3rd division, 17th corps, that did not know that big color bearer of the 30th Ill., who was killed in that charge on Bald hill. The flag was captured by J. C. Leird, a member of Co. "A" 27th Tennessee Regiment. We regretted very much to lose our flag, but honor the man who went into that "death trap" to get it.
After the battle, J. C. Leird turned the flag over to Gen. Hardee. Gen. Hardee died thirty or forty years after the war, and his daughter in looking over his effects, found the flag, and it had a tag pinned to it, stating when, where and by whom it was captured. She set to work to find the captor and located him at Ripley, Tenn. Forty-six years after its capture, Mr. Leird came in possession of the flag and kept it nearly a year. The old battle-scarred flag was a silent messenger telling of the strenuous times a long ago. Mr. Leird thought the flag should be returned to Illinois and set about to accomplish his object. He corresponded with Col. Poilson of the same regiment at Chicago, Ill. Col. Poilson who was commander of Confederate post No. 8 Chicago. He corresponded with Columbia post G.A. R.. A search was made for some office or member of the 30th Ills., and Captain David, of Aledo, Ill. was located. Columbia Post corresponded with him and arrangements were made to have the flag transferred to the capital of Ills., November 29th. The Confederate Post met with Columbia Post G.A.R. Captain David met with the two posts, and Col. Poilson presented the flag to Columbia Post and Columbia post presented the flag to Captain David. Adjt. Dickson, Of Ills. , was also present and Captain David presented the flag to General Dickson, and he conveyed it to Springfield. It is in the museum now, where a place was prepared for all the flags. The 30th send heart felt thanks for the return of the flag.
At a reunion of the survivors of the 30th Illinois held at comrade John Adams;, Sept. 25, 1913, a committee of two was appointed, G.B. McDonald and James McAfee, (McAfee not serving on committee) to draw up a few lines thanking Mr. Leird for the return of the flag.
Committee's report: "Comrades your committee would respectfully report without hesitation that the capture of the flag of the 30th Illinois, at the battle of Atlanta, Ga., July 22, 1864, was as brave an act as was ever performed by a soldier of the Confederate army. It was not captured by any strategy, or sneaking up in a cowardly way, but in the open field by pure bravery, among the slaughtered ranks of both armies. The flag was carried by Henry McDonald, who had made a vow that he never would be taken prisoner. The flag bearer was killed, and the flag was captured, after repeated charges had been made. Mr. Leird was a mere boy then, as he is only 68 years old now, 48 years after the battle. We have no knowledge of Mr. Leird's services on other battle fields, but of his bravery in this battle he can be proud, and his comrades cannot accuse him of being a coward, as this committee was there and witnessed the death struggle for the victory. Your committee would further say that the return of the flag to the state of Illinois was the act of a brave, courageous, generous soldier, and the members of the 30th Illinois Regiment thank Mr. Leird from the very bottom of their hearts for its return. And as long as we live we will have the kindest soldierly feeling for him".
G.B. MCDONALD, Committee.
The Flag bearer is buried at Marietta, Ga., in a beautiful cemetery of thirty acres. Number interred there, 10,154. Number of flag bearer, 5,875.
Color bearer of the 30th Ills., V. V. Infty., who fell in hand to hand engagement at the Battle of Atlanta, Ga., July 22nd, 1864.
Poem by Miss Ann, sister of Joseph Steele, of Sparta
Brave Henry with his comrades true,
Did rush at duty's call,
To breast rebellion's fearful storm,
To conquer or to fall.
He bravely joined the gallant band,
He scorned the thought of fear,
And nobly did he do his part,
This gallant volunteer.
Brave Henry had a noble heart,
He feared not the battle cry,
He proudly bore in mind the thought,
We'll conquer, or we'll die.
For near three years brave Henry went,
At his Commander's call,
For three more years he did enlist,
Yet Henry had to fall.
Ah! He had seen the battle rage,
With fury of the brave,
And, in vigor of youth and age,
Was rushed into the grave.
His zealous soul at battle's cry,
Did neither fear not falter,
He freely sacrificed his lift,
Upon his country's alter.
Brave Henry in the battle fell,
While in his hands he bore,
The emblem of his country dear,
Though stained with battle gore.
So nobly did he bear our flag,
His comrades all did say,
Never was brave Henry known,
To falter in a fray.
Brave Henry to his God has gone,
Forever to be blessed,
His friends will mourn their heavy loss
But sweet is Henry's rest.
Here fell a husband, father, son,
Yet stained not in his honor,
For liberty and Union died,
Brave Henry McDonald.
It tires men's souls to meet in battle array,
When steel meets steel in the hands of the blue and gray,
The gray goes to battle for the Confederacy
The blue goes to battle for the land of the free.
Now old comrades of the Confederacy
It matters not what our opinions might be
We extend to you the soldierly hand of fraternity
From Illinois to Tennessee.
And now to the comrades of the blue and the gray,
What more can we think or say,
We now leave the matter with you,
But, honor to whom honor is due.
G. B. McDonald
BACK TO THE FIGHT
The few that were not killed or captured fell back about two hundred yards where some breast works had been hastily thrown up and occupied by other troops. Here we stopped the advance of the enemy. The rebs advanced their line of battle to within a few rods of our works and the fight raged until dark, and kept up a good deal of musketry firing all night.
Toward morning the Confederates fell back about a quarter of a mile and threw up breast works. At break of day everybody was straining their eyes to see where the Johnnies were, and wondering if there was another day fighting in store for us. But it seemed like the enemy had concluded that the Yanks were pretty good scrappers, and had come to stay. The rebs played treachery here. They would hoist a white flag, then raise the yell, and of course, we would get up above our works to see what was up, and they would fire at us. But their shots went wild and no one was hurt.
At the break of day, Lt. Col., Rhoads, of the 30th walked out a short distance from the works, and discovered a reb lying behind a stump, and advancing a little closer found he was not dead, but asleep. He drew his revolver and leveled it on him and gave him a kick. The Johnnie jumped for his gun but the Col. had the drop on him, and he yielded to his command to surrender and he marched him into camp.
A little to the rear of the works, running north and south, a piece of works had been thrown up long enough for a company to lie behind to support a battery. The rebs occupied it and stuck a flag on top of the works, and the boys took many a shot at it.
The next morning there was a number of dead lying behind it, and a bloody sword lying on top of the works. The ground was strewn with broken guns, knapsacks, dead Federals and Confederates mixed. We had become used to such scenes, but it seems to me now a look at such slaughter would paralyze the stoutest heart. But such is war. A man in Co. "F" by the name of Joe Fears had eighteen bullet holes in him.
The dead lay between the two lines and we exchanged man for man until we got all of ours. There were laid in rows on top of the hill, such a sight. The writer and some of the other boys carried the flag bearer back and buried him on the hill. We buried with him, in the same grave, a little Irishman by the name of Mike Flynn. The writer was the only one left that had a pipe, it was a very small one, and all the smokers used it.
A flag of truce was arranged for burying the dead, and regular details were made for the work.
Gen. Legget, an old Quaker, commanded our division, and Gen. Force our brigade. They were from Ohio, splendid officers, and both were wounded. Decatur is 2 or 3 miles north east of Atlanta, and a large force of cavalry captured it and a number of our boys, and teams that were parked there. Quite a number of our men were taken prisoners and all taken to Andersonville stockade prison.
About two months after the battle of the 22nd of July, arrangements were made for exchanging of prisoners, and most of the boys that were taken at the battle of Atlanta were brought back and exchanged. All that were not exchanged then spent the rest of their time in Andersonville and other southern prisons. Jno. Leiner, Co. E., was taken prisoner, and as he was marched back one of the guards took his hat and he went to Andersonville bareheaded, and July was hot. After being in prison awhile a comrade died and he got his hat.
In exchanging prisoners, they were brought up close to the line at Rough and Ready station, and a man was called from one side, then a man from the other side, they they (sic) stepped across the line. John Adams, of Co. "E" was the first man called from the Union prisoners. He says it was the proudest day of his life.
Steve (Put) Fist, of Co. "E" was taken prisoner, and as they were marched back through the woods after dark he disguised himself by pulling off his jacket and turning it wrong side out, and gave the guard the dodge, and hid in a brush pile for awhile, then made his way back and came into our lines that night. He had to come back through the enemy's lines, and jumped over the works into our ranks. There was a port hole in the works at this place and the enemy was shooting through it and killing some of our men. Adj., Poak, of the 30th was talking with some of the boys about setting a barrel in the hole and filling it with dirt, when Fisk came over. The Adjt. thought he was a reb and grabbed him. Fish thought he had got into the wrong pew and tried hard to get away, but the Adjt., was the better man and subdued his prisoner, then found that he belonged to the 30th.
This escape took some nerve as he was between the two fires in coming back. Fisk is now living at Galena, Illinois.
Our knapsacks were piled up in rear of our company when the fight came on, and in falling back we left them, and the rebs had cut them open, and such a mess.
There was a Lt. Col., of an Iowa regiment who had been wounded in the first part of the fight, and he had got into our company in the latter part of the battle. He had no coat or hat. There was a little rick of dead brush in the rear of our works, back fifty or seventy-five yards, toward where we made the last stand. We found him the next morning dead, lying on his face on these brush, and his boots pulled off. The Confederate loss was 8000 and the Federal loss was 3722.
The writer visited the battle ground in 1895 and found housed on the very spot where the hardest fighting was done. Some of the timber had been but off and grown up in brush again, but I could locate every position. The boys will remember the old house on the hill that we tore down on the 21st and used in making our breast works. There is a two story brick residence on that spot. Gen. McPherson was killed a short distance in the rear of the 30th regt. There is a 64 pound cannon standing on end, with an iron fence around it to mark the place where he fell. It is the only monument on the battle field.
The reader can imagine to some extent, my thoughts and feeings (sic) in looking over that field where so many of the "boys went down" and wondering "where are they living today". And I could almost hear the cannon roar, and see the two armies surging back and forth contending for the victory. I also visited Grant Park in Fort Walker, and saw a painting 50x400 feet, representing the battle of the 22nd. On entering the building I received a pamphlet giving instructions where to locate the positions of the two armies. I am quoting from the pamphlet as follows: "Gen. Hood was in command of the Confederate army, composing 42,000 men of the worst equipped and poorest fed armies the world ever saw, pitted against an army of 104,000 men of the best equipped, best fed armies the world ever say, commanded by Gen. Sherman. The battle lasted all day and 15,000 were killed, wounded and captured. When night closed in on the bloody scene, the two armies occupied about the same position they did when they began fighting in the morning."
Not correct Confederates. It is astonishing how anybody can stand up in the face of facts and misrepresent the battle in such a manner. Does he think that it will never come to the eyes of some one that knows the facts in the case. The man that wrote that either know he was lieing (sic), or did not know what he was talking about.
As I have stated in the beginning, the fight started about 1 o'clock p.m. As for numbers I suppose the Confederates had what they claimed to have, but General Sherman did not have 104,000 men around Atlanta, and it was the small part of his army that did the fighting that day. A short time before the battle the number of men in the 17th Corps able for duty was about 24,000, but the 17th Corps did not do all the fighting that day, and at the close of the battle the Yanks were still there, but the Confederates had withdrawn to the south and thrown up breastworks. But the fightitng (sic) qualities of the Johnnies were not to be questioned, for they were Americans, and when Greek meets Greek then comes the tug of war. It seems like somebody made a great mistake leaving us out in that exposed position. There was plenty of time after the first part of the fight to have moved up back to the works on the hill. It was in the last part of the fight we suffered the most. It was talked about after the battle, and the boys speak of it yet; that we were to be sacrificed.
But the greatest wonder of all, is, why Hood did not crush us in the first attack. They had a double line and the men were filled with whiskey and we had a thin line, and not one piece of artillery near our position.
While facing Atlanta, the 30th was the extreme treme (sic) left, but on facing about we were the extreme right, and there is where the force of the battle came from. But we did not know what it was to be liked by the Johnnies, and it was the dogged, stubborn, individual fighting on the part of every man that saved the day. Very few commands were given. The fighting was fierce from start to finish. And without any prejudice or feeling in the matter, I have given a true account of the battle as I saw it.
As I have stated before, the Confederates fell back to the south on the night of the 22nd and the Union forces still hold their position on the battle ground. Pickets were thrown out to within two or three hundred yards of each other. The two armies held these positions until the latter part of August.
The Confederates advanced their pickets to with in a short distance of the Union pickets, and orders were given not to fire on the rebel pickets, so as to not bring on an engagement.
Gen. Sherman had determined to move his army to the west of Atlanta and cut the West Point and Macon R. R., which entered Atlanta from the southwest.
On the night of the 25th the rebel pickets were advanced to within a few rods of the Union pickets. The boys saw a reb light his pipe, and they were so close they could have shot him in the eye. But orders were not to fire.
That night about 9 or 10 o'clock, our forces were withdrawn from the battle field of the 22nd and by a forced march moved to the extreme right, camping near Sandtown, 10 miles west of Atlanta.
August 26th about noon, we had been chasing the rebs, we halted in the road. 1st Lt. M.E. Foster of Co. "E" was acting Adjt., of the Regiment. He was sitting on his horse in the road when the rebs fired one shot from the battery. The ball lost its balance and in such cases they always fall short. As it fell it struck Lt. Foster on the left arm above the elbow. It shattered his arm and bent his sword so it could not be gotten out of the scabbard, and the ball fell on the ground beside his horse. The horse started to run and the shattered arm was dangling at his side, and blood was steaming from the wound. The boys rushed
in and lifted him from the saddle. The writer took a leather strap from around his blanket, put it around his arm, tied one knot in it, and pulled until the blood stopped. The knot was made secure and we carried him back a little way to an old church in the woods. Four doctors were present in amputating his arm. One chloroformed one held the artery to keep it from bleeding, one did the cutting, and one looked on. The writer held the arm while it was being cut off, and buried it a short distance to the north west of the old church. The ball that took Lt. Foster's arm off was the only one fired at us at that place.
The railroad bridge across the Chattahootchie river was about north of Atlanta; and not a great way from where the troops were assembled. Fifteen days rations was provided for this campaign.
August 28th, Sherman moved his forces south and cut the West Point R. R., which run to the south west from Atanta (sic).
General Hood had discovered Sherman's move and threw his troops into Jonesboro and East Point and there was some pretty hard fighting to capture these places. Atlanta was evacuated about August 30th.
We camped at East Point September 6th. We made two big flank movements on this campaign. One from Brushy Mountain, east of Kennesaw Mountain to the extreme right of Sherman's army, west of Kennesaw Mountain, and one from the battle field of the 22nd of July, to the extreme right of Sherman's army west of Atlanta, 20 or 25 miles in each case.
The movements were made at night and the boys had lost lots of sleep, and whenever a halt was made the boys would drop down, and with their knapsack for a pillow, would be asleep by the time they would strike the ground. Each company kept a good trusty man at the rear to wake the boys up when a move was made.
The boys would get so vexed and worn out on these night movements. They would call General Sherman, "Old Billy Sherman" and sometimes, "old crazy Billy". But we got there all the same. Gen. Sherman was about a six footer, sandy complexion, his nose slanted a little to the right side, and he was not very good looking.
October 4th we moved northward in pursuit of General Hood, via Kenesaw Mountain to Resaca. During this little campaign, Lt. Col. Rhoads, of the 30th was in command of the U.S. forces at Adairsville, Cass county, Ga., and a young man made application for a marriage license. Supposing, of course that the army had control of civil, as well as military affairs. Col. Rhoads instructed his Adgt., to comply with his request, and he gave the applicant authority to get married. The reader will notice this document on the spur of the moment was written by a smooth chap.
Headquarters, U.S. forces, Adairsville, Cass, county, Gs., November 2nd, 1864. Know all men by these presents, that by virtue of the authority vested in my, as commander of the U. S. forces at this Post, and agent of Father Abraham, to administer to all Union loving people in this rebellious vicinity, authority is hereby granted to any licensed ordained minister of the Gospel, in this county to unite in solemn marriage, bind in hold wedlock, G. K. Walker and Caroline Campbell, true Union loving citizens of Cass Co., Ga., to be and to remain to each other, man and wife, loving and cherishing each other and multiplying and replenishing the earth, until further orders.
W.C. RHOADS, Lt Col. 30th, Ills., commanding.
I copied this from the original copy while we lay at Raleigh, N.C. I failed to take the Adgts., name. I doubt if the original copy is in existence now.
The troops returned from Resaca to Smyrney camp ground, via Galesville, Ala., arriving November 5th. When we were on these campaigns and chanced to remain in camp a few days, the women living near camp would come in with pies to sell. The first thing the boys would want to know if the pies were pegged or soad? They would say, "What you all mean by that?", "Well if they have any shortening in, they were pegged, and if no shortening in, they were the soad". But what could the poor women do with nothing to make pies out of, and poor hands to make them. But all the same, 25c apiece was the price. They all dipped snuff and chewed tobacco, and before they would leave camp, they would want to know "if you'se all got any backer about your britches". Sometimes the boys would get into an argument about the war. They would claim the reason "you'ans all whipped we'and all. Mr. Sherman jist took'em anyways". Almost all of the darkeys were awfully frightened when the bullets commenced zipping around.
While lounging around camp it was amusing to hear them tell of their fears and actions in time of battle. Sometimes they would be sent off some distance with a lot of canteens for water. Before they would get back the fight would be on, and one bullet within fifty feet of a darkey would make him turn white. Then such running. Would say, "God from Heaven, massa, you'ans all ought to see dis nigger gwine". Then our canteens just stood out behind, but the boys got no water. They would hunt for a hiding place, behind a hill, or big tree, or in a hole. The cannon balls made a hissing noise, and the darkeys interpreted it as saying: "where is ye, where is ye". Pretty well done, but very laughable.
November 13th we moved to Atlanta. The 15th we moved with General Sherman's army on the march to the sea.
Each corps had a badge. The 17th Corps badge was the arrow. Each Brigade had a different color, our Brigade was the white. The other brigades were red and blue. Second Corps, Clover Leaf; Third Corps, Diamond; Fourth Corps, Triangle; Sixth, Cross in Cross; Seventh, Double Half Noon with Star; Eight, Star in Star six pointed; Ninth, Shield with Anchor and Cannon; Tenth, Full Moon; Twelvth, Star in Star five pointed; Eleventh, Half Moon; Fourteenth, Acorn; Fifteenth, Cartridge box with 40 rounds; 23rd, Shield; 24th, Heart in Heart; Other Corps badges I am not able to describe.
The pioneer Corps of each Corps would mark the trees with their axes to show what corps had just passed along that road.
The Johny pickets would guy or pickets and tell tem they were coming over to pick acorns, as that was the badge of the 14th Crops. These badges were all marked on the wagon covers, when we had any. It was very important that our ammunition be kept dry, but it did not matter about keeping our grub dry. Cracker boxes were made a good deal like orange boxes, and when it rained, of course, they would get some wet, and the blue mold would stick out at the cracks, making them look very palatable to a sick Yank. Boys, you remember we used to make some fine gumbo out of that kind of hard tack. When we laid at Cairo, the writer drew some hard tack that had pig tracks on them. It did not matter if our sow sides did get wet for you know grease and water won't mix. They were mostly grease.
We boys thought it strange that the hogs they killed those days were all sides, for it seemed to us there were no hams or shoulders, as there was never any issued to us. But you know boys those moldy hard tack and sow sides with that desicated soup was just fine. The only trouble was we didn't get enough of it. We were getting our board and $13.00 per month. Then that good old blue jerk.
The reader will say, what is blue jerk? I will tell you. We often had cattle driven along with the army, and herded when we went into camp, and with very little to eat they got very poor, and when they laid down they could not get up. When we wanted beef they had to be helped up before they were killed. That was blue jerk.
The Southern people accused General Sherman of burning a good many of their towns. Towns were not burned by General Sherman's orders, or by his permission, but perhaps he did not put forth much effort to keep them from being burned. It was Sherman's bummers that did the burning. The bummers were men that got out of the ranks and went ahead of the army. They cleared the way and when they came to a town they would open the fight and take the place before Sherman's army came up. Then there would be some burning done. They were regular dare devils.
While we lay at Louisville, Ky., waiting to be mustered out of the service, one of these bummers, styling himself as the leader, issued his farewell address to Sherman's bummers, and signed his name F.O. Rage, chief of bummers. It was published in the Louisville papers. I saved the piece, but have lost it. I will give a silver dollar for it.
It was this campaign that Sherman's famous saying, "War is Hell", originated. It came in this way. As Sherman's army was nearing a town, the mayor and some leading citizens came out to meet him and requested him not to march through their town, Sherman replied, "War is Hell, prepare for my coming". The main roads lead through the towns and it was impossible to go around.
Sherman was a good general, but a little careless with fire. This march to the sea was for the purpose of destroying mills and such things as would tend to support the Confederate army. A great many things were done that were not necessary, but that is always the case with a big army. And the innocent had to suffer. But don't forget Sherman's saying.
Regular details of two from each company were made for the purpose of getting grub from the country for the army. Johny Leiner of Co. "E" and Henry Wilson and John Jenson, of Co. "C" were sent out with the foragers and when they start out each man secures a mount of some kind and a team and wagon to haul the grub in.
They got a team and a big old family carriage and had it loaded with flour, meal, hams, bacon, butter, chickens, honey, and how the sweet potatoes even started from the ground, while we were marching through Georgia. They came to a little river that had a bridge partly torn up. Wishing to visit a little town on the other side, called Bakers Post office, they fixed the bridge and went over to get what they could, leaving their load on the other side. Of course, they always put out a guard to watch for the enemy.
While they were nosing around the rebs made a dash on them. Every man to his horse and made a run for the other side of the river. John Jenson was riding a blind horse and it fell down, and in a few seconds a gun shot was heard and Jenson was killed, as he was never seen afterward. Another man's horse was shot, but the rider escaped on foot. In their haste to get away from the pursuing enemy they left their carriage load of good things to eat for the Johnnies.
But the foragers were not to be defeated in their purpose of securing something for the hungry sore footed boys to eat when they returned to the regiment. They captured a cart and a yoke of oxen and loaded it with good things to eat and joined the regiment at Savannah.
There were four corps on the march to the sea. The 15th Corps was on the right, commanded by General Austerhous (sic), 17th was in right center, commanded by General Blair, 14th left center, commanded by General Jeff C. Davis, 20th left wing, commanded by General Slocum. These Corps marched on different roads and kept within striking distance of each other and concentrated at Savannah, on the Savannah river. We passed through Millen, one of the prisons where our boys were being kept, and marched over a fine shell road about sixty miles long before reaching Savannah. Our troops stormed Fort McCallister, about seven miles from Savannah
It was several days after Savannah was invested before it surrendered on December 21st, 1864. The ground around Savannah is low and the ditches around the fort was flooded with water, in preparing to assault the works ladders were made for crossing the ditches. Volunteers were called for to carry the ladders. The call was soon filled and others turned away. The unpleasant task of taking the place by assault was not needed, as the rebs had evacuated the works.
The low ground of that section makes rice culture profitable and a great deal of it is raised. Rice and fresh beef were the principle rations. Many of the boys got so turned against rice that it was a long time after the war before they could eat the stuff. The martins we have here are very numerous there, and they are called rice birds, as they live on rice. There was colored people there different from the other colored people we had seen. There talk was hard to understand. They were of small stature and the boys called them "Guinea niggers"
We left Savannah by boat January4, 1865 and landed at Beaufort, South Carolina the 5th, left Beaufort the 13th and marched about 8 miles. The 14th we drove the rebs all day, had some skirmishing and dre wour (sic) lines around Pocotaglio; participated in the capture of the place on the 15th. We remained at Pocotaglio until the 30th of January. On February 11th we camped near Columbia, S.C., 15th we crossed the Broad river, 17th took Columbia.
It is a large place, the capital of South Carolina. February 18th we marched through Columbia. It was nearly all burned. A wonderful destruction of property. But keep in mind Sherman's saying.
It was South Carolina that first seceded, and I guess the boys thought they would teach her lesson. Will Bitts of Co. "A" came into Columbia is a grand carriage drawn by a span of mules, himself dressed in a Confederate officers uniform, with a silk hat and smoking a cigar, the carriage being driven by a finely dressed darkey. The carriage was loaded down with chickens, hams, and other eatables. He drove through the streets of the city, with houses burning on each side. This incident was furnished by A. E. Sample, of Co. "A" and Fife Major of the regiment, now living at Lyons, Kansas. We tore up some railroad today.
February 19th we tore up railroad and skirmished with the enemy. 20th we marched about 10 miles and went into camp. 21st we marched about 17 miles and tore up railroad. 22nd we marched through Wainsboro, roads were fine. 23rd we crossed the Wateree river and lay out in the rain all night. The 24th we marched 16 miles, rained all day, very hilly and poor country. Nothing to eat but what we foraged out of the country.
We passed through Liberty Hill. 25th we marched 10 miles, rained all day. Did not have anything for supper but peas, and they were full of bugs. 26th we had nothing for breakfast but peas and bugs. We marched about 12 miles, roads very bad. 27th marched 16 miles, roads bad, poor country. February 28th, marched 20 miles, nothing to eat. March 1st, 1865. Lay in camp all day. March 2nd, in camp all day.
A reb was shot here in retaliation for the killing of our foragers. They would kill our foragers and pin a piece of paper on their uniforms with this notice: "Death to all Foragers". General Sherman issued an order which was sent to the Confederate commander that he would take life for life. It was not very long until a member of Co. "H" of our regiment by the name of Woodrough was found dead.
We had a lot of prisoners in the corrall and arrangements were made for them to cast lots to determine who should be taken. Slips of paper were put in a hat and a drawing was conducted by an officer appointed for that purpose. One slip of paper had a black mark on it, and the man drawing it was to be shot. The slips of paper were put in a hat and held up so the men could not see it.
A man by the name of Small drew the slip with the black mark on it. He drew two, and was told to drop one back. He kept the one that was his death warrant. A detail of twelve men was made from the dead man's company to do the shooting. They were furnished guns loaded for the occasion, six with blank and six with ball. The man was given in charge of Chaplain Cole of the 31 regiment. He talked and prayed with the man, and brought him to the place of execution and asked him if he had anything to say. He said: "I was forced into the army, never was in a battle, never wished the Yankees any harm. I have a large family, all girls. I have been a local Methodist preacher". His home was about 40 miles from there. There was much feeling for the man, and tears were shed. The firing squad had taken their places, and after the man made his talk the Chaplain blindfolded him and placed him against a tree where he was to be shot. The man requested that he be allowed to lean against the tree without being tied. The request was granted. Major Rhoads, ex Captain of Co. "H", commanded firing squad, and cautioned the men to take good aim so the man would not suffer from a wound. At the command of "Fire!", the guns all cracked at once. The man stiffened and quivered a little, and fell dead. Five balls struck the body and one in the thigh. Co. "A" of the 30th, commanded by Capt. Candor was detailed to take charge of the grounds and see that the execution was properly conducted. The man of Co. "H" that was killed, was not well thought of and many regrets were heard that a good man was killed for him, but that put a stop to the kiling (sic) of our foragers. Still bear in mind Sherman's saying.
When Maj. Rhoads received the order to execute the man he refused to obey. Gen. Sherman told him he would obey the order or be courtmarshaled. Maj. Rhoads was a good man and a good officer, and this act bore on his mind as long as he lived. He was made Lt. Col., and brevetted Colonel. He died at Maysville, Mo., in '93 or '94. The man was buried where he was killed, and board was put at the head of his grave, on which was written how he came to his death. Soldiers become hardened to seeing men killed, but a scene like the killing of this man will be on their minds as long as they live. This execution toop (sic) place near Cherew, S. C. In 1912 the writer met Chaplian Cole at the reunion in DuQuoin and in talking about the execution of the man he said it was the saddest day in his life. He said he went into his tent and cried and begged to be excused from witnessing the execution. Chaplain Cole has died since. He was a Baptist minister, a noble, good man, and always at his post.
March 3rd took possession of Cheraw. Had a little skirmish with the Rebs. Marched 12 miles. March 4, camped near Cheraw. Had a little more to eat. March 5, crossed the Pee Dee river. Marched until 12 o'clock at night. March 6, passed through Bentonville, S. C. Nice little town. Got plenty of forage. Living like kings. March 7, marched about 12 miles; did not see any Rebs. Camped near the line between North and South Carolina. March 8 passed through Flora College; marched 16 miles; it rained all day. First camped in N. C.; 9th it rained all day, marched 13 miles; 10th rained part of the day marched 15 miles, roads very bad; 11th to 14th in camp.
March 15th it rained all day and we got into camp at one o'clock in the morning. 16th we did not move until dark, and marched all night, stopped and ate some mush. 17 we marched 30 miles and got into camp at 10 o'clock at night. 18th we marched 13 miles, roads very bad. 19th some heavy fighting. 20th we were in the rear with the wagon train. 21st marched 6 miles. Been train guard two days. Got into camp at 2 o'clock in the morning.
Lt. Col. Rhoades got his leg broke here by the kick of a horse. Col. Rhoads thought lots of his boys, and a bed was made for him in an ambulance and he stayed with the regiment.
March 22nd a
struck the Wilmington, and Welington R.R., passed through Dudley and Everetville stations. We camped near the Neuce river.
March 23rd, 1865, a report in camp, or as the boys sometimes say, "Got a grapevine dispatch" that the rebs had left our front and gone to Raleigh.
March 24th we spent in camp and on the 25th we got orders to meet our train and go to Kingston for rations. We marched 20 miles from 1 o'clock to 10 o'clock at night. Then we had orders to join our brigade, and marched 6 or 8 miles more. We passed through Goldsboro, a small town, and March 26 we camped near Goldsboro.
March 27th we moved camp three miles on the White Hall road. 28th we lay in camp all day. On the 29th we got orders to go to Kingston for rations. We rode in wagons 22 miles. March 30th, lying in camp. March 31 Companies "A", "B" and "C" returned from Kingston. April 1st, all quiet, 2nd in camp; 3rd the balance of the regiment returned; 4th, all quiet; 5th in camp; 6th received the news that Richmond was taken, and the rebs were retreating toward Danville. 7th in camp. Organized all the musicians in the brigade and practiced for review. 8th we had camp inspection at 9 o'clock and grand review at 2 o'clock. Reviewed by Gens., Legget, Blair and Force. 9th we got orders to move the next day. 10th we moved out at 6 o'clock, took the read leading to Raleigh. We waded through some swamps and camped at dark close to a mill. 11th we moved at 6 o'clock and marched until 4 o'clock and camped about a mile from Pine Level.
We got orders about sundown to strike tents and marched across a swamp and camped at General Howard's headquarters at Pine Level. The country was level and swampy. We marched through the brush, and the teams on the raod (sic).
April 12th we moved out a 6 o'clock and turned to the right and crossed the Railroad at Smithland depot and marched until 4 o'clock and camped at General Howard's headquarters. We received the news here that General Lee had surrendeder (sic) to Gen. Grant. We marched 20 miles. 13th we lay in camp until 4 o'clock waiting for our Brigade, moved and marched until 8 o'clock and camped by the side of the road, marched 6 miles.
On the morning of April 14th, the news of Lee's surender (sic) was read to us. All of the musicians in the brigade were ordered to the head of the column. We crossed the Neuce river on the pontoon bridge, and marched to Raliegh, the capital of North Carolina, passed through the town in review, and marched out two miles and camped.
The women and children filled the doors and windows, watching the Yanks, and al (sic) seemed amazed at the dirty, ragged Lincoln hirlings coming into their town without being invited.
This army marched to the sea and back on starvation rations, through brush, briars, water and mud and now on review in the city of Raleigh, lots of them barefooted, uniforms worn and torn to shreds, pants frayed off almost to the knee. Some with caps, some with hats, picked up on the way, and of all colors. Some looked like Yanks, some like Johnnies, it was a mottled crowd, and the colors resembled Jacobs coat, but not so bright.
But such marching, company front, the line and cadence was perfect. These were the Yanks the women and children were gazing at. And talk about seasoned soldiers, the world never saw better; march fight, build bridges, wade swamps, lay out all night in the mud and rain. All of good courage, we would sit around the camp fire with nothing to eat but peas and bugs, and talk about the good things to eat that mama would cook when we got back to God's country. This army was a sight when they came out of the jungles of South Carolina and marched into Goldsboro, North Carolina.
They had all kinds of mounts, and all kinds of pets. Coons on the horse behind the rider, and all kinds of chickens, and roosters crowing riding into camp, and a sore-footed Yank on an old mule with a fiddle under his arm. All were happy marching out of Dixie.
April 15th we moved out at 6 o'clock and marched one mile and halted, and got orders to go into camp. We received the word here that General Johnson had surrendered. There was a big rain, and everybody was soaking wet, but in a good humor over the news of Johnson's surrender. April 16, 1865 every thing was quiet except rumors in camp that Johnson had not surrendered yet. 17th, Johnson not surrendered yet.
On the evening of the 17th we received the news that President Lincoln had been assassinated. Big excitement, feeling running high against the rebs, and if any more fighting is to be done, take no prisoners in the cry. The fighting at this stage of feeling would be desperate.
We moved camp about one mile toward town. 19th we fixed up camp, and 20th, 21st and 22nd we stayed in camp, and on the 23rd we had Brigade review; 24th we had Grand review and marched in review on Main street, past the capital. Reviewed by Gens. Grant, Sherman, Logan, Legget, Blair and others. On the 25th we moved out at 6 o'clock and marched along the Railroad leading west about 8 miles and camped in the woods. 26th were in camp all day. 27th, it was reported that Johnson had surrendered, the day before, everything in North and Sough Carolina and Georgia. We moved back to our old camp near Raleigh. 28th in camp; 29th moved out at 7 o'clock and marched about 15 miles, crossed the Neuce river, and went into camp at six o'clock.
We spent April 30th in camp, and May 1st we moved at six o'clock and marched through Forestville and Wakefield College, crossed Tar river, and went into camp, marched 198 miles. 2nd we moved at 5 o'clock, marched 24 miles and camped at Mandon Junction. May 3rd we moved a 5 o'clock, passed Ridgeway station, Warington station and camped near Roanoak river, marched 24 miles. On the 4th we stayed incamp (sic); 5th we move at 5 o'clock, crossed the Roanoak river at 8 o'clock at Robison's Ferry. This was the longest pontoon bridge we had crossed. The river was up and it looked squally. We had to take the rout step. The bridge swayed from side to side, and up and down. We crossed the line into Virginia about one mile and a half from the river. Crossed Herron river about 3 o'clock, and camped in a field. We had marched 15 miles. May 6th we moved at 6 o'clock, and halted at noon for a little rest. We moved at 2 o'clock and crossed a natural bridge, the first I ever saw, and camped at dark. Marched 20 miles.
The reader will see we are making good time on this march. But there is no enemy to look for, roads are good and we reach out. 20 miles is a big day's march for a large army. Some of the readers will like to know how a pontoon bridge is made.
A skeleton boat is made of strong wood, well put together, flat bottom and covered with strong canvas, made for that purpose. The canvas is put around the skeleton boat and they are anchored in the river as far apart as necessary and streamers are laid from boat to boat across the river. Then looser planks are laid on the streamers. The bridge is anchored to the shore at each end. The bridge is made. When the bridge is full of men, wagons and artillery, the swaying of the bridge is fierce. When all is across the bridge is taken up, and way we go to another river. This is a Yankee trick.
On May 7th we moved out at 6 o'clock, passed through some of the breast works of the Eastern army where some of the fighting was done in 1865. Passed Dinwiddy court house. Camped within six miles of Petersburg. May 8th we marched a t 6 o'clock through Petersburg, marched 15 miles and camped. 9th we moved at 6 o'clock, passed through some strong works, camped within three miles of Richmond, Va. May 10th and 11th we spent in camp. 12th, we moved at 5 o'clock and marched through Manchester crossed the Potomac river, and into Richmond. Passed Castle Thunder and Libby prison, also the State house and Washington's monument. Marched 20 miles. May 13th we moved at 5 o'clock, crossed the Chickahominy river, and passed Hanover Court house, marched to the Pa-Munkey river and camped
May 14th we moved at 6 o'clock and crossed the Pa-Munkey river, passed Concord church, marched 24 miles.
May 15th we marched at 6 0'clock, crossed the Mink Creek and camped on Po river, marched 20 miles. 16th marched at 6 o'clock, crossed the Po river, passed through Fredricksburg, crossed the Rappahamock (sic), camped at 5 o'clock, marched 20 miles. 17th we moved at 4 o'clock, marched 25 miles. 18th, crossed Aquia creek, marched 12 miles. 19th marched to the Railroad and camped 4 miles from Alexandria. 20th, in camp all day. Col. Shed got back to the regiment today. He had been a prisoner ever since the battle of Atlanta, Ga., July 22nd, 1864. May 21st in camp. 22nd in camp. 23rd, moved at 7 o'clock, marched through Alexandria and camped within two miles of Washington, D.C.
Monday, May 24th, we marched at 6 o'clock, crossed a long bridge, and into the city, halted and waited for the time appointed for the grand review at 9 0'clock. The signal gun fired on time and we moved forward. Every door and window, and the streets were crowded with people of all colors and sizes. We were reviewed by President Johnson, Gens. Grant, Sherman, Mead, Hancock, Burnsides, E.M. Stanton, foreign ministers and others.
The city was gorgeously decorated this morning, on account of Lincoln's death and the reviewing stand was beyond description. The streets were jammed with people from one end to the other. All of the musicians of the brigade were consolidated and composed a band of thirty-two snare drums; 17 fifers, and 4 bass drums, one bugle, and a pair of cymbals. The writer was in command of the band.
The reader can imagine what a racket 32 sheep skin fiddlers would make parading the street with high buildings on either side. Not only racket, but music. Seventeen fifers all playing together and the base drums chiming in like cannon with musketry. We were selected to take the position in front of the reviewing stand and render honors when the colors approached the reviewing stand. This is done by giving three riffels, rolls or cheers on the drums, fifes sounding notes in harmony with three drums and the bass giving the time at the end of each roll or cheer. This was quite an honor in an army of one hundred and fifty or two hundred thousand troops. The band stood in that position and rendered honors to the flag until that vast army marched by. Cheer after cheer rent the air as the old tattered flags approached the reviewing stand. A review is always with fixed bayonets. It was a long stretch down Pennsylvania Avenue, and the troops marching in company front, and a look down that street, you could see nothing but a mass of men and bayonets glittering in the sunlight: The line and cadence was perfect.
The boys sunburnt, weatherbeaten, ragged and tough, they almost shook the earth as they marched. What a sight, glorious to behold. Some of the flag staffs only had a few strings hanging to them. The flags had been worn out by the wind and the brush. The good ladies lined the streets with buckets of water, sandwiches, flowers and a word of good cheer for the boys. It looked like we had gotten back to God's country, and also looked like patriotism, compared to some of the towns we had passed through in Dixie.
The parade started at 9 o'clock and about 3 o'clock in the afternoon the troops had passed review and the band wheeled into line and brought up the rear. This was as grand a parade as the world ever saw., and by troops that were never excelled in discipline, fighting qualities and endurance.
This was the beginning of the end for Grant's and Sherman's grand army. After four years of hardships, of marching and fighting, here we separated never to meet again under arms. This parade was on the 24th day of May, 1865. This history was written in the winter of 1915-16. Fifty years have passed and quite a number of that grand army is still living, but they will soon pass away and be a thing of the past. Will they be forgotten? The people and Nations are ungrateful.
We marched out 3 or 4 miles and camped near Fort Russel. Thursday, May 25th, 1865 to May 29th in camp; May 30th to 31st in camp; June 1st, 1865 to 5th in camp.
During all this time in camp we had the privilege of going into the city and seeing the sights. All of the public buildings were thrown open to the soldiers. We visited the Capitol, White House, Patent Office, and other places of interest.
June 6th we received orders to be ready to move at 4 o'clock in the morning. 7th Reveille was to be at 2 o'clock, we moved out at four and marched down through Washington to the depot near the Capitol, and entrained on the B. & M. R. R. June 8th, we got to Columbus, Ohio, this morning at 7 o'clock. Got some coffee and meat for breakfast, and got into Virginia at 12 o'clock. 9th, got to Parkersburg, Va., at 10 o'clock. Here we detrained and went into camp. Have orders to take a boat in the morning. 10th got on board he boat at 5 o'clock and started down the river, run about 25 miles and landed at Blue Rock Landing, and changed to the headquartersboat, the Silver Spay. 11th we got to Cincinnatti Ohio at 10 o'clock, landed on the opposite side of the river and took on coal and proceeded on our journey. 12, we got to Louisville, Ky., this morning at 1 o'clock. Laid on the boat until morning. Got off and marched through town and out a few miles and camped in the woods. 13th in camp; 14th moved at 12 o'clock, marched back through town and out one mile and a half east of town and camped in a grove of beech trees. 15th, cleaning up and fixing camp. June 16 to 30, laying in camp. July 1, 1865 to 3, laying in camp. 4th got orders to prepare muster out papers. 5th to 11th in camp. 12th, the 45th Ills. Mustered out and left today. July 13, 16th Wisconsin mustered out and left for home today. 14th to 16th in camp. 17th, the 20th Illinois left for home today. 14th to 16th in camp. 17th the 20th Illinois left for home today, and the 30th was mustered out today and will start for Illinois in the morning. 18th broke camp and marched at 5 o'clock and crossed the river at Portland Ferry, into New Albany, and boarded the cars at 12 o'clock for Illinois. July 19th we got to Lafayette, at 3 o'clock, changed cars and started on at 4 o'clock. 20th we got to Camp Butler, at 4 o'clock and went into camp. July 21st to 26th in camp. July 27th, got paid off today and went down to Springfield, returned to camp and spent our last night in the old tent that had sheltered us during the hardships of these four years.
July 28th. Now we have come to the most trying time of the four years service, the disbanding of the 30th, Illinois Veteran Volunteer Regiment of Infantry. Here is where the 30th was organized, lacking a few days of being four years ago. We came here on our veteran furlough, then went to our homes. Assembled here to go to the front again. This is the 28th day of July, 1865, we are here our fourth and last time, to be disbanded and go to our several homes and become citizens again, and never to look on the old 30th as an organization again.
Sad, sad parting. I see in my mind's eye the boys getting together their little belongings, some little keep sake, perhaps a little Bible that a wife, mother, sister, daughter or sweetheart had presented to them on leaving home. Or maybe some relic captured on the march to the sea, or on the battlefield.
The last command is given to fix bayonets; stack arms. The guns are stacked in a perfect line. A beautiful sight. Unslung knapsacks, next comes the old dirty greasy haversack, that has been the staff of life on many a hard campaign, perhaps with a small scrap of sowbelly and a few hard tack, and a little pole of good old coffee, that has braced the boys up on many an early rise for a quick march. Then the cartridge box that many a time had been emptied of its 40 rounds, and the U. S. buckle on the belt as bright as a dollar. Then, last but not least, the friendly old canteen that has quenched the parched tongue on many a hot march. All of these accoutrements are hung on the bayonets or piled at the foot of the gun stacks. The command "Break ranks! March!
The boys mingle together for awhile, exchange addresses, the nearer the time comes to separate for the last time as members of the 30th the more serious the parting seems. All soldiers have a short name, such as Jim, Jo, Jack, Bill, Hank, and some by their company. It's all over, and all are anxious to get home, and the last is a firm handshake, "goodbye, I hope to meet you again".
Each one grabs his little poke of belongings and a wave of the hand, and the old 30th scatters to the four ends of the earth.
Some of the readers may want to know what it is that binds soldiers together with such a chord of friendship. You will always find when men pass through hardships and danger, they will admire the man that will stand by his side and risk his life for his comrade. The 30th passed through four years of marching and fighting and all kinds of hardships, and the citizen cannot realize the seriousness of this parting.
The 17th of July is the date of our discharge, but we went to Camp Butler, and was disbanded on the 27th. On the 28th all of the boys left for their homes.
It had been predicted that when this great army of men were discharged they would be menace to the country. Having spend four years of the best of their lives in the army, when they returned to their homes they would not have the desire to take up any of the occupations of life for making a living.
Did they do as it was predicted? Not a bit of it. They have made good in all important positions of trust in the gift of the people. This saying and feeling had become so common, that the soldiers would not work, you often hear on comrade say to another, "Soldier will you work>", the reply would be, No, I'll sell my shirt first."
In 1907, A. E. Sample, Fife Major of the 30th, published a history of his campany (sic) "A" and penned the following comment on the disbanding of this grand army. By his permission I give it here:
"As a fitting close to this long and terrible struggle, which the country had passed through, a grand review of the two armies of Grant and Sherman took place in the National Capitol on the 24th of May in the presence of the President and Cabinet, and foreign ministers. As the bronzed and proud veterans marched up Pennsylvania Avenue, the Heavens resounded with the acclamations of the multitude, and the air was filled with bouquets of flowers that were rained on the noble leaders.
The Duke of Wellington said when 50,000 troops were reviewed in the Champs Elysees, after the occupation of Paris by the allies, that it was sight of a lifetime, but here nearly two hundred thousand marched by the reviewing stand, not conscripts forced into the ranks, but citizens who had voluntarily taken up arms to defend, not a Monarch's rights, but their own.
Yet, sublime as was this spectacle, it sunk into insignificance before the grandeur of the one presented a few days after, when this army, strong enough to conquer a hemisphere, melted suddenly into the mass of the people, and was seen no more. It's deeds renown had filled the civilized world, and European statesman looked on and wondered what disposition could be made of it, and where it would go or what it would do. It was one of the grandest armies that ever bore on its bayonet points the destinies of a king or nation, a consolidation and embodiment of power seldom witnessed; and yet, while the gaze of the world was fixed on it, it disappeared like a vision, and when one looked for it he saw only peaceful citizens engaged in their usual occupations".
The General whose martial achievements had been repeated in almost every language under the sun, was seen amid his papers in his old law office, which he had left at the call of his country; the brave Colonel who had lead many a gallant charge, was in his counting house, acting as though he had been absent only a few days on business, while the veterans of the rank and file, whose battle shout had rung over many bloody fields, could only be found by name as one bent over his saw and plane, and another swung his scythe in the harvest field or plied his humble toil along the streets. It was a marvelous sight, the grandest the world ever saw. It had been the people's war, the people had carried it on, and having finished their work, quietly laid aside the instruments which they had accomplished it, and again took up those of a peaceful industry. Never on earth did a government exhibit stability and assert it's superiority over all others, as did this republican form of government of ours; in the way its armies disappeared when the struggle was over.
Aggregate strength of the regiment, 1878; Strength at muster out, 665; the number of men mustered in when the regiment was organized at Camp Butler, August 28, 1861, was 724. When the regiment returned to Camp Butler, July 27th, 1865, for final discharge, out of the original number of 724, 182 were mustered out.
Number of officers killed, 10; number of men killed, 84; total number killed 94; discharged on the account of wounds, 30.
The first commanders of companies: "A" Warren Shedd, Capt.; "B" John P. Davis, Capt.; "C" Jas. R. Wilson, Capt.; "D" Thomas G. Washley, Capt.; E"E John C. Johnson, Capt.; "F" Cyrus A. Bradshaw, Capt.; "G" Jas. Burnett, Capt.; "H" Wm. C. Rhoads, Capt.; "I" Robt. Allen, Capt.; "K" Alexander H. Johnson, Capt.
Counties the companies were recruited from: A and G, Mercer; B, Sangamon; C and E, Randolph; D, Crawford; F, Clark and Edgar; H, Macoupin and Clinton; I, Clinton and Bond; K, Clinton;.
Number of mile traveled, during our four years service: By boat, total 2265 miles; By train, total 1295 miles; Marched, total 2710 miles. Grand total is 6270 miles.
I am indebted to comrade A.E. Sample, fife major, of the 30th, living at Lyons, Kan., for the above figures. I requested him to do this part of the work for me, and he has taken great pains to have the figures correct. He has consulted railroad officials, and railroad maps and used the regular scale of measurement from town to town, and along the rivers and coasts. We did a great deal of counter, and zig zag marching. Comrades! I have labored long and hard to perfect this little history of the 30th regiment. I have gone into all of the details and followed our tracks from place to place, and as I approached the different battle fields, I could see the old 30th in line and see the "flag" waving in the breeze, and see the familiar faces of the boys lying on the battle line stiff and cold in death their glassy eyes starring at the heavens, and perhaps in their death struggle had grasped a handful of leaves or grass mixed with blood. A shallow grave was dug, and the poor boys were wrapped in their old blanket and lowered to their last resting place, and the dirt was shoveled in and a little mound made, to mark the spot and a rude headboard with the name, company and regiment.
I have endeavored to do justice to everything and everybody. I have tried to get facts from every company and individual, but few have responded. Many of them have answered their last roll call. Perhaps you have heard soldiers talk about what their regiment done, and from their talk, you would suppose there was no other troops in the fight but them. How they were cut up, the number of men they lost; but when the facts are known, there was more wind than war. When the reader has finished this little history of he 30th, you will know we saw the enemy on the battle field; and surely in the fight. But I haven't a word to say against any other regiment's records. Comrades don't try to make the people believe that it was you that put down the rebellion. Boys we are all Americans, and if one regiment has seen more hardships and fighting than some others, that was because they were thrown into places that put them to the test, and they proved their ability to make good. Other regiments under the same circumstance, with good officers would have done the same. It is not positive proof of a regiments fighting qualities when they lose a good many men. It is good tactics for men to save themselves in battle. Men are slaughtered when they get demoralized.. Don't criticize this little history too severely, I know you saw some things that I did not see.
During our four years service we were in the following states: Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennesee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, and Wash D.C.
The surviving comrades in 1916 are as follows: Co. "A" A.E. Sample, Lyons, Kan., Capt. E.B. David, Lincoln, Neb., Mark Cannum, Aledo, Ill., S.J. Bolton, Aledo, Ill., W.L. Dinel, Dade City, Florida.
Co. "B" Achilles Edwards, Loami, Ill.
Co. "C" Capt. W.M. Adair, Sterling, Kansas, G. B. McDonald, Sparta Ill., J.C. Wilson, Sparta, Ill., Hugh McNulty, Sparta, Ill., David Hathaway, Steelville, Ill., J.A. McAfee. Houston, Ill., S.F. Taggart, Willisville, Ill.,Duncan Maxwell Percy, Ill., D.M. Hawthorne, Steelville, Ill., Thomas Milligan, Ellisgrove, Ill., W.J. Welshans, Blair, Ill., W.A. Brown, Murray, Neb., Ulric Wilson, Siloam Springs, Mo., John Wilson, Clarks, Neb
Co "D" Nelson Carpenter, Hutsonville, Ill., Jno. A. (Dote) Montgomery, Soldiers Home Danville, Ill., Lt. M. L. James Oblong, Ill., Alexander Anderson, Robinson, Ill., W.C. Willhite, Gordon, Neb., Oscar McDonald, Chicago, Ill., B.F. Boring, Terre Haute, Indiana.
Co. "E" John A. Leiner, Sparta, Ill., Henry Wolf, Sparta, Ill., J. P. Adams, Sparta, Ill., W. J. Rosborough, Sparta, Ill., E. B. Jordon, Litchfield, Ill., Steve (Put) Fisk, Galena, Ill., Wm. Koen, Campbell Hill, Ill., Dal Fisk, 189, 15th Ave., Council Bluffs, Iowa, Edward Short, Clinton, Ark., Ben B. Brown, 377 Grove Str., Fall River, Mass., Wm. Barnes, Chatoka, Ks., Judge J. R. McFie, Santa Fe, N.M., J..K.P. Morrison Centralia, Ill., Henry Short, LaPorte, Texas, John Carr, Chester, Ill.
Co. "F" Jake Fraker, Marshall, Ill., George Mock, 1257 Emerson, Denver, Colo., Joseph Burson, Mattoon, Ill.
Co. "G" No survivors found.
Co. "H" Capt., Sa. A. Hornbuckle, Salt Lake, City, Utah, J.H. Rhoads, Goddard, Ks., Wm. C. Abernatha Springfield, Mo.
Co "I" Benn Apple, Keysport, Ill., Christa Yingst, Beaucoup, Ill, Wm. Apple, Keysport, Ill., Adam Yingst, Beaucoup, Ill., Albert W. Cole, Tamalco, Ill. Wm. H. Norris, Carlyle, Ill., Lt. Henry Clark, Patoka, Ill., Lt. Wm. H.H. Finley, Carlyle, Il.
Co "K" Robert J. Daugherty, Centrailia, Ill., Charles W. Wilton, Willow Springs, Mo., Lyman Wade, Keysport, Ill., Phillip Brown, Cairo, Ill., J. W. Nickols, 622 East 4th North Centralia, Ill., W. F. Wilton, Huey, Ill., George Kindall, So. Home, Quincy, Ill., John M. Smith, Soldiers Home, Quincy, Ill.
M. L. Detwiler, of Co. "A" was shot in the right ankle at Clinton. Miss. His leg was amputated twice in the service, and once since he came home and it is too short yet.
W. A. White Co. "A" was wounded in the ankle at 27th of June, at Brushy Mountain, it was fourteen years healing, and during that time he removed 250 pieces of bone.
John Cooper, Co. "A" was wounded four times at the battle of Atlanta, B
Ga. First in left fore finger, 2nd in left hip joint, 3rd in right elbow, 4th in cheek bone, knocked out two teeth and a piece of the ball lodged in his lower teeth and remained there 42 years. He was still living in 1907 and is rich in the oil fields of Findley, Ohio.
W. A. Dungan, Co. "A" was wounded three times at the battle of Brittons Lane, Tenn., one ball passing through his left lung, and he was discharged on account of the wound, was living in 1907.
Captain Walker, our Brigade Adjt., was wounded in the thigh at the battle of Atlanta, Ga., Gen. Force borrowed a handkerchief from a member of Co. "A" to make a ligature for the limb to prevent hemorrhage, and just as he straightened up he was shot in the face. He was picked up by members of Co. "A" and the first word he spoke was, "Tell the Col. of the 12th Wisconsin, to take command of the Brigade". He lived for years after the war.
When in camp we would have lots of fun with the darkeys. We would form a circle with the darkeys inside. They would pat juber and dance. Their patting was fine time, and their dancing was just immense. Fine pastime for the boys.
When we were marching through to Washington, D. C., about 9 o'clock one morning we came in sight of an old colored man dancing, without hat or coat. When the first troops passed the old man got happy and danced for joy. When one regiment passed, another one was near, and seeing him dancing, and marching in close order, all of the boys would want to see him dance. When the 30th came up the old fellow was about all in, and wanted to quit dancing. His head was white, and the sweat was rolling off of him, and he had a hole dug in the ground. "Sambo dance for us", "I tells you massa, I'se gin'n out". The boys would level their guns on him and threaten to shoot him if he did not dance. He would dig in, and the last I saw of him he was still dancing.
I received the following incident from A. E. Sample, Fife Maj., of the 30th: After we defeated the enemy at the battle of Belmont and took their camp, they run troops from Columbus, Ky., over and surorunded (sic) us. J. C. Clark, of Co. A heard General Grant say he would not risk his reputation in trying to cut his way back to the boats. General Logan, Col. of the 31st then, said he would, and called to the boys to follow him. The boys rallied on the colors and fought their way back to the boats.
In order to settle the matter, Clark and Sample wrote to General Logan, (this was before Logan's death) and Logan said it was General McClernand that made the remark. The comrades concluded if it had not been for Logan, Grant's record might have been different.
While we were camped at Vicksburg, we were sent up the river by boat, after guerillas, on the Louisiana side. Had a pretty hot march for a few days,and while the boys were crowded around a well getting water, John Wilson, of Co. "C" being in the crows; one of the field officers of the 30th (a dude) came up, and ordered the boys to leave the well without water. Wilson leveled his gun on him and ordered him to leave or he would put a bullet in him. After we got back to Vicksburg, that officer went to General Logan and demanded that the whole regiment be put under arrest. Logan told him there were not enough troops in Vicksburg to do that. It was a foolish demand, but it is proof that Logan knew something about the regiment.
There was a man in Co. "E" by the name of Bill Dick Lively, and he spent a good deal of the time trying to limp out a discharge, at least the boys thought so. We walked with a stick. The musicians played a piece that the drummers crossed their sticks in one part of the tune while beating it. It made it sound like a limp, and the boys called it Bill Dick. And at times on the march the boys would get sore feet and straggled some. The Col. would call to the musicians to make a little music to get the boys together. The boys would raise the yell "Give us Bill Dick." They played Bill Dick and the boys would raise the yell "take the step and close up". The boys never were so tired but what a little music would bring them to time.
Boys, do you remember old Bull and Owen God, of Co. F? Do you remember Mr. Snap Grass, Mr. Whistler, and Dogwood Mall, of Co. C?
These are Co. E "Coffee Coolers": Wild Irishman, Razorback, Shoestring, Hollow Legs and Waxend. When the boys lay in camp awhile they would get very mischievous, and were at all kinds of pranks. They could mock any kind of beast or bird. Almost any time in the night you could hear some fellow call out: "Oh, Joe! Here's your mule!" And it took a hard campaign and a fight to cool them down.
It was the re-enlisting of the first three-years men that disappointed the Confederates and carried the war to a successful close. Let's see. Toward the close of the war we got a number of Southern papers boasting that the soldiers were tired of the war, and would go home when their time was out. Then they would soon clean out the recruits, drafted and substitutes. That part of the prophecy was well taken, but they had forgotten to reckon with the Yanks that were in the war to stay until the Johnnies were licked, and the rebellion was put down.
The regiments re-enlisting were soon filled with recruits, and were just as effective as a full regiment of old soldiers. The 30th was the only regiment reenisting (sic), that had a company from Randolph county.
Col. Shedd was taken prisoner at the battle of Atlanta, Ga., July 22nd, 1864, and Lieutenant Col. Rhoads commanded the regiment on the next march to the sea. Col. Shedd died at Slate Creek, one of the Dakotas, the 29th of August 1881. Lt. Col. Rhoads died at Maysville, Mo., in '93 or '94.
Harvey Moreland, of Co. C., had a wonderful memory, and was very familiar with the Book of Psalms. While sitting around the camp fire at night many things were brought. Anyone reading the first line of any verse from the Book of Psalms he would repeat the second line of the verse from memory.
At the battle of Champion's Hill we took a good many prisoners. An Irishman marched seven up to General Grant himself. Grant asked him how he took so many prisoners by himself. He answered: "Bejabers I jist surrounded 'em."
On our march back from the sea the troops built lots of corduroy road. This was done with poles cut from the woods. The country was low and soft and there was no other way of getting through. The boy's called it Sherman's railroad.
While were lying on brushy Mountain the pickets along the railroad which runs between Brushy Mountain and Kenesaw Mountain were very nervy. See what followed: The Johnnie picket challenged the Yank picket to come out in the open and shoot it out. The Yank picket accepted the challenge. A few shots were fired and the Yank picket was killed. Another picket took his place. At he second shot he Johnnie picket was killed. The Yank called for someone to take his place but no one would take the risk.
All nations have songs with a sentiment in them that will enthuse their people, and teach them loyalty to their country. Let us see what shape we were in at the beginning of the war. In all 4th of July celebrations and public gatherings before the war I do not remember of hearing our nationl (sic) hymn America, or The Star Spangled Banner, being sung. How was patiotism taught? The first by little speeches for the Union at our recruiting gatherings. When we went into the army a picture of the flag was printed on the envelopes that we used in writing to the folks at home, And mottoes of different kinds were on the envelopes.
One among the first and the most popular of these mottoes was this: "If any man attempts to haul down the American flag, shot him on the spot."--John A. Dix. The boys soon took up the song, "John Brown's Body Lies Mouldering in the Grave, but His Soul Goes Marching On". Did you ever stop to think that any man that brought about any great reform, but he was called a crank, or an old fool. This holds good in politics, religion, or national affairs. This song was soon sung all through the army, in camp and on the march. Some fellow would strike the trail, and one after another would join in until the whole regiment would take the swing step and almost make the brush crack with their singing. "Marching Through Georgia," was very popular and was sung on the march a great deal. How the "turkeys" gobbled that our commissary found! Yes, and how sweet potatoes even started from the ground while we were marching through Georgia.
"Farewell, Mother," "Tramp Tramp the Boys are Marching," "We Will Rally From the East and Gather from the West, Shouting the Battle Cry of Freedom," "When Sherman Marched Down to the Sea," "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," "We'll Hang Jeff Davis on a Sour Apple Tree."
Boys, in remembrance of these we can sing "We are Tenting Tonight on the Old Camp Ground."
Thank God, we have met again, old comrades, you and me,
Beneath that grand old banner, boys, the emblem of the free,
But few are here to greet us now, and few are left to know
Of all who answered to their names just fifty-two years ago.
There was Jim and John, and Will and Mack;
Who marched away with Dave, and Joe and Jack;
We were young and gay; these things did not disturb our minds,
With steady steps we marched to the tune of the girl we left behind.
Aye, comrades, we have older grown, our boys are men today;
Of whom both you and I are proud, for veterans sons are they;
But, Oh, the number mustered out, we never more will know
Whose elbow touched upon that march fifty-two years ago.
Yes, and on the field of Belmont, our line grew thin and light,
When scattered by the Rebel fire our men fell left and right;
While we were young and untried in the presence of the foe,
We whipped the Johnnies with old Belgian muskets fifty-two years ago.
On the battlefield of Donelson,
With snow on the ground in February, '62,
Some of the boys answered their last roll call
By the camp fires low and few.
'Twas there our gallant captain fell, the favorite of us all;
He left at home a sweet wife and went at country's call.
We tired to take him to the rear; he would not let us go;
But bravely fought and bled on Donald's field, fifty-one years ago.
Then at Brittons' Lane, in September, '62,
The Johnnies were there in plenty, the Yanks were very few;
But the 20th and 30th won the day against the mighty throng,
For the Johnnies were there in fighting trim, six thousand strong.
Then at Port Gibson, Raymon, Jackson and Champion Hill,
And at Black River we gave the Johnnies their fill.
At Vicksburg Pemberton said "take our Gibraltar you can't"
But he forgot to reckon with "Never Surrender" U. S. Grant.
At Atlanta you remember the 22nd of July, '64,
We lost some brave boys, for the brunt of the battle we bore,
Where brave McPherson lost his life,
With over three thousand of the boys in blue in that fearful strife.
Oh, comrades, have your forgot the boys, young and bright,
Who lost their lives by rifle shot in battling for the right?
They left their homes and loved ones, and went to meet the foe,
And, firing their last shot they died, long years ago.
Oh, yes, when we dug their graves on a knoll hard by,
And laid them gently down to rest, a tear filled every eye,
And vengeful vows were uttered there, aye, many a one I know,
Above the graves of these brave comrades, just forty-eight years ago.
Oh, well! Old comrades, that cruel was is o'er
No more we heed the bugle's blast nor hear the cannon's roar,
But to another camp fire bright, in Gods' own time we'll go,
Not such a camp as we were in, long years ago.
So now, old comrades, one and all, a hearty grip once more,
We old comrades again have met and fought our battles o'er.
It stirs our blood like trumpets' tones in front of Rebel foe,
And makes us feel as we felt then, fifty years ago.
Though well we know 'tis all in vain, no longer young are we,
But around the campfire we'll meet beneath our banner free,
And tell of conflicts once we waged against our Southern foe,
Upon those bloody battlefields, long years ago.
Our lives have all been checkered since taking our last campaign,
With all its varies hardships of cold and mud and rain,
Of all that knew us then how few that still survive,
Off all the comrades we knew then how few are still alive.
It takes a mighty effort our feelings to control,
Our hearts are filled with sadness whenever we call the roll.
We all are getting old, boys, our race will soon be run,
Our comrades, boys, are leaving us, are passing one by one.
Our youthful brows are wrinkled, our hair has turned to gray,
And all of us are nearing the parting of the way,
Another one has left us, we hear the church bell toll,
It fills our hearts with sadness whene'er we call the roll.
We tried to do our duty in manhood's early prime
Our country's call was urgent and treason was a crime,
Now all is fair and lovely and dreams of peace come true,
The Stars and Stripes are honored by both the Gray and the Blue
Our country is safe for babes unborn, an undivided whole,
For which we should be thankful whene'er we call the roll.
And now, old comrades, we break our camp, until some future day,
We'll meet again and sing our songs of battlefield and fray,
And when our camp fire gleams again, we truly think we know,
You'll come to hear how soldiers fared, long years ago.
G. B. McDONALD,
Sparta, Ill., September 5, 1913.