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[358]

From near the beginning the Southern soldiers were with us-squads, companies, and regiments. They were almost always well behaved. Of course they “scouted,” and arrested ultra Union men, and carried them away from their families, and did many hard and cruel things; but they did not pillage, or wantonly destroy property, and they paid for forage and animals in Confederate currency, which was at first very good money. Looking back at it impartially-and I pledge myself to try and write the truth — I am constrained to say that the Southern soldiers, as a mass, at the beginning of the war, were gentlemen. Even our chickens roosted securely near their camps. Indeed, for the first year of the wary I do not recall an instance of theft in our neighborhood by the Southern soldiers. At first the greater portion of them seemed to have little conception of the magnitude of the job they had undertaken. They thought the war would soon be over; that the Yankees would not fight very much, and all hands could go home before the end of the year. They conceived it to be more of a frolic than a real war. Indeed, the Southern troops were ultra sanguine at the beginning, counting upon a united South and a divided North, and a timid enemy without taste for war and gunpowder. Occasionally, one wiser than the rest would shake his head ominously, and say that Southern independence could only be established after a most desperate and bloody contest; but such were regarded as men made melancholy by a cross in love, or an absent sweetheart, far, far away, or the dyspepsia, or constitutional melancholy. In fine, such gloomy persons were laughed at.

All the talk about the ability of one Southern man to make away with five of the enemy, and all the prophecies about the war as “only a frolic,” was ended, in the part of the country where I was, by the crushing Confederate defeat at Mill Spring, Kentucky, January 19th, 1862. Here the idol of the Tennesseeans, General Felix K. Zollicoffer, was killed, and his command put to utter rout. I was living fully one hundred and fifty miles south of this battlefield; yet it is a fact that some of the panic-stricken soldiers stampeded that distance before they got over their fright! I saw some of them on horses without saddles, both men and animals having a wild look in the eyes, as if awakened from a terrible dream. At Knoxville, the fugitives had to be “herded” and guarded. Some went to that city, some to Chattanooga, and, indeed, they spread out over the face of the country like frightened cattle. Perhaps this panic was not equaled in the whole course of the war. It certainly served the purpose of awakening the Southern soldiers,

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Mill Spring, Ky. (Kentucky, United States) (1)
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Felix K. Zollicoffer (1)
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January 19th, 1862 AD (1)
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