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Doc. 129.-occupation of Huntsville, Ala. April 11, 1862.

A correspondent of the Cincinnati Gazette gives the following account of the march and occupation:

We have achieved a victory which, although bloodless, must be attended by such important results as can hardly be over-estimated. The main line, and for all practical military purposes, the only line of communication between the eastern and western armies of the enemy, is in our hands. To General Mitchel and his brave troops belongs the distinguished honor of being the first to penetrate to the great Charleston and Memphis Railroad, and the first to break through the rebels' boasted line of defence, extending from Chattanooga to Corinth.

The advance from Fayetteville to Huntsville was made with the full expectation that at the latter place there would be a terrible struggle. Every one knew the importance of the railroad to the enemy; every one supposed that they would guard it with the utmost vigilance, and every one predicted that the division of our army which should first reach it, would be met with the sternest determination, and would obtain possession of this great channel of communication, only by a costly expenditure of blood. We all [469] perfectly understood, too, that the rebels had accumulated upon this road neatly all the rolling stock of all the railroads from Bowling Green southward, besides what legitimately belonged to the road itself; and that they could therefore, with the utmost facility, concentrate at any threatened point, whatever forces they had at command. We did not know but that the rebel army of the Potomac, concluding to abandon Virginia and escaping from the grasp of McClellan, would be pouring in overwhelming force down the East-Tennessee and Virginia Railroad, at the very time when we should be advancing upon Huntsville. We could not tell but that our main army in the neighborhood of Corinth, would suffer some serious reverse, in which case we were inevitably lost.

But, in case we should be successful — in case we should break the enemy's famous line, we knew how important would be the consequences. There was no time for hesitation, and General Mitchel is not the man to hesitate, even if there were.

The order to march from Fayetteville was received with pleasure — a pleasure which was slightly alloyed with regret, that we had not destroyed the town. It is a miserable little secession hole, and the shameful insult that had been offered to our flag of truce, combined with the threatening and scowling looks of the inhabitants whenever they showed themselves at the windows of their houses, to which General Mitchel had ordered them, had pretty thoroughly angered us against them, and nothing would have pleased our boys better than to have given the rascals a lesson which would never have departed from their memory, provided that after the administration of said lesson they had any memory left.

Col. Turchin's brigade and Simonson's battery started from Fayetteville at six o'clock A. M., on Thursday, and marched diligently until nine P. M., which brought them to within eleven miles of Huntsville. Colonel Sill's brigade, with Loomis's famous battery, followed closely, the other brigades at a greater distance.

The weather was cool, and beautiful for marching, on Thursday, but we had no turnpike, and in places the road was very bad. This was especially the case about six miles from Fayetteville. A series of swamps and mud-holes was succeeded by a long, precipitous and rocky hill. The tired animals could not take the wagons up, and it was found necessary to hitch the horses or mules of two or three teams to a single wagon, and thus laboriously take them to the top, one at a time.

A mile further on, our way was obstructed by another muddy tract, worse than the former: a number of wagons upset, some broke down, and some stuck fast; but the troops moved steadily on.

It was worth the looking to see Capt. Loomis's battery move over these roads. Neither mud, nor rocks, nor hills delayed them, but calmly, smoothly, majestically, they moved forward, a real impersonation of power. I was convinced, by observing them, of how much can be accomplished by foresight and care. The horses for this battery were selected mainly by Loomis himself, with great discrimination, and not one was admitted which was in the slightest degree weak or unsound. He has lost but two or three horses during the entire war.

The roads improved after this, and were quite tolerable the remainder of the way.

A strong Union feeling was manifested after we entered the State of Alabama, but it was mingled with many false notions concerning State sovereignty, and the duty of submission thereto One old gentleman, a planter with an extensive estate, expressed the views of the majority of the people of Madison County. “It seemed like tearing out my heart,” said he, “to give up the old Union, but when Alabama voted to separate, I thought it my duty to sustain her.” “But,” I reminded him, “Alabama, in attempting to break up the nation, did what she had no right to do.” “Ah!” said the old gentleman, “passion and prejudice blinded our eyes to that truth.” “Are you then willing,” I asked, “to see the authority of the National Government restored?” “Yes,” he replied, “and to pray from this time forth that all her people may be willing to return to their allegiance.” I did not think proper to press the matter further, but it seemed to me that even his final answer indicated his resolution to abide by the action of his State, whether the majority of her people became loyal or remained treasonable. The pestiferous and fatal doctrine that the majority of the inhabitants of a single State can sanctify the crime of treason, must be forever rooted out by this war.

The negroes that we saw were kind and friendly, and generous and benevolent, even when their masters were most strongly “secesh.”

The face of the country, and the vegetable productions of the southern part of Lincoln County, closely resemble those of portions of the Northern States ; but after we reached the State of Alabama, the vast cotton plantations, the grand country mansions, with their little villages of negro huts, besides trees and shrubs and flowers, with which only the well-versed botanists in our army were acquainted — all reminded us that we were far from home.

Shortly after entering the State, we passed the vast plantation of the secession General L. P. Walker, extending along the road for miles. The mansion was utterly deserted, and all the furniture removed. A perfect host of negroes came down to see and to welcome us. They laughed, they sang, they danced in their glee. I stopped a moment to converse with them. “By golly,” said a fine-looking, honest young negro, “Ise a great notion to go along with dis crowd. What do you say, massa?” “My poor friend,” I replied, “if you did, you will probably be turned out of our lines the first place we encamp. Somebody who claims you will come and take you back; and then, besides being severely punished for running away, you will in every respect be [470] worse off than before.” The negro understood me. “It is very hard, massa,” said he. His voice faltered; I saw that tears were gathering in his eyes, and I rode away, as my own were growing moist and dim.

A detached house upon Gen. Walker's plantation was in flames when I passed. It had been set on fire by some of our soldiers, but whether accidentally or not, I did not stop to enquire. One of the negroes had a heavy iron ring and bolt fastened to his leg. He said he had worn them for more than three months. A cavalry-man descended quietly from his horse, knocked off the fetters, fastened them to his saddle, and rode away. “By heaven,” I heard him mutter, “I would forfeit a year's pay for the privilege of transferring these to the leg of the rascal who put them on that man!”

The Eighth brigade, Colonel Turchin, with Simonson's battery, did not spend much time in slumber Thursday night. After four hours rest, they recommenced their march, and reached Huntsville at six o'clock on Friday morning.

An advance force of a hundred and fifty cavalry, together with a section of the battery, in charge of Capt. Simonson himself, assisted by Lieut. M. Allen, commanding the section, the whole directed by Col. Kennett, first caught sight of Huntsville, and the lovely cedar surrounding it. They were advancing upon the double-quick, when two locomotives, with trains attached, suddenly made their appearance upon the railroad. They were moving in the direction of Stevenson. A shot from one of Simonson's guns brought the first one to. The Captain then turned to pay his respects to the second. A shot or two induced it also to haul up. In the mean time, the engineer of the first train was quietly getting on a full head of steam, and when nobody was suspecting such a thing, he suddenly started off. The cavalry went in pursuit, and actually chased the locomotive for a distance of ten miles.

A few horsemen tried their carbines upon the second train, and an unfortunate colored person received one of the bullets in his neck. It was said, too, by the secesh that a rebel from Corinth, going home slightly wounded, was instantly killed.

The infantry had come up while this was going on, and Colonel Mihalotzi, of the Twenty-fourth Illinois, sent a detachment to tear up a portion of the track in the direction of Decatur. The escape of any more trains was thus effectually prevented.

Three cavalry-men rushed into the town, found a large number of rebel soldiers sleeping in and around a number of cars, and actually made prisoners of one hundred and seventy men, including a major, six captains, and three lieutenants. The most of these fellows belonged to the Ninth Louisiana regiment, and were on their way to join it in Virginia. The major's name was Cavanaugh. His regiment did not all reenlist when their time of service (one year) expired, and he had been home for recruits. He had succeeded in obtaining a hundred and forty, and was taking them to the Old Dominion, to fill up the ranks of his regiment. When he found both himself and his recruits were prisoners in the hands of the Yankees, his mortification was visibly expressed all over his countenance.

When our troops advanced into the town, they found they had made a prize of seventeen locomotives, (sixteen of them in fine running order,) and about a hundred and fifty cars, passenger and freight. I shall not attempt to enumerate the other articles captured, and your readers may estimate the value of the rolling stock.

The prisoners captured are a wretched-looking set of men, and evidently belong to the lowest class of Southern society — which is, I admit, putting them down pretty low. They are nearly all sick of the business in which, they are engaged. Many of them say they were forced to enlist; others admit that they were influenced by leaders whom they believe to be bad men; and there is scarcely one who does not regret that he was induced to take up arms against the Government. One of them told me that if he were home once more, he would die in his-tracks before he would again consent to fight against the old Union. “I foolishly thought,” said he, “that I was fighting for my country when I obeyed the mandates of Jeff Davis; now I see plainly that I was fighting against it.”

If these gentry are sent to your part of the country, for God's sake don't allow Northern traitors to go among them, and revive in their bosoms the dying fires of disloyalty. Better, for their own sakes and the sake of the nation, let loose in their midst a thousand hissing vipers. These could only kill their bodies, but the agents of Jeff Davis in the North, will, if they are permitted, poison their souls, and do it much more effectually than their own Southern leaders ever could.

Gen. Mitchel's thanks to his soldiers.

headquarters Third division, camp Taylor, Huntsville, April 16, 1862.
General order No. 93.

soldiers: Your march upon Bowling Green won the thanks and confidence of our Commanding General. With engines and cars captured from the enemy, our advance-guard precipitated itself upon Nashville. It was now made your duty to seize and destroy the Memphis and Charleston Railway, the great military road of the enemy. With a supply-train only sufficient to feed you at a distance of two days march from your depot, you undertook the herculean task of rebuilding twelve hundred feet of heavy bridging, which by your untiring energy was accomplished in ten days.

Thus, by a railway of your own construction, your depot of supplies was removed from Nashville to Shelbyville, nearly sixty miles, in the direction of the object of your attack. The blow now became practicable. Marching with a celerity such as to outstrip any messenger who might have attempted to announce your coming, you fell upon Huntsville, taking your enemy completely by surprise, and capturing not only [471] his great military road, but all his machine-shops, engines and rolling stock.

Thus providing yourselves with ample transportation, you have struck blow after blow with a rapidity unparalleled. Stevenson fell, sixty miles to the east of Huntsville. Decatur and Tuscumbia have been in like manner seized, and are now occupied. In three days you have extended your front of operations more than one hundred and twenty miles, and your morning gun at Tuscumbia may now be heard by your comrades on the battle-field made glorious by their victory before Corinth.

A communication of these facts to headquarters has not only won the thanks of our Commanding General, but those of the Department of War, which I announce to you with proud satisfaction.

Accept the thanks of your Commander, and let your future deeds demonstrate that you can surpass yourselves.

By order of

O. M. Mitchel, Brig.-General Commanding. W. P. Prentice, A. A. G.

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O. M. Mitchel (5)
Simonson (4)
Oscar M. Loomis (3)
L. P. Walker (2)
Turchin (2)
Thomas G. Stevenson (2)
Sill (1)
W. P. Prentice (1)
Mihalotzi (1)
George B. McClellan (1)
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