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Doc. 5.-General Twiggs' Treachery.

Jackson barracks, New Orleans, March 17, 1863.
My dear----: I suppose you have long thought me dead; but I have not had an opportunity, until the present time, of letting you know why I have been so long silent, but I trust in God this will find you well.1 I hardly know what to begin with first, for I have so long a list of adventures to tell you. When I received your letter, in Hatch's Ranche, New Mexico, I answered it by the next mail; since then I have not heard from you, or any one else. At that time, I think, I told you that I expected to leave there for Fort Butler, but shortly afterward the company to which I belong was ordered to Fort Bliss, Texas, on the Rio Grande, four hundred miles from Hatch's Ranche, which place we left on the twenty-fifth of January, 1861; the weather was intensely cold, and snow some six or eight inches deep for some three hundred miles of the way. We suffered very much during the greater part of the march, but as we neared the Texas border the days became more pleasant, but the [173] nights were still cold and stormy. We arrived at Fort Bliss February twenty-fifth, and were all beginning to congratulate ourselves on having a good garrison for the summer, when the news of the secession reached us. At first we thought nothing of it; but the attack and surrender of Fort Sumter by the gallant Major Anderson convinced the most sceptical that things were taking a very serious turn. Shortly after the above events, we got orders from General Twiggs, the commander of the department of Texas, to evacuate the state, and turn over all the forts and stores to commissioners appointed by the state: we prepared to follow these instructions, but were delayed in consequence of wagons to carry our baggage through; but finally we got started on the thirty-first of March, 1861, with Colonel Reeves and two other companies of our regiment, I and B, and marched to Fort Quitman, where we were joined by Company F. We left there, and marched to Fort Davis, where we were joined by Companies E and H. We were now about three hundred and twenty men, all in good spirits, for at that time we were told by the commissioner of the state that we should not be molested on our march to the coast, but would be treated with all possible kindness, as the regiment had been so long in the state, guarding the frontier from the inroads of the Camanche Indians; so, with these promises in view, and the hopes of hearing from, and perhaps seeing, dear friends at home, we thought nothing of the long and wearisome march before us. But the sequel will show how bitterly we were betrayed by the traitor Twiggs and his worthless confederates.

Everything went on well until we got to Fort Clark, the nearest military post to the settlements, where we heard it announced that the Texans intended to make us all prisoners as soon as we got some forty or fifty miles farther down the country. This we did not believe, and even if we had it was then too late to turn back; so we pushed boldly on until we reached a little town called Castreville, where the people (principally Germans) assured us we would be met the next day by a large force, and have to surrender or fight. Well, I can assure you, my dear Ellen, that was rather hard, after having the assurance of a free pass out of the country; but it was too true. However, we were bound to show a bold front, and Colonel Reeves determined not to let the enemy steal a march on him; so we left Castreville that night at ten o'clock, (after marching that day twenty-five miles), and got to a place called Adam's Hill, close by the San Lucas Springs, before daylight. We were all tired out, and all hands got orders to lie down and rest; but it was of short duration, for just at sunrise the enemy came pouring down a hill some three miles in front of us. At the sound of the drum every man was in his place, and there we stood for a good hour, watching the rebels filing over the hill in front. Not a word was spoken in the ranks, but many a one thought of the dear ones at home, perhaps never to be seen again; but everything must have an end, and pretty soon an officer rode up to our ranks, and demanded an unconditional surrender. Colonel Reeves told him he would fight him first, and then see about the surrender. So the officer rode off to his side to report. At this time our officers came round, and told us we were about to go into an engagement, and they wanted every man to do his best; but that was unnecessary, for we were all determined to die before a rebel crowd should have it to say that the Eighth regulars would give in one inch. We were all of one mind, and that was, to fight to the last. In a short time the officer came back again, and told Colonel Reeves that it would be a useless waste of blood to fight; that he had only two hundred and ninety effective men, and opposed to him were twenty-three hundred, with six pieces of artillery, while we had none. The Colonel said he would fight them three to one, or if they drew off the artillery, he would fight them all; but, of course, they knew they had the advantage, and were determined to keep it; so the Colonel, after sending down one of our officers to count their number, surrendered. We were then ordered to stack arms; then the rebels gave a cheer — a cheer which made our cheeks burn and our hearts ache, one that we still remember, and will take a fearful vengeance for some of these days. It was unmannerly in them. There we stood, our little band small in numbers, but firm and determined; they, great in force, but cowards at heart; and I believed then, as I do now, that had we fought them, we would have been victorious. But let it pass; let the future tell the tale. We marched that day to within nine miles of San Antonio, and camped in full sight of the rebels at Leon Springs, and some of them came into our camp, but they met with a very cool reception. The next day we marched into San Antonio and gave up our arms. We were treated with a good deal of respect by the citizens, but we were in no mood to look kindly on them, as they had been instrumental in bringing on our misfortunes; all offers of kindness we treated with scorn, and wanted only to be released on parole as prisoners of war. We remained in San Antonio a month, and took a parole, by the advice of our officers, not to leave the county we were in. Afterwards we were sent out in a camp eight miles from San Antonio, where we remained during the months of July and August, thinking all the time that we would be released; but no, they wanted to have us all join the rebel cause, and promised to pay us all the United States government owed us; but we spurned all their offers. Some few men did join, but they were a riddance to us, and no acquisition to them, being the most dissatisfied men in our command. We were now ordered to be guarded, and were marched seventy. five miles, to Camp Verde. There our tents were taken away, and we had to make out as best we could. The cold weather was setting in, and we had not too plenty of clothing or blankets; but necessity is the mother of invention; so all hands went to work to build houses for the winter, some in twos and some in fours, just as they fancied, in partnership, as the labor was too much to do alone, and in an incredibly short time (without [174] tools of any kind) there was quite a town built up, of some one hundred and twenty houses, or shanties, which we called Lincolnville. Some of the houses were built of stone, some of logs, some of mud like those in New Mexico, and some of the wealthiest firms had quite respectable frame houses. I was in as a partner with three others, and I flatter myself our mansion was quite a gem, ten by fourteen feet, and seven feet high. We carried the boards that built it about three miles, and put it all up in six days; but the improvements we made occupied us much longer. We had a good chimney in it, also bedsteads, chairs, table, &c. You know I used to be pretty handy at such things, and all lent a hand to the work. After all was finished we put up a flag pole and made a flag, not the stars and stripes, (for that we dared not do,) but the red cross of St. George. The Texans thought we were great fellows to work; but we did the most of it to pass, the time. Pretty soon we began to get out of and feel the want of some tobacco; so I proposed that we four should build a little ship, and by selling it get some little things we wanted; but my partners' talents not being in that line of business, I had to work alone for the benefit of the others, so I built a little war frigate with no other tools than a jackknife and an awl, rigged it, but could get no paint; so I had to use ink and some other articles: however, it was finished and put on exhibition; and it was a rarer sight to the natives than fifty live elephants or tigers. They have no idea what such a thing as a ship is. Hundreds came to see it, and it was with the greatest difficulty we could keep them from smashing it, handling it; so I had to sell it out or run the chance of getting it broke. All I got was ten dollars. I made another, but only got five dollars; so that branch of business had to be abandoned as unprofitable.

About this time an order came to have us move, just as we had got comfortably lodged for the winter; and on the fourth of December, 1861, Companies B, E, F, H, I, and K, left for Fort Mason, eighty-five miles from Verde. We left sixty men at Verde. We all got safely to Mason, and there the command was split up into five parties, one to Fort McKuvett, one to Camp Colorado, one to Camp Cooper, one to Fort Belknap, and Companies B and K, in all fifty-eight men, to Fort Chadbourne, clear up in the Camanche nation of Indians.

I forgot to tell you that we were three months and fifteen days in Camp Verde.

All these forts that I have mentioned are on the Indian frontier, and were formerly garrisoned by our soldiers, but none of us had ever been to any of them; but at the time I am writing about they were garrisoned by the rebels, and we were distributed amongst them, as I tell you, for safe keeping. I had the good luck to go with my company, K, to Chadbourne, two hundred and twenty miles from Fort Mason. We got there without any mishap, and remained there three months and fourteen days. We had all the liberty we wanted, but we could not get away, as there was not a house for over two hundred miles, and in an Indian country; so we had to make the best of it. Here we were well treated, and had nothing to do, but could not get a smoke for any money; we were all nearly crazy for tobacco; we smoked everything — leaves, coffee, tea, weeds, and paper, and, finally, to wind up our troubles, got out of flour, and went without bread for twenty-four days. Beef also run short, and the rebel Captain in charge of the fort told us he would go out with a party of men and kill some buffalo; so some of our men went along, myself amongst the number. We had only to go some thirty miles. When we came on the range of the animals he furnished us with good horses, guns, and six shooting pistols. We had a fine time, and the first day killed nineteen, and the next eleven. We only took the tongue and humps, put them in the wagons, and went home again; but that would not last long; so the Captain told us he would leave the fort if the flour did not come on such a day, and as we had been living on nothing but beans for some weeks, we were not in very good trim for marching one hundred and twenty miles, the nearest way we could get to Mason; but the boys went through all right. I took sick the night before the most of the men started, and came pretty near dying, but God willed it otherwise. I had to stop behind with four other men of my company for ten days, as there were not wagons enough to take the property; but we got to Mason a few days after the others. On this march down we made one hundred and twenty miles in five days; one day we marched thirty-eight miles, and had nothing to eat but beans and coffee. At Fort Mason we were found in a few days by our other companies that had been at the other forts. During the winter we were all put in a camp without any tents, but the weather by this time was beginning to be fine, (April.) We all commenced comparing notes; but I think we had a little the hardest times.

I must not enter into detail, but it is hard to finish now without a full account. We had a good camp at Mason, fine water and plenty of wood; so we commenced building brush houses to keep off the heat of the sun. That was quite a job, for the weather is extremely hot there in the summer months; but the sheds were built, and we were quite comfortable under the circumstances; but when it rained we used to catch it all; our things got wet, but we did not mind that much. We now began to be much in need of clothing, shoes, and in fact everything; but we went to work, got flour sacks, made shirts and trousers, and got some canvas and made slippers, with raw-hide soles; but we were always clean and neat even in our old clothes, and kept up our hearts, knowing that it could not last forever. I can now say I am a pretty good carpenter, builder, tailor, and shoemaker; you would be surprised.

It was at Mason we heard of the fall of New Orleans. I was out on a fishing tour fourteen miles from camp, and heard the good news; and you may be sure I did not stop long to fish after that, but hurried home to acquaint the others with the good news. Shortly after that event, [175] through some reports sent to General Bee at San Antonio, he ordered us to be closely guarded, and not to allow us to see any citizens. So a guard was put all around our camp, and we were regularly penned up; but soon after that we got an order to move to San Antonio — we were told, for the purpose of being paroled. We did not exactly believe it, but we were getting tired of Mason, and wanted to get to San Antonio, where we could better hear and see what was doing. So, after a stay in Mason of three months and sixteen days, we started on the road once more. I forgot to mention that while we were in Mason, Major Hill, a rebel officer, offered any of the men passes if they would go to work for some of the farmers round there; but he made nothing by it, for although we were offered five dollars a day, and had no clothes, and wanted the money, not one man would do a thing for them; at the same time the crops were ripe, but the farmers had no one to help them; and while at Mason our coffee was stopped, and we got rye and wheat instead. It is a great dish, I assure you; but we soon got used to that, and it went just as good as the pure old Java.

Nothing of any particular note occurred on the march to San Antonio. The weather was very hot, roasting, but by that time we were all pretty well acclimated, and could go as far in a day and farther than the Secesh horses. They were dying on the road every day, while we were improving. In due time we arrived in San Antonio for the second time, and of course were on tiptoe to know what was going to be done with us. Finally we were ordered to a camp on the head of the San Antonio River, five miles from the latter place — a good camp, with plenty of wood, and a good river to bathe in. That was what we wanted, for a soldier is out of his element if he has not plenty of water. After we had been in camp a few days, Captain Price, a Confederate officer, came and told us that we were going to be paroled but that if any of us wanted to join their army we could get a commission and all our pay; but the bait would not take, and we all remained true blue to the old flag. We were then visited by General Bee and the Inspecting General. He complimented us highly for our clean and healthy appearance, and asked us to join the South; but still the same answer. We then asked him about the parole and why we were guarded so closely. He told us it was our own faults that we were not free long before; that we could be soon then by joining; but he knew it would not work; so he threatened to punish us still more. We told him to do his worst; that our day would come some time. He then told us we had been on intimate terms with some of the disloyal citizens of the country, and would have to be kept under a close guard as long as we were prisoners in Texas.

Shortly after this we were joined in our camp by the sixty men that were left in Camp Verde. They were all in good health, but like the balance of us, were all disappointed in not getting paroled; but we soon went about building more summer houses, and after that was done, started and built a theatre out of green bushes, boards, and moss, which we found in abundance on all the large trees; we had quite a fine place, and as we all gave a hand to the work, it was soon completed. We had a good stage of boards, foot-lights, and a drop-curtain made out of a wagon cover. The building would seat about five hundred persons comfortably, the seats made out of boards and large trunks of trees; but the greatest trouble was to raise funds to start with. That, however, was accomplished by the rebel officers making a donation in the shape of some fifty dollars in Confederate money; with that we bought dresses, wigs, and candles to light up with. We had a big time the opening night, and the receipts of the house amounted to nearly one hundred dollars; of course none of our party paid any, but all the rangers had to come down or else stop out. We had very good music, having some tip-top musicians amongst us; we had to borrow the instruments in San Antonio. The orchestra consisted of three fiddles, one flute, one clarinet, and a guitar. We gave entertainments twice a week as long as there was any money around. At last so many of our men used to be away from camp that there was an order given to put on a close guard, and allow no one outside the lines on any business, and any of us found outside the guard were ordered to be shot; but that did not keep us in, for then we were determined to go out anyhow, to show them that they could not keep us in. We tried all kinds of plans to get out, and then came back and told them we had been in town. The officers came down heavy on the guard for letting us out, but they could not find out how we run the blockade; but we did. About this time some of the men determined to make their escape, and go over into Mexico, nearly three hundred miles. We tried to dissuade them from it, but they were getting tired of the whole arrangement, and would go; so some fifteen started one night in three different parties for the Rio Grande. They were not missed for three days. The rebels vowed vengenance against us and them, and thirty mounted men started after them; nine escaped, and the other five got out of provisions and had to apply for some at a house, where they were captured and brought back, after being nearly safe. They then put balls and chains on their legs, and confined them in the guard-house; but one night two of the five cut the chains and started off again. They were missed in about an hour, but they were not caught for two days. They travelled forty-five miles the night they left. Major Taylor, the officer in command, told them that he had orders to shoot them, but that if they promised him that they would not run away again, he would let them off; so they had to promise. The guard was now doubled, and it was mighty hard to get out; but we did do it, after all, and four more started, and got clear through to Mexico, and from there to New Orleans. We were a little too sharp for their sentinels. About this time the weather was beginning to look wintry, [176] and we concluded we had better go to work and build winter quarters; so in a short time some one hundred ranches were up, but they were far inferior to the Camp Verde ones. When most of them were finished, we were again ordered to change camp, and go to a permanent one for the winter, on the Seawillows, thirty miles from where we were. Major Taylor waited for a rainy day, and then ordered us to march and keep in ranks, or he would order the guard to shoot us down. Now, we could not march in ranks on account of the mud, and he actually gave the order to shoot us ; but the guard, more sensible than himself, refused to do it, when he told them he would have them shot for disobeying his orders; but they only laughed at him, and we marched as we pleased. He could make nothing of us, and gave it up for a bad job. However, we got to our destination next day, and the Major told us how we should build in streets; but you may bet now we done exactly contrary to how he had ordered. He told us he would make us tear them down again, but we only laughed at him, and said we would suit ourselves. We worked at cutting down trees and splitting them up into pickets, and carrying rocks, for three days, and there were a good many got their places finished, when on the morning of the fourth day an order arrived to bring us back to San Antonio to get paroled sure, and leave the state. We all gave three cheers for the Union, and every one knocked off work and got ready for a move. We heard the order read by old Taylor; he had changed completely from savage to mild, but we knew the old rascal too well to trust him. We started back the next day and got to Camp Worth, near San Antonio, where the order read we were to be paroled and furnished with an escort to the Federal lines.

We were all paroled on the twenty-sixth of December, 1862, to be exchanged as soon as possible. The guard was then taken off, and on the first day of January we started on our march for home, with an escort of eighty cavalry, composed mostly of Germans. They were not very strong for secession, but they had, like a good many others, to become soldiers or hang on the branch of some tree. I cannot give you much details of the march through Texas into Louisiana, a distance of four hundred and twenty miles; but it was pretty hard on all of us, as the roads were in a bad condition from the heavy rains. In some places we had to lie over four days, as we could not get the wagons through the mud and sand. We had plenty of liberty to go wherever we pleased, and we availed ourselves of the privilege to go on foraging parties after fat pigs, chickens, &c. I am certain that we must have killed on the trip one thousand hogs; in some camps every two men had one whole one to themselves. It was a good thing they were plenty, for we could get no beef, and we were living on corn bread alone, without a grain of coffee. The Captain that came along with the escort remonstrated with us about the pork business; but we lent a deaf ear to all his pleadings in favor of good order and peace, for pork we had to have, no matter what the cost was. I tell you it used to be fun to see the boys in full pursuit of a big hog, some with clubs, others with knives and rocks; very few could escape the doom if we ever got after him. The owners used to come to the camps to complain, and we would tell them, You voted for war; now you must pay for it; so clear out. Rather a cool way of doing business, I confess, but a sure way, for we were on the strong side.

Well, after forty-seven days on the march we got into Shreveport, at the head of the Red River, and took a steamboat. Our tramping was all over now, but we were worse off on board the boat than when on the march. We were all huddled in a place not big enough to hold a fourth of us; of course none could sleep, and there was no place to cook during the day; but the boat lay up at night, and we went on shore and cooked enough to do until night again. In three days we reached Alexandria, where we changed boats. While in Alexandria the Queen of the West was towed in as a prize, along with twenty-three prisoners taken on board of her. We took them along with us, and you may be sure there were a good many questions asked; but they could not tell us much, as they were not very well posted about the war, or anything else we cared about knowing. We went seventy miles down Red River, to within a mile of Fort Taylor, where the steamer General Quitman was lying, and there found three companies of the Forty-second Massachusetts regiment and the crew of the Harriet Lane, who were all taken prisoners at Galveston on the first of January, the same day we started from San Antonio. We had heard about the fight, but did not believe it. We were now reinforced by three hundred and twenty, which made the party over six hundred strong, not counting the Scotch Grays that the latter party had along. We were delayed at Fort Taylor three days, waiting for wood; but we finally got under way again, and got into Port Hudson, a strongly fortified town on the Mississippi River, in the hands of the rebels. Here we stopped all night, and the next morning went down the river, under a flag of truce, to Baton Rouge, where we were received by the Federal officers.

I can hardly describe my feelings on landing once more on the soil where the stars and stripes were so proudly waving from the tall masts of the men-of-war lying in the river. Well, we were landed inside our lines after being prisoners of war twenty-two months. We marched up to the city and got quarters and supper, and the whole party started at eight o'clock on a boat for New Orleans, where we arrived in safety the next morning. From there we were taken to Carrollton, eight miles above New Orleans, to a camp. We were treated in the best possible manner by all the officers and men. General Emory made a speech, in which he complimented us for our loyalty to the cause of the Union, and told us we could and would have everything that would contribute to our comfort.

1 This letter was written by a private soldier belonging to the Eighth United States regulars, which regiment was surrendered to the rebels by the treachery of General Twiggs in 1861.

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