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March, 1862.

March, 1

Our brigade, in command of General Dumont, started for Lavergne, a village eleven miles out on the Murfreesboro road, to look after a regiment of cavalry said to be in occupation of the place. Arrived there a little before sunset, but found the enemy had disappeared.

The troops obtained whisky in the village, and many of the soldiers became noisy and disorderly.

A little after nightfall the compliments of a Mrs. Harris were presented to me, with request that I would be kind enough to call. The handsome little white cottage where she lived was near our bivouac. It was the best house in the village; and, as I ascertained afterward, very tastefully if not elegantly furnished. She was a woman of perhaps forty. Her husband and daughter were absent; the former, I think, in the Confederate service. She had only a servant with her, and was considerably frightened and greatly incensed at the conduct of some soldiers, of she knew not what regiment, who had persisted in coming into her house and treating her rudely. In short, she desired protection. She had a lively tongue in her head, and her request for a guard was, [113] I thought, not preferred in the gentlest and most amiable way. Her comments on our Northern soldiers were certainly not complimentary to them. She said she had supposed hitherto that soldiers were gentlemen. I confessed that they ought to be at least. She said, rather emphatically, that Southern soldiers were gentlemen. I replied that I did not doubt at all the correctness of her statement; but, unfortunately, the branch of the Northern army to which I had the honor to belong had not been able to get near enough to them to obtain any personal knowledge on the subject.

The upshot of the five minutes interview was a promise to send a soldier to protect Mrs. Harris' property and person during the night.

Returning to the regiment I sent for Sergeant Woolbaugh. He is one of the handsomest men in the regiment; a printer by trade, an excellent conversationalist, a man of extensive reading, and of thorough information respecting current affairs. I said: “Sergeant, I desire you to brighten up your musket, and clothes if need be, go over to the little white cottage on the right and stand guard.” “All right, sir.”

As he was leaving I called to him: “If the lady of the house shows any inclination to talk with you, encourage and gratify her to the top of her bent. I want her to know what sort of men our Northern soldiers are.”

The Sergeant in due time introduced himself to [114] Mrs. Harris, and was invited into the sitting room. They soon engaged in conversation, and finally fell into a discussion of the issue between the North and South which lasted until after midnight. The lady, although treated with all courtesy, certainly obtained no advantage in the controversy, and must have arisen from it with her ideas respecting Northern soldiers very materially changed.

March, 2

Started on the return to Nashville at three o'clock in the morning. The boys being again disappointed in not finding the enemy, and considerably under the influence of liquor, conducted themselves in a most disorderly and unsoldierly way.

Have not had a change of clothing since we crossed the Great Barren river.

March, 6

Regiment on picket.

When returning from the front I met a soldier of the Thirty-seventh Indiana, trudging along with his gun on his shoulder. I asked him where he was going; he replied that his father lived four miles beyond, and he had just heard that his brother was home from the Southern army on sick leave, and he was going out to take him prisoner.

March, 8

This afternoon the camp was greatly excited over a daring feat of a body of cavalry under John Morgan. It succeeded in getting almost inside the camps, and was five miles inside of our outposts. It came into the main road between where Kennett's cavalry regiment is encamped and Nashville; captured a wagon train, took the drivers, Captain Braden, of Indiana, who was in charge of the train, and [115] eighty-three horses, and started on a by-road back for Murfreesboro. General Mitchell immediately dispatched Kennett in pursuit. About fifteen miles out the rebels were overtaken and our men and horses recaptured. Two rebels were killed and two taken; Kennett is still in hot pursuit. Captain Braden says, as the rebels were riding away they were exceedingly jubilant over the success of their adventure, and promised to introduce him to General Hardee in the evening. Wihout asking the Captain's permission they gave him a very poor horse in exchange for a very good one, put him at the head of the column and guarded him vigilantly; but when Kennett apspared and the running fight occurred he dodged off at full speed, lay down on his horse, and although fired at many times escaped unhurt.

Morgan's men know the country so well that all the by-roads and cow-paths are familiar to them; the citizens keep them informed also as to the location of our camps and picket posts, and if need be are ready to serve them either as guides or spies, hence the success which attended the earlier part of their enterprise does not indicate so great a want of vigilance on the part of our troops, as might at first thought be supposed.

March, 9

The enemy made a descent on one of our outposts, killed one man and wounded another.

March, 16

Went to Nashville this morning to buy a few necessaries. While awaiting dinner at the St. Cloud I took a seat outside the door. Quite a number of Union officers were seated or standing in front of the [116] hotel, when two well, extremely well, dressed women, followed by a negro lady, approached, and while passing us held their noses. What disagreeable thing the atmosphere in our immediate vicinity contained that made it necessary for these lovely women to so pinch their nasal protuberances, I could not discover; certainly the officers looked cleanly, many of them were young men of the “double-bullioned” kind, who had spared no expense in decorating their persons with shoulder straps, golden bugles, and other shining trappings which appertain somehow to glorious war.

After dinner I dropped into a drug store to buy a cake of soap. The druggist gave me, in the way of change, several miserably executed shinplasters. I asked:

“Do you call this money?”

“ I do.”

“I wonder that every printing office in the South does not commence the manufacture of such money.”

“O, no,” he replied in a sneering way; “in the North they might do that, but in the South no one is disposed to make counterfeit money.”

“Yes,” I retorted, “the Southern people are very honest no doubt, but I apprehend there is a better reason for not counterfeiting the money than you have assigned. It is probably not worth counterfeiting.”

Private Hawes of the Third is remarkably fond of pies, and a notorious straggler withal. He has just returned to camp after being away for some days, and [117] accounts for his absence by saying that he was in the country looking for pies, when Morgan's men appeared suddenly, shot his horse from under him, mounted him behind a soldier and carried him away. The private is now in the guard-house entertaining a select company with a narrative of his adventures.

We have much trouble with escaped negroes. In some way we have obtained the reputation of being abolitionists, and the colored folks get into our regimental lines, and in some mysterious way are so disposed of that their masters never hear of them again. It is possible the two saw-bones, who officiate at the hospital, dissect, or desiccate, or boil them in the interest of science, or in the manufacture of the villainous compounds with which they dose us when ill. At any rate, we know that many of these sable creatures, who joined us at Bowling Green and on the road to Nashville, can not now be found. Their masters, following the regiment, made complaint to General Buell, and, as we learn, spoke disparagingly of the Third. An order issued requiring us to surrender the negroes to the claimants, and to keep colored folks out of our camp hereafter. I obeyed the order promptly; commanded all the colored men in camp to assemble at a certain hour and be turned over to their masters; but the misguided souls, if indeed there were any, failed to put in an appearance, and could not be found. The scamps, I fear, took advantage of my notice and hid away, much to the regret of all who desire to preserve the Union as it was, and greatly to the chagrin of the gentlemen who [118] expected to take them handcuffed back to Kentucky. One of these fugitives, a handsome mulatto boy, borrowed five dollars of me, and the same amount of Doctor Seyes, not half an hour before the time when he was to be delivered up, but I fear now the money will never be repaid.

March, 18

Started for Murfreesboro. The day is beautiful and the regiment marches well. Encamped for the night near Lavergne. I called on my friend Mrs. Harris. She received me cordially and introduced me to her daughter, a handsome young lady of seventeen or eighteen. They were both extremely Southern in their views, but chatted pleasantly over the situation, and Mrs. Harris spoke of Sergeant Woolbaugh, the guard furnished her on our first visit, in very complimentary terms; in fact, she was surprised to find such men in the ranks of the Federal army. I assured her that there were scores like him in every regiment, and that our army was made up of the flower of the Northern people.

March, 19

The rebels having burned the bridges on the direct road, we were compelled to diverge to the left and take a longer route; toward evening we went into camp on the plantation of a widow lady, and here for the first time in my life I saw a field of cotton; the old stalks still standing with many bulbs which had escaped the pickers.

March, 20

Turned out at four o'clock in the morning, got breakfast, struck our tents, and were ready to march at six; but the brigade being now ordered to take the rear, we stood uncovered in a drenching rain [119] three hours for the division and transportation to pass. All were thoroughly wet and benumbed with cold, but as if to show contempt for the weather the Third sang with great unction:

There is a land of pure delight,
Where saints immortal reign;
Infinite day excludes the night,
And pleasures banish pain.

There everlasting spring abides,
And never withering flowers;
Death, like a narrow sea, divides
This heavenly land from ours.

Soon after getting under way the sky cleared, and the sun made its appearance; the band struck up, and at every plantation negroes came flocking to the roadside to see us. They are the only friends we find. They have heard of the abolition army, the music, the banners, the glittering arms; possibly the hope that their masters will be humbled and their own condition improved, gladdens their hearts and leads them to welcome us with extravagant manifestations of joy. They keep time to the music with feet and hands, and hurrah “fur de ole flag and de Union,” sometimes following us for miles. Parson Strong attempts to do a little missionary work. A dozen or more negroes stand in a group by the roadside. Said the Parson to an old man: “My friend, are you religious?” [120]

“No, massa, I is not; seben of my folks is, an dey is all prayen fur your side.”

Hailing a little knot, I said: “Boys where do you live?”

Lib wid Massa--, sah.”

“All Union people, I suppose?”

“Dey say Dey is, but Dey isn't.”

One old woman-evidently a great-grandmother in Israel-climbed on the fence, clapped her hands, shouted for joy, and “bressed de Lord dat dar was de ole flag agin.”

To a colored boy who stole into our lines last night, with his little bundle under his arm, the Major said: “Doesn't it make you feel bad to run away from your masters?”

“ Oh, no, massa; dey is gone, too.”

Reached Murfreesboro in the afternoon.

March, 22

Men at work rebuilding the railroad bridge. General Dumont returns to Nashville. Colonel Lytle, of the Tenth Ohio, will assume command of our brigade.

My servant has imposed upon me for about a month. He arises in the morning when he pleases; prepares my meals when it suits his pleasure, and is disposed in every thing to make me adapt my business to his own notions. This morning I became so provoked over his insolence and laziness that, in a moment of passion, I knocked him down. Since then there has been a decided improvement in his bearing. The blow seems to have awakened him to a sense of his duty.


March, 25

So soon as the railroad is repaired, an immense amount of cotton will be sent East from this section. The crops of two seasons are in the hands of the producer. We are encamped in a cotton field. Peach trees are now in bloom, and many early flowers are to be seen.

March, 26

The boys are having a grand cotillion party on the green in front of my tent, and appear to have entirely forgotten the privations, hardships, and dangers of soldiering.

The army for a temperate, cleanly, cheerful man, is, I have no doubt, the healthiest place in the world. The coarse fare provided by the Government is the most wholesome that can be furnished. The boys oftenest on the sick list are those who are constantly running to the sutler's for gingerbread, sweetmeats, raisins, and nuts. They eat enormous quantities of this unwholesome stuff, and lose appetite for more substantial food. Finding that all desire for hard bread and bacon has disappeared, they conclude that they must be ill, and instead of taking exercise, lie in their tents until they finally become really sick. A contented, temperate, cheerful, cleanly man will live forever in the army; but a despondent, intemperate, gluttonous, dirty soldier, let him be never so fat and strong when he enters the service, is sure to get on the sick list, and finally into the hospital.

The dance on the green is progressing with increased vigor. The music is excellent. At this moment the gentlemen are going to the right; now they [122] promenade all; in a minute more the ladies will be in the center, and four hands round. That broth of an Irish boy, Conway, wears a rooster's feather in his cap, and has for a partner a soldier twice as big as himself, whom he calls Susan. As they swing Conway yells at the top of his voice: “Come round, old gal!”

March, 28

General Mitchell returned from Nashville on a hand-car.

March, 30

This is a pleasant Sunday. The sun shines, the birds sing, and the air stirs pleasantly.

The colored people of Murfreesboro pour out in great numbers on Sunday evenings to witness dress parade, some of them in excellent holiday attire. The women sport flounces and the men canes. Many are nearly white, and all slaves.

Murfreesboro is an aristocratic town. Many of the citizens have as fine carriages as are to be seen in Cincinnati or Washington. On pleasant week-day evenings they sometimes come out to witness the parades. The ladies, so far as I can judge by a glimpse through a carriage window, are richly and elegantly dressed.

The poor whites are as poor as rot, and the rich are very rich. There is no substantial well-to-do middle class. The slaves are, in fact, the middle class here. They are not considered so good, of course, as their masters, but a great deal better than the white trash. One enthusiastic colored man said in my hearing this evening: “You look like solgers. No wonder dat you wip de white trash ob de Southern army. Dey [123] ced dey could wip two ob you, but I guess one ob you could wip two ob dem. You is jest as big as dey is, and maybe a little bigger.”

A few miles from here, at a cross roads, is a guideboard: “15 miles to Liberty.” If liberty were indeed but fifteen miles away, the stars to-night would see a thousand negroes dancing on the way thither; old men with their wives and bundles; young men with their sweethearts; little barefooted children, all singing in their hearts:

De day ob jubilee hab come, ho ho!

On the march hither we passed a little, contemptible, tumble-down, seven-by-nine frame school-house. Over the door, in large letters, were the words: “Central Academy.”

The boys laughed and said: “If this is called an academy, what sort of things must their common school-houses be?” But Tennessee is a beautiful State. All it lacks is free schools and freemen.

March, 31

Colonel Keifer, in command of four hundred men, started with ninety wagons for Nashville. He will repair the railroad in two or three places and return with provisions. [124]

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