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October, 1861.

October, 2

Our camp is almost deserted. The tents of eight regiments dot the valley; but those of two regiments and a half only are occupied. The Hoosiers have all gone to Cheat mountain summit. They propose to steal upon the enemy during the night, take him by surprise, and thrash him thoroughly. I pray they may be successful, for since Rich mountain our army has done nothing worthy of a paragraph. Rosecrans' affair at Carnifex was a barren thing; certainly no battle and no victory, and the operations in this vicinity have at no time risen to the dignity of a skirmish.

Captain McDougal, with nearly one hundred men and three days provisions, started up the valley this morning, with instructions to go in sight of the enemy, the object being to lead the latter to suppose the advance guard of our army is before him. By this device it is expected to keep the enemy in our front from going to the assistance of the rebels now threatening Kimball.

October, 3

To-night, half an hour ago, received a dispatch from the top of Cheat, which reads as follows:

All back. Made a very interesting reconnoissance. [73] Killed a large number of the enemy. Very small loss on our side.

J. J. Reynolds, Brigadier-General.

Why, when the battle was progressing so advantageously for our side, did they not go on? This, then, is the result of the grand demonstration on the other side of the mountain.

McDougal's company returned, and report the enemy fallen back.

The frost has touched the foliage, and the mountain peaks look like mammoth bouquets; green, red, yellow, and every modification of these colors appear mingled in every possible fanciful and tasteful way.

Another dispatch has just come from the top of Cheat, written, I doubt not, after the Indianians had returned to camp and drawn their whisky ration. It sounds bigger than the first. I copy it: “Found the rebels drawn up in line of battle one mile outside of their fortifications, drove them back to their intrenchments, and continued the fight four hours. Ten of our men wounded and ten killed. Two or three hundred of the enemy killed.”

If it be true that so many of the rebels were killed, it is probable that two thousand at least were wounded; and when three hundred are killed and two thousand wounded, out of an army of twelve or fifteen hundred men, the business is done up very thoroughly. The dispatch which went to Richmond to-night, I have no doubt, stated that “the Federals attacked in great force, outnumbering us two or three [74] to one, and after a terrific engagement, lasting five hours, they were repulsed at all points with great slaughter. Our loss one killed and five wounded. Federal loss, five hundred killed and twenty-five hundred wounded.” Thus are victories won and histories made. Verily the pen is mightier than the sword.

October, 4

The Indianians have been returning from the summit all day, straggling along in squads of from three to a full company.

The men are tired, and the camp is quiet as a house. Six thousand are sleeping away a small portion of their three weary years of military service. This time stretches out before them, a broad, unknown, and extra-hazardous sea, with promise of some smooth sailing, but many days and nights of heavy winds and waves, in which some-how many!-will be carried down.

Their thoughts have now forced the sentinel lines, leaped the mountains, jumped the rivers, hastened home, and are lingering about the old fireside, looking in at the cuplboard, and hovering over faces and places that have been growing dearer to them every day for the last five months. Old-fashioned places, tame and uninteresting then, but now how loved! And as for the faces, they are those of mothers, wives, and sweethearts, around which are entwined the tenderest of memories. But at daybreak, when reveille is sounded, these wanderers must come trooping back again in time for “hard-tack” and double quick.


October, 5

Some of the Indiana regiments are utterly beyond discipline. The men are good, stout, hearty, intelligent fellows, and will make excellent soldiers; but they have now no regard for their officers, and, as a rule, do as they please. They came straggling back yesterday from the top of Cheat unofficered, and in the most unsoldierly manner. As one of these stray Indianians was coming into camp, he saw a snake in the river and cocked his gun. He was near the quarters of the Sixth Ohio, and many men were on the opposite side of the stream, among them a lieutenant, who called to the Indianian and begged him for God's sake not to fire; but the latter, unmindful of what was said, blazed away. The ball, striking the water, glanced and hit the lieutenant in the breast, killing him almost instantly.

October, 6

The Third and Sixth Ohio, with Loomis' battery, left camp at half-past 3 in the afternoon, and took the Huntersville turnpike for Big Springs, where Lee's army has been encamped for some months. At nine o'clock we reached Logan's Mill, where the column halted for the night. It had rained heavily for some hours, and was still raining. The boys went into camp thoroughly wet, and very hungry and tired; but they soon had a hundred fires kindled, and, gathering around these, prepared and ate supper.

I never looked upon a wilder or more interesting scene. The valley is blazing with camp-fires; the men flit around them like shadows. Now some indomitable [76] spirit, determined that neither rain nor weather shall get him down, strikes up:

Oh! say, can you see by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?

A hundred voices join in, and the very mountains, which loom up in the fire-light like great walls, whose tops are lost in the darkness, resound with a rude melody befiting so wild a night and so wild a scene. But the songs are not all patriotic. Love and fun make contribution also, and a voice, which may be that of the invincible Irishman, Corporal Casey, sings:

'Twas a windy night. about two o'clock in the morning,
An Irish lad, so tight, all the wind and weather scorning,
At Judy Callaghan's door, sitting upon the paling,
His love tale he did pour, and this is part of his wailing:
Only say you'll be mistress Brallaghan;
Do n't say nay, charming Judy Callaghan.

A score of voices pick up the chorus, and the hills and mountains seem to join in the Corporal's appeal to the charming Judy:

Only say you'll be mistress Brallaghan;
Do n't say nay, charming Judy Callaghan.

Lieutenant Root is in command of Loomis' battery. [77] Just before reaching Logan's one of his provision wagons tumbled down a precipice, severely injuring three men and breaking the wagon in pieces.

October, 7

Left Logan's mill before the sun was up. The rain continues, and the mud is deep. At eleven o'clock we reached what is known as Marshall's store, near which, until recently, the enemy had a pretty large camp. Halted at the place half an hour, and then moved four miles further on, where we found the roads impassable for our artillery and transportation.

Learning that the enemy had abandoned Big Springs and fallen back to Huntersville, the soldiers were permitted to break ranks, while Colonel Marrow and Major Keifer, with a company of cavalry, rode forward to the Springs. Colonel Nick Anderson, Adjutant Mitchell and I followed. We found on the road evidence of the recent presence of a very large force. Quite a number of wagons had been left behind. Many tents had been ripped, cut to pieces, or burned, so as to render them worthless. A large number of beef hides were strung along the road. One wagon, loaded with muskets, had been destroyed. All of which showed, simply, that before the rebels abandoned the place the roads had become so bad that they could not carry off their baggage.

The object of the expedition being now accomplished, we started back at three o'clock in the afternoon, and encamped for the night at Marshall's store.

October, 8

Resumed the march early, found the river waist high, and current swift; but the men all got over safely, and we reached camp at one o'clock. [78]

The Third has been assigned to a new brigade, to be commanded by Brigadier-General Dumont, of Indiana.

The paymaster has come at last.

Willis, my new servant, is a colored gentleman of much experience and varied accomplishments. He has been a barber on a Mississippi river steamboat, and a daguerreian artist. He knows much of the South, and manipulates a fiddle with wonderful skill. He is enlivening the hours now with his violin.

Oblivious to rain, mud, and the monotony of the camp, my thoughts are carried by the music to other and pleasanter scenes; to the cottage home, to wife and children, to a time still further away when we had no children, when we were making the preliminary arrangements for starting in the world together, when her cheeks were ruddier than now, when wealth and fame and happiness seemed lying just before me, ready to be gathered in, and farther away still, to a gentle, blue-eyed mother-now long gone-teaching her child to lisp his first simple prayer.

October, 9

The day has been clear. The mountains, decorated by the artistic fingers of Jack Frost, loom up in the sunshine like magnificent, highly-colored, and beautiful pictures.

The night is grand. The moon, a crescent, now rests for a moment on the highest peak of the Cheat, and by its light suggests, rather than reveals, the outline of hill, valley, cove and mountain.

The boys are wide awake and merry. The fair weather has put new spirit in them all, and possibly [79] the presence of the paymaster has contributed somewhat to the good feeling which prevails.

Hark! This from the company quarters:

Her golden hair in ringlets fair;
Her eyes like diamonds shining;
Her slender waist, her carriage chaste,
Left me, poor soul, a pining.
But let the night be e'er so dark,
Or e'er so wet and rainy,
I will return safe back again
To the girl I left behind me.

From another quarter, in the rich brogue of the Celt, we have:

Did you hear of the widow Malone,
Who lived in the town of Athlone,
Oh! she melted the hearts
Of the swains in those parts;
So lovely the widow Malone,
So lovely the widow Malone.

October, 10

Mr. Strong, the chaplain, has a prayer meeting in the adjoining tent. His prayers and exhortations fill me with an almost irresistible inclination to close my eyes and shut out the vanities, cares, and vexatious of the world. Parson Strong is dull, but he is very industrious, and on secular days devotes his physical and mental powers to the work of tanning [80] three sheepskins and a calf's hide. On every fair day he has the skins strung on a pole before his tent to get the sun. He combs the wool to get it clean, and takes especial delight in rubbing the hides to make them soft and pliable. I told the parson the other day that I could not have the utmost confidence in a shepherd who took so much pleasure in tanning hides.

While Parson Strong and a devoted few are singing the songs of Zion, the boys are having cotillion parties in other parts of the camp. On the parade ground of one company Willis is officiating as musician, and the gentlemen go through “honors to partners” and “circle all” with apparently as much pleasure as if their partners had pink cheeks, white slippers, and dresses looped up with rosettes.

There comes from the Chaplain's tent a sweet and solemn refrain:

Perhaps He will admit my plea,
Perhaps will hear my prayer;
But if I perish I will pray,
And perish only there.
I can but perish if I go.
I am resolved to try,
For if I stay away I know I must forever die.

While these old hymns are sounding in our ears, we are almost tempted to go, even if we do perish. Surely nothing has such power to make us forget earth and its round of troubles as these sweet old [81] church songs, familiar from earliest childhood, and wrought into the most tender memories, until we come to regard them as a sort of sacred stream, on which some day our souls will float away happily to the better country.

October, 12

The parson is in my tent doing his best to extract something solemn out of Willis' violin. Now he stumbles on a strain of “Sweet home,” then a scratch of “Lang Syne ;” but the latter soon breaks its neck over “Old Hundred,” and all three tunes finally mix up and merge into “I would not live alway, I ask not to stay,” which, for the purpose of steadying his hand, the parson sings aloud. I look at him and affect surprise that a reverend gentleman should take any pleasure in so vain and wicked an instrument, and express a hope that the business of tanning skins has not utterly demoralized him.

Willis pretends to a taste in music far superior to that of the common “nigger.” He plays a very fine thing, and when I ask what it is, replies: “Norma, an opera piece.” Since the parson's exit he has been executing “Norma” with great spirit, and, so far as I am able to judge, with wonderful skill. I doubt not his thoughts are a thousand miles hence, among brownskinned wenches, dressed in crimson robes, and decorated with ponderous ear-drops. In fact, “Norma” is good, and goes far to carry one out of the wilderness.

October, 13

It is after tattoo. Parson Strong's prayermeeting has been dismissed an hour, and the camp is as quiet as if deserted. The day has been a duplicate [82] of yesterday, cold and windy. To-night the moon is sailing through a wilderness of clouds, now breaking out and throwing a mellow light over valley and mountain, then plunging into obscurity, and leaving all in thick darkness.

Major Keifer, Adjutant Mitchell, and Private Jerroloaman have been stretching their legs before my fireplace all the evening. The Adjutant being hopelessly in love, naturally enough gave the conversation a sentimental turn, and our thoughts have been wandering among the rosy years when our hearts throbbed under the gleam of one bright particular star (I mean one each), and our souls alternated between hope and fear, happiness and despair. Three of us, however, have some experience in wedded life, and the gallant Adjutant is reasonably confident that he will obtain further knowledge on the subject if this cruel war ever comes to an end and his sweetheart survives.

October, 14

The paymaster has been busy. The boys are very bitter against the sutler, realizing, for the first time, that “sutler's chips” cost money, and that they have wasted on jimcracks too much of their hard earnings. Conway has taken a solemn Trish oath that the sutler shall never get another cent of him. But these are like the half repentant, but resultless, mutterings of the confirmed drunkard. The “new leaf” proposed to be turned over is never turned.

October, 16

Am told that some of the boys lost in gambling every farthing of their money half an hour after receiving it from the paymaster. [83]

An Indiana soldier threw a bombshell into the fire to-day, and three men were seriously wounded by the explosion.

The writer was absent from camp from October 21st to latter part of November, serving on courtmartial, first at Huttonville, and afterward at Beverly.

In November the Third was transferred to Kentucky. [84]

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