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January, 1862.

January, 1

Albert, the cook, was swindled in the purchase of a fowl for our New Year's dinner; he supposed he was getting a young and tender turkey, but we find it to be an ancient Shanghai rooster, with flesh as tough as whitleather. This discovery has cast a shade of melancholy over the Major.

The boys, out of pure devilment, set fire to the leaves, and to-night the forest was illuminated. The flames advanced so rapidly that, at one time, we feared they might get beyond control, but the fire was finally whipped out, not, however, without making as much noise in the operation as would be likely to occur at the burning of an entire city.

January, 5

General Mitchell has issued an immense number of orders, and of course holds the commandants of regiments responsible for their execution. I have, as in duty bound, done my best to enforce them, and the men think me unnecessarily severe.

To-day a soldier about half drunk was arrested for leaving camp without permission and brought to my quarters; he had two canteens of whisky on his person. I remonstrated with him mildly, but he grew saucy, insubordinate, and finally insolent and insulting; [92] he said he did not care a damn for what I thought or did, and was ready to go to the guard-house; in fact wanted to go there. Finally, becoming exasperated, I took the canteens from him, poured out the whisky, and directed Captain Patterson to strap him to a tree until he cooled off somewhat. The Captain failing in his efforts to fasten him securely, I took my saddle girth, backed him up to the tree, buckled him to it, and returned to my quarters. This proved to be the last straw which broke the unfortunate camel's back. It was a high-handed outrage upon the person of a volunteer soldier; the last and worst of the many arbitrary and severe acts of which I had been guilty. The regiment seemed to arise en masse, and led on by a few reckless men who had long disliked me, advanced with threats and fearful oaths toward my tent. The bitter hatred which the men entertained for me had now culminated. It being Sunday the whole regiment was off duty, and while some, and perhaps many, of the boys had no desire to resort to violent measures, yet all evidently sympathized with the prisoner, and regarded my action as arbitrary and cruel. The position of the soldier was a humiliating one, but it gave him no bodily pain. Possibly I had no authority for punishing him in this way; and had I taken time for reflection it is more than probable I should have found some other and less objectionable mode; confinement in the guard-house, however, would have been no punishment for such a man; on the contrary it would have afforded him that relief from disagreeable duty which he desired. At any [93] rate the act, whether right or wrong, had been done, and I must either stand by it now or abandon all hope of controlling the regiment hereafter. I watched the mob, unobserved by it, from an opening in my tent door. Saw it gather, consult, advance, and could hear the boisterous and threatening language very plainly. Buckling my pistol belt under my coat where it could not be seen, I stepped out just as the leaders advanced to the tree for the purpose of releasing the man. I asked them very quietly what they proposed to do. Then I explained to them how the soldier had violated orders, which I was bound by my oath to enforce; how, when I undertook to remonstrate kindly against such unsoldierly conduct, he had insulted and defied me. Then I continued as calmly as I ever spoke, “I understand you have come here to untie him; let the man who desires to undertake the work begin — if there be a dozen men here who have it in their minds to do this thing-let them step forward — I dare them to do it.” They saw before them a quiet, plain man who was ready to die if need be; they could not doubt his honesty of purpose. He gave them time to act and answer, they stood irresolute and silent; with a wave of the hand he bade them go to their quarters, and they went.

General Mitchell hearing of my trouble sent for me. I explained to him the difficulties under which I was laboring; told him what I had done and why I had done it. He said he understood my position fully, that I must go ahead, do my duty and he would stand by me, and, if necessary, sustain me with [94] his whole division. I replied that I needed no assistance; that the officers, with but few exceptions, were my friends, and that I believed there were enough good, sensible soldiers in the regiment to see me through. He talked very kindly to me; but I feel greatly discouraged. The Colonel has practically abandoned the regiment in this period of bad weather, when rigorous discipline is to be enforced, and the boys seem to feel that I am taking advantage of his absence to display my authority, and require from them the performance of hard and unnecessary tasks. Many non-commissioned officers have been reduced to the ranks by court-martial for being absent without leave, and many privates have been punished in various ways for the same reason. It was my duty to approve or disapprove the finding of the court. Disapproval in the majority of cases would have been subversive of all discipline. Approval has brought down upon me not only the hatred and curses of the soldiers tried and punished, but in some instances the ill — will also of their fathers, who for years were my neighbors and friends.

Very many of these soldiers think they should be allowed to work when they please, play when they please, and, in short, do as they please. Until this idea is expelled from their minds the regiment will be but little if any better than a mob.

January, 7

We hear of the Colonel occasionally. He is still at Louisville, running his train on the broad gauge. His regiment, he says, has been maneuvering in tile face of the enemy beyond Green river, threatened [95] with an attack day and night. Constant vigilance and continued exposure in this most inclement season of the year, so underlined his health that he was compelled to retire a little while to recuperate. He affirms that he has the best regiment of soldiers in the service; but, unfortunately, has not a field officer worth a damn.

Robt. E. Lee was the great man of the rebel army in West Virginia. The boys all talked about Lee, and told how they would pink him if opportunity offered. But Simon Bolivar Buckner is the man here on whom they all threaten to fall violently. There are certainly a hundred soldiers in the Third, each one of whom swears every day that he would whip Simon Bolivar Buckner quicker than a wink if he dared present himself. Simon is in danger.

Had the third sergeants in my school to-night. Am getting to be a pretty good teacher.

January, 10

General Mitchell gave the officers a very interesting lecture this evening. He is indefatigable. The whole division has become a school.

Had five lieutenants before me. Lesson: grand guards and other outposts.

January, 11

The General summoned the officers of his division about him and went through the form of sending out advanced guard, posting picket, grand guards, outposts, and sentinels. During these exercises we rode fifteen or twenty miles, and listened to at least twenty speeches. My horse was very gay, and I had the pleasure of running many races. I learned something, and am learning a little each [96] day. Had the lieutenants in my school again tonight. Lesson: detachments, reconnoissances, partisans, and flankers.

January, 12

The officers dress better, as a rule, than in West Virginia. The only man who has not, in this regard, changed for the better, is the Major. He continues the careless fellow he was. Occasionally he makes an effort to have his boots polished; but finds the day altogether too short for the work, and abandons the job in despair.

January, 14

Every day we have the roar of artillery, the rattle of musketry, the prancing of impatient steeds, the marching and countermarching of battalions, the roll of the drum, the clash and clatter of sabers, and the thunder of a thousand mounted men, as they hurry hither and yon. But nobody is hurt; it is all practice and drill.

January, 16

People who live in houses would hardly believe one can sleep comfortably with his nose separated from the coldest winter wind by simply a thin cotton canvas; but such is the fact.

January, 19

General Dumont called. He is to-day commandant of the camp. The General is an eccentric genius, and has an inexhaustible fund of good stories. He uses the words “damned” and “bedamned” rather too often; but this adds, rather than detracts, from his popularity. He dispenses good whisky at his quarters very freely, and this has a tendency also to elevate him in the estimation of his subordinates.

General Mitchell never drinks and never swears. [97] Occasionally he uses the words “confound it” in rather savage style; but further than this I have never heard him go. Mitchell is military; Dumont militia. The latter winks at the shortcomings of the soldier; the former does not.

January, 25

We are not studying so much as we were. The General's grasp has relaxed, and he does not hold us with a tight reign and stiff bit any longer.

There is a great deal of sickness among the troops; many cases of colds, rheumatism, and fever, resulting from exposure. Passing through the company quarters of our regiment at midnight, I was alarmed by the constant and heavy coughing of the men. I fear the winter will send many more to the grave than the bullets of the enemy, for a year to come.

January, 26

A body of cavalry got in our rear last night and attempted to destroy the Nolan creek bridge; but it was driven off by the guard, after a sharp engagement, in which report says nine of the enemy were killed and six of our men.

The enemy is doing but little in our front. A night or two ago he ventured to within a few miles of our forces on Green river, burnt a station-house, and retired.

January, 28

The Colonel returned at noon. I was among the first to visit him. He greeted me very cordially, and called God to witness that he had never spoken a disparaging word of me. Busy bodies and liars, he said, had created all the trouble between us. He had [98] heard that charges were to be preferred against him; he knew they could not be sustained, and believed it an attempt of his enemies to injure him and prevent his promotion. He affirmed that he had enlisted from the purest of motives, and entered into a general defense of his acts as an officer and gentleman. I listened respectfully to his statement, and then said: “Colonel, if your conduct has been such as you describe, you need not fear an investigation. I hold in my hand the charges and specifications of which you have heard. They are signed by my hand. I make them believing them to be true. If false, the court will so find, and I shall be the one to suffer. If true, you are unfit to command this regiment or any other, and it should be known. I present the charges to you, the commanding officer of the Third Regiment, and with them a written request that they be forwarded to the General commanding the division.” He took the package, tore open the envelope, and seated himself while he read.

In less than an hour Captains Lawson and Wing called on me to report that the Colonel would resign if I would withdraw the charges. I consented to do so.

January, 31

Had dress parade this evening, at which the Colonel officiated, it being his first appearance since his return.

Ascertaining that he had not sent in his resignation, I wrote him a note calling attention to the promise made on the 29th instant, and suggesting that it [99] would be well to terminate an unpleasant matter without unnecessary delay.

We had a case of disappointed love in the regiment last night. A sergeant of Captain Mitchell's company was engaged to a girl of Athens county. They were to be married upon his return from the war, and until within a month have been corresponding regularly. Suddenly and without explanation she ceased to write, why he could not imagine. He never, however, doubted that she would be faithful to him. His anxiety to hear from home increased, until finally he learned from her brother, a soldier of the Eighteenth Ohio, that she was married. Strong, healthy, goodlooking fellow that he was, this intelligence prostrated him completely, and made him crazy as a loon. He imagined that he was in hell, thought Dr. Seyes the devil, and so violent did he become that they had to bind him.

This morning he is more calm, but still deranged. He thought the straws in his bunk were thorns, and would pluck at them with his fingers and exclaim: “My God, ain't they sharp?” Captain Mitchell called, and the boys said: “Sergeant, do n't you know him?” “Yes,” he replied, “he is one of the devils.” The Captain said: “Sergeant, do n't you know where you are?” “Of course I do; I'm in hell.” When they were binding him he said: “That's right; heap on the coals; put me in the hottest place.” While Dr. Seyes was preparing something to quiet himlaudanum, perhaps-he said: “Bring on your poison; I'll take it.” [100]

The boys, while living roughly, exposed to hardships and dangers, think more of their sweethearts than ever before, and are constantly recurring, in their talk, to the comfortable homes and pleasant scenes from which they are for the present separated. [101]

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