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April, 1862.

April, 3

Struck our tents and started south, at two o'clock this afternoon; marched fifteen miles and bivouacked for the night.

April, 4

Resumed the march at seven o'clock in the morning, the Third in advance. At one place on the road a young negro, perhaps eighteen years old, broke from his hiding in the woods, and with hat in hand and a broad grin on his face, came running to me. “Massa,” said he, “I wants to go wid you.” “I am sorry, my boy, that I can not take you. I am not permitted to do it.” The light went out of the poor fellow's eyes in a moment, and, putting on his slouched hat, he went away sorrowful enough. It seems cruel to turn our backs on these, our only friends. If a dog came up wagging his tail at sight of us, we could not help liking him better than the master, who not only looks sullen and cross at our approach, but in his heart desires our destruction.

As we approach the Alabama line we find fewer, but handsomer, houses; larger plantations, and negroes more numerous. We saw droves of women working in the fields. When their ears caught the first notes of the music, they would drop the hoe and [125] come running to the road, their faces all aglow with pleasure. May we not hope that their darkened minds caught glimpses of the sun of a better life, now rising for them?

Last night my bed-room was as grand as that ever occupied by a prince. The floor was carpeted with soft, green, velvety grass. For walls it had the primeval forest, with its drapery of luxuriant foliage. The ceiling, higher even than one's thoughts can measure, was studded with stars innumerable. The crescent moon added to its beauty for awhile, but disappeared long before I dropped off to sleep.

We entered Shelbyville at noon. There are more Union people here than at Murfreesboro, and we saw many glad faces as we marched through the streets. The band made the sky ring with music, and the regiment deported splendidly. One old woman clapped her hands and thanked heaven that we had come at last. Apparently almost wild with joy, she shouted after us, “God be with you!”

We went into camp on Duck river, one mile from the town.

April, 5

General Mitchell complimented me on the good behavior and good appearance of the Third. He said it was the best regiment in his division. At Bacon creek, Kentucky, he was particularly severe on us, and attributed all our trouble to defective discipline and bad management on the part of the officers. On the evening when the acceptance of Marrow's resignation was read, the General was present. After parade was dismissed, I shook hands with him and [126] said: “General, give us a little time and we will make the Third the best regiment in your division.” The old gentleman was glad to hear me say so, but smiled dubiously. I am glad to have him acknowledge so soon that we have fulfilled the promise.

At Murfreesboro heavy details were made for bridge building, and one day, while superintending the work, the General addressed the detail from the Third in a very uncomplimentary way: “You lazy scoundrels, go to work! Your regiment is the promptest in the division to report for duty, but you will not work.” At another time he gave an order to a soldier which was not obeyed with sufficient alacrity, when he yelled: “What regiment do you belong to?” “The Third.” “Well, sir, I thought you were one of the obstinate devils of that regiment.” At another time he rode into our camp, and the boys failed to rise at his approach, when he reined in his horse suddenly and shouted: “Get up here, you lazy scoundrels, and treat your superiors with respect!” Riding on a little further, a private passed without touching his cap: “Hold on, here,” said the General, “do n't you know how to salute a superior?” “Yes,” stammered the boy, “but I did not see you.” “Hold up your head like a soldier, and you will see me.”

One night I was making the rounds in the Second Ohio with the General. The guard did not turn out promptly and he became angry; diving into the guard-tent to rout them up, he ran against a big fellow so violently that he was nearly thrown off his [127] legs. This increased his fury, and seizing the soldier by the coat collar he shook him roughly, and said: “You insolent dog, I'll stand insolence from no man. Officer, put this man under arrest immediatelyl”

On the same night the guard of the Thirty-third Ohio turned out slowly, and some of them were found to have stolen off to their quarters. The General was still in a bad humor. “Where is the officer of the day?” he asked. “At his quarters, sir,” replied a sergeant. “Present him the compliments of the General commanding, and tell him if he does not come to the guard-tent at once, I will send a file of soldiers after him.” The officer appeared very soon. I refer to these incidents to show simply that the men of other regiments received reprimands as well as those of my own.

April, 6

Late in the evening the officers of the regiment, with the string band, started on a serenading expedition. After playing sundry airs and singing divers songs, Ethiopian and otherwise, at the residence of a Mr. Warren, Miss Julia Gurnie, sister of Mrs. Warren, appeared on the veranda and made to us a very pretty Union speech. After a general introduction to the family and a cordial reception, we bade them good-night, and started for another portion of the village. On the way thither we dropped into the store of a Mr. Armstrong, and imbibed rather copiously of apple-jack, to protect us against the night air, which, by the way, is always dangerous when apple-jack is convenient. After thus fortifying ourselves, we proceeded to the residence of a Mr. [128] Storey. His doors were thrown open, and we entered his parlors. Here we had the honor to be introduced to Miss Storey, a handsome young lady, and Lieutenant O'Brien, nephew of Parson Brownlow.

Lieutenant O'Brien is an officer of the rebel army. He accompanied Parson Brownlow to Nashville under a flag of truce, and has been loitering on his way back until the present time. He wears the Confederate gray, and when we entered the room was seated on the sofa with Miss Storey. After being introduced in due form, I placed myself by the young lady and endeavored to at least divide her attention with my Confederate friend. The apple-jack dilated most engagingly on the remarkable beauty of the evening, the pleasantness of the weather generally, and the delightfulness of Shelbyville. There was a piano in the room, and finally, after having occupied her attention jointly with O'Brien for some time, I took the liberty to ask her to favor us with a song; but she pleaded an awful cold, and asked to be excused. The apple-jack excused her. The Storeys are pleasant people, and I trust that, full as we were, we did nothing to lessen their respect for us.

From Mr. Storey's we went to the house of Mr. Cooper, President of the Shelbyville Bank, but were not invited in, the family having retired.

Our last call was at the residence of Mr. Weasner, whilom member of the Tennessee Legislature. The doors were here thrown open, and a cordial invitation given us to enter. A pitcher of good wine was set out, and soon after Miss Weasner, a very pretty young lady, [129] appeared, and played and sang many patriotic songs. When finally we bade this pleasant family good night, it was bordering on the Sabbath, and we returned to camp.

April, 7

Colonel Kennett, at the head of three hundred cavalry, made a dash into the country toward the Tennessee river, captured and destroyed a train on a branch of the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, and returned to camp to-night with fifteen prisoners.

April, 8

Party at Mr. Warren's, to which many of the officers have gone.

April, 9

Moved at six o'clock in the morning. Roads sloppy, and in many places overflowed. Marched sixteen miles.

April, 10

Resumed the march at six o'clock A. M. Reached Fayetteville at noon. Passed through the town and encamped one mile beyond. General Mitchell, with Turchin's and Sill's brigades and two batteries, left for Huntsville on our arrival.

There are various and contradictory rumors afloat respecting the condition of affairs at Shiloh. The rebel sympathizers here are jubilant over what they claim is reliable intelligence, that our army has been surprised and defeated. Another report, coming via Nashville, says that a part of our army was terribly beaten on Sunday; but reinforcements arriving on Monday, the rebels were driven back, and our losses of the first day retrieved.

A courier arrived about dark with dispatches for General Mitchell; but they were forwarded to him unopened.


April, 13

Confused and unsatisfactory accounts still reach us of the great battle at Pittsburg Landing.

It is strange what fortune, good or ill, our division has had. Taking the lead at Green river, we doubted not that a battle awaited us at Bowling Green. In advance again on the march to Nashville, we were sure of fighting when we reached that place. Starting again, the division pushed on alone to Murfreesboro, Shelbyville, Fayetteville, and finally to Huntsville and Decatur, Alabama, at each place expecting a battle, and yet meeting with no opposition. With but one division upon this line, we looked for hard work and great danger, and yet have found neither. As we advanced the honors we expected to win have receded or gone elsewhere, to be snatched up by other divisions. The boys say the Third is fated never to see a battle; that the Third Ohio in Mexico saw no fighting; that there is something magical in the number which preserves it from all danger.

April, 14

The Fifteenth Kentucky remains here. The Third and Tenth Ohio moved at three in the afternoon. Roads bad and progress slow. Bivouacked for the night near a distillery. Many of the men drunk; the Tenth Ohio particularly wild.

April, 15

Resumed the march at six in the morning. Passed the plantation of Leonidas Polk Walker. He is said to be the wealthiest man in North Alabama. His domain extends for fifteen miles along the road. The overseer's house and the negro huts near it make quite a village.

Met a good many young men returning from [131] Corinth and Pittsburg Landing. Quite a number of them had been in the Sunday's battle, and, being wounded, had been sent back to Huntsville. General Mitchell had captured and released them on parole. Some had their heads bandaged, others their arms, while others, unable to walk, were conveyed in wagons. As they passed, our men made many good-natured remarks, as, “Well, boys, you're tired of soldiering, ar'n't you?” “Goin‘ home on furlough, eh?” “Played out.” “Another bold soger boy!” “See the soger!”

At one point a hundred or more colored people, consisting of men, women, and children, flocked to the roadside. The band struck up, and they accompanied the regiment for a mile or more, crowding and jostling each other in their endeavors to keep abreast of the music. The boys were wonderfully amused, and addressed to the motley troupe all the commands known to the volunteer service: “Steady on the right ;” “Guide center;” “Forward, double quick.”

Reached Huntsville at five in the afternoon.

April, 16

Just after sunset Colonel Keifer and I strolled into the town, stopped at the hotel for a moment, where we saw a rebel officer in his gray uniform running about on parole. Visited the railroad depot, where some two hundred rebels are confined. The prisoners were variously engaged; some chatting, others playing cards, while a few of a more devotional turn were singing

Come thou fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing thy praise.


By his timely arrival General Mitchell cut a division of rebel troops in two. Four thousand got by, and were thus enabled to join the rebel army at Corinth, while about the same number were obliged to return to Chattanooga.

April, 20

At Decatur. The Memphis and Charleston Railroad crosses the Tennessee river at this point. Tile town is a dilapidated old concern, as ugly as Huntsville is handsome.

There is a canebrake near the camp, and every soldier in the regiment has provided himself with a fishing-rod; very long, straight, beautiful rods they are, too.

The white rebel, who has done his utmost to bring about the rebellion, is lionized, called a plucky fellow, a great man, while the negro, who welcomes us, who is ready to peril his life to aid us, is kicked, cuffed, and driven back to his master, there to be scourged for his kindness to us. Billy, my servant, tells me that a colored man was whipped to death by a planter who lives near here, for giving information to our men. I do not doubt it. We worm out of these poor creatures a knowledge of the places where stores are secreted, or compel them to serve as guides, and then turn them out to be scourged or murdered. There must be a change in this regard before we shall be worthy of success.

April, 21

A detachment went to Somerville yesterday. While searching for buried arms forty-two hundred dollars, in gold, silver, and bank-notes, were found. [133] The money is, undoubtedly, private property, and will, I presume, be returned to the owner.

Fine, large fish are caught in the Tennessee. We have a buffalo for supper — a good sort of fish-weighing six pounds.

General Mitchell has been made a Major-General. He is a deserving officer. No other man with so few troops has ventured so far into the enemy's country, and accomplished so much. Battles if they result favorably are great helps to the cause, but the general who by a bold dash accomplishes equally imporant results, without loss of life, is entitled to as great praise certainly as he who fights and wins a victory.

Colonel Keifer and I have been on horseback most of the afternoon, examining all the roads leading from Decatur. On our way back to camp we called at Mr. Rather's. He was a member of the Alabama Senate, favored the secession movement, but claims now to be heartily sorry for it. He received us cordially; introduced us to to Mrs. Rather, brought in wine of his own manufacture, and urged us to drink heartily.

April, 23

A beautiful day has gone by and a beautiful starlit night has come. The camp is very still. The melody of the frog, if melody it can be called, and the ripple of the Tennessee, are the only sounds to be heard. Thoughts of home and the quiet evenings; of youth and the gay visions; of the thousand and one pleasant scenes in life; of what we might have been and where we might have been, had the cards of our life been shuffled differently; of the deeds we might do, if peradventure the opportunity [134] were offered, and the little we have done; all come up to-night, and we chew the cud over and over, without being able to determine whether it is bitter or sweet.

The enemy, three hundred strong, made a dash on our picket last night, wounded one man, and made an unsuccessful effort to retake a bridge.

April, 24

Our forces are on the alert. I lay down in my clothes last night, or rather this morning, for it was between one and two o'clock when I retired. The division is stretched over a hundred miles of railway, but in position to concentrate in a few hours.

Before leaving this place, the rebels built a cotton fort, using in its construction probably five hundred bales.

To-day we filled the bridge over the Tennessee with combustible material, and put it in condition to burn readily, in case we find it necessary to retire to the north side.

A man with his son and two daughters arrived tonight from Chattanooga, having come all the wayone hundred and fifty miles probably — in a small skiff.

April, 25

Price, with ten thousand men, is reported advancing from Memphis. Turchin had a skirmish with his advance guard near Tuscumbia.

April, 26

Turchin's brigade returned from Tuscumbia and crossed the Tennessee.

April, 27

The Tenth and Third crossed to the north side of the river, and Lieutenant-Colonel Burke of the Tenth applied the torch to the bridge; in a few [135] minutes the fire extended along its whole length, and as we marched away, the flames were hissing among its timbers, and the smoke hung like a cloud above it.

April, 28

Ordered to move to Stevenson. Took a freight train and proceeded to Bellefonte, where we found a bridge had been burned; leaving the cars we marched until twelve o'clock at night, and then bivouacked on the railroad track.

April, 29

Resumed the march at daylight; one mile beyond Stevenson we found the Ninth Brigade, Colonel Sill, in line of battle; formed the Third in support of Loomis' Battery, and remained in this position until two in the afternoon, when General Mitchell arrived and ordered the Ninth Brigade, Loomis' Battery and my regiment to move forward. At Widow's creek we met a detachment of the enemy; a few shots from the battery and a volley from our skirmish line drove it back, and we hastened on toward Bridgeport, exchanging shots occasionally with the enemy on the way.

About five o'clock we formed in line of battle, on high ground in the woods, one-half mile from Bridgeport, the Third having the right of the column, and moved steadily forward until we came in sight of the town and the enemy. The order to double quick was then given, and we dashed into the village on a run. The enemy stood for a moment and then left as fast as legs could carry him; in fact he departed in such haste that but few muskets and one shot from a six pound gun were fired at us; one pipe of his artillery [136] was found still loaded. We captured fifty prisoners, a number of horses, two pieces of artillery and many muskets. The bridge over the Tennessee had already been filled with combustible material, and when the rear of the rebel column passed over the match was applied; the fire extended rapidly, and we found it impossible to proceed further.

The fright of the enemy was so great that, after getting beyond the river a mile or more, he threw away over a thousand muskets, and abandoned every thing that could impede his flight. Unfortunately, however, before a raft could be constructed to convey our troops across the river, the rebels recovered from their panic, backed down a railroad train, and gathered up most of their arms and camp equipage.

A little more coolness on the part of our troops would have enabled us to capture twenty-five or thirty cavalrymen, who came riding into Bridgeport, supposing it to be still in the hands of their friends. As they approached, a few scattering shots were fired at them by the excited soldiers, when they wheeled and succeeded in making their escape.

April, 30

The troops are short of provisions; there is a grist mill near, but the owner claims that it is out of repair, and can not be put in running order for some days, as part of the machinery is missing. On inquiry, I found that the owner of the mill was a rebel, and that the missing machinery had probably been hidden by himself. I therefore said to him that if he did not have the mill going by noon, I would burn it down; [137] by ten o'clock it was running, and at three in the afternoon we had an abundance of corn meal.

A detachment of the Third under Colonel Keifer crossed the river and reconnoitered the country beyond. It found no enemy, but returned to camp with an abundance of bacon — an article very greatly needed by our troops.

Started at nine o'clock P. M. for Stevenson; marched all night. Whenever we stopped on the way to rest, the boys would fall asleep on the roadside, and we found much difficulty in getting them through. [138]

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O. M. Mitchell (7)
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