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July, 1862.

July, 2

We know, or think we know, that a great battle has been fought near Richmond, but the result for some reason is withheld. We speculate, talk, and compare notes, but this makes us only the more eager for definite information.

I am almost as well as ever, not quite so strong, but a few days will make me right again.

July, 3

It is exceedingly dull; we are resting as quietly and leisurely as we could at home. There are no drills, and no expeditions. The army is holding its breath in anxiety to hear from Richmond. If McClellan has been whipped, the country must in time know it; if successful, it would be rejoiced to hear it. Why, therefore, should the particulars, and even the result of the fighting, be suppressed. Rumor gives us a thousand conflicting stories of the battle, but rumor has many tongues and lies with all.

General Mitchell departed for Washington yesterday.

The rebels at Chattanooga claim that McClellan has been terribly whipped, and fired guns along their whole line, within hearing of our troops, in honor of the victory.

A lieutenant of the Nineteenth Illinois, who fell [149] into the enemy's hands, has just returned on parole, and claims to have seen a dispatch from the AdjutantGeneral of the Southern Confederacy, stating that McClellan had been defeated and his army cut to pieces. He believes it.

My horse is as fat as a stall-fed ox. He has had a very easy time during my absence.

To-morrow is the Fourth, hitherto glorious, but now, like to-day's meridian sun, clouded, and sending out a somewhat uncertain light. Has the great experiment failed? Shall we hail the Fourth as the birthday of a great Nation, or weep over it as the beginning of a political enterprise which resulted in dissolution, anarchy and ruin? Let us lift up our eyes and be hopeful. The dawn may be even now breaking.

The boys propose to have a barbecue to-morrow, and roast a corpulent, good-natured Ethiopian, named Caesar. They are now discussing the matter very voluminously, in Caesar's presence. He thinks they are probably joking; but still they seem to be greatly in earnest, and he knows little of these Yankees, and thinks maybe his “massa tole him de truff about dem, after all.” “The Fourth is a great day,” the boys go on to say, “whereon Yankees always dine on roast nigger. It is a part of their religion. It is this which makes colored folks so scarce in the North.” Shall Caesar be stuffed or not? That is really the only question. One party claims that if Caesar be stuffed with vegetables and nicely roasted, he will be delicious. The other party insists that Caesar is sufficiently [150] stuffed already; vegetables would not improve him. They have eaten roast nigger both ways and know. So the discussion waxes hot, and the dusky Alabamian has some fear, even, that his last day may be drawing very near.

July, 4

Thirty-four guns were fired at noon.

July, 5

An Atlanta paper of the 1st instant says the Confederates have won a decisive victory at Richmond. No Northern papers have been allowed to come into camp.

July, 6

McCook moved toward Chattanooga. General W. S. Smith has command of our division.

The boys have a great many game chickens. Not long ago Company G, of the Third, and Company G, of the Tenth, had a rooster fight, the stakes being fifteen dollars a side. After numerous attacks, retreats, charges, and counter-charges, the Tenth rooster succumbed like a hero, and the other was carried in triumph from the field. General Mitchell made his appearance near the scene at the conclusion of the conflict; but, supposing the crowd to be an enthusiastic lot of soldiers who were cheering him, passed on, well pleased with them and himself.

The boys have a variety of information from Richmond to-day. One party affirms that McClellan has been cut to pieces; that a dispatch to that effect has been received by General Buell. Another insists that he has obtained a decided advantage, and is heating the shot to burn Richmond; while still another affirms that he has utterly destroyed Richmond, [151] and, Marius-like, is sitting amid the ruins of that illfated city, eating sow belly and doe-christers.

July, 7

Am detailed to serve on court-martial.

Detail for the court.

General James A. Garfield.
Colonel Jacob Ammen.
Colonel Curren Pope.
Colonel Jones.
Colonel Marc Mundy.
Colonel Sedgewick.
Colonel John Beatty.

Convened at Athens at ten o'clock this morning. Organized and adjourned to meet at ten to-morrow.

General Buell proposes, I understand, to give General Mitchell's administration of affairs in North Alabama a thorough overhauling. It is asserted that the latter has been interested in cotton speculations; but investigation, I am well satisfied, will show that General Mitchell has been strictly honest, and has done nothing to compromise his honor, or cast even the slightest shadow upon his good name.

The first case to be tried is that of Colonel J. B. Turchin, Nineteenth Illinois. He is charged with permitting his command, the Eighth Brigade, to steal, rob, and commit all manner of outrages.

July, 10

Our court has been adjourning from day to day, until Colonel Turchin should succeed in procuring counsel; but it is now in full blast.

Nelson's division is quartered here. The town is enveloped in a dense cloud of dust.


July, 14

There are many wealthy planters in this section. One of the witnesses before our court has a cotton crop on hand worth sixty thousand dollars. Another swears that Turchin's brigade robbed him of twelve hundred dollars' worth of silver plate.

Turchin's brigade has stolen a hundred thousand dollars' worth of watches, plate, and jewelry, in Northern Alabama. Turchin has gone to one extreme, for war can not justify the gutting of private houses and the robbery of peaceable citizens, for the benefit of individual officers or soldiers; but there is another extreme, more amiable and pleasant to look upon, but not less fatal to the cause. Buell is likely to go to that. He is inaugurating the dancing-master policy: “By your leave, my dear sir, we will have a fight; that is, if you are sufficiently fortified; no hurry; take your own time.” To the bushwhacker: “Am sorry you gentlemen fire at our trains from behind stumps, logs, and ditches. Had you not better cease this sort of warfare? Now do, my good fellows, stop, I beg of you.” To the citizen rebel: “You are a chivalrous people; you have been aggravated by the abolitionists into subscribing cotton to the Southern Confederacy; you had, of course, a right to dispose of your own property to suit yourselves, but we prefer that you would, in future, make no more subscriptions of that kind, and in the meantime we propose to protect your property and guard your negroes.” Turchin's policy is bad enough; it may indeed be the policy of the devil; but Buell's policy is that of the amiable idiot. There is a better policy than either. [153] It will neither steal nor maraud; it will do nothing for the sake of individual gain, and, on the other hand, it will not crouch to rebels; it will not fear to hurt the feelings of traitors; it will not fritter away the army and the revenue of the Government in the insane effort to protect men who have forfeited all right to protection. The policy we need is one that will march boldly, defiantly, through the rebel States, indifferent as to whether this traitor's cotton is safe, or that traitor's negroes run away; calling things by their right names; crushing those who have aided and abetted treason, whether in the army or out. In short, we want an iron policy that will not tolerate treason; that will demand immediate and unconditional obedience as the price of protection.

July, 15

The post at Murfreesboro, occupied by two regiments of infantry and one battery, under Crittenden, of Indiana, has surrendered to the enemy. A bridge and a portion of the railroad track between this place and Pulaski have been destroyed. A large rebel force is said to be north of the Tennessee. It crossed the river at Chattanooga.

July, 18

The star of the Confederacy appears to be rising, and I doubt not it will continue to ascend until the rose-water policy now pursued by the Northern army is superseded by one more determined and vigorous. We should look more to the interests of the North, and less to those of the South. We should visit on the aiders, abettors, and supporters of the Southern army somewhat of the severity which hitherto has been aimed at that army only. Who are [154] most deserving of our leniency, those who take arms and go to the field, or those who remain at home, raising corn, oats, and bacon to subsist them? Plain people, who know little of constitutional hair-splitting, could decide this question only one way; but it seems those who have charge of our armies can not decide it in any sensible way. They say: “You would not disturb peaceable citizens by levying contributions from them?” Why not? If the husbands, brothers, and fathers of these people, their natural leaders and guardians, do not care for them, why should we? If they disregard and trample upon that law which gave all protection, and plunge the country into war, why should we be perpetually hindered and thwarted in our efforts to secure peace by our care for those whom they have abandoned? If we make th country through which we pass furnish supplies to our army, the inhabitants will have less to furnish our enemies. The surplus products of the country should be gathered into the Federal granaries, so that they could not, by possibility, go to feed the rebels. The loyal and innocent might occasionally and for the present suffer, but peace when once establshed would afford ample opportunity to investigate and repay these sufferers. Shall we continue to protect the property of our enemies, and lose the lives of our friends? It is said that it is hard to deprive men of their horses, cattle, grain, simply because they differ from us in opinion; but is it not harder still to deprive men of their lives for the same reason? The opinions from which we differ in this instance are [155] treasonable. The man who, of his own free will, supplies the wood is no whit better than he who kindles the fire; and the man who supplies the ammunition neither better nor worse than he who does the killing. The severest punishment should be inflicted upon the soldier who appropriates either private or public property to his own use; but the Government should lay its mailed hand upon treasonable communities, and teach them that war is no holiday pastime.

July, 19

Returned to Huntsville this afternoon; General Garfield with me. He will visit our quarters tomorrow and dine with us.

General Rousseau has been assigned to the command of our division. I am glad to hear that he discards the rose-water policy of General Buell under his nose, and is a great deal more thorough and severe in his treatment of rebels than General Mitchell. He sent the Rev. Mr. Ross to jail to-day for preaching a secession sermon last Sunday. He damns the rebel sympathizers, and says if the negro stands in the way of the Union he must get out. Rousseau is a Kentuckian, and it is very encouraging to learn that he talks as he does.

Turchin has been made a brigadier.

July, 21

An order issued late last evening transferring our court from Athens to Huntsville.

Colonel Turchin's case is still before us. No official notice of his promotion has been communicated to the court.

July, 23

Garfield and Ammen are our guests. They [156] are sitting with Colonel Keifer, in the open air, in front of our tent. We have eaten supper, and Colonel Ammen has the floor; he always has it. He is somewhat superstitious. He never likes to see the moon through brush. He is to some extent a believer in dreams. On one occasion he dreamed that his father, who was drowned, came up from the muddy water, looked angrily at him, and endeavored to stab him with a rusty knife. In his effort to escape he awoke. Falling to sleep again, his father reappeared and made a second attempt to stab him. This so thoroughly aroused and troubled him that he could not sleep. In the morning he told this dream to a friend, and was informed that two members of his family would soon die. Soon after he was summoned home, when he found his mother dead and his sister dying of cholera. At another time he telt a sharp pain in the back of his neck, and was impressed with the idea that he had been shot. Soon afterward he learned that his brother in the South had been shot in the back of the neck and killed. He believes that his own sensation of pain was experienced at the very instant when his brother received the fatal wound; but as he could not remember the precise hour when he was startled by the disagreeable impression, he could not be positive that the occurrences were simultaneous. When going into battle at Greenbrier and at Shiloh, the belief that his time to die had not come rendered him cool and fearless. He never felt more at ease or more secure. So when, at two different times, he was very ill, and [157] informed that he could not live through the night, he felt absolutely sure that he would recover.

Garfield had a very impressionable relative. The night before his fight with Humphrey Marshall, she wrote a very accurate general description of the battle, giving the position of the troops; referring to the reinforcements which came up, and the great shout with which they were welcomed.

These mysterious impressions suggested the existence of an undiscovered, or possibly an undeveloped principle in nature, which time and investigation would ultimately make familiar.

Colonel Ammen says, “If superstition, or a belief in the supernatural, is an indication of weakness, Napoleon and Sir Walter Scott were the weakest of men.”

With General Garfield I called on General Rousseau this morning. He is a larger and handsomer man than Mitchell, but I think lacks the latter's energy, culture, system, and industry.

July, 24

We can not boast of what is occurring in this department. The tide seems to have set against us everywhere. The week of battles before Richmond was a week of defeats. I trust the new policy indicated by the confiscation act, just passed by Congress, will have good effect. It will, at least, enable us to weaken the enemy, as we have not thus far done, and strengthen ourselves, as we have hitherto not been able to do. Slavery is the enemy's weak point, the key to his position. If we can tear down this institution, the rebels will lose all interest in the Confederacy, [158] and be too glad to escape with their lives, to be very particular about what they call their rights.

Colonel Ammen has just received notice of his confirmation as brigadier. He is a strange combination of simplicity and wisdom, full of good stories, and tells those against himself with a great deal more pleasure than any others.

Colonels Turchin, Mihalotzy, Gazley, and Captain Edgerton form a group by the window; all are smoking vigorously, and speculating probably on the result of the present and prospective trials. Mihalotzy is what is commonly termed “Dutch ;” but whether he is from the German States, Russia, Prussia, or Poland, I know not.

Ammen left camp early this morning, saying he would go to town and see if he could find an idea, he was pretty nearly run out. He talks incessantly; his narratives abound in episode, parenthesis, switches, side-cuts, and before he gets through, one will conclude a dozen times that he has forgotten the tale he entered upon, but he never does.

Colonel Stanley, Eighteenth Ohio, has just come in. He has in his time been a grave and reverend senator of Ohio; he never loses sight of this fact, and never fails to impress it upon those with whom he comes in contact.

An order has just been issued, and is now being circulated among the members of the court, purporting to come from General Ammen, and signed with his name. It recites the fact of his promotion, and forbids any one hereafter to call him Uncle Jacob, [159] that title being entirely too familiar and undignified for one of his rank. All who violate the order are threatened with the direst punishment.

The General says if such orders please the court, he will not object to their being issued; it certainly requires but very little ability to get them up.

The General prides himself on what he calls delicate irony. He says, in the town of Ripley, men who can not manage a dray successfully criticise the conduct of this and that general with great severity; when they appeal to him, he tells them quietly he has not the capacity to judge of such matters; it requires a great mind and a thorough understanding of all the circumstances.

After all I have said about General Ammen, it is hardly necessary to remark that he does most of the talking.

To-day Garfield and Keifer, who of course entertain the kindliest feelings, and the greatest respect for the General, in a spirit of fun, entered into a conspiracy against him. They proposed for one night to do all the talking themselves, and not allow him to edge in even a word. After supper Garfield was to commence with the earliest incidents of his childhood, and without allowing himself to be interrupted, continue until he had given a complete narrative of his life and adventures; then Keifer was to strike in and finish up the night. General Ammen was not to be permitted to open his mouth except to yawn.

We ate supper and immediately adjourned to the adjoining tent. Before Garfield was fairly seated on [160] his camp stool, he began to talk with the easy and deliberate manner of a man who had much to say. He dwelt eloquently on the minutest details of his early life, as if they were matters of the utmost importance. Keifer was not only an attentive listener, but seemed wonderfully interested. Uncle Jacob undertook to thrust in a word here and there, but Garfield was too much absorbed to notice him, and so pushed on steadily, warming up as he proceeded. Unfortunately for his scheme, however, before he had gone far he made a touching reference to his mother, when Uncle Jacob, gesticulating energetically, and with his forefinger leveled at the speaker, cried: “Just a word-just one word right there,” and so persisted until Garfield was compelled either to yield or be absolutely discourteous. The General, therefore, got in his word; nay, he held the floor for the remainder of the evening. The conspirators made brave efforts to put him down and cut him off, but they were unsuccessful. At midnight, when Keifer and I left, he was still talking; and after we had got into bed, he, with his suspenders dangling about his legs, thrust his head into our tent-door, and favored us with the few observations we had lost by reason of our hasty departure. Keifer turned his face to the wall and groaned. Poor man! he had been hoisted by his own petard. I think Uncle Jacob suspected that the young men had set up a job on him.

The regiment went on a foraging expedition yesterday, under Colonel Keifer, and was some fifteen miles [161] from Huntsville, in the direction of the Tennessee river.

At one o'clock last night our picket was confronted by about one hundred and fifty of the enemy's cavalry; but no shots were exchanged.

July, 29

The rebel cavalry were riding in the mountains south of us last night. A heavy mounted patrol of our troops was making the rounds at midnight. There was some picket firing along toward morning; but nothing occurred of importance.

Our forces are holding the great scope of country between Memphis and Bridgeport, guarding bridges, railroads, and towns, frittering away the strength of a great army, and wasting our men by permitting them to be picked up in detail. In short, we put down from fifty to one hundred, here and there, at points convenient to the enemy, as bait for them. They take the bait frequently, and always when they run no risk of being caught. The climate, and the insane effort to garrison the whole country, consumes our troops, and we make no progress. May the good Lord be with us, and deliver us from idleness and imbecility; and especially, O! Lord, grant a little every-day sense — that very common sense which plain people use in the management of their business affairs-to the illustrious generals who have our armies in hand!

July, 30

We have just concluded Colonel Turchin's case, and forwarded the proceedings to General Buell.

General Ammen for many years belonged to a club, the members of which were required either to sing a [162] song or tell a story. He could not sing, and, consequently, took to stories, and very few can tell one better. The General is a member of the Episcopal Church, and, although a pious man, emphasizes his language occasionally by an oath. When conducting his brigade from the boat at Pittsburg Landing to position on the field, he was compelled to pass through the immense crowd of skedaddlers who had sought shelter under the bluffs from the storm of bullets. A chaplain of one of the disorganized regiments was haranguing the mob in what may be termed the whangdoodle style: “Rally, men; rally, and we may yet be saved. O! rally! For God and your country's sake rally! R-a-l-l-y! O-h! r-a-l-l-y around the flag of your c-o-w-n-try, my c-o-wn-tryme-n!” “Shut up, you God damned old fool!” said Ammen, “or I'll break your head! Get out of the way!”

General Garfield is lying on the lounge unwell. He has an attack of the jaundice, and will, I think, start home to-morrow.

I find an article on the tables of the South, which, with coffee, I like very much. The wheat dough is rolled very thin, cut in strips the width of a tableknife, and about as long, baked until well done; if browned, all the better. They become crisp and brittle, and better than the best of crackers.

July, 31

General Ammen is so interesting to me that I can not avoid talking about him, especially when items are scarce, as they are now. Our court takes a recess at one, and assembles again at half-past 3, giving us two hours and a half for dinner. To-day [163] the conversation turned on the various grasses North and South. After the General had described the peculiar grasses of many sections, he drifted to the people South who lived on farms, where he had seen a variety of grass unknown in the North, and the following story was told:

In the part of Mississippi where he resided for a number of years, there lived a Northern family named Greenfield. When he was there the farm was known as the Greenfield farm. It was the peculiar grass on this farm which suggested the story. The Greenfields were Quakers, originally from Philadelphia. One of the wealthiest members of the family was a little weazen-faced old maid, of fifty years or more. Her overseer was a large, fine looking young man named Roach. After he had been in her service a year she took a fancy to him, and proposed to give him twenty thousand dollars if he would marry her. He accepted, and they were duly married. A year after she grew tired of wedlock, and proposed to give thirty thousand dollars to be unmarried. He accepted this proposition also. They united in a petition for a divorce and obtained it. Roach took the fifty thousand dollars thus made and invested it in the Yazoo country. The property increased in value rapidly, and he soon became a millionaire. When General Ammen saw him, he had married again more to his liking, and was one of the prominent men in his section.

The farm of the Gillyards lay near that of the Greenfields, and this suggested another story. A [164] Miss Gillyard was a great heiress; owned plantations in Mississippi, and an interest in a large estate in South Carolina. A doctor of prepossessing appearance came from the latter State, and commenced practice in the neighborhood, and an acquaintance of a few months resulted in a marriage. After living together a year very happily, they started on a visit to South Carolina; she to visit relatives and look after her interest in the estate mentioned, and he to see his friends. On the way it was agreed that he should attend to his wife's business, and so full power to sell or dispose of the property, or her interest therein, was given him. At Charleston she was met by the relatives with whom she was to remain, while the Doctor proceeded to a different part of the State to see his friends, and afterward attend to business. When about to separate, like a jolly soul, he proposed that they should drink to each other's health during the separation. The wine was produced; they touched glasses, and raised them to their lips, when the door opened suddenly and the Doctor was called. Setting his wine on the table, he stepped out of the room, and the wife, more affectionate, possibly, than most women, took the glass which his lips had touched and put her own in its place. The husband reappeared shortly, and they drank off the wine. In an hour he was dead, and she in the deepest affliction. After she had recovered somewhat from the shock, she left Charleston to visit his people. She found them poor, and that he had a wife and three children. The truth [165] then broke in upon her; he had drank the wine prepared for her.

This story suggested one involving some of Miss Gillyard's relations.

Two lady cousins resided in the same town. The father of one had amassed a handsome fortune in the tailoring business. The father of the other had been a saddler, and, carrying on the business extensively, had also become wealthy. The descendant of the saddler would refer to her cousin's father as the tailor, and intimate that his calling was certainly not that of a gentleman. The other hearing of this, and meeting her one evening at a large party, said: “Cousin Julia, I hear that you have said my father was nothing but a tailor. Now, this is true; he was a tailor, and a very good one, too. By his industry and judgment he made a large fortune, which I am enjoying. I respect him; am grateful, and not ashamed of him, if he was a tailor. Your father was a saddler, and a very good one. He, by industry and good management, accumulated great wealth, which you are enjoying. I see no reason, therefore, why we should not both be proud of our fathers, and I certainly can see no reason why a man-tailor should not be just as good as a horse-tailor.” [166]

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