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August, 1862.

August, 1

The Judge-Advocate, Captain Swayne, was unwell this morning. The court, therefore, took a recess until three o'clock. Captain Edgerton's case was disposed of last evening. Colonel Mihalotzy's will come before us to-day. A courtmartial proceeds always with due respect to red tape. The questions to witnesses are written out; the answers are written down; the statement of the accused is in writing, and the defense of the accused's counsel is written; so that the court snaps its fingers at time, as if it were of no consequence, and seven men, against whom there are no charges, are likely to spend their natural lives in investigating seven men, more or less, against whom there are charges. It is thus the rebels are being subjugated, the Union re-united, the Constitution and the laws enforced.

August, 3

Among the curiosities in camp are two young coons and a pet opossum. The latter is the property of Augustus Caesar, the esquire of Adjutant Wilson. Caesar restrains the opossum with a string, and looks forward with great pleasure to the time when he will be fat enough to eat. The coons are just now playing on the wild cherry tree in front [167] of my tent, and several colored boys are watching them with great interest. One of these, a native Alabamian, tells me “de coon am a great fiter; he can wip a dog berry often; but de possum can wip de coon, for he jist takes one holt on de coon, goes to sleep, an‘ nebber lets go; de coon he scratch an‘ bite, but de possum he nebber min‘; he keeps his holt, shuts his eyes, and bimelby de coon he knocks under. De she coon am savager dan de he coon. I climbed a tree onct, an‘ de she coon come out ob her hole mitey savage, an‘ I leg go, an‘ tumbled down to de groun‘, and like ter busted my head. De she coon am berry savage. De possum can't run berry fast, but de coon can run faster'n a dog. You can tote a possum, but you can't tote a coon, he scratch an‘ bite so.”

The gentlemen of the South have a great fondness for jewelry, canes, cigars, and dogs. Out of forty white men thirty-nine, at least, will have canes, and on Sunday the fortieth will have one also. White men rarely work here. There are, it is true, tailors, merchants, saddlers, and jewelers, but the whites never drive teams, work in the fields, or engage in what may be termed rough work.

Judging from the number of stores and present stocks, Huntsville, in the better times, does a heavier retail jewelry business than Cleveland or Columbus. Every planter, and every wealthy or even well-to-do man, has plate. Diamonds, rings, gold watches, chains, and bracelets are to be found in every family. The negroes buy large amounts of cheap jewelry, and [168] the trade in this branch is enormous. One may walk a whole day in a Northern city without seeing a ruffled shirt. Here they are very common.

The case of Colonel Mihalotzy was concluded to-day.

August, 5

General Ammen was a teacher for years at West Point, at Natchez, Mississippi, in Kentucky, Indiana, and recently at Ripley, Ohio. He has devoted particular attention to the education of children, and has no confidence in the usual mode of teaching them. He labors to strengthen or cultivate, first: attention, and to this end never allows their interest in anything to flag; whenever he discovers that their minds have become weary of a subject, he takes the book from them and turns their thought in a new direction. Nor does he allow their attention to be divided between two or three objects at the same time. By his method they acquire the power to concentrate their whole mind upon a given subject. The next thing to be cultivated is observation; teach them to notice whatever may be around, and describe it. What did you see when you came up street? The child may answer a pig. What is a pig, how did it look, describe it. Saw a man, did you? Was he large or small? How was he dressed? A room? What is a room? Thus will they be taught to observe everything, and to talk about what they observe, and learn not only to think but to express their thoughts. He often amuses them by what he terms opposites. To illustrate: He will say “black,” the child will answer “white.” Long, short; good, bad; heavy, [169] light; dark, light. “What kind of light,” he will ask, “is that kind which is the opposite of heavy?” Here is a puzzle for them. Next in importance to observation, and to be strengthened at the same time, is the memory. They are required to learn little pieces; short stories perhaps, or songs that their minds can comprehend; not too long, for neither the memory nor the attention should be overtaxed.

August, 7

As General Ammen and I were returning to camp this evening, we were joined by Colonel Fry, of General Buell's staff, who informed us that General Robert McCook was murdered, near Winchester, yesterday, by a small band of guerrillas. McCook was unwell, riding in an ambulance some distance in advance of the column; while stopping in front of a farm-house to make some enquiry, the guerrillas made a sudden dash, the escort fled, and McCook was killed while lying in the ambulance defenseless. When the Dutchmen of his old regiment learned of the unfortunate occurrence they became uncontrollable, and destroyed the buildings and property on five plantations near the scene of the murder. McCook had recently been promoted for gallantry at Mill Springs. He was a brave, bluff, talented man, and his loss will be sorely felt.

Captain Mitchell started home in charge of a recruiting party this morning. I am anxious to fill the regiment to a thousand strong.

August, 8

General Ammen was at Buell's quarters this evening, and ascertains that hot work is expected soon. [170] The enemy is concentrating a heavy force between Bridgeport and Chattanooga.

The night is exceedingly beautiful; our camp lies at the foot of a low range of mountains called the Montesano; the sky seems supported by them. A cavalry patrol is just coming down the road, on its return to camp, and the men are singing:

An exile from home, splendor dazzles in vain,
Oh! give me my lowly thatched cottage again;
The birds singing gayly, that came at my call,
Give me them, with the peace of mind dearer than all.
Home, home, sweet home, there is no place like home;
There is no place like home.

August, 9

I have sometimes wondered how unimportant occurences could suggest so much, but the faculty of association brings similar things before the mind, and a thousand collateral subjects as well. The band of the Tenth Ohio is playing. Where, and under what circumstances, have I heard other bands? The question carries my thoughts into half the States of the Union, into a multitude of places, into an innumerable variety of scenes-faces, conversations, theatres, balls, speeches, songs — the chain is endless, and it might be followed for a lifetime.

August, 10

The enemy, a thousand strong, is said to be within five miles of us. One hundred and sixty-five men of the Third, under Major Lawson, and five companies of cavalry, the whole commanded by Colonel Kennett, left at two o'clock to reconnoiter the [171] front; they will probably go to the river unless the enemy is met on the way.

A negro came in about four o'clock to report that the enemy's pickets were at his master's house, five miles from here, at the foot of the other slope of the mountain. He was such an ignorant fellow that his report was hardly intelligible. We sent him back, telling him to bring us more definite information. He was a field hand, bare-footed, horny-handed, and very black, but he knew all about “de mountings; dey can't kotch him nohow. If de sesesh am at Massa Bob's when I git back, I come to-night an‘ tell yer all.” With these words, this poor proprietor of a dilapidated pair of pants and shirt, started over the mountains. What are his thoughts about the war, and its probable effects on his own fortunes, as he trudges along over the hills? Is it the desire for freedom, or the dislike for his overseer, that prompts him to run five miles of a Sunday to give this information? Possibly both.

Caesar said to the Adjutant, “Massa Wilson, may I go to church?” “What do you want to go church for, Caesar?” “To hear de Gospel.” One day Caesar said to me, “Co'nel, you belongs to de meetin don't you?” “Why so, Caesar?” “Kase I nebber heard you swar any.”

To-day one of the pet coons got after a chicken. A young half-naked negro took after the coon; and a long and crooked chase the chicken, coon, and negro had of it.

August, 12

At five o'clock the members of the court met [172] to say good-by, and drink a dozen bottles of Scotch ale at General Ammen's expense. This was quite a spree for the General, and quite his own spree. It was a big thing, equal almost to the battle of “Shealoh.” They were pint bottles, and the General would persist in acting upon the theory that one bottle would fill all our glasses. Seeing the glasses empty he would call for another bottle, and say to us, “Gentlemen, I have ordered another bottle.” The General evidently drinks, when he imbibes at all, simply to be social, and a thimble-full would answer his purpose as well as a barrel.

The court called on General Buell; he is cold, smooth-toned, silent, the opposite of Nelson, who is ardent, loud-mouthed, and violent.

August, 17

Colonel Keifer has just received a telegram informing him that he has been appointed Colonel of the One Hundred and Tenth Ohio. I regret his departure too much to rejoice over his promotion. He has been a faithful officer, always prompt and cheerful; much better qualified to command the regiment than its Colonel.

Watermelons, peaches, nectarines, are abundant. Peaches thrive better in this climate than apples. I have eaten almost the whole of a watermelon to-day, and am somewhat satiated. The melon had a cross (+) on the rind. I enquired of the negro who brought it in, what the mark meant, and he replied, “de patch war owned principally by a good many niggars, sah, an‘ dey dewided dem afore day got ripe, [173] an‘ put de mark on de rine, to show dat de p'tic'lar melon belonged to a p'tic'lar niggar, sah.”

Governor Tod is damaging the old regiments by injudicious promotions. He does in some instances, it is true, reward faithful soldiers; but often complaining, unwilling, incompetent fellows are promoted, who get upon the sick list to avoid duty; lay upon their backs when they should be on their feet, and are carousing when they should be asleep. On the march, instead of pushing along resolutely at the head of their command, they fall back and get into an ambulance. The troops have no confidence in them; their presence renders a whole company worthless, and this company contributes greatly to the demoralization of a regiment.

August, 22

A little vine has crept into my tent and put out a handsome flower.

General Buell and staff, with bag and baggage, left this morning.

August, 25

Ordered to move.

August, 29

We are at Decherd, Tennessee. I am weak, discouraged, and worn out with idleness.

The negroes are busily engaged throwing up earth works and building stockades. To-night, as they were in line, I stopped a moment to hear the sergeant call the roll, “Scipio McDonald.” “Here I is, sah,” “CaesarCaesar McDonald.” “Caesar was ‘sleep las' I saw ob him, sah.” These negroes take the family name of their masters.

The whole army is concentrated here, or near here; but nobody knows anything, except that the water is [174] bad, whisky scarce, dust abundant, and the air loaded with the scent and melody of a thousand mules. These long-eared creatures give us every variety of sound of which they are capable, from the deep bass bray to the most attenuated whinny.

The Thirty-third Ohio was shelled out of its fortifications at Battle creek yesterday. Colonel Moore is in the adjoining tent, giving an account of his trials and tribulations to Shanks of the New York Herald.

Fifty of the Third, under Lieutenant Carpenter, went to Stevenson yesterday; on their return they were fired upon by guerrillas. Jack Boston shot a man and captured a horse. [175]

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