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February, 1863.

February, 3

This has been the coldest day of the season in this latitude. The ground is frozen hard. I made the round of the picket line after dinner, and was thoroughly chilled. Visited the hospital this evening. Young Willets, of the Third, whom I thought getting along well before I left for home, died two days before my return. Benedict is dead, and Glenn, poor fellow, will go next. His leg is in a sling, and he is compelled to lie in one position all the time. Mortification has set in, and he can not last more than a day or two. Murfreesboro is one great hospital, filled with Nationals and Confederates.

February, 4

At noon cannonading began on our left and front, and continued with intervals until sunset. I have heard no explanation of the firing, but think it probable our troops started up the Shelbyville road to reconnoiter, discovered the enemy, and a small fight ensued.

February, 5

It is said the enemy came within six miles of Murfreesboro yesterday, and attacked a forage train.

The weather has been somewhat undecided, and far from agreeable.

February, 6

A lot of rebel papers, dated January 31st, have [217] been brought in. They contain many extracts clipped from the Northern Democratic press, and the Southern soul is jubilant over the fact that a large party in Ohio and Indiana denounce President Lincoln. The rebels infer from this that the war must end soon, and the independence of the Southern States be acknowledged. Our friends at home should not give aid and comfort to the enemy. They may excite hopes which, in time, they will themselves be compelled to help crush.

February, 7

Few of the men who started home when I did have returned. The General is becoming excited on the subject of absentees. From General Thomas' corps alone there are sixteen thousand men absent, sick, pretending to be sick, or otherwise. Of my brigade there are sixteen hundred men present for duty, and over thirteen hundred absent — nearly onehalf away. The condition of other brigades is similar. If a man once gets away, either into hospital or on detached duty, it is almost impossible to get him back again to his regiment. A false excuse, backed up by the false statement of a family physician, has hitherto been accepted; but hereafter, I am told, it will not be. Uncle Sam can not much longer stand the drain upon his finances which these malingerers occasion, and his reputation suffers also, for he can not do with fifty thousand men what it requires one hundred thousand to accomplish.

People may say Rosecrans had at the battle of Murfreesboro nearly one hundred regiments. A regiment [218] should contain a thousand men; in a hundred regiments, therefore, there should have been one hundred thousand men. With this force he should have swallowed Bragg; but they must understand that the largest of these regiments did not contain over five hundred men fit for duty, and very many not over three hundred. The men in hospital, the skulkers at home, and the skedaddlers here, count only on the muster and pay-rolls; our friends at home should remember, therefore, that when they take a soldier by the land who should be with his regiment, and say to him, “Poor fellow, you have seen hard times enough, stay a little longer, the army will not miss you,” that some other poor fellow, too brave and manly to shirk, shivers through the long winter hours at his own post, and then through other long hours at the post of the absentee, thus doing double duty; and they should bear in mind, also, that in battle this same poor fellow has to fight for two, and that battles are lost, the war prolonged, and the National arms often disgraced, by reason of the absence of the men whom they encourage to remain at home a day or two longer. If every Northern soldier able to do duty would do it, Rosecrans could sweep to Mobile in ninety days; but with this skeleton of an army, we rest in doubt and idleness. There is a screw loose somewhere.

February, 10

Fortifications are being constructed. My men are working on them.

Just now I heard the whistle of a locomotive, on the opposite side of the river. This is the first intimation [219] we have had of the completion of the road to this point. The bridge will be finished in a day or two, and then the trains will arrive and depart from Murfreesboro regularly.

February, 11

Called at Colonel Wilder's quarters, and while there met General J. J. Reynolds. He made a brief allusion to the Stalnaker times. On my return to camp, I stopped for a few minutes at Department Headquarters to see Garfield. General Rosecrans came into the room; but, as I was dressed in citizens' clothes, did not at first recognize me. Garfield said: “General Rosecrans, Colonel Beatty.” The General took me by the hand, turned my face to the light, and said he did not have a fair view of me before. “Well,” he continued, “you are a general now, are you?” I told him I was not sure yet, and he said: “Is it uncertainty or modesty that makes you doubt?” “Uncertainty.” “Well,” he replied, “you and Sam Beatty have both been recommended. I guess it will be all right.” He invited me to remain for supper, but I declined.

February, 16

To-day I rode over the battle-field, starting at the river and following the enemy's line off to their left, then crossing over on to the right of our line, and following it to the left. For miles through the woods evidences of the terrible conflict meet one at every step. Trees peppered with bullet and buckshot, and now and then one cut down by cannon ball; unexploded shell, solid shot, dead horses, broken caissons, haversacks, old shoes, hats, fragments of muskets, and unused cartridges, are to be seen everywhere. [220] In an open space in the oak woods is a long strip of fresh earth, in which forty-one sticks are standing, with intervals between them of perhaps a foot. Here forty-one poor fellows lie under the fresh earth, with nothing but the forty-one little sticks above to mark the spot. Just beyond this are twentyfive sticks, to indicate the last resting-place of twentyfive brave men; and so we found these graves in the woods, meadows, corn-fields, cotton-fields, everywhere. We stumbled on one grave in a solitary spot in the thick cedars, where the sunshine never penetrates. At the head of the little mound of freshly earth a round stick was standing, and on the top of this was an old felt hat; the hat still doing duty over the head, if not on the head, of the dead soldier who lay there. The rain and sun and growing vegetation of one summer will render it impossible to find these graves. The grass will cover the fresh earth, the sticks will either rot or become displaced, and then there will be nothing to indicate that-

Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Hands that the rod of empire might have swayed,
Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre.

February, 17

The army is turning its attention to politics somewhat. Generals and colonels are ventilating their opinions through the press. I think their letters may have good effect upon the people at home, and prevent them from discouraging the army and crippling the Administration. Surely the effort now [221] being put forth by a great party in the North to convince the troops in the field that this is an unjust war, an abolition or nigger war, must have a tendency to injure the army, and, if persisted in, may finally ruin it.

February, 19

Work on the fortifications still continues. This is to be a depot of supplies, and there are provisions enough already here to subsist the army for a month. Now that the Cumberland is high, and the railroads in running order, any amount of supplies may be brought through.

Expeditions go out occasionally to different parts of the country, and slight affairs occur, which are magnified into serious engagements; but really nothing of any importance has transpired since we obtained possession of Murfreesboro. A day or two ago we had an account of an expedition into the enemy's country by the One Hundred and Twenty-third Illinois, Colonel Monroe commanding. According to this veracious report, the Colonel had a severe fight, killed a large number of the enemy, and captured three hundred stand of arms; but the truth is, that he did not take time to count the rebel dead, and the arms taken were one hundred old muskets found in a house by the roadside.

The expeditions sent out to capture John Morgan have all been failures. His own knowledge of the country is thorough, and besides, he has in his command men from every neighborhood, who know not only every road and cow-path in the locality, but every man, woman, and child. The people serve [222] him also, by advising him of all our movements. They guide him to our detachments when they are weak, and warn him away from them when strong. Were the rebel army in Ohio, and as bitterly hated by the people of that State as the Nationals are by those of Kentucky and Tennessee, it would be an easy matter indeed to hang upon the skirts of that army, pick up stragglers, burn bridges, attack wagon trains, and now and then pounce down on an outlying picket and take it in.

February, 20

Colonel Lytle, my old brigade commander, called on me to-day. He informed me that he had not been assigned yet. I inferred from this that he thought it utterly impossible for one so distinguished as himself to come down to a regiment. His own regiment, the Tenth Ohio, is here, and nominally a part of my brigade, although it has not acted with it since Rosecrans assumed command of the Army of the Cumberland. Under Lieutenant-Colonel Burke, it is doing guard duty at Department Headquarters. [223]

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