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March, 1863.

March, 1

There is talk of consolidation at Washington. This is a sensible idea, and should be carried into effect at once. There are too many officers and too few men. The regiments should be consolidated, and kept full by conscription, if it can not be done otherwise. The best officers should be retained, and the others sent home to stand their chances of the draft.

A major of the Fifteenth Kentucky sent in his resignation a few days ago, assigning as a reason for so doing that the object of the war was now the elevation of the negro. The concluding paragraph of his letter was in these words: . “The service can not possibly suffer by my resignation.” The document passed through my hands on its way to Department head quarters, and I indorsed it as follows:

Major H. F. Kalfus, Fifteenth Kentucky Volunteer Infantry, being “painfully and reluctantly convinced” that the party in power is disposed to elevate the negro, desires to quit the service. I trust he will be allowed to do so, and cheerfully certify to the correctness of one statement which he makes herein, to-wit: The service can not possibly suffer by his resignation.


General Rosecrans has just sent me an order to arrest the Major, and send him under guard to the Provost-Marshal General. The arrest will be made in a few minutes, and may create some excitement among our Kentucky friends.

March, 3

The fortifications are progressing. The men work four hours each day in the trenches. The remainder of the time they spend pretty much as they see fit.

General Garfield is now chief of staff. It is the first instance in the West of an officer of his rank being assigned to that position. It is an important place, however, and one-too often held not merely by officers of inferior rank, but of decidedly inferior ability. General Buell had a colonel as chief of staff, and, until the appointment of Garfield, General Rosecrans had a lieutenant-colonel or major.

To-night an ugly and most singular specimen of the negro called to obtain employment. He was not over three feet and a half high, hump-backed, crooked-legged, and quite forty years old. Poking his head into my tent, and, taking off his hat, he said: “Is de Co'nel in?” “Yes.” “Hurd you wants a boy, sah. Man tole me Co'nel Eighty-eighth Olehio wants a boy, sah.” “What can you do? Can you cook?” “Yas, sah.” “Where did you learn to cook?” “On de plantation, sah.” “What is your master's name?” “Rucker, sah.” “Is he a loyal man?” “No, sah, he not a lawyer; his brudder, de cussen one, is de lawyer.” “Is he secesh?” “O, yas, sah; yas, he sesesh.” “It is the Colonel of the [225] Eighty-eighth Indiana you should see;” and I directed him to the Colonel's tent. As he turned to leave, he muttered, “Man tole me Eighty-eighth Olehio ;” but he went hobbling over to the Eighty-eighth, with fear, anxiety, and hope struggling in his old face.

March, 4

Major Kalfus, Fifteenth Kentucky, arrested on Sunday, and since held in close confinement, was dishonorably dismissed from the service to-day for using treasonable language in tendering his resignation. He was escorted outside the lines and turned loose. The Major is a cross-roads politician, and will, I doubt not, be a lion among his half-loyal neighbors when he returns home.

March, 5

Our picket on the Manchester pike was driven in to-day. The cavalry, under General Stanley, went to the rescue, when a fight occurred. No particulars.

March, 9

T. Buchanan Reid, the poet, entertained us at the court-house this evening. The room had been trimmed up by the rebels for a ball. The words, “Shiloh,” “Fort Donelson,” “Hartsville,” “Santa Rosa,” “Pensacola,” were surrounded with evergreens. The letter “B,” painted on the walls in a dozen places, was encompassed by wreaths of flowers, now faded and yellow. My native modesty led me to conclude that the letter so highly honored stood for Bragg, and not for the commander of the Seventeenth Brigade, U. S. A.

General Garfield introduced Mr. Reid by a short speech, not delivered in his usual happy style. I was impressed with the idea all the time, that he [226] had too many buttons on his coat-he certainly had a great many buttons-and the splendor of the double row possibly detracted somewhat from the splendor of his remarks.

Mr. Reid is a small man, and has not sufficient voice to make himself heard distinctly in so large a hall. In a parlor his recitations would be capital. He read from his own poem, “The Wagoner,” a description of the battle of Brandywine. It is possibly a very good representation of that battle; but, if so, the battle of Brandywine was very unlike that of Stone river. At Brandywine, it appears, the generals slashed around among the enemy's infantry with drawn swords, doing most of the hard fighting and most of the killing themselves. I did not discover anything of that kind at Stone river. It is possible the style went out of fashion before the rebellion began. It would, however, be very satisfactory to the rank and file to see it restored. Mr. Reid said some good things in his lecture, and was well applauded; but, in the main, he was too ethereal, vapory, and fanciful for the most of us leather-heads. When he puts a soldier-boy on the top of a high mountain to sing patriotic songs, and bid defiance to King George because “Eagle is King,” we are impressed with the idea that that soldier could have been put to better use; that, in fact, he is entirely out of the line of duty. The position assigned him is unnatural, and the modern soldier-boy will be apt to conclude that nobody but a simpleton would be likely to wander about in solitary places, extemporizing in measured [227] sentences; besides it is hard work, as I know from experience. I tried my hand at it the other day until my head ached, and this is the best I could do:

O! Lord, when will this war end?
These days of marchings, nights of lonely guard?
This terrible expenditure of health and life?
Where is the glory? Where is the reward,
For sacrifice of comfort, quiet, peace?
For sacrifice of children, wife, and friends?
For sacrifice of firesides-genial homes?
What hour, what gift, will ever make amends
For broken health, for bruised flesh and bones,
For lives cut short by bullet, blade, disease?
Where balm to heal the widow's heart, or what
Shall soothe a mother's grief for woes like these?

Hold, murmurer, hold! Is country naught to thee?
Is freedom nothing? Naught an honored name?
What though the days be cold, or the nights dark,
The brave heart kindles for itself a flame
That warms and lightens up the world!
Home! What's home, if in craven shame
We seek its hearthstone? Bitterest of cold.
Better creep thither bruised, and torn, and lame,
Than seek it in health when justice needs our aid.

Where is the glory? Where is the reward?
Think of the generations that will come
To praise and bless the hero. Think of God,
Who in due time will call His soldiers home.
How comfort mother for the loss of son?
What balm to which her heaviest grief must yield?
Ah! the plain, simple, ever-glorious words:
“Your son died nobly on the battle-field!” [228]

What balm to soothe a widow's aching heart?
The grand assurance that in tile battle shock
Foremost her husband stood, defying all,
For freedom and truth, unyielding as the rock.
Then, courage, all, and when the strife is past,
And grief for lost ones takes a milder hue,
This thought shall crown the living and the dead:
“He lived, he died, to God and duty true.”

March, 10

Rain has been descending most of the day, and just now is pouring down with great violence. A happy party in the adjoining tent are exercising their lungs on a negro melody, of which this is something like the chorus:

De massa run, ha, ha!
De nigger stay, ho, ho!
It mus' be now de kingdom comin‘,
And de year of jubelo.

I can not affirm that the music with which these gentlemen so abound, on this rainy and dismal night, has that soothing effect on the human heart ascribed to music in general; but, however little I may feel like rejoicing now, I am quite sure I shall feel happier when the concert ends. The singers have concluded the negro melody, and are breathing out their souls in a sentimental piece. Now and then, when more than ordinarily successful in the higher strains, they nearly equal the most exalted efforts of the tom-cat; and then, again, in the execution of the lower notes and more pathetic passages, we are brought nigh unto tears by an inimitable imitation [229] of the wailings of a very young and sick kitten.

“Do they miss me at home; do they miss me?”

I venture to say they do, and with much gratification if, when there, you favored them often with this infernal noise.

March, 14

The weather is remarkably fine to-day. I saw Mrs. and Major-General McCook and Mrs. and Major-General Wood going out to the battle-field, on horseback, this morning. Mrs. General Rosecrans arrived last night on a special train.

March, 16

The roads are becoming good, and every body is on horseback. Many officers have their wives here. On the way to Murfreesboro this morning, I met two ladies with an escort going to the battle-field. Returning I met General Rosecrans and wife. The General hallooed after me, “How d'ye do?” to which I shouted back, at the top of my voice, the very original reply, “Very well, thank you.” From the number of ladies gathering in, one might very reasonably conclude that no advance was contemplated soon. Still all signs fail in war times, as they do in dry weather. As a rule, perhaps, when a movement appears most improbable, we should be on the lookout for orders to start.

The army, under Rosecrans' administration, looks better than it ever did before. He certainly enters into his work with his whole soul, and unless some unlucky mishap knocks his feet from under him, he will soon be recognized as the first general of the [230] Union. I account for his success thus far, in part at least, by the fact that he has been long enough away from West Point, mixing with the people, to get a little common sense rubbed into him.

While writing the last word above, the string band of the Third struck up at the door of my tent. Going out, I found all the commissioned officers of that regiment standing in line. Adjutant Wilson nudged me, and said they expected a speech. I asked if beer would not suit them better. He thought not. I have not attempted to make a speech for two years, and never made a successful attempt in my life; but I knocked the ashes out of my pipe and began:

Gentlemen : I am informed that all the officers of the Third are here. I am certainly very glad to see you, and extremely sorry that I am not better prepared to receive and entertain you. The press informs us that I have been very highly honored. If the report that I have been promoted is true, I am indebted to your gallantry, and that of the brave men of the Third, for the honor. You gave me my first position, and then were kind enough to deem me worthy of a second; and if now I have obtained a third, and higher one, it is because I have had the good fortune to command good soldiers. The step upward in rank will simply increase my debt of gratitude to you.

The officers responded cordially, by assuring me that they rejoiced over my promotion, and were [231] anxious that I should continue in command of the brigade to which the Third is attached.

Charlie Davison can sing as many songs as Mickey Free, of “Charles O'Malley,” and sing them well. In Irish melodies he is especially happy. Hark!

Dear Erin, how sweetly thy green bosom rises,
An emerald set in the ring of the sea;
Each blade of thy meadows my faithful heart prizes,
Thou Queen of the West, the world's cush la machree.

Thy sons they are brave; but the battle once over,
In brotherly peace with their foes they agree,
And the roseate cheeks of thy daughters discover,
The soul-speaking blush that says cush la machree.

March, 17

Dined with General Wagner, and, in company with Wagner and General Palmer, witnessed an artillery review.

March, 18

My brigade is still at work on the fortifications. They are, however, nearly completed.

Shelter tents were issued to our division to-day. We are still using the larger tent; but it is evidently the intention to leave these behind when we move. Last fall the shelter tents were used for a time bv the Pioneer Brigade. They are so small that a man cannot stand up in them. The boys were then very bitter in condemnation of them, and called them dog tents and dog pens. Almost every one of these tents was marked in a way to indicate the unfavorable opinion which the boys entertained of them, and in riding through [232] the company quarters of the Pioneer Brigade, the eye would fall on inscriptions of this sort:

Pups for Sale-Rat Terriers-Bull Pups here-dog-hole no. 1-sons of Bitches within-dogs-Purps.

General Rosecrans and staff, while riding by one day, were greeted with a tremendous bow-wow. The boys were on their hands and knees, stretching their heads out of the ends of the tents, barking furiously at the passing cavalcade. The General laughed heartily, and promised them better accommodations.

The news from Vicksburg is. somewhat encouraging, but certainly very indefinite, and far from satisfactory.

March, 19

Reviews are the order of the hour. All the brigades of our division, except mine, were reviewed by General Rosecrans this afternoon. It was a fine display, but hard on the soldiers; they were kept so long standing.

At Middletown, sixteen miles away, the rebels are four thousand strong, and within a day or two they have ventured to Salem, five miles distant.

March, 20

Loomis, who has just returned from home, called this evening, and we drank a bottle of wine over the promotion. He is in trouble about his commission as colonel of artillery. Two months ago the Governor of Michigan gave him the commission, and since that time he has been wearing a colonel's uniform; but General Rosecrans has expressed doubts [233] about his right to assume the rank. Loomis is all right, doubtless, and to-morrow, when the matter is talked over between the General and himself, it will be settled satisfactorily.

March, 21

I have been running over Russell's diary, “North and South,” and must say the Yankee Nation, when looked at through Mr. Russell's spectacles, does not appear enveloped in that star-spangled glory and super-celestial blue with which it is wont to loom up before patriotic eyes on Fourth of July occasions. He has treated us, however, fully as well as we have treated him. We became angry because he told unpleasant truths about us, and he became enraged because we abused him for it. He thanks God that he is not an American; and should not we, in a spirit of conciliation, meet him half way, and feel thankful that he is not?

Flaming dispatches will appear in the Northern papers to-morrow respecting the defeat of John Morgan, by a small brigade of our troops under Colonel Hall. The report will say that forty of the enemy were killed, one hundred and fifty wounded, and one hundred and twenty captured; loss on our side inconsiderable. The reporters have probably contributed largely to the brilliancy of this affair. It is always safe to accept with distrust all reports which affirm that a few men, with little loss, routed, slaughtered, or captured a large force.

Peach and cherry trees are in fill bloom. The grass is beginning to creep out. Summer birds occasionally [234] sing around us. In a few weeks more the trees will be in full leaf again.

March, 23

General Negley, who went home some time ago, returned to-day, and, I see, wears two stars.

General Brannan arrived a day or two ago. He was on the train captured by guerrillas, but was rescued a few minutes after.

The boys have a rumor that Bragg is near, and has sent General Rosecrans a very polite note requesting him to surrender Murfreesboro at once. If the latter refuses to accept this most gentlemanly invitation to deliver up all his forces, Bragg proposes to commence an assault upon our works at twelve M., and show us no mercy. This, of course, is reliable.

At sunset rain began to fall, and has continued to pour down steadily ever since. The night is gloomy. Adjutant Wilson, in the next tent, is endeavoring to lift himself from the slough of despond by humming a ditty of true love; but the effort is evidently a failure.

This morning I stood on the bank of the river and observed the pontoniers as they threw their bridge of boats across the stream. Twice each week they unload the pontoons from the wagons, run them into the water, put the scantling from boat to boat, lay down the plank, and thus make a good bridge on which men, horses, and wagons can cross. After completing the bridge, they immediately begin to take it up, load the lumber and pontoons on the wagons, and return to camp. They can bridge any stream between [235] this and the Tennessee in an hour, and can put a bridge over that in probably three hours.

General Rosecrans makes a fine display in his visits about the camps. He is accompanied by his staff and a large and well-equipped escort, with outriders in front and rear. The National flag is borne at the head of the column.

Rosecrans is of medium height and stout, not quite so tall as McCook, and not nearly so heavy. McCook is young, and very fleshy. Rousseau is by far the handsomest man in the army; tall and well-proportioned, but possibly a little too bulky. R. S. Granger is a little man, with a heavy, light sandy mustache. Wood is a small man, short and slim, with dark complexion, and black whiskers. Crittenden, the majorgeneral, is a spare man, medium height, lank, common sort of face, well whiskered. Major-General Stanley, the cavalryman, is of good size, gentlemanly in bearing, light complexion, brown hair. McCook and Wood swear like pirates, and affect the roughand-ready style. Rousseau is given to profanity somewhat, and blusters occasionally. Rosecrans indulges in an oath now and then; but is a member of the Catholic Church in good standing. Crittenden, I doubt not, swears like a trooper, and yet I have never heard him do so. He is a good drinker; and the same can be said of Rousseau. Rosecrans is an educated officer, who has rubbed much against the world, and has experience. Rousseau is brave, but knows little of military science. McCook is a chucklehead. Wood and Crittenden know how to blow their own [236] horns exceedingly well. Major-General Thomas is tall, heavy, sedate; whiskers and head grayish. Puts on less style than any of those named, and is a gentlemanly, modest, reliable soldier. Rosecrans and McCook shave clean; Crittenden and Wood go the whole whisker; Thomas shaves the upper lip. Rosecrans' nose is large, and curves down; Rousseau's is large, and curves up; McCook has a weak nose, that would do no credit to a baby. Rosecrans' laugh is not one of the free, open, hearty kind; Rousseau has a good laugh, but shows poor teeth; McCook has a grin, which excites the suspicion that he is either still very green or deficient in the upper story.

March, 22

Colonels Wilder and Funkhauser called. We had just disposed of a bottle of wine, when Colonel Harker made his appearance, and we entered forthwith upon another. Colonel Wilder expects to accomplish a great work with his mounted infantry. He is endeavoring to arm them with the Henry rifle, a gun which, with a slight twist of the wrist, will throw sixteen bullets in almost that many seconds. I have no doubt he will render his command very efficient and useful, for he has wonderful energy and nerve, and is, besides, sensible and practical. Colonel Harker is greatly disappointed because he was not confirmed as brigadier-general during the last session of Congress. He is certainly young enough to afford to wait; but he seems to fear that, after commanding a brigade for nine months, he may have to go back to a regiment. He feels, too, that, being a New Jersey man, commanding Ohio troops, neither State will take [237] an interest in him, and render him that assistance which, under other circumstances, either of them might do. These gentlemen dined with me. Harker and Wilder expressed a high opinion of General Buell. Wilder says Gilbert is a d-d scoundrel, and responsible for the loss at Mumfordsville. Harker, however, defended Gilbert, and is the only man I have ever heard speak favorably of him.

The train coming from Nashville to-day was fired upon and four men wounded. Yesterday there was a force of the enemy along the whole south front of our picket line.

From the cook's tent, in the rear, comes a devotional refrain:

I'm gui-en home, I'm gui-en home,
To d-i-e no mo‘.

March, 24

We are still pursuing the even tenor of our way on the fortifications. There are no indications of an advance. The army, however, is well equipped, in good spirits, and prepared to move at an hour's notice. Its confidence in Rosecrans is boundless, and whatever it may be required to do, it will, I doubt not, do with a will.

The conscript law, and that clause especially which provides for the granting of a limited number of furloughs, gives great satisfaction to the men. They not only feel that they will soon have help, but that if their conduct be good, there will be a fair chance for them to see home before the expiration of their term [238] of enlistment. Hitherto they have been something like prisoners without hope.

March, 26

Another little misfortune has occurred to our arms at Brentwood. The Twenty-second Wisconsin, numbering four hundred men, was captured by General Forrest. The rebels succeed admirably in gathering up and consolidating our scattered troops.

The Adjutant and others are having a concert in the next tent, and certainly laugh more over their own performance than singers do generally. They have just executed

The foin ould Irish gintleman,

And are at this present writing shouting
Vive l'america, home of the free.

I think it more than probable that as their enthusiasm increases, the punch in their punch-bowl diminishes.

March, 27

A mule has just broken the stillness of the night by a most discordant bray, and I am reminded that all horses are to be turned over to the mounted infantry regiments, and mules used in the teams in their stead. Mules are far better for the wagons than horses. They require less food, are hardier, and stand up better under rough work and irregular feeding.

I catch the faintest possible sound of a violin Some indomitable spirit is enlivening the night, and trenching upon the Sabbath, by giving loose rein to his genius. [239]

During the light baggage and rapid marches of the latter part of Buell's administration, together with the mishaps at Perryville, the string band of the Third was very considerably damaged; but the boys have recently resuscitated and revived it to all the glory and usefulness of former days. One of its sweetest singers, however, has either deserted or retired to hospital or barracks, where the duties are less onerous and life more safe. His greatest hit was a song known as “The warble,” in which the following lines occurred:

Mein fadter, mein modter, mein sister, mein frau,
Und zwi glass of beer for meinself.
Dey called mein frau one blacksmit-schopt;
Und such dings I never did see in my life.

When, at Shelbyville and Huntsville, this melody mingled with the moonlight of summer evenings, people generally were deluded into the supposition that an ethereal songster was on the wing, enrapturing them with harmonies of other spheres. But sutlers, it is well known, are men of little or no refinement, with ears for money rather than music. To their unappreciative and perverted senses the warble seemed simply a dolorous appeal for more whisky; and while delivering up their last bottle to get rid of the warbler and his friends, in order that they might get sleep themselves, they have been known to express the hope that both song and singers might, without unnecessary delay, go to that region which we are told is paved with good intentions. [240]

The voice of a colored person in the rear breaks in upon my recollections of the warbler. The most interesting and ugliest negro now in camp, is known as Simon Bolivar Buckner. He is an animal that has been worth in his day eighteen hundred dollars, an estray from the estate of General S. B. Buckner. He manages, by blacking boots and baking leather pies, to make money. He deluded me into buying a second pie from him one day, by assuring me, “on honah, sah, dat de las pie was better'n de fus', case he hab strawberries in him.” True, the pie had “strawberries in him,” but not enough to pay one for chewing the whit-leather crust.

March, 30

Read Judge Holt's review of the proceedings and findings in the case of Fitzjohn Porter. If the review presents the facts fairly, Porter should have been not only dismissed, but hung. An officer who, with thirteen thousand men, will remain idle when within sight of the dust and in hearing of the shouts of the enemy and the noise of battle, knowing that his friends are contending against superior numbers, and having good reason to believe that they are likely to be overwhelmed, (deserves no mercy.

It is dull. I have hardly enough to do to keep me awake. The members of the staff each have their separate duties to perform, which keep them more or less engaged. The quartermaster issues clothing to the troops; the commissary of subsistence issues food; the inspector looks into the condition of each regiment as to clothing, arms, and [241] camp equipage; the adjutant makes out the detail for guard and other duties, and transmits orders received from the division commander to the regiments. All of these officers have certain reports to make also, which consumes much of their time. [242]

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