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August, 1863.

August, 2

Rode with Colonel Taylor to Cowan; dined with Colonel Hobart, and spent the day very agreeably. Returning we called on Colonel Scribner, remained an hour, and reached Decherd after nightfall. My request for leave of absence was lying on the table approved and recommended by Negley and Thomas, but indorsed not granted by Rosecrans.

General Rousseau has left, and probably will not return. The best of feeling has not existed between him and the commanding general for some time past. Rousseau has had a good division, but probably thought he should have a corps. This, however, is not the cause of the breach. It has grown out of small matters-things too trifling to talk over, think of, or explain, and yet important enough to create a coldness, if not an open rupture. Rosecrans is marvelously popular with the men.

August, 3

The papers state that General R. B. Mitchell has gone home on sick leave. Poor fellow! he must have been taken suddenly, for when I saw him, a day or two ago, he was the picture of health. It is wonderful to me how a fellow as fat as Bob can come the [309] sick dodge so successfully. He can get sick at a moment's notice.

August, 4

Called on General Thomas; then rode over to Winchester. Saw Garfield at department Headquarters. He said he regretted very much being compelled to refuse my application for a leave. Told him I expected to command this department soon, and when I got him and a few others, including Rosecrans and Thomas, under my thumb, they would obtain no favors. I should insist not only upon their remaining in camp, but upon their wives remaining out.

In company with Colonel Mihalotzy I called on Colonel Burke, Tenth Ohio, and drank a couple of bottles of wine with him and his spiritual adviser, Father O'Higgin. Had a very agreeable time. The Colonel pressed us to remain for dinner; but we pleaded an engagement, and afterward obtained a very poor meal at the hotel for one dollar each.

The Board for the examination of applicants for commissions in colored regiments, of which I have the honor to be Chairman, met, organized, and adjourned to convene at nine o'clock to-morrow. Colonel Parkhurst, Ninth Michigan, and Colonel Stanley, Eighteenth Ohio, are members.

I am anxious to go home; but it is not possible for me to get away. Almost every officer in the army desires to go, and every conceivable excuse and argument are urged. This man is sick; another's house has burned, and he desires to provide for his family; another has lawsuits coming off involving large [310] sums, and his presence during the trial is necessary to save him from great loss; still another has deeds to make out, and an immense property interest to look after.

August, 6

This is the day appointed by the President for thanksgiving and prayer. The shops in Winchester are closed.

Colonel Parkhurst has obtained a leave, and will go home on Monday.

August, 7

Captain Wilson and Lieutenant Ellsworth arose rather late this morning, and found a beer barrel protruding from the door of their tent, properly set up on benches, with a flaming placard over it: “New Grocery!!
Wilson & Ellsworth.
Fresh Beer, 3 a Glass.
Give us a call.”

Later in the day a grand presentation ceremony took place. All the members of the staff and hangers — on about Headquarters were gathered under the oaks; Lieutenant Calkins, One Hundred and Fourth Illinois, was sent for, and, when he appeared, Lieutenant Ellsworth proceeded to read to him the following letter:

Ottowa, Illinois, July 20, 1863.
Lieutenant W. W. Calkins-
Sir: Your old friends of Ottowa, as a slight testimonial of their respect for you, and admiration for those chivalrous instincts which, when the banner of beauty and glory was assailed by traitorous legions, induced you to [311] spring unhesitatingly to its defense, have the honor to present you a beautiful field-glass. Trusting that, by its assistance, you will be able to see through your enemies, and ultimately find your way to the arms of your admiring fellow-citizens, we have the honor to subscribe ourselves,

Your most obedient servants, Peter Brown, John Smith, Thomas Jones, and others.

The box containing the gift was carefully opened, and the necks and upper parts of two whisky bottles, fastened together by a piece of wood, taken out and delivered in due form to the Lieutenant. He seemed greatly surprised, and for a few minutes addressed the donors in a very emphatic and uncomplimentary way; but finding this only added to the merriment of the party, he finally cooled down, and, lifting the field-glass to his eyes, leveled it upon the staff, and remarked that they appeared to be thirsty. This, of course, was hailed as undeniable evidence that the glass was perfect, and Lieutenant Calkins was heartily congratulated on his good luck, and on the proof which the testimonial afforded of the high estimation in which he was held by the people of his native town. Many of his brother officers, in their friendly ardor, shook him warmly by the hand.

August, 8

Hewitt's battery has been transferred to the Corps of Engineers and Mechanics, and Bridges' battery, six guns, assigned to me. I gain two guns and many men by the exchange. [312]

Our Board grinds away eight or nine hours a day, and turns out about the usual proportion of wheat and chaff. The time was when we thought it would be impossible to obtain good officers for colored regiments. Now we feel assured that they will have as good, if not better, officers than the white regiments. From sergeants applying for commissions we are able to select splendid men; strong, healthy, well informed, and of considerable military experience. In fact, we occasionally find a non-commissioned officer who is better qualified to command a regiment than nine-tenths of the colonels. I certainly know colonels who could not obtain a recommendation from this Board for a second lieutenancy.

Saw General Garfield yesterday; he was in bed sick. I have no fears of his immediate dissolution; in fact, I think he could avail himself of a twentyday leave. I know if I were no worse than he appears to be, I would, with the permission of the general commanding, undertake to ride the whole distance home on horseback, and swim the rivers. In a little over a week I think my wife would see me, and the black horse, followed by the pepper-and-salt colt, charging up to the front door in such style as would remind her of the days of chivalry and the knights of the olden time. I should cry out in thunder tones, “Ho! Within! Unbar the door!” The colt would kick up his heels with joy at sight of the grass in the yard, while the black would champ his bit with impatience to get into a comfortable stall once more. [313] Altogether the sight would be worth seeing; but it will not be seen.

The Board holds its sessions in the office of an honorable Mr. Turney, who left on our approach for a more congenial clime, and left suddenly. His letters and papers are lying around us in great confusion and profusion. Among these we have discovered a document bearing the signatures of Jeff. Davis, John Mason, Pierre Soule, and others, pledging themselves to resist, by any and every means, the admission of California, unless it came in with certain boundaries which they prescribed. The document was gotten up in Washington, and Colonel Parkhurst says it is the original contract.

Dined with Colonel D. H. Gilmer, Thirty-eighth Illinois. Dinner splendid; corn, cabbage, beans; peach, apple, and blackberry pie; with buttermilk and sweetmilk. It was a grand dinner, served on a snowwhite table-cloth. Where the Colonel ootained all these delicacies I can not imagine. He is an out-andout Abolitionist, and possibly the negroes had favored him somewhat.

Colonel Gilmer is delighted to find the country coming around to his ideas. He believes the Lord, who superintends the affairs of nations, will give us peace in good time, and that time will be when the institution of slavery has been rooted up and destroyed. He is a Kentuckian by birth, and says he has kinfolks every-where. He is the only man he knows of who can find a cousin in every town he goes to.


August, 9

Dined with Colonel Taylor. Colonels Hobart, Nicholas, and Major Craddock were present. After dinner we adjourned to my quarters, where we spent the afternoon. Hobart dilated upon his adventures at New Orleans and elsewhere, under Abou Ben Butler. He says Butler is a great man, but a d-d scoundrel. I have heard Hobart say something like this at least a thousand times, and am pleased to know that his testimony on this point is always clear, decisive, and uncontradictory.

My visitors are gone. The cars are bunting against each other at the depot. The katydids are piping away on the old, old story. The trees look like great shadows, and unlike the substantial oaks they really are. The camps are dark and quiet. This is all I can say of the night without.

In a little booth made of cedar boughs is a table, on which sputters a solitary tallow candle, in a stick not remarkable for polish. This light illuminates the booth, and reveals to the observer — if there be one, which is very unlikely, for those who usually observe have in all probability retired — a wash basin, a newspaper, a penknife, which originally had two blades, but at present has but one, and that one very dull, a gentleman of say thirty, possibly thirty-five, two steel pens, rusty with age, an inkstand, and one miller, which miller has repeatedly dashed his head against the wick of the candle and discovered that the operation led to unsatisfactory results. Wearied, disappointed, and disheartened, the miller now sits quietly on the table, mourning, doubtless, over the [315] unpleasant lesson which experience has taught him. His head is now wiser; but, alas! his wings are shorter than they were, and of what use is his head without wings? He feels very like the man who made a dash for fame, and fell wounded and bleeding on the field, or the child who, for the first time, discovers that all is not gold that glitters. The gentleman referred to-and I trust it may be no stretch of the verities to call him a gentleman-leans over the table writing. He has an abundant crop of dark hair on his head, under his chin, and on his upper lip. He is not just now troubled with a superabundance of flesh, or, in other words, no one would suspect him of being fat. On the contrary, he might remind one of the lean kine, or the prodigal son who had been feeding on husks. He is wide awake at this late hour of the night, from which I conclude he has slept more or less during the day. No one, to look at this gentleman, would take him to be a remarkable man; in fact, his most intimate friends could not find it in their hearts to bring such an accusation against him. His face is browned by exposure, and his blue eyes look quite dark, or would do so if there were sufficient light to see them. When he straightens upand he generally straightens when up at all-he is five feet eleven, or thereabouts. His appetite is good, and his education is of that superior kind which enables him, without apparent effort, to misspell threefourths of the words in the English language; in fact, at this present moment he is holding an imaginary discussion with his wife, who has written him [316] that the underclothing for gentlemen's feet should be spelled s-o-c-k-s, and not “s-o-x.” He begs leave to differ with her, which he would probably not dare to do were she not hundreds of miles away; and he argues the matter in this way: S-o-x, o-x, f-o-x — the termination sounds alike in all. Now how absurd it would be to insist that ox should be spelled o-c-k-s, or fox f-o-c-k-s. The commonest kind of sense teaches one that the old lady is in error, and “sox” clearly correct. Much learning hath evidently made her mad. Having satisfied himself about this matter, he takes a photograph from an inside pocket; it is that of his wife. He makes another dive, and brings out one of his children; then he lights a laurel-wood pipe, and, as the white smoke curls about his head and vanishes, his thoughts skip off five hundred miles or less, to a community of sensible, industrious, quiet folks, and when he finally awakes from the reverie and looks about him upon the beggarly surroundings-he does not swear, for he bethinks him in time that swearing would do no good.

August, 10

Colonel Hobart, Twenty-first Wisconsin, and Colonel Hays, Tenth Kentucky, have been added to the Board — the former at my request.

August, 11

To-day I dined with a Wisconsin friend of Colonel Hobart's; had a good dinner, Scotch ale and champagne, and a very agreeable time. Colonel Hegg, the dispenser of hospitalities, is a Norwegian by birth, a Republican, a gentleman who has held important public positions in Wisconsin, and who stands well with the people. In the course of the table talk I [317] learned something of the history of my friend Hobart. He is an old wheel-horse of the Democratic party of his State; was a candidate for governor a few years ago, and held joint debates with Randall and Carl Schurz. He is the father of the Homestead Law, which has been adopted by so many States, and was for many years the leader of the House of Representatives of Wisconsin. All this I gathered from Colonel Hegg, for Hobart seldom, if ever, talks about himself. I imagine that even the most polished orator would obtain but little, if any, advantage over Hobart in a discussion before the people. He has the imagination, the information, and the oratorical fury in discussion which are likely to captivate the masses. He was at one time opposed to arming the negroes; but now that he is satisfied they will fight, he is in favor of using them.

To-night Colonels Hays and Hobart held quite an interesting debate on the policy of arming colored men, and emancipating those belonging to rebels. Hays, who, by the way, is an honest man and a gallant soldier, presented the Kentucky view of the matter, and his arguments, evidently very weak, were thoroughly demolished by Hobart. I think Colonel Hays felt, as the controversy progressed, that his position was untenable, and that his hostility to the President's proclamation sprang from the prejudice in which he had been educated, rather than from reason and justice.

August, 12

Old Tom, known in camp as the veracious nigger, because of a “turkle” story which he tells, is [318] just coming along as I wait a moment for the breakfast bell. The “turkle,” which Tom caught in some creek in Alabama, had two hundred and fifty eggs in “him.” “Yas, sah, two under an‘ fifty.”

Tom has peculiar notions about certain matters, and they are not, by any means, complimentary to the white man. He says: “It jis' ‘pears to me dat Adam was a black man, sah, an‘ de Lord he scar him till he got white, cos he was a sinner, sah.”

“Tom, you scoundrel, how dare you slander the white man in that way?”

“‘Pears to me dat way; hab to tell de truf, sah; dat's my min‘. Men was ‘riginally black; but de Lord he scare Adam till he got white; dat's de reasonable supposition, sah. Do a man's har git black when he scared, sah? No, sah, it gits white. Did you ebber know a man ter get black when he's scard, sah? No, sah, he gits white.”

“That does seem to be a knock-down argument, Tom.”

“ Yas, sah, I've argied with mor'n a hunder white men, sah, an‘ they can't never git aroun dat pint. When yer strip dis subjec ob prejdice, an‘ fetch to bar on it de light oa reason, sah, yer can ‘rive at but one ‘clusion, sah. De Lord he rode into de garden in chariot of fire, sah, robed wid de lightnin‘, sah, thunder bolt in his han‘, an‘ he cried Adam, in de voice of a airthquake, sah, an‘ de ‘fee on Adam was powerful, sah. Dat's my min‘, sah.” And so Tom goes on his way, confident that the first man was black, and that another white man has been vanquished in argument.


August, 13

The weather continues oppressively hot. The names of candidates for admission to the corps d'afrique continue to pour in. The number has swelled to eight hundred. We begin our labors at nine, adjourn a few minutes for lunch, and then continue our work until nearly six.

August, 16

We move at ten o'clock A. M. Had a heavy rain yesterday and a fearful wind. The morning, however, is clear, and atmosphere delightful.

Our Board has examined one hundred and twenty men. Perhaps forty have been recommended for commissions.

The present movement will, doubtless, be a very interesting one. A few days will take us to the Tennessee, and thereafter we shall operate on new ground. Georgia will be within a few miles of us, the longsuffering and long-coveted East Tennessee on our left, Central Alabama to our front and right. A great struggle will undoubtedly soon take place, for it is not possible that the rebels will give us a foothold south of the Tennessee until compelled to do it.

August, 21

We are encamped on the banks of Crow creek, three miles northerly from Stevenson. The table on which I write is under the great beech trees. Colonel Hobart is sitting near studying Casey. The light of the new moon is entirely excluded by foliage. On the right and left the valley is bounded by ranges of mountains eight hundred or a thousand feet high. Crow creek is within a few feet of me; in fact, the sand under my feet was deposited by its waters. The army extends along the Tennessee, from opposite [320] Chattanooga to Bellefonte. Before us, and just beyond the river, rises a green-mountain wall, whose summit, apparently as uniform as a garden hedge, seems to mingle with the clouds. Beyond this are the legions of the enemy, whose signal lights we see lightly.

August, 22

Our Board has resumed its sessions at the Alabama House, Stevenson. The weather is intensely hot. Father Stanley stripped off his coat and groaned. Hobart's face was red as the rising sun, and the anxious candidates for commissions did not certainly resemble cucumbers for coolness.

Hobart rides a very poor horse-poor in flesh, I mean; but he entertains the most exalted opinion of the beast. This morning, as we rode from camp, I thought I would please him by referring to his horse in a complimentary way. Said I: “Colonel, your horse holds his own mighty well.” His face brightened, and I continued: “He hasn't lost a bone since I have known him.” This nettled him, and he began to badger me about an unsuccessful attempt which I made some time ago to get him to taste a green persimmon. Hobart has a good education, is fluent in conversation, and in discussion gets the better of me without difficulty. All I can do, therefore, is to watch my opportunity to give him an occasional thrust as best I can. Father Stanley is slow, destitute of either education or wit, and examines applicants like a demagogue fishes for votes.

Brigadier-General Jeff. C. Davis and Colonel Hegg called to-day. Davis is, I think, not quite so tall as I [321] am, but a shade heavier. Met Captain Gaunther. He has been relieved from duty here, and ordered to Washington. He is an excellent officer, and deserves a higher position than he holds at present. I thought, from the very affectionate manner with which he clung to my hand and squeezed it, that possibly, in taking leave of his friends, he had burdened himself with that “oat” which is said to be one too many Hobart says that Scribner calls him Hobart up to two glasses, and further on in his cups ycleps him Hogan.

Wood had a bout with the enemy at Chattanooga yesterday; he on the north side and they on the south side of the river. Johnson is said to have reinforced Bragg, and the enemy is supposed to be strong in our front. Rosecrans was at Bridgeport yesterday looking over the ground, when a sharpshooter blazed away at him, and put a bullet in a tree near which the General and his son were standing.

August, 24

Deserters are coming in almost every day. They report that secret societies exist in the rebel army whose object is the promotion of desertion. Eleven men from one company arrived yesterday. Not many days ago a Confederate officer swam the river and gave himself up. For some time past the pickets of the two armies have not been firing at each other; but yesterday the rebels gave notice that they should commence again, as the “Yanks were becoming too d-n thick.”

August, 26

To-day we were examining a German who desired to be recommended for a field officer. “How [322] do you form an oblique square, sir?” “Black square? Black square?” exclaimed the Dutchman; “I dush not know vot you means by de black square.”

As I write the moon shines down upon me through an opening in the branches of the beech forest in which we are encamped, and the objects about me, half seen and half hidden, in some way suggest the half-remembered and half-forgotten incidents of childhood.

How often, when a boy, have I dreamed of scenes similar to those through which I have passed in the last two years! Knightly warriors, great armies on the march and in camp, the skirmish, the tumult and thunder of battle, were then things of the imagination; but now they have become familiar items of daily life. Then a single tap of the drum or note of the bugle awakened thoughts of the old times of chivalry, and regrets that the days of glory had passed away. Now we have martial strains almost every hour, and are reminded only of the various duties of our every-day life.

As we went to Stevenson this morning, Hobart caught a glimpse of a colored man coming toward us. It suggested to him a hobby which he rides now every day, and he commenced his oration by saying, in his declamatory way: “The negro is the coming man.” “Yes,” I interrupted, “so I see, and he appears to have his hat full of peaches;” and so the coming man had.

August, 28

Rode to the river with Hobart and Stanley. The rebel pickets were lying about in plain view on [323] the other side Just before our arrival quite a number of them had been bathing. The outposts of the two armies appear still to be on friendly terms. “Yesterday,” a soldier said to me, “one of our boys crossed the river, talked with the rebs for some time, and returned.”

August, 29

The band is playing “Yankee Doodle,” and the boys break into an occasional cheer by way of endorsement. There is something defiant in the air of “Doodle” as he blows away on the soil of the cavliers, which strikes a noisy chord in the breast of Uucle Sam's nephews, and the demonstrations which follow are equivalent to “Let'er rip,” “Go in old boy.”

Colonel Hobart's emphatic expression is “egad.” He told me to-day of a favorite horse at home, which would follow him from place to place as he worked in the garden, keeping his nose as near to him as possible. His wife remarked to him one day: “Egad, husband, if you loved me as well as you do that horse, I should be perfectly happy.”

“Are you quite sure sure Mrs. Hobart said ‘egad,’ Colonel?”

“Well, no, I would n't like to swear to that.”

This afternoon Colonels Stanley, Hobart, and I rode down to the Tennessee to look at the pontoon bridge which has been thrown across the river. On the way we met Generals Rosecrans, McCook, Negley, and Garfield. The former checked up, shook hands, and said: “How d'ye do?” Garfield gave us a grip [324] which suggested “vote right, vote early.” Negley smiled affably, and the cavalcade moved on. We crossed the Tennessee on the bridge of boats, and rode a few miles into the country beyond. Not a gun was fired as the bridge was being laid. Davis' division is on the south side of the river.

The Tennessee at this place is beautiful. The bridge looks like a ribbon stretched across it. The island below, the heavily-wooded banks, the bluffs and mountain, present a scene which would delight the soul of the artist. A hundred boys were frollicking in the water near the pontoons, tumbling into the stream in all sorts of ways, kicking up their heels, ducking and splashing each other, and having a glorious time generally.

August, 30

(Sunday.) The brigade moved into Stevenson.

August, 31

It crossed the Tennessee.

In one of the classes for examination to-day was a sergeant, fifty years old at least, but still sprightly and active; not very well posted in the infantry tactics now in use, but of more than ordinary intelligence. The class had not impressed the Board favorably. This Sergeant we thought rather too old, and the others entirely too ignorant. When the class was told to retire, this old Sergeant, who, by the way, belongs to a Michigan regiment, came up to me and asked: “Was John Beatty, of Sandusky, a relative of yours?” “He was my grandfather.” “Yes, you resemble your mother. You are the son of James Beatty. I have carried you in my arms [325] many a time. My mother saved your life more than once. Thirty years ago your father and mine were neighbors. I recollect the cabin where you were born as well as if I had seen it but yesterday.” “I am heartily glad to see you, my old friend,” said I, taking his hand. “You must stay with me to-night, and we will talk over the old times together.”

When the Sergeant retired, Hobart, with a twinkle in his eye, said he did not think much of that fellow; his early associations had evidently been bad; he was entirely too old, anyway. What the army needed, above all things, were young, vigorous, dashing officers; but he supposed, notwithstanding all this, that we should have to do something for the Sergeant. He had rendered important service to the country by carrying the honored President of our Board in his arms, and but for the timely doses of catnip tea, administered by the Sergeant's mother, the gallant knight of the black horse and pepperand-salt colt would have been unknown. “What do you say, gentlemen, to a second lieutenantcy for General Beatty's friend?”

“I shall vote for it,” replied Stanley.

“Recommend him for a first lieutenancy,” I suggested; and they did.

In the evening I had a long and very pleasant conversation with the Sergeant. He had fought under Bradley in the Patriot war at Point au Pelee; served five years in the regular army during the [326] Florida war, and two years in the Mexican war. His name is Daniel Rodabaugh. He has been in the United States service as a soldier for nine years, and richly deserves the position for which we recommended him. [327]

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