previous next

July, 1861.

July, 2

Reached Buckhannon at 5 P. M., and encamped beside the Fourth Ohio, in a meadow, one mile from town. The country through which we marched is exceedingly hilly; or, perhaps, I might say mountainous. The scenery is delightful. The road for miles is cut around great hills, and is just wide enough for a wagon. A step to the left would send one tumbling a hundred or two hundred feet below, and to the right the hills rise hundreds of feet above. The hills, half way to their summits, are covered with corn, wheat, or grass, while further up the forest is as dense as it could well have been a hundred years ago.

July, 3

For the first time to-day, I saw men bringing tobacco to market in bags. One old man brought a bag of natural leaf into camp to sell to the soldiers, price ten cents per pound. He brought it to a poor market, however, for the men have been bankrupt for weeks, and could not buy tobacco at a dime a bagfull.

July, 4

The Fourth has passed off quietly in the little town of Buckhannon and in camp.

At ten o'clock the Third and Fourth Regiments were reviewed by General McClellan. The day was excessively warm, and the men, buttoned up in their [14] dress-coats, were much wearied when the parade was over.

In the court-house this evening, the soldiers had what they call a “stag dance.” Camp life to a young man who has nothing specially to tie him to home has many attractions-abundance of company, continual excitement, and all the fun and frolic that a thousand light-hearted boys can devise.

To-night; in one tent, a dozen or more are singing “Dixie” at the top of their voices. In another “The star-spangled banner” is being executed so horribly that even a secessionist ought to pity the poor tune. Stories, cards, wrestling, boxing, racing, all these and a thousand other things enter into a day in camp. The roving, uncertain life of a soldier has a tendency to harden and demoralize most men. The restraints of home, family, and society are not felt. The fact that a few hours may put them in battle, where their lives will not be worth a fig, is forgotten. They think a hundred times less of the perils by which they may be surrounded than their friends do at home. They encourage and strengthen each other to such an extent that, when exposed to danger, imminent though it be, they do not seem to realize it.

July, 7

On the 5th instant a scouting party, under Captain Lawson, started for Middle Fork bridge, a point eighteen miles from camp. At eight o'clock last night, when I brought the battalion from the drillground, I found that a messenger had arrived with intelligence that Lawson had been surrounded by a force of probably four hundred, and that, in the engagement, [15] one of his men had been killed and three wounded. The camp was alive with excitement. Each company of the Third had contributed five men to Captain Lawson's detachment, and each company, therefore, felt a special interest in it. The messenger stated that Captain Lawson was in great need of help, and General McClellan at once ordered four companies of infantry and twenty mounted men to move to his assistance. I had command of the detachment, and left camp about nine o'clock P. M., accompanied by a guide. The night was dark. My command moved on silently and rapidly. After proceeding about three miles, we left the turnpike and turned onto a narrow, broken, bad road, leading through the woods, which we followed about eight miles, when we met Captain Lawson's detachment on its way back. Here we removed the wounded from the farm wagon in which they had been conveyed thus far, to an ambulance brought with us for the purpose, countermarched, and reached our quarters about three o'clock this morning.

I will not undertake to give the details of Captain Lawson's skirmish. I may say, however, that the number of the enemy killed and wounded, lacerated and torn, by Corporal Casey, was beyond all computation. Had the rebels not succeeded in getting a covered bridge between themselves and the invincible Irishman, he would, if we may believe his own statement, have annihilated the whole force, and brought back the head of their commanding officer on the point of his bayonet.


July, 8

This morning, at seven o'clock, our tents were struck, and, with General McClellan and staff in advance, we moved to Middle Fork bridge. It was here that Captain Lawson's skirmish on Saturday had occurred. The man killed had been buried by the Fourth Ohio before our arrival. Almost every house along the road is deserted by the men, the women sometimes remaining. The few Union men of this section have, for weeks past, been hiding away in the hills. Now the secessionists have taken to the woods. The utmost bitterness of feeling exists between the two. A man was found to-day, within a half mile of this camp, with his lead cut off and entrails ripped out, probably a Union man who had been hounded down and killed. The Dutch regiment (McCook's), when it took possession of the bridge, had a slight skirmish with the enemy, and, I learn, killed two men. On the day after to-morrow I apprehend the first great battle will be fought in Western Virginia.

I ate breakfast in Buckhannon at six o'clock A. M., and now, at six o'clock P. M. am awaiting my second meal.

The boys, I ascertain, searched one secession house on the road, and found three guns and a small amount of ammunition. The guns were hunting pieces, all loaded. The woman of the house was very indignant, and spoke in disrespectful terms of the Union men of the neighborhood, whom she suspected of instigating the search. She said she “had come from a higher sphere than they, and would not lay down with dogs.” She was an Eastern Virginia woman, and, [17] although poor as a church mouse, thought herself superior to West Virginia people. As an indication of this lady's refinement and loyalty, it is only necessary to say that a day or two before she had displayed secession flag made, as she very frankly told the soldiers, of the tail of an old shirt, with J. D. and S. C. on it, the letters standing for Jefferson Davis and the Southern Confederacy.

Four or five thousand men are encamped here, huddled together in a little circular valley, with high hills surrounding. A company of cavalry is just going by my tent on the road toward Beverly, probably to watch the front.

As we were leaving camp this morning, an officer of an Ohio regiment rode at break-neck speed along the line, inquiring for General McClellan, and yelling, as he passed, that four companies of the regiment to which he belongs had been surrounded at Glendale, by twelve hundred secessionists, under O. Jennings Wise. Our men, misapprehending the statement, thought Buckhannon had been attacked, and were in a great state of excitement.

The officers of General Schleich's staff were with me on to-day's march, and the younger members, Captains Hunter and Dubois, got off whatever poetry they had in them of a military cast. “On Linden when the sun was low,” was recited to the hills of Western Virginia in a manner that must have touched even the stoniest of them. I could think of nothing but “There was a sound of revelry by [18] night,” and as this was not particularly applicable to the occasion, owing to the exceeding brightness of the sun, and the entire absence of all revelry, I thought best not to astonish my companions by exhibiting my knowledge of the poets.

West Virginia hogs are the longest, lankest, boniest animals in creation. I am reminded of this by that broth of an Irish lad, Conway, who says, in substance, and with a broad Celtic accent, that their noses have to be sharpened every morning to enable them to pick a living among the rocks.

Colonel Marrow informs me that an attack is apprehended to-night. We have sent out strong pickets. The cannon are so placed as to shoot up the road. Our regiment is to form on the left of the turnpike, and the Dutch regiment on the right, in case the secession forces should be bold enough to come down on us.

July, 9

Moved from the Middle Fork of the Buckhannon river at seven o'clock this morning, and arrived at Roaring creek at four P. M. We came over the hills with all the pomp and circumstance of glorious war; infantry, cavalry, artillery, and hundreds of army wagons; the whole stretching along the mountain road for miles. The tops of the Alleghanies can now be seen plainly. We are at the foot of Rich mountain, encamped where our brothers of the secession order pitched their tents last night. Our advance guard gave them a few shots and they fled precipitately to the mountains, burning the bridge behind them. When our regiment arrived a few shots were heard, [19] and the bayonets and bright barrels of the enemy's guns could be seen on the hills.

It clouded up shortly after, and before we had pitched our tents, the clouds came over Rich mountain, settling down upon and hiding its summit entirely. Heaven gave us a specimen of its artillery firing, and a heavy shower fell, drenching us all completely. As I write, the sound of a cannon comes booming over the mountain. There it goes again! Whether it is at Phillippi or Laurel Hill, I can not tell. Certain it is that the portion of our army advancing up the Valley river is in battle, somewhere, and not many miles away.

We do not know the strength of our opponents, nor the character and extent of their fortifications. These mountain passes must be ugly things to go through when in possession of an enemy; our boys look forward, however, to a day of battle as one of rare sport. I do not. I endeavor to picture to myself all its terrors, so that I may not be surprised and dumbfounded when the shock comes. Our army is probably now making one of the most interesting chapters of American history. God grant it may be a chapter our Northern people will not be ashamed to read!

I am not confident of a speedy termination of the war. These people are in the wrong, but have been made to believe they are in the right — that we are the invaders of their hearthstones, come to conquer and destroy. That they will fight with desperation, I have no doubt. Nature has fortified the country for [20] them. He is foolishly oversanguine who predicts an easy victory over such a people, intrenched amidst mountains and hills. I believe the war will run into a war of emancipation, and when it ends African slavery will have ended also. It would not, perhaps, be politic to say so, but if I had the army in my own hands, I would take a short cut to what I am sure will be the end-commence the work of emancipation at once, and leave every foot of soil behind me free.

July, 10

From the best information obtainable, we are led to believe the mountains and hills lying between this place and Beverly are strongly fortified and full of men. We can see a part of the enemy's fortifications very plainly from a hill west of camp. Our regiment was ordered to be in readiness to march, and was under arms two hours. During this time the Dutch regiment (McCook's), the Fourth Ohio, four pieces of artillery, one company of cavalry, with General McClellan, marched to the front, the Dutchmen in advance. They proceeded, say a mile, when they overhauled the enemy's pickets, and in the little skirmish which ensued one man of McCook's regiment was shot, and two of the enemy captured. By these prisoners it is affirmed that eight or nine thousand men are in the hills before us, well armed, with heavy artillery planted so as to command the road for miles. How true this is we can not tell. Enough, however, has been learned to satisfy McClellan that it is not advisable to attack today. What surprises me is that the General should know so little about the character of the country, the [21] number of the enemy, and the extent of his fortifications.

During the day, Colonel Marrow, apparently under a high state of excitement, informed me that he had just had an interview with George (he usually speaks of General McClellan in this familiar way), that an attack was to be made, and the Third was to lead the column. He desired me, therefore, to get out my horse at once, take four men with me, and search the woods in our front for a practicable road to the enemy. I asked if General McClellan had given him any information that would aid me in this enterprise, such as the position of the rebels, the location of their outposts, their distance from us, and the character of the country between our camp and theirs. He replied that George had not. It occurred to me that four men were rather too few, if the work contemplated was a reconnoissance, and rather too many if the service required was simply that for which spies are usually employed. I therefore spoke distrustingly of the proposed expedition, and questioned the propriety of sending so small a force, so utterly without information, upon so hazardous an enterprise, and apparently so foolish a one. My language gave offense, and whenI finally inquired what four men I should take, the Colonel told me, rather abruptly, to take whom I pleased, and look where I pleased. His manner, rather than his words, indicated a doubt of my courage, and I turned from him, mounted my horse, and started for the front, determined to obey the order to the best of my ability, but [22] to risk the lives of no others on what was evidently a fool's errand. After proceeding some distance, I found that the wagon-master was at my heels, and, together, we traced every cowpath and mountain road we could find, and passed half a mile beyond the enemy's outposts, and over ground visited by his scouts almost hourly. When I returned to make my report, I was curtly informed that no report was desired, as the plan had been changed.

A little after midnight the Colonel returned from Headquarters with important information, which he desired to communicate to the regiment. The men were, therefore, ordered to turn out, and came hesitatingly and sleepily from their tents. They looked like shadows as they gathered in the darkness about their chieftain. It was the hour when graveyards are supposed to yawn, and the sheeted dead to walk abroad. The gallant Colonel, with a voice in perfect accord with the solemnity of the hour, and the funereal character of the scene, addressed us, in substance, as follows:

Soldiers of the Third: The assault on the enemy's works will be made in the early morning. The Third will lead the column. The secessionists have ten thousand men and forty rifled cannon. They are strongly fortified. They have more men and more cannon than we have. They will cut us to pieces. Marching to attack such an enemy, so intrenched and so armed, is marching to a butchershop rather than to a battle. There is bloody work [23] ahead. Many of you, boys, will go out who will never come back again.

As this speech progressed my hair began to stiffen at the roots, and a chilly sensation like that which might ensue from the unexpected and clammy touch of the dead, ran through me. It was hard to die so young and so far from home. Theological questions which before had attracted little or no attention, now came uppermost in our minds. We thought of mothers, wives, sweethearts — of opportunities lost, and of good advice disregarded. Some soldiers kicked together the expiring fragments of a campfire, and the little blaze which sprang up revealed scores of pallid faces. In short, we all wanted to go home.

When a boy I had read Plutarch, and knew something of the great warriors of the old time; but I could not, for the life of me, recall an instance wherein they had made such an address to their soldiers on the eve of battle. It was their habit, at such a time, to speak encouragingly and hopefully. With all due respect, therefore, for the superior rank and wisdom of the Colonel, I plucked him by the sleeve, took him one side, and modestly suggested that his speech had had rather a depressing effect on the regiment, and had taken that spirit out of the boys so necessary to enable them to do well in battle. I urged him to correct the mistake, and speak to then hopefully. He replied that what he had said was true, and they should know the truth.

The morning dawned; but instead of being called [24] upon to lead the column, we were left to the inglorious duty of guarding the camp, while other regiments moved forward toward the enemy's line. In half an hour, in all probability, the work of destruction will commence. I began this memoranda on the evening of the 10th, and now close it on the morning of the 11th.

July, 11

At 10 A. M. we were ordered to the front; passed quite a number of regiments on our way thither, and finally took position not far from the enemy's works. We were now at the head of the column. A small brook crossed the road at this point, and the thick woods concealed us from the enemy. A few rods further on, a bend in the road gave us a good view of the entire front of his fortifications. Major Keifer and a few other gentlemen, in their anxiety to get more definite information in regard to the position of the secessionists, and the extent of their works, went up the road, and were saluted by a shot from their battery. We expected every moment to eceive an order to advance. After a time, however, we ascertained that Rosecrans, with a brigade, was seeking the enemy's rear by a mountain path, and we conjectured that, so soon as he had reached it, we would be ordered to make the assault in front. It was a dark, gloomy day, and the hours passed slowly.

Between two and three o'clock we heard shots in the rear of the fortifications; then volleys of musketry, and the roar of artillery. Every man sprang to his feet, assured that the moment for making the [25] attack had arrived. General McClellan and staff came galloping up, and a thousand faces turned to hear the order to advance; but no order was given. The General halted a few paces from our line, and sat on his horse listening to the guns, apparently in doubt as to what to do; and as he sat there with indecision stamped on every line of his countenance, the battle grew fiercer in the enemy's rear. Every volley could be heard distinctly. There would occasionally be a lull for a moment, and then the uproar would break out again with increased violence. If the enemy is too strong for us to attack, what must be the fate of Rosecrans' four regiments, cut off from us, and struggling against such odds. Hours passed; and as the last straggling shots and final silence told us the battle had ended, gloom settled down on every soldier's heart, and the belief grew strong that Rosecrans had been defeated, and his brigade cut to pieces or captured. This belief grew to certain conviction soon after, when we heard shout after shout go up from the fortifications in our front.

Major Keifer with two companies had, early in the afternoon, climbed the hill on our right to look for a position from which artillery could be used effectively. The ground over which he moved was broken and covered with a dense growth of trees and underbrush; finally an elevation was discovered which commanded the enemy's camp, but before a road could be cut, and the artillery brought up, it was too late in the day to begin the attack. [26]

Night came on. It was intensely dark. About nine o'clock we were ordered to withdraw our pickets quietly and return to our old quarters. On our way thither a rough voice cried: “Halt! Who comes there?” And a thousand shadowy forms sprang up before us. The challenge was from Colonel Robert McCook, and the regiment his. The scene reminded me of the one where

That whistle garrisoned the glen
At once with full five hundred men,
As if the yawning hill to heaven
A subterranean host had given.

July, 12

We were rejoiced this morning to hear of Rosecrans' success, and, at the same time, not well pleased at the escape of the enemy under cover of night. We were ordered to move, and got tinder way at eight o'clock. On the road we met General Rosecrans and staff. He was jubilant, as well he might be, and as he rode by received the congratulations of the officers and cheers of the men.

Arriving on yesterday's battlefield, the regiment was allowed a half hour for rest. The dead had been gathered and placed in a long trench, which was still open. The wounded of both armies were in hospital, receiving the attention of the surgeons. There were a few prisoners, most of them too unwell to accompany their friends in retreat.

Soon after reaching the summit of Rich mountain, we caught glimpses of Tygart's valley, and of Cheat [27] mountain beyond, and before nightfall reached Beverly and went into camp.

July, 13

Six or eight hundred Southern troops sent in a flag of truce, and surrendered unconditionally. They are a portion of the force which fought Rosecrans at Rich mountain, and Morris at Laurel Hill.

We started up the Valley river at seven o'clock this morning, our regiment in the lead. Found most of the houses deserted. Both Union men and secessionists had fled. The Southern troops, retreating in this direction, had frightened the people greatly, by telling them that we shot men, ravished women, and destroyed property. When within three-quarters of a mile of Huttonville, we were informed that forty or fifty mounted secessionists were there. The order to double-quick was given, and the regiment entered the village on a run. As we made a turn in the road, we discovered a squad of cavalry retreating rapidly. The bridge over the river had been burned, and was still smoking. Our troops sent up a hurrah and quickened their pace, but they had already traveled eleven miles on a light breakfast, and were not in condition to run down cavalry. That we might not lose at least one shot at the enemy, I got an Enfield rifle from one of the men, galloped forward, and fired at the retreating squad. It was the best shot I could make, and I am forced to say it was a very poor one, for no one fell. On second thought, it occurred to me that it would have been criminal to have killed one of these men, for his death could have had no possible effect on the result of the war. [28]

Huttonville is a very small place at the foot of Cheat mountain. We halted there perhaps one hour, to await the arrival of General McClellan; and when he came up, were ordered forward to secure a mountain pass. It is thought fifteen hundred secessionists are a few miles ahead, near the top of the mountain. Two Indiana regiments and one battery are with us. More troops are probably following.

The man who owns the farm on which we are encamped is, with his family, sleeping in the woods tonight, if, indeed, he sleeps at all.

July, 14

The Ninth and Fourth Ohio, Fifteenth indiana, and one company of cavalry, started up the mountain between seven and eight o'clock. The Colonel being unwell, I followed with the Third. Awful rumors were afloat of fortifications and rebels at the top; but we found no fortifications, and as for the rebels, they were scampering for Staunton as fast as their legs could carry them.

This mountain scenery is magnificent. As we climbed the Cheat the views were the grandest I ever looked upon. Nests of hills, appearing like eggs of the mountain; ravines so dark that one could not guess their depth; openings, the ends of which seemed lost in a blue mist; broken-backed mountains, long mountains, round mountains, mountains sloping gently to the summit; others so steep a squirrel could hardly climb them; fatherly mountains, with their children clustered about them, clothed in birch, pine, and cedar; mountain streams, sparkling [29] now in the sunlight, then dashing down into apparently fathomless abysses.

It was a beautiful day, and the march was delightful. The road is crooked beyond description, but very solid and smooth.

The farmer on whose premises we are encamped has returned from the woods. He has discovered that we are not so bad as we were reported. Most of the negroes have been left at home. Many were in camp to-day with corn-bread, pies, and cakes to sell. Fox, my servant, went out this afternoon and bought a basket of bread. He brought in two chickens also, which he said were presented to him. I suspect Fox does not always tell the truth.

July, 16

The Fourteenth Indiana and one company of cavalry went to the summit this morning to fortify.

The Colonel has gone to Beverly. The boys repeat his Rich mountain speech with slight variations: “Men, there are ten thousand secessionists in Rich mountain, with forty rifled cannon, well fortified. There's bloody work ahead. You are going to a butcher-shop rather than a battle. Ten thousand men and forty rifled cannon! Hostler, you d-d scoundrel, why do n't you wipe Jerome's nose?” Jerome is the Colonel's horse, known in camp as the White Bull.

Conway, who has been detailed to attend to the Colonel's horses, is almost as good a speech-maker as the Colonel. This, in brief, is Conway's address to the White Bull : --“Stand still there, now, or I'll make yer stand [30] still. Hold up yer head there, now, or I'll make yer hold it up. Keep quiet; what the h-ll yer ‘bout there, now? D-n you! do you want me to hit you a lick over the snoot, now-do you? Are you a inviten‘ me to pound you over the head with a sawlog? D-n yer ugly pictures, whoa!”

July, 18

This afternoon, when riding down to Huttonville, I met three or four hundred sorry-looking soldiers. They were without arms. On inquiry, I found they were a part of the secession army, who, finding no way of escape, had come into our lines and surrendered. They were badly dressed, and a hard, dissolute-looking lot of men. To use the language of one of the soldiers, they were “a milksickly set of fellows,” and would have died off probably without any help from us if they had been kept in the mountains a little longer. They were on their way to Staunton. General McClellan had very generously provided them with provisions for three days, and wagons to carry the sick and wounded; and so, footsore, weary, and chopfallen, they go over the hills.

An unpleasant rumor is in camp to-night, to the effect that General Patterson has been defeated at Williamsport. This, if true, will counterbalance our successes in Western Virginia, and make the game an even one.

The Southern soldiers mentioned above are encamped for the night a little over a mile from here. About dusk I walked over to their camp. They were gathered around their fires preparing supper. [31] Many of them say they were deceived, and entered the service because they were led to believe that the Northern army would confiscate their property, liberate their slaves, and play the devil generally. As they thought this was true, there was nothing left for them to do but to take up arms and defend themselves.

While we were at Buckhannon, an old farmerlooking man visited us daily, bringing tobacco, cornbread, and cucumber pickles. This innocent old genman proves to have been a spy, and obtained his reward in the loss of a leg at Rich mountain.

July, 19

To-day, eleven men belonging to a company of cavalry which accompanied the Fourteenth Indiana to the Summit, were sent out on a scouting expedition. When about ten miles from camp, on the opposite side of the mountain, they halted, and while watering their horses were fired upon. One man was killed and three wounded. The other seven fled. Colonel Kimball sent out a detachment to bring in the wounded; but whether it succeeded or not I have not heard.

A musician belonging to the Fourth Ohio, when six miles out of Beverly, on his way to Phillippi, was fired upon and instantly killed. So goes what little there is of war in Western Virginia.

July, 20

The most interesting of all days in the mountains is one on which the sky is filled with floating clouds, not hiding it entirely, but leaving here and there patches of blue. Then the shadows shift from place to place, as the moving clouds either let in the sunshine or exclude it. Standing at my tent-door at [32] eleven o'clock in the morning, with a stiff breeze going, and the clouds on the wing, we see a peak, now in the sunshine, then in the shadow, and the lights and shadows chasing each other from point to point over the mountains, presenting altogether a panorama most beautiful to look upon, and such an one as God only can present.

I can almost believe now that men become, to some extent, like the country in which they live. In the plain country the inhabitants learn to traffic, come to regard money-getting as the great object in life, and have but a dim perception of those higher emotions from which spring the noblest acts. In a mountain country God has made many things sublime, and some things very beautiful. The rugged, the smooth, the sunshine, and the shadow meet one at every turn. Here are peaks getting the earliest sunlight of the morning, and the latest of the evening; ravines so deep the light of day can never penetrate them; bold, rugged, perpendicular rocks, which have breasted the storms for ages; gentle slopes, swelling away until their summits seem to dip in the blue sky; streams, cold and clear, leaping from crag to crag, and rushing down nobody knows whither. Like the country, may we not look to find the people unpolished, rugged and uneven, capable of the noblest heroism or the most infernal villainy-their lives full of lights and shadows, elevations and depressions?

The mountains, rising one above another, suggest, forcibly enough, the infinite power of the Creator, [33] and when the peaks come in contact with the clouds it requires but little imagination to make one feel that God, as at Sinai, has set His foot upon the earth, and that earth and heaven are really very near each other.

July, 21

This morning, at two o'clock, I was rattled up by a sentinel, who had come to camp in hot haste to inform me that he had seen and fired upon a body of twenty-five or more men, probably the advance guard of the enemy. He desired me to send two companies to strengthen the outpost. I preferred, however, to go myself to the scene of the trouble; and, after investigation, concluded that the guard had been alarmed by a couple of cows.

Another lot of secession prisoners, some sixty in number, passed by this afternoon. They were highly pleased with the manner in which they had been treated by their captors.

The sound of a musket is just heard on the picket post, three-quarters of a mile away, and the shot is being repeated by our line of sentinels. ... The whole camp has been in an uproar. Many men, half asleep, rushed from their tents and fired off their guns in their company grounds. Others, supposing the enemy near, became excited and discharged theirs also. The tents were struck, Loomis' First Michigan Battery manned, and we awaited the attack, but none was made.. It was a false alarm. Some sentinel probably halted a stump and fired, thus rousing a thousand men from their warm beds. This is the first night alarm we have had.


July, 22

We hear that General Cox has been beaten on the Kanawha; that our forces have been repulsed at Manassas Gap, and that our troops have been unsuccessful in Missouri. I trust the greater part, if not all, of this is untrue.

We have been expecting orders to march, but they have not come. The men are very anxious to be moving, and when moving, strange to say, always very anxious to stop.

July, 23

Officers and men are low-spirited to-night. The news of yesterday has been confirmed. Our army has been beaten at Manassas with terrible loss. General McClellan has left Beverly for Washington. General Rosecrans will assume command in Western Virginia. We are informed that twenty miles from us, in the direction of Staunton, some three thousand secessionists are in camp. We shall probably move against them.

July, 24

The news from Manassas Junction is a little more cheering, and all feel better to-day.

We have now a force of about four thousand men in this vicinity, and two or three thousand at Beverly. We shall be in telegraphic communication with the North to-morrow.

The moon is at its full to-night, and one of the most beautiful sights I have witnessed was its rising above the mountain. First the sky lighted up, then a halo appeared, then the edge of the moon, not bigger than a star, then the half-moon, not semi-circular, but blazing up like a great gaslight, and, finally, the full, round moon had climbed to the top, and [35] seemed to stop a moment to rest and look down on the valley.

July, 27

The Colonel left for Ohio to-day, to be gone two weeks.

I came from the quarters of Brigadier-General Schleich a few minutes ago. He is a three-months' brigadier, and a rampant demagogue. Schleich said that slaves who accompanied their masters to the field, when captured, should be sent to Cuba and sold to pay the expenses of the war. I suggested that it would be better to take them to Canada and liberate them, and that so soon as the Government began to sell negroes to pay the expenses of the war I would throw up my commission and go home. Schleich was a State Senator when the war began. He is what might be called a tremendous little man, swears terribly, and imagines that he thereby shows his snap. Snap, in his opinion, is indispensable to a military man. If snap is the only thing a soldier needs, and profanity is snap, Schleich is a second Napoleon. This General Snap will go home, at the expiration of his three-months' term, unregretted by officers and men. Major Hugh Ewing will return with him. Last night the Major became thoroughly elevated, and he is not quite sober yet. He thinks, when in his cups, that our generals are too careful of their men. “What are a th-thousand men,” said he, “when (hic) principle is at stake? Men's lives (hic) should n't be thought of at such a time (hic). Amount to nothing (hic). Our generals are too d-d slow” (hic). The Major is a man of excellent natural [36] capacity, the son of Hon. Thomas Ewing, of Lancaster, and brother-in-law of W. T. Sherman, now a colonel or brigadier-general in the army. W. T. Sherman is the brother of John Sherman.

The news from Manassas is very bad. The disgraceful flight of our troops will do us more injury, and is more to be regretted, than the loss of fifty thousand men. It will impart new life, courage, and confidence to our enemies. They will say to their troops: “You see how these scoundrels run when you stand up to them.”

July, 29

Was slightly unwell this morning; but about noon accompanied General Reynolds, Colonel Wagner, Colonel Heffron, and a squad of cavalry, up the valley, and returned somewhat tired, but quite well. Lieutenant-Colonel Owen was also of the party. He is fifty or fifty-five years old, a thin, spare man, of very ordinary personal appearance, but of fine scientific and literary attainments. For some years he was a professor in a Southern military school. He has held the position of State Geologist of Indiana, and is the son of the celebrated Robert J. Owen, who founded the Communist Society at New Harmony, Indiana. Every sprig, leaf, and stem on the route suggested to Colonel Owen something to talk about, and he proved to be a very entertaining companion.

General Reynolds is a graduate of West Point, and has the theory of war completely; but whether he has the broad, practical common sense, more important than book knowledge, time will determine. As yet [37] he is an untried quantity, and, therefore, unknown.

July, 30

About two o'clock P. M., for want of something better to do, I climbed the high mountain in front of our camp. The side is as steep as the roof of a gothic house. By taking hold of bushes and limbs of trees, after a half hour of very hard work, I managed to get to the top, completely exhausted. The outlook was magnificent. Tygart's valley, the river winding through it, and a boundless succession of mountains and ridges, all lay before me. My attention, however, was soon diverted from the landscape to the huckleberries. They were abundant; and now and then I stumbled on patches of delicious raspberries. I remained on the mountain, resting and picking berries, until half-past 4. I must be in camp at six to post my pickets, but there was no occasion for haste. So, after a time, I started leisurely down, not the way I had come up, but, as I supposed, down the eastern slope, a way, apparently, not so steep and difficult as the one by which I had ascended. I traveled on, through vines and bushes, over fallen timber, and under great trees, from which I could scarcely obtain a glimpse of the sky, until finally I came to a mountain stream. I expected to find the road, not the stream, and began to be a little uncertain as to my whereabouts. After reflection, I concluded I would be most likely to reach camp by going up the stream, and so started. Trees in many places had fallen across the ravine, and my progress was neither easy nor rapid; but I pushed on as best I could. I never knew so well before what a mountain stream [38] was. I scrambled over rocks and fallen trees, and through thickets of laurel, until I was completely worn out. Lying down on the rocks, which in high water formed part of the bed of the stream, I took a drink, looked at my watch, and found it was half-past 5. My pickets were to be posted at six. Having but a half hour left, I started on. I could see no opening yet. The stream twisted and turned, keeping no one general direction for twenty rods, and hardly for twenty feet. It grew smaller, and as the ravine narrowed the way became more difficult. Six o'clock had now come. I could not see the sun, and only occasionally could get glimpses of the sky. I began to realize that I was lost; but concluded finally that I would climb the mountain again, and ascertain, if I could, in what direction the camp lay. I have had some hard tramps, and have done some hard work, but never labored half so hard in a whole week as I did for one hour in getting up that mountain, pushing through vines, climbing over logs, breaking through brush. Three or four times I lay down out of breath, utterly exhausted, and thought I would proceed no further until morning; but when I thought of my pickets, and reflected that General Reynolds would not excuse a trip so foolish and untimely, I made new efforts and pushed on. Finally I reached the summit of the mountain, but found it not the one from which I had descended. Still higher mountains were around me. The trees and bushes were so dense I could hardly see a rod before me. It was now seven o'clock, an hour after the [39] time when I should have been in camp. I lay down, determined to remain all night; but my clothing was so thin that I soon became chilly, and so got up and started on again. Once I became entangled in a wilderness of grapevines and briers, and had much difficulty in getting through them. It was now halfpast seven, and growing dark; but, fortunately, at this time, I heard a dog bark, a good way off to the right, and, turning in that direction, I came to a cowpath. Which end of it should I take? Either end, I concluded, would be better than to remain where I was; so I worked myself into a dog-trot, wound down around the side of the mountain, and reached the road, a mile and a half south of camp, and went to my quarters fast as my legs could carry me. I found my detail for picket duty waiting and wondering what could so detain the officer of the day.

July, 31

The Fifteenth Indiana, Colonel Wagner, moved up the valley eight miles.

The sickly months are now on us. Considerable dysentery among the men, and many reported unfit for duty.

Mv limbs are stiff and sore from yesterday's exercise, but my adventure proves to have been a lucky one. The mountain path I stumbled on was unknown to us before, and we find, on inquiry, that it leads over the ridges. The enemy might, by taking this path, follow it up during the day, encamp almost within our picket lines without being discovered, and then, under cover of night, or in the early morning, [40] come down upon us while we were in our beds. It will be picketed hereafter.

A private of Company E wrote home that he had killed two secessionists. A Zanesville paper published the letter. When the boys of his company read it they obtained spades, called on the soldier who had drawn so heavily on the credulity of his friends, and told him they had come to bury the dead. The poor fellow protested, apologized, and excused himself as best he could, but all to no purpose. He is never likely to hear the last of it.

I am reminded that when coming from Bellaire to Fetterman, a soldier doing guard duty on the railroad said that a few mornings before he had gone out, killed two secessionists who were just sitting down to breakfast, and then eaten the breakfast himself. [41]

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
July (23)
July, 1861 AD (1)
10th (1)
5th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: