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December, 1861.

December, 1

Sunday has just slipped away. Parson Strong attempted to get an audience; but a corporal's guard, for numbers, were all who desired to be ministered to in spiritual things.

The Colonel spends much of his time in Louisville. He complains bitterly because the company officers do not remain in camp, and yet fails to set them a good example in this regard. We have succeeded poorly in holding our men. Quite a number dodged off while the boat was lying at the landing in Cincinnati, and still more managed to get through the guard lines and have gone to Louisville. The invincible Corporal Casey has not yet put in an appearance.

The boys of the Sixth Ohio are exceedingly jubilant; the entire regiment has been allowed a furlough for six days. This was done to satisfy the men, who had become mutinous because they were not permitted to stop at Cincinnati on their way hither.

December, 4

Rode to Louisville this afternoon; in tile evening attended the theatre, and saw the notorious Adah Isaacs Menken Heenan. The house was packed with soldiers, mostly of the Sixth Ohio. It seemed [86] probable at one time that there would be a general free fight; but the brawlers were finally quieted and the play went on. One of the performers resembled an old West Virginia acquaintance so greatly that the boys at once y'clepped him Stalnaker, and howled fearfully whenever he made his appearance.

December, 7

Moved three miles nearer Louisville and encamped in a grove. Have had much difficulty in keeping the men in camp; and this evening, to prevent a general stampede, ordered the guards to load their guns and shoot the first man who attempted to break over. Have succeeded also in getting the officers to remain; notified them yesterday that charges would be preferred against all who left without permission, and this afternoon I put my very good friend, Lieutenant Dale, under arrest for disregarding the order.

December, 12

In camp near Elizabethtown. The road over which we marched was excellent; but owing to detention at Salt river, where the troops and trains had to be ferried over, we were a day longer coming here than we expected to be. The weather has been delightful, warm as spring time. The nights are beautiful.

The regiment was greatly demoralized by our stay in the vicinity of Louisville, and on the march hither the boys were very disorderly and loth to obey; but, by dint of much scolding, we succeeded in getting them all through.

December, 13

Have been attached to the Seventeenth Brigade, and assigned to the Third Division; the latter commanded by General O. M. Mitchell. The General [87] remarked to me this morning, that the best drilled and conditioned regiments would lead in the march toward Nashville.

December, 15

Jake Smith, the driver of the Headquarters, wagon, on his arrival in Elizabethtown went to the hotel, and in an imperious way ordered dinner, assuring the landlord, with much emphasis, that he was “no damned common officer, and wanted a good dinner.”

December, 18

In camp at Bacon creek, eight miles north of Green river. Have been two days on the way from Elizabethtown; the road was bad. There were nine regiments in the column, which extended as far almost as the eye could reach.

At Louisville I was compelled to bear heavily on officers and men. On the march hither I have dealt very thoroughly with some of the most disorderly, and in consequence have become unpopular with the regiment.

December, 20

General Mitchell called this afternoon and requested me to form the regiment in a square. I did so, and he addressed it for twenty minutes on guard duty, throwing in here and there patriotic expressions, which encouraged and delighted the boys very much. When he departed they gave him three rousing cheers.

December, 21

A reconnaissance was made beyond Green river yesterday, and no enemy found.

We are short of supplies; entirely out of sugar, coffee, and candles, and the boys to-night indicated some faint symptoms of insbordination, but I assured [88] them we had made every effort possible to obtain these articles, and so quieted them.

Major Keifer was officer in charge of the camp yesterday, and when making the rounds last night a sentinel challenged, “Halt! Who comes there?” The sergeant responded, “Grand rounds,” whereupon the weary and disappointed Irishman retorted in angry tones: “Divil take the grand rounds, I thought it the relafe comin‘.”

December, 22

The pleasant days have ended. The clouds hang heavy and black, and the rain descends in torrents.

After eleven o'clock last night I accompanied General Mitchell to ten regiments, and with him made the grand rounds in most of them. As we rode from camp to camp the General made the time most agreeable and profitable to me, by delivering a very able lecture on military affairs; laying down what he denominated a simple and sure foundation for the beginner to build upon.

The wind is high and our stove smokes prodigiously. I have been out in the rain endeavoring to turn the pipe, but have not mended the matter at all. The Major insists that it is better to freeze than to be smoked to death, so we shall extinguish the fire and freeze.

Adjutant Mitchell has been commissioned captain and assigned to Company C.

December, 25

Gave passes to all the boys who desired to leave camp. The Major, Adjutant and I had a right royal Christmas dinner and a pleasant time. A fine [89] fat chicken, fried mush, coffee, peaches and milk, were on the table. The Major is engaged now in heating the second tea-pot of water for punch purposes. His countenance has become quite rosy; this is doubtless the effect of the fire. He has been unusually powerful in argument: but whether his intellect has been stimulated by the fire, the tea, or the punch, we are at this time wholly unable to decide; he certainly handles the tea-pot with consummate skill, and attacks the punch with exceeding vigor.

December, 27

No orders to advance. Armies travel slowly indeed. Within fifteen miles of the enemy and idly rotting in the mud.

Acting Brigadier-General Marrow when informed that Dumont would assume command of the brigade, became suddenly and violently ill, asked for and obtained a thirty-day leave.

I would give much to be home with the children during this holiday time; but unfortunately my health is too good, and will continue so in spite of me. The Major, poor man, is troubled in the same way.

December, 28

Lieutenant St. John goes to Louisville with a man who was arrested as a spy; and strange to say the arrest was made at the instance of the prisoner's uncle, who is a captain in the Union army.

Captain Mitchell assumes command of company C to-morrow. The Colonel is incensed at the Major and me, because of the Adjutant's promotion. He intended to make a place in the company for a noncommissioned officer, who begged money from the 8 [90] boys to buy him a sword. We astonished him, however, by showing three commissions-one for the Adjutant, and one each for a first and second lieutenant, all of the company's own choosing.

December, 30

Called on General Dumont this morning; he is a small man, with a thin piping voice, but an educated and affable gentleman. Did not make his acquaintance in West Virginia, he being unwell while there and confined to his quarters.

This is a peculiar country; there are innumerable caverns, and every few rods places are found where the crust of the earth appears to have broken and sunk down hundreds of feet. One mile from camp there is a large and interesting cave, which has been explored probably by every soldier of the regiment.

December, 31

General Buell is here, and a grand review took place to-day.

Since we left Elkwater there has been a steadily increasing element of insubordination manifested in many ways, but notably in an unwillingness to drill, in stealing from camp and remaining away for days. This, if tolerated much longer, will demoralize even the best of men and render the regiment worthless. [91]

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