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Diary of Rev. J. G. Law.

July 17th, 1862.—Spent the day playing chess with Dr. Alexander Erskine. News has been received of the capture of General Curtis and his command by General Hindman in Arkansas; also of the ‘debut’ of the Confederate ram Arkansas. She passed out of the Yazoo river, running through the Federal fleet, sinking two of their boats and disabling others.

Feel very uneasy about my mother and sisters in Memphis, as nothing has been heard from them since the 12th of June, and General Grant has issued an order expelling the families of Confederate soldiers from the city.

Sunday, July 20th.—This morning we had a grand review of Cheatham's division. General Polk and Governor Harris were on the field. The troops presented an imposing sight as the several brigades passed in review with banners floating to the breeze and bayonets gleaming brightly in the morning sunbeams. There were five brigades on the field. One of our country Captains forgot ‘Hardee's Tactics’ at company inspection, and, growing desperate, shouted, ‘Prepare to open ranks—widen out, split,’ and the boys split, widened out, and the ranks opened. But there was some side-splitting on that occasion, to the great discomfiture of the gallant Captain, who remembered the command, ‘Order in ranks.’ [216] But the Captain knows how to give the order, ‘Fix bayonets—charge!’ when he meets the Yankees.

July 22d.—On guard to-day. Donelson's and Maxey's brigades left this morning. Their destination is supposed to be Chattanooga, and we will follow on in a few days.

The camp is alive with joyous excitement to-night. Glorious news has been received from Morgan. It is reported that he is capturing towns and prisoners in Kentucky, threatening Louisville, and that the greatest consternation prevails in that city, and that the Federals are barricading the streets to keep the daring chieftain out. This news will be a good pillow for the soldier's couch to-night.

July 24th.—Our brigade received orders to cook three days rations and prepare to march. At 4 o'clock P. M. we were ordered to strike tents and put up rations. We will probably not get off before morning.

July 251h.—Reveille sounded this morning at 2 o'clock, and we were soon all ready and eager for the march. The soldiers are in high spirits over the prospect of soon stepping on the soil of glorious old Tennessee. Before the dawn of day we were formed in line and on the march for Tupelo, where we arrived at 6 o'clock A. M., and after a delay of about two hours the engine whistled, and we were off. Through the kindness of Colonel Fitzgerald I was appointed doorkeeper of the passenger car, and have a comfortable seat. We have passed through a beautiful country to-day. For miles on either side of the road the land was covered with green fields of waving corn. Many fair daughters of the land met us at the stations with refreshments, and waving their handkerchiefs, bid us God speed. We are now at Artesia, two hundred and nineteen miles from Mobile, waiting for the removal of obstructions from the track. The general impression is that we are executing a grand flank movement, and that the enemy will be forced to retreat and confront our army in Tennessee or Kentucky.

July 26th.—On Mobile bay. We arrived at Mobile at noon today, after a very pleasant journey, and found a guard of cavalry drawn up around the depot to prevent straggling; without delay the regiment marched in close order through the streets of the city to the bay, where we embarked on the steamer Natchez. After a delightful ride over the bay we arrived at the depot of the Florida and Alabama railroad, and will leave for Montgomery to-night. We were favored with a distant view of Lincoln's blockading fleet as we steamed down the bay. I can now appreciate as never before the [217] sentiment, ‘Distance lends enchantment to the view,’ for if we had passed within range of the blockader's guns our passage across the bay would have been rather disagreeable. We bought several watermellons, for which we paid from one dollar to one dollar and fifty cents a piece.

Sunday, July 27th—Montgomery, Alabama.—We reached this beautiful little city this evening at five o'clock. Here I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Erskine, who had preceded me several days. Walked up to the city immediately on our arrival, and enjoyed a good supper at the Exchange Hotel. Attended preaching at the Baptist church, in company with a Memphis friend. On our return to the hotel, we found ourselves, together with several others, surrounded by bayonets, and were politely informed that we were of sufficient importance to command an escort of honor back to camp, and that a guard had been detailed for that purpose. Of course our modesty compelled us to protest against such a display, and the modesty increased as visions of the ‘guard-house’ rose up before us. But our captors were inexorable, and so we were marched back to camp, and halted at the tent of Colonel Fitzgerald. The Colonel came out, and recognizing his prisoners, laughed heartily, and told us to go to our quarters. So ended my first arrest.

July 31st-Chattanooga, Tennessee.—Once more on Tennessee soil. Feel like falling upon the bosom of my old Mother State and embracing her sacred dust. We arrived here last night, after six days travel by rail. Left Montgomery on Monday at two o'clock P. M., and arrived at West Point about daylight the next morning. Paid one dollar for breakfast and spent the morning playing chess on the banks of the Chattahooche. Enjoyed a bath in the Alabama river at Montgomery, and called to see my friend Mrs. H——and family. Met with a most cordial welcome, and the dear, good woman filled my haversack with biscuit, chicken, and teacakes. What a feast the boys had on my return to camp! At five o'clock Tuesday evening we left West Point, and passed La Grange, running at full speed. A number of Georgia's fair daughters were at the depot, and as we passed waved their welcome to the hospitalities of the State. Passed Atlanta about daylight, and arrived at Marietta at six o'clock. As the train was delayed here for several hours, a beautiful young lady from South Carolina prepared breakfast for the soldiers. After a sumptuous feast prepared and served by the fair hands of our patriotic southern girl, I walked out to see my sweet cousin, Mrs. McL——, and returned just in time to jump on the train as it was [218] moving off. At nine o'clock in the evening we reached Chattanooga, having executed a flank movement wonderful in its conception, rapid in its execution, and pregnant with great results. We have changed our base of operations, right-wheeled around the flank of the enemy, and transferred the theatre of war from Mississippi to Tennessee. We are after Buell, and may expect the ‘tug of war’ before many days.

Sunday, August 3d.—Walked up to the top of Lookout Mountain and gathered some pebbles from the point of the rock. Enjoyed the walk very much; the morning was clear and the view magnificent. Saw the names of some friends carved in the rocks. At the hotel, where brave men and fair women were wont to congregate at this season of the year, patriotic soldiers from all parts of the South were languishing on beds of sickness and pain. What a revolutionizer is ‘grim-visaged war’! Hotels, watering places, pleasure and health resorts, and even holy sanctuaries, are changed into hospitals for sick, wounded and dying soldiers. Church bells are melted into cannon and ploughshares beaten into swords. How long shall our fair land be deluged in blood and cursed with the ravages of war? But we must fight on until our independence is won.

August 4th.—Was most agreeably surprised this morning by a visit from my most intimate friend and kinsman, Gus. Gordon. He is Major of the Sixth Alabama regiment, and was severely wounded at the battle of Seven Pines. He is now convalescent and is on his way to rejoin his regiment in Virginia. Gus is a noble fellow, and I love him as tenderly as Jonathan loved David.

August 5th.—Walked into Chattanooga this morning with Gus. and spent the day with him. He left this evening for Columbus, Georgia, en route for Virginia. The dear fellow was thoughtful enough to bring me a bag of vegetables from Sand Mountain.

August 6th.—On guard to-day; fortunately at a farmer's house guarding his peach trees. Nothing to do but to sit in my chair, otium cum dignitate, eat as much fruit as my appetite calls for, and see that nobody else touches a peach. The old man is a curiosity. He has been living here nine years and has never seen the town of Chattanooga. His house is at the foot of Lookout Mountain, and he has never been on the top of the mountain.

August 8th.—Left Chattanooga at 2 o'clock. Dined at the Crutchfield House, and jumped on the train as it was moving off. At Cleveland while Rembert Trezevant and I were filling canteens [219] with water the train suddenly started, and we had to make railroad time by striking an irregular double-quick step. I was about to fall in the act of leaping on board when one of my comrades extended a helping hand and drew me safely on board.

August 9th.—Awoke this morning at Knoxville. Went to market and bought chickens for thirty-five cents apiece. Breakfasted at the Bell House.

Sunday, August 10th.—On guard last night. Attended preaching at the Presbyterian Church and listened to a sermon from my old friend and former pastor, the Rev. Joseph H. Martin. The good man took bodily possession of me, carried me home with him, and sat me down to a good, plain Sunday dinner. Five years ago he received me into the communion of the church and was my pastor during my brief sojourn in this place. The cloud of war had not gathered over our country then, and neither of us dreamed of our meeting again in this place under the present circumstances. But here he is still at his post preaching the gospel of peace, and here I am at my post as a soldier of my country.

We are encamped on the Knoxville and Kentucky railroad, about one mile from the city.

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