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Diary of Rev. J. G. Law.

Advance into Kentucky.

August 13, 1862.—General Preston Smith's brigade left Knoxville at 5 o'clock this morning. We marched thirteen miles and halted for the night at 2 o'clock P. M. We rested about one hour during the march. The heat was intense and the dust almost suffocating. Harry Cowperthwaite, of the Maynards, was overcome by the intense heat and fainted under the scorching rays of the noonday sun. My knapsack was a heavy burden, but the anticipation of clean clothes helped me to endure the extra weight. Many of the boys left their knapsacks at Knoxville and will probably never see them again. The baggage of the officers is limited and my chess-board was left behind in Major Dawson's box. General Preston Smith has ordered brigade guard to-night and I am the unfortunate individual that represents the Maynard Rifles in that grand farce. But the drum beats and the guard must obey.

August 14.—Another day of intense suffering. Marched thirteen miles. Left camp at 3 o'clock this morning and crossed Clinch river at Clinton at 8 o'clock. The country through which we have passed to-day is thoroughly Union in sentiment, it being a rare exception to meet a good Southern man. The inhabitants are very poor and illiterate and it is not surprising that they have imbibed the principles of that precious pair of traitors, Andy Johnson and Horace Maynard.

August 15.—The troops have suffered terribly to-day. A heavy shower of rain fell last night, and blankets and knapsacks were thoroughly soaked. My tremendous load worried me considerably and it was hard to keep up with the regiment. We marched through the little village of Jacksboro this morning, where only two families of Southern principles reside. Here we heard the first cheer for Jeff. Davis, and saw the first white handkerchief waved since we left Knoxville. The face of the country is rugged and broken and we frequently have long ridges to climb, over rough, rocky roads; but the water is excellent and abundant, and the scenery grand and beautiful. [391] In the distance can be seen the blue peaks of the Cumberland Mountains kissing the skies, while the intervening valleys are covered over with grassy meadows and ripening grain. We camp to-night near the foot of the Cumberland Mountains, one mile from Big Creek Gap and forty miles from Knoxville. A general inspection of arms this evening causes some speculation as to the proximity of the enemy. The object of our movement is not known in the ranks, but we know that we are moving in the direction of the Yankees and can conjecture pretty well as to what is expected of us. When ‘Reb’ meets ‘Yank’ then comes the tug of war. In the morning we expect to pass through the gap and may look out for some sharp shooting. I must pray for grace to meet any emergency.

August 6.—The troops have stood the march well to-day. We all left our knapsacks this morning so as to be unencumbered with baggage in case of a fight. We have marched sixteen miles and are encamped a few miles from Wilson's Gap, which we will probably pass through to-night. The country through which we have marched today is wealthier and more refined than any portion of East Tennessee that we have yet seen, and the friends of the Southern cause increase proportionately with the intelligence and cultivation of the people.

Sunday, August 17.—Along, long, weary day. We were aroused from our slumbers last night at 12 o'clock, and resuming our march crossed the Cumberland Mountains by moonlight. As we slowly ascended the mountain with drooping eye-lids and weary limbs, some timorous mortal gave the alarm, and for a few moments there was considerable confusion in the ranks, but order was soon restored and the line of grey moved on without further incident, reaching the foot of the mountain on the Kentucky side just as the first grey streaks of morning appeared in the East. On we marched ‘o'er hill and dale’ until 8 o'clock, when we rested about two hours. We then fell into line and continued our march all the live-long day, bivouacing at sunset. Our cavalry had a skirmish with the enemy this evening and brought in nine live Yankees with their horses. We may have some fighting to-morrow as the blue-coats have made their appearance. We have marched twenty-six miles to-day through a wild and desolate region. The inhabitants of this mountain wilderness are wrapped in profound ignorance. Some of them do not know in what year they live and are under the impression that Andrew Jackson is President of the United States.

August I8.—Barboursville, Ky. After marching since 2 o'clock [392] this morning, and crossing a mountain before daylight, we find ourselves invading the grand old Commonwealth of Kentucky. We have marched twenty miles to-day, and the troops are worn out with the extraordinary exertions of the past two days; but a detail has been ordered for picket duty, and, alas, for my hopes of a good night's rest—my name is among the unfortunates. But we are in the face of the enemy and must guard against a night surprise. I feel unequal to the duty, but others are as tired as I am and the wants of nature must yield to the safety of the camp. The detail from our regiment is sixty men. We expected to meet with some resistance at this place, but the Yankees fled before our approach, in great haste, leaving their tents standing, several wagons, a fine ambulance (which they will need), cooking utensils, beds, and a large quantity of commissary stores, on which we regaled ourselves with thanks to the ‘blue coats’ for their hospitable entertainment. It far exceeded our most sanguine expectations, but not our necessities, as some of the boys had been out of provisions for two days. I ate and gave away my last biscuit this morning. We halted at 12 o'clock on the banks of the Cumberland River for dinner, but alas, every haversack was empty. Fortunately there was a corn-field near at hand, which supplied us with an ear of corn each, and with one biscuit, which Captain Cole kindly gave me, I managed to stop the clamoring of my most unreasonable stomach. After dinner we crossed the Cumberland River and moving forward rapidly, occupied this place without opposition. We were received with no demonstrations of joy; on the contrary, the good people look sad and downcast, and I feel as if we were really in the enemy's country.

August 19.—Picket guard was relieved this morning, and I have spent the day bathing in the Cumberland River, walking about the town, and sleeping. Had no dinner, save one solitary cracker and a piece of ham left from breakfast. We have captured several fine wagons and teams to-day and some prisoners. It is the general impression in camp that we will either move on to Lexington from here or surround Cumberland Gap and compel the capitulation of the Federal General Morgan. It is said that we are waiting for Marshall and Heth.

August 20.—Spent the morning reading Northern papers kindly left by the Yankees in camp for our entertainment. I fear that we have taxed their hospitality too heavily, as the commissary stores have fallen short. No rations issued, and we have subsisted to-day on green corn and apples. We need a more substantial diet, but as [393] we have no base of supplies we must eat what is set before us and ask no questions. We have entered the borders of the land that flows with ‘milk and honey’ and can live for a few days on the anticipation of the coming feast.

August 21.—The One Hundred and Fifty-fourth Tennessee regiment moved out five miles this morning. The supposed object of the expedition is to drive up beeves, though some are of opinion that we are in search of ‘bushwackers.’ The last supposition seems to be the most probable one from the fact that soon after leaving camp we were ordered to load, and a company was thrown forward as skirmishers and ordered to scour the woods and mountain sides. But this may have only been a precautionary measure. One of Captain DeGraffenreid's men was shot in the arm. At the report of the rifle some of the boys took to the trees and prepared to fight bushwackers in Indian style, but order was soon restored and we moved forward and halted for the night on the side of a mountain, where beef was issued and broiled on sticks.

August 22.—Returned to Barboursville this morning. Breakfasted on beef, a la solitaire. About 11 o'clock Colonel Fitzgerald halted the regiment by the side of a cornfield and we were turned in to graze like a herd of cattle. We roasted several ears of corn, rested an hour or so and then marched into Barboursville with flying colors. Another one of Captain DeGraffenreid's men was shot on picket last night. The result of our expedition is two men wounded. Beef and bushwackers were scarce. Sixty wagon loads of captured provisions came in this evening, including flour, bacon, coffee, &c. The Yankees are overwhelming us with kindness, and their hospitality seems to know no bounds. One day's rations of flour was issued to the hungry ‘Rebs,’ and biscuit are again in sight. We expect to march on Manchester to-morrow, twenty-four miles distant.

August 23.—Marched fourteen miles and halted at sunset. We have no base of supplies and are dependent upon the forced hospitality of the Yankees and the produce of the country. Ten days rations of salt were issued before we left Barboursville. My baggage consists of my gun and accoutrements, blanket, canteen, and two haversacks, one for salt and the other for my Bible, note-book, and chess-men. There is a grim significance in the ten days ration of salt. It evidently means that we are expected to whip the Yankees within that time and draw rations from the Federal Government; or it may be that we are expected to salt the carcases of those who fall in the wilderness before we get to the promised land. We have had [394] a hard time marching to-day through a drenching rain and over muddy, slippery roads. The eager soldiers seemed to take about as many steps backward as forward, and the wonder is that we made any progress at all, but in the afternoon the rain ceased to fall, the sun broke through the clouds, and our struggling column of grey moved cheerily forward in the direction of the commissary department. Coffee and bacon were issued.

Sunday, August 24.—Manchester. We reached this place about noon and captured a large stock of crackers, cheese, tobacco, candy, &c., which had been left for our bodily comfort by the thoughtful Federals. As we advance into Kentucky we meet with more sympathy and the Southern sentiment begins to be more strongly developed. The dreaded bushwackers fired into the ranks of the old One Hundred and Fifty-fourth this morning, but fortunately no harm was done, and we moved on with closed ranks.

August 25.—Left Manchester at 2 o'clock P. M. and marched nine miles. Bought flour enough for two days rations for the ‘mess.’ Cheese and cakes are now being issued, and we will reap some of the fruits of our bloodless victory at Manchester.

August 26.—We halt to-night three miles from London, and seventy miles from Lexington. Marched nineteen miles. The weather is intensely hot, and the roads very dusty. We have now penetrated almost into the heart of Kentucky, and have met with no organized opposition. We are supported by the Federal Government, as we have drawn no rations from the Confederate commissary since we entered Kentucky. Salt is plentiful, and the troops are in splendid condition.

August 27.—We sleep to-night within three feet of Rock Castle river. Left London early this morning, and marched thirteen miles. Halted at noon. Bathed in the river, and as my knapsack had just come up, I rigged out in clean clothes, a luxury to which I have been quite a stranger for some weeks. And now let the pestilent ‘camp followers’ depart for a season. We will cross the river in the morning and advance on Richmond, where we will probably meet the enemy and fight for rations. Our very existence depends on our success in the approaching struggle, and we cannot afford to be defeated.

August 29.—Rested all day yesterday, and left camp at 5 o'clock P. M. Marched fifteen miles, and halted at midnight. I was wellnigh exhaused, and had I given way to the feeling of fatigue, would have broken down. Slept soundly until early this morning, when we [395] fell into line and marched twelve miles. The cavalry in our front had been fighting all day, and intelligence has just been received that General Cleburne has attacked the enemy. We are holding ourselves in readiness to reinforce the gallant Irishman. I feel confident of the result in the impending battle, and firmly believe that we will be in Richmond to-morrow, living on the fat of the land. But some of us will pay the price of victory with our life's blood. May God give us the victory and have mercy upon the souls that are about to be suddenly ushered into the presence of their Maker. The troops are in splendid fighting trim, and victory seems to be a foregone conclusion. But we must not be over-confident, but remembering that he that putteth on the harness should not boast as he that taketh it off, look to Divine power for succor in the day of battle.

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