Sam R. Watkins
Part 3 out of 5
back to camp.
DR. C. T. QUINTARD
Dr. C. T. Quintard was our chaplain for the First Tennessee Regiment
during the whole war, and he stuck to us from the beginning even unto the
end. During week days he ministered to us physically, and on Sundays
spiritually. He was one of the purest and best men I ever knew. He
would march and carry his knapsack every day the same as any soldier.
He had one text he preached from which I remember now. It was "the
flying scroll." He said there was a flying scroll continually passing
over our heads, which was like the reflections in a looking-glass,
and all of our deeds, both good and bad, were written upon it. He was a
good doctor of medicine, as well as a good doctor of divinity, and above
either of these, he was a good man per se. Every old soldier of the
First Tennessee Regiment will remember Dr. C. T. Quintard with the
kindest and most sincere emotions of love and respect. He would go off
into the country and get up for our regiment clothing and provisions,
and wrote a little prayer and song book, which he had published, and gave
it to the soldiers. I learned that little prayer and song book off by
heart, and have a copy of it in my possession yet, which I would not
part with for any consideration. Dr. Quintard's nature was one of love.
He loved the soldiers, and the soldiers loved him, and deep down in
his heart of hearts was a deep and lasting love for Jesus Christ, the
Redeemer of the world, implanted there by God the Father Himself.
Y'S YOU GOT MY HOG?
One day, a party of "us privates" concluded we would go across the
Conasauga river on a raid. We crossed over in a canoe. After traveling
for some time, we saw a neat looking farm house, and sent one of the
party forward to reconnoiter. He returned in a few minutes and announced
that he had found a fine fat sow in a pen near the house. Now, the plan
we formed was for two of us to go into the house and keep the inmates
interested and the other was to toll and drive off the hog. I was one
of the party which went into the house. There was no one there but an
old lady and her sick and widowed daughter. They invited us in very
pleasantly and kindly, and soon prepared us a very nice and good dinner.
The old lady told us of all her troubles and trials. Her husband had
died before the war, and she had three sons in the army, two of whom had
been killed, and the youngest, who had been conscripted, was taken with
the camp fever and died in the hospital at Atlanta, and she had nothing
to subsist upon, after eating up what they then had. I was much
interested, and remained a little while after my comrade had left.
I soon went out, having made up my mind to have nothing to do with the
hog affair. I did not know how to act. I was in a bad fix. I had heard
the gun fire and knew its portent. I knew the hog was dead, and went on
up the road, and soon overtook my two comrades with the hog, which had
been skinned and cut up, and was being carried on a pole between them.
I did not know what to do. On looking back I saw the old lady coming and
screaming at the top of her voice, "You got my hog! You got my hog!"
It was too late to back out now. We had the hog, and had to make the
most of it, even if we did ruin a needy and destitute family. We went on
until we came to the Conasauga river, when lo and behold! the canoe was
on the other side of the river. It was dark then, and getting darker,
and what was to be done we did not know. The weather was as cold as
blue blazes, and spitting snow from the northwest. That river had to be
crossed that night. I undressed and determined to swim it, and went in,
but the little thin ice at the bank cut my feet. I waded in a little
further, but soon found I would cramp if I tried to swim it. I came out
and put my clothes on, and thought of a gate about a mile back. We went
back and took the gate off its hinges and carried it to the river and put
it in the water, but soon found out that all three of us could not ride
on it; so one of the party got on it and started across. He did very
well until he came to the other bank, which was a high bluff, and if
he got off the center of the gate it would capsize and he would get a
ducking. He could not get off the gate. I told him to pole the gate up
to the bank, so that one side would rest on the bank, and then make a
quick run for the bank. He thought he had got the gate about the right
place, and then made a run, and the gate went under and so did he,
in water ten feet deep. My comrade, Fount C., who was with me on the
bank, laughed, I thought, until he had hurt himself; but with me, I
assure you, it was a mighty sickly grin, and with the other one, Barkley
J., it was anything but a laughing matter. To me he seemed a hero.
Barkley did about to liberate me from a very unpleasant position.
He soon returned with the canoe, and we crossed the river with the hog.
We worried and tugged with it, and got it to camp just before daylight.
I had a guilty conscience, I assure you. The hog was cooked, but I did
not eat a piece of it. I felt that I had rather starve, and I believe
that it would have choked me to death if I had attempted it.
A short time afterward an old citizen from Maury county visited me.
My father sent me, by him, a silver watch--which I am wearing today--
and eight hundred dollars in old issue Confederate money. I took two
hundred dollars of the money, and had it funded for new issue, 33 1/3
cents discount. The other six hundred I sent to Vance Thompson, then
on duty at Montgomery, with instructions to send it to my brother, Dave
Watkins, Uncle Asa Freeman, and J. E. Dixon, all of whom were in
Wheeler's cavalry, at some other point--I knew not where. After getting
my money, I found that I had $133.33 1/3. I could not rest. I took one
hundred dollars, new issue, and going by my lone self back to the old
lady's house, I said, "Madam, some soldiers were here a short time ago,
and took your hog. I was one of that party, and I wish to pay you for
it. What was it worth?" "Well, sir," says she, "money is of no value to
me; I cannot get any article that I wish; I would much rather have the
hog." Says I, "Madam, that is an impossibility; your hog is dead and eat
up, and I have come to pay you for it." The old lady's eyes filled with
tears. She said that she was perfectly willing to give the soldiers
everything she had, and if she thought it had done us any good, she would
not charge anything for it.
"Well," says I, "Madam, here is a hundred dollar, new issue, Confederate
bill. Will this pay you for your hog?" "Well, sir," she says, drawing
herself up to her full height, her cheeks flushed and her eyes flashing,
"I do not want your money. I would feel that it was blood money."
I saw that there was no further use to offer it to her. I sat down by
the fire and the conversation turned upon other subjects.
I helped the old lady catch a chicken (an old hen--about the last she had)
for dinner, went with her in the garden and pulled a bunch of eschalots,
brought two buckets of water, and cut and brought enough wood to last
After awhile, she invited me to dinner, and after dinner I sat down by
her side, took her old hand in mine, and told her the whole affair of the
hog, from beginning to end; how sorry I was, and how I did not eat any
of that hog; and asked her as a special act of kindness and favor to me,
to take the hundred dollars; that I felt bad about it, and if she would
take it, it would ease my conscience. I laid the money on the table and
left. I have never in my life made a raid upon anybody else.
By some hook, or crook, or blockade running, or smuggling, or Mason and
Slidell, or Raphael Semmes, or something of the sort, the Confederate
States government had come in possession of a small number of Whitworth
guns, the finest long range guns in the world, and a monopoly by the
English government. They were to be given to the best shots in the army.
One day Captain Joe P. Lee and Company H went out to shoot at a target
for the gun. We all wanted the gun, because if we got it we would be
sharpshooters, and be relieved from camp duty, etc.
All the generals and officers came out to see us shoot. The mark was put
up about five hundred yards on a hill, and each of us had three shots.
Every shot that was fired hit the board, but there was one man who came
a little closer to the spot than any other one, and the Whitworth was
awarded him; and as we just turned round to go back to camp, a buck
rabbit jumped up, and was streaking it as fast as he could make tracks,
all the boys whooping and yelling as hard as they could, when Jimmy
Webster raised his gun and pulled down on him, and cut the rabbit's head
entirely off with a minnie ball right back of his ears. He was about
two hundred and fifty yards off. It might have been an accidental shot,
but General Leonidas Polk laughed very heartily at the incident, and I
heard him ask one of his staff if the Whitworth gun had been awarded.
The staff officer responded that it had, and that a certain man in
Colonel Farquharson's regiment--the Fourth Tennessee--was the successful
contestant, and I heard General Polk remark, "I wish I had another gun to
give, I would give it to the young man that shot the rabbit's head off."
None of our regiment got a Whitworth, but it has been subsequently
developed that our regiment had some of the finest shots in it the world
ever produced. For instance, George and Mack Campbell, of Maury county;
Billy Watkins, of Nashville, and Colonel H. R. Field, and many others,
who I cannot now recall to mind in this rapid sketch.
UNCLE ZACK AND AUNT DAPHNE
While at this place, I went out one day to hunt someone to wash my
clothes for me. I never was a good washerwoman. I could cook, bring
water and cut wood, but never was much on the wash. In fact, it was an
uphill business for me to wash up "the things" after "grub time" in our
I took my clothes and started out, and soon came to a little old negro
hut. I went in and says to an old negress, "Aunty, I would like for you
to do a little washing for me." The old creature was glad to get it,
as I agreed to pay her what it was worth. Her name was Aunt Daphne,
and if she had been a politician, she would have been a success. I do
not remember of a more fluent "conversationalist" in my life. Her tongue
seemed to be on a balance, and both ends were trying to out-talk the
other--but she was a good woman. Her husband was named Uncle Zack,
and was the exact counterpart of Aunt Daphne. He always sat in the
chimney corner, his feet in the ashes, and generally fast asleep.
I am certain I never saw an uglier or more baboonish face in my life,
but Uncle Zack was a good Christian, and I would sometimes wake him up
to hear him talk Christian.
He said that when he "fessed 'ligin, de debil come dare one nite, and say,
'Zack, come go wid me,' and den de debil tek me to hell, and jes stretch
a wire across hell, and hang me up jes same like a side of bacon, through
the tongue. Well, dar I hang like de bacon, and de grease kept droppin'
down, and would blaze up all 'round me. I jes stay dar and burn; and
after while de debil come 'round wid his gun, and say, 'Zack, I gwine to
shoot you,' and jes as he raise de gun, I jes jerk loose from dat wire,
and I jes fly to heben."
"Fly! did you have wings?"
"O, yes, sir, I had wings."
"Well, after you got to heaven, what did you do then?"
"Well, I jes went to eatin' grass like all de balance of de lams."
"What! were they eating grass?"
"O, yes, sir."
"Well, what color were the lambs, Uncle Zack?"
"Well, sir, some of dem was white, and some black, and some spotted."
"Were there no old rams or ewes among them?"
"No, sir; dey was all lams."
"Well, Uncle Zack, what sort of a looking lamb were you?"
"Well, sir, I was sort of specklish and brown like."
Old Zack begins to get sleepy.
"Did you have horns, Uncle Zack?"
"Well, some of dem had little horns dat look like dey was jes sorter
Zack begins to nod and doze a little.
"Well, how often did they shear the lambs, Uncle Zack?"
"Well, w-e-l-l, w--e--l--l--," and Uncle Zack was fast asleep and snoring,
and dreaming no doubt of the beautiful pastures glimmering above the
clouds of heaven.
While here I applied for a furlough. Now, reader, here commenced a
series of red tapeism that always had characterized the officers under
Braggism. It had to go through every officer's hands, from corporal up,
before it was forwarded to the next officer of higher grade, and so it
passed through every officer's hands. He felt it his sworn and bound
duty to find some informality in it, and it was brought back for
correction according to his notions, you see. Well, after getting the
corporal's consent and approval, it goes up to the sergeant. It ain't
right! Some informality, perhaps, in the wording and spelling. Then
the lieutenants had to have a say in it, and when it got to the captain,
it had to be read and re-read, to see that every "i" was dotted and "t"
crossed, but returned because there was one word that he couldn't make
out. Then it was forwarded to the colonel. He would snatch it out of
your hand, grit his teeth, and say, "D--n it;" feel in his vest pocket
and take out a lead pencil, and simply write "app." for approved.
This would also be returned, with instructions that the colonel must
write "approved" in a plain hand, and with pen and ink. Then it went to
the brigadier-general. He would be engaged in a game of poker, and would
tell you to call again, as he didn't have time to bother with those small
affairs at present. "I'll see your five and raise you ten." "I have a
straight flush." "Take the pot." After setting him out, and when it
wasn't his deal, I get up and walk around, always keeping the furlough
in sight. After reading carefully the furlough, he says, "Well, sir,
you have failed to get the adjutant's name to it. You ought to have the
colonel and adjutant, and you must go back and get their signatures."
After this, you go to the major-general. He is an old aristocratic
fellow, who never smiles, and tries to look as sour as vinegar. He looks
at the furlough, and looks down at the ground, holding the furlough in
his hand in a kind of dreamy way, and then says, "Well, sir, this is
all informal." You say, "Well, General, what is the matter with it?"
He looks at you as if he hadn't heard you, and repeats very slowly, "Well,
sir, this is informal," and hands it back to you. You take it, feeling
all the while that you wished you had not applied for a furlough, and
by summoning all the fortitude that you possess, you say in a husky and
choking voice, "Well, general (you say the "general" in a sort of gulp
and dry swallow), what's the matter with the furlough?" You look askance,
and he very languidly re-takes the furlough and glances over it, orders
his negro boy to go and feed his horse, asks his cook how long it will be
before dinner, hallooes at some fellow away down the hill that he would
like for him to call at 4 o'clock this evening, and tells his adjutant to
sign the furlough. The adjutant tries to be smart and polite, smiles a
smole both child-like and bland, rolls up his shirt-sleeves, and winks
one eye at you, gets astraddle of a camp-stool, whistles a little stanza
of schottische, and with a big flourish of his pen, writes the major-
general's name in small letters, and his own--the adjutant's--in very
large letters, bringing the pen under it with tremendous flourishes,
and writes approved and forwarded. You feel relieved. You feel that the
anaconda's coil had been suddenly relaxed. Then you start out to the
lieutenant-general; you find him. He is in a very learned and dignified
conversation about the war in Chili. Well, you get very anxious for the
war in Chili to get to an end. The general pulls his side-whiskers,
looks wise, and tells his adjutant to look over it, and, if correct,
sign it. The adjutant does not deign to condescend to notice you.
He seems to be full of gumbo or calf-tail soup, and does not wish his
equanimity disturbed. He takes hold of the document, and writes the
lieutenant-general's name, and finishes his own name while looking in
another direction--approved and forwarded. Then you take it up to the
general; the guard stops you in a very formal way, and asks, "What do you
want?" You tell him. He calls for the orderly; the orderly gives it to
the adjutant, and you are informed that it will be sent to your colonel
tonight, and given to you at roll-call in the morning. Now, reader,
the above is a pretty true picture of how I got my furlough.
I GET A FURLOUGH
After going through all the formality of red-tapeism, and being snubbed
with tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee, I got my furlough. When it started out,
it was on the cleanest piece of paper that could be found in Buck
Lanier's sutler's store. After it came back, it was pretty well used up,
and looked as if it had gone through a very dark place, and been beat
with a soot-bag. But, anyhow, I know that I did not appreciate my
furlough half as much as I thought I would. I felt like returning it to
the gentlemen with my compliments, declining their kind favors. I felt
that it was unwillingly given, and, as like begets like, it was very
unwillingly received. Honestly, I felt as if I had made a bad bargain,
and was keen to rue the trade. I did not know what to do with it; but,
anyhow, I thought I would make the best of a bad bargain. I got on the
cars at Dalton--now, here is a thing that I had long since forgotten
about--it was the first first-class passenger car that I had been in
since I had been a soldier. The conductor passed around, and handed me
a ticket with these words on it:
"If you wish to travel with ease,
Keep this ticket in sight, if you please;
And if you wish to take a nap,
Just stick this in your hat or cap."
This was the poetry, reader, that was upon the ticket. The conductor
called around every now and then, especially if you were asleep, to look
at your ticket, and every now and then a captain and a detail of three
soldiers would want to look at your furlough. I thought before I got to
Selma, Alabama, that I wished the ticket and furlough both were in the
bottom of the ocean, and myself back in camp. Everywhere I went someone
wanted to see my furlough. Before I got my furlough, I thought it
sounded big. Furlough was a war word, and I did not comprehend its
meaning until I got one. The very word "furlough" made me sick then.
I feel fainty now whenever I think of furlough. It has a sickening sound
in the ring of it--"furlough!" "Furloch," it ought to have been called.
Every man I met had a furlough; in fact, it seemed to have the very
double-extract of romance about it--"fur too, eh?" Men who I knew had
never been in the army in their lives, all had furloughs. Where so many
men ever got furloughs from I never knew; but I know now. They were like
the old bachelor who married the widow with ten children--he married a
"ready-made" family. They had ready-made furloughs. But I have said
enough on the furlough question; it enthralled me--let it pass; don't
want any more furloughs. But while on my furlough, I got with Captain
G. M. V. Kinzer, a fine-dressed and handsome cavalry captain, whom all
the ladies (as they do at the present day), fell in love with. The
captain and myself were great friends. The captain gave me his old coat
to act captain in, but the old thing wouldn't act. I would keep the
collar turned down. One night we went to call on a couple of beautiful
and interesting ladies near Selma. We chatted the girls until the "wee
sma' hours" of morning, and when the young ladies retired, remarked that
they would send a servant to show us to our room. We waited; no servant
came. The captain and myself snoozed it out as best we could. About
daylight the next morning the captain and myself thought that we would
appear as if we had risen very early, and began to move about, and
opening the door, there lay a big black negro on his knees and face.
Now, reader, what do you suppose that negro was doing? You could not
guess in a week. The black rascal! hideous! terrible to contemplate!
vile! outrageous! Well, words cannot express it. What do you suppose he
was doing? He was fast asleep. He had come thus far, and could go no
further, and fell asleep. There is where the captain and myself found
him at daylight the next morning. We left for Selma immediately after
breakfast, leaving the family in ignorance of the occurrence. The
captain and myself had several other adventures, but the captain always
had the advantage of me; he had the good clothes, and the good looks,
and got all the good presents from the pretty young ladies--well, you
might say, "cut me out" on all occasions. "That's what makes me 'spise
a furlough." But then furlough sounds big, you know.
HUNDRED DAYS BATTLE
ROCKY FACE RIDGE
When I got back to Dalton, I found the Yankee army advancing; they were
at Rocky Face Ridge. Now, for old Joe's generalship. We have seen him
in camp, now we will see him in action. We are marched to meet the enemy;
we occupy Turner's Gap at Tunnel Hill. Now, come on, Mr. Yank--we are
keen for an engagement. It is like a picnic; the soldiers are ruddy and
fat, and strong; whoop! whoop! hurrah! come on, Mr. Yank. We form line
of battle on top of Rocky Face Ridge, and here we are face to face with
the enemy. Why don't you unbottle your thunderbolts and dash us to
pieces? Ha! here it comes; the boom of cannon and the bursting of a
shell in our midst. Ha! ha! give us another blizzard! Boom! boom!
That's all right, you ain't hurting nothing.
"Hold on, boys," says a sharpshooter, armed with a Whitworth gun, "I'll
stop that racket. Wait until I see her smoke again." Boom, boom! the
keen crack of the Whitworth rings upon the frosty morning air; the
cannoneers are seen to lie down; something is going on. "Yes, yonder is
a fellow being carried off on a litter." Bang! bang! goes the Whitworth,
and the battery is seen to limber to the rear. What next? a yell!
What does this yell mean? A charge right up the hill, and a little
sharp skirmish for a few moments. We can see the Yankee line. They are
resting on their arms. The valley below is full of blue coats, but a
little too far off to do any execution.
Old Joe walks along the line. He happens to see the blue coats in the
valley, in plain view. Company H is ordered to fire on them. We take
deliberate aim and fire a solid volley of minnie balls into their midst.
We see a terrible consplutterment among them, and know that we have
killed and wounded several of Sherman's incendiaries. They seem to get
mad at our audacity, and ten pieces of cannon are brought up, and pointed
right toward us. We see the smoke boil up, and a moment afterwards the
shell is roaring and bursting right among us. Ha! ha! ha! that's funny--
we love the noise of battle. Captain Joe P. Lee orders us to load and
fire at will upon these batteries. Our Enfields crack, keen and sharp;
and ha, ha, ha, look yonder! The Yankees are running away from their
cannon, leaving two pieces to take care of themselves. Yonder goes a
dash of our cavalry. They are charging right up in the midst of the
Yankee line. Three men are far in advance. Look out, boys! What does
that mean? Our cavalry are falling back, and the three men are cut off.
They will be captured, sure. They turn to get back to our lines.
We can see the smoke boil up, and hear the discharge of musketry from the
Yankee lines. One man's horse is seen to blunder and fall, one man reels
in his saddle, and falls a corpse, and the other is seen to surrender.
But, look yonder! the man's horse that blundered and fell is up again;
he mounts his horse in fifty yards of the whole Yankee line, is seen to
lie down on his neck, and is spurring him right on toward the solid line
of blue coats. Look how he rides, and the ranks of the blue coats open.
Hurrah for the brave rebel boy! He has passed and is seen to regain his
regiment. I afterwards learned that that brave Rebel boy was my own
brother, Dave, who at that time was not more than sixteen years old.
The one who was killed was named Grimes, and the one captured was named
Houser, and the regiment was the First Tennessee Cavalry, then commanded
by Colonel J. H. Lewis. You could have heard the cheers from both sides,
it seemed, for miles.
John Branch raised the tune, in which the whole First and Twenty-seventh
Regiments joined in:
"Cheer, boys, cheer, we are marching on to battle!
Cheer, boys, cheer, for our sweethearts and our wives!
Cheer, boys, cheer, we'll nobly do our duty,
And give to the South our hearts, our arms, our lives.
Old Lincoln, with his hireling hosts,
Will never whip the South,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom."
All this is taking place while the Yankees are fully one thousand yards
off. We can see every movement that is made, and we know that Sherman's
incendiaries are already hacked. Sherman himself is a coward, and dares
not try his strength with old Joe. Sherman never fights; all that he
is after is marching to the sea, while the world looks on and wonders:
"What a flank movement!" Yes, Sherman is afraid of minnie balls, and
tries the flank movement. We are ordered to march somewhere.
Old Joe knows what he is up to. Every night we change our position.
The morrow's sun finds us face to face with the Yankee lines. The troops
are in excellent spirits. Yonder are our "big guns," our cavalry--
Forrest and Wheeler--our sharpshooters, and here is our wagon and supply
train, right in our midst. The private's tread is light--his soul is
Another flank movement. Tomorrow finds us face to face. Well, you have
come here to fight us; why don't you come on? We are ready; always
ready. Everything is working like clockwork; machinery is all in order.
Come, give us a tilt, and let us try our metal. You say old Joe has got
the brains and you have got the men; you are going to flank us out of the
Southern Confederacy. That's your plan, is it? Well, look out; we are
going to pick off and decimate your men every day. You will be a picked
chicken before you do that.
What? The Yankees are at Resacca, and have captured the bridge across
the Oostanaula river. Well, now, that's business; that has the old ring
in it. Tell it to us again; we're fond of hearing such things.
The Yankees are tearing up the railroad track between the tank and
Resacca. Let's hear it again. The Yankees have opened the attack;
we are going to have a battle; we are ordered to strip for the fight.
(That is, to take off our knapsacks and blankets, and to detail Bev.
White to guard them.) Keep closed up, men. The skirmish line is firing
like popping fire-crackers on a Christmas morning. Every now and then
the boom of a cannon and the screaming of a shell. Ha, ha, ha! that has
the right ring. We will make Sherman's incendiaries tell another tale in
a few moments, when--"Halt! about face." Well, what's the matter now?
Simply a flank movement. All right; we march back, retake our knapsacks
and blankets, and commence to march toward Resacca. Tom Tucker's rooster
crows, and John Branch raises the tune, "Just Twenty Years Ago," and
after we sing that out, he winds up with, "There Was an Ancient
Individual Whose Cognomen Was Uncle Edward," and
"The old woman who kept a peanut stand,
And a big policeman stood by with a big stick in his hand,"
And Arthur Fulghum halloes out, "All right; go ahead! toot, toot, toot!
puff, puff, puff! Tickets, gentlemen, tickets!" and the Maury Grays
raise the yell, "All aboard for Culleoka," while Walker Coleman commences
the song, "I'se gwine to jine the rebel band, fightin' for my home."
Thus we go, marching back to Resacca.
BATTLE OF RESACCA
Well, you want to hear about shooting and banging, now, gentle reader,
don't you? I am sorry I cannot interest you on this subject--see history.
The Yankees had got breeches hold on us. They were ten miles in our rear;
had cut off our possibility of a retreat. The wire bridge was in their
hands, and they were on the railroad in our rear; but we were moving,
there was no mistake in that. Our column was firm and strong. There was
no excitement, but we were moving along as if on review. We passed old
Joe and his staff. He has on a light or mole colored hat, with a black
feather in it. He is listening to the firing going on at the front.
One little cheer, and the very ground seems to shake with cheers.
Old Joe smiles as blandly as a modest maid, raises his hat in
acknowledgement, makes a polite bow, and rides toward the firing.
Soon we are thrown into line of battle, in support of Polk's corps.
We belong to Hardee's corps. Now Polk's corps advances to the attack,
and Hardee's corps fifty or seventy-five yards in the rear. A thug, thug,
thug; the balls are decimating our men; we can't fire; Polk's corps is in
front of us; should it give way, then it will be our time. The air is
full of deadly missiles. We can see the two lines meet, and hear the
deadly crash of battle; can see the blaze of smoke and fire. The earth
trembles. Our little corps rush in to carry off our men as they are shot
down, killed and wounded. Lie down! thug, thug! General Hardee passes
along the line. "Steady, boys!" (The old general had on a white cravat;
he had been married to a young wife not more than three weeks). "Go back,
general, go back, go back, go back," is cried all along the line.
He passes through the missiles of death unscathed; stood all through that
storm of bullets indifferent to their proximity (we were lying down,
you know). The enemy is checked; yonder they fly, whipped and driven
from the field. "Attention! By the right flank, file left, march!
Double quick!" and we were double quicking, we knew not whither, but
that always meant fight. We pass over the hill, and through the valley,
and there is old Joe pointing toward the tank with his sword. (He looked
like the pictures you see hung upon the walls). We cross the railroad.
Halloo! here comes a cavalry charge from the Yankee line. Now for it;
we will see how Yankee cavalry fight. We are not supported; what is
the matter? Are we going to be captured? They thunder down upon us.
Their flat-footed dragoons shake and jar the earth. They are all around
us--we are surrounded. "Form square! Platoons, right and left wheel!
Kneel and fire!" There we were in a hollow square. The Yankees had
never seen anything like that before. It was something new. They
charged right upon us. Colonel Field, sitting on his gray mare, right in
the center of the hollow square, gives the command, "Front rank, kneel
and present bayonet against cavalry." The front rank knelt down, placing
the butts of their guns against their knees. "Rear rank, fire at will;
commence firing." Now, all this happened in less time than it has taken
me to write it. They charged right upon us, no doubt expecting to ride
right over us, and trample us to death with the hoofs of their horses.
They tried to spur and whip their horses over us, but the horses had more
sense than that. We were pouring a deadly fire right into their faces,
and soon men and horses were writhing in the death agonies; officers were
yelling at the top of their voices, "Surrender! surrender!" but we were
having too good a thing of it. We were killing them by scores, and they
could not fire at us; if they did they either overshot or missed their
aim. Their ranks soon began to break and get confused, and finally they
were routed, and broke and ran in all directions, as fast as their horses
could carry them.
When we re-formed our regiment and marched back, we found that General
Johnston's army had all passed over the bridge at Resacca. Now, reader,
this was one of our tight places. The First Tennessee Regiment was
always ordered to hold tight places, which we always did. We were about
the last troops that passed over.
Now, gentle reader, that is all I know of the battle of Resacca. We
had repulsed every charge, had crossed the bridge with every wagon, and
cannon, and everything, and had nothing lost or captured. It beat
anything that has ever been recorded in history. I wondered why old Joe
did not attack in their rear. The explanation was that Hood's line was
being enfiladed, his men decimated, and he could not hold his position.
We are still fighting; battles innumerable. The Yankees had thrown
pontoons across the river below Resacca, in hopes to intercept us on the
other side. We were marching on the road; they seemed to be marching
parallel with us. It was fighting, fighting, every day. When we awoke
in the morning, the firing of guns was our reveille, and when the sun
went down it was our "retreat and our lights out." Fighting, fighting,
fighting, all day and all night long. Battles were fought every day,
and in one respect we always had the advantage; they were the attacking
party, and we always had good breastworks thrown up during the night.
Johnston's army was still intact. The soldiers drew their regular
rations of biscuit and bacon, sugar and coffee, whisky and tobacco.
When we went to sleep we felt that old Joe, the faithful old watch dog,
had his eye on the enemy. No one was disposed to straggle and go back to
Company Q. (Company Q was the name for play-outs). They even felt safer
in the regular line than in the rear with Company Q.
Well as stated previously, it was battle, battle, battle, every day,
for one hundred days. The boom of cannon, and the rattle of musketry was
our reveille and retreat, and Sherman knew that it was no child's play.
Today, April 14, 1882, I say, and honestly say, that I sincerely believe
the combined forces of the whole Yankee nation could never have broken
General Joseph E. Johnston's line of battle, beginning at Rocky Face
Ridge, and ending on the banks of the Chattahoochee.
ADAIRSVILLE--OCTAGON HOUSE--THE FIRST TENNESSEE ALWAYS OCCUPIES TIGHT
We had stacked our arms and gone into camp, and had started to build
fires to cook supper. I saw our cavalry falling back, I thought, rather
hurriedly. I ran to the road and asked them what was the matter?
They answered, "Matter enough; yonder are the Yankees, are you infantry
fellows going to make a stand here?" I told Colonel Field what had been
told to me, and he hooted at the idea; but balls that had shucks tied to
their tails were passing over, and our regiment was in the rear of the
whole army. I could hardly draw anyone's attention to the fact that the
cavalry had passed us, and that we were on the outpost of the whole army,
when an order came for our regiment to go forward as rapidly as possible
and occupy an octagon house in our immediate front. The Yankees were
about a hundred yards from the house on one side and we about a hundred
yards on the other. The race commenced as to which side would get to
the house first. We reached it, and had barely gotten in, when they were
bursting down the paling of the yard on the opposite side. The house
was a fine brick, octagon in shape, and as perfect a fort as could be
desired. We ran to the windows, upstairs, downstairs and in the cellar.
The Yankees cheered and charged, and our boys got happy. Colonel Field
told us he had orders to hold it until every man was killed, and never
to surrender the house. It was a forlorn hope. We felt we were
"gone fawn skins," sure enough. At every discharge of our guns,
we would hear a Yankee squall. The boys raised a tune--
"I'se gwine to jine the Rebel band,
A fighting for my home"--
as they loaded and shot their guns. Then the tune of--
"Cheer, boys, cheer, we are marching on to battle!
Cheer, boys, cheer, for our sweethearts and our wives!
Cheer, boys, cheer, we'll nobly do our duty,
And give to the South our hearts, our arms, our lives."
Our cartridges were almost gone, and Lieutenant Joe Carney, Joe Sewell,
and Billy Carr volunteered to go and bring a box of one thousand
cartridges. They got out of the back window, and through that hail of
iron and lead, made their way back with the box of cartridges. Our
ammunition being renewed, the fight raged on. Captain Joe P. Lee touched
me on the shoulder and said, "Sam, please let me have your gun for one
shot." He raised it to his shoulder and pulled down on a fine-dressed
cavalry officer, and I saw that Yankee tumble. He handed it back to me
to reload. About twelve o'clock, midnight, the Hundred and Fifty-fourth
Tennessee, commanded by Colonel McGevney, came to our relief.
The firing had ceased, and we abandoned the octagon house. Our dead and
wounded--there were thirty of them--were in strange contrast with the
furniture of the house. Fine chairs, sofas, settees, pianos and Brussels
carpeting being made the death-bed of brave and noble boys, all saturated
with blood. Fine lace and damask curtains, all blackened by the smoke
of battle. Fine bureaus and looking-glasses and furniture being riddled
by the rude missiles of war. Beautiful pictures in gilt frames, and a
library of valuable books, all shot and torn by musket and cannon balls.
Such is war.
The battles of the Kennesaw line were fought for weeks. Cannonading and
musketry firing was one continual thing. It seemed that shooting was the
order of the day, and pickets on both sides kept up a continual firing,
that sounded like ten thousand wood-choppers. Sometimes the wood-
choppers would get lazy or tired and there was a lull. But you could
always tell when the old guard had been relieved, by the accelerated
chops of the wood-choppers.
AM DETAILED TO GO INTO THE ENEMY'S LINES
One day our orderly sergeant informed me that it was my regular time to
go on duty, and to report to Captain Beasley, of the Twenty-seventh.
I reported to the proper place, and we were taken to the headquarters of
General Leonidas Polk. We had to go over into the enemy's lines, and
make such observations as we could, and report back by daylight in the
morning. Our instructions were to leave everything in camp except our
guns and cartridge-boxes. These were to be carried, but, under no
circumstances, to be used, except in case of death itself. We were
instructed to fall in in the rear of our relief guard, which would go out
about sunset; not to attract their attention, but to drop out one or two
at a time; to pass the Yankee picket as best we could, even if we had to
crawl on our bellies to do so; to go over in the Yankee lines, and to
find out all we could, without attracting attention, if possible.
These were our instructions. You may be sure my heart beat like a
muffled drum when I heard our orders.
I felt like making my will. But, like the boy who was passing the
graveyard, I tried to whistle to keep my spirits up. We followed the
relief guard, and one by one stepped off from the rear. I was with two
others, Arnold Zellner and T. C. Dornin. We found ourselves between the
picket lines of the two armies. Fortune seemed to favor us. It was just
getting dusky twilight, and we saw the relief guard of the Yankees just
putting on their picket. They seemed to be very mild, inoffensive
fellows. They kept a looking over toward the Rebel lines, and would
dodge if a twig cracked under their feet. I walked on as if I was just
relieved, and had passed their lines, when I turned back, and says I,
"Captain, what guard is this?" He answered, "Nien bocht, you bet,"
is what I understood him to say. "What regiment are you from?" "Ben
bicht mir ein riefel fab bien." "What regiment is your detail from?"
"Iet du mein got Donnermetter stefel switzer." I had to give it up--
I had run across the detail of a Dutch regiment. I passed on, and came
to the regular line of breastworks, and there was an old Irishman sitting
on a stump grinding coffee. "General McCook's brigade, be jabbers,"
he answered to my inquiry as to what regiment it was. Right in front of
me the line was full of Irish soldiers, and they were cooking supper.
I finally got over their breastworks, and was fearful I would run into
some camp or headquarter guard, and the countersign would be demanded of
me. I did not know what to do in that case--but I thought of the way
that I had gotten in hundreds of times before in our army, when I wanted
to slip the guard, and that was to get a gun, go to some cross street or
conspicuous place, halt the officer, and get the countersign. And while
standing near General Sherman's headquarters, I saw a courier come out
of his tent, get on his horse, and ride toward where I stood. As he
approached, says I, "Halt! who goes there?" "A friend with the
countersign." He advanced, and whispered in my ear the word "United."
He rode on. I had gotten their countersign, and felt I was no longer a
prisoner. I went all over their camp, and saw no demonstration of any
kind. Night had thrown her mantle over the encampment. I could plainly
see the sentinels on their weary vigils along the lines, but there was
none in their rear. I met and talked with a great many soldiers, but
could get no information from them.
About 2 o'clock at night, I saw a body of men approaching where I was.
Something told me that I had better get out of their way, but I did not.
The person in command said, "Say, there! you, sir; say, you, sir!"
Says I, "Are you speaking to me?" "Yes," very curtly and abruptly.
"What regiment do you belong to?" Says I, "One hundred and twenty-
seventh Illinois." "Well, sir, fall in here; I am ordered to take up all
stragglers. Fall in, fall in promptly!" Says I, "I am instructed by
General McCook to remain here and direct a courier to General Williams'
headquarters." He says, "It's a strange place for a courier to come to."
His command marched on. About an hour afterwards--about 3 o'clock--
I heard the assembly sound. I knew then that it was about time for me
to be getting out of the way. Soon their companies were forming, and
they were calling the roll everywhere. Everything had begun to stir.
Artillery men were hitching up their horses. Men were dashing about in
every direction. I saw their army form and move off. I got back into
our lines, and reported to General Polk.
He was killed that very day on the Kennesaw line. General Stephens was
killed the very next day.
Every now and then a dead picket was brought in. Times had begun to look
bilious, indeed. Their cannon seemed to be getting the best of ours in
every fight. The cannons of both armies were belching and bellowing at
each other, and the pickets were going it like wood choppers, in earnest.
We were entrenched behind strong fortifications. Our rations were cooked
and brought to us regularly, and the spirits of the army were in good
We continued to change position, and build new breastworks every night.
One-third of the army had to keep awake in the trenches, while the other
two-thirds slept. But everything was so systematized, that we did not
feel the fatigue.
PINE MOUNTAIN--DEATH OF GENERAL LEONIDAS POLK
General Leonidas Polk, our old leader, whom we had followed all through
that long war, had gone forward with some of his staff to the top of Pine
Mountain, to reconnoiter, as far as was practicable, the position of the
enemy in our front. While looking at them with his field glass, a solid
shot from the Federal guns struck him on his left breast, passing through
his body and through his heart. I saw him while the infirmary corps
were bringing him off the field. He was as white as a piece of marble,
and a most remarkable thing about him was, that not a drop of blood was
ever seen to come out of the place through which the cannon ball had
passed. My pen and ability is inadequate to the task of doing his memory
justice. Every private soldier loved him. Second to Stonewall Jackson,
his loss was the greatest the South ever sustained. When I saw him there
dead, I felt that I had lost a friend whom I had ever loved and respected,
and that the South had lost one of her best and greatest generals.
His soldiers always loved and honored him. They called him "Bishop Polk."
"Bishop Polk" was ever a favorite with the army, and when any position
was to be held, and it was known that "Bishop Polk" was there, we knew
and felt that "all was well."
GOLGOTHA CHURCH--GENERAL LUCIUS E. POLK WOUNDED
On this Kennesaw line, near Golgotha Church, one evening about 4 o'clock,
our Confederate line of battle and the Yankee line came in close
proximity. If I mistake not, it was a dark, drizzly, rainy evening.
The cannon balls were ripping and tearing through the bushes. The two
lines were in plain view of each other. General Pat Cleburne was at this
time commanding Hardee's corps, and General Lucius E. Polk was in command
of Cleburne's division. General John C. Brown's division was supporting
Cleburne's division, or, rather, "in echelon." Every few moments,
a raking fire from the Yankee lines would be poured into our lines,
tearing limbs off the trees, and throwing rocks and dirt in every
direction; but I never saw a soldier quail, or even dodge. We had
confidence in old Joe, and were ready to march right into the midst of
battle at a moment's notice. While in this position, a bomb, loaded
with shrapnel and grapeshot, came ripping and tearing through our ranks,
wounding General Lucius E. Polk, and killing some of his staff. And,
right here, I deem it not inappropriate to make a few remarks as to the
character and appearance of so brave and gallant an officer. At this
time he was about twenty-five years old, with long black hair, that
curled, a gentle and attractive black eye that seemed to sparkle with
love rather than chivalry, and were it not for a young moustache and
goatee that he usually wore, he would have passed for a beautiful girl.
In his manner he was as simple and guileless as a child, and generous
almost to a fault. Enlisting in the First Arkansas Regiment as a private
soldier, and serving for twelve months as orderly sergeant; at the
reorganization he was elected colonel of the regiment, and afterwards,
on account of merit and ability, was commissioned brigadier-general;
distinguishing himself for conspicuous bravery and gallantry on every
battlefield, and being "scalped" by a minnie ball at Richmond, Kentucky--
which scar marks its furrow on top of his head today. In every battle
he was engaged in, he led his men to victory, or held the enemy at bay,
while the surge of battle seemed against us; he always seemed the
successful general, who would snatch victory out of the very jaws of
defeat. In every battle, Polk's brigade, of Cleburne's division,
distinguished itself, almost making the name of Cleburne as the Stonewall
of the West. Polk was to Cleburne what Murat or the old guard was to
Napoleon. And, at the battle of Chickamauga, when it seemed that the
Southern army had nearly lost the battle, General Lucius E. Polk's
brigade made the most gallant charge of the war, turning the tide of
affairs, and routing the Yankee army. General Polk himself led the
charge in person, and was the first man on top of the Yankee breastworks
(_vide_ General D. H. Hill's report of the battle of Chickamauga),
and in every attack he had the advance guard, and in every retreat,
the rear guard of the army. Why? Because General Lucius E. Polk and
his brave soldiers _never_ faltered, and with him as leader, the general
commanding the army knew that "all was well."
Well, this evening of which I now write, the litter corps ran up and
placed him on a litter, and were bringing him back through Company H,
of our regiment, when one of the men was wounded, and I am not sure but
another one was killed, and they let him fall to the ground. At that
time, the Yankees seemed to know that they had killed or wounded a
general, and tore loose their batteries upon this point. The dirt and
rocks were flying in every direction, when Captain Joe P. Lee, Jim
Brandon and myself, ran forward, grabbed up the litter, brought General
Polk off the crest of the hill, and assisted in carrying him to the
headquarters of General Cleburne. When we got to General Cleburne,
he came forward and asked General Polk if he was badly wounded, and
General Polk remarked, laughingly: "Well, I think I will be able to get a
furlough now." This is a fact. General Polk's leg had been shot almost
entirely off. I remember the foot part being twisted clear around,
and lying by his side, while the blood was running through the litter in
a perfect stream. I remember, also, that General Cleburne dashed a tear
from his eye with his hand, and saying, "Poor fellow," at once galloped
to the front, and ordered an immediate advance of our lines. Cleburne's
division was soon engaged. Night coming on, prevented a general
engagement, but we drove the Yankee line two miles.
The First and Twenty-seventh Tennessee Regiments will ever remember the
battle of "Dead Angle," which was fought June 27th, on the Kennesaw line,
near Marietta, Georgia. It was one of the hottest and longest days of
the year, and one of the most desperate and determinedly resisted battles
fought during the whole war. Our regiment was stationed on an angle,
a little spur of the mountain, or rather promontory of a range of hills,
extending far out beyond the main line of battle, and was subject to the
enfilading fire of forty pieces of artillery of the Federal batteries.
It seemed fun for the guns of the whole Yankee army to play upon this
point. We would work hard every night to strengthen our breastworks,
and the very next day they would be torn down smooth with the ground
by solid shots and shells from the guns of the enemy. Even the little
trees and bushes which had been left for shade, were cut down as so much
stubble. For more than a week this constant firing had been kept up
against this salient point. In the meantime, the skirmishing in the
valley below resembled the sounds made by ten thousand wood-choppers.
Well, on the fatal morning of June 27th, the sun rose clear and cloudless,
the heavens seemed made of brass, and the earth of iron, and as the sun
began to mount toward the zenith, everything became quiet, and no sound
was heard save a peckerwood on a neighboring tree, tapping on its old
trunk, trying to find a worm for his dinner. We all knew it was but the
dead calm that precedes the storm. On the distant hills we could plainly
see officers dashing about hither and thither, and the Stars and Stripes
moving to and fro, and we knew the Federals were making preparations for
the mighty contest. We could hear but the rumbling sound of heavy guns,
and the distant tread of a marching army, as a faint roar of the coming
storm, which was soon to break the ominous silence with the sound of
conflict, such as was scarcely ever before heard on this earth. It
seemed that the archangel of Death stood and looked on with outstretched
wings, while all the earth was silent, when all at once a hundred guns
from the Federal line opened upon us, and for more than an hour they
poured their solid and chain shot, grape and shrapnel right upon this
salient point, defended by our regiment alone, when, all of a sudden,
our pickets jumped into our works and reported the Yankees advancing,
and almost at the same time a solid line of blue coats came up the hill.
I discharged my gun, and happening to look up, there was the beautiful
flag of the Stars and Stripes flaunting right in my face, and I heard
John Branch, of the Rock City Guards, commanded by Captain W. D. Kelly,
who were next Company H, say, "Look at that Yankee flag; shoot that
fellow; snatch that flag out of his hand!" My pen is unable to describe
the scene of carnage and death that ensued in the next two hours.
Column after column of Federal soldiers were crowded upon that line,
and by referring to the history of the war you will find they were massed
in column forty columns deep; in fact, the whole force of the Yankee army
was hurled against this point, but no sooner would a regiment mount our
works than they were shot down or surrendered, and soon we had every
"gopher hole" full of Yankee prisoners. Yet still the Yankees came.
It seemed impossible to check the onslaught, but every man was true
to his trust, and seemed to think that at that moment the whole
responsibility of the Confederate government was rested upon his
shoulders. Talk about other battles, victories, shouts, cheers, and
triumphs, but in comparison with this day's fight, all others dwarf
into insignificance. The sun beaming down on our uncovered heads, the
thermometer being one hundred and ten degrees in the shade, and a solid
line of blazing fire right from the muzzles of the Yankee guns being
poured right into our very faces, singeing our hair and clothes, the hot
blood of our dead and wounded spurting on us, the blinding smoke and
stifling atmosphere filling our eyes and mouths, and the awful concussion
causing the blood to gush out of our noses and ears, and above all,
the roar of battle, made it a perfect pandemonium. Afterward I heard a
soldier express himself by saying that he thought "Hell had broke loose
in Georgia, sure enough."
I have heard men say that if they ever killed a Yankee during the war
they were not aware of it. I am satisfied that on this memorable day,
every man in our regiment killed from one score to four score, yea,
five score men. I mean from twenty to one hundred each. All that was
necessary was to load and shoot. In fact, I will ever think that the
reason they did not capture our works was the impossibility of their
living men passing over the bodies of their dead. The ground was piled
up with one solid mass of dead and wounded Yankees. I learned afterwards
from the burying squad that in some places they were piled up like cord
wood, twelve deep.
After they were time and time again beaten back, they at last were
enabled to fortify a line under the crest of the hill, only thirty yards
from us, and they immediately commenced to excavate the earth with the
purpose of blowing up our line.
We remained here three days after the battle. In the meantime the woods
had taken fire, and during the nights and days of all that time continued
to burn, and at all times, every hour of day and night, you could hear
the shrieks and screams of the poor fellows who were left on the field,
and a stench, so sickening as to nauseate the whole of both armies,
arose from the decaying bodies of the dead left lying on the field.
On the third morning the Yankees raised a white flag, asked an armistice
to bury their dead, not for any respect either army had for the dead,
but to get rid of the sickening stench. I get sick now when I happen to
think about it. Long and deep trenches were dug, and hooks made from
bayonets crooked for the purpose, and all the dead were dragged and
thrown pell mell into these trenches. Nothing was allowed to be taken
off the dead, and finely dressed officers, with gold watch chains
dangling over their vests, were thrown into the ditches. During the
whole day both armies were hard at work, burying the Federal dead.
Every member of the First and Twenty-seventh Tennessee Regiments deserves
a wreath of imperishable fame, and a warm place in the hearts of their
countrymen, for their gallant and heroic valor at the battle of Dead
Angle. No man distinguished himself above another. All did their duty,
and the glory of one is but the glory and just tribute of the others.
After we had abandoned the line, and on coming to a little stream of
water, I undressed for the purpose of bathing, and after undressing
found my arm all battered and bruised and bloodshot from my wrist to my
shoulder, and as sore as a blister. I had shot one hundred and twenty
times that day. My gun became so hot that frequently the powder would
flash before I could ram home the ball, and I had frequently to exchange
my gun for that of a dead comrade.
Colonel H. R. Field was loading and shooting the same as any private in
the ranks when he fell off the skid from which he was shooting right
over my shoulder, shot through the head. I laid him down in the trench,
and he said, "Well, they have got me at last, but I have killed fifteen
of them; time about is fair play, I reckon." But Colonel Field was
not killed--only wounded, and one side paralyzed. Captain Joe P. Lee,
Captain Mack Campbell, Lieutenant T. H. Maney, and other officers of the
regiment, threw rocks and beat them in their faces with sticks. The
Yankees did the same. The rocks came in upon us like a perfect hail
storm, and the Yankees seemed very obstinate, and in no hurry to get away
from our front, and we had to keep up the firing and shooting them down
in self-defense. They seemed to walk up and take death as coolly as if
they were automatic or wooden men, and our boys did not shoot for the fun
of the thing. It was, verily, a life and death grapple, and the least
flicker on our part, would have been sure death to all. We could not be
reinforced on account of our position, and we had to stand up to the rack,
fodder or no fodder. When the Yankees fell back, and the firing ceased,
I never saw so many broken down and exhausted men in my life. I was as
sick as a horse, and as wet with blood and sweat as I could be, and many
of our men were vomiting with excessive fatigue, over-exhaustion, and
sunstroke; our tongues were parched and cracked for water, and our faces
blackened with powder and smoke, and our dead and wounded were piled
indiscriminately in the trenches. There was not a single man in the
company who was not wounded, or had holes shot through his hat and
clothing. Captain Beasley was killed, and nearly all his company killed
and wounded. The Rock City Guards were almost piled in heaps and so was
our company. Captain Joe P. Lee was badly wounded. Poor Walter Hood and
Jim Brandon were lying there among us, while their spirits were in heaven;
also, William A. Hughes, my old mess-mate and friend, who had clerked
with me for S. F. & J. M. Mayes, and who had slept with me for lo! these
many years, and a boy who loved me more than any other person on earth
has ever done. I had just discharged the contents of my gun into the
bosoms of two men, one right behind the other, killing them both, and was
re-loading, when a Yankee rushed upon me, having me at a disadvantage,
and said, "You have killed my two brothers, and now I've got you."
Everything I had ever done rushed through my mind. I heard the roar,
and felt the flash of fire, and saw my more than friend, William
A. Hughes, grab the muzzle of the gun, receiving the whole contents in
his hand and arm, and mortally wounding him. Reader, he died for me.
In saving my life, he lost his own. When the infirmary corps carried him
off, all mutilated and bleeding he told them to give me "Florence Fleming"
(that was the name of his gun, which he had put on it in silver letters),
and to give me his blanket and clothing. He gave his life for me,
and everything that he had. It was the last time that I ever saw him,
but I know that away up yonder, beyond the clouds, blackness, tempest
and night, and away above the blue vault of heaven, where the stars keep
their ceaseless vigils, away up yonder in the golden city of the New
Jerusalem, where God and Jesus Christ, our Savior, ever reign, we will
sometime meet at the marriage supper of the Son of God, who gave His life
for the redemption of the whole world.
For several nights they made attacks upon our lines, but in every attempt,
they were driven back with great slaughter. They would ignite the tape
of bomb shells, and throw them over in our lines, but, if the shell did
not immediately explode, they were thrown back. They had a little shell
called _hand grenade_, but they would either stop short of us, or go
over our heads, and were harmless. General Joseph E. Johnston sent us a
couple of _chevaux-de-frise_. When they came, a detail of three men had
to roll them over the works. Those three men were heroes. Their names
were Edmund Brandon, T. C. Dornin, and Arnold Zellner. Although it was
a solemn occasion, every one of us was convulsed with laughter at the
ridiculous appearance and actions of the detail. Every one of them made
their wills and said their prayers truthfully and honestly, before they
undertook the task. I laugh now every time I think of the ridiculous
appearance of the detail, but to them it was no laughing matter. I
will say that they were men who feared not, nor faltered in their duty.
They were men, and today deserve the thanks of the people of the South.
That night about midnight, an alarm was given that the Yankees were
advancing. They would only have to run about twenty yards before they
would be in our works. We were ordered to "shoot." Every man was
hallooing at the top of his voice, "Shoot, shoot, tee, shoot, shootee."
On the alarm, both the Confederate and Federal lines opened, with both
small arms and artillery, and it seemed that the very heavens and earth
were in a grand conflagration, as they will be at the final judgment,
after the resurrection. I have since learned that this was a false alarm,
and that no attack had been meditated.
Previous to the day of attack, the soldiers had cut down all the trees in
our immediate front, throwing the tops down hill and sharpening the limbs
of the same, thus making, as we thought, an impenetrable abattis of vines
and limbs locked together; but nothing stopped or could stop the advance
of the Yankee line, but the hot shot and cold steel that we poured into
their faces from under our head-logs.
One of the most shameful and cowardly acts of Yankee treachery was
committed there that I ever remember to have seen. A wounded Yankee was
lying right outside of our works, and begging most piteously for water,
when a member of the railroad company (his name was Hog Johnson, and
the very man who stood videt with Theodore Sloan and I at the battle of
Missionary Ridge, and who killed the three Yankees, one night, from Fort
Horsley), got a canteen of water, and gave the dying Yankee a drink,
and as he started back, he was killed dead in his tracks by a treacherous
Yankee hid behind a tree. It matters not, for somewhere in God's Holy
Word, which cannot lie, He says that "He that giveth a cup of cold water
in my name, shall not lose his reward." And I have no doubt, reader,
in my own mind, that the poor fellow is reaping his reward in Emanuel's
land with the good and just. In every instance where we tried to assist
their wounded, our men were killed or wounded. A poor wounded and dying
boy, not more than sixteen years of age, asked permission to crawl over
our works, and when he had crawled to the top, and just as Blair Webster
and I reached up to help the poor fellow, he, the Yankee, was killed by
his own men. In fact, I have ever thought that is why the slaughter was
so great in our front, that nearly, if not as many, Yankees were killed
by their own men as by us. The brave ones, who tried to storm and carry
our works, were simply between two fires. It is a singular fanaticism,
and curious fact, that enters the mind of a soldier, that it is a grand
and glorious death to die on a victorious battlefield. One morning the
Sixth and Ninth Regiments came to our assistance--not to relieve us--
but only to assist us, and every member of our regiment--First and
Twenty-seventh--got as mad as a "wet hen." They felt almost insulted,
and I believe we would soon have been in a free fight, had they not been
ordered back. As soon as they came up every one of us began to say,
"Go back! go back! we can hold this place, and by the eternal God we
are not going to leave it." General Johnston came there to look at the
position, and told us that a transverse line was about one hundred yards
in our rear, and should they come on us too heavy to fall back to that
line, when almost every one of us said, "You go back and look at other
lines, this place is safe, and can never be taken." And then when they
had dug a tunnel under us to blow us up, we laughed, yea, even rejoiced,
at the fact of soon being blown sky high. Yet, not a single man was
willing to leave his post. When old Joe sent us the two _chevaux-de-
frise_, and kept on sending us water, and rations, and whisky, and
tobacco, and word to hold our line, we would invariably send word back to
rest easy, and that all is well at Dead Angle. I have ever thought that
is one reason why General Johnston fell back from this Kennesaw line,
and I will say today, in 1882, that while we appreciated his sympathies
and kindness toward us, yet we did not think hard of old Joe for having
so little confidence in us at that time. A perfect hail of minnie
balls was being continually poured into our head-logs the whole time we
remained here. The Yankees would hold up small looking-glasses, so that
our strength and breastworks could be seen in the reflection in the glass;
and they also had small mirrors on the butts of their guns, so arranged
that they could hight up the barrels of their guns by looking through
these glasses, while they themselves would not be exposed to our fire,
and they kept up this continual firing day and night, whether they could
see us or not. Sometimes a glancing shot from our head-logs would wound
But I cannot describe it as I would wish. I would be pleased to mention
the name of every soldier, not only of Company H alone, but every man in
the First and Twenty-seventh Tennessee Consolidated Regiments on this
occasion, but I cannot now remember their names, and will not mention
any one in particular, fearing to do injustice to some whom I might
inadvertently omit. Every man and every company did their duty. Company
G, commanded by Captain Mack Campbell, stood side by side with us on this
occasion, as they ever had during the whole war. But soldiers of the
First and Twenty-seventh Regiments, it is with a feeling of pride and
satisfaction to me, today, that I was associated with so many noble and
brave men, and who were subsequently complimented by Jeff Davis, then
President of the Confederate States of America, in person, who said,
"That every member of our regiment was fit to be a captain"--his very
words. I mention Captain W. C. Flournoy, of Company K, the Martin Guards;
Captain Ledbetter, of the Rutherford Rifles; Captains Kelly and Steele,
of the Rock City Guards, and Captain Adkisson, of the Williamson Grays,
and Captain Fulcher, and other names of brave and heroic men, some of
whom live today, but many have crossed the dark river and are "resting
under the shade of the trees" on the other shore, waiting and watching
for us, who are left to do justice to their memory and our cause, and
when we old Rebels have accomplished God's purpose on earth, we, too,
will be called to give an account of our battles, struggles, and triumphs.
Reader mine, I fear that I have wearied you with too long a description
of the battle of "Dead Angle," if so, please pardon me, as this is
but a sample of the others which will now follow each other in rapid
succession. And, furthermore, in stating the above facts, the half has
not been told, but it will give you a faint idea of the hard battles and
privations and hardships of the soldiers in that stormy epoch--who died,
grandly, gloriously, nobly; dyeing the soil of old mother earth, and
enriching the same with their crimson life's blood, while doing what?
Only trying to protect their homes and families, their property, their
constitution and their laws, that had been guaranteed to them as a
heritage forever by their forefathers. They died for the faith that
each state was a separate sovereign government, as laid down by the
Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of our fathers.
BATTLE OF NEW HOPE CHURCH
We were on a forced march along a dusty road. I never in my whole life
saw more dust. The dust fairly popped under our feet, like tramping in
a snow-drift, and our eyes, and noses, and mouths, were filled with the
dust that arose from our footsteps, and to make matters worse, the boys
all tried to kick up a "bigger dust." Cavalry and artillery could not be
seen at ten paces, being perfectly enveloped in dust. It was a perfect
fog of dust. We were marching along, it then being nearly dark, when we
heard the hoarse boom of a cannon in our rear. It sounded as if it had
a bad attack of croup. It went, "Croup, croup, croup." The order was
given to "about face, double quick, march." We double quicked back to
the old church on the road side, when the First Tennessee Cavalry,
commanded by Colonel Lewis, and the Ninth Battalion, commanded by Major
James H. Akin, passed us, and charged the advance of the Federal forces.
We were supporting the cavalry. We heard them open. Deadly missiles
were flying in every direction. The peculiar thud of spent balls and
balls with shucks tied to their tails were passing over our heads.
We were expecting that the cavalry would soon break, and that we would be
ordered into action. But the news came from the front, that the cavalry
were not only holding their position, but were driving the enemy.
The earth jarred and trembled; the fire fiend seemed unchained; wounded
men were coming from the front. I asked the litter corps, "Who have you
there?" And one answered, "Captain Asa G. Freeman." I asked if he was
dangerously wounded, and he simply said, "Shot through both thighs,"
and passed on. About this time we heard the whoops and cheers of the
cavalry, and knew that the Yankees were whipped and falling back.
We marched forward and occupied the place held by the cavalry. The trees
looked as if they had been cut down for new ground, being mutilated and
shivered by musket and cannon balls. Horses were writhing in their death
agony, and the sickening odor of battle filled the air. Well, well,
those who go to battle may expect to die. An halo ever surrounds the
soldier's life, because he is ever willing to die for his country.
BATTLE OF DALLAS--BRECKINRIDGE CHARGES THE HEIGHTS
We are ordered to march to Dallas.
Reader, somehow the name and character of General John C. Breckinridge
charms me. That morning he looked grand and glorious. His infantry,
artillery, and cavalry were drawn up in line of battle in our immediate
front. He passed along the line, and stopping about the center of the
column, said, "Soldiers, we have been selected to go forward and capture
yon heights. Do you think we can take them? I will lead the attack."
The men whooped, and the cry, "We can, we can," was heard from one end of
the line to the other. Then, "Forward, guide center, march!" were words
re-repeated by colonels and captains. They debouched through the woods,
and passed out of sight in a little ravine, when we saw them emerge in an
open field and advance right upon the Federal breastworks. It was the
grandest spectacle I ever witnessed. We could see the smoke and dust
of battle, and hear the shout of the charge, and the roar and rattle of
cannon and musketry. But Breckinridge's division continued to press
forward, without wavering or hesitating. We can see the line of dead
and wounded along the track over which he passed, and finally we see our
battle flag planted upon the Federal breastworks. I cannot describe the
scene. If you, reader, are an old soldier, you can appreciate my failure
to give a pen picture of battle. But Breckinridge could not long hold
his position. Why we were not ordered forward to follow up his success,
I do not know; but remember, reader, I am not writing history. I try
only to describe events as I witnessed them.
We marched back to the old church on the roadside, called New Hope church,
and fortified, occupying the battlefield of the day before. The stench
and sickening odor of dead men and horses were terrible. We had to
breathe the putrid atmosphere.
The next day, Colonel W. M. Voorhies' Forty-eighth Tennessee Regiment
took position on our right. Now, here were all the Maury county boys got
together at New Hope church. I ate dinner with Captain Joe Love, and
Frank Frierson filled my haversack with hardtack and bacon.
BATTLE OF ZION CHURCH, JULY 4TH, 1864
The 4th day of July, twelve months before, Pemberton had surrendered
twenty-five thousand soldiers, two hundred pieces of artillery, and other
munitions of war in proportion, at Vicksburg. The Yankees wanted to
celebrate the day. They thought it was their lucky day; but old Joe
thought he had as much right to celebrate the Sabbath day of American
Independence as the Yankees had, and we celebrated it. About dawn,
continued boom of cannon reverberated over the hills as if firing a
Fourth of July salute. I was standing on top of our works, leveling them
off with a spade. A sharpshooter fired at me, but the ball missed me
and shot William A. Graham through the heart. He was as noble and brave
a soldier as ever drew the breath of life, and lacked but a few votes
of being elected captain of Company H, at the reorganization. He was
smoking his pipe when he was shot. We started to carry him to the rear,
but he remarked, "Boys, it is useless; please lay me down and let me die."
I have never in my life seen any one meet death more philosophically.
He was dead in a moment. General A. J. Vaughan, commanding General
Preston Smith's brigade, had his foot shot off by a cannon ball a few
It seemed that both Confederate and Federal armies were celebrating the
Fourth of July. I cannot now remember a more severe artillery duel.
Two hundred cannon were roaring and belching like blue blazes. It was
but a battle of cannonade all day long. It seemed as though the
Confederate and Federal cannons were talking to each other. Sometimes a
ball passing over would seem to be mad, then again some would seem to be
laughing, some would be mild, some sad, some gay, some sorrowful, some
rollicking and jolly; and then again some would scream like the ghosts of
the dead. In fact, they gave forth every kind of sound that you could
imagine. It reminded one of when two storms meet in mid-ocean--the
mountain billows of waters coming from two directions, lash against the
vessel's side, while the elements are filled with roaring, thundering and
lightning. You could almost feel the earth roll and rock like a drunken
man, or a ship, when she rides the billows in an awful storm. It seemed
that the earth was frequently moved from its foundations, and you could
hear it grate as it moved. But all through that storm of battle, every
soldier stood firm, for we knew that old Joe was at the helm.
Here General Johnston issued his first battle order, that thus far he
had gone and intended to go no further. His line of battle was formed;
his skirmish line was engaged; the artillery was booming from the Rebel
lines. Both sides were now face to face. There were no earthworks on
either side. It was to be an open field and a fair fight, when--"Fall
back!" What's the matter? I do not know how we got the news, but here
is what is told us--and so it was, every position we ever took. When we
fell back the news would be, "Hood's line is being enfiladed, and they
are decimating his men, and he can't hold his position." But we fell
back and took a position at
Our line of battle was formed at Cassville. I never saw our troops
happier or more certain of success. A sort of grand halo illumined every
soldier's face. You could see self-confidence in the features of every
private soldier. We were confident of victory and success. It was like
going to a frolic or a wedding. Joy was welling up in every heart.
We were going to whip and rout the Yankees. It seemed to be anything
else than a fight. The soldiers were jubilant. Gladness was depicted on
every countenance. I honestly believe that had a battle been fought at
this place, every soldier would have distinguished himself. I believe
a sort of fanaticism had entered their souls, that whoever was killed
would at once be carried to the seventh heaven. I am sure of one thing,
that every soldier had faith enough in old Joe to have charged Sherman's
whole army. When "Halt!" "Retreat!" What is the matter? General Hood
says they are enfilading his line, and are decimating his men, and he
can't hold his position.
The same old story repeats itself. Old Joe's army is ever face to face
with Sherman's incendiaries. We have faith in old Joe's ability to meet
Sherman whenever he dares to attack. The soldiers draw their regular
rations. Every time a blue coat comes in sight, there is a dead Yankee
to bury. Sherman is getting cautious, his army hacked. Thus we continue
to fall back for four months, day by day, for one hundred and ten days,
fighting every day and night.
ON THE BANKS OF THE CHATTAHOOCHEE
Our army had crossed the Chattahoochee. The Federal army was on the
other side; our pickets on the south side, the Yankees on the north side.
By a tacit agreement, as had ever been the custom, there was no firing
across the stream. That was considered the boundary. It mattered not
how large or small the stream, pickets rarely fired at each other.
We would stand on each bank, and laugh and talk and brag across the
One day, while standing on the banks of the Chattahoochee, a Yankee
"Johnny, O, Johnny, O, Johnny Reb."
Johnny answered, "What do you want?"
"You are whipped, aren't you?"
"No. The man who says that is a liar, a scoundrel, and a coward."
"Well, anyhow, Joe Johnston is relieved of the command."
"General Joseph E. Johnston is relieved."
"What is that you say?"
"General Joseph E. Johnston is relieved, and Hood appointed in his place."
"You are a liar, and if you will come out and show yourself I will shoot
you down in your tracks, you lying Yankee galloot."
"That's more than I will stand. If the others will hands off, I will
fight a duel with you. Now, show your manhood."
Well, reader, every word of this is true, as is everything in this book.
Both men loaded their guns and stepped out to their plates. They were
both to load and fire at will, until one or both were killed. They took
their positions without either trying to get the advantage of the other.
Then some one gave the command to "Fire at will; commence firing."
They fired seven shots each; at the seventh shot, poor Johnny Reb fell a
corpse, pierced through the heart.
REMOVAL OF GENERAL JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON
Such was the fact. General Joseph E. Johnston had been removed and
General J. B. Hood appointed to take command. Generals Hardee and
Kirby Smith, two old veterans, who had been identified with the Army of
Tennessee from the beginning, resigned. We had received the intelligence
from the Yankees.
The relief guard confirmed the report.
All the way from Rocky Face Ridge to Atlanta was a battle of a hundred
days, yet Hood's line was all the time enfiladed and his men decimated,
and he could not hold his position. Old Joe Johnston had taken command
of the Army of Tennessee when it was crushed and broken, at a time when
no other man on earth could have united it. He found it in rags and
tatters, hungry and heart-broken, the morale of the men gone, their
manhood vanished to the winds, their pride a thing of the past. Through
his instrumentality and skillful manipulation, all these had been
restored. We had been under his command nearly twelve months. He was
more popular with his troops day by day. We had made a long and arduous
campaign, lasting four months; there was not a single day in that four
months that did not find us engaged in battle with the enemy. History
does not record a single instance of where one of his lines was ever
broken--not a single rout. He had not lost a single piece of artillery;
he had dealt the enemy heavy blows; he was whipping them day by day,
yet keeping his own men intact; his men were in as good spirits and as
sure of victory at the end of four months as they were at the beginning;
instead of the army being depleted, it had grown in strength. 'Tis true,
he had fallen back, but it was to give his enemy the heavier blows.
He brought all the powers of his army into play; ever on the defensive,
'tis true, yet ever striking his enemy in his most vulnerable part.
His face was always to the foe. They could make no movement in which
they were not anticipated. Such a man was Joseph E. Johnston, and such
his record. Farewell, old fellow! We privates loved you because you
made us love ourselves. Hardee, our old corps commander, whom we had
followed for nearly four years, and whom we had loved and respected from
the beginning, has left us. Kirby Smith has resigned and gone home.
The spirit of our good and honored Leonidas Polk is in heaven, and his
body lies yonder on the Kennesaw line. General Breckinridge and other
generals resigned. I lay down my pen; I can write no more; my heart is
too full. Reader, this is the saddest chapter I ever wrote.
But now, after twenty years, I can see where General Joseph E. Johnston
made many blunders in not attacking Sherman's line at some point.
He was better on the defensive than the aggressive, and hence, _bis
peccare in bello non licet_.
GENERAL HOOD TAKES COMMAND
It came like a flash of lightning, staggering and blinding every one.
It was like applying a lighted match to an immense magazine. It was like
the successful gambler, flushed with continual winnings, who staked his
all and lost. It was like the end of the Southern Confederacy. Things
that were, were not. It was the end. The soldier of the relief guard
who brought us the news while picketing on the banks of the Chattahoochee,
remarked, by way of imparting gently the information--
"Boys, we've fought all the war for nothing. There is nothing for us in
"What's the matter now?"
"General Joe Johnston is relieved, Generals Hardee and Kirby Smith has
resigned, and General Hood is appointed to take command of the Army of
"My God! is that so?"
"It is certainly a fact."
"Then I'll never fire another gun. Any news or letters that you
wish carried home? I've quit, and am going home. Please tender my
resignation to Jeff Davis as a private soldier in the C. S. Army."
Five men of that picket--there were just five--as rapidly as they could,
took off their cartridge-boxes, after throwing down their guns, and
then their canteens and haversacks, taking out of their pockets their
gun-wipers, wrench and gun-stoppers, and saying they would have no more
use for "them things." They marched off, and it was the last we ever saw
of them. In ten minutes they were across the river, and no doubt had
taken the oath of allegiance to the United States government. Such was
the sentiment of the Army of Tennessee at that time.
General John B. Hood had the reputation of being a fighting man, and
wishing to show Jeff Davis what a "bully" fighter he was, lights in on
the Yankees on Peachtree creek. But that was "I give a dare" affair.
General William B. Bate's division gained their works, but did not long
Our division, now commanded by General John C. Brown, was supporting
Bate's division; our regiment supporting the Hundred and Fifty-fourth
Tennessee, which was pretty badly cut to pieces, and I remember how mad
they seemed to be, because they had to fall back.
Hood thought he would strike while the iron was hot, and while it could
be hammered into shape, and make the Yankees believe that it was the
powerful arm of old Joe that was wielding the sledge.
But he was like the fellow who took a piece of iron to the shop,
intending to make him an ax. After working for some time and failing,
he concluded he would make him a wedge, and, failing in this, said,
"I'll make a skeow." So he heats the iron red-hot and drops it into the
slack-tub, and it went s-k-e-o-w, bubble, bubble, s-k-e-o-w, bust.
KILLING A YANKEE SCOUT
On the night of the 20th, the Yankees were on Peachtree creek, advancing
toward Atlanta. I was a videt that night, on the outpost of the army.
I could plainly hear the moving of their army, even the talking and
laughing of the Federal soldiers. I was standing in an old sedge field.
About midnight everything quieted down. I was alone in the darkness,
left to watch while the army slept. The pale moon was on the wane,
a little yellow arc, emitting but a dim light, and the clouds were lazily
passing over it, while the stars seemed trying to wink and sparkle and
make night beautiful. I thought of God, of heaven, of home, and I
thought of Jennie--her whom I had ever loved, and who had given me her
troth in all of her maiden purity, to be my darling bride so soon as the
war was over. I thought of the scenes of my childhood, my school-boy
days. I thought of the time when I left peace and home, for war and
privations. I had Jennie's picture in my pocket Bible, alongside of a
braid of her beautiful hair. And I thought of how good, how pure,
and how beautiful was the woman, who, if I lived, would share my hopes
and struggles, my happiness as well as troubles, and who would be my
darling bride, and happiness would ever be mine. An owl had lit on an
old tree near me and began to "hoo, hoo, hoo are you," and his mate would
answer back from the lugubrious depths of the Chattahoochee swamps.
A shivering owl also sat on the limb of a tree and kept up its dismal
wailings. And ever now and then I could hear the tingle, tingle, tingle
of a cow bell in the distance, and the shrill cry of the whip-poor-will.
The shivering owl and whip-poor-will seemed to be in a sort of talk,
and the jack-o'-lanterns seemed to be playing spirits--when, hush! what
is that? listen! It might have been two o'clock, and I saw, or thought I
saw, the dim outlines of a Yankee soldier, lying on the ground not more
than ten steps from where I stood. I tried to imagine it was a stump
or hallucination of the imagination. I looked at it again. The more I
looked the more it assumed the outlines of a man. Something glistens in
his eyes. Am I mistaken? Tut, tut, it's nothing but a stump; you are
getting demoralized. What! it seems to be getting closer. There are two
tiny specks that shine like the eyes of a cat in the dark. Look here,
thought I, you are getting nervous. Well, I can stand this doubt and
agony no longer; I am going to fire at that object anyhow, let come what
will. I raised my gun, placed it to my shoulder, took deliberate aim,
and fired, and waugh-weouw, the most unearthly scream I ever heard,
greeted my ears. I broke and run to a tree nearby, and had just squatted
behind it, when zip, zip, two balls from our picket post struck the tree
in two inches of my head. I hallooed to our picket not to fire that
it was "me," the videt. I went back, and says I, "Who fired those two
shots?" Two fellows spoke up and said that they did it. No sooner was
it spoken, than I was on them like a duck on a june-bug, _pugnis et
calcibus_. We "fout and fit, and gouged and bit," right there in that
picket post. I have the marks on my face and forehead where one of them
struck me with a Yankee zinc canteen, filled with water. I do not know
which whipped. My friends told me that I whipped both of them, and I
suppose their friends told them that they had whipped me. All I know is,
they both run, and I was bloody from head to foot, from where I had been
cut in the forehead and face by the canteens. This all happened one dark
night in the month of July, 1864, in the rifle pit in front of Atlanta.
When day broke the next morning, I went forward to where I had shot at
the "boogaboo" of the night before, and right there I found a dead Yankee
soldier, fully accoutered for any emergency, his eyes wide open. I
looked at him, and I said, "Old fellow, I am sorry for you; didn't know
it was you, or I would have been worse scared than I was. You are
dressed mighty fine, old fellow, but I don't want anything you have got,
but your haversack." It was a nice haversack, made of chamois skin.
I kept it until the end of the war, and when we surrendered at Greensboro,
N. C., I had it on. But the other soldiers who were with me, went
through him and found twelve dollars in greenback, a piece of tobacco,
a gun-wiper and gun-stopper and wrench, a looking-glass and pocket-comb,
and various and sundry other articles. I came across that dead Yankee
two days afterwards, and he was as naked as the day he came into the
world, and was as black as a negro, and was as big as a skinned horse.
He had mortified. I recollect of saying, "Ugh, ugh," and of my hat being
lifted off my head, by my hair, which stood up like the quills of the
fretful porcupine. He scared me worse when dead than when living.
AN OLD CITIZEN
But after the little unpleasant episode in the rifle pit, I went back and
took my stand. When nearly day, I saw the bright and beautiful star in
the east rise above the tree tops, and the gray fog from off the river
begun to rise, and every now and then could hear a far off chicken crow.
While I was looking toward the Yankee line, I saw a man riding leisurely
along on horseback, and singing a sort of humdrum tune. I took him to be
some old citizen. He rode on down the road toward me, and when he had
approached, "Who goes there?" He immediately answered, "A friend."
I thought that I recognized the voice in the darkness--and said I,
"Who are you?" He spoke up, and gave me his name. Then, said I,
"Advance, friend, but you are my prisoner." He rode on toward me,
and I soon saw that it was Mr. Mumford Smith, the old sheriff of Maury
county. I was very glad to see him, and as soon as the relief guard came,
I went back to camp with him. I do not remember of ever in my life being
more glad to see any person. He had brought a letter from home, from my
father, and some Confederate old issue bonds, which I was mighty glad
to get, and also a letter from "the gal I left behind me," enclosing a
rosebud and two apple blossoms, resting on an arbor vita leaf, and this
on a little piece of white paper, and on this was written a motto (which
I will have to tell for the young folks), "Receive me, such as I am;
would that I were of more use for your sake. Jennie." Now, that was
the bouquet part. I would not like to tell you what was in that letter,
but I read that letter over five hundred times, and remember it today.
I think I can repeat the poetry _verbatim et literatim_, and will do so,
gentle reader, if you don't laugh at me. I'm married now, and only
write from memory, and never in my life have I read it in book or paper,
and only in that letter--
"I love you, O, how dearly,
Words too faintly but express;
This heart beats too sincerely,
E'er in life to love you less;
No, my fancy never ranges,
Hopes like mine, can never soar;
If the love I cherish, changes,
'Twill only be to love you more."
Now, fair and gentle reader, this was the poetry, and you see for
yourself that there was no "shenanigan" in that letter; and if a fellow
"went back" on that sort of a letter, he would strike his "mammy."
And then the letter wound up with "May God shield and protect you,
and prepare you for whatever is in store for you, is the sincere prayer
of Jennie." You may be sure that I felt good and happy, indeed.
Reader mine, in writing these rapid and imperfect recollections, I find
that should I attempt to write up all the details that I would not only
weary you, but that these memoirs would soon become monotonous and
uninteresting. I have written only of what I saw. Many little acts of
kindness shown me by ladies and old citizens, I have omitted. I remember
going to an old citizen's house, and he and the old lady were making
clay pipes. I recollect how they would mold the pipes and put them
in a red-hot stove to burn hard. Their kindness to me will never be
forgotten. The first time that I went there they seemed very glad to see
me, and told me that I looked exactly like their son who was in the army.
I asked them what regiment he belonged to. After a moment's silence the
old lady, her voice trembling as she spoke, said the Fourteenth Georgia,
and then she began to cry. Then the old man said, "Yes, we have a son
in the army. He went to Virginia the first year of the war, and we have
never heard of him since. These wars are terrible, sir. The last time
that we heard of him, he went with Stonewall Jackson away up in the
mountains of West Virginia, toward Romney, and I did hear that while
standing picket at a little place called Hampshire Crossing, on a little
stream called St. John's Run, he and eleven others froze to death.
We have never heard of him since." He got up and began walking up and
down the room, his hands crossed behind his back. I buckled on my
knapsack to go back to camp, and I shook hands with the two good old
people, and they told me good-bye, and both said, "God bless you, God
bless you." I said the same to them, and said, "I pray God to reward you,
and bring your son safe home again." When I got back to camp I found
cannon and caissons moving, and I knew and felt that General Hood was
going to strike the enemy again. Preparations were going on, but
everything seemed to be out of order and system. Men were cursing,
and seemed to be dissatisfied and unhappy, but the army was moving.
A BODY WITHOUT LIMBS--AN ARMY WITHOUT CAVALRY
Forrest's cavalry had been sent to Mississippi; Wheeler's cavalry had
been sent to North Carolina and East Tennessee. Hood had sent off both
of his "arms"--for cavalry was always called the most powerful "arm"
of the service. The infantry were the feet, and the artillery the body.
Now, Hood himself had no legs, and but one arm, and that one in a sling.
The most terrible and disastrous blow that the South ever received was
when Hon. Jefferson Davis placed General Hood in command of the Army of
Tennessee. I saw, I will say, thousands of men cry like babies--regular,
old-fashioned boohoo, boohoo, boohoo.
Now, Hood sent off all his cavalry right in the face of a powerful army,
by order and at the suggestion of Jeff Davis, and was using his cannon as
"feelers." O, God! Ye gods! I get sick at heart even at this late day
when I think of it.
I remember the morning that General Wheeler's cavalry filed by our
brigade, and of their telling us, "Good-bye, boys, good-bye, boys."
The First Tennessee Cavalry and Ninth Battalion were both made up in
Maury county. I saw John J. Stephenson, my friend and step-brother,
and David F. Watkins my own dear brother, and Arch Lipscomb, Joe Fussell,
Captain Kinzer, Jack Gordon, George Martin, Major Dobbins, Colonel Lewis,
Captain Galloway, Aaron and Sims Latta, Major J. H. Akin, S. H. Armstrong,
Albert Dobbins, Alex Dobbins, Jim Cochran, Rafe Grisham, Captain Jim Polk,
and many others with whom I was acquainted. They all said, "Good-bye,
Sam, good-bye, Sam." I cried. I remember stopping the whole command
and begging them to please not leave us; that if they did, Atlanta, and
perhaps Hood's whole army, would surrender in a few days; but they told
me, as near as I can now remember, "We regret to leave you, but we
have to obey orders." The most ignorant private in the whole army saw
everything that we had been fighting for for four years just scattered
like chaff to the winds. All the Generals resigned, and those who did
not resign were promoted; colonels were made brigadier-generals, captains
were made colonels, and the private soldier, well, he deserted, don't you
see? The private soldiers of the Army of Tennessee looked upon Hood as
an over-rated general, but Jeff Davis did not.
BATTLE OF JULY 22, 1864
Cannon balls, at long range, were falling into the city of Atlanta.
Details of citizens put out the fires as they would occur from the
burning shells. We could see the smoke rise and hear the shells pass
away over our heads as they went on toward the doomed city.
One morning Cheatham's corps marched out and through the city, we knew
not whither, but we soon learned that we were going to make a flank
movement. After marching four or five miles, we "about faced" and
marched back again to within two hundred yards of the place from whence
we started. It was a "flank movement," you see, and had to be counted
that way anyhow. Well, now as we had made the flank movement, we had to
storm and take the Federal lines, because we had made a flank movement,
you see. When one army makes a flank movement it is courtesy on the part
of the other army to recognize the flank movement, and to change his
base. Why, sir, if you don't recognize a flank movement, you ain't a
graduate of West Point. Hood was a graduate of West Point, and so
was Sherman. But unfortunately there was Mynheer Dutchman commanding
(McPherson had gone to dinner) the corps that had been flanked, and he
couldn't speak English worth a cent. He, no doubt, had on board mein
lager beer, so goot as vat never vas. I sweitzer, mein Got, you bet.
Bang, bang, bang, goes our skirmish line advancing to the attack.
Hans, vat fer ish dot shooting mit mein left wing? Ish dot der Repels,
The plan of battle, as conceived and put into action by General Cleburne,
was one of the boldest conceptions, and, at the same time, one of the
most hazardous that ever occurred in our army during the war, but it only
required nerve and pluck to carry it out, and General Cleburne was equal
to the occasion. The Yankees had fortified on two ranges of hills,
leaving a gap in their breastworks in the valley entirely unfortified and
unprotected. They felt that they could enfilade the valley between the
two lines so that no troop would or could attack at this weak point.
This valley was covered with a dense undergrowth of trees and bushes.
General Walker, of Georgia, was ordered to attack on the extreme right,
which he did nobly and gallantly, giving his life for his country while
leading his men, charging their breastworks. He was killed on the very
top of their works. In the meantime General Cleburne's division was
marching by the right flank in solid column, the same as if they were
marching along the road, right up this valley, and thus passing between
the Yankee lines and cutting them in two, when the command by the left
flank was given, which would throw them into line of battle. By this
maneuver, Cleburne's men were right upon their flank, and enfilading
their lines, while they were expecting an attack in their front. It was
the finest piece of generalship and the most successful of the war.
Shineral Mynheer Dutchman says, "Hans, mein Got! mein Got! vare ish
Shineral Mackferson, eh? Mein Got, mein Got! I shust pelieve dot der
Repel ish cooming. Hans, go cotch der filly colt. Now, Hans, I vants
to see vedder der filly colt mid stand fire. You get on der filly colt,
und I vill get pehind der house, und ven you shust coome galloping py,
I vill say 'B-o-o-h,' und if der filly colt don't shump, den I vill know
dot der filly colt mid stand fire." Hans says, "Pap, being as you have
to ride her in the battle, you get on her, and let me say booh." Well,
Shineral Mynheer gets on the colt, and Hans gets behind the house,
and as the general comes galloping by, Hans had got an umbrella, and on
seeing his father approach, suddenly opens the umbrella, and hallowing
at the top of his voice b-o-o-h! _b-o-o-h!_ B-O-O-H! The filly makes a
sudden jump and ker-flop comes down Mynheer. He jumps up and says, "Hans,
I alvays knowed dot you vas a vool. You make too pig a booh; vy, you
said booh loud enuff to scare der ole horse. Hans, go pring out der ole
horse. Der tam Repel vill be here pefore Mackferson gits pack from der
dinner time. I shust peleve dot der Repel ish flanking, und dem tam fool
curnells of mein ish not got sense enuff to know ven Sheneral Hood is
flanking. Hans, bring out der old horse, I vant to find out vedder
Mackferson ish got pack from der dinner time or not."
We were supporting General Cleburne's division. Our division (Cheatham's)
was commanded by General John C. Brown. Cleburne's division advanced to
the attack. I was marching by the side of a soldier by the name of James
Galbreath, and a conscript from the Mt. Pleasant country. I never heard
a man pray and "go on" so before in my life. It actually made me feel
sorry for the poor fellow. Every time that our line would stop for a few
minutes, he would get down on his knees and clasp his hands and commence
praying. He kept saying, "O, my poor wife and children! God have mercy
on my poor wife and children! God pity me and have mercy on my soul!"
Says I, "Galbreath, what are you making a fool of yourself that way for?
If you are going to be killed, why you are as ready now as you ever will
be, and you are making everybody feel bad; quit that nonsense." He quit,
but kept mumbling to himself, "God have mercy! God have mercy!"
Cleburne had reached the Yankee breastworks; the firing had been and was
then terrific. The earth jarred, and shook, and trembled, at the shock
of battle as the two armies met. Charge men! And I saw the Confederate
flag side by side with the Federal flag. A courier dashed up and said,
"General Cleburne has captured their works--advance and attack upon his
immediate left. Attention, forward!" A discharge of cannon, and a ball
tore through our ranks. I heard Galbreath yell out, "O, God, have mercy
on my poor soul." The ball had cut his body nearly in two. Poor fellow,
he had gone to his reward.
We advanced to the attack on Cleburne's immediate left. Cleburne himself
was leading us in person, so that we would not fire upon his men, who
were then inside the Yankee line. His sword was drawn. I heard him say,
"Follow me, boys." He ran forward, and amid the blazing fires of the
Yankee guns was soon on top of the enemy's works. He had on a bob-tail
Confederate coat, which looked as if it had been cut out of a scrimp
pattern. (You see I remember the little things). We were but a few
paces behind, following close upon him, and soon had captured their line
of works. We were firing at the flying foe--astraddle of their lines of
battle. This would naturally throw us in front, and Cleburne's corps
supporting us. The Yankee lines seemed routed. We followed in hot
pursuit; but from their main line of entrenchment--which was diagonal to
those that we had just captured, and also on which they had built forts
and erected batteries--was their artillery, raking us fore and aft.
We passed over a hill and down into a valley being under the muzzles of
this rampart of death. We had been charging and running, and had stopped
to catch our breath right under their reserve and main line of battle.
When General George Maney said, "Soldiers, you are ordered to go forward
and charge that battery. When you start upon the charge I want you to go,
as it were, upon the wings of the wind. Shoot down and bayonet the
cannoneers, and take their guns at all hazards." Old Pat Cleburne
thought he had better put in a word to his soldiers. He says, "You hear
what General Maney says, boys. If they don't take it, by the eternal God,
you have got to take it!" I heard an Irishman of the "bloody Tinth,"
and a "darn good regiment, be jabbers," speak up, and say, "Faith,
gineral, we'll take up a collection and buy you a batthery, be Jasus."
About this time our regiment had re-formed, and had got their breath,
and the order was given to charge, and take their guns even at the point
of the bayonet. We rushed forward up the steep hill sides, the seething
fires from ten thousand muskets and small arms, and forty pieces of
cannon hurled right into our very faces, scorching and burning our
clothes, and hands, and faces from their rapid discharges, and piling the
ground with our dead and wounded almost in heaps. It seemed that the hot
flames of hell were turned loose in all their fury, while the demons of
damnation were laughing in the flames, like seething serpents hissing
out their rage. We gave one long, loud cheer, and commenced the charge.
As we approached their lines, like a mighty inundation of the river
Acheron in the infernal regions, Confederate and Federal meet. Officers
with drawn swords meet officers with drawn swords, and man to man meets
man to man with bayonets and loaded guns. The continued roar of battle
sounded like unbottled thunder. Blood covered the ground, and the dense
smoke filled our eyes, and ears, and faces. The groans of the wounded
and dying rose above the thunder of battle. But being heavily supported
by Cleburne's division, and by General L. E. Polk's brigade, headed
and led by General Cleburne in person, and followed by the First and
Twenty-seventh up the blazing crest, the Federal lines waver, and
break and fly, leaving us in possession of their breastworks, and the
battlefield, and I do not know how many pieces of artillery, prisoners
and small arms.
Here is where Major Allen, Lieutenant Joe Carney, Captain Joe Carthell,
and many other good and brave spirits gave their lives for the cause of
their country. They lie today, weltering in their own life's blood.
It was one of the bloody battles that characterized that stormy epoch,
and it was the 22nd of July, and one of the hottest days I ever felt.
General George Maney led us in the heat of battle, and no general of the
war acted with more gallantry and bravery during the whole war than did
General George Maney on this occasion.
The victory was complete. Large quantities of provisions and army
stores were captured. The Federals had abandoned their entire line of
breastworks, and had changed their base. They were fortifying upon our
left, about five miles off from their original position. The battlefield
was covered with their dead and wounded soldiers. I have never seen so
many battle-flags left indiscriminately upon any battlefield. I ran over
twenty in the charge, and could have picked them up everywhere; did pick
up one, and was promoted to fourth corporal for gallantry in picking up
a flag on the battlefield.
On the final charge that was made, I was shot in the ankle and heel of my
foot. I crawled into their abandoned ditch, which then seemed full and
running over with our wounded soldiers. I dodged behind the embankment
to get out of the raking fire that was ripping through the bushes,
and tearing up the ground. Here I felt safe. The firing raged in front;
we could hear the shout of the charge and the clash of battle. While I
was sitting here, a cannon ball came tearing down the works, cutting a
soldier's head off, spattering his brains all over my face and bosom,
and mangling and tearing four or five others to shreds. As a wounded
horse was being led off, a cannon ball struck him, and he was literally
ripped open, falling in the very place I had just moved from.
I saw an ambulance coming from toward the Yankee line, at full gallop,
saw them stop at a certain place, hastily put a dead man in the ambulance,
and gallop back toward the Yankee lines. I did not know the meaning of
this maneuver until after the battle, when I learned that it was General
McPherson's dead body.
We had lost many a good and noble soldier. The casualties on our side
were frightful. Generals, colonels, captains, lieutenants, sergeants,
corporals and privates were piled indiscriminately everywhere. Cannon,
caissons, and dead horses were piled pell-mell. It was the picture of a
real battlefield. Blood had gathered in pools, and in some instances had
made streams of blood. 'Twas a picture of carnage and death.
"Why, hello, corporal, where did you get those two yellow stripes from on
"Why, sir, I have been promoted for gallantry on the battlefield, by
picking up an orphan flag, that had been run over by a thousand fellows,
and when I picked it up I did so because I thought it was pretty, and I
wanted to have me a shirt made out of it."
"I could have picked up forty, had I known that," said Sloan.
"So could I, but I knew that the stragglers would pick them up."
Reader mine, the above dialogue is true in every particular. As long
as I was in action, fighting for my country, there was no chance for
promotion, but as soon as I fell out of ranks and picked up a forsaken
and deserted flag, I was promoted for it. I felt "sorter" cheap when
complimented for gallantry, and the high honor of fourth corporal was
conferred upon me. I felt that those brave and noble fellows who had
kept on in the charge were more entitled to the honor than I was, for
when the ball struck me on the ankle and heel, I did not go any further.
And had I only known that picking up flags entitled me to promotion and
that every flag picked up would raise me one notch higher, I would have
quit fighting and gone to picking up flags, and by that means I would
have soon been President of the Confederate States of America. But
honors now begin to cluster around my brow. This is the laurel and
ivy that is entwined around the noble brows of victorious and renowned
generals. I honestly earned the exalted honor of fourth corporal by
picking up a Yankee battle-flag on the 22nd day of July, at Atlanta.
28TH OF JULY AT ATLANTA
Another battle was fought by Generals Stephen D. Lee and Stewart's corps,
on the 28th day of July. I was not in it, neither was our corps, but
from what I afterwards learned, the Yankees got the best of the
engagement. But our troops continued fortifying Atlanta. No other
battles were ever fought at this place.
I VISIT MONTGOMERY
Our wounded were being sent back to Montgomery. My name was put on the
wounded list. We were placed in a box-car, and whirling down to West
Point, where we changed cars for Montgomery. The cars drew up at the
depot at Montgomery, and we were directed to go to the hospital. When we
got off the cars, little huckster stands were everywhere--apples, oranges,
peaches, watermelons, everything. I know that I never saw a greater
display of eatables in my whole life. I was particularly attracted
toward an old lady's stand; she had bread, fish, and hard boiled eggs.
The eggs were what I was hungry for. Says I:
"Madam, how do you sell your eggs?"
"Two for a dollar," she said.
"How much is your fish worth?"
"A piece of bread and a piece of fish for a dollar."
"Well, madam, put out your fish and eggs." The fish were hot and done to
a crisp--actually frying in my mouth, crackling and singing as I bit off
a bite. It was good, I tell you. The eggs were a little over half done.
I soon demolished both, and it was only an appetizer. I invested a
couple of dollars more, and thought that maybe I could make out till
supper time. As I turned around, a smiling, one-legged man asked me if I
wouldn't like to have a drink. Now, if there was anything that I wanted
at that time, it was a drink.
"How do you sell it?" says I.
"A dollar a drink," said he.
"Pour me out a drink."
It was a tin cap-box. I thought that I knew the old fellow, and he kept
looking at me as if he knew me. Finally, he said to me:
"It seems that I ought to know you."
I told him that I reckon he did, as I had been there.
"Ain't your name Sam?" said he.
"That is what my mother called me."
Well, after shaking hands, it suddenly flashed upon me who the old
fellow was. I knew him well. He told me that he belonged to Captain
Ed. O'Neil's company, Second Tennessee Regiment, General William
B. Bate's corps, and that his leg had been shot off at the first battle
of Manassas, and at that time he was selling cheap whisky and tobacco for
a living at Montgomery, Alabama. I tossed off a cap-box full and paid
him a dollar. It staggered me, and I said:
"That is raw whisky."
"Yes," said he, "all my cooked whisky is out."
"If this is not quite cooked, it is as hot as fire anyhow, and burns like
red-hot lava, and the whole dose seems to have got lodged in my windpipe."
I might have tasted it, but don't think that I did. All I can remember
now, is a dim recollection of a nasty, greasy, burning something going
down my throat and chest, and smelling, as I remember at this day,
like a decoction of red-pepper tea, flavored with coal oil, turpentine
and tobacco juice.
I went to the hospital that evening, saw it, and was satisfied with
hospital life. I did not wish to be called a hospital rat. I had no
idea of taking stock and making my headquarters at this place.
Everything seemed clean and nice enough, but the smell! Ye gods!
I stayed there for supper. The bill of fare was a thin slice of light
bread and a plate of soup, already dished out and placed at every plate.
I ate it, but it only made me hungry. At nine o'clock I had to go to bed,
and all the lights were put out. Every man had a little bunk to himself.
I do not know whether I slept or not, but I have a dim recollection of
"sawing gourds," and jumping up several times to keep some poor wretch
from strangling. He was only snoring. I heard rats filing away at night,
and thought that burglars were trying to get in; my dreams were not
pleasant, if I went to sleep at all. I had not slept off of the ground
or in a house in three years. It was something new to me, and I could
not sleep, for the room was so dark that had I got up I could not have
found my way out. I laid there, I do not know how long, but I heard a
rooster crow, and a dim twilight began to glimmer in the room, and even
footsteps were audible in the rooms below. I got sleepy then, and went
off in a doze. I had a beautiful dream--dreamed that I was in heaven,
or rather, that a pair of stairs with richly carved balusters and wings,
and golden steps overlaid with silk and golden-colored carpeting came
down from heaven to my room; and two beautiful damsels kept peeping,
and laughing, and making faces at me from the first platform of these
steps; and every now and then they would bring out their golden harps,
and sing me a sweet and happy song. Others were constantly passing,
but always going the same way. They looked like so many schoolgirls,
all dressed in shining garments. Two or three times the two beautiful
girls would go up the stairs and return, bringing fruits and vegetables
that shined like pure gold. I knew that I never had seen two more
beautiful beings on earth. The steps began to lengthen out, and seemed
to be all around me; they seemed to shine a halo of glory all about.
The two ladies came closer, and closer, passing around, having a
beautiful wreath of flowers in each hand, and gracefully throwing them
backward and forward as they laughed and danced around me. Finally
one stopped and knelt down over me and whispered something in my ear.
I threw up my arms to clasp the beautiful vision to my bosom, when I felt
my arm grabbed, and "D--n ye, I wish you would keep your d--n arm off
my wound, ye hurt me," came from the soldier in the next bunk. The sun
was shining full in my face. I got up and went down to breakfast. The
bill of fare was much better for breakfast than it had been for supper;
in fact it was what is called a "jarvis" breakfast. After breakfast,
I took a ramble around the city. It was a nice place, and merchandise
and other business was being carried on as if there was no war. Hotels
were doing a thriving business; steamboats were at the wharf, whistling
and playing their calliopes. I remember the one I heard was playing
"Away Down on the Sewanee River." To me it seemed that everybody was
smiling, and happy, and prosperous.
I went to the capitol, and it is a fine building, overlooking the city.
When I got there, I acted just like everybody that ever visited a fine
building--they wanted to go on top and look at the landscape. That is
what they all say. Now, I always wanted to go on top, but I never yet
thought of landscape. What I always wanted to see, was how far I could
look, and that is about all that any of them wants. It's mighty nice
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