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Title: With Fire and Sword
Author: Byers, Samuel H. M.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "With Fire and Sword" ***

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WITH FIRE AND SWORD



[Illustration]



[Illustration: W. T. Sherman]

[Illustration: S. H. M. Byers.]



  With Fire and Sword

    BY
  MAJOR S. H. M. BYERS

  OF GENERAL SHERMAN'S STAFF

  Author of "Sherman's March to the Sea," "Iowa
    in War Times," "Twenty Years in
      Europe," and of other books


  [Illustration]


  NEW YORK
  THE NEALE PUBLISHING COMPANY
  1911



Copyright, 1911, by

THE NEALE PUBLISHING COMPANY



CONTENTS


             PAGE


CHAPTER I      11

  My enlistment in the Union Army--The "Bushwhackers" of Missouri--The
    Quantrells and the James Brothers--Cutting a man's head off--My
    first adventure in the war--Capturing a guerrilla.


CHAPTER II      22

  We leave Missouri and go South--The prisoners of Donelson--The taking
    of New Madrid--"Kindly bury this unfortunate officer"--Quaker guns
    at Shiloh--The killing of the colonel.


CHAPTER III      29

  Iuka, the fiercest battle of the war, 217 men out of 482 of my
    regiment are shot--The awful rebel charge at Corinth--Moonlight on
    the battlefield--Bushels of arms and legs--Tombstones for
    fireplaces--One of Grant's mistakes.


CHAPTER IV      40

  An unlucky campaign led by General Grant--Holly Springs burned up--The
    first foragers--Some modern Falstaffs--Counting dead men.


CHAPTER V      49

  The laughable campaign of the war--An army floating among the tree
    tops of the Yazoo Pass.


CHAPTER VI      54

  Grant's new plan at Vicksburg--Running the Vicksburg batteries--An
    hour and a half of horror--The batteries are passed--The most
    important event in the war.


CHAPTER VII      63

  Crossing the Mississippi on gunboats and steamers--Battle of Port
    Gibson--How General Grant looked to a private soldier--A boy from
    Mississippi--Fights at Raymond--Battle of Jackson in a
    thunderstorm--Digging his brothers' grave--Grant in battle--Saving a
    flag--How men feel in battle--An awful spectacle--The critical
    moment of General Grant's life--A battlefield letter from him to
    Sherman.


CHAPTER VIII      87

  Assaults on the walls of Vicksburg--Logan in battle--An army mule--A
    promotion under the guns of Vicksburg--A storm of iron hail at
    Vicksburg--The Vicksburg clock--The town surrenders--The glad
    news--Reading my first order to the regiment--My regiment put on
    guard in the captured city--Eight days' furlough in four years of
    war.


CHAPTER IX      102

  Sherman's army floats across the Tennessee River at
    midnight--Washington at the Delaware nothing compared to this--We
    assault Missionary Ridge--An awful battle--My capture.


CHAPTER X      111

  In Libby Prison--Life there--"Belle Isle"--All prisons bad--The great
    escape--"Maryland, My Maryland."


CHAPTER XI      119

  Escaping from Macon--An adventure in Atlanta--In the disguise of a
    Confederate soldier--My wanderings inside the Confederate army and
    what I experienced there--I am captured as a spy--How I got out of
    it all.


CHAPTER XII      137

  Under fire of our own guns at Charleston--Trying to capture a railway
    train--The secret band--Betrayed--The desolation of Charleston.


CHAPTER XIII      144

  Living in a grave--An adventure in the woods of South Carolina--Life
    in the asylum yard at the capital of South Carolina--The song of
    "Sherman's March to the Sea"--How it came to be written--Final
    escape--The burning up of South Carolina's capitol.


CHAPTER XIV      174

  The army in the Carolinas--General Sherman sends for me--Gives me a
    place on his staff--Experiences at army headquarters--Sherman's life
    on the march--Music at headquarters--Logan's violin--The General's
    false friend--The army wades, swims, and fights through the
    Carolinas--I am sent as despatch bearer to General Grant--A strange
    ride down the Cape Fear River in the night--General Terry--Learn
    that my song "The March to the Sea" is sung through the North, and
    has given the campaign its name--I bring the first news of Sherman's
    success to the North--An interview with General Grant.


CHAPTER XV      198

  Washington City in the last three days of the war--Look, the
    President!--_The last man of the regiment._



PREFACE

In war some persons seek adventures; others have them in spite of
themselves. It happened that the writer of this book belonged to a
regiment that seemed to be always in the midst of great experiences. It
was, in fact, one of the few regiments that absolutely fought themselves
out of existence. It was mustered in a thousand strong; it lost seven
hundred and seventy-seven men by death, wounds, and disease. The
fragment that was left over was transferred to a cavalry command. When
the writer finally escaped from prison, after many months of confinement
and many thrilling adventures both in prison and in the army of the
enemy, he was mustered out as a "supernumerary officer." His command had
ceased to exist. He was literally the _last man of the regiment_. Of the
eighty of his regiment who had been taken to prison with him all but
sixteen were dead. Of the nine captured from his own company all were
dead but one.

While with his command he had served as a private soldier, as sergeant,
and as adjutant. On escaping from prison he was for a time on General
Sherman's staff and was selected to run down the Cape Fear River and
carry the great news of Sherman's successes to the people of the North.

He kept a diary every day in the four years of war and adventure. The
substance of the facts related here is from its pages; occasionally they
are copied just as they are there set down. The book is not a history of
great army movements, it is simply a true tale of the thrilling
experiences of a subordinate soldier in the midst of great events.



With Fire and Sword



CHAPTER I

  My enlistment in the Union Army--The "Bushwhackers" of Missouri--The
    Quantrells and the James Brothers--Cutting a man's head off--My
    first adventure in the war--Capturing a guerrilla.


I am writing down these sketches of adventures of mine from a daily
journal or diary kept by me throughout the four years of the Civil War.
Its pages are crumpled and old and yellow, but I can read them still.

Fate so arranged it that I was the very first one to enlist in my
regiment, and it all came about through a confusion of names. A
patriotic mass-meeting was held in the court-house of the village where
I lived. Everybody was there, and everybody was excited, for the war
tocsin was sounding all over the country. A new regiment had been
ordered by the governor, and no town was so quick in responding to the
call as the village of Newton. We would be the very first. Drums were
beating at the mass-meeting, fifes screaming, people shouting. There was
a little pause in the patriotic noise, and then someone called out,
"Myers to the platform!" "Myers! Myers! Myers!" echoed a hundred other
voices. Mr. Myers never stirred, as he was no public speaker. I sat
beside him near the aisle. Again the voices shouted "Myers! Myers!"
Myers turned to me, laughed, and said, "They are calling you, Byers,"
and fairly pushed me out into the aisle. A handful of the audience
seeing Myers would not respond, did then call my own name, and both
names were cried together. Some of the audience becoming confused called
loudly for me. "Go on," said Myers, half-rising and pushing me toward
the platform.

I was young,--just twenty-two,--ambitious, had just been admitted to the
bar, and now was all on fire with the newly awakened patriotism. I went
up to the platform and stood by the big drum. The American flag, the
flag that had been fired on by the South, was hanging above my head. In
a few minutes I was full of the mental champagne that comes from a
cheering multitude. I was burning with excitement, with patriotism,
enthusiasm, pride, and my enthusiasm lent power to the words I uttered.
I don't know why nor how, but I was moving my audience. The war was not
begun to put down slavery, but what in the beginning had been an
incident I felt in the end would become a cause.

The year before I had been for many months on a plantation in
Mississippi, and there with my own eyes had seen the horrors of slavery.
I had seen human beings flogged; men and women bleeding from an
overseer's lash. Now in my excitement I pictured it all. I recalled
everything. "And the war, they tell us," I cried, "is to perpetuate this
curse!" In ten minutes after my stormy words one hundred youths and men,
myself the first, had stepped up to the paper lying on the big drum and
had put down our names for the war.

We all mustered on the village green. Alas, not half of them were ever
to see that village green again! No foreboding came to me, the
enthusiastic youth about to be a soldier, of the "dangers by flood and
field," the adventures, the thrilling scenes, the battles, the prisons,
the escapes, that were awaiting me.

Now we were all enthusiasm to be taken quickly to the front, to the
"seat of war." We could bide no delay. Once our men were on the very
point of mobbing and "egging" our great, good Governor Kirkwood, because
for a moment he thought he would be compelled to place us in a later
regiment. However, we were immediately started in wagons for the nearest
railroad, fifty miles away.

At the town of Burlington, on the 15th of July, 1861, we were mustered
into the service as Company B of the Fifth Iowa Infantry. Our colonel,
W. H. Worthington, was a military martinet from some soldier school in
Kentucky. His sympathies were with his native South. Why he was leading
a Northern regiment was a constant mystery to his men.

The regiment spent scant time in Burlington, for in a little while we
were whisked down the Mississippi River in a steamer to St. Louis, and
soon joined the army of Frémont, organizing at Jefferson City to march
against General Price, who was flying toward Springfield with the booty
he had gained in his capture of Mulligan and his men at Boonville. Now
all began to look like war. Missouri was neither North nor South; she
was simply hell, for her people were cutting one another's throats, and
neighboring farmers killed each other and burned each other's homes. The
loyal feared to shut their eyes in sleep; the disloyal did not know if a
roof would be above their heads in the morning. Brothers of the same
family were in opposing armies, and the State was overrun by Southern
guerrillas and murderers. The Quantrells, the James Brothers, and other
irregular and roaming bands of villains rode everywhere, waylaying,
bushwhacking, and murdering.

We followed General Price's army to the Ozark Mountains, marching day
and night--the nights made hideous by the burning of homes on the track
of both the armies, while unburied corpses lay at the roadside. We
marched half the nights and all the days and just as we got close enough
to fight, the Washington politicians caused Frémont to be removed from
his command. Frémont had been ahead of his time. He had freed some
slaves, and the dough-faced politicians were not yet ready for action of
that character.

The campaign had been to no purpose. Some of our regiment, indignant at
the removal of their general, had to be guarded to prevent mutiny and
disorder. Now we turned about and made the long march back to the
Missouri River. Half that cold winter was spent near Syracuse, in
guarding the Pacific Railway. We lived in wedge tents, and spite of the
cold and snow and storm, our squads by turn tramped for miles up and
down the railroad in the darkness every night. What terrible tales, too,
we had in our little tents that winter, of the deeds of Quantrell's men.
It did not seem possible that the South could set loose a lot of
murderers to hang on the skirts of our army, to "bushwhack" an honorable
foe, burn villages, destroy farms, and drive whole counties into
conditions as frightful as war was in the Middle Ages. Only savage
Indians fought that way. Yet Quantrell's band of murderers was said to
be on the payroll of the Confederate States. Here and there, however,
his guerrilla outlaws met with awful punishment, and horrible incidents
became the order of the day and night.

I recall now how a prize was once offered by one of our commanders for
the head of a certain man among those desperate murderers, a desperado
with a band of men that knew no mercy. His troop of riders had
ambuscaded almost scores of our soldiers, and innocent farmers who did
not happen to like his ways were strung up to trees as unceremoniously
as one would drown a kitten. The offered prize of a thousand dollars
stimulated certain of our men in taking chances with this beast of the
Confederacy, and a corporal of our cavalry learned of the desperado's
occasional visits at night to his home, only a dozen miles away from
where we were camped. Several nights he secretly watched from a thicket
near the cabin for the bandit's return. Once in the darkness he heard a
horse's hoofs, and then a man dismounted and entered at the door. The
evening was chilly, and a bright fire in the open fireplace of the cabin
shone out as the man entered.

The corporal, who had disguised himself in an old gray overcoat, knocked
for entrance, and pretended to be a sick Confederate going on a furlough
to his home not far away. He was cautiously admitted and given a seat by
the open fire. He had no arms, and to the bandit and his wife his story
of sickness and a furlough seemed probable enough. The two men and the
one woman sat in front of the fireplace talking for an hour. The
corporal, with the guerrilla sitting within a few feet of him, thought
of the prize, and of his comrades murdered by this man. But what could
he do? Suddenly the thought came, "I must kill or be killed." Outside
there was only darkness and silence; inside the cabin, the low voices of
these three people and the flickering fire.

The corporal glanced about him. There was no gun to be seen that he
could seize. The guerrilla's big revolver hung at his belt. While
sitting thus, a bit of burning wood rolled out onto the hearth. The
guerrilla stooped over to put it in its place. Instantly the corporal
saw his chance and, springing for the iron poker at the fireside, dealt
the guerrilla a blow on the head that stretched him dead on the cabin
floor. In an instant his big jackknife was out of his pocket and in the
presence of the screaming wife the brute severed the man's head from his
body. Then he left the cabin, mounted his horse in the thicket, and in
the darkness carried his ghostly trophy into camp. It is a horrible ride
to think of, that dozen miles, with the bleeding head of a murdered man
on the saddle bow.

So the awful things went on all that winter in Missouri. As for myself,
I was tramping about as a corporal, helping in a small way to keep the
great railroad free from marauders and in possession of the Union army.

I don't know how it happened, but one morning our colonel, who had
always treated me with extreme gruffness, though he well knew I did my
duties with patriotic zeal, sent for me to come to his tent. I was a
little alarmed, not knowing what was about to happen to me. The colonel
called me by name as I entered, saluting him cap in hand, and for once
he actually smiled.

"Corporal," he said dryly, as if suddenly regretting his smile, "I have
noticed that you always did the duty assigned you with promptness. I
need a quartermaster sergeant. You are the man."

I was almost paralyzed with astonishment and pleasure. I stood stock
still, without a word of gratitude. At last, recovering myself, I
explained that I had enlisted expecting to fight, and not to fill some
easy position with the trains.

"If I could only be allowed to find a substitute," I ventured to say,
"in case of a fight, so I might share the danger with my comrades, I
would like the promotion."

Again the colonel tried to smile. "You probably will change your mind;
you will find excitement enough," he remarked, dismissing me.

I was hardly installed in my new post when to my surprise I was ordered
by the colonel to take a good horse and ride twelve miles across the
lone prairies and carry a message to a command at the village of Tipton.
Instantly my mind was excited with the hopes of an adventure. I don't
know, even now, just why I was selected for the venturesome undertaking.
I knew there was scarcely a road and not a house in the whole distance.
I knew, too, the whole country was full of murderous guerrillas. But
nevertheless I was full of elation. This was the kind of a thing I had
hoped for when I enlisted.

Light flakes of snow were falling when, with exultant spirits, I started
from the camp. The trip outward proved uneventful, for nothing happened
to me on my way. As I was returning, however, at a point halfway across
the prairie I was surprised to see a man in gray, probably a guerrilla,
ride out of a long slough or hollow to my left and gallop into the road
directly ahead of me. He was in complete gray uniform, wore a saber, and
had revolvers at his saddle bow. The man glanced back at me, and I saw
him reaching for his pistols. "Here comes my first fight in the war," I
thought instantly, "out here alone on the prairie." Save my one
half-loaded revolver, strapped to my waist, I was unarmed. The stranger,
without firing, galloped faster. I, too, galloped faster, the distance
between us remaining about the same. Each of us now had a pistol in his
hand, but it looked as if each were afraid to commence the duel. If the
stranger checked his horse to give him breath, I checked mine. If he
galloped again, I, too, put spurs to my animal. Imagining that other
guerrillas must be lurking quite near, I was not over-anxious to bring
on the engagement, and I suppose the armed man felt much the same way,
for he could not have thought that I was in such a place absolutely
alone. So neither fired. We just looked at each other and galloped.
Finally we approached a little wood, and in a twinkling he turned into a
path and was out of sight. I did not care to follow him to his
hiding-place just then, and quickly galloped to our camp a few miles
off.

Before midnight that night I, with a dozen of my regiment, surrounded
the little wood and a cabin secreted in its center. Approaching, we
looked into the windows, and, sure enough, there, roasting his feet in
front of an open fire, sat my rider of the day. When three of us
suddenly entered the house and demanded his surrender he sprang for a
rifle that stood like a poker by the fireside, aimed it at me, and
shouted "Never! Surrender yourself." A bayonet that instant against his
breast brought him to terms, however. There followed a little farewell
scene between him and his wife, who poured bottles of wrath on the heads
of the "bluecoats," and our captive--my captive--was hurried to the
guardhouse at the camp. It had been a perfectly bloodless encounter, but
next morning it turned out that I had by chance captured one of the most
dangerous guerrillas in Missouri.



CHAPTER II

  We leave Missouri and go South--The prisoners of Donelson--The taking
    of New Madrid--"Kindly bury this unfortunate officer"--Quaker guns
    at Shiloh--The killing of the colonel.


It was a trifling incident, this capture, compared with the dreadful
things I have referred to as going on in Missouri that memorable first
year of the Civil War. A great volume would not contain the record of
them all. The first dead men I saw while in the army were eight Missouri
farmers murdered by guerrillas and left lying in the hot sun and dust at
the roadside. The sight moved me as no great battle ever did afterward.

One half of the male population of Missouri was trying to kill the other
half. They were not opponents from different far-off sections fighting,
but near neighbors, and nothing seemed too awful or too cruel for them
to do. How I pitied the women and children who lived in the State in
those awful days!

General Sherman's designation of war as "hell" found more confirmation
in the dreadful raids, outrages, and murders by Quantrell's guerrillas
in Missouri than in the bloodiest battles of the four years' conflict.

Now for months my regiment, with others, had chased up and down, and all
over that unhappy old State of Missouri, trying to capture and punish
these bands of murderers. On the old steamboat _War Eagle_, too, we
paddled for weeks along the "Muddy Missouri" River, landing every here
and there to have a little brush with guerrillas who had fired on our
boat from the banks or from secret recesses in the woods. It was rare
that we could catch them or have a real fight. Their kind of war meant
ambuscades and murder.

At last an end came to this dreadful guerrilla-chasing business in
Missouri so far as we were concerned, anyway. We were to stop running
after Price's ubiquitous army too. We were no longer to be the victims
of ambuscades and night riding murderers.

The glad news came to my regiment that we were to be transferred to the
South, where the real war was.

One morning we left the cold and snow, where we had lived and shivered
in thin tents all the winter, left the thankless duty of patrolling
railroads in the storm at midnight, and marched in the direction of St.
Louis. A long, cold, miserable march it was too, hurrying in the daytime
and freezing in our bivouacs in the snow and woods at night. Many a man
we left to sicken and die at some farmhouse by the roadside. Our
destination was New Madrid, where we were to be a part of Pope's army in
the siege and capture of that town.

As we were about to embark on boats at St. Louis we beheld in the snow
and storm many steamers anchored out in the pitiless waters of the
Mississippi River. These vessels were loaded with shivering thousands in
gray and brown uniforms, the prisoners whom General Grant had captured
at the battle of Fort Donelson. There were twelve or fifteen thousand of
them. Seeing this host of prisoners made us feel that at last the Union
army had a general, although we had scarcely heard of U. S. Grant
before. This army of prisoners taken in battle was his introduction to
the world.

Shortly we were before New Madrid, and the siege conducted by General
Pope commenced. The town was defended by strong forts and many cannon,
but its speedy capture by us helped to open up the Mississippi River. It
was a new experience to us, to have cannonballs come rolling right into
our camp occasionally. Yet few men were injured by them. We were in more
danger when a fool officer one day took our brigade of infantry down
through a cornfield to assault a gunboat that lay in a creek close by.

The Rebel commander had expected us, and had his grape shot and his hot
water hose, and such things all ready for us. We went out of that
cornfield faster than we went in. This was real war, the thing my
regiment had been so longing for, in place of chasing murderers and
guerrillas in Missouri.

We entered New Madrid one morning before daylight. The enemy had left in
awful haste. I recall finding a dead Rebel officer, lying on a table in
his tent, in full uniform. He had been killed by one of our shells. A
candle burned beside him, and his cold hands closed on a pencil note
that said, "Kindly bury this unfortunate officer." His breakfast waited
on a table in the tent, showing how unexpected was his taking off.

Our victory was a great one for the nation, and it put two stars on the
shoulder straps of General Pope. It made him, too, commander of the
Eastern army.

A comrade in Company A of my regiment had been wounded a few days before
and had died in the enemy's hands. I now found his grave. At its head
stood a board with this curious inscription: "This man says he was a
private in the Fifth Iowa Regiment. He was killed while trying to attend
to other people's business."

Our command was now hurried to the Shiloh battlefield, of course too
late to be of any use. But we took part in the long, wonderful, and
ridiculous siege of Corinth, under Halleck, when our great army was held
back by red tape, martinets, and the fear of a lot of wooden guns that
sat on top of the enemy's breastworks, while that enemy, with all his
men, and with all his guns, and bag and baggage, was escaping to the
south. Our deeds were no credit to anybody, though here and there we had
a little fight.

One incident of great importance, however, happened to my regiment here.
It was the death of our colonel. One night when he was going the rounds
of the picket lines out in the woods he was shot dead by one of our own
men. The sentinel who did the killing declared that Rebels had been
slipping up to his post all night, and when he would hail with "Who goes
there?" they would fire at him and run into the darkness. He resolved to
stand behind a tree the next time and fire without hailing. By some
accident Colonel Worthington and his adjutant were approaching this
sentinel from the direction of the enemy. Suddenly the sentinel held his
gun around the tree and fired. The bullet struck the colonel in the
forehead, killing him instantly. As he fell from his horse the adjutant
sprang to the ground and cried, "Who shot the officer of the day?" "I
fired," exclaimed the sentinel, and he then told of his experiences of
the night. He was arrested, tried, and acquitted. Yet there were many
among us who believed that the colonel had been intentionally murdered.
He was one of the most competent colonels in the army, but among his
soldiers he was fearfully unpopular. He was, however, a splendid
disciplinarian, but this was something the volunteers did not want. In
their minds the colonel had been only a petty tyrant, and not even
wholly loyal. With a different disposition he certainly would have been
a distinguished soldier. He was one of the most military-looking men in
the whole army, but friends he had none. More than once his life had
been threatened by soldiers who regarded themselves as having been
treated badly by him.

His body was brought into camp the next morning and lay in his tent in
state. He was given a military funeral, and the horse that was bearing
him when he was killed was led behind his coffin.

After his death numbers of the men of the regiment were indignant, when
they found among his papers warrants and commissions intended by the
governor for them, commissions that had never been delivered. Their
promotions had never come about. Now they knew why.

Worthington was succeeded by Colonel C. L. Matthies, one of the
bravest, best, and most loved commanders of our army. Later Matthies was
made a general, and at the close of the war died of wounds received in
battle.

Although I was quartermaster sergeant of the regiment, I was always
careful that this should not keep me away from the command when enduring
hard marches or when engagements were coming on. When in camp I kept my
rifle in one of the ammunition wagons (of several of which I had
charge), but if the alarm sounded my rifle was on my shoulder and I was
the private soldier in the ranks of the company. I deserved no special
credit for this. I was only doing my duty. We had muzzle-loading Whitney
rifles and bayonets. The equipment and rations we carried in weight
would have been a respectable load for a mule.



CHAPTER III

  Iuka, the fiercest battle of the war, 217 men out of 482 of my
    regiment are shot--The awful Rebel charge at Corinth--Moonlight on
    the battlefield--Bushels of arms and legs--Tombstones for
    fireplaces--One of Grant's mistakes.


All that summer, after taking Corinth, we chased up and down the State
of Mississippi, trying to get fair battle with the Rebel army. At last
the chance came, and for my regiment it was an awful one--the battle of
Iuka.

The battle of Iuka took place on the 19th of September, 1862. It was
fought by a handful of the troops of General Rosecrans against half the
army of General Price. Grant was only a few miles away, but although
commander-in-chief, he knew nothing of the hardest-fought battle of the
Civil War until it was over.

One morning before daylight while camped in the woods near Jacinto half
expecting to be attacked, we heard that Price's army was in Iuka, some
eighteen miles away, and that if we would hurry there and attack from
one side, General Grant, with Ord's troops, would attack from another
side. How eagerly the regiment made the forward march on that beautiful
autumn day! The woods were in their fairest foliage, and it seemed too
lovely a day for war and bloodshed. The bugles played occasionally as
the men hurried along, but not a shot was fired. No noise like war fell
on the soldiers' ears as they tramped over the beautiful country road
toward the Tennessee River. They had time for reflection as they
marched, and they knew now they were going to battle. There had been no
time for letters or farewells, and each thought the other one, not
himself, most likely to fall in the coming engagement.

There were only 482 of my little regiment now marching there, hoping,
almost praying, the enemy might only wait. How little anyone dreamed
that before the sun set 217 of that little command would be stretched
dead or dying among the autumn leaves!

It was just two o'clock when the regiment ran on to the army of the
enemy, lying in line right across the road close to Iuka. My own
regiment was in the advance. Instantly it, too, was in line of battle
across that road, and in a few minutes absolutely the fiercest little
conflict of the war began. Our brigade was fearfully outnumbered.
Rosecrans, had ten thousand soldiers within five miles of the
battlefield, yet let three or four small regiments and a battery do all
the fighting. Ten miles away, in another direction, lay General Grant
and General Ord, with many other thousands, as silent as if paralyzed.
An unlucky wind blew, they said, and the sound of our cannon, that was
to have been the signal for them to attack also, was unheard by them.

Charge after charge was made upon our little line, and the Eleventh Ohio
Battery, which the regiment was protecting, was taken and retaken three
times. There were no breastworks, yet that one little brigade of
Hamilton's division stood there in the open and repulsed assault after
assault. It was the Iowa, the Missouri, and the Ohio boys against the
boys of Alabama and Mississippi, and the grass and leaves were covered
with the bodies in blue and gray. Not Balaklava, nor the Alma, saw such
fighting. It was a duel to the death. For hours the blue and the gray
stood within forty yards of each other and poured in sheets of musketry.
Every horse of the battery at the left of my regiment was killed, and
every gunner but one or two was shot and lying among the debris. No
battery in the whole four years' war lost so many men in so short a
time. Antietam, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, could show nothing like it.
Only the setting sun put an end to what was part of the time a hand to
hand conflict. One daring Rebel was shot down and bayoneted clear
behind the line of Company B, where he had broken through to seize the
flag of my regiment.

That night the enemy slipped away, leaving hundreds and hundreds of his
dead and wounded on the field. With a few lanterns our men then went
about and tried to gather up the wounded; the dead were left till
morning. There were 782 Union men lying there in their blood that long
night, 608 of them out of a single small brigade. While mothers and
sisters at home were praying for the safety of these dear ones at the
front, their spirits that night were leaving their torn bodies in the
dark and ascending heavenward. Five of my eight messmates of the day
before were shot. It was not a question who was dead, or wounded, but
who was _not_. Fifteen officers of our little half regiment were dead or
wounded. The enemy lost more than one thousand men in trying to destroy
that single brigade and its Ohio battery.

The burying party the next morning found nineteen dead Rebels lying
together at one place. At another spot 182 Rebel corpses lay in a row
covered by tarpaulins. The enemy had not had time to bury them.

It was a principle among our generals that if a command fought well in a
battle or got cut all to pieces, that was the particular command to be
put at the very front in the next hard scrap. And so it was that within
two weeks my regiment was placed outside the breastworks at Corinth, to
wait and receive another awful assault.

The night before the battle of Corinth the Fifth Iowa Regiment lay
across the Purdy road, in the bright moonlight. I remained awake all
night, talking with a comrade who shared my blanket with me. Poor Jimmy
King! he survived the war only to be murdered later on a plantation in
Mississippi. As we lay there in the wagon road, the awful losses of my
regiment at Iuka kept us thinking there in the moonlight what would
happen on the morrow. When morning came the firing opened, and for all
that day the battle raged fiercely at the left and center left, we
getting the worst of it, too. The Rebels were charging works that they
themselves had built when they held the town during Halleck's siege.
General Haccelman and many other of our officers had fallen. Our own
division, though fighting some, had lost but few men. That evening an
order came for us--Hamilton's Division--to assault the enemy's left
flank at midnight. Before the hour came, however, the move was decided
to be too dangerous, and we changed our position to one nearer the
forts. All the night we lay there under the brightest moonlight I ever
saw. Under the same quiet moonlight, and only six hundred yards away
from us, also lay the victorious Rebel army. They believed Corinth as
good as taken, but they had only captured our outer lines of forts. Yet
it looked very bad for us. Every house in town was full of our wounded
and our dead lay everywhere.

Once in the night I slipped away from the bivouac and hurried to the old
Tishimingo Hotel, to see a lieutenant of my company, who had been shot
through the breast. Never will I forget the horrible scenes of that
night. The town seemed full of the groans of dying men. In one large
room of the Tishimingo House surgeons worked all the night, cutting off
arms and legs. I could not help my friend. It was too late, for he was
dying. "Go back to the regiment," he said, smiling, "all will be
needed."

It was a relief to me to get back into the moonlight and out of the
horror, yet out there lay thousands of others in line, only waiting the
daylight to be also mangled and torn like these. The moon shone so
brightly the men in the lines, tired though they were, could scarcely
sleep. There the thousands lay, the blue and the gray, under the same
peaceful moon, worshiping the same God, and each praying for dear ones
North and South they would never again see. God could not answer the
prayers of the men in both armies that night. Had He done so, all would
have been killed on the morrow. At early daybreak I again went to see my
lieutenant. As I entered the building a cannonball from the enemy
crashed through the house and killed four soldiers by the stairway. My
friend, with many others, was being carried out to die elsewhere.

It was soon full day. In one of the rooms I saw the floors, tables, and
chairs covered with amputated limbs, some white and some broken and
bleeding. There were simply bushels of them, and the floor was running
blood. It was a strange, horrible sight,--but it was war. Yes, it was
"hell." I hastened back to the lines. Nine o'clock came, and now we knew
that the great assault was to be made. We looked for it against our own
division, as we lay in the grass waiting. Suddenly we heard something,
almost like a distant whirlwind. My regiment rose to its feet, fired a
few moments at scattering Rebels in our front, and were amazed to see a
great black column, ten thousand strong, moving like a mighty
storm-cloud out of the woods and attacking the forts and troops at our
left. Instantly we changed direction a little and, without further
firing, witnessed one of the greatest assaults of any war. It was the
storming of Fort Robinett. The cloud of Rebels we had seen divided
itself into three columns. These recklessly advanced on the forts,
climbing over the fallen trees and bending their heads against the awful
storm of grape and canister from all our cannon. A perfect blaze of
close range musketry, too, mowed them down like grass. Even a foe could
feel pity to see brave men so cruelly slaughtered.

When the assault had failed and the noise of battle was stilled, I
hurried down in front of Robinett. My canteen was full of water and I
pressed it to the lips of many a dying enemy--enemy no longer. Our grape
shot had torn whole companies of men to pieces. They lay in heaps of
dozens, even close up to the works. General Rogers, who had led a
brigade into the hopeless pit, lay on his back, dead, with his flag in
his hand. _He was the fifth one to die carrying that flag._ When I
reached him some cruel one had stripped him of his boots. Another had
taken his fine gold watch.

In this attack on Corinth the brave Southerners lost 5000 wounded, and
we buried 1423 of their dead on the battlefield. Our own loss had been
2200 dead and wounded. That night I stood guard under an oak tree on the
battlefield among the unburied dead. Many of the wounded, even, had not
yet been gathered up. The moon shone as brightly as the night before,
while thousands who had lain there under its peaceful rays before the
battle were now again sleeping, but never to waken.

Our regiment now pursued the flying Rebels with great vigor. The
quantities of broken batteries, wagons, tents, knapsacks, guns, etc.,
strewn along the roads behind them were immense. At the Hatchie River
the Rebels were momentarily headed off by a division under Hurlbut that
had hurried across from Bolivar. A seven hours' battle was fought at the
bridge, but the Rebels got away in another direction. Possibly the best
friend I had in the world, save my kin, was killed at that bridge. It
was Lieutenant William Dodd, a classmate in school. His head was shot
off by a cannonball just as his regiment was charging at the bridge.

The pursuit of the enemy was being pushed with vigor when the army was
ordered to desist and return to camp. It was an astounding order, as it
was in our power to destroy the defeated and flying columns. That order
was one of the mistakes of Grant's earlier days as a commander. Indeed,
we of the rank and file had little confidence in Grant in those days. We
reflected that at Shiloh he was miles away from the battlefield at the
critical moment. Sherman had saved the Union army from destruction
there. At Iuka, Grant, though commander, did not even know a battle was
going on. At Corinth he was forty miles away, and now, when we had the
enemy almost within our grasp, he suddenly called us back. Rosecrans
protested. It was in vain. The order, more imperative than before, was
repeated. It required months, and great events, to make Grant the hero
of the army which he afterward became.

This entry I find in my diary in one of those days: "Our commander of
the district is General U. S. Grant, who took Donelson; but aside from
that one hour's fighting, and a little fighting at Shiloh, the troops
know little about him. Rosecrans is at present the hero of this army,
and, with him leading it, the boys would storm Hades."

With the mercury at one hundred, the dust in the roads ankle deep, and
the whole atmosphere yellow and full of it, the regiments exhausted by
the pursuit, and yet disgusted at our recall, slowly tramped their way
back to Corinth. Now I visited my wounded companions in the hospital. On
inquiry for certain ones I learned that they were dead and lying out in
the improvised graveyard near by.

For some reason the dead at Hatchie Bridge were not buried. A week after
the battle my brother rode by there on a cavalry expedition and made the
horrible discovery that hogs were eating up the bodies of our dead
heroes. _That too was war._

We now camped on the edge of the town and went on building still other
and greater forts. Many of the soldiers made huts for themselves. It was
getting cooler now, and little fireplaces were built in the huts and
tents. Brick was scarce, and in a few instances the men used the stone
slabs from a graveyard close at hand. It seemed vandalism, but the dead
did not need them and the living did.



CHAPTER IV

  An unlucky campaign led by General Grant--Holly Springs burned up--The
    first foragers--Some modern Falstaffs--Counting dead men.


In a month's time, or by November 2, 1862, the army, reorganized, our
division led by Quimby, and Grant in command of the whole force, started
on that very first disastrous campaign for the rear of Vicksburg. Grant
had some thirty thousand soldiers to march with him by way of Grand
Junction and Holly Springs, and another thirty thousand men, under
Sherman, he sent down the Mississippi River to attack Vicksburg from
another direction. We marched in mud and wind and rain till nearly
Christmas, the enemy constantly retreating before us. We made a
tremendous supply station at Holly Springs and left it in charge of a
garrison. There were supplies there for a hundred thousand men, besides
a million dollars' worth of captured cotton.

Just as we were confident of overtaking and destroying the enemy, we
were stunned by the tidings that a great column of Rebel cavalry had
dashed in behind our army. With torches and firebrands they had burned
Holly Springs to the ground, and had destroyed all the army stores.
There was not a potato or cracker or a pound of bacon left. How I
remember that dark night when Van Dorn's cavalry got behind us in the
country lanes of Mississippi! I had been started back to a hospital in
Holly Springs, for my eyes had been inflamed for days. Just as my little
freight train reached the suburb of what had been the town, the rear
guard of the enemy rode out at the other side. The morning that I
arrived there was nothing there but smoke, and ashes, and ruins, and a
smell of coal oil over all. A million dollars' worth of our army
supplies had been burned up in a night. The pretty town, too, was in
ashes, and Van Dorn's bold cavalry swung their sabers in the air and
rode away laughing. General Grant's father and mother, in the town at
the time on their way to visit their illustrious son with the advance of
the army, were captured, but politely paroled and left among the ruins.

The loss of the town was a disgrace to the North. There was a fort
there, solidly built of cotton bales and occupied by a colonel and a
thousand troops. The colonel forgot what our ancestors did with cotton
bales at New Orleans, and promptly threw up the sponge. But then Colonel
Murphy was not General Jackson. With the loss of Holly Springs and the
destruction of our base of supplies there was nothing for that whole
army of Grant's to do but to trudge its weary way back to Corinth and
Memphis, through the mud and the wind and the rain.

The tragical part of that campaign was taking place at the same moment
down by the Yazoo River, right under the guns of Vicksburg. Grant, when
he marched out of Memphis, had sent Sherman and thirty thousand men down
the river in steamboats to attack Vicksburg from one side while he
should hurry along with another thirty thousand men and pound it from
the other side. Sherman and his heroes made the awful assaults at
Chickasaw bayou we read of, never dreaming of the fiasco that had
befallen the main army at Holly Springs. Not one word of the news ever
reached him--and then in swamps and bayous his soldiers waded in water
halfway to their necks and assaulted impregnable hills and breastworks.
Two thousand men were killed or mangled to no purpose. Some of the
heroic fighting of the war was done in that Yazoo slaughter pen, and
then Sherman and his crippled army withdrew in utter failure.

Vicksburg was safe for awhile.

My own duty in that unlucky campaign with Grant had been to search the
country in the neighborhood of our camps and bivouacs for additional
supplies. Many a time, with a dozen or twenty men for guards, and a
couple of six-mule teams, we would venture miles from camp to confiscate
bacon, flour, poultry, or whatever else a soldier could eat. On my
return to the regiment with a wagon full of good things, the companies
would set up a cheer for the quartermaster sergeant. The colonel always
allowed me to choose the guards who should accompany me. Many a time our
little squad got back to camp by the skin of their teeth, chased by
guerrillas or some wandering band of Rebel cavalry. Our habit was, when
we found a plantation with something to spare on it, to post sentinels
in the lanes in every direction, while a few of us with the aid of the
negroes loaded the wagons. If all went well, the procession, followed by
the slaves we freed and took with us, went back to camp in state.
Sometimes there was indecorous haste in getting home, owing to our
sentinel firing his gun in warning of near danger. More than one of the
boys of those venturous excursions, to this day, have not yet come back
to camp.

On one of these excursions one day we were surprised by a little party
of rangers, but we took their leader captive, and with him a fine
Kentucky charger and a splendid rifle. The brigade colonel presented to
me the rifle I myself had captured, for my "bravery," he said, but the
splendid thoroughbred he took for himself. Alas! this rifle, the
testimonial of my adventure, was burned up when the Rebel cavalry took
Holly Springs. I had left it there to send North some day.

These excursions after food that I have described must have been the
forerunners of Sherman's great forage parties later, on his "march to
the sea." It was easy enough to feed an army that way, if men could be
found to take the risk. Sherman's later forage parties were so strong
that the risk was reduced to fun.

I copy from my diary here (1862):

"Now the enemy is in front of us. He is on our flank and all around us.
It is dangerous to venture a mile from camp alone. In fact, orders are
strict for every man and every officer to stay close to his regiment day
or night.

"On all the plantations along our way in this campaign there are signs
of war. The cotton gins, the fences, the barns, are all gone,--burned by
raiders of both armies, who have scouted through this same country time
and again. The weather is often gloomy; the fenceless fields are brown
and naked; the big houses left standing on the plantations look lone and
desolate. There is no song of birds. The army wagons, in long trains,
and the soldiers in great strung-out columns of blue, go over the soft
ground across the fields, along what once was lanes and country roads,
almost in silence. Here and there a skirmish of musketry at some creek
crossing or at some wood is the only noise heard. This state of
Mississippi, like the whole South, sees the desolation of war. But the
big, white, lone houses on the deserted lawns, with their low verandas
about them, are not wholly unoccupied. Though the arms-bearing men of
the country are every one in the army fighting us, the women and the
children and the slaves are still at home. These slaves desert their
mistresses and come into the Union camps at night by hundreds, bearing
their bundles on their heads and their pickaninnies under their arms.

"As Rebel cavalry bands are rioting all around us, the strictest orders
are given about leaving camp. But those who slipped away without leave
the oftenest were themselves officers. Numbers of these went off almost
nightly, to pay their devoirs to ladies whom they happened to admire at
neighboring plantations. These women, glad enough of the compliments of
the Federal officers, let it be very clearly understood that they were
nevertheless true-blue Rebels. Things as to the war were simply glossed
over in conversation, and both the lady and the officer sometimes had a
delightful evening, even if the delight on the officer's part was in
violation of duty. Sometimes these visits led to ridiculous
terminations. War is not all tragedy."

Again I copy from the journal of that December:

"The other night three of the officers of our brigade, Captain H---- and
Lieutenants D---- and O---- got themselves into a pretty mess by leaving
camp to visit at a plantation. The laughable facts are these: We had
stopped two or three days, to mend bridges over the Yocona River.
General Grant had asked our brigade commander to report the names of
three officers for promotion. Captain H---- and two lieutenants were
selected. Among the private soldiers these men were not regarded as
deserving honor. On the contrary, they were looked upon as common
braggarts. Some politician at home, probably, had moved the wires for
their promotion. As it happened, these three officers were the worst
offenders of all, as to leaving camp without orders for the purpose of
visiting Rebel ladies at neighboring plantations. Some of the staff
heard of this and determined to unmask them. Some Rebel uniforms were
secured from prisoners in our hands, and one dark night when the captain
and his friends were away from camp at the home of a Mrs. S----,
visiting, a dozen of us in disguise were sent to surround the house.
Instantly there was a cry among the women of "guerrillas!"
"Confederates!" "Confederates!" "Friends!" and a bonny blue Rebel flag
was waved in the doorway. We were indeed a desperate-looking lot, but
the women met the supposed Rebel guerrillas almost with embraces. The
captain and his two lieutenants we pulled from under the bed by their
heels, and threatened them with instant death. The women begged us only
not to kill them in the house. The officers, on their knees, pleaded for
their lives. It was agreed that they should simply give up their swords,
be paroled, and allowed to return to camp. At headquarters the next
morning, in explanation of the loss of their swords, they told a
wonderful and Falstaffian tale of being overwhelmed by Van Dorn's
guerrillas the night before, and of their miraculous escape to camp.
That moment they were confronted with their surrendered swords and their
signatures to their paroles. There was a fine collapse at headquarters
that morning. The names of the three gentlemen were sent to General
Grant the same day, I understand. But not for promotion."

I had a little taste of life in the hospital that December. My eyes got
worse. For a little time I was in a fine private home in Holly Springs,
for the town, after its burning by Van Dorn, had been retaken by us.
Every room in the house had its floors filled with the sick and the
dying of both armies. Long years after that, while on shipboard
returning from Europe, I made by chance the acquaintance of Mrs. Kate
Sherwood Bonner, the authoress, who as a girl had lived in Holly
Springs. We talked of the war times, and it transpired that the mansion
where I had witnessed such distressful scenes among the dead and dying
was her father's home.

I saw General Grant's father and mother there in Holly Springs daily. At
the capture of the town they had been taken as stated, and released, the
father on parole.

I was now sent to Memphis, as I was still in hospital. The hospital here
was in the old Overton Hotel, which was crowded with hundreds of
wounded. The room used as a dead house was filled every night. It was
across the court and below my own room. I could see the corpses
distinctly, as the window was left open. It was my habit, a strange one,
when I awoke in the morning, to look over and count the corpses of men
who had been carried in there while I had been sleeping. It seems now a
ghastly business enough.



CHAPTER V

  The laughable campaign of the war--An army floating among the tree
    tops of the Yazoo Pass.


In a little time, February, 1863, Grant's army was again off to try for
Vicksburg. This time it was to go on that campaign, so laughable now,
but romantic always, called the "Yazoo Pass expedition." We were to go
down the Mississippi River in big steamers to Helena, and there transfer
ourselves on to a fleet of little steamers, cut the levee into the
overflooded country, and try floating a whole army a hundred miles
across the plantations and swamps of Mississippi.

My eyes were well again, and I was happy to join our regiment and be one
of the aquatic throng. Just as we were getting on to the boat at Memphis
two of my company managed to get shot by the provost guard. They had
been full of liquor, and refused to go to the steamer. They had been
heroes at Iuka. How unlucky now to get crippled for life in a drunken
brawl!

On the 22d of March, near Helena, my regiment went aboard the pretty
little schooner called the _Armada_. Shortly, dozens of these small
boats, crowded with regiments, accompanied by gunboats, were floating
about, awaiting the order to sail through a big cut that our engineers
had made in the river levee and get down the pass into Moon Lake. The
Mississippi was high and raging. All the low-lying country for half a
hundred miles was flooded till it looked like a vast sea, with forests
of trees standing in its midst. Here and there, too, a plantation,
higher than the surrounding country, was noticeable. The first pass into
Moon Lake was but a mile long. But through that pass swirled and roared
the waters of the Mississippi, so suddenly let loose by the break in the
levee.

At just four in the evening our little steamer got the order to turn out
of the river and into the rushing waters of the pass. We would not have
been more excited at being told to start over Niagara Falls. Our engines
are working backward and we enter the crevasse slowly, but in five
minutes the fearful, eddying current seized us, and our boat was whirled
round and round like a toy skiff in a washtub. We all held our breath as
the steamer was hurled among floating logs and against overhanging
trees. In ten minutes the rushing torrent had carried us, backward,
down into the little lake. Not a soul of the five hundred on board the
boat in this crazy ride was lost. Once in the lake we stopped, and with
amazement watched other boats, crowded with soldiers, also drift into
the whirl and be swept down the pass. It was luck, not management, that
half the little army was not drowned.

Now for days and days our little fleet coursed its way toward Vicksburg
among the plantations, swamps, woods, bayous, cane-brakes, creeks, and
rivers of that inland sea. Wherever the water seemed deepest that was
our course, but almost every hour projecting stumps and trees had to be
sawn off under the water to allow our craft to get through. Sometimes we
advanced only four or five miles a day. At night the boat would be tied
to some tall sycamore. Here and there we landed at some plantation that
seemed like an island in the flood. The negroes on the plantation,
amazed at our coming, wondered if it was the day of Jubilee or if it was
another Noah's flood and that these iron gunboats arks of safety.

We soldiers, if not on duty pushing the boat away from trees, had
nothing to do but sleep and eat and read. Most of the soldiers slept on
the decks, on the guards, and on the cabin floors. Four of us had a
little stateroom. I had with me a copy of Shakespeare, cribbed by one
of the boys somewhere, and the Bard of Avon was never studied under
stranger circumstances.

The Yazoo Pass, though not so crazy as the crevasse we had come through,
was nevertheless bad and dangerous. Two of our craft sank to the bottom,
but the soldiers were saved by getting into trees. All the boats were
torn half to pieces. One day as we pushed our way along the crooked
streams amid the vine-covered forests we ran onto a Rebel fort built on
a bit of dry land. In front of it were great rafts that completely
obstructed our way. An ocean steamer was also sunk in the channel in
front of us. To our amazement we learned that it was the _Star of the
West_, the ship that received the first shot fired in the war of the
Rebellion. That was when it was trying to take supplies to Fort Sumter.
Our gunboats shelled this "Fort Greenwood" in vain, and now Rebels were
gathering around and behind us and guerrillas were beginning to fire on
the boats. The waters, too, might soon subside, and our fleet and army
be unable to get back into the Mississippi. We could not go ahead.
Suddenly the orders came to turn about and steam as fast as possible to
a place of safety.

By April 8 we had made the journey through the woods and cane-brake back
to the pass. The picturesque farce was ended. We could now hunt some
other road to Vicksburg. We know nothing of what the generals thought of
this fiasco, but we private soldiers had great fun, and the long stay on
the boats had been a rest from hard campaigning. We had not lost a man.
A whole campaign and not a soldier lost!



CHAPTER VI

  Grant's new plan at Vicksburg--Running the Vicksburg batteries--An
    hour and a half of horror--The batteries are passed--The most
    important event in the war.


The attempt on Vicksburg was not to be given up. In the spring of 1863
the whole army moved down the Mississippi to begin one of the most noted
campaigns of history.

A real sane notion had gotten hold of Grant, and of scarcely anyone
else. That notion was, if possible, to get across the Mississippi
_below_ the town (Sherman had failed trying it above) and throw the
whole army on to the fortifications at the rear. If the town's defenders
should be bold and come out and fight us, so much the better. We wanted
that.

Soon General Grant built long stretches of wagon roads and corduroy
bridges that ran snakelike for forty miles among the black swamps,
cane-brakes, and lagoons on the west bank of the Mississippi River. He
then marched half his army down these roads to a point below Vicksburg,
below Grand Gulf, and bivouacked them on the shore of the river. The
other half, of which my regiment was a part, remained near the river
above the city. Possibly we were twenty-five thousand men there.

One night these twenty-five thousand bivouacked along the levees of the
great river were all in great excitement. "Coming events were casting
their shadows before."

It must have been some great event was about to happen that April night
of 1863, for the Assistant Secretary of War was there, and General Grant
and General Sherman were there, waiting and watching in the greatest
suspense. What was going to happen? Some one hundred and fifty private
soldiers were going to perform a deed that should help make American
history. The success of a whole army and the capture of the best
fortified city on the American continent depended on the heroism of this
handful of private soldiers on this April night. No wonder the
government at Washington sat by the telegraph and anxiously awaited
every scrap of news sent from Grant's army before Vicksburg. He was to
open the Mississippi River. That very day, almost, the government at
Washington sent a letter urging General Grant to hurry. "In my opinion,"
telegraphed General Halleck for the President, "_this is the most
important operation of the war. To open the Mississippi River would be
better than the capture of forty Richmonds._"

General Grant realized the mighty things he had at stake.

But what availed it to collect his soldiers there? In front of him, in
high flood, swept the mightiest river on the continent; he had not a
boat to cross with, and the enemy laughed and dared him from the other
side. His fleet of steamboats was forty miles and more up the river, and
between him and that fleet were four miles of hostile batteries strong
enough to blow a fleet to pieces. In fact, every hill, hollow, and
secret place above and below the city hid a dozen cannon. All the way
from Vicksburg down to Warrentown was a fort.

What could be done? Without some steamers on which to cross, the game
was blocked, and Vicksburg, strong as Sebastopol itself, might stand
there forever and the Mississippi River be blockaded to the end of the
war. Two or three of Grant's ironclad gunboats had run past these awful
batteries one night, their sides banged to pieces and their iron mail
scooped up as if it had been made of putty. One of them was sunk. But
these iron tubs could not serve as ferryboats for forty thousand men.
Then, the scheme was proposed to cover some of the wooden steamboats
with cotton bales and on a dark night try and rush them past the
batteries. The boat captains, however, would not risk it with their own
crews, even had they as a rule been willing, and so the commands of the
army asked for _volunteers_ from the private soldiers. Desperate as the
undertaking seemed, one hundred and fifty Union soldiers stepped forward
and offered to run these steamboats past the guns. The writer was one of
these volunteers. But too many had offered to take the risk. The
required number was selected by lot, and the most I could do that
historic night was to stand on the river levee in the dark and watch my
comrades perform one of the most heroic acts of any war. It was hardly a
secret. The whole army was excited over the desperate proposal. The
enemy must have heard of it, and been doubly prepared to destroy us. "If
Grant's attempt prove successful he can destroy the whole Confederate
army, take Vicksburg, and open the Mississippi River." No wonder the
Washington officials sat by the telegraph day and night just then
awaiting great news.

The moon was down by ten o'clock of the night of April 16. Under the
starlight one hardly saw the dark river or the cane-brakes, swamps, and
lagoons along its border. The whole Northern fleet lay anchored in
silence. Grant's army too, down below, was silent and waiting. A few
miles below us lay Vicksburg, dark, sullen, and sleeping. Not a gun was
being fired. A few lonesome Confederate river guards floated above the
town in rowboats watching to give the alarm at the approach of any foe
on the water.

Three mysterious looking Northern steamboats, with crews of volunteer
soldiers on board, lay out in the middle of the Mississippi River in
front of Milliken's Bend, a dozen miles above Vicksburg. Down in the
dark hold of each vessel stand a dozen determined men. They have boards,
and pressed cotton, and piles of gunny sacks beside them there, to stop
up holes that shall be made pretty soon by the cannon of the enemy. They
have none of war's noise and excitement to keep them up--only its
suspense. They are helpless. If anything happens they will go to the
bottom of the river without a word. Above the decks the pilot-houses are
taken off and the pilot wheels are down by the bows, and the pilot will
stand there wholly exposed. Lashed to the sides of each of the three
little steamers are barges piled up with bales of hay and cotton. They
look like floating breastworks. Anchored still a little further down the
stream seven gunboats also wait in silence. They will lead these
steamboats and try the batteries first. The boats must all move two
hundred yards apart. That is the order.

All is suspense. For a little while the night grows darker and more
silent; the moon now is down. The thousands of soldiers standing on the
levee waiting, and watching to see them start, almost hold their
breath. At the boats there is no noise save the gurgling of the water as
it grinds past the hulls of the anchored vessels. That is all the noise
the men waiting down in the dimly lighted hulls can hear. On a little
tug, near by, General Grant, the commander of the Western armies, waits
and listens. The Assistant Secretary of War is at his side. In a yawl,
farther down the stream, General Sherman ventures far out on the dark
river to watch events. All is ready, all is suspense. Just then a
lantern on the levee is moved slowly up and down. It is the signal to
start. Down in Vicksburg the unexpectant enemy sleeps. Their guards out
on the river, too, almost sleep; all is so safe. Quietly we lift anchors
and float off with the current. Our wheels are not moving. There is a
great bend in the river, and as we round it the river guard wakened,
sends up a rocket, other rockets too go up all along the eastern or
Vicksburg shore. That instant, too, a gun is fired from a neighboring
bluff. We are discovered. "Put on all steam," calls the captain, and our
boats move swiftly into the maelstrom of sulphur and iron, for the enemy
opens fire vigorously. The enemy sets houses on fire all along the levee
to illuminate the river, bonfires are lighted everywhere, and suddenly
the whole night seems but one terrific roar of cannon. The burning
houses make the river almost as light as day. We see the people in the
streets of the town running and gesticulating as if all were mad; their
men at the batteries load and fire and yell as if every shot sunk a
steamboat. On the west side of the river the lagoons and cane-brakes
look weird and dangerous. The sky above is black, lighted only by sparks
from the burning houses. Down on the river it is a sheet of flame. One
of the steamers and a few of the barges have caught fire and are burning
up, the men escaping in life-boats and by swimming to the western shore.
The excitement of the moment is maddening, the heavy fire appalling,
while the musketry on the shore barks and bites at the unprotected
pilots on the boats. Ten-inch cannon and great columbiads hurl their
shot and shell into the cotton breastworks of the barges or through the
rigging of the steamers. The gunboats tremble from the impact of shot
against their sides, and at times the little steamers are caught in the
powerful eddies of the river and are whirled three times around right in
front of the hot firing batteries.

_Five hundred and twenty-five shells and cannonballs are hurled at the
hurrying fleet._ The flash of the guns, the light of the blazing houses,
make the night seem a horrible tempest of lightning and thunder.
Sherman, sitting out there alone in his yawl on the dark river, has
witnessed awful spectacles, but this is the sight of a lifetime. "It
was," he exclaimed, "_a picture of the terrible not often seen_." And
amid all this roar and thunder and lightning and crash of cannonballs
above, the men down in the holds of the boats--they are the real
heroes--stand in the dim candle-light waiting, helpless, ignorant of
events, and in terrible suspense, while sounds like the crash of worlds
go on above their heads. Once some of them climb up to the hatchways and
look out into the night. One look is enough! What a sight! The whole
Mississippi River seems on fire, the roar of the gunboats answering the
howling cannon on the shore, the terrific lightnings from the batteries,
the screeching shells above the decks. It was as if hell itself were
loose that night on the Mississippi River. For one hour and thirty
minutes the brave men stood speechless in the holds of the boats while
hell's hurricane went on above. They lived an age in that hour and a
half, and yet a thousand of us in Grant's army tried to volunteer that
we, too, might have this awful experience.

Daylight saw the little fleet safe below Vicksburg, where thousands of
soldiers welcomed it with cheers. No such deed had ever been done in the
world before. Only one boat and some barges were lost, and only a few
of the soldiers were hurt. The cotton bales had proved a miracle of
defense. In a week still other steamers, though with greater loss,
passed the batteries.

We know the rest. On these same boats Grant's army would ferry across
the Mississippi, and there on the other side fight five battles and win
them all. Vicksburg will be surrounded and assaulted and pounded and its
soldiers starved, till, on the nation's birthday, thirty thousand of its
brave defenders will lay down their arms forever.



CHAPTER VII

  Crossing the Mississippi on gunboats and steamers--Battle of Port
    Gibson--How General Grant looked to a private soldier--A boy from
    Mississippi--Fights at Raymond--Battle of Jackson in a
    thunderstorm--Digging his brothers' grave--Grant in battle--Saving a
    flag--How men feel in battle--An awful spectacle--The critical
    moment of General Grant's life--A battlefield letter from him to
    Sherman.


Now that the boats were below the city, we were to begin the Vicksburg
campaign in earnest. All the troops that had been left camped on the
river levee above at Milliken's Bend hurried by roundabout roads through
cane-brakes and swamps to the point where our little boats had anchored
after running past the batteries that night. Here we joined the rest of
the army, and the ferrying of thousands of soldiers across the great
river day and night at once commenced.

My own regiment was put on to one of the iron gunboats and ferried over
the Mississippi at a point close to Grand Gulf. Here our river navy had
silenced the Rebel forts. It was the first gunboat I had ever seen. Its
sides bore great scars, indentations made by the enemy's batteries on
the preceding day. We hurried on and became a part of the reserve at the
hot battle of Port Gibson, as we ourselves did no fighting. In a
plantation yard, close by my regiment, lay our wounded as they were
carried back from the front. It was a terrible sight. Many had been torn
by shrapnel and lay there on the grass in great agony. Some seemed with
their own hands to be trying to tear their mangled limbs from their
bodies. The possession of all Vicksburg did not seem worth the pain and
the agony I saw there that afternoon. That was war; and it was "hell,"
sure enough.

The next day, when the battle was over, I was at a negro cabin getting a
loaf of corn bread. I suddenly heard a little cheering down by the
river, where some men were putting down pontoons in place of the bridge
burned by the enemy. I went down at once, and as I stood by the river
bank I noticed an officer on horseback in full general's uniform.
Suddenly he dismounted and came over to the very spot where I was
standing. I did not know his face, but something told me it was
Grant,--Ulysses Grant,--at that moment the hero of the Western army.
Solid he stood, erect, about five feet eight in height, with square
features, thin, closed lips, brown hair, brown beard, both cut short,
and neat. "He must weigh one hundred and forty or fifty pounds. Looks
just like the soldier he is. I think he is larger than Napoleon, but not
much; he is not so dumpy, his legs are not so short, and his neck is not
so short and thick. He looks like a man in earnest, and the Rebels think
he is one."

This was the first time I saw Grant. I think I still possess some of the
feeling that came over me at that moment as I stood so near to one who
held our lives, and possibly his country's life, in his hands. How
little I dreamed that some day I would have the great honor of sitting
beside him at my own table. Yet this occurred.

Now he spoke, "Men, push right along; close up fast, and hurry over."
Two or three men on mules attempted to wedge past the soldiers on the
bridge. Grant noticed it, and quietly said, "Lieutenant, arrest those
men and send them to the rear." Every soldier passing turned to gaze on
him. But there was no further recognition. There was no McClellan
begging the boys to allow him to light his cigar by theirs; no inquiring
to what regiment that exceedingly fine marching company belonged; there
was no Pope bullying the men for not marching faster, reproving officers
for neglecting trivial details remembered only by martinets; there was
no Bonaparte posturing for effect; no pointing to the pyramids, no
calling the centuries to witness. There was no nonsense, no sentiment.
Only a plain business man of the republic there for the one single
purpose of getting that army across the river in the shortest time
possible. In short, it was just plain General Grant, as he appeared on
his way to Vicksburg. On a horse near by, and among the still mounted
staff, sat the General's son, a bright-looking lad of perhaps eleven
years. Fastened to his little waist by a broad yellow belt was his
father's sword--that sword on whose clear steel was yet to be engraved
"Vicksburg," "Spotsylvania," "The Wilderness," "Appomattox." The boy
talked and jested with the bronzed soldiers near him, who laughingly
inquired where we should camp that night; to which the young field
marshal replied, "Oh, over the river."

"Over the river!" Ah, that night we slept with our guns in our hands,
and another night, and another, saw more than one of our division, and
of my own regiment, camped over the river--in that last tenting
ground--where the réveille was heard no more forever.

My own command crossed the bridge that night by torchlight. It was a
strange weird scene. Many of the Rebel dead--killed beyond the stream by
our cannon before our approach--still lay at the roadside or in fields
unburied. At one turn in the road my regiment marched close by a Rebel
battery that had been completely destroyed. Men, horses, and all lay
there dead in indiscriminate heaps. The face of one boy lying there
among the horses I shall never forget. It was daylight now, the bright
sun was just rising, when I left the ranks a moment to step aside to see
that boy. He was lying on his back. His face was young and fair, his
beautiful brown hair curled almost in ringlets, and his eyes, brown and
beautiful, were wide open; his hands were across his breast. A
cannonball had in an instant cut away the top of his head in as straight
a line as if it had been done with a surgeon's saw. There had been no
time for agony or pain. The boy's lips were almost in a smile. It was a
Mississippi battery that had been torn to pieces there, and it may be
that in a home near by a mother stood that morning praying for her boy.
The South had such war costs as well as the North.

My regiment now entered on all those rapid marches and battles in the
rear of Vicksburg--Raymond, Jackson, Champion Hills, and the assaults on
the breastworks about the city. For days we scarcely slept at all; it
was hurry here and quickstep there, day or night. None of us soldiers or
subordinates could tell the direction we were marching. We had few
rations, little water, and almost no rest. We had left our base at the
river, and in a large sense we were cut off and surrounded all the time.
The capture of a Rebel scout at once changed everything. Through him
Grant learned how hurrying divisions of the enemy were about to unite. A
quick move could checkmate everything. Indeed, it was nothing but a
great game of chess that was being played, only we, the moving pieces,
had blood and life. At one time Grant's army was as likely to be
captured as to capture. My regiment, like all the others, hurried along
the country roads through dust that came to the shoe top. The atmosphere
was yellow with it. The moving of a column far away could be traced by
it. We followed it in the way that Joshua's army followed the mighty
cloud. As we passed farms where there was something to eat the captains
would call out to a dozen men of the line to hurry in, carry off all
they could, and pass it over to the companies still marching. It was a
singular looking army. So whole regiments tramped along with sides of
bacon or sheaves of oats on the points of their bayonets. We dared not
halt. When we bivouacked, long after dark, often it was the dust of the
roadside. We always lay upon our arms. Sometimes there was a little
fire, oftener there was none. The fat bacon was eaten raw.

My regiment was in advance at the engagement at Raymond; also at
Jackson. At Jackson it rained and thundered fearfully during the battle.
A Rebel battery was on a green slope right in front of us, pouring a
terrible shelling into us as we approached it from the Raymond road. The
shocks of thunder so intermingled with the shocks from the guns that we
could not tell the one from the other, and many times a sudden crash of
thunder caused us all to drop to the ground, fearing a cannonball would
cut its swath through the regiment. We were marching in columns of
fours. Shortly, we formed line of battle, and in rushing to the left
through a great cane-brake, while we were advancing in battle line under
a fire of musketry, the order was given to lie down.

We obeyed quickly. How closely, too, we hugged the ground and the
depression made by a little brook! While I lay there it happened that my
major (Marshall) was close behind me on horseback. He had no orders to
dismount. I could glance back and see his face as the bullets zipped
over our heads or past him. He sat on his horse as quiet as a statue,
save that with his right hand he constantly twisted his mustache. He
looked straight into the cane-brake. He was a brave man. Could the enemy
behind the forests of cane have seen where they were firing he would not
have lived a minute. Shortly there was roaring of cannon and quick
charges at the other side of the town. Jackson was won.

At daylight the next morning we hurried in the direction of Champion
Hills. At our left, as we went down the road, the battlefield of the day
before was strewn with corpses of our own men. In a few minutes the
brave Seventeenth Regiment of Iowa had lost 80 men at this spot, out of
350 engaged in an assault. My friend Captain Walden received honorable
mention, among others, for gallantry in this Jackson charge. A few
hundred yards off I noticed a man in a field quite alone, digging in the
ground. Out of curiosity I went to him and asked what he was doing alone
when the regiments were all hurrying away. A brown blanket covered
something near by. He pointed to it and said that two of his brothers
lay dead under that blanket. He was digging a grave for them. He went on
with his work and I hurried to overtake my command. This was the 15th of
May, 1863. I did not know it then, but shortly I was to see General
Grant in the midst of battle. I was to see several other things, and
feel some of them also.

My situation as to the Fifth Regiment was a peculiar one; being the
quartermaster sergeant, I belonged to no company in particular. The
good colonel, however, knowing my love for adventure, and that I was
never lacking in duty, allowed me to attach myself to any company I
liked, provided only, that there was a reliable substitute performing my
duties with the train at the rear. I had no trouble in securing such a
substitute, usually found among the slightly wounded soldiers.

Since we crossed the Mississippi I had marched and carried my rifle all
the way,--had been in every skirmish and engagement. Sometimes I tramped
along with my old Company B of Newton, sometimes I went with the extreme
left of the regiment. I was no more heroic than all the others in the
command, but I was fond of the risk and the excitement of battle. I
would have resigned my warrant as quartermaster sergeant in a moment
rather than miss a hard march or an engagement, let the chance be what
it might. I think my love of adventure, and my seeking it so often away
from my proper post of duty at the rear, was often the occasion of
amused comment. Once when marching at the left I heard our surgeon,
Carpenter, cry out to another officer riding beside him: "There's a
fight to-day. Look out. The sign's sure. The quartermaster sergeant has
got his gun."

None of us private soldiers now really knew in what direction we were
marching. We heard only that the enemy was concentrating at Edwards
Ferry Station, between us and Big Black River. General Crocker of my
State was now leading our division, and the magnificent General
McPherson commanded the army corps. The night of May 15 the division
bivouacked in the woods by the side of a road that leads from Bolton
toward Vicksburg. We marched hard and late that day. The morning of the
16th my regiment was up and getting breakfast long before daylight. The
breakfast consisted of some wet dough cooked on the ends of ramrods;
nothing more.

Troops were hurrying past our bivouac by daylight. Once I went out to
the roadside to look about a bit. It was scarcely more than early
daylight, yet cannon could occasionally be heard in the far distance,
something like low thunder. As I stood there watching some batteries
hurrying along I noticed a general and his staff gallop through the
woods, parallel with the road. They were leaping logs, brush, or
whatever came in their way. It was General Grant, hurrying to the front.
Shortly came the orders, "Fall in!" and we too were hurrying along that
road toward Champion Hills. By ten o'clock the sound of the cannon fell
thundering on our ears, and we hurried all we could, as riders came back
saying the battle had already begun. As we approached the field the
sound of great salvos of musketry told us the hour had surely come. The
sound was indeed terrible.

At the left of the road we passed a pond of dirty water. All who could
broke ranks and filled canteens, knowing that in the heat of the fight
we would need the water terribly. I not only filled my canteen, I filled
my stomach with the yellow fluid, in order to save that in the canteen
for a critical moment. Just then there was in front of us a terrific
crashing, not like musketry, but more like the falling down of a
thousand trees at once. Our brigade, a small one, was hurried into line
of battle at the edge of an open field that sloped down a little in
front of us and then up to a wood-covered ridge. That wood was full of
the Rebel army. Fighting was going on to the right and left of us, and
bullets flew into our own line, wounding some of us as we stood there
waiting. There was an old well and curb at the immediate right of my
regiment, and many of our boys were climbing over each other to get a
drop of water. Soon the bullets came faster, zipping, zipping among us,
thicker and thicker. We must have been in full view of the enemy as we
stood there, not firing a shot. Our line stood still in terrible
suspense, not knowing why we were put under fire without directions to
shoot. Zip! zip! zip! came the Rebel bullets, and now and then a boy in
blue would groan, strike his hand to a wounded limb or arm, drop his gun
and fall to the rear; or perhaps he fell in his tracks dead, without
uttering a word. We too, who saw it, uttered no word, but watched
steadily, anxiously at the front.

Then General Grant himself rode up behind us, and so close to the spot
where I stood, that I could have heard his voice. He leaned against his
little bay horse, had the inevitable cigar in his mouth, and was calm as
a statue. Possibly smoking so much tranquillized his nerves a little and
aided in producing calmness. Still, Grant was calm everywhere; but he
also smoked everywhere. Be that as it may, it required very solid
courage to stand there quietly behind that line at that moment. For my
own part, I was in no agreeable state of mind. In short, I might be
killed there at any moment, I thought, and I confess to having been
nervous and alarmed. Every man in the line near me was looking serious,
though determined. We had no reckless fools near us, whooping for blood.
Once a badly wounded man was carried by the litter-bearers--the drummers
of my regiment--close to the spot where the General stood. He gave a
pitying glance at the man, I thought,--I was not twenty feet away,--but
he neither spoke nor stirred. Then I heard an officer say, "We are going
to charge." It seems that our troops in front of us in the woods had
been sadly repulsed, and now our division was to rush in and fight in
their stead, and the commander-in-chief was there to witness our
assault. Two or three of us, near each other, expressed dissatisfaction
that the commander of an army in battle should expose himself, as
General Grant was doing at that moment. When staff officers came up to
him, he gave orders in low tones, and they would ride away. One of them,
listening to him, glanced over our heads toward the Rebels awhile,
looked very grave, and gave some mysterious nods. The colonel who was
about to lead us also came to the General's side a moment. He, too,
listened, looked, and gave some mysterious nods. Something was about to
happen.

"My time has probably come now," I said to myself, and with a little bit
of disgust I thought of the utter uselessness of being killed there
without even firing a shot in self-defense. The suspense, the anxiety,
was indeed becoming fearfully intense. Soon General Grant quietly
climbed upon his horse, looked at us once, and as quietly rode away.
Then the colonel came along the line with a word to each officer. As he
came near me he called me from the ranks and said: "I want you to act
as sergeant-major of the regiment in this battle." I was surprised, but
indeed very proud of this mark of confidence in me. "Hurry to the left,"
he continued. "Order the men to fix bayonets--quick!" I ran as told,
shouting at the top of my voice, "Fix bayonets! fix bayonets!" I was not
quite to the left, when I heard other voices yelling, "Forward! quick!
double quick! forward!" and the line was already on the run toward the
Rebels. I kept up my shouting, "Fix bayonets!" for by some blunder the
order had not been given in time, and now the men were trying to get
their bayonets in place while running. We were met in a minute by a
storm of bullets from the wood, but the lines in blue kept steadily on,
as would a storm of wind and cloud moving among the tree-tops. Now we
met almost whole companies of wounded, defeated men from the other
division, hurrying by us, and they held up their bleeding and mangled
hands to show us they had not been cowards. They had lost twelve hundred
men on the spot we were about to occupy. Some of them were laughing
even, and yelling at us: "Wade in and give them hell." We were wading in
faster than I am telling the story.

On the edge of a low ridge we saw a solid wall of men in gray, their
muskets at their shoulders blazing into our faces and their batteries
of artillery roaring as if it were the end of the world. Bravely they
stood there. They seemed little over a hundred yards away. There was no
charging further by our line. We halted, the two lines stood still, and
for over an hour we loaded our guns and killed each other as fast as we
could. The firing and the noise were simply appalling. Now, I was not
scared. The first shot I fired seemed to take all my fear away and gave
me courage enough to calmly load my musket at the muzzle and fire it
forty times. Others, with more cartridges, fired possibly oftener still.
Some of the regiments in that bloody line were resupplied with
cartridges from the boxes of the dead. In a moment I saw Captain Lindsey
throw up his arms, spring upward and fall dead in his tracks. Corporal
McCully was struck in the face by a shell. The blood covered him all
over, but he kept on firing. Lieutenant Darling dropped dead, and other
officers near me fell wounded.

I could not see far to left or right, the smoke of battle was covering
everything. I saw bodies of our men lying near me without knowing who
they were, though some of them were my messmates in the morning. The
Rebels in front we could not see at all. We simply fired at their lines
by guess, and occasionally the blaze of their guns showed exactly where
they stood. They kept their line like a wall of fire. When I fired my
first shot I had resolved to aim at somebody or something as long as I
could see, and a dozen times I tried to bring down an officer I dimly
saw on a gray horse before me. Pretty soon a musket ball struck me fair
in the breast. "I am dead, now," I said, almost aloud. It felt as if
someone had struck me with a club. I stepped back a few paces and sat
down on a log to finish up with the world. Other wounded men were there,
covered with blood, and some were lying by me dead. I spoke to no one.
It would have been useless; thunder could scarcely have been heard at
that moment. My emotions I have almost forgotten. I remember only that
something said to me, "It is honorable to die so." I had not a thought
of friends, or of home, or of religion. The stupendous things going on
around me filled my mind. On getting my breath a little I found I was
not hurt at all,--simply stunned; the obliquely-fired bullet had struck
the heavy leather of my cartridge belt and glanced away. I picked up my
gun, stepped back into the line of battle, and in a moment was shot
through the hand. The wound did not hurt; I was too excited for that.

The awful roar of battle now grew more terrific, if possible. I wonder
that a man on either side was left alive. Biting the ends off my
cartridges, my mouth was filled with gunpowder; the thirst was
intolerable. Every soldier's face was black as a negro's, and, with
some, blood from wounds trickled down over the blackness, giving them a
horrible look. Once a boy from another part of the line to our left ran
up to me crying out: "My regiment is gone! what shall I do?"

There was now a little moment's lull in the howling noise; something was
going on. "Blaze away right here," I said to the boy, and he commenced
firing like a veteran. Then I heard one of our own line cry, "My God,
they're flanking us!" I looked to where the boy had come from. His
regiment had indeed given way. The Rebels had poured through the gap and
were already firing into our rear and yelling to us to surrender. In a
moment we would be surrounded. It was surrender or try to get back past
them. I ran like a racehorse,--so did the left of the regiment, amid a
storm of bullets and yells and curses. I saved my musket, anyway. I
think all did that,--but that half-mile race through a hot Mississippi
sun, with bullets and cannonballs plowing the fields behind us, will
never be forgotten. My lungs seemed to be burning up. Once I saw our
regimental flag lying by a log, the color-bearer wounded or dead. I
cried to a comrade flying near me, "Duncan Teter, it is a shame--the
Fifth Iowa running."

Only the day before Teter had been reduced to the ranks for some offense
or another. He picked up the flag and with a great oath dared me to stop
and defend it. For a moment we two tried to rally to the flag the men
who were running by. We might as well have yelled to a Kansas cyclone.
Then Captain John Tait, rushing by, saw us, stopped, and, recognizing
the brave deed of Corporal Teter, promoted him on the spot. But the
oncoming storm was irresistible, and, carrying the flag, we all again
hurried rearward. We had scarcely passed the spot where I had seen Grant
mount his horse before the charge when a whole line of Union cannon,
loaded to the muzzle with grape-shot and canister, opened on the howling
mob that was pursuing us. The Rebels instantly halted, and now again it
seemed our turn. A few minutes rest for breath and our re-formed lines
once more dashed into the woods. In half an hour the battle of Champion
Hills was won, and the victorious Union army was shortly in a position
to compel the surrender of the key to the Mississippi River. Grant's
crown of immortality was won, and the jewel that shone most brightly in
it was set there by the blood of the men of Champion Hills. Had that
important battle failed, Grant's army, not Pemberton's, would have
become prisoners of war. Where then would have been Vicksburg,
Spotsylvania, Richmond, Appomattox?

Six thousand blue- and gray-coated men were lying there in the woods,
dead or wounded, when the last gun of Champion Hills was fired. Some of
the trees on the battlefield were tall magnolias, and many of their
limbs were shot away. The trees were in full bloom, their beautiful
blossoms contrasting with the horrible scene of battle. Besides killing
and wounding three thousand of the enemy, we had also captured thirty
cannon and three thousand prisoners.

When the troops went off into the road to start in pursuit of the flying
enemy, I searched over the battlefield for my best friend, poor Captain
Poag, with whom I had talked of our Northern homes only the night
before. He lay dead among the leaves, a bullet hole in his forehead.
Somebody buried him, but I never saw his grave. Another friend I found
dying. He begged me only to place him against a tree, and with leaves to
shut the burning sun away from his face. While I was doing this I heard
the groaning of a Rebel officer, who lay helpless in a little ditch. He
called to me to lift him out, as he was shot through both thighs, and
suffering terribly. "Yes," I said, "as soon as I get my friend here
arranged a little comfortably." His reply was pathetic. "Yes, that's
right; help your own first." I had not meant it so. I instantly got to
him and, with the aid of a comrade, pulled him out of the ditch. He
thanked me and told me he was a lieutenant colonel, and had been shot
while riding in front of the spot where he lay. I eased his position as
best I could, but all that night, with many another wounded soldier,
blue and gray, he was left on the desolate battlefield.

Now I realized how terrible the fire had been about us,--for some
comrades counted two hundred bullet marks on a single oak tree within a
few feet of where the left of the regiment had stood loading and firing
that awful hour and a half. Most of the bullets had been fired too high,
else we had all been killed. Near by lay the remains of a Rebel battery.
Every horse and most of the cannoneers lay dead in a heap, the caissons
and the gun carriages torn to pieces by our artillery. Never in any
battle had I seen such a picture of complete annihilation of men,
animals, and material as was the wreck of this battery, once the pride
of some Southern town--its young men, the loved ones of Southern homes,
lying there dead among their horses. That was war!

Some weeks after this battle, and after Vicksburg had been won, my
regiment was marched in pursuit of Joe Johnston, and we recrossed this
same battlefield. We reached it in the night and bivouacked on the very
spot where we had fought. It was a strange happening. Our sensations
were very unusual, for we realized that all about us there in the woods
were the graves of our buried comrades and the still unburied bones of
many of our foes. Save an occasional hooting owl the woods were sad and
silent. Before we lay down in the leaves to sleep the glee club of
Company B sang that plaintive song, "We're Tenting To-night on the Old
Camp Ground." Never was a song sung under sadder circumstances. All the
night a terrible odor filled the bivouac. When daylight came one of the
boys came to our company and said, "Go over to that hollow, and you will
see hell." Some of us went. We looked but once. Dante himself never
conjured anything so horrible as the reality before us. After the battle
the Rebels in their haste had tossed hundreds of their dead into this
little ravine and slightly covered them over with earth, but the rains
had come, and the earth was washed away, and there stood or lay hundreds
of half-decayed corpses. Some were grinning skeletons, some were
headless, some armless, some had their clothes torn away, and some were
mangled by dogs and wolves. The horror of that spectacle followed us
for weeks. That, too, was war!

I have written this random but true sketch of personal recollections of
a severe battle because it may help young men who are anxious for
adventure and war, as I was, to first realize what war really is. My
experiences probably were the same as hundreds of others in that same
battle. I only tell of what was nearest me. A third of my comrades who
entered this fight were lost. Other Iowa and other Western regiments
suffered equally or more. General Hovey's division had a third of its
number slain. I have been in what history pronounces greater battles
than Champion Hills, but only once did I ever see two lines of blue and
gray stand close together and fire into each other's faces for an hour
and a half. I think the courage of the private soldiers, standing in
that line of fire for that awful hour and a half, gave us Vicksburg,
made Grant immortal as a soldier, and helped to save this country.

But I must return to that afternoon of the battle. All that could be
assembled of our men gathered in line in a road near the field. It was
nearly dark. Sergeant Campbell walked about, making a list of the dead
and wounded of Company B. As I was not now on the company rolls, being
quartermaster sergeant, my name was not put down as one of the wounded.
Nor, seeing how many were sadly torn to pieces, did I think my wound
worth reporting. Shortly General Grant passed us in the road. Knowing
well how the regiment had fought in the battle, he rode to where our
colors hung over a stack of muskets and saluted them. We all jumped to
our feet and cheered. He spoke a few words to the colonel and rode on
into the darkness. That night we marched ahead, and in the morning
bivouacked in the woods as a reserve for troops fighting at the Black
River bridge. _There it was that Grant reached the crisis of his
career._ While sitting on his horse waiting to witness a charge by
Lawler's brigade, a staff officer overtook him, bringing a peremptory
order from Washington to _abandon the campaign_ and take his army to
Port Hudson to help General Banks. That moment Grant glanced to the
right of his lines and saw a dashing officer in his shirt sleeves
suddenly come out of a cluster of woods, leading his brigade to the
assault. It was General Lawler, and in five minutes the Rebel
breastworks were carried, the enemy in flight or drowning in the rapid
river. Then Grant turned to the staff officer and simply said, "_See
that charge! I think it is too late to abandon this campaign._" The
movements that were to make him immortal went on. Had that order of
Halleck's, written of course without knowledge of the recent victories,
been followed, Banks, and not Grant, would have been first commander in
the West. Had Lawler's charge failed just then and the battle been lost,
Grant could have had no excuse for not obeying the order that staff
officer held in his hand, directing him to abandon what turned out to be
one of the great campaigns of history. While sitting there in his saddle
at the close of that charge, General Grant wrote a little note in
pencil, the original of which is among my treasured souvenirs of the
war:

    "DEAR GENERAL: Lawler's brigade stormed the enemy's works a few
    minutes since; carried them, capturing from two thousand to three
    thousand prisoners, ten guns, so far as heard from, and probably
    more will be found. The enemy have fired both bridges. A. J. Smith
    captured ten guns this morning, with teams, men, and ammunition. I
    send you a note from Colonel Wright.

    "Yours,
    "U. S. GRANT, M. G.

    "TO MAJOR GENERAL SHERMAN."



CHAPTER VIII

  Assaults on the walls of Vicksburg--Logan in battle--An army mule--A
    promotion under the guns of Vicksburg--A storm of iron hail at
    Vicksburg--The Vicksburg clock--The town surrenders--The glad
    news--Reading my first order to the regiment--My regiment put on
    guard in the captured city--Eight days' furlough in four years of
    war.


The next morning (the 18th) my regiment crossed the pontoon bridge over
the Big Black and marched eight miles further toward Vicksburg. Now we
knew we were getting close to the Richmond of the West. As we crossed
the Black River we gazed with curiosity at the half-burned bridge from
which so many unfortunates had been hurled into the water by our
artillery the day before. After Lawler's charge thousands had tried to
get over the stream by the trestle-work and bridge, or by swimming.
General Osterhaus, seeing the fugitives from a high point where he
stood, cried out to his batteries: "Now, men, is the time to give them
hell." Twenty cannon instantly hurled their iron missiles at the bridge,
and the flying soldiers fell to the ground or into the foaming river,
almost by hundreds. "Lost at Black River," was the only message that
ever reached the home of many a Southern soldier of that day.

On the 19th, at two o'clock, a terrible assault was made by the army on
the walls of Vicksburg. My own regiment, still in McPherson's corps, lay
close to the Jackson wagon road and under a tremendous thundering of the
enemy's artillery. We suffered little, however. Once I was ordered to
help some men build sheds of brush for the wounded. This was in a ravine
behind us. In an hour the work was done, and as I crept up the slope to
get forward to my regiment again I heard the loud voice of some officer
on horseback. It was General John A. Logan. The enemy's artillery was
sweeping the field at this point, but I could still hear Logan's voice
above the battle, cheering a number of soldiers that were near. "We have
taken this fort and we have taken that," he cried in tones that were
simply stentorian. "We are giving them hell everywhere." He was in full
uniform, his long black hair swept his shoulders, his eyes flashed fire,
he seemed the incarnation of the reckless, fearless soldier. He must
have thought cannonballs would not hurt him. For five minutes, perhaps,
I stood in a little dip in the ground, comparatively protected, while
he rode up and down under a storm of cannonballs, calling at the top of
his warrior's voice. I expected every moment to see him drop from his
horse, but nothing happened, and I went on to the line where all our men
were closely hugging the ground. Soon I, too, was stretched on the
ground, making myself as thin as I could.

On the 20th we advanced still closer to the frowning works. It was only
a thousand yards to the forts of Vicksburg. We moved up in the darkness
that night. I think no one knew how close we were being taken to the
enemy. We lay down in line of battle and in the night our line was moved
a little. When daylight came my regiment was no little astonished to
find that we were on an open place in full view of the enemy. A comrade
and I rose from the ground and commenced our toilet, by pouring water
into each other's hands from our canteens. Almost at that moment the
Rebels had caught sight of our men lying there in long lines so close to
them, and instantly commenced throwing shells at us. My friend and I
left our morning toilet uncompleted and, seizing our rifles, we all
stood in line waiting. We could see the flags of the enemy above the
forts distinctly. With a glass the gunners could be seen at their guns,
hurling shot and shell at us. We were in a perilous and helpless
position. We were also very tired and hungry, for we had had nothing
whatever to eat. But here we stayed, and by the next morning our
skirmishers had advanced so close to the Vicksburg forts that the Rebel
gunners could reach us but little. Our gunboats too, down in the river
now commenced hurling mighty bombs and balls into the city.

On the morning of the 22d of May all the batteries of the army and the
big guns of the river fleet bombarded the city for an hour, and under
the fog and the smoke of the battle the infantry advanced to assault the
works. It was a perilous undertaking. The day was fearfully hot; the
forts, ten feet high, were many and powerful; the ditches in front of
them were seven feet deep. That made seventeen feet to climb in the face
of musketry. In battle line, my regiment ran down into the ravines in
front and then up the opposite slope to the smoking breastwork.

The colonel had ordered me to fasten two ammunition boxes across a mule
and follow the regiment into the assault. I was to lead my mule. A
soldier with a bush was to beat him from behind, so as to hurry him over
an exposed bit of ground at our front. The moment my mule appeared in
full sight of the enemy the bullets commenced whizzing past us. The
mule, true to his ancestral instinct, commenced pulling backward.
Yelling and pounding and pulling helped none at all. Two or three
bullets struck the boxes on his back, and before we had pulled him half
across he braced himself, held his ears back, and stood stock still.
That moment the bridle came off. My assistant dodged back to our rifle
pit and I hurried down to the ravine in front. The mule, too, as luck
would have it, also ran now,--ran down into the ravine beside me, right
where he was wanted. I tied him to a little bush and, awful as the
situation about me was, I almost laughed to see the antics of that
animal's ears as the bullets whizzed past him.

My regiment was all lying against the hill close up to the fort. In
front of them was the ditch seven feet deep, beyond them an armed fort
ten feet high, emitting a constant blaze of cannon and musketry. The sun
was broiling hot. I crept along the line of the regiment and gave
ammunition to every company; then I crept back a little to where my mule
was still alive and his ears still at their antics. Lying there in the
line beside the boys, roasting in the sun and suffering from the
musketry in front, was our brave Colonel Boomer, leading the brigade. He
asked me once what I was doing, and, when I told him, he gave me some
compliments in a kind, but sad, low tone. Now I saw a company of men
creep by me, dragging little ladders in their hands. They were to make a
rush and throw these ladders across the ditch of the forts for the
assaulters to cross on. They were all volunteers for a work that seemed
sure death. I looked in each hero's face as he passed me, knowing almost
that he would be dead in a few minutes. Scarcely a dozen of them
returned alive. My regiment, with the rest of the assaulters, was simply
being shot to pieces without a hope of getting into the forts. We fell
back under the smoke of the battle as best we could, only to be led into
an assault at another point. McClernand had sent Grant word that he had
taken a fort on our left. He wanted help to hold it.

Our division, now led by Quimby, was double quicked to the next place of
assault. I saved my mule. Again I strapped two ammunition boxes over his
back and followed the regiment. This time I did not risk my mule so
close in the battle, but took all the cartridges I could carry in my
arms and went to the left of the regiment. Once I saw a body lying on
the grass by me, with a handkerchief over the face. I went up and
looked. It was our own Colonel Boomer, who had spoken so kindly to me in
the morning. A useless charge had already been made by the brigade and
he, with many brave men, was dead. Some of my own company lay dead there
too. One of them had come from Iowa and joined his brother in the
company that very morning. All the assaulting of the 22d of May and all
the sacrifice of life had been for nothing. Vicksburg was not taken.

Now commenced the regular siege of the city. We hid ourselves behind
ridges, in hollows, and in holes in the ground, as best we could.
Communication with our gunboats on the Yazoo was opened, and we had
plenty to eat and ammunition enough to bombard a dozen cities. Then the
bombardment commenced indeed, and lasted to the end, forty-four days. We
often threw three hundred cannonballs and shells a day into the city.
The whole Rebel army was also hidden in holes and hollows. All the
people of Vicksburg lived in caves at the sides of the hills or along
the bluffs of the river. Their homes now were like swallows' nests, with
small entrances in the face of hills and bluffs and big, dug-out
chambers inside. It was a strange life. With the eternal hail of cannon
over them day and night, and starvation a familiar figure to them, it
must have been a horrible one.

Now we advanced our rifle pits and trenches and mines close up to the
Rebel forts, though our main lines lay in the ravines and on the ridge
a few hundred feet farther back. As for me, when not looking after the
ammunition, a trifling duty now, I was in the trenches with the others.

One morning when out there at the front among our riflemen, who were
forever blazing day and night at every Rebel fort and rifle pit, I
noticed our good Colonel Matthies creeping along the trench to where I
was. He had a package of brown paper in his hand. Imagine my surprise
and pride to have him come to me and say: "Sergeant, this officer's sash
is yours." Then he announced my appointment as adjutant of the regiment.
He had been made a general now, and would soon leave for his new
command. This sash was one that he had worn and honored on many a
battlefield. Is it any wonder that now, after the long and perilous
years, it is preserved by me as a souvenir of honor? Soon after, I went
to a sutler's store on the Yazoo River to buy a sword and uniform. In
those days swords were not given to officers by committees in dress
coats, until they had been earned. This little trip to get my sword
almost cost me my life. My path to the river, six miles away, lay partly
along a ridge and partly close to an empty Rebel fort. This fort showed
scarcely any signs of having ever been used. I stayed all night with
the sutler, whom I knew very well, and at noon on a hot day started, on
my big yellow government horse, to go back to my regiment. My sword was
buckled on me and my new uniform was tied in a bundle on my saddle-bow.
It was too hot to ride fast, and my horse almost slept as he slowly
carried me close by the seemingly abandoned fort. Suddenly there was a
crash and a whole volley of musketry rattled about my ears. My poor
horse fell dead. It was a quick awakening, but I managed to pull my
bundle from the saddle-bow and to escape into a ravine where our own
troops lay. There I learned that the fort had been occupied by the
Rebels in the night, while I was with the sutler. It was a close call
for me. One of the boys declared he could save my saddle and bridle.
"Take them as a present," I said, "if you can get them." He crept up to
where my dead horse lay, and as he rose to his feet to undo the saddle
another volley from the fort hastened him to the ravine. I laughed. "If
your saddle and bridle were made of gold and silver," he shouted at me
as he ran back, "I wouldn't try it again."

Slowly and without perceptible advance the siege went on. The little
battery that my regiment had saved at Iuka was still with us and behind
some breastworks at our immediate right. It was no uncommon thing to
see even Grant himself come along and stop and watch Captain Sears' guns
knock the dirt up from some fort in front of us. One day this battery
wounded a man who was running between two Rebel breastworks. The enemy
tried to secure his body, but every soul that showed himself for an
instant was shot by our riflemen. For half an hour this shooting over
one poor man's body was kept up, until it seemed that a battle was
taking place.

Now our lines were so close together that our pickets often had a cup of
coffee or a chew of tobacco with the Rebel pickets at night. Drummer
Bain, of my company, had a brother among the soldiers inside Vicksburg.
One night he met him at the picket line, and together they walked all
through the beleagured town. But such things were dangerous business and
had to be kept very quiet. The weather was now very warm and fine, some
of the nights clear moonlight, and when the guns had stopped their
roaring many a time in the quiet night we heard the bell clock on the
Vicksburg Court House measuring out the hours. It is said that this
clock never stopped for an instant in all the siege, nor under the
hundred cannon that rained iron hail into the town. At night, too, the
big mortars from our fleet some miles from us tossed mighty bombs into
the air, that sailed like blazing comets and fell at last among the
people hidden in their caves.

One day Governor Kirkwood of Iowa visited our regiment and made a speech
to us in a hollow back of our line. We cheered, and the Rebels, hearing
us and knowing we must be assembled in masses, hurled a hundred
cannonballs and shells over our heads, yet I think few were hurt. This
was the 3d of June. Every night that we lay there on the line we went to
sleep fearing to be waked by an attack from the army of Rebels under
Johnston, now assembled at our rear. This was the force we most feared,
not the army we had penned up in Vicksburg. Nevertheless, the batteries
in front of us gave us enough to do to prevent any ennui on our part. On
the 15th of June the enemy got one big gun in a position to rake from
our left the ravine in which my regiment was lying. We all stuck close
to our little caves on the ridge side, and few got hurt. In the meantime
we were working day and night putting more breastworks in front of us,
though we were now but four hundred yards away from the Rebel lines.
Here, as many times elsewhere, I copy from my diary. "Last night, the
16th, the major of our regiment, Marshall, took two hundred men and
worked all night digging new ditches and building breastworks. It was
rainy and muddy. The Rebels heard us at the work and in the darkness
slipped up and captured a few men. Some of the enemy, however, also got
taken in. This is the kind of work that is going on every night until
daybreak, and then we fire bullets all the day into the enemy's lines,
to prevent their repairing their forts. The cannonading and the rifle
shooting never cease. The roar is simply incessant, and yet when off
duty we sleep like newborn babes.

"All the region we are in is hills and ravines, brush and cane-brake,
with here and there a little cotton field. Nature defends Vicksburg more
than a dozen armies could. She has built scores of positions around the
town strong as anything at Sevastapol."

The rumors kept coming of a purposed attack on our rear. On the 20th of
June, at four o'clock in the morning, all the cannon on Grant's lines
and all the cannon on the gunboats opened fire on the town and thundered
at it for six mortal hours. They must have been awful hours for the
people inside. No such cannonading ever took place on the continent
before or since. We private soldiers did not know the exact object of
this fearful bombardment. The Rebels probably lay in battle line,
expecting an assault, and must have suffered greatly.

In the night of the 22d of June, at midnight, rumors again came of a
great Rebel army marching on our rear. It was a beautiful moonlight
night, and my regiment, together with whole divisions of the army,
received orders to hurry back toward Black River, where cavalry
skirmishing had taken place. No battle came on, but for two days we lay
in line of battle, or else built breastworks for defense.

On the 3d of July, as we were bivouacked in a little wood, news came
that the whole Rebel army in Vicksburg had prepared to surrender the
next day, the Nation's jubilee day. Instantly the regiment was ordered
to fall in. I had no little pride in reading to the men the dispatch
from General Grant announcing the great news. It was the first order I
had ever read to the regiment as its adjutant, and its great importance
gratified me much. The whole command acted as if they were drunken or
had suddenly lost their minds. Privates and officers shook hands and
laughed and wept, while majors and colonels turned somersaults on the
grass. It was indeed a great moment to us all. Twenty-seven thousand
men, with twenty-four generals and one hundred and eighty cannon, was a
great capture. We all knew we had made history on that day.

Now the whole Rebel army passed out along the roads where we lay. I sat
on a rail fence near our bivouac and watched the host go by. The
officers all looked depressed, but the soldiers seemed glad the suspense
and danger were over and that now they could have enough to eat. Our
regiment freely divided with them all we had.

"After a few days pursuit of Johnston's army at our rear (now suddenly
our front), my regiment is ordered into Vicksburg. We pass in over the
breastworks that had been so terrible to us a few days before. Looking
at them, I wonder at our hardihood in assaulting them. It would be hard
to climb through these ditches and into these forts even were no cannon
and no deadly muskets behind them.

"My regiment is put on duty as a city guard. It now seems strange enough
to be guarding the very town and the very forts we had so recently been
assaulting. There are other troops here, but the Fifth Iowa is the guard
proper. We find the town badly battered up, with terrible signs of war
everywhere. There, too, were the graves of the dead and brave defenders.
If wrong, they still had been brave men." Years afterward, a shaft was
put up to their memory, and on it I read these words:

    "We care not whence they came,
       Dear in their lifeless clay,
     Whether unknown, or known to fame,
     Their cause and country's still the same,
       They died, and they wore the gray."

The weather continued hot while we were there guarding the town, and the
place was very sickly; many citizens and very many colored soldiers
died. It was pitiable to see how little people cared, even our own
soldiers, whether these poor negro soldiers died or lived. Our own
regiment suffered little, yet on July 28 seventy were in the hospital.
We camped at Randolph and Locust streets, and spite of the mercury's
being 100 degrees in the shade, had pleasant soldier times. I mounted
the guard every morning and then spent most of the day reading to the
colonel, who was sick.

In September I secured a leave of absence to go North. For the only time
during the four years' war I visited my home. I was there but eight
days, half of my time having been lost by the steamer I was on sticking
on sandbars.

I saw strange sights in the North in those few days--women and children
and old men reaping the fields; home guards training at every village;
cripples and hospitals everywhere. Yet in spite of war prosperity was
blessing the North.



CHAPTER IX

  Sherman's army floats across the Tennessee River at
    midnight--Washington at the Delaware nothing compared to this--We
    assault Missionary Ridge--An awful battle--My capture.


On my return from my home to my regiment I found it had been transported
to Memphis, where, as a part of General Sherman's army corps, we were
now to make a forced march to relieve Rosecrans' army at Chattanooga.
Chickamauga had been lost. The Union army lying under Lookout Mountain
was starving and its destruction almost certain. We made now the march
of four hundred miles from the Tennessee River, at Florence, in twenty
days, without incident. On the 22d of November, 1863, we beheld the
heights of Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge.

November 23, 1863, and the great battle of Chattanooga was about to
begin. The victorious Rebel army, seventy-five thousand strong, lay
intrenched along the heights of Missionary Ridge and on top of Lookout
Mountain. My regiment was in Sherman's corps that had just hurried
across from Memphis. We had marched twenty miles a day. Now this corps
was to form the left of Grant's forces, cross a deep river in the
darkness, and assault the nearly inaccessible position of Bragg's army.
That night we lay in bivouac in the woods close by the Tennessee River.
We very well knew that 116 rude pontoon boats had been built for us and
were lying hidden in a creek near by. We had almost no rations for the
army. As for the horses and mules, they had already starved to death by
the thousands, and were lying around everywhere. Rosecran's army had
been virtually besieged, and was about to starve or surrender when Grant
came on to the ground and took command. When Sherman's corps got up it
was decided to stake all on a great battle. If defeated, we should
probably all be lost. All the men in Sherman's corps who were to make
the first great assault realized that, and they realized also the danger
we were now to encounter by attempting to cross that rapid river in the
night.

Midnight came and all were still awake, though quiet in the bivouac. At
two o'clock we heard some quiet splashing in the water. It was the sound
of muffled oars. The boats had come for us. Every man seized his rifle,
for we knew what was coming next. "Quietly, boys, fall in quietly," said
the captains. Spades were handed to many of us. We did not ask for
what, as we knew too well. Quietly, two by two, we slipped down to the
water's edge and stepped into the rude flatboats that waited there. "Be
prompt as you can, boys; there's room for thirty in a boat," said a tall
man in a long waterproof coat who stood on the bank near us in the
darkness. Few of us had ever before heard the voice of our beloved
commander. Sherman's kind words gave us all cheer, and his personal
presence, his sharing the danger we were about to undertake, gave us
confidence.

In a quarter of an hour a thousand of us were out in the middle of the
river afloat in the darkness. Silent we sat there, our rifles and our
spades across our knees. There was no sound but the swashing of the
water against the boats. We had strange feelings, the chief of which was
probably the thought: Would the enemy on the opposite bank fire into us
and drown us all? Every moment we expected a flash of musketry or a roar
of cannon. We did not know that a ruse had been played on the pickets on
the other side; that a boatload of our soldiers had crossed farther up
and in the darkness caught every one of them without firing a shot. One
only got away. Who knew how soon all of Braggs' army might be alarmed
and upon us?

In half an hour we were out on the opposite bank and creeping along
through the thicket, a spade in one hand a rifle in the other. What
might happen any moment we knew not. Where was that escaped picket? And
where was Braggs' army? Instantly we formed in line of battle and
commenced digging holes for ourselves. We worked like beavers, turn
about; no spade was idle for one moment. Daylight found us there, two
thousand strong, with rifle pits a mile in length. Other brigades got
over the river, pontoons soon were down; still other troops, whole
divisions, were across, and forty cannon were massed close to the
crossing to protect us. What a sight was that for General Bragg, when he
woke up that morning at his headquarters' perch, on top of Missionary
Ridge! All that day we maneuvered under heavy cannonading and drove the
enemy from hill to hill at our front. Some of the troops did heavy
fighting, but the Rebels only fell back to their great position on the
Ridge.

That night my regiment stood picket at the front. The ground was cold
and wet, none of us slept a wink, and we were almost freezing and
starving. We had not slept, indeed, for a hundred hours. It had been one
vast strain, and now a battle was coming on. All that night we who were
on the picket line could hear the Rebel field batteries taking position
on Missionary Ridge, to fight us on the morrow. The morning of the 25th
dawned clear and beautiful. Instantly whole divisions of troops
commenced slaughtering each other for the possession of single hills and
spurs. At times the battle in front of Sherman was a hand to hand
encounter. My own brigade was so close that the Rebels even threw stones
down upon us. Over to the far right Hooker's men were in possession of
Lookout Mountain, and were breaking in on the enemy's left flank.

It was two o'clock when our division, my own regiment with it, received
orders from Sherman to fix bayonets and join in the assault on
Missionary Ridge. General J. E. Smith led the division, and General
Matthies, our former colonel, led the brigade. We had to charge over the
open, and by this time all the cannon in the Rebel army were brought to
bear on the field we had to cross. We emerged from a little wood, and at
that moment the storm of shot and shell became terrific. In front of us
was a rail fence, and, being in direct line of fire, its splinters and
fragments flew in every direction. "Jump the fence, men! tear it down!"
cried the colonel. Never did men get over a fence more quickly. Our
distance was nearly half a mile to the Rebel position.

We started on a charge, running across the open fields. I had heard the
roaring of heavy battle before, but never such a shrieking of
cannonballs and bursting of shell as met us on that charge. We could
see the enemy working their guns, while in plain view other batteries
galloped up, unlimbered, and let loose at us. Behind us our own
batteries (forty cannon) were firing at the enemy over our heads, till
the storm and roar became horrible. It sounded as if the end of the
world had come. Halfway over we had to leap a ditch, perhaps six feet
wide and nearly as many deep. Some of our regiment fell into this ditch
and could not get out, a few tumbled in intentionally and stayed there.
I saw this, and ran back and ordered them to get out, called them
cowards, threatened them with my revolver; they did not move. Again I
hurried on with the line. All of the officers were screaming at the top
of their voices; I, too, screamed, trying to make the men hear. "Steady!
steady! bear to the right! keep in line! Don't fire! don't fire!" was
yelled till we all were hoarse and till the awful thunder of the cannon
made all commands unheard and useless.

In ten minutes, possibly, we were across the field and at the beginning
of the ascent of the Ridge. Instantly the blaze of Rebel musketry was in
our faces, and we began firing in return. It helped little, the foe was
so hidden behind logs and stones and little breastworks. Still we
charged, and climbed a fence in front of us and fired and charged again.
Then the order was given to lie down and continue firing. That moment
someone cried, "Look to the tunnel! They're coming through the tunnel."
Sure enough, through a railway tunnel in the mountain the gray-coats
were coming by hundreds. They were flanking us completely.

"Stop them!" cried our colonel to those of us at the right. "Push them
back." It was but the work of a few moments for four companies to rise
to their feet and run to the tunnel's mouth, firing as they ran. Too
late! an enfilading fire was soon cutting them to pieces. "Shall I run
over there too?" I said to the colonel. We were both kneeling on the
ground close to the regimental flag. He assented. When I rose to my feet
and started it seemed as if even the blades of grass were being struck
by bullets. As I ran over I passed many of my comrades stretched out in
death, and some were screaming in agony. For a few minutes the whole
brigade faltered and gave way.

Colonel Matthies, our brigade commander, was sitting against a tree,
shot in the head. Instantly it seemed as if a whole Rebel army was
concentrated on that single spot. For a few moments I lay down on the
grass, hoping the storm would pass over and leave me. Lieutenant Miller,
at my side, was screaming in agony. He was shot through the hips. I
begged him to try to be still; he could not. Now, as a second line of
the enemy was upon us, and the first one was returning, shooting men as
they found them, I rose to my feet and surrendered. "Come out of that
sword," shrieked a big Georgian, with a terrible oath. Another grabbed
at my revolver and bellowed at me "to get up the hill quicker than
hell." It was time, for our own batteries were pouring a fearful fire on
the very spot where we stood. I took a blanket from a dead comrade near
me, and at the point of the bayonet I was hurried up the mountain. We
passed lines of infantry in rifle pits and batteries that were pouring a
hail of shells into our exposed columns. Once I glanced back,
and--glorious sight!--I saw lines of bluecoats at our right and center,
storming up the ridge.

In a few minutes' time I was taken to where other prisoners from my
regiment and brigade were already collected together in a hollow. We
were quickly robbed of nearly everything we possessed and rapidly
started down the railroad tracks toward Atlanta. While we were there in
that little hollow General Breckenridge, the ex-Vice President of the
United States, came in among us prisoners to buy a pair of Yankee
gauntlets. I sold him mine for fifteen dollars (Confederate money).

General Grant's victorious army was already over the Ridge and in rapid
pursuit. Taking the Ridge and Lookout Mountain cost the Union army well
on to six thousand dead and wounded. The Rebels lost as many, or more,
so that twelve thousand human beings were lying dead, or in agony, that
night among the hills of Chattanooga. Not long before, thirty thousand
had been killed and wounded, on both sides, close to this same Ridge.
Forty-two thousand men shot for the possession of a single position.
_That was war._

That night as the guards marched us down the railroad we saw train after
train whiz by loaded with the wounded of the Rebel army. The next day
when they halted us, to bivouac in the woods, we were amazed to see
quite a line of Union men from East Tennessee marching along in
handcuffs. Many of them were old men, farmers, whose only crime was that
they were true to the Union. They were hated ten times worse than the
soldiers from the North. These poor men now were allowed no fire in the
bivouac, and had almost nothing to eat. "They will everyone be shot or
hanged," declared the officer of our guard to me. I do not know what
happened to these poor Tennesseeans. Shortly after, we Northern
prisoners were put aboard cattle cars and started off for Libby Prison
at Richmond, most of us never to see the North or our homes again.



CHAPTER X

  In Libby Prison--Life there--"Belle Isle"--All prisons bad--The great
    escape--"Maryland, My Maryland."


The story of Libby Prison at Richmond has been told so often I shall not
dwell on details about it here. Besides, the experiences of one man
there were not materially different from the experiences of another. I
was to stay there some seven months, always in the same room, and
oftenest denied the poor privilege of looking out of the window. Our
lives were to be very wretched there. That is now a thread-worn tale. At
their very best, war prisons in every country are wretched places. One's
friends do not stand guard there; it is our enemies. They are not penal
establishments; they are simply places for keeping captives who, until
in our so-called civilized days, would have been put to death on the
battlefield.

Our little company of captives from Chattanooga reached Libby Prison
just after daylight of December 8, 1863. As we crossed the big bridge
over the James River we looked down into the stream and saw "Belle
Isle." It was a cold wet sandbar, and there, shivering in the wind, we
saw five thousand ragged and emaciated human beings. They were prisoners
of war. Some of them were from my own regiment. Most of them were never
to see their homes again. The tales of their experiences would stagger
human belief. These were all private soldiers; the commissioned officers
were to be locked up in Libby Prison.

The old tobacco warehouse of Libby & Son had been transformed into a
monster guardhouse for officers captured from the Federal army. Little
the two old tobacco merchants must have dreamed with what infamy their
names would go down to history, through no fault of their own.

The big brick building stood close to the James River. It had no glass
in its windows, and the cold wind from the bay swept through its vast
rooms day and night. Six hundred other prisoners were already there on
our arrival, picked up from many battlefields.

Libby Prison was three stories high and its floors were divided into
several rooms each. The prisoners slept on the floor, with only old army
blankets around them. When thus lying down, the floor was entirely
covered with shivering human beings. Each group of half a dozen men had
extemporized tables, made from old boxes. A few seats were made by
cutting barrels in two. At night the seats, and whatever else might be
there, were piled on top of the tables, while the prisoners stretched
themselves on the floor to try to sleep. In my diary of the time I read:
"The food doled out to us is miserable and scanty in the extreme. A
species of corn bread, ground up cobs and all, and a little rice form
the principal part of the ration. The fact that this bread is burned
black outside and is raw inside renders it more detestable. Occasionally
letters from the North reach us by a flag of truce, and at very rare
intervals a prisoner is allowed to receive a little box of coffee,
sugar, and salt, sent to him by his friends in the North."

As the time went on this privilege was denied us. The high price of
everything South in the war times was the flimsy excuse for giving the
captured ones so little.

Prices of provisions were indeed terrible in Richmond. This list I
copied from a Richmond paper, December 20, 1863: Bacon, $3 per pound;
potatoes, $18 per bushel; turkeys, $25 each; sugar, $3 per pound; beef,
$1 per pound; butter, $5 per pound; shad, $34 per pair; whisky, $75 a
gallon. This was in the discounted money of the Confederates.

The beginning of the new year 1864 came in cold and gloomy. We could
keep warm only by running and jumping and pushing each other about the
prison. I was in the upper east room, and had for messmates Captains
Page and Bascom and Lieutenants Austin and Hoffman, all of my own
regiment. In the little box of provisions sent me by my mother in the
North was a copy of a Latin grammar, put there by good old Professor
Drake, my former school-teacher. Evidently he thought the mind needed
feeding as well as the body. I took the hint and studied the book
faithfully. I recited to Major Marshall, and eight times I went through
this Latin grammar. I had nothing else to do, but Latin is no go on an
empty stomach. When, later, I got out of prison Latin was as strange to
me as if I had never seen a grammar in my life. My memory had been
well-nigh ruined by my confinement. One day, fearing our escape, the
authorities put iron bars on all our windows. They did not think to put
glass in them to keep the cold air out.

On the night of February 10 occurred the famous escape of one hundred
and nine prisoners. For many weeks certain officers had been missing.
They were in the earth under the prison, digging a tunnel to liberty.
The length of this secret tunnel, dug under the prison, under stone
walls, under the street and under the very feet of the guards, was
eighty-six feet.

Forty-six nights were consumed in digging it. Only certain of the
prisoners knew anything about it. On the night of the escape I was told
of it. I stood in the dark at an upper window and watched the prisoners
as they came out at the farther end of the tunnel and slipped away. I
did not try to enter the tunnel when I heard of it; there was already
five times as many men in the cellar as could possible get away by
daylight. As it was, a third of those escaping were captured and brought
back again to the prison.

On the 20th of March some exchanged Confederates were sent into Richmond
under flag of truce. The President, Jefferson Davis, and all the
dignitaries welcomed them. The President also came into Libby Prison one
day, possibly to see with his own eyes and hear with his own ears if all
the terrible tales of hardship and cruelties occurring there were true.
Whatever conclusion he may have reached, the hard lines of our life in
the prison were not visibly altered. They have been told of a hundred of
times.

All the nights now it was very cold. I had but one blanket. I, like all
the others, slept on the floor, and in my clothes, with my boots under
my head for a pillow. One night,--it was at the close of February,
1864,--we in the prison were greatly excited over a report that Union
cavalry under Generals Kilpatrick and Dahlgren were making a raid on
the city for the purpose of releasing us. It was raining outside, and
very dark, but we were sure we heard the Union cannon close at hand. We
thought the hour of our deliverance had come. Instantly, but secretly,
we organized ourselves into bands to break out and help.

Soon Major Turner, the prison commander, came into the prison, making
mysterious threats of something awful that would happen should we lift a
single hand. Some negro help about the prison whispered to us all that,
under Turner's direction, they had been compelled to carry thirty kegs
of gunpowder into the cellar of the prison. Rumor said that it was
Turner's intention, if our troops should get into Richmond, to blow up
the prison and destroy us. A horrible plan, if true. Sadly for us, the
great raid proved a failure. Dahlgren was killed, and his body was
mutilated and exposed to an enraged public at one of the railroad depots
in the city. These things were not done by honorable Confederate
soldiers, but by irresponsible home guards and undisciplined rowdies.

Now we saw no hopes of ever getting away. We would at last all die here,
we thought. The nights seemed colder than ever; perhaps our blood was
getting thinner. Some of us played chess; numbers sat with cards in
their hands from early morning till bedtime. A few, experts with the
knife, made bone rings and the like to sell, and so increased their
rations a little. Generally now the rations were getting poorer, if such
a thing were possible. Many prisoners were breaking down and were
carried out to die. My own health--and I was young and strong--was
beginning to give way. Once I fell on the floor in an utter swoon from
weakness and hunger. From Andersonville, where the private soldiers
were, came the horrible reports that "all were dying."

One day a lot of Marylanders, most of whom had run through the Union
lines from Baltimore, were organized into a battalion called "The
Maryland Line." They were led by Marshall Wilder. They were marched past
the prison, singing "Maryland, My Maryland." It was the first time I
ever heard the song sung by Southerners. The music seemed to stir the
whole city.[A]

   [A] Years afterwards I wrote a song to this music myself ("The Song
   of Iowa"). To this day it is well known, and has become the official
   State song.

Great battles were being fought in Virginia, and sometimes Grant's
soldiers approached close to Richmond. Before daylight of May 7 our
captors, fearing mutiny and escape, placed all the prisoners in cattle
cars and hurried us across the Confederacy to Macon, Ga. For seven
long, dreary, awful months I had been in one room in Libby Prison, with
little to eat or wear. It all seems a horrible dream as I write of it
now.

Now there were rumors that we were to be taken to a prison farther
South.



CHAPTER XI

  Escaping from Macon--An adventure in Atlanta--In the disguise of a
    Confederate soldier--My wanderings inside the Confederate army and
    what I experienced there--I am captured as a spy--How I got out of
    it all.


I have related how suddenly we prisoners were hurried from Libby Prison
in Richmond to the town of Macon in Georgia.

It was now the hot summer of 1864, that summer when Sherman, only a
hundred and fifty miles from our prison, was having a battle every day.
He was marching and fighting his way to Atlanta. Seven hundred of us,
all Federal officers, were now penned up in a hot stockade. I copy a
page from my diary:

"The walls here at Macon prison are twelve feet high. Sentries are
posted near the top of them on a platform running around the outside.
Their orders are to shoot any prisoners seen approaching the dead line.
This dead line is simply marked off by an occasional stake, and is
twelve feet inside the surrounding wall. It is fearfully hot here inside
this stockade. The ground is pure sand, reflecting the sun's rays
powerfully. We had no cover of any kind at first, save the blankets
stretched over pine sticks. It is as hot here at Macon as it was cold at
Libby Prison."

We tried digging a tunnel by which to escape. It was four feet under
ground and seventy-five feet long. It was barely ready when some spy
revealed it, and our chance was lost. For my own part, I was determined
to get away. The food was now again horrible, and all kinds of
indignities and insults were heaped upon the prisoners. One night during
a hard rain I attempted to escape through a washout under the stockade.
I remained by the spot till nearly midnight, not knowing that I was
being watched every moment. As I was about to give up the attempt and go
away Captain Gesner, of a New York regiment, came to the little brook
for a cup of water. The guard who had been watching me then fired, and
Gesner dropped dead. They came in with lanterns to see who had been
killed, and the guard who had fired related how he had watched the man
for nearly two hours trying to escape. I did not dare say that it was I,
not poor Gesner, who had been trying to get away.

Now I contemplated, too, a different means of escape. It was to get a
Rebel uniform, escape from the stockade by some means, and enter the
Rebel army in disguise, trusting my chance to get away during the first
battle.

There was but one gate or door to the stockade, and this door was kept
constantly closed. It was guarded by a sentinel who stood, gun in hand,
immediately above it while a corporal stood watch below. Once a day a
few guards and officers entered this door, closed it behind them, and
formed us into lines for counting. I had studied a small map of the
country for days, and by dint of trading tobacco, etc., with an
occasional guard who was dying for the weed I acquired, piece by piece,
a pretty decent Rebel uniform. This I kept buried in the sand where I
slept. July 15, 1864, came around. My term of enlistment expired that
day. I had been in the Union army three years; was it not a good time to
give the Rebels a trial? There were a few old sheds not far from the
gate, and in one of these one morning about nine o'clock I waited with a
friend, and saw the sergeants and the guards come in, when the bell
rang, to count the prisoners. I had resurrected my Rebel uniform and had
quietly slipped it on. It fitted amazingly. My friend was lingering
there, simply to see what would become of me. He has often declared
since then that he expected me to be shot the moment I should approach
the dead-line.

The prisoners were some way off, in rows, being counted. I stepped from
under cover and quickly walked up to and over the dead-line by the gate.
The guard walking above brought his gun from his shoulder, halted, and
looked at me. I paid no attention, but knocked, when the door opened,
and the corporal stepped in the opening and asked what I wanted. "The
lieutenant misses a roll-list, and I must run out and bring it from
headquarters," I answered, pushing by him hurriedly. There was no time
for questions, and the corporal, before getting over his surprise, had
passed me out as a Rebel sergeant. I quickly turned the corner, passed a
number of "Johnnies" sitting on the grass drinking coffee and went
straight up to the commandent's tent, near the edge of the wood, but did
not go in. I had not looked behind me once, but expected every moment to
hear a bullet whizzing after me. I passed behind the tent, walked slowly
into the wood, and then ran my best for an hour.

I was outside of prison. How free, how green, how beautiful all things
seemed! It was the joy of years in a few minutes. Of course I was
instantly missed at the roll-call, and bloodhounds were soon upon my
track. I avoided them, however, by different maneuvers. I changed my
course, shortly repassed the prison pen on the opposite side, and went
back and up into the city of Macon. After wandering through its streets
for an hour I again took to the woods. That night I slept in a swamp of
the Ocmulgee River. What bedfellows I had!--frogs, lizards, bats, and
alligators. But it was better than the inside of a war prison. All the
next day I lay in a blackberry patch, fearing to move, but feasting on
the luscious, ripe berries. What a contrast it was to my previous
starving! Never in this world shall I enjoy food so again.

Near to me was a watering-station for the railway to Atlanta. As I lay
in the bushes I heard trains halting all the day. With night came a
glorious moon. Such a flood of heaven's own light I had never seen
before. By ten at night a long, empty train halted, and in two minutes I
had sprung from the bushes and was inside of an empty freight car. In
ten minutes more I stood in the door of the car watching the fair farms
and the hamlets of Georgia sleeping under the glorious moonlight, while
I was being hurled along heaven knew where.

That was the strangest ride of my life. The conductor came along when we
were near Atlanta, swinging his lantern into the cars, and found a
strange passenger. He threatened all sorts of things if my fare were not
paid, of course I had no money, but I put myself on my dignity, told him
I was a convalescent soldier coming back from a furlough, and dared him
or any other civilian to put me off the train. That ended the colloquy,
and just before daylight the whistle screamed for Atlanta, and I was
inside the lines of Hood's army.

I left the train and in a few moments was tucked away in the haymow of a
barn near the station. So far, good; but daylight brought a squad of
Rebel cavalry into the barn, who, to my dismay, soon commenced climbing
up to the mow for hay for their horses. My presence of mind was about
leaving me utterly when I happened to notice an empty sugar hogshead in
the corner of the mow. Before the Rebels were up I was in it, and there
I sat and perspired for six mortal hours. Those hours were days, every
one of them. All of this time Sherman's army, then besieging Atlanta,
was throwing shells into our neighborhood. At last, at last! the Rebels
saddled their horses and rode out of the barnyard.

I was not long in changing my headquarters. For days and days I walked
up and down Atlanta among the troops, to the troops, away from the
troops, always moving, always just going to the regiment, to which I had
attached myself as ordnance sergeant. I was very careful, however, to
keep far away from that particular regiment. I knew its position, its
chief officers, knew, in fact, the position of every brigade in Hood's
army. It was to my interest, under the circumstances, to know them well,
for I was continually halted with such exclamations as, "Hallo! which
way? Where's your regiment? What you doing away over here?" A hundred
times I was on the point of being arrested and carried to my alleged
command. For every man I met I had a different tale, to suit the
circumstances. At night I slept where I could--under a tree, behind a
drygoods box; it made little difference, as my lying down on the ground,
hungry, pillowless, and blanketless, and fearing every moment to be
arrested, could not be called sleeping. This life was growing monotonous
at last; the more so as, aside from an occasional apple, I had nothing
at all to eat.

About the fifth day I overheard an old Irishman, hoeing among his
potatoes, bitterly reviling the war to his wife. I made his acquaintance
and discovered our sentiments as to the rebellion to be very nearly
identical. Under the most tremendous of oaths as to secrecy, I told who
I was and that I was absolutely starving. If he would help me, I knew
how to save his property when Sherman's army should enter. That it would
enter, and that Atlanta would be razed to the ground, and every human
being's throat cut, he had not a doubt. Still, if detected in secreting
or feeding me, he would be hanged from his own door-post. There was no
doubting that, either.

However, that night I slept in his cellar and was fed with more than the
crumbs from his table. It was arranged that I should wander about the
army day-times, and come to his cellar--unknown to him, of course--about
ten every night, when his family were likely to be in bed. The outside
door was to be left unlocked for me. Prisoners did not carry timepieces
in the South. Mine disappeared with my pistols on the battlefield of
Chattanooga, and as an unfortunate result I went to my den in the cellar
an hour too early one evening. None of my protector's family seemed to
have been aware of the guest in the cellar.

I was sitting quietly in a corner of the dark, damp place when the
trap-door opened above and a young lady, bearing a lamp, descended and
seemed to be searching for something. It was a romantic
situation--destined to be more so. Groping about the cellar, the young
lady approached me. I moved along the wall to avoid her. She unluckily
followed. I moved farther again. She followed, cornered me, screamed at
the top of her voice, dropped the lamp, and fainted. In half a minute
three soldiers who had happened to be lunching upstairs, the old lady,
and my friend, her husband, rushed down the steps, armed with lights.
The old gentleman recognized me and was in despair. I think I too was in
despair, but, rightfully or wrongfully, I took to my heels and escaped
through the door which I had entered, leaving the fainting girl, the
despairing father, and the astonished soldiers to arrange matters as
they might. The girl recovered, I learned years afterward, and her
father's house was one of the few that escaped the flames when Sherman
started to the sea.

From that night on I slept again at the roadsides, and as for rations, I
might say I did not have any. The weather was terribly hot, but I spent
my days wandering from regiment to regiment and from fort to fort,
inspecting the positions and the works. I knew if I did get through, all
this would be equal to any army corps for Sherman.

Once I crept into a little deserted frame house and, happening to find
an old white palmetto hat there, I changed it for my own, on account of
the heat. I then laid my Rebel jacket and cap under the boards and,
fastening my pantaloons up with a piece of broad red calico that
happened to be with the hat, sallied out, seeing what I could see. I
very soon saw more than I had calculated on. I had wandered well off to
the right of the army and was quietly looking about when a squad of
cavalry dashed in, shouting, "The Yankees are on us!" There was a
regiment of infantry close by, which sprang to its feet, and every man
in sight was ordered to seize a gun and hurry to the front. I, too, was
picked up, and before I had time to explain that I was just going over
to my division a gun was in my hands and I was pushed into the line. The
whole force ran for a quarter of an hour into the woods, firing as they
ran, and shouting. Suddenly, as a few shots were fired into us, we
stopped and formed line of battle.

The skirmish was soon over. Some cavalry had flanked the Yanks and
brought them in, and while their pockets were being gone through with by
my fellow-soldiers I slipped to the rear, and was glad to get back into
my own cap and jacket.

I lay in the little empty house that night. Sherman's army had been
banging at the city fearfully, and setting houses on fire all night. It
was a little revenge, I presume, for the losses in the skirmish in which
I had taken so picturesque a part. These shelled houses had emptied
their occupants into the street, and a little after daylight I noticed a
family, with its worldly baggage piled on a one-mule wagon, stop in
front of my residence. "Here's a house out of range of bullets. Why not
move in?" I heard a manly voice call to the women and children,
following with the traps. "Move in," I thought to myself. "Well, they
can stand it, if I can." The house consisted of but one large room,
unceiled, and reaching to the rafters, with the exception of a small
compartment, finished off and ceiled, in one corner. On top of this
little compartment were my headquarters.

In they moved, bag and baggage, and the women folks soon commenced
preparing a meal outside, under the shadows of the front door. This
half-finished room had been used as a butcher shop in the past, it
seemed, and the meat hooks in the corner had served me as a ladder to
mount to my perch on the ceiling. "Now, Johnny," chirped the wife, "do
run uptown and buy some red and white muslin. We will make a Union flag,
and when Sherman gits in, as he's bound to, we're jest as good Union
folks as he is. You know I'm dyin' for real coffee. I'm tired of chicory
and Injun bread, and I don't keer if Sherman's folks is in to-morrow.
We'll draw government rations, and be Union."

These good people were probably "poor trash" of the South, not caring
much which way the war went provided they could get rations. Their
general talk, however, was of the real Rebel character, and it was an
unsafe place for me to stop in. In an hour the banquet before the front
door was prepared, and all hands went out to partake. Soon they were
joined by a Rebel soldier, who seemed to be on a half-hour's furlough
to visit the young lady of the party, whom I took to be his sweetheart.
Sherman's army, I was sorry to learn from this soldier, was being simply
"mowed out of existence." "All the woods about Atlanta were as a reeking
corpse." Sherman himself was in flight northward.

By looking more closely through a chink in the weather-boarding of my
hiding-place I discovered that he was reading all this dreadful
information from a Copperhead newspaper from Chicago, and then I felt
easier.

Again, there was the talk about money purses made of Yankee's scalps and
finger rings from Yankee bones; and during the dinner I was no little
astonished to see this valiant Southerner exhibit to his eager listeners
a veritable ring, rough and yellow, made, as he said, from the bones of
one of Sherman's cavalrymen. This was probably brag.

The banquet of cucumbers, chicory, and Injun bread was about
terminating. My soldier with the ring had used up his furlough and was
gone. The house was still empty, and it was now, or never, if I proposed
getting down from my perch without alarm. My plan was silently to climb
down the meat hooks which I had ascended and to slip out at the still
open back door of the house. On peeping over the edge of the ceiling,
however, what was my amazement to see a bull-dog of immense proportions
tied to one of my hooks!

Here was a "situation"! He was sound asleep, but had an amiable
countenance. I dropped a bit of plaster on his nose. He looked up
amazed, and smiled. Then I smiled, and then he smiled again; and then I
carefully crept down, patted him on the head, said good-by in a whisper,
and in a twinkling was out at the back door. My gratitude to this dog is
boundless.

I had found it unsafe to be about houses, and again I took my lodgings
in the field. Again I was busy, just _going to my division_, but never
getting there. Once, near the sacred quarters of a brigadier, the guard
arrested me. I protested, and our loud talk brought the brigadier to the
rescue. I explained how I was "just going to my regiment," and how my
pass had been lost, and the necessity of my going on at once. The
brigadier took in the situation at a glance, and with a pencil wrote me
a pass, good for that day.

Fighting was going on about Atlanta constantly, but with so many
apparent reverses to our arms that I feared I should never get away.

The memorable 22d of July came, and with it the most terrific fighting
on Hood's right, and in fact all round the semi-circle about the city. A
division, with my Alabama regiment, entered the battle on Hood's right
wing, and I followed, at a safe distance, as an ordnance sergeant.
Everybody was too busy and excited to ask me questions, and in the hope
that Hood would be defeated and an opportunity for getting through the
lines be at last presented, I was feeling good. Hundreds, thousands
possibly, of wounded men fell back by me, but all shouting, "The Yankees
are beaten, and McPherson is killed."

It was too true! McPherson had fallen and, if reports were correct,
Sherman's army had met with an awful disaster. For me, there was nothing
left but to get back to the rear and try another direction. I knew that
Sherman's advance was at the ford, at Sandtown, on the Chattahoochie
River, at our left. Could I only get there, I might still be saved. I
had now been seen among the Rebel forts and troops so much that there
was the greatest danger of my being recaptured, and shot as a spy. On
the night of the 22d I took refuge under a hedge, near to a field
hospital.

No food and no sleep for days was killing me. Still there was no rest,
for all the night long I heard the groans of the poor fellows whose arms
and legs were being chopped off by the surgeons. The whole night was
simply horrible. I might have died there myself; I wonder that I did
not. Only the hope of escape was keeping me alive. I had not eaten a
pound of food in days.

Daylight of the 23d came. It was my birthday. Auspicious day, I thought,
and again my hopes gave me strength and courage to work my way past
lines of infantry and cavalry.

All day, till nearly sunset, I had crept around in the woods, avoiding
sentinels, and now I was almost in sight of the longed-for goal. It was
not a mile to the ford. When darkness set in I should swim the river and
be a free man. More, I had news that would help Sherman's army to
capture Atlanta. A thousand pictures of home, of freedom, peace, were
painting themselves in my mind. One hour more, and all would be well.

Hark! a shot, and then a call to halt and hold up my arms. I was
surrounded in a moment by fifty cavalrymen who had been secreted in the
bushes--how or where I know not. We were in sight of the river, and the
Union flag was just beyond. It was no use here to talk about being a
Confederate. I was arrested as a spy, and in great danger of being shot
then and there, without a hearing. I was partly stripped, searched
thoroughly, and then marched between two cavalrymen to General Ross, of
Texas, who, with his staff, was also at a hidden point in the woods.
General Ross treated me kindly and gave me lunch and a blanket to rest
on. It was his duty, however, to send me to the division headquarters,
to be tried. I was again marched till nine at night, when I was turned
over to General H----. He was sitting by a fire in the woods roasting
potatoes and reviling the Yankees. As I was arrested as a spy, and to be
tried, I deemed it best to say nothing. "Try to escape from me tonight,"
shouted General H----, as if he were commanding an army corps, "and I'll
put you where there is no more 'scaping." Through the whole night a
soldier sat at my head with a cocked pistol, but for the first time in
days I slept soundly. Why not? The worst had happened. By daylight a
guard marched me up to the city, where Hood had army headquarters in the
yard of a private residence.

On the way there my guard, a mere boy, was communicative, and I
persuaded him to show me the paper that was being sent around with me,
from one headquarters to another. I read it. Sure enough, I was
considered a spy, and was being forwarded for trial. The paper gave the
hour and place of my capture, with the statement that one of those
capturing me had seen me inspecting a fort on the previous Sunday.

When we reached Hood's tents, in the dooryard of the Atlanta mansion, I
was turned over to a new guard, and the document brought with me was
carelessly thrown into an open pigeon-hole of a desk out on the grass by
a clerk who seemed too much disturbed about other matters to ask where
the guard came from or what I was accused of. I, at least, noticed where
the paper was put. There was the most tremendous excitement at
headquarters. Orderlies and officers were dashing everywhere at once,
fighting was constantly going on, and an immediate retreat seemed to be
determined. I was left that night in a tent with a few other prisoners,
among them two deserters, sentenced to be shot. Close by on the lawn was
the desk where the clerk had deposited my paper. Our guard was very
accommodating, or very negligent, for he allowed different persons to go
in and out from our tent at all hours during the night. Daylight brought
the provost-marshal general to the tent, to dispose of the prisoners.
The name of each was called, and all but myself were taken out, heard,
and sent off.

"And who are you?" he said, pleasantly enough to me. I stepped forward.
The clerk was asked for the paper, but it was gone. "It certainly had
been misplaced," said the clerk, in embarrassment. He had put it in that
particular pigeon-hole. I testified to that myself, and added,--this
sudden inspiration coming to me in the emergency,--that "it was of
little consequence, as it was from an officer,--I didn't know whom,--who
had simply picked me up as an escaped prisoner." The provost-marshal
took me aside and asked me if I had been about the works or the troops
any. I told him my name, that I was really an escaped prisoner, and that
I had just walked up from Macon and had hoped to get away. "You have had
a hard time of it," he said, "and I almost wish you had got away. I hope
you will soon be free," he added, "and that the cruel war is almost
over." It was a sudden and great relief to me to know that now I was not
to be regarded as a spy. What became of the "papers" and the charges
against me afterward in the midst of war excitements, I never knew. The
next night the provost-marshal sent me under guard back to Macon prison
whence I had escaped.



CHAPTER XII

  Under fire of our own guns at Charleston--Trying to capture a railway
    train--The secret band--Betrayed--The desolation of Charleston.


I was scarcely returned to the Macon prison again when two hundred of
us, all officers, were selected to be placed under the fire from our
navy then bombarding Charleston. By some wonderful fiction of military
law the "Confederates," as the Rebels called themselves, pretended to
regard the bombardment of Charleston as a crime. I do not remember now
how the selection of victims to be sent to Charleston was made one
evening about the end of July, 1864. This, however, happened that night,
to add adventure and excitement to the Charleston trip. The greater
number of those selected were members of a "Secret Band" of prisoners
who had resolved to mutiny or to do any act in our power that could
result in our escape from captivity. I recall how Major Marshall one
afternoon secretly administered to me the oath of this desperate band.
With my hand on my heart I swore to instantly obey every order given to
me by the "head captain." I was to ask no questions, but to strike,
whenever told; to kill, no matter whom, even were my own brother to be
the victim. I was ready to do anything. I had been mistreated and
starved long enough. Death could be little worse than all of us had been
undergoing for months. The news coming to us from our prison comrades at
Andersonville was perfectly horrible. History had never related the like
of it. We received the _Telegraph_, a Macon newspaper, into the prison
pen every morning. At the head of one of its columns each day the editor
reported the awful number of poor starving creatures who had died at
Andersonville the day before. It was not unlike the reports of the
number of dumb beasts killed each day in the Chicago slaughter pens.
Pretty soon I learned that the eighty comrades of my regiment captured
with me at Missionary Ridge were nearly every one dead. The details of
their sufferings were too horrible to dilate upon. WE WONDERED SOMETIMES
IF GOD HAD FORSAKEN THE WORLD.

We who joined the "Band," and took the awful oath we did, knew what it
all meant. Outside our stockade loaded cannon waited but the least alarm
to fire upon us. On top of the stockade guards walked day and night with
orders to instantly kill any prisoner who should approach within twelve
feet of the high wall. We were only eight hundred prisoners all told,
and nothing to fight with but naked hands. Outside whole regiments armed
to the teeth lay with guns in their hands waiting to destroy every one
of us should we offer to escape. What was our chance? Almost nothing; or
if anything, death! Still we resolved to try.

Then came that night when we were to get on the cars and start for
Charleston. Instantly the word was passed along for every member of the
secret "Band" to quietly arm himself with a short club, made from our
bunks and sheds, and to keep it hid under his coat or blanket. Now we
were counted and put into a train of box cattle cars. Twenty-five
prisoners were in a car, and in the side door of each car stood a guard
with his loaded musket. We who were not leaders of the "Band" wondered
what desperate thing we were about to try. I do not know where the tools
came from, but when the train was well in motion, and the noise deadened
our movements, a big hole, large enough to permit a man to creep
through, was knocked in the end of each car. The darkness, the crowd in
the cars and the noise prevented the guards knowing what was going on.
This was the first "_vestibule_" railroad train ever made.

Shortly now one of our leaders came creeping along from car to car, and
in a low voice he told us what was about to happen. The train on its way
to Charleston would halt close to the sea at a little town called
Pocotaligo. We knew that some ships of the Union navy lay out in the
water there, scarce a dozen miles away. The design was to seize on our
guards as we reached the village, disarm them, kill them, if necessary,
ditch the train, destroy the road and the telegraph, and then escape to
the ships. I think not a soul of us doubted the likelihood of our
success. We would be free men on the morrow if all went well. It would
be two or three o'clock in the night when the train would pass the point
of action. Every one of us had his club and his pocket knife in his hand
ready to strike. At the proper moment Colonel ----, our leader, with
three comrades, was to spring through the end of the front car where he
was, onto the tender, seize the engineer and fireman and wave a lantern
violently as a signal for us to suddenly lay hold of every Rebel soldier
on the train. Ten miles out from Pocotaligo our hearts beat in terrible
excitement. No one spoke; we only waited. It was silence, all save the
rumbling of the car wheels. So far our guards seemed in perfect
ignorance of the approaching danger. Five miles out, so sure were we of
success, a few began to act without waiting for the signal. In one or
two of the cars the guards had been suddenly seized and their muskets
were in our hands. In the car where I was, one of the astonished guards,
finding himself without a gun, coolly said: "And what are you 'uns going
to do with we 'uns?" It was a tremendous moment, as the train sped along
in the dark. Three miles to Pocotaligo; two miles; one mile. With quick
beating heart I leaned from our car door, straining my eyes for the
lantern signal. Then the whistle blew loudly, but the train only
hastened its speed, and in two minutes, instead of stopping, we shot
past the station at lightning speed.

What had happened? Were we discovered? Not a signal had been given to
us. In the morning we were all hurried inside the jail yard of
Charleston. Now we knew it all. At the crucial moment our leader _had
lost his nerve_ and _become a coward_; or had he betrayed us? He had not
waved the lantern, though he had captured it, and held it in his hand.
We were now much alarmed as to what would be done with us for seizing
the guards. We might lose our lives. Colonel ----, the false leader, was
taken to another prison to save him from being torn to pieces by his own
comrades.

The newspapers of Charleston that morning contained flaming articles,
describing how a terrible catastrophe had been averted by the cowardice
or treason of one man. Where they got the details of the proposed
capture of the train, no one will ever know. Was the leader simply a
coward, or was he paid for betraying us?

After a while we were transferred to what was called the "Roper
Hospital." It was close to the jail, and the danger of being killed by
the shells from our own fleet was still very great, though, in fact, few
of us were hurt. The yellow fever was to be a greater scourge than
Yankee cannon.

Our fleet officers had learned the locality where the prisoners were
guarded, and fired their shells mostly in other directions. It was a
grand spectacle at night--the soaring through the heavens of so many
blazing bombshells and their bursting in the city. Parts of Charleston
that we could see were perfect pictures of desolation; whole quarters
stood in black ruins and uninhabited. The weather was exceedingly hot,
and the yellow fever broke out and raged fearfully among both prisoners
and guards. It seemed as if we should all die there. At last they
transported us away to a little open field in the woods, close to the
town of Columbia, the capital of South Carolina.

The surgeon of the prison camp at Charleston was Dr. Todd, a brother of
President Lincoln's wife. A more rabid Secessionist was nowhere to be
found. It was a curious situation, that the brother-in-law of the great
President should be so attached to the country's opponents.

On our way to the prison at Columbia Major Marshall of my regiment and
two captains escaped from the train and reached the North by tramping at
night through the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. They had
horrible experiences for many weeks.



CHAPTER XIII

  Living in a grave--An adventure in the woods of South Carolina--Life
    in the asylum yard at the capital of South Carolina--The song of
    "Sherman's March to the Sea"--How it came to be written--Final
    escape--The burning up of South Carolina's capital.


Now we were near the capital of South Carolina. It is our third prison.
We were placed in a cleared field among the pine woods, a few miles from
the town. Here we spent a part of a terrible winter exposed to the storm
and rain. We had no shelter save such as we made at last of sticks and
logs that we were allowed to carry in from the neighboring wood. Our
food was wretched, we had almost no clothing, and the weather was very
bad nearly all the time. We were surrounded by a line of guards. A
battery constantly in readiness to fire on us should an alarm be given
stood near by. Our food was still the half-cooked corn and cobs
together, with quantities of a poor and sickly sorghum molasses. We
heard that the Rebel army was living little better than we were. In
ridicule of the rations the prisoners dubbed this prison pen "Camp
Sorghum." Every man among us was sick with diarrhoea. The little
grave-yard for the prisoners near by grew rapidly. The details of our
life in this miserable camp I shall not relate. They were simply too
horrible. As for myself,--my only shelter was a hole in the ground, four
feet deep, four feet wide and eight feet long. It was covered with
boughs and earth. Lieutenant Morris and myself occupied this living
grave for months. We had a tiny fire-place of clay built in the end of
it, where we burned roots, and the long rainy nights we two sat there
alone, reading an old newspaper by our root-light or talking of our
far-away homes. One very stormy night our water-soaked roof fell in on
us, and then we were compelled to walk about in the rain. I wonder now
that any soul survived the miseries of that camp. Valley Forge was
paradise compared to it. But all this misery was a part of war.

Naturally, numbers ran the guard lines at this woeful prison pen and
escaped into the woods. Firing by the sentinels on these escaping
prisoners was a common occurrence on dark nights. Here and there an
officer was killed, and sometimes under circumstances that marked the
sentinel a common murderer. A battery of loaded cannons stood outside
the guard line, with orders to open on the prisoners should five musket
shots be heard. With the constant escaping of prisoners at night these
five fatal shots could occur at any hour.

For my own part, I resolved to again attempt escape, but my efforts
failed again, and twice in succession. I recall with a shudder how one
night late in November my friend, Lieutenant Ecking of New York, was
foully murdered. He had bribed a guard to let two or three of us run
across the line that night at midnight. The bribe was to consist of a
silver watch. Some of these men were easily bribed. They were not
regular Confederate soldiers, but usually cowardly home guards, who
regarded the murdering of a helpless prisoner a heroic act.

When midnight came three of us were secreted close to the dead line. As
soon as the bribed sentinel came to his post and commenced walking up
and down his beat Lieutenant Ecking rose and approached him. The night
was clear moonlight. The moment Ecking had crossed the dead line, and
was holding the watch up to the guard, the coward shot him dead. For
this outrage the home guard received a furlough.

About this time, too, Lieutenant Turbayne was murdered by a guard for
mistaking the ringing of a bell. Some of us had been permitted to go out
on parole and carry in wood at stated times. Without notice, this
privilege was suspended, but the bellman, by mistake, rang as usual.
Turbayne started for the dead line. "Go back, halt!" shouted a sentinel.
Turbayne turned to obey, but was instantly shot in the back and dropped
dead. There was a furious commotion among the prisoners. The guards,
too, collected about the spot. The Rebel officer in charge left his
lunch and walked over also. He held in his hand a great piece of pumpkin
pie, and continued eating from it as he stood there by the corpse of the
man they had murdered. There was almost a mutiny in the prison camp, and
one proper leader at that moment would have put an end to the whole
Rebel outfit. In the end it would have been death to the whole of us.

Previous to this threatened outbreak I had again tried my own chance at
escaping. It was now November 4, 1864, a cold blustering day, and the
prisoners in their rags and almost barefooted stood and shivered in the
naked field. At four o'clock a dozen were paroled and allowed to go out
to the woods and carry in some fuel.

Lieutenant Fritchie and myself managed to mix ourselves among this
little paroled company, and forgot to return to the enclosure. We helped
a little in the fuel getting, and then suddenly disappeared in the pine
forests. For some days we crept about in the great pine woods, scarcely
knowing our direction or where we were going. Our leaving had been so
sudden that we were planless. Here and there we stumbled onto a darkey,
who never hesitated to bring us corn hoe cake or whatever eatables he
might happen to have in his cabin. The slaves universally were the
prisoners' friends, and they knew a hundred times more about the war and
its object than their plantation masters ever supposed. Many an escaping
prisoner was fed by them and, with the north star as a guide, conducted
to safety. Many an army movement was made possible by loyal negroes.
Barring an occasional Union white man, they were the only friends the
soldiers had in the South.

Lieutenant Fritchie and I had some queer adventures while we wandered
about the woods of South Carolina during this little leave of absence
from the Confederates. We did not see a single white man, save one, and
he tried to shoot us. One night we lodged in an open-topped corn-crib,
not knowing in the darkness that we were quite close to an inhabited
farmhouse. When daylight came we peeped over the corn-crib and were much
astonished to see a woman at her wash-tub on the back porch of a cabin
close by. She must have seen our heads, for that very moment she stopped
her washing and entered the cabin. Shortly she appeared again, followed
by a man, who took one long steady look at the corn-crib; then he
entered the cabin, and we knew it was to get his gun. Very quick
resolution and action on our part became advisable. A little plowed
field only separated our corn-crib, at the back, from a thick piece of
woods. In a moment the man was out again on the porch, bearing a musket.

"Drop to the ground behind the crib and run to the woods," said
Fritchie. "I'll keep watch on the man. I'll drop down too. When you are
across wave your hand if he is not coming, and then I'll run." In a
moment's time I was running across the plowed field, keeping the crib
between me and the porch of the cabin. The man with the musket never saw
me. I waved to Fritchie; he, too, started on the run, and to this hour I
laugh to myself when I picture to my mind Fritchie, a short, stumpy
fellow, tumbling absolutely heels over head in his haste to cover that
bit of plowed ground.

Very shortly we heard bloodhounds bellowing. We knew too well what that
meant. Numbers of escaping prisoners had been torn to pieces by them.
That was the common way of catching runaway slaves and prisoners of war
down South. They hunt "niggers" that way to-day down there.

By hard running, turns and counter-turns, and frequent crossing and
recrossing little streams, we threw the dogs off our track, and slept
until night in the thicket. The wind blew hard and cold that night, and
as we stood secreted under a thorn-tree by the roadside two men passed,
so close we could have touched them. Something told us they, too, were
escaping prisoners. We tried to attract their attention enough to be
sure. One of us spoke, scarcely more than whisper. Instantly and in
alarm the two men bounded away like scared wolves. Days afterward we
found out that they had been not only fleeing prisoners, but were,
indeed, two of our personal friends.

The next night was fair, and a full round moon lighted up the sandy
desert with its oasis of tall, immense pine trees. The white winding
road of sand that seemed to have been abandoned for a hundred years was
almost trackless. Here and there, too, we saw an abandoned turpentine
camp, the spiles still in the trees and the troughs lying rotting at
their feet.

There was nothing but silence there, and loneliness, and moonlight. Here
in the quiet night, if anywhere in the world, two poor escaping
prisoners of war would be in no danger of a foe.

For hours we trudged along, going where we knew not, when suddenly to
our amazement two mounted cavalrymen stood right in our way and called
to us to surrender. There was nothing to do but to obey. Our capture
had been an accident. These two officers, a captain and a lieutenant,
had been riding the country trying to catch some deserters from their
army and had blundered on to us. They started with us to Lexington jail,
some miles away. The captain rode a dozen yards or so ahead, with a
revolver in his hand. I trudged along in the sand at his side,
faithfully hanging on to his stirrup strap. The lieutenant and Fritchie
followed us in a like manner in the moonlight. It seems to have been a
romantic occasion, when I think of it now; we two Federals and these two
Confederates, there alone in the moonlight, and the big pine trees and
the white sands about. I could not help reflecting, though, how many a
captured prisoner had never been accounted for. Possibly we should never
see Lexington jail. It would be an easy thing for these men to leave our
bodies there in the sand somewhere. There were few words at first as we
plodded our slow way in the moonlight. At last my captain and I entered
into lively conversation about the South in general, and then both of us
hoped the war would soon come to an end. To my surprise the young
captain confided to me that he was, at heart, a Union man. "And why in
the Confederate army?" I asked, in astonishment. "Because," said the
captain, "everybody in my village in South Carolina is. I would have
been hooted to death had I remained at home. My father is a rich man; he
is opposed to the war, but he, too, is in the service at Richmond."

"Under the circumstances," I said, "I being Union, and you being Union,
why not look the other way a moment and let me try the time required to
reach yonder clump of trees." "No, not a thought of it," he answered
almost hotly. "You are my prisoner, I will do my duty." The subject was
dropped, and in half an hour Fritchie and I were inside a stone cell in
Lexington jail. "You can lie down on the stone floor and sleep if you
want to," the jailer said, crustily. The two young officers said a
cheery good-by and went away.

Before daybreak the door of our cell opened again and the gruff jailer
called, "Which of you is Adjutant Byers." Then he pushed a basket and
blanket in to me, and a little note. The basket was full of good warm
food and the little note, in a woman's hand, said: "With the compliments
of the captain's wife."

I think tears came to the eyes of both of us there in that cell that
night. It was among the few kindnesses I ever experienced in the
Confederacy. Of course it was a woman's act. The captain had gone to his
home near by and told his wife about his prisoners, and here was the
remembrance. The world is not so bad after all, we said to each other,
Fritchie and I.

The next day the jailer paraded us out in the corridor, and I think all
the people in the county came to see us, to remark on us, and touch us
with their hands. Most of these men, women, and children had absolutely
never seen a Northern man before, and a Yankee soldier was a greater
curiosity than a whole menagerie of polar bears. I saw the ignorance of
the "poor white trash" of the South that day. Not one in twenty of them
knew what the war was about. The negroes had a more intelligent notion
of affairs than did the people of the Carolinas.

In a few days Fritchie and I were conducted back to our prison pen near
Columbia, South Carolina.

Shortly they moved us once more. This time to the high-walled yard of
the lunatic asylum, inside the city. As they marched us through the
streets we could see how beautiful the little capital of South Carolina
was. It had handsome shops and residences, and beautiful shade trees
everywhere gave it a most attractive appearance. It was almost the best
known city of the South and here the fatal heresy of secession had been
born. As we went along the streets a mob of people gathered around us,
hooting and hissing their hatred at us, just as they had done that
first time we were taken through the town. A few wanted the guards to
give them a chance to hang us. It was a sorry sight--this band of
ragged, helpless, hungry loyalists being led like slaves and animals
through the hooting, threatening crowd. That mob, thirsting for our
blood, did not dream what was about to happen.

Here now in Columbia we were walled in just as we had been at Macon, and
our lives continued in much the same hardship as before. Only here I do
not recall that any prisoner was murdered. It is right to say, too, that
the outrages so often committed on prisoners here and elsewhere in the
South were not by the regular Confederate soldiers, but by home guards
usually set over us. It seems now, when I recall it, that life was not
quite so bad here. We soon had some boards given us; so we built sheds
to live in. As for myself, I, with three or four comrades, lived in a
little wedge tent. It was very cold and midwinter now. I scarcely slept
at night, but walked about to keep warm. It was on one of these midnight
tramps that it occurred to me to write the song, "Sherman's March to the
Sea." I recur to it here because it gave its name to the great campaign
it celebrates.

The story of how it came to be written cannot perhaps be wholly without
interest. During the days that Sherman's army was tramping from Atlanta
toward Savannah we prisoners were not permitted to have any news from
the outside of any kind whatever. There was a fear that if we knew what
was going on a mutiny might follow. We were constantly being told by our
guards that Sherman's invading army was being headed off or destroyed.
In the beginning we feared these stories to be true, but the uneasy
actions and sullen looks of our captors soon began to belie their
statements. As said, three or four of us prisoners occupied a little
wedge tent. A negro had recently been allowed to come into the prison
pen mornings to sell bread to those who had any money with which to buy.
Our little mess got a small loaf now every morning; not more for the
bread, though we needed that badly enough, than for a certain little
roll of paper carefully hidden away in the middle of the loaf. It was a
Columbia morning newspaper printed on soft thin paper and of extremely
small size. Our loyal negro had easily enough been persuaded to hide a
copy of this paper in the bread for us as often as he could have the
chance unobserved. A knowing wink from him told us when to eat our loaf
of bread inside the tent and with one of us watching at the door while
another read in a low voice the news from the invading army. The paper
rolled up was not larger than a walnut.

It was full of misrepresentations and reports of disasters to Sherman,
to mislead the Georgians and lessen their alarm. Yet between the lines
we easily enough read that Sherman was surely marching on, and
victorious. His columns were coming nearer to us; and how we longed
night and day that he might capture the prison! At last we saw that
there was no hope. He was passing us,--though, but many miles away.

Then one morning, when we unrolled the little paper in the bread and
read it, we knew that _he had reached the sea_. Savannah had fallen. The
consternation of the Southerners was tremendous. But, next, they
pretended that they could box Sherman up in Savannah and capture his
whole army.

One December night when I was tramping up and down the prison pen in the
dark, trying to keep warm, I reflected on the tremendous importance of
what Sherman had done. And I wondered what so curious a campaign would
be called. It was not a series of battles--it was a great _march_. And
then the title, and almost the words, of the song came to me.

The next morning when my tent comrades were out of doors shivering over
a little fire I remained in our little heap of straw, and completed the
verses.

I went out to the fire and read them to my comrades. A Lieutenant
Rockwell happened to be present and asked permission to make a copy of
the verses. He, with many others, slept on the ground under the hospital
building. One had to crawl on his hands and knees to enter there. There
was a most capable Glee Club among the officers, and they had by some
means secured a flute, violins, and bass viol for accompaniments. They
kept their instruments under the house, too, where they slept.

Every afternoon this Glee Club was permitted to sing and play on the
little elevated porch of the hospital. The only condition was that
Southern songs should be sung, not less than Northern songs. There was
no trouble about that. The songs of our captors were better than no
songs. Besides, these singers made music. All the crowd of prisoners,
eight hundred now, often stood in front of the little porch to enjoy the
singing. Almost hundreds of the Rebels, too, together with many ladies
of Columbia, climbed up onto the walls, where the guards stood, and
applauded the singers as much as any.

One drizzly afternoon I was standing by a little persimmon tree in the
midst of the crowd listening to the songs, when Major Isett, leader of
the Glee Club, said: "Now we will have a song about Sherman." To my
astonishment, it was my "Sherman's March to the Sea."

It was received in a tremendous fashion. Everybody cheered and hurrahed.
The news of Sherman's victories was fresh upon them. In five minutes'
time the good fortune of my song was settled. The name of the author was
loudly called for; someone saw me by the little tree, and I was quickly
hauled to the front and up onto the platform. In a few moments an
unknown officer among the many prisoners became a sort of prison hero.

Everybody wanted the song, everybody sang it; and clever penmen made a
good thing making copies at twenty dollars apiece, Confederate money. As
a little compliment to me the captain of the prison allowed me to sleep
on the floor of the hospital room. To me that was important, as shall
appear. Later in this narrative, too, will be seen how an exchanged
prisoner, by the name of Tower, who had an artificial leg, carried the
song in this wooden limb through the lines to our soldiers in the North,
where it was sung everywhere and with demonstration. In a week it had
given its name to the campaign, and a million copies of it soon passed
into circulation.

Lieutenant Rockwell, who had asked my leave to copy the verses that
first morning, was a composer, and there in the dust under the old
hospital he had, unknown to me, written the first music to which the
song was ever sung. Later, it had many other settings, but that one,
though difficult, remained the best. The song has often since been sung
to the air of "The Red, White, and Blue." This is the history of the
song, which I print here as a part of this narrative.


    SHERMAN'S MARCH TO THE SEA

    Our camp fires shone bright on the mountains
      That frowned on the river below,
    While we stood by our guns in the morning
      And eagerly watched for the foe--
    When a rider came out from the darkness
      That hung over mountain and tree,
    And shouted, "Boys, up and be ready,
      For Sherman will march to the sea."

    Then cheer upon cheer for bold Sherman
      Went up from each valley and glen,
    And the bugles re-echoed the music
      That came from the lips of the men.
    For we knew that the stars in our banner
      More bright in their splendor would be,
    And that blessings from Northland would greet us
      When Sherman marched down to the sea.

    Then forward, boys, forward to battle,
      We marched on our wearisome way,
    And we stormed the wild hills of Resaca,--
      God bless those who fell on that day--
    Then Kenesaw, dark in its glory,
      Frowned down on the flag of the free,
    But the East and the West bore our standards,
      And Sherman marched on to the sea.

    Still onward we pressed, till our banners
      Swept out from Atlanta's grim walls,
    And the blood of the patriot dampened
      The soil where the traitor flag falls;
    But we paused not to weep for the fallen,
      Who slept by each river and tree;
    Yet we twined them a wreath of the laurel
      As Sherman marched down to the sea.

    O, proud was our army that morning
      That stood where the pine darkly towers,
    When Sherman said: "Boys, you are weary,
      This day fair Savannah is ours."
    Then sang we a song for our chieftain
      That echoed over river and lea,
    And the stars in our banner shown brighter
      When Sherman marched down to the sea.

    [SHERMAN'S MARCH TO THE SEA.--From _Eggleston's Famous War
    Ballads_.--General Sherman, in a recent conversation with the editor
    of this collection, declared that it was this poem with its phrase,
    "march to the sea," that threw a glamour of romance over the
    campaign which it celebrates. Said General Sherman: "The thing was
    nothing more or less than a change of base; an operation perfectly
    familiar to every military man, but a poet got hold of it, gave it
    the captivating label, 'The March to the Sea,' and the unmilitary
    public made a romance out of it." It may be remarked that the
    General's modesty overlooks the important fact that the romance lay
    really in his own deed of derring-do; the poet merely recorded it,
    or at most interpreted it to the popular intelligence. The glory of
    the great campaign was Sherman's and his army's; the joy of
    celebrating it was the poet's; the admiring memory of it is the
    people's.--EDITOR.]

As stated, I slept nights now on the floor of the prison hospital. This
added comfort, however, did not tempt me to stay in prison, if I could
get away. Once more we heard that the prisoners were to be carted away
to some safer place, out of the line of Sherman's army, now turned North
and moving rapidly toward us. A night or two before this move of
prisoners really commenced Lieutenant Devine of Philadelphia joined me
in an effort to get away. The walls of the least used room of the
hospital were made of joined boards. By the use of an old case knife,
hacked into a saw, or auger, we managed to cut a hole sufficiently large
to permit us to pull ourselves through and out into an attic above a
little porch. We repaired the boards as best we could and crept out
into the dark hole. It was the attic of the same porch on which our Glee
Club stood when they sang my song. It was a little cramped up place we
were in, where we could neither sit erect nor lie at full length. There
were no guards inside the prison hospital; the night was very dark; the
sick prisoners seemed to be sleeping. A dim lamp hung from the ceiling.
We were not detected. The next night at midnight, when the prisoners
were being marched away, two of them were missing. What a night and day
and part of another night that was for us, crooked and cramped as we
were, in the top of that little porch.

At the next midnight, when every soul, prisoners, guards and all, seemed
to be gone far away and dead silence was upon the place, Devine and I
crept down from our hiding place. The big gate was closed and locked. By
the aid of a scantling I managed to get up onto the high brick wall. My
surprise was immense to see guards waiting for us outside, and to know
that we were discovered. One of the guards rushed up to his post at the
top of the wall, but he was too late to shoot; we were already in hiding
among the empty board huts and barracks.[B]

   [B] When springing down from the top of that wall I lost my shoes--I
   had had them in my hand. I also let fall from my pocket the pages of
   this diary. I could not think of losing them, and at the risk of my
   life I slipped over the dead line and from under the guard's very
   feet, I snatched them up and ran behind one of the huts.

In a moment the big gate opened and a hundred men rushed in, looking for
the escaping Yankees. They howled, they cursed at us, they set the
barracks on fire. Then amid the mêlée and excitement in the dark my
comrade and myself pulled our gray blankets about us, picked up a water
bucket each, and pushed up to the guard at the gate. We were "going for
water," we said. "The lieutenant says the fire must be put out." Without
waiting a reply we hurried out in the darkness. There were some vain
shots after us.

Shortly we heard the tramp of horses coming toward us. A friendly
culvert in the road into which we dodged afforded us protection while a
whole company of Johnny Rebs rode over our heads. What would they have
thought, that night, had they known it as they went skipping along with
arms and jingling sabers, to confront Sherman's advance guards?

We were gone. After a while, in the outskirts of the city, we saw a
light in a cabin and a negro walking up and down by the window. Every
negro we knew to be a loyal friend. This one we called out among some
rose bushes in the dooryard. Instantly, and without fear, we told him
who we were and that we were in his power. There is not a question but
he would have been well rewarded had he betrayed us to the Confederate
soldiers in the city that night. Few words were spoken. That morning two
escaped prisoners were secreted under some bean stalks in the garret of
the negro's cabin. The negro's sick wife lay in the single room below.
Had we been discovered now that negro would have been hanged from his
own door lintel. And well he knew it.

Sherman's army was already pounding at the gates of the town. He was
crossing the river and his shells reached to the capital. This much we
knew from what we could hear in the yard below, for the negro's cabin
stood at the edge of a green lawn where General Chestnut had his
headquarters. We broke a little hole through the siding of the house,
and now could see what the general and his staff were doing. We also
could hear much that was said. Once we thought ourselves discovered, for
we observed two or three of the general's negro servants standing in a
group on the grass looking steadily toward the spot where our little
improvised window was. What on earth were they looking at?

It was not much the old negro could give us to eat. A little dried beef
and some cold corn bread; that was all, save that once he brought us a
gallon of buttermilk. He had no cow, but he would not tell us where
this, to us, heavenly nectar had come from.

There was much hurrying of officers back and forth at General Chestnut's
headquarters, and plainly we could see there was great excitement. Our
own negro was kept going back and forth into the town to pick up for us
whatever news he could of the fight going on at the river. After awhile
the cannonading grew louder, and it seemed to us the conflict must be
right at the outskirts of the town. Then we saw General Chestnut
hurriedly ride on to the headquarter's lawn, and we distinctly heard him
say to an officer, "Sherman has got a bridge down. The game's up. We
must evacuate." In a few minutes the sound of the guns increased, and
then we saw General Chestnut call his slaves to him to bid them
farewell. It was a touching scene, amid the dramatic surroundings. He
seemed very kind, and some of them in their ignorance wept. "You will be
free," he said. "Be good." I thought, he too was affected as he mounted
his horse and, followed by his staff, rode away. He was hardly out of
sight when our negro protector came running toward the cabin. He was
tremendously excited. A tall, old cylinder hat he had picked up on the
way was on his head, his eyes bulged out, his hands waved like
windmills; he was celebrating. In a moment the black face and the
cylinder hat shot up the ladder and through the hatch-way to where we
were.

"God Almighty be thanked!" he cried in a loud voice. "Massa, the Stars
and Stripes are waving above the capital of South Carolina. Praise to
the God Almighty!"

Sure enough, Union troops, had entered, and a flag from my own State had
been run up on the State House. Instantly we bade him hurry and bring
some Union soldiers to us. In his absence Devine and I stood shaking
each other's hands and thanking God for our deliverance. No slave who
had his chains knocked off that day by the coming of the Union army felt
more thankful than we, freed from the wretchedness and horrors of
fifteen months of imprisonment. Now we could see the Confederate cavalry
evacuating the town. Whole companies passed, each trooper having a sheaf
of oats slung to his saddle bow. Shortly our black friend returned, and
with him two Union soldiers. "It is time to drink, boys," they cried
out, as they fairly forced us to partake of the whisky in their
canteens. When we all went down into the yard I was sure we would be
recaptured, for the Rebel rear-guard was passing close to our cabin. The
flying troops, however, had fish of their own to fry, and were in too
much haste to be looking after us. Now, too, we were surrounded by
General Chestnut's black servants, who were hopping about, giving thanks
for their freedom. I asked one of them what it was they had been looking
at so attentively the day before, when I had seen them gazing right at
our hiding-place. "Ha ha! massa! we just knowed you was up there all the
time. Reckon you didn't like that ar buttermilk what we'uns sent you."
Our negro friend then had made confidents of them, and we had been fed,
without knowing it, on some of the good things from General Chestnut's
kitchen. Should the general ever read this little book, I hope he will
cease wondering what became of his buttermilk that day at Columbia.

Now, our two soldiers escorted us to a street where some of the army had
halted and stacked arms. A Union flag hung over a stack of muskets, and
no human being will ever know with what thankful heart-beatings and
tears we gathered its silken folds into our arms. Now we knew that we
were free. The terrible days were indeed over, and God's rainbow
illumined our sky.

In half an hour the victorious veterans of Sherman's army, their great
leader riding before, with bands playing and banners flying, entered the
captured city. My comrade and I stood on a high door-step and saw them
pass. Someone pointed us out to Sherman, and for a moment the whole
moving army was halted till he greeted the freed prisoners. We two
comrades lived a month in that short seventeenth day of February, 1865,
in Columbia. I think we shook hands with a thousand soldiers, even with
many soldiers we had never seen before. It seemed to us that everybody
must be as glad to see us as we were to see them.

That night Columbia was burned to the ground amid untold horrors. The
conflagration had commenced from bales of cotton that the enemy had
fired and left in the street to prevent falling into the Union hands. A
big wind rose toward evening and the burning cotton flakes were flying
all over the city. It was a terrible spectacle that night. My comrade
and I walked about the streets till nearly morning. Whole squares and
streets were crumbling to ashes and tall buildings tumbled down
everywhere. Here and there, too, there was a terrific explosion. It was
Moscow done over on a smaller scale. A division of Union troops, under
Hazen, was sent into the town to fight the flames and to arrest every
man discovered firing houses or walking around without a pass. So it
happened that my comrade and myself, though but innocent spectators,
were at midnight arrested and taken to provost headquarters. We very
soon explained ourselves and were released and sent to comfortable
quarters, where we slept till late the next day. It was four nights
since we had had any sleep at all.

But the sights of that awful night will never fade from my memory. Most
of the citizens of Columbia had sons or relations in the Rebel army.
Half of them were dead, the army itself was flying everywhere, and in
the blackness of this terrible night their fortunes were all lost, their
homes were all burning up. Many wandered about wringing their hands and
crying; some sat stolid and speechless in the street watching everything
that they had go to destruction. A few wandered around, wholly demented.
Some of the invading soldiers tried earnestly to extinguish the flames;
others broke into houses and added to the conflagration. Numbers of the
Federal prisoners, who only a few weeks before had been marched through
the streets like felons, had escaped, and what average human nature led
them to do never will be known. There were fearful things going on
everywhere. It was reported that an explosion occurred in one house and
that twenty-four soldiers, carousing there, were lost in the ruins. Most
of the people of Columbia would have been willing to have died that
night, then and there. What had they left to live for? _This, too, was
war._

When the army entered in the afternoon, Lieutenant Devine and I, as
related, stood on the high steps of a mansion and watched it pass.
Shortly after a very charming young woman, a Mrs. C----, seeing us, came
down and invited us into her father's house and gave us food. It was the
first real food we had had for many, many months. The lady's father was
a rich jeweler, and, though a Southerner, was a Union man. Her own
husband, however, was somewhere in the Southern army. My comrade and I
spent an entertaining hour in the mansion, and then went and walked
about the city.

At six o'clock the awful cry, "The town is burning up, the town is
burning up!" was heard everywhere. Devine and I at once thought of Mrs.
C----and our friends of the afternoon, and hurried to their home to
offer help. The flames were already across the street from there. Mrs.
C----'s father was weeping in the drawing-room. Once he took me by the
arm and led me to where we could see his own business establishment
burning to the ground. "There goes the savings of a life," said he, in
bitterness. "There is what the curse of secession has done for us; there
is what Wade Hampton and the other political firebrands have done for
South Carolina." My comrade and I at once began carrying some of the
more valuable goods out of the house for them, doing everything possible
to help them save some remnant from their beautiful and luxurious home.
We ran up and down the mansion stairs until we were almost dead with
exhaustion. Everything we could save we piled into a phaeton that stood
by the yard. Once the lady cried that her child was still in the house,
burning up. Her shrieks pierced even the noise of that fearful night.
Her alarm was without cause, for I soon found the child safe in the arms
of a faithful slave nurse. She had simply carried it out of danger.

When the walls of the house seemed about to fall, Devine and I took the
loaded buggy, he pulling in the shafts, I pushing behind, and, followed
by the weeping family on foot, we drew it for a mile or more to the
outer edge of the town. Here we left them in safety by a little wood,
yet not knowing if we would ever see them again. Many of our soldiers
were burnt up that night.

The next day Sherman's army left the ruins of the city behind them and
marched away. They had, however, left supplies of rations for their
unfortunate enemies. A train of empty wagons was also furnished for
those fugitives who wished to follow the army and work their way North.
Hundreds, possibly thousands, left the smoking ruins of their homes and
traveled along with us in every conceivable conveyance that was heard
of. Black and white, slave and free, rich and poor, joined in the
procession behind the army. Mrs. C---- and her father's family were
among them.

I now tried to find my regiment. It was gone. Many battles and many
marches had so decimated it that the little fragment left had been
disbanded and transferred into a regiment of cavalry.

Colonel Silsby, of the Tenth Iowa, offered me a place with his mess. I
accepted. The Colonel, as it happened, had charge of perhaps a hundred
prisoners, captured on the march. Naturally, I was interested to go
among them. I soon saw how much better they fared than I had done when
in Southern hands. Two or three of them, as it happened, had been among
the guards who had treated us so badly while we were in the prison known
as "Camp Sorghum," outside of Columbia. They were perfectly terrified
when they learned that I had been there under their charge. They seemed
to fear instant and awful retaliation; but I thought of nothing of the
kind. I was too glad just to be free to be thinking of any vengeance.

A curious incident now happened. This was the discovery, among these
prisoners, of the husband of the young Mrs. C---- who had given us food
in Columbia and whose belongings I and my comrade had tried to save. He
was overjoyed to learn from me that his wife and child were at least
alive. I instantly went to General Logan, and related to him how this
man's family had been kind to me the day that I escaped. I had no
trouble in securing his release. It was at Logan's headquarters, too,
that I had secured money and an order for provisions to give to Edward
Edwards, the black man who had been the means of my final rescue. His
sick wife had kept him behind, else he would have followed the army. We
left him in Columbia. Years later, as a sign of my gratitude toward this
slave, I dedicated a little volume to him, in which I had described my
prison life.



CHAPTER XIV

  The army in the Carolinas--General Sherman sends for me--Gives me a
    place on his staff--Experiences at army headquarters--Sherman's life
    on the march--Music at headquarters--Logan's violin--The General's
    false friend--The army wades, swims, and fights through the
    Carolinas--I am sent as a despatch bearer to General Grant--A
    strange ride down the Cape Fear River in the night--General
    Terry--Learn that my song "The March to the Sea" is sung through the
    North, and has given the campaign its name--I bring the first news
    of Sherman's successes to the North--An interview with General
    Grant.


It was on this march in the Carolinas that General Sherman sent for me
to come to army headquarters. We were two days away from Columbia. I was
ashamed to go in my prison rags, so I waited. The next day the request
was repeated, and Major Nichols of the staff came and said, "But you
must go, it is an order." And I went. The General was sitting by a
little rail fire in front of his tent, reading a newspaper, when we
approached his bivouac in the woods. I was introduced. He at once told
me how pleased he had been with my song, that I had written in prison
about his army. Devine had given him a copy at that time when he halted
his column to greet us by the door-step at Columbia. "Our boys shall all
sing this song," he said; "and as for you, I shall give you a position
on my staff. Tomorrow you will be furnished a horse and all that you
need; and you must mess with me."

It would be very hard to express my feelings at this sudden transition
from a prisoner in rags to a post at the headquarters of the great
commander. I was almost overcome, but General Sherman's extreme kindness
of manner and speech at last put me partly at my ease. Shortly a big
colored man, in a green coat, announced dinner. "Come," said the
General, pushing me ahead of him into a tent, where a number of
handsomely uniformed staff officers stood around a table waiting his
approach. I was still in my rags. I could not help noticing the curious
glances of the fine gentlemen, who doubtless were wondering what General
Sherman had picked up now.

My embarrassment was extreme. The commander however soon told them who I
was, gave me the seat at his right hand, and almost his entire
conversation at the table was directed to me. The officers of the staff
quickly took the General's cue, and I was soon an object of interest,
even to them.

He directed a hundred questions to me as to the general treatment of
war prisoners in the South, and he, as well as the staff, interested
themselves in all the details of my escape. Telling the story very soon
relieved me of my embarrassment as to my clothes. The horrible tales of
Southern prison pens, however, was nothing new to General Sherman, for
he related to me some of the awful things he had heard of Andersonville
while his army was at Atlanta.

"At one time," said he, "I had great hopes of rescuing all of them at
one quick blow. I gave General Stoneman a large body of cavalry, with
directions to raid down about Macon. This raid was to go farther, and,
by a quick, secret dash capture Andersonville and release every prisoner
there. It was a chance to do the noblest deed of the war, but it all
failed miserably. Stoneman had not fully obeyed orders, and, instead of
releasing a whole army of suffering captives, he got captured himself,
and, with him, a lot of my best cavalry."

It happened that I saw General Stoneman the very day he was brought to
the prison. My narrative of how by desperately bold and violent cursing
he denounced and defied his captors, and everything in Rebeldom, greatly
amused Sherman and all at the table.

Stoneman's awful language and flashing eyes did indeed fairly
intimidate the officer in charge. Evidently he thought he had captured a
tiger. It was a wonder Stoneman was not killed.

The conversation about the prisoners continued. Twenty-five thousand of
them were starving and dying in Andersonville. "It is one of the awful
fates of war," said the General. "It can't be helped; they would have
been better off had all been killed on the battlefield; and one almost
wishes they had been." After a pause, he continued. "At times, I am
almost satisfied it would be just as well to _kill all prisoners_." The
remark, to me, a prisoner just escaped, seemed shocking. I am sure he
noticed it, for he soon added: "They would be spared these atrocities.
Besides, _the more awful you can make war the sooner it will be over_."

It would, after all, be a mercy.

"_War is hell, at the best_," he went on, half in anger, and using an
expression common to him.

For the moment I thought him heartless, but other remarks made to me,
and to the staff, soon told us that whatever the cruelties imposed on
him as a commander, they were executed with heart-pain and only as plain
duty for the salvation of his own army. He even talked of how glad he
would be to be out of the whole bloody business, once the Union were
restored. But if the rebellion continued all his life, he would stay and
fight it out.

When the dinner was over each looked about him to find some garment to
give me. This one had an extra coat, that one a pair of trousers, and
another one a hat. In short I was quickly attired in a rather
respectable uniform.

This matter was just about ended when a beautiful woman was conducted to
Sherman, to ask protection for her home, that was in his line of march.
She was "true blue Union," despite her surroundings. In a moment the
whole atmosphere about the tent was changed. The red-handed warrior, who
a moment before was ready to kill even prisoners, suddenly became the
most amiable, the most gallant and knightly looking man I ever saw.
Beauty, that can draw a soldier with a single hair, had ensnared the
great commander. He had become a gentle knight. The whole army if need
be, would stand stock still to do her one little favor. I now recall how
long after the war I noticed a hundred times this perfectly knightly
gallantry of Sherman toward all women.

This one particular woman seemed a hundred times more beautiful, more
fascinating, there in the green wood alone, with an army of a hundred
thousand strangers about her, when, pointing her hand toward a great
banner that swung in the wind between two tall pines, she smiled and
cried: "General Sherman, THAT IS MY FLAG TOO." There was a clapping of
hands from all of us, and any one of us would have been glad to be sent
as the protector of her home.

The great army was now marching, or rather swimming and wading, in the
direction of Fayetteville, N. C. There were heavy rains and the country,
naturally swampy, was flooded everywhere. I soon learned from the staff
where the army had already been. After the end of the march to the sea
and the capture of Savannah, Sherman had started in with sixty thousand
men, to treat South Carolina in the manner he had treated Georgia--march
through it and desolate it. His proposed march northward from Savannah
was regarded by the Southern generals as an impossibility. The obstacles
were so great as to make it a hundred times as difficult as his march
from Atlanta to the sea. But he led a great army of picked veterans,
accustomed to everything, whose flags had almost never known defeat.
Their confidence in their general and in themselves was simply absolute.
So far, in their march from Savannah they had hesitated at nothing.

It was midwinter, and yet that army had often waded in swamps with the
cold water waist deep, carrying their clothes and their muskets on their
heads. Half the roads they followed had to be corduroyed, or their
horses would all have been lost in the bottomless mire and swamps. Often
their artillery was for miles pulled along by the men themselves, and
that in the face of the enemy, hidden behind every stream, and ready to
ambush them at every roadside. Over all these infamous wagon roads,
across all these bridgeless rivers and endless swamps, our army now
dragged with it a train of sixty-nine cannon, twenty-five hundred
six-mule wagons, and six hundred ambulances. The tremendous obstacles
they encountered before reaching Columbia they were again to encounter
beyond. Not a bridge was left on any creek or river in the Carolinas.
Roads were built of poles and logs through swamps ten miles wide.
Sherman's army had few rations and no tents. The foragers brought in all
the food they could pick up near the line of march. The little rubber
blankets the soldiers carried were their sole protection from storm.
They were almost shoeless. There were not a dozen full tents in the
army. Officers used tent flies sometimes, but oftener simply rolled
themselves up in their blankets, as their men did. At army headquarters
we had but one large tent, used generally for dining under; so we
usually slept in deserted cabins at the roadside.

I recall one fearfully stormy night when the General and his staff had
all crept into a little church we found in the woods. The General would
not accept the bit of carpet one of us had improvised into a bed for him
on the pulpit platform. "No," he said, "keep that for some of you young
fellows who are not well." He then stretched himself out on a wooden
bench for the night. I think he never removed his uniform during the
campaign. Day and night he was alert, and seemed never to be really
asleep. We of the staff now had little to do save carrying orders
occasionally to other commanders.

General Sherman did most of his own writing, and he wrote a rapid,
beautiful hand. We had breakfast by the light of the campfire almost
every morning, and were immediately in the saddle, floundering along
through the mud, always near to, or quite at, the head of the army. At
noon we always dismounted and ate a simple lunch at the roadside,
sometimes washed down by a little whisky. Now and then some one of the
army, recognizing the General riding past, would give a cheer that would
be taken up by brigades and divisions a mile away. There seemed to be
something peculiar about this Sherman cheer, for soldiers far off would
cry out: "Listen to them cheering Billy Sherman."

On the 3d of March we took Cheraw, and twenty-four cannon, also nearly
four thousand barrels of gunpowder. That day General Logan, General
Howard, General Kilpatrick, General Hazen, and many other notables came
to headquarters. There was a jolly time of rejoicing.

Here General Logan, who could play the violin, entertained them by
singing my song of "Sherman's March to the Sea," accompanying his voice
with the instrument. A dozen famous generals joined in the chorus. After
the singing, Logan insisted that I should also recite the poem. I did
so, meeting with great applause from the very men who had been the
leaders in the great "March." Alas! save one or two, they are now all
dead.

Among the captures that day had been eight wagonloads of fine, old wine.
It was now distributed among the different headquarters of the Union
army, and as a result some of the said headquarters were pretty nearly
drunk. One of our staff, at dinner the next day, attempted to explain
his condition of the day before. "Never mind explaining," said General
Sherman crustily, and without looking up, "but only see that the like of
that does not happen again; that is all." That staff officer was a very
sober man the rest of the campaign.

While we were lying there in Cheraw we heard an awful explosion; the
very earth shook. I supposed it to be an earthquake until a messenger
brought word that a lot of captured gunpowder had exploded and killed
and wounded twenty soldiers.

As we were crossing on our pontoons over the Pedee River at Cheraw I
noticed a singular way of punishing army thieves. An offender of this
kind stood on the bridge, guarded by two sentinels. He was inside of a
barrel that had the ends knocked out. On the barrel in big letters were
the words: "I am a thief." The whole army corps passed close by him. An
occasional man indulged in some joke at his expense, but the body of
soldiers affected not to see him. The day we entered Cheraw General
Sherman and his staff rode through the country alone for ten miles,
going across from one column to another. It was a hazardous ride, as the
whole country was full of guerrillas. But nothing of note happened to
us.

On the 8th of March the headquarters staff was bivouacked in the woods
near Laurel Hill. The army was absolutely cut off from everywhere. It
had no base; it was weeks since Sherman had heard from the North or
since the North had heard from him. Now he resolved to try to get a
courier with a message through to Wilmington, at the seaside. An
experienced spy by the name of Pike was selected to float down the Cape
Fear River to ask the commander to try to send a tugboat up, to
communicate with the army. I did not know then that the next one to run
down Cape Fear River would be myself.

In four days we had taken Fayetteville and its wonderful arsenal, built
years before by the American people, and where now half the war supplies
of the Rebel army were made.

When the General and his staff first rode into Fayetteville headquarters
were established in the arsenal. The General, wishing to look about the
town for an hour or so, left me in charge. The other officers rode away
with him. Very shortly a well-dressed, fine-looking old Southerner came
to me and complained that his home was being disturbed by some of our
soldiers. He was, he said, an old West Point friend of General
Sherman's. While waiting the return of the commander, he regaled me with
incidents of their early days together in the North and with his
intimacies with one who would now doubtless be overwhelmed with joy at
seeing him. He begged me to observe what would be his reception when the
General should come. Impressed by his conversation, I at once sent a
soldier or two to guard his home.

Shortly after General Sherman rode in through the arsenal portal and
dismounted. The Southerner advanced with open arms, and for a moment
there was a ray of pleasure illuminating Sherman's face. Then he went
and leaned against a column, and, turning to the Southerner, said, "Yes,
we were long together, weren't we?" "Yes," answered the Southerner,
delighted. "You shared my friendship, shared my bread, even, didn't
you?" continued Sherman. "Indeed, indeed!" the Southerner replied, with
increasing warmth. The General gave the Southerner a long, steady,
almost pathetic look, and answered, "You have betrayed it all; me, your
friend, your country that educated you for its defense. You are here a
traitor, and you ask me to be again your friend, to protect your
property, to send you these brave men, some of whose comrades were
murdered by your neighbors this very morning--fired on from hidden
houses by you and yours as they entered the town. Turn your back to me
forever. I will not punish you; only go your way. There is room in the
world even for traitors." The Southerner turned ashy white and walked
away from us in silence. Sherman sat down with the rest of us to our
noonday lunch. We sat about the portal on stones, or barrels, or
whatever happened to answer for seats. The General could scarcely eat.
Never had I seen him under such emotion; the corners of his mouth
twitched as he continued talking to us of this false friend. The hand
that held the bread trembled and for a moment tears were in his eyes.
For a little while we all sat in silence, and we realized as never
before what treason to the republic really meant. The General spoke as
if he, nor we, might ever live through it all.

Very soon General Howard rode in to complain anew of the outrages
committed on our troops by men firing from windows as they passed along
the streets. Two or three soldiers had been killed. "Who did this
outrage?" cried Sherman, in a loud and bitter voice, "Texans, I think,"
answered General Howard. "Then shoot some Texan prisoners in
retaliation," said Sherman sternly. "We have no Texans," replied Howard,
not inclined, apparently, to carry out the serious, but just order.
"Then take other prisoners, take any prisoners," continued General
Sherman. "I will not permit my soldiers to be murdered." He turned on
his heel and walked away. Howard mounted and rode into the town. What
happened, I do not know.

On Sunday morning General Sherman asked me to take a walk with him
through the immense arsenal of Fayetteville before he should blow it up.
We were gone an hour, and I was surprised at his great familiarity with
all the machinery and works of the immense establishment. He talked
constantly and explained many things to me. Never more than at that time
was I impressed with the universal knowledge, the extraordinary genius,
of the man. There seemed to be nothing there he did not understand. On
our way back to headquarters I heard him give the order to destroy
everything, to burn the arsenal down, blow it up, to leave absolutely
nothing, and he added the prayer that the American government might
never again give North Carolina an arsenal and forts to betray. He was
very angry now at those who had used the United States property in their
desire to destroy the government itself. He had seen nothing in the war
that seemed so treasonable, unless it was the base ingratitude of those
who entered the service of the Rebellion after having been educated at
West Point at the Government's expense.

Pretty soon he said to me: "If I can get any kind of a boat up here, I
am going to have you try to reach Wilmington with dispatches." Almost at
that minute a steam whistle sounded in the woods below us. "There it
is," said the General joyfully. "Pike got through." Very soon someone
came running to say a communication had come from the seashore; a little
tug had run the Rebel gauntlet all the way from Wilmington.

We went in to lunch and the General announced to the staff his intention
of sending me down the river, and off to General Grant with dispatches.
This chance to get word of his movements and his successes to General
Grant and the North was of vast importance, and it moved him greatly. He
left his lunch half finished and commenced writing letters and reports
to the commander-in-chief. That evening at twilight General Sherman
walked with me down to the riverside where the little tug lay waiting.
"When you reach the North," he said, putting his arm around me, "don't
tell them we have been cutting any great swath in the Carolinas; simply
tell them the plain facts; tell them that the army is not lost, but is
well, and still marching." So careful was I as to his injunctions, that
even the newspapers at Washington never knew how the great news from
Sherman reached the North.

I did not know then, starting down the river with my message, that it
was to be seven years before I was again to see the face of my beloved
commander.

The Cape Fear River was flooded at this time, a mile wide, in places
even more, and though its banks were lined with guerrillas there could
not be great danger, if we could stay in the middle of the stream,
unless our little boat should get wrecked in the darkness by floating
trees or by running into shallow places. The lights were all put out.
The pilot house and the sides of the boat were covered by bales of
cotton, to protect us against the Rebel bullets. My dispatches to
General Grant were carefully sewed up inside my shirt, and were
weighted, so that I could hastily sink them in the river should we be
captured. A half dozen refugees from Columbia joined us. Among them was
the Mrs. C----, whose property Devine and I had tried to save the night
of the fire. It was a curious and dangerous voyage down that roaring,
flooded river for a woman to be undertaking in the darkness, but this
woman had now undertaken many dangers. Another of my companions on that
strange voyage was Theodore Davis, a corresponding artist of _Harper's
Weekly_. We kept the boat in the channel as far as we could guess it,
and, for the rest, simply floated in the darkness. We went through
undiscovered; not a shot fired at us. Before daylight, so swift had been
the current, we were in Wilmington.

General Terry had just taken Wilmington and was in command of the city.
Some of my dispatches were for him. He was still in bed, in one of the
fine residences of the place, but instantly arose and urged me to jump
into bed and get some rest while he should arrange to get me immediate
transportation to Grant. I slept till nine, and when I came down to the
drawing-room, now used as headquarters, General Terry asked if perhaps
it were I who wrote the song about Sherman's March from Atlanta seaward.
It had been sung at the theater the night before, he said. I was much
gratified to have him tell me that the whole army had taken it up. "Tens
of thousands of men," he said, "were singing it." I knew, as already
told, that an exchanged prisoner had brought the song through the Rebel
lines in an artificial leg he wore, but it was an agreeable surprise to
now learn of its sudden and tremendous success.

General Terry impressed me as the handsomest soldier I had seen in the
army--McPherson, the commander of my own corp, only excepted. He was,
too, a refined and perfect gentleman. Looking at him I thought of the
cavaliers of romance. Here was real knighthood, born and bred in the
soil of the republic. The laurels for his heroic capture of Fort Fisher
were fresh on his brow.

Before noon an ocean steamer, the _Edward Everett_, was ordered to take
me at once to Fortress Monroe. Two of my army friends went along. The
captain, leaving on so short notice, had provided his ship with
insufficient ballast, and to me, a landsman, the vessel's lurchings were
very astonishing. I had never seen the ocean before, and it was not long
till I wished I might never see it again. To add to my alarm, a fierce
tempest sprang up as we passed around Cape Hatteras, and the danger was
no longer imaginary, but very real. The few passengers on the boat might
as well have been dead, so far as any self-help was to be thought of in
case of disaster. Even the captain was very seasick, and, altogether,
passengers and crew were badly scared. For many hours it was nothing but
a fierce blow and a roll about on the mad waters. All things come to an
end; so did this storm, and at last we reached Fortress Monroe, where I
was hurriedly transferred by some sailors in a yawl over to a boat that
had already started up the James toward Richmond. Our captain had
signaled that he had a dispatch bearer from the Carolinas. We had not
gone far until we passed the top of a ship's mast sticking a few feet
above the water. It was the mast of the _Cumberland_, that had gone down
in her fight with the _Merrimac_ with as brave a crew as ever manned a
war boat.

The steamer I was now on was crowded with officers in bright uniforms,
apparently returning to their regiments. I wondered if all the Eastern
army had been home on a furlough. I could not help contrasting to myself
this ship full of sleek, brightly uniformed officers with the
rough-clad soldiers and officers of the army of Sherman. Sherman's
foragers and veterans of the March to the Sea might have cut an awkward
figure alongside these gay youths just from Washington.

In the afternoon the ship came to at City Point, and I climbed up the
bank of the river bluff for perhaps a hundred feet, and was soon
directed to the headquarters of the commander-in-chief of the United
States armies.

When I reached the open door of Grant's famous little cabin a young
officer asked me to come in, and was introducing me to the chief of
staff, Rawlins, who stood there with some letters in his hands. That
instant General Grant showed his face at the door in the back of the
room. I knew who it was at once. He stepped forward to where General
Rawlins was speaking with me, listened to the conversation a moment, and
without any formal introduction, smiled, took me by the hand and led me
into the back room of the cabin shutting the door behind us. He asked me
to sit down, but I first proceeded to rip the dispatches out of my
clothing, and with intense interest watched his features while he sat on
a camp stool by the window, his legs crossed, and read Sherman's letter.
I could see the glow of silent satisfaction as he glanced along the
lines that told of his great lieutenant's successes in the South. He
glanced at another letter I held in my hand. "It is for the President,"
I said. "He will be here yet to-night," he answered. "His boat must now
be coming up the bay."

Then General Grant questioned me as to all I knew about Sherman's army,
the character of the opposition he had met, the condition of his
soldiers, their clothing, the roads, the weather. He also asked me how I
had reached him with the dispatches, coming all the way from the
interior of North Carolina. He seemed to have thought for a moment that
I had come across Virginia on foot. He wanted to know of me again about
the terrible treatment of prisoners in the South. What I told him only
"confirmed," he said, what he had heard from a hundred sources.

Very shortly he heard the voice of General Ord in the outer room.

"Come in here, Ord," he said, holding the door open. "Come in and hear
the news from Sherman. Look at that, listen to this," and again he went
through Sherman's letter, reading parts of it aloud. "Good! Good!" cried
Ord, fairly dancing about the cabin, his spurs and saber jingling. "I
was really getting afraid." "Not I, not I, not a bit," exclaimed Grant
enthusiastically, as he rose to his feet. "_I knew my man. I knew
General Sherman._"

I was astonished now at the simple and perfectly frank manner with which
General Grant talked to me about the situation of the army. I had
ventured to ask if there was any outlook for the immediate fall of
Richmond or a battle.

"Very great," he answered. "I am only afraid Lee may slip out before we
can get a great blow at him. Any hour this may happen." Just then there
was cannonading. I wondered if a fight were commencing somewhere in the
line already. General Grant did not change a muscle in his face. "Send
out and see what the firing is," he said to an officer quietly, and then
as quietly continued talking, asking me to tell him all I knew of a
recent escapade of Kilpatrick and his cavalry. It happened that I knew
all about it. Only a couple of weeks before Kilpatrick and his
headquarters had been surprised in bed at a bivouac on the flank of
Sherman's army, and were surrounded and some were captured. By a heroic
struggle the cavalry leader had escaped his captors, had instantly
rallied his troops there in the dark woods and given the bold Rebels a
little drubbing. The next day I had been with Sherman at headquarters
and listened to Kilpatrick's recital of his adventure. My own narration
of the night's cavalry fight, reciting how the cavalrymen and his aids
dashed about with nothing on but their shirts, made General Grant smile
very audibly. "I had expected the whole thing to be about as you say,"
he exclaimed, in a grateful way, "but the Richmond newspapers which fell
into my hands made a big thing of the so-called capture of Sherman's
cavalry leader."

Once, as the General rose and stood directly in front of us, I was
astonished to see how small he seemed. I had seen Grant before, but on
horseback or in battle, and, somehow, I had always regarded him as a
rather large, solidly built man. To-day in the little back room of his
cabin, talking with him, I saw how mistaken I had been. General Grant,
as I now saw him, was, in fact, a little man. Several times he rose and
walked about the room. He was not more than five feet seven or eight
inches high, and he could not have weighed more than one hundred and
forty or fifty pounds. He wore a simple fatigue uniform, and his coat
thrown open gave him the appearance of being larger chested than he
really was. His brown hair was neither short nor long, and he wore a
full beard, well trimmed. Had I not known to whom I was talking, or had
I not seen the three stars on his shoulders, I would have supposed
myself in the presence of some simple army captain. There was nothing
whatever about him to announce the presence of genius or extraordinary
ability of any kind. He was in no sense a striking-looking man. His
manner and words to me were kind and earnest. There was an agreeable
look about his mouth and eyes that made him seem very sincere. Indeed,
if any one thing about him impressed me more than another, it was his
apparent sincerity and earnestness. And he looked to me like a man of
great common sense. Of vanity, pretence, or power there was not a single
sign. He could not have looked very greatly different when he was hewing
logs for his house at his father-in-law's farm ten years before, from
what he looked just now, quietly directing a million soldiers in the
greatest war of modern times.

Like General Sherman, he repeatedly expressed his interest concerning
the terrible experiences I had undergone in Southern prisons.

"I suppose you will want to get home as quickly as possible, won't you?"
he inquired, "or would you rather remain here awhile and look about the
army?" A steamer was to leave for the North in an hour. Privately, I was
fearing a sudden break-down of my health, and longed for a home that I
had visited but eight days during four long years of war. Then I thought
of my letter to Mr. Lincoln. The General seemed to anticipate my
thought. "Leave the President's letter with me," he said, "if you
choose, and I will give it to him, or stay over and give it to him
yourself."

There was no man living I was so anxious to see as Abraham Lincoln. And
this was my opportunity. But something like a premonition said, "Go
home." When I expressed my feeling General Grant stepped to the door of
the office room and directed General Rawlins to see that I be provided
with leave of absence and transportation. That little order, signed by
Rawlins, I still possess.

With an earnest handshake and good-by General Grant thanked me for
bringing him the dispatches. I was not to see him again for many
years.[C]

   [C] At the town of Lucerne in Switzerland there is in front of the
   Schweizerhof a quay lined with castanien trees. It overlooks the
   beautiful lake. Long years after the war General Grant sat there on a
   bench one quiet summer night and talked to me of the time I brought
   the news to him from Sherman in the Carolinas. In a few weeks from
   that night by the lakeside I had the honor of entertaining my old
   commander at my own home, in the city of Zurich, where I was now
   representing the government as one of his appointees. The order
   naming me to go to Zurich had, on a certain time, been written by his
   own hand.

   This night at Zurich proved to be almost the last time I was ever to
   see the great commander. His presence and words that evening are
   among the treasured memories of my life.



CHAPTER XV

  Washington City in the last days of the war--Look, the
    President!--_The last man of the regiment._


Leaving General Grant's headquarters at City Point was for me a final
good-by to the army. The little steamer _Martin_ carried me down the
James River, up the Chesapeake Bay, and the Potomac, toward the North. I
recall now the strange sensations I had in passing Washington's tomb at
Mount Vernon. The green slopes and the oak wood in front of the old
mansion were in full view. I could even see the front columns of the
house, and someone on the steamer's deck pointed out to me the spot
where stood the simple brick mausoleum where with folded arms slept the
Father of his Country. I could not help reflecting that at that moment
not a hundred miles away stood nearly all George Washington's State's
descendants, with arms in their hands, striving to destroy the
government that he had founded.

How I enjoyed that ship ride! Here there was no sandy prison pen with
poor, starving, dying comrades lying around; no futile efforts at
escape; no taunts and jeers that the American flag had gone down in
disgrace; now all was free and beautiful, and _mine_. The hated rag of
the Confederacy that had floated over my head and threatened me every
day with death for fifteen long months was gone forever. At the mast of
our little vessel waved the Stars and Stripes, conscious, it seemed to
me, of the free air I was breathing. That was a happy day for me.

Some time in the following night the wheels of the boat stopped
revolving--there was silence; and when I woke at daylight there was the
land. The ship was fast in the slip at the wharf, and there, too, was
the capital of the republic. I went ashore by myself and wandered into
the city, my mind crowded every moment with the thoughts of what had
taken place here in the last four years. Soldiers I saw everywhere, with
arms and without arms. Negroes, now freedmen, by the ten thousand fairly
darkened the population. With some friends I found a boarding place on
the avenue above the National Hotel. If I wanted to see great men,
notorious men, men making history, all kinds of men, I had only to step
into the corridors of the National.

I had little or no ready money, nor could I get any until the
government settled my accounts. I waited in Washington for a week.
General Sherman had given me papers that would insure my promotion in
the regular army. I presented them; they were all-sufficient; I needed
only to say the word. But I was sick and tired of war, and would not
have exchanged a glimpse of my Western home for the commission of a
brigadier.

But while I stayed in Washington what sights I saw! Our capital is now
possibly the finest in the world. Then it was the most hateful; the most
hateful in every way. Militarism, treason, political scoundrelism, and
every other bad ism reigned in every hotel, on every street corner, in
Congress, out of Congress--everywhere; reigned right at the elbows of
loyalty and patriotism such as the world never saw. Society was one
grand conglomeration of everything good and bad.

Washington City itself was a spectacle. It had no streets, save one or
two--simply dirty unpaved roads. The dirty street cars, pulled by
worn-out horses, were crowded inside and outside by a mass of struggling
politicians, soldiers, gamblers, adventurers, and women. The city was
also full of hospitals; everywhere there were lazarettos and graveyards.
It looked as if half the Union army had dragged itself into the capital
to die. The great Capital building was uncompleted; its dome stood
there covered with scaffoldings and windlasses. The plaza at the east
end of the structure looked like a vast stone quarry. The Washington
Monument had only gotten itself safe above high-water mark; and what
there was of it was in danger of falling down. It stood in the middle of
the flats, the mud and the malaria--the graveyard, in short, that formed
the unsavory prospect from the White House windows.

Aside from the unfinished government buildings there was not a pretense
of architecture in all Washington. There was nothing beautiful there.
The very atmosphere seemed sickly; fever, malaria, were everywhere. It
was the one city in all creation to get out of as soon as possible.

Once I tried to get a glimpse of the President. I failed. The White
House gates were held by sentries. "Why do you want to see that old
Ape?" said a man to me one day. I was shocked, and would like to have
killed him. But he was not alone in his vileness. Thousands in
Washington affected to despise Lincoln. I wondered then that it was
regarded safe for him to appear in public. One day a carriage rolled
rapidly up the avenue in front of the National. I heard some men cry,
"Look, the President!" I glanced quickly. A tall, dark man, wearing a
silk hat sat in the carriage; at his side a lady.

In a moment they were out of sight. There was not a cheer, not a hat
touched, not a hand waved, and yet _that was Abraham Lincoln passing_,
soon to be the greatest man in history. A little wrangle and almost a
fist-fight between some bystanders on the pavement followed; one party
denouncing the President for freeing the "damned niggers"; another
thanking God for the President's noble deed. Such scenes were going on
everywhere all over the capital, pro and con. Approval and hatred. The
best praised, the worst abused mortal in America was just entering on
his second term at the White House. I never even had a glimpse of the
kindly face again.

At last my accounts were ready. "But your regiment," said the Assistant
War Secretary, "does not exist. What was left of them were all put into
a cavalry troop long ago. _You are the last man of the regiment._"
Across the face of my paper he wrote, "_Discharged as a supernumerary
officer._" That paper lies before me while I write. I was paid off in
shining greenbacks for all the time I had been in prison.

As to the eighty comrades who had been captured with me that 25th of
November in the assault on Missionary Ridge, all but sixteen were dead.
Nine of my old Company B of the Fifth Regiment were taken prisoners, and
only one of them had survived the horrors of Andersonville. Poor
Cartwright died not long after, and I alone of the little band was left
to tell the story.



TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE:


Obvious typos and printer errors have been corrected without comment.
Other than obvious errors, the author's spelling, grammar, and use of
punctuation are retained as in the original publication. In addition to
obvious errors, the following changes have been made:

  Page 50: "dozen" changed to "dozens" in the phrase, "Shortly, dozens
    of these small boats...."

  Page 89: "connonballs" changed to "cannonballs" in the phrase, "...
    storm of cannonballs...."

  Page 100: opening quote mark added: "My regiment is put...."

  Page 132: "thousand" changed to "thousands" in the phrase, "Hundreds,
    thousands possibly, of...."

  Page 187: "gaunlet" changed to "gauntlet" in the phrase, "... had run
    the Rebel gauntlet...."

  Page 192: "cammander" changed to "commander"

  Page 198: "straving" changed to "starving" in the phrase, "... poor,
    starving...."





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