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´╗┐Title: With the Rank and File
Author: Ford, Thomas J.
Language: English
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[Illustration: THOS. J. FORD,

Sergeant Company H. Twenty-fourth Wisconsin Infantry.]



  WITH THE RANK AND FILE.

  INCIDENTS AND ANECDOTES DURING THE WAR OF THE
  REBELLION, AS REMEMBERED BY ONE
  OF THE NON-COMMISSIONED
  OFFICERS.

  By THOMAS J. FORD,

  SERGEANT COMPANY H, TWENTY-FOURTH WISCONSIN
  INFANTRY.

  1898.
  PRESS OF THE EVENING WISCONSIN CO.,
  MILWAUKEE.



  COPYRIGHT, 1898,
  BY
  THOS. J. FORD.



TABLE OF CONTENTS

  INCIDENTS AND ANECDOTES                              5

  ON THE BATTLEFIELD                                  32

  PULPIT AND PRESS                                    61

  THAT LEXINGTON IMPUDENCE                            70

  SHOULD EDUCATION BE COMPULSORY                      77

  WASHINGTON AND LINCOLN                              82

  AS TO PENSIONS                                      87

  DEPARTURE OF THOMAS J. FORD                         91

  COMMENDED BY HIS SUPERIORS                          93



INTRODUCTORY.


MY DEAR READER: Among the many publications which the late war has
drawn forth, I present you with something which you have never read,
nor which has ever been in print, until the issue of this little
book. The sketches contained herein have been carefully revised and
made as brief as possible, with the object of bringing before you the
privations and hardships of the rank and file. A few of the amusing
incidents of life in the army are also chronicled, as they occurred
in Camp, on the March, or on the Battlefield. Papers on compulsory
education, the pulpit and the press, farm life, and one on the merits
of America's two grandest men (George Washington and Abraham Lincoln)
will also be found herein.

  THOMAS J. FORD.

Milwaukee, May, 1898.



INCIDENTS AND ANECDOTES.

Sketches of Army Life from the Viewpoint of a Non-Commissioned
Officer During the Rebellion.

An Address Delivered at E. B. Wolcott Post, G. A. R., Hall,
Milwaukee, Wis., November 19, 1897, by Thomas J. Ford.


Commander and Comrades: The history of the late war is generally
known by the whole civilized world; but the history of each private
individual in that conflict is known much less by others than by
myself.

In presenting to you a few sketches of the many incidents and
privations of my army life, you must not expect me, in my humble rank
as private, corporal and sergeant, to give you as broad a view of the
army in which I served as other men of higher rank and station can
give you. My duty was with my company and its immediate surroundings,
as others in the same rank and file.

The Twenty-fourth Wisconsin Regiment was organized in August, 1862,
and on the 8th of October following were engaged in the Battle of
Perryville, Kentucky. Just before starting for the battlefield that
morning (I had not been feeling very well for a week past) I went to
Dr. Hasse, our regimental surgeon, and told him about it.

"Well," he said, "Ford, I don't know what to do for you. All the
medicine is packed away but that five-gallon can of castor oil there.
Just set it on the top of that stump and take a swallow of it."

I did so. "And now," he said, "I will give you an order to have your
luggage carried in the wagon." I packed up everything that I could
get along without, which left nothing on my person but my red shirt,
pants, shoes and cap. We got into battle sooner than was expected.
As we were in the reserve line of battle waiting for orders the
rebel bullets were dropping thick and fast around us, for they were
preparing to charge on one of our batteries. A brigade orderly rode
up to Col. Larrabee, of our regiment, the Twenty-fourth Wisconsin,
and said, "Colonel, the General wants you to march your regiment to
the left of that battery and hold it at all hazards; the rebels are
about to charge on it."

The Colonel was somewhat hard of hearing. He placed his hand to his
ear and said, "What's that, sir?"

The order was repeated. The Colonel answered, "I will, by God,
sir;" and called the regiment to attention. We marched to the left
of that battery in double-quick time. The size and appearance of
the Twenty-fourth Wisconsin swinging into line with ten hundred and
twenty-four men and firing a few volleys of musketry at them checked
the advancing foe and the battery was saved. I was in the front rank
in my company with no coat on and the only red shirt visible in the
regiment. The order was given to fall back about twenty paces to the
rear. We were too far out near the crest of the hill looking down on
the cornfield where the rebels were, but I did not fall back. I was
so interested loading and firing at the rebels down in that cornfield
that I did not hear the command to cease firing or to fall back. The
regiment was ready to fire in its new position, but the command was
not given until the red-shirted man fell back into line. The Colonel
was calling for me. He sent Adjutant McArthur out in front after me,
at the same time calling aloud, "You man with the red shirt, fall
back."

I knew that meant me, so I looked around and saw Adjutant McArthur
galloping to the front and the regiment was back in the rear. Too
quick did I about face and double-quick to my place in the front rank
of my company. That night I lay on the ground with nothing between me
and the blue sky but my shirt, pants, shoes and cap.

Another incident. Just before the Battle of Stone River I received
a box of fine cut chewing and smoking tobacco from an uncle of mine
in Milwaukee. We got orders that night to get ready for the march in
the morning. I did not know what to do with my big box of tobacco,
containing eleven dollars' worth, done up in Milwaukee. A rare thing
to get--Milwaukee tobacco. Some of the company boys helped me to do
it up in packages from fifty cents' worth to a dollar and a half size
packages, and we went around and sold all the tobacco in an hour's
time to officers and privates alike, but got very little money, the
regiment not being paid yet, so we had to trust until pay day. We
got into the fight, however, at daybreak, one gray, frosty morning,
after lying on our arms all night, and our fingers were all benumbed
with the cold and frost. As for myself, I can say that I had to
place my finger on the trigger of the gun with my left hand before
I could bring it up to an aim. The rebels came down on us, colors
flying and in solid column, shouting and hollering as if certain and
sure of victory. We fell back before them. They crowded us into a
cedar woods, where there was nothing but cedar trees and rocks, and
it seemed as if all the birds and rabbits in that large field were
looking for protection around our feet. So thick and fast did the
rebels send their shot and shell after us that you might think it
impossible for a bird to escape them. The rebels had us surrounded
for a while. You could see the rebel officers and orderlies galloping
on their horses in the near distance, urging their men on to make
a complete capture, but we got out of that battle all right, as
history fully explains. When we were in the thickest of this fight
an incident took place about that tobacco I sold on time. A comrade
of mine, James Mangan, formerly a school teacher in the Town of
Franklin (and I was a pupil at his school myself), came near me and
said, "Thomas, this is terrible. It seems impossible for any of us
to escape being killed by those shells and bullets, if they continue
this way much longer." (At the same time I noticed one of the boys
that I sold some tobacco to, on time, drop.)

"Yes," said I. "But what will I do now for the price of my tobacco?
Most of those are killed that I sold it to, and I will never be paid."

"To the devil with you and your tobacco," said he, "if that is what
you are thinking of now, in place of your soul."

We went into that battlefield early in the afternoon, without
anything to eat; lay on our arms all night in line of battle in the
immediate front of the enemy and fought all the next day without
anything to eat or drink. Our supply train was cut off. General
Rosecrans had a large pile of forage corn near his headquarters. The
boys commenced stealing it for food. There was a strong guard placed
around it, and an order issued to give each man one ear of corn as
far as it went until supplies would arrive. In dealing out the corn
the plan was to put one ear of corn into each empty hand as it
reached out. Some got two ears of corn by placing the first behind
their back and thrusting forth the other empty hand. The pile of
corn did not supply one-hundredth part of the vast numbers clustered
around it. We ate the ear of corn, and that was all we had to eat at
that time.

Closing this incident of the Battle of Stone River, I might as well
remark right here that my father and his three sons were in the War
of the Rebellion from 1861-1865, and the first he knew of two of his
sons being in the war and in the Twenty-fourth Wisconsin was after
the Battle of Stone River. He took part in the same battle with
Captain Bridges' battery. Father came to see Col. Larrabee of the
Twenty-fourth Wisconsin with a view of getting his two sons, Daniel
and Thomas, transferred to Bridges' battery, so that we could be
together with him. He told the Colonel about it, and the Colonel said
he would not allow it to be done; they were two good boys and he was
going to keep them.

"But they are my boys," said the old man, "and I want them with me."

"They are not your boys, by God, sir," said the Colonel; "they are my
boys, and I am going to keep them; you cannot have them."

The other son was in the Twenty-fourth Massachusetts Regiment, and
at the Battle of Fredericksburg was shot through the heart while
planting the Stars and Stripes on the rebels' breastworks. The
color-bearer being shot down, he picked up the flag and both he and
the flag lay on the rebels' breastworks, our side being repulsed.

There was a general order one time that our boys should not steal
anything in a certain part of the country where we were located
during Col. Larrabee's command over the regiment. The General ordered
the Colonel that he should punish those two men that were caught as
an example for the rest. I heard the Colonel pronounce the sentence
in these words, as I was standing guard near his tent, "Now, boys,
I have to punish you. I am so ordered by the General. I want you
both to understand that I am not punishing you for stealing, but for
getting caught at it, by God." This seemed to be a common byword of
the Colonel.

General Rousseau had command of our division for a short time near
a place in Tennessee that we addressed our letters from as Camp
Starvation, near Cowan's Station. The citizens were nearly all loyal
to the Union cause. It was a rough, stony and hilly country. They
seemed to have only a few sheep for their meat. The General ordered
that the men should not kill any of those sheep. Shortly after we
broke ranks of course some went off foraging, as usual. They killed
a sheep and dressed it and had it on their shoulders coming back to
camp when they met the General and his staff out reconnoitering.

"Halt those men there," said the General to one of his orderlies,
"and place them under arrest. Take that mutton up to my headquarters
and have it cooked for supper." He released the men on the promise
that they would not do it again. Next day about the same time the
same four boys went out again. They knew where there was a large, fat
Newfoundland dog. They killed him, cut off his head and legs, skinned
and dressed him up nicely in the shape of a mutton. They met the
General nearly in the same place as the day before.

"What, those same men disobeying my orders again? Place those men
under arrest and report their commanding officer. Orderly, take that
mutton to headquarters and tell the cook to hurry up with it for
supper." They ate that mutton for supper, and all declared it sweeter
and better mutton than the one eaten the night before.

Everyone in camp knew what had happened. We had those little dog
tents at that time. The General and staff came galloping down our
company streets the next morning, when every soldier, as if with one
accord, thrust his head out of the little tents and commenced barking
like so many dogs. The horses commenced prancing; the General's hat
fell off; he stuck the spurs into his horse's side, and galloped off
to Col. Larrabee's tent, just in front of him.

"I say, Colonel, what does this mean, your men barking at me like so
many dogs?"

"Well, I don't know, General," said the Colonel, "unless you have
some dog in you."

The General scratched his head and said, "Out-generaled by my own
men. That is the last damned 'order' I will ever issue in this camp."

Col. Larrabee was a good man, but he seemed to get tired of the war
after a certain time when he did not receive a brigadier-generalship,
which he was entitled to by seniority. We were taking a rest one day
under the shade of some trees waiting for orders, lying down full
length, taking the best advantage of the precious moments given us,
when the Colonel raised himself up to a sitting position and said,
"Boys, I brought the Twenty-fourth Wisconsin Regiment into the field
ten hundred and twenty-four men strong. Now I have but three hundred
and sixty men, a regiment that I can take anywhere and feel proud of
them; a regiment that every man of them knows as much if not more
than I do myself."

The orders came to fall in, and right here the curtain drops on
Col. Larrabee. I have never heard of or seen him since. It is true
that a great many different men had their turn in commanding the
Twenty-fourth Wisconsin Regiment, and it is also true that they
were all good men, viz., West, Kennedy, Bombach, Parsons, and last
of all that young and brave boy, Col. McArthur, whose gallantry at
the Battle of Franklin I shall never forget. The rebels had driven
our men out of the breastworks that we were relieved from about an
hour or so before in order to cook some refreshments, for we were
on advance guard duty about 48 hours and were bothered so much
with rebel cavalry that we did not have much time to rest or eat.
Marching into Franklin we were closely followed up, in the rear of
our army, by rebel General Hood's infantry. We stacked arms, after
being "relieved," a quarter of a mile, I should think, from those
breastworks. Our coffee was just beginning to boil and our sow-belly
and crackers frying, when the rebels charged those breastworks and
drove our men out, and followed them up. They came through our
stacked arms and over our fires, upsetting our coffee pots and frying
pans, with the rebels right at their heels and at our stacked arms
as soon as we were. Every one of us was as mad as he could be after
losing his nearly cooked dinner, and we felt as if we could whip
the whole rebel army just at that moment, when Col. McArthur called
out, "Fall in, Twenty-fourth; take arms. Charge. Give um hell, boys.
Give um hell, give um hell, Twenty-fourth." We did "give um hell,"
and drove them back over the breastworks again. When he got the run
on them we commenced shooting as they were jumping back again over
the breastworks, and they'd holler out, "Don't shoot, Yanks. For God
Almighty's sake, don't shoot." Then some of them would get hit and
cry out, "Oh."

We got the breastworks and held them against several attempts to take
them from us, until darkness came and everything was still. About 2
o'clock in the morning, under cover of darkness, after the supply
train and everything was across the river, we stole away out of those
breastworks without making any noise, crossed the river, burned the
bridge and were safe on our journey to Nashville, where ended the
last of our battle of the war.

Right here I will mention a little incident that happened at one of
the rebel attempts to take those breastworks from us at the Battle of
Franklin. Capt. Fillbrooks, of Company D, a very brave man, noticed
one of his men dodging or ducking his head from the noise of the
rebel bullets. "Mike," said the Captain, "quit dodging your head
there. Stand up to it and take it like a man." The word was no sooner
out of the Captain's mouth when a bullet hit him in the middle of
the forehead and laid him out dead. Mike said to him. "Why the devil
in hell don't you stand up and take it like a man." And the word
wasn't out of Mike's mouth when he got a scalp wound on the right
side of his forehead. "Holy Moses," said he, "there is nothing like
the dodging after all. Every time I heard it before I dodged it and
it never hit me."

The day before the Franklin battle we got into a brush with the rebel
cavalry at a place called Spring Hill. The sun was settling down
in the west. They had been picking at us all day, so they prepared
for a charge. We could see the sun glisten on their swords as they
drew sabers. They were on the east of us and charged across that
plain with a seeming determination to play great havoc in our ranks.
But the old First Brigade let them come near enough to give them
one volley of musketry and then came to a charge against cavalry,
the front-rank men standing firmly placed in proper position all
with fixed bayonets. Here they come hollering like demons, carbines
empty, sabers drawn over their heads ready to come down with a cut
and slash, but they couldn't do it. Every man stood firm. The
Twenty-fourth was in the front of the brigade, facing the enemy. They
tried to force their horses to open a gap, but it was impregnable.
They withdrew in disorder. We lay down and our batteries played
havoc with those rebel cavalry. You could see a rebel's head falling
off his horse on one side and his body on the other, and the horse
running and nickering and looking for its rider. Others you could
see fall off with their foot caught in the stirrup and the horse
dragging and trampling them, dead or alive. Others, the horse would
get shot and the rider tumble head over heels, or may be get caught
by his horse falling on them. I used to think before that cavalry
charge what a terrible thing it would be to get into a battle with
cavalry and imagine how they could cut and slash and shoot at us and
trample us down with their horses; but I thought different after
that experience with the rebel cavalry. Why, it is the greatest fun
imaginable in time of war for a solid column of infantry prepared
for the attack to have a cavalry charge on them. The horses won't do
it for the rider, and the rider can do nothing with a body of solid
infantry.

There was a little incident that happened before the Battle of
Chickamauga in a place we called the Devil's Basin, in Georgia. We
had fifty rebel officers and soldiers as prisoners. There was one
rebel captain who was continually cursing and abusing Abe Lincoln and
the Stars and Stripes. I was sergeant of the guard in charge of the
prisoners. The officer of the day gave me orders to have that kind
of language stopped if I had to do it with the point of the bayonet.
I put a new guard on, a man that I knew would stop it. After a while
this rebel captain thought he would make the acquaintance of the new
guard, and asked him what countryman he was. The guard replied with
great emphasis, "My father is an Irishman, and my mother is a Dutch
woman; the damnedist breed that ever lived; and if you don't keep
your mouth shut I'll run this bayonet right through you," at the same
time going right for the rebel captain. The next day we let the rebel
officers go and withdrew from the Devil's Basin towards Chickamauga.
Our line was too long and weak, a great mistake of General Rosecrans.
We were double-quicked into the Battle of Chickamauga on the morning
of September 20, 1863, and filled a gap that was wide open right in
front of a large body of rebel soldiers that was lying on the ground
waiting for orders to go, as it appeared to me, when General Little,
our brave Brigadier-General, led us up within plain sight of them.
General Little was wounded slightly in the arm. The rebels peppered
it into us, as our brave Henry G. Rogers can tell you. Little moved
his line back, which I think was wrong, for it encouraged the rebels
and they came right for us. Just when the new line was formed General
Sheridan rode by in a gallop down the right of the line. In passing
the Twenty-fourth Wisconsin he said a word to General Little and went
on. A limb of a tree brushed off his hat, but he did not stop. One of
his orderlies dismounted and made several attempts before he replaced
the hat on Sheridan's head, Sheridan paying no attention whatever
to the hat business, as it appeared to me. The rebs came for us in
our new line. The firing commenced. Our brigade, General Little, was
right behind our colors. I was between him and the colors. Oh, how
the boys did load and fire. I saw rebels crawling on their hands and
knees through the underbrush to get the Twenty-fourth Wisconsin
flag. They never got the flag, neither did they ever go back. A man
in my company was firing high. I drew his attention to the fact, and
ordered him to aim low.

"Sergeant," said he, "I have a son in the rebel army, and I imagine
he is forninst me out and I don't want to shoot him."

"Well, then, aim low," said I, "and shoot the son of a gun right in
the heart." Strange to say the son deserted the rebels and ate supper
with his father that night.

So determined and persistent was the fight in our part of the line, I
heard a voice behind me saying, "Sergeant, what regiment is this?"

I looked around and saw General Little, and said, "This is the
Twenty-fourth Wisconsin, General."

He commenced falling off his horse and said, "Brave boys, brave boys."

Those were the last words he ever spoke. He had his hand on the pone
of his saddle, and as he was falling his hat fell off, his long
auburn hair hung down, and he seemed to hang on to that saddle with
his right hand until he was nearly to the ground. It is a sight I
will never forget. I then looked to our left, and saw the rebels in
our rear. The troops on our left had left us and we also left. As
we were retreating in pretty good time, one of our boys was just in
front of me, making the best time he could, and I keeping right up
with him, when he was hit and killed. He fell across my track and I
fell on top of him. I thought we were both shot with the same bullet.
I got up again all right and lit out. You could see the rebels and
you could hear the bullets plainer because there was but one side
shooting. The bullets went zip, zip, into the leaves on the ground
and around your ears as thick as bees.

We got down to the turnpike road. General Rosecrans and other
generals were there, and tried to have us halt and form a line and
charge the rebels back. Rosecrans said, "The rebels are defeated and
are retreating at another part of the line, and if you could have
held them here five minutes longer the battle would be ours." Some
stood and listened, and three times as many went on.

The general took off his hat and said, "Boys, form a line here;
there are enough of us to whip those rebels. We have them on the
run in another part of the field. If you won't do it for my sake,
do it for God's sake and for your country's sake." That brought a
great many to halt and ready in line when a rebel solid shot, about a
fifteen-pounder, came along and took off the right hand of one of the
generals and part of the saddle he was resting on. That was seen too
quick. Some one started, and away we went until we found ourselves
near a gap leading into Ringgold.

General Sheridan took command of everything he could find. We got
through the gap and into Chattanooga, and we were not long there
before every man was three feet under ground with a breastwork
against the enemy. We thought they would be right on to us, but they
were too glad to take a rest and too glad to get rid of us, for they
were nearly as badly whipped as we were.

This reminds me of the story of the Irishman and the Georgian who met
and fought until both laid down along side of each other, completely
exhausted. The Irishman threw his hand over on the Georgian's face
and got him by the throat, but the Georgian got the Irishman's thumb
in his mouth. They both held their grip and were found in that
position and taken to the hospital. The Irishman got better first,
but with his hand in a sling on account of his wounded thumb. He went
to see the Georgian, and at first sight greeted him with, "Give me
your hand, be jabers, you're nearly as good a man as meself."

So we went to see the rebels at Mission Ridge, and reminded them
of Chickamauga, and I'll tell you how we did it. The rebels had us
hemmed in in the Valley of Chattanooga for two months and five days,
as near as I can recollect, with railroad and river communication
cut off. Our line was sixteen miles long, the shape of a horseshoe,
with the hind calking resting on the river. We were subjugated to
quarter rations, not knowing how long a time we might be held inside
of that circle. We would draw our quarter rations and eat them up
right away, not having drawn for four days before, and take chances
on foraging or gobbling or in any way that we could pick up anything
to eat. At first we had candles and had some light. We ran out of
candles, and we used grease in a tin can with a rag, a piece of an
old shirt, or anything that would answer the purpose of a wick, to
make light. After a while we ran out of grease. So whatever was left
of the grease and wick in the old tin cans was thrown away and we
did without light. After a while, when hunger began to pinch me very
severely, I hunted up the old tin can that belonged to my messmates
and myself, and I found it with considerable grease in it, mixed
with some flies and the old rag wick. I ate them all and relished
them very much at the time, but did not have very much appetite for
my next quarter ration. I will say right here that if every soldier
inside that line was asked to volunteer to drive the rebels off
Mission Ridge there would be but one answer, and that would be, "I
will go, let me go." Such was the feeling of the troops hemmed in in
the Valley of Chattanooga. Every man was healthy and hungry, could
run a race or turn a somersault. General Grant noticed that when he
ordered a general review; that is what it turned out to be, but the
order was not given in that shape. The order was, "Be ready to march
tomorrow, at such an hour, in light marching order." We went out in
the valley right at the edge of the timber near Orchard Knob and
had a fine general review. General Bragg commenced concentrating his
troops. He thought the Yankees were coming. A widow woman, at whose
house he had his headquarters, asked him if he didn't think it better
for her to move her family away from there to Ringgold. He said, "No,
there were not Yankees enough in all Christendom to take that ridge."

When the review was over Grant ordered each commander to march his
command to camp. The next week Grant had that same review over
again. It annoyed Bragg as before. Review over with, we marched
to camp again. The next week we got orders to get ready for the
march to-morrow morning, heavy marching order, with eighty rounds
of ammunition. Every man knew what that meant. Everybody knew we
were going to take that ridge, or at least make the attempt, but
the rebel General Bragg said it was nothing but that damned Yankee
review again. The orders came from Grant after he had his lines
all arranged, that when six cannons were fired in succession,
1-2-3-4-5-6, the whole line was to advance and take the first line
of rebel breastworks. There is no doubt in my mind but that Grant
thought that sufficiently far enough to go; with Hooker on Lookout
Mountain; our communications opened up; with boatloads and carloads
of supplies arriving, the rebels would not be very likely to hang
onto Mission Ridge any very great length of time. We (the first
brigade of Sheridan's division) were near those cannons, however,
that gave the order to advance, and we went clear up to the top of
the Ridge. We were after something to eat, and we got it, too. All
the generals in the Union army could not stop us if they tried to
after we got started up that Ridge. I remember in crossing the first
line of trenches some of our boys fired into the trenches, and I
made the remark that it was cowardly, but we went on, on and up.
The color-bearer of Company C, with the colors, myself and Nelson
of Company H were the first men upon that Ridge in the line of our
brigade. The first thing I did after the rebels skedaddled was to
grab a full haversack and jerk it off a wounded rebel captain's neck.
He was shot in the shoulder and his hand lay on the mouth of the
haversack on the down-hill side. I opened it and divided its contents
with my comrades in the immediate vicinity. It was saturated with
the rebel captain's blood, but we ate it all the same.

Mission Ridge was ours. The rebels were running down the other side
of the Ridge and we shouted "Chickamauga, Chickamauga." The sun was
just going down, beautiful and bright. It was a splendid sight to
witness. In a short time General Sheridan made his appearance. At
sight of the General, the boys clustered around him and commenced
cheering that gallant commander. Some shouted for hard-tack, some for
sow-belly and some for beef, while others shouted for whisky.

The General raised his hat off his head until silence prevailed,
and said, "Boys, in less than two hours' time you will have all the
hard-tack, all the sow-belly and all the beef you want; as for the
whisky I can't say yet for sure."

And in less than that time the boats and railroad cars were unloaded
without any detail being made for that purpose. There were sixteen
hundred head of cattle driven up on that Ridge, and in an hour's time
they were in the frying pan. You could see men as far as the eye
could reach, several lines of them, with boxes of crackers on their
shoulders. Sheridan made his word good, with the exception of the
whisky. He advised with the surgeon-general, and he said, "No whisky,
General. Your men will eat enough, and perhaps too much, without
whisky;" and true enough, some died eating that night. You might wake
up any time in the night and see men cooking and eating. A great many
of us flung our blankets away coming up the Ridge. When it was time
to lie down I went back to the battlefield for a blanket. The moon
was full and shining bright. I found nothing to suit till I came to
a rebel Colonel who had a fine, large, gray overcoat with large cape
and trimmed with gold braid. I rolled him over and took it off; took
it to camp under my arm thinking, "Now I will have something fine
and warm to put about me;" but, alas! when I got nicely settled down
for sleep I could not sleep. The thoughts of lying under that rebel
overcoat and taking it off him in that lonely battlefield, overcame
me. The way he appeared to me in the bright light of the moon made
me think that I was robbing my dead enemy, when he was helpless to
defend himself, and no witness to the action but the sweet silver
moon. My heart filled with emotion and I got up and took it back and
laid it over him, then returned to my company and lay down under a
part of my comrade's blanket, and immediately went to sleep with a
full ration in my stomach.

So ended the Battle of Mission Ridge, and the boys all felt happy.
And let me say right here that those few sketches of mine are not
dreams, nor misty recollections of the past. It is not a play that
you might read of in your parlor, or see acted on the stage with fine
sceneries and blue and red lights; but it is a living actuality--a
play that we all had a hand in ourselves with a pure and manly
motive--to save our country and protect our country's flag.



ON THE BATTLEFIELD.

From Chickamauga to the Close of the War--Wounded at Adairsville,
Ga.--Nourished by a Union Woman.

An Address Delivered at E. B. Wolcott Post, G. A. R., Hall,
Milwaukee, Wis., by Thomas J. Ford, March 11th, 1898.


Commander and Comrades: Those pages that I have here to-night are a
continuation of the past, and take in all my recollections in brief;
and, in giving you those few more sketches of the incidents and
privations of my army life, I will tell you, in my humble way, of an
incident that happened shortly after we were driven into Chattanooga.
After the Battle of Chickamauga, so many men were told off from each
regiment to build up Fort Wood, detailed for fatigue duty. We worked
hard that day. An order came around when the day's work was done that
General Sheridan was going to give us all a ration of whisky. We fell
in in two ranks, with our tin cups, in double-quick time. The whisky
came around in buckets, full. It was measured out with a small tin
cup emptied into our larger ones. I got my ration and drank it. My
brother Daniel was standing in the rear of me. He never drank liquor
nor used tobacco. The commissary man ordered him to put out his cup
and take his ration. Brother told him he didn't drink any and didn't
want any. I turned around quick, and said, "Draw your ration, Dan,
and give it to me." He did so, and I was very much pleased to get
it. The boys in the line looked over each other's shoulders to see
me drink the double ration of whisky, and one said to the other, "My
God, I wish I had a brother in the army that didn't drink."

At a place called Buzzard Roost, perhaps better known in history as
Rocky Face, the rebels were protected by natural breastworks and
could not be driven away from in front. After several attempts a
movement was made on their flank by General Kilpatrick's cavalry.
The rebels soon discovered the movement and left from our front. At
the time that General Howard was viewing through his field glass,
Kilpatrick's cavalry were speeding to the rebels' right around by
the valley road. He felt something touch him, and looking down he
saw a bullet hole through his boot leg, which evidently had been
aimed at him by some one in a much higher location than where he was
standing, and, turning his glasses in that direction, he discovered
a rebel up in a tree. Seeing the movements up there through the
leaves, Howard sent after a couple of his sharpshooters. They took
in the situation. Mr. Rebel kept very still, thinking perhaps he
might not be discovered, but our boys got a bead on him. They let
go their sharpshooting rifles. There was an "Oh!" and a scrambling
and a shaking of the leaves and branches, and finally down comes the
rebel's gun and next himself. Upon examination it was found that he
had tied his arm with his handkerchief to a limb of the tree so as to
steady himself while he was taking aim. The handkerchief became loose
in the struggle, but remained around his arm as he fell.

As we advanced through those natural breastworks of rocks some of
our men that were killed were lying just at the opposite side of the
rock from the rebels and were stripped of their clothing. When we
were advancing on this rocky mountain the rebs pried loose a great
many of those large rocks and started them rolling down on us, but
we went up another direction, and marched about a week, picketing
and skirmishing until the rebels made a stand at Resaca, which was
a very hard fight. We advanced in line of battle to within a short
distance of the rebels' breastworks, where we halted. There were
two cedar rail fences, ten rails high with a stake and rider, right
alongside of each other. It was evident that the owners of the land
disputed the boundaries, or would not join fences with each other,
consequently each one built and maintained his own fence on his
own land, just inside the line. We took advantage of that piece of
contrariness, however, and soon pulled down both fences and piled
them up into one. They made us a fine breastwork. We were in close
quarters to the rebels; we could see them plainly and they could
see us. I remember in the part of the breastwork where I was we had
a thin cedar rail on top. Two rebel bullets struck that rail and
went through it and dropped down just as I raised my head from it
to fire--a very close call for me. It was very wet weather. The
ground was uneven and rough, all mud and slush. When firing ceased at
night some of us lay down to sleep, while others stayed on duty in
the breastworks. I rolled two dead comrades together where I wanted
to lie down and another who was not quite dead was rolled crossways
over their heads for a pillow. I slept very comfortably, with the
exception of being disturbed once in a while from a hiccough or
movement of muscles or peculiar noises coming from my pillow. On the
right of us the battlefield took fire and burned a great many of our
men, dead or wounded, that were lying there. It was a piece of open
land where the grass was very thick the year before, and was neither
pastured nor cut off.

A few days previous to going into this fight we went through a very
plentiful country. We halted for camp one evening. Some from every
command, the same as usual, struck off foraging. They commenced
coming in after a while with hams and chickens. I remember by brother
Dan and myself asked some one about the hams, and they said you might
as well have one, they will be all gone anyway. And so we struck out
and soon found the smoke-house. I made a rush in. There was just
one shoulder left. I grabbed it, and in going by the house the woman
was standing at the door crying, and said that was the last piece of
meat, and what would she and her children do now. Brother Dan and I
agreed to give it to her. She put it under her bed. We went to camp
empty-handed; had plenty to eat of government rations and felt and
slept better than if we had taken the meat from the widow.

We had a hard march the next day. When we camped that evening my feet
were very painful, with scalding blisters, and as I was very tired I
went down to a stream near by, took off shoes and socks, rolled my
pants above my knees, sat down on the bank of the stream and placed
my feet in the cool, running water. Oh, but it did feel refreshing.
I lay down on my back with my feet in that position, placed my hands
under my head and fell asleep; was in that position until the cool
of the morning began to break on me. I woke up much refreshed and no
pain or soreness in my feet.

I remember in marching through Huntsville, Alabama, about 11 o'clock
A. M., our band struck up the tune of "Away Down South in Dixie."
The regiment was at a right shoulder shift arms, with fixed bayonets.
The sergeants walked on the sidewalks, marching right in front, every
man keeping perfect step. A woman was sitting on her door step with
her elbows on her knees, and holding a pan of potatoes in her hands
that she had just strained the water from preparatory to putting them
on the fire to cook for dinner. I noticed they were a different kind
of potato from what I had ever seen, and politely asked her, "Please,
madam, what do you call those potatoes?"

She made answer in a very sarcastic manner, saying, "I don't call
them at all; they come without calling." The next sergeant to me,
Charles Powers by name, a big, able fellow about six feet two inches
in height, raised his right foot, and never losing his step to the
music, hit the pan a kick, and pan and potatoes flew out on the
street on top of the regiment, at the same time saying, "Now, damn
you, see if they'll come without calling." The regiment charged on
the potatoes and came to right shoulder arms again with a potato on
top of their bayonets, and not one potato was lost. We marched into
camp and cooked them, and Charley said to me, "Ford, you are a hell
of a man to let that rebel talk to you in that way."

"Well, how could I prevent her talking? I didn't know what she was
going to say; but I'll tell you, Charley, I am mighty glad I didn't
get that kick."

We were going into camp one evening, and in passing by a farm-house
our Chaplain noticed a lot of nice chickens. He called his
servant--Sandy was his name for short. "Sandy, here is a quarter, go
over there to that house and buy a chicken; we will have a chicken
for supper. If they don't want to sell you any of their chickens
don't you gobble any; don't you steal any of their chickens, Sandy."

The Chaplain rode away a short distance and called after Sandy,
saying, "Now, Sandy, be sure and have a chicken for supper." It is
needless to say Sandy got the chicken and the quarter, too.

This Chaplain resigned. The marching and camping out were too severe
on his delicate constitution. He was not a very rugged man. Our next
chaplain was a drafted man, a wealthy farmer, one of the first men
that had the thoroughbred short-horn cattle imported to this state
from England. He created an influence over James T. Lewis, then
Governor of Wisconsin, and received from the Governor a commission as
Chaplain of the Twenty-fourth Wisconsin. The boys did not appreciate
this drafted man as a chaplain, but rather took it as an offense to
have a drafted man sent down South to preach to them when he should
have been sent with a musket. I will say right here that this man
did no more good for the Twenty-fourth Wisconsin than Billy Bray,
the jackass who to this day stands on the list of drafted men as
forming one of the quota of Maryland. The boys became determined
to rout him by scaring him and making him think that they might do
him bodily harm. We had a flag pole. We hoisted the flag every day
and took it down at night. One morning the Chaplain got up after a
very pleasant night's sleep, as he told me when he came to my tent,
seemingly under great excitement, telling me that there were burglars
in his tent last night, and he never knew it until he awoke in the
morning, and found his chair, his table, little writing desk and
sheet iron heating stove, pipe and all, had been taken from his
tent. Being intimately acquainted with me, having known me since I
was a little boy, he asked me if I would go with him in search of his
stolen furniture. I did. We went up and down every company street,
waking them up and inquiring as we went along, but to no avail. No
information whatever could we get of the stolen furniture. We gave up
the search and came back by regimental headquarters. In passing by
the flag pole--it was early in the morning and the flag hadn't been
hoisted yet--I happened to look up, and lo! what was there?

"My God, Chaplain, look. What's on top of that pole? Look at your
furniture up there."

He looked up and cried out in solemn and fervent prayer, with hands
extended upwards, "Thanks be to God on high that it ain't myself that
is hanging up there this morning."

There were no arrests made. The Chaplain sent in his resignation. It
was accepted.

This Chaplain introduced prayer meeting in Company D's tent one
night. We had fire-places in the tents, with chimneys built of mud
and sticks on the outside. You could reach your hand to the top of
the chimney from the ground. John Mahan was stretched on his bunk;
Andy O'Neil had one leg of his pants off, sewing a rip; he had a very
long thread in the needle. The Chaplain knelt down close by Andy and
asked Mahan if he would not join in prayer. Mahan said he was tired
and wanted rest.

"And don't you want me to pray for you?" asked the Chaplain.

"Oh, yes, pray for me all you have a mind to," said Mahan.

The Chaplain prayed. Each time O'Neil put a stitch in his pants,
in drawing the thread its full length brought his hand in close
proximity to the Chaplain's face. He was seemingly very much
interested in repairing his trousers.

The Chaplain asked, "Now, Andy, don't you feel the spirit of God
coming within you?"

"No," said Andy, drawing his thread its full length with his hand
against the Chaplain's face, "and I don't think it will come while
the devil is so close to me." At the same time the boys outside
dropped two or three bunches of cartridges down the chimney into the
fire inside. R-r-r-r-rapp-zip-zip-zip, went the cartridges like a
volley of musketry. The Chaplain sprang from his knees, made a rush
for the door and then outside, saying, "Sure enough, I believe the
devil is in that tent."

We drove the Confederate General Anderson across the river at a
place called Loudon, Tennessee. He burnt the bridge after his troops
and supplies had crossed it. The picket lines of both armies were
stationed on both sides of the river. An armistice was agreed upon.
Firing ceased, so the boys might go in bathing. Every day we would
swim out further, and so would the rebels. We came pretty close
together one day, so close that we dashed water into each other's
faces and ducked one another under the water, and about faced and
swam to shore, when a big rebel dived under the water and came up
in our ranks and swam to shore with us. He was taken to General
Sheridan's headquarters, naked as he was born. They clothed him and
sent him to New York, the only chance he said he ever had to get
away. Being down South before the war he was held and forced into the
rebel ranks; but that stopped the bathing in the river. The armistice
was withdrawn. If you would show your face after that you would hear
a bullet whistle.

Captain Parsons had charge of the Twenty-fourth Wisconsin at this
place. An order came from headquarters for a sergeant to take charge
of a detail of men to be sent out in the country with a foraging
train of wagons, mules and drivers and wagon master to gather in
all the wheat from the farmers' granaries and haul it to a grist
mill that General Sheridan had confiscated to grind flour for his
army. The order fell on me, because it was my turn to go on detail.
I reported at Sheridan's headquarters, and he himself gave me
instructions what to do. My detail of men was soon ready, and we
started with our wagons and wagon master out to the mill, and the
next day commenced hauling in the wheat. I was very much interested
in that business, having been raised on a farm. With some of the
farmers we had a great deal of trouble to get them to open their
granaries peaceably, especially those who were rebels. We ground
forty barrels a day. It was a water-power mill. Every night I was
offered greenback money for flour, but never took a cent. They would
tell sorrowful stories about their little children starving. I
would tell them that their little children were of no consequence
when compared with the condition of thirty thousand men stationed in
Loudon waiting for this flour. "Go and see Sheridan; he may give you
some." The owner of the mill was in the mill office in the daytime
when the wheat was brought in. I signed the vouchers for the number
of bushels of wheat weighed and ground into flour, and that, with the
supplies we had, furnished plenty of food. Every farmer that we took
wheat from had the miller's signature and mine attached to his order
on General Sheridan, and if he proved his loyalty to the Union he got
spot cash, or its equivalent, for his wheat. My work being over, I
received an order one morning to report at Sheridan's headquarters.
We got into camp in the afternoon and formed a line in front of the
General's tent. I found him inside and reported. He said, "You have
done very well, sergeant; you deserve a promotion. Have your men
break ranks right where they are and go to your respective quarters."
I did not think any more about it. I simply was glad that I pleased
the General and did my duty. In returning to the regiment I found
Col. MacArthur in command. I learned that Capt. Parsons would not
give up his command of the regiment to MacArthur until he got orders
to do so from General Sheridan, which were promptly given.

Liquor was plenty around Loudon, but at very high prices. One man
paid $10 for a canteen full. He became disorderly and wanted to shoot
somebody. He was court-martialed and sent to Dry Tortugas. I learned
afterwards that he was pardoned and came home. The bridge across the
river that the rebels burned was rebuilt by government employes with
the assistance of the pioneer corps, and we crossed to the opposite
side on another campaign. Our regimental bakers at this place turned
out several loaves of bread with an old chew of tobacco in the center
of the loaf.

From Resaca we followed up the rebel General, Johnston, and came
very close to his rear guard at a place called Calhoun, Georgia. We
crowded them very closely. The next day Johnston had his advanced
troops stop at Adairsville and build breastworks of logs and earth,
and located themselves in the houses, while the main army passed
through and formed ready for battle. We followed them right up, but
we suddenly came to a halt. They were ready for us. Johnston managed
his retreat with good generalship from Resaca. We could not budge
them. We marched across the road into a field by the right flank,
right in front, towards the rebels' left, when Col. MacArthur gave
the command "By the left flank, charge." When I was in the act of
executing the command I got a broadsider in the left jaw bone. The
bullet struck me in the lower angle of the jaw, breaking the bone
at that place, and coursed downwards, inside the collarbone, and
lodged in the cavity of the chest. Dr. Hasse, our regimental surgeon,
treated me on the battlefield. I remember he cut my accoutrements
with his knife and left them on the ground, cut the string of my
blanket, spread it out and laid me on it.

Our regiment advanced and was stubbornly resisted, but held their
ground by inch until the rebels withdrew. A great many of our boys
bit the dust that day. It was a very severe fight for the time it
lasted, just a few hours. It was estimated that the loss was 500
killed and wounded. Such was rebel General Johnston's fighting
tactics on a retreat. He punished his pursuers very severely. General
John Newton had charge of our division in the absence of General
Sheridan. It was thought at one time during the fight that our side
would have to give way, and an order came from headquarters to the
surgeons in the field to move their wounded a certain distance to
the rear. There were four rebel bullets dropped on my blanket while
I lay there. We moved to where there were a lot of small houses and
a large mansion. In going along the turnpike road the rebel bullets
and cannon balls came fast and lively. This was the trying moment.
It was desperate, as I could plainly hear, and very well understood
the situation. The brave boys began coming in wounded thick and fast,
as the battle raged on. But at last victory was ours. The battle was
won; but a high price was paid for it; the loss of life, limb, health
and blood. I remember in going to the rear, as ordered, a Union
captain was with us. He had his nose shot off, or all but a part of
the skin near his forehead, which was holding it from falling. It
was swinging on his face like the pendulum of a clock. The rebels
sent a cannon ball down the road. As it passed by, this captain
turned around, and, with much emphasis, said, "You rebel sons of
guns, I hope you will get your belly full before night," and at that
instant a rebel bullet took him right in the abdomen and went through
his body. He fell dead where he spoke the words. We arrived at our
new hospital off the battlefield. Dr. Hasse placed me in a chair on
the porch and ran a probe down in my neck.

"Ah, Ford," he said, "the bullet has passed downwards; it is in your
chest; perhaps I can find it," and I began to faint away. He pulled
out his probe and turned around his canteen, placed it in my mouth
and told me to take a swallow. I took hold of the canteen and held it
until I had three good swallows.

The doctor took the canteen and said, "Do you think you can stand it
now?"

"Yes, doctor, probe away now all you mind to." And he did, and said
it was no use in punishing me. He could not locate the bullet, and
even if he did, it could not be removed without loss of life; it may
never injure me, but he could not tell now what the result might be
in the future.

I was assigned to a place to lie down on the floor. I soon fell
asleep, and when I awoke my neck, face and breast seemed to be one
thickness. Well, I thought I would get up, but no, my head would not
rise by my will. I thought if I just had somebody to lift my head for
me I would be all right, when, seemingly by instinct, my right hand
raised and caught myself by the hair of my head, and I was on my feet.

An order came to the surgeons to send the wounded to Chattanooga.
All who were shot in the legs and not able to walk would be carried
in ambulances to Resaca and there take the train for Chattanooga. I
came under the order of able to walk, as the meaning of that term is
applied in cases of emergency, where transportation is limited, as it
was in that case. We struck out, a lot of us that had to walk, but
soon commenced trudging along according to our strength, until there
were hardly two together. Every stream I would cross I would dip my
head in the water and then fill my old Kossuth hat full and put it on
my head. Arriving at Calhoun early in the afternoon, I stopped at
the first house. There were two rebel ladies standing on the porch
looking at the wounded as they passed by. I was very weak and wanted
some milk, as I could not eat or chew anything, my mouth being nearly
closed. By a great many signs and mutterings I succeeded in getting
one to understand what I wanted, but she said they had no milk; that
there was a Union woman in the next block over there that had two or
three cows and she most always had some milk.

"You got hit, did you?" she asked. "Well, we don't like to see
you'uns get hurt, but we do like to see you'uns get licked. You'uns
killed my true love when you went by here the other day. He stayed
behind his command to bid me good-bye and to have a little talk, when
you Yankees came onto him and three others of our boys. They ran into
the brush down there," pointing in the direction that she wanted me
to know, "and there you killed my true love."

I listened very attentively, with my eyes fixed on a picture that she
wore on her breast. I recognized the picture and muttered out to her
as best I could that if she thought so much of her true love she
ought to see about it and have him buried. He was lying down there
a little ways from the turnpike road, swelled up as big as a two
hundred pounder.

The circumstances concerning my knowledge of this incident are: Those
four rebels ran from the brush to a small log-house about fifteen or
twenty rods from the road where we were marching, and were firing
from their hiding place. A squad was sent out there and surrounded
the little log-house. This true love escaped by jumping through the
window, and was shot and killed. The other three were taken prisoners.

I made my way to the Union woman in the next block. I saw a dozen
wounded men go into the house. Thinks I to myself, "There is no
chance there for me to get any milk," but before I reached the house
they came out again, and I went in. She was a fine, clever-looking
woman, with three little girl children. I made known my wants.

"Yes," she said, "I have plenty of milk for you, although I have been
refusing it all day; so many came together that the little I had
would do them no good." At the same time she poured the milk out
into a cooking utensil and placed it on the stove and said, "As you
came alone I have plenty for you; and indeed you need it more than
any one who has come in here to-day."

She broke some round crackers into the milk, inquired about my wound,
said it smelled bad, took off the bandage, washed it and dressed it
with new linen and threw my old bandages out doors. By this time my
milk and crackers were cooked. As I could not chew or open my mouth
to take in coarse food, she fixed it so it was thin, like gruel;
cooled it sufficiently, spread a table cloth on part of the table
where I sat, and I felt just ninety-nine per cent. better than when I
first entered that house. Her cheerfulness and willingness to do good
made me feel so much better that I could not express it by words. I
drew that food through my teeth with such force that it did not take
a very great length of time to put it where it was much needed for a
nourishment.

I will say right here when you found a Union man or woman in the
Southern States, you found them as loyal and as true as steel. I was
now ready to go on my journey to Resaca. The train was to leave
there at 8 o'clock. Before I left Adairsville hospital I changed a
$5 bill and gave half of it to a comrade of mine, John Howard, who
was shot in the elbow. Twenty-six pieces of bone were taken out of
his elbow. Dr. Hasse wanted to cut it off, but Howard said he would
rather die with it on than live with it off. The doctor thought
possibly that he might save it. The weather was very warm. Gangrene
set in. His arm was cut off three times, and the poor fellow, after
a long season of suffering, went to the other shore. Changing the $5
bill, which was all the money I had, left me with two dollars and a
half in fifty cent shinplasters, as we called that kind of money.
In bidding good-bye to my good Union woman, with tears in my eyes I
offered her all the money I had. She would not take any. She said
it did her so much good to do something for a Union soldier that
she only wished she could do more. I took her address and bade her
good-bye. Her three little girls followed me out to the gate leading
on the sidewalk, and I slipped fifty cents apiece in their little
hands. I felt so much better, and my heart was so filled up with
the kindness that I received from that good Union woman in the very
heart of the Confederate States, that if I had had it I could have
given those little ones one hundred dollars apiece as willingly as I
gave them fifty cents each. That woman saved my life, for gangrene
was beginning to show itself, and I never could have reached Resaca
without that nourishment and the cleansing of my wound. I reached
Resaca just as the train was pulling out, grabbed hold of the side
door of the last box-car and the boys pulled me in while the train
was moving quite fast.

It commenced raining very hard and the night was as dark as pitch.
Our train jogged along at the rate such trains usually do. We came to
an up-grade, when all at once there came a crash and a smash. I was
in the hindmost end of the rear car and was jerked up to the front
end in a shorter time than you could say Jack Robinson. A trainload
of new recruits was coming to the front, the cars being full inside
and many on top. The engineer should have stopped at the station
and switched until the train with the wounded went by. He paid no
attention to the signal and went right ahead to the top of a grade,
where he pulled the throttle of his engine wide open and let her
go. Jumping off his engine, he made his escape. He was a rebel, and
took advantage of his first opportunity to apply his vengeance. It
was a terrible sight to look at. Many of the wounded were killed and
some of the new recruits and many were disabled. It took till late
next day to get fixed up for our destination. There I lost my diary,
with the address of that good Union woman that did so much for me at
Calhoun, Georgia.

After I recruited up some, and others the same as myself, who were
supposed not to be fit for duty within a certain time, we were sent
farther north to make room for new-comers. I was sent to New Albany,
Indiana, where I remained two weeks, when a general order was issued
that all not fit for duty inside of sixty days should be sent to
their respective state hospitals. An examination was made by the
surgeon in charge, and I was sent to Madison, Wisconsin. After I was
a few weeks in Madison I called on Governor J. T. Lewis in regard to
my commission. It was then the tenth in order on file in his office,
but he would give me one then and there. There were vacancies in
my company. I refused to take it. There were others higher in rank
than I, and I did not want to jump over them; and, in fact, we came
home without a commissioned officer, an orderly sergeant in command
of the company, John N. Keifer, who received his commission dated
back, as captain, as brave a boy as ever lived to draw saber. Ed.
Blake, a corporal in my company, carried a commission in his pocket
that he received from the Governor, but never reported for duty as an
officer. Such was the honor the old boys had for each other in rank.

I stayed in Madison about two months and could have had my discharge
given me by Surgeon-General Swift, medical director of the Western
Department, with headquarters at Milwaukee, but would not take it. I
wanted to go back and take my chances of coming home with the rest of
the boys. I had the use of my limbs all right and could shoot, but
had to be very careful how I bit the cartridge. There were six pieces
of bone taken from my left lower jaw, and it hurt very much to bite
off the cartridge.

My memory now takes me back to my regiment, with which I was in
several battles after my four months' absence on account of my wound.
And now this brings me to the last battle of Nashville, December 15th
and 16th, 1864. We fought the rebel General Hood, who had followed
us from Franklin and fortified himself in our front, near Nashville.
We marched out to them and made the attack. They held us back. We
were relieved by a brigade of colored troops. While we were cooking
something to eat the colored troops made a charge on the rebel works
and got as far, or to a distance where the rebels had fallen trees
towards us, as an obstruction to our advancement. There the colored
brigade fired one volley and then lay down. The rebels peppered it
to them so thick and fast, they even stood up on their breastworks
and took aim at that black cloud, as they called them. We were
marched down there again, in double-quick time, the rebels shouting
and shooting and waving their hats like so many demons. When they
saw us coming for them right through and over the colored troops and
tree branches they ceased firing and had their arms stacked when we
climbed their breastworks, took off their hats and surrendered,
saying, "Hello, Jack; hello, Tom; hello, Jim. Say, Yanks, never send
a black cloud to take our breastworks. We were retreating when we saw
them coming. When some one said, 'It's a black cloud, boys; let's
every man stand fast; never be taken prisoners or surrender to them
darkies, or give them our breastworks while there is a man of us left
alive.'"

And then we commenced shaking hands with each other. There were some
of them who were nearly barefooted, with pants ripped nearly up to
their knees; tall, fine-looking, good-hearted fellows, from Georgia.
This ended the battles of the war, so far as we were concerned, and
old Pap. Thomas drank the health of the old Army of the Cumberland.
We stayed around Nashville for some time, got our discharge, and, on
the 10th day of June, 1865, broke ranks in Milwaukee. I bought a suit
of citizen's clothes for $85 that could be bought to-day for $25.

There was a strong Fenian movement in Milwaukee just about that time,
with the object in view of taking Canada. I happened in to Melm's, a
saloon where the new Pabst building now stands, if my memory serves
me right, and I think it does. There was a big crowd of men in there
talking war, Fenians and Canada, all feeling good. Of course, I had a
say about the war and other topics of conversation that were sprung
into discussion as well as anybody else had, and seemed to interest
some of my hearers. They wanted me to get up on a round table near
by. There were two or three rows of tables in there. I would not get
up on the table. I was taken hold of and placed on the table. Well, I
talked a little while, and then came down to war matters. I said the
Battle of Stone River lasted seven days and it cost this government
nine millions of dollars a day, and asked, "What would we do if we
didn't have a government to back us? Do you think we could carry on
a war by some one of us having a few dollars in our pockets? Foolish
idea; that is your predicament, gentlemen." Of course, that was
disparaging the movement, but I did not intend it for that particular
purpose. I was simply telling the truth as well as I knew how, when
somebody hit me. I jumped off the table, lost my hat in the row and
never found it.

I went to Illinois to work as a farm hand for $1 a day for every day
in the year, wet or dry, hail, rain or sunshine, board and washing
free, and with what money I had saved up, bought a piece of land at
twenty dollars per acre, with a mortgage of $1,500 on it, payable in
gold coin, but it was paid off with the greenback dollar. I lived on
that farm for twenty-six years and brought it to a very high state of
cultivation. I sold it out seven years ago, at one hundred dollars
per acre, the first $100 acre land that was ever sold in my township,
and came to Milwaukee, the scene of my boyhood days. I have been a
delegate to state and county conventions and held offices of trust in
the township where I lived; but, commander and comrades, I can say to
you, with candor, that I never saw an assembly of men that act more
gentlemanly with each other, and that I felt more proud of, and that
I felt more at home with than I do with the members of E. B. Wolcott
Post.



PULPIT AND PRESS.

An Argument in Favor of the Power of the Press as Compared with that
of the Clergy.

Delivered at Phenix School House, Towanda Township, Ill., February 8,
1877, by Thomas J. Ford.


Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen and Honorable Judges: In choosing
a side on the question before you I am influenced by nothing save
conviction, and, in saying what little I do, to show that the press
has more influence than the pulpit, I am not guided by a desire to
detract from the merits of the pulpit, but simply by a wish to have
the press estimated at its proper value. In discussing the question
we must seek effects, and, by comparing them, arrive at a correct
decision. And right here I wish, honorable judges, ladies and
gentlemen, that you would remember that all examples of times past
are not fair ones. When we consider that preaching has been practiced
from the earliest ages, even from before the time of Christ, the
great Preacher, down through the Middle Ages, when there was no such
thing as printing even, and that printing itself was invented as
late as 1441, while the press, as we now know it, is a product of
the latter part of the present century, all examples of the power of
the pulpit, therefore, that are taken from olden times are unfair,
and the question must be considered as it is framed, "Which has the
most influence at the present time?" And even now your decision must
be arrived at by cool, patient investigation, and you must set down
Bible banging and pulpit shouting at their proper worth and estimate
the influence of the press, which acts like the still small voice of
conscience, at its real value; you must bring scales, more delicate
than Fairbanks cattle scales, and be prepared to weigh small pigs
one by one as carefully as your Christmas beeves, for you may be
assured if we bring enough of them the sum of their weights will be
greater than that of the monster cattle. Here is where the advocates
of the pulpit have the advantage. Anyone can see the effect of the
conversion of a sinner or the result of a revival, but to measure the
silent influence of the paper requires greater judgment. The most
casual observer can see the dust of the threshing machine, but the
man must be right there who sees the number of bushels threshed. So,
gentlemen, if the sum of all the influence of the press outweighs the
influence of the pulpit, then must you decide for the press.

They may point you to revival preaching and show you how Moody
converts his thousands; but you must consider how much he is helped
by Sankey and the daily papers that create a kind of spiritual
atmosphere about him, because a force acts at an instant of time. You
must not infer that its effect is greater than if it acts through
ages. Constant dropping wears the rock, and mechanics teaches us
that a force creates the same result, whether acting in a moment or
at length. You may burn a cord of wood in the open air, but because
its blaze is seen the farthest you must not infer that it has a
greater effect than if burned in the furnace that makes the steam
that grinds your daily bread. In England, where the pulpit has an
influence in temporal as well as spiritual affairs, they speak of the
third estate of the kingdom, and enumerate those estates or classes
of men, such as the lawyers, the Parliament, the clergy, the crown.
They call the houses of Parliament the two estates, and the third
is not the clergy or even the crown, but the press. There the whole
kingdom bows before the utterances of the London Times, which is
called the Thunderer. The papers there influence finance, legislation
and the policy of the government. The press there is recognized as
having more influence than the pulpit or the clergy, and, why? Go
with me to our own legislature, and you will see the reason, and you
will see also how much the press has to do with the laws that govern
us. You will see before each member his pile of newspapers, and can
notice how eagerly he scans the columns to see words of commendation
or condemnation. You can see how much he is influenced by his
little home papers in his votes and speeches. Some years ago the
financial editor of the London Times was indicted and removed from
his position because he wrote articles that influenced the money
markets. It shook the money centers when corruption was shown in a
newspaper editor, but it scarcely causes a ripple of excitement when
a minister is corrupt. The church itself concedes the power of the
press and supports them accordingly. In simple numbers it is plain
that the papers have the greatest power.

If you consider how each man's thoughts and actions are controlled by
what he reads you must say that the influence of the press is greater
than the pulpit. It has been well said that the pen is mightier than
the sword, and it might be added or the pulpit either.

Ladies and Gentlemen, there is another argument worthy of your
attention, and it is a well-settled fact that the eye assists the
mind in remembering anything. Can you say that the words of the
preacher have the same effect on the memory as the printed page?
Test it yourself, gentlemen; let any one read a book aloud and see
who has the freshest recollection of the subject--he who reads it or
he who simply hears it read. I think that not even the affirmative
will contend that the hearer understands the matter as well as
the reader, and, this point conceded, it must follow that as the
press has the greatest audience it has more influence. More money
is spent for papers than for preachers. Now, ladies and gentlemen
and honorable judges, in the argument of this, as in the discussion
of all other questions, we can arrive at no final decision. It is
not like telling which of two small objects weighs the most, but as
though you were to attempt to tell which of two sections of land
had the most black soil in it. Each one must at least decide for
himself, and yet there are some clear and strong facts from which
we can form a judgment, and from those facts that I have given you
I am constrained to say that the press has more influence than the
pulpit. Look how universal is the force that the press exerts from
the highest to the lowest far and wide. Where is the family in McLean
County that does not see and read the weekly paper? There is no one
here who cannot tell of scores of families that scarcely ever see the
inside of church. What was it that passed the pension bill? Nothing
but the united voice of the press speaking the will of the people
educated by the press. Go into Congress or any of your legislatures
and you will see papers read and quoted; and the papers actually
dictate legislation. Look at the amount invested in newspapers and
in churches in the United States. It is fixed by the last census at
three hundred and fifty millions of dollars. And the amount paid to
preachers will run it up to five hundred millions invested directly
for the pulpit, and this, too, is aside from the amount invested in
seminaries. The amount invested in newspapers does not reach half
this sum, yet the number of people reached by the papers is immensely
greater than that reached by the pulpit. Let us come down to familiar
instances. The Pantagraph, for instance, has a circulation of 13,700
papers per week. Each paper is read by five persons and you have
an audience of sixty-eight thousand persons reached every week by
the Bloomington Pantagraph. The sum invested in the First Methodist
Church is more than is invested in The Pantagraph, but it would be
idle to say the influence exerted by the preacher in that church is
equal to the influence exerted by The Pantagraph. Each issue of the
daily contains as much and each issue of the weekly four times as
much as he gives to his hearers each Sunday. And so it is all over
the land. Clearly, then, for the money invested the press has the
greatest influence. Suppose as much money were invested in papers as
there is in churches. Would not the effects be wonderful? What is
printed in the papers may be read time and again, what is uttered
from the pulpit may be heard only once, and then lost forever. It is
not reasonable to suppose that the pulpit has as much influence as
the press. What is it that influences legislation, the pulpit or the
press? Undoubtedly the press. Did you ever hear of a congressman or
legislator quoting a preacher in support of a measure? Never. Yet
the law is something that affects each individual. Did you ever hear
of the pulpit controlling the market? Never. Yet this is what the
press is doing daily. What was it that brought the rebellion upon us?
Nothing but the continual howling of the Southern press. In war, in
peace, in money matters, in everything and everywhere, the press has
the greatest influence. Educate by the press, bring pure, good, sound
papers into your family, and be assured you are throwing around them
the greatest protection. Elevate the standard of the press, and may
there always be a fearless, independent press in our land that will
not hesitate to apply the goad to those in high places.

Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for your attention.

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THAT LEXINGTON IMPUDENCE.

An Arraignment of the Democratic Party on Account of its Platform
During the Garfield Campaign.

Written on a Bed of Sickness by Thomas J. Ford, and Published in the
Newspapers of Bloomington, Ill., November, 1880.


To the Editor: In your account of the Democratic rally at Lexington
I noticed that mention is made of the delegation from Merna carrying
a banner with the inscription "Irish of Merna all for Hancock." I
assume the authority to say that the "Irish of Merna are not all for
Hancock," although the Democratic speakers of Bloomington have made
several speeches at Merna, telling what distress the country is now
in under the bad management of the Republican party.

About the surplus. They say that there are one hundred millions of
dollars in the United States treasury, and bring that in as an act
of stealing from the people. Where is the nation, where is the
state, county or town, where is the church, the school or one of the
different societies that does not boast of it when they have money in
their treasury? Should Democracy get control I fear the money would
not be in the treasury very long. How much money was in the treasury
when Buchanan and his Democratic cabinet left the White House and
turned over this government to the Republican party, all tattered and
torn and nearly in a state of insurrection?

Should the Democratic party get into power this fall the reins of
this government will be peaceably placed in their hands, with the
ship of state sailing in a clear channel. About the tariff. The
Democratic speakers tell their audience that boots and shoes are too
high, and that a change in the administration will be the adoption
of free trade, which will compel the manufacturers of this country
to bring down their prices or close up business. The Republican
party don't want to close up the manufacturing business of this
country by adopting any such measures, for England can undersell any
other nation on the globe. Her labor costs little or nothing, and
I believe that I know that the majority of the people of the United
States do not want to give England a chance to bring her old store
goods and land them on our shores free from tariff for the purpose of
under-selling our own tradesmen.

The effect on Ireland. In or about the year 1800 Ireland was one of
the most prosperous manufacturing countries in Europe. She continued
such until about the year 1820, when England succeeded in persuading
the Irish Parliament to adopt the free-trade system. As soon as that
was accomplished, England unloaded her cargoes of goods free from
tariff on Ireland's shores, and down went Ireland's manufacturing
establishments. Look at the condition in which the Democratic party
left this country in 1860-61. It took fifty bushels of good sound
corn (not soft whisky corn) delivered in Bloomington to buy a pair
of $5 boots; farm hands husked corn for 50 cents a day; thousands
of farms were under mortgage; there was no money to pay with; the
situation was terrible in the extreme until the Republican party,
fully competent to meet the emergency, issued the greenback dollar
that was welcomed by the laborer and the farmer and drove out the
Democratic stump-tail currency, but was despised by the capitalists,
who had their money loaned on farms and on other real estate on
mortgages drawn payable in gold coin. They refused to take the
greenback for a dollar, but the Republican party said this is a
dollar and you must take it, which filled with joy the hearts of many
a father, wife and mother. Men that I know, and many of them who
had very close picking to live under the Democratic administration,
are now, by industry, close attention to business, and with the
Republican flag of freedom floating over their heads, marching along
unmolested in their business, yes, protected in their industries and
enterprises until they are now wealthy. If they had to pay off their
mortgages in gold coin money a poor man would have lost his home, for
it took about three dollars in greenbacks to buy one gold dollar. I
am one of the many that once went to pay off a mortgage of that kind,
the amount being five hundred and fifty dollars, including interest,
due to a well-known capitalist of Bloomington. I tendered the money
to him in greenbacks. He said, "No, sir, I want about sixteen
hundred dollars of them things or five hundred and fifty in gold."
I insisted that he should take the greenbacks. He said he would see
his attorney, George O. Robinson, a well-known lawyer of Bloomington,
and after so doing he accepted my money and released the mortgage.
And this is only one instance in thousands of such cases all over the
United States. When the Southern majority of the Democratic party
rebelled against the Union they took what gold they could get hold of
to Richmond and left us but very little to meet our obligations. And
now, after twenty years of Republican administration, faithful and
true to their trust, and to the people of all sections and classes,
they, by economy and good management, have succeeded in being able
to place in the treasury of the United States the sum of over four
hundred millions of gold dollars to the credit of the people of the
United States, ready when called upon to be paid out to the just
claimant. That is the way every honest man meets his just debts.
He always has it ready if he possibly can. There are a great many
first voters and other young men that, of course, have no personal
knowledge of how a Democratic administration would suit them,
because they have had no experience with the party. They have never
seen the party in control of the government. If they would look back
just as far as they can remember and notice the progress this country
has made for the last twenty years they must say that the Republican
administration was good, was a great deal better than good, taking
into consideration the deplorable condition that the Democratic
administration had left it in: Shooting down loyal men in the South,
tearing the Stars and Stripes, the flag of this country, into pieces
and trampling it under their feet, while the riotous Democrats of the
North formed into howling mobs against the Federal Government, and by
so doing gave the rebel cause more encouragement than if they were in
the rebel ranks fighting for the rebel cause. These are incidents in
the history of the Democratic party; with all these facts in view and
facts that they know to be true, they have the cheek every four years
to come to the front and claim that they are the party that should
hold the reins of this government. It remains for the voters of the
United States to answer at the coming election.

Now, Mr. Editor, in answer to that false inscription displayed at
Lexington. I have been ill in bed for seven weeks, but am now able to
be out-doors, and if I am alive on election day I will be one of the
many Irishmen of Merna, Towanda Township, McLean County, Illinois,
that will vote for Garfield and Arthur, for they are the nominees of
the party that has always proved itself true to the people and the
nation and the nation's credit. The time has not yet arrived when a
change of administration would be best for the public good, and the
voters of the United States will see to it at the coming election
that the reins of this government will be held and guided by its
friends and not by its enemies.

[Illustration: (end of chapter icon)]



SHOULD EDUCATION BE COMPULSORY?

Why a Liberal Allowance Should be Made for our Schools, while Leaving
Attendance Optional.

Debate at Smith Grove (Illinois) School-House, February 4, 1878,
Participated in by Thomas J. Ford.


Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen and Honorable Judges: The
question before you, "Should Education Be Compulsory?" is a question
of much importance, both to the citizen and the public. To insist
that every child in Illinois should attend school a certain number
of years would require that much of our legislation and many of our
customs should be changed. We can safely say that any interference
with a man's private affairs is contrary to the spirit of our
American institutions, and for this reason any attempt to introduce
an argument from the practice in Europe is not a good one, for the
reason that man has been more completely governed in the Old World.
We must look at the case as it will affect our own condition, and not
as it affects others. It is illogical for me to say to my neighbor,
have your child educated, and he must be, although you are in bed
sick and that child is your only support. Only the greatest reasons
will justify that interference with the rights of the individual
citizen. Every parent is naturally constituted the guardian of his
children, and is most capable to tell what is for their benefit.
Every father by nature seeks the welfare of his children, and any
attempt by law to make him do it is apt to prove useless. But we are
met with the argument that the good of the state requires that each
citizen be educated. Granted, but let the state furnish facilities
for education, and there its duty stops. The last speaker told us
that ignorance is the cause of crime and that most of our jails and
prisons are filled with ignorant and uneducated people. You cannot
prove this to be true, for it is utterly exploded by facts. The
inmates of our jails and prisons are in the majority educated people.
You cannot say that each one of the inmates of our jails and prisons
has no education any more than you can say that ignorance is the
cause of crime, for most of the expert criminals that are in our
jails and prisons are educated men. Herbert Spencer, one of the best
Social Science philosophers living, has shown this to be true, and
has shown that the educated criminal can stare you out of countenance
every day in the week. You can no more prove that ignorance is a
cause of crime than the neglect to use soap is a cause. The truth
is, deviltry is born in a man, and you cannot educate it out of him
one time in a hundred. You must look for a better argument, for
that is utterly exploded by facts. Should education be compulsory,
then, for the benefit of the child? The welfare of posterity is a
great question and worthy of your consideration. But we can safely
assume that in this day and country everyone that wants an education
can get it; and when you come right down to the facts in the case,
the man who is educated is the man who thirsts for knowledge. All
the cramming you can give will not make an educated man. Many a man
who has never been inside of a school-house is better educated than
some who have gone through college and hold diplomas. But the minute
you say that the youth of the land must be educated, you involve
yourself in absurdity. You cannot logically say that he must go to
school till he is fourteen years old, as the law is in Germany, for
it is clear to all that some will learn much more in that time than
others. Some may be sick so as not to be able to keep up with their
grades. If education should be compulsory then it is manifest that
you should have a certain amount. For instance, the pupil should
understand the common school learning, to make a good citizen under
the compulsory law; he should understand the constitution of his
state and the United States and the laws and spirit of American
institutions. He should understand the laws of health, so as to
preserve his own life and the life of others. Church people might
insist that the welfare of the state and the individual demands
that he understand how to preach. Here you have the student that
is through our public schools, a lawyer, a doctor and a preacher,
or three learned men rolled into one. It would take a pretty good
lifetime to make a complete citizen under the law of compulsory
education. You may say that what I propose is an absurdity, but
it is an absurdity into which your own argument leads you; it is
the natural conclusion of your own logic. The fact is, that the
same reasoning that will justify compulsory education will justify
a state church and compulsory attendance at such church. In both
cases the good of the citizen and the safety of the state are the
objects sought, and both are illogical, un-American and tyrannical
in their tendencies. If you have compulsory education who shall say
how far it shall go--you have no more right to say than I have. Now,
I want you to understand that I am not opposed to general, universal
education. I am in favor of it, but to compel it is improper and
unjust. By adopting compulsory education you take away the support of
the widow, even if she be in bed sick with her bony fingers unable
to support herself. Adopt compulsory education then and you begin to
rob the citizen of his liberty. If you can say how much or whether
he shall be educated, then you can say what she shall eat and wear.
All arguments for compulsory education are dangerous to individual
liberty, and for these reasons, while I am in favor of liberal and
general education, I am utterly opposed to its being compulsory.



WASHINGTON AND LINCOLN.

The Memory of the Father of His Country More Lasting than that of the
Defender of Liberty.

Discussion at Phenix School House, Towanda Township, McLean County,
Ill., February 12, 1878. Affirmative taken by Thomas J. Ford, in
whose favor the judges awarded their decision.


Ladies and Gentlemen and Honorable Judges: The question before us
is, "Resolved, That George Washington has done more for the American
people than Abraham Lincoln." My feelings for Abraham Lincoln will
not allow me to say anything that would have a tendency to deprive
him of the merits which he deserves.

Abraham Lincoln was a good, honest old gentleman, but my heart is
with George Washington, the Father of this country, who was "first
in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen."
Whatever I shall say on the subject before you, I will say, not
from a desire to win the decision of the judges, but from a sincere
belief of the truth of the resolution, that Washington has done
more for the American people than Lincoln. Whatever I say will be
without malice toward Abraham Lincoln, but with greater reverence
for George Washington, for, in common with all citizens of the
State of Illinois, I admire the merits of the grandest man Illinois
ever furnished; and right here, honorable judges, I want to ask you
to cast aside that prejudice that must be in the heart of every
resident of this state. Let your mind be as equal between the two
men as a delicate balance, for unless it is you cannot reach a valid
conclusion and whatever either side would say would be useless.

Another thing. You must forget the tragic end of Lincoln's life
to arrive at a correct decision, for that martyrized him and gave
him a martyr's fame and a martyr's crown, and threw a hallowed
glamour over every previous act of his life. You must separate what
he actually accomplished from the stage effects surrounding what
he did. The play that is read to you in the parlor leaves no such
impression on your mind as the same play presented to you on the
stage with fine scenery and blue and red lights; the one is a kind
of a dream, the other a living actuality. So with the two great
men whose works we are discussing to-night, the history of one is
a misty recollection of the past, the history of the other some of
us helped to make. I have for one, and have reason to sigh for the
blood that I lost and the pain that I endure at times. One of the men
we have never seen; the other some of us have clasped by the hand.
Washington lived nearly a thousand miles from here, and nearly a
hundred years ago. Lincoln lived within a few hours' journey, and but
a few years ago. Washington lived in a time when the steam printing
press, the daily papers and the telegraph were not dreamed of,
while the great facilities for gathering news have made us familiar
with every incident in Lincoln's life. We must divest ourselves
of the unconscious prejudice we possess from our more intimate
acquaintance with Lincoln. Future generations must and will form
the correct estimate between the two men; future generations will
see the difference between the man who hewed out a new road in the
forest and the one who merely kept it in repair. Be assured, ladies
and gentlemen, they will give palm to the pioneer. In the one case
you see a man at the head of an army, sparse in numbers, ill armed,
poorly fed and clothed and confronted by the army of the strongest
nation on earth. George Washington was at the head of an army whose
soldiers too often sighed after the flesh-pots of their homes and
firesides that they had left, an army whose generals were tempted
by British gold and English honors, an army only kept together
by the faith, enthusiasm and moral courage of its leader. And on
the other hand you see Abraham Lincoln at the head of a nation,
the commander-in-chief, by virtue of his office, of an army far
outnumbering that of the Rebellion, with a land full of plenty and
wealth, with a people enthusiastic in the defense of their homes and
cherished institutions. Washington had supplies grudgingly voted him
by the factious Continental Congress, while Lincoln had a treasury
filled with funds supplied to overflowing by a willing people and a
united Congress.

Washington lived in a land of poverty; Lincoln lived in a land of
wealth. Washington was beset by obstacles, danger, poverty and
the uncertainty attending all new ventures, while Lincoln, though
confronted by dangers, merely kept the ship of state running in the
same channel. Washington was the Columbus who discovered the new
nation, who built, manned and navigated a new ship of state over
an unknown sea, while Lincoln was merely the captain of the onward
steamer, which is as certain of reaching its post as we are of going
to Bloomington when we start in times when the roads are better than
they are now.

Washington was the creator, Lincoln merely the engineer who kept the
machine running. If Lincoln deserves the laurel wreath, Washington
deserves the crown of honor.



AS TO PENSIONS.

Veterans of the Late War Should be Rewarded, but the Pension List
Should not be Published.

A Letter Addressed to the Editor of the Evening Wisconsin, Milwaukee,
by Thomas J. Ford, December 13, 1897.


Editor Wisconsin: The statement in your article on publishing the
pension list that "the influence of the Loyal Legion and of many
members of the Grand Army of the Republic is said to be back of the
measure," may or may not be true. But it is true that there seems to
be considerable agitation in the minds of many as to the propriety
of granting pensions to those who periled their lives and lost
their health and limb and received wounds that shadow the light and
intellect, that otherwise might have shone forth in its splendor and
glory. The loss of a man's health, whether it be caused by wounds or
other disabilities, is a very sad affair to the good soldier, who
bears his sufferings in quiet; and, like everything else, the older
the soldiers get the more reason they have to complain, and the less
sympathy there is for them. The fact is, Mr. Editor, every soldier
that went through active field service ought to have a pension.
There is not one man in a thousand in that class of soldiery but is
physically disabled in some way or other.

Think of it--an army wading rivers up to their breast in water
at sundown in the months of December and January, and lying down
in their wet clothes on the bare ground, with an allowance of
one-quarter rations, already eaten up the day before! Think of the
Battle of Chickamauga, when, hemmed in in the Valley of Chattanooga,
for two months and four days with railroad and river communications
cut off by rebel forces, men forced by hunger ate horses and mules
that had actually died for the want of food. Think of the many good
men and soldiers that lost their health in rebel prisons. And then
ask yourself if it is right to post them up in printed form for
the public gaze and the calumny of men who would rather sympathize
with a rebel than to give a Union soldier a pension. Look at the
generous pension bill passed some few years ago under a Democratic
administration--a sweeping pension bill giving every soldier that
served in the Mexican war a pension of twelve dollars a month--no
proof required only proof of service; no examining board--just send
in your discharge with proof that you are the man, and you got your
pension without further trouble. But to please the calamity-howlers
and the rebel cause sympathizers you must post your good men and true
that saved your country for you. They must be posted up for public
inspection. You say the pensions are paid by taxation. I pay a few
dollars taxes. I never saw anything in my receipt for pension taxes.
Your Washington correspondent says a pension is a badge of honor. It
ain't much honor for a soldier to get a pension and have his name
published to be unjustly criticised by men who have no knowledge of
the fact of his being worthy to receive a pension or not. With my
experience in getting a pension I don't see how there could be one
single impostor on the pension rolls; and if there is it is the duty
of the government to hunt them up and prosecute them for falsifying,
forgery and perjury, as any citizen should be prosecuted for such a
crime, and not be harassing and annoying your good old boys who wore
the blue to save this country and protect our country's flag for you.

I heard Paul Vandervoort, ex-Commander-in-Chief of the G. A. R.,
say that the pension pay roll was the purest pay roll in the United
States to-day, and I believe him, and I also believe that they got
the least pay for the work done of any men that were ever or are
now in the United States employment. And now they must be posted up
because they get a few dollars pension.

Let Congress hunt up the deficiency in other branches of government
business and employes and not be tantalizing the old warriors with
publishing documents. Be more liberal with the pensions and if you
want to economize cut off 10 per cent. of the big salaries of all our
high officials, and if you do that you will come more in line with
justice and honor than by publishing the pension list. Yours,

  THOMAS J. FORD.



DEPARTURE OF THOMAS J. FORD.

The Well-Known Farmer and Politician will Make Milwaukee His Home.

From the Bloomington Bulletin, December 21st, 1891.


Mr. T. J. Ford, of Merna, has gone to Milwaukee to reside. This will
be unwelcome news to his myriads of friends in McLean County, who
admired him for his honorable principles and friendly bearing. Mr.
Ford was born in Boston, Mass. When he was aged 12 he emigrated with
his father to Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. When a very young man he
enlisted in the army, and did such valiant service in the Union ranks
that he was made sergeant. He carries to this day a ball in his left
breast, which tells of his heroism more eloquently than sheepskin can
portray. In 1866 he came to McLean County and located near Merna,
where he owned a large tract of as fine a land as is in fertile
Illinois.

Mr. Ford has one weakness, and it is a conspicuous fault, that of
being a Republican. It is conspicuous because of his enthusiasm. He
has taken so much interest in politics that he has frequently been
called upon to make speeches, and on the stump he made a rousing
impression by the wit and tone that he injected into his discourse.
Though wayward enough to be a Republican, he had warm friends among
all classes, who respected him for the staunch manner in which he
spoke his convictions. Mr. Ford's wife died recently, and that broke
the ties to his old home on the farm. Some days ago he had an immense
sale, from which he realized large cash. This, it seems, was the
preparatory step to his leaving. He bid farewell to the community in
which he was such a prominent benefactor and left for the scenes of
his boyhood. He has the best wishes of all who know him.



COMMENDED BY HIS SUPERIORS.

The Officers of the 24th Wisconsin Infantry Speak Highly of Thomas J.
Ford.


  Headquarters Company H, Twenty-fourth Regiment,
  Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry; Second
  Division, Fourth Army Corps.

  Loudon, Tenn., Feb. 17th, 1864.

I certify on honor that Sergt. Thomas J. Ford, of Franklin, Milwaukee
County, Wisconsin, is a member of my company, and I do recommend said
Sergt. Thomas J. Ford for his good conduct, sobriety and soldiery
bearings. He has been engaged with the regiment in four battles and
several skirmishes, and has proved himself a faithful and brave
soldier. His soldierly conduct, both in camp and in the field, cannot
be surpassed. I do believe him as brave and true as any man ever
enlisted in defense of his country.

  GEORGE COOTE,

  First Lieutenant, Commanding Company H, Twenty-fourth
  Wisconsin Regiment.

  WM. KENNEDY,

  Captain Company G, Twenty-fourth Wisconsin Regiment.

  I concur in the above.

  T. S. WEST,

  Colonel Twenty-fourth Wisconsin.

  JOHN N. KIEFER,

  Orderly Sergeant Company H, Twenty-fourth
  Wisconsin Volunteers.

[Illustration: (end of chapter icon)]



  TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE

  Obvious typographical errors and punctuation errors have been
  corrected after careful comparison with other occurrences within
  the text and consultation of external sources.

  Except for those changes noted below, all misspellings in the text,
  and inconsistent or archaic usage, have been retained. For example:
  tomorrow, to-morrow; School House, School-House; martyrized; calked.

  Table of Contents created by the transcriber.
  Pg 11, 'goods boys' replaced by 'good boys'.
  Pg 18, 'like a mon' replaced by 'like a man'.
  Pg 30, 'he appared to' replaced by 'he appeared to'.
  Pg 55, 'I reacher Resaca' replaced by 'I reached Resaca'.
  Pg 71, 'Repubican party' replaced by 'Republican party'.
  Pg 91, 'harrassing' replaced by 'harassing'.
  Pg 95, 'Vounteers' replaced by 'Volunteers'.





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