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Title: Four Months in Libby and the Campaign Against Atlanta
Author: Johnston, I. N.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1864,


  In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern
  District of Ohio.


I might plead, with truth, "the solicitations of friends" as my
apology for appearing in print; but as mine is an unpracticed pen,
the public, perhaps, may demand a better reason. Without any crime
I have been an inmate of the foulest of Southern prisons, and a
companion of the brave men whose condition and treatment has called
forth the sympathy of the nation, and which will yet call forth the
condemnation of the civilized world. I was one of the party that
planned and executed one of the most remarkable escapes known to
history--the record of which will be enduring as that of the war
itself. The labors and perils of which I was a partaker will, I am
well assured, give an interest to these pages which the charm of
style can never impart to a tale wanting in stirring incident. I
write, then, simply because I have a story to tell, which many will
take pleasure in hearing, and which, I doubt not, in after years
will employ a more skillful pen than mine.

Those with whom I have sat around the camp-fire, shared the
weariness of the march, and the dangers of the battle, will like
my story none the less for being plainly told; and my companions
in Libby, and the partners of my flight, will think of other
matters than brilliant sentences and round periods, as they read
these pages. I claim no leadership in the enterprise of which I
write--the time has not yet come to give honor to whom honor is
due; the reason of my silence in this respect will appear in the
course of my narrative.

When I began these pages I had no intention of carrying the reader
beyond my escape from Libby. I have, however, been induced to add
an account of Sherman's great campaign against Atlanta; and while
this will, perhaps, have less interest for the general reader, it
will possess more for those who were with me in that memorable
march. My friends, I am sure, will be indulgent; may I express the
hope that all others will have their sympathies too much aroused
for our brave boys, still in prison, to be critical?





  Character of the age--My own experiences--Object of my
  book--Entering the service--Elected Captain--The 6th
  Kentucky--Its deeds                                      PAGE 9



  My first battle, and how I felt--Wounded and left on the
  field--Disasters of first day and final triumph              21



  The battle--Am taken prisoner--Trip to Richmond--Incidents
  on the way--Star-Spangled Banner sung in Dixie--Kind
  treatment--Arrival at Richmond                               33



  Richmond--The prison--Treatment of Prisoners--Plans of
  escape--Sad Failures--Prospect of success                    46



  A new plan adopted--Nature of the task--In the tunnel--Maj.
  M'Donald's adventure--My own disappearance--Given
  up as escaped--Fislar's story                                65



  My home and company--Great alarm--Still safe--The work
  renewed--Success--Last night in Libby--Words on leaving      81



  The last night--Farewell to Libby--Sufferings and dangers
  --The North Star our guide--The faithful negro--A false
  friend--Almost retaken--The contrast                         95



  In the swamp--Meeting our pickets--Warm welcome--Kind
  treatment--Interview with General Butler--Arrival at
  Washington                                                  113



  Return home--How I spent my furlough--Join my regiment
  --Changes--Forward movement--Tunnel Hill--Rocky
  Face--Resaca                                                127



  Confidence in our leader--Tunnel Hill and Rocky Face
  Mountain--Pursuit of the enemy--Johnston's strategy--In
  command of my regiment--Battle near Dallas--Night on the
  battle-field--Reflections                                   142



  Reminder to the reader--Sherman, Howard, and Thomas in
  council--The attack and repulse--The Sixth Kentucky in
  front again--In the trenches--Guarding train--Forward
  march                                                       155



  Pine Mountain and death of Gen. Polk--Georgia scenery
  --Before Kenesaw--The unreturning brave--Marietta ours
  --Across the Chattahoochee                                  167



  Intrenching all night--Gallant exploit of the First and
  Third Brigades--Atlanta in view--In the trenches before
  the city--The Sixth Kentucky ordered to Tennessee--Turning
  over my command--A parting word                             180




  Character of the age--My own experiences--Object of my
  book--Entering the service--Elected captain--The 6th
  Kentucky--Its deeds.

I am a soldier, a plain, blunt man; hence, what I have to say
will have the directness of a soldier's tale. The age in which
we live is a heroic one; boys who four years ago were at school
or guiding the plow are now heroes; we have battle-fields enough
for all time, and names on the page of history eclipsing those
of the great captains of the past--names that the world will not
willingly let die. Reason as we may, there is a charm about the
story of a great war that few are able to resist; grave scholars go
into ecstasies over the tale of Troy; and the youth, whose reading
is confined to the old family Bible, devours with avidity those
portions which tell of the exploits of Samson or the triumphs of
David; and it is the fearful conflicts which they describe that
give such interest to the Paradise Lost and Bunyan's Holy War. What
boy's blood has not been stirred by the story of Bunker Hill, the
exploits of a Marion, and the fall of Yorktown? What youth has not
wept as he read the story of Warren's death, or the sadder story of
the execution of Hale, the proud young martyr of liberty? and in
generations to come the youth of this land, with burning cheek and
tearful eye, will read how Ellsworth fell, just as he had torn down
the emblem of treason; and how the gallant young Dahlgren died,
almost in sight of the sad captives whom he desired to deliver. Who
has not been thrilled with horror at the cruelties inflicted by
the minions of the British King upon the colonists taken in arms
for a cause the most noble, and consigned to the living grave of
the prison-ship? and yet these cruelties have been repeated, with
even increased malignity, at Belle Isle and Libby Prison.

I have experienced nearly all the fortunes of a soldier, and can
therefore speak from my own personal observation. I have felt that
ardent love of country which has taken so many from the peaceful
pursuits of life to the tented field. I know something of the stern
joy of battle, the rapture of victory; I am familiar with the long,
weary march, want of food, and thirst, which amounts to agony;
nay, I have been stretched almost lifeless on the battle-field,
know something of the long, weary hours of slow recovery from
painful wounds, and, harder than all, long months of sad, weary,
and almost hopeless captivity, and the joy, too, of escape from
what almost seemed a living tomb. And though young, wanting the
large experience of some, and the culture of others; yet my plain,
unadorned story, I feel well assured, will not be told in vain.

I shall make no apology, then, for any literary defects; the work
I propose is not one of art or imagination, but a record of facts;
and in whatever other respects it may fail, it will, at least, have
the merit of truth. Moreover, I write mainly for my companions
in arms, my comrades by whose sides I have fought, and with whom
I have suffered; and if, in fighting over again our battles,
rehearsing our common dangers, privations, toils, and triumphs, I
can minister to their pleasure, my task will not be a useless one,
and my little book will long be a link to bind together hearts that
danger has only endeared.

Nor am I without hope that I shall be able to awaken an interest
for the soldier in the minds of those who never have passed through
scenes such as I describe. He who unselfishly bares his breast to
the storm of battle, who stands between peaceful homes and danger,
who suffers that others may be safe, certainly deserves well of his
country; and never have any soldiers established a better claim on
the gratitude of their country than the soldiers of the Union. As a
nation, we have honored the men who achieved our independence: we
ought never to forget those who struck for home and native land,
when all that the heart holds dear was imperiled, and the very life
of the nation threatened by armed traitors.

If a man's acts are regarded as the exponents of his patriotism,
mine, I feel assured, will not be questioned, and yet at the same
time I feel at perfect liberty to honor kindness, truth, and
magnanimity in a foe; and wherever these are found, even in an
enemy, I shall not be slow to acknowledge it. Having now, as I
trust, established a good understanding between myself and readers,
I shall proceed to cultivate still further their acquaintance by
a free and unreserved statement of whatever may seem to be of
interest prior to my life in Libby.

Like thousands of my fellow-soldiers, I am a farmer's son. The
only college with which I have had any acquaintance is the
old-fashioned log school-house; and a few years ago I as little
dreamed of being an author as I did of being a soldier; my only
literary achievements heretofore have been sundry epistles to the
fairer portion of creation, and in that department I am not able to
declare positively that the pen is mightier than the sword, as I
rather incline to the opinion that few things have more influence
with that portion of humanity than soldierly bearing and a suit
of Federal blue. And had I rested my claims to their favor upon
authorship, I fear it would have proved but a broken reed. My
military career, however, I have not found to be an impediment, and
even an unsightly wound was not a deformity in the eyes of her who
was dearest to me.

You will be disappointed, kind reader, if you expect from me a
history of the causes of the war. I am not sufficiently skilled in
the political history of the country for such an undertaking, and,
indeed, there is no necessity for it, as it has already been done
by far abler hands than mine. Still, in a contest like the present,
every man should have reasons for his course, especially when that
course involves personal danger and sacrifices the greatest a man
can make--sacrifices which, if need require, must not stop short of
life itself.

My own reasons are those of thousands of others, but they are not
those of the mere politician; they are the reasons of the man and
the patriot who loves his country with an unselfish love, and loves
that country most, not in the days of peace and prosperity, but
when the clouds are darkest and perils and trials beset her round.
A milder, freer Government than ours the world never saw; we knew
not that we had a Government, by any burdens that it imposed upon
us; it was only by the constant flow of blessings we enjoyed that
we were conscious of its existence. Our history, though short, was
glorious; our future full of the brightest promise, and the hopes
of the toiling and oppressed millions of Europe were bound up in
our success.

Though not an adept in the theory of government, I could not be
blind to its practical workings; though no politician, I could
not be insensible of the manifold blessings which it secured.
I remembered the wisdom of those men who gave shape to our
institutions; I remembered the price at which independence was
purchased; I remembered that it was not without blood that those
blessings were gained; and now that all that the wisdom of a
Franklin, Hancock, and Adams had devised--all that for which a
Washington had fought, for which Warren had bled, was in jeopardy,
I felt that in such a cause, and for such a country, it would be
sweet even to die.

No love of war and bloodshed led me to the field; the charter of
our independence was sealed with blood, the very blessings of civil
and religious liberty which we enjoy I felt to be purchased by
noble lives freely given; and to preserve them for generations yet
to come I felt to be worth as great a sacrifice. God grant that
the effort may not be in vain! God grant that the fierce struggle
which has filled our land with weeping may be followed by all the
blessings of a lasting peace!

Under the influence of the sentiments just expressed, no sooner was
the flag of my country insulted, and an attempt made by bold, bad
men to pull down the fairest fabric ever devised by human wisdom
and cemented by patriot blood, than I determined to do my utmost to
uphold the starry banner; and seeking no position save that of one
of my country's defenders, I volunteered for three years. Nearly
one hundred young men, mostly from my own locality--Henry county,
Ky.--enrolled themselves at the same time, and became soldiers of
the Union. We all had much around us to render life pleasant, and
home dear; but the call of our country in her hour of need sounded
in our ears, and we could not permit her to call in vain. After
the organization of our regiment--the Sixth Kentucky Volunteer
Infantry--the young men from my part of the county selected me as
their captain, and I have had the honor of commanding Company H,
of the Sixth Kentucky Volunteer Infantry, till the present time.
I have been with that company in several of the bloodiest battles
of the war, and in a number of severe skirmishes; and having seen
its members time and again under the enemy's fire, I take pleasure
in saying that a better and braver band of men never shouldered
muskets or faced a foe upon the battle-plain. Indeed, the Sixth
Kentucky has a record of which it may well be proud; its steady
endurance in resisting an attack, and its fiery valor when hurling
its ranks on the foe, has covered it with well-deserved renown.
Shiloh, Stone River, and Mission Ridge have witnessed its prowess;
its ranks have been thinned in many a fierce and bloody assault,
and of those who yet follow its flag to victory, and of those who
fill a soldier's grave, it shall be said, they were heroes, every

And yet it checks our exultation, brings tears to the eyes and
sadness to the heart to think of the sad ravages that war has
made in the ranks of those noble men. Where are they now? Some
have met death on the field, and fill unmarked graves far, far
from home; others escaped death on the field to perish by slow,
wasting disease in camp and hospital. Some, with mutilated limbs
and features disfigured with ghastly wounds, have sought the rest,
quiet, and sympathy of home; while others in rebel prisons drag
out a wretched existence, feeling all the pain and heart-sickness
of hope deferred. On earth many of them will meet no more; yet,
when the survivors meet in the years which are to come, when the
sounds of strife have ceased, they will speak in low tones of the
cherished dead, and drop a tear to their memory, and remember with
pride that they themselves were on many a well-fought field with
the Sixth Kentucky.



  My first battle, and how I felt--Wounded and left on the
  field--Disasters of first day and final triumph--Return home--In
  the field again--Battle of Stone River--Wounded again--Appearance
  of the country.

My first battle! What a strange sensation it was when I knew that
I must soon engage in the deadly strife! The thoughts came thick
and fast--thoughts of home, friends, and loved ones crowded upon
me with a vividness and distinctness I had never known before. My
past life came up in review, and the anxiety to know the result of
the next few hours was painful. Should I fall on my first field, or
should I escape? Should I share the joy of victory, or experience
the sadness of defeat? be a prisoner in the hands of the foe, or,
wounded, lie helpless among the slain and dying? make myself a
name, or fill a nameless grave, were questions that would force
themselves upon my attention. Fearful I was not, but excited, as
every one doubtless is when about to enter for the first time the
field of carnage and blood.

I can imagine a young soldier gradually becoming accustomed to
warfare by engaging at first in slight skirmishes at long range,
then in closer encounters, till he is, in a measure, prepared for a
general engagement; but my first battle was none of those, but one
of the great conflicts of the war, in which thousands went in tyros
in the art of war, and came out heroes, ever after confident and
bold--it was the bloody field of Shiloh.

It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to describe a battle; one pair
of eyes can see but little of a conflict ranging over miles of
territory; but there is something common to all battles which every
brave man sees and hears, such as the shrieking of the shells,
the blaze which accompanies the explosion, the whistling of minie
balls, the clash and clang of steel, the roar of the artillery,
the rattle of musketry, comrades falling, riderless steeds dashing
hither and thither, the shout of officers, the hurrah of the
charging line, the ghastly forms of the dead, the piteous cries of
the wounded, the clouds of smoke pierced by the quick flashes of
flame--with all these every true soldier is familiar.

Our regiment was not in the battle the first day, but came up the
following night, and found Gen. Grant, who had been hard pressed
the preceding day, in grim silence awaiting the coming light to
renew the contest. Early in the morning we were engaged, and the
battle raged with great fury till the middle of the afternoon, when
the enemy, after a stubborn resistance, were routed, and a shout
of triumph went up from the victors who had changed threatened
disaster into glorious success.

In that shout of joy I took no part--nay, I heard it as if in a
dream; for about twelve or one o'clock a minie ball, striking me
on the left cheek, passing through and coming out an inch behind
and below the ear, laid me for a time unconscious on the field
amid the dead and the dying. Reviving after awhile I slowly made
my way to the rear amid a shower of leaden and iron hail. The
loss in my company was one killed and fifteen or sixteen wounded,
several of them mortally. This battle, as most readers are aware,
began on Sunday, the 6th of April. Early in the morning the
Confederate forces, in greatly-superior numbers, under Generals A.
S. Johnston and Beauregard, attacked Gen. Grant with great fury,
the divisions of Sherman, M'Clernand, and Prentiss were driven
back, and their respective camps fell into the hands of the enemy.
They were stubbornly resisted, however, by Gen. Wallace's division,
already weakened by having sent a brigade to assist in another
portion of the field. These brave fellows nobly repulsed four
different attacks made upon them, each time inflicting a heavy
loss on the foe; but when night fell much ground had been lost,
and many a heart was anxious concerning the morrow. During the
night, however, Buell came up, a heavy burden was removed from many
minds; for those who had hitherto contemplated nothing more than a
stubborn resistance now felt confident of victory. Nor were they
disappointed; the arrival of new troops infused fresh vigor into
those wearied with the desperate struggle of the preceding day, and
ere the sun had set the enemy had scattered before their resistless
advance, the lost ground was all recovered, the lost camps retaken,
and the roads southward thronged with a fleeing foe. Johnston, the
rebel commander-in-chief, was killed upon the field on the first
day; and though Beauregard claimed a complete victory on the 6th,
and the rebel capital was wild with joy on the reception of his
bulletin, he was compelled the next day to retire in disorder and
seek safety within his fortifications at Corinth.

As soon as I was sufficiently recovered to be removed, I was sent
home to Kentucky for treatment. I reached there faint and weary,
was seized with typhoid fever, which, together with wounds, came
very near terminating my life. My first battle, however, was
not destined to be my last, and, by skillful treatment, careful
nursing, and the interposition of a kind Providence, I was finally

As soon as I was able I rejoined my company; was with it during
Buell's march through Tennessee and Kentucky to Louisville; bore
its privations well; was in hearing of the battle of Perryville,
but our regiment was not engaged. From Perryville we marched
through Danville, skirmishing with Bragg's rear-guard; thence to
Crab Orchard and Stanford; harassed him as far as London, Laurel
county--turned back, marched to Glasgow, thence to Nashville, where
we arrived about the 1st of December, 1862.

My first battle, as I have already stated, was under Grant and
Buell, against Johnston and Beauregard; my second was against
Bragg at Stone River, under Rosecrans. Here, again, it was my fate
or fortune to be wounded--this time in three places; but none of
my wounds were severe enough to make me leave the field. Both my
arms were bruised by fragments of bombshells, another piece struck
my pistol which hung by my side, tearing the stock to atoms and
bending the iron nearly double. I was knocked down by the violence
of the blow, and received a pretty severe wound in my side, and I
have no doubt but the pistol saved my life. I had my blanket over
my shoulders during the engagement, and at its close I found that
four or five balls had passed through it, several bullets also had
pierced my coat, and in looking at them I seemed to realize how
near to death I had been, and felt devoutly thankful that I had
escaped the dangers of another fierce struggle. Soldiers look with
pride at the flag, pierced by the bullets of the foe, which they
have proudly borne through the din and smoke of battle, and in
that feeling I have often partaken; but I shall ever feel grateful
to a kind Providence whenever I look at my bullet-pierced blanket
and coat; and if I fall before the war closes, I wish no more
fitting and honorable shroud than these will afford; if I survive,
they shall be preserved as relics of that eventful day, as silent
monitors to teach me thankfulness to Him whose hand protected me in
the hour of danger.

The battle of Stone River began on the 31st of December, 1862, and
continued till the evening of the 2d of January. On the first day
our left wing was driven back, and we lost about thirty pieces of
artillery; but the attack of the enemy on our center was repelled
with fearful slaughter, being subjected to a terrible cross-fire
of double-shotted canister from two batteries, and the day closed
with the contest undecided. The next day the battle was renewed,
our line being restored to the position it had occupied on the
morning of the previous day, but without any very decisive result,
the spirit of our forces remaining unbroken. On the third day
attempts were made by the enemy along our whole line, but it was
not till about the middle of the afternoon, however, that the
crisis of the battle came; both sides were using their artillery
with terrible effect; at last the line of the enemy began to give
way; Gen. Davis was ordered to charge across the stream from which
the battle takes its name; the Colonel of the 78th Pennsylvania,
with his hat on the point of his sword, led the way with a hurrah,
a charge perfectly irresistible was made, the enemy's line was
broken, the divisions of Beatty and Negley came up rapidly, our
whole line advanced and the day was won.

My wounds gave me some inconvenience for a few days; but as I had
been much more severely wounded before, I did not regard them much,
having learned to look upon them as the necessary accompaniments of
a soldier's life; indeed, they were soon forgotten, and I was soon
again ready for the duties of my position. It is truly wonderful
with what facility man adapts himself to circumstances; one would
think that such constant exposure to danger and to death would
beget great seriousness in every mind, and yet the reverse seems
to be the case; after having been under fire a few times, the
soldier goes into battle with an alacrity and cheerfulness that is
astonishing; he becomes inured to the sight of wounds and death,
and though his comrades fall on either side, and he has a sigh for
them, he thinks not that he, like them, may fall. On the march,
however, sad thoughts often come.

The country between Murfreesboro and Nashville is a beautiful
one, but the rude hand of war has despoiled it of much of its
loveliness. Fire is a necessity to the soldier, and no fuel is so
ready to his hand as fence-rails, and wherever the army marches
the fences rapidly disappear; thousands upon thousands of fertile
acres are thus left without any protection, beautiful shrubbery
and choice fruit trees are ruined, every green thing is taken
from the gardens, fowls and domestic animals are killed, and the
country which lately bloomed like a garden becomes as desolate as a
barren desert. Little mounds by the roadside tell that those dear
to some hearts are buried there; dead horses, broken wagons tell
of the waste of war; traces of fire and solitary chimney-stacks
bring up images of homes once pleasant, and cause the wish and
prayer for the return of peace. Soldiers are sometimes thought to
exaggerate the scenes through which they pass; but let any one
who has seen Tennessee in the days of its prosperity travel from
Nashville to Chattanooga now, and he will confess that no pen can
describe, much less exaggerate, the scenes everywhere presented
to the eye. But a truce to moralizing. After the retreat of the
foe the monotony of camp life began to be oppressive; a desire
for active operations, no matter by what dangers attended, became
general, and in this feeling I confess I shared. The desired change
came at length, and with it a disaster greater far than sickness
or wounds--the sufferings of a long and painful captivity, such
captivity as the dwellers in that synonym for all that is foul and
loathsome--Libby Prison--alone have known.



  The battle--Am taken prisoner--Trip to Richmond--Incidents on the
  way--Star-Spangled Banner sung in Dixie--Kind treatment--Arrival
  at Richmond.

The battle of Chickamauga, one of the most stoutly contested of
the war, may be said to have commenced on Friday, the 18th of
September, 1863; but the heaviest fighting took place on Saturday
and Sunday. We were outnumbered, as is well known; but, by the
persistent courage of Gen. Thomas and his brave associates,
the enemy were foiled in their purpose--which was to retake
Chattanooga--and the army saved from the disaster which at one time
during the fight seemed inevitable. Bragg, it is true, claimed
a glorious victory; but if battles are to be judged by their
results, his victory was a fruitless one, the prize which was at
stake remaining in our hands. True, we lost many brave men, and
much of the material of war; but Chattanooga, the key of Georgia,
was not wrested from our grasp; the valor of the troops, too, was
never more nobly illustrated; for the stout men under Thomas stood
unshaken on Mission Ridge as the wave-washed rock, against which
the hitherto invincible legions of Longstreet, like fierce billows,
madly dashed themselves, to fall back, like those broken billows,
in foam and spray.

Men fell upon that field whose names never will perish, and others,
who still live, there gained immortal renown. There fell Lytle, the
poet-hero; sweet was his lyre, and strong was his sword. There the
modest yet brave Thomas displayed the qualities of a great general,
firm and undismayed amid carnage and threatened disaster; and there
Garfield, the gallant and the good, won richly-deserved honor.

But to my own story. I had been unwell for several days, but the
excitement of the conflict aroused and sustained me. Late on the
evening of Saturday our brigade was ordered to retreat, and, unable
to keep up with the main body, I was overtaken and captured. I was
taken in charge by two lieutenants, and regret that I did not learn
their names or command, as they treated me with marked kindness,
as brave men ever treat a conquered foe. They saw, moreover, by my
appearance, that I was quite ill, and this doubtless excited their
sympathy. Soon another lieutenant came up; he was a Georgian, and
drunk; he took away my sword-belt and haversack. Being cautioned
by the others to take care of my watch, I slipped it down my back
unobserved by my Georgia friend, and saved it for the time being.
My captors conducted me about a mile and a half to the rear, and
kept me there all night. We had to pass over the ground that had
been fought over during the day; it was thickly strewed with the
dead and wounded of both armies; their dead seemed to be in the
proportion of three to our one. I saw Gen. Bragg for the first
time at a distance. The night was intensely cold for the season,
and I suffered severely, having lost my blanket; moreover, I was
exhausted from hunger, having eaten nothing for two days. I was
fortunate enough, however, to meet with a prisoner of the 9th
Indiana, who generously gave me a cup of coffee and a cracker,
after which I felt greatly refreshed. This noble fellow also shared
his scanty covering with me, and I trust he may ever find a friend
as kind as he proved to me. By morning the number of prisoners was
quite large, most of them nearly starved; the men guarding us were
very kind, and said they would gladly give us food, but they were
as destitute and as hungry as ourselves. To prove their sincerity
they marched us to a sweet-potato patch, and all hands, prisoners
and guards, in army phrase, "pitched in." We then made fires and
roasted the potatoes, and often since have made a worse meal. We
were then marched across the Chickamauga River to a white house,
where we found another lot of prisoners collected; our names were
taken, and every man was relieved of his haversack; they were
taken by a Texas captain, who distributed them to his own men.
This was Sunday, the 20th. About ten o'clock in the morning the
battle commenced again, and we prisoners were ordered into rank and
marched in the direction of Ringgold. After an hour's march we were
halted till about two in the afternoon, during which time there was
another squad of prisoners marched to the rear and added to our
number. During all this time the battle was raging furiously, and
as the sound of the fierce conflict came to our cars there was the
greatest anxiety on the part of our guard as well as ourselves.
I had heard that Rosecrans had been heavily reënforced, and
believing it to be true, was sanguine of success.

At two o'clock the captured officers, now numbering about one
hundred and fifty, were ordered to fall in according to rank,
non-commissioned officers and privates to follow. In this order we
marched, stopping a few minutes to rest at the end of every hour,
stimulated by the promise that we should draw rations as soon as we
reached Ringgold. On our way we met one of Longstreet's brigades
hurrying to the front; they were fine, soldierly-looking men, the
very flower of the Confederate army, better drilled and equipped
than any Southern troops I had seen, either at Shiloh or Stone
River; they were confident, too, from their successes in Virginia;
but they found their equals, at least, at Mission Ridge in the
gallant men of the West. We reached Ringgold about nine o'clock at
night, but failed to draw the promised rations, and were told if
we would march four miles further we should come to the camp of a
brigade of Longstreet's men, who were guarding a railroad station,
and be sure to find the much-desired rations there. Many of us
had been nearly worn out marching previous to the battle, and had
passed through one day's fight; nevertheless, so hungry were we,
that we were glad to drag our weary limbs four miles further, and
in that distance wade the Chickamauga three times, in the hope of
finding food, fire, and rest.

When within a short distance of the camp we were ordered to take
rails from a fence to make fires to dry our clothes and make
ourselves comfortable for the night. We were eager to avail
ourselves of the liberty thus granted, and soon a column of men,
about two thousand in number, each with from three to five rails on
his shoulder, were marching on. About two o'clock in the morning,
wet, dispirited, and weary, we reached camp, wincing somewhat under
the burden of our rails, which grew heavier every step. Again we
were doomed to disappointment; we found nothing there to relieve
our hunger; so we kindled our fires, stretched ourselves near them,
and strove to forget the pangs of hunger and the bitterness of
captivity in sleep.

On the morning of the 21st we were marched to Tunnel Hill, a
distance of five miles. We remained there till two P. M., in which
interval the long-desired rations of corn meal and bacon were
issued. We asked for time to bake our bread and divide the meat,
and were assured that we should have the opportunity we desired.
Men were detailed to bake the bread and cut up the bacon, and in
imagination we saw the long-expected and welcome meal prepared; but
scarcely were our fires lighted and the meat divided, before we
were again ordered into ranks, and obliged to leave nearly all our
uncooked rations lying on the ground. To famishing men this was a
severe trial; but orders were imperative, and with sad hearts we
marched to the depot, where we found a train of cars awaiting our
arrival. We got on board and reached Kingston, where we remained
till morning. Here we met a brigade of Longstreet's men, who
treated us with great kindness, many of them dividing their rations
with us.

The same day we moved forward to Atlanta, which place we reached
at five, P. M. We found an immense crowd awaiting the arrival of
the Yankees, and were stared at and criticised in a manner far
from agreeable. Pity for our condition dwelt in the hearts of
some, but they were forced to restrain any expression of sympathy;
while those who came to jeer, and laugh, and to show their mean
exultation, gratified their feelings to the fullest extent. We
were marched to a dirty hill-side a short distance from the city,
and surrounded by a strong guard. Our camp inclosed a spring in
its limits, but had very little wood for fuel; the absence of this
we felt keenly, as the nights were cold, and we without tents or
blankets, and many of us having lost our overcoats, and thus left
without any thing to protect us in our dismal quarters beneath the
open sky. Some time after nightfall we received a small ration of
bread and beef, the first which we had been permitted to cook and
eat for four days, during which time we had subsisted on raw corn
and elderberries, which we gathered at the different points at
which we had stopped on our way from the battle-field. The officers
in charge of us said that the reason we were not supplied with food
before, was, that they were nearly destitute themselves, which was
doubtless true, as our guards fared just as we did.

We remained at our dirty and disagreeable camp till the afternoon
of the next day, when we were removed to the barracks, where we
were searched. Many citizens, both male and female, gratified
their curiosity by calling to see us, doubtless expecting, from
the reports they had heard, to see a race of beings far different
from themselves. The next morning we were ordered to take the cars
for Richmond. Previous to starting for the depot we had selected
several stirring National songs, which we sung as we passed through
the city. This demonstration attracted great attention; windows
were thrown up, doorways thronged, and soon even the streets
crowded with citizens, who came rushing from every direction to
hear those unusual strains. Many scowled upon us as we went singing
by, while some smiled approvingly, as if delighted to hear once
more the songs of the Union; and for my own part the Star-Spangled
Banner fell more sweetly upon my ear, though far down South, a
prisoner and among the enemies of that flag, than ever before.
Strange to say, we were not interrupted; and as the boys joined
in the swelling chorus, with heads erect and hearts high beating,
they seemed more like victors returning from glorious fields, than
captives on their way to a gloomy prison, to be exchanged by many
of them for an untimely grave--nay, not untimely; for those who
perished there were no less heroes and martyrs than those who laid
down their lives on the field of honor--not one of them has died in

Leaving Atlanta, we reached Augusta about twelve o'clock at night,
and were marched to a church-yard, in which we camped till next
morning. We were well treated by the citizens; many of them visited
us, and showed us such kindness during our stay, that we could not
but conclude that many of them, at heart, were lovers of the Union
still. Nor was this the only occasion, while passing through the
South, that we discovered strong symptoms of a Union sentiment
among the people; many have secretly cherished the sacred flame,
and will yet welcome the army of the Union as their deliverers.
Leaving Augusta, we crossed the Savannah River into South Carolina,
passed through Raleigh, Weldon, and Petersburg, and on the 29th of
September, about seven o'clock in the evening, we reached the depot
at Richmond, and were marched to our Libby home.



  Richmond--The prison--Treatment of prisoners--Employment--Plans
  of escape--Sad failures--Prospect of success.

During our trip from Chickamauga to Richmond the weather was clear
and beautiful, but the nights were cold, and many of us, having
lost our blankets, suffered much; for, in addition to the want of
our usual covering, we were hungry nearly all the time. Many of
the cities and towns through which we passed presented a pleasing
appearance; but the country, for the most part, had a desolate
look; few men were to be seen, save such as were too old for
service, and the farming operations bore marks of neither care nor

The officer who had the prisoners in charge was kind and
gentlemanly, and rendered our situation as agreeable as was
possible under the circumstances; that we suffered for food was no
fault of his, and when we were turned over to the authorities at
Richmond we parted from him with a feeling akin to regret.

All the private soldiers were sent to Belle Isle, a place which
has become infamous on account of the cruel treatment to which
they were subjected; but the officers had quarters assigned them
in Libby Prison. Before being shown to our apartments we were
requested to give up our money and valuables, under the assurance
that they should be returned when we were exchanged; at the same
time we were given to understand that we should be searched, and
whatever was then found in our possession would be confiscated.
Nearly all gave up what they had; some secreted a portion, which
was found to be clear gain, as those of us who escaped had not time
to call for our money and watches before leaving for the Federal

This now world-famous building presents none of the outward
characteristics of a prison, having been used in peaceful days
as a warehouse; but none of the castles and dungeons of Europe,
century old though they be, have a stranger or sadder history than
this. There many a heart has been wrung, many a spirit broken, many
a noble soul has there breathed out its last sigh, and hundreds
who yet survive will shrink in their dreams, or shudder in their
waking moments, when faithful memory brings back the scenes enacted
within its fearful walls. The building is of brick, with a front
of near one hundred and forty feet, and one hundred feet deep. It
is divided into nine rooms; the ceilings are low, and ventilation
imperfect; the windows are barred, through which the windings of
James River and the tents of Belle Isle may be seen. Its immediate
surroundings are far from being agreeable; the sentinels pacing the
streets constantly are unpleasant reminders that your stay is not
a matter of choice; and were it so, few would choose it long as a

In this building were crowded about one thousand officers of
nearly every grade, not one of whom was permitted to go out till
exchanged or released by death. To men accustomed to an active
life this mode of existence soon became exceedingly irksome, and
innumerable methods were soon devised to make the hours pass less
wearily. A penknife was made to do the duty of a complete set of
tools, and it was marvelous to see the wonders achieved by that
single instrument. Bone-work of strange device, and carving most
elaborate, chess-men, spoons, pipes, all manner of articles, useful
and ornamental, were fashioned by its aid alone. If a man's early
education had been neglected, ample opportunities were now afforded
to become a proficient scholar. The higher branches of learning had
their professor; the languages, ancient and modern, were taught;
mathematics received much attention; morals and religion were
cared for in Bible classes, while the ornamental branches, such as
dancing, vocal music, and sword exercise, had had their teachers
and pupils. Indeed, few colleges in the land could boast of a
faculty so large in number or varied in accomplishments, and none,
certainly, could compare in the number of pupils.

But truth must be told; the minds of many of those grown-up, and,
in some instances, gray-headed pupils, were not always with their
books; their minds, when children, wandered from the page before
them to the green fields, to streams abounding in fish, or pleasant
for bathing; or to orchards, with fruit most inviting; but now the
mind wandered in one direction--home. Others were deeply engaged
in the mysteries of "poker" and "seven-up," and betting ran high;
but they were bets involving neither loss or gain, and the winner
of countless sums would often borrow a teaspoon full of salt or a
pinch of pepper. Games of chess were played, which, judging from
the wary and deliberate manner of the players, and the interest
displayed by lookers-on, were as intricate and important as a
military campaign; nor were the sports of children--jack-straws
and mumble-peg--wanting; every device, serious and silly, was
employed to hasten the slow hours along. But amid all these various
occupations, there was one that took the precedence and absorbed
all others--that was planning an escape. The exploits of Jack
Sheppard, Baron Trenck, and the hero of Monte Cristo were seriously
considered, and plans superior to theirs concocted, some of them
characterized by skill and cunning, others by the energy of despair.

One of these was as follows: After the arrival of the Chickamauga
prisoners, a plot was made which embraced the escape of all
confined in Libby, and the release of all the prisoners in and
about Richmond. The leader in this enterprise was a man of cool
purpose and great daring; and success, I doubt not, would have
attended the effort had it not been that we had traitors in our
midst who put the rebel authorities on the alert only a few days
before the attempt was to have been made.

Prisoners, it is true, have no right to expect abundant and
delicious fare; but when the rations served out to rebel prisoners
in our hands are compared with the stinted and disgusting allowance
of Union prisoners in rebel hands, a truly-generous and chivalrous
people would blush at the contrast. It is not saying too much to
assert that many of the rebel prisoners, from the poorer portions
of Georgia, South Carolina, and Mississippi, have, at least, as
good fare, and as much of it, as they ever enjoyed at home, and
much better than the army rations which they were accustomed to
before capture; while it is equally true that the Union prisoners
have been compelled to subsist on a diet loathsome in quality, and
in a quantity scarcely sufficient to support life. True, it may be
urged that the scarcity of provisions in Richmond, and elsewhere,
rendered it out of the question to remedy this to any great extent;
but all candid men will decide that no army could be kept, in the
physical condition of Gen. Lee's, upon a Libby ration; and if such
a miracle as that were possible, it would not justify the denial
to prisoners of the Union army the provisions that the United
States were ever ready to furnish their own men while prisoners in
an enemy's hands, much less the appropriation of the stores sent
to those sufferers by benevolent associations and sympathizing
friends. That vast quantities of food and clothing sent to our
prisoners has been thus diverted from its object, is susceptible of
the clearest proof. If it be asked, how can a people, professing
to be civilized, act thus? the answer is simply, that the war, as
far as the South is concerned, is a rebellion. The Libby ration
nominally consisted of about ten ounces of corn bread--of meal just
as it came from the mill--beef, and rice; but really less often
than this; for it often took two rations of beef to make a single
tolerable meal, and frequently we would fail to get any beef for
from one to eight days; at such times we would receive sweet or
Irish potatoes; and I state the case very mildly when I say the
food was at all times insufficient. Of wood for cooking purposes
we had a very small allowance; and during the Christmas holidays
we had to burn our tables in attempting to make palatable dishes
out of very scanty and unpalatable materials. One thing, however,
we did not lack; the James River was near at hand, and we had
plenty of water; it was brought by means of pipes into each room;
and had it possessed any very nutritious properties, we might have
fattened. I must do the officers of the prison the justice to say,
that as long as we did not violate the rules of the house, they
permitted us to enjoy ourselves in any way that suited our taste.
Prayer meetings and debating societies were tolerated, laughter and
song in certain hours were not prohibited, and bad as our condition
was, it might have been even worse.

Our first plan of escape being thwarted, no time was lost in
devising another, which, after many delays and interruptions of
a very discouraging character, was finally crowned with success.
Captain Hamilton, of the 12th Kentucky Cavalry, was the author
of the plan, which he confided to Maj. Fitzsimmons, of the 30th
Indiana, Capt. Gallagher, of the 2d Ohio, and a third person, whose
name it would not be prudent to mention, as he was recaptured.
I greatly regret to pass him by with this brief allusion, as he
had a very prominent part in the work from the beginning, and
deserves far more credit than I have language to express. As this,
however, is one of the most wonderful escapes on record, when
its complete history is written he will not be forgotten. John
Morgan's escape from the Ohio Penitentiary has been thought to have
suggested our plan, and to have equaled it in ingenuity and risk.
His difficulties, however, ended when he emerged from the tunnel by
which he escaped, while ours may be said to have only begun when
we reached the free air, and every step till we reached the Union
lines was fraught with great danger.

After Capt. Hamilton's plans had been intrusted to and adopted by
the gentlemen above named, a solemn pledge was taken to reveal them
to none others, and at an early date in December, 1863, the work
was begun.

In order to a perfect understanding of it, a more minute
description of the building is necessary. It is not far from one
hundred and forty feet by one hundred and ten, three stories high,
and divided into three departments by heavy brick walls. The
divisions were occupied as follows: The two upper east rooms by
the Potomac officers, the two middle upper rooms by those captured
at Chickamauga, the two west upper rooms by the officers of Col.
Streight's and Gen. Milroy's command; the lower room of the east
division was used as a hospital, the lower middle room for a
cook and dining-room, and the lower west is divided into several
apartments which were occupied by the rebel officers in command.
There is also a cellar under each of these divisions; the east
cellar was used for commissary stores, such as meal, turnips,
fodder, and straw--the latter article was of vast benefit in
effecting our escape. The rear and darker part of the middle cellar
was cut up into cells, to which were consigned those of our number
who were guilty of infractions of the rules of prison--dungeons
dark and horrible beyond description. The portion of it in front
was used as a workshop, and the west cellar was used for cooking
the rations of private soldiers who were confined in other
buildings, and as quarters for some negro captives who were kept
to do the drudgery of the prison.

As the plan was to dig out, it became necessary to find a way
into the east cellar, from which to begin our tunnel, which was
accomplished as follows. Near the north end of the dining-room was
a fireplace, around which three large cooking stoves were arranged.
In this fireplace the work began. The bricks were skillfully taken
out, and through this aperture a descent to the east cellar was
effected. This part of the work was intrusted to Captains Hamilton
and Gallagher, who were both house-builders, and in their hands
it was a perfect success. The only tools used were pocket-knives;
consequently their progress was slow, and fifteen nights elapsed
before the place was reached where the tunnel was to begin. The
stoves mentioned above aided greatly in the prosecution of the
work, screening the operators from observation. Immediately in
front of them the prisoners had a dancing party nearly every
night, and the light of their tallow candles made the stoves throw
a dark shadow over the entrance to the newly-opened way to the
cellar, and the mirth of the dancers drowned any slight noise
that might be made by the working party. Considerable skill was
necessary in order to reach the cellar after the opening was made;
and on one occasion one of the party stuck fast, and was released
only by great efforts on the part of his associates. Poor fellow!
though fortunate enough to escape detection in this instance, and
afterward to reach the free air, he was recaptured and taken back
to a confinement more intolerable than before.

The cellar being reached, a thorough examination was made in order
to decide upon a route which would be most favorable for our
escape; and it was determined to make an attempt in the rear of a
cook-room which was in the south-east corner of the cellar. The
plan was to dig down and pass under the foundation, then change
the direction and work parallel with the wall to a large sewer
that passes down Canal-street, and from thence make our escape.
The attempt was accordingly made; but it was soon discovered
that the building rested upon ponderous oak timbers, below which
they could not penetrate. Determined to succeed, they began the
seemingly-hopeless task of cutting through these; pocket-knives
and saws made out of case-knives were the only available tools;
and when this, after much hard labor, was effected, they were met
by an unforeseen and still more serious difficulty. Water began to
flow into the tunnel; a depth below the level of the canal had been
reached, and sadly they were compelled to abandon the undertaking.
A second effort was made; a tunnel was started in the rear of the
cook-room mentioned above, intended to strike a small sewer which
started from the south-east corner, and passing through the outer
wall to the large sewer in front. Some sixteen or eighteen feet
brought the tunnel under a brick furnace, in which were built
several large kettles used in making soup for prisoners. This
partially caved in, and fear of discovery caused this route to be

With a determination to succeed, which no difficulty could weaken
or disappointment overcome, another attempt, far more difficult
than the preceding, was made. A portion of the stone floor of the
cook-room was taken up, and the place supplied by a neatly-fitting
board, which could be easily removed; and through this the working
party descended every night. The plan was to escape by the sewer
leading from the kitchen, but it was not large enough for a man to
pass through; but as the route seemed preferable to any other, it
was determined to remove the plank with which it was lined; and
this out of the way, the tunnel or aperture would be sufficiently
large. The old knives and saws were called for, and the work of
removing the plank was continued for several days with flattering
success, till it was concluded that another hour's work would
enable us to enter the large sewer in front, into which this led,
and thus escape. So strong was the conviction that the work would
be completed in a little time, that all who knew the work was going
on made preparation to escape on the night of the 26th of January.
After working on the night of the 25th, two men were left down in
the cellar to cover up all traces of the work during the day, and
as soon as it was dark to complete the work--to go into the large
sewer, explore it, and have every thing ready by eight or nine
o'clock, at which time the bricks would be removed from the hole
leading into the cellar, which had to be placed carefully in their
original position every night, from the beginning to the completion
of the work. When the last brick was removed, a rope-ladder, which
had been prepared for the occasion, was passed down and made fast
to a bar of iron, placed across the front of the fireplace. Now
came long moments of breathless silence and agonizing suspense,
all waiting for the assurance from one of the men below that all
was ready. He came at last; but, alas! his first whisper was, "bad
news, bad news;" and bad news, indeed, it proved. It was found
that the remaining portion of the plank to be removed was oak, two
inches thick, and impossible to be removed by the tools which had
heretofore been used; moreover, the water was rapidly finding its
way into the tunnel, and all the labor expended had been in vain.
The feelings of that little band who can describe!--from hopes
almost as bright as reality they were suddenly plunged into the
depths of despair.

Nearly all the work above mentioned was performed by Captains
Hamilton and Gallagher, Maj. Fitzsimmons, and another officer.
As a natural consequence, they were worn-out by excessive labor,
anxiety, and loss of sleep, that being the thirty-ninth night of
unremitting toil. They were, however, still unconquered in spirit,
and declared that another attempt must be made as soon as they were
sufficiently recruited to enter upon it. Noble fellows! hard had
they toiled for liberty, and it came at last.



  A new plan adopted--Nature of the task--In the tunnel--Maj.
  M'Donald's adventure--My own disappearance--Given up as
  escaped--Fislar's story.

While the party last named were resting, there were others not
inactive. Capt. Clark, of the Seventy-Third Illinois, Maj.
M'Donald, of the One Hundredth Ohio, Capt. Lucas, of the Fifth
Kentucky, Lieut. Fislar, of the Seventh Indiana Battery, and
myself, proposed to the originators of the plan of escape, that
we would commence at some other point, and push on the work till
they were sufficiently recruited to unite with us. This meeting
with their approval, on the following night Maj. M'Donald and Capt.
Clark went down and commenced operations.

The plan was to begin a new tunnel in the cellar on the east side,
near the north-east corner of the building. The first thing to be
done was to make a hole through the brick wall, which they effected
in one day and night. This was done by picking the cement from
between the bricks with a penknife, and then breaking them out
with an old ax. This, of course, made considerable noise, and was
calculated to arrest the attention of the guards; but it happened,
providentially, as it seemed to us, that just at that time the
authorities of the prison determined to place iron grates in all
the windows, to render the escape of the Yankees impossible. This
was accompanied by great noise; and while they were thus engaged
our boys thumped away with a will, and made their way through
the wall without exciting the least suspicion. The night after
the breach was made, Lieut. Fislar and myself went down to work;
but having nothing but a small penknife, our progress was, of
necessity, very slow. In spite of all difficulties, however, we
made an excavation of about two feet, and felt that we were that
much nearer freedom. We remained in the cellar all the next day,
and at night were relieved by two others; and thus the work was
continued from night to night, till its completion. One of our
number remained in the cellar every day to remove all signs of the
previous night's work, and to replace the bricks in the cavity made
in the wall, to avoid discovery, as some of the prison officials
or laborers came into the cellar every day, either bringing in or
taking out forage or commissary stores.

I have been asked a thousand times how we contrived to hide such
a quantity of earth as the digging of a tunnel of that size would
dislodge. There was a large pile of straw stored in the cellar for
hospital use; in this we made a wide and deep opening, extending
to the ground; in this the loose dirt was closely packed, and then
nicely covered with straw.

As the work progressed from night to night, and our hopes increased
with the length of our tunnel, the number of laborers was
increased, till the working party numbered fourteen. This was the
more necessary, as the work of removing the loose dirt increased
with every foot we advanced. I have often been asked how we managed
to get the dirt out of the tunnel, which was too narrow to permit a
man to turn round in it. As the whole process was somewhat novel,
one in all probability never attempted before, I will describe it
for the benefit of the readers.

Our dirt-car was a wooden spittoon, with holes through each end
opposite each other, through which ropes were passed; one of these
ropes was used by the one engaged in digging, to draw the empty
spittoon from the entrance to the place where he was at work; and
when he had loosened earth enough to fill it, he gave a signal to
the one at the mouth of the tunnel by jerking the rope, and he
drew the loaded box out, and the miner recovered it by pulling
the rope attached to the end of the box nearest him; thus it was
kept traveling backward and forward till wagon-loads of earth were
removed. After penetrating some distance the task became very
painful; it was impossible to breathe the air of the tunnel for
many minutes together; the miner, however, would dig as long as
his strength would allow, or till his candle was extinguished by
the foul air; he would then make his way out, and another would
take his place--a place narrow, dark, and damp, and more like a
grave than any place can be short of a man's last narrow home.
As the work approached completion the difficulty of breathing in
the tunnel was greatly increased, and four persons were necessary
to keep the work moving; one would go in and dig awhile, then
when he came out nearly exhausted another would enter and fill
the spittoon, a third would draw it to the mouth of the tunnel, a
fourth would then empty the contents into a large box provided
for the purpose, and when it was full, take it to the straw pile
and carefully conceal it, as before stated. This labor, too, it
must be remembered, was not only extremely difficult in itself,
and especially so when the imperfect tools and means of removing
the earth are taken into the account; but in addition to this
was the constant anxiety lest the attempt we were making should
be discovered. Moreover, the fact that all previous attempts had
failed was calculated at times to fill our minds with fears lest
some unforeseen obstacle should occur to prevent the success
of our enterprise. On the other hand, however, the hard fare
and confinement of our prison, the monotony of which had become
unendurable, and the possibility of escape at last roused us up to
exertions almost superhuman. Under any other circumstances the work
would have been deemed impossible; but there are no impossibilities
to men with liberty as the result of their labors. Before the work
was completed, those who had been engaged in the previous attempt
had recovered from their exhaustion, and were able to take part
in this, which, in the end, proved successful. But what is to be
most regretted is, that though all of them regained the liberty for
which they so patiently toiled, one of them was recaptured--the
one, too, who, of all others, the rest confidently believed would
escape, if escape were in the power of man. What he has since
suffered we can only conjecture; but the disappointment must have
been most sad to his great heart--to have gained the free air, and
almost in sight of the flag of the Union--to be recaptured and
borne back to a captivity more hopeless than before.

I have also been asked frequently since my escape, how it was
possible for a man to be left down in the cellar every day without
being discovered. Such a thing seems strange; but the entire work
was a marvelous one, and this was a necessary part of it; and
though the officers, or other persons employed about the prison,
visited the cellar every day, yet for fifty-one days one or another
of our company was down there without being discovered. The duty
of the one left there was to remove all traces of the work of
the previous night, as soon as it became light enough to do so;
he would then conceal himself for the day in the straw, of which
there was a large quantity there, and but for which our undertaking
must have been discovered nearly as soon as begun. To account for
the absence of those persons required some ingenuity, as two of
our number were sometimes on duty at once in the cellar. This was
managed as follows: the officers were drawn up in four ranks, and
the clerk counted them from right to left; one, two, or three, as
the case might be, would change their places so as to be counted
twice; the number being all right, the clerk was deceived.

This, however, was suddenly brought to an end. Some of the officers
had succeeded in obtaining citizens' clothes, and passed the
guards without suspicion and escaped; one or two also escaped by
disguising themselves in the Confederate uniform. After this we
were all collected into the two east rooms, and required to answer
to our names.

About the time the change was made Major M'Donald and Lieut. M'Kee
were on duty in the cellar, and failed to answer to their names;
this caused quite a stir, and for some time it was thought that
they had escaped by a trick similar to that of the others. The next
day they were reported by some one as being present--perhaps the
clerk, who knew that the Major, particularly, would bear watching.
The consequence was they were both called down to the office to
render to Maj. Turner the reasons for their absence on the previous
day. The Lieutenant, with an air of perfect innocence, stated that,
feeling quite unwell, he had wrapped himself up in his blanket,
had fallen asleep, did not hear the order for roll-call, and was
overlooked. His excuse was deemed valid, and he was immediately
sent back to his quarters. The Major was not so fortunate; the fact
is, he was regarded as a suspicious character, and in consequence
had a severer ordeal to pass. The question, "Major, your reason for
non-attendance at roll-call yesterday," was put quite laconically.
Said he, "I happened to be in Col. Streight's room, and failed to
get back in time."

"In Col. Streight's room, indeed! How did you get in there, sir?"

That I may be understood better, it is necessary to state that
some time previous some of the officers of Col. Streight's command
had given much trouble to the authorities of the prison, by being
in our room at roll-call; and, in order to prevent a similar
occurrence, had nailed up the door between the rooms occupied by
the Chickamauga officers, and those captured with Col. Streight.
The door had not been nailed up half an hour before some
quick-witted fellow sawed the door completely in two below the
lock, extracted the nails, placed some benches near the door so as
to conceal the crack, and we were thus able to pass in and out at
pleasure. The occupants of the other room took good care that the
traces of the saw should be concealed on their side, and thus free
intercourse was kept between both rooms without being suspected.

The Major, with great seeming candor, explained the trick which
accounted for his presence in the forbidden room; and the next
question was, "How did it happen that the officer of the day
and the clerk did not see you there when they came in to see if
that room was cleared before commencing to call the roll?" This
would have been a poser to many--not so to the Major, who readily
replied, that, being in the wrong room, not wishing to be found
there, and being compelled to disclose the means by which he
entered, he had climbed up on the plate or girder that passed
through the room; "and when the search for me began," said he,
"I laid there close to the timber for ten hours, and would have
melted, drop by drop, before I would discover myself, and subject
the officers in that room to censure, and cause all intercourse
between the two rooms to be cut off."

His questioners seemed rather to doubt his excuse, ingenious though
it was; but as they were ignorant of the true state of the case,
and he reaffirmed his story so positively, he was dismissed to his
quarters with a reprimand and an admonition.

The day after this occurred it was my turn to stand guard in the
cellar. At quite an early hour the roll was called, and there being
no one willing to run the risk of answering for me, my absence was
discovered. There were several, it is true, who would willingly
have answered for me, but they were so well known, and somewhat
suspected, which would have rendered it dangerous to them, and of
no benefit to me. The fact of my absence made it necessary for the
calling of the roll several times in succession; all the officers
were kept in rank, confined in one room, till three o'clock in
the afternoon, and diligent search was made for me in every room
in the building; and it was finally concluded that I had made my
escape. At night, when the working party came down, they informed
me of what had taken place; and upon consultation it was thought
best that I should remain down in the cellar till the tunnel was
completed. To remain in this cold, dark, and loathsome place was
most revolting to my feelings; but the fear of being handcuffed
and put in the dungeon if I returned to my room, and the hope of
gaining my liberty shortly, induced me to stay. After agreeing to
stay down, it was suggested that I might with safety go up to my
quarters after lights were out, and sleep till four o'clock in the
morning, and go down again when the working party came up. I did
so; but the first night I was seen, either by some traitor, or very
careless prisoner, not acquainted with our secret, who stated at
roll-call the next morning, that I was in the house, as he had
seen me go to bed the night before--which was really the case. The
result was that the roll was called several times, and another
careful search for me was instituted. Great excitement prevailed
through the prison; those of our own men who knew nothing of the
plan of escape, and the place of my concealment, thought that I was
hiding in some of the rooms, and thought it very wrong in me to
do so; they even said that I ought to come out of my hiding-place
and give myself up, as they, though innocent, were suffering on my
account. On the contrary, those who knew where I was declared that
it was impossible that I could be in the building, after the strict
search that had been made for me; and as others were known to have
made their escape recently, it was more than likely that I had done
the same.

This was corroborated by Lieut. Fislar, who improvised a
story to fit the case. He said that he was my messmate and
sleeping-companion--which was true; but that I had been missing
from my usual place for some time, and he had no doubt but that I
had escaped. He said, moreover, that two of my cousins were among
our guards--that I had been courting their favor for some time, and
that they had finally furnished me with a rebel uniform--that I had
made a wooden sword, a tin scabbard, and a belt out of a piece of
oil-cloth, and that they had eventually passed me out as a rebel

This story was taken up and so stoutly confirmed by all who knew
where I was, that the point was yielded by most of the opposite
view, though a few still contended that I must be in the prison

All this was related to me by the working party when they came down
at night, and I then resolved to make my appearance at my quarters
no more. This resolution I have kept faithfully. I never saw my
room again, and never desire to do so, unless it be as the bearer
of freedom to those who are pining there still.



  My home and company--Great alarm--Still safe--The work
  renewed--Success--The last night in Libby--Words on leaving.

The cellar was now my home. I was fed by my companions, who nightly
brought me down a portion of their own scanty fare. Had I been
discovered by the authorities of the prison it would have gone hard
with me; and knowing this, the greatest sympathy was manifested by
my associates, who felt that this danger was incurred not less for
their advantage than my own.

Every thing moved on as well as could be expected. I had plenty
of company--little of it, however, agreeable, as it consisted
of rebels, rats, and other vermin. With the former I had no
communication whatever; whenever they made their appearance I
leaped quickly into a hole I had prepared in the straw, and pulled
the hole in after me, or nearly so, at least, by drawing the straw
over me so thickly that I could scarcely breathe. The rats gave me
no annoyance, save when making more noise than usual, they startled
me by making the impression that my two-legged enemies were near;
the remaining nuisance, which shall be nameless, was one which all
prisoners will ever remember with loathing, and from which there
was neither respite nor escape.

The night of the seventh of February came, and it was thought that
our tunnel was long enough to reach the inside of a tobacco-shed on
the opposite side of the street, under which it passed. We made our
calculation in the following manner: Captain Gallagher had obtained
permission to go to a building across the street, where the boxes
sent from the North to the prisoners were stored, to obtain some of
the perishable articles; and while crossing the street he measured
the distance, as accurately as possible, by stepping it both ways,
and came to the conclusion that fifty-two or fifty-three feet would
bring us to the shed. On measuring the tunnel it was found to be
fifty-three feet long, and we fondly hoped that our labors were
ended, with the exception of a few feet upward to the light. So
confident were we that the work could be completed in an hour or
two, that we had our rations already prepared in our haversacks,
fully expecting to begin going out at nine o'clock--nay, we even
went so far as to communicate the success of our plan to many
who had not been partakers in the labor or the secret of the
undertaking, but whom we invited to become the companions of
our flight. When all were thus expectant, all thinking that the
long-wished-for hour had come, Capt. Randall, of the Second Ohio,
was appointed to open up the way to light and liberty.

It was agreed that the mining party, who had labored so faithfully,
should go out first, and that our friends should follow; and we
stood anxiously awaiting the return of Capt. Randell, with the news
that the way was open. There are times when minutes seem lengthened
into hours--this was one of them. The suspense began to be painful;
it seemed as if we could hear the beatings of each other's hearts,
as well as feel the throbbings of our own, and the unspoken
question on every lip was, Will he succeed? At length he emerged
from the tunnel, and, in answer to the question, "What success?" in
an excited tone and manner he replied, "All is lost!" We gathered
round him, and when he became somewhat calmer he spoke as follows:
"I have made an opening, but a large stone which lay on the surface
fell into the tunnel, making considerable noise; the hole, too, was
on the outside of the shed, and within a few feet of the sentinel
who was on guard; he heard the noise, and called the attention of
the other sentinel to it; the light from the hospital shone upon
the side of the shed; I could see both the guards walking toward
the spot; I have no doubt they have discovered the tunnel, and
perhaps will soon be in here to arrest us."

Imagine, if you can, our feelings; our bright hopes so suddenly
crushed, and every one in expectation that the guard would soon be
upon us. Great excitement prevailed, yet no one was able to suggest
how to act in this sudden and unexpected emergency.

Amid all the excitement, however, incident to such an occasion,
there was much sympathy felt in my behalf. I had been missing
for some time, and was supposed to have made my escape; to be
discovered now, as seemed inevitable, would be proof that I had
much to do with the attempt to escape, and would subject me, at
the very least, to the dungeon and handcuffs. In a few moments the
cellar was nearly cleared, most of the party returning to their
quarters in the different rooms above; but Maj. M'Donald and Capt.
Hamilton remained with me, determined, if they could not aid me, at
least to share the same fate. Noble, self-sacrificing men! their
conduct proved that disinterested friendship and high, chivalrous
feeling have not yet departed.

After all was quiet the Major determined to go up stairs and make
what discoveries he could. He soon returned, saying he had been up
to the upper east room, from which he could see the sentinels very
distinctly; and, from all appearances, he concluded that they had
not discovered the hole. I advised him to go into the tunnel and
examine the breach, and stop it up if possible, as it was not at
the right place to render our escape at all likely, being outside
of the shed instead of inside, as was intended, and within a few
feet of the guard. If the hole could not be stopped, of course it
exposed us to certain discovery in the morning; and I proposed to
go in and enlarge it, and, great as was the risk, try to make my
escape at all hazards; for if I should fail, I would rather be
caught in the attempt than wait to be found in the cellar or my
quarters. When the Major returned he reported favorably, saying
that the breach might be repaired. An old pair of pantaloons were
procured and stuffed full of earth; some dirt, too, was put on the
outside of them, so that the cloth could not be seen, and thus
excite suspicion. These were forced into the aperture, and earth
pressed in beneath; and he returned greatly elated with the hope
that all danger was past, and that in one or two more nights our
labors would be crowned with success.

After a few minutes' consultation it was agreed that I should
remain in the cellar till the next night. All the next day a close
watch was kept, by some of our number in the east room, on the
guards who were stationed near the place where our tunnel ended.
There was no token, however, that any discovery had been made, and
the next night the mining operations were resumed, and between two
and three o'clock in the morning an opening was made to the free
air, this time inside of the shed, at the very point we desired,
at a distance of fifty-seven feet from the point of starting. The
tunnel was about two feet wide by two feet and a half deep; it was
arched above; and Lieut. Davy, who is a practical miner, declared
that it was done in a workmanlike manner. We found a very hard,
compact sand all along the route; the loose earth was disposed of
as I have before stated, till within about ten feet of the end,
when it was strewn along the entire length, thus reducing very
considerably the size of the passage. Near the terminus it was
rather a close fit for a large man, and when I was passing through
I stuck fast, and had to call on Maj. Fitzsimmons to pull me out of
a very tight place.

The principal tool used in this work was a chisel, which was found
among some rubbish in the cellar, a handle for which was made from
a piece of stove-wood.

When the surface was reached there was too little of the night
remaining to effect our escape; two of our number, however, passed
out and explored the lot, and planned the course to be taken after
emerging from the tunnel. The shed in which our labors terminated
fronted the canal; between them was a brick building, through
the center of which there was a passage into the lot, closed by
a gate; and the route fixed upon was through this passage. The
question then arose, who shall go out first? Some thought that I
was entitled to that honor, as I had been confined so long in the
cellar, and had incurred more risk than the rest. Others thought
that, though to go out first might be esteemed the post of honor,
it was also the post of danger, as the first would run more risk
than those who should follow. It was finally agreed that I should
be the fifth to pass out, and that Lieut. Fislar should be my
partner in flight. Then arose the question, how the aperture
through the surface should be concealed till the next night;
for should any one go into the shed during the day, as was most
probable, our plan might yet be frustrated. A piece of plank was
found, and Capt. Hamilton dispatched with it to the outer end of
the tunnel, over which he placed it, being careful, however, to
bury it just below the surface, and to cover it with dry earth. He
soon returned, having successfully accomplished his task; and all
retired to their quarters, leaving me in the cellar to cover up all
traces of their work--cheered by the thought that with night would
come liberty.

The ninth of February was a long day, and long to be remembered;
never was my anxiety so great as for the setting of that day's
sun; and more than once during its long, dreary hours I feared
that the cup of happiness, now so near our lips, would be rudely
dashed away. Business often brought those connected with the
prison into the cellar, as it contained articles constantly needed;
but on that day it was visited much oftener than usual. One party
brought a dog in with them, and hissed him after the rats; and
in his search after them he passed over and around me, and every
moment I expected to be drawn from my place of concealment; but
I was too large game for him, and I escaped. Soon after a rebel
sergeant came in, with some negroes, after some empty barrels that
were stowed in the back part of the cellar. In one of the barrels
they found a haversack full of provisions, left there by one of our
party the preceding night. This I thought would certainly awaken
suspicion, and give rise to a strict search; the negroes, however,
took the food and ate it, without the question being raised how it
came there. But the danger had not yet passed; for, in carrying
out the barrels, one of the negroes stepped over my feet, almost
touching them. Night came at length, and never was sunlight hailed
more gladly than darkness, for it brought an end to our fears and

The path to freedom is now open; but pardon me, kind reader,
if I delay a moment on the threshold, as it were, of a prison
that I trust soon to leave forever, to look over the sad hours
spent in its walls, and the methods taken by its inmates to make
the hours seem less weary. Much of my own time, and that of my
fellow-laborers, was so taken up with our project, that we suffered
less than the great body of prisoners, whose time and thoughts
were not thus occupied. To them the routine of prison life became
intolerably oppressive, and every device was employed to pass away
the long, long hours. Books and fragments of books were eagerly
devoured; newspapers were read till they would scarcely hold
together. At times shouts of uproarious laughter would be heard;
and a casual observer would have thought that a more careless,
light-hearted band could not be found; but, alas! much of the
laughter rang above a sad heart; and to those who knew the thoughts
of those so outwardly gay, there was something in that laughter
sadder far than tears. Many were anxiously exercised upon the
questions, what shall we eat? what shall we drink? and wherewithal
shall we be clothed? but their solicitude never led them to a
satisfactory conclusion. Others would go through the forms of
fashionable life, and invitations to parties, and to dine, were
frequent; but the rich viands and sparkling wines, like those of
the banquet recorded in the Arabian Nights, existed only in the
imagination of the guests.

Wealth is only a relative term at last. He was well-off in Libby
who had two pewter spoons, an extra tin cup or plate; rich who
possessed a ham and a box of crackers--a millionaire if, in
addition to these, he had a pound or two of tobacco. The silver
ware in our wealthiest mansions is never looked after as carefully
as were the extra spoons, forks, or plates, which a man or mess
claimed; and when they disappeared, as they sometimes would, as
much skill and craft would be employed to recover them as a corps
of detectives would display when a bank has been robbed, or a
palace plundered. Many pined away with melancholy, and the history
of the hearts which have been crushed would be a sad one; many left
us during my stay for the hospital--from thence it was not far to
the grave. There were, however, stout hearts which would not yield
to discouragement--men who never for a moment yielded to despair;
they had faith in their Government, in the justice of the cause for
which they were suffering, and, best of all, some of them had faith
in God.



  The last night--Farewell to Libby--Sufferings and dangers--The
  north star our guide--The faithful negro--A false friend--Almost
  retaken--The contrast.

It came at last--the last night, the night of release; and the
working party was assembled in the cellar for the last time. There
was a shade of sadness on many a brow; for we were about to go
forth two by two, to separate to meet again--when? Perhaps never!
The party consisted of

  COL. ROSE, 77th Pennsylvania Infantry.
  MAJ. FITZSIMMONS, 30th Indiana Infantry.
  CAPT. HAMILTON, 12th Kentucky Cavalry.
  CAPT. GALLAGHER, 2d Ohio Volunteer Infantry.
  CAPT. CLARK, 79th Illinois Vol. Infantry.
  CAPT. LUCAS, 5th Kentucky Vol. Infantry.
  MAJ. M'DONALD, 100th Ohio Vol. Infantry.
  CAPT. RANDELL, 2d Ohio Vol. Infantry.
  CAPT. I. N. JOHNSTON, 6th Ky. Vol. Infantry.
  LIEUT. FISLAR, 7th Indiana Battery.
  LIEUT. SIMPSON, 10th Indiana Infantry.
  LIEUT. MITCHELL, 79th Illinois Infantry.
  LIEUT. DAVY, 77th Pennsylvania Infantry.
  LIEUT. STERLING, 29th Indiana Infantry.
  LIEUT. FOSTER, 30th Indiana Infantry.

It was agreed that ten minutes should elapse after the first two
passed out, before the second couple should start. Lieut. Fislar
and myself were the third couple. After emerging from the tunnel
we faced to the right, and passed across the lot to the passage
through the brick building, already described, into the street; and
in doing so we passed within forty feet of the sentinels. We were
not observed, and you may be sure we did not linger, and soon we
were out of sight of the hated place.

One hundred and nine persons thus escaped from eight o'clock at
night to three in the morning, notwithstanding that the night was
clear and beautiful, and all had to pass between two gas lights;
of these, however, only about one half succeeded in reaching the
Federal lines.

As my comrade and myself were passing through the city, two ladies,
who were standing at the gate of a house which stood back from the
street, observed us; one of them remarked to the other that we
looked like Yankees. We did not stop to undeceive them, and met
with no further trouble till the city limits were passed. We then
changed our course and traveled north-east, and soon came to the
rebel camps, which stretched round a great portion of the city. We
were excited, of course, and bewildered for the first hour, not
knowing whether we were in the path of safety or danger. All at
once I became perfectly composed, and told my comrade to follow me
and I would conduct him safe through. I then started due north,
taking the north star for my guide, changing my course only when
we came near any of the camps, sufficiently to avoid them. After
traveling three or four miles we saw another camp ahead, and
thinking that the camps possibly did not connect, we determined to
attempt to pass between them. As we approached, however, we found
out our mistake--the camps were connected by a chain of sentinels,
and this chain must be passed before escape became even probable.

We advanced cautiously, and when we reached a small ravine we could
hear the sentinel, on his beat, on the other side. We saw his fire,
too, which we, of course, avoided; and at one time only a few
small bushes were between us and the guard; the wind, however, was
blowing briskly, causing quite a rustling among the dry leaves, and
we succeeded in getting by safely. We moved on rapidly, and soon
came near the cavalry pickets; these we passed without difficulty.
After continuing our course north for some time, we changed to
north-east, and passed over four lines of the rebel defenses. It
was our intention to strike the Chickahominy above the railroad
bridge; but, to our surprise, we struck the railroad on the
Richmond side.

We then traveled down the road about a mile, and as day began to
dawn we left the road a short distance to find a hiding-place,
expecting that with the coming of light there would be a keen
search made for us. The rebel fortifications were near; in front
of them all the timber had been felled, and among this timber was
our hiding-place the first day--all the safer, too, no doubt, for
being within a few hundred yards of the rebel guns. The weather was
excessively cold; we had walked during the night over bad roads,
through mud and water, and our pantaloons were frozen stiff up to
our knees. We did not dare to make a fire so near the rebel camp,
for fear of discovery; but our suffering was greatly lessened by
the thought that we were free.

As soon as it was light enough to see, we made the rather
unpleasant discovery that there was a picket-guard not more
than one hundred and fifty yards from the place where we had
taken refuge; and soon two working parties came out from the
fortifications, and began to cut cord-wood. These two parties, with
the picket-guard, formed a triangle--the wood-choppers on each
side, the guards in front; so that we were obliged, half frozen
though we were, to lay very close to the ground till kind and
merciful Night, who kindly lends her mantle to escaped prisoners,
should come.

This, the first day of our escape, was a long one, full of anxiety
and fears, lest, after all our toils, we should be retaken and
subjected to a captivity far worse than we had experienced before.
About sundown the working party withdrew, and soon after nightfall
we resumed our journey, again toward the north star. We had
scarcely got fairly started before our ears were saluted by the
tramp of horses and the clank of sabers; we immediately left the
road and lay down behind some brushwood. It proved to be a scouting
party, perhaps in pursuit of us; but we let them pass unchallenged.
We continued our course till we reached the Chickahominy River;
going up the stream a short distance we found a log across it,
passed over and kept our course for several miles, then changed our
course north-east, and traveled till nearly daylight. We camped
for the day by the side of a swamp, under a large pine-tree, near
the foot of which was a thick cedar bush, whose shade we found
most welcome, as it afforded us concealment and shelter from the
bleak wind. The night had been very cold, and having crossed
several swamps in our journey, our feet were wet, and our clothes
frozen, as, indeed, was the case, day and night, till we reached
the Union lines. During the night we were able to keep the blood
in circulation by active exercise; but being compelled to lie
still during the day for fear of discovery, we came very near
perishing from cold. That day I thought our feet certainly would
freeze; and as necessity will often set the wits to work, I fell
upon an expedient which doubtless saved us from such a disaster.
Before leaving the prison I had taken the precaution to put on two
shirts--one of them a woolen one; this I pulled off; and having
taken off our shoes and socks, we lay down close together, and
rolled our feet up in it, and found great relief. About noon some
cows came around us; and as the spot was a sheltered one, they
seemed inclined to remain. Fearing that some one would soon be in
search of them, we got up and drove them away; and very soon a
woman came, evidently looking for them. We lay very close to the
ground as long as she was in sight, and breathed more freely when
she disappeared. A celebrated traveler says that he was invariably
well treated by women in the various countries through which he
traveled; much as we regard the sex, we fear that it would be a
dangerous experiment for an escaped prisoner to trust even the
gentlest and fairest in rebeldom.

On the night of the eleventh we traveled east, and crossed the
railroad about half-past eight o'clock; we also crossed the main
road from Richmond to Williamsburg, and two or three other roads,
all leading into the main road from the Chickahominy, and just
before day went into a hiding-place near one of these roads. As
soon as it was light we saw that our place of rest was not well
chosen; that scouts, or any one in pursuit of us, could come close
upon us before we could see them; we therefore sought another
place, from which we could see to a considerable distance in every
direction. We then pulled off our shoes and socks, and wrapped our
feet up in the flannel shirt, as before, and endeavored to get a
little sleep. It was so cold, however, that we could sleep but
little, and then never both at once; we were still in such danger
that one would watch while the other rested. Sometimes in our night
marches we would become so tired and sleepy that we would throw
ourselves down on the ground and sleep a short time, till awakened
by the excessive cold, and then rise and walk briskly till our
chilled blood began to move faster in its channels.

We were careful to shun every thing in the shape of a man, whether
black or white; but after traveling through swamps and thickets,
on the fourth night we came to a path along which a negro man was
passing; we stopped him and asked a number of questions, and were
convinced, from his answers, that he was a friend, and might be
trusted. We then told him our condition, and asked him if he could
give us something to eat. He said that he was not near home, or he
would do so cheerfully; but pointing to a house in the distance, to
which he said he was going, assured us that friends lived there,
and if we would go with him our wants should be supplied. He said
the people who lived there were Union folks, and that we need not
fear; but we had suffered so much that we did not feel inclined
to trust strangers; however, I asked him to go to the house and
see if any rebel soldiers were there. This he did readily, and
soon returned, telling us to come on, that the way was clear, and
supper, such as they had, would soon be prepared for us. I then
asked him if he would stand guard while we went in, as I was still
fearful of being retaken. He agreed to do so. We then entered the
house, found a good fire, and some friendly faces; and the inmates
set about preparing supper for us with all speed. We happened to
have a little coffee with us, the very thing of which they seemed
most in need. We added this to their store, and soon we had the
first good meal we had taken for months before us, and a cheery
cup of hot coffee, which made it seem a feast. After the meal was
ended, being fully satisfied that the people were friends, and our
black friend outside faithful, we rested awhile, which we certainly
needed, if ever men did, and gave to our kind entertainers all that
we could--our heart-felt thanks. When we were ready to start, the
faithful negro sentinel, who had stood guard for us, offered to
be our guide, and conducted us about four miles on our journey; he
advised us to cross to the north side of the road, as we should
meet with fewer swamps, and consequently make better progress. He
added other directions which we found to be valuable, and we never
shall forget the kindness of the warm heart which beat in that
black man's breast.

We then traveled on till daylight, and stopped, as usual, for the
day; but our clothes were so wet and frozen that we were obliged to
travel on to keep from being perfectly benumbed with cold. We had
not traveled any in the daytime before, and began to think that we
were out of danger; still, we kept a vigilant watch, but met with
no interruption, and we gradually became bolder. About sundown we
saw before us a negro chopping wood; and as he was directly in our
line of march, and our adventure of the previous night had given
us confidence in those having black skins, we walked directly
toward him, intending to inquire about the roads, the position of
the rebel pickets, the movements of scouting parties, and other
matters of interest. Judge of our surprise, however, when we came
within a few paces of him, to find a white man with him, seated at
the foot of a tree! It was too late to change our course, as he
evidently saw us; so we went up to him and inquired how far it was
to Barnesville, a small town we had passed a few miles back. He
answered us civilly, and we asked several other questions, which
he replied to satisfactorily. He gave us to understand, however,
that he recognized us as Union soldiers. We told him that was not
the case, but that we were Confederate scouts in disguise, and
asked him if he had, during the past few days, seen any Yankees in
that vicinity. He said that he had not, and insisted that we were
Federal soldiers ourselves. At length I told him we were, and that
we had escaped from Libby Prison. He protested that he was glad
to see us, had heard of the escape of the Libby prisoners, but
did not credit it--but must believe it now, as he had the living
witnesses before him. He talked freely with us, saying, among other
things, that he was a citizen, and had taken no part whatever in
the war, and even expressed the wish that we might make our escape.
I told him that I expected, as soon as we were gone, that he would
go to the nearest picket-post and inform his rebel friends what
course we had taken. He declared that he had no such intention,
and repeated the wish that we might have a safe journey. I then
asked him if he knew of any pickets near. He replied there were
none nearer than Burnt Ordinary, which was some miles distant, and
that he had not seen a Confederate soldier for three weeks--in
fact, that they seldom came in that direction. The truth was, as
we soon discovered, there was a picket-post not more than half a
mile from the place where we stood. This he well knew, and did his
utmost to betray us into their hands. He advised us to follow a
certain path, by doing which he said we should avoid a swamp that
it was difficult and dangerous to cross, and even went with us a
short distance to see that we did not take the wrong path. I could
not, however, resist the conviction that he was treacherous, and
did all I could to impress him with a salutary fear, telling him
that if he informed on us, there was a certain Gen. Butler, of
whom he had doubtless heard, who had a way of finding such things
out; and if any thing happened to us he would doubtless send out a
detachment that would destroy every thing that he had. If, however,
he conducted himself as a quiet, peaceable citizen, he and his
property would be respected. He assured us that no harm should come
to us through him, shook hands with us, and wished us again a safe

We had not gone over a hundred yards, when happening to look back,
I saw our friend traveling at a pace quite unnecessary for one so
friendly, and the whole matter flashed on my mind. I turned to my
comrade and said, "We are gone up; that scoundrel, I feel certain,
has gone to report us to the nearest picket-guard!"

So well assured did I feel of his treachery, that I proposed
that we should change our course from south to east, which we
did immediately--and then almost too late. We had not pursued
our new course more than half a mile when we heard voices of men
talking in a low yet earnest tone; we stopped and listened; it
was even as I had suspected--the professed friend, from whom we
had recently parted, had gone to the nearest pickets, informed
the rebels who we were, and how we might be intercepted; and the
officer was now placing his men on the road near where we were
expected to cross, and we were now within fifteen or twenty paces
of them--they, aware of our coming, wary and watchful. It was a
moment of fearful suspense; we were screened from view, however,
by the bushes; and our only chance was to change our course; we
started, but the rustling of the dry leaves beneath our feet
betrayed us, and we were sternly ordered to come out of the brush.
We hesitated, and the order was repeated in fierce, quick tones,
which was accompanied by a volley of musketry. On this we came
out at a double-quick, but in a direction opposite to that which
we were thus rudely invited--in other words, we broke away and
ran for life. With a shout our enemies joined in the pursuit, and
pressed us so closely that I was obliged to throw away my overcoat,
and Lieut. Fislar lost his cap. On came our pursuers, nearer and
nearer, till, at length, in order to save ourselves, we had to take
refuge in a large swamp. Orders were given to surround it, and we
could hear men on every side calling to each other, and giving
direction how to prevent our escape--and all this when liberty
was almost in our grasp; for we were then but three miles from the
Federal lines.

While thus lying concealed in the swamp our reflections were not
of the most agreeable character. We had almost reached the reward
of much toil and suffering; we had even begun to think and talk
of home and the loved ones there; and now, by the baseness of one
of our fellow-beings, to lose the prize almost in our grasp, was
too painful a thought to be calmly endured. We contrasted the
duplicity--nay, almost perjury, of the civilized white man who had
betrayed us into the power of our enemies, with the fidelity of the
African slave who had proved so kind and true, and felt that under
the dark skin beat the nobler heart. The one, of our own race, in
violation of promises the most solemn, would have given us back to
a fate worse than death; the other, of another and despised race,
did all in his power to restore us to freedom and home.



  In the swamp--Meeting our pickets--Warm welcome--Aid to the
  fugitives--Kind treatment--Interview with Gen. Butler--Arrival at

Thus encircled by our enemies, our only hope of escape lay in
crossing the swamp in front of us, which was a most perilous
undertaking, as all who have any acquaintance with the swamps of
the Chickahominy well know. The remembrance of the prison we had
left, and the fear of one even worse if retaken, urged us on; and,
after many difficulties, our efforts were at last successful. We
attempted to cross four or five times before we were able to do
so, and more than once we were ready to despair. In one of our
attempts I stepped from a log and went down into mud waist-deep;
every motion I made only served to carry me down still lower; but
my true friend Fislar was at hand, and saved me from a horrible
fate. He came to the end of the log, and I roused every energy and
threw myself toward him; he was just able to reach my hand, which
was eagerly stretched out to him, and he drew me exhausted from the

Never can I forget that kind, generous friend--a truer man to
country and friends does not live; the trials through which we
passed only served to develop his noble nature, and he will ever
seem dear as a brother to me. He is a noble specimen of a man,
physically; has dark hair, brown eyes, and light complexion--is
six feet high, well-proportioned, and has an agreeable face--is
possessed of fine natural abilities, is twenty-three years of
age, brave, active, and daring, ready for any emergency--and, to
crown all, has as noble a heart as ever beat in human breast; and,
for friend and companion, at home or abroad, in prosperity or
adversity, there is no one that I have ever known that I would
prefer to him.

After I was thus rescued we sat down awhile to rest; and when
somewhat refreshed made another attempt to cross. We found a place
where a number of dead trees stood in the swamp, from which the
branches had fallen; and by jumping from one to the other of these,
and occasionally slipping into mud knee-deep, we reached the middle
of the swamp; and in looking both before and behind us, it really
seemed as if we were the first human beings who had ever penetrated
to that dismal and solitary place. A stream, narrow, dark, and
deep, now lay before us, and checked further progress; but the kind
Providence which had aided us on so many occasions did not desert
us now; for we found near the spot a slab that had been washed
down from a saw-mill, which afforded us the means of crossing, and
we were soon safely on the other side. Now that we were over the
stream, a large portion of swamp had still to be traversed; but we
felt that every step brought us nearer to friends and safety, so we
plodded on cheerfully, and late at night struck the high ground on
the other side.

Being exhausted by our journey through a swamp, which would have
been deemed impassable had we not been urged on by hopes before
and fears behind, we stopped for a time to gather strength for new
efforts, hoping before sunrise to be beyond the reach of successful
pursuit. Again we began our march, and near midnight we saw the
picket-fires near Burnt Ordinary, but supposed them to be those
of the rebels, as we had been told by the man who had betrayed
us, that the rebels had a picket-guard at that place, which was
true; but that evening, before we reached there, the Union cavalry
had driven them away, and the fires we saw were those of our own
pickets. Our narrow escape had rendered us very cautious; and
having every reason to believe that the fires in sight were
those of the enemy, we passed around them at what we thought a
safe distance, and then struck out for Williamsburg, then, as we
afterward learned, about twelve miles distant. We had not gone far
before we were halted. Inquiring of the sentinel who he was, and
where we were, he informed us that he belonged to the Eleventh
Pennsylvania Cavalry, which was under Gen. Butler's command. As
we had tried to play Confederate ourselves, we were not certain
but that this might be one of them trying to play Yankee. After
questioning him very closely, and being fully satisfied that he was
"all right," we advanced. When we got up to him he told us that he
and his comrades had been sent out on that advanced post in order
to meet and aid prisoners who were said to have escaped from Libby
Prison; and, added he, "I guess you are some of them." We told him
we were, and he expressed great pleasure at meeting with us, and we
felt what words never can express--a joy which can never be felt
save by those who, after privations and anxieties like ours, feel
that they are safe at last.

The sentinel then conducted us to the reserve-post, where we were
warmly greeted, every one proffering aid in one way or another.
After warming ourselves at the camp-fire, the officer in command,
seeing our need of food and rest, proposed to send us on to the
camp; and asked his men if any of them would furnish us with
horses. "You can have mine! you can have mine!" was heard on
every side, all seeming eager to help us; and soon we were well
mounted, and on our way to the main body. We were conducted to
Capt. Akerly's quarters, who gave us a hearty welcome; and though
it was now after midnight, he soon had a good supper, with the
luxurious addition of a cup of hot coffee, prepared for us, and
congratulations on our good fortune poured in on all sides. After
giving him a brief account of our trials, we informed him that it
was reported through the country that the Federal pickets were
advanced as far as Barnsville, which we now had learned was not the
case; and we feared that some of our friends who had escaped might,
on hearing this, venture in there and be recaptured. The Captain
told us that he was about sending a company in that direction just
before we got in--that they were now preparing to start, and he
would have them keep a sharp lookout for our friends. Just then
Lieut. Palmer reported to the Captain for orders, saying that the
detachment was ready to move. The Captain put in his possession all
that he had just learned from us; and he was about leaving, when
my comrade, Lieut. Fislar, sprang up, asked to be furnished with a
horse and saber, and to be permitted to accompany him in search of
our companions, who were still subjected to the dangers which we
had so narrowly escaped. His request was granted, and he was soon
in the saddle and away.

This act was characteristic of the man; and when it is remembered
that he had been on the march near thirty hours, had just been
hunted by the rebels like a pack of hounds in full cry, had just
crossed a swamp which most men would have deemed madness to
attempt, it must be regarded as noble and chivalrous in the highest
degree. Most men, under similar circumstances, would eagerly have
embraced the opportunity offered and needed for rest; but with
a most unselfish devotion he forgot past dangers and present
weariness, in his great desire for the safety of those, his former
companions, who, cold, hungry, and half clad, were struggling still
through forests and swamps to freedom.

The next morning, having been furnished with horse, sword, and
pistol, I moved forward with the column, which was composed of
picked men from three companies of the Eleventh Pennsylvania
Cavalry. My position was in front with the Captain--every man with
eager eyes on the look-out for the late inmates of Libby. We had
not advanced more than two miles before we saw two men emerge from
a thicket and regard us anxiously; they were immediately recognized
as escaped prisoners; but O, what emotions filled my heart when I
saw and knew the well-known forms and faces of Maj. Fitzsimmons and
Capt. Gallagher, of the old working party--companions in suffering,
and soon to be partakers of joy such as mine! Spurring my horse
in advance of the rest, and swinging my hat and cheering as I
went, I hastened to meet my old companions--and seldom is so much
joy pressed into a few brief moments as was ours when we met; we
wept, we laughed, we shouted aloud in our joy, and warmer, gladder
greetings will never be exchanged till we meet in the land where
there are no partings. Our men came up and welcomed the fugitives
warmly--not a man in the band who was not willing to dismount and
let the wearied ones ride; and together we rode in search of others
whom we doubted not were near; and during the day eleven more were
added to our number--each one of them increasing our joy. I have
known hours in my captivity when I have almost lost faith in man;
but that day my faith in humanity was restored. To see those poor,
hunted, suffering, wearied ones treated with all the tenderness and
affection of brothers, by men whom they had never met till that
hour, was sufficient to convince the most skeptical that earth yet
abounds in warm, unselfish hearts. As we rode along we talked of
our past trials, and the dangers we had passed since the night we
parted in the cellar of Libby Prison, and speculated concerning the
fate of others, whom we trusted would be as fortunate as ourselves,
and to whom we would have borne aid, could we but have found them,
at the risk of life itself.

During the day we had several skirmishes with the rebel scouts,
and captured a few horses and accouterments, and returned the same
evening to Williamsburg, when another detachment was sent out on
a mission similar to that in which we had been engaged; and I need
not say they bore with them our warmest wishes for their success.

With regard to the officers and men of the Eleventh Pennsylvania
Cavalry, I can say, with truth, that they are the most daring,
energetic, and enterprising men that I have met with since I have
been in the service--the bravest of the brave; and the work which
they fail in will be left undone. But this is not their highest
praise--since I left my mother's care I have never felt so much
like a baby as I have since I fell into their hands; nothing that
could minister to the comfort of myself and comrades was left
undone; they are as kind and tender as they are brave and true.
God bless them, every one! The sutler of the regiment is worthy
of special mention. When we reached our lines we were nearly all
destitute of shoes and socks, and some even of other articles of
clothing. Whatever we needed he readily furnished, and refused to
receive any thing at our hands in return; but he can not refuse, I
am sure, the heart-felt gratitude which will spring up in every one
of our breasts at the recollection of the kindness shown by George

During our stay at Williamsburg most of us remained with the
Eleventh Pennsylvania--a few, however, were with the First New York
Mounted Rifles; and they really seemed to strive to see which could
treat us best. Our party had now increased to twenty-six--every
new arrival was loudly and warmly greeted; the adventures of many
of them were strange and stirring. May they live to tell their
wondering grandchildren the story of their sufferings in Libby, and
their marvelous escape!

We were all furnished with transportation to Yorktown. From thence
we went by boat to Fortress Monroe, and were conducted by Gen.
Wistar to head-quarters, and introduced to Gen. Butler, who
expressed the greatest pleasure at our escape, and only regretted
that some of our number had again fallen into the hands of the
enemy. We had, of course, to go over the story of our treatment
while in the hands of the rebels, and our perils on the way to the
Union lines; and were made to feel the contrast by the attention
bestowed upon us. Every heart seemed full of sympathy, and every
tongue had a kind word. For ourselves, words were powerless to
express the gratitude we felt for such constant kindness. The
General ordered dinner to be prepared for our entire party,
and authorized us to draw upon his quartermaster for any thing
we needed; every wish seemed to be anticipated, every desire
gratified--save one, the earnest longing for home. Even this was
soon granted, by furnishing us transportation to Washington; from
which place we started to our various homes; and O, how glad was
our welcome! Many had mourned us as dead, and our return was like
the grave giving up those it had once claimed as its own; and we
were unutterably glad to be under the old flag and at home once



  Return home--How I spent my furlough--Join my
  regiment--Changes--Forward movement--Tunnel Hill--Rocky

With the preceding chapter it was intended that my story should
end; but in the judgment of others, whose opinions it would be
improper to disregard, it was thought best that I should add a
short sketch of Sherman's celebrated campaign, which resulted in
the capture of Atlanta. The part taken by my regiment in this,
one of the most arduous and successful enterprises of the war, is
worthy of remembrance, and will be of no less interest to my brave
companions in arms than the scenes already described; and being in
actual command of the remnant of that noble band of men known as
the Sixth Kentucky, whose deeds of daring in that memorable march
should never be forgotten, my position gave me ample opportunity to
know how uncomplainingly they bore the fatigue and privations of
the march; how firmly they held the post of honor and danger; how
gallantly they charged the foe, and how nobly they fell.

It is a sad thought, that many who entered the service with me in
this regiment three years ago, will never read these lines; for
they are sleeping in quiet, nameless graves, over which loved ones
will never come to weep; their deeds and generous self-devotion to
their country in her hour of peril shall never be forgotten; and
sorrowing friends will take a melancholy pleasure, as they read
these pages, in remembering that those whom they shall see on earth
no more were not victims in a useless and wicked struggle, but
martyrs, rather, in a cause for which it is glorious to die.

To resume, then, the thread of my narrative. On reaching
Washington our party was extremely anxious to visit their homes
before again entering active service; and in order to do this
furloughs and back pay were necessary. There was such a pressure
of business at the War Office that we found great difficulty in
having our wishes gratified in the particulars above named. At
length, however, we found in Mr. Montfort, agent from Indiana
to attend to the interests of the soldiers of that State, a
friend whose sympathies were not bounded by the Ohio River, but
one who was ever ready to aid all who wore the uniform of our
common country. Our recent escape, and the dangers we had passed,
enlisted his liveliest regard; and being familiar with the forms of
business, he soon procured for us the desired furloughs, and the
not less necessary pay. Nor did we confine our gratitude to empty
expressions alone; before leaving for our homes we presented him
with a very handsome testimonial in the shape of a beautiful cane,
with gold head and appropriate inscription; and we feel greatly
his debtors still, and trust that when declining years shall render
necessary the staff to support his feeble steps, that his mind may
be consoled by the reflection that his unselfish exertions on our
behalf are gratefully cherished.

Home was now in immediate prospect; yet, so endeared had we become
by association in Libby, and the perils attending our escape, that
our parting was not without emotion. But soon there came to us all
glad meetings--the embracings and welcomes of loved ones, and the
cup of our joy was full. I made my way to Carrollton, Ky., the
residence of my brother, the Rev. J. J. Johnston, and soon forgot
the perils of the past in the joys of the present.

The days of my short furlough of thirty days passed rapidly;
another of fifteen days was granted, and they, too, I need not say,
passed sweetly and swiftly away; for in the first weeks of my home
life I gave myself up to the delicious reveries of Love's young
dream, and changed that dream only for the honeymoon, by giving my
hand to Miss Annie Nash, in whose keeping my heart had long been.

Furloughs, however, like all things else on earth, have an end;
and leaving friends--a nearer friend now than all the rest--my
wife--behind, I hurried to the front, and joined my regiment
between Knoxville and Chattanooga, a few days before the campaign
against Atlanta began. My comrades gave me a hearty welcome; but
there were faces that I missed, and well-known voices that I heard
not--faces that I shall see and voices that I shall hear on earth
no more. I had been spared amid all the dangers and sufferings of
captivity; but they, amid the perils of the field and diseases of
the camp, had gone to their rest.

On the third of May, one of the loveliest days of Spring, Hazen's
Brigade, of the Third Division, Fourth Army Corps, was encamped
near Cleveland, on the railroad leading from Chattanooga to
Knoxville. Early in the day orders were received for a forward
move; camps were broken up; all surplus baggage sent to the rear;
the troops put in light marching order, one wagon only being
allowed to each regiment, which was to transport officers' baggage
and ten days' forage for the team. Thus prepared, at twelve
o'clock, M., the _assembly_ was sounded, which was soon succeeded
by the _forward_, at which time the First Brigade moved on, full
of glee and cheerfulness, as if on the way to some high festival,
instead of the field of danger and of death. In a few moments the
Second Brigade, with its distinguished and gallant leader, Hazen,
at its head, moved on with that elasticity and precision of step
so characteristic of that command, with the watchword, "On to
Atlanta!" upon every lip. O, it was a grand sight to behold an army
of veterans, whose courage had been proved on many a well-fought
field, under the eye of brave and vigilant leaders, with banners
frayed and torn in many a deadly struggle, under the cheering
notes of the sounding bugle and the inspiration of past success,
marching on to dangers greater and fields more glorious than those
already won. The day was warm and the march long, and when night
overtook us we camped in an open field, wrapped up in our blankets,
our only tent the arch of blue, with its glorious stars above.

On the morning of the fourth the boys sprang up at dawn, took their
coffee, and were soon ready for the day's march. At six, A. M.,
the signal to advance rang from the bugles, and the whole command
moved forward, but with more caution than on the previous day; our
advance-guard had come up with the enemy's pickets, and slight
skirmishing continued nearly the whole day. We camped that night
near the Catoosa Springs, on the dirt road leading to Tunnel Hill,
advanced our pickets, and established our lines within a short
distance of the outposts of the enemy.

We remained in camp till the morning of the seventh, during which
time some picket firing was kept up, with but little damage to
either side. At five o'clock, on the morning of the seventh, our
baggage having been further reduced and the surplus sent back to
Ringgold, our line moved forward, the Sixth Kentucky in the rear,
having been on picket the night before. Our advance-guard soon came
in contact with the enemy's skirmishers, who were driven back as
far as Tunnel Hill, when, being reënforced, they formed in line of
battle and awaited our approach. We did not permit them to wait
long; and as our advance moved upon them they opened a heavy fire
with artillery and musketry; but finding that they were being
flanked on the right by a part of the First Division of the Fourth
Army Corps--the Ninth Indiana, I think--they retired in great
confusion from their line of works on the top of the hill.

We gained the hill about one o'clock, P. M.; and during the
evening a brisk cannonading was kept up along our lines against
some of the enemy, who could be seen across the valley at the base
of Rocky Face Mountain, and in the road leading to Buzzard Roost.
Our pickets were stationed at the foot of Tunnel Hill, while the
Fourth Army Corps camped on its summit--and the rest was all the
sweeter for the toils and dangers of the day.

On the next morning all was calm and beautiful, and many of us
desired that this quiet, which so well became the Sabbath, would
continue through the day; but war is stern work; we had only to
look before us in order to see the enemy and their intrenchments
upon the summit of Rocky Face. About nine, A. M., our line was
formed for a forward movement, which commenced half an hour
later--the Sixth Kentucky in the front line. In a few moments the
Second Brigade had descended Tunnel Hill, and were rapidly crossing
the valley toward Rocky Face. Our advance was resisted, and soon
the quiet of the Sabbath was broken by the sounds of battle. We
steadily drove the foe across the valley, and camped for the night
at the foot of Rocky Face, the enemy occupying the hights above in
rifle range of our camp. The evening passed with but little firing,
and when night came our boys gathered around the camp-fires as
cheerful as if our march were but a pleasure excursion, till the
tattoo reminded them of rest needed after the toils of the day, and
necessary to prepare them for the conflict of the morrow. Pickets
were posted on the mountain-side to watch the movements of the
enemy while the army slept; but as soon as day began to dawn the
sleepers were aroused by quick, sharp reports from the rifles of
the rebel sharp-shooters; their fire called forth corresponding
activity on the part of our men, who fired on them with great
effect. At eight o'clock, A. M., the Sixth Kentucky advanced as
skirmishers; and passing up the mountain-side drove the enemy into
the first line of their works upon its summit; which line it would
have been madness to attempt to storm, as it was a strong position
by nature, and so well fortified in addition that a single line
would be amply sufficient to keep an army in check. Our brigade,
however, held its advanced position till late in the evening, when
it retired slowly and in good order to the foot of the mountain,
where we encamped for the night. We lost several men during the
day, and next morning were so annoyed by sharp-shooters that we
were compelled to move our camp to a more secure place across the
valley, near the base of Tunnel Hill. Here we remained till the
afternoon of the eleventh, during which time constant cannonading
and active skirmishing was going on, and matters now began to
assume an exciting appearance; a heavy rain fell that day, which
made the movement of troops very disagreeable.

In the mean time Sherman, with his flanking columns, was hard at
work; and on the night of the twelfth the enemy were compelled
to evacuate Rocky Face and Dalton, and pursuit of the retreating
foe began the next morning. We marched six miles south of Dalton,
and went into camp for the night. Early next morning our line of
battle was formed, and the enemy were reported to be awaiting us
about three miles from where we stood. Our column moved forward
at nine, A. M., and at eleven our advance-guard came up with the
rebel skirmishers, who fell back slowly till half-past one, when a
general engagement ensued, which lasted till night, and resulted
in driving the enemy into his main line of works in front of
Resaca. As usual, the Sixth Kentucky held the front rank in the
line of battle. During the day our brigade captured a number of
prisoners, among them a rebel colonel, and the night was spent in
throwing up breast-works, within close rifle range of the enemy's
intrenchments. On the morning of the 15th skirmishing commenced,
and continued during the day; at times there was considerable
artillery firing, with but little effect, however, on either side.
In the afternoon a charge was made on the rebel works by the
Second Brigade, which was repelled, with heavy loss on our part.
This charge was considered a blunder; it was led by the Colonel
of the Fifth Kentucky--a brave man and a good officer. Both men
and officers acted nobly in the affair; yet it was a bloody and
fruitless attempt to break the rebel lines without assailing their
flanks, and should never have been made by a single brigade. It
was understood that Gen. Hazen did not favor the movement. Who
was in fault may never be known; yet nearly all felt "that some
one had blundered;" but wherever the fault may be, it was not
with the Second Brigade. That night was one of great and unusual
excitement; the enemy evidently was in motion, and thought to be
meditating mischief. At one time the impression was that he was
advancing upon our camp, and our men stood to their arms--and, to
tell the truth, some were fearful; they could fight in daylight,
but were somewhat nervous with regard to a night attack. Morning
came, and the commotion of the previous night proved to be caused
by the enemy abandoning his strong position, and seeking, if not
a stronger, at least a safer one further south. We learned then,
but, alas! too late, that all the advantages which we gained might
have been secured without the loss of the brave men of the Second
Brigade; for if compelled to abandon his position after repulsing
our attack, he would most certainly have done so had no assault
been made. We pursued as soon as we learned of the enemy's flight;
but were unable to come up with him, and went into camp six miles
south of Resaca.

The town of Resaca is situated on the south side of the Oostanaula
River, is surrounded by strong natural defenses, and had been
rendered almost impregnable, perhaps entirely so to any army but
ours, by admirably-constructed fortifications; but Sherman is
such a great fellow for the flanks, or, as the Georgians say, "for
coming at them endways," that the army of Johnston was compelled
to retire from position to position, till it was only necessary
for us to advance in order to insure his retreat. He may be a good
general, and unquestionably held some strong positions; but it is
now quite evident that a better general was in his rear.



  Confidence in our leader--Tunnel Hill and Rocky Face
  Mountain--Pursuit of the enemy--Johnston's strategy--In
  command of my regiment--Battle near Dallas--Night on the
  battle-field--Loss of an officer--Reflections.

With some slight reverses our march up to this time was that of
a victorious army, and the temporary checks we had met with only
served to make us more vigilant for the future. We had the utmost
confidence in our leader, which was justified by almost daily
successes; while that of the rebels in their chief was daily
becoming weaker, in consequence of his failing to make good his
promises by a successful stand. And, indeed, when we gained the
works which he time after time abandoned, we could not but wonder
at the policy which led to the abandonment of works and positions
which we felt we could have held against any army that could have
been brought against us. In our southward march we were able to
understand how it was that the first Napoleon was able to lead
an army across the hitherto impassable Alps--it was by infusing
into every soldier his own inflexible purpose; the same power is
possessed in a high degree by Gen. Sherman; his soldiers think
themselves able to execute whatever he commands.

We began our march with the cry, "On to Atlanta! Tunnel Hill and
Rocky Face Mountain, deemed impregnable, are already ours! Resaca
has fallen into our hands; and there are no difficulties to be
surmounted greater than those we have already overcome. Cheer up,
cheer up, boys! Atlanta shall soon be ours!"

With such feelings as those just expressed, on the morning of the
17th our army moved on in its conquering march, the men all in
fine spirits, and confident of victory whenever the enemy would
hazard a general engagement. We passed through Calhoun at eleven,
A. M.--skirmishing began about three in the afternoon. We drove
the enemy steadily as far as Adairsville, where they had a strong
line of works. We began to throw up intrenchments to protect us
during the night; the rebels began to shell us furiously while
thus engaged; but failing to get the proper range, they did us no
harm--our boys laughing gleefully and working zealously as the
missiles went shrieking over their heads. We expected hot work in
the morning; but when we awoke all was quiet, and we soon made
the discovery that the enemy had departed during the night. Our
lines were advanced; we entered Adairsville without opposition,
and halted there for a few hours--moved forward again five or six
miles, and went into camp for the night.

At seven o'clock the next morning we resumed our march, and reached
Kingston at ten, A. M., where we rested an hour or two--the enemy
still retreating, hotly pursued, however, by our advance, which had
constant skirmishing with their rear-guard.

About one o'clock the enemy made a stand, and our artillery opened
upon their line of battle, which was drawn up, apparently in force,
in an open field. Our own lines being completed, we advanced upon
them and took some prisoners, and drove them till night brought
an end to our operations, having during the day driven them past
Cassville, and compelled them to take refuge within a strong line
of works, where it was reported that they intended to make a final
stand. This intelligence was received with great satisfaction by
our boys, who began to think that the enemy's strategy was to tire
them to death by running after them, and many of them preferred
fighting to marching. The Sixth Kentucky was thrown forward into
the advance line, where they erected temporary works and spent
the night on picket, expecting a battle with the coming light.
Day came, but no battle; for, somewhat to our astonishment, after
the reports we had heard, Mr. Johnston, as our boys termed the
rebel chief, had again executed a night movement, for which he had
already become famous--and will you believe it, reader, many were
greatly disappointed because there was to be no fighting that day?
We remained here two days to rest and replenish our haversacks,
as rations had been brought up for a further advance. Our boys
enjoyed the rest greatly--especially as they had begun to regard
the campaign as a race rather than a conflict, and many were the
jests at the expense of our fleet-footed foe, and a general, whose
drummer-boys could not say, like the Scotch bagpiper, when asked to
play a retreat, "that he had never learned to play _that_."

Up to this time my company had been acting as Provost Guard at
head-quarters, in accordance with the expressed wish of Gen.
Hazen; but in consequence of some changes in the regiment, I was
sent back to it, with my company, and placed in command; and as
this was by order of my brigade commander, Gen. Hazen, under whose
eye I had been so long, I could not but esteem it as a great honor;
and if I had any ambition to gain the praise of the good and the
brave, it most certainly was gratified by an official paper, from
which the following is an extract: "Capt. Johnston has always
performed duty efficiently; has been in all the battles of the army
till captured at Chickamauga; he was shot through and left for dead
at Shiloh. He was, with one exception, the most active officer
in preparing for, and effecting the escape of a large number of
officers recently from Libby Prison." These, and other words still
more complimentary, were signed, "W. B. Hazen, Brig.-Gen.;" and it
would be affectation in me to say that I was not gratified by the
approval of this noble gentleman and good soldier.

Previous to the commencement of the campaign Gen. Hazen had
consolidated his brigade into four battalions, each composed of
two regiments--each of which, when on the march and in battle,
was commanded by the senior officer of the two regiments. The
Twenty-Third Kentucky and the Sixth Kentucky were together, and
commanded by Lieut.-Col. Foy. Being now in command of the regiment,
I shall not attempt the task of giving a full history of the
operations of the army during the remainder of the campaign; but
content myself with those matters which came under my own eye, in
which my own command was concerned.

In obedience to orders, on the 23d of May we broke up our camp
before Cassville, and resumed our march southward. The day was very
warm, the marching heavy, and we were glad to go into camp, about
nine o'clock at night, in a most beautiful country, about five
miles south of the Etowah River. Next morning we moved forward and
reached the Allatoona Mountains at midday. We rested long enough
to make our coffee, then ascended the mountains and camped on the
top. Heavy rains fell during the night; the Sixth Kentucky went on
picket, and was not relieved till eleven o'clock the next day, at
which time the _assembly_ was sounded, and the column, on account
of the bad roads, moved slowly forward till about six o'clock in
the evening, when the sound of cannon was heard, denoting that
there was fighting ahead. Our march during the day, though slow,
was a pleasant one; the rain of the previous night had cooled
the air, the scenery was varied and romantic, and little met our
eyes that was suggestive of the terrible ravages of war. But our
thoughts were soon diverted from the quiet beauty of the woods and
the majestic grandeur of the mountains, by the dread sounds of
distant battle. The sounds came from Hooker's Corps, which was in
the advance of the flanking movement; and from the cool and tried
valor of its veterans, we were prepared to hear of a desperate
struggle and fearful carnage. It was even so; this army corps,
on its way to Dallas, was met by the enemy in force, and a heavy
battle ensued. Hooker suffered greatly; but the steady valor of
his men enabled him to hold the field. Our column had orders to
push forward; and, through rain and mud, on we pressed till near
midnight, meeting on our march sad evidences of the fight--the
ambulance and wagon trains, filled with wounded, on their way to
the rear, from which, ever and anon, came cries of pain and agony
that could not be repressed. We were wet and weary when we received
orders to halt, and we lay down in our wet clothing and slept the
remainder of the night upon the battle-field, amid the dead and the
dying who had fallen in the evening's conflict; yet the thought,
I doubt not, passed through many a mind ere slumber came--may I
not to-morrow night be like many of those around me who sleep
that sleep which knows no waking? Soldiers are generally gay and
thoughtless, even in the midst of danger; but they have also their
serious moments, and the lightest heart feels sad in the solemn
night on the battle-field thickly bestrewn with the dead.

At four in the morning we rose, expecting a hard day's work; for
picket firing was kept up all night, and increased after daylight.
At seven o'clock we were in line of battle--the Sixth Kentucky in
front. Companies D and F were thrown forward as skirmishers, while
the rest of the regiment was building breast-works, and while thus
engaged suffered considerably from the enemy's sharp-shooters.
Selecting a number of the best shots in my command, I assigned
them the task of silencing them, which was soon accomplished.
At one o'clock the whole regiment advanced, driving the enemy's
skirmishers within their works, and established our own lines in
close rifle range of them, and during the night, by dint of hard
labor, we intrenched ourselves securely. During the evening,
while on the skirmish line, and occupying the extreme left, we
were threatened by the rebel cavalry, against which I sent a few
men under the charge of a lieutenant, and dispatched a messenger
to Gen. Hazen, notifying him of my condition. On his way back the
messenger was wounded by a rebel sharp-shooter, and was taken to
the rear; but the message he was bearing was brought to me--it was,
that Gen. Schofield's command would soon join me on the left, and
that I must hold my advanced position till he made his appearance,
which I did till near sundown, when the Twenty-Third Corps came up,
and my weary flankers were relieved.

Early on the morning of the 27th the regiment was relieved from
duty on the front line, and moved back a short distance to rest,
which was greatly needed; and while preparing some coffee, a man
belonging to the battery was wounded. Lieut. William Furr, myself,
and two others, were placing the wounded man in a litter, and
while thus engaged Lieut. Furr received a wound which in a few
days proved fatal. He was a brave man and good officer, and his
loss was much regretted. Such incidents are the frequent and sad
episodes in a soldier's life, and make an impression deep and
lasting--the very dangers and toils through which they pass bind
them together with a power only understood by those who have been
partakers of this fellowship of suffering. The soldier often seems
gay and light-hearted in immediate prospect of a battle; and I have
seen a regiment express as much joy when the loud guns announced
the approach of a fierce conflict, as school-boys would at an
unexpected vacation; and yet those same men will at other times
be as tender and tearful as women. When they look down the lines,
thinned in many a battle; or, by the nightly camp-fire, talk of
comrades gone; or wrap in his overcoat or blanket the remains of
one who has borne with them the fatigues of the march or the perils
of the fight, and make his grave in a land of strangers, the bosom
heaves, the tears fall, and every look and tone proclaims that
under the soldier's garb a true human heart is beating still.



  Reminder to the reader--Sherman, Howard, and Thomas in
  council--The attack and repulse--The Sixth Kentucky in front
  again--In the trenches--Guarding train--Forward march.

I must remind the reader that I did not set out with the intention
of giving a history of the grand campaign in which I took a
humble part--a task of such magnitude and responsibility must be
reserved for the future historian of one of the greatest and most
complicated struggles that the world has witnessed. Indeed, the
thoughtful reader, a thousand miles from the scene of strife, may
have a better conception of a great battle than many of those
engaged in it. The former, by the aid of maps, and the accounts
given by various writers who beheld the different parts of the
great struggle, may get a good general idea of it as a whole; while
he who takes part in it, of necessity, sees only that portion
of the battle in which he is engaged--and that generally is but
a small part. Moreover, he is prone to judge of the result by
the success, or suffering, of the regiment or brigade with which
he is connected; while all are aware that a portion of an army
may meet with great disaster, and yet the general result may be
most glorious; but glorious it certainly does not seem to that
portion of the army which has suffered most severely, although its
suffering may have been the salvation of the rest. For instance,
the celebrated charge made by Marshal Macdonald against the
Austrian center at Wagram; although it turned the day in favor of
the French army, yet it was most disastrous to the charging column,
which is said to have lost in the proportion of ten out of every
eleven men who composed it, not having as many hundreds in its
ranks when the task was achieved as it had thousands when the word
to charge was given. Thus, in some of the battles of this campaign,
a brigade, and even a division, at times suffers terribly, and yet
the battle was not lost, and the enterprise, as a whole, was a
splendid success.

This view of affairs is absolutely necessary with regard to some
matters in the present chapter which it is necessary to mention,
as I am not attempting a general view of the campaign, but the
part played in it by the brigade to which I was attached, and more
particularly by my own regiment; and while not writing a history, I
am preparing materials to be used by others in framing a full and
perfect account of this truly-wonderful march. I write chiefly from
what came under my own notice--those who were in other scenes than
those in which I took part will do the same; and the truth must be
gathered, not from any one account, taken separately, but from
all the accounts in the aggregate. If, then, I speak of a success,
do not think it was one achieved by the whole army; if I mention a
disaster, let no one think that I regard the whole army as involved
in it; for seldom has an expedition of like proportions met fewer
reverses, or more glorious success.

About seven o'clock, on the morning of the 27th of May, a group of
officers were assembled in front of the Sixth Kentucky, engaged in
deep and earnest conversation. Although we could not hear their
words, their looks and manners indicated that matters of grave
import were occupying their attention. One of the group, though
his garb indicated no great rank, had the look of one born to
command; his face lighted up with unmistakable tokens of genius
as he spoke, and his words seemed most convincing. Another had a
calm, quiet face, with a look that showed great goodness of heart;
yet he was evidently a good soldier, as his empty sleeve showed
that he had lost an arm in defense of his country's flag. A third
was a plain, unpretending-looking personage; yet the lines of
determination upon his rugged face showed there was, under that
quiet exterior, an invincible will. They were in the order I have
described them--Sherman, one of the greatest military geniuses of
the age; Howard, the man without fear and without reproach; and
Thomas, who stood up so stoutly at Chickamauga, and many other
well-fought fields. These, with other general officers, were
planning the operations of the day; and having decided upon the
course to be pursued, the interview ended, and each one returned to
his respective command.

I was informed by a member of Gen. Howard's staff that we might
look for hot work, as a general advance would soon be made upon
the rebel works. Our brigade was immediately moved about a mile to
the left, and formed in two lines of battle--the Sixth Kentucky
forming the extreme left of the rear line. At ten o'clock the
advance was sounded. With the belief that we should engage the
enemy at once, my orders were to support the regiment before me in
the front line of battle. Our lines advanced slowly, and we had
not gone far before skirmishing began. But instead of a general
engagement, as was expected, it seemed more like a brigade drill;
for, as we passed over the broken country which was the scene of
operations, every movement was preceded and indicated by Willich's
brigade bugles, which must have intimated to the enemy what we were
about. It was soon whispered that we were searching for the enemy's
right flank. About three o'clock we reached what was thought to be
the desired point; here the column halted till Johnson's Division
moved up and formed in our rear, making four lines of battle. When
we first came up we found a picket-post of the enemy established
at that point, which was fired upon by our advance and driven
back, and no enemy was now in view. The "attention" was sounded,
all were ready in line of battle, and in a moment more the order
"double-quick" rang out. All moved forward; the front line changed
direction to the right, while the second line moved forward, which
soon brought it into the front line of battle--the Sixth Kentucky
being on the extreme left, and in the second line of battle,
with orders to support the front line--which orders had not been
countermanded. I had not been informed that the front line had
been changed; nor could I see, on account of the dense thickets
through which we were moving, that the change had been made; and
the first thing that apprised me of the change was passing over the
skirmish line amid a perfect storm of rebel bullets, and finding
myself and command in the front line of battle. On we pressed till
we came to an open field, on the opposite side of which the rebels
were strongly posted. The right of our brigade was to cross this
field, while part of the Twenty-Third Kentucky, and the right wing
of the Sixth Kentucky was formed diagonally across it, and the
left wing of the Sixth was formed front to rear to meet a flanking
column of the enemy that was moving to our rear. This movement on
the part of the enemy would have been successful had I not at that
moment formed my left wing so as to return the flanking fire he was
already pouring into us. The battle now raged furiously along our
line, and, under a murderous fire, the rebels were pressed back to
their works, our troops following, in some instances, to within
fifteen or twenty paces of the intrenchments; but exposed as they
were in an open field to the deadly volleys of a protected foe, and
a fierce fire upon the flanks--shattered, torn, and bleeding, yet
in spirit unconquered, they fell back to the shelter of the woods.
Taking a position there, the battle was renewed, and an attempt was
made on the part of the enemy to dislodge them, but the failure was
most signal. Some idea of the dreadful carnage may be formed from
the fact, that in a space of time nearly as brief as it has taken
to pen these few lines, our division lost nearly fifteen hundred
men. Our division went into the fight alone, and was not supported
by the division formed in its rear. After reaching the point of
attack the fight was put off two hours; and when it began the enemy
had time to mass three divisions against one of ours. I am of the
opinion that had the attack been made at once the day would have
been ours.

Great as was our loss, it proved but a barren victory to the enemy.
We were repulsed, it is true, and many of our brave men sealed
their devotion to their country with their blood. The enemy also
lost heavily, and their success was due to their greatly-superior
numbers; and whatever advantage they gained that day, it was not
sufficient to check the advance of our army; for they were soon
again on the retreat, and our army on the march to victory.

But I must return to my own command. After our repulse I was at
the extreme left with a few men who were still firing, when Lieut.
Clark, Acting Adjutant, came up and told me that the brigade had
been relieved, and was now assembling at the place where the charge
began. I knew nothing of its withdrawal, and replied that he must
certainly be mistaken. He said there was no mistake about it, that
all the brigade colors were at the place he had mentioned--that
we were relieved beyond a doubt. Still uncertain, I asked, "Where
are the troops to relieve us? I don't see them; but if relieved I
will go down to the left, where I have some men placed; and after
relieving them will go back." Lieut. Clark, who is a brave young
officer, went with me, and told them to go back, as our brigade had
gone to the rear; and on our way we passed the relief, which was
lying down, and had not come to our relief at all--a mere handful
of us had remained on the field, and the wonder is that we were not
captured to a man.

When we reached the brigade we found it formed and ready to march
to the rear, with Gen. Hazen at its head; but O, how changed! In a
few hours it was so cut down as to be not larger than a regiment.
We were moved down to Pumpkin Vine Creek; but were not suffered to
remain there long, being ordered to the front, and to the right of
where the battle had taken place; and though we had been engaged in
skirmish duty nearly two days before the battle, we took our place
in the front, and began building works within rifle range of the
enemy's lines.

At this point we remained till the 6th of June, during which time
nothing took place of interest, save the usual picket duty, of
which our regiment did its full share. Our position, however, was
very unpleasant on account of the heavy rains which fell, and being
compelled to lay close in our trenches to shelter ourselves from
the rebel sharp-shooters, who were always on the alert.

On the night of the 5th of June the rebels evacuated their works in
front of us, Gen. Sherman having executed another flank movement
which rendered it necessary for them to retreat. By sunrise the
next morning we advanced again over roads rendered very bad by
the recent rains, and on the next day were detailed, with the
Twenty-Third Kentucky, to Carterville, to guard a train down to the
army. We were absent till the morning of the 10th, having marched
all the previous night in order to get the supplies through as soon
as possible. When we reached camp we found the army ready to march;
but it was delayed till two, P. M. We then moved forward about
three miles, and halted for the night.



  Pine Mountain, and death of Gen. Polk--Georgia scenery--Before
  Kenesaw--The unreturning brave--Marietta ours--Across the

On the morning of the eleventh all was quiet. At an early hour we
advanced one mile, and formed in line of battle in front of the
enemy; and no demonstration having been made against us, we were
withdrawn at night, and went into camp till the 14th, during which
time nothing of interest took place, save the arrival of the cars
at Big Shanty with rations; and it made all feel better to know
that we were not expected to march and fight upon empty stomachs.

At noon on the 14th our division struck camp and marched to the
left three miles, formed our line of battle, and remained there
till the next day. Some skirmishing took place in front of Pine
Mountain, on which the rebel Gen. Polk was killed on the evening of
the 14th. He was one of the Bishops of the Episcopal Church before
the war, and possessed great influence in the South. In the army he
had attained the rank of Lieutenant-General, and was esteemed an
able officer. In company with some other commanders he had taken a
position on the mountain to observe our movements, when one of our
batteries opened upon them; they withdrew for a time, but curiosity
drew them back; and while engaged in conversation with his
companions, a shell struck him on the left arm, and passed through
his chest; of course he was killed instantly. These particulars
were obtained from a rebel officer who fell into our hands a few
days after.

On the 17th I ascended the mountain, the enemy having evacuated it,
and visited the spot where he fell. While there I had a fine view
of Lost and Kenesaw Mountains; and when I looked at their steep
sides from which their batteries were belching shot and shell,
it really seemed madness to think of attempting to make them our
own. Others might have looked at them with the eye of a tourist;
but I looked at them with reference to the difficulties which they
presented to our advance. Viewed as mere scenery, they present a
grand and imposing spectacle; but I thought of Tunnel Hill and
Rocky Face, and the struggle they had cost us, and then thought of
the lives that must be sacrificed before those embattled hights
which frowned before me could be ours. Mountains are beautiful,
sublime, and all that; to ascend them with pleasant company and
in delightful weather, and gaze from the summit at the lovely
landscape below, is full of delight; but we soldiers think of the
sheets of flame and the storm of bullets through which we must
press our way before those summits, standing out so boldly in the
sunlight, can be gained.

On the 17th we advanced over two lines of rebel works which were
evacuated the previous night; but soon were compelled to form in
line of battle, having come up with the enemy's pickets in front of
their strong fortifications--the Sixth Kentucky in the front line
as usual. We advanced slowly till night, driving the skirmishers
into their works, and advancing our own lines within close range
of the enemy's rifle pits, and spent most of the night in throwing
up works to protect ourselves, our position being quite an exposed
one in an open field. Next morning the rain began to fall, and
continued without intermission during the day; this, however,
did not prevent constant skirmishing and cannonading. About two
o'clock the enemy opened a battery which enfiladed our line of
works, rendering our position rather a warm one, notwithstanding
the drenching rain to which we were exposed. We remained here till
sundown, and were relieved only to take a position still further
to the front, where we had to build another line of works during
the night, in an open field, within close range of the rebel
sharp-shooters. I do not remember ever having known as much rain
to fall in a single day as on the preceding one; we had been two
days in the front line without being relieved, and were obliged
to cut green corn and weeds to keep us out of the mud and water
of the trenches, when we lay down for a few moments' rest. Early
next morning our skirmishers were thrown forward, who soon returned
and reported that the enemy had left during the night; a number of
deserters came into our lines during the day, and we also captured
a number of prisoners.

The enemy were driven that day to their works at the foot of
Kenesaw Mountain, and troops were in motion, and cannonading kept
up all night. In the morning the Sixth Kentucky was relieved from
picket, and formed in the front line, working at the intrenchments
till two o'clock, P. M., having been on picket duty the
twenty-four hours previous; and then, wearied as we were with labor
on the breast-works, were ordered into the front line of battle.
All this, however, was done cheerfully, and the rebels were driven
into their rifle pits, and our line of battle established within
six hundred yards of their works. Here we fortified ourselves
and remained till the second of July, when Kenesaw Mountain was

During all that time we had fighting, more or less, every day; our
picket lines were within seventy-five yards of the enemy's, and it
was dangerous for a man on either side to show his head above the
works. Our regiment was on picket every other day, as was every
regiment in our brigade--our lines being weakened to enable Gen.
Sherman to feel the enemy's flanks.

On the 23d of June Companies H and K were on picket, when it
was ordered to make a demonstration in our front; the line was
to advance at five. P. M., supported by the Ninety-Third Ohio
Volunteer Infantry. In obedience to orders the advance was made.
Capt. Owen was in command of the picket; but before they moved I
was ordered to send another officer to his assistance, and sent
Capt. Nierhoff. Our boys had scarcely got from behind their works
when the enemy opened a galling fire upon them; they advanced the
line, however, to the rifle pits, but with the loss of fifteen
men out of the thirty-five that were engaged--among the killed
was Capt. Nierhoff. Company H had four killed and eight wounded;
Company K had two wounded; the Ninety-Third Ohio lost forty-three
in killed and wounded. We held the position which we had gained at
such a sacrifice till dark, when our lines were withdrawn to their
original position. The bravery of the men was put to a severe test
by this movement; but it was, beyond doubt, ill-advised, as every
man knew that we were in full range of the rebels' main line of

Several fierce contests took place while we were in front of
Kenesaw Mountain--one of the bloodiest of which took place on our
left, the sad and sickening traces of which remained till the enemy
retreated. On the night that the enemy evacuated their stronghold,
our brigade was ordered to relieve some troops on our left, and my
regiment was placed in the front line, so close to the enemy that
each party did picket duty from the main line of their respective
works, which were not more than one hundred yards apart. Across
this narrow space two charges had been made--one by the rebels, the
other by our men, in each case with severe loss to the charging
column; and the intervening space was now, several days after the
battle, thickly strewn with the swollen, disfigured, and putrefying
bodies of the gallant dead upon the very spot where they fell--blue
jackets and gray all intermingled, all silent and peaceful in their
last sleep, presenting the saddest spectacle I had witnessed amid
all the dreadful scenes of the war. The carnage must have been
terrible; but the gray uniforms far outnumbered the blue on that
sad field of the slain. The reason why they were left unburied is
said to have been the refusal of the rebel officer commanding that
part of the line to receive a flag of truce--such a wretch deserves
neither a soldier's grave nor a soldier's tear.

On the 3d of July the army moved in pursuit of the retreating foe;
and after marching ten miles went into camp near the railroad south
of Marietta. All was quiet for the first time for two weeks. The
evacuation of Kenesaw threw Marietta into our hands, which was
occupied immediately as a depot for supplies, and for the use of
our sick and wounded. This is said to be one of the most beautiful
of Southern cities, the town being well built, and the suburbs
adorned with dwellings eminently suggestive of comfort within,
and they certainly are outwardly beautiful. The Georgia Military
Institute occupies a beautiful and commanding situation south of
the town, and the inhabitants are a much superior class of people
to any we had as yet met with in our march through the State.

The scenery in the vicinity possesses the great charm of
variety--lovely valleys and mountains sublime--Kenesaw, Altoona,
and Lost Mountains being all in full view. Before the war this was
quite a manufacturing point. Churches and school-houses are more
abundant than in most portions of the South through which I have
passed, and I am convinced there are also not a few Union men.

On the morning of the 4th of July our brigade moved a mile to the
left, the enemy being near at hand. Line of battle was formed, with
the Sixth in the front line; fighting all day, the foe before us
in force and strongly fortified. We held our position till next
morning, when it was ascertained that Sherman had again succeeded
in his favorite flank movement, and the enemy was again forced to
leave his strong-holds and fall back, this time over Chattahoochee
River, into the first lines of his strong works for the defense
of Atlanta--only eight miles distant. The pursuit then began--my
regiment in the advance. During the day we came up with their
rear-guard, had some fighting, and captured some prisoners, and
reached the river in time to prevent the rebels from destroying
the bridge over which they crossed near Vining's Station. After
a little fighting, with the river between us, we were ordered to
fall back and pitch our camp. We remained there till the 10th,
our pickets on the north bank and the rebel pickets on the south.
Here we stopped five days; our batteries were located at the best
points, and the most furious cannonade that I had yet heard was
kept up both day and night. The sharp-shooters, too, were busy; nor
did the rebels permit us to do all the shooting with the big guns;
but planting their batteries, they fired with great precision--at
one time obtaining such a good range on the camp of the Sixth
Kentucky as to wound several of my men. At some points on the river
some of our boys and the "rebs" would get up an armistice, and gray
jackets and blue jackets would meet and mingle in the greatest
harmony, and in an hour or two would be pouring a deadly fire into
each other's ranks.

Our next move was to the left, and up the river, to effect a
crossing. We marched seven miles, and went into camp. The next day
we were ordered to cross; but when we reached the river we found
the bridge was not completed, which delayed us several hours. We
got over at length, marched about a mile and a half, and went into
camp. Next morning we changed our position, moving forward, and to
the right, upon an elevated point, upon which we soon erected a
strong line of works, behind which we lay till the 17th, when the
Third Division of the Fourth Army Corps was ordered to move down
the south side of the Chattahoochee as far as Vining's Station,
to dislodge the enemy, who was then in front of the Fourteenth
Corps, and hold the crossing till the pontoons were laid and the
army across. This we accomplished without the loss of a man, and
succeeded also in capturing some prisoners; and having finished our
work, returned the same night to our camp.



  Intrenching all night--Gallant exploit of the First and Third
  Brigades--Atlanta in view--In the trenches before the city--The
  Sixth Kentucky ordered to Tennessee--Turning over my command--A
  parting word.

Early on the morning of the 18th marching orders were received,
and at eight o'clock, A. M., our brigade moved forward over a
rough road, our advance constantly engaged with the pickets of
the enemy, who retired before them. On reaching the Cross Roads
we effected a junction with Hooker's Corps, and formed in line of
battle, the rebels being in force in our front. We went to work
and threw up intrenchments; but the position assigned to the Sixth
Kentucky did not suit the commanding officer, and we were obliged
to advance and erect another line of works, which occupied us most
of the night. This is a kind of work under which soldiers often
become restive; and, indeed, it is far from agreeable, after a hard
day's marching and fighting, to find, after some hours of toil in
throwing up works, that the line has been improperly located, that
a new one must be chosen, and the balance of the night spent in
work that might have been avoided by a little care in the selection
of the position. When the second line also fails to please, as
is sometimes the case, the remarks of the soldiers are not very
complimentary to the skill and military sagacity of the officer
whose blunder has cost them so much labor and loss of necessary
sleep; and the wish is often expressed that Gen. ---- had the
selection of the position, as his eye never fails to see the proper
place at the first glance.

On the morning of the 19th our brigade moved to Peach Tree
Creek, in support of the First and Third Brigades, while they
attempted to cross the stream. This they did handsomely in the
face of a heavy fire, forcing the enemy to abandon a strong
line of works--possessing them so hastily as to capture a
lieutenant-colonel, several line officers, and nearly an entire
regiment in the trenches. This, in high military circles, is
regarded as one of the most brilliant achievements of the campaign,
and reflects the highest credit on the noble men by whom it was

While the First and Third Brigades were engaged in converting the
rebel works just gained by their valor into Federal defenses, our
brigade, under Gen. Hazen, was employed in constructing two bridges
for the artillery and wagons to cross upon. After dark we passed
over and relieved the troops in the front line, after a hard and
exciting day's work, which was attended, however, with but little
loss. On the next day our division was relieved from this portion
of the line by Newton's Division, of the Fourth Army Corps, and
moved some ten miles to the left, on the north side of Peach Tree
Creek, and, for the first time in a long while, enjoyed the luxury
of a quiet night's rest--there being troops in our front, which
relieved us of any fears of a night attack.

On the 21st we advanced to Peach Tree Creek, built a bridge and
crossed, soon after which we came up with the enemy strongly
intrenched. Our column halted, formed line of battle, and began
throwing up defenses in front. This, however, was done under a
sharp fire, and before our works were completed several men of
my now greatly-reduced regiment fell. We occupied this position
till the next day, when we found the enemy had decamped, Sherman
having rendered such a movement on their part a necessity. Gen.
Wood ordered us to advance at once, adding that we must throw out
a strong line of skirmishers, move on, and stop for nothing till
we had reached Atlanta; and had we been able to carry his order
out, we should have been ere nightfall possessors of the Gate
City. There was one difficulty in the way, however--the enemy was
unwilling that we should do so, and had only left one line of
works to occupy another stronger one, behind which they thought
themselves more secure from the encroaching Yankees. I was ordered
to move the Sixth forward as skirmishers, and did so till we came
upon the enemy strongly intrenched, and established our picket line
in close rifle range of the enemy. This position I held till our
battle line advanced, during which time the rebels gave my line a
most terrific shelling; but this was no novelty to the brave boys
of the Sixth; they swerved not for a moment, and before the sun
went down the line of our brigade was strongly intrenched, our
batteries in position, and hurling their deadly volleys upon the
lines of the foe, and upon Atlanta itself.

Now, for the first time since the campaign began, the Sixth
Kentucky was permitted to rest for a season. Our boys dug pits in
the ground to protect themselves from the shells and minie balls
which the enemy distributed profusely, waiting anxiously for the
fall of the city which had been the object of so much labor and
suffering, but which seemed to be in our grasp at last. Here we
remained, with but little change in our position, and that an
advanced one, for over three weeks; and yet, as the fox-hunters
say, we were not in at the death; for, on the 21st of August, I
received orders to report the regiment to Gen. Rosseau, at Decherd,
Tenn., having been transferred from the Fourth Army Corps to the

During the time we were in front of Atlanta, we were almost
constantly under the enemy's fire, both musketry and artillery.
Our lines were in an open field, while those of the rebels were in
the timber on the opposite side, the pickets from each side being
advanced into the open field, and at close range, especially after
we had driven them from their first line of forts and occupied them

Though enjoying comparative rest when contrasted with our toils
on the march, we were by no means idle; we were engaged in picket
duty, in building and strengthening our defenses, skirmishing, and
making demonstrations against the enemy; and toward the close of
our stay, when our works were completed, we drilled twice a day in
an open field, within range of rebel sharp-shooters.

In obedience to General Orders of the War Department, I made
application for Companies A, B, and C to return to the rear
preparatory to being mustered out of service, as the regiment will
have served three years on the 1st of October--and that, too,
in the front, from Shiloh to the Gate City of the sunny South;
but, for want of being mustered at the proper time, they will
have to serve till the 23d of December, 1864. I requested that
the remaining seven companies should be sent to Eminence, Ky.,
where they were partly organized, to watch after the notorious
rebel Jessee, and his gang. This, however, was not granted; but,
as already stated, we were transferred to the Twentieth Army
Corps, to report at Decherd, Tenn. On the 23d of August we reached
Chattanooga, and I turned over the command to an officer who
certainly did not owe his place in the regiment to his faithful
discharge of duty; for he knew little, practically, of the dangers
through which it had passed, not being with it in the campaign
in which it had played so distinguished a part. The regiment was
drawn up in line, and I returned thanks to officers and men for the
faithful discharge of their duty in the campaign against Atlanta,
and referred to the imperishable record they had made. Cheers arose
all along the line; scarcely a man in the regiment was silent; and
never shall I forget this warm expression of their confidence and
regard. To my own company, in particular, I feel deeply indebted;
to them I owe the position I occupied through the most remarkable
campaign of the war; and with them I shall remain, if life be
spared, till we reach home again. The day for our return is not
far distant; but O, how few of those who started with me, nearly
three years ago, will return! Many parents will weep over sons,
and wives over husbands, who will return no more; but they died
in a holy cause, and have left a name which those who mourn their
loss may cherish with pride. During the campaign against Atlanta
alone the regiment lost, in killed and wounded, fifty-eight out of
one hundred and forty who were engaged; and when mustered out the
ranks will be thin, the numbers few. Not many regiments have seen
harder service than ours--none have borne themselves more nobly;
and I cherish the thought that my little book may be useful to the
historian of the war in Georgia and Tennessee, as the record of the
doings of the noble Sixth Kentucky.

I regret my inability to give a full list of the losses sustained
by the regiment; a few names, however, which now occur I will
mention. Lieut.-Col. Cotton was killed at the battle of Stone
River, on the 30th of December, 1862. Adjutant Middleton died in
the hospital--an accomplished Christian gentleman, and soldier
brave and true. Orderly-Sergeant W. H. Harper was badly wounded at
Chickamauga; and among the killed of my company were Sergeant G. W.
Lindsey, James Downs, and John H. Hall. On the 24th of December my
time, and that of my company, will expire; and I trust, ere that
day dawns, that bright-winged, dove-eyed peace, with the olive
twig just plucked off, will return. But if this may not be, I
shall not feel that I am discharged from further duty. The feeble
efforts I have made in my country's cause have been made freely; I
regret not the wounds I have received, or the cruel imprisonment I
have endured; and if peace, an honorable peace, be not obtained,
I am willing to pass through yet greater perils that my country
may triumph. That triumph will come at last, I can not doubt; the
justice of our cause and the spirit of our soldiers assures me of
this. We have met with defeat and disaster on some occasions, it
is true; yet our cause has ever been advancing. We have had many
cases of individual suffering, and yet those who have suffered
most have never despaired. Amid the privation and starvation of
Libby Prison I never found any who regretted the part they had
taken in this struggle, or who for a moment doubted the glorious
result. As Paul and Silas sang praises at midnight in the recesses
of the Philippian jail, so did they nobly bear all they suffered,
sustained by the firm conviction that the cause in which they had
periled all was a just one, and would prevail at last.

And now, reader, we must part; and if I have awakened in your
breast a stronger sympathy for the soldier in the field, and the
captive in prison, we have not met in vain. Should peace speedily
come, you may conclude that I have turned the sword into the
plowshare; but if the war must go on, you may safely conclude that
I am a soldier for the Union still.


  Italic text is denoted by _underscores_.

  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,
  worn out, worn-out; inclosed; reënforced; intrenched; hights; tyros.

  Pg 7, 'Across the Chattahooche' replaced by 'Across the Chattahoochee'.
  Pg 88, 'all the route' replaced by 'all along the route'.

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