A History of the Trials and Hard-
ships of the Twenty-Fourth
Indianapolis Printing Co.
RICHARD J. FULFER
This history is based on my pocket memorandum which I kept during the late Civil War, 1861-1865.
Richard J. Fulfer.
COLONEL ALVIN P. HOVEY
CORPS COMMANDERS OF OUR REGIMENT.
U. S. Grant.
N. P. Banks.
E. S. Canby.
W. T. Sherman.
A. P. Hovey.
E. O. C. Ord.
C. C. Andrews.
Colonel A. P. Hovey.
Lieutenant Colonel Gurber.
Major C. C. Hines.
Colonel William T. Spicely.
Lieutenant Colonel R. F. Barter.
Major John F. Grill.
GENERAL ULYSSES S. GRANT
OFFICERS OF COMPANY A.
First Lieutenant—George Sheaks.
Second Lieutenant—H. F. Braxton (resigned). J. L. Cain.
First Sergeant—Richard F. Cleveland. (Non-commissioned.)
Second Sergeant—John East. (Non-commissioned.)
Third Sergeant—Francis M. Jolley. (Non-commissioned.)
Fourth Sergeant—Henry B. East. (Non-commissioned.)
Fifth Sergeant—Van B. Kelley. (Non-commissioned.)
First Corporal—Josiah Botkin. (Non-commissioned.)
Second Corporal—Chas. H. Dunnihue. (Non-commissioned.)
Third Corporal—J. N. Wright. (Non-commissioned.)
Fourth Corporal—John Edwards. (Non-commissioned.)
Fifth Corporal—George F. Otta. (Non-commissioned.)
Sixth Corporal—William Erwin. (Non-commissioned.)
Seventh Corporal—King A. Trainer. (Non-commissioned.)
Eighth Corporal—Jasper N. Maiden. (Non-commissioned.)
Musician—James S. Cole.
Hospital Steward—Robert J. Mills.
Sergeant Major—George A. Barnes.
The Twenty-fourth Indiana regiment was one of the first called for as three years’ volunteers. We were enrolled on the 9th day of July, 1861, to serve for three years, if not sooner discharged. We were mustered into service July 31st, 1861, at Camp Knox, which is near Vincennes, Indiana.
Our first camp life after being enrolled was a new mode of living and sport. Some of the boys had never been very far from our homes, and were not posted in the pranks and tricks of the times, even in those early days.
We soon drew a few old Harper’s Ferry muskets. We had a string guard around the camp. Company drill was held four hours each day. This was the only amusement which we had in the daytime, but at night we had magicians, sleight of hand performers, and others who made amusement for some of us who had never seen many shows. The tall man and elephant also paraded through the quarters at night, and this furnished a great deal of amusement for us.
We got our uniforms August 7th. They were gray and were about as appropriate as our old Harper’s Ferry muskets. The guards soon beat the stocks off of the muskets and bent the ends of the barrels. These they used as canes.
Getting used to camp life was quite a change for some of us who had been raised up on corn bread, hominy and buttermilk. There was also a change in the bill of fare. We now had hard tack, sow belly, and black coffee. There were many other changes of life which must be made to make us a happy, united family.
The weather was very warm at this time, and we soon began to think that army life was no soft snap.
On the 16th of August we again drew arms. These were new Harper’s Ferry muskets. Six Enfield rifles were allowed to each company.
On the next day we marched through the city of Vincennes on review. All was a hurry and excitement, as the troops were being sent to the front on that day.
We got marching orders on the 18th, and we got on board a train bound for East St. Louis, Ill. We arrived there on the morning of the 19th. We crossed the Mississippi river on the steamer “Alton City,” marched two and a half miles through the city of St. Louis, Mo., and went into camp in the Lafayette Park. Here were the first tents we ever pitched, and all the boys wanted to learn how.
Lafayette Park is a beautiful park. It contains many fine animals. There were many of our boys who had never seen such sights as the city of St. Louis contained. Some of them had sore eyes on account of so much sight-seeing.
There were many regiments in camp at this park at the same time we were there.
In a short time we struck tents and marched down the river a distance of seven miles. We went into camp at Carondelet. One of the officers named this camp, Camp Allen.
August 27th, Colonel Alvin P. Hovey took command of our regiment. He soon commenced battalion drill, which was very hard on us, owing to the warm weather. We had battalion drill four hours each day and company drill two hours, so you see that we were somewhat busy.
September 6th, Colonel Hovey, with six of our companies, boarded a train on the Iron Mountain railway and made a trip of twenty-five miles. We left the cars at 8 o’clock p. m. and made a rapid march of several miles out through a very rough, broken country. At 5 o’clock in the morning we got orders to lie down on our arms for a little rest, but not to speak above a whisper and to be ready to fall in line at a minute’s notice. When morning came we learned that the rebels had evacuated their camps and skipped. Thus we were knocked out of a fight at this place. On account of not having any rebels to shoot at, we could do nothing else but march back over the roughest roads we had ever marched on.
Here was our first experience in foraging off of the country. But we got a plenty on this trip, such as cream, honey and peaches—all of which were good things that we could not get in camp.
This trip was called the Betty Decker march. I don’t know why this name was given it unless she was the lady who furnished us so many good things for our suppers.
We got back to the railroad at 8 p. m., got aboard a train, and at 10 o’clock arrived at our camp at Carondelet.
While here we had to guard the dry docks while the ironclad vessels, St. Louis and Carondelet were being built. It was rumored that these vessels would be blown out of existence before they were finished, and as half of the people in St. Louis were ready to do anything for the Southern cause, we believed it. But nevertheless they were completed and had an active part in putting down the rebellion.
While we were drilling and guarding at this place we could see other regiments at Benton Barracks who were strengthening their fortifications. Now was the time when something had to be done to invade Missouri.
September 16th, 1861, we got marching orders, struck tents, and boarded a steamboat which carried us to St. Louis. We left the boat and while marching up Main street on our way to the Union station was the first charge which the old Twenty-fourth struck. Drums and fifes were playing when four large gray horses drawing a big delivery wagon collided with the head of our column, knocking it east and west. Several of our boys were slightly bruised, but they were more frightened than injured. In this way James R. Dalton and John W. Hostetter got their discharges.
That night we boarded a train, pulled by two engines, of twenty flat cars, fifty men to a car. We started westward to open up the Union Pacific railroad over which a train had not run for months. The weeds had grown upon the track until the engines could hardly pull their own weight. We traveled very slowly, and the morning of the 17th found us not many miles from St. Louis.
Half of our train had been cut loose and the engines had pulled on to the next switch. They soon returned for the balance of the train. At this place we heard the first national songs which we had heard sung in rebeldom. Some ladies carrying the grand old Stars and Stripes came out on the portico and sang “The Star Spangled Banner,” “The Red, White and Blue,” and other national songs. You bet there were cheers which went up for those union ladies.
This was the first time that Colonel Hovey knew that Indiana soldiers would eat chickens. But he found it out now, as the boys came straggling to the cars, at the call of the whistle, loaded with chickens and peaches. Colonel Hovey called, “Take them back, you d—— chicken thieves, or I’ll have you arrested. I didn’t think I had started out with a clan of Indiana thieves.”
Some of the boys became angry and made threats, while others laughed and were jolly about it. But it was all soon forgotten as the train pulled out. We had to walk by the side of the engine and throw gravel under the drive-wheels so that the engine would pull anything.
We went through three tunnels and came to Jefferson City. This is the capital of Missouri. Governor Jackson had the State House burned and skipped out with the old rebel, General Price.
At 11 o’clock p. m., September 7th, two engines, coupled together, and pulling our full train, went on west. Just as we started one of the boys of Company D fell under the car and was instantly killed.
On the morning of the 18th the engines could not pull their own weights and each company cut loose and pushed their own cars. While doing this, Brown of Company B, fell under the car and the wheels ran over his leg.
We pushed up the grades and rode down them. Sometimes we even had to push the engines.
We reached Syracuse late on the evening of the 18th. We got off of the cars, marched out and went into camp near the town. A strong picket line was posted and a strict order was placed on the pickets. A heavy penalty of death was imposed on those who slept on their post.
The moon shined bright and at 10 o’clock the still night air was disturbed by the tramp of horses’ feet and rattle of sabers coming towards our camp. The picket who was posted on the road did not wait to challenge the supposed enemy, but fired his gun and skedaddled to camp. The pickets all around the camp fired their guns and ran.
The long roll was beat and all was hustle and bustle in camp. “Fall in, fall in!” was the order from colonel and captains, “and get ready for action.” In four minutes the old Twenty-fourth was ready for action and facing the supposed enemy. Several were shaking as with the ague, yet they were ready to take their medicine.
In a few minutes we saw a single orderly coming down the road. He rode up and asked, “What the h—— does this mean?” Colonel Hovey, standing there in his night clothes, with his fighting blood up, answered him pretty roughly and wanted to know who it was. We found out that it was Colonel Eads’ home guards of “Jayhawkers” who had come from California to join our army. We then broke ranks and went back to our quarters to dream of the false alarm and the excitement which Colonel Eads’ Jayhawkers caused us.
On the morning of the 20th we struck tents and marched seven miles west. Here, at the Lamine river, we went into camp. THIS camp was called Camp Morton.
The next morning heavy details were sent out to build fortifications for picket duty and to guard the Lamine bridge while the carpenters rebuilt it. This bridge had been burned by the rebels a few days before we got there.
The Twenty-fourth Indiana was the first regiment to arrive at this place, but there were more brigades on the way to reinforce us, some by way of the Missouri river and some by rail, as we had come.
On the morning of the 23d we were joined by the Second Indiana Cavalry. We now had the bridge completed, and the trains ran over it and went as far as Sedalia, this being as far as the road was completed at that time.
At about this time, the Eighteenth and Twenty-sixth Indiana landed on the banks of the Missouri river, and it being a very dark night, they ran into the Twenty-second Indiana. They had quite a little spat before they found out their mistake. The Major and six men of the Twenty-second were killed.
On the 30th of September we marched to Georgetown, the county seat of Pettice county. It was dark when we reached the town. As we found no enemy to oppose us we went into quarters in the court house.
Here the Eighth, Eighteenth, Twenty-second, Twenty-fifth, Twenty-sixth Indiana regiments and the Eighth Missouri and ten pieces of artillery joined us. We were collecting an army to raise the siege of Lexington, which was twenty miles above here. Rebel General Price had had Colonel Muligan, with a handful of our soldiers, cooped up there for several days. General Fremont was getting his troops together to raise the siege, but he was too slow. The little garrison of 2,800 Union men defended the fort five days against a superior force of 11,000 men.
An order was given to mount the Twenty-fourth Indiana on mules. We marched to the corral and tried to break several of those wild bucking mules. The order was countermanded. That evening we started on the march, but had only gone a few miles when we met our paroled prisoners. They reported that they held out five days and then ran out of rations and ammunition. They also stated that their loss was 60 killed and 40 wounded. The rebel loss was unknown.
We about faced and went back to camp. On the 5th of October we moved out on an open field and pitched tents. Here we drew two months’ pay. This was the first time that we had ever drawn any of Uncle Sam’s money. The officers were paid with gold coin.
While at this place we drilled six hours each day. We received marching orders on the tenth of the month, but the order was countermanded. On the morning of the 16th we again received marching orders. We struck tents and marched a distance of two miles to Sedalia, a town at the end of the Pacific railroad.
The war had stopped all the progress of the railroad. The workmen had stacked their shovels, picks, and wheelbarrows in a large cut and had fled in all directions.
We boarded a train and went to Tipton, which was twenty miles distant. Here, on the 19th, we drew uniforms.
On the morning of the 21st we received marching orders, struck tents, packed our knapsacks and marched in the direction of Springfield, which is south of this place. At the end of a fifteen-mile march we halted and went into camp. On the morning of the 2d we continued our march. At 4 o’clock we came to a halt and went into camp in a little black-oak grove. Our feet were blistered from marching over the rough mountain roads, and many of the boys fell out of the ranks and straggled in late at night.
On the morning of the 24th we took up our line of march. After a hard day of travel we came to the little town of Warsaw. We crossed the Osage river and went into camp.
While here General Fremont received the news from one of his spies that General Price’s army was at Springfield. We were called into line early the next morning. We moved out seven miles and the order was then countermanded. Therefore we went into camp in a field which was covered with burrs. For this reason we named this place Camp Burr.
Our boys were about played out on account of heavy marching, and so each of our companies bought an ox team to haul our baggage. Our quartermaster sent our train back to Tipton after supplies of ammunition and rations. This was supposed to be our base of supplies.
On the evening of November 1st, 1861, we received orders to leave our tents, and in light marching order move out and march in the direction of Springfield. At 8 p. m. we moved out eight miles through the dark night and came to our main army to consolidate our regiment with our division, brigades, etc., which were commanded by Generals Pope, Hunter, and Jeff C. Davis.
The next morning we marched through a little town by the name of Black Oak Point, and after a hard day’s march we went into camp in a meadow. We were all very tired and foot-sore.
On the morning of the 3d we marched through the little town of Buffalo, crossed Greasy Creek, and went into camp.
We were all worn out with the day’s journey. Most of us had eaten a cold lunch and had lain down for a little rest. A few of the boys were cooking beef and trying to prepare some food for the morrow when the bugle sounded the assembly to fall in line and march. We slung knapsacks, fell in line, and marched off in double quick time. Some of the boys were swearing because they had to throw their beef, which had just started to boil, out of the kettles.
We felt sure that we would have a chance to take old General Price in that night. Everyone was worn out and angry, and their fighting blood was at its highest pitch. We marched all night, and early in the morning we waded Pometytor creek. We then halted for a short rest. We had nothing for breakfast except a few pieces of hard tack to munch on.
This was the 4th day of November. After a short rest we fell in line, marched off as fast as our swollen feet would allow us to. At 4 o’clock we reached Springfield. After a forced march of fifty miles, without sleep and with very little to eat, we were in splendid fighting order—mad and worn out.
But our chance for a battle had slipped.
As old Price’s army had skipped, all mounted on gray horses, General Fremont with his one hundred bodyguards, started in pursuit. They ran into Price’s rear guard. I heard some shots fired, and it was reported that a few shots were exchanged with the rear guard of General Price’s retreating army.
Here we forced a junction with General Lane’s army, which swelled the number of our forces to about 35,000. General Lane had several Indians under his command—some 1,200 Cherokees. It was reported that he sent them after the rebel forces which were retreating towards Cassville, which is in Barry county. I never heard of those Indians afterwards. They must have been disbanded.
We went into camp that night about a mile from town. On the morning of the 5th of November, Colonel Hovey took command of a brigade.
On the night of the 6th, cheering was heard throughout our army, as some grapevine or false dispatches had reached our officers of a great victory gained in the east. The thunder of drums and voices were heard for miles.
General Fremont received instructions not to follow Price farther into the mountains, or he would be caught in a trap. On the morning of the 9th we received orders to march back to Tipton.
On the 13th our regiment and the Forty-second Illinois marched on a race to Camp Burr. We beat them by five hours. On the morning of the 14th we made double quick time back to Osage Bridge, in order that we might get there before General Sturges’ brigade arrived there. We crossed the river and went into camp. We stayed two days waiting for our supply train.
We went to Tipton on the 20th of November. This completed the Springfield march.
While on this expedition General Fremont issued a proclamation to free all the slaves who made their way into our lines. Soon they were flocking in by the score. For assuming this authority General Fremont was superceded by General Pope. His name was never mentioned again in the history of our late civil war, as he was placed on the retired list of our good old generals who had served their time faithfully in our past wars.
We pitched tents at Tipton and went into camp for a few days rest. The weather was getting somewhat cold, making our camp life somewhat disagreeable. We stayed here until the morning of the 27th, when we struck tents and marched to Syracuse. Here we went into camp and stayed until the morning of the 29th, at which time we got orders to march back to Tipton again. We were getting tired of running around so much, and having no fighting to do, as we had been promised that we would put down the rebellion in thirty days. As yet we had not even made a start. Some of our boys were getting homesick and wanted to fight it out in a pitched battle. Some of them thought that they could clean up five little greased rebels.
We went into camp two miles north of Tipton, in a little grove. On the night of December 1st five inches of snow fell, we then had a grand time hunting rabbits. We remained here until the 6th, when we drew two months’ pay.
We broke camp the next day and marched to the Lamine bridge. A heavy rain fell that night, overflowing our camp and making it a disagreeable place. We lay here until the morning of the 15th, when we got marching orders to move over to Sedalia. We went into camp a little north of town. While here we received the report that our advance under Pope had captured 1,540 prisoners, without firing a shot.
While here we formed a scouting party detailed out of the Twenty-fourth Indiana. Concealed in covered wagons we traveled all night. In the morning we came to an open prairie. From here we sent part of the detail to a large mill and distillery. A few shots were exchanged between the guards and our boys. In a short time the guards mounted their horses and rode as if for their lives. There were about twenty men on guard. They had a number of bushels of corn, several pounds of bacon, and some barrels of old copper distilled whiskey. The boys loaded one of our wagons with the beverage and set fire to the building. We then started back to Sedalia, as we had accomplished what we were sent to do. On our way back the wagon loaded with whiskey broke down and we had to leave it. Out of all of that whiskey we only got a small drink of whiskey each. We reached camp and reported our success. As soon as it was dark Lieutenant Sheeks, with a small detail, started after the wagon which we had left.
Colonel Eads had run across the wagon and went into camp at this place. They were having a time drinking the good old liquor which the wagon contained. The night was very dark, and when Lieutenant Sheeks reached the top of the hill he heard quite a number of men around the wagon. Thinking that they were rebels, he ordered the boys to fire into them. Colonel Eads’ men also thought that we were rebels, and returned the fire. After several shots were exchanged, Lieutenant Sheeks withdrew, as we were outnumbered five to one. We never learned of our mistake until the next evening. No one was seriously injured, as all the shots flew wide of their mark on account of the darkness. This battle was named “Sheeks’ Defeat.”
While here a five-inch snow fell, making a very disagreeable time. On the night of the 23d of December we got orders to march back to our old camp at Lamine Bridge. This was one of the coldest, hardest marches of our service. While on the journey a sleet fell and froze. The batteries all had to be left at the foot of the hills, as the horses could not pull them up the hill on account of it being so slippery.
When we reached camp we were almost frozen and there was no wood to make fires with. We had built log cabins here for winter quarters, but there was no chance to get fire only to tear down our cabins. We did this and piled the logs in heaps. We set fire to these. We made coffee and soon became warm and comfortable.
We soon began preparations for sleeping. We spread tents on the snow and sixteen to a bed we lay down and pulled our blankets over us. A snow fell, which covered us over and kept us warm. When the reveille sounded at four o’clock the next morning it was a sight to see the boys crawling out from under their snow beds to answer roll call.
A heavy detail from the Twenty-fourth Indiana was sent to pull the batteries up the hill. The horses and mules had failed but the old Twenty-fourth was reliable.
The 24th of December found us with tents once more, with tents pitched at the Lamine Bridge. On Christmas Day some of the boys got drunk on stomach bitters and had a jolly time.
January 1st, 1862, we had a general inspection. Our work at this place was hard, as we now built Fort Lamine. The snow lay on the ground six inches deep, and the ground was frozen to a depth of eighteen inches. This made it slow work building fortifications. Some days each man could not pick out a yard of the frozen dirt.
While at this work several of the boys froze their hands and feet and some of them had to have their fingers and toes amputated. These received discharges.
January 18th a detail of twenty men was called out to go with a foraging train after hay and corn. We went ten miles northwest. Here we found plenty of hay and corn. We camped in negro quarters. We killed a hog and had the negro cooks to get our supper and breakfast.
We loaded our train and gave the old farmer a due bill on Uncle Sam and started to camp with lots of good things, such as apples, honey and potatoes, hidden in the hay. The weather continued to turn colder, and we almost froze on our return to camp.
On the 12th another train composed of ox teams, was sent after corn and hay. Several of the guards of this train were badly frozen.
On the 15th we drew Sibly tents and stoves, but it wasn’t before we needed them. On the 27th we drew pay for two months. We also drew plenty of rations. We had bacon to spare. There was no wood to burn in our little sheet iron stoves and so we kept them red hot with bacon.
The citizens brought cakes, pies, apples, and cider into camp and sold them cheap. The boys ran some of them out and called them rebels, but we had not yet seen a real rebel.
At about this date we had one soldier in Company I who did not fill inspection. For this a detail carried him to the Lamine river, cut the ice and stripped and washed him all over. He was afterwards one of our best lieutenants.
After February 1st, 1862, our camp duty was lighter. A string guard which was composed of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Illinois, Twenty-fourth and Twenty-sixth Indiana, and Fryberger’s battery of six twelve-pound guns, was placed around the brigade at this fort.
Friday, February 7th, 1862, we received marching orders, struck tents, and marched as far as Syracuse. On the 8th we marched through Tipton and on the evening of the 10th we went into camp near Jefferson City. We stayed in this camp until the 13th, when we went to town. Here a part of the regiment had quarters in the State House and the rest were in a large church house.
The weather at this date was below zero and there was plenty of snow on the ground. We had marched about eighty miles, over a very rough road and were worn out. Some of the boys almost played out on the morning of the 15th.
Stowed away in box cars, with fifty men to a car, we started for St. Louis. Early in the morning our train stopped at a small station for fuel and water. We were just in front of a little saloon, and as the boys were almost frozen, some were allowed to get out and get them a dram. Frank Smith, of our company, brought back a five-gallon keg of peach brandy and rolled it in through the car door. The door was closed as soon as all could get in. Some kind of a hammer was procured and the head of the keg was knocked in. The boys soon had their cups filled with brandy instead of coffee. The train started and the boys soon had the brandy keg emptied.
There was no more complaining of the cold, but it was certainly a mixed up drunken mess. Some of the boys wanted to fight but it did not amount to much because we were too thick and crowded to fight.
We got to the Union depot at St. Louis at 7 p. m. and at 8 o’clock we marched on board the steamer Iatan. On the morning of the 16th we ran into blocked ice at Cairo, Ill., the place where the Ohio runs into the Mississippi. We had to hammer away about four hours in order that we might get through the ice.
We passed Cairo, turned up the Ohio river, and landed at Paducah, Kentucky.
Here, on February 17th, we heard of the surrender of Fort Donellson. Several boats were lying at this place filled with the wounded. We went on up the river to Smithland, and here we turned our boat up the Cumberland river.
On the morning of the 18th of February, 1862, we landed at the Bluffs, under the big guns of Fort Donellson, Tennessee. We marched out through the dead bodies of both armies which had not yet been buried, for our troops were almost played out after three days of hard fighting.
During the battle, General Pillow and Johnson cut their way through our lines and made their escape to Nashville with a brigade. Our final charge was made on the 17th, at which time the garrison surrendered with 5,000 prisoners and a number of heavy guns which were mounted on the fort. Our loss at this place was heavy, about 1,500 in killed, wounded and prisoners. The rebel loss was about 1,800.
We went into camp on a small island opposite Donellson. At 10 o’clock that night the river rose and overflowed our camp. There was some hustling around to get our tents and camp equipage moved. We then pitched tents on the other side of the river.
On the 23d a squad of twenty men was detailed to go up the river on a scouting expedition. We went as far as Bellwood Furnace, which was nine miles from Donellson. We saw a few rebels at a distance, fired a few shots at them and fell back. On our return to camp we killed several squirrels for our sick in the hospital. The squirrels were plentiful and gentle at this place.
We remained at this camp until March 6th, when we received marching orders. We struck tents, got on a boat, and crossed the river. While landing at this place Adjutant Barter lost his horse. It fell through the staging and broke its leg.
We marched in the direction of Fort Henry until 5 o’clock in the evening, when we went into camp for the night. The land was rolling and timbered with pine at this place.
On the 7th we marched to Fort Henry on the Tennessee river. We went into camp near the fort. This place had been taken by our forces about three weeks before. It was well fortified and was mounted with sixty heavy guns. It showed the marks of a hard-fought battle.
We lay here until the 9th. We then marched down to the landing, and got on board the steamboat, “Telegraph No. 3,” and ran up the river as far as High Piney Bluffs. Here we lashed on to another boat, which had on board the Eleventh Indiana and Eighth Missouri regiments. The two boats pulled on up the river one hundred miles and on the evening of the 12th of March, 1862, we landed at a little town called Savannah.
We marched off of the boats and formed our brigade in hollow square. Washington’s Farewell Address was read to us by A. J. Smith, who was to be the commander of our brigade. It was composed of the Eleventh, Twenty-third and Twenty-fourth Indiana and the Eighth Missouri. General Lew Wallace commanded the Twelfth Division.
We moved back on to the boats and at 10 o’clock that night we ran on up the river seven miles to Crump’s Landing. Here a shot was fired by one of our gunboats as a signal for us to land. Our boat ran into the shore with such force that it knocked almost everyone down. But we were soon on our feet again. As soon as the staging reached the shore we got to land as fast as we could run off of the boat.
This was a night long to be remembered. The rain was pouring down, and it was so dark that we could not see where we were going, only by the frequent flashes of lightning.
The thunder rolled from pole to pole,
Onward we marched this gloomy night
Which tried the nerve of the brave and bold,
For we were looking for a fight.
We moved out five miles, found no enemy. We then halted for a short rest, as the mud was very bad and the water was sometimes knee deep. When daylight appeared, some were leaning against trees, some were on brush-piles and others were even laying down in the mud and water, and all were sound asleep.
Our cavalry passed us here. They went on as far as Perdy, found no enemy, and returned in the evening. We all marched back to the boats on the night of the 14th.
Our regiment was called out on picket duty. A battery was planted on the road, making a strong guard. We knew that there was a large force of rebels somewhere near us. At daylight we were relieved by the Eighth Missouri, and went back to the boat. The rain had poured down all night and we were in somewhat of a soaked condition.
Tuesday, the 18th, our division of 9,000 men moved off of the boats and marched out into the timber half a mile. Here all of the divisions went into camp. Grant, whose headquarters were at Savannah, had 35,000 more troops at Pittsburgh Landing nine miles above here.
We still continued our brigade drill. April 1st, 1862, our brigade was on review. We could hear the boom of the cannon in the direction of Corinth. On that day Colonel Hovey made us a little talk.
He said, “I think that the battle has commenced on our left wing. But I wish that we could see the whites of the rebels’ eyes. Now, Twenty-fourth, all of you have mothers, sisters and sweethearts back in Indiana homes and I hope and trust that you will never let the disgraceful name of a coward go back to those dear ones who are praying each day for your honor and life to be spared.” When his speech was ended three cheers went up for Colonel A. P. Hovey.
At eleven o’clock in the evening of the 5th our bugle sounded the assembly for us to fall in line. The rain was falling as fast as I ever saw rain fall, but it was all the same, we had to march to—no one knew where. The water was from shoe-top deep to knee deep, all over the road. Still we plunged on. It was so dark that we could not see where to go and we had to keep touch with the file men.
Lieutenant Colonel Gurber’s horse fell into a hole but got out again. Captain Erwin measured his length in a ditch that was five feet deep. There was plenty of swearing and grumbling going on that night. We marched as far as Adamsville, found no enemy, and returned to camp at 7 o’clock April 6th, 1862.
The roar of cannon and rattle of musketry could plainly be heard. The battle of Shiloh had now commenced in earnest. At nine o’clock General Grant, on his way from Savannah to Shiloh, landed and gave us orders to get to the battlefield as quickly as possible. We were called into line in light marching orders.
Colonel Hovey spoke a few encouraging words to the boys, impressing upon their minds friends and honor. He told us what we were about to go into. He also said that he wanted us to go in like soldiers and men.
We started off on quick time, our regiment in the advance. The roar of the battle became plainer every minute. About 11 a. m. our advance guard came dashing back and reported us to be exactly in the rear of Bragg’s army and only a few miles distant. We got orders to about face. We double quicked three miles back and went the river road. This road curves with the river and this made the march much longer. We could hear the noise from that desperate struggle and carnage all evening.
Late in the day we passed squad after squad of our soldiers coming from the battlefield, whipped. We came up within a mile of the battle ground. Here we passed one soldier laying on his face and scared to death. Some of the officers said, “Turn him over and see if he is dead.” He then spoke and said, “Boys, you had better go back. We are all killed or captured. There ain’t enough of us left for a string guard.” When we slipped in between the lines a short time later we found that he had come near telling the truth. But we found a few brave fellows huddled down at the landing, who were not yet whipped, but Sherman’s battery and the gunboats were all that saved the little band of heroes. They also saved the day.
General Prentice was surprised on the morning of the 6th. Most of his brigade were taken as prisoners, and the General himself captured as a prisoner, and it was seven months before he was exchanged.
Sidney Johnson had been killed in the evening and this had put a damper over the rebel army.
Beauregard had been too sure of a victory. He made his brags that he could let his troops rest during the night, and in the morning ride down to the river to water his horse and find the yanks all sticking up white rags. But he missed his mark.
Beauregard and Johnson had 60,000 men and they had pounced upon a force of 35,000, many of whom had never been in such a fight. There were not more than 7,000 in the ranks of the Union forces at the closing charge on the evening of the first day’s fight at Shiloh.
Between sundown and dark our division, under Wallace, slipped in between the lines of the rebel and union forces, while our gunboats constantly threw shells over into the rebel ranks. All during the night, under this same protection, Nelson’s forces were being brought across the river, and General Buell’s army was coming up the river from Savannah, as reinforcements. These two forces numbered 35,000.
The union force outnumbered that of the confederates then by 17,000.
That night the rebels drew their lines back about one and a half miles. Our division laid down in line of battle and remained in that position all night, with the rain pouring down all the time. The groans of the dying and wounded were terrible to hear, yet many of us slept soundly until we were awakened to fall in line.
At 4 o’clock on the morning of the 7th, drenched in rain and very hungry, Wallace’s division plunged into the fight on the right of the army of the Tennessee and opened the battle of the second day’s fight.
We moved out one mile and formed our line of battle. Our brigade supported the Ninth Indiana battery. We were charged by a regiment of rebel cavalry. They were repulsed in a short time and went back faster than they came.
Companies A and B were placed on the skirmish line with Birds’ sharpshooters. We charged on two big twelve-pound batteries which were raining shot and shell into our lines, causing great destruction. We got within forty yards of their guns and silenced them for a few minutes, but they then double shotted with canister and drove us back. We soon met our main column coming up into the charge.
Our two companies got lost from our regiment and fell in line with a Kentucky regiment. We supported the center of our army, while it was driving the enemy back on the flanks in every charge. The center which we supported was masked with three firing lines. The fighting was awful.
The batteries were pushed up by hand and as many as two files of wounded were going back to the rear for an hour. The earth shook as if with an earthquake. It seemed as if nothing could live in the hell of fire. One could taste the sulphur and the shell and bullets could have been stirred with a stick. The atmosphere was blue with lead.
The rebels were drawing off on the flanks and were holding their center with all their strength to cover their retreat. At 3 p. m. General Bragg, seeing that he had come to stay, withdrew his army and skedaddled in the direction of Corinth. He was whipped and had left 8,000 men on the field dead and dying. Among them was Sidney Johnson, one of the South’s best generals.
Our cavalry followed up the retreat a few miles, picked up a few prisoners and was called back.
The union loss at this place was 10,000. The loss in the Twenty-fourth Indiana was thirty-two killed and wounded. We lost three officers who were as good and brave as any who ever drew saber. Lieutenant Colonel Gruber was struck in the breast with a spent cannon ball while in front of the regiment on the charge. Lieutenant Southwick of Company B, had his jaw shot off with grape shot. Captain McGuffin, of Company I, was shot through the breast.
A report From History of the Battle of Shiloh.
Grant, with his victorious army, moved up the Tennessee river to Shiloh. Here, April the 6th, 1862, he was attacked by General A. S. Johnson and driven back.
The night after the battle General Buell brought a large force of Union troops. The Union troops outnumbered the Confederates now by seventeen thousand. The next day Grant gained his second great victory.
He said in his report, “I am indebted to General Sherman for the success of the battle.”
Twenty-five thousand men, dead and wounded, lay on the field after the battle.
When the battle was over we lay down on the battlefield and remained there all night without anything to eat. A steady rain was falling and had been for several days. The 8th and 9th the wounded were cared for and the dead buried. This put an end to the bloody battle of Shiloh.
The Battle of Shiloh Hill in verse:
“Come gentlemen and ladies, a story I will tell,
About a noted battle that you all remember well;
It was an awful strife and will cause your blood to chill;
It was the famous battle that was fought on Shiloh Hill.
It was on the 6th of April, about the break of day,
The drums and fifes were playing for us to march away;
The feelings of that hour I do remember still,
When first my feet were treading on the top of Shiloh Hill.
There were men from every nation lying on those bloody plains,
Fathers, sons and brothers were numbered with the slain,
That has caused so many homes, with deep mourning to be filled,
All from the bloody battle that was fought on Shiloh Hill.
Early the next morning we were called to arms again,
Unmindful of the wounded, unmindful of the slain;
We fought them full nine hours before the strife was o’er,
And the like of dead and wounded I never saw before.
Our army reinforced, we made a desperate stand,
And before the battle ended we fought them hand to hand;
The carnage it was fearful and ten thousand men were killed;
All at the bloody battle of the famous Shiloh Hill.
And now my song is ended about those bloody plains,
I hope the sight by mortal man may ne’er be seen again;
And I pray to God the Saviour if it be His holy will,
To save the souls of all of those who fell on Shiloh Hill!”
We lay here on the field five days without shelter or rations, except what the other regiments, stationed here gave to us. On the 13th a detail was sent after our tents and camp equipage. It was still raining, but we had to move out and do something, as we could already hear the “graybacks” crawling in the leaves.
On the 16th we moved out to the front and went into a camp in a nice meadow. Here we had four hours’ brigade drill each day.
General Halleck soon took charge of this army and commenced to advance on Corinth, where Bragg had a force of 60,000 troops, well fortified. On the 20th a small squad of rebel cavalry ran into our picket line. Our lines were reinforced and we had to stand in line of battle from 4 o’clock until daylight.
Our fatigue guard duty was now heavy. Almost all of our time was employed. The weather was getting fine. Leaves were putting forth and the aroma of the flowers filled the air. The birds warbled their sweet songs and all Nature seemed to say, “How foolish for human butchers to slaughter one another.”
On the 26th we marched to a place called Hamburgh, seven miles away. We found no enemy and returned to camp on the 27th of April.
May 2d, 1862, we marched out near Perdy, a distance of about ten miles. We halted, went into camp, and sent a force of cavalry on to burn the railroad bridge. The cavalry returned at 4 o’clock in the evening of the 3d and reported that there was a heavy guard at the bridge, and they had not fired a shot at the enemy. General Wallace sent them back with orders to burn that bridge at all hazards, or he would dismount them and send the infantry on their mounts. That trip they burned the bridge, captured some prisoners, and ran the train into the bridge.
We could hear the distant boom of our gunboats and heavy artillery that were advancing on Corinth. We started back to camp. It had rained and we had a very muddy, hard march on the return.
On May 8th we took up our line of march to the front. We moved out in the direction of Corinth, Mississippi, and went into camp on Gravel Ridge.
Our division was held in reserve four miles in the rear of our main army. We had an army of 80,000 collected here. The Union force was trying to dig a canal to get the gunboats near enough for action. We had Corinth almost surrounded and the heavy guns kept up a constant bombardment.
We had battalion drill two hours each day. We were drilled by Spicely, who was major at that time. About this time we drew four months’ pay, which amounted to fifty-two dollars.
Our picket duty was extremely heavy, as the rebel cavalry made frequent visits to our lines. There was heavy skirmishing in the advance at all times. We were closing in too near to suit old Beauregard and Bragg.
On the 26th of May Bragg’s army to a man evacuated Corinth. It was no siege—merely a draw battle. That army went in the direction of Richmond. Most of them went by railroad. This was the end of the first battle of Corinth.
June 2d we received marching orders, and on the morning of the 3d we marched in the direction of Memphis, Tennessee. The roads were dry and dusty, making our march very disagreeable. We passed through Union Town on the 8th. Here was the first place on this march where we had seen the Stars and Stripes waved by citizens, and you bet the boys gave them three cheers and a tiger.
We marched on through Bolivar and on the night of the 13th we went into camp near Memphis. After a march of a hundred miles, we were all tired and ready for a little rest, but our rest was yet to come, for at 1 a. m. o’clock the next morning the bugle sounded the assembly. We fell in line and marched to the city.
The fearful wind it blew a blast,
The lightning never ceased to flash,
The thunder roared,
And the rain it poured.
but on our weary boys tramped into Memphis. We took refuge under sheds, porches or any place else to get shelter from the rain. The next morning we marched down to the river bank, pitched tents and went into camp.
On the morning of the 16th we were ordered out seven miles back of the town on a scout. We found no enemy and marched back to camp. We had a heavy provost guard at this place to keep the boys from running around over town.
We received marching orders on the morning of the 17th. We embarked on a steamer, and went as far as Helena, Arkansas. Here we got orders to reinforce General Curtis who was in Missouri with a small force, at that time. We got on board a boat and ran down the river, sixty miles below Helena. Here we turned our course up White River as far as Aberdeen, a small town on the bank of the river.
We could not hear of the whereabouts of Curtis’ army, and on the 4th of July, we remained all day at Crockett’s Bluff. On the 6th, six companies of our regiment under command of Colonel W. T. Spicely, marched out about six miles to Grand Prairie. Here we ran into a force of the 2nd Texas cavalry, about four hundred in number. Only four of our companies were in line. These companies numbered about 180. The rebels charged up within thirty steps of us. They lay over on the opposite sides of their horses and fired at us with double barrel shotguns, from under their horses’ necks.
They were repulsed, tried the second charge, and were driven off in disorder.
Colonel Fitch’s command was two miles in our rear but they did not get up in time for the fight. Late in the evening we returned to the boats and Colonel Fitch treated us to the beer. On the morning of the 7th all the troops marched to Grand Prairie again. There was some skirmishing with the rebel pickets but they made no stand. We had battalion drill at 10 o’clock that night.
July 7th, we marched as far as Clarenden, a distance of ten miles. We crossed the river and went into camp in the town. We remained here until the evening of the 9th. We got a dispatch that Curtis’ army had made its way through to Helena.
We embarked on boats and at night ran back down the river. Our boat ran on to a snag and almost sank, but we got it off and repaired after quite a lot of work. On the 14th we landed at Helena again. We found General Curtis’ command here. They had had a hard time marching from Missouri down through Arkansas.
We stayed here drilling and doing camp duty until August 9th. We then marched to Clarenden on White River, sixty miles distant, but found no enemy. The weather was hot and the roads dusty, making a fearful march. But nevertheless, we found plenty to eat on the way, such as pork, chicken, honey and other good things. On the 19th we got back to Helena, covered with sweat and dust. We looked more like the black brigade than white folks.
August 27th, we got on board a boat and went thirty miles up the St. Francis river, on a scout. We landed the boat, got off, and marched through the canebrake seven miles. We found no enemy and returned to our boat the “Hamilton Belle.” When we got on board we found her loaded to the guard with cattle, cotton, sugar, pork, and all kinds of forage picked up by the boys.
We started back to Helena, and landed a short distance from our camp at 2 o’clock in the morning of the 28th. We had quite a time getting our private forage ashore as the general, E. O. C. Ord, put a guard at the staging and would not let the boys take anything with them off of the boat. What they didn’t get off they rolled into the river.
September 4th, 1862, several companies of our regiment went on a scout up the river after Bushwhackers. We went up to Chalk Bluffs, below Memphis. We found no enemy and started back to Helena. We had not gone far when a volley was fired into us by a force of mounted rebels. Our boat in command of Lieutenant Colonel Barter, landed. He ordered us off and out after them. After a run of three miles we decided that we could not run down mounted rebels and make them fight.
We marched back to the boat and continued our return to Helena. We landed there the evening of the 6th.
On the 16th, a detail got on a boat and went thirty miles up the river, after a load of wood. On the 23rd, we had a sham battle. We had quite a time at this and we then settled down to camp life. We had brigade drill four hours each day from then until October 16th when we got orders to go up White River.
We embarked on boats and went down to the mouth of the river, but the water was so shallow that we could not get in at the mouth. We then returned to Helena.
Our drill and picket duty was very heavy, as we had pickets on the opposite side of the river. We were in all kinds of employment, some peddling, some fishing, and some playing games. We had a general routine of camp life.
November 20th, some of the 11th Indiana boys, while out foraging were fired into by the rebels. One man was killed.
On the morning of the 28th, we got marching orders. We boarded a boat and went to Delta, nine miles below. We got off of the boat and marched out forty miles east, to the crossroads. We went into camp in a bottom.
December 3rd, General Washburn with part of the command marched to the railroad. Here they had a sharp skirmish with the enemy, losing one piece of the 1st Indiana cavalry’s artillery. This was a draw battle. We got plenty of pork and sweet potatoes on this march.
On the 5th we marched back to Coldwater. The next morning we began our march at 4 o’clock. Sunday, the 7th, we marched three hours before day. Half of the boys didn’t get their breakfasts that day. We reached the river and got on the boats. We landed at Helena at 10 p. m.
On the 9th of December, General Gorman took command of the post, and we had grand review. On the 11th we were reviewed by Generals Gorman and Steel. About the 15th, some heavy rains fell, causing the sloughs to rise, so that we had to haul the picket guards to their posts in wagons.
On the 21st, General Sherman, with his army and a fleet of gunboats, passed Helena. This army was on an expedition against Vicksburg.
On the 22nd, Lieutenant Colonel Barter was appointed Provost-marshal, and the boys of Company B of our regiment were guards.
About the 25th, General Grant’s communications were cut off while he was on an expedition against the rebels at Meridian. This caused his failure to form a junction with Sherman at Vicksburg. Generals Sherman and Smith with their forces charged Haines’ Bluffs. They were repulsed with heavy loss.
Sherman was now reinforced by McClearnand. They went up the Arkansas River and took the Arkansas Post, with six or seven thousand prisoners and some heavy guns. Sherman captured more prisoners at this place than he had lost at Vicksburg.
On the morning of January 11th, all of our troops at Helena under Gorman, except one cavalry regiment, got on boats and went down to the mouth of White River. We went up the river to St. Charles which place the rebels had evacuated. On the 15th of January, 1863, a seven-inch snow fell. The canebrakes and timber bent under their heavy loads.
The heavy rains had overflowed the river and it was all over the bottom land. This together with the snow made a very gloomy morning. That night, the pickets had been sent out with orders not to kindle any fires. Some of them were angry and set fire to some buildings, thus causing some excitement in camp. The pickets were called in and we got on the boat. We went up the river to Clarendon, and on the evening of the 16th, we landed at Duvall’s Bluff. The rebels had just evacuated this place. Our cavalry moved out after them and picked up a few prisoners.
The rebels left two sixty-four pound guns in our possession. We loaded these on to the boats. On the morning of the 17th, Colonel Spicely, in command of the 24th and three gunboats, went to Desarc. This is a beautiful little town. It is about as far up White River as navigation is carried on.
We found many sick and wounded rebels here. Our officers paroled them. There was also a great deal of small arms and ammunition here which we took.
January 19th, all of the command moved to St. Charles. At night several houses were set on fire, making quite an illumination. On the 21st we went down near Helena, but had to tie up on account of the fog. On the morning of the 22nd, after a distance of 540 miles had been traveled, we landed at Helena again.
The weather was cold and disagreeable, and we began building winter quarters. There were to be sixteen men to a log cabin.
We remained here until the 18th of February. Our camp was then overflowed and we moved back from the river. We went into camp on higher camp ground.
The 19th we embarked on a boat and went down the river as far as Moon Lake. Here the levee had been blown up, and every foot of the lowland to Yazoo City, had been flooded. In early days this place had been called Yazoo Pass, and boats had run along here. We crossed the lake and marched five miles. We went into camp for the night.
On the 20th, we drew some cornmeal. This was quite a treat as we were tired of hardtack. We found a mill, set her to going, and soon had enough meal ground for a good corn cake. Some baked their cake in half canteens, some on boards, and others rolled the dough on a stick and held it near the fire until it baked.
A cold rain had set in making a very muddy and disagreeable time, but we had to pull the heavy trees out of the pass, which the rebels had felled to keep our boats from going through. We fastened two-inch cables around the butts of the trees, and pulled them out, tops and all. Several cables broke, throwing the boys twenty feet each way. We finished cleaning out the pass on the second evening. We were wet and muddy all over. The officers took pity on us and issued a thimbleful of commissary whiskey to each man. Some of the boys paid twenty-five cents a thimbleful for enough whiskey to make a good drink.
On the evening of the 22nd we got on the boat and went down to the mouth of the pass. We found no more obstructions. When we got to Coldwater River, our gunboat threw shells into the woods on each side. We ran down this stream twenty-five miles and tied up for the night. We could see the signs of a great many rebel boats which had peeled the bark off of the trees near the shore. All of this country was flooded.
On the morning of the 24th, our task completed, we turned the bow of the boat up stream. On our return, we ran up near Moon Lake. When night set in it was so foggy that we had to tie up for the night. The next morning we decked our boat with holly and other evergreens and set out on our journey. We ran into Moon Lake and here met General Quinby’s division on their way to Fort Greenwood.
We returned to Helena. General Quinby moved on down to the fort and found that country all under water. At night he planted two guns on a small knoll near the fort. The next morning the gunboats opened fire on the fort. The rebels threw a shell into the port of the Benton, killing seven gunners. The union troops then had to draw off, as they could not get to the fort. They left the two guns which had been planted there.
They came back to Helena after a hard struggle to get through to Yazoo City. All of their plans had failed.
General Prentice was now in charge of the post at Helena. On the 28th of February, he issued an order for all citizens to be sent out of our lines who would not take the oath of allegiance to our government.
The river rose, overflowing our camp, and we had to move it.
March 14th, Company B of our regiment was relieved from provost duty, and they returned to the regiment. Nothing of importance occurred until the 26th of March, at which time we received two months’ pay.
In the morning of April 6, 1863, we were called into line. Our brigade marched into the fort and was addressed by Adjutant General Thomas. He spoke in regard to arming the negroes, as the Emancipation Act had already been passed. He had come direct from Washington, D. C., with full authority to arm and equip the colored troops. He advocated that it would be much better to put the negroes up for a target to be shot at than for us to risk all of the danger ourselves.
This proclamation caused quite an excitement throughout the army. Many of the boys deserted and went back home, but they were afterwards pardoned, and came back to their regiments. About this time we received two months’ pay.
April 9th, we received marching orders which were read to us at dress parade. On the evening of the 10th we struck tents, marched on to the boats, and went down the river four miles. Here we joined General Quinby’s division. General Hovey was now in command of our division. On the morning of the 12th, our squadron moved on down the river. We went past Napoleon at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. On the morning of the 13th, we ran past Lake Providence, Louisiana.
We landed at Millikin’s Bend at 12 o’clock at noon, this being about 210 miles below Helena. On the morning of the 14th we went up the river two miles, got off of the boat, and went into camp.
April 15th, we loaded all of our baggage on a barge and prepared for a march. This country was low and swampy, and a great many of our boys had died from malaria and other diseases. Many of them were buried on the levee. Our troops had lain here since the charge at Chickasaw Landing.
On the morning of the 16th we started to march around Vicksburg. We went into camp at night near Richmond, a small town in Madison Parish, Louisiana. The next morning we marched twelve miles and went into camp on Dawson’s Plantation. We remained at this place three days. Our teams went back for rations.
About this time General Grant sent his Yankee gunboat past the blockade at night. It fooled the rebel gunners and each fired a shot at the supposed monster. As the nights were very dark, we could see the flashes of the guns and hear the boom of the heavy guns which were planted on the river bluff for seven miles in length.
At this place we had roll call seven times each day in order to keep the boys in camp. On the 19th, our cavalry had a small engagement. After they had taken a few prisoners the rebels fell back.
On the 21st, we marched to Fisk’s Plantation, a distance of about thirteen miles. We went into camp near the bayou. Grant had been trying to open up this bayou for several months, so that he might get the gunboats around Vicksburg. It rained all that day making it very disagreeable.
There was heavy cannonading at night, as our gunboats and transports were running the blockade. We must have been twenty-five miles away but the roar and flashes could plainly be heard and seen.
We lay here several days while our pioneers were constructing pontoon bridges across the bayou. Here our siege guns were brought up. They were drawn by several yoke of cattle, as it was too muddy in that black sticky soil for horses or mules to get through, with big loads.
On the 27th we resumed our march. While crossing the bridge one of our heavy guns fell over the side of the bridge, and went down into thirty feet of water, dragging the teams with it. It began raining and after marching nine miles through the rain and mud which was knee deep, we came to the banks of the Mississippi River.
All of our fleet which had run the blockade at Vicksburg, lay at this place, which we named Perkins’ Landing.
On the 28th, General A. P. Hovey’s division embarked on boats and barges and went fifteen miles to Hard Times Landing, which is five miles above Grand Gulf.
On the morning of the 29th, all of us marched on to boats with barges lashed on either side, which were filled with troops ready for the charge. Our squadron of ironclads, seven in number, moved in line on down toward the rebel forts. It was a grand sight to behold those great ironclad monsters gliding down against this mighty fortress at Grand Gulf, with its large guns, to receive tons of iron hail against their iron sides.
Everything was as still as death when we neared the fort. Many were holding their breaths and listening for the terrible fray to begin. On the boats went, the Benton in advance. When she got opposite the fort, she circled round until within 150 yards of it. She then opened up with a broadside of six heavy one hundred pounders one after the other. Each boat followed in succession. Scarcely had our guns opened fire when the enemy replied with their heavy 284 pound guns.
The fort became a mass of fire and smoke. The Tuscumba in the same manner as the Benton, poured in her broadside. Next came the Baron, DeKalb, the Lafayette, the Carondalet and so on.
The fort seemed to be silenced and then it was that our brigade on a boat and two barges, moved on down with orders to charge that American Gibraltar. We were in good spirits, for we thought that no human life could exist in that flame of hell and destruction, which rained over the rebels for two long hours. All was silent, but we had run down but a short distance when a white cloud of smoke belched out of the fort like a volcano, and the heavy shot and shell once more poured out from that crater.
One of the largest shots struck not over twenty yards from our bow. It was not many seconds before our pilot had the bows of our boats turned in the opposite direction.
We were about two miles from the fort when the battle was renewed, part of our gunboats running close to the fort and using grape shot and cannister. The old Lafayette lay at a distance of three miles up the gulf, using her big stern gun and dropping shell directly into the fort.
The hog chains were cut off of the Tuscumba, and she, put out of business, dropped down below the fort.
After four hours of hard fighting, our boats drew off to cool down and rest a while. It must have been terrible for the boys who were shut up in those iron monsters.
Our force landed and a detail of volunteers was called to stay on the boats while the blockade was being run. We marched round six miles on the west side of the river. At 8 o’clock we were on the river bank, five miles below Grand Gulf. At nine o’clock our entire fleet ran the blockade. This sight will be remembered by many persons as long as they live. We could see tongues of fire pouring forth from the mouths of those mighty monsters. The sound on the still night air was heard many miles away. The earth trembled as far away as where we were looking on. Our boats got through but they were riddled up somewhat badly.
Our loss was twelve killed and wounded. The rebel loss was twenty-six. Among their wounded was a brigadier general. We lost six battery horses on the transports, while they were running the blockade.
On the morning of the 30th we crossed the river. Our regiment crossed on the old ironclad Benton. The marks of the shot on her iron plates were terrible. Great pieces of shell had been forced under her iron plates, and they were blue all over where the minnie balls had struck and glanced off.
After we had crossed we drew a small amount of hardtack and a little piece of bacon. At four o’clock we started on a march in the direction of Port Gibson, which is seven miles back of Grand Gulf. We marched all night over a very rough, broken country. At 2 o’clock on the morning of the 1st of May, we ran into the rebel army. We were halted from our tiresome march by the terrific sound and the crashing shell of a battery, which broke the still morning air with its echo over hill and valley for many miles and warned even the little birds of that desperate day which was to come and cause so many homes to mourn the loss of some dear friend.
Hovey’s division being in front, our regiment moved down and stacked our arms in line of battle. We were not farther than 100 yards from a concealed line of rebels. They lay in a canebrake. Everything was as still as death and this was the darkest part of the night, the hour just before day. Our regiment was ordered to move to the right and form the right wing of our line of battle so that the troops in the rear might come up and form in line. But before our lines were formed, that ravine and canebrake became a solid sheet of fire, caused by the rebel batteries and small arms. Daylight was now beginning to break and we could see that the shells were playing havoc with our troops on the hill, that were forcing their way up to the front to form our lines.
We had stacked our guns and the boys were trying to make some coffee, but the battery in front seeing that the hungry boys needed some heat to make their coffee boil quickly, rolled in a few shells and blew all of the fire out. Some of the boys swearing, declared that it had come from our own guns, for the shell came directly from the place where we had stacked our arms that morning.
The fight was now on in earnest, and there was no time for arguing about the matter. We now piled our knapsacks and prepared for the charge.
General Osterhos had charged in front, and our regiment charged down across a large ravine, which was grown up with cane, making it almost impassable. The rattle of shot and shell striking the cane and the whoops and yells of the charging regiments made a terrible noise.
We moved across and supported the 8th Indiana, which was commanded by General Benton. The rebels gave way on all parts of their lines and fell back. We then moved up and supported a battery in the edge of a big plantation. They were shelling the rebels on the retreat. Some old houses were near by and the rebel batteries were knocking the chinking and splinters in all directions.
We followed up the retreat five miles. We found everything imaginable scattered along the road. The rebels halted and formed their lines in the timber near Port Gibson. We moved up within a mile of their lines, halted, and stacked our arms, to take a rest.
At two o’clock, the rebels were reinforced by General Tracy and Green, who had fresh forces, and they were also good fighters. We could see them coming down on us in as nice a line as was ever seen in any army. We then had to get busy, and in a hurry too. We advanced to meet the enemy. Our regiment stopped at a ditch. The 47th Indiana and the 19th Kentucky stayed with us.
When the rebel line got within forty yards of us their men fell to the ground and remained there one and one-fourth hours, before we repulsed them. We averaged fifty-eight rounds of cartridges to the man before the rebels withdrew. After that we never grumbled about carrying sixty rounds of cartridges.
After General Tracy and many others had been slain, the rebels fell back demoralized. Very many of their men had been slain and wounded. Our regiment had only thirty-four killed and wounded, as we were protected by the ditch, and did not suffer like other regiments.
The fighting along the line was kept up until five o’clock in the evening when the rebels fell back, some by the way of Grand Gulf and the others in the direction of Vicksburg. At two o’clock on the morning of the 2nd of May we were awakened by the jar and report of the exploding magazines which were blown up at Grand Gulf, when the rebels evacuated that strong fortress. We could see their signals going up all night, and thought that the rebels meant to concentrate their forces and fight a pitched battle with us, on the next day, but they saw that we had come to stay and decided that it would be better for them to take all of their men to Vicksburg.
Now it could plainly be seen that nothing could hold the blockade of the Mississippi against our mighty force of ironclads and the army which had undertaken to open it up.
Our loss at Port Gibson was 500 killed and wounded. The rebel loss was about 600 killed and wounded and we also took 700 of their men as prisoners. The divisions that were engaged at this place were A. P. Hovey’s, Osterhos’, and Carr’s. Logan’s division came up just at dark, and Quinby’s division did not get into the fight at all.
May 2, 1863, we moved into Port Gibson. Here we had to wait until a pontoon bridge could be constructed over Bayou Pierre, as the rebels had burned the bridges, while on their retreat.
Our boys found many valuables, such as watches, jewelry, silverware, and some gold and silver coin at this place. We also found plenty of good bacon which was buried in hogsheads and sodded over. This came in good play as our rations were getting slim. The citizens all seemed to be in mourning. Many of them had their property burned on the supposition that they had fought us the day before.
On the morning of the 3rd, our regiment crossed the bayou, and marched out six miles in the direction of Grand Gulf on a scout. We found plenty of bacon and other articles of food, which the rebels had concealed in the woods, but they were not sharp enough to hide anything from a yankee.
At two o’clock we started back, but when we came to the Jackson road we learned that our entire army had moved on. We then followed up as a rear guard.
We marched twelve miles and went into camp near Rocky Springs. Our army had nothing to eat and we were cut off from our base of supplies. Thus we had to forage off of the country. We foraged corn and ran one or two mills, and this furnished a half pint of meal to the man. Some made bread and cooked it on coals and others rolled the dough on sticks and baked it, and still others mixed water and meal together, making mush without any salt. At least we had a time to get something to satisfy our gnawing stomachs.
We lay here until the evening of the 6th when we moved up eight miles. We went into camp and drew one cracker to the man, for supper, but we had plenty of water to wash it down with.
On the morning of the 7th we moved up three miles and formed on the line of battle which was being established. Our cavalry had a sharp skirmish and took twelve prisoners. We had grand review by General Grant.
Sherman’s corps arrived on the 10th. We marched ten miles and went into camp. Sherman’s corps passed us late in the evening and went into camp two miles in advance of us. This was near the enemy’s line of battle and we looked for a heavy battle at any moment.
On the morning of the 12th we marched on past Sherman’s division. After a march of five miles we came up with our cavalry command, which was engaged in a sharp little fight with the rebel advance. We drove them back to the main Vicksburg army near Edward’s Depot.
We crossed Baker’s Creek and went into the camp for the night. We were so near the rebels that we could hear them talk at night, and our teamsters and their cavalry got corn at the same cribs, between our lines. While our teamster of company A, Timothy Riggle, was in the crib filling his sack, a squad of rebel cavalry came to the door.
One of the rebels looked in and called out, “Boys, heah is a d—— yank in heah stealing ouah cohn.” Then this to the yankee, “Get out of heah.”
Our teamster hardly knew how to answer, but he replied, “Gentlemen, please give me time to get a few more ears. My mules are nearly starved.”
When they heard him call them gentlemen they gave him a little time. I suppose that they had never been called gentlemen before. But the teamster didn’t take time to fill his sack. He was glad to change places with the rebs, and feed his mules on half rations. When he came into camp with his hair standing on end, and reported his escape from prison, the Captain said to him, “Bully for you, Tim.”
That night Sherman, with his corps passed to our rear, and went with all speed toward Raymond. On the morning of the 13th we heard the batteries of Sherman’s force open up on the rebel army at Raymond.
During the night the rebels had concentrated a large force with the expectation of a general fight the next morning. But at daybreak when they heard the noise of Sherman’s batteries at Raymond, they came down on us like demons. The bullets flew thick and fast but the most of them went too high as we were under the hill.
As we had only a small detachment against the main rebel army, we were ordered to fall in line and pull out on double quick time.
I will relate a little circumstance which took place while we were in this critical position. In forming our lines we were ordered to left wheel into line. One of our old comrades by the name of John Lochner, who was a very clumsy Dutchman, slipped on a pile of rails and peeled all of the skin off of half of his nose. He was standing there cursing in Dutch and the Captain seeing him with the blood running down his face, yelled out, “Lochner, if you are shot, go to the ambulance.”
“Shoot, hell Ciptain, shoot mit a rail in de nose.” he replied. But he stayed in his place in the ranks anyway.
We crossed the creek and were soon out of the range of the rebels’ bullets. A very heavy rain set in making a hard muddy march. Seeing the rebels did not follow us, we crossed over Baker’s Creek on a bridge and then set the bridge on fire. We went into camp in the bottom.
That night we tore down some cotton pens and each fellow had a good, soft, cotton bed. But just as a person thinks that he is getting some great pleasure for himself, death and destruction come along and cut off his happiness. About 10 o’clock that night, we were almost washed out of that camp by a flood. We waded to the hills in water that was sometimes waist deep.
On the 14th, we marched through Raymond. Here we passed over the battleground. It bore the marks of a hard fought battle. In the fight Sherman had taken several prisoners, but he had lost 500 men, killed and wounded. He had gone on to Jackson, the capital of Mississippi.
We, tired and hungry, marched on through rain and mud. At the end of twelve miles, we went into camp we knew not where. But one thing we did know. That was that we were tolerably well mixed up with a large rebel army and would have to untangle soon.
On the morning of the 15th, we began marching at six o’clock, and after a distance of five miles had been traveled we came to a little town on the Jackson and Vicksburg Railroad, by the name of Clinton. The distance to Jackson from here was eighteen miles. We received a dispatch from General Sherman stating that he had captured the town of Jackson, captured several prisoners, and put General Johnson’s rebel army to flight.
Our army consisting of Hovey’s and Logan’s divisions turned back toward Vicksburg. We were foraging along the road as many of the boys had empty haversacks, and not a morsel to eat. I jumped over into a garden and grabbed a few onions. The other boys followed my example and soon the garden was cleaned up. I had procured a small amount of Orleans molasses and when we stopped for a short rest I made my breakfast on onions and molasses. I will always remember that I enjoyed that breakfast more than any that I ever ate.
We were soon called into line and we began our march again. After a march of ten miles we ran into the rebel’s advance guard, near Bolton’s Depot. Our cavalry drove the picket in and we formed a line of battle. We stacked our guns for we were hungry. As soon as our guns were stacked, we were out looking for something to eat, just anything to stop the gnawing at our weak stomachs. Two of my messmates, John Clark and John Toliver, and I ran for a house down in the field. When we got to the house we saw an old French lady standing on the portico, with a large bull dog tied to the post.
The old lady forbade our coming inside, but we could not understand her gibberish, and even if we could, we were too hungry to pay any attention. There was a smokehouse on the place and we could smell the delicious odor which the good hams hanging in there made. We knocked the gate down, and while I was having a battle with the dog the boys went for the meat. The dog placed his feet on my breast, but I had my bayonet in the scabbard and I grabbed the dog with my left hand and with my right hand I ran my bayonet through the dog’s ribs. This made the old lady jump up and down and swear like a trooper. I met the boys coming out of the smokehouse with two big hams on their shoulders. One of them called out, “We have plenty of meat, Fulfer, you get the honey.” The old lady came with an ax and I saw that something had to be done. As quickly as possible, I grabbed up a large bee stand that was open at the bottom, and threw it on my shoulder. At last the battle was won. The last time that I saw that old French woman, she was flying through the door with the yard full of angry bees after her. There was at least seventy-five pounds of honey in that gum.
Just at this critical moment the rebel cavalry drove our cavalry back. The bullets rattled through the cornstalks and past us like hail. Toliver called back at the top of his voice, “Hold on to that bee gum, Fulfer.” When we got back to the regiment all of the boys were in line of battle ready for business.
We camped here that night and the two different cavalries were skirmishing at intervals all through the night. Some of company A will always remember that we had honey and ham that night for supper.
On the cold ground we were lying,
Filled with thoughts of home and God,
For we knew that on the morrow.
Some would sleep beneath the sod.
Farewell mother, you may never
Press me to your breast again.
But you’ll not forget me mother.
If I’m numbered with the slain.
On the morning of the 16th of May, 1863, a day long to be remembered by some of us. We were called into line at an early hour, but some time elapsed before the plan of the march was decided upon by the generals. Finally Osterhos and Carr moved by the way of Raymond, and Hovey and Logan by the way of Champion Hill. General Quinby was in the rear guarding the trains.
After we had advanced a few miles we met some straggling rebels who reported that the rebels were in full force on the Raymond Road, but had pitched their battle ground on Champion Hill, near the forks of the road.
After a six-mile march we ran up against the rebels, posted in a natural fortification, made by the circling road that curved round the hill. Logan moved his division up and took a position on the extreme right flank, in line of battle. Hovey’s division was formed next to Logan’s and Osterhos’, Carr’s and Smith’s division were on the left on the Raymond Road.
At ten o’clock Company A was ordered on to the skirmish line. We charged up within sixty yards of the main rebel line which was formed in the edge of the woods. This brought on the engagement and it was general all along the lines of Logan and Hovey. Our company having one man wounded, while getting here, fell down in a hollow. The air above us was blue, and the roaring of the guns and the whizzing of shot and shell was fearful.
At one time I thought that Company A was lost. The rebels in a solid mass, charged one of Logan’s batteries, which was 150 yards to our right and rear. They were repulsed with great slaughter, and they were driven back past us faster than they had come. It was terrible to look upon the slaughter of that desperate charge. The only musket balls which I ever saw used, were at this place. By the use of them the rebels in our front tried to shell us out of that hollow ravine.
The 11th Indiana and 29th Wisconsin of our brigade charged on our left, driving the rebels out of the road. They also captured a battery and took 160 prisoners. General Logan’s division charged on our right, and drove the enemy in a mass, back in front of Hovey’s division. There was cheering all along the line because the boys thought that we had the rebels routed. But they had only fallen back to mask their forces and draw Hovey’s division into a trap.
Our regiment moved up and gave three cheers on account of holding our part of the skirmish line so near the enemy. Our company joined on to our regiment and moved two hundred yards to the left flank at the top of the hill. This was where the 11th Indiana had taken a battery.
We faced the enemy and charged down the hill. On we went, unmindful of the death and destruction which we were running into. Not a shot was fired to warn us of the danger, until we were in nineteen steps of a masked division. Fifteen to one hundred of them came up out of the ditches. They were to our right flank and rear, not over 200 yards from where we had started down the hill.
Regiment after regiment poured death and destruction into our ranks until we had only a little squad left, to rally around the flag. At the first volley the most of our little battalion fell, dead and wounded. I dropped into a ditch and loaded and fired three shots at the rebels. They were so close that I could see the whites of their eyes.
It seemed as though the hill was filled with rebels. On they came and I had to get up and change my position. When about half way up the hill, I ran into a squad fighting hand to hand. Here was the place where the old 24th almost lost its flag, and also, Colonel Barter almost lost his hand. The colors were shot out of it and the flag staff was split into three pieces. Corporal Steel carried the flag off of the field.
We could not get reinforcements and the chance of any of us being saved was a forlorn hope, but just at the last moment, we were saved by reinforcements. They came into line on the right at the top of the hill. We were a mixed up bunch, but those brave Missouri and Iowa boys, the 3rd, 5th and 6th Missouri and the 10th Iowa, saved us. When the rebel host saw our solid line of reinforcements they became panic stricken. They were so excited that the last load that they fired they did not return their ramrods, but fired them into our faces, threw down their guns, and fled for safe quarters.
We had won the day, but Hovey’s and Logan’s divisions had paid dearly for their prize. At four o’clock the enemy fell back in confusion. They were being hard pressed on all parts of the lines and they made no stand until they reached Black River Bridge, which place they had well fortified.
The rebels, on their retreat, had left many dead to be buried in fence corners.
Our division, commanded by General A. P. Hovey, was composed of the following troops: the 11th, 24th, 34th, 46th and 47th Indiana; 29th Wisconsin; 24th Iowa; 56th Ohio; and 22nd Kentucky.
The loss of our division was 1,500 killed and wounded. The loss in our regiment was 259. Our company loss was 22. Two of our boys were taken prisoners. The number of men when we went into the charge had been 480. Our brigade having suffered the greatest loss, was left on the field to care for the wounded and bury the dead.
At night a heavy picket was placed around the battlefield, for fear that the rebel general, Loring, who had cut through our lines, would come back and make a night attack on our little worn-out force that had been left on the field of battle.
No person except those who were pickets on that field, that dark night, can imagine the horrors of that awful bloody field of death and destruction. The groans of hundreds of wounded and dying could be heard on the still night air, and one could imagine that they saw them in their mangled condition, begging for water and calling on God for help. “War is hell.”
The rebel loss at Champion Hill had been as heavy as our own, and we also captured 4,000 of their men as prisoners, and took twenty-two pieces of their artillery.
On the morning of the 17th, the still air was disturbed by the belching cannon at Black River Bridge. Osterhos and Logan charged the works at daylight, driving the rebels out and putting them to fight in the direction of Vicksburg, their last stronghold. Several prisoners and four pieces of artillery were taken. The enemy set the bridge on fire, thus checking the advance of the union forces. But they were not to be hindered in that way, for they were soon crossing on pontoons. On the morning of the 18th General Grant was forming his lines around Vicksburg.
May 19th, 1863, having cared for the wounded and buried the dead, our little shattered brigade took up our line of march. After a march of ten miles we came to Black River Bridge.
General Sherman crossed Black River some distance above here on his return from the capture of Jackson, Mississippi. On the night of the 19th, he charged the enemy at Haines Bluffs, where he had been defeated about the 23rd of December, the year before. This time he was successful in capturing the fort. He then established his lines on our extreme right. The capturing of Haines Bluffs connected us with our base of supplies above Pittsburg. We had been on less than quarter rations for twenty days.
At Haines Bluffs, Sherman captured several prisoners and took some heavy guns. He also forced the enemy back to their main defenses at Vicksburg.
On the morning of the 20th, we took up our line of march. We left Black River Bridge at 4 p. m. We marched until twelve o’clock at night. We moved up near our troops which were establishing their lines around Vicksburg.
On the 20th, our troops had had a hard little fight but were repulsed by the rebels, after they had charged up close to the strong rebel forts. On the 21st we moved up near our advance lines and on the 22nd a general charge all along the lines was ordered. Our regiment supported the 7th Kentucky.
Several of our regiments in front had planted their flags on the rebel forts and the destruction of men was horrible. The earth trembled under the powerful explosives. Many of our boys were slain in hand to hand fights.
From some unknown cause, the rebel army in our front was reinforced and we were driven back with a heavy loss. The blame was laid to General McClernand, the commander of our 13th corps. He was superceded and I never heard of him afterwards. He was a fine looking general. Thus the name of the 13th corps was lost at Vicksburg.
The nurses and wounded whom we had left at Champion Hill, had been captured but were paroled. They came to us about this time.
Our troops were driven back and some of the regiments lost their flags. At night some of the wounded were carried away but the rebs would shoot at any little noise. Many of the wounded perished that night for want of help.
During all of the siege. Admiral Porter bombarded the city with twenty-two inch mortars and other heavy guns. It was a sight to see those huge shells raised to the distance of four miles, and then explode and send the pieces of shell humming to the ground, and making a noise like thunder.
On the 24th, we went to work digging rifle pits and preparing for the siege. Our large guns kept up a continuous firing all along the lines.
On the 25th, our dead, who had fallen in the charge of the 22nd, had not yet been buried. The rebels had refused to let us bury them. But the corpses stunk them out and they gave us a four hour’s armistice in which to bury the dead.
Two of those in our regiment were wounded while working in the rifle pits. We were relieved from this duty by the second brigade. We then moved back in a deep hollow to rest.
On the 26th we moved up to support the first regular siege guns. Our duty was heavy skirmishing all day and digging rifle pits and planting batteries at night.
On the morning of the 28th our batteries opened a heavy fire all along the line. They blew up one of the rebel’s magazines, thus causing a terrible explosion. The rebels returned fire but after an hour of heavy bombarding they were silenced. On the 30th, a small dram of commissary whisky was issued all along the line.
On the 31st we took our position on the lines where we remained until the surrender. Osterhos moved his brigade back to Black River and began building breastworks to protect our rear.
The rebel generals, Johnson and Breckenridge, had come up with forty thousand men to raise the siege.
On the morning of the first day of June, 1863, our troops were stationed on the lines as follows: General Herring on our extreme left flank, next to the Mississippi River; General Lawman’s division joined on to them; our division, under General Hovey next; the first brigade of General Osterhos’ troops, next, which brigade reached the Vicksburg and Jackson Railroad; Generals Carr, Smith, and Quinby next came in; General Logan’s corps was fronting that strong fort called “The Queen of Vicksburg,” which afterwards became the noted part of the drama of Vicksburg; next General McPherson; and General Sherman’s corps as has already been stated, took their place on the extreme right at Haines’ Bluffs, near the Yazoo River. We were reinforced by Burnsides’ ninth corps, which was moved back to strengthen our rear, and Osterhos’ second brigade, and to fortify the banks of Black River.
We now had one hundred thousand troops in this vicinity. General Logan’s troops began tunneling under the largest fort at Vicksburg that morning. The rebels opened up with several of their heavy guns but they were soon silenced as we were advancing our rifle pits in close range and our sharpshooters were getting to be good marksmen.
At night General Lawman’s division tried to advance their rifle pits, and the rebels in front opposed their advance. There were several hard charges made on both sides. The rebels would drive our boys out of the pits and fill them up and then Lawman’s men would charge back and open up the rifle pits again. It was quite an exciting scene to witness.
Everything was quiet in front of Hovey’s division, but we were looking for the rebels to oppose our advance at night. On the morning of the second of June, our army was digging wells all along the line to supply us with water. We got plenty of water at a depth of eighteen feet.
The rebel batteries opened up a heavy cannonading, but our boys soon silenced them. On the morning of the third we were still advancing our rifle pits and the rebels were getting in a few shots with their big guns. They were now getting short of ammunition and were loading their guns with pieces of our mortar shells and railroad iron.
Breckenridge, the rebel, had forty thousand men at our rear, but we were too well fortified for him to make an attack. On the eighth a force of rebel cavalry attacked our guards and sick at Millikin’s Bend, but they were repulsed and driven back with a slight loss.
On the 11th a continual firing was kept up all day. One man in Company B of our regiment was killed. He was hit in the back with a piece of one of our own shells, while he was lying on his bunk.
On the 12th a detail from our regiment planted some heavy eighty-four pound guns in our rear and fifteen thousand men were sent back to Black River to reinforce our rear guard which was looking for an attack every hour, as things were getting desperate with the rebel army which was cooped up in Vicksburg.
On the 14th the rebels opened fire with some small mortars, on General Herring’s troops. Several were killed and wounded by mortar shells. They also threw some shells into Logan’s division.
At night some of our boys met the rebs half way between our lines and exchanged coffee for the papers which the rebels were printing in Vicksburg. We found much valuable information in these papers.
Since they had been cooped up in Vicksburg, the rebels had been in communication with Breckenridge’s army by means of some spies. We also often traded coffee with the rebels for tobacco or something which we wanted, while we were on picket duty.
On the 16th the rebels opened fire with some of their heavy guns on our rifle pits which we were advancing within a short distance of their forts. But they were soon silenced by our sharpshooters.
On the 17th, a battery of our twenty-four pound siege guns threw hot shot into the city and tried to set the houses on fire, but they failed to do much damage, as the buildings were so far apart. The most of them had been pounded down by Porter’s big mortar shells, and very many of the citizens had dug out houses in the railroad cut, sixty feet below the top of the ground. Some of the houses had been dug out in solid rock and they were proof against Porter’s big shells that rolled to the height of four miles, then dropped and went into the ground fifteen feet, then they exploded and tore out holes in the ground as large as a house.
It seemed impossible for any living being to exist in such a hell through forty-eight days in the presence of those death-dealing monsters. The earth and air were both filled with iron and lead.
On the morning of the 18th, our company was relieved out of the rifle pits by Companies C and E. While we were yet standing there two of the boys were killed by rebel sharpshooters. One was out of Company C and the other out of Company E. The bullets passed through the loop in our head logs and then went through the boys’ heads. We were only sixty yards from the fort at this time. Admiral Porter used his fleet of mortars and ironclads continually. There was neither rest nor quiet during those hot days, made still hotter by the whizzing shells and zipping minnie balls.
On the 23rd we received two months’ pay. We now had money and could catch a little time to bet on our old familiar game called chuck-a-luck.
General Logan’s men had their tunnel underneath the “Queen of Vicksburg” completed. On the morning of the 25th, we received orders for every man to fire fifty rounds of cartridges and each battery to fire one hundred rounds, all along the entire line. Just imagine eighty thousand anxious men, standing in the rifle pits, awaiting orders and ready to charge the mighty Gibraltar of Vicksburg.
Everything was quiet and not a sound disturbed the still air. Many were thinking of home and God and wondering what was coming next. About ten o’clock we saw a cloud of black smoke go up like the upheaval of a volcano. It carried with it to the height of a mile, hundreds of tons of earth and debris and a great number of men. This was followed by a mighty shaking of the earth, and the “Queen of Vicksburg” was no more. She was up in midair with hundreds of mangled human bodies dropping back to the earth.
At this moment five hundred cannon and eighty thousand small arms opened fire, and every man yelled at the top of his voice. Just think for a moment what a panorama this must have been. In five minutes nothing could be heard except the crash and roar nor could anything be seen on account of the smoke. Sheets of flame and clouds of black smoke shot up from the mouths of those great monster guns.
After an hour of work in this awful scene of death and destruction the lines all ceased firing. A few rebels in front of us gave three cheers to let us know that they were not all dead. The destruction then continued in Logan’s division, and it lasted until after dark.
I cannot give a full account of the work of destruction that went on in that division because I was not there, and got only a brief sketch of the horrors in that awful crater. After the explosion of the fort, Logan’s men charged in and tried to make an opening in that terrible place. They fought the rebels hand to hand, and both sides used hand grenades. These caused a great destruction on both sides. The rebels were reinforced and drove our men out, capturing several prisoners.
On the 26th, we moved one section of Captain Foster’s twenty-pound Parrot guns into our rifle pits, not over one hundred yards from the main rebel forts. We had to put collars on the guns to protect the eyes of our gunners.
Hard fighting was going on between Logan’s division and the rebels. They were fighting for the possession of the crater which was blown out between the two armies. They used all kinds of devices for holding that “bone of contention.” At night General Hovey had our rifle pits extended to within forty paces of their large fort. The rebels opened on us with canister, but it took no effect as our works were too strong.
At night our pickets and the rebels stood only ten feet apart and talked to each other. When four o’clock came, the first one that got into the rifle pits fired at the other, sometimes cutting the dirt close to his heels as he went over into the ditch on his head. He then lay there panting for breath.
The rebels built a wire fence and defied us to cross it. On the night of the 28th Captain Jackson of our pioneer corps and a working squad advanced our pits as far the fence. The rebel pickets were called into the fort and several shots fired. We then sent for reinforcements. The commander of the fort called out to know who the officer was who dared to intrude on his rights. We were now within thirty feet of the fort and were lying under two big guns whose muzzles one could crawl into.
Our captain answered the rebel thus, “Sir, I am Captain Jackson of the pioneer corps, and have orders from U. S. Grant to dig you out of here, and who are you, sir?”
“I am Colonel Jackson of the 20th Alabama Confederate, and have my orders form General Pemberton to blow you out of existence if you cross that wire fence.”
They met each other between the lines, shook hands, and had a long interview, for they proved to be uncle and nephew. I thought that we were in for it that night when their picket was called in and I heard the gunner call out, “Double shot with cannister, Number Four.” But now all was settled and we rested in our rifle pit until morning.
On the 29th the rebels planted a heavy gun to dismount our twenty-four pounders, that lay to our rear. They had fired two shots which took no effect, when one of our twenty-pound Parrots in the rifle pit threw a shot which knocked the rebel gun out of existence.
July 1, 1863, the rebels made a charge on part of McArthur’s division, but they were driven back into their works, with a counter charge. They lost thirty killed and taken prisoners. They also charged out on Lawman’s advance, capturing and filling up several rifle pits. They covered up several of our wounded, who perished before we recaptured the pits. That part of the line was reinforced and we established our line nearer their fort.
On the 3rd, we advanced our works by sapping and mining. We dug up some negro skeletons as this had been a negro graveyard. We were building ladders and preparing for a general charge. We could throw clods of dirt into the rebel’s forts. They had planted several mines under our rifle pits by digging tunnels.
We all knew that something was going to happen, as this kind of warfare could not last much longer.
At nine o’clock, on the morning of the 3rd of July, a flag of truce came out from the rebel lines, and was received at General Grant’s headquarters. Then came the order to cease firing all along the line for a three hours’ armistice. But Porter, who had not received the order, kept his big mortars busy, and threw some large pieces of shell over the rebels, and into our lines.
This rest was a good thing for all of us. Both rebel and union troops sat up on our works and talked over the business of the day.
This is a day long to be remembered by many, both of the North and the South. At twelve o’clock at noon both armies resumed their places in the works and renewed that long struggle, but the firing was not as heavy as it had been.
At six o’clock in the evening, we saw the second flag of truce and firing ceased all around the lines. On the morning of the 4th of July, at eight o’clock, a salute of eight blank cartridges was shot from each heavy gun all along the line. At nine o’clock General Pemberton and his staff rode out and met General Grant under a large live oak tree, near the lines. Here Grant accepted the surrender of Vicksburg with twenty-seven thousand prisoners, fifty thousand stands of small arms and three hundred and fifty pieces of artillery.
White flags went up on each fort and the rebels marched out and stacked their guns. Yanks and rebs were soon all mixed up and talking as sociably as if nothing had happened. They were almost starved and soon we were all at the same tables, eating a good square meal of hardtack, sow belly and coffee.
Later I went inside their works and found several kettles of poor mule beef, cooking on fires back of their forts. It was horrible to witness the sights in the town, especially the hospitals. It did not take long to get enough of sight seeing for the rotten smell in that hole of death was terrible.
General Grant soon went to Washington, D. C. to receive thanks and congratulations for the part he had taken in putting down the rebellion, and General Sherman took temporary command of the army at Vicksburg.
THE SURRENDER OF VICKSBURG.
From the History of D. H. Montgomery.
On the Mississippi, Vicksburg and vicinity was held by a strong Confederate force under General Pemberton. Early in the spring of 1863, General J. E. Johnson, then at Chattanooga, Tennessee, moved with an army to join Pemberton. In a number of masterly battles, Grant defeated Pemberton before Johnson could unite with him. He forced Pemberton to retreat into Vicksburg, and drove Johnson off of the field.
For several weeks Grant and Sherman, with over seventy thousand, besieged Vicksburg. Union men were shelling the city night and day. Food was so scarce that the Confederates had but one cracker a day. The town was so knocked to pieces that women and children had to live in caves, dug in the earth. They too were reduced to a few mouthsful of food a day. Mule steaks gave out and many had to choose between eating cats and rats.
Out of less than thirty thousand, they had six thousand sick and wounded. They could hold out no longer and July 4th, 1863, Vicksburg surrendered. Grant took nearly thirty-two thousand prisoners. Union loss, twenty-three thousand three. Rebel loss, twenty thousand four hundred and fifty-one.
Among those that took part in that day of celebration and victory was the war eagle, Old Abe, the hero of many battles. He was carried on a perch, near the flag, by one of the color bearers of the 8th Wisconsin.
At two o’clock in the evening we received marching orders to go to the rear after Johnson’s and Breckenridge’s army. There was a routine of work to do here, such as cleaning up and granting paroles to prisoners, but we had troops enough to see after all of this.
On the morning of the 5th, we moved out to Black River, which was twelve miles distant. We had some strong fortifications at this place. We lay here until the morning of the 7th when we moved out in the direction of Jackson.
We stopped at the battlefield of Champion Hill for an hour’s rest. There was hardly a living tree on the field. Those fine, large magnolias had been torn and shot up until the place looked like an old deadening. One could see the dead leaves for miles. We found several bodies off of which the rain had washed the dirt. Not much pains were taken in burying the dead rebels, while we were at this place.
We moved on twelve miles to Bolton’s Depot, and here ran into Breckenridge’s rear. After a few shots had been fired from our batteries the enemy fell back. We lay here until 5 p. m. on the 8th when we moved out against the rebels. They contended for every foot of ground. We drove them about six miles and then lay down for a short sleep.
On the 9th we marched to Clinton. On the morning of the 10th we moved out in the direction of Jackson. There was skirmishing all the way but this did not annoy us very much for we were used to skirmishing.
We went into camp near where Sherman was forming his lines. The rebels were keeping up a constant firing from their guns. Our cavalry cut off a train of ammunition belonging to the rebels, and then they blew up three carloads of their powder and fixed shell to keep us from capturing it. This made a terrible explosion.
On the morning of the 11th, General Hovey’s division had orders to take our position in the line of battle. Our regiment, the 24th Indiana, went in advance. After a march of three miles we ran into a body of rebels, posted in the edge of the timber, a mile from their fortifications. Part of our battalion moved out through the timber and looked for a road to move out and flank them. We drove their pickets in and returned to regiment to await reinforcements.
Soon a battery came up and unlimbered. They fired several shots at the rebels at the top of the hill. We then formed in line of battle and had quite a skirmish before the rebels fell back. We moved up to open field which was planted to corn, and just in good roasting ears. We could see the enemy going in double quick time for their fort as our batteries were pouring their shell into them. Our division moved down near the railroad and halted. At 5 p. m. the rebels opened fire on us with several large guns, making it pretty hot for us. This firing lasted until night. The shells cut through all parts of our lines. We lay here all night without any thing to eat and with no protection from shot and shell, as this was a comparatively level country.
On the morning of the 12th we again fell in line and moved up within two hundred and fifty yards of their main fortification. It was built of cotton bales and earth and made a strong fort. A deep ditch was on the outside.
Here we had some sharp fighting. We were in some black oak bushes and the bullets and shells, as they passed through, made all sorts of noises. At 2 p. m., General Lawman’s division came up and formed on our right. General Lawman, without orders charged the enemy. He got within twenty yards of their strong works, but they were reinforced and drove Lawman’s brave boys back with a heavy loss of four hundred, the most of them killed outright. Lawman’s command was taken from him and the division was placed under our general, A. P. Hovey.
On the morning of the 13th, the rebel cavalry had captured our pioneer train. They tried to burn our tools, but our cavalry drove them off and saved part of them. They were soon brought up and distributed, a pick and two shovels to the company.
We soon got busy and fair earthworks were thrown up. You cannot find many lazy soldiers where the bullets are cutting as close as they did there. While one of the boys was lying on top of the pit, a piece of shell struck him some place in the rear and tore all the hind part of his pants off. Another boy in Company B was hit in the shoulder.
We had just finished our breastworks when all of the rebel batteries in front of us got range of us and shelled us like fury until darkness set in.
As we had had nothing to eat since the morning of the 12th, each company had three men detailed to go back one mile in the rear and pack up rations for the regiment. These men would come running back to our rifle pits, loaded down with camp kettles, filled with coffee and roasting ears. We were glad to see them coming for we all had good appetites.
On the morning of the 14th the smell of our dead comrades near the rebel works became so bad that they could bear it no longer. They sent a flag of truce and requested a few hours in which to cover the dead which fell in Lawman’s charge of the 12th. They had refused to let us get near their works to bury our dead. We had carried off a part of our wounded at night, but many of them had perished. They were in the troops from Illinois.
A few hours armistice was given. The rebels piled our dead in ditches and merely covered them to keep them from stinking them out of their fortifications. They didn’t get half of them covered before the firing was resumed.
All on both sides were busy and each man was trying to see how many shots he could fire.
I was on the picket line that evening, and while lying behind a good-sized pine tree, my eyes were almost knocked out by bark and splinters. Some of the best marksmanship which I ever saw was at this place.
On the morning of the 15th, our lines extended from the bank of Pearl River, above the town, to the river below, and we were crossing a division five miles above. The division on our left made a charge and gained the rebels’ works, but they could not hold them on account of the heavily masked batteries. The works here were almost as strong as the works at Vicksburg. The rebels made a counter charge, but were repulsed with great slaughter. Several charges were made later on in the evening, but none of them were successful.
On the 16th our division lost fifty men killed and wounded. Volley after volley was fired that night all around the line, and our heavy guns kept up a continual fire. The rebel bands played “Dixie” and “The Bonny Blue Flag.” Our troops were crossing the river above on pontoons. All was hustle and bustle until after twelve o’clock at night. The cars were running back and forth, and locomotives sent forth their screeching whistles, making this night one long to be remembered.
We knew that something was going to happen, but did not know what that something was. Some predicted that the rebels were getting reinforcements, but when we awoke from a short nap on the morning of the 17th of July, we found everything quiet and Breckenridge’s and Johnson’s army gone. The generals with forty thousand men had crawled out through a little gap back of town. They had taken all of their guns except three hundred stands of small arms and one large siege gun.
All of the fortifications, which were made of cotton, were soon on fire and many fine buildings in the city were burned to the ground. The soldiers were allowed to roam the town over. They carried off many valuable articles. I saw a safe in a bank blown up and several hundreds of dollars in gold and silver scattered. There was certainly some scratching and running over each other to get those bright pieces which were thrown all over the street by the explosion. Many fine pianos and much furniture was chopped down.
Our cavalry followed the retreating rebs and picked up several prisoners who had straggled behind, purposely to be caught.
On the morning of the 18th a regiment from each brigade was sent to tear up the Memphis and New Orleans Railroad. We tore up the track for ten miles in each direction. We piled the ties and set them on fire. We put bars of iron on the piles of ties until they were red hot, and then bent them double so that the track could not be put down again. We worked hard all day and at night enjoyed a good rest.
We received marching orders on the 21st and at three o’clock we moved out in the direction of Vicksburg. We went by the way of Raymond. We lay here until the morning of the 22nd when we moved out for Black River Bridge. While on our way we were in a cloudburst. It came late in the evening and it was so dark and the rain fell so fast that we could see to travel only by the flashes of lightning.
At the end of an hour the storm ceased. We were wading water which was knee deep. Some of the regiments were sheltered by the heavy timber. Just as we came up to the river bottom, we were almost blinded by a flash of lightning. I saw many of the boys go to the ground and two of the 28th Iowa regiment were killed.
We waded for a distance of three miles before we came to the bridge. We crossed over and went into camp. We had the cold, wet, ground for our bed that night.
On the morning of the 23rd, we marched to Vicksburg. The weather was very warm that day and we were all almost played out by the time we had marched through the city and two miles down the river. Here we went into camp.
On the morning of the 25th, we got orders to furlough three men out of each company home for sixty days. While here we drew new zouave uniforms. They were sent to us from Indianapolis, Indiana. There was a hustling time at this place. Some troops were gathering up captured arms and ammunition. They were scooping up barrels of lead from the banks of the forts. The heavy rains had washed the dirt down, and had left a solid wall of blue lead and pieces of shell.
We found a great many wounded and sick here, but the most of them were rebel soldiers.
Our Vicksburg army was now being bursted up and transported to different departments. The 9th corps had gone East, and on the morning of the 1st of August, 1863 our 2nd brigade marched on the boats and started down the river to join General Banks’ army, or the Department of the Gulf. Port Hudson had fallen two days after the surrender of Vicksburg. The Mississippi was now open for transportation, and its powerful fortresses and blockades were wiped out forever. But the cost had been thousands of our young American heroes’ lives, and also many many thousand had been maimed for life.
The cost which it took to make this grand American nation and republic can never be repaid, not even the interest at a low rate can be paid.
On the 2nd we received two months’ pay, and in the evening we had grand review. The weather was now getting very warm. We received orders to march and on the morning of the 5th, we got on boats and started down the river after our 2nd brigade. We ran down the river about one hundred miles and landed at Natchez, Mississippi.
We got off of the boats, marched back two miles, and went into camp. This was a nice country and camp, but water was the one drawback. We had to haul and carry water from the river.
We had a great deal of fun at this camp. We were quartered near a camp of five thousand freedmen who kept up music, dancing and singing day and night. They were as happy as the children of Israel when they were encamped in the wilderness, after they had been delivered out of bondage by Moses.
A heavy provost guard was kept in town, and many of our boys without passes were arrested and put in the guard house. They were soon sending for their captains to get them out as they were in a regular jail and had to look through iron bars.
We lay here until the morning of the 11th. We then got on boats and moved off down the river. We landed at Port Hudson, at six p. m. Our boat had sprung a leak and we got off and stayed on shore all night, waiting for it to be repaired. This place bore the marks of a hard siege, some very heavy charges having been made here.
On the morning of the 12th, we started on down the river. We landed at Carrollton, Louisiana. On the morning of the 13th we got off of the boats, marched back one and a half miles and went into camp.
On the 14th, one of the boys in our regiment, while trying to catch a chicken, was shot and instantly killed by a negro safeguard. The boys planned to take him out of jail that night and lynch him, but he was slipped out and I never heard of him afterwards.
We lay here until the morning of the 17th, when we moved down two miles. We went into camp in the lower edge of Carrollton, five miles above New Orleans. The next day Colonel Spicely joined us with the remainder of our brigade, and we all moved out and went into camp near the bank of the river.
A division of the army of 10,000 men, under General A. J. Smith, was “lent” to General Banks to assist him in his campaign against Shreveport and Texas.
On the 22nd Major General N. P. Banks received us into his army, and we had grand review. On the 29th we were again reviewed by General Banks.
September 4th, 1863, General Grant came down to see after the army and reviewed our corps, the 13th, and the 19th corps. Late in the evening, he was thrown from his horse. He struck a curb stone and was seriously injured.
We lay here until September 12th when we got marching orders for a general campaign under the command of General Banks. Our army here consisted of the fragments of the 13th corps, the 18th corps, and the 19th corps.
We got on boats, crossed over to Algiers, and boarded a train at night. We went to Brasier City which is on the edge of Berwick Bay, eighty-four miles from New Orleans. This is as far as the road is completed.
The boys had lots of fun on this trip, shooting at alligators in the railroad ditches. The water was full of them. We almost lived on crabs and oysters while we stayed at Brasier City. The water we had to drink at this place was terrible. The boys played several tricks at this place.
We went to work here and dug wells. We found plenty of water but it was so brackish that we could hardly drink the coffee that was made from the salty stuff.
Our pickets stood over across the bay one mile from our army. We had left our tents at New Orleans, but we had some comfortable shelters here. They were covered with the leaves of the palm trees which grew in abundance here.
On the morning of the 25th, our troops were all drawn up in two lines facing each other. A soldier that belonged to the 1st Missouri battery was to run the gauntlet. He was drummed out of service with a dishonorable discharge for stealing from his comrades. One side of his head and face was shaven. Our sheepskin band ran after him, playing the “Rogue’s March.” He looked horrible as he passed, with everyone taunting and kicking him.
That night our officers from Lieutenant to General got on a spree. They had some kind of a dance, music and singing of camp songs. They had a heavy guard to keep the file and rank from bothering them. At ten o’clock they ran out of commissary whisky, and sent a detail back to the warehouse to get some. The guard that was at the warehouse, and our string guard decided to have a spree also. We procured augers, and as the floor was on piling, four feet above the ground, we went to boring through. The first trial was successful and one barrel was soon issued. Like a bee getting a taste of honey, the whole camp came rushing to divide if the guard would let them through.
Several augers were soon working. A German in Company C was standing on post, when his messmate came running out. He said, “Chris, let me out!” “I vill, Shon, if you vill divide up mit me,” answered the guard.
John ran to the commissary and seeing the contents of four or five barrels spilling out, slapped his kettle under and caught it full of what he supposed to be whisky. He didn’t take time to taste it. The boys had struck two kinds of “oil” there. Some of it was salt beef or “red horse” as the boys would call it. It so happened that John got his kettle full of the salty brine.
When he stopped, he said, “Hurry oup Chris, or dey vill catch us.” The guard gulped down two or three swallows, threw down the kettle, and called out “Corporal of de guard—Beat No. 4. Run here queek, I am seek at mine stomach.”
This put an end to the fun of the night. But there were several drunk men in the regiment after all. Along in the latter part of the night all of the officers except one had cooled down and were quiet. That one’s song I will never forget. It was,
“Go tell Aunt Nancy, her old gray goose is dead,
One she has been saving to make her feather bed.”
The 19th corps crossed the bay. Colonel Spicely had taken command in the absence of Colonel Barter. On the 27th our corps was reviewed by General E. O. C. Ord. On the 28th we crossed the bay and went into camp.
The next morning we went in wagons on a scouting expedition. While traveling five miles we saw no dry land. This country was fit for nothing but raising alligators.
October 3rd we took up our line of March through western Louisiana. We marched up the bayou thirteen miles. This was on the line laid out for the Opelousas railroad. This is a beautiful rich country with rice fields and orange groves, sugar cane and all kinds of tropical fruits. The water in the bayou was also getting better.
At ten o’clock on the 4th we marched through Centerville, our company in the rear guard. We went into camp late in the evening near a bayou in Attakapas Parish. This country is settled up by the French and Creoles. We found plenty of large yams here and we had all of them to eat that we wanted.
Our cavalry had a skirmish near this place, capturing a few prisoners and taking a small gun that threw a four ounce ball. It was a breech loader and belonged to the 2nd Texas cavalry. It was drawn by two little mules.
On the 6th, we marched twelve miles and went into camp near the bayou. This is a nice place, the bayou getting narrower, but very much deeper. Here General Cameron took command of our brigade. He was a former colonel of the 34th Indiana. We lay here until the morning of the 10th. We then began our march early in the day. We passed though New Iberia, and after a march of twenty miles, we went into camp on Vermillion Bayou, near Vermillion. This country is a beautiful rolling prairie.
While at this camp, General E. O. C. Ord issued an order to arm the citizens, so that they could protect their property from marauders and thieves. Our boys had no use for such generals. He was removed from our army shortly after this order was given.
General Banks had a telegraph line built from New Orleans to our camp, so that he could keep in communication with his army, his headquarters being at the city of New Orleans.
On the 11th, we had inspection of quarters. We had four hours brigade drill each day under the direction of General Cameron. On the morning of the 15th, we received a dispatch stating that the 19th corps which was in our advance, had struck the rebels in force and had had skirmishing with them.
At four o’clock that evening we began marching and passed the 19th corps at midnight. They were in line on the Carron Crow Bayou. We crossed the bayou and moved out in the advance. At daybreak we ran into the rebels. We moved out in the timber about a mile and supported Nims’ battery. The rebs fell back and we went into Camp Fairview to cook breakfast and make some strong coffee. We had marched all night and were in need of some stimulant.
We scarcely had time to finish our breakfast, when the rebels made a dash at us. We had a sharp fight, but they were repulsed. Our cavalry followed them up. On the night of the 18th, firing was kept up at intervals by our batteries and outside pickets. On the morning of the 19th, Captain Nims’ battery and the 30th Indiana went to the front on a scout. They found a strong force five miles out. They exchanged a few shots with their batteries and returned to camp in the evening.
While here we drew clothing and wool blankets, something that we had not seen for six months. The nights were now getting cool and they came in good play. We also had brigade drill that day. On the 20th General Lee came up with a train of supplies for us, and a force of cavalry.
On the 21st of October we moved out towards Opelousas. After a march of a few miles we ran against a force of rebels. We formed our line of battle and after a good shelling from Nims’ battery, we advanced on them. They fell back without showing much resistance.
We marched through Opelousas and went into camp at Bear’s Landing on Bayou Tableaux. Our cavalry had a skirmish with the 2nd Louisiana, killing five men and capturing several prisoners. We found better water than we had drunk since we left New Orleans.
On the morning of the 23rd, we built a pontoon. Our cavalry and forage train crossed over and went out about eight miles. They captured eleven prisoners and brought back wagons loaded with sweet potatoes and other forage, besides driving back a bunch of beef cattle.
We lay here until the morning of the 29th when we marched back to Opelousas. Here we met our second brigade commanded by Colonel Slack. On the morning of the 30th, three companies of our regiment were sent out on a foraging expedition. We had traveled about three miles when we met two cavalrymen coming in as fast as their horses could run. They stopped long enough to report that the rebels were in front of us in full force. They thought that their company had been taken prisoners.
By the time that we had moved ahead through a dashing shower of rain we came up to the grove where the enemy was reported to be. We met a company of cavalry, which proved to be our own men coming out. We went on out about eight miles, got our forage, and returned to camp without the loss of a man.
November 1st, 1863, we went back thirteen miles and went into camp on Carron Crow Bayou. We left General Burbridge’s brigade at Camp Fairview, as a rear guard. On the 3d they were attacked by nine thousand rebels. There was a general engagement. We could see the smoke rising up out of the timber, and could hear the heavy roar of the cannon and rattling musketry.
It is hard to describe the fearful thoughts that filled our minds while we were waiting for the order to go and aid them. But soon it came, “Move out Twenty-fourth on double quick time.” We had a run of about four miles before we stopped and formed our lines within eighty yards of the place where our retreating army was coming out of the timber. We could not open fire on account of our boys falling back. Here we were standing right in front, in danger.
Some negro cooks were shaking white rags from a low place into which they had crawled for protection. Two companies of Texas cavalry charged round our flank and went flying back to our camp. A section of Nims’ battery, which we had left at camp, and our sick soon sent them back about as fast as they went.
One of their number had charged through our lines, making a collision with our cavalrymen. His horse was killed and his leg was shattered to the hip. This brave man was a rebel, belonging to the Second Texas cavalry. I was an eye witness to the amputation of his leg. I never heard whether or not he recovered.
One man in our company was wounded while we stood here. We got here just in time to save our wagon train and the rest of Burbridge’s brigade from being captured. They were falling back rapidly, but were contending with the rebels to the last. This battle lasted about four hours. The tide had now turned and we drove the rebs back three or four miles, and then drew off. We marched back to camp at night.
On the 4th the dead were buried and the wounded cared for. Burbridge lost five hundred, killed, wounded and taken prisoners. The greater part of these belonged to the Sixty-seventh Indiana. We were all drawn back to Vermillion Bayou, where we joined the Nineteenth corps, commanded by General Franklin.
On the morning of the 6th we could see a heavy body of the rebels out on the prairie, near our pickets. We then began building rifle pits on the bank of the bayou. On the 11th we sent a brigade across to draw the rebels into a fight. Our men drove them back to Vermillionville, where they were reinforced. They followed our troops almost in range of our works. We opened up on them with two heavy batteries and they fell back. They were too smart to be drawn into a trap. The loss on both sides was slight, as this was simply an artillery duel.
On the 15th our entire force drew off and marched back seventeen miles. We went into camp on the shore of Lake Tias. This is a beautiful pool of water, three miles wide and nine miles long, with timber all along the edge. We had a strong rear guard all day, as the rebels were in sight.
On the 16th we marched to New Iberia, five miles distant, and went into camp. The Confederate army kept pretty well up on our track. On the 18th a force of them was in sight of our picket line. On the 19th our regiment crossed the bayou and got lumber to build winter quarters.
At four o’clock on the morning of November 29th, 1863, we got orders to fall in line and march out. After a march of an hour we heard the rattling of musketry. We charged on double quick time. Just as we got into the fight the rebels surrendered. Our cavalry had surrounded them and had done the work for them.
We marched eleven officers and one hundred and nine privates into camp as prisoners of war. Our regiment was formed in hollow square and was given three cheers. The sound traveled for miles on the still morning air, and then the echo came back. Thus ended the battle of Lake Tias.
On the 21st our company was sent out on picket guard. The remainder of the regiment went out with a foraging train. After they had traveled about ten miles, they met three hundred mounted rebels, but they seeing that our boys meant business, pulled off, and gave our boys the right of way.
When they had loaded our wagon train with forage to its full capacity the boys returned to camp.
On the 22d our cavalry captured fifty prisoners. They were not organized in the rebel army, but called themselves “The Boat-burners.” That day was Thanksgiving and all the officers made speeches.
On the 24th we went out with some foraging trains and had a regular stampede. December 1st, 1863, we heard heavy cannonading at a distance. Our cavalry and two batteries were having an engagement with the rebels. They drove the rebels back to Vermillion Bayou, but there they met the main rebel army and our little force had to draw off and skip back.
On the 2d our cavalry went to St. Martinsville. They ran into a squad of home guards who were armed with shot guns. Our men drove them back and captured several prisoners. On the morning of the 4th we rafted lumber across the bayou and began building our winter quarters.
On the 7th the Nineteenth corps moved off for Brasier City and left us. On the 18th we drew a new stand of colors which was presented to the Twenty-fourth Indiana by Governor O. P. Morton. In the evening we went out foraging. We returned, both wagons and men loaded down with as much sugar as they could carry. The boys had just put all of the kettles to use in making candy when the order came to cook rations for a hard day’s march on the morrow.
On the 19th we marched twenty-five miles, en route to New Orleans. We went into camp on the edge of the bayou. On the 20th we marched seventeen miles and went into camp at Centerville. On the 21st we marched through Pattersonville. After a distance of twenty miles had been traveled, we went into camp at Berwick, opposite Brasier City.
On the morning of the 22d we crossed the bay, boarded a train and reached Algiers at six p. m. We got off of the cars and went into camp. This was one of the worst camp grounds that we had ever pitched a tent on. It had been raining almost every day, and the mud was knee deep all over the camp.
A report was circulated that we were going to cross the gulf, and just at that time a call was made for veteran volunteers. Two-thirds of our regiment re-enlisted.
Not over six men in each company were left in camp to do camp duty, as the boys had taken up quarters in New Orleans.
January 1st, 1864, we were sworn into the veteran corps and “The most of us drank stone blind, while Johnnie filled up the bowl.” We now had the times of our lives—those of us who had been spared.
Right here was a change, as we had placed ourselves under obligations for three years longer, if needed. We lay here in the rain and mud, no one knew what for.
On the 8th we drew our veteran bounty and our non-veterans were transferred to the Eleventh Indiana. When we parted with them it was like parting with brothers, but soon there was something to draw our attention from this.
It was a thirty day furlough, at home, where we could see our loved ones, whose loving arms had not clasped us to their tender hearts for so many long, weary days.
On the 14th we got on board the steamer “J. C. Swan.” We crossed over to New Orleans, and had quite a time getting all of the rest of the boys on board. On the morning of the 15th we searched the town over and gathered them up. We found some in the guard house. Several were getting somewhat tough, and were having a gay time.
On the morning of the 16th all on board, we pulled out for our homes. We were happy and in good spirits, for we now thought that we would see our friends once more.
We passed through Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana. This is a nice little city, situated on the east bank of the Mississippi river. On the 17th we passed through Port Hudson and landed at Natchez to unload some freight.
On the 18th we passed Vicksburg. It still bore the signs and marks of the terrible struggle during the siege. On the 20th we passed Lake Providence and Napoleon, and arrived at Helena just at dark. On the 21st we passed Memphis, and on the 22d we passed Fort Pillow. On the 23d we ran past Island No. 10 and Columbus. We reached Cairo, Illinois, at dark. We had been seven days traveling about one thousand, one hundred miles, but we had had to tie up part of the time on account of the fog and high winds.
At twelve o’clock that night we boarded a train on the Illinois Central. We got to Mattoon, Illinois, at four o’clock on the evening of the 24th. Here we changed cars and took the Big Four railroad for Indianapolis, Indiana. We reached that city on the morning of the 25th.
On the 26th the ladies of Indianapolis gave us a grand reception and as good a dinner as we had eaten in many a day. This was served at the Soldiers’ Home. Here we met the Seventeenth and Forty-fourth Indiana veterans. In the afternoon we all marched down to the State House, where Governor Morton, General Hovey and other officers gave addresses. They gave the Indiana veterans much praise and honor. Three cheers also went up for them.
There was a great time that evening, as many of the boys had friends who had come there to meet them.
On the morning of the 27th our furloughs were all made out and we disbanded, going in different directions to our homes, where we would be free for thirty days. It seemed like we were living in a new world, as all was joy and happiness. There was rejoicing in many homes, but there was sorrow and mourning in many more homes, because of loved ones, who lay beneath the sod on some battle field in Dixie Land. These would never return to their homes and friends.
I boarded a train on the Indianapolis and Jeffersonville road. I changed cars at Seymour and ran to Mitchell in Lawrence county. From there I went on the Monon road to Lancaster. I reached my home on the 29th of January, 1864.
We spent many happy hours in the company of friends and loved ones, yet some of our boys met with trouble and were killed by their enemies at home. These were members of the order that were called “The Knights of the Golden Circle.” Their emblem was a butternut pin. They supported the cause of the Confederacy.
Ambrose Parish, of Company G, was killed by a man named McCart. Two of the boys who lived west of Paolia were killed.
Our stay at home soon passed away and on the 29th of February we all met at Vincennes and reported to the captains of our respective companies. The boys were all pretty wild. They tore up a printing press and scattered the type all over the street. The owner skipped for his life. It was reported that he published a rebel paper, but I think that he learned a lesson.
We got on board a train and went to Evansville. There we found a good supper, which had been prepared by the ladies of the town. It was relished, as we all had good appetites.
On the morning of March 2d, 1864, we drew tents and marched out of town one and a half miles. We went in camp on the top of a hill near the coal mine. Almost all of the boys ran off and went back home. The officers were having a good time and we thought that we would have a time too. Often there were not enough in camp for a string guard.
On the 9th of March we drew our guns and equipage and began getting ready for business. At four p. m. we had dress parade for the first time in many days. On the 17th we marched into town and had a grand dress parade. This was a sight for some of the citizens, and the most of them came out to see us perform.
On the 23d we had battalion drill, and in the evening we were called in line by Major Grill. He took us to the brewery and said, “I am going to treat my mans if dey vill be good mans and stay in camp mit me.” We all marched past the beer kegs, cup in hand. Some of the boys, after drinking their beer, fell back in the rear and marched past the kegs again, getting another drink, and some got several cupfuls of the liquor.
After several kegs had been emptied the Major noticed that some had emptied several cups. He roared out. “Stop dat you mans! You haf done already had enough.” Some of them certainly had plenty.
After the Major had paid out ten or twelve dollars to treat the boys, to keep them in camp, about twenty-five of them slipped out that night and went home.
On the morning of the 25th we were ordered on board the steamer “Joseph Pierce” and started down the river. We were hailed at Paducah the next morning. A force of rebels under General Forest had charged in and set fire to our commissary stores. The town was a cloud of smoke. They had charged on our fort, which was manned by a few guards, and the invalids. They were repulsed and had fallen back out of town, but they had had enough of it and failed to make the second attack. We lay here until eight o’clock, then ran on down the river.
At Cairo we met some veteran troops on their way home. Among them was the Eighth Iowa, or Eagle regiment. They were all rejoicing because of getting to go home. We ran down to Columbus. Here they were making preparations and looking for Forest’s army, but they did not come.
We ran on down to the mouth of White river in Arkansas. Here a squad of guerrillas fired into our boat. They killed one man in Company F. We arrived at New Orleans, April 3d, 1864.
On the 4th we got off of the boat and went into quarters in the First Louisiana Cotton Press. We were kept in under a heavy guard and the boys were angry, as they wanted to get out and run at large over the city.
On the 12th we received a month’s pay. At three p. m. we got marching orders. We boarded a gulf steamer and went up the river one hundred twenty miles. We got off at Baton Rouge, and went into camp on the south side of town.
Here we received news of Banks’ defeat at Sabine Cross Roads. General Green’s brigade made a charge on our ironclads, but were repulsed with a heavy loss. While at this camp two men of our regiment were wounded owing to the carelessness of a recruit while he was cleaning his gun.
May 2d three regiments and the Fourth Wisconsin cavalry, with the Black Horse battery, went towards Clinton on a scout. At night we halted and went into camp. The next morning at eight o’clock we ran into the enemy, and had a sharp little fight. We drove them back to Olive Branch Church. Our loss in this fight was two killed and four wounded. The Major of the Fourth Wisconsin was killed. We reached camp the 4th. On the morning of the 8th a salute was fired and the body of the Major of the Fourth Wisconsin cavalry was escorted to the boat and sent to his home to be buried.
On the 9th quite a skirmish took place on the picket line. On the 21st we drew two months’ pay and one installment of our bounty.
On the 16th of June we were inspected by Major General Sickles. The weather now was very warm, and our picket duty and drill kept us busy. We had plenty of watermelons to eat, and if one had the money, he could buy all of the luxuries of life. Nothing of importance happened until August 3d, 1864.
At that time a detail of sixteen picked men was sent out five miles east of camp to guard five hundred acres of cotton that was being raised by yankees. The government was to get a part of the cotton. We slipped out after night and about eleven o’clock came to the negro quarters. Thinking that we were rebels they skipped in all directions. There were all sorts, sizes and colors of them. They soon found out their mistake, and came back and cooked for us.
We moved our line down into the edge of the timber, one mile from quarters. The third evening two spies passed out through our line. They were dressed in female attire. Soon after the last one passed we could see some rebel cavalry about three miles distant. We drew off and had a run for our lives. They overtook us at our cavalry post and we had a skirmish. Two of our men were killed.
On the 4th we lay in line of battle all night. On the morning of the 7th at four o’clock, we were ordered into line and formed our line of battle on our picket line. Some of our non-veterans—who had come back to our regiment—raised a racket, as it was time for them to be discharged, but they had to face the music. They moved off on a boat in the afternoon, as they were anxious to get home and did not want to be killed after they had served out their three years’ faithful time.
The rebel army was threatening us every day, although several of them were coming in and taking the oath of allegiance.
On the 15th of August, 1864, our regiment was assigned to the Second brigade of the Third division, in the Nineteenth corps. On the 16th at eleven a. m., we struck tents and marched on board the steamer “Starlight.” We landed at Morganza Bend at seven o’clock. On the morning of the 14th we ran up the river two miles above the fort.
We got off of the boat and went into camp. We lay here until the morning of the 21st, when we struck tents and marched down the river five miles to join our brigade. September 6th, at two a. m., we were ordered on board the steamer “Chouteau.” We ran down to Bayou Saira, where one of our boats had been fired into by a rebel battery.
Our force, which consisted of two white regiments and one colored regiment, got off of the boats early in the morning, and marched out through St. Francisville. After a rapid march of five miles, we ran into a rebel camp, but the occupants had all skipped, except four, which we made prisoners of war. We returned to our boats, and at four o’clock got back to our camp at Morganza.
On the 12th a salute was fired on account of a victory which had been gained. It was the surrender of Forts Morgan, Gains and Powell, the defenses of Mobile. This let us through the pass. Companies B and K of our regiment were sent on board the ironclad Ozark on duty. We had almost all of the citizens in this parish protected by safeguards. The rebels took these men prisoners, and captured their horses. Our General gave them to understand that if they were not returned that that parish would be destroyed by fire. They thought that he meant it, and they came in with a flag of truce and delivered them up. But we failed to furnish any more guards to guard rebel property.
On the evening of the 16th we marched out to Bayou Atchafayala. We were in the Second brigade, which numbered two thousand, eight hundred. Our commander was Colonel Spicely.
A rebel force of three thousand men and nine heavy guns were posted on the opposite side of the bayou, behind the levee. We charged up at two o’clock that night and took possession of the levee. The rebels all along the line opened fire on us. We were running against a solid sheet of fire, and the air was full of cannister, but we got there all the same.
We lay here skirmishing all day. The hot sun came down on us and we had no water or food, but we could not get back until night. At night we drew off and marched back to camp. We had four men wounded. The rebel loss was three killed and seven wounded.
On the evening of the 19th another expedition was planned. Some of us were to go out against the rebels at Atchafayala at night. Our brigade was chosen to try them again. In addition we took with us two good batteries. After a rapid march of fourteen miles we came near the bayou.
At four o’clock in the morning we went to work planting our batteries and protecting them with redoubts. The two cavalries kept up a skirmish all day, but we failed to get a reply from the rebels’ batteries. They had disappeared. Our batteries threw shells a mile into the timber, and our infantry and cavalry began crossing over.
That evening we crossed over in yawls, which were hauled for that purpose. The cavalrymen swam their horses over. We had no resistance. We could see a small force of rebels hurrying from behind the levee when we started to cross. These had been left as guards. The main armies evacuated their works. They had left four hundred beef cattle, which fell to our possession. They were guarded by three hundred rebel cavalrymen, but they skipped out.
We marched up the bayou two and a half miles and captured three prisoners who had been left out on picket duty. Seeing that the enemy had all disappeared, we marched back to the place where we had crossed the bayou. Here we went into camp.
Soon everyone was busy, preparing himself a good square meal, as almost all of the boys had a good piece of fresh meat. There was pork, mutton, chicken, goose, or almost any kind of meat that one could mention. The odor of the fried meat soon filled the air, and many hungry boys were working hard to satisfy their gnawing appetites.
At night several buildings were set on fire, thus causing a false alarm. Some of the officers thought that we were going to have a night attack. One of the fires was a large mill. We fell in line of battle, but soon found out our mistake. We then went back to bed, some of the boys swearing because of their night’s rest being disturbed.
All was well on the morning of the 21st, so we started out on a foraging expedition. We were soon loaded down with fowl and all kinds of meat and went back to camp. In the evening we learned that the rebel force had fallen back about eighteen miles to Yellow Bayou. We decided to not follow them any farther.
On the morning of the 22d we crossed the bayou, marched one mile, and went into camp near where the colored troops were building fortifications. Late in the evening our cavalry, which had been out on a scout, returned. They had burned and destroyed a great deal of property, and had captured three prisoners. Several negroes were following them. These had stuck fire to their quarters, and had started for the land of freedom.
On the morning of the 23d we began our march back to the bend. We arrived at camp at five o’clock in the evening. We found Companies B and K of our regiment in camp. They had been relieved from the ironclad.
On the 26th of August our regiment escorted General Lawler to Baton Rouge. We went on the steamer “Laurel Hill.” We got to the city at noon. We got off of the boat and marched up to our old parading ground. We were led by our regimental band, one of the best in the army. Here we stacked arms to await further orders. We were acquainted with many of the citizens, and were treated very well by them. At four o’clock we got on board the boat and went back to camp.
October the 1st, 1864, three regiments marched out to Atchafayala. We found a small force of rebels. After a slight engagement, we drove them off and returned to camp.
On the morning of the 2d a small force, with Colonel Spicely, went to St. Francisville. Here they had an engagement with the rebel general, Scott’s cavalry, and two batteries. They had to fall back to the gunboats for help. The gunboats shelled them back until our little force got on the boats and drew off. They then returned to camp. Our loss was four. The rebel loss was unknown.
On the morning of the 7th, a brigade, with Colonel Spicely in command, went back to try them again, but Scott was too sharp for us. He had slipped out and had taken other quarters, unknown to us.
On the morning of the 9th a detail was called out to guard a train of wagons. They were going after lumber with which to build winter quarters. We found the lumber at Echo Office, on General Scott’s plantation, which is near Point Coupee. We loaded the wagons and returned to camp.
In the evening a body of rebels came into our camp, bearing a flag of truce. They had come to turn over some arms and horses which they had captured from our safeguards. The citizens were getting tired of having so much of their property burned down, in retaliation of their guerrilla warfare. They also wanted two rebel officers, who had shot their lieutenant and then had come to our camp for protection.
Late in the evening our troops who had gone out to Atchafayala, returned to camp. They had had a sharp fight, losing fifteen men in killed and wounded. The rebel loss was not known, as the bayou separated the two armies. On the morning of the 10th we got on board the steamer “Chouteau”. We ran fifty miles up the river, near Fort Adams. The rebels were trying to swim cattle, which they had driven from Texas, across the river. They were trying to get them to Lee’s army. Our gunboats had thrown shell into the herd, killing a great many of the cattle.
On the morning of the 11th we marched off of the boat and marched out into a swamp. We lay in ambush all day at this place. After darkness had set in, we marched back on to the boat. On the morning of the 12th we marched out on track of the rebels. Their herd of cattle had left a good trail. We went to Black Pass. Here we captured two wagons and six prisoners. Two of them were officers. We marched back as far as Swamp Bayou. On the morning of the 13th we returned to the boat. We were all tired and hungry, for we were out of rations, and nothing grew in this swampy place, except alligators and snakes.
At three p. m. we got on the boat and started back down the river. We landed and at ten o’clock we were in our quarters. Here we learned that some sharp skirmishing had been going on since we left camp.
On the morning of the 18th we sent out a force from the bend consisting of two batteries, two thousand cavalrymen, and one thousand, six hundred infantry, to Sims’ Port, on the Atchafayala Bayou. They ran into the rebel force, drove them back and returned to camp, on the 20th.
On the 22d a wagon train was sent out after wood. It was guarded by two companies of the Second New York cavalry. They were surprised by a small force of rebels and captured. There were also twenty-two negroes, four of whom were killed. There was a force of our cavalry at the bend. They pursued the rebels, but did not catch up with them.
On the 23d heavy cannonading was heard from our gunboats on Red river, and we could see great clouds of smoke. On the 28th a national salute was fired over news received of a victory gained in the East by Sheridan’s troops.
In the evening of the 28th a brigade marched out to Atchafayala. They found no enemy and returned to camp that night. On the 31st a large detail and a train of wagons went after lumber with which to build winter quarters.
On the 1st of November all of our brigade except the Twenty-fourth Indiana, was sent out on an expedition. They ran up the river near the mouth of White river. On the 7th our regiment, the Twenty-fourth Indiana, embarked oh the steamer “Ohio Belle,” and ran up the river fifteen miles to where the gunboat “Ozark” was stationed. We got off and marched six miles out through the country. This is the most broken country which we were in while in Louisiana.
We found plenty of women on this trip, but no men. Almost all of the women claimed to be widows. One old Irish lady gave one of the boys a good cursing. She said that he was not a genteel Irishman or he would not be caught in the d—— yankee army. She also said that her husband was a genteel man and was captain of a company in the Second Louisiana regiment.
Our officers gave orders for the boys to not take off more geese and chickens than they could carry. While the old lady was swearing around the boys soon had her geese, turkeys and chickens divided up between themselves. The fellow that could run the fastest got the most.
We started back to the boat loaded down with poultry. It rained on the way back, making our march very disagreeable. We captured two prisoners on the return to the boat. We marched at will and were badly scattered. We got to the boat about sunset. It was a sight to be remembered to look back and see our straggling boys coming down the long slope to the river, loaded down with flopping geese and squalling chickens.
We got on the boat and landed at the bend at ten o’clock that night. On the 23d two hundred rebel cavalrymen made a dash on our picket line, half a mile from camp. The colored troops were stationed at this place. The rebels killed a white lieutenant and six negroes and left. They also made a dash on the lower part of our picket line. Here they killed two of our white soldiers and then made their escape to the rear.
November 27th we had grand review by General Ulman. Nothing more of importance, except camp duty and drill, occurred until December 11th, 1864, when the captain of gunboat number fifty-three of our Mosquito Fleet, while the boat was near Hog’s Point, went on shore and was killed by guerrillas.
We were immediately called upon to fit up an army to go on an expedition, and scour and destroy all of the country for twenty miles around that vicinity. The troops that were fitted up were the Twenty-fourth and Sixty-seventh Indiana, three companies of colored troops and two companies of cavalry, accompanied by four gunboats. We were under the command of Colonel W. T. Spicely.
We went twenty-five miles to Hog’s Point, where the cavalry and colored troops got off and marched down Old river. We went on down one mile and turned into the mouth of Old river. We went up twenty miles, near to the place where our cavalry was scouring the country. We landed and sent large details on shore to confiscate and burn all of the property in that vicinity.
At four o’clock our entire force got off and marched six miles out through the country, in the direction of the Cutoff. We set fire to all of the buildings and captured several horses, mules, and cattle. Here we went into camp and foraging parties were sent out in all directions. This was a very rich country and was settled mostly by the French. The boats were soon loaded to the guard with horses, hogs, cattle, sugar, molasses, and poultry of every description. We were learning them a lesson for their sneaking guerrilla warfare. Taking the life of one of our captains had cost them thousands of dollars.
On the morning of the 16th a detail was sent to guard the boats and the remainder of the force marched through by land to Morganza Bend. After we had marched fifteen miles, at nine o’clock we got to the camp. At ten the boats got to the bend and landed.
We almost got into a scrap over the private forage. Colonel Spicely and the provost marshall had some hard words over the boys’ chickens, pork, and other private forage which they were bringing to camp. General, the provost marshall, and his colored guards, marched down to take possession of our well-supplied boats. While Spicely and the General were parleying, the boys were getting their forage off of the boats by the means of skiffs, and several barrels of molasses were rolled down through the wheel house. Our boys were getting a little stirred up over the colored provost guards, and we all expected trouble, but we were mistaken.
We had regimental inspection on the 18th. On the 19th of December the Twenty-fourth and Sixty-seventh Indiana were consolidated and formed a battalion. On the 21st several officers of the Sixty-seventh were mustered out of service and sent home.
December 24th, 1864, we received marching orders. We got on board a boat and started for Baton Rouge. We arrived there at two o’clock. On the morning of the 25th we got off of the boat and went into camp on our old camp ground. We relieved two regiments from guard duty, whose time had expired, and they started home at two p. m. We had grand review that day. That was a dry Christmas for us, but we kept up a little fun just the same.
On the evening of the 29th we received marching orders, struck tents, and marched on board the “Laurel Hill.” We landed at New Orleans on the morning of the 30th and reported to General Hulbert. We got orders to run up to Carrollton. Here we disembarked, marched out one mile on the Shell Road and pitched our camp.
January 5th, 1865, we drew four months’ pay and one installment of our bounty. On the 11th we were reviewed by Lieutenant Colonel Smith at two p. m. We received orders and marched to Kennerville on the 19th. We went into camp and had such bad rainy weather that we had to wade around camp in mud that was knee deep.
On the 24th we received marching orders. Every one rejoiced because we were all tired of that mud hole. At four p. m. we marched on board the steamship “Corinthian,” which was bound for Pensacola, Florida. On the morning of the 25th we ran to the gulf, the distance being one hundred miles. As we pulled out of the mouth of the river the waves were rolling a great deal, and several of our boys got very sick and almost threw up their socks. After we had sailed an hour, the water became smooth and we glided along very nicely.
We ran in sight of our gunboat fleet which was anchored at the mouth of Mobile Bay. At ten p. m. we cast anchor in Pensacola Bay, near Fort Pickens, Florida.
The morning of the 26th brought to view some grand sights in that mild tropical climate that were new to us. There stood two large forts. Fort Pickens and Fort Barancas with their monstrous guns pointing out through many embrasures. There also stood the lighthouse towering up two hundred eighty-four feet above sea level.
We hoisted anchor and ran over to the wharf. We got off of the vessel, marched out eight miles, and went into camp near Fort Redoubt, which is below the city of Pensacola, Florida. This was a beautiful, sandy shore beach covered with a pine forest.
At eight o’clock the left wing of our battalion came in on the ship “St. Mary.” On the morning of the 27th the balance of our brigade, commanded by General Andrews, came in, and we all moved out one mile and went into camp.
All of the regiments were lined up in camp, making a fine show of camp life. Each company went to work and ornamented their quarters with evergreen and white and yellow sand, writing numbers and names in the white sand with the yellow sand. This was the most magnificent camp that I ever saw. There were pictures of animals, birds, and all kinds of flowers in front of our tents.
We lay here until February 11, 1865, with nothing to do except to have battalion drill four hours each day. The remainder of the time we put in by wading out in the bay and carrying out shoulder loads of oysters. We were having a good time then, but we did not know when the storm would come, although we did know that come it would.
We had protracted meeting and several marched down in the bay and were baptized.
On the 12th we had grand review by General Granger. We had no more drill after the 16th. One day a salute of eleven shots was fired over the arrival of General Asboth.
On the 17th and 18th we had target shooting, and in the evening Generals Asboth and Andrews came over to see the Twenty-fourth Indiana perform on dress parade. On the 29th a brigade came in and we sent our baggage and camp equipage over to Fort Pickens. This fort mounted two hundred eighty heavy pivot guns. This is the place where Major Brown held against General Bragg’s army at the commencement of the war. I was in the lookout, two hundred eighty feet above the sea level. One can see for miles over that vast blue water. Two ships came in with a battery on each vessel.
March 8th we received marching orders, but lay here until the morning of the 11th. At six o’clock we marched out through the peninsula, and after traveling twelve miles came to the town of Pensacola. This had the appearance of a nice city, but fire had consumed the most of the buildings.
At four o’clock we moved out near Jackson’s old fortifications and went into camp. This is the place from where General Jackson marched his troops to New Orleans and whipped General Packenham, in the year 1812.
On the 15th we had our camp in good shape again, and we had dress parade in the evening. Fifty rebel cavalrymen made a dash on our cavalry outpost and drove them back. General Andrews happened to be out in the advance and they made him cut dirt to get back to our main lines.
On the fifth we drew five days’ rations and began marching at six o’clock. On the morning of the 20th five thousand cavalrymen came from Barancas. They passed us and took the advance. We marched in the direction of Pollard on the Mobile and Atlanta railroad. The country was low and swampy, covered with a pine forest. We had a time getting our train and batteries through. Many of them mired down and had to be pulled out by hand.
After a march of twelve miles, tired and worn out, we went into camp. That night we could hear the roar of the cannon at Fort Spanish, near Mobile. A heavy rain poured down all night, and it was still raining the next morning. We marched out five miles and went into camp, as all of our wagon trains and batteries had been left in the rear mired down. Some of them were almost out of sight in the mud. A heavy detail was sent back to build corduroy roads and bring them up.
Our pioneer corps was at work in front, constructing a bridge across a bayou. Several of the boys in different regiments were killed by falling trees while they were cutting trees with which to build the roads. In some places the logs laid three tiers deep to hold our batteries out of the mire.
At two p. m. on the 22d the rain ceased falling, and the weather became clear. Here two regiments of cavalry and two brigades of colored troops passed us on their way to the front.
We began marching at ten o’clock on the morning of the 23d. After a distance of twelve miles had been marched, we went into camp. Here our cavalry had run into a small force of rebels. They had quite a skirmish, but drove the rebs back. We lay in camp on the 24th waiting for a bridge to be built so that we could cross Piney Barren. At six o’clock we crossed over, moved out two miles and went into camp.
On the morning of the 25th at seven o’clock we began our march. After a march of two hours we ran into a rebel force of about four thousand, commanded by General Clayton. Our cavalry and mounted infantry charged them, and after forty minutes’ hard fighting, the rebel force fell back. They were all mounted troops. We followed them, and our advance kept up a continual skirmish until three o’clock. The rebels then formed in line of battle and made a stand. Our cavalry made a grand charge. We came up as a support. The rebels, seeing that we meant business, fell back and were soon on full retreat, across the Escanby river. They set the bridge on fire and tried to make a stand, but Nims’ battery made it too hot for them and they soon fell back. Some in our cavalry were drowned in trying to cross the river after them.
We captured one hundred, forty-two prisoners. Their loss in killed and wounded was twenty, ours fifteen. Their general was wounded in the first charge.
At four thirty p. m. we went into camp on the advance line. We were all very tired, as we had driven the rebels eighteen miles that day. On the 25th our brigade crossed the railroad bridge. We had to march single file and it took some time to cross, but after two hours had elapsed we were all across and standing on Alabama soil.
We began marching at eight o’clock, and in a few hours we came to the little town of Pollard. A few straggling rebels were in town, but they did not stay to see what we wanted. A great deal of tobacco was captured at this place, and the depot and several warehouses were set on fire, making quite an excitement.
The women in this place came out by scores to see the yankee army. They were surprised, and some of them said, “Youalls is the best lookin’ set of men that weuns ever seen. Mr. Davis told weuns that youalls wore little red coats and had horns like cattle.”
This was the most ignorant set of girls that we had met in the southern Confederacy. All of them chewed and smoked tobacco. Each one had a reticule, filled with tobacco, hanging on her arm. They were dressed in home-spun dresses and were barefooted. Our boys had more than a little fun out of them. Quite a number of grown girls started to follow us off, and our major had to drive them back. Enlightened America, where was the ignorance of these good people hedged in at, at this late date of our civilized government?
After the depot had been burned and a mile of railroad track torn up and burned we moved out two miles and went into camp. We were all tired after our march of fourteen miles.
On the 27th a detachment of cavalry, which had gone by the way of Evergreen Station, came into camp and reported. They had captured one hundred forty prisoners and two trains loaded with tobacco. This they burned. We began marching at twelve o’clock, our regiment detailed as train guard. After a fourteen mile march in the direction of Mobile we went into camp.
At one o’clock on the morning of the 28th heavy details were sent out to build corduroy roads. We were out of rations and had to move on. We went into camp, nine miles farther on. The cavalry and colored troops passed us on the way to the front. The Ninety-seventh Illinois lost one man by a tree falling on him.
We began marching at six o’clock. Our regiment was building roads. It began raining, making the roads terrible. We marched only nine miles and went into camp at six p. m. We were tired and very hungry, as we were out of rations. On the morning of the 30th we began marching at seven o’clock. We reached better roads after a half day’s march. We went into camp at seven o’clock. One company of cavalry was sent out to the Alabama river. They captured twelve prisoners and returned.
On the morning of the 31st, at six o’clock, we marched out over a very rough, broken country. At half past five we crossed the Tennsas river and went into camp. We were very tired, as we had marched almost twenty miles with but little to eat.
April 1st, 1865, we marched at eleven a. m. We traveled six miles and halted. We tore up the railroad track quite a distance. We could hear heavy cannonading in front. We completed our work and marched on. We went into camp at seven p. m. Our cavalry captured eighty prisoners and a stand of colors belonging to the Forty-sixth Mississippi. Here we drew quarter rations.
On the morning of April 2d, 1865, we heard heavy cannonading in front. We began marching at eleven o’clock, and when we had gone six miles we came in range of the enemy’s heavy batteries and ironclad gunboats, which lay at Tennsas Bay. We advanced at two p. m., under a heavy rain of shot and shell. We moved up and formed in line of battle with a loss of one man in Company E killed.
We now formed our lines around Fort Blakely, one of the strong defenses of Mobile. Our troops were stationed under a heavy artillery fire from forts and gunboats, on the lines as follows: Our colored division was placed on the right (several of them were going to the rear with bloody heads) next to the bay; our division commanded by C. C. Andrews, came in next on the line; and Osterhos, Carr, and Veach were to our left.
We were furnished with shovels and soon went down into the earth like moles. The laziest man that lives will work under circumstances like these. The rebel forts mounted some very large Brooks rifles, which threw thirty-two to one hundred eighty-four pound shots. They also had three ironclad gunboats.
Our force, which was commanded by General Granger, was at Fort Spanish, seven miles to our left. There had been fighting there for several days. We could hear our fleet bombarding at night. The jar from the heavy guns almost shook the ground. But we also had plenty here to draw our attention.
April 3d, 1865, we strengthened our earthworks all along the line. Our artillery was not in position yet, but our sharpshooters kept up a lively racket. A continual roar was still kept up by our gunboats and heavy guns at Fort Spanish. Colonel Spicely and three out of our regiment were wounded that day. This was the first time since we had left Pensacola that we drew full rations.
On the 4th we heard heavy fighting at Fort Spanish. Our land forces were making it hot for them and charging was going on. We could hear them cheering all around their lines.
On the 5th there was sharp fighting all along our lines. Two men were killed and one wounded in our regiment. We tried to advance our rifle pits. At night our company moved forward one hundred yards to establish a new line.
On the morning of the 6th our batteries being in position, opened on the rebels. They did not reply for some time, but when they did let loose it was a sight. The air was full of iron and one could see the dirt and limbs of trees flying in all directions. There was a solid crash and roar from the big guns on the rebel forts.
On the 7th, at four a. m., our company took position in the advance pits. We were advancing our works well. I was one of the three vedettes who were stationed in the extreme advance, two hundred yards from the fort and eighty yards from the rebel sharpshooters. During the day five bullets cut the sod above the loop hole through which we were shooting, but we escaped their deadly message. After dark we crawled out and advanced fifty yards and established other pits. But we discovered just now that we were running into a nest of torpedoes, and they were dangerous things to dig around.
We were relieved at nine p. m. At twelve our artillery opened all along the line, and the rebels soon replied. The two artilleries had quite a duel.
On the morning of the 8th there was a general engagement all around the line. Some heavy shells which were thrown by the rebels’ gunboat fell in the rear of our rifle pits. They went ten feet into the ground and exploded, throwing up a cloud of dust and leaving quite a hole in the ground. We had a simple recruit in our company by the name of Murray. He jumped out of our pit and stepped up to the edge of the hole.
Captain Taylor called out, “Murray, get down from there! You will get your fool head blowed off.”
He answered. “Guess not. Captain; they can’t hit that hole again.”
But several more shots were put in too close to feel comfortable.
Four of our thirty-two pound Parrot guns, manned by the Twenty-first Indiana, had an hour’s engagement with two rebel gunboats. One of the boats was disabled and drew off down the bay. The other one took warning and did not stay long. Our regiment began digging quarters pits and received marching orders to go to Fort Spanish, but they were countered. We then lay in the pits all night and supported the Pioneers.
An assault was made on Fort Spanish at six o’clock in the evening. A desperate struggle, which lasted four hours, followed. General Granger’s brave boys then charged over the rebels’ strong fortifications and captured seven hundred prisoners and one hundred heavy guns. This put a damper on the rebel army at Blakely.
April 9th, 1865, everything was quiet in the fort. Some rumors were going that the rebels were evacuating the fort. At three o’clock all of us fell in line and moved into our advance rifle pit. The colored troops made a charge on our right, and the rebels opened concentrated fire on them. They were repulsed with heavy slaughter. They fell back to a deep hollow and were not able to make a second attack.
Our skirmish line was ordered to charge all along our lines at five o’clock. We had to go two hundred fifty yards, through three picket fences and over hundreds of torpedoes, to gain their main forts. I was on the skirmish line, and looking back, I saw our entire force coming, everyone trying to get across that field of death and destruction.
At first many brave comrades planted their colors on the rebel fortifications, to pitch over into the rifle pits, with a bullet crashing through their heads. Scores were blown out of existence by torpedoes. The air was full of cannister and minnie balls, but the work was short and decisive. As soon as the rebels found out that nothing would stop our determined assault they hoisted up white flags all along the line. But it was not before they were covered with the blood of brave boys who were shot and had fallen over into the pits on them.
This charge had lasted about fifty minutes. The rebel troops in front of the colored troops surrendered to our division, for they knew that the negroes would not show them any quarters, as they came up with the shout of “Fort Pillow,” and they continued to shoot at the rebels even after they raised the white flags.
The loss in our division was four hundred killed and wounded. The loss in our regiment was fifteen. Captain Merchant of Company G fell dead on the field. Colonel Spicely’s horse was blown up by a torpedo.
We captured four thousand prisoners and one hundred heavy Brooks’ cannon. Three thousand of the rebel troops had made their escape on trees felled across the swamp to the Sand Battery. It was about sunset when we got into the fort.
Three rebel ironclads were lying out in the bay, awaiting a barge load of marines who had been in the rifle pits. George Williamson, of our company, wheeled a little brass gun into position and fired a shell over the marines. It bursted forty feet too high, but it had the effect all the same. They came back to shore faster than they had gone out, with white flags fluttering in the air. The gunboats moved on down the bay towards the sand batteries.
Our regiment moved down and took charge of the commissaries, which were well supplied. Two old messmates, Clark and Tolliver and I saw the upper room lighted up. We went upstairs, and it proved to be the officers’ dining room. A colonel, for supper.
The table was the best supplied one that we had seen for months. There was chicken and other good things too numerous to mention.
Clark called out, “Hello, rebs! Thanks for your good supper. We are in need of something of that sort after a hard day’s work. Get out of here!”
They pleaded for more time but had to be contented to go with a piece in hand. Two of our soldiers came in and wanted the honor of capturing some officers. We turned the officers over to them and took our places at the table. We enjoyed as good a meal as we had eaten for months.
As I passed out and downstairs, I picked up a caddy of old Virginia tobacco to divide up with the boys at a dollar a plug.
The Sixteenth corps charged on our left. Their loss was not as heavy as ours. Several of them were blown up by torpedoes at night. On the morning of the 10th we marched out to where our quarters were on the line. We passed over that ragged battle field, and a rebel major and a squad of prisoners were raising torpedoes. They were as thick as pumpkins on new ground. They exploded several by means of a battery. There were long rows of them which were fastened together by wires.
Heavy bombarding was going at the sand batteries, which is about half way between Forts Blakely and Spanish. On the 11th we had general inspection. Heavy clouds of smoke were seen in the direction of Mobile. Much was going on at that place. The rebels evacuated the sand batteries and Mobile at eleven a. m., leaving all of their heavy guns and monitors of war in our possession.
We received marching orders at five p. m. and marched all night. After traveling a distance of thirteen miles we reached the landing below Fort Spanish. All was quiet now, except the cheering that went on over our great victories. Our recruiting officers returned and we got the news that Richmond had fallen into our possession April 2d, 1865, and the Stars and Stripes now waved over the southern Confederacy.
We lay here until the 14th of April, when we marched back to Blakely. On our way back we met some prisoners whom we had taken at Blakely. We went into camp inside the fort at two o’clock. On the evening of the 15th we had general inspection. Heavy details were at work, getting up all of the artillery and small arms which we had captured.
Sunday, the 16th, church was held throughout our entire army, and many prayers went up to God for his kindness in saving so many of our lives through the past butchery and hell.
On the 17th a national salute was fired over the success of our armies in the surrender of Forts Spanish, Blakely, Tracy, and Huger, which placed Mobile in our possession. We had also received the news of General Lee’s surrender. He surrendered to General Grant, April 9th, 1865 (the same time at which we captured Fort Blakely) at Appomattox Court House, in Virginia.
On the 19th one of our boys in Company G stepped on a torpedo, just outside of camp, and was blown up in the air fifteen feet. One leg was blown off, his ribs mashed in, and one arm shattered to the shoulder.
On the morning of the 20th we marched on board a boat and ran six miles down the bay to Mobile. We saw several torpedoes explode in the bay, throwing the water fifty feet high. We had several torpedo rakes at work knocking them off. The “St. Mary” had been blown up at the mouth of the pass which is known as Grant’s Pass. These monsters of destruction were planted all over the bay.
Our department was commanded by General E. S. Canby. The surrender of the defenses around Mobile were the last hard battles of the great Civil war.
On the evening of the 21st we went up above the city and anchored in the mouth of the Mobile river. At this place we first heard the news of the assassination of our beloved president, Abraham Lincoln. His life was taken by John Wilkes Booth, at Ford’s theater, on the night of April 14th, 1865. This sad news put a damper over our army. Our flags were all dropped to half-mast, and many of the boys shed tears and were mourning. These same boys had shouted themselves hoarse a few days before over our great victories, which aided in putting down the rebellion, for we well knew that peace was near at hand. The chief cornerstone of our American government had now been stilled for all time by the hands of a wicked assassin.
Two of our gunboats and thirteen transports, loaded with troops, had gathered at this place. On the morning of the 22d we pulled up the river to the mouth of the Tombigbee river, to await the arrival of the remainder of our fleet. Here we found one of our gunboats, lying on guard duty. During the day several flat boats loaded with citizens passed us on the way back to Mobile.
On the morning of the 23d we hoisted anchor and ran on up the Alabama river to Chocktaw Bluffs, which was sixty miles away. The rebels had had this place fortified, but had gone, leaving two heavy guns on the fort.
On the morning of the 24th we started on up the river and landed at Clayburn, sixty miles distant, at four p. m. We found some of our cavalry here, who had been left as safeguards. Three heavy guns had been planted at this place. We landed and the boys soon brought in plenty of pork and chickens for supper.
On the morning of the 25th we moved on up the river at six a. m. After we had gone seventy miles we anchored at nine o’clock. This is a beautiful country and has very large plantations. The colored troops got off of the boats here and marched through by land.
On the 26th we ran along by the side of the “Mustang” and drew rations, as this was a commissary boat. We passed Mattee’s landing at nine o’clock and Prairie Bluff at ten. We captured a flat boat, which was loaded with rebel supplies, and was trying to get away from our cavalry. Our advance boat was fired into by a squad of guerrillas and one man was killed. We landed, got off of the boats and found where their horses had just been fed, but now they were fleeing for safer quarters. We burned all of the buildings on several plantations.
We got on the boats and moved on up the river. Many dead rebel soldiers and horses floated past us during the day. They had been drowned at the time of Wilson’s raid. We landed at ten o’clock at night.
On the morning of the 27th we passed Cahawba, where we took three of our men from the rebels, who they had made prisoners. Some of the citizens of this place cheered our brave boys while they played national airs. We landed at Selma at two o’clock. We went into camp on the river bank opposite the town. This is a beautiful little town, situated on the bank of the Alabama river. The surrounding country is also very beautiful.
The boys went out and soon returned with plenty of good things to eat. We lay here until the morning of the 28th. We then broke camp, crossed the river and marched through the town. We went into camp near the rebel fortifications, which General Wilson’s cavalry had charged and captured a few days before. They had blown up the arsenal and burned many stores. They then continued on their raid, and went in the direction of Montgomery, the capital of the state. This was called Wilson’s Raid.
There had been strong fortifications around this arsenal, as we could see. Many heavy guns and hundreds of pounds of ammunition had been turned out of this arsenal. Many of the citizens were now coming in and taking the oath of allegiance to our government.
April 29th we sent a force out on a scout to look for rebels. They found several paroled prisoners whom Wilson had captured. April 30th we were mustered for eight months’ pay. In the evening a small force of rebels came in bearing a flag of truce. They were bringing provisions to their sick and wounded in the hospitals here. We were busy all day cleaning and straightening up our quarters.
May 3d, 1865, a general order was read at dress parade. It was as follows: “There will be a cessation of hostilities until further orders, by order of General E. S. Canby, commander of the Department of the Gulf, and there will be forty-eight hours’ notice given before going into hostilities again.”
On the 5th of May an official report said: “There will be no more fighting done east of the Mississippi.” That day cheering and music were kept up throughout our camps.
Dick Taylor had surrendered the last armed force east of the Mississippi to General E. S. Canby at Demopolis on the Tombigbee river. On the morning of the 6th a train of cars came in from Demopolis. This was the first train that we had seen for a long time. After this two trains ran each day.
On the morning of the 7th the prisoners who had been captured at Blakely came into camp and we gave them a good, square meal. They started on their way home, rejoicing. They claimed that we treated them better than the old southern planters, in dividing rations.
General Kirby Smith, with his command, skipped out for Mexico to join the French army, which was at war with Mexico. May 8th we had grand review by General C. C. Armstrong, the commander of our division.
On the morning of May 11th, 1865, we received marching orders and at seven a. m. we marched down to the river. We boarded the “Joab Lawrence” and started down the river. On the morning of the 12th we met several transports going after the remainder of our brigade.
On the morning of the 13th we landed at the city of Mobile. We marched out three miles, near the Mobile and Atlanta railroad. On the 15th we drew six months’ pay and one installment of bounty. May 18th we received an official report of the capture of Jeff Davis.
On the 25th one of the greatest explosions of the war took place in Mobile. One hundred tons of loose powder and all of the fixed shell and ammunition that had been turned over to the government was stored in the warehouses at the wharf. The colored troops were there on guard duty, but no one was left to tell how it was set off.
The explosion shook the ground for several miles. The loss was terrible. One thousand, two hundred people were killed and wounded. The most of them were colored troops and citizens. Several large boats, loaded with ammunition, went up with the explosion, or were set on fire and went down.
The buildings in eight blocks were leveled to the ground, and windows were jarred out for several blocks back in the city. The loss was estimated at five million dollars’ damage. Many of the dead and wounded were covered up in the ruins and burned. The fire lasted for three days, burning the wreck. It could not be extinguished on account of the bursting shells. They made a sound like the raging of a continuous battle. Several were killed with pieces of the shells while trying to put out the fire.
On the morning of the 27th we marched into the edge of town. We went into camp and relieved the Third brigade. They were mustered out of service and sent home. June 3d we were reviewed by Chief Justice Chase. On the 4th we marched on grand parade down to the city park. We went through the manual of arms and got the praise of making a splendid show-off. Our battalion was small and well drilled.
Our camp duty was cut down to two hours and dress parade at six p. m. each day.
On the evening of the 18th, while we were on dress parade, a thunder storm came up and just as we reached our quarters lightning struck one of the pine trees in our camp. William Edwards, of our company, was instantly killed. Some of the other boys were badly shocked. There were also some boys in an Iowa regiment who were killed. They were a mile from where we were in camp.
On the 22d the leader of our band, Alec Owens, returned to the regiment with a new set of silver instruments which he had purchased for the sum of seven hundred dollars. Company A had donated five hundred dollars on them, and we never regretted our gift. We were well paid with the music of those sweet-toned instruments.
On the 25th we received marching orders, struck tents, and moved down to the landing. The boys had some fun out of the citizens just as we marched out of camp. There was quite an explosion from a small cannon, which our boys had loaded and covered with old clothes. A fuse was left burning. Several of the citizens had gathered in and were picking out the best of the goods, when the pile was thrown high in the air. They did not stop to find out the cause, but it had its effect, and every one called out, “More torpedoes.”
We got on board the “Alice Vivian.” We ran down near Fort Gaines and ran alongside of the steamship “Hudson” and boarded it. We ran out between Forts Morgan and Gaines into the Gulf. On the evening of the 27th we passed in sight of the light house at Ship Shoals. On the morning of the 28th the wind blew a gale and the sea became very rough. Several of us were thinking about Jonah and the whale.
On the morning of the 29th we came up with our fleet and anchored near Galveston Bay. The sea continued to be rough and we could not land on account of the sand bars between the Gulf and the Bay. On the evening of the 30th, the water being smooth, three companies of our regiment got on a small schooner and ran into the bay. We landed at the wharf and got off and lay here all night. It seemed as though we were in motion all the time. The remainder of our regiment came in July 1st and we all marched through the city of Galveston, Texas. We went into camp on a beautiful sandy beach.
On the 2nd we had inspection of arms and dress parade at six p. m. On the morning of the 4th we marched through the city and all of the troops at this place met at the public square, where a national salute was fired. Speeches were made and prayers offered for the glory of our nation. We marched to camp by moonlight, our band playing the solemn tune, “Loved Ones at Home.”
On the 9th of July, our left wing, the old 67th Indiana, was mustered out of service and started home. Colonel Spicely, who had been temporarily commanding our brigade, went with them. He had well earned his star but he failed to get it. On the night of the 20th the officers all got on a big booze. We escorted Colonel Spicely and the 67th through town, put them on the ship, and started them home on the 21st of July, 1865.
Our battalion was now small. Almost half of them were on permanent guard duty and the remainder were doing patrol duty. On the 27th we moved our camp a short distance to clean up, as our family was now small. We were the only troops left to keep order and patrol the town.
Our battalion was now commanded by Captain Pollard of Company K. Nothing of importance now happened except guard mounting guard and dress parade. On the 28th we moved our quarters up to the east end of town, near the college and Catholic nunnery. Some of the boys had a good time trysting with the nuns at the fence. Others of the boys made good money by digging down fortifications and opening up the streets. We got all of the water that we used at the nunnery well.
October 1st we received a large amount of mail. There were many greetings and promises in those letters. We also received general orders to be mustered out of service, on the 27th of October, 1865.
November the 1st, our officers were all busy making out our pay rolls and discharge papers. The 48th Ohio relieved us from guard duty on the 4th and we turned over all of our camp equipage on the 14th.
The boys who wished to remain at that place were mustered out of service and started for New Orleans to get their pay and settle up with Uncle Sam. They left on the 15th. Several of them had gotten into trouble with the Golden Circle or Butternut organization, while at home on their furloughs and they did not wish to go back to Indiana.
On the 16th of November, 1865, the remainder of our battalion was mustered out of the U. S. service.
On the 17th, we marched down to the wharf, embarked on the Steamship “J. W. Everman,” to start down the home stretch. We took on six hundred barrels of coal and at one p. m. we ran out of the bay. While getting on board, one of our boys fell overboard. A Dutch teamster, by the name of Oose Yager, pitched a rope to him, and he was lucky enough to get hold of the end of it and Oose hauled away at it, in the meantime bawling out, “Hold to the wope! Hold to the wope!” This afterwards became a by-word. The poor fellow who fell overboard was saved from the sharks, as many of them were swimming around the ship.
The water was as smooth as glass and as blue as the sky, not a riffle was to be seen. Many huge sharks were keeping pace with the vessel. The sea gulls would light on the masts and flap their wings and chirp. All of the boys were filled with joy at the prospect of getting to see the loved ones at home once more. Some of them were feeling good from turning up their canteens too often. The sailors laughed and said, “You will change your tune before going to bed, for the darkest hours of life they say, come just before the brightest day.”
At six p. m. we saw a small black cloud which looked as if it were on top of the water. It soon seemed like mountains of snow were rolling toward us. The waves rolled fifty feet high. When they struck the vessel, the rudder came unshipped and we logged along, once more at the mercy of God.
The sailors went up to clear the deck, but some of our drinking boys, who were on deck drove them down and swore that they were running that craft and were going home. One could hear them yell, “Hold to the wope.” But it was a different scene down in the hull. Some were trying to pray and others were too sick to do anything but roll from one side of the vessel to the other and vomit.
That horrible night will never be forgotten by some of the boys of the old 24th Indiana. The morning of the 18th came and found our little wrecked vessel still wallowing in the foamy billows of that stormy deep. The storm had abated just a little. We knew not how far we had been carried from our course by the storm and the compass was out of order. The captain of the vessel had to do something, so he set the reef sails, got up steam, and pulled out to find land somewhere.
On the 19th the sea was calmer, but no land was to be seen. The morning of the 20th found us anchored in sight of Powder Horn, at the mouth of Matagorda Bay. This was not many miles from Indianola, one hundred ten miles from Galveston, after we had been tossed about by the storm, five or six hundred miles.
At seven a. m. the steamer “Clinton,” on her way to Indianola, came in sight. We fired several shots from a cannon and hoisted a flag of distress. She came back in the evening, took our ship in tow, and pulled us back to Galveston Bay. On the morning of the 21st we were cut loose from the “Clinton” and towed in to the wharf by the tug “Eliza Hancox.”
We felt somewhat calmed down after being tossed about for five days on one day’s rations. We drew rations and on the morning of the 22nd, we were towed out into the gulf by the “Eliza Hancox.” At two p. m. the “Clinton” hitched on and we started for New Orleans again.
On the 23rd we ran in sight of Sabine Pass. At four o’clock on the morning of the 24th, we ran into the mouth of the South-west Pass. Here the “Clinton” lashed on to the side of our boat and we pulled on up the river. A little accident occurred which drew the attention of many of our boys. Some one in the regiment was taking a little Mexican dog home. The poor little fellow fell overboard, and trying to rescue him caused quite an excitement. A monstrous alligator, sixteen feet long, appeared on the scene. The dog gave one yelp, made one bite, and disappeared. Several shots were fired at the alligator but none took effect. The boys were left to mourn the loss of their little dog. We had only two pets in the regiment, a bear and a dog.
We ran past Fort Jackson at ten p. m. On the morning of the 25th, we landed at Greenville Station, above New Orleans. We got off of the good ship which had carried us safely across so many miles of stormy waters.
On the 26th we got on board the “Elnora Carol” and started up the river. We ran past Morganza Bend and on the 28th we landed at Vicksburg. On the morning of the 30th, we ran past Helena and past Memphis some time in the night. We landed at Cairo, Illinois, December 2, 1865. We had traveled one thousand six hundred and two miles in ten days, after the time when we had been reported lost. Many of our friends at home never expected to meet us again.
We got off of the boat and marched out through the town to the Soldiers’ Home. Here we were served with a splendid supper of coffee, beans and bacon, and were given good quarters to sleep in.
On the morning of the 3rd, we marched to the depot, boarded the train and ran to Mattoon, Illinois. At ten o’clock, we changed cars and went on the Big Four to Terre Haute, Indiana. We arrived at Indianapolis at seven p. m., December 4, 1865. We got off and marched to the Soldiers’ Home.
On the 5th we signed up the pay rolls. On the 6th of December, 1865, we were payed off in full and disbanded. The rain poured down all evening. Each comrade hunted for the nearest road and quickest route that would take him home to the loved ones that he had not seen for many long weary days.
The 24th Indiana traveled through eleven states and made a distance of thirteen thousand six hundred and seven miles in four years, four months and twenty-seven days. The average was eight and a half miles per day.
There were many of us who never met again, but we will ever stand in Fraternity, Charity and Loyalty, at Home, Sweet Home.
Names of states the 24th Indiana traveled through: Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Florida, Alabama and Texas.