Company A., 40th Illinois Voluntary Infantry

Part II

            One other man with whom I became acquainted and by reason of whose acquaintance I was permitted to come home on furlough, was ---- Williams.  I have forgotten his first name as well as the regiment to which be belonged.  It seems to me he was called Dave.  However, it will answer our purpose.  His mother and people lived near Equality Illinois.  Williams had been sick a long time and was very low at this time.  Several times he was thought to be dying.  Vital force was very strong in him.  He would rally and seemingly do better a few days, then sink again and rally again.  When able to talk at all the whole theme of his conversation was of his mother.  He fully realized that he had to die, but it seemed he could not possibly reconcile himself to the dread ordeal of death without first seeing his mother.  The physician in charge wrote his mother, laying the situation before her, not omitting to tell her how badly Dave wanted to see her.  Whereupon she sent a (I would have liked to have said man) fellow after him.  We were all truly glad as we all understood that he had come after Dave.  It did us good to feel that the poor fellow was to have a chance to see his mother before he died.  Imagine our surprise and chagrin when we learned that this despicable wretch had slipped away and left the poor mother’s precious boy to die in the hospital.  What his object or reasons none of us ever knew.  We supposed probably that in Williams weakened and debilitated condition he was afraid to attempt the trip with him.  This circumstance led to my acquaintance with Williams.  Like everyone else about the institution, I one day tried my hand at consoling him over his sad disappointment.  During my conversation with him I learned for the first time that his mother lived near Equality.  It occurred to me that as his home was almost directly on my route home, I might possibly be able to “kill two birds with one stone,” take him home and thus get to go home myself.  I did not want to raise uncertain hopes in his bosom again so said nothing much about my hopes and desires, until I was satisfied that the idea was feasible and could be worked, although he had thought of it and suggested it himself.  I went at once to the physician in charge and placed the facts before him.  He became enthused and seemed overjoyed by my statement, which was that with Williams discharged and a furlough for myself, there was a possible end to the complication of getting Williams home.  He entered at once with zeal and earnestness into the project.  He wrote out a discharge for Williams and a furlough for me, sending me over to Louisville to have them countersigned.  This done at 9 o’clock that night Williams and myself were placed on a steamer bound down the river.  Medicines for Williams and directions how to manage him were given me.  Amid many warm expressions and wishes for good luck and “Godspeed” to us, we started on our eventful journey to “God’s Country” and home, with hearts full of gratitude and joyous anticipations of the prospective reunion with our folks at home.  Williams’ condition required all my time in giving him proper care.  He was blistered all over the chest wall and his hip bones and shoulder blades had cut or worn through the skin, and especial attention had to be given these.  The hope and prospect of getting home seemed to animate Dave and he was as cheerful as it was possible for one to be in his condition.

            One incident of this trip.  On the night after taking passage, the porter of the boat discovering me, an ordinary private soldier in the cabin where only the elite and “big bugs” are presumed to have free access, ordered me down on deck, where he claimed he thought I properly belonged with the rubbish.  Of course I demurred and tried to explain the situation.  He had no time for explanations and was hustling me right out.  During our colloquy a large, rather austere looking man approached us.  He wore the uniform of a Naval Officer.  He inquired what the trouble was.  I told him about Williams and that he required constant care and attention.  Moreover, that our transportation provided for cabin passage for each of us.  He told the porter to go about his business and that if he interfered with me again he would chuck him into the river.  He then went with me to our state room to see Williams, remaining quite a while in pleasant conversation with us.  On departing he said to me, “If that fellow bothers you any more just tell me and I’ll attend to him,”  I was not molested again.

            About midnight we landed at Shawneetown, Illinois.  With the assistance of the boat’s crew, Williams was taken down and placed on a cot in the wharfboat.  Here I met Mr. Willis Hatchett, who lived near where Gresham now is in Franklin County.  He was on his way to Louisville, Kentucky after his brother, Isaac Hatchett, a member of our company, who was there sick.  Mr. Hatchett was waiting for an upriver boat.  He remained and assisted me in taking care of Dave until morning.  When morning came I went out in the city of Shawneetown to try to procure conveyance to take Williams home, it being twelve miles out in the country.  But love nor the promise of pecuniary reward, or any other inducement that I could mention would open their obdurate hearts.  I returned to the wharf very much depressed in spirits, yet full of determination.  One thing was evident to me, that I must get Dave out of that old wharfboat as quickly as it was possible to do so.  With this idea paramount in my mind, and with Mr. Hatchett’s promise to look after Dave until his boat arrived.  I started out on foot in the direction where Williams’ people lived, resolved that if necessary I would walk the entire distance and then send some of his folks back after him.  In the meantime I would try at every place I came to for a rig.  About two miles out I stopped at a farmhouse and repeated my oft-repeated request of that morning.  The lady of the house greeted me kindly and I could see at once that my story had reached a tender spot in her kind, motherly bosom.  She informed me that he husband was in the army and that she was heart and soul for the cause.  She said she had a small springless wagon, a team to pull it and a boy large enough to drive it, and that if these would answer she would be only too glad to let me have them.  What a contrast to the replies I had been receiving that morning in Shawneetown.  No time was to be lost in hesitancy.  I accepted her kind offer at once as I regarded it as much better than trying to walk ten miles farther, which would probably leave Dave the greater part of that hot June day alone and helpless.  The boy soon had his team hooked up and the kind mother placed some bed clothing in the wagon and loaned me an umbrella to shield Williams from the scorching sun.  We soon drove back to the wharf and sure enough found Dave alone.  A boat had come along and Mr. Hatchett had to leave him.  Now, I got into trouble again.  I was yet a boy, convalescing and not very strong.  I could not get Williams into the wagon alone.  I went into the city again for help.  Not a soul would touch him.  Some said they were afraid of infectious diseases.  Some had one excuse, some another, but none would help.  If I had had a good six gun battery that morning, Sunday as it was, I certainly would have taught the citizens of Shawneetown a long-remembered lesson.  Fortunately a boat landed having some soldiers on board.  A quick response to my explanation of the situation and Dave was tenderly placed in the wagon.  We were soon on our journey.  The country and the roads were all strange to me, but with what few points Dave could give, together with an occasional inquiry along the road we got along fairly well.  By this time Dave was getting very weak.  He had had no nourishment that day (nor I either).  After so long a time we found we were getting into the settlement to which we were heading and Dave was “smartly” cheered up.  Suddenly we drove up on a congregation engaged in Divine Worship in a grove.  We halted to make inquiry on the outskirts of the congregation.  Our appearance and attitude excited considerable curiosity and several approached the wagon, among them some ladies.  One of them peeped in the wagon and getting sight of Dave gave a mild blood-curdling yell, and fainted.  I subsequently found she was a sister-in-law of Dave.  That yell broke up the meeting and here came the entire congregation.  They crowded up around the wagon so that it was with considerable difficulty and some force I got them loose enough from us to permit our starting up again.  We were nearing our destination now and as we started up the crowd filed in after us in single, double and quadruple files.

            I had taxed my imagination smartly as to how Dave’s mother would act when she found that he had actually got home.  My conceptions had never approached what occurred.  As we approached the house I saw a large, rather elderly looking woman step to the door, her eyes fastened upon us.  There she remained until we drove up into the yard.  She had observed that some one was reclining in the wagon.  As we halted she stepped out into the yard.  The first words she uttered were “Is that Dave?”  Observing her pent up feelings touched my emotions and for the life of me I could not have spoken without bawling right out.  I nodded my head affirmatively, and then a great stream of tears came pouring down her cheeks.  She did not seem to be crying, but laughing for joy of soul at the return of her boy.  But I must let the curtain drop on this scene.  I cannot describe it.  I do not know that I care to do so.  Many, many times have I thought of this occasion and the tears would invariably rise in my eyes.  It is a reflection associated with both pain and pleasure.  I cut the outdoor scene as short as possible and ordered Dave taken in to the house, which was soon filled to suffocation.  I told Mrs. Williams to get them out as Dave needed fresh air.  She soon had them out, some with more ceremony than politeness.  I then gave her what medicines I had and suggested that she send for a physician, which he did at once.  She then knocked a Bee gum in the head and got us a good old fashioned dinner.  I assure you I enjoyed it hugely.

            The boy and I had a good long trip before us.  It was expedient, therefore, that we get started as soon as possible.  Mrs. Williams had learned my name and embarrassed me not a little by calling me “Mr. Hunt”.  When we were ready to start she said to me, “Now Mr. Hunt, what do I owe you for your trouble in bringing my boy home.”  This was a stunner to me.  The idea of reward or recompense for what I had done had never even remotely entered my mind.  I informed her that I had only performed an obligation that every soldier was under to every other soldier.  I had done no more for her son that he would have done for me had the circumstances been reversed.  That I was already rich in the consciousness of having discharged my duty to a comrade in distress, that I had no thought of receiving or accepting, much less of asking for reward.  All the recompense I expected or desired had been realized in witnessing her joy over the return of her son and the hope I had that in a few days my own mother would enjoy the same happy felicitations.  Mrs. Williams paid the boy for the use of his team and vehicle to his entire satisfaction and we started on our return.  This was Sunday, after my return to the army I received a letter from a young lady informing me that Williams died on the following Wednesday.  My strength not yet fully recuperated after my illness, the loss of two nights sleep in succession and the worry and fret incident to the trip had told severely on both my physical and nervous systems.  I cannot recall where I passed that Sunday night.  In fact, I have no recollection of a single event after leaving Mrs. Williams until the next morning.

            I have necessarily dwelt at some length upon the circumstances of my acquaintance and connection with Williams.  This for two reasons.  First, it clearly portrays some of the incidental duties that devolve upon the soldier outside of what may be called the ordinary routine of a soldier’s life.  Second, as illustrating the indefinable, unexplainable tie of comradeship that exists between soldiers.  We all feel this in our own persons and behold its exemplification in others.  Just what it is, and why it is, is hard to explain.

            Monday morning following I found myself at the Post Office in Shawneetown waiting and watching for the stagecoach for McLeansboro.  On its arrival I informed the driver, Buck Casey (nearly everyone knew Buck Casey) I had a former slight acquaintance with him but he had forgotten me) that I was stranded and penniless, but that I wanted to go to McLeansboro with him, that after getting there I could get money to pay him my fare.  He eyed me for a moment and then addressing me rather brusquely, but with a concealed vein of good humor, “Ar’nt you a soldier?”  I told him I was, “Get in here then, I don’t want any of your d---d money”.  Mr. Casey had no passengers except myself.  We had a long drive but he proved himself a very entertaining companion.  He had me eat dinner with him at one of his stopping places, but would not hear about receiving remuneration, either for the dinner or for my ride.

            Arrived in McLeansboro about dusk, I struck out for my Uncle Armstead Hunt’s about five miles out from McLeansboro.  I found them all in bed asleep.  When awakened they gave me a glad welcome.  I had thought of going on to my mothers that night, but I was dreadfully tired and as it would be past midnight before I could reach there, Uncle insisted that I stay until morning and then go home.  Bright and early in the morning I was up and away for home and was soon in sight of the place.  I thought I would attempt to pass the house to see whether mother would recognize me.  She had been in the habit of hailing every one that looked like a soldier to inquire of me.  She was on the alert this morning.  I saw her step out on the porch and look down the lane.  She saw me of course and was intending to hail me.  I pulled my cap down over my face as well as I could and walked on looking straight down the lane.  As I came up even with the house and about to pass, I could not resist the temptation to take a little peep at her.  The mother instinct partially recognized me.  She said, “Isn’t that John”.  I turned my face fully toward her.  The recognition was complete and here she came for me.

            I was glad to be at home, especially on my mother’s account, but my stay of thirty days became quite irksome to me before the time expired.  I had been away from the company nearly three months and I felt I ought to be back sharing equally with the other boys.  Again, so many had gone into the army from our immediate settlement that few were left but women, children and old men.  I enjoyed their association to some extent, but it did not satisfy my longing to be back with my comrades, engaged in more active pursuits.  Really, I cannot say I was sorry when the time came for me to go back.

            Another comrade of our company was at home at this time and we arranged to go back together.  Uncle Barney Knight took his wagon, his wife, Aunt Perselia, my mother and Miss Sarah E. Flannigan, who subsequently became my first wife, went with us to Shawneetown, it being the nearest point at which we could get transportation.  We did not drive the entire journey in one day.  At night we camped on the bank of the Saline River just east of Equality, and the next morning drove into Shawneetown before noon.  Here I parted with my mother, never to see her again this side of Heaven, where I hope by the Grace of God to meet her again.  When about to part each of us had apparently determined to subdue our emotions.  I could plainly see that mother was making a great effort to keep from breaking down in tears.  The tension on her will power was so great that the strain was plainly visible on her face.  The same motives and efforts seemingly were actuating each of us.  I saw this great strain could not be long maintained so turned and walked way.  I did not need to be informed as to what mother did after we separated.  I knew instinctively just how she felt and what she did.  I can see her face seemingly so plain today as on that occasion, with that last, lingering, loving, farewell look.  I see it now as but yesterday.  I went down to the river to a secluded spot and had my cry out.  The free shedding of tears somewhat relived my feelings, yet I was sad and lonesome.

            The comrade of whom I have spoken got hold of some “red eye” and as a result got into trouble.  As a further consequence got into the calaboose.  I interceded with the city marshall and secured his release in time to have taken the next boat, but after getting his freedom he filled up on booze again.  When the boat arrived he was so dead asleep that it was found impossible to rouse him.  I worked with him until the boat was about casting loose her mooring and then jumped aboard and left him to pursue his own course.  If his inability to go along with me had been due to anything but his own licentious, intemperate habits, I would have stayed with him until now if it had been necessary.  I could not control him and did not propose to be responsible for him.  He is still living and therefore his name will not appear in this narrative.

            I went down the Ohio to its confluence with the Mississippi, and down that stream to Columbus, Kentucky, having heard on the way down that our regiment was, or would be at Jackson, Tennessee shortly.  I disembarked at Columbus and took a train for Jackson.  Not palace cars by any means, but a freight train at a little way station called Trenton, where the 6th Ill. Cavalry was stationed.  I got off and stayed a couple of days with the boys of the 6th, quite a number of whom were my relatives.  Among them Uncle Armstead Hunt, and Uncle Wash Hunt.

            I then went on to Jackson.  Here I ran across a former acquaintance, Robert Townsend, a member of General Logan’s staff.  Together we went up to Logan’s headquarters.  I was also personally acquainted with General Logan.  He informed me that my regiment was heading for Memphis, Tennessee and advised me to return to Columbus and take a steamer for Memphis.  I did so and arrived at Memphis one morning about sunrise.  Almost the first person I saw was my comrade I had left at Shawneetown.  The regiment had not yet arrived but was expected that morning.  I was so eager to see them that I went out two or three miles to meet them.  Troops soon began to come and pass.  I watched and waited, waited and watched until finally I recognized our regiment.  Oh! how dirty and dust-begrimed they were.  They had been tramp, tramp, tramping in the hot July sun and dust for a long series of days.  I was almost wild with delight and the boys all appeared glad to see me again.

            We now settled down to regular camp life.  The troops had been actively campaigning since May, and were greatly in need of rest.  Our camp was situated on the bank of the river just below Memphis.  The place we occupied there is now all filled up with new and beautiful residences.  While here we drilled almost daily, did camp guard and fatigue duty, and much of the time did provost or police duty in the city, using a building known as the “Irving Block” as headquarters and prison pen.  Our duty in the city was to preserve order as much as possible, taking the place of the regular police, most of whom had gone south, many of them into the Confederate army.  This duty brought us in direct contact with the rough, law-breaking element, citizens and soldiers, the intemperate, the incendiary, thieves, thugs, etc.  We had many rough and tumble scraps with them, usually landing them in prison.  During this time one of our comrades shot and killed a man, a prisoner.  Most of us thought this an extreme measure and really unnecessary, but the comrade was on duty, under orders and could not be legally censured.  Most of us would have been more discriminative and would have discharged our duty without reprehending our conscience, permitting the poor fellow to escape.  It is an easy matter to shoot and miss the mark.  I do not know whether the comrade ever suffered any remorse of conscience over the unfortunate act or not.  I am glad, however, that my conscience is not burdened with such a load.

            While here people from home visited some of our comrades.  In this connection I have a sad story to tell.  Mrs. Johnson, wife of C. C. Johnson, and mother of James A. Johnson, both of our company, with her little child, paid her husband and son a visit.  Uncle Chris, as her husband was familiarly called, was sick when she came and died shortly after.  The little child sickened and soon followed its father.  This double affliction and bereavement soon brought the mother down.  She followed her husband and little one to that borne from whence no traveler returns.  Thus a home was broken up and desolated and a comrade’s heart saddened beyond conception.

            Our camp here was high and dry, the air salubrious, therefore healthy, and our stay here very pleasant.  Toward the latter part of November our stay here was suddenly terminated by General Grant’s movement towards the rear of Vicksburg via Oxford and College Hill, Mississippi.  General Van Dorn of the Confederate army successfully interrupted this movement by a raid to our rear, capturing Holly Springs where was stored an immense amount of commissary stores.  The surrender of Holly Springs to the enemy was one of the most cowardly and defenseless acts that I remember occurring during the war.  This necessitated a retrograde movement of the army.  After dispatching Sherman with a portion of his troops by way of the Mississippi and Yazoo Rivers, to try to effect a lodgment on the high ground in the rear of Vicksburg, Grant slowly drew the remainder of his army back to Memphis and its vicinity.  I remember that we spent our 1863 New Year in camp near the Tallahatchie River in our little “Dog Tents”.  Many comparative remarks were indulged in by the boys regarding our improved methods of celebrating New Years Day.

            The next day we resumed our backward march to Holly Springs, staying here several days.  Here Colonel Hicks, who had been severely wounded at Shiloh, returned to us and resumed quasi command of the regiment.  The old fellow had his own peculiar ideas as to how the war should be conducted.  One of these was the preservation of property in the south.  He was irrevocably opposed to foraging of any kind, and did not think we should burn rails to make a fire, or for any other purpose.  He had an intense love for his regiment.  In a neat little speech he made to us he said, “I want all my brave boys to so conduct themselves while absent from home, that when they return they may be able to take a mother, wife or sweetheart by the hand and say truthfully, here are hands as clean as the day I left you,“  No doubt, many of us would have advantageously profited by heeding his council.  Colonel Hicks was intensely loyal, brave almost to rashness, immensely proud of and greatly wrapped up in the prowess of his regiment.  If you wanted a scrap with the Colonel, all you had to do was to say or do something derogatory to the character of his “Gallant 40th Illinois”.

            The first night out from Holly Springs, Lieut. Col. Barnhill, still in nominal command, drew us up before a cross fence and gave his command – Stack Arms, Draw your wood, B- G—d, and go to bed.  We always made it a rule to only take the top rail, but somehow the top rail soon became the bottom rail also.  That fence was gone in less time than it takes to tell of it.  This threw the Colonel into a rage which was intensified next morning when we came to where Company G had been on picket the preceding night.  The carcass of a cow was nearby, with the most succulent and choice parts skinned out.  This was too much for the colonel.  The idea that his brave boys had presumed to utterly ignore his kind fatherly admonitions was unutterably too bad, and they must be reprehended.  He halted the regiment, called the officers to the front and center and was giving them a genuine curtain lecture when the Brigade Commander happened along.  Colonel Hicks reported the facts to him.  He looked around a moment retrospecting the situation, then very pleasantly remarked that if Company G. ever slaughtered another beef and did not do a better job of it than they did of this one he would have the last d—d one of them arrested, and rode on leaving the Colonel to his own inferences and reflections.  It should be remembered that Colonel Hicks had been absent from us for seven months.  During this time much change of sentiment had taken place in regard to the conduct of the war.  The old man had not yet come to realize as we had, that to destroy railroads, burn bridges, and consume the substance of the country, was as effectually crippling the enemy as actual conflict.  We were in the throes of a life and death struggle.  At times it even looked as though the tide was set against us.  Therefore, every legitimate means that we could command to weaken our adversary, we considered as conservatively right and proper.

            Our next move took us to a place called Davis Mills.  So-called because a man named Davis (said to be a cousin of the Confederate states president) had two water mills and a small steam saw mill situated on Wolf River seven miles southwest of LaGrange, Tennessee.  We put up our little “dog tents” and proceeded to make ourselves as comfortable as possible under the surrounding circumstances and conditions.  The night following there fell what was called a large snow for northern Mississippi, but it about all melted off the next day.  One incident of this camp.  I turned a sleight of hand trick on Hardin Pittman of our company.  Hardin was an excellent cook.  He had gotten hold of some of Davis’ cornmeal, having previously purloined an old fashioned skillet like those our mothers used to bake such good corn bread in.  I was walking down the company street and came to where Hardin was busy cooking.  He had just emptied the skillet of a nice lucious brown loaf of bread and was putting in another.  He was intently engaged at the time arranging live coals upon the lid of his skillet.  I picked up the loaf of bread and was admiring it, with possibly no more evil thought than envy.  Just across the street a mass was seated on the ground eating their supper.  They signaled me to come over.  I looked around at Hardin, still busily engaged with his skillet.  I walked over to where the boys were eating with Hardin’s bread in my hand, sat down and we all began to eat of it.  Hardin now raised up from his fire and discovered his loss, anger, chagrin and mortification clearly outlined in his countenance.  Off he rushed up towards the head of the company, looking into every tent as he passed.  Then crossed over to the side on which we were.  We all thought then that our little trick would soon be exploded.  However, we put on a bold front and kept on quietly eating.  Hardin came up to and passed us, meantime looking with all the eyes he had for his bread.  At the foot of the company he turned back, coming right by us again, sitting quietly in the open street, eating his bread right before his eyes, yet he could not see it.  He lingered a moment with us and we actually invited him to eat with us.  Still he failed to discover his bread.  He went on searching but never found it.  I doubt whether he ever found out who got it.  Our open, apparently square dealing disarmed him of all suspicion of us.

            The 25th Ind. had been located here for a considerable period, and had erected very pleasant, comfortable quarters.  They were ordered away a few days after our arrival.  We took quiet, peaceable possession of same where we remained until April or May, living happily, almost luxuriantly for soldiers.  We drew our supplies from LaGrange seven miles distant.  Towards spring the roads became impassable for wagons.  O. P. Kelley of our company, a kind of natural mechanical genius, got hold of a set of car wheels, took the engine from Davis saw mill, put it on those car wheels and did all our hauling from LaGrange.  He gave this combination car a name.  I am sorry I have forgotten it.

            Our stay here came to an end.  We were ordered out on a chase after the Confederate general Chalmers who with a force cavalry was hovering around our front.  The prime purpose of our movement was to divert Chalmers’ attention from General Grierson, who was just starting on his notable raid through Mississippi to the rear of Vicksburg.  We succeeded in decoying Chalmers away from him, and after a tramp of nine days returned to LaGrange.  We started on this trip with three days’ rations, passing over a section of country which had been so completely devastated by both armies that a crow flying over would be wise in taking a full haversack.  Prior to this time I thought I had often felt the pangs of hunger, but I was mistaken.  Never before had I fully realized what it meant to be really and truly hungry.  For several days our entire ration consisted of a half pint of raw corn meal to the man per day.  It was amusing to witness the ingenuity of the men in finding ways in which to cook their meal.  It was made into dough and some cooked or rather scorched it in the ashes.  Some found flat stones, some pieces of bark, some one thing, some another.  One day we came to a flour mill.  We got plenty of flour, but having no cooking utensils, no salt nor grease, we were at our wits end how to manage the stuff.  Some ingenious fellow solved the problem by spreading down his poncho (gum blanket) working his flour into dough, rolling it out in long rolls, wrapping these around long sticks and holding them to the fire to cook.  By the way, while warm it did not taste bad at all.  But take care, when cold you could kill a mule with a roll of it.

            My feet wore out on this trip.  For days I had to trudge along when I could actually feel the blood in my shoes at each step.  One morning the captain was hurrying us to get started.  Some were a little tardy about getting ready.  Tom Richerson, among the tardy list, had exhausted the captain’s patience.  He railed out at Tom to hurry up.  Tom said “Captain, I can’t go, some d—d rascal has stole my socks.”  This quaint expression sent the boys off into roars of laughter.  Tom was placed on an old contraband mule, with probably forty blankets under him.  He and the old mule, covered from ears to tail with blankets, presented an appearance grotesque in the extreme, and furnished amusement for the boys the remainder of the trip.

            One more incident of this trip:  One morning we were passing through a large plantation.  Marching by the residence of the overseer, or negro driver, some of the boys discovered a patch of early onions.  All were hungry and the onions looked exceedingly tempting.  Some one made a break into them.  Like sheep the rest followed.  The onions were soon gone.  The woman of the house, standing in the door began to curse them, and the boys to teasing and tantalizing her, asking first one question then another.  Where is your husband one said.  “He’s out here with Chalmers and I hope he will kill the last one of you.”  The boys kept teasing her until she got herself into a terrible rage and said things that would not look well in print.  She reminded me of the saying that “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

            We finally arrived at LaGrange footsore and weary, remaining two or three weeks.  During our stay here I received word from home that mother was very sick and not expected to recover.  I tried to get a furlough so that I could go home and see her, but found it impossible to do so.  I thought very seriously of taking what was called a “French”, that is going without leave.  But upon more sober reflection abandoned the idea as such a course would have inevitably involved me in trouble and probably severe punishment in the end.  Again, I was so far from home that it would have been very difficult to have gotten through without proper authority in my possession.  I would probably have been arrested and returned to the command.  Soon after I received news of mother’s death, which occurred before I could possibly have gotten home.  This in a measure reconciled me to my failure in getting to start.

            By this time Grant had his grip around the throttle of Vicksburg, gradually choking the life out of it.  General Joseph F. Johnson, of the Confederate army was hovering around threatening his rear, so we were ordered to that place.  Leaving LaGrange, we marched to Memphis, took a steamer and went down the river to the Yazoo, up that stream first to Snyders and then to Haines Bluff in the rear of Vicksburg, keeping watch on the movements of General Johnson.  On our great National birth day, July 4, 1863, Vicksburg with its entire garrison and war paraphernalia was surrendered to General Grant.  Simultaneously therewith we started out after Johnson and chased him to his stronghold at Jackson, capital city of Mississippi,  After some considerable maneuvering, skirmishing and fighting General Johnson pulled out his army and left, not allowing himself to be shut up in Jackson like a rat in a trap, as Pemberton did at Vicksburg.  Here on July 16th, in an engagement, I became overheated to unconsciousness.  In a day or two, however, I felt as well about as ever.  After a few days here destroying railroads, bridges, etc., we marched back towards Vicksburg, halting and going into camp at Black River, twelve miles from Vicksburg, remaining here until about the 1st of November.  We had a nice shady, healthy, camp, and for three months enjoyed ourselves splendidly.  We had great sport here swimming and bathing in Black River.  The current of this stream was so swift that a good swimmer could go downstream about as fast as one could run, then would have to walk back as it was utterly impossible to swim up stream.  

Vicksburg, MS - Levee & Steamboats
 Wm. R. Pywel, Photographer
From: Library of Congress

            Our stay here terminated about the 1st of November.  We went to Vicksburg and took a steamer for Memphis.  This was a tedious trip.  Our boat the “Diana” was very large and the river very low, so we had some trouble avoiding sand bars.  On the way up one of our company, Marcus Johnson, paid his “last full measure of devotion” to his country.  We stopped at Helena, Arkansas and I was one of a detail to bury him.  These duties constitute some of the sad obligations of a soldier’s life.  It seemed that full share of it fell to my lot.  Marcus left a young wife at home to mourn over his untimely loss.  A little more than a month subsequent to this time the mutations of providence decreed that I should see Mrs. Johnson at her home in Franklin County, Illinois.  Her wan, sad, pale face clearly depicted that sorrow was making deep inroads in her heart.  She asked so many questions and her grief was so bitter that I almost wished that I had not seen her.  We now proceeded on our way, arriving at Memphis we learned that our destination was Chattanooga, Tennessee, where Bragg had Rosecrans army cooped up and starving.  Making a rapid march across the state of Tennessee, without anything of special note occurring in which I was personally concerned.

Introduction Part I Part III Part IV

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