Company A., 40th Illinois Voluntary Infantry

Part IV

         While we were at home the regiment re-enlisted as a veteran organization.  Not being there at the time, I did not reenlist.  I could have gone into the organization after my return to the company, but I did not.  Many causes unnecessary to relate contributed to my refusal to do so.  Some inducements were offered me to join the veterans, which I refused.  I have regretted this action many, many times.  Before the time of those who did not reenlist expired, the war, at least the fighting in our department was virtually over.  In fact, the regiment never had anything like a serious engagement after we left them at Atlanta, Georgia.  An old adage says “Never cry after spilled milk,” so I leave the subject and the event.

            Early in January, while we were still at home, a heavy snow fell, followed by an exceedingly cold wave.  It was said that the thermometers registered 20 degrees below zero.  Peach trees were nearly all frozen and killed.  I think we remained at home until March to allow our wounds to perfectly heal.  Moreover, troops were all in winter quarters and our absence did not matter so materially.  Eventually the time for our return trip was rolled around.

            Our return trip was equally as tedious and wearisome as the previous one, but after many delays and layovers we ultimately reached the regiment, which was camped at Scottsboro, Alabama, some fifteen miles West of Stephenson.  Soon after our return the regiment started on their thirty days Veteran Furlough.  Many of them had never been home since they first left and, of course, all were anxious to see home, their people and “God’s country” again.  The Non-Veteran squad, consisting of some sixty or seventy, remained in camp at Scottsboro.  We had practically nothing to do so time hung heavily upon our hands.  We tried various little projects with which to pass away the time.  One of these was chopping cordwood for the railroad.  Coal had not yet been developed in that country and the railroads were compelled to use wood to make steam.  Sometimes they were put to their wits end to get it cut.  Finally they made us a proposition to furnish us axes and give us one dollar and twenty-five cents for every cord we would cut.  I cut two or three cords and bruised my hands so badly that a catarrh supervened upon the bruise.  I had ample time and opportunity for regretting my little escapade at cutting cordwood.

            About the first of May, our squad attached temporarily to another regiment, broke camp at Scottsboro and went to Chattanooga, through and beyond that place toward Dalton where General Sherman was stationed with one of the finest armies of true and tried veterans that ever assembled on the American continent.  From here he began his matchless campaign for the capture of Atlanta, one hundred and fifty miles distant.

            My catarrh was now so bad that I was practically disqualified for duty.  I was sent back to Chattanooga and placed in a convalescent camp, where I found comrades Flannigan, L.A. Johnson and C. A. Johnson, whose wounds were not yet entirely healed.  In this camp we all lived at what we termed “The top of the pot”.  Our rations were endless in variety and quantity.  Among other luxuries which we enjoyed was a barrel of mixed pickles, cucumbers, turnips, cabbage stalks, pepper and the Good Lord only knows what all else!  We also had plenty of greens – we would gather what was called “Lambs Quarter” off the graves of dead mules and horses, cook it, and I assure you we found it splendid with our pickles.  Quite a number of Negro regiments were encamped not far from us.  It was quite amusing to watch them drilling.  They would come out with their paraphernalia, guns, belts, belt plates burnished and bright as gold.  Naturally proud, their new uniforms the first respectable suit possibly any of them ever had worn, it made them look quite dandified.  Their actions evidenced their joy and pride.  The commands given in squad drill in the negro vernacular afforded us great amusement.  Our regiment returned from their home trip, passed through on their way to the front.  My hand was not yet entirely well, but I did not want to see them pass, so I joined them and went to the front.  By now Dalton, Buzzard’s Roost, and Resses all had fallen into Sherman’s hands, and when we reached the front was confronting the Confederate army at New Hope Church.  Our regiment resumed its regular place in the brigade and were soon actively engaged in the work of that arduous but brilliant campaign which culminated in the capture of Atlanta, Georgia.  There had been some very severe fighting at this point before our arrival.  One of Sherman’s tactical movements to the flank of the enemy soon moved him away.  Near Kingston they attempted another stand, but General Shermans masterful strategy and superior numbers kept them pretty well on the move until they sought refuge behind the impregnable works on Kenesaw and Lost Mountain.  In this place, a fortress by nature, had been strengthened by engineering until it was virtually unassailable. 

            From this time on to September our time was employed in active, often thrilling dangerous work.  From May to September it may be truthfully said that we were scarcely ever out of range of the enemy’s shots.  Many events worthy of record have escaped my memory, or my recollection of them are so vague and indefinite I cannot recall with sufficient accuracy of detail to warrant the effort.  I remember one night very distinctly.  It was soon after our arrival at the front.  Our regiment was detailed to build temporary defenses.  This had to be done in very close proximity to the enemy.  No noise was to be made.  We were even to talk in whispers and work as noiselessly as possible.  Our labor consisted in carrying logs, placing them in position and digging up and throwing dirt over them.  It was an extremely dark night.  Therefore, our work was strenuous and difficult.  Our nervous as well as our physical systems were under a tremendous strain, momentarily expecting a volley from our friends (the enemy).  They did not fire upon us and the reason became apparent next morning.  My!  But we were glad when the gruesome job was completed and we were permitted to take our place in the line.  Subsequently we learned that the enemy was equally as bad if not more alarmed than we.  They had worked just as faithfully and as silently as we had, but they were getting away from our front.  Observations began early next morning revealed the fact that they were gone and we soon pitched out after them.  During this day we performed what was a rather novel service to us, i.e., supporting Cavalry.  Up to nearly this period of the war we had viewed the cavalry arm of the service with a more or less degree of contempt.  It had often been contemptuously asked “Who ever saw a dead cavalryman?”  In fact at the beginning of the war about all they were good for was to get out in the country, raise a rumpus and then “skeedaddle” back to the infantry.  Later, much improvement was noted, and at the time of which I write they had become a valiant, gallant auxiliary to the other arms of the service.  They had accomplished much good and performed many gallant and daring feats, notable among which I may mention the Greirson raid, of which I have already spoken.  A few days after the events of the night of which we have narrated, we had an opportunity to personally witness an exhibition of the potency and proficiency of our cavalry by seeing them actually in action.  Our brigade was ordered out as a support to Wilder’s brigade of cavalry.  We kept well up in supporting distance and watched them.  They would come up on the enemy and if he was a little bit stubborn and hard to move, they would dismount and go after them in regular infantry fashion.  Several times during the day we thought we would surely have to go to their assistance, but they were a plucky, persistent lot of fellows, and when they started after the rebels in earnest they invariably succeeded in pushing them back.  So we had nothing to do but keep up in supporting distance and take care of the prisoners they sent back to us.  After this day’s work we all entertained a more exalted regard for the cavalry.

            About the first of June we came up on the enemy again drawn up on Kenesaw and Lost Mountains.  We closed up and stopped near a little station called Big Shanty, known in history as the place where the locomotive was stolen, or to put it a little more modestly, captured, by some of General Mitchell’s enterprising Ohioans.  After capturing the locomotive they intended to run through and beyond Chattanooga, burning all bridges as they went.  They succeeded in passing Kingston after an almost interminable delay, which in fact proved their final undoing.  They were finally compelled to abandon the engine and take to the woods where after the most insufferable and earnest efforts to escape they were all ultimately captured and placed in prison.  Some of them were subsequently hung, some died in prison and a few only got an exchange and went home.

            About the first of June it began to rain in the locality in which we were operating.  I think it rained every day more or less, for fifteen days, intermittent showers, persistently but irregularly supervening one after another, and at the most undesirable and unexpected times.  At a given time the Heavens canopy would be clear as crystal.  In a few moments rain would be falling like a deluge.  When one of those torrents began the boys would sit down on their knapsack, draw their ponchos over them and facetiously remark that they were “aggravating the rain”.

            On the 16th the rain ceased and so did our quietude and inactivity.  We were moved around to the extreme left of our army, where we had a brisk engagement with the enemy.  Leaving our former position as reserves we moved around to the left of our line, advanced a line of skirmishers with our regiment as their immediate support, the remainder of the brigade supporting us.  The advancing skirmishers soon waked up the enemy occupying a line of rifle pits.  Here knapsacks were unslung and every arrangement made for active work.  The support was now soon up with the skirmish line and a rush was made for the fellows in the rifle pits.  These, by the way, were situated on a large plantation and just beyond a drainage ditch.  This ditch had washed out quite deeply.  It contained muddy water which gave a deceptive idea as to its probable depth, the crossing of which caused many of us to run up against a surprise and get a ducking in the bargain.  It was too wide to jump across so we just jumped into it (ca-lunge) up to our waist.  Under less serious surroundings it would have been laughable to witness the different expressions of surprise, and even indignation that was clearly apparent in the boys’ faces.  Personally, I jumped into what I supposed was a few inches of water.  For my pains (or rather for the want of them) I got my head nearly jerked from my shoulders.  Some fell in the ditch getting thoroughly soaked.  We scrambled out and were soon on the enemy, capturing those in the pits, most of one regiment, and sending them to the rear.  Just beyond and up a considerable hill covered with forest we met a reinforcing column.  The word was to go after those fellows and we did so, ultimately capturing most of them.  We were not doing all this without suffering some casualties.  I remember as we ascended the hill, comrade W. C. Moore, who was then First Serg’t. was temporarily in command of our company.  Like all the rest of us his clothes were wet, his shoes full of water, already tired.  Chugging along up the hill, I was just a little to the left rear of Serg’t Moore when he received a shot in the foot.  He swung around and came very nearly capsizing me with gun.  I said “Are you bad hurt serg’t.” “No, go ahead, go ahead” and go ahead we did.  We did not get all this regiment as some of them outran us.  However, we got their colonel.  I then thought, and I now think that I recognized him.  If it was the man I thought it was, he had just prior to the beginning of the war lived in Marion, Illinois.  Lest I might possibly be wrong I will not mention his name - having no desire to do him or his posterity an injury, intentional or otherwise.  I had only seen him a few times during the political campaign of 1860, so there is bare chance for a case of mistaken identity.  I heard that the man of whom I am talking went south at the outbreak of the war.  I shall always believe, unless convinced to the contrary, that I knew the man.  I remember quite distinctly calling the attention of some of the boys to the fact that I believed I knew him. 

            Serg’t Moore’s wound was a serious and a very painful one.  He was sent to the hospital and I did not see him again until the war was over, as I was discharged the following September before he returned to the company.

            After the chase after the last bunch of the enemy we stopped for a little breathing spell.  About a fourth of a mile in our immediate front was a large brick house, two stories high and apparently unoccupied.  Around and about it we could plainly see the enemy maneuvering.  Presently they brought up a section of artillery and began shelling us, killing one of the 46th Ohio.  About this time General Logan rode up to where we were, took a look through his field glasses at the enemy, rode hastily away to our right where there was a field battery and directed them to silence the rebel guns, which they did most beautifully.  We then returned to our former position in line.

            One other incident in connection with this trip.  You will doubtless remember I told you that we unslung knapsacks preliminary to the beginning of the engagement.  We always did this just before going into an engagement and left some comrade who was about broke down to guard them.  On this occasion we left them in the care of uncle John Cullins.  When we returned we did not do as we usually did, go back by the place we had left our knapsacks and take them and their guard to quarters.  We took a different route on our return, missing them.  So uncle John and the knapsacks remained out in the immediate front of the enemy all night.  But the old man was faithful to his trust and stayed with them until relieved next morning. 

            We remained quietly in camp until about the 23d, but other portions of the army were in active service.  During this interim the Confederate General Pillow was killed by one of our cannons.  He with Generals Hardee and another officer were in an exposed position taking observation of our movements.  They were observed by one of our batteries and fired upon with the above-named result. (only it was Polk instead of Pillow)  Polk had been a Bishop in the Presbyterian church prior to the war.  Probably it was the Episcopal church instead of the Presbyterian.  I am not positive which.  At any rate he lay down the surplice for the epaulets, “Glory and Gore”.

            On the night of the 23d, we silently moved out from our camp, moving toward the right and occupying the position just being vacated by Jeff C. Davis’ division of the 14th army corps.  We remained here until the fateful morning of the 27th of June, preparing for that great bloody struggle, where so many good faithful men offered up “their last full measure of devotion” to the land and country they loved.  Death is robbed of much of its bitterest gall if we know that in dying we have not been sacrificed in vain.  I have never been able to see any proper justification for the great sacrifice of human life made on that day in a fruitless and seemingly foolhardy effort to storm the almost inaccessible heights of Kenesaw Mountain.  A man should not be held up to the scorn, contempt and condemnation of mankind simply because he has erred in judgement, or made some great blunder, even if it is of national significance.  Some of the greatest men we have known, have at some period of their lives been at fault in judgement and have made great mistakes, which because of their own greatness involve correspondingly great issues and consequences.  We are all from the highest to the lowest, fallible creatures and all make mistakes.  Fortunate indeed is the man that in retrospecting the past can see past faults, divesting himself of the elements of selfishness so potent in us all that, he will be enabled to take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves for betterment in the future, guiding his actions by the great moral axioms of truth, justice and mercy, willing to acquire correct knowledge from past experience.

            “That the assault on Kenesaw mountain, June 27th, 1864, was a great military blunder in my judgement admits of no question.”  General Sherman in his official report, virtually concedes the correctness of this statement, and while his reasons or excuses for making it may act as a palliative to his conscience, be accepted as sufficient by the military critic, yet it will scarcely satisfy the friends and relatives of the thousands of noble, devoted, heroic men who were ruthlessly thrust against that almost impregnable stronghold and needlessly sacrificed – either slain outright or maimed and crippled for life without any apparent hope of success.

            I do not give utterance to these words simply in a spirit of criticism of General Sherman.  I do it in defense of the many unfortunate, but brave officers and men that there fell victim to an error in judgement of their commanding general.  The subsequent successful strategic routing of the enemy from this “Gibraltar” without the loss of life clearly, in my opinion, warrants the conclusion that the assault was a military blunder.

            This must not be accepted as saying or intending to convey the impression that General Sherman was not a great military man and successful commander.  He was a good, great general, loved almost to infatuation by his army, entitled to and ungrudgingly receiving their implicit love, faith and confidence.  He came out of the smoke and strife of the mighty conflict one of its greatest heroes to whom homage was properly due and joyfully, patriotically given.

The Enfield Rifle

            My personal recollections of the assault proper are about as follows:  On the morning of June 27, 1864, we were early called out in line and carefully instructed in regard to the work we were expected to perform.  We were to divest ourselves of all unnecessary equipage.  Guns were to be loaded, and as nearly as possible strict silence to be maintained in the ranks.  We were also given an intimation of the serious and dangerous work we should be expected to perform.  Then were drawn out to our place in the assaulting column.   During this maneuver we were furiously assailed by the enemy’s batteries on the mountaintop, resulting in more fright than damage.  During this movement some things occurred that were ludicrous and funny.  I observed one poor fellow belonging to Co. D of whom it was said that he had never yet been got into a fight.  When the shells began to explode in close proximity to us he took fright and skulked out of ranks, hiding behind a large tree.  His company commander went to him and talked to him kindly and firmly like a father to a son, telling of his poor record as a fighter in the past, that his time of service would soon expire and that if for no other purpose than of retrieving his reputation and going home crowned with honor, plead with him “For God’s sake come on now and be a man and go to your home and family in credit.”  He succeeded in getting him back into ranks, but presently he was missed again and not seen any more during the engagement.  The sequel of this man’s service was very unfortunate.  Less than two weeks after this he was accidentally wounded in the leg, necessitating amputation.  The wound refused to heal kindly and the poor fellow died lamenting his misfortune just a few days before the expiration of his time of service.  Such are the fortunes or rather misfortunes of war.

            The ground over which we traveled to the assault was a level plateau, covered with forest and thick undergrowth until the mountain proper was reached.  The assent was sharp, abrupt and irregular.  The forest growth on the mountain side had been cut and thrown top down, pointing towards us, the limbs all cut off at irregular lengths and sharpened, forming what was called in army lingo, “Abattis”.  No person that has never seen one of these can form any correct idea as to their successful utility as a means of defense.  Five days subsequent to the action, after the enemy had retreated, I found out how difficult it was to get through this abbatis when no one was opposing. 

            We had been instructed to move quietly up to the mountain as near as we could and until we were observed by the enemy, then to make a dash and if possible go up the mountain and over the enemy’s works.  We worked our way along as silently as possible until nearing the base of the mountain we met a terrible withering fire which made sad havoc in our ranks.  Reaching the foot of the mountain we found it would be a moral impossibility to scale it in the face of an active, vigilant and relentless foe.  Some, in obedience to orders promulgated in the early morning, tried the assent, and left their lifeless remains as testimonials of the futility of the undertaking.  Here we lost our Lieut. Col. Barnhill, shot dead, and quite a number of others.  Colonel Barnhill was a Mason and his body was taken and decently buried by the enemy.  Other dead being on the firing line between the two contending armies were left where they fell, sweltering in the sun.  The enemy realized that we had got ourselves into a “bag” and exultingly twitted and reproached us for our apparent foolhardiness.  Personally, at this time I was in rather poor health.  By the time we had reached the mountain I was exhausted and overheat.  But for the kindly, comradely attention of comrades Hosea H. Vise and Moses Sims, I suppose I would have been killed or what was even worse, have fallen into the hands of the enemy as a prisoner.

            After the assault had spent its futile force and failure was seen to be inevitable it was called off.  When our regiment was withdrawn I was not able to accompany it and remained where I was for quite awhile.  After recuperating my strength somewhat I threw my life into the balance and took the chances of an escape.  I believe providence was on my side for the other fellows tried their best to kill me.  All humped up like an old turkey gobbler, I went out of that place at the best clip of which I was capable.  I had only a few rods to go before reaching the friendly shelter of the timber.  The reader may safely risk his last penny on the proposition that I was exceedingly glad of that temporary covering.  But my experiences for the day were not yet complete.

            I was struggling along looking for the regiment when off to my left I heard some one groaning at a dreadful rate.  Although weak and exhausted myself, yet humanity says, we must see who it is and what is the matter.  Going in the direction of the noise I soon came upon a member of our company.  He was in a position generally understood when we say “all-fores”,  I asked if he was badly hurt.  He replied by pointing to a bullet hole in his clothing near the heart.  My sympathies were aroused at once and I naturally supposed him “a goner”.  I got under his arm the best I could, got him up and assisted him, half carrying, half dragging him to the guard line, beyond which the early morning orders promulgated said no man should go even though in charge of a wounded man, unless he had a badge on his arm, which insignia was to designate him as being a musician.  It being their duty to look after the wounded.  However, on reaching the guard line my comrade was complaining so loudly that I was not only permitted to pass through, I was ordered to do so.  I proceeded with him to a nearby hospital.  We soon met our Fife Major and he assisted me with a burden that to me was getting desperately heavy.  Arriving at the hospital tent and instituting further inquiry and investigation it was found that this man was not wounded at all except in his clothing.  His hide was not broken.  He was informed in some rather pointed language, accompanied by some expletives that would not be appropriate in Sunday School, that a wound involving only the clothing was not likely to prove of any very momentous consequences.  After this incident I rejoined my company and regiment.

            In this engagement I received injuries that have haunted me ever since and which continually increasing with advancing age have seriously handicapped me in my efforts for success and a competency in this life.

            Another incident of this battle and I shall leave it with the reader.  Early in the engagement comrade W. T. Banes was killed, a musket ball striking him in the muscle of the right arm, penetrating the chest wall, making its exit from the left side just below the nipple.  He had bled very freely and the blow flies had been very busy.  Late in the evening I was detailed as one of a squad to bury him.  James Smith, Jasper Darnell and, I think Governor Duckworth, were my associates.  When we found the body it was the most horrible and repulsive sight I ever witnessed.  It seemed to me that there must have been a half barrel of blow flies in and upon his person and clothing.  We got them off the best we could and carried the body back to the place where we intended to inter it.  This was near a road which the rebels had made and of which they had a fair view from their works.  We began digging the grave amid the occasional bursting of shells sent our way by the enemy.  This road was full of stragglers and camp-followers, cooks and orderlies, and looked very much like a column of troops marching.  I guess that is what the rebels thought it was from the earnest attention they soon began to pay to it.  I do not think I can every forget that evening while memory sits enthroned on my brow.  We were proceeding with the grave digging and the shells from the enemy’s batteries continued their play with steadily increasing frequency.  One battery after another being added and made part of the gun play.  Shells were already falling in close proximity to us.  The solemnity of the occasion appeared to augment the sense of danger and I suggested to my comrades the propriety of seeking a place of temporary safety.  At this time our acting quartermaster came along and hearing my suggestion got very brave.  He said “Oh, its of no use to pay any attention to these, they are only stray shots.”  He had scarcely uttered these words when a shell struck the ground just behind him, tearing out a hole almost large enough to bury him.  Before he could recover his equipoise another went directly over his head.  I suppose he began to think that they were not as stray as he had been thinking for the next we knew he was going up the road at a two-forty gait.  He had on a long linen duster and as he so gracefully retired one might have played a game of croquet on its tail.  Just back of us was a log breastwork built by the rebels.  We made a dash for it and tumbling over flattened ourselves out on the ground.  It was almost night and we lay there while the shells were shrieking and screaming with terrific fury while we prayed for night to come.  Night did eventually come.  I do not know that I ever was as proud of darkness in my life before or since.  We then went back and completed the interment.  These are some of the scenes and incidents connected with a soldier’s life.

            General Sherman now began a series of wonderful tactical movements with his army.  Threatening Johnson’s communications and causing that very able and tactful general to abandon his modern Gibraltar, pull out his army and hasten to his already prepared lines for the protection of the crossings of Chatahoochie river.  July 2, after the rebels had left, I, in company with several others went to take a view of the place we had tried to take away from the Johnnies on the 27th.  We found the abattis as I have said, very difficult to penetrate even when unguarded and undefended.  We found several of our comrades who had been killed on that fateful day, still lying uncovered and exposed to the hot July sun.  We found several of our comrades who had been killed on that fateful day, still lying uncovered and exposed to the hot July sun.  Decomposition was so far advanced as to render them unrecognizable, and to preclude the possibility of removing them, so they were covered up where they lay, there to await the great Resurrection morn.

            On the 4th of July, our great natal day, we moved out around the head of the mountain, passing through the beautiful little city of Marietta, Georgia, forming companies in platoons, banners flying and to the time of good, loyal, patriotic music, bodies erect and eyes to the front we passed through the little city, attracting much attention and comments, some favorable, some not so complimentary.

            Next day after passing through Marietta I was taken with a severe attack of dysentery.  About the same time I became entirely deaf from the overheat and concussion by the terrible artillery fire received while in the overheated condition.  I was sent back to the hospital at Marietta.  For two or three weeks I was as deaf as a stone.  Fortunately for me another comrade of my company, J. W. Hamilton, familiarly called “Wes” was in the hospital at the same time.  He would report to the physician in charge for me, receive instructions and the treatment and administer them to me.  This two or three weeks of utter exclusion from any knowledge of what was going on in the world except what little I could see was the most annoying, aggravating and melancholy of any like period I have ever experienced.  The end of my time of service was fast approaching and the thought of having to go home deaf, a young man not yet twenty years of age, was insufferable and intolerable.  I brooded over my unfortunate condition so much that at times I absolutely contemplated committing suicide.  Since my own experience in this line I probably do not view the unfortunate individual who ends his career in this manner with the same wonder and astonishment that others do.  In the course of time, however, I began to improve and in a few weeks I thought my hearing was about as good as it ever was.  You may readily conclude that I was overjoyed at this happy conclusion of my troubles.  I was not entirely free from it as I found to my sorrow.  After my return home, upon the contracting of a cold I was made sensibly aware of the permanency of the injury sustained by my auditory apparatus.  Like an evil conscience it has clung to me through life.  As I grow older my hearing becomes more and more obstinate.  At this writing I am approaching my 63rd milestone.  I find myself seriously handicapped in almost every relation of life, in business, socially and almost everything else that brings happiness and enjoyment in this world.  However, my faith in the Immortality of man, my conscious belief in the resurrection of the dead and the final revivifying of all human functions, affords me felicitations beyond expression that in that great day I shall hear as well as others.

            After the temporary recovery of my hearing I was for a time much enfeebled from my dysenteric trouble.  Gradually improving, I soon began to do light duty in a convalescent camp.  A regiment of these convalescents had been organized and I was made a captain of one of the companies.  These companies were of a very miscellaneous representation.  They came from as many different regiments almost as there were numbers in the company organization.  My company was simply a duplication of the other nine companies.

            I remember a very amusing incident that occurred while I was exercising this command.  The rebel General Wheeler was raiding around promiscuously, striking and breaking our line of communication (that is our cracker line) almost at pleasure, here and there about as his fancy desired.  He might take it into his head to try us a fall at Marietta.  In my company was a red-headed fellow from an Indiana regiment.  I remember nothing about his name except that it was “Joe.”  Well, Joe was one of those fellows suffering from aphonia.  That is an inability to speak above a whisper.  Whether this was real or assumed I shall leave the reader to decide.  One night after I had retired to my downy couch, (a blanket and a few leaves) I was awakened by the Sergeant Major and informed that I was wanted at headquarters.  I went and was told by the captain (acting colonel) that he was in possession of information that warranted the conclusion that a visit of the rebel cavalry was altogether probable at any moment.  I was ordered to return to my company, wake up every man and have them put on their accoutrements and sleep with their guns in their hands.  I began at one end of the camp, waking them and giving the instructions as I went.  I was about half way through the company when I came to Joe.  I laid my hand on him and called out, “Joe, Joe”  All the response I got was a groan and grunt.  I gave him a violent shake and shouted, “Joe, Joe,”  “What the h—l do you want” he said in as loud and audible a voice as any of us were capable of.  I told him he must get on his things and sleep with his gun in his arms.  That Wheeler might be in on us at any time.  “Let him come, by G-d I’m ready for him.”  I never heard such a shout of laughter as followed, half the company being awake and hearing every word he said.  Next morning came, but Wheeler did not, and Joe was whispering the same as ever.  The boys guyed him unmercifully, but he took it all in good humor, thus getting rid of them easier and sooner than if he had made a kick.

            I knew of a number of persons that were similarly affected with this aphonic trouble.  Some I thought were sincere and honest.  Of some I thought otherwise.  However, an individual thus affected, whether honestly or not, immediately came under the ban of suspicion and were sure to become the subject of severe criticism.  One man belonging to our company was thus affected and was discharged from the service on that account.  He continued whispering for many years after he returned home, but ultimately recovered his voice.

            While I was at Marietta, General McPherson’s dead body was brought through from the front on it way to this former home in Ohio.  General McPherson, as all history readers know was killed in front of the Gate City of the south, Atlanta, Georgia, July 20, 1864.  His death was a severe loss to his army of the Tennessee.  He was comparatively young, but a brilliant man who was fast stamping his own magnificent personality upon his army.  He was killed early in the action on that day.  General Logan being next in rank, immediately succeeded to the command vacated by McPherson’s death, fought out successfully the engagement then on.  Also the fight on the extreme right on the 28th, which was equally brilliant and successful.  General Logan, however, was finally succeeded in the command of the army of the Tennessee by General O. O. Howard.  This action of General Sherman was severely criticized and crested much and bitter dissatisfaction in the army.  General Logan, however, was too good a soldier to sulk.  He assumed his old command, the 15th army corps and commanded it through to the end.  Among the many casualties in the fight on the 28th was the severe wounding of Colonel Hall.

            I may say here before I forget it, that my sickness of which I have told you, terminated my active participation in the war.  I never went permanently to the front again.  I did go back once on business for Col. Hall, while the army was investing Atlanta.  Arriving at our company, I was proud of the manifestations of welcome tendered me by my old comrades and associates.  They plied me with many questions too numerous to mention here.  Above and beyond all they were anxious to hear how the sick and wounded were.  I found the boys in the ditch, every company having an individual ditch at right angles to the main one.  This precaution being necessary on account of the enemy having a battery which enfiladed the main ditch.  When it was in business the boys would simply retire to their cross ditch.  In the rear of their location was an old field.  One evening while I was there a 24# parrot rifle was brought out into the field to practice on the rebel works around Atlanta, which were in plain view from the old field.  This maneuver attracted quite a crowd.  Probably a thousand or more men were watching the gun practice.  Presently someone yelled “Hunt your holes Yank.”  Whoever it was that gave the warning had seen smoke rise on the rebel works and knew well what was coming, and as the shell compliments of the enemy came hurtling over us I think I hear someone ask “well did you hunt your holes”.  Perhaps we did.

            After transacting the business for which I was sent to the front, I returned to Marietta.  There I remained until the remainder of the “non-Veteran” squad came along from the front discharged.  They also brought my discharge with them.  I turned over my gun and accoutrements to the quartermaster and joined the boys in the journey towards God’s country and home.  HOME, HOME SWEET SWEET HOME.  Oh how I long to be there.  Be it ever so humble there’s no place like home.  Home, sweet, sweet home, what enchanting memories and blissful recollections cluster around the memories of home.  Dear, dear old home.  Dear reader, were you ever absent from home for one, two or three years?  And if so, do you remember what your emotions were on the eve of your return?  If you have, to you my task of describing our feeling on this much-looked for, hopefully longed for, this to us eventful day will be much easier.  I feel I shall fail to make myself comprehensible to those who have always and uninterruptedly enjoyed home’s blessings and associations.  It is an old, yet, no less true axiom that one must at some period of life been bereft of some of the blessings and comforts of home before he can properly appreciate their possession.

                For three long years we had not only been denied the comforts and pleasures of home and its refining influences.  Away from the moralizing, civilizing and christianizing influence of society, Sunday School and church, the sobering melancholy sound of the church bell had not fallen on our ears in all this strenuous time.  Instead we had been robed in the rough habiliments of war, not rapine, but stern, bloody, relentless conflict.  In place of society we had the guards vigil.  For Sunday School we had the daily evolutions of drill.  For church, the battlefield of blood, and for the church bell, the cannon’s roar.  For three long years those scenes had been repeated, over and over again with tireless and almost intolerable repetition.  One day’s duty was but a replication of the one to follow, until we had become what you may be pleased to term “hardened soldiers”.  So we were, yes, a band of peaceful, order loving, law abiding citizens, transformed into a mighty host, an irresistible avalanche of citizen soldiery.  And yet, at the contemplation of home, the near approach of the joyful time when we should be surrounded by and in the enjoyment of home with its saving exhilarating influences, we were at once transformed into quiet, peaceful, patriotic, home-adoring, country loving citizens, blending ourselves nicely and imperceptibly with the avocations of peace, assuming the duties and responsibilities of quiet peaceful citizenship, a complete surprise to some of our sordid-minded friends.

The End.
Thank you, John!

Introduction Part I Part II Part III

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