part of a volume entitled Fifteen Years Ago: or the Patriotism of Will County by George H. Woodruff
Submitted by Merryann Palmer, firstname.lastname@example.org, to whom every reader should be grateful.
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The regimental wagons did not come up that night, and all were obliged to sleep in the rain without shelter. The next day moved on slowly, and went into a camp about four miles from Manchester, where they should have been two days earlier to connect with the rest of the army which had moved on other and better roads. On the 30th, moved close to the town. In the afternoon Wilder's brigade of mounted infantry, came in from a trip down to Dechard, where they had been tearing up the railroad. About noon of July 1st, went into Manchester, and found that the army had already moved. Our regiment remained until six o'clock, when it marched to Hillsboro, a distance of eight miles, going into camp about midnight. Next morning the division went to Pelham, nine miles, halted and had dinner, and about 5 p.m., were ordered back to Hillsboro. This was not pleasant, soldiers always hate to take the back track, especially over bad roads, and when tired and foot-sore. Marched six miles and camped about 10 p.m.
Next morning went on to Hillsboro, where they were again ordered back over the same miserable road to Pelham, making the trip in about four hours. The next day was the 4th of July, and was spent quietly in camp. A national salute was fired at sunset. Pelham, where the regiment now was, is a small village at the foot of the mountains, east and south of Tullahoma, in a beautiful valley. Refugees began to come in from the mountains where they had been hiding, some of them for eight or nine months. The regiment was now on short rations, especially of bread. Fresh meat could be obtained off the country in the shape of pork and mutton, of which a good deal was laying around loose on the hoof. Of course more or less found its way into the soldiers' haversacks. It is said to be terribly demoralizing to allow an army to forage, but I think it must be equally so to keep an army on hard marching and short rations.
On the night of the 5th, the boys encountered a hard storm. Some of the tents of the line officers were pitched in a gully, which was suddenly converted into a stream of water - a young river in fact - and before they had time to beat a retreat everything was afloat, beds, baggage, etc., which it was no easy matter to recover in the rain and darkness. Next day the camp was changed to higher ground. Two days rations came up and orders to make them last six days, a problem in multiplication which the "boys in blue" often had to solve. On the 8th, Harker's brigade and Buell's returned to Hillsboro, leaving the other at Pelham. These remained at Hillsboro about a month, in a very comfortable camp. There was a large and remarkable spring near camp, covering two acres, no bottom had ever been found in the center. Here the men enjoyed one luxury to satiety. It was the season for blackberries, which grew here in great abundance, large and luscious as the famous "Lauton;" and not only were they a luxury, but they wee a medicine of far more service to the sick than any the doctors could get out of the hospital stores, and the men swallowed them without even a wry face. There were regular details to pick them.
But little of interest occurred during the stay. The railroad was opened to Manchester, so that they had regular rations, and also a mail. It was a good place for the study of natural history. The varieties of snakes, lizards, jiggers, and bugs of every shape and color was immense, and all were kept in a state of irritation and discomfort from their bites, or the fear of them.
On the 24th, Uncle Sam's representative - the most warmly loved of all army officers - the paymaster - visited the army, and the 100th drew four months' rations of greenbacks.
On the 2d of August there was an accident in camp, serious and nearly fatal. Just after inspection, one of the regiment was cleaning his gun, when it suddenly went off, wounding John Shoemaker, of Co. H, in the head, fracturing the skull. The ball also passed through several tents, and the hat of a man belonging to an adjoining regiment.
One day part of the regiment went to Manchester as train guard. When they were returning, one of the captains had got a considerable distance ahead, and thought he would try his pistol, and selected as a mark something that looked like a twig on a bush by the road side. He popped away and with his usual skill hit the mark plump on the center. But it turned out that what he had taken for a twig, was the toe of a straggler, who had lain down in the bush with his bare and dirty foot resting on a log, and gone to sleep. The owner of the toe jumped up and danced round and made some fuss. Happily the wound was not serious, and the captain dressed it with "greenback" plaster, and made the man promise to keep dark, but the joke got out.
Col. Buell, who was at this time in command of three regiments, including the 100th, was exceedingly strict in his discipline of the camp. Not only was this true in respect to foraging, but also in respect to passing through the lines. Strict orders were given to the sentinels to allow no one to pass on any pretense whatever without a pass and countersign, and, after a certain hour, they were not to be allowed to pass, even though they had both pass and countersign. The colonel was in the habit of visiting a certain house two or three miles outside the lines, where he had discovered some very pretty girls. One night, I presume forgetting the orders he had given, or thinking they would not be enforced against himself, he overstaid the hour, and on his return was duly halted. He dismounted, and gave the countersign all right, but was told by Corporal Henry Smith, in charge of the outpost, that he could not pass. Now, the colonel had been very strict in holding officers to account for the enforcement of his orders, and had made himself very unpopular by what seemed to many unnecessary severity. Corp. Smith recognized the colonel, but was none the less willing to carry out his orders. He therefore told the colonel that he must lead his horse up and down the beat until he (Smith) was relieved by another detail, when he would take him back to the lieutenant in charge of the post. Buell protested in vain that he was Col. Buell, and swore he would have Smith bucked and gagged if he did not allow him to pass. Smith knew his duty, and told him he could not pass if he was Gen. Rosecrans himself. And so Buell had to pace the sentry's beat under the cocked musket of the corporal, until his hour had expired, when he took the colonel back to the lieutenant in charge of the post and reported. Col. Buell also reported in no very choice or measured terms, but found the lieutenant as strict to obey orders as the corporal was, and the colonel was told that he must remain and pace the beat again until the lieutenant was relieved. The colonel was very wroth, and threatened to have the lieutenant court-martialed. But after storming awhile his wrath exhausted itself, and he changed his tactics, telling the lieutenant he had done right, and was to be commended for his obedience to orders. The lieutenant, thinking that the colonel had had enough of his own medicine, finally let him pass. Nothing was ever heard of the court-martial, and Corporal Smith became very popular in the brigade for his obedience to orders, and was soon after promoted.
Another incident of some little interest occurred, while the division was stopping at Hillsboro. We have spoken of the colonel's habit of visiting outside the lines. This was at a fine plantation, owned by a rebel whose name we will call Smith, although it might have been Jones, or something else. This man found it for his interest to be very loyal now, and very polite, especially to the officers of the army, and thus he got his family and his possessions protected. Now it happened that he had some very sweet things in and about his fine mansion. Inside were some very pretty girls, - while outside there was a fine stand of some twenty bee hives, well stocked with honey. Now, I need not say that soldiers, whether officers or privates, are very fond of sweet things. This would be only to say that they were human. But the officers would of course have the inside track with the girls, - as no others could get the entree of the house. Nothing therefore was left for the privates, but to go for the next sweetest thing, to-wit - the honey. So it happened one night, that while the brigade commander was playing sweet with the girls in the house, some of the privates "confiscated" two or three boxes of the old reb's honey. They did the job so carelessly that the loss was discovered in the morning, and the old man mad his complaint to the officer, who at once relieved the lieutenant, who had charge of the detail, with a severe reprimand. He then ordered Lieut. N. to take a new detail, and charged him most emphatically to allow no foraging - threatening to have him cashiered, and his men shot, if anything of the kind was done. As the lieutenant left headquarters with his men, the A.A.A.G., who happened to be a well known captain of the 100th, repeated the order in a very impressive manner; but the boys imagined they saw in his eye, a slight wink, which they interpreted to mean ; "do not forage - but if you must, be sure and not to get caught." Well, the lieutenant placed his pickets, and with those who were off duty, bivouacked in the old man's veranda, and the night passed quietly. The old man slept without anxiety, on the assurance of the officer, who sparked his girls meantime, that all would be right. But it happened that in this detail was a private who was a skilled workman, a man of science and experience, and during the night he carefully removed the tops of some of the hives, emptied them of their luscious load, and then replaced them so carefully that no traces of the theft were visible. The old man took a look in the morning at his bee hives, but everything looked right, and he remained in blissful ignorance of his loss. "He that is robbed, not knowing it, is not robbed at all." How long this state of happy ignorance continued, is not known. But it lasted until the 100th was well on its way over the Cumberland mountains, and the honey was among the things that had been.
Early on the morning of the 16th of August, orders came to get ready to march at once. All was forthwith bustle and work, and by nine o'clock everything was ready, and at ten the army was again on the move.
An amusing incident occurred on starting. Since lying at Hillsboro, headquarters mess had rejoiced in the possession of a cook of the "cullud" and female "persuasion" - a great fat negress, who had come into camp from the adjoining country, and being really a good cook, had been employed in that capacity. She was a great admirer of the adjutant, pronouncing him the "hansummest man she ever sawed." Well, when "Aunt Emma" had got mounted on her old mule, with her kettles, pails, coffee pots, and other utensils strapped to the saddle, and all her personal paraphernalia as well - all nearly covering the mule out of sight, her red bandanna coiled over her head a la Turk, and her clothes streaming in the wind, and her impedimenta clattering by her side, she made a conspicuous, if not a military show. She now manifests her regard for the adjutant by trotting her old mule up past the regiment, and taking her position by his side! The expression of mingled mirth and vexation on the face of the adjutant, the shouts and snickers of the men, and the grieved look of poor old Emma as she fell back to the rear on being politely informed that that was her position - all made a scene over which the boys have had many a laugh - then and since.
The day was extremely hot, and starting on a fast walk, many were soon used up, being nearly sun-struck. At half-past four, they were at the foot of the mountain, eleven miles from Hillsboro. All took a good look at its steep and rugged sides, and dreaded the morrow's work, past experience having taught them that it would be no easy job to get the train up the mountain. The order for the next day was given out: reveille at three, march at four o'clock, and the men went to bed early to gather strength for the task before them.
The next day more than fulfilled their expectations. The regiment was marched part way up the mountain, stacked arms, and turned in to work again reinforcing the mules, pushing and pulling at the wagons. The road was full of sharp turns, and the ascent at times almost perpendicular. They passed a splendid spring part way up the mountain which comes out of the ground, flows quite a stream, and after going away down the side, disappears in a hole in the rock. The wagons had to be partially unloaded, and two trips made for each load. The first one was not concluded before midnight. The regiment was then allowed to rest, and most of them fell asleep in their tracks, when one of those strange and unaccountable panics broke out, the origin of which, at the time, no one could tell. It started, no one could tell why, where, or how, but all at once the men found themselves running around in the dark, stumbling over the rocks and each other, and for a few moments all was confusion and apprehension of something, they knew not what. Some were under the impression that the returning teams had run away, and they were in danger of being run over. But the scare soon ended, with nobody hurt. It was afterwards found that some mule driver ran over a soldier sleeping in the road, who started up from a sound sleep, half awake, and made such an outcry as to rouse the rest and create the panic.
The ascent was completed by half-past nine o'clock he next morning, and a rest was given until one o'clock p.m. In getting up the mountain, the boys lost and had to throw away much of their baggage. Headquarters mess lost their provision box. The colonel lost his favorite camp chair. The adjutant and major lost their cots, and all their tents. About the seventh day rations began to give out, and the boys were put on three-fourths allowance; but they would not stay put, and occasionally a gun was heard to go off, and soon after two soldiers would be seen coming into camp, the one in front with a pig on his shoulder, and the other behind him with fixed bayonet, as if taking him to the provost. But somehow or other, they failed to report, and the pig disappeared very mysteriously, and headquarters did not inquire very closely into the addition to their supper.
They then marched again about nine miles, going past Tracy City. This is a small town of about forty houses, and is noted for its coal mine, and a railroad; a branch of the C.&N.R.R. runs to it for the coal.
Next day, the 19th, reveille at three. The regiment was detailed to guard supply train, and had to wait for it until nine, the rest of the division starting at six. The road was rough, and much work was required to help the mules. After a march of fifteen miles, they went into camp. Next morning started at daylight with the train, and got across the mountain about noon. It took thirty-six hours to get up the mountain, one and a half miles, and the distance across diagonally was twenty or twenty-five miles - a rugged and wild country, with here and there a log hut. The mountain was infested with rattlesnakes, huge and venomous; some were killed having eleven to thirteen rattles, and three or four feet long. They found a fine stream of water on the top of the mountain.
Those having an eye for beautiful scenery were now amply repaid for all the toil of the ascent and crossing, by the view which lay spread out in the valley at the foot of the mountain. A most beautiful valley, with cultivated farms and orchards, dwellings, etc., was below them; and there also lay encamped that portion of the army which had preceded them, the tents looking in the distance no bigger than a man's hat. But the descent had yet to be made, and not much time can be spared to gratify the eye. Going down was not as easy as rolling off a log. Indeed, it was more tedious and dangerous than the ascent. The road was very crooked, and filled with gullies, boulders, etc. Four hours were required for the regimental ambulance to get down. The regiment camped in the valley at the base of the mountain, at a point known as "Thurman's," a cluster of only two or three houses. Our army had captured a few rebels, and also rescued four or five Union men, whom they had condemned to be shot, our cavalry getting there just in time to save them.
The valley is one of great beauty and fertility, lying between two ranges of the Cumberland mountains, and four or five miles in width. Its correct name is said to be Chee-quasch-chee, of course an Indian name, which has been corrupted by the people into "Squatch," "Squash," and most generally "Sequachee." The valley is sixty miles long. It is a wonderful peach country, and the boys arrived in the height of the season, and indulged freely in the luxury. Quite a business is done here in making up a good share of the product into peach brandy. Some of the boys tried their hand at distilling it, and, I am afraid, at drinking it, too. It is said to be a rather rough liquor when new. In this valley were also several tanneries which had been busy tanning leather for the Confederate army.
Gen. Wood here issued a congratulatory order to his division for the splendid manner in which they had accomplished the late tedious march.
The camp of the 100th was pitched in a most beautiful and romantic spot. Near by, gushing out from the foot of the mountain, was a large and beautiful spring, which supplied the division with water. Close by was the range of mountains over which they had just come, while across the valley was another range of about the same height, although not quite so precipitous. A little to the northwest was a long and rugged range of rocks, cut up with ravines, which in the changes of light and shade during the long summer's day, formed most beautiful pictures, needing but little aid from the imagination to seem an elevated and fortified city, with its walls, battlements, and towers, frowning defiance upon the beleaguering hosts below.
The valley, as we have said, is one of the most fertile in the state. Besides the peaches, which seemed to grown spontaneously by the roadsides, and even in the timber, were found apples, green corn, melons, berries, and chickens, in great abundance. Near the base of the eastern range flows a stream of the same name as the valley. In this valley the army enjoyed a fortnight's rest,which was very grateful after the passage of the mountains. Frequent details were sent out to forage for man and mule. The valley was also fertile in other respects than those we have named, as will appear from the following incident:
During the stay in the valley, Capt. Nelson was sent out with a detail for forage. Crossing the Sequachee Creek, he followed it down the valley for a few miles, but on ascertaining that a detail from another division was sent out before him, and had left but poor picking, he struck off to the left into another valley which debouched into the Sequachee. Going up this about five miles, the party came into a cultivated clearing, where they found peaches growing in abundance by the roadside. While the boys were harvesting these, the captain made his way to a plantation not very far off. Here he found a large, two-story double log house, built of hewn logs,with great outside chimney stacks at either end, the roof and verandas covered with "shakes" - all in the usual style of a southern well-to-do farmer. Sitting in the porch was an old man apparently about sixty years of age, and in the door was a pale-faced woman some ten or fifteen years younger. The captain, being invited to "have a cheer," entered into conversation with the couple. The old man said he had taken no part in the war, but was in favor of the old flag. The woman complained of having the "ager." The captain gave her some quinine, telling her how to take it, and assuring her that it would cure her in a few days. She seemed a little afraid of it at first, saying that she never "hearn tell" of it before; she had had a "right smart chance of the ager," but she had always "got shut" of it by taking "roots and yerbs." But after seeing the captain taste of the powder, and being assured of its efficacy, she "allowed" she would try it. While this conversation had been going on, a lot of children, of all ages, sizes, and sexes, had been gathering around, all of them towheaded, and dressed in the butternut linsey woolsey uniform of the country. The captain, supposing that they had gathered in from the neighboring plantations to have a look at a live yankee, jocosely inquired of the old man if these were all his children, and was astonished with a prompt affirmative reply. On giving voice to his surprise and incredulity, he was still more astonished by being assured that these were not all - that they had twenty-four children, all living - all born of the same mother, five pair being twins. The old man "allowed," moreover, that they "mought" have more yet! On the captain's rejoining his men and telling what he had seen, he was thought to be romancing, until the sight of the old man with his flock coming down through the grass confirmed the story.
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