Robert C. Carden was born in Coffee County, Tennessee on July 4, 1843, the youngest of the five children of Reuben and Sarah (nee' Henry) Carden. On May 23, 1861, he enlisted in the Confederate Army at Manchester, Tenn. He served in Company B of the 16th Tennessee Infantry until January of 1865. He, and the 16th Tennessee fought at Perrysville, Murfreesboro and Chickamauga and from there to Lovejoy Station below Atlanta. This soldier was wounded at Perrysville and Nashville.
After the war, Robert married the former Martha Hickerson. They made their home in Manchester, TN and had twelve children, the youngest of whom was my grandfather, Fieldon Miller Carden. In 1911 Robert traveled to Boone, Iowa to visit his son B. H. Carden. While there he struck up friendships with many people in the community, some of whom were former Union soldiers. When he returned to Manchester he maintained these friendships and was eventually asked to write some articles for the local newspaper about his experiences in the Civil War. The articles were published weekly and appear to have been very popular. As they were published, Robert would paste each clipping in a scrapbook, along with the clippings about his visit to Iowa and other articles about the Civil War. This scrapbook survives and is now owned by his namesake, Robert C. Carden, who is my father. The newspaper clippings are too fragile to copy or scan. I have transcribed them exactly as they are written and indicated the few letters or words which are unreadable. I cannot vouch for their accuracy, nor do I share all of his attitudes. They appear as they were written and he speaks from his time and place in history. I hope you enjoy them. If you have occasion to reproduce or use them in any way please give credit to their author, Robert C. Carden and to their present guardian, my father Robert C. Carden (who believes himself to be the first Carden born north of the Mason Dixon. Questions or inquiries may be directed to me: email@example.com
Clippings (not all dated) which appeared in the paper before his articles:
May 30, 1911
B.H. Carden, who lives on the Tom Clark place
in Adamson Grove, is enjoying a visit from his father, R. C. Carden of
Manchester, Tennessee, who is here for a visit until after the 4th
of July. Comrade Carden was a confederate soldier in Co. B, 16 Tennessee
Infantry and served during the entire war. He is a typical southern soldier
and gentleman. While in town Saturday with his son, he met a number of
the old "Yankee boys" against whom he bravely fought during the four years
of the war, and between them there was a lively exchange of friendly yarns,
interesting to themselves and to the younger generation who gathered around
them. We hope Comrade Carden's first visit in the north will prove one
of the happiest experiences of his life.
R. C. Carden, the old Confederate veteran who had been visiting for over two months with his sons, B. H. Carden in Adamson Grove, and Jack Carden of Reasnor, left Sunday for his home at Manchester, Tennessee. This was the first time Comrade Carden had been north of "Mason and Dixon line," and he found the Yankees a pretty good sort of people, especially the Union Veterans, among whom he made many friends. We think he would love to come back some day, and we would love to have him.
AN OLD CONFEDERATE'S STORY
R. C. Carden, the old Tennessee Confederate soldier who visited last summer with his sons, B. H. and Jack Carden in this county--and made a whole lot of friends among our Yankee boys--is writing a history of his four years service in the rebel army for Pete Swick's paper, the Independent at Boone. He gives, the plain facts, without any flourishes, which makes his letter of special interest to the soldiers who fought against him on the other side.
Now begins his tale.....
In 1861, when the war clouds obscured the sky I was a boy of 17, living in Tennessee. In common with all the boys of my age, whether living north or south I had the military spirit and at the first opportunity placed my name upon the rolls as a soldier, volunteering to fight for my native state.
On the 21st day of May, 1861, I enlisted in company B, 16th Tennessee Infantry, under Col. Jno. H. Savage, and was sent to Estil Springs, on the N. C. & St. L. railroad, where we stayed a few days, and then went to Camp Trousdale, north of Nashville on the Louisville & Nashville railroad, near the Kentucky line. We stayed there until there were enough Tennessee companies to form a regiment, when John H. Savage was elected Colonel and we were detailed for guard duty while there and had a very easy time until the measles broke out in our camp and several died. I took the measles and came very near dying. I was given a furlough and came home and stayed until I was able to join my regiment which in the meantime had been sent to West Virginia. Myself and brother James A. Carden, who was home on furlough started to our command sometime in the summer of 1861 and finally found our regiment, which was stationed on Cheat Mountain, near the Ohio line.
Our army had had a fight with Gen. Rosecrans' forces just before we arrived there. We stayed there but a short time when we were ordered to Pocataligo, S. C., where we went by way of Lynchburg and Petersburg, Va., Wilmington, N. C., Charleston, S. C., to our destination. We landed there early in the spring of 1862 and did camp duty there. Two companies were sent out to Gardner's Corners, eight miles from where our command was camped and a detail was sent out from Gardner's Corners to Port Royal. Every day we did picket duty as the Yankees were in force on Buford's Island. Right there was where I saw my first Yankees. We could see them walking around while we were on picket. When we were out we would gather oysters and lived high with plenty of oysters, sweet potatoes. We, being green and not knowing when the Yankees might run over on us, would get awfully scared sometimes at night, when we heard the porpoise splashing in the water, and we were sure the Yankees were coming and we would get ready to receive them, but they never came.
Immediately after the battle of Shiloh we got orders to hasten there and landed there a short time after the battle. Bragg's army was then at Corinth, Miss. Our army fell back to Tupelo, Miss. And there I was taken sick and left in the hospital and the command went on to Chattanooga, Tenn. When I got able to travel I started after them. I had no transportation, no rations and not a cent of money and about a thousand miles to travel. Well, the first thing that happened to me after getting aboard the train was when the conductor asked me for my fare. I told about my being in the hospital and being left there but it did not suffice and he told me I would have to get off at the next station and I guess he would have landed me, but there was a big Confederate soldier on the train who said he would not put me off and if he fooled around me any more he would throw him through the window and I was not molested after that.
At Mobile, Ala., I ran across a soldier who had all the necessary papers for transportation, rations, etc, and I took them up to the room at the hotel and drew me off a set just like them. We went down to the landing and got aboard the boat and the captain said he was going to drop down the river to the commissary and that all who had the necessary papers could draw rations. Myself and partner, having papers, felt first rate. When we landed at the commissary, my partner told me to take his haversack along as it would not be necessary for both to go. I did as requested and on passing in there was a big fat fellow sitting in a chair, too lazy to stand up I guess, and he told me to go in, get some hard tack and meat and when I came out he would weigh them but he never done it, for when I filled one haversack with hard tack and put a ham in the other I slid out of the back door and went to the boat. My partner and I went clear up on top and located our quarters under a boat that was turned bottom up and there we stayed and slept every night until we arrived at Montgomery, Ala. Which is 450 miles. After the boat started I think I ate but one meal with my partner. When the bell rang I would go down below, walk into the dining room, hang up my hat and sit down at the table. None of the officers or waiters took any notice of me and I had a fine time. My partner told me they would get after me, but I said if they did I would quit. It took us four days to make the trip and when I got to Montgomery I boarded the train and went to Atlanta, Ga.
In Atlanta I went into a saloon thinking that something might turn up that I might put myself on the outside of some of Paddy's eyewater. I did not have a red cent or any other kind of currency, but had some hope. I always had that, and while standing around seeing others drinking I looked down on the floor and saw a $3.00 bill, state bank money. Any kind of money was good those balmy days, so I stepped up to the counter and called for some of the article itself, and while my three dollars lasted I was in the swim.
I went from there to my command at Chattanooga and was awfully glad to see the boys. We stayed there some time planning where we could locate some Yankees to give them another threshing when we concluded to light out for Kentucky. We crossed the Tennessee river at Chattanooga, then across the mountains to Sparta, Tenn. In crossing the Cumberland mountains we had orders to fill our canteens with water as we could not get any until we got over on the other side. We marched over in the night and never saw a drop of water until we landed near Sparta, all tired and completely exhausted.
I remember that we laid over one ???? there and I got to thinking I would like to have some good old Tennessee applejack, and a comrade named Smartt and I started out to see if we could find just a bit of it. We would inquire of the natives and went to several distilleries and finally after going about eight miles we found it. We had two Yankee canteens apiece and had them filled and you never saw two happier fellows than we were when we started back to camp. We met some of Gen. Bragg's escort and the captain of the squad asked us if we had any liquor, and Smartt, fool-like, said we had some of the best apple brandy he ever saw, and right there is where Smartt made the mistake of his life for the captain said, "Well, boys, you'll have to pour it out." That remark nearly broke my heart for I knew the jig was up, so we commenced to empty our canteens. As I emptied mine I stepped back through the soldiers, spilling the contents of one of mine on the ground. The other was under my coat and I saved that from devastation. Smartt got rid of all that he had. The captain then said if we would go back with him where we got it we should have our money back, so Smartt went back with them and I stayed where we emptied our canteens. One of the cavalrymen asked me if I did not have some left. I told him to hush for if the captain should find it out it would be Katy with me so he went with the rest of the crowd.
When Smartt got back we put ourselves in shape not to pour any of the rest on the ground and when we got back to camp about sundown Smartt was cutting up so the Colonel was about to put him under guard but he did not and neither of us was punished for our trip.
We remained in camp for a few days and then marched in a northerly direction, passing through the country where several companies of our regiment were raised and we could see women and children on the roads to greet their loved ones as we marched along. We arrived at Gainsboro, on the Cumberland river and stopped for a rest. A lot of us went down to the river to go in bathing, and I remember a circumstance that occurred while we were in the river. Some of our teamsters came down to water their mules and one of our boys asked permission of one of the teamsters to lead one of the mules into the water. There were several in the water at the time and the mule soon got into deep water and if there ever was a circus that mule certainly made one. It was but a little while till everybody was out on the bank and the soldier and the mule had the whole river to themselves. The soldier finally got away from the mule and we thought sure the animal would drown. Sometimes his head would come to the surface, then the other end would show up, then his feet were up, then he would disappear altogether, but he finally quit his capers, stuck his nose out of the water, circled around a little and came ashore.
After resting up a few days we started northward toward Kentucky. We passed several towns, that I do not remember much about, after fifty years, but I remember that we passed through Bardstown. We also went out of our way to a place named Munfordsville where about 4,500 Yankees had repulsed some of our cavalry but when they found they had Bragg's army before them they surrendered.
I never saw any of them but I remember the night before the surrender we were lying down in the road and by the side of it, when a wagon or artillery got up a big hub-bub and if there ever was a scared lot of tired out Rebels it was us. Everyone was asleep, I suppose, and such running and scrambling I never saw. I remember that I was so scared that I left my gun lying in the road and everybody seemed to be hunting a tree to get behind. I think a Yankee corporal's guard could have captured the whole outfit. I understood at the time that the panic ran through the whole army. I was in another panic in Georgia and it was on the same order. Everybody was scared almost to death and it started in the same way.
From here we continued our march until we arrived at Perryville, Kentucky. The battle of Perryville was fought on the 8th day of October, 1863. Gen. Bragg said in his report of the battle that his forces did not exceed 40,000, all told, and that Gen. Buell had about two to one. Bragg says: "We captured, wounded and killed not less than 25,000 of the enemy, took over thirty cannon, 17,000 small arms, some 2,000,000 cartridges for the same, destroyed over a hundred wagons and brought out of Kentucky more than a hundred more with mules and harness complete, replaced our horses by a fine mount and lived two months on rations captured from the enemy, and secured material to clothe the army."
I remember we went into the battle close to a small creek. We had just got to the top of a small hill when we saw the enemy rise to their feet and then business began, and things were hot for a time. There was a battery on our left that was giving us grape and canister and the bullets were singing around us. A man was standing just in front of me while I was loading my gun and I happened to have my eyes on him just as a canister struck him in the breast and I saw the white flesh before it bled. He was a dead man.
Col. John H. Savage, in his report of the engagement said that our regiment, the 16th Tennessee, killed the Yankee general Jackson. The Yankee general was one of the bravest men that ever went into battle. Some of my company was close by him when he was killed. They said that he was standing on some part of a cannon with his hat in his hand, urging his men to put it to us. Our men demanded his surrender but he would not notice a word they said and in the conflict some one shot him dead.
After giving the Yankees a good thrashing we started to hunt some more to whip. We had full possession of the battlefield but our rations being about out we started for Cumberland Gap. On this retreat I suffered more with hunger than I ever did during the war. I remember one day on that march myself and a comrade were sitting down by the road to rest when our Assistant Surgeon came riding by and I asked him if he could give a fellow a bite of something to eat. He reached down in his haversack and gave me a biscuit which I divided with my comrade, and I think to this day how good that biscuit tasted. We had a hard time on this trip as the Yankees had been over this road on their way to Cumberland Gap, and where they had been there wasn't much left for us.
From Cumberland Gap we went to the railroad above Knoxville and took the cars to Tullahoma and went into camp where we stayed for some time. I was then within 14 miles of home and I visited home quite often. Our adjutant liked a drink of applejack quite well and as there was a still near my home I would get a pass frequently. I suppose our Colonel did not know anything about it, so I would run up home, visit the folks and lay in a jug of brandy.
I remember on one occasion while we were camped there one of our company had been out about five miles to visit his people and a night or so later four or five of us went out to where this fellow reported that his brother-in-law, a preacher at that, had a lot of liquor on hand and was selling it. As we did not want to buy any, one of the crowd acted as officer, and he told the preacher we wanted some liquor, and as he said he had some the officer told him we would have to take him to camp together with what liquor he had. If you ever heard any begging that preacher did it. As we didn't want the preacher some of us told the officer that if he would promise not to sell any more we would let him off but we would be compelled to take what liquor he had, which we did, and let him go.
As quick as we got started we commenced to store it away and when we got back to camp we were a lively set. It was a cold frosty night and the first thing I did after getting to camp was to try to catch a dog. We had an old fellow in our company who had a little wooly dog. I had a big fish hook and baited it with a piece of meat and proceeded to catch the dog. He did not take hold of it for some time and while I was lying down on my stomach expecting him to bite one of our crowd became boisterous down on the company grounds and an officer was about to put him in the guard house. One of the boys started down there to help him out of the difficulty and I heard him go kersplash into one of the wells we had dug. I was so tickled that I knew the old fellow who owned the dog would hear me laughing so I jumped up to run just as the dog got the bait in his mouth and I dragged him a little distance when the fish hook tore loose and the dog got away. But Charlie Lance got an awful cold bath just the same.
We stayed at Tullahoma for some time until we heard of Rosencran's and a lot of Yankees at Nashville, and as we had whipped Buell at Perryville, we hiked off down to Murfreesboro, passing through Manchester, my home town, so I got permission (I suppose) and went out two miles to see my mother and stayed all night at home, and was back to my command by daylight the next morning.
It took us two days to march to Murfreesboro and we stayed there some time until Rosecrans came out from Nashville to see what we were doing.
We marched out four or five miles on the Nashville road and formed in line of battle and the first thing Mr. Rosecrans knew we were onto him. Our forces put it to him hard and heavy, driving back his right back some distance but we could not move them back but a little where the river turns north from the pike and railroad, so we started south toward Chattanooga to see if we could find some Yankees to whip.
Before going any further with our move I will tell you about our regiment being sent down toward Nashville before the battle to see what was going on. We marched down about Lavergne, half way between Murfreesboro and Nashville and on passing a house about sixty rods from the pike we saw a bunch of our men down there, so myself and Mose Messick went down there to see what was going on. We saw a citizen selling apples to the boys out of a window. He was selling them for 50 cents a dozen. Neither Mose or myself had a cent and I thought it was no go for us, but Mose, after standing there for some time said: "Look here, ain't you going to give me my change back at all?" and the man said he didn't know he owed him any change and Mose proved by me that he had given him $5 and he was tired of standing there so long. The man forked over $4.50 and we went out to the pike. Mose gave me a part of the money and I went back and bought what apples we wanted.
After the battle I went over the field and saw where our forces had captured a battery and there were more dead men to 40 or 50 yards square than I ever saw during the whole war. Most of them were Yankees and I think from the way things looked that the Yankees used their guns until most of them were killed right on the spot. I noticed also that they had cut their horses throats. They were lying around there men and horses together.
We started on the retreat and went to Shelbyville via Murfreesboro and camped there quite a while. Rosecrans did not follow us up and I guess both sides got a plenty.
From there we marched to Tullahoma and remained there until in the summer time. While there we threw up breastworks and cleared Bragg's "new ground" on the west and north of town. The clearing was something like a fourth of a mile wide and went by the name of Bragg's New Ground for years. We did not get to plant it as Rosecrans flanked us and we had to hike for Chattanooga.
On this march I remember I found some apples about the size of a quail's egg, under an apple tree and I ate about as many as I could hold, and that night we were notified that we could draw some rations but I was too tired and sleepy to get up. I was about petered out and had done without rations so long I was not hungry.
At Chattanooga we went into camp southeast of town and had a very good time there. As usual, when I didn't have any Yankees to whip I was in some devilment. I had a chum who was always ready for anything and when necessary I would write a pass, sign all the necessary officers' names to it and we would go to town. I had two trusty comrades, Bob Tucker and John Robinson. Robinson and I would go to town and he would borrow $10 of somebody, then we would proceed to enclose the quart. The quart cost $10. Then we would find where some citizen was selling it on the sly. I would take our canteens and go where it was kept for sale, go in and find that he had it, get my vessels full, sit down and have a big talk. About the time we got in a good way Robinson would rush in, the maddest man you ever saw. He would cuss and abuse me, threaten to kick me out of the house, etc., then he would turn to the man and tell him what he would do to me when he got me back to camp, and while that was going on I would quietly walk out with the liquor. They would talk a while (to give me time to get away) then Robinson would say he must go. When the man would say that I had not paid for the whisky, then Robinson was madder than ever. He would cuss and tear around and say he had given me the money to pay for it and he would go and bring me back. He would finally locate me out of town and as our business in town had been transacted we would go back to camp.
On another occasion I took Bob Tucker. Bob had been to town the day before and had partly made a deal for a lot of ginger cakes and had told the fellow he would go back to camp and come in the next day with his partner and close the deal. So I fixed up our credentials and we lit out for town. When we got to the fellow's store, a small concern, he was very busy with customers and told us to walk into the back room, and he would be in soon. He had the cakes in sheets about the size of a door but had a lot cut up into regulation size. About this time we heard an awful noise in the alley and the door being locked I jumped up and caught the transom and held there to see what was the matter and while there Tucker was stuffing my haversack full of cakes. I held on till he filled it and then let loose and as he had his filled we thought while the commotion lasted we would walk out the door. The only thing that had happened was a white fellow had knocked a negro down in the alley. We returned to camp with about as many ginger cakes as anybody ever carried in tow haversacks.
A few days afterwards a fellow came to camp selling pies and other things out of a wagon. I went up to where he was doing business and at once saw he was in need of a clerk, as everything was going like hot cakes. I said: "Mister, you don't seem to be able to wait on them all. I will help you if you want me to." He said, "All right," so I got up in the hind end of the wagon and the way I sold truck was a sight. Robinson, my partner, and messmate wanted a whole lot of stuff and would buy only of me. He would buy 75 cents worth and give me a dollar and I would give him three or four dollars change. Now and then when Robinson was gone I would hand over what money I had to the boss. But Robinson was the best customer we had.
In the evening the fellow went to the Colonel and told him he had a load that ought to have brought him $250 or $300 and he only got about $50 out of it. I felt sorry for the fellow and never charged him a cent for helping him. I'm telling these things as few would know of the kind traits of a soldier if I did not.
I was going down Main street in Chattanooga one day when I saw a crowd of soldiers gathered around a big fat fellow, a Colonel of a Tennessee regiment, who was full as a tick. He had a fish pole on his shoulder and seemed to be headed for the river. The boys were teasing him and they got him red hot. He would cuss them with all the cuss words he could muster up and he could muster a whole lot of them. He told them they would desert if they were not so far from home and he handed it out to them in fine style. One of the soldiers said, "Well, old man, go on about your fishing. I hope you'll catch lots of fish." He said, "I hope I won't get a d--d bite."
While we were camped on Missionary ridge we went up the river a short distance where a creek run into the Tennessee river above Chattanooga and the first we knew a lot of Yankees opened up on us and we got away from there in short order. I remember while we were camped there I took a couple of canteens and went down to a spring to get some water. The spring was in a narrow gulley and I saw three Muscovy ducks about half grown so I spread myself out like a woman spreads her dress when she is driving a hen and chicks; I did that to keep them from going by me. When one came near enough I would grab it, pull its head off and put it in my shirt bosom. I served them all the same way and they cut up and flopped until the front of my shirt was as bloody as though a hog had been butchered in my bosom. But I tell you they were fine eating on an empty stomach.
We camped around Chattanooga until the Yankees
came down about the Chickamauga country and concluded to give us a spanking.
We were not ready to take it so we ran together and put it to them in fine
style. We were going to run them into Chattanooga and I guess we would
have done it if it had not been for Thomas. We lost lots of men there and
the other side lost heavily too. I drew one minie ball. It glanced across
my cheek about half an inch from my right eye and the scar is there now.
I don't know how many I killed for I had no chance to count them. I was
sent to a hospital below there but was back again in a week. While I was
in the hospital it seemed that the authorities tried to starve us so we
would want to go back to our regiments.
I got very hungry and one day while at Chickamauga I sauntered out to where some citizens were selling things that a hungry soldier likes and there I did one of the meanest tricks I was guilty of during the war. I never have felt just right about it to this good day. While I was standing around seeing others buying and eating I saw a woman selling half moon pies. She had an old horse and buggy and I walked up to her and said, "Madam, do you see that man walking off there?" pointing to a fellow about twenty steps away. She said she did and I said, "That fellow stole a lot of your pies." She went after him, and as soon as she started I commenced to pile half moon pies into my bosom. I stored away my goods and by the time she got through with the fellow I had business somewhere else, I went out behind a big pine tree and soon got outside the pies and went to my command.
Soon after this I was on the battle field the first day after my return. The Yankee soldiers that had been killed had not been buried and it was about a week as I recollect after the battle. The bodies were swollen so one could hardly see that they were men. They were actually as large as a horse. That was the worst sight I saw in the war. There was another thing I saw the same day, that I have always felt a delicacy in telling, that was our forces had gathered up all the small arms that was left on the field, a week before, the guns of our killed and wounded and the Yankees too, for we were in posession of the field, and the guns were racked up like cord wood. I never measured how long the ricks were but feel safe in saying that they were seventy-five yards each.
In the battle of Chickamauga after I was wounded I went for the rear and in going back a cannon ball struck a limb on a big pine tree over me, I heard it hit the limb and stopped a second or so when the limb fell just in front of me. I believe I stepped over it the next step I took after it fell. I have always thought this was the closest call I had in the war.
We moved down to the railroad toward Atlanta and we had more or less fighting and skirmishing until we got to Atlanta.
We had quite a hard fight at or near Resaca, Georgia. I will never forget the experience I had in fighting there. We were on one side of a hollow and the Yankees on top of the hill on the other side. The first evening we were there most of the fighting was an artillery duel and we hugged the ground closely as some of our batteries were up on the hill just behind us. Gen. Polk and his escort came up on the hill behind the battery and we could hear the minie balls strike their horses and they soon left.
Two of my company, R. E. Garrett and James McGuire were lying down behind a log. A cannon ball went under the log and came out between them, covering them with dirt. The Yankees made it hot for us that evening as we did not have time to throw up works. That night we worked nearly all night and by morning we were fixed for them.
Just before 'day next morning I was detailed with others to go on picket duty about seventy-five yards down in front of our lines. I had been sick all night and was really in no condition to go, but this was no time to falter, so I went. Right down there on the picket line I had about the worst time I ever experienced. Our officer scattered us along about seventy-five yards apart. When day began to appear the Yankees began to shoot at us. I discovered a big pine stump near my post and I proceeded to get behind it. Then I was not safe as they could see me and commenced to cross fire on me. I saw that it was a bad proposition so I laid on my stomach and with my bayonet would dig up the sand and shove it out at each side and push the rest down with my feet and finally got a respectable war grave dug, I was still very sick, suffering from diarrhoea and I was sleepy. The Yankees were still pegging away at me, a ball would strike the stump or a shell burst near me and wake me up but I would fall asleep as quickly as I would wake, so I laid there in the hot sun until about the middle of the afternoon when I saw if I staid until night there would be a dead Rebel and he would have his grave already dug for him so I concluded to attempt to run back to the breastworks, about seventy-five rods up hill. You can imagine how sick I was to attempt such a dangerous trip for I was safe from Yankee bullets behind that stump. Well, I lit out as fast as I could run and every Yankee in sight took a shot at me. The bullets would zip by me and hit the ground but I kept pulling for the shore and when I got to breastworks I just simply fell over them down among the boys and not a scratch on me.
Soon after that the officer on picket duty was driven in and he had 18 bullet holes through his blanket but came out with a whole hide. A Lieutenant-Colonel was killed just on our right. Our regiment was not engaged but on our right they had it hot and heavy. After dark we commenced to retreat and marched until we got back as far as Gen. Joe Johnston wanted to go, formed again, and we kept it up until we landed south of the Chattahoochie river, with plenty of fighting all along.
I will tell some of the things I saw before we landed near Atlanta. While we were on Rocky Face Hill or Ridge, when we had nothing to do we would carry large rocks up on the ridge and turn them loose. The Yankee pickets were down on the side of the hill and the way those rocks would run and crash against trees was a caution. The Yankees could stand lead and cannon balls but the rocks were enough to break any of Sherman's lines that he could form.
It was fighting and falling back all the time. I will go south of the Chattahoochie river where the Rebel pickets were on the south side and the Yankees on the north. We got very friendly there and frequently some would cross over and do a lot of trading. The currency was coffee on the Yankee side and tobacco on the Rebel side. We would trade for U. S. stamps as we could send mail around by Richmond and Washington to our folks back in the territory occupied by the Federal army.
The way we did was to get a small flat rock, tie on a piece of tobacco and throw it across the river. The Yankees would wade out in the water and pick it up if it fell short. I was the only one on our side who could throw across the river and there was a red faced, red headed Yankee who was left handed who could throw over to our side. I remember on one occasion I put a piece of tobacco on a rock and threw it over saying "This is for the officer," and the soldier that got it took it to the officer. I saw him pull out a long book that he carried his papers in and handed the fellow five stamps. The red headed fellow threw them over to me.
One day while I was on picket there a handsome young fellow swam over. He was a fine fellow and I would be awful glad to meet him again. He came over on a trading expedition and while he was on our side I got in conversation with him. I told him I had a mother back in Tennessee who had not heard from me in a long time and asked him if he would mail a letter for me. He said he would and I wrote to my mother and he took it with him. On the way back he was so heavily loaded that he nearly drowned. We got him back and one of the boys went about a quarter of a mile and got a rail and he then made it all right. When the war was over and I got home I found the letter all right. He had mailed it as he said he would.
BOONE, IOWA. FRIDAY MORNING,
MAY 10, 1912
After the battle of Chickamauga we fell back to Dalton and went into winter quarters and had a very quiet time. I remember a few things that happened while there. There was a wood shed and water tank and a detail was sent out every night to see that nothing was molested. I was a non-commissioned officer and I took half a dozen privates and went out there on guard duty all night. On one occasion I remember a soldier came around there to wait till the train pulled in to get a jug of whisky that he had ordered. One of my chums and I found out that he had a bottle of whisky in his pocket and we wanted it. He sat around the fire for quite a while before he went to sleep. When he got to snoring about right I motioned to my chum to see if he could ease it out of pocket. He worked for quite a while but failed to land it so I motioned for him to get out of the way and let me try my hand at it. The bottle was a round one and I gave it a kind of a twisted pull and out it came and we went out in the dark and tanked up on it.
I think it was the same night when the train had pulled in, took on wood and water and had pulled out again a citizen who had come in on the train come into the shed where the guard was and told me he had brought a half dozen sacks of apples and that they were up the track about fifty yards. I told him it would not do to let them remain there, that the soldiers who were camped around there would steal every one of them, and that he had better carry them into the shed where they would be safe. I had several of the guard help him carry them in and put them around the fire under the shed. I thought that fellow never would go to sleep but he finally dozed off and when he had got to sleeping about right I told one of the guards to get a move on him. He picked up a sack of the apples and hid them. The fellow never missed them, for just before day a bunch of soldiers came in and gobbled up the whole business, but we saved our sack and took them to camp when we left.
We were at Dalton on Christmas day, 1853. We wanted to have something extra, so we put ourselves to thinking. One of our company, G. J. Newman, (Gabe, for short) drove a commissary wagon, and on Christmas day he had brought in a barrel of whisky, for the officers, I suppose, but Gabe let us into the secret, and after night Robinson took a water bucket and got it full and we filled our canteens and whatever we had to put it in. Just before day Gabe came over to our mess and said he had to go to Dalton after some more rations and wanted John Robinson to go with him. I was satisfied that when Robinson went we would have something in the way of a Christmas dinner that would be a hummer when Robinson filled up from a canteen before he left.
When Robinson and the teamster got to the depot at Dalton Robinson went in and saw a box that he thought would suit him, so he carried it out and put it in the wagon, then went back and got a side of bacon and loaded it. When they arrived in camp Robinson brought the box and meat to our mess and when we opened the box the stuff was there sure enough. The box had been sent from somewhere down in Georgia to some of their folks who were camped around Dalton but they never received it. The contents consisted of sugar, pies, eggs and plenty of other good things too numerous to mention. We invited our company officers and some of the regimental officers to take dinner with us. They inquired where all the good things came from but they never found out. Besides having plenty of good things to eat we had plenty of good old fashioned egg nog. It was a Christmas long to be remembered. We had good times at Dalton as there were no Yankees near to cause us any uneasiness.
I remember a couple of incidents at Dalton that had slipped my mind. One was a snow battle between some Tennessee soldiers and some Georgia troops. It commenced in a small way but grew to be a big battle with at least a brigade on each side with the officers and colors. The snow was five or six inches deep. There was a small branch between the combatants and sometimes one side, then the other would have possession of the field. Sometimes the Tennesseans would drive the Georgia men back, then they would rally and drive the other side. They used up all the snow on the field then each side had a detail to bring up big snow balls to be used as ammunition. Our Tennessee side finally charged the Georgia fellows and ran them back to their camp. I never got there for at the branch a Georgia fellow rolled up a snowball with a lot of ground with it and struck me in the eye, coming very near knocking my eye out, so I got knocked out and went back to the rear. I understood that several lost an eye in the fight.
While in camp at Dalton Gen. Johnston issued an order giving a furlough to one in every twenty-five, so each officer commanding a company put all the names of his company in a hat and let each man draw. A soldier of my mess drew one and as he had no place to go in the South he gave it to me for I had an aunt in Northern Mississippi. I fixed up in the best clothing I had which was the same I wore every day, and started with a little less than a hundred dollars. I had to go by way of Atlanta, Montgomery, Ala, and there boarded a boat for Selma, Ala. From there to Meridian, Miss then down to Jackson, the capital. There my troubles began, for an army of Yankees had come out from Memphis and done the railroad up in apple pie order. They had burned every bridge and car except one box car on the road from Jackson north to Grenada, the engines had been burned, all the woodwork about them being gone and I had to go fifteen miles in a hack to where the train was to start. I put up at a hotel and stayed all night and I thought I had better go down and pay my bill which I did. The clerk said the regular price was $5.00 but that he would charge me but $4.50. My money was growing short. I had transportation but I could not go north until the next day. I went back to my room and when the bell rang I would go down and take a meal with them and I kept that up till I left the next afternoon when I crossed the river and went up to the next station. I don't know what I would have done if the clerk had got after me for the hotel bill, but he did not.
After we were put across the river we started on our way and got along all right until after we separated. I left him within about two miles of his destination and cut across to strike the road from his town to Holly Springs. I was making good headway till I looked ahead and saw a squad of cavalry coming my way, so I went back from the road a little distance and laid down until they had passed. I went on some distance when I ran right into a company of Rebel scouts. They never took any particular notice of me and I continued on my way. They had left one fellow on picket and when he saw me he inquired my business there and I told him I was on a furlough from old Joe Johnston's army, and pulled out my papers for his inspection and this satisfied him.
I had no further trouble and went on. That night I stayed at the home of a widow and the next morning arrived at Holly Springs.
I inquired around for my aunt and was told that she was down the railroad the way I had come, about twelve miles. On inquiry I found some of my relatives of whom I had heard but had never seen, and visited them.
It got out around town that there was a Rebel in town from Tennessee, and about the second day after my arrival a man came to me and asked what part of Tennessee I was from. I told him and found that two of his boys were in my company. He told me to make his home my headquarters and to make myself at home. The next day another man asked me where I was from and he was born and raised in my country and I knew his people well. Gen. Marcus J. Wright's sister sent for me and I took dinner with her. I was in Gen. Wright's brigade.
After spending about a week in Holly Springs and having a big time, I concluded to start on my way to see my aunt. I got ready and boarded the train. The engine was a small mule hitched to a handcar and the engineer a boy about ten or twelve years of age. When we got to the top of a grade the boy would take the mule out and we would make good time down grade when we would stay around until the boy and mule would catch up with us and hitch onto the train again and we followed that kind of travel until we landed at our destination. The fare for the trip was $10.
After inquiring around I found my aunt was about seven miles out in the country so I started out on foot. I had not gone more than three or four miles when I ran up on a Rebel cavalryman. He asked what I was doing there and I showed him my furlough and that satisfied him. While I was walking along I found a currycomb, one of the kind you can buy for five cents now and he asked me what I would take for it. As I was broke I told him I would sell it for a dollar, and after a good deal of parleying he gave me a dollar for it. I found my aunt this time and stayed with her quite a while.
I had a good time here and attended a number of dinners and parties where I had a fine time with the girls.
My furlough had about expired and I began to figure on my return. My aunt had cooked a lot of good things to eat, and I was to start the next morning. Along some time in the night a neighbor came and said there was a lot of Yankee cavalry within two or three miles of us. While I was up in this north Mississippi country the pesky Yankees had run out from Memphis and destroyed the railroad that I had come over and instead of returning the same way I had to cut across the country to the Mobile & Ohio railroad, about fifty miles.
I started real early and looked back often to see if the Yankees were coming and traveled thirty-five miles that day. I stopped over night with a widow lady and started out early next morning. I struck up with a lot of soldiers returning to the army. They had a spring wagon and I had to pay them $10 to get to ride with them. My aunt had given me $60 to bear my expenses and we finally arrived at Tupelo, Miss. And found we were cut off on that railroad too.
The bunch held a consultion and decided that the only thing that could be done was to cut across the country in the direction of Selma, Alabama. We would march twenty or twenty-five miles a day and put up two at a place. I think there were six of us, and no one would charge us for lodging. I remember that another fellow and myself put up at the house of a professor who was running a big school and he had two nice girls. They told me if I would stay and go to school it would not cost me a cent.
We went on from day to day until we struck the end of a railroad and camped at the depot. We cooked sweet potatoes with pine knots and we made up between us not to pay any fare on the train.
Some time in the early morning we boarded the train and when the conductor came around I was the last one he tackled. I noticed that he made them all pay, so when he came to me I told him where I had been, about being cut off from getting out of Northern Mississippi and that I was busted. To my surprise he said "All Right."
After we had got under good headway I noticed that a couple of ladies just opposite me were nearly tickled to death at something about me. I examined my clothing to see if any buttons were off or any of my clothing was unbuttoned and finding nothing wrong concluded as I was the laughing stock I would go into another coach. In passing out I looked in a mirror and right there I saw what tickled the ladies. I hardly knew myself for in cooking the potatoes with pine knots the smoke had settled all over my face till I looked like white people do in a negro show, white around my eyes and mouth and the rest of my face as black as a negro.
We arrived at Selma some time before noon and boarded the first boat for Montgomery but passed our regiment on the river some time in the night, bound for Selma. I did not find this out until we arrived at Montgomery and found some of our company officers who had been left there to bring up the stragglers. I then got on a boat and went back down the river to Selma. I will say here that in making the trip from Holly Springs to where we boarded the train was 257 miles that I traveled on foot.
BOONE, IOWA. FRIDAY MORNING,
MAY 24, 1912
We remained at Selma but a few days and then returned to near Dalton, Georgia.
I had another trip, I think it was somewhere on our retreat from Dalton to Atlanta, that I was sent out with six men, down on a railroad, I do not remember what road it was, to see if we could find out what the Yankees were doing. We went about eight or ten miles and were walking leisurely along when the first thing that attracted my attention was the soldiers that were with me cocking their guns. They were a little behind me and as I looked around I saw a Yankee officer about twenty-five yards away coming in the road behind us. I told the men not to shoot and the officer came walking up to us very unconcerned and I commenced to question him. I asked him what he was doing there by himself and he said he was lost from his command, that he was a lieutenant in some regiment I don't remember now. I told him he could consider himself a prisoner and he handed me his sword and he had a bottle of liquor and I confiscated that as I needed it in my business. About that time we looked down the road, and saw a squad of Yankee cavalry ride out and we went back from the road about seventy-five yards and made a bee line back the way we had come, with our Yankee in front on a trot. We ran about three quarters of a mile and halted and I went to the edge of railroad to see how things looked. I saw a lot of Yankees at the place we had just left and we started again at a faster gait than ever. I stopped and looked again after going about the same distance but saw no more of them so I took my man to headquarters and handed him over to the proper authorities and never saw him again. He ???? as he had taken on too much liquor which was the cause of his being lost.
Once more we are back to the Chattahoochie. After our young Yankee got across the river all right we staid there doing picket duty for several days, talking and having a good time generally. I remember on one occasion I had a newspaper and was sitting in a square place that had been cut down to get to our pontoons when I looked across and saw a Yankee. We had orders to fire at everything in sight that day. I would wave the paper and he would run a little ways and stop, then I would wave the paper and he would run again, then some of our soldiers up the river opened fire on him and if ever a Yankee run, he did, and got back all right. I never thought I treated him wrong. Our officers inquired about it and knew that somebody had done something to cause him to run down toward where I was, but they never found out what it was.
The relief would come on of evenings and each side would tell the other side to hunt their holes until they found out what the orders were. If everything was O.K. we would come out from our holes and be as friendly as ever. If not we whacked away at each other the best we knew how.
We remained here several days and fell back in front of Atlanta where we threw up breastworks. We had quite a lot of Georgia militia and would put them in the front breastworks to relieve the old soldiers. It seemed that each mess of them had a negro servant to cook. I remember seeing the negroes go to the front with cooked rations and some of them would hold a frying pan in front of their heads to keep the minie balls from puncturing their heads.
I was acting Sergeant Major and had to get up the picket force for each evening. One evening while the pickets were coming in to be sent out a Yankee battery sent a shell right over among us. It exploded not over twenty-five feet in front of us and broke the thigh of one man and tore the flesh from the calf of the leg of another. I tore the suspenders off each one and put around their legs, put a stick in it and twisted it to stop the flow of blood. A piece of the shell struck a stake that was stuck up in breastworks and a splinter struck me on the arm. I was afraid to look at it for fear my arm was gone. One of the men died that night and the other some time afterward at the hospital.
We got short of lead here and the officers employed the soldiers to pick up balls that were scattered in the rear where the Yankees had fired at our pickets.
I was on picket here one night and just before daylight we believed the Yankees had left our front. Another soldier and myself started out to see if it was so. We would walk a little distance and listen, then go on a little further and listen again. We kept on this way until we got to their breastworks and they were sure enough gone. We got to their works about the break of day and looked around a while to see if any stragglers were left, but everybody was gone.
On going back to our picket post I saw more signs of shooting than I ever saw before. Between the picket posts the bullets had cut down saplings as large as a man's leg, it would lodge and then be cut in two again and if the limbs and brush had been thrown out of the way a team and wagon could have been driven through the woods anywhere. After I returned to my regiment that morning I reported what I had seen and we commenced to get out of there and change our position. I believe we went out on the east side of town. We had a large cannon on a handcar and one day our regiment was in front of it about a hundred yards, when it was fired and the shell went right over us, it made a noise like a turkey flying, landed over in Yankeedom and exploded. It shook things up in great shape. It was reported that one shell killed nearly a whole company. There was only one discharge of the gun while we were in front of it. A piece of the band around the bomb broke off and killed a lieutenant in our regiment. We were moved somewhere else after that.
I well remember the night Sherman threw shells into the city. I was lying down and could see the fuses burning and hear the shells burst in town and we could hear the fire department out putting out fires. Most every family in town lived underground and one could see the stovepipes protruding from the ground. The shells from Sherman's batteries had been falling in the city for some time and "bomb proofs" were all over the city.
BOONE, IOWA. FRIDAY MORNING,
MAY 31, 1912
General Hood was in command of the Army of the Tennessee at this time and if anything was ever out of all sorts it was the Army of the Tennessee. Old Joseph E. Johnston looked after his men and did not run them into any unnecessary engagements. Hood would fight at the drop of the hat and drop it himself, so he thought he would show Sherman a few things out of the ordinary.
We slipped out of Atlanta of the 21st of July and we thought we were doing the same old thing of falling back. He fooled Sherman too, as Sherman stated in his narrative of the Atlanta campaign. We marched the balance of the night and until the next afternoon when we struck Sherman's extreme left wing and took the Yankees by surprise, I think, as we run right over them and took their works and a number of batteries. We run them out their works and we had possession of them. I saw in passing through where they had fallen back that the Yankees had their dinner on cooking and they did not stay there long enough to set the tables for their company who arrived so unexpectedly, and I have always felt kind of thankful to the Yankee boys for having our dinner ready for us when we arrived for we were tired and hungry.
I felt very sorry for a Yankee officer who had been wounded and was lying in an exposed position, and could not get to a place of safety. He was lying about ten steps inside of the works and just behind us, and the shells and minie balls were making it hot for us. He called to us and asked us to please come and get him down in the ditch where we were, so I started out to bring him in but one of our officers told me to come back and I had to let him lie in his dangerous position. I never knew how he came out.
I ran up on a wounded Dutchman and he was doing a whole lot of Dutch talk. I offered him a drink of water from my canteen and he would shake his head. He might have been cussing me for all I knew.
We held the works that we captured until after night but just across a draw further up their line they held part of the works. I ventured out in front of our line to see what I could find and run up on a dead Rebel and got me a good hat and a few shirts out of the Yankee knapsacks and then went back into our lines.
I do not remember now when we did leave there, but suppose we left that night but we were over toward Atlanta after that as I was on the battle ground several days after that and could see parts of soldiers sticking out of the ditches where they were buried. I don't know who buried them. I saw the worst shot man there that I ever saw. A cannon ball cut him entirely in two except a little strip of skin on each side.
Gen. McPherson, a union general, was killed here.
After the battle of the 22nd we dropped down to Jonesboro and Lovejoy station and had a little fighting there but not to amount to much.
Gen. Hood concluded that he would let Sherman go on south and he would go back in Tennessee and see about Sherman's trains that furnished his army their supplies and we started on the march back on the west side of the railroad. I do not remember that we struck the railroad until we got to Dalton. I remember that we marched up close to the town and found in line of battle. The soldiers were lying around on the ground when we saw a Yankee cavalryman who would ride out to within a hundred yards or so of us, fire his carbine and then gallop back toward town. We noticed that he would stop at a house just at the edge of town, then he would repeat the performance, so a soldier of my company and myself went down in a cotton patch and got behind a pile of logs and waited for him to come again. About the time we started down to the cotton patch we saw the Yankee commander and some of our head officers ride along in front of our lines. Our general had demanded the unconditional surrender of the Yankee garrison and I heard that he supposed that we were a Rebel cavalry force and that he was not going to surrender to them, but when he rode around and saw that it was Hood's army he surrendered the place.
His force consisted of a negro regiment or two with white officers. Myself and the fellow that was with me down in the cotton patch saw our forces start up in town and we hurried on ahead to see if we could capture the Yankee cavalryman but he saw us in time and made his escape, but we went on into town and to the fort. Everybody was hurrying around and the negroes were about half drunk. I saw a negro with a bottle of whisky and told him to hand it over, which he did. I felt so elated over my capture that I showed it to one of our officers and he took it away from me and I did not get even a taste of it.
The fort was built around a big house, a hotel, I think, and I went in and up to the second story and saw a lot of Yankee officers. They were talking about having to go to prison. I ran across one of our generals and he ordered me out of there but I just kept out of his sight and stayed as long as I wanted to.
We did about as we pleased and when night came I saw that a detail was ordered to go into the fort and bring out the sutler's stores that were there. I went up to the officer in charge and told him to roll me out something. He eyed me closely and said, "Of course, or I wouldn't be there," and he hand me a box of raisins and a box of ground pepper, and by the time I had hurried to my company and gave the boxes to the boys of my mess and got back the detail had moved the balance. I run up against a fellow who had got about half a sack of coffee and he asked me and another fellow to help him take it out the back way. We helped him in a neighborly way but by the time we were out we had filled our haversacks with his coffee.
There was nothing more to do in the fort so we were marched down to the railroad and went to fixing it. We would rip up the iron and make pens out of the ties, then lay the irons across the pens and set the pile on fire, and when the irons got hot each end would bend to the ground. We had the negroes helping us and one smart negro refused to help burn the ties and he got a minie ball through him. The rest of them were all right after that.
-We then started on a march and I saw next day a lot of negro stragglers I never knew what became of them but suppose they and the Yankee officers were paroled.
I remember on the march one day hearing a soldier say that Sherman had wound up the ball but Hood was unwinding it.
There was nothing out of the ordinary during that march. I don't remember the number of days it took to reach the neighborhood of Decatur but we did not go into the town at all as there were a lot of Yankees there and from the looks of the forts at a distance we had no time to waste with them, so we dropped down the river to the little town of Florence and put our pontoons across the river and lit out for middle Tennessee. We just cleaned everything up or everybody got out of our way until we landed about Franklin, I suppose and believe that Franklin was one of the hottest battles of the war. I was not in the battle myself but had arrived on the hill south of Franklin when I saw the battle begin. It was fought about two miles from where we were and we never got into the engagement.
I went up to where our lines had fallen back to and formed near the Carter house the next morning and saw what had been done the evening before. The Yankees had retreated toward Nashville during the night and left their dead and wounded on the field. I never saw as many dead as were on the ground in front of the Yankee breastworks. There was a locust thicket in front of their works and I counted 19 balls that had hit one sapling from the ground to the height of a man's head. These were shots from the Yankee side, but at the Carter house there was a small brick building, I don't know what it was used for, which was struck by over 100 balls. I saw it again in 1911. It has never been molested or changed in any way since the war. This house was inside the Yankee lines and these shots were fired by the Rebels.
Just inside the works in the Carter house, I think it was the next morning after the battle I saw a Yankee officer who had been wounded, I don't know how badly but he looked kind of glum as he had not got in good humor since the battle. I asked him if I could do anything for him and he looked at me as though he would like to kill me. I told him it would be a pleasure to me to help him in any way I could and he said I could give him a drink of water which I did. I saw another poor fellow who was still out in the breastworks. I think from his uniform he was artilleryman. He was sitting with both hands up holding his face, his eyes were about closed and his face had a greenish color.
I went back to our lines and saw a lot of prisoners, all surrounded by a lot of Rebel guards. I was standing around looking at them when one stepped up to me and said he wanted to speak to me privately. We stepped to one side and he told me that he had a watch that he would have no need for in prison and that if he could get some Confederate money for it he would be very glad. He told me the reason he had picked on me was that he thought I would treat him right. Well, I could have taken it from him and kept it but I gave him twenty dollars in Confederate money for it, all the money I had, and he went on to prison.
I suppose from the appearance of everything that this was one of the hardest battles of the war. We lost many killed among them several Generals and officers of less prominence. We left here in a day or two for Nashville, but we never got there, although we arrived in sight of the city.
I remember the first afternoon several of us went up on a hill in a clearing where we could see Fort Negley. We were about two and a half miles from the fort and were standing around looking at it when we saw a puff of smoke shoot up from the fort, and someone remarked that they were shooting at us. We finally concluded that we were mistaken about it, but soon after that here it came and about that time its mate barked and we left there before it landed. It surprised us that it took the shell so long to come two and a half miles.
I remember that one day while we were around here waiting for the Yankees to come out so we could whip them that I ventured out in front of our lines to see what was what I came to a fine big brick residence belonging to a Widow Brown, the wife of one of our ex-Governors. There was only Mrs. Brown and a grown daughter living there at the time but there was a big Missouri Yankee there who had been left for protection. I had my gun with me and his gun was standing against the stairs. He never tried to get it but said that it was one of the rules of war not to molest a guard under such circumstances. I told him I understood the rule and I staid there quite a while talking to the ladies and the soldier too. The ladies told me they were southern sympathizers, and after a while I thought I would venture a little further on. I went out and crossed the pike that run along the yard fence and had not gone twenty steps when I saw a lot of Yankees around a fire, presumably cooking. It was down a slant in the ground and if they had seen me at all they could only have seen my head, but none of them saw me. I stooped and turned around and if ever a Johnnie Reb moved, I did. I never even stopped to tell Mrs. Brown and the rest good by. I have always thought they did not treat me right. That Missouri Yankee might have told me it was not safe to go very far out that way. Mrs. Brown being a good southern woman might have given me the wink and nodded her head back south and I think I would have taken the hint, but she did not. I understand her daughter still lives in Nashville. I would like very much to meet her.
The Tale Continues:
Go to chapters 11-19
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