April 18, 1862
Letter from a McDonough Volunteer.
Camp on the Field near
New Madrid, Mo., March 29.
Messrs Editors: Last night about 12 o’clock, while we were crouched down in our tents reposing sweetly upon a soldiers downy bed of ease, some of as perhaps dreaming of loved ones at home, we were startled by the force of a terrific wind, coming directly from the west, and one which threatened almost instant annihilation to all the tents and wigwams in camp. Instantly the whole camp was astir, each person exerting himself to the utmost capacity to prevent the sad calamity of being deprived of a proper shelter for the night. Tents and wigwams were tossed to and fro in the air like so many “reeds shaken by the wind.” The death like silence which had brooded over us all day and night, was now broken, and the guardian Angel who had watched over and protected us while sojourning in the land of “nod” seemed to have taken flight to the realms above, leaving us unprotected to the pestilence of proud Boreas of old. The wind soon lulled, however, and the camp assumed its former stillness and monotony, while the would be sleepers and dreamers again took up their line of march for the land of “nod.”
There has been nothing of unusual interest transpired in camp during the week. The fight is still progressing at Island No. 10, as we can distinctly hear the rumbling of the discharged guns from that place. Each discharge from the mortars resembles the sound of heavy thunder rattling through the distant woods. At times there are painful rumors in circulation as to the exact state of affairs at that place. Some three or four days ago it was reported in camp that four of our gunboats had been sunk by the enemy, and that the whole crew had been lost by the catastrophe. To persons unacquainted with camp rumors this would be painful news indeed, but as we have so often been gulled in this way, we have learned to pay no attention to them, and to pass them by as mere “canards.”
At 11 o’clock a.m. on Thursday of this week, there was a general review of all the infantry, cavalry and artillery under Gen. Pope’s command, now stationed at this place. Gen. Pope reviewed in person. It was truly a grand affair. Each regiment paraded in front of its own quarters, constituting a solid string of infantry for at least two miles in length. As they stood up in martial array, the bright sun reflecting meteors of light from the polished steel, they presented a formidable and invulnerable appearance indeed.
An effort is now being made by Col. Bissell’s engineer regiment to force a passage through a small stream or byou starting in above Island No. 10, on the Missouri side, and emptying into the Mississippi below. It is the intention to make it passable for the gunboats so that one or more of them can get in the rear of the enemy and thus facilitate the reduction of that place. This evening I noticed a number of “Sappers and Miners,” as they are called, with shovel and pick in hand on their way for the field of labor. This indicates that the work will be completed with dispatch, and a passage forced through immediately. Should it be successful the tide of affairs at the Island will change materially.
Our election for captain as I informed you in my last, came off on Monday last, V. Y. Ralston, Esq., was again chosen captain with only two dissenting voices. It is not known whether he will accept or not, but certain it is, that he is well liked in that capacity, and it is the earnest desire of the men comprising the company that he should be commissioned as such. In the event of his not accepting the contest will then lay between 1st Lieut. B. F. Pinckley, of our company, and 2d Lieut. F. B. Woodall, of Company K, for captain, and Eben White and Orderly Sergeant H. W. Gash for 2d Lieutenant. H. M. Bartholemew will then become 1st Lieutenant of the company. Captain Ralston still remains with us, but exercises no command of the company. – Mr. White, I understand has a probable show for the position of regimental quartermaster.
We now have a daily mail line from this place to Sikeston, and I understand a telegraphic wire is also in course of construction, from camp to that place, and there on to Bird’s Point. Chicago, Cincinnati, and St. Louis daily papers are received here the next day after publication. This, to us, is a great treat indeed.
Nothing has been doing in camp during the past week, except cleaning our quarters, grubbing up stumps, &c., which is going on with great taste and celerity. The improvements thus made would reflect credit upon the most experienced soldiers. What was but a week ago a rude cornfield, covered with a thick coating of stalks, and ridged up with the plough of the husbandman, is now converted into a beautiful camping ground for the soldier; the stalks gathered up in piles and burned, the stumps grubbed up and put out of the way, the ridges leveled, and wells dug, and in fact everything done for the comfort and health of the soldiers.
Gen. Pope is rigidly enforcing all military law and discipline, or having it done by his subordinates, and the officers are no more allowed to transgress them than the lowest private in the division. Frequent exposure of officers transgressing the laws have been read to us on dress parade. Officers must come to “limerick,” as well as the poor privates. The “boys” say “bully for Gen. Pope.”
I must now make favorable mention of a movement now on foot to organize in this regiment, a Lodge of the independent Order of Good Templars. A charter for that purpose has already been granted by the Grand Lodge of Illinois, and had it not been for unfrequent removals from place to place, it would have been in working order long ago. The charter was granted us free of charge, together with all the appurtenances belonging thereto. E. L. Cumer, formerly of Prairie City, Ill., has been commissioned Lodge Deputy, with authority to institute as soon as possible. In this praiseworthy movement we have the support and co-operation of several prominent officers of the Regiment. – Among those who have already pledged themselves to its support and maintenance I mention Lieut. Col. Samuel Wilson, of Middletown; 1st Lieut. W. L. Broaddus, of Company D, and 2d Lieut. E. K. Westfall, of all the same company, and others were whose names I do not now remember. Besides the steps taken towards the organization of the Lodge, a number of copies of the Good Templar, published at Upper Alton, Ill., has been circulated and subscribed for by different individuals of the Regiment. Let the people of McDonough be assured that we are emulating the example of friends of the order in that county, and that we will soon have in our midst a living, working Lodge of Good Templars. But as I will have occasion to refer to this subject again, I leave it for the present.
Our supply of provisions are now growing quite short, and it is said the rise of the river has completely submerged the railroad track between Sikeston and Bird’s Point, and that the cars have been compelled to stop running on account of it. If this be the case our supplies will have to be waggoned all the way from Commerce, 40 miles distant, up the river. But enough for the present. More anon.
Very truly, &c.,
Messrs. Editors: I wrote you last evening to the effect that we were again under marching orders, with two days rations in haversacks and 40 rounds of cartridges in our boxes. We did not get off however, and this morning we have the orders, but no prospect of leaving until this evening, if then. We leave all behind us except gun equipage, blankets, &c. From indications we will cross the river to aid in the reduction of Island No. 10. Transports are now reported below the Island, having made their way through the bayou, and a gunboat is said to have run the blockade during the heavy gale of night before last, and is now laying at or near New Madrid. This I presume is reliable, from the fact that large sheets of smoke have been seen to emanate from that place, resembling that which comes from the smokestacks of a steamboat. While I write heavy firing is heard in the direction of New Madrid, and the most general and rational conclusion arrived at respecting it, is that our gunboat is throwing shell into them from below the Island.
Our whole division appears to have the same orders, and indications are that a general move will be made this evening or to-morrow, to the opposite side of the river, and now that we have a gunboat below the Island to assist us, its reduction and capture is a certainty, beyond all peradventure or dispute. Undoubtedly Island No. 10 will be in Federal possession before your next issue.
The weather at present is delightful and the roads are in fine condition for marching. The peach trees are all in full bloom and the wild ones of the forest are following in close pursuit with great rapidity.
At roll call last evening our company was thrown into ecstacies by the announcement that Orderly Sergeant Henry W. Gash, had been commissioned by Gov. Yates, 2d Lieutenant of our company. His appointment gives general satisfaction, and on it being announced to us, three hearty cheers were given in honor of it. The officers of the company are now as follows: B. F. Pinckley, captain; H. M. Bartholomew, 1st lieutenant; Henry W. Gash, 2d lieutenant. An orderly Sergeant is yet to be elected, for which office there will be several candidates.
I shall not close this letter until mail time this evening, and if I can learn anything between this and that, respecting the situation of affairs below, I will make mention of it to you. For the present I close.
Very truly, &c.,
P. S. – Additional information respecting the firing of this forenoon proves it to have been in the vicinity of Point Pleasant, and from one of our gunboats. From the tops of the trees and with the aid of a glass the boat could be distinctly, as also the discharges from the guns. It commenced about 11 o’clock p.m., without intermission. It was heavy and in quick succession. We can learn nothing as to its purpose or effect, but suppose it was the shelling of the rebel batteries at that place. We have no orders as yet to move but hold ourselves in readiness to go at a moment’s warning. –H.
Terrible Whirlwind – Loss of Life.
On Saturday afternoon last, about 4 o’clock, a tremendous whirlwind passed over the western part of the town of Tennessee, in this county, in a northeasterly direction, destroying two or three dwellings, unroofing and otherwise injuring a number of buildings, and resulting in the death of a man named Wm. A. Abbott, a citizen of that place. At the time of the storm Mr. Abbott was riding in a wagon with Mr. John Jarvis, also a citizen of that place, when the wind struck a wagon bed which was lying upon an old sled by the side of the road, and carried it furiously upon the horses and also upon both Abbott and Jarvis in the wagon. Abbott was struck in the back part of the head, and was supposed to have been instantly killed. Jarvis was considerably bruised, but not seriously injured. One of the horses was so much injured that it has since died.
The dwelling house of Mr. John Duncan, in the north-west part of the town was partly demolished. Damage about $250.
A stable, belonging to M. C. Johnson, was blown down and his horse killed.
The blacksmith shop of Wm. McKinsey was damaged to the extent of about $50. A stable belonging to Samuel Gibson was destroyed. The residence of Mrs. Patterson was very badly injured, as was also the residence of Patrick McCune. Several other dwellings were more or less injured and moved from their foundation.
Mr. Abbott was a wagon maker by trade and a very worthy and estimable man. He leaves a wife and five children, poorly provided for and who now need the aid and assistance of their charitable neighbors.
April 19, 1862
Glorious Victory – Chicago Redeemed!
The Democrats carried the city of Chicago on Tuesday by a majority of about twelve hundred votes, electing the whole ticket and eight of ten aldermen. This defeat of the republicans in the metropolis of the Northwest is significant of the fate that awaits them throughout the State. The people are tired of the rule and ruin of the republicans, and this may be regarded as the ground swell of the great up rising of the country to vote down the treacherous demagogues who only prosper as the people become impoverished. Let the friends of the Constitution take courage anew. The sober second thought of the people will in the future, as in the past, be the strength of the Democracy and the salvation of the country.
The republicans are inventing excuses for their Waterloo defeat in Chicago. They say it was a rainy day, and rainy days are always unfavorable to them; that so many of their men have gone to war; that J. Wentworth, Esq., got “huffy,” and wouldn’t shell out his money, etc. Why don’t they tell something plausible? – say, for instance, that Col. Mulligan marched the “secesh” prisoners down to the polls and made them vote the Democratic ticket!
We notice that Lieut. W. S. Hendricks, late of the 16th, but now of the 57th regiment, was taken prisoner at the Pittsburg battle. Rowan Simmons of this county was wounded. There were probably other casualties among the volunteers from this county, but their names have not yet been reported.
Mr. S. C. Gustine has taken charge of Brown’s Hotel, in this city. Mr. G. has been in this business for several years, and has the reputation of being an excellent landlord. – Brown’s Hotel, under his management, will continue to be the house of the city.