Macomb Weekly Journal
February 20, 1863
Hon. G. C. Bates, of Chicago, will be present and address the Union Meeting, to be held on the 21st inst.
Mr. Bates is a first class Speaker and we trust our people will come out in force to hear him. Other speeches will also be made and we anticipate a rousing good time.
The Legislature Adjourned.
That nest of political guerillas, thank providence, has adjourned, and for a few months at least, their powers of mischief are suspended. Devoid of statesmanship, but full of malevolence and thirsting for office, this dirty nest of Goody, O’Melveny & Co., and their satellites over the State, have plotted in this time of our country’s peril to paralize the arm of the National Government by taking possession of the authority of the State Government, making a fatal armistice with the rebels and appointing a time and place to hold friendly converse with them whilst in arms, and that without the consent and against the wishes of the National Government. The Legislature of our State was the chosen agent of this dirty job. Just how far their treasonable plans are designed to reach, no one out of the clique fully understands. But judging from the meetings organized through the country, of which we had a sample here on the 7th inst., we would suppose the contemplated revolution was designed to be radical. This infernal clique, moreover, were willing to abuse the Governor of the State in this momentous issue, after all his patriotic endeavors to maintain the honor and dignity of our people, and the welfare and prowess of our arms, by any mortification however gross they could impose upon him. They seem to know or care nothing for our future history or State consistency. Loyalty and patriotism were ideas that seemed to be ignored in a consuming thirst for office. Of course in a body the majority of which was composed of such material as our last legislature a man’s standing was in the direct ratio of his recklessness and villanous subserviency to rebeldom.
From so corrupt a crowd of Legislative tinkers, no devout man could help the prazer of the litany, “Good Lord deliver us.” It surely is, therefore, a matter for devout thanksgiving that through the active opposition of a noble and patriotic minority, under Divine Providence, these affairs were defeated. The convention at Louisville, or Nashville, or still further in Dixie, thank God, is not likely soon to meet. – The Governor of our noble State is not to be shamefully disgraced in the presence of the enemy; and our State is not to be placed in direct antagonism with the glorious Government of the United States made by our Fathers. – We are not for the present, at least, to bend our backs to receive whatever ignominious load those sorry Legislators may contract to impose upon us. And yet we must say what a judgment to be thus cursed with lawmakers so utterly devoid of statesmanship! Full three-fourths of their time was devoted to national and political plotting, and the success of their Copperhead party, and in the remaining one-fourth all the business of a biennial Legislature to a great State, was attempted to be hurried through. Ten day were full as much as this corrupt set of men could devote to the local Legislation of the State which in right, ought to have been their exclusive business.
To make amends for this shameless neglect, they adjourned to meet in June, when we trust a good Providence may again deliver us from such political cobblers. We are fast trying the experiment to see how little brains and principle will run a Republic. They had better consider in the interval of their adjournment the propriety also of sending a Minister plenipotentiary to Louis Napoleon, that the scheme may secure the approbation of all their friends. – The people pay the fiddler, of course, in their adjournment.
Steamer J. H. Groesbeck,
February 7, 1863.
The 78th Illinois regiment embarked on board the J. H. Groesbeck, at Portland, four miles west of Louisville, on Thursday, the 29th ult., and early on Sunday morning the ropes were unfasted, and, she started out, in company with several other transports, also heavily loaded with troops and army equipments, bound for a voyage up the Cumberland river. Our fleet consists of 63 vessels, including some 6 or 8 gunboats, carrying about 30,000 troops. The Ohio river was booming high, and the current swift; hence we made a rapid trip to Smithland, situated at the mouth of the Cumberland river. We reached Smithland about one o’clock on Monday afternoon, and remained there for the purpose of taking on coal, &c., until 9 o’clock the next morning. The Cumberland was in good navigable condition, but the current being against us, our progress was of course much slower than our trip down the Ohio. Our boat was new and elegantly finished, this being her first trip, but the crowded state of the men on board prevented their finding much comfort or convenience. They have been compelled to make their lodging place out upon the hurricane deck, or if, in the cabin, in such a crowded state as to render the atmosphere of the room stifling and suffocating. The consequence has been that now, we have over one hundred men upon the sick list. Henry Parker and George Pittman, of Co. I, are both ill and confined to their beds. Those who are very sick have comfortable accommodations in the berths connected with the state rooms. W. J. Ward, John W. Pate and David R. Reiman, of Capt. Allen’s company, have been very sick for two or three days, and their recovery considered doubtful, but at the present writing they are somewhat better. Pate, however, is in a critical condition, but may recover.
We passed Fort Donaldson, the spot made famous by a desperate battle, and a glorious Union victory, about a year since, some time on Tuesday night. The next morning found our boat tied up to shore opposite the little town of Dover, which is only a mile and a half from Fort Donaldson. The fort has been abandoned, and fortifications built in the town of Dover, which place has been held and occupied by the 83d Illinois for the past six months. Soon after daylight a contraband on shore informed one of our men that a battle had been fought in Dover the day before, and the rebels completely whipped out. We looked over the river, and everything looked so quiet there, that we could scarcely give credit to the negro’s story. A large portion of our fleet, with an occasional gunboat, were lying in close proximity, securely fastened to the shore, and the cool and frosty air of the morning seemed to admonish us all to seek the comforts of the cabin fire. At length came rumors thicker and faster that the 83d Illinois, with only about 700 men, had actually whipped over 4,000 rebels under Generals Wheeler and Forrest, and killed nearly 1000 of their men. It was not until afternoon that we became convinced of the real magnitude of the affair. I then provided myself with a pass, and watching an opportunity, was fortunate enough to secure a passage across the river in a little leaky, mud-bespattered skiff, by first depositing twenty-five cents, United States currency, in the fist of the ferryman. I had no sooner landed than the evidences of a desperate and bloody battle became visible to me. Dead horses lay in every direction, and the ground in numberless places was marked with human gore. There was not a house, a tree or a fence about the place that did not bear evidence of the deadly strife. I walked to the village burying ground, and there, in huge piles, lay the unburied bodies of some twenty or thirty dead rebels. Men were engaged digging trenches, in which the bodies were thrown and then covered with dirt. A large government wagon, drawn by four mules, had just arrived, loaded down with more dead bodies. They had been tumbled into the wagon as you would throw in a load of wood. The bodies were cold and stiff, and in one part of the load might be seen an arm poking up, and in another place a leg, rendering the whole a most horrible and sickening sight. The most of the bodies were much mangled, giving evidence of the terrible execution of our guns.
The 83d was raised in Warren and Knox counties, under Col. A. C. Harding, of Monmouth. Of course, I found many acquaintances in the regiment, and was able to gather many particulars respecting the battle. Col. Harding had been anticipating an attack for a day or two. It was the design of the rebels to get possession of Dover and thus intercept our fleet. Soon after noon on Tuesday, some scouts, who had been sent out, came in with the intelligence that a large force of rebels was marching upon them, not a mile distant. The long roll was immediately sounded, and the regiment formed in line of battle. The rebels soon appeared, and according to custom, sent in their flag of truce, demanding an unconditional surrender, as they had orders to take the place at all hazards. Col. Harding replied that they might come and take it, if they could. The rebels proceeded, even while the flag of truce was within our lines, to completely surround the town, and to plant their cannon in favorable positions. About 2 o’clock the battle commenced, and continued without cessation until 8 o’clock in the evening. The rebels, a number of times, charged furiously and madly upon the works and the guns of the 83d, but were as often repulsed. The slaughter of the rebels was awful. The 83d had five cannon, besides one large siege gun, manned by only 18 men; but they did terrible execution. At one time the siege gun had misfired twice, when a few rebels charged upon it, the leading one exclaiming; “Why the h – l don’t you surrender? you are completely surrounded by ten times your number!” Just then the gun was fired, and the rebel was blown into a hundred pieces. The 83d maintained their position from the first to the last. On Thursday morning, (the time we left Dover,) the bodies of 240 dead rebels had been discovered and buried. The wounded that remained upon the ground and fell into our hands numbered about 60. There were also some 40 or 50 prisoners taken. Upon our side the loss was only 13 killed and 35 wounded. Among the killed upon our side was Capt. Philo Reed, of Monmouth, a young and promising lawyer of that place. The news of his death will send a thrill of sorrow to many hearts in Warren county. I knew him well. His body was placed in a metallic coffin and sent home to his sorrowing friends and afflicted family.
Among the rebel killed was Col. McNary, of an Alabama regiment, and Col. Coffee. Gen. Forrest was known to have a leg broken, but otherwise it was not known how severe his injury was.
The history of this war does not furnish a parallel to the gallant conduct of the gallant 83d Illinois regiment. Every man in that regiment won for himself enduring fame. The bravery, coolness, and skill of Col. Harding will be undoubtedly recognized and acknowledged by the higher authorities, and he be remembered accordingly.
I finish this letter just as we are approaching Nashville. The sight of our fleet, as it is steaming up the river, is a scene worthy the attention of Harper’s everywhere-present special artist. The fleet extended three miles, and still it appears as though we crowd the river. The Cumberland is a beautiful stream, scarcely varying in its width, which is only about 30 rods. We pass, occasionally, a small, dilapidated town, receiving the echoes and welcomes of the contrabands on shore, but the white folks appear shy and backward.
There is undoubtedly some important movement on foot in which our regiment is destined to play a part. I shall endeavor to write to you again in next week’s paper.
J. M. K.
P. S. – 3 o’clock P. M. – We have arrived safely at Nashville. I have recognized a number on shore that belonged to the 16th Illinois: Martin Ellis, of Co. H., died to-day of lung-fever. Pate, of the same company, it is thought, cannot live through the night.
J. K. M.
A Voice from the Army.
Ed. Journal: At this time, when a party name and organization, though all sham, is moving Heaven and earth, to excite popular prejudice and indignation against our rulers, and with feigned love and honeyed speech to steal away the hearts of our noble volunteers, it is refreshing to the true patriot and loyal citizen to see and hear the response of our citizen soldiers. Believing that it will touch a chord in other hearts as it has in my own, I send you for publication, if you think it is worthy, an extract of a letter from a brother who has long been in the extreme advance of Gen. Grant’s army, and from whom I had had no communication since the battles of Corinth and Hatchie:
My Dear Brother: I believe I might well scold at getting no letters from you, but you know I never do such things. Here I’ve been scratching away with pen or pencil, on a box, a keg, on the top of my hat, or, as now, on the corner of an old secesh ledger held on my lap, and from blank leaves of which I have written you letters, yet unanswered.
We have the news to-day that glorious old Rose has licked Bragg again, and drive him from his fortified encampment, and we are ready to believe it, for the old hoss has never yet had to give back, and that reputation alone is worth one-third of a whole force. I would rather march on to an enemy with 60,000 under such a General, than with 100,000 under one without that reputation.
I see the deaths of Col.’s Reid and Alexander, of Paris, announced in the dispatches, and while I heartily sympathize with their friends and the country, in their great loss, I know every soldier gets to feel that it is a privilege to die for his country; and would welcome death on such a field in such a cause, rather than the ignominy and lasting disgrace to be heaped on the grave of the coward or foul traitor, who claims the friendship of those he disgraces by such claim.
It is hard to follow a treacherous foe for thirty days without rest or shelter; hard to make ten days scouts on two day’s rations; hard to stand picket – a target for bushwhackers and guerillas; but all this, and ten fold more, is nothing to having the back turned on you by professed friends at home – who at the behest of party (how I hate the name,) would crawl, knife in hand, to the sick bed of a father to stick him to the heart, and do it with a sycophantic profession of devotion to the Constitution. Down upon all such hypocrisy! Is there not some chosen curses? some hidden thunders in store, reserved with unmingled wrath to damn the man who owes his distinction to his country’s ruin?
Should I live to reach home at the end of the war, (and I don’t intend to go before), I will freely give one more year’s service for the privilege of regulating our old county with my old company. Oh! wouldn’t we make them squirm then. I think I now hear them swearing they won’t, but I tell you they will. We have had some practice in that line and know the lick it’s done with.
There are some acts of the Administration that my judgment does not approve, and some at which my feelings revolt, but am I to set up my opinion as an iron bedstead and effect all others to be brought to my standard, or raise a fellow’s hand to strike at the very vitals of the best Government ever bestowed on man, insult the grey hairs of our revolutionary sires, and heap up for myself a monument of infamy compared with which the fame of Benedict Arnold or Judas Iscariot became a praise. No! Heaven forbid it – shame – honor – manhood forbid it.
I profess no extraordinary courage, but by the solemnities of the battle field whose sights have become familiar; by the spirits of my comrades who have fallen around me in battle, before I will strike hands with such traitors I will fight till my grey hairs and feeble limbs rule me out of the service, and then, like old Hamilton, dedicate my boy to the service of his country, swearing him to eternal enmity to all traitors.
The 84th Again.
We publish below an extract from a private letter to W. S. Hall, Esq., of this city, which will be read with interest by all. The brave 84th deserves to be remembered with gratitude, and we cannot resist the temptation to lay before our readers the following high tribute to its courage:
Murfreesboro, Jan. 11.
The bravery and daring of individuals and Regiments were numerous, but none excelled the 84th Illinois, commanded by your townsman, Col. L. H. Waters. They encountered the centre of the enemy and was under a most terrific fire for several hours, and not one inch did they give back, but stood firm to the last, fighting three times their number. I have twice passed over the ground they occupied, and to see the thousands of bullet holes in the timber, and the trees and limbs cut off by cannon balls, the wonder is, how a single man escaped. At one time the flag staff of the regiment was shot away. Col. Waters rushed forward, raised it from the ground, waived it, and shouted to his men to fight and never let the American flag lay on the ground or trail in the dust. He was always where duty called him, encouraging his men. Capt. Wm. Ervin, of your city, showed himself a cool and brave man, in fact, there was not a man in the Regiment that flinched, every one did his duty.
If Illinois has a Regiment she ought to be more proud of than any other, that Regiment is the 84th, and if there is a Colonel from the State entitled to favorable consideration, it is Col. Waters, for he has proved himself a brave and gallant officer. Your county has a right to be proud of him, not only so, but the State of Illinois is honored by his gallantry and bravery, and that of his Regiment. Not a man straggled from the Regiment during the five days fight, which was not the case with other Regiments, thousands fell back and could not be induced to go into the fight, it was not so with the 84th Illinois, every man could be and was accounted for every night after the battle.
The Benevolent Supper. – The Supper made by the Ladies of the Soldiers aid and Ladies Sociable Societies at the Randolph House on the 13th inst., was a decided success. Notwithstanding the extraordinary bad walking, the public rooms of the Hotel were crowded. The utmost good feeling prevailed. The Supper was abundant and well prepared, the zest which was every where apparent, evinced in the community the deep interest every where felt for the Soldier. The affair we are informed, netted about ninety dollars above all expenditures.
Where are the City Fathers?
Mr. Editor: Can you not advise the City Fathers and the city functionaries generally, who have the supervision of the streets and sidewalks, that some of the pavements and crossings the last week were almost impassable. The crossings are horribly filthy, and render it absolutely necessary for very lady passing, however modest, and whether willing or not to show her balmoral. Moreover the brick pavements are in some places badly torn up, and threaten the dislocation of joints to every unfortunate pedestrian who visits the post office after night fall. I should think the worthy fathers themselves would not trust their portly old frames on such loose cobble stones.
It may not have occurred to these worthy functionaries that the winter has been very muddy and that we want like Noah’s dove again to find a resting place for the sole of our feet. We understand that in quite a number of cases where justices have imposed fines, the parties chose to work out the amount, as the law allows them; can not they be set at the crossings. We fear strangers will not know that we have a city charter.
Whilst asking favors of the old and honorable, we would also raise the question how long the roving boys are to be allowed to take the town by nights. – The public halls, the post office, the side walks, are all infested with a swarm of these screaming, whistling, crowding tyroes, who seem to be turned loose at dusk to make night hideous. To judge from appearance, too, we would think that nearly every family have at least one representative. It is said that one of the J. P.’s fined one of these turbulent last week, and the police threatened others. But we want a persistent effort by all good men in and out of office to reduce these rovers to the legitimate behavior of boys.