Macomb Weekly Journal
From the 78th Regiment.
Camp near Rossville, Georgia.
March 20, 1864.
Mr. Editor: — Having had the assurance that a communication from my pen would receive publication in the columns of your paper, and being somewhat desirous of seeing myself in print, I have concluded to write you a letter. I have read several numbers of your paper and it never fails to interest me deeply. I like its tone and sentiment, as the boys all seem to like it and I presume it has quite an extensive circulation in our regiment. We have been lying quietly in camp at this place since our return from the late demonstration made upon Dalton, of which you have heard full particulars. How long we will remain here none of us can tell, but I do not think we will stay in camp any great length of time, for the slogan of the grand army of the Cumberland is “forward to victory,” and it will not long remain idle. It will strike a blow for freedom as soon as the spring campaign opens that will send a thrill of joy to the hearts of the friends of the Union everywhere. We like the situation of our camp very well, and would like it much better is wood and water were more convenient. The country in the vicinity of our camp is neither fertile or productive, but to the eye of the lover of nature it is a beautiful country. Its mountainous nature renders the surrounding scenery surpassingly beautiful. Here we breathe the pure mountain air, and hence it is not only a beautiful country but it must be a healthy one. Yet it lacks one thing to render it a desirable country for me to live in, and that is good society. In the respect, so far as I have observed, the State of Georgia is sadly deficient. – The society of the boasted aristocracy of the south is far inferior to that of the northern mudsills.
But for the sake of variety I will change the tone of my letter. I have before remarked that we were lying in camp, yet we are not idle for we have company and battalion drill every day except Saturday and Sunday. We also have target practice. One company is taken out every day, and each man is allowed to step out in front of the company and discharge his gun at the target. The best shots are reported by the company officers to brigade headquarters, and it is said the men who make the best shots will be transferred to the sharpshooters. We are very much afraid of losing our friend J. K. Magie, as he has proven to be a remarkably good shot. We pass the time very pleasantly. We have some very interesting discussions on various literary topics. We are favored occasionally with an eloquent speech from Mr. Magie. So you see Mr. Editor that although we are far from home we are not without our amusements and literary treats.
Fearing that I shall consume too much space in your paper and weary the patience of your readers I will refrain from writing any more at present.
W. C. F.
Head Q’s Co E, 78 Reg’t Ill.
Vol Inf. camp near Rossville Ga
March 24, 1864.
Friend Journal: — As I have a few leisure moments I will endeavor to write a few lines stating how the 78th Ill. is getting along, as I think it will be a little interesting to the readers of the Journal. I am not going to write such a flourishing letter, and as this is the first one I ever undertook to write, the readers must excuse all mistakes. – Well we are in our old camp, where we was camped before we went to Tyner Station. We came back here on the last of February; and on the night of the 21st of this month it commenced to snow and it snowed all the next day. The depth of the snow was eleven inches. And on the 22d Co. K, Co. E, Co. B, and Co. C, got in the snow and had large times snow balling each other, [obscured] seriously wounded. And on the 23d, the 78th Ill. throwed out skirmishers and brought on another snowball engagement with the 98th Ohio, and they had it pretty hard for about half an hour and the 98th gave up, and then they went in on the 113th Ohio, but they soon gave up and went to their dog huts, and then the 78th went in on the 121st Ohio, and they held then a pretty tight fight, and while they was fighting them the 78th got on the 108th Ohio camp ground, and the 108th went in on us, and then we went at the 108th, and at the first charge they gave up, and then part of the 108th helped us and then they went in again on the 121st O. V. I., and after fighting about two hours they drove the 121st twice to their houses with the 78th Ill. victorious. – There was several slightly wounded and some prisoners taken. The 121st had some niggers to help them and I took notice that some of them got knocked down and I wouldn’t have cared if they had never got up again. – The boys that was in the fight are complaining with sore arms. Well I will have to close and I will say in conclusion, that the 78th is lively and in good spirits.
From a high private in the rear rank of Company E, 78th Reg’t Ill. Vol. Infantry.
C. F. A.
The Township Elections.
The returns come in slowly from the county. Enough is known, however, to give the complexion of the new board of Supervisors. The board will be composed of eleven Democrats and five Union men – a gain of one in our favor.
New Salem was carried by the Union men by 29 majority. A large gain. We understand that the Union men attribute their success to the missionary labors of Messrs. James M. Campbell and Nelson Abbott. It appears that these two “missionaries” went out to that township to preach up their doctrine of miscegenation, and they admirably succeeded – in defeating their candidates. We are requested to invite them to go there again next fall or some time during the coming campaign.
We hope to give the vote by townships next week.
We are defeated, it is true, but we should not despair. We will pick our time and try again. We will succeed some time, and we hope that it will be next fall.
The speck of war that arose so suddenly in Coles county this State has as suddenly subsided. The riot did not last ten minutes, but the excitement was continued for several days. It turns out that it was a premeditated affair on the part of the copperheads, to massacre all the soldiers in Charleston, and that they came into town with revolvers in their belts and guns concealed in their wagons. The copperheads were banded together under the high-sounding name of the “Mighty Host,” and their object was, undoubtedly, after killing the soldiers there, to proceed to Mattoon and follow up on their work there. But, cowards as they were, they became panic stricken at their own folly and ingloriously fled from the village.
Some of the ringleaders have been taken and sent to Springfield, where we hope they may have justice meted out to them. The principal one, John O’ Hair, has not yet been captured. We trust that he will not escape.
Exchange of Prisoners.
The complete exchange of prisoners with the rebels appears to hang fire on the negro question yet. The rebel commissioner Ould agreed to an exchange, man for man, upon terms satisfactory to Butler, but insisted that that agreement should not include the officers and soldiers of the negro regiments, while Butler insisted that, serving under the same flag, they are entitled to the same treatment as other United States soldiers.
From the 78th Regiment.
Camp near Rossville, Ga.,
March 24, 1864.
Somebody, somewhere, about spring time last year, made a remark something like this – “Winter lingers in the lap of spring.” I am not able to say whether this was intended as a bit of poetry, or as a plain practical remark, but I am inclined to think if the author of that sentence were alive now, and a member of this regiment, and should have been detailed as a picket night before last, he would have give it up that there was more such than poetry in the remark. Day before yesterday we had a fall of snow some ten inches or twelve inches in depth, and that too in the State of Georgia. – “The sunny South,” as some poetically describe it, and peach trees at the same time in full bloom. – Toward night it ceased snowing, but became freezing cold. I was lucky enough to be off duty at the time. All drill was suspended, and so those in camp gathered around their comfortable firesides, told stories, discussed the prospects of the war, or got out their portfolios and jotted down their thoughts for the loved ones at home. But those on picket were not so comfortable. My friend W. T. Freeland, of Blandinville actually had his toes frost bitten while walking his beat at the dead hour of night, and has since suffered considerably in consequence. But yesterday the boys were compensated for all the gloominess and inconveniences of the day before. The sun sent his rays down from a cloudless sky, and the snow was in excellent condition for snowballing. A little skirmishing commenced immediately after dinner, between some companies of this regiment, when quite a large body snow-ballers were seen moving down from the direction of the 98th O. V. I. which is camped about twenty rods west of us. Hostilities immediately ceased between the companies, and they formed a junction and immediately commenced a vigorous attack on the 98th boys. The contest was quite spirited for a time, both parties contending manfully, when the right wing of the 98th was observed to give way slightly. Our boys saw their advantage and followed it up with much vigor. The 98th could not recover their ground, and the evidence began to gather that they would soon be driven from the field in a total rout. Just then [obscured] forward, which proved to be reinforcement for the 98th from the 113th O. V. I. The 78th not undaunted in the least, but with undomitable perserverance rallied their forces and advanced their lines some two or three rods. A courier was sent back after ammunition. The convalescents were called out and a large wash tub was filled with well-made snow balls and carried to the field. The contest now raged fiercely. The tub of ready-made snow balls came in the niche of time. The enemy began to fall back. Just at this time, Andy Wilson of Co. C, was brought to the rear severely wounded in the right eye with a snow ball. The 78th continued to press forward. The enemy was then reinforced by a detachment from the 121st O. V. I., but they could not recover their lost ground. At 5 o’clock P. M. the 78th was declared the victors, and they cheered and crowed lustily over their triumph. While the contest was raging, a few of our boys had the temerity to cast a few balls in the direction of the camp of the “Hundred-and-Ot,” which is the dutch for ‘108th O. V. I.” but they could not be drawn out from behind their breastworks. I have not received a list of the casualties on the part of the enemy, as they took their wounded from the field. The casualties on our side foot up two severely wounded, three slightly wounded.
I continue to hear of more promotions in the regiment. Orderly James, of Co. C, and Harmon Veatch, Seargeant-major, have both received commissions as 2d Lieutenants. Lieut. C. V. Chandler has received his commission as Adjutant of the regiment – Veatch takes the place evacuated by Chandler of Co. I. There is, however, a question raised as to the validity of the commissions of Veatch and James, as they are based on the requisition made to our regiment from the 34th Illinois, which I have mentioned in former letters. The matter I presume will be decided one way or another in a few days. A few promotions have been commenced in Co. I. Corporal Jesse Scudder, corp. John Carroll, and private L. Allshouse have been appointed sergeants. The two latter are prisoners of war at Richmond. S. W. Dallam, Wilson McCandless and S. Carnahan have received appointments as corporals.
I learn that Dr. D. M. Creel, of Industry, who has been our hospital steward since the organization of the regiment, and who is now at home, has passed a satisfactory examination before the Military Medical Board, and is recommended as Assistant Surgeon in this regiment. He comes, however, under the same disability mentioned in the cases of Veatch and James.
Those of our boys who came out with the regiment begin to consider themselves as veterans, and they look upon the new recruits as extraordinary specimens of greenness and verdancy in military matters. They tell us the following story on one of our new recruits. – He was placed on one of the outposts as picket, and while walking his beat he concluded it would be a good opportunity to clean his gun lock, and so he seated himself on a stump near by and soon had his gun taken to pieces. – While he was vigorously employed in polishing the gun lock, Gen. Morgan came around on a tour of inspection, and noticing the young soldier in such a new line of duty for a picket, he approached him and asked him what he was doing there. “Well,” says the verdant youth, “I am a sort of kind of guard here.” “Well,” says the General, “I am a sort of a General here.” “Oh, yes,” says the boy, “hold on, General, until I get my gun put together and I will salute you.” – The General rode away and ordered a “veteran” to the post, and the new recruit was ordered to camp for instruction.
I heard a good joke the other day on Bill McClellan of Co. I, which I must relate. It appears that one of the boys of that company, a messmate of Bill, had been reported for some delinquency, and he was ordered to the ‘Bull-pen’ under guard. The ‘Bull-pen’ is a place near the Colonel’s quarters where the delinquents assemble and remain under guard until their cases are disposed of. When the name of this delinquent was called it was an hour or so after guard-mounting, and Bill of course thought his messmate was called for what we call “fatigue duty,” which is lighter work than picket or guard or duty. The young culprit not liking the ‘Bull-pen,’ was purposely absent, and as Bill’s name came next on the roll he announced himself as ready to fill his place. The Orderly did not want Bill, but Bill was not to be put off so easily. He knew that fatigue duty was lighter than picket duty, and his turn at picket duty would come in the morning. It was his chance now to escape it, and he began to suspect the Orderly of partiality in refusing to call his name next. At [obscured] on filling his messmate’s place to come along, and so Bill started off and soon found himself under guard, marching straight for the ‘Bull-pen.’ A new light began to break in upon the mind of Bill. He began to ‘see’ things as other saw them, but with somewhat different feelings. He remonstrated with the guard – said he wasn’t the man by no manner of means. He was somebody else entirely. The Colonel soon saw how matters stood, and ordered his release immediately. But it was a good joke on Bill, as there is not a better soldier in the regiment, or one who tries more faithfully to do his duty. – Bill won’t hear the last of it while the war lasts.
We still occupy the same old camp near Rossville. I hear that the 16th and 10th Ills. are under marching orders, but for what point I cannot say. – There are no prospects of our regiment marching soon. Capt. Hume has not yet returned, but is expected in a day or two.
J. K. M.
A Democratic Version of the Coles County Massacre.
The Chicago Post more nearly reflects the sentiments of the majority of the Democrats in Illinois than any other paper published in the State. One of its editors has been visiting Coles county and the scene of the recent copperhead massacre of Union soldiers, and in a long letter written there, which is published in the Post, giving the particulars of the affair, he says that the outbreak was the result of a regular copperhead conspiracy, formed months ago; it was a regular military organization, calling itself “The Mighty Host,” its object being to render aid and comfort to the rebels, with whom the leaders were in correspondence. The attack upon the soldiers at Charleston on Monday was a premeditated affair; the scoundrels had been drilling and preparing for several days, with the avowed purpose of killing the Union soldiers; and the soldiers were fired upon without the least provacation.
The Post also publishes the following:
Mattoon April 1.
To the Editor of the Chicago Post:
Most of the dispatches concerning the Carleston insurrection are grossly untrue. There was not the slightest provocation. Three days now spent in taking testimony, swow a plan to murder all the soldiers in Charleston. The leaders were John H. O’Hair, Nelson Wells, John Frazer and others. About one hundred are implicated, thirty-seven of whom are now under arrest. The ringleaders escaped. Efforts are being made in the surrounding counties to rally rebels, but have failed. They are believed to have disbanded and fled. A body of 200 was reported in Jasper, yesterday, going South. Eight deaths have occurred, five of which were of soldiers; one other will die. The soldiers were unarmed. All the rioters came armed with extra guns in wagons. Four additional prisoners were brought in this morning.
A foraging party went to O’Hair’s this morning, but could learn nothing of his whereabouts. Eden left for Washington on Monday, on foot. The feeling in this community is one of deep and terrible indignation against the Peace demagogues who are not only believed but known to be at the bottom of the late outbreaks.