December 14, 1864.
I wrote to you from Chattanooga on the 23d ult., since which time, no opportunity has occurred which I could avail myself of to write. I have been assigned to duty in a company made up in most part of men belonging to our Brigade which is now with Sherman. – I am assured by pretty high authority that we will be sent to our respective commands as soon as we have official information that Gen. Sherman has reached the coast. I confess that I am exceedingly anxious to join once more my companions in the glorious old 78th. But, also, there are some whose faces I shall never see again. Six of my company lie buried in soldiers graves near Atlanta. I left them in August last well and hearty, and standing up to their duties like good and true soldiers as they were.
The readers of the Journal are undoubtedly aware of the rebel Hood’s proximity to Nashville. On the day that Gen. Thomas fell back to Nashville, eight or ten large train loads of troops arrived here from Chattanooga, and among them our battalion of convalescents. Since that time we have been engaged building breastworks, and strengthening the fortifications about Nashville, until I am satisfied it would take ten times the number of Hood’s army to gain an entrance inside our first line of works.
The weather for the past six or eight days has been perfectly awful – biting, freezing, cold, and the soldiers without fires or any other protection from the weather except their tents and blankets. We have been furnished with scarcely enough wood to cook our rations. But the severe cold weather is over, and I hope for a better state of things. But in all my experience in soldiering the last two weeks has been to me the most severe.
Three or four days since I stole a little time to run over to the camp of the 17th U. S. colored-troops, for the purpose of warming my toes and seeing my friend, Lieut. J. C. McClellan, who is commanding a company in that regiment. Mac is from Industry, and was formerly a Sergeant in Co. I, 78th regiment. He received a commission as First Lieutenant in the 17th colored regiment about a year since, and I have reason to believe he is one of the best officers in the regiment. He is held in high esteem, not only by his brother officers, but by the men composing his company. I was shown a beautiful sword and belt which was presented to him with appropriate ceremonies by the company only the day before. A little incident occurred while I was sitting in his tent which is somewhat characteristic of the feelings of his men toward their commander. One of his company came to the tent and asked if he could be favored with a pass to go into the city for a few hours. The Lieutenant replied that he had accidentally spilled his ink, and that he could not then write one. The sable individual then disappeared, but in a moment or two returned with a bottle of ink, just bought at the sutlers, which he handed to the Lieutenant with the remark –
“Lieutenant I makes you a present of that.”
“Oh, no, says the Lieutenant, I will pay you for it.”
“No, sah, I’se only too glad to do something for you. You’ve been mighty good to us boys, and I wants to favor you when ever I can.”
The prejudice which at first existed against colored troops is fast disappearing. It is a fact now beyond dispute that colored soldiers show as much expertness in drill exercise as white soldiers, and no one now will pretend to say that they will not fight. I have seen colored troops a number of times under fire, and have seen them charge upon the rebel lines, and I must bear testimony to the fact that they displayed as much coolness, valor, and daring as I have ever seen displayed under like circumstances by white troops. – Colored soldiers are sometimes subject to many indignities at the hands of white soldiers who partake of the too common prejudice against their race. – Lieut. McClellan told me that in the first days of their organization he listened to many complaints from his men who had been abused or maltreated by some white soldiers of rowdyish proclivities. It was formerly the custom of the colored soldiers to bear all indignities with lamb-like meekness and submission, but of late it would appear that they are disposed to “stand up to their rights.” The 17th colored regiment has connected with it a colored band, whose custom it is to practice in music occasionally on a vacant lot a few rods from their camp. A few weeks since while performing their musical exercises a white soldier belonging to a battery located in one of the forts at this place came along, and making some insulting remarks about nigger bands, proceeded to kick in the heads of the drum which belonged to the colored band. This was too much, even for nigger endurance. The colored drummer proceeded to lay violent hands upon the destroyer of his musical instrument. With a blow of his fist he knocked him down, and his head striking a rock his skull was broken, and he died then and there. The universal verdict seems to have been – “served him right,” for the colored drummer is still performing his duties in the regiment no charges having ever been preferred against him.
Another instance of swift retribution was mentioned to me by Lieut. McClellan. A Sergeant in his company, a young man of some intelligence and promise, had been so often ill-treated that he concluded that it was about time to make resentment. He purchased a pistol and carried it about his person, which was a violation of a late military order, which forbids all enlisted men wearing side arms or weapons. A few days after purchasing the pistol, as the Sergeant was walking quietly along Broad street, a rowdyish soldier ordered him off the sidewalk. The street was very muddy at the time, and the Sergeant insisted upon his right to walk upon the pavement. The rowdyish soldier told him that he was a “d – d nigger,” and had no right upon the sidewalk, and proceeded to violently push him off into the mud. The Sergeant told him that he would not take such treatment from a citizen, but he wished to avoid a quarrel with a soldier, and so walked in the mud a distance of forty or fifty yards, when he again endeavored to walk upon to the pavement. The soldier rudely pushed him from it, when the Sergeant told him he had borne all that he was going to, and warned him not to lay hands upon him again. The soldier did not heed the advice and the result was the Sergeant shot him dead. The Sergeant gave himself up the next day to the Provost Marshal, but it is thought he will only be convicted of the violation of the order forbidding him to carry any other weapon except such that Uncle Sam provides.
I hope for a little more leisure in the future, so that I shall be able to furnish you another letter next week.
J. K. M.
Half Sheet. – Wishing to keep up the custom of giving the typoes holiday between Christmas and New Years, we only print a half sheet this week. We would not have issued any paper if we had not have had some legal “ads” that had to be published. We will be all right next week.
Stabbing Affray. – We learn that two sons of Lieut. Col. Sam Wilson were severely stabbed on Tuesday night in Middletown, in this county. – We have not learned the particulars.
For Sale. – A good selected stock of Notions, comprising of a lot of 25 and 50 cent Novels, Pocket Books, Perfumeries, Letter paper and a variety of articles too numerous to mention, will be disposed of at cost price. Apply at this office.
Old Cary’s Show. – Old Cary visited our city and gave two exhibitions at Campbell’s Hall, on Saturday and Monday evenings. They gave very good satisfaction.
Christmas. – The day for gifts has come and gone – a great many things changed hands gratuitously that day; and, by the way, we received a nice fat turkey from our newly elected Circuit Clerk, J. H. Hungate Esq., for which we return our sincere thanks. John will be remembered in the printer’s blessing.
SAVANNAH HAS FALLEN.
We have taken 800 prisoners, 150 Guns, and 33,000 bales of Cotton.
HARDEE ESCAPES WITH HIS ARMY.
Dispatches from Gens. Sherman and Foster.
War Department, Washington, Dec. 25th. – Maj. Gen. Dix: A dispatch has been received this evening by the President from Gen. Sherman, dated Savannah, Thursday, 22d inst., announcing his occupation of the city of Savannah and the capture of one hundred and fifty guns, plenty of ammunition and 25,000 bales of cotton.
No other particulars are given.
An official dispatch from Gen. Foster to Gen. Grant, dated Thursday. 22d inst, says that the city of Savannah was occupied by Gen. Sherman on the morning of the 21st, and that on the preceding P. M. and night Hardee escaped with the main body of his infantry and light artillery, blowing up the ironclads and the navy yard.
He enumerates as captured 800 prisoners, 150 guns, 12 locomotives, in good order, 190 cars, a large lot of ammunition and materials of war, 3 steamers, and 33,000 bales of cotton.
No mention is made of the present position of Hardee’s forces, which had been estimated at about 15,000.
The dispatches of Gen. Sherman and Gen. Foster are as follows:
Gen. Sherman’s Dispatch.
Savannah, Ga., Dec. 22. – To his Excellency President Lincoln: I beg leave to present to you as a Christmas gift the city of Savannah, with a hundred and fifty heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about twenty-five thousand bales of cotton.
[Signed,] W. T. Sherman
Gen. Foster’s Dispatch.
Steamer Golden Gate, Savannah River, Dec. 22. 7 P. M. – To Lieut Gen. Grant and Maj. Gen. Halleck: I have the honor to report that I have just returned from General Sherman’s headquarters, in Savannah. I send Major Gray, of my staff, as bearer of dispatches from General Sherman to you, and also a message to the President.
The city of Savannah was occupied on the morning of the 21st. Gen Hardee, anticipating the contemplated assault, escaped with the main body of his infantry and light artillery, on the evening of the 20th, by crossing the river at Union causeway, opposite the city.
The rebel iron-clads were blown up, and the navy yard was burned. All the rest of the city is intact, and contains 30,000 citizens who are quiet and well disposed.
The capture includes 800 prisoners, 150 guns, 13 locomotives in good order, 190 cars, a large supply of ammunition and materials of war, 3 steamers and 33,000 bales of cotton safely stored in warehouses. All these valuables – fruits of an almost bloodless victory – have been, like Atlanta, fairly won.
I opened communication with the city with me steamers to-day, taking up all the torpedoes we could see, and passing safely over others. Arrangements are made to clear the channel of all obstructions.
J. G. Foster, Maj. Gen.
The Richmond papers of yesterday state that on the 23d, 26 vessels f the Wilmington expedition had re-appeared. The dispatch of Gen. Bragg is published in the Richmond papers, and is as follows:
Wilmington, Dec. 23. – Twenty-six vessels of the Federal fleet reappeared this morning. There has been no change since the last dispatch.
This is the latest intelligence received from that expedition.
(Signed) Edwin M. Stanton,
Secretary of War.