LIFE IN THE ARMY.
Being the Observations and Experiences
of a Private Soldier.
By J. K Magie.
On Friday, the 19th of September, an order was received for the men to prepare two days’ cooked rations, and be ready to strike tents and depart the next day Southward. All was bustle and excitement. We had been nearly a month in camp, and the daily routine had become somewhat irksome and tedious, and the prospect of a change was greeted with cheers of delight. Our pork was boiled up in large kettles, and a proper share meted out to each man. We had been using soft bread of a tolerably good quality, and the little delicacies we had procured from home, together with the luxury of butter, &c., which could be purchased in Quincy, we had made out a pretty good living. But when we came to fill our haversacks with a huge chunk of fat, greasy pork, and a lot of the hardest and toughest crackers that we had ever seen or heard tell of, the prospect of good living utterly vanished, and we began to have some ideas of what it was to soldier.
A day or two previous to the receipt of marching orders, the arms and accroutremensts of the regiment had been received. Upon examination they were found to be the old revolutionary flint locks, altered to percussion. The officers condemned them forthwith, and the Colonel refused to distribute them to the men. They were not taken out of the boxes in which they were packed, but they were nailed up again until the proper authorities could be consulted in reference to better arms.
The morning of the 20th of September, 1862, broke clear and unclouded. In the early part of the day our tents were struck and packed. It was about noon time when we were marched to the depot. There we found a train of open platform cars awaiting us. The horses of the Colonel and field officers were duly loaded upon the train, and the tents and other baggage belonging to the regiment were nicely loaded in box cars. The arms and accoutrements which we were expected to use, but upon which the scale of condemnation had been place, were also put upon the train. The citizens turned out in pretty large numbers to see us off. One enthusiastic and patriotic old man brought out a small cannon and boomed away most vigorously. The hour hand had pointed to nearly four o’clock in the afternoon before the train moved off. But it moved at last, carrying away a thousand beating hearts, anxious, but hopeful of the future. We left in camp the 84th and 119th regiments. The organization of the 84th was completed before that of the 78th, and they were better prepared for marching orders than the latter. The order to march was undoubtedly meant for the 84th, as the original number of the 84th was the 78th, but was afterward changed for the following reason. When Colonel Waters was commissioned, he was assigned to the 78th regiment, but learning afterward that A. V. Humphrey, of Quincy, had been commissioned as Quarter Master for the 78th, he wished to have another person for that position, and as he would not interfere with Mr. Humphrey’s commission, Colonel Waters had the number of his regiment changed to that of the 84th, and thus avoided all difficulty, and took in as his Quarter Master, the man of his choice.
Our train headed for Springfield, at which place we arrived about 12 o’clock at night. Here we stopped about one hour waiting for orders, which being received, the train continued eastward. We passed Decatur a little after day light. The country all along gave evidence of industry, prosperity and plenty. About ten o’clock we reached the station known as State Line, where the train made a halt of an hour or more. This was a little village of about a hundred houses, and as its name indicates that it was located on the dividing between the States of Ills. and Ind. It was a quiet Sabbath morning, and the citizens of this little village were quietly wending their way to church. The boys of the regiment had began to feel –
“The keen demands of appetite,”
and had failed to derived that same satisfaction from the contents of their haversacks, as when seated around the well spread table at home. They looked with longing, wishful eyes at the back kitchens of the several houses contiguous to the depot, where the train was standing, and soon there was a general scattering out of a hundred or more on tours of observation and exploration. In a short time there might have been seen the same number returning with smiling countenance, almost every one bringing with him a bone, a loaf of bread, or a pie, which was duly distributed to the less venturesome, but not less hungry comrades.
After a change of engines the train was soon speeding along. The boys all seemed to be lively and in good spirits, notwithstanding the very uncomfortable accommodations which had been furnished us. We were exposed to the dust, the cinders, and at night to the falling dew. The dampness of the night, rendered us in first rate condition to retain all the dust and cinders which struck our faces and clothing. It was sometimes impossible to recognize our most intimate friends, so begrimed with dust and smoke were their countenances. But every body was lively and cheerful, the sun shown pleasantly, the country through which we were passing was beautiful, and the people everywhere greeted us with cheers, and the waving of hats and handkerchiefs. The “boys,” as we will persist in calling them, although some were grey with age, returned the cheers with vigor, and craked their jokes one with another, as though we were on a holiday excursion instead of a mission that would inevitably prostrate at least, half of us by disease or death. It was very inconvenient for us to procure as much butter as we needed. At Lafayette, Indiana, every man was furnished with a canteen, and at that point we had good opportunity to fill them. After leaving Lafayette I noticed that a “certain few” became thirsty quite often and had recourse to one particular canteen to slacken their thirst. We had a certain individual in our company whom we called “Pate,” although he would answer to the name of “coal-digger.” He was a comical genius, and over-floawed with good nature and genuine wit. Pate saw the suspicious canteen, and at once became very thirsty. He called to one of his companions – “Will you please to pass that water this way.” Pate took the canteen with an air of innocent simplicity, and putting it to his lips took several swallows, when suddenly taking it from his mouth, he handed it back with an offended air as though he had been imposed upon. “Here,” said he, “I thought I was drinking water all the time, and it was nothing but whisky.”
We reached Indianapolis just before sundown. The people lined the railroad by thousands, greeting us with cheers of genuine joy. At this particular juncture it will be remembered that the rebel Bragg was approaching Louisville with an army, said to be a hundred thousand strong. With Louisville in possession of the rebels Indianapolis would be seriously threatened, and of course the citizens hailed with intense satisfaction the arrival of every train load of troops that was sent forward to repel the advance of the [fold].
Indianapolis is certainly a beautiful city. It is a great railroad centre, and its rapid growth from business, wealth and population is almost without a parallel in the great west. I was struck with the beauty and the thrift of the place, and my subsequent visits to that city have only confirmed [?] in my first impressions.
Our train reached Jeffersonville a little before daylight on Monday morning. This is a city of some ten or fifteen thousand inhabitants, located on the banks of the Ohio river, on the Indiana side, immediately opposite the city of Louisville. We had no orders to leave the cars, and so we huddled down and quietly snoozed, as best we could, until daylight.
[TO BE CONTINUED.]
Erratta. – We were absent a day or two from the city the present week, and our outside form was put to press during our absence. We notice several errors in our sketch of “Life in the Army.” The comical genius that we wrote about was “Pete,” and not “Pate.” And the article that was so inconvenient to procure was “water,” and not “butter,” although the latter article was obsolete with us. There are other errors of minor importance which the sense of the reader will correct.
The Post Office.
Through the kindness and partiality of the “powers that be,” the appointment of Postmaster of the city of Macomb, has been conferred upon our humble self. Of course our own opinion is that this appointment was “eminently fit to be made.” The Administration might have gone farther and faced worse. It has probably disturbed the feelings of some that so worthy an individual as Mr. Wyne should be set aside for so unpretending an individual as our peculiar self. The Copperheads don’t like it overmuch. They are as full of sympathy for the old incumbent as they were for Mr. Seward when Mr. Lincoln was nominated over that distinguished individual for President. But the deed is done, and we shall probably take possession of the Post Office in the course of the coming week.
We expect to devote our personal attention to the duties of the office. Our editorial connection with the Journal will remain the same. Whether we shall fill the position of Postmaster with as much satisfaction to the community as has the old incumbent, only remains to be seen. We can cheerfully bear testimony to the faithful, and industrious manner in which Mr. Wyne has performed the duties of his office. But in this country “rotation” is the order of the day. We have very few life offices to bestow upon individuals. We shouldn’t wonder if some day some enterprising individual would rotate us out and himself in. We should expect then to share the sympathy of those who now think it was upwise to make a change.
There has been considerable speculation as to the future location of the Post Office. It will remain where it is, at least for several weeks to come; and if it should eventually be removed, it will not be to any less convenient location or less commodious room than where it is now.
What are we Coming to. – A prominent Copperhead of this city was overwhelmed with surprise on learning of the change in the Post Office. After reflecting a moment he broke out – “Westfall turned out of the Express office and now Wyne turned out of the Post Office – G-d d-n such an Adminstration.” Take it easy, man; take it easy, and at the next election vote against the Express company.
→ A few weeks ago the Eagle published quite a sensation article under the title of “The Beginning,” in which it discussed the awful consequences, in a moral point of view, of the presence among us of “colored nuisances.” A little circumstance occurred two or three weeks since in this city, in which a little “colored nuisance” was involved, that would have been an excellent text for the Eagle to have preached a long sermon upon, and we are surprised that the Eagle has been so mum over the affair. One of our most respectable Copperhead citizens employs in his family a little colored girl of some twelve or fourteen years of age. A lady neighbor the other day heard cries issuing from an outhouse located at the back of the garden, and rushing hither she was just in time to see the sturdy form of a white man rushing with break neck pace from the scene, leaving the little “colored nuisance” in much distress of mind and body. That same man has wore out the seat of his breeches setting on dry goods boxes and declaiming against nigger equality.
→ Our carrier boy is sick this week and we will be obliged to put a new carrier upon the route. We will try and have our city subscribers all served, but there will be no doubt be some overlooked. All irregularities will be promptly remedied if reported at this office.
A Beautiful Exhibition.
There is on exhibition in a spacious pavilion a short distance west of Brown’s Hotel a splendid collection of life size statuaries in wax, representing nearly all the characters connected with the assassination plot at Washington. This is really a splendid exhibition, and our citizens will be amply repaid the little expense attending a visit to it. It will remain but a short time – perhaps close to-day.
It cleared up on Saturday last and no rain fell until Wednesday evening, when we were visited by a heavy shower. The clear weather of the early part of the week has enabled our farmers to make considerable progress in gathering their oat and hay crops. The wheat crop is not damaged as much as feared. Full one-half can be saved in good condition. As we go to press the weather promises favorable.
On Monday last George Chapman, a son of James Chapman, Esq., had the misfortune to break his right leg below the knee, by rolling down a steep embankment at the creek just north of town. It seems that the boys of this city are in the habit of going to the creek to swim, and fool away their time, and while there, they initiate others by making a “slide” by throwing water on a steep place and then sliding down. This was the cause of young Chapman’s misfortune. We hope other boys may take warning.
Our city is slowly but steadily improving all the time, and we observe that houses are being put up in every part of the city. This is as it should be, but still the supply of dwelling and business houses do not equal the demand. Rents are enormously high, and will be till more houses are built than are called for.
We notice that W. H. Neece’s house is about completed. This house is situated in the west part of the city, just north of the depot, and is a fine structure.
Mr. A. Hunt is putting up a large dwelling on Jefferson street, between Lafayette and McArthur.
George Kruse has put in a new front to his machine bakery, and has considerably enlarged it by building an addition to the back end.
The side-walks are being rebuilt in all parts of the city – a needed improvement.
A Terrible Accident!
On Saturday last Mr. William King, the head miller at the mill of CLisby & Trull, was killed by being caught and wound around the shaft of the wheat screen. It appears that a spout that lead the wheat from the elevator to the screen, got choked by some rags, and Mr. King went up to the place to remove the difficulty, and while so doing, the tail of his coat was caught by the revolving shaft of the screen, when he was instantly doubled up over the shaft. By his body being on the shaft, it was thrown out of gear, or else his body would have been torn into pieces. The hands of the mill immediately saw that something was wrong, when James Binnie ran up stairs and found Mr. King in the situation above described. The machinery was stopped, and Mr. King taken from the shaft, still alive but terribly mangled. This occurred about ten o’clock A M., and he lingered in great agony till one o’clock, when he died. His body was taken to Brookland for burial. Mr. King leaves a wife and several children who were dependent upon for their support.
We would state here, that if readers and others having wheat to grind, would be more careful to thoroughly clean their wheat before bringing to mill, there would be less danger, and less liability to accidents of the nature above described.
On Thursday morning of this week an old gentleman named Jefferds, living three or four miles south-east of this city, hitched up his nag to ride to town. After proceeding on his journey a mile or two, he overtook a stranger and kindly invited him to ride. The weather being warm the old man threw off his coat, a pocket of which contained a roll of bills, amounting to three hundred dollars. The stranger got out of the wagon near the Randolph House, and Mr. Jefferds drove on a short distance, when he proceeded to leave his wagon, and putting on his coat discovered that his money was missing. The stranger was also missing.
Cigars and Tobacco.
Mr. F. M. Schafer, has sold his tobacco and cigar factory to Mr. Ernst G. Schuchard. Mr. Schafer goes to Chicago. We are sorry to part with Frank, and wish him success in his new field. Mr. Schuchard has the reputation of being a good cigar maker, and hope he will enjoy the patronage that was bestowed upon Mr. Schafer.
Dr. William H. Anderson and Mr. James T. Gash, who have been on a health-seeking trip to Minnesota, have returned home, greatly benefitted by their excursion. They both look very much improved in health, and report Minnesota as being a fine place to live in, but board is very high and hard to get at any price, owing to the great influx of travelers, and location seekers.
Colonel L. H. Waters, late Colonel of the 84th regiment, contemplates removing South this Fall, and started last Monday to perfect his arrangements there, before removing his family. Huntsville, Alabama, is the place he has selected for his future residence.
→ Mr. W. D. Steele, a well know school teacher of this city, has sold his residence in this city, and designs to remove to Indiana, to commence the practice of medicine. Mr. Steele is a successful teacher, and we believe will make a successful physician. Our best wishes go with him.