LIFE IN THE ARMY.
Being the Observations and Experi-
ences of a Private Soldier.
By J. K. Magie.
On Sunday evening, Oct. 6th, our regiment in connection with the 91st Illinois, received marching orders. The next morning soon after daylight we struck tents, but it was near 9 o’clock before we got started. The day was pleasant, and rather warm, and the roads were in excellent order. Our destination was Shephardsville, a small town on the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, about 20 miles due south of Louisville. For a few miles south of Louisville the country was well improved, and occasionally dotted with elegant residences. – Before night we reached a country which was anything but beautiful and inviting. – The farms and farm houses that we saw looked as though they belonged to the last century. The fences were made of brush, or broken sticks, or piles of stone, and the houses were generally rude, home-made structures, inhabited seemingly by more blacks than whites. We could not see the one white man at work, but we saw numerous darkies, of both sexes, in the fields at work. The white men generally fled and secreted themselves on the approach of our army, fearing I suppose, arrest or conscription.
This was our first march in Dixie, and I think the boys of our regiment will always remember it. We had not marched over six miles before nearly every man felt utterly prostrated and unable to march another mile. Our knapsacks, guns, &c., felt as though they would weigh a hundred pounds. We made twelve miles that day, and camped at night in a beautiful grove or piece of woods which had been used a few days before as a rebel camp. Camp fires were soon burning, and there were busy preparations for a supper. The neighboring farms furnished a few chickens and mutton which were duly paid for, as confiscation was not then the order of the day, and Kentucky was not really a seceding State, although its loyalty about that time was of the suspicious stripe. A guard was stationed, and after supper those not on duty spread their blankets for a night’s rest. – The best feather beds at home were never more enjoyed than the blankets and ground were that night.
Our second day’s march was marked by no extraordinary incident. We started about eight o’clock in the morning and reached Shephardsville about noon. Our Sergeant-major, C. V. Chandler, and Elisha Morse, Adjutant’s clerk, walked through the day before. The 91st Illinois also made the trip the day before. Morse and Chandler had selected a good camping place a little east of town on the banks of Salt river, where we proceeded to erect tents. – [Fold] in the evening pickets were stationed at proper points with instructions to be on the alert, as the country thereabouts was pretty strongly tinctured with secession, and the rebels had just evacuated that part of the country, and Bragg’s army was not then over thirty miles distant. The pickets were instructed if they were fired upon to report immediately to camp, and the drum-major was authorized to beat the long roll upon the least cause of alarm. About ten o’clock, after the most of those in camp were wrapped in their blankets asleep, the firing of guns was heard in the distance, and a few affrighted messengers from the picket posts came rushing in with the information that they were attacked by the rebels. The long roll was sounded, and the call to arms was given. The officers seized their swords and pistols, and the men their guns, and in less than three minutes our regiment was in line of battle ready to meet Bragg’s whole army. There we stood for about half an hour, but Bragg didn’t come. The cause of the alarm was at length discovered. Four persons from company C, not being over weary from their twenty-mile march, were disposed to take a walk a mile or two from camp in the order that they might see what was to be seen on a moonshining night in that country. How they passed the picket line they know better than I do. While strolling about, as they informed me afterward, they happened to spy a good fat pig, and drawing their pistols, they ordered it to halt, but the pig paid no heed to the order, and so they thought it to be their duty to shoot it, which they did, and the pickets thinking they were fired upon rushed to camp and reported, and hence the commotion. The slayers of the pig were arrested while in the act desecting it, and were brought to camp and placed in the guard tent where they remained for several days, but were finally discharged without trial but with a great deal of reprimand. Some how or other that same pig was smuggled into camp and I was invited the next day to a slice of it.
Shephardsville was a miserable, dilapidated looking town, of about twenty or thirty houses. It was the county seat of Bullitt county. The bridge over Salt river at that place was destroyed by the rebels when they evacuated that part of the country, and it was now being rebuilt.
We remained at Shephardsville just one week. On Monday evening, Oct. 13th, two companies of our regiment, A and C, were ordered to proceed forthwith to the railroad crossing at Beech Fork, a mile or two south of the village of Boston in Nelson county. These companies marched nearly all night, reaching their destination some time the next forenoon. The distance was about twenty miles. The two regiments, 91st and 78th, left Shephardsville on the morning of the 14th, marching in a southerly direction. It was understood that our business was to guard the construction of bridges on the Lebanon branch of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, which had nearly all been burned by the rebels.
Our regiment on leaving Shephardsville marched very slowly. About noon we made a halt of some two or three hours in order to get some horses shod at a blacksmith’s shop by the road side. This gave us an excellent opportunity to gather and eat some wild grapes which grew in abundance in that vicinity. We marched only eight miles that day. About four o’clock we reached a little village called Belmont Furnace were we halted for the night. – This village contained about twenty small houses, but they were nearly all deserted. Before the war there were two or three large iron furnaces in operation there, but they were now closed, and the operatives had sought occupation elsewhere. As the whole town appeared to be pretty much deserted our boys ransacked it pretty thoroughly. In one of the buildings they found the remains of a village store, and among other articles was a barrel of loaf sugar, which of course went to sweeten their coffee.
A little incident occurred that night which was relished much by the boys. – The Colonel of the regiment some how or other got outside of the guard lines. I believe he had accepted the invitation of a neighbor to supper. About eleven o’clock he was making his way into camp when he was challenged by one of the sentinels with “Who comes there?” The Colonel replied that it was nobody but himself, and he was about to push by the guard, when that soldier informed him that nobody without the countersign could pass his line into camp. The Colonel scolded, threatened and swore, and then at length began to coax and plead, but the guard was firm, and it was not until the officer of the guard came around that the Colonel was permitted to enter the lines of the camp.
The next morning we got started by 7 o’clock. The weather continued pleasant, but the roads were very hilly stony. We met that morning about 9 o’clock three women upon horseback who were on their way to the battle field of Perryville, which battle had been fought about a week previous [obscured] they broke out into [obscured]. – They informed us that they had just received information of the death of the husband of one of the party at Perryville, and that her son had been mortally wounded at the same time. The father and son belonged to the 16th Ky. Infantry, and fell fighting for the Union cause. The old lady told us to go on and fill their places, and she prayed that success might attend us. – I believe that a number belonging to the 16th Ky. Inf. who had lived in that vicinity, fell at the battle of Perryville.
[To Be Continued.]
‒ The law against killing prairie chickens in this State will be in effect until the 15h of the present month.
Louisville, Ky., Aug. 10, 1865.
Dear Journal: – The storm has swept over us, and now that the dust and debris has cleared away, we are able to see clearly the result of the election which took place in Kentucky. In this District, the gallant General Rousseau is elected by the handsome majority of about 1500 votes. This much congratulatory. But, alas! those who thought that the black spot on the escutcheon of the nation was about to be wiped out forever by the election of a Legislature which would ratify the Constitutional Amendment forever prohibiting slavery in this nation, have met with a signal disappointment. Although the friends of “the institution” in Kentucky admit that it is as good as destroyed; and although the negroes now seem worthless both as freedmen and slave, still they are not going to gratify the “infernal Abolitionists” by legally abolishing it. No; much would they prefer to be harassed for their natural life.
What shape the negro question will now take, it is impossible to say. Heretofore hundreds have been freed every month, under the act of Congress which frees the wives and children of all who enlist in the army. But now that recruiting is stopped, of course this ceases.
According to our official report made by Brig. Gen. Brisbin, who has had charge of the matter for over a year past, the total number of negroes who have enlisted from Kentucky, is 28,818. The whole number of women and children made free by these enlistments is 72,055.
It seems that the stupendous war through which we have passed has made the people estimate human life very lightly. Why, murders are of almost daily occurrence here, and such ones, too, for atrocity, as would have shocked every member of the community a few years ago, and led to the offer of large rewards, and the hunting down of the [?] without delay. – Now, [obscured] beyond the publication of the facts in the newspapers. On last Saturday night the train which eft Jeffersonville at 10 o’clock, going north had proceeded but a mile or two before it saw the body of a man lying on the track. Investigation showed that he had been murdered and thrown there, and he was recognized as an employee of the Railroad Company. A little farther on the body of another man was found, in the same position. Is this not horrible, for a civilized community? Many of the citizens of this place, living up-town, would not return down after nightfall for a large sum of money.
Allow me to congratulate you, Mr. Editor, on the improvement in your paper. Now that the war is ended, the telegraphic news of the daily journals amount to just nothing at all. So the people in the interior have no use for them. Now it behooves them to give a generous support to their local newspapers, and encourage their publishers to make them what they should be – an index of the business and current events of their own county. You have my best wishes for your success.
A friend of mine, an eminent M. D. of this city, had a very rich joke played on him, a few days since. A widow woman who had been boarding at a hotel, sent for him to prescribe for her child. He did so, and it recovered. He thought nothing more of the affair. But a few weeks afterward the woman presented herself at his house, saying she had very little money, and was desirious of discharging the debt by sewing for his family. He saw nothing wrong about the woman, and accepted the offer. In about a week, one bright morning, while in the parlor, the aforesaid woman, without warning anybody, added one to the population of the City! N. B. – My friend is a swearing man. My modesty forbids me saying anything further about the woman.
We are having plenty of fruit and melons here, but they command very exhorbitant prices. The peaches and pears are very fine.
Uncle Sam is fast selling off his surplus property in and about Louisville. If he could persuade the do-nothing officers to resign a little faster, he would be better off. But some people go on the principle of – “If you get a good thing save it.” I haven’t heard of any Quartermaster’s letting go their holds on the public teat in these parts.
Gen. Logan is now without a command. He reported to Gen. Palmer, commanding Department of Kentucky, the other day, and said the Army of the Tennessee was no more.
W. W. S., Big Neck, Ill. – On making out a new subscription book your name was accidentally omitted. It is now all right.
A. E. T., Dixon, Ill. – Your letter was received. The name of S. T. M. was found to be all right. Accept our thanks for your kindness.
W. H. T., Big Neck, Ill. – Thank you for the remembrance of the old score. We have quite a long list who seemed to have forgotten us in that respect. We comply with your request and refer you to our published terms.
H. R. H., Mendon, Ill. – The lines on the death of the President are too faulty for publication. The sentiment is very good but the expression is not.
U. B., Mendon, Ill. – This correspondent writes us respecting his dog which was discovered on Sunday morning last to be suffering from hydrophobia, and was thereupon killed. He neglects to sign his name in full as required by our rules.
→ We give place this week to a letter from Serg’t Thos. M. Scott in reply to the letter from Col. Vernon, published a few weeks since. We are sorry to see the bitterness of feeling which has been developed in this controversy, but we could not in justice deny the use of our columns to Mr. Scott.
→ Dr. D. M. Creel, of Industry, sends us word that he forwarded to us by mail two dollars as subscription money for the Journal. We have never received it. We should be sorry to believe that any one has been tampering with the mail between here and Industry, and we hope to hear that the missing letter has been found.
→ We notice the name of Sergt John Gibbs, formerly of Co. H, 78th regiment, announced in the Carthage Gazette, as a candidate for county treasurer of Hancock county. John was severely wounded at the battle of Jonesboro, Ga., and was discharged in consequence of his wounds. He is worthy of the position.
For County Judge. – The name of W. S. Hendricks, formerly of the 78th regiment, is being mentioned by his numerous friends as a suitable candidate for County Judge. We could heartily endorse the nomination of Squire Hendricks, as he is a worthy and competent man.
→ We have been informed that a travelling agent for the Eagle has represented that the history of the 84th regiment now being published in the Eagle was first offered to this paper and was refused. We wish to say that there is no truth in this representation.
The New School House.
This building is progressing favorably. The walls are now carried up as far as the first story, and we can now form some idea of the beauty and the proportions designed for this structure. It will really be an ornament to the city and an institution which all appreciate the benefit of. There is, of course, some carping opposition to the building. With some it is not located in the right place; with others it will cost too much. We understand that some reports are circulating that the building will cost as high as fifty thousand dollars. We are assured by Mr. W. O. Thomas that he has made a careful estimate of the probable expense of its construction and that it will not exceed twenty thousand dollars. Some of the bonds issued by the city for the construction of this building still remain unsold. Our citizens should interest themselves in this matter and see that the bonds are disposed of at their full value, and that speedily. The work on the building should not cease for lack of means. If it is pushed forward properly it will be ready for occupation during the coming winter.
Since the above was put in type we have been furnished by the building committee with an estimate in detail of the cost of the brick, lumber, &c., which will be required to finish the building. These estimates are based mainly upon present contracts, and the figures foot up $18,034, as the total cost of the building.
A Slander Refuted.
Under the above caption the Eagle of last week publishes a terrible effusion from one J. M. Finch, of Dallas City, Hancock county, which is copied from the Oquawka Spectator. We published a few weeks since a statement that the said Finch was called upon by some soldiers, and made to take the oath of fidelity to the Union. We received our information from a neighbor of Finch, and since our publication the same particulars appeared in the Carthage Gazette from a Dallas City correspondent. Finch denies the whole statement, and then eases himself of the following:
It will be a sufficient refutation of the allegations contained in the above, with the great mass of the citizens of Henderson and Hancock , when I state the simple fact that the author is one James K. Magie, who, I believe, figured in a newspaper at Oquawka, some six years ago; – the same Magie whom the Wide Awake Club at Terre Haut, in 1860, refused to let speak before them in consequence of his meanness; – the same Magie who soon after he started a paper in Carthage and played out in six months, and in that time outlived all his friends, – the same Magie who assumed the control and management of the Republican cause in Hancock county, who made speeches and statements so manifestly false that they were so proved upon him or every occasion, and after the election the Republicans attributed their defeat principally to his course, and were so indignant that they would not furnish him sufficient wood for his dying issue; – the same Magie who afterwards by some hook or crook got control of the a Republican sheet at Macomb, and when the war broke out in 1861, tried to raise a company with himself as captain, but failed. The company was raised, however, by others, and when it came to elect officers, Magie got nothing; having volunteered, he had to go to war, but he went as a private, and a very low one at that; and although he made constant efforts to get some kind of an office, to the credit of his company he never succeeded in rising above his grade.
There is not one line of truth in the above chapter of denunciation. We will dissect it a little.
“The same Magie whom the Wide Awake Club at Terre Haut, in 1860, refused to let speak before them.”
The Wide Awake Club at Terre Haute in 1860 passed a resolution unanimously inviting us to address them.
“The same Magie who soon after he started a paper in Carthage and played out in six months, and in that time outlived all his friends,”
We published a paper in Carthage eight months, and at the end of that time our party friends hed a meeting and unanimously selected us as their candidate for postmaster, which position we respectfully declined.
Finch says –
“The same Magie who assumed the control and management of the Republican cause in Hancock county, who made speeches and statements so manifestly false that they were so proved upon him or every occasion, and after the election the Republicans attributed their defeat principally to his course.”
Our statements were proved false on no occasion, and we will give Finch ten dollars for every Republican he will name who ever attributed their defeat to our course. A that election the Republicans were beaten in the county by between three and four hundred votes. At the next election when no “Magie” was there the Republicans were beaten by nearly twelve hundred votes.
Finch says –
“The same Magie who tried to raise a company with himself as Captain.”
We never tried to raise a company. We were solicited to raise a certain number of men for a company and we did it.
Finch says –
“Magie got nothing; having volunteered, he had to go to war, but went as a private, * * and although he made constant efforts to get some kind of an office to the credit of his company he never succeeded in rising about his grade.”
During our three years service we never asked a man for an office of any kind, but the office of first sergeant of our company was conferred upon us unsolicited and unexpected.
If Finch should make another effort to make something tell against us he might possibly hit upon one line of truth, as we do not pretend that there may not have been some short-comings in our rather exciting and eventful career. But when a man makes such a tremendous effort to traduce our character and can only hatch up a batch of such weak and manifest lies as Finch has, we begin to feel proud, and think we are better than our neighbors, for we know of but few but what might be touched up on some sore spot. Finch is about the last individual that we should suppose would rush in print to slander his betters, for he is notorious in his neighborhood as a liar, a rascal, a rake, and a traitor, who initiated some twenty or thirty of his copperhead brethren in an organization known as the “Sons of Liberty.” We have the documents to prove all that we say.
We beg pardon of our readers for devoting so much space to the barking curs at our heels. They need a kick now and then, and we feel strong enough to give it to them.
→ The Eagle says we are publishing what we call a “History of the 78th regiment.” Why can’t that concern speak the truth. We never called it a history of the 78th. It bears a title that suits us very well.
Reply to Col. Vernon.
Dallas City, Illinois,
August 5th, 1865.
Editor of Journal:
Sir – I received a few days ago a copy of your paper in which I saw a communication from Colonel Vernon, in which he presents me to be the “craven spirit” who wrote the statement published from the paroled prisoners of the 78th a few weeks ago. As I am not in the habit of denying anything I do, I will acknowledge that at the request of several of the paroled prisoners, I wrote the statement referred to. I did not believe in Vernon’s idea, that “soldiers have no right to think for themselves, that their officers are paid to think for them,” and so in that statement, I expressed their thoughts, only they thought there was not half enough of it.
Colonel Vernon denies refusing to send our descriptive rolls, and says that the whereabouts of the men were not known. This cannot be true. All our numbers were in almost daily correspondence with the regiment at that time, and in my case I give Lieutenant Woodruff as my authority that Colonel Vernon did refuse to have my descriptive roll sent me. I also append the certificates of two sergeants in my company H, which clinches the matter.
“We certify we heard M. R. Vernon, tell Lieutenant Woodruff, not to send T. M. Scott his descriptive roll.”
C. C. RICHART,
A. H. ROSE.
We, late members of Company H, 78th Illinois Infantry, certify that the statement of M. R. Vernon, in regard to T. M. Scott, keeping a continued discord between the company and company Commander, is a base lie.
C. C. RICHART, Ser’g Co. H,
JOHN H. MILLS,
D. J. HIGGINS.
While the regiment lay at Chicago, there were about thirty of us, paroled prisoners at Springfield. Other regiments at Chicago sent an officer down to see about mustering out the men, but we never heard a word from our regiment, and the result was we were mustered out without a settlement with the Government, putting us to a great deal of trouble and long delay in getting our pay, when a little attention on the part of Colonel Vernon, would have saved all trouble.
I expected Colonel Vernon to reply to my communication, but did not expect him to assail my character.
He says, “some how or other I got into the hands of the enemy.” He pretends not to know how I got into the hand of the enemy. He knows I was out under order from him, and doing exactly what I was ordered to do. He further says that my company was well rid of me when I was captured. Col. Vernon is at liberty to think as he pleases on that point, but my company, notwithstanding Vernon’s opinion that “soldiers had no right to think for themselves,” did think otherwise, for they all with but one exception, signed a petition for me to be commissioned captain of the company. I will here state that I was never absent a day from my company until I was captured. I was in every skirmish or fight they were in. During all that time I never rode in an ambulance but once and that was when I was wounded. He states that for the last six months I was in the regiment I kept up a continual discord between the company and company commander, and so great was this that his attention was on several occasions called to it by other officers. I don’t think he can give the name of an officer who will say he knows that I caused any discord between the company and company commander. The company commander and I had a little trouble but the company thought I was right and said so.
He further states that my malignity was aroused against him because he did not procure for me a commission in another company. That is a bare-faced lie. He offered it to me half a dozen times before I accepted it. I refused it on the ground that I did not wish to leave my company, and that probably the captain or company did not wish me to hold an office in the company. – He sent for the captain and enquired of him and he appeared to be willing. The truth is, I hold a commission as captain of my company over our first lieutenant, a particular friend of his. The idea was to get me to throw up my commission that his friend might get it. I also state, and dare him to deny it, that I several times offered to throw up my commission as captain if he would give the company choice between our two lieutenants but he [obscured] I suppose that [obscured] think for themselves. [Obscured]so anxious for an office as he pretends I would have accepted the office of adjutant or sergeant-major, which he offered to me several times. I wonder if he will deny that.
I might ask him to explain by what modus operandi he obtained his commission as Lieut-colonel. I might also ask him what became of the nice hams, flour, &c., that was foraged in Georgia. I might ask many questions which I think would embarrass the valiant colonel to answer, but I forbear.
THOS. M. SCOTT.
The Sneaks Returning.
We notice by our exchanges that in many localities large numbers of the skedaddlers who sought to escape from their duty to the Government by a refuge in Canada, are returning to their homes, believing, now that the war is over, they are relieved from all responsibility for their crimes. In this they are sadly mistaken. The law of Congress explicitly declares that all such deserters, who failed to return to their companies, or report to a Provost Marshal within sixty days after the issue of the proclamation dated March 3d, 1865, should forfeit their rights and franchises as citizens. This law is now in full force and operation. All deserters who have failed to report before the 1st of May, 1865, have consequently forfeited their citizenship. It is well enough for the people in the localities where these skedaddlers now seek to resume their citizenship, to remember these legal facts, and see that they are properly enforced.
The pastor of the M. E. Church will preach next Sabbath morning on the subject of “Prayer as connected with Divine Providence.”
The Rev. D. Harris, of the U. P. Church, will preach in the Congregational Church next Sabbath afternoon at 5 o’clock.
The Teachers’ Institute.
This association met at Bardolph on Wednesday. We heard that the attendance was fully as large as usual, and the exercises unusually interesting. We have been promised a report of proceedings for next week’s issue.
→ Our old soldier friend Benj. Gill, is erecting a neat residence for himself on Washington street, near the corner of south Lafayette street. He has established himself in his old business of blacksmithing at his old stand, and is driving business after his usual energetic style.
Change of Firm.
We learn that Frank R. Kyle, formerly proprietor of the City Drug Store, has purchased of McMillan & Co. their entire Drug Store on the south side. Frank is a good druggist.
The old blacksmith shop which has often of late been used as a stable at the north-east corner of the square has been taken down and removed, to the great relief of the citizens in that quarter. – We suppose a new building will go up on the site, but of that we are not advised.
Mr. G. A. Fuller, the patentee of a new and valuable soap, is in this city at Brown’s Hotel for the purpose of selling the right to manufacture and use his soap. Those wishing to examine and test the superior qualities of this soap can do so by calling on Mr. Fuller. We have seen certificates from those who have used the soap and they testify that it will remove tar, grease, ink and other obnoxious substances from clothing or even silks, without injury to the same, and that it saves one half of the labor of washing-day, to say nothing of the saving in the wear and tear of clothes.
The furniture warerooms of B. F. Martin & Son in this city contain all varieties of good elegant and substantial furniture, which they are now selling at rates which defy competition. We would advise the people to give them a call, before purchasing elsewhere, and they will find that we speak but the truth. Remember the place, north side, Public Square, two doors west of Johnson’s.
→ Mr. A. V. Brooking requests us to inform those who wish to hire horses or buggies, or both, to give him a call at the Randolph stables, and he will fit them out to their satisfaction. He also runs the “bus” to the depot, and will carry passengers to any part of the city. Orders for the ‘bus may be left at either hotel.
The Eagle is publishing a history of the organization, marches &c., of the 84th regiment from the pen of Lieut. L. A. Simmons. It is written in good style and will no doubt make an interesting feature in that paper.
→ Messrs. Hagerty & McIntosh, at the old and well-known livery stable on the south side of the square, have on hand at all times, good horses and nice carriages and buggies which they hire at reasonable rates. Their horses are fast, gentle and kind.