HISTORY OF THE 84TH REGI-
MENT ILL. VOLS.
By L. A. Simmons.
On the morning of October 1, 1862, the whole army encamped in and around Louisville, under command of Gen. Buell, started in pursuit of Gen. Bragg, who, it was ascertained, had commenced falling back towards Danville. The fourth Division (General Smith commanding), to which we were attached, with several others, moved out on the Bardstown pike. We had marched out but a few miles before we began to hear the boom of cannon a few miles in front of us – and being unaccustomed to military affairs, were hourly looking for an engagement. On the morning of October 8th, we had scarcely started from our bivouac on the Rolling Fork of Salt River, when the distant thunder of artillery announced that a battle had begun, a few miles to the east of us, near Perryville. The attack had been made upon McCook’s and Woods Divisions and the 4th Division (Gen. Smiths) and others which had started out on the same Pike, were rapidly hurried forward. About noon the lines of battle were formed on our right and and left, we were each moment expecting that the engagement would become general. Such, however, was not Gen. Bragg’s design, and he seemed to have his own way during the campaign. There was a smart skirmish in our front toward sunset, but we were not destined yet to enter into a general engagement. During the night, Bragg having severely handled McCook’s Division, again continued his retreat, and in the morning we pursued, moving in line of battle all day; the slowest and most tiresome manner of marching, and especially wearisome when the impression is forced upon the minds of all, as in this instance, that our commanders had been out-generalled. On the morning of the 10h we turned a little to the left and took the road from Perryville toward Danville, and at night, were sent out on Picket, where the enemy were directly in front, and sent back a shell or two, to notify us that they would contest our further advance that evening. It is related that an officer above the rank of Captain, and a Sergeant of Regiment, came in [fold] shelter behind the same stump, when the shells were heard in the air; but for this story we can not vouch. It is certain that the night was rainy and disagreeable, and that the rain poured down most mercilessly all the next day, while we held the same position, three miles from Danville. The 12th of October, is a day well remembered by all the Regiment; as the day we marched twelve or fourteen miles out and back again. After another day’s delay we marched through Danville, and encamped near Stanford, laid down weary at 9 o’clock in the evening, to be roused up at 12 o’clock and marched till morning, when there was a brief skirmish near Crab Orchard. We rested two hours, then marched on quite steadily all day, passing through Crab Orchard about two o’clock, and went on picket again at night. We were thinking this rather severe, but the next morning we were still more unkindly handled, for we were not recalled from picket until the column was in motion and had to march till near mid-day, before any opportunity was given to get breakfast. In the vicinity of Danville, we had passed through a very fine farming country, but now we were entering upon the rough hilly section along Rock Castle River, and here the enemy began to give us serious annoyance, by felling trees across the roads, so that the column could proceed but slowly. On the 17th we crossed Rock Castle River, and ascended when then seemed quite a mountain, known as “Wild Cat.” The ascent was about three miles, and as brisk a skirmish was kept up while we toiled toward the summit, as had been through the rough country, for two days previous. The same evening we went down the ridge on the opposite side; almost, it was said, into an ambuscade – came back to the summit, and after dark, were sent back, nearly to the place we had bivouacked the night before, to guard the ammunition trains. We now began to really suffer from scant rations, and for the ensuing twenty days, this was the constant complaint. On the 19th we advanced upon a road through the hills, appropriately named the “Winding Blades” to Nelsons Cross Roads, where we rested for the night, having for our supper nothing but a small ration of poor beef, without salt – not even a cracker or cup of coffee. From this point, the Regiment reached out toward Manchester sixteen of seventeen miles and back the same day, without a particle of food or a cup of coffee, until they returned late in the evening. Of course under such privations and hardships as these, our Regiment was rapidly reduced in numbers. Veterans might and did endure it much better, but it decimated the ranks of every new regiment on the campaign. From Nelson’s Cross Roads, after resting a day, we returned to Rockcastle River – rested there two days and then came back to Mt. Vernon. We were now convinced that the campaign was closed, that the pursuit of Gen. Bragg was abandoned, that he had reached Cumberland Gap, with the vast stores he had “foraged” in Kentucky. From Mt. Vernon we took the road to Somerset, and encamped the first night at Buck Creek. Early in the evening a cold, chilly rain set in, and we made the best shelter we could of brush and our single blankets, and built large fires, but could not make ourselves comfortable. Before 10 o’clock a snow-storm set in, and by daylight, at least a foot of snow had fallen. Our men were scantily clothed, for the weather had been very warm for a few days after leaving Louisville, and finding themselves overloaded, they had thrown away all except one suit, and many were now nearly barefooted, and some had been so unfortunate as to have their blankets stolen by the older regiments of the Brigade. We paid them in kind, before their term was out. But, this terrible morning, and the march that day in snow, water, slush and mud to Somerset, we must despair of trying to portray its hardships to our readers. But, we talked of Valley Forge and old revolutionary times, swallowed a cup of coffee and a few bits of “hard tack,” and dragged on twelve tedious miles. The wind blew cold and fierce from the North West, as we bivouacked about two miles south of Somerset, and while bringing in our armful of cedar boughs to build a shelter for the night, we noticed as we had frequently during the day blood-stained footprints in the snow – blood from the sore and lacerated and almost frozen feet of the soldiers. The next day scores were sent to the Hospital, some to never return to us again, many so worn down by fatigue and exposure that it required months of nursing and care to render them again fit for duty in the ranks. But after a day’s rest, in which a few dozen pairs of shoes were procured, we pushed on toward Columbia, which we reached on the third day, passing on the second day the battlefield of Mill Springs, where the rebel General Zollicoffer fell nearly a year before. At Columbia we rested two days, then took the road to Glasgow, which we reached on the second day, having marched twenty four miles the first and sixteen the second. And here again a large number were sent to Hospital at Bowling Green, where many of them remained until the next Spring. At this point, Adt. [fold] forty men who had been left sick at Quincy and Louisville. Here too, our teams came up bringing our tents and camp equipage, and having been well supplied with blankets, shoes, and stockings we were able to protect ourselves from the weather, and sleep comfortably, although the nights were cold and frosty. On the 8th day of November; we marched from Glasgow toward Gallatin about 25 miles, on the 10th crossed the State line, on the 12th passed through Gallatin and and crossed the Cumberland River at Gallatin Landing, – on the 14th reached Silver Springs, when we remained nearly a week. On the 19th we passed by the Hermitage and from the road could see the residence and grave of the Hero, Sage and Patriot – the immortal Jackson. Each Regiment spread its banner to the breeze in passing and loud calls were made for music by the soldiers; but musicians about this time were, in army parlance “played out”. A few miles further on, we encamped near Stone River, and were within two miles of the 16th Regt. Ills. Vols, in which we had many old friends, with whom we talked over “old times,” affairs at home, our brief army experience, and for a few days enjoyed ourselves vastly. The next week we moved camp, seven or eight miles, and our wreck of a Regiment went into winter quarters about three miles South East of Nashville on the Murfreesboro Pike. Yes, we had now but the wreck of a Regiment, we had left them at Hospitals by the wayside, all along the route, and now had only about four hundred out of nine hundred that started from Quincy Ill, who were able for duty. From the effects of this campaign, through Kentucky, our Regiment never recovered. It deprived us of more men than any battle in which we were engaged, it swept many into an early grave, it ruined the health of scores, but those who did endure its hardships were inured to the rough life of a soldier, and were seldom afterwards sick, or sore from hard marching. There are many incidents of this Campaign that we would gladly introduce gladly introduce into this record; but fear it will prove too tedious, abridge and condense it as best we may. Before we close, we will endeavor to show the actual loss of the Regiment, from the time we left Louisville, until we encamped near Nashville. We will also state the loss of each company, in each camp, battle and campaign, and the whole number of casualties during the whole term of service. We cannot close this chapter without remarking that throughout this campaign, our honored Colonel did all in his power to lighten our burdens, to secure all the supplies that could be obtained, and by his constant cheerfulness and sympathy, won the affection and admiration of every man in the Regiment. He was to us not a severe and rigid commander, but seemed an elder brother enduring with us all our hardships and privations, never anxious on his own account, but always for his Regiment.
REORGANIZATION OF THE ARMY. THE MARCH
TO AND BATTLE OF STONE RIVER.
About the middle of November, Gen. Buell having made a complete failure of the Kentucky campaign, was superceded by Gen. Rosecrans. – This announcement was received with shouts of joy throughout the whole army, for Gen. Buell had become very unpopular; yes, hated and dispised by all under his command, and after the battle of Perryville, as long as he had command, the soldiers cursed him more frequently than they discharged their muskets toward the enemy. Almost as soon as Gen. Rosecrans took command he organized a Pioneer Brigade, which was made up of two or three men from each company of each regiment in each division. This took from our Regiment about twenty-five men, and many of them were among the best we had. Gen. Rosecrans immediately reorganized the army, and without changing position, we were informed that our Regiment was in the 3rd Brigade (Col. William Gross commanding) of the 2nd Division (Gen. Souey Smith commanding), of the 21st Army Corps, under command of Maj. Gen. Crittenden. The brass band which had been organized with the Regiment was no longer allowed to remain a regimental band, but was detailed as a brigade band. – We were very proud of our band, one of the finest in the army, and were sorry to lose it, but there was no alternative. At the same time the Quartermaster and Commissary departments, which had heretofore been under the control and directions of one class of officers, were entirely separated, and ever after continued distinct “institutions,” each having its own officers and employees. We remained in camp near Nashville from November 26th, 1862, to December 26th, 1862 during which period we were constantly drilling, when not employed on other duty. Every fifth day the Regiment was on picket, and almost as often was sent out to guard forage trains or on a scout. On one of these expeditions, we believe it was on the 29th of November, our Regiment came very near getting into an engagement [fold] retired in good order. The event was ever afterward jocosely referred to as the “Battle of Apple Jack.” While in this camp we were well supplied with the usual army rations and furnished with all the clothing we desired. The camp seemed to be in a healthy location, but the health of our Regiment instead of improving, as had been anticipated, almost daily grew worse. – The sick list constantly increased instead of diminished, which must be attributed to privations and exposure endured on the march thither. The effect continued long after the cause was removed, as the heat of summer though caused by the more nearly vertical rays of the sun is more intense days, and often weeks, after the rays begin to fall less vertically upon the earth.
About the 1st of December Gen. Palmer superceded Gen. Smith in command of the 2d Division, which was especially gratifying to our Regiment as Gen. Smith was far from being popular, and Gen. Palmer was from our own State.
On the 2d of December Gen. Rosecrans had a grand review of the whole army under his command – and our Regiment, for the first time, took part in this necessary, but very wearisome, mode of army inspection. Several times the enemy, who were encamped in force near Murfreesboro, were reported advancing upon Nashville, and everything was placed in readiness for an attack; but these reports originated from scouting parties feeling for our lines, as the enemy’s advance posts were in the neighborhood of Lavergne, fifteen miles from Nashville. The weather during this month continued generally pleasant, though we had some snow and frequent rains. Every few days during the month, before Christmas, the men unable to march were sent off to hospitals, and from this, as well as other preparations, we were well aware that a general movement would speedily take place. On the morning of December 26th all the sick and ailing were sent off to Convalescent Camp and the remainder directed to be ready to march at 6 a. m., each man to carry only his overcoat and one blanket, and all our tents and camp equipage was left behind. About 7 a. m. our whole division and several others, in brief General Crittenden’s corps, moved out on the Murfreesboro Pike. We started on this march with 25 officers and 337 men, the remainder being in convalescent camps and hospitals. It was currently reported that Gen. Thomas and Gen. McCook were moving on the Nolansville pike, which we eventually learned was correct. Gen. McCook’s position was on the right, Gen. Thomas’ in the center and Gen. Crittenden’s on the left. – Gen. Palmer’s division was in the latter, and the 3rd, in which we were, was near the center of the corps. – Some 10 miles from Nashville the enemy’s pickets were driven, and a sharp skirmish was continued till we came in sight of Lavergne, 15 miles from Nashville, when the enemy made a stand. The 2d division was not engaged, and our brigade halted for the night, on the left of the pike, about 3 miles from town. It had rained nearly all day and continued a good part of the night.
[To be Continued.]
Was the War a Failure.
“But the man who writes for the Eagle, and who claims to be the friend and champion of soldiers, insists that it was, for he objected to the sentence which was printed on our Fourth of July bills which declared that the war was NO FAILURE.” – Journal.
Not quite so fast. “The man who writes for the Eagle” never made any such objection, but we will say that after the money was raised for the dinner to the soldiers then a few persons conceived the idea of inserting that Muse for the purpose of insulting Democrats, and by this means induce them to withdraw from any participation in the matter, and then you would howl because they would not take part in it. If the Journal man will take the trouble to examine the list of contributions to the dinner he will find that the exclusive friends of the soldiers could only be induced to give from 25 cents to $5, while Democrats gave from $10 to $25. You poor canting hypocrites, do you think you can deceive soldiers by such tricks? And while we are on this subject we would ask if the Journal man did not charge the executive committee $28 for doing twelve dollars worth of work.
A Great Indian War Brewing.
All the accounts from the Plains are to the effect that before the coming on of winter we shall have on hand the greatest Indian war we have ever fought. Since the massacre of the Cheyennes by Colonel Chivington, the Indians have been breaking out into constant hostilities, and hardly a day has passed for two months past that the overland telegraph wires have not been cut systematically at points usually ten or fifteen miles apart. This is a new feature, and indicates a general action on the part of the Indian tribes.
“If the writer of the above extract was any friend to the soldiers, he would not be inventing base and mean fabrications to disparage the honorable record of one of its number. – Journal.
This is the first time that we have ever heard of “soldiers” making an honorable record by heavy discharges in the rear.
The Shows. – There will be two big shows in town within a week; the Equescurriculum on Saturday and the Union Combination on Tuesday. The shows will no doubt bring in a large crowd of persons who will want either groceries, queensware, paints, oils, or those celebrated Buell boots and shoes, all of which can be had at the mammoth grocery store of Watkins & Co.
→ Magie says he never was afflicted with that terrible disease and that his pants only shows that he was a victim of “misplaced confidence.”
→ Butter is selling at the low price of 40 cents per pound.
Pitts! Pitts!! Pitts!!! – Farmers in want of a Threshing Machine will find it to their interest to look at the Pitts machine at Wadham & Stowells’, N. W. corner square. They are also receiving a large lot of the Princeton Sorgo Mills that gave such universal satisfaction last Fall. Give them a call before you buy.
→ Those of our friends who may desire any article of jewelry, or who wish any repairing of such articles, would find it to their advantage to call upon Mr. J. H. Wilson, on the north side of the square. He is an experienced workman, always punctual, and his selection of American and Swiss watches, jewelry and notions, have been selected with an eye strictly to the interest of buyers.
Harvest Time Over. – Our farmers are bringing in their products more freely and we notice many of them go to S. J. Hopper’s New York Clothing Store and are highly pleased with prices and the goods they buy there. Hopper’s [?] his clothing and hats very low and has a fine trade.
The subscriber has about 40 barrels of Pickles which he will sell at 50 cents per hundred delivered, or he will pack them at the same price provided the barrels and salt is furnished. All orders promptly attended to.