October 28, 1865

Macomb Eagle

HISTORY OF THE 84TH REGI-
MENT ILL. VOLS.

BY L. A. SIMMONS.

[CONTINUED.]

            On the evening of September 28th, about 11 o’clock the enemy made their first dash or charge upon our formidable fortifications. For half an hour there was a sharp clatter of musketry, interspersed with the constant boom of heavy artillery; but it turned out to be only a reconnoisance in favor of a movement to ascertain the strength of our lines; however as soon as the single dash was made, the enemy fell back to their former position, and all again became quiet upon the picket line.

On the 29th our arrangement was effected with the enemy in regard to our wounded left upon the battle field, and in field hospitals. Gen. Bragg after demanding an immediate surrender of the city, had agreed to permit two hundred of our Ambulances to pass through his lines to the hospitals, near Crawfish Springs, to bring in all our wounded who were then paroled. Accordingly the ambulance train, accompanied by a Regiment, passed through our lines and was met, by a regiment or more of the enemy half way between the two armies. The Regiment was supplied with a new set of drivers, from the rebel works, and went forward to the Hospitals without the attendance of a man from the Federal army. Slowly the day passed by and night came on, and still the train did not return. Many considered it entirely lost, and severely censured Gen. Rosecrans for sending it in this way into the hands of an enemy, who had not on all occasions proved entirely trustworthy or honorable. But about midnight the train began to come in, and before morning some six or seven hundred of our noble boys were quietly resting upon cots and mattresses, receiving every attention that skillful Surgeons and kind nurses could bestow. They had suffered terribly while in the hands of the enemy. But little attention was paid to their wounds, and day after day they were furnished with no other article of diet but a sort of gruel, made of sour and musty corn meal; occasionally, they had beef soup and with such fare suffering as they were, nearly all were reduced in flesh and strength, so that it was very difficult to recruit them. When our ambulances reached the Hospitals the wounded men were told to get into them, and the prospect of returning to their friends, of receiving care, attention and sympathy and diet that was palatable and invigorating, roused them from their beds of straw and helped them to drag their amanciated bodies to the ambulances. Men with broken limbs assisted each other, and under the excitement nearly all that remained alive under the cruel treatment they had received as prisoners, succeeded in getting into the ambulances. As soon as they reached our lines they were furnished with food and stimulants, and when finally they reached our hospitals every attention was bestowed upon them; but with many, alas! it was too late. Our soldiers who escorted the train, stated that the wounded men as they passed into our lines would ask the first soldier he saw for ‘hard tack,’ and many a poor fellow lay and nibbled upon one for an hour as the train was coming in, declaring it the sweetest food he had ever tasted. Many of our severely wounded, left in the hands of the rebels, had died before our ambulances went out, and a large proportion of those brought in were too much amaciated ever to recover. Perhaps not one out of twenty of the severely wounded survived.

On the 30th of September our brigade was removed from the front line, which it had occupied and constantly worked upon since the night of the 21st, to a position in the edge or outskirts of the city; and from this time the details to work on the fortifications were much lighter, and the men had an opportunity for rest and recreation. On the same day Adjt. Charles E. Waters resigned, having been severely afflicted with “synovetis,” since about the first of February, and being now entirely disabled for any kind of duty in the army. Towards evening a heavy rain set in, (the first that had fallen since the 16th of August,) and continued nearly every day or night for about a month. The weather became cool and the nights chilly and uncomfortable as soon as the rainy season set in, and our men began speedily to build winter quarters. At first materials were quite plenty, for but little restriction was placed over the men, and they first took down the board fences in the city, next to the barns, sheds, stables and outbuildings, and before all could procure lumber most of the unoccupied houses were torn down and converted into shantees of every conceivable description. This destruction of property was necessary, from the fact that our men were scantily supplied with blankets; but few could be procured, and lacking blankets, the men must have huts and houses to shelter them from the pitiless rain, and the pinching cold and chilliness of the nights.

On the 4th of October our regiment was sent out to guard a forage train, and crossing the Tennessee river went up on the opposite side about thirty miles before they were able to find corn to load it. Along Sails Creek they found a small quantity, which they secured, and returned on the 6th to Chattanooga. Three weeks later not a load of forage could be found within fifty miles of Chattanooga on the north side of the Tennessee.

On the 5th, the enemy having got some of their heavy batteries into position on the top and side of Lookout Mountain, opened upon our line south of the city, and threw an occasional shot far above our works, and even into the midst of the besieged army. But the guns were at such an elevation and the distance so great, that there was no certainty in their firing, and very little damage was done, though the artillery practice was continued for weeks.

About this time Gen. Hooker arrived at Bridgeport, with the 11th and 12th Army Corps, numbering about twelve or fifteen thousand men, and commenced moving up the Tennessee valley toward Lookout Mountain. – Day after day we had reports of his movements, and were daily expecting he would make an attack in that quarter, but the reports were almost groundless; it was not until two weeks afterward that he came through the pass at Whiteside and took a position in front of Lookout, which about this time took the name of Manhatchie.

The old army of the Cumberland was now being reorganized. The 20th and 21st corps were united with the 4th and 14th, and Gen. Crittenden and McCook being relieved of their commands, started for Indianapolis, where they were to have an investigation of their allayed misconduct at Chickamauga. The reorganization caused many regiments to move to the right and left, along the line but it was our good fortune to retain our position. The commands of both divisions and brigades remained the same; but the 6th Regiment Ohio Vols. was transferred from our brigade to Gen. Wood’s division, and he 59th, 75th and 80th Ill. Vols., and the 9th and 30th Ind. Vols., were incorporated into the third brigade. – Our position was now in the 3d Brigade, 1st Division, 34th Army Corps.

About the 10th of October we first began to realize that our rations were growing scant. Our division was much more fortunate than most others when the seige began; for as each division had its separate commissary, and ours had been most energetic in bringing forward supplies from Bridgeport; we had more than 40,000 rations on hand when the enemy, by taking possession of Lookout Mountain, closed our direct route to Bridgeport, the base of supplies. Hence, though a considerable part of the army was on half rations almost from the outset, we were not reduced to this extremity until all the supplies on hand were turned in to the post commissary, and all were made to share alike. As early as the 12th, scant half rations were issued, and this was all that could possibly be obtained, for all our supplies were now brought over Waldin’s Ridge by a circuitous route, from Stevenson, Alabama. The enemy had gradually extended their line northward from the western slope of Lookout, until they established an outpost on the river at the Narrows, about four miles north west of Chattanooga. The only route now open to our supply trains was, after crossing the river at Chattanooga, to go about twelve miles nearly due north up the river bottom to Poe’s Tavern, then ascend Waldin’s Ridge, and crossing directly over it to the north west come into the Sequatchie valley at Dunlap; then pass down this valley to the mouth of Battle Creek, and from thence take a direct route to Stevenson, passing about three or four miles to the north of Bridgeport. Thus we had to bring all our supplies over one of the highest and steepest ridges of the Cumberland Mountains, and along the Sequatchie and Tennessee valleys, which the rains had rendered almost impassible, the distance of ninety miles, when in a direct line it was only thirty seven miles from Stevenson to Chattanooga. All the wagon trains of our army were now kept constantly upon the road; but it took a train from fourteen to twenty days to go to and return loaded from Stevenson. – Once an attempt was made to run a section of our division train through the Narrows, on a more direct line, but the enemy’s sharpshooters at the Narrows nearly destroyed it. They let the whole train come quietly into the pass between the river and the mountain, and then commenced shooting down the mules near the front and rear, so that the road was completely blocked at both ends. One driver was killed and three were wounded before they could escape; and probably one forth of the mules of the entire train were shot down before the drivers could cut them loose from the wagons and bring them out. The driver killed was Monroe Harland, of Co. B, 84th Ill. Vols., one of the best soldiers of the regiment, a young man of excellent habits, and fine abilities, and highly respected by his own company and all who knew him. This route being effectually closed, we had the only one above mentioned, and this was daily becoming more difficult, for the rain still continued, and the heavy army wagons cut the roads to pieces whenever they passed. Indeed a good portion of the top of Waldin’s Ridge, as well as the whole breadth of Seqautchie valley became a broad road; for new roads were daily cut or aid out, and trains, to avoid impassable places, turned to the right and left, until the country for miles was marked with wagon tracks. As early as the 14th of October, the whole force hemmed in at Chattanooga, were reduced to less than half rations of pork, hard tack, sugar and coffee, and there were the only articles of diet that could be furnished. Our noble Colonel had directed the writer to buy several boxes of hard bread before rations became so scarce, and these he now ordered issued, and they not a little helped to piece out our scanty allowance. Probably but few men of the regiment ever knew aught of this generous conduct on his part, and we are now most happy to give him publicly the credit he so justly deserved. But the scarcity of rations was not our only source of annoyance. The rebels were constantly sending down rafts of logs to break into our pontoon bridges across the river, and thus cut off our only avenue of supplies. They crossed a large cavalry force both above and below the city, and were constantly harrassing and attacking our trains. The weather was getting now quite cold, and though no wood had been wasted, we had burned up every loose stick of timber, board and log in and about town, and were gradually sweeping off every tree and shrub to and even beyond our picket line. By the 20th rations were still more pinched and scanty, and often when a wagon train came in from Stevenson, a crowd of soldiers were seen to assemble at the storehouse, to pick up every piece of cracker as large as a pea, that dropped while the train was being unloaded, and even hold their hats under the end of the wagon bed to catch the still smaller crumbs that chanced to fall. Yet did they talk of surrender or of being driven from their works? Never. They were resolved to hold the position, and though suffering severely, there was very little repining; and, although Gen. Bragg several times demanded an immediate surrender, they scouted the proposition, and ridiculed the idea of his forcing the remnant of the army of the Cumberland from Chattanooga. The spirit of the army was still unbroken, their resolution unshaken, though famine was now staring them in the face. On the 20th the news was received that Gen. Grant had taken command of the Department, and was already at Nashville. This was hailed with shouts and cheers, long, loud and jubilant. “Gen. Grant always has men enough,” says one. “He’ll hoist Old Bragg off of Lookout,” adds another. “He’ll open a road to Bridgeport, and give us full rations,” says a third hungry soldier; and little else was thought of or talked about during the day. On the same day Gen. Rosecrans started for the North, leaving Gen. Thomas in command of the besieged city.

On the 23d of October, Gen. Grant arrived at Chattanooga, and took command of the army. It was now evident to all that unless some energetic movement was promptly made within a few days, the place with all, its forts and immense triple lines of fortifications, must fall into the hands of the enemy. Gen. Hooker was within seven or eight miles of us; but the enemy were holding a broad, deep river, and a strongly fortified mountain ridge between his valiant little army, and ours reduced first by battle, and since by disease, contracted by reason of scant rations, and a total lack of vegetable diet. Our wagon trains constantly dragged through the deep mud and over mountain ranges were now completely worn out, and hundreds of mules had died all along the road to Stevenson. It is said that enough were killed upon this circuitous route before mentioned, to have made a single line of carcasses touching each other from Chattanooga to Stevenson, but we this this estimate quite too large. It is certain, however, that our means of bringing forward supplies, was greatly lessened and constantly diminishing – and that the army was in imminent danger of being forced from its position by starvation, when Gen. Grant arrived.

The next day our Division, now the 1st, and still commanded by General Palmer, received the order to be ready to march at 2 o’clock A. M. on the morning of the 25th, and before dark all the transportation belonging to the Division was in readiness to cross the river as soon as it was dark. Rations and ammunition were drawn and issued to the men, and all was in readiness to strike tents and leave Chattanooga, as soon as “Reveille” was sounded in the morning.

But before we bid adieu to the beleagurered city, the monotony of camp life was broken by the news of the Ohio election. We had not been able to get newspapers for several days, but this evening they come, containing almost full returns from the election, in which every soldier in the Department had taken an interest, and showed that Brough was elected over Vallandigham, by at least 60,000 majority. As soon as the news was received a loud, long ringing cheer, sounded from one extremity, of camp to the other, along the line of fortifications from the River above to the River below the City, and cheer succeeded cheer for hours; proving most conclusively the depth, fervor and intensity of the joy that dwelt in the hearts of all true soldiers. The rebels got the idea that we were receiving reinforcements; but we had something better than that – a victory had been won – a victory more decisive of the fate of the rebellion than any achieved upon the bloody battle field. Yes, the election extinguished the last lingering hope in the minds of the rebels, that the North was divided and that they would receive assistance from the Northwest. The result of this election proved the North no longer distracted and divided people, but united indissolubly for the suppression of the rebellion, by force of arms. Hence, the result was of more consequence than even the fall of Vicksburg; its moral effect a hundred fold greater.

——————–

Withdrawal of Mr. Venable.

A “Feeler” for Prairie City.

            The Journal, last week, contained the card of Mr. Venable, withdrawing from the canvass, as Republican candidate for School Superintendent of this county. It will be remembered this gentleman was nominated in the Republican County Convention, and his withdrawal at this late day in the canvass, smacks of something “out of fix,” so far as their ticket is concerned. It is generally known, we believe, that in the Republican County Convention which put forth the Republican Ticket in this county, that there was some little confusion, as well as disaffection in regard to who should have the nominations for certain offices; and the division of contemplated spoils, infused enough stubborness into that body, to govern the action of the Convention just to suit the notions of certain Republican leaders who live in and about Macomb. We hardly think Mr. Venable was particularly anxious to secure the nomination for School Superintendent; indeed, we might be doing him no more than justice to say that he accepted the nomination only because it was given him. And, now, that he should withdraw under these circumstances, just on the eve of the election, it shows clearly enough to those who will take the trouble to enquire into the facts of the case, that it was found really necessary that he should be withdrawn, and that Prairie City be appeased, if possible, by giving her the name of Prof. Branch upon the ticket. We have no acquaintance with the people of Prairie City, nor with Prof. Branch, but we venture to say that such honey-fuggling in order to catch votes up that way, would be about as bitter a dose for them to swallow as could be manufactured in the city of Macomb. After the leaders have done all in their power to whip the people of Prairie City in Convention, and now, finding that that Township is not willing to “give it up so, Mr. Brown,” these wiseacres about Macomb, concluded that “sweetmeats” and “pea nuts” are necessary in order to settle the disaffection existing thereabouts Any one with a thimble full of brains can easily discover the whole up shot of the business, and we have a better opinion of the independence and manliness of the people in that portion of our county, than to suppose that they can be bought, used and sold in the political market, by any such clap trap and folderol. – Prof. Branch, it will be remembered, was a candidate for the nomination of School Superintendent before the Convention, and his claims were presented by a majority of the delegates from Prairie City Township. It is a fact well known that his claims – as well as the wishes of the people of said Township – were totally ignored on that occasion. But, finding that Prairie City contained too much metal to back down, and came to terms, these Macomb leaders now resort to the very last subterfuge, that of buying their good will by giving them the name of Prof. Branch upon the ticket for School Superintendent. – And this is the way they propose to do the business; this is the modus operandi by which they hope to make the people of Prairie City “come to Limerick.” We venture the assertion, without fear of contradiction that if the leading Republicans had thought they stood a ghost of a chance in the race, they never would have went into the “sugar plum” business with Prairie City.

——————–

            Forcing Soldiers Off. – When the Republican County Convention nominated one or two private soldiers upon their ticket, they made considerable ado over it, and claimed it as an evidence that they were the really true and loyal party, and that they felt it a duty they owed the soldier to give a portion of the offices to those who had served their country in the field. The whole thing seems to have been done entirely for effect, and their patriotism on that point seems already to be fast exploding. For three weeks they have been laboring zealously to choke off of the track the two only private soldiers who were nominated upon their ticket, and their efforts have been successful in one instance. Whether they will succeed in forcing the other private soldier off their ticket, remains to be seen. The soldier throughout the county who are being appealed to, to vote that ticket, will readily discover the hypocrisy of the dodge.

——————–

            → The Republicans in McDonough county have already got themselves into a “pretty kettle of fish.” They must have been taking physic, judging from the severe manner they have been “worked.” They are really in a dangerous predicament, and unless they take care of themselves, they will be in a bad way on the 7th of November. They are now “drawing” off and “drawing” on, and will doubtless draw down on the 7th of next month. We predict for them a ga-lorious failure. They have got the wrong sow by the ear. Nigger won’t win in this race, and those who claim to be the peculiar champions of that class, should go further South, or emigrate to Africa. When it comes to the test, there will be found but few Republicans in McDonough county who will vote with a party that favors social and political equality with the negro. That is the only live issue and leading republicans dare not deny it. The facts are against them. Therefore, those who are honestly opposed to negro suffrage and negro equality, should vote for me WHO THEY KNOW are opposed to these nefarious dogmas. The Democratic candidates are alone in this race against negro suffrage and negro equality. The Republican candidates, where they have spoken out, have unequivocally declared in favor of these political heresies. They now stand pledged, every one of them in this county, to the principle of negro suffrage. If you are opposed to such privileges being granted to negroes, do not fail to assert your rights at the ballot box, and vote for white men, and WHITE MEN ONLY, to run the machinery of government.

——————–

            Thanks. – Our thanks are due Joseph Neff, of Bushnell, for a gallon jar of excellent Sorghum molasses – the best we have ever seen – being clear as strained honey, and very palatable.

——————–

            The weather has been quite cool in this region for the past few days, and old Jack Frost has paid us several visits. Everybody should look well to their flues and chimneys, to prevent accidents from fire.

——————–

            “But before we bid adieu to the beleagurered city, the monotony of camp life was broken by the news of the Ohio election. We had not been able to get newspapers for several days, but this evening they come, containing almost full returns from the election, in which every soldier in the Department had taken an interest, and showed that Brough was elected over Vallandigham, by at least 60,000 majority. As soon as the news was received a loud, long ringing cheer, sounded from one extremity, of camp to the other, along the line of fortifications from the River above to the River below the City, and cheer succeeded cheer for hours; proving most conclusively the depth, fervor and intensity of the joy that dwelt in the hearts of all true soldiers. The rebels got the idea that we were receiving reinforcements; but we had something better than that – a victory had been won – a victory more decisive of the fate of the rebellion than any achieved upon the bloody battle field. Yes, the election extinguished the last lingering hope in the minds of the rebels, that the North was divided and that they would receive assistance from the Northwest. The result of this election proved the North no longer distracted and divided people, but united indissolubly for the suppression of the rebellion, by force of arms. Hence, the result was of more consequence than even the fall of Vicksburg; its moral effect a hundred fold greater.” – Simmons’ History of the 84th, October 28th.

The above seems to form a part of the History of the 84th, as written by Mr. Simmons, but, for the life of us, we cannot see that it has any particular connection with that gallant Regiment. For the first time, we are now to understand that Ohio politics are to be dragged into this history, although it does not seem that such questions really belong to the History of the 84th. Persons who read this History, read it not for politics, but to learn as near as possible, the part that the 84th took in subduing the rebellion. Were it not on the eve of the election, (and were he not a candidate,) we are quite certain he – the aforesaid Mr. Simmons – would not have afforded our readers so much light on the subject of Ohio politics. More than this, we desire now to say, that we understood from a reliable source three weeks ago, that Mr. Simmons was boasting about the town that he intended to wedge into his History a “bomshell” on politics. The above, we presume, is his Torpedo, but if it has exploded, we know of no one who has been seriously hurt by it. We desire to publish the History of the 84th, but in doing so, we much prefer that the writer thereof should confine himself to military operations, and not to politics in the State of Ohio, or the predilictions of the ‘Dutch in Holland.’ These are subjects which hardly belong to it. We shall, however, not garble any part of the “history,” but will publish it just as he writes it; and in the event that he undertakes to “electioneer” for himself, or make an unnecessary display in order to catch votes, we shall attend to him in a different way. We will take the liberty of citicising his writings, in our columns, just the same as we would the writings of any other ‘historian.’ We desire that he shall stick to his text, and when he fails to do so, we will be on hand to show him that “the way of the transgressor is hard.”

It will be observed that Mr. Simmons says that the soldiers “rejoiced long and loud” upon the receipt of the news that Brough had beaten Vallandigham in Ohio by 60,000 majority. Well, so far as this is is concerned, we know no man who should regret the defeat of Vallandigham as much as Mr. Simmons himself, as they both, from what we can learn, occupied about the same position in 1861.

If the soldiers don’t like the principles advocated by Vallandigham, they certainly will object to the same doctrine, when promulgated by Mr. Simmons at Middletown, and they will, doubtless, look around considerably before voting for Simmons. Now, we know but little about Mr. Vallandigham; but from what we have seen in the “loyal” papers, he was “opposed to the war, and made speeches against it.” – The loyal Journal last week, says Mr. Simmons – the immaculate – “opposed the WAR, and made speeches against it.” – From this it will be seen, that both Simmons and Vallandigham did occupy the same position, and did actually advocate the same principles. And yet Mr. Simmons now says the soldiers at Chattanooga rejoiced “long and loud” upon the receipt of the news of the defeat of Vallandigham. If this be true, the soldiers will certainly “rejoice long and loud” upon the receipt of the news of Simmons defeat. What is “sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.” We hope the soldiers who don’t like Vallandigham, will vote against his right hand bower, who is ow the LOYAL candidate for Judge in this county.

——————–

The Whitewashed Man.

The Journal Caves in on Mr. Simmons.

            The whitewashing process was largely indulged in by the Journal last week, in order to smear over and cover up the black spots and dingy cobwebs in the political character of Mr. Simmons, the Republican candidate for County Judge. The Journal “speaks out in meetin’,” and says that at one time Mr. Simmons did “oppose the war, and speak against it.” We admire the candor of the Journal in thus acknowledging the chameleon-like rapidity by which the Republican party can change the spots upon the leopard’s back; and when there seems to be spots a little too dark for party expediency, it must be a very pleasant business, to engage in the laudable enterprise of whitewashing the most damaging traits. The Journal man seems to be a very expert hand with the white wash brush, and we are led irresistably to the conclusion, that he must have had some little experience in that profession. He, however, fails to retract any portion of the article which appeared in his editorial columns in 1861, in relation to Mr. Simmons, his Middleton speech, and Tinsley’s negro engineer, and therefore, we presume, the charges therein made, against the Republican candidate for Judge, are to be considered as fully affirmed in the year of our Lord, 1865, and by the same paper which now yields to him (Simmons) is support. This, indeed, must be very humiliating to the Journal man, as he is said to be a very consciencious (?) and independent (?) sort of fellow, and who, if report be true, cannot swallow his own pent up spleen without considerable compunction of conscience.

He may wash, he may wipe, he may rub,
But Simmons will be Simmons, and it’s no use to scrub.

We trust our neighbor will pursue his chosen avocation of “whitewashing.” – From the signs of the times there seems to be a fine field of labor before him. He will have but few idle moments if he undertakes to make a good job of the Simmons-Middletown negro Engineer embroglio. It will prove rather unprofitable employment on the 7th of November.

——————–

            Military. – The 17th Illinois regiment at Lawrence, Kansas, positively refused on the 24th ult, to obey an order to cross the Plains, and manifested quite a disposition to fight it out on that line. Troops were sent for to Leavenworth, and upon their arrival, by the use of some strategy, the camp of the mutineers was surrounded, and they were taken in. The greater portion of them subsequently agreed to obey orders, but about forty, obstinate still, refused and were marched to the guardhouse.

——————–

            New Marble Hall. – Messrs. Worden & Jackson have recently opened a Marble Hall, in the Campbell Corner, where they are prepared to execute the very best and latest styles of Grave and Ornamental Tomb Stones. Their stock of Marble is now complete, and those who may wish anything in their line, should call and examine their work.

——————–

            Lost. – On Monday afternoon, between the Square and the Parkinson farm, a large Saddle Blanket – color, grayish white – and marked “U.S.” The finder will be suitably rewarded by returning it to F.O. Lipe or N. Abbott.

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