Monday, July 29, 2013

Diary of Alexander G. Downing: Monday, October 6, 1862

We started this morning at daylight and crowded the rebels very hard all day, capturing their trains and some of their artillery — ammunition, arms and caissons. I never saw such a stampede in all my life. They drove their wagons and artillery through the timber, over fallen trees, two and three abreast, wiggling through the standing timber as best they could with every teamster for himself. Some of the artillery men took the cannon off the running gears, and throwing them into gullies, covered them with leaves. Everything imaginable was strewn along the road—tents, bake ovens, corn meal, fresh beef and a great many other things; some of their supplies they burned up, to keep from falling into our hands. We captured some of General Price's headquarters' supplies, among such a buffalo robe which the men tore up for souvenirs.1

1 During that day's march I saw, I think, the meanest man in the Union army. We had just started up a long, steep hill when I noticed one of our men coming out of a one-room log hut by the roadside. As he passed us, with an oath, he growled that he had gone into the hut to get something to eat, but all he could find was a half-bushel bag of corn meal. This the woman, who by the way had the courage to stay with her home, begged him not to take, as it was all the food she had, but he took it. Then when about halfway up the hill, the bag of meal, in addition to his accouterments, becoming too heavy, he with another oath, dumped half the meal out on the ground and ran on to catch up with his command. For such a man I cannot find words to express my contempt. — A. G. D.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 74

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