It rained hard all last night, but General Polk's tent proved itself a good one. We have prayers both morning and evening, by Dr Quintard, together with singing, in which General Polk joins with much zeal. Colonel Gale, who is son-in-law and volunteer aide-de-camp to General Polk, has placed his negro Aaron and a mare at my disposal during my stay.
General Polk explained to me, from a plan, the battle of Murfreesborough. He claimed that the Confederates had only 30,000 troops, including Breckenridge's division, which was not engaged on the first day. He put the Confederate loss at 10,000 men, and that of the Yankees at 19,000. With regard to the battle of Shiloh,* he said that Beauregard's order to retire was most unfortunate, as the gunboats were doing no real harm, and if they (the Confederates) had held on, nothing could have saved the Federals from capture or destruction. The misfortune of Albert Johnston's death, together with the fact of Beauregard's illness and his not being present at that particular spot, were the causes of this battle not being a more complete victory. Ever since I landed in America, I had heard of the exploits of an Englishman called Colonel St Leger Grenfell, who is now Inspector-General of Cavalry to Bragg's army. This afternoon I made his acquaintance, and I consider him one of the most extraordinary characters I ever met. Although he is a member of a well-known English family, he seems to have devoted his whole life to the exciting career of a soldier of fortune. He told me that in early life he had served three years in a French lancer regiment, and had risen from a private to be a sous-lieutenant. He afterwards became a sort of consular agent at Tangier, under old Mr Drummond Hay. Having acquired a perfect knowledge of Arabic, he entered the service of Abd-el-Kader, and under that renowned chief he fought the French for four years and a half. At another time of his life he fitted out a yacht, and carried on a private war with the Riff pirates. He was brigade-major in the Turkish contingent during the Crimean war, and had some employment in the Indian mutiny. He has also been engaged in war in Buenos Ayres and the South American republics. At an early period of the present troubles he ran the blockade and joined the Confederates. He was adjutant-general and right-hand man to the celebrated John Morgan for eight months. Even in this army, which abounds with foolhardy and desperate characters, he has acquired the admiration of all ranks by his reckless daring and gallantry in the field. Both Generals Polk and Bragg spoke to me of him as a most excellent and useful officer, besides being a man who never lost an opportunity of trying to throw his life away. He is just the sort of man to succeed in this army, and among the soldiers his fame for bravery has outweighed his unpopularity as a rigid disciplinarian. He is the terror of all absentees, stragglers, and deserters, and of all commanding officers who are unable to produce for his inspection the number of horses they have been drawing forage for. He looks about forty-five, but in reality he is fifty-six. He is rather tall, thin, very wiry and active, with a jovial English expression of countenance ; but his eyes have a wild, roving look, which is common amongst the Arabs. When he came to me he was dressed in an English staff blue coat, and he had a red cavalry forage-cap, which latter, General Polk told me, he always wore in action, so making himself more conspicuous. He talked to me much about John Morgan, whose marriage he had tried to avert, and of which he spoke with much sorrow. He declared that Morgan was enervated by matrimony, and would never be the same man as he was. He said that in one of the celebrated telegraph tappings in Kentucky, Morgan, the operator, and himself, were seated for twelve hours on a clay-bank during a violent storm, but the interest was so intense, that the time passed like three hours* General Polk's son, a young artillery lieutenant, told me this evening that “Stonewall Jackson” was a professor at the military school at Lexington, in which he was a cadet. “Old Jack” was considered a persevering but rather dull master, and was often made a butt of by cheeky cadets, whose great ambition it was to irritate him, but, however insolent they were, he never took the slightest notice of their impertinence at the time, although he always had them punished for it afterwards. At the outbreak of the war, he was called upon by the cadets to make a speech, and these were his words: “Soldiers make short speeches: be slow to draw the sword in civil strife, but when you draw it, throw away the scabbard.” Young Polk says that the enthusiasm created by this speech of old Jack's was beyond description.
1 Called Pittsburg Landing and Corinth.
2 This was the occasion, when they telegraphed such a quantity of nonsense to the Yankee general, receiving valuable information in return, and such necessary stores by train as Morgan was in need of.
SOURCE: Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle, Three Months in the Southern States: April-June, 1863, p. 148