Thursday, December 22, 2016

Diary of Luman Harris Tenney: Saturday, October 18, 1862

Lay about two or three hours, then went into camp on the rise near the spring. Marks of a large rebel camp. At noon orders came for the Capt. to go with 50 men to Bentonville, to learn locality and number of the enemy. I went. Started about dusk. Called at a house to know distance. Two or three girls. Looked like a cousin. Shattuck with advance guard two miles ahead. Boys said he was a coward, rode way behind the men. Halted and fed. Heard artillery moving. Capt. ordered me to take four men and guide and learn what it was. It sounded as though it were moving from the southwest. After going a mile or two, we were halted by a picket, close at hand. Ordered one to advance, dismount, and give the countersign. Dared not risk it. Asked who they were. “Federals.” Asked who we were. “Federals.” “Advance then.” What division did they belong to? Gen. Heron's. Never heard of him. What brigade? Would not tell. Ordered them to tell or would march my battalion on them. Didn't care a damn, advance or he would fire. Advanced horseback, a couple of rods. Ordered to dismount or he would shoot. Couldn't see it and shied behind a tree. Told him to listen and I would give the countersign — “Allen.” “What! Allen-never! that won't do here.” Did you understand it, “Allen”? Bang, bang, bang, bang. Boys wheeled and ran. I had sent two back to report to the captain. I wheeled and got behind another tree a rod back. Cocked my revolver and fired once, then wheeled and ran. The bullets followed mighty thick. Met the command and reported the facts. One of the boy's horses was shot in the leg and abandoned. Capt. turned back and went back the same road to camp. Capt. discovered he had given me the “parole” instead of countersign, a mistake that would not happen again for an age, but one that might have caused a great deal of trouble. Started for Bentonville on another road. Slept two hours. N. had cautioned me to be very careful and not approach any force but to learn from families. Proved to be our men — Heron's.

SOURCE: Frances Andrews Tenney, War Diary Of Luman Harris Tenney, p. 37-8

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