Showing posts with label Burning Buildings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Burning Buildings. Show all posts

Monday, November 16, 2020

Dr. Seth Rogers to his daughter Dolly, January 27, 1863

January 27, 1863.

I appropriated the mess-room for operations and the officer's berths to receive the wounded. Fortunately we had thought to bring candles along, no others on board. . . . It was not more than one hour before we were busy dressing gun-shot wounds. One man was killed instantly by a ball through the heart and seven were wounded, one of whom will die. Braver men never lived. One man with two bullet holes through the large muscles of the shoulder and neck, brought off from the scene of action, two miles distant, two muskets and not a murmur escaped his lips. Another, Robert Sutton, with three wounds, one on the skull, which may cost him his life, would not report himself till compelled to do so by his officers. While dressing his wounds he quietly talked of what they had done and what they yet can do. Today I have had the Colonel order him to obey me. He is perfectly quiet and cool but takes this whole affair with the religious bravery of a man who realizes that freedom is sweeter than life. Yet another did not report at all, but kept all night on guard and perhaps I should not have known of his having a buck-shot in his shoulder, if some duty requiring a sound shoulder had not been required of him today. The object of our raid was to surprise and capture a company of rebel cavalry pickets, but, as is usual in this war, the enemy seemed to know the secret plan, and we only succeeded in making them skedaddle after a few rounds, and in bringing off five contrabands, a fine piano [for the Beaufort schoolhouse] and divers other things. We also had the satisfaction of burning the plantation house and out-buildings, in accordance with general orders, so they will not screen any more pickets. We steadily send shot and shell over the bluffs to prevent their picking off men from our boat, which is their habit. All this is very exciting and I enjoy it much. I just now volunteered to go up on a bluff and burn a picket house of rendezvous, but I believe the Colonel thinks it is unsafe for his friends to do what he himself is ever ready to do.

We reached St. Mary's before noon. I believe I have before stated that the town was partially burned by the Neptune, yet there were fifty or more houses remaining, including two large churches, a bank, etc. As we approached, the waving of white handkerchiefs began again, by the two maiden ladies (!!) residing in sight of the wharf. All the other houses were uninhabited. The women informed us that they were living entirely alone with their aged mother, that they were “Domingo ladies,” but had not owned slaves since England abolished slavery there.

Their antecedents have been so doubtful that the Colonel thought it best to search their house very carefully in spite of their protestations, and entreaties and talk of honor, etc. etc. permitted to join him and one of the captains in the search and found it very interesting though we discovered no rebels. Of course we had a guard around the house, a guard of such color as greatly to annoy the inmates. They told me that they had not seen pickets at all, and many other things which I knew to be false. But we politely left them, they avowing that they were ladies and thanking us for being gentlemen. As we were about to leave the wharf, bang, bang, bang, went secesh rifles from behind the houses and whistling went the balls over our heads. We were not long in sending shot and shell enough to protect our skirmishers and then the Colonel did what I begged him to do this morning — put nearly all the town in flames, save the house of these women and two or three at the windward of it. I wanted to take the women down to Fernandina and burn every house, but the Colonel thought it best to leave them, so there will still be a screen and sympathy left there for the rebels. But we left an immense fire and I trust the pickets will have to rescue the women from it.

SOURCE: Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume 43, October, 1909—June, 1910: February 1910. p. 350-1

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Major-General Philip H. Sheridan to Brevet Major-General Wesley Merritt, November 2, 1864

HEADQUARTERS MIDDLE MILITARY DIVISION,               
November 27, 1864.
Bvt. Maj. Gen. WESLEY MERRITT,
Commanding First Cavalry Division:

GENERAL: You are hereby directed to proceed to-morrow morning at 7 o'clock with the two brigades of your division now in camp to the east side of the Blue Ridge, via Ashby's Gap, and operate against the guerrillas in the district of country bounded on the south by the line of the Manassas Gap Railroad as far east as White Plains, on the east by the Bull Run range, on the west by the Shenandoah River, and on the north by the Potomac. This section has been the hotbed of lawless bands, who have, from time to time, depredated upon small parties on the line of army communications, on safe guards left at houses, and on all small parties of our troops. Their real object is plunder and highway robbery. To clear the country of these parties that are bringing destruction upon the innocent as well as their guilty supporters by their cowardly acts, you will consume and destroy all forage and subsistence, burn all barns and mills and their contents, and drive off all stock in the region the boundaries of which are above described. This order must be literally executed, bearing in mind, however, that no dwellings are to be burned and that no personal violence be offered to the citizens. The ultimate results of the guerrilla system of warfare is the total destruction of all private rights in the country occupied by such parties. This destruction may as well commence at once, and the responsibility of it must rest upon the authorities at Richmond, who have acknowledged the legitimacy of guerrilla bands. The injury done this army by them is very slight. The injury they have indirectly inflicted upon the people and upon the rebel army may be counted by millions. The Reserve Brigade of your division will move to Snickersville on the 29th. Snickersville should be your point of concentration, and the point from which you should operate in destroying toward the Potomac. Four days' subsistence will be taken by the command. Forage can be gathered from the country through which you pass. You will return to your present camp, via Snicker's Gap, on the fifth day.

By command of Maj. Gen. P. H. Sheridan:
JAS. W. FORSYTH,             
Lieutenant-Colonel and Chief of Staff.


SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 43, Part 1 (Serial No. 91), p. 679

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Major-General Philip H. Sheridan to Lieutenant-General Ulysses S. Grant, October 7, 1864—9 p.m.

WOODSTOCK, October 7, 18649 p.m.                
(Received 9th.)

I have the honor to report my command at this point to-night. I commenced moving back from Port Republic, Mount Crawford, Bridgewater, and Harrisonburg yesterday morning. The grain and forage in advance of these points up to Staunton had previously been destroyed. In moving back to this point the whole country from the Blue Ridge to the North Mountains has been made untenable for a rebel army. I have destroyed over 2,000 barns filled with wheat, hay, and farming implements; over seventy mills filled with flour and wheat; have driven in front of the army over 4[,000] head of stock, and have killed and issued to the troops not less than 3,000 sheep. This destruction embraces the Luray Valley and Little Fort Valley, as well as the main valley. A large number of horses have been obtained, a proper estimate of which I cannot now make. Lieut. John R. Meigs, my engineer officer, was murdered beyond Harrisonburg, near Dayton. For this atrocious act all the houses within an area of five miles were burned. Since I came into the Valley, from Harper's Ferry up to Harrisonburg, every train, every small party, and every straggler has been bushwhacked by people, many of whom have protection papers from commanders who have been hitherto in this valley. From the vicinity of Harrisonburg over 400 wagon-loads of refugees have been sent back to Martinsburg; most of these people were Dunkers and had been conscripted. The people here are getting sick of the war; heretofore they have had no reason to complain, because they have been living in great abundance. I have not been followed by the enemy up to this point, with the exception of a small force of rebel cavalry that showed themselves some distance behind my rear guard to-day. A party of 100 of the Eighth Ohio Cavalry, which I had stationed at the bridge over the North Shenandoah, near Mount Jackson, was attacked by McNeill, with seventeen men; report they were asleep, and the whole party dispersed or captured. I think that they will all turn up; I learn that fifty-six of them have reached Winchester. McNeill was mortally wounded and fell into our hands. This was fortunate, as he was the most daring and dangerous of all the bushwhackers in this section of the country. I would have preferred sending troops to you by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad; it would have been the quickest and most concealed way of sending them. The keeping open of the road to Front Royal will require large guards to protect it against a very small number of partisan troops. It also obliges me to have a pontoon train, if it is to be kept open, to bridge the Shenandoah and keep up communication with Winchester. However, in a day or two I can tell better. I sent a party of cavalry through Thornton's Gap, and directed the balance of the division of cavalry which I have left in the Valley to take position at Millwood, occupying Chester Gap and Front Royal. Thornton's Gap I have given up, as of no value. With this disposition of forces, I will move infantry round the mountains, via Strasburg, as soon as possible. To-morrow I will continue the destruction of wheat, forage, &c., down to Fisher's Hill. When this is completed the Valley, from Winchester up to Staunton, ninety-two miles, will have but little in it for man or beast. In previous dispatches I have used "lower Valley" when I should have said "upper Valley," or, in other words, in my last dispatch I intended to say that the grain and forage from Staunton up to Lexington had been sent to Richmond, and that the grain and forage from Staunton to Strasburg had been left for the wintering of Early's army. Yesterday Colonel Powell captured a guerrilla camp on the mountains, with ten wagons and teams.

P. H. SHERIDAN,                
Major-General.
 Lieutenant-General GRANT.

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 43, Part 1 (Serial No. 91), p. 30-1

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Major-General William T. Sherman: Special Field Orders No. 120, November 9, 1864

SPECIAL FIELD ORDERS No. 120.}
HDQRS. MIL. DIV. OF THE MISS.,                                  
In the Field, Kingston, Ga.,                
November 9, 1864.

I. For the purpose of military operations this army is divided into two wings, viz, the Right Wing, Maj. Gen. O. O. Howard commanding, the Fifteenth and Seventeenth Corps; the Left Wing, Maj. Gen. H. W. Slocum commanding, the Fourteenth and Twentieth Corps.

II. The habitual order of march will be, wherever practicable, by four roads, as near parallel as possible and converging at points hereafter to be indicated in orders. The cavalry, Brigadier-General Kilpatrick commanding, will receive special orders from the commander-in-chief.

III. There will be no general train of supplies, but each corps will have its ammunition train and provision train distributed habitually as follows: Behind each regiment should follow one wagon and one ambulance; behind each brigade should follow a due proportion of ammunition wagons, provision wagons, and ambulances. In case of danger each army corps commander should change this order of march by having his advance and rear brigade unincumbered by wheels. The separate columns will start habitually at 7 a.m., and make about fifteen miles per day, unless otherwise fixed in orders.

IV. The army will forage liberally on the country during the march. To this end, each brigade commander will organize a good and sufficient foraging party, under the command of one or more discreet officers, who will gather, near the route traveled, corn or forage of any kind, meat of any kind, vegetables, corn-meal, or whatever is needed by the command, aiming at all times to keep in the wagons at least ten days' provisions for the command and three days' forage. Soldiers must not enter the dwellings of the inhabitants, or commit any trespass, but during a halt or a camp they may be permitted to gather turnips, potatoes, and other vegetables, and to drive in stock in sight of their camp. To regular foraging parties must be intrusted the gathering of provisions and forage at any distance from the road traveled.

V. To army corps commanders alone is intrusted the power to destroy mills, houses, cotton-gins, &c., and for them this general principle is laid down: In districts and neighborhoods where the army is unmolested no destruction of such property should be permitted; but should guerrillas or bushwhackers molest our march, or should the inhabitants burn bridges, obstruct roads, or otherwise manifest local hostility, then army commanders should order and enforce a devastation more or less relentless according to the measure of such hostility.

VI. As for horses, mules, wagons, &c., belonging to the inhabitants, the cavalry and artillery may appropriate freely and without limit, discriminating, however, between the rich, who are usually hostile, and the poor or industrious, usually neutral or friendly. Foraging parties  may also take mules or horses to replace the jaded animals of their trains, or to serve as pack-mules for the regiments or brigades. In all foraging, of whatever kind, the parties engaged will refrain from abusive or threatening language, and may, where the officer in command thinks proper, give written certificates of the facts, but no receipts, and they will endeavor to leave with each family a reasonable portion for their maintenance.

VII. Negroes who are able-bodied and can be of service to the several columns may be taken along, but each army commander will bear in mind that the question of supplies is a very important one and that his first duty is to see to them who bear arms.

VIII. The organization at once of a good pioneer battalion for each army corps, composed if possible of negroes, should be attended to. This battalion should follow the advance guard, should repair roads, and double them if possible, so that the columns will not be delayed after reaching bad places. Also, army commanders should study the habit of giving the artillery and wagons the road, and marching their troops on one side, and also instruct their troops to assist wagons at steep hills or bad crossings of streams.

IX. Capt. O. M. Poe, chief engineer, will assign to each wing of the army a pontoon train, fully equipped and organized, and the commanders thereof will see to its being properly protected at all times.

By order of Maj. Gen. W. T. Sherman:

L. M. DAYTON,                   
Aid-de-Camp.

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 39, Part 3 (Serial No. 79), p. 713-4

Friday, January 25, 2019

Diary of Captain Luman Harris Tenney: Monday, March 13, 1865

Reveille at 4 A. M. Out at 5:30. Went out on R. R. and destroyed a great distance of the R. R. The boys worked with a will. Burned several warehouses full of tobacco. Lay in camp from 1 A. M. 1st Div. up the R. R.

SOURCE: Frances Andrews Tenney, War Diary Of Luman Harris Tenney, p. 147

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Diary of 2nd Lieutenant Luman Harris Tenney: October 6, 1864

Moved back, burning every barn and stack on road. Followed closely. Camped near Brock's Gap. 5th N. Y. and 18th P. V. driven back. Considerable uneasiness during night.

SOURCE: Frances Andrews Tenney, War Diary Of Luman Harris Tenney, p. 131

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Captain Charles Wright Wills: January 16, 1863

Camp 103d Illinois Infantry, Jackson, Tenn.,
January 16, 1862.

It commenced raining early the morning of the 14th and did not cease until about 2 a. m. the 15th, since when it has snowed steadily until within two hours. The snow is some eight inches deep, underneath which is mud immeasurable. The rain the last six or eight hours came through our tent as through a sieve, the snow came in at the top, through the door, and blew under the curtains. Everybody's wearing apparel, blankets, and self absorbed all the damp possible, and besides carried all that would hold on outside. Our stove was in this extremity our comfort and our joy. We kept two loyal Ethiopians busy during the two days, getting wood, and feeding said comforter. Great was the tribulation, and much audible cursing resulted, while the secret history of oaths unuttered, would I'm afraid, fill many volumes, and in all human probability cause, if made public, the appointment of many army chaplains. This is the first winter weather that we have had, and I'll be willing if it proves the last, although there is a half melancholy pleasure in spludging around in this slop and taking the weather as it comes, without its first being made to feel the refining influence of house walls and good warm fires. Our men have become quite soldier-like, and endure without much murmuring the little ills as they come. It shows some of the principles of manhood, you must believe, when men stand this weather in these worthless little wedge tents, without fires and without grumbling. I got four of my men discharged to-day, and want to discharge some six or eight more. When I get my deadheads off my hands will have some 70 good men left. Rather think now, that we are stationary here for the winter, but we may possibly be sent to Vicksburg, than which nothing will suit us better There are some eight or nine regiments here, two or three of them cavalry. The enemy is pretty well cleared out of this strip of country, and if Rosecrans gets down into North Alabama, opinion seems to be that some of us can be spared from here for Vicksburg and Port Hudson. Several houses have been burned here lately. This town will share the fate of Holly Springs, sure, if the Rebels trouble us here any more. 'Tis fearfully secesh, and a little fire will, I think, help to purify it. Isn't it wonderful how with so much fighting everywhere I have escaped so long? The whole of the 10th Illinois Infantry were with me in luck until the last fight at Murfreesboro, and am not certain they participated in that. There are two regiments here that have endured all of this storm without tents. I suppose the Lord takes care of them fellows, if it’s a fact that he looks after sheared sheep and birds. From my heart I pity them, though that strikes me as something like the little boy who, when his mother put him to bed and covered him with an old door, told her how much he pitied folks who had no doors to cover themselves with while they slept. That's a story mother and aunt used to tell me in my trundle-bed days. Wonder if aunty has forgotten the story that used to make Tip and me rave. All about how that “great big prairie wolf bit a wee boy's head off.” I almost forgot that I am out of woollen socks. Have only the pair of socks that are on my feet. Put them on this morning, and there were so many holes that I could hardly tell where to put my feet in. Wish you'd send me three or four pair. Will make cotton ones do until then. I can send you a nigger baby if it would be acceptable. They are more "antic" than either a squirrel or monkey. I have two he niggers, two she's and three babies, mess property. Think I will either have to drown the babies, or sell them and the women, whom I endure because their husbands are such good hands. Will you take one?

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 147-8

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Captain Charles Wright Wills: January 12, 1863

Camp 103d Illinois Infantry, Jackson, Tenn.,
January 12, 1863.

Your letters are beginning to come through with more regularity and on decidedly better time. Have received your date of December 30, although the last was dated November 16th, and was the first you wrote after we left Peoria. You bewailed our being sent south of Cairo, which I think very ungenerous in you. Well, you'll probably be suited in our present location, which is the only consolation I have in being sent so far rearward. There are some slight hopes though, that we may be sent to Vicksburg, which will ripen into a distant probability (nothing more I'm afraid) if the news of our repulse there be true. We're encamped in the suburbs of this delightful little town, but so strict are the orders of the general (Sullivan) that, as far as seeing the town or making purchases therein are concerned, we might as well be camped on Pike's Peak. All right, Mr. Sullivan, have your own way. He is by all odds the most like a soldier of all the garrison commandants I have been under. Will wager that you will never hear of his being surprised. The news from Holly Springs is that the last house in the town was burned night before last. Pretty rough, but I say, amen. Its pretty well understood in this army now that burning Rebel property is not much of a crime. I for one will never engage in it, until orders are issued making it duty, and then I think I can enjoy it as much as any of them. If any part of this army is ever called home to quell those Illinois tories, orders to burn and destroy will not be necessary. Since I have seen the proceedings of that traitorous legislature, I begin to understand why these loyal Tennesseans and Alabamians are so much more bitter against traitors than we are. It would make your blood run cold to hear the men in this army, without regard to party, curse those traitors. There is a gay time in prospect for those chaps. Don't think I am much out of the way in saying that Merrick, Jem Allen, Dick Richardson, and the editors of the Chicago Times would be hung if caught within the lines of many Illinois regiments in this army. There are many officers who, while they doubt our ability to subjugate (that is the question) the South, would take an active part in ending the man who would propose to give the thing up. I come pretty near belonging to that party, though I think that if we can't accomplish the whole end desired, we can confine the Rebels to Virginia (Eastern), the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida. Alabama, I believe, we can hold if we get Mississippi. Boats which left Vicksburg on the 6th inst. reported it taken, but it must be a mistake, as it has not been confirmed. I think it was wicked to put that brave old 8th Missouri and 4th Iowa into the front of the battle, after they had suffered so severely at Donaldson, Shiloh, Farmington, etc., but ever since Shiloh it seems that the old soldiers have had the front all the time. 'Tis reported that when Grant moves again, he will leave all the new regiments as railroad and property guards, and move with the old army. The last night I stayed in Holly Springs, Mrs. Stricklin invited in some young ladies to help entertain the colonel, Lieutenant Nickolet and myself. They beat all the secesh I have seen yet. One of them played all the secesh pieces she knew, and when I asked her to play “John Brown,” she swelled up so with wrath, that I was strongly tempted to propose tying my suspenders around her to save hooks and eyes. One of them asked me if I did not think the Southerners the most polite, refined and agreeable people I had ever met. It took me twenty minutes before I could finish blushing for her lack of modesty, and then I was so dead beat that I could only take up the word refined, and tell her how much I admired their beautiful use of language. I instanced, “what do you'uns all come down here to fight we'uns for,” “I recon we war thar,” which you'll hear from the best of them. That first quotation as they speak it is the funniest sentence imaginable. I got into a row with every one I talked with, but finally, was fool enough to escort one home. Rumor (almost official) says to-night that we go to Memphis to-morrow, or soon, and thence to Vicksburg. Congratulate us on our good luck. This regiment will never be satisfied without a fight. They run in in our pickets once and awhile here, and I believe two were killed (pickets) yesterday, but guess there is no chance for a fight. The 18th Illinois Infantry is being mounted.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 145-7

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Captain Charles Wright Wills: January 4, 1863

January 4, 1863.

There I quit, for we received orders to get ready at once to march to Jackson, Tenn. The colonel ordered me to take charge of the train (wagons) and with my company guard it through by the wagon road, while the other nine companies went through by railroad. The regiment got off that evening, but I was delayed until the 31st, when just as I got my company into line to start a couple of the finest houses in town took fire, and burned down. The colonel commanding the 15th Illinois Infantry, which had just arrived, put me under arrest and stationed a guard around my company, but after an hour's detention, my strong protestations against arrest and my arguments in favor of the honorable acquital of my men of the charges, induced him to allow us to proceed on our way. By Lieutenant Mattison's personal smartness the train was taken from the road in the p. m., while I was ahead selecting camping grounds for the night, and I did not get with it for two days, which I traveled alone. The distance is about 90 miles. The first night I stayed at Holly Springs and slept in the bed which General Pemberton, Van Dorn and Lovell of the Rebel Army, and Hamilton, of ours, in turn occupied. 'Twas in the room they occupied for headquarters. Mrs. Stricklin, the lady of the house, was charming. Her husband is a major in the Rebel Army. I ate my New Year's dinner at Dr. Ellis'. He was not at home, but his lady treated me very politely, and I give her credit for having the noblest face I ever saw on woman. She is a sister of Rebel General Hindman. Stayed at a private house at Lagrange that night (Mrs. Cockes) and heard some delightful music made by a daughter. Saw seven mounted Rebels on the 2d, and felt uneasy traveling alone, but got through safe to Bolivar. Here I caught up with my train which I thought was behind. When we started my men were on foot, when I caught up with them at Bolivar, 38 of them were mounted on horses or mules. Stayed at Medon Station last night, and arrived here at 3 this p. m., all safe. I have to go back to Holly Springs to-morrow to testify against the 109th for disloyalty.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 140

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Captain Charles Wright Wills: December 30, 1862

Provost Marshal's Office, Waterford, Miss.,
December 30, 1862.

Fifteen days outside the world and still we live. No papers of later date than the 15th inst. have reached us, and 'twill be at least five days' move before we can hope to see one. In that time there have been some six or eight fights in this country all to our disadvantage, and two cowardly surrenders, Holly Springs and Trenton. Pemberton's cavalry under Van Dorn, turned our left, and striking at our line of communication, first surprised and captured Holly Springs, burned everything belonging to our army with the houses containing the stores; then while a portion of the column retreated another portion successively attacked our troops stationed at Coldwater bridge, Middleton, Grand Junction, and outposts near Bolivar, in all of which they were repulsed. About the same time a portion of Bragg's forces crossed the Tennessee river at or near Musch Shoals, Ala., and marched along the south side of the river toward Corinth. General Dodge at Corinth sent out Colonel Sweeny, who met and defeated the enemy, driving him across the river. The enemy then again crossed the river near Savannah, and moving toward Jackson were met by Bob Ingersoll, whom, after something of a fight, 'tis said, they captured with his command. Trenton was then cowardly surrendered by some 250 Tennessee cavalry. Attacks were made on several other posts garrisoned by our troops, in all of which the enemy were repulsed. Altogether there has been a d---1 of a time. When Van Dorn had finished his little bonfire at Holly Springs, this army was left with about five day's rations, which we have to make do 15 at least. In order to make up the deficit in commissaries, General Grant ordered that everything eatable that could be found in the country be seized for army use. In the strip of country from Holly Springs to Coffeeville, for, say 15 miles wide, there is not enough left to feed 50 chickens a week. Colonel Dickerman and I visited Holly Springs yesterday and took a little look at the ruins. I suppose the damage to the citizens amounts to nearly as much as the Government's loss. Most of the best and largest houses were burned. General Grant told Colonel Dickerman that our regiment would be sent to Jackson in a few days to guard that place. Well, if we have to go into winter quarters that will suit your brother very much. We will be nearer home and communication will not be so apt to be broken between us.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 138-9

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: June 28, 1863

By order of Brig.-Gen. G. W. Custis Lee, the department companies were paraded to-day, armed and equipped. These, with the militia in the streets (armed by the government today), amounted to several thousand efficient men for the batteries and for guard duty. They are to rendezvous, with blankets, provisions, etc., upon the sounding of the tocsin. I learn that 8000 men in the hospitals within convenient reach of the city, including those in the city, can be available for defense in an emergency. They cannot march, but they can fight. These, with Hill's division, will make over 20,000 men; an ample force to cope with the enemy on the Peninsula. It has been a cool, cloudy day (we have had copious rains recently), else the civilians could not have stood several hours exercise so well. A little practice will habituate them by degees to the harness of war. No one doubts that they will fight, when the time for blows arrives. Gen. Jenkins has just arrived, with his brigade, from the south side of the James River.

I was in the arsenal to-day, and found an almost unlimited amount of arms.

We get not a word from Gen. Lee. This, I think, augurs well, for bad news flies fast. No doubt we shall soon hear something from the Northern papers. They are already beginning to magnify the ravages of our army on their soil: but our men are incapable of retaliating, to the full extent, such atrocities as the following, on the Blackwater, near Suffolk, which I find in the Petersburg Express:

“Mr. Smith resided about one mile from the town, a well-to-do farmer, having around him an interesting family, the eldest one a gallant young man in the 16th Virginia Regiment. When Gen. Longstreet invested Suffolk a sharp artillery and infantry skirmish took place near Mr. Smith's residence, and many balls passed through his house. The Yankees finally advanced and fired the houses, forcing the family to leave. Mrs. Smith, with her seven children, the youngest only ten months old, attempted to escape to the woods and into the Confederate lines, when she was fired upon by the Yankee soldiers, and a Minie-ball entering her limb just below the hip, she died in thirty minutes from the loss of blood. The children, frightened, hid themselves in the bushes, while Mr. Smith sat down upon the ground by his wife, to see her breathe her last. After she had been dead for some time, the Yankee commander permitted him to take a cart, and, with no assistance except one of his children, he put the dead body in the cart and carried it into the town. On his arrival in town, he was not permitted to take the remains of his wife to her brother's residence until he had first gone through the town to the Provost Marshal's office and obtained permission. On his arrival at the Provost Marshal's office, he was gruffly told to take his wife to the graveyard and bury her. He carried her to her brother's, John R. Kilby, Esq., and a few friends prepared her for burial; Mr. Kilby not being allowed to leave the house, or to attend the remains of his sister to the graveyard.

“Nor did the cruelty of the fiends stop here. Mr. Smith was denied the privilege of going in search of his little children, and for four days and nights they wandered in the woods and among the soldiers without anything to eat or any place to sleep. The baby was taken up by a colored woman and nursed until some private in the Yankee army, with a little better heart than his associates, took it on his horse and carried it to town. Mr. Smith is still in the lines of the enemy, his house and everything else he had destroyed, and his little children cared for by his friends.

“Will not the Confederate soldiers now in Pennsylvania remember such acts of cruelty and barbarism? Will not the Nansemond companies remember it? And will not that gallant boy in the 16th Regiment remember his mother's fate, and take vengeance on the enemy? Will not such a cruel race of people eventually reap the fruit of their doings? God grant that they may.”

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 362-4

Diary of Sergeant Major Luman Harris Tenney: July 9, 1863

On at daylight. Advance reached Brandenburg on south bank of Ohio River, just as the last boat of rebels crossed the river. He set the Alice Dean on fire. Burned to the water's edge. One propeller came down at 1 P. M. and commenced ferrying. Fed corn and looked about town. Before dark, 12 to 14 boats, steam, gun and packets. 'Twas a fine sight. Got over in the evening and camped on the hill — all over. Several boats ferried us. Two mills burned near river.

SOURCE: Frances Andrews Tenney, War Diary Of Luman Harris Tenney, p. 78

Diary of Sergeant Major Luman Harris Tenney: July 11, 1863

Started at daylight. Thede, Steve and I went ahead to town. Several met us with “Have you been to breakfast?” “Come with us.” We accepted an invitation of a gentleman, but a Mr. Lyon insisted on Thede and me going with him. Very pleasant people. Wanted to do everything for us. A girl, Emma, Ella or Anna Lyons, beautiful girl, 16 or 17 years. She went up town and we had a good visit here. Brought me some paper. Wrote home and to Fannie. Depot and bridges burned. Stores gutted. Levies made upon the people. A good many pretty girls — one Miss Reed. Oh it cheered our hearts to meet with such kindness and friends. Passed through Lexington and camped at 12 P. M. Morgan 25 miles.

SOURCE: Frances Andrews Tenney, War Diary Of Luman Harris Tenney, p. 78

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Captain Charles Wright Wills: November 7, 1862

Camp at Lagrange, West Tennessee, November 7, 1862.

To say that we have been crowded, jammed, put through, hustled, skited, etc., don't half express the divil-of-a-hurry headquarters has shown and is showing us. We left Peoria one week ago last night, crossed the bridge at precisely 6 o'clock p. m. Since that we have traveled one day and one night on the cars, a day resting, beside stacked arms waiting orders, the first quarter of a night pitching tents, then received orders to march with five days' rations at daylight, and the rest of the night spent in preparation therefor, then two days' marching through the awfullest dust you ever saw, so thick we almost had to kick it out of the way to get our foot to the ground, then a day of rest and fat living off secesh pork, etc., and the seventh day a march of 20 miles by our whole brigade, after a little party of Rebel cavalry that couldn't more than eat a hog a day. Pretty good work for a green regiment, wasn't it? It seems real natural to be down in Secessia, the country where a 300-pound porker don't cost any more than a chicken that costs nothing. But some things we have to buy for our mess, and to show you what they cost, I will mention the items of flour and salt. The former is worth 50 cents per pound, and the latter $1 a pound. We wouldn't have to buy them of citizens, but scarcity of transportation obliged our A. C. S. to leave everything but traveling rations, viz.; Bacon, sugar, coffee and crackers. There is a man making boots in town at $45 a pair, and he can't get leather to fill his orders. Fine country. Between here and Bolivar, some 30 miles, I think there is not a house left or rail left unburned, and 'twas all done on our trip down. The fires were all lit by troops that marched ahead of us, and although the smoke and heat were disagreeable enough, yet I think the 103d generally approved of the proceedings. Yet I was glad enough when the colonel, by the general's orders, called us to answer the question, “Do you know that any of your men burned rails, houses, or destroyed any property on the march from Bolivar?” that the 103d had not participated. Major General McPherson, commanding this corps, disapproves of such conduct and will severely punish offenders if caught, which latter item is not at all probable. Tis generally understood that the Union Tennessee Cavalry did the work. The 7th Illinois is here with us and all are well that you know.

We have good tents and are otherwise better prepared for soldiering than I ever was before.

We have between 30,000 and 40,000, I suppose, between here and a point eight miles east. Price is supposed to be in the neighborhood of Holly Springs, 30 miles southwest, with 40,000 to 60,000. They say we are waiting for the Memphis troops to join us before we go down and scoop him. We have the half of the old army of the Mississippi here, and part of the army of West Tennessee, nearly all experienced troops.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 129-30

Monday, July 31, 2017

1st Lieutenant Charles Wright Wills: August 8, 1862

Tuscumbia, Ala., August 8, 1862.

My pet negro got so lazy and worthless I was compelled to ship him. I'll take back, if you please, everything good that I ever said of free negroes. That Beauregard nigger was such a thief that we had to also set him adrift. He stole our canned fruit, jellies and oysters and sold some of them and gave parties at the cabins in the vicinity. This was barely endurable but he was a splendid, smart fellow and the colonel would have kept him, but he got to stealing the colonel's liquor. That of course, was unpardonable, when the scarcity of the article was considered. In my last I spoke of a ride on the railroad and having to turn back on account of bridges being burned There were, maybe, 150 sick soldiers on board, and they concluded to march to Decatur, only 10 miles. They were attacked just after we started back, five of them killed and about 100 taken prisoners. There was a woman along and she was wounded. There were three little fights yesterday between here and 25 miles east. In all, four killed and 13 wounded. The fight first spoken of was day before yesterday. Orders have been given us to put every woman and child (imprison the men) across the line that speaks or acts secesh, and to burn their property, and to destroy all their crops, cut down corn growing, and burn all the cribs. That is something like war. ’Tis devilish hard for one like me to assist in such work, but believe it is necessary to our course. Having been very busy preparing reports and writing letters all day, feel deuced little like writing you. People here treat us the very best kind, although they are as strong Rebels as live. Bring us peaches and vegetables every day. I can't hardly think the generals will carry out the orders as above, for it will have a very demoralizing effect upon the men. I'd hate like the deuce to burn the houses of some secesh I know here, but at the same time don't doubt the justice of the thing. One of them has lent us his own cook, or rather his wife did; and they don't talk their secessionism to you unless you ask them to. We are getting a good many recruits from this country. All poor people, in fact that is the only kind that pretend to any Unionism here. There are now three full companies of Alabamians (Union) at Huntsville, and many more coming in. It is the opinion of the court that this new law, a copy of which you sent me, will boost me out of the service. I will make no objection, although would rather stay in if I thought the war would last 30 or 40 years. Don't see how the boys can stay at home under the pressure. A young man here, and a splendid fellow, if he is a Rebel, showed me four letters from different young ladies urging him, by ridicule and appeals to his pride to go into the army. He was in for a short time, and was stationed at Fort Morgan. Business keeps him out now — crops, etc. I think will arrange things so that he can leave, if we carry out orders. ’Twould be quite a change for me to be out of the army now. I don' know how I would relish it while the war continues, although am sure could stand it if peace times would come again.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 123-5

Thursday, June 15, 2017

1st Lieutenant Charles Wright Wills: March 6, 1862

Near New Madrid, Mo., March 6, 1862.

What oceans of fun we are having here. Here goes for all of it to date, and I'll be lucky if I'm able to tell you the finale. We went down to Commerce the 26th of February. Troops were scattered everywhere over the town and vicinity for 15 miles about. Could form no idea of the number there, but it was variously estimated at from 15,000 to 45,000. On the 28th we started, our regiment in advance, and camped that night at Hunter's farm, the same place we stopped last fall when going to Bloomfield under Oglesby. We reached Hunter's at 2 o'clock p. m., and at 11 the same morning Jeff Thompson had been there waiting for us with six pieces of cannon. He skedaddled, but still kept in the neighboring swamps. The next morning we again started in advance and after a ride of five miles heard firing about the same distance ahead. We let the horses go and in a very short time were within the limits of the muss. We came up with a company of cavalry from Bird's Point standing in line at the end of a lane, about a mile down which we could see Thompson's forces drawn up with his artillery “in battery.” He saw us about as quick as we got up, and limbered up in double quick and scooted. Then the fun commenced. We chased him for 15 miles over a splendid straight, wide, level road, which he strewed With blankets, guns, hats, and at last dropped his artillery. A dozen of our boys kept up the chase until within a half mile of New Madrid, where they captured a wagon load of grain and a nigger, and returned at leisure. We caught a captain, 1st. lieutenant and some privates. Next day, the 2d of March, our regiment went down to New Madrid to reconnoiter. A regular colonel went along to draw a map of the country. We went it blind right into the edge of town, where we ran onto a lot of infantry. As fighting wasn't the object, we filed off to the left into a cornfield to get a new view of town. We were going slowly down on the town in line of battle, when a battery opened on us right, smartly. We got out of that, but in good order. Only one shell touched us and that burst right under a horse's nose. One piece bruised the horse a little and knocked the rider off, but did not hurt the man at all, and the horse is now fit for duty again. Almost miraculous, wasn't it? There were lots of shell and balls fell around us. On the 3d the whole army got here and we again marched on the burg. The gunboats opened on us and we had to draw back. That day three 64-pound shells burst within 30 yards of me. We have been lying, since then, about two miles from town. They throw a shell over here occasionally but haven't hurt any body yet at this distance. To-day the cavalry have been out again to see if the gunboats have left, (that's all that keeps us from taking the town). The boats were still there and again shelled us, killing one man and a horse in the Michigan 3d. They killed one man on the 3d in the 39th Ohio, and the same shell wounded several others. Yesterday 2,000 or 3,000 men went around New Madrid down the river ten miles to Point Pleasant, but were kept off by the damned gunboats, just like we are here. If two or three of our gunboats could only slip down far enough to see their gunboats (two of them) and steamboats coming and going with their secesh flags flying. They have burned a half dozen houses in town since we came here. Don't know what for. Brigadier General Pope who is in command here has been made a major general. The colonel has just come from his quarters, and reports that Foote will be here with his gunboats day after to-morrow at farthest. We have been scouting all afternoon and I'm blamed tired. I took four men and went it alone. Had a good time but got lost and didn't get back until 8 p. m. Captured a lot of ginger snaps, and had a good talk with a handsome widow, while the boats were firing at the Michigan cavalry on our left. These shells don't scare a fellow half as much as the thoughts of them do. Why you really don't mind it at all. I don't like the idea of those musket balls, but maybe that is also worse than the reality.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 63-5

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

3rd Sergeant Charles Wright Wills: November 11, 1861

Cape Girardeau, November 11, 1861.

We have just arrived here after a week's absence from any sign of civilized life. Saturday the 2d we (our company) went out six or seven miles from the Point to guard a bridge on the Cairo and Fulton Railroad. Sunday we came back to the Point, and found the tents of our regiment all struck and everything prepared for a march. By dark we were all safely stowed on the “Aleck Scott,” and also five companies of the 11th Illinois. At 10 p. m. the boat shoved out, but had to tie to all night about 10 miles up the river on account of the fog. Monday at 10 a. m. we landed at Commerce between Cape Girardeau and Cairo and stayed there all night. Up to this time we had not the most distant idea of where we were going, but here we began to guess that we were after Jeff Thompson and company. Tuesday morning we started back into the country and camped for the night on Colonel Hunter's farm, a distance of 18 miles. (I forgot to mention that the 18th and 22d Illinois with three companies, cavalry and two pieces artillery joined us before we started from Commerce, making a total of some 2,200 men.) This Colonel Hunter is in the Rebel Army When we stopped at his farm there was a large flock of sheep, at least 40 goats and pigs, turkey, geese, chickens and ducks without number. After we had been there a half hour I don't believe there was a living thing on the farm that did not come with our train. I never saw a slaughterhouse on as large a scale before. The next day the boys made an awful uproar on the road, playing that the sheep, hogs, geese, etc., inside of them were calling for their comrades. Wednesday night we stopped at Little Water River and the slaughtering commenced immediately. All along the road up to this place every horse or mule that showed himself was gobbled instanter, a bridle cramped, and some footman made happy. It was hard to tell whether our force was infantry or cavalry that night. This was too much for the colonel, so next morning he drew the brigade up in column of company and gave us fits. He made the men turn every horse loose; told us that the next man that cramped anything without permission would be dealt with as severely as the regulations would allow. That suited me. I never have been disgusted with soldiering save in those two days, and I tell you that I did then feel like deserting. When we are marching through a country as thoroughly secesh as this is, I think that the men should be allowed fresh meat at the expense of the natives; but there is a proper and soldier-like way to get it. We can send our foraging party ahead and have all we want at camp when we halt, but to allow men to butcher everything they see is mob-like. Wednesday night Jeff's men tried to burn a bridge a short distance from us and this led to a little brush, but the cavalry only were engaged. Thursday we marched all day and went into camp at night without seeing a horse. The march was through the “Black Swamp.” The ground was covered with this black moss four inches deep and so thick that 'tis like a carpet. That was an awful gloomy road and I was glad enough to land at a nice clear stream and have orders to pitch tents. That night not a thing was pressed. The next day we got into Bloomfield about 9 a. m. and found Jeff gone. For the third time we pitched tents on one of his deserted camps. I have just now heard that we started with orders to push on down to New Madrid, but here the orders were countermanded and we were started to Cape Girardeau. This Bloomfield is a rank Rebel hole. The first Rebel company in Missouri was raised here. It is the county seat of Stoddard or Scott, and a very fine place. Here the boys got the understanding that we were to be allowed some liberties and take them they did. They broke open four or five stores whose owners had left, and helped themselves. Colonel Dick (Oglesby) thought this was going too far, so he stopped it and sent a police force around to collect the stolen (pressed rather) property. I walked around and took a look at the pile they collected. There were lots of women's bonnets, girl's hats, mallets, jars of medicine, looking glasses three feet long, boys' boots, flat irons, a nice side table and I don't know what wasn't there. It beat anything I ever saw. The men had no way to carry these things but on their backs, and what the devil they stole them for is more than I know. Well, the colonel divided the stuff out again among the men, but stopped stealing entirely for the future. We have been a respectable regiment since then. On the march back to the Cape, the 10th Iowa was ahead of us and they fired several houses. We (our regiment) saved one of the houses but the rest burned down. The march back to the Cape was a fast one but quiet. We arrested some 20 or 30 of Jeff's men but released them all again. At Bloomfield my tent was pitched under a tree on which we saw the marks of three ropes to the ends of which Colonel Lowe attached three men not very long since. The ropes had cut through the moss on the tree and the marks will be visible a long time. We also arrested a number of men that had been concerned in hanging Union men through the country, At Round Pond an intelligent man told us that 17 men (Union) had been hung and shot inside of three days and he saw their bodies in one pile lying in the woods. We have marched over 100 miles this trip, and we have not seen a mile of prairie. I haven't been 20 feet from a tree for three months. The 17th are going into winter quarters here. Our regiment will certainly be in the next fight at Columbus. We start back to the Point at 3 to-morrow morning.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 39-42

Monday, April 24, 2017

Dr. Joseph T. Webb to Marietta Cook Webb, August 30, 1862

[Camp On Munson's Hill, Near Washington, August 30, 1862.]

We are in hearing of a battle that is progressing some ten or fifteen miles distant. The cannonading has been kept up pretty steady all day long; at times it is quite brisk; what would you think of it were you here? This country presents the same appearance as western Virginia, save only on a grander scale. There is not a fence between here and Alexandria, although it is almost a continuous village; splendid residences line this road that have had fine parks of trees around, all of which have been cut down to clear the way for the artillery; every mile almost, you come upon a line of forts. This point was for some time held by the Rebels, and between the armies this section is pretty badly used up. Many of the finest residences are deserted, some have been burnt. It is a sorry sight to witness it.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 334

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: March 11, 1863

Gen. Fitzhugh Lee has made a dash into Fairfax (near Washington) a day or two ago, and captured the Federal Gen. Slaughter and other officers, in their beds.

Last night one of the government warehouses in this city was burnt. It is supposed to have been the work of an incendiary traitor; perhaps in retaliation for the recent impressment of flour. Yesterday the lower house of Congress passed a resolution restricting impressments. This has a bad aspect.

The Bureau of Conscription, to-day, under the direction of Col. Lay, decided that all clerks in the departments, appointed subsequent to the eleventh of October last, are liable to be enrolled for service. Yet the colonel himself has a clerk appointed in January last.

Gold sells at $5 in Confederate States notes for one; U. S. Treasury notes are at a premium here of $2.50. Even the notes of our State banks are at 60 per cent, premium over Confederate notes. This is bad for Mr. Memminger. An abler financier would have worked out a different result.

All the patriotism is in the army; out of it the demon avarice rages supreme. Every one seems mad with speculation; and the extortioners prey upon every victim that falls within their power. Nearly all who sell are extortioners. We have at the same time, and in the same community, spectacles of the most exalted virtue and of the most degrading vice.

Col. Mattel, the former commandant of conscripts for North Carolina, who was wounded at Kinston, and yet was superseded by Col. Lay's friend, Col. August, is now to be restored, and Col. A. relieved. Upon this Col. L. has fallen sick.

Mr. Duffield, whom Col. Lay and Mr. Jacques had appointed A. A. G. over me, has not yet, for some cause, got his commission. The Secretary or some one else may have “intervened.”

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 272

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Diary of 1st Lieutenant Lemuel A. Abbott: Wednesday, August 17, 1864

We were ordered to commence our retrogade movement at 8.30 o'clock, but didn't till about 10 o'clock a. m. As usual our division goes as train guard. We passed through Middletown about midnight; didn't stop to do much foraging; arrived at Newtown about 2 o'clock a. m., and passing through, the men nearly stripping the place of everything; got breakfast at Winchester and stopped near Clifton farm. Foraging is allowed, owing to the levies made for money on places by the enemy, which if not paid have been burnt, in Maryland and Pennsylvania, such as Williamsport, Chambersburg, etc. It is desired, too, to strip the Shenandoah Valley of all supplies in order to keep the enemy out of it.

SOURCE: Lemuel Abijah Abbott, Personal Recollections and Civil War Diary, 1864, p. 136