Showing posts with label Enfield Rifles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Enfield Rifles. Show all posts

Monday, November 16, 2020

Diary of Private Louis Leon: August 27, 1862

Three of our companies got Enfield rifles to-day.

SOURCE: Louis Leon, Diary of a Tar Heel Confederate Soldier, p. 10

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Diary of William Howard Russell: June 19, 1861

It is probable the landlord of the Gayoso House was a strong Secessionist, and resolved, therefore, to make the most out of a neutral customer like myself — certainly Herodotus would have been astonished if he were called upon to pay the little bill which was presented to me in the modern Memphis; and had the old Egyptian hostelries been conducted on the same principles as those of the Tennessean Memphis, the “Father of History” would have had to sell off a good many editions in order to pay his way. I had to rise at three o'clock A. M., to reach the train, which started before five. The omnibus which took us to the station was literally nave deep in the dust; and of all the bad roads and dusty streets I have yet seen in the New World, where both prevail, North and South, those of Memphis are the worst. Indeed, as the citizen, of Hibernian birth, who presided over the luggage of the passengers on the roof, declared, “The streets are paved with waves of mud, only the mud is all dust when it's fine weather.”

By the time I had arrived at the station my clothes were covered with a fine alluvial deposit in a state of powder; the platform was crowded with volunteers moving off for the wars, and I was obliged to take my place in a carriage full of Confederate officers and soldiers who had a large supply of whiskey, which at that early hour they were consuming as a prophylactic against the influence of the morning dews, which hereabouts are of such a deadly character that, to be quite safe from their influence, it appears to be necessary, judging from the examples of my companions, to get as nearly drunk as possible. Whiskey, by-the-by, is also a sovereign specific against the bites of rattle-snakes. All the dews of the Mississippi and the rattle-snakes of the prairie might have spent their force or venom in vain on my companions before we had got as far as Union City.

I was evidently regarded with considerable suspicion by my fellow passengers, when they heard I was going to Cairo, until the conductor obligingly informed them who I was, whereupon I was much entreated to fortify myself against the dews and rattle-snakes, and received many offers of service and kindness.

Whatever may be the normal comforts of American railway cars, they are certainly most unpleasant conveyances when the war spirit is abroad, and the heat of the day, which was excessive, did not contribute to diminish the annoyance of foul air — the odor of whiskey, tobacco, and the like, combined with innumerable flies. At Humbolt, which is eightytwo miles away, there was a change of cars, and an opportunity of obtaining some refreshment, — the station was crowded by great numbers of men and women dressed in their best, who were making holiday in order to visit Union City, forty-six miles distant, where a force of Tennessean and Mississippi regiments are encamped. The ladies boldly advanced into carriages which were quite full, and as they looked quite prepared to sit down on the occupants of the seats if they did not move, and to destroy them with all-absorbing articles of feminine warfare, either defensive or aggressive, and crush them with iron-bound crinolines, they soon drove us out into the broiling sun.

Whilst I was on the platform I underwent the usual process of American introduction, not, I fear, very good humoredly. A gentleman whom you never saw before in your life, walks up to you and says, “I am happy to see you among us, sir,” and if he finds a hand wandering about, he shakes it cordially. “My name is Jones, sir, Judge Jones of Pumpkin County. Any information about this place or State that I can give is quite at your service.” This is all very civil and well meant of Jones, but before you have made up your mind what to say, or on what matter to test the worth of his proffered information, he darts off and seizes one of the group who have been watching Jones's advance, and comes forward with a tall man, like himself, busily engaged with a piece of tobacco. “Colonel, let me introduce you to my friend, Mr. Russell. This, sir, is one of our leading citizens, Colonel Knags.” Whereupon the Colonel shakes hands, uses near the same formula as Judge Jones, immediately returns to his friends, and cuts in before Jones is back with other friends, whom he is hurrying up the platform, introduces General Cassius Mudd and Dr. Ordlando Bellows, who go through the same ceremony, and as each man has a circle of his own, my acquaintance becomes prodigiously extended, and my hand considerably tortured in the space of a few minutes; finally I am introduced to the driver of the engine and the stoker, but they proved to be acquaintances not at all to be despised, for they gave me a seat on the engine, which was really a boon, considering that the train was crowded beyond endurance, and in a state of internal nastiness scarcely conceivable.

When I had got up on the engine a gentleman clambered after me in order to have a little conversation and he turned out to be an intelligent and clever man well acquainted with the people and the country. I had been much impressed by the account in the Memphis papers of the lawlessness and crime which seemed to prevail in the State of Mississippi, and of the brutal shootings and stabbings which disgraced it and other Southern States. He admitted it was true, but could not see any remedy. “Why not?” “Well, sir, the rowdies have rushed in on us, and we can't master them; they are too strong for the respectable people.” “Then you admit the law is nearly powerless?” “Well, you see, sir, these men have got hold of the people who ought to administer the law, and when they fail to do so they are so powerful by reason of their numbers, and so reckless, they have things their own way.”

“In effect, then, you are living under a reign of terror, and the rule of a ruffian mob?” “It's not quite so bad as that, perhaps, for the respectable people are not much affected by it, and most of the crimes of which you speak are committed by these bad classes in their own section; but it is disgraceful to have such a state of things, and when this war is over, and we have started the confederacy all fair, we'll put the whole thing down. We are quite determined to take the law into our own hands, and the first remedy for the condition of affairs which, we all lament, will be to confine the suffrage to native-born Americans, and to get rid of the infamous, scoundrelly foreigners, who now overrule us in our country.” “But are not-many regiments of Irish and Germans now fighting for you? And will these foreigners who have taken up arms in your cause be content to receive as the result of their success an inferior position, politically, to that which they now hold?” “Well, sir, they must; we are bound to go through with this thing if we would save society.” I had so often heard a similar determination expressed by men belonging to the thinking classes in the South, that I am bound to believe the project is entertained by many of those engaged in this great revolt — one principle of which indeed, may be considered hostility to universal suffrage, combining with it, of course, the limitation of the immigrant vote.

The portion of Tennessee through which the rail runs is exceedingly uninteresting, and looks unhealthy, the clearings occur at long intervals in the forest, and the unwholesome population, who came out of their low shanties, situated amidst blackened stumps of trees or fields of Indian corn, did not seem prosperous or comfortable. The twists and curves of the rail, through cane brakes and swamps exceeded in that respect any line I have ever travelled on; but the vertical irregularities of the rail were still greater, and the engine bounded as if it were at sea.

The names of the stations show that a savant has been rambling about the district. Here is Corinth, which consists of a wooden grog-shop and three log shanties; the acropolis is represented by a grocery store, of which the proprietors, no doubt, have gone to the wars, as their names were suspiciously Milesian, and the doors and windows were fastened; but occasionally the names of the stations on the railway boards represented towns and villages, hidden in the wood some distance away, and Mummius might have something to ruin if he marched off the track, but not otherwise.

The city of Troy was still simpler in architecture than the Grecian capitol. The Dardanian towers were represented by a timber-house, in the veranda of which the American Helen was seated, in the shape of an old woman smoking a pipe, and she certainly could have set the Palace of Priam on fire much more readily than her prototype. Four sheds, three log huts, a saw-mill, about twenty negroes sitting on a wood-pile, and looking at the train, constituted the rest of the place, which was certainly too new for one to say, Troja fuity whilst the general " fixins " would scarcely authorize us to say with any confidence, Troja fuerit.

The train from Troy passed through a cypress swamp, over which the engine rattled, and hopped at a perilous rate along high trestle work, till forty-six miles from Humbolt we came to Union City, which was apparently formed by aggregate meetings of discontented shavings that had travelled out of the forest hard by. But a little beyond it was the Confederate camp, which so many citizens and citizenesses had come out into the wilderness to see; and a general descent was made upon the place whilst the volunteers came swarming out of their tents to meet their friends. It was interesting to observe the affectionate greetings between the young soldiers, mothers, wives, and sweethearts, and as a display of the force and earnestness of the Southern people — the camp itself containing thousands of men, many of whom were members of the first families in the State — was specially significant.

There is no appearance of military order or discipline about the camps, though they were guarded by sentries and cannon, and implements of war and soldiers' accoutrements were abundant. Some of the sentinels carried their firelocks under their arms like umbrellas, others carried the but over the shoulder and the muzzle downwards, and one for his greater ease had stuck the bayonet of his firelock into the ground, and was leaning his elbow on the stock with his chin on his hand, whilst sybarites less ingenious, had simply deposited their muskets against the trees,, and were lying down reading newspapers. Their arms and uniforms were of different descriptions — sporting rifles, fowling pieces, flint muskets, smooth bores, long and short barrels, new Enfields, and the like; but the men, nevertheless, were undoubtedly material for excellent soldiers. There were some few boys, too young to carry arms, although the zeal and ardor of such lads cannot but have a good effect, if they behave well in action.

The great attraction of this train lay in a vast supply of stores, with which several large vans were closely packed, and for fully two hours the train was delayed, whilst hampers of wine, spirits, vegetables, fruit, meat, groceries, and all the various articles acceptable to soldiers living under canvas were disgorged on the platform, and carried away by the expectant military.

I was pleased to observe the perfect confidence that was felt in the honesty of the men. The railway servants simply deposited each article as it came out on the platform — the men came up, read the address, and carried it away, or left it, as the case might be; and only in one instance did I see a scramble, which was certainly quite justifiable, for, in handing out a large basket the bottom gave way, and out tumbled onions, apples, and potatoes among the soldiery, who stuffed their pockets and haversacks with the unexpected bounty. One young fellow, who was handed a large wicker-covered jar from the van, having shaken it, and gratified his ear by the pleasant jingle inside, retired to the roadside, drew the cork, and, raising it slowly to his mouth, proceeded to take a good pull at the contents, to the envy of his comrades; but the pleasant expression upon his face rapidly vanished, and spurting out the fluid with a hideous grimace, he exclaimed, “D——; why, if the old woman has not gone and sent me a gallon of syrup.” The matter was evidently considered too serious to joke about, for not a soul in the crowd even smiled; but they walked away from the man, who, putting down the jar, seemed in doubt as to whether he would take it away or not.

Numerous were the invitations to stop, which I received from the officers. “Why not stay with us, sir; what can a gentleman want to go among black Republicans and Yankees for?” It is quite obvious that my return to the Northern States is regarded with some suspicion; but I am bound to say that my explanation of the necessity of the step was always well received, and satisfied my Southern friends that I had no alternative. A special correspondent, whose letters cannot get out of the country in which he is engaged, can scarcely fulfil the purpose of his mission; and I used to point out, good-humoredly, to these gentlemen that until they had either opened the communication with the North, or had broken the blockade, and established steam communication with Europe, I must seek my base of operations elsewhere.

At last we started from Union City; and there came into the car, among other soldiers who were going out to Columbus, a fine specimen of the wild filibustering population of the South, which furnish many recruits to the ranks of the Confederate army — a tall, brawny-shouldered, brown-faced, black-bearded, hairy-handed man, with a hunter's eye, and rather a Jewish face, full of life, energy, and daring. I easily got into conversation with him, as my companion happened to be a freemason, and he told us he had been a planter in Mississippi, and once owned 110 negroes, worth at least some 20,000l.; but, as he said himself, “I was always patrioting it about;” and so he went off, first with Lopez to Cuba, was wounded and taken prisoner by the Spaniards, but had the good fortune to be saved from the execution which was inflicted on the ringleaders of the expedition. When he came back he found his plantation all the worse, and a decrease amongst his negroes; but his love of adventure and filibustering was stronger than his prudence or desire of gain. He took up with Walker, the “gray-eyed man of destiny,” and accompanied him in his strange career till his leader received the coup de grace in the final raid upon Nicaragua.

Again he was taken prisoner, and would have been put to death by the Nicaraguans, but for the intervention of Captain Aldham. “I don't bear any love to the Britishers,” said he, “but I'm bound to say, as so many charges have been made against Captain Aldham, that he behaved like a gentleman, and if I had been at New Orleans when them cussed cowardly blackguards ill-used him, I'd have left my mark so deep on a few of them, that their clothes would not cover them long.” He told us that at present he had only five negroes left, “but I'm not going to let the black Republicans lay hold of them, and I'm just going to stand up for States' rights as long as I can draw a trigger — so snakes and abolitionists look out.” He was so reduced by starvation, ill-treatment, and sickness in Nicaragua, when Captain Aldham procured his release, that he weighed only 110 pounds, but at present he was over 200 pounds, a splendid betefauve, and without wishing so fine a looking fellow any harm, I could not but help thinking that it must be a benefit to American society to get rid of a considerable number of these class of which he is a representative man. And there is every probability that they will have a full opportunity of doing so.

On the arrival of the train at Columbus, twenty-five miles from Union City, my friend got out, and a good number of men in uniform joined him, which led me to conclude that they had some more serious object than a mere pleasure trip to the very uninteresting looking city on the banks of the Mississippi, which is asserted to be neutral territory, as it belongs to the sovereign State of Kentucky. I heard, accidentally, as I came in the train, that a party of Federal soldiers from the camp at Cairo, up the river, had recently descended to Columbus and torn down a, secession flag which had been hoisted on the river's bank, to the great indignation of many of its inhabitants.

In those border States the coming war promises to produce the greatest misery; they will be the scenes of hostile operations; the population is divided in sentiment; the greatest efforts will be made by each side to gain the ascendency in the State, and to crush the opposite faction, and it is not possible to believe that Kentucky can maintain a neutral position, or that either Federal or Confederates will pay the smallest regard to the proclamation of Governor Magoffin, and to his empty menaces.

At Columbus the steamer was waiting to convey us up to Cairo, and I congratulated myself on the good fortune of arriving in time for the last opportunity that will be afforded of proceeding northward by this route. General Pillow on the one hand, and General Prentiss on the other, have resolved to blockade the Mississippi, and as the facilities for Confederates going up to Columbus and obtaining information of what is happening in the Federal camps cannot readily be checked, the general in command of the port to which I am bound has intimated that the steamers must cease running. It was late in the day when we entered once more on the father of waters, which is here just as broad, as muddy, as deep, and as wooded as it is at Baton Rouge, or Vicksburg.

Columbus is situated on an elevated spur or elbow of land projecting into the river, and has, in commercial faith, one of those futures which have so many rallying points down the centre of the great river. The steamer which lay at the wharf, or rather the wooden piles in the bank which afforded a resting place for the gangway, carried no flag, and on board presented traces of better days, a list of refreshments no longer attainable, and of bill of fare utterly fanciful. About twenty passengers came on board, most of whom had a distracted air, as if they were doubtful of their journey. The captain was surly, the office keeper petulant, the crew morose, and, perhaps, only one man on board, a stout Englishman, who was purser or chief of the victualling department, seemed at all inclined to be communicative. At dinner he asked me whether I thought there would be a fight, but as I was oscillating between one extreme and the other, I considered it right to conceal my opinion even from the steward of the Mississippi boat; and, as it happened, the expression of it would not have been of much consequence one way or the other, for it turned out that our friend w«s of very stern stuff. “This war,” he said, “is all about niggers; I've been sixteen years in the country, and I never met one of them yet was fit to be any thing but a slave; I know the two sections well, and I tell you, sir, the North can't whip the South, let them do their best; they may ruin the country, but they'll do no good.

There were men on board who had expressed the strongest Secession sentiments in the train, but who now sat and listened and acquiesced in the opinions of Northern men, and by the time Cairo was in sight, they, no doubt, would have taken the oath of allegiance which every doubtful person is required to utter before he is allowed to go beyond the military post.

In about two hours or so the captain pointed out to me a tall building and some sheds, which seemed to arise out of a wide reach in the river, “that's Cairey,” said he, “where the Unionists have their camp,” and very soon stars and stripes were visible, waving from a lofty staff, at the angle of low land formed by the junction of the Mississippi and Ohio.

For two months I had seen only the rival stars and bars, with the exception of the rival banner floating from, the ships and the fort at Pickens. One of the passengers told me that the place was supposed to be described by Mr. Dickens, in “Martin Chuzzlewit,” and as the steamer approached the desolate embankment, which seemed the only barrier between the low land on which the so-called city was built, and the waters of the great river rising above it, it certainly became impossible to believe that sane men, even as speculators, could have fixed upon such a spot as the possible site of a great city, — an emporium of trade and commerce. A more desolate woe-begone looking place, now that all trade and commerce had ceased, cannot be conceived; but as the southern terminus of the Central Illinois Railway, it displayed a very different scene before the war broke out.

With the exception of the large hotel, which rises far above the levee of the river, the public edifices are represented by a church and spire, and the rest of the town by a line of shanties and small houses, the rooms and upper stories of which are just visible above the embankment. The general impression effected by the place was decidedly like that which the Isle of Dogs produces on a despondent foreigner as he approaches London by the river on a drizzly day in November. The stream, formed by the united efforts of the Mississippi and the Ohio, did not appear to gain much breadth, and each of the confluents looked as large as its product with the other. Three steamers lay alongside the wooden wharves projecting from the embankment, which was also lined by some flat-boats. Sentries paraded the gangways as the steamer made fast along the shore, but no inquiry was directed to any of the passengers, and I walked up the levee and proceeded straight to the hotel, which put me very much in mind of an effort made by speculating proprietors to create a watering-place on some lifeless beach. In the hall there were a number of officers in United States uniforms, and the lower part of the hotel was, apparently, occupied as a military bureau; finally, I was shoved into a small dungeon, with a window opening out on the angle formed by the two rivers, which was lined with sheds and huts and terminated by a battery.

These camps are such novelties in the country, and there is such romance in the mere fact of a man living in a tent, that people come far and wide to see their friends under such extraordinary circumstances, and the hotel at Cairo was crowded by men and women who had come from all parts of Illinois to visit their acquaintances and relations belonging to the State troops encamped at this important point. The salle a manger, a long and lofty room on the ground floor, which I visited at supper time, was almost untenable by reason of heat and flies; nor did I find that the free negroes, who acted as attendants, possessed any advantages over their enslaved brethren a few miles lower down the river; though their freedom was obvious enough in their demeanor and manners.

I was introduced to General Prentiss, an agreeable person, without any thing about him to indicate the soldier. He gave me a number of newspapers, the articles in which were principally occupied with a discussion of Lord John Russell's speech on American affairs: Much as the South found fault with the British minister for the views he had expressed, the North appears much more indignant, and denounces in the press what the journalists are pleased to call "the hostility of the Foreign Minister to the United States." It is admitted, however, that the extreme irritation caused by admitting the Southern States to exercise limited belligerent rights was not quite justifiable. Soon after nightfall I retired to my room and battled with mosquitoes till I sank into sleep and exhaustion, and abandoned myself to their mercies; perhaps, after all, there were not more than a hundred or so, and their united efforts could not absorb as much blood as would be taken out by one leech, but then their horrible acrimony, which leaves a wreck behind in the place where they have banqueted, inspires the utmost indignation and appears to be an indefensible prolongation of the outrage of the original bite.

SOURCE: William Howard Russell, My Diary North and South, p. 322-32

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Diary of Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: Monday, August 4, 1862

Company I, Greenwood muskets, fired at target one hundred yards. Best string, thirty-seven inches (4 shots); the muskets not so accurate for short ranges as the Enfields; not so well sighted. Possibly the men are somewhat afraid of them is one reason. I keep the men busy to prevent rusting. This target practice seems to interest them very much.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 315

Monday, February 27, 2017

Diary of Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: Monday July 21, 1862

We are target firing now. The Enfields are a little better sighted than the muskets; the muskets have most power and the longest range. Company C does rather the best shooting, Companies E and A coming next.

A zouave at the Flat Top camp found tied to a tree with five bullet holes through him! Naked too! An enemy's cavalry patrol seen two miles outside of our pickets. Secesh, ten or twelve in number.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 307

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Diary of 4th Sergeant John S. Morgan: Wednesday, June 17, 1863

small scouting party went out early A. M. turned over old guns draw enfield rifles. P. M. hard rain.

SOURCE: “Diary of John S. Morgan, Company G, 33rd Iowa Infantry,” Annals of Iowa, 3rd Series, Vol. 13, No. 7, January 1923, p. 491

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Diary of Sergeant George G. Smith: April 12, 1862

Twenty-six days from New Haven, Conn.

On the two following days we were employed in laying out streets, leveling ground and putting up tents. On the 13th I was detailed to get guns off the ship. A squad of 25 or 30 men were detailed to do the work. The guns were the Enfield rifles, made in England, and were said to be captured from blockade runners, and were in the original packafies [sic], 12 in a box. They were in the hold of the ship some 35 or 40 feet below the upper deck and of course had to be lifted Out with blocks and pulleys, as gasolene engines were unknown in those days. We found James Underwood dead on board the ship. He was Fife Major of the 13th Conn. Vols, from Thompson. In the old training days, in my boyhood, he with his fife would always march at the head of the column. I believe the poor man died purely of homesickness, as 1 had conversed with him many times during the voyage and he was very sad, his conversation being always of his home and old friends. Stayed on board all night, and by noon of the 16th had all the guns on board a schooner and came ashore. I was satisfied with sea life for the present and had no regrets.

SOURCE: George G. Smith, Leaves from a Soldier's Diary, p. 8-9

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Diary of Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle: Monday, June 1, 1863

We all went to a review of General Liddell's brigade at Bellbuckle, a distance of six miles. There were three carriages full of ladies, and I rode an excellent horse, the gift of General John Morgan to General Hardee. The weather and the scenery were delightful. General Hardee asked me particularly whether Mr Mason had been kindly received in England. I replied that I thought he had, by private individuals. I have often found the Southerners rather touchy on this point.

General Liddell's brigade was composed of Arkansas troops — five very weak regiments which had suffered severely in the different battles, and they cannot be easily recruited on account of the blockade of the Mississippi The men were good-sized, healthy, and well clothed, but without any attempt at uniformity in colour or cut; but nearly all were dressed either in grey or brown coats and felt hats. I was told that even if a regiment was clothed in proper uniform by the Government, it would become parti-coloured again in a week, as the soldiers preferred wearing the coarse homespun jackets and trousers made by their mothers and sisters at home. The Generals very wisely allow them to please themselves in this respect, and insist only upon their arms and accoutrements being kept in proper order. Most of the officers were dressed in uniform which is neat and serviceable — viz., a bluish-grey frock-coat of a colour similar to Austrian yagers. The infantry wear blue facings, the artillery red, the doctors black, the staff white, and the cavalry yellow; so it is impossible to mistake the branch of the service to which an officer belongs — nor is it possible to mistake his rank. A second lieutenant, first lieutenant, and captain, wear respectively one, two, and three bars on the collar. A major, lieutenant-colonel, and colonel, wear one, two, and three stars on the collar.

Before the marching past of the brigade, many of the soldiers had taken off their coats and marched past the General in their shirt-sleeves, on account of the warmth. Most of them were armed with Enfield rifles captured from the enemy. Many, however, had lost or thrown away their bayonets, which they don't appear to value properly, as they assert that they have never met any Yankees who would wait for that weapon. I expressed a desire to see them form square, but it appeared they were “not drilled to such a manoeuvre” (except square two deep). They said the country did not admit of cavalry charges, even if the Yankee cavalry had stomach to attempt it.

Each regiment carried a “battle-flag,” blue, with a white border, on which were inscribed the names “Belmont,” “Shiloh,” “Perryville,” “Richmond, Ky,” and “Murfreesborough.” They drilled tolerably well, and an advance in line was remarkably good; but General Liddell had invented several dodges of his own, for which he was reproved by General Hardee.

The review being over, the troops were harangued by Bishop Elliott in an excellent address, partly religious, partly patriotic. He was followed by a congress man of vulgar appearance, named Hanley, from Arkansas, who delivered himself of a long and uninteresting political oration, and ended by announcing himself as a candidate for re-election. This speech seemed to me (and to others) particularly ill-timed, out of place, and ridiculous, addressed as it was to soldiers in front of the enemy. But this was one of the results of universal suffrage. The soldiers afterwards wanted General Hardee to say something, but he declined. I imagine that the discipline in this army is the strictest in the Confederacy, and that the men are much better marchers than those I saw in Mississippi.

A soldier was shot in Wartrace this afternoon. We heard the volley just as we left in the cars for Shelbyville. His crime was desertion to the enemy; and as the prisoner's brigade was at Tullahoma (twenty miles off), he was executed without ceremony by the Provost guard. Spies are hung every now and then; but General Bragg told me it was almost impossible for either side to stop the practice.

Bishop Elliott, Dr Quintard, and myself got back to General Polk's quarters at 5 P.M., where I was introduced to a Colonel Styles, who was formerly United States minister at Vienna. In the evening I made the acquaintance of General Wheeler, Van Dorn's successor in the command of the cavalry of this army, which is over 24,000 strong. He is a very little man, only twenty-six years of age, and was dressed in a coat much too big for him. He made his reputation by protecting the retreat of the army through Kentucky last year. He was a graduate of West Point, and seems a remarkably zealous officer, besides being very modest and unassuming in his manners.

General Polk told me that, notwithstanding the departure of Breckenridge, this army is now much stronger than it was at the time of the battle of Murfreesborough. I think that probably 45,000 infantry and artillery could be brought together immediately for a battle.

SOURCE: Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle, Three Months in the Southern States: April-June, 1863, p. 155-9

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Diary of Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle: Tuesday, May 19, 1863

The landlord of the Bowmont House gave a breakfast at 7 A.M. to General Gist and his Staff, to which I also was invited.

Shortly afterwards I was given a seat in a curious little vehicle belonging to Lieutenant Martino, a Spaniard, in the Confederate army. This vehicle caused considerable merriment amongst the soldiers, who called it a chicken-waggon.

We left Jackson with the leading troops about 8 A.M., amidst a great waving of handkerchiefs and showers of flowers, thrown by the few remaining ladies who were still left in that dilapidated place.

The corps under General Gist consisted of three weak brigades, the leading one composed of Georgians and South Carolinians; the next were Texans, under General Ector; and the last were Arkansians, under General M'Nair. General Gist had twelve good-looking Napoleon guns with him (twelve-pounders). The horses were fine animals, and were in wonderful good condition, considering that they had been ten days in the railroad coming from South Carolina.

The troops were roughly but efficiently clothed; their boots were in good order, and all were armed with Enfield rifles.

The weather was very hot, and we were halted to bivouac for the night, at a spot about seventeen miles from Jackson, on the road towards Vicksburg.

The straggling of the Georgians was on the grandest scale conceivable; the men fell out by dozens, and seemed to suit their own convenience in that respect, without interference on the part of the officers. But I was told that these regiments had never done any marching before, having hitherto been quartered in forts and transported by railroad.

The country is much covered with woods, and is sandy, with very little water.

I did not consider that the troops were marched judiciously; they were halted too long at a time, and not often enough. The baggage was carried on country carts pressed into the service.

We bivouacked in the woods near a very pretty house, belonging to a planter called Colonel Robinson. These immense woods make admirable bivouacs.

General State Rights Gist is a South Carolinian, only thirty-two years of age, and although not educated as a soldier, he seems easily to have adapted himself to the military profession. He looks a determined man, and he takes responsibility very coolly. In the early part of the day he was very doubtful as to the exact whereabouts of General Johnston; but about noon a courier arrived, from whom he received important and satisfactory information, otherwise General Gist had made up his mind for some “nasty work” before the junction could be effected. He told me that the present expedition was rather inconvenient to him, as he had only been married three days before he left Charleston. He lent me a magnificent rug, and I slept very comfortably in the open air for the first time since I was in Texas.

SOURCE: Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle, Three Months in the Southern States: April-June, 1863, p. 112-4

Monday, May 30, 2016

Major Charles Fessenden Morse: June 22, 1863

Near Leesburg, June 22, 1863.

I wrote a short note yesterday to let you know my whereabouts and relieve any anxiety you might feel for me; to-day I'll try to give you a few particulars of our movements.*

Friday, the 12th, I left headquarters, ease and luxury. The regiment was still away with the cavalry. However, the camp was standing and about sixty men and two or three officers were there who had been left behind for various reasons, so I had a small command.

That night, orders came to march at daylight. We moved back about three miles towards Acquia Creek, stayed there through the day, and at night started forward again and marched till eight the following morning, halting this side of Dumfries. Sunday, we rested all day while the train of our corps and the Sixth passed by. Monday, we started at three in the morning and marched twenty-three miles under a burning sun to Fairfax C. H., getting into camp about ten P. M. This was a really terrible march; the day was very hot and a great part of the time we were marching side by side with a column of wagons, which raised a dust that was almost choking. Next morning, Tuesday, about eight, the Second Massachusetts and Third Wisconsin made their appearance from their cavalry excursion; they marched into camp covered with dust and dirt, but looking soldierly as ever. All the regiments of the corps that were near by turned out to have a look at them and give them very hearty greetings, for the two old regiments are now pretty well known in the corps.

I had a very pleasant time hearing the accounts of the fight at Beverly Ford; all seemed to think that if they had to fight cavalry only till the end of the war, they would have a very jolly time. Whenever our infantry skirmishers made their appearance, the cavalry left in a hurry, showing a great respect for our Enfields.

A company of the Second and one of the Third Wisconsin, made an attack on about two hundred of the enemy's cavalry who were dismounted and lying behind a stone wall firing their carbines; our men, not numbering more than forty in all, fired one volley, then made a rush, capturing over twenty and finding, at least, as many killed by their shots. Wednesday morning, we marched again to near Drainsville. Thursday, we marched again, reaching Leesburg towards night. All of the corps, except our regiment and the Third Wisconsin with a battery of artillery, remained east of the town; we kept on a mile farther and occupied a fort and strong position on one of the Katoctin Hills.

We are still in this same position, how long to remain, no one here knows. Our army lies stretched away for a number of miles towards Thoroughfare Gap, the Eleventh Corps occupying an important position on our right, its flank touching the Potomac.

We can only surmise whether Lee will attack us here or not; he is moving somewhere in our front but not very near. We have at last had a severe rain storm and the weather is more comfortable. It hailed for about an hour very severely; the hailstones were, at least, as large as rifle bullets; I was riding at the time and could hardly force my horse against the storm; he would rear and kick, and didn't seem to understand at all what was going on.

The battle that I spoke of yesterday proves to have been quite a success for us; we drove the rebels three miles and captured three guns and some prisoners. Our wagon camp is on the field where Ball’s Bluff was fought. I am in command of the regiment now, Major Mudge being on Court Martial. I don’t see anything of my commission yet.
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* The writer had been promoted to be Major of his regiment but had not yet received his commission.

SOURCE: Charles Fessenden Morse, Letters Written During the Civil War, 1861-1865, p. 139-41

Friday, May 27, 2016

Diary of Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle: Monday, May 11, 1863

General Hébert is a good-looking creole.* He was a West-Pointer, and served in the old army, but afterwards became a wealthy sugar-planter. He used to hold Magruder's position as commander-in-chief in Texas, but he has now been shelved at Munroe, where he expects to be taken prisoner any day; and, from the present gloomy aspect of affairs about here, it seems extremely probable that he will not be disappointed in his expectations. He is extremely down upon England for not recognising the South.

He gave me a passage down the river in a steamer, which was to try to take provisions to Harrisonburg; but, at the same time, he informed me that she might very probably be captured by a Yankee gunboat.

At 1 P.M. I embarked for Harrisonburg, which is distant from Munroe by water 150 miles, and by land 75 miles. It is fortified, and offers what was considered a weak obstruction to the passage of the gunboats up the river to Munroe.

The steamer was one of the curious American river boats, which rise to a tremendous height out of the water, like great wooden castles. She was steered from a box at the very top of all, and this particular one was propelled by one wheel at her stern.

The river is quite beautiful; it is from 200 to 300 yards broad, very deep and tortuous, and the large trees grow right down to the very edge of the water.

Our captain at starting expressed in very plain terms his extreme disgust at the expedition, and said he fully expected to run against a gunboat at any turn of the river.

Soon after leaving Munroe, we passed a large plantation. The negro quarters were larger than a great many Texan towns, and they held three hundred hands.

After we had proceeded about half an hour, we were stopped by a mounted orderly (called a courier), who from the bank roared out the pleasing information, “They're a-fighting at Harrisonburg.” The captain on hearing this turned quite green in the face, and remarked that he'd be “dogged” if he liked running into the jaws of a lion, and he proposed to turn back; but he was jeered at by my fellow-travellers, who were all either officers or soldiers, wishing to cross the Mississippi to rejoin their regiments in the different Confederate armies.

One pleasant fellow, more warlike than the rest, suggested that as we had some Enfields on board, we should make “a little bit of a fight,” or at least “make one butt at a gunboat.” I was relieved to find that these insane proposals were not received with any enthusiasm by the majority.

The plantations, as we went further down the river, looked very prosperous; but signs of preparations for immediate skedaddling were visible in most of them, and I fear they are all destined to be soon desolate and destroyed.

We came to a courier picket every sixteen miles. At one of them we got the information, “Gun-boats drove back,” at which there was great rejoicing, and the captain, recovering his spirits, became quite jocose, and volunteered to give me letters of introduction to a “particular friend of his about here, called Mr Farragut;” but the next news, “Still a-fightin’,” caused us to tie ourselves to a tree at 8 P.M., off a little village called Columbia, which is half-way between Munroe and Harrisonburg.

We then lit a large fire, round which all the passengers squatted on their heels in Texan fashion, each man whittling a piece of wood, and discussing the merits of the different Yankee prisons at New Orleans or Chicago. One of them, seeing me, called out, “I reckon, Kernel, if the Yankees catch you with us, they’ll say you're in d----d bad company;" which sally caused universal hilarity.
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* The descendants of the French colonists in Louisiana are called Creoles; most of them talk French, and I have often met Louisianian regiments talking that language.

General Hébert is the only man of education I met in the whole of my travels who spoke disagreeably about England in this respect. Most people say they think we are quite right to keep out of it as long as we can; but others think our Government is foolish to miss such a splendid chance of “smashing the Yankees,” with whom we must have a row sooner or later.

SOURCE: Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle, Three Months in the Southern States: April-June, 1863, p. 87-90

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Saturday, April 30, 1864

The Eleventh Iowa was mustered today for pay. The regiment numbers about six hundred men present for duty, and but few are absent on account of sickness. General McPherson is having his entire corps (the Seventeenth) armed with new Springfield rifles, and our regiment today turned over to the quartermaster the Enfield rifles and old accouterments to draw the new rifles and accouterments. Most of the men feel that the Enfield rifle is better suited to our use than the new one, for it has a bronze barrel, hence easier to keep clean, as the outside does not require extra polishing.

I took a walk this afternoon over Cairo to view the town. There is a great deal of building going on, even if it is one of the biggest mudholes in the State of Illinois. The town may be said to be on stilts, for the buildings rest on posts, ten or twelve feet from the ground, and of course the sidewalks are the same. There are only two or three really nice buildings in the town. But it is a very important place for our armies, as it is the mobilizing point for our army on the Mississippi and the Tennessee rivers.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 184

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Diary of Alexander G. Downing: Saturday, March 21, 1863

The Eleventh Iowa received new guns, the Enfield rifle, and everyone is pleased with the exchange. Receiving orders to move camp, we struck our tents at 3 o'clock p. m. and moved two miles and went into camp in a cottonfield close by the levee just above the town of Lake Providence. On account of the flooding waters we had to travel a distance of four miles to reach the point. General Logan's Division moved up the river about four miles.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 106

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

From the Upper Potomac

SANDY HOOK, Md., Jan. 29. – This morning a squad of Ashby’s Rebel Cavalry made their appearances at Bolivar, accompanied by a section of artillery, which opened on Col. Geary’s regiment.  Our Parrott gun and Enfields soon silenced their battery and drove the Rebels back behind the hill.

Jackson’s main body is concentrating at Charleston.  Informants state that great consternation exists among the Rebels, in consequence of the circulation of reports among them that our whole division is about to cross over, and that Jackson has posted to Charleston to resist our progress.  It is thought here that Jackson will move down nearer to Harper’s Ferry to-night.

– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, February 1, 1862, p. 2

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Kingston, N. C. Taken

NEW YORK, March 25. – Advices per officers of the George Peabody state, according to contrabands, that our forces had taken Kingston, N. C., without sustaining losses.

The Rebel loss – killed and wounded is not fully credited.

Kingston is on the R. R. to Goldsboro.

The Union forces found at Newbern 500 of the finest Enfield rifles, part of the cargo of the Nashville, which brought 3,000.

– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, March 29, 1862, p. 4

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Confederate Arsenal and Armory at . . .

. . . Fayetteville, N. C., may now be said to be in full blast; at least there is nothing pertaining to the Minnie rifle and sabre bayonet that cannot be manufactured there.  A good deal of the machinery and many of the tools are new, and equal to any in the world.  A few days since a large lot of rifles manufactured at the Armory, was sent to the Chief of Ordinance, Richmond, Va.

Besides making new ones and altering old arms, the force at the Armory had been engaged lately in restoring and putting in order several thousand Enfield and Belgian rifles, swords, sabres and bayonets, and also several boxes of pistols received from the Modern Greece, considerably damaged.  They will soon be restored to their original appearance and condition by the industry and skill of the mechanics engaged.

– Published in The Daily Rebel, Chattanooga, Tennessee, August 9, 1862, p. 3