W. L. TRUMAN
CHAPTER 17 – Pine Cone War, Feb-Apr ’64 – an Alabama Interlude
Mar. 1st. Hard at work policing our camp, and getting it in good condition, it appears we may stay here quite a while. Will try and get a leave of absence for two or three days, to get out to my Soldier Home, and see the sweetest girl on earth.
Mar 4th. Helped to put a crib to put the corn in for our battery horses. Went over to the 1st. Mo. Reg. to see my friend Walter Kirkpatrick, I am always delighted to see him. I found him cheerful, and happy as usual, and very anxious to get out to see our soldier home-folks. I told him I had a promise of a pass, for twenty-four hours, tomorrow morning, he told me our host had been to headquarters, and asked General Cockrell for a guard, to protect his stock at his plantation, some four miles from our camp, and asked the General to let him have Kirkpatrick for one. The General sent an order for two men to Col. Riley of the 1st. Mo. Infantry, naming Kirkpatrick as one, provided he was willing for Kirk to go, but for some reason the Colonel, was not willing to send Kirkpatrick, as one. Kirk was very much disappointed.
Mar. 5th, 1864. Received a pass to go out of camp and remain until Monday morning at my soldier home. I arrived early and had a royal welcome and a joyful time, with my girl. Time flies rapidly while out here. I had not been here long before my friend, Kirk and Mr. Hornbeck came, to serve as guards. Col. Riley changed his mind and sent Kirkpatrick, as one of the guards, as requested. He was happy as he will have a good time when not on guard. We had dinner and supper, that was hard to surpass, everything nice and pleanty of it. The linen, silver-ware and china, were of the finest, and the host and hostess and three beautiful girls, and trained servants, were all that the most royal guest could require. My friend and I never had the opportunity of enjoying such royal hospitality, during our soldier life in the South, except when at our soldier home. I kept her at the piano to night for more than half an hour, I believe, but how short it seemed to me. I cannot measure time while in her presence, and hope that I may never try to do so. Her songs and music were impressive and made me feel like a new man, and that is precious for many reasons. My friend told me that, I was wearying her, and I quit and came with him to the plantation, where Mr. Hornback is now on guard, and we are now in a nice house that the overseer formally occupied. We have a nice bed and I am sitting by a good fire writing these notes.
Sunday, Mar 6th. Friend Kirk and I went up to breakfast and then to church near by, and back to dinner. After my girl played several sacred songs for us, I reluctantly bid her and my friend adieu, and returned to camp.
Mar. 25th. Battery and Brigade still in camp at Demopolis, Gen. Johnston, Polk and other officers high in rank, reviewed us, and all the troops at this place. It was a fine day and many citizens were out, my girl also. Had a royal lunch with her and family. Everything went off nicely, and the troops looked fine. The Missourians received much praise. Presidant Davis, in passing through the city reviewed the Brig. and Battery, and made a short address while sitting on his horse, to the Missourians, complimenting them highly on their wonderful record, and said, “If I had fifty thousand such men, I would conquer a peace in thirty days.” We believe it could be done, if they were placed under the command of Old Pap.
Mar. 30th. Nothing of interest in camp. Sherman has left Meridian. His expedition from Memphis under Gen. Smith was routed by Gen. Forrest, and fled back to Memphis. We will leave tomorrow or the next day for Lauderdale Springs, Miss.
April 3rd. Arrived today within one and a half miles of Lauderdale and are in camp near the brigade on the RR. it is a very nice location, plenty of good water and wood, and shade.
April 5th. Policed our camp and pitched our tents. I was on guard last night. The man Skully was tied up to the piece yesterday, and the Capt. has not released him yet. Some of the men untied him last night and let him go to the mess and sleep, and tied him back this morning. I suppose the Captain knew it, although it is said the Captain thought he was tied all night.
April 6th. Capt. Guibor appointed Tyler, Phillips, and Perks to the corporal last night. Tyler was a memeber of Wade’s old battery, (one of the) others was from Guibore’s and the other Landis’ old battery. (We) have built us a mess table and built an arbor over it.
April. 7th. Sargent Murphy and I visited Lauderdale Springs, and found some eight or ten springs in close proximity, all located upon one quarter of an acre of low marshy ground, always covered with some water. Have a plank walk from one well to the other, they have been bored out, and curbing put down, with a pump. I took a few sips of water from each well, and every one had a different taste. These waters ought to cure many complaints. All of the buildings are old, and in need of repairs, and seem to have been built to accomodate visitors, and patients. There is room enough to accomodate several hundred; this place has been used as a hospital until very recently, when it was moved several miles away, on account of a better location. The soldier’s graveyard is about a quarter of a mile away, and contains about one thousand graves. Some without boards, and some with names written with a pencil on a little board. No fence around the graves, everything is distroyed and neglected during these awful times, with the Southern people. Everything is neglected that the army and soldiers may be cared for, as everything depends on them, and it is hard to keep the men fed and clothed. In spite of all they can do, ther is great suffering and want in the army, as well as at home. The men that bury our dead from our hospitals, are generally hired labor and have but little interest in marking the graves, and the real interested ones, are far away in distress, and often do not know that dear ones are dead, for weeks and months after they are laid in a soldier’s grave. They cannot come to see about their graves, and it so often happens all traces are lost. We noticed that about every state in the Confederacy was represented in that graveyard. The enemy passed through here, about one year ago, and burnt up all the stores and depot building, the country is broken somewhat and tolerable poor, it is a pine wood section, but thickly settled with real good wholesoul people.
April. 8th. Thanksgiving day. President Davis has set apart today for fasting & prayer, and called upon the people of the Confederacy, to humble themselves before our God, and ask for mercy upon our enemies and upon ourselves, and to help us establish the principles of Self Government, for which we are fighting, and to bear the suffering, and sorrow, and mourning that is now everywhere in our Southland, for His name sake. The sacrifice of so many of our best and bravest men in battle, and by desease in camp.
April 9th. John Wharton and I went over to the Brigade this morning to see friends. My freind Kirk was at church, I went there, heard a good sermon and had a good time with my friend.
April 10th. Murphy and I walked out to the Springs, there was preaching there in one of the buildings. This is Sunday, many ladies were out, they never hear preaching except by army chaplains, and they avail themselves of every oppotunity to hear the Word.
April 11th. For some reason no one can satisfactorily explain, furloughs are being issued to the Mo. troops. We cannot go home and but few of us can use them, my battery was allowed twelve, and we made two drawings. First round was one for every twenty-five men, second round, was one for every ten men, I neglected to write down the names of the men that drew furloughs and where they went to spend them. I know that I failed to draw one, I could have spent one by going to my Soldier Home, and resting in the sunshine of its peace, and comforts. We have field drill today,. I wrote a letter to G.S. Morris of New Ark, Mo., but who is now is the Va. army.
April 13th. Policed our camp, and park. Maj. Hatcher of the 7th Congressional District made us a speech this evening at the Captain’s tent. He is a candidate from that district and solicits the suffrage of the Mo. troops, that he may represent them, and their suffering people at home in the Congress of the Confederate States, at Richmond, Va.
April 14th. After morning drill was over, I went over to Capt. Cobb’s Alabama battey, called by us Missourians for some not recorded cause “The Wooden Battery, to attend preaching and heard a good sermon, went over to the brigade at night and heard another good sermon. Our chaplains are faithful servants, or soldiers of the cross, and keep the gospel always before the boys and they love and honor those true an d faithful men, they bringing thousands to Christ. The gospel makes our boys so much better soldiers in every way, it seems that the large majority of the men in the 1st, Mo. Brig. are professed Christians. Does not the secret of their noted powers, lie herein?
April 15th. Policed camp and park. Had drilland attended church.
April 16th. Capt. Guibore had something stolen from his mess kit last night, by some one, not a member of our company, and he has had a guard now over his tent. We think it looks small, the guard feels humiliated. It often happens in the army, that your hired man at home, becomes your lord and master. Capt. Guibore seems to be a good easy weak man, he is in bad health, and looks feeble. We have never seen him under fire, and know not just how to measure him yet. I am speaking for Wade’s battery men. We have not been under fire since we consolidated with Guibore’s and Landis’ batteries at Demopolis, where Guibore took command.
April 17th. Sunday. Had inspection at nine o’clock, then I went for Kirkpatrick and we had a pleasant walk through the beautiful forrest, and gathered many beautiful flowers and had several long rests under the shade of the lovely trees clothed with the garb of joyful springtime. The war has greatly humbled our people, and besides the loss of their men, where ever the enemy has trodden our soil, he has left the trail of uncivilized warfare by burning the homes of the people and carrying away all kinds of property without permission, and by doing so has intensified the suffering of innocent women and children, by throwing them as objects of charity, upon a suffering and already impoverished South, but God be thanked, everywhere those homeless suffering ones, have been received with open, bleeding hearts, and cared for as best they could. God only will ever know, how the Southern women suffered, that were so unfortunate as to be thrown within the enemies lines.
April 18th. All the troops of Frensh’s division that are here were reviewed a nine o’clock by Gov. Clark of this state. Many ladies were present and a salute of five guns was fired by the “Wooden Battery”. Our brigade made a fine appearance as usual, we battery boys had on our best cloths, our horses, harnesses, and guns, were in the best condition, the six fine horses on my gun are hard to surpass. Our battery and brigade have had great fun during the past week, fighting sham battles, with Ector’s Texas Brig, each side would gather piles of pine burrs during the day, as we were camped amidst pines, and at night, the officers would take command, form their lines of battle, each man armed with a pine torch in one hand and a haversack full of burrs, or a pile of burrs close by, were ready at command to light the burrs and throw them at the opposing line. The burrs would blaze like they had been soaked in turpentine and as thousands of them were sailing through the air at once on a dark night, the illumination was grand. As those blazing burrs fell into the opposing lines, they were immediately snatched up, and came sailing back again, only to be returned the second and even third time before they were consumed. The tremendous yelling that was carried on, made the woods ring for miles and miles around; the fruits of victory were the mess kits of the opponents, which were generally held until late the next day, when the owner was required to take off his hat, and politely ask for the loan of his kit, the victors of today were often the borrowers of tomorrow. To get mad over your loss made maters worse as Gen. Gates learned to his sorrow, when he lost his kit one night, when he got ready to beg for it, it was returned. In these battles we were all equals, and the rules of the engagements had to be carried out by officers, as well as privates. This showed the independent spirit of the Southern soldier, he knew no superiors, when from under his military oath. No men were more obedient to every command of their officers than the Missouri and Texas, and I am [to] say the Southern soldiers in general. All of us 1st. Mo. Battery boys agreed to fall in line tonight and march to the Captain’s headquarters, and took the oath to fight for forty years, or to the end of the war, we are here until the end, which may come to some of us poor fellows in the next battle. We seldom come out of a battle without the loss of one man or more in our battery.
April 19th. I am detailed for guard duty today. Have received orders to get ready to move tomorrow, our destination is said to be Tuscaloosa Ala. We are ordered to send all of our baggage to the rear, I packed my knapsack with my best cloths, books and other things that I thought I could fare without until we got to our stopping place again. Alas, I never saw my clothes again.