Memoir Chapter 18

MEMOIRS OF THE CIVIL WAR

W. L. TRUMAN


CHAPTER 18 – On the March, Apr 20 to May 16 ’64

April 20th. We moved out behind our brigade about eight o’clock and bid adieu to our temporary home, where we have rested and enjoyed the easy part of a soldier’s life for seventeen days. The weather is warm and the road dusty. As we passed the country homes on the roadside, our noble Southern women, with all their servants were working hard to give every man a good drink of water, many of them gave lunches, as long as they had anything to give. I received a nice lunch, with a piece of pie in it, and was surely thankful, and happy. I do not believe the world has produced a generation of women to equal the women that now rule in the homes of the South. We have marched twelve miles, it is only three o’clock, but we have stopped for today. Have drawn flour and bacon for rations today, instead of meal and beef, we appreciate the change.

April 21st. Started early and marched only ten miles, this has been a warm day, and the roads good, dry and dusty. I called at a farm house to buy something, either butter, chickens, eggs, potatoes, or peas, the good lady had only one dozen eggs, and she gave them to me. God bless our Southern women, they are always working and making great sacrifices for the Southern soldiers. They will give us the last piece of bread, when we ask for food, and do it cheerfully, it seems to me that their example would make a coward brave. I got permission to go on to Gainsville, as our camp was only one mile from town. I spent the night at the beautiful home of my friend Mrs. Betty Harper, with whom I had passed many pleasant hours, at the home of my maiden fair, in July 1863. I was introduced to Miss. Duke, who was visiting Mrs. Harper, and I had a nice time, and a splendid supper.

April 22nd. At breakfast Mrs. Harper introduced me to Miss Howard who was refined cultured, and made the most of life possible during these awful days. After a good breakfast, which was an item worthy of interest in the diary of a soldier, Mrs. Harper, Miss Howard, and I walked up to Main St, to see my battery pass through. It soon passed, and my friends admired the fine appearance of the men, and horses, and guns. The 1st Mo. Brig. soon followed and Mrs Harper and Miss Howard, as well as hundreds of others had the satisfaction of looking upon the most noted Brigade of Infantry in the Southern armies. A brigade of men that had never failed to drive the enemy in their front, when they went after them, even thought he enemy were in strong breastworks, with a formidable abbatis in their front. Col. Mc Gowan Note 1 had a dress parade with his regiment, for the benefit of the ladies of Gainsville. I saw the ladies back to their home and bid them adieu, with many good wishes and bright smiles for my safty, and speedy return with victory. We never met again.

We crossed Little Tombigby river at Gainsville, and marched about fifteen miles before going into camp. We have passed through a beautiful section of country, it is rich and in a high state of cultivation, corn, peas, potatoes, are largely planted to furnish supplies for our armies, winter wheat looks well, cane and sorgum, for milasses is abundant on every farm. The negroes look to be cheerful, and happy and perfectly contented. They seem to have plenty of the necessities of life, they are better clothed than our soldiers as a general thing. We cannot keep our cloths nice very long, as we go through mud and rain and sleep on the wet ground, and seldom have a complete change of cloths, and for weeks no time to wash and dry our only suit.

April 23rd. Broke camp at five o’clock this morning and marched sixteen miles by two o’clock and camped for the day at Pleasant Ridge, a nice village, with a fine male academy. The country up to this place is beautiful, we are in Green county. This is a rich, healthy country, and everything, even in these times looks prosperous. Had a shower of rain on us about eleven o’clock, which settled the dust, it was a blessing. We were as usual welcomed along our rout by the women, with plenty of good water and lunches. Oh, how we do love our true women, we love to fight for them. It is sorrow unspeakable for such women to be held under Yankee rule, as they are in some parts of our Southland.

Sunday, April 24th. Moved at five thirty this morning and marched fourteen miles by one o’clock and camped. Had a heavy rain last night and the roads were bad for our infantry. This morning was quite cold, but pleasant in the middle of the day. I wish we could have remained in camp and had gospel privieliges this Lord’s day.

Monday, April 25th. My battery took the lead today, and the brigade followed. Marched fifteen miles and camped by a fine stream of water, and I with many others took a swim, and it was enjoyable, being the first of the season. We passed through a tolerable good country today, I noticed many good fields of wheat, which will be ready for the harvest in two or three weeks. We are now seven miles from Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Tuesday, April 26th. 1864. Got an early start with my battery in front, when we arrived at the bridge across the Black Warrier river at the edge of the city we were halted to let our 1st, Mo. brigade of infantry pass to the front, and lead in the march through the City, I walked ahead of the Brigade into town and got a good position and watched them pass in fine military style with Gen. Cockrell’s headquarters brass band in the lead. We seemed to take the City by surprise as there were not many ladies out. If it had been known, what hour we were expected the whole City would have turned out. We passed through and went into camp near the Military Institute, and not far from the river, the brigade camped not far off. James Bybee and I went back to the City this evening and took in part of every street and the fine residences and business houses. This City was once the Capital of the State, the old State house is now owned by the Baptist, and is used for a female College. There are several other female schools, among them Mrs. Staffords Female Institution, a Presbyterian school of high grade and standing, where my Alabama girl was educated. I called at Woodruffs book store and bought a dictionary and Harveys book on courtesy, paying five dollars each in Confederate money, which was very reasonable. Many of our infantry boys went in to take a swim in the Warrior river and two were drowned, although they were said to be good swimmers. One gun of my battery was hauled to the place and fired several shots over the place where they went down, one of the bodies came up and was secured. The other one had floated some distance and was found by dragging. This was a sad affair to us all.

We had a good camping place, plenty of shade and good water for drinking and bathing.

Wednesday, April 27th. The most important as well as the most delightful duty or occupation that I have been engaged in to-day was to write a letter to one of the fairest of the daughters of Alabama, which incapacitates me for other earthly duties, until I reason out where I am.

Thursday April 28th. Policed the camp and placed our guns in battery. I went with many others to take a swim in the Black Warrior River, I swam across and back again. The river is about three hundred yards wide, the falls are just below our camp which is the head of navigation on the Big Black Warrior. There are two large fish traps under the falls and as the water pours over it falls into the traps, and all the large fish that come over fall into these traps, and are taken out by wagon loads. We have fish instead of beef, for rations occasionally. I am told the owners of the traps furnish all the hotels, boarding houses, and markets with fish in great abundence, during the fishing season. I went down and took a look at the traps, and could see big fish with the water falling on them, from a height of ten or fifteen feet. We had a severe hail storm this evening accompanied by heavy rain fall. Our infantry and briagde are without tents and fared badly, our baggage was shipped from Lauderdale to meet us at some place, and our brigade boys will doubtless have a hard time before they get theit tents and clothing as well as ourselves. We battery boys have good tarpaulins and were safely housed under them this evening during the storm.

Friday, April 29th. Our whole command was reviewed this morning on Pikes st. in Tuscaloosa, by Gen. French, and Col. Hodge, of the President staff. As my battery enetered the city this morning, a very noted incident took place, which did us battery boys so much good that we will never cease to remember the sweet girl that did it. Oh, I do wish that I knew her name and family, I will never forgive myself for neglecting to get her name. Our battery had haulted on the street in front of her house, for a few minutes only, and she sent her servant boys, two of them, with eight bottles of home made wine with waiter and glasses, and told the servants to give it to the privates and non-commision officers, the servants failed to understand the young lady’s orders and went to the officers at the head of our battery, but before the captain and lieutenant got hold of the bottles the sweet sensibel girl noticed their mistake and called them back and made them pour out and divide it among us privates, not a drop was left for our officers, she had other servants bringing us arms full of vegetables, and distributing them among us. Our officers were so mortified over the circumstances that the Captain ordered the battery to move forward before we got many vegetables, but the young lady would not be out done so made her servants run after us and hand the vegetables to us as we moved off. It was a great victory for us boys and the young lady. She accomplished her object amidst the joy and shouts and praises of every member of the First Mo. Battery, except the officers. This was the first impartial all round, good solid common sense young lady we run across during the war, her name should go down in history.

I went over this evening to the Military University to see the cadets drill, they did well and looked nicely, they were reviewed while I was there by Gens. French, Cockrell, Ector, and Col. Hodge, they fired a salute of seven guns, in honor of the reviewing officers. I noticed that No. 3 on one gun neglected to serve vent which might have proved fatal to No. 1. The University is a beautiful place, well shaded by giant live oaks. How I would like to spend four years at school here I abandoned the school room nearly four years ago, to become a soldier and I greatly feel the sacrifice. But it is written, “All things work together for good to them that love God”. The 1st Mo. Reg. of Infantry had a match drill with the cadets today, and won the prize. Gen. French, Col. Hodge, and Gen. Ector were the Judges. First Mo. has had many match drills, was never beaten.

April 30th. Saturday. Weather fine, we had muster at nine o’clock. My friend Kirk and I went to the city and wandered around all day, took dinner at Mrs. Gould hotel, price $5.00 per meal. We went to the city cemetary and looked at many beautiful and costly monuments, and read the many heart felt words recorded thereon. Hundreds of soldiers have been buried here, some from every Southern state. There is a short cave right in the midst of the cemetary, you walk down a small hollow and then go right into the mouth if the cave which leads under the hill about thirty feet, the wall over head is about six and a half feet high, the roof and wall are of glittering white stone like glass quite smooth in most places, and there are thousands of names written on the roof and wall. Walter Kirkpatrick, Company F 1st Mo. Infantry and W.L. Truman 1st Mo. Artillery, C.S.V. were left on the roof. A large flowing stream of clear cold water gushed from one side past across the whire marble like floor, and disappeared on the opposite side, there was a tin cup for the thirsty to drink. There will be a grand concert at the Court House price of tickets $5.00.

Sunday, May 1st. 1864. Today one year ago I was on the hard fought battle field of Port Gibson, Miss. where Gen. Bowen with his small division attempted to hold back Grants invading army, some five or six times larger than his own numbers. We held the field from daylight until late in the evening, then slowly retired two or three miles, south of bayou Pierre. Many of Missouri’s sons sacrifced their lives on that hotly contested battle field. We are battleing far from home, but among the best people on earth.

Monday, May 2nd. The battery was inspected by Maj. Storrs this morning at nine o’clock. There has been a change made in military affairs, all the artillery is now seperated from the infantry, and placed in battallions of some four to six batteries, to each battallion, and commanded by one officer ranking as Major of Artillery, and so on up to General. Each Brigade of Infantry used to have at least one battery under the command of the brigade general. Our 1st Mo. Battery was always attached to the 1st. Mo. Brig., until now, and we may from now on be seperated in battle from our brave old brigade, which does not suit us at all, neither is our brigade willing to swap battery, for any other in battle. But we will all do our duty in whatsoever position we are placed. I am doing guard duty today, over our guns and cassons. The cannoneers always keep a guard over their guns and caissons, to see that no one interferes with the amunition or guns. At night an enemy could come and spike the guns, and by sodering make them useless until sent to the proper place to have the spike drilled out. The drivers stand guard over their horses.

The state of Missouri held and election today to elect her seven representives to the Confederate States Congress. Every Missourian east of the Mississippi river and in the Trans-Mississippi Department of the Confederacy is entitled to vote, and I suppose to vote seven times as I have done today. This was the first time I ever voted and I am voting for men to represent me in a new goverment, a goverment that is to be strickly Democratic, wherefore I am offering if need be, my life for its establishment. I believe if the state of Missouri had the privelage to decide which side she would take that she would go over whelming for the Confederacy, my first vote this morning was cast for Urial Wright, of the 1st district, N.L. Norton, 2nd district, Clark, 3rd, district A.H. Conroe 4th district, G.G. Vest, 5th district, T.W. Freeman, 6th district, and R.H. Hatcher, 7th district. I suppose our dear state of Mo. will forgive us boys for pretending to live and have our domicile in her seven districts at the same time, and voting in all of them on the same day, and at the same time being a wanderer a thousand miles away from the said districts. This is alright my dear Missouri, you are in the Confederacy, and we your sons are determine that you shall be represented. We feel sure that you will, bless us for upholding your honor, on the battlefield and at the ballot box, while your right to act and speak is surpressed by the invaders for the time being. We hope to gain our independence and set you free.

Thursday, May 3rd. Our 1st. Mo. Brig. received orders last night to be ready to leave this morning, for the mountains, some sixty miles north of us to hunt and capture some deserters. Quite a number are said to be in those mountains,. The Brig. left early this morning led by Gen. Cockrell our battery was left behind. I believe this is the first time our Brig. ever moved to hunt or attack an enemy without taking our battery with it. It was thought our guns could not be used in the mountains. I wanted to take a musket and go with them badly, but was not allowed to do so. We had a squad drill today. Two or three of our bad boys have been trying to steal an old man’s grease hog, that he kept in a close pen, near his house but the hog is guarded closely by his owner, and they failed to get Mr. Hog until last night. It happened in this way, we have a few good singers in the company and joined by two or three from the brigade, with a few musical instruments, are in the habit of serrenading the young ladies, they are generally invited in and given cake and wine, and they have a good time generally. The gentleman who owns the fat hog has two grown daughters, and the musical crowd serranaded his girls last night, and while he was in the house, for a short while, enjoying a glass of wine with the serranading party, the watchful thieves, who were looking for just such an oppotunity, and all unknown to the boys in the house, got possession of the hog, and his where abouts was never heard of by its owner afterwards. When the gentleman discovered his loss, he reproached the serranading party, as a accomplices in the crime. They were uncerrimoniously dismissed and returned to camp in grief. But when the facts leaked out upon the musical crowd, such shouts of laughter throughout the company was never heard before, at their expense. It was too bad that the innocent pleasure makers rested under such a cloud. The Brigade left for the mountains this morning.

Wednesday. May 4th. Received orders to build arbors over our caissons and for ourselves, as we have no tents to shelter us from the sun. It is rumored that we have orders to leave tomorrow, which I hope is true if we have to go to the front to meet Sherman, the sooner we get there, while the weather is good, the better for us. Several members of my detachment were ordered to attend the court marshal trial of private Skully today, for larceny, but the trial was put off until tomorrow morning. We had squad drill today.

May 5th. Had the usual squad drill. I wrote a letter this morning for one of my mess mates, as he cannot write. We received orders this morning to leave tommorow, but the orders were soon countermanded for the present. Private Skulley’s trial came off today, the case was taken under advisement, and we may not learn the result, for some days.

Friday, May 6th. Weather fine, we have a standing order to be ready to leave at a moments notice, so no passes are given to go any-where. Five, P.M. orders have come for Gen. Ector’s Brig. and Artillery to move in the morning.

Saturday, May 7th. We were on the move early this morning, leaving perhaps forever, another one of our brief temporary abiding places. One to be treasured in our minds, for its beauty and culture of its people. The sweet Indian name Tuscaloosa with its broad shady streets, its lovely homes, its many schools, its many, many noted citizens, including the gallant Maj. Gen. Rhodes, of the Va. army; we bid them all adieu and go to the front to meet our common enemy. We marched seventeen miles by three o’clock, and encamped. Weather warm and roads dusty, have not heard from our Brig., but hope we will get together before we come upon the enemy, as we love to be together in a fight. Provisions are scarse along our rout I was lucky enough to buy four gallons of cow peas today, paying $1.00 per gallon.

Sunday, May 8th. Left camp at sunrise and marched sixteen miles by twelve o’clock, and camped. We have passed through a rather poor country. Early this morning as we passed through a village called Scotsville, containing a fine cotton factory, we crossed a covered bridge some fifty or more yards long, at the edge of the village. It is sad to see that no regard is given to the Lord’s day, as such, I think it would be better for our cause if our Generals would keep the Lord’s day holy, when possible. We could have done so today, by marching thirty miles on yesterday. Then the different Regimental Chaplains could have preached to us. I think our head officers should see that the souls of their brave men are not neglected, especially on the Lord’s day, “No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly”.

Monday, May 9th. Got an early start and marched about sixteen miles by twelve o’clock, then haulted two hours to rest, and feed our horses. At two o’clok boots and saddles were sounded, by our bugler Mike Doolen, and we were soon on the move again, going five miles further, and encamping for the night. We passed through Centerville, the county seat of Biibs county. It is a small place containing about one hundred inhabitants, with one church. Going into this place we crossed Cahauby river, on a covered bridge more than one hundred yards long. The country immediately south west of Centerville is good. We have glorious news today from our Va. army, we have beaten the enemy badly there.

Tuesday, May 10th. Resumed our march about sunrise and after marching about four miles, reached Monticella, the county seat of Shelby county, a village of about two hundred inhabitants. On the R.R. we put our guns and caissons aboard of the cars, and sent our horses overland to Jacksonville, some eighty miles distant, at which place we propose to meet them. Ector’s Brig. goes by rail also to that place, also Gen. Sayer’s Brigade, but they are waiting transportation. We may not leave until the Infantry are ready to go. Monticella has a foundry, casting large and small kettles, and all kind of cooking untensils, such as the army, especially, are bound to have. It makes our mouths water to think of the good things once cooked in such vessels. Horse shoes are made here by machinery also.

Wednesday, May 11th. 1864. We had a hard cold rain last night, quite cold for this season of the year. It seems that we will not get away from this place today, the Infantry are awaiting transpotation. Our R.R. are not able to do the business required of them. I have been in bed most of the day to keep warm. Our old 1st Mo. Brig. has not come up, nor have we heard from them.

Thursday, May 12th. It was real cold last night, but the sun rose clear this morning, and we will now have cheerful weather. Our train really moved up a little today, about eight miles to Lime station, it has the right name, as thousands of barrels of lime are made and shipped at this station. About fifty people live here, all engaged in the lime business. This R.R. we are on which goes by Jacksonville, Ala. and on to Near river, Ga. was intended to go from Rome to Selina, but is not completed to either place there is also a branch road leaving this station for Decata, Ala. but has only eighteen miles completed. We are to remain here until another train takes a pull at us. The country here is low and thinly settled.

Friday, May 13th. 3 o’clock, P.M. We are still resting here at Lime station. James Talbot and I walked out about a few hundred yards, and I bought a canteen of milk, from a nice good woman, a preacher’s wife, she only charged me half price, twenty-five cents. There was to my mind, a disgraceful affair a few moments ago. A young girl about fifteen years of age was passing along with a boquet in her hand, when an old woman of little or no respectability, made some insulting remark to her, and the young lady dropped her boquet and flew at the old woman, like a wild cat, and such a tussle they did have for quite a while, slapping, scratching, and hair pulling. The old woman seemed taken by surprise, and was on the defensive until the young girl’s strength began to give out, when she be came the aggressor, and was getting the best of the fight, when the young girl broke loose and retreated a few steps. Then it was, the young girl’s mother came upon the field, and behold it was the good sweet woman from whom I had bought my milk, the preacher’s wife. The old woman gave her a slap, but the blow was not returned, but she gave the old woman a good lecture, and left her victor of the field. The daughter is good looking. There were a great many soldiers present, who were disgusted while a large number enjoyed the fight.

Four P.M. We left Lime Station, and soon passed the Shelby Springs, twelve miles distant, thence through a little place called Collonbeach or Cullembeach, the latter I think is the name, thence across the Coochia river on a covered bridge about four hundred yards long, which is defended by a few soldiers in stockades and rifle pits. From there we reached Alpine station, about dark and remained about two hours, I went to a house near by, and got my canteen full of good milk. The noble hearted woman would not let me pay her any thing for it, doubtless milk and a little bread was all that she has, for she and her childred to live on, yet her true patriotic heart, was ready to divide with the soldiers, perhaps she gave all that she had for her breakfast. This is a small matter like the widow’s mite, and God only knows, what sacrifice these little things are to the giver. For our men are all in the army, and tens of thousands of them were poor men when the war commenced, hundreds and thousands have been killed and disabled for life, and the balance still fighting, while their precious ones are at home struggling hard for mere existence. It makes us so sad to see the awful forlorn appearance of hundreds of homes, the half will never be told, of the sufferings undergone by the women and children of the South, duting our great war of Southern Independence. Oh, if it could be told, they whole world would be shocked and horrified at the awful story.

Saturday, May 14th 1864. We arrived here at Blue Mountain station about four o’clock this morning, and unloaded our guns and our horses being here ready for us, we hitched up and drove out about three miles and camped for the night. James Baker and I took a walk out of camp some two miles, we stopped at a nice farm house but no one answered our knock. We noticed a fine piano in the parlor, every one seemed to be out. We left and continued our walk, and meeting a servant girl about a quarter of a mile from the house, we asked her who lived at the place, and if any one was at home, she told us her young mistress was at home, we told the girl that we intended to call again, as we passed back, and get her mistress to play some for us on her piano. We did so, were cordially received and spent a hour very plesantly, she gave us quite a treat in the way of music. We left without introducing ourselves, she invited us to call again. We were sorry that we acted so thoughtlessly by not introducing our-selves, her name was Miss. Mondies.

Sunday, May 15th. Left camp a little after sunrise and marched twenty miles, passing through Jacksonville this morning I called at Mr. Mondies and got my canteen full of milk, soldiers will beg for buttermilk, knowing that people seldom sell this kind of milk, and we find that they have scarcely any, and give or sell it at half price sweet milk, we are thankful to get any kind. Jacksonville is a nice town of about seven hundred inhabitants, the county seat of Calhoun county. We passed through two other small places, the first was called Cross Plains, containing about seven hundred inhabitants, the other called Bager, containing some thirty inhabitants. We are thirty-one miles from Rome, it is reported there is fighting near there, we are marching hard to get there.

Monday, May 16th. Started before sunrise marched twenty miles, and haulted to rest and feed our teams. Ector’s Brig, is in front and are making fast time, they are a fine set of men, and Missourians can depend on them in the time for need. Resumed our march at two o’clock and arrived at Rome, Ga. about seven P.M. We crossed the line into Ga. this morning, so are out of the Blue Mountain valley, it is a rich valley and rather thickly settled, but from the Ga. to Rome, the country is good and nicely improved. The first town we arrived at in Ga. was Cave Springs, a nice town of three hundred inhabitants. We have orders to cook two days rations, and load our battery on the cars, and we will go to the front near Kingston tomorrow. Gen. Ector’s texas boys will go also.

 


Notes

      1. This is probably Col. James McCown of the 3rd & 5th MO Infantry.

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