In April 1861, throughout the state of Missouri, where I had lived all my life (being at that time in my 20th year), there was great excitement all over the state. The war. was known by the Northern men as the War of the Rebellion and by the Southern men as a War for State’s Rights had begun. The Southern States claimed that under the Constitution of the United States they had a right to seceed from the Union when they thought that their civil rights were being taken from them, and that their institutions were in jeopardy by continuing to remain in the Union, and that they had a right to seceed and set up an independent government. States had seceeded at that time and had formed a government to be known as The Confederate States of America.
About that time an agreement had been entered into between General Price on the part of the State of Missouri, Price being the General in command of the state guards, and General Harney, who was in command of the Federal forces in Missouri. These men were to use their forces to maintain peace within the state. For this reason General liarney was relieved of his command, and General Lyons was appointed to take his place.
About the 17th day of April 1861 there were two companies raised in DeKalb County, Missouri, and I joined the company that was raised in Maysville with Robert A. Hewitt, an old Mexican soldier, as Captain.
There was a rendezvous at St. Joseph under the command of M. Jeff Thompson, who was in a camp known as Camp Hiley. Our two companies were ordered to join M. Jeff Thompson at St. Joseph. So on about the 17th of April we made a start for St. Joseph, going by way of Stewartsville to take the train.
We arrived at the depot a little after dark and waited for the train. Soon the train came and the men were lined up on the platform ready to board the cars, and it looked as though we were going to have trouble with the conductor. He said we could not go unless we paid our fare. The officers told him he had better just take us on without any trouble, as we were going to St. Joseph and did not intend to pay anything for our ride. After a little conversation the conductor consented to take us on. We all got aboard the cars, and it was not long before we were speeding toward St. Joseph.
On the road we got the rumor — I do not think it was one of those famous Camp rumors that we got so familiar with during the long years that followed — but a rumor was passed along among the boys that when we arrived in St.
Joseph we would most likely have a fight with the Dutch who were expected to be at the depot in force. Some estimated them to be six hundred strong. So we all loaded our guns and were ready for the prey, feeling satisfied that one of us was equal to at least ten Dutchmen.
I shall never forget my feelings as we neared the depot. I was satisfied from what I had heard that we would have a battle and in the night at that. I had a little rifle, a big knife and a double barrel pistol, all of which I got into a handy position, so that when there was an attack made I could fire my gun and pistol and then get my knife and go
in. I thought that was the way they did in the army, and I belonged to the army, and was on the march too, and woe to the fellow that showed fight!
Well we got to the depot and there was not a Dutchman in sight. We went out to Camp Hiley and went into the camp under Jeff Thompson. We stayed there two days and two nights. The agreement of Price and Harney was that all State’s Guards should be disbanded except one regiment at St. Louis and one at Jefferson City. So we were ordered home and went. The companies were disbanded and we all went to work at our regular business. Soon after this the States’ Rights Party raised a States’ Rights Flag at Maysville. I was there that day and saw the crowd. It was a very large and enthusiastic crowd. Several speeches were made, and they were southern. The flag was raised on a pole seventy-five feet high – a flag about thirty feet long and twelve feet wide. Everything went off fine, and we had it our own way that day.
In about ten days the Union Party had a flag raising.’ They had distinguished speakers from abroad, James H. Birch, Sample Orr and others. They had a flag pole one hundred and twenty-five feet long.
Our companies were called together and were out on the prairie drilling. We were there. The officers said to keep peace.
Well they got ready to raise their flag, and started it up. The flag wound round the pole, and so they lowered it and tried it again. It did as before and did the same way the third time. Some of our boys who were there said the flag was too proud to wave over so black a set as they. Then they took sticks and stuck them into the flag and sent it up that time and it floated all right. This being over, the people began to go home.
The companies were then marched into town and formed in front of the hotel. I. N. Shambaugh was making a speech when
a shower of rain came up. The companies were ordered into the Court house to get out of the rain. As we were about to go in a Union man standing at the door said to one of our boys, I heard one of you fellows were going to shoot the flag.
No, said the one addressed.
Well, said the Union man, you are too big cowards to do it.
This fellow was a good shot, and stepping back, be shot off one of the stars of the flag. At that several shots were fired, and the flag was full of holes.
For a while I thought we were sure to have a fight, and I believe that if so many had not gone home we would have had one; but the fellows that claimed the flag did not do anything but fuss round and talk loud.
We were disbanded that evening and all went home.
About the first of June, 1861, the state was over run with Federal troops. The militia at St. Louis had been captured by General Lyons while they were on dress parade. While they were marching the prisoners off to quarters, there were a great many spectators on the streets. Some one fired a pistol. It was never known whether it was accidental or on purpose. A company of Lyons men faced about and fired a volley into the crowd, killing thirteen women and children, then faced about and marched away.
This was looked upon by the State’s Rights men of the State as on outrage. All looked to see General Lyons removed for it, but it only added to his laurels.
Men who were favor of the Union became rabid Sesessionists now. That thing did more to change men’s minds in Missouri than anything that had happened up to this time. It was then that I changed my sentiments for the Southern cause, thinking that those who fired on those innocent women and children should have been punished.
There was a regiment of Federal troops sent to St. Joseph. At Stewartsville a Lieutenant McDonald lived and had a State’s Right flag flying at his door. The train carrying the soldiers stopped, and a squad went to McDonald’s house and called him out and asked him to take down the flag. He said he would not, and that he would die by the flag before anyone should molest it. The soldiers at that shot and killed him, took the flag and resumed their journey to St. Joseph, while 1.’1c- Donald was left lying on his door step dead.
This was looked upon as something most awful and that something must be done.
Word was conveyed to Maysville, and the Captain of our Company sent for the members of the company to come in as soon as possible. The members of the company who lived at Maysville took axes and chopped down the flag-pole that had the stars and stripes on it, and cut the rope up into bits and cut the flag up and destroyed it entirely, about the time night set in. The company had gathered, but did not know what to do, as we were without orders.
General W. Y. Slack, the general in command of our part of Missouri, was in camp at Spring Hill in Livingstone County. My brother, A. C. Smith, and myself were detailed to go to General Slack’s head-quarters for orders. We started as
soon as we could get off. This was on Saturday night. We rode the balance of the night and in the morning.
About ten o’clock when we were east of Gallatin in Daviess County, we met a man by the name of Ballinger. He stopped and asked us if we were not on our way to Slack’s Camp. We told him we were. He said General Slack was on the move, and that Frank Penderson was going with a lot of fellows to join him, and he knew where he would be, and advised us to go with him, as he was going to Penderson’s and was going with him. We went along in company with Ballinger, and about noon came to Penderson’s, where we found about fifteen men. About three o’clock we started south aiming to cross the Hannibal St. Joe Railroad east of Breckenridge. Night came on us before we got to the railroad. We crossed it, and was startled by someone hollowing halt. We stopped and two men came up and to go to Breckenridge and hang the post-master. We did not go, as we did not know him, and did not know whether he needed hanging or not. If he did we thought someone else could do the job. The fellow went back very much disappointed.
We went on through Kingston, Caldwell County, and stopped south of Kingston about cZimiles about three o’clock in the evening. Two men came by. One of the men’s names was George. The other I have forgotten. Brother and I went with them. Mr. George was going to Slack’s Camp, which was near Millville, Ray County. The other fellows left us in the evening having found out who we were and what our business was.
We arrived at General Slack’s Camp about ten o’clock P.M. wet and sleepy, as we had had no sleep since Friday night, and this was Monday. We had been riding most all of that time too. We lay down in a barn loft, but did not get much sleep.
Next morning we got the written orders for our companies, and we started on our return trip on Tuesday morning.
About eleven o’clock that morning we came to a little town called Oxford in Ray County, and were passing through when the man that left us the evening before, saw us and ran out and asked us if we had gotten the orders. There were several men on the Street, and our being Strangers drew their attention, and we knew it. The hack that carried the mail was there, and the next town would be Mirable. We did not halt in Oxford but kept right on.
When noon overtook us we stopped at a house and got dinner, fed our horses, and as soon as possible were on our road to Mirable.
We saw the hack coming just before we got to Mirable, and they seemed to be driving in a great hurry and apparently motioning to us, but we did not stop. We drove through Mirable and took the road for Plattsburg. After we had gone about two miles we came to a farm house on the road side. A man came out to the road with a bridle on his arm, and seemed to be going our way. He was an old settler, so we made some inquiries about the road, wishing to leave the Plattsburg road and go into the neighborhood of Turney, where we had a sister living. This man told us how to go and where to leave the main road. He found out who we were.
We came to a creek and were watering our horses – our attention being directed upon them – when we turned round the fellow was gone, and we could not tell which way he went. So we thought this a little strange.
We went on and came to the dim road we were to take. Night came on soon. We got into the bottom and lost our way, but we heard men talking behind us and took our directions, and soon came to the road again.
We went on unmolested to our sister’s, arriving there about ten o’clock P. M. We put our horses into the barn, fed them, and went into the house and got some supper. While we were in the house I thought I heard someone talking. I went to the door but could not see anyone.
We soon got ready to start. We had planned to cross a little skirt of timber, and then we would have ten miles in open prairie without any road. When I got on my horse I was feeling pretty shaky. I said to my brother I did not like to start for I felt like we were going to have trouble. He said that he did too. I had a good hickory switch about three feet long. I had on spurs also. The moon was shining very brightly.
We started, crossed over the skirt of timber, and after we had come into the open prairie we looked to our left, and about one hundred yards from us we saw a man with a gun at a ready. At the same time we heard a bell rattle. We were too far out to attempt to go back, so we kept on our course. Pretty soon eight more men came out of the woods and fell in behind us.
We went on about a mile when we came to the head of a draw that came up from the timber on our right. Looking back we discovered we were out of sight, and we determined to give them a race for the timber. So we made our horses do their best and made our escape. I did not think my horse could run so much, but I guess he thought I wanted him to do his best, for when I got to the timber my switch was worn out and I was in the lead. Brother was on a very fine horse, and I expected him to leave me when it came to the race, but I was very much mistaken. The horse I rode was a rangy one and not very fat, but I learned then that he was pretty swift.
We secreted ourselves in the woods, and laid there about thirty minutes, when we heard the little bell jingle again, and then we knew that the men we had run away from had the bell. It was used to rally by. They found us, so there was nothing left for us to do but to move, and that quickly, or we would be captured.
When we first saw the men after we had emerged from the woods I remarked to my brother that we had better stop and surrender. He said that we would if they ordered us to halt.
After we discovered that our hiding place was known we then moved about half a mile south and stopped. We staid there about two hours when we heard the little bell jingle again. We then went into the woods east of where we were, and imagined we had given them the dodge, but when daylight began to show in the east, my brother said he would go east of us and see if we could go out that way, although we wanted to go west. He went a little distance and returned, saying there was no use to go that way, as there was a man down there waiting for us. We determined to mount our horses and move west in the direction of home, and if we were met and were ordered to surrender, we could only do so, as we knew we were surrounded. We had ridden only a short distance when we came to a man asleep on the ground. Our horses seemed to move very cautious and made no noise. We passed the sentinel safely and went possibly half a mile farther, and at the side of the road we passed another man asleep holding his horse by the halter. We were now out of the circle of the surrounding men, so we pressed on toward home, traveling the main road, thinking it was more safe.
Now we were convinced that our route was anticipated from the evening before, and that we would be less apt to encounter soldiers by keeping the main traveled road.
We came to the place where we should have entered the road the night before if we had gone on, and there we saw signs where about a hundred cavalry had been and had just left. It seemed that they had been there most of the night. Then we knew why we were not halted. They had intended following us to that point, and the cavalry stationed there could easily capture us. This was Wednesday, and no sleep since Friday, and we had been riding hard most of the time. We were very hungry, sleepy and tired.
We came in sight of our home, and a neighbor by the name of E. C. Moore saw us coming on the prairie and knew us. He started to the road we were traveling, and timed himself so as to cross the road in front of us and in speaking distance. As we passed each other he never halted, but kept straight on, remarking to us to be careful how we approached home, that they were looking for us. He asked no questions but went on, where, I do not know, but he had done this to warn us of danger ahead of us, and also if he were seen by anyone he would not have been suspicioned of giving us information, and by that saved himself trouble.
We continued our course toward the grove west of the house expecting to hitch our horses therein, so that one or both of us could go to our house and get something to eat. We had found the place to tie our horses when suddenly five men came charging toward us. We turned our horses and then run them again. Finding the brush too thick we left our horses and went afoot a little distance and then concluded we would give these men a little fight. On examining our guns we found they would not revolve, having gotten wet and rusted. We had taken them apart and were cleaning them when the men came to our horses and stopped. We saw we had no time to repair our guns so we started to run again. They chased us about one mile when we gave them the dodge again. We knew all of these men. One of them was Ira Brown.
Having deluded our pursuers, we laid in the woods until evening and went into the house of E. C. Moore and got something to eat. He took a sack and went to our father’s house on the pretence of borrowing salt and to inform them where our horses were and also of our safety, as they had heard of our capture and that they had put me to carrying water for the officers at St. Joe.
We went into a hiding place near Mr. Moore’s house and staid there for two days and nights. Those who were watching for us were seen to leave the neighborhood. This was reported to us. We went home, got our horses and started for Harrison County. We got as far as an uncle’s in Daviess County then I was taken with ague and did not get any farther, but remained there about a week, and then returned home. I remained home until about September 4th, 1861.
My brother went south and joined Price’s army in time for the battle of Wilson Creek, where General Lyons and Siegel met a signal defeat by the forces of General Price and General McMullough. General Lyons was killed in the battle August 10th, 1861.
After being at home all summer and in constant dread to myself and my family, four others and myself started for St. Joseph to join Col. Jeff Patton’s regiment. Col. Patton and Saunders were there with about fifteen hundred men and were aiming to join General Price, who was on his way north from South Missouri.
We arrived in camp September 6, 1861, and found most of our company there. The first night I was placed on guard. My position was in a gate, the recruits being camped in a pasture. My orders were not to let anyone go out or in without the counter-sign. I had been told that these orders were to be enforced at all hazards. The sentinel or anyone violating orders was liable to a court-martial, and I did not know what a court- martial might do, so I resolved to live up to my instructions to the letter.
After about an hour had passed, it being about 1 o’clock at night, Col. Patton with about a hundred cavalry came to the gate, and as he approached I cocked my shot-gun and demanded the counter-sign. He said, Well, I have not got it. I am Col. Patton with a hundred men, and am bound for St. Joseph, and do not care to be detained. I told him he could not pass me without the counter-sign. He intimated that he could ride over me and go. I placed myself in the middle of the gate and brought my gun to a ready and told him to ride on when he was ready. He then dispatched his adjutant to head-quarters, who got the counter-sign with orders for Col. Patton to go out with his hundred men. The adjutant gave me the counter-sign. The colonel complimented me as he rode out, and went to St. Joseph and returned with supplies.
This camp was at Davidson’s Mills six miles south of St. Joseph.
Now I began my real army life. I had left home expecting to return in two weeks at the most, and so far as ultimate success was concerned I never questioned that it was very sure victory for our cause.
We made a day’s march and camped somewhere in Platte County. Next morning our Company was sent back near to where we started from the day before to escort an old citizen with his negroes and other personal property to our camp. We arrived at his place about noon, tied our horses in the corner of his fence, went into his field, got corn and fed them. In a little while a man came driving down the lane at full speed, and said that about two miles from there were about five hundred white horse cavalry coming that way.
We did not wait for any further news, but got on our horses and started for Union Mills, where we were to camp that night. We had forty men in our Company when we started that morning. When we came to camp that night we had one hundred and sixty men. We would meet men plowing in the field, and they would ask the news and we would tell them about the white horse cavalry, and they would go with us. One man left his team standing in the field and got another horse and followed us to camp. He became a soldier. I never learned whether his horses were ever unhitched or not. Suppose they were before the war closed. I do not know how long he expected to be gone.
The next day the little army resumed their march toward Liberty, Ray County, Missouri. The 3rd Iowa Regiment was trying to cut us off from Liberty landing known as Blue Mills landing on the Missouri River. We were too soon for them by about twelve hours. There was only one flat-boat to ferry us over at that point, and a little steam ferry down below about three miles. The army began to cross as fast as they could. Dick Child’s Battalion of cavalry and Patton’s Regiment were placed in the rear to guard it while the army crossed.
We laid in line of battle all day. Col. Childs had a little skirmish during the day. General D. R. Atchison came riding along the line and said, Boys, I am in command of the left wing today, and will expect you to obey my orders.
Along in the evening when all were across the river except about three hundred and fifty men, and they were crowding about the boat to get on, word came that the Federals were coming this time sure, and everyone that had sand in his craw to come back and form in line. I went, but thought it a hoax. We were mounted in line and went back up the road about half a mile and dismounted, formed our line, and then went on up the road half a mile further. Colonel Patton was in the lead. He turned and said, Boys, file to the left in the brush. They are coming right up there. The boys did as directed. Soon they were in sight. The men in front Company A commanded by Captain John Hunter of Albany fired on their advance. They returned the fire with a volley. Our men never heard the whiz of a minna ball before. It came very near causing a panic. Everyone ran a short distance and then stopped suddenly and ran back. In the meantime the 3rd Iowa had formed into a line of battle with its right in an open glade. Our boys were armed with rifles and shot-guns.
They began to fire into the right wing of the Iowa Regiment, which made them change their position, so that we could enfalade the line. I will say that the double-barrel shot-gun is a dangerous weapon at a short range with an enfalade fire. I could not see anyone to shoot at where I was, so I went out into the road. I was about thirty steps from the head of the Iowa line. A piece of artillery was in the front and fired a load of grape down the road. It went over me. I had a double-barrel shot-gun, so I thought this was my chance since I could see them. My powder was in a flask buttoned under my vest. I fired both barrels of my gun into the head of the column. As I thought it a good place I began to reload again. I caught hold of my flask and found that a ball had struck it and burst it. All my powder was gone. The ball glanced up into my vest pocket where there were some cartridges that I had made and had torn them all to pieces, so I was without ammunition.
I saw a man across the road wearing a gray uniform, and supposing all who wore that kind of uniform were all right, I went to him. When I reached him he raised up and commanded me to halt. I did not stop, but kept advancing. When I was within six feet of him he wanted to know where I was going. I told him I was out of ammunition and asked him if he had any. He said, “No.” He then ran away into a squad of our fellows and was captured. He was of the 3rd Iowa Regiment, their uniform being gray.
I went back and got some ammunition, returned to the line, and the enemy was in full retreat with the loss of one hundred and fifty killed and wounded, and our loss was one killed and twelve wounded.
I will say that I was fully satisfied with war then, and did not want to go into another fight if it were possible not to do so honorable. I had observed that men were liable to be shot, and there was no respect to person or place to shoot a person either.
I hunted for my horse and found him. I met a fellow whom I had not met before and never did meet afterwards. He wanted
to pursue the retreating Iowans. I let him take my horse and I went to the river and crossed over by a boat. I sat on the
bank and waited for my horse until the last trip was to be made. I had not seen my horse yet, so I went over to look for him, thinking the party had left him on the other side. I gave him up as lost. The next morning I went through the camp looking for him.
I found him saddled, bridled and fed. I took him and rode away. No one came to see me about taking him. That was the reason I never saw the man afterwards.
The army then started for Lexington, where General Price was engaged in the siege of Lexington. The forces inside the fortification were commanded by Colonel Mulligan. We arrived there without any further incidents of importance. The siege was in full blast. We took part in it. In about three days after our command arrived the garrison surrendered.
Our loss was very small; the enemy’s, heavy. The surrender was unconditional. The prisoners were parolled and set loose. That made two engagements in which I had participated in ten days after leaving home.
The Siege of Lexington was a very well managed siege on the part of General Price. He succeeded in cutting off water from Mulligan, making fortifications of hemp bales. Our men being behind them would roll and keep them in line. The Federal troops were entrenched around the college building. At a single shot from their cannon the hemp bales when struck would turn over, but the balls would go on. Then our men would replace the hemp bales again in line and wait for another shot. It was a great spectacle to see that line of hemp bales moving slowly up the steep bluff, and the sharp shooters firing all the time. Whenever a horse or man were seen they were sure to catch it. Nearly all the horses were killed that were inside the fortifications.
The fortifications that General Mulligan built were very strong. They had mines laid outside of the works, so that in case of an assault they might be fired on the inside, which might have proved very disastrous to the men making the assault.
Mulligan had a number of political prisoners who were confined in the basement of the college, and when released were almost famished for want of water, being compelled to chew lead for several days to keep from suffering. They were much pleased for having been rescued.
The next day following the surrender of Lexington a force of about six thousand cavalry under Colonel Reives were dispatched north of the Missouri River. Our Company furnished several men. I went as one of them. We were placed under Captain Thompson of Caidwell County.
We went down to the ferry, and Colonel Slayback was there with a hundred men under his command. He and Captain Thompson disputed over the right way for their commands. One word brought on another. Soon they became very angry. Slayback was quite a bluffer. He drew his saber and made a charge for Captain Thompson, who was very cool. Thompson drew his saber and calmly waited for Slayback. When Colonel Slayback saw that Captain Thompson did not run, as I suppose he thought he would, he (Slayback) returned to the head of his command. I was then satisfied that our Captain was not a coward.
We crossed the river and went into camp about five miles from the ferry. Next morning we crossed the river to the Lexington side. General J. C. Freemont with forty thousand men was threatening our rear, and we did not have sufficient ammunition with which to fight a battle, only two rounds of ammunition to the man, that not being sufficient to risk a battle. The army was put on the march for South Missouri.
Nothing of interest transpired on the march only long marches, dusty roads, tired soldiers, short rations and no clothing, with no chance to get either food or clothing. We would stop at times for several days to rest and try to get rations. I remember when we were camped on the Spring River, we had wheat brand that looked as though it had been in the mill for years and the brand became musty with big white worms an inch long mixed all through it. And pumpkins were all we had for a week except what wild grapes we could find in the woods or on the barren ridges. These rations did not agree with us.
About this time my clothing being very ragged and worn, I got some cloth someway, I have forgotten how, and cut and made me a pair of pants. You can imagine what a fit I had, and the sewing too was horrible. These pants did not do me much good, as they soon ripped, and it seemed impossible to keep them sewed up.
We continued on south to Cassville in Barry County, Missouri. We went into camp there and remained about one month. We then went to Pineville, and camped on the Cowskin River for about two weeks. Then we moved north to Neosho, where the Legislature of Missouri was called together and passed an ordinance of sucession, Caleb F. Jackson then being Governor. We moved from there to Newtonia, laid in camp a while, and from there to Osceola, and remained there until my term of service had expired.
I was homesick and had made up my mind that I would get my discharge and go home if it were possible. It seemed to me as if I could not stand it any longer. My desire to see the old home and home folks was so strong that I would readily have died if I could have seen them just once. I finally modified my desire by just casting one glance over the old farm. If I could have done only this I would have been satisfied. I was in a very distressed state of mind. The constant longing, the remembrance of home, the places about the old home that I had pictured in my memory, the many joyous times I had had romping over the old farm when a boy, the old dog and the horses and cows, all these that I could fancy I could see! The folks at home, the many little deeds I had committed when a boy, all of which I am very sorry for, all of the many joys I had had in my father’s family, the faces of father, mother, brothers and sisters crowded into my mind, and I certainly was the most wretched individual that ever lived or ever will live on this earth hereafter. To convey the feelings of a homesick boy is beyond my ability now, when I think how much I suffered. All these things I have mentioned and more, were continually before me and seemed to haunt me day and night. In my dreams I would see them, and on awakening I would find it only a dream, and then the great dissappointment I would suffer in mind was simply awful.
Now, when I see a person homesick I have much sympathy for him, buy you can’t do anything for him but let him alone.
I received my discharge on the evening of the 6th of December, 1861, and went to my tent, hoping to get one night’s sleep, and then next morning would straddle my horse, and, hit or miss, would go for home.
My brother came to the camp that night. He had just returned from home. He had been sent up into that country on business connected with the army. He said I could not go home; that I would be killed, and that if I did get home I would cause trouble to the folks at home, but he did not say what I should do, but advised not to attempt to go home or go anywhere else. So I was in an awful predicament. I loafed around all the next day, which was the 7th of December, 1861.
On the morning of the 8th I enlisted in the Confederate Army for one year. Then my homesickness left me, and I never suffered from it any more. We went to the bank of the Sack River and went into camp under Col. Little, resolving to cast our lot with Southern Confederacy.
We lay in camp on Sack River for a couple of weeks, and then we marched to Springfield, where the Third Missouri Regiment of Infantry was organized, Col. Reaves Commander. Our Company was known as Company E, my brother, A. C. Smith, Capt. , William Osborn, I Lt., George W. Covell, Scm II Lt., J. Charles Humpries Jr., II Lt. We had a company of 94 men I think, and all were stout men except one or two old men. When we were drawn up in line we made a fine appearance.
We laid in camp at Springfield until about the 20th of February, 1862, and then evacuated the place on account of the strong force of Federals advancing on the place, in two columns, one under general Curtiss, and one under Jim Lane, the latter threatening our rear. We left Springfield about sundown with Sam Biles playing his clarionet. We marched all night until four o’clock in the morning.
We camped on the battlefield of Wilson’s Creek. We waded the creek and found the water very cold. At sunup we were on the march again, and it was very cold. We reached Dug Springs. I was on guard that night, so did not get any sleep.
Next morning we were on the march again and reached Crane Creek about 4 o’clock P.M. Laid out camp in regular order, we thought to stay there an indefinite length of time. We unloaded our company wagon and stretched our tents, took the wagon box off, and sent the team and wagon to the timber for wood. The men were busy about the camp cooking supper, when boom went the canon, and the shell came into the camp. We had been overtaken by Curtiss and Siegel. The regiment was formed and marched back across Crane Creek together with another regiment, and formed into a V shape.
The First Missouri Cavalry under Elijah Gates went up the road and engaged the enemy, and would scamper back trying to draw them into our V, but they would not be drawn into it. We laid there until our wagon train got strung out, and then we moved on. We marched all night and had an awful night of it. Every little way up we would come to a wagon broken down and left by the roadside, load and all.
We came into camp the next day on the head of Flat Creek north of Cassville some distance. We got our breakfast (or rather our supper, we should have eaten the night before) and immediately were ordered into line, marched back about half a mile and formed in line of battle as our cavalry had been run in.
The enemy made its appearance in considerable force. Our battery was unmasked and opened fire with a few shots, and sent them whirling to the rear out of sight. This battery was commanded by Captain Clark twenty-two years old, and a braver man and a surer shot never lived. He could shoot a gun and put his shots just where he wanted them.
We then resumed our march, crossing Flat Creek twenty- seven times during the day, as the road running down the creek crossed it that often. I do not remember how many times we would have to stop, form in line of battle and give the enemy a check. It seemed that they wanted to go as fast as we, but we knew that would never do, so when they would crowd our rear the only thing to do was to stop and give them a few shots and cause them to stop until we would get a new start. On we went until about 10 o’clock P. M. We passed through Cassville, and came up to our wagons. Orders were given us to get our suppers and be on the march in fifteen minutes. The supper for the company had been prepared and we eat it and was going in fifteen minutes.
We marched all night. About daybreak we came to a little town on the line of Missouri and Arkansas called Keytesville. This made the fourth night on the march and three days. I had got a pair of shoes which was one number too short. My feet were in an awful condition. My heels were a solid blister, and I could hardly hobble along. On the march from Cassville to Keytesville men would walk for miles sound asleep. Every side of the road was theirs, but they kept up. We got our breakfast in the morning and was ordered on the march. I could not stand on my feet, so I took the company’s team, and the driver took my place in the ranks. All that day there was fighting every few miles. We entered what is know as Ash Hollow in the early morning. This hollow is ten miles long, and the bottom is very narrow. The sides were heavy timbered, the trees very tall. The previous fall General McCullough had chopped trees and fell them across the road which made a blockade which was known as McCullough’s Blockade. The trees had been removed however, so as to allow wagons to go. Before we got there, and at the north end of the blockade, was the last fight of the day.
Just as we went up the hill at the south end of Ash Hollow we met the Arkansas troops. They took the rear guard’s place, and Price’s army camped on Sugar Creek that night. The men got one good night’s sleep, the first for four nights and four days. Next morning I was in the ranks again. The Arkansas troops passed on, and the first Missouri Brigade, as we were known, was in the rear again. We had just got into the road when the Cavalry were run in, and then we fought what is known as the battle of Sugar Creek. I never thought it was much of a battle, but I have talked with some Federal soldiers since who claimed it was a stunner. I do not think we had a man killed, but several were wounded.
As soon as the little battle was over we resumed the march arriving at Cross Hollows that evening, and we were more than anxious for the enemy to attack us in this position, but they did not.
General Curtiss stopped at Sugar Creek, and he went into camp. Our army resumed the march south the first day out from Cross Hollows. We went through Fayetteville, Arkansas. This was a point where the Confederate Government had army supplies. There was a large amount of bacon stored there. Nearly every man in our regiment got a ham, a shoulder or a side of bacon, run his bayonet through it and carried it to camp seven miles south of Fayetteville. It was a novel sight to see so much meat on the march. When camp was reached the bacon was weighed, and Company E had carried over seven hundred pounds of meat to camp. Our Company had plenty of meat to do for awhile.
The next morning the army was on the move again. That day we reached the Boston mountains, and went into camp on top of the mountains on the Fayetteville and VanBuren road. The army went into camp here and rested up from its long march. All of us had our hair cut and a new suit of clothes issued to us, being the first general issue of clothes since we had been in the army. This was the last day of February, 1862. The clothing was white cashmere. Good clothes, but would show dirt easy. We dressed up in our new clothes, caps and all new shoes too. This time I got a pair of shoes large enough for me.
Shortly after we arrived at the top of Boston Mountains General Van Dorn came and took command of the army. He was a very fine looking man in his new Confederate uniform, but we were not pleased, as General Price was the idol of the Missouri boys, and they began to criticise VanDorn and the Confederate Government. Van Dorn was a West Point graduate. Price was not, and the boys contended that Price knew more practically about managing an army in a battle than VanDorn, notwithstanding he was a military graduate, and I was fully convinced that he was correct, as in every battle that followed after that where VanDorn was in command he lost. General Price had never lost a battle or skirmish.
But this was the way then, and is the way now. The command of the army is too often placed into hands that probably have the theory all right, but when it comes to the practice they cannot win.
On March 4th, 1862, the Army under the command of General VanDorn, being in readiness, took up the line of march to fight the battle of Pea Ridge, as it is known in history. The army knew it by the name of the battle of Elkhorn Tavern.
The 4th and 5th of March was taken up entirely by the march. No special incident came up during the march, only the boys were eager to get a battle with Curtiss, thinking they would drive him back, and then we could return to Missouri again. About noon of the 6th of March the enemy was encountered at Bentonville, Arkansas, and a running fight ensued, the enemy losing several in killed and wounded. This was a cavalry fight as far as our forces were concerned. The enemy retreated to Sugar Creek where Curtiss had his headquarters. Our army succeeded in taking up a position that night at the south end of Ash Hollow and north of the Elkhorn Tavern about one-half mile our regiment was held in reserve.
Early in the morning of the 7th our cavalry captured a forage train of about ten or twelve wagons. Some of them were loaded partially with fodder. Our line was formed at the foot of the hill that leads out of Ash Hollow. The banks were pretty steep and about one-fourth of a mile from the foot of the hill to the top this hill was very heavily timbered. The Cavalry brought that forage train down that hill in a run through the timber, and it seemed that they could not help hanging up on a tree, but they made the run and did not, bringing every wagon, team drivers and all in safely, the fodder flying and jolting off. When the wagons reached the foot of the hill there was not enough of the forage left in the wagons to feed the teams.
The excitement had begun now, and I will say it was very exciting. Cheer after cheer went up from our boys at the sight of it. It was a fearful ride for those teamsters. The hill was very steep, having an angle of about forty degrees. It was not very long before the ball opened. Firing began. Our skirmishers were driven in. The position of our Regiment was changed with our left center reaching across the road leading up the hill with the right extending west of the road. The second Brigade under the command of Gen. W. V. Slack was on our right. Gen. Henry Little commanded our First Brigade composed of the 2nd Mo. Infantry commanded by Col. .tc, The 3rd Mo. Infantry under Col. 8. H. Rieves, one Batallion of Infantry under Col. Boyd, and the 1st Mo. Cavalry under Col. Elijah Gates.
The enemy appeared in force in our front, and the battle opened in all its fury at short range. We occupied a masterly position. The enemy overshot us, and our fire was very destructive. After a severe fire for some time the enemy fell back to the Elk Horn Tavern, and our line advanced to the edge of the woods at a fence just north of the Elkhorn Tavern, where we got ready to charge the enemy’s position. The word was given to charge. The boys jumped over the fence, and away they went in face of a heavy fire from small arms and artillery which had position near the tavern. The enemy stood manfully, but there was nothing that could withstand that charge of the 1st Mo. Brigade. When we were getting into close quarters the enemy broke and fled, leaving many dead and wounded on the field. The 2nd Mo. Brigade had advanced, and they thought our Bridage was the enemy, and they began firing on us, and it was with great difficulty that they were prevailed upon to cease firing.
We had now broken the enemy’s lines, and the 3rd Infantry was marched by the left flank across the main road east of the Tavern in a thick woods, faced north, began to move in line of battle. We had not gone very far when we encountered that part of the line we had driven off. There was a stuborn fight ensued between the 3rd Mo. Infantry C. S. A. , and the 35th Illinois Regiment of Infantry. After a battle lasting some time the 35th Illinois surrendered to the 3rd Mo. Infantry. The prisoners were gathered up, their arms taken away from them, Company K of our Regiment was placed in charge, and marched to a place of safety in our rear.
The Regiment was faced about and remained in that position the rest of the night, as about that time the sun had gone down. The battle had lasted continually almost from early morning. We had not lost very many men, but had lost some. The enemy’s loss was much heavier. It was a very cold night and it was pitiful to hear the wounded calling all through the night in the woods and alone for water or something to keep them warm. I hope I never will hear such pleadings and witness such suffering again. Such cruelty and barbarity ought not to be tolerated by civilized nations. Young men, the flower of the country in the bloom of youth to be shot down and left on the field of battle to suffer untold agony and to die the death of the brave to be forgotten by their countrymen. All that can be said is, He was a brave man and died for the cause he thought was right. Some were buried and some were not, left on the field of battle to be devoured by animals. Oh this is fearful to contemplate. Yet men will say from the stump and from the halls of Congress that it is a war for humanity. My observation was that humanity had no part in it. Everything that is barbarous and savage is put in full force by all who engage in war. No difference which side he is on, no matter what government he represents, no difference what nation he is serving, no difference as to his early training or his education. He is a hero who can go succesfully though a battle and inflict the most severe punishment on his opponents in arms.
The idea is to kill, starve, burn, destroy life and property in any old way. It is looked upon as right for it is war, and might makes right throughout the civilized world. The nation that can conquer its enemies is considered right because they have the force sufficient to enforce its demands. Is not that so? In writing these lines forty years after the battle above referred to I have been forced to stop in the middle of it and express my feelings with regard to this matter, and let all who may read these lines know that I am utterly opposed to this thing called war, and I hope I may never hear of one nation going to war with another nation. No matter what the grievance these things ought to be settled without bloodshed.
During this day’s engagement Gen. Ben McCullough and Gen. McIntosh commanding the Texas and Arkansas troops were killed. This so demoralized Gen. Vandorn that he decided on a retreat. Our army had been victorious during every engagement of the two preceeding days, and was in the best of spirits. We had driven the enemy back to Sugar Creek, and they now engaged in destroying their baggage train by fire. We could plainly see the lights from their fire. During the night was heard a piece of artillery rolling along coming from the direction of the enemy’s lines. Our lines where it crossed the road was opened and the cannon was allowed to pass through. When it and the men accompanying it were captured. We had captured a Sutler store, and we had a feast that night consisting of cheese, crackers and canned fruits and everything that was generally kept in a Sutler store.
Morning came and found the 1st and 2nd Mo. Brigades in position. The balance of the army had been withdrawn and was in full retreat towards Vanburen, Arkansas although we did not know it. We had seen the Texas and Arkansas troops pass during the night, but thought they were being moved to take a new position. The 1st Mo. Brigade received orders to keep on a line with the 2nd Mo. Brigade. Our artillery was massed in our rear (39 pieces.) The enemy massed their batteries in our front also their army. We were lying across the only road into Missouri, and had to be removed so they could pass. The artillery began a lively duel, ours firing over our Regiment which of course drew the fire of the enemy’s batteries that placed our Regiment between the two mass of batteries. Such an incessant booming of cannon and bursting of shells I had never heard. Large trees were cut off. Limbs from trees were falling all around us, making a man almost as nervous as it would to submit to the extraction of a tooth by some of our modern dentists. After about an hour of this furious cannonade our artillery limbered up and withdrew, then four lines of Federal Infantry began an assault on our front.
When they made their appearance the 2nd Brigade fell back. About this time Col. B.H. Rieves was shot. He was standing on the ground holding his horse just behind me. He received a mortal wound. He was helped onto his horse. Someone helped him off the field. Our Regiment began to fall back to keep in line with the 2nd Brigade. Some of us did not understand why this move was made, and some of the men would rally, make a stand and then retreat. This movement was kept up for about one-half mile, when the Regiment swung into column and was in full retreat at a quick step, but did not know it until we had got about five miles, when a cannon which had been left by the roadside spiked had been reached. Then we realized that we were retreating. We had given the enemy such a drubbing that they did not follow.
I was told by those that were left on the battlefield that as soon as they that we had cleaned the road into Missouri and was not opposing them they filled Ash Hollow full of men, each one trying to go faster than the other and all determined to get out of Arkansas as soon as their legs would carry them. We had lost in killed and wounded 565 men during the three days’ battle, all of which were left in the enemy’s hands. I do not now remember how many men were lost as prisoners, possible 200.
We camped at Vanwinkel’s Mills about sixteen miles southeast of the Elkhorn Tavern that night in a pine forest. I never had seen a pine forest before. I had never heard the wind moan through the boughs, and it seemed awfully lonesome to listen to it. The trees seemed to be wailing our retreat. Then to add to this lonesome feeling General Price came along in a buggy with his arm in a sling, having been wounded. He was bowing to everyone. When he met,a wounded soldier would say something to him. All of which seemed solemn in the extreme. Our wagon train was there at the mills, and we got a good supper and breakfast (for soldiers). The next morning started on the march for Vanburen, Arkansas, over the worst country I have ever seen. No one lived along the road only occasionally a hunter or trapper. There was nothing raised to subsist an army on. Our wagon train had gone another road, so we were completely without rations, and could not get any. We marched four days over that rough country, making about 30 miles each day, and not a mouthful of anything to eat, crossing White River every once in a while by wading the water, very cold.
On the night of the fourth day after we had left the mills we had issued to us one ear of hard corn to the man. Next day the same. The next day we came to a mill, and got some corn meal, had it baked. We had bread and we got meat. Our wagons met us the next day at the head of Foggy Bayou, a mountain stream. We followed that stream to Vanburen, Arkansas, where we arrived in about eight days march from the battlefield, where we stayed for a few days, when we took up the line of march for Desark, Arkansas. Desark is situated on the White River two hundred miles nearly due east of Vanburen. A sappers and miner’s corps was organized to preceed the army, repair roads and provide ways for crossing the streams. They would cut long trees and fall them into the streams. In case one was not long enough to reach across, they would fall trees from both sides. The limbs would interlock and make a foot passage for the Infantry. The streams were generally swollen to bank full, but narrow.
Our day’s march was 15 miles per day. We would start about four o’clock in the morning, march one hour and rest ten minutes, march an hour, rest ten minutes, and so on until we had made our fifteen miles. We would generally get into camp by noon, and by morning would be rested and be ready for another day’s march. There was no straggling by the soldiers. The weather was fine and we made good time. We camped at the edge of a pine woods one night. Next morning the soldiers were told by the officiers to fill canteens, that we had twenty miles to make that day, and when we took a drink of water to take two swallows and not to drink any more, and only one drink an hour, as we would not see any more water for twenty miles. The instructions were followed then. I learned that people drink too much water, for we got through that day’s march as well as though we had had all the water we wanted to drink. We reached Desark without any special incident on the 5th day of April, 1862. The river was full of Mississippi steam boats ready to transport us to Memphis, Tenn. The battle of Pittsburg Landing was about to be fought, and we learned there that the object was to get us there to take part in it. Before we left Desark we learned of the first day’s battle and that our arms were victorious.
The 16th Arkansas was attached to our Brigade and was with us making the 1st Mo. Brigade under command of Gen. Henry Little, consisting of the 16th Ark. Infantry, 2nd Mo. Infantry, 3rd Mo. Infantry, 1st Mo. Cavalry, Capt. Wades, Capt. Landis and Deboe’s batteries. The 3rd Mo. and the 16th Arkansas were put aboard one boat, and all being in readiness the boats started down White River for Memphis.
When we arrived at Corinth the battle of Pittsburg Landing had been fought. The army of General Beaureguard were encamped and fortified in Corinth, having met defeat at Pittsburg Landing. General Sidney Johnston had been killed in the battle, and it was generally believed that was the cause of the defeat. The Missouri troops were the centre of attraction, and a great many thronged our camp to look at us. Some said that they had imagined that the Missourians had horns, but they saw we were just like anybody else, and they seemed surprised. The battle of Pittsburg Landing had been fought. The 1st Mo. Brigade had not been fast enough to get into the battle. We arrived at Corinth on the 9th day of April, 1862.
We lay at Corinth about two days, and were moved to Rienzi, Mississippi. Went into regular camp. There was a great deal of rain, and not being used to that southern climate a great many were sick on account of not being acclimated. It was the wrong time of the year to make the change in climate. When we got to Corinth we had 84 men in our company. About one month after there was a reorganization of the Company. The officiers had to be elected again. There was only thirteen votes cast in the Company owing to so many being in the hospital sick. Our officers were very strict about the camps being kept clean, but the men were sick notwithstanding. My brother, Capt. A. S. Smith was taken sick with fever, and went to a hotel in the old town of Rienzi, and engaged lodging and board. I was detailed to wait on him. Doctors were scarce in that country. The doctors at the hospital refused to come to see him because he was not in the hospital. I finally prevailed on a young doctor to come and see him, but he had to slip away from the hospital and keep it from the authorities. Finally he quit coming. Brother was no better.
One morning I asked the proprietor, Mr. Williams, if there was a citizen doctor in the town. He said there was one by the name of Shaw living on the railroad about one mile from the hotel. I went to see him. This was on Tuesday morning. I told him how my brother was, and he gave me some medicine. The first dose was given him at noon on Tuesday. The army of General Beaureguard passed through Rienzi on the retreat from Corinth. On Friday brother had so improved that he walked six miles. The army was moving to Tupelo, Miss. I walked and carried my baggage and brother’s baggage. The first day out I got sick. The weather was very warm. Brother bought himself a horse and took his and my baggage next morning, and we made another start. About noon I could go no farther (this was the last day of April, 1862.) We turned off the main road and stopped with an old planter. The army passed on, and we were now between our and the enemy’s lines. The next day our Cavalry came to this place and rolled all the cotton bales out of the jin house. When rolled out it covered about one acre of ground. They then cut the bales open, struck a match to it, and in one flash it was all afire. There was nothing could put the fire out. The Cavalry rode away satisfied the Yankees would not get the cotton. Brother and I stayed at this place until next morning when we both got on the horse and rode into camp, where we found our brigade near Baldwin, Miss. Brother continued to improve, but I was sick.
Finally I was sent to a hospital at Enterprise, Mississippi, where a new hospital was being formed. They took us into a store building that was empty, and if we got anything to eat we had to cook it. My cousin, A. R. Smith, was sent to the same place with me. We concluded if we had some vegetables we would relish them. So we tackled a Dutchman for a dinner and wanted potatoes. He said he had lots of them and we could have all we wanted, and for us to come the next day at noon and he would have a fine dinner for us. We agreed on the price which was very high, but we considered that if we had plenty of new potatoes the price did not cut any figure with us. Next day we went to dinner. Our dinner was ready so the Dutchman said. We went to the table, and when we got the potatoes we were very much disappointed as to the quantity. There was not more than four or five posatoes about the size of a very small hen’s egg, and they had to be divided between us. We kicked and said that was not as much as we wanted, but he allowed there was a great plenty. When we left he said whenever we wanted another good vegetable dinner to let him know and he would be glad to get it for us. I never gave him another call as I did not want to be disappointed again.
The sun was very hot, and by the time I would go out in the sun and cook my meals I would be so sick I could not eat anything. So I made up my mind to get away from that place. I knew that in camp the mess would cook my meals for me, and I would be better off there. I began to figure for a discharge from the hospital. I got it without any trouble and was ordered to report to my command which was near Priceville, Miss. I reached camp and remained there for several days, and was sick all the time. Finally I was sent to the hospital at Macon, Miss . , where it was established in a college building and its dormitory. Everything was all right. Good beds, and plenty to eat for sick men, and already cooked too.
We used the long dining room for our meals when we were convalescent. When we were not able to go to the table our meals were brought to our bunks. After I had been at the hospital one week I began to feel better, was taken off diet, and was sent to the table for meals. The bread was placed at our plates before they admitted us to the table, and only two biscuits to the plate, f. for a young man convalescent, two biscuits were not enough to satisfy a craving appetite. I would eat my bread and ask for more. The waiters were posted and would not answer a call for more bread, so one had to put up with two biscuits and ask no questions. I made up my mind one day at dinner I would have enough that day, and took my stand at the dining room door and waited for them to unlock the door. Pretty soon the door was unlocked. The table was about 30 feet long and I was in first. So I went to the far end of the table. As I passed the plates I would swipe a biscuit and sometimes two. By the time I had reached the farther end of the table I had swiped nine biscuits and had two at my plate, which made me eleven for dinner that day. The fellows that had their biscuits swiped set up a howl for bread. The waiters came and saw they had no bread and brought them their allowance of two biscuits to the man. I did not feel any remorse of conscience after I saw they had got as much bread as they would have had if I had not acted the pig. I had a very fine dinner that day, and had bread to help out several meals in my pockets.
I remained at this hospital several weeks and then returned to camp. I was not well, but thought I would be all right in camp. But I had not been camp but a very few days before I began to be sick again, but made up my mind to stay if it was possible. We soon moved camp to Saltille, Mississippi, and remained in this camp until late in the summer, perhaps the first or second week in September. The army was moved to Cuntown, Mississippi, and got into shape for a move to luka, Mississippi. I started with the Company. The first day I almost died with colic. At least that is what I thought was the matter with me. I walked almost all day bent double. There was no ambulance so I could ride. We stopped and went into camp about one mile east of Maryetta, Miss.
After I had layed down by a log and was fixed for the night the Regiment received orders to move to some other place to camp. I could not go. The Regiment was camped somewhere, I never knew where. My brother came back with Dr. J. M. Allen our Regimental surgeon. The Doctor gave me some medicine and wrote me a surgeon’s certificate exempting me from any military services, and advised me to go when I was able some where and never show myself in the army again. He said I never could stand the service. Next morning the army passed by and I was left sitting on that log alone in the woods and not really able to walk. After several hours I concluded I had better try and go back to Maryetta and get into a house if possible. So I started. Would walk as far as I could, rest, and then go agian. I finally reached the town, went to a hotel and engaged board for three dollars per day. I remained several days.
Finally I thought I would try and find some country place to stop at, as I knew that this high price for board would soon exhaust my money, a thing I did not want to take place. I payed my bill and started in a southeast direction from town. I had traveled about five miles before I found a house. I asked if I could stop several days with them. They said I could. I got some dinner and proceeded to make myself as comfortable as I could. That night about midnight was heard an awful racket. Pretty soon the place was alive with our Cavalry terribly excited. They said the Yankees were not far away, and we might expect them any time. The house was soon filled with them, and among them was a man belonging to the 5th Mo. Infantry. He found that I belonged to the 3rd Mo. Infantry and he seemed to feel secure then. He had been left sick on the road.
Morning came and the excitement was still great, so this 5th Mo. man and myself thought we would be more safe with the army, and in consequence we started for luka. We were approaching Bay Springs at the crossing of the Tom Bigbey River, and about one mile from the river we were about to meet one hundred men belonging to Wirt Adams’ Cavalry. They were coming up a long hill when they saw us. They hollowed halt to us. I told my Mo. friend I would not halt as we were unarmed and could not hurt them. They persisted in the demand to halt, but we kept right on. We soon met the head of the column, and they stopped and asked us who we were and where we were going. We told them who we were and that we were going to find luka. They then told us they had been ambushed that day, and they thought that the whole of Wirt Adams’ Regiment had been killed but them. They were very much excited and begged us to go back. I told them I had started for luka and I would go on. My friend was excited but did not say anything.
We went on, crossed the river, and about one mile north of Bay Springs met Col. Adams with his baggage train and part of his regiment. He also advised us to turn back but we kept on. We had not gone far before we met about ten or fifteen more of Adams’ Regiment and several of them were wounded. Then I thought we were getting pretty close to the enemy sure enough. My friend was getting more and more excited. We soon came to a little country store. It was getting late in the afternoon, and we had begun to think about stopping for the night, but did not want to stop on the main road, and we thought we would inquire for a place where we could stop off the road. I asked an old man where we could stop, if he knew any such place. He began to give directions, he forgot the way, and hollowed to his boy Polk and asked him the way. Said that those two men wanted to go there and stay that night. My friend said we only wanted something to eat, that we would sleep in the brush. We got our directions and started. Came to the turning off place, and had gone only a short distance when my friend said he must stop he was so tired. He went into the brush, got behind a log and laid down. I asked him what he was doing there and he said he was resting. I expect he had been so excited through the day that when he got where he thought he was safe he almost collapsed. I persuaded him to get up and we would go and get some supper.
We had gone a little way when we came to the house. I asked a woman if we could have supper, bed and breakfast. She said we could. So we were fixed for the night. Morning came and we started on our way again. About two miles on we came to a house on the main road. Three men were standing at the gate talking. We stopped and while we were there a nigger came driving at full speed with a wagon box full of leather. He said the lane was full of Yankee cavalry about one mile back. So we then thought we had better skip. We ran across a field into some woods. There must have been someone in the woods, for we heard a horse running through the woods, but did not see anyone. We stopped and secreted ourselves in the woods. Pretty soon we heard troops passing on the road, but could not see them. After a while there were several hundred cattle
turned into the field. They came into the woods where we were. We knew that when they came after the cattle we would be discovered. One of the Mississippians and I went out to reconnoiter and learn what we were hiding from. My Missouri friend seemed to be in a terrible condition. Would not talk and seemed to be awfully scared. He begged us not to go, but we went out so we could see the road. We saw our flag, and hastened back, got our baggage and ran to the road. As luck would have it our Company wagon was there. I climbed up to the rear end of the wagon and crawled in and rode to camp. I stayed with the wagon until we reached Cuntown. We were crossing the Tom Bigbey River next day, I saw my Missouri friend, and that was the last time I ever saw him, but have often thought of him. I think all the time I was with him he was the most demoralized man I ever saw, and it lasted so long. I have seen men demoralized but it did not last so long. I never have seen such demoralization before or since.
The army had gone to luka, engaged the enemy, suffered a defeat, and returned to Cuntown on the Mobile Ohio Railroad. Remained there only a few days, when it took up the line of march for Corinth via Ripley, Mississippi.
I took up my gun and fell into ranks and marched with the Company. The morning of the second I was very unwell, and was ordered to stay with the wagons. We arrived in the neighborhood of the Hatchie River. The army proceeded on its way to Corinth. They reached Corinth on the 4th day of October, 1862. Then began the bloody battle that took place on that date. Word came to the wagon train that the boys were out of rations, and anyone who could cook to go to the Commissory train near the front and cook such rations as they could carry, and take them to the boys in line of Battle.
I went up to the wagons, cooked my haversack full of biscuits and started to the front. I got to where the balls fell pretty thick. The battle was raging in all its fury. I met members of our Regiment who said they had charged the breast works and were repulsed. The order for a general charge was given. General Price was in command of the left wing of the Army. General Lovell was in command of the right wing. General Vandorn was in supreme command of the Army. General Price moved with his forces on time and captured the fortifications. General Lovell did not move with his right wing of the Army, consequently the enemy that would have been engaged by General Lovell were moved to th relief of the men driven from the works by General Price, which made the force too strong for General Price to contend against, so he had to retreat.
The battle was lost. Our part of the Army suffered very much in the Battle of Corinth. Our Brigade lost General Little, Col. James Pritchard commanding the 3rd Mo. Infantry, and Col. Hobbs commanding the 16th Arkansas. General Lovell failing to move on the enemy’s works was the cause of the defeat. Our forces had captured about 600 prisoners. That night W. H. Ashby and I slept together in a corn crib. The 600 prisoners were camped across the road opposite to us. We had plenty of bread. I went among the prisoners and exchanged bread for coffee. Next morning I came to the wagons at the Hatchie Bridge over the Hatchie River. About ten o’clock the Regiment passed going west of where the wagons were, which were now almost surrounded. Firing was heard not far to the west. I had my gun and fell into line, but was not allowed to go on account of my being too feeble to undertake the hardships that were before us. I stayed with the wagons.
About one hour after dark had set in the wagons started. I would go a little way, chill, then have a hot fever for a short time and then chill again, and so on. I was forced to stop every once in a while to rest, then go again. About ten o’clock I got into a wagon and stuck to it until the Army got to Holly Springs, Miss., which was about three days march from Hatchie Bridge. The prisoners that were captured and those we had lost were returned to the armies they belonged to. We kept up the retreat until we crossed the Yallabusha River, went into camp for probably one month, and then marched to Crenada, Miss., and went into winter quarters. By this time I had gained my health and weighed before we left Crenada 190 pounds.
Along in February we were loaded into box cars and shipped to Jackson, Miss. , and remained there several weeks, and then shipped to Edwards Depot forty miles east of Vicksburg. We lay there in camp two or three weeks, then marched to Grand Gulf, Miss., five miles west of Fort Gipson. Some time in April our Regiment and one other Regiment were crossed over the Mississippi River into Louisiana at the head of Lake St. Joseph to do outpost duty. Camped on Judge Perkins’ plantation. The Judge was then a member of the Confederate Senate. We had no tents, and would sleep under the immense live oak trees that were between the dwelling and the river. The Perkins dwelling had been burned to keep General Grant from making his head-quarters there. On the premises I came across a monument erected to the memory of William Perkins, who fired the last gun on the Steamer Arctic when she sank at sea in 1856. All on board were lost, he being one of the number. I had read a book called Life and Death on the Ocean, giving the account of this disaster and the name of this young man as the hero who fired the last gun before the ship sank. The ship’s passengers were wealthy southern people returning home from a trip to Europe.
While we were laying at the head of Lake St. Joseph the Federal gunboats passed Vicksburg. One morning we looked out on and up the river. The gunboats were in sight about five miles away. Then there was great excitement in camp. Everyone was trying to get out of camp first. The men were marched to the head of the Lake and lay there until one oclock. We were twenty miles from Hardtimes on the River. We started at one o’clock and reached Hardtimes at five oclock, which was the fastest time Infantry had ever made in our part of the Army, being five miles per hour.
There was a boat at the landing. The men were marched aboard the boat, and it started for Grand Gulf five miles down the River but in sight. The River at Grand Gulf was two miles wide. After we had started down the River we looked up the River, and could see the gunboats rounding the bend above us. Our boat landed at Grand Gulf. The men got off in short order. The boat ran up Black River and the men were marched to camp. Grand Gulf was fortified and two heavy batteries were planted there. In about one week our Regiment was in rifle pits, supporting the batteries.
There were about 250 negroes at work on the brush- works when the gunboats began firing. The negroes were started out of the brushworks. The boys told them that they were firing at them, not us. The bombardment lasted six hours, one of the most teriffic bombardments I ever witnessed. There were nine gunboats carrying from sixteen to twenty guns to the boat. They circled around and round at times there were as many as fifty guns fired at one time. The timber along the brushworks was cut and a continued crash of falling timber was heard all along our front. We lost one man, Col. Wade, who comanded our Batteries was killed and fourteen wounded.
They just fell over one another making their escape from the ditches. General Grant went down on the west side of the Mississippi River, and crossed over at Warrington. His army numbered about thirty thousand men. The forces opposing him all told were six thousand men under General Bowen.
On the first day of May, 1863, General Bowen took his little army of six thousand men and met General Grant a- bout three miles south-west of Port Gipson, Miss. , and gave him battle. About noon report was brought that there was a battery of twelve guns at the edge of the woods in a three hundred acre field, that was unsupported. The 3rd and 5th Mo. Infantry Regiments were dispatched to capture the battery. We thought we could do this with ease, and so we started. We marched about two miles and came in sight of the battery. There was nothing else visible. We were thrown into line of battle and started on the charge. We were at one end of the field and the battery at the other end of the field. About midway of the field was a low place of a few rods. A cane break of about one hundred yards wide covered this lowland. From the side of the field we were on sloped toward the cane break. From the battery to the cane break was also sloping ground, each slope being nearly a half mile. When the two regiments started on the charge the enemy began to come out of the woods, and the slope on their side was soon covered by Yankees, it seemed about as thick as they could stand. The Yankee artillery opened with a terrific fire. The infantry of the enemy began firing. It was conceded that there were near 30,000 troops in our front, and not over 800 of us, as both regiments were very small.
On we went. I was a file closer that day. My business was to keep the men in line. A great many stopped in the ditches that were washed through the field. I would rout them out, and when I reached the line I had about 100 men with me. I met the sergeant-major of the 5th Mo. going back. He outranked me, as I was only a sergeant. I asked him where he was going. He said his regiment had run off from him, and he would not try to stay with them and would not go back. I had to let him go. Both our forces and the enemy had come to the cane break and could not go through. The cane was about thirty feet high, and so thick one could not see into it only a few feet. We had to stop and so did they. After we had been there awhile our Colonel came along the line and told us to go back one at a time, so we began to move out. When I went out I had that same half-mile slant to pass over. It seemed to me a man could not possibly get over that field without being shot. The air seemed to be full of flying bullets. I made it, as did most of the two Regiments.
In this charge we had four men wounded. There was enough ammunition shot at us to have killed or wounded the whole army, and then have enough left to fight another battle of great magnitude. We got into line again about sundown and then began the retreat off the field. It was impossible for us to do anything with such a force opposing us. The move off the field was conducted in a masterly way. The enemy did not know we had gone until eight o’clock next morning. Some of our men lay there until then and said the enemy’s line had not advanced any. We fell back over Bayou Pier and fortified the banks. Tore down one of the finest suspension bridges I ever saw. We laid in this position all day of the 2nd of May.
About three o’clock the 3rd of May in the morning we started for a crossing on Big Black River in the direction of Vicksburg. The enemy was on one section line and we on another. We could hear their drums all day. We did not stop from the ime we started until we crossed the river. Our Regiment was in the rear and had just crossed when the enemy appeared on the bank in our rear, and began to shell us but did no harm. We reached Varona Station east of Vicksburg, and lay there in camp several days.
After we had been in camp at Varona Station about ten days the enemy had moved up to the neighborhood of Raymond, Miss. Our army on the 13th of May moved out in that direction and lay in line of battle two days without tents and on short rations. On the 15th of May we marched in the direction of Champion Hills and went into camp after night in close proximity to the enemy. We could see their fires and hear them moving into line of battle all night. The morning of the 16th of May came. Not a cloud could be seen, and at sunup an artillery duel was our greeting. Firing soon began by the artillery all along the line which was kept up until about eleven o’clock, when an engagement with small arms took place near our center. A Georgia brigade had been assaulted and driven off the field. A battery had been captured from them. The first Missouri Brigade was ordered to go to their support. We reached the scene of action and went into line. On the left by file into line was the order. If a good drill master had taken one man at a time and placed them into line, they would not have been more in their proper places than they were when we were all in line. It put me in mind of taking a rope by one end, holding to the end and making it straighten out in the road. All the time this maneuver was being made we were under the most deadly fire.
There were five men in our company wounded before we were all into line. We were now in a lane between two rail fences. We were ordered back over the fence in our rear and lay there a minute and were ordered into the lane again. Then a charge was ordered. Our boys took hold of the bottom rail of the fence in front of them and lifted it clear of the ground, threw it twenty or thirty feet, and away we went across a little field and into the edge of a woods. At that place we came upon the 13th U. S. regulars just formed in line of battle with emty guns. They ran at the first volley we gave them. One captain undertook to rally his company and he was knocked down with a musket by one of his men and was captured. We had not gone far when we met a line of Ohio and Indiana troops. We had an awfully hard fight with them. The Ohioans and Indianans lost heavy.
We continued to advance. Behind this line in a road that was washed out is where the battery stood that they had taken from the Georgia Brigade was another line of infantry. We engaged them in almost a hand to hand conflict, and finally drove them off, recapturing the Georgia battery. Men lay dead in heaps. A little swag was in the ground here, and the blood ran in a stream as water would have done after a hard rain. We lay down and protected ourselves the best we could. Our officers sent for ammunition, as we had used almost all we had. General Pomberton answered that his ammunition train had been ordered to Vicksburg. He was asked for reinforcements. He said he had none for us. There was nothing for us to do but to get out of that place, and to get out we had to pass between two lines of the enemy which was not far apart, receive the fire of both lines on either side of us and one that was advancing in our front. I had fired my gun and found that I had just one cartridge left. I loaded my gun with that and started.
I came across a Georgia soldier shot in the foot, and carried him off the field to the hospital. I ran this gauntlet of about one quarter of a mile, carrying the Georgia soldier, but we made it. We were soon on the move for Vicksburg on the crossing of the Big Black River. The battle was over and we had lost. I had gone into that day’s battle with six men in my mess, and I was the only man left. All the rest were killed or captured. I felt very lonesome that night. I had to sleep alone.
The army was ordered to Vicksburg. General Loring commanding twelve thousand men refused to go to Vicksburg, and went out to Jackson. His men had not fired a gun during the day. If they had been sent to our support the result might have been different. Our loss was very heavy, in fact both sides lost heavily at Champion Hills.
Night soon set in. The enemy stopped pursuit for the night. Our army proceeded to the Big Black River bridge. A line of breast works had been thrown up in a half circle from one point of the river to another. The works were occupied, the artillery placed in position and the horses taken across the river. A conscript Mississippi regiment was placed in the center. A boat was turned across the river, making a pontoon which men could walk over, which was the only means of crossing. Soon after sun up the enemy made a demonstration in our front and began to advance. When they got within six hundred yards of our works the Conscript regiment left the works in a panic. The enemy saw this and was soon in the vacated part of the works. Tha balance of the forces in the woods had to save thenselves by a quick retreat. All made for the pontoon bridge. After a part had crossed the boat was fired. A great many ran over under the fire of the upper deck of the boat, while a great many swam the river. Colonel Elijah Gates and one hundred of his men were captured before they could cross. Of course we lost all of our artillery. The horses were on the other side of the river and made it impossible to save the artillery. That looked a little bad for General Pemberton. All thought he was planning to lose as heavily as possible.
The army kept up the retreat until Vicksburg was reached. This was the 17th of May when the siege of Vicksburg commenced. The 18th of May twelve hundred wagons were sent to Snider’s Bluffs twelve miles up the river for corn. Then all loaded up with full loads and came within two and one-half miles of Vicksburg and threw it out on the ground, then came into the city emty. The next day the enemy’s lines cut us off from this corn and was very handy for them to feed. U. S. soldiers told me after the surrender that they were disheartened when they saw the corn believing that we had more provisions inside the city than we could store or had use for. We found that was not the case.
The morning of the 19th of May found the city completely surrounded. We had a line of weak rifle pits seven miles long, and had only one man for every four feet. The 19th of May was a very busy day. Grant made frequent charges on our lines, but was repulsed with great loss. The 3rd Mo. was held in reserve during this day, but we had several men killed and wounded by stray shots.
The 20th and 21st of May was taken up by sharp shooting and artillery firing. Our regiment moved into the stockade fort north-east of the city, about two and one-half miles from the court house.
The morning of the 22nd of May, Grant began a general assault on our works. All day there was one charge after another. Our part of the works being the farthest out would get the attack first. We would repulse them and could then watch the battle at other points of the line. They came once eight men deep against our front, but did not succeed in getting a man inside of our works. A flag was planted on our outer works. A great many came up to the works, but none could get over. There was a ditch about twelve feet wide in front of the parapet at the right of our Regiment. Company A of our Regiment was inside of this parapet.
Two hundred men started on a charge with ten feet rails on their shoulders with the intention of bridging the ditch. When the few that reached the ditch got there they found the fence rails were too short to reach over the ditch. They were repulsed again with great slaughter. About seventy-five men took refuge in the ditch and remained there until night before they withdrew. Shells were obtained, the fuse cut three seconds. Men would hold them in their hands, light the fuse with a match and toss them over in the ditch. A great many were killed in this way. The day closed, firing ceased, and we learned that we had lost in killed and wounded that day about half of our regiment. That was an awful day for both armies. After nightfall I was detailed to take charge of three men and go outside of the works as vedettes to watch the manoeuvres of the enemy. I stopped in the ditch a little way out, which was pretty well sprinkled with dead Yankees. I said I guessed we would stop here. The men said, It would be too bad to stop here. We would like to go somewhere else. I could see Yankees at a tree. I told them we would go there if they had rather. They concluded they would prefer to remain where we were in preference to trying to take the position by the tree. We placed ourselves and watched. The Yankees after a while began to fire a gun up our ditch and overshot us a little.
After this had gone on a while I could hear digging below us, and could hear men draw long breathes as if they were winded. I listened for a while and slipped back into the parapet and told the Captain of the battery about it. He went out with me and located them, returned to the parapet, and I withdrew my vedettes. The Captain made him a trough long enough to reach the other side of the ditch, and would light the fuse of the shell and roll them down the trough when they would keep rolling, as the hill was steep, until they would explode. This soon broke up the undermining for that place. The next morning we were marched through Vicksburg, and took position on the river below the City.
We lay there four days. While we were there the Gunboat Cincinnatti came down to silence our river batteries. We had a Brooks gun, about a sixty-four pounder, that shot a steel pointed ball. The Cincinatti engaged it at the third shot from our gun, the boat turned back, and our gun got in one more shot. The boat began to sink. She was run towards the land and sunk almost out of sight. The river was very high at that time. Before the siege was over the water went down, and the boat stood out of the water below the guns. Captain Enyart of the 1st Mo. Cavalry went to the boat with a few men and
burned it to the water’s edge. The guns were taken off the boat by the Yankees and mounted at their works, which added to their already large artillery force. The land forces of the enemy now were increasing every day. Our forces were diminishing by sickness, killed and wounded.
Our Regiment was ordered to a position south of the Jackson road, where we were held in reserve for several days. The enemy began to make it lively for us. Once each day after four o-clock in the evening the montar fleet would fire, then the Gunboat fleet would fire every gun in range. The land batteries would fire by batteries beginning on their right and extending to the river on their left south of the city, making almost a continuous roll of artillery. When the river on their left would be reached the montar fleet would fire, the gun boats and the land battereis would take it up and keep that firing up for an hour or so every evening. There was not very much damage done, but kept us in fear all the time that there would be. While we were laying in this position a water spout broke over us and in a few minutes everything was afloat. The enemy thought that our ammunition had got wet, and they made an attack on us, but we repulsed them with ease. Our Regiment was moved to a point north of fort hill north of the Jackson road.
Our rations were very short, hardly one-quarter rations. I would draw my rations for a day in a pint cup. The rations were cooked and they did not fill the cup much over half full. We would gather greens, such as lamb’s quarter, and two or three of us would put out rations of meat together to season the greens. I made many a meal on sasafras tea. Sasafras grew all over the hills. We could get the roots and make tea easy. Sugas wet with water brought to a boil and then poured into a saucer and let cool sold at one dollar per cake. I would buy one of these cakes every day, when we were in the ditches at this point I had an advantageous position. began as a sharp shooter. I first got perfect range of the breast works, and when I could see anyone all I had to do was to adjust my sights of my gun and I soon could make him hunt his hole. There was a battery 800 yards to the north-east of me which I kept silent for three weeks. When here I was placed in charge of three men and sent out to vedette at night. I took them outside of our works half way between our lines and the enemy’s lines, and remained there all night. Our and the enemy’s lines were from 800 yards down to 40 yards apart. At one point they were so close they could reach over and exchange papers. The enemy dug a ditch from their lines to fort hill about eight feet wide. They placed a mine under the fort and fired it and blew up the fort with Company I of the 6th Mo. Infantry in the fort. Nearly every man in the Company was killed. The enemy then made a charge down the ditch they had dug. The Fort was manned immediately after the explosion by the remainder of the 6th Mo. Infantry, and the assaulting column was repulsed with great loss of life to the enemy. There was not anything going on now but the incidents of a regular siege, firing by the batteries, sharpshooting and shelling by the mortar fleet almost continually. Occasionally a man would be killed or wounded.
On the morning of the 30th of June at about ten o-clock our rations were brought to us. I must say that I felt more hungar that morning than was usual. I drew my rations, divided it, and began to eat my little breakfast consisting of a little bacon, a very little cooked peas, and a piece of bread made of ground peas. The battery I had kept silent for three weeks began to shoot, but I was so hungry that I thought I would let it alone until I had finished my meal. A man in our Company by the name of Black was struck by a shrapnell shot from this gun, and I was just going to see how bad he was hurt, when I heard a shell burst above me, and a shrapnell shot struck me. I fell over on my face. I was completely benumbed, and could not breathe, speak or move. Someone turned me over. Then I began to breathe, and then I began to suffer. The ball had broken my collar bone and entered my left fung. The expanding of the lung at every breath I drew seemed to be tearing it. I was placed on a litter and they carried me to an ambulance which went bounding over the rough roads for Hospital No. 3 in the City. The Captain sent a man from the Company with me to the Hospital. I was laid on a table. Three doctors run their fingers up to their hands in the wound and decided that I would have to have the ends of the collar bone amputated so it would grow together nicely. They were ready to go to work in short order. This friend (J. H. Barger) told them to hold on, that he would go and fetch Dr. Lucius McDowell to see me. When he came I asked him what he thought of it. He said I would be a dead man in less than twenty-four hours, turned to the doctors and said, Let him die as easily as possible and not torture him. I told him I thought I would die, and only wanted a good bed so I could be as easy as possible. He said I should have it.
I was then taken to a cot and placed on it. The only shirt I had was torn off, so I was without a shirt. I had a shirt at the washer-woman’s house, but I did not know where the house was so I never got it.
The Captain (Geo. W. Covell) detailed Thomas Bates to wait on me. I do not remember but a few things that happened during the first eight days I was in the Hospital, as I was unconscious most of the time. On the 4th day of July I remember the Major of our Regiment (Major McDowell) was standing by my bunk. I could see the men on the works. I asked him what it meant. He informed me that Vicksburg had surrendered.
The terms of surrender were that we were to be parolled. Our force was 27,000 men. Grant’s army numbered 202,000 men, besides the gunboats and mortar fleets.
On the ninth day after I was wounded I came to my right mind, and on examination I found that my wound had not been dressed and the bone had not been set. I saw some lumber lying outside of the tent on the ground. Bates was standing by my bunk. I asked him if he could get a saw. He sam he could. I told him to get it and bring one of the boards in. He did so and stood waiting my orders. I told him to take the measure of my bunk, and cut the lumber so it would be one-half as long as the bunk, lie did that, and I told him to roll me over and raise the matress and let one end of the boards rest on the bottom of the bunk, &cl the other end on the head board and place the matress on the boards and roll me back. He did so. When I was rolled back that threw my lame shoulder forward. then set the colar bone and had my arm tied fast to my body. The arm was completely paralized. I had him get some water and wash the wound. I called for something to eat. He got it for me, and then I thought there was a chance for me to get well. The doctor came in soon after and saw that I was rational. lie said, Hello Smith. You are not dead yet. I told him I thought I could get well. He proposed to fix me up. I told him I had fixed myself up. The Doctor then examined me and said it was all right. So I began to hope that it was possible for me to get well. I lay there thirty-six days without attempting to get up. In the meantime a man died and I got his shirt. It was the only show for a shirt.
By this time we had all be parolled, and our army had gone to Demopolis, Ala., and went into paroll camp. I began to improve slowly, and by the 29th of August I could walk forty steps. During my stay in the hospital the Federal authorities issued me a suit of Hospital clothes, one shirt and one pair of drawers. I then could change my clothes. We could get greenbacks in exchange for Confederate money, one dollar in greenbacks for ten dollars in Confederate money. I would buy a dollar now and then and buy a little nick-nacks I wanted.
I got three or four letters from home while I was in the hospital, being the only word I had got since December, 1861. These letters were from my father. When they came to me I thought I would go home. The letters stated I could not stay at home, and advised me to go to Illinois to an uncle’s if I came north. I knew that my days as a Confederate soldier were over, for I never would use my left arm, it being at that time useless with not much circulation in ti. I decided not to go north but to go to Alabama, and remain until the war was over.
There were two women who came into Vicksburg from Raymond, Miss., and got a mule team, a set of old harness and an old wagon. There were six soldiers that agrees to take the team to them at Raymond. They persuaded me to go which made seven of us. On the 29th day of August, 1863, we started. The first thing was a runaway by our mules. After running about half a mile they were stopped, and I was hurt very much. I got out of the wagon and would have gone back, but could not walk that far, so I got into the wagon and went on. We stopped with a widow woman about seven miles out of Vicksburg, and stayed all night with her. Everything she had had been destroyed except her house. She was drawing rations from the government. She had been a rich widow, but now had nothing.
The next night we camped at Edwards Depot, which was forty miles from Vicksburg. We had not passed a single house that had not been burned, nor seen a hoof of stock. The country was a vast waste. No living thing or any kind of improvements were left. All had been destroyed. The country had been wel 1 improved before the Federal Army came. We camped in the depot that night. There was no one at the depot. The next day we reached Raymond. I was very much exhausted. One of the boys asked me if I did not want a chew of tobacco. He said he believed it would make me fell better. I had not used tobacco for more than one year. I took a chew. It tasted better than anything I had ever tasted, so I bought me some tobacco and have used it ever since. Three of us stayed at Raymond four days. We hired a hack to take us to Brandon, Miss., sixteen miles east of Jackson. Just before we reached Jackson the hack jolted into a rut. I was hurt most awfully. I was suffering so that about four o-clock we had to stop. That night I fainted and fell against a tree, which gave me another jolt. Next morning the boys had a bed in the wagon. I was laid on it and hauled to Brandon and left at the hospital. The boys went on to camp at Demopolis, Alabama. They told of my condition and Bates came on the first train to see about me. He reported to me that every soldier had a home in Alabama, and I could get one, and if he was me he would leave the hospital and go in search of a country home. That night we got aboard the train for Demopolis, where we arrived next morning. One of our Company had a relative in Tuskeega, Ala., and he thought I might stop with his relatives, so we started for Tuskeega next morning. We had to make connection between Selma and Montgomery by boat. That night I fainted from weakness on the boat, but we pushed on when we got to Montgomery.
We took the train for Chehan five miles from Tuskeega, and traveled in a stage from there to Tuskeega. We stopped at a hotel for the night. Morning came. My friend, J. W. McFerson, went out to look for a place for me. I was sittting on the porch at the hotel. An old man by the name of W. W. Mason who lived in the town, drove up in a buggy, got out, came to me and shook my hand and asked my name, where I was going, and if I had any relatived in the town, and finally what I had come there for. I told him that I was a Missourian. That I did not think I had any relatives or acquantaintances in the south, and that I had come there to look for a place to stop. He allowed that it would not make any difference to me where I stopped, and he would like for me to go to his house. I told him that it did not make any difference to me, as I did not know anyone therenor did I have any choice. We went into the hotel. I asked for my bill. The hotel keeper told me he would not charge me anything. We left word where my firend could find me, so I then went with this fine old gentleman to his house. I found a mansion, and a very fine family, besides they were rich. The old gentelman dressed me up in his old fashioned clothes, and sent for a doctor and a tailor. The doctor kept coming all the time, that I stayed there. The tailor came, took my measure, and cut and made me a suit of military clothes. Then they were brought to me I dressed up in them and felt more comfortable that I was in the borrowed clothes.
I remained there three and one-half months. In the time an abess formed in my lung around the ball. One night it broke. I coughed and spit the abcess up. From three o-clock A. M. to six o-clock A.M. I coughed up a fourteen quart siop pail fully half full. I then could see I got better fast.
The wound had not healed up yet. Bones were continually working out and I was very thin, weighing about one hundred pounds. When I was wounded I weighed one hundred and ninety pounds. I was on furlough. It had expired, so I felt that I must go to my command, which had moved to Moridan, Miss. I got to camp, stayed a few days and fot a furlough and went to Selma. Applied for a position in the Brovo Marshall’s office. I had an introduction to a man by the name of J. A. Steele. He proposed that he and I go into partnership in the huchster trade, which we continued in most of the winter and made good money. I went to Mobile and stayed with the Regiment a month or two. In March I went into Wilcox County, Ala., and run a farm for A. B. Cooper through the summer of 1864. Sometime in August I went to Mobile on business for the neighbors and was pressed into service, placed on a steam boat running from Mobile to Montgomery. My business was to examine furloughs and passes of persons that were traveling, and to arrest all soldiers absent without leave. After the fall of Atlanta I went to the army which was at Lovejoy Station south of Atlanta fifteen miles. I marched with the army to Palmetto Station on the Atlanta and Westpoint Railroad. There I was placed on the retired list. I went from there to Greene County, Alabama, and taught a three month’s school. I then went to Marion, Alabama, and started to school at the Howard College. After I was there for a few
weeks one of our company was married in Greene County. I was invited to the wedding. I went to the wedding. The bridges were washed out on the railroads. I could not return for some time, and everything was in such a shape that I never returned to school. I stayed at Newbor, Alabama until the war was over. On the 18th of June I went to Demopolis and got my paroll. On the 26th of July I started for my home in Missouri. Elijah Austin accompanied me. He was a member of our Company. We went to Uniontown, Alabama, and took the train for Tupelo, Miss. There we made connection with Corinth, Mississippi, by team. We went from there to Memphis, Tenn., on the Memphis & Charleston Railroad. When we got to Memphis we bought us a new suit of clothes and went aboard the Bell Memphis, a steamer bound for St. Louis. We dressed up in our new suits and looked like some one else, this being the first time we had had on decent clothes for four years. We did not look like the same ragged Confederate soldiers we were once. We got a state room and paid our passage to St. Louis. Everybody seemed to be alone and did not want others to know anything about them. Some few Union soldiers were aboard that had been with Sherman to the Sea. We found out one another the evening before we reached St. Louis. There were at least three hundred Confederate soldiers on board on their way home. We all had a jolly time from that on to St. Louis. At daylight the 2nd day of August, 1865, I awakened and we were lying at the wharf at St. Louis.
Austin and I got up and dressed, went on shore, got a hack and drove to the North Mo. Depot. We bought our tickets for our homes. After we had been on the cars for several hours I notices a Lieutenant that had gone from Missouri and had been with Sherman to the Sea. I thought I would ask him a few questions and learn something about what I might expect when I got home. I made the remark that there were a great many Confederate soldiers coming home, and asked what would be done with them. He answered that he did not think that anything would be done, to crowd the state full of eastern emigration, the Confederates would not stand that and would leave the state. That was the first question I had asked about home. I was determined to go home, let the consequences be what they would.
Next morning on the 3rd day of August I got off the cars at Osborn. I met men that I knew but no one recognized me. I took my grip and wiaked out home. Saw a brother-in-law building a fence. I went up to where he was but he did not know me. That broke me all up. After I told him who I was he told me about home and the condition of the country. We soon went home and saw all the family, and I was very much overjoyed at once more being home. I was contented and did not want to ever go away again. My adventures as a soldier had not been attended with anything but hardships, starvation, sickness, wounds, crippled for life, hard marches, exposures and dangers of every description, and last but not least the utter defeat of the cuase for which I was engaged.
The Confederate Armies all surrendered. The country in many localities was laid waste, homes and towns burned, and everything that was of any value converted to the use of the perpetrators of the act. I found on my return home that my relatives and friends had been in constant fear all the time that the war had been going on. A great many of them had been thrown into prison, and had been summoned to court to answer to many charges, and had been harrassed in a great many ways enough to make an existence almost unendurable. But after a few months things began to take a new shape. The Confederate soldiers were becoming more safe every day, and by the year 1871 we were enfranchised and allowed a vote. As soon as that took place in Missouri took her natural place in politics. General F. M. Cockrell, our Brigadier General, was elected U. S. Senator, and ever since that time Missouri has been recongised as one of the solid South.
I moved to Nebraska in April, 1874, and have lived here continuously in the neighborhood of Bloomington until the present, April 7th, 1902.
I. V. SMITH
— copy from Robert Robertson of Gallatin, a descendant of I.V. Smith; the handwritten memoir is believed to be in the National Archives at Washington, D.C.