James Swisher.

How I know, or Sixteen years' eventful experience online

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doned, and then followed seven days of skirmishing, so
annoying to the enemy that Johnston fell back disgusted
with the neighborhood. No language can adequately
depict the perils of that week. All felt that the welfare
of their respective causes was to be made sure or gravely
periled by the issue of that field. At last the Army of
the Cumberland, by extending its flank, pressed the right
of the hostile line back, which then retired to Dallas.
The twentieth corps was now placed in reserve for six
days, at the end of which time, it moved into line, reliev-
ing the fourth corps, which took position further to the left.
Marching, digging, and fighting, alternately, our forces
pressed on, and, finally, by the middle of June, were in
line beyond Pine Knob. Here Lieut. Gen. Polk was
killed and it became evident that the dearest hopes of
the rebel South were doomed to perish beneath the
blows of the sturdy Northmen. But none could expect



the daring sons of Dixie to tamely yield their sectional
claims, cherished so many years.

Valor and patience and labor and diligence and
skill and blood must all be given to the nation's cause,
by Sherman's noble men, and lavishly were they be-
stowed. It cost some of our regiments full twenty per

cent of their
strength to force
the line at Pine
Knob; but the
victors went on
to seek another
fateful field, as
light of spirit and
as strong of heart

as the farmer
who goes to the
harvest field of

Lost Mount-
ain having been
abandoned, the
Army of the Ten-
nessee advanced


several miles, and found Johnston preparing to stand.
The Thirteenth New York Battery, Lieutenant Bundy
commanding, coming up, attacked the enemy skillfully,
and won a reputation among soldiers that will not dim
while memory holds her seat. The insurgent chief was
forced back once more. He then carefully selected a


strong line of defense on Kenesaw Mountain. As the
first division of the twentieth corps was forming its line
on the right of the second, a large force was hurled upon
it, which force was nearly annihilated by the artillery
happily at that moment massed at the extreme front.
The unprecedented slaughter discouraged the assailants,
and they retired to their works, remaining in them sev-
eral days.

The twentieth corps celebrated the Fourth of July in
line of battle, forgetting their own crowding honors in
the just glories of our hero sires of 1776. Girding up
their loins, they pressed on toward the Chattahoochee
with renewed courage, for Atlanta, the Gate City of the
South was now in sight.

In proportion as victory cheered them, defeat carried
sorrow and despair to their opponents. General Hood
was sent to relieve General Johnston, whose farewell
address was audible to our pickets. He instituted at
once a more decisive policy, staking the very existence
of his army, and requiring equal risks on the part of his
opponents. Gaming the left bank of the Chattahoochee
with admirable skill, Sherman approached Peach Tree
Creek, where the united skill of both rebel chiefs had
prepared formidable work for the intrepid travelers.
On the zoth of July, the star corps, while in order of
march, was assailed by the entire force then and there
gathered for the deliverance of Georgia. A terrible
battle ensued. The Southern troops were burning to
retrieve their losses, and felt that another defeat might
be fatal to their cause. Their base of supplies was at



hand, and their entire force was available. The ground
was well adapted for defense. Now, or never, they must
crush this daring invader. To break his lines was to
annihilate his army; to fail in that was to have him soon
thunder at the gates. Nor could Sherman now afford
defeat it was ruin. His long line of communication

could not be held
a day after such
an event. The*
immense gains of
the summer's toil
would all be lost.
A new campaign
added to the bur-
dens of the al-
ready heavily la-
den nation could
hardly restore
^ what might now
be secured by
persevering en-
ergy and the un-
daunted courage
that had made
these men heroic.
True, their ground was unfavorable; they must stand
the more stubbornly. A deep, crooked stream was be-
fore them; they must use more skill in crossing. They
could not form in line; every man must be his own
support. They were called upon to brave all difficulties,



and they did it. They were to win success by sacrifices,
and they suffered and succeeded. Peach Tree Creek
was made one of the holy spots where the nation's chil-
dren were faithful unto death, and victory planted there
a laurel that will never fade. Two days later the Army
of the Tennessee was similarly attacked with similar
results, and Hood retired to Atlanta. The siege of the
doomed city began at once. The twentieth corps had
been under fire more than one hundred days, with only
six days intermission. It had lost over thirteen thousand
men, about three-fifths of its entire number, and still it
retained its characteristic energy, and was a pride to its
friends and a terror to its foes. Taking its place in the
lines about the city, it bore a conspicuous part in that
skillful siege. Meantime the lamented M'Pherson (com-
manding the Army of the Tennessee) fell, and General
Hooker was recommended as his successor. But Gen-
eral Howard was appointed, and " Fighting Joe" could
only ask to be relieved from duty under Sherman.

General Williams assumed his command, and by a
change afterward made in the plan of the siege, this
trusty corps was sent to hold the line of the Chattahoo-
chee, guard trains, deceive the enemy, and, if possible,
annoy him while Sherman flanked the great northern
defenses, and approached the town from the rear. The
corps, there being now confidence in every man belong-
ing to it, stretched out in line for nearly ten miles, the
men being in some instances ten or twelve feet apart.
They held their position, and fully answered the expec-
tation of their commander. When Hood left, the twen-


tieth moved on, and was the first to enter the fallen
stronghold. There it lay and recruited while the re-
mainder of the army drove Hood to the arms of Thomas
at Nashville, where Hood lost his power. Several thou-
sand new troops joined the corps at Atlanta. Having
repelled some trifling attacks at different times, here,
preparations were made for another campaign. Where
now? was a much mooted question among the men; but
the accomplished Sherman suffered friend and foe alike
to wonder and conjecture. On the I5th of November
(1864) we set out for the south-east, and Mobile, Savan-
nah, Charleston, Augusta, Wilmington, and even Rich-
mond, were confidently named as probable points we
were to reach. Very meagre were the supplies we
carried, and the rebel papers we saw from time to time,
were filled with the most glowing prophecies of our
swift destruction. The resources of the country through
which we passed were at once put under contribution.
The accumulated edibles of Georgia, its numerous cat-
tle, horses, mules, calves, etc., disappeared as by magic
along our route. Too strong to be stopped or seriously
hindered by any effort the foe could make, four co-oper-
ating corps swept along, and the great raid became the
most magnificent march of modern history. Our ex-
perience was more like that of a band of mischievous
travelers than an invading army. Destroying railroads,
cotton gins, warehouses, and bridges; making roads
across plantations and through swamps, and marching
leisurely on with song and shout, and endless badinage;
foraging, cooking, and eating alternated with each other



through the entire thirty days we spent in reaching the
defenses of Savannah. Our corps was assigned the
direct approach by the Augusta pike, with the fourteenth
as reserve, and twelve miles from the city the outer
defense was carried gallantly after a very brief ac-
tion. The next line, five miles from town, was its
real reliance.

The complete destitution of the troops, in respect to
some important supplies, caused comparative inactivity
until the fall of
M'Allister open-
ed a line for
supplies. Then
heavy fatigue
parties were
employed in the
raising of coun-
ter works, which
were scarcely


Hardee evacuated the place. No sooner had his sharp-
shooters crept away from the outer rifle pits than an
enterprising New Yorker crept into them, and hurrying
back, roused his officers with the welcome intelligence.
Wonderful was the forbearance of the victorious
warriors. General Sherman alludes to it, in his report,
as a most gratifying proof of their good discipline. The
citizens, terrified by the horrible tales with which South-
ern editors had tried to fire the Southern heart, seemed
to expect barbarities almost unendurable. Their own



soldiers had wantonly murdered many negroes during
the night, for manifesting joy at the coming of the
Yankees. Nearly the whole day was spent arranging
and stationing the usual guard, during which the city lay
completely at the mercy of our men. The conduct of
these sons of our free civilization in that hour, furnished

testimony in favor
of liberty and equal
rights that the
people of Savan-
nah should never
forget. The re-
mainder of the ar-
my subsequently
took position in the
vicinity. On our
departure, six
weeks later, the
| reiterated regrets
of the citizens was
a most honorable
proof of general
good conduct.
Earnest public ef-
forts were made to retain the second division of the
twentieth corps as a city guard. But it had proved
itself too useful in the field to be excused from aiding
in the great effort soon to be made.

Moving up the river in the latter part of January the
army crossed into South Carolina, and entered with



more than usual energy upon the work of devastation.
For a considerable distance hardly anything combustible
was left unburned. Neither strength nor weakness,
wealth nor poverty could shield the luckless citizens of
the Mother of Secession from the hot zeal of the aveng-
ers. Gradually, however, passion subsided, and a calm,
quiet resolve to enforce justice and right took its place,
and then more discrimination marked our deeds. By
the time we reached Winnsborough, February the 2oth,
even Wade Hampton had learned the disposition of our
men so well as to assure the citizens, by letter, that " If
the twentieth corps occupy the place, private rights will
be respected." His confidence was not misplaced. A
feeling of mutual respect, based on profound self-respect,
seemed to pervade both citizens and soldiers, and our
stay there will ever be one of the most agreeable mem-
ories of the campaign. We now pushed more to the
eastward, and a monotonous journey succeeded. Cross-
ing the Catawba during a dark, rainy night, we moved
on to Cheraw, crossed the Great Pedee, and three days
later entered North Carolina. Here a general order was
published, reminding the army of the greater loyalty of
the old North State, and recommending a milder pol-
icy. A few days later we reached Fayetteville, and
from that point dispatched a mail.

Much rain had made the roads heavy, and the trains
were therefore sent to Goldsborough for supplies, w T hile
the main portion of the second corps was sent up the Ra-
leigh plank road. At Averysborough the long-cherished
plans of Joe Johnston were proved futile, his army badly

now i KNOW.

punished, and the old reputation of our corps honorably
sustained. At Bentonville the disheartened leaders of
the rebellion made their last despairing, wild, but fruit-
less stand before Sherman's troops. For a little time
their assault showed something of their ancient vigor ;
but, as our scattered forces came flocking to the field,

their discretion
prevailed, and they
retired. After rest-
ing a few days at
G o 1 dsborough to
refit, we hurried on
to Raleigh. The
foe seemed intent
only on necessary
flight. Here we
received their
very welcome sur-

And now, having
finished the work
assigned us, and
brought again ev-
ery portion of our
beloved country under the control of the national arms,
we gladly turned toward home, loving the arts and du-
ties of peace far better than the harsh scenes of war.
Reaching Washington, the twentieth corps participated
in the grand review, and won high compliments from
the spectators. An impartial writer has declared the



second division of the corps the crack division of the
vast assemblage. A few days later the corps was dis-
banded, and now most of its noble members are enjoy-
ing the well earned comforts of the homes they so val-
orously defended. May they long live to recount their
great achievements, and to perpetuate in narrative, and
song the memories of their brave fellows who fell in the
conflict, and who sleep everywhere from Maryland to




RETURNING home at the close of the war, I re-
mained for nearly two years, a portion of the time
with my father, and the remainder with friends in Mad-
ison County, Ohio. This period I will pass over with-
out further notice.

In 1863 an uncle, my mother's brother, went to Cali-
fornia. He was continually writing for me to come to
him. I hesitated a long time. Finally he became, as
he thought, permanently located in Piute County, Utah
Territory. Then he again wrote me, holding out in-
ducements so strong that I could no longer resist. He
wrote to his brothers and to me of the enormous for-
tunes that were made in a few days ( like Jonah's gourd,
that sprung up in a night), and that people who would
or did come there would amass fortunes ten and twenty
times faster than they could in Ohio.

Consequently I could not rest satisfied until I had
turned all my resources into cash, and the Fall of '68
found me in Utah, in a new mining camp located two
hundred miles south of Salt Lake City. I was green
in the business of mining. I had some money; but I
loaned it to uncle and his friends. The consequence
was, I must work or starve. This now brings me up
to the beginning of a three years' sojourn in Utah.


Utah is situated in the great basin between the
Rocky Mountains on the East and the Sierra Nevada
on the West. Some of the valleys owned and worked
by the Mormon saints are as fertile as any on the conti-
nent. They raise everything for their own use, and
have considerable of an export trade with the adjacent
States and Territories. But, for all that, I found it was
as much as people could do to live there, for the Terri-
tory was populated with fanatics, and unless you were
one of their creed, and agreed with them in their wild
notions, you were liable to be forever lost unless you
passed through the ordeal of Blood Atonement. You
should be murdered for the remission of your sins.
And they were careful that this should be done in se-
cret. Not that the chosen of the Lord should operate
with deadly revenge, on dark nights; but that the per-
petrators of their criminal deeds might be the better
concealed from the eyes of the Law and of the Christian
world. Unless persons residing there were of their
faith, or upheld them in their deeds of violence, such as
murdering, stealing, and burning the property belonging
to the Gentiles, they were regarded as evil doers, by the
Mormon profession. Violent acts, fully premeditated,
and without any cause or provocation whatever, were
committed time and again; were almost daily occur-
rences, indeed. Numbers of instances could I mention,
but they have been fully narrated heretofore by others,
such as following up and murdering in the most brutal
manner, one whole emigrant train of men, women,
and children, who were on their way to California.



To this day their bones lie bleaching in the sun. Some
claim that they did have a burial; but, judging from
appearances and the manner in which I saw the bones
lying scattered over the plain, it would be very difficult
for Brigham Young, Haight, Higbee, and Delee, and
their hordes of destroying angels to verify the statement


that they did bury those that were massacred at Mount-
ain Meadow.

Taking a view of the picturesque and beautiful land-
scapes which compose the Mountain Meadows, one
would hardly think that this had been the scene of such
a wanton outrage. But this was no worse than hun-


dreds of others. Several incidents have come under
my own observation. One I may mention, occurred in
Manti, San Pete County. There was a young man living
there who had become entangled in a love affair with a
young lady of the same place. It so happened that

Bishop S , of the precinct, had had revelations; that

is, the Lord had commanded him to take this young lady
as his wife, notwithstanding the fact that he had several
wives already. The bishop tried to reason the young
lady out of having anything to say to the young man.
But the fact was, the young couple were engaged to be
married; and the bishop, finding that loving words to
his desired darling were of no avail, resolved not to be
outdone, but to seek revenge on the young man. Con-
sequently he had a secret conference with a few of the
brethren, and they decided to hold a meeting in the
school-house, which meeting the young man should be
prevailed upon to attend. At this meeting these plot-
ters in a most cruel manner destroyed the manhood of
the young man. He, after lingering some time in great
suffering, died. Several instances of like character have
taken place in Utah, all in obedience to the "revelations
of the Lord," as given to those whose lives have been
passed worse than brutes of the field. Another way of
seeking revenge is for some one to sell horses or cattle
to one not belonging to the faith. Then officers are
sent to arrest him for stealing. He is certain to receive
no mercy, because they will murder him on the road
to trial, and make a report to the effect that he had
been some desperado of the worst dye. The case of


D. P. Smith, of Piute County, is a good illustration. He
bought a span of mules from a certain saint who resided
in Ogden, a settlement thirty-six miles north of Salt
Lake City, and took them to the mines on the Sevier
River. They followed and arrested him on the charge
of stealing the mules, .and started to take him to the city
for trial. They soon became tired of him, and, after
hauling him twenty-five miles, they shot him, and buried
the body in an old manure bank.

One more illustration of their saintliness. Captain
Hawley, now living at Pleasant Grove, Utah, hired a
young man of seventeen years of age to work for him.
After the young fellow had labored six months Captain
Hawley paid him off with an old horse that was not
worth a cent, since good broncos were selling at only
ten and twelve dollars a piece. The young fellow, glad
to get anything, took the horse, and started toward
Corinne. Captain Hawley waited a sufficient time for his
victim to get well on his way, then got the sheriff and fol-
lowed and arrested him, before he had reached Corinne,
on the charge of having stolen the horse. The Mormons,
being so bitterly opposed to worldly immigration into
Utah, would charge any criminal offense against a Gen-
tile already in the Territory. So it was with the young
man with the horse. He was taken to the nearest tree
and hung by the neck, his hands being untied. When
he was swung off he commenced to climb the rope
hand over hand. Captain Hawley then took a small
cedar post that lay there and broke both of the young
man's arms, and, after pounding him with the club until



satisfied, he rode off and left the poor fellow to the
mercy of some one who could show enough sympathy
for such unfortunates to give him a burial.

The people in Utah who piofess to belong to the
Mormon Church are two-thirds of them direct from Eu-
rope (Danes and Swedes being largely in the majority),
and among the most of them ignorance predominates.
I have seen in Southern Utah the women out plowing
with cattle, breaking up the ground, harrowing and
seeding it, and tending and gathering their crops, while
the men were
too shiftless t o
either help them
or otherwise to
provide suste-
nance for their

Hundreds of
them live in
adobe houses. These are made by mixing black earth
to the consistency of thick mud and forming it into very
large-sized blocks shaped like bricks. Then they are
spread over a piece of ground leveled off for the pur-
pose, there to be sun-dried, when they are considered
fit material of which to build their houses. Then they
go to the canon and there cut small straight poles
for the roof. The poles are laid along the sides of the
house, one end resting on a large log that is laid up
for a center beam, the other on the top of the adobe
wall; after which they mix more mud and water together



and plaster these poles all over. This forms the roof.
Shingle and all other expensive roofs are dispensed with.
Here in those castles the saints have their wives brush-
ing up their dirt floors, washing, mending, ironing, cook-
ing and indeed providing for the support of the house-
hold, while they themselves spend their time in receiving
revelations from the Lord regarding the future prosper-
ity of Mormondom and the number of additional wives
it would be necessary to take in order to obtain celestial

The following illustration is given to convey some idea
of marriage in Utah. A certain Mr. Buntz, who is now
living in San Pete County, Utah, received a revelation
from the Lord, as he claimed, that, notwithstanding he
had already a number of wives, he must still increase
his better half by taking to his arms and marrying three
sisters who were living near by. He married all three
at one and the same time with as much unconcern as if
it were an every-day occurrence. Another instance I
will notice. There w r as a certain bishop then living in
Provost City, who became enamored with a married
lady of one of the adjoining villages. In order to obtain
his sixth loved one he went to the lady's husband, and
there in pleading tones he narrated the revelations he
had received from the Lord, setting forth the way in
which he must do in order to receive his share of celes-
tial glory in the world to come. The husband listened
very attentively until the bishop had finished his request;
then, in a good-natured way, he showed him the fallacy
of such proceedings both in a moral and religious view.


But the bishop was not to be argued out of his hope of
celestial happiness. That night the husband was fol-
lowed and murdered in cold blood upon his own door-
step. Some who read this may think that I am overstat-
ing the facts. Indeed such is not the case ; for I have
given only a few instances when I could recount more
than one hundred such, most of which can be verified
by many who are still living in Utah, and in surrounding
States and Territories.

I will next speak of the scenery. In traveling through
Utah from the north-east you are constantly passing into
and out of canons with mountains on either side, tower-
ing for thousands of feet above you. These mountain
sides, where not too rocky and abrupt, are covered with
a dense growth of timber, while between the mountains
in the canons are clear running brooks of cold water, in
most of which trout abound.

In traveling along one frequently passes alkaline
springs, boiling springs, and springs of almost freezing
water oftentimes located only a few feet apart. Many
of these springs are intermittent in their action and they
are all a source of unfailing interest to the traveler and

The Jordan River and City Creek run through the
city of Salt Lake, affording an abundant supply of the
purest water in any city as large as this, in the world.
Most beautiful trout are hooked out of the streams, by
the little boys, right in the street.

After leaving Salt. Lake City, going south, one is
struck with the prominence of the old Wasatch range,


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Online LibraryJames SwisherHow I know, or Sixteen years' eventful experience → online text (page 2 of 21)