John J. Hight.

History of the Fifty-eighth regiment of Indiana volunteer infantry. Its organization, campaigns and battles from 1861 to 1865 online

. (page 22 of 47)
Online LibraryJohn J. HightHistory of the Fifty-eighth regiment of Indiana volunteer infantry. Its organization, campaigns and battles from 1861 to 1865 → online text (page 22 of 47)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

amongst hands a sufficient number may be " recollected,"
who were incorrectly reported, to make all right. I under-
stand that some of the captin-ed have been reported as absent
bv authority. By changing this and some other items, all
mav vet come right. Commissioned faces are long to-night,
and non-commissioned are filled with sad misgivings.

Wednesday, February 17. — The great agony about
retaining the Regimental organization passed away.
Colonel Buell this morning obtained a promise that we
should go.

Thursday, February 18. — When I was at the river bank
this morning I noticed a new, portable, circular saw mill.
They were putting it up to work for the United States. But
far more interesting than this was a little side-wheel steamer
now used in transporting stone down the river to fill the
wooden piers of the new bridge. It can not be more thdn
forty-five feet long and twent3'-eight teet wide. It is a curi-

We hear rumors of heavy rebel forces at Sevierville. If
this be trvie, there will be warm work in these parts. Rvimor
says that we are being detained here on this account.

Friday, February 19. — While thinking on the text:
"Pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free
course and be glorified," it occurred to me to make it and
the additional words, "even as it is with you ; and that we
may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men ; for
all men have not faith," the foundation of a discourse at
home. The people there need stirring up, that they may
better appreciate the wants of the army. Oh ! that every
Regiment had a Chaplain, and all these Chaplains were
delivered from "unreasonable and wicked men," that the
word of the Lord might be glorified in the salvation of man\'
soldiers. If 1 go home, may God make me instrumental in
making many to see the wants of the army.

In my wanderings one afternoon I came to a shop, which
proved to be the 4th Corps wagon shop. Here was a great


multitude ot' our broken down ambulances and wagons.
A detail of soldiers were repairing them. Worn out
timbers and irons are replaced by new, and then the
entire work is repainted. Some of these wagons are
better than new. The men who do this work obtain no
extra wages.

Tuesday, February 23. — Afcer dinner T started on a
walk with Dr. Iloltzman. Seeing a crowd of men collected
at the place where our Missionary Ridge dead were buried,
we went there. It turned out that a company' of men were
taking up William Riley Blythe, of Company A, for the
purpose of sending him home. Mr. Logan McCrary, of
Fort Branch, had come out tor him. They were just closing
down the metalic coffin, as we came up. I did not see the
corpse, but understand that it presented a horrible sight. In
view of human decay, I often call to mind the expression of
Scripture, "this yile body." What is more disgusting than
a rotten human body? And yet this is what we must all
come to. Should we not strive to live so that "this vile
body may be changed like unto His glorious body, accord-
ing to the working, whereby He is able to subdue all things
unto Himself."

We passed on next to Fort Wood. There were some
camps which were neat and clean. I hope the day may
come when we will have tents and a camp. Our last was at
Hillsboro, Tennessee, last summer. A glance at the outside
of Fort Wood showed that there had been quite an improve-
ment since the last battle.

As we stepped upon the drawbridge we were halted by
the sentinel, who called, in most approved style, for "Cor-
poral of the guard." The Corporal needed no calling, for
he was standing by the guard. But this is military. The
Corporal stepped sprightly forward, saluted us, and informed
us that if we were commissioned oflicers we might walk in,
which we did. The inside of the fort is but little changed.
A magazine is being constructed. The same six large guns
are there.


From here we continue our walk to Fort Negley. This
was the first time I had been in this fort since the morning-
after we entered Chattanooga. It was September lo, 1863,
as we were going out after Bragg, that I went into this rebel
work, then called Star Fort.

In reading, in the March number of the Continental , an
article tVom Mr. Staunton on "The Treasury Report, and
Mr. Secretary Chase," I was impressed with another glori-
ous result of this war, a National currency. The Govern-
ment issues, and the National banks have all the advantages
and none of the disadvantages of the old National bank.
The miserable flood of " shin plasters," for such we may
call the bills of the innumerable banks formerly in circula-
tion, will be stopped. The new National bank is a savings
bank for the people. And after all that is said about patri-
otism, there will be nothing more binding than the five-
twenty bonds. We have long needed more nationality. I
am a lover of liberty, but not of State or local license. We
need a strong National Government. We can have this and
more freedom than we have ever had. I will prove this so
that the reader must admit it. We can have such a Govern-
ment, and make four millions of slaves free. Will not this
increase freedom ? We can have this kind of a Government,
and remove all those laws and lawlessness that has restrained
a free press in the South, and often in the North. Will not
this increase freedom? We can have a strong National
Government, and dispense with that interference with free
speech, which has prevailed alarmingly throughout the land.
Will not this increase freedom? We can have a strong cen-
tral power, and yet make it no crime to teach a negro, or for
one to be taught. Will not this increase freedom? And so
one might go on at great and truthful length. But time does
not permit.

Friday, Fb:bruary 26. — Every man and officer going to
Main street to-day is arrested. For a long time no passes
have been required. General Steadman, having lately been
placed in command of the post, has determined to show all


mankind that "/am running this machine."' These fooHsli
orders prevail, occasionally, but only for a few da\'s at a

About nine p. m., Saturday, February 27, it became a set-
tled tact that we were to start home to-night. Transporta-
tion was obtained for two hundred and eighty men and four
horses. In reference to each horse, a certificate had to be
made that it had been purchased at a distance from the seat
of war, had neyer been the property of the United States,
and was actually owned by the possessor. Most of the
horses with the Regiment had been " picked up" — I use a
mild expression — and could not be taken North. Many of
our officers in the army are too stingy to buy horses.

We lelt our camp equipage and mess chests behind. I
rode my horse to the depot and carried m\ chair in my

Our embarkation was poorly managed. Some of the
men, and all of the baggage and horses, were placed on the
wrong train. Officers and men were crowded in one pro-
miscuous mass. Some of the cars were overflowing, and
others almost empty. I seated myself in my chair in a car
principally occupied by Company F and Lieutenant-Colonel
Moore, Captain Tousey, Lieutenants Mason, Behm and
Torrence and Doctor Holtzman. Unlike an omnilnis. there
was no " room for just one more."

It was a great sleep we had tliis night ; T found neither
ease nor ri\st. I fell asleep a number of times but a sudden
jerk would bring me to consciousness. I tell a time or two
on the men lying about m\- chair.

We stopped before day. When it, was light we tbund
ourselves at Stevenson, Alabama, switched ofl'. We lay
here until about ten a. m. We then moved oft' at a slow
rate, awaiting on tiie convenience of all passing trains, as we
were behind time.

All of Monday night we were on the road. It was rainy
and cold, and as many of the men were on top of the cars
there was much suflering. Bob Lemon, of Company I, a


gallant young boy, who was Orderly to General Wood, and
the only one of his staff' or escort that remained with him at
Chickamauga, performed a rare somnambulistic feat. He
was missing when we reached Nasliville and it was supposed
that he had been brushed off the train, and perhaps killed.
But he came up on the next train. He reported that, having
laid down to sleep, the lirst thing that he was conscious of,
was standing in a stream of water up to his waist. It proved
to be Duck river. He had risen in his sleep and jumped off
the train, clearing the bridge, and plunging headlong in the
river. He met with an exceedinglv cold reception.

About daylight we reached Nashville and were quartered
in a Baptist Church. Here we remained until two p. m.,
when we marched to the Louisville depot and took another
train for that citv. We traveled all nisfht and until the
middle of the following afternoon before we reached Louis-
ville. The paymaster visited us the next day and the men
were made happy. Much of the money, however, was
spent foolishly, and much of the iaappiness was of a kind
that is^^rovved by sorrow and remorse.

Thursday, March 3, we crossed the Ohio River and once
more the 58th Indiana was on Hoosier soil. Another all
night by rail brought us to Indianapolis. At eleven o'clock
of the 4th, the 58th Indiana and 57th Indiana were honored
with a reception. We fell into line at the Market house. A
big fat man, Blake by name, took charge of us, and marched
us down to Little's hotel and then to the Soldiers' Home,
where a good dinner was provided for the soldiers. The
dinner was greath' enjo^■ed — not so the marching and parade.
Then the big fat man in charge had the band pla^' us a tune.

'T reckon," said he to Major Downey, "that you do not
hear much good music out in the bush."

The old man did not know how we were t(n-mented witli
just such music as this.

After this the Regiments were marched down Washing-
ton street to the State House, where a num'jer of addresses
were (jfiven. by Governor Morton and otiiers.


Next day, Saturday, March 5th, furloughs were made out
and the most of the men departed for their homes. And so,
for the next thirty days the 58th Regiment, as an organiza-
tion, is obliterated.

While I cannot follow the history of the Regiment during
this time, I can say for myself that I visited my old friends
in ditierent places and spent the time very pleasantly. I
rode to Martinsville on my horse, preaching there on Sab-
bath. Then I proceeded to Bloomington, mv old home ;
remaining there among relatives until March i6th, when I
went to Greencastle. The following week I went to Prince-
ton, and spent several da3's among friends here and at Evans-

Sabbath, March 27th, I preached in Princeton, in the
M. E. Church, on "Pilgrims' Life in the Armv." The
congregation was large and attentive. In the afternoon of
the same day I preached at Hight Chapel, and again in
Princeton in the evening.

Returning to Greencastle on Mondav, I spent a few days
there, then went to Bloomington. The time of expiration
ot our furlough was near at hand and I was busy making
preparations to return to Indianapolis, where the Regiment
was to re-assemble.

Here ends the record of my first term of service in the
army, and the beginning of the second. I am very thank-
ful to Almighty God that my life and health have been pre-
served. I return to the tield with a determination to be
more devoted to my work. With my past experience I can
certainly be more successful. May God bless our soldiers,
give victor}^ to our armies and peace to the land. Amen.


Indianapolis to Chattanooga — Furlough Endp:d — Re-
turning TO THE Front — Louisville to Nashville
BY Rail — ''Hoofing It" to Chattanooga — Inci-
dents BY the Way — Familiar Camping Places Re-
visited — Arrival at Chattanooga — Preparing
for an Active Campaign — Drillinc; — Fatigue
Duty— The Pontoon Service.

ON the morning of April 7th, at nine o'clock, Dr. Iloltz-
man and mvself turned the heads of our horses north,
and Bloomington was lost to our view. I felt no special
pangs on leaving home. I have a proper regard for my par-
ents, brothers and sisters. But vears have fled since I flrst
left home. I have become cosmopolitan. The attachments
of early days have to some extent been severed, but not for-
gotten. For near ten years I have been a wanderer on the
face of the earth. I have traveled much in mv own land.
I have been amongst the good and bad, the high and low.
I have gazed upon many of the grand scenes of art and
nature. I have been present in the din of battle. This
varied experience has so wrought upon me that I have but
few of those local feelings which manv have. I am not
unmindful of relatives or friends, nor forgetful of the scenes
and circumstances of other years. But I hurry on, hoping
to meet the loved and lost in Heaven.

I wish that I could return to the home work. It is exceed-
ingly pleasant to go around amongst the people and enjo}-
good meetings, and social intercourse with good people.


But tlie wants of the soldiers call me in another direction.
Something must be done to save the arm}- tVom demoraliza-
tion. I am, therefore, content to remain a Chaplain. May
God help me to be more efficient in the future than I have
been in the past.

We rode at a brisk walk, noticing some military positions.
One, especially, attracted my notice. It was the range of
hills composing the south bank of Bean Blossom Creek.
This, from the road, seemed an excellent position to defend
against an army advancing from the North. In case of a
defeat, there are suitable positions all the way to Blooming-
ton to check the enem3^ wdiile the trains are moving to the
rear. But I trust these lands will never be used for this piu"-
pose, but rather for grain and fruit.

It was two p. m. when we reached Martinsville. We tar-
ried an hour, to receive entertainment for man and beast,
and then we resumed our ride. After passing out of
the immediate vicinity of the town, we crossed a barren
range of hills. But we soon came to the fertile bottom lands
bordering on White River. We rode along until near sun-
down before we began seeking lodging. We were not sat-
isfied with most of the houses, and were rejected at two. I
told the Doctor that I w as desirous of stopping with a man
who w'as a Methodist and an Abolitionist. Just at dark,
when we had gone near thirty miles, and were too weary to
ride farther, w'e came to a nice farm lu)use by the roadside.
We hallooed at the paterfamilias, who sat at the door, and
were welcomed to a night's lodging. He proved to be an
Abolitionist and a Methodist. His name is Alrich. Af'ter
sup|")er, and a little conversation, we had prayers and retired
to bed. Sleep was sweet, after the wxnuy day's ride.

We settled our bills and took an early start from Farmer
Aldrich's. Passing by a mile or two of loveW land, we
came to the neat village of Waverly. I called a moment at
Brother Whithed's. He w^as formerly Chaplain of the 27th
Indiana, and expects to return soon to that Regiment. I
used to h'-ar tluit he acted very disgracetullv in the army.


But the strong desire expressed by the officers and men, to

have him return to the Regiment, shows that these tales

were not true. It used to be common to lie about Chaplains,

and is by no means rare now. But

"Error wounded writhes in pain
And dies amongst her worshipers."'

A cold rain began to fall soon after we left Wayerly. We
were yery chilly by the time we reached Indianapolis. This
led us to reflect dolorously on our exposed condition as sol-
diers. For a time we even enyied the comfortable farmers
by the roadside. Our horses, haying never been far from
home, acted very foolish as we entered the city. The}^ will
see worse sights than any here, if they and their owners live.

As soon as we had put our horses in the stable, we went
out on Washington street to learn about our Regiment, for,
as it was to meet in the city A^esterda}', we did not know but
that we had come too late. We soon met one of the bo3^s,
who informed us that the Regiment, or the most of it, was
at Camp Carrington. We, therefore, took a room at the
Little House, and made oursetves as comfortable as one can
at an Indianapolis hotel. We soon met most of the ofiicers,
who were generally stopping at the Oriental. It was a mis-
erable concern, and indeed, not very reputable. The cit}^
has not a single good hotel.

In the afternoon of the next day I walked with Dr. Holtz-

man to the cemetery. Since my visit, some years ago, it has

been enlarged and improved. We noticed the graves of

James Whitcomb, Austin W. Norris, and other leading men

of Indiana. M}^ attention was especially arrested by a very

strange inscription :


to clriou.s eyes, her age and ihrth

axd station, are not given;
Content to be unknown on earth.

An angel known in Heaven."

This is as beautiful as any epitaph I have met. It is retir-
ing, modest, loveh' and pious, like her whose grave it marks.
This is the resting place of Alice McDonald, daughter of


Judge McDonald. She was the cherished friend of my wife
in their girlhood. Often they wandered to school together.
Thev mutually enjo3'ed the blooming flowers and listened
with rapture to the songs of the birds. They were sweet
children, as I well remember, and when they approached
womanhood they gave themselves to religion. Gifted, edu-
cated and highly accomplished ; their adorations must have
been peculiarly acceptable to their Maker. For a season
thev separated, keeping love alive by a pleasant correspond-
ence. But thev met again. Mary died at New Albany and
Alice at Indianapolis.

Like twin sisters they now walk hand in hand, amid the
happy scenes of Heaven. Though the sunshine of earth
fell softly upon their heads in childhood, and all nature was
full of music and beauty to them — though teachers and pas-
tors encouraged and praised them, and all who knew them
gave them words of pleasantness and love — yet the happy
hours of earth cannot compare with those of Heaven. Here,
thev had been "children in the woods f ' the}' had hung their
swings to the branches of the giant beech, they had gathered
the acorns as they fell from the oak, and plucked the wild
flowers which adorned the shaded aisles of the forest. But
more enchanting scenery now surrounds them ; sweeter
flowers exhale an aroma about them. Dear girls I we will
not think of you as dead and in the silent tomb, but as living,
with the angels, in the Paradise of God. Too pure and too
good for the earth, the Good Shepherd has taken you to
himself. Happy will those be who meet you in that 15etter

It is the Sabbath da}'. I would like to have services witli
my Regiment. Ikit I am discouraged from attempting it
because of the confusion of the camp. The hubbub kicked
up by new recruits, is unlike anything we meet in the lield.
They are verN- poor hearers and poorer heediM-s of the word.
Time and "war's magniflcently stern array" will teach
them sense. Somewhat like the evil genius of Brutus, I will
say to them : "At Chattanooga, there I "


All who desired, had an opportunity of attending services
in the city.

I went to Wesley Chapel, on the Circle, Rev. vS. T. Gil-
lett, pastor. A brother from the Northwest Conference,
now in session at Knightstown, preached. The sermon was
good. At the close I went forward and spoke to the preach-
ers, and went home with Brother Gillett. I enjoyed myself
srreatlv until Sabbath Scliool time. I met sister Gillett and
her daughter-in-law, formerh^ Miss Hettie Conner, an old
friend. Brother Gillett's son, Omer, was present, now
almost grown to manhood. Miss Kate Jaquess, one of my
Evansville Sunday School children, was also present.

At two p. m. I attended the Sabbath School at Wesley.
The basement room was well filled and everything passed
off pleasantly. They use an excellent little book of appro-
priate lessons and hymns for opening and closing the school.
The lessons are read, alternately, in verses by the superin-
tendent and children. This work is published by the Meth-
odist Book Concern. I delivered a short address to the
children. It did me great good to be present once more in
a Sabbath School.

In the evening I attended services in the sarne church.
Of late years a melodeon has been used here, improving the
music but injuring the harmony of the church. It sounds
good to me. But I am told it shocks the feelings of man}^
of our old fashioned people. A good looking stranger
preached a poor sermon. I wish I could have preached. I
felt like pleading the cause of the soldiers before the congre-
gation. I could not have done worse than the brother in
the pulpit, had I made an entire failure.

Tuesday, April 12. — We leave the city to-day. We
crowded the horses, baggage and guards in one car, and the
Regiment in a freight train. It is disgraceful to the state of
Indiana, and an insult to soldiers, to transport them like hogs.
The Regiment left at eight p. m. I left at nine p. m., on the
express. But I was no better off than those on the freight
train. I literally "roosted" until reaching Seymour, I have


(lone many things in my time, but this was my first attempt
at "roosting." It was a success, but very tiresome to tlic

A number of men on board were drunk. Wliat a shame
that the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquor is not
prohibited by law.

In company with Lieutenant-Colonel Moore and Dr.
Iloltzman, I reached Jeffersonville before day and in advance
of the troops. We wandered along the streets until we
reached a hotel. We went in and slept until day. We then
found we were stopping at the American House. We took
breakfast, paid our bills, and walked to the depot. We
were just in time to meet the Regiment. They had been
traveling all night and were very cold and tired.

We immediatelv crossed the Ohio. On the Louisville
side of the river we awaited long in a cold, raw wind.
Finally, we were marched to the Soldiers' Home — a name
given, I suppose, ironicallv. Here the non-commissioned
ofilcers and men were left. The horses were taken to a Gov-
ernment stable. The officers went to the Louisville Hotel,
one of the linest houses I ever stopped at.

The people of Louisville care nothing for the soldiers or
anything thev possess, except their money. The onh' reason
whv thev are more friendly now, than when we were th^re
in the fall of 1862, is because the bo3's have some money
now. There should be a good anti-slavery paper started
here. The Louisville yourual is a vile sheet.

Thursday, April 14. — We expected to leave Louisville
at three p. m., but there was no room for us on the cars.
The 23d Kentucky went. The 58th returned to their quar-
ters and the ofliciM-s to the Louisville Hotel.

Friday, Ai'kil 15. — The Regiment, under command
of Captain Green McDonald, got on tiie Nashville train
at eight a. m. But it was tiie 40th Indiana's time, and the
58th got oft' again.

At three p. m. we tried the cars again. This time it was
a success. Our horses, after remaining twenty-four hours


on the train, began their journey. The men and officers
were furnished much better accommodations than on the
Jefferson ville train. We moved Hveh^ along the track. I
expected a slow move. But the train ran on good time all
the afternoon and night. We were not supplied with water.
I suffered a little from thirst. But not as I otten did during
the famous retreat of General Buell. How much more com-
fortable the present trip than thai. We then spent several
weeks on the tiresome march. Now a single night suffices
for the journey. We were then often hungr}^, and manv
were utterlv prostrated by the hardships of the way.

The larmers by the wayside seemed determined to go on
with their work as if there was no war on hand. The peo-
ple of Kentuck}^ are intensely pro-slavery. They love
slavery better than the National Government. I am im-
pressed that the judgment of God will yet overtake them.
Slavery is a sin against man — against God. It is one of the
most vile of all crimes. It is not only a sin itself, but hin-
ders all virtue and breeds all vice. It opposes religion,
education and virtue. It is the ifreat crime of America.

Online LibraryJohn J. HightHistory of the Fifty-eighth regiment of Indiana volunteer infantry. Its organization, campaigns and battles from 1861 to 1865 → online text (page 22 of 47)