John J. Hight.

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

. (page 23 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 23 of 47)
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We can not be successful until it is utterly overthrown.
Many wrongs have been, and still are, heaped upon the
negro race. We must change our course and repent before
God, and make restitution, before we can hope for complete
success. We must conquer ourselves before we can con-
quer others. Of all the States, Kentucky seems the slowest
to learn.

Saturday, April i6. — We reached Nashville before day,
but remained on the cars until light. The men were then
placed in the Zollicoffer Barracks, This is, perhaps, the
largest building in Nashville. It was commenced before
the war, but not completed. It was designed as a hotel.
The Government took possession of it, added some floors,
stairs, etc., and turned it into barracks. It was formerh-
used for the continement of rebel prisoners, but is now used
for our own men. It will conveniently and comfortabh'
accommodate a laro-e number of men — several thousand. I


learn that an Eastern company has purchased it, and intends
refitting it for a hotel this present season.

The horses were placed in a Government stable. The
officers stopped at the Sewanee House. There is no better
house than this in Nashville, and I assure the reader that it
is not good enough for stray dogs to board at. The cooking
is poor and the bill of fare light. Everything about the
tavern stinks. The traveler experiences great relief- — when
he leaves. The landlord contributes his share to this, by
relieving his guests of three dollars a da}^ for tormenting

A change has come over Nashville since we were camped
here last. I remember the citv distinctlv when I first reached
it. It was on a Sabbath day, in the spring of 1862. It was
soon after the loyal army had taken possession. There was
a great clattering of army wagons about the street. The
citizens were very quiet and idle. They were standing
about the streets as spectators. The military and the civil
did not mix. They seemed to be strangers to each other.
All the fences and out-buildings were intact. There were
no fortifications. The ruins of the destroyed bridges were
fresh. Everything wore the air of "waiting for something
to turn up," save the Yankees, who wore blue and went
bustling about town.

I came again. It was from the South. The Federal army
was on the retreat. A deep, unexpressed feeling pervaded
the community. The loyal secretly feared evacuation, and
the rebels fondly hoped for it.

I came again. Bragg had been driven from Kentucky.
The patriotic army again had faced the South. An air of
destitution reigned around the city. But little could be pur-
chased, and that only at extravagant prices.

Since that time a great change lias come, as I stated above.
The streets are full of people and wagons. Thousands of
shops have been opened. A great many buildings have
been erected, and many others are going up. These are
generally built of ruin brick. They are put up hastily and


rented at enormous prices. Though the fences in the
suburbs, and many of the smaller buildings', are destro3^ed,
yet an air of thrift prevails the community. A feverish state
of speculation is abroad in the city. Everybody seems in a
hurrv. Manv of the vile old rebels have sunk into insicrnifi-
cance, and many of the young ones have been killed.
Enterprising men, and not a few land sharks and Jews, have
come in from the North. Nashville has become a live and
growing city. May the chivahy never rule it again. Ma}'
the cause of slavery be entirely removed. Under the cher-
ishing influence of free
labor Nashville will become
a great and thrifty city.

I attended services at the
Second Presbyterian
Church, Sabbath morning.
The building had recently
been refitted on the inside.
The organ and choir made
good music. The minister,
I believe, is named Allen.
He is a loyal man, formerly
a resident of Shelbyville.
He preached an able ser-
mon. It was on secret
• prayer. Such sermons can
but be a blessing to those that hear. I went home,
refreshed and strengthened.

Some progress is being made toward reorganizing the
church in Nashville. But the progress is slow. So wedded


* Was mustered in as First Lieutenant of Company D, November 2r)th,
1861. Resigned June 17th, 1S62. Enlisted in the Fourth Indiana Cavah-\-,
and was appointed First Lieutenant of Company L February 15th, 1863, and
was promoted to Captain, March ist, 1S65. Since the war he has been
engaged, principally, in the mercantile business, part of the time as travel-
ing salesman. lie is now engaged in the hardware business at Ladoga,
Indiana. He is in prosperous circumstances, and has a warm spot in his
heart for his old comrades of the 5Sth Indiana, his first associates in the army


had the church become to slavery, that Christianity was
much diluted. •In the reorganization, the old materials will
mostly be laid aside, being unfit ibr the temple of the Lord.
A young Methodist preacher, by the name of Cramer, a
brother-in-law of General Grant, is retitting two of the Meth-
odist Churches. The Nashville Methodists are great trait-
ors. Unless some better stock is imported, there will not be
salt enough to save the Methodist Church here. There are
thousands of loyal Methodists in Tennessee, but they are
principally in the eastern part of the State. A few loyal
preachers are now collecting these stray sheep into the fold.
At Cleveland, and other places, the good work goes on

Monday, April i8. — We had orders to begin our march
from Nashville at six a. m. But we could not comply, as
all the preparations were to be made. Two horses were
drawn and shod. One of them was a very nice sorrel,
which fell to the lot of Qiiartermaster Raftan. The other
was a very clumsy grey, which Adjutant Whiting was to
ride. A wagon and six mules were drawn. Three days'
rations were issued to the men. The wagon was loaded
with three mess chests — two for the line, and one for the tield
and staff — three new wall tents, drawn at Indianapolis, the
officers' bedding, six axes, and as many hatchets, and three
days' forage. We left Zollicoffer Barracks at twelve m.

It is one hundred and fifty-one miles to Chattanooga. It
is a shame to make the men walk tiiis distance along a rail-
road. They have already walked eighty miles, from Lou-
don to Chattanooga, that they might re-enlist. It is cruel to
add one hundred and fifty-one miles more. It is true the
trains are crowded wit^ army supplies. But all the men
going to the front can be easily transported. There are so
many trains each day, that, by putting only a few on each,
all can easily be forwarded. It was ditlerent once, when
great numbers of veterans were returning to the field. But
the rush is now over. However, the 58th has traveled this
road often, and can do so again.


We moved out on the Murfreesboro pike. I remember
well the day we last marched over this road ; aye, and the
first time, too.

It was a hot September day, 1862. We had encamped
the previous night on Stewart's Creek. By daAdight we
were upon the pike, with leaning t'orms towards Nashville,
It was about twenty-five miles to the city, but we had but
half the day for the trip. The air was dry. Water was
very scarce. No rest was given to the men. It was on, on !
The cedars were white with lime dust from the pike. The
sun shone with an Auofust fierceness. But no time must be
lost. We reached Nashville by one o'clock. We were
with Buell's arm^'. There seemed to be neither begin-
ning nor ending to the stream of soldiers pouring into

A change comes over the spirit of my dream. It is
December 26, 1862, The army of Rosecrans begins to
advance on Bragg at Murfreesboro. McCook, with the 20th
Army Corps, is on the right ; Thomas, with the 14th, is in
the center; and Crittenden, with the 21st, is on the lelt.
The 58th is with Crittenden. We advance on the Murfrees-
boro pike. Another Division is in front. The rain is fall-
ing. The sound of cannon is heard in front, and far to the
right. It was a day long to be remembered.

There are not so many fences now as then, but there are
more than some months since. A number have been built,
and some have been larming without much fencing.

It is spring to-day ; it was winter then ; everything is now
more cheerful. The world then seemed to stand in sus-
pense and listen. Now men seem to be looking forward.
A few rebels are still sullen, still hoping for the coming of
the Southern braves. But most of the people seem content
with the new order of things.

We passed the insane asylum, still looking quiet and
beautiful. Here is the place where General Rosecrans
passed us, smoking his cigar, December 26, 1863. "Every-
thing ends in 'nigger' these days," said one. "No matter


how it begins, it ends in 'nigger.' " Rosccrans' staff' was
dashing by, and he pointed to it lor a verification of his say-
ing. The escort was long, and threatened to terminate with
white men. But finally the end came. It was negroes.
They dash by, giving unconscious verification to the saying
of the wag. The fence that we sat on when laughing at
this occurrence is gone.

Early in the afternoon we went into camp, on a little
grassy plot by the roadside. There was a frame church on
the left hand of the pike. Our new horses were hitched up
to the bushes. The wagon was unloaded. Being without
servants, the officers did their own cooking. I am messing
with the field and staff', plus Lieutenant J. G. Behm. Major
Downey and Lieutenant Behm acted as cooks for the even-
ing. Such hilarity I had not seen for some time. Men
jumped about like boys. " Home again," was the expres-
sion which fell from every one. We soon had supper, of
baker's bread, ham and coffee. This was better than at the
hotel Sewanee, for there they had neither. Night came on,
and I lay down in the tent to sleep. I soon knew no more
of this dav.

Tuesday, April 19. — The morning was lovelv. We
rose, breakfasted, and started at our leisure. We soon
reached the spot where Lavergne once was. It was here, on
the 27th day of December, 1862, that the blood of the 58th
Indiana was first shed in battle. I remember the bivouac in
the woods the preceding night, how we waited for the fog to
rise next morning ; how the 26th Ohio charged on the left of
the pike, and the 58th on the right, at twelve m. Here
young Reavis, of Company B, was severely wounded, and
afterwards discharged. William Witherspoon was injured
on the head, which finally resulted in spasms. Several
others were wounded. But the 58111 never quailed.

The town is now destroved. There is a fort, and a garri-
son of two Regiments. We stopped for dinner at Stewart's
Creek. We camped before night, on the north bank of
Stone River. The old battlefield is mostly under cultiva-


tion. A company has five or six hundred acres in cotton,.
They hire their laborers at an average price of eight dollars
per month and board. The negroes are industrious and con-
tented. They like the system much better than slaver v.
They are fed on plain, substantial diet. Many of the plant-
ers in these parts are paying their laborers. Mr. Wallace, a
rebel, is hiring his own former slaves. He savs he prefers
it to the old plan. INIany of the Southerners declare that
they never will pay the negroes. Some of them fondlv hope
that the happy days of lordship over negroes will return.
"We will get the power over the negroes again," they say.
Vain delusion. Misfortune is sure to overtake all who resist
the new order of things. Those planters who are employing
hands and cultivatintj their lands will make lari>-e sums of
money. Several hundred dollars' worth of cotton can be
raised on an acre.

I saw the place where the 58th stood at the battle of Stone
River. The graves of our men are there. The little skirt
of timber is still standing, the trees being covered with bul-
let marks. A monument is being erected by Hazen's Brig-
ade, to the memory of their comrades who fell in this battle
and at Shiloh. It is of blue limestone — a very substantial

Nearly all the men had purchased boots at home. These
are made after the usual style of home — smaller than the
feet. Consequenth', many had sore leet by this time.
Hence, a number of army shoes were drawn at Murfrees-
boro. These shoes are made large, with broad toes, and
are excellent for marching. Whatever the United States
does is generally well done.

We drew three daj^s' rations arid forage at Murfreesboro.
We then continued our march, on the Shelbyville pike. We
soon entered what was to me a new region of countrv. We
found a good pike, and a fine country. A number of farm-
ers had come from the North, and were occupying some of
the deserted plantations. We camped for the night at a lit-
tle spring, about a mile from Fosterville. The 23d Ken-


lucky was just ahead of us all dav. Thev went several
miles farther than we did.

Thursday, April 21. — We early resumed the march.
T'he town of Fosterville is entirely destroyed. Instead of
turning- to the left and traveling along the main railroad, we
continued on the Shelby ville pike. This is the road trav-
eled by all the troops marching through to Chattanooga.

We had gone but a little way when I met two women
dressed in black, sitting on their horses at the end of a lane.
One of them told me thijit she was John Patterson's mother,
and wished him to go home with her. John was along with
the Regiment. He had enlisted, but had not been mustered.
Major Downey sent him with his mother. He had been
constantly sa3'ing that his mother was dead. He is the same
boy who used to attend to mv horse. He went North with
Captain Chappel last fall.

In the afternoon we reached Shelbyville. The Regiment
had been here once belbre, in the summer of 1862, when I
was sick, in the Huntsvillc iiospital. This was once a lovelv
town. It lies amongst the hills and cedars, near the bank of
Duck River. But war has laid its glory low. The court
house and many other buildings are entirely destroyed.
This is the most loyal town in Middle Tennessee.

We found the road exceedingly rough as we turned
towards Tullahoma. We had no pike. We wound about
amongst the hills. We met some cavalry. Among them
was a part of the 3d Ohio, who used to be in our Division.
They were moving to tiie rear — as was their usual habit
when with us. They knew not what the}' were going to the
rear for this time, however.

We ascended to the table land, but the hill was less steep
than on an\' of the roads north of here, which I have trav-
eled. We entered upon the same barrens, which are every-
where to be lound along the outer rim of these table lands.
The forests are of scrubby oaks. We camped, after march-
ing about fifteen miles, at a distance of three miles from
Tullahoma. It took until about twelve m. to draw four


days" rations and forage. We were then marched ten miles,
by two canteens of whisky, to Elk River. We were there
by 2 : 30 p. m. The men were marclied ver^' last, and
hardly given any rest. Our commanders were hunting tor
Estell Springs, but thev were not on this road. We
encamped for the night in an orchard. Many of the officers
and men scattered about the country, whither they pleased.
The Regiment is greatly demoralized. It is almost impos-
sible to accomplish any moral reformation amongst men
without discipline.

Sunday, April 24. — The morning is damp and cold.
The Colonel designs marching no farther than Decherd —
five miles. As our tents are pitched, the rain is falling, and
it is Sabbath, I can see no necessity of marchinp; at all.

We moved from the camp, under command of Major
Downey. He did not know the road, and made no inquiries
until he was far off the track. We blundered along through
the woods until near noon, traveling about ten miles to reach
Decherd. ^^\^ stopped nearly on the fame spot that our
Regiment occupied in 1862. There has been a great change
here since then. The hiah fence built by General Wood, to
check the advance of rebel cavalr}-, has been burned.
Indeed, most of the lencing in these parts has shared the
same fate. Dead mules and horses may be seen by hun-
dreds. No effort has been made to bury them. The stench
is very oppressive in camp. Otherwise, our camp is very
pleasant. We have a little shade and plenty of cold water.
The leaves are putting out very fast. The weather has gen-
erally been very pleasant since we left Nashville. We have
had some showers, mostly at night. The grass is growing
finely. Already we can turn our new horses loose about
camp. They will graze without straying away. It is aston-
ishing how soon a horse will learn to stay about camp.
They will associate with men in the army as they do with
horses at home.

At two p. m. I preached to a large congregation. My
subject was "Christian Joy.'" I took occasion to point out


the imliappines.s of the ungodly. I can not believe that our
meeting was altogether useless. Mav God bless the services
ot' this afternoon. We labor amid the jeers of many. At
Decherd we overtook the 23d Kentucky, the 44th Illinois,
the 65th Ohio, and 57th Indiana. All these Regiments are
here, keeping the holy Sabbath. The blessings of the Lord
will abide upon these Regimental commanders, if they keep
all the otiier commandments.

Monday, April 25. — We drew two days' rations this
morning. The men having not entirely recovered from sore
feet, and not having urgent orders, the Colonel wisely con-
cluded to rest to-day. This rest was very acceptable to me,
though I am not so wearied as one who has carried his knap-
sack, and walked.

There are several sick men in the Regiment. George
W. Anderson, of Company F, and James R. Fowler, of
Compan}' K, are the worst oH'. x\ number of sorefooted
men have been sent ofTon the cars.

Tuesday, April 26. — I took the letters into town this
morning. Qiiartermaster Raffan being sick, rode^in with
me and remained. He is ver-\' ill.

The Regiment began their march at the same time ; I soon
overtook them. We now began to travel amongst the moun-
tain scenery, which renders East Tennessee tamous. We
came to Cowan, which seemed in a mountain cove. We
soon began the ascent of the mountains. Tlie road was
exceedingly rough, but the mountain is not as high as at
Pelham or Altamont. 2\s we gain the summit the
spires of Winchester, and all the valley, lav at our feet.
We soon begin to descend. The road passes over
the tunnel. Here on our left is a guard over an air
hole in the tunnel. We pass a long train of baggage,
belonging to the 19th Michigan. They have every kind
of old trash.

We stopped by a gushing mountain stream for dinner.
Here in these wilds, where there is little else, are to be
f)und the finest springs of cold water.


The march is resumed after an hour's rest. The roads
are exceeding rugged. We passed up and down narrow
mountain roads. We camped a mile in advance of Tan-
talon, on Coe Creek.

Next da}' we continued the march along the creek.
There were some little farms in the valley and mountains on
either side. The valley widened. We soon came to the
residence of a rich man, owning over twenty thousand acres
of land. He had planted over seven hundred acres of corn
last year, all of which the Yankees gathered for him. I
suppose this man's name is Anderson, as he resides bv
Anderson Station. Near this station w"e passed the spot
where the 20th Connecticut camped last night.

We camped about two miles from Stevenson, Alabama.
We stopped amid many unburied, stinking mules. It is now
almost impossible to find a camping place where there are
not dead mules.

We soon reached Stevenson, next morning. Some of the
same old houses were there which I saw in 1862. The
Alabama House, then, was now a Soldiers' Home. x\ large
number of cabins have been erected, chiefly for contrabands.
Some field works have been constructed. We paused long
enough to draw three days' rations. We then resumed our
w'ear}^ march. The dirt road led us through the .vallev in
almost every direction. And there was not onh' the road
we traveled with our horses, but many, others, winding
about in almost ever}^ direction. The footmen traveled on
the railroad — not on the cars.

In my riding I fell in company with the Chaplain of the
20th Connecticut. He appeared to be a man of medium size,
both in body and mind. He has been in the field since last
September. I have no doubt that he is an earnest, faith-
ful and successful laborer.

We came up with his Regiment. Thev belonged to the
1 2th Arm}' Corps, but now constitute a part of the new 20th
Corps, under General Hooker. The men wore very neat
clothing for soldiers. Instead of hats like our men, thev


wore caps. These iire not so comfortable, but much neater,
than hats. The knapsacks of these Eastern bovs are more
neatly packed than ours. The bhmkets are placed upon the
knapsack in a very nice roll. The men keep to their places
better than Western men. It is no use to deny that they
are better soldiers than Western men, so tar as discipline,
order and neatness are concerned. Thev make better
ijfuards and, indeed, are superior on any kind of detached
duty, which requires what is called "style." All honor to
them for this. But in one respect our Western men are
superior to the Eastern. We are better lighters. This has
been demonstrated by the whole historj^ of the war. There
is no occasion, there lore, for any jealousy between Eastern
and Western troops. I have often been pained during this
marcli at our men for making contemptible reproaches at
the Eastern troops. They generally are better bred than
our men, and do not retort to the same extent. This bel-
lowing of one body of soldiers at another is all wrong, and
siiould not be permitted by the officers.

We camped in sight of Bridgeport. Again we had the
perfume of dead mules.

After supper, in company with Lieutenant R. A.
Woods, I took a walk about Bridgeport. We passed
through t4ie boatyard. The Goyernment has seyen steamers
in progress of construction. One of these has made a suc-
cessful trip to Chattanooga. I am no judge of such matters,
but the work seemed to be going bravely ahead. The
steamers seemed to be substantial and good. We returned
to camp with the impression that Uncle Sam was a thor-
ough-going old gentleman. The noble forts which protect
the bridge and boatyard, only confirmed us in our opinion.

We were detained some time Eriday morning in Bridge-
port, drawing forage and getting the mules shod. We
passed along the railway to our old acquaintance, Shell-
mound. We saw the familiar face of Nickajack Cave, but
had not time to call. There were many empty huts here,
indioatiuL'- tliat the irarrison had mostly ijone to the front.


We went by without stopping, until we came to the largt^
spring that flows from Raccoon Mountain, just abov-e the
Station, tiere we dined.

The road from this point, for some distance, lias been
recently improved. There was great need of this, for the
road was exceedingly rough last September, when General
Crittenden's Corps passed this way. Our way lay along a
romantic route. At one place the road lay just above the
waters of the Tennessee, while towering palisades of solid
limestone rose for several hundred feet above our heads.
There was no cessation to the stench of dead horses and
mules. They tell the severity of last autumn's campaign on
our army.

We jogged along, making most excellent headway. In
due time we came to the grand trestlework over Running
Water. It was a ruin when I saw it last, bv moonlight, in
September, 1863. Now, it was a grand sight to see the
cars passing over the bridge, more than an hundred feet high.

In oiu" march of April 30th, nothing of special incident
occurred. W^e followed the route the Regiment took in its
iirst advance on Chattanooga ; passing the camps of many of
the Regiments belonging to the 20th Corps. These camps,
as a rule, were ver}- neatly and tastily arranged, and had
furnished a very comfortable abiding place for the soldiers
during the winter.

Now we came to the point where the road turns around
the base of Lookout Mountain. This road has been

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 23 of 47)