John J. Hight.

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

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Fourteen sick men were sent to the hospital in the city.

The old members of the 58th were paid to October 31st.
Many of the men were sadly in need of money. Some
of the money will be sent by express and by private parties,
but most by allotment. We have received a general order
requiring immediate preparations for another campaign.

Saturday, December 31. — Lieutenant Samuel L. Sny-
der, of Company K, and forty-eight non-commissioned ofli-
cers and men were mustered out of the service of the United
States, to-day, on account of expiration of term of service.
One man, who is to be mustered out in the North, accom-
panied them home.

Sunday, January i. — Yesterday an effort was made to
throw a pontoon bridge over the other channel of the river,
but the effort resulted in a failure. The 3d Division, of the
20th Corps, General Ward commanding, came over on this
Island, to cross into South Carolina. In the evening all
returned to the city, except one Brigade. Several men were
wounded in the attempt. The work has been renewed
to-day. Our Regiment has been working all da}^ with more
success, as the wind is not blowing to-dav. Troops are
moving around on steamers.

Monday, JvVnuary 3. — The Regiment has been bus}- all
da}', pontooning. After having more than half completed a
canvas pontoon over the channel, beyond Hutchinson's
Island, they were ordered to place the canvas pontoon in
Back river, a channel still beyond. The remainder of the
day was spent in carrying out this order, and in making a
pontoon of scows beyond this island. The weather is pleas-
ant ; the sun is shining.

The 3d Division, 20th Corps, is being transported 1)}^
steamers from Savannah to the South Carolina shore.

This morning I went up town with Adjutant Behm. We
called at the postoffice, in the Government building, known
as the custom house. The post oflice is in the lower storj',
and is larjje enou"-li for a citv of this size. The ofHce' is


open to the citizens to-day, and stamps, in any quantit}', are
tor sale. Mail goes out at five p. m. Corporal Wood worth,
Company E, has been detailed to carry our mail.

We went to the express office and sent our money North,
paying one and one-fourth per cent., and taking all risks

Bay street extends from Ogeechee canal to the gas works,
a distance of about one mile. At the upper end of the
street, there are some small streets between it and the river,
but, in the main part of the city, it is the lirst street. There
is a row of storehouses between it and the river, but the
space between these and the river is not dignified by the
name of a street. These buildings are "under the bluff," to
use the common expression. From the wharf, there are
several winding ways for wagons up to Bay street, which
have been constructed at great expense. There are great
walls of stone, laid in cement, on either side of these streets,
and there are also steps for foot passengers. The level of
Bay street must be sixty feet above high tide. There is a
fine view from the lower end of the street — Hutchinson's
and adjoining islands ; the different channels of the Savan-
nah ; the South Carolina shore ; the windings of the river ;
the steamers Iving at the wharf, and gliding up and down the
stream ; the distant torts, with iloating flags ; the schooners
sitting quietly on the river, and ocean steamers farther down
towards the sea ; the masts of the fleet, lying at anchor
around the bend, where the hulls are hid from view ; and,
on the right, an endless panorama of low lands and inter-
mingled forests. Perhaps, upon this very spot stood the
founder of this ancient city, and, looking at the scene of
beaut}' at liis feet, beheld, in a vision, the futin"e city, rising
in glory on the bluffs and increasing in wealth and renown
through endless generations. This ground was certainly
made for a magnificent seaport.

There are some earthworks at this place, and also a mag-
azine, covered by a carpet of grass. A heavy siege gun,
lifting high its muzzle towards the sea, stands like a faithful


watch dog with eager gaze, ready to "bark" at an}'
approaching enemy. At the side of this stands a Hght-
house — a lamp post forty feet in hight. This is for our
friends — that for our enemies.

On the lower end of Ba}^ street, there are some very
ancient one-story tVame houses, the roofs of which are cov-
ered by a thick, heavy moss. One of them is labeled
"Washington Hall." I should judge, from its appearance,
and the use of the term "hall," that it was a hotel far back
towards revolutionary times. The people residing in these
parts are a sorry looking set, chiefly foreigners.

The Exchange stands on the left side of the street, and
about the center. From the Exchange, Bull street leads off
to the south, dividing the city into two districts, the eastern
and the western.

This street has been the theatre of several magnificent
reviews. Kilpatrick's cavalry was advertised to appear
to-day, but they failed, lor some reason unknown to the

A motly crowd was collected on the street to-day. At
the upper end, there were large squads of negroes, in the
Government's employ. Along the center, the crowds were
composed chieflv of soldiers. Here and there might be seen
a spruce naval officer. There was a goodly number of citi-
zens, and some ladies. At present, trade is dull, except a
few apples and the Savannah Republican — the latter a dime
each, and the former "three for fifty cents." Army wagons
are almost the only vehicles to be seen. There were man}'
horsemen, dashing over the boulders, like Jehu of old. The
soldiers are generally ragged and dirty, as they have not
drawn a supply of clothing since the campaign began ; and,
besides that, they have been doomed to sit over smoky, pitch
pine fires. The ofilcers are, many of them, "dressed to
kill." The stars of the 20th Corps prevail in numbers and
pomposity. The little fellows from "down East" go strut-
ting up and down the street, pregnant with their own import-
ance and superiority. What a pity there are not more


women to smile approvingly npon them. Oh, for the per-
fume of cambric handkerchiefs.

General Gear^^'s Division does up the provost business.
At tirst, thev were very annoying to the whole army, cast-
ing o-ood men into prison. But so many complaints have
been made that they are growing more moderate. That
hateful sound, "Show your pass, sir," is not heard so often.

Friday, January 6. — In the afternoon I walked over the
bridge between this and the next island, which was com-
pleted on last night. I also went over to the South Carolina
shore. The bridges are all complete, and a corduroy road
is being made over the island.

The South Carolina shore is below high tide, and is pro-
tected by levees. These lands are devoted to tiie cultivation
of rice.

The negroes cannot speak English distinctly, neither do
they seem to full}' understand what one says to them. The}'-
use a foreign twang and speak very rapidly, often repeating
"sir." The women were dressed with tlie usual gaudy
cotton handkerchiefs, wound about their heads, a good, sub-
stantial pad round-a-bout, without fastenings in front ; a
cotton dress, reaching halfway between knees and feet, and
pants of some kind of cotton stuff; many of them are shoe-
less. I did not see many men. These people are allowed
one peck of unhulled rice per week, and nothing more. By
their extra labor thev usually add something to this. They
are very ignorant of the merits of tlie present crisis. Some
of the soldiers treat them badly — stealing from them their
bedding and scant supply of rice.

Saturday, January 7. — I had the pleasure of seeing a
review of the 15th Corps, on Bay Street. By chance, I was
just coming, at about two p. m., into the street a square
from the Exclumge, w^hen the cavalcade, headed by some
Generals, came up and took positions just under the portico
of the Exchange. Foremost among these is General Sher-
man ; he rides a line but quiet horse. His bridle and saddle
display quite an amount of brass. lie is tall and slender.


He wears a Major-General's coat — blue, double-breasted, and
two rows, of nine buttons each, placed in sets of three. He
wears an old fashioned, "sideboard" shirt collar, the onl}-
one, I suppose, in the Army of Georgia. It looks very odd
and out of place. His gloves are without gauntlets, ding}'
and old. His hat is low crowned, sorry looking, and des-
titute of any ornament. When he saw the boys coming he
twitched himself this way and that, tugged at his collar,
pulled at his coat and made sundry adjustments of his
apparel, by way of preparation for the coming ordeal. But
he failed to make any improvement in his appearance. He
returned the salutations of the Division, Brigade and Regi-
mental commanders with a gentle wave of the hand, which
seemed to say, "All hail — Avaunt !"• He uncovered his
head when saluted by the colors.

Amongst others present, was Brigadier-General Williams,
a full, fat man, with legs thrust straight out. He wore
cla3'bank, corduroy pants, stuffed in big boots, a Brigadier's
coat, buttoned to the chin, a private's hat, turned down
before and behind, an officer's wreath for a band, yellow
belt, fall w^iiskers, liberally mixed with grey, and a face
like a dull old doctor, who loves good whisky, with a dis-
position to the gout.

General Ousterhaus was by the side of General Sherman,
managing the review with a lynx eye. At one time, when
the column clogged up, he sent an aide with orders for those
in front to double quick ; at another time he stormed at a
band, "to play on," when they had stopped; and again he
charges on the b3'standers crowding within the prescribed
limits. He looks like a man of thirty-three.

General John A. Logan, who has just returned from home,
is also present, on a large grey. He has glossy, coal black
hair and mustache. He impresses one as a man of talent.

General Howard was present — known to all by being one-
armed, and honored for his firmness as a christian. There
is nothing peculiar in his dress or appearance to me, at a


There were several other Major-Generals, and quite a
number of Brigadiers. Most of them are strangers to me.

The review impressed me more by recalling the heroic
deeds of the past, rather than by present display. As a
pageant it was splendid ; the music was good, the marching
fine. But I was more impressed by what was wanting than
what was present. The thinned ranks, the Regiments com-
manded by officers of the line, and the tattered and torn flags,
recall the bloody battlefields of Fort Donelson, Shiloh,
Corinth, Vicksburg, Chattahoochee, Atlanta, and many
others, where as many men died as march by us to-day. If
they are on review, to-day, it is before the gallant McPher-
son, in the land beyond. The 15th Corps has many equals,
and some superiors, on a grand review, but on the battlefield,
and in history, it stands unsurpassed. May its banners never
wave but in triumph, and may its dead rest in peace.

The 1 71)1 Corps has departed to parts unknown — to me.
I presume it has gone to Wilmington. Our people seem to
have made a failure there, and need help to renew the con-

Sunday, January 8. — By some mishap, a gate was
left open, and we awoke to -find our camp flooded. The
water did not cover all the ground, but it put out many fn-es
and came into many of the tents.

Mail received at ten a. m. It was just two weeks ago,
to-day, when the last came.

Companies A, F and K moved out to tlie other island. I
am much discoiti-aged about my duties. My way seems
almost entirely hedged up. How am I to attempt meeting
this morning? Three Companies are moving, the camp is
flooded, the weather is cold ; many of the men were working
last night, and the mail, for the first time in a fortnight,
comes just at church time. Were this the only time, I could
bear it with ri'signalion. liut this is now happening, time
after time. However, I did preach to about a dozen men
in the quarters of the mechanics. This was all the service
I held during the day.


Tuesday, January io. — I made another visit to the city
to-day, and took note of some other places of interest.

The monument to General Green is on Bull street, one
square from Bay, in the city of Savannah. It occupies the
centre of Pulaski Square, a shad}^ little park. Clirist's
Church and the Pulaski house face the square. It is in the
business part of the city. The monument is a plain, square
shaft, about fifty feet high. The material is granite. There
is no inscription. The foundation was laid, with Masonic
honors, by Lafayette, during his visit to this country in 1825.
It was not completed until 1832 or '33. It never gave satis-
faction to the public. Hence, the work was neglected and
no inscription has been put on it. It is, indeed, an unsightly
pile of large, square stones, laid one upon another. It
resembles more an abutment for a bridge than a memorial
of a hero of the Revolution. It was erected by "The Green
and Pulaski Monument Lottery Association," chartered by
the State of Georgia. This at once accounts for the
wretched execution of the work. Just think of covering up
rascality with the names of the honored dead, and professing
to appropriate the proceeds to the erection of a monument to
their memory. How would "The Green and Pulaski
Monument Horse Thief Association" sound? What an
appeal the lottery could make to the people : "Just send us
one dollar, and you will have the noble satisfaction of con-
tributing to one of the most sacred and praiseworthy works
of art, that ever engaged the attention or animated the hearts
of a grateful people, and at the same time may drinv a fi-izc
of ffty thousand dollars.''' I would propose this inscrip-
tion :











Forsythe Place is a splendid little park of several acres,
at the farther end of Bull street. It is surrounded by a
strong, high iron fence. There are many tall, straight
pines, and other shrubbery, which gave shade for the walks
and green carpet of grass. In the center there is a pool
which was once a fountain. In these war times the waters
have ceased to flow, and the four old satyrs, from whom the
water played in many a fancy jet in other days, are without
occupation, naked, and dirt}- as a rebel soldier. Indeed,
one of them has turned heels over head into the muddy pool.
Thus, Savannah is attempting to wash herself in the muddy
pool of her own sins.

Chaplain Pepper is a very nice man, and would not oflend
the devil, knowinglv. He called on the rebel Methodist
pastor in this citv, Parson Wynn.

"Brother W3'nn," said Chaplain Pepper, "can I pray for
the President of the United States, in your pulpit?"

"Oh, brother," said Parson Wynn, "pray for both Gov-

"But," said the Chaplain, "I do not recognize but one."

"Well, I am afraid it will olTend some of m}^ people if you
pray for President Lincoln, and I prefer that you should

So, Chaplain Pepper sat behind Parson Wynn and con-
cluded with a "good Lord — good devil" prayer, about as-
long as one's little finger and about as strong as sage tea.
What is Pcfpcr when it has no strength? Wherewith shall
it be fcfpcrcd?

Thursday, January 12. — The grand sights of this after-
noon shall never be blotted from memory. In company
with Dr. Holtzman, I attended the grand review of Kilpat-
rick's cavalry. It was advertised to take place at twelve m.
It must have been about tifleen minutes after this time when
we arrived on the ir»"(nind, where an immense throng was
already collect(Hl. The crowd continued to increase until
the end of the ceremony. About i :30 p. m.. Secretary
Stanton drove up to the Exchange in a carriage. He went


upstairs, unci soon appeared on the upper floor of the porcli.
I had never seen the Honorable Secretar}?- before, and can
give no accurate description, at the distance I uas from him.
I occupied the outside of the nearest lower story window in
the custom house. At two p. m.. General Sherman rode up,
and took position, on horseback, in front of the Exchange,
fronting towards the street. On his rigiit were the following
general officers, in the order named : Brevet Major-Gen-
eral Meigs, Q^ M. G. ; Major-Gjn^ral Joh;i A. Dix ; Brig-
adier-General E. D. Townsend, A. A. G. ; Major-General
John A. Logan ; Brevet Major-General J. C. Davis ; Brig-
adier-General Baird ; Brigadier-General Corse.

General Meigs, the Qiiartermaster-General, had just
arrived from Washington. He presents a line appearance,
on horseback. His hat was pulled down in front, and two
buttons of his coat were unbuttoned.

General Dix, the famous New York Democrat, and the
man who wrote "If any man pulls down the American flag,
shoot him on the spot," looks like an old man with a 3'oung

Brigadier-General Townsend is a thin, spare man.

Logan has immovable features, almost without expression.
He turns down the upper corners of his double-breasted
coat, hiding two buttons, and buttoning the turnover on the
lower button of the upper set of three. He seems unmoved
by anvthing about him.

General Baird has a good name, amongst his troops. He
presents a pleasant appearance.

At two o'clock the head of the column appeared. Gen-
eral Kilpatrick rode a beautiful little horse, well equipped.
The General is a little man, and looks young. His head and
face are small, and he seems to be a little hunchbacked, and
has a fashion of movinor his head downwards. He wore
bran new canary gauntlets, and his yellow f^ash looked like
it was just out of the shop. His pants were sk^' blue, with
golden cord on the outside seam. This cord, huif wu}' below
the kneCj widened into two, with an imitation of buttons


between. Kilpatrick, blushing, saluted Sherman, passed to
the rear, and took position to the left of him.

The troops were about forty-five minutes in passing, and
they made as good appearance as any mounted troops in the
field could. But there were many jaded steeds, and the
ranks were much reduced by hard service.

Afler all was over, three cheers were given for Secretary
of War Stanton, three for General Sherman, three for Pres-
dent Lincoln, and so on, until the cheering fizzled, as
usual .

The 15th Corps is embarking on transports, and going to
Beaufort. A forward movement is rumored to take place
from this point, in eight or ten da3\s.

Saturday, January 14. — Three or four volunteers, as
many conscripts, and two or three old members of the Reg-
iment, joined us to-da}^. Some of them have been in the
late battles in middle Tennessee. Amongst these is Zingu
Parks, a boy of thirteen or fourteen, Zingu was recruited
in 1862, by Lieutenant-Colonel Embree. General Wood
and Colonel Embree were sitting together one day when
Zingu passed. The General was attracted by his youthtul
appearance, and inquired, "My son, what brought you into
the service?" "Two dollars," said Zingu.

Sunday, January 15. — I was much surprised this morn-
ing when Captain MilbiUMi came into my tent and told me
that two men iiad died in our Regimental hospital last night.
They are J. Purkiser, of Company C, and Jenkins, of Com-
pany E. The former had the measles and the latter the
typhoid fever. We buried them this afternoon in lot Num-
ber 1,549, ^" Laurel Grove cemetery. We found here the
graves of three other men of our Regiment. One was
buried yesterday and his name was not on the grave. The
other two are (3wen W. Sales, of Company B, died January
3d, and James Rlioades, of K, died January ist. These
were all new men, and I was not acquainted with any of
them, except Mr. Purkiser. Three died at some hospital in
the citv.


Tuesday, Jaxitary 17. — Part of the 20lh Corps passed
to-day, and the 14th will follow to-morrow. We are to go
to-morrow or next day. Some Regiment is to take charge
of our three pontoon bridges over the Savannali. We move
on with the tield pontoons.

We have many sick and disconsolate men. I-)ratte(i men
lose heart quicker than volunteers. Many of them have
never heard from home since leaving there, last September.
There is shameful neglect somewhere, or we would get
more mail.

Colonel Buell has been commissioned Brevet Brigadier-
General of volunteers, to date trom the 12th inst. He is
much better than many w^e already have.

No movements of troops about the city, to-da}^ A part,
at least, of the 19th Coq^s has arrived here from the Shenan-
doah Valle}^

This afternoon, a section of the pontoon was floated
around and the gunboat Pontiac, and one transport, went
up the river.

Thursday, January 19. — Two Divisions of the 15th
Corps passed to-dav. The rain began to fall about the mid-
dle of the forenoon, and continued until after dark. The
road across the second island became impassable and many
of the troops had to return.

A salute of thirty-nine guns was tired this afternoon, in
honor of something — no one in camp knows what.

The news of the capture of Fort Fisher came yesterday.
It is as fatal to Ben Butler as to the rebels.

We have just received orders to march at 9 a. m., to-mor-
row. We accompany the 14th Corps on the south bank of
the river to Sister's Ferry. Here we crohs the river. This
is all I know, certainly, of the movements. Poor South
Carolina must suffer now. None of the soldiers are storing
up mercy for her. Her deluded people will now reap the
full reward of all their foll}^ and crimes. Charleston must
soon fall.


Leaving Savannah — Marchixc; Through Georgia
Quicksands — Stuck in the Mud — At Sister's
Ferry — Torpedoes — Preparation for Crossing
the River — Difficulties in the Way — A Flooded
Country — Pontoons and Perseverance Never
Fail — Into South Carolina — No Leniency for
THAT Rebellious State — Incidents of the March.

WE moved from our camp about nine a. m., Friday, Jan-
uary- 20. By order, our huts were left standing. It
has been customary to destroy all we could not carry, but
this is now wisely reversed. Oar huts will be serviceable to
those who take our places.

We recrossed the Savannah, and moved out the same road
by which we came. When we reached the railroad cross-
ing, we marched on the Macon, or, as it is called, the Louis-
ville road. Generals Morgan and Carlin preceded the pon-
toon train. General Baird moved on the direct road leading
up the river.

The general impression in the army is that we are begin-
ning a campaign against Charleston. The movement on
this side of the river is supposed to be a feint. It is gener-
ally presumed that the army will concentrate at Branchville.
Augusta is a rich prize, and, if it is at all possible, I think it
will be captured, en route.

It was cloudy in the morning, and the roads were bad,
from recent rains. About ten a. m. rain began to fall, and
tiirre was but little cessation up to midnight — the hur of my


We moved very slowly, and with difficulty the train could
"drag its weary length along." Night overtook us among
the mud holes, about live and a half miles from the city. It
was designed that we should advance eight miles. Bad
roads in this part of Georgia means a verv dil^erent thing
from bad roads in Indiana. There we stick in the mud ;
here "the bottom falls out," as it is called. Mules and
w^agons sink into the quicksand. Nothing but corduroy
will remedy these holes. Our officers and men labored all
night trving to get the train along. Nearly every saddle
mule and many horses fell, plunging the riders headlong
into the mud. Many wagon tongues were broken. Officers
and men waded to their waists in the slime. Not a few
oaths were sworn, and some bad whisky was consumed.
In the catalogue of terrible nights, let not this rainy
night, amongst the Georgia swamps, with a Pontoon train,
be forgotten. Before day, all the train, except a few wagons,
was got off the road, about six miles from the cit}^. Lieu-
tenant-Colonel Moore's and Major Downe3^'s headquarter
wagons went a mile farther and stopped in a muddy, pine

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 37 of 47)