Joseph Cross.

Camp and field. Papers from the portfolio of an army chaplain. (Volume bk. 1) online

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from the perilous apex of a two-story edifice, and
two of his aids peer inquisitively out from the top-
most branches of two contiguous pines. Oh, myste-
ry ! transcending marvel ! The formidable army that
he has been approaching and investing, for nearly
two months past, with so much toil and timidity, is
nowhere to be discovered. Where are the rebels?
No horses and chariots of fire were seen last night..
Have they melted away into thin air, or dug through
into China?

Cavalry is sent out, making a long circuit, with
most prudent circumspection, each particular hair of
each particular horseman standing erect upon his
head. A courier! "Tidings, my Lord, King!"
Beauregard and his command are some thirty or
forty miles south of Corinth, on the Mobile and Ohio
Railroad. Now the grand army of moles march
boldly forth from their burrows, furiously shelling
empty houses, and wreaking their valorous rage upon
every inanimate object that dares dispute their pro-
gress. A glorious victory gained the Federal arms


that day ! • A shrewd correspondent of the Cincin-
nati Commercial says :

"Last night the same band sounded retreat, tattoo, and taps, all
along the rebel lines, passing from place to place. This morning
suspicion ripened into certainty. Corinth was evacuated. Beaure-
gard had achieved another victory. I do not know how the matter
strikes abler military men, but I think we have been fooled. The
works are far from being invulnerable. The old joke of Quaker guns
has been played off upon us. They were real wooden guns, with
stuffed paddies for gunners. I saw them. We approached clear
from Shiloh in line of battle, and made preparations to defend our-
selves, compared with which the preparations of the enemy sink into

The correspondent of the Chicago Tribune also
takes a very rational view of the matter :

"The retreat of the army was conducted in the best of order.
Before our men had entered the place, all had got off safely. Noth-
ing of any use to us whatever was found. General Halleck has thus
achieved one of the most barren of triumphs. In fact, it is tanta-
mount to a defeat. It gives the enemy an opportunity to select a
new position, as formidable as that at Corinth, in which it will be
far more difficult for us to attack him on account of the distance our
army will have to transport its supplies. * * * I look upon the
evacuation as a victory to Beauregard, or at least as one of the most
remarkable pieces of strategy that has been displayed during this-
war. It prolongs the contest in the southwest at least six months."

Did the proportions of my, book allow^ I could
write an interesting chapter of incidents connected
with this retreat. Take but one :

Lieutenant Butler, of our regiment, had gone to
Memphis to procure a metallic coffin for the mortal
remains of his cousin. Keturning to Corinth the
day after our departure, he was captured by a party
of six cavaliers. As they were conducting him to
their camp, they encountered their colonel. He de-


manded of them, with many damnations, whether six
men were necessary to guard one rebel ; and taking-
charge of the prisoner himself, sent them flying on
their scout again, with a volley of curses in their
rear. He now led the lieutenant to a log; command-
ed him, with several irreverent expletives, "to sit
down there," while he went " to see after those infer-
nal poltroons ;" and added, with an oath which none
but a Yankee Colonel of cavalry could utter, " If
you are gone when I come back, I'll take your head
off with my sword f" Then he galloped away toward
Corinth, occasionally looking back over his shoulder,
as if somewhat distrustful of his captive's entire sub-
jugation. As soon as he was out of sight, our young-
friend ran about a hundred j^ards, climbed an um-
brageous . beach, and established an outlook from
amid its dense foliage. In fifteen or twenty minutes,
the Colonel returned with a numerous escort. Dis-
covering that the bird was flown, he swore till the,
evening twilight was blue ; then scattered his re-
doubtable cavaliers, east, west, north and south, in
quest of his incontinent captive. Several of them
passed under the beach in which he had ensconced
himself; but the friendly shades, now deepening into
night, prevented his discovery. He kept his position
till all was dark and still ; then, descending,

" With winged feet lie spurned the plain,"

and the next day overtook onr rear-guard some
thirty miles nearer the Gulf of Mexico.

During the night of this eventful hegira, a detach-
ment of the enemy's cavalry made a dash upon


Boonville, a few miles south of Corinth ; captured
and destroyed a -railway train of ammunition, pro-
vision, and baggage, which had been detained forty-
eight hours by some mismanagement ; and burned the
station house, containing a number of our dead, and
four or five of our sick, who were consumed in the
conflagration. Our cavalry, a far inferior force, soon
made their appearance, and the murderous incendi-
aries fled in confusion and dismay, carrying away
with them only a single man. A number of strag-
glers, and some scores of sick and wounded soldiers
on their way to southern hospitals, were rescued after
a few moments captivity ; and these were the "two
thousand men " reported by Pope and Halleck to
have been " captured and paroled " on that occasion.
We lost by the fire some fifteen hundred inferior
muskets, which those voracious officials, with grand
.flourish of trumpets, magnify into "ten thousand
stand of small arms taken and destroyed." How
easy it is to achieve victories on paper I

The army is now encamped at Tupelo. But in
this rapid march we have left a few facts- behind us.
Let us go back and gather up our stragglers.

Many of our brave boys perished at Shiloh. Many
others were severely injured, and Colonel Bate among
them. The latter were immediately conveyed to
Columbus for treatment. A few days afterward, the
shepherd followed the wounded of his flock. Bishop
Paine gave me friendly welcome by the way.
Twenty minutes after my arrival at his house, five
men, on foaming steeds, called at the gate, and
demanded his stranger guest. They had pursued me


thirty miles, they said, for a Yankee spy or incen-
diary. A few words were sufficient, and my patriotic
persecutors sought every man the shade of u his own
vine and fig tree."

Three days at Aberdeen were "as the days of
Heaven upon earth." Whoever saw a lovelier family
than Bishop Paine's, or enjoyed a warmer hospi-
tality than their guests ?

On the sixth of May I arrived at Columbus. I>r.
Neely, as kind as he is eloquent, welcomed me to
the parsonage. Mr. Powell, Mr. Cannon, Mr. Sher-
man, Col. Billups, with their respective families, and
several others, did all that Christian charity could
suggest to render pleasant my sojourn in their city.
For several weeks I labored incessantly among the
sick and the wounded. Mv soul was full of faith,
and love, and joy. I went every morning to my
work with a zest I had never known before, and
returned every evening to my friends with a tran-
quil satisfaction which had in it more of Heaven
than of earth. To overcome all diffidence and em-
barrassment in my visits^ to the hospitals, I adopted
the following method :

Taking my stand at some convenient place in a
large apartment filled with the unfortunate sufferers,
I requested their attention to a few verses of Scrip-
ture; then expounded what I had read, with appli-
cations and exhortations suitable to their condition ;
and afterward commended them in prayer to the
Divine Mercy. This opened the way for personal
conversation, and in these interviews many a young-
man showed " a broken •• nd contrite heart." Having


, finished in one room, I went to another, pursuing
the same method, till I had gone throughout the

Some who were able to walk would follow me
from one apartment to another, and multitudes when
I left them would entreat me to come again. On
some days I delivered ten or fifteen public addresses,
and offered as many public prayers, besides distri-
buting four or five hundred tracts. I witnessed
several cases of satisfactory conversion, and saw a
number of our soldiers die in peace. Three instances
in our own regiment were of the most encouraging-
character. G. was as burnt le a penitent as I ever
beheld; S. departed in triumphant hope after several
weeks of severest suffering; and W., having renounced
his infidelity, recovered, to lead a new life, and to
thank me often for my visits.

Friday, the fourteenth, having been appointed by
the President of the Confederacy, as a day of public
humiliation, fasting and prayer, I discoursed to a
very large audience, in Dr. Neeiy's church, from
the pathetic words of "The Weeping Prophet:"
"Otlic Hope of Israel, and the Savior thereof in
time of trouble ! Why shouldst thou be as a stranger
in the land, and as a wayfaring man, that turneth
aside to tarry for a night? Why shouldst thou be
as a man astonished, as a mighty man that can not
save? Yet thou, Lord, art in the midst of us,
and we are called by thy name. Leave us not."

The latter part of June found me again with the
regiment, "in labors more abundant," instituting a
Bible-class in camp, preaching nightly to large and


attentive audiences, and occasionally holding prayer-
meetings which were not unprofitable to the soldiers.
I now observed that there was less .gambling and
profanity among them than I had ever known before,
with other hopeful indications of reform.

On the night of the thirtieth I was preaching to
the Fifteenth Arkansas Kegiment. Suddenly a wild
shout of joy arose from a neighboring encampment.
Soon the strain was taken up by other regiments in
every direction, and the forest rang with the voice of
gladness, cheer after cheer, so that I found it quite
impossible to proceed. Just then I saw some one
hand a paper to an officer behind me. I turned and
asked him whether some 2,'ood news had occasioned
this unusual demonstration. " Here is a dispatch
from Head Quarters," he replied ; " will you be kind
enough to read it aloud ?" It proved to be an official
announcement of the Federal defeat, after several
days of incessant and severe fightings on the Chicka-

An army of a hundred and twenty thousand, com-
manding all the resources and appliances of war r
and confident of reveling ere long amid the luxuries
of our fair metropolis, had been driven from all its
positions, and put to an inglorious flight. An im-
mense spoil, consisting of artillery, small arms, am-
munition, commissar} 7 stores, medicines, clothing,
wagons, horses and mules, fell into the hands of the
victors. The siege- of'Eichmond was raised. The
Confederate capital was safe. It is affirmed that
but for one serious mistake, the whole army might
have been captured or destroyed.


To finish the sermon now, was what Saint Paul
himself could scarcely have done. Three cheers for
Lee, Davis and the Confederacy, took the place of
doxology and benediction, and we dispersed. As
I returned to my tent, wave after wave of vocal joy
rolled through the grand old woods; and ever and
anon, far into the night, the sounds would break
forth afresh, camp answering to camp, and hill
echoing to hill, as if the feelings of our soldiers were
quite irrepressible, and Nature herself participated in
their triumph.

This glorious victory, however, cost the Confed-
eracy many precious lives. General R. Hatton was
a native Tennesseean ; the son of a venerable Chris- •
tian minister; and one of the best citizens, bravest
officers, and purest patriots, this state has produced.
A Christian from habit, a secessionist from principle,
ardent, eloquent, generous, .honorable, confiding, and
conscientious, he was popular alike in Congress and
in camp, and never failed to win the love of all with
whom he was associated. There is a broken-hearted
widow, with several fatherless children, at Lebanon.

The next day I was galloping along a narrow
path through a dense grove of pines, when an object
straf%ely glittering in a sunny spot before me sud-
denly caught my attention. It was a pyramid,- a foot
broad at the base, and about the same height. As I
approached, it stretched out and darted aside. I per-
ceived that it was a huge serpent. Riding up to the
spot, I paused to look for it. It was no when 1 to be
seen. After a few seconds I heard a slight rustling
almost under my horse ; and looking down, I dis-


covered it, lying at full length, the most formidable
rattle-snake I ever beheld. It was at least eight feet
long, and somewhat larger than my arm. Its color
was a brilliant yellow, with diamond-shaped sp<
a very dark brown. It was terriblv beautiful t
My mare was in great danger, but fortunately she
stood perfectlj 7 still. Now the dreadful reptile began
slowly to erect its head till it was a foot from the
ground, curving its neck as gracefully as a swan ;
and then moved off so gently that its progress was
scarcely perceptible. I watched it with intense in-
terest, till it passed under a tuft of leaves at the root
of a tree, not more than three yards from my posi-
tion ; when I alighted, procured me a weapon, and
advanced very cautiously, "feeling for the enemy."
He was not to be found. With all his bold and de-
- flant bearing, he had proved himself an arrant coward.
Waxing as courageous. as Halleck did at Corinth,
when he ascertained that Beauregard had gone, I
beat the bushes in every direction, and threshed fu-
riously among the dry leaves ; but in vain ; my foe
had " skedaddled," taking all his artillery and am-
munition along with him !



(august, 1862.)

" He that is born is listed ; life is war."


General Bragg bad been for some time in com-
mand of the Army of the Mississippi. A few disor-
derly fellows had been shot, and the rest effectually
reduced to discipline. We were now ready to as-
sume the offensive, which was generally understood
to be the policy henceforth of the government. To-
ward the end of July, we struck our tents, and bade
adieu to Tupelo ; leaving only General Price, with
some twenty thousand troops, to protect that part of
the county. The infantry, with some of the artille-
ry, went by railway to Mobile, and thence to Chatta-
nooga. The cavalry, . with the rest of the artillery,
accompanied the wagon-trains, by several routes more
direct, across the state of Alabama, to the same point
of rendezvous. Preferring not to commit my valu-
able barb to the custody of careless and irresponsible
hands, I gladly availed myself of the invitation of
Major Winchester, Quarter-Master of General Donel-
son's Brigade, to become one of his party. Starting
from Tupelo on Tuesday the twenty-second, and
going by way of Aberdeen, Columbus, Tuscaloosa,


Montevallo, Columbian;-), Talladega, Jacksonville,
Cave Spring, and Rome, we arrived at Chattanooga
on Friday morning the fifteenth of August, having
marched more than four hundred miles in twenty-
two days. Preaching frequently on the road, re-
ceiving man} 7 kind attentions from citizens, renewing
old acquaintances and forming new ones, this journey
was to me, maugre the fatigue of travel and the
discomforts of the bivouac, one of the most delight-
ful I ever enjoyed.

I now commenced a new career, as chaplain to
General Donelson's Brigade. This brigade consisted
of five* Tennessee regiments, with Captain Carnes's
battery of light artillery. My associations were
pleasant, and afforded encouraging facilities for my
sacred work.

Sunday the seventeenth we crossed the Tennessee
River, and encamped among the hills two miles
north of Chattanooga! The itinerant tribes coming
up out of the Jordan were scarcely more joyful than
our troops. Tennessee was to them the Land of
Promise, and the Lookout Mountain pointed pro-
phetically to their invaded heritage. Already they
saw Nashville redeemed, and revelled in the dear
delights of home. Alas for the sequel !

Having waited at the foot of Wallen's Ridge till
the main body of our troops had crossed the river, we
moved forward to rescue Kentucky from the grasp
of the tyrant. At the same time the gallant General
Maxcy forded the Tennessee at Bridgeport, in the
very face of the Federal garrison ; while his artillery,
five miles above, was effectually shelling the camp


at the mouth of Battle Creek. Finding the occupa-
tion of the place rather perilous, the enemy fled up
the Sequatchie Valley, with a loss of sixty or sev-
enty men and of a large amount of property. He
burned most of his commissary stores, and a quan-'
tity of arms and ammunition ; but many tents, teams,
wagons, ambulances, valuable medicines, surgical in-
struments, important papers and maps, with various
other articles quite useful to our officers and soldiery,
fell into the hands of the victors.

He soon found himself in almost as uncomfortable
a condition as Pharaoh in the Red Sea, walled in by
nature on the right and the left, a formidable army
in front, and ruin menacing his rear. So he turned
his face toward the Cumberland Mountains. It was
the only chance of escape. And had not Hannibal
and Bonaparte crossed the Alps with their armies ?
With desperate resolution and much cursing, he
toiled up the rugged cliffs, made all possible speed
to Manchester and Cowan, joined the main body of
BuelPs army, and all fled in wild confusion and mor-
tal terror, leaving forts and stockades everywhere
standing, and never tarrying to burn down bridges
and tear up railroads in their rear.

A citizen of Murfreesboro, who saw their wagon-
trains pass, assures me that they outdrove Jehu him-
self; whipping, screaming, swearing, smashing, .as if
an earthquake had been after them. Many of the
vehicles, stolen from Tennesseeans and Alabamians,
and drawn by stolen teams, were crammed with
stolen articles of all descriptions ; gilded mirrors,
marble tables, mahogany sofas, rosewood pianos, ele-
D '


gant paintings, costly statuary, cut-glass chandeliers,
silk dresses and oil-cans, book-cases and cooking
stoves, band-boxes and sledge-hammers, silver plate
and ox-hides, hardware and cutlery, dry goods and
groceries, tumbling, rumbling, jumbling, in most mag-
nificent disorder.

Johnson and Buell, it is said, differed concerning
the expediency of a general " skedaddle," and came
near having bloody noses on the subject. The Rev.
Col. Moody, the pious plunderer of our homes and
sanctified assassin of our friends, tells a curious story
of this quarrel and his own agency in its settlement,
which must not be withheld from the reader. It is
taken from the Dayton (Ohio) Journal, where it pur-
ports to be given chiefly in his own words. No
doubt, Andy is the only u mourner" Moody has been
instrumental in "converting" since he entered the
army. I have heard, indeed, of no. other instance
of Yankee conversion during the war. The reader
will excuse the omission of certain expletives that
do nOt suit my taste as well as they do the Rev.

" Col. Moody, of Ohio, stated that after his regiment, with others,
had been marched to various! points, they were finally ordered back
to Nashville, Tenn. On his arrival there Gen. Buell was in the
city, and the question was being agitated of evacuating the city
and giving it up to the rebels, Buell being in favor and Gov. John-
son opposed to the measure. At this crisis Col. Moody called to
pay his respects to the Governor. On entering the building, in an
upper room of which was the Governor's office, he met Gen. Buell
coming out. As they passed each other they exchanged civilities,
-and immediately the Colonel forwarded his card to the Governor's
room. Soon a messenger came to him, informing him that the
■Goyernor wished him to come up immediately. As the Colonel


entered the room he saw Governor Johnson pacing the floor, with a
gentleman on each arm, under the most terrible excitement, and
saying, ' It must not be done.' Seoing the Colonel, the Governor
greeted him most cordially, and expressed his great pleasure in
meeting him. The two gentlemen retired, leaving them alone*
when instantly Governor Johnson informed Col. Moody what was
meditated — that Buell wished to evacuate the city. ' But,' said he,
'it must not be done.' So intense was the excitement of the Gov-
ernor's mind that his face was fairly livid ; and, frothing at the
mouth and jesticulating most violently, he swore ' the city must not
be evacuated.' The Colonel gently chided the Governor, saying:

" ' Governor, just drop these hard words — we can get along without
them. True, this is a dark and perilous hour, but we must remem-
ber God reigns He is King of kings and Lord of lords, lie rules
•Generals, Governors, and nations. If we will only do right and
trust in Him, a way of deliverance will be opened, and our beloved
country shall yet be saved/

Instantly the Governor responded :

" ' Moody — and when I say Moody I mean more than Colonel — I
believe in God and the Bible, and I rest my soul's salvation on the

merit of Jesus Christ alone, but , if this city shall be given


" Col. Moody, perceiving that the Governor's mind needed relief
as much as the imperiled city, otherwise there was danger from the
immense excitement of his being driven to. madness, replied:

" ' Governor, let us pray ! '

" Quick as lightning the Governor dropped on his knees ; and
while the Colonel was praying for him, asking God to give him
wisdom, strength and courage in this dark hour, he responded in
groans and aniens; and crawling on his knees to the Colonel, he
laid his head on his bosom, and wept and groaned, and said amen
to every petition. At length the Colonel felt that God had heard
his prayer ; the cloud began to break ; and turning prayer into
praise, the Governor also began to praise God. When they rose
from their knees # the Governor instantly seized the Colonel's hand;
and, all bathed in tears, said :

" * Thank God that you came ! He sent you to help me— I feel

better — the cloud is broken — we shall be delivered. But I

he shall not give up the city I I'll burn it firsts and perish amid
the flames, rather than he shall give it up, and let it fall into the
hands of the enemy 1 '


11 Soon after this General Buell came in; and Gov. Johnson, meet
ing him, looked him in the eye, and with terrible emphasis he said:

" 'The city shall not be evacuated. Before that shall bo done, I
will burn it, and perish in the ruins.'

"That settled the question. Gen. Buell was compelled to change
his plan ; and after detailing a sufficient force to defend the city,
with the balance of the army he came trotting up to Louisville."

Johnson certainly did well, if well-doing can be
predicated of any measure for so bad an end, in
maintaining his position at Nashville ; but if. Buell
had remained in Middle Tennessee, Bragg would
easily have taken Louisville and Cincinnati.


(AUGUST, 1862.)

" In this wild world the fondest and the best
Are the most tried, most troubled and distrest."


On Sunday evening, the seventeenth of August,
while we were in bivouac near Chattanooga, I
preached to the Eighth Kegiment. After the service
Colonel Moore showed me the Louisville Journal of
the sixth instant, containing a notice of my wife's
arrest, trial and imprisonment, with her two daugh-
ters, on a charge of disloyalty to Lincoln. I was glad
that I had not seen it before. My anxiety was intense,
though my faith was strong. Immediate relief was
impracticable, but we were now marching on high-
heeled hopes toward " the Dark and Bloody Ground/'
and would soon be able, no doubt, to lead captive
the captivity of our friends.

In a few days, all the army having now crossed
the river, we advanced twenty-five miles, and en-
camped at the foot of Wallen's Ridge. On Thursday,
the twenty-eighth, General Anderson, to my great
joy, brought me word that my family had arrived in
Chattanooga. I hastened back to meet them, and


received from my wife's own lips the story of their
adventures, sufferings and escape.

Mrs. Cross, with her daughters, was on a visit to
her native home in Harrodsburg. While there, John
H. Morgan made his advent in the town. The ladies

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Online LibraryJoseph CrossCamp and field. Papers from the portfolio of an army chaplain. (Volume bk. 1) → online text (page 2 of 9)