Monday, April 9, 2012

Vulgar Curiosity Averted

This entry is from Scraps From The Prison Table, at Camp Chase and Johnson's Island by Joe Barbier.  He was a Confederate Officer, and Civil War POW.

While on Johnson's Island as a prisoner of war, Barbiere met Colonel Joel Battle, Battle, told Barbier of an experience he had with some Union citizens while on the way to Johnson's Island.
After the capture of Colonel Battel,[sic] (one of our most distinguished fellow prisoners,) he was first taken to St. Louis, and while on the boat, ascending the river, was anxiously hunted by the curious passengers, who had never seen a "secesh," and who were astonished at the hand some and veteran-like appearance of the gallant colonel. Colonel Battel attempted to avoid them, but finding it impossible, retreated to the pilot-house of the boat.  There he was soon followed by the eager crowd, among whom was a minister of the Gospel, who instead of preaching "Christ, and him crucified," was stimulating volunteers to fight their Southern brethren. This wolf in sheep's clothing walked into the pilot house, and with that indelicacy and effrontery, that could only emanate from a bad man, or fool, asked Colonel Battel, if he had any objection to kneeling, and uniting with him in prayer. "Of course not."  The so-called saint offered up a prayer, for the United States, and for the destruction of all her enemies, and rebels in particular. On concluding, the colonel thanked him, and asked if he and the rest would unite with him in prayer, something, I am confident, Colonel Battel never did before in public. The response was in the affirmative, and at it the colonel went, praying with a will, for the Southern Confederacy, and the destruction of all her enemies, and Yankees in general; and, rising from his knees, exclaimed with an air, as only those who know Colonel Battel, as we do in prison, can appreciate: "Now, I'll bet you, or any other man, a hundred dollars, that my prayer reaches Heaven first." The colonel assures us, he was not troubled by vulgar curiosity the rest of the trip.

Colonel Joel Battle, from Metro Davidson County Collection - Nashville Public Library

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Surgeon Pro Tempore

This entry is from Diary of a Confederate Soldier  by John S. Jackman of the Orphan Brigade, edited by William C. Davis.

Jackman, a Confederte soldier from First Kentucky Regiment, or "Orphan Brigade." was ill and got separated from his regiment.  He was attempting to join them, with the assistance of a horse a farmer had entrusted to him.  It was the first day of the Battle of Shiloh. Other things were in store for Jackman on this day, rather than fighting. . .

April 6, 1862
  . . .Four miles brought us to Monterey, and just beyond, we met some of the wounded on foot with their arms and heads bound up in bloody bandages, & I felt then that I was getting in the vicinity of "warfare." Soon we met ambulances and wagons loaded with wounded, and I would hear the poor fellows groaning and shrieking, as they were being jolted over the rough road. . . . .

. . . While passing a hospital on the roadside, I happened to see one of our company lying by a tent wounded.  . . There were heaps of wounded lying about, many of them I knew, and first one then another would ask me to give him water or do some other favor for him.  Wile thus occupied, Dr. P. told me to stay with him, that I was not able to go on the field -- that I would be captured.  There was no one to help him, and I turned surgeon, pro tempore, . . Part of my business was to put patients under the influence of chloroform.  I kept my handkerchief saturated all the time, and was often dizzy from the effects of it myself. . . .

Confederate Soldier photo from Library of Congress


Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Most Wretched and Abject People on the Face of the Earth

This entry comes from A Gentleman and an Officer: A Military and Social History of James B. Griffin's Civil War, Judith N. McArthur and Orville Vernon Burton, eds., and can be found at
W.W. Norton and Company's website at: A Gentleman and and Officer .

"James B. Griffin (1825–1881) was not one of the towering figures of the Confederacy, nor was he simply a soldier in the ranks: he was a southern gentleman, like many others, who went to war to defend his rights and to liberate the South from the North's attempts to subjugate her."  He was a lieutenant colonel at the time he wrote this letter, and was attended by two slaves, Ned and Abram.

In this excerpt Griffin imagines what life will be like if the North wins the war. . . .

Camp of the Legion
February 26th 1862

My Darling Leila
 . . . We cannot see, My Darling, into the future, but I trust & have confidance in our people to believe, that if the unprincipled North shall persist in her policy of Subjugating the South, that we, who are able to resist them, will continue to do so, until we grow old and worn out in the service, and that then, our Sons will take the arms from our hands, and spend their lives, if necessary, in battling for Liberty and independence. 
As for my part, If this trouble should not be settled satisfactorily to us sooner—I would be proud of the thought that our youngest Boy—Yes Darling little Jimmie, will after awhile be able and I trust willing to take his Father's place in the field, and fight until he dies, rather than, be a Slave, Yea worse than a Slave to Yankee Masters—

Have you ever anticipated, My Darling, what would be our probable condition, if we should be conquered in this war? The picture is really too horrible to contemplate. In the first place, the tremendous war tax, which will have accumulated, on the northern Government, would be paid entirely and exclusively by the property belonging to the Southerners. And more than this we would be an humbled, down trodden and disgraced, people. Not entitled to the respect of any body, and have no respect for ourselves. In fact we would be the most wretched and abject people on the face of the Earth. Just be what our Northern Masters say we may be. Would you, My Darling, desire to live, if this was the case? would you be willing to leave your Children under such a government? No—I know you would sacrifice every comfort on earth, rather than submit to it. . . .

A Confederate soldier, from the Library of Congress Collection

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Great Lever That Moves This World

This entry comes from David White English, Private, Company E, Fifty-First Illinois Infantry, and the letter can be found in its entirety at the 51st Illinois Regiment Website.    

English was an optimist, as you will see from excepts of his letter that follow.  

While he was with his regiment, he was never sick, always there, and could be counted on.  Then, on September 5, 1852 he was sent to the hospital and permanently discharged from the service 10 days later.  It appears that he was kicked by a mule causing a double hernia.

Let not my going war depress your spirits in the least. You can always refer to it with pride that your good man, enlisted in the grand Army of the Union for the defense of our glorious country's flag which our fathers left us. Refer to it often to the children while I am gone, and have them read the histories of the wars which you have, viz: Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett and others, to see how our ancestors went through so many hardships while we apparently live at our ease, not fearing to be attacked by the enemy at any point, and when we make a blow, we take all their supplies, and as many of the enemy as possible escape with their lives, glad to abandon every thing for the sake of their own lives.

.. . .I will bring my letter to a close, appealing to you to stand by the great lever that moves this world of mankind - Hope - "hope on - hope ever." All things will come out right.

A portion of David White English's Letter

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What Lincoln Ought To Know

This entry is from the Letters of Lydia Maria Child.  In a letter to John Greenleaf Whittier, Child mentions Harriet Tubman, a slave who escaped to freedom and who helped many others also escape.  She did that  -- and much more.  Words of wisdom she has for the President are disclosed here.

January 21  1862

 . . . You have doubtless heard of Harriet Tubman, whom they call Moses, on account of the multitude she has brought out of bondage by her courage and ingenuity. She talks politics sometimes, and her uncouth utterance is wiser than the plans of politicians. 

She said the other day: "Dey may send de flower ob dair young men down South, to die ob de fever in de summer, and de agoo in de winter. (Fur 't is cold down dar, dough 't is down South.) Dey may send dem one year, two year, tree year, till dey tired ob sendin', or till dey use up all de young men. All no use! God's ahead ob Massa Linkum. God won't let Massa Linkum beat de South till he do de right ting. Massa Linkum he great man, and I'se poor nigger ; but dis nigger can tell Massa Linkum how to save de money and de young men. He do it by setting de niggers free. S'pose dar was awfu' big snake down dar, on de floor. He bite you. Polks all skeered, cause you die. You send for doctor to cut de bite; but snake he rolled up dar, and while doctor dwine it, he bite you agin. De doctor cut out dat bite; but while he dwine it, de snake he spring up and bite you agin, and so he keep dwine, till you kill him. Dat's what Massa Linkum orter know."  

Harriet Tubman, from the Library of Congress Digital Collection

Friday, January 6, 2012

In Sore Need of a Furlough

This entry is from The Life of Johnny Reb, The Common Soldier of the Confederacy by Bell Irvin Wiley.  This story originally comes from Four Years in the Stonewall Brigade by John J. O. Casler.  

A theatrical group from the Stonewall and Louisiana brigades wrote and presented a skit called the "Medical Board", satirizing the surgeons.

Te rise of the curtain revealed a group of doctors sitting about a table playing cards and drinking brandy. Presently inquiry is made as to how such good liquor is obtained in these hard times.

The immediate answer is,"Oh, this is some that was sent down from Augusta County for the sick soldiers, but the poor devils don't need it, so we'll drink it.

Then a courier comes in with the message that a badly wounded soldier is outside. "Bring him in!" says the chief surgeon.

After a casual examination, the patient is told that his arms must be amputated. He inquires if he can have a furlough after the operation.

"Oh, no," replies the surgeon, who shortly announces that a leg also must be cut off.

"Then can I have a furlough?" asks the soldier.

By no means,"answers the doctor, "for you can drive an ambulance when you get well."

The surgeons now go in consultation and decide that the wounded man's had must be amputated. "Then I know I can have a furlough," observes the patient.

"No, indeed," says the chief physician. "We are so scarce of men that your body will have to be set up in the breastworks to fool the enemy."

Dr. William Gibbs McNeill Whistler, a surgeon in the Confederate army. 
He was attached to Orr's Rifles, a South Carolina regiment.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Matter of Perspective

Today's entry  comes from the Rebellion Record Volume III by Frank Moore, 1862.  I meant to post this last month, but the holidays got in the way.

This is an account of the battle of Allegheny from the Confederate point of view.  The official casualties of this battle are: Union 140 killed or wounded and two missing, and Confederate: 128 killed or wounded and 34 captured or missing.  However one would never know that the Confederate numbers this high nor that the Union numbers this low from the following interesting account, published in the Richmond Dispatch on December 21, 1862.

. . .  Our boys are laughing heartily over the Yankees' published account of the battle of Alleghany. The following passage is really amusing: "The rebels set fire to their camp and retreated to Staunton. Our boys left the field in good order." Why, my dear sirs, it would have done your heart good to have seen tho scoundrels run 1 Tho road for three miles was covered with their knapsacks, canteens, blankets, hats, and haversacks, and the citizens from the country bring us the news that they were stricken with tho most disgraceful panic The villains vented their spleen upon an old woman living upon the Greenbank road, aged eighty-two ears, by destroying her furniture, carrying off er provisions, and breaking up her cooking utensils. Col. Johnson sent her a sack of flour and some other articles. Their troops went back to Cheat Mountain in wild confusion, demoralized and dispirited. Nothing prevented their entire capture but the withdrawal of Col. Taliaferro's brigade from this line of operation.
We learn from our spies, and from men recently from Northwestern Virginia, that the enemy confess a loss, in killed, wounded, and missing, of over seven hundred men. Their dead bodies are still being found in tho woods. Six were found yesterday, with their eyes picked out by the crows, and many more doubtless lie scattered through the dense forest.
Confederate General Edward Johnson, also known as also known as Allegheny Johnson.  He received his nickname while commanding six infantry regiments in a battle on Allegheny Mountain.