A Toad in My Coffee

Chapter 48 (May 9, 1864 – May 14, 1864)

Monday, May 9th, while the company was on picket at the foot of the hill, Henry Brown and the writer were sent across the creek and up a zigzag road, leading thru a ravine. We were to go to the first turn in the road and report if any of the enemy were in sight. But from that point we were unable to see any distance, so we advanced to the third turn and there got into a gutter and lay down behind a log and while we two Union men were in this place the Rebel line advanced past us nearly to the base of the mountain. Brown and myself were then inside the enemy’s lines where we lay. With the thought of Andersonville prison pen we there resolved that we would forfeit our lives rather than be taken prisoners. The bank alongside the road was about 10 or 12 feet high and we could hear the enemy talk plainly as they were going down the hill. We remained in this position about six hours. We could not see the enemy. We noticed a stir in our camp below us but no shooting was done. Finally they withdrew and fortunately for us none came up nor went down the road.

After the withdrawal, Colonel Pardee, who had sent only two of us across the creek, now sent a detail to order us back. This detail came only to the first turn in the road, went back and reported that we were not there. The Colonel then sent a captain with an entire company and ordered him to go up the road until we were found or until he met the enemy.

How glad we were when we saw them coming. We were taken to the Colonel’s headquarters, when I was asked why we had gone up the road so far. I told him we could see to better advantage. He said that was all right, but you had a very narrow escape from being made prisoners. When we got back to the company, the boys were all glad to see us again. Brown and myself were thankful for our escape. Jacob Garman (nicknamed Yankee) came and extended his hand and said: “Glad to see you again, Schroyer, sout you gone to Richmond.”

Here an amusing incident occurred. A Dutchman of our regiment boiled a cup of coffee for his supper, regular amount for one man about one quart. He set his coffee in a fence corner, then went back to the fire to toast a cracker and broil a piece of pork. When he came back to get his coffee, imagine his surprise to find that in his absence a large toad had jumped into his coffee cup and was laying on his back spread out with all four legs hanging over the cup. The Dutchman looked at the coffee and the toad a moment, then picked up coffee, bucket, and toad and threw them against the fence, saying “Yetz mare hov ich kine coffee.” [“Now I have no more coffee.”] Then followed “Dunner”, [“Thundering”] and finished up in German something about the weather, you know the rest. He could not forget the toad and every now and then he would say “fur fluchty grutt.” [“The darned toad.”]  He used a number of other very high Dutch expressions which must be omitted.

On the 10th and 11, Tuesday and Wednesday, we remained in our breastworks at Rocky-faced Ridge. Thursday, May 12th, struck tents, marched thru Snake Creek Gap and encamped, traveled 10 miles. Friday, the 13th, moved camp about three miles and put up a line of works. The roads thru Snake Creek Gap were very rough and hard to march on. We could plainly see the Confederates marching on the mountain top to our left, in the same direction that we were traveling, their bayonets and guns glistening in the sun. We expected that ere long General Sherman intended to strike the enemy a severe blow.

On Saturday, the 14th, the several army corps were closing in about Resaca. We moved but three miles, and lay in the woods until Sunday, May 15, just beyond the range of hills thru which was a ravine. The Fourth Corps was engaged with the enemy. We noticed a hurrying to and fro among our officers and General Hooker, commander of the 20th Corps, giving verbal instructions to his division commanders. Only a few minutes passed when the bugles sounded strike tents and fall in. Everything was hurry and bustle and in a very short time the forward command was given and we passed thru the ravine on a double quick into the open country. Then to our surprise we found the Fourth Corps falling back and terribly demoralized.

The Rebels had already captured one of their batteries and were in the act of turning the guns on the retreating men, when the Twentieth Corps under Hooker came dashing thru the ravine and, with a yell and on the double quick, charged the advancing enemy, who was so thoroughly surprised that in a short time we had driven back the foe with great loss, recapturing the battery and turning the same on the now retreating enemy.

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