Arriving at Chattanooga
Chapter 32 (October 2, 1863 – October 4, 1863)
At one station our train stopped and just across the street was a saloon with beer kegs on the pavement. We kept eyeing these and after the signal for all to be on board was given by the engineer, a charge was made on the beer kegs and they were picked up and thrown on the cars while the train was moving away. The saloon keeper, failing to recover the captured kegs, was mad, but the boys were happy. Captain Krider, of Company F, who scarcely ever surprised his stomach with a drink of cold water, placed, as he said, the soberest man he had in his company to guard the beer. Later all of the boys were drunk and the captain said the guard got drunk too. The usual end of beer drinking resulted in a fight during which Captain Krider and several of his men were nearly killed. Company G took in all the fun but took none of the beer.
While passing thru Indiana the following members, all of whom were drafted men of Company G, deserted on October 1st. Charles Brown, George Brown, Thomas Medbeater, Thomas McDonald, William Powell, and William Raburn. None of these were ever brought back to the company.
Our route thru Indiana finally ended at Jeffersonville on the Ohio River. Here we detrained and marched to the steamboat landing, boarded steamers and crossed the Ohio River to Louisville, Kentucky. At Jeffersonville the Government had a cracker bakery and as we marched by the factory fresh crackers were thrown to us. In this place guards were placed on every street in order to prevent straggling. Asa B. Churchill, of Company G, was placed on guard with strict orders not to let anyone pass. Captain Lavenburg, of Company E, came to where Churchill was on duty and wanted to go beyond the line. Churchill called “Halt!” The captain said, “I am going just where I want to go,” Churchill again called “Halt!” And said, “If you move one step farther I will put my bayonet thru you.” The captain saw that the guard was determined to obey his instructions and finally turned and walked away. Churchill was a good soldier and always did his duty faithfully.
We now again leave friends and home behind, and enter into Kentucky, the enemy’s country. The citizens of Ohio and Indiana were kind to us and wished us well, but in Kentucky not a smile or a kind word was given us. From this day, October 1, 1863, to June 6, 1865, Sherman’s army performed its duty entirely among enemies and in an enemy’s country. Orders were issued in Louisville warning the soldiers not to buy any pies or cakes, as a number of soldiers only a short time previously had been poisoned. A Dutchman of our regiment, nicknamed Butcher, fired off his gun as we marched down the principal street of the city, raising quite a commotion. Colonel Pardee placed him under arrest.
Friday, October 2. We again boarded a train that was in waiting for us, and started on our journey thru Kentucky and on to Nashville, the capitol of Tennessee. Today, as we passed thru Galliton, we saw colored troops for the first time. Saturday we arrived at Nashville and crossed the Cumberland River into the city.
Sunday evening, October 4. Left Nashville in cattle cars under order to load our guns and be in readiness for an anticipated attack from the Rebel cavalry. The train moved slowly from Nashville thru Murfreesboro and Christiana, and by daylight Monday morning, we arrived at Duck River railroad bridge, about 60 miles south of Nashville. How glad we all were to get into camp again and be able to stretch out full length and have a good night’s rest. Eight nights we spent on the cars in our cramped condition with forty-five in a car.
Here we encamped and did guard duty along the Chattanooga and Nashville Railroad and at the railbridge. While in this camp Sergeant Major F.H. Knight returned to the company, having been taken prisoner on May 3, 1863, at Chancellorsville, Va. Here ended our long journey to 1,192 miles.
General Sherman in his memoirs says: “For the transfer of large armies by rail, from one theatre of action to another by the rear-the cases of the transfer of the Eleventh and Twelfth Corps-General Hooker, 23,000 men-from Virginia to Chattanooga, in seven days, in the fall of 1863, and that of the army of the Ohio-General Schoffield, 15,000 men-from the valley of the Tennessee to Washington, 1,400 miles in 11 days; en route to North Carolina in January, 1865, are the best examples of which I have any knowledge, and reference to these is made in the report to the Secretary of War, Mr. Staunton, dated November 22, 1865.”