Lincoln Wins Election
Chapter 57 (November 8, 1864 - November 12, 1864)
Politics now were getting hot. Lincoln, Republican, and McClellan, Democrat, were candidates for president. Many were the discussions around the camp fires. We believed McClellan to be the man for the place and voted for him. Lincoln, however, was elected and his history shows was for the best of our country. Yet we always admired General George B. McClellan. This was our first vote and the proudest of our life. It took some nerve at that time to be a Democrat.
Tuesday, November 8th, was election day. The election was held in each company at company headquarters. Nine polling places were in our regiment, which numbered perhaps three hundred and forty men. I will not comment on it. Sergeant Fred K. Knight was Judge of the election in our company. The names of the inspectors I have forgotten.
The next morning after the election the rebels with a body of cavalry and artillery charged our breastworks. Ed Fisher and the writer were tenting together at this time. For some reason I had gotten up early and was preparing breakfast, when the first thing we knew a shell from a rebel battery came down our company street and exploded just beyond the street, near our suttler’s tent. A darkey, who had been sleeping in the tent, came forth with his clothes in his arms going at full speed for the rear. I began putting away my cooking utensils, when Fisher, who was still in bed, said: “Schroyer what’s that.” I replied, that I thought we had received good news from Richmond and that they were firing a salute. Just then another shell landed in our company street, exploded and striking Isaac Reed’s tent just above us, knocked a piece of board off the corner of it. Then Fisher jumped up with his clothes and his gun in his hand and said: “Like the devil, the Johnnies are coming.” All rushed for our works, shooting and dressing at the same time. This was a laughable sight. Much more could be said.
Companies D and C had erected a Lincoln and Johnson flag pole. When the rebels saw it, they directed the fire of the artillery upon it, and when it became too hot they hauled down the flag, when the Democrats taunted them and told them to stick to their colors. After the repulse of the enemy the officers interfered to keep the men from fighting among themselves as the result of politics.
At the election all were required (except those voting on age) to have tax receipts. Jere Moyer failed to get his from home. He was not allowed to vote. Jere became very angry about it, and, having served Uncle Sam for over two years and a good soldier he was, it was a shame to deprive him of his vote. But some little fun was gotten out of it after all. Freddie Ulrich later on told Jere in Dutch: “Jere, ich wase now fur wos dos du net sthimma husht kenna.” [“Jere, I know now why you could not vote.”] Jere said: “Fur was?” [“Why so?”] “I saulked der Freddie du husht ken sta mae ova im moul du bished stu olt.” [“I told Freddie you have no teeth any more in your upper mouth, you are too old.”] Un derno wor der Jere base ganunk fur de goys kumpany stu dresha. [And then Jere was mad enough to thrash the whole company.]
On Friday, November 11th, we were paid eight months wages at the rate of $16.00 per month, (this was an increase of three dollars per month over the amount received during 1862) which made a grand total of one hundred and twenty-eight dollars for each private.
The following day all communication with the rear was broken, and Sherman’s army stood detached and separated from all our friends in the North. The paymaster did not finish with the paying off of the troops and therefore, had to march with the army to Savannah. However, he was well guarded by a squad of cavalry. One night while occupying Atlanta, I cannot recall the date, the writer was detailed for picket, and was placed on what was called the Sandtown road. About midnight or a little after the man on out post called for the officer of the guard. I hurriedly went forward to inquire the cause for the alarm, when I was told that some one was out on the side of the road and wanted to come in. We had become very cautious by this time in our service and at once prepared to receive our midnight caller. I challenged him with who comes there? He at once replied, “A friend without the countersign.” I said to him: “Advance.” He came forward slowly until within reach of our bayonets, while we stood with our fingers on our triggers, ready to shoot. I asked who he was and he asked in return: “Whose troops are these?” I said: “General Geary’s Division of the 20th corps.” He said: “Thank God,” and fell to the ground and said “I will tell you in a few minutes.”
He was entirely exhausted, when he reached us, and later I helped him back to the reserve post, of which Lieutenant Willet, of company B, had charge. We made him a cup of coffee and gave him crackers and whatever we had and he ate heartily. He told us that he was a Colonel of some Indiana regiment. (His name and the number of his regiment have entirely slipped my memory). And that while on a train during the summer coming from Chattanooga towards Atlanta, while Sherman was quite a distance from that city, their train was sidetracked by the rebels and all aboard were made prisoners.
They were taken to Montgomery, Ala., by boat and while the steamboat was lying at the wharf for several hours, the Colonel and two other commissioned officers were given the privilege of the city, when they made their escape. They would march by night, and by day they would be hidden away and fed by the darkies. They inquired from these whether or not Sherman had captured Atlanta and some said yes, others no. Montgomery, Alabama, is about 150 miles southwest of Atlanta. I have forgotten the time it took him to come through. But he said he did not know of Sherman having captured the city until he was told of it at the picket post.