Near Lookout Mountain
Chapter 36 (October 31, 1863 – November 22, 1863)
The Rebels would shell our wagons from Lookout Mountain whenever they could see them. One evening the members of Company B, of our regiment, held up a teamster and rolled a barrel of sugar off his wagon. They took it to camp and there gave a quart or more of sugar for one cracker or one ear of corn. This camp was christened Camp Starvation. The writer was never as hungry before or since as he was in this camp. J.P. Ulrich and his messmates gathered acorns, and after boiling them several times in clean, fresh water, tried to eat them. But they drew the mouth together as if we were taking our first lesson in a whistling class. He then fried them in fat but no go with any of us except Jim, who ate the entire contents of the pan, and so far as the writer was concerned he was quite welcome to the dish.
While stationed here corduroy roads were made thru the gap in the mountains to the steamboat landing about three miles below us. Jack Grant, of Company G, while cutting down a tree made a miss with his axe and nearly cut his foot off. He was sent to the Regimental Hospital.
Sunday, November 1. Today we had company inspection, also worked on our breastworks.
Monday, November 2, still at work on our breastworks and Rebels continue to shell our wagon train. This camp was sure enough just what the boys had christened it, Camp Starvation. Men were reduced to mere skeletons and horses, and mules could scarcely walk or even pull an empty wagon. Both Yankee and Confederate armies had encamped in and about Chattanooga for months and the country afforded nothing for man or beast. We had money but that did not help us any for there was nothing to buy. A small potato patch close by camp was dug around by Solly and Jere App a number of times to get even a few roots if possible.
Freddie Ulrich and the writer while out hunting for something to eat one day happened to get where some cavalry horses had been picketed and fed, and there to our joy we found about a pint of corn which the horses had dropped while eating. We picked it up grain by grain, out of the mud and dirt, took it to camp, washed and boiled it and were very thankful for it. When we were picking up the corn Freddie said that at home, when their pigs were fed, corn was shoveled into the pen with a scoop shovel, and as this was about the time of fattening the porkers, Freddie exclaimed: “Oh ! Won ich usht dahame ware im olda Yoney (this was his father’s name) si si stahl ware dot kend ich welshcon ganunk grega.” [“Oh! If I was just at home in old Yoney’s hog house, and there I could get plenty of corn.”] We have laughed about this many a time, but I am sure at the time every member of Company G would gladly have exchanged their places to one in a pig sty filled with corn.
It was said that in a certain mess of four all they had to eat was three crackers. When they were ready for their meal. one was asked to say grace. He said: “Three crackers for four of us, thank the Lord there are no more of us.”
In this camp our camp and picket duty was very heavy. Every morning when day would break upon us we could see old Lookout Mountain, just a short distance away, with the Rebel signal corps on its summit, the Confederates around their artillery, and the Rebel flag defiantly floating in the air. To us this was not very encouraging. We would often sit upon our breastworks and bring out all the military that was in us, discussing the probability of storming that almost inaccessible mountain which is almost 2,300 feet above the Tennessee River. After holding these councils of war in Company G, it was always decided it could not be done. Just a few days before the battle above the clouds it was said that Jeff Davis was on Lookout’s top to view the Yankees in every nook and corner on the Northern side in Chattanooga. Lookout Mountain stands in Tennessee and from its lofty heights you can see the States of Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Virginia, North and South Carolina. We remained in this camp until Sunday, November 22, when the Regiment was taken along Lookout Creek towards Chattanooga, to relieve a regiment of the 11th corps. It was placed upon a ridge about 500 yards north of the creek.
Between the creek and our regimental position was a nice level corn field. The corn had been cut and standing on shock. The creek, about 75 feet wide, was the dividing line between the Blue and the Gray. The Rebels had three pickets to our two, and about 200 feet back of the Rebel pickets or skirmishers was a railroad which, in case of emergency, gave them good protection, while in the rear of our lines was no protection but corn shocks. The writer was here sent out on the skirmish line, even tho it was not his turn to go, as non-commissioned officers always took their details in rotation, except in emergencies. However, with a little salt we took our dose, altho unfair to be compelled to take someone else’s place without a good excuse. We arrived at the creek with the skirmishers composed of Company G boys, whose names I am unable to give. Ed R. Smith is the only one I can recall.