Stories Along the March
Chapter 62 (November 24, 1864 – December 11, 1864)
In crossing the swamp in the evening the teams forded; along side was a foot-log with a railing on it. We dreaded to get wet, so the boys tried to get over dryshod on the foot-log. About the center of the crossing, the rebels had torn out the length of a log. The head of our regiment started out, and in a short time the log was filled up when the column stopped moving. The rear ones yelled, “Forward. What’s the matter? Go ahead.” Finally the colonel rode in to see what was wrong and to urge the boys forward. When he got there he saw what the trouble was, and urged us forward into the swamp.
We waded across alongside the wagons, and when we got out to where the bridge had been separated, we had lots of fun watching the fellows at the end of the log, which was about three feet above water and the water about three feet deep. The crowd came pushing forward, not knowing what was in store for them, but when the fellow at the end of the log had no way of getting back as the order was “forward”, and when he jumped into the water nearly every one fell into the water and was entirely immersed. But before jumping off each fellow had a little speech to make. When it was finished another man was there to say his speech. We, who waded, were pretty well soaked while the log travelers were wet from head to foot. The ones in the water hardly had time to get away before the next fellow jumped down beside him.
Hundreds of cattle were taken from plantations and driven along the line of march, but these had to be driven off the road on account of giving the troops and wagon trains the right of way. Many perished in crossing the swamps. They would sink into the mud, some entirely disappearing, others only partly under water, some with their heads above water. These we left to drown or starve. We had no way of getting them out.
We wore the forage or scull cap and on it was a white star designating the second division of the 20th corps, also G. 147 P. V. I. in brass letters. Jerre Moyer started out for water. He found a well surrounded with a lot of thirsty boys, but he managed to get near enough to dip his coffee kettle into the bucket when it was drawn out of the well. Just then a soldier reached over his head for water, shoved Jerre’s cap off, and it fell into the well. He came back to the company a-tearing and a-swearing, and meeting Freddie Ulrich, his old messmate who always carried an extra hat, said to him: “Fret gep mere di hute. A dunnerser sird brigade feller srowed my hat in de brunna. I wouden care for de hat ovver de nummers.” [“Fred, give me your hat. A Thundering Brigade fellow threw my hat into the well. I would not care for that hat except for the numbers.”]
In the pine forest we burned a large resin and turpentine factory and the whole heavens were black with smoke for several days. It looked as if a great storm was brewing. For the safety of our foragers and those who might wander away from the marching columns every precaution was taken. The different corps had their corps badge marked on trees every mile or two. The 20th corps with XX, the 14th with XIV and so on. Any one getting on the roads over which the troops had passed could readily know what troops had marched over the road.
At the crossing of a large swamp an alligator was killed, which was said to have measured 10 feet. The Company boys went to see him. A Dutchman cut a piece out of the alligator weighing perhaps three pounds. It looked nice and white like the bosom of a chicken. He said: “Dos iss gute. Dos nem ich un kochs un es ich.” [“This is good. This I will take and eat it.”] We thought as far as we were concerned he was welcome to the carcass.
A Battle That Was Never Fought
Going into camp one afternoon towards evening, an orderly from General Geary’s headquarters was sent around to notify all the orderly sergeants of every company in the White Star division to come to the General’s headquarters, that a man had been found at a mill, who had been shot and they wanted to identify him. He was dressed in our uniform and had a white star on his cap. He was not identified.
Sergeant F. H. Knight was then orderly sergeant of company K, and while away his messmate, Sergeant John R. Reigle put up his tent too close to the writer’s fire and Sergeant Knight’s tent was burned. When he returned and the story was told him he put on his war paint and said: “Unless you furnish me with a new piece of tent I will take it out of your hide.” I laughed in my sleeve, and he continued to get hotter and hotter. But finally matters were adjusted and we were ever after and to this day the best of friends. At our (Company G) bean soup picnics, he often refers to the burning of the tent and says that if he had gotten just a little madder at that time Schroyer would not be here to attend Company G picnics.
I failed to say that before leaving Atlanta, Corporal J. A. Lumbard was promoted to take charge of the brigade commissary guards, a position he held to the close of the war. John Stuck and John Reed got into a quarrel about a piece of ham that the foragers had brought in. They brandished their knives and threatened to stab each other, when Ed Fisher, getting scared, told the writer that he was going to tell Captain Byers about the fight, that he believed that they would kill each other. The captain replied: “These fellows are always growling, now let them fight it out.” Ed came back and to his surprise he found everything quiet and Stuck and Reed were enjoying the ham at their evening meal.