The Ride on the Train
Chapter 31 (September 30, 1863 – October 1, 1863)
Soon the train was moving on again, passed Piedmont, Cameron and a number of other places along the route until we reached Benwood, West Virginia, about four miles south of Wheeling. Here we got off the cars and crossed the Ohio River on a pontoon bridge to Bellaire, Ohio. Here again on the banks of the Ohio River we received more rations of hardtack, pork and coffee. Again we took to our box cars on the Central Ohio Railroad, passing Belmont, Fairmont, Bannerville, and Cambridge and to Columbus the capitol of Ohio. Here we stopped for a short time, then on thru Jefferson, New London, South Charleston, Cedarville, and Xenia, where we were nobly treated by the citizens with good things to eat. Leaving here, we reached Dayton, a most beautiful city. This was the home of Colonel Craighton and Lieutenant Colonel Crane, of the 7th Ohio Regiment, belonging to our Brigade.
Continuing thru Ohio and while we had a large train heavily loaded going up grade, the cylinder head of our engine blew out and the train stopped until another locomotive could be brought on to help us off. Just across the fence near our train there was a large apple orchard loaded with fine fruit. It took but a few minutes to have nearly the whole train load of soldiers over the fence and carrying apples by bushels into the cars. It certainly was a great treat for all of us. At Columbus, the capitol, ladies came along the train and gave us pies, cakes, all kinds of fruit, and a little smile and a kind word for each of us, which was so nice and we all appreciated it to the fullest extent.
Here also the men would come with large baskets of grapes, peaches, etc. One we remember came with a large basket of fine peaches and some soldier caught him by the neck and backed him up against the car and said: “Drop that basket.” But he held on to the basket. The grip on his neck became tighter and he finally dropped it with the fruit. By this time some one from the 28th regiment came up and said he could whip the man that choked the peach man. The fellow that did the choking came up and said: “I am the man.” and in less time than I can tell it the 28th man went to his regiment a well used up fellow. The officers, hearing of the trouble, ordered all aboard the cars and none were allowed to get off while we remained in Columbus.
Wednesday, September 30. We now passed into Indiana, thru Richmond and Centerville, at which latter place we stopped for a little while. Here a small cannon was found, and some of the boys soon had it on the street, loaded it by breaking cartridges to get the powder and then fired it directly thru the street. Others got into line and charged the battery. The citizens were very much excited, but as no one was hurt it created a great deal of amusement both for the participants and the spectators.
At Cambridge City a fine supper was prepared and served in the railroad station, but we were carried directly thru, and I regret to this day that Company G missed that supper, for it looked fine and nice. Finally our train reached Indianapolis, the capitol city of Indiana.
Thursday, October 1. In Indianapolis we were fed at the soldiers’ home by order of Governor Morton. The only thing out of the ordinary on this menu was English cheese, it being the first we had eaten since we joined the army. We were given a little time to walk out and take in the sights which included the capitol building of the great State of Indiana.
The citizens treated us with the greatest kindness. Ladies would go along the train and exchange their names and addresses with the bashful boys. This, of course, resulted in many letters being written to the boys in blue, when we again got to the front. Many other amusing things happened along the way but circumstances prevent telling. The railroad stations along our route were crowded with cheering men, women and children. These crowds were so close to the moving train that frequently someone would grab the hat of some old “Hoosier” and to see the antics of the old man afforded lots of fun for the boys.
The majority of us carried hatchets and as we were packed in the box cars like sardines, we needed more ventilation, and this we readily provided by cutting holes in the sides and ends of the cars. The more venturesome would crawl out thru these holes while the train was speeding along and get on top of the cars, some even sleeping there all night. Jack Grant, one of the drafted men who joined Company G while in camp at Ellis’ Ford, tried to get on top of the car just as we were nearing a station; his hold slipped and he fell striking his head on a sill. He was picked up for dead, but finally he recovered altho his mind after this was considerably affected and he should never have been sent to the front. Poor fellow was killed on the skirmish line several months later.