HEROISM OF SOLDIERS' WIVES---WHAT THEY ENDURED AT HOME---A SUNDAY MORNING VISIT TO THEIR FAMILIES---LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL---PATHETIC INCIDENTS
Petition of four hundred and eighty Soldiers in Southern Hospitals---"Ignore us, but look after our suffering Families!"---Heroism of Wives and Mothers---Visit Soldiers' Families with Chaplain McCabe---Children fierce and wild with Hunger---An underground Room, and great Wretchedness---The Soldier's Widow dies in the Night---Her Mother, in the Darkness, defends the Body from Rats---The Baby falls from the Chamber Window, while the Mother is away washing---A Colored Woman turned out on the Sidewalk, with her dying Child, for unpaid Rent---Her Husband fighting under Colonel Shaw, in the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts---Governor Andrew sends me Carte blanche in the way of Relief for Families of that Regiment---The Historian should remember the Heroism of the Hearthstone.
T a Sanitary Convention held in Des Moines, Ia., a petition was presented from four hundred and eighty soldiers in the general hospitals at the South, asking, among other things, that the people of that state would took after the welfare of their families while they were in the service of the country. "We are grateful for all kindnesses shown us," was the language of these veterans. "We appreciate your noble and thoughtful charity, which reaches us in camp, in the hospital, and on the battle-field. But we prefer that you should forget us, and leave us to struggle with our fate as we may, if you will but look after our wives and children, our mothers and sisters, who are dependent upon us for support. A severe winter is before them, and we are rent with anxiety as we remember their slender resources, and our meagre and irregular pay. Succor them, and withhold your charity from us."
I often heard the same entreaty from men in the hospital and in camp, from men in health and on the march, and from men just passing into eternity. "Our wives and children, our mothers and sisters, who will take care of them?" Public sympathy was easily awakened for the brave men who went out to fight the battles of the country, and all demands made on the means and money of the loyal North for their relief were promptly met. Money and supplies were poured without stint into the Sanitary Commission; and wherever an opportunity was offered, either by the return of a regiment, or by visits to the hospitals, the people delighted to lavish their bounty directly on the soldiers.
But an immense amount of heroism among the wives of soldiers passed unnoticed, or was taken as a matter of course. For the soldier, he had his comrades about him, shoulder to shoulder. He had excitement. He had praise, if he did well. He had honorable mention, and pitying tears, if he fell nobly striving. But alas for his wife! Even an officer's wife, who had sympathizing friends, who had the comforts and many of the luxuries of life, whose children's future was provided for if their father fell, what hours of dreadful suspense she passed, even under those favorable circumstances!
But for the wife of the poor soldier, who in giving her husband to her country gave everything; who had no friend to say "Well done!" as the lagging weeks of suspense crept on, and she stood bravely at her post keeping want and starvation at bay; whose imagination was busy among the heaps of dead and wounded, or traversing the wretched prison-pens, and shuddering at the thought of their demoniac keepers; who kept down her sobs as her little daughter offered up nightly prayers for "dear papa to come home!" or her son traced slowly with his forefinger the long list of killed and wounded "to see if father's name was there"; who shrouded her eyes from the possible future of her children should her strength give out under the pressure of want and anxiety; compared with her sharp mental torture, the physical suffering of the soldier sinks into insignificance. This silent army of heroines was too often forgotten. They were martyrs who died and made no sign. The shouts of far-off victories drowned their feeble wailings, and the horrors of hospitals overshadowed deeply their unobtruded miseries.
During the progress of one of the sanitary fairs, I called on a man and wife for help in the evening entertainments, when the wife observed, "You are doing a great work in aiding to relieve the sufferings of the soldiers; but there is another class, quite as worthy, that receives but little attention."
"What is that?" I inquired.
"The destitute families of soldiers in the field and of soldiers deceased. My husband enlisted in the beginning of the war. He left a good situation which had yielded us a comfortable living; and I was willing he should, for I was as patriotic as he, and knew that the country needed his services. He was to send me ten dollars of his monthly pay. A man of wealth promised to pay my rent the first year.
"Another was to furnish the winter's fuel. And another was to supply me with work from his clothing store. I had three children to provide for, the eldest six years, the youngest three months. I expected to live more economically than ever before, and I was willing to do so for the sake of the country. My husband's regiment received. marching orders, and, although it was almost like burying him, I bore up under his departure, and put the best foot forward, remembering how much now depended upon me.
"Almost immediately my husband got sick and was sent to the hospital, and there he remained nine months, crippled with rheumatism. All that time not a cent of his pay reached me. My rent was paid the first three months, and then Mr. ----- removed to New York, and that was the end of his promise. Mr.-----, who was to help me in the matter of fuel, forgot his promise; and when I went to him to remind him of it, be complained of his own poverty and of the high prices of fuel, and answered me so rudely that I never troubled. him afterwards. I only got sewing from the clothing store three months out of twelve. I cannot tell you what I suffered during the first eighteen months. That winter I was in such poverty that I could not obtain food sufficient for us all. The cries of my hungry children almost drove me mad, and to them I carried all the food I obtained, often suffering from hunger myself so that I longed to die.
"Matters went from bad to worse. I was forced to move three times because of unpaid. rent, and at last there came a time when I was without money, food, almost without fuel, and utterly without work or the prospect of any. I broke down in utter despair, and one night, after my children got asleep, I rushed down to the lake shore, determined on suicide. At the last moment my courage failed me, as I thought of my three helpless little children left with no one to care for them. I am an Englishwoman, and I had never before known want, and had never begged. But as I went back to my children that night, my pride was humbled, and I resolved to go to the poormaster in the morning and ask that we might be sent to the poorhouse. But in the morning relief came. I received a letter from my husband, with a hundred and thirty dollars in it, and that saved me that time.
"As the months went on the pressure became so terrible that at my entreaty my husband sought his discharge, and obtained it, and came home. You would call the means employed to obtain his discharge dishonorable, and he would not have resorted to them but for the fact that his family was starving. He might have remained in the service a year longer if we had been cared for. I could tell you of other cases harder than mine."
A few weeks later, a slight, delicate, pale-faced woman entered the rooms of the Commission about ten in the morning, whose face told us immediately that she was in suffering. I knew her as a soldier's wife with five small children, for she had been to me before. With a burst of agonized feeling, which no one who witnessed will ever forget, she said, "What shall I do? For God's sake tell me what I shall do! My children have literally, absolutely had not one mouthful to eat since ten o'clock yesterday morning. All yesterday afternoon I tried to get work at washing, scrubbing, or cleaning house. Some did not want me then; others wanted help immediately, but thought me too feeble for their work; others promised me work in a day or two; and I went home as empty-handed as I started. I was going to try again this morning, faint as I am for lack of food; but I have left my children famishing, crying with hunger, and I have come to beg. For God's sake do something for my poor little children!"
A wealthy lady standing by, who had heard the story with streaming eyes, gave the poor mother ten dollars, and hurried her back to buy food for her children. Others interested themselves in her directly, and before night there was sent to the soldier's wife and her children a barrel of flour, two barrels of potatoes, two hams, a bushel of beans, twenty pounds of pork, fifty dollars' worth of groceries, a ton of coal, and a half-cord of wood sawed and split. It was not often, however, that relief came so quickly or in such abundance.
On one occasion the week had been so crowded with work that I was obliged to devote Sunday morning to visiting some half-dozen soldiers' families, concerning whom I was feeling great anxiety. Chaplain McCabe, of the Christian Commission, who had been a chaplain in the army, and was captured at the battle of Bull Run, spending months in Libby Prison, wished to accompany me in these visits. He desired to witness for himself the poverty and distresses of the families of men in the field. With one exception I had visited every family on which we called for a year or longer, and knew their circumstances intimately, so that there was no chance for imposition. I transcribe from my journal the details of the visits made that morning, as they were written Out on my return:--
"Visit number one was made to a German woman, whose husband is in the Twenty-fourth Illinois, now before Atlanta, Ga. She has seven children, the two youngest of whom cannot walk,----one from paralysis, and the other from its babyhood. Her husband left her eighteen dollars when he went away, and he has sent her money but once since, as he has been most of the time in the hospital. They own a little house with three rooms, built on leased ground; but the lease expired the first of this month and the land has been sold to an Irishman, who wishes the house moved off. What to do, she is unable to decide. Where she can lease a new lot, or obtain the money for leasing, and for moving the house, she does not know. If her husband were at home, all would be well; for his neighbors with one voice testify to his industry and sobriety. 'He is too much patriot,' they cry; 'he fight too much in the army.' And to prove their assertion they tell you he went into the revolutionary war of Europe in 1848, leaving his family then in distressing circumstances.
"Three times in a year the poor woman has been to me, weeping bitterly because she had not a mouthful of food for herself and children. On one occasion she brought three of her younger children into my kitchen. Ordinarily they are exceedingly quiet and well behaved; but this time they were so hungry that they were fierce and wild, and caught at food like animals, eating so rapidly and voraciously that I had to interfere lest harmful results would follow in the matter of digestion. To feed, clothe, and warm her family this winter, she has only her own labor to depend upon, and the irregular and small remittances from her husband. She washes, cleans house, and picks rags. Both the house and children were scrupulously clean, although indicative of extreme poverty; and the mother, though worn with care and labor, says she does not regret her husband's enlistment. 'It was right,' she says."
"Number two was an American family. The father is in the Ninety-first Illinois, and is in Vicksburg, guarding the prison. He is a carpenter, and could earn two and a half to three dollars per day if he were at home. His wife is a lovely, delicate woman, with three children. The husband is a noble fellow, and has only expended five dollars at the sutler's in two years; and that has been for stationery. He has drawn as little clothing as possible, and sends all his money home. It has reached his wife with unusual regularity. She owns a sewing-machine, gets plenty of work; for she is a most skilful needlewoman, aside from being a good operator on the machine. She is able, with the assistance of her husband's pay, to get along comfortably. But the last hundred dollars from her husband, brought up by one of his discharged lieutenants, was gambled away by the latter when coming up the Mississippi.
"She has lately fallen ill and been confined to her bed by sickness. The loss of this money plunged her into poverty, which, with the instinct of American women, she kept to herself. At last the unpaid rent had accumulated to thirty dollars, and she was in imminent danger of being turned out of doors. Food and fuel were gone, and starvation stared her in the face. All the while she wrote brave, cheerful letters to her husband, hiding the truth from him, and assuring him all was well. She would not distress him with the narration of troubles he could not remedy, she said; and so suffered and kept silence. I learned accidentally of her destitute circumstances. It is needless to say that speedy relief was carried to her and her weeping children.
"Her husband also learned accidentally how sad was the plight of his family, and besought his commander so earnestly for a furlough, that three weeks' leave of absence was given him. That visit brought the wife back from the verge of the grave; and, when her husband returned to his regiment, leaving her the money he had earned at his trade during his furlough, which a few generous people had largely increased by donations that they compelled him to accept, she again took up her burden of life, a little stronger to bear it. She cannot work yet; but she is not forgotten by the generous and patriotic, and will not be.
"Visit number three was to an underground room, in an old tumble-down building, on Wells Street, which is inhabited by nine families, one half of whom live in cellars, below the level of the street. Here, the wife of a soldier in one of the Ohio regiments, an American woman, died some two months since. I only learned of the case after she was dead. I went in the morning to the apartment, and found her aged mother, over seventy, with two children, two and four years of age, her only surviving relatives. They were so poor that they had not even a bit of candle, nor a drop of kerosene, nor a stick of fuel with which to make a light during the night, when the dying woman asked her mother to read some verses from the Scriptures, as she was passing away. The dreadful underground room is infested with rats, and during the remainder of the night the aged mother stood by her daughter's bedside, fighting the rats from the lifeless body.
"A few weeks after the mother's sorrowful death, the youngest child died. There remain now only the aged grandmother and the boy of four years. The husband was killed in the army some eight months before. They have no acquaintances, except among those who are in such abject poverty that affection is killed by it. They have no near relatives. The aged grandmother clings to her little grandson, who is her only tie to life. The sufferings of the dead mother and the entire family have been fearful; and the attenuated-figure of the little boy and of the aged woman tell a story of starvation. No one knew them until suffering had done its dread-nil work on the young soldier's widow, and laid her at rest from the sorrows of life.
"The poor grandmother is an object of the deepest commiseration. I never go to her comfortless home that I do not surprise her in tears. She is afraid her dead. daughter has failed of heaven; and I am always compelled to go over my grounds of assurance that all is well with her. Chaplain McCabe, who listened to the poor woman's story, prayed and sang with her, and bade her be comforted with the confident assertion that her daughter was with the blessed. Arrangements are nearly completed to place the grandmother in the Old Ladies' Home, and to take the little boy into the Home of the Friendless.
"Number four was a soldier's family whose heaviest burdens have been removed by the return of the husband and father to his family. He has been discharged from the service, in consequence of serious injuries received in the left hand, arm, and side, from the bursting of a shell. He has found a little light employment, which, with the work of his energetic American wife, renders them comparatively independent of charity. She has toiled, suffered, and endured patiently, in his long absence, to support herself and child. Since the return of her crippled husband, the pinched look has left her face, and the pallor of death has been supplanted by a healthy hue. 'If I could only get plenty of work,' she says, 'I should be so happy that a queen might envy me!'
"Number five was the wife of one of the men who are forcing their way into Mobile under Admiral Farragut. She is one of the better sort of Irish women; and, though she rarely receives money from her husband, she earns enough to support herself and little daughter. When well, she needs no assistance; but a week's sickness or the loss of a week's work puts her in a tight place.
"Number six is a woman whose husband is in the Seventy-second Illinois. She has three children to maintain, whom she has to neglect in order to earn bread for them. Almost every day, week after week, she leaves the two younger in the care of the older, a little girl of nine years, and goes out to work, washing, scrubbing, and cleaning, from seven in the morning till six in the evening. Last week, when her children were locked up in the room in her absence, the baby, eighteen months old, fell out of the second-story chamber window, and was taken up for dead. It did not kill the child immediately, but he may yet die from the effects of the fall. He was taken to the children's ward of the hospital, where he can receive the care and nursing that his mother cannot give him. She is worn to a skeleton with hard work, but rarely complains, or asks for help. These last two women occupy three miserable attic rooms together, paying ten dollars per month for rent; and they render each other all the assistance in their power. Poor as they are, they are very helpful to one another.
|1. Fifth N.H. Reg't.||2. First R.I. Cavalry||3. Sixteenth Conn. Reg't.|
|4. Fifty fourth (Colored Mass. Reg't.)||5. First Vermont Cavalry||6. Twentieth Mass. Reg't.|
"Number seven was a colored woman, whose husband has been in the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts, under Col. Robert G. Shaw, from its organization. Not a cent has yet been paid by government to any colored soldier who has gone from Chicago. This woman was a slave when the war began,---is still, as far as any manumission by her master is concerned. Since her husband's absence, she has passed through hunger, cold, sickness, and bereavement. Her landlord, a rich man of the city, a German, put her out of her house on the sidewalk, in a cold rain storm, because she owed him five dollars for rent, and could not then earn it, as her child was sick unto death with scarlet fever. One of her colored neighbors, as poor as she, took her in; and the baby died on the next Sunday morning. She came to me to get the baby buried, without going to the poormaster. 'It don't seem right for my child to be buried like a pauper,' she said, 'when her father is fighting for the country.' And I agreed with her.
"A way was devised to give the little one decent burial; and the mother's heart is comforted by the thought that her child will never have to pass through what she has. The woman's husband was born a slave in Beaufort, S. C., and thither his regiment was first ordered. He has learned to read and write, and wrote me a most graphic account of the battle in which his heroic colonel, the brave Robert G. Shaw, was killed. I made the poor woman supremely happy by reading to her a letter from Governor Andrew of Massachusetts, giving me carte blanche for the relief of the families living in Chicago whose husbands and fathers have enlisted in the Fifty-fourth. I promised to help her to house-keeping again, as soon as she can collect her scattered household goods.
"Number eight was the wife of another colored soldier of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts She has four children, and has not received any of her husband's earnings. Government has not paid him. She is lying very sick with typhoid fever. I gladdened her by telling her of Governor Andrew's letter, which will immediately procure her a physician and nurse, medicine, and food for her children. Chaplain McCabe sang her a beautiful hymn, in his melodious and expressive style, and then prayed with her. The colored people in the neighborhood, whom music always attracts, silently flocked into the room, as he sang and prayed; and, as they stood weeping and listening, I found it difficult to repress my own tears for the friendless and feeble wives of the soldiers, of whose sad condition I know so much. They are not remembered, nor ministered to, nor sympathized with, as they should be."
If the history of this war shall ever be written in full, whatever else the historian may forget, he will not fail to chronicle the sublime valor manifested at the hearthstone, all over this struggling land.
MY FIRST PUBLIC SPEECH---CROSSING THE MISSISSIPPI IN A ROW-BOAT---"A VOICE FROM THE FRONT"---FACING AN AUDIENCE FOR THE FIRST TIME---AN EVENTFUL NIGHT.
Return from the Front---Accept Invitation from Dubuque to address the Ladies---Ferry-boat detained by moving Ice in the Mississippi---Cross in a Row-boat---The Trip attended with much Danger---The Risk assumed---Many prophesied evil Results--They proved false Prophets---Crossed the River safely---"All Iowa will hear you to-night"---Appalled at the Prospect---Am advertised for a Lecture, without being consulted---"A Voice from the Front !"---Fear to attempt a public Speech---Hesitation overcome by Colonel Stone's Argument---The Results that followed---An Iowa Sanitary Fair is planned and carried out---Aggregates nearly $60,000.
CAME up the Mississippi River the last of April, 1863, where I had been spending some weeks in work among the hospitals. I found my desk loaded with invitations to visit aid societies, or deliver addresses, in which I should narrate my experiences. All were eager to hear directly from the army at the front, which was fighting not the enemy alone, but swamp fever, malarial diseases, and, worse than all, scurvy. The invitation which I decided to accept was one which in the order of date was first given, and that took me to Dubuque, Ia. The ladies had written as follows:--
"The hall in which we hold our meetings will accommodate about three hundred. We shall pack it for an afternoon meeting. We want you should narrate to the ladies who will be in attendance what you have seen. Explain to them the need of sanitary stores---how it happens that the government does not do everything for the soldiers---and what is the particular kind of relief most necessary. In the evening we shall adjourn to a larger hall, where we shall have music, sell cake, ice cream, hot coffee, and other refreshments, and where we hope the attendance will be doubled. The great attraction will be your presence, and the fact that through you the gentlemen can get such information as they may desire. If we have good weather, we shall clear one hundred dollars."
I started the night before from Chicago, on one of the Pullman sleepers, and reached Dunleith---now East Dubuque---early in the morning. No bridge then spanned the Mississippi at that point---it was only a possibility in the future. A ferry-boat took passengers across. But as we alighted from the train, we saw the boat on the opposite, side, with no prospect of being able to steam across immediately. The ice had moved down from the upper river, and was wedged in great masses opposite Dubuque, the broken and ponderous sheets grinding against each other and stretching from shore to shore. All ferriage of freight and passengers had ceased for twenty-four hours, and we only increased the anxious and impatient crowd; most of whom vented their displeasure at this unwelcome blockade in useless imprecations on the railroad officials.
I spent the weary day watching the unmoving ice, and wondering what was to become of my engagement in the evening. About three in the afternoon, I observed two men, on the Dunleith side, launching a row-boat where the river was open. By dint of earnest entreaty, and promise of handsome payment, I persuaded them to row me over. They assured me that I would be drowned---and one of them declared "if she were my wife, she shouldn't go a step!" I was not so certain of that. And I also knew that the boatmen were accustomed to this mode of conveyance, and had no expectation of being drowned themselves. If they dared take the risk, I need not fear to accompany them. My fellow-passengers bade me "god-bye" ruefully, prophesying, with the boatmen, that I should be drowned---or, at least, "handsomely ducked." They all proved false prophets.
It took a long while to cross, for the men were obliged to row up-stream, above the loose ice, into clear water, and then to descend the river on the Dubuque side. I was safely landed, at dark, a mile above the regular wharf. I found my way to the house of my friend, who was to entertain me. A great shout of joy welcomed me as I entered the door. She was the President of the Aid Society, and the ladies had gathered in her parlors to arrange a new programme for the evening, as they despaired of keeping the promise they had made the public. Talking all at once they began to inform me of their grand arrangements for the evening, which my unexpected arrival would enable them to carry out.
So great an interest had been awakened that they had decided to hold their meeting in the evening in the Congregational church, and, to encourage me, they told me that neither Professor Agassiz, nor Bayard Taylor, who had lectured in it that winter, had been able to fill it with their voices. Governor Kirkwood was to preside; the Governor-elect, Colonel Stone, who was at home from the army with a gunshot wound, was to be in attendance; so were the Adjutant-General, 'the Attorney-General of the state, the leading members of the Legislature of both Houses, the Indian Commissioner, and, in short, almost all-the magnates of the state of Iowa.
"You never could have a better opportunity to talk to all Iowa!" said the women, all in one breath. "For every county of the state will be represented in the audience to-night, and everything is auspicious of large results. How immensely fortunate that you were able to cross the river!"
I was appalled and dumbfounded. At that time, I had never attempted a public address to a promiscuous audience. I had only addressed audiences of women, sitting in a chair decorously before them, and trying with all my might to keep my hands folded on my lap. I had no idea whether I had voice to reach an audience such as the ladies had invoked---or courage to bear me through the ordeal. I was sure of one thing---that I had nothing whatever to say to a congregation so imposing in numbers and in character, and I flatly refused to carry out their programme.
"You never should have made these arrangements without consulting me!" was my frightened rejoinder. "I am not' a public speaker; I have never made a speech in my life, and never have addressed any but companies of women. I had something to say to you, ladies, as the Aid Society, but it is not at all worthy to be presented as an address to the great audience that you have unwisely called together. I cannot do it!'!
The ladies protested. They had extensively advertised the evening meeting, and the town was gay with colored placards, announcing in letters as large a my hand, not only my name, but "the title of my lecture "---"A VOICE FROM THE FRONT! "---for so they had christened my unborn speech. They knew I could do all they had promised in the bills, if I would only attempt it. They had not supposed it was necessary to consult me---they had taken it for granted that I could talk to three thousand as well as three hundred---and to back down because men were, in part, to compose the audience, why, that was too absurd---I must not think of such a thing. But the more they urged and persuaded, the more cowardly and helpless I became, until, at last, my courage took an utter stampede, and I was hardly able to talk coherently with them in the parlor. No shallop left on the shore by the retreating tide was ever more helpless or inert than I felt myself to be. There was no float in me---and I could not believe there ever would be.
Gentlemen began to arrive governors, generals home on furlough, colonels, adjutants, and they all joined their entreaties to those of the crestfallen women. But they might as well have entreated a post. The thing was not in me. I dared not attempt it. At last it was settled that Colonel Stone, the Governor-elect, in whose regimental hospital I had spent some days, and with whom I had had an acquaintance at the front, should make my speech for me. I was to tell him what I intended to say to the women---to give him all the points which I wished enforced---to transfer to him such phases of my experience as would be particularly interesting, and, above all, to acquaint him with the sore need of large quantities of sanitary supplies. And especially with the fact that the Army of the Mississippi was suffering extremely from a lack of anti-scorbutics.
The hour for the meeting arrived. The church adjoined my place of entertainment. The gentlemen came in to hurry us, in advance of the advertised hour, for the house was so packed that not another person could enter, nor was an inch of standing room unoccupied. Dreadfully chagrined and depressed---but much less humiliated than I, the innocent cause of their abasement-the ladies of the Aid Society went ahead to the seats reserved for them. Then the dignitaries of the state followed, while Colonel Stone and I brought up the rear. As we passed down from the parlor, he drew me by the arm into the lower reception-room, the door. of which stood open as we were passing. Closing the door and turning the key in the lock, he stood with his back to it, and faced me.
"I have no expectation, Mrs. Livermore," he said, "that I can in the least change your decision concerning the evening address, but this has occurred to me. I have seen you at the front, watched your work in the hospitals, and believe you are in earnest, and are honest. When you tell me that you want to be a hand or a foot, an eye or an ear, a voice or an influence in the work of assisting the country in its sad hour of trouble, I believe just what you say; I think you mean it. To-night God has prepared for you an opportunity to speak to all Iowa. You have not wished it. The ladies of the Aid Society have not done it. These eminent gentlemen have happened here on various errands, and this opportunity has, in a certain sense, come about providentially. Now, how dare you, when God has given you such an opportunity to do a great work, how dare you refuse, and say, 'I cannot do it'? It is not necessary for you to deliver an oration; it is only necessary to say to the great audience in the church just what you had come prepared to say to the ladies of the Aid Society. It will be more effective than any labored speech, or any carefully prepared address. It is for you to say whether the evening shall be a success for the hospitals of the South---whether the state of Iowa shall commence doing sanitary work, or whether this grand occasion shall prove a failure."
He spoke very impressively, looking me earnestly in the face. For a few moments we stood silently confronting each other. Somehow I felt the full force of all that he had said, and there came over me a complete revulsion of feeling. I felt willing to undertake what I had flatly refused to do while talking with the ladies, and a subtle consciousness stole over me that I should succeed in it. I said, "Very well, Colonel Stone, I will attempt it; only do not allow long preliminaries; and after Governor Kirkwood has opened the meeting, let him introduce you as the orator of the evening. You must explain to the people that I am not a public speaker; that I have never in my life made a public address; that I have only come prepared with a small statement of facts for the Ladies' Aid Society; and then introduce me as quickly as possible, and I will do the best I can."
I followed him down the aisle of the church to the platform, erected in front of the pulpit, where a seat was reserved for me. The ladies of the Aid Society looked their astonishment. As speedily as possible Colonel Stone presented me to the great gathering. I rose by a supreme effort, trembling in every fibre of my being, although outwardly appearing calm. Shutting out all thought of the expectant multitude before me, I concentrated my mind upon what I had to say. For the first ten minutes I talked into utter darkness. It was as if the house was unlighted. I did not even hear the sound of my own voice---only a roaring, as if ten thousand mill-wheels were thundering about me. The knocking of Belshazzar's knees was not a circumstance to the play that mine kept up. The physical tumult into which this effort plunged me was exhausting. It would have prostrated a feebler woman, and it was days before I recovered my usual calmness of nerve and steadiness of poise.
But gradually it began to grow light about me. I began to hear my own voice. I could, after a little, distinguish the faces of people whom I knew. I was aware that I was being heard all over, the house. Then I lost all sense of fear, and after the first fifteen minutes I forgot the audience, the fact that I was a novice as a public speaker, and only remembered the destitution, sickness, and suffering I had seen at the front. And the feeling grew strong within me that the people of Iowa, who had, as I knew, contributed but little to the cause of hospital relief, must be aroused to do their share of the work. Once I was interrupted by long and loud applause. I was so absorbed that I did not understand it for a moment, and looked around to see what had fallen. I thought some of the seats had given way.
When I closed I supposed I had spoken half an hour; I had in reality talked an hour and a quarter. Governor Kirkwood immediately followed. "Without any attempt at speech-making," he said, "Mrs. Livermore has to-night given us facts. She has told us of the soldiers' needs; she has told us of our duties. It is now our turn to speak, and we must speak in dollars and gifts." And asking Colonel Stone to keep the tally of the contributions, he called for donations.
I cannot describe the scene that followed. More rapidly, than two could record it, eight thousand dollars in money were pledged, five hundred barrel's of potatoes, eighty-eight barrels of sauer-kraut, one hundred and fifty bushels of onions, which are the very best anti-scorbutics, and five hundred pairs of hospital shirts and drawers.
Attorney-General Bissell now rose, and said: "Mrs. Livermore has told us that it is possible for Iowa to do a great deal through a sanitary fair, and, as the fair epidemic has travelled eastward all over the country, until it has exhausted itself on the Atlantic coast, I think it will be well for us to invoke its re-appearance here in Dubuque. It is now almost eleven o'clock. If those who must leave the house will retire as rapidly as possible, the rest of us will remain; and, if Mrs. Livermore will assist us, we will organize the skeleton of an association for an Iowa Sanitary Fair."
Very few left the church. When the meeting adjourned, at half-past twelve, subject to the call of the President on a future occasion, the organization for a sanitary fair was well formed, and the plans pretty well mapped out. With these results attendant on my first speech, is it surprising that I have accepted the platform as powerful in the advocacy of a good cause, or in advancement of a great reform?
From the beginning of the war Iowa had nobly responded to the call of the country. From her sparse population she had sent forth her sons to assist in the defence of freedom and the subduing of the rebellion, until she was then twenty thousand ahead of her quota. On every battle-field Iowa men had won an imperishable name for the lofty courage with which they had contemned death. From almost every home in Iowa, wives and mothers, sisters and lovers, had surrendered to the exigencies of war those dear to them as their heart's blood. Under the call for men for the "hundred days' service," the colleges and institutions of learning had sent forth their entire senior classes, so that there was not a college Commencement that year in Iowa. And for the same reason the courts had adjourned, and all legal and United States business had been postponed for the present.
But while Iowa had contributed so nobly of her sons to the country, she had not kept pace with the other Northwestern states in the sanitary work for the relief of the sick and wounded. There had been reasons for this. A diversity of opinion as to the best methods of doing this work was probably the most potent. The sanitary supplies had largely been sent through unreliable channels, and so had failed to reach those for whom they were intended. This had brought discouragement throughout the state. But this evening meeting in the Congregational church quickened the whole state into intense activity; and in the furor which followed, she outdid her sister states, which had been longer at work.
After making arrangements at home for my absence, I spent some months in Iowa, riding in "mud-spankers," in stages, "prairie schooners," on railroads, and in every conceivable way. I held meetings, and did whatever was necessary, in connection with the men and women who had organized for this purpose, to make their sanitary fair a great success.
It opened in the last week of June, 1864. I had been kept informed of its steady growth, and was prepared for something creditable, but was surprised by its beauty and magnitude. It was a wonderful fair, when all that pertained to it was fully comprehended. It was held west of the Mississippi; where the refinements and luxuries of civilization were not supposed to exist in large measure. It was held in a new state, where railroads were not numerous, and where prairie stage-coaches were still the principal conveniences for travelling.
At that time more than half the territory of the state was in the hands of Eastern speculators, who refused to open it to immigration. The male population had been so drained by the repeated calls of the country, that women were aiding in the outdoor work of the farms, all through the state, ploughing, reaping, mowing, and threshing. The fair was held in a state not rich, save in the great hearts of its loyal men and women, and its broad acres of virgin prairie, holding uncounted wealth in its bosom. There were no ladies and gentlemen of elegant leisure among her people. Few idlers or listless hangers-on were there, all being engaged in the earnest work of subduing nature,---in building highways and railroads, bridges and steam-boats, school-houses and warehouses, and in bringing the soil under cultivation.
As I entered the spacious City Hall building, three stories high, completely occupied by the fair, and went from one department to another, each filled with articles tasteful, beautiful, and useful, I was astonished at the great variety of wares displayed. This latest born of the great sisterhood of fairs seemed, at a coup d'il, equal in beauty and general effect to any of its predecessors.
It was intended to hold the fair for one week only. But, finding it impossible to carry out the purpose of the executive committee, it was decided to continue it a week longer. The gross receipts of the first week were sixty thousand dollars. It was a splendid result, and an unparalleled success, when all the circumstances were considered. At the end of the second week the managers of the fair were able, to announce their net profits as nearly sixty thousand dollars. In estimating all the disadvantages under which this far-away state labored from the outset, and recalling her patriotism, loyalty, and generosity, one is forced to say, "Many states did excellently; but Iowa excelled them all!"
REMINISCENCES OF THE WAR---TOUCHING STORY OF A RING---THE MAJOR WHO CRIED FOR MILK---CAPTURE OF GENERAL GRANT---" OLD ABE," THE WISCONSIN WAR EAGLE, AND HIS WONDERFUL CAREER.
Confronted by one of my own Letters---The widowed Mother tells her Story---Puts her dead Daughter's Ring on my Finger---Officers' Hospital at Memphis---Its wretched Condition---Is made comfortable by the Commission--Incident at the Fabyan House, White Mountains---"Do you remember the Major who cried for Milk? "---Second Sanitary Fair in Chicago---Held after the War ended---Regiments, Soldiers, and Officers received there---An Ovation to General Grant---Executes a flank Movement on the People---Is captured by young Ladies--" This beats Vicksburg all out of Sight! "---"Old Abe," the Eagle of the Eighth Wisconsin---His military Behavior---Children sell his Pictures for the Soldiers' Fair---Make $16,308.93 by the Sales.
OME few years ago I filled a lecture engagement in Albion, Mich. At the close of the lecture, I observed, standing outside the little group of acquaintances who surrounded me, a white-haired, elderly woman, who approached me with the following inquiry:--
"Do you remember writing a letter for John of the Twelfth Michigan, when he lay dying in the Overton Hospital, at Memphis, in the spring of 1863? After he died, you completed the letter, writing to his mother and wife; do you remember it?"
I was obliged to tell the sad-faced woman that I performed so many offices of this kind during the war, when at the front or in the hospitals, that it was hardly possible for me to recall any individual case.
Drawing from her pocket a letter, that had been worn in pieces where it had been folded, and which was sewed together with flue cotton, she held it up to me.
"Do you remember this letter?"
I recognized my penmanship, and, glancing over the contents of the letter, saw what it was. The first four pages I had written at the dictation of a young man who had been shot through the lungs, and was dying. The language was his, not mine, and I had not amended his phraseology. I had completed the letter after his death, by the addition of three pages, in which I sought to comfort the bereaved survivors.
"I thought John's wife and I would die when. we heard he was dead," said the long-bereaved mother. "Your letter saved us. We were both comforted by it, and read it and re-read it, even when we had learned it word for word by much reading. When we heard of other women similarly bereaved, we loaned them the letter, until it was worn in pieces. Then we sewed it together; and then we made copies of it, and sent to our bereaved friends, and kept it in circulation until after the war ended.
"John's death was a great loss to us. He was my only child, and was born after my husband's death, a blessing and a comfort from the day he saw the light. He had been engaged to be married for three years when the war came. He felt that he ought to enlist, but Anna and I could not listen to such a proposal, and we talked it down. At last he felt it was a duty for him to enter the service, and that he must go. We all three agreed to pray over it for a week, and to announce our decisions the next Sunday morning. When we came together at the end of a week, we had all decided that it was his duty to serve his country in the field. He enlisted in the Twelfth Michigan, under good officers, and the regiment was ordered South immediately.
"Anna insisted that their marriage should take place before he left, that she might go down and nurse him if he got sick or was wounded. She accompanied him as far as Louisville, when she could go no farther, and was sent homeward. At John's request we made one family, and she was a true, loving daughter to me. For eighteen months no ill tidings were received from my son. He was always well, never was wounded, and the February before his death he came home on fourteen days' furlough. We had received only three letters from him after his return, when your letter came, announcing his death.
"Anna never got over it. She worked and kept busy, went to church and taught her class in the Sunday-school, but all the life had gone out of her. She used to be very gay, and full of frolic and fun, but she dropped down to a kind of mild sadness, and I never heard her voice ringing with laughter as in the old days. She fell into delicate health, and grew thinner and feebler as the years went by. Eight years ago she had gastric fever. After the fever was subdued, she didn't rally, but failed every day, becoming whiter and weaker, until I saw she must die. I tried hard to persuade her to live, for she was all I had, and I loved her for her own sake as well as John's.
"One day, when I was bathing her, her wedding ring rolled off her finger, which had wasted to the bone, and it was some time before it could be found. I proposed to put it away for safe keeping. 'No,' said Anna, 'let me wear it till I die. Roll a bit of paper on the inside to make it fit my finger. And, mother, when I am gone, if you can learn where Mrs. Livermore lives, send the ring to her, and ask her to wear it for my sake and John's. Tell her it was my dying request.'
"I live eight miles from here," said the worn woman. "And when I saw by the paper that you were going to lecture in Albion, I drove over to see and hear you. The ring has been cleansed this afternoon by a goldsmith, so that no taint of sickness or death clings to it. So please wear it, not only for the sake of John and Anna, but for my sake, for I shall probably never meet you again." And taking my hand, the widowed and childless mother slipped the ring on my finger, from which it has never since been taken. Bidding me "Good-bye," she seated herself in the cutter, and, gathering the reins in her hand, drove away in the moonlight, over the glittering snow, to her desolate home, eight miles away.
Affected as I was by the narrative, I am unable to recall a single circumstance of the event. But for the proof of my own letter I should be half tempted to believe the bereaved woman had confounded me with some other worker in the hospitals, so completely is all memory of the incident effaced from my mind.
When in Memphis, on one occasion during the war, I heard of an Officers' Hospital in a most pitiable condition. I went over to investigate it. Its wretchedness could not be exaggerated. Government made no provision for the care of officers when they were sick, beyond furnishing medicine and advice. They were better paid than the privates, and were expected to provide themselves with the food and clothing demanded by their situation. But they received their pay at such irregular intervals that, not unfrequently, when they became victims of disease, they suffered for the necessaries of hospital life, which were furnished freely to the rank and file.
There were over a hundred officers in this dreary hospital, many of them gentlemen, and most of them men of intelligence and character. There was not a cot in the wards, nor even an apology for a bed, nor was there an article of hospital clothing. There was an unusual dearth of everything at the Government Purveyor's---so that no remedy for the discomforts of the hospital could be expected from that quarter. A large shipment of hospital furniture, blankets, clothing and food was on its way to Memphis; and when it arrived, I was informed that the Officers' Hospital would be properly fitted up and furnished.
In the meantime, the men were lying in their uniforms, on rubber blankets, or on the bare floor, with their knapsacks for pillows. All were too ill to sit up, and some were sick unto death. Some were accompanied by colored servants, ignorant of any knowledge save what was sufficient for the roughest work, and so stupid and shiftless as to be encumbrances rather then assistants. There were no nurses, not even convalescent soldiers. The poverty and desolation of the hospital were indescribable. The officers did not complain, but expressed satisfaction that the privates were better cared for than they.
I applied to the Sanitary Commission in Memphis, whose shelves and drawers were crowded with clothing, and where large rooms were packed to repletion with cots, tables, bedding, camp-stools, sanitary stores of all kinds, and delicacies. The Commission was not expected to provide for officers, even when they were in hospital---they were popularly believed to be able to care for themselves. Neither was it to allow such mitigable suffering as this to be uncared for, and it moved immediately to the relief of the sick men. I was requested to make out the order for all that was necessary, and wagon-loads of cots, bedding, clothing, and whatever else was needed were immediately despatched, accompanied by relief agents.
There was admirable promptness, and the work of the agents of the Commission was not remitted until every man was relieved of his uniform, bathed, dressed in hospital garments, and placed in a clean, sweet bed. A sick-diet kitchen was established, and four of the women nurses whom I had brought from Chicago were detailed to service in the wards of the hospital. The gratitude of the neglected and helpless officers was unbounded. They could only express their thanks in broken words and sobs.
One morning, the surgeon informed me that all the patients with bowel difficulties might be allowed a specified quantity of milk three times a day---an order which I repeated to the men, as I knew they would welcome it with gratitude, as milk was the article of food they most craved. As I left the ward, I saw one of the officers, a major, bury his face in the pillow, and abandon himself to hysterical weeping. He had been very ill with pneumonia, through which he had barely lived. His convalescence was slow, and his complete recovery depended on careful nursing and proper diet.
I begged to know the cause of his grief. After much soothing and coaxing, I drew from him the reason of his tears. "I want milk too," he sobbed. bitterly, "but I haven't had bowel trouble, only pneumonia!" And turning his face to the wall, he broke afresh into violent weeping. I hastened to the surgeon, and obtained an order for milk to be given patients convalescing from pneumonia, of which I informed the major without delay. It was with great difficulty I could stanch his tears, for he was so pitifully weak as to be beyond his own control.
Two summers ago, I was at Fabyan's in the White Mountains. A tall, fine, military looking man sat opposite me at dinner. Like myself, he was attending the sessions of "The National Institute of Instruction." The essays and discussions of the morning formed the topic of conversation, in which all joined. In a lull of the talk, my vis-à-vis addressed me personally.
"Pardon me, madam---but were you in Memphis in April, 1863?"
"Did you visit the Officers' Hospital at that time, and remain till it was made comfortable, and put on the footing of a first-class institution?"
"Do you remember a major who nearly cried himself to death because he wanted milk, which had been prescribed for some of the patients, but not for him, who was recovering from pneumonia?"
"Very well, indeed, sir."
"Allow me to shake hands with you, madam. I am that man. I have always believed that I should have died but for the milk diet on which I was then placed. I want to thank you now for the good service you rendered me, as I have never before had an opportunity, and to tell you how ashamed I am when I remember my childishness."
There was no occasion for shame, or a sense of humiliation. For persons of unbending will, and iron control, when in good health, break down into infantile weakness of mind---when surrounded by the tender care of home, and the ministrations of love---if the nerves lose their tone, or disease saps the body of its vigor. How much stronger the tendencies to despondency in a comfortless hospital, where one is left to battle with sickness, uncheered by affection!
A second great sanitary fair was in progress in Chicago when the war ended. At no time were the wants of the soldiers more pressing than then; while the Chicago Soldiers' Home, established for the permanently disabled and indigent soldiers of Illinois, was in suffering need of funds. The profits of the fair were to be divided between the Home and the Commission---and again the Northwest bent its energies to the successful management of a sanitary fair.
The "boys in blue," returning home from service, dropped into the fair continually. Sometimes they came singly, sometimes in companies, and sometimes regiments were received, with pomp and ceremony. To all officers of the army there was accorded a hearty welcome, while the eminent generals, to whose leadership the country owes the preservation of the government and the restoration of peace, were received with ovations.
To General Grant a reception was accorded unequalled in the history of the Northwest. A vast crowd awaited his arrival at the railroad station, and it was with great difficulty that the mounted aids could make a way for him to the fair through the cheering throngs. Inside the bazar, the aid of the police was necessary to enable him to reach the platform. When the bands played "Hail to the Chief," and "The Red, White, and Blue," ten thousand. voices sang the words, drowning the instruments. Amid the wildest enthusiasm, he was presented to the people, who received him with tremendous applause, cheer upon cheer, that did not subside for some moments. Addresses were made by generals 'and governors, poems were read, written for the occasion, and there were music and cheering ad libitum---but both General and Mrs. Grant were imprisoned on the platform. They were unable to visit the various departments, to accept the courtesies offered them, nor could they reach the hall where an elegant lunch was awaiting them.
The next day General Grant visited the fair again, accompanied by his wife, and executed the greatest manoeuvre of his life. He made a flank movement on the people of Chicago, and visited the bazar in the early morning, when only those were present who were putting the great fancy ware-rooms in order for the day. He had nearly completed the tour of the several departments, both Mrs. Grant and himself had received many handsome gifts prepared especially for them, when the clock struck ten, the hour for the arrival of the young ladies who were to serve for the day. A volunteer staff of them immediately surrounded the General. He was captured. They accompanied him from booth to booth, and from gallery to gallery, until several hundred of the loveliest girls of the city were in his retinue.
They whisperingly appealed to me, again and again, for permission to kiss the great man, as modest and shy as he was famed, until at last I said to him,
"General Grant, these girls are very desirous to kiss you, but they have not the courage to propose it themselves."
"Well," said the gallant General, turning towards them, "if they want to kiss me I do not see what there is to hinder. I have been here three days and nobody has kissed me yet but my wife."
Instantly, dozens of charming fairies pounced upon him. He attempted to retreat, but it was in vain. He tried to break through the rosy ranks, but without success. For the first time he confessed himself vanquished, and calmly awaited events. The truth must be told---he gave kiss for kiss. Never was such a man subjected to such an ordeal. On came the maidens, singly, or in file, or by squads. They kissed him on the forehead, they kissed him on the nose, they kissed him on the cheek, chin, or neck. There must have been dozens of kisses lying around loose at the close of this attack, hidden in the General's whiskers. All the while the hero of a hundred battle-fields blushed until his face was crimson.
"Well," said he at the close, "that beats Vicksburg all out of sight!"
It tested the General's courage severely during that visit to show himself anywhere. His appearance on the street was the signal for a furor. A surging sea of humanity set toward him from every point, until the streets were blocked and business interfered with. On the following Sunday he attended the Methodist church on Indiana Avenue. When the service was concluded, the audience filed down one aisle and up the other to grasp the hand of their hero. After streams of people had flowed along for three-quarters of an hour, until it seemed as if half a dozen congregations must have exhausted themselves, it was found that the worshippers of neighboring churches were filing in, and it became necessary to close the church doors.
The story of "Old Abe," the Wisconsin war eagle, has been frequently told. The eagle was taken from his nest by an Indian in upper Wisconsin in the summer of 1861. Having been sold by his captor, he was finally presented to Company C, Eighth Wisconsin. A standard was made for him, and. he was carried beside the regimental flag. For three years he was in all the marches of the regiment, taking part in twenty-two battles and thirty skirmishes, and was wounded in three of them.
When the regiment was engaged in battle, "Old Abe" manifested delight. At such a time, he would always be found in his proper place, at the head of Company C. When enveloped in the smoke of battle, he spread his pinions, jumped up and down on his perch, uttering such wild and fearful screams as only an eagle can. The fiercer and louder the storm of battle, the fiercer and louder his screams. He seemed always to understand army movements, such as dress parade, and preparation for the march. Before he had been a year in the service, he would give heed directly to "Attention! Battalion!" With his head obliquely to the front, his right eye turned upon the commander, he would listen and obey orders, noting time carefully. After parade had been dismissed, and the ranks were being closed by the sergeant, he would lay aside his soldierly manner, flap his wings, loll about, and make himself at home generally.
When there was an order to form for battle, he and the colors were the first upon the line. His actions upon those occasions were uneasy. He would turn his head anxiously from right to left, looking to see when the line was completed. As soon as the regiment got ready, faced, and began to march, he would assume a steady and quiet demeanor. He could always be seen a little above the heads of the soldiers, close by the flag.. That position of honor was never disallowed him.
|"Old Abe" War Eagle of the 8th Wis. Reg't||1. Ninth Iowa Reg't||2. Second Kansas Battery|
|3. Second Wis. Reg't||4. Seventh Mo. Reg't||5. Second Kansas Reg't||6. First Ohio Battery|
At the battle of Farmington, May 9, 1862, the men were ordered to lie down on the ground. The instant they did so, "Old Abe" flew from his perch. He insisted on being protected as well as they, and flattened himself on the ground, remaining there until the men rose, when, with outspread wings, he flew back to his place of peril, and held it until the close of the contest. At the battle of Corinth the rebel general Price discovered him, and ordered his men to take him if they could not kill him, adding that "he would rather capture that bird than the whole brigade." The bird was never so excited as during that battle. Flying from his perch to the length of his chain, flapping his wings, with wide-open mouth, his screams could be heard in every lull of the battle.
Mr. Sewell, a Chicago publisher, devised a very original mode of raising money for the sanitary fair, in connection with this war eagle. Pictures of the bird were struck off, and offered for sale. A child that sold one of these pictures for ten cents was to be considered a private in the "Army of the American Eagle." One who sold a dollar's worth was to be commissioned as corporal. Five dollars made one first lieutenant; ten dollars conferred the rank of captain; fifty dollars made a lieutenant-colonel; a hundred dollars a colonel; two hundred dollars brigadier-general; four hundred dollars made a child major-general. The plan took with the children, who were charmed with the ingenious device. All over the country the little folks sold pictures of "Old Abe "---from Maine to Oregon, from upper Minnesota and Lake Superior to points far south which the soldiers had wrested from the enemy.
More than twelve thousand letters were received from boys and girls, which were carefully filed in alphabetical order. The net profits of the children's "Army of the American Eagle" footed up sixteen thousand three hundred and eight dollars and ninety-three cents. It was all paid over to the treasury, and cost the fair not one cent for expense. It was more than was paid in by any other department; and all was obtained from the efforts of children. Gold, silver, and bronze medals were presented to the children by Mr. Sewell, through General Sherman, in the fair building, one day near its close, with all the pomp of speeches, music, hurrahs, and waving of handkerchiefs and flags.
At the close of the war "Old Abe" became the pensioner of the state, and a room was appointed him in the State House, at Madison, Wis. An appropriation was made for his care, and for the salary of his attendant, who took great pride in the warlike bird, between whom and himself there sprang up an affection that lasted during "Old Abe's" life. In charge of this attendant, the eagle visited soldiers' re-unions, became an object of interest and profit at Grand Army fairs, was borne in procession at the dedication of soldiers' monuments, and figured at the consecration of memorial halls. One of these occasions brought him to Boston, where he excited unusual interest. He held immense receptions in the "Old South Meeting-house," where children, as well as adults, paid him court, all eager to see the imperial bird, which had been through the fire of scores of battles, sharing their excitement and danger with the men. So great was the interest his visit awakened, that Mrs. Hemmenway, the eminent woman philanthropist of the city, who has assisted in the preservation of the "Old South" as a historic museum, commissioned an artist to paint "Old Abe's" portrait, which hangs on the walls, with other pictures of historic worth.
SOLDIERS' LETTERS FROM THE FRONT DURING THE FIRST YEAR OF THE WAR---VIVID PICTURES OF LIFE IN CAMP---DESOLATION---AMUSEMENTS---MARCHING---FORAGING---PICKET DUTY-LETTERS FROM HOME.
Authors of the Letters---Life in Camp-Exploits of the First Iowa---"A bully Boy"--Hardships of a Chaplain---Fight at Conrad's Ferry---The Desolation of War---Impatient to be led into Action---" Little Mack"---President's Reception---The Picture of Weariness and Despair---Amusements---Morals---Without the Comforts of Civilization---Secession Literature---Hutchinsons sing in Camp---Soldiers wild with Delight---Dying from Camp Diseases---The poor Horses---Depression of the Men---Picturesque Scenes---Breaking up Camp, and starting off---Going into Camp for the Night---Foraging---Difficulty of Moving a large Army---Longing for Letters from Home--Their blessed Influence---" The musty Crackers and rusty Bacon are better"---Fatigues of Picket Duty---In Pursuit of Something to eat---" Somebody had been frying Chickens "---Battle of Pea Ridge---As good as Dead the last half of the Battle.
URING the war I maintained an extensive correspondence with soldiers in the field and hospital, and with officers, chaplains, and nurses. They were mostly personal acquaintances---men from my own neighborhood church and Sunday-school associates; sometimes intimate friends and relatives. In every instance they were men of a high order, well educated, of a lofty moral character, and who entered the service from devotion to the, imperilled country. They gave up lucrative positions, withdrew from their studies in colleges or professional schools, and all left homes of refinement where they were beloved and trusted, and where their absence created a sadness, which in some instances was deepened by their death.
I have selected from these epistles some of the most interesting, for the conclusion of this volume. They present phases of life during the war that can be reached in no other way. They give the reader a glimpse of the nobleness of the American soldier, who, trained to the arts of peace, entered into "the hideous business called war" at the behest of duty, but gladly renounced it for the life of the civilian when the bells rang in the joyful tidings of "peace." I doubt if a collection of letters as intelligent and interesting could be gathered from the correspondence of the soldiery of any other nation in the world! I doubt if the general wholesomeness of inner army life, of which one gets hints in these epistles, could be excelled by that f any army ever mustered for battle! I doubt if the American soldiers, the subordinates and privates, were not almost phenomenal in their versatility, patriotism, intelligence, and heroic patience! My interest in them was absorbing during the war; my admiration of and pride in them is limitless since the war ended.
And I never meet the poorest and most desolate of the rank and file in the hospitals and Soldiers' Homes in which the country is sheltering them, that I do not realize anew that the nation owes the soldiers of the last war a debt which it never can pay---a gratitude which it should be proud to manifest.
If the soldiers of the Revolutionary War defended the right of the infant republic to life, and beat back the monarchists that would have strangled it in its cradle, the soldiers of the last war saved it from assassination at the hands of its own children, and cut out by their swords the cancerous evil which was poisoning its whole system and eating away its life. All honor, then, to these last saviors of the republic!
ROLLA, Mo., Nov. 23, 1861.
You remember our regiment left Aurora, Ill., on the 24th of September. We have buried two men since we left, although we have had very little sickness. Our commander is General Greusel, an old schoolmate of General Sigel, an officer whom the regiment almost idolizes. Where he leads, the Thirty-sixth Illinois will follow.
We were paid yesterday, and are now well provided with clothes, having two suits throughout, an overcoat, a good oil-cloth blanket, and the best of tents. For all these comforts we are indebted to the untiring energy and perseverance of our officers. We are making quite a reputation as foragers. On the 1st of November, the colonel, with two companies of infantry and two of cavalry, scoured the country for fifty miles round, bringing in a large amount of stock-horses, mules, cattle, sheep, and wagons. Among the prisoners are a rebel colonel and captain. They also captured a drum and flag. The drum is a queer thing. It consists of a hollow log about three feet long, the ends covered with sheepskin. The flag is a piece of white cloth, on which is painted a map of the seceded states. It is a wonderful specimen of Southern ingenuity.
The First Iowa regiment has joined us. It performed various feats, while coming through Missouri, which profoundly disgusted the secessionists. At Reniek the men captured a rebel flag, and ran up the stars and stripes on the same pole. A painter in one of the companies climbed up to the hotel sign in the night, and transformed it from "Yancy House" to "Union House." At Macon they took possession of the office of the Register, a hot secession sheet. There are no less than forty printers in the regiment; and before they left the office they had set up, printed, and issued, in its place, a spicy loyal little journal, called "Our Whole Union." When they arrived at Booneville, they entered the office of the Patriot, took the place of the editors and compositors, whose secession sentiments had rendered them very unpopular at Booneville, and promptly issued a loyal paper in its stead.
Our chaplain is a capital fellow. The boys call him "a bully boy," which, you know, is their highest praise. On a wearisome march that we made last week, he constantly rode along the line, encouraging the boys with his hearty, cheering laugh. You can have no idea how the men pick up strength after the chaplain speaks to them. He gives us capital sermons, and is very popular, because his discourses never exceed fifteen minutes in length; and as to prayers, there is but one to a service, and that is brief. He is as good a friend to Tom and Dick and Harry, even when he catches them swearing, as he is to an epauletted officer.
We have regular services every Sabbath. The colonel is very strict about our attending Sabbath service; and all must be there who are not on the sick list, or they must go to the guard-house. Religion is compulsory in this regiment. He is very thoughtful about the morals of the men, and so is the chaplain, neither of whom is a man of the preaching sort. But, nevertheless, there will be profanity and other vices. We are expecting a forward movement very soon. For several nights the guards have been doubled, and the men have slept on their arms, ready to start at a moment's warning. At any moment of the day or night our regiment may receive marching orders to start in an hour. We shall be only too glad to go.
ALEXANDRIA, VA., Nov. 30, 1861.
You seem to think that a chaplain's life must be an easy one. I grant you it may be if a chaplain shirks his duty. But if he is ready to share the perils of the soldier, a chaplain will find his life full of hardships and exposure. I acknowledge my letters are "light and trifling," as you characterize them; but have you not heard of the boy who whistled to keep up his courage? Let me give you a few facts concerning my life.
I have slept in the open air, with scarcely any covering, so chilled in the morning as to rise with great difficulty. I have slept in a government wagon, with hungry mules foraging around, and snatching the hay which formed my bed. I have slept with crickets, bugs, spiders, centipedes, and snakes crawling about my couch as thick as princes in Germany. For one week I had no food but salt pork, which I detest, and bread which water could not soften.
Since I have been in camp, I have not been comfortable the whole of one night, because of cold. I have no abiding-place, nor has the rest of the army. I must be ready to march, rain or shine. Very different this from my life at Hudson, N. Y., where I had my books, my study, and home.
Tell H-----[a country clergyman] that he need not come here to see if he likes it, for he can make a few experiments at home. Let him sleep on the floor of the attic a few nights without a pillow or comforter, or in the garden, wrapped in a pair of horse blankets. Let him get a pound or two of the rustiest pork he can buy and some mouldy crackers, and feed on them for a week. Or let him treat himself to a couple of salt herrings, and drink his black coffee without milk or sugar. These will be good preparatory steps before his enlistment. After he has enlisted, tell him he must make up his mind to be a man among men, cheerful, brave, blameless. He must point out the road, and he must also lead the way. Like Cromwell, he must trust in God, and keep his powder dry.
Dec. 3.---We have just had a battle, that took place at Conrad's Ferry, which resulted disastrously to our troops. A narrow river separated my men, with myself, from the battle-field; and, as we had no means of crossing the deep, swift stream, we could render our companions no assistance. I remained with my comrades during the night, assisting the wounded, and rendering all possible aid to the fugitives. At the conclusion of the fight, our brave fellows were ordered to save themselves as they best could. Many plunged into the water, and swam to an island in the river, and were afterwards conveyed to the Maryland shore. Many of them were nearly naked. All were cold and shivering. I assisted them to the extent of my ability; and not only encouraged the men, but literally drove them to walk to camp without delay. I feared otherwise they would freeze to death.
About midnight the fugitives ceased to arrive, and I sought for rest in a shock of corn beyond the canal. I had scarcely fallen asleep when I was aroused by heavy firing of musketry on the Virginia side of the river. I hastened to the shore, and learned that about four hundred of our soldiers had hidden themselves in the early part of the evening, and had just been discovered. They were slaughtered like sheep. Those that could swim, rushed to the river. Many were drowned. The remainder were butchered on the spot, or made prisoners.
I shall never forget what I saw and heard that night on the banks of the Potomac. It was one of the most dreadful nights of my life. I have passed many that were sorrowful. I have watched and waited calmly for death amid the chilling blasts of the North and the fearful tornadoes of the torrid zone. I have kept vigil by the bedside of those dear to me as drops of my heart's blood, and have felt that the light had gone out of my life, when the sunrise saw me sitting by my dead. But I have never endured so much of agony and of horror as during that night, when I saw men butchered by the hundreds in cold blood, simply because they wore a different uniform from their murderers.
FORTRESS MONROE, VA., Dec., 23, 1861.
I take it for granted that you, and all my other friends at home, are desirous to hear from me; so I write as frequently as possible, and am only too thankful if my hastily scrawled epistles keep me in affectionate remembrance, and evoke a reply. The Twentieth Indiana is stationed at Fortress Monroe, perfecting itself in drill, and impatient to be led into action. The prospect of going into winter quarters is very distasteful to us. "We didn't come here to drill and camp, and become veteran soldiers," say the boys. "We came here to fight for our country, and why are we not led into action?" There is a good deal of grumbling over this "masterly inactivity," and the boys are singing much less of the doggerel in praise of McClellan than we heard some few weeks ago.
For little Mack,
He took the track,
And swore to beat the rebels back!
Hurrah! for little Mack!"
This has rung through the regiment day after day, until I have almost wished "little Mack" had never been born. We feel the cold weather, and do not perceive much difference between the climate of Virginia and Indiana. The boys have invented all sorts of contrivances for warming their tents, some of which would make you smile. Some answer their purpose, and some are a plague to the inventors. There is one excellent quality in the army. Whatever may be the discomforts of the men, or their hardships, they do not complain, but pass it over with fun and jokes. With a good deal of unemployed time on their hands, and with little to read, and nothing in the way of diversion, they take to fun in a wholesale way. This is better than grumbling or desponding, but we all feel it would be better if we could have full and absorbing employment; such, for instance, as driving the "secesh" down into the Gulf, whose drums we hear within two or three miles of us.
The desolation of war can only be understood by those who behold the country around us despoiled of its grand forests, centuries old. The earth is cast up into fortifications, and trodden into dust by the continuous tramp of three hundred thousand men. The burned village of Hampton, just before us, looks desolate enough. I was over there a few days ago, and brought away as mementoes a fragment of a tombstone bearing date 1701, and recording the death of a man one hundred and twenty-eight years old, and a lump of the melted bell of Hampton church, which was wantonly burned by the rebels. It was more than two centuries old, and was brought to this country from England.
I was sent to Washington with despatches a few days ago; and as I had to stay the night that I might take back answers, I began to look about for diversion. I learned that the President held a levee that evening, and with five other officers I decided to attend it. So, brushing up hats, coats and hair, we started for the White House. No white kids graced our hands, but we thought we had as good a right to see the great "rail-splitter" as anybody. We worked our way to the reception room, through billows of silks and satins, through clouds of lace and feathers, amid spangles and jewelry, epaulets and swords, brass buttons and spurs. The scene was very brilliant, and so was Mrs. Lincoln, the wife of the President. She was all smiles, and decked out in the most fantastic style. But my heart ached for the poor President. He looked the very picture of weariness and despair. While standing listening to the "Hutchinson family," singing patriotic songs, he twice closed his eyes, and partially went to sleep with all that effervescing crowd of office-hunters, contract-seekers, and pleasure-lovers about him. If President Lincoln does not live out his term of office, I, for one, shall not be surprised. I sincerely pity him.
As to any news, you have it and we are wholly in the dark; so I shall not undertake to tell you anything. They are making sixteen thousand minieballs at the Washington Navy Yard, every ten hours. That looks as if this inactivity of the army would end before long. I was very glad to receive your papers and books. They have been read all in pieces. Any donations of that kind will never come amiss.
ROLLA, MO., Jan. 3, 1862.
The holidays are over, and the soldiers are again going through the regular routine of camp life. About three thousand cavalry have gone in search of the much-desired General Price, and I hope they will not return Price-less. To-day our mules and wagons have arrived, and the boys have been having sport breaking the wild mules. The whole ground is covered with a sheet of ice and sleet.
Our amusements are various. Ball-playing, pitching quoits, playing dominos and euchre, washing, ironing, cooking, sweeping the street, and last, but not least, writing letters. The fact that a man belongs to the army, entitles him; we think, to write to any one, so that we are constantly soliciting correspondence, nor do we fail very largely of our object.
I wish I could give you a description of the country and of the people here. For miles around the country is dotted with the campfires of the poor refugees, driven from their homes by the disloyal bushwhackers. It is a pitiable sight to see these people, destitute of nearly every comfort of civilization. Hardly one of them has a stove, or other shelter from the driving storm except a small tent. The children are barefooted, and their pinched faces plainly indicate their suffering and starving condition. On an average, I do not find one in fifteen, among either adults or children, who can read or write.---It is a timber country where we are encamped. The wood is so crooked and knotty that, when cut and burned, it will not make straight ashes. The hogs are so thin that they are not discernible to the vision except when viewed by the left flank (side in front) ; and the most of the people in this vicinity have never seen either church or school-house.
The morals of the soldiers are much better than could be expected. Only one man has been intoxicated in our company, which is really remarkable considering the enticement to drunkenness. In the Fourth Iowa camp, near us, there is a regularly established Good Templars' Lodge, that holds weekly meetings. I hope to attend one of them next week, and will write you if there is anything interesting to tell. Profanity is very common. It is really a surprise to me, accustomed to it, to hear how easily and with what originality the men swear. Our chaplain does all in his power, with his mighty persuasion, his never-failing good humor, and his abounding kindliness, to suppress this and every other vice.
Barracks are certainly injurious to the soldiers. The Iowa Fourth have substantial log barracks; and ever since they left their tents and went into them, they have had sickness, one man dying a day on an average. In December they buried thirty men. I attribute much of their sickness to the fact that their camp-ground is in a former burying-ground. This certainly must have something to do with it. Would you like to see one of the recruiting bills of Price's army? Here is a copy of one:---
In 1th, 6, 7, & 9 Military Districts immediately now is the time to come and join General Price on his march Northeast to drive the abolition hordes from our land your brethren are at work and call for help
By order of MAJ GENERAL PRICE
Then rally men rally men, around the flag unferld
This is a verbatim et literatim et spellatim copy of a bill stuck up in the land of" secesh." As it is late and I am sleepy, I bid you good night.
FAIRFAX COURT-HOUSE, VA., Jan. 18, 1862.
We have been highly favored lately with concerts given by the "Hutchinson Family." The last one was given in the chapel of Fairfax Seminary. This was occupied before the war by the Episcopal Theological Institute. The buildings are very substantial and beautiful, and of brick, all of which were left with their furniture. The college is used for a hospital. The boarding-houses, and the dwellings of the principals and professors are occupied by the chaplain and surgeon of our regiment,---the First New Jersey,---and by other officers. We have the use of the chapel for meetings, lectures, and concerts. Colonel Farnsworth's Illinois Cavalry is encamped within two miles of us, and the men came up en masse to attend the concert. It was very interesting to see with what zest the soldiers crowded around and within the chapel, and how wild they were with delight when some song was sung which met their approbation. There were probably from twenty-five hundred to three thousand jammed into or packed around the chapel. When the Hutchinsons sang "Rock me to sleep, mother," "Do they miss me at home," and other songs which called up recollections of happy days, and of parents and friends, the poor fellows wept, and seemed not to care who saw them.
We are exceedingly tired of the monotonous life we are leading, and of this do-nothing policy. We are willing to go into the jaws of death rather than remain where we are. A scouting party of some two or three hundred cavalry, made up in part of Colonel Farnsworth's and in part from another Illinois regiment near by, commanded just now by Major Beverage, has just started off in high glee. There had been a strife all the morning, often rising into angry and bitter words, among the men, as to who should have the privilege of going off on this dangerous trip. I had hoped to go, for I am as tired as any one of this lazy life. But the lot did not fall on me. We are dying faster from the sicknesses of camp than from the casualties of war. Nearly all the men have bad colds, so that sometimes during a concert the coughing fairly drowns the music. Why should the men not take cold? Many of them lie on the damp ground, with only a blanket under them. Over one hundred and thirty are in the hospital from Colonel Farnsworth's regiment alone. They have buried several men lately; and where the rebels kill one, disease slays ten.
The poor horses look sorry enough, I tell you. They are tied to long poles placed in crotches set in the ground, and extended ten to fifteen rods. On each side are tied the animals. They have no floor or shelter, and are in soft mud six to eight inches deep. An order has just been issued that if any of us poor fellows, standing guard in the wind or storm, wet or cold, tramping through mud and water, drop asleep through fatigue or exhaustion, we are to be shot. Per contra, let a notorious traitor be taken, who has killed and destroyed everything within his reach, and who would murder every loyal man in the Union if he could, and all he has to do is to take the oath, and he is let off. Will you tell me where is the justice of this?
T. G. A.
LEBANON, Mo., Jan. 26, 1862.
Since my last, we have met with some changes. We broke camp at Rolla, and marched three days to this location. On the way, we passed a storehouse, in which two thousand barrels of pork and other supplies were stored, intended for Price's army. As we do not intend that he shall visit this locality again, it was loaded on our wagons, and sent ahead, for safe keeping.
At the end of three days we ran short of provisions, and began to be hungry for the despised hardtack which we threw away at Rolla. General Osterhaus, our acting general, did all in his power to protect the hogs and cattle in the way of the moving column. But the boys made a. good use of powder and ball, and in some measure supplied our lack of rations. In wonder and amazement I cry, for what purpose was this desolate, unbounded Missouri wilderness created? After travelling four days, we have seen but four houses; and during our sojourn of four months in Missouri we have seen neither church nor school-house. There is a lack of everything here. Yesterday, Sunday, Captain Joslyn sent eight privates and myself in search of meat. We hunted faithfully all day, and at night had found but twelve hogs for a company of eighty men. We shall remember this Sunday for a long time.
Jan. 28.---We broke up camp before daybreak on the 22nd, and were on the road long before sunrise. It is a picturesque scene, this breaking up camp and starting off, and worth an artist's trouble to sketch. At the roll of the drum, we take down our tents, and load them on the wagons. At the second roll we fall into the ranks; then we are ready to march. The smouldering campfires, the hurrying to and fro of the men, the loud word of command, the howl of the teamsters as they get the mules into line, the roll of the drum, and the general bustle and stir, combine to make the occasion lively and interesting.
That afternoon, at one o'clock, we went into camp. We had marched twelve miles. The moment we halt for the night, we stack arms, unsung knapsacks, and break ranks. Then the boys scatter in every direction to get wood, straw, leaves, water, and anything else they can find, with which to make themselves comfortable through the night. By the time we get things ready, our teams have arrived, and we take our tents, pitch them, and make coffee the first thing. This and hard crackers have constituted our supper lately. Still we will not grumble or whine. The next day we marched to Lebanon, where we are now in camp.
We were told this morning that we should be short of meat for the next nine days. Accordingly, two of the boys, with myself, got permission to go foraging. We were not allowed to take our muskets out of camp, and so we took revolvers. After travelling a mile, we overtook a fine large hog. We fired at him---piggy ran. We fired again---he ran again; and so it continued, until we had put twelve balls into this four-footed object of our desire. We skinned the animal, and carried it back in triumph into camp.
We found another treasure. We passed an old storehouse half full of tobacco. You should have seen the way the boys pounced on it. They have been for some days in much need of this filthy weed; and the way they seized it would have done honor to a "half-famished Numidian lion" seizing sheep. The only place we have passed untouched, and from which we have not levied contributions on our march, has been a graveyard. The boys did not even take a slab from that. Postage stamps are eight and a third cents apiece, or three for two bits. I wish you could enclose a few when writing me; for the paymaster visits us but rarely. To-night I go on picket duty, and will not protract my letter.
HEADQUARTERS, FORTRESS MONROE, VA., Feb. 3, 1862.
Quietness reigns supreme here at present, and I doubt if I shall be able to write you even one interesting page. The weather for some days past has been rainy, and in consequence we have had no drills. We are so near "Dixie" that snow seldom reaches us, and never in quantities to be anything but a vexation. Even our enemies seem to have left us to amuse ourselves as best we can. Picket, or grand guard duty is the only diversion from lazing in camp these dull, rainy days, and, as the rebels have deserted us, even that is getting uninteresting. Tame as it is getting to be, it must be attended to, as the safety of the entire army depends upon the grand guard.
The people at home have very imperfect ideas of the difficulty of moving a large army. Almost every paper that we receive from the North criticises our generals for not exhibiting more energy in surmounting the obstacles that retard the movement of large bodies of infantry and artillery, with their army wagons, ambulances, cattle herds, and materials for the building of roads and bridges. They do not understand that an army train, upon the most limited allowance compatible with freedom of operations, for a few days, away from its depots, is an immense affair. Under the existing allowances in the Army of the Potomac, says Lieutenant-Colonel Tolles, a corps of thirty thousand infantry has about seven hundred wagons, drawn by four thousand two hundred mules. The horses of officers and of the artillery will bring the number of animals to be provided for up to about seven thousand.
On the march, it is calculated that each wagon will occupy about eighty feet, in bad roads much more. Consequently, a train of seven hundred wagons will cover fifty-six thousand feet of road, or over ten miles. The ambulances of a corps will occupy about a mile, and the batteries about three miles. Thirty thousand troops need six miles to march in, if they form but one column. The total length of the marching column of a corps of thirty thousand men is, therefore, twenty miles, even without including cattle herds and trains of bridge material."
In addition to Colonel Tolles' statement, try to imagine the villanous roads and soil of this country, its unbridged streams, its forests, and its lack of railroads. Then remember that in a forward movement not one army corps of thirty thousand men is moved, but four, six, eight, or ten, according to the magnitude of the proposed operations, and tell me if the grumblers of the papers ought not to have an occasional spasm of sense and silence.
We do not get letters enough. Do the folks at home write and do the letters miscarry? or do they forget us? You can have no idea what a blessing letters from home are to the men in amp. They make us better men, better soldiers. We get the blues sometimes, and feel like going to the dogs. We are sometimes worn out with duty, wet, and muddy. The coffee is bad, the crackers worse, the bacon worst of all; and we are as hungry as wolves. Just then the mail boy brings in a letter a good long one from you, or from mother, or from some of the dear girls on the West Side. Immediately all the weariness is gone; the fire has quit smoking; the musty, fusty, rusty crackers and bacon are better; and I am just the happiest fellow in all the world.
One of our men was drunk, and fought and swore so shockingly, day before yesterday, that we had to send him to the guard-house. To-night he is taking a good repenting cry between the blankets. Do you know why? He got a letter this afternoon from his mother, and I have no doubt that she spoke of the Sabbath-school, the church, and the prayer he used to say when a little fellow at home, when his mother tucked him in bed. He instantly made for the blankets; and though he thinks none of us know it, we all know the poor fellow is there sobbing his heart out. Do write; long letters; full letters; tell us everything; we want to know particulars.
Yours as ever,
LEBANON, Mo., Feb. 4, 1862.
My last was broken off rather abruptly because I was detailed to go on picket duty. There is a double row of pickets all the way round this camp, so you can judge of the duty we are required to perform. The inner camp is about twelve miles round. Our squad went out about three miles and camped. We were well provided with cartridges, etc., but had but two hard crackers for twenty-four hours. I was put on the first relief, and as soon as relieved I went with two other men in pursuit of something to eat. Of course we were not allowed to fire a gun, nor could we run down a Missouri hog. We were not foolhardy enough to attempt this, either. I would as soon think of running down a wild horse. I presume you have had little experience with the four-footed sort of animals; you only know the bipeds, and so cannot understand my description of these four-footed Missourians. Why, the sun almost shines through one of them, they are so fearfully thin, and all the boys declare that it takes three of them alongside to make a shadow.
But when the sun went down, three or four suspicious-looking personages might have been seen loitering near the hen-roost of a neighboring plantation. I sha'n't tell you what they did; but whatever the preliminaries were, they were speedily arranged, and before morning the savory smell plainly indicated that somebody had been frying chickens. We were not careful enough, and the feathers betrayed us when the colonel was making the grand round.
I have been again detailed to go out on picket with my company. Our beat extended a mile and a half across a cold and desolate prairie, and cold rain began to fall as soon as we went on guard---characteristic of my luck. It continued to rain and freeze until three o'clock in the morning, and then snowed until we were relieved, at one o'clock next day. We had hardly got back to camp, encased in ice, when the sun burst out in all its splendor. I confess we were a little downhearted when we found only hard crackers. This country is as desolate as Sahara.
PEA RIDGE, ARK., March, 1862.
I am sitting on the battle-ground, and write you a few lines to tell you that a victory has been won besides that at Fort Donelson. Many of our brave boys lie around me, sleeping with the dead. I will not undertake to give you an account of the battle. I could not do it intelligently, and you will have the details before this reaches you. But I have had fighting enough for once. I only wonder that I am alive, for again and again I was covered with earth thrown up by plunging shot. While I lay on the ground at one time, six horses attached to the cannon at our right were killed, and one man in Company , on my left, was struck in the head with a cannon-ball and killed instantly. I was so sure that I should lose my life, that I really felt no concern about it. I considered myself as good as dead the last half of the battle. Nevertheless, I am still alive and kicking. Our men were very cool and unexcited during the whole battle. Price's army is scattered now in every direction. Many have gone home, and the rest are driven all over the country. The Iowa Fourth and Ninth were terribly cut to pieces. Our regiment, the Thirty-sixth Illinois, lost a few men, and some were wounded. The rebel general Ben McCullough was killed. Generals Mackintosh and Price were wounded. I have not heard from you for weeks. Are you too busy to write?