But good times always come to an end in the army, and a day or two after, we started to join the regiment through snow and mud and rain, wading creeks, wet to the skin all day, trying to dry ourselves at night. We thought it pretty hard, after having a good warm room to stay in and light duty to perform, but we stood it and in four days reached the regiment at Greenville where we stayed the rest of the winter. In the spring we went to Black River where we were joined by the rest of the brigade under General Carlin. General Fred Steele also arrived and took command of the entire force. When my regiment went to Black River, we camped on the north side of the river. When the other regiment came up, they laid a pontoon and crossed over and camped on the other side.
The 1st Indiana Cavalry and our regiment were great friends and had been together on many a hard march and together had scouted that whole country. They had remained at Greenville. When we heard they were coming, we went to work and cleared off a camp for them just across the road from us. It was dark when they arrived, and the regiment was in line to receive them with pine knot torches to light the way.
They marched past till they reached the head of the regiment when they wheeled into line facing us, when we gave them three cheers which they returned with interest when their battery fired a salute and some of the boys fired their guns and the Cavalry their carbines. The troops across the river thought we were attacked and stood to arms nearly all night. They never came over to help us though.
We went from there to Doniphan, Missouri. While there some of our officers had the pleasure of restoring Colonel Lowe's sword and watch to his widow. Colonel Lowe was a Rebel officer killed at Fredericktown. While laying at this place, the Rebels came one night and fired into our camp from across the river. My company was ordered down to the edge of the water and fired at the flash of their guns for that was all we could see. One of our boys, he had been a clerk in the commissary, said his gun would not fire. The next morning when he drew the loads there were three of them. He found he had put the cartridge in ball first and powder on top. The boys said Bill was trying to commit suicide. He did not hear the last of that.
Soon we left there and started through Arkansas. It was like all others, hard marches, only worse. We had to wade cypress swamp and drag horses, guns, caissons, mules and wagons through the mud, but you never knew bad roads to stop soldiers. If 25 men could not drag a gun, 50 could, or if 50 couldn't, 100 would. They had to go through. Thus we went until we reached Jacksonport on White River. We were there but a few days when the 21st and 38th Illinois were ordered back to Cape Girardeau over the route we had come, taking the train with us as far as Greenville. It was 230 miles, and taking one day to ferry Black River and laying by one day at Greenville, we made the march in ten days, which I think was pretty good marching.
We took the boat at the cape and went to Ham(?)- Landing on the Tennessee River soon after the Battle of Shiloh, were at the investment of Corinth, took part in the seige after the evacuation. We marched some, drilled a good deal, changed camp every week or so until we were ordered to join Buel on his march back to Louisville. We made a forced march to Nashville, when we joined Buel's retreating army and started for Louisville, marching day and night, sometimes with half the men asleep still marching.
Why that march was ever made I have never been able to find out. We would march day and night till it seemed the men could go no further, then go into camp, stay a day or two, when it would be the same thing over again. The boys said we stopped to let Bragg catch up. We beat him into Louisville though, which we found in a state of excitement. Nearly all the able-bodied men enrolled in the home guard. We were a ragged, dirty looking set, but they seemed glad to see us all the same, and they could not do too much for us and appeared to have more confidence in us than in the new regiments which had been ordered there. We did not get to stay very long. I wrote a letter home and my father and some of the old men came to see their boys, but we left the day before they got there and they did not get to see us. While there, General Jeff C. Davis, who commanded our division, shot and killed General Nelson.
We left without getting any clothing, but they put some new regiments in our brigade. They had their knapsacks full and in a few days we were as well-dressed as they were and without drawing on the quartermaster. It was a wonder to the boys of the new regiments how we got them.
We had a man in our regiment who was a living skeleton. The boys called him Friday. His face was as sharp as a hatchet, and he was as contrary as he was thin; but he was like a greyhound. He never got tired. He could march longer and carry a bigger load than any man in the division. His marching load was from 100 to 150 pounds. The boys, none of them liked him, but we didn't know how to get rid of him. The captain said he would split ammo balls and he never would get killed. At Bardstown, Kentucky, an orderly came with orders to send the sick and those unable to march back to Louisville. The captain says, "By God, now is the chance to get rid of Friday." He sent for him and told him to be ready to go back with the ambulance train. Friday begged and swore he could march further than the captain any day, said he was not sick and finally refused to go. The captain said he was sick and swore he had been dead for six months but was too contrary to stop breathing. The ambulance came up. Captain told him to get in. He wouldn't do it, and the captain took him by the shoulders and shoved him along and pushed him in, and the orderly sergeant threw in his traps and that was the last we seen of Friday.
A few days after leaving Bardstown, we encountered the enemy near Perryville, Kentucky. Water was scarce and the Rebels had possession of the creek and would not even let us go there for a drink. General McCook was sent forward to open a passway to the creek, but the Rebels objected so strongly that it caused quite a racket in that vicinity.
While the fight was going on, many citizens carried water to the men who were fighting and, taking their canteens, would go and fill them and take them to them, and the women there opened their houses for hospitals and brought linen sheets, blankets, pillows and everything they had for the use of the wounded. During the fight we lay on a ridge in the rear of the battlefield where we could see all that was going on in front, but the history of the Battle of Perryville is too well-known for me to attempt a description of it. McCook was hard-pressed all day, constantly begging for reenforcements and getting none; although the whole army was in supporting distance. Along towards evening the enemy sent a force to turn McCook right. This seemed to be our chance to go in, which we did with a will, driving them from the field, charging the celebrated Washington Battery, driving them two miles and through Perryville where our boys fought the Rebels at the wells for water. One of them that we called Herman, charging on a squad and captured a load of canteens already filled and bringing them in triumph to the company.
When we came to look around we found we had no support, orders having been sent while we were charging, to fall back, which we did not get. The second line fell back, leaving my regiment and the 15th Wisconsin a mile or more from any support. The Rebels concentrated the fire of three or four batteries on us, which made it pretty hot, but we found a convenient ditch which we crawled into, where we lay until after dark, when we made our way back, capturing an ordinance train on the way which had to lost in the darkness. We finally halted, stocked arms, and some of the boys started to find water. They found a spring with some men getting water. When asked what regiment they belonged to, they answered, "14th Alabama, What regiment do you belong to?" "21st Kentucky", said the boys.
Very soon after, we started and went some distance and stayed till daylight, when we joined our division. The Rebels left during the night, leaving their dead and wounded in our hands. The next day I was detailed at the Rebel hospital and saw legs and arms amputated by the wagon load and piled up like cord wood. They kept bringing in the wounded and carrying out the dead all day and night, through a drenching rain. The next morning there were nearly 500 dead men laying in the yard around the house. Among them was one poor fellow who we could see still breathed but was insensible. There being no room in the house, they had laid him out there by the side of the walk. Toward evening we made a fire in a shed and tried to cook something as we had had nothing to eat. When this man got up and came to where we were, saying, "My God, men, would you let me die out in the rain?" and fell. Some of the boys caught him and laid him down and got some dry clothing and blankets and fixed him as comfortable as we could, but he never spoke again and died soon after.
There was another man who had his under jaw and tongue shot off. He kept walking around until he got too weak to walk, when he lay down and slowly bled to death. All of those things made me sick of war. I thought I would give anything rather than see another such a sight.
We soon started in pursuit of the Rebels, who were destroying everything in their march. We followed them as far as crab orchard when we turned our course toward Nashville. It rained, and the roads got very bad and muddy; and at Rolling Fork there fell four or five inches of snow. We had turned over our tents when we left Missouri and had no shelter. The snow and slush were half knee-deep; and they would only let us have the top rail to make fires. But we roughed it through and finally got to Nashville.
Here happened one of those incidents of a soldier's life, which one always looked forward to with interest. The volunteer soldier is an ambitions fellow and looks forward to promotion as a reward for his services. There was to be a grand show up in our company. Our first duty sergeant had been elected 1st lieutenant. The orderly sergeant was appointed regiment commissary sergeant, making a new lieutenant, new orderly sergeant, two new duty sergeants, three new corporals. Lightning was going to strike and who would be hit. Of course it was the corporals. The rest would be by promotion. In the evening, the new orderly came around with the details. He came to the new sergeants, notified them that they were on guard that night, came to me, saying, "Broughton, you are corporal of the guard tonight." Great Caesar! I was struck without a moment's warning, jumped from high private to sixth corporal at one jump. I felt almost as important as old Ross at guard mounting. I was in my place. There was Howe with the captain's sword and sash. There was the new sergeants and the three new corporals. I took charge of the first relief. My bosom swelled with pride, straining the buttons on my blouse, as I gave my first command, "Guards right face, support arms, forward march," and proceeded to pass the guards. There were 16 of them. I got around all right and came back feeling prouder than a general who defeated the enemy and gained a great victory here.
I should like to draw a veil over the scene but truth compels me to go on. I hardly got around when "Corporal of the guard number eight" fell on my ears. For the next two hours I was on the run. Sixteen guns were leveled at me. Sixteen hammers clicked. Sixteen bayonets touched my breast. Sixteen guns I held for their owners. And all the time, "Corporal of the Guard" was sounding in my ears. Such is greatness. I went to my bed that night a sadder, if not a wiser, man. The next day, after I was relieved, I went to the captain and tendered my resignation. The captain asked if it was in writing. I told him no. He said he could receive it only in writing. I set down and wrote "Captain O. K. Knight Sir I hereby tender my resignation as Sixth Corporal Co. I 21st Regiment Illinois Vol." He then told me that it was out of his power to grant my request, that the only way was to prefer charges, have me reduced and have it read on dress parade before the whole regiment. Meanwhile, he would keep the resignation to show to the boys. That was worse than ever. I had jumped out of the frying pan into the fire sure enough.
A short time after, we were started out to catch John Morgan. The regiment divided into two battalions and took separate routes. We jumped him up and chased him two days, thinking when his horses gave out we would get him sure. We intended to cut him when we did get him, but he got in our rear and we found he was chasing us. We turned and chased him the other way, and when we had almost got him, he jumped into two new regiments who were guarding a crossing on the Cumberland River and scattered them in every direction. We heard the firing and went as fast as we could, but before we got there he destroyed their camp and skedaddled. We returned to Nashville in disgust.
When we got into camp I was appointed wood and water corporal and was at once a bigger man than the captain. I could pass out as many of the boys as I pleased while the captain couldn't even get out himself. I had my revenge by passing out half the boys at once and was in high favor with them.
Then commenced the worst winter we had in the service. It rained and snowed and we had no shelter and had to depend on big fires to keep us from freezing. The smoke from so many fires nearly put our eyes out so that it was a relief to go on picket. A few days before Christmas we drew clothing, blankets and dog tents, which we kept about a week and then turned over to the Rebels.
A few days after, we were ordered to move, and our division fought the Battle of Knob Gap. See in the National Tribune. Several communications claiming for this regiment and that one the honor of capturing the Battery at that place. Now any regiment didn't capture it, I know. They didn't stop chasing the Johnies long enough, leaving it for those in the rear to capture the guns, which is not very hard to do after the enemy are drove away from them. This, I know, for my regiment was in the front line when the charge was made, and I passed within ten feet of one of the guns. We followed the enemy to Stone River, where we opened the fight on the 29th of December by attacking their lines. Here, the regiment suffered the greatest loss that we sustained during the war. After driving back their skirmishers, we came to an open space when a battery opened on us at about two hundred yards' distance. There was a fence to cross and two lines of infantry supporting it, but we thought there was but one. The colonel pointed with his sword, saying, "Men, we must have those guns. Charge." We charged, but a line of infantry laying behind the fence poured a volley into our ranks. A line laying down on the side of the hill above them fired their volleys into us while two batteries poured forth grape and canister. In two, minutes half of our regiment were killed and wounded, and we had been compelled to fall back to the edge of the clearing where we held our position till the next morning.
Go to page 3 of the Journal
Go to Samuel Broughton's Discharge Papers from 1864 and 1865 and obituaries.
Many thanks to Kathy and Mel Jangard who submitted this information.
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