After the assault had spent its futile force and failure was seen to be inevitable it was called off. When our regiment was withdrawn I was not able to accompany it and remained where I was for quite awhile. After recuperating my strength somewhat I threw my life into the balance and took the chances of an escape. I believe providence was on my side for the other fellows tried their best to kill me. All humped up like an old turkey gobbler, I went out of that place at the best clip of which I was capable. I had only a few rods to go before reaching the friendly shelter of the timber. The reader may safely risk his last penny on the proposition that I was exceedingly glad of that temporary covering. But my experiences for the day were not yet complete.
I was struggling along looking for the regiment when off to my left I heard some one groaning at a dreadful rate. Although weak and exhausted myself, yet humanity says, we must see who it is and what is the matter. Going in the direction of the noise I soon came upon a member of our company. He was in a position generally understood when we say "all-fores", I asked if he was badly hurt. He replied by pointing to a bullet hole in his clothing near the heart. My sympathies were aroused at once and I naturally supposed him "a goner". I got under his arm the best I could, got him up and assisted him, half carrying, half dragging him to the guard line, beyond which the early morning orders promulgated said no man should go even though in charge of a wounded man, unless he had a badge on his arm, which insignia was to designate him as being a musician. It being their duty to look after the wounded. However, on reaching the guard line my comrade was complaining so loudly that I was not only permitted to pass through, I was ordered to do so. I proceeded with him to a nearby hospital. We soon met our Fife Major and he assisted me with a burden that to me was getting desperately heavy. Arriving at the hospital tent and instituting further inquiry and investigation it was found that this man was not wounded at all except in his clothing. His hide was not broken. He was informed in some rather pointed language, accompanied by some expletives that would not be appropriate in Sunday School, that a wound involving only the clothing was not likely to prove of any very momentous consequences. After this incident I rejoined my company and regiment.
In this engagement I received injuries that have haunted me ever since and which continually increasing with advancing age have seriously handicapped me in my efforts for success and a competency in this life.
Another incident of this battle and I shall leave it with the reader. Early in the engagement comrade W. T. Banes was killed, a musket ball striking him in the muscle of the right arm, penetrating the chest wall, making its exit from the left side just below the nipple. He had bled very freely and the blow flies had been very busy. Late in the evening I was detailed as one of a squad to bury him. James Smith, Jasper Darnell and, I think Governor Duckworth, were my associates. When we found the body it was the most horrible and repulsive sight I ever witnessed. It seemed to me that there must have been a half barrel of blow flies in and upon his person and clothing. We got them off the best we could and carried the body back to the place where we intended to inter it. This was near a road which the rebels had made and of which they had a fair view from their works. We began digging the grave amid the occasional bursting of shells sent our way by the enemy. This road was full of stragglers and camp-followers, cooks and orderlies, and looked very much like a column of troops marching. I guess that is what the rebels thought it was from the earnest attention they soon began to pay to it. I do not think I can every forget that evening while memory sits enthroned on my brow. We were proceeding with the grave digging and the shells from the enemy's batteries continued their play with steadily increasing frequency. One battery after another being added and made part of the gun play. Shells were already falling in close proximity to us. The solemnity of the occasion appeared to augment the sense of danger and I suggested to my comrades the propriety of seeking a place of temporary safety. At this time our acting quartermaster came along and hearing my suggestion got very brave. He said "Oh, its of no use to pay any attention to these, they are only stray shots." He had scarcely uttered these words when a shell struck the ground just behind him, tearing out a hole almost large enough to bury him. Before he could recover his equipoise another went directly over his head. I suppose he began to think that they were not as stray as he had been thinking for the next we knew he was going up the road at a two-forty gait. He had on a long linen duster and as he so gracefully retired one might have played a game of croquet on its tail. Just back of us was a log breastwork built by the rebels. We made a dash for it and tumbling over flattened ourselves out on the ground. It was almost night and we lay there while the shells were shrieking and screaming with terrific fury while we prayed for night to come. Night did eventually come. I do not know that I ever was as proud of darkness in my life before or since. We then went back and completed the interment. These are some of the scenes and incidents connected with a soldier's life.
General Sherman now began a series of wonderful tactical movements with his army. Threatening Johnson's communications and causing that very able and tactful general to abandon his modern Gibraltar, pull out his army and hasten to his already prepared lines for the protection of the crossings of Chatahoochie river. July 2, after the rebels had left, I, in company with several others went to take a view of the place we had tried to take away from the Johnnies on the 27th. We found the abattis as I have said, very difficult to penetrate even when unguarded and undefended. We found several of our comrades who had been killed on that fateful day, still lying uncovered and exposed to the hot July sun. We found several of our comrades who had been killed on that fateful day, still lying uncovered and exposed to the hot July sun. Decomposition was so far advanced as to render them unrecognizable, and to preclude the possibility of removing them, so they were covered up where they lay, there to await the great Resurrection morn.
On the 4th of July, our great natal day, we moved out around
the head of the mountain, passing through the beautiful little
city of Marietta, Georgia, forming companies in platoons, banners
flying and to the time of good, loyal, patriotic music, bodies
erect and eyes to the front we passed through the little city,
attracting much attention and comments, some favorable, some not
Next day after passing through Marietta I was taken with a severe attack of dysentery. About the same time I became entirely deaf from the overheat and concussion by the terrible artillery fire received while in the overheated condition. I was sent back to the hospital at Marietta. For two or three weeks I was as deaf as a stone. Fortunately for me another comrade of my company, J. W. Hamilton, familiarly called "Wes" was in the hospital at the same time. He would report to the physician in charge for me, receive instructions and the treatment and administer them to me. This two or three weeks of utter exclusion from any knowledge of what was going on in the world except what little I could see was the most annoying, aggravating and melancholy of any like period I have ever experienced. The end of my time of service was fast approaching and the thought of having to go home deaf, a young man not yet twenty years of age, was insufferable and intolerable. I brooded over my unfortunate condition so much that at times I absolutely contemplated committing suicide. Since my own experience in this line I probably do not view the unfortunate individual who ends his career in this manner with the same wonder and astonishment that others do. In the course of time, however, I began to improve and in a few weeks I thought my hearing was about as good as it ever was. You may readily conclude that I was overjoyed at this happy conclusion of my troubles. I was not entirely free from it as I found to my sorrow. After my return home, upon the contracting of a cold I was made sensibly aware of the permanency of the injury sustained by my auditory apparatus. Like an evil conscience it has clung to me through life. As I grow older my hearing becomes more and more obstinate. At this writing I am approaching my 63rd milestone. I find myself seriously handicapped in almost every relation of life, in business, socially and almost everything else that brings happiness and enjoyment in this world. However, my faith in the Immortality of man, my conscious belief in the resurrection of the dead and the final revivifying of all human functions, affords me felicitations beyond expression that in that great day I shall hear as well as others.
After the temporary recovery of my hearing I was for a time much enfeebled from my dysenteric trouble. Gradually improving, I soon began to do light duty in a convalescent camp. A regiment of these convalescents had been organized and I was made a captain of one of the companies. These companies were of a very miscellaneous representation. They came from as many different regiments almost as there were numbers in the company organization. My company was simply a duplication of the other nine companies.
I remember a very amusing incident that occurred while I was
exercising this command. The rebel General Wheeler was raiding
around promiscuously, striking and breaking our line of communication
(that is our cracker line) almost at pleasure, here and there
about as his fancy desired. He might take it into his head to
try us a fall at Marietta. In my company was a red-headed fellow
from an Indiana regiment. I remember nothing about his name except
that it was "Joe." Well, Joe was one of those fellows
suffering from aphonia. That is an inability to speak above a
whisper. Whether this was real or assumed I shall leave the reader
to decide. One night after I had retired to my downy couch, (a
blanket and a few leaves) I was awakened by the Sergeant Major
and informed that I was wanted at headquarters. I went and was
told by the captain (acting colonel) that he was in possession
of information that warranted the conclusion that a visit of the
rebel cavalry was altogether probable at any moment. I was ordered
to return to my company, wake up every man and have them put on
their accoutrements and sleep with their guns in their hands.
I began at one end of the camp, waking them and giving the instructions
as I went. I was about half way through the company when I came
to Joe. I laid my hand on him and called out, "Joe, Joe"
All the response I got was a groan and grunt. I gave him a violent
shake and shouted, "Joe, Joe," "What the h-l do
you want" he said in as loud and audible a voice as any of
us were capable of. I told him he must get on his things and sleep
with his gun in his arms. That Wheeler might be in on us at any
time. "Let him come, by G-d I'm ready for him." I never
heard such a shout of laughter as followed, half the company being
awake and hearing every word he said. Next morning came, but Wheeler
did not, and Joe was whispering the same as ever. The boys guyed
him unmercifully, but he took it all in good humor, thus getting
rid of them easier and sooner than if he had made a kick.
I knew of a number of persons that were similarly affected with this aphonic trouble. Some I thought were sincere and honest. Of some I thought otherwise. However, an individual thus affected, whether honestly or not, immediately came under the ban of suspicion and were sure to become the subject of severe criticism. One man belonging to our company was thus affected and was discharged from the service on that account. He continued whispering for many years after he returned home, but ultimately recovered his voice.
While I was at Marietta, General McPherson's dead body was brought through from the front on it way to this former home in Ohio. General McPherson, as all history readers know was killed in front of the Gate City of the south, Atlanta, Georgia, July 20, 1864. His death was a severe loss to his army of the Tennessee. He was comparatively young, but a brilliant man who was fast stamping his own magnificent personality upon his army. He was killed early in the action on that day. General Logan being next in rank, immediately succeeded to the command vacated by McPherson's death, fought out successfully the engagement then on. Also the fight on the extreme right on the 28th, which was equally brilliant and successful. General Logan, however, was finally succeeded in the command of the army of the Tennessee by General O. O. Howard. This action of General Sherman was severely criticized and crested much and bitter dissatisfaction in the army. General Logan, however, was too good a soldier to sulk. He assumed his old command, the 15th army corps and commanded it through to the end. Among the many casualties in the fight on the 28th was the severe wounding of Colonel Hall.
I may say here before I forget it, that my sickness of which I have told you, terminated my active participation in the war. I never went permanently to the front again. I did go back once on business for Col. Hall, while the army was investing Atlanta. Arriving at our company, I was proud of the manifestations of welcome tendered me by my old comrades and associates. They plied me with many questions too numerous to mention here. Above and beyond all they were anxious to hear how the sick and wounded were. I found the boys in the ditch, every company having an individual ditch at right angles to the main one. This precaution being necessary on account of the enemy having a battery which enfiladed the main ditch. When it was in business the boys would simply retire to their cross ditch. In the rear of their location was an old field. One evening while I was there a 24# parrot rifle was brought out into the field to practice on the rebel works around Atlanta, which were in plain view from the old field. This maneuver attracted quite a crowd. Probably a thousand or more men were watching the gun practice. Presently someone yelled "Hunt your holes Yank." Whoever it was that gave the warning had seen smoke rise on the rebel works and knew well what was coming, and as the shell compliments of the enemy came hurtling over us I think I hear someone ask "well did you hunt your holes". Perhaps we did.
After transacting the business for which I was sent to the
front, I returned to Marietta. There I remained until the remainder
of the "non-Veteran" squad came along from the front
discharged. They also brought my discharge with them. I turned
over my gun and accoutrements to the quartermaster and joined
the boys in the journey towards God's country and home. HOME,
HOME SWEET SWEET HOME. Oh how I long to be there. Be it ever so
humble there's no place like home. Home, sweet, sweet home, what
enchanting memories and blissful recollections cluster around
the memories of home. Dear, dear old home. Dear reader, were you
ever absent from home for one, two or three years? And if so,
do you remember what your emotions were on the eve of your return?
If you have, to you my task of describing our feeling on this
much-looked for, hopefully longed for, this to us eventful day
will be much easier. I feel I shall fail to make myself comprehensible
to those who have always and uninterruptedly enjoyed home's blessings
and associations. It is an old, yet, no less true axiom that one
must at some period of life been bereft of some of the blessings
and comforts of home before he can properly appreciate their possession.
For three long years we had not only been denied the comforts and pleasures of home and its refining influences. Away from the moralizing, civilizing and christianizing influence of society, Sunday School and church, the sobering melancholy sound of the church bell had not fallen on our ears in all this strenuous time. Instead we had been robed in the rough habiliments of war, not rapine, but stern, bloody, relentless conflict. In place of society we had the guards vigil. For Sunday School we had the daily evolutions of drill. For church, the battlefield of blood, and for the church bell, the cannon's roar. For three long years those scenes had been repeated, over and over again with tireless and almost intolerable repetition. One day's duty was but a replication of the one to follow, until we had become what you may be pleased to term "hardened soldiers". So we were, yes, a band of peaceful, order loving, law abiding citizens, transformed into a mighty host, an irresistible avalanche of citizen soldiery. And yet, at the contemplation of home, the near approach of the joyful time when we should be surrounded by and in the enjoyment of home with its saving exhilarating influences, we were at once transformed into quiet, peaceful, patriotic, home-adoring, country loving citizens, blending ourselves nicely and imperceptibly with the avocations of peace, assuming the duties and responsibilities of quiet peaceful citizenship, a complete surprise to some of our sordid-minded friends.
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