Letter written by 1st Sergeant John S. Harris of Company F, 11th MA Infantry, to his brother, from a camp near Budd’s Ferry, MS. Harris describes marching several miles from Leonardtown to their present camp. He is currently under arrest in his quarters, and expects to be court martialed and demoted. Harris claims that if he could be promoted by a vote from the company, he would already be lieutenant, but he has to be appointed by Colonel William Blaisdell. Harris refers to some of the officers as selfish, and writes that he hopes to live long enough to “smile over their dead bodies.”
Camp near Budds Fery Jan 17
I recieved your kind letter & paper in due time was very glad to hear that you and all the folks are well although I have been somewhat used up since we arrived in camp from Leonardtown we started from L on Sunday the 12th and marched to Newport a distance of about 25 miles through the mud the next day we marched to port Tobacco 14 miles on Tuesday we marched to camp 16 miles.
I am under arrest in the quarters and I expect to be court martialed
but the most they can do with me is to reduce me to the ranks and I dont care much about that we have got a new Capt his name is Debereaux from Salem but we have not found out much about him yet, but I will try live long enough to get square with them all, if I could be promoted by vote of the Co I should have been Lieut long ago but I have to be appointed by the Col and there is 2 or 3 working against me all the time but it is a long road that dont turn and I will let you know as soon as thare is any change in the programe over
the opinion here it that thare will be a general forward movement soon but it is hard telling any thing about it here, but God knows I dont care how soon for I am tired of being in hell I if I have come out here to die I dont care how soon but I will them that I wont show the white feather [cowardice] and I think my life will be spared to see some of these selfish Officers die so that I can smile over their dead bodies
I dont think you would know me I have got as cross as hell, ———–
I should like to see Augusta Comstock for old aquainntance sake and if you see her give her my respects
to her and tell her I should like to hear from her I shall write to Jennie today or tomorrow
please write soon to your Brother
John S. Harris was a 25 year old “driver” from Boston, MA. He enlisted on June 13, 1861 as a 1st Sergeant with Company F of the 11th MA Infantry. The reason for his arrest in the above mentioned letter is unknown, but Harris was in fact promoted to 2nd Lieutenant, August 11, 1862, and 1st Lieutenant, March 13, 1863. He did see his prophecy of living to “smile over the dead bodies” of certain selfish officers fulfilled at the Battle of 2nd Bull Run, where the 11th MA Infantry suffered 113 casualties, including that of Lt. Colonel George P. Tileston. Unfortunately, Harris was also destined to “come out to die,” and was killed at the Battle of Chancellorsville, VA.
General Orders No. 258, issued from the War Department in Washington D.C., regarding how fines imposed via military courts are to be paid.
GENERAL ORDERS, WAR DEPARTMENT,
No. 258. ADJUTANT GENERALS OFFICE,
Washington, September 19, 1864
Fines imposed by Military Courts.
Whenever fines are imposed by sentence of General Court Martial, or Military Commission, upon officers or citizens, the Judge Advocate of the Court or Commission will make a special report of the fact to the Adjutant General, giving a copy of the sentence in the case. The officer who confirms a sentence imposing a fine will transmit to the Adjutant General a special report thereof, together with a copy of the order promulgating the proceedings.
The fines will be paid to the chief officer of the Quartermaster’s Department at the place where the prisoner may be, and no other person is authorized to receive them. Such fines must not be applied to any purpose, but the officer receiving them will forthwith remit the amounts to the Adjutant General of the Army, at Washington, with the names of prisoners who paid them, and the number of the order promulgating the proceedings.
All officers who have heretofore received fines will forthwith report to the Adjutant General the amounts received, by whom paid, number and date of order promulgating the proceedings, and what disposition was made of the money. The amounts will be forwarded with the reports.
Letter of Private Cecil Fogg of Company B, 36th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, to his father from Chattanooga, TN. Fogg writes that sutlers have come to camp, and retracts his previous request for money. He describes a scouting trip to McLenmore Cove where they rescued families of Union Home Guards who had been taken prisoner. Fogg writes that a cavalry expedition to Dalton found no Confederate troops, and that his regiment is still working on a bridge. The 92nd Ohio is working on burying deceased soldiers in the nearby National Cemetery, while other squads are fencing in the depot and repairing the railroad track to Knoxville. Fogg mentions family friends who have re-enlisted in the 40th Ohio, and were at Shell Mound since the fight at Lookout Mountain but are now guarding the railroad. Veterans from the 36th Ohio have begun to return home. Several deserters have been sentenced in a court martial. Fogg discusses the benefits of instating a draft and concludes by mentioning the recent arrival of sanitary stores.
Chattanooga, Tenn. Jan. 31/64
I have rec’d 3 or 4 letters from you within the last 10 days; 2 of them containing thread. There was enough in the first one to do me, as the sutlers have now come up. I wrote to you on the 17th for some money. If you have not sent any, you need not now, for I can get along without it till we are paid again. I believe I have not wrote to you since the scout. We were out on a 3 days’ scout to McLenmore Cove. We started out on the 18th and went up to where we came down the mountain in Sept. We camped there at the foot of the mountain on the night of the 18th, and the next day we went a few miles farther and loaded up about 16 or 18 wagons
with some Union families and their household goods, and came back to the place where we camped the night before. We camped there that night and returned to our camp at Chattanooga the next day. The families which we moved in are families of Union Home Guards, who have been taken prisoners by the Rebs. The Home Guards met to organize and elect officers, and the Rebs slipped in on them in our uniform, and took all but 5 or 6 of them. They shot some of them in the own door yard, stripped some of all their clothing, and made them double quick towards Dalton in their bare feet over the frozen ground. It rained the morning we started out there, and the road was very bad that day. But it froze up that night, and snowed a little.
It thawed a little the next day, and froze up again at night, so we had pretty good walking back to camp. I understand that our cavalry have been out to Dalton and found no enemy there. Our regt. is still at work on the bridge. The 92nd [Ohio] is engaged at the work of re-interring the bodies of soldiers who have been killed or died, and been buried near this place.
They are burying them in the National Cemetery near this place. There are also squads at work fencing in the depot, and repairing the track between here and Knoxville. And I think the [rail]cars will be running through to that point in a short time. This is a very lively place at present; nearly everybody appears to be doing something. I saw John Williams’ boys a few
days ago. They are in the 40th Ohio. Their division passed up the river. They have been at Shell Mound since the fight at Lookout Mt. They have all three re-enlisted, and expect to go home in a short time. They are going up to guard R[ail] Road between here and Knoxville for the present. The veterans of the 36th (about 54 in number) started home a few days ago. Harrison Adney is one of them. None of the Salem boys in this regt. have re-enlisted yet. I believe Henry Pedin started home a few days ago on furlough. We have had about 2 weeks of the finest weather I ever saw at this time of the year. It realizes my former ideas of the “Sunny South,” but which all were put to flight by that cold snap in the fore part of the month.
The deserters are catching it pretty hard at the court martial now in session. Three deserters in Co. B were tried a few days ago. They don’t know their sentence yet. Bill McKey is sentenced to one month’s hard labor, and lose 10 month’s wages. His sentence is light. Some have to work 6 months, lose a year’s pay, and after they have worked out their sentence, return to the regt. and make up for all the time they have lost. All your arguments in favor of big bounties for volunteers look to me as though they might be used as arguments on the other side. If the novelty of the thing has worn off and volunteering is a drag, why not draft at once save time and money, and bring out some of the Copperheads into the ranks who never will be there unless they are drafted, or get more than their services
are worth in the shape of a bounty. If the draft had come off 6 months ago, there would not have been so many loafing soldiers at home pretending to recruit for months at a time when their services are needed in the field. I think the veterans ought to have twice the bounty that a raw recruit gets, for a veteran is worth more to the gov’t than 2 new recruits. Almost every regt. in the service lost more than half their no. before they ever done any service to the government. A regt. will lose one half its no. in getting seasoned to the service.
Some sanitary stores have reached this place, and the sick and wounded in the hospitals in town have had the benefit of some of them. And the hospital attendants and officers are living in closer. They can afford to be generous when they have more than they can use themselves.
Cecil Fogg enlisted in Company B of the 36th OH Volunteer Infantry on August 12, 1861 at Marietta, OH at the age of 20. He served through his three year term of service and re-enlisted for the war, but was mustered out July 27, 1865 based upon a surgeon’s certificate of disability. The 36th served in West Virginia in 1861, and participated in the battles ofSouth Mountain and Antietam as a part of the 9th Corps before being transferred west in January 1863. As a part of the Army of the Cumberland’s 14th Army Corps (George H. Thomas),the regiment fought at Chickamauga and later in the Atlanta and Savannah, GA (March to the Sea) Campaigns.