Copy of a Confederate letter by Brigadier General Daniel W. Adams to James A. Seddon, Secretary of War, from Marietta, GA. This copy is in the handwriting of Randall Lee Gibson. Adams is petitioning Seddon to promote Colonel Gibson to brigadier general. Gibson is currently commanding the consolidated 13th and 20th Louisiana regiments. Gibson was on continuous duty through the Kentucky and Tennessee Campaigns, and was particularly admirable at the Battle of Perryville. Adams also mentions the “great gallantry” that Gibson displayed in the battles before Murfreesboro. Gibson also commanded Adams’ brigade during the Brigadier General’s absence, as part of Major General John C. Breckenridge’s division. The letter includes testimonies from Brigadier General Patton Anderson, Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk, Brigadier General William Preston, and Lieutenant General William Hardee, all of whom are supportive of Gibson’s promotion.
Marietta Ga Jan 22nd 1863
I have the honor to call your especial attention to Col R L Gibson of Louisiana now commanding the 13th & 20th La Regts Consolidated – formerly commanding the 13th La with the view of recommending him for promotion to the Rank of Brigadier Genl
Col Gibson entered the service on the 16th day of April 1861 and has since been actively and assiduously engaged in in it. Within my knowledge – that is since the 1st day of August last at which time his Regiment became a portion of the Brigade under my command he has been continuously on duty through the Ky and Tenn Campaigns. [???] battle of Perryville Ky in command of his Regiments under my immediate and personal observation he displayed great courage, gallantry, coolness, self possession as I have testimony in my official report of the part taken by my Brigade in that battle – throughout the long & arduous march of that Kentucky Campaign he was prompt and energetic in the discharge of his duties. In the recent battles before Murfreesboro he again displayed great gallantry & courage in the engagement of the 31st of December as I have officially reported; and in the engagement of of the 2nd inst as a part of Major Genl Breckinridge’s Div – he being the senior colonel commanded my Brigade in my absence which was caused by my being slightly wounded disabled by a slight wounded received on the 31st of Dec and acquitted himself as I have been credibly informed with great credit.
To my knowledge he is well acquainted and
proficient in Battalion & Brigade drill and with the rules & regulations of the service and has had considerable experience at [???] during his time of service as a Brigade Commander.
I feel confidently in the assurance that he is well qualified to command a Brigade and deserving the promotion to a Brigadier Generalship; in which opinion I doubt not my superiors in command in this Army will fully and most cheerfully concur. I have the honor to be
(signed) Dan W Adams Brig Genl
Comdg Adams Brigade
Breckinridge’s Div Hardee’s Corps
Hon James A Seddon
Sec of War C.S.A.
I take pleasure in adding my testimony to the above. Col Gibson Regiment during the Kentucky campaign composed a part of a Brigade in the Division I commanded. I had opportunities of observing him, and can say is truth, that he managed his Regt on the arduous march with skill and judgment and was highly spoken of by his Brigade Commander for his gallantry [?] on the field of Perryville. I consider him quite competent to command a Brigade.
(signed) Patton Anderson
Brig. Genl. P.A.
I cordially concur in the recommendation of Col Gibson to the office of Brigadier Genl. Col Gibson has shown himself both capable and faithful and would command a Brigade with credit to himself and advantage to our cause,
(signed) L Polk
Lt Genl C.S.A
I have long known Colonel Gibson and esteemed him for his cultivated intellect, his spotless character and great worth as a gentleman. In my association with him for the last year, and in the trying scenes from shiloh to murfreesboro, my regard has been augmented by finding in him all the qualities of a gallant and skillful soldier, it affords me pleasure to add the feeble testimony of my name to the distinguished recommendations of others under whom he has served to testify my entire confidence in his fitness for promotion to the rank of Brigadier Genl and my belief that the President cannot bestow it on a more faithful, diligent, and meritorious officer,
(signed) Wm Preston
Brigadier Genel Comdg Breckinridge’s Div
I concur in the recommendations given on behalf of Col. Gibson, and cordially recommend him to the President for Brigadier General.
(signed) Lieut General
Hdqrs Hardees Corps
Tullahoma Feb 1st 1863
Randall Lee Gibson was born in 1832 in Versailles, KY into a family of slave-owning planters. He attended Yale and wasa member of the Skull and Bones society. After graduating in 1853 he then studied at the University of Louisiana Law School (Tulane) and received his bachelor’s in law. When Louisiana seceded, Gibson joined the 1st LA Artillery as a captain. He was then commissioned as colonel of the 13th LA Infantry. A year after this letter was sent on his behalf, he was finally promoted to brigadier general for the Atlanta and Franklin-Nashville Campaigns. He was captured at Cuba Station, AL May 8, 1865 and paroled on May 14, 1865. After the war he returned to Louisiana and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1874, then the Senate in 1882. He died December 15, 1892.
Letter written by Private Bryant L. Vincent of Company K, 12th IN Cavalry, to his friends, from Murfreesboro, TN. Vincent writes that he has been in three hard battles, but has come out safely. He mentions defeating Confederate Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest, and comments on the way that Union Major General George H. Thomas “whipped” Confederate General John Bell Hood in Nashville. Vincent describes the battles he has been in since leaving Tullahoma, TN, including the Battle of Overall’s Creek. Another saw his brigade guarding a forage train under heavy fire until they received reinforcements. He writes that he has gotten used to the sounds of cannons and musketry, and they will have to wait until he returns home to fully explain what battle is like. Vincent remarks that the hardest part of being a soldier has been the rations, as food has been scarce for several weeks. The railroad to Nashville has been torn up, and several bridges have been burned.
Murfreesboro Dec 22 64
I rec[eived] 3 letters this morning I am well and doing well I have been in 3 pretty hard fought battles since I have been at murfreesboro but I have come through all staraight all though sometimes I thought I would not I have seen some awful hard marches. but it is all in a fellows life time and I guess the fighting in this part of the country is nearly done [???] for we have whipped old Forest here three times and the way Thomas has whippped Hood in front of Nashville will be a caution to him not to try it again and
but a small part of his forces will ever get across the Tennessee for they said when they came up here that Victory or no Victory they would not go back again we started from tullahoma Nov 30 and got here Dec 2 we marched day and night, the first fight was Sunday the 4 of Dec it is called the battle of overalls creek, the next fight was the 6 of Dec we had to support a battery the revel artillery was playing on our artillery and our co lay right behind the battery and the way the shot and ball came was a caution we lost 2 men both wounded from our co I do not know how many from the regt the next fight was wednesday the 14 our Brigade went out to guard a forage train
we fought all day and were surrounded on all sides just at night as we had got the wagon loaded with corn and got on to the pike they commenced harder than ever in front and rear we made up our minds we were gobbled and we should have every one of us been taken if it had not been for reinforcements coming out but they fought hard before they gave up. I have got so the noise of cannon and muskets dont bother me much for I have been within sound of it about all the time for 3 weeks, I wish I could give you some idea of what a battle is but I havent room to do so by letter and I will have to wait untill I get home then I can tell you something about it
[Thad?] is well [???] is not very good but I guess he will be better before long we shall probably start for tullahoma tomorrow, and when we get settled there you can send the box. I am glad you could not send it for it would be nothing but a trouble here I wrote to you the day before we left tullahoma and told you not to send it but I guess the letter did not go through, I dont know how long before this one will but I will have it ready, the hardest has been the rations we have been obliged to live on all most nothing for the last 3 weeks we have drawn only one hard tack and one pint of meal for 5 days rations and had it not been for parched corn I believe we would have starved the railroad is badly torn up between here and Nashville and several bridges burned but there is a large force at work on it and before long we will have a plenty of rations but I have written a long letter and I must close Vincent
-Page 1, continued at top, upside down-
you must not worry about me for I am all right and have probably seen the hardest I will have to so, you said something about homsick I aint homsick, it is pretty cold here
Bryant L. Vincent, from Pulaski County, IN, enlisted as a private in Company K of the 12th IN Cavalry on November 14, 1864. He survived the war and was mustered out on November 10, 1865. Being a new recruit, his youth and inexperience is fully evident in this letter. The war obviously remained somewhat of an adventure to him despite the hardships he was compelled to rapidly cope with.
Letter written by Private John D. Compton of Company G, 105th OH Volunteer Infantry, to his father, from a camp near Murfreesboro. Compton writes that he has sent for a record of Company G that will list who belonged to the regiment, who died, where they marched, and give the personal information of the men. He mentions that he was exchanged after being captured by the Confederates, and that he will send home his parole and paper of clearance given to him by General William Rosecrans.
Camp Near Murfreeboro Tenn [???]
Dear father I thought I would rite a few lines to you this morning to let you no how I am I am well at presant and hope these few line will find you the same I have sent for a record of the Co G 105 Ohio Reg to tell Who did belong and who died and whare and the marches and all the fight and camp and age of the boys and all about it then when I get this I will send it home to you and you get a case and put it in and keep it I am exchanged and I will send my Parole home and the paper of clearance which rosincrance gave me and I want you to keep
it and all the rest I send home to you keep them safe till I come home the boys is all well at presant rite some to me and tell me if you get this good morning from J.D. Compton
to his father and mother R-S Compton and Margaret Compton in Kingsville Ashtabula Co Ohio
rite and tell me if you got my other Parole I sent it to H. Brooks
John D. Compton was the son of farmers Rueben and Margaret Cary Compton. He was born in New York in 1842. Sometime between 1850 and 1860 the family moved west and settled in Kingsville, Ashtabula County in Ohio. He was killed on July 22, 1864 during the battle of Atlanta from a gun shot wound to the abdomen.
Letter written by Private John D. Compton of Company G, 105th OH Volunteer Infantry, to his siblings, from a camp near Murfreesboro. Compton describes how he was taken prisoner while foraging . He is back in camp after being paroled and describes his experience as a prisoner of the Confederates for three days. Compton says they were mistreated by provost guards. He attempted to leave the parole camp to visit his comrades in the 105th, but the guards found out. Compton writes disparagingly of the Union officers he was captured with. He suggests that his brother stay out of the army. Despite the tone of his letter Compton insists he is not homesick, and does not want his parents to worry about him.
Camp Near murphysbrough
Feb 19 1863
Dear brother and sister as I have some Time I will rite a few lines to you to let you no that I am well at presant and hope these few lines will find you the same Well Jim I thought I would rite and give you a decription of how I was taken I had ben with the Reg 9 1/2 days they sent us out ot forage some stuff for the need to eat on the 21 of Jan got a bout 6 1/2 miles from camp when the Reb began to fire in our front We got one of our wagons and loded our guns and some of the boys fired into them the oficers was taken captin Canfield and lieutenant Torgee 3 otherSeth Perker and my Self Was all that Was taken before that you new but [???] Renginan Was taken We are all here in camp the oficers I supose will put us in the ranks but if they do for the [???] is broken they say but that is nothing to do with us they must be careful how they get in a fight with me for I think I am very good shot with the gun they give me Some of the boys has got home and When We get Paid off I Will leve too I think I have my PP [Provisional Parole] in my pocket Well Jim I will tell you how we lived while the Reb had us We stayed in a cart House We lived on corn
bread and bisket with some sow bekon [bacon] the bread no salt in it but they had none neither so I could stand it they kept us 3 days then give us our P.P. and took us out of their lines and set us out for our selves We Went to Munfordsville Ky got on the cars and started for Lusville Went thus 3 days in [???] then Went to Nashville Tenn Kep 2 1/2 days then went to murphysborough stoped 2 days I ran away and went to see the boys and back every night they found out that We Were found to [???] they said that We might go out to camp so rather than to lay in fall we went the gard said that they was glad to get red of us they said dam the 105 all Hell could not Keep some of them and I was one of them you can [reckon] but Jim I said I would tell you What i had to eat we had flour from the time they Paroled us till we got out of their lines we mixed it up on a Plate and backed it on a ford with out any salt or shortning it Was flour and water that we got from a inn by the side of the rode they treeted us as well as they used their own men but we did not get enough of that When we got a mong the Dam northern sholder straps Jim if I live till the War is over their will be some of the Straps Ketch Hell I think one has got his just do Torgee is a mong the Reb and god noes I hope he will stay their till the War is over
Jim you no what he rote Home a bout me When Was taken before he rote Home that I and Seth Parker was Drunk I hope they Will Keep him till he can learn to tell the truth and I guess they Will Jim I am a single man and can stand it but it is Well for you did not inlist When I did and I will give you some good advice you ar out and do you keep out the boys has gone out expecting a fight before they get back I should have had to go if it had not have ben that they did not no whether they had a rite to ask us or not I expect every day When they Will if they do old Hall will get the first charge from my gun if he goes in front dont tell or sho this to every one for it might get out you no and it might go hard with me but I Will do as I say if I get a good chance for I should have ben home now if it had not ben for him and I [always] Pay my Debts I gess he will get his Pay for the Boys all owes the same debt I gess some of them will Pay the debt Well Jim you may think that I am Home sick for the Way I rite but I am not but it makes me mad to think how they Will beg a fellow to get Him Draft once is a nough I think tell our fokes not to fret for I will come out all rite tell Pa to send
get my clothes at Columbus if he sent them When I last herd from Home Pa Was Sick I hope he may get well tell him not to fret a bout me for I am well and tuff rite to John D. Compton Co G 105 2 Brigade 5 Division Murphysburough Tenn
Care of Captin Crowell
tell Pa to send me some stamps so I can by some Paper
John D. Compton was the son of farmers Rueben and Margaret Cary Compton. He was born in New York in 1842. Sometime between 1850 and 1860 the family moved west and settled in Kingsville, Ashtabula County in Ohio. He was killed on July 22, 1864 during the battle of Atlanta from a gun shot wound to the abdomen.
Letter written by Private W. R. Lacy of the 6th TN Infantry, C.S.A., to his cousin Amarila Lemons, from a camp near Shelbyville, TN, describing his participation at the Battle of Stones River. Lacy writes that he and his comrades are in high spirits, consoled through the war that the Confederacy will one day be an independent government. He mentions Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, and that the Governor of Kentucky has ordered troops to keep the proclamation from being enforced. Lacy finds it strange that the Union proclaims the battle as a victory due to their great losses. He has heard reports about General Joseph Wheeler taking boats on the Cumberland River. He concludes by sending his regards to friends and family at home.
Camp near Shelbyville Tenn
Miss Amarila Lemons
As I have an opportunity of sending you a letter, I concluded to write you a few lines. Well cousin, our country is in a bad situation perhapse in such that we can never redeam it but we are in high spirits yet, and still look forward to the day of her redemption, and think it not far off, there is one good consolation and that is to know that the Confederacy will be an independent government. Some of the Federal Prisioners say that the majority of there troops has lost all hope of subjugateing the south
Our president says in his message that the war has entered its third and last stage Gen. Woolford [probably Col. Frank Wolford, 1st Kentucky Cav., U.S.] the Yankee cavalry fighter disbanded his commands for thirty days and if old Abe dont modify his emancipaon proclimation that he will not call for them agen. It is rumored that the Govener of Ky has call for sity thousan troops to keepe the Presidents procklimation from being enforced in Ky. I think that will piece soon. Cousin I supose you have heard of the Battle of Murfreesburrow or Stone River I suppose the Yanks claim a great victory I think strang of them for clamering a victory over us when there loss was so hevy and our so small compared with theres Our loss was 5 or 6 thosand killed wounded and missing
There loss 25 or 30 thosand besides the thirty pieces of artilery that we captured It was a heard faught battle Our Brigade did not get in a general engagement, but were in two hevy skirmishes, we were also uder the fire of there artilery all the time, Lieut. Bisy [Lt. A.J. Bucey] and Jef Gillum [Lt. T.J. Gilliam] were killed by a shell, I hope that we have faught our last battle. It was reported that Gen Wheeler and his cavary took five transports boats on the cumberlan river, and distroyed five cars on the Murfreesborrow and Nashville railroad two days since, I must close we are all well, Capt Lacy is well and I know he would like to hear from you, give my love to relation and inquiring friends, write the first opportunity and tell Emma Sarah, I remain you cousin excuse misstakes W R Lacy
Letter written by Private Isaac B. Jones of Company C, 3rd Battalion, 18th U.S. Infantry, to his cousin Helen Sofield, from Belotes Ford near Cairo, TN. Jones mentions that the mail had been captured several times in the last few months and is unreliable. He describes the hard marching from Winchester, TN to Bowling Green, KY. They caught up with General Braxton Bragg but General Don Carlos Buell held back, and Bragg escaped.They pursued Bragg’s forces to Springfield. Jones writes in great detail about the Battle of Perryville, including descriptions of the heavy artillery. The following day he walked the battlefield and describes the carnage he saw, including the surgeons amputations of many arms and legs. Jones concludes by writing longingly of his family.
Belotes ford near Cairo, Tenn. Dec 4th, 1862
I received a letter from you a little more than a month ago, I think, and allow me to say that I was very glad indeed to hear from you, for I had not received any word from any of my folks for a long time. I received one letter from my wife since I last wrote to you. She and Susie [daughter] were well. I had been looking for a letter from you for quite a length of time, and had almost came to the conclusion that you had not received my letter. Our mail have been captured, here and in Ky. several times within the last three months. So there is not very much dependence to be placed in them now. Well, cousin, we have some sharp times, and awful hard marching since I last wrote to you. We have marched over 800 miles, including our flanking movements, since we left Winchester, Tenn. We marched from Decherd, Tenn. a distance of 20 miles to reinforce Gen. Shouph. He was expecting to be attacked almost every hour. We did not get the order till evening. Then we started and marched nearly all night with nothing but blankets and rations. It rained hard, and was very cold and disagreeable. We had nothing but dry crackers and a little fat meat to eat, and only half rations at that. We got here the next forenoon and laid in line of battle two days. We had no fighting except some skirmish and picket fighting. We then moved on, with our whole force, near Pelham, Tenn. We expected there for sure to
have a general action, but the enemy evaded us. We then marched to Murphreesboro on a forced march a distance of 65 miles. We rested there 20 hours and started in the evening, marched all night, and continued on till we arrived at Nashville, Tenn., a distance of 32 miles. We done all this marching on half rations and scarcely water enough to drink. We guarded the bridge of the Cumberland River at N[ashville] 7 days. Then we received another order for another forced march to Bowling Green, Ky.’ We made that in three days, a distance of 69 miles just in time to catch Bragg and his force of about 80,000. But Gen. Buell would not leave us at them, but kept us back two days, and Bragg made his escape again, after being allowed to take 4,400 of our men prisoners, and paroling them. Co. K, 2d Batt. out of our regt. was taken there, and the duce of it was, it was just a full company. They had just came into the service – consequently green, although well drilled. (I will resume our journey) After the enemy had two days’ the start of us, Buell, the old “traitor,” concluded to leave us go on the pursuit of the Confederate forces. The men were a good deal discouraged, but marched well. The fact of the business is, the marching we made has never been equaled in the U.S. We were 8 days without running water to drink, but twice. All the rest of the time we had to drink water out of mud holes in the road, and ponds in the fields. The water in some of the ponds was all green on the top, but we got so very dry that would drink almost anything in the shape of water, and we had nothing but dry crackers and a very little meat to eat, and coffee to drink. We never get beans or rice on a march for want of time to cook them. The day after we got to Louisville, Ky. There was
325,000 Union troops bivouacked there. We rested there a short time and started after Bragg, Buckner & Kirby Smith’s forces. We went by the way of Shepherdsville, Bardstown, Springfield, etc. We marched 9 miles before we got to Springfield without a halt. All the time as fast as we could possibly walk, and part of the time on a double quick. There the Rebels opened fire upon us with their artillery. But ours proved too much for them. They had to retreat. Our brigade was in the advance and our regt. was in the advance of the brigade, so you see we were thrown in the hottest of the fire. We fought them back from ½ past 11 till night. The next day there was some skirmish fighting, but the third day they took a stand this side of a creek, they having the choice of the ground and all the water. So you see we had to fight them back for water. The general action commenced on the morning of the 8th of October about three o’clock, and both sides fought their best till after dark. Our brigade was held back as a reserve, but were called into action a short time before sundown. So that we were under heavy fire at least an hour and a half. Our battery took its position and opened up with incredible fury. Night was growing fast upon us, and the combat grew every minute more ferocious. The flashes of the artillery was blinding, above, around, in front. Bombs, solid shot, canister and minie balls flew like hail whizzing & exploding in every direction. The shrieks and groans of the dying and wounded, added to the horror & confusion of the moment, made up altogether a scene of consternation and dismay enough to
appall the stoutest heart. I was over part of the battlefield the second day after the fight, & the ground was literally strewn with the dead & wounded. I seen one place where the surgeons were at work with the wounded. They then had a pile of legs and arms about four feet high. I seen one poor fellow with the whole of his underjaw shot off He was living yet, but never could [say] anything; and others equally as badly wounded. One man in our regt. had his leg taken off, another was shot through the lungs, & another had both of his arms blown off, & face & breast burned all into a crisp. The battle was fought at and near Perryville, Ky., and it is called the battle of Chaplin Hills.
I was very glad to hear that cousin Alfred was so well situated. I only hope his regt. can stay where they are. If they should be ordered out on a few such chases after the Rebels as we have, he will begin to have a poor opinion of soldiering. I think, however, that the most of these new regts. will escape these hard marches. We have actually marched as high as 32 m[iles] a day, on half rations, with rifle accouterments, and 60 rounds of cartridges. You were saying you wished me to write to cousin Alfred. I don’t feel myself at liberty to open the correspondence. It would be entirely contrary to our discipline. If the capt. would write to me, I would be most happy to answer to the best of my ability, and give him all the particulars of the movements of the Army of the Ohio. We have 20 companies now in our regt., and three new ones ready to join us. Our regt. is different from the volunteers, we are divided in three battalions. I would rather be in a volunteer regt., on account of their not being so strict as the regulars. I would like to write more, but don’t feel able. I have been sick for several days. I am afraid my constitution will not bear up much longer. I have not much to live for, but my dear little daughter. If I could but see her once more I would feel better satisfied, but it is more than I expect. Give my love to your children, and accept the same for yourself. Tell Alfred I wish to be remembered. From your affectionate cousin, Isaac B. Jones
Direct: Co. C, 3rd Batt./18th U.S. Infty./ 1st Division 3rd
Brigade/ Gallatin, Tenn.
-Page 1, Crosswritten-
Please answer this immediately if you deem it worthy. Direct to Gallatin, Tenn. this time, but at any other time you may direct to Louisville, Ky. It will always be forwarded. I would be very happy to receive a letter from cousin Alfred.
Isaac B. Jones was a carpenter from Williamsport, PA. He originally enlisted with Captain Joesph E. Ulman’s Battery of Light Artillery PA Volunteers at the age of 27. The company was discharged March 7th, 1862 and Jones re-enlisted with the 18th U.S. Infantry. He was killed in action on December 31, 1862 at the Battle of Murfreesboro.
Alfred J. Sofield was a clerk/justice of the peace in Wellsboro, PA when he enrolled as a Union Army Officer. He served in the Civil War as Captain and commander of Company A of the 149th PA Volunteer Infantry. During the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, he was stationed along Chambersburg Pike north of the McPherson Farm. His unit under artillery fire from the Confederate batteries on Herr Ridge, and was struck by a round, which killed him as well as Private Edwin D. Dimmick and Corporal Nathan H. Wilcox.
Letter written by Private Asbury Fouts of Company I, 9th IA Infantry, to his parents, from a camp near Nashville, TN, during Hood’s Tennessee Campaign. Fouts writes about marching out to the breastworks under the command of General James B. Steedman, where they could see Confederate rifle pits. The brigade was ordered to draw the Confederates out, thoughheavy fire caused them to leave before doing so. Two days later they were ordered to Fort Negley to hold the breastworks. On December 19th, 1864, they started for Murfreesboro, and went as far as Huntsville, AL, when they heard the Confederates were at Decatur. A hard march brought them to the Tennessee River, which they crossed on gunboats. The Confederates shelled them, and the town was eventually evacuated.
Camp Near Nashville
Jan the 16th 1865
It is with pleasure that I seat myself down to write you a few lines, for I have not had time to write until now. For about 6 or 7 weeks I wrote you a few lines while at Courtland but do not know whether you received them or not. I wish I had kept an account of our movements since we came to Nashville. I have forgotten all the dates, so I will not attempt to give an account of the Battle of Nashville. Four days after we came to Nashville we drew our arms for the defense of the city, and marched out to the breastworks on the left under Gen.
Steedman’s command. The Rebs’ rifle pits were in plain view about a mile and a half off. We remained in this position for 8 days without disturbance from the enemy. I believed they would have stayed there all winter without attacking us if we had not drove them out. One day our brigade [Col. A. G. Mallory’s, Capt. C. C. Cox’s Battalion] was ordered out on skirmish for the purpose of drawing them out of their works. Our reg[iment] advanced along in front, with the reserves down under the hill. We fought them until the [fire] got too hot for us, and fell back slowly without accomplishing our purpose. The man standing next to me was wounded. Just before the fight one of the boys gave his revolver to his comrade and said, boys, this is the last time I will have of
speaking to you. Pointing to them, he said there is the Rebels, they will kill me. He was shot through the neck and killed instantly. In two days afterward our corps was ordered over to the right, or rather in front of Fort Negley, to hold the breastworks. That day our forces attacked their works. A heavy cannonading was kept up all day. The second day still heavy infantry fire – very heavy. The fight became general all around. Our company was not in the fight at all. [We were] held as reserves in the breastworks. It is hardly necessary for me to try to give a description of our brave boys fought; it is old news to you before this time. The Rebs fought
well. On the 19th of December we started for Murfreesboro, there taking the cars, went down as far as Huntsville, Alabama. There we heard the Rebs was at Decatur. We started for that place on the 25th. After marching through mud knee deep, wading swamps & rivers in cold weather, we reached the Tennessee River opposite Decatur about noon on the 28th. [We] crossed over on the gunboats above the city. The boats played on them while we prepared for a night attack. They shelled us a while, but did not pay much attention to them. About ten o’clock they evacuated the town. It was well fortified. It is getting dark. I will close for the present.
[balance of letter missing – unsigned]
Asbury Fouts, from Taylor County, IO, enlisted at age 19 in Company I of the 9th IA Infantry on October 19, 1864. When en route to the 15th Army Corps (W. T. Sherman’s Army of the Tennessee), via Nashville, Fouts was assigned for temporary combat duty at Nashville along with other recruits and also veterans returning to active service. He was placed in Colonel A. G. Mallory’s brigade, Capt. C. C. Cox’s battalion, and participated in the reconnaissance of December 13th along the Murfreesboro Pike toward the Rains farm. Mallory’s brigade suffered 10 total casualties. Fouts joined the 9th Iowa in March 1865, and was discharged at Louisville, KY On July 18, 1865.
Letter written by Private Thomas C. Potter of Battery B, 1st OH Light Artillery, to his siblings, from a camp near Murfreesboro, TN.In it he describes the events of the Battle of Stones River up to the evacuation of Murfreesboro by Confederate forces. He recounts that on New Year’s Day, there was “heavy skirmishing on picket” to relieve the Chicago Board of Trade Battery. Throughout the night, he could hear the Confederates working on their entrenchments. The next day, the Confederates opened fire on the 7th Light Artillery. Within three minutes every man had been hit or driven away. Potter’s regiment endured firing from the Confederate forces until ordered to fall back. Potter considers himself lucky, for he escaped with only singed eyebrows. The morning of January 3rd brought the sounds of Confederate artillery as they opened fire on the camp. Firing continued until the evening. Murfreesboro was evacuated that night, and the next morning Potter walked through the battlefield and saw soldiers burying their dead comrades. Potter writes favorably of General William Rosecrans, and says that the “army fairly adores him.”
In Camp 2-1/2 miles from Murfreesboro, Tennessee on
Mc Mcanville Turnpike. Monday morning Jan 12th 1863
Dear brother and sister
Perhaps you may be interested to know what part our battery took in the late great drama before Murfreesboro. I propose to give below the outlines of our movements since leaving Nash[ville] up to the evacuation of Murfreesboro by the enemy’s force under Gen. Bragg. We left our camp near Nashville Friday morning, Dec. the 26th, our brigade taking the advance on the Mur[freesboro] road.We found the enemy in considerable force near the little town of Lavergne, some 14 miles from Nashville, determined to dispute our farther advance. This soon brought on a splendid artillery skirmish which lasted until day, when we went into camp on the same ground. The only casualty of our company was John Blanchard, seriously injured by a premature discharge. Saturday 27th formed our line soon after sunrise; drove the enemy before us with slight loss on our side, went into camp that night within 10 miles of Murfreesboro. Here we stay until Monday morning, the 29th, when we pushed forward, the enemy disputing every inch of ground. Went into camp with our line formed and skirmishers out before the Rebel line of earthworks within some 2-1/2 miles of Murfreesboro. Tuesday 30th formed our line some four miles in length. heavy skirmishing along the whole line all day very heavy artillery firing all day from both sides. Our casualties of the day one of our wheel horses shot through the heart by a musket ball – Camped for the night on the same ground as the night before – Wednesday morning the 31st. This morning the grand ball opened on our right. Our battery was stationed at the point known as the Cedar point, on the right center. Our line at this point was formed in the shape of a crescent. Our brigade formed the advance. As you would say, [it] was the point most advanced. In our rear was the cedar thicket. In our front and right was a large corn field. Joining this on the left was the noted cotton field, through which the Rebel masses, maddened
and half crazy by whisky and gunpowder – which had been dealt out to them in large quantities – made charge after charge up to within 30 yards of the muzzles of our guns, in solid columns, despite shot, shell, and canister that tore great gaps in their ranks. But [their ranks] were quickly closed up again, and a perfect storm of musketry. Never did I see men face the music. When so close to our guns they pulled their hats over their eyes so that they could not see the flash of our pieces, and moved up as steadily as if they were on the parade ground. After our ammunition was all expended, we were ordered to the rear to replenish and refill our empty [ammo] chests. Until that time I did not notice the peculiar form that our division had assumed – Gen. Negley, on our right, had fallen back, thus uncovering our right flank. And two Rebel brigades occupied that ground that he left. Our division had assumed the form of a triangle, and was fighting on four fronts. Everything on our right had fallen back, and one battery on our left, and two on our right had been captured by the enemy. And as we passed to the rear over the ground where we were in camp the night before, we passed over large numbers of the enemy’s dead that had fallen in our rear. We were held as a reserve the remainder of the day. Our casualties of the day [were]: Sergeant George Wolf of Cleveland, struck by a shell -killed instantly; Orderly Sergeant L.T. Thompson, struck by a spent James solid shot (weighing 12-1/2 pounds) has since died; John Elliott (Troy) wounded in small of his back (I afterward found him dead on the field); Samuel Ruple (Cleveland) shot through the neck by a ball from a spherical case shot from a 6 pdr. & since died; and some 12 others wounded. I think that they will all recover. In this day’s work we had 15 horses killed or disabled. Thursday (New Year’s Day) very heavy skirmishing on picket to relieve the Chicago Board of Trade Battery
We took our position; no. 1 and 2 and 3 pieces in the center, no. 4,5 and 6 pieces were just to the right. From 400 yards distant, and on our left the 4th Indiana Battery was formed on the same line with us. Our infantry support lay just to our rear under cover of the ridge on which we stood, while in front and about 600 yards distant running in a parallel line with us was a skirt of timber, which was in the hands of the enemy. Our skirmishers were about 100 yards in front of the battery. All night long we could hear the Rebels working on their entrenchments in the woods in front. Soon after daylight our skirmishers and theirs commenced amusing themselves by trying the accuracy of their rifles. Then the 7th Indiana B[attery] opened and drove their skirmishers back into the woods. Then one of Gen. Rosecrans’ staff officers rode up and gave positive orders not to fire unless we saw large masses of the enemy. He had hardly rode out of sight when the Rebels opened on the 7th L[ight] A[rtillery] with four batteries which they had masked in the woods during the night, and not more than 400 yards distant. Well, I have been in several warm places in my time, but this was a few degrees warmer than any place that I ever saw or imagined (in this everybody who saw or heard agreed with me). Within three minutes they drove every man away from the guns of the 7th Battery, and killed and crippled up the horses so that they were obliged to leave their guns on the field. They [Rebels] then concentrated their fire on our three guns; we were laying still on the ground a few minutes with a terrific storm of shot, shell, and canister flying over and around us. It seemed just as if they would sweep us from the ground, when a shell struck just ahead of us and filled our faces with mud. This was more than Lieutenant Baldwin could stand. He sprang up with, “come boys and give them …” We opened on them with a will, but the
infernal missiles howling around us. After we had fired about ten rounds a piece, the lieutenant ordered us to fall back, or we would lose every man and horse that all had. By this time, two of our batteries had taken position on the ridge about 600 yards in our rear, and opened on the batteries on our front. We succeeded in disentangling our dead horses. We got our piece back under cover of the other batteries. No. 2 piece, the boys pulled off with one horse (5 being killed on that piece), and no. 3 had to leave their piece on the ground until we got ours under cover, and went back and pulled it off by hand. Our loss on this occasion: Chauncey Lyons (driver from Lorain Co., Ohio) struck by a solid shot, killed instantly; N. Lerone, struck by a fragment of a shell slightly; Wm. Grant, slightly, and 7 horses killed. For my part, I considered myself fortunate to escape with my hair and eyebrows singed by the explosion of a 12 pdr. shell. I chanced to have one of Waverly’s novels in my overcoat pocket, and the same explosion set it on fire. The fragments of the shell I avoided by throwing myself flat on the ground within three feet of it. As the boys term it, “comes the drop down on it,” Well, we refilled our ammunition chests and picked up horses enough to make up for our lost ones. About 4 o’clock p.m. the enemy made a furious assault on our left wing nearly half of a mile. As half of our battery was still out to the front, were we not ordered out until sometime after the engagement had grown pretty lively. When we arrived on the ground, our reserves were just ordered forward to charge the Rebel masses that were moving through a large field in great force. They stayed their ground like veterans, but they could not stand such a fierce artillery fire and a charge at the same time. They gave way in some confusion, and fell back to their first line of earthworks. From [this] we soon dislodged them, by bringing up nearly 50
pieces of artillery to enfilade their rifle pits. It was here that Colonel Stanley’s brigade charged and captured four pieces of the famous Washington white horse battery of New Orleans. Our boys drove them in splendid style until darkness closed in their favor, and saved them from a perfect rout. If we had had two hours more of daylight, we would have went into Murfreesboro. Thus closed the 2d day of Jan. (’63). Saturday the 3rd. Our reveille this morning was the deep toned thunder of Rebel artillery, as they opened on our camp with four batteries – probably as a cloak to cover their evacuation. Heavy skirmish firing along our whole line. The ball closed by a heavy musketry engagement, commencing at 6 P.M. and closing at 9:30 P.M. was occasioned by our infantry advancing down the pike, driving the Rebels from their first line of rifle pits. It was a splendid
sight from where we were on a ridge, nearly half a mile in rear of our men, with an open field between us. It appeared like two long sheets of flame, with now and then a change of scene as forth belched red artillery. The only thing disagreeable to a spectator was sometimes a few rifle bullets would sing along overhead, far back in the timber. Sunday morning the 4th; All quiet. Murfreesboro had been evacuated during the previous night. After breakfast, I started out to take a view of our first day’s battleground, which was about one mile distant. I passed along musing on our probable loss. The field was alive with little silent groups. ‘Twas plain to see their occupation: burying their fallen comrades
reaching the cedars, passed through them and came out near where our battery was engaged. I passed along among a group of our own and the enemy’s dead, when a familiar face, upturned and ghostly, startled me. A nearer view assured me that I was not mistaken. It was the earthly remains of poor John Elliott (of Troy). I covered his face and hastened back to the battery. Two of his messmates returned with me, and selecting a quiet spot, committed him to his last resting place – peace to his ashes. He was a noble hearted boy, a brave soldier, one that was beloved and respected by both officers and men. Sister, please pardon me for passing in silence over the horrid, ghastly details of this fatal tragedy this great military drama. I refer you to the periodicals for the shadow, and yet you draw on
your imagination for the balance. Well, on Monday, the 5th, we moved to our present position. Where the Rebels are now is more than I know madam rumor says that they are coming back to see us, but I think Gen. Bragg has seen just as much of Gen. Rosecrans at present as he wants to. Well, our army has implicit confidence in our general commanding. He was with us in the thickest of the fight, everywhere directing the movements himself. Our army fairly adores him. Well, I must close. I have written this in great haste. I guess it will take you some time to read it. I wrote a few hurried lines to you from the field. Did you get it? Write soon. Remember me to all inquiring friends.
Total number of shots fired from the battery 1670
Private Thomas Corwin Potter enlisted at age 20 on September 5, 1861 in Battery B, 1st Ohio Light Artillery. He served with his unit in combat at Mill Springs, Perryville, Stones River, and Chickamauga. On Sept. 20, 1863, at the Battle of Chickamauga, Pvt. Potter was mortally injured when both of his arms were blown off by the premature discharge of his gun. He died the following morning at 3:00 A. M., and was later buried in the National Cemetery at Chattanooga.
Letter written by Private Cecil Fogg of Company B, 36th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, to his father from a camp near Elk River, TN. Fogg comments on the weather and road conditions since leaving Murfreesboro, and mentions an encounter with Confederate troops at Beach Grove. He describes marching to Manchester and Tullahoma, and writes that they captured prisoners and took some corn meal to eat. They discovered that the Elk River bridge had been destroyed, and heavy rains made it too dangerous to cross on foot, so they were forced to travel out of their way to an older bridge. There are rumors of Union victories in locations such as Vicksburg or Richmond, though Fogg is skeptical.
Camp near Elk River, Tenn. July 10th/63
I have written 2 or 3 letters since we left Murfreesboro, but I was in such a hurry each time that I don’t know whether I told you anything or not. We would only have about 15 minutes’ notice to write our letters in, and there was no ink, and but little paper, etc. to be got. We sent back our knapsacks, and we could not carry such things very well. We had dry weather before we left Murfreesboro. We left there on the 24th of June. It commenced raining that day, and rained nearly all the time for 3 days, and it rained every day but one since, till yesterday. There has been no rain here since day before yesterday, but the roads are awful, and teams can hardly get along at all. We were stopped 2 days at Beach Grove by the
Rebels. On the 3rd night they slipped off in the dark and we did not discover it till about noon the next day. Our brigade went on 12 miles in the afternoon, and camped a few miles from Manchester. We went in to Manchester the next morning and stayed there that day and the next. The next day we started on toward Tullahoma, and went to within about 5 miles of the place. There were 2 showers that day, about as hard as I ever seen it rain. It rained about 2 hours each time, and we were in it all. We could hear the [rail]cars at Tullahoma all that night, and the next night. Our regt. was out skirmishing the day before, and the night that the Rebs left town. We could hear the cars all the time, but couldn’t tell whether they were leaving, or receiving reinforcements. We went into town the next day and camped about a mile west of town that night. The town is,
or was before the war, about as large as Withesville. It looks like a town built in the woods. Where we were the ground is not needed [kneaded?]; the trees are left standing and the town is well shaded. We left there the next morning and came to Elk River, where we camped that night. We captured a few prisoners, and a large quantity of corn meal at Tullahoma, and a great deal of meal had been destroyed by the Rebs. We brought some of the meal along with us, and it came in very good play when our crackers ran out. The day we got to Elk River the bridge was destroyed, and we went up the river about 2 miles to a ford where the most of the 14th A. C. had crossed. It was pretty late when we got there, and we camped on the north bank that night, calculating to cross in the
morning. But it rained that night and raised the river so high that we could not cross. Some regts. crossed, but they lost some men and a good many guns. The water came up to the necks of the shortest men, and it is a very swift stream. We had to go way around, about 4 or 5 miles, to get back to the old bridge, which the pioneers were repairing. We stayed there that night and the next day. They had got the bridge fixed up so that we could cross, and we crossed that morning (the 4th) and came 2 or 3 miles this side of the river and went into camp. We heard National salutes all around us and ahead of us. Besides that, we heard any amount of stories of great victories gained by our armies in the East, and Vicksburg, Richmond, etc. But we all had the privilege of believing just as much as we chose to of it. And I did not chose to believe any of it.
[rest of letter missing]
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.
Letter written by Colonel William R. “Pecos Bill” Shafter of the 17th U.S. Colored Troops to his sister Ann Shafter Aldrich, from Nashville, Tennessee. Shafter is writing to his sister after the death of her husband, Captain Job Aldrich, at the Battle of Nashville. Shafter found his body on the field the next morning and will send Job’s belongings home. He also mentions that Captain Gideon Ayers was killed, along with 110 others.
Dec 19th 1864
My Dear Sis,
For the first time since the fight of the 15th inst. I have had time and opportunity to write you[.] It is useless to attempt by words to soothe your sorrow, and though you are the sorest afflicted, believe me when I say that you have shed no bitterer tears than I when I found poor Job. He was as dear to me as either of my own brothers. It was an awful battle, Sis, and we are of the many who are called to mourn. Job seemed to have a presentment that he should die, and the night before the fight wrote you a letter, the most affecting I ever read. He left it with Hattie [Col. Shafter’s wife, who was visiting Nashville] to send you if anything happened. Hattie will bring it to you in a day or two with the rest of his things. I hope his boys will remember the last words of their father. Job never knew what hurt him. He did not suffer an instant. May my last
end be like his! He died for his country, than which there can be nothing more glorious. He left all his money and valuables in camp. Hattie has them. The circumstances were these. We were ordered to drive the enemy out of a piece of woods and take the battery on the other side. We drove them from the woods, but there was just in front of the battery a deep cut (r.r.) at least twenty feet deep. We went to that and had to stop. Job was killed there. We had to leave him. I was on the right side of the regt., and did not know he was killed till we had fallen back, or I should have seen him off. We got the ground in the morning and I was the first to find him. He lay on his face. The Rebs had taken all his clothes, everything. I had him taken up and sent to town. I had to go on myself for another fight. We have been in [the field] two days since, and last night the regt. left Franklin for Murfreesboro. We go from there to Tuscumbia, Ala. I came back after ammunition and leave at daylight tomorrow. I hope I shall get through safe. Jim is sick and can’t go. Hattie will be home in a day or two.
I will get Job’s things all fixed up without a bit of trouble to you. Be of good heart, Sis. I feel for you from the bottom of my heart. I will write soon again.
Love to all,
Your aff. Brother,
Col. Wm. R. Shafter, 17th U.S.C.T. letter Dec. 19, 1864 – 2
Capt. Gid[eon] Ayers was killed at the time Job was. He was left on the field, did not die for an hour or two. The Rebs stripped him while yet alive, and begging them not to hurt him so. One of the wounded men lay right beside him. Our wounded that were left were not hurt, but all the dead ones were stripped. 110 of my men & several officers were killed and wounded.
-Written crosswise on Page 1-
The good die first, while those whose hearts are dry as summer dust burn to the socket.
Colonel William Rufus Shafter, enrolled as a 1st lieutenant in the 7th Michigan Infantry on Aug. 22, 1861 and mustered out Aug. 22, 1862. He was appointed major of the 19th MI Infantry on Sept. 5, 1862, and promoted to lieutenant colonel on June 5, 1863. He was captured at Thompson’s Station, TN in March of 1863. Shafter became colonel of the 17th USCT on April 19, 1864, and received a brevet to brigadier general, March 13, 1865 for war service. He mustered out November 2, 1866, but was appointed lt. col. of the 41st US Infantry, July 28, 1866, colonel of 1st US Infantry, March 4, 1879, brig. gen. May 3, 1897, and maj. gen. of volunteers, May 4, 1898. He as dubbed “Pecos Bill” while commanding the V Corps during the Spanish American War. He was awarded the MEDAL OF HONOR June 12, 1895 for his actions at Fair Oaks, VA on May 31, 1862. After a long and distinguished service Shafter was retired as a major general of volunteers July 1, 1901.
Job Aldrich, the owner of a hardware store at Galesburg, MI, enrolled as a 1st lieutenant and adjutant in his brother-in-law’s regiment, the 17th USCT, on Dec. 21st 1863 at the age of 35. In October 1864, Job was appointed to a vacancy in Co. G as captain. He was killed instantly by gunfire on Dec. 15, 1865 at the Battle of Nashville. He and his wife, Ann Eliza Shafter Aldrich, (married to Job November 5, 1856, remarried to William Decker, July 1867) had three children: James H. (Dec. 3, 1858); Hugh S. (May 30, 1861); and Willard S. (June 27, 1863).