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Robert S. Dilworth Papers: Transcripts - MS 800
Camp Strong, Athens, Ala.
Aug 7th 62
I will begin this with a continuation of my life in camp. Yest. I finished my old book and started it for its destination by the politeness of John Gerntner. But a long trestle bridge 6 miles north of Elk River had sunk with a train the day before and the train enrout for Nashville could not pass. So he had to take the other end of the road that is by way of Stephenson.
Mercury run to 103 today. We have just received word that Gen. O.M. Mitchell would be to Huntsville tomorrow. We have received orders to strike tents tomorrow morning and pitch them in the courthouse yard in Athens. The order was read on dress parade. So we will move in the morning. No more from camp Strong.
Court House, Athens, Ala.
Aug 8th 62
Morning calm & hot. The night was one of uncommon warmth. I did not sleep untill near 11 P.M. When I departed for the land of dreams from which I was hurried back by the sharp report of one of our rifles. Then came the order from Col. Jim. The roll! The roll! The next was fall out! fall out! in old Jim's sonorous accents. The roll of the drums then awakened the still repose of the night. Then if you could just have been some place where you could have seen the bustle of soldiers & heard the clank of swords and the ratling of bayonets. Co.G was the 2d on the ground, Co.C having proceeded us. But we formed on the co. parade ground and they, co. (C) formed as they run and after they got to the line of battle. Old Col. Jim said hurry up comps! Co.G will beat you all again and we would if we had done as did the rest. Cos A & I was the last to get out. The cause of the alarm was not the firing of the pickets but one of Co.I's boys, John Schwab was up and saw a citizen pass & halted him but he thought perhaps he had best not stop & he (Schwab) fired at him but (as he said) without effect. I think he did it on purpose to bore Co.D. It had just come to camp from Elk River & with Co.D the whole regt & not only the infantry but also the cav & artillery were bored. And if you had heard the oaths which were given vent to by the artillery boys when they knew that it was a bore. They had their horses all to rig & c & c. We did not remain in line but a few minutes & then Schwab came and informed Neibling of the fact. We were then dismissed and marched to our quarters. The night passed of without any further molestation. We were up before the sun & had our breakfast & then came the preparation to march. We left at 10 A.M. and by 1 P.M. took dinner in camp at the courthouse. Our regt is camped around the court house & the artillery is placed on the square commanding the entrance to town. We have cotton sufficient to blockade the streets so that cav cannot possibly make a charge.
Col. McCook of late acting brig gen was shot on his way to Huntsville. He was in the ambulance and the division sutlers train was with him. He was sick and on his way to Huntsville to put up until he would be able to join his com,d. The secesh took him out of the ambulance & shot him and shot the sutler in the leg. About 5 days since McCook passed through this town. He wished to stop and put up at the hotel in this place but they would not admit him for any fee. On Thursday the secesh burned a lot of meat & flour enroute for Athens to supply the destitute citizens. One of cap Albans boys was sent out to guard a citizens property a mile outside the pickets. The old gentleman told him his son a capt in the southern army was coming home to see him but for him not to say anything about it, he was but coming to see him and then going back. Well he came & the guard did not say anything about it. The old man gave his son an introduction to the guard. The son drew a revolver and told him he was his prisoner. But said he I will make it all right with you, (The guard was paying his distresses to the old man's daughter) I will give you a parole of honor. The guard passed right by his gun into the house and received his parole. This occurred the 24th of July & he said nothing about it untill Tuesday night. That is the kind of soldiers some fellows are. We are in the most pleasant place yet. The yard is full of locusts. Most beautiful indeed. Capt. Alban has gone to Huntsville to see Buell concerning this recruiting expedition, but I must stop writing.
Courthouse, Athens, Alabama
Aug 9th 62
The solemn tones of the town clock woke me this morning as it toled the the hour of 5. The shrill notes of the bugel as it sound out the reveille. Then came the ratling of the snare drums calling out the soldier to roll call. Breakfast at 1/2 5. The cars came in from Huntsville bound for the north. There is rather an excitement in camp. Col. Neibling swore a good deal about the guard neglecting his duty. He swore he would have him court marshalled & shot. He scared the boy so that he absconded friday night. He had written 2 letters, one to a lady in Fairfield Co. & told her in it that he would see her soon. He stated that he was going home. He did not mail these letters. He I presume was sharp enough and wrote this letter to fool the Col. I think he will not go to the north at all. The cars came in but no Alban or mail either. Mercury runs to 103 today. Dress parade at 6 1/2 P.M. Old Jim had Lieut. Monroe put under arrest for asking to hear the story of the boy of Co.F who was taken prisoner. Old Col. Jim swore he would not believe him under oath and arrested Monroe. Old Jim is capable of doing as mean an act as any Ohio soldier from the state. We have a nice time catching fleas in the morning when we are arranging our cots. Roll call at the usual hour. But it is bed time. I have gotten in a nice Batarry. But the bugler sounds put out the lights so good night.
Courthouse, Athens, Ala.
Sab. morning clear & hot. Roll call 5 A.M., breakfast 5 1/2. Cars came in and with them came cap. Alban with the papers for the recruiting officers. There was also a big mail. I received 3 letters. One from L.A.B., one from Mrs. Bowman & one from sister Angie, all of which I answered immediately. Cap Cusac, Lieut. Wiley of Co.C & one non com from each Co. they start in the morning. I did not get to church today or sabbath school either. Capt. & Porter are both unwell. And I have the business of the Co. to attend to. And have 3 letters to read & answer. The ballance of the time I spend with my bible & the religious emblems. The boys most of them attend sabbath school and negro meeting. We have roll call at 5, 10, 12, 3, 6 & 1/2 8. Dress parade at 6 P.M. When the orderlies were called upon to report the orderly of Co. F reported all present or accounted for (He having reported the deserter the evening before) a citizen said that is was a d lie for there was one man which was not accounted for. He also said that all the orderlies were damned liars. As soon as parade was dismissed the orderlies followed him and gave him a sound whipping & then brought him to the cols. quarters. He was committed to prison. He was in the sutlers shanty and drunk a toste to Jeff Davis & the southern confederacy & was not molested. All quite tonight but I must close for today. Good night dear one!
Court House Yard, Athens, Al
Mond. Aug 11th /62
Clear & hot as ever. Mercury at 9 A.M. stood 92, at 11 98, at 1 P.M. 103, at 3, 104 & at 6 98 & at 8 90. Does not that run up well for 8 P.M. The heat is very oppresive. The train came in at 1 1/2 P.M. remained 30 minutes and then started enroute for Nashvill, Tenn., bearing with it cap Cusac, Lieut Wiley of Co.C & 10 non coms enroute for Ohio on a recruiting expedition for the 21st O.V. I was sorry to see cap leave & yet I was glad on his own & families account. We had dress parad at 6 1/2. When the guns came down to an order arms the citizens looked kind of wild to hear 755 guns come down as one gun. They say that, that beat any thing they ever saw. They think there is no danger of us being attack so long as we remain in town. We have roll call 6 times a day. Tattoo at 8 1/2 P.M. But I must close for the night. Good by for a short time.
Camp in the Court Yard, Athens, Ala.
Tu, Aug 12th / 62
Clear and hot today. Mercury to to 109 yesterday, at 9 P.M. it stood at 89. This morning at 6 it run to 86, at 10, 97, at 3 P.M. it stood 111 & at 6 101 & at 8 at 92, but it is getting late & I must hurry up or I will not be through against bed time, the bugle sounds put out the lights. We had dress parad at 6 1/2 and had a splendid parad. We sent out 20 men & one Lieut on an expedition after some cav who are concentrating and are drilling within 16 miles from here. These 20 went with the cavalry. They were mounted. We had a negro dance here in camp tonight. It is reported that Gen. Mitchell arrived at Huntsville today and will visit us this week. I trust this is true. But of this anon I will close for the night, so I wish you a happy night & pleasant dreams attend you.
Courthouse, Athens, Ala.
W. August 13th / 62
Morning clear & hot as usual. Our boys who went out last night for the purpose of a scout & c came in this morning at daybreak. They took 4 prisoners & 6 horses pretty well. The men were home on furlough. 6 of them came home & were reported to us. We sent out those scouts and they took 4, but 2 make good their retreat. These 4 were tried and found guilty. Col. Jim gave them their choice either to go north or take the oath. They choze the latter and were dismissed to go to their homes to make glad the hearts of mothers, brothers, sisters & sweethearts. Their sweethearts are different from mine. Mine would not be glad to see me return with a blemish on my cause or character. Would she? Lois, The trouble commences now since cap is gone. Porter is so partial. He has 6 of the boys on extra duty already. Mercury runs to 103 today. Very cool this evening 84 at 8 P.M. But I must close for the night. We had a good dress parade the evening. Good night and may pleasant dreams attend you. God bless & preserve you forever
Courthouse, Athens, Ala.
Aug 14th /62
This day one year since, I arrived at Findlay to witness what the friends of the soldier could & were willing to do for those who had volunteered their services in the defence of their country. This day one year since, I left Columbus enroute for my home to see those whom my heart holds dear. This day one year since I arrived at the house of my dearest Lois's father. This day one year since I clasped the honor of her whom I then esteemed & loved, but not with that rapture which now fills my whole being when I think the name of Lois. I arrived at the gate which shuts in the cottage of my dearest friend one year since. 8 P.M. & one year has elapsed since that time. At that time & place I said to my own heart thou dearest girl shall be mine if heaven and the powers infinite agree thereto. Do you blame me? Nara [nary a?] time. I know you do not. But you would have done so then. Gen. Turchan has been cashiered and passed through today for home. The cars have been fired into. We draw a new suit today--Blouse, cap, shirts & drawers & c & c. They boys looked well on parade. We marched out on parade to the tune of Dixy & from thence to qrtrs to my favorite, The Girl I left behind me. There is a man here from the north, a cotton buyer. The colored population are very busy moving cotton from the square to the cars. I sent out Conrad Noss's discharge & descriptive roll to him at Huntsville, Ala. I have likewise started out J.A. Hills papers for approval to Gen. Buell. I.J.B.'s & old Mr. Mosgraves papers came back not approved. 2 boys came to the company from the hospt, one who was a waiter (?) 2 months & one who had been sick of home sickness. The boys are having a good time dancing. D. Leiter is fidling, but I must quit for the night. A happy night to you dearest Lois.
Courthouse, Athens, Alabama
August 15th 62---
Morning broke clear and cool after a night of rain and storm. The rain commenced about 2 A.M. and rained a torent for about one hour. The water stood about 4 inches deep all over the camp & the streets in town. No dust to be seen today. W.D. Cummins & G.W. Davis went down the railroad about 12 miles yest. to get potatoes, eggs, butter, apples & peaches. They were to return on the evening train. The train came. Morning came the noon train, the evening train came & no news of the boys. The report came in today that a cotton factory (in the neighborhood where the boys went for provisions & c.) had been burned yesterday by a band of guerrillas. We could see the smoke all afternoon and at dark we could distinguish the fire plainly. It is reported in camp that Com. F's boy which had been taken prisoner had returned to the house of the old man whom he had been guarding, and got his 2 horse carriage and rig, the old mans daughter & has eloped for further Dixy. We had a splendid dress parade tonight--a splendid tune led off in beating troop. The band beat down in front the length of the battallion and performed a grand sacia [sashay?]. Then the band commenced and beat up to the upper end (or rather the right wing of the battallion. Where it ceased. The closing march was played to the tune of the dear little girl I left behind me. Oh! How sentimental this tune. That tune always cheers me. To think that there is a sweet little one with mild blue eyes and lilly cheek and loving heart always beating for me. Me, away down in Dixy. Nothing so dear to me as the remembrance of that one. 2 evenings in succession has the band played this my favorite. I would that they would play it every night. I put up a package of letters (which I have received of my own darling Lois) in one pack and to that tied one of my own with a blue silk ribon and then them home, not from any disrespect but because I did not deem it safe to keep them here in camp. I nearly sent them to her to keep for me untill my return & then I will claim them as my property. But I must close for the night. A happy night & may pleasant dreams attend you. By, by, They are calling the roll once more. By, by, Lois.
Courthouse, Athens, Ala.
Aug 16th /62
Morning broke in clear, cool & windy. Roll call as usual 6 times today. Nothing of any moment occurred today. We had battalion drill this evening from 6 to 7 P.M. We had a nice time. We received praise from Col. Jim. We formed on that street running north & south on the east side of the square & from thence we marched out to the fair ground followed by a crowd of citizens, all eager to see that of which they had never either red or heard. Porter ordered 4 of the boys on extra duty and excused John Leiter who was worse than any of the others. He has the boys all but 2 or 3 down on him. He went up to Huntsville this evening & won't be back till tomorrow evening & that will prevent me from attending church tomorrow. We had a splendid dress parade tonight. Old Col. Jim charged the orderlies to see that the men came out in good order with their guns & equippage in good stile, clean clothes and everything in good order. But I must quit for the night. Good night dearest Lois.
Sabbath, Aug 17th 62
The morning broke in clear and calm. The sabbath bells were ringing briskly, the church going bells. The boys were nearly all at church today. There is Baptist, Presbyterian, M.E. & colored meeting here in town. They are all secesh but the ebony sons & daughters, Africa's race. The cars came in but no mail. We had inspection today. We came out on the com parade ground for inspection by the orderly. I was just coming out as the col. came around. He gave the Co. & orderly this praise & said he: I had intended to have general inspection but you all look so well that I will not call you out. He said he would let us off with comp inspection. I inspected the company & dismissed them untill after meeting. They were nearly all anxious to attend church. Porter returned after inspection. He came back intoxicated & not fit for duty. We had dress parad at the usual hour. I have nothing to do in the line of guard duty. How glad I am. I have time to read & write. I am pretty near through those emblems again. Oh! What a consolation it is to read that book. To think on the giver & then take the sun glass and look at that picture. It just looks exact like the original. The sun glass bring it to the natural size. It is natures own image. Our forces at Huntsville are fortifying. They expect an attack at Bridgeport every day. But is time to stop writing, the bugle says put out lights so good night & may pleasant dreams attend you & may your life & health be precious in the eyes of him with whom we all have to do. By, by for tonight.
Mond. Aug 18th 62
Calm, clear & cool. Very pleasant. The mail train came in and with it a big mail for the 21st. I received a large letter from my Lois. I answered it immediately. Some of the officers of the 21st (who have no respect for themselves or no one else) with some of the privates of the same stripe did that last night which caused a guard to be placed around camp & which if it were known by the ladies at home would for ever sink them in the estimation of those of the more refined & virtuous of the fair sex. The 2 officers who are the worst are the 2 who reported to Col. Neibling. Shame on them forever. 1st Lieut. of Co.I Wood by name & 1st of Co.A & quartermaster of the 21st O.V. Dan Lewis by name. & yet they would wish to be called gentlemen. It does not look well for me to talk about my own sex & that to a lady, but I know who I am talking to. We are one & she has a right to know what I do. Our artillery is ordered to Nashville, Tenn. with the cav, leaving us without artillery or cavalry. It is rumored that we will be sent to Nashville. That the rebels have crossed the river at Chatanooga & made a feint at Bridgeport & then marched for Nashville. I will not vouch for this yet. But more of this anon if it be true. We have a prayer meeting established, a soldiers meeting. Lead by old Mr. Bearse of Vanburen, O. He is a verry fine old man and has a great gift in prayer. The meetings are held in the Methodist church, Sab 1 P.M., Tu & Th at 3 P.M. There are more peaches here in this country than I ever saw in any country. I am saving some seed of the nicest & best. We have all the watermelon we desire. We have all the nice potatoes we want. We get plenty of butter. But then such butter you never saw. The cows must have been fed on turnips and red flannel. The butter is so spotted, yellow & white & then white & yellow all through. I was sorry to hear that D.S. had enlisted & was to report the 15th, for cap Cusac would be at home the 15th & he could have come to the 21st O.V. We had a nice dress parade tonight, roll call at the usual hour. But I must quit for tonight by invoking the blessing of God upon you my dearest friend. Good night and may pleasant dreams attend you. No more for the night. By by dearest Lois.
Courthouse, Athens, Alabam
August 19th / 62
Morn. Damp & lowering. Our artillery left to day for Nashville, Tenn. The 1st Wisconsin left Huntsville yest for the same place. There are 1000 rebels at Spring Hill, Tenn. J.S. Robb went down to Spring Hill today to see his brother. He lives at that place. Jake could not get a pass untill this morning. I wrote him a pass to pass the guards & he passed by the conductor to Spring Hill, Tenn. & back. Guard mounting 8 1/2 P.M. Officer of the Day Capt. Canfield of co.K, Officer of Guard Lieut Prior of Co.H, from Go. G 4 privates field guard Picket 8 privates one Sergt. The reason why capt. Walker of Co.B, 21st O.V. resigned his post as provost marshall of Athens, Alabama was this: His pass would pass a citizen whenever he wished to go & col. Neibling would not allow his pass to pass a soldier. He therefore told old Jim that they could not agree. And if his pass would not pass a soldier as well as a citizen he would not act any longer. The citizens say they bought our col. & they would buy our Lieut. Col. & I believe it. Our artillery which was with us here was ordered to Nashville, Tenn. and left this morning. A dispatch came in ordering them back & from here to Richmond, VA. They left by car this evening. But I must close for tonight. By by. A happy night.
Courthouse, Athens, Ala.
Wednesday August 20th 62
The morning broke in cloudy. But sultry, very hot today. There is a new battery at Murfreesboro, Tenn. enroute for the 21st O.V. They are going to remain with us. There are numberless rumors here concerning Norton. Some report him in the army at Richmond and having received a Maj. Generals posish in the secesh army, others report him at home at Perrysburg. Some at Canada & some as having made tracks from Washington & don't know where he has gone to. You ought to see the negroes here on Sabbath days at church. More silks & satins than are displayed in the town of Findlay & it is not half such a town as Findlay. We are put down to 1/2 rations again untill the bridges are repared which were burned and sunken. We have gotten no mail yesterday or today & the Nashville papers say we will not untill the road [railroad?] is repared which will be ere long. Capt. Stoughton took his seat as provost marshall yest. I supposed business will go off briskly now. Cap is one of the greatest flirts in the regt. He turns up his nose at nearly all the rest of the officers of the regt. Guard mounting 8 1/2, Officer of the Day Capt. Vantine of Co.I, Officer of Guard Lieut. Patterson of co.K, from co.G 4 privates for picket guard 8 privates one corp. We have orders to be ready to pack & move at any moment. Buell is threatened & if Beauregard & Bragg (who are cooperating together) have too much for Buell at Bridgport & Chatanooga we will have to fall back on Nashville, Tenn. But I must close. We had a good dress parade tonight. I have not been on parade for 2 evenings, my health being such as to prevent me going on parade. Good night & may pleasant dreams attend you. Yours devotedly.
Court House, Athens, Ala.
Th Aug 21st /62
Still, cool & cloudy. Very pleasant today. I had rather a time in the land of dreams, the thought I was at the house of my own dear one. I entered the house. I met her mother who was in tears. She met & kissed me. I met her father & returned the salutation. But no Lois. I was talking with the family when I heard a still small voice from the room I recognized the voice altho altered badly. I entered the room & there found my dearest Lois laid on a bed and sick of a fever. I put my lips to hers & found them parched with fever & her face & temples flushed and burning under the influence of the hectic fever which was wasting & preying upon my own dear one, the dearest idol on earth & without which life would be a blank. Then would I live for my God alone. Now I live with the trust & hope that I may enjoy her smiles through life & after death in the presence of our glorious Redeamer share with her a blessed felicity in the region of the blessed. I put no trust or confidence in dreams, yet I cannot but feel that there is some trouble hanging over the fate of my own little Love. I know that our hopes, our aims, our aspirations are one. Our spirits are blended in one & what the one suffers will affect the other also. But may the God of life & love look upon his children and keep them for each other untill this cruel rebellion has been crushed out and we in peace enjoy or loving and beloved home in peace & be blessed with the presence of each other. May God for his own dear Son's sake grant this my prayer. There are 20,000 troops coming this way enroute for Chatanooga to back up Buell & his force. We are put upon 1/2 rations for the purpose of feeding those troops when they pass. There is an old secesh here in town who has $9,000 buried here some where. But it cannot be found or has not been as yet. Lieut. Wicker of Co.K called as officer of Guard for Tomorrow. But he had been out on an excursion into the country & ____? and stole a 4 horse wagon load of melons and brot them into camp & was selling them out to the boys to from 15 to 75 cts apiece. He (Wicker) was not on dress parade & col. Jim sent for him to report to his quarters. He did so & was arrested. I was not on dress parad. I had reported to the doctor and was excused from duty. Old Jim sent for me. I sent him word to call on the doctor & he would find out why I did not appear on parade. He sent for me again. I sent him word if he wished to see me worse than I wanted to see him he could call & see me. But it all passed off. He did not call to see me nor I did not go to see him. I have not missed duty when I am well & when I am not I will not turn around for old Jim. He is a man I cannot esteem. He does that which does not become an officer, but of this anon. There were 11 Alabamiens came in today to join the Union Army. We reported them to headquarters. They are awaiting the train to go to Huntsville to join the Alabama regt. The train from Nashville did not come in today. It was fired into at or near the tunnel. The mail train did not come in from Huntsville. They reason why I do not know. We had a very nice parade tonight, altho I was not on yet I was out to see the parade. The tattoo has just been beat & they are calling the roll. But I must quit writing for tonight. A happy night & may pleasant dreams attend you. God bless you dear one.
Courthouse, Athens, Alabama
August 22d /62
Damp & louring this morning. Wet through the day. The train from the north has not come in yet. It is lying off the track 4 miles this side Pulaski. It is reported here that the eastern train from Huntsville was burned today & 50 men taken prisoner. Buell is busy moveing his headquarters from Huntsville to Bridgport. He had all the rolling stock available moving troops & c. & c. Rumors are rife here. J.S. Robb went down to see his brother living at Spring Hill on last Tuesday. He was to have been back on Thursday. But he has not got back yet. Gen. O.M. will not accept the position offered him in the eastern army unless he can have the 3d Division with him. He says he will not go under Buell again. The secesh are making demonstrations. Oh! that we had old Gen. O.M. Mitchell. Hurrah for the old hero. The right man Man in the right place. Lieut Patterson of co.K has handed in his resignation. And in doing so he has put it in a form that will call for a cort of enquiry. In this court will be some things set forth that has not been thot of by the people of F [Findlay?] concerning old Jim. Those 30,000 men have been ordered to Nashville. We have one hundred pieces of artillery at Nashville. The word came in this evening that the rebels had evacuated Chatanooga and were marching to Nashville. Gen Rozencrance with 30,000 men are ordered to intercept them. Oh! what rumors are rife in camp. Oh! that we could but get the get the truth instead of so many rumors. We had a very good parade tonight. The citizens say why do you not call out and exchange opinions. I tell them I do not wish to form acquaintances here. I further stated that I did not know but I might be called upon to to make some arrests & I did not wish to be under any obligations to any of Dixies sons or daughters. They look wild when talked to in this style. But the tattoo is being beat & I must stop writing for the night. Good night dearest abide & may heavens richest blessings be upon the & abide with you & keep you until the day of my coming is the prayer of your R.S. once more good night.
August 23d /62
The usual routine of the morning. We sent out a delegation from the 21st O.V. 9 miles from town yest. [west?] Maj. Strong went out to deliver a speech. The band went out & about 200 soldiers & officers. They went in wagons & on horse back. They started out of town to the tune of Dixies land. They went out & met a large assemblage of Dixies fair & strong arms. The ladies of that place waved our soldiers a welcome. They had a splendid free dinner: roast chicken, pigs & c & c. Our delegation returned at 6 1/2. We did not have any dress parade on account of the music & many of the 21st absent. We have a meeting tonight in the courthouse (of all the Co. officers of the regt) for the purpose of taking into consideration the present posision of the 21st likewise the officer in comd. of regiment with his conduct as an officer. The cars came in from the north & with them came the account of the guerillas on Th last. The guerrillas fired on the train. One car was made a riddle of, none of our men were badly injured. The engineer backed the train. The guards left the train and went around the hill through which the cut run & came in around the rebels and killed some & took some & routed the ballance. J.S. Robb has not returned yet. I begin to fear for him. But good night dearest Lois, good night.
Courthouse, Athens, Alabama
August 24th /62
Sabath morning, still & calm. The sabbath bells are ringing. The guards are being mounted. The fifes & are piping forth their melodies & the drums are keeping time there to. Oh! What a contrast between the bustle of camp and the peaceful sabbath in F or McComb. There the word is preached in its truth & purity & here not but the ratling of arms & the inspection of the same. We had a meeting last night of all the officers of the regt. Our meeting was organized by calling Capt. McMahon to the chair. Lieut. Vance was secretary. We then got up resolutions. First resolved that Lieut. Col. James M. Neibling is entirely incapacitated to act in the capacity of Col. of the 21st, first on account of ignorance in regard to military tactics, second actions unbecome an officer & gentle. His conduct is such as to injure not only himself but also to endanger not only the good name of but the general welfare of the regt. He is so awkward & ignorant he is continually making blunders & will not study or endeavor to inform himself. He does not care for the good of his regt. so he can have his selfish desires satisfied. You will learn of his traits anon. You know of his reputation at home. Second resolution. Resolved that Lieut. col. James M. Neibling resign within 48 hours & hand in his resignation to a commity appointed to attend to said business & if he, Lieut. col. James M. Neibling did not hand in his resignation as Lieut col. of the 21st regt charges would be preferred against the said Lieut Col. Resolved that a committee of 3 be appointed to present these resolutions & to receive his answer and request him to meet with us the officers of the 21st regt O.V. on the night of the 25th Aug.
This day one year since I enlisted in the service of my country for the 2d time. This day one year since I resolved (if health would permit) to see my country through this its fiercest struggle from rebeldom. This day one year since I took that upon me which separated me from refined society. Oh! how many and what varied scenes have I witnessed since that day. I have seen promotions & I have witnessed degrations. Those who might shine in society. Those who might have been efficient soldiers and officers. Those whose duty & privalege it was to keep the 21st established on the pinnacle to which by its own meritorious actions it had aspired. But see the Col. (through the influence of citizens hostile to the government) forsake his patriotism & engage in that which has ruined him for life. Again see the Lieut. col. degrade himself in the eyes of all the officers of his regt. & a greater portion of the privates. Do not mention any thing concerning this last nights proceedings. We have just received orders to have one days rations cooked & be ready to march at any moment. I will stop till evening. We had no inspections this morning. Porter thought we had better inspect the co. But I told him I would rather let them go to church after they had rid up their quarters. Col. Jim put Cap. McMahan under arrest for clearing the jail. There was one cell full of negroes upon which could be found no charges & the col. said so himself. We will move to Columbia. Our troops are concentrating there & at Nashville, Tenn.
Lieut. Porter is officer of the day in the ruin of Capt. McMahan. Officer of guard Lieut. Allen of Co.D. Officer of guard yesterday Lieut Monroe of Co.F, Officer of the day Capt. Walker of Co. B, from co.G 4 privates for pickets 8 privates & 1 sergt. Today 4 privates one corp field guard for pickets 8 privates one corp. We had preaching at 10 1/2 A.M. & 2 1/2 P.M. We had Sabath school at 8 1/2 A.M. & prayer meeting at 1 P.M. Dress parade at the usual hour. But I must stop for tonight. Good night. A happy night to you & may dominus vobiscum. Dearest Lois.
Courthouse, Athens, Alabama
Mond. Aug 25th /62
All still & quiet. Orders to have one days rations cooked ready to march at 2 P.M. Guard mounting 8 1/2 A.M. Guards detailed, officer of the day, Lieut. Kerry of Co.H, officer of guard Lieut Wood of Co.I, from co.G 4 privates field guard, pickets 8 privates one sergt. Very pleasant today. Gen. McCook is in Chatanooga. The rebels have evacuated the place. The news here is the rebels are evacuating Richmond, VA. J.A. Hill is much worse today. The surgeon says there is nothing that he can see the matter of him. He says if there is anything wrong it has not developed itself. I pity the sergt so much. He will have to die here in camp I suppose. There is something not right in the rules adopted. Whenever a man becomes incapacitated for acting his part, so soon as his health becomes so that his life or health is in danger he should be discharged honorably & if his health improves so that it would justify him to return to service let him do so, but apart from that the soldier is better at home. Well we did not leave at 2 P.M. nor at 6 P.M. The cars came in at 7 1/2 and brought a small mail. Likewise the intelligence of the battle near Battle Creek, in which the rebels were repulsed and driven back with a loss of a no. killed & wounded & 7000 taken prisoners. The orders are or have been countermanded. At Huntsville they have received orders to hold the place at all hazzards. Last night the rebels made demonstrations at Huntsville. Our men had all their effects packed and ready for a run on the cars. They (our troops) thought they were surrounded and burned all the amunition they could not pack with the commisary stores & old arms. But it was only a feint. And our troops received orders to hold the place at all hazzards. But I must quit for tonight. Good night dearest Lois.
Tuseday, August 26th /62
Calm, cool & beautiful. On this day 11 months since I left Findlay. On that day I experienced something of which I had never dreamed. I witnessed the feelings such as I had never before witnessed that of parting with her whom my bosom held dear altho I did not know that those feelings were returned by her. On this day 11 months since I asked of that one to remember me. I did not hear the response but felt it in the pressure of the hand & witnessed it in the last look of those eyes which to look into once more would do me so much good. The sight of those mild blue eyes would fill my soul with ecstacies. Once more to take that hand & hear from those lips the accents I love, this would be joy beyond measure. Last night, the night set for our meeting with the col. came. We met! & sent a committee of 3 (capts Walker, Stoughton & Ewing) to wait upon the col. to the meeting. He came. I never pitied any one so much as I did the col. He looked as tho he had been crying. I almost repented me of what I had done. But I thought the good of the regt called on such a movement. My conscience tells me I am right. We had an exchange of opinions. The col. desired a few days to study on the matter. Untill he would hear from Norton. We granted him ten days to make up his mind as to the course he would pursue. If Col. Jim remains with the regt I will leave. It would grieve me to leave the boys but sure if col. Neibling stays I will go & not only me but all the company officers of the 21st. We pledged our selves that if he would resign we would keep it a secret. None of the boys in the regt knows aught of our proceedings. I commit this to you knowing that with you all things are sacred. It is not worth while for me to request you to say nothing of this affair, not even to Pa or Ma. I want the man to do the best he can all tho he has enraged every officer in the regt yet I wish him well. We adjourned to meet on the 4th night of Sept. But I will close untill morning. By by for a few hours dearest. The orders came for us to strike tents & get ready to move against the trains would arrive from Huntsville. We did so. Truck tents & packed all our effects & moved them to the depot. The cars came in but it was to late to leave on this road so we marched back to the court house yard. Officer of the day capt. Alban of co.F, officer of guard Lieut. Wicker of co.K. He has been restored to his position or released from under arrest. J.A. Hill is still growing worse. But I will close for tonight by wishing once more a happy night. Good by for a short time dearest Lois.
August 27th 62
Feel pretty well this morning, after lying out in the dew without tents. We were marched out to the depot last night when the cars came in. But it was too late to start and trust the bushwhackers. We were then marched back to the court house yard and slept without blankets or tents. We received orders this morning to load the cotton which was lying at the depot and take it with us. We had to wait for more cars & load the cotton. Last night the amphatheater in the fair ground was burned by a squad of the 19th Ill. One of their men was shot near the fire by a citizen; but it has not been found out who did the deed. I was out in the south of town today & took dinner with an old gentleman, a doctor. he & his lady with their servts constitute the family. Cap Alban, Ewing, Vantine with Lieuts Allen, Anderson, Wicker, Monroe, Dilworth cap Canfield, Lieut Vance, all of us took supper & they would not receive a cent of pay. They are good union people and very tipy. (?) The cotton is all loaded but we will have to sleep in the open air tonight again. good night once more dear love. I trust to meet you soon.
Aug 28th 62
Very pleasant today. Athens looked very desolate this morning. There had been a detail made in the 19th Ill. to burn Athens (as they passed through) & left behind. There were 30 men detailed and left night before last. They fired the amphatheater in order to attract the attention of the 21st O.V. & they intended to burn the town whilst the excitement was up: but they did not excite any thing of that kind & we put out guards all over town & kept them walking the town all night so they did accomplish nothing but the burning of the amphatheater. But they were more fortunate tonight. Just at dark the fire broke out through the roof of a deserted drugstore. The fire spread rapidly. We found the square must go. The col. called out the boys to save property, goods & c in the stores. The 1/2 of the regt was employed in the aforesaid manner whilst the ballance was watering the adjoining squares to save the town (which they did) untill the explosion of shells caught the attention. We then formed in doublequick, not knowing where they were or where they came from untill this morning. We found the shells had been hid in the building & I presume there are ordinance near town buried. The loss in buildings was $24,000, drygoods, books, queensware, drugs, & c could not have been less than $20,000. We left this morning with a heavy heart. I never thought of a retreat untill now. Shame on McClellen, Buell & c., & c. We came within one mile of the tunnel & there learned that the road had been torn up & 2 bridges burned & that the cavalry was marching on us. We went to work & unloaded a good part of the cotton & proceeded cautiously to Pulaski, a distance of 40 miles from Athens. When we learned the facts of the case: that bridges were burned but would be rebuilt against the next evening. We stoped for the night. But I must stop to good night dearest Lois.
Along the railroad 15 miles south Columbia, Tenn.
Aug 29th /62
A very pleasant morning. But I do not feel so well today having been exposed to the heat of the sun (riding on the top of the cars) which was excessive & the damps of the nights without blankets or tents. I slept out by the depot last night. I went out into town to see if I could find anything to eat. I found the citizens very kind. I took supper with a minister of the Missionary Baptist denom. He envited me to call for breakfast. I did so but he refused to receive remuneration. He showed me his papers & said he was happy to have a chance to doing anything for a soldier. I requested him to suffer me to give his lady a small present. He assented. I had a very nice supper & breakfast, the best coffee I have tasted since I crossed the Ohio. We could see the rebel pickets on the hills watching our movements in town (they were cavalry). 2 of them came into town & stole 2 of our horses. An old cavalry sergt took a squad of men and went up into the town and just gave them (the citizens) 15 minutes to raise him $300 for the horses which their pickets had taken & if they did not make in that time they (the cav) would burn their town. They made up the money & the sergt with his men went to the livery stable & took 2 of the best horses in the stable. Thus ends the history of the cavalry. Our boys went out into town just more than took in the things which suited them. Thank co.G did not touch, tast, or handle. We then got word that the bridge was ready & how do you think they built it? Well I will tell you. We took cotton bales piled one on the top of the other in the water & then put the stringers on the top of those from one side the creek to the other. Then we put on the ties & then the iron & then we run over with the cars. We came to the place where the train had been trapped. The guerrillas had burned a bridge and then went back to another bridge some 6 or 7 miles back & waited while the train crossed & then fired that bridge leaving the train between to burned bridges. They then made the attack upon our train. The men all jumped out to one side of the cars with one exception. One of Co.E's men of the 21st O.V. He jumped out on the opposite side & was seen no more. Another of the same co. was shot before leaving the car. He was shot in the right side. He said I am shot! I am dieing & jumped off the car & ran about 30 yards & fell dead. There were several of the 19th Illi. wounded & 2 killed. I have not learned what was of the loss of the enemy. We came on a short distance the road is all most lined with forts, stockades & c & c. 14 miles from Columbia we halted to wood & water (we had to cut our own wood & water the engine with buckets the wood and tanks all being burned). One of the 19th Illi. came in sight at full speed on horse. He dismounted and turned the horse loose & climed on the cars. He told the boys that he & 10 more stayed back at Athens after we left to make good their oath. They burned the town & he & 2 others were all who got away. He killed a fine horse of the old tavernkeeper of Athens who refused McCook shelter when he came in sick & afterwards was killed by the rebels near Huntville. The horse was worth $15.00. He dropped dead under the fellow. He then stole an other horse & rode him until he caught us. But I must close for the night. By once more, invoking the blessing of God & the sustaining influence of his spirit upon my own true love, Lois, yours & c.
Aug 30th /62
I slept on the top of the car last night. I awoke this morning with the whistle of the engine & the ding dong of the bell. When I awoke I was sticking nearly halfway over the cars. Bully for a comfortable place to sleep. We started up and got to Columbia about 10 A.M. We stopped there about 1/2 hour. The boys went into an old secesh's grocery & captured about 10 barrels of flour, meat, fish, cakes, dried herring & c & c. We then set off for Nashville, Tenn. where we arrived at 11 A.M. We passed a division of soldiers enroute for Nashville. We formed in town and marched south east 1 1/2 miles to camp where we are now. Guards detailed Officer of the day Capt. Stoughton of Co.A, officer of guard Lieut Patterson of co.K, from co.G, 3 privates one corp. Our things have just come in & it is too dark to pitch tents so we will have to stop another night in the dew. Good night dearest.
Camp near Nashville, Tenn.
Aug 31st /62
Morning warm, yet not unpleasant, but towards noon very oppressively hot. The regular routine of the camp roll call at the usual hour. Surgeons call at 7 P.M., guard mounting 8 1/2. Guards detailed, Officer of the day, Capt. Ewing, officer of the guard, Lieut Dilworth, co.G, from co.G 4 privates. We have our camp laid out the camp lies east & west: with the streets running north & south. Dr. Eames, Surgeon & Robert Mungen, quartermaster returned to the regt yest. The boys are busy getting up a petition for Lieut. James Porter to resign and go home. Charges, ignorance, incompetence & partiality--it will be handed in tomorrow to him. I pity the old fellow but he will not study or endeavor to improve himself. So good by to 1st Lieut Porter. I have one man (James Forest of co.K for striking a comrade with a saw) a prisoner. Two from co.D, John Stout and his cousin, for fighting & the chief bugler of the regt for getting intoxicated. But I must close for tonight. Good night dearest L.A. I write with a short letter on the last page, good night.
Sept 2d /62
Dearest Lois with feelings dear you & you alone, the one whom I look forward to as my companion for life (if we are spared) I address you an other letter not in answer to any one which I have received from you dearest, for I have received non from you since I have written you. I have written you 2 since I have gotten a letter from you. I begin to think there must be something unusual wrong. You have either not gotten my letters or you have written & I have failed to get yours. The mailes have been captured so often of late. Last night the stage with mail was captured & there was not any mail come through from Louisville by car for 20 days. 2 weeks without a letter from my dearest Lois seems an age almost. From the reading of this book you will see all that has happened within my knowledge since the 7th July & some things which were reported which were not just as reported. One concerning Gen. Mitchell. He has not come back yet & I am afraid he will not return. My health is improving rapidly. I feel better now than I have been since I left home & I sincerely hope that this will find you in the enjoyment of good health & spirits. I have drawn the fort & described it & sent it in this to you. Please look over it & remember your lover R.S. when you look at the works of his pencil. My love to your Ma & Pa & all of the family. Yours in the bond of love now & forever one & undivided. Write very soon.
R.S. linked in the chain of love & affection to L.A.B. forever. living or dieing
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