Spencer, Article 11
Corinth is in the Northeast corner of Mississippi, and near the Tennessee line about 80 miles East of Memphis and a few miles West of the Tennessee River. We were there about two months, drilling and making breastworks. Genl. Bragg was put in command of our army there which numbered near 80,000. We expected a general engagement while there, but nothing more than heavy skirmishing occurred. I was with a large detail sent down on Cypris Creek to cut timber and blockade the road to keep the Yanks from running over us "rough shod." The water on that country was not good, and we soon got tired of that place and anxious to move. We had tough experience doing picket duty. Our regiment was out on picket duty about one mile in front of our main line, and near the enemy. Shot and shell were flying fast from the Yankee's cannon, but too far for our muskets. A grape shot struck John Grissom (brother of Uncles Jim and Buck) and also struck Wm. Creeley (brother of Uncle John Mooneyham's wife) mortally wounding them. They were as good boys as ever shouldered a musket. That was more than 49 years ago. It always seemed to me that I was kept on the firing line more than my share. Our first twelve months service for which we enlisted expired, and some got out by being over age and some discharged, but most of us re-enlisted for during the war. It became necessary to evacuate Corinth, and fall back to Tupelo. Isaac Howard, one of my messmates died at Corinth, and I assisted in digging his grave, and when he was put in the grave and filled with dirt, a detail of about 4 men fired their muskets into the bank of dirt, which was common after burying the dead who died of sickness. I must leave out many things of interest at Corinth. It was very warm and dry and we started on the march to Tupelo about 50 miles South of Corinth and traveled over ground on which Andrew Jackson marched. The weather was very warm and dry, the water bad and the sand almost hot enough to roast an egg. One day I was sitting out under a shade tree near Col. Savage's quarters listening to him and Col. Donnel talk and I saw Col. Savage put his hand to his face and took something from it, looked at it and said, "Col. Donnel here is a d__m louse. If that was the only one he got at Tupelo, he fell far short of his portion for they seemed to grow in the sand. Uncle Sam McCorkie and Fate Hayes cheered us with fiddle and accordion. We didn't like Tupelo much. Soldiers are like other people, hard to please. We called the Mississippians "Sand Lappers." Forty-nine years have passed since our stay at Tupelo and I leave untouched many things of interest. Some of the Times readers doubtless think that the war didn't amount to much, but be quiet boys, you'?? ??? the patchen (?) later on. Some of the boys were getting tired of war and wished for the close, but oh my! Two of the boys decided to go home and got as far as Chattanooga, arrested and carried back, but we were on the eve of leaving Tupelo, and the boys were not punished. I yet remember a part of Col. Savage's talk to them. They were ??? good soldiers after that as ??? ??? ??? my ??? ??? In my next I will carry you away from Miss. and tell you something of war.
Spencer, Article 12
In my last article I told you of our stay around Tupelo, Miss. and of the hot sand, poor water, and body lice. It was almost impossible to get rid of the lice, because some soldiers were too lazy and trifling to scald their clothes, or even scratch where the lice bit. Their excuse for not scalding their clothes was that boiling clothes would not kill the lice on them. Some soldiers died of filth, and 'tis a wonder to me that body lice - low-down laziness, filth and unaccountedness doesn't kill some people not in war. Laziness, filth and uncleanness are leading many people to the devil. But I am away from my war history and must hasten on.
In July 1862 we gathered up and bundled our duds and marched to the Depot and took the train and arrived at Mobile the next day. Watermelons were ripe and some of the finest I ever saw were in Mobile. We crossed the Bay in steamer, thence by rail to Montgomery, thence to Atlanta, and thence to Chattanooga. We felt like we were getting near home again and some of the boys couldn't stand the temptation and went home. Chattanooga was at that time a small place. We had a good time there swimming in the River, climbing the path of the lofty "lookout" and viewing other natural scenery. We did not realize matters and conditions ??? ??? We soldiers of "the ditches" were not allowed to know where we were going on all occassions. President Davis and the war department at Richmond decided to regain our lost territory and invade the enemys country. A large army cannot all travel the same road in long marches. In September, part of the army crossed Tenn. River near ??? and started North, while the other part crossed at Chattanooga. Our part crossed at the latter place and went up Tenn. Valley, crossed Waldon's Ridge and to Pikeville. I have never seen Pikeville since. From Pikeville, we came up the mountain and I remember Mr. White lived there. He married a daughter of Dr. Hale who had lived in Spencer. Our Company was detailed to guard and assist the wagon train across Waldon's Ridge and Cumberland Mountain. The weather was dry and hot and water scarce, the dust was very disagreeable. We struck Cane Creek in this county near the mouth at the Baja Crain place, and I slept in the corner of the fence. Good many of the boys visited their people, but most all returned to the company. Jim Martin, George and Mack McBride joined us on the march and enlisted. We went through Sparta and camped about 5 miles above. We left Cookville on our East, and camped one night in Putnam County. Next day we went to Gainsboro, and camped on the bank of Cumberland River below town. Next morning we waded the river, which was very shallow and went up Jennings Creek and on to Tompkinsville, Ky. The weather remained dry, warm and awful dusty. Water was scarce and we were forced to drink from the ponds along the route. Wade in a little and sink our canteens below the green skim. T. A. Head said it was ??? healthy for a soldier. One of the boys said we passed 38 ponds one day and that he drank a canteen of water out of each pond. Don't worry boys, I'll tell you something more if nothing happens
Spencer, Article 13
We left Tompkinsville and marched to Munfordville, in Hart County. We had a terrible stampede early in the night, and Capt. Lowe of Genl. Donnelson's staff was accidentally killed by one of our own men. When men get stampeded, which always occurs at night, they will run over stumps, fences, bluffs and anything in their way. They don't know what is the matter, and their only aim is to get out of the way. A scared human has less judgment and sense than a bunch of wild steers stampeded in the mountains, and I yet laugh to myself when I think of the stampedes at Munfordsville and Craw Fish Springs. A Yankee garrison of several hundred was there in a Fort, and we expected to have a fight with them, but they surrendered next morning, and we marched on to Glasgow, near Bowlin Green. We had a good rain which allayed the dust and cooled the air. Genl. Rosecrans in command of the Yankee army was west of us and marching north. We marched on to Bardstown which was nearing Indiana. October had set in, and the weather was beautiful. We were in about 40 miles of Louisville. I bought a bushel of shorts and put in our company wagon, but at night when I went for them they were gone. I never knew who got them. The march from Chattanooga to Bardstown was long and tiresome. Occasionally some poor fellow would give out and take refuge with some farmer. Once in a while, some fellow would flop his wings and decide to go no further. Genl. Bragg evidently realized that he was nearing a hornet's nest and changed the direction of our march from North to East. I yet remember that my shoes were almost to pieces and my feet sore and some of the hide worn off, but I resolved to stay in line and go as long as I could walk. From Bardstown we went Eastwardly, intending to meet the other part of the Army under Genl. Kinley Smith, who had just had a fight with the enemy at Richmond, Ky. and drove them back. One company in Col. Hill's Regiment was from this county and in that fight. I may forget to speak of Col. Hill's Regiment later on, and now say to the readers of "The Times" that some of the boys of "Old Van Buren" who followed Hill and Savage were as true, brave and patriotic soldiers as ever marched to the tap of the drum, or through rain and snow, cold and heat, or drop down on the naked earth for a night's sleep, hungry and haversacks empty and at the bugle call next morning, rise foot-sore, weary and hungry, fall in line at roll call, answer "able for duty" and start again. Many of those boys never showed the white feather nor flopped their wings. Many of them were left dead on battle fields and others died in hospitals, with their wings up. A few remained in line until the close, and went down in defeat, but never flopped their wings, and a few of them can yet be found with their wings spread, fighting for God and Democracy. This article will bring you up to the point where you will be prepared to "smell the patches" in my next article. Oh war! war! Some men could put "red tape" and flowery oratory, in war history and make it more interesting than I can, but they know no more about war than I. I hope the time is not far off when wars between nations will cease, and when all nations will be as one united, happy family.
Spencer, Article 14
I told you of our leaving Bardstown and marching Eastwardly. I was not eager for a battle, but very anxious for something better than marching all the time. We passed Perryville, a little village and went ten miles beyond there to Harrodsburg and halted. We never knew what minute we would be called on to start again and consequently did our sleeping in our rags. Near midnight we were ordered in line and marched back to Perryville arriving there early in the morning. Genl. Bragg had decided to engage the enemy in battle there and it took considerable time to get his army in the desired position and was expecting Kirby Smith to re-enforce us in time for the engagement. We were formed in line and awaited the order to march forward. The enemy was about one half mile from us, and the crack of the picket's rifle and the occasional roar of a cannon made me feel sad. The day (Oct. 8th, 1862) was clear and beautiful. It was afternoon when we were ordered to move forward. We crossed a creek or brook, and went out on top of the hill and ordered to halt and reform. We were in sight of the enemy, and it looked to me like the whole face of the earth was covered with Yankees, shot and shell from their batterys made me wish that I was at home but Oh, my! We were ordered forward again. The whole line of battle was expected to keep in line on the forward movement, but some of the boys seemingly anxious to close in on the enemy raised the yell and rushed forward which caused our regiment to get far in advance of our main line, and it is yet a wonder to me that any man in our regiment escaped death. Three batteries of cannon and a brigade of the enemy were directed at our regiment, and the boys were falling dead and wounded all around me, and I thought all would be killed. Some of my school and playmates, neighbors and friends lost their lives there. Twelve Van Buren County boys were killed and mortally wounded on Perryville's bloody battlefield. If you wish to know how a soldier feels in such a battle as that, you must ask someone else. I cannot explain, but I had no hope of getting out alive. Such trials as that has a tendency to temporarily derange the minds of some, at least it was the case with me. If you ask me if I was scared, I answer, I don't know, but I do know that I was scared before we got in the thickest of the fight. We were in 40 yards of the enemy and they were falling fast. I hurriedly glanced to the right and left to see if the main line was engaged. Genl. Maney's Brigade came to our rescue on our right, and saved the remainder of our regiment from being killed and captured. Many times when thinking of that bloody battle, the tears roll down my cheeks, and I cannot force them back now while writing this article. Some sheep and rabbits were between the two lines scared and demoralized, but I paid no attention to them. Some claimed that they never dreaded a battle, and some claimed to have a gizzard full of sand, and others boasted of their long melts, saying they could wrap them around them twice and tie in a bow knot. In my next I will wind up the bloody battle of Perryville and pass on. Don't worry and get too hasty, boys, I will tell you more, if you can bear with me.