Spencer, Article 23
I left you last week while on picket duty, and must tell you a little more about it. It seemed to me that Genl. Sherman concentrated all his artillery and turned loose on my little squad. We were at the foot of a slope and they couldn't get quite low enough but finally a cannon ball struck the little bank of dirt in our front, tearing it into smithereens and the little log on top of dirt for our head protection struck my head and oh, my! Butler jumped out and got behind a tree just to our rear. I called him back and told him we would hold the fort. The little log striking me on the head gave me much pain breaking the scalp and the scar is there yet, I guess. Ask Bill Payne about that day. He was back in the main line but could see what was going on. Ask Bill Head, he was with me. About dusk we went back to the line. I bathed my head, slept some, and reported for duty next morning. Oh war, war! Genl. Sherman kept pushing South on our left flank, which kept us on the move day and night. One day while sitting and lying out behind our works, some of the boys got into a controversy concerning a battery which was occasionally firing a shot. It was off considerable distance to our left and we were not sure whether it was ours or the enemy's battery, when Andy Youngblood raised his index finger, pointing and said, "I bet you $5 that is a Yankee battery." And a stray ball from a Yankee picket clipped off his finger. The hot, scorchy, sunny days of July were on us, and we were near the Chattahoochee River. Something to eat and wear were getting slim with us while the Yanks had plenty and men to spare. We all loved Genl. Johnson and had the utmost confidence in him and when he said go, we went. We finally crossed Chattahoochee River and were nearing Atlanta. Our line was back from the river some distance, but our pickets near the river and the Yanks likewise on the north side of the river. A fellow would almost meet during the hot days while in the little "dug outs." The Yank pickets would halloo to us and we to them, and occasionally agree to leave our guns, go to the shade on the bank of the river and they do the same on their side. I had some experience in that line. Finally some fellow would yell out, "rats to your holes" and all would do their very best to get back to the pit before the enemy. One day I was suffering for water and made my way hurriedly down the river to a spring, but the Yankee pickets fired at me. The spring was surrounded by a cluster of underbrush and could not be seen by the Yanks. I drank some water, filled my canteen and oh, how I dreaded to start back! knowing they would shoot at me. I started at full speed, just touching the high places and they fired at me but I outrun the ??? President Jeff Davis and the Department at Richmond knew that we were "getting in a hole", and that the only way to get out and continue the war, was to fight. "Old Jo" evidently knew that the end of the war was near and that it would be disastrously to the South, and his object seemed to be to go honorably to the end and avoid the useless sacrifice of many lives as possible. Genl. Hood was for fighting every day and night and if he had been in command from Dalton to Atlanta the most of us would have been killed. About the 18th of July Genl. Hood was put in command and we knew something would happen. The change never took well with us, and sorrow, gloom and discouragement ran high. On the 20th our Division and Cleburne's were formed in line of battle and ordered forward, and on reaching the top of a hill we could see the Yanks in their trenches a little way from the foot of the hill. The order to flank to the right was not heard by 2 or 3 of us, and we pressed forward to the foot of the hill. Sam Worthington was with me and we fired at them all evening. I fired 60 rounds, and think he did the same. At night, we fell back and found our Regiment ??? (can't read the rest of the line)
Spencer, Article 24
In my last I told you of the battle on July 20th near Atlanta. Jim Martin was in the fight but understood the order at the top of the hill to right flank, and attacked the enemy to the right of Sam and me. Ben Lack was with Sam and me. A boy not of our Regiment was killed near us. We were near a clump of bushes in a fence row, which was to our advantage. Shot and shell flew thick and fast and plowed up the sand and dirt all about us. On the 22nd we were double-quicked from place to place, finally marched through Atlanta and on eastwardly a short distance and formed in line of battle. Before starting forward, our Genl. rode in front of us and told us that we had retreated far enough, that we would find the Yanks in their breastworks, but that we would whip them and go on back to old Tennessee. Some of the boys yelled and appeared to be eager, but oh, how I dreaded! We went forward and soon found them intrenched, but they "gave way" and we found them again, in their 2nd line of works, but we drove them back to their 3rd and last line, and when in a few yards of their last line I received a severe wound in my arm, which sent me to the rear. In going back I passed dead and dying, among whom was Jim Biles of McMinnville (I thought). He called for water, and I gave it to him from my canteen. I thought that he would be dead in a short time. The blood was flowing from my arm and paining me much. In going back searching for the field hospital I came to a bunch (?) of water, where at least 200 stragglers were ???, who were not in the fight, but following on the "rifle" the pockets of the dead. I now take the opportunity to tell the "Times Readers" that many old soldiers never paid for the salt put in their bread. But back to the branch again. My arm was hurting and I decided to bathe it in cold water. I took off my canteen, expecting to fill it with water and carry back with me. After bathing my arm for awhile I reached for my canteen and some straggler had taken it. He was no good before in times of ??? ??? (Can't read the end of the page). I soon found the field hospital, where the wounded were being taken for treatment. The doctors were amputating legs and feet, arms, hands and fingers and dressing wounds. Dr. Leek examined my arm, dressed it and gave me a drink of whiskey. I was tired and sleepy, but the cries and moans of the wounded kept me from rest, but in a short while I took a nap. The battle was over, but amounted to almost nothing in our interest. The enemy had 3 or 4 to our 1. Genl. McPherson of the Yankee Army was killed in front of us. I believe Jack Agent of our Company was killed that day. He was small and young. Next day I was carried to the railroad, put on car and sent to Macon, 100 miles south of Atlanta, and put in Ocmulge Hospital, where a great many wounded and sick were sent. A soldier from Missouri occupied a bunk close to me who lost an arm and a leg on the 22nd. I suffered a great deal with my arm, had to take morphine to enable me to sleep. Gangrene (now called blood poison) set up in my arm, matter collected below the wound, and my arm, hands and fingers were terribly swollen and a doctor at Macon said amputation was the only remedy, but I hated to give it up, cried and begged to risk it. I got a fellow to help me to the depot, and I took the train for Dawson, near where lived Mr. Leek, who refugeed from Dalton with whom I stayed and who requested me to go to him if I ever got sick or wounded. On my arrival there I was in bad shape, and he called in his family physician, (his name was Roushenburg), who examined my arm and left morphine. He visited me often, and knew what he was doing. At the proper time he lanced my arm and it began to heal at once. Genl. Hood had taken the remnant of his little army and started North, but Genl. Thomas with a host of men was ready to repel and drive back Hood's little crowd. Genl. Sherman with his host marched to the sea burning houses and cities, devastating the whole country, telling old men, women and children that "war is hell". There were no Rebels in his way.
Spencer, Article 25
Genl. Hood with his little army was in Tennessee and I in Southwest Georgia. I was unable for service, but restless and wanted to be with the boys. Mr. Leek was conscripted and carried to the army of Virginia, and I went to Cuthbart Hospital, which is 120 miles from Macon. I got the doctor to give me a discharge from hospital which insured me transportation. I came to Atlanta, thence to Montgomery and down the river to Mobile, and then by railroad to Corinth. The cold winter days were on us, and rations very scarce. A good old man in Georgia gave me a hat and pair of shoes. From Corinth, I started North "a foot" to find the boys (if any left). I found them and the night we were at Columbia, in Maury County, it snowed and the ground froze. I slept with Sqr. Jo Cummings and Ad Fisk, under a little "dog fly", the size of a table cloth. Now my dear friends, let me say to you that those days cannot be forgotten by those who were there, as long as life and memory last. Empty haversacks, clothes worn out, our little army, few in number, discouraged and exhausted. When we got out from under our little dog fly to get ready to flee from the host in pursuit of us, my hat and shoes were gone, leaving me barefoot and bare head, with a little January skift of snow and the ground frozen. Several of the boys in our Regiment said, "No use going any further," and they started East. I saw them leave, and never thought hard of them for leaving. Oh war, war! I decided to follow on and if alive would see the end. Before going far my feet got sore and very cold. My little dog fly was to protect me at night, but I had to resort(?) to it to save my feet by tearing off strips, wrap around my feet and repeat when absolutely necessary. We went South and the Yankee host after us. We went to Corinth Miss., thence to Mobile, Alabama, and then to Montgomery, and from there to Atlanta, Georgia. The weather was getting milder. We went from Atlanta to Augusta and the February days were pleasant. Augusta is on the Savannah River. We crossed the river to Hamburg, South Carolina and left the railroad. Our march and wanderings from there to the piney woods of the "Old Tar Heel State", North Carolina appears dreamy to me and I cannot call to mind many places over which we marched but I was there all the time. When we ??? ??? ???, Old Jo took charge of us again and a reorganization of the army took place. The remnant of our old Regiment (which once numbered 1000 in 10 Companys) was cut up and made two small Companys. Frank York recommended me to Old Jo for promotion, and he promoted me to Lieutenant, to command half of the (then) old 16th Tenn. Regt. We had a little fight at Bentonville, North Carolina and came near killing every man in one Yankee Regiment. I have left untouched, very many interesting events, for instance the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee in which many brave commanders and soldiers were killed, of whom was Genl. Cleburne, Genl. Carter and others. My dear friend and schoolmate, N. B. Hamrick (?) was killed there. His father and family lived out two miles from here at the place now called the Hill place, on the road to Farris Griffiths. N. B. had three brothers in the war and all came through alive. The family came from North Carolina a few years before the war, and it has been said, brought the first yellow horse to this country. I yet remember the names of the whole family, as follows: Uncle Billy, Aunt Polly, Jeroam, Napoleon Bonapart (killed at Franklin), Jereboam, Zorobabel. Doctor Cortez and Don Pedro were the boys, and two girls named Martha Salena, and Mary Boston. All except Jeroam were my schoolmates. I forgot to tell you that Genl. Sherman in his march to the sea claimed to have destroyed $200,000,000 worth of property and many old people and little children turned out in the cold to freeze and starve. I also forgot to speak of the Yankee prisoners at Andersonville, Georgia, and the hanging of the superintendant of the prison after the war, and the eternal punishment to be meted out to those who condemned him to death.
Spencer, Article 26
Those who have been reading "The Times" could see from my last article that I was nearing the close of the war, and you will remember that we were in North Carolina. Sherman had made his famous "march to the sea", applying the torch to houses, and taking what little the people had to subsist on, depriving old men and women and innocent children of food and shelter. On the 9th of April, Genl. Lee surrendered his little army to Genl. Grant and his host. We heard the news and knew the end was near. Times were squally with us. The first of January 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed the Negroes free, thereby abolishing African slavery in the United States. They were furnished blue uniforms, mustered into service, muskets put in their hands and put in the field against the South. About 165,000 Negroes and many foreigners fused with the North and our only remedy was to quit. I have no ill will towards any old Federal soldier, but they must excuse me when I say that Sherman's march to the sea was the most disgraceful campaign that ever blotted the pages of history. Some of his men entered houses, carried out furniture, and made fires of it on which they would broil their meat. Genl. Sherman (as I have often heard) told the Southern women that he would let them know that war was hell. President Lincoln was assassinated, the news of which brought sorrow and sadness to our little army. We had been slandering and speaking evil of him for four years, but when he was murdered, we would gladly have put flowers on his coffin. If he had lived, the reconstruction period would have been more pleasant. Soldiers will have fun and amusement, same as other people. We made and sung many songs, called war songs, and during a few days of rest which occurred occassionally, we would fiddle and dance, sing and play cards. One of our songs began as follows:
We added a verse to Dixie as follows: "Dixie Land is a land of cotton, when a poor man dies he is soon forgotten, look away, etc." I learned and sung many songs. Dixie was my favorite until Hooper captured it when he was nominated for Gov. But I must go back to North Carolina. April was beautiful and barefooted boys could get along all right. There are very few now living who were with me at the close. I don't at this moment remember a single one now living in Van Buren, who left with me the 15th of May 1861 and with me at the close. On the 26th of April 1865 we were near Greensboro, North Carolina and President Davis and the Department at Richmond were on the way South to escape capture, and Genl. Jo Johnston surrendered one of the grandest little armies that ever marched forth to battle. We were in rags, and with empty haversacks, and discouraged, but ready for battle when the command to arms was given. All was quiet in line and many brave boys shed tears. I was glad and sorry too. Glad the war was over and sorry we had to give it up. The boys who missed the Georgia campaign in 1864 and Hood's raid too, and retreat from Tennessee escaped the hardest part of the war. Our guns were stacked in good order, and many boys were anxious to start home. Our paymaster had a little silver, and we drew $1.25 each. The cavalrymen drew $26.00 each. In my next I will tell of our return to Old Tennessee.
- "Old Abe Lincoln keeps kicken up a fuss,
- I think he better stop it for he only makes it wuss,
- We will have our independence, I tell the reason why,
- Big pig, little pig, root hog or die, etc."