On the 16th of December I continued on to Mobile in the steamer Fashion by way of Lake Pontchartrain; saw there most of my personal friends, Mr. We reached Montgomery at noon, December 23d, and took cars at 1 p. This took the whole night of the 23d and the day of the 24th. At Griffin we took cars for Macon, and thence to Savannah, which we reached Christmas-night, finding Lieutenants Ridgley and Ketchum at tea, where we were soon joined by Rankin and Beckwith.
On the 26th I took the boat for Charleston, reaching my post, and reported for duty Wednesday morning, December 27, I had hardly got back to my post when, on the 21st of January, , I received from Lieutenant R.
Hammond, at Marietta, Georgia, an intimation that Colonel Churchill, Inspector-General of the Army, had applied for me to assist him in taking depositions in upper Georgia and Alabama; concerning certain losses by volunteers in Florida of horses and equipments by reason of the failure of the United States to provide sufficient forage, and for which Congress had made an appropriation. I was delayed till the 14th of February by reason of being on a court-martial, when I was duly relieved and started by rail to Augusta, Georgia, and as far as Madison, where I took the mail-coach, reaching Marietta on the 17th.
There I reported for duty to Colonel Churchill, who was already engaged on his work, assisted by Lieutenant R. Hammond, Third Artillery, and a citizen named Stockton.
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The colonel had his family with him, consisting of Mrs. Churchill, Mary, now Mrs. Professor Baird, and Charles Churchill, then a boy of about fifteen years of age. We all lived in a tavern, and had an office convenient. The duty consisted in taking individual depositions of the officers and men who had composed two regiments and a battalion of mounted volunteers that had served in Florida. An oath was administered to each man by Colonel Churchill, who then turned the claimant over to one of us to take down and record his deposition according to certain forms, which enabled them to be consolidated and tabulated.
We remained in Marietta about six weeks, during which time I repeatedly rode to Kenesaw Mountain, and over the very ground where afterward, in , we had some hard battles. After closing our business at Marietta the colonel ordered us to transfer our operations to Bellefonte, Alabama. As he proposed to take his family and party by the stage, Hammond lent me his riding-horse, which I rode to Allatoona and the Etowah River.
Hearing of certain large Indian mounds near the way, I turned to one side to visit them, stopping a couple of days with Colonel Lewis Tumlin, on whose plantation these mounds were. We struck up such an acquaintance that we corresponded for some years, and as I passed his plantation during the war, in , I inquired for him, but he was not at home.
We all assembled there in March, and continued our work for nearly two months, when, having completed the business, Colonel Churchill, with his family, went North by way of Nashville; Hammond, Stockton, and I returning South on horseback, by Rome, Allatoona, Marietta, Atlanta, and Madison, Georgia. Stockton stopped at Marietta, where he resided. Thus by a mere accident I was enabled to traverse on horseback the very ground where in after-years I had to conduct vast armies and fight great battles. That the knowledge thus acquired was of infinite use to me, and consequently to the Government, I have always felt and stated.
Yinton's , garrisoning Augusta Arsenal, and I was sent up from Fort Moultrie as a sort of peace-maker. After staying there some months, certain transfers of officers were made, which reconciled the difficulty, and I returned to my post, Fort Moultrie. During that winter, '45, I was visiting at the plantation of Mr.
Reynolds, Third Artillery. We had taken our stands, and a deer came out of the swamp near that of Mr. James Poyas, who fired, broke the leg of the deer, which turned back into the swamp and came out again above mine. I could follow his course by the cry of the hounds, which were in close pursuit. Hastily mounting my horse, I struck across the pine-woods to head the deer off, and when at full career my horse leaped a fallen log and his fore-foot caught one of those hard, unyielding pineknots that brought him with violence to the ground.
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I got up as quick as possible, and found my right arm out of place at the shoulder, caused by the weight of the double-barrelled gun. Seeing Reynolds at some distance, I called out lustily and brought him to me. He soon mended the bridle and saddle, which had been broken by the fall, helped me on my horse, and we followed the coarse of the hounds. At first my arm did not pain me much, but it soon began to ache so that it was almost unendurable.
In about three miles we came to a negro hut, where I got off and rested till Reynolds could overtake Poyas and bring him back. They came at last, but by that time the arm was so swollen and painful that I could not ride. They rigged up an old gig belonging to the negro, in which I was carried six miles to the plantation of Mr.
Poyas, Sr. A neighboring physician was sent for, who tried the usual methods of setting the arm, but without success; each time making the operation more painful. At last he sent off, got a set of double pulleys and cords, with which he succeeded in extending the muscles and in getting the bone into place. I then returned to Fort Moultrie, but being disabled, applied for a short leave and went North.
About that time March 1, Congress had, by a joint resolution, provided for the annexation of Texas, then an independent Republic, subject to certain conditions requiring the acceptance of the Republic of Texas to be final and conclusive. We all expected war as a matter of course. At that time General Zachary Taylor had assembled a couple of regiments of infantry and one of dragoons at Fort Jessup, Louisiana, and had orders to extend military protection to Texas against the Indians, or a "foreign enemy," the moment the terms of annexation were accepted.
He received notice of such acceptance July 7th, and forthwith proceeded to remove his troops to Corpus Christi, Texas, where, during the summer and fall of , was assembled that force with which, in the spring of , was begun the Mexican War. This was the first company of our regiment sent to the seat of war, and it embarked on the brig Hayne. This was the only company that left Fort Moultrie till after I was detached for recruiting service on the 1st of May, Inasmuch as Charleston afterward became famous, as the spot where began our civil war, a general description of it, as it was in , will not be out of place.
The city lies on a long peninsula between the Ashley and Cooper Rivers—a low, level peninsula, of sand.
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Meeting Street is its Broadway, with King Street, next west and parallel, the street of shops and small stores. These streets are crossed at right angles by many others, of which Broad Street was the principal; and the intersection of Meeting and Broad was the heart of the city, marked by the Guard-House and St. Michael's Episcopal Church. The Custom-House, Post-Office, etc. At the extremity of the peninsula was a drive, open to the bay, and faced by some of the handsomest houses of the city, called the "Battery. This fort Sumter was erected on an artificial island nearly in mid-channel, made by dumping rocks, mostly brought as ballast in cotton-ships from the North.
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As the rock reached the surface it was levelled, and made the foundation of Fort Sumter. In this fort was barely above the water. Still farther out beyond James Island, and separated from it by a wide space of salt marsh with crooked channels, was Morris Island, composed of the sand-dunes thrown up by the wind and the sea, backed with the salt marsh. On this was the lighthouse, but no people.
On the left, looking down the bay from the Battery of Charleston, was, first, Castle Pinckney, a round brick fort, of two tiers of guns, one in embrasure, the other in barbette, built on a marsh island, which was not garrisoned. Farther down the bay a point of the mainland reached the bay, where there was a group of houses, called Mount Pleasant; and at the extremity of the bay, distant six miles, was Sullivan's Island, presenting a smooth sand-beach to the sea, with the line of sand-hills or dunes thrown up by the waves and winds, and the usual backing of marsh and crooked salt-water channels.
At the shoulder of this island was Fort Moultrie, an irregular fort, without ditch or counterscarp, with a brick scarp wall about twelve feet high, which could be scaled anywhere, and this was surmounted by an earth parapet capable of mounting about forty twenty-four and thirty-two pounder smooth-bore iron guns. Inside the fort were three two-story brick barracks, sufficient to quarter the officers and men of two companies of artillery.
At sea was the usual "bar," changing slightly from year to year, but generally the main ship-channel came from the south, parallel to Morris Island, till it was well up to Fort Moultrie, where it curved, passing close to Fort Sumter and up to the wharves of the city, which were built mostly along the Cooper River front. Charleston was then a proud, aristocratic city, and assumed a leadership in the public opinion of the South far out of proportion to her population, wealth, or commerce. On more than one occasion previously, the inhabitants had almost inaugurated civil war, by their assertion and professed belief that each State had, in the original compact of government, reserved to itself the right to withdraw from the Union at its own option, whenever the people supposed they had sufficient cause.
We used to discuss these things at our own mess-tables, vehemently and sometimes quite angrily; but I am sure that I never feared it would go further than it had already gone in the winter of '33, when the attempt at "nullification" was promptly suppressed by President Jackson's famous declaration, "The Union must and shall be preserved!
Still, civil war was to be; and, now that it has come and gone, we can rest secure in the knowledge that as the chief cause, slavery, has been eradicated forever, it is not likely to come again. Judd was the senior first-lieutenant, and I was the junior first-lieutenant, and George B. Ayres the second-lieutenant.
Two other companies were at the post, viz. Keyes's, and among the officers were T. Sherman, Morris Miller, H. The country now known as Texas had been recently acquired, and war with Mexico was threatening. One of our companies Bragg's , with George H.
Thomas, John F. In that year I received the regular detail for recruiting service, with orders to report to the general superintendent at Governor's Island, New York; and accordingly left Fort Moultrie in the latter part of April, and reported to the superintendent, Colonel R.
I was assigned to the Pittsburg rendezvous, whither I proceeded and relieved Lieutenant Scott. Early in May I took up my quarters at the St. Charles Hotel, and entered upon the discharge of my duties.
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There was a regular recruiting-station already established, with a sergeant, corporal, and two or three men, with a citizen physician, Dr. McDowell, to examine the recruits. The threatening war with Mexico made a demand for recruits, and I received authority to open another sub-rendezvous at Zanesville, Ohio, whither I took the sergeant and established him. This was very handy to me, as my home was at Lancaster, Ohio, only thirty-six miles off, so that I was thus enabled to visit my friends there quite often.
In the latter part of May, when at Wheeling, Virginia, on my way back from Zanesville to Pittsburg, I heard the first news of the battle of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, which occurred on the 8th and 9th of May, and, in common with everybody else, felt intensely excited. That I should be on recruiting service, when my comrades were actually fighting, was intolerable, and I hurried on to my post, Pittsburg. At that time the railroad did not extend west of the Alleghanies, and all journeys were made by stage-coaches. In this instance I traveled from Zanesville to Wheeling, thence to Washington Pennsylvania , and thence to Pittsburg by stage-coach.