FROM GEN. NELSON’S BRIGADE [Division].
CINCINNATI COMMERCIAL, Published December 28, 1861
CAMP WICKLIFFE, LARUE CO., KY.
DECEMBER 23, 1861
EDS. COM.: - While the “bold sojer boys” are out on brigade drill, which, owing to the depressed status of the thermometer, will probably impress the boys as more a bore than a drill, your correspondent, true to his native instinct, remains in the Major’s quarters, permanently located on a camp stool, near the sheet iron parlor cook stove, to give your readers some of the incidents of camp life in this division of “Buell’s Grand army.” When we use the term “grand,” we mean such grandeur as is presented by a vast body of brave men who have left their families, friends, and occupations, to fight the battles of our country, and are here lying in camp, sick and dying, awaiting orders to more onward and accomplish the task for which they feel themselves so ready and so competent.
This division is located on most beautiful and healthful camping grounds, and had a vast field near by for a drill ground, which was made in the following manner: The men were marched into the fields of an old “secesher” hard by, who rejoices in the name of McDougal, and stacking arms near the various partition fences, were ordered “Right About!” “Shoulder rails!” “Forward march!” “Ground rails!” And in less than five minutes not a chunk was left to mark the lines where so lately stood the fences in all their defiant grandeur, and the rich old pastures presented the appearance of a Kansas prairie, inviting our army to revel in their maneuvers, monarchs of all they survey.
It is worth mentioning here that this is the same drill-ground used by the rebel Buckner, when on his march south with his bogus “State Guard,” and had the young ladies to bear the secesh flag over the heads of the misguided young rebels. But alas!
“Leaves have their time in fall, And flowers to wither at the north wind’s breath.”
So it was with Buckner and his chivalrous command; for lo! The “Union Home Guard” appeared in the dim distance, and “secesh” precipitately fled, leaving behind their coats, hats, arms, baggage, and everything which tended to impede their onward flight.
Last night was pronounced by all the boys the most “perfect stinger” they have felt since they left home. But “a soldier’s life is always gay.” For about midnight some timid picket on the outposts fired (at his own shadow, perhaps), and the long roll was beaten, and the two brigades called out and formed into line of battle, and remained chilling in the cold until the cause of alarm could be discovered.
Surgeon Mussey, of Cincinnati, arrived here this afternoon, to take charge of this command as Division Surgeon.
Our neighbor McDougal is now experiencing some of the disadvantages of secession, his house being surrounded day and night by our guards, to see that none pass or repass that are not worthy and well qualified, and as the General has issued an order that none but field officers be allowed admittance, it greatly discomforts Captains and Lieutenants who are disciples of Benedict, and might otherwise seize and confiscate unto themselves the old Seceshers fair daughters.
No one here seems disposed to prophecy the time when we will be favored with orders to march from our present camp, but as we hear that Loomis’ Battery and Bridgeland’s Cavalry are on the way hither, we seem disposed “to labor and to wait.” One thing I can assure you is, that when this division advances on the rebels somebody will be hurt. I won’t say who.
The 36th Indiana, under Col. Grose, Lieut. Col. Cary and Major Bennett, is conceded by all to be the best, as well as the largest regiment in this division. They are “Bully boys” in the full sense of the words.
You may soon look for something more from your own,
FROM GEN. NELSON’S BRIGADE
FROM GEN. NELSON’S BRIGADE
CINCINNATI COMMERCIAL, December 28, 1861
CAMP WICKLIFFE, DEC. 24, 1861.
EDS. COM.: - There is a dearth of news in camp. Cold, bitter cold, seems not only to freeze up all items, but itemizers also.
Here we are, Christmas to-morrow, but no hopes of meeting with any luxurious repast, or loved friends, but I suppose the boys will endeavor to have as jolly a time as possible. Country people are driving a brisk trade in turkeys and chickens; the officers especially are “heavy on the fowls.”
Last night we had the first “long roll” of the season, caused by the accidental discharge of a gun in the hands of a guard belonging to the 15th Indiana. The entire division was out and in full trim in less than fifteen minutes. Our boys, however, smelt the rat from the first, having frequently before heard the aforesaid music.
A number of amusing incidents occurred, the night being a dark, dismal, very cold and terribly windy one. John F. Hall, Esq., a well known gentleman among railroad men, being on a visit to some friends, made all sorts of preparations for coming events – borrowed a cartridge box, which in his hurry and nervousness he had placed inside out, a large knapsack and two revolvers, completed his armament. John attached himself to the well known Gen. Andy Hall’s brigade, and shivering and shaking from the cold, he stood awaiting further orders; his canteen, a bran new one, was empty.
After half an hour of suspense the order came to return to quarters, upon the reception of which there were but few refusals to comply.
The news of Pope’s grand defeat of the rebels in Missouri, caused a feeling of intense joy throughout the camp, and their greatest wish is that they may soon have an opportunity of showing the effect of their training in Virginia, and there is no doubt but that wish will soon be gratified.
The roads are strongly picketed throughout the entire country about here, and scarce a day passes but arrest are made – the caution of Gen. Nelson is proverbial, and there is no fear that any move made by Buckner will not be check-mated.
Dr. Mussey arrived in camp yesterday, and immediately assumes the important post of Surgeon to the Division; his well known abilities make all feel that in case an amputation is necessary, he will do it in the most “approved manner,” and with exquisite skill.
The greatest activity is constantly displayed and nothing is left undone to make the men as comfortable as possible under the circumstances.
The boys are all well; and still continue in fine spirits, wishing all the friends of the regiment a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
FROM GEN. NELSON’S BRIGADE [Division]
(CORRESPONDENCE CINCINNATI COMMERCIAL.)
Published December 31, 1861
CAMP WICKLIFFE, KY., Dec. 26, 1861.
EDS, COM.: - The booming of artillery was distinctly heard in camp this morning, and the same enlivened the boys amazingly; the only surmise we have is that more of our forces are crossing Green river. To-day we had an arrival of cavalry; whose they are, or how many, I shall not mention. Suffice it to say, they “arriv.” Christmas passed off very reluctantly, for a longer day for so short a one, was never known; the men all tried their best to make a merry Christmas of it, but there was nothing to make it merry with. The General is a regular Maine law man. – Parties were given all over camp. On the tables of the various hosts might have been seen – green peas, green corn, oysters, turkeys, and the usual luxuries of a city hotel. These were all brought, a matter of course, from Louisville.
Gen. Buckner promised, very kindly, to invite himself to dine with Capt. Millar, of the Galt House at Louisville, going so far as to send his bill of fare to the captain. It is hardly necessary for me to say that he failed to “come to dine.” It is to be hoped that we may be allowed to visit the gentleman on New Year’s, and make enquiries as to the cause of his delay.
We are now having a delightful spell of wet weather, so that it may be safely said – everything is going on swimmingly.
The first Division Court Martial convened to-day. This is the highest military tribunal in this branch of the army, and was ordered by General Buell. Gen. Ammon, formerly Colonel of the 24th Ohio, is the presiding officer. The members of the Court are Col. Gross of the 36th Indiana; Colonel Matthews of the 51st Ohio; Lieut. Col. Anderson, of the 6th Ohio; Lieut. Col. Ryan, of the 34th Indiana, Major Hayden, of 51st Ohio, and Major Bennett, of the 36th Ind. – Col. Hazen, of the 41st Ohio, is Judge Advocate.
There are quite a number of important trials upon the docket, our own regiment having its share. One wretch will no doubt fell the severest penalty of the law, if the charges against him are proven, (and there is no doubt that they will be.) A fiend, John Machly by name, a member of Co. C, stole away from camp a day or two since, went to the house of a farmer, stole sundry articles, and violated the person of a little girl, only eight years of age. The whole company are intensely excited, and could they have their way in the matter, he would not live to be tried by a Court Martial.
To-day, our Colonel being unwell, the Lieut. Colonel at Court, and the Major on picket duty, Capt. Pick Russell acted as Colonel, and Lieut. Sheriden as Lieut. Colonel, taking the battalion to division drill. They acquitted themselves admirably.
Charley Peck, formerly our Quartermaster Sergeant, arrived to-day, with his commission as 1st Lieutenant of Co. K. He will prove a valuable acquisition, as he is certainly one of the most energetic men in our battalion. Respectfully yours,
Cincinnati Commercial, Published December 30, 1861
LETTER FROM CAMP WICKLIFFE.
The Soldier Boys on Christmas Day – Three in a bed – Prospects – The Mails.
Camp Wickliffe, Ky., Dec. 25.
EDS. COM.: - As this is Christmas day, a few more notes from this quarter may be of interest to your readers. The boys are excused from drill, to-day, and arrangements are being made in camp to have a good, old-fashioned Christmas dinner. Yesterday the natives, from miles around, loaded their ox wagons with whatever they possessed which might tempt the palate of our soldiers, and equipping themselves in their best suit of butternut jeans, found their way to our camps. I send you a bill of their prices: - Turkeys, 60 cts; geese, 40 cts; cornmeal, 50 cts; potatoes 60 cts per bushel, and other vegetables in proportion. It must be remembered that most of the above articles found here are of very inferior quality. Pies are also brought here for sale, but owing to the absence of lard in their composition, the crust is more like squirrel skin than native pie crust. At our bunk we will have oysters, sweet potatoes, coffee, crackers, and a roasted goose, and as I have always found myself “right on the goose,” especially when the “oily quadruped” is served up for dinner, I may be counted in to be on hand.
My lines have always fallen in pleasant places, for I am being quartered with the Lieutenant Colonel and Major of the 36th Indiana and have the ex-squeezeite pleasure of sleeping on a narrow bed between the “military corporations” of the aforesaid dignitaries – and when I desire to turn over in the night, I have only to command, “Attention, company! About face!” and the order of the spoons is at once reversed, until it may please one of my bunkmates to repeat the same command; and as for covering, a narrow blanket answers for all three, if properly balanced.
This is a most beautiful day, the air is as soft and balmy as a May day, and the soldiers are turned loose, free to enjoy themselves as unto them seemeth best, subject only in the constitution of military camp and the orders of Gen. Nelson. The officers are out in their best “store clothes,” and the bands on the opposite hills are discoursing national airs in a manner not surpassed by Mentor or Dodsworth. Passes are freely granted to the privates to visit their friends in the other camps, and it is a merry Christmas. Friends are meeting friends whom they have not seen before since the fall of Sumter called them from their hitherto quiet and happy homes, and their hearty congratulations almost make me wish I were a soldier.
This has been selected by Dr. Mussey as an appropriate day for vaccinating all the soldiers of this division, and all day long squads of men have been moving toward the hospitals to have the surgical operation performed upon them by companies. This is surely a wise measure of prevention on the part of Dr. Mussey.
I can see no immediate prospect for a fight here but it can not be more than ten days distant. The suttlers are realizing the beauties of Christmas in a substantial manner, for all day long there has been a constant throng of the boys around their stands, loading their arms and pockets with ginger cakes, figs, cheese, common cigars, &c, &c.
If the friends of the boys in the service could only see the anxiety with which the boys await the arrival of the mails, and see the seal of disappointment which fixed itself on their countenances as the unfortunate ones turn away and say “none of my friends think enough of me to write” – they would write methinks, more frequently than they do. I shall leave this camp to-morrow, and attempt to find my way over to the camps on Green river, on the Louisville and Nashville RR. Whether I am picked up by some [illegible word] secesh picket, or get safely through, you will soon again hear from
A.M. [A Correspondent]
LETTER FROM CAMP WICKLIFFE.
CINCINNATI COMMERCIAL, Published January 6, 1862
Camp Wickliffe, Ky., Jan. 3d.
EDS. COM.: - The anticipation of an early forward movement keeps the division in pretty good spirits, notwithstanding the excessive mean disposition of the weather. The sleet and rain, or rain and sleet, has made picket and guard duty a very onerous task. This morning large squads of men returning from their posts to camp, came in enveloped in a case of ice, presenting a glittering appearance.
Gen. Nelson goes to Louisville to-day to confer with Gen. Buell upon important business. The Green River Bridge is just rebuilt and pontoons are being made as fast as possible, to render everything safe for so large an army to cross Green River. I do not really believe that Buckner will fight, but when he finds he is so completely surrounded, will, like Davy Crockett’s coon, “come down.”
We have ample proof daily that his army is demoralized and hard to restrain. We hear daily of numerous escapes of men who have been with the Confeds. Once beyond Buckner’s pickets, they are safe, and those who dare venture on the safe side of the line are not backward in returning to their homes. Several have since joined the Federal troops, thus acknowledging in a worthy manner, the error of their way. Important information is thus gained by our commanders.
Buckner has eat his neighborhood completely out, so that chickens brought from a distance command 50 and 75 cts each. Hams sell at 30 cents per pound; Eggs 50 cents per dozen. As a matter of course they pay nothing but Confederate Scrip. Hundreds who are forced to take it, gather it up and hurry further South; sell it at 30 and 40 cents discount, knowing it will be worthless when the Federal troops pay them a visit.
The carelessness of guards has caused two more midnight long-rolls to be sounded, getting the boys out of bed to shiver in the cold. General Nelson swears he will make an example of the next “careless devil.”
Two more prisoners were brought into camp last night and delivered over to Col. Anderson. They had important documents with them.
Doctors Ames and Stephens have just completed the vaccinations of the Sixth, Ohio. – The entire division now, through the untiring exertions of Dr. Mussey, may be said to be in splendid sanitary condition. There have been several deaths in Colonel Hazen’s regiment, 41st Ohio, from Measles. General Nelson, thinking the location had something to do with the fatality of this disease, ordered the regiment to remove from its position adjoining this, to a beautiful spot half a mile east of us.
There are now three captains under arrest belonging to this regiment. Folks at home need not be at all alarmed, as “under arrest” does not mean confined in a cell, or manacled with chains, or even under guard; it merely means in a military point of view, in such slight cases of misdemeanor, that they are not allowed to take command of their companies, wear a sword or go beyond the limits of their own battalion, unless by special permit from the General.
There is no doubt but that most of the cases brought before the court will be disposed of by a slight fine and reprimand.
A noticeable feature in this division is the freedom of both officers and men from intoxication. I don’t believe more than half were tight on either Christmas or New Year’s.
The greatest bore we have to contend with is rheumatism, of which there are many cases, your correspondent being a severe sufferer. This is, no doubt, from the excessive wet camping in Western Virginia. I leave to-day for Louisville, from whence I may write, if anything of note presents itself.
ALF. BURNETT. [6th Ohio]
FROM GEN. NELSON’S ARMY.
CINCINNATI COMMERCIAL, Published January 7, 1862
Camp Wickliffe, Jan. 4, 1862.
The troops which at present compose this Division, consist of the 6th Ohio, Col. Bosley; 24th Ohio, Capt. Wiggins commanding; 41st Ohio, Col. Hazen; 51st Ohio, Col. Stanley Matthews; 15th Indiana, Col. Wagner; 17th Indiana, Lieut. Col. Wilder; 34th Indiana, Col. Steele; 36th Indiana, Col. Gross.
The Ohio 24th and 51st, and 34th and 36th Indiana, compose Gen. Ammon’s Brigade. The 15th and 17th Indiana, and 6th and 41st Ohio, Gen. Hascall’s Brigade.
Dr. Mussey, by seniority of commission, is Surgeon to the Division, and Dr. Woodford, formerly Brigade Surgeon of Gen. Nelson, is Surgeon to Gen. Ammon’s Brigade. No Brigade Surgeon is as yet, appointed to Gen. Hascall’s Command. The troops are twelve miles west of New Haven, and four miles beyond Mumford’s Hill. The encampment is on three small hills, the spurs of which run to the turnpike road. Immediately west of this is a creek of clear, pure water, which is bridged; having crossed this, you enter on either side of the road, two beautiful meadows, containing fifty or sixty acres each, which are used for drilling and parade ground. The ground was selected by Gen. Nelson, and is but another evidence of his practical good sense. It is healthful, economical, convenient, and beautifully located. The drainage is good, water pure and handy, woods so close that the men obtain their own wood, plenty of forage, and a good market – the latter at personal expense, but at reasonable rates.
It is a beautiful sight to see the entire command drawn up in line over this gently slopingmeadow, officers and men in full dress; horses richly caparisoned; banners waving, and thousands of bayonets gleaming in the sun light. On they come, led by “old Jake,” (Ammon), with a dashing, frolicksome horse. Close in pursuit is the deep, full notes of his band, and to its measured strains, in double quick, comes his trusty footmen, platoon after platoon. Next we see the gallant Hazen, with his fine person gracing his prancing horse. The band followed close behind, and closer still his well drilled men. The notes of his excellent band still linger in delight on the ear. Then comes in turn a fine black horse, with a fine person on him, and men as true and drilled, the Stanley Matthews crew; and still they come. Young Anderson appears, with the gallant “Guthries.” The lines are made – a distance far and wide. A blast upon fife and drum, and horn, announces the General here! Off moves his fine Kentucky horse, whose rider to his State has proved one step above the rest. Review is past, and now comes in the steady, systematic drill. The General commanded the troops in person, giving them in broken portions his efficient “tonic restorative” of four hours’ drill a day
Gen. Nelson is a rigid disciplinarian, a man of remarkable memory, fine discrimination, quick perception, acute and close observation, with much energy of character, and go-aheaditiveness. His travel has been extensive – his reading wonderfully so, both literary and scientific, and, having command of a language, and a memory of wonderful capacity, he is, when you can put the blutter of business a far off, one among the most interesting men in his conversation I have ever seen. His detail of travel, which has been extensive, of occult problems in science, of men and manners, and of books and authors is singularly acute and accurate. His manner of transacting business is on the “quarter deck” style, often abrupt and repulsive, so much so, that a person is sometimes left in doubt, whether his dignity is really insulted, or whether the rules of military ethics and discipline, and a rigorous execution of orders, carries with it its proper justification.
It is the manner more than the thing. He will scold, he will swear, and he will punish any, and every one, friend or foe, who does not come to time, and who does not enforce everything he requires to the letter. Discipline, obedience and execution, is his "Alpha and Omega.” From what I have seen and observed of Gen. Nelson, or of the “Big Buster,” as some of the “Guthries” call him, I predict him to be one of the “coming men,” one whose mark will not be mistaken when this rebellion is over.
What we want now is men of the same stamp – men of energy and action – men who will fight them at every corner, and if they do not whip the rebels this time, they know what force it will take to do it next time.
There will not be an onward move of the troops until the bridge is finished over Green River, which will be in a few days. There are nearly one thousand men sick in camp – mostly of measles. The 41st Ohio and 36th Indiana have the largest per cent of sickness. Each regiment have the small wall tent, which crowds too many men in a small space. I am glad to hear they will give place to the Sibley tent in a few days.
The 6th Ohio, Guthrie Grays, have among them many young men of decided talent and merit. They give Concerts, Dialogues and Readings, in a private way. Some of them are hard to excell by the best actors.
A few days since some Western Yankee built a chimney to his tent. It was found to act like a charm – healthful as well as comfortable. It is constructed by taking square pieces of sod and clay, placed upon each other like a stone. They are built four or five feet high and a barrel placed upon the top. A seam in the tent is ripped to admit the bore of the chimney. An old fashioned cabin fire is the result, around which we draw our camp stools, sit puffing our “briar root pipes,” plotting the destruction and capture of rebels, telling stories of modern and ancient invention, thinking of home and its sacred “loved ones,” or what “big buster” will come down on us to-morrow with, like a “thousand of brick,” striking terror to Colonels, Doctors, Majors, Captains and Orderlies.
The Christmas box which Adams & Co. have expressed to us, has gladdened many hearts. A camp table is spread and bread broken in remembrance of the kind hands who prepared the feast. I chanced to be on the tasting committee who opened a box of Dr. Bradford’s Brigade Surgeon of the 10th. There were boiled hams, turkeys, canned peaches, tomatoes, lobsters, jellies, wines and cakes; each one labeled by the fair lady friends who sent them.
We who live on army rations, such things come like “pleasant thoughts when such are wanted.” The ushering in of the Christmas holidays made white shirts an institution again – the army woolen, with an infinitude of colors, having had the pre-emption right on common occasions. Looking glasses are a novelty. I have not seen myself for two weeks, and only know that it is the personal pronoun I, by the familiar size of my limbs, and the gestatory acuteness of my taste at mess. Imagine to yourself ten thousand women without a mirror, and “Big Buster” himself, with all his discipline, could not make a march.
No one gets in or out of the lines without a pass from General Nelson. Yesterday the “pickets” arrested a man attempting to get in the lines. When brought before the General he claimed to be a Kentuckian – wished to visit some of his friends near Green River. The General told him he was no Kentuckian, but a sailor and a spy. His dress was shabby and weather-beaten. The General smelling a “mice,” ordered him stripped and searched; when lo and behold, a neat uniform was the substratum of his dress.
On Monday two more Brigades are to be added to General Nelson’s division. This will give him from twelve to fifteen thousand men.
In this Department the superiority of our horses over that of the Potomac, and other places, is striking, and adds both beauty and fame to our military display.
For the future, should I write you an occasional letter, brevity and practical detail will be
FROM GEN. NELSON’S DIVISION.
FROM GEN. NELSON’S DIVISION.
CINCINNATI COMMERCIAL, Published January 11, 1862
Camp Wickliffe, Ky.,
Jan. 6, 1862.
Gen. Buell will be greatly surprised when seeing this letter in print, he becomes apprised that in spite of all prohibition to the contrary, enforced with so much vigilance and impartiality, an army correspondent has penetrated his lines. I am fully aware, however, of the responsibility incurred, and shall endeavor, in my communications, not to pass the limits of military toleration. The enemy will look in vain to me, for any information, useful to him. It is perhaps doubtful whether any friend will succeed better.
Camp Wickliffe, your readers are perhaps already aware, is the headquarters of Gen. Nelson’s Division of the army of the Ohio. It is situated on both sides of a public road, with a stream of fine running water conveniently near. The slopes of its hills were recently well timbered, and are still studded with freshly-cut stumps. The soldiers gave generously cleaned the land, belonging to some malicious rebel, who will probably never acknowledge properly his obligation, and notwithstanding the cold weather, there has been no scarcity of firewood. The encampment is on this side of Green River, (which this side is, depending altogether on the inquisitive reader,) and is situated principally between Bardstown and Bowling Green, stretching some distance in both directions.
Gen. Nelson’s Division consists of several brigades, including the 10th and 15th. In the former are the 24th and 51st Ohio regiments; in the later the 6th and 41st. Col. Ammen commanding the 10th, and Col. Hascall, of the 17th Indiana, the 15th. Another Brigade has been organized, including, I understand, one Kentucky and two Indiana Regiments, which, together with his own, will be placed under command of Col. Hazen, of the 41st Ohio, a very competent officer, although a graduate of West Point. Col. Ammen is well known to your readers, and his industry, skill, prudence, and a thousand other good qualities of head and heart, are fully appreciated by all who know him. He is a great stickler for the Army Regulations and believes strenuously in the Articles of War; and consequently is a very rigid, though a very impartial disciplinarian. He was sorely perplexed, however, the other night, with a struggle between the necessities of his situation, and his sense of military obligation. The Regulations forbid the imprisonment of a commissioned officer. An officer in Col. Ammen’s command, one night lately, enjoyed the festivities of the season, got drunk. Boisterous and abusive. The question was, how to restore order and not violate the sanctity of the commissions. He consulted the Regulations, and finding no prohibition to the contrary, bucked and gagged him. – In that and other similar mild and persuasive ways – suaviter in modo, fotiter in re – he has succeeded in ridding his regiment of all its worthless officers, and endearing himself to the men, who originally elected them.
It will gratify the numerous Cincinnati friends of Gen. Nelson to learn that, notwithstanding the fatigues and anxieties of the campaign, he has, as yet, lost no flesh. Sighing and grief continue to do their melancholy work upon him, as they did upon poor Jack Falstaff. I am sorry to say, however, that his even and amiable temper is not always proof against the provocations daily furnished by the stupidity and carelessness he is required to control and punish. He has occasionally, I am informed, been pushed to an extremity, bordering closely upon an irreverent, if not a profane expression. He is a terror to all sleeping sentinels and inattentive officers of guards, for he bursts in upon their camps at all hours, and precipitates himself upon them in the most unexpected ways. In one of the regiments, the other night, there was, at a late hour, an unusual and unaccountable uproar. “There comes the General,” thought the Colonel, as he afterwards told me, but on rushing out to learn the cause of the disturbance, he ascertained it we merely a stampede among his regimental teams.
In spite of the impatience of an ignorant public, Gen. Buell is pursuing his plans, with a quiet energy, that means to be satisfied with no half-way success. When they unfold its full development, I predict they will surprise his enemy as well as his friends. One of those little but characteristic things, which mark the man as an accomplished soldier, came out the other day. Gen. Dumont, on assuming command of some troops, temporarily stationed at Bardstown, published a pompous proclamation, the substance of which was they his soldiers had come into Kentucky, for patriotism, and not for plunder, and though they were from Indiana, they should not steal. General Buell replied to it, with General Order No. 23, in the words and figures following to-wit:
“The issuing of proclamations or other similar addresses to the public by Generals or other subordinate officers in this Department is prohibited.”
Is this not exquisite?
But I trespass upon you too long. In my next, I will continue my narrative of stirring events, and shall not forget to acquaint you with our advance, as soon as we make one.
P.S. – I have just learned that Col. Stanley Matthews, of your city, in command of the 51st Ohio Regiment, is devoting his leisure time to the collection of materials for a book on military science, which, it is expected, will be a valuable contribution to the literature of that subject. It is to be published anonymously, and will be entitled, “Thoughts on War,” by a Warrior. It will be dedicated to Alf. Burnett – the dedication consisting of a poem in Heroic Measure, written by that gentleman himself. Mr. Curwen, of your city, has generously volunteered to furnish for it, a copious index of subjects, words, letters, and punctuation, both backwards and forwards, and a supplement of various readings, with critical notes, showing how it might have read, if it had been differently written.
FROM GEN. NELSON’S DIVISION.
(CORRESPONDENCE CINCINNATI COMMERCIAL.)
Published January 13, 1862
Camp Wickliffe, Ky., Jan. 8, 1862.
This is a holiday with our division, and salvos of artillery are being fired in honor of the event that transpired at New Orleans, forty-seven years ago to-day. As the sullen roar is wafted to us on the morning breeze, it furnishes wild melody to the soldier, and food for meditation to the thoughtful. How natural that to-day thought goes up the stream of time for more than a generation, and while we dwell upon that brilliant feat of arms which shed such glory on our name, that we associate with that act the people whose humiliation was our triumph. The enemy of 1815 is menacing us again to-day, and while our statesmen are regarding with an anxious gaze, the dark cloud gathering upon the horizon’s verge, from tent and field the volunteer soldier watched the sign of coming events with equal solicitude, for he knows that upon his breast must fail the iron ball, and that he is the aegis of a mighty nation’s honor. He knows that the present mad rebellion is but a rippled in the ocean of fire fast rushing upon us. And yet he regards the coming struggle firmly and hopefully, for he feels that it the young nation of half a century ago, could check, the mighty power of to-day, with its numberless legion of veterans, can crush the arrogant nation of freebooters, who, forgetting kindred blood, and all things but their insatiate thirst for spoil, are striving to force upon us a dishonorable peace, or drive us into war while we are crushing rebellion at home.
Let not our rulers be deceived again, for it must come, and soon. Launch fleets and quadruple our armies if necessary, and be ready. However, as it was my intention at sitting down, to write a letter, not deliver an oration. I will return to my subject, and state that but little is now transpiring in camp of general interest to your readers. Drills go on with clock-like regularity, and, the chaotic mass of undisciplined men who arrived here a few weeks ago are fast being transformed into soldiers. This is attributable alone to the master spirit of the ground, Gen. Nelson.
The want of competent field and line officers is keenly felt by some of the regiments. When first called into the field, many officers were elected for being “good fellows,” without regard to qualification. The fatal error is now apparent to all, and the “good fellow” is crowded aside for the man of brains and energy. Instances could be cited in our own brigade.
I am more favorably impressed as day follows day, with the staunch support we are receiving from the loyal men of Kentucky. They stand out in strong contrast to the imbecile spirits who ostensibly espoused our cause in Western Virginia. We possess here what the secessionists did in that State, a large majority of the wealth, the energy and the intellect of the people. True Kentuckians can be seen on all sides, who have come up promptly at their country’s call; and have pledged “their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honors,” to repel from their soil the ruthless invader.
An anecdote was told me to-day, characteristic of the brave General McCook, now in advance. Buckner recently sent to him by a flag of truce a message, to the effect that unless he withdrew his troops from the State within fifteen days, that he (Buckner) would annihilate them. Our gallant champion’s only reply was a cannon ball, which he gave to the emissary, telling him to deliver it to Buckner.
Our boys are furious for practical jokes, and are constantly on the look-out for subjects. One was recently procured in the person of a new teamster, who had the charge of six large, shaggy mules. John was also proprietor of two bottles of old Bourbon – a contraband in camp – which a wag discovered, and resolved to possess. – Being aware that the driver’s presence was an impediment to the theft, he hit upon the following plan to get rid of him.
Approaching the driver, who was busy currying his mules, he accosted him with, - “I say, old fellow, what are you doing there?”
“Can’t you see?” replied John, gruffly.
“Certainly,” responded wag, “but that is not your business. It is after tattoo, and there is a fellow hired here by the General, who curries all the mules and horses brought in after tattoo.”
The mule driver bit at once, and wanted to know where the “hair dresser” kept himself. Whereupon he was directed to Gen. Nelson’s tent, with the assurance that there was where the fellow “hung out.”
You can’t mistake the man,” said wag; “he is a large fellow, and puts on a thundering sight of airs, for a man in his business. He will probably refuse to do it, and tell you to go to the devil, but don’t mind that; he has been drinking to-day. Make him come out sure.”
John posted off, and entering the tent where our Napoleon of the 4th Division sat in deep reverie, probably considering the most expeditions method of expelling the rebel Buckner from his native state, slapped him on the back, with force sufficient to annihilate a man of ordinary size. Springing to his feet, the General accosted his uninvited guest with, “Well, sir, who are you, and what the devil do you want.”
“Old hoss, I’ve got a job for you now, – six mules to be curried; and right off, too.” Said the Captain of mules, nothing daunted at the flashing eye of the General.
“Do you know whom you are addressing, sire,” asked the indigent commander.
“Yes,” said John, elevating his voice to a pitch which rendered the words audible a square off, “you are the fellow hired by Uncle Sam to clean mules, and I wont have any foolishness. Clean them mules and I’ll give you a drink of busthead.”
“You infernal villain!” exclaimed the General, now perfectly furious, “I am General Nelson, commander of this Division!”
John placed the thumb of his right hand against his nose, and extending his fingers, waved them slowly, in a manner supposed by some to be indicative of great wisdom.
The General’s sword leaped from its scabbard and John from the tent just in time to save his head.
Our boys drank the “big mule driver’s” health in the Bourbon. The story soon got out, and is now the joke of the season.
General Nelson has been dealing destruction among negligent and incompetent officers. Many have been placed under arrest, and consequently his quarters present the appearance of a second-hand sword store. He is daily becoming more popular with the men. Troops with ordinary intelligence soon learn that a General who holds officers responsible for dereliction of duty, sees that his soldiers are fed with wholesome food, properly clothed, and that the sick are cared for, is their true friend, although he may demand of them strict compliance with military discipline.
Four regiments of troops have just come up form the rear – three Indiana regiments and one from Kentucky. An advance by our division to Green river was rumored in camp a few days since, but I believe it has been abandoned for the present.
General Haskell is seriously ill, and Col. Bosley is in command of our brigade.
Col. Hazen, of the 41st Ohio, has been assigned a brigade. He is one of the most competent officers in the army.
There is much sickness in the division; fortunately for us, however, but little in the 6th Ohio.
I am fully satisfied that regiments form the rural districts are more susceptible of disease than those from cities. I have remarked it throughout the entire campaign and deem is attributable in the tact that city-bred youths early in life culture all the contagious diseases to which flesh is heir, and that their irregular habits accustom them to fatigues which the country boy, however ruggedly reared, is not prepared to bear. Our own regiment is a proof of this operation. While at present country regiments have from two hundred and fifty to three hundred men sick, we have but twenty even but slightly indisposed. The 6th Ohio, during an arduous campaign of eight months, has lost but two men by disease.
Quartermaster Shoemaker has obtained for our regiment a full supply of first-class Sibley tents a great desideration.
I would advise those at home when writing to friends in the army to inclose a few letter stamps, as none can be had here.
Camp Wickliffe, Ky., Jan. 31, 1862.
Eds. Com.: - I enter my canvas pavilion for the
purpose of writing you a letter – not one of these unpleasant things detailing
battles, in which goodly men, are bereft of life by cold steel and villainous
saltpetre in the hands of sanguinary soldiers, but as Mrs. Partington expresses
it – “a rekirky affair” – one which will be approved by the delicately
organized peace element of this great Republic; and consequently, “I’ll roar
you gently as a sucking dove.”
Honorable Russell, of London Times notoriety, I propose to distinguish my
letters by truthfulness and originality; so there goes for a whopper.
is a bully war! So much soldiering, and so little fighting. Our regiment has been “going” for a
fight, like the bull in the China store, since April last, and has incurred no
this war business rapidly assumes a different phase, I fear that the Bird of
Jove will cease to perch above my drowsy couch during hours of gentle slumber,
and the American flag portion of my composition will depart. The only fragment of that ever glorious
banner now enshrined within me is the field, and I am becoming bluer, and more
bluer every day. In fact, I begin
to think that I have mistaken my calling.
are improving this “masterly inactivity,” however. Our days are spent in drills, and immense quantities of the
midnight oil is wasted in study by our officers, many of whom are dead letter
perfect in Scott and Hardee’s tactics; also the 42d Article of War. I am improving my military education by
a careful perusal of Beadle’s Dime Novels. I have just finished the “Red Avenger,” and am about to take
up “Guzabo, the White Warrior with the Red Nose.” I am also gaining a thorough knowledge of the enemy’s
position from pictures in Harper’s Weekly and Yankee Notions. My geographical education, which was
sadly neglected in early life, has been materially improved by scrutinizing the
elegant maps published in the Cincinnati Daily Times.
we all contemplate running for President as soon as we return home, I am
becoming conversant with American history and international law by reading the
at the risk of giving information to the enemy, I impart the important news
that all is quiet this side of Green river.
Nelson has been suddenly called to the advance by word that the rebels are
flying from Bowling Green. If this
proves true, we will probably advance a few miles further into Dixie.
already feel quite brave. “Oh,
would I were in Dixie!” I trust,
however, that Gen. Nelson will not rush us into unnecessary danger. Why should we provoke an enemy that
will run away if left alone? Ours is a very pacific army, and a
sudden move in the direction of an enemy would give some of our officers trouble,
inasmuch as they have no swords at present.
suggest that our guns be left behind, as they fatigue the men unnecessarily,
and previous to coming to Kentucky were never used except for shooting pigs.
have fears that the General will not take my advice, and he is said to be very
fond of getting into dangerous positions, and generally fights for a funeral.
General is quite popular with our boys, but I fear that my regiment is in bad
odor with him. He has not cursed
us for a week, and the fact is regarded as a mark of his displeasure. “You are commanded to arrest all my
has ceased to arrest individuals for breach of discipline. His time is so precious that the favor
can only be conferred upon whole regiments. I hear it rumoured that he contemplates putting the entire
division in the guard house. Quien
a number of officers are [illegible line of type] prevailing disease is,
“Nelson on the brain.”
soldiers in neighboring regiments are sick. Our boys are remarkably healthy, which is attributed to
washing their faces daily, and not allowing their socks to sour upon their
stomachs. The only complaint they
make, is that the water here is too thin, from which I infer that we have too
much water and too little whisky.
This will, probably, be remedied in the course of a few days, as some of
my comrades, - scientific men, – inform me that they have sunk an artesian well
near by, to the inconsiderable depth of thirty-five thousand feet, and that it
ejects one thousand gallons of pure “Bourbon” per minute. Three or four such as this will furnish
the entire brigade this great desideratum.
found in my tent to-day, a sermon by the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, entitled,
“War and Emancipation,” from which I infer that the Rev. Henry imagines that we
are making targets of our bodies in order to liberate the nigger. I am under many obligations to the kind
missionary who left it, for he certainly jeopardized his neck in so doing. If the nigger is freed in this war, it
will be to wipe him out, and that by his rebellious master – not by Union
had a glorious sunset last night.
Clouds, in all fantastic shapes and of many gaudy colors, filled the
western sky from horizon to zenith, and shut up the gateway of the sun. It resembled much one of Mr. Pike’s
grand scenic spectacles at the Opera House, where much blue and red fire is
writing the above, I have been informed that much of the effect of this truly
gorgeous scene, was produced by Gen. Nelson, who had ordered the burning of
several barrels of “blue ruin,”
taken from a neighboring sutler.
it is my intention to furnish you all the startling and reliable information
from this Division, bran [sic.] new.
I shall insist that you put my letters in the first column of the second
page, where the leader generally appears, and that you publish no letters not
(FOURTH DIVISION OF THE
Published February 11,
Camp Wickliffe, KY., Feb.
The agony is over at last. We have marching orders for Green river
or beyond. The further beyond, the
better we will be pleased.
10th, Col. Ammon, strikes tents on the 7th, the 19th, Col. Hazen, on the 8th,
and the 15th, Col. Waggoner, on the 9th.
Had this move been made one month ago, we would have been as well
prepared to meet the enemy as now, and could have taken several hundred more
good fellows with us who are now sleeping in the graveyard on the hill, or
languishing in the hospital. Our
men are all jubilant at the news, and are anxious once more to hear the
whistling of balls. However,
should we be squatted again, amid the mud and malaria of these hills, outside
the range of the enemy’s guns, their curses will be both loud and deep.
Col. W. K. Bosley has resigned, and the event
is deeply regretted. He has ample
reason for the act, and no soldier who has served under him during the last
nine months will question his courage.
Upon our arrival in Virginia, while anxious to meet the enemy, he was
detailed to take command of the post of Beverly – a situation of honor, but one
illy suiting his patriotic and daring disposition. He was only relieved when we were ordered from the State,
and now, when we are again to face the foe, he is ordered to the charge of the
camp for invalids at New Haven.
His resignation is immediate and unconditional. Can we have in his place a man who is
in every way qualified to represent so fine a regiment – one competent to lead
us into action? Will our General
see to it?
court of investigation which has for some time been in session here for the
purpose of testing the capability of volunteer officers, will in consequence be
adjourned. Before it is again
reorganized I trust that schools of instruction will be instituted for the
benefit of commissioned and non-commissioned officers in all regiments. This has been shamefully neglected in
many instances. Men who a few
months ago, at a moment’s warning, deserted the plough, the counting room or
the work shop, should not be expected to possess the military ability of West
Point graduates, and if they fail now to stand the test of examination before a board, their superior officers are responsible for it. The few hours that are nightly spent in
the intellectual game of “draw,” just to kill time, would be ample time to
quality them for the field, if the instructor could be found.
many surmises are hazarded as to the probability of a fight at Bowling Green,
and the majority are sanguine of its coming off soon, I have no hope that they
will make a stand at that point.
Their object is evidently to hold us in check as long as possible, and
they will retreat the moment they are menaced by any considerable force.
next will be from some point remote from this a still further into Dixie.
GENERAL NELSON’S DIVISION.
(CORRESPONDENCE CINCINNATI COMMERCIAL.)
Published February 21, 1862
WEST POINT, Ky., Feb. 17, 1862
division left Camp Wickliffe on the 14th, A. M., and arrived here at 9 A. M.
to-day. The march was a forced
one, and has been severe upon all.
The first day out, we came seventeen miles over the worst road I ever
saw, and encamped in the vicinity of Elizabethtown. Here we were compelled to wait for our baggage, which had
stuck in the mud two miles from Camp Wickliffe; - this was attributable to the
oft repeated blunder, “inadequate transportation.”
The day had been an unusually cold one for this
climate, and when night came, the exhausted men threw themselves upon the
ground – covered to the depth of three inches with snow – and slept soundly
till morning. We had encamped on
the farm of a noted secessionist, and or men supplied themselves with straw
from his barn, and the fences were demolished to furnish firewood.
On the following morning we arose stiff and sore, and prepared for
the march, but word came that Gen. Mitchel was hard-pressed in the vicinity of
Bowling Green, and we were told to hold ourselves in readiness to march in that
direction at a moment’s notice. A
train of artillery which came up in the morning from Green river was suddenly
ordered back, and this strengthened the impression that our destination would
ultimately be Bowling Green.
However, at 4 P. M., we took up our line of march, and came on four
miles further, again encamping.
Another bitter cold night.
During the day, water had frozen in the canteens, and we were only kept
from dying by building large fires.
Here an order came up from Gen. Buell for the
6th Ohio to retrace its steps to Munfordville, and their rejoin its brigade
(the 21st, Col. Sanders Bruce, commanding). Our men of the 6th were sadly disappointed at the prospect
of being compelled to quit the expedition, but Gen. Nelson, with whom we have
become quite popular, interceded with Gen. Buell and the order was
countermanded. A tacit
understanding seems to exist between us and the General that we are to act as
his body guard. This is indeed a
triumph, considering that two months ago he pronounced us “a runaway mob.” True soldiers love to be properly
commanded, and our men desire no greater honor than to see service under their
present general. They swear by
him, and he reciprocates by swearing at them, an especial mark of his approval.
On the third day we marched eighteen miles and
again encamped for the night within a mile of West Point. Here, for the first time, our baggage
came up and we slept under cover.
Notwithstanding all the hardships our men have endured
– cold, hunger, and sickness – I have not heard one person complain. On the contrary they are in the best of
spirits and anxious to be led on.
This morning they marched into town bearing their heavy knapsacks with
step as elastic as though upon a dress parade.
Our baggage is at this time being put upon the
fleet of boats with all possible expedition; and we will probably leave this
afternoon. The 6th of Ohio will
occupy the steamer Diana in conjunction with Gen. Nelson. Our future destination is probably
unknown even to the General who commands our division; and in fact we are
allowed to participate in the victories which are now shedding such glory upon
Let our friends at home bear hopeful hearts; we
are fighting the good fight, and God will be with us in the hour of danger. The fabric of Secession has begun to
topple, and in the future its phantom armies will crumble before our advancing
legions like frost in the sunshine.
Destiny is hurrying them on.
I wonder if the Hon. Mr. Gurley has not by this time been enabled to grasp
some of the threads of McClellan’s comprehensive policy. If not, he can at least practice some
of the lessons of his early training – Christian patience and forbearance.
Adieu, in haste,