Decatur (Indiana) Eagle

Published February 13, 1862



Editor Kagle: - After an almost uninterrupted rain of nearly three weeks duration, we are once more blessed with fair weather.  “Old Kentucky” goes it whole hog or none in the west weather line.  I don’t believe there was an intermission of two hours during the whole time that it did not rain, or at least sprinkle, very frequently pouring down as though that was its last chance and wished to make the most of it.  We were not in a very enviable condition, as the rain continually dashed through our tents rendering us cold and dreary, wet comfortless, gloomy – please imagine the rest to save me a hard task.

One naturally would come to the conclusion that a great deal of sickness even death must have been present in our ranks, but our boys stood it like heroes.  Though there were a few cases of illness, as a matter of course, yet the last few days have wrought wonders; the warm, dry weather has been a better remedy for the unwell than even Aesenlapius himself could have prescribed.  Our company is all right, enjoying good health, with the acception of Lieut. Weimer, who continues to be an inmate of the hospital at Bardstown.  He will probably resign, an event which if it should take place would be deplored by the whole company, as he has endeared himself to all by his kindness, integrity and affectionate disposition.  As a general thing, take everything into consideration, the health of the regiment, as well as our own company has been most excellent, only three have died since its first organization, not one of which was from Adams county.

We are constantly in receipt of letter[s] directed to Co. B.  This is a mistake which probably originated in my letter from Camp Slack, where such a direction is given.  The letter of our company is “C.”  We are the color co., occupying the most enviable, the most honorable, but also the most dangerous position in the whole battalion, as it is directly in the center.  Our friends at home will hereafter please direct accordingly.

How soon, for what point, or whether we leave here at all is more than I am able to say, but am sure of one thing, the boys are all anxious to depart for a place affording some chance of coming in contact with the rebels.  All are tired of inactivity and the monotony of idle camp life, and are as eager for an exchange of shots with the enemy, as they would be brave and true should the much prayed for opportunity offer.  Some think the dance at Bowling Green will soon begin and we will be called upon to make some use of the music in our cartridge boxes on that occasion.  Others think we will lay here until discharged, and go home without smelling power – This would be worse than _____.  As glad and delighted as we would be to see peace and prosperity once more reign supremely and speedily in the whole Union yet do we not wish to return to Adams county without having a little brush with the chivalry.

One more thing, which I have nearly forgotten.  The idea seems to be prevalent with some of our friends at home that they cannot write to us unless we are permanently stationed somewhere, that their letters will be lost, unless they reach us before we move further.  No such thing.  All letters and papers will be sent after us, no matter where we are.  Please take notice.

Au revoir,


Slack’s Regt.

Louisville Journal

Published January 31, 1862



JANUARY 29, 1862

 Here we are snugly settled among the war-like brigades of the Fourth Grand Division of the Army of Kentucky.  We say snugly, and we mean just what we say.  We are here and ready for any emergency that may call me further “on to Richmond,” or to Bowling Green or Nashville, as the case may be.  We are not aware of or responsible for the wants or necessities of the other regiments composing the Division, but we presume they have passed under the rapid eye of General Nelson often enough to the ready for an encounter with any body of men, no matter how large, who dare be enemies of their country, but perhaps we may venture to say that, in some respects our regiment is more fortunate than most of the other regiments.  In the first place, from what we have learned, there is less sickness in the Sixth Kentucky by far then in any other regiment in the Division.  We are not responsible for the truth of this statement, but venture to give it as we have heard it.  If true – and we do not hesitate to believe it – there can be no doubt that it is mainly due to the prompt suppression of anything like epidemic disease within the camp, by the timely analysis of causes and ready application of preventives by the more than efficient surgeons of the Sixth Kentucky, Drs. Drane and Coon.  The sanitary condition of the camp is also, no doubt, benefited much by the close scrutiny of the hygienic and philosopher Maj. Hailman, well known in your city as a man of science.  Secondly, our gallant Colonel Whitaker – God defend him – is as ready to minister to the wants and appetites of his soldiers as they will ever be to aid him in administering justice to traitors.  In proof of this, he has, by the aid of J. M. Billings, in the shortest time, made arrangements and put in successful operation a bakery, by which the whole regiment is supplied with bread, away out in this “wooden country,” equal to the best in your city.  This, all of a sudden, so transformed the culinary affairs of the regiment that for the moment we scarcely knew ourselves.  Why, sires, our teeth, whetted up for the purpose of masticating.  “Uncle Sam’s shingles,” vulgarly called sea-biscuit, slipped so quickly through the soft slices of St. Billings’ bread that one would have thought a thousand dentists had been at work on them with hand-saw files.  This gives an ample opportunity to eat our meals, stopping occasionally to bless the smiling face of the quartermaster without loss of time.  We learn also, that the bakery is supplying two other regiments with bread.  If it renders as much satisfaction to them as it does to us, we shall expect to hear, much less clattering of teeth from our neighbors of the Forty-seventh Indiana and Forty-first Ohio.

But “all’s well that ends well;” and if I close this letter now, I am hopeful that the end will be found so close to the beginning that harm cannot possibly intervene.



February 8, 1862 




January 30th, 1862

MY FRIEND  - I have not written to you for a month, at least, not for this month, yet it has not been for a good will to give you any news which would be interesting, or a wish to keep the whereabouts of the 15th and its doings from you but we have had nothing to give of our works satisfactory to the friends, or us, who are interested in all her interests and in her welfare.  But this afternoon I take the pen to pass away the lonely hours, and may perchance, give something worthy or your time of perusal, yet as to any movements, any life, any of the healthful tramps and romps like those of West Virginia.  I can give you none; we’ve had none, and for the want of these thrilling, life giving and exhilarating scenes, we are sinking getting lean and weak; sickness and discontent are making and confusion in our ranks.  Our severe drilling, beginning with our encamping here, has also had anything but a good result.  From some reason, supposed to be the bad water, and long rains, in our present place, fevers and other diseases spread amongst us.  The drill duty was, and is, (when we can for the mud), of six hours length, three in the forenoon and three in the afternoon; the later with knapsacks on.  It soon became a drudge and none mistook of its benefits freely; the season does not seem to be the best for instruction.  We are conceited enough to feel able of active field duty, at least to give all their wish, it would be move to the front rather than see death stalking among us.  Hardly a day passes but we hear the mournful notes of the dead march and a slow moving company following a comrade to his long home.  We growl and grumble here, as well as those at home of the slow works of our forces in Kentucky, but every paper seems to bear the evidence that all these murmuring ones will be soon satisfied.  While you are enjoying the [?] and cold, we have the rains, mud and once in a week or two a nice sunshiny day, warm and balmy as Spring, when one of lively nerves feels like having a good “juber.”  As slavery is well represented in this section, the negroes are numerous and with the “other” citizens bring in vegetables, peach, squash, pumpkin, potato, chicken and apple pies, along with all kinds of bottles with “giblet” pies and waffles, corn bread and other luxuries, but I must say they are all miserable cooks, can’t make good light bread to save them.  Won’t do for Ind. boys or New York yankees, yet they have some privileges of education, better than Virginia.

Yours as ever,



 February 6, 1862 




January 10, 1862.

WM. GROSE, Col. Commanding 36th Regiment Indiana Volunteers:

Sir -  As Chaplain, I herewith present you my First Quarterly Report of “the moral and religious condition” of your Regiment.

If my interpretation of the law be correct, my report should have reference more particularly to the moral and religious privileges and facilities possessed by the regiment, than to the personal morals of the men, or their moral character, as my report is to be, “of the moral condition,” and not upon the morals or the moral character of the “regiment.”  Yet, lest in this respect I should misinterpret the meaning of the law, I will remark that, as a regiment of soldiers, the Thirty-sixth will, in my judgment, compare favorably in morals and religion, with any enlisted in the service, with which I am acquainted – and yet, if “weighed in the balances” of a strictly moral and religious code, I fear that many of us would be found “wanting,” in at least some of the principles, experiences and practices that help to constitute a strictly moral and religious character, and yet several of the moral virtues seen to be possessed, such as truth, general veracity, honesty, integrity, and a disposition to be obedient to lawful authority.  The widest and most general departure from the laws of Christian morality that has come under my observation amongst too many of both officers and men, and that which in my judgment calls loudest for a corrective, is the practice of profane swearing, and that of low, vulgar, and obscene talking.  The first is prohibited both by the articles of war and the “highest law” of God, and the last by that law and the rules of all decent and highly civilized communities.  If “intelligence and virtue” amongst our people “are the main pillars” and real cement of our institutions as a nation, our victories and triumphs on the field of battle, in crushing out rebellion, will avail but for a short time, if, as such, we become demoralized.

Why should a man, a citizen, because for the time being he is a soldier, away from home and kindred, and the restraints of the civilized and Christian society he has left behind him! – why should such a man brutalize himself by uttering in words those low, vulgar and obscene thoughts which if printed and published would subject both the author and publisher to the just execration of civilized communities?  And what advantage is profanity to any man?  What remuneration does, or can, he receive for this profanity?  Like the foolish fish that bites the naked hook, he gets no “bait.”  He only get caught upon a hook, from which, through the corruption of his own nature, strengthened by contracted habit, he will find it difficult to escape.  “Oh! that men were wise, that they might understand this.”

As to the moral and religious facilities possessed by the regiment during the past quarter.  I will name –

1.              The regiment has had religious services as regularly on the Sabbaths as circumstances would allow.  The season of the year and the want of a house or tent of sufficient size, together with removals of the regiment from camp to camp, has prevented the holding of such public service on several Sabbaths.  But in this connection I will most willingly testify to the fact that the regimental or field officers have given all the facilities in their power, I believe, to the holding of religious services in the regiment, and by their presence at most of the services have added the weight of their example to other facilities.  May it ever be so.

2.              Forty-five Bibles and about nine hundred New Testaments have been donated to the regiment, and distributed amongst the men.  These donations were made by the Society of Friends at Richmond, Ind., and also by the Female Bible Society of Indianapolis, Ind.

3.              Two thousand pages of religious tracts, donated by a Miss Wilson, near New Heaven, and about three thousand pages donated by members of Pearl Street M. E. Church of Richmond, Ind., and about fifteen thousand pages of tracts of like character donated by the Friends’ Tract Society of Richmond, Ind., obtained by me during my late visit home, have been distributed amongst the men.

4.              One hundred Union Songsters (a small volume of religious songs,) donated by the Methodist Book Concern at Cincinnati, have during the quarter been distributed in camp.

5.              Between two and three hundred of the members of the regiment, including some, both of the officers as well as the privates, have reported themselves to me as having been members of Church, up to and at the time of their enlistment, and so far as I have the means of knowing, these, with perhaps a few exceptions, have not compromised their Christian profession; but for the want of a suitable place for social meetings of a religious character, for the special benefit of such, much of the information necessary to enable me to speak definitely on this point could not be obtained.

Finally, while it is doubtless true that military and camp life is not favorable to the development of either the moral or the religious capacity of man, but rather a severe test of the genuineness of our professions, both as to morality and religion, it is, I believe, also true that if those principles and professions stand the test, the trial to which they are subjected will only make them stronger.  As to “such suggestions as may conduce to the social happiness and moral improvement of the troops,” situated, as we are, in the field, and not in permanent “quarters” for the winter, I deem it unnecessary to make any.  If we were in permanent winter quarters, several suggestions might be made, but as it is, with the evident disposition manifested on the part of the officers to afford all the facilities in their power to promote these, I think it superfluous on my part to add anything in this report.

Most respectfully submitted,

O. V. Lemon,

Chaplain 36th Reg’t Ind. Vol.


March 1, 1862




Editors Palladium: - We left “Camp Wickliffe” some three weeks ago, and started on towards Green River, where we have been in camp up to last Friday, when orders came for us to strike tents and prepare for a good long march, so we went to work and cooked three days rations; and on Friday morning by four o’clock, we were on our march for the Ohio river, a distance of 50 miles.  All went very fine until we had to leave the pike and take the mud road, then came fun, the mud was only about boot top deep, and in some places I guess the bottom could not be found at all.  Our train of wagons did not reach us until the next morning.  I cannot describe half that was told me by some of our teamsters, one told me that in a distance of two miles, he got his wagon fast some half a dozen times, and the rear guards said they had to take the mules from the wagons and pull them out by hand.

Well, I will leave the train of teams and give you a short sketch of the regiment. – We marched on till evening when we halted for the night, and then came the trial of fixing places to sleep; but I tell you that the prospect looked quite gloomy, as we had no tents with us, and snow on the ground four or five inches deep; but we started up a fire and made some coffee and with hard crackers and bacon, we eat what we thought a most excellent meal; we then started out in search of some straw or something besides the wet ground to sleep on, and as luck would have it we found a huge straw pile.  I thought the best thing I could do would be to pull out straw and then get in and stay that night.  So to work I went and prepared my bed and laid myself down, tired and sleepy; but I soon found out that if I stayed there until morning I would freeze or else be eaten up by the cattle, so I started for camp and sat by the fire until morning.

I do not think it is necessary to describe the other two days that it took us to get to the Ohio river.  I will just say that they were passed the same as the first, with but few exceptions; but finally on Monday morning, we got on board the boat Woodruff, and after getting all fixed and the boat loaded, so that we had scarcely room enough to turn around, we started for the mouth of the Cumberland river, a distance of three hundred miles, after steaming from Monday evening until Wednesday noon we reached our place of destination, but as soon as we were there we received orders to go back to where we started from; so around we turned and steamed back, and after passing a most tiresome day and sleepless night, we reached Cannelton, Ind., which is halfway and where our boat is lying while I am writing; but we now have orders to go down the river again to Paducah, which is fifteen or twenty miles further than we have been yet.  We passed Owensboro, and I am highly pleased with the place.

Friday morning, and still on board the boat going down the Ohio.  I have seen nothing that is very interesting since writing the above, so I guess I will bring my letter to a close.  I expect when you see this writing you will say that, it is miserable; but I have no place to write, and the boat is shaking so that it is a tough match to write at all.  As soon as we get to where we halt, I will write again.

G. W. R.


January 16, 1862 




Editor Mercury: - Before leaving home I made many pledges in connection with letter-writing, which are as yet unredeemed; among others, an occasional communication for the Mercury.  I had little idea of the pressing responsibilities which would rest upon me, when fairly in the service.  To organize a volunteer corps, fresh from the easy, careless ranks of civil life – discipline them – make soldiers of them – when one is fresh from the civil ranks himself, and has everything to learn, is no easy task If any one to whom the rule applies doubts me, let him try; and if he does his work well, he has work to do.  Men recruited from the rural districts, as a rule, submit to the discipline of the army more slowly than any other class, but make the soldiers when well drilled and disciplined.  There is a reason for this; in the country, there are no forms of society; no conventionality.  Every man has a way of his own, or no way, just as he may choose; if he feels so disposed, he labors; if indisposed, he idles, and no one has a right to say nay.  If it is his “style,” he may salute his neighbor with his list in his hand; if not, he may salute him with his hat on his head, and his hands in his pockets.  The country knows no conventionalism; hence the slowness with which men from the country come into the traces of army discipline.  But there are other and counterbalancing considerations.  Men from the woods and fields go into the army with vigor and muscle.  Fatigue is essential to their quiet slumber; active life, their delight.  They are familiar with the use of fire-arms; know without being told, which end of a cartridge to tear, and which end goes uppermost; can load and fire with precision, although the loading may not be “in nine times,” according to Hardee.- They are the ground work of the best of soldiers, only lacking the “fine finish” or discipline.  Of such material is the FORTY SIXTH composed; and for the short time spent in drilling, it has made progress quite flattering to the commanding officers.  Give us time, yet a little longer, and if we are fortunate enough to meet the enemy.  I have no fear but that a good report will go home from us.  Somebody will get “cut up;” not the FORTY SIXTH, as you have erroneously heard.  The boys are getting letters from home every mail, full of solicitude, report having “cut us all to pieces.”  All the cutting up, as yet, has been performed on the beeves, hogs, and sheep.

Our ranks have been thinned by the measles; no lives lost, and no more deadly enemy has approached us.  The health of the Regiment has been unusually good, considering circumstances, but one death having occurred in it since its organization.  In my company, quite a large number of cases of measles have occurred; all have done well.  We made one bad encampment, where many suffered from colds, but were removed to more comfortable ground, as soon as possible.

We are now encamped within four miles of Bardstown, in an open field.  On our right is the Forty Seventh, Col. Slack; on our left, the fifty eighth, Col. Carr. – Three miles above us, Col. Walker’s Irish regiment is encamped, while within that distance are seven other regiments. Since we came into the State, we have passed a large number of Regiments; have been passed by but one; that, a Regiment of Cavalry making a forced march toward Bowling Green.  To-morrow morning, we move on again, putting us still in the advance.  Col. Fitch does not intend being left in the rear, and not a man of the Regiment but partakes of the same spirit.  We left our homes to fight, and we will do it if opportunity offers.

Of  the country through which we have passed since we left the familiar soil of Indiana, I can say but little, save that much of it was fine.  I never made so little observation in traveling.  On the march there are other things than the surrounding country claiming my attention.  Unused to carrying “knapsack, box and gun,” some of the boys tried, somewhat, and to be relieved for a short time, rested and cheered.  At one time, when I was carrying two muskets for a couple of the boys, who were not quite well, I saw the Lieutenants loaded – one, with a gun and knapsack – the other, with two knapsacks.  That night we encamped in the woods near the road, and the baggage train not overtaking us, we were without tents.  The boys built large fires, lay down, and slept soundly.  My own blanket and bedding being on our baggage wagon, I made myself useful during the night, by keeping up the fires.

We meet some rare specimens of humanity here – few intelligent men.  Beyond Bardstown, many earnest Union men came out to greet us, waving the flag of our country – by chattel proxy – which proxies were universally jubilant at our approach, hallooing for “de Union.”  A strange, said picture!  A bondman waving the “flag of the free,” with wild delight, bearing aloft that emblem of freedom – THE AMERICAN FLAG!  What a commentary on the “stars and stripes!”  The poor slave, when his hand touched the standard of that flag, felt an inspiration of freedom, and vainly imagined the Northern army the instrument of his redemption.  Let the vision pass!

Here in the army, we are sadly behind the times.  We see but few papers, and none of recent date, even though we are only fifty miles from Louisville.  In this direction intelligence makes but slow progress.  Should we continue long in such condition, going back into the world again would be like Rip Van Winkle’s waking, after forty years of slumber.  England might acknowledge the Cotton Confederacy and send “aid and comfort” to it rebellious inhabitants, and or first intimation of the fact, he files of red-coats.  We hear bad rumors, and are anxious to know what these things mean.  If England moves against us, get ready, one and all; there will be work to do.

Around our camp-fires we often sit and talk over home matters – talk of our last visit to Rochester, when the hearts and homes of the people were opened to receive us.  We shall never forget that visit home.  If to any of us it should be the last, the last recollection of home will be pleasant.  For the many kindnesses shown us there, we are truly grateful.

To all who have sons, brothers, or husbands in the Regiment, it will be a great satisfaction, to know that a great moral reformation is going on.  The moral standard is rising higher every day, and it gives me great pleasure to state that our own company is not behind in the good work.  Men who, on coming into the company had little regard for moral things, are, one by one, leaving off bad habits, and fast becoming worthy, virtuous men.  Our Chaplain has much to do with this.  A good man and an earnest laborer, he is doing great good. – General Wood said of us, the other day, that for moral worth, good demeanor, and military excellence, we excelled any Regiment of his command.

Fathers, mothers, wives, sisters, you may all aid in bringing us to a higher standard of excellence, by thoughtful words.  You cannot tell what value the soldier places upon words of admonition that are penned by loving hands.  Send papers and pamphlets; write letters to the soldiers.  Could you see the disappointment depicted upon some countenances, when the mail brings them no return from letters sent homeward, you would write often – very often.  We write many letters and go but few.  To-day, our company have written seventy-five – more; than we have received since we have been in the State.  For myself, I have received not one.  Who will write me the first one?

The entire company desire to be remembered to every body.  We are making preparations for an early start southward, and the boys are claiming my attention.

Yours truly,


[46th Indiana]


February 13, 1862


We have received the following letter from a member of the company which first left this county, dated


 Editor Democrat

 I understand from good authority, that all sorts of false reports are in circulation in Sullivan county in reference to this company.  And my object in writing this letter for your columns is to let the parents and friends of those in the company know the true state of affairs at present, and that one-half of us are not in the Guard House, as reported by some unscrupulous liar.  Some of our company are sick at Louisville in comfortable hospitals, and others that are unfit for duty will be sent to-morrow to the barracks near New Haven until their health is recruited.  The rest of the boys are all right, and should the Paymaster, as is reported, make his appearance in camp this week, they will be as happy a set of men as can anywhere be found. – After Capt. Martin resigned Lieut. Geo. Cubberly, the ranking Lieutenant of the regiment was promoted as Captain of our company.  It is true that this created dissatisfaction, for the reason that the company preferred to elect their Captain, but as this could not be, or was not granted, all quietly submitted to the decisions of superior officers, and the company is now well satisfied, and in a better condition, and under better discipline than it has ever been heretofore.  The Captain is a strict military man, but treats us with all kindness, and looks to the wants of his men, as far as is within his power.  He is as well informed officer as there is in the brigade, and is the instructor at the daily officer drill.  Our 1st Lieutenant S. Barnes (formerly Orderly Sergeant) is all right and not in jail for desertion, as some thing reported in Sullivan.  He is well liked by the company, and I think will made a good Lieutenant.

Lieutenant Coulson and Silvers left us, and as you are aware, have returned home.  As promotions were made, and they considering themselves unjustly treated by superior officers, resigned.  This is the way we understand the matter.  They were well liked by the members of our company, and as they started out with us, it was, with regret that we parted with them.

I desire you to insert this communication in your paper that all may know that this company is in good condition, and should an opportunity present itself, will give a good account of themselves in the hour of battle.




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