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Title: Ninth Cavalry: One Hundred and Twenty-first Regiment Indiana Volunteers

Author: Daniel Webster Comstock

Release date: September 26, 2019 [eBook #60363]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by David King and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This file was
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Ninth Cavalry

One Hundred and Twenty-first Regiment
Indiana Volunteers.
Daniel Webster Comstock


The papers here collected were read by the Regimental Historian, from time to time, at Annual Re-unions of the 9th Indiana Cavalry. They are printed at the request of the boys of the regiment, and are for their benefit.

Combined, they give, as seen from the standpoint of the individual who narrates, the principal events in which the regiment took part, but do not even refer to many skirmishes in which it participated with the forces of Wheeler, Forrest, Rhoddy, and other Confederate Cavalry leaders, in the Department of the Cumberland, and "brushes" with guerrillas in the Military Division of the Mississippi,—"affairs" unimportant from the insignificance of the numbers engaged, but in which the most soldierly qualities were often displayed.

The papers were not all prepared by the Historian: with those he did not write he has, with the full consent of the respective authors, made such changes as he thought proper.

The paper by J. A. Brown, corporal Co. L, on "Sulphur Branch Trestle," appears as written by him, without a verbal change.

The other paper upon the same subject is made up of accounts furnished by Col. Lilly and Capt. J. B. Harrod, Co. B.

While the writer assisted in making up the detail sent upon that unfortunate expedition, it was not his fortune to go with it.

The very able and graphic chapter upon the Hood Campaign is from the pen of Capt. O. B. Hayden, Co. D.

The account of the Lynnville fight appears substantially as given by Capt. Harrod.

If in these sketches it appears that too much stress is put on minor matters, and things of importance but lightly stated, it should be remembered that the statements are made from individual observations, and the shading must be looked at from the observer's angle of observation.

Hereafter, if the boys desire, the story of the regiment may be further told.

It will be noticed that but brief mention is made of the officers, especially in the chapter upon the Hood Campaign. There is no intentional slight in this—a fair share of the officers were on hand and did their duty, as is attested by the fact that four of them were killed in action and others wounded during that campaign—but the fact is that the privates fought the war and the officers got the pay and the glory. It was a peculiarity found in the volunteer service—found in the army of no other Nation—that however brave and capable the officers of the line, a dozen privates in each company were found equally brave and capable. The accident of rank should not affect the distribution of credit. It is enough to participate in the glory of the boys—too much to claim the lion's share.



On the afternoon of the 22d of September, 1864, the 9th was ordered to furnish a force of mounted men to march to Elk River Bridge, on the Nashville & Decatur Railroad.

The detail was promptly made from the mounted men of each company, and, under command of Major Lilly, senior major of the regiment, started the same night. The force leaving Pulaski, consisting of portions of the 9th and 10th Indiana Cavalry, being under the command of Colonel Pace, of the latter regiment. The command arrived at Elk River Bridge about noon of the next day. Intelligence having been received that a rebel force was threatening Sulphur Branch Trestle, some miles further south on the same railroad, Major Lilly was ordered to report with his command to the commander of that post.

Late that afternoon he arrived there and reported to Col. Lathrop, commanding the garrison occupying the earth-work constructed with a view of protecting the trestle at that point. The garrison consisted of two companies of colored troops. After a brief consultation between the officers a reconnaissance was determined upon and moved out on the Athens road about sunset. About two miles from Sulphur Branch the advance guard was fired upon by the pickets of the enemy. Light skirmishing ensued, and, night coming on, by the light of the enemy's campfires, their camp was reconnoitered, and they were discovered to be in heavy force. The enemy thus discovered proved to be the command of Gen. N. B. Forrest, estimated at twelve thousand men, with three batteries of artillery. On coming from Pulaski a courier line had been established, thus keeping open communication between Major Lilly's command and headquarters at the latter place. The courier line was under the command of Sergeant Anderson, of Company "B." By means of this line the situation was reported to Rousseau at Pulaski, and, in response thereto, came the order to "hold the fort at all hazards and to the last extremity." Major Lilly withdrew his command to the fort and established his picket lines. It was then 9 o'clock P. M. This fort was a small, four-bastioned earth-work, mounting two twelve-pounder Napoleon guns. It was located upon a knoll by the railway trestle, and was commanded by higher points within 500 to 800 yards, while on the east side within a few hundred feet, rose a higher hill covered with timber. The remainder of the night was spent by the men in throwing up traverses and otherwise strengthening the fort. Firing commenced on the picket line at midnight. It increased as the night advanced until daylight, when it was evident the fort was being surrounded, and before sunrise the battle was on. The parapets were manned so far as they could be with so small a force. The members of the 9th were in position on the south and east parapets, and on the southeastern bastion, on their left along the east parapet, were about sixty men of the 3d Tennessee Cavalry, under command of Col. Minnis, who had been driven into the fort the evening before; the remainder of the work was covered by the two companies of Col. Lathrop, who also manned the two guns, situated on the northeast and northwest bastions. The entire strength of the force called upon to defend the fort may thus be fairly estimated at 450 men. The 9th was armed with Gallagher carbines, a very ineffective weapon, and on leaving Pulaski had but forty rounds of ammunition, and probably not more than thirty when the real fighting began.

The attack upon the fort began before sunrise, and at the first onset of the enemy, Col. Lathrop was killed. During the brief period in which they knew him, Col. Lathrop impressed himself upon the officers and men of the 9th as an intelligent and gallant officer; the manner of his death was worthy of a soldier.

About 9 o'clock Col. Minnis, who succeeded Col. Lathrop in command, was wounded by a piece of shell and carried unconscious into the magazine. The command then devolved upon Major Lilly. He was with his men near the southeast bastion; they were meeting each successive charge of the enemy with well-delivered volleys, waiting for the command to fire; husbanding their failing ammunition, the enemy were permitted to come within close range, showing a good front, before the order to fire was given. Meanwhile the enemy had gained possession of the wooded hill to the east of the fort, and their sharp-shooters from the tree-tops had the range of every part of the fort, except immediately under the east parapet. The artillerymen suffered severely and the brave men of the 9th were falling along the lines. The enemy's artillery raked the works from every direction with great destruction. From every point except the north, where the ground rose gently across the creek into an open plain, the rebels were in heavy force and poured into and against the fort an incessant fire. Eleven o'clock came, and then, in the lulls of the artillery, the gallant defenders of the old flag were gladdened by the sounds that told them that reinforcements were engaging the enemy to the north toward Elk River bridge, but the sounds grew fainter and died in the distance and they knew that from that quarter no help would come. Still they hoped for relief and still held the fort. Suddenly across the open ground to the north appeared a heavy line of the enemy. Major Lilly sent two messengers, one after another, across the fort to warn the officer in command of the colored troops and to inspire his men with coolness and firmness to meet the impending assault. Both messengers, in making the perilous journey, were killed. Lieut. Jones, of Company M, then volunteered to go, and in making the attempt was wounded. Placing Captain Nation, of Company G, in command of the battalion, Major Lilly went himself across the bloody space in safety.

The rebel line halted out of range; within the fort the ground was strewn with the dead and wounded. The men of the 9th Cavalry were out of ammunition; for two hours they had been whitling Springfield musket balls to fit their carbines. The Tennesseeans were out of ammunition; thus two-thirds of the line was left without defense. Twelve o'clock came, and along the rebel line the bugle sounded "cease firing," and from the north across the open plain was borne a flag of truce. It is likely that not a member of the 9th had ever seen one before; it is more than probable that it was now looked upon with satisfaction. Every man had done his whole duty; they had fought like heroes; they had held a brave army under a skillful and fighting general in check for a day, thus giving Gen. Rosseau time to concentrate at Pulaski, and had literally at a great cost, "held the fort at all hazards, and to the last extremity."

Major Lilly answered the flag of truce, taking with him the Adjutant of the 3d Tennessee, and, meeting Major Strange, Adjutant General of Forrest's staff, after the formal salutations, Major Strange handed Major Lilly a paper, which read:

"General Forrest demands the immediate and unconditional surrender of the United States forces, with all materials and munitions of war, at Sulphur Branch Trestle. In case this demand is not instantly complied with, General Forrest can not be held responsible for the conduct of his men."

After reading this paper Major Lilly said to Major Strange, that Sulphur Branch Trestle would never surrender under a threat; that it was a humiliation his command would not bear and one that should never be asked by a soldier; that it was true his forces had suffered heavily, but they had undoubtedly inflicted greater damage upon the enemy; that they were still capable of inflicting greater damage; that notwithstanding this he felt that they had done their whole duty, and on honorable terms he would counsel a surrender. Major Lilly then rode back toward the fort, but had not reached it when he was halted by Major Strange, who galloped after him, saying that General Forrest wanted an interview. He returned and met Generals Forrest and Buford. He then repeated to General Forrest what he had said to Major Strange, and added, that he did not believe that General Forrest could not control his men, and if he did not he would be held responsible. In reply to this General Forrest handed him a paper, which read in substance:

"General Forrest demands the immediate surrender of the United States forces and materials of war at Sulphur Branch Trestle. All United States officers and soldiers will be treated as prisoners of war.

"All officers and soldiers shall retain and be protected in the possession of personal property.

"Officers to retain their horses, if personal property, and also to retain their side-arms.

"All officers and soldiers to be taken to some point in the States of Mississippi or Alabama, and there held for exchange and parole so soon as communication can be had with General Washburne at Memphis."

Major Lilly then demanded one hour before giving an answer, meanwhile the troops on both sides to remain status quo. The hour was given, and he returned to the fort. Colonel Minnis had by this time recovered sufficiently to resume command, and a counsel of war was held. The counsel was a unit, with the exception of Colonel Minnis, in favor of surrender. While the subject was being considered it was reported that the enemy were moving troops, and our white flag was immediately taken down and firing was reopened; there was a slight reply from the enemy, the troops moved back, the bugles on the other side sounded "cease firing," and the truce was resumed. Colonel Minnis, on being fully informed of the condition of things in the fort, and especially of the insufficient supply of ammunition, yielded to the opinion of the majority. Major Lilly then returned to the post of the rebel flag of truce, accepted the terms offered, and the surrender was made complete. The remnants of companies were ordered into line, then stacked arms, and, after preparing for the burial of the dead comrades, and the care of those who were wounded, marched sadly away.

About twenty-four hours after the surrender the captured troops crossed the Tennessee River at Mussel Shoals, some four miles above Florence, Ala. The first rations issued to them were issued on the night of September 27th, and consisted of old corn on the cob. This was burnt or roasted over fire and eaten by those whose appetites were sufficiently keen.

On the 28th of September the C. S. A. issued rations to the prisoners the second time—this was at Okolona, Mississippi, and consisted of a small quantity of flour and an abundance of good water. On the evening of that day Capt. Buchanan, of the 15th Tennessee Cavalry, C. S. A., furnished Lieut. Harrod, of Company B, with stationery and kindly offered to send a letter through the lines for him. Acting upon the generous offer, the Lieutenant wrote to his wife. Written under such circumstances, and while the disaster to our regiment was so fresh, the letter is certain to be interesting to the 9th. It reached its destination after some delay, is still preserved by the wife of the general as a precious memento of the war, and is as follows:

Okolona, Miss., Sept. 28, 1864.

Dear Wife—I address you this note as a prisoner of war. One hundred and eighty-seven men of the 9th Indiana Cavalry and three hundred mostly 3d Tennessee Cavalry, were sent to Sulphur Branch September 24th. Gen. Forrest attacked the place the 25th with about 12,000 men. We were about 500. The engagement lasted about four hours after we were surrounded. Our loss was heavy. I had with me twenty-seven of Company B. I am wounded in right leg. I will get over it in a few weeks. The killed are: Wm. Harvey and Joseph Hutton; mortally wounded: Corporal Kirkhoff; severe: Sergeant M. B. Walker and Private James Hook; slightly: J. J. Winn and G. S. Bailey. Prisoners and well are: Orderly J. V. Hinchman, Sergeant Wm. Foster, Sergeant A. E. Anderson, Corporal Blessinger, Privates C. H. Sears, W. V. Robinson, John Stewart, J. Craining (blacksmith), W. C. Warner, R. Scott, J. Holloway, W. Parman, Joseph Grey, B. F. Waller, G. B. Wilson, W. P. Read, M. Chauncy and J. Mooney Church; and no man of Company B failed to do first-class work. In our capitulation it was agreed that we should all be paroled soon. I have no money with me and have on my old uniform. It is reported in camp to-night that General Forrest has taken Pulaski with 2,000 or 3,000 prisoners. If true, all the 9th has gone up. We have eighteen miles to go yet to the railroad—Cherokee Station. Then it is said we go to Meridian, Miss. You will probably not hear from me again until paroled. It may be some weeks, and it may be months.

I send this by the kindness of Capt. Buchanan, 15th Tennessee Confederate Cavalry.

J. B. Harrod,
Lt. Company B.

Although by the terms of the capitulation, the officers were allowed to retain their horses and side-arms, the real advantage of this arrangement was practically not very great. Every night some horses were missing, and when Cherokee Station (on the railroad) was reached, there were few, if any, officers who knew where their horses were.

The day after leaving Okolona it rained heavily, and the troops encamped for the afternoon and night in the open field. Here was issued a little fresh beef without salt.

The boys, from the three issues—first of corn, then of flour, then of beef,—by this time realized that the commissary of the C. S. A. was not liberally supplied, or that those who controlled it were illiberal in distribution.

They reached Cherokee Station the next day (29th of September), remaining there about thirty hours. At this point all officers and soldiers captured at Sulphur Branch Trestle and at Athens, Alabama, on the day before, were placed on board two trains of box cars, to be taken to Meridian, Lauderdale County, Mississippi. The 9th Indiana and 3d Tennessee were loaded on the last train, which was some hours behind the first. To each train a guard of about 150 men were detailed. When not far from Iuka, the track being wet and the grade heavy, the locomotive not of sufficient power to pull the train up, a stop was made to allow the track to dry. The officers in charge put out guards and had fires made on both sides of the track. The guards were tired and soon became sleepy, and there was but one at each fire. Major Lilly conceived the idea of capturing the guard, taking possession of and running the train to Corinth, and then marching the guards to Memphis under a flag of truce as prisoners.

The officers of the 9th Indiana and 3d Tennessee entered cordially into the plan and were willing to take the boys' places at the guns. The major then going to the officers of the colored troops, awakened up their officers and explained his plan to them. They were afraid to engage in the enterprise, for lack of confidence in their colored troops. Without their co-operation the result seemed too doubtful to justify the attempt, and it was not made.

The next day raw "sow-belly" was issued to the boys on the train. At the stations sometimes small purchases were made of something to eat. Lieut. Harrod remembers buying a piece (3 × 4 inches) of wheat bread of a variety he had not seen before, heavy and solid, for which he paid $5 Confederate money. Arriving at Meridian, they were placed in a small stockade, where they remained for a week, from which place the officers were moved to Enterprise, Clark County, Miss., and the enlisted men and non-commissioned officers to Cahaba, Dallas County, Ala.

The rations at Enterprise consisted of one pint of coarse corn meal to each man daily, without salt, and a small piece of "sow-belly." Each mess of eight was furnished a skillet and lid to bake bread in. As a rule each mess baked twice a day, those of the mess who were well taking their turn for a day as cook. It was a part of the duties of the cook to divide the bread, taking the last piece for himself. The preparation of this bread did not require any special skill nor long experience. The art was soon acquired. It was only necessary to mix the water and corn meal thoroughly and to grease the skillet with small bits of meat, that the bread might be got out without being broken too much.

In October permission was given to buy such eatables as were wanted, but not many of the officers could avail themselves of the liberty for want of money. Salt was bought for $3 a pound; coffee, $24 a pound; molasses, $10 a quart—Confederate money. In the stores, calico sold for $12 and $15 a yard; muslin, $15; good boots, $500 a pair; paper of pins, $6. These goods had been brought into Mobile through the blockade.

During the latter part of their imprisonment, after the guards had been taken off, an invalid Confederate soldier came into the camp with a jug of what he called "pine top whisky," and a tin cup. He offered the whisky at 50 cents a pint. There was only one colonel in the camp. He was an Ohio man. He bought a pint and drank it. He soon passed into an unconscious state, in which he remained for forty hours. The "pine top" could be depended upon. Some of the boys bought a sample pint, but finding it to be so much inferior to the apple jack of Tennessee, promptly discarded it.

The prisoners received some courtesies from Major Ward, Commander of the Post, and his Adjutant. Upon one occasion, in the absence of the Major, his Adjutant felt called upon to show some of the officers of the regiment special attention. He invited them to headquarters, extended to them the freedom of the establishment, which they accepted with such good will that the fun soon become fast and furious. The Adjutant set the pace, after a number of healths had been pledged on the absent Major's whisky, by breaking a camp stool. This example was followed by the invited guests, who joined in demolishing every article of furniture in sight. The Adjutant was not in a condition to escort his guests back to their camp, but they found their way without difficulty and knew the reason for the issuing of an order, which was read to them next morning, to the effect that no prisoner should visit headquarters without permission of the Major in command.

The monotony and weariness of confinement was sometimes relieved by the drollery of those whose love of fun could not easily be suppressed. The prisoners were often indebted for a good laugh to Captain Nation, of Company G, and Lieut. J. M. Jones, of Company M. A small boy rode into the camp the smallest mule our men had ever seen under saddle. Captain N.. who was about six feet tall, expressed a desire to ride the "critter." The boy dismounted, and the captain, letting out the stirrups to their full length, got into the saddle, his feet almost touching the ground. After putting the mule through the various paces he announced his intention of recruiting a "critter gang" for the Confederacy. Those who heard the captain's speech on the occasion will not soon forget its general tenor and the impression it made upon them. The speech was made from the back of the mule to the Union prisoners, Confederate guards and soldiers, citizens and negroes, who were attracted to the place by the captain's voice. It is greatly to be regretted that no phonographer was present to have taken it down literally as it came from the lips of the Hoosier orator, that it might be incorporated in this true history. He called for volunteers to uphold the flag of the Confederacy. He said he was going to raise a "critter gang company." No one would be required to walk and only to ride when it suited him; that the pay would not be any object; that each private would be furnished with a "critter" in size and color like the one he then rode, and should have a nigger to feed and care for him; that this variety was superior to all others and had been bred especially for the Confederate service, easy to mount and not dangerous to fall from; that only a limited number of volunteers would be received, and that now was the time to subscribe. The captain held the undivided attention of his audience, surprising and entertaining them with his wit and humor for a half hour, and dismounted and retired amid great applause.

While at Enterprise our men were almost entirely shut out from the world. The Mobile Register, costing 50 cents a copy, was occasionally to be had, and, unrelished and unsatisfactory as it was, yet was sought and read with great eagerness.

The privates and non-commissioned officers were marched from Meridian, Miss., to Cahaba, Ala. This was a violation of the spirit if not the letter of the terms of the surrender. On the march some ten days were consumed. They were placed in a pen or stockade and were subjected to the usual process of searching, and anything of any value found on their persons appropriated by their captors. They were not the first occupants of the pen. It already contained Union prisoners, literally half-clothed, some having only a shirt, some pantaloons without shirt, and some only a part of pantaloons, and all alive with grey-backs. The rations issued were substantially the same as those issued to the officers, consisting of one pint of corn meal a day and a piece of fresh pork, one inch square every other day, although some times the authorities forgot or failed to issue the rations for a day or two, very much to the disgust of the boys. If the prisoners had been fastidious or over-particular they might have complained of the custom to the prison authorities, which cut up the meats for distribution on the same log on which the dead soldiers were placed before burial. A Dutch skillet was allowed to each mess of ten men, as the only cooking utensil. During the time of their imprisonment the rains were frequent and heavy, and the cooking being done out of doors, our men were obliged often to partially shelter the fire with their bent bodies while cooking, to prevent the fires from being put out. The wood used for fuel was green white pine. The Alabama River overflowed its banks and for two weeks the pen was flooded, the water standing from two to four feet in depth. Cord-wood was floated in, out of which scaffolding was constructed by the prisoners to keep themselves out of the water. During this time the rations were eaten raw. It is needless to say that under such conditions, without shelter, exposed to the rain, but poorly fed, men died every day from exposure and want, and that those who survived were weak as children. Their imprisonment which seemed so long to them, at last was ended. The officers were sent North on parole December 10, 1864, but the enlisted men not until April, 1865, at which date they were started North, and in their enfeebled condition, although buoyed up by the hope of meeting friends and seeing home, it took them five days to march from Jackson to Black River bridge, a distance of forty miles, and when they came into the camp of their old regiment these brave fellows looked so gaunt, famished and woe-begone that they were but counterfeits of their former selves.

The terms of the surrender may be said to have been fairly observed, except that the colored soldiers were sent to Mobile to labor at the salt-works. Their officers shared the fortunes of the officers of the white troops. Most of the prisoners of this expedition took passage soon after their arrival at Vicksburg on the steamer Sultana, an account of the wreck of which is given hereafter.

During their imprisonment, the officers were treated fairly well. They were kept in prison at Meridian, Miss., about a week. The prison was a stockade made of poles with the ends in the ground and a scaffolding around the outside, near the top, on which the vigilant Johnny sentinel paced his beat. There was a dead line within the stockade, to which our boys paid marked respect. There were two log cabins in the centre of the stockade, entirely destitute of furniture, paved with sand and the steady companion of the boys—the gray-back. There were probably more gray-backs than grains of sand. They kept the boys employed when otherwise time would have lagged most slowly. The boys were not without money (I speak of the officers). They had dead loads of Confederate New Issue. They sold their horses for $600 to $1,000 a piece. It was a poor scrub that would not bring $600 in the market of Meridian. Watches brought from $500 to $1,500; knives and cork-screws from $50 to $100, and other articles in proportion. The people had the money and wanted to get rid of it. They were permitted to buy what the town afforded—not furnished in their rations, which were liberal in bacon, corn meal, and salt. After a week at Meridian, they were sent to Enterprise, a village fifteen miles below Meridian. When unguarded, they were put on their parole of honor not to leave the limits of the town. They took possession of a big tobacco warehouse, converting it into a dormitory and headquarters, but took their meals at the houses of the citizens in town, they being glad to take the rations of the boys, with what else they could buy, and a consideration in New Issue, in exchange for table board. Early in December they marched from Enterprise to Memphis. There they were ordered to report at Camp Chase, Columbus, Ohio, where they were exchanged and reported to the regiment at Gravelly Springs, Ala., late in January, 1865.

The following officers of the regiment were in the action of Sulphur Branch Trestle:

Major Eli Lilly.
Captain Nation.
Lieutenant Harrod.
Lieutenant J. W. Watts.
Lieutenant Dunlevy.
Lieutenant Canfield.
Lieutenant Leisure.
Lieutenant Riley.
Lieutenant Jones.
Acting Adjutant Geo. Armstrong.
Assistant Surgeon E. W. Magann.
Lieutenant Leisure, wounded, but not taken prisoner.

Surgeon Magann was left to care for the wounded. They were not made prisoners, the enemy leaving them behind in their march. Lieut. Jones was slightly wounded by concussion of a shell, being insensible for a portion of the battle, but recovered before it ended.

The following is a list of those who were either killed or mortally wounded:

Chauncey Kimball, Co. A.
William Harvey, Co. B.
Joseph Hutton, Co. B.
Charles A. Kirkhoff, Co. B.
Andrew J. McGahey, Co. B.
Charles Beckly, Co. H.
Cassander T. Houston, Co. B.
Stephen A. Woodruff, Co. B.
Henry Dorman, Co. K.
Abram S. Foreman, Co. K.
Curtis W. Hancock, Co. K.
George Myers, Co. K.
Josiah Saucer, Co. K.
William Torney, Co. L.
William S. Peckham, Co. L.
John J. Maple, Co. M.
Levi Maple, Co. M.
George H. McGee, Co. M.
Lewis Pickering, Co. M.
Sergeant Peckham, Co. M, killed.
Henry G. Hiatt, Co. G, killed.

The following are the names of those who were made prisoners and died in rebel prisons:

Henry A. Rariden, Co. A, starvation.
John Robert, Co. A, starvation.
Clay Trahune, Co. A, exposure and starvation.
W. J. Foster, Co. B, exposure and starvation.
George O. Houston, Co. D.
Kelita Mendenhall, Co. E, exposure and starvation.
Lewis Jones, Co. G, exposure and starvation.
George W. Bowers, Co. G, exposure and starvation.
John R. Williams, Co. H, exposure and starvation.
Henry Brown, Co. M, exposure and starvation.
Columbus Jessup, Co. M, exposure and starvation.

The following were made prisoners at Sulphur Branch Trestle and lost by the explosion and burning of the steamer Sultana, on the Mississippi River, a few miles above Memphis, on the morning of April 27th, 1865:

Daniel Curtis, Co. A.
Patrick Day, Co. A.
Frederick Blessinger, Co. B.
Charles E. Church, Co. B.
Ephraim Parman, Co. B.
John Stenarl, Co. B.
John M. Englehart, Co. C.
Warren A. Huckens, Co. C.
Wm. H. H. Wood, Co. D.
John Bonner, Co. F.
Charles W. Clevenger, Co. G.
Jonathan R. Downing, Co. G.
George Downing, Co. G.
William H. Graves, Co. G.
William C. Hooper, Co. G.
Charles W. M. King, Co. G.
John M. Maynard, Co. G.
Enoch T. Nation, Co. G.
James C. Olon, Co. G.
Martin V. Rodeporch, Co. G.
John R. Reasoner, Co. G.
Nathan Thornburg, Co. G.
Franklin Ballenger, Co. H.
James Bell, Co. H.
Alonzo Dunham, Co. H.
George W. Delano, Co. H.
Josiah Pratt, Co. H.
John W. Shull, Co. H.
Hiram Bailey, Co. K.
John W. Emmons, Co. K.
George S. Fisher, Co. K.
Jacob Hurald, Co. K.
Henry Newton, Co. K.
William F. Rea, Co. K.
Joseph Survaul, Co. K.
George H. Shockley, Co. K.
Darius Stevens, Co. K.
Matthew Zix, Co. K.
James N. Christian, Co. L.
Robert A. Morehouse, Co. L.
Leander McCartney, Co. L.
John M. Armstrong, Co. M.
Joseph D. Alexander, Co. M.
William Brigg, Co. M.
George W. Blake, Co. M.
Nathan E. Gruell, Co. M.
Enos Halloway, Co. M.
William H. Huffman, Co. M.
James M. Isentrager, Co. M.
Samuel King, Co. M.
Franklin Ridley, Co. M.
Total killed at Sulphur Branch Trestle, 21
Died in prison, 11
Lost on the Sultana, 51

Note.—The last dispatch sent out of the fort the day of the surrender was carried by John McCorkle, of Company B, and a member of the 3d Tennessee Cavalry. They left the fort about 7 o'clock A. M., and accomplished the feat by their coolness and "bold riding."


On Sunday, the 25th day of September, 1864, the mounted portion of the 9th Indiana Cavalry, about two hundred in number, were called to do battle at Sulphur Branch Trestle, Alabama. Firing began on the skirmish lines at 5 o'clock in the morning, and was kept up at a lively rate until about 8 o'clock, when the battle began in earnest. There were with us about one hundred of the Third Tennessee Cavalry, and there were also about three hundred colored troops that were stationed in the fort. We were ordered to dismount and corral our horses and climb the hill and enter the fort, except myself and ten men, who were ordered to guard the horses, until the battle became so hot that it was considered unsafe to remain outside of the fort. We remained with the horses until a cannon-ball or slug or something of the kind—anyhow, it was something from a rebel gun—landed in about fifteen feet of us. It tore a hole in the ground large enough to bury a small-sized cow, and threw dirt all over us. We then thought it was time to desert the horses and let them take care of themselves, and climb the hill and get into the fort as soon as we could conveniently without hurting ourselves, and up the hill we went, and when we arrived at the entrance to the fort we asked where the 9th Indiana Cavalry was stationed. We were told that they were on the opposite side of the fort. So we had to go through the center of the fort to get to where our boys were stationed. That was the most dangerous trip I ever experienced in my life. There were a lot of barracks in the fort and the rebel cannon were playing on them and knocking them all to pieces, and throwing the loose boards in every direction. It made the hair raise on our heads as we went dodging through the barracks among the flying boards and shell and cannon ball, but we finally got to our men in safety.

The colonel commanding the fort was killed in the beginning of the battle, and Major Lilly, of our regiment, took command, and, by the way, Major Lilly was a hustler. He was one of the bravest officers that ever went to the front. During the hottest of the battle one of our men got scared so badly that he wanted to surrender. So he pulled off his shirt and placed it upon the end of his bayonet and held it up as a flag of truce. That got the enemy excited and they went for us hotter than ever. They made charge after charge, but some of our boys pulled that old dirty shirt down and made the fellow put it on again. We kept the rebs at bay as long as we had ammunition, but at 1 o'clock we were out of ammunition, and there we were about 800 strong, with no ammunition and surrounded by ten thousand rebels. So we surrendered. We were then conducted out of the fort and taken to the woods and a rebel guard placed around us until they got ready to start to Dixie with us. While we were waiting there a rebel captain that some of our boys had shot in the heel in the fight rode around among us and cussed us for an hour. He swore that if he knew which one of us damned Yanks it was that shot him in the heel he would shoot his heart out. But we did not tell who it was, and I don't think he has found out to this day.

Well, along towards night the rebs got ready to start with us for Dixie. Then fun began; we marched nearly all night through the mud and under rebel guard. Sometime after midnight we were halted and allowed to lie down in the woods on the ground without undressing, but before daylight we were rousted out and on the go again. This kind of business was kept up for three long days, until we had marched something over one hundred miles, with about enough to eat to make one good square meal. With the Alabama red mud enough sticking to each foot to make about three brick we finally arrived at Tuscumbia, Ala., where the rebs were operating a kind of a one-horse railroad. There they piled us into a couple of freight trains and we were hauled around over half of the State of Mississippi and back again into Alabama, and were finally landed at Cahaba, Ala., at the end of ten days from the time we were made prisoners. We were then stripped and examined, and robbed of everything that we possessed that was of any value. We were then marched into the prison pen. The prison pen was a large cotton warehouse, surrounded by a stockade with an elevated walk around the outside of the building. On this walk the rebel guards were stationed about every forty feet with loaded guns ready and anxious to kill any poor Yankee who might see fit to set a foot across the dead line. There was also a walk on the inside of the building around next to the wall, and a rebel guard was stationed there about forty feet apart. The dead line was a mark they made about eight feet from the inside wall, all around the inside of the building, and no prisoner was allowed to step across that line. If he did the orders were to shoot him on the spot, and the order was obeyed to the letter, but we were generally careful to keep off of that dead line.

I shall never forget the morning that we were first marched inside of that prison. The old prisoners that were there before us on seeing us march in all seemed glad to see us, and yelled at the top of their voices, "Fresh fish! fresh fish! Hands on your pocket-books," just as if we had not already been robbed of everything we had by the rebs. But we soon got used to that for we had not been there long until we yelled "fresh fish" to other new prisoners that kept coming in every few days. There were on an average about three thousand of us there during the six months that we were there. Sometimes there were as many as thirty-five hundred of us. When there was that many we could not all lie down at one time inside of the prison. There was a cook yard in front of the prison about seventy-five feet square, enclosed with a stockade. We were allowed to pass out into the cook yard during the day so that we could cook the little grub that was allowed us. Our rations consisted of one pint of corn meal per day and a piece of fresh pork, about one inch square, every other day, but that was not issued to us very regular. Sometimes they would forget to issue rations to us for a day or so at a time. It did not seem to disturb the rebels in the least to forget to issue rations to us. We were divided into messes consisting of ten men to the mess, and every ten men were allowed one old-fashioned Dutch skillet and lid. In this we did the entire cooking for the ten men or mess. So we were engaged in cooking all day, if we happened to have enough to cook to keep the skillet going. It rained nearly the entire time we were there. It seemed to us that it rained at least forty days in each month, consequently we had to do the most of our cooking in the rain. I have stood in a stooping position over the skillet for hours at a time to keep the rain from drowning out the fire while cooking. Our wood that we used for cooking with was generally green white pine, nearly as hard to burn as green buckeye. We were allowed to go outside of the prison to carry the wood in. They would let five of us out to the wood-pile at a time; we would rush out and chop a load of wood and then carry it in. We would form what we called the wood line, and go out as our turns would come. I have stood in the wood line many times for a half day at a time in the rain, and then perhaps I would not get to go out after wood. We would do this work by turns and when we were not busy in this way were busy fighting "gray-backs." That part of the business we had to attend to whether we got dinner or not, for if we had neglected to kill off the "gray-backs" once a day at least we were in danger of being eaten up alive.

We had a regular police force of our own men. It consisted of about thirty men. It was their duty to keep order in the prison and to punish any one who did not conduct himself in a proper manner. If any two got into a fight the police would at once form a ring and let them fight it out. They would make it their business to see fair play. There were three or four fights in the prison every day. That was a natural consequence where there were so many men huddled in together that it was almost impossible for them all to lie down at one time, and half-starved, it was natural for some of them to get cross and be ready to get up and fight at a moment's notice; but they were so weak and in such a famished condition that they seldom ever hurt one another in a fight. We also had a few dishonest men in the prison; they would steal anything they could get their hands upon. The police would sometimes punish them very severely for their misdemeanors—such as stealing, but there was no punishment for a fair fist fight.

We undertook to break out of the prison one morning about 4 o'clock, and captured all the rebel guards inside the prison. We took their guns from them and put them in the privy and placed a guard over them and kept them there nearly an hour, but the rebels on the outside got wind of it a little too soon for us, and there happened to be more rebel soldiers there at that time than they usually kept at that point; they rolled a big cannon up to the door of the prison and scared us out of the notion of breaking out at that time. The rebs called that a mutiny and issued an order that we should have nothing to eat until we delivered up the leaders of the mutiny. Then we thought that starvation stared us in the face sure, for we had no idea that there was one among our number that would give away the leaders; but alas! the leaders were sadly disappointed, for after three days of starvation, some one—I never could find out who he was—got so hungry that he gave the plot away and informed on about twenty of the leaders. The rebs took the informer out of the prison at once and gave him his freedom for his information. If they had not taken him out of the prison he would have fared badly among the prisoners for being a traitor.

They took the leaders of the mutiny out and punished them in various ways. Some they put in dungeons, some in chains, and one fellow was sentenced to be put in a four-foot square box for one hundred days. Some of them were never heard of by us after they were taken out. We supposed that they were killed. We were always scheming for some place to get out. So the next thing we were up to was tunneling out. We had a tunnel dug about fifty feet, and in a few more days our tunnel would have let us out on the bank of the river, when the river raised and filled our tunnel full of water, so that was all work for nothing. I had two special friends as fellow prisoners—George W. Addington and William Collins. We three stuck together like brothers. One day the rebs took Addington out. Myself and Collins did not know what had become of him. We thought that, perhaps, they had killed him for some imaginary offence. Well, things went on as usual for about a week when a reb came in and took Collins out, and no explanation was given, so we thought that he was gone up also, but in another week the same reb came in and called for me. That scared me nearly out of my boots, for I thought my time had come sure, but to my surprise he took me to the hospital where I found my friends Addington and Collins busily engaged in washing clothes for the hospital. I will say now before I go further that the hospital was for Federal prisoners only, and they required prisoners to do all the work about the hospital. Addington had managed in some way to get the job of washing for the hospital, and as soon as he could make an excuse for calling in help he sent for Collins and myself. We got that washing business down to a regular system. We would wash sheets and pillow-slips on Monday, shirts and drawers on Tuesday, colored clothes on Wednesday, odds and ends on Thursday, and on Friday we would boil "gray-backs," that is, we would wash the clothes of prisoners that came out to the hospital sick. When a prisoner was brought out of the prison sick they would take him to an out house, strip him of his prison clothes, and take him to another room and put hospital clothes on him, and every Friday we had to boil and wash all clothes that accumulated in that way. Sometimes it would be a sickening job, but it was far better than lying in prison. We three had to work about four hours each day. This gave us about half work and we received about half enough to eat at the hospital, except occasionally we got something extra. We got it in this way: The managers of the hospital were all rebs and aristocrats, and they had negro women to carry their meals to their private rooms. Of course they got plenty to eat and sometimes there was something left. This the waiters always saved for us, and about two or three times a week, after dark, our door would be pushed open and we would see a tin pan slip in and it always had something in it good to eat, such as cold biscuits and cold beef-steak, and it was always good, and we felt very thankful to the colored people that run such risk in furnishing it to us, for if they had been caught at it they would have been punished severely for it. We were not allowed to speak to any of the colored attendants about the hospital, but we often talked to them when there were no rebs in sight. I once saw a prisoner that was sick but convalescing so that he was able to walk about some, come out of the ward in search of a fresh drink of water. He asked a colored woman for a tin cup to drink out of, and the rebel doctor happened to hear him, and he was sent to the prison for the offence. The next morning the poor fellow was brought back on a stretcher dead. About the first of March, 1865, the Alabama river raised and overflowed and spread itself all over the town and was from two to four feet deep inside of the prison. Our boys had a terrible time of it then for about two weeks. The rebs floated wood inside the prison for the prisoners to roost on. Our boys had to eat what little grub they got raw, and sleep while sitting on a pile of wood. This happened while I was at the hospital, consequently I missed the fun of having to sit on a wood pile for two weeks and eat raw grub. While at the hospital we always had hash for dinner. I remember one day the hash had soured, and we liked it better, because it made a change. About the time the river went down to its proper level we were all paroled; then we started for Vicksburg by rail until we got to Jackson, Miss., about fifty miles south of Vicksburg; there we had to take it afoot. It took me just eight days to walk from Jackson, Miss., to Black River, forty miles. When I got there, there was just one man with me, about twenty behind us, the others being ahead of us. At Black River there was a pontoon bridge—a rebel guard on the south side and a Yankee guard on the north side. We arrived there about sundown and had to stay on the rebel side all night. Our boys on the north side were allowed to bring us over some coffee and hard-tack, which we enjoyed very much, as it was the first coffee that we had tasted for six long months. The next morning we were transferred to the north side and amongst friends. We staid at the hospital in Vicksburg a few days and then took a hospital boat for St. Louis, and from there home.


While stationed at Pulaski, Tenn., details from the regiment were frequently ordered out upon reconnoitering parties, and upon these occasions generally met Roddy, Duke, Wheeler, or other cavalry commanders in that department, in skirmishes, which, as a rule, were bloodless. They were all exciting, however, and accustomed the boys to the use of their carbines. Of these affairs, what was termed in the regiment as "The Lynnville Fight," was the most sensational, and resulted in more racket than was ever raised by the same number of men in so short a time.

On Sunday, September 2, 1864, at 8 o'clock A. M., pursuant to orders, the regiment marched out on the Nashville Pike, Companies B and L in the advance. The movement was occasioned by reports to the effect that Wheeler with a considerable body was in the neighborhood with the purpose of destroying the railroad. After advancing about six miles a message was received by courier from Capt. Owings, of Co. F, occupying with his company the block house near Lynnville, for the purpose of protecting the railroad, to the effect that the rebels were in town in heavy force, and that he would not be able to hold his position long.

Major Lilly was ordered to go to his relief with seventy men of Companies B and L. Advancing at a gallop, Lieut. Harrod, with sixteen men of Company B, leading the column, within one-half or three-quarters of a mile of the town, from a slight elevation, a full view was obtained of the rebels. Halting for a moment, Major Lilly ordered a charge to be made with the sabre. Harrod, with his sixteen men in advance, supported by the fifty-five B and L men, under command of the Major, forming quickly, were soon observed by the rebels. The advance was formed in double, the support in single rank. The orders "forward," "trot," "gallop," "charge," were given in quick succession, and in a moment all were hidden in a cloud of dust. The rebels in the town proved to be the 3d and 4th Georgia Cavalry. The attack was a surprise to them. Lieut. Harrod, being at the front and right of his platoon, had a fair view of the town and the enemy, and as the charge was made, says the Georgia boys began to run when our advance was fully a quarter of a mile away, and when they reached the south side of the town the Johnnies were going out of the north side in great haste and apparent confusion. For the next five minutes the race was lively. Our boys returned their sabres to their scabbards and drawing their carbines and revolvers began firing. The rebels threw away in their haste guns, blankets, haversacks, muster rolls, and whatever encumbered them; and between the discharge of fire-arms, the shouts of our men and the clatter of the horses' hoofs, the natives were thoroughly aroused. The pursuit was kept up for about five miles, the fleeing Johnnies making a stand upon coming up to the main force of Wheeler's rear guard. Two of the enemy were killed and eight captured. The wounded, if any there were, made their escape.

Corporal George R. Parsons, Co. B, mounted on a fast horse, was said to have got nearer the body of the enemy's forces than any other man. Capt. Nation, who was with the regiment without his company, by special permission, with a blow of his sabre delivered upon the side of the head, after a command to halt, unseated a Confederate, mounted upon a large mule. The mule got away. William Johnson was slightly cut by a ball, and the horse of Sergt. Foster was badly shot. Capts. Wall, Nation and Moorehouse took part in the charge. The boys, in the presence of Wheeler's rear guard, and so near his main body of perhaps 8,000 men, did not care to push matters further, and so quietly withdrew to Lynnville for refreshments, and to rest their horses.

General Rousseau was near Wheeler's rear and left flank. Wheeler was between us with only one way open to the South. During the after part of the night Wheeler moved in the direction of Lawrenceburg, and the 9th was ordered back to Pulaski. On Monday evening, September 3d, the 9th was ordered to Lawrenceburg to head off Wheeler if possible. Rousseau was pressing him with between 2,000 and 4,000 infantry and artillery. Wheeler's forces were estimated at 8,000—nearly all mounted, with a battery of light artillery. His artillery was used very little. The 9th reached Lawrenceburg about 7 o'clock on the morning of the 4th, just in time to see the 9th Ohio Cavalry assist Wheeler's rear guard out of town. About 8 o'clock A. M. the 10th Indiana Cavalry was ordered to the front and became engaged with a strong rear guard of the enemy in a thick wood. They drove them back two or three miles, when the 10th was in turn pressed back. Major Lilly, who was with Gen. Granger when it was reported to him that the 10th Indiana had been driven back, requested of the general that he be permitted to take his battalion to the front. The general, who had heard of the efficient manner in which the Lynnville affair had been conducted, granted the request. Col. Jackson received permission to lead the remainder of the regiment.

By order the troops on the road for a mile withdrew to the right and left, and the 9th was given free passage. The position occupied by the 10th Cavalry was soon reached. They were in a narrow valley; the rebels on the ridge above them—the 9th on the opposite hill. It was fortunate for the 9th that the rebels made the mistake so often made in engagements—shot too high—the balls rattling in the tree-tops above their heads. A rapid fire at will was ordered and the lines were closed. The 9th advanced steadily, firing over the 10th Indiana, which soon moved out of the way by the flank, giving the 9th an open field. The Confederates did not long await the coming of the 9th, but, after a few volleys, fell back. Again making a stand and forming, the 9th hurries without a halt or hesitation, steadily presses them hard, beating them back from occasional stands for a distance of four miles, when Wheeler corraled his train, threw down the fences and brought his artillery into position. The boys were hot and tired, and concluded they did not want to take his artillery and rested. The offer of battle thus made by Wheeler to Granger was not accepted for reasons not known to the world. The opportunity was a good one and those generals had been ostensibly looking for Wheeler. Wheeler had the advantage, to be sure, in numbers, of perhaps 2,000 men, and these generals did not know at that time the superior material they had under their command. Wheeler began to move, and the 10th and 12th Tennessee Cavalry relieved the 9th. After some desultory firing, Wheeler was permitted without further serious annoyance to cross the Tennessee River. There is where the Federal generals desired to drive him, and so the object of the expedition was successful and Wheeler's attempt to destroy the railroad a failure.

The loss to the enemy was 25 killed and 150 wounded. The 9th lost none killed and none seriously wounded.

September 5th the regiment reached Athens, Ala. September 6th returned by Elk River to Mussel Shoals and Shoal Creek, going into camp at night on the bank of the stream, with the other bank held by a Confederate force under command of a Col. Anderson. The bridge spanning the stream being unsafe for horses, on the 7th the regiment crossed by a dangerous ford, Companies B and L in advance, and soon engaged with Anderson, who was driven to Florence, Ala., a distance of seven miles, in about four hours, near which place he succeeded in crossing the Tennessee River.


While held at Enterprise, our men learned of the existence of a government within the State of Mississippi, of which most readers of history are to this day ignorant. They were informed that early in the days of secession Jones County, which touches Clarke County on the southwest, by its leading citizens, withdrew from the Confederacy, declaring themselves a free and independent people, organized a special and distinct government, under the name of the "Republic of Jones," adopted a constitution modeled after that of the United States, elected a President and officers of State, and refused to contribute men or money to the cause of the Rebellion. The census of 1860 gives the population of Jones County at 3,323. So that the standing army of Jones could not, if made up of the able-bodied males, have been very formidable.

The cause which compelled the brave people of Jones to sever their connection with the most of mankind, seems to have been plunder. In the absence of C. S. A. troops, marauding parties sallied forth, capturing mules, horses, cotton, grain, and whatever else could be easily transferred, and when pursued or upon the approach of troops, hastily retreated and disbanded, seeking safety in swamps or other places difficult of access, remaining in hiding until the apparent danger had passed. It is stated that the Republic did not in any manner contribute to the cause of the C. S. A.

While the prisoners never became thoroughly posted in the principles of that Republic it looked at one time as if they would get, in an unpleasant manner, a knowledge of its practical workings. Enterprise was about forty miles from the seat of government of Jones. Held at Enterprise were about 100 officers of various regiments, (some of colored troops,) besides the officers of the 9th Cavalry and 3d Tennessee Cavalry captured at Sulphur Branch Trestle. The commander of the post was a Major Edward Ward, a resident of Indiana before the war, who had gone South in 1858, engaged in business, became identified with the people and interests of that section, and united his fortunes with those of the Confederacy at the breaking out of the war. He had not been so long away from the North as to have grown indifferent to his old home—he still had a soft place in his heart for Indiana. He invited the officers of the 9th to his headquarters and treated them as hospitably as his position and condition would allow. At roll-call at 10 o'clock, October 15, 1864, Major Ward informed the prisoners that he had just received information through his scouts that the Republic of Jones was threatening to capture the prison camp and massacre the prisoners, for the alleged reason that the imprisoned officers had commanded negro troops. He said he would not be able to protect them against the superior force and did not know what to do. The proposition of Major Lilly, following the announcement of the commander of the post, must have been in the nature of a surprise: "If you can not protect us allow us to protect ourselves." Major Ward asked what he meant by that. Major Lilly explained that he meant that the commander should place arms and ammunition in the hands of the prisoners, and then if they were murdered no blame could attach to him. Major Ward said that the arming of prisoners was without precedent, and would certainly be dangerous when they were numerically stronger than their guard. Major Lilly admitted that the proceeding was unusual, but the circumstances justified the innovation, and proposed that all the prisoners pledge their honor as officers and men to use the arms only in defence of themselves against the anticipated attack, and to surrender them when the danger was ended. The pledge was taken, and in the afternoon two wagon loads of muskets and one of ammunition were delivered to the prisoners, the guards were taken off, and each officer selected his gun and put it in condition for immediate use. Lieut. Harrod, who had not sufficiently recovered the use of his leg—wounded at Sulphur Branch Trestle—to be able to walk, was confined to the camp. Thus armed and equipped, the unwonted spectacle was presented of the Yank and Johnny marching side by side against the common enemy—Major Lilly, in the full uniform of the United States Army, with his gun at a right shoulder, by the side of a rebel, marching in the picket squad to the front. It was perhaps the earliest instance of the fraternizing of the Blue and the Gray.

The prisoners remained on duty three days and nights without being attacked. The enemy had learned that their plans were discovered and preparations made to meet them. A fight upon fair terms was not what they wanted, and they had withdrawn.

True to their pledged word the prisoners surrendered and stacked their arms—no gun nor man missing. They had shown that they were as honorable as brave, and from that time until they were sent North they were allowed greater freedom of movement—the guards simply patroled the camp. Citizens were allowed free access to camp, but the prisoners were not permitted to talk to them or the negroes on politics or the war.


Atlanta had fallen. Sherman, before starting on his "march to the sea," detached the Fourth and Twenty-fourth Corps, under command of Schofield, and sent them by forced march to Pulaski to watch Hood, who was at Florence, and to retard his advance into Tennessee until Thomas, who was at Nashville, could concentrate enough troops to—as Sherman pithily said—"take care of him." The main body of the 9th Cavalry had shortly before this been sent to Nashville to secure horses for mounting the regiment; a small number of each company only remained to guard the camp and stores.

About the 15th of November the forces from "the front" arrived, and soon our peaceful camp was the scene of warlike preparation. The beautiful slope which we had so long occupied was cut into rifle-pits, and just north of regimental headquarters a breast-work was raised, commanding the approaches from south and east.

Receiving information that indicated an advance of the enemy on Columbia by the way of Winchester, the works were abandoned. The infantry took up their line of march for Columbia, and the remnant of the 9th hastily loaded the camp equipments and stores and boarded the train for Nashville on the 23d of November, arrived on the morning of the 24th, and rejoined the main body who were encamped across the river in Edgefield. The remounting being completed, the cavalry forces at Nashville were rapidly organized as the seventh division of the cavalry corps—Gen. Knipe commanding. The first brigade, Gen. J. H. Hammond commanding, was composed of the 9th and 10th Indiana, the 2d and 4th Tennessee and 19th Pennsylvania.

On the 27th the first brigade moved through the city and down the Franklin Pike a few miles and went into camp; on the 28th, passed through Franklin to Spring Hill and went into camp, awaiting orders from the front. On the 29th moved to the left of the Columbia Pike and were all day in the saddle marching and counter-marching, slowly falling back, almost constantly within hearing of the fighting at the front.

On the night of the 29th marched across to the Triune Pike to repel an alleged flanking movement of the enemy, who failed to appear at that point. At day-light we went into camp, and after a hasty breakfast, snatched an hour of needed sleep. Soon the unwelcome "boots and saddles" sounded, and we resumed our weary waiting and watching, nearly always within sound of musketry, but not seeing the rebels nor hearing the "zip" of the unfriendly bullet. We marched and counter-marched, always halting nearer Nashville.

To those of us who had not yet seen a rebel under arms the suspense, the constant expectation of battle, was more trying than actual fighting afterwards proved. On this day when the sound of musketry drew nearer and nearer, we were drawn up in line, and with drawn sabres awaited the appearance of the enemy and an order to "charge." Expectation sat in a thousand pale faces as

"Each looked to sun and stream and plain
As what they ne'er might see again."

Suddenly the rattle of musketry seemed to roll away and all was still. Another time when the sound of battle approached our position, we dismounted and in line awaited the onset.

In the evening the distant boom of cannon announced that a battle was on somewhere, and while we sat on our horses, weary but alert, the bloody battle of Franklin was being fought miles away. At last night fell, and exhausted men and horses sank gratefully to sleep.

Our camp was at the base of a wooded hill, in a field adjoining the Nolansville Pike. Next morning, December 1st, the horses, that had not been unsaddled, were put in line and held while breakfast was prepared and eaten. Before this was completed out-post firing was heard—a cavalryman came galloping, saying the enemy was upon us. The command hastily mounted and moved out on the pike, just before reaching which Companies D and G were halted, and, under command of Major Lyon, went into line, facing the rear. The regiment moving at a rapid walk, moved up the pike and disappeared. In a few minutes the rebels opened an irregular but furious fire from the brow of the hill under which we had camped. At the first discharge a horse went down; directly a man was shot; another horse fell. Thicker and thicker came the bullets; fiercer and fiercer grew the rebel yell. Major Lyon rode up and down the line shouting, "Give 'em hell, boys." It was the "baptism of fire" for the boys, but no one faltered. When ordered to wheel to the right, by fours, to march to the rear, behind a stone wall on the other side of the pike, they executed the movement as deliberately as on dress parade. Dismounted and sheltered by the stone wall the men were comparatively safe, but the horses suffered severely. Before they could be led to the rear, out of range, fifteen had fallen.

The rebels did not advance from the brow of the hill, but blazed away with constantly increasing vigor. A "jackass battery" opened on us. The boys did not flinch from this new experience, but kept steadily to their work with the coolness of veterans. Our Maynard carbines were weak weapons, useless at long range—our fire must have been ineffectual as to casualty, but being breech-loaders the boys were enabled to fire with such rapidity that the enemy over-estimated our numbers and hesitated to advance, but began creeping round our flanks on either side. And still the Major said "give 'em hell, boys," and held us to the work until our ammunition was exhausted. About this time Adjutant Payne, who was on the staff of Gen. Hammond, came back with orders to retreat. Everybody was willing, but it was easier said than done.

Almost surrounded, no ammunition, many more men than horses, the pike in possession of the foe, it was not a comfortable prospect. Hurrying to the rear we mounted—some without horses, mounted behind a comrade; again another would hold to a stirrup or a horses' tail to keep up with the rapid trot. No one thought of dashing to safety at the expense of a dismounted comrade. A horse was killed throwing its rider against a tree breaking his collar bone. Instantly he was placed behind a comrade and away again. On and on through wood and field, rushing through rail fences, tearing down stone walls with bleeding hands and still behind, and from either side, the rebel yell and hissing bullet.[1]

At last, most welcome sight, the guidons of a cavalry regiment drawn up in line to receive us and check the enemy. Feeling sure of safety for all, we dashed forward, leaving the dismounted men two hundred yards behind. To our surprise and indignation this regiment wheeled into column and trotted away before we reached them leaving us to follow. The abandoned, dismounted men took to a cornfield and many of them escaped. Two privates of Co. D, Lieut. Swayne and some enlisted men of Co. G, were taken prisoners. Later on we reached the regiment standing in line on the pike. From this place we moved slowly toward Nashville until night came on. Going into camp near the road we enjoyed what we had fairly earned—a night's repose without alarm.

As we passed through Nashville to our old camp at Edgefield next morning, every hatless trooper of the previous day's fight will gratefully remember how the merchants in the city came out with arm loads of hats to supply our needs. Late in the evening the brigade was again in the saddle, marching to Gallatin, Tenn., where we remained some days patrolling the river from that place to Carthage to keep the enemy from crossing. While here encamped a detachment of the 9th, under command of Major Wall, was sent up into Kentucky "pressing in" horses and mules. This expedition was through a rich country, comparatively unravaged by the war, and was a pleasure trip to its participants. Not so to the hapless citizens who had horses and mules. Desolation to poultry yards marked the path of the party. A fine lot of animals were secured, among them a number of blooded horses. It is possible that all these did not receive Uncle Sam's trade mark. There was a legend current in the regiment that one of the mules obtained at this time, that by accident was not branded, did excellent service at New Orleans in supplying one company with the needful.[2]

On December the 8th the command returned to Nashville. The morning was lowery and by noon began to rain. A strong northwest wind froze the water as it fell and soon the road was a glare of ice. The horses unshod or smooth shod had but precarious footing. Fortunately no serious accident occurred. The men were chilled and shivering. When the column halted for any purpose the red cedar rails on either side were soon ablaze; but before the cheerful flame could infuse warmth in the chilled fingers the bugle sounded "forward" and the grateful heat was left to waste its comfort on the frosty air. We left a fiery as well as a frozen track that day. Before nightfall we went into camp within two miles of the city. Soon, amid the lurid flame of burning rails, the smoking hot coffee, crisp sow-belly and luscious hard-tack, we forgot the discomfort of our cheerless ride—the song and laugh went round until one by one each voice was hushed and the camp was wrapped in silence.

On the morning of the 9th we moved across the river and went into camp on the west side of Nashville, where we remained until December 15th. While passing through the city Gen. Hatch and staff met the regiment—Col. Jackson joined him and with him held an informal review of the regiment as the column moved along. Our horses—fresh from their "old Kentucky homes"—were in such contrast to the jaded steeds from the front, with which Hatch's command was mounted, that, turning to Jackson, he said: "Colonel, you have a magnificent mount, but my boys will steal half of them before the battle."

"No, General," replied the Colonel, "the boys got these horses for their own use; you can't have one of them; but we don't want to seem small and will undertake to trade a limited number of our Maynards for your Spencers."

On reaching camp, an order was issued doubling the stable guard, and relieving from camp duty for a week any soldier who would secure a Spencer carbine. No horse was lost, a dozen or two Spencers were reported. These were organized for special service, and the zeal and enterprise developed in securing them had ample play during the stormy days which followed. It is possible that some members of this squad would have willingly resigned their prospects for distinction with the Spencer, for the more modest and less hazardous companionship of the Maynard.

The camp was in an open field with no tree, shrub or grass, or other covering than the sleet which fell and formed from day to day. It was a sloppy, slippery time. The discomfort of the situation was somewhat alleviated by remembering that the Johnnies were more unhappy than we. They had not wherewith to cover their nakedness and depended for food on such limited supplies as could be secured from the country. We were well fed and clothed.

On the morning of the 15th, the ice being melted, the regiment was in the saddle soon after daylight. Moving a short distance to the right we halted, waiting for McArthur's division to clear the way for our passage to the position assigned our division on the right of Smith's Corps.

About 8 o'clock A. M. the booming of the cannon on the left announced the opening of the battle. For an hour the fight seemed to remain in one place, but gradually the forces became engaged along the front, reaching a point to the right of our position. The cannons roared and thundered, and the rattle of small arms could be distinctly heard, while a dense smoke rolled up from the field which was obscured from our view by an intervening ridge. To get out of the ranks and climb this ridge to see how a great battle looked was a common impulse—an impulse too strong for those whose curiosity was stronger than their sense of duty. Two privates of one company, thus straying away, were discovered by one of Hammond's aids, who promptly placed them and their company commander under arrest. This officer[3] later in the day approached the General and obtained permission to lead his company in the coming fight, which he did so gallantly that he never heard any more about the arrest.

Two officers of another company likewise climbed the ridge and saw the belching of the cannon, the bursting of the shells, the great lanes torn through the ranks of blue, which, closing up, moved steadily toward the foe. It was a grand though awful sight. As one, sickening, turned away, he discovered that the regiment had moved away. Informing his companion, they descended the hill and quickly following were, fortunately for their credit, not discovered, and regained their place in the column.

The division now reached its place on the extreme right—the first brigade in reserve within the bend of the river. In line facing the front we sat on our horses awaiting results. The remainder of the division advanced toward the enemy and were soon hid from our view by the fog and smoke of battle. Here it was that the battery on the hill above and beyond the rebel advance opened on us with shell—all will remember this—and none forget the peculiar shrinking sensation with which we heard the first shell that came shrieking over our heads and bursting in our rear. Here it was, too, that, as the smoke lifted, we saw our troops swarm up the distant hill, and, after a short struggle in the fort, raise the stars and stripes above the works from whose guns had so recently come to us such unwelcome greeting. This redoubt was carried by Coons' Cavalry (dismounted), and two brigades of Smith's Corps. The same troop rushed gallantly on and soon carried another fort. The mounted men rushed forward and swept Chalmer's Cavalry back, capturing his headquarters, books and papers. The Confederate left was completely broken and driven back by the cavalry corps. Night stopped the pursuit.

The first brigade being in reserve, took no part in this day's fight, but followed closely the advance of our victorious fellow-cavalrymen, seeing on every side the evidences of the battle we had not helped to win. We reached the six-mile post on the Charlotte Pike; thence marching up Richland Creek three miles, bivouacked on Granny White Pike. Two companies, (L and another), going on picket, captured a number of prisoners during the night.

On the morning of the 16th, the first brigade returned to the Hillsboro' Pike. The 9th was detailed to support the 14th Ohio Battery in an attack on the rebel left and rear. Dismounted—a detail for skirmishers was made, including the "Spencer Squad." As they disappeared in the wood we followed. Soon a rattling volley, followed by the articulate venom of single shots, warned us that we were approaching the enemy. Reaching a position on a ridge thinly covered with trees, the guns were unlimbered, placed in position, and for two hours a furious duel raged between this and an opposing battery on the ridge a half mile away. The wooded valley intervening was alive with skirmishers, and the continuous dropping shots showed that they were hotly disputing possession. The occasional bringing in of the dead and wounded from the line attested the character of the struggle. The boys were evidently not in fun. The regiment lay in front of the guns which fired over us. This of itself was sufficiently exhilarating to a nervous man, but when the shells of the opposing battery came hustling through the air, bursting in front, above and behind us, cutting the branches above us or throwing the dirt over us, every man became a stoic and waited with calmness the missile which should square his account.

Strangely enough no casualty occurred in the line. Some annoyance was felt from a house on the left front occupied by sharp-shooters. A small squad, by permission, stole down upon them unobserved. Making a rush for the house the gray-backs went out of the back door as the boys went in at the front. The family were at breakfast. One of the boys sat down and had a hearty lunch, while the others searched the house from cellar to garret. Notifying the owner that another shot from the house would meet with response from the cannon, the boys returned and took their place in line.

And still the cannonade kept up. Shells passing overhead reached the horses in the rear, carrying consternation to the boys who were holding them. One came up to the line to get permission to trade places with one of the boys, saying if he had to be killed he preferred to die as a soldier, and not as a hostler.

Col. Jackson rode a white horse and, with his orderlies, remained mounted during this action. Wherever this horse was the shells were thickest. Upon being asked why he rode this horse he said that in battle no one hit what he shot at. So he rode this horse for safety. The Colonel held a fairly good place in the affections of his men, but none cared to cultivate any closer relations with him on this occasion. It was two sad-eyed orderlies who followed him up and down the line these two solemn hours.

The rebel battery ceasing to return our fire, we returned to our horses and about noon moved to the Cranny White Pike. Crossing it, we dismounted and climbed a hill—the remainder of the brigade going into line on our left. As we went into position the brass band of a regiment on our immediate left was playing a melancholy piece—doubtless expressing the feelings of the musicians, but certainly not inciting an appetite for battle in the hearers.

For some hours we lay upon this hill exchanging shots, occasionally, with an unseen foe, without loss. The 10th Indiana on our left lost some killed and wounded. About 4 P. M. Knipe ordered an advance of the whole division. The 9th did not wait, but, springing to their feet, dashed eagerly down the hill and away after the enemy, who did not stand upon the order of their going, but went at once.

Strict orders had been given to reserve fire until we should get in short range, but some nervous comrade, with patriotism at his finger ends, discharged his gun and at once a line of fire ran down the ranks. An effort to stop the shooting was made without avail. Company K had a man killed; a number were slightly wounded. Two Confederates were seriously wounded in or near a house at the base of the hill, where we discontinued the pursuit.

This could scarcely be dignified by the name of "a charge," as the enemy practically made no resistance. With fear to lend them speed they were further from us at the end of the race than upon the start. The day was damp and cold; many had on overcoats and poncho blankets. The haste with which we obeyed the order to advance did not give them time to divest themselves of extra clothing. The charge was along through a corn-field a foot deep in mud, intersected by several ditches and washouts, four to six feet deep, and from three to ten feet wide. Cavalry boots and other impediments made this a decidedly warm trip.

The rebels were now evidently badly whipped, and if the cavalry corps had now been mounted we could certainly have cut off the retreat by the Franklin road and practically bagged the entire game. By the time the horses could be brought up night had come and we went into camp at the base of the hill, from which the enemy had given us a parting shot at 5 o'clock.

The rebel army at the close of the fight on the 16th were completely whipped; the infantry with which the cavalry corps had contended were a demoralized and panic-stricken mob. Forrest, with his main body of cavalry, had not been present during the battle. Two brigades had reached the field on the evening of the 16th, and, holding the passes through the Brentwood hills, from the Granny White Pike, enabled the panic-stricken horde to reach the Franklin Pike and cross Little Harpeth. Night and Forrest's cavalry alone saved Hood's army from total capture. A strong rear guard of cavalry was formed to cover the retreat of the broken rebel columns, and, although the battle was won our work was but fairly begun. About midnight a heavy rain set in which continued at intervals for some days following.

By the early dawn the First Brigade was in the saddle en route for the Franklin Pike, the 19th Pennsylvania in advance, supported by the 10th Indiana. On reaching the pike the whole command started down toward Franklin at a swinging trot. Soon striking the enemy they gave way before the impetuosity of the advance and were rapidly driven back, losing many prisoners. At Hollow Tree Gap a considerable body of infantry were strongly posted, who repulsed the two regiments in front with the loss of 22 killed and wounded and 63 prisoners, principally from the 10th Indiana. To offset this, the 10th had captured and brought off the field two Colonels, two Lieutenant-Colonels, one Major and more than one hundred enlisted men. The 9th, being in the rear, had all the morning seen the evidences of the demoralization of the enemy. The guns and other equipments strewn along the road, the apparent abandonment of everything that impeded their flight, every door-yard filled with illy-clad shivering prisoners, had lead us to the conclusion that we had "a walk over." Hollow Tree Gap undeceived us.

After repulsing our advance the enemy fell back. The 9th Indiana was ordered up and took the advance. As we moved through the Gap we saw the saddest sight of the campaign. A trooper lay beside the road gasping his life away, and near him with a ghastly wound in his breast, lay dead the little curly-headed, blue-eyed boy, Duane A. Lewis, Co. B., sixteen years old, the General's orderly, whose bright and joyous face and fearless innocence had endeared him to the heart of every soldier in the brigade. The pitiless rain fell upon his upturned childish face; his eyes were open, but their light had gone out forever.

Gen. Knipe said to Hammond: "Take your command and go to Franklin; don't skirmish with the enemy three minutes, but attack him where found and drive him through the town."

The rain was gently falling, the heavy fog of early morning was somewhat dissipated, yet so dense that objects could not be distinctly seen at a distance. With a long trot we swept down the pike against a shadowy foe—ourselves but shadows. The depressing weather and the sad scene just passed made the lightest heart grow heavier as we swept along. Suddenly from the woods on the left a body of Confederate horse sprang into the road in front of us, and in a ghostly gallop lead the way to their lines.

Debouching into the open near Franklin, the cannon from the fort opened on us with shell. The head of the column turned to the right a short distance and wheeled into line—the centre and left coming on "front into line." Hammond being at the head of the column gave the command to charge before the line was barely formed. The right sprang forward at the command and was rapidly followed by the center. The left, under Capt. Hobson, was not yet in line and did not hear the command. Hammond again shouted "charge!" Hobson was looking after the alignment and did not hear the command. Hammond galloped to him and said: "You cowardly s— of a b—ch! why don't you charge?" Hobson raised himself in the stirrups and said: "Boys, we will show who are cowards! Forward! March! Trot! Charge!!" and lead the boys right up to the fort, where he was shot through the heart.[4] A stone wall on the left caused them to crowd on the centre and against the fort. The right also was forced to press in on the centre, by reason of a nursery, which, for horses, was practically impenetrable. The centre charged right down the open grounds on the left of the pike.

Lieut. Watts, of Company I, fell dead on the pike at the head of Company G. Lieut. Duvall, who lead Company H, was shot in the breast—a wound which hastened his death, occurring in 1880.

The Confederates had torn down the telegraph wire and, driving posts at intervals, had encircled the fort with it. This was unseen by the assaulting party until their horses tumbled over it. Encumbered by the horses who were useless in attacking a fort, impeded by a stone wall and wire-fence, under an awful fire of grape and canister and musketry at short range, the regiment fell back in disorder, but not without bringing off two stands of colors and over two hundred prisoners. These captures were made by individual prowess, and were not the result of concerted action.

Falling back perhaps two hundred yards from the fort and partially sheltered from the shells and musket balls by a slight depression in the plain, Acting Adjutant Comstock, under orders from the Colonel, planted the regimental colors, and the line was soon formed again. This was done quickly and well under fire. The shells were passing overhead and bursting threw the fragments among the men in a distressingly familiar way.

Lieut. Burroughs, of Company C, had been disabled in the charge, and, as the men from the left were crossing the pike to form on the colors, he asked for assistance to remount his horse, which was standing near. Two men dismounted to assist him, but just then a fragment from a bursting shell tore away part of his skull. He was carried to the rear in a dying condition.

As the same party were hastening to the right, as before mentioned, a shell passed through two horses, taking off the leg of one of the riders. Another horse had his head taken off as with a broad-axe. In the charge a horse was struck full in the breast with a cannon ball, passing through and disemboweling him. The rider went headlong in the mud, where he lay stunned until the fight was over. The charge was unwisely ordered, but bravely and brilliantly executed. To ride down in the face of a withering fire on a fort inaccessible to cavalry, defended by artillery and infantry, greatly outnumbering the attacking force, was apparently a ride to death. That it was not so we must thank Him without whose notice no sparrow falls to the ground. No one faltered; none turned back until all that could be done was accomplished. Bravely as this was done, it did not show forth that true courage, born of moral worth and a high sense of duty, as did the prompt rallying of the broken companies, and the speedy reforming of the line, under fire, and the patient waiting for orders among the bursting shells. This was the true touchstone of our greatness as a regiment, and nobly did the boys stand the test.

In his report, dated December 27th, 1864, Gen. Hammond, of this action, says:

"The enemy, having retreated, we followed rapidly, the 9th Indiana in advance, to near Franklin, and drove the enemy across the river into town, capturing, it is reported, two stands of colors and near two hundred prisoners. In this charge we lost three fine officers, among whom was Capt. Hobson—9th Indiana Cavalry,—a man remarkable for the prompt discharge of his duties, and his bravery. The 9th Indiana was supported by the 10th Indiana and the 4th Tennessee. But the first regiment deserved the principal credit of the charge and success."

For the regiment, whose heroism converted his blunder into a glorious achievement, this praise is scant enough. For the man, at whom he had but a few minutes before his death, hurled the most opprobrious epithet that can be applied to the brave man who loves his mother, or reveres her memory, this recognition comes too late.

The 4th Tennessee took the advance and pushed over the river, through the town and out on the Lewisburg Pike, followed by the brigade. Flanking the enemy out of a position between this and the Columbia Pike, we moved across to this latter road, and leisurely moved down toward Columbia. On either side of us great columns of cavalry were moving through the fields in parallel lines. The entire cavalry corps was in sight. The whole face of the country seemed covered with the mighty host.

"'T were worth ten years of peaceful life,
One glance at their array."

A mile to the front, a range of heavily wooded hills at right angles to the pike, rose abruptly from the plain. On the brow of this hill a battery in the road opened on us with shell. The first shell, passing over, bursted beyond our rear; another and another followed. The stragglers felt an impulse of valor unfelt before, and made vigorous efforts to get to the front. The pace of the command visibly quickened—broke into a trot, and soon were galloping, while still above us shrieked the shells. Alas! not all! Those in the rear could see the column, opening and closing at frequent intervals, as the horsemen passed on either side of the dead and wounded men and horses who had fallen.

Reaching a break in the wall which fenced in the right side of the road, the head of the column, turning, dashed into the field on the right. Dismounting at the edge of the woods, which was also the base of the hill, we advanced upon the enemy, and drove him from his position. It was said that in this action the 4th Regulars, lead by Knipe in person, went into line, without dismounting, charged the enemy, and, after a sharp hand to hand fight, drove him in confusion from the field.

The whole corps was engaged in this action, and, in thirty minutes from the discharge of the first gun, the entire rebel force, who were not killed or prisoners, were in full retreat. It was now nearly dark. Remounting, we moved to the right, the 10th Indiana in advance. Passing the enemy's flank, and reaching the pike in his rear, we moved forward to the attack. The 10th Indiana passed the enemy, who were ambushed behind a stone fence on the left, and who permitted us to likewise get well in the trot before springing it.

Suddenly, from out the darkness, "Halt! Who comes there?" sharply questioned a voice. "Federal cavalry," replied Jackson. "Fire!" rang out the command, and immediately from a thousand muskets in our very faces, gushed a sheet of flame. Down went man and horse. Another volley, and the frightened horses reared and plunged, many falling in a ditch alongside the road, crippling the riders.

Company L was in the advance. Moorehouse went down with a ghastly wound; Bristow fell dead; Jackson's horse went into the ditch, falling upon him, and inflicting permanent injuries to his breast. Acting Adjutant Comstock and another, whose name I cannot give, saved the Colonel from capture, by mounting him upon another horse and holding him in the saddle until a place of safety could be reached.

Color-Sergeant Ricks, of Company E, a noble boy, was killed, and, in the darkness, the colors were lost. The rebels, protected by the wall, were safe from sabre or bullet. The plunging of the horses, the cries of the wounded, the shouting of the officers, the lurid flashing of guns, fitfully lighting the scene, made a situation inadequately described by the modified term of the "new version."

The surprise, the darkness and disorder, the impossibility of returning the fire, left but one thing to do. A united rush was made to the right. The rail fence, bounding the road, went down with a crash—officer and man, with equal zeal, seeking safety in flight. The enemy pursued with shout and yell and hissing bullet. It was not a panic. It was good, hard sense. To get out of that hopeless hell was strictly business.

The enemy did not pursue very far. Halting in the woods, Hammond made an effort to get the brigade in line. He was so hoarse he could not speak above a whisper. It was found that all the officers were likewise too hoarse to make themselves heard, and the attempt was abandoned. Each officer and man sought sleep and rest where best it suited him. Sleep did not at once fall upon the camp. Silence there was, but not sleep. The chagrin of failure, the separation from comrades who might be dead or wounded, and in the hands of the enemy, added tenfold to the horror of the night, itself wet, cold, comfortless. At last tired nature succumbed to the drowsy god, and all too soon the morning bugle awoke us from slumber to the duties and dangers of another day.

On the 18th the command, encountering no enemy, marched to near Spring Hill, and went into camp. Resuming the march on the 19th, reached Rutherford's Creek. This stream was out of its banks, its current a torrent, making a more effective rear guard for the defeated army than even Forrest's brave and determined troops. The almost impassable condition of the roads delayed the arrival of the pontoons until the 20th. Meantime the infantry had overtaken us, and gone into camp near us.

When the infantry came from the front and began work on the defenses at Pulaski, they did not have a very high opinion of the cavalry arm of the service. This feeling was fairly illustrated in the remark of a bronzed veteran visiting our camp. He said: "The artillery makes the noise, the cavalry makes the show, and we do the work!" A General was heard to express his contempt for this arm of the service by offering to pay $10 per head for each cavalryman killed in battle. These boys had now followed our line of march and constant battle for some days. They had seen the character of the work done, and from them now was heard only words of warmest commendation. These were the heroes of Atlanta, and to have thus earned their enthusiastic approval, conquering their prejudice and compelling respect, was doubling our laurels and glory enough. Their unstinted praise was not more grateful to our hearts than was the generous sharing of their scant store of hard-tack to our now, for a day or two, "strictly corn-fed" stomachs.

The bridge across Rutherford's Creek being completed, on the 21st we crossed and moved down to Columbia. Duck River, swollen by the rains, that for a week had almost constantly fallen, was now a wide, deep and turbulant stream. The rain had ceased to fall, and it was snowing instead. The wind was blowing a gale from the northwest. This greatly increased the difficulty of bridging the stream, and it was December 23d before we were enabled to cross the river and resume the pursuit. We had been called up the midnight preceding, struck our tents, and, mounting, moved down near the river, where we sat upon our horses in the wind and flying snow—a dismal, dark, dreadful two hours—and then back to camp again.

About 10 o'clock A. M. on the 23d, we crossed the bridge and moved some miles down the Pulaski Pike, not encountering the enemy.

On the 24th, we moved through the fields on the right of Gen. Croxton's brigade. We were not in advance this day, and, while always in hearing of the guns, were not directly engaged. All this day, as we followed in the wake of the fight, our eyes were constantly greeted with unmistakable evidences of the struggle in front. No one will forget the little knot of dead and dying artillerymen and horses by the road-side, maimed and mangled by a bursting shell, a gory, ghastly sight.

Forrest, with the main body of his cavalry, had reached the line of Hood's retreat at Columbia, and from that point interposed a force not inferior in numbers, or discipline, to the cavalry corps pursuing. In addition to this force, we were hourly confronted by five brigades of infantry, under Gen. Walthall. So great a force, aided by bad roads and swollen streams, made it impossible for us to break through their defence. It is true that at every stand made by the enemy, we drove him from his position, but when he fell back it was usually in good order, and more as one who had accomplished a purpose than as a beaten and demoralized foe.

On the 25th, we pushed on, following the advance, which drove the enemy through Pulaski so closely, that he did not have time to destroy the bridge over Richland Creek. The men detailed to fire the bridge were killed or captured and the fire extinguished. Another stand was made at Reynolds' or Anthony's Hill, south of Pulaski. Our brigade was ordered to support the first brigade, sixth division, in an attack on this position. The enemy made strong resistance, and for some time the battle raged without advantage on either side. Hammond's brigade was ordered up. The 9th Indiana, with Companies I and D as skirmishers, advanced on the enemy's left. His skirmishers were soon met and driven back on the main line, lying along the top of the hill. A heavy fire was opened on these two companies, and they were compelled to fall back on the supporting column—which, going into line, advanced upon the enemy. Meantime the brigade in advance had been repulsed, and fell back in confusion,—the 7th Ohio cavalry breaking through the advancing column between the 4th Tennessee and the remainder of the brigade. The 4th charged gallantly and drove the pursuing enemy back into his works, but the support being delayed by the demoralized 7th Ohio, failed to come up, and the 4th was compelled to withdraw. Now it was that our regiment advanced with the 2d Tennessee on our left. Coming within sight of the defences, the whole line, with a yell and mighty rush, swept up the hill over the works and across the opening after the flying foe, who disappeared in the woods beyond. Company I had a place in this charge. Company D, being on the right of the skirmish line, had, in falling back, after helping develop the enemy's position, missed the supporting column—having to go around a precipitous hill to rejoin the regiment, only reached the scene in time to observe, but take no part in, the charge, which closed the day's work.

Going into camp the weary soldier found time to remember that this was Christmas day, and fill himself with the recollection of the Christmas feasts of former years—precious "little else" he had to fill himself with. Mud and snow below, clouds and rain above, all night long, was not conducive to rest, but caused the boys the more readily to resume the march next morning—the saddle being more comfortable than the camp.

The 26th opened with a heavy fog and gently falling rain. The 2d Tennessee in advance, supported by the 9th Indiana, struck the enemy about five miles from camp and drove him swiftly back on the main body, which was strongly posted on the south bank of Sugar Creek, a deep and rapid stream, with high and steep banks. The 2d Tennessee going into line, was soon hotly engaged. The 9th debouched from the road and went into line in reserve, but so near the first line that we were as fully under fire as those in front.

To remain under fire from an unseen enemy, without the stimulus of action, is a serious tax upon the courage of the average soldier. The 2d Tennessee, after a few minutes' exchange of courtesies with the enemy, were moved by the right flank to make room for us. Glad to move, the regiment took its place in the position lately occupied by the 2d Tennessee, while the 14th Ohio battery went into position near the line just abandoned by us. All this time the enemy's fire was unceasing. On reaching our new position we could see under the lifting fog, the creek with its steep banks, and beyond it the log barricades, from behind which constantly leaped forth the flame and smoke, accentuating the "zip" of the spiteful bullets, which constantly cut the air around us.

From here we could also see the slender thread of road leading to the ford, across which but two horses might pass abreast. As against mounted men the position was impregnable. The situation was not encouraging, contemplating which, an officer of the line got somewhat excited, and, riding to and fro in front of the regiment, constantly shouting: "Don't run, boys; for God's sake, don't run!"

This was an unnecessary appeal. Aside from the disorder arising from falling horses, the line stood unwavering. A sharp reprimand from Hammond, and this officer subsided. The fire of the enemy continued with increasing vigor. It was returned by "the boys" with interest. Protected by log works the enemy probably suffered no loss.

Two companies, under command of Capt. Cofer, were now sent to the left to a hill commanding the rebel right and protecting our left flank. The regiment, at the same time, moved to the right, making place for the balance of the brigade in line. The two companies moving to the left reached an angle in the hill—one arm running back parallel to our line of advance, the other, and shorter arm, projecting toward the field of battle. Dismounting behind the shorter arm, which thoroughly protected the horses, the two companies scaled the hill and formed in line on its top, overlooking the rebel works in the plain below. Company D took the position nearest the field, the other company (Company I, probably), going to the left, were in the act of deploying to guard against surprise from the extreme left, when the enemy left his works, crossed the creek, and wildly yelling, charged the centre of the main line, driving them back probably three hundred yards, leaving the led horses in a triangle, the base and perpendicular of which was too "perpendicular" to climb, and the high position in the hands of the enemy. Company D hurriedly scrambled down the hill, and, remounting, dashed out through the astonished Confederates to a place of safety, where, reforming, they rejoined the regiment. In their ride to the rear Company D lost four enlisted men by capture. The horses of the other company were also successfully brought off.

Cofer, with his company, hearing the battle surging back in the centre, also tried to get back, but by the time the deployed line could be rallied to return, they were met by a body of the enemy, who, seeing so many led horses going to the rear, suspected the truth, and went up the hill to see about it. Resistance was hopeless, flight seemed impossible, but, with a rebel prison on the one hand, and a chance for safety in a race with death on the other, was but a moment's hesitation. Running back up the hill and making a wide detour, Indiana put in her "best licks," and, although the rebels had the inner and by far the shorter line, they escaped, amidst a storm of bullets, without a scratch, and rejoined the regiment, much to their own satisfaction and greatly to the relief of the remainder of the regiment, who had given them up for lost.

The brigade again advanced and drove the enemy back into his works. The 14th Ohio battery was now placed in position, and soon shelled them out, and pursuit was continued some distance by a portion of the command, the remainder soon going into camp.

These were the last rebels in arms seen by us in this campaign. Subsistence for men and horses was becoming a serious question. We had received no rations since leaving Nashville, twelve days before. There had been little time for foraging. The resources of the country were nearly exhausted by the rebel army—men and horses were worn out and hungry. A few days were consumed in recruiting the horses and securing supplies. The march was resumed and continued without incident of special interest, except a very pleasant encampment at Taylor Springs and a very unpleasant, not to say dangerous, crossing of Elk River, ending at Gravelly Springs, where we went into winter quarters.

It was but a remnant of the 9th Cavalry that went into camp at the close of this long march. By death, wounds, disease and capture we had lost heavily. Those stopping by the way, from death or exhausting of horses, added to the other losses—not more than two hundred effectives reached this, our final, camp in Alabama. In considering the service of the 9th Cavalry in this campaign, we will concede that other commands may have done more fighting, but in promptly and effectually performing the duties assigned, no regiment could have excelled the 9th Indiana.

Hammond, in his report, says: "During this campaign I have had continual occasion to admire the bravery of both officers and men, and to lament want of discipline." The discipline of our regiment was fairly good; the officers, as a rule, had the respect and confidence of their men, who yielded prompt obedience to all orders. Gen. Hammond never issued an order, either in battle, on the march or in camp, that we did not try to obey, whatever we may have thought of the wisdom of it.

It is the deliberate opinion of the writer, after twenty years' experience with all sorts of people, that no finer body of men ever lived than served together in the 9th Indiana Cavalry, and certain it is no braver soldiers ever marched to battle.

Map of battle, December 1, 1861.

Map of battle, December 1, 1861.


Those who were present will admit that Capt. Hayden's account of the 9th at Franklin is but a conservative statement of the facts. On the day after the fight, while we were all feeling very well satisfied with ourselves and the part the regiment had taken in the affair, I wrote a letter to the Cincinnati Commercial, which was published in its issue of December 29, 1864. I think it sufficiently pertinent to justify the insertion of the greater part of it.

D. W. C.

Camp of the 9th Indiana Cavalry,
Near Franklin, Tennessee, December 18, 1864.

It is a lamentable fact, that, for some reason as yet ungiven, the cavalry arm of our service has not, until quite recently, been distinguished for any special efficiency. Its connection, however, with the late brilliant victories in the Shenandoah Valley, have won for it at least the respect of the country, and caused the withdrawal of Major General Hooker's standing offer of twenty dollars for a dead cavalryman of the Potomac Army. In the West this branch of the army, as your readers are aware, has been organized into the corps of the Military Division of the Mississippi, under command of Brevet Major General Wilson, whose dash and splendid abilities, while eminently fitting him for the responsible position he holds, have fully warranted his promotion from Lieutenant Colonel to his present rank. The late complete successes of his command are evinced in those sure and substantial evidences of victory—prisoners, battle-flags and guns; and in this department no corps can show more of them than the cavalry.

While all the troops in this command have behaved with credit to themselves and honor to the cause in which they fight, for pluck, coolness and promptness in the hour that tests men's courage, among all the regiments taking part in the late move in front of Nashville, the 9th Indiana Cavalry of brigadier General Hammond's brigade, is worthy of special and honorable mention, and, particularly, its splendid charge upon the works and forces of the enemy at Franklin yesterday—an exploit unsurpassed by anything written of the war, and compared to which in point of success, Major Zagonyi's celebrated charge at Springfield, which created such a sensation at the beginning of the war, and interested the principal artists of the country in the face of a homely but ordinary man, becomes tame and unimportant. Some five hundred yards, over undulating grounds, made miry by recent rains, from the advance, (9th Indiana Cavalry, Colonel George W. Jackson commanding), of Hammond's brigade, and upon the north side of Big Harpeth river was a section of a battery, supported by two regiments of infantry, strongly entrenched behind abatis and rifle-pits; in front of them a regiment of cavalry drawn up to receive a charge. On the south side of the river four guns were so planted as to enfilade the road. Filing and forming to the right and left of the road, with a coolness, which seemed utterly regardless of the terrible accuracy with which the rebel guns were aimed, while their shells were mangling horses and their riders, the men seated themselves more firmly in their saddles, tightened the reins, and "looked on sky and tree and plain" as sights they might never see again. Led in person by Colonel Jackson, in a line which would have awakened the admiration of Old Hardee himself, the 9th, at a walk, advanced to victory—many of them, alas, to death. From a walk to a trot, from a trot to a gallop, the short distance of five hundred yards was soon traversed, and the Hoosier boys measured arms with the chivalry from Georgia, Alabama and Texas. Overwhelmed by the celerity and boldness of the movement, many of the enemy were sabered and captured before they had fairly entered into the spirit of the fight. Before the impetuous Jackson three men in gray fell in less time than it takes now to tell it. A little Sergeant from Company K, George Leslie, with no weapon but his sabre, took from their gun a Lieutenant and artilleryman.

To describe a real cavalry charge, however, where sabres are crossed and skulls are cleaved, as was the case at Franklin on the 17th inst., and do it justice, is impossible. One may tell how hundreds of well-drilled, well-mounted men, with clean blades, seen through the clear morning air, moving like machinery, is a sight not often seen, and a splendid embodiment or representation of power, and in the rush of a charge may liken it to the tornado, that must sweep the earth unless averted. This may be said, but a hundred instances of individual prowess must necessarily be overlooked. In fifteen minutes the field was won. Two stands of colors, two guns and 250 prisoners were the spoils of victory. The remainder of the enemy, in confusion, fled through Franklin, leaving it to be taken with near 2,000 of their wounded, without further fighting. This, with 400 men, for the other regiments, comprising the brigade, were not formed until the enemy had been driven across the river. Prisoners said the cavalry had never acted so before—that they were not even given time to fight, before they were whipped, and, even after surrendering, had difficulty in escaping the hoofs of the horses.

Rebel officers accounted for the desperate and determined fighting of our men, by saying they had been given whisky and gun-powder. The latter part of the statement was strictly true. A successful cavalry charge—the capture of stands of colors, guns and prisoners, is a new episode in the great rebellion. But the faithful historian in the annals of the heroes and heroic deeds of the war, and glowing tributes to the devotion of patriot soldiers, will find no theme more worthy the beauties of our Saxon tongue, than the charge of the 9th Indiana Cavalry at Franklin.


It has not been our purpose in these papers to make special mention of any officer. As an exception to the general plan, I have thought that a brief mention of Col. Jackson's name would give no offense and could not be regarded as an unfair discrimination. Holding, by virtue of his rank, the most conspicuous place, he is in the eyes of his old comrades the foremost mark for blame or praise. He went west soon after the conclusion of the war—since then but little has been known of him by members of the regiment. The latest information concerning him, in possession of the writer, dates back some years, at which time he was reported as living with his family upon a farm near New Salem, Kansas, in feeble health. If living now he would be accounted an elderly man. His military history, briefly stated in the army records, is as follows:

Mustered as Second Lieutenant, Company C, 34th Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry, September 21, 1861.

Mustered as First Lieutenant, same Company, April 14, 1862.

Mustered Captain May 12, 1862.

Resigned October 7, 1863; promoted Colonel 118th Regiment.

Mustered Colonel 121st Regiment (9th Cavalry), 1864.

Honorably discharged June 3, 1865.

The career disclosed by this brief recital, although but the skeleton of his gallant service in behalf of his country, is one of which his friends may well be proud, but to stop with it would not satisfy those who followed his leadership with confidence and recall his memory with affectionate regard.

Having been much in personal contact with him in camp, on the march, and in action, the writer may take a partial view of his character—but to-day, after the lapse of many years, recollecting his strong and weak points, and he had them both, I deem it only a just tribute to the "old Colonel," as the boys used to call him, to say that he was a brave soldier, an able and skillful officer, a faithful and generous friend.

He was unfortunate in a nervous organization, which sometimes affected his temper, compelling him to do and say things which he had occasion to regret and which unfitted him for camp life. In its monotony he grew restive and irritable, sometimes by too violent manifestations of his feelings, giving offense to brother officers without just cause—but mounted and at the head of the 9th, and fronting the enemy or leading the charge, he was always the alert, gallant and splendid leader.

The education he was possessed of, was of a solid character and was derived more from contact with men than from books. He did not affect learning, though he was intelligent and well informed on current affairs. Had he begun his career in the army with higher rank than a Lieutenancy, or with influential friends to have secured the prompter recognition of his merits, or earlier obtained opportunities for the display of his soldierly qualities, he would have won distinction in a war so fruitful of able Generals. As it is, his friends must be content with the knowledge that in the various posts assigned him he was faithful, capable and brave, and that those esteemed him most who knew him best.


No single event during the war so startled and shocked the North as that which has since been known as the "Sultana Disaster."

On the 23d day of April, 1865, the steamer Sultana left Vicksburg with a total of passengers and crew of 2,141 persons. Of this number thirty-five were Federal officers and 1,996 Federal soldiers, recently having been released from Catawba, Enterprise and Andersonville prisons. The remaining 110 were made up of the crew and passengers taken on board at points between New Orleans and Vicksburg.

The physical condition of these officers and soldiers is well known to those familiar with the treatment received by Federals in Southern prisons,—long confinement in stockades, without protection from heat or cold, or rain, without adequate food or clothing, deprived in sickness of medical aid and the commonest comforts. All were weak and many were absolutely helpless in the presence of danger.

The estimated capacity of the boat was 376 persons, besides the crew. The overloading of the boat made it necessary to make any disposition of the men practicable. They occupied all available room. They were stowed away wherever space was found to place them. The trip up the river to the place of the tragedy was made without the occurrence of any unusual incident. The last stop was at Memphis, at which place the boat took on coal. At about 3 o'clock on the morning of the 27th of April, 1865, when opposite Fogleman's Landing, some eight miles above Memphis, the steamer's boiler exploded. The vessel took fire immediately and was soon burned to the water's edge.

It were idle to attempt a description of the scene that followed that explosion. It was 3 o'clock in the morning. The water was very cold. Many passed from the sleep of life to the sleep of death without awakening. Others without warning found themselves rudely awakened by contact with the icy water of the Mississippi. They saw the fierce river lit up by the burning steamer; saw their comrades struggling with the waves, heard their appeals for help, without the power to respond. They fought bravely with the darkness and cold and flood for life, sometimes even to death for the possession of a log, or boat, or other float, that could bear but one, often cruelly, but naturally asserting Nature's first law, when its assertion meant death to a weaker brother. Yet such sad pictures were relieved by others of devotion and gallantry and sacrifice not surpassed in earthly trials. Some who were able to swim, notwithstanding the shock and chill of the waters, kept afloat for a time, and were successful in getting hold of floating planks and rails, and thus maintaining themselves until rescued. Many floated thus as far as Memphis before they were picked up, and though rescued from the water, died soon after from the scalding and burns received on the vessel, and from long exposure to the cold and from exhaustion. An instance is related of a mother, who clasping her babe in her arms, floated from the wreck to Memphis, where she was taken from the water. She lived, but the little one was dead.

The light from the burning vessel was seen, and the explosion heard for many miles. At a later hour these evidences of disaster would have brought greater numbers to the rescue. The time of the accident was unfavorable to prompt assistance. As it was, vessels of all descriptions, chiefly skiffs, put out promptly and rendered much assistance.

A soldier passenger on the boat relates that while in the water he saw a horse swim by him with a dozen men clinging to him; he says he saw a soldier attempting, with the aid of a plank, to save two little girls. A rope was thrown him, and in attempting to catch it, the children escaped from his exhausted arms. He seemed to lose all thought of the rope; he beat about wildly to regain his helpless charge, which were borne from him in darkness, but he was finally rescued nearly dead from exhaustion.

Of those who were rescued, 200 died in the hospital of Memphis alone. Near fourteen hundred were killed by the explosion or drowned. Those able to be removed were sent North to Cincinnati, Ohio, but those belonging to the Indiana regiments were stopped at Indianapolis, where they received such attention as thoughtful consideration could bestow.

We give the following extracts from Memphis papers appearing within a day or two of the disaster:


I belong to the 9th Indiana Cavalry. I had just gone to bed and fallen asleep, when all of a sudden I was awakened by some horrible noise. I sprang out of bed and found the cabin full of flame and the passengers all jumping overboard. The water for a while around was covered with people struggling for life. I never heard such terrible and mournful wailings. The glare of light showed a scene such as never before had been witnessed. I happened to find a log after swimming some distance. There was eight of us started on this log; before we reached the wood, however, four of them gave out and sank to rise no more. I had at first got hold of a shutter, but finding some one else who needed it worse than I did, I gave it up. I reached the wood on the log and got on to a tree. I was rescued from my uncomfortable position about daylight from the little island opposite Mr. Fogleman's house. We found one who had reached the wood, his name being Wm. Curtiss, of Company F, 1st Virginia Cavalry. He was almost in the agonies of death, and had clutched the limb to which he had caught, and could not be taken from his position until the limb was cut. Mr. Fogleman's house was opened to us, and we had every attention shown us that could be under the circumstances.


The officers and crew of the iron clad Essex deserve unstinted credit and praise for the part they took in picking up the passengers of the ill-fated steamer Sultana. Lieutenant James Perry, Ensign of the Essex, was awakened yesterday morning about 4 o'clock, and informed that the steamer Sultana had blown up, and was now burning; that the passengers were floating down the river and crying for help. The Lieutenant jumped up immediately, and was startled and horrified by the agonizing cries of the people in the river. He said, that never in all his life, did he hear anything so dreadful, and hopes it may never be his lot to hear such screams again. He immediately ordered the boats to be manned, which was done in very quick time. The morning was very dark. It was impossible to see twenty feet ahead, and they had nothing to guide them whatever but the shrieks and groans of the wounded and scalded men. The first man picked up was chilled through and through, being perfectly benumbed and unable to help himself. Lieutenant Berry, seeing the condition the man was in, very generously divested himself of his own coat and put it on him. The second man they took up died in a few moments after being taken aboard. The men who had Captain Parker's gig picked a woman up out of some drift. She was at that time just making her last struggle for life. About the time this woman was picked up a steamboat yawl came there and helped pick up some more who were clinging to the drift. Lieutenant Berry said it was impossible for him to give any description of the scene; he said it beggared all description; that there were no words adequate to convey to the mind the horror of that night. He continually heard the persons in the water cry out, "Oh, for God's sake save us, we cannot hold out any longer." The boats of the United States steamers Groesbeck and Tyler were on hand, and displayed great vigilance and zeal in picking up the drowning men. Lieutenant Berry, with the help of the crew, picked up over sixty men. Among those of the crew who deserve special notice, are John Tompson, the Captain's coxswain, who with gig, picked up twenty-six men; also John Hill and William Quinn displayed a heroism which deserves to be rewarded by promotion. In fact the whole crew acted in such a noble manner that too much cannot be credited to them for their noble endeavors to save the perishing multitude that was floating down the river, and while we compliment the men we would not be unmindful of the part Lieutenant Berry performed. He seemed to forget his rank, he

"Doffed his sparkling cloak,
And went to work with might and main,"

mingling as one of the crew in the magnanimous work of saving human life. With commendable forethought, Captain Parker sent ten boats out to explore the shore from Memphis to the place of the disaster. Up to half past three o'clock yesterday only five boats have returned. They had found a few dead bodies, but could not find any survivors along the shore. We think by this time that all except those who sank to rise no more, have been picked up; for all classes, both high and low, searched hard and diligently all day yesterday in hunting up the survivors of this calamitous disaster. Had the disaster occurred an hour or two later, Captain Parker feels assured that the naval force here could have saved several hundred lives instead of the sixty alluded to. Unfortunately the night was dark, and the boats were obliged to steer in the direction of the cries, being unable to see more than a few of those struggling in the water. William Young, gunner's mate on the United States iron clad Essex, distinguished himself by his courageous acts. Mr. Young rendered invaluable aid in rescuing from watery graves many of the sufferers by the Sultana's explosion. He is an old sailor, having been for thirty years an active seaman, twenty-three years of that time in the navy.

When the steamer Rose Hamilton was nearing the head of the little island opposite Mr. Fogleman's residence, she was hailed by a skiff belonging to some fishermen who came aboard, having discovered among the willows the body of a young lady, apparently about twenty years of age. She was of medium height, say about five feet five inches, with a fine head of long brown hair, blue eyes, and had a slight scar across the chin. She was dressed in the night attire of a respectable lady. She wore on her bosom a neat breast pin of plain jet set in gold. She was a very handsome lady, and had not been recognized at last accounts. Her body was taken on board the Rose Hamilton and as decently laid out as circumstances would permit. Unknown to those by whom she was thus cared for, when the sorrows and cares of life were all over, who she was, what home may be filled with mourning because she comes no more, are questions which cannot be answered, yet, whoever she may be, her friends could wish for no more tender care than strangers have bestowed, for many a manly eye grew moist as they gazed on the pale form in death.


After the explosion of her boilers, and the rapid spread of the flames, the burning mass of what had been the fine steamer Sultana, floated slowly down with the current until within a few hundred yards of Mr. Fogleman's residence, when it grounded on the Arkansas shore. We visited the wreck about 10 o'clock. It had sunk in twenty feet of water, and the jackstaff was standing up before the black mass, as though mutely mourning over the terrible scene, a silent witness of which it had been. The boat was almost entirely consumed. The charred remains of several human bodies were found, crisped and blackened by the fiery element. The scene was sad to contemplate, and those who witnessed it can never forget it. The Rose Hamilton, Pocahontas, Jenny Lind and Bostona were cruising around the place ever and anon picking up the breathless body of some unfortunate one, who "slept the sleep of death;" or some more fortunate, who had escaped a watery grave, though exhausted by a fearful night of agony and struggle for life.


I was awakened when the explosion took place, lying on the top of the wheel house. As soon as I discovered that the boat had exploded, I caught hold of the fender and slid down to the water and let myself in, having nothing on me at the time. I judge I must have swam about ten miles. The river was alive with people crying and calling for help in the greatest of agony. Just as I was coming down off the boat I saw two ladies who had thrown themselves into the water, they having nothing to keep them up, and sank, when I saw them no more. When the explosion took place it threw the cabin into the air, and it fell back upon the shell of the boat in one mass of ruins, crushing many of the passengers, who were thus caught and were undoubtedly burned to death. Very many caught hold of horses by their manes and tails, but whether they escaped or not I cannot tell, as I never heard of them afterwards.


I went to sleep about 2 o'clock and was awakened in about half an hour by hot water falling on my face and hands. I was not struck by anything nor scalded, but remained on the boat until the flames compelled me to leave. I then ran up on the cabin floor, snatched off a door and then made my way down to the lower deck and jumped into the river. By the light of the burning steamer I could see hundreds of the passengers in the water, all crying and wailing for help. I swam for about one mile and a half, and when I got to the island, just opposite Mr. Fogleman's, there I caught hold of the bushes. I saw three men drown while I was in the water. One of them had gained the trees and was holding to the limbs; a skiff was fast coming to his help, but being utterly exhausted he lost his hold and sank, when the skiff was about ten steps off. The other two had almost gained the bushes, but sank before they could reach the trees.

An event so appalling as this could not occur even at a time when the country was accustomed to hear of the deaths of great numbers of men, without action upon the part of the government looking to the investigation of its cause. A military committee and a committee upon the part of Congress were appointed for that purpose. Both committees, no doubt, discharged with fairness and ability the duty assigned them. There were many theories and rumors as to the cause. Rumor charged that the Post Quartermaster at Vicksburg, by a contract with the owners of the vessel, received a commission of $2.00 for each soldier passenger furnished, and for that consideration he had recklessly crowded the vessel beyond her capacity. It was also charged that the machinery was out of repair, and the vessel generally unseaworthy.

The investigation, however, disclosed the fact that before leaving Vicksburg her boilers had been repaired by competent mechanics; that the charge against the Quartermaster was untrue; that the disaster was not due to the fact that the vessel was carrying more than her estimated capacity. The writer has not been able to obtain the report made by either of the committees as to the true cause of the explosion.

Among the lost were men from every company of the 9th Cavalry. The following list may not be complete, but is believed to be correct so far as it goes:

Daniel Curtis, Co. A
Patrick Day, Co. A.
Frederick Blessinger, Corp., Co. B.
Charles E. Church, Co. B.
Ephraim B. Parman, Co. B.
John Steward, Co. B.
Warren A. Huckins, Co. C.
John M. Englehart, Co. C.
Edward Wood, Co. D.
Thomas Laboyteaux, Co. E.
John Bonner, Co. F.
Charles W. Clevenger, Co. G.
Jonathan R. Downing, Co. G.
George Downing, Co. G.
William H. Graves, Co. G.
William C. Hoover, Co. G.
Charles W. M. King, Co. G.
John N. Maynard, Co. G.
Enoch T. Nation, Co. G.
James C. Olom, Co. G.
Martin V. Rodepouch, Co. G.
John R. Reasoner, Co. G.
Nathan Thornburg, Co. G.
Franklin Ballenger, Co. H.
James Bell, Co. H.
Alonzo Dunham, Co. H.
George Delano, Co. H.
Josiah Pratt, Co. H.
John W. Shull, Co. H.
Hiram Bailey, Co. K.
John W. Emmons, Co. K.
George S. Fisher, Co. K.
Jacob Harold, Co. K.
Henry Newton, Co. K.
William F. Rea, Co. K.
Joseph Survant, Co. K.
George W. Shockley, Co. K.
Darius Stevens, Co. K.
Matthew Zix, Co. K.
James N. Christian, Co. L.
Robert A. Moorehouse, Co. L.
Leander McCarty, Co. L.
[5]Archibald Reed, Co. L.
John M. Armstrong, Corp., Co. M.
John D. Alexander, Co. M.
William Brigg, Co. M.
George W. Blake, Co. M.
Nathan E. Gruell, Co. M.
Enis Haloway, Co. M.
William H. Huffman, Co. M.
James M. Isentrager, Co. M.
Samuel King, Co. M.
Franklin Ridley, Co. M.
John M. Bragg, Co. M.

1.  Note A.—Of the affair at Wilson's Pike, December 1, 1864, Sergt. Holt, of Co. E, writes as follows:

D. W. C.

"At the fight on Wilson's Pike, December 1, 1861, Company E was detailed to check the advancing columns on that road. The company was stationed in a small yard behind a house. A line of skirmishers was thrown out consisting of the dismounted fourth man, placed in charge of a sergeant, with orders to fire once or twice and fall back to their horses. The advance was very rapid, the firing hot in the region of the company, and the men who had charge of the horses of the dismounted men were ordered to the rear. When our men came back from the skirmish line they were disappointed in not finding their horses, and were all captured, consisting of nearly twenty-six men of Company E, who were taken to Cahaba, Alabama, prison. Only about half of them lived through the five months they were kept there. Capt. Hobson was left in charge of the rear. He was ordered off the field twice by orderlies from Gen. Hammond, but failing to obey the order Gen. Hammond came himself and took the command off. The rebels were so close to us that I think I would almost know the color-bearer if I were to see him to-day. Before we left the yard, or just as we were leaving, Sergt. Helvie, who was sitting at the roots of a sugar tree, called to me to take his gun, a Henry rifle. I did so, and was so much excited that I only got two loads off out of the fifteen it contained. I believe Sergt. Helvie was the only man wounded in the engagement, although we stayed upon the field until the right and left wings of the rebel advance were considerably ahead of us, and I pointed the fact out to Capt. Hobson, but it didn't seem to affect him."

2.  It was said that Company F sold this mule in New Orleans several times. The plan was—as the story was told—to have one of the boys, in citizen's clothes, sell the animal, and before it could be got away a squad would come up and arrest the party for having United States property in possession, compromising for a greater or less amount, take the mule and release the purchaser. This was said to have been repeated a number of times. At last the mule was hid and could not be found, but not before a sum had been raised sufficient to put Company F in funds.

3.  Lieut. Thomas J. Cofer, Co. I.

4.  Accounts of the deaths of Capt. Hobson and Lieut. Watts are conflicting. Capt. Hayden states that Capt. Hobson was killed right at the fort. The account of Sergt. Holt, Co. E, of the same incident, is subjoined. Sergt. Holt's candor in relating his experiences is refreshing and worthy of all praise. Most of us, in relating army experiences, are apt to forget or omit our fears and remember only what was heroic. There was in the regiment but one opinion concerning Capt. Hobson, and that was that he was a brave and capable officer. Martin Gregg, Co. I, states that he was with Lieut. Watts when shot; that he was killed by the captain of the battery, who also fired at him.

D. W. C.

"Company E was the left wing, Capt. Hobson commanding the main column. Advancing on the pike, our company went to the left or rear of a small works on the pike. After we had climbed a little hill, our company had scattered considerably, the firing being close above us with grape. We formed under cover of the ravine, and then advanced down the railroad. Capt. Hobson was leading the company; and Sergeant Grose and myself were (I probably ought not to say so) in the rear. I thought I took in the situation and asked him how he liked the place we were going into. He said he didn't like it much, but he guessed we would have to go. We charged down the railroad until we got to the wagon road, then went under the railroad, the grade being so high as to permit us to go under. Capt. Hobson didn't seem to realize the situation until he was confronted on the other side by the retreating rebel column. He halted and turned round immediately on the retreat, and was shot just as he came under the railroad, falling almost against the stone abutment. His riderless horse came galloping past me as I turned to retreat....

"An incident in connection with Capt. Hobson's death has always impressed me. During the morning Capt. Hobson and Lieut. Burroughs were riding together, and in their conversation Lieut. Burroughs said: 'I would rather lose my right arm than go into a fight.' Capt. Hobson replied, 'The rebel bullet is not molded that will kill me.' With these remarks hardly cold from their lips they went into the fight and were both killed within at least a few minutes of each other.

"While Capt. Hobson many times seemed rough in his remarks, his actions would show that he was tender in feelings. With a confidence that no harm can come to him, a man can go forth and fight with dashing courage, although danger surrounds him; but with the thought that as certain as he goes into battle, he will be the first to fall, requires a stout heart, and is offering his life upon the altar of his country. I never felt that I would be injured in battle, but I have several times wished that some one else would run, so that I might have some excuse to run myself. It took a braver man to make the break and run when every one was standing in line of battle than it did to stand and fight."

5.  Lost by the explosion of the steamer George Fierce, below Vicksburg.

Transcriber's Notes:

Archaic and uneducated spelling and grammar has been retained.

Footnotes have been collected at the end of the text, and are linked for ease of reference.

Missing or obscured punctuation was corrected.

Typographical errors were silently corrected.