Hanover students from various history classes have worked on the
Monfort Papers. We have attempted to transcribe the letters faithfully,
including odd spellings, punctuation, and syntax. When
appropriate, we have supplied guesses or explanations in square brackets
[like so], only occasionally supplying a period or line break when we
thought that was what the author intended.
The classes contributing transcriptions include GW143/144
"Autobiography: History" (Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Fall 2014, and Winter
2015), His165 "The Family and the Modern West" (Fall 2015), and His167
"Speaking of American History" (Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Fall 2018,
and Winter 2019), all taught by Sarah McNair Vosmeier, as well as
His225 "Midwest History" (Fall 2016 and Fall 2017) taught by Matthew N.
For more on the people, places, and events discussed in the letters, see the Guide to the Monfort Letters or the Finding Aid from the Duggan Library Archives. Page images of the letters are also available.
Letters Transcribed Below:
| 1862, Oct. 24
- Ethan Brown to Kate Taylor
||despairs of having all the "Glorious United States" united
again; appreciates her letters
| 1862, Oct. 29 - George Perkins to Emma
|| announces death of Ethan Brown
| 1862, Nov. 16 - George Perkins to
|| announces death of Columbus Metcalf
|1862, Dec. - [S.T.] Brooks to Gordon Taylor||wants to restore interrupted friendships, mourns deaths of their
|1862, Dec. 14 - Gordon Taylor to Emma Taylor (his sister)||describes his first day as aide to Gen. Gordon Granger, engages
a "darkey guard" for his horse
|1862, Dec. 22 - Gordon Taylor to Emma Taylor (his sister)||encloses letter from Sam Brooks and describes social life with
|1863, Jan. 14 - Gordon Taylor to Emma Taylor (his sister)||reports the army will be moving from Kentucky to Tennessee,
plans to write journal-style letters
|1863, Jan. 24 - Emma Taylor to Gordon Taylor (her brother)||sends news of friends and fashion
|1863, Feb. 4 - Gordon Taylor to Emma Taylor (his sister)||anticipates an attack on Fort Donelson, and gets "my Contraband"
out of jail
|1863, Feb. 9 - Gordon Taylor to Emma Taylor (his sister)||complains about Sam Brooks; mentions three friends in Libby
|1863, Feb. 24 - Gordon Taylor to Emma Taylor (his sister)||journal-style letter, describing Nashville's State Capitol
building and his anger with his servant
|1863, Mar. 12 - Gordon Taylor to Emma Taylor (his sister)||long journal-style letter, describing cold, deaths of friends,
meeting Generals Baird and Sheridan
|1863, Apr. 15 - Gordon Taylor to Emma Taylor (his sister)||long journal-style letter, describing the first Battle of
Franklin, meeting rebels during truce
|1863, May 10 - Gordon Taylor to his mother||complains about political interference, reports on rumors|
|1863, June 9 - Gordon Taylor to Kate Taylor (his sister)||long journal-style letter, describing setting up camp in Triune,
|1863, Jun. 17 - Gordon Taylor to Emma Taylor (his sister)||journal-style letter, criticizing Copperheads, reporting on
his first time under fire
|1863, Jul. 12 - Gordon Taylor to Kate Taylor (his sister)||recovered from illness (having avoided hospital), sleeps with
fifty rats in his room
|1863, Sept. 28 - Gordon Taylor to Kate Taylor (his sister)||long journal-style letter, describing rebel atrocities and the
Battle of Chickamauga
|1863, Oct. 10 - Gordon Taylor to Emma Taylor (his sister)||journal-style letter, describing a week of waiting; reading Dickens|
|1863, Oct. 20 - Gordon Taylor to Pa||discusses politics and reorganization of army under Gen. Grant
|1863, Oct. 25 - Gordon Taylor to Ma||under seige at Chattanooga; "getting desperate" but hopeful supplies will come soon|
|1863, Oct. 31 - Gordon Taylor to Emma Taylor (his sister)||describes the "charge of the mule brigade," reading Dickens,
encloses list of dead and wounded
|1863, Nov. 8 - Gordon Taylor to Emma Taylor? (his sister)||letter fragment, describes finding another Dickens novel
|1863, Nov. 24 - Gordon Taylor to Emma Taylor (his sister)||too sick to see much of the Battle of Chattanooga, will soon be
25 years old
|1863, Nov. 28 - Gordon Taylor to Kate Taylor (his sister)||the Battle of Chattanooga included "hand to hand struggle for life" and a "living tide of heroes"|
|1863, Dec. 4 - Gordon Taylor to Emma Taylor (his sister)||reports Gen. Grant's generous praise of Gen. Granger's Fourth
Corps; visits wounded
|1864, Jun. 26 - Gordon Taylor to Emma Taylor (his sister)||writing from Washington, D.C., "the slowest, dirtiest dullest, place I ever was in"|
|1864, Jul. 11 - Gordon Taylor to Emma Taylor (his sister)||journal-style letter, describing travel through Illinois and
|1864, Jul. 21 - Gordon Taylor to Ma||in New Orleans with "nothing to do save to amuse ourselves";
reports that he has resigned
|1864, Aug. 6 - Gordon Taylor to Kate Taylor (his sister)||journal-style letter, describing Battle of Mobile Bay and the
sinking of the Tecumseh
|1864, Aug. 8 - Gordon Taylor to Ma||journal-style letter, describing the aftermath of the Battle of
|1866, Apr. 29 - George Perkins to Emma Taylor||says he is "afraid I shall go Crazy," with neither purpose nor
religion, and asks for support
Ethan Brown, letter to Kate, 24
Oct. 1861, folder 2, box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan
Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).
Transcription by Brayden Smallwood, HC 2021.
(Skip to the next
letter or return to the contents list.)
Camp Read House Va
October 24th, AD 1861
My Friend Miss Kate,
Your kind letter of the 12th inst was
received in due time and the contents thereof afforded me much pleasure.
Yes it almost made me homesick; don't you know that it is very unkind to
write to me about the "peace & comforts of Home"? But you did not
intend wrong nor do I mean to say that you did any, but you made me kind
o' think of that long deserted place. We have moved our camp thirty
miles down the Miss since I wrote to your sister Emma
and to find a smaller & more comfortable camp. There are no
other soldiers here now but our Regt. And that fact contributes
some to the Comfort of the Camp, for in this business the old Adage "the
more the merrier" will not apply. Soldiers of different Regiments will
quarrell and that causes trouble.
There is some talk now of our spending the winter at this point. Should we be ordered to do that, we will have a nice time freezing & starving alternately night and day. About three weeks since when we were on our march to [Chapmberville?] I met a man at [Payton's?] who told me that the River very seldom is ever froze over at that place in winter but I have since concluded that that man either knew nothing about it or wanted to deceive me for it is cold enoug now to convince me that before one month we will have hard freezing weather ie judging from the way things go "down in America."
I have been unwell for the past week not dangerously but sick enough to confine me to my quarters I am happy to find my self much better tonight, though. Soldiering agrees with me pretty well; of course we are compelled to endure somethings that are not "so pleasant" but they afford a good topic for conversation. when [over?] & also put us in a condition to enjoy comforts the more when we find them.
I received a letter from Chas the other day he tells me that he thinks seriously of going into the service himself I am in some accounts sorry to hear that but still, I know he can do service and I think it is the duty of every man that possibly can to enter in and settle up this business with Jeff & & his followers, though I have long since despaired of ever again seeing the Glorious United States as I have seen them under one government. We may vanquish them in every battle for three years and yet if seven of the states persist in refusing to unite with our government we will not be able to force them in. A rebellion of one or even two states might be suppressed but our rebellion has now assumed too massive a form to be manageable. You inquire about our chaplain. We are supposed to have one. At least I have been introduced to a man who was called Chaplain but have never yet seen or heard of his officiating as such in this Regiment, he has been absent in [Ciniti?] for the past two weeks. Our Captain is also in Cincinnati at present, expect he will be absent about two weeks. When he returns maybe I'll get a chance to go down to America. I have the whole charge of our Company now and a heavy one it is, for we have about the worst company in the Rgt and for the past three days they have been unusually bad that is made bad by some brandy that was captured the other day by a scouting party. Soldiers seem to throw off all restraint and those who at home would not touch liquor will here get drunk at every opportunity -- & consequently be disgraced by being sent to the guard house. -- I have two such cases on hands for tomorrow. One a Corporal he will have his office taken from him & the other forty-eight-hours on bread & water. You may be sure it is no pleasant task to see men who I think as much of as I do of our soldiers treated this way -- but we must have discipline & to have it must resort to such means at the above. Why don't [Gureton?] write to me? he needn't wait for me. Write good long letters -- you can't imagine how much good it does me to get a letter now days. Excuse this letter it's pretty cold & I'm writing with my gloves on. These canvas houses are not as warm as some other kinds that I have seen.
Give all the news you write and remember me
to my friends & oblige Your friend
Ethan A. Brown
George Perkins, letter to Emma A.
Taylor, 29 Oct. 1862, folder 4 box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection,
Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).
Transcription by Brye Meyer, HC 2022.
[Stationery marked "Treasury Department, Third Auditor's Office"]
Washington D.C. 12 1862
My dear friend–
I have come to the deliberate opinion that it
is time for one of us to write and as I have waited in vain to receive a
letter from you I propose to open the ball myself. The fact is Gordon I
have been postponing a letter to you for many weeks but each
postponement has seemed to block my purpose more and more and lest said
letter should not be written at all, I have determined to spare you this
infliction no longer. I regret to hear you have been suffering of late
from an injury induced by a fall from your horse—this occurrence is
specially unfortunate at this time when as I understand you have the
refusal of a position as Captain on Gen'l Granger's
staff. But be in good cheer my friend—it might have been worse—you might
have lost a limb or broken one—and it is quite possible though you
cannot at this time realize the glories of a Captain, you may recover to
find yourself a general [two stars drawn in text]. Stranger things have
happened, and I may instance the appointment of Fred . Moore, Colonel.
Congress again convened and the members prepared to rush matters during the short probation that remains to so many of the Republicans. It seems to be understood that liberal appropriations will be made to cover the remainder of President Lincolns Administration – Are snubbing the Vallandighams & Coxs daily and have inaugurated their session in fine style. -- Porter - Court Martial & McDowell – Court of Inquiry in full progress. Prospects are that McD. will clear his skirts of many serious charges damaging to his reputation. Case of Porter doubtful – chances against him, though he has splendid Council. Reverdy Johnson being one of them. Many facts coming to light which may throw the responsibility of the disasters in Virginia and Penninsular campaigns on very different shoulders from those now made to bear them.
Gordon since we last saw each other a great calamity has befallen us. Ethan Brown is dead. No event of this attrocioius rebellion has occasioned me to great sadness of heart as the fate of my much esteemed and much loved friend. I know Ethan was the bravest of the brave – that in any bold and dangerous exploit of his regiment his services would be in requisition, and that the fearless young patriot would march to the cannon's mouth if duty required it. I feared his intrepid spirit would sacrifice him one of the first victims of the war. Great was my joy and gratitude when I heard of his valient deeds and manly bearing in battle and that he came out unharmed. And when the tidings came at last that he was wounded the gratifying assurance was given that his recovery would be certain and speedy.
But my first forebodings were at last to be realized. The unwelcome intelligence came my friend was dead; his wound had proved fatal. I was wholly unprepared for it. I had not expected to lose my friend so soon. But it was the decree of Heaven and we can not bring him back to us. Any panegyric from me would be entirely superfluous. Ethan made few enemies and drew around him hosts of friends. Kind genial open-hearted and generous to a fault – forbearing and liberal-minded in dealing with the weakness of a friend or the meanness of an enemy – the perfect Gentleman in all his intercourse with others. Ethan commanded universal respect and esteem: and with such high and uncommon attributes of character, I may safely say there were none admitted to the privilege of his friendship but that loved him. Ethan is dead. I mourn his loss deeply, as I have sorrowed for none since the death of our lamented young friend Marshall [Crapsey?]. They were two of the best friends I ever had or expect to have in this world, this world of cold indifference and selfishness, when the great multitude of our fellows are constantly striving to overreach and destroy each other and so few are champions of truth justice and charity.
Our friend Metcalf too is another victim of this Hell-born treason of the South. Never so intimate in my relations with Metcalf I esteemed him very highly and was very sad to learn that he too had received his death wound while nobly defending his country. Gordon our friends have gone forever, but we have the consulation though it may not diminishour grief, that both died for the cause of truth and justice – died the "bravest of the brave" among heroic legions of defenders of their country. God grant a rich and abundant reward may be theirs in the Spirit World. But I have not tried to say all I would – and yet my letter is very long, for which I ask your indulgence
Write me soon as your convenience will permit – my delay has been from no forgetfulness of you or wrong intent.
Give my kindest regards to all the members of your family – this time include Emma – it is time the affair between the Philo & Hespinian Societies which interrupted our friendship should be forgotten. At least this is my opinion and I hope it is hers.
As ever, Your friend truly
[S. T.?] Brooks
J. Gordon Taylor, letter to Emma Taylor, 14 Dec. 1862, Folder 5, Box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Letters, Duggan Library, Hanover College, Hanover, Indiana.
Joseph Gordon Taylor, letter to Emma A. Taylor, 22 Dec. 1862, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).
A. Taylor, letter to Joseph Gordon Taylor, 24 Jan. 1863 Folder
1, Box 7, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan Library, Hanover
College (Hanover, Ind.).
Transcription and research by Andrew Howard, HC 2018
Glendale F. C.
Jan. 24th 1863
My Dearest Gordon,
If you only knew how severe has been the disappointment to me, in not being able to send your box to you. I shall never cease to regret that I did not insist on sending it during the Holidays when I was at home. But we did not hear from you and Pa was so strongly opposed to try sending it for fear it would pass you on your way home. I would much rather it had happened so than have it happen as it has. But "what cannont be cured must be endured" however bitter the pill. And I will insist on having my own way next time. Today has been so warm and Spring like and the snow which has afforded So much pleasure to the fortunate ones is fast disappearing. Last Wednesday evening I had a splendid sleigh ride and yesterday morning I was out from eight o clock till twelve. But today the sleighing is gone and such a "sea of mud" and slush as we have. Fortunately we are but any of us obliged to go out at all. So we could enjoy the beautiful Spring like day without knowing anything about the mud. Yesterday morning when we went out sleighing we rode out to a farm house where the people live in real country style. And they treated us to apples, cake and hard cider. We spent an hour very pleasantly and started home in excellent spirits, the effects somewhat of the cider. I spent the remainder of the day with Carrie Yeatsman. She is a real [smart?] girl and has a mighty nice little brother Dick who favors me occasionally with a smile?]. Mrs. Yeatsman is a sister of Genl. [Armnon's?]. I had such a delightful time that I really dreaded my retur to the College last evening. Such little innovations are so pleasant in a teachers life. We are to have a grand wedding in Glendale Tuesday Evening. The young lady has been waiting some time for her lover to come. the day was set for last October and he could not get a furlough and has just now succeeded and that because his Reg. has re-enlisted. He is a Capt. In the 4th O.V.C. Capt. [Yeetors?]. did you ever hear such a horrid name. I expect it will be a very brilliant affair. Tot McLean is to be one of the bridesmaids. I must tell you an item of news which I suppose will be hailed with joy by all the gentleman who have so long been martyrs and had their lives endangered. Hoops are going out of fashion and some of the ladies are discarding them altogether. Mine are scarcely visible and I dread the time when I will have to give them up. What a beautiful looking [enalums?] we will all be. Dressed up beanpoles. They will soon be trying to crowd fort into the omnibuses that before held twenty. G dear I think we are the martyrs. I have had a good long letter from Call but I guess I told you of that in my last letter. I have lately received Gerdie Lyons picture. She has chaged but little. Her face has a careworn sad expression, but she looks very much like the Gerdie of old. I wish you could see it. A note from Capt. Lee [Gargan?] says he will pay us a visit next week. He is a Capt. That manages to come home quite frequently I think. His [Emile?] is up here [next?] – Lee says he brought him up with him. I do not think it is fair that some should be coming home every few months while others never have a furlough. It was one year last Tuesday night since you were here and spent the last Evening with us before you were ordered South. I never thought so long a time would pass before you returned. I do so dread this opening campaign.
I know it will be fearful and I almost wish you would resign and come home. It seems as though I had endured your absence just as long as it is possible. Kate has just come in and says for me to tell you that if it had been possible [she?] [strikeout: should] would have floated that box down with [theres?]. Enough [tears shed?] I guess. Poor Lucy [Derm?] has been summoned home she was [strikeout: sent] in hopes she would reach them in time, but her little brother died a few hours before she arrived. He had dyphoid fever. I must try and write her a few words of consolation tonight. She knows she has my heartfelt sympathies. How I wish I knew where you are tonight, whether you have started for Knoxville. It seems to me almost the last of creation for you to go there. I shall send this letter to K. and if it gets there before you do well and good. I have not the slightest idea how you get to the place. Do you have to go by water. Did you ever receive the Diary we sent you if not let me know and I will try again. Will Hodgens has gone into business for himself. It is now "Richardson & Hodgins." He sent me his card yesterday. The money you spoke of Col. Thompson's giving to Will has not been received. Will has heard nothing of it. What did you mean was Col. T to leave the City. If so I would like to hunt the gentleman up and have him convey some things to you for me when he returns. We are very much afraid that we are going to lose Dr. Robbins. He is talking of leaving here and going to Covington. I do not know what the Glendale people will do without him. And we College folks are in a desperate fix. Mrs. Ackley our Principal told him she wanted a peck of pills a bushel of Dones powders and perscriptions for every kind of disease before he left, as she will be the only one to administer to the ills of the girls. We shall miss him for his house has been a kind of second home to us. We go there whenever we feel inclined and do not have to put on our bonnet and best bib and tucker either. Lizzie Ballantine is here on a visit do you remember her how she called you "Mr. Gordon" when she was introduced. I will now bid you good night and finish this tomorrow.
Monday noon – I have but a few minutes for a dear good letter was received this morning. I received a note from Dot and if nothing happens shall go to Piqua next Friday evening to stay until Monday so your list of the Staff came just in time. We are both well and all send much love. I am so sorry you are going to Knoxville, but we will hope that it is all for the best. Write very soon and believe me as ever your aff
Gordon Taylor, letter to Emma A. Taylor, 4 Feb. 1863, folder 7, box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).
J. Gordon Taylor, partial letter to Emma A.Taylor, 9 Feb. 1863, folder 7, box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).
is any truth in the report I cannot tell, but it is very possible as the
river is very narrow and for a great part of the distance entirely
unprotected by our troops. A wagon train belonging to the 4th Corps sent up
week before last was attacked by the rebel Gen. Wheeler who however got the
worst of it, as he was routed with the loss on his part of 131 prisoners and
a number of killed and wounded. Tell Em I wrote to "Perkins" as soon as I
received her letter and some of these days I will write to Sam Brooks. Much
as I like him I do not feel under many obligations to write to him as he is
so very careless about answering. Situated as he is a Washington where he
has apportunities to hear all that is going on, his letters might be and
always are very interesting but they come so seldom let his correspondents
be ever so prompt, that he has no right to complain. I mean to write to "
White and Sudlow" in a few days and shall send the letters to you to forward
as I believe they require ten cents in silver to pay rebel postage with
which I cannot get down here. Enclosed I send you some rebel stamps I took
from old Envelopes which I found in a "cabinet" in our house here. How did
Prest [President] Tuckerman learn that White was in Libby. I know Sudlow and
Gilbert Strong were there but I have never been able to learn anything
concerning White until your letter came. When you see Prest T. again
remember me to him and also to Prof. Klund. Remember me too to all my
friends, Annie, Sallie, Maggie and others not forgetting Dr. and Mrs.
Robbins. Give my love to Em, and tell her when Helen kissed her in the neck
for me I think she should have received it more graciously. Just wait until
I come home and I'll make up for lost time. We have no news from the
General. He has either forgotten us or has such confidence in our abilities
that he is perfectly willing to trust us alone. I have signed his name so
often of late I almost consider myself a Maj. Gen. But goodbye. Give my love
to all and take a good share for yourself.
J. Gordon Taylor, letter to Emma A.
Taylor, 24 Feb. 1863, folder 7, box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection,
Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).
Transcription and research by Brandi Buchanan, HC 2018, and Falyn Moncrief, HC 2018 (and smv)
Herewith I present for your careful perusal the second installment of my interesting journal. I have now been a week in this place and my first impressions have undergone no change by the sojourn. The one thing lacking now is something to do, as loafing here is intolerable. I do not complain at all, however as my condition might be much worse. I am well housed and well fed and wish all of our poor soldiers could enjoy the same comforts. Have received three letters this week, two from you dated the 8th & 15th of Feby. and one from Kate and Lettie, also of the 15th but I ought not to tell it twice as it comes in, in the record of events.
Tuesday, Feby. 17th, 1863. It has been a dark drizzly day, hence I have been out but little. Went this afternoon to the Camp of the troops under Gen. G's command which is about three miles from town. The road was a perfect sea of mud and I was covered from head to foot, almost literally buried in the "sacred soil of Tennessee." Found the troops camped on very good ground, on a good hard sod, rolling so that the water does not stand as it would on level ground and thus they escape a great deal of mud. Every available point on our way out was strongly fortified. A fence is now a curiosity everything burnable having been confiscated. Where once were beautiful groves are now unsightly stumps and the houses that were sheltered by their shade look the very picture of desolation. It has once been a beautiful country round about Nashville but the penalties of rebellion have fallen heavily upon the land and its glory has departed. Visited the Capitol. It is a beautiful building built of the Tennessee marble and standing upon a high hill -- "Capitol Hill" -- in the center of the city, is visible for miles around. In its solid walls are buried the remains of the Architect "Wm [William] Strickland" and a noble monument it is. Little did he dream the day would come when traitor hands would use their utmost endeavors to undo his work. At present it forms an almost impregnable fort. Cannon are planted on very side of it, earthworms surround it, log stockades add to its strength and the marble halls echo to the Jests of soldiers, the ring of the musket, and the clanking of sabres. When will the nations of the earth learn war no more.
Wednesday, Feby. 18th. It has rained all day and the way my time has been spent may briefly be expressed thus, "Sleeping I dreamed" etc. &c." I had the blues most decidedly but did'nt feel very bad after all. Concluded after waking, that as I could not stop the rain the best way was to let it fall. Went to bed and dreamed I saw dry land and in my exultations over the sight thereof I awoke. It was'nt dry at all for it was raining harder than ever.
Thursday, Feby. 19th. Received a letter from Em. today. Took it very coolly. If anyone had met me on the street they never would have guessed I'd got a letter. The street was too muddy to get down and roll in, so I just put it in my pocket -- the letter, you know -- not the street --. It hasn't rained today though I know it wanted to. Nothing but that letter stopped it. Took dinner with Lieut. Richards and had a sociable time. He was in the same Reg. [regiment] and Co. [company] with Henry Ast, but did not think much of him. Says the "Lord" gets sick too easy when there is any work to do. Met a brother of Andy Bloom who belongs to the 2d Ky. [Kentucky] Reg. Now Em, now's your time to get the second edition revised and -- I was going to say improved but think I'll leave that out. Saw Jim and Bob Morgan also and had a chat with them. Acquaintances begin to turn up. Met Mr Clark one of my "Camp Monroe" associates who, growing tired of Capt. Hearbt, has procured the suttership of the 1st Tenn. Cav. Mr Eshelby is near town too and I shall call on him soon. Heard of an old College Hill student in the Q. M. Dept. and when every other resource fails shall go down and bore him a while.
Friday, Feby 20th. Sun shone all day. Went out to Camp and took dinner and a bad cold. The Camp looked like a country town in house cleaning time, with its rows of blankets, comforts, cots and mattrasses hung out to air. The tents are very comfortable, all having stoves in them. Received another letter from Em. today but as it was a week older than the one which came yesterday, did not brag of it. It was, however, none the less welcome. It had been to Murfreesboro, to make a visit to Brig. Gen. R.S. Granger, which was the cause of its being so behind time.
Saturday, Feby 21st. As there has been a long dry spell, it rained today for variety. As the floods poured down the streets I could not but think how fortunate it is that Capitol Hill is so near. I would answer very well the purpose for which the tower of Babel was originally intended. Lieut. Beaham came in this afternoon and told me my "nig" had foundered my horse. What with the rain and dull times, this last item had nearly been the "last point that broke the Camel's back". It was well for the darkey that he was where I could not reach him or I'd have singed his head so that he would have been in the condition of the "Uncle Ned" we sing of. Have been half sick today too and of course do'n't feel a bit cross, oh! no.
Sunday Feby 22nd. Stayed in my room all day, as I did not feel well. Do not want to be sick and will not if I can in any way prevent it. By taking care of myself today, hope to be well tomorrow.
Monday, Feby 23rd. Better this morning. The
Citizens had a grand celebration today and I went up to the Capitol to
hear the speeches, but the crowd was so great I could not get in.
Having failed in that got a horse and went out to camp. Was a first
rate horse but when I ride him again shall have my neck insured before
starting. He has a habit of Kneeling which I'm sure he never learned
in this part of the country, since no one can accuse the inhabitants of
such a habit. Called on Mr Eschelby on my return. Found him
Jolly as every, perched on a barrell, behind a board, two kegs, three
barrells, seven boxes, one stove and a pile of wood, while behind him were
articles too numerous to mention. He reminded me [struck out: of the
boast] of Alex. Selkirk,
"I'm monarch of all I survey,
My right there is none to dispute".
And the appellation of "Judge" given him by the soldiers seemed to give him a right to the claims set forth above. He is just the kind of a man to take well with the soldiers and I guess they "hitch" -- that's a quotation from you -- very well. Got home after dark, in a first rate humor, and took a cup of coffee with Lt. Richards, and then called on Jim Morgan. We are messing with Lt. Richards now. By the way, what an appropriate word that is, for a set of men keeping house together. "Mess." The very name is suggestive of the reality. You know somewhere in the Rhetoric it recommends - or does not recommend - which is it? - to make the sound the echo of the sense, and here you have it
[In block letters:] Finis.
Now you have the second chapter before you. If it suits you, it does not me and I have this to say, if the next is not an improvement, I'll raise a tombstone over my Journal. I am well again and so is Pa and we both send our love: Remember me to, Anna, Dot, Sallie and all other inquiring friends but when you do so, just put this "Miss" where it ought to be. If I ever have a chance I will become better acquainted with Capt. Yaryan & Lieut. Castleman - is that his name - and will whisper to you in all charity - what I see of them. No General yet. Don't care if he stays away a month. We Know he's safe as Capt. Russell will see that he does not get into difficulty. And now good bye. I sent Kate a paper this morning. After a letter eleven days long I think she might send me a letter by herself - and then you Know there'd have been more room for "Lettie" - Give her my love. She and Lettie [crossed out, "my"] may decide for whome the love is intended. Kind of mixed up but it will give them something to do you know.
Truly yours fraternally in the bonds of a never dying affection
J. Gordon Taylor, letter to
Emma Taylor, 12 March 1863, folder 7, box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort
Collection, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).
Transcription and research by Cheyann Fletcher, HC 2018, and Darien Miller, HC 2018 (and smv)
Franklin, Tenn. Mch 12th, 1863
Yours of the 2d was received this evening and I suppose had been waiting for me a day or two. Since I last wrote we have as the heading of my letter shows, changed our Head Quarters, how and why you will learn as my journal progresses.
Tuesday, Mch 3d 1863, Spent most of the day in letter writing as it has been cold and cloudy out of doors. Has been threatening to snow and the wind whistles round the corners and through the crevices, sighing and shrieking as none but March wind can. The sea of mud is fast disappearing although so short a time has elapsed since we had rain in torrents, and the dust already begins to fill your eyes and ears whenever you venture out. Found Uncle William this evening and had a long chat. How good it is to meet old familiar faces when so far from home.
Wednesday, Mch 4th. A cold blustering morning with a flurry of snow after which the sun came out brightly but with little effect upon the temperature. Found a letter from Ma waiting for me at the office, the first I have received from her since I came here. Met Charlie Ast on the street and learned that Nellie and Henry were at the St. Cloud, so I made a call without any delay. Henry seemed glad to see me and we had a good long talk over old times. From him I heard of several of the old College boys. Capt. Key who I think was in "Metcalf's" class, died a few weeks ago of typhoid fever. Lieut. Ludlow is at Murfreesboro well and hearty. "Braden" is also at M. He is Lieut. in the same Co and Reg. to which "Key" belonged- 105th-O.V.I. - "Hickman" was killed not long ago. He belonged to the 8' Ky. Cav." Farmers' College has done well for the country in war matters whatever she may have done in a literary line. Nellie Ast spoke to me very pleasantly, the first time she has condescended to notice me for several years. However here one forgets old differences and the sight of a familiar face is enough to make friends. They are going to Murfreesboro tomorrow. Henry is Acting Adjutant on Col. Miller's staff.
Thursday Mch. 5th Pa went to Bowling Green this morning leaving me alone. The Gen. returned from M. last evening and today has taken possession of a magnificent house to be used as his head quarters. Of course that suits me as well as anything and I anticipate a stay in this delectable town of a month or six weeks longer. Have been round to the house which the men are cleaning up, and like it very much. It is much finer and convenient than the one we occupied in Lexington. Have missed Pa a good deal today. He went out to look after some mules that were on a train [burnt?] last week.
Friday Mch. 6th. Called at the hotel this morning to see the Gen. and found to my surprise that he had gone to Franklin, taking all of his staff with him, save Capt. Russell & myself. Our forces then were attacked yesterday and nearly 2,000 taken prisoners, and the Gen. has gone to see what he can do retrieve our loss. Have been at the hotel all day waiting for dispatches from the Gen. About three o'clock Lt. Beaham came up with orders for us to join the Gen. tomorrow, bag and baggage, so our nice housekeeping arrangement is all upset. It has rained steadily all day preparing the men for our march tomorrow. Can go by the cars if I choose but prefer going by pike. May have to retreat and it will be a good thing to know the country beforehand. Had a letter from "[Tom?]" today, good as her letters always are. Sent all my "traps" out to Camp this evening so that I may not be delayed when starting time comes.
Saturday Mch. 7th. My orderly who brought my horse in this morning told me we could not move on account of the rain. There is a creek about five miles from here which has risen to be impassable with our baggage train. Came out to Camp where I now am, the rain pattering upon the roof of my canvass house threatening to keep up here still another day. Spent most of the day in town helping Capt Russell who goes on the cars at five in the morning. Pa felt very bad about my leaving and I too was sorry that I had to go. How lonesome he will be now, more so than before I came. Wrote to Ma yesterday telling her of our intended move.
Sunday. Mch 8th. Of all the Sundays which have been ignored since I have been in the service of Uncle Sam, this has appeared the least like "the day of rest." I have been utterly unable to realize that there was any such day. We rose early and started off on our first or rather my first march about nine o'clock. There was a good pike all the way with a beautiful country through which to travel, and the day at first so unpromising turned out very Spring like. We found the creek that caused our delay yesterday very high, but with skillful driving, much beating of the poor mules and more swearing from the men we succeeded in crossing without accident. Reached Franklin at four o'clock and immediately pitched our tents in the yard of a Mr Roselle, a rebel of course, who plead hard to be exempt but to no purpose. Lt Beaham who is the manager in such affairs was inexorable. Found the Gen. well. Have been unable to learn any of the particulars of the late fight, save that our troops were overpowered by a largely superior force of rebels and many taken prisoners. Our total loss was 1406, killed wounded & prisoners.
Monday, Mch 9th. Have marched thirteen miles since one o'clock this afternoon reaching Spring Hill -- where we now are, about five. We have infantry, cavalry and artillery, sufficient to whip all the rebels in this part of the country if they will only give us a chance. There are with Gen. Granger, Generals Baird[,] Sherridan, Gilbert and Smith, the two first old and tried soldiers, the two latter not so experienced but ready to do their best. Gen. Baird is a small man, black hair, just turning grey, with sandy moustache, vigilant and active. Gen. Sherridan is every inch a soldier. He is a very small man, slightly built, sandy hair and beard, thin voice, and as quiet a man as I ever met, but you can tell from his manner that nothing escapes his notice. His men perfectly idolize him and with good reason. Instead of taking a house for quarters as others do he camps with his men, taking life as a soldier must, showing his men that what he requires of them he himself can and does perform. Our Gen. has taken two houses for himself and staff much to our comfort as we were not allowed to bring any tents and but one pair of blankets. We brought the tent fly which would keep the rain from us but would otherwise add nothing to our comfort. The rebels left this place this morning and are probably but a fue miles ahead of us. Shall continue the pursuit tomorrow when we hope to bring them to a stand. I went out after dark to see the Camp. The long rows of camp fires blazed and crackled cheerily, and the men laughed as heartily as [struck out: if] they would had they been at home instead of out tentless under a cold, cloudy sky whilst the savory smell of roasting pork, and chickens gave ample evidence that sundry animals had come within the lines without the countersign and paid the death penalty for their temerity.
Tuesday, Mch. 10th. Rained heavily all day, but our men were on the tramp by eleven o'clock anxious to get a view of the enemy. When we had moved about three miles out the Gen. sent me back to Spring Hill with dispatches for Regiments that were expected to arrive, where I spent a lonesome day. During the afternoon I could hear cannon shots, but there I was forced to stay until after dark when, the expected troops not coming, I ventured to go on to the Gen. and learn whether I should wait still longer, return for them to Franklin or remain with him. My long absence had led him to think I had fallen into the hands of the enemy. Our men captured a prisoner today and this evening a deserter from the 6th Texas Reg. came in and was brought to Hd. Qrs. It turned out that the Gen. knew him as he had belonged to the U.S. Army at the time the Gen. was stationed there. He reports the rebels about 10.000 strong with eight pieces of artillery. Their camp fires are visible from the house occupied by us. The firing which I heard today was from their batteries, and caused by an attempt of our men to cross a creek which flows between us and them. Went to sleep in an old fashioned feather bed, which was very dirty and looked rather suspicious, so to keep out intruders I rolled myself closely in my blankets and ignored the sheets entirely.
Wednesday, Mch. 11th, the day dawned clear and cool, and our first thought was would the rebels stand until we could come up with them or would they run. We could see them plainly without the aid of glasses on a hill about a mile beyond us, and as they had there two cannon, it began to be a question of interest whether or not they would not drop a shell or two among us, which they could easily have done had they been so inclined. Gen. Sherridan took four guns and opened fire upon them from a hill to the right of Hd. Qrs. and at every discharge we could see them scatter in all directions to avoid the bursting shell, but with all our firing we could not effect anything serious. The replied with three shots and then were silent. The rains had raised the creek so that even Calvary could not cross until late this afternoon when there was a slight skirmish in which six or eight rebels were killed or wounded when off they went. Our forces followed as far as was deemed prudent then returned to await the crossing of the infantry & artillery, when we will give them a little warm work. The men have been building a bridge over the creek today and we shall cross tomorrow early.
Thursday, Mch. 12th 1863. "The King of France with 20.000 men, marched up the hill and then marched down again" and we have imitated the example of our illustrious predecessor, for here we are in Franklin snugly settled again in our tents, after our four days march. I gained a little experience which will be of use in the future and the Gen. a knowledge of the country which will greatly aid any movements that may yet be made. A cavalry force sent across the river this morning scoured the country as far as Columbia on the Duck river and found that the rebels had crossed the river and then destroyed the boats leaving us to wait until it dried up or return and we adopted the latter alternative. The Gen. was very much disappointed at his failure to overtake them but as he did not have control of the weather he cannot be charged with the result. We hope fortune will smile upon us next time, meanwhile we wait patiently and not idly at this place. I found here waiting for me a letter from Em. which was gladly received.
Friday, Mch. 13th. Spent most of the morning in the office busy. Received another good long letter from Em written last Sunday, which came through very promptly and was as promptly read. Have nothing of interest today to record as the time has been spent in arranging back business and making preparations for a stay here of several weeks. We are as comfortable as we could be were we in a house and we live like princes now that we keep our own table. --- & ----
And now firstly as you complain that I do not answer your
questions, I put myself on the witness stand and am at your service. 1st
Who is Lieut. Richards. Ans. A cousin of Ellen Richards with whom Pa
became acquainted and thus I too came to know him. He was in the same mess
with Henry Ast when they were members of the 6th Ohio and is now Acting
Qr. Master for the Camp of Convalescent soldiers in Nashville. He is 1st
Lieut. in the 1st Reg. Tenn. Inf. & further deponent saith not. 2nd
You need not send me the Atlantic as the undersigned has already had the
pleasure of perusing it. 3rd I am very happy to say that my foot does not
give me much trouble now. I am very careful of it and hope it will in time
regain its strength. The cold and damp does not affect it as I feared it
would. 4th I rode my horse from Nashville and all the time while on the
march and he was as frisky as a kitten all the time seeming to care
nothing at all for the work he had to do. 5th I have not yet given your
regards to Jim Morgan or Mr Eshelby "cause why" I am not in Nashville nor
are they at Franklin. The 52d Ohio was with us on the march. Your witness
is now ready for a cross examination. When you see Lida again tell her
that if ever I come home, I will call at her house for a dinner the first
thing, and as she is so fond of it I hope she will have a good dish of
hash on the table. By the way we had a very good dish of it today for
dinner which put me in mind of home. The Gen. is well and received Miss
Shoenbergen's cards yesterday. Did not seem to feel bad about it. You are
mistaken in regard to the marriage of Gen. Gillmore as he is yet wooing.
The bridal party was a Miss Letcher's who married Col. Carter of Tenn.
Give my best regards to "Dot" when she returns. Her slippers help to give
a home like look to my tent and have been a great comfort. Remember me to,
"Anna" "Sallie" "Maggie" "Mary Hibben" and others whom I may know, and do
not forget me yourself nor allow Kate to become unmindful of me. I am
going to send you a batch of letters to keep for me some of these days as
it goes too hard to burn them. I'll send them by Pa if he goes home next
month. You must keep in better spirits. I used to be sort of sentimental
once myself but have gotten bravely over it. All the world is not bad and
if it was what good would it do to grow desperate over it. I tell
you when I see what the soldiers have to put up with, I can not say a word
about my own condition, and yet there is no complaining. Take the
world as you find it, make the most of it as it is, do not worry yourself
because you cannot stop it when it seems to be going over. You know
it will all be right some time however dark it may be now. Clouds as
heavy have disappeared, Storms as fierce have settled to a calm, and it is
only by meeting and overcoming the obstacles that we learn to appreciate
peace and quietness. If you make up your mind that you will not feel
lonely, that you will see but the bright side or that you will see
obstacles in your pathway only that you may know how to overcome them, it
will be as you will it. When you are tempted to complain
think how many have more cause and are yet cheerful, when you are lonesome
remember those who have given up every home comfort and the society of
friends near and dear, and yet are not lonely. And here let me say a
word as to your notion of going to the hospitals. Having had an
opportunity to know more than many can learn, I would say to every young
lady stay at home unless you have a friend suffering and it becomes your
duty to administer to his wants. But I did not intend making this a
lecture and will say good bye hoping to hear from you again soon.
Direct as before as we send messengers to N. daily for our mail thus
receiving it sooner than if directed here. It is only 20 miles to
N. Give my love to Kate & take a large share for yourself and
remember me to those at home to whom I shall soon write.
J. Gordon Taylor, letter to Emma A. Taylor, 15
April 1863, Folder 5, Box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Letters, Duggan
Library, Hanover College, Hanover, Indiana.
Transcription by students in His225 History of the American Midwest, taught by Matthew N. Vosmeier.
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Franklin, Tenn. April 15 1863.
It seems to me the latter part of the weeks are weighted that the first part may always be present. The days pass so swiftly I scarcely keep note of time. Half of April gone before the pen becomes accustomed to writing it. I have received my accustomed weekly letter, and looking for the next is the only thing that enables me to keep count of the days and nights. I suppose you have seen by the papers that there has been a fight here and as the few particulars I can give may perhaps be of some interest I will at once to my Journal.
Thursday, April 9th Everything was quiet this morning, the rebels not disturbing us in the enjoyment of our usual nap, and all day long the pickets have reported all quiet in the front. The soldiers who were routed out so early looked tired and when the order came for them to return to their daily occupations, they no doubt felt much relieved.
Friday April 10th The General intended sending out a “flag of truce” today in reference to our wounded now in the rebel hands, and I had obtained permission to accompany it. It was just eleven o’clock when we were ready to start armed and equipped as the law directs in full uniform. Our horses were out in fine spirits evidently prepared to make a good impression upon the rebel beasts when crack, crack, went the muskets along our picket line, now scattering, now in volleys and we made up our mind to postpone our trip until a more convenient season. The General ordered his horse and while waiting a courier came saying our pickets were doing their best but must fall back, send reinforcements. Ordering a battery up to the fort and calling upon Lt. Fullerton and myself to accompany him, the General started for the fort too. When we reached it we could see the rebels swarming upon the town from all directions, charging upon our pickets who were slowly retiring fighting every inch of ground. Soon the 28th Miss. Reg. charged down the main street yelling like indians and five of them came down to the pontoon bridge very nearly capturing Capt. Avery who was in town at the time. The rebels who came to the bridge stayed there two being killed and the rest taken prisoners. As the regiment returned going out of town the Gen. opened upon them with the guns from the fort planting shell so thickly amongst them that they were forced to fall back about a quarter of a mile when the[y] formed in line of battle again evidently expecting our troops to come out and give them battle. But the Gen. had another plan. Sending the Cavalry up the river three miles they attacked the rebels from the rear and the Gen. opening again with his guns drove them back in confusion. Two regiments of infantry and one battery then crossed and followed them up until darkness ended the pursuit. Our cavalry captured four guns from the rebels and two hundred prisoners but all were retaken except sixty prisoners, who were brough[t] off in safety. After the retreat of the rebels I rode through town and over the field where the shells had fallen. Right in the streets of town were three rebel captains whose interest in the rebellion had ceased forever. At the bridge were two and out in the fields I saw ten more, with two of our men in their last long sleep. They carried off their wounded and such of their dead as the[y] could collect. We captured a rebel major and a Lieut. of artillery among the prisoners. A great many horses were killed and lay scattered over the ground. The rebels state that they heard the place was being evacuated, that we had but few troops here and their intention was to come in take them prisoners, capture the stores and then clear out. So certain were they of their success that they brought empty wagons with them to carry away the stores, but instead of provisions they returned laden with their wounded. So far as I was concerned I was perfectly safe all day being with the Gen. at the fort most of the time. The guns gave me a terrible headache after it was all which sent me early – comparatively – to bed to sleep it off.
Saturday, April, 11th. Have been very busy all day writing up dispatches, the work only interrupted by the cry of the contraband “Dinner” and the receipt of two letters which were very welcome indeed. In the evening a heavy thunder shower came up and with the rain drops pattering on my tent I went to bed tired enough to enjoy a sound sleep.
Sunday, April, 12th. This morning the flag of truce went out but I was too busy to accompany it much to my regret. It did not return until dark having found the rebels very sociable company. Those who went out report the rebels very much chagrined at their poor success in the late fight. Among their wounded are Gen. Cosby slightly and two of Van Dorn’s Aids. It is believed that Van Dorn himself is wounded as a shell burst at his horses feet killing three of his escort with their horses and wounding his aides. The rebels however deny that any harm came to him. Prisoners say positively that he is wounded but there is no way to verify their reports. Gen. Granger himself aimed the gun which did such execution. Nothing of any great importance was obtained from the rebels as they are too sharp to admit anything that would tend to give importance to their repulse.
Monday April 13th Went out today with Gen. Gilbert and Capt. Avery to meet rebel flag of truce which came with reply to message delivered to them yesterday. Met them about six miles from town. Gen. Cosby, his adjutant Capt. Bullock, Capt. Bradley commanding Van Dorn’s escort and Maj. Grant were the only rebel officers present. Gen Cosby, is a small man well built, ^long curly hair black moustache and “goatee,” handsome but effeminate face about which there is a look that marks him as a man of decision, prompt to act and energetic. He had a hunting shirt of grey cloth, plaited from the shoulder to the waist about which it was confined by a belt, the sleeves full, buttoning at the wrist, the collar and cuffs handsomely trimmed with gold braid the whole well suited to the man and presenting a very [strikeout] handsome neat and tasteful appearance. Grey pants and gaiter boots with a plain black hat completed his attire. None of the rest were d[r]essed in uniform owing as they said to the strictness of the blockad[e]. While the Generals held their consultation in the house we sat and chatted together pleasantly out on the portico and as we taken with us those flasks of good [strikeout] -wiskey- whiskey we had their tongues pretty well limbered before going home. Capt. Bullock is a handsome young fellow, well educated and smart. Perhaps Fanny Prath knows him as he is from Louisville –. Capt Bradley is a clever sort of a man too but Maj. Grant is a rough old customer who struck close to the whiskey and wished the war would end that he might get all he wanted of it. As we parted he reeled away asking us if we meant to take him prisoner after making him drunk. We all took a short ride together and enjoyed our visit hugely, making arrangements in case any of us should be so unfortunate as to be taken prisoners, and we mutually agreed to render to each all the assistance in our power. So you may rest easy if your biggest brother falls into their hands. Returned late glad that the Generals kindness had given me such an opportunity to see the way affairs of that kind are conducted.
Tuesday April 14th It has rained all day and for the lack of something better to do I have spent most of the time “Sewing”. Imagine me with scissors thread & needle, seated comfortably in my teny, sewing on buttons etc. &c. enjoying to the full the luxuries of a bachelor’s life. As a record of how I sewed buttons on the wrong side and wrong way and how I didn’t lose my patience, but bore it all like a quiet sheep and all that is of no special interest I forbear telling it, but say good night. Wednesday, Aptil 15th . Reced a letter from Pa today. He is back in Nashville. He seems to have hard work to get away. I suppose it is because he hates so to leave me. Have been studying a good portion of the time today, fancying I was again in College. I expect I dreamed quite as much as I studied, but if I did what of it. – Here endeth the lesson.
– Lt. Beaham sings out “Oh! Taylor Tea,” and I suppose I must go. Give my love to Kate and tell her Kiss you in the neck for me. Remember me to “Anna” “Sallie” “Dot” – her slippers are great conveniences and see daily service – “Maggie” and all the rest of my “dear ten thousand” who think enought to ask about me or care enough to hear. Tell them I am neither “Killed, wounded, or missing,” and hope I never shall be. Suppose Pa will get home this week so that you will hear all about me. And how good bye with much love
Your affectionate brother
Don’t you think such a long and interesting letter deserves something extra?
J. Gordon Taylor, letter to Ma, 10
May 1863, Folder 5, Box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Letters, Duggan Library,
Hanover College, Hanover, Indiana.
Transcription by students in His225 History of the American Midwest, taught by Matthew N. Vosmeier.
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Franklin Tenn May 10 1863
I suppose you have before this seen Pa who has given you the latest news from this part of the country. I had a letter from Em. yesterday which speaks of his being at home with Mr. Gazley. I had expected a letter from him by this time but it has not come. Your note with Ned’s accompaniment was received. If Ned was here he might fish all day in the river. Please ask “Tom” whether I owe her a letter as I have been looking for a note from her for a long time but have been looking for a note from her for a long time but have concluded that I will have to write to her first.
Since Pa left me we have had very quiet times, the rebels in our front having, a large portion of them gone to Ala. to meet Gen. Dodge and Col. Straight. On our part the work on the fortifications has gone on until they are about complete and the guns to man the works are coming slowly, so that we soon shall be ready to watch chances to strike, secure of a safe place for supplies. Reports came day before yesterday that Van Dorn had been killed by a rebel Major but there is not much truth in it, I’m afraid. Reports had Bragg killed a week or two ago but he still lives notwithstanding. We have all been anxious concerning the result of Hooker’s late battle, but suppose that we must accept it as another grand defeat. The hand of fate seems to be upon that army. It is too near Washington ever to effect anything. The President, the Secretary of War, politicians, jealous, aspiring Generals all have to put in their demands as to what shall and shall not be done, and in the great contention, the men are led to the slaughter, only to be disheartened by defeat. The General I have confidence in and that the men will fight they have sufficiently proved, but there are too many who have a directing power. The authorities at Washington will learn to leave to a competent man the direction of his own movements and give themselves up to the furnishing him with the necessary supplies with promptness. I am not discouraged however, for by continual hammering they will at last accomplish their object, and nothing gives more hope than the increasing boldness of our cavalry, who are fast learning to make brilliant raids into rebel country. See how Gen. Stoneman’s force destroyed the rebel communications in the last fight, and what Gen. Dodge has been doing from Grants army and last night dispatches were received from Col. Straight who left Murfreesboro some three weeks ago, saying he had penetrated to within two miles of Rome Ga. where the rebels have a large Arsenal. Our accounts lose sight of him there but later rebel reports say he was captured with his whole command. This however is not very probable as it does no agree with known movements which have taken place in our immediate front. Still of course it is possible and if true will be a severe loss to us, but it will stimulate the men and keep them on the alert. It will be soon, as much as the rebels can do to protect their own road, without making attempts upon our trains and that of itself would be of great advantage.
– Just while I was writing a dispatch [strikeout] -is- was received announcing the capture of Richmond by our forces under Gen. Key. It is Philadelphia report and of course is not official therefore much to be doubted. Have telegraphed to Washington for reliable information and will hear in the course of a few hours whether there is any foundation for the rumor. We dare not credit it, however much we may wish it. Tell Pa the Gen. has hit upon a new plan of dealing with such lukewarm sympathizers within our lines as cannot be sent out because of lack of evidence against them. He is going to organize all the able-bodied citizens into companies, regularly enlisting them in the U.S. Service but with the proviso that they shall not be called upon to go out of the country in which they live. They are to drill every day and perform all the duties of a soldier whenever the General shall call them out. Thus they cannot turn themselves over to the rebels even should we be driven out of this place as they would be deserters from the U.S. Service and as such subject to be tried by court martial and shot. Such as refuse to enlist must join their friends in Dixie. Mr. Roselle will now have to take his choice of the two evils.
We are all well and shall try to continue so, but I do not think this place a very healthy one. I may be mistaken and hope I am but I think if we could get our men up on the hills instead of down in the valleys as they now are ^they would be better off.^ There are no signs of moving as yet, though I do not suppose we shall lie here idle in the summer. How are all at home. How I would like to see you all once more. Has “Bob” recovered. When will she send me a letter – Dispatch from Washington just received contradicts reports from Philadelphia – . Give my love to all at home. Remember me to “Eliza”. Tell “Ned” to remind old “Zack” of me once in a while so that when I do come home he will know that I am a proper person to come in. We are having beautiful weather now with nothing to complain of. Good bye and remember me soon by letter.
Yours with much love
J. Gordon Taylor, letter to Kate Taylor, 9 June
1863, Folder 5, Box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Letters, Duggan Library,
Hanover College, Hanover, Indiana.
Transcription by students in His225 History of the American Midwest, taught by Matthew N. Vosmeier.
Triune Tenn. June 9th 1863.
The letter of last week proved rather a short one, but as I could not do any better at the time, I shall make no apologies for it. I have had no reason to complain on my part having received the “Atlantic” the “Continental,” the “Independent”, a letter from Em. one from Pa enclosing one from “Ma” one from “Helen” a programme from some unknown, kind heart – for which said unknown will please accept my thanks, – and finally a nice little note from “Dot.” inviting me to attend the commencement exercises at Glendale, which invitation I, of course, cannot accept, You will have to indefinitely postpone your intended visit as I do not think we shall soon again settle down at Franklin, if ever, and as for this place, you never could find us for the hills, unless you first made a “balloon reconnoissance”. With the first of this month I resurected the defunct “Journal” of which I proceed to give you the interesting contents.
Monday June 1st 1863, dawned as brightly as one could wish, promising pleasant days in the future, but the news of today will compel us to enjoy them in some other place. Our stay here is limited, and the prospect for active campaigning very good. Orders are received for us to move to Triune some thirteen miles east of this place, as soon as the troops can be put in moving order.
Tuesday, June 2d . At three this morning the troops took up the line of march for Triune, in a drizzling rain, a dark, lowering sky, seeming to weep over their future prospects. We expected to be followed at eight, but the Gen. who has been complaining for several days was too ill to move. As we had everything packed up, we lounged listlessly around, until about four o’clock in the afternoon when a courier from the picket post came in saying the rebels were coming in terrible force to attack this place. He saw seven or eight guns and the road was crowded with men. Upon questioning him he concluded that the guns might have been wagons, and finally admitted that even the wagons had not been visible, but he heard the rumbling of the wheels, and saw the rebels coming. Further cross-examination proved that a few rebels had come up near our pickets, firing a few shots, whereupon, he had come in, thinking a huge fight was prospect. Lt. Beahan went out and after an hour’s absence reported about thirty rebels in sight. Thus the temporary break in the dullness of the day passed and at an early hour, for the lack of something better to do, went to bed.
Wednesday June 3d. started for Triune about nine o’clock taking our time over a very rough road stopping on the way at a farmer’s house where we eat dinner and were very well treated. The road presented nothing remarkable, except, its crookedness, rockiness, and roughness generally. It wound round between high hills often through woods, bordered by fine farms, which however had a deserted look, very different from their appearance in times of peace. Reached Triune about three selected our camping ground and soon had a new home as comfortable as need be. After supper, which was eaten with a relish, we sat under the tall forest trees, quietly talking over the incidents of the day, a stump serving for our candlestick while the faintly flickering of the candle rather added to than took from the cloudy darkness of the night. Troops were just coming in from Lavergne and the loud, long cheers, echoed among the hills while soon the flashing camp fires told, that after the weary day’s travel, rest was found. Of Triune not much can be said. It contains about a dozen dilapidated houses, which are clustered together in a sort of basin, surrounded by high hills, whose crests are lighted up by the camp fires, while in the forests shadow sleep the men who soon will march, how many to victory, how many to death. Our own camp, is on a ridge some distance from the road, in the woods, where the fragrant smell of the fresh, growing vegetation adds much to the pleasantness of the situation. The “Stars and Stripes” wave over the trees, with a calm quietness, in the still night air, emblem of rest, to the weary of peace, to the troubled, of freedom, to the oppressed, of liberty, prosperity and happiness to all who will acknowledge its protecting power. Beneath its broad folds we chatted a while, then seperated, each willing to rest after the toils of the day.
Thursday June 4th Arose about eight much refreshed by a sound nights sleep, and went to work in the office over the papers which had accumulated during the few days interregnum. About three o’clock this afternoon we heard the guns in the Franklin forts speaking to the rebels, who, a dispatch said had attacked the place in strong force. The Gen. immediately sent his cavalry to cut off their retreat and an infantry force to aid the garrison and there waited for further news. At four we went out to review. It was a grand sight, there being present in the field about twenty thousand men. Among them were several of the “Stone river” regiments, and as they marched slowly by, I noticed the colors of one regiment shot and torn to rags, a silent but eloquent witness of the dangers through which they had passed. The men were few in number, who gathered round their tattered banner. To them, it was the emblem of honor, liberty, peace, prosperity, for it how many had laid down their lives and to maintain it unsullied by traitor hands how many more will sacrafice their all. How proudly they waved it, as they saluted the General and he, as he sat with head uncovered, felt that upon its defenders he could rely. We returned at seven, and read the dispatches from Franklin where the sullen roar of the heavy guns, told us that our men still held their own. About nine the firing gradually ceased and a dispatch came saying, our Cavalry had arrived, driven the rebels back, and reached the fort in safety.
Friday June 5th . It has rained steadily all day. This morning heard a few shots in the direction of Franklin, but dispatches later in the day say the rebels have entirely disappeared. Our cavalry had a pretty sharp fight with them last evening, capturing twenty, killing eighteen and wounding several, taking ^rebel^ Gen. Armstrong’s “battle flag” and the Gen. himself but in the darkness and confusion of the fight he escaped. We lost one killed and about ten wounded, the number taken prisoners not yet known, but is also small. A mail arrived this evening bringing me two letters and a programme of the “Anniversary” all very welcome and causing me to be much envied by those less fortunate.
Saturday June 6th . Our troops all returned from F. today, the excitement in that quarter having utterly died out. This afternoon the Gen. went to Murfreesboro, leaving us here to make ourselves at home un til his return. Took a short ride with Capt. Russell, but we greatly missed our pleasant Franklin roads.
Sunday, June 4th . Have spent a very quiet day reading. The mail brought me two magazines, two papers and a note from “Dot,” also the late Cincinnati papers which I had not seen for the last three or four days, and altogether I had quite a treat. Our cavalry had a slight skirmish this afternoon, with the rebels some six miles from here, but it did not result in anything very serious.
Monday June 8th . The Gen. Returned this evening, but what is the result of his visit we do not yet know. The probability seems to be, that while the others go forth “conquering and to conquer” the Gen. will be left behind in command of the district vacated by Gen. R. But this is only what the “birds of the air” say and is not given as at all “reliable.” Dispatches from Franklin today say the rebels lost about eighty killed in their last attempt on that place. Two spies made their way into the fort yesterday dressed in Federal officers’ uniform, but were taken up on suspicion, by the colonel commanding, as their accounts were not very definite. They proved to be rebel spies one of them a colonel in the rebel service. They will be tried today and hung. [Handwritten design to end the paragraph]
Here end the week’s record. Of the Franklin fight you
have seen all kinds of reports also reports of the attack on this place,
which never happened at all. My account is “reliable” and you can
rest concerning my safety. Tell Em. to buy me the nicest little
pocket compass she can find and send it to me by mail – there is no
express to this place – . It must be small enough for me to carry in
the vest pocket.
Don’t think of anything else just now, that I need. Give my love to Em, and all at home when you see them and remember me to “Dot,” “Annie” “Sallie” “Maggie” “Mary” “Hibben” and all other inquiring friends. By the way my reply to “Mary’s” invitation was written on a tremendous sheet of letter paper, but as we do not carry fancy stationery with us it was the best I could do. And now good bye until I gear from you again. Direct your letters as before to “Nashville”
Your affectionate Bro.
J. Gordon Taylor to Emma A. Taylor, 17 June
1863, folder 8, box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan Library,
Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).
Transcription and research by Josh Ford, HC 2018, and Sakib Haque, HC 2018 (and smv)
Head Quarters "Reserves Corps"
Triune Tenn. June 17 1863
When this reaches you, you will probably be at home, enjoying a rest after the labors of the year. It makes me homesick to think of the "little white house" now, with you all so pleasantly situated. I received a letter from Pa a day or two ago, in which he says he expected to go to Glasgow, Ky, as soon as Col. Goulding returned from Bowling Green where he then was. You see by the heading of my letter that the General's command has been organized, and from its name you can judge whether we are likely to advance or remain behind. When I last wrote I thought a battle would have taken place ere this but here we are still, sweltering upon the hill tops as far from the enemy as ever. The weather is very warm, and work not very [plenty], so that we manage to keep our temper. The news of yesterday in regard to Hooker and Lee was not very encouraging and a dispatch received this morning says a battle going on at the old Bull run field, which if the prestige of the place has any influence, will result in disaster to our arms. We feel secure about the army before Vicksburg, as it has been heavily reinforced, but all are anxious for its fall that the troops there may be elsewhere employed. Of our own future I can say nothing. We came to Franklin three months ago, expecting to stay but a few days, and now are at Triune where the prospect for a protracted sojourn is daily becoming better. I have long since ceased to complain or criticize, as I can see what obstacles are to be overcome and could the newspaper wiseacres be here and see and know what is done, they would go home with greatly different ideas as to carrying on the war. They would then devote their energies to prosecuting the war and to encouraging those who are daily dying that others at home may enjoy peace. This miserable wrangling about "party" would be done anyway with and men like Vallandigham, with his peace party would be given as food to the birds of the air, and all who mourned their fate be banished as traitors to the country. When I see such proceedings as the "Democrats" were engaged in, in my own native state, I begin to despair. We have arrived at the condition of Sodom and lack the "little leaven" that would save us from destruction. I am not one to give up but I feel as if all efforts were to prove in vain, and the utmost that can be done, is to show the world, that it cannot be charged against those who are now in the field. Thanks to the provisions of the State of Ohio, her soldiers are allowed a vote, and if fraud and corruption does not interpose, they will secure a republican, war-prosicuting Governor. The Copperheads at home have written and are still writing their treachorous suggestions to the men in the army, until there exists a wide spread disaffection in the ranks. But enough of this. I expect you think I have a fit of blues come over me this morning. "There is a good time coming" though to see it may require more faith than I can at present muster, but will try to -- "labor and to wait." This is a long introduction to the Journal part of the Epistle, but it is at last reached.
Tuesday, June 9th. A dispatch came this morning saying the two spies at Franklin were hung at seven o'clock. One was a Col Williams and the other his adjutant, both belonging to Gen Wheeler's staff. Thus ended their adventure which for boldness and daring has scarcely a paralell in this war. At two o'clock, heard sharp picket firing on the Franklin road and I rode out to discover the cause. The 4th Ky. Cav. was already out, when I reached the place, and were skirmishing with the rebels who to the number of about one thousand men out seeking what they might devour. All our cavalry turned out and after a skirmishing fight of about three hours they drove the rebels across the river some eight miles from here. I reached the field too late to see anything but a little long range firing the rebels keeping well out of our way. The 4th Ky. had two men wounded and one killed.
Wednesday June 10th. Even the birds and mules seem to have entered into a conspiracy to make this a quiet day. The leaves now and then move lazily on the trees and persons coming to the office move as if they were not particular as to the time of their arrival. The only thing not chargable with laziness is a gray squirrel which runs up and down a tree just back of the ofice, barking and scolding, leaping from limb to limb, with a recklessness, which makes one hold his breath at times. At last he too seems to partake of the universal feeling and lies spread out on a branch, eyeing us, saucily as if it had read and thoroughly comprehended Gen. Orders No -- which positively forbids firing in the camps.
Thursday June 11th. This morning the quiet was broken by the booming of rebel cannon and the shrill scream of the shell, as they rushed past impatient for victims. We soon were on horseback and in a few minutes after the Gen. had a battery working in reply. He sighted the guns himself and the position became very interesting. One shell struck within five feet of the Gen. another exploded among the caissons fortunately doing no damage, branches of trees dropped all around us, but we were not alone. Our guners worked bravely and soon the rebel fire began to slacken and in about twenty minutes it ceased altogether. It was the first time I had been under fire and as the first few shells flew much too high I did not care much, but as they began to get the range they came lower and lower until the chips flew from the trees about the heighth of my breast, and finally to plough up the ground around us, and then I thought it would be more comfortable elsewhere. I looked at the General who was working away and kept with him thinking I could stay if he could and as each shot was fired he would encourage the men until all encouragement wore away and they worked as coolly and quietly as if they were simply at drill. In a hollow between the rebel battery and our own, was posted a regeiment of our cavalry, and the firing was all done over their heads. At first they were very nervous but the sight of the General and a few words of encouragement restored order. His presence seemed to restore confidence and they all seemed to feel that where he was there could nothing hurt them. During the fire a body of rebel cavalry rushed out from the cover of the woods, across a large meadow evidently intending to cut off and capture a squad of our men who were thrown out as skirmishers as they were galloping across the Gen. trailed a gun upon them and fired. The shell struck in their very center and one rebel dropped from his saddle, another shell followed and still another and in confusion they all scattered and ran into the woods, evidently tired of their undertaking. When the battery was silenced, our cavalry went out in pursuit and after driving them across, the Harpeth [River], returned. We lost five killed and eleven wounded, killing nineteen rebels capturing three and wounding how many we of course do not know. Returned at two o' clock with a good appetite, glad that matters had turned out so well.
Sunday June 14. The order for the organization of the General's Command is out. It is called the "reserve Corps" and consists of three Divisions the first under Brig. Gen. A. Baird, the 2nd under Brig. Gen. J. D. Morgan, the 3rd under Brig. Gen. R. S. Granger. What will be its theatre of operations is yet to be made public. This morning a Lieut. White of the 4th Ga. Cav. came to Hd Qrs. having deserted from the rebels. He says he has tried every honorable way to get out of their army, without success, and so deserted. He is from Chattanooga and is acquainted with Sallie and Laura. He formerly belonged to the 19th Tenn. of which regiment Laura's brother is a major. He says when the regiment first started out, Sallie presented his company with a silken flag in behalf of the people of the place. She is at home now, but he did not know where Laura is. Received "Em's" letter the other day also one from "Helen". Uncle Sam's mail wagon still finds our hiding place.
Tuesday June 16th. Received letter from Pa and one from Kate yesterday. I did not know the O.F.C. commencement took place so early. Did Farmer's College hurry their's up too. Shall expect an account of the proceedings from "Tom" in a day or two. I wrote to her last Sunday. Here ends the chapter. A dull one it will prove too. We are enjoying very warm weather now, the thermometer standing at about 98 or 100. I do not complain as this is what suits me. We live high now, having peas, seed, potatoes, cherries and such in abundance. As soon as I know where we are to be I will write you. I showed your letter to the General, but he did not seem to think there was much chance of your coming soon. But now good bye. Kiss all for me and give them any amount of love. I hope you remembered me to all the girls at parting.
Your aff. Brother
Gordon Taylor, letter to Kate
Taylor, 12 Jul. 1863, folder 5, box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort
collection, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).
Transcription by Allen Pope, HC 2022; Sean O'Meara, HC 2022; Kevin Vanvalkenburg, HC 2022; and Nora Faulstich, HC 2022.
Direct to "Nashville" as before.
"Hd. Qrs. Disct Cumberland"
Murfreesboro Tenn. July 12/63
As I am more in your debt of present, I write you this note. Your two kind letters have been received, the one dated June 30th arriving this morning.
I was in Nashville just two weeks having gone there June 23d and left there for this place July 4th last Tuesday. I have been unfortunate in my letters since I was sick all those coming while I was away having been sent to me just before I returned to duty, and now I cannot trace them at all. I have sent to the Nashville P.O. and to the Hospital but nothing has been found. The clerk here said he sent me eight or nine among them my "Compass" but I received but two out of the whole number one from "Dora Davis" and one from "Helen". I have not heard from Pa for more than a month and do not know where to direct to him. When you write to him again tell him I wrote to him, enclosing Gen. G's letter also his letter to Gen. R with endorsement, and directed to "Eli Taylor Chf. Qr. Mr's Dept. 23 Army Corps Cave City Ky." As no answer ever came to my telegram to him at Cave City, I do not think he went there and of course never received my letter. He had better write to the Post Master at "Cave City" and have the letter forwarded to him. It was a month ago that I wrote. I have not heard from any of you for so long that I am almost tempted give up expecting letters. You do not tell me where Pa is, say nothing about the rest at home but confine yourself to war matters of which we have quite enough here. I was glad to hear from you however, because if anyone had been sick of course you would have mentioned it.
But you think this is a poor return for your kindness in sending me two such good and long letters, and I will confess I think so too, but I feel sort of "green" over the loss of all my epistles.
I had a pretty good time at Nashville, that is for a person sick and away from home. I staid at the St. Cloud Hotel where I was well treated and had good attention. I was going to the officers Hosp. but thank my stars that I did not. I paid eighteen dollars a week at the Hotel but would double it rather than go to Hosp: Three or four in a room, hot, disorder reigning supreme, nothing but the narrow cot to lie upon which however well it may [answer?] in health is a poor thing when one is sick,, the whole is enough to kill a well man. Deliver me from Hospitals. I only wonder any one ever comes out of them without pall bearers. Our Hosp. in Lexington were incomparably superior to those in Nashville & also those we had at Franklin were kept as neat and clean as could be, but the lack of good management shows plainly at [N.?] Perhaps the others there may be better but as the officer pay for their accommodations I could not expect that where there was no pay but that of our Good "Uncle S." that things would greatly improve. However I escaped siege by starving myself and taking but very little medicine and may I never be in a condition to return to the Dr.'s hands again. Dr. Wright who has charge is a very pleasant man and I guess a good physician but he is overworked. I left Nashville last Tuesday and came to this delectable town where I found the Gen. and "all the rest" very busy and glad to see me all well once more - at any rate they said they were glad and I take their word for it and do not write it as my own egotistical assertion -- .
I suppose "once upon a time" this was a thriving pleasant place, but after a year's occupation, first by 70,000 rebels then by a greater number of our troops, it has been oscillating between the "frying pan and the fire" until "its glory has departed" and with it, all the fences, many of the houses and most of the inhabitants. I have not been out much since coming here having been too busy, but will tell you what I think of it so far as I have seen. I rode out the Shelbyville road last Wednesday about three miles and found a blackberry patch where I filled by "vest" with splendid ripe berries. All along the road was the remains of Army barrels, boxes, bark housese, etc. &c. and the whole country looks the very picture of desolation.
On Thursday evening the Gen. sent me round the picket line but about Eight o'clock as I was passing through a dense cedar "brake" I lost myself and after an hour's wandering in search of the "reserve" I made my way home. Our Hd.Qrs. are the same formerly occupied by Gen. Rosecrans, a nice two story brick house where every breeze wafts to our nostrils the perfumed air of decaying animals, or the the steam from raking piles of filth and garbage, accumulated during the stay of the "Army." Since the Gen. came he has greatly improved the place and it is fast presenting a respectable appearance and the air has become sensibly purer. A week or two more will give it quite a different appearance as well as "smell." I have a nice front room all to myself until within a few days, when Capt. Avery was taken sick just as I had been and we moved him in there that he might be more quiet and comfortable.
It is incredible almost, but I do not think it is at all an exaggeration to say that no less than fifty rats give a ball in my room nightly, other rooms and the halls being occupied in proportion to their size. They are present day and night, run over you, around you, watch you with their glittering black eyes, squeal, fight and charge round generally until now no one takes any notice of them. The whole town is occupied by them and they seem to enjoy their occupation. They have eaten up two or three saddles for the men and I have to hang mine up by a string too high for them to jump up and so situated that they can not climb up and drop down on it. We live pretty well, having plenty of blackberries meats and vegetables but we get the poorest bread I ever eat or rather did'nt eat for I fall back upon the "hard tack" rather than commit suicide by putting such stuff into [our?] "pouch". Our cook makes good biscuit and occasionally a batch of genuine "milk rising" so we do not suffer.
We get ice from Louisville good cistern water, etc. &c. so that starvation point has not yet come. As soon as the Gen. brings order from all this confusion with which he is now surrounded he will move his Hd. Qrs. to Nashville. I do not look for that move to take place however for four or five weeks as there is a great deal to be down here. The Gen's. Command is so scattered and having never had any permanent organization until it was turned over to him, he has to begin at the very bottom of the ladder and work up the raw material. His men are at Ft. Donelson, Clarksville, Gallatin, Nashville, Shelbyville, Wartrace, Franklin and this place and Lavergne, and they must be cared for while at the same time R.R. communications must be kept open with the front, and supplies of every description forwarded. Add to this, his Corps instead of being "Reserved" was foremost in the late advance and took all the prisoners and did most of the fighting that was down his side of Tullahoma.
I was terribly disappointed in not being able to accompany the advance, but as I could not help being sick, had to make the most of it. The office is overrun with work and I have taken new duties since I returned in addition to those I had before, to relieve Capt. Russell who is almost used up with overwork. It is not so bad as when they came here first and soon all will go on smoothly. I am very well at present and am as strong as ever. Give my love to Ma Em "Tom", "Bob" Ned, and take a good share for yourself. Remember me to Eliza and all enquiring friends, and give old [Zach?] a pat for me. I have not seen the photograph of my "["trio"?] which was to be forthcoming when vacation set in.
But goodbye. I have covered a large surface and said nothing at last so it is time to close.
Hoping to hear from you all soon I am your
The Gen recd your letter yesterday I expect he will look upon your request with the desired favor. G.
J. Gordon Taylor, letter to Kate Taylor, 28 September
1863, Folder 6, Box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Letters, Duggan Library,
Hanover College, Hanover, Indiana.
Transcription by by students in His225 History of the American Midwest, taught by Matthew N. Vosmeier.
Head Quarters “Reserve Corps.”
Chattanooga, Tenn. Sept. 28 1863
It has been a long time since my last and I expect you have been looking somewhat anxiously for a letter, since the news of the last fight here. I telegraphed to Pa the day after the battle and suppose you have ere this received from him, the contents of my dispatch. I wrote to him too the evening before we left Nashville, but did not have time to send any word to the rest of you. But it is all over now and I will let my Journal tell what the days have brought forth.
Sunday, Sept. 13th. 1863. “Big Battle expected. Come on first train.” Thus read the telegram, which, at five o’clock yesterday afternoon, was handed to Capt. Russell, as we went to work accordingly to make our preparations. At nine this morning we were off, Capts. Russell Avery and myself, Major Cowan and Fullerton being left behind to attend to business. We secured good seats in the cars, were provided with a basket of lunch, and all were in high spirits. A heavy rain the day before had laid the dust and nothing occurred to interrupt our enjoyment of the ride. All day long we whirled over the road, up, up, as we neared the mountains, among which we found ourselves at five this afternoon. Leaving Cowan, the last station on the Nashville side of the Cumberland mountains, we attached another locomotive and the[n] began in earnest to ascend the everlasting hills. Then they were rising just before us in all their grandeur, their very rocks and trees seeming to rejoice that they were once more free. The plume like branches of the lofty pines waved us a welcome, and the tall cliffs echoed back our shouts, the last lingering sound dying away in the distance, as if echo itself reluctantly ceased “shouting to the battle cry of freedom.” Higher, higher we climbed, puff, puff went our Sturdy horse, panting but not breathless, steadily pushing us up the mountain side, with an energy and strength resembling the unconquerable will of that nation of freemen, who first surveyed these wilds and laid the track now trodden by his iron feet. Instead of going to the mountain top we enter a tunnel, where our “extra” bidding us a graceful adieu, leaves us to make our way alone. Through the tunnel and free from the stifling sensation caused by the pent up smoke, down we pitch towards the valley of the Tennessee. Half way down we halt at Tantallon. “While in Tantallon’s towers I stand” runs through my brain, but I look in vain for the towers. A log depot and our dilapidated cabin are the buildings dignified by the high sounding title. Soon we lose the sun and the shadow of the mountain grows in length, until the whole earth is wrapped in darkness. Eight o’clock finds us in Stevenson Ala. where we change cars and get all things ready for the ten miles which yet separate us from Bridgeport. Here at S. I met Mr Eshelby and Charlie Hodgson with whom I enjoyed an hour’s chat. We did not get started for B. until eleven and what transpired on the way I know not. We were piled, oats rations, baggage, privates, saddles, officers, all but the horses, in our freight car and all slept. At midnight we unloaded on the banks of the Tennessee, and with clothes on, the heavens for our covering, the dusty ground for our bed, we soon were sound asleep.
Monday Sept. 14th. Awoke this morning at half past five much refreshed. Just across the river rise the mountains, high abrupt, their tops seeking the clouds, while slowly up their rugged sides rolls the mist from the river, now stopping, as it were to rest, now breaking into fragments, to reassemble and resume its onward, upward march until the sun asserts his power and the whole vanishes. We had expected to find the Gen. here but learned that he had gone to Chattanooga, so at nine o’clock we crossed the river and soon were in the mountains after him. No description of mine can give an idea of the beauty, grandeur, roughness, dustiness of the road. Up on the summit, down in the deep valley, stopping now and then to drink from the many crystal springs, dusty, weary, hungry, we reached Chattanooga at seven in the evening, to find the Gen. still ahead of us but where we could not learn. Our blankets and eatables all being in our wagon, which was yet half a days journey among the hills, we put up at the “Spencer House” where we slept soundly on sheetless beds, from which a thick coating of dust had to be brushed to make them habitable.
Tuesday Sept 15th After washing off a little of the accumulated mother earth, I brushed my clothes and blacked my boots with a towel made from an old window curtain and went down to a regular rebel breakfast. As I tramped through the empty halls, notices stared at me from every side, fit commentaries upon the morals of the chivalry “Look out for thieves!!! The proprietors of this house will not be responsible for property of any kind left, either in rooms, halls or office.” And again “Owing to the trouble and expense of procuring supplies, from and after the 8th day of August the price of board at this house will be $8.00 per day.” I felt my pocket book examined its contents, and sat down to eat. Poor corn cake, black bread, suspicious meat, parched corn coffee, eaten off of unwashed plates with greasy knives, soon satisfied my appetite and I went out to settle my bill. Being a Yankee he charged me only at the rate of $4.00 per day. We started for Rossville Ga. where we understood the Gen to be encamped, and were fortunate enough to find him after a dusty ride of some six miles. Rossville bears about the same relation to a town that the Georgia costume does to full dress. It consists of three or four log houses settled down in a beautiful valley, cool quiet, comfortable. The place upon which we are encamped was formerly the residence of John Ross the celebrated Cherokee chief. Here the prospects are we will stay a week or two, as all things are not yet ready for a fight.
Wednesday Sept 16th Went this morning to Chattanooga to attend to some items of business. I had just gotten the dust brushed off and was beginning to feel myself again, I rode over very nearly all the town. It is a place of magnificent distances but there its magnificence ends. It has been a place of great importance to the rebels, being a great rail road center, and having iron works, foundries, an immense tannery, a saltpetre cave near, large machine shops, well ventilated extensive hospitals, the whole well fortified both by nature and art. Met Henry Ast who is stationed in the town. Made inquiries concerning Laura and Sallie. Laura’s father moved about a year ago to Columbus or Geneva, Ga. and Sallie’s family are residing at Cleveland, Tenn. where he went some five months since. When I returned to camp, I found Hd. Qrs. moved to a woods where the rebels Gen. Hindman had his camp. It is a pleasant place, but like all places in this country, bare of grass, parched and dusty. Carried out the first clause of the injunction “Early to bed &c.”
Thursday Sept 17th Was lying in bed awake this morning, when from the south, boom, boom came the sound of cannon, starting us up in a hurry. We heard but four shots however and then all was again quiet, leaving us to eat our breakfast with undisturbed appetite. Capt. Russell was yesterday at Gen. Rosecrans’ Hd. Qrs having been sent by the Gen. on important business. On his way he stopped to inquire of one of the natives as to the direction of the camps, whereupon the “native” thus expressed himself. “Be you a real live Yankee. I never seed one before. Why I did n’t think you-uns could talk plain.” It was some time before Capt. R. could convince him that a “live” specimen of the genus Yankee stood before him. To day a young lady called with her mother at Hd. Qrs. and asked to see the “old flag,” saying for two years they had been denied the sight of it. As it was unrolled before them they burst into tears. In the door yard of her home is a grave. And I will tell you how it came there then wonder at her weeping if you will. While the rebels held this place and were enforcing the conscription, her father fled to the mountains. Sought out and captured by the rebel fiends without the knowledge of his wife and daughter, by night they brought him to his house and hung him on the tree beneath which he now sleeps. Morning came and two rebel soldiers called to tell them, the husband and father was outside wishing to see them. Going out expecting to embrace him, what a sight met their eyes. Horror stricken they appealed to the men to aid them in giving him a decent burial, but to no purpose and amidst the jeers and brutal insults of the God forsaken wretches they themselves were compelled to cut him down, dig his grave and bury him from their sight forever. What wonder that they wept when they saw the old banner of freedom waving over them. Is God just and will he allow such men to triumph. Little indeed do those at home know of the persecutions, the tortures, agonies, the Union people have endured. Until my own eyes had seen it, I could not hold such belief against my fellow man.
Friday Sept. 18th Went to Chattanooga today to attend to business which kept me until six o’clock. On my way down met Maj. Fullerton who was just in from Nashville. Upon my return found the Gen. had gone to Dept. Hd. Qrs. Three brigades of the Genl’s. command went out this afternoon and had a brisk fight. Met the rebels only three miles from here. It has been a raw, cloudy November day and in town I found everyone sitting round fires, while in camp we hovered over the coals, enjoying their warmth exceedingly. Nothing new today, except that the prospects for a fight are increasing.
Saturday Sept 19th Rose early this morning, a sharp frost chilling me so that I could not sleep. Packed up our bedding and filled our haversacks with crackers, ready for action. At seven the firing began along the line occupied by Gen. Thomas, some three miles off, scattering at first, then sharp volleys, followed by the long continued roll of musketry, to which the artillery added its deafening roar. At ten our troops were engaged, but the Gen. was sick in bed and did all his fighting by dispatches. While he was trying to sleep during the intervals, we were gathered round the fire in the front of his tent, whispering to each other messages that were to be delivered should accidents well understood by us, but unnamed, happen to any one of our number, or quietly listening to the dull distant roar, which, gradually receding, told us without the aid of dispatches, that all was going well. Throughout the day we listened and waited, until night closed and all was still. Though successful today it has been against great odds, that fill us with forebodings of the morrow. Prisoners taken today represent an entire “corps” from the army before Richmond, Buckner’s army which was driven from East Tennessee, Johnston’s army from Mississippi, and unexchanged prisoners from Pemberton’s army all added to the original army of Bragg. But the work must be done. Then can be no backward steps taken now.
Sunday Sept 20th Rose at four and in the cold damp darkness, brooded over the coals until over the mountain top the sun looked redly down through the fog, which slowly rose as if it fain would stay to hide man from his fellow man and add to his brief life, yet a few short hours. We marched out at half past six and were drawn up in line of battle about three miles from our camp. Between nine and ten we heard the first gun far on our right towards Gen. Thomas. Soon the engagement became general along his line while on our front silence sill reigned. Nothing appeared to test our mettle and the men lay quietly on the ground waiting. How many are still waiting and will wait until the events of this day shall be judged by the ruler of all. At twelve a dispatch came from Gen. Thomas “I need help, come”, and soon a dusty column of eager men moving towards the firing. Just in time we arrived. Fifteen minutes later and the day had been lost. The wavering bending lines were well nigh broken when the cheers from our advancing lines reassured them. As our men moved up to the crest of the hill, the Gen. ordered “fire low and give them the cold steel, Charge” I saw a rush, a glitter along the line, I heard a shout, the hissing of the leaden hail as it swept over the ridge, a heavy trampling sound drowned by the roar of artillery which lasted seemingly ages, but by the watch an hour or a little more. Three successive times the rebel lines made their way to the very top of the hill and as many times were they hurled back in confusion. Troops who had fought the Army of the Potomac at Fair Oaks, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, here met their match. Their shouts and steel were met by cheers and the kindred bayonet, and they were forced to retire until their shattered columns could be reformed and new troops gathered to brave the storm again. In the last charge Capt. Russell received a ball directly though his heart and fell dead without a struggle. His horse too was wounded and came rushing riderless across the field, giving us the first intimation that he was hurt. After the last repulse there was a lull in the fight, a deadly silence ominous of the death struggle to come. The ammunition train belonging to Gen. Thomas had been captured, but Gen. Granger distributed his supply equally and the men took their places to await the onset. They did not wait long. On came the rebels hosts yelling like fiends, covering their advance with a fire so heavy that all previous was but childs play. Cool, collected our men lay on the ground until over the hill the ranks of gray appeared, then arose and opened fire almost in their faces. For two long, long hours, face to face, so near the men cursed each other in their rage, hand to hand, without mercy they fought our men never yielding the rebels never gaining until at last our ammunition was exhausted and the men receded a few paces. Encouraged, on came the Rebels with cheers to drive the recoiling lines but recovering for a last and final effort, with the strength of despair, our men met their charge and returned it with a fury so irresistible that the rebel line once more broke and fled down the hill side now gray with their slain. One more feeble rally on their part one more repulse and the thickening darkness left us masters of the field. Where we first stood there we stood yet, but to attest the cost were the bodies of three thousand men dying, dead, covering the ground, their cold glazing eyes staring at the stars they never more should see. On the right we were not so fortunate, our lines having been broken and driven back some five miles, thus leaving us almost entirely surrounded, and rendering it necessary for our safety to fall back. Under cover of the darkness our troops were silently withdrawn and at eleven o’clock I took supper in the same camp from which we had gone out in the morning.
At half past twelve we buried Capt.
Russell. Universally beloved, all were moved to tears as his body
was lowered to its last resting place. Bravest of the brave he fell
in front of the front ranks. He sleeps forever.
“Treason has done his worst. Nor steel nor poison
Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing
Can touch him further.”
“Who dies in vain
Upon his country’s war-fields and within
The shadow of her altars.”
We trust his death is not in vain. At half past one I went to bed to rise in one short hour to hunt up some of our troops who were ordered out. In the glare of a thousand camp fires, the smoke and dust hanging heavily on the damp night air, I wandered amid the motley gathering until five o’clock before I could find them After giving the orders I returned to my blankets to sleep.
Monday 21st Awoke expecting to be attacked again today. At noon the Gen. was summoned to Chattanooga by Gen. Rosecrans and we were left alone at Hd. Qrs. And now in the quiet I got down a few incidents of yesterday’s battle. Gen. Whitaker was wounded, not dangerously, but so as to knock him from his horse and stun him. He fought throughout the whole battle and won the unbounded praise of all. That he was where danger was you may judge. Two of his staff were killed outright, one mortally wounded, and of the two left, both were dangerously wounded. Gen. Granger has a piece missing from his hat, taken out by a shell which exploded directly over his head. Gen. Stedman, com’d’g our 1st Div. was struck in the back by a piece of shell bruising him badly, and his horse was killed. When the 115th Ill. Reg. exhausted their ammunition and began to stagger under the storm Gen Stedman seized their flag, and shouted “Men of Illinois how many are willing to die here with me.” As one man the regiment rushed forward and drove the enemy down the hill at the point of the bayonet. Their colors, their reputation, their General, were saved for staggered by the impetuosity of the charge the 121st Ohio fixed bayonets, moved down upon the rebel lines and captured two stands of colors bringing them in triumph off the field. Most of the regiments in our General’s command were those raised under the last call, who had never been in a fight, but without exception they every one did their whole duty. The praise of Gen. Granger and his “Reserve Corps” resounds from all sides and Gen. Rosecrans publicly admits that his troops saved the day and wrung victory from defeat. – But the day has closed. At four the rebels made a demonstration against our left and threw a few shells directly into Hd. Qrs. Camp, but did no damage. Cannonading was kept up until seven o’clock with occasional volleys from small arms but all finally quieted down. When “darkness covered the face of the earth” our troops were silently withdrawn to Chattanooga where at eleven “I lay me down to sleep.”
Tuesday Sept. 22d Moved Hd. Qrs. today and took possession of a small frame house, where we have been waiting patiently for the Gen. whom we have not seen since yesterday noon. Since their arrival here last night, our men have been hard at work with ax shovel and spade, constructing lines of rifle pits in expectation of an attack. The wagons have all been sent across the river and everything made secure.
Wednesday, Sept. 23d. Moved Hd. Qrs. again to day, and this afternoon were out with the troops in line, in obedience to orders received from the Gen. No attack was made however and at dark received permission to return. Found our cook had a plate of soup waiting for me, the first I had seen since leaving Nashville. It tasted uncommonly good and went far towards filling up the aching void, which a day without dinner is apt to create.
Thursday Sept. 24th. Cannon shot awakened us at four o’clock this morning and we turned out with the Gen. in the thick chilling fog and rode to the lines, just in time to ride back again, the firing having ceased. After breakfast I took an escort and two wagons and crossed the river to look for forage, our horses having been without food for the last forty eight hours. Found a field of corn on an island some four miles below town and by and work succeeded in procuring enough for a day or two. The river is very swift between the island and the main land and our teams were so weak, I was afraid to undertake fording, so sent the men across on horseback with sacks, to ferry the corn over in that manner. Returned at eight well tired out. At the island, I met two of my “Camp Monroe” boys and Gilbert Strong with whom I had a good long chat. It did me a great deal of good.
Friday, Sept. 25th Was awakened about midnight by a brisk fire of musketry and began to dress, inwardly lamenting that the rebels would not allow us to sleep in peace, when the Gen. called out to us to lie still and go to sleep, an injunction I gladly obeyed. I was up again at four however and off to the island after more corn, this time taking wagons and all over, the horse back ferry having proved too tedious. It was a very warm day and it kept me on the lookout to see that my men did not steal away, but finally I got a load of corn, hay, pumpkins beef and a hog, with which I started home. Two o’clock found me at Hd. Qrs. tired and ready to enjoy the nap I took after dinner.
Saturday Sept. 26th. Moved our itinerant Hd. Qrs. again today, I hope for the last time until we return to Nashville. We occupy a nice, but small frame house on the bank of the river, where we are comparatively free from dust. Still no news as to our future. Nothing occurs to startle us out of our daily routine of duty and we begin to grow impatient. Still there is a sort of contentedness among us, for none care to re-enact the scenes of the last week, soon. The ardor for fighting has somewhat cooled, and though earnest and ready as ever, we now should go out with very different feelings. The novelty is gone and we realize that we are engaged in a serious business.
Sunday, Sept. 27th. How different are my
feelings this evening from those of a week ago. There in the midst
of the retreating columns, the st[r]aggling moonbeams scarcely finding
their way into the deep mountain pass through which we traveled, I tramped
through the dusty darkness, sick at heart, scarcely knowing or caring
where we went. My horse, carrying a wounded soldier, whom I had
picked up on the road now and then rubbed his head against me as if asking
for sympathy, and the few I knew in the tramping crowd were telling of
friends who that day had fought their last fight and going over the scenes
through which we had just passed, while the groans of the wounded, their
appeals for help, reached us from all sides. Now unhurt, I am
comfortably housed, free to rest undisturbed, our little band gathered
together and once more we feel almost at home. I have just returned
from a ride with our General, Gen. Rosecrans and Mr Dana the Asst.
Secretary of War, who went over the river this afternoon to inspect
certain works now being constructed. Our ride back by moonlight was
beautiful and I enjoyed it very much. Here end the chapter.
We had a train in this morning bringing me Em’s letter of the 13" and one from “Helen” of the same date. How good they were. Em’s box of grapes came jotting over the mountains to me but I could only look at them and sigh. If the letter had not told me what they were I could hardly have guessed. I take the will for the deed however as it was not your fault that I did not get them in Nashville. I saw Mr Nesmith, but he did not have my letter with him and I did not get it until the day of the fight. Maj. F. also brought me a letter when he came so I have not been left entirely destitute. Papers come four days old and are very welcome. Am glad you liked the pictures. But I’m tired writing. Is not this enough for once even though I have been so long silent. Think what I have done today when I tell you “Helen” will get a copy of my journal in the same mail that brings this to you and that I have written it all today besides attending to my regular duties. You will not blame me I know. Send this home, as it will have time to reach them before a letter can be sent fromn here again and let Pa know that I have written. Give all my love and Cousin Crete too. The Gen. and all the rest wish to be remembered.
And now good night. You shall hear from
me regularly again now. Give my love to Em, take a large share for
your self. Remember me to all my friends. Thus much I’ve
written. Thank God I have lived to write it.
Your affectionate brother
J. Gordon Taylor, letter to Emma Taylor, 10 Oct. 1863, Folder 6, Box 1, Elias Riggs Monford Letters, Duggan Library, Hanover College, Hanover, Indiana.
Head Quarters 4th Army Corps.
Chattanooga, Tenn. Oct 10/1863
My dear Em.
Although you were the recipient of the last letter sent to Glendale, I again address my epistle to you, as Kate certainly has not finished the little note I sent her after the battle. Lt. Beahain starts for Nashville tomorrow -- he has been starting for just two weeks past -- and I improve the opportunity, by sending you word that "I am alive and well and hope, etc. cc." Your letter of the 28th wandered down to me and I was sorry that you had not heard from Pa that I was safe. I thought he would have sent you word immediately upon receiving my telegram. Perhaps he never received it. Since the last installment of my journal was dispatched I have been very remiss and can give you but a small letter, but such as it is you have it, and I'm sorry it is not more interesting.
Monday, Oct. 5 1863. The past week has been one of waiting. Along our lines nothing has disturbed the quiet, save now and then a stray shot from one of the pickets, who anxious to display his skill as a marksman sends a bullet whizzing harmlessly across the "neutral ground" between the lines. The rebels seem to be gathering for a new struggle and in the mean time, keep their cavalry hovering around, ready, whenever opportunity offers, to strike a blow. On the 2nd they made a dash upon the wagon train between this place and Bridgeport, burning some two hundred of the wagons. Our cavalry were not tardy in pursuit, and succeeded in killing and wounding nearly two hundred, taking some eighty seven prisoners, besides recapturing all property which the rebels did not destroy. Last Thursday it rained steadily all day and throughout the night, cleaning the air of the cloud of dust which since our arrival has enveloped everything, almost stifling both man and beast. Since then we have had delightful weather, cool and bracing. October frosts are fast changing the forests and the mountain sides are magnificent, dressed in their autumnal colors. This afternoon the rebels opened fire from five batteries, which they have erected since we retired to this place. Three of them are on Look Out mountain in plain sight from out Head Quarters, and for two hours they evidently were trying to rival General Gilmore's performances at Charleston, their guns being from two and half to three miles distant. But they might keep up such a fire for the next six months to come with no visible result, save a decrease of their ammunition.
Tuesday, Oct 6, 1863. A few papers kept me occupied this morning. Paid a visit to Henry Ash and Lieut. Hopkins in the afternoon, hunting up something to read. Found a "Harper" for October which entertained me during the evening and made me look forward to the morrow with regret that there was no more of it to read. I find in our house plenty of school books but however attractive they may once have been, I am not yet so desperate as to pour over these. I see "Haven's Mental Philosophy", "Whateley's Logic" and many other old familiar faces. Was so fortunate as to resurrect "Irving's Sketch Book" which will keep me in reading matter for several days.
Wednesday, Oct. 4th. Rained during the night and when I awoke this morning the clouds hung low and threatening, enveloping the mountain tops as if with a veil. By noon however it cleared off beautiful as before. Read "Martin Chuzzlewit" today which Maj. Fullerton had the forethought to bring with him. Found it very interesting and think if we were cooped up here with all the works Dickens ever wrote, I might in time become as great an admirer of him as is "Lettie". Received a letter from Em. Yesterday and manifested my gratitude by writing them today.
Thursday Oct. 8th. This afternoon went over to Lt. Hopkins and returning met Lt. Irwin an old Farmer's College student. Not having seen him for a long time I went with him to his regiment -- the 124th Ohio -- when I stayed until ten o'clock. While there a band of singers from the 6th Ohio came over and serenaded the major of the regiment. Their voices were very fine and enjoyed the music very much. Two of their companions were killed in the late fight and they gave such an air of sadness to one of the songs, it was almost impossible to keep back the tears. Heard where Andy Braden is and shall call on him the next time I go out. Found that Maj. Hampson is acquainted with "Nellie Wick". The Col. of the regiment, O.H. Payne lives in Cleveland and was wounded in the battle on Sunday, the 20th Sept.
Friday, Oct 9th Received Cincinnati papers of the 2nd today, the first we had seen for almost a week, so you may judge how eagerly they were read. Rode over to Gen. Whitaker's Head Qrs. this afternoon to carry some dispatches. Found the Gen. as jolly and noisy as ever but in somewhat of a worry, lest he was to be left out of General Granger's new command upon its organization. Did not leave until six oclock and they had a very pleasant ride home.
Saturday Oct. 10th. Today we cease to be the "Reserve Corps" the orders putting the Gen. in command of the newly made 4th Army Corps being issued this morning. Lt. Beaham goes tomorrow to Nashville to bring down all Hd. Qrs. baggage and soon we shall be settled in our new positions with plenty of work on hard and still more in prospect. Thus end the chronicles. When you direct your letters address them to the
Maj. Gen. G. Granger
Com'd'g. 4th. A. C.
Give my best to all my friends, "Annie", "Sallie", "Maggie", and others who care to hear. Give my love to Kate and all at home taking a good share for yourself. Do not forget to write soon and often.
J. Gordon Taylor, letter to Pa, 20 Oct. 1863, Folder 6, Box 1, Elias Riggs Monford Letters, Duggan Library, Hanover College, Hanover, Indiana.
I have been waiting for a letter from home for some time, but either I am to be repaid for my long silence or else the mails have been to blame. For my own part I have been compelled to delay writing because I have no "stamps" and can neither buy, by, borrow or steal one in all this army. I have sent to Nashville for a supply, but they have not got arrived nor will they until next Saturday. I write however and have the letter ready for any chance that may offer. We are being thoroughly revolutionized in this department, as you will probably see by the papers before this reaches you. Gen. Rosecrans has been relieved of his command, and Gen. Geo. H. Thomas put in command of the "Army of the Cumberland." The old Dept. of the Mississippi, the Dept. of the Cumberland, the Dept. of the Ohio, are consolidated into one Department, to be called the "Department of the Mississippi" the whole to be under the command of Maj. Gen. U. S. Grant, who is expected to arrive here in a day or two. The cause of General Rosecrans removal was non compliance with instructions. When he crossed the Tennessee river, his orders from the War Dept. were positive that as soon as he had occupied Chattanooga, he should stop, repair the Rail road accumulate supplies, fortifying himself, in the meantime. Instead of so doing, Gen. R. thought he could push on and occupy Dalton Ga.
before the rebels could concentrate sufficiently to oppose his progress. The consequence was the "battle of the Chicamauga" when nothing but the determined bravery with which Genl's Thomas & Granger maintained their position saved the army from utter annihilation. Even had we succeeded in reaching Dalton, it would have been impossible to hold it, except the rail road in our rear was in running order, and we must eventually have fallen back upon this place for lack of food. As it is now the time was wasted which should have been used in piling up supplies, and the rains are fast making the roads impassable for wagons, the rail road will not be in running order for a month to come and we shall have all that can be possibly be done to keep from actual want until that time comes. Again we have since falling back here, lost possession of a portion of the rail road between here and Bridgeport which will have to be regained as soon as we need it, that of course will take men and be a sacrifice which would have been avoided had the instructions of the War Dept. been obeyed. It is probable that these matters all together will so delay movements that there will be nothing done towards an advance until Spring fairly sets in again, whereas as it should have been, time enough would have been left to put us in possession of Atlanta Ga. for winter quarters. How the removal of Gen. R will "take" with the people at large I cannot
tell, but if they saw the matter as it is viewed from this standpoint they would not make long nor loud complaints. Whether the true reasons will be given to the public, I do not know, but to you I write the facts as they are, for your own information Gen. Granger protested against the advance from Chattanooga before he knew what orders the War Dept. had issued and so far as he could endeavored to keep the army here. After the move was made however, he seconded it with all his ability. As the change was only made public this morning I cannot tell how the Army generally will receive it. But enough of this. I received a letter from Em. yesterday and one from Kate on Saturday last, but from you and Ma I have not received a word for more than six weeks. Lt. Beaham is in Nashville at present, making preparations to bring our baggage down. Since he left there has been no one except Maj. Fullerton and myself to do any work and between the old Corps and he new we have had our hands full, more indeed than we can possibly attend to. The Generals new staff has not yet been announced and I do not know what changes he intends making. He has applied for a Maj. Selfridge who was his Adjt. Gen. in Mississippi before we got Capt. Russell and he is expected here in a few days. He will be the Asst. Adjt. Gen. of the "Corps" I suppose. Capt. Thompson his old Chief of Artillery will be "Inspector", thus returning Maj. Cowan to his regiment. Lt. Beaham
having the best claim will receive the appointment of "Maj. & A.D.C.", a Dr. Phelps is our Med. Director in place of Dr. Varian. We keep the same Qr. Mr. Capt. Ransom and for the rest of us we should tread in our old footsteps. I saw in the papers the other day that Capt. Heurtt was soon to be tried by a court Martial of which Gen. Ammon is Prest. I believe I'll write to Uncle Johnny and find out about it and see if I can't be subpoenaed as a witness. In this abandoned country I find rather desolate at times. Em. sent me a box of grapes with one of Eliza's cakes in it, but after coming over the mountains, there was nothing of them. Our mails are very irregular and slow, the papers we get generally a week old or more, except those from Nashville which come through in four days. I am looking for the Magazines for October as I wrote to Em for them some time ago. Ohio has proved herself all right yet, notwithstanding the effort of Vallandighammens [sic], It would have done your heart good to have heard the Cheers of the men as the news was spread through the Camps. The soldiers voted here polling a pretty good vote, though rather more for Val. than I had expected. The most of those however were of that class, "who always voted the Dimmycratic ticket" whether it supported an imp of darkness or an angel of light. But I must close. Give much love to all at home and write soon, and let me know how you are situated. With much love I am yours affectionatelyGordon
J. Gordon Taylor, letter to Ma, 25 Oct. 1863, Folder 6, Box 1, Elias Riggs Monford Letters, Duggan Library, Hanover College, Hanover, Indiana.
The weeks fly so swiftly that I cannot keep pace with them. I scarcely finish all my letters all round, before I begin anew, and even then some are left to wait, wondering, as I have been for some time past, why he does not write. It is more than six weeks since I have heard either from you or Pa, but hope has not entirely died out yet. Though I have been kept very busy for the last two weeks there has nothing of interest transpired save what you can learn from the papers. May. Fullerton and I have been alone to do the work and have had no time to run around seeking adventure. All has been quiet along the lines, the silence being but seldom disturbed by artillery. I see the papers give the rebels credit for burning several houses in their "bombardment", as they are pleased
to term it, but when you see again that the rebels have opened on the town, you need not worry. They did not burn any houses nor kill any men, for the reason that their shell could not reach us by more than half a mile. You know, I suppose, that Gen. Rosecrans has been relieved of his command, by Gen. Thomas, and that this Department as well as that of Gen. Burnside has been placed under the command of Gen. Grant. Gen. Grant is now here, having arrived a day before yesterday and is busily engaged in planning and laying out work. Deserters say that a portion of the army in our front is being withdrawn, and sent to East Tennessee to drive Burnside into Kentucky. If it is true and they should be able to accomplish it, we would be under the painful necessity of getting out of here, but I have no fears that such an event will happen.
October 28, 1863. Was interrupted and have scarcely had time to resume writing again since. I received a letter from Pa this morning just fifteen days
old, but very welcome you may be sure. He was well, but seemed determined to come down and take care of me quite a superfluous proceeding should he attempt it, and one which would result in his requiring much more of my care than he could possibly give me. I shall write to him "forbidding" any such proceeding. If he knew what terrible roads we have between here and Stevenson how rough, and steep are the mountains and how bottomless is the mud, and how hard we live, he would give up this idea at once. We are improving in our living, however, having had butter yesterday for the first time in five weeks, and we have two sheep which we shall devour at our leisure. If this army is not starved out of
this place, relief must come in five days. Every effort is being made and we hope success will be the result, but we are getting desperate. You need not say anything about this as the impression outside is that we have abundance and so long as they think so the rebels are of the same opinion & do not work so hard to reduce us still further. We expect in a day or two to open river navigation, twelve hundred men having seen the Blockade day before yesterday in the night and fortified themselves on the other side of Look Out Mt. and built a pontoon bridge of their boats. If they succeed in holding their position the rebels must evacuate Look Out which will give us the river. Maj. Cowan came through last night from
Nashville having been six days on the road. I wrote to Pa, & Kate last week and sent the letters to be mailed by Lt.Col. Banning of the 121st Ohio who was on his way home. This I send to Nashville by Maj. Cowan who returns tomorrow. Shall write to Pa too. Will not have time to write to Kate or Em. so they will have to wait the slow progress of the mail. Tell Pa when you write that it would be worse than useless for him to attempt to come down here. He never could stand the trip. If we can hold out the Rail Road will be put in running order speedily and then he can come with comfort & safety. But you
must think our situation a truly desperate one from what I have written, but in truth it is more in prospective than actually present. We have for the troops half rations and for our own mess, Soft Bread , Hard bread[,] Ham, fresh beef, and now mutton, potatoes, coffee, tea and good syrup, so you see we are not in a state of starvation. We moved our quarters the other day and now occupy to nice large houses with plenty of room where we are as comfortable as can be. If the rain holds off as it has for the last four days, the roads will soon dry up sufficiently to allow the wagon trains now delayed to reach here which will give us enough to provision the troops until the river navigation is thoroughly established and
when that takes place we shall be at ease, for with plenty to eat all the Confederate Army could not get us out of our present position. And when we get the Rail road in repair we shall be but one day further from home than we were at Nashville. I have no news to send. We all keep well and busy entertained daily with the sound of cannon but it is pure entertainment unalloyed by fear of danger, since no damage has been done on our side so far and I do not suppose the rebels have had any worse fortune than has fallen to our share. Today the opened fire from three guns from the very summit of LookOut. 2400 feet
up in the air, but four miles away from us. They were trying to shell out of the troops the other side of the mountain but do not succeed in the efforts. But it is getting late and I have two other letters to write yet so must say Good bye. Give "Tom", "Bob" and "Ned" a kiss from me and tell them to be good "boys". Tell Eliza I would like a good pie or piece of cake but we will have to wait for it. If you do not write soon, I shall have to change the six at the beginning of my letter, to seven. And now good bye.
J. Gordon Taylor to Emma A. Taylor, 31
Oct. 1863, folder 6, box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan
Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).
Transcription by Ashlyn Scott, HC 2019, and smv.
Chattanooga Tenn. Oct. 31st/63
Cloudy and cold is the last day of October, and the fire
is very comfortable. November has spread out its gloomy sky before its
time, but we make all cheerful within doors for contrast. Your
"Continental" was received yesterday and was very welcome. It looked
like an old friend. For the past ten days our mails have been few and
far between and as a consequence letters are in great demand. However
I received one from Pa on the 28th written on the 13th which told me
he was well and in good spirits. I wrote to Pa and Ma and sent the
letters to Nashville by Maj Cowan who started day before yesterday.
Since I wrote to Kate there has been nothing of great moment occurring
here, although our troops have not been entirely idle.
On the night of the 26th about 1200 of Gen Grangers
troops - - picked men - - embarked in pontoons and sailed down the
river past the rebel batteries on Lookout Mountain, landing safely on
the other side of the Mt. capturing a few rebel pickets, and before
morning they had strongly entrenched themselves built a bridge out of
their boats and were ready for the enemy. It was a daring
enterprise as the boats afforded no protection adnt he rebel pickets
extended all along the shore within pistol shot and the [illegible]
batteries were not more than 200 yards distant. Great was the
consternation of the rebels when in the morning they saw what had been
done, and they immediately took steps to drive us out. On the
night of the 29th they made an assault by moonlight upon the works but
after three hours hard fighting they were repelled.
A very fortunate and ludicrous incident occurred during
the fight which tended greatly to our success. A number of mules
had been tied up near our troops and several of them becoming restive
from wounds, the whole gang finally broke loose and charged down upon
the rebels with great gallantry. The rebels thinking "our
cavalry" were about to Saber them and trample them under foot, flung
down their arms and took to their heels, roaring lustily "we
surrender" "we surrender". Our men appreciating the joke followed up
the charge of their mule brigade, and ended the fight. They
collected over one thousand enfield rifled muskets which the rebels
had thrown down in their fright, besides a number of prisoners, whose
trembling legs refused to retreat with their valiant bodies.
The result of the whole movement has been to open river
navigation between here and Bridgeport, so that we shall be able to
supply our soldiers with more liberal rations in a few days.
Night before last a steamboat went down from this place to Bridgeport
and last night one arrived loaded with rations, so that I hope soon to
see plenty once more. Ever since we came here the troops have
been on half rations and lately the roads have been rendered
impassable on account of the heavy rains, sot aht really it seemed as
if hunger would accomplish for the rebels what their Arms failed to
do, viz. drive us out of Chattanooga. In a few days more I hope
we shall have entire possession of Look Out Mountain and then we shall
be safe for the winter. The rail road will not be open for a
month yet, but when that much wished for event does take place we
shall be almost as much at home as when in Nashville.
Nov. 2d 1863. The electioneering documents came
yesterday with a letter from ["Tom"?] and this morning "Uncle Samuel"
was seized with a sudden fit of generosity and gave me yours of the
19th and 26th with Kate's enclosed, one from Pa dated the 28th and one
from Cousin "Will." I was in a terribly bad humor when they came
but after such overwhelming good fortune how could I remain so.
How I envy you your trip to see "Helen." If I had been along I
could have made "Brough men" of the whole family in short
order. I do not understand how anyone in the army can be for Vallandigham,
and those out of it who favor "peace on any terms" ought to be
"drafted" and made to fight until they are converted. I wrote to
Helen a long letter when I heard of the elections and that was the
one, of which she promised you the benefit, I expect. I wish it
had been received while you were there, I think it would have helped
your side of the question a little. I am glad we are to have
another draft, and I hope and pray it will be a draft in
earnest. Tell Henry Day to get his "certificate of disability"
ready. I think the army would improve his health. Perhaps
his physician would recommend a three months enlistment instead of a
trip to the Seashore. You speak of securing the services of Mr.
Murdoch for a series of readings. He has been down here since
the Battle and has given a number of entertainments, but something has
happened each time to prevent me from attending them. You know
he had a son killed in the fight. I gave "Gen. Sigel" your
compliments and he returns his thanks therefor. He says he does
not flourish here where he cannot get his daily allowance of "Kraut"
and "Beer". He is the AAG now and it keeps him very busy.
Lt. ["Behive"?] I have not seen for three weeks. He went
to Nashville and has stuck fast somewhere in the mud, on his
return. Have not heard from him for a week. He will
flounder through some time this week I expect. He will be a "Major"
in a week or two. Henry Cist started for home day before
yesterday on a "leave of absence" on account of ill health. If
you see him you will remark how thin ? and pale ? he
looks. With his usual accommodating spirit, he left without
giving me any notice of it, so that I sent no word by him. If he
says he saw me before he left tell him it was two weeks
before and that you have later news. I have read the
"Pickwick Papers" lately, don't you think my taste improving. I
was highly entertained and hope I shall enjoy his "Curiosity shop" as
much when it comes. I have read John Logan's speech with much
interest and shall read the others at my leisure. By the way I
will tell you how a few Vallandigham Soldiers were served here on
election day. The rain came down in torrents but the Captain of
our of our [sic] batteries -- a German -- opened the polls promptly at
six o'clock and kept them open all day, that everyone might have an
opportunity to vote. Presently a squad of six men belonging to
his battery came up and voted for Vallandigham. This was more
than the Captain could stand. He ordered out one of the Caissons
emptied it of its ammunition, hitched the men to it and all day long
they were kept at work dragging it through the mud and rain. Of
course I do not approve such a proceeding believing everyone should be
allowed to think and vote as he pleases, especially when they are
soldiers, but you may be sure I did not shed tears because of their
unjust punishment. As to the lady whose husband is in the 4th
Ind. Cav. Tell her if only a month has elapsed without her hearing
from him she need not be uneasy. For the past six weeks the
Cavalry has been very busy and have scarcely stopped at any one place
long enough for letters to be written. It is not in Gen
Granger's command nor has it been except for the short time we
remained at Triune last Summer. The people all over the country
seem to be greatly exercised over the removal of Gen. Rosecrans, and
very naturally too when they cannot know the reason. However
there was a reason, a just one too, which will I suppose be made known
in good time. I am glad "Will" voted right for once. I
shall write to him in a few days as I owe him a "business" letter, and
I hope we shall keep the correspondence up now that it is begun.
I have written a letter to Dora Davis which is waiting for my "stamps"
to arrive before I can send it off -- as yours will have to do. --
They are on the road -- coming as Christmas is and apparently as fast.
-- I have just discovered a blob on the other page for which you may
blame the Maj Gen. He was writing at the desk a few minutes ago
and managed to spread the ink over everything, and when I laid my
paper down it received his mark.
Remember me to all my friends, Annie, Sallie Maggie, and
Lucy and Dr. & Mrs. Robbins. A year ago and I was limping
over to see the Dr. and now here I am where Doctors are in great
demand though fortunately not by me. Give my love to all at
home. Kate and yourself included. I enclose a list of
killed and wounded at the late battle. When you consider that
Gen. G. had but about 3380 men in the fight and out of that number
lost 1732 you can judge what kind of work they had to do. But I
must close. I forgot to tell you we live a little better now
than when I last wrote and are getting -- I was going to say fat, but
that's vulgar -- but are doing very well. We eat raw onions but
then there are no ladies at our parties. But good night
Your affectionate -- brother, Gordon
[In margin:] I forgot whether I ever answered Sam
Brooks' letter but think I did. However December is coming and
that is the month when I shall owe him a letter, since the one I wrote
to him last Dec. was not answered until July at the [same?] rate I
shall be in his debt then.
[letter fragment: J. Gordon
Taylor to Emma A. Taylor?], 8 Nov. 1863, folder 6, box 1, Elias
Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover,
Transcription by Natasha Molen, HC 2019
Chattanooga Tenn. Nov. 8th 1863 and from "Beaham's arrival" the 1st Day.
After much wishing and impatient waiting, "Lt [Behive?]" arrived yesterday having been seventeen days coming from Nashville here. With him came a letter from Ma enclosing a note from cousin Crite and her Photograph, and in unpacking my baggage I found The "Curiosity shop" which will be read with much interest. Capt. Avery came this morning so we are all once more together. Now I feel settled again and having "my clerk" shall have a little more time to attend to outside matters. Shall write to "Will Hodgson" tomorrow. Would have done so before but had no "stamps." But
Chattanooga, Tenn Nov 24th 1863.
I neglected you last week because not feeling very well, after attending to my work. I had no energy left for anything else. I have been flourishing an "chills & fever" a new sensation for me and very inopportune just now. As you have seen by the papers we have been fighting again. The battle began yesterday morning or rather noon, on our left and has been going all along our live ever since. I have been so unfortunate as to see none of it. When the Gen. went out yesterday, he concluded to leave me behind as I had had a chill every day for the last three past, but when I heard the firing I mounted my horse and started to find him. Before I succeeded I was taken with a shake and meeting our Surgeon he sent me back home where I lay down until nearly dark. We drove the rebels all day and last evening the Gen. came
in feeling very well satisfied with the day's work. He slept out on the field with Col. Selfridge , Maj. Beaham, and Capt. Avery while Col. Fullerton & myself kept house in town. He promised Col. F that if any thing stirring occurred today to send for him, in which case I should have gone too but he -- the Gen. came in this evening to get a good sleep for tomorrow. The fighting today has been on Look Out which our troops under Gen. Hooker stormed and carried with great gallantry. Two of Gen. Granger's brigades led the assault, the brigade commanded by Gen. Whitaker being the first into the enemy's works. The fighting has been very heavy all day long, and brisk work is promised for tomorrow. I shall go out with the Gen. tomorrow if I do not have a chill. We have driven the revels at every point and tomorrow I hope will finish the work by giving us complete possession of Look Out and clearing Chattanooga Valley of rebels, in which case they must fall back to
Atlanta. Gen. Sherman crossed the river above us today and will come down upon the rail road, cutting off their supplies and if successful capturing what they have accumulated. We shall there be at ease for the rest of the winter. As soon as it is all over I will write you as full an account as possible, though as I have seen none of it, I shall have to depend upon others for facts. But you will get a better and earlier account then I can give from the papers. I have not received my regular letter of last Sunday week now three days past due. I have been rather slighted by the mail for several days but hope to come again into favor. The "Continental" for Nov. was received for which many thanks. I wrote to Ma last Sunday, enclosing her a draft. I forgot to ask her to let me know when it is received, as the mails are so irregular. I am afraid it will go astray -- in which case she need not acknowledge the receipt of it. That's as much "Irish" as I could possibly
put in one sentence. -- I send you a list of the "staff" under the new organization. You will recognize a few of the names. I sent Pa a letter, but shall not write him until after this affair is settled. Don't you tell him. I've had "chills" or he'll come posting down here and I shan't know what to do with him. We've a Maj. Gen. extra stopping here now with a staff as numerous as a "dozen" and I've loaned all my spare bedding, beside a couple of "unmentionables" etc.&c and begin to wish the whole affair over. I am not complaining because some of these days I will make if even, but I want Pa to wait. After this fight we will have full possession of the Rail road, when he may come and stay a month and I will take him on top of Lookout and all over this and the Chicamauga battle field. What a good tramp we will have there. I have not had any chill today and hope to escape now without anymore. Have just been out watching our men at Look Out
Skirmishing by moonlight. We can see their camp fires stretching over the ridge and in the advance the flash from the guns tell when our boys are feeling their way along. It looks beautiful from Hd. Qrs. But it is nearly bedtime for one who is to get up at day break. Tomorrow is my birthday -- 25 years old -- it makes me sigh when I think of it. Day after is "Thanksgiving" I suppose and the recollection of the pleasant times I had last year makes me sigh twice. Just remember me while you are enjoying yourselves. Remember me to Maggie, Anna, Sallie, Lucy, and my other friends. Dr. And Mrs. Robbins and all anxious enquirers. Give love to Kate and take a share for yourself. Write soon. As soon as this is over I will write again.
J. Gordon Taylor, letter to Kate Taylor, 28 Nov. 1863, Folder 6, Box 1, Elias Riggs Monford Letters, Duggan Library, Hanover College, Hanover, Indiana.
Head Quarters Fourth Army Corps
Chattanooga, Tenn Nov. 28, 1863
I suppose since my last to Em. was received you have had visions of your "biggest brother" hovering over the fire his teeth chattering and himself muttering as did "Harry "Gill" I never shall be warm again. Then too you have seen by the papers that there has been a ground movement by the troops here and visions of broken bones have disturbed your slumbers, all of which visions I hasten to dispel lest their longer continuance injure your health. Here I am after the fight safe and sound for the very good reason that I was not in it at all owing to those same chills of which I had six in five days. Having never had them before I think I followed the old prescription "when taken, to be well shaken." The movement lately executed here was to have taken place last Thursday week but was postponed on account of the rain.
On Sunday night however, the troops were on the move taking their positions for the coming struggle. The rebels had perched on Look Out Mt. observing our every movement long enough and now they were to be put to the test. On Monday morning the lines advanced and after seven fighting the rebels were driven from their first line of rifle pits and the first days' work was done. I had started out in the morning with the others but had a chill and the Surgeon sent me home. On Tuesday morning the ball was opened on Look Out and just at noon our troops had gained the open space half way up where were the rebel batteries, taking two guns and about six hundred prisoners. Until ten o'clock that night the fighting was incessent as the rebels stubbornly resisted our advance. Wednesday the men were ordered to take the rebel rifle pits along the foot of Mission Ridge and after accomplishing that to await further orders. With a cheer they charged across the open fields which were swept by the fire of
sixty cannon and then was musketry of the rebel lines, and carried the works after a desperate fight. Retreating from the rifle pits the rebels started up the mountain side, and our boys finding that the rebel cannon were fast thinning our ranks, without waiting for orders determined to make an advance on their own responsibility. Up the hill side they scrambled, creeping on their hands and feet, climbing from each others shoulders, on, and up, the batteries showering down their iron hail and lighted shell throw by hand exploding continually among them, but at last the summit is nearly gained. Here they stop. A perpendicular cliff is to be scaled and stout men form the base of a pyramid which growns in height as the lighter and more agile clamber from shoulder to shoulder and their heads appear over the top. The color bearer in the mean time has climbed a tree and waving his flag in the very faces of the rebels springs with a shout into their very midst. Then comes the hand to hand struggle for life. Lacking time to load, guns are clubbed and shivered
men rush up to the very cannon's mouth get astride of the guns and grapple the defenders seizing sticks stones, fighting like very demons. The living tide of heroes still pours over the crest of the hill, and finally the rebel line breaks into utter confusion and is driven back. Quick as thought their guns are turned upon them and their own batteries mow great gaps in the fleeing ranks. Our troops pursue them until they are driven across Chickamauga river and their retreat rendered temporarily secure by the burning of the bridges after them. Thursday they were pursued and driven still further southward and yet our victorious men are harassing their broken ranks. We have to show for this battle, the possession of Look Out Mountain, and Mission ridge nearly fifty cannon, some six thousand prisoners, a large number of wagon stores horses and mules etc.&c., of these the 4 Corps took thirty two cannon, 3000 prisoners and did most of the fighting as the Dept. Commanders admit and
their services are recognized in the order enclosed. Our losses are not yet ascertained. The 4th Corps lost 2300 killed and wounded which is more than half the entire loss. I send you the General's congratulatory order issued from "Braggs" old head Qrs. on Mission ridge after the battle. I think it one of the best specimens of that kind of literature I ever read. I rode down to Rossville yesterday and visited Capt. Russell's grave. It is undisturbed, the rebels having respected our request concerning it. The Gen. starts with his command tomorrow for Knoxville, to the relief of Burnside who is I fear in a bad place. Col. Fullerton and myself stay behind to attend to house business. I wanted to accompany him very much but he would not allow it. I have not had a chill for three days and I hope I am rid of them entirely now. I received your letter of the 19th and Em's of the same date also a letter from
Pa telling me of the explosion of his mill and his narrow escape, and of his recent illness. I have not heard from Ma but twice in the last three months and begin to think myself forgotten. But I suppose then is good reason even though three months is a long time. But I must close as it is late and we have to get up at 4 o'clock tomorrow. I mean to take a trip to the top of Look Out and over the old Chickamauga battle field while the Gen. is away as I shall have plenty of time to spare. Remember me to all my friends Anna, Lucy, Maggie and Sallie, Dr. & Mrs. Robbins and any others you may see. Give my love to Em. and all at home and take a share for yourself.
J. Gordon Taylor, letter to Emma Taylor, 4 Dec. 1863, Folder 5, Box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Letters, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).
Head Quarters Fourth Army Corps.
Chattanooga, Tenn. Dec. 4th 1863
December is here bright, and beautiful. It is more like Indian Summer, these smoky, sun -- shiny days, the air just cool enough to keep one stirring, the nights just made for sleep, and all so quiet after the noisy thundering of last weeks conflict. Col. Fullerton and myself keep our bachelor's hall very comfortable, having work enough to prevent our growing lazy and yet not enough to hurry us at all. We have not heard from the General since he left, and therefore are in ignorance of his where -- abouts. He should reach Knoxville this evening and in case Mr. Longstreet has not already run away, there will be a fight. The newspapers however say the rebels are now on the retreat. By the way have you noticed with what a persistency the papers have given the credit of the late victory here to every General save the commander of the 4th Corps. They have cooly divided his command among the other Generals, leaving his name entirely unmentioned. I will give you a few facts. Gen. Hooker had assigned to him the task of storming Look Out Mt. and to assist his own troops he had Gen. Whitaker's and Col. Grose's Brigades of Gen. Granger's command. In the attack Gen. Whitaker's brigade was the first upon the Mt. carried the rebel rifle pits, captured too cannon -- the only ones taken on the mountain -- and held his position for nearly half an hour before other troops could come to his support. They also took over six hundred prisoners and kept them too. A brigade commander of Gen. Osterhaus' Div. undertook to claim the guns but Gen. Whitaker quietly placed a guard over them and prevented the credit of his work being taken from him. The other troops fought equally as well as well as did those of the 4th Corps but they should not claim credit for what they did not do. In the attack on Mission ridge Gen. Grangers troops were the first on the summit, captured thirty one pieces of artillery and had driven the rebels more than half a mile before any other troops came to their support. The first regiment on the top was the 79th Ind. belonging to the 3rd Div. 4th Corps. And now to sum up final results, the 4th Corps captured 3300 prisoners, nearly one half of the entire number taken, the[y] took nearly thirty three guns, more than one half of all that were taken, and their killed and wounded amounted to twenty three hundred which being much more than half our entire loss shows whose troops did work and faced the danger. And the growing glory is that the troops of the 4th Corps were the only ones who received a special complimentary order from Gen. Thomas, which shows what the Dept. Commander thought of the part borne by Gen. Granger's command. Gen. Howard, an old Potomac veteran commanding the 11th Corps told Gen. G. in my hearing that he never saw troops move out in such beautiful order, and Gen. Grant, who witnessed the gallant charges of our troops at Vicksburg, said the storming of Mission ridge was by far the most successful charge he had saw during the war. Such a compliment from the hero of Donelson, Shiloh, Vicksburg, is enough of itself. I do not claim that the troops 12th, 11th, 14th, & 15th Corps were not equally as gallant, and would not have done equally as well had they been placed in the position occupied by the 4th but as there seems to be in the papers a determination to give all the credit to other commanders to the entire exclusion of the General to whom the credit of execution belongs, I make the above statements. It is simply in the papers that this disposition exists, for here all unite in generous praise of the Gallant 4th.
Last Sunday I went through our hospitals with Dr. Phelps our Medical Director. This is the after work. When the excitement is over, then comes the suffering. I saw nearly two hundred poor fellows who had lost each a leg, many who had sacraficed an arm upon their country's altar, broken bones of every shape. I stopped in the amputating room and watched the surgeons as they took off above the knee three legs and I was astonished at the fortitude with which the patients bore their loss. One poor fellow upon being told that the Gov. would give him a wooden leg, asid, "When I get it there's enough of me left yet to fight the rebels" but alas the shock was greater than he could bear and two days ago he died. The men generally look cheerful and it is very rare indeed that you hear a groan or word of complaint. They accept their fate with a quiet resignation, and take it as a apart of the contract they entered into when they agreed to fight and if God willed it, die for their country. I asked one poor fellow as he lay upon the table waiting for the Surgeon to begin his work if he was sorry that he enlisted. "No" he replied "if I had known it would come to this, I would have done just the same. Gen. Thomas grants furloughs to all wounded men able to travel and to others as fast as they recover sufficiently and the anticipation of home and friends has a great effect in keeping up the spirits of the men during the weary days and nights. It gives them something to look forward to, and takes their minds off from their present condition. I telegraphed to Pa the day the fight was over and last night received a letter from him. He says he does not expect to get home until February as the explosion of his mill has thrown him so far behind in his work that there will be no time to spare when it is once more in running order. As I promised in my last letter, I paid a visit to Look Out mountain on Wednesday. The road was long and steep and as we climbed up the hill side now and then we saw the marks of the recent fight. Trees scarred by the bullets, barricades, broken ammunition boxes etc, &c. told where our brave had met the enemy and driven him from his stronghold. You cannot imagine the nature of the ground fought over. It is one vast rock, sent in every direction, every gulley affording shelter to the sharp shooter, and from every crevice and chasm grow pine trees great and small. Here are the great stones torn from the parent mountain beside which the "little white house" would be hidden entirely, gray, moss grown, silent now, but, as it were only, yesterday, hurling back from their weather beaten fronts the thunder of the heavy guns and the crash of musketry, repeating the shouts of the men, multiplying the horrid din of war until it rivals the roar of the very heaven's artillery. The day of the battle was a dark, foggy one and the mountain from half way up its side to its top was enveloped in the mist, out of which came to us the distant mutterings of the storm, and out of the gray mouth leaped the flashes of the guns, and surging back and forth was the line of blue itself a living wall, now thrust so far down among the rocks that all was plainly visible, again rallying and losing itself in that darkness which might be felt. What a grand spectacle. Both armies stopped and breathless watched the contest. Victory and defeat were then balancing in the scale and not less than seventy thousand observers awaited the result. It was a sight but few ages have witnessed, a sight that never can be forgotten. The road reaches the summit at Summertown, a collection neat, cozy residences when in olden times the "chivalry" whiled away the hot, dusty days of Summer. A hotel is here, a collection of houses built around in the shape of a hollow square after the fashion of a watering place, where strangers might find accommodation to the number of three or four hundred. Upon the very top a clear, cool spring of water bursts forth and goes rippling along the crest until weary of such dull play it dashes in one bold leap over the cliff, and beating itself to spray, falls like a gentle summer's rain to the Earth beneath. In one of the buildings we captured a lot of rebel commissary stores, and feeling hungry I tried to dispose of a specimen of their hard bread. Never mention again the wear and tear of "grinders" resulting from the mastication of our own "Lincoln platforms". If the rebels live on such flinty bread fossils, it surely cannot be until they are subjected to the grinding of the genuine "little giant" mill followed by a steaming in a wrought iron digester. How they manage to transform dough into such obdurate biscuit is a mystery to me. On the extreme northern point of the mountain we found the batteries from which the rebels had so often tried to shell the town. Looking from the town I had always supposed that every movement of our troops could be plainly seen, but looking down now from the mountain top, I was startled at the distinctness with which our every movement could be seen. One could not cross the street, nor leave his house unobserved. Every gun in our forts could be counted. Every tent, not shovel full of dirt could be thrown up in secret. All, everything was as open to them as if they were themselves the actors, doers. And yet high as they were, the low "splinter proofs" built to protect them from the fragments of bursting shell showed that the skill of our gunners troubled them considerably. I looked around for some trophy to send you but could find nothing transportable save a few sprigs of Laurel and the heavy moss that everywhere clings to the gray, weather-beaten rocks. I do not suppose it any different from moss and leaves at home and if there is not enough of the sentimental in your composition to keep it, no matter. I climbed down among the rocks to the place where I had often seen the rebel signal flag waving and there I saw several names carved, old and moss grown too, cut then by those may long ago have died and been forgotten. From this point the view is glorious. At your feet flows the Tennessee and northward lies the Switzerland of America. Westward are the mountains of Alabama, on the east apparently within a stone's throw is Rossville, Ga. while in the far off, dim, blue distance one catches a glimpse of the hills of North and South Carolina. Five states visible from my stand point. For two long years have traitor feet trod these hills, but now redemption has come and here from this mountain top we look Southward upon the land of promise, and gather new strength and swear that even as this now is so shall that soon be, purged, purified, forever free. Slowly but surely the coils are tightening. Where once we fasten our grasp then it remains, halting now and then, forward we go, but never backward. But I weary you. Slowly the sun sank down the western slope, longer and deeper grew the shadow of the mountain and we started for home. And now good night. I received a not from "Helen" yesterday written on my birthday. She was just about starting for Glendale to spend "Thanksgiving" and a merry one you had too, I have no doubt. Here we fired a national salute and gave thanks for our great victory. We are all well and when the East Tennessee expedition returns I expect we will take a rest for a month or two. Remember me to Anna, Sallie, Maggie, Lucy and all other friends not forgetting Dr. and Mrs. Robbins. Give my love to Kate and to all at home and take a little for yourself. Write often and if you receive no answers have patience, for Uncle Sam has a great deal on his hands and if now and then a letter goes astray count it part of your contribution to the cause. But if I write more I shall have to accompany the letter to make sure that it is read. So now good bye.
Washington D.C. June 26th 1864
Here I am in my "oven" feeling quite crusty but with still enough of energy left to begin your letter, leaving to time and chance its finishing touches. What a "delightful" day you had for Commencement. I could not but think of you in that hot chapel, waiting patiently for the "valedictory" to which besides its own intrinsic merits, the weather lent additional interest. I fancy I can hear the sighs of the audience as the last "farewell" is pronounced, while the simultaneous flutter of handkerchiefs assures me that there was not a "dry eye" in the house. How very affecting must the scene have been. But in truth I await the programmes with "notes explanatory" with much interest and wish I could have been there. As I am a sort of "Salamander" I could have enjoyed myself even if no one else could. I had intended making a visit to Ft. McHenry on Wednesday last, but the heat and dust prevailed upon me to wait for the rain that is coming — as is Christmas — after which I can enjoy myself far more. I received the letter from "the best sister in the world" who could snatch a few moments
[p. 2] to write to "her dearest brother" and when next I write I shall try to prove my gratitude. I also received a letter from "Orderly Tom" this morning which was very welcome. Tell him his "Commander" will send him "orders" next week. In the way of business there has been but little done, though we are not entirely at a standstill. On Friday last we set up our tents and Gen. Meigs paid them a visit. He seemed to be very well pleased on the whole though he objected to the form of the tents preferring the shape of those now in the service. The ventilation he pronounced to be the best he had ever seen. And now the matter is fairly before the deciding powers, though we do not ask nor do we expect an answer for several weeks. Frank Brooks intends to exhibit the tent to Gen. Grant and get his testimony in its favor, and have his letter laid before Gen. Meigs, to influence his decision. Thus stands the affair at present. I have not heard from Gen. Granger since I returned from New York though I have written him once since. However, I never expect to hear from him except accidently as he is not much given to letter writing. I saw Gen. Gillmore
[p. 3] here last week. He has just been relieved from command of the 10th Corps in Gen. [Benjamin] Butlers Department owing to charges made against his conduct in the attack on Petersburg by Gen. [August] Kautz. He does not expect to have another command soon. Of news I have none. Any little village newspaper will give you more of fact and information concerning our armies than can be found here at the very Head Quarters. We depend on New York and Philadelphia for papers, going from home to learn what is being done at home. This is the slowest, dirtiest dullest, place I ever was in. Even Nashville is preferable and I used to think that town bordered on Purgatory. When once I get away from here, nothing but positive necessity or the wish of some other than myself, will ever induce me to return. The only thing that can give me even a passable opinion of the town will be to meet success in our undertaking and then the utmost I could promise would be, that when I could say nothing for, I would say nothing against the town. I pity Congressmen, President and all who live here and think their honors dearly earned.
[p. 4] I suppose being an American I ought to boast of the Nation's
Capitol and so I would to any foreigner, for there are some redeeming
qualities even for Washington. Our public buildings are pronounced by all
foreigners to be superior to those of any other nation. You know it is one
of the inalienable rights of an American citizen to find fault with his
country's institutions at home and defend them abroad. After all my
complaints I manage to pass the time pleasantly, the great and
unsurmountable difficulty being that I am alone. Sam is a first rate
fellow but he wont walk because it is hot, because it is dusty — after all
really because he is lazy — or if I drag him out he growls because I walk
so fast while I grumble because he is so slow. You see we are not well
enough mated to make a very good team, so we each go pretty much on the
independent line. If I only had some one to run around with me I'd have
grand times and probably think this the greatest city in the country, as
it is, now and then, I wish myself home. But I must say good bye. Give a
kiss and love to Ma, Em. "Tom" Ned and "Bob". Remember me to Eliza and to
friends who think to ask for me and take for yourself much love from your
affectionate brother Gordon.
J. Gordon Taylor, letter to Em, 11 July 1864, Folder 1, Box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Letters, Duggan Library, Hanover College, Hanover, Indiana.
On Board Steamer "Jas. White"
Monday July 11th 1864
As we shall have an opportunity to send letters home from Memphis, I forward to you a piece of your Journal for which if it prove uninteresting you must make due allowance as I have been some time out of practice. We are progressing slowly but so far surely and expect to be in New Orleans by next Saturday.
Tuesday July 5 1864. After a busy day in the hot sun the Major and I were off at eight in the evening. To our great grief our train was minus a sleeping car so doubled up in our seats, sleeping now and then, growling oftener we worried through a not remarkably comfortable night. The Major however makes the most of everything and we came out of the darkness in good spirits.
July the 6th dawned with a rainbow spanning the sky, ominous of a storm and when at eight we stopped for breakfast at Olney Ill. it was in the midst of a drenching rain. It was not unwelcome, however, the cooler air and absence of dust rendering our progress much more pleasant. At Odin we parted company the Major taking the cars for Cairo and I keeping our yet four miles to Sandoval when I was to await the arrival of our horses baggage &c. and see them safely transferred to the cars of the "Illinois Central. A short interview with the R.R. Agent impressed upon me the disagreeable fact that I was to stay here until tomorrow evening. Behold me then seated in the shade of my "hotel" a little two story frame where I am regaled with corse bread and salt pork in true southern style which with the "whar" and "thar" of the natives quite carries back me to Tennessee. From my seat I can count thirty two houses scattered over the prairie which are dignified with the name of Sandoval, while far away North, South, east and west, stretches the interminable unbroken level with such dead monotony as forms a vivid contrast to the Alleghany scenery through which I passed one week ago today, and giving one very much the same feeling as one experiences when over the waste of waters no land appears. Across this plain comes a pleasant breeze which somewhat modifies the scorching rays of the sun and renders existence possible. Night comes and I go to sleep in a box the last impression on my fleeting senses being made by a mosquitoe.
July 7" 1864. Finding my baggage all safely arrived when I awoke this morning, I was enabled to get it transferred in time to take the half past ten train for the "Egyptian Capitol." We changed our cars at Centralia a thriving lively town looking as utterly alone on the great prairie as was Crusoe when he sang "I am monarch of all I survey. It is very dusty with all and has a thirsty air not at all dispelled by the doleful cries of "E're's your ice cool lemonade only five cents a glass." From Centralia to Cairo, was the hottest dustiest most uncomfortable ride it has been my misfortune to take for a long time. But to all things there comes an end and at six o'clock I reached my destination. I stopped at St. Charles where with a limited supply of water and a still shorter allowance of towel I managed to make myself passably comfortable and to eat the supper with a relish which nothing but the lack of dinner could have given.
July 8 1864. Today was the climax of the heated term and we spent it in stowing away our stores where their removal would least delay us upon the arrival of our boat. That done the discovery of a bath house was ample compensation for all our trials. The Cairo water works are unique in their style of architecture being represented by a mule, a man, a cart, and a corpulent barrel from which latter the fluid the fluid emerges through a leathery spout having acquired during its sojourn a stagnant frog pond taste which however agreeable it may be to the natives does not impress the stranger so favorably. The town being lower than the river there arises from the undrained street a perfume which rivalling the ancient Egyptian darkness "may be felt" or as I heard a Colonel express it "you can hear it." I imagine that here might be accomplished the feat of living without eating the nutritious qualities of the atmosphere being amply sufficient to sustain life. I shall never more regard as a fable the statement that Chameleons live on air." We expect our boat in tomorrow and then a long farewell to this city.
Saturday July 9th This has been to us a day of "hope deferred" but we have borne up bravely and our hearts are not sick. No boat came and compelled to spend yet another night here are consoled by the thought that we are not alone in our misery.
Sunday July 10th. Our boat the "Jas. White" came in just as we finished breakfast and without delay we were domiciled on board of her. She is a large new boat very comfortable and not crowded. At twelve we bid adieu to Cairo and at two halt at Columbus Ky. It is but a small place lying under a high bluff its forts commanding the river while its rail roads afford easy communication with the South. About half past six we pass island No. 10 on which can still be seen the huts built during the rebel occupation. There is just enough of day left for a glimpse of New Madrid as we sailed past. Here only yesterday boats coming up were fired into, but we were not favored. We have had a heavy storm this afternoon and the cool breeze and pleasant quarters afford a great contrast to our situation of last night. As evening came on I occupied myself with "David Copperfield which I find very inetresting. And now good night. ~~~~
Writing on a shaky boat is not so pleasant and you must charge the hieroglyphics to my position. I am not in a letter writing humor today and to that charge the uninteresting portions of this Epistle and I'll say good bye. Give my love to Ma, Kate, "Tom" Ned and "Bob" and if you are a right good girl you may have a little wee bit for yourself. Remember me to friends. The Major sends his regards
Yours affectionately Gordon.
[Envelope to Miss Emma A. Taylor, College Hill, Ohio]
J. Gordon Taylor, letter to Ma, 21 July 1864, Folder 1, Box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Letters, Duggan Library, Hanover College, Hanover, Indiana.
New Orleans La. July 21st 1864
If you could see us in our room now you would think we could desire nothing more. We occupy the house once owned by Gen. Wirt Adams of the rebel Army, situated on the cor. of Josephine and Chesnut Sts. in a quiet, cool part of the town, where we literally sit under our own vine and fig tree as the dish before me well attests. We have nothing to do save to amuse ourselves and at that we have been so far successful. Our house has fourteen rooms in all, elegant double parlors with Brussels carpet furniture to correspond, gardens outside, a good, extensive library within, in short everything heart could wish. Take our room. A mahogony canopy bedstead complete, marble top bureau, mahogony wardrobe, sofa, two rocking chairs, center table, with ottomans and lounge and carpet to match. Just next is our bathroom which is our greatest luxury. The General's room is rather finer than ours but we do not complain. In all this house there are but three occupants, the General, Major Beaham and myself. And now how do we spend the day. We do not mess at the house
[p. 2] as we can live cheaper at the restaurants. See us then at Eight this morning yawning and wondering if it is not time to get up. A sort of a smothered roar from the General's room announces that he is awake at least and presently in he comes making the air discordant with his attempts to sing "Em's old favorite "I bet my money on the bob tailed bay" and we all turn out for the day. Dressed by nine we get into a street car and go down town for breakfast which consists of "Fish flesh & fowl" melons, fresh figs, peaches, grapes, pears, nectarines, etc. &c. all of which are to be had in abundance. By Eleven we are ready "for anything that turns up." The General goes his way and we see him no more until the next morning. The Maj. and I wander around town until four when we eat dinner and come home. — You must know we live a good long mile up town and when we go down we stay the day out. — At home we read until mosquitoes worry out our patience, and then go to bed. Ten o'clock is sure to find us sound asleep, gathering strength for another just such a hard day's work. The General is very kind and we enjoy his company what we have of it, more than ever before. There being so few us we depend more upon each other. I wrote out my resignation yesterday
[p. 3] and this morning the General approved and recommended it and I have sent it on its way to the authorities competent to accept it. The General said he was very sorry to have me go and asked me if I had considered it well, but afterwards said he had been expecting it. He did not complain of my course but readily recognized the necessity that had led me to the step. It will be some three weeks before my papers return and you need not therefore look for me before the last of August or the first of September. But in the mean time take good care of yourselves and be consoled with the thought that when I do come it will be to stay. I called on Miss Austin's brother yesterday. He did not seem to be overjoyed at hearing from her and I thought when I mentioned that I came near bringing her with me, that he was glad I did not. He was polite and said he would write and we parted. He is not much older than I and yet has grey hairs, telling of a life called "fast" a life in which his sister has ceased to be remembered. I was not very favorably impressed, but perhaps my preconceived opinion prejudiced me against him. As he said he would write he gave me no message for Miss Austin. I saw Mr. Wise also and had a very pleasant talk with him. He asked about all at home very
[p. 4] kindly and seemed glad to meet me. I called at Mr. Schnieder's
Store also but Mr. S. was at home unwell so I saw no one. Today I got the
address of Mrs. Blaffert from Mr. Wise and shall call on her tonight or
tomorrow evening. I met here Maj. Lupton who was on Gen. Baird's staff
when we were at Franklin Tenn. last year, also a Mr. Fairbanks whose
acquaintance I made at Washington so that familiar faces meet me even here
where I had thought to be an utter stranger. Yesterday too I met a Mr.
Cook who once was a student at Farmer's College and is now Ensign on the
Monitor Chickasaw He have the Maj. and myself an invitation to come aboard
at ten this morning which we agreed to do, but unfortunately we slept too
late to keep our promise. Tomorrow we shall try again, I hope with better
success. Troops here are very scarce, the 19th Corps having been sent to
Washington leaving this Department almost bare of them. The General has
been offered his choice of three positions, by Gen. Canby of which he has
about made his selection. One was to take command of the 19th Corps before
its departure, one to go to New York again relieved of all duty entirely
and the third to take command of an expedition against Mobile which is now
organizing. Of this last [letter incomplete]
J. Gordon Taylor, letter to Kate, 6 August 1864, Folder 1, Box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Letters, Duggan Library, Hanover College, Hanover, Indiana.
On board Str. "Laura"
Off Mobile Harbor Aug. 6 1864.
My Journal grows so lengthy that I am compelled to get rid of another installment though so short a time has elapsed since I wrote. And in that short time much has taken place that will live in the history of our country. To give any idea of the scenes through which we have just passed is an impossibility. One may read of a shipwreck and all its horror with almost indifference, which if witnessed might for years haunt you by day and night. Not one but has read time and again of the war of artillery the crash of small arms, the charge, the victory, the retreat, and yet not one in a thousand has even the most remote conception of the reality. If therefore I give but a plain statement of events as they occurred, hard and dry do not suppose that they were witnessed with even seeming indifference. Now when thinking of it my heart pauses in its pulsations and the breath comes thick and short or comes not at all for minutes, minutes in which are compressed the experiences of years, age, of a life time. And yet the work is not finished. of So much of it as is done I send you the history.
August 3d 1864. Scarcely had I sealed my letters home this afternoon, before the order was given for our boats to get under way. One after another they took up "the line of march" the "Laura" in the lead. Four gun boats had preceded us and in the distance we could see them already anchored in position to cover the landing of our tropps should the rebels offer opposition. By five o'clock we came to a halt and soon the beach was lined with "boys in blue." We have a negro regiment with us and to them belongs the credit of being first ashore and ready for marching orders. The landing was made upon Dauphin island, upon the extreme eastern end of which is Ft. Gaines, the possession of which we very much covet. Just as the sun went down the last of the troops were landed and set out for the woods which cover the island about two miles from us. As they advanced the Gun boats shelled the woods to drive out any rebels that might be lurking there. The evening ended as have they all since our arrival with a heavy storm of wind and rain. I stood upon the wheel house enjoying the breeze which covered me with salt spray and watched the waves roll past their tops a mass of foam now lit up by the flashes of lightning now lost in the blackness of darkness which followed, until the descending rain drove me below.
Aug. 4 1864. Was awakened before daylight by the thumping and grinding of our boat and found her aground almost under the guns of Ft. Gaines where the General's venturesome spirit had brought us. However we got off without damage and when I again awoke we were safely tied up to the monitor "Chickasaw." About three miles to our right and front was Fort Morgan, two miles away towards our left Ft. Gaines, and cruising in the harbor carrying troops from Ft. Powell to Forts Morgan and Gaines were five or six rebel craft. About Eleven o'clock as two boats lay at the pier at Ft. Gaines, the Monitor Winnebago steamed out to get a shot at them, but they did not wait for a salute. Not to be entirely disappointed, she fired a few shot at the fort and received a few in return but "without damage to either side". During this performance, we sailed over to the island and landed the General who wished to examine the position of our troops. He was gone until late this evening and we took him on board from the north side of the island whither we had gone during his absence. He tells us the fleet makes their attack in the morning so while our boat is steaming back to a position where we can witness the affair I go to bed for a good sleep.
Friday Aug 5/64. Rose at half past five and roused Maj. Beaham who joined
us last night, having arrived from New Orleans by Steamer "Alliance." As
soon as dressed we were on the Wheel house glasses in hand watching with
many misgivings the fleet which was slowly steaming in towards Ft. Morgan.
The design was to run past the Ft. capture the rebels vessels inside the
harbor where the Forts would be cut off there from all hope of relief and
we could wait patiently until empty stomachs compelled their surrender. It
was a beautiful sight to see the vessels coming in decked as if for a
holiday [strike out: decked] with flags innumerable. The order of battle
was first the monitors, the double turreted "Winnebago" in the lead
followed by the single turreted "Tecumseh" and "Manhattan" and then the
double turreted "Chickasaw." After these came twelve steamer frigates
locked two and two, the Admiral's flagship the "Hartford" with her consort
taking the lead the others following, leaving between each pair a distance
of about three hundred yards. The fleet in going in passed between us and
the fort we laying about two miles off Ft. Morgan and about one from Ft.
Gaines. The sun was hidden under clouds, the air was damp and heavy though
very clear, the wind setting in directly towards Fort M. a circumstance
which was vastly in our favor, as we afterwards saw. From our position we
could see everything with the perfect distinctness even to the men moving
about in the fort. At seven o'clock precisely Ft. Morgan opened with her
heavy rifled guns and the fleet gave back as good as she got. Just within
the harbor were drawn up the rebel ram Tennessee, the Gunboats Morgan,
Gaines, and one other name unknown. The Tennessee is built after the
"Merrimac" pattern and is by far the most formidable of the four though
the Morgan proved to be no mean antagonist. Until the Monitors came
abreast of the fort no attention was paid them all the rebel shots being
directed upon the wooden vessels, but as soon as they came abreast, the
storm burst. The "Tecumseh" was in the lead having passed by the
"Winnebago". It was like the battle of the gods. The monitors fired slowly
as they came up and the ring of their armor could be heard as the rebel
shot struck and were shaken off harmlessly into the sea. It was a vast
forge and the monitors were the anvils, And now the "Tecumseh" was inside
the harbor heading for the "Tennessee", the "Winnebago" was breasting the
storm, the "Manhattan" thundered with her fifteen inch guns, the
"Chicasaw" received her baptism by fire, and the "Hartford" with her
consort were delivering broadside after broadside into the fort at five
hundred yards range. And the fort was wide awake. Shell after shell we saw
plunge through the wooden vessels and vessel after vessel came up and
added her roaring to the din already infernal. Clouds of smoke now hid the
fort from view, but the shell still issued shrieking from out the fog and
dropping shot beat the sea to foam. Now we turned again to the gallant
little monitor "Tecumseh." The "Tennessee" was waiting grimly, her
chimneys smoking like the bottomless pit. We were breathlessly awaiting
the shock of the meeting of the representatives of rebel and loyal "iron
clad genius" when under the bow of the "Tecumseh" the sea heaved up
lifting her almost bodily out of the water and in less than five seconds
she was bottom side up and had gone with her crew to her ocean grave. A
torpedo had done what naught else could accomplish. And we, our hearts
stopped still and a groan of agony arose from all, cheeks paled that fear
had never blanched, and eyes were turned away as if to shut out the
terrible vision. But the work had only commenced and we looked again. A
little boat appeared bearing three or four men those who had by some means
escaped, and they made their way to one of the tugs outside which were
following the fleet to pick up those who might be thus cast adrift. I
looked at my watch. It was eight o'clock. One hour was gone. With almost
an agony of fear we turned to the fleet again. Blinded by the smoke which
the wind drove directly into the gunmen's eyes the rebel fire was somewhat
slackened aided too by the canister thrown from twelve pound howitzers
which were stationed in the main top half way up the main mast of each
vessel. Up above the smoke our boys could look down into the fort and
deliver their fire from their gun in the air with murderous aim. In
fifteen minutes from the sinking of the "Tecumseh" all the fleet was past
the fort and within the harbor, apparently not seriously damaged. Now all
the rebel boats save the "Tennessee" ran away and she was left alone to
measure strength with fifteen vessels. Steaming down towards the
"Hartford" which as soon as she entered the harbor had cast loose from her
consort, she seemed determined to run her down but two broadsides checked
her and put her on the retreat. Sending one monitor in pursuit the rest of
the fleet put in towards fort Powell, but after exchanging a few shots
hauled off to take breath. But they were not yet to rest in peace. At
nine, with a spirit worthy of a better cause, the ram returned the monitor
following, and without hesitation she dashed into the midst of the fleet
and struck out right and left. It was conquer or die and for an hour she
maintained the unequal contest. Three monitors, twelve vessels of war,
with 100, 200 Pound Parrots, 8, 11 & 15 inch guns all concentrating
their fire upon one vessel. With vigor she replied, coolly deliberately,
exciting even our sympathy by the bravery with which she encountered such
fearful odds. But the end came. At five minutes past ten she surrendered
and was taken in tow by our boats. The gunboat Morgan steamed off under
the guns of Ft. Morgan where for the present she is safe. The surrender of
the ram virtually ended the days work. Though throughout the fight we had
lain within range of the forts but we were not molested. Not a shot was
fired at us. After the surrender of the ram a little two masted Steamer
lying near us either having orders to make the attempt or anxious to equal
the performance of her predecessors, undertook to run past the fort to the
fleet inside. But in passing the fort she got aground and the rebels soon
riddled her with shell. Eight or ten shots passed through her bursting her
boilers, breaking her wheels & engine and damaging her generally. Her
crew put off in boats to one of our tugs leaving her to her fate. Soon it
was plain that the "Morgan" was coming out to try to tow her under the
guns of the fort and as that would bring us if we kept our position too
near our "erring bretheren" for safety we retreated. The rebel boat could
not reach her however but sent out a yawl with a few men who set her on
fire and she was totally destroyed. And this sums up our list of
disasters. Of seventeen vessels, fifteen are now quietly at anchor inside
the harbor and a dispatch from Adm. Admiral Farragut just recieved states
his loss to be but 17 killed. God was with the right. The commander of the
rebel fleet Adm. Buchanan had his leg shot off during the action and is a
prisoner in our hands. Another dispatch says the rebels sent out and
rescued two boat loads of men from the "Tecumseh" who were taken into fort
Morgan thus reducing our loss there. We spent the afternoon in unloading
heavy guns, ammunition, &c with which to operate on Ft. Gaines to take
which is the General's share of the work. Maj. B and I were sent ashore
J. Gordon Taylor, letter to Ma, 8 August 1864, Folder 1, Box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Letters, Duggan Library, Hanover College, Hanover, Indiana.
August 8th 1864.
I have to improve every opportunity of sending letters home especially as events follow each other with such rapidity that to delay any would require me to hire a secretary. As you see by my heading the "flag of our union" floats over Ft. Gaines and we have a free passage now from the sea to Mobile. But I will give you a brief history of the affair. My last left the fleet safely within the harbor without means of retracing their steps except by the same fiery path.
August 6th 1864. When I arose this morning, went ashore and took a bath in the surf in watering place style which was very refreshing. We learned that last night the "Morgan" escaped to sea. She is a very formidable vessel capable of doing great damage to our commerce. She is an iron side wheel steamer plated over her machinery and boilers with four inches of iron, and her speed is about twelve miles per hour. This afternoon a dispatch came saying Ft. Powell is avacuated and shortly after another saying "Our flag floats over Ft. Powell." The rebels spiked the guns and blew the whole affair to utter ruin. It contains eighteen guns which we shall put in order and remove to some serviceable place, as the fort even if in good condition is of no use to us in our position. Nor could it be to the rebels for which reason they left it. Still it opens to us a free passage to the fleet inside without putting us under fire and is thus a great advantage. A deserter came in today from Ft. Gaines. He says the garrison is composed mostly of boys and does not think they will make much of a fight. He also says the rebels planted about 1500 torpedoes in the harbor but if his statement is true they proved of little service.
August 7th 1864 This morning the Fort sent out a flag of truce to the fleet with propositions to surrender the fort. Accordingly hostilities ceased and all day long negotiations have been in progress. About four o'clock the General went over to the Admiral's flag ship to hold a consultation with him in regard to the subject and Maj. B and myself went with him. While the General attended to business we went over to inspect the ram Tennessee. I was perfectly amazed at her strengths. She is built up like the roof of a house somewhat with sloping sides. Her armor is first — beginning on the inside, three inches of oak, then sixteen inches of yellow pine, covered with iron slabs three inches thick arranged perpendicularly, then with two inch slabs laid at right angles to the first and lastly one inch slabs paralell with the first which form the outer covering. Her armament is eight seven inch rifled guns Brooke Pattern throwing a shell of 128 Pounds. Inside she is much more cool and roomy, better lighted and ventilated than are our monitors and Judging from the effects of the shot upon her I should say she is equally as invulnerable. Upon her stern I counted nine shot dents all of them made by the 11 inch guns of the Chickasaw. The shot being solid and of cast steel weighing about 300 pounds. While these had all dented her armor badly none had penetrated her at all. The cause of her surrender was the shooting away of her steering apparatus and the wounding of her commander. On her left side were numerous marks of shot and here was the only place where a shot had penetrated. It was a 15 inch shot weighing 400 pounds and was fired from the monitor Manhattan at a distance of about ten feet. It made a hole in her about the size of an old fashioned bushel basket. The "Hartford" gave a broadside of thirteen nine inch guns all at once from a distance of about fifteen feet but they all glanced off like hail from the house top not damaging her in the least. The Hartford, the Metacomet, and the Lackawana tried then to ram her down but their butting was equally as harmless as their shot. During the action she lost but one man killed and her commander wounded, while Admiral Farragut himself told me he lost more men fighting the Tennessee than he did in passing the fort. He said had he known her strength before entering the harbor he would have felt far less confident as to success, nor would he now undertake to fight her single handed. She can make seven miles an hour which is better speed than can be coaxed out of our iron clads. But on our side the monitors came off unscathed save the one which was sunk. The shot fell from their iron sides harmless nor was a bolt started or a plate injured. We captured also the Steamboat "Saturn" entirely uninjured. She is a partially plated wooden vessel carrying eight seven inch rifled guns and is a great acquisition to our fleet. The Gaines was disabled and now lies under the guns of Ft. Morgan. The gunboat Morgan we now find out did not escape to sea but ran up to Mobile so that we have a chance at her yet. Our loss in the passage was about 240 killed and wounded about 75 of who, were drowned on board the Tecumseh. The Hartford had twenty-three shot into into her of which one alone killed ten and wounded eight at one gun. One of our vessels the name of which I have forgotten had her boilers exploded by a shell during the passage and a number of men were scalded to death. She was the only one of our vessels seriously injured. We left the "Hartford" about twelve o'clock. The papers for the surrender of the fort having been signed and the time for the ceremony set for eight o'clock tomorrow morning. On our return to our boat we stopped at Ft. Powell and scrambled over the ruins in the dark while we waited for a boat to take us to our own vessel.
August 8th 1864. Promptly at eight we landed at the pier of Ft Gaines where yesterday we dare not venture. The navy officers who were to share in the performance were already on the ground. Our troops were drawn up in line outside the fort, with colors flying, while the guns were manned and ready to salute our flag as it was run up the flag staff. The rebels in their grey were drawn up opposite our line and at the order stacked their arms and became prisoners of war. The rolls were already prepared and Capt. Avery Maj. B and myself had to verify them to see that they were correct. This kept us busy until about two o'clock when we "counted our chickens" 813 in number. They were immediately put on boats and started for New Orleans. In the fort were several months provisions 30 guns with ammunition amd various other plunder which was transferred to its proper owner. The Rebels were very much mortified and took their fate very hard. But they were in the position of "Davy Crockett's coon" and "had to come down". Of the fort I can give no description at present as the day was terribly hot and when I had finished my work I had such a headache that I did not run around any more than I could help. I shall visit it for pleasure soon and will take notes. — Here is the boat for letters and I must say good bye, will write again in a day or two. Give love to all. All well
George Perkins to Emma A. Taylor, 29 April 1866, folder
9, box 1, Elias Riggs Monfort Collection, Duggan Library, Hanover
College (Hanover, Ind.).
Transcription by Lia Springer, HC 2019, and smv.
(Return to the contents list.)
Walnut Hills April 29th 1866
Miss Emma A Taylor
I suppose your heart beats with Joy as you think of the fue
brief day until you will be again with friends at home But when you come
it will be to find that another friend of the past has gone into the
unknown night. Lizzie [Ballentine?] is dead. Her spirit [strikeout:
winged] commenced its eternal flight to those immortal realms where she
shall take her place with kindred spirits of a spotless mould in mansions
of perpetual day. at [7?] oclock Saturday night. Profits Poets &
historians all tell us to keep our eyes steadily forward but when sweet
memories cluster round our hearts & fierce reminders bring up friends
of the past we feel we feel it a duty as well as a privilege to
[strikeout: look] give them a fue last thoughts e'er their brighter images
fade from the scroll of memory . Our mutual friend was one of those almost
perfect characters [strike out: of love?] whose virtues blaze up with
living lights as her spirit takes its flight. "None knew her but to love
her" She has followed her old friend Mary Tracy. Two Spirits that
could not live apart. Two of the three that that [sic] buckled on my
sword & sent me forth to strike in freedom's name. They bade me
fair well trembling for my safety and yet the fierce spirit of the glass
scythe came first to their door, and ruthlessly severed the vital
cord. [strike out: they took the flowers and left the rugged
stump.] How sad it is to see one so young cut down in the bloom of
her beauty one whose character was so free [in?] design while thousands of
Earth's vilest offsprings live in luxurious ease, poluting the very air we
breath with their foul breath.
Tis sad to think the fairest flowers are first severed from the parent stem. The most beautiful bud e'er it unfolds its truest beauty is snatched away only to droop & die. I sometimes feel like I never would cultivate another new acquaintence. I have lost so many by death in the last year. and the more I see pass from 'death to life' with that child like purity that [supiness?] of simplest love the more perplexed I am the deeper I sink into the mine of hopeless unbelief or rather of disappointed hope of ever reaching that goal.
My dear friend the last year of my life has a [surcease?] of
continual mental pains & heart aches. I feel like Phillip Nolan
(the man without a Country) a man without an aim. I do not know but
I am recovering and yet I some times think I enjoy Solitude & thought
of sadness more than peace. I am like the prisoner of Chillon "my
prison is my home." Oh it is a fearfull thing to be with out a
religion and yet why should that all wise Creator Curse us with the power
of reason and give us so many arguments against the true religion.
I go [out in company?] once or twice a week and I am the
gayest of the gay. In fact I revel in absurdities, the modern idea
of social enjoyment and then betake me to my room to Curse the world and
all thats in it. They flattery [sic] me very much in the hill. the
every [sic] say I am the life of their society, and perhaps I flatter them
in return. I do it with a vengence. If they have any dogs I
shoot them [or?] tell them. "for their death let Justice be accused"
Em I am some times afraid I shall go Crazy. I have sat
in my room at night or after I had retired letting my thoughts take their
own direction until I became so excited that my pulse would throb
painfully, and rest disturbed until from [meer?] fatigue I would give way
to tired nature's sweet restorer balmy sleep and oh what a blessing sleep
is to the wearied soul. "God bless the man that first invented
sleep" is my frequent prayer
Ike Spining will be married May 1st -- & Maggie will be
a brides maid. He has done well both pecuniarily & [strike out:
for] matrimonialy. Frank will go to St. Louis. abut the 10th
of May & from there to Kansas.
I have a notion this summer to sit down & write a novel of my past experience. there are several little periods which if written properly would read well. would you purchace a copy to help me support my self