Monthly Archives: July 2009


On the morning of a battle near Harper’s Ferry, after a sermon by one of his chaplains, Stonewall Jackson, who was an elder in the Presbyterian Church, administered the sacrament to the church members in his army. He invited all Christians to participate in the ceremony. A Baptist, the straitest of his sect, thoroughly imbued with the idea of close communion, was seen to hesitate; but the occasion, and the man who presided, overcame his scruples; and thus it has happened that the prospect of a fight and the eloquence of Jackson made a Baptist forget that baptism is the door into the church. In all Jackson’s army an oath was rarely uttered. A religious enthusiasm pervaded it, which made every man a hero. Conscious of the justice of his cause, and imbued with the strongest convictions of patriotism, his men were irresistible. In this incident we have an explanation of General Jackson’s invincibility; and we are thus enabled to understand why his men were heroes, and why they endured without a murmur the severest hardships to which any troops were subjected during the war.

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In the early days of the rebellion, ere the keen edge of Southern chivalry was blunted by contact with the mudsills of the North, Buck Travis raised a regiment among the young bloods of Henry County, in West Tennessee. The regiment was organized by the election of Travis as Colonel, and the celebrated J. D. C. Atkins as Lieutenant-Colonel. Travis lost no time in putting himself at the head of his gallant band, and “starting forth on martial deeds intent,” they approached Union City, Tennessee, just at the time when Pillow was transferring military stores, ordnance, &c., to Columbus, Kentucky. They arrived at the depot simultaneously with a train from the South, bearing several pieces of artillery. These, by some strange mistake, were at once seized by Travis as Lincoln guns, and a telegram was immediately sent to Atkins, who had remained behind at Paris, announcing the brilliant achievement. The despatch was handed to him on the Square, surrounded by a crowd of citizens. He glanced at its contents, and looked around for the most eligible site for a rostrum. Discovering a pile of boxes on the corner, he made for them, followed by the eager crowd. Mounting the box, he lifted his voice and announced the glorious intelligence. “My countrymen!” he said, “this is a proud day for Henry County and for the State. I am proud to announce to you that your gallant sons, under the lead of the indomitable Travis, have already wreathed their brows with an imperishable fame. The murderous artillery with which the tyrant Lincoln sought to enslave our people, has been wrested from the tyrant’s hands, and—” Here another despatch was handed to the speaker, and he was heard to remark, with an oath, “Buck always was a d—d fool. Boys, them was our guns, after all.”

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Chaplain Ganter, of the Fifteenth Ohio regiment, gives the following account of the fight that took place near Camp George, Wood, Kentucky, on the 17th of December, 1861.

“The noted Texas Rangers have been for some time dodging, sneaking, dashing about us in a desperate manner. Sunday last we had a skirmish with them in which Colonel Willich had two men wounded and one sergeant taken prisoner. Yesterday (Tuesday, 17th,) Colonel Willich sent over one or two companies to watch them. About noon the trumpeter came to the bank on the opposite side of the river and blew the signal for reenforcements. Immediately four or five companies (of Colonel Willich’s regiment) crossed the river at double-quick (across the bridge which they had just completed). They ran in eagerness to fight, stimulated to rage, to revenge their wounded comrades of Sunday last. When they crossed the river they deployed as skirmishers and double-quicked it over fences, through the woods, when all at once one of their men cried halt, and seeing a horse in the woods near by, he fired, and the horse fell. Immediately a yell echoed through the woods, and about one hundred and fifty Rangers issued forth, and came within ten feet of the muzzles of the guns of our men. Here they halted, and did not stir or budge one inch until each one of their number had fired fourteen shots, being armed with a pair of revolvers and double shot gun apiece. But while this was going on our men were not idle. Rangers dropped–Rangers yelled, groaned, and cursed–horses Rangerless, riderless, were galloping in all directions. When the Rangers had performed their shooting in a cool, careless way, they just as coolly turned round and retired. They had no sooner disappeared, and our men were once more advancing–than another company of Rangers galloped up, and performed the same remarkable fourteen-shot feat in the same cool, determined manner, and were met by the same sturdy, brave German square. Once more Rangers and Germans mingled dying groans–when at length, after the Rangers had gone through this exact programme several times, three or four hundred of them made one grand rush, with the evident intention of breaking the German carrere, or square. They came up with the same dash, and fired their shots with the same apparent neglect of life–some were literally lifted from their horses on the point of the bayonet–some were knocked off with butts of the guns. It became a hand-to-hand fight–Rangers retreating and Germans following up. Lieutenant Saxe at this point of the fight was somewhat in advance. He was surrounded by Rangers–they asked him to surrender–but instead of replying he rushed at the man who made this request, but before he reached the object of his attack dropped dead in his tracks, receiving five bullets in the chest and about twenty buckshot in the abdomen. Then the struggle became fiercer and hotter, when all at once the Germans found themselves in a net. On the right came the firing from concealed infantry; on the left the boom of cannon from a masked battery startled the heroes. Seven hundred cavalry at once came into view in front. We could see the whole affair from the high bluff on this side of Green River. Reenforcements were hurried across–Cotter’s batteries opened from our bluff–Germans slowly, but unwillingly, retired to the woods, and just by chance, the merest in the world, escaped from a dreadful slaughter. The Forty-ninth Ohio and the Thirty-ninth Indiana formed in line of battle, and double-quicked it over the field; but the enemy had retired. Now let me give you the results and objects of this fight; and what I tell you may be relied upon, especially with regard to numbers. Our loss was eleven killed, twenty-one wounded, and five missing (when I say wounded, I mean severely). Among the killed was one officer, Lieutenant Saxe, a Jew, an old country soldier, and a brave man. The loss of the enemy (I am giving you the lowest figures) was thirty-three killed; wounded we cannot positively tell, for they were all carried off the field. Colonel Terry, their brave and celebrated Colonel of Rangers, was killed. And now with regard to numbers engaged: We had about five hundred men (all of Colonel Willich’s command) actually engaged at one time or another. They had seven hundred Rangers, one regiment of infantry (six hundred men), and four cannon. The fight: well, you may judge from my description, that there was ‘no discount’ on that from either side. The Germans acknowledge that they never saw ‘Regular Cavalry’ in the old country wars, surpass the Rangers in daring, bravery, and apparent insensibility to danger and death. They describe them as swarthy complexioned, a mixture of creoles, trappers, desperadoes, with long hair and shaggy whiskers, and even when lying wounded upon the ground exhibiting the fierceness of a wounded tiger. I visited all the wounded to-day. Number one has his ear shot off, number two is minus the bridge of his nose, four or five wounded in the arms, four or five in the legs, four in the chest, one in the abdomen, another has a quantity of buckshot in his side. I saw the latter gentleman as the doctor was cutting out the shot. He remarked ‘tat dey didn’t shoot mit buckshot in de old country,’ but he hoped the rebels would ‘shoot buckshot all de times.’ They all took great pleasure in explaining their wounds, and most of them did not wince under the doctor’s dressing. One poor fellow comforted himself with the reflection that if he had to lose his leg he would join the cavalry. This morning I went to see the dead; they were laid out in the field, neatly dressed; graves were dug on the top of a knoll, in a semicircle. The regiment formed around them. The Colonel made a speech, and then remarked, ‘that as their brave comrades had fallen in the struggle for human rights and liberty, and were now on their journey to immortality, they would give them three cheers;’ and cheer they did, and then the band played the Marseilles Hymn, and the soldiers marched around the graves, each throwing a handful of earth into each of the graves. No salutes were fired on account of the close proximity of the hospital.”

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Supposed to be written by General John Morgan, on surveying his solitary abode in his cell, in the Ohio Penitentiary at Columbus.

I AM monarch of all I survey;
My right there is none to dispute;
Naked walls, a stone floor, a tin tray,
Iron spoon, checkered pants, and clean suit.

I am out of Jeff. Davis’s reach,
I must finish my journey in stone,
Never hear a big secession speech–
I start at the sound of my own.

O solitude! strange are the fancies
Of those who see charms in thy face;
Better dwell in the midst of the Yankees,
Than reign in this horrible place.

Ye steeds that have made me your sport,
Convey to this desolate cell
Some cordial, endearing report
Of the thefts I have practised so well.

Horse-stealing, bridge-burning, and fight,
Divinely bestowed upon man;
O, had I the wings of a kite,
How soon would I taste you again!

My sorrows I then might assuage
In the work of destruction and raiding;
Might laugh at the wisdom of age,
Nor feel the least pang of upbraiding.

Rebellion! what music untold
Resides in that heavenly word!
It helps me to silver and gold,
And all that the earth can afford.

But the sweet sound of burning and plunder
These prison-walls never yet heard,
Never echoed the chivalry’s thunder,
Nor mocked at the Union’s grand bird.

How fleet is a glance of the mind
Compared with the speed of my flight!
But Shackelford came up behind,
So I found ’twas no use to fight.

The Budkeyes that gave me a race
My form with indifference see;
They are so light of foot on the chase,
Their coolness is shocking to me.

When I think of my dear native land,
I confess that I wish I was there;
Confound these hard stone walls at hand,
And my bald pate, all shaven of hair.

My friends, do they now and then send
A wish or a thought after me?
Like Burbeck, that quick-coming friend?
For a friend in need truly was he.

But the sea-fowl is gone to her rest,
The beast is laid down in his lair;
Yet not like John Morgan unblest,
As I to my straw-bed repair.

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