Monthly Archives: August 2018


When the Tenth Indiana was recruited in the fall of 1861, they took for their drummer a little fellow, named Johnny McLaughlin, whose parents reside at Lafayette, Indiana. He was then a little over ten years of age, and beat his tattoo at the head of the regiment for several months of active service.

At Donelson and at Shiloh, when the drum-beats were drowned in the deeper roar of battle, Johnny laid down his sticks, and taking the musket and cartridge box from a dead soldier, went out to the front, and fought as bravely as the stoutest soldier in the regiment. Escaping unhurt in each of these engagements, he was enamoured of soldier life, and sought a transfer from the infantry to Col. Jacob’s Kentucky cavalry. Being favorably impressed with the spirit and zeal of the young warrior, Col. Jacob put him into his best company, and mounted him on a good horse. At the engagement at Richmond, which soon followed, in the summer of 1862, he fought with as much coolness and skill as any of his company, handling his sabre, revolver, and revolving rifle with the address of a veteran.

In October following, he was in another battle, at Perryville, where he received his first wound, a ball passing through the leg above the knee.

In this engagement Col. Jacob, with a part of his command, was temporarily separated from the greater part of the regiment, and while thus cut off was attacked by a largely superior force of the enemy, led by a Major. Col. Jacob was deliberating for a moment on the demand to surrender, when the little hero drew his pistol and shot the Major in the mouth, killing him instantly. a few moments of confusion and delay followed in the rebel regiment, during which Col. Jacob and his men escaped.

A few weeks after, he was engaged in a skirmish with some of John Morgan’s men, who were raiding through Kentucky, and the fighting was severe.

Johnny was set upon by a strapping fellow, who gave him a pretty severe cut on the leg with his sabre, and knocked him off his horse. A moment after, another rebel seized him by the collar, and exclaimed: “We’ve got one d—d little Yankee, anyhow.” The little Yankee did not see it in that light, however, and quickly drawing his pistol, shot his captor dead, and a moment after the rebels were routed, and he escaped capture.

As he was going back to Indiana on furlough to give his wound time to heal, he was stopped at one point by a provost guard, and his pass demanded.

“O,” said he, “the Colonel didn’t give me one, but just told me to go along with the rest. But, “added the little soldier, showing his wound, “here’s a pass the rebs gave me; ain’t that good enough for a little fellow like me?” The guard thought it was.

His wound proved quite serious, and, much to his surprise, and against his wishes, he received his discharge in consequence of this and his extreme youthfulness. Not relishing civil life as long as the hostilities lasted, he applied at the recruiting office, but the condition of his leg excluded him.

Nothing daunted, however, he sought and obtained an interview with the President, who on hearing the story of the boyish veteran, gave a special order for his enlistment.

He had now made up his mind to follow the life of a soldier, and joined the regular army of the United States as a bugler in the cavalry service, and makes as fine-looking, neat, and obedient a little dragoon as there is in the army.

Originally posted 2008-08-07 20:03:14.

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A Southern writer, in recounting the incidents of the battle of Bull Run, says:

Our regiment by this time had come in reach of the enemy’s cannon. The balls fell before and behind us, but no damage was done. We now threw our knapsacks away to engage in a hand-to-hand fight. We ran to the point at which the fire seemed to be most severe. Advancing in front of the cannon, we got within musket-shot of our enemy, and fell to the ground, having a slight mound to protect us. Had we been standing, scarcely one would have been left. Twice did the cannon-balls throw dirt upon me, and musket-balls whistled by the hundred within a few inches of my head. Several of our regiment (18th Virginia) were killed, but the exact number I know not. Young Hatchett was wounded, but not seriously, the ball entering his leg. Men would raise their heads a few inches from the ground to peep, and several times were shot in that position. Men fell on my right and left. We remained about ten minutes receiving the enemy’s fire, and were not allowed to return fire. The command to fire came at last. We rose and fired with deadly effect upon our foes. We rushed forward to the top of the hill and fired again; also a third time. Now, for the first time, the foe began to retire in a run, and in great disorder. I think that a great majority of the regiment upon which we fired were killed. No boasting,—God forbid! to him all praise is due. At our approach the enemy left an excellent rifled battery, manned by regulars, in our hands. They fought until all their horses were killed, and nearly every man. We were now left victors of the field, and started in pursuit of the foe. We followed them a mile or so, and were then brought back within a mile or so, and were then brought back within a mile of Manassas, marching at night a distance of six or seven miles. The fight lasted eight hours–from nine to five. I cannot describe the horrors of the fight. Noise and confusion of many kinds prevailed–the firing of cannon, the discharge of musketry, the whizzing of balls, the bursting of bombs, the roar of artillery, the tramp of horses, the advance of infantry, the shouts of the conquering, the groans of the dying, the shrieks of the wounded, large numbers of the dead lying upon the ground, the carrying of the wounded by scores, and all enveloped in a dark cloud of smoke,–all go to make one vast spectacle of horrors such as I never wish to see again, or hear. Many were the dead and wounded over which I was forced to pass, both of our men and of our foes. O, how I wanted to aid them, but could not! The fight was desperate. The enemy succeeded in carrying off hundreds of their dead, but left many behind. Our cavalry, who pursued them in the direction of Centreville, report the road strewn with dead and wounded.

Our enemies are not cowards. Many men were found with bayonets in them, some side by side, each with his bayonet in the other. Our enemy is said to have run generally when we advanced with the bayonet. Certainly this was the worst of the fight. Gen. Beauregard, who commanded in person, told us that he would depend principally upon the bayonet. Gen. B. cheered us as we advanced, and our loud cheers in return were said to have frightened the enemy.

Originally posted 2008-08-06 15:41:59.

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A correspondent writing from Jasper county, Mississippi, gave the following:

Mrs. Simmons, a widow lady of Jasper county, Mississippi, made, during one year of the war, (1863), 300 bushels of corn, 100 bushels of potatoes, with peas and pinders enough to fatten her hogs. She did the ploughing herself, and did it with an old wind-broken pony. Her two little daughters, aged twelve and fourteen years, did the hoeing. She also made 100 pounds of tobacco. After her crop was finished, she did weaving enough to buy her salt, and a pair of cards, and had some money left.

Originally posted 2008-08-05 18:34:40.

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One of the Ninth Missouri was so enraged, on the second day of the battle, at seeing his brother, a member of the same regiment, horribly butchered and scalped, that he swore vengeance against the Indians, and for the remainder of the day devoted his attention entirely to them, concealing himself behind threes, and fighting in their fashion. An excellent marksman, he would often creep along the ground to obtain a better range; and then woe to the savage who exposed any part of his body. When he had shot an Indian, he would shout with delicious joy: “There goes another red-skin to ____. Hurrah for the Stars and Stripes, and _____all Indians!” Though ever following the wily foe, and though fired upon again and again, he received not a scratch; and on his return to camp, after nightfall, bore with him nine scalps of aboriginal warriors, slain by his own hand to avenge his brother’s death.

A German soldier, in the Thirty-fifth Illinois, met with two very narrow escapes in fifteen minutes, while Gen. Carr’s division was contending so vigorously against the enemy in Cross-Timber Hollow. He wore earrings for the benefit of his eyes, and a musket-ball cut one of them in two, (the broken segments still remaining,) and passed into the shoulder of the Second Lieutenant of the company. Ten minutes after, during a temporary lull in the strife, while the German was relating the story of his escape, a bullet whistled by, carrying the other ring with it, and abrading the skin of his ear, without doing further harm. Such are the vagaries of fate, and the mysterious shiftings on the battle-field between life and death.

One of the Texas soldiers was advancing with his bayonet upon a Lieutenant of the Ninth Iowa, whose sword had been broken. The officer saw his intention, avoided the thrust, fell down at his foeman’s feet, caught hold of his legs, threw him heavily to the ground, and before he could rise, drew a long knife from his adversary’s belt, and buried it in his bosom. The Texan, with dying grasp, seized the Lieutenant by the hair, and sank down lifeless, bathing the brown leaves with his blood. So firm was the hold of the nerveless hand, that it was necessary to cut the hair from the head of the officer before he could be freed from the corpse of the foe.

Presentiments on the battle-field often prove prophetic. Here is an instance: While Col. Osterhaus was gallantly attacking the centre of the enemy, on the second day, a Sergeant of the Twelfth Missouri requested the Captain of his company to send his wife’s portrait, which he had taken from his bosom, to her address in St. Louis, with his dying declaration that he thought of her in his last moments. “What is that for?” asked the Captain. “You are not wounded–are you?” “No,” answered the Sergeant; “but I know I shall be killed to-day. I have been in battle before, but I never felt as I do now. A moment ago I became convinced my time had come; but how, I cannot tell. Will you gratify my request? Remember, I speak to you as a dying man.” “Certainly, my brave fellow; but you will live to a good old age with your wife. Do not grow melancholy over a fancy or a dream.” “You will see,” was the response. The picture changed hands. The Sergeant stepped forward to the front of the column, and the Captain perceived him no more. At the camp-fire that evening the officer inquired for the Sergeant. He was not present. He had been killed three hours before by a grape-shot from one of the enemy’s batteries.

While the fight was raging about Miser’s farm-house, on the ridge, on Friday morning, a soldier, belonging to the Twenty-fifth Missouri, and a member of a Mississippi company, became separated from their commands, and found each other climbing the same fence. the rebel had one of those long knives made of a file, which the South has so extensively paraded, but so rarely used, and the Missourian had one also, having picked it up on the field. The rebel challenged his enemy to a fair, open combat with the knife, intending to bully him, no doubt; and the challenge was promptly accepted. The two removed their coats, rolled up their sleeves, and began. The Mississippian had more skill, but his opponent more strength, and consequently the latter could not strike his enemy, while he received several cuts on the head and breast.

The blood began trickling down the Unionist’s face, and, running into his eyes, almost blinded him. The Union man became desperate, for he saw the secessionist was unhurt. He made a feint; the rebel leaned forward to arrest the blow, but employing too much energy, he could not recover himself at once. The Missourian perceived his advantage, and knew he could not lose it. In five seconds more it would be too late. His enemy, glaring at him like a wild beast, was on the eve of striking again. Another feint; another dodge on the rebel’s part; and then the blade of the Missourian, hurled through the air, fell with tremendous force upon the Mississippian’s neck. The blood spirted from the throat, and the head fell over, almost entirely severed from the body. Ghastly sight! too ghastly even for the doer of the deed! He fainted at the spectacle, weakened by the loss of his own blood, and was soon after butchered by a Seminole, who saw him sink to the earth.

On Saturday morning, a body of three or four hundred Indians was discovered on the north side of Sugar Creek, below the curve of a hill, firing from thick clusters of post-oaks into three or four companies of Arkansas soldiers, marching in McCulloch’s division towards the upper part of the ridge. The Major of the battalion, seeing this, hallowed out to them that they were firing upon their own friends, and placed his white handkerchief on his sword, and waved it in the air.

The Indians either did not see, or did not care for, the flag of truce, but poured two volleys into the Arkansans, killing, among others, the Major himself. The presumption then was, that the Cherokees had turned traitors; and the secession soldiers were immediately ordered to charge upon them. The did so, and for an hour a terrible fight ensued among the oaks between them and their late savage allies, in which it is stated some two hundred and fifty were killed and wounded on both sides. The Indians suffered severely, as they were driven from their hiding-places, and shot and butchered without mercy. A person who witnessed this part of the fight says it was the most bloody and desperate that occurred on the field, being conducted with the most reckless and brutal energy by the two parties, of whom it would be difficult to say which was the most barbarous. On the dead savages were found, in some instances, two or three scalps fastened to their belts by thongs of leather.

Originally posted 2008-08-04 15:57:01.

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