Monthly Archives: July 2019


A Union soldier, who was in the battle of Piketon, Kentucky, gives the following graphic description of his sensations during the fight:

“And now for my share in the battle. I was riding along, somewhat carelessly, when crack! crack! crack! went their rifles, and down fell our men. Crack! crack! crack! they came. Off I jumped from my horse, when along came the Major, and gave me his horse to hold; but I soon hitched them both to a tree down by the river, and sprung again up the bank, when whiz! went a bullet past my face, about three inches from it, and made me draw back in a hurry, I can assure you. I looked up the hill, but could see no one for the smoke, which was plenty; so I levelled in the direction of the enemy and fired—loaded again and fired. I got my rifle in readiness again! Ah! that ball was pretty close. Here comes another–buzz, buzz–(you can hear their wiz for fully a hundred yards as they come)–get out of the way. But where is it to go to? Whew! that was close. But, great God! it has gone through a man’s shoulder within a few yards of me! He falls! some of his comrades pick him up.

“Now a horseman comes past in a hurry. He is right opposite me–when wiz, crack! a ball strikes his horse in the fore-shoulder. Off tumbles the man; down falls the horse, stiffened out and dead. If the bullet had gone through the animal, it would doubtless have struck me.

“Here come a dozen more. How they whiz as they go past! ‘Load and fire!’ ‘Load and fire!; is the order00and load and fire it is. My notice was especially drawn to a very fine-looking man, who stood close to me, and he truly acted like a hero–loading and firing just as if he was on parade, when whiz! whiz! comes a bullet. My God, how close! It almost stunned me. When I looked towards my soldier, I saw his comrades lifting him up. He was shot through the breast, and died in less than half an hour. O the horrors of war! Vengeance on the heads of those who initiate it.

“I directed my attention up the hill, a little puff of smoke was dying away. ‘Boys,’ says I to the squad of his fellows, ‘you see that smoke; aim for it; a rebel’s in its rear.’ I raised my Enfield, and glanced through its sights, when I for a moment caught sight of a man through the bushes and smoke there. Crack went our guns, and all was over.

“We crossed to the place afterwards, and found musket-balls, and one Enfield rifle-ball–mine, as mine was the only rifle-ball fired. They all went through him, either of which would have killed him–mine through his breast. Thank God, I have done my duty for the poor fellow who fell beside me.

Originally posted 2008-11-21 02:49:55.

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The experience of Col. De Villiers, of the Eleventh Ohio, regiment, who was captured with others, in Western Virginia, in 1861, and conveyed to Richmond, and who afterwards made his escape, is thus detailed:

“Arrived at Richmond, they were taken to a tobacco warehouse, where they found forty other prisoners. In the room there was neither table nor bed. They were kept without food; no breakfast given them the next morning after their arrival–and when, finally, a little bread was brought them, it was thrown upon the floor as to a dog; and the quantity so small, that every man must make double-quick in grabbing it, or he got none, and was compelled to beg from the others. But there were rich officers, who could buy something to eat; for if the rebels did not love the Northerners, they loved their gold. But to shorten, he got the brain fever in prison, and was removed to the hospital; and here the Colonel took occasion to affirm, that the kindness which had been spoken of, as practised by the physicians, was not from rebels, but from our own surgeons.

“Being by profession a physician, Col. De V., when he had sufficiently recovered, was asked by the hospital doctor to assist, which he consented to do; and he was thus permitted to enjoy more liberty. By good fortune, one day the commanding General gave the physicians liberty to go into the city several times. They wore, as a distinguished body, a red ribbon, or badge, fixed in their button-hole. When he encountered the sentinel, he was challenged, and forbidden to pass on the ground of being a prisoner; the order of the General did not include him. Now, as they called him a French Yankee, he thought he would play them a Yankee trick; so he wrote a note stating that he was included. When he returned to the hospital, the rebel physician said he had been practicing deceit, and must consequently go back among the prisoners. He was again incarcerated and put in irons. He soon made up his mind, however, to escape from there, or die. He was asked to take an oath by the rebels; but, said he, ‘I have taken an oath as an naturalized citizen of the United States, and I will never take another to conflict with it.’ He had been tempted by the offer of position, but he abhorred the enemies of this Union, and could never forget that he came here for Liberty’s sake. He told Col. Woodruff of his determination to escape, for his time had come. Col. W. wished him well, and hoped that he would escape. He set about it, and devised a lie, and stole; for which he felt assured he would be forgiven. He stole the coat and hat of a secession officer, and in that garb passed the guard.

“Col. De Villiers, while Brigade Inspector at Camp Dennison, Ohio, learned a lesson from the soldiers who wanted to go to Cincinnati. They were in the habit of lying in the bushes to hear the countersign, and having obtained it, passed the guard. Without the countersign he could not get out of the gate, even with his full uniform. So he lay for about two hours behind the guard-house, (in the night, as should have been stated,) until he was happy by hearing it. The guard called at his approach, ‘Who comes there?’ ‘A friend, with the countersign.’ He passed the guard, the gate was opened, and he was once more free. He made his way to Manassas Junction, which is nothing but a swamp. About six miles from Richmond, he was encountered by a guard, and to his challenge replied, ‘A friend, without the countersign.’ (He had the precaution to lay the double-barrel shot gun, which he contrived to get before he escaped from Richmond, down, before he approached this guard. He had, besides, a revolver and a bowie knife.)

“Approaching, they asked him where he was from and whither he was going. He replied from Richmond to Petersburg. They then asked why he did not take the railroad, and he said he missed the cars. They then took him in custody, and marched one on each side of him upon a narrow bridge crossing a stream near at hand. The situation was desperate, but he was determined never to go back to Richmond alive; so when he got to about the middle of the bridge, he struck to the right and left, knocking one of the guards on one side and the other on the other side, and giving them both a good swim. Hence he made his way towards Petersburg, subsisting for three days upon nothing but a few raw beans, ‘which was not very good for his digestion.’

“Upon this tramp, for a distance of sixty-five miles, he carried his skiff for crossing rivers (a pine board) upon his shoulder. During his travels he was several times shot at. When he got in the neighborhood of Magruder’s forces, his hardest time began. He tried to pass sentinels several times, and at one time was twice shot at for quick succession. He shot too. He did not know whether he hit the two sentinels of not, but they never answered. But the whole brigade was aroused, and he took to the James River in what he called his skiff, viz., his pine-board companion. He landed on the other side in a swamp, recrossing again near Jamestown, where he lost his gun. He had cast away his officer’s coat, and what remained of his suit was rusty enough. So he took an open course, and resolved to ask for work; but like the poor men in the South, when they ask for work, they are told to go into the service. Even the ladies do not look upon a young man, unless he is in the service; viewed from this test, there were more patriots in the South than in the North; they were all soldiers, old and young.

“He hired with a German blacksmith, at $1.50 per week, having concluded to remain a while, and learn something of the condition of the rebel forces. He staid a fortnight, observing all the rebel movements. At the expiration of this time, he got tired of blacksmithing, and wanted to go home. He found a good German Union man, to whom he told his story, without reservation, just as if he was telling it here to-night. This was of great service to him; he led him for nine days, the Colonel having adopted another Yankee trick, and made a blind man of himself; he couldn’t see, and the German was his guide. Dropping the Yankee French, he became a French subject, and wanted to go back to France, because he could not get any work to do here; and so he told Gen. Huger, when he got into his command. This General promised to send him to Fortress Monroe with a flag of truce. The next flag of truce that was sent he accompanied, blind still, and led by his faithful German Union man.

“He contrived, unobserved, to tell the Captain of the flag party that he was a prisoner, a Union officer, and had assumed blindness as a disguise, and that he should take him; but the young officer said he could not understand it, and said he would inform Gen. Wool. He did so, and Wool, being an old soldier, comprehended the matter at once, immediately sending another boat out to bring him; but it was too late, for the rebel officer said it was not worth while waiting on the Yankees, and hastened off. Having lost German guide, Gen. Huger himself led him (the poor old blind man) with unaffected sympathy, to the hotel, and he assured him that he should go with the next flag of truce which was sent; and he further took the trouble of writing a special letter to Gen. Wool about the ‘old French blind man who wanted to go home.’ Col. De Villiers remarked that Gen. Huger evinced true kindness towards him.

“With the flag, there were, besides, a number of ladies, who ‘left the South for the purpose of going North to do business.’ Though he was blind, he could see the glances they exchanged; and though old and somewhat deaf, he could hear the officers tell the ladies to learn all they could, and come back with the information–wishing them much success. ‘It is surprising what fine spies they make!’

“When he got into save quarters, he threw off his disguise, his decrepitude–saw and was strong–observing, without surprise himself, the astonishment of the ladies at the change.”

Originally posted 2008-11-19 22:36:11.

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“Strange as it may seem,” says a soldier, “we made some very pleasant acquaintances among the prisoners we were sent to guard, some of whom we had helped to capture, and cared for when wounded on the field. One rebel–Maj. McKnight, of the rebel Gen. Loring’s staff–was an especial favorite. He was a poet, musician, and joker, and used to run ‘from grave to gay, from lively to severe,’ on almost all matters. I append a little morceau of his, under his nome de plume of Asa Hartz, entitled



My love reposes on a rosewood frame;
A bunk have I;
A couch of feathery down fills up the same;
Mine’s straw, but dry;
She sinks to rest at night with scarce a sigh;
With waking eyes I watch the hours creep by.

My love her daily dinner takes in state,
And so do I;
The richest viands flank her silver plate;
Coarse grub have I;
Pure wines she sips at ease, her thirst to slake;
I pump my drink from Erie’s limpid lake.

My love has all the world at will to roam;
Three acres I;
She goes abroad, or quiet sits at home;
So cannot I.
Bright angels watch around her couch at night;
A Yank, with loaded gun, keeps me in sight.

A thousand weary miles now stretch between
My love and I.
To her this wintry night, cold, calm, serene,
I waft a sigh,
And hope with all my earnestness of soul,
To-morrow’s mail may bring me my parole.

There’s hope ahead! we’ll one day meet again,
My love and I.
We’ll wipe away all tears of sorrow then;
Her love-lit eye
Will all my many troubles then beguile,
And keep this wayward reb from Johnson’s Isle.

Originally posted 2008-11-18 16:03:57.

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We have heard and read a great many stories about the rat; but in all our experience, we never before had one brought before us in the character of a surgeon. At one of our large hospitals, an operation was successfully performed upon an invalid soldier, by a common rat; which the surgeon in charge had himself delayed for a time, with the hope of causing less suffering to the patient. This patient was suffering from the effects of a fracture of the frontal bone of the skull, a piece of which projected outwards to some length; and the healing of the fleshy parts depended upon its removal. The bone was so firmly fixed, however, as, in the opinion of the surgeon, would cause unnecessary pain in its forcible removal; and such remedies were applied as would assist nature in eventually ejecting it. A soothing poultice was placed upon the part a night or two ago, a hole being made through the application for the insertion of the projecting bone. The patient was soon asleep in his bed, but during the night was aroused by the sting of pain, and awoke, to discover a rat making off with the piece of bone in his mouth. He struck at and hit the rat, but did not hurt him. The rat had probably been drawn to the bed of the soldier by the scent of the poultice, which was pleasant to his olfactories; but on reaching it, his keen appetite, no doubt, caused him to relish, in a large degree, the juicy bone so convenient to his teeth. He, therefore, seized, and drew it from its position, and was made to scamper off by the patient, whom he had aroused with pain. It was a skilful operation, quickly performed, and with result beneficially to the invalid.–Petersburg Express.

Originally posted 2008-11-18 00:06:55.

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