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The Red Badge of Courage

The Red Badge of Courage

The Red Badge of Courage was published by Stephen Crane in 1895, when he was 25 years old. He died in 1899.

This is the first Chapter:

Chapter 1
The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting. As the landscape changed from brown to green, the army awakened, and began to tremble with eagerness at the noise of rumors. It cast its eyes upon the roads, which were growing from long troughs of liquid mud to proper thoroughfares. A river, amber-tinted in the shadow of its banks, purled at the army’s feet; and at night, when the stream had become of a sorrowful blackness, one could see across it the red, eyelike gleam of hostile camp-fires set in the low brows of distant hills.

Once a certain tall soldier developed virtues and went resolutely to wash a shirt. He came flying back from a brook waving his garment bannerlike. He was swelled with a tale he had heard from a reliable friend, who had heard it from a truthful cavalryman, who had heard it from his trustworthy brother, one of the orderlies at division headquarters. He adopted the important air of a herald in red and gold.

“We’re goin’ t’ move t’morrah–sure,” he said pompously to a group in the company street. “We’re goin’ ‘way up the river, cut across, an’ come around in behint ’em.”

To his attentive audience he drew a loud and elaborate plan of a very brilliant campaign. When he had finished, the blue-clothed men scattered into small arguing groups between the rows of squat brown huts. A negro teamster who had been dancing upon a cracker box with the hilarious encouragement of twoscore soldiers was deserted. He sat mournfully down. Smoke drifted lazily from a multitude of quaint chimneys.

“It’s a lie! that’s all it is–a thunderin’ lie!” said another private loudly. His smooth face was flushed, and his hands were thrust sulkily into his trouser’s pockets. He took the matter as an affront to him. “I don’t believe the derned old army’s ever going to move. We’re set. I’ve got ready to move eight times in the last two weeks, and we ain’t moved yet.”

The tall soldier felt called upon to defend the truth of a rumor he himself had introduced. He and the loud one came near to fighting over it.

A corporal began to swear before the assemblage. He had just put a costly board floor in his house, he said. During the early spring he had refrained from adding extensively to the comfort of his environment because he had felt that the army might start on the march at any moment. Of late, however, he had been impressed that they were in a sort of eternal camp.

Many of the men engaged in a spirited debate. One outlined in a peculiarly lucid manner all the plans of the commanding general. He was opposed by men who advocated that there were other plans of campaign. They clamored at each other, numbers making futile bids for the popular attention. Meanwhile, the soldier who had fetched the rumor bustled about with much importance. He was continually assailed by questions.

“What’s up, Jim?”

“Th’army’s goin’ t’ move.”

“Ah, what yeh talkin’ about? How yeh know it is?”

“Well, yeh kin b’lieve me er not, jest as yeh like. I don’t care a hang.”

There was much food for thought in the manner in which he replied. He came near to convincing them by disdaining to produce proofs. They grew much excited over it.

There was a youthful private who listened with eager ears to the words of the tall soldier and to the varied comments of his comrades. After receiving a fill of discussions concerning marches and attacks, he went to his hut and crawled through an intricate hole that served it as a door. He wished to be alone with some new thoughts that had lately come to him.

He lay down on a wide bunk that stretched across the end of the room. In the other end, cracker boxes were made to serve as furniture. They were grouped about the fireplace. A picture from an illustrated weekly was upon the log walls, and three rifles were paralleled on pegs. Equipments hung on handy projections, and some tin dishes lay upon a small pile of firewood. A folded tent was serving as a roof. The sunlight, without, beating upon it, made it glow a light yellow shade. A small window shot an oblique square of whiter light upon the cluttered floor. The smoke from the fire at times neglected the clay chimney and wreathed into the room, and this flimsy chimney of clay and sticks made endless threats to set ablaze the whole establishment.

The youth was in a little trance of astonishment. So they were at last going to fight. On the morrow, perhaps, there would be a battle, and he would be in it. For a time he was obliged to labor to make himself believe. He could not accept with assurance an omen that he was about to mingle in one of those great affairs of the earth.

He had, of course, dreamed of battles all his life–of vague and bloody conflicts that had thrilled him with their sweep and fire. In visions he had seen himself in many struggles. He had imagined peoples secure in the shadow of his eagle-eyed prowess. But awake he had regarded battles as crimson blotches on the pages of the past. He had put them as things of the bygone with his thought-images of heavy crowns and high castles. There was a portion of the world’s history which he had regarded as the time of wars, but it, he thought, had been long gone over the horizon and had disappeared forever.

From his home his youthful eyes had looked upon the war in his own country with distrust. It must be some sort of a play affair. He had long despaired of witnessing a Greeklike struggle. Such would be no more, he had said. Men were better, or more timid. Secular and religious education had effaced the throat-grappling instinct, or else firm finance held in check the passions.

He had burned several times to enlist. Tales of great movements shook the land. They might not be distinctly Homeric, but there seemed to be much glory in them. He had read of marches, sieges, conflicts, and he had longed to see it all. His busy mind had drawn for him large pictures extravagant in color, lurid with breathless deeds.

But his mother had discouraged him. She had affected to look with some contempt upon the quality of his war ardor and patriotism. She could calmly seat herself and with no apparent difficulty give him many hundreds of reasons why he was of vastly more importance on the farm than on the field of battle. She had had certain ways of expression that told him that her statements on the subject came from a deep conviction. Moreover, on her side, was his belief that her ethical motive in the argument was impregnable.

At last, however, he had made firm rebellion against this yellow light thrown upon the color of his ambitions. The newspapers, the gossip of the village, his own picturings, had aroused him to an uncheckable degree. They were in truth fighting finely down there. Almost every day the newspaper printed accounts of a decisive victory.

One night, as he lay in bed, the winds had carried to him the clangoring of the church bell as some enthusiast jerked the rope frantically to tell the twisted news of a great battle. This voice of the people rejoicing in the night had made him shiver in a prolonged ecstasy of excitement. Later, he had gone down to his mother’s room and had spoken thus: “Ma, I’m going to enlist.”

“Henry, don’t you be a fool,” his mother had replied. She had then covered her face with the quilt. There was an end to the matter for that night.

Nevertheless, the next morning he had gone to a town that was near his mother’s farm and had enlisted in a company that was forming there. When he had returned home his mother was milking the brindle cow. Four others stood waiting. “Ma, I’ve enlisted,” he had said to her diffidently. There was a short silence. “The Lord’s will be done, Henry,” she had finally replied, and had then continued to milk the brindle cow.

When he had stood in the doorway with his soldier’s clothes on his back, and with the light of excitement and expectancy in his eyes almost defeating the glow of regret for the home bonds, he had seen two tears leaving their trails on his mother’s scarred cheeks.

Still, she had disappointed him by saying nothing whatever about returning with his shield or on it. He had privately primed himself for a beautiful scene. He had prepared certain sentences which he thought could be used with touching effect. But her words destroyed his plans. She had doggedly peeled potatoes and addressed him as follows: “You watch out, Henry, an’ take good care of yerself in this here fighting business–you watch, an’ take good care of yerself. Don’t go a-thinkin’ you can lick the hull rebel army at the start, because yeh can’t. Yer jest one little feller amongst a hull lot of others, and yeh’ve got to keep quiet an’ do what they tell yeh. I know how you are, Henry.

“I’ve knet yeh eight pair of socks, Henry, and I’ve put in all yer best shirts, because I want my boy to be jest as warm and comf’able as anybody in the army. Whenever they get holes in ’em, I want yeh to send ’em right-away back to me, so’s I kin dern ’em.

“An’ allus be careful an’ choose yer comp’ny. There’s lots of bad men in the army, Henry. The army makes ’em wild, and they like nothing better than the job of leading off a young feller like you, as ain’t never been away from home much and has allus had a mother, an’ a-learning ’em to drink and swear. Keep clear of them folks, Henry. I don’t want yeh to ever do anything, Henry, that yeh would be ‘shamed to let me know about. Jest think as if I was a-watchin’ yeh. If yeh keep that in yer mind allus, I guess yeh’ll come out about right.

“Yeh must allus remember yer father, too, child, an’ remember he never drunk a drop of licker in his life, and seldom swore a cross oath.

“I don’t know what else to tell yeh, Henry, excepting that yeh must never do no shirking, child, on my account. If so be a time comes when yeh have to be kilt or do a mean thing, why, Henry, don’t think of anything ‘cept what’s right, because there’s many a woman has to bear up ‘ginst sech things these times, and the Lord ‘ll take keer of us all.

“Don’t forgit about the socks and the shirts, child; and I’ve put a cup of blackberry jam with yer bundle, because I know yeh like it above all things. Good-by, Henry. Watch out, and be a good boy.”

He had, of course, been impatient under the ordeal of this speech. It had not been quite what he expected, and he had borne it with an air of irritation. He departed feeling vague relief.

Still, when he had looked back from the gate, he had seen his mother kneeling among the potato parings. Her brown face, upraised, was stained with tears, and her spare form was quivering. He bowed his head and went on, feeling suddenly ashamed of his purposes.

From his home he had gone to the seminary to bid adieu to many schoolmates. They had thronged about him with wonder and admiration. He had felt the gulf now between them and had swelled with calm pride. He and some of his fellows who had donned blue were quite overwhelmed with privileges for all of one afternoon, and it had been a very delicious thing. They had strutted.

A certain light-haired girl had made vivacious fun at his martial spirit, but there was another and darker girl whom he had gazed at steadfastly, and he thought she grew demure and sad at sight of his blue and brass. As he had walked down the path between the rows of oaks, he had turned his head and detected her at a window watching his departure. As he perceived her, she had immediately begun to stare up through the high tree branches at the sky. He had seen a good deal of flurry and haste in her movement as she changed her attitude. He often thought of it.

On the way to Washington his spirit had soared. The regiment was fed and caressed at station after station until the youth had believed that he must be a hero. There was a lavish expenditure of bread and cold meats, coffee, and pickles and cheese. As he basked in the smiles of the girls and was patted and complimented by the old men, he had felt growing within him the strength to do mighty deeds of arms.

After complicated journeyings with many pauses, there had come months of monotonous life in a camp. He had had the belief that real war was a series of death struggles with small time in between for sleep and meals; but since his regiment had come to the field the army had done little but sit still and try to keep warm.

He was brought then gradually back to his old ideas. Greeklike struggles would be no more. Men were better, or more timid. Secular and religious education had effaced the throat-grappling instinct, or else firm finance held in check the passions.

He had grown to regard himself merely as a part of a vast blue demonstration. His province was to look out, as far as he could, for his personal comfort. For recreation he could twiddle his thumbs and speculate on the thoughts which must agitate the minds of the generals. Also, he was drilled and drilled and reviewed, and drilled and drilled and reviewed.

The only foes he had seen were some pickets along the river bank. They were a sun-tanned, philosophical lot, who sometimes shot reflectively at the blue pickets. When reproached for this afterward, they usually expressed sorrow, and swore by their gods that the guns had exploded without their permission. The youth, on guard duty one night, conversed across the stream with one of them. He was a slightly ragged man, who spat skillfully between his shoes and possessed a great fund of bland and infantile assurance. The youth liked him personally.

“Yank,” the other had informed him, “yer a right dum good feller.” This sentiment, floating to him upon the still air, had made him temporarily regret war.

Various veterans had told him tales. Some talked of gray, bewhiskered hordes who were advancing with relentless curses and chewing tobacco with unspeakable valor; tremendous bodies of fierce soldiery who were sweeping along like the Huns. Others spoke of tattered and eternally hungry men who fired despondent powders. “They’ll charge through hell’s fire an’ brimstone t’ git a holt on a haversack, an’ sech stomachs ain’t a’lastin’ long,” he was told. From the stories, the youth imagined the red, live bones sticking out through slits in the faded uniforms.

Still, he could not put a whole faith in veteran’s tales, for recruits were their prey. They talked much of smoke, fire, and blood, but he could not tell how much might be lies. They persistently yelled “Fresh fish!” at him, and were in no wise to be trusted.

However, he perceived now that it did not greatly matter what kind of soldiers he was going to fight, so long as they fought, which fact no one disputed. There was a more serious problem. He lay in his bunk pondering upon it. He tried to mathematically prove to himself that he would not run from a battle.

Previously he had never felt obliged to wrestle too seriously with this question. In his life he had taken certain things for granted, never challenging his belief in ultimate success, and bothering little about means and roads. But here he was confronted with a thing of moment. It had suddenly appeared to him that perhaps in a battle he might run. He was forced to admit that as far as war was concerned he knew nothing of himself.

A sufficient time before he would have allowed the problem to kick its heels at the outer portals of his mind, but now he felt compelled to give serious attention to it.

A little panic-fear grew in his mind. As his imagination went forward to a fight, he saw hideous possibilities. He contemplated the lurking menaces of the future, and failed in an effort to see himself standing stoutly in the midst of them. He recalled his visions of broken-bladed glory, but in the shadow of the impending tumult he suspected them to be impossible pictures.

He sprang from the bunk and began to pace nervously to and fro. “Good Lord, what’s th’ matter with me?” he said aloud.

He felt that in this crisis his laws of life were useless. Whatever he had learned of himself was here of no avail. He was an unknown quantity. He saw that he would again be obliged to experiment as he had in early youth. He must accumulate information of himself, and meanwhile he resolved to remain close upon his guard lest those qualities of which he knew nothing should everlastingly disgrace him. “Good Lord!” he repeated in dismay.

After a time the tall soldier slid dexterously through the hole. The loud private followed. They were wrangling.

“That’s all right,” said the tall soldier as he entered. He waved his hand expressively. “You can believe me or not, jest as you like. All you got to do is sit down and wait as quiet as you can. Then pretty soon you’ll find out I was right.”

His comrade grunted stubbornly. For a moment he seemed to be searching for a formidable reply. Finally he said: “Well, you don’t know everything in the world, do you?”

“Didn’t say I knew everything in the world,” retorted the other sharply. He began to stow various articles snugly into his knapsack.

The youth, pausing in his nervous walk, looked down at the busy figure. “Going to be a battle, sure, is there, Jim?” he asked.

“Of course there is,” replied the tall soldier. “Of course there is. You jest wait ’til to-morrow, and you’ll see one of the biggest battles ever was. You jest wait.”

“Thunder!” said the youth.

“Oh, you’ll see fighting this time, my boy, what’ll be regular out-and-out fighting,” added the tall soldier, with the air of a man who is about to exhibit a battle for the benefit of his friends.

“Huh!” said the loud one from a corner.

“Well,” remarked the youth, “like as not this story’ll turn out jest like them others did.”

“Not much it won’t,” replied the tall soldier, exasperated. “Not much it won’t. Didn’t the cavalry all start this morning?” He glared about him. No one denied his statement. “The cavalry started this morning,” he continued. “They say there ain’t hardly any cavalry left in camp. They’re going to Richmond, or some place, while we fight all the Johnnies. It’s some dodge like that. The regiment’s got orders, too. A feller what seen ’em go to headquarters told me a little while ago. And they’re raising blazes all over camp–anybody can see that.”

“Shucks!” said the loud one.

The youth remained silent for a time. At last he spoke to the tall soldier. “Jim!”


“How do you think the reg’ment ‘ll do?”

“Oh, they’ll fight all right, I guess, after they once get into it,” said the other with cold judgment. He made a fine use of the third person. “There’s been heaps of fun poked at ’em because they’re new, of course, and all that; but they’ll fight all right, I guess.”

“Think any of the boys ‘ll run?” persisted the youth.

“Oh, there may be a few of ’em run, but there’s them kind in every regiment, ‘specially when they first goes under fire,” said the other in a tolerant way. “Of course it might happen that the hull kit-and-boodle might start and run, if some big fighting came first-off, and then again they might stay and fight like fun. But you can’t bet on nothing. Of course they ain’t never been under fire yet, and it ain’t likely they’ll lick the hull rebel army all-to-oncet the first time; but I think they’ll fight better than some, if worse than others. That’s the way I figger. They call the reg’ment ‘Fresh fish’ and everything; but the boys come of good stock, and most of ’em ‘ll fight like sin after they oncet git shootin’,” he added, with a mighty emphasis on the last four words.

“Oh, you think you know–” began the loud soldier with scorn.

The other turned savagely upon him. They had a rapid altercation, in which they fastened upon each other various strange epithets.

The youth at last interrupted them. “Did you ever think you might run yourself, Jim?” he asked. On concluding the sentence he laughed as if he had meant to aim a joke. The loud soldier also giggled.

The tall private waved his hand. “Well,” said he profoundly, “I’ve thought it might get too hot for Jim Conklin in some of them scrimmages, and if a whole lot of boys started and run, why, I s’pose I’d start and run. And if I once started to run, I’d run like the devil, and no mistake. But if everybody was a-standing and a-fighting, why, I’d stand and fight. Be jiminey, I would. I’ll bet on it.”

“Huh!” said the loud one.

The youth of this tale felt gratitude for these words of his comrade. He had feared that all of the untried men possessed great and correct confidence. He now was in a measure reassured.

The book is available at Project Gutenberg:

from the Memoirs of General Sherman Volume 1

from the Memoirs of General Sherman Volume 1

Chapters 1 – 6 see TS growing up in CT, serving as a Lieutenant in CA, getting married in Washington DC, and so on.

Chapter 7 begins:


During the time of these events in Louisiana [in 1860 WT Sherman became the first superintendent of The University of Louisiana, initially a military school], I was in constant correspondence with my brother, John Sherman [Senator from Ohio], at Washington; Mr. Ewing, at Lancaster, Ohio; and Major H. S. Turner, at St. Louis. I had managed to maintain my family comfortably at Lancaster, but was extremely anxious about the future. It looked like the end of my career, for I did not suppose that “civil war” could give me an employment that would provide for the family. I thought, and may have said, that the national crisis had been brought about by the politicians, and, as it was upon us, they “might fight it out” Therefore, when I turned North from New Orleans, I felt more disposed to look to St. Louis for a home, and to Major Turner to find me employment, than to the public service.

I left New Orleans about the 1st of March, 1861, by rail to Jackson and Clinton, Mississippi, Jackson, Tennessee, and Columbus, Kentucky, where we took a boat to Cairo, and thence, by rail, to Cincinnati and Lancaster. All the way, I heard, in the cars and boats, warm discussions about polities; to the effect that, if Mr. Lincoln should attempt coercion of the seceded States, the other slave or border States would make common cause, when, it was believed, it would be madness to attempt to reduce them to subjection. In the South, the people were earnest, fierce and angry, and were evidently organizing for action; whereas, in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, I saw not the least sign of preparation. It certainly looked to me as though the people of the North would tamely submit to a disruption of the Union, and the orators of the South used, openly and constantly, the expressions that there would be no war, and that a lady’s thimble would hold all the blood to be shed. On reaching Lancaster, I found letters from my brother John, inviting me to come to Washington, as he wanted to see me; and from Major Tamer, at St. Louis, that he was trying to secure for me the office of president of the Fifth Street Railroad, with a salary of twenty-five hundred dollars; that Mr. Lucas and D. A. January held a controlling interest of stock, would vote for me, and the election would occur in March. This suited me exactly, and I answered Turner that I would accept, with thanks. But I also thought it right and proper that I should first go to Washington, to talk with my brother, Senator Sherman.

Mr. Lincoln had just been installed, and the newspapers were filled with rumors of every kind indicative of war; the chief act of interest was that Major Robert Anderson had taken by night into Fort Sumter all the troops garrisoning Charleston Harbor, and that he was determined to defend it against the demands of the State of South Carolina and of the Confederate States. I must have reached Washington about the 10th of March. I found my brother there, just appointed Senator, in place of Mr. Chase, who was in the cabinet, and I have no doubt my opinions, thoughts, and feelings, wrought up by the events in Louisiana; seemed to him gloomy and extravagant. About Washington I saw but few signs of preparation, though the Southern Senators and Representatives were daily sounding their threats on the floors of Congress, and were publicly withdrawing to join the Confederate Congress at Montgomery. Even in the War Department and about the public offices there was open, unconcealed talk, amounting to high-treason.

One day, John Sherman took me with him to see Mr. Lincoln. He walked into the room where the secretary to the President now sits, we found the room full of people, and Mr. Lincoln sat at the end of the table, talking with three or four gentlemen, who soon left. John walked up, shook hands, and took a chair near him, holding in his hand some papers referring to, minor appointments in the State of Ohio, which formed the subject of conversation. Mr. Lincoln took the papers, said he would refer them to the proper heads of departments, and would be glad to make the appointments asked for, if not already promised. John then turned to me, and said, “Mr. President, this is my brother, Colonel Sherman, who is just up from Louisiana, he may give you some information you want.” “Ah!” said Mr. Lincoln, “how are they getting along down there?” I said, “They think they are getting along swimmingly—they are preparing for war.” “Oh, well!” said he, “I guess we’ll manage to keep house.” I was silenced, said no more to him, and we soon left. I was sadly disappointed, and remember that I broke out on John, d—ning the politicians generally, saying, “You have got things in a hell of a fig, and you may get them out as you best can,” adding that the country was sleeping on a volcano that might burst forth at any minute, but that I was going to St. Louis to take care of my family, and would have no more to do with it. John begged me to be more patient, but I said I would not; that I had no time to wait, that I was off for St. Louis; and off I went. At Lancaster I found letters from Major Turner, inviting me to St. Louis, as the place in the Fifth Street Railroad was a sure thing, and that Mr. Lucas would rent me a good house on Locust Street, suitable for my family, for six hundred dollars a year.


Chapter 9 begins:



And now that, in these notes, I have fairly reached the period of the civil war, which ravaged our country from 1861 to 1865—an event involving a conflict of passion, of prejudice, and of arms, that has developed results which, for better or worse, have left their mark on the world’s history—I feel that I tread on delicate ground.

I have again and again been invited to write a history of the war, or to record for publication my personal recollections of it, with large offers of money therefor; all of which I have heretofore declined, because the truth is not always palatable, and should not always be told. Many of the actors in the grand drama still live, and they and their friends are quick to controversy, which should be avoided. The great end of peace has been attained, with little or no change in our form of government, and the duty of all good men is to allow the passions of that period to subside, that we may direct our physical and mental labor to repair the waste of war, and to engage in the greater task of continuing our hitherto wonderful national development.

What I now propose to do is merely to group some of my personal recollections about the historic persons and events of the day, prepared not with any view to their publication, but rather for preservation till I am gone; and then to be allowed to follow into oblivion the cords of similar papers, or to be used by some historian who may need them by way of illustration.

I have heretofore recorded how I again came into the military service of the United States as a colonel of the Thirteenth Regular Infantry, a regiment that had no existence at the time, and that, instead of being allowed to enlist the men and instruct them, as expected, I was assigned in Washington City, by an order of Lieutenant-General Winfield Scott, to inspection duty near him on the 20th of June, 1861.

At that time Lieutenant-General Scott commanded the army in chief, with Colonel E. D. Townsend as his adjutant-general,

Major G. W. Cullum, United States Engineers, and Major Schuyler Hamilton, as aides.-de-camp. The general had an office up stairs on Seventeenth Street, opposite the War Department, and resided in a house close by, on Pennsylvania Avenue. All fears for the immediate safety of the capital had ceased, and quite a large force of regulars and volunteers had been collected in and about Washington. Brigadier-General J. K. Mansfield commanded in the city, and Brigadier-General Irvin McDowell on the other side of the Potomac, with his headquarters at Arlington House. His troops extended in a semicircle from Alexandria to above Georgetown. Several forts and redoubts were either built or in progress, and the people were already clamorous for a general forward movement. Another considerable army had also been collected in Pennsylvania under General Patterson, and, at the time I speak of, had moved forward to Hagerstown and Williamsport, on the Potomac River. My brother, John Sherman, was a volunteer aide-de-camp to General Patterson, and, toward the end of June, I went up to Hagerstown to see him. I found that army in the very act of moving, and we rode down to Williamsport in a buggy, and were present when the leading division crossed the Potomac River by fording it waist-deep. My friend and classmate, George H. Thomas, was there, in command of a brigade in the leading division. I talked with him a good deal, also with General Cadwalader, and with the staff-officers of General Patterson, viz., Fitz-John Porter, Belger, Beckwith, and others, all of whom seemed encouraged to think that the war was to be short and decisive, and that, as soon as it was demonstrated that the General Government meant in earnest to defend its rights and property, some general compromise would result.

Patterson’s army crossed the Potomac River on the 1st or 2d of July, and, as John Sherman was to take his seat as a Senator in the called session of Congress, to meet July 4th, he resigned his place as aide-de-camp, presented me his two horses and equipment, and we returned to Washington together.

The Congress assembled punctually on the 4th of July, and the message of Mr. Lincoln was strong and good: it recognized the fact that civil war was upon us, that compromise of any kind was at an end; and he asked for four hundred thousand men, and four hundred million dollars, wherewith to vindicate the national authority, and to regain possession of the captured forts and other property of the United States.

It was also immediately demonstrated that the tone and temper of Congress had changed since the Southern Senators and members had withdrawn, and that we, the military, could now go to work with some definite plans and ideas.

The appearance of the troops about Washington was good, but it was manifest they were far from being soldiers. Their uniforms were as various as the States and cities from which they came; their arms were also of every pattern and calibre; and they were so loaded down with overcoats, haversacks, knapsacks, tents, and baggage, that it took from twenty-five to fifty wagons to move the camp of a regiment from one place to another, and some of the camps had bakeries and cooking establishments that would have done credit to Delmonico.

While I was on duty with General Scott, viz., from June 20th to about June 30th, the general frequently communicated to those about him his opinions and proposed plans. He seemed vexed with the clamors of the press for immediate action, and the continued interference in details by the President, Secretary of War, and Congress. He spoke of organizing a grand army of invasion, of which the regulars were to constitute the “iron column,” and seemed to intimate that he himself would take the field in person, though he was at the time very old, very heavy, and very unwieldy. His age must have been about seventy-five years.

At that date, July 4, 1861, the rebels had two armies in front of Washington; the one at Manassas Junction, commanded by General Beauregard, with his advance guard at Fairfax Court House, and indeed almost in sight of Washington. The other, commanded by General Joe Johnston, was at Winchester, with its advance at Martinsburg and Harper’s Ferry; but the advance had fallen back before Patterson, who then occupied Martinsburg and the line of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.

The temper of Congress and the people would not permit the slow and methodical preparation desired by General Scott; and the cry of “On to Richmond!” which was shared by the volunteers, most of whom had only engaged for ninety days, forced General Scott to hasten his preparations, and to order a general advance about the middle of July. McDowell was to move from the defenses of Washington, and Patterson from Martinsburg. In the organization of McDowell’s army into divisions and brigades, Colonel David Hunter was assigned to command the Second Division, and I was ordered to take command of his former brigade, which was composed of five regiments in position in and about Fort Corcoran, and on the ground opposite Georgetown. I assumed command on the 30th of June, and proceeded at once to prepare it for the general advance. My command constituted the Third Brigade of the First Division, which division was commanded by Brigadier-General Daniel Tyler, a graduate of West Point, but who had seen little or no actual service. I applied to General McDowell for home staff-officers, and he gave me, as adjutant-general, Lieutenant Piper, of the Third Artillery, and, as aide-de-camp, Lieutenant McQuesten, a fine young cavalry-officer, fresh from West Point.

I selected for the field the Thirteenth New York, Colonel Quinby; the Sixty-ninth New York, Colonel Corcoran; the Seventy-ninth New York, Colonel Cameron; and the Second Wisconsin, Lieutenant—Colonel Peck. These were all good, strong, volunteer regiments, pretty well commanded; and I had reason to believe that I had one of the best brigades in the whole army. Captain Ayres’s battery of the Third Regular Artillery was also attached to my brigade. The other regiment, the Twenty-ninth New York, Colonel Bennett, was destined to be left behind in charge of the forts and camps during our absence, which was expected to be short. Soon after I had assumed the command, a difficulty arose in the Sixty-ninth, an Irish regiment. This regiment had volunteered in New York, early in April, for ninety days; but, by reason of the difficulty of passing through Baltimore, they had come via Annapolis, had been held for duty on the railroad as a guard for nearly a month before they actually reached Washington, and were then mustered in about a month after enrollment. Some of the men claimed that they were entitled to their discharge in ninety days from the time of enrollment, whereas the muster-roll read ninety days from the date of muster-in. One day, Colonel Corcoran explained this matter to me. I advised him to reduce the facts to writing, and that I would submit it to the War Department for an authoritative decision. He did so, and the War Department decided that the muster-roll was the only contract of service, that it would be construed literally; and that the regiment would be held till the expiration of three months from the date of muster-in, viz., to about August 1, 1861. General Scott at the same time wrote one of his characteristic letters to Corcoran, telling him that we were about to engage in battle, and he knew his Irish friends would not leave him in such a crisis. Corcoran and the officers generally wanted to go to the expected battle, but a good many of the men were not so anxious. In the Second Wisconsin, also, was developed a personal difficulty. The actual colonel was S. P. Coon, a good-hearted gentleman, who knew no more of the military art than a child; whereas his lieutenant-colonel, Peck, had been to West Point, and knew the drill. Preferring that the latter should remain in command of the regiment, I put Colonel Coon on my personal staff, which reconciled the difficulty.

In due season, about July 15th, our division moved forward leaving our camps standing; Keyes’s brigade in the lead, then Schenck’s, then mine, and Richardson’s last. We marched via Vienna, Germantown, and Centreville, where all the army, composed of five divisions, seemed to converge. The march demonstrated little save the general laxity of discipline; for with all my personal efforts I could not prevent the men from straggling for water, blackberries, or any thing on the way they fancied.

At Centreville, on the 18th, Richardson’s brigade was sent by General Tyler to reconnoitre Blackburn’s Ford across Bull Run, and he found it strongly guarded. From our camp, at Centreville, we heard the cannonading, and then a sharp musketry-fire. I received orders from General Tyler to send forward Ayres’s battery, and very soon after another order came for me to advance with my whole brigade. We marched the three miles at the double-quick, arrived in time to relieve Richardson’s brigade, which was just drawing back from the ford, worsted, and stood for half an hour or so under a fire of artillery, which killed four or five of my men. General Tyler was there in person, giving directions, and soon after he ordered us all back to our camp in Centreville. This reconnoissance had developed a strong force, and had been made without the orders of General McDowell; however, it satisfied us that the enemy was in force on the other side of Bull Run, and had no intention to leave without a serious battle. We lay in camp at Centreville all of the 19th and 20th, and during that night began the movement which resulted in the battle of Bull Run, on July 21st. Of this so much has been written that more would be superfluous; and the reports of the opposing commanders, McDowell and Johnston, are fair and correct. It is now generally admitted that it was one of the best-planned battles of the war, but one of the worst-fought. Our men had been told so often at home that all they had to do was to make a bold appearance, and the rebels would run; and nearly all of us for the first time then heard the sound of cannon and muskets in anger, and saw the bloody scenes common to all battles, with which we were soon to be familiar. We had good organization, good men, but no cohesion, no real discipline, no respect for authority, no real knowledge of war. Both armies were fairly defeated, and, whichever had stood fast, the other would have run. Though the North was overwhelmed with mortification and shame, the South really had not much to boast of, for in the three or four hours of fighting their organization was so broken up that they did not and could not follow our army, when it was known to be in a state of disgraceful and causeless flight. It is easy to criticise a battle after it is over, but all now admit that none others, equally raw in war, could have done better than we did at Bull Run; and the lesson of that battle should not be lost on a people like ours.

I insert my official report, as a condensed statement of my share in the battle:

FORT CORCORAN, July 25, 1861

To Captain A. BAIRD, Assistant Adjutant-General, First Division (General Tyler’s).

Sir: I have the honor to submit this my report of the operations of my brigade during the action of the 21st instant. The brigade is composed of the Thirteenth New York Volunteers, Colonel Quinby’s Sixty-ninth New York, Colonel Corcoran; Seventy-ninth New York, Colonel Cameron; Second Wisconsin, Lieutenant-Colonel Peck; and Company E, Third Artillery, under command of Captain R. B. Ayres, Fifth Artillery.

We left our camp near Centreville, pursuant to orders, at half-past 2 A. M., taking place in your column, next to the brigade of General Schenck, and proceeded as far as the halt, before the enemy’s position, near the stone bridge across Bull Run. Here the brigade was deployed in line along the skirt of timber to the right of the Warrenton road, and remained quietly in position till after 10 a.m. The enemy remained very quiet, but about that time we saw a rebel regiment leave its cover in our front, and proceed in double-quick time on the road toward Sudley Springs, by which we knew the columns of Colonels Hunter and Heintzelman were approaching. About the same time we observed in motion a large mass of the enemy, below and on the other side of the stone bridge. I directed Captain Ayres to take position with his battery near our right, and to open fire on this mass; but you had previously detached the two rifle-guns belonging to this battery, and, finding that the smooth-bore guns did not reach the enemy’s position, we ceased firing, and I sent a request that you would send to me the thirty-pounder rifle-gun attached to Captain Carlisle’s battery. At the same time I shifted the New York Sixty-ninth to the extreme right of the brigade. Thus we remained till we heard the musketry-fire across Bull Run, showing that the head of Colonel Hunter’s column was engaged. This firing was brisk, and showed that Hunter was driving before him the enemy, till about noon, when it became certain the enemy had come to a stand, and that our forces on the other side of Bull Run were all engaged, artillery and infantry.

Here you sent me the order to cross over with the whole brigade, to the assistance of Colonel Hunter. Early in the day, when reconnoitring the ground, I had seen a horseman descend from a bluff in our front, cross the stream, and show himself in the open field on this aide; and, inferring that we could cross over at the same point, I sent forward a company as skirmishers, and followed with the whole brigade, the New York Sixty-ninth leading.

We found no difficulty in crossing over, and met with no opposition in ascending the steep bluff opposite with our infantry, but it was impassable to the artillery, and I sent word back to Captain Ayres to follow if possible, otherwise to use his discretion. Captain Ayres did not cross Bull Run, but remained on that side, with the rest of your division. His report herewith describes his operations during the remainder of the day. Advancing slowly and cautiously with the head of the column, to give time for the regiments in succession to close up their ranks, we first encountered a party of the enemy retreating along a cluster of pines; Lieutenant-Colonel Haggerty, of the Sixty-ninth, without orders, rode out alone, and endeavored to intercept their retreat. One of the enemy, in full view, at short range, shot Haggerty, and he fell dead from his horse. The Sixty-ninth opened fire on this party, which was returned; but, determined to effect our junction with Hunter’s division, I ordered this fire to cease, and we proceeded with caution toward the field where we then plainly saw our forces engaged. Displaying our colors conspicuously at the head of our column, we succeeded in attracting the attention of our friends, and soon formed the brigade in rear of Colonel Porter’s. Here I learned that Colonel Hunter was disabled by a severe wound, and that General McDowell was on the field. I sought him out, and received his orders to join in pursuit of the enemy, who was falling back to the left of the road by which the army had approached from Sudley Springs. Placing Colonel Quinby’s regiment of rifles in front, in column, by division, I directed the other regiments to follow in line of battle, in the order of the Wisconsin Second, New York Seventy-ninth, and New York Sixty-ninth. Quinby’s regiment advanced steadily down the hill and up the ridge, from which he opened fire upon the enemy, who had made another stand on ground very favorable to him, and the regiment continued advancing as the enemy gave way, till the head of the column reached the point near which Rickett’s battery was so severely cut up. The other regiments descended the hill in line of battle, under a severe cannonade; and, the ground affording comparative shelter from the enemy’s artillery, they changed direction, by the right flank, and followed the road before mentioned. At the point where this road crosses the ridge to our left front, the ground was swept by a most severe fire of artillery, rifles, and musketry, and we saw, in succession, several regiments driven from it; among them the Zouaves and battalion of marines. Before reaching the crest of this hill, the roadway was worn deep enough to afford shelter, and I kept the several regiments in it as long as possible; but when the Wisconsin Second was abreast of the enemy, by order of Major Wadsworth, of General McDowell’s staff, I ordered it to leave the roadway, by the left flank, and to attack the enemy.

This regiment ascended to the brow of the hill steadily, received the severe fire of the enemy, returned it with spirit, and advanced, delivering its fire. This regiment is uniformed in gray cloth, almost identical with that of the great bulk of the secession army; and, when the regiment fell into confusion and retreated toward the road, there was a universal cry that they were being fired on by our own men. The regiment rallied again, passed the brow of the hill a second time, but was again repulsed in disorder. By this time the New York Seventy-ninth had closed up, and in like manner it was ordered to cross the brow of, the hill, and drive the enemy from cover. It was impossible to get a good view of this ground. In it there was one battery of artillery, which poured an incessant fire upon our advancing column, and the ground was very irregular with small clusters of pines, affording shelter, of which the enemy took good advantage. The fire of rifles and musketry was very severe. The Seventy-ninth, headed by its colonel, Cameron, charged across the hill, and for a short time the contest was severe; they rallied several times under fire, but finally broke, and gained the cover of the hill.

This left the field open to the New York Sixty-ninth, Colonel Corcoran, who, in his turn, led his regiment over the crest; and had in full, open view the ground so severely contested; the fire was very severe, and the roar of cannon, musketry, and rifles, incessant; it was manifest the enemy was here in great force, far superior to us at that point. The Sixty-ninth held the ground for some time, but finally fell back in disorder.

All this time Quinby’s regiment occupied another ridge, to our left, overlooking the same field of action, and similarly engaged. Here, about half-past 3 p.m., began the scene of confusion and disorder that characterized the remainder of the day. Up to that time, all had kept their places, and seemed perfectly cool, and used to the shell and shot that fell, comparatively harmless, all around us; but the short exposure to an intense fire of small-arms, at close range, had killed many, wounded more, and had produced disorder in all of the battalions that had attempted to encounter it. Men fell away from their ranks, talking, and in great confusion. Colonel Cameron had been mortally wounded, was carried to an ambulance, and reported dying. Many other officers were reported dead or missing, and many of the wounded were making their way, with more or less assistance, to the buildings used as hospitals, on the ridge to the west. We succeeded in partially reforming the regiments, but it was manifest that they would not stand, and I directed Colonel Corcoran to move along the ridge to the rear, near the position where we had first formed the brigade. General McDowell was there in person, and need all possible efforts to reassure the men. By the active exertions of Colonel Corcoran, we formed an irregular square against the cavalry which were then seen to issue from the position from which we had been driven, and we began our retreat toward the same ford of Bull Run by which we had approached the field of battle. There was no positive order to retreat, although for an hour it had been going on by the operation of the men themselves. The ranks were thin and irregular, and we found a stream of people strung from the hospital across Bull Run, and far toward Centreville. After putting in motion the irregular square in person, I pushed forward to find Captain Ayres’s battery at the crossing of Bull Run. I sought it at its last position, before the brigade had crossed over, but it was not there; then passing through the woods, where, in the morning, we had first formed line, we approached the blacksmith’s shop, but there found a detachment of the secession cavalry and thence made a circuit, avoiding Cub Run Bridge, into Centreville, where I found General McDowell, and from him understood that it was his purpose to rally the forces, and make a stand at Centreville.

But, about nine o’clock at night, I received from General Tyler, in person, the order to continue the retreat to the Potomac. This retreat was by night, and disorderly in the extreme. The men of different regiments mingled together, and some reached the river at Arlington, some at Long Bridge, and the greater part returned to their former camp, at or near Fort Corcoran. I reached this point at noon the next day, and found a miscellaneous crowd crossing over the aqueduct and ferries.. Conceiving this to be demoralizing, I at once commanded the guard to be increased, and all persons attempting to pass over to be stopped. This soon produced its effect; men sought their proper companies and regiments. Comparative order was restored, and all were posted to the best advantage.

I herewith inclose the official report of Captain Belly, commanding officer of the New York Sixty-ninth; also, fall lists of the killed, wounded, and missing.

Our loss was heavy, and occurred chiefly at the point near where Rickett’s battery was destroyed. Lieutenant-Colonel Haggerty was killed about noon, before we had effected a junction with Colonel Hunter’s division. Colonel Cameron was mortally wounded leading his regiment in the charge, and Colonel Corcoran has been missing since the cavalry-charge near the building used as a hospital.

For names, rank, etc., of the above, I refer to the lists herewith.

Lieutenants Piper and McQuesten, of my personal staff, were under fire all day, and carried orders to and fro with as much coolness as on parade. Lieutenant Bagley, of the New York Sixty-ninth, a volunteer aide, asked leave to serve with his company, during the action, and is among those reported missing. I have intelligence that he is a prisoner, and slightly wounded.

Colonel Coon, of Wisconsin, a volunteer aide, also rendered good service during the day.

W. T. SHERMAN, Colonel commanding Brigade.

Sherman’s Memoirs, Vol 1, are at Project Gutenberg:

The Story of a Common Soldier

The Story of a Common Soldier

The Story of a Common Soldier / Leander Stillwell / 1916


I was born September 16, 1843, on a farm, in Otter Creek precinct, Jersey County, Illinois. I was living with my parents, in the little old log house where I was born, when the Civil war began. The Confederates fired on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, and thus commenced the war. On April 15, 1861, President Lincoln issued a call for 75,000 men, to aid in putting down the existing rebellion. Illinois promptly furnished her quota, and in addition, thousands of men were turned away, for the reason that the complement of the State was complete, and there was no room for them. The soldiers under this call were mustered in for three months’ service only, for the government then seemed to be of the opinion that the troubles would be over by the end of that time. But on May 3, 1861, Mr. Lincoln issued another call for volunteers, the number specified being a little over 42,000, and their term of service was fixed at three years, unless sooner discharged. The same call provided for a substantial increase in the regular army and navy. I did not enlist under either of these calls. As above stated, the belief then was almost universal throughout the North that the “war” would amount to nothing much but a summer frolic, and would be over by the 4th of July. We had the utmost confidence that Richmond would be taken by that time, and that Jeff Davis and his cabinet would be prisoners, or fugitives. But the battle of Bull Run, fought on July 21, 1861, gave the loyal people of the Nation a terrible awakening. The result of this battle was a crushing disappointment and a bitter mortification to all the friends of the Union. They realized then that a long and bloody struggle was before them. But Bull Run was probably all for the best. Had it been a Union victory, and the Rebellion then been crushed, negro slavery would have been retained, and the “irrepressible conflict” would have been fought out likely in your time, with doubtless tenfold the loss of life and limb that ensued in the war of the sixties.

The day after the battle of Bull Run Congress passed a law authorizing Mr. Lincoln to call for five hundred thousand three-years volunteers. It was under this law, supplemented by authority from the Secretary of War, that the regiment was organized in which I subsequently enlisted. I was then only a boy, but somehow I felt that the war was going to be a long one, and that it was the duty of every young fellow of the requisite physical ability to “go for a soldier,” and help save the Nation. I had some talk with my father on the subject. He was a strong Union man, and in sympathy with my feelings, but I could see that naturally he dreaded the idea of his boy going to the war, with the result that maybe he would be killed, or come home a cripple for life. But I gave him to understand that when they began organizing a regiment in our vicinity, and which would contain a fair proportion of my neighbor boys and acquaintances, I intended then to volunteer. It was simply intolerable to think that I could stay at home, among the girls, and be pointed at by the soldier boys as a stay-at-home coward.

The work of organizing and recruiting for a regiment in our corner of the State began early in the autumn of 1861. The various counties in that immediate locality were overwhelmingly Democratic in politics, and many of the people were strong “Southern sympathizers,” as they were then called, and who later developed into virulent Copperheads and Knights of the Golden Circle. Probably 90 per cent of the inhabitants of Greene, Jersey, Scott, Morgan, and adjoining counties came from the Southern States, or were the direct descendants of people from that part of the country. Kentuckians, Tennesseeans, and North and South Carolinians were especially numerous. But it is only fair and the truth to say that many of the most prominent and dangerous of this Copperhead element were men from remote Eastern States. What caused these persons to pursue this shameful course I do not know. President Lincoln was personally well aware of these political conditions in our locality, as his old home, at Springfield, the State Capital, was not far away, and he doubtless knew every man of reasonable prominence in our entire Congressional District. He wanted soldiers, regardless of politics, but it was necessary, in that locality, to hold out some special inducements to his constituents of the Democratic faith. So, for that reason, (with others,) as was well understood at the time, Gen. Jacob Fry of Greene County, a Kentuckian by birth and a life-long Democrat, was selected as the one to recruit and organize, and to be the colonel of the regiment to be raised from the counties above named and their vicinity. Aside from the political consideration, this selection of Gen. Fry was regarded at the time as a very good and appropriate one. He was an old-timer, having been a resident of Greene county from his boyhood, had been sheriff of the county, and had held other responsible offices. And, what was considered still more important, he had served with credit and distinction in the “Black Hawk War” in 1831-2, where he held the rank of Colonel. Soon after the close of this Indian disturbance, he was made Brigadier-General, and subsequently Major-General, of the Illinois militia. He was a grand old man, of temperate habits, strict integrity, and unflinching bravery. But he was sixty-two years old, and that proved to be a handicap that eventually resulted in his resignation, as will appear later.

Full text at PG:

The Lost Army

The Lost Army

The Lost Army / Thomas W Knox / 1899


Let’s go and enlist!”

“Perhaps they won’t take us,” was the reply.

“Well, there ‘s nothing like trying,” responded the first speaker. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

“That’s so,” said the other. “And if we can’t go for soldiers, perhaps they ‘ll find us useful about the camp for something else.”

This conversation took place between two boys of Dubuque, Iowa, one pleasant morning early in the year 1861. They were Jack Wilson and Harry Fulton, neither of whom had yet seen his sixteenth birthday. They were the sons of industrious and respectable parents, whose houses stood not far apart on one of the humbler streets of that ambitious city; they had known each other for ten years or more, had gone to school together, played together, and at the time of which we are writing they were working side by side in the same shop.

The war for the destruction of the Union on the one hand and its preservation on the other had just begun. The election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency had alarmed the Southern states, who regarded it as a menace to their beloved system of negro slavery. In consequence of his election the Southern leaders endeavored to withdraw their states from the Union, and one after another had passed ordinances of secession. South Carolina was the first to secede, her action being taken on the twentieth of December, five weeks after the presidential election. Ten other states followed her example and united with South Carolina in forming the Confederate States of North America, choosing Jefferson Davis as their first president. Then followed the demand for the surrender of the forts and other property of the United States in the region in rebellion. Fort Sumter was taken after a bloodless fight, in which the first gun was fired by the South; other states seceded, and then came the uprising of the North in defense of the Union.

As if by the wand of a magician the whole North was transformed into a vast military camp, where only a few days before nothing was to be seen save the arts and arms of peace and industry. Recruiting offices were opened in every city and almost in every village. Squads were formed into companies, companies into regiments and regiments into brigades, with a celerity that betokened ill for the cause of secession. The North had been taunted over and over again that it was more intent upon moneymaking than anything else, and nothing could provoke it into a fight. It had been patient and long-suffering, but the point of exasperation had been reached, and the men of the Northern states were now about to show of what stuff they were made.

The president issued a call for seventy-five thousand men to serve for three months, and the call was responded to with alacrity. And it was in the recruiting that formed a part of this response that our story opens.

Jack and Harry went to the recruiting office, which was on one of the principal streets of Dubuque and easy to find. Over the doorway an immense flag—the flag of the nation—was waving in the morning breeze, and in front of the door was an excited group of men discussing the prospects for the future, and particularly the chances of war.

“It ‘ll be over in a month,” said one, “and we ‘ll all be back here at home before our enlistment time’s up.”

“Yes; the South’ll be cleaned out in no time,” said another. “Those fellows are good on the brag, but when they look into the muzzles of Northern muskets they ‘ll turn tail and run.”

“Don’t be so sure of that,” said a third. “The South may be wrong in all this business, but they ‘ll give us all the fighting we want.”

“You’d better go and fight for Jeff Davis,” was the retort which followed. “We don’t want any fellows like you around us.”

“That we don’t, you bet,” said another, and the sentiment was echoed by fully half the listeners.

“You ‘re all wrong,” persisted the man who had just spoken. “Don’t misunderstand me; I’m just as good a Union man as anybody, and I’m going to fight for the Union, but I don’t want anybody to go off half-cocked, and think we’re going to lick the South out of its boots in no time; because we can’t do it. We ‘re going to win in this fight; we ‘re twenty millions and they ‘re eight, and we’ve got most of the manufacturing and the men who know how to work with their hands. But the Southerners are Americans like ourselves, and can fight just as well as we can. They think they ‘re right, and thinking so makes a heap of difference when you go in for war. They ‘ll do their level best, just as we shall.”

“Perhaps they will,” was the reply, “but we ‘ll make short work of ’em.”

“All right,” responded the other, “we won’t lose our tempers over it; but anybody who thinks the war will be over in three months doesn’t appreciate American fighting ability, no matter on which side of the line it is found.”

This mode of putting the argument silenced some of his opponents, particularly when he followed it up by showing how the Southern regiments in the Mexican war covered themselves with glory side by side with the Northern ones. But the loudest of the talkers refused to be silenced, and continued to taunt him with being a sympathizer with the rebellion.

At the outbreak of the war a great deal of this kind of talk was to be heard on both sides; men in the North declaring that the South would be conquered and the war ended in three months, while people at the South boasted of the ability of one Southern man to whip three Northerners. When the armies fairly met in the field and steel clashed against steel all this boasting on both sides was silenced, and North and South learned to respect each other for their soldierly qualities. One of the greatest of military mistakes is to hold your enemy in contempt, and to this mistake is due some of the disasters of the early days of the war.

And the lesson may be carried further. One of the greatest mistakes in the battle of life is to underrate those who oppose you or the hindrances that lie in your path. Always regard your opponent as fully your equal in everything, and then use your best endeavors to overcome him. Do your best at all times, and you have more than an even chance of success in the long run.

Jack and Harry listened a few moments to the debate among the men in front of the recruiting office, and then made their way inside. A man in the uniform of a captain was sitting behind a desk taking the names of those that wanted to enlist, and telling them to wait their turn for examination. In a few moments a man came out from an inner room, and then a name was called and its owner went inside.

Project Gutenberg has full text

Andersonville Vol 2

Andersonville Vol 2



There were two regiments guarding us–the Twenty-Sixth Alabama and the Fifty-Fifth Georgia. Never were two regiments of the same army more different. The Alabamians were the superiors of the Georgians in every way that one set of men could be superior to another. They were manly, soldierly, and honorable, where the Georgians were treacherous and brutal. We had nothing to complain of at the hands of the Alabamians; we suffered from the Georgians everything that mean-spirited cruelty could devise. The Georgians were always on the look-out for something that they could torture into such apparent violation of orders, as would justify them in shooting men down; the Alabamians never fired until they were satisfied that a deliberate offense was intended. I can recall of my own seeing at least a dozen instances where men of the Fifty-Fifth Georgia Killed prisoners under the pretense that they were across the Dead Line, when the victims were a yard or more from the Dead Line, and had not the remotest idea of going any nearer.

The only man I ever knew to be killed by one of the Twenty-Sixth Alabama was named Hubbard, from Chicago, Ills., and a member of the Thirty-Eighth Illinois. He had lost one leg, and went hobbling about the camp on crutches, chattering continually in a loud, discordant voice, saying all manner of hateful and annoying things, wherever he saw an opportunity. This and his beak-like nose gained for him the name of “Poll Parrot.” His misfortune caused him to be tolerated where another man would have been suppressed. By-and-by he gave still greater cause for offense by his obsequious attempts to curry favor with Captain Wirz, who took him outside several times for purposes that were not well explained. Finally, some hours after one of Poll Parrot’s visits outside, a Rebel officer came in with a guard, and, proceeding with suspicious directness to a tent which was the mouth of a large tunnel that a hundred men or more had been quietly pushing forward, broke the tunnel in, and took the occupants of the tent outside for punishment. The question that demanded immediate solution then was:

“Who is the traitor who has informed the Rebels?”

Suspicion pointed very strongly to “Poll Parrot.” By the next morning the evidence collected seemed to amount to a certainty, and a crowd caught the Parrot with the intention of lynching him. He succeeded in breaking away from them and ran under the Dead Line, near where I was sitting in, my tent. At first it looked as if he had done this to secure the protection of the guard. The latter–a Twenty-Sixth Alabamian –ordered him out. Poll Parrot rose up on his one leg, put his back against the Dead Line, faced the guard, and said in his harsh, cackling voice:

“No; I won’t go out. If I’ve lost the confidence of my comrades I want to die.”

Part of the crowd were taken back by this move, and felt disposed to accept it as a demonstration of the Parrot’s innocence. The rest thought it was a piece of bravado, because of his belief that the Rebels would not injure, him after he had served them. They renewed their yells, the guard again ordered the Parrot out, but the latter, tearing open his blouse, cackled out:

“No, I won’t go; fire at me, guard. There’s my heart shoot me right there.”

There was no help for it. The Rebel leveled his gun and fired. The charge struck the Parrot’s lower jaw, and carried it completely away, leaving his tongue and the roof of his mouth exposed. As he was carried back to die, he wagged his tongue rigorously, in attempting to speak, but it was of no use.

The guard set his gun down and buried his face in his hands. It was the only time that I saw a sentinel show anything but exultation at killing a Yankee.

The Iron Furnace; or Slavery & Secession

The Iron Furnace; or Slavery & Secession

The Iron Furnace, or Slavery & Secession Rev John H Augey, Refugee from Mississippi / 1863

From the Preface

This work was written while suffering intensely from maladies induced by the rigours of the Iron Furnace of Secession, whose sevenfold heat is reserved for the loyal citizens of[Pg 6] the South. Let this fact be a palliation for whatever imperfections the reader may meet with in its perusal.

There are many loyal men in the southern States, who to avoid martyrdom, conceal their opinions. They are to be pitied—not severely censured. All those southern ministers and professors of religion who were eminent for piety, opposed secession till the States passed the secession ordinance. They then advocated reconstruction as long as it comported with their safety. They then, in the face of danger and death, became quiescent—not acquiescent, by any means—and they now “bide their time,” in prayerful trust that God will, in his own good time, subvert rebellion, and overthrow anarchy, by a restoration of the supremacy of constitutional law. By these, and their name is legion, my book will be warmly approved. My fellow-prisoners in the dungeon at Tupelo, who may have survived its horrors, and my fellow-sufferers in the Union cause throughout the South, will read in my narrative a transcript of their own sufferings. The loyal citizens of the whole country will be interested in learning the views of one who has been conversant with the rise and progress of secession, from its incipiency to its culmination in rebellion[Pg 7] and treason. It will also doubtless be of general interest to learn something of the workings of the “peculiar institution,” and the various phases which it assumes in different sections of the slave States.

Compelled to leave Dixie in haste, I had no time to collect materials for my work. I was therefore under the necessity of writing without those aids which would have secured greater accuracy. I have done the best that I could under the circumstances; and any errors that may have crept into my statements of facts, or reports of addresses, will be cheerfully rectified as soon as ascertained.

Beginning of First Chapter

At the breaking out of the present rebellion, I was engaged in the work of an Evangelist in the counties of Choctaw and Attala in Central Mississippi. My congregations were large, and my duties onerous. Being constantly employed in ministerial labours, I had no time to intermeddle with politics, leaving all such questions[Pg 14] to statesmen, giving the complex issues of the day only sufficient attention to enable me to vote intelligently. Thus was I engaged when the great political campaign of 1860 commenced—a campaign conducted with greater virulence and asperity than any I have ever witnessed. During my casual detention at a store, Colonel Drane arrived, according to appointment, to address the people of Choctaw. He was a member of one of my congregations, and as he had been long a leading statesman in Mississippi, having for many years presided over the State Senate, I expected to hear a speech of marked ability, unfolding the true issues before the people, with all the dignity, suavity, and earnestness of a gentleman and patriot; but I found his whole speech to be a tirade of abuse against the North, commingled with the bold avowal of treasonable sentiments. The Colonel thus addressed the people:

“My Fellow-Citizens—I appear before you to urge anew resistance against the encroachments and aggressions of the Yankees. If the[Pg 15] Black Republicans carry their ticket, and Old Abe is elected, our right to carry our slaves into the territories will be denied us; and who dare say that he would be a base, craven submissionist, when our God-given and constitutional right to carry slavery into the common domain is wickedly taken from the South. The Yankees cheated us out of Kansas by their infernal Emigrant Aid Societies. They cheated us out of California, which our blood-treasure purchased, for the South sent ten men to one that was sent by the North to the Mexican war, and thus we have no foothold on the Pacific coast; and even now we pay five dollars for the support of the general Government where the North pays one. We help to pay bounties to the Yankee fishermen in New England; indeed we are always paying, paying, paying, and yet the North is always crying, Give, give, give. The South has made the North rich, and what thanks do we receive? Our rights are trampled on, our slaves are spirited by thousands over their underground railroad to Canada, our citizens are insulted while travelling in the[Pg 16] North, and their servants are tampered with, and by false representations, and often by mob violence, forced from them. Douglas, knowing the power of the Emigrant Aid Societies, proposes squatter sovereignty, with the positive certainty that the scum of Europe and the mudsills of Yankeedom can be shipped in in numbers sufficient to control the destiny of the embryo State. Since the admission of Texas in 1845, there has not been a single foot of slave territory secured to the South, while the North has added to their list the extensive States of California, Minnesota, and Oregon, and Kansas is as good as theirs; while, if Lincoln is elected, the Wilmot proviso will be extended over all the common territories, debarring the South for ever from her right to share the public domain.

“The hypocrites of the North tell us that slaveholding is sinful. Well, suppose it is. Upon us and our children let the guilt of this sin rest; we are willing to bear it, and it is none of their business. We are a more moral people than they are. Who originated [Pg 17]Mormonism, Millerism, Spirit-rappings, Abolitionism, Free-loveism, and all the other abominable isms which curse the world? The reply is, the North. Their puritanical fanaticism and hypocrisy is patent to all. Talk to us of the sin of slavery, when the only difference between us is that our slaves are black and theirs white. They treat their white slaves, the Irish and Dutch, in a cruel manner, giving them during health just enough to purchase coarse clothing, and when they become sick, they are turned off to starve, as they do by hundreds every year. A female servant in the North must have a testimonial of good character before she will be employed; those with whom she is labouring will not give her this so long as they desire her services; she therefore cannot leave them, whatever may be her treatment, so that she is as much compelled to remain with her employer as the slave with his master.

“Their servants hate them; our’s love us. My niggers would fight for me and my family. They have been treated well, and they know it. [Pg 18]And I don’t treat my slaves any better than my neighbours. If ever there comes a war between the North and the South, let us do as Abraham did—arm our trained servants, and go forth with them to the battle. They hate the Yankees as intensely as we do, and nothing could please our slaves better than to fight them. Ah, the perfidious Yankees! I cordially hate a Yankee. We have all suffered much at their hands; they will not keep faith with us. Have they complied with the provisions of the Fugitive Slave Law? The thousands and tens of thousands of slaves aided in their escape to Canada, is a sufficient answer. We have lost millions, and are losing millions every year, by the operations of the underground railroad. How deep the perfidy of a people, thus to violate every article of compromise we have made with them! The Yankees are an inferior race, descended from the old Puritan stock, who enacted the Blue Laws. They are desirous of compelling us to submit to laws more iniquitous than ever were the Blue Laws. I have travelled in the North, and have seen the depth [Pg 19]of their depravity. Now, my fellow-citizens, what shall we do to resist Northern aggression? Why simply this: if Lincoln or Douglas are elected, (as to the Bell-Everett ticket, it stands no sort of chance,) let us secede. This remedy will be effectual. I am in favour of no more compromises. Let us have Breckinridge, or immediate, complete, and eternal separation.”

The speaker then retired amid the cheers of his audience.

Soon after this there came a day of rejoicing to many in Mississippi. The booming of cannon, the joyous greeting, the soul-stirring music, indicated that no ordinary intelligence had been received. The lightnings had brought the tidings that Abraham Lincoln was President elect of the United States, and the South was wild with excitement. Those who had been long desirous of a pretext for secession, now boldly advocated their sentiments, and joyfully hailed the election of Mr. Lincoln as affording that pretext. The conservative men were filled with gloom. They regarded the[Pg 20] election of Mr. Lincoln, by the majority of the people of the United States, in a constitutional way, as affording no cause for secession. Secession they regarded as fraught with all the evils of Pandora’s box, and that war, famine, pestilence, and moral and physical desolation would follow in its train. A call was made by Governor Pettus for a convention to assemble early in January, at Jackson, to determine what course Mississippi should pursue, whether her policy should be submission or secession.

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