The William A. Ruyle Diary, by an original member of the 5th
Printed by permission of Robert L. Ruyle, Lincoln, Nebraska
Yours, Wm. A. Ruyle Co. C, 5th Mo. Infty 1st Brig 2nd Division
A short sketch of my life and travels, also an outline of the camps and battle skirmishes that I have been in since I joined the Confederate Service January 11th, 1862.
William A. Ruyle
I seat myself with pen in hand to give you a short sketch of my life since I espoused the cause in common with the Southern people. these questions, dear father, I think I thoroughly investigated before I took the position I have taken. In investigating this I found myself to be a southern man of the deepest dyes ever, opposed to Jay hawking, stealing Negroes and other property, or gagging free white men, or insulting helpless women and children, which the enemy was heaping upon us even in our midst. Therefore I felt it a duty I owed to my God, my Country and family, to take up my gun in the ranks in common with my fellow soldiers and go forward and fight against these insults and oppressions being heaped upon us by the black Republicans of the North.
On the 11th day of January 1862 at a meeting of the Friends of the South at Pleasant Prairie Chapel, Polk County Missouri, called for the purpose of recruiting for General Price's Army, then at Springfield, Mo., after eating the sweet dainties which the southern ladies of the neighborhood had prepared and brought in for the soldier who would fight for their right, several speeches were made. After which A.C. Bradford proposed to raise a Cavalry Company, to act as bodyguard for General Price. About thirty brave boys responded to the call. I was one among them who arose before the stand and was sworn into the Confederate Service in the presence of a large number of ladies and men both old and young. After this we were called into line and elected A.C. Bradford, Captain of the squad, who reported us to General Price for duty.
We were ordered to Springfield on the 25th of January on account of a forward move of the enemy, then in force near Rolla, Mo. We were quartered in a Negro church south of the public square. The weather was very cold, a snow was on the ground. On Sunday, the 26th, we were organized as a company of about ninety in number. We elected A.C. Bradford Captain, unanimously. Jas R. Mitchell was unanimously elected 1st Lieut., Avington W. Simpson was unanimously elected Senior 2nd Lieutenant, John M. Smith was elected, by a majority of about 20 over his opponent, W.J. Vankirk, for Junior 2nd Lieutenant. Benjamin L. Mitchell was chosen 1st Sgt., H.N. Tuck 2nd Sgt., J.P. Redmond 3rd Sgt., W.A. Ruyle 4th Sgt. and M.V. Mitchell 5th Sgt. Jas. A. Mitchell was chosen 1st Corporal, Robert C. Kerr 2nd Corporal, Ed E. Tuck 3rd Corporal and Arthur Mitchell Sr. 4th Corporal.
We remained in Springfield in "Africa" as we called it, until February 4th, when we moved camp to Ebenezer. Meanwhile we were organized into a Battalion with Capt. Smith's and English's Companies. Electing Gibbins, Major of the Battalion. He appointed Lt. Jas R. Mitchell his adjutant. During the most of the time we camped at Ebenezer I was at home buying stock, wagons, provisions etc. for the Company and Battalion. We had a very pleasant camp here. We quartered in the Perkins houses, having no tent yet. Thus we remained in quiet and seemingly peace, until Feb. 12th when we were ordered to Springfield. Immediately we loaded up and arrived in Springfield about 8:00 PM, but the whole of General Price's Army had commenced a retreatment southward, on the account of the advance of a superior Federal force. Therefore we marched on until about midnight, then we caught up with our army in camp, on the Oak Hill Battlefield. Here we lay on those sharp flint rocks without tents until morning, it was very cold. Next morning, 13th, we renewed the retreat hard all day and went into camp at McCullock's Store. Here several boys and I went back about five miles after tents. I don't think I ever suffered more real pain on account of cold than I did that evening going back after those tents, facing the sharp north wind, sleet, and snow as it came meeting us exactly.
We then messed out in messes of 8 and 10. My mess was Lt. Jas R. Mitchell, Sgt. B.L. Mitchell, Sgt. M.V. Mitchell, L.H. Boyes and several others. On the morning of Feb. 14th we again renewed our march to Crane Creek where we stopped, stretched our tents, fixed our suppers and were ready for a good nights rest, when suddenly we were ordered to load our baggage and form a line of Battle, which we did immediately in double quick time. About this time our pickets were driven in and the enemy was shooting their big guns at us, having them close enough for us to see the flash of the powder when they fired. It was not long before our boys drove them back and we again took up a line of march, marching hard all night until an hour before day. Then we made a halt on Flat Creek and stayed there until the Infantry came up to get something to eat. It was extremely cold, so much so that a great many of our boys froze their toes during the night. After we ate a bite, fifty of our Battalion was called for the Rear Guard, where the baggage was. The Infantry had not arrived yet, when Jas. R. Mitchell, who had been dispatched by Capt. Smith, came to General Price informing him that they had been fired on by the enemy's Advanced Guard. We were all immediately ordered back to meet them. For this purpose we dismounted and walked with Col. Rossers Battalion, the wagons were ordered southward. We marched back, several miles, until we learned that the enemy had fallen back. By the time both Cavalry and Infantry were very hungry and worn for want of sleep, also some had sore feet.
Here I will say that General Price displayed his regard for suffering humanity and for his soldiers, by taking many of his tired soldiers up behind him and crossing them over Flat Creek. Never will those soldiers forget their old Chieftain, for this display of humanity. Never will I forget his words when he started back, as he passed the boys he said, "Come boys lets go back there, if there are some Feds back there, we may catch them." And I tell you nearly all the boys, tired, worn and sleepy as they were, went back without a murmur.
We again took up our march and went in a fast gallop, from Cassville to Keytesville, that is most of the Cavalry, with old Pap at our head. We heard that the enemy was about to come in before us and thereby capture our baggage, and cut off our retreat. We found they did not succeed in doing this, so we went into camp about three miles south of Keytesville at Major Harbins about 1 o'clock in the night. On the morning of Feb. 16th we marched again until we came near Sugar Creek, when the enemy attacked our Rear Guard near Keytesville and we again counter marched, and went back a few miles, Infantry and all. Hearing that the enemy had fallen back again we pursued our retreat. But again we were attacked and again we counter marched three times that day and did not get into camp until late in the night. The camp was on Sugar Creek. Just before we arrived at camp we met the forces under Gen's McCullock and McIntosh, who told us as we passed them they would stand picket for us while we got a good nights rest. I must say I don't think I was ever more pleased to see any men than I was to see these forces. And I think all of the other boys were equally so, as I, for I believe I stood the hardships of the retreat much better than many others, we were all completely worn out, General Price's Cavalry and Infantry. We remained in camp all night. The next morning, Feb. 17th we again took up a line of march. About 2:00 PM the enemy's Advance Guard came on our Rear Guard and a heavy fight occurred, both with artillery and small arms, which lasted for an hour. At last the enemy was forced to fall back. Fortunately for us we were not ordered back, being in advance. We arrived at Cross Hollow on the night of the 17th and remained until the morning of the 19th which was one of the coldest I ever saw, sleeting and snowing. We marched and camped on Brush Creek, a few miles north of Fayetteville, Ark.
Cousin L.B. Williams came to us on the 20th and joined our Company. We camped at Prairie Grove Church 6 or 8 miles south of Fayetteville on the 21st of Feb., my birthday. On Feb. 28th we went into the Infantry service by the consent of General Price. The majority of the company were convinced they could serve their country in that capacity more effectively and believing that the Infantry was the one that did the fighting and therefore would be the ones to receive the honor and we were determined to have our share of that, even at the very peril of our lives. So we sold our horses and went into Col. Rosser's Battalion, Gen. Slacks Brigade. We left about twenty of the boys in the Cavalry, who were not disposed to foot it.
On March 4th we took up a line of march northward with three days rations in our pockets, having no knapsacks and without any baggage, though it followed the next day. General Vandorn had arrived and took command of the whole force. The day was very cold with the wind and snow blowing directly in our faces. We camped near Fayetteville the night of March 4th. On March 5th we camped at Elm Springs. The next morning we learned there was a large force of the enemy at Bentonville, therefore we left camp at early dawn. About 10 o'clock our advance attacked them. it was a force of about 10,000 men under General Segle. We were ordered to double quick, which we kept up until we passed Bentonville. The enemy had left but not until they had burned a large portion of the town and were driven away by our brave boys though several of them lost their lives in doing so.
We marched on fighting occasionally until we came to Camp Stephens, a camp where General McCullock's Cavalry had been camped shortly before. Here we halted and rested a while for we were very tired indeed and our feet very sore from walking over the frozen ground. Here we ate the last of our three days rations. About dark we were ordered to march again, which we did until nearly morning. Then we made a halt about three or four miles west of Elk Horn, where the Federals were camped in force, commanded by General Curtis. Next morning, we marched around the enemy and came in on the north side of them near Tanyard. General Vandorn with the forces of Generals McCullock and McIntosh coming up on their front on the Fayetteville road. We commenced attack about 10 o'clock AM March 7th it soon became general. General Slack was mortally wounded in the first fire, while gallantly leading his Brigade, leaving the command to Col. Rosser. Our Battalion made a charge and took a fine piece of artillery, the enemy fleeing before us about as fast as their legs would carry them. The battle kept on constantly and fiercely until dark.
In the meantime we had made a general charge and drove the enemy from every position. We thought we had gained the day and the victory was ours, but to our dismay we learned that the forces of General Vandorn had met with defeat on the south and Generals McCullock and McIntosh were both killed. Their forces were moved around to us about night. The next morning the battle was renewed only from the north, until about 10 o'clock, when we were ordered to fall back and commenced our retreat in a southeastern direction. The most of our artillery went by the way of Keytesville, then by Huntsville. We marched on until night and camped, or rather lay out at VanWinklesville. We were very tired, hungry and down spirited, having waded White River and it was cold, I assure you. We had neither blankets, tents or anything to eat and no way of getting any. We lost our blankets on the battlefield. We parched corn and ate it for our supper, made large fires and laid down and slept the best we could all night, got up and ate parched corn the next morning for breakfast. In the battle of Elk Horn our company lost one man, mortally wounded. He was Henderson Russell, a gentleman and a brave soldier, one man wounded, Matthew Taylor, two taken prisoner, Sgt. J.P. Redmond and A.H. Harvey, they were taken to Alton, Illinois and there J.P. Redmond died, W.H. Harvey was exchanged.
Notwithstanding the battle of Elk Horn, the Missourians were not whipped and had no idea of the retreat until we were 4 miles from the field of battle. We continued to retreat and on Sunday, March 9th it commenced to rain very hard and was very cold and muddy, indeed. We had to wade White River and War Eagle several times during the day. Considering our hunger and everything, I believe we suffered as much that day as any soldier ever did since the war commenced. Some were in their shirt sleeves, some barefooted, this is true. I saw it and experienced it. We camped on War Eagle, March 9th, but we didn't get any rations except plenty of water, which poured down from the heavens in abundance. Here our Company did their last jay-hawking by killing a calf which happened to pass along. We had to eat it without bread or salt. We had a good joke on Uncle Cook who laid the pattern by shooting the calf. I was so hungry I even picked up turnip peelings out of the bud and ate them, and I saw many others do the same.
Here Arthur Mitchell, my brother-in-law, was taken very sick with Pneumonia and Typhoid fever. I was left with him at the Doctors until the 12th when his brother, James B. came back to wait upon him and I went on to the Army. They never did get to us anymore although Arthur recovered, after a long illness. I arrived at the camp about night March 12th, on the west fork of the White River. As yet we had not received any rations. The next morning we again renewed our march to camp on the head waters of the Frog Bayou. It commenced raining again in the evening and came down in torrents nearly all night. Here we were furnished a small ration of meal, which we made up with cold water, no salt or shortening, in a tin bucket we found. We baked this on rocks and boards. I heard many say they thought it was the best bread they had ever eaten and I thought so myself. Several of the boys met with bad luck in baking their bread. Some of the rocks were somewhat flinty and quite often you would hear a report something similar to a derringer pistol and on looking around you might see some poor comrades rations flying in the air, a very unlucky thing for him as rations were not plentiful just then and he had to take the painful task of looking to his neighbor soldier for a division of his. The next day we marched as usual. The creek, Frog Bayou was very high, it was still raining, consequently we had to wade many times, and go around over rocks, hills and bluffs where it seemed to me that no other person had ever been before or ever would be again. Thus we traveled on until night and came into frog Bayou again. It rained continuously all night. We built shelters of rails and covered them with straw hat was close by, but unfortunately during the night the wind blew very hard and several of the shelters blew down on the boys and they had to get out and do the best they could all night. We received a ration of flour and bacon the next day. The flour we made up with cold water and baked it around sticks, we broiled our bacon and fared real well.
This was the night of March 14th. The next day we had to travel about the same as we did the day before. Some wading the creek, some going around over the hills, and over and under bluffs and we camped the 15th on the mountain without rations. The next day it cleared off and was very pleasant so we marched on with renewed vigor, though we were very tired and hungry, until we came to our wagons and baggage which was in camp 5 miles east of Van Buren on Big Frog Bayou. We arrived about 3:00 PM. Here we found plenty of rations, such as flour, pork, beans, rice, sugar, coffee, beef, and sweet potatoes. You should not be surprised if some of us nearly floundered. Several taken the diarrhea and had it for three months. I was among them. By this you see we were out thirteen days, fighting three of the thirteen days and only started with a shot three days rations, we stole about one rations of flour and sugar from the Feds on the night we lay on the battlefield, and got at other times about a full ration, such as it was. Traveled over a rough, rocky, mountainous country, being almost destitute of anything in the way of provision. We only had plenty of one thing and that was water and I assure you we had that in abundance.
Taking all this put together we suffered almost to death. Many were doubtless brought down to their graves soon by the hardships they endured on this retreat. In the whole retreat and battle we only lost about seven hundred out of our whole army, killed, wounded and taken prisoners. Our force was less than 14,000 men. The Federal force was 20,000. We got several pieces of artillery and lost none. Neither did we lost any of our baggage. We remained in camp until the 24th of March when we were ordered to take up the line of marching the direction of Desarc on the White River. This was one of the most pleasant marches I ever was in, but before marching a part of our Battalion, Capt. Bradford's, Waddell's, Lemmon's, Cole's and Gutherie's Companies joined Bevier's Battalion of four companies and elected Jas McCown, then a private in Waddell's Company from Warrensburg, Lt. Colonel; and R.S. Bevier of Macon County, Missouri, Major, and joined the 1st Missouri Brigade of Missouri Infantry, commanded by Brig. Gen. Little.
We camped on Big Mulberry the night of the 24th. Camped near Ozark, March 25th. Camped on Horse Head, March 26th. Camped five miles east of Clarksville the 27th. Camped on Illinois Bayou the 28th. Camped on Devil's Creek the 29th. At this place L. Smith and I was left sick with one of his uncles by the name of Holder, who treated us with the greatest kindness We were up again in a few days and got to the Brigade again at Desarc on April 7th. On April 8th we embarked on the boat Hartford City and started for Memphis, Tenn, leaving all our wagons behind. We arrived there on April 12th after 4 days sail, the old boat was very light and the wind blew very hard, which caused the river to be very rough. Many of the boys had never seen a boat before, much less ride on one, therefore they were very uneasy. It in fact was a very perilous trip. Many times when a boat would pass, the boys would all run to one side and the old boat would dip water. I had seen and rode on many before, therefore I was not so frightened. When we arrived at Memphis, we disembarked and then looked over the city for an hour or so. We were then ordered to get on the cars and go to Corinth, Miss. General Beauregard had just fought the Battle of Shiloe. We were to reinforce him. We arrived there about noon on April 13th, got off and ate our dinner, after which we were ordered back on the cars and went to Rienza arriving there in the night. We got off the Iron Horse as the boys called it and went into camp. We had brought all our baggage with us.
Rienza is a depot station about twelve miles south of Corinth, Mississippi. We remained there several days, drilling etc. On the 15th we cooked three days rations and got on the old box cars and went to Corinth but returned the same day. On the 24th we cooked three days rations and went to Corinth again but did not get off the cars until we returned to Rienza again, it being Sunday. About this time our wagons caught up with us. During the time we had to make a tiresome trip to Jacinto to stand picket for the Militia while they organized. It rained and was very muddy. May 4th we were again ordered to Corinth, arrived there the same day, got off and went on the hill northeast of Corinth and lay all night without tents. It rained all night in torrents and we did not have a dry thread on us. The rain almost froze as it fell. Some of the boys thought this was the worst night they had experienced but I thought differently, as we were neither tired or hungry. On the 5th we marched about 4 miles southeast of Corinth and went into Camp. On the 8th we were ordered out to meet the enemy, and lay in the line of battle all night. The next day, May 9th we marched around the right of Farmington, where a considerable fight occurred in the evening which lasted sometime until the enemy retreated back toward Pittsburg, under cover of their gunboats. In this battle our 1st Lt. Jas. R. Mitchell fell, mortally wounded, while leading his company. He had command of the Company, as Capt. Bradford was at Rienza sick. We came into camp in the evening of the 9th. It was on this day that our fellow soldier and comrade, James A. Ewing, left this life, at Rienza, after an illness of about ten days with the measles. He was buried at the graveyard a mile west of the depot. James A. Ewing was one of the most amiable young men I have ever seen, he was a true gentleman, and a brave soldier, having fought in the battles of Carthage, Oak Hill, Dry Wood, Lexington and Elk Horn. He was a true Christian and died happy in full triumph of a living glory beyond the dark vale of the grave. He left behind many warm friends and relations to mourn their loss. But their loss was his eternal gain. He was 2nd Lt of the company while in the State Guards, but at the time of his death e was a private, as he did not, like many others, aspire to any office.
Lt. Jas R. Mitchell was taken to the hospital at Corinth by his brother, Van, who waited on him during his illness. he bore his suffering and pain in the greatest fortitude, hardly as much as groaning, until he died on may 15th. He was a true Christian and died as such, and no doubt his soul was wafted to Glory and God on High. He had no enemies but many warm friends, which he had wherever he was known. He was living in Texas when the war began. he joined the gallant 3rd Louisiana Regiment and was with them at the Battle of Oak Hill. Soon afterward he got a transfer to the Mo. Army and served his term out, in the State Guard. he was with us in the Battle of Elk Horn and the retreat. I never saw him out of humor during the whole trip, but bore all the hardships with never a murmur. I will add the remark I heard Capt. Gunels, his Capt. in the 3rd La. Reg., make. He said in all his travels, he was about 40 years old, he never met a man that was as complete and accomplished a gentleman, and all who intimately knew him could bear him witness to his assertion. thus we lost a true friend, a brave soldier and a gallant officer. He was buried a mile east of Corinth, in the graveyard. At his head we placed a board with this inscription -- 1st Lieut. Jas. R. Mitchell Co. C. 4th Batt. 1st Brig. Mo. Vol. C.S.A. there is also two brickbats under the dirt at the boot of his grave. He was my cousin and messmate, and was one day younger than I. He was in his 23rd year when he died. His merits cannot be written by me. Two of our best boys are gone from us forever on this earth, yet their Spirits are mingling in Heaven with the Godly who have gone before them, but cannot forget them on earth.
About the 13th of April we moved camp west of the railroad to a camp called Churchill Clark. We remained at the camp until the 28th, the health of the Company was very bad. I was sick with yellow jaundice. There was skirmishing and cannonading almost every day. We kept five days rations cooked and in our haversacks all the time. Consequently we lived very hard. We were brought into line of battle every two or three days while we were there. Sometimes we lay in this position all night and in the rain. On the 25th a general move, both the Army and baggage. the baggage moved to the south and the Army went east to the Battlefield, where they stayed all night until the Baggage could get out of danger, then they retreated toward the south also. The sick, including myself, Capt. Bradford, Uncle John Cook, Parson Spillman and several others of our Company were sent to the temporary depot to go on the cars. We lay there all day, during which time I saw several poor soldiers die on a single blanket on the ground for want, no doubt, of proper attention.
During the day a Texas Regiment has a severe fight with the enemy. Our boys drove them back in a short time. Our wounded and those of the enemy were brought there and a hospital established. Therefore the wounded, with the thousands of sick that were there made this an uneasy place to be. About dark General Beauregard and staff come along and gave orders for every man that could walk to go to Rienza. Fortunately all of our Company except Parson Spillman could walk. We put him on the cars and he died at a depot station on the railroad. Parson Spillman was a minister of the gospel in the Baptist church, he was a Christian and a gentleman. The rest of us started on to Rienza and arrived there about daylight the next morning. It was only about 3 miles. We had to walk over all the trestles and it was very tiresome indeed. Many gave up and lay down to die, many did die, several went to sleep on the railroad track and were killed by the cars. The next morning a party of cavalry dashed into Boonville, a station twelve miles south of Rienza, and burned a train of cars loaded with sick soldiers and ammunition. Several poor soldiers perished in the flames. The bombs that were on the cars burst and caused great confusion at Rienza. We thought it was the enemy's artillery ahead of us. We were then ordered to go west out of the way, which we did and trudged along the best we could until we got to our baggage, which was at Baldwin station about 20 miles from Rienza. We arrived there June 1st. this was the worst time I had seen sick men traveling at this rate when they aren't able, can't be done except when they think the enemy will get them. This was the shape we were in.
All the boys came into the wagons, the 2nd, like us, hungry and fatigued. We were ordered to keep three days cooked rations on hand. All the sick were sent south. This march entirely cured me. We remained here until the 7th, then we marched south again and arrived at camp on the 8th, this Camp was called Priceville. About the 8th of July the Battle before Richmond took place. Our army gained a great victory. On the 15th we moved camp a half mile and dug wells and built arbors, which made us very comfortable, but health was still very bad. July 28th we marched to Saltilo, 12 miles north of our camp. Our baggage did not come up for 2 days and we were without rations or tents and it rained almost incessantly. We didn't have anything to eat for two days except some roasting ears we could buy at 50 cents per dozen. the wagons came up the 30th and we went into camp, built arbors, dug wells, etc. We remained in the camp until the 6th of September.
During this time the weather was very hot and health still bad. Peaches and apples came and we had to pay from 10 cents to 50 cents per dozen for them and from one to five dollars apiece for watermelons. I have forgotten to say that about the 1st of July Lt. Smith and his brother Huton were discharged and we elected James L. Mitchell in his place. Promoted Lt. Simpson to 1st Lt. and elected Fountain F. Smith 2nd Lt. Also elected W.M. Bewley to 2nd Sgt. I was promoted to 3rd Sgt. Jas M. Walton 4th Sgt. and Samuel Lane 5th Sgt. M.V. Mitchell was promoted to Quarter Master at Camp Churchill Clark. Our company was on picket the 5th of Sept. when the 2nd and 3rd Brigades moved. So we came in, in the morning and our Brigade moved to Camp Vandorn near Boonville Station, leaving the Captain and several of the boys sick, who went south to a hospital. On the evening of the 10th we left Camp Vandorn and marched to Baldwin. In the night of the 11th we took up a line of march toward Iuka with the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Brigades. We camped on the waters of Thorn Bayou. On the 12th we camped at the Bay Springs. It rained very hard, our baggage did not get in until late in the night of the 13th. We stopped 13 miles from Iuka and fixed our supper and marched again at midnight.
About daylight we were drawn into line of battle and ordered to load our guns, after this was done we marched on until we were within two and a half miles of Iuka and to my relieve we learned the Feds had evacuated the place leaving a large quantity of baggage, etc. We moved on into Iuka, which we found to be fairly well fortified on all sides. The enemy went in the direction of Corinth.
We went into camp near town and had plenty to eat. On the 14th of September several prisoners and Negroes were brought in. On the 15th we marched out a mile from town and lay all night then returned to camp again, on the morning of the 16th. On the evening of the 17th we marched out a mile from town and formed a line of battle, loaded and capped our guns, ready for a fight. in fact we thought the feds were right there. I remember old Pap came along and said "shoot'em low boys, whack'em about the knees."
We lay on our arms all night and it rained. Next day I was taken with a chill, and high fever followed, therefore I was taken to camp. The boys came in on the evening of the 18th and were ordered out again about 9:00 PM. They went about three miles from Iuka and formed a line of battle. On the 19th they were still on the battlefield and fighting commenced about a half hour before sunrise and continued until about a half hour after dark, shooting at each other only by the flash of the guns. We commenced our retreat toward Baldwin on the morning of the 20th. Our Brigade did not suffer in the battle much, only four or five men in our regiment were wounded. Lt. Simpson of our Co. wounded slightly in the arm, Gen. Little was badly wounded. The Texas and Arkansas' of the 2nd Brigade were the ones that suffered most. Our loss in the battle was about 150 killed and wounded. it was thought the Feds loss was much greater. We lost nothing worth naming on our retreat. On the morning of the 20th our rear guard had a hard fight with the Feds advance guard, near Iuka. We camped that night about 20 miles from Iuka. We arrived at Baldwin Station again on the 22nd of Sept. We were tired and hungry and therefore needed to rest, which we did until the 26th. Then we marched with a 2 day ration in a western direction. About dark a cloud came up and one of the heaviest rains, I ever saw, fell it was so dark we could hardly see our hands before us.
The country was very hilly and the roads very muddy. I think nearly every man fell down from one to a dozen times that night. I have never seen such muddy men, before or since, as we were when we camped, which was near midnight, about 4 miles northwest of Baldwin. Gen. Hebert was then in Command of the Division. Col. Gates of the Brigade and Gen. Price the Corp. The next day, Sept. 27th, we marched to camp, near Ripley, and remained there till the 28th, on this day we drew out money, it was the second payment. On the 29th we cooked three days rations and marched to Ripley, Tipper Co. and camped. On the 30th we marched 10 miles north of Ripley and camped. That day we formed a junction with Gen. Vandorn's forces, consisting of Generals Rusts', Ross', Lovels', Villipigs' and Tillmans' Brigades. We must have had between twenty and thirty thousand men. General Vandorn was the senior general. And was therefore in command of the whole force.
On the night of October 1st we camped at Pocahontas, Tennessee, it was the first time we had been out of Mississippi since we came here. On October 2nd, we marched in the direction of Corinth, Mississippi, and camped 10 miles east of Pocahontas. On the 3rd we marched up northwest of Corinth, where the Feds were then in force, under Gen. Rosencrantz, about thirty thousand strong, and commenced the attack. We first opened up artillery, next we charged and drove the Feds from their outside breastworks and took several pieces of artillery. This was Gen. Greens' and our Brigade: mostly ours, who so bravely charged and took the breastworks under Gen. Bragg last spring. our little company was commanded by Lt. F.F. Smith. We did not get a man hurt that day. We were ordered up forward about a mile where Gen. Green had a terrible fight on our right which lasted at least an hour.
At last Gen. Green was reinforced and drove the enemy back. it was here Gen. Green's Brigade suffered their greatest loss, they were in an open field with a shower of cannonading and musketry all the time. In the meanwhile we were lying o their left in an open field and it seemed that all the balls just passed over us. The weeds were about four feet high and when I would look up I could see the bullets cutting the tops off the weeds over us continually. This time I think I got closer to the ground than I ever did before and I think the others can say the same. if we had been 10 feet forward on the top of the hill, I don't think any of us would have escaped. Some of the Companies, in one Regiment, who were higher up, suffered greatly. We were again ordered forward to the Mobile and Ohio railroad. Here we lay on our arms all night, without blankets or coats and almost without rations, occasionally shooting at the Feds and getting water out of the mud holes on the other side of the railroad. This was the only water we had to drink, just then.
About an hour before day the Feds opened their batteries upon us, some were large pieces, and continued roar of cannonading was kept up until the charge was made about 9:00 AM. The feds had a line of skirmishers in our front in a good position, who would shoot our men whenever they would poke their heads above the railroad. In this way they killed and wounded some of our best officers and soldiers who were anxious to get a shot at them. Samuel Lane a Sgt. of our Co. was hit, by a spent ball, in the forehead but the wound proved to be slight and he soon was well.
At about 9:00 we were ordered to charge their inside fortifications near Corinth about a quarter mile from the railroad. This we promptly did, driving back a strong line between us and the breastworks, yelling and hollering. We charged their breastwork and drove them midst a shower of cannon balls, and musketry which was poured upon us from the front, right and left. This was because our forces on the right and left didn't come up promptly at the right time. We remained in their breastworks, fighting to hold our position and receiving the crossfire of the Feds for more than a half hour.
We had possession of a large number of cannons which they had deserted. This was one of the bloodiest places I ever saw. On all sides of me I could see both the enemy and our men lying killed and wounded, shot in almost every way you could think of, groaning and dying in the bleaching sun in the dust which was about 6 inches deep. Every second it seemed I could see some comrade fall dead or wounded. At last, giving up all hopes of getting reinforcements, meantime the enemy had received reinforcements and had rallied again, we were bound to fall back and give up all we had gained, this we did in considerable disorder, in spite of all officers. This was October 4th, 1862. The Battle of Corinth, Mississippi was one of the bloodiest affairs of the war.
Gen. Greens' and our Brigade's suffered the greatest loss. Gen. Heberts'' old Brigade suffered greatly as well. Gen. Price's Corps suffered more than all the rest of the Army. The Missouri Army suffered the greatest loss in his Corps. Their loss was about 800 killed and wounded. A great many of Missouri's brightest and best officers and soldiers fell at Corinth. The loss of our Regiment was about 350 in the Battle. About 100 were killed and wounded. One Capt. and four Lt's were killed and several wounded. Some four or five men were killed and wounded with the Colors of our Regiment. Lt. Smith of our Company was killed near the breastworks. Corporal Jas. A. Mitchell was shot through the leg and his leg was taken off below the knee. He has since recovered. James Spillman was wounded through the thigh. W.E. Fullerton wounded in the heel, but none of them mortally. Capt. Lemmons of Polk County, Mo., lost his right arm and there was 17 of his men wounded, some of them severely but none mortally. The Missourians stood up side by side, fought and died like men and true patriots, as they were.
We rallied and marched about 6 miles from the field of battle, where we rested and cooked and satisfied our hungry appetites. I was thoughtful enough to pick up a corn dodger, just as we crossed the R.R. as we made our charge, that some soldier had dropped. this I put in my haversack and made me a fairly good meal that evening. I only shot thirteen times in the Battle. Some shot all their ammunition. the next morning we marched on until Gen. Grant, with a force of 10,000 met us at Hatchie River.
Col. Whitfield with his Texas Legion had a hard fight with the Feds before we got there. He was left there to guard the place. Soon after we got there we repulsed them. The loss here was heavy on both sides. Col. Whitfield's Legion principally lost the most men. Gen. Vandorn gave the command to Gen. Price and we took a left hand road and left the enemy on our right and marched nearly all night. Many a good soldier marched that night until he could not march any longer and gave up and was taken by the enemy shortly afterwards. We stopped near Ripley a short while before day and rested until morning then we marched near town and camped until Oct. 7th. This revived us considerably. We marched again to camp, 6 miles west of Ripley. On the 8th of Oct. we marched until night, stopped cooked rations and marched all night. The enemy and our rear guard were fighting every few miles, therefore we marched on until the 13th, then we arrived at Lumkins Mill near Holly Springs, Mississippi and went into camp.
Our 1st Sgt. B.L. Mitchell went back with a detail to bury the dead, but were denied that privilege and returned in about ten days. They took our wounded to Iuka, where they were well treated, both with medical aid and provisions. On Oct. 20th we moved camp about half a mile to the lake. here we had the best of water and the health of the company was very good while at this camp. Lt. Simpson recovered of his wound, and he and most of the boys who were at the hospital, came up. Our rations while here was corn meal, beef, and pork, occasionally sweet potatoes, sugar, molasses and rice. Occasionally we bought flour at 25 cents per pound and pork at the same price, and lard at 50 cents per pound. Our clothing was not very good and many slept cold for want of bed clothes. I don't know what we would have done if it hadn't been for the kind ladies of Mississippi, who took the carpets off of their floor and gave us free of charge. They sent us many blankets, socks and all kinds of clothing, which was very acceptable just at that time of need and they were thankfully received.
Those kind women continued to send us articles of clothing, as we needed, all winter for which we will ever feel grateful and hope you and all our connections and well wishers will also have the same grateful feeling to them for their kindness to us in such a time of need, when you didn't have it in your power to help us any, yourselves. While I was at this camp I paid twelve dollars for a common pair of homemade shoes. The price for all articles were in the same proportion. On Nov. 5th we were ordered to cook three days rations and be ready to move at a moments warning. The enemy were then moving on us near Holly Springs. The wagons all moved up to Abbeyville that day. We marched out into the field nearby and lay all day. It was cold and windy and the dustiest time I nearly ever saw. At night we went back and lay at our old camp. next day the wagons were ordered back and we cleared off a nice camping ground on the other side of the creek and went into regular camp again. this was Nov. 8th. In the night we were awakened and told to cook 3 days rations, which we did and marched again, on Nov. 9th, southward and camped near Abbyville about midnight. In the meantime the enemy had taken possession of Holly Springs. They had considerable fighting to do before they got it. While at this camp Capt. Bradford came to us, having been away from us ever since we left Saltilo, and brought us several bottles of fine brandy (which was only ten dollars a quart) and we had quite a jolly time drinking to his health.
On the 16th of November we marched about twelve miles to the Tallahassee bridge camp called Wyatts Ferry. We went to work immediately fortifying on a heavy scale, worked on breastworks. On Nov. 17th Bird Smith, who left us on August 23rd with letters to go to Missouri, came to us with answers. I reckon we were the proudest set of boys you ever saw. You should have seen us crowd around him to get letters and hear from home. This was the first time we had heard from home since we left there about the 25th of January.
B.L. Mitchell was elected Junior 2nd Lt., J.L Mitchell promoted to Senior 2nd Lt., W.M. Bewley was promoted to Orderly Sgt. and I to 2nd Sgt., R.C. Kerr to 3rd Sgt., Patton Denny to 2nd Corp'l, and S.H. Tuck to 3rd Corp'l. The rest of the Officers remained as they were. On the 28th we cooked three days rations and were ordered to be ready to move at a moments notice. On 29th heavy cannonading was distinctly heard near Holly Springs. On 30th all the baggage was loaded up and ready to move and moved early in the morning of Nov. 31st to the south.
December 1st the army all moved to camp ten miles south of Oxford, which we reached late in the night and cooked three days rations. On 2nd we marched to camp near Water Valley Station. It rained nearly all day and was very muddy and disagreeable. We marched very hard and several of the boys gave out and were left. The wagons did not get in until late in the night and it was still raining, therefore we had a disagreeable night. On December 3rd, we moved on two or three miles when a heavy cannonading was heard in our rear. We halted in a field and lay there all day until all the wagons had past.
At night we went into the woods and built fires, for it was very cold, and lay by them until 10 o'clock when we again took up a line of march through the mud. We marched until almost day, when we got to the wagons near Coffeyville, then into camp, a distance of 13 miles. On Dec. 4th we marched at 12 o'clock AM, all day long, and until 11 o'clock at night, through the rain and mud and camped about 6 miles from Granada to camp at Rogers Ferry, 11 miles from Granada. We camped about midnight, it was very cold and muddy. That evening our boys and the enemy had a hard fight, near Coffeyville, which resulted in a victory for our boys, who drove them back.
This camp was near the Yellow Bush River. We remained here with nothing of interest transpiring until December 24th when we marched to Granada and the whole army reviewed by President Davis, Gen. Johnson, Gen. Pemberton, Gen. Loring and Gen. Price. This was a grand thing, I thought and I believe most of the spectators thought that our Brigade was the best drilled Brigade in the Army. Next day, December 25th, Christmas we marched to camp again. Although it was Christmas there was not much difference between this and any other, except the boys would steal out and bore a hole in a log and fill it with powder and drive a pin in it and touch it off, it would roar like a cannon, but this was against orders.
On January 8th, 1863, I took the bounty and went into the service for the war. Several others did the same on that day. On Jan. 9th we moved camp a half mile and nearly all the Regiment built cabins out of pine poles, and fixed up for winter quarters. Our mess built a cabin 10 feet square, made boards and covered it stable fashion, with a comb to it. Most of the boys built theirs sheephouse fashion, that is, without any comb, all the water to run off on the side. We built a chimney with bud jams and made ourselves comfortable generally for the season.
On the 26th our times were out, as the boys called it. That is, it is just twelve months from the date of our enlistment into the Confederate service, the time we were first sworn to serve. Most of the boys had been sworn in for the war. We were ordered to march to Granada taking all our baggage with us, that evening about the time we got to Granada it commenced raining very hard and was very cold to be out without tents. We moved into a large smokehouse and accommodated ourselves the best we could for two days and nights. This was rather a hard and nasty place I assure you. Just imagine yourself in a smokehouse with five hundred soldiers, a good portion of them drunk, hollering, laughing, sweating, etc. etc., and it being cold, raining and the mud a foot deep anywhere outside, then you have the condition I was in. On the 28th we got on the Iron Horse and run to Jackson, the Capital of the State of Mississippi. Arrived there in evening of the 29th. We got off the cars and moved out about a mile southwest of the city and went into camps. It was rainy, cold and muddy time. While in camp at Jackson we were allowed to visit the city and look at the various buildings of the city. We were permitted to go to church in town. it was here that I heard my first Episcopalian preacher. He preached in a church that was a very fine specimen of architecture and tastefully decorated. It also had a fine organ and choir attached. This was new to us and therefore singular and amused many.
On Feb. 7th several regiments of our Brigade got on the cars and went toward Vicksburg and we cooked a days ration, ready to move at a moments notice. On Feb. 9th we went to Jackson, got on the cars with all our baggage and went near the Big Black River bridge. it must be remembered that the 1st Brigade had acquired a great reputation with the citizens, particularly the female portion, as well as old Pap. Therefore we were cheered from all sides as we passed by the ladies. They hollered, Hurrah for Gen. Price and the Missouri Boys. Our camp was named after the brave and valiant Col. Prichard of the 3rd Mo. Infy., who fell at the Battle of Corinth. Camp Prichard is only 13 miles east of Vicksburg and very frequently we were awakened in the dead hours of the night by the loud barking of these bulldogs. Therefore you may reasonably guess that this was an unpleasant and uneasy place. Every few days or nights just as it happened a Fed gunboat would pass or attempt to pass and then such another roar of cannons you never heard. Thus we were annoyed all the time we were in this camp. It was a low swampy place and it rained a lot and was very muddy and unpleasant. About Feb 26th a fed. gun boat named Queen of the West was captured by our boys on Red River, and a few days after that we sank another Fed. gunboat, Indianola, below Vicksburg. I will state that on the 21st of Feb. (my 24th birthday) I was on picket at the bridge.
About this time Old Pap returned from Richmond and on Feb. 28th he made an affectionate speech to us. Informing us that he was assigned to duty in Gen. Highmans place west of the River and would cross immediately to his post of duty. This was the ones that had been with him since the war began. On March 1st he reviewed us and bade us good-bye. We gave him up reluctantly after he assured us we would soon follow him. I never saw as many sad faces as I did when all the boys found Old Pap was surely going to leave us in Mississippi. On the 7th and 8th of March, one year ago we fought the Battle of Elk Horn, Arkansas. On March 7th Bird Smith came in with letters from home. No one, except those who have experienced what we have and are still doing so far from home, can tell or even imagine how glad we were to hear from our loved ones at home.
As I am now behind and have forgotten many dates I will omit many dates. On March 9th our Brigade moved to Grand Gulf, a four day march from Camp Prichard. We camped the first night three miles from Edwards Station, next night we camped near Lanyard, where Gen. Jackson once camped, next night camped near Rocky Springs and on the 12th came into camp near Grand Gulf on the Mississippi River. On the 13th we moved to our permanent camp on Mr. Hamilton's Farm three miles from the Gulf. Brig. Gen. Bowin of Missouri was in command of the Brigade composed of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 6th Missouri Infantry.
General Bowin gave us more liberty than we ever had before and all the boys loved him, almost equal to Old Pap himself. On march 19th a Federal sloop of war, which had passed Port Hudson, passed Grand Gulf. Several shots were passed from our guns and the boat, but no damage on either side. On March 20th all was quiet in camps. The trees are putting forth their leaves and everything becoming very green, which brings new thoughts of home to mind. On March 25th heavy cannonading was heard at Vicksburg which terminated in three gunboats passing our batteries.
On the 28th we had a heavy rain and storm. On 31st three gunboats passed Grand Gulf. We had five large guns planted on the river bank so you may guess we had quite a duel. One of our guns exploded and killed and wounded six or seven men, this was only damage done. Nothing of interest took place until about April 23rd or 24th when about seven or eight gunboats and transports passed Vicksburg. On April 29th seven gunboats attacked our batteries at the Gulfs and continued to attack for six hours without ceasing. not less than one thousand shots were fired. About fifteen were killed and wounded on our side. Among those killed was, the much lamented and heroic Col. of Artillery, William Wade of St. Louis, Mo. At dark that night our Regiment moved into the ditches and not long before all the boats passed our batteries, going down the river. Their intentions were to silence our batteries and then land troops but they failed in this. They marched their forces down the west side of the river and crossed them at the mouth of Bayou Peera, where they met Gen. Green with a part of the Brigade and had a sharp fight. On April 30th they where too strong for him and he had to fall back for reinforcements. On May 1st our Regiment and the 5th and 6th, Mo. Reg. with a small Alabama Brigade, which was sent from Vicksburg, met them near Port Gibson and had a hard fight lasting about six hours. We lost a great many, killed and taken prisoner, among whom were Sgt. Kerr, Thos. W. and A.B. Mitchell of our Company, who were taken to Alton, Illinois. There were too strong for us and we had to fall back.
The reinforcements, which Lt. Gen. Pemberton promised to send Gen. Bowin, failed to come and we commenced retreated towards Edwards Depot, on May 2nd. We had heavy hearts I assure you, for we found Grand Gulf the most pleasant place we had ever camped. The Feds were close after us all the way and therefore we were marched very hard night and day until we got near Edwards Station, on the night of the 3rd. We remained in camp several days during which time the pickets were generally skirmishing night and day. On May 7th Mr. Bird Smith left us for letters to Missouri. On May 12th we were ordered into the ditches at the railroad bridges across the Big Black River, and on the 13th we marched towards the enemy in the direction of Raymond
We formed a line of battle about two miles south of Edwards Station where we remained until the 15th. Most of the time it was raining and consequently it was very disagreeable. Skirmishing was going on most of the time in front of our lines. Our regiment and the 3rd was sent out reconnoitering about two and a half miles but the enemy had gone towards Jackson so we had no fight. The wagons were ordered up and we cooked three days rations and marched toward the enemy, who were east of Bakers Creek. We stopped about 11 o'clock at night on the 15th of May and lay in line of battle without blankets.
Our whole force was here, probably about thirty thousand men on the field, with Lt. Gen. Pemberton in command. On the morning of May 16th sun arose clear and consequently it became very hot as the day advanced. Early in the morning heavy skirmishing commenced all along the lines and soon the artillery told that the ball was open for our regiment supported six pieces of cannon, being about four rods in the rear of our Regiment was in front, consequently our company being the Senior Company, we were in the rear of the Regiment. I was acting 1st Sgt, therefor I was in the rear of the company. Just as we all got in line, and I think I shot two shots, the enemy made a charge on our right and the Georgians, who were on our right gave way in double quick time. Just as luck would have it, the First Missouri Regiment came up and poured a volley of musketry into them and prevented them from flanking us, which they had been doing and gotten within ten paces of us on the right and nearly that close all along the line. The were aiming to make a bayonet charge, thus you see we had to meet a heavy charge.
Very soon we gave them the Missouri Yell. (they were Missourians, Iowans, Illinoisans, Indianians & Ohioans, who had fought us before and knew the sound of the yell) and gave them a charge in the Missouri REBEL style. We routed them and took after them, in about three hundred yards we came to another line who were lying down over the hill, they raised up on their knees and gave us a fire. We kept crawling on them until we got, in many places, within ten paces of them. They spun around and gave way in wild disorder. We again gave the Missouri yell and took after them. In a short distance we came to another line where I was wounded in my left arm with a ball and had to go off the field.
The enemy massed their forces there and we were compelled to give back. Getting no reinforcements our whole line then began to retreat towards Vicksburg. I went on before the Army and came to where our baggage wagons were camped at Bovina Station. Here I found Lt. J.L. Mitchell wounded severely in the side of the face, Lt. Ben L. Mitchell wounded in three fingers and the right thigh slightly, and Corporal S. H. Tuck wounded in the hand. All of Bradfords Company and P.G. Rudd and Sgt. Sam Lane were missing and no doubt killed on the field. Sgt. Cid Johnson and W.W. Malicoat and several others of Lemmon's Co. were wounded and several killed. We, the wounded, went on with the baggage wagons to Vicksburg.
The army stopped at the Big Black River Bridge and formed a line of battle in the breastworks west of the River this was the 17th day of May. About 10 o'clock a.m. the enemy came up and attacked our boys. Here a Tennessee Brigade on the left disengaged themselves by running away in wild disorder, which caused a great many of the Missourians to get captured, who were disposed to stand their ground through even the hottest action the enemy flanked them. Of course they had to leave their position or be cut off entirely. The enemy got about forty pieces of artillery and nearly all that belonged to our Division. The whole army then retreated to Vicksburg, hotly pursued by the enemy.
Oh! how discouraging this was to us. In the evening all of the boys arrived at Vicksburg. On the morning of the 18th the enemy came on us at the breastworks and commenced firing on us which continued all day. That night we fell back into our inside works. On May 19th the Feds made a general assault but were repulsed with great loss at every point. On the 20th Thos. C. Mitchell was wounded in the head with a mini ball which fractured the bone, but soon got well and he again was at his post. Also Peter Griffin got wounded in the leg with a piece of shell, seriously and never was able for duty again.
On the 22nd the enemy again made a general assault but were again repulsed at every point. Rev. B.F. Mitchell of our Company was seriously wounded. From the 23rd to the 26th sharp shooting and heavy cannonading continued all round our lines night and day. On the 27th our River Batteries sank the Federal Gunboat, Cincinnati. About this time I went into the ditches again so did Lt. J.L. Mitchell, B.L. Mitchell and S.H. Tuck. I will not give any more dates except as they occur to my mind for I neglected to keep a pocket diary any further. I will just say that the siege of Vicksburg continued until the 4th of July.
All of the army was in the ditches night and day without relief and on 1/4 rations and that was generally poor. Beef and pea bread and towards the last we ate mule beef for we had no other kind and men as hungry as we were will eat most anything. Our Brigade was on reserve and consequently the Mo. Brigade suffered more than any troops around the lines. Our greatest loss was where the enemy undermined us at a high place and blew us up several times and then tried to come over. About 40 Missourians were killed at one blow up and a great many of the immortal 3rd Louisiana. It was here that I was wounded again in the hand by the explosion of a bomb, which broke my gun and shocked me very bad also.
Thos. C. Mitchell lost his right leg here, E.E. Thompson his right arm, S.H. Tuck and Corporal Patton Denny, of our Company, were seriously wounded. near this place Gen. Green was killed. Lt. James Woodward and Thos. Pyle of Company "D" were killed. Col. Urwin of the 6th Mo. with other brave Missourians, I do not know their names, were killed. On the 4th of July we were entirely out of rations and therefore had to surrender all our forces and all we had to the enemy on conditions. The Officers and men were all to be paroled on the 8th and marched out on the 9th and were given furloughs by General Pemberton for thirty days. Parole camps were established at Demopolis, Alabama. I was not able to march out and therefore I was left at the hospital and was treated very well by the Federals all the time I was there. I was allowed to go where I pleased inside of the ditches. During the time I was here I wrote about a dozen letters home but did not get any answers until I went to Demopolis, Alabama, on September 6th. On July 17th the Rev. B.F. Mitchell died. On July 28th Thos. C. Mitchell died and Corporal S.H. Tuck and Corporal Denny both died sometime in August.
On July 31st I got aboard a boat where there were about 600 wounded rebels on board. We arrived at New Orleans on August 2nd and remained until the evening of the 3rd. Soon after we landed at New Orleans, several thousand of the citizens crowded around to see us. Many of them having husbands, brothers and fathers on board. There was a mixed multitude of old men, young men old ladies and young ladies and down to small children and Negro. They were all southern of course.
The Federals placed two lines of Infantry Guards between us and the Assembly an would not let any of us get off the boat or let any of them come aboard. Soon they brought up 3 companies of what they called the 5th Texas Cavalry and front them toward the crowd and gave the order to CHARGE, and away they went brave as a wolf among lambs, right into the crowd. Father, you can't judge my feelings. When the charge was made they ran over, whipped over the head and back with their sabers, all that was in their way, old and young no regard to sex or standing. These people were the most prominent citizens of the city. This would not keep them away and 3 sections of the artillery was brought out and planted. They continued their charging and throwing lassos over their heads as long as we stayed there. Just before we left there on the evening of the 3rd they allowed them to bring some brandys, wines, bread, cake, meat and clothing for the wounded. A great many other things which they heaped on and would have loaded the boat had then been allowed. I never shall forget these good people. They allowed some of the soldiers to meet their wives at the guard lines and talk a few minutes with their wives, fathers and mothers. But as we left the charge was renewed with new vigor and the last I saw of them they were running in every direction with the Cavalry at their heals. We were changed to a steamship here which carried us across the Gulf of Mexico to Fort Morgan on the Mobile Bay. I saw several of the enemy's steamships as we crossed the Gulf. We were halted by the fire of one of our guns at the Fort, a distance of 2 miles, and one of our own boats came out and took us on board. They took us across the Mobile Bay to Mobile, Alabama, where we arrived on the night of August 4th. I will say here that Gen. Bowin, then a Major Gen. died near Edwards Station about 10 days after the surrender of Vicksburg. He was one of the best Officers Missouri ever turned out. In fact he was not second to any Major Gen. then in the Confederate Service. All the Missourians loved him next to if not as well as Old Pap. When we got to Mobile we went to a cotton house which afforded us a good shelter but a hard bed.
The ladies brought us plenty to eat and I again felt myself free as a Confederate Soldier ever gets. On the 5th after taking a view of the city and our gun boats and transports generally, I got a 30 day furlough and obtained transportation to Macon Station, Mississippi. I got aboard the cars and went at Confederate R.R. time to Macon. After I got there Asbury Tindle (who was in the same Company with me) and I went about six miles to an old rich farmer by the name of Smith, where we lived luxuriantly, until our furlough was out, on biscuits, fresh pork, chicken, watermelons, peaches, apples, potatoes, etc. All of which he had in abundance and was given to us free, by Mr. Smith and his kind lady, whom we will remember for her kindness as long as we live. They did not charge us a cent. We left there on September 4th and went to Macon obtained our transportation to Demopalis, Alabama, which was on the east bank of the Tombigby River. We arrived there on September 5th where we found the boys well, generally in Parole Camps.
Arthur B. and Thos. W. Mitchell had been exchanged for and were in camp. Sgt. Kerr was left in Alton with the small pox. Sgts. lane and Rudd had never been heard from and no doubt were both killed on the field at Bakers Creek. A great many of the boys had already crossed the Mississippi River and I was determined to cross. On Sept. 9th in company with John A.C. Mitchell, A. Tindle, Benton and Will Slagle we got a pass and transportation on the cars to Okaloma, Mississippi. We got there on the 10th and started out on foot. It was awful hot and dry. About the 15th we left Benton and Bill sick and on the 17th we crossed the river Mississippi. After we crossed the river we went through the woods and swamps until we got to a farm some ten miles.
The country was full of Feds. This was just below Friar's Point and 16 miles below Helena. We learned at the farm there were no Feds nearer than Helena and that there was a Confederate Company in camp about 8 miles off. We stayed all night near here and next morning we went to the camp. Here we fell in with Sam Ross who was going to Price's Army, also a detail from this company were just starting to headquarters with some prisoners and deserters. We decided to travel with them and traveled right down the Mississippi River for more than twenty miles. Sometimes we had to hide ourselves behind the lines until the enemy's boats would pass. We crossed White river at Hawkensberry's, and the Arkansas River at Red Fork, seven miles below the Arkansas post.
We traveled on without much trouble till we arrived at Price's Army, then in camp at Arkadelphia. About September 22nd we found a great many of our old acquaintances. I soon learned that William Ruyle, who I was most anxious to see, was left sick as the Army went to Helena. It was thought he had fallen into the hands of the enemy.
All the paroled Missourians were ordered to Washington, Arkansas to report to Col. Lawther in parole camp, and as soon as exchanged to be mounted into a Cavalry Regiment. This just suited all the boys. I did not go to camp but bought me a mare and rigging which cost me $475.00. Then I got a pass from Col. Lawther, then commanding the post at Arkadelphia, to go to Sherman, Texas. On October 10th I started for Texas. When I got to the Infantry in camp on the Little Missouri River I found Bird Smith with letters from my wife Anna, but they were not of as late a date as I got at Vicksburg, though I was glad to get them. I went through Browntown and crossed Red River at the mouth of Mill Creek and then to Clarksville in Red River County, Texas, then to Paris, the county seat of Lamar County, then to Bonham, the county seat of Fannin County.
Then I went to my Uncle Brown Ruyle in Grayson county. The distance of 250 miles which I traveled in about 6 days. I found all well at Uncle Browns. It had been about five years since I had seen any of them. They had left Missouri and moved to Texas 6 or 7 years ago. I also found Jesse Looney and family, Isaac Looney, Uncle Allen Williams, Uncle John Looney and Cousin Polly Ann Riddles and was treated with a great deal of kindness by all as much so as they were able.
I will never forget the kindness and hospitality shown to me by Aunt Rachel Ruyle and my cousin Mrs. Martha Ann Williams, who seemed to me more like a mother and sister than anything else. They furnished me with plenty of good clothing and warm blankets, which I was very much in need of at that time. I didn't have any blankets and little clothing. They gave this to me free of charge and I believe it came willingly from their hearts. I never shall forget them for the display of kindness. May God bless them. The blankets and clothing they gave me would have sold for $150.00. I enjoyed my stay at their respective houses with a great deal of pleasure for I felt more at home than I had since I had left home. I left them for the Army again about November 6th. Many of my relatives seemed sorry to part with me and some wept among whom were my dear cousin and Aunt, who I hated to leave. Also my Aunt's daughter Jane seemed to shed tears. All this brought new thoughts of home fresh to my mind. I also hated very bad to leave such friends as they were. I could not keep from weeping bitterly. I left them with a heavy heart.
I must acknowledge that I do not like Texas. It is a beautiful country to look at, but a hard country to live in. I went down to Paris and stopped a few days with Green Adams, Levi Slites and James Adams. I was treated with kindness by them. Mrs. Slites gave me a good pair of socks and they said they would do more for me if I would stay longer, but my time of absence had already expired and I had to leave them.
I traveled the same route I did going. I met a great many movers who had been banished from Missouri. they were principally women and children, driving their own teams, generally oxen. This made me feel very solemn in relation to my dear wife and children and the rest in Missouri. I thought you all would be banished too and if you were, what would you do and what would become of Anna. My mind was harassed night and day at these thoughts I assure you. When I got back to Washington I found Cousin Brown Williams and Uncle Wash there, who I was very happy to meet. I stayed with them all night and learned that the paroled boys had been exchanged and were at Camden and found that most of the boys were already mounted and organized into Companies.
I joined the company that most of my friends were in, which was commanded by Capt. McPike from north Missouri. The boys were killing hogs occasionally and had plenty to eat, and were pretty generally satisfied. Soon after I got there, one morning just before day we were roused up with the report that the Yanks were right on us so we fell in line immediately. I had no gun but soon borrowed one. A person can always get a gun at such times as this, you know. About the time we fell in, BANG!! BANG!! BANG!! went the musketry on the right and left not more than a mile off. I think, now for the Battle of Camden certain, I tell you it made many of the boys pale as well as myself.
They kept banging away for an hour, we were run out in line of battle and everything was in a stir all about Camden. We had quite a force there, both Cavalry and Infantry and all was out for the fight. The baggage was all packed up and wagons moving. It was awful cold. I thought my feet would freeze. By and by we were ordered back to camp and it turned out to be a sham battle -- the first thing of this kind I ever was in. I did not thank them for it either. They said it was done to try the pluck of some of the Arkansas conscripts (or cane nippers and joshes, as the boys called them). Well it did try them for some of them run off and have never been heard of since. About the last of November a detail was made to buy and drive stock. I was on the detail, we were sent down to Unito, Ark, and the edge of Louisiana. We bought a lot of hogs and some cattle and I was left at Hillsboro at the house of a Mr. Hoge, to feed the stock. I had quite a good time here, plenty to eat, etc...
Shortly afterward I returned to my company at Camden and about Christmas the Vicksburg Companies were thrown in with Young's Battalion, which made it a full Regiment and no doubt the largest and best Regiment of the Army. In the service department R.R. Lawther was elected Col., M.L. Young Lieut. Col. and Bennett, Major. Soon after we were sent to Monticello. Col. Lawther took command of all the Cavalry at that place, consisting of his own Regiment, Major Woods' Missouri Battalion and Col. Crawfords' Brigade.
Most all the time we were at this place I was out scouting the Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers. On one scout I went across the Arkansas River near Brownsville, there was 25 of us under Lt. N.G. Sennet, the 2nd Lt. of our Company. We met with a force of 80 to 100 Feds and had a little skirmish in which they were too strong for us, therefore we had a hard race for the timber about 10 miles distant. We lost one Missourian and three Arkansans. The Missourian and one of the Arkansans killed after they were taken. This was the hardest run and the hardest scout I was ever on during the time I was at this place. I was a special scout and was on one nearly all the time. I got good clothes, plenty of money, a new Sharps rifle and revolver pistol and always kept a fine horse and rig.
We left Monticello for Camden, March 1st. A day or two after we got there, Gen. Steel commenced his march from Little Rock towards Camden. I forgot to say that while we were at Monticello we had several hard skirmishes with Clayton Cavalry of Pine Bluffs.
We lost one man from Polk County, William Jobe and a man by the name of Price lost his hand. As soon as the news of Steel's advance reached us we moved across the Little Missouri toward Arkadelphia. We met them at the Turnwall Bridge and repulsed them. In the meantime I was acting as a private scout. Part of the time in front of enemy and part of the time in the rear. I learned that Gen. Steel had a force at that time of 6000 Infantry and 3000 Cavalry, 22 pieces of cannon, 350 wagons. He afterward was reinforced by Blounts old Army and Col. Williams of Mo., with 2 Regiments of Negro Infantry and 2 Cavalry Regiments (white) which made in all about 15 or 16 thousand at or near Spoonville. Myself and two other gentlemen were in the enemy's rear when suddenly Gen. Shelby's Command came upon us. We thought they were the enemy and we commended a hasty retreat for the brush but not till they were in 60 or 70 yards of us. They halted us once, twice, thrice, but we run the faster, bang, bang, went their guns and revolvers, here we had it, them shooting and running us with all their might when suddenly my horse fell down and rolled over me, then jumped up and left me.
Just then I chewed up my parole and studies about Alton, and many other things. in a minute they came on me, took me prisoner, took my gun and pistol. Horrible was my feelings at the time but in a short time I found to my great surprise and satisfaction that I was in the hands of my own men and therefore I was immediately released. One of my partners had his horse killed and was badly wounded himself. The other one got away and bore the news to camp of our capture. You should have heard the boys yell when I got to camp the next day.