Letters from a civil war vet continuePublished 12:49pm Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Got mail for the first time in eight weeks. I would like to be home tonight, but not to stay.
We had many battles, but not big ones as we marched to camp over mountains.
Went down to City of Nashville and had my picture taken.
Sure would like to be home for Christmas morning. A great battle is pending with the bold rebels. In camp near Trinne, a small village I ran into George Henderson (from Dowagiac) and had a big ham. We left there and stole a ton of meat and other eatables. Today I was standing near J. Hall when he was shot. We carried him back and he died that night. This was in the Battle of Stone River. Desise Arnold of Silver Creek and Adonian Northrup of Calvin also died the same day. At the Stone River Battle, R. Norton (Lagrange) was shot and Oliver Momany had his eye shot out. I was lucky to survive this battle. Col. Roberts was shot and Capt. William Townsend was captured.
Dead rebels lay real thick over the field, and so did our soldiers, some shot all to pieces. Today the fourth we buried J. hall and looked for the body of Col. Roberts. We found a good number of our regiments’ bodies. On the 12th we were furnished with shelter tents (pup tents). In the battle we couldn’t have coffee as we could have no fires. A lot of men died from disease. For breakfast all we had was hardtack and raw pork with cold water. I saw a cannon ball cut a man’s head off and kill two others. I was standing beside the captain of Co. H. when he was shot dead. C. W. Nichols of 11th Michigan Infantry was wounded in the head. He was from Volinia. (Later married his sister, said Jim Riely). Jim described a lot of this battle. It was January 5h before we could bury our dead. He said it was awful and he saw as high as 300 men, most in terrible condition. He tells of having five ullet holes in his clothes and not one drew blood. His regiment went into battle with 363 and lost 166. Jim was a lucky man for sure. We finally pitched our tents for the first time in two weeks.
Many times we were ordered out on a picket line and marched in the cold and mud.
James was one of five men in his company in the ele tion to be placed on The Roll of Honor. Jim got $65 on the payoff.
Not much went on in March.
On the 10th, Leonard R. Norton of LaGrange, who was wounded in December, returned to the company. There was a lot of drilling and inspection at this time.
Lieutenant Townsend came back to the company. More drilling and inspections. Townsend was a prisoner at the Battle of Stone River. The boys chipped in and bought him a new sword. He told James to throw away his gun and surrender, and James told him to go to hell.
A man was shot by a woman in a low den of prostitutes. Jim stewed some mulberries for his dinner.
Wen to church and saw 24 soldiers baptized. There were 6,000 boys to witness the scene.
“Cardinal Charlie” Gill writes a nostalgic weekly column about growing up in the Grand Old City. E-mail him at email@example.com