THE CIVIL WAR
FROM A CHILD’S POINT OF VIEW
PRICE 50 CENTS
PREFACE OR APOLOGY
When one writes a book, a preface is in order. Mine shall be by way of explanation. The only apology I have to offer for writing this little personal pronoun “I” story is the very simple one that it is true. It has been said that “we never talk so well as when talking of ourselves.” Be that as it may, in telling my own story, I can tell it only in the first person. It is a story that is very dear to me, probably much more so than it will ever be to any one else. In writing it I have lived it all over, and it has been so real to me that I have seemed to be again within hospital walls, peopled by those whom I have called up from the shadows of the past. In fancy, my mother, whose name is interwoven as a golden thread throughout the fabric of the story, has been with me, and I have almost felt the “touch of a vanished hand” and heard the “sound of a voice that is still.” Page after page has been written beneath her picture on the wall, and as I have lifted my tear-blinded eyes with yearning gaze to her sweet face, the brown eyes have looked lovingly down upon me as though smiling approval upon my work. Oh, that I had undertaken it while she was yet with me!
It may be questioned that I have written from memory—or it may be a matter of surprise that I have remembered so well. While my mother lived this period in our lives was often talked of and its memory kept green. My father, being ill in the second story of the hospital, knew little or nothing of the experiences I underwent at Corinth, but was more familiar with what took place at Jackson. Five or six letters written by my mother to friends in the North have been carefully preserved. They were mostly hurriedly written and contain only brief allusions to our doings, but from them I have gathered dates and hours of arrival and departure, and by them my memory has been refreshed on several points. But for the most part I have been entirely dependent upon my own memory. I have written only of scenes and events that I remember best. Many of them are as clear to me as the happenings of yesterday, while some half-faded memories have struggled vainly for utterence and have necessarily been forever consigned to oblivion. There is a possibility that I may be mistaken in a few of my statements, but it must be remembered that it is a long and dusty bridge over which I have traveled to reach and gather them up.
As this is not a story of fiction, I have given the names of all that I remember who were in any way connected with it, in the hope that there are yet some of the number living who will read my little narrative and recognize their own part in it. Should such be the case, my joy at hearing from any or all of them could not be expressed. I have written, that there might be a record of the facts, that my sister and brothers might become familiar with them, and because I love to dwell upon the incidents of my “army life,” as I sometimes term it. Lastly, I have written that it might be as a memorial to my brave, courageous mother, who, with her own hands, ministered so tenderly to the sick and wounded with whom she was brought in close contact. Whether this ever reaches the public eye is a question. Should it be so fortunate, I ask the public to read with kindly criticism, remembering that it is the story of the child told in the language of the adult.
1862-1899. The line between the dates represents a bridge as it were of thirty-seven planks, and each plank a year. It takes but a single stroke of the pen to make the little bridge of ink representing the years; but can I measure the smiles and tears, the joys and sorrows, that are crowded into each year? Can I retrace my steps, passing on the way the graves that have opened and closed on some of earth’s best and dearest treasures, and gather from the past a few memories that the corroding cares of life and the ever onward-rushing “flood of years” have not wholly obliterated from my mind? I can but try, and in so doing I feel constrained to cry out,
But alas! this and my hungry heart-cry of
are alike vainly uttered. Having long had this in mind, I now for the first time give to the world a simple little story of the early part of my life. It is a story of the war without much war in it. My first recollections of the Civil War (which I always thought very uncivil) are of the days of ’61, after Sumter had been fired upon, when each night one of the neighbors would come into our home, and she and my parents would discuss the prospects of war, which at first though a cloud no bigger than a man’s hand, was even then lowering darkly upon us. We didn’t get the newspapers daily then as we do now, but whenever one could be obtained, my mother would read the news aloud, while I lay in my trundle bed, listening and cowering with fear. Who shall say that children do not enter into the spirit of current events? I had all a child’s fear of war, and that fear hung over me, for a time, as a dark cloud, for I thought the battles would be fought at our very doors.
IN September, 1862, my father, Dr. Coridon Morrow, offered his services to his country, and was appointed Assistant Surgeon of the 43d O. V. I. His first work was at the battle of Corinth, Miss., which occurred on the 4th and 5th of October. Soon after the battle, owing to bad water and change of climate, he was taken dangerously ill, and wrote my mother an almost illegible scrawl, begging her to come to him at once. We had broken up housekeeping at our home in the village of Bainbridge, Ohio, and gone to Aberdeen, on the Ohio river, to spend the winter with relatives.
It was almost an accident that I was taken on this never-forgotten journey. There were four children of us; two were taken and two were left. I was at this time but little more than eight years old, my baby sister, blue-eyed Mary, but five months. At first thought, it seemed that my mother could take but one, the baby, but here I made the plea of my life to be allowed to go, promising to be good and to help after we should get there. There was little time for parley, and the question was soon settled in my favor. We started on Friday, October 31st, leaving the little brother and sister to the care of kind friends in the little brown cottage, on the banks of La Belle Ohio. The river being at a low stage, no boats were running, and we were compelled to go by stage-coach to Georgetown, where we took supper and remained till 3 o’clock the next morning, when we were hurriedly aroused from our slumbers, and without waiting for breakfast, we took another stage-coach which conveyed us to Bethel. After a hurried breakfast there, we took passage in a four-horse omnibus which bore us to Cincinnati. I remember many of the incidents of this ride: how we stopped to take in passengers, some of whom were women going into the city with their Saturday marketing; and I can yet recall the appearance of the stout old gentleman who, with cane in hand, occupied the seat opposite me.
Arrived at Cincinnati, my first impression of that great city was that we would be run over and crushed by some of the numerous vehicles which were constantly crossing and recrossing the crowded streets, and through which we slowly threaded our way to the Henrie House. At this hotel I had my first experience with waiters. Soup was served as the first course at dinner, and while looking leisurely about me, a waiter came along and removed my plate of soup, which I had barely tasted. I do not remember what followed, as I had lost all interest in the dinner, and I have never yet become reconciled to the loss of that plate of soup.
We could not get a train out of the city until 5 o’clock in the evening. There were a number of guests in the parlor of the hotel, among them a sweet-faced lady who sought to entertain and amuse me. There was also a young man in the custody of officers of the law, though for what offense I am unable to say. His mother, a sad looking little woman, was there to bid him goodby. He played on the piano and sang beautiful songs for the entertainment of those in the room. “All things come to him that waits,” and as we waited, this long afternoon came to an end. We were taken to the depot in a cab, and this little ride cost my mother one dollar. We traveled all night, reaching Odin, Ill., about daylight, where we remained until Monday evening, waiting for a train over the Illinois Central railroad.
Odin at that time comprised the hotel, postoffice and depot. There was a long board walk leading from the hotel to the depot, which I traversed many times during our enforced stay, scraping acquaintance with the telegraph operator, giving him my history, past, present and future so far as I knew it. The country here was one vast expanse of prairie land, and the wind raged ceaselessly. Many long trains passed over the road on Sunday, bearing troops to the South. I stood on the little upper porch of the hotel, counting the cars and watching the trains until they passed beyond my vision. At this distant day I remember the appearance of the room we occupied, even to the position of the bed and stove, and in my mind’s eye I can see my baby sister lying asleep on the bed, and my mother sitting in a rocking chair near the center of the room, engaged in conversation with a lady from Mound City, Mo., who, like ourselves, was waiting for a train.
An amusing incident comes to my mind as I speak of this lady. She was a later arrival than ourselves, and had not yet heard the gong. As it sounded the call to supper, she threw up her hands in alarm, exclaiming, “Mercy on us, what is that!” My mother told her what it meant, when with a sigh of relief, she said, “Why, it’s enough to raise the dead.”
On Monday evening, November 3, after we had partaken of supper by lamplight, the long waited for train arrived, which we hailed with joy after our long, and to my mother, wearisome, delay. Soon after stepping aboard I fell asleep, and knew no more until 4 o’clock in the morning. Having reached Cairo, Ill., at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, we left the train, and in the semi-darkness of the early morning, we were hurried down the bank and on board the steamer City of Alton, a magnificent floating palace of the Mississippi, which conveyed us to Columbus, Ky., a distance of twenty miles. We were landed at the foot of a long line of steep bluffs.
Here occurs the first break in my memory of this journey. I only know that it was completed by rail, and that we traversed the entire length of the State of Tennessee, from north to south, and that I was a very tired little girl when we arrived at Corinth, at 8 o’clock on the night of November 4th. We were met at the depot by an ambulance, and driven to the Corona College Hospital, a mile distant from the town.
As we neared the building and surrounding battle-field, a horrible odor, as of burning flesh, greeted our nostrils, which the driver informed us was caused by the burning of horses and mules killed in the late battle.
In the latter part of our journey we had fallen in with a Mrs. Dr. Blaker, whose destination was the same as our own, and who had come to minister to a sick or wounded husband. We entered the hospital together, and were first shown into the Medical Director’s room, where the records were examined. It took but a few moments for Mrs. Blaker to learn that her husband was dead and buried. I can hear her wails of distress yet. We were more fortunate, and were soon ushered into the room occupied by my father and several other sick officers. The hospital was crowded, and there was no extra room for us. Another cot was brought in, an army blanket hung as a screen, and thus we spent our first night in a southern hospital.
CORONA COLLEGE HOSPITAL
IT stood in the midst of the historic battle-field and surrounding encampment. Prior to the war, it was known as The Corona Female College. It was a large, three-story structure of brick, with portico in front supported by massive pillars, and never was hospital more conveniently located with reference to battle-field. To me it was the Castle Beautiful, and even now, as I attempt to write of it, the memories of that time come thronging and surging through my brain, with such forceful rapidity, each clamoring for utterance, that I scarce know how to take up the tangled threads of warp and woof, and weave them into a smooth and readable story. The building was also known by the names of General Hospital and Seminary Hospital.
With the happy freedom of childhood I roamed about at my own sweet will, and I have given the “cup of cold water” to more than one poor sick or wounded soldier, as he lay on his bed of pain. There was one in particular, whose room was opposite our own: the door was mostly open, and he would frequently call to me to come and talk to him or hand him a drink of water. The first day we were in the building, I made the rounds of our ward on the second floor, with a lady nurse, Mrs. Penfield. I afterward called down her wrath upon my head by asking her if she had a field full of pens. One scene of that day’s visit arises vividly before me now, and I can draw a pen picture of the white-faced soldier I saw, propped up in bed with the nurse combing his hair, and bathing his face and hands.
I became familiar with scenes of sadness and suffering, with the sight of pale faces, crutches and armless sleeves, and, ever and anon a stiff form wrapped in a blanket would be carried to the dead house, thence to a soldier’s grave.
The hospital continued crowded, and we occupied the room with the officers several weeks. They were Captain Hensler, of Peoria. Ill.; Captain Armstrong, Lieut. Watt and several others whose names I can not recall. My mother cooked by a large, open fireplace, and shared all she had with these sick men. There was plenty of raw material, but it was so poorly prepared by the negroes about the place that the men could not eat it with any relish. A colored woman, who had been a slave, brought provisions to our room each morning, and her one theme was, “It’s mighty good.” Captain Hensler convalesced rapidly, and with tears in his eyes, he told my mother he owed it all to the nourishing food she prepared for him.
Lieut. Watt and I became great chums. While in this room I wrote a letter to my teacher at home, which he addressed for me, and upon learning that the teacher was a young lady, he laughingly asked me if I thought there would be any chance for him. This letter was read to the school, and for a few days I was quite famous in my native town.
My baby sister and I soon became great favorites in camp and hospital. On the night of our arrival the baby cried, and the word went around from room to room: “There’s a baby in the house. Where did it come from? Bring it in.” And in due time she was taken into the rooms where there were no contagious diseases. The men were much cheered by her presence, and one of the doctors said it was “quite a treat to hear a baby cry.” Dr. Robins, the surgeon in charge of our ward, would carry her about the room at each visit he made, sometimes taking her down stairs into the hall and out into the grounds about the building, I following wherever he went. The doctor called her his “little rosebud.” One day she scratched his face until the blood came, and he bore the marks several days. I can see him now, a slight, fair-haired young fellow, and, strange as it may seem, after the lapse of all these years, I can hear the very sound of his voice, as, upon entering the room, he would throw back his head and laughingly call out “Where is my Little Rosebud?” He told us of the friends he left at home, but alas! for them, he died the following summer of smallpox, in Memphis, Tennessee.
OVER the roadway leading from hospital to camp, I have doubtless traveled many miles. The large space was thickly dotted with white tents, temporary homes of the brave defenders of our country. Here I became familiar with martial music. I returned with “taps” and arose with “revielle,” and to this day the sound of fife and drum stirs every drop of patriotic blood in my veins and takes me back to the days of camp life at Corinth.
Here we met brave, grand Mother Bickerdyke, who was such a tower of strength to her “boys,” and indeed, to all who came in touch with her. She had a large tent in the midst of the encampment, where she prepared nourishing food and dispensed hospital stores. When she learned our situation, that my mother prepared food with but a few poor cooking utensils, for ourselves, a nurse and the officers in our room, she immediately invited us to come to her tent for all the cooked food we needed. It fell upon me for the most part to carry it, not only for ourselves, but for some of the other inmates of the hospital. I made countless trips up and down the long, winding stairway, and many nights I could not sleep for tired and aching limbs, but I made no complaint. I was keeping my promise of being useful and was serving my country. My mother, however, saw that it was too much for me, and called a halt on it to some extent. We had a nurse, an artilleryman, whose name was Cole, but unlike “Old King Cole,” he was not a “jolly old soul.” He growled and grumbled constantly, and in these days we would call him a “kicker.” One day I started from the tent with more than I could carry, a glass of cherry preserves fell, the glass was broken and contents spilled. The next day, Cole was sent with me to assist in carrying our dinner. As we passed the cherries still lying in the dust, Cole growled out, “Just look at them good cherries; you ought to be made get down and lick ’em up.” I regretted the loss of the cherries as much as Cole, but I did not feel called upon to “get down and lick ’em up.” Cole meant well, however, and was a brave soldier, and if living I would like to know where he is today, for we took many walks together, from Mother B.’s tent up to the big brick house.
Mother B. had an assistant, whose name was Frank Williams, from St. Paul, Minn. He had been sick, and not being able for field service, was detailed for hospital duty. He and I were great friends, and he often came to our room and talked with my parents. He was a Christian, and sometimes had prayers in our room. One day I entered the tent, when to my dismay I found it full of men, and a prayer meeting in progress. I was about to beat a hasty retreat, when my friend Frank very kindly invited me to come in, found a seat for me, and put in my hands a little leaflet bearing upon its white surface the hymn beginning, “Just as I am, without one plea.” A chaplain conducted the services; my friend and some of the other soldiers offered prayer. I was the only child present. I have no recollection of any woman being there, although Mother B. or one of the lady nurses may have been. That prayer meeting was indelibly impressed upon my childish mind, and even now stands out clear cut and in bold relief, over every other prayer meeting I have ever attended. And, let me be where I may when “Just as I Am” is sung, the mingled joys and sorrows of the long years vanish as it were, and again I am a little child in that prayer tent on a Southern battle-field, and again I hear those bearded men singing as with one voice:
TOUR OF BATTLEFIELD AND DINNER TO MR. CROOKS
ONE of our fellow townsmen, Mr. Nathan W. Crooks by name, now a resident of Washington C. H., Ohio, was in camp at Corinth at this time. Escorted by him, my mother and I made the tour of the battle-field. Mr. Crooks carried my little sister in his arms, and to this day, upon occasion, introduces her to friends as the little girl he carried all over the battle-field of Corinth, with the accent on the inth. We visited the R. R. cut where my father held his emergency hospital, with shot and shell screaming and bursting all around him; we stood within the enclosure of Fort Robinet, where brave Col. Rogers of the Texas Brigade fell, and was buried with his colors. And little I reck’d the day would come when I would thrill with patriotic pride at the recollection of having stood on the parapet of this historic fort, with “Old Glory” floating proudly in the breeze above me, while at my feet, in the trench surrounding the fort, lay friend and foe, buried in one common grave. As one has fittingly written of them, “They sleep, and glory is their sentinel.”
I have wandered all over this field of battle. My playground was that portion occupied by the 14th Wisconsin during the fight, and of the many minnie balls, grape and cannister I picked up on this memorable spot, but one battered minnie ball remains.
Mr. Crooks had been my Sunday school teacher at home, and the morning he and some of the other “boys” left for the war, I heard my teacher in the public school offer up prayer in behalf of the “brave boys who had gone forth to defend their country’s honor.” As her words fell upon my ears I little dreamed that in a few short months I would follow, and meet with these same “boys.”
After we had been in the hospital some little time my mother invited Mr. Crooks to dinner, and Oh, what a dinner that was! at least Mr. Crooks said it was the first white man’s meal he had eaten since he left home. My mother cooked a portion of it by the fireplace, Mother Bickerdyke made a generous contribution, and the cook of the officers’ mess donated a very fine pudding. The butter—but the less said about it the better—at least in regard to its age and strength. It was of the canned variety, but Mr. Crooks thought it better than no butter at all, and promising to come again another day, jovially walked off with a can of it under his arm. He kept his word and visited us a number of times at the college hospital. Years after the war was over he told us that the mere mention of our father’s name called up visions of an old gray army blanket given him by our father as they were parting on one occasion, when but for it his bed would have been the cold, bare earth, his covering the canopy of heaven.
OUR QUAKER FRIENDS. MY ILLNESS. SUPPER IN THE MESS ROOM
JUST as my father recovered sufficiently to walk about a little, he was seized with a violent attack of inflammatory rheumatism, and lay helpless for several weeks. During this time we had four men nurses who assisted my mother in caring for him. They were ward-master Gilmore, Cole, the artilleryman before spoken of, Thomas Terrie, a Scotchman, and Thomas Enslow, from one of the New England States. The latter two were my devoted friends, and gave me little trinkets and keepsakes.
The room adjoining ours was occupied by an old Quaker lady and her son. The mother’s name was Ann Roman, the boy’s Isaac. He was wounded, and she had come to take him home, but he was not able to travel, and a furlough could not immediately be secured. They were detained several weeks and we became great friends. They were the first Quakers I had ever seen, and “auntie” Roman’s Quaker garb and quaint “thees” and “thous” were a novelty to me, and I sometimes addressed her in her own dialect, much to her amusement. Isaac suffered much from his wound, and was a little inclined to be cross, while I was greatly inclined to be noisy. Many times in trying to suppress a laugh I would giggle, and “auntie” would say, “Thee had better go into the hall, where thee can give vent to the giggles;” and fearing a scolding from Isaac, I always went. But Isaac grew better, and through a plea made by Mother B. to Gen. Grant, then at Memphis, a furlough was secured, and mother and son went to their home at Old’s Post Office, Washington County, Ohio. I have their address yet, written in my little cramped hand, on a faded bit of blue paper, at auntie’s dictation. After their departure we were given their room, which we occupied during the rest of our stay in the hospital.
While here I had a severe attack of quinsy, and was very sick for several days and nights. I had a burning fever, and in my delirium would cry out for water from the “cool well” on the bank of the river, in far away Ohio. The water at Corinth was not satisfying. It had to be boiled before drinking, and the tin fruit can on the window ledge outside was a familiar “institution.” Everything which had no particular name was called an “institution.” A place where cooking was done was called a “shebang,” and I was always running across one. In one of my morning rambles I came upon a little bake shop where bread and pies were made for the camp. A man was sitting on the steps, who at once entered into conversation with me. Learning that I was there with my parents, he went in and got a pie which he told me to take to my mother. It became so common for me to come home carrying something good to eat, that about the hospital they called me “The little forager.”
My mother and I took supper with the officers in their mess room one evening. I came to their door just at their supper hour. They invited me to remain. With the sublime confidence of childhood I took a seat at the table with them. There were a number of them and they had a man cook. My mother coming to look after me, was invited to partake of the evening meal in such a cordial manner that she could not but accept. I remember that there was no fork at my plate and I was too timid to make it known, but one of the officers soon noticed my dilemma and the omission was promptly supplied. I do not know the names of any of these men, but I know they were gentlemen and soldiers, and I have never forgotten their gallant and courteous treatment of my mother and myself.
SUNDAY IN CAMP
THERE is of necessity in a large camp more or less stir and activity on the Sabbath day, even when no battle is on, but even here there seemed to be a difference between it and other days. There was a hush and stillness in the air that seemed to proclaim, “It is the holy Sabbath day.” Religious services were held by chaplains and pious soldiers. There were several lady nurses, and they occupied a tent near the college building. Their names were: Miss Adaline Williams, Miss Babcock, Mrs. Cunningham and Mrs. Yates. Mrs. Penfield did not remain long, as there seemed to be some friction between her and the other ladies. Always a welcome visitor to this tent, I was in and out all day Sunday, but with one restraint. I was told that I must not talk or ask questions, as that was their day for writing letters to friends in the North. They had leather portfolios, which they used as writing desks on their laps. Miss Williams and my mother became great friends, and I was very fond of her. I made many visits with her and for years the little red-backed books she gave me from the Christian Commission supplies were counted among my treasures. My life on Sundays was about the same as on other days. I visited the big “shebang” three times a day, wandered around from tent to tent, and sat for hours on the steps of the portico wishing for companionship of my own age, myself and sister being the only children in the hospital and entire encampment.
THE TISHOMINGO HOTEL. MY SCHOOL AND OTHER INCIDENTS
THE scene changes. We were now ordered to turn. We “moved” in an ambulance, my father being taken on a cot, and were given quarters in the Tishomingo Hotel. The old Tishomingo House! Can I ever forget it? The historic, dilapidated old hotel through which a cannon ball passed during the progress of battle. We were given a large, cheerless room in the second story; the floor was bare, the four large windows were each guiltless of blind or curtain.
Our bed consisted of two cots placed together, with an army blanket to each for covering. The nights were cold, and we would have suffered had not my mother arisen through the night and replenished the fire. There was a large stove in the room and we had a plentiful supply of wood. The hotel was used as a hospital, although it was not full at this time, there being a number of vacant rooms. I remember but one nurse here, a Miss Johnson. We were great friends, and I spent as much time in her room as in our own. I frequently took walks with her about town. I went with her one morning to call on Dr. Norman Gay and family, of Columbus, O., who had roomed for a time at the hotel, but who afterward rented furnished rooms in a private house in another part of the town. On our way we passed the Iuka House and several sutlers’ stores. I had not been long in the Tishomingo House until I made the acquaintance of the cook, a curly-headed young fellow whose name was John Storms, of Ohio.
Part of the time we took our meals in the dining room with the doctors and officers. By “we” I mean my mother and myself; my father not being able to leave the room his meals were carried to him. At other times we all took our meals in our own room. Those who ate in the dining-room were: Dr. Gay, wife and son, Dr. Spicer, Dr. Huntington, Captain Pemberton, Chaplain Estabrook, Miss Johnson, ourselves and many others, comers and goers, whose names I can not now recall.
Across the railroad and directly opposite the hotel was another encampment, and reveille and lights out were again daily and nightly sounds. Gen. Hunter had his headquarters in a large white house not far away, and night after night I have sat on the upper porch listening entranced to the regimental band, as it played Hail Columbia, Star Spangled Banner, Red, White and Blue, Rally round the Flag, and America. Each night this band would play from dark until bedtime, and I could not be induced to leave my post until the last note died away in silence. Many events come to my mind as I write of this time. One day a man was brought in who had been accidentally shot through both thighs. While sitting on the floor of a box car a jolt dislodged a musket from where it was standing. As it fell, it was discharged, and the man being in direct range, the ball passed through both limbs. Amputation was decided upon as a forlorn hope of saving his life. Not knowing the time fixed upon for the operation, I passed down the stairway leading through the Medical Director’s room, which was also the operating room, and there, on the operating table, under the influence of chloroform, white and lifeless-looking, surrounded by the doctors, lay the poor fellow undergoing the awful ordeal of having both legs taken off. Sick at heart, I hurried on and delayed my return until I felt sure the operation was well over with. But alas! the hope of saving his life was a vain one, as he died a few days later.
While here we one day received a visit from our old friend Frank Williams, of the Seminary Hospital.
He came to tell us goodby, as he expected to leave with Mother Bickerdyke in a few days for La Grange, Mississippi.
A few days later he sent a friend to have my picture taken at the little gallery built up against one end of the hotel, and authorized him to spare no expense in securing it. Photography was not then the fine art it is today and this picture was an excellent sample of the old time ambrotype and was placed in the handsomest case the establishment afforded at a cost of $4.00. By this time the agent of my friend had fallen in love with me, and wished a picture for himself, which with the consent of my parents, he secured at a cost of $2.50. Some months later both these pictures were given my father at Memphis, but were one night stolen from his tent with all the contents of his satchel.
Should the thief ever see these lines, repent, and return the pictures, he will receive my full and free forgiveness and everlasting gratitude.
I never saw my old friend after the day he called to bid us goodby, but received several letters from him after returning home, and then all knowledge of him ceased. He has doubtless passed into the Great Beyond long ago.
There were a great many refugees or contrabands in Corinth. President Lincoln’s proclamation of Emancipation had not yet been issued; yet the slaves were practically free. Some of them had quarters near the hotel. Among them was a quaint old couple known as Uncle Sandy and Aunt Katy with whom we became well acquainted. Aunt Katy did washing for us and was frequently in our room.
My mother bought a large piece of homespun cotton cloth of her such as was used by the slave women for dresses and aprons. After Aunt Katy had tasted of freedom, she thought “Massa Linkum” a grand man, and the best friend the slave had.
My mother one day asked her what she thought the “Yankees” looked like before she saw them. “Well, hunny,” said she, “I thought they was some kind of wild animals with ho’ns on their heads and they would eat me up,” and then she laughed until her fat sides shook as she realized what kind of an animal the Yankee really was.
Uncle Sandy told us that when he first entered within the Union lines he ate so much he became very sick and thought he was going to die, and that the only reason he hated to die was because he could never eat any more.
From among the children of the refugees I organized and taught a school on the upper veranda of the Tishomingo, which was situated at the crossing of the Memphis & Charleston and the Mobile & Ohio railroads. The pupils were all girls, some older and some younger than myself, and so far as I have ever been able to learn to the contrary, this was the first crude, little contraband school organized in the great state of Mississippi, and humble though it was, I feel very proud of my share in it. I taught them the alphabet, and how to make a few figures. Our text books were the heads of newspapers, and cards with figures numbering the rooms, which we tore off the doors. Many trains passed our open air schoolroom daily, and each whistle that pierced the air was a signal to suspend lessons, and teacher and pupils alike would scramble to the front, and leaning far over the rotten railing, would wave and cheer at the blue-coated soldiers being borne onward to victory or defeat, life or death, God alone knew.
But the time came all too soon when the Tishomingo House was ordered evacuated, as it was to be again used for hotel purposes. We received instructions to go to Jackson, Tennessee, sixty miles north, and one sunny Sabbath morn we boarded the train for that place, and it was many a day before I ceased to regret my dusky pupils and playmates.
It was with sad hearts we left Corinth. We had been here so long it had become like home to us, and we were much attached to the place, the nurses, and our soldier friends. But the fortunes of war are many and varied, and there is no sure abiding place in the army.
SOME of the happiest days of my childhood were spent in Jackson, magnolia-clad, holly-decked Jackson.
I remember the journey very well. We went in a box car, my father on his cot. We had nothing for seats but some boxes. There were armed soldiers on our train. We passed little squads of soldiers at intervals along the roadside, some of whom with stacked arms were engaged in cooking by their campfires. Sometimes the train would stop a few minutes, and some of the “boys” would come up and talk to us.
Arrived at Jackson, we were taken in an ambulance to hospital No. 2, where they were too full to receive us. We were invited to dinner, however, and were then assigned quarters in a large hotel called the Manassas House. The hotel property was owned by a Mr. Tolliver. There were two landlords or proprietors, Hotellen and Wilcox by name. There was no landlady but a housekeeper known as Irish Mary. There was also an Irishman employed as a “handy man,” whose name was Mike.
Jackson was a beautiful little city situated between two railroads. It contained many handsome residences set back in well kept grounds. It was in possession of the Union troops. Gen. Sullivan was in command. Col. Lawler had his headquarters near the hotel. The 103d Illinois and other regiments were in camp here. There were two large brick hospitals, known as No. 1 and No. 2, situated on opposite sides of the town. Dr. Haversett was in charge of both. Miss Adaline Williams had been sent here from Corinth and was assigned to duty in No. 1, where I made daily visits passing on the way two huge piles of cannon balls stacked up in pyramidal form.
WHILE in the Manassas House we had many pleasures and some sorrow. In room No. 19 “Little Rosebud” and I had measles, which nearly cost us our lives. We took it of one of the colored chambermaids, who died before we got well. We could see the negro quarters from the back window of our room, and my mother propped me up in bed with pillows, one Sunday afternoon, that I might see poor Ann placed in a common road wagon and hauled away for burial. Little Rosebud’s life was despaired of several times, it being thought one night that she could not live until morning. We had many kind friends during this time of trial.
Dr. Huntington came over from Hospital No. 2 several times each day to attend us, and to him my parents always gave the credit of having saved my sister’s life.
While we were sick, our former nurse, Thomas Torrie, came to see us. When he first entered the room I knew him, but soon after, the fever arose, and I became delirious. He was a very religious man and my parents asked him to pray with them. I remember yet the impressions of that hour. It seemed to me that we were all in an old barn, with long, dusty cobwebs hanging from the high rafters, and as I saw the three kneeling not far from my bed, they seemed afar off, and the tones of the prayer sounded faint and distant to my fever-thickened ears. A few days later our friend Thomas visited us again and found us much improved. The fever had left me, my mind was clear and I was able to talk to him. He loaned me a stencil plate, ink and brush, and I amused myself by marking the hotel linen with his name. I made a rapid recovery, but alas! my voice was gone, and for weeks I spoke only in whispers.
THE STOLEN PRESERVES
ABOUT the time of our recovery, the housekeeper, “Irish Mary,” took the measles and was quite sick for some days. She had been in the habit of giving out the linen and towels for the bedrooms and always carried the key to the linen closet, a large wardrobe which stood in one end of the hall. During her illness each lady boarder looked after the supplies for her own room, and would obtain the key when anything was needed. One day a doctor’s wife, an intimate friend of ours, came to our room in great excitement, saying she had found a large jar of peach preserves in the wardrobe, and that she “was going to have some of them.” She rushed down stairs to the dining room, secured a saucer and spoon, returned and dipped out a bountiful supply. By this time several other ladies had “caught on,” and they all swarmed about that jar as flies around a molasses barrel. One lady with a “down-east” accent, who always said “gude” for good, ate her portion, smacked her lips and said, “My, but they are gude!”
I do not mention these ladies’ names, but it is not because I have forgotten them. I remember their names and faces distinctly, and should they ever see this word picture they will readily recognize themselves and their part in it. It is needless to say that I came in for my share of the “stolen sweets.”
THE THREATENED BATTLE
IN my visits to the City Hotel and other places it was my delight to scale the “breast works” that barred the way, built of huge bales of cotton belonging to northern speculators. Cotton, which had long reigned king in the South, was now “Uncle Sam’s” servant and was made to do his bidding.
Vast quantities were stored away in warehouses and depots, awaiting shipment, when one night the cry went around, “The rebels are coming, the rebels are coming.” The cotton was seized by the military authorities, piled up in the form of a wall around the most exposed parts of the town and earth thrown over it. The soldiers worked all night in constructing these fortifications. Ah! how well I remember the night. We were awakened near the hour of midnight and told to prepare to fly at a moment’s warning, as the rebels were rapidly advancing on Jackson. We packed our few belongings, and after listening a while with bated breath, lay down again with our clothes on and slept securely till morning. With the morning’s dawn preparations were made for a mighty battle. Artillery was planted in different parts of the town, three lines of battle were formed, one of them being drawn up in front of the hotel, and there the soldiers stood all day, their bayonets flashing and glittering in the sunlight. The greatest excitement and enthusiasm prevailed; officers and orderlies on horseback went dashing by, here, there and everywhere, but the battle was never fought, for the rebels never came. Four days later, on the 20th of December, the same troops, headed by Earl Van Dorn, a dashing young cavalry officer, entered Holly Springs, Miss., surprised and captured the Federal forces, which they at once released on parole, fired the Union stores, blew up the arsenal and paymaster’s quarters, and gained such a victory withal, as to set all their hearts adancing, and all their flags aflutter. It was a great day for the people of Holly Springs, and they yet speak of it as the “glorious, glorious twentieth.”
CHRISTMAS IN JACKSON
FOR a time we “fared sumptuously every day,” but there came a time when, owing to burned bridges and blockades, communication was entirely cut off with Cairo, Ill., which was our base of supplies, and the fare became very scant. For several days we had no coffee, but in some manner the landlord managed to secure 50 pounds, for which he paid $50.00.
On Christmas Day, 1862, our breakfast consisted of tea, bread, and pickled pigs’ feet; dinner the same with the addition of dried apple pie. In the afternoon we went, by invitation of Major Winn, to Bolivar, twenty-eight miles south of Jackson. I shall never forget the pleasure of that little war-time excursion. We stayed two hours and watched the boys in camp getting supper. One little fellow was making hash in a camp kettle near the railroad track where our train stood. He stirred it with a bayonet; it was very thin, and he said he didn’t know whether to call it hash or soup, but that he could thicken it with cotton, which was stacked up in great walls all about him. I can hear his merry, ringing laugh yet. My father’s regiment was in camp here, and we met his Colonel. That Colonel is now Brigadier General Wager Swayne, of New York city, and I often wonder if Gen. Swayne remembers that Christmas afternoon of 1862 as well as I do.
If the ride down to Bolivar was memorable, the return trip was even more so. There was supposed to be some danger of our train being fired into, and no lights were allowed. Part of the way lay through the woods, and our phantom train glided along in darkness and silence, for neither whistle was blown nor bell rung as we made the perilous little run through the enemy’s country. With a child’s confidence I knew and felt no fear. We arrived safely at the hotel at 8 p. m. and went immediately to the dining room, where we had some more pigs’ feet and dried apple pie. We didn’t hang up our stockings that Christmas Eve. There was nothing to put in them, unless it were minnie balls, and they were needed far worse in the muskets at that time.
THE DINING ROOM
IN the large dining room of the hotel were eight tables, and there was a black waiter for each table. We ate at what was known as the Colonel’s table, and Tom was our waiter. He was as black as the “ace of spades,” but the very pink of politeness. I became so familiar with his “formula” or bill of fare, that I can repeat it now. In times of plenty it was, “Roast beef, roast pork, co’n beef, or meat pie.” Also, “beef-steak or po’k-steak.” If one chose the former, Tom would ask, “Well done or rare?”
Many times there was such a rush for the dining room that it almost amounted to a mob, and both doors leading into it were kept locked. Several trains arrived at noon, and emptied themselves of passengers into the Manassas House, and many times a lot of hungry soldiers came pouring in just as dinner was ready. On one occasion a revolver was fired in the mad rush for entrance. The regular boarders were instructed to knock at the rear door, and my timid little tap was responded to as promptly as that of the wearer of gold cord and glittering shoulder straps.
INMATES AND INCIDENTS
THERE were many Northern people at the hotel, and among them we formed pleasant friendships and acquaintances, and visited around from room to room. Those whom I most distinctly remember were Dr. De Forest, wife, and little daughter, of Troy, Ohio; Mr. James Leighton and wife, of Vermont; Captain Ford and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Munn, Mrs. Captain Birch, Mrs. Webb, and “Camp” Dick Robinson, of Kentucky. There were a number of cotton speculators here. Several Jews by the name of Levi from Cincinnati, a Mr. Coan and a Mr. Cohn, from Columbus, Ohio, and Colonels, Majors, Captains and Lieutenants galore. We also met a Dr. Mitchell and wife, of Illinois, who boarded at the City Hotel. Much of the time I was the only child about, and was petted and spoiled to my heart’s content.
The water supply at Jackson was very scant, and there was not enough for domestic purposes at the hotel. There was a well in the yard, but its supply was soon exhausted. The negroes would haul it in barrels from the Forked Deer river, and many times I have watched them loading up the empty barrels, and then unloading them full of water upon their return.
By a strange coincidence my mother was now within a few miles of her father’s unknown and unmarked grave, he having died and been buried on the banks of the Forked Deer many years before, when she was a child too small to remember him. A sad rendering of the words, “So near and yet so far.”
Many incidents occurred at the hotel, amusing and otherwise. A little newsboy called Johnny was a frequent visitor, and a great favorite with the ladies. I saw him one afternoon select several one dollar bills from a handful of paper money. These he folded very carefully and then drew his knife blade right through the center. Several of the ladies remonstrated with him, but he only laughed, saying each piece was worth fifty cents.
“Camp” Dick Robinson, so called from the Union soldiers having camped on his land in Kentucky, was an eccentric character. He occupied room No. 23, and seemed to think the world in general and the hotel in particular were made for his especial accommodation. One day, having written a letter and lacking an envelope, he came out into the hall in a towering rage, shouting at the top of his voice: “I want an envelope. Can’t I have an envelope? Why can’t I have an envelope?” Several doors were opened, heads thrust out, and the much needed envelope supplied. Later on No. 23 was used as a prison. A female spy was arrested and confined in this room a week or more. Her meals were carried to her and a guard stood at the door, musket in hand, night and day.
One Saturday night a lady arrived, and the next morning took her sewing and descended to the parlor, where she occupied herself with her work until some one reminded her that it was Sunday.
Another day two ladies from New Orleans, both young and fair, dressed in deep mourning, stopped for dinner and to await a train. They had with them a beautiful boy, about my own age, with long, yellow curls. They called him Percy. They remained but a few hours, but Percy and I played together on the veranda, and as they left, he cried for me to kiss him goodbye, and after he was gone, I cried because I wouldn’t.
FEEDING THE “BOYS” FROM HOME
ONE dark, dreary morning, when the rain was pouring down in torrents, a lot of soldiers took refuge in the lower hall of the Manassas House. I soon learned that there were four “boys” from home among them, that they had been out all night, were cold, wet, and hungry, and to my mind, hunger was the worst of all. To me, in those days, a soldier was greater than a king, and is yet for that matter, and I felt that something must be done. I went to my mother, that never-failing refuge in all my childish sorrows and perplexities, and with tearful eyes appealed to her for advice and help. With a smile she said, “Can you not go to Brown, and ask him for something for ‘our boys?’” For it was useless to think of feeding them all, in the then depleted state of the hotel larder. Brown was the steward, and the one being among all the hotel people of whom I stood in awe. But to Brown I went, and, to my delight, he gave me all that was left from breakfast. To the best of my recollection, that lunch consisted of bread, meat and cheese.
I divided it as best I could among the four, whose names I herewith give: George Harmon, V. K. Kelley, Wesley Jackman and J. A. Tulleys. A sorry picture they made, with the water dripping from their faded blue overcoats in little puddles on the floor, the little girl standing in their midst, with sorrow in her heart, because she could not obtain food for the other poor men looking wistfully on. Perhaps not one of the living members of the quartet will remember this little episode in his army life, but that rainy morning’s scene has never faded from my memory. George Harmon has been “mustered out” and lies, awaiting the “bugle call” to the “General Assembly,” in a country graveyard a few miles from town. James A. Tulleys is a prominent citizen of Red Cloud, Nebraska. The other two are citizens of this place and I see them almost every day.
1. Mr. Tulleys answered the “roll call” January 21, 1901.
A DAY AT THE CITY HOTEL
OUR friends the De Forests, after boarding for a time at the Manassas, removed their quarters to the City Hotel.
They had taken under their protecting wing a little yellow girl by the name of “Mandy.” She was sent one day to invite my mother and another lady to spend the day at the City Hotel. Mandy and I had traveled the road many times, and we put our heads together and determined to take them by way of the long line of cotton defences, instead of the open street, as we could just as well have done. Imagine their discomfiture and our glee as they faced the frowning wall over which they had to climb as best they could. How we laughed and shouted as we scaled the “works” with the agility of young monkeys.
The low-ceiled parlor of the City Hotel, with its dark, large-figured Brussels carpet, is yet a familiar feature to me, as we gathered in it after dinner and listened to Mrs. Dr. Mitchell relate how they used to go to church in a wagon drawn by an ox team, at her girlhood’s home in Illinois.
I OFTEN think of how recklessly I wandered around alone at Jackson. I became familiar with its streets, and if the years have not made too many changes in its appearance, were I there today, I could go right to the Manassas House and Hospital No. 1. No. 2 I did not become so familiar with, as I was there but once. There was a little white house in the cut some distance up the Memphis & Charleston railroad, where lived a family by the name of Clark. I went there many times to play with the children. We would walk the railroad ties until we saw the trains coming, when we would leap upon the porch and wave our handkerchiefs and hats at the soldiers as they passed rapidly by, the track being but a few feet from the house. The trains were mostly made up of box cars, which were literally alive with soldiers inside and out, who would wave their caps and give us cheer upon cheer in return for our salute, doubtless taking us for little “rebels.”
As I recall and write these trivial events, those old, sweet days seem very near, and I have but to close my eyes to fancy that as a little child I am again running through the long hall of the Manassas to the upper piazza, watching for George, the hotel clerk, as he came from the postoffice, it having been prearranged between us that whenever there was a letter for us from Ohio, he was to hold it up so I could see it, otherwise I was to know there was none. The postoffice, now in charge of the military, was in the depot and in full view of the hotel, and the railroad ran parallel with both. I almost lived on the veranda and saw every train that passed.
There was a large encampment in the open space across the railroad, and opposite the hotel. Lieutenant Pease, one of the boarders, had a telescope, which he would adjust properly for me and I would spend hours looking through it, watching the soldiers, as they performed their daily camp duties. I could see them cooking, washing and hanging their clothes to dry. Many times we have witnessed drill and dress parade from the veranda. Lieutenant Pease was a tall, dark, quiet gentleman, a great reader and a great friend of mine. The first copies of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Magazine and Ballou’s Monthly I ever saw were given me by him, and I can yet recall some of the stories I read in them.
CORINTH WAR EAGLE
THERE was published in Corinth a paper called The Corinth War Eagle. Its editor and publisher was a patriotic young man from the North, whose name was Elbridge Dwight Fenn. I remember him distinctly, although I did not see him while at Corinth, but later on at Jackson, where he was largely in evidence. His name and handsome physique would have fitted him to figure as the hero in a two-volume novel. I saw him frequently at the City Hotel. He was full of life and spirits. I saw him one day dancing about the upper corridor with a looking glass under his arm, the lady boarders and chambermaids looking on in great glee. On the day of the expected battle, Fenn was seemingly everywhere. While a number of us were standing on the balcony at the Manassas viewing the troops as they stood in battle array, he came dashing up with a red sash tied about him from shoulder to waist, mounted on a coal-black horse. One of the ladies called to him, saying, “When are the rebels coming, Fenn?” Raising his arm high in air, he shouted, “Never!” and rode away as rapidly as he had come. We brought a copy of the War Eagle home with us, and after many years, when it was almost worn out, I cut the least worn articles from its columns, and they adorn the pages of my war scrapbook. The issue I have bears the date of September 18, 1862. There is a flag at the head of the editorial column, and the motto is, “Be just and fear not.”
Among the articles I have preserved is an account of a visit to the hospital, written by the editor himself; also complimentary references to the 17th and 7th Ill. regiments; Harmony Among Regimental Officers, Flag Presentation to the 17th Wisconsin, an Irish regiment, with speeches by the Chaplain and Captain. The paper also contains several poems.
THE Sutler was an institution of the army. It is useless to describe him. Every old soldier knows him. There were two of “him” here, Patrick and Keene by name, who kept a store in a small room adjoining the hotel; in fact, it was built against it and a step from the veranda led into the store. How clear and familiar it all is to me today, the counter on one side of the room, the little stove and bench on the other. I made many visits to the little store and was always kindly received by its gentlemanly proprietors. Mr. Patrick wore a cap and always had it on whether indoors or out, and when not busy, mostly sat on the counter. On New Year’s Day, 1863, Mr. Keene gave me a pocket handkerchief. I have owned since then many dainty creations of lace and embroidery, called by courtesy handkerchiefs, but none that ever gave me such real pleasure as did that large square of coarse cotton cloth, with a border of blue stars all around it, and in each corner an eagle with shield and stars. But in coming home I left it on the train, much to my regret. While in Jackson we secured a 64-pound cannon ball which we were very anxious to bring home with us, but finding it impossible to do so my mother left it in care of Messrs. Patrick and Keene, expecting my father to send it another time, but after leaving Jackson he never returned, and thus we lost our much prized relic.
WHILE at the Tishomingo in Corinth we acquired a boy 17 years old, black and raw-boned. His name was Dan Weaver. I do not know how we got him, but having once gotten him we had him. Having learned that where we were he was always sure of something to eat, he was determined to stay with us. We took him to Jackson and he became a part of us. He made himself useful about the hotel, and assisted my mother in taking care of the baby. He would sit with her in his arms and sing by the hour, and sometimes in his earnestness the big tears would flow down his black, shiny cheeks. His favorite song was “Dixie” and over and over and again he would sing,
But the “secesh” part of it was a huge joke with Dan, and was but a bit of ironical humor on his part. There was nothing Dan wouldn’t do for “Little Missy,” as he always called me. I had developed a mania for collecting empty cigar boxes, and he would scour the town and camp to secure them for me. I was very proud of my collection, and I had them of every size and shape, stacked up on either side of the bureau until they reached the top of the looking-glass. I fully expected to bring them home with me, and was bitterly disappointed when emphatically informed that I could not do so. Since then an empty cigar box has always had a peculiar charm for me, and I never see one or inhale the pungent odor of cedar and tobacco combined but the interior of No. 19 appears before me, and I wonder who fell heir to my beloved boxes.
Dan was a good boy in the main, but in an evil hour he learned to play cards. He came home one day very angry with a colored comrade, who had not played fair with him, as he thought. He took “Little Rosebud” up and began to sing to her as usual, when suddenly the song ceased, his anger was too much for him, and he almost hissed forth the words, “I’ll eat him up blood raw widout a bit o’ salt.”
Poor, ignorant, black Dan’s roaming about town and card-playing were suddenly cut short. He was attacked with inflammatory rheumatism, and lay helpless and suffering on a cot in our room many days and nights, my dear, patient mother caring for him as best she could, until so worn out that she was compelled to have him removed to the negro quarters. His groans were piteous to hear, and sleep was almost unknown while he remained in our room.
CLOSING INCIDENTS AND HOMEWARD BOUND
FAREWELL to Jackson, sunny Jackson—that is it was sunny when the sun shone, but as dark and dreary as can be imagined when it rained—the very name is dear to me yet, and the memories that cluster around it are dearer still. When I review my four months’ experience in the Sunny South I feel that the memory of it is something to be proud of. I saw no fighting, but there were skirmishes all around us, and many prisoners were brought in. Some of the saddest sights I saw were prisoners being marched through the streets in the rain, wading through the mud, the water dripping from their faded butternut suits. Many days we heard heavy cannonading which indicated that battles were being fought in close proximity.
The time came when we must return to our home in the North. My father having recovered sufficiently to rejoin his regiment at Bolivar, left some days before we did. On the last Sunday of our stay a young soldier by the name of Frank Moss, whose home was in Aberdeen, Ohio, whither we were going, called on my mother and sent messages of love by her to his mother.
One morning in February we bade farewell to the scenes that had become so dear to us, and turned our faces homeward. On the train with us was a wounded officer. His hurt was in the leg, and he was on a cot in one corner of the car. His wound was very painful, and as the train jolted he seemed to suffer much and was very cross and irritable. His wife was with him. When we reached the bridge which had been burned a few weeks before, we had to stop and transfer mail and passengers. We crossed the Obion on the ties of the new and unfinished bridge. A soldier carried me, another carried “Little Rosebud,” while still another led my mother. The bridge was very high, and they told us the water was many feet deep at this point. A few days previous the man who led my mother had told a lady while crossing, just how deep it was (eighty feet) and she became so faint and frightened at the knowledge, that he found it almost impossible to convey her safely over. While crossing I asked the man who carried me, in a whisper, how much he thought I weighed. “Oh, about a ton,” was his laughing reply, and the next time I spoke after clearing the bridge, my voice had returned and I spoke aloud for the first time since my recovery from the measles.
When we arrived at Columbus we found there would be no boat until the next day. We remained all night at the hotel, trying in vain to sleep on a hard, relentless bed. The boat came in next day, but the wind was blowing a gale, and the Captain refused to go further. The boat was a small, box-like affair, called the Rob Roy, top-heavy and in danger of capsizing in a high wind. All day we remained at the hotel, and all day the boat remained tied up at the landing. I read Ruth Hall within while the wind raged without, and the huge waves washed the shore. At nightfall the captain sent word to the hotel for the passengers to come on board, and should the wind lull through the night, he would start. But the wind didn’t lull, and we remained tied up all night.
I lay on a narrow wooden bench with our carpet bag for a pillow, while my poor, tired mother passed another sleepless night sitting on a hard, uncomfortable chair, with the baby in her arms. All the large boats had gone north, and the Rob Roy was the only one plying between Columbus and Cairo. It had no conveniences whatever, neither ladies’ cabin nor staterooms, and no facilities for cooking and eating. How well I remember that comfortless night, how one of the boat’s crew dropped a heavy wooden bucket of water on the bare floor, making a terrific crash. I thought the boiler had burst, and we were on our way to the bottom. Then anon, the blaze of the lamp, hung high on the side of the little square cabin, shot out at the top of the dingy chimney, and I sat up on my bench bed and screamed out, “Take it down, take it down.”
Morning dawned at last, calm and clear, and we were soon plowing the yellow Mississippi, with the dark Missouri forests on our right. As we neared Cairo my mother called me on deck to view the “meeting of the waters.” To me, as I recall it now, it resembled a bias seam running across from shore to shore. At Cairo my mother debated long whether to continue the homeward journey by river or rail, having a presentiment of an accident in either case, but finally decided in favor of the latter.
We had nothing to eat since our lunch on the Rob Roy, brought from the hotel, until we reached Centralia, Ill. Just after nightfall the train stopped in front of an eating house, my mother called for coffee and lunch, which were handed through the car window. We ate and drank hurriedly, and even then the train was moving as the empty dishes were handed back to the waiter, and we settled down for a night’s steady traveling.
Throughout this journey there had always been some one to arrange a seat for my comfort, and this part of it was no exception to the rule. I was soon sound asleep and knew no more until rudely awakened by a loud crash, and by being thrown violently to the floor. My mother was thrown forward on her knees, while the baby struck the seat in front. The accident had happened. Consternation and excitement prevailed, but it was soon learned that the track had been torn up and our train wrecked. It was 4 o’clock in the morning, but was yet quite dark. Examination by the light of lanterns showed that the engine, baggage, mail and express cars had plunged down an embankment 40 feet deep. Our car became uncoupled from the one in front, which was all that saved it from a like fate. Even then it was so tilted toward the edge of the precipice that it was with difficulty we could get out.
We sat on a log and waited for dawn and the righting up of our car. The engine caught fire and burned up. The engineer was killed outright, and the fireman so badly hurt that he died a few days later. “Little Rosebud” came home with blood on her dress that dripped from his wounds as he was carried through our car. We were in Indiana when the accident happened, and it was supposed to have been the work of “copperheads” or rebel sympathizers. We were about seventy-five miles from Cincinnati, and four miles from the nearest station, to which the conductor walked and telegraphed to the city for help. We sat for hours in the coach with nothing to eat. The train men, with bandaged heads, and arms in slings, passed in and out rehearsing the accident and trying to cheer us as best they could. Late in the afternoon an engine came out from the city, and we were soon speeding along, getting hungrier each mile.
There was a gentleman on the train who was very kind to us. He, too, had been south, speculating in cotton and was now returning to his family in Cincinnati. He tried at every station where we stopped to get something for us to eat, but strangely enough, nothing could be obtained, not even a cup of coffee, which my mother so much needed, she being nearly exhausted from loss of sleep and lack of food. The gentleman at last secured some small cakes of maple sugar, some of which he gave to me, keeping the others for his two little girls, whose home, he said, was at the Burnett House, and who had never even heard of maple sugar. He laughingly told me to read the signs on the restaurants as we passed, and try to think I was having something good to eat.
As we rolled into the great city, the lights were gleaming everywhere, and the newsboys were crying the accident on the streets. We went immediately to the Henrie House. It was Saturday evening, and we feared we would have to stay until Monday, but were informed by the clerk that the steamer Marmora would start in a very few moments. There was no time for supper, and we hurried down to the boat. A lunch was hastily prepared for us, of which we partook sparingly, and at the regular supper we did ample justice to the meal. We traveled all night without knowing it, so soundly did we sleep, and on Sunday morning, February 22, 1863, we walked up the snow-clad banks of the Ohio, shivering with the cold, and wishing ourselves back in the sunny clime of the beautiful Southland.
YEARS after these events, when white-winged peace hovered o’er all the land, while conning my geography lesson at school, and trying to fix in my mind that the city of Constantinople is situated on the Sea of Marmora, that night of hunger came back to me vividly, and the stern-wheel steamer Marmora, with her lights reflected in the broad bosom of the Ohio, loomed up before me with a reality never to be forgotten.
The dear mother who made that long, and in those days perilous, journey, with the care of two little children, has gone to her reward, borne to her last resting place by six honored and respected soldiers of the community. The father for whose sake the journey was made still lingers on the shores of Time. “Little Rosebud,” the pet of the hospital, is a happy wife and mother, while the writer fills an humble sphere at home, and writes her name today just as she did thirty-seven years ago.
My little story is done. It is but a faint and feeble outline of those far off-days, and but a slender thread that connects me with The Great Rebellion. But such as it is, I dedicate it to the G. A. R. in general and the “boys” of Corinth in particular, and to my dear sister who as an infant in arms, could know nothing of this period in her life and mine.
Boys who wore the blue, you have long been gray. Many of your ranks have already “crossed the river, and are resting under the trees,” not in wall tents or Sibleys, but
And when for them and you the “long roll” is sounded, commanding all the vast armies to “turn out” and “fall in” for the last Grand Review, and you stand in serried ranks before the Great Commander, Oh! may you all be able to sing as in one grand chorus,
Nathan W. Crooks, prominently identified with the early portion of this history, died at Washington C. H., O., on May 6, 1900.
Wesley Jackman, one of the four hungry “boys from home” whom I fed at the Manassas House, Jackson, answered the final call on August 6, 1901, just three days before the last pages of this book went to press.