In 1862, I abandoned
the school room in Bradley County, East Tennessee, and joined the 9th, Tennessee
regiment of infantry at Knoxville, Tennessee. By the laws of the
Confederacy, I was exempt from military duty because of my profession as a
teacher, but in east Tennessee about three-fourths of the people are
opposed to war and a man who had voted for secession was safer in the army than
he was at home. And there was disposition on the part of Lincolnites to
see that all who favored the Confederacy should enter the army while they
themselves remained behind the Confederate lines or secluded themselves in the
woods to avoid service in the Southern army, and the latter class constituted
the larger part.
I was in Company I, Memphis Rangers, under Capt. Rogers, a member of the Roman Catholic Church. During my service as a soldier I made many friends among the members of my company. When I left home to go to Knoxville, I carried with me a copy of Walker’s Christian Harmony, and we would collect together evenings and sing the old songs our parents and grandparents sang when we were children sitting around our happy fireside, and thus, past the time very pleasantly while at camp.
We had some very hard times and, often, some pleasant memories in those times that tried men’s Souls. We had fine officers and I admired all of them. Leoidus Polk commanded our Corps., Frank Cheatham our division, George Maney our Brigade, and the regiment was commanded by different men at different times.
At the time I entered the service, Colonel Hart was in command of the Regiment. He was a very brave man and a good officer. In 1862 the 9th. Infantry were consolidated at Murfreesboro, Tennessee. General Braxton Bragg was in command of the Tennessee army at the time of the consolidation. He was a man that I admired though many of the soldiers disliked him because of his rigid discipline and his stern disposition. He was a good fighter and was careful of his men. In the battle of Murfreesboro, December 31, 1862, he attacked General Rosecrans at daylight and put the right wing of the federals to flight. It was the intentions of Rosecrans to attack Bragg’s force at 8 a.m., but Bragg caught on to his plan and advanced on the federals at daylight.
We had been on duty at La Vergne, a village 15 miles from Nashville, Tennessee, and while there Colonel Hart, on Christmas Day, treated our regiment to a barbecue of goat meet. I thought it was the best dinner I had ever eaten. (You who read this little book, if you have never been a soldier, don’t know how much appreciation is attached to a kindness of this kind.)
One night, just before Rosecrans advanced on Bragg from Nashville, Colonel Hart took the regiment and a battery of artillery, also a cavalry force, and went down the turnpike within 7 miles of Nashville with a view of capturing a force of federals who were stationed there, but the cavalry made a mistake and instead of getting between Nashville and the federals, they came between our regiment and the Yankees. So the move was a failure. Our battery threw a few shells into the camp of the enemy and returned to camp. I was not with the regiment on this occasion, having been vaccinated, my arm was too sore to carry my gun. When the boys returned and reported their failure, I told then that it just meant that Rosecrans would pay them back in side of a week, and he did. On Saturday, December 28th, our regiment was attacked by the enemy at La Vergne, Tennessee. We fought them for several hours, retreating towards Murfreesboro. The Yanks were following us on both sides of the pike road. We would lie on the ground in the woods on each side of the pike until they were near us, then we would fire and then retreat at the double quick for a short distance and repeat the fire. We continued this skirmish fire until we crossed Stewart’s Creek. We burned the bridge and camped that night within 5 miles of Murfreesboro. Captain Rogers walked out that day from Murfreesboro and met us during the fight.
I remember asking him what was going on at Murfreesboro, and he told me that they were going to have a H--- of a fight in a few days. I said to him that I had heard a great deal said about his church (the R.C. church), but that I didn’t know anything about it? I said, “What kind of church is it?” and he replied that it was the “#/@- best church in the world.” He was not with our company very much of the time, but was a recruiting officer. He never failed to be with us when a battle was in hand.
After spending the night in camp we marched to Murfreesboro and occupied our old camp grounds. It was Sunday. We drew 3 days rations, and more advise to have it cooked and ready for marching orders at 6:00 Monday morning. We were in line next morning according to the orders given the previous day. We were marched across Stone River and took our place in battle, in the left wing of our army, and remained in that line all the next day. On Tuesday December 30, McCovans’ Texas division came on the field and took position on our left. I had a brother, G.P. Miller, in the 10th, Texas Regiment who I had not seen since Bragg made his raid into Kentucky and hearing that McGowan’s division was coming, I obtained permission to leave rank to look for my brother. I stood on the side of the pike and inquired for the 10th Texas regiment and as it passed I inquired for the company to which my brother belonged. He was, at the time, commanding the company and when I spoke to him, he told me that their command was going into battle in a few minutes and for me to come back to see him that night. Again obtaining leave of my officers I visited the 10th Texas Regiment and spent several hours with my brother and his friends.
The next morning, December 31, 1862, Bragg attacked the enemy as has been stated. At roll call, before the battle, our regiment numbered 544 men and that night, after the battle, 272 answered present. Our losses consisted principally of those who had been wounded. In the battle, our regiment supported Smith’s battery. When we were in line of battle that morning, Lt. Sparks asked Henry Rasiner, a Russian Jew, if the yanks would kill him that day. He answered “No,” with the bitterest oath that could be uttered. My brother, G.P. Miller, said the yanks never made a bullet that would kill him. I never entertained an option like that. I knew that some would be killed and thought it was as apt to be me as anyone else. He was disabled in the battle. A cannon ball struck a fence rail and one of the rails struck him and crippled him in the hip. He was sent from the battle to the hospital in Cleveland, Tennessee, and while there, got a permit to visit father’s family about 10 miles from Cleveland, and while at fathers’, was taken sick with smallpox. Father sent for my wife to come to see him, before it was know that he had smallpox, and my only child, Theresa, then 3 years old, caught the disease.
Henry Rasiner, previously mentioned, was killed by my side by a piece of shell. After the battle we were kept in line night and day till Sunday morning about 4:00 a.m.
The losses in the battle were 13,000 federals and 10,000 Confederates. I desire to state that the private soldier knows very little about the movements in a great army, especially during a great battle. During the 6 days at Murfreesboro we were continuously in line of battle, after the battle on Wednesday, we occupied the cedar forest during the day, and at night we were transferred to the rifle pits in the open fields, and then back to the cedars during the darkness. If we slept at anytime during the day or at night, we had our hands on our guns. The 3 days ration we prepared on Sunday, before the battle, was all he had until Friday night. I was placed on the picket line Thursday morning before daylight and all I had to eat that day was a few cornbread crumbs. I had no water. The officer told us that they would send to Stone River for water, and fill our canteens and send them on to the picket line, but owing to the sharp firing line during the day, canteens were not sent.
When our command went into battle Monday morning, we crossed the river on a bridge. The river was not running though there was water in many places in the bed of the river. It had been raining some that week and when we reached the river in our retreat on Sunday morning, the stream was flowing briskly, and when the head of our column reached the slippery river banks, the men halted, seeming to dread the cold water. I shall never forget our good Colonel Hart who exclaimed, “March in there, what the H— are you halting for right under the fire of the enemy?” They obeyed orders and waded the river, the water being near waist deep.
After passing through the town of Murfreesboro we halted for a rest. Some of the boys had left ranks and gone foraging among the denizens, returning to us on the pike with fresh baked corn bread and raw bacon, which they sold to us at Confederate war prices. I purchased a slice of bacon about as long as my forefinger and as wide as my two fingers, and not more that one-eighth of an inch thick for $.25 in Confederate script. We continued our march after resting 2 or 3 hours and camped 5 hours north of Shelbyville, Bedford County.
One of the soldiers bought a large ham of meat for Lieutenant Sparks. He cut out as much as he wanted and handed the rest of it to us saying he had as much as he could eat. Of course, it was a treat to us that we very much appreciated.
Resuming our march the next morning, we passed through Shelbyville, crossed the Duck River and went into camp on the south side of the river, remaining in or near Shelbyville during the spring and summer, until the Union army begain advancing from Nashville. When Bragg formed his line of battle towards Murfreesboro, our baggage wagon with our cooking utensils, blankets, etc., were ordered to Bridgeport Alabama, and it was some 10 days or two weeks before the wagons returned to us at Shelbyville. During that time we cooked our meals over the fire by running a sharp stick through it, holding it over our log fires. We had no salt. Sometimes we would draw rations of cornmeal and nothing else. On such days we had corn mush to eat. During the spring, my health failed. I had fever and one day our regiment surgeon came to the tent and informed us that the army, in a few days, would retreat; that the enemy would drive upon us and that we would likely go on ‘the double quick’; that I was not able to stand the march due to my ill health and for me to prepare to go to the hospital at Rome, Georgia. The next day I was sent to the train and started to Rome. Mrs. Miller and our little girl was with me at the time. Before going aboard the train, my wife bought a glass of buttermilk for me, which I drank and became violently ill. I shall never forget the suffering I endured that day. My suffering was so intense; I could not sit up, but lay on the floor of the coach. The train reached Chattanooga; I was taken off and placed in the hospital there, being unable to continue the trip to Rome.
Mrs. Miller left me and went home, a distance of 20 miles. At this late date, I fail to remember just how long I remained at Chattanooga. Mrs. Miller was with me several times, and while there on one occasion she brought fresh cooked new potatoes, some fried pies, and fried chicken, which she had prepared at home. At that time, I was without fever and the doctors had been promising to give me a furlough home. I had observed that the surgeons had granted several furloughs home. I had spoken to them frequently in regards to the matter and they had promised that I would be a fit subject for a furlough when my health would permit, but that they would not think of sending me home in my feeble condition: that there was not medicine in the country, and that I would die if I left before my health improved.
My conclusion was that they did not intend to grant me a furlough, that they were just putting me off, etc.
When my wife brought me the good things to eat, before mentioned, I wanted to be honest and fair with the doctors and not do anything contrary to their instructions, so I told them about the things my wife had brought me and asked if I might eat them, and they said that I might eat a little chicken and potatoes, but they vetoed pies. After the conversation I partook of the things mentioned. The next morning, I realized that my fever had returned and when the ward surgeon came to my bunk, as was the custom each day, he felt my pulse and said I had fever again. I told him that I did not, but he replied that I could not fool him. You see, I willfully storied to him. I was so anxious to obtain leave to go home that I did not tell the truth. Our motto should be to tell the truth though the Heavens fall.
My indiscretion in my diet caused me to remain in the hospital several more weeks. When I received the long desired furlough, I took passage on the Cleveland branch of the East Tennessee & Georgia Railroad early one morning for home. I left the train at Black Fox, about 4 miles from Cleveland, where my dear father met me with horse and saddle. It was with difficulty that I mounted the horse which father led while I held on the pommel of the saddle. I was so weak I could hardly sit on the horse. My health became better as the weeks rolled by, but I was unable to return to duty and the soldiers I met, almost daily, advised me not to return to my command, although my furlough had expired. Just before the battle of Chickamauga, my uncles, Dave Miller, Jackson Miller, and Bryant Thompson, who were in Jo Wheeler’s command obtained leave of absence to visit my father for one night. Wheeler had made a raid on a federal force at Cleveland, 4 miles from my father’s home, completely routing them, and returning toward Chickamauga. The command passed within a half a mile of my father’s house and Wheeler granted my uncle leave to visit with my father, as before stated.
I was at father’s next morning, when they saddled their horses to rejoin their command which had gone on to Chickamauga. My uncle, Dave Miller was a Free Will Baptist preacher, and I shall never forget what he said to his brother and brother-in-law, which was in substance as follows: “Jack, you and Bryant don’t know about this war, you can go on to Chickamauga if you like, but I am going home and I am going to stay there.” Uncle Jackson said, “No”, he was going to kill a yankee before he went home. They parted company. Dave went home and the other two went to the battle and were both captured and put in the Rock Island Prison where Jackson died and Bryant Thompson remained a prisoner until the war was over.
The day after the battle of Chickamauga, I had an experience that I will remember as long as I live. Mrs. Miller had two fat hogs in the pen and we had decided to slaughter one of them. My brother, A.J. Miller was at home, having been captured and paroled at Perryville, Kentucky. I arranged with him to bring a barrel from father’s and I prepared for killing the porker by heating rocks in the fire-place. My rocks were getting red hot so I went to the door and looked across the clover field to see if Andy was coming with the barrel. As I reached the door, I saw brother coming, and at the same time, heard somebody beating on the R.R. tracks, and turning, I saw a company of Union soldiers tearing up the R.R. at the road-crossing, about 150 yards from the house. Mrs. Miller was spinning wool rolls at the time. I told her that the yankees were destroying the R.R. track and would be at the house within 5 minutes, for her to tell them that I belonged to Frank Cheatham’s division at Chickamauga. I left the house and took a position west of the log kitchen where I could see across the open hall and through the house. In less than 5 minutes, an officer entered the house dragging his long saber on the floor and entering into conversation with my wife, who told him I was in Braggs’ army; that I belonged to Cheatham’s division, etc. The officer stood at the mirror combing his hair and curling his whiskers. He told her if her husband was in Cheatham’s army that he was killed or captured, that they had betrayed his army. The more they talked, they faster Mrs. Miller turned the old spinning wheel. After he left the house, I crawled on my elbows and knees to the orchard fence and pulling out a rail, I went through the fence into a stubble field and lay in the field all day.
When the company completed their work at the crossing, they continued their march down the valley, hunting cord-wood and cross-ties, and tearing up the R.R. track in many places. Twice that day I had to change my place in the wheat field to avoid being run over by the yankees. Late that afternoon, they returned to Cleveland, which was their headquarters. About sunset, I called to my wife from the orchard fence and when she came to me, I told her to get my supper ready, that I would go to the Rebel army that night at Dalton, Georgia, which was some 25 miles south of my house. She soon brought me a good supper. I had had no dinner.
Having eaten, I went to the house and took such bedding as I could carry, and in company with Mrs. Miller and our little daughter, Theresa, who I taking to father’s, I set out for the Confederate camp at Dalton.
I will here relate an incident that may be of interest, or at least amusing to some friend who may read this little book. We had gone a short distance from the house when we heard someone talking and stopped to listen. I recognized my father’s voice. We stood there on the railroad til father came to us in company with my wife’s uncle, John Birchfield whom we had not seen since the war commenced. We was a Union man, or, as we called such men, a Lincolnite. Having met him, I abandoned the night march to Dalton and agreed to stay with him that night. So we made our bed in the clover field in a thicket of sassafras bushes. Uncle John lost no time in admonishing me to quit the army; telling me that the yanks had come to stay, that a large force of cavalry and infantry with artillery were at Cleveland, just 4 miles from where we were spending the night. We talked all night and it appeared that he was trying to make me as miserable as possible. About 4 o’clock in the morning, we heard a body of cavalry coming up the valley and Birchfield said, “just listen,” “What is that?” He asked me. I told him that it was Joe Wheelers cavalry coming to attack the Yanks at Cleveland. He asked. “Do you think so”. I answered, “I know so”. He said that there were too many Rebels in the raid, that he had to get back across the river. We heard the first fire, and we knew Wheeler was driving rapidly by the sound of the musketry. I invited Uncle John to breakfast with me at my father’s before starting on his retreat across the Tennessee River. A soon as we had breakfast, he started across the field in a brisk walk, and I climbed to the top of a shuck pen at the farm yard, took my hat off, and waving it about my head, hollered, “Hurrah for Jeff Davis and the Confederacy”. I did not cease til my uncle had reached the woods nearly a mile from the house. It may have been wicked in me, but I was so much rejoiced after he had made me feel so bad the night before that I could not refrain from tantalizing him. That was the last time I ever saw Mr. Birch- field.
In a few days after the incident just related, my parents insisted that I should go south with my wife and little daughter. They feared that the Tennessee Yanks would kill me. While I had no fear for such a thing, to gratify the desire of my father and mother, I loaded an ox-cart (wagon) with our little household goods and some fine wheat my father had planted and harvested for my wife and started south. My brother, Andy, was a teamster or driver. We had not gone more than 10 miles until we decided that our team was not able to carry the load. So we stopped at the state line, 17 miles north of Dalton, Georgia, and went into a house that one Mr. Harrison Taff was vacating and moved south, with a view of keeping out of the way of the federal army.
He was a fine man, a high toned Christian gentleman in every sense of the term. I never saw him afterwards. On Sunday, after we went into the house, two of my friends, Mr. J.K. Boyd, with whom I had lived and worked for before I was married, and Mr. John Britton, visited me and spent the day with me. Mr. Boyd was a Union man and Mr. Britton, like myself, was a Rebel. Mr. Boyd seemed to fear that Britton and myself were in great danger and advised us to go south and keep out of reach of the federal army. I told Mr. Boyd that in my opinion, he was in more danger than either of us. He appeared to be excited and agitated at my remark and asked why I thought so, and I told him that he had been trading with both parties and that his own neighbors were his enemies; that Britton and I had exposed the cause of the Confederacy, etc. Mr. Boyd was met afterwards by a squad of Yankees while riding around his field and one of the men pointed toward his house and asked if J.K. Boyd lived there. Boyd answered, “I am the man”. The yanks said, “We have come to kill you”. Boyd said, “I reckon not”, and turned his horse toward home. They shot him in the back. He rode to the house, got off his horse, laid down the drawbars and fell over them and died that afternoon.
My health was not improving. I had been sick for 4 or 5 months and was being treated by our family physician. I did not sleep in the house, fearing I would be captured by the Yanks. On February 7, 1864, one of my neighbors, Salem Earnest, who was visiting his widowed mother, from Lee’s army in Virginia came to my house to see me. It was a very cold day. Mr. Earnest said to me before leaving, “Jim, don’t sleep in the house tonight or the Yanks will get you. I heard a regular old yankee drum about sundown – it was no Rebel drum”. He left my house about 10:00 o’clock that night. I walked out into the yard with him. We shook hands and he left for home.
It was so cold, I hesitated and debated in my mind as to whether it would be prudent for me to leave the house and go into the woods to spend the night. Finally, I decided to sleep in the house even if the Yankees did capture me. I went into the house, warmed by the fire and went to bed. In a few minutes, I heard cavalry horses coming down the rock road, but that was nothing new, for every day Rebel soldiers were passing my house. I realized that it was Yankees, for the Rebels invariably rode to the front gate, stopped and hollered, then I would go out and meet them. Sometimes we would converse for a considerable time, and on some occasions they would dismount and we would go into the house and remain for half and hour or more.
As soon as they dismounted, I could hear them coming toward the house through the dry weeds and cornstalks in the field. When they reached the house, they called for me – ordering me to open the door. As I did not open it at once, they ordered me to open it immediately. I told them I would open it as soon as I could dress and light a lamp. When I opened it, they had, I suppose, 6 or 8 pistols pointed at me. They claimed they were Rebel soldiers looking for deserters from the Rebel army, etc.
Finally, one of them said, “Jim Miller, you know me. You are our prisoner and you can prepare to go to Cleveland.” I recognized him by his voice. He was my neighbor, Ike Richmond, who had left home and gone to Kentucky and joined the yankee’s army at the beginning of the war. When I was ready, he said to my wife, “Sarah, I hate to take your husband off, but the Rebels killed my father, etc”.
They had captured my friend and neighbor, L.C. Cagle before coming to my house. Richmond, Cagle, myself and wife, had been school mates. It was a fact that his father had been killed. I will give, as far as I can, the story of his death. My friend, John Britton, previously mentioned, lived less than one mile from Mr. Sam Richmond, Ike Richmond’s father. And I am indebted to him for the statements that follow in regards to Mr. Sam Richmond’s death.
John Britton visited my wife’s brother, Mr. B.C. Gillian, about dark one evening and said, in my presence, that two men who had secreted themselves in the woods near his house, had called to him from the woods and asked for something to eat. He carried their dinner to them and they told him, that they were Rebel soldiers, that they wanted him to tell them where Sam Richmond lived, that they were going to put him out of the way that night. They said Richmond was piloting Union soldiers across the Tennessee into the yankee army, and that they were going to tell him they were deserters from the Confederate army, and would ask him to assist them in reaching the Union lines, and that they would lose him on the way. When Britton related this story, I asked him why he did not let Richmond know about the matter in order that he night not fall into their hands. He said that they might be setting a trap for him. I told him that I would have informed Richmond at the risk of my life
On Wednesday following, the Richmond family and their friends made an all day search for Mr. Richmond, but failed to find him. It was Sunday, that Britton related the story above mentioned, and the search for him was made the following Wednesday.
The Richmond family reported that the men came to their house just about dark and asked Mr. Richmond to assist them in getting to the yankee lines, that they were deserters from the Confederate army, etc. Mr. Richmond refused to comply with their request, said his family, but consented to pilot them across the creek. There was a drift in the creek over which the crossing would be made. The drift was about one mile from the Richmond house. After the search was made, nothing more was known about the affair except that Mr. Richmond did not return home. His little son was hunting their sheep in the creek bottom and found his father’s bones lying by a log. He recognized that it was his father by the hat that he wore when he left home that night with the two men.
I will relate another story connected with the cruel death of my neighbor Mr. Richmond. My younger brother, A.J. Miller, previously mentioned, was attending a party one night and the subject of ghosts became the topic of conversation. Brother said he was not afraid of ghost. (This was before the little boy found his father’s bones in the creek bottom) Brother Andy made the remark that he would not be afraid to place his hands on Sam Richmond. Someone in the company reported that Andy Miller said, “He could place his hands on Sam Richmond”. The result was my brother was arrested and placed in jail in Cleveland, Bradley County, Tennessee. My wife’s brother was arrested about the same time and placed in the same jail. They were taken from the jail one day to dig a grave. The soldiers, of course, were guarding them while they were digging and the officer in charge, after they had measured off the grave and started digging, told them that the grave was not long enough and ordered them to make it longer. This alarmed by brother-in-law, he being a very tall man, about 6 foot 4 inches in height. He was impressed that it was his own grave he was digging. He told me after the war that, that was the most miserable day of his life.
My brother was tried in the district court and acquitted. Judge Gant defended him, charging a fee of $50.00. My recollection is that Mr. Gillian was never tried. (You will pardon the depression).
I will return to the 7th, of February. Leaving my home with my captors, some 8 or 10 of them, we started to Cleveland, a distance of about 13 miles. Our enemies returned by Cagle’s house, where they had captured him before coming to my house. At Cagle’s they took a fine mare that belonged to John Hughes, Cagle’s wife’s brother. As soon as we started on the march, Cagle’s wife gave him a lecture that I shall ever remember, the substance of which is as follows: “Now Lewis, don’t you take that nasty stinking yankee oath. Go to prison and die first”. She was a true and noble Southern woman, and like Mrs. Miller, a Rebel to the core. She continued talking as long as we could hear her, and, I have sometime thought, from the strain of her eloquence, she had attained before we were out of hearing, that she may have talked all night.
The soldiers in charge of us were in no hurry to return to Cleveland, for we stopped several times during the night and did not reach town until 8 or nine o’clock next day. The officer in charge took us to a hotel and ordered breakfast for us, which we appreciated, after being out in the cold all night. The breakfast was fine, such as Tennessee people always have. In the afternoon, we were delivered to the Provost Marshal’s headquarters one mile south of town. The premises belonged to Henry Gibbs, a very prominent gentleman and a member of the Confederate Congress at Richmond, Virginia. The soldiers at the camp were from Indiana. As soon as we were placed in the charge of the Provost Marshal’s command, one of the solders came to us and said, “You boys have not had dinner, have you?” I answered in the negative, but told him that we had, had a fine breakfast about nine that morning and did not need dinner. He said we must have dinner, and it was not long until dinner was ready. It consisted of almost everything our country affords.
That afternoon, the officer of the day, with a detail of 4 men, left camp and went into the country for some purpose. I never knew why, but I asked for permission to go with them, which he granted. My friend and fellow prisoner, Cagle, went too. After marching about 3 miles the officer halted and we all sat down by the side of the roadside for, perhaps 30 minutes, when we marched back to camp. On the way back, Cagle and I fell back a few paces and the following conversation, in substance, ensued: “Lewis, I heard the speech Catherine Jane, (his wife) made to you last night in regard to the Yankee oath, but it is my opinion that the best thing for us to do is to take the oath of allegiance to the U.S. Government and get out of this trouble”. He said he would never take the oath of allegiance to the Yankee government. I told him that I was sick and that if they sent me to prison in the North, I would die; that I had no hope of our people ever establishing a government; that our armies had failed to hold Cumberland Gap, and had given up Chattanooga, Knoxville, Lookout Mountain, and Missionary Ridge. All strong fortifications. Naturally, I said for him to think over the matter. There was nothing said about taking the oath by either of us until sometime afterwards. He mentioned the subject to me and said, he had thoroughly considered what I had said to him and believed I was right, and that if I was still of the same opinion, he was ready and willing to give up and become a citizen of the U.S. We made our wishes known at headquarters and took the oath.
Sometime afterwards, we were transferred to Chattanooga. We were given 30 day passes and permitted to pass anywhere in the city limits. We drew rations regularly from the commissary and had an abundance of food, but we had no bedding. When we were taken prisoner we were rushed off without any bedding and with only the clothes we had on our bodies. We slept in the barracks without any bedding or fire, except at times when we would find a plank or barrel stave which we would use for fuel.
One morning I said to Mr.Cagle, “Let’s try to get someplace to sleep where we can get one more good nights rest.” He consented to the proposition and we set out to find a house in which to pass the night. We searched all day without success. A short while before sunset we walked up to a two story boarding house and called to the proprietor, and to my surprise, an Irish man by the name Peter Connally, who I had known in the army, answered the call. He recognized me and appeared glad to see me. I felt encouraged thinking he would furnish us lodging for the night. But when he made our wishes known, he informed us that the house was crowded, that he could not give us any sort of accommodations. I left, so disappointed that I did not ask whether he had been discharged or had deserted the cause. While standing there talking to him, I noticed a large negro man chopping wood up on the hill. Leaving my Irish friend, we walked up the hill to the large wood pile and spoke the negro, calling him “Uncle,” and asked him if he could tell us where we could find a place to sleep. He answered, “I don’t know, boss, this town is full of soldiers. Me and my old woman live in this old cellar. You can stay with us if you want to.” I said to him, “Do you say we can stay with you.” He answered, “Yes boss.” I told him we would certainly stay. We told him we would go down to the commissary but would be back soon. We went to the commissary and drew our rations for 3 days, returning to the negros’ cellar, I turned the rations over to the negro woman telling her we wanted super and breakfast and that she could have the remainder for her own use. We retired early. She made our beds on the cellar floor, using clean sheets as white as snow. I had the best nights sleep and rest I had had in many months.
The next day I went to the Provost Marshal’s office and asked for a pass to go back home and get our families, but he refused at first, saying that Rebels would get us. I asked him if the R.R. was not well guarded between Chattanooga and Cleveland and he said it was. I told him we would travel on the R.R. and would not come in contact with the Rebel soldiers. After much importuning on my part he gave us passes signed by General Thomas.
We left about eleven in the forenoon for my father’s, reaching there about dark, having walked on the R.R. track 24 miles. We arrived too late for supper, but my sister soon had a nice, warm supper prepared for us. When supper was announced, I was almost paralyzed in my feet and had to be helped to the table.
My father and John Baty harnessed a team to a wagon and went to our house, 10 miles distant, and brought our families to us, and the next morning, carried us to Cleveland, where we took passage on a freight train for Wartrace, Bedford county, Tennessee.