Open main menu

Memoirs of Henry Villard/Volume 2/27








With Rosencrans at Murfreesboro'.—1863

I LEFT New York on May 3, and went directly to Cincinnati. Here I remained ten days, mainly for the purpose of watching the developments in the case of Vallandigham, the notorious leader of secession sympathizers. General Burnside, now in command of the Department of the Ohio, had arrested him on a charge of treason, and was about to bring him to trial before a court-martial. But as the General requested me not to publish anything in regard to the matter until the trial was over, at which no reporters were permitted to be present, it seemed useless to tarry longer, and I resumed my journey and reached Rosecrans's headquarters at Murfreesboro', Tennessee, five days later.

A short review of the experiences of the Army of the Ohio since I left it in eastern Kentucky, will be in place here. The campaign of Perryville had been brought to a close in October, 1862, by the successful retreat of Bragg's army into Tennessee. General Buell halted the pursuing columns north of the Cumberland River, and, after a few days' rest, turned his army again in a western direction towards Glasgow and Bowling Green. He had hardly issued orders to this effect when he was directed by the President to turn his command over to Major-General W. S. Rosecrans, who assumed charge on October 30. General McCook's and General Gilbert's corps were then concentrated at Bowling Green, and General Crittenden's corps reached Glasgow a few days later.

The strong dissatisfaction with the disappointing performances of General Buell that was generally felt in official circles at Washington, at the capitals of Western States, and by the loyal public, was the principal cause of his removal; but the immediate one was, that he again mani fested his former disinclination to comply with the orders from Washington to move directly into East Tennessee. Subsequent events proved, however, that for once he was right in remonstrating against those orders, on the ground that Bragg was aiming at the capture of Nashville, and that the protection of the Tennessee capital and the control of middle Tennessee were more important than the occupation of the eastern part of the State. General Rosecrans, too, was compelled to decide at once against the movement so long desired by the Government, by positive information of the appearance of Bragg at Murf reesboro, only thirtythree miles from Nashville, and to order the whole army, within a few days after his assumption of the command, to make for that city by forced marches.

Nashville was occupied during the Perryville campaign by the divisions of Generals Negley and Palmer. The place had been well fortified, and was never really in danger from the inferior rebel forces under General Breckinridge that hovered about it during the fall, acting more as a corps of observation than as besiegers, although they made some offensive attempts, and even boldly demanded the surrender of the city. But the advent of the aggressive Bragg within one and a half days march of it formed an immi nent danger, and justified the southward rush of the army for its protection. General McCook's corps reached its destination on November 9, having marched seventy-two miles in three days, and was directly followed by the other corps.

One of the first acts of General Rosecrans was a reorgan ization of the army. Its name was changed to "Army of the Cumberland," and it was divided into the right wing, under Major-General Alexander McD. McCook, composed of the three divisions of Johnson, Davis (the slayer of Nelson), and Sheridan; the centre, under General Thomas, with Rousseau, Negley, and Reynolds for division commanders; and the left wing, under General Crittenden, with the three divisions of Wood, Palmer, and Van Cleve. The new Commander-in-chief devoted himself assiduously to the improvement of the efficiency of his command, filling its thinned ranks with fresh troops, and weeding out incompetent officers. He also worked vigorously in other respects to get it ready for resuming the offensive as early as possible. Officers and men were greatly in need of clothing and foot-wear. The cavalry and artillery and the transportation department required extensive remounting, and an accumulation of quartermaster, commissary, and ordnance stores had also to precede a forward movement. Rosecrans's efforts to supply all these urgent needs were very much impeded by obstruction of communications with the North. The main line of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad had not been fully repaired since the destruction wrought upon it by the last formidable raid of the rebel cavalry leader Morgan, and hauling had to be done for many miles with army wagons. Nor was it found possible to ensure the regular operation of that sole available rail-line. More or less successful attempts to interrupt it were repeated again and again during November and December by the rebel chieftains Morgan, Wheeler, Wharton, Forrest, and others. Still, the wants of the army were gradually so far satisfied that, towards the end of the year, it could be considered ready to resume active operations.

Accordingly, General Rosecrans, on Christmas day, 1862, issued orders for a general advance the following morning upon Murfreesboro', where Bragg's army had remained stationary, receiving the benefits of rest, replenishment, and reinforcement. The army moved on December 26, in three columns: McCook on the right, Thomas with three of his five divisions in the centre, and Crittenden on the left. They came upon the rebel pickets and outposts within a few miles of Nashville, and, pushing them and their supports steadily before them, on December 29 reached the west bank of Stone's River in the immediate vicinity of Murfreesboro', which lies on the east side of it. General Rosecrans had believed that his antagonist would retreat on his approach, but found him well concentrated, and evidently ready to accept battle, with the two corps of Generals Polk and Hardee, and a division under General Breckinridge. Unknown to each other, both commanders prepared on the 30th to attack the next morning. By an extraordinary coincidence, the plans of battle were exact counterparts. Rosecrans aimed to inflict a great defeat upon the enemy by turning his right, and Bragg was determined to try the Perryville tactics again by a flanking movement with the bulk of his army against our right, which he doubtless knew was commanded by the same general, McCook, upon whom he had tried the same game all but successfully. In this concurrence of the purposes of the two adversaries, he who struck first and heaviest would naturally have the best chance to win, and this advantage unfortunately fell to Bragg.

Thus the great battle of Stone's River, one of the bloodiest of the Civil War, came to be fought on the last day of the year 1862. Bragg, by a general wheel of his centre and left under Polk and Hardee, managed to work around our right, and to hurl upon this flank massive columns with such irresistible impetus that they swept before them, partly dispersed, and partly captured the first of our divisions encountered, and rolled back upon the centre the other two divisions. The centre, being thus exposed to determined attacks from the front, flank, and rear, was also compelled to give ground, and succeeded in staying the steady advance of the rebels from a new position only with the help of divisions from our left. For some time during the day there was the gravest peril of a general and crushing defeat of our whole army, and it may still be considered an open question whether the prevention of such a terrible catastrophe was due more to our resistance than to the gradual tiring out of the assailants and their lack of reserves to follow up their success. As it was, the close of that awful day found us with a loss of nearly 10,000 killed and wounded, not far from 4000 prisoners (out of a total of 43,000 effectives), and 30 pieces of artillery, and forced back on a new line forming almost a right angle to the one first held. The enemy's casualties in killed and wounded were even heavier, out of an effective total of 8000 less than ours. The result of the exhaustion of both sides was that the opposing hosts lay confronting one another for the next two days. On the afternoon of the third day, the enemy attempted another assault, upon our left, ending in a severe repulse with heavy loss. Bragg retreated in the night of the fourth day — much to the relief of Rosecrans, who had even thought of a retreat to Nashville immediately after the misfortunes of the first day. What could at best be called a drawn battle by our side was now proclaimed, of course, a Union victory, coupled with the usual assertion that it was won over greatly superior numbers. Indeed, Rosecrans telegraphed to the War Department that he had encountered more than 62,000 rebels. Bragg, to be sure, likewise exaggerated our strength beyond 60,000. But the Official Records leave no doubt of the correctness of the respective strengths above given.

Rosecrans had set out from Nashville for an offensive winter campaign. Had the outcome of his main trial of strength with Bragg been satisfactory, as he confidently expected, he would doubtless have carried out that purpose, unless severe winter weather and, maybe, the course of events in other parts of the theatre of war had prevented it. The shock received by his command on Stone's River was so great, however, that he would have been obliged to lie still for a time at least for general recuperation, but he lapsed into inactivity for months. The severe handling he suffered from Bragg had apparently taken most of the aggressive “starch” out of him, and his confidence in the army was greatly diminished. Indeed, the relative reverse he had undergone transformed him from a buoyant fighter into another cautious and irresolute “cunctator” of the McClellan and Buell type.

The first evidence of this change of spirit was the extensive fortifications he planned and had carried out around Murfreesboro'. They were on such an elaborate scale as to indicate a decided fear of the enemy. Next came the prominence he gave, in his communications to the Government, to the great need of more drill and discipline in his army, although this shortcoming had not been considered serious enough by him before to delay his advance against Bragg. Other strong symptoms of his loss of pluck were his continuous and clamorous demands for more troops, more equipment, and more supplies. His likeness to the prototypes mentioned grew very striking when the one sound excuse for his prolonged lethargy, the protracted very bad weather, could not be pleaded any longer upon the advent of spring, and the Government began to urge upon him the resumption of offensive operations. Like the others, he did not seem to be able to get ready to move. He had no end of excuses. Suggestions to him only led to long deprecatory arguments against them. Orders from Washington produced no other effect than to draw from him remonstrances and protests. He gradually developed even an obstinate obstreperousness and outright resistance to the wishes of his superiors, and resented their interference almost as an insult and outrage. His conduct naturally produced discouragement and distrust of him at the national capital. The dissatisfaction of the Government with his inertia became known to the public, and led to criticism of him in the Eastern papers, while he had many strong champions in the Western press.

This was the state of things when I reached Murfreesboro' in May. On presenting my credentials, General Rosecrans received me with literally profuse cordiality. Referring to my review of his predecessor, he assured me that he deemed it a privilege to have so able and well-known a critic join him. Although I had only a slight acquaintance with him (I had seen him a few times during the siege of Corinth), he invited me at once to his mess, offered to provide sleeping-quarters for me next to his, and to furnish me horses and servants. This excessive hospitality confirmed the impression which prevailed among newspaper men, and which I had brought with me, that he tried to work the press systematically for his personal benefit. I felt that, if I placed myself under obligations to him by accepting the offered favors, he would expect services in return, and my independence as a writer could not be preserved. Accordingly, I declined his offers as politely as I could, and again joined my old friends, General McCook and his staff, who occupied a spacious brick mansion, the former home of the owner of a large plantation adjacent to the town, in which I was given a small but comfortable room. I also secured a serviceable horse and a negro servant.

My very first talk with Rosecrans satisfied me that I need not have made haste to retake the field, as he had no thought of an immediate advance. Fully six weeks were, indeed, to elapse before his army got again in motion, and during that time my work remained very light, as I was subject, of course, to the usual restrictions upon the publication of information regarding intended movements, the strength and condition of the army, and other matters that might have given “aid and comfort to the enemy.” Murfreesboro' was an attractive, solidly built-up town, but offered no social diversions, as most of the ten thousand inhabitants had disappeared. But I found plenty of other means of pleasantly whiling away my abundant leisure. To return to this army was to me almost like returning to one's large family, owing to the great number of friends I had in it. There had been but few changes among the general officers, and in visits to them much of my time was agreeably spent. Then General McCook and his military family were a very jolly set, and provided a good deal of fun. The singing of songs in chorus was a constant amusement. A continuous flow of official and unofficial callers also added to the liveliness of our headquarters. Drills, parades, and reviews likewise afforded diversion. The weather was most propitious for outdoor life, and I took advantage of it by daily horseback exercise.

It was my duty as well as my pleasure to pay frequent visits to the general headquarters, where I always received a hearty welcome from both General Rosecrans and his chief of staff, General James A. Garfield, in whom nobody then foresaw a future President of the United States. I will describe them separately. General Rosecrans was of middle stature, with a broad upper body and rather short, bow legs (owing to which peculiarities he presented a far better appearance when mounted than on foot); a head not large, with short, thin, light-brown hair; a narrow, long face with kindly blue eyes, strong nose and mouth, and scanty full grayish beard. His general expression was very genial. He was a great talker, voluble, earnest, and persuasive — one of the elements of his strength. General Garfield, not much over thirty years old, presented a far more commanding and attractive appearance. Very nearly, if not fully, six feet high, well formed, of erect carriage, with a big head of sandy hair, a strong-featured, broad and frank countenance, set in a full beard and lighted up by large blue eyes and a most pleasing smile, he looked like a distinguished personage. His manners were very gentlemanly and cordial, and altogether he produced and sustained a most agreeable impression.

It was not difficult for me to get on a confidential footing with Rosecrans. In fact, he freely offered his confidence to me of his own accord, and thus enabled me promptly to take a correct measure of the man. He showed at once that his disagreements with the Washington authorities were the uppermost thoughts in his mind, and that it gratified him greatly to express his ill-humor towards them. Indeed, he criticised General Halleck and Secretary Stanton with such freedom — with such a total disregard of official propriety — not once, but repeatedly, that it really embarrassed me to listen to him, although, fortunately, he was content to do the talking without expecting sympathetic echoes from me. He dwelt upon the disregard of some of his wishes by those superiors as a public wrong, and denounced as criminal their efforts to force him into the offensive before he was completely ready. Nor did he hesitate to expatiate upon his plans for future operations, and this with scarcely concealed self-appreciation. He evidently believed that he was destined to play the most prominent part and reach the greatest distinction among all the Union generals. He unfolded to me his conception of the grand strategy by which the triumph of the North could be assured, coupling it with a broad intimation that Halleck and Stanton would have to be got out of the way, leaving me to infer that, after this was done, the next necessary step was to put him in the former's place. Talk of this kind was so regularly repeated by him that I could not help concluding that he was anxious to impress me with his greatness and to have that impression reflected in the Tribune. There was a correspondent attached to his headquarters, W. D. Bickham, who did that sort of work for him very willingly in the columns of the Cincinnati Commercial. But the more “Old Rosey,” as the puffer in question had nicknamed him, tried to make me help in pointing him out as the great and only hope of the country, the less I was inclined to gratify him, and the smaller grew my faith in his fitness to command a large army and lead it to victory. Notwithstanding his transparent vanity and love of approbation, he tried to make me — and, for that matter, everybody else, including his superiors — believe that he disliked publicity and shrank especially from newspaper notoriety.

His principal justification of the inaction of his command was that, as long as he stood still, he held Bragg fast in his front, and prevented the sending of reinforcements from him to General Johnston in his efforts to foil Grant in the capture of Vicksburg. He explained to me at length the strategic theory on which he rested this plea. As appears from the Official Records, he used the same argument with General Halleck, who, however, tripped him up very effectively in replying to it. The simple truth regarding his real motives was, that the display of rebel valor and the lack of resisting stamina in his own troops on Stone's River still exercised a deterrent influence on his mind, and that under it he persisted in his belief in the superior strength of Bragg, and had not pluck enough to again undertake anything against him until he had at his command what in his judgment was a sufficient preponderance, numerically and otherwise.

General Garfield was also talkative, but more reserved and discreet than his chief. He professed to have great admiration for him and implicit faith in his military talents, but, unlike him, believed that the army was fully ready in the first half of May to enter upon a new campaign. He expressed himself freely upon the several ways of conducting operations against Bragg that suggested themselves from the relative positions of the opposed armies. He appeared to have a very clear and sound strategic judgment for one whose experience as commander had been limited to petty warfare, at the head of a small brigade, with raiders and guerrillas in eastern Kentucky. I recognized also his general capacity and great store of information. A distinguished career seemed certain for him, but I am sure that he himself did not dream that the chief magistracy of the nation was awaiting him.

There could be no doubt, however, that the long stay at Murfreesboro' had resulted in the much greater proficiency of the army. As more than one-third of it consisted of newly enlisted officers and men, there was great need of improvement in drill and discipline, and it must be said that the commanding general and the commanders under him had tried their best in that respect. Whenever the weather permitted, the exercises of the troops had been energetically pushed. But I could not learn that anything beyond drills by companies and regiments had been attempted. The explanation of this was that the Army of the Cumberland was as deficient as the Army of the Potomac and that under Grant in generals able to conduct brigade and division drills. But the same deficiency prevailed on the rebel side.

While the main body of the Army of the Cumberland enjoyed entire immunity from rebel disturbance, the enemy resumed his daring coups against a number of our isolated posts and his bold raids in our rear and upon our lines of communication, not long after the battle of Stone's River. His exploits forced Rosecrans to resort to counter-strokes, and from the latter part of January till June the newspapers published almost daily accounts of the more or less important undertakings of this kind on both sides, some of which I will mention. Towards the end of January, the united rebel cavalry under Forrest, Wheeler, and Wharton turned up in middle Tennessee, north of the Cumberland, and on February 3 appeared before Fort Donelson, but were repulsed by the garrison. On March 4, Colonel Colburn was sent from Franklin on a reconnoissance with a Union force of 1900 men, fell into a trap set for him by the rebel General Van Dorn, and was captured with 1400 of his command. On March 20 the rebel raider Morgan suffered a small defeat. A few days later, Forrest made a successful descent upon the Nashville & Columbia Railroad. Early in April our General Reynolds raided the Manchester & McMinnville Railroad, and soon thereafter Colonel Streight with 1600 men started from our side on his daring but disastrous raid into northern Alabama and Georgia, where he was captured with his whole force by Forrest. In May and early June, further raids were undertaken by our General Stanley and the tireless rebel Forrest.

The irritating friction between the Government and General Rosecrans continued steadily after my arrival, and even grew in severity through the month of May. But, early in June, the General found himself driven into a corner by the proof that he had failed to hold Bragg's entire force, a large part of it having actually reinforced Johnston in Mississippi. Ordered by the Government to take advantage of the weakening of his foe by a forward movement, and yet unwilling to comply, he bethought himself of an indirect mode of evading the command from Washington. He summoned his corps and division commanders to a council of war, and succeeded in obtaining from fifteen out of seventeen an endorsement of his opposition to an advance, which vote he triumphantly telegraphed to General Halleck, who answered him cuttingly that “councils of war never fight.” As the Government was loath to override the opinion of the council, General Rosecrans would probably have had his way but for the efforts of his chief of staff. In controversion of the views and verdict of the generals, General Garfield prepared and submitted an exhaustive memorandum. It set forth in detail the actual strength of our army and the estimated one of Bragg's, according to which figures we had fully one-third more effectives. It clearly stated all the arguments for and against an immediate advance. One of the strong points which he made, and which mainly moved the Government in urging Rosecrans to activity, was the imperative political necessity of stopping the growth of the anti-war sentiment in the loyal States (as shown by the spread of “copperheadism”) by Union victories in the field. Although the Commander-in-chief did not yield at once, the deliberate conclusion of his chief of staff that an advance should no longer be delayed, no doubt greatly influenced his early decision to move.

On June 11, General Halleck telegraphed from Washington to General Rosecrans: “I deem it my duty to repeat to you the great dissatisfaction that is felt here at your inactivity. There seems to be no doubt that a part of Bragg's force has gone to Johnston.” It appears that no answer to this was deigned by Rosecrans, whereupon Halleck wired him again on June 16: “Is it your intention to make an immediate movement forward? A definite answer, ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, is required.” This peremptory demand elicited the following response: “In reply to your inquiry, if immediate means to-night or to-morrow, No. If it means as soon as all things are ready, say five days, Yes.” This extraordinary telegraphic incident was closed by a despatch dated Murfreesboro', June 24, 2.10 A.M., saying laconically: “Major-General Halleck, General-in-chief: The army begins to move at three o'clock this morning. W. S. Rosecrans, Major-General.”

In this connection I will also quote a telling rebuke from a letter of President Lincoln in reply to a long defence of his course which the General had sent to him:

Executive Mansion, Washington, August 10, 1863.

My dear General Rosecrans:

Yours of the 1st was received two days ago. I think you must have inferred more than General Halleck has intended as to any dissatisfaction of mine with you. I am sure you, as a reasonable man, would not have been wounded could you have heard all my words and seen all my thoughts in regard to you. I have not abated in my kind feeling for and confidence in you. I have seen most of your dispatches to General Halleck — probably all of them. After Grant invested Vicksburg, I was very anxious lest Johnston should overwhelm him from the outside; and when it appeared certain that part of Bragg's force had gone and was going to Johnston, it did seem to me it was exactly the proper time for you to attack Bragg with what force he had left. In all kindness let me say, it so seems to me yet. Finding from your dispatches to General Halleck that your judgment was different, and being very anxious for Grant, I, on one occasion, told General Halleck I thought he should direct you to decide at once to immediately attack Bragg or to stand on the defensive and send part of your force to Grant. He replied he had already so directed in substance. Soon after, dispatches from Grant abated my anxiety for him, and in proportion abated my anxiety about any movement of yours. When afterwards, however, I saw a dispatch of yours arguing that the right time for you to attack Bragg was not before, but would be after, the fall of Vicksburg, it impressed me very strangely; and I think I so stated to the Secretary of War and General Halleck. It seemed no other than the proposition that you could better fight Bragg when Johnston should be at liberty to return and assist him than you could before he could so return to his assistance.

According to the official returns, the aggregate of officers and men present for duty at the opening of the campaign was: Fourteenth Corps, 26,058; Twentieth Corps, 16,047; Twenty-first Corps, 17,023; reserve corps, 20,615; cavalry corps, 12,281 — making a total of infantry, artillery, and cavalry of over 90,000. But, from this total, the staffs and escorts of the army, corps, and division headquarters, and the division of Van Cleve left to garrison the works at Murfreesboro', had to be deducted, so that the available number of actual combatants was under 70,000.

Bragg's army was known to occupy a strong position on the range of much-broken, rocky hills extending north of and parallel to Duck River, a tributary of the Cumberland. His lines extended from Shelbyville to Wartrace at an average distance of something over twenty miles south of ours. His front was about ten miles long, and covered the railroad from Nashville to Chattanooga and the principal ordinary highways in the same direction. The nature of the country gave the enemy great advantages for defence, and, moreover, a line of field-works had been constructed for the better protection of the approaches. A cavalry force covered each of his wings. His effective total was estimated at under 40,000 bayonets and sabres.

Rosecrans's plan of operations was that of an able strategist. A front attack being forbidden by the formidableness of the rebel position, he proposed to turn Bragg's right and assail him on that flank and his rear. To that end, the corps of General Granger was to make a show of an advance in force from Triune upon the enemy's left at Shelbyville, and, at the same time, a forward movement of infantry and cavalry columns in an easterly direction was to have the appearance of a feint to divert attention from Granger. The bulk of the three corps of Thomas, McCook, and Crittenden was to execute the principal movement around the rebel right by hurried marches in a southeasterly direction, with the town of Manchester (on the south bank of the Duck) as the objective-point, on reaching which, the rebel flank, rear, and communications would have been exposed to us.

The corps commanders were summoned to the army headquarters on the evening of June 23, and this plan was fully explained to them by the General-in-chief. I had received a plain intimation of what was to come from General Garfield during the day, and made my preparations accordingly. As the army was to move with only twelve days rations and as little baggage as possible, I arranged to leave my trunk with the headquarters train of McCook's corps, and to set out with no other impedimenta than toilet things and two changes of underclothing in my saddle-bags. General Garfield had offered to provide for me at the general headquarters during the campaign; but as, in his opinion, McCook's corps was most likely to be the first to collide with the enemy, I concluded to accompany it for a few days at least. Learning that the division of General Johnson was to be in the lead, I gladly accepted an invitation to spend the night at his headquarters and ride with him next day.

The actual orders to move were not issued till after midnight. The division was roused at four and ready to get under way at five, but was not put in motion till eight. I had grown very tired, towards the end, of the monotony of our routine life at Murfreesboro', and heartily welcomed the impending change to the stir and excitement of campaigning. I felt in perfect health and highest spirits, and looked and hoped for a long period of active work. But it was ordained that my new career should be brief — indeed, cut short at its very beginning. The greatest disappointment I experienced in the Civil War was in immediate store for me.

The second division first marched for six miles over the Shelbyville turnpike, and then turned to the left into an ordinary country road leading to the sadly dilapidated town of Old Millersburg and beyond it to “Liberty Gap,” one of the several narrow defiles through the rough hills north of the Duck River. The division was preceded by five companies of mounted infantry, immediately behind which General Johnson and staff and myself followed. Nothing was seen or heard of the enemy until we approached the Gap in the afternoon, which the mounted infantry found strongly guarded by rebels. A lively skirmish ensued, and, the ground being unfavorable for a cavalry attack, the General ordered the leading brigade under General Willich to clear the way. The latter had his command ready for an advance in a short time, and moved forward with a strong line of skirmishers and supporting companies in advance, and one regiment on the right and another on the left of the road, with two regiments and a battery in reserve. The rebel skirmishers fell back before us upon their supports on the high hills forming the entrance to the Gap. A direct attack being hardly practicable, Willich made his regiments feel their way around the flanks of the enemy, and, aided by part of another brigade, finally swept them from their position just before dark, by scaling the heights in a rush, with considerable loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners. Their camps were also captured. We lost a small number in killed and wounded. Our troops displayed a good deal of dash.

Up to that day, the weather had been all that could be wished for many weeks. But, soon after sunrise, the sky became covered, and by noon it commenced raining, and turned into a steady downpour in the course of the afternoon. It was the beginning of one of the worst rain storms that ever visited that part of the country, and actually continued with hardly any interruption for fully a fortnight. It quickly made the roads almost impassable, and the consequent obstruction of the movements of the army eventually prevented the full success of Rosecrans's strategy. I had no waterproof, but an ordinary army overcoat, which afforded little protection. By nightfall I was literally wet to the skin. General Johnson invited me to share his tent, and had a big fire built under a large “fly” stretched over the entrance to it. Having no change of clothing, as even the extra underwear in my saddle-bags was wet, I had to spend the night in my soaked condition. In a few hours I became very feverish, and felt rheumatic pains all over my body. I suffered intensely, too, all night, from a fearful headache. In the morning, the fever was so high and the rheumatism so acute that I was entirely unable to move. The General sent for the chief surgeon of the division, who came promptly, and, after examining me thoroughly, expressed the opinion that I was suffering from a very severe attack of malarial fever and inflammatory rheumatism. He added that it was altogether out of the question for me to keep on with the army, and that the best thing I could do would be to return to Murfreesboro' or Nashville and go into a hospital. He offered to send me to the former place on an ambulance-train that was soon to start with our wounded of the day before. The thought of having to abandon the field within the first twenty-four hours was most irksome, but as I began to feel confused in my mind and could not stand on my legs, and had to choose between being taken back or left alone in a wild rebel region, I submitted to the inexorable.

An ambulance soon drove up, into which I was lifted on a stretcher. There were already two wounded officers in it, one of whom was able to sit up, so that there was room enough for me to be carried in a lying position. A surgeon accompanied us. The rain continued to come down heavily, and, what with its effect and that of the passage of artillery and trains, the roads had become so bad that our team had to be walked all the forenoon till we struck the turnpike. The ride was very rough, and would have discomforted me greatly had I not been partly out of my senses. It was late in the evening when we arrived at Murfreesboro', where I was transferred to a military hospital that had been established in a large brick building ordinarily used for mercantile purposes. I had a severe attack of bilious nausea on the way, which recurred during the night and made me very weak and unable to take food of any kind. The doctor in charge interested himself specially in my case, and the next day offered to send me North in a hospital railroad car that was about to start with a load of sick and wounded officers and men for Louisville. He told me frankly that it would take me some time to get well, and advised me strongly to avail myself of the opportunity. Accordingly, I was put on the train which started from Murfreesboro' on the second morning and brought us to Louisville the next day. My fever and rheumatic aches increased during that long railroad journey, and I was a very sick man when we reached our destination. The Galt House people had been informed by telegraph, and were on hand at the station to receive and take me to the hotel.

Here I was confined to my bed till July 21, when I was sufficiently improved to take the risk of a transfer by boat to Cincinnati, where I put up at the Burnet House. The all-absorbing event of the day was the extraordinary raid which the rebel guerrilla leader Morgan was making through the southern parts of Indiana and Ohio. It was the most daring venture of the kind since the outbreak of the war. His force, consisting of several thousand mounted men, swam their horses across the Ohio not far from Louisville, and then started upon their plundering career, moving northward at first and then eastward through southeastern Indiana and across the whole State of Ohio, their route lying about half-way between Cincinnati and Columbus. This sudden invasion produced the greatest excitement and consternation in the two States, as well as throughout the Northwest. Great efforts were made to intercept the rebels with militia and troops from the enlistment camps at Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and Columbus; but the raiders moved so rapidly, and interrupted communication by rail and telegraph so much, that no concentration of forces was effected in time to stop them. Several bodies of militia and troops had, however, encounters with detachments of the enemy, and killed, wounded, and captured more or less of them. It was only when the raiders were nearing the Ohio in the eastern part of the State that a considerable body of them, with Morgan himself, were finally cornered and captured, the remainder escaping across the river.

Having recovered strength enough to resume work, I devoted myself to supplying the Tribune with news about the raid by telegraph and mail; and, in pursuit of that object, I went to Columbus, the capital of the State, where I prepared a long account of the rebel incursion. From Columbus I went to Yellow Sulphur Springs, near Springfield, Ohio, to drink the waters for a fortnight; but, instead of thus completing my restoration to health, I was suddenly attacked again with bilious intermittent fever, and barely managed to get back to Cincinnati, where I was once more confined to my bed for nearly three weeks. The fever threatened at one time to assume a typhoid character, but, fortunately, did not actually develop into it. I was again convalescent when intelligence was received of the two days fighting at Chickamauga between Rosecrans's and Bragg's armies and of the disastrous result to our side. As I had hoped all along to be able to take the field again before any serious collision between the two armies occurred, I felt great disappointment that I had not witnessed it, but did what I could to utilize for the benefit of the Tribune the information regarding the battle received by the local papers. I remained in Cincinnati till September 29, when at last I started again for the front.

I here break off the narrative of my personal experiences in order to make room for a history of the battle of Chickamauga.