Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

An Artilleryman’s Diary–Jenkin Lloyd Jones, 6th Battery, Wisconsin Artillery.

Chattanooga, Thursday, June 29. Aroused from our out-of-doors slumbers by the familiar notes of the old bugle at 3 A. M. Washed, and got aboard, and started 4 A. M. exactly. Ran very quietly and on time to Decherd, Tenn., which we reached by 12 M. Here we changed engines. Took an engineer unscrupulous and drunk, who ran the train at a dangerous rate between stations, then stopping for time and getting more whiskey. At times we traveled at the rate of thirty-five miles to the hour over a very poor track, in spite of the remonstrance of our officer. The conductor persisted in allowing him to draw us through.

Stopped to wood up. Many of the boys got off to pick blackberries which were very plenty. At the instant the signal was given to start, the drunken brute threw full power on the engine, starting up with great suddenness, and we were soon under full headway. Poor Frank King was on the ladder between the cars, and he lost his hold and fell on the rails, the forward trucks of the car I was on, passing over his lower extremities. The shuddering cries of the wounded man pierced the ears of all on board, and one and all strove to stop the train, but the engineer instead increased his power. Not until the boys locked the brakes so tight that his drive wheels flew over on the rail, did he stop, and then he made a mad effort to proceed, which resulted in breaking loose towards the forward end of the train.

Swift feet carried men back to where the unfortunate man lay. An engineer of the southern train was bathing his temples with water and endeavoring to stay the flow of blood, but he was gone beyond the power of human skill, his legs badly crushed and spine injured so that he died in a few moments without uttering an audible word. The train was backed up and the corpse put into a vacant car with his bereaved brother Fred, and we proceeded in the same reckless manner. The boys by this time were filled with just indignation, and at Murfreesboro, as the now perfect demon rushed into the nearest saloon to imbibe once more of the “devil’s beverage”, he was surrounded by a crowd, rushed out of doors and handled roughly, pistols were presented, and his life was in jeopardy, when he said “that he did not care if he killed every d—.”

Captain Simpson and Lieutenant Sturges of Battery E, 1st Ohio, telegraphed to Nashville the facts, and demanded another engineer of the conductor, but he refused, so Sergeant Dziewanowski and three or four others of our boys rode on the engine to watch him. Ran very well to Lavergne, fifteen miles from Nashville, when he discovered his boiler was almost dry, water all gone. Watered and he was obliged to run the engine alone to pump the water into the boiler. Ran down the track a mile and a half, and came back under all the speed he could raise. Without letting up struck the train, mashing in the forward cars, and knocking everybody in the train down nearly. By this time two pistols were fired at the villain, and a stone struck him on the head. He rushed on for Nashville, his fireman leaving him to his fate. After some delay another engine hitched on to us and we proceeded with caution. Five miles from town we found his engine on the road, he having taken himself to the woods. Reached depot by 10 P. M. and slept in the depot.

Chattanooga, Wednesday, June 28. It is evening and the great work of turning over is accomplished in spite of lazy quartermaster. Through the unceasing efforts of our officers we are here on the depot platform ready to take the 4 A. M. train for “Home, Sweet Home.” Left our old camp at 6 P. M. in high glee, and departed with hearty demonstrations for the Old Guard House where we all suffered from military agony. Captain Nicklin, inspector general, who has often been abused and everybody else received his portion of “big injun tigers”, etc. But I must go to sleep.

Chattanooga, Tuesday, June 27. Daylight found us in our boots and stirring. 7:30 A. M. the Battery moved out followed by battery wagons, forge and four wagon loads of ordnance. I on detail along. Ordnance officer ready to receive us. Lieutenant A. Sweet superintended the counting of everything by the clerk, which is a very tedious job. Captain Simpson disposed of ammunition. I was on duty with Lieutenant Sweet and rode fast and heavy as orderly for him, bringing reports, etc. to and from camp. To-night everything is gone except the horses, which will be turned over to-morrow.

Great anxiety is expressed by all to reach home by the Fourth of July, which at present looks very probable. Camp looks forlorn and disorganized, everything upside down, boxes being made to be carried by express, knapsacks packed as though there was no time to do it to-morrow, but nobody notices it. All of the reserve are under home orders to-day. Fortune smiled on us this time in being first; aye, it laughed outright upon us. But, dear Journal, I cannot write, I feel too good.

Chattanooga, Monday, June 26. That for which we have so long waited, for which so many hard words have been uttered because of its long delay, for which so many officers have been roughly abused for its being withheld—We are ordered to the States. To be mustered out. Hurrah!! Hurrah!!!

Boys went out grazing as usual this morning. 9 A. M. here comes an orderly which set the Captain a-jumping, Lieutenants a-crowing and privates run wild. In less time than it takes to write, all hands, cooks and negroes included, were at work cleaning off the guns so that they will be received by ordnance officers. Water, brush and rags and every available cleanser used until they would pass. Boys came in with horses at noon and another stock of good feelings passed around. Afternoon well spent in cleaning, counting and gathering harness and other stores. Commence turning them over to-morrow. Never since we last threw up works in front of the enemy, did the boys work with such a will. All past grievances forgotten in pleasant anticipations of the future.

Chattanooga, Sunday, June 25. Another Sabbath has been added to the long list of those passed in a soldier’s camp, in the same listless, irreverent way. But now that I am once more on the eve of a change, my mind is more reconciled to camp. In contrast, many times during the day have I thought of my home which I have never seen. Fancy has a wide range to build my ideal home, and then place the inmates who are anxiously waiting for Jenk’s return. Wrote a letter to John and that is all.

Chattanooga, Saturday, June 24. A dull, quiet morning until 9 A. M. when I was ordered to the guard house for duty. Three of us reported there. We were to guard prisoners to work on the road leading to water. Kanouse took them out two hours before noon; reported at camp for dinner. After dinner laid in guard house all day. Relieved at night by officer of the day, having done nothing. No great stir.

Chattanooga, Friday, June 23. After a good night’s rest, I feel very tired yet. It will take some time to get over the effects of that tramp. Some batteries are cleaning up ordnance, etc. The reserve is gradually dissolving. The command will undoubtedly go home together when it goes at all. Assistant Inspector General —— inspected all our condemned goods, knapsacks and Company property.

Chattanooga, Thursday, June 22. Daylight found us snoring away in a most ridiculous condition, wallowing in the sand around the negroes’ fire, but I had a good night’s rest. We pulled out early, breakfasted on blackberries, hard-tack and cold water from the spring, then made for camp. It was very hot before we reached it, by 9 A. M. Tired indeed, but of the many excursions of the kind I have participated in, I never enjoyed one better.

But things had changed wonderfully while we were gone. Camp in an uproar. Before I entered the tent, a two-months’ furlough was thrust in my face, of one of our boys disapproved at Thomas’s headquarters, because it is said light artillery would soon be mustered out. This they thought was convincing evidence that we are homeward bound. Yesterday’s mail brought Keeler’s commission as second lieutenant, and before night he was mustered in. To-day he wears the straps in all his dignity, officer of the day. Can’t touch him with a ten foot pole. Quartermaster Sergeant Malish promoted to first sergeant, Hiram James quartermaster sergeant and M.. Dziewanowski reinstated as first gun sergeant. The latter gives much satisfaction. Lieutenant Waite and his remnant of the 3rd Wisconsin Battery reported here this morning to be consolidated on orders dated in May. Owing to recent orders Captain Simpson will not receive them. They have gone into “pup tents.”

Chattanooga, Wednesday, June 21. Griff, D. Evans and myself have contracted for a two days’ pass from Captain Simpson. I was excused from guard last night, and this morning 7 A. M., after morning drill, we started out on a bold pedestrian excursion to Lookout Mountain and Lula Lake. Two days’ rations of hard-tack and sugar and cup in haversack was all equipage taken along. The “King of Day” came down upon us in full force, but nothing daunted we scaled the point in its precipitous and direct route. Pantingly we reached the photograph gallery and rested. Seized with a sudden desire to carry off some memento of our excursion, we seated ourselves on the cliff and had ourselves taken, by the sun. Carried off our plate picture for $6.50, and on to Lula through Summer Town, and camp of the “Butterfly Brigade” who were all out drilling in their white gloves.

Our tramp along the summit of the mountain was a pleasant walk of about eight miles, slightly undulated and timbered with a stunted growth of oaks, with an occasional house and patch of corn. Here as everywhere, enterprising Uncle Sam has his saw mills, shingle machines, etc. But here abruptly amid rocky scenes, craggy cliffs, we came to a precipice, and beneath us was Lula Lake. A wooden flight of stairs led us down about forty-five feet and on a level with this lake, which was certainly a diminutive thing, but a thing of great loveliness in its wild beauty. My pen is altogether too tame to give an adequate description of this romantic mountain scenery. The lake consists of a circular basin about thirty yards in diameter hollowed out of the solid rock which rises forty to eighty feet around the wall carved by the skillful hand of nature. The water rushes in at the top, down in a cascade at an angle of forty-five degrees. The margin is solid rock. There lay a frail raft by the shore on which we each in our turn circumnavigated the lake, causing the swallows in the rocks to fly away in consternation at this abrupt entrance on their solitude. This spot seemed to have a sweet solitude, and I almost wished myself an Indian to live and die amidst such scenery.

Climbing the rocks on the south of the stream we worked our way down to the Lula Falls, several hundred yards below. We found the declivity thickly covered with a rich growth of laurel, and fine specimens of huckleberries, which were ripe and nice. We picked our cans full as we went. After climbing down a great many breakneck places we reached the foot of the falls which in beauty is equal, if not superior, to the Lake. It consists of a tiny stream falling from a shelf eighty feet high, perpendicularly dropping over solid rock. In its descent it is broken into a white sheet of spray. We slaked our thirst and mashed our berries in sugar, and ate our dinner with a keen relish. Before leaving, desiring to experience the sensation, we stripped and took a huge shower bath by placing ourselves under the spout. Found the sensation more romantic than pleasant. It fell too hard, but made us clean.

The water continued in an eastward direction, and we reasoned that by following it we would come out into Chattanooga Valley and off Lookout Mountain. For a distance of about two miles, we followed this rocky chasm. On either side towering cliffs reared their heads a hundred feet above us, while we clambered over massive piles of stone, jumping across crevices, crawled and slid, etc., making our locomotion in a very odd way, the creek half the time whirling unseen beneath the rocks. This was hard work, and our shirts were wringing with sweat, yet all enjoyed it, at least I did.

But by climbing a little raise we at last found ourselves in quiet Chattanooga Valley, ten miles from town, and about 4 P. M., seated ‘neath the trees, we picked blackberries. Made sauce for supper again, then walked leisurely toward camp. This valley is good land and well settled. We saw good fields of corn, etc. but little signs of war. The people are the same ignorant, illiterate class. These people seem to have no idea as to distances whatever, showing their general ignorance forcibly. A woman told us “it was a heap o’ distance” to Chattanooga; “A right smart ways” to dry valley; “A good chance” to the next house; “Only a bit” to the spring. As night drew on we felt our fatigue and we sought shelter. Asked one man for the privilege of lying down on his porch out of the dew, but he said he “never made a practice of keeping no one”, so we concluded to bivouac with a small squad of negro soldiers who were out logging. Having traveled at least fifteen miles we could rest anywhere.

Chattanooga, Tuesday, June 20. Drill early. Returned to get four letters, one from sister Jane, tugging bravely on amidst her sixty-four pupils. The next from Hannah, jubilant at the immediate prospect of relief from her confinement. Third from J. L. Bugs are threatening crops, too bad. Fourth, from Miss B. of Ohio, the “J” in her name converted to “Jones”. Judges I am a “literary gentleman”, declares she looks with more anxiety for my letters than any other, ha! ha! Keep calm, keep calm!

On duty drawing forage. Topic of the day, 20th Indiana Battery going home, guns and horses, etc. turned over. This is looked upon as an opening for the reserve, it being a ’62 organization, but it was sent for directly from the State. Other batteries cleaning up harness, etc.