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

Robert M. Magill—Personal Reminiscences of a Confederate Soldier Boy, 39th Georgia Regiment of Infantry

February 5th.—Arrived at home very unexpectedly to all, about 9 P. M. after having marched nine days and over a distance of about two hundred miles.

The weather was freezing cold during our two-hundred mile homeward march. The shoes I had drawn from Confederate States Government were so short I could not bear my feet in them, and so pressed down the vamps and tying the quarters over the instep, my feet, with very thin socks, were exposed on top of the shoe vamps. Result, my big toes were so frozen that soon the nails came off.

Remained at home until the 7th. Reported at Tunnel Hill; was sent to Chattanooga. Brother J. H. Magill came and got us set at liberty, Brother Tom and myself, by our taking the Amnesty Oath. Brother J. H. bought us a nice suit of clothes each and gave us government contract to put cord wood on Eastern Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad at Chickamauga Junction. So we went to work for the Government, and continued until 1st of July, when the job played out, and we returned home. During this time all the Rebel armies had surrendered, and all was quiet. In July I made a visit to relatives in East Tennessee. Since that time I have been at home. While in the army I marched 3,320 miles; and travelled on railroad trains, 2,280 miles; total, 5,600 miles.

R. M. Magill

Saturday, 28th.—Marched in regular order along the big road. Passed near Lafayette, Alabama. 56th Georgia boys left us, and took their own ways home, being in a different direction. From this on I can’t remember dates but we got plenty to eat and had a jolly time, finding plenty of friends to help us on our way. One day about half-dozen young ladies came out and said they were glad to see us going home. Some of the older women shouted: “That’s the way we love to see you coming home, boys; wish they would all come home that way.” One nice-looking old lady said: “I wish I could see my old man coming.” Several places in Alabama, as we were marching on, half dozen women and children would come running and ask if peace was made. The first ones we told if it was we did not know it. Well, they said, we have heard it has. The next that asked us, we said we had heard that it was, but only a few miles back. They would take it as confirmation of what they had heard, and get almost into an ecstasy of joy. Poor things, perhaps, we ought not to have treated them so; but we had been bound down so long, we wanted a little fun.

We kept in Alabama, but near the line, until we crossed both Big and Little Talapoosa River. Came into the left of Cedar Town; passed through Cave Springs. Crossed Coosa River at Queen’s Ferry; same place Hood’s army crossed, twelve miles below Rome. We had dreaded Coosa River all the way, because we were afraid it would be the line between the contending armies and ferry boats destroyed and pickets along the river, but when we got near, we learned that ferry boat was running all right and no pickets. As we came to the river, a man by the name of Davis was coming over in the ferry boat. He told the ferry man he ought to set us over free, as we were soldiers. The ferryman replied: “You pay half and I will give half.” The fare was $l0.00. The man was caught at his own game, and handed him $5.00, and so we passed over free, and gave three cheers for Davis—not Jeff, mind you. The boys of Companies H and E and also W. A. Keys, left us here, leaving only seven of us. Came on by Ecles’ Mill, in sight of Subligna and struck Taylor’s Ridge some distance south of Shipp’s Gap. After passing Shipp’s Gap, we decided we had better not carry our guns farther, for fear we run upon some Yankee soldiers, and they might treat us as bushwhackers. So we hid our guns in the cleft of a rock on top of Taylor’s Ridge. Travelled Taylor’s Ridge to Nickajack Gap; there turned eastward and came to Dixie’s Ridge, near James Wright’s.

Friday, 27th.—About 8 A. M., we were on train and started for Columbus, Ga. We had set Opelika as the place we would leave the train for home. There was no secret about it. It was the general talk, and at least half said they were coming. We talked to our officers, and some of them would have come had they not been officers. Reuben Harris had a new pair of shoes. The lieutenant in command said, “Reub, you are going home, where you can get more shoes; please give me these; I need them.” And he did and bade him good-bye. Train stalled about mile below Opelika, and as we were considering whether we had best not get off then, some of Company H came by, and that decided us; so we got off. Just then the train moved off, and we counted noses and had twenty-four— eight of Company F, eleven of Company H, one of Company E and four of 56th Georgia. We took the direction as best we could, and marched seven miles, and laid down and rested without any fires.

Thursday, 26th.—We arrived at Selma some time after dark; marched to the steamboat that was in readiness for us, and got aboard. The weather was bitterly cold, but there being hospital stores and wood aboard, we soon had fires, but were ordered to put them out, which we did, but some of us soon had them burning again. We had begun to feel somewhat independent. At Montgomery we were marched out into a place that had been muddy and tramped, and had frozen solid in that condition, and told we would remain there until morning, and not a stick of wood any where; but said some would be hauled soon as could. After a while about a dozen drays came, with about as much on each one as four men could carry. Not a fifth of the men got a stick of it. We decided to have some wood or tear down a house. Soon we found an engine with some in the tender. When one of the boys began throwing it out, some fellow ordered him to quit; said he would have him arrested if he did not; that he was compelled to have that wood to heat up his engine in the morning. We told him we thought we needed heating up just then worse than his old engine would in the morning, and so we took the wood, and made us a fire, and did fairly well until day-light.

Wednesday, 25th.—Got about twelve miles by day-light; don’t run at all hardly. (Thus abruptly ended my memorandum.) Some of us had decided that to fight and kill men under the present conditions would simply be murder, and that we would have no further part in it, and determined to go home, and this is why my memorandum ended abruptly. So the remainder was written from memory later.

Tuesday, 24th.—Left Meridian at 1 P. M.; at Tombigbee River, 7 P. M. Went on steamboat four miles to Demopolis. Took the train for Selma.

Sunday, 22d.—Left Tupelo at day-light; ran very slowly. Stalled, and we had to walk half-mile.

Monday, 16th.—Ordered to drill, but regiment at first refused; but finally, at the request of company officers, and for their sakes, drilled a little. There will be trouble if asked to drill much when so nearly worn out.

Wednesday, 28th.—Passed through Tuscumbia. The next few days we were marching on, passing through Cherokee station, Barton’s station, Price and Vandorn’s fortifications, Iuka battleground, and on to Burnsville, Miss. Very cold; and so ended 1864.


Alas, how many since thou begun,

Have finished all, their races run;

Their bodies lie beneath the sod,

Their spirits gone to meet their God;

Many doomed to eternal woe,

To mourn their loss in flames below;


 But many, Oh, how blest,

 Will sing praise through eternity.

 O God of heaven, our truest Friend,

 Make us to Thee in suppliance bend,

 That we in heaven, in joyful lays,

 May sing our Great Redeemer’s praise.

Tuesday, 27th.—Gunboat came up above Florence to try to break pontoon bridge, but batteries soon made it withdraw without doing any damage.