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Francis Stewart Papers: Transcripts - MS 744
Sabbath January 1, 1865
Hail the dawn of the new year. May it prove a less bloody one thru the last and in it may this long and bitter war find an end.
This morning the division and baggage commanders have come to the river with a view to find a crossing but find the river too much swollen by the recent rains to be pontooned with wagons as we proposed we will have to build a bridge of trestle work. This afternoon the command moved up the river to commence the work of building a bridge which will supply two or three days. I with a detail of twenty men go foraging. After marching four or five miles I found a good little goat which I took possession of and will cook soon all night for the brigade. We have but three day government rations with us and they must last until we get to Huntsville. This will necessitate heavy foraging.
Monday January 2, 1865
I ran the mill all night last night and all day today. Will it my men rest tonight. I sent 60 bushels of meal to the brigade this afternoon. I am boarding and staying with the owner of the mill, Wm Legg. He has a very kind and pleasant family.
Tuesday January 3, 1865
This morning I sent forty bushels of meal to the brigade. Received orders to grind until 5 pm then join the command with what meal I may have that the brigade probably be across the river. I started at 3 pm in performance with orders with these wagons already loaded when we marched to the river five miles. Found the rear of the Corps train just crossing and the division gone to Athens, 11 miles further. I marched five miles after crossing the river. We then bivouacked for the night. The roads being very bad and having marched from the river after dark.
Wednesday January 4, 1865
Pulled out this morning at daylight and marched to Athens 6 miles, found the troops had left in the morning for Huntsville. Finding a train of cars about ready to run to Huntsville and my men tired and out of rations (except for meal). I ordered the teams to join the brigade that night wherever it may be and put my men on cars and ran down to Huntsville which we reached at 1 pm. Got rations and Quarters for my men. I am stopping at the Huntsville House. I wrote a letter to brother Don tonight. I am very tired and I need rest. The division will be here tomorrow.
Thursday January 5, 1865
Division came in this forenoon. After considerable delay a camp ground was found and situated five miles east of town and went into what I think will make a nice camp, close to a very large spring called Bird Springs. Perhaps so called from the almost innumerable number of birds which visit them and more specially wild ducks. The 1st and 2nd Division go into camp near town. we will in all probability remain here all winter.
Friday January 6, 1864
We laid out our camp this morning but it rained real hard all day that we could not do much toward building quarters. We will first have to get some lumber with which to build.
Saturday January 7, 1865
I got on my pack horse and rode out 5 miles to where an old cavalry camp had been and secured lumber. Pressed citizens teams into service and hauled in a fine lot. Also had brick hauled in for a chimney. Every team in the neighborhood for five miles around was then appropriated by someone. I neglected to state that I received a commission as capt on the 5th. Do not yet know in which company I will be mustered.
Sabbath January 8, 1865
Sunday, as it was I am as well as everybody else in camp - worked hard at my house, which I have nearly completed chimney. I and Capt Miles are building together, and this evening I initiated one house by writing a letter to sister Mary.
January 9, 10, 11, 12, 1865
Were spent very busy by all hands in completing quarters cleaning both person and camp, and all the little duties usually completed after coming into camp off a campaign. We have very comfortable quarters erected and if allowed to remain all winter will, I think have a very pleasant rest.
Friday January 13, 1865
I went to town this afternoon and was mustered in as Captain of Company A vice- Hartsongh mustered out, yet still the responsibility and command in Co K. Together with my new command, rather more work than one man ought to do.
Saturday January 14, 1865
This afternoon very unexpectedly the Regiment received orders to move to the depot in town with three days rations. Arriving at the depot we found the 59th Illinois and the 86th Indiana were there with the same orders. We all took cars under the command of Col. Drip, 86th Indiana and ran up to Boonesboro where we got off and bivouacked for the night. The rebel Gen Lyons has been up in Ky and Tenn on a raid, or was rather left behind when the enemy retreated from Nashville, and is now going to recross the Tennessee river with a command of 500 men. We have been sent out to intercept and if possible capture him.
Sabbath January 15, 1865
Starting this morning at 8 o'clock we marched to the north west 13 miles and bivouacked at New Market, having recruited a couple of citizen teams in the moving to haul our baggage. We hear nothing of Gen Lyons here, but find we are in a notorious guerrilla settlement and of course will try and capture some of the band which has a rendezvous a few miles west of this place. The boys need no command to forage from these people.
Monday January 16, 1865
We marched eight miles east and bivouacked on Hurricane Creek. A few days ago the guerrillas carried in old union man of 80 years from this place into the mountains and shot him for the crime of being loyal to his country. His friends found him yesterday and buried him today. I never saw the boys do so much foraging as they are doing, this evening honey and hams are in abundance in the camp. The people here are all good givers as well as good rebels, chickens, turkey, flour and everything good are plenty in camp now.
Tuesday January 17, 1865
Neither hearing anything of Gen Lyons or capturing a guerilla band, we started on our way to camp this morning marching to Brownsboro 10 miles then five miles down the railroad toward Huntsville and bivouacking for the night. I with my company was sent out foraging this morning. Keeping down the creek where most of the guerrillas live, I pressed a couple of teams and loaded them with nice hams and shoulders from the well filled meat houses. There are many things that are unpleasant as well as others that are very amusing and ludicrous connected with foraging of this kind. One old lady will protest against taking what she called all they have to live on (while perhaps nearly all is either buried or hid then she will get indignant and threaten eternal animosity against the U.S. Government in general and Yankees in particular) another has "taken no part with either side" her sons are in Mississippi or South Carolina (when I know them to be in the mountains with the guerrillas) then a fair haired damsel soon will come up to you and lay her hand on your arm and looking up into your face with the tears shining in her eyes will plead in the most bewitching manner "Oh Captain won't you save us and not let the soldiers take all we have got" and who could withhold the pleas of this bewitching fair one. I joined the command with my forage about one hour after dark where they were bivouacked eight miles from Huntsville.
Wednesday January 18, 1865
Starting this morning at eight o'clock we marched into camp twelve miles before dinner. Every man in the three regiments carrying in at least one ham or shoulder meat with him our secretaries and some other baggage which we left in store at Nashville came up today and we will now have plenty of work to do in bringing up company records. V.C. among other things brought for me a wall tent. I will now move down to my own Company A.
Thursday and Friday January 19, 20, 1865
Very pleasant here today. We have the cheering news of the surrender of Fort Fisher, S.C. to our forces with 1800 prisoners and seventy-two guns. Piece after piece of the confederacy is crumbling and falling off until soon the whole structure will yield to the process.
Saturday, Sunday, Monday, January 21, 22, 23, 1865
Very rainy and disagreeable. I am very busy at work hearing the news being received daily from all quarters of our country.
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, January 24, 25, 26, 1865
Has quit raining, weather is now dry and col. All quiet in camp.
Friday January 27, 1865
I am one of the officers of the brigade ___ guard. three officers are detailed for that purpose each day. I do not expect to spend a very pleasant night, tonight as it is quite cold and not very favorable for sleeping outdoors.
Saturday January 28, 1865
We returned from guard at 7 AM spent a sleepless night as had anticipated today has been devoted to general camp and cleaning of arms. In preparation for inspection tomorrow morning (Sunday Morning).
Sabbath January 29, 1865
We prepared for Sunday morning inspection at 9 AM by the Col. The remainder of the day which has ended, been a beautiful one, spent in resting and writing. It has been very quiet all day and to me seemed more like sabbath than any day has been spent for two months. Many rumors are afloat concerning proposed terms of peace. Arising from the recent errand of F.P. Blair to Richmond which many are inclined to believe suggest peace but I am skeptical that they are not yet conquered, and to believe President Lincoln will send any peace commission to the rebel capital. If they want peace let us obtain it in the proper manner and they will get it.
Monday January 30, 1865
Kept busy all day preparing pay rolls for Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec, 1864.
Tuesday January 31, 1865
In the morning made my monthly return for January then worked on my payrolls the division received orders very unexpectedly this afternoon to report to Eastpost, Ala. on the Tennessee river. We moved in the morning as the trains and baggage joined by rail via Nashville there to take the teams and artillery across the country. We regret very much to leave our comfortable quarters which we flattered ourselves we could enjoy this winter but we cannot gamble. It is a soldiers fortuity.
Wednesday February 1, 1865
Starting at 5 AM we marched to the depot, took cars at 9 AM for Nashville reached Stephenson, Ala at 2 PM. Stopped one hour reached the foot of the Cumberland mountains at dark where we were detained for an hour or so and spread out our blankets for bed in the cars.
Thursday February 2, 1865
By riding all night we reached Nashville at 11 AM no boats being ready we marched south on the Hillsboro Pike three miles to bivouac on the battle ground of December 15, 16, 1864
Saturday February 4, 1865
Capt Miles, Iler and myself remained in the city all night and attended the theater. We had a good time. Came to camp this morning in a carriage. No boats arrived yet to carry us down the river. The Ohio river is feared to be so blocked with ice near Cairo, Ill that the boats cannot move down. This has been a beautiful day.
Sabbath February 5, 1865
Weather colder and threatening rain. I wrote a letter today to father received one from M.L. We received orders this evening to take cars at noon tomorrow and return to our camp at Huntsville. It is to me a strange movement - we do not understand the object of the move, or of the change in the orders, but doubtless Gen Thomas understands it fully.
Monday February 6, 1865
Packed up and returned to the city at 12 noon but did not get aboard the cars until 5 PM owing to the slowness of the brigade which proceeds us. The weather is cold and threatens a storm. I do not anticipate a very pleasant ride tonight.
Tuesday February 7, 1865
After a very tedious and disagreeable ride of 27 hours we reached Huntsville at this PM. Marched four miles out of town to our camp to find many of the nice huts destroyed and all the material of which they were comprised carried off. There was a very little swearing done by those who are in the habit of giving vent to their indignation in that manner.
Wednesday February 8, 1865
This morning all went to work with a will (as it was cold) to recollect material and construct huts and comfortable quarters. Several days work out camp has very much resumed its original neat and comfortable appearance and many are even more comfortably sheltered than before we moved.
March 14, 1865
From the 8th until now all has been quiet in camp. The monotony of the general routine of duties were frequently broken by cheering news of Gen Sherman's triumphal march through North and South Carolina, on and with the rout or capture of the enemy wherever and whenever he made a stand. Affairs are rapidly approaching, as he is still holding to Richmond with an iron grasp. Gen Sherman is driving the flanks and threatening it in the rear. Eventually the final struggle is close at hand.
Today the 4th Corps commenced embarking on the cars for east Tennessee. in the morning the following order. The 1st Division troops in advance followed by the 3rd Division trains and artillery brigade and this by the 2nd Division followed by its trains. The 49th OHIO and the 4th Michigan will remain behind to guard the 3rd Division train and artillery brigade through. Our move to east Tenn is evidently to collect the nucleus of an army there that we may be able to resist any movement which the enemy attempt to move his army though those mountains passes - should he leave Richmond and retreat before Grant and Sherman such a move would be utter destruction to his army.
March 15, 16, 17, 1865
Were spent in embarking troops and trains, the 18th with three companies left Huntsville guarding the artillary through, and after a very tedious ride of 60 hours arrived with the brigade at New Market, East Tennessee. On the 20th having a fine rain Capt Miles came up with three more companies this evening.
March 21, 22. 23, 24, 25, 1865
Were spent quietly in camp. I have formed a few acquaintances since coming here. There is a greater proportion of union people here than in any part of the south in which we have seen. They are generally very juvenile and illiterate.
March 26, 1865
Col Barett joined the regiment with the remaining companies today. I received a letter from my much esteemed friend T.F. informing me that her health is failing very fast. This is indeed sad news to me. Poor girl consumption is eating up her vitals, yet she is resigned and cheerful hoping soon to be in the better world where sin and sorrow enter not. I wish very much that I could get a leave of absence to visit her before she dies.
March 27, 28, 1865
The 1st Division which was encamped at Strawberry Plains passed though yesterday and today bivouacked at Bulls Gap. We move in the morning, distance to Bulls Gap is 35 miles.
Wednesday March 29, 1865
The 3rd Division broke camp this morning at 7 o'clock. We marched fourteen miles in the direction of Bulls Gap and bivouacked for the night, not having done any marching for three months it made me pretty tired. I go on picket tonight. It bids fair to be a wet night.
Thursday March 30, 1865
It rained nearly all night last night, and of course was not very desirable time for picketing. We marched twelve miles today through rain and mud. It rained very hard until making the roads almost impassable. We bivouacked at Greenfield a small town on the railroad.
Friday March 31, 1865
We made a short march of eight miles and encamped at Bulls Gap where we expect to remain for a few days. It has cleared off and the wind is very high. It seems to suck through the gap as in a tunnel.
Saturday April 1, 1865
We remained quiet in camp all of today. I received a letter from Nellie. It bearing a date of March 24th informing that Tillie is very ill and cannot live but a few days at most. Which has made me feel very sad and lonely all day, yes sick at heart. I climbed to the top of the mountain in my solitude from which the surrounding country presents a grand and magnificent scenery. I find consolation alone in believing that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord, and can say with a confiding heart not my will but thine Oh Lord be done.
Sabbath April 2, 1865
Still in camp. Telegraphs received today show Gen Grant with the Potomac Army again in motion, which will bring about a general engagement around Richmond. Lee is in a precarious condition. Grant is watching him with an Eagle eye ready to pounce upon whenever a favorable opportunity is offered. Sherman is approaching from the south not only threatening an attack but to cut off all his communications with the country outside of Richmond, and dashing Sheridan has just made one of his most brilliant and important raids completely destroying the Lynchburg and Richmond Canal and the Gordensville R.R. Thus very much crippling his communications with the west and the Shennandoah Valley. Lee will soon be compelled to fight his way out or surrender. An attempt at the former will destroy his army, the latter will virtually end the war.
Monday April 3, 1865
Lieut Vail returned from the hospital last evening. Today I assisted him in making out his rolls for muster as a commissioned officer. The telegraphs report heavy fighting in the east. The enemy is being defeated and Grant has driven the enemy out of Petersburg capturing 12,000 prisoners along with artillery and other munitions of war, and will doubtless crowd him to the wall as last ditch.
This is the last entry.
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