Civil War News and Correspondence - 1865

From the Clinton Public
Submitted by Judy Simpson

March 23, 1865

Letter from the 107th.

HD. QTRS. 107th Ill. Vol.
Wilmington, N.C., Feb. 25, 1865

Col. J. J. Kelly:
My Dear Sir— Your favor of the 6th Jan. is received, and duly appreciated— for I can assure you that we all appreciate these little favors, and feel, while greedily devouring their contents, that though far from the home we love so dearly, we are not forgotten by our kind friends behind.

Since leaving Tenn., the old 107th has had many new scenes to excite the curiosity of her brave members, tho' few in number, who still rally round the old and tattered flag which floated so gracefully, and whose stars and stripes shone so brightly when we marched from Camp Butler, in 1862, to meet the excitement which was in reserve for us, but which was then closely screened by the veil of futurity.

Our passage from Eastport, Tenn. to Cincinnati, aboard the boats, was indeed quite pleasant, but from Cincinnati to Washington, aboard the cars, the men having no fires, and the cold being intense, of course they suffered some.

During our sojourn in Washington, which was about two weeks, we employed ourselves in "sight seeing," which, by the way, kept us busily engaged, as there is an extensive field for observation and abundant room for the curiosity seeker to satisfy himself. The public buildings in Washington are beautiful beyond description, though leaving them out, Washington is not a neatly built city.

We embarked from Alexandria, Va., Feb. 11th on board the steamship Cassandria, and during our passage down the Potomac, everything was lovely; the boys in high spirits, some even so full of their sport as to climb up the rope ladders, among the ship rigging. We were soon in the Chesapeake Bay, and about the time we arrived at Hampton Roads, the ship began to heave on the sea, and numbers of our boys, having satisfied their curiosities, were content to go below, as a kind of dizzy sensation was making their acquaintance. We arrived at Fort Monroe on the evening of the 12th. I can assure you that it did not take your humble servant long to make a thorough examination of this Fortress, the RipRaps and Sewell's Point— all so famous in this great American rebellion— when I was content to return to my state room, while the ship put to sea to encounter the rough waves of the Atlantic.

Off Cape Hatteras the sea was very rough, and I am very sure that if the sick call had been made just then in [the] 107th, there would have been the greatest number ever reported from our Reg. on the sick list. We arrived off Fort Fisher on the 14th, and passing around the "frying pan," were transferred to a tow boat, which passing over to New Inlet, landed us all alive— save one— on terre firma at Smithville, a town at the mouth of Cape Fear River.

My first introduction into North Carolina did not give me a very exalted opinion of the country nor its inhabitants; for soon after stepping on shore, I had occasion to walk into a street, if streets they may be termed, and seeing a pretty fair specimen of a "tar heel" of the female persuasion coming, I concluded to ask the name of the town that I was in. So putting on my most pleasing expression of countenance, and tipping my cap in the most graceful manner I could summon, I addressed the aforesaid "tar heel" with the inquiry "what is the name of this town?" Taking out of her mouth a quid of tobacco of enormous size, she politely replied, "d-d if I'll ever tell ye." This so shocked me that I have never since attempted to ask questions of North Carolina females.

On the night of the 14th, we encamped in Smithville, and amused ourselves with gathering Oysters and roasting them on the fire. I am of the opinion that the 107th enjoyed one of the most extensive oyster suppers they ever had served to them before. Contrary to all expectations, next morning we were ordered to be ready to move at 8 a.m. A call for the report of the effective force was hint enough to convince us that Mr. Schofield intended "going for them," and so he did, for sundown that evening found us within two miles of Fort Anderson.

At daylight next morning we moved and soon the skirmishers became engaged— but the enemy's skirmishers were easily driven back to their works. We moved to within a few hundred yards of the enemy's lines— and entrenched ourselves. While entrenching, we were subjected to a most terrible artillery fire; but that only made the boys work the harder, and soon we were safely entrenched.

Our Reg't had five men wounded— only one seriously. Roberts of Co. G had his leg shot off by a solid shot. Capt. Lowry was hit by a piece of shell in the side. He was not seriously hurt.

By a flank movement, made by the 3d p. of our corps, the enemy was forced to evacuate Fort Anderson on the night of the 16th. The fort mounted 12 heavy guns, all of which were left by the enemy in good condition.

We (23d Corps) operated on the west side of Cape Fear river, while the 24th Corps, under Gen. Terry, moved on the east side. The navy did splendid execution, bursting their 450-pound shells almost every time inside the Fort. The enemy could do but little with his guns in the Fort, for our gun-boats and mortars threw their shell so fast into them, they were unable to work their guns.

Having lost their river forts, the enemy was easily driven back, and on the night of the 21st they evacuated Wilmington, and we occupied it next day. There had been 6,000 of our prisoners here and were only taken away the day before we came in. Quite a number though succeeded in making their escape and have arrived within our lines. But the most terribly heart-rending sight I ever beheld was the condition of our poor fellow prisoners, too sick to be moved. Their looks and condition really beggars description. The hospital they were in was a large four story brick, and this was literally crowded to its utmost capacity with these poor emaciated forms which were once called human beings. I felt a horror creep all over me when I looked in through the open door. I was induced to enter. Oh, what a scene to behold in a civilized Christian land. Dirt, debris and vermin met your gaze when you looked upon the floor, and dead men, dying men, and raving maniacs lay before you when you glanced around that polluted room. One poor fellow had just died. His old ragged blanket, his tattered shirt, his hair and in fact his whole person was one living, moving mass of lice.

He had died of starvation and scurvy. His legs appeared to be filled as far as I could see with small white worms. And I was told by one who could talk, that that man had lain there while the worms were eating him for two weeks, and nothing was ever done for him.

They had not tasted meat since last fall, and lateroly[sic] their only diet was one pint of coarse corn meal a day, and that without salt. They were not allowed to wash their faces, and the dirt, black filthy dirt, so covered their faces that one would not for a moment suppose these poor mortals were ever white men. All have a wild stare, so piercing that I cannot bear to look at them. I tried to talk to some of them but their minds appeared to be wandering, and from these indications, I think if they got well, will never have their right minds again.

The citizens of this place did everything in their power to alleviate their sufferings, and when they would bring a basket filled with provisions to that den of starvation, the rebel officers and soldiers would stamp it under their feet. There are some reliable citizens here who tell this and in fact their statements are corroborated by our prisoners. We are doing everything in our power for them, but most are too far gone to be saved. The enemy I understand today are going to send into our lines all the prisoners of ours they have in this department, for it is either parole them or they starve to death, for they have not the wherewith to feed them. They will probably send in from 8,000 to 10,000. God grant they may. One steamer started up for a load today.

I suppose you want to know something about Wilmington. Its population is from 15,000 to 20,000, and like all other Southern towns is not very attractive, leaving out the beautiful evergreens, which add so greatly to the beauty of these towns. Most all the citizens remained here, and there was a general rejoicing on our arrival. There is decidedly a strong feeling here for the old Union, as they term it. I saw citizens cheer the stars and stripes lustily the day we entered the city. Nearly all who lived here and were soldiering in the department, have deserted and come in.

The most amusing thing is to see the darkies. They are in perfect ecstasies.

And I must say that I was surprised to see how these poor swamps, the plantations, negroes and all, seem to understand this thing. You need have no fears of the rebels ever arming them, for you never can get a nigger to shoot a Yankee in this war. In conversation with a rebel surgeon a day or two ago, he remarked that if they did arm 200,000 negroes, it was just that many soldiers for us.

Don't you think it time to "wind up" this short epistle? I do. So asking you to give my kindest regards to your family and all the fellows about Clinton, and not forgetting to remind them that the 107th is only a six months' regiment now, and will be up there one of these days, and will gladly accept any old clothes or cold victuals they may have to spare.

I remain your friend indeed.
T. J. Milholland.

July 27, 1865

Soldiers' Reception at Mt. Pleasant.

Mr. Editor:— On Saturday the 15th inst., though a day somewhat unpleasant on account of rain and mud, yet it was a day that will long be remembered by those in attendance as the occasion set to welcome home discharged soldiers, a dinner having been prepared for them and all who might attend. The arrangement was got up on the spur of the moment— but a few days notice was given— but as soon as the clouds gave signs of withholding rain on the day appointed, the trains of provisions began to come in from every quarter of the country, and when united with what the town had prepared, enough of the good things of life was on hand to have feasted two thousand people— children thrown in! Some hesitancy, at first existed, whether or not the dinner should be set on tables, on account of the still threatening appearance of heavy showers. But when the people of Mt. Pleasant and vicinity resolve to do anything, Providence will have to work harder against them than by slight showers, to keep them from accomplishing anything that they undertake. So the ladies, with gentlemen set apart for the purpose, went to work and placed the refreshments on the tables prepared in Gardner's Grove. A more rich, elegant and tasty display of good things was never before exhibited before our eyes and more palatable to the taste than were spread out in view; and we have on many occasions been present where costly dinners were prepared.

All soldiers present, with their families, were first escorted to the tables by the 107th Ill. Regimental band, and after the soldiers had participated, the tables were reloaded, when all who wished participated; after which, without a miracle, there were gathered up many baskets full. The soldiers then formed after the band and marched to a stand where they were formally received— the ladies and citizens forming around the stand with them. Below we give a part of the sentiments offered and responded to by inpiduals.

Soldier's Welcome— Officers and Soldiers, having put down the rebellion and being honorably discharged from the service, we welcome you home to peace once more. Music, Sweet Home, by the band. Response, by Sheriff List, of Monticello.

Our National Colors— Rebaptized in blood; may they ever wave over "the land of the free and the home of the brave." Music, Star Spangled Banner. Response by Wm. H. Taylor.

Secession— Caved in and played out by our "boys in blue"; should it ever again rise, Yankee spunk will again put it through. Music, Yankee Doodle. Response by Rev. S. Shin.

Our Country— When once reunited (war being a terrible peace measure), may she always settle all home affairs through the ballot box. Music. Response by Chaplain David White.

Disunion— Again played out; pardon should be granted to a penitent South, but such traitors as Jeff. Davis should meet a traitor's doom.

Gens. Grant and Sherman— The greatest Generals and heroes of the present or past; and with such armies as can be placed at their command, at roll call, foreign powers should beware how they undertake to place Kings on thrones upon the American Continent.

Abraham Lincoln— A martyr for his country— may he ever live in the affections of the American people.

Our Patriotic and Loyal Dead— who were either killed in battle or who died in their country's service, we will ever cherish them in our memory, and will see that they are handed down to posterity in written or monumental history.

The exercises of the day closed amidst cheers for the ladies who prepared the dinner and for the band which had made the exercises pass off so agreeably during the day.

L. Rathbun.

September 28, 1865

Bounties to the Early Volunteers.

A meeting composed of veteran soldiers who enlisted in 1861 and '62 was held in Bryan Hall Chicago on Saturday evening. The call was made for the purpose of forming an association similar to those now in existence in most of the principal Eastern cities, in order to secure the same bounty as those soldiers who enlisted at a later period, and to petition Congress to that effect.

Major Bridges, of Battery, said he came to greet his fellow soldiers and assist those who had a special claim on the generosity of the Government to receive their just dues.

He warned all soldiers not to sell their discharge papers, a custom now much in vogue, as these papers were more valuable to them than to anybody else.

The Chairman thought the soldiers ought to be proud of a paper showing their honorable discharge from the service of a country like ours; he hoped none of them would be obliged to resort to so suicidal a step. He had spoken to several Congressmen on the subject, and they thought that the claim of the veterans would be sustained.

The Committee on Resolutions submitted the following, which were unanimously adopted:

WHEREAS, We, the soldiers who enlisted in the early stage of the late war, and did not receive the large Government bounty, do assemble for mutual benefit, therefore,

Resolved, That we form an association to be composed of those honorably discharged from the United States service.

Resolved, That the name of the association shall be called the "Veteran Club of '61 and '62."

Resolved, That we petition Congress to give us the same bounties as granted to soldiers of '63, '64 and '65; and we request the Congressman-elect from this district to use his influence to further this object.

On motion, a committee of five was appointed to draw up a petition to be adopted at the next meeting, to present at the coming session of Congress.

November 16, 1865

Personal.—Charlie AUGHENBAUGH, now residing at Indianapolis, spent a day or two in town last week. In appearance, he has changed greatly since we saw him before; but it is for the better—though paler and thinner than formerly, he is in good health.

November 23, 1865

An Opportunity.—A young officer of our acquaintance, well-to-do in this world, and who is entirely out of temper with celibacy, desires the position of son-in-law in a respectable family, where his company and sparkling conversation will be considered an equivalent for his board and clothing. He wears the silver leaf, and he is eminently disposed to do the fair thing. All that is required is for the young lady to have a good figure—say forty thousand dollars. Enquire at a camp named in honor of a General well known in Illinois.