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THE SIEGE OF CINCINNATI.
After the unfortunate battle of Richmond, on the 29th of August, Kirby SMITH, with his 15,000 rebel veterans, advancing into the heart of Kentucky, took possession of Lexington, Frankfort, and Maysville. BRAGG with his large army was then crossing the Kentucky line; while Morgan, with his guerilla cavalry, was already joined to Smith. Ponderous-proportioned Humphrey Marshall was
General Lewis WALLACE was at once placed in command at Cincinnati, by order of Major-General WRIGHT. Soon as he arrived in the city, on Thursday, the 4th of September, he put Cincinnati and the two cities on the Kentucky side of the Ohio, Newport and Covington, under martial law, and, within an hour of his arrival, he issued a proclamation suspending all business, stopping the ferry-boats from plying the river, and summoning all citizens to enroll themselves for defense. It was most effective. It totally closed business, and sent every citizen without distinction, to the ranks or into the trenches. Nor was it needless, for the enemy, within a few days thereafter, advanced to within five miles of the city, on the Kentucky side and skirmished with our outposts. Buchanan READ, the poet, painter of the time, draws this picture of the events. READ was a volunteer aid to General WALLACE.
The ten days ensuing will be forever memorable in the annals of the city of Cin-cinnati. The cheerful alacrity with which the people rose en masse to swell the ranks and crowd into the trenches was a sight worth seeing. Of course, there were a few timid creatures who feared to obey the summons. Sudden illness overtook some. Others were hunted up by armed men with fixed bayonets ferreted from back kitchens, garrets and cellars, closets and even under beds where they were hiding. One peacefully excited individual was found in his wife’s clothes scrubbing at the wash-tub. He was put in one of the German working parties, who re-ceived him with shouts of laughter.
The citizens thus collected were the repre-sentatives of all classes and many nativities. The man of money, the man of law, the mer-chant, the artist, and the artisan swelled the lines, hastening to the scene of action, armed either with musket, pick, or spade.
But the pleasantest and most picturesque sight of those remarkable days was the almost endless stream of sturdy men who rushed to the rescue from the rural districts of Ohio and Indiana. These were known as the squirrel-hunters. They came in files, numbering thousands upon thousands, in all kinds of costumes, and armed with all kinds of firearms, but chiefly the deadly rifle, which they knew so well how to use.
Old men, middle-aged men, and often mere boys, like the “minute men” of the old Revolution they dropped all their peculiar avocations, and with their leathern pouches full of bullets, and their ox-horns full of powder, by every railroad and by-way, in such numbers that it seemed as if the whole State of Ohio were peopled only with hunters, and that the spirit of Daniel Boone stood upon the bills opposite the town beckoning them into Kentucky.
The pontoon bridge over the Ohio, which had been begun and completed between sun-down and sundown. groaned day and night with the perpetual stream of life, all setting southward. In three days there were ten miles of entrenchments lining the Kentucky hills, making a semicircle from the river above the city to the banks of the river below and these were thickly manned, from end to end, and made terrible to the astonished enemy by black and frowning cannon.
General HEATH, with his 12,000 veterans, flushed with their late success at Richmond, drew up before these formidable preparations and deemed it prudent to take the matter into serious consideration, before making the attack.
Our men were eagerly awaiting their approach, thousands in rifle parts, and tens of thousands along the whole line of fortifica-tions, while our scouts and pickets were skirmishing with their outposts in the plains in front. Should the foe make a sudden dash and carry any point of our lines, it was thought by some that nothing would prevent them from entering Cincinnati.
But for this provision was also made. The city above and below was well protected by a flotilla of gunboats, improvised from the swarm of steamers which lay at the wharves. The shrewd leaders of the rebel army were probably kept well posted by traitors within our own lines, in regard to the reception pre-pared for them, and taking advantage of the darkness of night and the violence of a thunder storm made a hasty and ruinous retreat. WALLACE was anxious to follow, and, was confident of success, but was overruled by those higher in authority.
To the above general view of the Siege we contribute our individual experience. Such an experience of the entire war in a diary by a citizen of the genius of DEFOE, would outlive a hundred common histories; centuries hence be preserved among the choice collections of American historic literature. It would illustrate as nothing else could, the inner life of our people in this momentous period, their varying emotions and sentiments; their surprise and indignation at the treason to the beautiful country of their love; their never-equaled patriotism and generosity;
their unquenchable hope; the almost despair that at times settled
them, when all seemed but lost, through the timidity and irresolution
weak generals in the field; the intrigues and intended treachery of
at home. Then the groping forward, like children in the dark, of
of loyal hearts for some mighty arm to guide; some mighty intellect to
reveal and thus relieve the awful suspense as to the future; as though
any mere man had an attribute that alone is of God. Finally, through
agony of sore adversities, came the looking upward to the only power
could help. Thus the religious instincts became deepened. Visions of
higher life dwarfed the large things of this; and through faith came
blessings than the wisest among good had hoped.
On the morning the city was put under martial law, I found the streets full of armed police in army blue, and all, without respect to age, compelled to report at the head-quarters of their respective districts for enrol-ment. An unwilling citizen, seeing the bayonet leveled at him, could but yield to the inexorable logic of military despotism. It was perilous to walk the streets without a pass. At every corner stood a sentinel.
The colored men were roughly handled by the Irish police. From hotels and barber shops, in the midst of their labors, these helpless people were pounced on and often bareheaded and in shirtsleeves, as seized driven in squads, at the point of the bayonet, and gathered in vacant yards and guarded. What rendered this act more than ordinarily atrocious was that they, through their head men, had, at the first alarm, been the earliest to volunteer their services to our mayor, for the defense of our common homes. It was a sad sight to see human treated like reptiles.
Enrolled in companies we were daily drilled. One of these in our ward was com-posed of old men, termed “Silver Grays.” Among its members were the venerable Judge LEAVITT, of the United States Supreme Court, and other eminent citizens. Grand-fathers were seen practicing the manual, and lifting alternate feet to the cadence of mark--time.
At this stage of affairs the idea that our colored citizens possessed war-like qualities was a subject for scoffing; the scoffers forget-ting that the race in ancestral Africa, includ-ing even the women, had been in war since the days of Ham; strangely oblivious also to the fact that our foreign-born city police could only by furious onslaughts, made with Hibernian love of the thing, quell the frequent pugnacious outbreaks of the crispy-haired denisons of our own Bucktown. From this view, or more probably a delicate sentiment of tenderness, instead of being armed and sent forth to the dangers of battle, they were consolidated into a peaceful brigade of workers in the trenches back of Newport, under the philanthropic guidance of the Hon. William DICKSON.
The daily morning march of the corps down Broadway to labor was a species of the mottled picturesque. At their head was the stalwart, manly form of the landlord of the Dumas house, Colonel HARLAN. Starting back on the honest, substantial, coal-black foundation, all shades of color were exhibited, degenerating out through successive gradations to an ashy white; the index of Anglo-Saxon fatherhood of the chivalrous American type. Arrayed for dirt-work in their oldest clothes; apparently the fags of every con-ceivable kind of cast-off, kicked-about, and faded-out garments; crownless and lop-eared hats, diverse boots; with shouldered pick, shovel, and hoe; this merry, chattering, pie-bald, grotesque body, shuffled along amid grins and jeers, reminding us of the ancient nursery distich:
“Hark! hark! hear the dogs bark,
The beggars are coming to town,
Some in rags, some in tags,
And some in velvet gowns.”
Tuesday night, September 9, 1862, was starlight; the air soft and balmy. With others I was on guard at an improvised armory, the old American Express buildings, on Third street near Broadway. Three hours past midnight from a signal tower three blocks east of us a rocket suddenly shot high in the air; then the fire-bell pealed an alarm. All was again quiet. Half an hour passed. Hurrying footsteps neared us. They were those of the indefatigable, public-spirited John D. CALDWELL. “Kirby SMITH,” said he quickly, “is advancing on the city. The military are to muster on the landing and cross the river at sunrise.”
Six o’clock struck as I entered my own door to make preparations for my departure. The good woman was up. The four little in-nocents—two of a kind—were asleep in the bliss of ignorance, happy in quiet slumber. A few moments of hurried preparation and I was ready for the campaign. The provisions were these: a heavy blanket-shawl, a few good cigars, a haversack loaded with eatables, and a black bottle of medicinal liquid—cherry bounce—very choice.
As I stepped out on the pavement my neighbor did the same. He, too, was off for the war. At each of our adjoining chamber-windows stood a solitary female. Neither could see the other though not ten feet apart, a house dividing wall intervening. Sadness and merriment were personified. Tears be-dewed and apprehension elongated the face of the one. Laughter dimpled and shortened the face of the other. The one thought of
We joined our regiment at the landing. This expanse of acres was crowded with armed citizens in companies and regiments. Two or three of our frail, egg-shell river steamers, converted into gun-boats were receiving from drays bales of hay for bulwarks. The pontoon was a moving panorama of newly made warriors, and wagons of munitions hastening southward. Back of the plain of Covington and Newport rose the softly rounded hills beyond these were our bloodthirsty foe. Our officers tried to maneuver our regiment. They were too ignorant to maneuver themselves; it was like handling a rope of sand. But in my absence they had somehow managed to get that long line of men arranged into platoons. Then as I took my place the drums beat tubs squeaked, and we crossed the pontoon. The people of Covington filled their doorways and windows to gaze at the passing pageant. To my fancy they looked scowling. No cheers, no smiles greeted us. It was a staring silence. The rebel army had been largely recruited from the town.
March ! march! March! We struck the hills. The way up seemed interminable. The boiling September sun poured upon us like a furnace. The road was as an ash heap. Clouds of limestone dust whitened us like millers, filling our nostrils and throats with impalpable powder. The cry went up, Water! water! Little or none was to be had. The unusual excitement and exertion told upon me. Years before, I had, beating my knapsack, performed pedestrian tours of thousands of miles. Had twice walked across New York, once from the Hudson to the lake; in the hottest of summer had footed it from Richmond to Lynchburg. No forty or fifty miles a day had ever wilted me like this march of only four. But my muscles had been relaxed by years of con-tinuous office labor. I had been on my feet guard-duty all night.
Near the top of the hills, some 500 feet above the Ohio level, our regiment halted, when our officers galloped ahead. We broke ranks and lay down under the wayside fence. Five minutes elapsed. Back cantered the cortege. “Fall into line! fall into line! Quick, men!” was the cry. They rode among us. Our colonel exclaimed, “You are now going into battle the enemy are advancing! You will receive sixty rounds of cartridges! Do your duty men, do your duty” I fancied it a ruse to test our courage, and so experienced a sense of shame.
I looked upon the men around me. Not a word was spoken; not one smiled. No visible emotion of any kind appeared, only weary faces, dirty, sweaty, and blowsy with the burning heat.
I dropped my cartridges into my haver-sack along with my food. Our captain, in his musical, pleasant voice, gave us instruc-tions, though he had never studied war.
“Gentlemen! these cartridges are peculiar; you put the ball in first and the powder on top!” Some one whispered in his ear. “Gentlemen,’’ he again exclaimed, with a significant scowl and shake of his head, “I was mistaken; you must put the powder in first, and the ball on top!” We did so. We had elected Billy captain, for he was genial and of a good family.
We again shuffled upward. Suddenly as the drawing of a curtain, a fine, open, rolling country with undulating ravines burst upon us. Two or three farm mansions with half concealing foliage and cornfields appeared in the distance; beyond, a mile away, the fringed line of a forest; above, a cloudless sky and a noon-day sun. The road we were on penetrated these woods. In these were concealed the unknown thousands of our war-experienced foe.
On the summit, of the hills we had so laboriously gained, defending the approach by the road ran our line of earth-works. On our right was Fort Mitchell; to our left, for hundreds of yards, rifle-pits. The fort and pits were filled with armed citizens, and a regiment or two of green soldiers in their new suits. Vociferous cheers greeted our appearing. “how are you, H.? “struck my attention. It was the cheerful voice of a tall, slender gentleman in glasses, who did my legal business, John W. HERRON.
Turning off to the left into the fields in front of these, and away beyond, we halted an hour or so in line of battle, the nearest regi-ment to the enemy. We waited in expectation of an attack, too exhausted to fight, or, perhaps, even to run. Thence we moved back into an orchard, behind a rail-fence, on rather low ground; our left, and the extreme left of all our forces, resting on a faint-house. Our pioneers went to work strengthening our permanent position, cutting down brush and small trees, and piling them, against the fence. Here, we were in plain view, a mile in front, of the ominous forest. When night came on, in caution, our camp-fires were ex-tinguished. We slept on hay in the open air, with our loaded muskets by our sides, and our guards and pickets doubled.
At 4 o’clock reveille sounded and we were up in line. I then enjoyed what I had not before seen in years--the first coming on of morning in the country. Most of the day we were in line of battle behind the fence. Regiments to the right of us, and more in the rifle-pits farther on, and beyond, it seemed a mile to the right, the artillerists in Fort Mitchell—all those on hills above us also stood waiting for the enemy. Constant picket firing was going on in front. The rebels were feeling our lines. Pop! pop! pop! one——two—three, then half a dozen in quick succession, followed by a lull with
intervals of three or four minutes, broken perhaps by solitary. Again continuous pops, like a feu-de-jone , with another lull, and so on through the long hours. Some of our men were wounded, and others, it was reported, killed. With the naked eye we caught occasional glimpses of the skirmishers in a cornfield near the woods. With a glass a man by my side said be saw the butter-nut-colored garments of the foe.
Toward evening a furious thunder-storm drove us to our tents of blankets and brush-wood bowers. It wet us through and de-stroyed the cartridges in our cotton haver-sacks. Just as the storm was closing, a tremendous fusillade on our right, and the cries of our officers, “The enemy are upon us; turn out! Turn out!’’ brought us to the fence again. The rebels, we thought had surprised us and would be dashing down in a moment with their cavalry through the orchard in our rear. Several of our companies fired off their muskets in that direc-tion, and to the manifest danger of a line of our own sentinels. It was a false alarm and, arose in the 110th Ohio, camped on the hill to our right.
You may ask what my sensations were as I thus stood,
to the fence, with uplifted musket in expectant attitude? To be honest,
my teeth chattered uncontrollably. I never boasted of courage. Drenched
to the marrow by the cold rain, I was shivering before the alarm, and
I reasoned in this way—” Our men are all raw, our officers in the same
doughy condition. We are armed with the old, con-demned Belgian rifle.
Not one in ten can be discharged. All my reading in history has ground
the fact into me, that militia, situated like us, are worthless when
by veterans. An hundred experienced cavalry-men dashing down with drawn
sabres, revolv-ers and secesh yells will scatter us in a twinkling.
the others run, and I know they will, I won’t. I’ll drop beside this
simulate death, and open an eye to the culminating circumstances.” I
not aching for a fight. Ambitious youths going in on their muscles,
are apt to come out on their backs.
Unlike Norvel, I could not say:
“I had heard of battles and longed
To follow to the field some warlike chap.”
When at school I never fought excepting when my pugnacity was aroused on seeing large boys tyrannize over small ones. I never slew anything larger than a cat, which had scratched me, and at this, as soon as done, I child-like, as child I was, repenting, sat down and cried. I am soft-hearted as my uncle Toby with the fly—“Go, poor devil! The world is large enough for both you and me.” To pit my valuable life against one of these low Southern whites—half animals, fierce as hyenas, degraded as serfs—appeared a mani-fest incongruity. It never seemed so plain before. It was tackling the beast in the only point where he was strong.
Some things were revealed to me by this soldier life. The alarming rumors current. The restraints upon one’s liberty, imprisoned within the lines of the regiment. The sensa-tion of being ordered around by small men in high places, and not admirable in any. The waste of war, piles of bread, water-soaked by rain into worthless pulp. The vacuity of mind from the want of business for continuous thought. The picturesque attitudes of scores of men sleeping on heaps of straw; seen by the uncertain light of night. The importance of an officer’s horse beyond that of a common soldier, shown by the refusal of hay on which to sleep on the night of our arrival, because the colonel’s beast wanted it. Didn’t our good mother earth furnish a bed?
In our company were three of us—William J. FLAGG, Samuel DAVIS and myself, not relatives in any way—who, in a New England city distant nearly a thousand miles, had, over thirty years before, been school-mates. It illustrated a peculiar phase of American habits. We had some odd characters. Our fifer, a short, spare-built, wan-faced man, had been in the British army—had seen ser-vice in Afghanistan the other side of the globe. Another, a German lieutenant, had experience of war in our country—was at Shiloh. He was imaginative. I talked with him in the night. To my query of the prob-ability of a night attack, he replied, Yes, the secesh always attack in that way.’’ Past midnight as he was going the rounds of the pickets as officer of the guard, he said he saw crouching in the shadow of a ravine a large body of rebels. He ran to headquarters and aroused our colonel and staff, but when they arrived at the seeing point, lo! the foe had vanished. A fat, gray-headed captain with protuberant abdomen came to me soon after our arrival and with an impressive countenance discoursed of the perils of our position. In this I quite agreed with him. Then putting his hand to his stomach and giving his head a turn to one side, after the usual manner of invalids in detailing their woes he uttered in lugubrious tones—” I am very sick; the march over has been too much for me; I feel a severe attack of my old complaint, cholera morbus coming on.’’ After this I missed him. He bad got a permit from the surgeon and returned home to be nursed. Our medical man, Dr. DANDRIDGE, was old Virginia Born; and I had, notwithstanding his generous qualities, suspected him of secesh sympathies. I wish to be charitable, but I must say this confirmed my suspicion it was evident he wished to get the fighting men out of the way!
Saturday afternoon, the 13th, we began our return march. The militia were no longer needed, for the rebels had fallen back, and thousands of regular soldiers had been pour-ing into the city and spreading over the hills. Our return was an ovation. The landing was black with men, women and children. We recrossed the pontoon amid cheers and the boom of cannon. Here, on the safe side
on the river, the sick captain, now recovered, joined his regiment. With freshly shaven face, spotless collar and bright uniform, he appeared like a bandbox soldier among dust-covered warriors. Escaping our perils, he shared our glories, as, with drawn sword, be strutted through street after street amid cheers of the multitude, smiles of admiring women, and waving of ‘kerchiefs. Weary and dirt-begrimed, we were, in a tedious, circuitous march, duly shown off by our offi-cers to all their lady acquaintances, until night came to our relict, kindly covered us with her mantle, and stopped the tomfoolery. The lambs led forth to slaughter thus returned safely to their folds, because the butcher hadn’t come.
It is now known that Kirby SMITH was never ordered to attack Cincinnati, but only to demonstrate; and about this very time the advance of BUELL seemed to Bragg so menacing that he made haste to order SMITH back to his support. The force that approached so near the city at no time comprised 12,000 men and were under the immediate command of General HEATH. In speaking of this event after the war, Kirby SMITH said that at one time he could “have very- easily entered Cincinnati with his troops, but all h--ll could not have got them out again.
Morgan’s raid in July of the next year was the next event to arouse an excitement in the city. He came within a few miles and slipped around it in the night. The details of the raid are given elsewhere. After the battle of Buffington Island the prisoners, amounting to about 700 men, were brought to the city in steamers. The privates were sent from here to Indianapolis. The officers, about 70 in number, were landed at the foot of Main street from the steamer Starlight, and marched up the street under a strong guard to the city prison on Ninth street. The people had regarded them in the light of horse-thieves, and greatly rejoicing at their capture, as they passed along, in places expressed their contempt by howls and cat-cries. No other bodies of prisoners brought to the city during the war were otherwise than respectfully received. Indeed the only word of disre-spect we heard towards any of them came from a little boy and of our own family. It was early morning when in our residence on East Fifth street, near Pike, we were attracted by sounds in the street. Rushing to the door our eyes were greeted by the sight of a body of say 200 unarmed men dressed in gray, with about a third of their number in blue on each side with muskets in hand, and the whole mass were on a run in the middle of the street hurrying to the depot of the Little Miami Railroad en route for Camp Chase. At this sight the little one at my side called out, “Rebel traitors—rebel traitors! “ Curious to know the effect of so much war time education he was receiving had upon the same young mind we about then inquired: “Would you like to be a soldier?” “No, sir; not one of the kind that go to war.” “Why not?” “Because, I should expect to get killed.”
Morgan and a number of his officers were confined in the State Prison at Columbus, from whence the great raider made his escape on the night of the 27th of November. The following particulars of the flight were detailed in a Rich-mond paper:
“It had been previously determined that, on reaching the outer walls, the parties should separate, MORGAN and HINES together, and the others to shape their course for them-selves. Thus they parted. HINES and the General proceeded at once to the depot to purchase their tickets for Cincinnati. But, lo! where was the money? The inventive HINES had only to touch the magical wand of his ingenuity to be supplied. While in prison he had taken the precaution, after planning his escape, to write to a lady friend in a peculiar cypher, which when handed to the authorities, to read through openly, con-tained nothing contraband, but which, on the young lady receiving, she, according to in-structions, sent him some books, in the back of one of which she concealed some “green-backs,” and across the inside wrote her name to indicate the place where the money was deposited. The books came safe to hand, and HINES was flush. Going boldly up to
the ticket office, while Morgan modestly stood back and adjusted a pair of green goggles over his eyes, which one of the men, having weak eyes, had worn in prison.
They took their seats in the cars without suspicion. How their hearts beat until the locomotive whistled to start! Slowly the wheels turn, and they are off. The cars were due in Cincinnati at 7 o’clock A.M. At Xenia they were detained one hour. What keen anguish of suspense did they not suffer! They knew at 5 o’clock A.M. the con-victs would be called, and that their escape would then be discovered, when it would be telegraphed in every direction; consequently the guards would be ready to greet them on their arrival. They were rapidly nearing the city of abolition hogdom. It was a cool, rainy morning. Just as the train entered the suburbs, about half a mile from the depot, the escaped prisoners went out on the platform and put on the brakes, checking the cars sufficiently to let them jump off. HINES jumped off first, and fell, considerably stunned. MORGAN followed, unhurt. They immediately made for the river. Here they found a boy with a skiff, who had just ferried across some ladies from the Kentucky side. They dared not turn their heads for fear of seeing the guards coming. “HINES,” whispered the General, “look and see if anybody is coming.” The boy was told they wanted to cross, but he desired to wait for more passengers. The General told him he was in a hurry, and promised to pay double fare. The skiff shot out into the stream—they soon reached the Kentucky shore, and breathed—free.”
THE CINCINNATI NEWSPAPERS IN THE WAR TIMES.
The press of the city sprang into an importance never before experienced. Extras were being continually issued, and the newsboys persistent everywhere filled the air with their cries, “all about the battle.” Not only in the city, but the carriers penetrated to the armies in front to sell their wares. Colonel Crafts WRIGHT, in writing a description for the Gazette of the battle of Fort Donaldson, said, “Sunday morning we were ordered to advance on the trenches of the enemy. While standing there a new cry was heard—a carrier came along crying, ‘Cin-cinnati Commercial, Gazette and Times,’ and as I sat upon my horse, bought them and read the news from home, and this too within an hour after the fort had sur-rendered.”
The colonel had been a room-mate and class-mate with Jefferson DAVIS, and through life remained a personal friend, though not agreeing in politics; this was not to be expected from one of the proprietors of the Cincinnati Gazette.
The press had correspondents everywhere, and these were untiring in gathering the news from the “front.” In the early stages of the war every skirmish was published and magnified, and little minor matters detailed that later on were not noticed, as anecdotes of individual heroism, descriptions of the appearance of the dead and wounded, illustrating the savagery of war.
The city being so close upon the border found its business in diverting its industries to prosecution of the war. After a short period of stagnation there were but few idle people, and when it was seen that the war had come to stay, there was no scarcity of money and the entire community were prospering. Among the peculiar industries of the time was the putting up of stationery in large en-velopes called “paper packages.” The amount of letter-writing between the soldiers and their friends at home was enormous. These packages were peddled everywhere, alike in town, country and camps, at a cost of about a dime each, and consisted of envelopes, paper, pencil, pens, holder and ink; most of the station-ery was miserable. Soldiers’ letters went postage free.
The city was often alive with troops through the war period. Regiments came from every State. At first they were looked upon with interest and pride. Fa-miliarity changed this. Then came sad scenes. One was the bringing in of the wounded from the battle-fields. After Donaldson and Shiloh the physicians and nurses, notably the Sisters of Charity, went down from the city and large numbers were brought here by boat and taken to the hospitals in ambulances. Just at the edge of a winter’s evening we saw a line of ambulances filled with the sufferers. They had stopped before an improvised hospital, that had been a business building on Fourth street, near Main, and were being carried in on stretchers or in the arms of others. Among them were some wounded prisoners, who received equally good
treatment with the others. On the bloody field of Moskwa, Napoleon, as he stooped over the Russian wounded and ordered relief, said, “After battle we are no longer enemies.”
We asked one of the medical men, a personal friend, Dr. George MENDENHALL, President of the Sanitary Commission, who had come up the river with them from Donaldson, if he had, while ministering to their wounds, talked with them. “No,” said that good man, “I felt so indignant when I reflected what a miserable business they had engaged in that I had no stomach for social intercourse.” Personally, we think it instructive to get at the bottom thought of all sorts of people in religion, business, political, and war—and even in wedlock, which, alas, often results in the same. It often teaches charity for what is wrong-doing. In a deserted rebel camp, Laurel Hill, Western Virginia, was found “a love letter,” in which was expressed the bottom thought of at least one poor secessionist: “I sa agen dear Milindy, weer fitin for our liberties to do gest as we pleas, and we will fit for them so long as GODDLEMITY gives us breth.”
The hospitals were sacred places to the ladies of the city who were
alive in ministering to the wants of the soldier boys; and to the
they seemed suffering and often ennobling, as they often found among
most humble of these men the choicest of spirits, the most noble of
and could but feel as they saw them sinking away into their last sleep,
it would be to awake again ethereal brightness to be appreciated in the
A Soldier’s Funeral awakens different emotions from that of any other. If he be an officer high in rank the pageant can be so affecting as the funeral procession. Cincin-nati had several such. One was that of William H. LYTLE, the poet soldier killed at Chickamauga, and was most imposing. The entire city seemed anxious to pay their last tribute to the illustrious dead. The houses were draped in mourning, the bells tolled, and the flags hung at half-mast. The procession passed through Fourth street a long line of military with reversed arms moved slowly and solemnly along, the band playing a dirge. The horse of the General, according to military custom, was led by a military servant, with a pair of cavalry boots hanging from the empty saddle. On each side of the sarcophagus marched a guard of honor, officers high in rank and attired in their full parade uniforms tall, showy, splendid-looking men. It was evening when they reached Spring Grove, the moon silver-ing that repository of the dead as they entered imposing gateway.
Regiments Returning from service in the field often looked war-worn and in ragged condition. After the Union defeat at Richmond we saw two Indiana regiments which had surrendered and the men then paroled, marching through Third street en route for Indianapolis. They had left that city only a few weeks before, newly formed troops and had passed through ours for Kentucky, in high spirits and excellent condition. On their return they were in a deplorable state, ragged, dirty with the dust of the roads, and many of them bare-footed. The enemy must have largely robbed them of their clothing and shoes. The city at the time was destitute of troops but few persons were on the street to look upon this sad, forlorn, woe-begone-looking body of young men. Kirby SMITH had taken out their starch. We felt they ought to have been received with open arms, but no one was around to help brighten their spirits. The few who saw them gazed in staring in silence. Another dilapidated-looking body we saw, and in 1864 was the Fifth Ohio. After three years of bloody and heroic service they had been reduced to little more than a company and were drawn up in line on Third street before the Quarter-masters department to draw new clothing. It was quite a contrast to that same regiment as we saw it just after the fall of Sumter marching down Sycamore street 1,000 strong, attired in red-flannel shirts and aglow with patriotic ardor. Their brave Colonel, J. H. PATRICK, had killed only a few weeks before down in Dalton, Georgia, while gallantly leading a charge. The heroic band were borne on furlough.
The Sixth, or Guthrie Gray Regiment, marched away in gray and came back in the army blue after an absence of three years, when they were mustered out of service, about 500 strong. They were received in a sort of ovation by the citizens as they marched through the city. Their Colonel, N. L. ANDERSON, brought back “the boys,’ largely from the elite of the city in splendid physical condition. They had an entirely different appearance from the ordinary returning regiments, being very neat and cleanly in their appearance. Some thoughtful friends had supplied them, as they neared the city, with a due quantity of fresh paper collars——as we were told—which were quite striking in contrast with their bronzed war-
hardened countenances. It was a proud moment for the young men to be welcomed after their long absence by their lady friends from the streets, doors, and window, with smiles and the waving of handkerchiefs. Eleven of their number subsequently received commissions in the regular army.
To have lived anywhere in our country during the
four years of the rebellion was to have had a variety of experiences
emotion; especially was this true of Cincinnati. They were grand and
times. What was to be the outcome no one could divine. Our
first men could not tell us anything. They seemed insignificant
view of stupendous, appalling events. At the beginning all
voices were hushed in one general outburst of indignations. Later
on, what were termed the “copperheads” raised their hissing
One mode of striking their fangs into the Union cause was by trying to
weaken respect for those at the head of affairs. Mr. LINCOLN
an especial object for their abuse. The most obscene anecdotes
coined and circulated as coming from him. One of the public
described him “as an ape, a hyena, a grinning satyr, and the White
at Washington but a den where the baboon of Illinois and his satellites
held their disgusting orgies.” Going through our lower market one
morning during the war, our ears were greeted with an expression that
new to us. We turned to see the speaker and there stood before us
an immense, fat, blowsy-faced market woman, evidently from the Kentucky
side of the Ohio half a mile distant. It was she that had just
forth in bitter contemptuous tones the epithet, “Old Link.”
During the gloomy period when news of defeat was received, the faces of some of those around us would light up with exultation: then they would say: “O, I told you so: they are better fighters than our soldiers, more warlike, and in earnest. We can never conquer them. The old Union is dead. We shall probably have three confederacies. The New England States, and the East; the West; and the South, its geographical situation in connection with the Mississippi making it a necessity.” Such was the talk to which those who loved the Union were compelled to listen in those times. It added to their distresses, while it excited their indignation and loathing. Not to record it would be a rank injustice to those who sacrificed for their country and a falsification of the truth of history by its concealment.
In such a time as we had in Cincinnati there are very many isolated scenes and incidents that each in itself is perhaps of no especial consequences, but if itemized and given in bulk are instructive, illustration life there in the time of the rebellion. We give some within our personal experience.
The First Funeral.—When our volunteers left for Western Virginia it was generally thought the trouble would soon be over. Never was there a greater hallucination. In a few weeks came tidings of skirmishes and deaths among those who had but just left us. At this juncture on day I was brought to a realizing sense of what war was. By chance I saw on Broadway, just above Fifth street, a group of servant-girls and children. A hearse and a few carriages were in front. On inquiry I learned it was the funeral of a young man who had been killed in a skirmish in Western Virginia. In a little while an old man with his wife leaning on his arm, parents of the deceased, came out, bowed and heart-broken, followed by sorrowing brothers and sisters; they got into the carriages, which then moved slowly away. And this was what war meant. Tears and heart-breaks and lives of sorrow and suffering to the innocent and helpless.
The Gawky Officer.—There was, ordinarily, very little pride of military show among those engages in so serious a business as war. The officers, when not on duty, generally appeared in undress. Our streets at times thick with such. It was near the beginning when there passed, walking on Fourth street, by Pike’s Opera House, a very tall, gawky officer, over six feet in stature. He was in full parade dress, with spreading epaulettes, and his stride was that which showed he had passed his days in plowed fields straddling from furrow to furrow. He evidently felt he was creating a sensation in the big city—and he was. Every one turned and looked at this specimen of pomp, fuss, and feathers, with comical emotion.
Falling in Battle.—We asked a young man, a captain who had come home on furlough, by the name of EMERSON, whom we well knew, if he had ever seen any one fall in battle. He laughed as though the thought was new and replied, “No, I don’t know that I ever did,” and then turning to a companion said, “Tom, did you?” The latter replied the same. Being always in front they had their eyes only to watch the enemy before them. Both had seen plenty after they were down, but never one in the act of falling. A few months passed. EMERSON had gone to the front. He had command of a small fort down in Tennessee, built to protect a railroad bridge. The enemy made an attack and were repelled. One man only had they killed. It was its commander, EMERSON, his head carried away by a cannon ball. He was a handsome fellow, black eyes and rosy cheeks. His character was of the best. His pastor, Rev. D. Henry M. STORRS, said in speaking of his sacrifice: “So pure and noble was he that his very presence on our streets was continued fragrance.” That laughing, pleasant face is now before me, just as though it was yesterday that he said, “Tom did you?”
Contraband Soldiers.—Ordinarily, men in uniform are so transformed that it was rarely that we could tell, on seeing a regiment
marching through the streets, whether it was Irish, German or American. In regard to one class of Union soldiers there could be no mistake—the negro. On Fifth street, close to Main, on the large space in front of the present Government building, was reared a huge shed-like structure, one story high barracks. Late in the war it was occupied briefly by a regiment or more of plantation blacks, clad in the Union uniform. They were a very different-looking people from our North-ern blacks. Many of whom possess bright, interesting faces. These were stolid-appearing, their faces with but little more expression than those of animals. When I saw them they had finished their suppers and were engaged in whiling away their time singing plantation melodies in the gathering shadows of the evening. The voices of this immense multitude went up in a grand orchestra sound. The tunes were plaintive, weirdlike, and the whole exhibition one that could not but affect the thoughtful mind. It was singularly appealing to one’s best instincts to look upon these poor, simple children of nature, who were acting their humble part in the midst of vents so momentous.
At times our city was alive with troops, and then it
that the theatres and places of amusement—and places of wickedness —as
in Paris during the Reign of Terror, were extraordinarily prosperous.
other times only a few people were seen on the streets, so in any of
men having gone to the war. After the fail of Richmond it was felt that
the great bulk of the fighting was over; but it was largely
that the South would for years continue a scene of guerilla warfare and
keep society in a state of chaos. The assassination of Mr.
came—a, terrible blow in the midst rejoicings at peace. Strong
could only speak of it with swelling throats and choked utterance. The
nation writhed in agony. Then came the return of the regiments to their
varied homes; but everywhere, amid the general rejoicings, were the
families to be reminded only the more vividly of the terrible loss of
sons, and brothers, who had died that the nation might live.
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