Kentucky "Orphan" Brigade
Reminiscences of Pvt. Thomas Francis Boaz,
Co. D, 2nd Ky. Inf., regarding Camp Boone and Fort Donelson
(written possibly in the early 1900s; submitted by
My home was in Graves Co. Kentucky, where I lived with my dear old parents
and brothers and sisters. But I was destined to leave them and
fight with my countrymen for the cause of the South.
The later part of June 1861, I enlisted in the Second Kentucky and leaving my
old grey headed father and mother I went with my company to Camp Boone Tenn.
Where we were drilled for many months.
We were ordered to Fort Donelson on the 10th of February 1862 there we fought
for five days and nights exposed as we were, to snow, ice and mud without
shelter and without sleep.
The fort was almost quadangular in shape and was divided in two parts by Indian
Creek which was filled with back water, till it was almost impossible to cross
it. Armother (can't make out for sure) valley west of Dover offered the
same hindrance. The ground between these valleys was hilly and covered
with a dense undergrowth extending to the Cumberland River on the north.
General Buckner commanded the right wing and General Pillows the left and ??????
Porters Tenn batteries occupied the advance sweeping the road. In
fact the Confederates were in such an exposed position that they suffered
On the night of the twelfth our men slept peacefully but were arroused by the
boom of the federal artillery at dawn on the thirteenth. A spirited fire
swept along the line. Cook with his Iowa men sallied forth against the
right center where they were met with a warm reception from Graves and Porter
and every western soldier retired behind the ???? hill. The next
attack was made on the left wing, a continual fire was kept up along the line
for two hours. The Federals fought with audacity knowing that they had
five men to our one. They reached within forty yards of the Confederate
rifle pits and for fifteen minutes they held their ground and retreated to the
hills but renewed the attack and this time fire of the artilery set fire to the
leaves and this (thus ???) they retreat mid the cries of their
comrades wounded and dying smothered and charred from the burning.
So the battle continued such mortal strife we of this peaceful time cannot
imagine. The field of battle was thickly strewn with dead and wounded.
With only thirteen effective force weakened and worn out by exposure and hard
fighting it was utterly hopeless to continue longer. The loss to of the
Confederates in killed wounded and prisoners was five thousand while that of the
Federals was fifteen thousand.
Ghastly spectacles were abundant as the eye ranged over the scene of mortal
strife for many places were red with frozen blood and the snow which lay under
the pine thickets was marked with crimson streams. There were two miles of
dead thickly strewn and mingled with firearms heavy artillery and dead horses.
They were sometimes facing each other as they gave and received the fatal wound
and agave (? - again??) they were heaped in piles six or seven feet deep.
A thrill of pain would run through our bodies as we gazed into the silent faces
of our comrades or heard the last of the dying probably to a far away sweat
heart or dear old grief stricken mother and the dead seemed to turn to catch a
passing breeze for a cooling breath.
Our men were overpowered and had to surrinder (surrender) and I went with the
rest to Chicako (Chicago) where we remained for seven months with out very much
After seven months in prison we were exchanged and went into the service of the
Confederacy again. On Dec. 7th 1862 we were marched into battle at
Heartsville (Hartsville) Tenn. by General Morgan. In this battle I was
wounded and disabled the rest of the war though I still remained in the south
fearing to return home on account of the enemy there.
Thomas Francis Boaz