|November, 1863||Linn Diary Index||16th OVI Home Page||January, 1863|
The 69th Indiana came up this morning on another vessel. Our ship can not cross the bar and the troops go from this vessel to a smaller one to go to the shore. Run in as close to the shore in Carvello Pass (Pass Cavallo) as we could and then took to the surf boats run to shore and waded out.
Wednesday, Dec. 2, 1863
Charley Wallick, Frank Wilson and I went down to the beach and took a bath in the bay. Commenced a letter to Uncle Frey for the Republican also one to Lizzie. Unloading ship and go aboard for my drum. Pitch our tent anew. Short of grub.
Decrow's Point, Texas, Dec. 2, 1863
We are at last on the bleak shores of Texas: landed on a sandy point extending into the sea, dividing Matagorda Bay from its more extensive neighbor, the Gulf of Mexico. This is called Decrow's Point, named after the old planter who owns it. Mr. Decrow is a native of Maine but leaving the old homestead, he wandered through the Eastern States, thence westward through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and finally found himself almost at the opposite extreme of his country, and settled. He has lived here twenty-five years, and is candid enough to admit that he has wandered from the path of his forefathers, and now "sympathizes with the Confederates."
But I know you would rather learn something of our trip, than read about this old secesh Texan. We left - Brashear City Sunday morning, November 22, on the cars, for Algiers. Arriving at the depot about one o'clock, we were met by our paroled men, and then such a shout as rent the air, such shaking of hands at meeting with old comrades and friends, was only equaled by the meeting of the same men with their friends and relatives when they marched into the Court House in Millersburg, on that eventful eve when true valor and bravery were rewarded by the presen-tation of those beautiful swords to the gallant Lieutenants Corn and Vorhes. This important addition to our numbers raises the spirits of our men, as well as improves the looks and effec-tiveness of the regiment. Company B can now boast of 47 men, all good and true, instead of 29, as the case less than two weeks ago. We pitched our tents near the depot, and remained in Algiers two days. Tuesday evening, 24th, we retired to our humble earthen cots as usual, but had scarcely closed our eyes for sleep ere the double roll and five taps of the drum broke upon the stillness of the night, calling the officers together. Expectation was on tiptoe, but we were not kept long in suspense, for in a few minutes the order came, "Get up immediately, draw clothing and be ready to go aboard the steamship St. Mary's by one o'clock." Soon all was confusion: Sergeants running to and fro, making out requisitions for clothing: soldiers crowding around to receive pants, blouses, caps, blankets, etc., striking tents, making coffee, and bustling around generally, the whole scene lighted up by large camp fires, fed by all the extra wood, boards, tent poles, etc., presenting a picture hard to describe, but vivid to the imagination of any who have ever looked upon like scenes, or ever been a soldier. Fortunately we already had two days' rations in our haversacks; and drawing rations, always a busy time, but much more so when about to march, was left out of the progr amme. We marched to the ship and went aboard, the 69th Indiana and the 16th Ohio, in all about 180 [believed to be incorrect, possibly should be 1800 men] men. We passed the spot where Gen. Jackson taught boasting Johnny Bull manners, behind his cotton bales, in 1812. A splendid monument proudly rears its lofty head on the site. It was dark when we passed Forts Pickens and Jackson, and we could see nothing. About ten o'clock, while all were wrapped in slumber, we glided from the smooth bosom of the mighty Mississippi to the more uneven and boisterous surface of the gulf. When we awoke in the morning we were far on our way, and for the first time in my life, look which way I might, I could see no land. A few light clouds hovering around the horizon, ob-scured the beauties of our first sunrise at sea.
Our first day on the gulf was very calm and pleasant, with scarcely a ripple to disturb its glossy surface. The boys amused themselves by watching the frolicking of large schools of porpoise, or sea hogs, as they glided swiftly through the water, ever and anon showing their huge backs, as they leaped above the surface, and then sinking deep into the blue sea, were hid from view. Thursday night the wind rose, and by morning the sea was quite rough, and the ship, to us "land lubbers," rolled fearfully. As soon as the boys crawled from beneath their blankets, they became sick. Then commenced a scene which as amusing in the extreme, and baffles description. One set of boys were bending over the yawl, pulling lustily at the "ropes of New Y-o-r-k," while the rest were almost bursting their sides with laughter and vain efforts to resist the sickening sensation, and scarcely able to hold it in till room could be made for them at the "ropes." One old negro, between his gasps for breath and flow of a copious stream from his mouth, cried out, "O if de good lo'd will only forgibe me dis time, I'll neber go on de sea agin."
During the day we hailed a schooner with a prize crew aboard, bound for civilization. It was loaded with cotton. In the evening we came up with our blockading fleet off this point, and cast anchor between two and three miles from the shore. We laid at anchor all day Saturday, the ship rolling and pitching in unison with the huge waves which were lashing themselves into foam upon the distant shore. Saturday night came near sending us all to "Davy Jone's locker." The ship dragged her anchor thirty-two miles during the night, and was fast approaching some hidden rocks. A few minutes later and all would have been lost. The Captain of the boat came excitedly into the cabin and tried to get some of the soldiers, sleeping there, up to help draw the anchor, saying, "Get up boys, and help with the anchor, or we will all go to hell in five minutes." The recklessness of the soldier is seen by the sleepy "Well, let her go," the only answer he could get, and not until he aroused Gen. Lawler, could he procure the requisite assistance. It came not a minute too soon. I was in blissful ignorance of that danger till next morning, but was painfully alive to the necessity of holding on with might and main, to keep from pitching into the sea. Companies B, E, A, D, G and K were on the upper deck, and I expected each moment a huge wave would come rolling over the deck and sweep some of us, with resistless fury, into the roaring billow below. I was happily disappointed, for although her high wheel-houses frequently dipped in the water, none rolled across our deck. By morning's dawn we were back to our former anchorage. Sunday morning the wind fell, and we run some 45 miles, to St. Joseph's Island, intending to land there and come round in the rear of the fort at the entrance of this bay, while the troops here landed and crawled up on it in front. Monday the landing commenced in surf boats, each boat carrying from ten to fifteen men, running close to the beach, the men jumped out and waded to shore. We had landed but three or four boat loads, when orders came to return here, as the fort was in our possession. It was taken with the loss of but one man killed, and some four or five wounded on our side.
Thursday, Dec. 3, 1863
Finished my letter to the Republican and sent it to Uncle Frey. Rained this afternoon. Raymond Fenner had a chill this evening. Sam Frizell was stung with a Stingerett today.
Friday, Dec. 4, 1863
Our regiment sunning in the bay today. Our company this evening was not watching them. Have a bad cold.
Saturday, Dec. 5, 1863
Raymond Fenner and I take a walk on the beach and gather shells. Battalion drill and dress parade this afternoon. Go fishing with seine in the evening - have bad luck - catch no fish.
Sunday, Dec. 6, 1863
Rained this afternoon. Fenner and I take a walk on the bay beach this evening.
Monday, Dec. 7, 1863
Finished my letter (No. 2) to Lizzie. Had my hair cut to please Col. Kershner. Long drill this afternoon.
Tuesday, Dec 8, 1863
Drill all afternoon. Looks very much like a North-Wester tonight but it does not come.
Wednesday, Dec. 9, 1863
Wrote to Father, Lizzie Shera, Ike McCullough and Jake Hostettler. Drill as usual. It has been a pleasant day.
Decrow's Point, Texas, Dec. 9, 1863
I received your affectionate letter of Nov. 4th while on the steamship St. Mary's while coming down the Mississippi River on our way here. I would have answered sooner if I could have sent the letter. I wrote a long one to Uncle Frey for the paper and sent it on the return trip of the St. Mary's. It told all about our trip here and incidents occurring on the way, you probably saw the letter before he gave it to the editor if not will see it in print before this reaches you so I need not repeat but little of it. We met the paroled men at Algiers and I tell you it did our hearts good to see them again. It reminded us of old times and our regiment presented a livelier appear-ance the next evening at dress parade than it had done for a long, long time - since the morning of that fatal 29th December, 1863 - nearly eleven month before.
Frank Wilson brought me the vest, socks, pin cushion etc. through in safety. The vest and socks I had rather had not been sent as I had bought a vest a short time before and had socks enough for this winter. I let Raymond Fenner, my bedfellow, have one pair of socks. The needles and pins I needed. I must thank Ida's little fingers for the pin cushion she made and sent to me. How it cheers me up when I think of so many little kindnesses expressed by the many little things sent me from home, speaking so plainly "You are not forgotten," that I am missed in the home circle.
The sea beach abounds in shells of all sizes, shapes and hues. I have been gathering a lot of them and to show I have not forgotten my little brothers and sisters - that I still think of them I will send some of the prettiest little ones I could find to Ida, Julia, Willie, and Aggie. While Zeke who has grown to be a great big boy and will not care for them for himself, has not forgotten his baby interest in bugs and will be interested in looking at and admiring them almost as much as little Aggie herself. I have a pretty shell here with a beautiful star on it. It is off of a starfish. I could not find any small enough to send you. Yes, here is one if it don't make too much bulk I will try it when I do up my letter. They are so brittle I expect it will break all to pieces.
We received some glorious news last night by the steamer Arkansas, if it is true. That Bragg's Army is entirely annihilated. We are anxious for a mail for papers to hear the particulars. If true this looks more and more like crushing the rebellion, looks as though we may not get to serve our nine months through. I wrote at Brashear City, to Cicero about his proposition for us to go in together in a jewelry store. What do you think of the idea. How much capital will we have to have to set up, etc., etc.
The boys with the regiment are all well. We left Ike McCullough at the general hospital at New Orleans with a recommendation for a discharge by Dr. Brashear. Have not heard from him since. I have a letter for him, I think from his wife, but I do not know how to send it to him.
Thursday, Dec. 10, 1863
Drilling. Long drill this afternoon. Our regiment and the 114th Ohio drill together. Weather warm and pleasant.
Friday, Dec. 11, 1863
No drills today except dress parade. Fenner and I go to beach this morning to gather shells - found some nice little ones. John Edgar was read out and fined the price of coffee he stole from commissary.
Saturday, Dec. 12, 1863
Rusia and I went to beach for shells. Battallion drill this afternoon. Flag of truce at the picket line. Came down in a boat from up the bay. Company out this evening on patrol duty, to arrest men who straggled off to see the rebel flag of truce boat. Arrested men condemned to march four hours.
Sunday, Dec. 13, 1863
Wrote to John F. Linn. Regimental inspection and inspection of quarters by a strange Lieut. Colonel. Commenced a letter to Lizzie. Very windy - could hardly beat off at dress parade. Steam ship St. Mary's at the wharf.
Monday, Dec. 14, 1863
When we got up this morning we found ourselves covered with sand blown in on us by the North-Wester last night. Signed the payrolls this morning and were paid off tonight after dark. Received a large mail this morning - I only got a Republican and a New York Observer.
Tuesday, Dec. 15, 1863
Rained a little and blew a great deal today. Wrote some in letter No. 3 to Lizzie. Recruits paid this evening.
Decrow's Point, Texas, Dec 13, 1863
This is Sunday evening, the wind is blowing very hard from the North-West scattering sand over everything. I feel lonely and wish for your society O, so much. Were I only with you how pleasantly we could and would spend the evening. Sitting by your cheerful fire the wintry winds might howl away - what would we care for their blowing. But I am in Texas far, far away from the one I love and for whose sweet presence I sigh unable even to hear from her by letter. We have been here two whole weeks and have not yet seen the first sign of letters - those dear little mementoes of absent though unforgotten friends. I have not had a letter from you since the one I received on the ship three weeks ago - that was our last mail. A ship now rides at anchor outside the bar which I think has just come. I have great hopes that she brings precious tidings of absent ones.
My last letter was closed so unceremoniously that I did not write as satisfactorily as I would wish and hardly know what I did say. I thought it was going off right away and when I took it to the Adjutant he said it was only going to headquarters maybe would lay there for a week. It may be there yet for all I know. I was vexed that I had not kept it till I had it finished. But let it go -- I will try to have this one finished when they call for it. As we cannot send letters every time we want to we must make up for that by writing long ones. I keep your letters for months - until I have to destroy them to lighten my load - and then when I can't hear from you I enjoy myself by reading your old letter over and over. I have been reading your old letters over today again and trying to imagine I am at the Corner again and with you instead of being on this sandy beach.
Do you remember one night as you and I were walking home from the Corner you happened to look over your left shoulder and saw the new moon - how you started with a suppressed shriek and how you jerked me when I looked the same way to see what was the matter? I can remember how you looked and how I laughed at you as well as if it were but last night. I don't remember any bad luck following. Last night I saw the new moon again but over my right shoulder and though of that little circumstance. I wonder what good luck is in store for me this time. It is getting to dark to write more now, so good night and pleasant dreams.
Tuesday, Dec. 15th
The ship St. Mary's did bring a large mail with her but not a single letter for "poor me," nothing but a couple of papers. I was looking for letters from you and some from home, but was disappointed and I will have to content myself for a couple of weeks more with reading those I have dreaming of "Auld Lang Syne." We had another Nor-Wester night before last - blowing sand over every thing. You would have laughed to have seen us yesterday morning when we got up. Our blankets were covered with sand white as snow and looked a good deal as if it had been snow and drifted there. Our ears, eyes and hair did not escape for they were all filled. I thought if the old fashion pow-dering the hair was still in vogue we could dispense with the services of the hair dresser for that morning at least. The wind has now shifted round until it blows from the North East and it is trying to rain a little I believe but hardly knows how to go about it. I hate wet weather for campaigning but fortunately this country is so sandy that it never gets muddy.
I must tell you how I pass my time. I am awakened about six o'clock in the morning to beat reveille -- then wash and get ready for breakfast - by that time it is time for breakfast call - after breakfast which consists generally of crackers, coffee and pickled pork I have to prepare for guard-mounting which is at eight o'clock this lasts about half an hour and if we have to attend brigade guard-mounting it takes about as much longer. We attend brigade guard-mounting about every other day. After guard-mounting we get to rest till dinner time, the regiment drills a couple of hours in the forenoon but that is only company drill and I do not have to be out. I spend the time in writing, reading - if I can get any thing to read - or in lying around trying to kill the time as best I can. At twelve o'clock I have to be out at dinner call. Dinner consists of about the same as breakfast with perhaps a mess of beans or rice and twice a week we have fresh beef. At two o'clock we have battalion drill and we play while they are marching. This is our longest and hardest drill. We beat supper call as soon as we come in and eat our suppers of hardtack, coffee and tonight, pickled beef instead of pork. Supper is just ready and I will have to stop and eat.
Wednesday, Dec. 16th.
After supper and dress-parade last night I had no time to write and so will finish this morning. We have half an hour for supper and then go out for dress-parade which takes us till dark -- come in and beat retreat and then we have the long winter evening till eight o'clock to spend as best we can in the dark for candles are scarce and if they were plenty the wind would not let us burn them - our house is so open. At eight o'clock tattoo is played and then I retire to bed for the night and until I am aroused in the morning for reveille again. You see I keep regular hours. This is a description of a fine day - when it rains we have no drills and when the officers have something particular to attend to we get clear as was the case yesterday. Friday is cleaning up and washing day and we are exempt from drill. Sunday inspection takes the place of training.
Hillow what's this? Here is a man selling songs -- wonder what they are! "New songs for the army by C.F. Breining" of our brigade. I see among them an "Answer to When this Cruel War is Over," "The Home Guard" and others. I must send one to you. I think the "Answer to When this Cruel War is Over" is real pretty and you must sing it to me after the other. Will you! I like it for its sentiment - so consonant with my own feelings.
I have some little shells - the smallest and prettiest I could find - if I can fix them so they will not break all to pieces I wish to send them to you in this letter. Little round ones are hard to get as they are not very plenty and all the boys are watching for them - the scallops are found in any numbers. I wish you were here and I was but a traveler instead of a soldier - what fun we could have running up and down the beach gathering shells and chasing the breakers back. Well may the poet sing "O give me a home by the sea."
We have rumors of glorious news from the Chatanooga Army. Our brave old U.S. Grant has scattered Bragg's Army to the four winds, and Gilmore is at last inside the birthplace of treason, Charleston, South Carolina. I hope he burned the city to the ground and destroyed it as effectually as Ninevah or Babylon of old. I hope soon to hear of the fall of Richmond and with it the Southern Confederacy. How gay it would be if the old Sixteenth could only return home before her nine months are over and that too without fearing the necessity of having to come out again. But if we were where I could receive your letters and those from home regularly I think I could pass these last months of my soldier life quite contentedly with the prospect of being soon free again.
I will close now and watch for a chance to send this away - there are several ships in the harbor, maybe some of them will take our letters. Good-by till I can write again.
Wednesday, Dec. 16, 1863
Finish my letter to Lizzie, put shells and songs in it - "Answer to When this Cruel War is Over" and others. Wind rises and is blowing a gale from the North-West. Had to take our tent down about eight o'clock tonight to save it from being torn to pieces.
Thursday, Dec. 17, 1863
Passed an ugly night and this morning are covered with sand. Charley Wallick and Harry Myers went into the other tent in the night. Wind still blowing as hard as ever. Some of Co. A's tents torn to shreds. Wind goes down about noon and we fix up our tent - put cattle skins up at the ends and threw up the sand all round the tent. Fixed up nicely now.
Friday, Dec. 18, 1863
Calm today - sun out and weather warm again. Have a battallion drill this evening. Boys yell when dismissed and are recalled into ranks to be lectured by Col. Kershner.
Saturday, Dec. 19, 1863
Drill this afternoon, as usual the 16th and 114th drill together. Mail in this evening. Received letters from Billy Fleming, Ike McCullough and Lizzie and a Republican of Nov. 12th.
Sunday, Dec. 20, 1863
A regimental inspection this morning. Wrote to Lizzie. Wrote to Mr. Parsons.
Decrow's Point, Texas, Dec. 20, 1863
I must tell you what kind of a climate I am in. It is so changeable that no dependance can be put in it all. One day it is as warm and pleasant as a northern summer. Such is today. The next day may be as cold as Greenland. Just as the wind blows we have it cold or warm. Last Wednesday afternoon the wind shifted to the North-West and by dark was blowing "big guns" as cold as if it had just left the frozen regions of the North Pole and blowing the sand into large drifts and putting one greatly in mind of them. By eight o'clock it was blowing so hard that we were compelled to let our tent down to prevent it from being torn to shreds, several ropes already having given away. Some of Co. A's tents were torn to pieces before morning. You will wonder how we slept that night. We left our tent down fastened guns to the sides and crawling under them held fast. I and my bedfellow Raymond Fenner had three blankets and our tent over us and yet the wind came through and we slept cold. Newt Gorsuch and I do not bunk together now - as good friends as ever though. But this a digression. Morning came at last and we found fully a peck of sand blown over us. The wind was still blowing as hard as ever. About ten o'clock the wind began to go down and in the afternoon it became warmer. We put up our tent again, shut up the ends with dried cowhides and then threw up sand all around to give the wind no chance to get the advantage of us again by getting in under our canvass. We now have a real snug little house as gay a one as in the row and so just let the wind blow and the rain descend and then if we can't keep dry we will, like the philosophers, just let it rain and take it like heroes as we ought to be.
I suppose it is winter up there and the merry jingle of sleighbells are frequently borne to your ears as they lightly skip over the smooth surface of the snow covered pike. I hope to pay up the long promised sleigh ride with interest doubly compounded next winter but you must not break any more watch guards for me or I fear I shall never get out or your debt. I am so slow paying I fear you will not trust me again. Now that John has gone to drive team for the Army what will my poor Lizzie do for a gallant to take her sleighriding this winter? I will have to court-marshal him. By next winter I hope to take my own place. I hope you will have a pleasant visit to Brookville and lots of fun to tell me of when you return. You may perhaps see or hear of Adam while there and learn how he flourishes.
It seems as if there was something else I wished to say this time but I cannot think of it and it is nearly dress parade time will have to close.
Monday, Dec. 21, 1863
Wrote to Ike McCullough and for George Adams to his Mother. Had no battalion this P.M.
Tuesday, Dec. 22, 1863
Fenner and I took a tour of the camps in search of writing paper this forenoon. Got a dollars worth of stamped envelopes. Bought some paper off the battery boys. Battalion drill this afternoon. Mail in and received letters from Mother, Aunt Nancy Tidball and Hen Levingston.
Wednesday, Dec. 23, 1863
Battalion drill this afternoon as usual. Write to Bill Fleming tonight.
Thursday, Dec. 24, 1863
Battalion drill this afternoon Companies commanded by sergeants. Wrote a few lines to Mother. Christmas Eve and a great many of the boys on a bender tonight - full of Commissay whiskey. Wrote to Kasandra Ross.
Decrow's Point, Texas, Dec. 24, 1863
I was very, very glad to receive your letter of Nov. 19th which came to hand Tuesday Eve. I was longing to hear from home again. Mails are so few and far between that I like to have a letter from home every time one comes in and when it don't come I am disappointed. But if I don't write myself I must not expect letters and I have not written home for three weeks, then to Father. I have no excuse to offer. Paper and envelopes are very scarce and as for stamps they cannot be got for love or money. I was run down to my last stamp - had but bare one left, when I heard a suttler had come ashore with stamped envelopes. Tom immediately broke for him and succeeded in getting a dollars worth - twenty envelopes - he sold them at five cents apiece. I had great difficulty in getting paper but at last succeeded in buying eighteen sheets for a quarter. This was considered a capital bargain for it is a very scarce article at fifty cents per quire. I wish you would send me some postage stamps - I will be out before they will reach me - it takes so long for them to come.
The weather is very pleasant for December - more like Indian summer than winter. This is the day before Christmas and as Fenner, my bed fellow now, says "we are saving up crackers for Christmas" and tomorrow we will doubtless feast on fried crackers and Texas beef if we can get the grease to fry them with. Would like to be a home next week to spend the holidays. I hope these will be the last I will spend as a soldier. We call ourselves nine months men now, but we do not know just when our time is out. Some say middle of August, some in September and others the 2nd of October.
I do not feel like writing more today and the mail is called for, so will close and write again.
Friday, Dec. 25, 1863
Christmas day. No drill and everyone trying to enjoy himself. Received flour and had some nice doughnuts made of it.
Saturday, Dec. 26, 1863
Drawing clothing today. Drew pants and blouse. Raining part of today and wind rising. Blowing very hard from the west. Lieut. Boling with us tonight.
Sunday, Dec. 27, 1863
Our tent stood last nights storm first rate. Wrote letters to Aunt Nancy Tidball, Hen Levingston and Tillie Bell. One year ago today we were on the Yazoo river and the battle of Chickasaw Bayou was opened. The most disastrous for our regiment we were ever in.
Decrow's Point, Texas, Dec. 27, 1863
This is the Sabbath morning and I expect you are at this moment preparing for church if not already seated in your regular place in the "House of the Lord" listening to the words of divine truth as they drop from the lips of some eloquent though humble "follower of the Lamb." I am hundreds of miles away from that quite and peaceful scene so vividly reflected in my memory - in a country bleak and barren with no redeeming quality and where there is no Sabbath.
I know you are opposed to Sunday letter writing but it is one of our best employments. I was glad to receive your letter last week. The New York Observer you sent came a few days before the letter and was greatly welcomed. Reading matter is in great demand. I read the story you speak of - another marked article etc. I read the articles with interest. I always like to read of our young soldiers.
Give my compliments to Miss Buchanan also to the two Misses McLaughlins and Jenny Williams. I was not aware they were in Millersburg until I received your letter, then one from Miss Williams to her brother also informed us they were there. What room do the girls occupy? Where is the schoolroom? I find I am becoming as ignorant of what is transpiring in little Copperhead Holmes as if I had never known there was such a place. I see I will have to enlarge my correspondence thereabouts or give up trying to keep up with the times. Once in a while I get a glimpse of affairs and were I not a soldier used to seeing great changes in a short time I should be greatly surprised to find how far behind the times I am.
I do not wonder that Uncle William and Aunt Sue did not like the gales of Texas if they blew, where they were, any thing like they do over Matagorda Peninsula. We had another taste of its Nor'Westers last night. The wind had been veering round toward the west all day with an occasional shower of rain. In the evening it began to blow "big guns" and before eight o'clock we began to seriously think we would have to take our tent in out of the wind as we did on a similar occasion before when we took down our tent and lay out all night to prevent it from being torn to shreds. But we had the sand well banked up around it and the ends shut up with beef - hides this time keeping the wind from getting inside and thus prevented the tent from being torn from its' stakes. We did not dare to disrobe when we went to bed, but lay down will all our clothes on expecting every minute our tent would go. Fortunately every thing held firmly and the night was passed in safety. Pleasant though, is it not, to live in a country where you are afraid to retire lest you may have a race for your house before morning. The wind is now falling but still blows more than is comfortable. The sun shines brightly enough but the wind keeps it cold and the sand flies about like drifting snow.
The boys are all in good health and splendid spirits. This is our last winter in this term of service. Nine months will see us free again and then for a visit to old Millersburg, and a respite from the toils of war. I wrote a few lines to Mother last Thursday but did not feel in a humor for writing and could not write what I wished to tell her. I will write again to her in a few days - hope more satisfactorily. Give my love to Grandmother, Uncle and Aunt Love. I forgot to say I have not received Aunt Deb's letter yet. Hope soon to hear from you again. I like to receive your letters and they are far to few.
There are but few, if any, of our readers who have not heard of the brave and accomplished Col. DeCourcy, the first officer who commanded the Old Sixteenth Ohio. The citizens of Wayne County in particular, recall with pride, the weeks and months spent in Wooster Encampment by Col. DeCourcy, in teaching the brave boys of the 16th, the art of war, and all the maneuvers of company and brigade drill. None performed his work better or more industriously, and no regiment in Ohio went into the field of active service better prepared for the conflict than the first American regiment commanded by Col. DeCourcy. Through the eventful and bloody history of the 16th Col. DeCourcy was their pride. The history of the first capture of Cumberland Gap, and the long, toilsome and almost unheard of marches, to and from the "American Gibraltar," are but a part of the history of DeCourcy and his regiment.
In the bloody and disastrous charge upon Vicksburg, (although made against his advice) Col. DeCourcy was a leader, and the 16th Ohio foremost of all the brave men, who made the charge. And again, at the recapture of Cumberland Gap, Col. DeCourcy, in command of a brigade, leads the vanguard, and his men are the first to plant the Stars and Stripes upon the heights. But we must not further extend our remarks by the recital of events know so well to most of our readers.
As will be seen by the following correspondence, the brave soldiers of the old 16th have presented Col. DeCourcy a very valuable and beautiful sword, sash and belt, in token of their esteem of their much loved Commander. The award was for a few days in care of Capt. Richeson, at the Exchange Hotel, where many of our citizens had the pleasure of seeing it, and the competent judges speak of it as an exquisite piece of workmanship, surpassing any thing of the kind ever exhibited in Wooster. The following is the correspondence between the regiment and Col. DeCourcy.
Wooster, Wayne County, Ohio Dec. 19, 1863.
Sir: The officers and soldiers of the Sixteenth Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry, have requested me to present to you the accompanying beautiful sword, sash and belt, in token of esteem for their much loved Commander.
I cheerfully comply with their request. The duty is a pleasant one, and in performing it, I esteem it necessary to mention the motives which impelled us to thus manifest to you the high regard in which you are held by the officers and soldiers you disciplined, and have more than once led to "glorious victory."
Officers there are who command the confidence of those under them, but who cannot win their respect. Others have the respect of the men but not their confidence. You, sir, not only possess the confidence, but also the respect of the soldiers of your regiment. They know you to be, from the history of your past life, which they have heard, an accomplished officer, and they soon learned to respect you for the qualities of your heart, for the frankness of your character and for the uniform courtesy of your deportment.
At Cumberland Gap, at Tazewell, at Chickasaw Bluffs, at Arkansas Post, in which actions you led the brigade to which the gallant 16th was attached, your bravery was conspicuous, and gained our applause; your courage amid danger was marked, and won our admiration; your skillful handling of your troops was unsurpassed, and made us proud to possess a leader so competent. Indeed, through all the vicissitudes, dangers, privations and vexations of a soldier's life, while you were with the regiment you made so perfect, your conduct was admirable.
The men of the "Old Sixteenth" observed all these things, and they soon learned to love and be proud of you; and it was to give you a proper testimonial of their love and pride, that they purchased for, and requested me to present to you, the sword which accompanies this.
Accept it, sir, and be assured that the soldiers of the 16th will mark the days of their as- sociation with you, as one marks the margin of his book, and the passages he especially loves, and would cherish in his recollection. And when we separate, may our separation throw back a glorious light upon the chequered scenes through which we have passed, and as the rays of the setting sun gild their various outlines, may we forget the softened troubles of the past in the glory of the present.
With the hope, sir, that the day is not far distant, when the efforts we, in common with thousands, have made for the Union, will bear their legitimate fruit, and thus return all the States to their former brotherly peace and prosperity. I have the honor, Colonel, in behalf of the regiment, to subscribe myself, very respectfully your obedient servant and fellow - soldier,
Captain 16th Ohio Volunteers
To Col. John F. DeCourcy, 16th Ohio Volunteers,
Col. DeCourcy's Reply
Lexington, Ky., Dec. 26, 1863
Sir: -- Probably the highest reward a man can receive, is the approval of his acts, by competent judges, and when the judges have also been co-workers in the things for which they have him praise, that man may well remain entirely tranquil, under neglect or adverse criticism from other sources.
Such a reward has now been bestowed on me. The beautiful sword presented to me, by the officers and soldiers of the 16th O.V.I., the highly complimentary letter accompanying it, and the fact that you, sir, were chosen to make the presentation, and thereby add another grace to its value, form a recompense of a higher degree than I had ever hoped for.
I pray you to express to the officers and soldiers of the 16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, my sincere thanks and heartfelt gratitude, for their great and generous kindness, as shown in these testimonials, and assure them that, as they are tangible proof of their good opinion of my doings, as a soldier, so they will forever be, to me, as a source of honorable pride.
Say to them, likewise, that if I succeeded in making so good a regiment of the 16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, I owe my success to their own great intelligence, which was always ready to second my efforts. Their never flagging industry enabled them to learn quickly that which had been taught me in the Veteran armies of Europe, and they submitted cheerfully to the severe discipline which I insisted upon, because their sense of honor and their common sense told them that an undisciplined soldier, sooner or latter, will become contemptible in the eyes of the enemy, and dangerous only to those in whose cause he is supposed to be fighting.
In the field, before the enemy, in all moments of danger or difficulty, if I did well it was because they did better; under fire they were ever firm, cool and self-reliant.
From their knowledge of what feelings I cherish toward them, they need no further assurance how great and pure a source of joy their honorable success and prosperity will, in the future, always afford me.
Finally, sir, I heartily join you in the wish and hope that peace may again, and soon, smile over this great country and people, and restore to them their former glorious prosperity.
I have the honor to remain, sir, your obediently and gratefully,
John F. DeCourcy,
Colonel 16th O.V.I., U.S.A.
To Captain H. Richeson, 16th O.V.I.
Wooster, Wayne County, Ohio
Monday, Dec. 28, 1863
Spent today in making out a list of my letters written and received in the year 1863. I find I wrote 161 and received 123 letters - 38 more written than received. Battalion drill and dress - parade as usual. Colors escorted out to the field with music for battalion drill. One year ago today we were fighting at Chickasaw Bluffs. George Henderson received his death wound.
Tuesday, Dec. 29, 1863
Finished my record of letters written and received in 1863. New movements were made at Battalion drill this afternoon. Steam-ship St. Mary's at the wharf. One year ago today the dis-astrous charge on Chickasaw Bluffs was made. A sad day for our regiment. Big mail in - received letters from Jake Hostetler, Cy. Martin, George Smith, Becky Powers, two from Lizzie, two from Home, two Republicans, a quire of writing paper and a pack of envelopes.
Decrow's Point, Texas, Dec. 30, 1863
I received the most extensive mail last night I have received since we were at Cumberland Ford when my scholars all wrote me. I received eight letters, two Republicans, quire of paper and pack of envelopes. I am going to tell you who my letters are from for I know you will have a curiosity to learn, One from Father, one from Mother and Zeke, two from College Corner, one from Miss Becky Powers, one from Cy Martin, one from George Smith (a discharged soldier) and one from Jake Hostetler (sick mess-mate at New Orleans) worth waiting two weeks for, is it not? Not much wonder I was glad when I saw the noble steamer St. Marys slowly moving in over the bar at the entrance of the harbor. The pen and stamps were also brought through in safety. I was greatly in need of stamps - had but one left. I write a great deal, it is good employment to pass away the time as well as profitable to myself and then O how I do like to hear "T.B. Linn" read out when the mail comes in. I wrote a letter Kasandra Ross (Graham Ross' daughter) the other day. I had answered all my letters and felt like writing to somebody, one of the boys mentioned her name in conversation and I just sat down and wrote a letter to her.
Newt Gorsuch is greatly pleased with his pen. He says he "has the best pen in the regi-ment without exception. I think Tom's will write as well if used by a skillful hand. Newt was expecting it this mail and said to me yesterday if he did not get it this time he would think if was lost. I am so glad to get the writing paper and envelopes you sent me. Paper and envelopes are very scarce here and hard to get. When we can get them we pay 50 cents a quire for this size paper, 60 cents for size larger and 40 cents a pack for envelopes, all of a far inferior quality to that you sent me. Hillow, here's Newt with his new pen and I must try it. Writes first rate, will be better when the rough edge wears off.
I am glad you have your clover-seed hulled and sold. I don't know what ground you had in clover, so can't tell whether it turned our well or not. I am glad you got so good a price for it. How much were your taxes this year? I wish I were there to spend the holidays and eat sausage meat and corn dodgers. The way I would stow them away would astonish the natives. I tell you now I could do justice to a good mess of corn cakes and sausage gravy with a slice of the hashed meat thrown in between. It makes my mouth water to think of it. My old grinders long for some-thing softer than hard-tack to try themselves on. About three years more chewing hard-tack and I will be toothless. I would like so much to spend an evening with such company as were at our house the night Mr. Layenberger was there. Aggie is a large girl by this time - does she remember seeing her brother, Tom? Ida and Ada Burkholder are two of the young ladies and Jim Davidson and Zeke are two of the young gents of Paint Creek society as it is now. The young ladies of my time are, to them getting to be old maids I suppose and Tom when he gets home will be looked on as a piteous old bachelor. Well, soldiering will make a man feel old at least. Sometimes after a hard days work I have felt older by ten years than Grandfather.
James Robertson arrived safe and sound to the regiment while we were at Berwick. Our Berwick letters had not reached you when you wrote. I thought Will Reed was dead; I had not heard of him since he was left at Cairo, Ill. I hope he will write, I would like to receive a letter from him. I am looking for a letter from Cicero now. Wish he would write. I wrote him asking how much it would take to start a small store and telling him if we could make it pay well and fast enough. If I go in with Cicero I can't buy any land; if I buy land I can't go in with Cicero. I am determined to do something that will make me a home as soon as possible - the quickest and best way is the one I want. Write soon and give me your opinion. What can that land be bought for now?
Decrow's Point, Texas, Dec. 30, 1863
Here I come at you hand over hand to answer your letter. I received any amount of letters and papers last night, had plenty of good news consequently and in the very best of humor today and you stand a very good chance of escaping the exercise I promised you. O, I forgot that was in case you did not pony up but you have done that and thus escaped Grandmother's anger and my lectures. I am glad you have a good school teacher. Julia and Esther Davidson must be his strong friends to defend him so stoutly when his political opinions are assailed. Funny way of getting out of voting for a traitor - sitting on the fence and not voting at all.
Well he is a personal friend of mine and I hope, if he is a democrat, did not support the "Canadian" if he did the rest of the ticket. However that is his business - not mine.
We have a funny kind of a song we sometime sing here it goes "whizz! whizz!! Whizz!!! and then the chorus comes in "Boom whizz." It is so exciting that it will almost make the hair stand on your head. I would like to hear you sing some of your Union songs I think they would be nicer if not so exciting as ours.
Father tells me your thrashing is done. Am glad that the hard job is done. You are getting to be quite a hunter. What do you do with your muskrat furs? Do you ever hunt for Calico? I suppose you begin to look round a little. How often do you and Alec Wilson or Sammy Leving-ston slip off about dark and forget to come home early? Now don't deny it for I know you cast sheeps-eyes across the church toward some little trembling specimen of hoop-skirts and wavy curls. Christmas is over and day after tomorrow will be New Years. I suppose you are having gay old times. Have you school this week? Have you any sleighing yet? I do not expect to see any snow this winter or even ice. Our greatest fear is the wind storms which drive everything before them.
Sundown-- I have just returned from beating the dead march at the funeral of our Drum Major who died last night at 10 o'clock. He was buried this evening with the honors of war. His name is Charles Myers - Mr. and Hen Levingston know him. I will tell you how he was buried. First marched a Sergeant in command of sixteen men marching in two lines with arms reversed - that is with the muzzle down and pointing back; then came the band playing the dead march; next came the coffin and an old minister in the 114th Ohio regiment and after them came all who wished to join in the procession. Arriving at the grave his body was lowered and a few shovels of dirt thrown over it - the preacher made some remarks and prayer which I could not hear for the wind and sea -- three volleys were fired over his grave and we returned beating quick time.
It is too dark to see and I am writing by guess.
Decrow's Point, Tex., Wednesday Eve.
Dec. 30. 1863
I have written a sheet to Father and one to Zekie and now I must see what I can do for you. I have so many things to say to you that I cannot write, so when I take my pen I am always puzzled to know what to write and never write what I want to . I cannot concentrate my thoughts.
I received your letter of Nov. 24th without the O.V.I. but it was a wonder. I suppose it was done up with others coming here from Millersburg. Yours of Oct. 20 was backed correctly. I received the ten stamps and used them; also the things sent by Frank Wilson but I wrote about them before - you will get the letters before you do this. The vest Corns brought was the one I wanted - my buff one. I am beginning to think my good clothes will be too small for me when I get home. I have got to be a great broadshouldered heavy set fellow weighing 160 pounds - no deductions made for beard and mustaches. I am foolish enough to think rather better looking than when you were acquainted with me.
I expect I too would laugh at that little politician if I could see and hear him denouncing all democrats except "Uncle Alec." I remember a few of my old expressions then but not that one. I remember one "My Father is a Whig and I am a Whig" for which I came near getting a trownsing for bringing Father into my political squabbles.
I do not know what was done with Gen. Ord. He was put under arrest and ordered back to New Orleans - that was the last we heard of him. Gen. Washborne, a gentleman, took and still has command of the Corps. Corps Headquarters are at Brownsville. Gen. Lawler has been relieved and Gen. Benton takes his place as Commander of the First Division. (ours.) My ankle is well and Tom is all right side up with a cane. You see we did go back to New Orleans but only to take ship for Texas. Easier than the first route. We had official announcement of Grants success in Georgia but no particulars till this mail's papers. While we were with the 22nd Ky. their Chaplain frequently distributed tracts and papers through our regiment and when he preached he always let us know and invited us to attend. I think he is one of the best men living, I do not know his name. They left us at Brashear City the 20th November and are now on the Mississippi river. Since then we have no preaching or prayer meetings. There is an old preacher in the 114th but I never hear of his preaching or any thing else. I am sorry Grandmother has forgotten how to write. It would do me so much good to get a letter from her. Aunt Nancy writes good letters but I am afraid she too will soon forget how. I am glad Grandmother is a good advocate and scolds you good for not writing oftener. Father says you got Ida's and Julia's letters. I am glad. I have some scraps for my diary which I want to send in this letter. I am going to send you a list of all the letters I have written and received during this year.
|No. to each||To whom written||No. from each||From whom Received|
|37||Lizzie Shafer||29||Lizzie Shafer|
|8||Wm. Fleming||9||Wm. Fleming|
|6||Lizzie Shera||5||Lizzie Shera|
|5||Ike McCullough||1||Ike McCullough|
|4||John F. Linn||4||John F. Linn|
|4||Hen Levingston||3||Hen Levingston|
|4||John Shera||4||John Shera|
|4||A.B. Frey||4||A.B. Frey|
|3||Nancy R. Tidball||3||Nancy R. Tidball|
|3||Dave Williams||3||Dave Williams|
|3||Rebecca Powers||4||Rebecca Powers|
|2||Ellie Williams||2||Ellie Williams|
|2||Jake Hostettler||1||Jake Hostettler|
|2||Tom B. Bird||2||Tom B. Bird|
|2||Frank Wilson||2||Frank Wilson|
|2||Cy Martin||3||Cy Martin|
|2||John Fleming||3||John Fleming|
|2||Maria Sheely||1||Maria Shelly|
|2||Will Shera||1||Will Shera|
|1||Homer Sheely||1||Homer Sheely|
|1||Virgil Sheely||1||Virgil Sheely|
|1||George W. Smith||1||George W. Smith|
|1||J.C. Tidball||1||J.C. Tidball|
|1||James Williams||1||James Williams|
|1||Newt Gorsuch||1||Amy Jones|
1 each to Rachel Palmer, Dick and Fitzgerald, I.S. Bently, James Parsons, Kasandra Ross and N.M. Bell ----- equals 161. A pretty extensive correspondence is it not? I do not now write to them all and am going to change it more.
Wednesday, Dec. 30. 1863
Rained some this forenoon. Battalion drill this afternoon. Buried Charles Myers our Drum Major this evening with the honors of war. Eckle and Lemmon here again with their sutler shop. Wrote letters to Father, Mother and Zeke - one sheet to each. Wind raises tonight and is blowing a Nor'Wester.
Thursday, Dec. 31, 1863
Very cold and wind blowing from the North West all day. Wrote to G.W. Smith. Lieut. Boling came over to sleep with us tonight. Pickets expected to be attacked last night. Our scouts were driven some forty miles by rebel cavalry. Reported 150 infantry were taken prisoners. They had gone up the Gulf and landed to drive cattle down. Went too far up and were cut off.
|November, 1863||Linn Diary Index||16th OVI Home Page||January, 1863|