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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Civil War History of the 57th Indiana (#4 of 52)

Chickens, Campfires, and Confederates

“Just before reaching camp, quite a laughable incident occurred among the men. One of Company “E” had entered a barn-yard at the road-side, and was making off with a chicken, when he was discovered by an old lady, who gave chase and followed him into the road. Even when he passed through the ranks she still followed, but was at last baffled by the chicken being handed to a comrade, who hid it under his blanket. She acknowledged the Yankees ‘a little too sharp,’ and returned to the house. Soon after the regiment encamped a man was wounded in the arm by one of the men shooting at a chicken. The shot took effect near the elbow, and so disabled him that he was never afterword able for service.
“As soon as  arms were stacked, the men started in search of fuel, and in due time made their appearance in camp, bearing on their shoulders loads of rails, carried, in some cases, nearly a mile. But all our hopes of comfort are suddenly blasted by the appearance of our brigade commander, who comes galloping through the camp in a furious rage, swearing, cursing the men, and threatening court-marshal and disgrace, unless the rails are immediately replaced; and the men are ordered to return them forthwith. But if the tender-hearted officer who regarded the comfort of fawning traitors as much as he did that of the tired men under his command had but followed them, as they disappeared in the woods, he would have discovered that many were only carried beyond his sight, and thrown down until after dark; those that could be were broken in pieces, and carried back to camp. Of course pieces of rails would be of no account, except to build fires.
“On Sunday, January 19th, the day of our arrival in this camp, the enemy, under the rebel generals Crittenden and Zollicoffer, marched from their camp and attacked Gen. Thomas’ division, at Mill Springs, but met with a total defeat, and the loss of one of their commanders, who was killed by Col. Fry, of Kentucky. At the time of the battle at Mill Springs, a portion of Wood’s division had advanced toward Hall’s Gap, and were engaged in repairing the road. Our regiment was under orders to assist in this labor when the news of the battle was received. The success of our forces at this point obviating the necessity of our further advance in that direction, we returned to Lebanon on the 31st of January, and marched out on the Columbia road.
“When a few miles from Lebanon, we passed the camp of the 1st Ohio Cavalry, from whom we learned that a small force of the enemy, under John H. Morgan, had crossed Green River, and captured a number of our men, who were putting up telegraph wires. Five hundred men from this regiment, and the same number from the 8th Kentucky, had already started in pursuit; but Morgan succeeded in making good his escape beyond the river.”

(Midway between Louisville and Nashville, Third week of January, 1862)
Excerpts taken from “Annals of the Fifty-Seventh Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry: Marches, Battles, and Incidents of Army Life” written by Asbury L. Kerwood immediately after the war.

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