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Friday, July 20, 2012

The Civil War History of the 57th Indiana
(#12 of 52)
The Army of the Ohio Advances to Meet
Braxton Bragg’s Army at Perryville.
“Army of the Ohio commenced the second movement southward, from Louisville, on the 1st of October, 1862. Long columns of troops could be seen marching out on the various roads leading south. Having but recently drawn a complete outfit of clothing, each soldier was carrying a heavy load. Knapsacks were crowded full, with blankets on top.
“We’ll be along with you,” responded the old soldiers, as the new recruits hurried by in such high glee. Marching with old troops, who were accustomed to the labors of the service, it was utterly impossible for the recruits to keep up, and carry such loads in the heat and dust.
“In the vicinity of Mt. Washington, there was a small party of rebel cavalry posted to watch our movements; but these were quickly driven out by our own cavalry. The enemy contested the passage of Salt River by a sharp skirmish, and succeeded in destroying the bridge. Our troops pursued them, and then went into camp.
“On Saturday the 4th, several miles north of Bardstown, it was evident that the rebels had no intention of making a stand at the town. They had, however, withdrawn to a place where the roads intersected, and then, as usual, showed fight with a small force of cavalry. The 3rd Ohio Cavalry immediately charged upon them. The enemy succeeded in drawing them into an ambush, and quite a number were captured. Our division was speedily formed in line of battle and hurried forward; but from the woods the rebels could see our advancing lines, and immediately withdrew. The enemy was now moving in the direction of Harrodsburg, with the intent of forming a junction with Gen. Kirby Smith. Instead of seeing the “oppressed people” of Kentucky springing to arms in aid of the cause of rebellion, a large army of northern boys, fresh from the fields, work-shops, schools, and pulpits, confronted them at every point.

“Since leaving Louisville, we had received full rations of crackers, coffee, sugar, and meat. In making a three days’ issue, we would usually receive two days’ ration of bacon and one of fresh beef. Cattle were driven along in the rear of the troops, and butchered at our camping places.

“Tuesday the 7th, we started in the direction of Perryville. All the small streams had long since gone dry. Water, suitable to drink, was almost impossible to find. Men were sent out from the road with canteens, while their comrades carried their guns and blankets. They would find an occasional spring or well. Now for the first time, I left the ranks without permission. But if there is water in the country it must be found. I soon reached a battery. The horses are sleeping on their feet, the drivers in their saddles, and the gunners by their pieces. Half a mile up the road I came to a log-house by the side of the road, near where a small stream has once been. In answer to my inquiry “Where will I find water?” I am told, “We have none; haul water for our own use three miles, and have given all away that was in the barrel.” I could not buy even a drop of milk, coffee, or anything that would serve to quench my thirst. At last the old man tells me that one mile from there, in the bed of the creek, I will find a pool that has not gone dry. Cheered with this intelligence, I set out according to his directions. Upon reaching the spot, I found a pool of stagnant water, and brushing away the thick scum of green, I was rewarded by the sight of water! After filling my canteen with the “Delightful beverage” from the creek bottom, I retraced my steps to the road.
“At every halt of any length, the weary men would throw themselves down at the roadside or in fence corners and in a moment were wrapped in slumber. But when the bugle sounds “forward,” and with no small amount of waking, rousing, and clamor, the “machine” is once more in motion.

(Kentucky, October, 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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