MILITARY REMINISCENCES OF THE CIVIL WAR
BY JACOB DOLSON COX, A.M., LL.D.
Formerly Major-General commanding Twenty-Third Army Corps_
NOVEMBER 1863-JUNE 1865
CAMPAIGN OF OCTOBER--HOOD MOVES UPON OUR COMMUNICATIONS
Hood's plan to transfer the campaign to northern Georgia--Made partly subordinate to
Beauregard--Forrest on a raid--Sherman makes large detachments--Sends
Thomas to Tennessee--Hood across the Chattahoochee--Sherman follows--Affair at Allatoona--Planning the March to the Sea--Sherman at Rome--Reconnoissance down the Coosa--Hood at Resaca--Sherman in pursuit--Hood retreats down the Chattooga valley--We follow in two columns--Concentrate at Gaylesville--Beauregard and Hood at Gadsden--Studying the situation--Thomas's advice--Schofield rejoins--Conference regarding the Twenty-third Corps--Hood marches on Decatur--His explanation of change of plan--Sherman marches back to Rome--We are ordered to join Thomas--Hood repulsed at Decatur marches to Tuscumbia--Our own march begun--Parting with Sherman--Dalton--Chattanooga--Presidential election--Voting by steam--Retrospect of October camp-life--Camp sports--Soldiers' pets--Story of a lizard.
General Hood had been pretty well informed of what was going on in Sherman's army, and was disposed to take advantage of the reduction of our forces by furloughs and the absence of numerous officers on leave. The Confederate President had visited him, and changes in his army had been ordered which made the organization more to his mind.
Hardee being sent to
Savannah to command a department on the coast,
General Cheatham succeeded to the command of the corps. Hood proposed to cross the Chattahoochee some twenty miles west of Atlanta, and move on Powder Springs, where he could reach the railroad and force Sherman to attack him or to move south. In the latter case he proposed to follow, and had urged that the forces in central Georgia be increased so as to resist Sherman's progress if it should be toward Augusta or Macon. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. ii. pp. 847, 862.]
Mr. Davis had been convinced by the campaign just ended that Hood's fiery energy needed the guidance of a better military intellect, and the plan of placing a common head over Hood's and Taylor's departments had occurred to him. Beauregard was the officer whose rank, next to Johnston, indicated him for the command, but he was disaffected toward Davis, and his friends in Congress were active in opposition to the government. [Footnote: _Ante_, p. 183.] General Lee had suggested Beauregard to take Hood's place, and had sounded him as to his willingness to do so after discussing with him the whole situation in Georgia. Lee felt able, thereupon, to assure the President that
P. G. T. Beauregard would accept the assignment; saying, "I think you may feel assured that he understands the general condition of affairs, the difficulties with which they are surrounded, and the importance of exerting all his energies for their improvement." [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. ii. p. 846.] But having learned Hood's plan of operating upon Sherman's communications, and being impressed anew by his visit with the energy of Hood's nature, which quickly reacted from the discouragement following the fall of Atlanta, he partly accepted Lee's suggestion, modifying it by giving Beauregard the supreme direction of affairs in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, whilst leaving Hood free to carry out the plan of campaign which he proposed, and to retain the command of his army except when Beauregard might be actually present with it. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 880.]
General Forrest with his cavalry corps had already been ordered to make a raid upon the railways in Tennessee in pursuance of a suggestion of his own, and on September 16th he started northward. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 818, 835.] This plan very well accorded with Hood's, and when the latter determined, later in the campaign, himself to invade Tennessee, Forrest's orders were extended so as to direct a junction with him. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. p. 843.]
On September 24th Sherman learned that Forrest was at Athens and
Pulaski on the railway from Decatur to Nashville. He had sent a detachment to burn bridges on the Memphis road also, and the whole of middle and western Tennessee was afire with the excitement of the new raid by the doughty Confederate leader. He received the surrender of the garrison at Athens without serious resistance, but by the time he approached Pulaski, burning bridges as he went,
General Rousseau, who was in command of the district, had concentrated force enough to repulse him. [Footnote: _Id_., pt. ii. pp. 450, 455, 456, 870, 876, 879.] After that Forrest attacked no considerable post, and did not reach Sherman's principal line of communications, but making circuitous routes in the region about
Columbia, finally retreated across the Tennessee River at Florence on the 5th and 6th of October. [Footnote: _Id_., pt. i. p. 547.]
On getting the news of Forrest's raid, Sherman sent back two divisions of the
Army of the Cumberland to Chattanooga, and one from the Army of the Tennessee to Rome. He also sent General Thomas to Chattanooga to bring into co-operation all the troops posted in Tennessee and northern Georgia. This scattering of his forces to protect his railways proves how low an estimate he put upon the efficiency of Hood's army, and his willingness to receive an attack from it. When he moved northward after Hood, a week later, he left the Twentieth Corps to hold Atlanta, and had with him little more than half of the forces with which he had made the Atlanta campaign; but they proved enough.
My own command had been quietly resting at Decatur with nothing more exciting to do than to send out foraging parties and reconnoissances, when on Friday, September 30th, I got a dispatch from General Sherman which put us on the alert. He told me that Hood had part of his infantry over the Chattahoochee, and was evidently combining desperate measures to destroy our railways. After referring to his arrangements to checkmate Forrest, he gave the "nub" of his own ideas as follows: "I may have to make some quick countermoves east and southeast. Keep your folks ready to send baggage into Atlanta and to start on short notice.... There are fine corn and potato fields about Covington and the Ocmulgee bottoms. We are well supplied with bread, meat, etc., but forage is scarce, and may force us to strike out. If we make a countermove, I will go out myself with a large force and take such a route as will supply us and at the same time make Hood recall the whole or part of his army." [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. ii. p. 540.] I answered that we would be "minute men," and also informed General Schofield by telegraph that we might resume active work any moment. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 541.]
Next day Sherman had evidence that Hood was crossing the Chattahoochee with his whole army, and wrote to
General Howard and to me that if Hood should swing over to the Alabama railroad and try to get into Tennessee, he would, if
Grant consented, draw to him the troops south of the Etowah, leave Thomas with the rest, and make for Savannah or
Charleston by way of Milledgeville and Millen. By the destruction of the east and west roads, Georgia would thus become a break in the Confederacy. But should Hood move upon our communications between the Chattahoochee and the Etowah, he would turn upon him. [Footnote: _Id_., vol. xxxix. pt. iii. p. 6.] The latter was the movement Hood actually made, and the March to the Sea was postponed for a few weeks.
I need not repeat here the details of the October campaign, which I have given elsewhere. [Footnote: See "Atlanta," chap. xvii.; and for the growth and completion of the plan of the March to the Sea, reference is made to the Life of General Sherman (Great Commanders Series), chap. x.] On the 2d Sherman was aware that the enemy was advancing on Marietta; but far from hurrying to anticipate him there, we were held back yet another day that Hood might be lured far enough to let us strike him in rear. General Corse at Rome was ordered to reinforce Allatoona pass and hold stubbornly there, [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. p. 8.] and then, on the 3d and 4th, Sherman was in motion, trying to catch the enemy in that rough country on the border of the Etowah. On the 2d I had sent a division to make a strong reconnoissance eastward to Flat Rock, and a brigade to Stone Mountain to make sure that no enemy was near us in that direction, [Footnote: _Id_., p. 33.] and on its return we followed the rest of the army northward,
Slocum's corps remaining in garrison at Atlanta, as before mentioned.
There had been continuous heavy rains, and all the rivers were swollen, which retarded Hood's movements as well as ours; but he showed commendable prudence, did not advance with his main body beyond Dallas, and operated by detachments on the railway, which he broke near Ackworth, but did no serious damage. On the 5th Corse and Tourtelotte made their fine defence of the position at Allatoona against French's division, and on the 6th my reconnoissance proved that Hood had concentrated again in the neighborhood of Dallas. The two most important bridges on the railroad were now safe, those crossing the Chattahoochee and the Etowah; and as Forrest had failed to reach the line from Chattanooga to Nashville, Hood's plan of campaign had failed and Sherman's communications were unbroken. Unwilling to confess defeat, Hood now determined to make a considerable circuit westward, cross the Coosa below Rome and march by the Chattooga valley upon Resaca, where the bridge over the Oostanaula was next in importance to that at Allatoona. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. p. 804.] As the enemy's first movement from Dallas was westward, Sherman had to look for information as to his further course. Strengthening the garrison at Rome, he waited at Allatoona for news, discussing with General Grant by telegraph his own plan of
marching upon Savannah if Hood moved far westward. The latter repeated to his government his purpose to follow Sherman if he did so. [Footnote: _Ibid_.] The storms and floods had done much more damage than Hood, several of the large bridges being injured and smaller ones carried away.
At Allatoona Sherman's headquarters were close to my own, and he opened to me his views of the situation. He did not propose to leave the railway line to follow Hood far; but if the opportunity offered to fight him near the line, he would seize it. If Hood entered Tennessee near the Georgia line, he would follow and destroy him; but he was already confident that his enemy would not dare do this, and pointed to Muscle Shoals as the nearest point at which he was likely to cross the Tennessee River. He hoped that
General Grant would consent, in this case, to his own
march on Savannah, and promised to lead Hood a lively chase if the latter turned back to follow him. Once a new base on the sea was reached, he would turn upon and crush his opponent.
His plan had a personal interest for myself, for as we were out of communication with General Schofield and might march southward any day, he thought it probable that he should separate the Twenty-third Corps from the Department of the Ohio and take it with him, making my command of it permanent. He assumed that Schofield would prefer to remain in the higher position of department commander, rather than leave it for the field command of the corps, which was a good deal weakened by the hard service of the summer.
From the 10th to the 13th of October the army moved in echelon by short marches to Rome, and on the date last named I was ordered to push a reconnoissance with the corps and General Kenner Garrard's division of cavalry down the Coosa far enough to settle the question where Hood had gone. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. p. 230.] We started early and made thirteen miles in the forenoon, routing the enemy's cavalry holding that road and capturing two cannon. It was definitely learned that Hood had taken up the pontoon bridge and gone north. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 250.] Meantime the enemy had appeared at Resaca, and as soon as it was certain that they were in force Sherman put everything in rapid motion in that direction. He had warned Thomas on the 11th, and directed him to reinforce Chattanooga and Bridgeport. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 251.] There was again a chance that Hood might be caught between the forces. He had approached Resaca from the west, by the north bank of the Oostanaula, on the 12th, but his summons of the place being defied, he did not assault, but after some threatening demonstrations marched north to Dalton. He plainly felt that he had no time to spare, but it was just as plain that in his haste he was accomplishing nothing.
My march down the Coosa had put me in the rear on the movement north from Rome. I reached Resaca on the 15th, in the early afternoon, having received authority from Sherman to pass the trains and push forward. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 294.] The Army of the Cumberland had followed Hood to Dalton and Buzzard Roost, the Army of the Tennessee had driven his cavalry out of Snake Creek Gap and occupied it, and we were halted at Resaca to support either. General Schofield had reached Chattanooga on the 13th, and was given command of all troops in that vicinity by
General Thomas, who was at Nashville. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. p. 253.] Schofield had in hand the two divisions which had been sent back from Atlanta a fortnight before, besides the garrison; and other troops were on the way to him from Nashville. But communication with Sherman was interrupted, and Hood had better knowledge of the full situation. Learning that Chattanooga was held strongly, Hood marched from Buzzard Roost by way of Villanow over Taylor's Ridge into the Chattooga valley, up which he had just come. Prisoners told us that his army was out of provisions, as they had failed in the hope of capturing depots of stores. [Footnote: _Id._, pt. i. p. 791.] He must get back within reach of his own depots. Gadsden had been made a temporary base, and he made haste to reach the valley of the Coosa, in which it lay.
Sherman had wished that the rumor would turn out to be true which gave the neighborhood of Bridgeport as the place at which Hood would enter Tennessee; [Footnote: _Id._, pt. iii. pp. 296, 312.] but if he did so anywhere from Guntersville to Chattanooga, it would be possible to head him off by General Thomas's forces whilst our principal army closed in upon him from the rear. During the 16th Snake Creek Gap was cleared of the timber blockade which Hood had made to delay our chase, and my corps reached Villanow. The Army of the Tennessee was at Ships Gap, and that of the Cumberland in close support. We here learned definitely that Stewart's corps of Hood's army had marched southward from Villanow to Subligna on the east side of Taylor's Ridge, and the main body from Lafayette to Summerville on the west side. [Footnote: _Id._, pp. 310, 311.]
After a day spent in reconnoissances and renewal of communications with Chattanooga and Nashville, we marched again on the 18th, Sherman leading the main army from Lafayette southward, whilst he ordered me to march from Villanow by way of Subligna to Gover's (or Mattox's) Gap, and thence to Summerville, following the enemy's corps which had gone that way. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. p. 325.] We reached Subligna at noon, driving vedettes and patrols of the enemy's cavalry as we advanced. From Subligna I sent Major Wells of my staff with a regiment over the mountain by a bridle path, to inform General Sherman of our progress. He had an unexpectedly long and rough march, but reported as ordered. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 351.] We continued the march to Gover's Gap, drove away a cavalry rear-guard, and repaired the road which ran along a bench cut in the precipitous hillside. An easy way of communication with Sherman in the Chattooga valley was thus opened, after a day's march of twenty-two miles. General Kenner Garrard with his cavalry had followed a parallel valley further east, toward Dirt-town, and joined me at Gover's Gap soon after my arrival there. We now marched through Melville to Gaylesville, where the army was concentrated on the 20th. The Twenty-third Corps was placed in advance, near Blue Pond, where a bridge over the Chattooga was to be rebuilt, and one division was sent to Cedar Bluff, a pretty village on the Coosa, where it covered the main road down the valley from Rome to Gadsden. I made a reconnoissance to Center, over the Gadsden road, and learned definitely that the whole army of Hood was at Gadsden. [Footnote: _Id._, pp. 346, 357, 359, 361, 364, 369. 376, 399, 423.]
Sherman's wish that Hood would cross the Tennessee near Stevenson was very sincere. He approved the movement by Schofield to occupy Trenton with the two divisions still under his command, but he disapproved the directions given by Thomas to place troops at Caperton's Ferry, which was on the direct road to Stevenson. He wanted that door left open till Hood should have part, at least, of his army over the Tennessee River. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 335.] He felt so sure, however, that Hood would not fall into such a trap, that his dispatches reiterate the opinion that if the enemy crossed the river at all, it would be west of Huntsville or at Muscle Shoals. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. pp. 333, 357, 395.] He was turning his whole mind to the March to the Sea, and studying the contingencies which it involved. In a long dispatch to
Halleck on the 19th [Footnote: _Id._, pp. 357-358.] he had mapped out his general scheme, and gave his reasons why he must have alternates in his choice of objectives, though his real aim would be Savannah. He therefore named, as the points where the Navy should watch for him, Charleston, Savannah,
Mobile, saying, "I will turn up somewhere." On the 22d, writing to
General Grant, he reviewed the ground and the effect which it would have on the Confederacy when the Georgia railroads were destroyed and he should "bring up with 60,000 men on the seashore about Savannah or Charleston," concluding, "I think this far better than defending a long line of railroad." [Footnote: _Id._, p. 395.] At the outset Thomas had advised Sherman, in view of the fact that General Grant had not yet been able to carry out his plan to take southern seaports as a preliminary to an advance beyond Atlanta, to "adopt Grant's idea of turning Wilson loose rather than undertake the plan of a march with the whole force through Georgia to the sea." [Footnote: Id., p. 334.]
General James H. Wilson had been sent from Grant's army to be chief of cavalry with Sherman, and Thomas's suggestion was that until Grant's part of the general plan should be accomplished, activity should be limited to the defence of the territory already occupied, except as cavalry raids might harry the Confederate country. But Sherman answered, "To pursue Hood is folly, for he can twist and turn like a fox and wear out any army in pursuit. To continue to occupy long lines of railroad simply exposes our small detachments to be picked up in detail and forces me to make countermarches to protect lines of communication. I know I am right in this, and shall proceed to its maturity." [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. p. 378.] He set to work to organize the two armies in such force that Thomas should feel content with his means of meeting Hood if the latter should not turn back after the Georgia column.
General Schofield had been feeling his way southward with Wagner's and Morgan's divisions, and on the 19th Sherman ordered him to move by the most direct route to Alpine, overtaking the column which was marching on the west side of the Chattooga valley, as I was doing on the east. Sherman added the direction to keep the command as it was till they should meet in person. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 366.] This had reference to his purposes in regard to myself and the Twenty-third Corps, which have been mentioned.
On the 21st Schofield's column reached Alpine, and he rode forward to Sherman's headquarters at Gaylesville. I had gone up from my own headquarters to make some report to Sherman, and was with him when Schofield arrived. Our greeting was a warm one. The present situation and what had occurred since the parting at Atlanta was of course the first topic of conversation, and I had the keen pleasure of hearing Sherman praise the handling of the corps during the past months in much stronger terms than he had used to me alone. Then followed the forecast of the future. Sherman put strongly his belief that Hood would not cross the Tennessee above the Shoals, and his purpose to
march to Savannah as soon as the enemy should be definitely committed to a movement across Alabama. He then touched upon the details of organization, and referring to the fact that the corps was weak in numbers and that it would be perhaps unpleasant for Schofield to leave the command of his department for an indefinite period, suggested that he should consent to the temporary absence of the corps. Schofield very promptly replied that he should prefer almost any alternative to the mere administrative work of the department and its garrisons in East Tennessee and Kentucky. He said that if Hood should not follow the southern movement, but should turn his whole force upon Thomas with desperate purpose to drive him out of Tennessee, another veteran corps, though a small one, might make all the difference between defeat and victory. Sherman replied that he would consider the whole matter carefully and adjourned the discussion, requesting that Schofield should confer fully with me.
We continued the conference at the corps headquarters, and I agreed with General Schofield that no military duty was so little attractive as the perplexing semi-political administration at the rear, adding that till the war ended I desired to be with the biggest and most active column in the west. I frankly said that it was this consideration that made with me the great attraction of the arrangement Sherman had suggested. Schofield expressed the strong conviction that Hood would not follow Sherman, and that in middle Tennessee the real fighting must be done. He had no idea of putting the corps in garrison anywhere, but felt sure that Thomas must concentrate everything he might have for most active field work, and that in strictest military sense our task, if we were there, would be not less important or less honorable than that of our comrades who marched eastward. It would, besides, give us the opportunity to fill up the corps with the new regiments that were coming forward, when otherwise, with the expiration of the term of some we had and the casualties of a new campaign, we should probably find it reduced to a single division. Schofield's clearly expressed purpose to seek the most active field work with Thomas in a campaign against Hood's army if we went back to middle Tennessee brought me to agreement with his views, and I promised to support them in my next interview with General Sherman, as I did. I still look back with pleasure to this incident as proof of the hearty comradeship between Sherman and his subordinates, which continued to be shown toward me by both him and Schofield to the end. [Footnote: My memory is supported, in this matter, by home letters written at the time.]
Sherman postponed his decision till he was quite sure what course Hood would take, for the latter was concentrating his army at Gadsden and having a conference with Beauregard on the day of the interviews on our side which I have narrated. After agreeing with his immediate superior upon the plan of entering Tennessee at or near Guntersville, Hood started on the morning of the 22d, but in accordance with confidential directions he gave his corps commanders, his column changed direction at Benettsville, taking the Decatur road, which there branched to the left and forced the marching westward. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. pp. 831, 835, 81, 843.] The gloss which he afterward put on the matter was that he changed his plan in consequence of information that Forrest could not join him as he expected. [Footnote: Advance and Retreat, p. 20.] This does not bear examination. Forrest was, under the orders of General Taylor, preparing a raid into western Tennessee to bring out all the supplies that country contained and to break up the railway to Memphis, sending the iron to repair the road in the vicinity of Tuscumbia, where the base for the new operations in middle Tennessee would be. On the 20th Hood had himself informed Taylor of his purpose to cross at Guntersville, [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. p. 835.] and
Gen. Wheeler's cavalry was relied upon to cover the movement till middle Tennessee should be reached. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 845.] On the 22d Taylor was directed to have Forrest open communication with Hood "by letter or otherwise," and act for the time under his orders, [Footnote: _Ibid._] but no immediate interference with what Forrest was doing in western Tennessee was indicated. The only reasonable interpretation of Hood's conduct is that when he faced the consequences of a movement to Guntersville with Sherman at Gaylesville ready to close the _cul de sac_ behind him, even his audacity shrunk from the plan, and he proved the truth of Sherman's prediction that he would not dare to do it. Beauregard explicitly says that the change in Hood's plan was made after leaving Gadsden, where it had been definitely arranged. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. i. p. 662.]
On our side several days were spent in watchful observation. I returned to my division, Schofield resumed the command of the Army of the Ohio, and the divisions he had led from Chattanooga joined the Fourth and Fourteenth Corps, to which they belonged. [Footnote: _Id._, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. pp. 401, 402.] Thomas was informed that the Fourth Corps would be sent back to him with about 5000 men from other commands who were not quite in condition for the March to the Sea, but who would be fit for post garrison. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 408.] Sherman's recommendations for promotions earned in the past campaigns were made on the 24th, in urgent and explicit terms, endorsing the approval expressed by the separate army commanders, and saying that if the law did not allow the addition to the number of general officers, he believed that "the exigencies of the country would warrant the muster out of the same number of generals now on the list that have not done service in the past year." We who were thus recommended thought we had the right to feel that the terms of approval used by such a commander gave a military standing hardly less than the actual gift of a grade from the government. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 413. See Appendix C for the language used by Sherman, and for the recommendation of General Schofield.]
On the 25th reports came from the light-draft gunboats patrolling the Tennessee River that the enemy was making demonstrations at several points below Guntersville, [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. p. 436.] and next day Sherman ordered the Fourth Corps to march to Chattanooga and report to General Thomas. He also issued his order that "in the event of military movements or the accidents of war separating him from his military division," Thomas should "exercise command over all troops and garrisons not absolutely in the presence of the general-in-chief." [Footnote: Id., p. 442.] He pointed out to Thomas that Chattanooga and Decatur were the points to be held "to the death;" that it would not be wise to move into West Tennessee unless he knew that the enemy had followed south, as he thought they would do when they found him starting from Atlanta; and that when Thomas was ready for aggressive movements, his line of operations should be against Selma. [Footnote: Id., pp. 448, 449.]
On the 27th of October Schofield wrote to Sherman, giving details of the reduction in numbers of the divisions of the corps now in the field, and renewing his urgency for some arrangement to increase its force. [Footnote: Id., p. 468.] The news from the west now made it certain that Hood was before Decatur, and Sherman issued orders on the 28th for the army to march to Rome. His purpose in this was double. He would try the effect on the enemy of the apparent start toward the east, whilst he concentrated his army on the railroad which was now repaired and which gave him the means of rapidly reinforcing General Thomas to any extent that might become necessary. He informed
Halleck that he had sent the Fourth Corps back and that he might send ours also, though he still thought it probable that his movement on Macon would make Hood "let go." He urged the hastening of reinforcements to Thomas. Rosecrans promised to send General A. J. Smith with his two divisions back from Missouri, and Sherman only waited to get his sick and wounded to the rear, and to accumulate at Atlanta the supplies he reckoned it necessary to take with him. His determination to send us back to join the Fourth Corps was shown by his confidential dispatch to Colonel Beckwith, his chief commissary, that he might reduce his estimates for rations to enough for 50,000 men to go south. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. pp. 476, 477.]
Our orders to march came at noon, and we started at once, with the information that from Rome we should go back to Tennessee. [Footnote: Id., pt. i. p. 793.] In the evening of the same day Sherman definitely advised Thomas of his decision to send Schofield to him, and the outline of the arrangements for the new campaign was completed. [Footnote: Id., pt. iii. p. 484.] General R. S. Granger went with reinforcements to the aid of Colonel Doolittle, who commanded the post at Decatur, and that place was held against Hood, who was too short of supplies to delay long. He hastened on to Tuscumbia, where his new base was established, and where he halted to collect the means for the invasion of Tennessee, near the great bend of the river. He first gave orders to lay his pontoons at Bainbridge, at the foot of Muscle Shoals, the place named by Sherman as his probable crossing; but the lack of supplies and the desire for better preparation prevented, and he moved on, reaching Tuscumbia on the 30th. [Footnote: Id., p. 866.]
Our march to Rome was lengthened by our taking the right, leaving the more direct roads for other parts of the army. We crossed the Coosa, following the road to Jacksonville for five miles, and then turned east on the so-called river road. This, however, proved impassable, and, next morning, we were obliged to retrace our steps to the Jacksonville road, and going an hour's march on it reach the road from Centre to Cave Spring, which we followed to the latter place, which takes its name from a remarkable spring breaking out beneath a mountain, a considerable brook at once. Some sixty feet up the hill-side is the mouth of a cave at the bottom of which is the underground stream, which finds its way out by another fissure. The village was the rendezvous where Beauregard overtook Hood on the evening of the 9th of October, and held their first consultation in regard to the campaign. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. i. p. 796.] It was a pretty place which had not suffered the ravages of war; the situation was a lovely one, and there were there a public Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb and some other public buildings. Our countermarch had lengthened the day's journey to twenty-two miles.
On the 30th my division marched to Rome and encamped on the Calhoun road, two or three miles northeast of the town. At Rome I made my farewell visit to General Sherman at his headquarters. He talked freely of his plans to the group of officers who were present, and in the final hand-shaking with me said that Hood had now put so large a space between them that the March to the Sea could not be interfered with, and that whatever hard fighting was to come in the campaign would fall to the lot of us who were going back to middle Tennessee. [Footnote: The fullest resume of Sherman's views when on the point of starting is found in his letter to Grant of November eth. Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. pp. 658-661.] Our movement northward was through Calhoun and Resaca to Tilton, where we were to take railway trains for Nashville; but the rolling stock was overtasked in the rush of work to complete Sherman's preparations, and we marched on to Dalton. An autumnal rainstorm had come on, and though we had good camping ground, our impatience at the delay made our stay of three or four days at the ruined village anything but pleasant. On the 3d of November I noted in my pocket-diary that it was one of those rainy, gusty days "when the smoke from the camp-fire fills your eyes whichever side of the fire you get." As we had gone northward we met large numbers of officers and men who had been on leave, and who were now hurrying to join their commands. Two of my own staff rejoined us in this way, and a brand-new brass band that had been recruited for Casement's brigade came also, making that command proud as peacocks for a while.
Our stay at Dalton gave me the opportunity in the intervals of the storm to ride out and carefully examine the positions the enemy had held at the beginning of May. In the progress of an active campaign the soldier rarely has an opportunity to make such an examination of fortified positions out of which the enemy has been manoeuvred, and I had eagerly seized every chance to do this interesting and instructive work as we had come back through our lines about Marietta and Allatoona. Here at Dalton Johnston's positions had been plainly impregnable, and I congratulated myself that my division had not been ordered to assault them when we made our reconnoissance in force, before Sherman began the turning movement through Snake Creek Gap.
Whilst waiting for our railway trains we heard of Hood's demonstration at Decatur, and of his repulse and his march toward Florence. We knew that he had not yet crossed the Tennessee, and that our delay was not causing embarrassment to General Thomas at Nashville. I got one of my brigades away on November 6th, and the others on the 7th, going with Casement's, which was the last. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. pp. 655, 673.] As we ran into Chattanooga, we were all alert to see the place which had become of such historical importance, for we had advanced into Georgia in the spring by roads far to the east, and I had never visited it. We reached the town just as the sun was setting and the long storm was breaking. My headquarters were in a freight car, and with the side doors slid wide open, we sat on our camp-stools in the doorway watching our progress. Fort Phelps on its isolated hill stood up black and sharp against the western sky, which was gray-clouded, with a long rift, blood red where the sun was breaking through, whilst still further to the left the huge shoulder of Lookout Mountain threw its deep shadows over the landscape. From the other side a fine reach of the Tennessee River opened before us, backed by the mountainous ridges on the north, gleaming in the level sunlight.
We did not leave our train, but after a short delay started again for Nashville. The crowded state of the road made frequent halts necessary, and when day broke we had made only eight miles. As we ran between the high hills, they were in their most gorgeous autumn dress; and, free from care, we enjoyed it all as a holiday outing, calling each other's attention to every new combination of mountain and river, and of changing schemes of brilliant color. It was the Presidential election-day, and in accordance with the provisions of the statutes, we opened the polls in my box car, and the officers and men voted at the halts of the train when they could get to the voting place. Colonel Doolittle of the Eighteenth Michigan, commandant of the post at Decatur, joined us at Stevenson, coming into my car to vote. From him we learned the details of Hood's attempt upon the Decatur post, and got interesting news, throwing light upon the situation before us. At my invitation he remained with us till we reached Nashville, and the acquaintance thus formed led to an arrangement for his temporary service with me after the battle of Franklin. As I wrote home, we voted by steam for "A. Linkum," seeing the end of the war manifestly approaching. The election for Ohio State officers had occurred in October when we were on the march after Hood, and at a noon halt we turned an ambulance into a polling booth in a grove on the banks of the Etowah River, where I voted with one of the Ohio regiments.
Our little October campaign had been a good example of what soldiers regard as pleasant work. There had been constant activity, with no severe fighting, and the weather had been, for the most part, magnificent. The rains had ceased at the end of the first week of the month, and from that time till we halted from our chase on the banks of the Coosa in the edge of Alabama we had a succession of bright, cool days, and comfortable nights. It had been like a hunt for big game on a grand scale, with excitement enough to keep everybody keyed up to a high pitch of physical enjoyment, ready for every call to bodily exertion. The foliage was ripening and changing in the equable autumnal airs without frost, and the results were often very surprising and very beautiful. The gum-tree [Footnote: Liquidambar Styraciflua.] is very common in the open fields of that part of Georgia, and each fine rounded mass had its own special tint, bright crimson, green-bronze, maroon, or pure green; and when a camp-fire was lighted in a grove of such trees the evening effect was a thing to remember for a lifetime. The regimental camps were all alive with diversions of different sorts from the time of the halt at the end of a march till tattoo sounded. Each had its trained pet animals, and the soldiers exhausted their skill and patience in teaching these varied tricks. One regiment had a pair of bull-terrier dogs that played a game which never failed to amuse. At a signal one of the dogs would seize a firebrand by the unburnt end and start off on a run through the camp; the other would follow at speed, trying to trip up the first, to collar him or push him over, and so force him to drop the brand. The second would then grasp it and the chase would be renewed, doubling in and out, over logs, or through a group of lounging men, scattering them right and left, the yelp of the chasing dog accompanying the blazing meteor as it cut odd figures in the darkness, and the shouting laughter of the men encouraging the dogs to new efforts to outdo each other. The intelligence of the dogs in playing the game with apparent recklessness, yet without getting burnt, was something wonderful.
I had myself an interesting experience with a beautiful little creature. Coming one day suddenly into my tent, I surprised a little gold and green lizard on my camp desk. The desk was a small portable one, with lid falling to make the writing-table, set on a trestle, and my appearance scared the little animal into a pigeon-hole, which it took for a way of escape. I sat down on my camp stool in front of the desk, and resumed my writing, watching, also, to see what my prisoner would do. Its little jewel eyes shone in the recess of its prison cell, and soon it cautiously came to the front; but the first move of my hand toward it made it dodge back into the darkness. Two or three times this was done, and I got no nearer to it; so I changed my tactics. I placed my hand against the next pigeon-hole, extending one finger over the occupied one, and waiting in perfect quiet for a few moments, my beauty came slowly forward over the paper files to the mouth of the pigeon-hole near my finger. With great caution and gentleness I stroked its head and it remained quiet. A few more strokes and it seemed pleased and rapidly grew tame. It ceased to be afraid of my motions, and did not try to get away. At intervals, as I sat, the acquaintance was renewed, and the little thing seemed to become fond of me, running about on my papers, climbing my arm to my shoulder, and running back to its home if any one entered the tent. In short, I had followed the example of the private soldiers and had a pet. When we marched I put it on my hat rim as I mounted my horse, thinking it would soon leave me; but it did not. It sat on my hat-crown like a most gorgeous aigrette, or took a little tour around the hat-band or down on my shoulders. I forgot it when busy, but it stayed by, and at the end of a march, when my tent was pitched again and my desk in the usual place, it resumed its home there and thrived on the flies it caught. It was with me for some weeks and became known at headquarters as an attache of the staff. The day we followed Hood westward from Resaca through Snake Creek Gap, I had dismounted, and was talking with General Whitaker, commanding a brigade in the Fourth Corps, whose men with mine were cutting out the timber blockade in the Gap. I had no thought of my lizard, but one of his orderlies caught sight of it on my shoulder. With the common prejudice among the soldiers that the harmless thing was a deadly poisonous reptile, he stood a moment staring and half transfixed, thinking me in deadly peril. Then, with a jump, he struck it off my shoulder with his open hand, and stamped it dead with his heavy boot heel, sure he had saved my life. But when one of my attendants exclaimed reproachfully, "There, you've killed the general's pet," the poor fellow slunk away, the picture of shame and remorse. Pets were sacred by the law of the camp, and he felt and looked as if he were a murderer. No doubt he was also stupefied at the idea that such a thing could be a pet, but in the matter of pets, as in some other things, he bowed to the law, "His not to reason why!"