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CHAPTER X X I.

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PERRYVILLE TO NASHVILLE.

AM expected to furnish that part of the history of the 36th Regiment Illinois Volunteers which came under my own observation, extending from the battle of Perryville, in October, 1862, to the occupation of Columbia, in November, 1864.

My connection with the regiment really began with a letter from Capt. A. M. Hobbs, of Company E, dated Rienzi, July 27th, 1862, informing me of a vacancy in the office of Chaplain, and that it was the unanimous desire of the officers of the regiment that I should accept it. This letter was received during the excitement which followed the Presidential call for 300,000 more troops, and while aiding to procure fresh enlistments in what afterward was known as the 89th Illinois Regiment. Coming at such a time and entirely unsought, this invitation seemed to deserve special attention, and as I gave some encouragement that I would accept, a recommendation, signed by Col. Greusel and every field and line officer, was forwarded to the Governor, and a commission, dated August 18th, was subsequently issued.

BOOKS AND PAPERS FOR THE REGIMENT.

291

Among other preparations for my work, I wrote to the friends of the regiment in nearly every place that had furnished companies, inviting them to aid me in supplying the regiment with suitable reading. A cheerful response was received, and before leaving Chicago I was able to make arrangements with Rev. Mr. Savage for a regular supply of soldiers' papers and books. B. F. Jacobs, Esq., also gave me three hundred soldiers' hymn books, which we afterward found a most valuable acquisition. Lieut. Geo. A. Willis (who was on leave of absence) and I, started from Aurora Monday morning, Sept. 29th, intending to join the regiment at Louisville. On Wednesday morning, Oct. 1st, I started alone from Chicago, Lieut. W. having missed the train. On reaching Louisville, on Thursday morning, it was found that the regiment had marched on the 1st, in the army under Gen. Buell, to attack and drive Bragg out of Kentucky. A detachment of the 36th, under Lieutenant Wakeman, was left in charge of the camp, and with them we took up our quarters until our horses should arrive. Here I caught my first glimpse of the stir, bustle and confusion of army life, as I saw the streets thronged with officers, soldiers, horses, mules, wagons and negroes. I soon found, too, that what many thought would be a disadvantage, my being attached to one of the old regiments, was, in fact, a very great advantage, and I had many reasons afterward for being confirmed in this opinion. On the Sabbath, I distributed reading matter and preached in the afternoon in a neighboring church, having for the first time in my life a congregation exclusively of men, and all of them United States soldiers. A mess in one of the companies, noted for their excellent forag ing and cooking powers, invited me to dine, and certainly we had a sumptuous entertainment. I

very wisely abstained from making any enquiries about the magnificent turkey which occupied the place of honor at the table !

We heard from time to time by orderlies who came in, that the regiment was marching south, and as soon as our horses arrived we made preparations to follow. It was not, however, until Thursday morning, Oct. 9th, that we could start-taking the Bardstown pike. In this first day we rode about thirty miles, through a most beautiful and fertile country, abounding in rich and productive farms. We suffered, however, from the intense heat and found a great scarcity of water. Towards night the country became more hilly, and there were rumors of a battle which it was said had been fought. We made several attempts to find lodging, but the people were suspicious and declined to receive us. At last, as it grew late, a family by the name of Evans reluctantly consented that we might stay with them. Evans was a southern sympathizer, while his wife was quite bitter; but they fed us well and gave us a good bed. Starting next morning, we reached Bardstown about ten o'clock and there learned many particulars of the battle, which had undoubtedly taken place.

We traveled on in a heavy rain until we reached Springfield, meeting by the way one of Col. Greusel's orderlies, from whom we learned that the 36th was in the fight-had stood their ground two hours, and had one hundred killed and wounded. We stayed over night at the same tavern—a big, uncomfortable house--where several of the Southern generals had lodged a few nights before.

The rain fell heavily, the trains were delayed, and we knew that the troops had no rations. Next morning we started forward and about one o'clock came upon the buildings occupied by our wounded men, left in charge of Dr. Pierce, many of whom we knew.

Here we learned all the particulars of the battle, and were thrilled with the stories each man had to tell. By-and-by we started forward, crossing the battle-field, on which were stretched a number of dead bodies—my first sight

ARRIVAL OF THE CHAPLAIN.

293

of a real field of battle. On reaching the corral near Perryville we bivouacked with the quarter-master's department and I took my first experience of sleeping out of doors. The blazing fires, the confused voices of men, the rattle of horses, mules and wagons, and over head the deep, dark sky, studded with quiet stars, altogether made a scene so novel and impressive, that I shall never forget it.

Next morning, which was Sunday, October 12th, we started to join the regiment, and after riding past long files of men marching or resting by the roadside, we came upon the 36th about two miles out. Willis was received with a shout, and I had a cordial welcome from the officers and such of the men as I was acquainted with. It was well for me that I did not learn until subsequently the real feelings of many on seeing a Chaplain appear among them. But long afterward, when our Sabbath services and other meetings, our papers and libraries had done their work, and we came to feel, from sharing in common danger and sufferings a tender interest in each other, both officers and men became more communicative, anil I learned how they felt during the first weeks of my Chaplaincy. Col. Miller, the year following, as we sat together in the beautiful chapel we had built at Cowan, told me that as the men were, that morning on which I arrived, without rations, and therefore peculiarly irritable, having been destitute for many months of any religious or refining influences, they vented their rage against the Government for sending them a chaplain instead of hardtack. One sergeant, notorious for his profanity, was especially loud in his denunciation, when Capt. Miller, who then commanded the regiment, threatened that if he uttered any such language in my hearing he would reduce him to the ranks. This closed his lips, and was a warning to others. Long afterwards the rough man delighted to tell me what a change had come over him about chaplains.

At eleven o'clock we halted, and immediately cattle, hogs, sheep, calves were slaughtered, and the hungry men relieved. Strict orders had been issued against this, but necessity knows no law, and the Generals did not interfere. The country through which we marched to Harrodsburg was rolling and varied, and the scenery delightful. We encamped for the night in a rain, but Capt. Hobbs procured me accommodation in a house near by. The next day we marched but a mile or two, with long hours of waiting by the roadside, and it seemed inevitable that the

enemy would escape. At night I stepped out of the Colonel's tent to take a look at the vast encampment, lighted up for miles around with camp-fires made of Kentucky rails, and I thought I had never seen a sight more grand and exciting. During the night several orders arrived looking to sharp work, but finally word came that the enemy had “skedaddled.”

The next day we passed through the most lovely country, studded with delightful residences, and entered Danville about eleven o'clock. This is one of the finest towns in Kentucky, one of the blue-grass region. The houses were attractive, the gardens and grounds laid out with great taste and planted with evergreens. But the brightest recollection of Danville is connected with the Ladies' Seminary, at the windows of which stood crowds of young ladies, whose variety of beautiful dresses gave them the appearance of bouquets of flowers, and whose loyalty was expressed by the waving of handkerchiefs and flags. Most heartily did the boys respond to their greeting. In the afternoon I rode forward with several officers to watch the novel process of shelling the enemy's rear, and next morning while doing the same thing, I caught sight of the retreating Rebels, and saw

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