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old Springfield, smooth-bore, rifled; while the last were the Springfield pattern of 1862. It was evident from this "that practice makes perfect."
The history of this company, in this respect, was that of the other companies of the regiment.
An instance of the marksmanship of the men, as well as the effectiveness of the rifles in use, was shown during the first day of battle at Resacca. Our lines were pushed up to the edge of a field, along the edge of which a creek, now dry, passed having washed out a channel, into which the regiment was placed. Beyond the field on a ridge, in the edge of the wood were the rebel rifle-pits. A rebel battery was at work off to our left at a long distance. The men had no orders to fire, but seeing the rebel gunners at work, the temptation was to level muskets at them. It was noticed that the rifles carried so well that the balls fell among the gunners, which fact was made evident from the dirt thrown up, as shown by the small clouds of dust.
The discovery of this fact caused a shout among the men, and a fusilade was opened on the gunners, and resulted in driving the same behind protection. That battery was practically silenced for that day, for no sooner did a gunner show his head than a volley of bullets came buzzing around his ears and he beat a retreat.
From Paris To Somerset—Burning Dr. Breckinridge's F£nce At Lexington — Our First March — Carrying Knapsacks — Camp Dick Robinson.
We left camp near Paris on December 1st, to join our brigade near Danville. The regiment was taken to Nicholasville by rail; thence to march where the brigade was encamped.
No restriction had been placed on baggage, and each man had an ample supply of things supposed to be needed. At Lexington the train was cut in two, as the grade was heavy thence to Nicholasville.
One part was left standing on the track untill the locomotive could return for it. The night was cold, and snow was falling. The men got off the train to look for something to make a fire with.
"Whose fence is this?" was asked the colored men who had come out to see the Yankee soldiers.
"Massa Breckinridge's," was the answer. This was sufficient; no one asked which one of the Breckinridges. The conclusion was at once reached that the fence belonged to John C. Breckinridge, the confederate general.
The fence changed into a gpod hot bonfire so rapidly, that it is useless to say how it was done. Even the cedar posts were wrenched out of the ground; for it was the settled determination not to leave a single post or board unconsumed. It was amusing to see with what pertinacity the men tugged, pulled, and twisted at a strong well-anchored post to get it out of the ground.
About midnight the locomotive returned to take our part of the train; but before we left, the fact became known that the fence we burned was not the property of General Breckinridge, but of Dr. Breckinridge, a professor in the Danville Theological Seminary, and one of the strong union men of Kentucky.
We had nothing to say in justification of the rash act, only that thereafter we made closer examination before proceeding to that kind of work.
The next morning the cars were unloaded, and affairs put in shape to make the march to our destination. The amount of stuff unloaded was really a subject to be amused at. It is safe to say, that the 14th Corps in the march from Chatanooga to Atlanta, had less effects to show. The articles brought on the train were really "too numerous to mention."
Johnny Doyle, officers' mess-cook, Company C, had a large "dry goods" box filled with nice, dry hickory wood, cut for the mess cook stove. The wood was so fine that it was a pity to leave it behind.
The colonel came along, as the teams were loading, and kept an eye on what was put on the wagons. When he saw the different articles which had come on the train, he " warmed up." He was usually very quiet, and choice in his use of good English; but here was an occasion where it cannot be said to be altogether wrong to depart from the instructions laid down in the decalogue. It was rumored, that on this occasion he did so depart, somewhat to the amusement of the men.
The wagons were loaded with effects, regarded as really necessary. We had only twenty-five strong six-horse teams connected with the regiment at this time. Everything was in readiness. "We move at six in the morning," were the orders promulgated by the adjutant.
The camp guard was in charge of the writer; the night was fearfully cold, so we took possession of a law office for headquarters. We dipped into the coal-bin lively, and made ourselves at home generally, using as much stationary as we found convenient.
Mr. West, Esq., was not at home; rumor said he was in the confederate army. We left our "compliments, with thanks," for the use of the office as camp guard headquarters.
The orders were to " rouse " the camp at four o'clock, and the camp was so " roused." It was nine o'clock when the march commenced. It is hard to understand why men had to be " hustled out" at such unchristian hours; and stand around camp-fires, when they might just as well have been permitted to sleep under their comfortable blankets for hours later and still be ready in good time to move.
The column headed for Camp Dick Robinson. The men carried knapsacks unreasonably heavily packed. Signs of weariness appeared before two hours' march had been made, and by the time camp was reached, at 4:30 p. m., the men were well fagged.
This was our first, and about the only day the men of the regiment carried knapsacks, during the term of service of the regiment. For some two years the knapsacks were carried in our wagons, and after that they gradually disappeared.
Camp Dick Robinson was located in an old forest. The trees looked as though they had seen several centuries; it is quite probable that Dan. Boone hunted deer in this wood. The place was selected to protect a bridge across the Kentucky River, near by; and likewise as a rendezvous prior to a move into Eastern Tennessee by way of the Cumberland Gap; an idea seriously contemplated at that time by the military authorities. The campaign which ended in the battle of Mill Spring was a step in that direction. But the shaping of events elsewhere made such a move undesirable at that time.
During the night that we encamped at Dick Robinson, a couiier came into camp with an order for the regiment to move straightway on Somerset and reinforce Schoepf, who was then confronting Zollicoffer on the Cumberland River. Tnis order changed our course, and we did not join our brigade until we met on the battlefield at Logan's Cross Road—known as the battle of Mill Spring.
In order to move with expedition, the knapsacks of the men were reduced in bulk and placed in wagons, so that they could move with ease and celerity.
The regiment left camp at noon, and made Lancaster by night.
The companies were quartered in churches and public halls. Some of the company officers accepted invitations to occupy soft Kentucky beds, which politeness forbade them not to refuse! They could not think of being so rude as to decline a pressing invitation in compliance with plain hints, that they wanted such an invitation! though they " hated ever so much " to be away from their commands; since there was no telling what a night might bring forth —being in the enemies' country!
The men enjoyed "roosting" on the soft side of a court house lobby bench, or on a Kentucky deacon's cushioned pew; but the mourner's bench was' scrupulously shunned! Those quartered in the court house determined to have some fun, and to that end organized a courts-martial to try a man charged with conduct unbecoming a gentleman. The specifications recited that on the march he was politely invited to ride in an ambulance and refused.
The examination of the witnesses was amusingly rediculous. The prisoner was found guilty, and sentenced to ride in an ambulance for two days. It would hardly be correct to say that the court room was quiet that night; there were too many boys, and too few soldiers in it.
Lancaster was a straggling village, built around the court house which stood in the centre of a four acre lot. The officers who had been " invited out" thought the citizens good union people; the men, however, held different opinions; and had it been fashionable then, as it was later, to hurt the secesh in " basket and store," they would have left Lancaster a cleaned out town.
We took up the line of march at an early hour and reached Stanford by noon. At this place we left the fine country known as the blue-grass region, and started for the hills. Night found us at the entrance of Hall's Gap. There were no churches and court houses to lodge in, so we had to pitch our tents.
From the top of the hills, gained after an ascent around the cove, one of the finest prospects in all Kentucky spread out to our view. Stanford, Lancaster, and Danville lay in the distance, within the blue-grass region which we now left behind us.