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EXPERIENCES OF A PRIVATE SOLDIER OF THE CIVIL WAR

PART TWO

 

By George Morgan Kirkpatrick

 

Special Thanks to Dan and Beverley Reigle for Submitting this Book

 

These letters which were written prior to, during and after the war, together with miscellany are self explanatory.

 

 

                                                                                    Evansville, Ind.

                                                                                    Dec. 30th, 1860

 

DEAR SISTER:

 

I take my pen in hand for the first time in my life to inform you how I am getting along, at present.

 

I have had a hard spell of sickness.  I am as saucy as ever.  I am going to school now to get my education for I ‘m going to make a drayman of myself.

 

I am going to send my kisses to you, and hope to come see you. Tell Fletcher that I want to see him, for he must be a man by this time.

 

Excuse this bad writing and spelling, for now I must bring my script of paper to a close.

 

Give my best respects to each and all.

 

Yours truly,

G.M. KIRKPATRICK.

 

* * * * *

 

 

“Washington"                                                               Evansville, Ind.

"Why dont you take it?"                                               Dec. 15th, 1861

Miss M.  J. Kirkpatrick.

 

DEAR SISTER:

 

I take my pen in hand to let you know that I am well at present, and have been well since I left home.

 

I like a soldier's life better every day.  We had a muddy time of it coming up here.  The mud was knee deep.  We camped three times.

 

I have told the boys I would like to go farther away from here as there is a fine camping ground in view. 

 

(Les Laurence is now sailing in the door of my tent.)

 

We have fine times here, drilling all day.  We have fireplaces in the tents, which makes them warm, and there is plenty of straw in my tent.

 

I have only been on double duty three times since leaving Henderson.  I have been in the guard house but once since enlisting.

 

Leslie L. send his regards to all.  He is fat and saucy and more devilish than ever.  He says he wishes he could get home Christmas.

 

George Deats sends best regards to Julia, and says he is going to get married as soon as the war is over.

 

I  like this place first rate.  There are about one thousand troops here.  I broke a tube in my gun and Liuet. Ohlmstead sent Luke down town to get it fixed.  He allowed it would cost about 30c out of my pocket money.

I would really like to come home Christmas.  I often think about Dad.  Here I do as I please, and if they don’t like it they can take less of it.

 

Our Captain is going to be our Chaplin.  Ohlmstead is Captain; Timble, our first Lieutenant, and our second Lieutenant is not elected.

 

Give my best to all the good looking girls there, and tell them that I expect to get home some time.  So no more at present.

 

Yours very truly,

GEORGE KIRKPATRICK

 

(it is time for dress parade).

Write soon.  I am glad to hear from Dad.

 

* * * * *

                                                                       

                                                                                    Shelbyville, Tenn.                                                                                                                          April 6th, 1862

 

DEAR SISTER:

 

I take my pen in hand to let you know that I am well and hope that this finds you in that state of health.  I received your letter yesterday and was glad to hear from you and the folks.

 

I have not got tired of soldiering yet and don’t think that I Will.  We are now at Shelbyville, about 60 miles from Nashville.  When I last wrote you I did not know that were going to leave  so soon, and I said that I was going over to see Bill.  An soon as I sealed the letter, I went up to the Cook’s tent, and there sat Bill.

 

I hardly knew him as he is so fat.  He said they had a hard time coming from Louisville, through the mud.

 

We had a pretty hard time coming here from Nashville, -and went out the road toward Alabama.  After we were five miles from town we had orders to go back, and so we went back and, started for Murfreesboro, thirty miles distant.

 

We stayed there about three weeks, and the last week Co. "A" had to go ten miles toward Nashville to guard a Railroad bridge.

 

We were there seven days and we eat a barrel of potatoes every day.

 

Then orders came that our regiment was to start from there at one o'clock.  We had to catch up with the others who had ten miles the start of us.  We started to Shelbyville, thirty miles away and reached within ten miles of it that day, and made it the next day.

 

It is one of the prettiest towns I ever saw.  I don’t think that we will stay here long for we will go about 

a hundred miles the next trip.

 

You want to know what I want done with my money, I want Dad to use it until I get ready for it, and I don’t know how song that will be.

 

Tell Dad I want to come home and see the folks, but that I am not as keen about it as he said I would be.  He said I "would be tired of soldiering inside of a week." Well that week has not come yet.

 

One more thing!  You must tell Jule to write as I wrote last.

 

No more at present.

 

I remain your affectionate brother,

GEORGE M. KIRKPATRICK

 

* * * * *

                                                                                                                                            

Ringold, Ga.

                                                                                    May 6, 1862

 

DEAR SISTER:

 

It is with pleasure that I write you…..

 

Well we have got out to the front, and the Rebs are doing well.  I think it will not be long before we will enter their lines aid try their constitutions and see what they are made of, and for the last time. We would have stayed at Chattanooga but when our Colonel came to the regiment, (I refer to McIntire) he told the General that his regiment should not work at such a job, so they sent us out to the front, and here we are.

 

There are plenty of Yankees-150,000 of them and that is quite a good many-quite a squad-and I think that they will clean out the Rebs this summer.

           

They don’t take any more prisoners now, and they kill all they get, and we do the same.  That will end the war quicker than any­thing else.

 

I liked to have got killed about a week ago. I tell you it was hard.  I was running after one of the boys, and I fell into a grave and I liked to have dug one for myself.  I have not done any duty since.

 

We have a nice camp ground.  We are camping on Chickamauga Creek, and it is a nice little town.  The Rebs are in sight, but every thing is all right.  I hope we may be able to clean up the whole of them this summer.

 

Give my best respects to each and all, I remain your brother, until death.

 

GEORGE M. KIRKPATRICK.

 

* * * * *

 

"On to Shiloh"                                                               Fayettsville, Tenn.

                             May 11, 1862

 

DEAR SISTER:

 

I......... am well and hope this finds you in the same state of health.

 

The weather is fair here, but the sun is so hot that when I am on guard I can light my pipe in the sun.  Today is Sunday there is preaching here.

 

I am sitting on the bank of Elk River in the shade now, feel too lazy to walk.  This is a bad place for sickness.  Our, regiment ­cannot turn out over 150 men or 200 men to fight.

 

Captain Atchison went to Huntsville for the mail and it had been taken by Secesh, so I expect that the letter I sent you has gone to Dixie for 90 days.  I sent all the news in it.

 

Tell Christ Granli that he will see a different boy when, I come me home.  I do not drink beer or whiskey nor any other kind of stuff. . . . . Tell Dad that I am not tired of soldiering, and I think I can stand it as long as any of the rest of his sons can.

 

Give my best respects to all inquiring friends.

 

I remain your truly until death.

 

GEORGE M. KIRKPATRICK.

 

* * * * *

 

                               Fayettsville, Tenn.

                                                                                    May 9, 1862

 

DEAR SISTER:

 

I take my pen in hand to inform you that I am well at present.

 

………..I have not received your letter as we stayed at Shelbyville, and the division went on to Huntsville.  When the mail came, it went on to the division.  They do not want to sort the mail here.

 

After I wrote you, half of our regiment had a fight out at War­trace.  We have moved on thirty miles toward Dixie, and I am glad.  The rest of our division had a large fight and we will be in it pretty soon, for we have marching orders for Huntsville.  I guess we will get a little mud as we go forty miles in hilly land, climbing up and down, packing our knapsacks.

 

I have had the fever but am well now.  Our company is in town as a police guard, and I am at camp.  The first I heard of Bob being home vas from Jule's letter, which by chance, I happened to get by first nail which we got since I wrote you...........I will tell you the reason why I wrote-I want you to get me a dollar's worth of postage stamps and I will pay you for them when the war is over, or sooner.  Be sure to send them, for I gave a dime for this one stamp, and could hardly get it at that price.

 

You need not send any envelopes nor paper as I have plenty.  Stamps are all that I want and I will write you every day.  Tell Alec to write, and tell me everything for I am keen to hear from Indiana.

 

Best respects to all, for I don’t care whether I get home or no any more.  I remain your obedient servant.

GEORGE M. KIRKPATRICK.

 

 

* * * * * *

 

                                                                                    June 4th, 1862

                                                                                    Huntsville, Alabama

 

Miss M. J. Kirkpatrick:

 

I was glad to get your letter and to hear from home, the first time for a long, long, time.  I have had good health, generally speak­ing ever since coming to Tennessee.

 

I like soldiering very well yet.  We had a very good march from Fayettsville to here (Huntsville).  We are encamped about a half mile from town.  This is the prettiest town I ever saw.  It is as big as Evansville.

 

Our company and two more went down the Tennessee River, and we had some fun.  We crossed the river and went five miles on the Cedar Mountain to hunt the Secesh.  We could not find any though so we got some hams and shoulders of meat and chickens and came back.

 

We stayed there three days.  There has been a fight, where we crossed the river.  We are back at camp, now.  I think we get paid off tomorrow, and I expect to send a little money home......I will send home all that I can spare.

 

We can’t get provision very easy now.  We have to haul it sixty miles.

 

We have not been in a fight lately.  I was surely sorry to hear that Bob was wounded and had to come home Tell Bob that I wish he had a new eye, and that gun of his and that he was in his old regiment!

 

Then that would help to put the war right through.  My respects to one and all.  So no more now.  I remain your brother until death.

 

GEORGE KIRKPATRICK.

 

to M. J., Kirkpatrick.

 

* * * * *

 

"Our gunboat boys"                                                      Huntsville, Alabama.

                               August 11, 1862.

 

DEAR SISTER:

 

I am well.  I was glad to get your letter and to hear from home.  I was on prevost guard yesterday.  I tell you we have had a  hard time.

 

We have been living on half rations for about a month, but that do not make me “tired of soldering.”

 

O yes! I saw Bill Kirk about a month age.  His division passed through here and stayed awhile.  I saw John and Ben Massey and all the Gardgels out of the fifth regiment.  Bill told me to send his best respects to you and all the folks.

 

We have been living on corn and chickens and peaches all the time and apples are plentiful.  We don’t have to work, for things are different and negroes do the work and we are getting to eat.

 

The boys would like to have a discharge to get home to see their mammies.  I would to, if I knew it would crush the rebellion.  I am a better soldier than you perhaps think.  You may think I am in the guard house every day, but that is not so.  I am just as good a boy for behaving as you can find.  I have never missed a guard yet, and am on guard every other day.

 

It is so awful hot here that you can mix up flour and lay it in the sun and it will bake quicker than if you put it into the oven.  We don’t need fire any more, we cook all by the sun.

 

Tell all the folks in the country I want to see them and talk to them about  this war, and get them to enlist, for this is worst time in the world.

 

Well now, Martha give my best respects to all the girls and boys and tell them I am the same old George and always intend to be.

I remain your affectionate brother, until death.

GEORGE M. KIRKPATRICK.

* * * * *

 

"The Whole Union Forever."

 

                                                                                    Perryville, Kentucky

                                                                                    Oct. 9th, 1861(2?)

                                                                                    On the march through Kentucky.

 

DEAR SISTER:

 

I received your letter at Louisville, but had no time to write there.  Now we are one hundred and five miles from Louisville.  We had a little fight back here a piece and lost heaps of men.

 

Our captain was killed, also three men, Jack Riggs was one of them.  It was a terrible time for us, and in all we lost 3000 men and 90 men were either killed or wounded in our division.

 

I heard many a ball whistle past my ear, and one of them took off my hat rim.  Still I was not scared; I shot away 52 cartridges.

 

Tell Dad I am not tired of soldiering.  There were about twelve wounded in our company, four killed, and four taken prisoners and paroled, but I escaped.  I want to tell you I made the Secesh Jump!

 

Cook sends his best respects, and says he is glad he got out safely.  Tell Bob I've seen the elephant, so no more at present.

 

I remain your brother until death. (In haste)

 

GEORGE KIRKPATRICK.

* * * * *

"Major General Curtis."                                            Nashville, Tenn.

                                                                                    December 6, 1862

 

DEAR SISTER:

 

I seat myself once more to write you a few lines to let you know how I am getting along and hope that these few lines find you well also.

 

We are camped on the Cumberland River, and do not know how long we will stay here.  I think we will have a hard time this winter.

 

I wish I might have been at the party.  I would have felt like fighting two years longer in this war........... I am glad you got so much wood cut.

 

There are so many soldiers here; but in the most desolate place in the country, between Bowling Green and here.  There is not even a fence rail to be seen, and pretty nearly every house is burned down.  But I will say one thing again, and that is "I am not tired of soldiering yet," and that is one thing that I will stick to, but I am coming home this winter if nothing happens.

 

There are stirring times here at Nashville.  We have had a long march since we left here, and expert to have another one before we get home.  I think if the President does free the negroes, we will get home, for the men will not fight for the negroes.

 

Give my best to all the girls and folks.  I remain, your brother until death,

 

GEORGE M. KIRKPATRICK

 

* * * * *

 


“The Eagle and Stars                                                  Nashville, Tenn.

And Stripes”                                                                December 20, 1862

 

DEAR SISTER:

 

I am with my regiment……..four miles from Nashville.  I want you to send me a Christmas gift. You may send  it by express.  I will remember you someday when I can do so.

 

There is someone of the regiment there at Nashville who will get it to me, so Martha, you  and Julia and all please fix up a box of good stuff, and send it as quick as you can to me, won’t you? When I get my pay, I will send you double what it cost you to send it. All the boys are hoping for a box like that from home.

 

Remember, Martha, I will be looking for the box.  I wonder if you received the ten dollars I sent home from Green River, Rolling Fork?  I sent it last payday.

 

I must close now, and remain your brother "until death,”

 

GEORGE M. KIRKPATRICK

 

* * * * *

 

"Ohio.                                                                          Murfreesboro, Tenn. 

"E Pluribus Unum."                                                    March 8, 1862(3?)

 

DEAR SISTER:

 

I was glad to hear from you, and that Dad had sold the place.  We have had our pay, and I can not send much home to you, for we had to settle for all of our clothing this time.

We are working on the breastworks now and we cannot tell how long we will be here.  Please write soon and tell me whether bad got a place or not.

 

I will send a little money to you for a present.

 

I remain your brother, until death.

 

GEORGE M.  KIRKPATRICK.

 

* * * * *

           

The Eagle and Flag.                                                    Huntsville, Alabama

"UNION."                                                                   June,  1863

 

DEAR SISTER:

 

I like this place very much. Since I wrote you, our company has been out on picket ten day-just got in, and are going in the morning.

 

We received our pay yesterday……….Stone and I have been partners since we joined at Camp Vanderburg.  He wants to buy him a new watch and I think I will lend some money to him.

 

There is not much stirring here just now………I kept my coat and everything I had, and I am going to send my dress coat home, and also a pair of trousers.  I want you to lay them away in the drawer and have them for me, and I will get my likeness taken, and send to you.

 

I have no time to write for we are under arms and have been for twenty-four hours.  We are called minute men, and we have to be ready at a moment's notice, night and day to go anywhere we are called.  We had to sleep last night with our accoutrements on, and knapsacks rolled up.

 

So no more at present, from your brother until death,

 

GEORGE M. KIRKPATRICK.

 

P.S. Give my respects to all my friends.

 

* * * * *

 

                           Deckerd, Tenn.­

                           August 5, 1863

 

DEAR SISTER:

 

…………..Sorry to hear that Alfred was not able to help himself, being so low.  Nothing to do now but drill a little at present……………Bill is camped about a mile from here.  He is well and so is John.

 

……….I think we will not stay here long for the cars are running to the Tennessee River and I thing (think?) we will move shortly.  There is a call for some regulars, and if they get only up in our regiment, I am going.

 

They get $100 bounty, and $13 a month.  If I go, I will go in battery, and they will fill up the old regiment with conscripts.  Then the "Forty-Second" will be a pretty regiment with conscripts in it.

 

They will not let anybody in unless he has been in the service six months.  What money I sent home was not very much.  Dad can go to the express office to get it.

 

Closing I remaining your brother until death.

 

GEORGE M. KIRKPATRICK.

Co. A. 42nd Indiana

1st Brig. 2nd Div. 14 Army Cumberland.

 

* * * * *

 

Town on Lookout Mountain.                                      Trenton, Georgia

                          Oct. 5, 1863

 

DEAR SISTER:

 

. . . . .We left Stevens and went to the River and crossed it, marching six miles after dusk.  We camped on the river, and got up next morning and went up opposite Bridgeport and camped there.  Next morning we started up the mountain, and were all day going up.

 

We camped there, and had to go two miles after water.  The mountain is so steep that you could throw a rock down and hear it going for an hour.

 

Next morning we marched about ten miles across the mountain and camped for the night.  That morning we helped the wagons down the mountain and camped about seven o'clock.

 

There is only our division on this road.  Our Brigade went out to have a scout for the Rebs.  They are not far distant and I expect that we will have some fighting to do.  There is no telling what rout we will take, but I think we will try to outflank them at Chattanooga.

 

We are not far from the Atlanta Railroad.  All the boys are well and in good spirits.  We have to pack our knapsacks over the mountains.  That is nothing.  I would rather march than lay in camp for weeks.  We can get to see some of the country this way. There is nothing but timber here……Write soon and direct to

 

GEORGE M. KIRKPATRICK.

Co. A 42nd Regmt Ind.  Vols.

1st Brig. 2nd Division 14th A. C.

 

* * * * *

 

                                                                                    Chattanooga, Tenn.

                                  Oct. 15th, 1863

 

"The U. S. Christian Commissions sends this as the soldier’s mes­senger to his home.  Let it hasten to those who wait for tidings.  Soldiers letter……….Chaplain U. S. A."

 

DEAR SISTER:

 

I did not hear from you for four weeks.  I wondered what was the matter…….We have had a hard time of it since I last wrote you.  We have been in a fight, but I suppose you have heard about it, before now.

 

I had the luck to escape this time, but there are lots of the boys who did not...........Short was one, and three other sergeants also.  We do not know whether Cook was killed or not. There were eighteen out of our company that are missing.

 

We have been working on fortifications since being here, and have been on a foraging expedition.  We had to go forty miles to get corn, and it was hard to get at that.  We have scarcely anything to eat, but I am well and all the boys are in good spirits.

 

They are consolidating the brigades.  They have put our bridge in the 1st division, 14th  A.C.  The 20th and 21st A.C. are put together which makes the 4th A.C. now, and Gordon S. Granger commands.

 

Now I must stop writing.  BUT TELL DAD I AM NOT TIRED OF SOLDIERING!

 

I remain your brother,

 

GEORGE M. KIRKPATRICK.

 

* * * * *

 

                                                                                    Chattanooga, Tenn.

                                                                                    Nov. 2, 1863

 

DEAR SISTER:

 

I take this opportunity to write you to let you know that I am still alive, but that is about all, for we get nothing to eat worth mentioning.  I have got down so weak that I can’t do my duty any more, and the horses and mules are dying off at the rate of two hundred a day.  So are the soldiers.

 

The rations I drew today were one cracker and a half, one half spoonful of coffee, and a little piece of meat for two days.  That was all I got and I could sit down and eat all of it and not have half enough.  Now when it gets down to that small rations, it seems to me the Army is pretty near gone up.  I cannot do my duty on such rations.

The Rebels hold Lookout Mountain.  We can’t get boats up with grub.  We are surrounded by Rebels and they have captured all our mules and trains.  Six mules, 60,000 men and six women comprise our force, and NOTHING to eat!

 

When we get Lookout Moutain, we will be able to get boats up.  Then Hooker is coming up on the other side, of the River.  He has been fighting three or four days trying to get the mountain.  That is pretty hard to do, for it is four miles high, and the Confederates have siege guns on the top of it.

 

Sister Martha, it is pretty hard, but I have to stand it.  I love this country as well as any man ever did.  While at first I came out for the adventure of it, in a way, for I thought that soldiering was so nice at Camp Vanderburg on the old fair ground in Evansville. Indiana, and that it was that way all the time, I have seen dif­ferently, and I am really fighting for love of my country and flag.

 

I have seen the elephant at Perryville, Ky., Stone River, Chick­amauga, Mission Ridge, and Lookout Mountain.  Today I paid my brother-in-law, Luke Short, $14.00 for 14 crackers that he had saved, and I have stuck it out, and I am going to stick it out as long as this war lasts!

 

When my three years are up, and I stay at home awhile, if I can keep my health, if the war is not then over, I will enlist again, that is, if God spares me, long enough to see my three years through!

 

Father used to tell me when I was home and would not eat the crust of biscuit that I would see the time when I would like to get it.  At the time I did not believe it.  But now, I think of that very often when we get nothing for three days at a time.

 

Our pickets and the Rebels are so close on Chattanooga Creek that I could throw a stone and hit them, but we do not dare talk. Sometimes our pickets sit on a log across the creek and play cards like two brothers.

 

Our regiment, the "Forty-Second Ind." is on picket every day; but today I was not out.  I had no shoes.  I stood picket one night barefooted, and refused to do so again.  They put me in guard house, with no one to guard me.  So I picked up four old mules and moved the Quarter-master James Vickery, over the River.

 

Later I drove the four mules, hauling logs with them to build a fort, on the spot where the Post Office now stands in Chattanooga. The poor mules starved to death in four days.  I must quit writing now, I remain your brother until death.

 

GEORGE M. KIRKPATRICK,

42nd Ind.  Vet.  Vol.  Inf.

1st Brigade  lst. Div. 14 A.C.

 

* * * * *

 

                               Chattanooga, Tenn.

                               December 20th 1863

 

DEAR SISTER:

 

It is with exquisite pleasure that I take my pen in hand to inform you that I am in good health and in hopes that these few lines find you the same.  The Company is all well too, and the weather is good now, only rather cold.  We have been at work nearly every day.

 

Today is Sunday, and it is a day of rest so I will write to you.  I just wrote to Dad...........The Captain has re-enlisted and is trying to get us all in; also Colonel Wilder of the "Seventeen" is here trying to get all of the Indiana regiments in, and I think that they will get the biggest part our regiment in.

 

I think about coming home, what it would mean, I could make two dollars where here I cant make 50c a day-if God spares me!

 

Please send me some stamps.

 

I remain your brother, until death.

 

GEORGE M. KIRKPATRICK.

 

* * * * *

 

                                                                                    Big Shanty,

                                                                                    June 29, 1864

 

DEAR SISTER:

 

These few lines will let you know that we are down in "Rebeldom" I got to the regiment today for the first time in two months.  I think that if you were here just for a little while you would wish this infernal war was over!

 

To hear the shells coming whizzing over, and the little balls come pecking around you cannot imagine how they do sing!  In this cruel war every man has to run his chance.

 

I suppose you know Thomas Trimble got killed in the skirmish the other day, and his brother, Captain Trimple (sp?) came up with me, and never knew it until he got to the company.  He took it very hard.

 

I expect we will have hard fight before we get through, but I can stand it, for I have done it before.  There is no more news, so I will close.  I remain your brother, until death.

 

I want all the people to know we are fighting for our country.  Not one of the Kirkpatricks has ever flinched from duty.

 

UNDER THIS JACKET THERE BEATS A GOOD HEART, AND AS LONG AS THE FLAG WAVES OVER MY HEAD, I WILL FIGHT FOR IT, UNTIL I AM DEAD.  So help me God!

 

GEORGE M. KIRKPATRICK.

 

* * * * *

 

                                                                                    Near Atlanta, Ga.

                                                                                    July 29, 1864

DEAR SISTER:

 

I now sit down in the presence of the enemy to write you, answering your letter of the 20th...........We are fighting all the time.  I can't write often, besides I had no paper.  I can’t tell you everything that has taken place.  We have been fighting ever since I last wrote.  I have not been out of hearing of the whistle of a bullet or the roar of a cannon since then.

 

We left Peach Tree battle ground, six miles from here on the 22nd of July and came through the Rebel breastworks that 6000 niggers built for the protection of Atlanta.

 

our brigade was in front of Thomas corp. 14, 1st brigade, 1st division.  We stopped to rest for a few minutes.  Thomas and all his staff were standing there talking.  "Leather Britches," a German officer who had gotten leave of six months from the Kaiser to raise a battery to fight for this country at Pittsburg, was sitting on his horse near General Thomas.  In my hearing he said that this place looked like the battle-field of Bull Run, and he would not be sur­prised if it would not be another Bull Run.

 

A courier rode up and handed General Thomas an order that told him that Atlanta was evacuated!  Orders were that he should march his troops immediately into the city.

 

General Thomas turned to "Leather Britches" to have his bugler blow "Forward!" The bugler, a French ex-soldier with one leg off at the thigh, turned on his saddle, and blew, "Boots and saddle

forward!" with a French bugle.

 

The battery had come up to the front to be ready and the "Forty-Second Ind." started after Thomas.  We had not gone 100 yards when some Rebels in a two story brick house fired a volley, and the General never got off, but seemed to fall off his horse.

 

Our bugler bugled for our regiment to deploy as a skirmish line and the fight was on.  At the same moment McPherson's Corp was ambushed by all the Rebel forces, after going through the same thing we did, ten miles from our 14th Corp.

 

It proved later that there were not as many Rebels in our front.  There were mostly citizens of Atlanta, as we captured 600, but not one soldier.  We could distinctly hear the roar of the battle of Atlanta where McPherson was killed.

 

Now the Rebels were massed on both sides of the road, and when McPherson's Corps, marching into Atlanta as they thought, there was a desperate battle.  Our men buried 400 Rebels, and 200 Union soldiers, and we captured 1,500 Rebels

 

Yesterday the left flank moved to the right, and had a big fight and captured 700 prisoners from them.  I can’t tell you how long we will stay here.  They have it in the papers that we have Atlanta, but it is a great mistake.

Now at the present moment I am sitting on the bank of the breastwork with a piece of cracker-box for a desk, and the can­non and skirmish line and an orderly beside me making fun of my writing etc.

 

Since I have been up to the regiment at Bog Shanty, I have shot 2000 bullets out of my Springfield rifle.  We are two miles from Atlanta and shelling the city with hot shot.  You must not believe what the papers say.

 

I am yours truly, "until death."

 

GEORGE M. KIRKPATRICK, Private.

Co. A., 42nd Regt.  Ind.  Vet.

Vol.  Inf.  1st Brig.  1st.  Div. 14th A. C. Dept of the Cumberland

 

* * * * *

 

"The U. S. Christian Commission."

                                                                                    General Hospital, No. 8, ward 6

                                                                                    Nashville, Tennessee.

 

DEAR SISTER:

 

You already know that it was on the 11th of this month that I was wounded.  My wound is getting along all right.  You would not know me now, as I have gotten down very poor, being that the wound was a very bad one.  It went through the left breast.  It was hunting for my heart, but could not find it.

 

I am getting plenty of food, and can eat like a horse.  I have not walked around any yet for the wound is so near my heart, and it pains me.  I just had it dressed and it pains badly.

 

Do not look for me home soon.  Write soon,

 

Yours truly,

 

GEORGE M. KIRKPATRICK.

 

* * * * *

 

Sent as a soldier's messenger to his home.  Let it hasten to those who wait for tidings.

"For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have ever­lasting life.”

 

General Field Hospital, No. 6.                                     Sept. 8, 1864

New Albany, Indiana.

 

DEAR SISTER:

 

It is with pleasure that I take my pen in hand to inform you of my present situation.  I am here living as well as though I were at home.  After staying in Nashville ten days, I was transferred to Louisville, on a hospital train, was there two days, and got a transfer to New Albany, Indiana.

 

My wound is getting along all right.  I have had almost no treatment for five days...........I feel nearer home here in my own State.  Do not look for me home soon, but may look for me at Evansville, as I have a transfer there to the hospital.  I wish you would come down to Evansville in a week or so to see me.

 

I wont be able to go home on a furlough.  My wound is near the heart, and has not begun to heal yet, and I have to stay where I can have it tended to.  I wont be able to leave for a good while yet.  A rib was broken, and some bones worked out of the wound.  A good old German doctor attends me, and I get enough to eat.

 

I remain your brother until death.

 

GEORGE M. KIRKPATRICK.

 

* * * * *

 

O, blood red clouds, cramping the sinking sun,

Drinking his waning life away, Burn on.

And then a grave, swallowing one by one,

Rob on, rob on, till all that is begun,

And the pale universe into the Gulf sinks down!

 

* * * * *

 

                                                                                    Evansville, Ind.

                                                                                    December 4, 1864

                                                                                    Hospital No. 1 ward 2

 

DEAR SISTER:

 

I am now well and am going to the front in a few days.  I have been working in the kitchen for the last week, and I get plenty to eat, but it is hard work.

 

I want to go out to Nashville and help fight again.  I may get wounded again, but I want to go just the same.  The hospital is full and I am needed here to help with the cooking.

 

My wound is nicely healed but I have not gained in flesh.  I remain your brother until death.

 

GEORGE M. KIRKPATRICK.

 

* * * * *

           

                                                                                    Indianapolis, Ind.

                                                                                    May 23, 1865

 

Miss Martha Kirkpatrick

DEAR SISTER:

 

………..We are leaving tomorrow…….you may answer this as my mail will follow me.  I am to give up my present position, and go to Columbus, Ohio.

 

We will leave for good this time, and I am glad bad place for the regiment- it is so hot.  Maybe we won’t go to any better place, for we will have to guard Rebs.

 

I turned in my gun over to have it hauled there,  as my arm is so I cannot pack it yet……

 

Please give my respects to all, your brother,

 

GEORGE M. KIRKPATRICK.

 

* * * * *

 

Miscellany, Poems, et altera.

"CHICKAMAUGA."

 

By George M. Kirkpatrick

 

I was a hoosier farmer boy,

Who ran away from his employ,

And enlisted, like so many more

To paint my bayonet with gore.

For I had caught that kind of itch

That often comes to boys, and which

There's nothing in the world can cure

Like Army life-so quick and sure. 

What the others did I must try too.

I had my eye teeth cut clean through

Before I saw my home again

Or got half through my first campaign.

 

I thought it must be mighty fine

To march, all uniformed in line;

Behind a noisy drum and fife

That thrills all youthful souls with life;

To have the girls in rapture gaze

And clap their lovely hands in praise,

As we went marching down the street,

With jaunty air and haughty feet,

A musket on right shoulder laid, In grand review, on dress parade.

It fairly made me burst with pride

To think what swathes we'd cut-how wide!

 

And then 'twould be such lots of fun

To make those Johnny Gray-backs run;

Go marching through their captured towns

And see them trembling at our frowns. 

For who could stand one moment where,

We'ed fling our banners to the air? 

But-making Johnny Graybacks run

Didn't prove to be such lots of fun. 

And taking Rebel forts and towns

Took more than angry looks and frowns­-

As we found out in proper form

The first day's outing in the storm.

 

* * * * *

                                   

MEMORIES

 

The company of crowds may dull the edge of memory's blade,

And keep our thoughts from wandering unto mistakes we've made;

But when the dim lights, burning low find us all alone,

Tis then we reap the harvest of the worthless seed we've sown.

 

'Tis often thus in solitude, I leave the beaten track,

And on the wings of memory to happier days since gone;

 

I see my youthfull friends, and home, and faces long since gone;

I hear the songs we used to sing; they haunt me when alone.

I feel again the hopefulness, of life when just begun.

Alas! the hopes have faded like the dew before the sun;

And looking down the road of life that once I thought so fair,

I see the shattered columns of my castles in the air.

 

I hear my mother's lullaby, I see her tender face;

I see her sitting by the hearth in the old familiar place;

 

And from the fountains of my heart the silent tears will flow;

I live again in memory, the days of long ago.

 

I seem to hear the music of some long forgotten ball;

The strains upon my memory, with mystic rhythm fall;

the misty distance I see, or think I see

A face that in the old, old days was very dear to me.

 

The fairy, white-robed vision floats before my tear-dimmed sight,

Then fades away to nothingness within the deeps of night;

But throbbing in my saddened heart I feel the same old pain

As when we parted silently to never meet again.

 

And so they come and so they go, these visions of the past-

Those silent, sad reminders of days too sweet to last;

But let them come, these fantasies of hopes and joys long gone.

For though they're sad, they all are sweet to me, when all alone.

 

* * * * *

 

"LONGING"

 

By George M. Kirkpatrick

 

Back to the old home, viewing scenes of childhood,

There's where I knew no care nor pain;

There in my childish glee, under a woodland tree,

Oh, how I long to go to the old home once again !

When in my dreaming, visions rise before me,

They seem to take me back once more-

Back to the spot so dear, with my mother standing near­

Yes, I can see her as in the days of yore.

 

Chorus

 

Back to the old home, take me;

There in my childhood I roamed;

Back to the scenes of those joyous days,

Back to the dear old home.

Tho' I'm old now, still I love to linger on happy tho'ts of by­gone day;

When thro' the woods I wandered far from the dear old home,

Gathering the scented flowers that grew along the way

Now I'm alone, no loving hearts to soothe me-those that I

loved have gone before.

But while my loved ones wait, there at the golden gate,

Take, oh take me back to the dear old home once more!

 

* * * * *

 

POSTWORD

 

George M. Kirkpatrick was born in German Township, on a farm, January 5, 1846-the youngest of fifteen children.

 

He enlisted in Co.  "A” Forty-Second Ind.  Vol.  Inf. in July 1861. Six brothers, four brothers-in-law, three nephews and twenty-seven cousins were in the Civil War on the side of the Union, while six cousins were in the Rebel army.

 

His father arrived in Evansville in 1812, when Hugh Mcgarry lived in a house built on poles, on Main Street at about 7th or 8th street.  It was the only house then built there­.

 

........His father had seventy-six grandchildren in 1862.  He and his wife were married five miles from Fort Branch, on a farm, in 1820.  His father was on the grand jury for about forty years after Vanderburg County was founded, or taken from Gibson or Posey.

 

This record, dated Sept. 25, 1924, Evansville, Ind. states that Mr. Kirkpatrick had been living in Chicago about fifty years at the time, and had visited, every year the reunion, of Co. A, of whom the following were then living: George G. Bernard, Shuttler, John Albacker, and Joseph Phar of Princeton, out of one-hundred eighty three men who enlisted, and who were drilled by Captain Ohlmsted, and Col.  Chas.  Denby at the Old Fair Ground, with flint-lock muskets, four others were, Captain Atchison, Trimble, Messick, McCutcheon.

 

* * * * *

 

SERVICE

By George M. Kirkpatrick

 

PERRYVILLE, October 8, 1862

STONE RIVER, December 31, 1862, and Jan. 1, 1863

CHICKAMAUGA, September 21st to 23rd, 1863

LOOK OUT MOUNTAIN, November 23, 1863.

MISSIONARY RIDGE, November 24, 1863.

RESSACA, May 14, 1864

DALTON, May 24, 1864

KENESAW, June 3, 1864

PEACH TREE CREEK, June 24, 1864

ATLANTA, August 11, 1864

* * * * *

HISTORICAL NOTES

By George M. Kirkpatrick

 

"42nd Regiment Indiana Veteran Volunteer Infantry.

1st Brigade, lst Division, 14th Army of the Cumberland.”

 

The "Forty-Second" was enlisted at Evansville, Ind., Oct. 8th, 1861, at the old Fair ground, marched to Henderson, Ky.; to Cal­houn; to Owensburg on the Ohio River; embarked on steamboat, down the river and up the Cumberland river to the relief of Fort Donelson; then to Nashville, Feb. 25, 1862; then to Murfreesboro; Shelbyville; Fayettesville and Huntsville, Ala.; Whitesburg Landing, and from thence crossed the Tennessee River going twenty-five miles through the country, burning cotton gins; back to Huntsville; to Decard station; to Shelbyville; Murfreesboro; Nashville, Bowling Green, Ky.; and Louisville, Ky.  Sept. 25, 1862.

 

Leaving Louisville, for the battle of Chaplin Hills at Perryville, Ky., where our loss was 166 officers and men killed, wounded and missing.  From there we marched to Crab Orchard, Ky.; then to Lebanon, Glasco, Bowling Green, and to Nashville; thence to Stone River battle, Jan. 1, 1863.

 

We lost 150 officers and men, killed, wounded and missing.  We left Murfreesboro, June 25, 1863.  Thence to Hillsboro, Winchester and Dechard Station, Tenn., July 4, '63.  Thence to Hillsboro, Win­chester and Dechard Station, Tenn., July 4, '63; from there to Stevenson and Brigeport, Ala., crossed Lookout Mountain, Dug Gap, Pigeon Mountain, Georgia; then down to Chickamauga Battle, where we lost 107 officers and men.

 

After this we went to Chattanooga, and re-enlisted January 4, '64, for three years more.  This is called "veteranizing." In order to re-enlist for three years more, having seven months more to serve, we, as a regiment, had to vote, and it required three quarters to do so. Now as an incentive to enlist we were ordered as Guard for the Eighth Indiana Battery heavy artillery, to the relief of Knox­ville Tennessee.

 

As it had been raining for five or six days, the roads were bad.  We had to chose between going up there and re-enlisting for three years more or during the war, receiving four-hundred bounty, all back pay and three months pay in advance.

 

After voting on it night and day for forty-eight hours, we could not receive enough men, by two votes.

 

We had to form in line every two hours and it pouring down min.  At two o'clock at night, we became desperate, and we got one man, who had been badly diseased, and was not fit for service, to get in line; also one man with two fingers off his right hand, who would not pass either, we made them get into the line.

 

One of us went behind him and put our good right hand under his arm, and held it out so that the doctor could see our two hands (?), eyes and teeth, by the light of a lantern with a tallow candle burning in it-and THAT IS WHAT WE DID TO GET TO RE­ENLIST.

 

Now, incidentally, New York City had agents there, who offered us $800 cash to be quoted to their city to fill their call for new re­cruits.  But not US!  We voted to a man, to be quoted at home, where our fathers, brothers and friends were being drafted in the service.  We were promised money from our state, county and town to help fill the state call.  However we did not get a cent, but we did prevent some of them from being drafted.  Every seventh man had to go.

 

When we returned to Nashville, we could not get cars to ride in, so we had to march back to Chattanooga a hundred and seventy-five miles.

 

We started on the Atlanta campaign in May and were over three months in fighting. A hundred thirty-seven miles to Atlanta.  For three months there was not one hour, we could not hear a bullet whistle around us, which is not pleasant to say the least           

 

I was only 15 years old when I joined the army and nineteen years old when I returned, having fought in 25 battles and 100 skir­mishes; marched and, was transported 6000 miles, was wounded five times, received $11.00 per month, and later $16.00. I never held an office and am proud of it!

 

In my company was a little drummer boy, 10 years of age, who served out his three years.  His father had been a lieutenant.

 

Each company had 100 men in it.  Ours did also, when we first went to the front, but when we got out, there were only TWELVE of the original one hundred left.

 

We used to figure out that it required 3000 bullets to every man who was killed, and considering how many bullets each soldier had shot at him, there seemed only a slim chance to escape from them.  But even so, notwithstanding, sickness was our worst enemy.  To every one who died of wounds seven died of sickness, so you do not have any choice as a soldier, but sometimes would even welcome death, in preference to marching and exposure to the weather and other hardships.

 

When at home, people would ask us where we went when it rained and how the rebels looked.  Those seemed like foolish questions.  For about two years we had no tents.  Each man had a piece four feet square with buttons on one side and button holes on the other side.  Two men would put theirs together, and put up two little forked sticks, two feet high, and put a stick across, and the two pieces buttoned together.  Would form what we called a pup tent, and which the officers called a shelter tent.  My partner and I were six feet two and one half inches tall, and when we got in bed, two feet two and a half inches had to sleep out of doors!

 

* * * * *

 

INDIANA CHICKAMAUGA COMMISSION

                                    Oakland City, Ind.,

                                    July 24, 1913

 

Mr. George M. Kirkpatrick:

"The U. S. Christian Commission."

 

MY DEAR COMRADE:

 

I remember you well and I was glad to hear from you.  You were a member of a good company, and one that was always ready to do its part...... I think that Captain Ohlmstead, if he had lived would have made a fine field officer, and maybe have attained the rank of a general.

I am glad to see you at the head of a Grand Army Post.

 

I don’t know what to say about a Reunion of our old regiment, on the 20th of September, at our monument in the Great Chickamauga Park.

 

I am a member of the Indiana Park Commission, and I would be glad to meet with old members of our regiment, and if I thought that we could gather any of the members of the regiment together, I would be glad to make such a request through the papers, in about

these words:

 

'THE FORTY-SECOND INDIANA REGIMENT REUNION IN THE CHICKAMAUGA PARK.”

 

There will be a reunion of the members of the Forty-Second Indiana Volunteer Infantry held in the Chickamauga Park September 20, 1913.  Fifty years from the date set for this reunion, our regiment was in the very hell of battle on that ground.  COM­RADES, this will likely be the last opportunity we will have of visiting the scenes of that terrible battle.

 

WILLIAM COCKRUM,

Lt. Col. 42nd Ind. Vols.

 

* * * * *

 

                                                                                    Grand Island, Nebraska

                                                                                    February 8, 1913(4?)

 

George M. Kirkpatrick,

 

DEAR COMRADE:

 

The photos are fine……I remember that on that Sunday morning-September 20, 1863, 1 felt very little honor for any of the men.  Why they ran away without any orders, and in such a hurry, and I asked myself where were our officers, great and small?

 

I know two soldiers who were not scared to death.  I was just as cool lying there between two fires as I am now, and you were the only one out of one hundred that had bravery enough in, the face of death and the hail of bullets to stop and try to get wounded comrade out of that hell of a place!  You could not help me.  I told you to run and save yourself or we would both be killed, that I was done for any how.  You were shot through both arms, and the blood running from the wounds in your arms struck me in the face, and I never knew where the blood came from until fifty years after, when we met at the spot again.

 

You left me in the hands of the Rebs and by saving yourself, you were able to fight many days afterwards (not behind a pile of knapsacks) I sometimes wonder if maybe it would not have been as well if you had not written me and met me at the battle field, Sept. 20, 1913.

 

For fifty years I did not know whether you were alive or not (after you ran through that old fence row of briars and bushes on the jump), but since we have begun writing and since the trip to Chattanooga in 1913, you are hardly out of my mind when awake.  Write often for we must keep in close touch during the rest of our short lives.

 

If those fellows behind the knapsacks had had the gritt you had, they might be alive today.  I saw Tom Denison and many others run by me in the hands of the Rebs, and Tom.....died in Andersonville...….

 

R. P. McCutcheon

Late Co. A 42nd Ind. Vet. Vol. Inf.

1st Brigade, 1st division. 

Army of the Cumberland.

 

* * * * *

 

 

I will go back to Evansville, Indiana when George Kirkpatrick and myself with many others, enlisted in Co. “A,” 42nd Indiana Infantry, for three years or during the war.  We were with the regiment in all its battles, skirmishes, etc. Our command belonged to the Army of the Cumberland.

 

On the 19th of September, 1863, we met the enemy under General Bragg at Chickamauga.  At that time we were in the 14th Corps, with Gen, George H. Thomas, Commander.

 

We supported our battery all day Saturday.  Seven horses were killed within fifty yards of us, and how many men, I cannot say.  We rested all night on our arms, and at day-light, we marched to the extreme right, where we met Longstreet’s men.

 

We sent our skirmishers along the Lafayette Road.  They were soon driven in.  The fight was now on in earnest.  After firing into the enemy, many shots, our army fell back.  I saw them coming about two-hundred yards away, and I thought I would give them one more shot.

 

Just at that moment, a musket ball hit me in the left hip, crashed through the bone, and there it stopped, and it is there to this day.

 

I fell down and George Kirkpatrick ran to me to get me out of that terrible hail of bullets.  He knelt down to cut the cartridge ­box off from me, when a bullet passed through both of his arms, cutting the front of his shirt off.

 

I then told him to run and save his life, that he would be killed if he remained, and that I was done for anyway.

 

(He left me and served to the end of the war, and was wounded five times.)

 

In fifteen minutes the enemy were passing over me.  They were very kind to me, the officer-- giving me water from their canteens.  In the afternoon, the enemy lifted me into their ambulance, and took me to their Field hospital, where there were six hundred and thirty wounded.  They very tenderly laid me on the ground.  I was the only Yankee there, and I was a show for the country people.  They came for miles to see a live Yankee.  I lay there for two months, then was put on the cars and taken to Atlanta, Georgia.

 

I was put into a military prison, with four or five hundred wounded Federals, and remained there three months, all the time on my back.

 

I was exchanged February 20, 1864 At Rossville, Georgia.  There were thirty of us, all badly crippled.  We were hungry and nearly naked.

 

WHEN WE SAW THE UNITED STATES FLAG FOR THE FIRST TIME IN FIVE OR SIX MONTHS, THERE WAS A SHOUT WENT UP, OF JOY THAT WE HAD AT LAST GOT TO GOD'S COUNTRY AGAIN.  Some of them prayed, some swore and others cried-for we were now safe.

 

I was sent home on crutches and have been a cripple ever since.

 

Fifty years after the battle, I got a letter from the Comrade. (I thought he was dead all the time) asking me to meet him at Chickamauga on September 20th. 1913.

 

We met, went to the battlefield, found the place where we were both wounded fifty years before.  We placed ourselves on the ground in the same position and place we were in, on that terrible morning of Septmeber 20, 1863.

 

The foregoing is an account of our experience in battle, and duties of a private soldier, but the half can never be told.

 

WE SIMPLY DID OUR DUTY AS AMERICAN CITIZENS.

 

R. P. McCUTCHEON,

"Co.  A, 42nd Reg." Indiana Infantry.

 

* * * * *

 

G. A. R.

 

A DREAM

 

It was said of the old soldier, that going down into the river of death, he came up on the other side, and that all the hosts came out with banners and trumpets to meet him, and not until we scarred vets receive our final welcome into the City Beautiful, will we know the pathos of our years on the land.

 

Gone are our youth and beauty; after four years in the army

Many of us come forth, shot through and through, invalided, or broken forever.  For sixty years our life has been one long Gethsemane, one bleak via delores, when every day the Angels of success, offered a cup of bitterness, over-flowing.

 

Now our long martyrdom is nearly over; some of us say we are old and broken; but how can a soldier be old, who has brought liberty, eternally young and beautiful, into being?

 

How can a veteran be poor who has achieved eternal riches for all the people of the South?

 

How can an old soldier be obscure when he is lifted up and made glorious in the presence of the assembled millions, of his native land?

 

Already for a multitude, the signal is hung out from the battle­ments of Heaven.  Here shall we fold our tents, and steal away after all the thunders of battle have died away in distance. Life’s battles are fought, and we shall encamp in the Promised Land and hang out our signal of everlasting victory.

 

Going in, we shall not be unwanted, not unknown, for will not our comrades-in-arms stand expecting and awaiting us?  Will not the patriots and heroes and the martyrs who bled at Marathon, and more who bled at Valley Forge, or struggled at Gettysburg stand waiting to receive us?

 

We have a right to come in, and to be greeted by Grant and Lee and all the heroes who died that the Union might live; and be the great emancipator, the martyred President, and when the last roll is called and the last page in this chapter of Liberty is written, it shall be said.

 

"I saw an old soldier come up out of the valley of the shadow of death, and all the heroes come forth to meet him and greet him, and with banners and trumpets, they brought him HOME."

 

GEORGE M. KIRKPATRICK

National Soldiers Home,

Virginia.

 

* * * * *

 

Songs of Heaven

 

I do not think the heaven to which we go

Will be so strange that we shall feel afraid,

But, rather, that the sweetest things we know

Will flourish undecayed.

 

I do not think the songs will all be new,

Or we should hunger for the sweet old lays,

Whose echoes oft have bid our souls be true,

Amid the loftier praise.

 

To think the choirs will hush their anthem when

The fear for earth the homesick pang;

And we shall sing to listening angels, then

The songs our mothers sang!

 

-Christian Work-

 

* * * * *

 

EDITORIAL NOTE

 

Mr. Kirkpatrick, years ago, engaged his comrade, Reverend Joshia L. Albritton, who preached the funeral sermon of James A. Garfield, to officiate at his funeral.  Asked what text he wished used, he specified the seventh verse of the fourth chapter of second Timothy.

 

"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."

 

THE END

 

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