GRAND ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC.
TALES TOLD AROUND THE CAMPFIRE.
Arkansas City Republican, Saturday, January 24, 1885.
The REPUBLICAN campfire column around which our old soldiers have commenced gathering is a new feature. We intend to obtain a description of some thrilling adventures from each member of the G. A. R. in Arkansas City and publish it if possible. This week the ball is started to rolling by a comrade who had severe service during his short enlistment. Besides being interesting to a large majority of our readers, it will serve to twine together more closely the hearts of old “vets” as one by one they relate their great sufferings or their small pleasures they experienced in the defense of the Union.
Arkansas City Republican, January 24, 1885.
THE CAMP FIRE.
Around Which the Defenders of the Old Flag Gather and Spin Tales
Of Their Adventures in Days Gone By.
ARKANSAS CITY, Jan. 22, 1885.
COMRADES: I am going to set the ball rolling by piling on some brush or limbs to make a light to see to talk by. I am an old soldier, but I did not enlist till 1863. So I can’t tell as long a yarn as some that served four or five years. I enlisted in Co. K, Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers, and served three years. I was sent to the Potomac army. We lay in camp the winter of 1863 and 1864 near Culpeper, Virginia; in the spring following, on May 3, the long roll sounded at midnight; we packed up and started for—we did not know where, but we found out about the next day what they wanted us to do. They wanted us to go to Richmond, and we did, but it took us all summer and all winter, until April, 1865. If any of the boys see this, they will remember how sore our toes were the morning the ball opened in the wilderness.
We fought the “rebs” three days and nights and the fourth day we routed them; they went on one road and we went on another, marching all night. I will say that I marched for miles that night, asleep, and on waking would find myself shoulder to shoulder with my comrades.
The “rebs” made their next stand at Spotsylvania Court House; there we had fun for four or five days. The morning we got there we were ordered to halt for a few minutes; the most of the boys went to sleep but I made a cup of strong coffee; the first I had had for four days.
I had just finished drinking my coffee when we were ordered to “fall in.” We marched about half a mile and found the “rebs,” well fortified. Here we raised the Stars and Stripes on an old log house and about the time our colors went up, out came the old woman. She wanted to know what we were on her house for; we made no reply, but proceeded to pull the house down and make breastworks of it and you would have laughed to see Co. K then; some got a quilt, some a blanket, one her sunbonnet, and another her Sunday go-to-meeting bonnet. I will give you the rest of the story next week. B. W.
Arkansas City Republican, January 31, 1885.
THE CAMP FIRE,
Around Which the Defenders of the Old Flag Gather and Spin Yarns
Of Their Adventures in Days Gone By.
ON TO RICHMOND.
The old woman stormed around and wanted the officers to stop us. Our captain told her he could not do anything with us; when we undertook to do anything at all—he could not stop us. Then she went for Co. H. That company was all Dutch. One held her while some took her pigs out of the pen; the rest took the chickens. About that time we were ordered forward; we went about fifty rods and found the “Rebs” well fortified; they raised up and gave us one of the worst volleys I ever saw. One ball struck my orderly sergeant on the breast. The ball went through a large memorandum book and lodged next to his person. I saw the ball; it was a minnie ball and it looked as though it had been flattened with a hammer. I picked him up when he fell. I said, “John, are you hurt?” He looked all around and I led him about ten feet. He caught his breath, when I said: “We had better get out of here.” And we did get too. The Rebs said “halt,” but there was no halt there. I passed on my way back a big soldier laying behind a tree who wanted to know what was the matter. I told him to get out of there. He was shot through the leg, but I never saw a man run faster than he did. He outran me. I thought I could run, but I was nowhere. We fell back behind our breastworks that the old woman was so kind as to let us have her house to build them with. Soon after we fell back, I was sent out on picket. Where I was stationed there were some rocks. I piled up some, enough to hide my head. More than twenty-nine balls struck those rocks on the day I lay there on picket duty, and there were six soldiers laying side by side that had been killed there. I could have picked up my hat full of bullets that struck that rock pile. B. W.
(Continued next Week.)
Arkansas City Republican, February 7, 1885.
THE CAMP FIRE.
ON TO RICHMOND.
On the 12th of May, 1864, we fought one of the hardest battles of the war. In the morning, before day, we were ordered to be ready to march. We did not march but crawled until we got as near to the rebel works as our officers thought best. All that morning we never spoke louder than a whisper, until we got almost to their works, and started on the run, when if a Yankee ever hallooed, we did; then we ran over their works and through their lines, about faced, and by this time the rebs had just waked up. We hardly fired a shot. We took that morning 6,000 prisoners and several of their best officers, among them Johnson and Smith. Smith refused to give up his sword; but our boys told him to take it off or they would blow him into the middle of next week. After we had marched them to the rear, and placed about fifty men to guard them, we again went to the front to try our luck. That day we did not get any more prisoners, but got 5 or 6 hours laying flattened out, while the bullets came so thick and fast we could not get back. One of our company was killed by my side. He was standing by a small tree. The ball passed through his heart and he fell back with his gun across his breast. I laid his gun by his side and took what he had in his pockets and knapsack, and gave them to our Lieutenant. I was shot through my hat twice that day, and was hit seven times. A shot passed between two of my fingers, and I had my coffee pot shot through and my canteen and knapsack were hit several times. I was that day shot through the foot. B. W.
[LOOKED THROUGH NEXT ISSUES. FOR SOME REASON, THE REPUBLICAN DID NOT PRINT ANY MORE CAMP FIRE STORIES...??? KAY STATES THAT HE THINKS THE “B. W.” WHO WROTE THESE ARTICLES WAS THE CO-PUBLISHER AND EDITOR OF THE REPUBLICAN: WAGNER.]
Arkansas City Republican, January 31, 1885.
From another Correspondent.
MAPLE CITY, KANSAS, January 27, 1885.
COMRADES: As one of our comrades in the last week’s REPUBLICAN has started the ball, I shall give it a kick and try to keep it a-going. I am a veteran soldier. I volunteered in Co. I, 26 Illinois, in the year 1861. We lay at Hannibal, Missouri, until January 19, 1865, patrolling the country out as far in every direction from Hannibal as our legs would carry us. We were called Loomis’s hell hounds, as John A. Loomis was our colonel. We “hounded” down a great many guerrillas and southern sympathizers, and made them take the oath of allegiance; knocked in the heads of all the whiskey barrels in Hannibal and let the whiskey flow back to its mother Earth. So we left Hannibal the 19th of January a very respectable town, and went our way rejoicing towards sunny Dixie. At Saxtown, Missouri, we struck Jeff Thompson with a rebel force armed with squirrel rifles, double barrel shotguns loaded with twenty-four buckshot to the barrel, and four one-pound brass cannons. After chasing him for several days, we succeeded in capturing a good part of his forces and arms. Then we went forward to New Madrid, the great rebel stronghold, where we found them fortified and armed with all kinds of guns and corn knives, which they expected to use when they got the “yankees” by the horns, for they believed the yankees had horns, and they expected to be in close quarters. But when we formed our line of battle in a cotton field in plain view of their stronghold, and they found we were not of the “horned” race, but were composed of bone and sinew like themselves, they concluded that there were safer places than that and fled without giving us a big fight.
Our next raid was on Point Pleasant further down the Mississippi River. We marched through mud and rain in the month of February. At night we camped within cannon shot of our designated point, leg weary, hungry, and cold. The night was as dark as a Demon’s dungeon. We piled up in a ditch without speaking a word or murmuring for fear of waking the dead. In the morning when we awoke, there was about three inches of snow on top of our coverings. Our provision wagons, failing to come up on account of the bad roads, we made the advance on the enemy the next morning, hungry enough and mad enough to eat a rebel raw. Driving the enemy before us, we gained our point without much bloodshed. We captured the town with a great many eatables, which filled our forms and were useful in our business. Paroling the prisoners, we guarded that point for several days.
The remaining part of this story will be given next week.
[LOOKED AND LOOKED! STORY WAS NOT CONTINUED IN THE NEXT ISSUE OF REPUBLICAN.]
WOLFE, IT’S YOUR DEAL.
Winfield Courier, Thursday, June 11, 1885.
Col. E. Wolfe, of Indiana, whose short but happy speech in this city on Decoration day charmed the hearts of his hearers, was here on a flying visit from Winfield; but meeting some old army friends, was induced to stay over Sunday. The Colonel is happy at a camp fire, effective in a set speech, and irresistible in a story. On Saturday evening he spent two or three hours in the room of an old army friend, W. J. Woods, and told of an amusing incident that had occurred between himself and Gen. Hatch the day preceding. The last time the pair had met was in Tennessee, near Memphis, at the early part of the war. Hatch was in the regular service and Wolfe a volunteer officer. On the night in question some movements were in operation, and orders were coming in thick and fast. To wile away the tedium of the time, the two officers sat down to a game of poker in a log cabin which they occupied as headquarters. The play was interrupted by the arrival of frequent orderlies, which were promptly attended to, and then the game proceeded. After awhile, however, orderlies began to come in at both doors, and the situation grew critical. Major Hatch started to his feet with the exclamation, “Wolfe, this thing is getting too hot. Mind, it’s your deal!” and leaving cards and stakes on the table, he hurried from the hovel and mounted his horse. On Friday last the narrator of the story entered the Brettun house, in Winfield, and handing his grip sack to the clerk, waited the movements of a gray headed gentleman in order to place his autograph on the register. The former having entered his name, handed the pen to the Indianian; their eyes met, and recognition was mutual. “Hello, Hatch!” said the ex-volunteer officer, “who would have thought of seeing you here?” A twinkle came to the eyes of the veteran addressed, and extending his hand, he dryly remarked, “Wolfe, it’s your deal!” A quarter of a century had elapsed since that unfinished game of poker, and we have the word of both gentlemen that they have never played the game since. The fortune of war and the accidents of life have carried them in opposite directions, and since that night in the negro quarters by the turbid Mississippi, till the accidental meeting in the hotel at Winfield, they have not seen each other. But the striking incidents of that time were indelibly impressed on the minds of both, and when they came together at last, the long past scene was restored, and the parting exclamation was as fresh in the memories of both as when uttered. When old comrades meet there is an inexhaustible flow of incident and adventure set a-going.
Arkansas City Traveler.