December 31, we left our camp near Lexington at 9 a. m. The roads were in better condition than we expected. We marched about eighteen miles and went into camp near sundown in a dense thicket of briars. As this was New Years Eve, we hoped, with the help of the Load, to spend the next one in a happier and better place. Snow fell the night before, but with good fires we made things look cheerful.
January 1, 1865, we had reveille at 3 a.m. We had a good breakfast and wished a happy New Year to all, for the boys felt in good spirits. At half past 5 o'clock the Second Division passed us, going ahead. There was a rumor that our division was to garrison Athens, Ala. The old Fourth Army Corps was quite jolly, cheering and shooting their muskets to welcome the New Year. The boys seemed to be in a good humor at the prospect of going into winter quarters. We did not leave our camp until 1 p. m. The delay was caused by a bridge over Elk River being swept away. We marched about two miles and went into camp on a hill.
We expected to move January 2, but did not. Everybody was trying to go out foraging. Any kind of an old horse or mule was in great demand. Captain Hewitt and several of the boys went out, although orders were issued against it, and guards patrolled around the camp to catch the boys as they came in, but the captain returned with a fine lot of hams, chickens, etc., and all the boys did well. They were living at the "top of the pot;" so they said.
January 3, was another disagreeable day. It was pretty cool in the morning. We left camp at 12 o'clock and crossed Elk River on a temporary bridge built by the pioneers of the Fourth Army Corps. We then marched through a flat, muddy country. We reached Athens, Ala., about dark, and went into camp north of the town.
January 4, was a fine day, so we marched out at 8 a. m., and took the road leading to Huntsville, Ala. The country was if the same character as we were in the day before. We went into camp at 5 o'clock on the left of the road, within seven miles of Huntsville, with orders to be ready to move at 5 o'clock the next morning.
On January 5, we struck tents and marched out at daylight, with our regiment at the head of the column. We reached Huntsville at 9 o'clock. The road we marched on sloped down to the city. It was a beautiful sight to look back at the long line of boys in blue, with their bands playing and flags flying in the breeze. Huntsville is a pretty place, in fact, one of the nicest towns we had been in. We marched through the town, the bands playing the "Star Spangled Banner." With all the arms at a right-shoulder shift and the bayonets of a good many of the boys loaded with pork, etc. It looked gay and funny. We went into camp some two miles from the town in a beautiful valley. We lay in this camp for some time, the boys fixing up winter quarters. They had a nice place for their camp and were well pleased.
January 9, 10 and 11, it rained and the boys were all trying to get furloughs. Life in the camp there seemed so dull, as the boys did not have much to do except fixing up winter quarters. With all the little extras that is necessary to camp life there was one thing the boys were proud of, and that was the water.
January 12, found us still in our camp near Huntsville. We had a heavy frost the night before. The boys were still working on their houses. Some of them had very nice places to live in and they looked quite fashionable.
During the balance of the month we still continued in camp. On the Nineteenth, our baggage arrived. We lay in our quarters until March 13, 1865, when we struck tents about noon and marched to the cars, that being the first time the regiment had the pleasure of riding on the railroad since it left Camp Noble, in August 1862. We left the same day, passing through Stevenson, Bridgeport, Chattanooga, Knoxville and on to Strawberry Plains. On the morning of the fifteenth, we went into camp in a beautiful place. We lay there till the twenty-third. Our wagon trains arrived next day and we moved out up the Holston River, then on to New Market, and went into camp on Mossy Creek.
On the twenty-fifth, we again resumed the march, passing through Moorsville to Russellville, and bivouacked. The next day we arrived at Bull's Gap and went into camp.
On the twenty-eighth we again broke camp and marched through the Gap some six miles and went into camp, where we remained until April 3, 1865. We were then ordered to have three days' rations in haversacks and seven days' rations in wagons, leaving our baggage behind. We then took the North Carolina road, and after marching fourteen miles we halted for the night. The next morning we were on the march early, crossed the Chuckey River, and went through narrow passes in the mountains and along the French Broad River into North Carolina.
April 5, we were on the march up the river. At 10 a. m. we halted and drew rations and left the wagons and artillery behind. After a march of seventeen miles we reached Marshall.
On the sixth, we moved out early and arrived at Alexander at 10 a. m. After destroying a bridge we moved on up the river. We arrived at Ashville at 3 p. m. Here we found the enemy. Lines were immediately formed, and a sharp skirmish ensued, which continued until night, the enemy using a battery. Just at dark the right wing of the regiment was placed on picket, but at 8 o'clock they were drawn off and we marched about ten miles and went into camp for the remainder of the night.
On the morning of the seventh, we were on the march early, and after marching nine miles halted on Clear Creek for breakfast. The next day we marched fifteen miles.
On April 9, we took up the march early and reached Hot Springs about 10 a. m., and went on over the mountains, a distance of ten miles.
The next day we continued the march, taking dinner near Chuckey River and went into camp near Greenville.
We continued to march on the eleventh, and reached our old camp on Lick Creek about 2 p. m.
April 12, it was a rainy, disagreeable day, but the next was clear and delightful, and all the boys, and every one else, were rejoicing over the news of Lee's surrender.
On the eighteenth we received orders to get ready to march at once, and at 2 p. m. we marched to Bull's Gap and bivouacked.
It was while on this trip that we heard of President Lincoln's assassination, and the boys were very sorry.
General Kirby, in speaking of this expedition, said it was to make the enemy concentrate all their small bands at Ashville, and that it accomplished the object.
On the nineteenth, our division hospital was shipped aboard the cars.
On the twentieth, we took the train and went to Knoxville. While the train lay here an accident happened to one of the men in the brigade. He got knocked off of the cars and fell under one and was cut in two. One of our boys, Wm. H. Coleman, of Company H, went to look at the man, and the cars gave a jerk and broke his arm.
Leaving Knoxville we went to Stevenson and on to Nashville, where we arrived at 8 p. m., April 22. We left the cars west of town and bivouacked for the night. The next day we went six miles from Nashville on the Cumberland River, where we arrived on the 23d of April. The camp was called Camp Harker.
Some time in November Captain O. P. Anderson, of Company K, was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel of the regiment and while we lay in cap at Huntsville, Alabama, he was made colonel, and commanded the regiment in the expedition to North Carolina.
Our Adjutant, John J. Gallagher, having resigned, Colonel Anderson appointed Lieutenant John Schwallier, of Company I, to fill the place, he resigning in February, and Sergeant Thos. L. Cole, of Company I, was elected.
We lay in camp on the banks of the Cumberland River all throught the latter part of April and the month of May, 1865, the boys all anxious and waiting to go home, as they considered the rebellion at an end. They spent their time in camp doing guard and police duty, occasionally getting a pass to the city.
On June 1, it began to be noised about that we would soon be mustered out, as our time of service was drawing to a close.
In the first week of June we began to get ready to go home.
On June 11, General Kimble, our division commander, assembled the regiment together and made us the following address:
"HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION, FOURTH ARMY CORPS. CAP HARKER, TENN., JUNE 11, 1865"
"Lieutenant-Colonel Anderson, you with the officers and men of the Eight-first Indiana, after three years of gallant devotion to the cause of our common country in this war against rebellion, are now about to return to your homes with honor unstained, and with reputations bright with glory. Your deeds will live forever. In nearly every battle of the Southwest you have been engaged, and you have borne the flag of the Union and the banner of your noble State to victory over the foe who would have destroyed the Government made by your fathers. God has given you the victory; remember Him. And now that the was is over, the rebellion at an end, remember those whom you have conquered; use victory as becomes brave men and true soldiers; return to your homes with enmity toward none and love for all. I know that you will be the best of citizens, because ou have been the best of soldiers. While we live enjoying the honor and privileges which your valor has won and saved, let us ever cherish the idols of our hearts the memory of our comrades who have given up their lives for the salvation of our country, who fell by your sides battling for the right. Remember the widows and orphans of our dead comrades. Be true to them as our comrades were true to us and their country. My comrades, accept my gratitude for your devotion to me personally. You have been true and noble soldiers and brave men. May God ever bless you and crown your lives with happiness, and each of you with peace and plenty. Be as you have ever been -- true to God, to county, to friends and to yourselves. Good-bye, my comrades. Again, God bless you.
Brevet Maj. Gen. Commanding First Div., 4th Army Corps.