Rumors were rife and, soon confirmed that Bragg had escaped us, and that we were going to Nashville, Tenn. We had been without tents now for several weeks, the absence of which, along with hard marching, caused a good many of our regiment to get on the sick list. While in the camp a great many of the regiment were sent back to the rear sick. We did not stay long before the regiment was on the tramp again. The roads were full of dust which made the marching terrible. On the march, nearly four days, a great many of the men gave out and fell from the ranks completely exhausted. The ambulances and regimental wagons were full, and one was fortunate if he got to ride at all. After a man rode in an ambulance a while, the doctor would make him get out and another would take his place. Many a longing eye was turned toward the ambulances, for a chance to get into one of them. The sufferings of those days of marching was terrible to many a poor soldier. Some of them never recovered from the effects of it. In fact, our first campaign in Kentucky was the ruin of our regiment, for even at that time we had earned the name of the " Scouting Regiment. " On our way we passed through the town of Danville, Ky., going into camp five miles from Lebanon.
The next morning Company B was detailed to go on picket, posted about a mile from camp, with orders to allow no one to pass the lines without a written pass from headquarters. A great many soldiers were already outside of the lines, foraging on their own account, and when they returned they were arrested and kept under guard until morning. Before the pickets were relieved, they had taken quite a pile of pumpkins, chickens, etc., but most of the plunder was permitted to be taken along back to camp.
While we were in camp at this place, our sutler arrived, and the boys were very glad to see him. It had been several weeks since he was with us. His arrival produced great excitement in the regiment and brigade. All the regiments in the brigade wanted to buy from him, but our lieutenant colonel posted a guard around his wagon, with orders to allow none but the Eighty-first men to buy from him. This created an unfriendly feeling in the other regiments, and they said they would clean him out, but one of our boys jumped up in the wagon and offered to fight any one of them that wanted to pitch in. We expected a fight, but things cooled down among them, and the sutler was not molested. The regiment had a jolly time that night, for it had been a long time since the sutler was with us.
Before we left this camp we had quite a heavy fall of snow, which made things look winterish. Orders were received to be ready to move, and pretty soon we were on the road again for another long and tiresome March. Our destination was supposed to be Bowling Green. We reached there the last week in October, having been six days on the march. We marched to the outskirts of the town and went into camp. How long we were to remain we could not tell. Clothing was issued to the regiment at this place, for some of the men stood in great need of it. Shortly afterward a very large number of men were sent to the hospital, which reduced the regiment considerably.
On November 4, we left Bowling Green to march to Nashville, Tenn.. While on the march, we heard that General Buell had been relieved of the command of the army, and General Rosecrans was to take his place. We camped one night at Tyree Springs, a place built for the comfort of pleasure seekers, but now deserted. It must be a delightful. place in summer, making a fine place for a camp on account of the good and pure water. The next day, marching from this place, our advance was attacked by guerrillas who were posted, in the mountains on the left of the road. Our regiment was ordered to double quick, which was done in excellent style, and we were very soon near the scene of the fight. A few companies of the regiment in advance were deployed as skirmishers, and they very soon made the enemy decamp. There were several killed and wounded on the enemy's side. No one was hurt on our side. The sutler wagon of the Twenty-fifth Illinois was captured, but was re-taken before they got anything from it. While the skirmishing was going on, some of our skirmishers climbed a very high hill to flank the enemy. Our lieutenant colonel, mistaking them for the enemy, one of our batteries opened on them and threw a few shells, when an orderly rode up, crying out that they were our own men, and to stop firing, which was done immediately. Nearly all of the boys knew they were our men, but our lieutenant colonel thought different and ordered the battery to fire on them. It created a good deal of talk in the regiment for a long time afterward.
We were ordered to move forward again. The air was pretty chilly, so we marched fast. Toward evening we came in sight of the city of Nashville, Tenn., which we were all anxious to see. Our arrival had opened the city again to the outside world, as the enemy kept our men who had garrisoned the place pretty close to their works. We went into camp at a little town called Edgefield, on the opposite side of the river from Nashville. We were glad to get into camp to rest, for the last day's march was very severe on us. A great many of the boys bad sore feet, and they had to limp most of the way. In the morning we moved farther toward the river, and put up our tents in regular cam style, it being the first chance for a good while.
The day before we arrived the men had a skirmish with the enemy, who burned the railroad shops and some cars and then hurried off. A part of our army marched over to Nashville and camped outside of the city, while others remained on this side of the river. A few days after we arrived the enemy destroyed a tunnel on the Louisville and Nashville railroad, which caused quite a delay in transacting business between Nashville and Louisville. The mails and rations had to be wagoned thirty. Miles from Mitchell, which point was as far as railroad trains could go. Still we had plenty of rations, and did not want for anything. It took our wagon trains four days to go and return from Mitchell. The boys were now impatient for our sutler to arrive, and he was expected every day. Here we had plenty of drilling to do, besides fatigue duty of all kinds. Our captains drilled us daily, and we had battalion and regimental drill as well as brigade drill during the week. Our sutler arrived a few weeks afterward, and the boys were delighted. While we were there a great many of the friends of the boys in the regiment called to see them.
Rumors began to circulate again that we would move soon. On the twenty-sixth orders came to march, but they were countermanded, so we fixed up our tents again. When General Rosecrans assumed command of the army, October 24, 1862, the regiment was assigned to the Third Brigade, First Division of the Fourteenth Army Corps, Major General McCook commanding, Major General Jeff. C. Davis commanding the division, and Colonel Wm,. E. Woodruff commanding the brigade, consisting of the Twenty--fifth and Thirty-fifth Illinois, Eighty-first Indiana and the Eighth Wisconsin Battery.
General McCook, our commander, belongs, as every one knows, to a fighting family, and when an opportunity offers no lack of generalship or, courage will cause a reverse to our army. General Jeff. C. Davis, our division commander, as we well know, is a native Hoosier, and has already written his name high on the roll of fame by his skill and gallantry during the war. He is one on whom the army can rely in any emergency that may occur. General Woodruff, our brigade commander, is pretty well known, having served as an officer in the Mexican war; he is a thorough tactician, a strict disciplinarian and of undoubted courage - just the man to lead the brigade, and is perfectly idolized by the men.
Our camp life was the same every day, varied with little change in picket and fatigue duty. We received marching orders again on the evening of December 3, 1862, so next morning we struck tents and packed up. We felt sorry to leave our camp, as we had begun to like the place right well. We marched from our camp and crossed the Cumberland River on a pontoon bridge, marched through the city and out on the Franklin turnpike for about seven miles, when we filed to the left into a strip of woods a short distance from the road, and went into camp; the ground being marked off, we put up our tents and were soon fixed up for housekeeping
We had a heavy fall of snow the second day after we came here. This was a beautiful place to camp in, fine large trees all around us, and the ground was nice and clean. Our quarters were policed regular every morning, the companies being formed into messes. Each mess had a non-commissioned officer appointed to see that the men obeyed all orders issued from headquarters. At this time the weather was pretty cold and severe. Some of the boys had old camp kettles hung in their tents, which they would fill with live coals, warming up the tents very well - sometimes it made them too warm. We received new clothing after we came here. As guard and picket duty was pretty heavy, most all the boys drew overcoats, if nothing else; nearly every other day our, regiment's turn came for guard on picket duty, and sometimes they had to stay on duty thirty-six hours, during which time, of course, out of rations, some of the boys eating walnuts and parched corn till they got back to camp. Our picket lines were advanced further out, and in relieving the pickets they forget some of them, which was the cause of their remaining out so long, and this made picket duty a great bore sometimes. The officer of the day was constantly around the lines, and at night there was no telling when the grand rounds would pay us a visit, consequently we could hardly get to sleep before some one would call out, "Roll out, here comes the grand rounds."' All the reserve would jump up, half asleep, rush to the gun stack, get their guns and fall in line, if possible, before the grand-rounds would arrive within saluting, distance. During the day, while part of one of the companies was on a picket post, the reserve were out in a field hunting and chasing rabbits. The officer of the day came around, and arrived at the post while the boys were running as hard as they could to get there before him. The alarm was given that he was coming, but some were so far off they could not get there in time. The officer took it in good part, but remarked to the lieutenant that he should be more careful in the future and not let the reserve scatter out so much. The lieutenant felt bad about it, but that night there was such an uproar on the picket line that some of us went out to ascertain the cause. There were some of the boys whistling, singing and cutting up generally along their beats - quite a ludicrous picket line, truly, with the enemy not far, off. Soon that was stopped, and everything got quiet and orderly.
On our way back, we met couriers riding very fast, clearing the road. They were shouting that the general was advancing. We met several squads of, cavalry trotting along, and in a few moments General Rosecrans and staff approached. His staff was dressed very fine, in fact, much finer than the general. We took the right side of the road, and as we marched past we brought our guns to a shoulder, giving him a marching salute. One of his staff rode close to us, and inquired who we were. Our lieutenant replied that we were pickets, relieved and returning, to camp. The boys were much pleased with the appearance of our general.
While we remained in camp, our regiment and brigade went out on several scouts in the direction of the enemy. On December15, I862, our brigade went on a foraging expedition, leaving camp at daylight in the morning. The day was cloudy, but not very cold, we marched about six miles and then halted, while our wagons drove into a large field on the right of the road and up to some barns and outhouses, and the boys commenced filling the wagons right away. While some were doing this, the companies were posted away in advance, and on the right and left of the road to give the alarm in case of danger. One company was posted to watch the rear. A great deal of caution was used, as this ground was used by both parties for foraging. Before the wagons were all loaded it began to rain, and rained very hard, but we had to stand and take it. Some of the men took shelter under trees for awhile, but it did not do much good. As soon as the wagons were loaded, we started back to camp. Part of the brigade marched in front and the balance in the rear. It rained very hard all the way back, and when we got to camp we were completely soaked, through. A more dismal set of men you never saw. To make matters worse, we could not get our suppers as the rain beat out the fires - so all hands went to bed supperless and wet to the skin. With all this, the boys were very jovial, and took it good-naturedly. Before retiring, orders came to be ready to march in the morning with three days' rations in our haversacks. We thought this was poor consolation for wet, supperless soldiers. We did not move the next morning, though the order was still in force, and we could not tell at what moment we would be called to march.
It was at this camp we received a new tent, called a shelter tent, which was to be a substitute for our Sibley tents. The report was that when the army moved we would have to turn our Sibleys over and take the new ones. These tents were in two pieces about the size of half a sheet, with buttonholes all around the edge, about six inches apart. A button was sewed to every buttonhole, so any two spuare ends would button together. They were intended for two men, each man carrying his own half on his back. They were made of linen and weighed but very little. Their appearance created quite an excitement and no little disgust. They were condemned by both officers and men, and considered a grand humbug - something gotten up to kill the men by exposure. They were issued to all our companies, some of the men taking them and others refusing them. These were christened 'dog tents" and "puppy tents." A story was told, shortly after they were issued, that General Rosecrans was riding past a regiment one day, who had these dog tents, and he asked the boys how they liked them. They got down on their hands and knees and ran into the tents and immediately afterward stuck their heads out, imitating the barking of a dog. The general rode off laughing. It was not many months afterward though, that our army would not have any other kind of a tent. In fact, they became so attached to the dog tent that they could not do without it. They turned out to be the best thing we ever had, especially when we found out how useful and handy they were. Our regiment never had any other up to the time they came home. The old shelter tent has done many a, good day's service to the veteran soldier and he will never forget it. It has been his companion in many a long dreary day's march. It has sheltered him from the wind and rain, by day and by night. It has been the home of his comrade and himself for many a year. Many a letter has been written to his mother, wife, sweetheart or friend beneath its shelter, and many a one received from home has been read by the light of a piece of candle stuck on a bayonet under its roof, or by the light of the fire built close to its mouth. Many a life has gone out from beneath its folds in the land of the enemy, far from home and the ones that were deeply loved. Joy and gladness, sorrow and sadness, have both paid it a visit while it was the home of the boys in blue. It has been laid away, securely packed, and the bugle call that has been blown so often to strike it will be heard no more by us.