On the morning of June 24, 1863, we were ordered to move, with twelve days' rations and a full supply of "rebel pills." At 9 o'clock, when we began to move, rain commenced falling, which made the roads very heavy, crowded as they were with wagon trains, artillery and infantry. Our brigade, commanded by General Carlin, moved out on the Shelbyville pike about six miles, when we turned off to the left, and took a course by crossroads and through fields of waving grain until about noon, when we halted for dinner. Heavy firing was heard to our right, and in a short time our brigade moved forward toward Gray's Gap, where a brigade of the enemy was. General Willich was hard at work driving the enemy from this stronghold. As soon as we came in sight of the field we were formed in line ready to take our share in the fight, but our services were not needed, as the gallant Willich and his heroes had completely routed them. We bivouacked there for the night and our regiment went on picket duty. We thought it rained about as hard that night as we ever saw it, and most of the bread in our haversacks was spoiled by the water. Early the next morning we moved on two or three miles and halted at a camp vacated by the enemy the day before. The boys went through it and came to the conclusion. that they left in a hurry, as tents, cooking, utensils, clothing, etc., were thickly strewed over the ground.
About noon heavy skirmishing began in sight of us toward Liberty Gap, and in a few moments the artillery joined in the fray, and the loud cheers of the combatants, as they gained ground or lost it, announced that the battle had become general. General Johnson sent to General Davis for a brigade, and in a few minutes our brigade, was in line, and pressing forward to the line. On arriving in full view of the valley in which the fight was raging we looked at a sight which was very exciting to us. The artillery on either side was belching forth shot and shell from the surrounding hills. while the infantry, with cheers and yells, swaying to and fro, could be seen stubbornly contending for the mastery. But the starry banner of freedom, mid smoke and blood, could be seen slowly advancing. We advanced down in the valley through a wheat field and formed in line of battle. The shot and shells were flying over and bursting all around us. Our regiment behaved nobly, forming as coolly as if on dress parade, every man and officer in his place, and all anxious for the order to advance. In a short time the Thirty-eighth Illinois and the 101st Ohio were moved off, one to the left and the other to the right. In a few moments we could hear increased firing on our left, and we knew the Thirty-eighth was engaged. The enemy was driven back to the last range of hills, where they made a desperate stand. Our troops charged up to the top of the hill, but being met by superior numbers were compelled to fall back, which they did in good order. During that time the Seventy-seventh Pennsylvania, while stubbornly falling back, were met on the hillside by the Thirty-eighth Illinois, which was hastening to their support, and as soon as they got within hailing distance, the Thirty-eighth called to them to lie down so they could fire over them. The order was promptly obeyed, and a steady volley was poured into the enemy's ranks, and with a cheer the Thirty-eighth swept past, up the hill, and the enemy was soon in retreat, leaving their flags in the hands of the gallant Thirty-eighth as a trophy, and the hillside strewed with dead and wounded. In this gallant charge the Thirty-eighth lost some twenty men.
This ended the fight for that day, and our brigade advanced to the hill and bivouacked for the night, most of our regiment being on picket duty. During the night we moved to another point, and in the morning, after an early breakfast, the enemy was found to be in a strong position on another range of hills. Skirmishers were thrown out, and we advanced and were soon briskly engaged. The Thirty-eighth made a charge on the left and lost several men.
About 1 o'clock the Eighty-first moved around to the right of the Thirty-eighth, on a ridge, where, we remained till about, 4 o'clock in the afternoon. We could hear rapid firing and heavy cannonading in our front, which we thought was from the troops sent around the night before.
A little before sundown the Thirty-eighth made an effort to bring their wounded from the field, who had lain all day in the rain between the two fires. A hospital flag with nurses was sent out, with permission asked and given, to bring them off. They went forward and had placed one man on the stretchers, when the treacherous scoundrels opened fire on them, compelling them to leave the field. One of the nurses had several holes put through him, and the others barely escaped. The wounded had to remain on the field till the next morning.
The firing we had heard in our front was at Beach Grove, where the enemy was completely routed. By that fight we opened Hoover's Gap, thus leaving the road open for our advance on Tullahoma.
In the morning the rain continued to come down. We took up our march for Manchester, which place we reached about 10 o'clock at night, having marched over a terrible road, raining most all the time, keeping the boys soaked. We went into camp for a day or so. The boys thought we were getting ready for a big fight at Tullahoma. While here, a compliment was sent to General Davis for the use of our brigade, and one to the brigade for their promptness and good conduct at Liberty Gap, which was read at the head of each regiment.
On July 1, 1863, at Manchester, we received orders to take three days' rations in our haversacks and leave all extra weight behind, and be ready to march at once, and to be sparing of our ammunition and use the bayonet freely in battle. On to Tullahoma was the order. In a short time we were on our way, passing through Manchester, which we found pretty well deserted. We passed Bragg's fortifications and saw his dismantled siege guns. We halted a few miles beyond the town and camped for the night, the rain still continuing to come down.
The morning of July 2, 1863, we struck out for Winchester, and after marching some distance, with more or less rain, we bivouacked for the night on Elk River.
The morning of July 3, 1863, the boys waded through Elk River and marched through a big thunder storm. After wading several creeks, some of them up to their waists, we reached Winchester in the afternoon and went into camp on land adjoining that of Mr. Loughmiller (whose brother lives in New Albany, Ind.), who had a beautiful place. A guard was placed over it from the Eighty-first. The whole trip from Murfreesboro up to this time had been a very severe one, the mud being most of the time from six inches to knee deep; but the boys have stood it nobly. Six or seven were left behind on account of sore feet. Owing to the state of the roads, our supply trains had not yet arrived; and from losing so much bread in the water by getting it soaked, our supply was scanty. The boys man-aged to keep a pretty good supply of meat by picking up bristle bears, horned rabbits, etc., with which the country abounds.
On July 4, 1863, the boys celebrated in a very quiet manner, being busy cooking rations, not knowing what moment we would move. It was predicted some time before that when "Old Rosy" did move he would keep on going unless he ran against a stone wall, and then he would look for some way to get around it, and the boys said he was looking for Bragg's last ditch.
Here we have Colonel Caldwell's report:
"HEADQUARTERS ElGHTY-FIRST INDIANA VOLUNTEER. INFANTRY, WINCHESTER, TENN., July 6, 1863."
Sir -- l have the honor to report the operations of my regiment since we left Murfreesboro. On June 24, we moved south on the Shelbyville pike six miles, and then turned eastward, leaving the pike. A heavy rain falling all day made the roads very muddy and rendered the march very fatiguing. We arrived at or near Liberty Gap, when my regiment was ordered out on picket duty. No signs of any enemy. On the 25th we moved forward through Liberty Gap, and about 10 o'clock halted and bivouacked on the ground that had but a short time before been the camp of the Fifteenth Arkansas (rebel regiment). A heavy rain was still falling and the roads very muddy. About I p. m. an engagement commenced in our front, and about 2:30 p. m. we were ordered forward. My regiment, by the direction of General Carlin, moved over the hill in line of battle and took the position near a battery then engaging the enemy, where we remained until the firing in our front ceased, when I was ordered forward to take position for the night. We bivouacked on the side of a hill west of the road and threw out our pickets, connecting on my right with the pickets of the Twenty-first Illinois and on the left with those of the Thirty-eight Illinois, the picket lines of the enemy being only 600 yards in my front. Nothing of interest occurred during the night. At daylight of the 26th,I caused two companies to be deployed as skirmishers and advanced to a fence some three hundred yards in my front, when a brisk skirmish ensued, with what effect upon the enemy I am unable to say, my men being well covered. No casualties occurred. In the evening my regiment was moved, by direction of General Carlin, to the east side of the road, on a hill and partially behind the Thirty-eighth Illinois, the Twenty-first Illinois on my right, where I remained until 10 o'clock at night, when by direction of General Carlin, I withdrew to the valley some eight hundred yards in the rear. On the morning of the 27th, no enemy appearing in our front, we took up the line of march for Hoover's Gap and camped at dark near a small creek. It still continued to rain, in consequence of which the roads were exceedingly heavy, the march tiresome and the men much exposed. On the 28th we started for Manchester, which place we reached about 11 p. m., and camped for the night on the banks of Duck River. Here we remained for several days, and I left seven men there who were too sick to continue the march. On July 1st, we left Manchester, for Tullahoma, which place we reached about10 p. m. It rained nearly all night. On July 2, we started for Winchester and reached Elk River about 5:30 p, m. and camped on its banks. On the third we resumed the march, fording the river, which was waist deep, and marched through a heavy rain, arriving at Winchester about midday and camped in an open field west of the town. No casualties. Both officers and men, on the march and before the enemy, behaved themselves in a becoming and soldierly manner.
"W. W. CALDWELL,
"Colonel Commanding Eighty-first Regt. lnd. Vol. Inft."
July 12,1863, still found -as at Winchester, Tenn. It is a beautiful place, and the situation is also beautiful, but it was said to be a strong Southern town. One morning we fired a salute in honor of our victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg, which made the citizens feel badly. When the boys heard the news of Morgan being in Indiana they wished they could be there to help catch him.
Our brigade and the army here were in fine condition. When we started out an this march we expected a big fight at Tullahoma, but were disappointed. The health of the regiment was remarkably good, "sick call" being very slimly attended in the morning, and but one case in the hospital. No regiment stood the march better than ours, as we left fewer men on the road than any other brigade, and camped at this place with only seven or eight men less than when we started.
The chaplain of the Twenty-first Illinois favored the soldiers with an eloquent discourse on the twelfth. He was a nice gentleman, and the soldiers all loved him. On the march or in camp he was always found speaking a good word to them. The attendance was generally large and very attentive. After the resignation of Chaplain Green, the Eighty-first had to depend on other regiments in the brigade for their preaching, and at the divine service our regiment was always well represented.
July 26, 1863, the regiment still held the camp at Winchester. The enemy seemed to be alarmed at the success of the Army of the Cumberland. Lieutenant Daniels had been appointed post quartermaster, and Lieutenant Huckeby, of Company K, filled his place as the regimental quartermaster in the absence of Lieutenant Daniels. Colonel W. W. Caldwell resigned. The officers and men were very sorry to see him leave.
The paymaster came once more, and we were paid up to June 30. From the looks of things we expected to move soon. We have been here in camp for some time and the boys are rested up.
On the morning of August 17, 1863, we received orders to cook three days' rations and have them in our haversacks and be ready to move at 2 p. m. When the bugle sounded to strike tents all the boys were ready and moved out with a firm tread on
their journey, passing through Winchester and out on the road toward Cowan. The heat was intense, the thermometer near a hundred. Some of the men were overcome by the heat and fell by the wayside. Very few of the Eighty-first fell out, and those that did were those that had been sick. About sundown we turned into a large field near Cowan and bivouacked for the night, with orders to be ready to move at 5 a. m. On the next morning, August 18, 1863, at the appointed time, the boys were ready. The trains moved out, but we received no order to move. Word soon reached us that the trains had camped, as the roads over the mountains were gorged with teams. Our brigade kept quiet and rested until near 11 o'clock, when we moved out, but very slowly. It is quite a sight to see a train like ours going up over a mountain. Just imagine a train of wagons, stretched out for miles and a whole brigade of men in their shirt sleeves strung along on each side, tugging at the wheels, pulling at ropes, the drivers using the most emphatic language you ever heard to the mules, then you may form some idea of the scene. They kept us busy until some time in the afternoon, when the worst place was passed. About 6 p. m. we halted and went into camp for the night.
During the trip up the mountains the boys made the acquaintance of a number of beautiful snakes with six to eight little rattles on their tails, but they did not keep their pets long.
August 19,1863, at 5 a.m. we were up and again on the move. Our route through the mountains was grand, with all the hard tugs we had getting the artillery and wagon trains over. The roads were good, but water was scarce, and, as the heat was intense, the men sighed for a drink of water from the spring at the old homestead in Hoosier. But, without murmuring, the boys pushed on. Few farms were to be seen, a few orchards, but little fruit, and what there was, was like the country, of a poor quality. The principal productions were rocks, poor peaches, apples, corn, rattlesnakes, old men and women, grass-widows and towheaded children. About 11 a. m. we reached what might be called the jumping-off place, or where we began the descent to the valley below. For the first hundred yards or more the road was nearly perpendicular. In going down, all that had to be done was to lock the hind wheels of the wagons, turn the heads of the mules down hill, and trust to their sagacity, aided by the skill of the drivers, and "let-em-rip." It was rather trying on Uncle Sam's mules and rolling stock, but the job was at last safely landed and the march through the mountain pass resumed.
Some of the scenery through there was beautiful and grand. At times the pass was so narrow that two trains could hardly pass. There were lovely valleys and fields of fine corn. While on the march some cowardly bushwhackers, true to their instincts, fired upon us and severely wounded an orderly, who acted as postmaster for the brigade. As he was riding along with the mail he was shot through the body. The wound, although dangerous, was not mortal. He belonged to the Thirty-eighth Illinois, and was a general favorite with the brigade. We went into camp, with orders to be ready to move at 5 o'clock.
On the morning of August 20, 1863, we started on our journey, which was the same routine, up hill and down hill, until we emerged from the mountain pass and came into another country.
Two Union soldiers were found a few days before hanging to the same limb on a tree a short distance from here. A detachment was immediately sent out to scour the country for that class of savages, with orders to bring none of the breed in as prisoners, and, as far as we know, none were found waiting for paroles or exchange,
The army worm prevailed to a considerable extent in this section of the country, even attacking the cornfields, orchards, etc. Sometimes in a single night a field of several hundred acres of corn will be stripped of every "roasting ear, " and sometimes in an hour an orchard of peaches or apples would be stripped of their loads of fruit. It belongs, we think, to the class which our misguided Southern brothers sometime before sneeringly called the "Anaconda." At any rate, its ravages were very extensive, often attacking rail fences and such like. The people here were very much alarmed at its spread, and were anxious to know how its ravenous appetite could be stayed. The only way we could see was for them to appeal to "Uncle Sam," come back into his family, and no doubt he will stay its march.
We arrived at Stevenson, Ala., on August 21, 1863, where we remained in camp but a few days.
Our surgeon, Dr. Fouts, joined the regiment on the 20th. He had charge of a hospital at Winchester. The health of the regiment was good.
The Rev. F. A. Hutchinson was our chaplain at this time, and became both popular and useful.
Roley Holmes, our sutler, kept up with the procession in his usual grand style.
We were then under the command of Captain N. B. Boon. Our pickets were almost in speaking distance with those of the enemy. The Tennessee River was all that separated them. The barbarous practice of picket-firing has been discontinued, and they said they were merely watching us.
On August 27, 1863, we received orders to get ready to march at 6 a. m. The pontoon trains had been passing nearly all the previous day. The Third Brigade of our division was with them as an escort, and had orders to cross if practicable and hold the southern bank of the river. On the morning of the 28th we marched out of camp and were soon on the road. About 10 a. m. we reached the banks of the river and found that the Third Brigade had crossed and was in possession, the enemy having fallen back. As soon as they began to cross they were followed immediately by the Eighty-first Indiana and the
Twenty-first Illinois, the Third Brigade having moved to the top of the mountain.
We went into camp and remained several days. The pontoon bridge was a fine specimen of work, and reflects much credit upon the officers and men that composed the Pioneer Corps. By the way, we must not forget that Lieutenant John Schwallier, of Company 1, commanded a company, and some twenty men from our regiment belonged to the corps, and they were all picked and good men who planned and superintended its building. It was over four hundred yards long, and was put down in about three hours.
While in camp here we fared sumptuously every day, the fare being beef, veal, mutton, bacon, honey, sweet and Irish potatoes, onions, roasting ears, geese, turkey, apples, peaches, etc., to which due honor was paid by all.
Monday, August 31, 1863, was the anniversary of our departure from Camp Noble, and great has been the changes since that time. Early in the morning reveille was sounded and the boys were soon up and prepared to move. In a short time the command was given and we moved forward and soon arrived at the mountains. It is needless to give a description of our trip up, as it had been and down all the time, and there is but little variety in climbing the mountains with an army train. The view, however, from the top of this range was the most beautiful imaginable. Below was the smiling valley, with its fields of waving grain, while like a silver thread the Tennessee River wound between the high mountains, decked with the brightest foliage, and the bosom of the river was dotted with lovely islands robed in green. In the distance the pontoon bridges could be seen, with a steady stream of blue coats marching over them, their bayonets flashing back the sunlight and the Stars and Stripes waving over them; while the clouds of dust rolling up from the valley, with an occasioned glance of a wagon train, or the glimmer of the guns among the trees, showed that the great Army of the Cumberland was in motion. Our progress was slow as we could scarcely get over one ridge before another was in view. The roads, if they deserve the name, were rough and rocky. We had to wait the movements of the trains, which were very slow.
A number of prisoners were taken during our march over the mountains, but with all our trials we have done one thing and that is to give, the inhabitants their first view of a live "Yankee." They seemed to enjoy it, and looked on with considerable curiosity. The guerrillas in small squads infested our front. While we were on picket the day before a number were seen and several shots were exchanged.
On September 1, 1863, we encamped in Willis Valley, at the foot of a high mountain, some of the boys being up on the summit of the mountain. As we came to this place we had quite a skirmish, in which five of Company C, under Captain Wheeler, were lost. The body of Elisha Stroud was taken into camp by his comrades, and the next morning, after a few appropriate remarks by our worthy chaplain, and the usual religious ceremonies, he was buried on a knoll in camp. A board, with his name plainly engraved on it, was placed at the head of the grave.
One year before that day (August 31, 1862) our regiment lay on the banks of the beautiful Ohio River, almost within sound of the voices of friends at home, but soon these ties were severed and the regiment took up its line of march and countermarch till we were then in Alabama.
September 8, 1863, we were still encamped in Willis Valley, but had just received orders to be ready to move in the morning with three days' rations. On the morning of the ninth we marched out, with a division or two of cavalry leading the way up the mountains, followed by the Second and Third Brigades of General Davis' division. The First Brigade was left in the valley to guard the stores. Our regiment was considerably reduced by Company H being detailed as provost guard at the corps headquarters. Captain Richards and Lieutenant I Jewitt were two of the most efficient officers in the regiment, and their company in point of drill and discipline was second to none, and their absence was regretted by all. We arrived at the top of the mountains about 10 o'clock and halted for some time to wait for the train to come up, and then we resumed our march. After proceeding a few miles the column was halted and the train sent back, there being some misunderstanding in regard to the order by which it was moved. While here we learned that the enemy had evacuated Chattanooga. Our route the rest of the day was through a broken country with but few improvements of any kind. Just before sundown we crossed a creek near the ruins of an old milldam, and marched on until 9 P. M., having, Commenced the descent of the mountain. When nearly one-third of the way down we were met by an order to return back to the summit of the mountain and go on picket duty. Although tired and pretty well worn out by our march through the dust and heat, without a murmur the boys faced about and were soon on top in a lonely wood. The cavalry camped in the valley that night where they were joined by our brigade, the enemy being reported in force ahead. General Davis, whose vigilance never tired, returned to the camp we had left that morning, in order to bring up reinforcements, and arrived the next day accompanied, by his amiable wife, who had thus far in the campaign accompanied her gallant husband. In the afternoon we received orders to call in our pickets and move down into the valley and go into camp. We were soon on our way, but again, when part of the journey was made, we were met by an order to go back and remain on picket another night. The boys thought this was tough, but there was no use to grumble, so, with cheers that made the mountains ring, we once more faced about, and after reaching the summit resumed our picket duty on the mountains.
On the morning of September 11, 1863, we moved down in the valley and went into camp in a beautiful grove, with a spring of pure, cold water within fifty yards of our camp. While in camp here the boys received their mail, and you may be sure they were glad to hear from home and loving friends.
There were all kinds of rumors in camp, some saying the enemy would make a stand at Rome. Our movements had forced the enemy to evacuate Chattanooga, and we took up our march to that point, after remaining in camp for several days.