Marching Orders - Steamboat Ride Down the Ohio - Paduchah - Without Arms - Rumors of an Attack - Armed with Austrian Rifles - Up the Tennessee - Fort Henry - Hog Mountain - First Shot - Savannah - Pittsburg Landing - Death of Capt. Ireland - Rebel Graves - Disembarking - First Camp.
SUNDAY, February 16, 1862, while at Divine service in Company K's quarters, we received orders to leave the following morning, for Paducah, Ky. All was now bustle and confusion. There were letters to write, rations to cook, knapsacks to pack, teams to load, &c., &c., but at it we went with enthusiasm, and by hard work we were ready at the appointed time. What it took us then twenty-four hours to do, we accomplished afterward at a moment's warning. We did not get started until 2:15 P. M., leaving the sick behind in the hospital. We arrived in Cincinnati at 3 P. M., marched through the lower part of the city, and halted at the public landing. Companies B, C, D and E, embarked on the steamer Hastings, the rest of the Regiment and the Band on the steamer Argonaut.
The boats being small, we were necessarily very much crowded. Left Cincinnati during the night, and owing to the novelty of the trip, we were all out at early dawn, on the hurricane deck, to get a glimpse of the country. The sun rose beautifully, but the air was cold. After roll-call on the hurricane deck, we spread our blankets and lay down in the sun to enjoy our free ride. We passed Louisville in the evening, and on account of the low stage of the river, we had some difficulty in getting over the falls. The following day it commenced raining and turned to sleet in the afternoon, which made it very unpleasant outside of the cabin.
We arrived at Paducah, Ky., the following day, Feb. 20th, disembarked, and marched up the Tennessee river a half mile, and pitched our tents in the old camp of the 8th Mo. Reg't. We found it in good condition. The streets had been graveled, and rude furnaces were under each tent. We now commenced our picket, fatigue and guard duty in the enemy's country. We were still without arms, and when ordered on picket were compelled to use old, worthless muskets. There was not even a sufficient supply of that kind of arms, therefore we were compelled to transfer them to each succeeding relief.
Sending us into the enemy's country without arms created considerable dissatisfaction in the Regiment. Rumors came in thick, that the Rebels, who were in strong force at Columbus, Ky., only thirty miles distant, were preparing for an attack on Paducah. We remained in camp, engaged in drilling, fatigue, guard and picket duty, until March 5th, when we were armed with the Austrian Rifle, which proved to be an inferior gun, especially for continued, rapid firing. We were drilled in the manual of arms, and all preparations were made to repel an attack from the enemy.
March 6th, we were ordered up the Tennessee River. We were placed in the 4th Brigade, 5th Division, Army of the Tennessee. The Brigade was composed of the 48th, 70th and 72nd Reg'ts. O. V. I., and commanded by Col. R. P. Buckland, of the 72d, Gen. W. T. Sherman commanding the Division. In organizing the Division and Brigade, Lieuts. Partridge and Coverdale were detached on staff duty, which severed their connection with the Regiment.
We embarked on the steamer Empress, which had a supply of commissary stores, also 200 head of beef cattle for the army. The sick were left behind in the Gothic Hospital. We proceeded up the Tennessee river to Fort Henry, where the army was concentrating, and arrived there the following day, March 8th. The steamer moved about six miles up the river, where the Regiment was permitted to disembark, to enable the soldiers to cook their rations, and practice with the new Austrian rifles. Some of the Regiment did not stop at target-practice, but tried their skill on a lot of hogs. This was the first foraging that the Regiment indulged in. In referring to that place afterward, it was designated as "Hog Mountain." In the evening the boat dropped back to Fort Henry.
On the 9th the fleet, consisting of eighty-two steamers, loaded with troops, started up the river, passing the Memphis and Ohio Railroad bridge, which had been burned to the water's edge a short time previous. We arrived at Savannah, Tennessee, on the 11th, and were greeted by large crowds of citizens, who seemed to hail us with delight- especially the slaves.
The only incident worthy of note transpired on the 10th, as we were passing a high bank, where a number of women and children were cheering us, by waving their handkerchiefs. When just above them, among the cedars, there was heard the sharp crack of a musket and the whiz of the buck and ball. One buck-shot was extracted from the coat collar of one of the Regiment, who was standing near the bow of the boat. The rebel made good his escape, through the timber. This being the first shot the regiment had received from the Rebels, it created considerable excitement.
On the 13th, our Division was ordered up to Eastport, Miss., to cut the Memphis and Charleston R. R. and thus prevent Gen. A. S. Johnston from reinforcing the rebel forces, under command of Gen. Beauregard, who were encamped at Corinth, Miss., which is the junction of the Mobile & Ohio and the Memphis & Charleston R. R. The plan was abandoned, on account of the heavy rains and high waters, and we returned to Pittsburg Landing on the 15th of March. Capt. Ireland, who had been sick for several days, died that night, and was buried with military honors the following day, Sabbath. This was the first death in the Regiment, that had occurred in the South.
During the day we visited the battle-ground of the gun-boat engagement, that took place on the first of the month, and saw the graves of the rebel dead Their burial bad been hurried, for they were but a few inches under ground and many of their faces were exposed to view.
Tuesday morning, March 18th, after a confinement of twelve days on board
the boat, we disembarked at Pittsburg Landing. The only buildings there
were a store-house, a grocery and a dwelling. From here roads led to the
neighboring villages of Corinth and Purdy. The rebels had erected a battery
on the high bluffs above the landing some months previous, but it had been
captured by the gun-boats on the first of March. We camped a half mile from
the river, where we remained three days.