Journal of the Kosciusko Guards • Company E • 12th Regiment

 Written by William S. Hemphill • Transcribed by Marjorie Priser

 Chapter 3


June 12th We arrived at Evansville about 7½ a.m. and were kindly greeted by the Citizens. We camped about two miles below the City at the Rodian Coal Mines. Ten men were detailed from each company for camp Guards and we set about making ourselves comfortable as possible, without tents or any substitute therefore.

This is certainly a very beautiful Spot. Behind us lies the happy free North, with all her broad prairies, thriving villages and quiet cities, with all her free institutions and with all her advantages. To the right lies the mighty West with all her resources, the "Ne Plus Ultra" of the husbandman. To the left lies the East with her commerical and manufacturing cities. While before us lies the fertile fields of Kentucky with her fair daughters and her valorous sons but also with the cursing blight of Slavery hanging over her like a pall. Those who have heretofore been foremost among the true in defence of the country are now looked upon with suspicion. But still it is to be hoped the true sons of Kentucky will rise superior to the influence now being exerted and that they will proudly claim their place among the loyal states.

Our camp is as has been already remarked in a beautiful spot on the banks of the Ohio. But there is one deficiency and that is the lack of good water. We have to use the water from the river for all purposes which to those who have been accustomed to pure water is a great inconvenience.

June 13th Through the night Klans' Battery spoke at intervals to passing Steamers to lay to reminding us that war has certainly thrown her mantle over our hitherto peaceful country when the broad Ohio cannot be navigated without all the formula of Permits, Clearances &c. At 4 p.m. we had a Skirmish drill. Dress Parade at 6. At Tattoo 14 of the men were reported absent. D. W. Hamlin Sick.

June 14th We passed away the time as best we could having Dress Parade in the evening. The absentees of last evening were detailed for extra duty to day. Allowing those who obey the rules to rest and enjoy themselves as they see best, while those who violate the rules have to do the duty. The weather was excessively warm and the men are complaining about the water and the strict rules of camp. Many of them are sick. D. W. Hamlin, Winter, Cowic and Wheeler were sent to the Hospital today.

This being the first sickness we have had in the company has the effect of casting a gloom over all. The disease which has made its appearance among us is the Measels. The Hospital is full already. The rules of the camp are very stringent and rather ridiculous. No one is allowed to go to the river for water without a written pass or being accompanied by a Corporal to ensure their prompt return to camp.

We had a good joke on Sergt. Davis who went out for water and was taking things very cool when he was halted by the Guard who refused to allow him to pass unless he would get a Corporal to pass him out. The idea appeared so ridiculous that Charlie could not keep his face straight as he informed the Guard of his rank, he having no coat on to exhibit the emblem of his office, was compelled to call a Corporal to pass him out. The joke was enjoyed the more as it bored Charlie so bad.

During the night the steamer "W.H.B." was stopped, having on board a large quantity of munitions of War consisting of canons, small arms and ammunition. The commander of the vessel declined giving an account of himself or vessel which was a strange craft in these waters and the boat was moored under our guns with a strong guard placed on board while a dispatch was sent to Gov. Morton for orders concerning her.

All through the day rumors were circulated in camp of the intention of a Secession mob coming down to release her by force. About midnight the men were called to arms. In just five minutes from the time the first alarm was given our boys were in ranks and had marched to the quartermasters where there was ten rounds issued to each man. The night was intensely dark but the fitful flashes of lightning revealed a look of firm determination on every face. Every man was at his post, notwithstanding the approach of a heavy rain which soon began to come down in torrents. They awaited the approach of an enemy with eagerness. John Deardorff had been sent to the hospital in the evening, but hearing the alarm he rushed to the quarters, secured his arms and sought his company in the darkness, telling the Captain if there was fun going he wanted to have a share of it. But after getting pretty well soaked the word was passed to retire to the quarters and be ready at a moments warning. Slowly they returned to their quarters and bitter were the curses as it passed from rank to rank that it was only "a Sell." Nicely and Imel were reported sick this evening.

June 16th D. W. Hamlin, Winters, Wheeler, Watts, Westcott and Metternich are reported Sick in Hospital. Twelve men detailed for guard duty. Oliver Hubler was excused from duty by the Surgeon on account of ill health. The steamer "W.W.B." was released this morning by order of Gov. Morton and proceeded down the river to Cairo taking with her three Companies as far as Mt. Vernon. A great many Citizens of Evansville visited our Camp today (Sunday) and the boys declare the world is filled with "dutch." And it is to be remarked not one really pretty woman has yet shown her face in camp.

June 17th Roll call at 5¼ a.m. Shows 12 on Camp Guard, 1 Nurse at Hospital, 3 sick at Hospital and 4 sick in quarters. Capt. Hubler was officer of the day. Orders were given for a detail of 24 men from Co. E for guard duty today. The Captain was notified that two of our men D. Hubler and Rauch had visited the City in the evening and indulging too freely in the "Ardent" had so far forgot their duty as soldiers as to insult the ladies who were passing along the streets, and that for this offense they were held in custody by the civil authorities. They were allowed to get out of the scrape the best way they could. It being the Captain's purpose to punish them when they return to camp. They were fined by the Mayor and released when they were brought to camp and put on extra duty Twenty four hours. McGuire who obtained enough of "Forty rod" to get comfortably drunk was confined to the guard house till sober. Captain very sick during the night.

June 18th Roll call at 5¼ a.m. Captain and six privates reported sick. Twelve men detailed for guard duty to day.

June 19th Three more companies left us to day and proceeded to Newburg. This gave us an opportunity to get into comfortable quarters. Having been compelled to fix temporary Shelters heretofore. We are now quartered with Company A. We were all anxious to hear from home and were informed there was a large package at the Post Office, which had been forwarded from Indianapolis, but as there was advanced postage charged on each letter, and none of the boys scarcely could muster a "red", the prospect for getting them was rather dull and there was a great many long faces and sad ones too. We finally got a little change together and a pass was given to the 1st Sergeant with an order for whatever mail matter there was in the office for Company E and he was sent for the same. The letters were secured and the hearts of the boys made so glad that in many instances they forgot to even thank the orderly for paying out the last cent he possessed to secure the missives that gave them so much pleasure. Still he was richly repaid by witnessing their joy on the occasion. And never spent money that did him more good than that trifle.

June 20th Every day has its incidents and accidents and this one, which gave but little promise up till 5 p.m. was crowned by a run away of a Horse with a wagon containing a man and two women. It caused great excitement but resulted in nothing serious.

June 21st The Evansville Journal contained a letter from some valorous citizen of Owensboro, Ky. in which we are informed of the organization of a force which has for its object the storming and clearing out of the City of Evansville and the extermination of the "Dutch 12th" as he calls us and winds up with threats of vengeance against every body and the rest of mankind. Another letter of the same kind was forwarded to Col. Wallace, and taken both these epistles together it certainly gave us great uneasiness; as there was but few of us that felt like being so suddenly disposed of by the secesh; however willing we might be to face danger on the battle field, so unceremonious a way of disposing of us, had a tendency to strike terror to the hearts of the bravest, and make us wish it was somebody else.

June 22nd This morning we went to the Commissary and drew our provisions as usual, but on examination we found the fresh beef tainted and so badly handled that the boys refused to receive it, and it was taken back to the Commissary and a complaint lodged at Head quarters. We still had the regular drills and this evening were handed over to the tender mercies of Capt. Morrison of Company A who kept us out from 5 p.m. till nearly dark. This appeared to have been done for spite, as there was some talk of a change in the Regiment which would give our Company his position. But the change was not made although we would have been entitled to it.

About 2 o'clock a.m. of the 23rd we were called to arms and were informed that two Steamers had come up the river to within a mile of Camp and lay to on the Kentucky shore and paid no heed to the hail of our pickets. As there appeared to be a great amount of noise going on, it was thought advisable to know something about them. The men were aroused and formed without confusion and Company E was ordered back by the Hospital to protect the rear of the encampment from surprise. Six of our men were dispatched as scouts to ascertain if possible the nature of this visit. They returned after an absence of an hour and reported having hailed the two boats repeatedly without any answer being returned. Capt. Morrison had then ordered them to fire into them which they did, when one of the boats backed off from the shore and started down the river, leaving the other one lay. Upon boarding her, they found her to be fitted out with a diving bell and apparatus for the raising of a Steamer which had been sunk at this point some months previous. This report being satisfactory, the men were dismissed to their quarters at day break.

About 3 o'clock p.m. Abraham S. Black of Etna Green, who had been sent to the Hospital four days previous, breathed his last. Death had claimed his first victim from our ranks and lay his icy hands upon one who thus far had shown himself to be strictly moral, though not pious, a true friend, a genial companion and a good soldier; always at his post, never complaining on account of the duties assigned him however arduous. His conduct had been the esteem of his companions and the confidence of his officers. He died happy in expectation of a blissful immortality. Comrades with a sisters tenderness had soothed his dying hours; had knelt by his lowly cot and mingled their voices with his in prayer. And now, while they forget all that might have prejudiced them against him, and remember only his virtues, tears chase each other down their manly cheeks, such as a mother or sister might have shed had they been permitted to gaze upon his face, now calm and still in death. Those who were but a few hours ago so thoughtless and apparently reckless are now seen with noiseless step and tender touch preparing the body for the grave. And a question is presented to the mind of each one, which forced itself upon them on the eve of our departure from home: Whose duty will it be to break to a widowed mother and loving sister the sad tidings of his death? His bosom companions, Sparrow and Birt, undertook to discharge the painful duty; while every preparation was made to pay the last sad tribute of respect to a fallen comrade.

But circumstances made it necessary to postpone to another day this sad duty. About 5 p.m. a messenger came into our camp, post haste, from Newburg, stating that two Steamers had been seen within a short distance of that place, having on board some 600 to 700 troops which it was supposed was designed either to attack Newburg or Evansville. This report was confirmed by the arrival of another messenger with the intelligence that Evansville was most likely to be the object of their visit. The men were immediately formed and forty rounds of Cartridges distributed to each man and without giving us time to eat any supper or procure water we were marched up to the city where we found all was excitement. The Home Guards were out under arms and we were enabled to count on a force of about 1000 men to repel an attack.

The 2nd Platoon of our Company was left at a bridge on the road leading to camp and was commanded by 1st Lieut. A. P. Gallagher who improved the time by training the boys on a charge at double quick through the bridge, which was continued so long they were completely exhausted, and some of them concluding they would be better off, gave him the slip and joined the balance of the Company in town, leaving the Lieutenant to experiment with his double quick and "Poulson's Battery" (an old Navy revolver) until he got his face and eyes blowed full of powder and was dubbed Capt. of Poulson's Battery by the boys. In the meantime the men in the main body were so disposed as to meet the enemy in the streets and were ordered by Col. Wallace to "rest in place", when after issuing this order the Col. retired to a "House of Entertainment" to enjoy the sweet society of some ladies of doubtful character during the night. Meanwhile the men without a murmur stood there waiting further orders, or the approach of the enemy.

Fired with an enthusiasm such as only dwells in the Hoosiers, they almost forgot that they had been on constant duty for about 20 hours during which time they had broke their fast but once, while not a man in Company E was fit for duty owing to the prevalence of the "Flux" for a week past. But some of the citizens, more thoughtful or humane than the officers, procured a supply of Bread & Crackers which was distributed to the men about 10 o'clock p.m. This, with water for which we had been suffering being furnished the order was issued by Capt. Morrison to "rest at will" when the men threw themselves in almost every posture on the ground to rest.

One poor fellow who had been standing so long thoughtlessly raised his foot and placed it on the hammer of his gun on which his arm was resting. As the order was given he dropped his foot to the ground, in doing which the bottom of his pants caught on the hammer drawing it back so that when they slipped off his piece was discharged tearing his arm off at the elbow and shattering the bone so that it was necessary to amputate midway to the shoulder.

After this accident everything was quiet till 12 o'clock when we were again formed and a generous supply of crackers distributed, after which we were marched by company to the "Washington Hotel" and furnished with all the warm coffee we could drink. The effects of this stimulant was magical. Every man appeared to have new life and energy imparted and would no doubt have entirely forgotten the fatigue of the past night and day, had the enemy made his appearance.

But after being served as before stated we were marched back to our old position where in a few minutes the whole troop might have been seen sitting or stretched out in almost every and any conceivable position, where we remained undisturbed till sunrise when we were ordered to "fall in" by Capt. Morrison of Company A, who being the Senior Captain, assumed the command and gave us another specimen of his love of power by drilling us around the streets for an hour or more. And there is no telling how long he would have kept it up if the citizens who were possessed of more sense and humanity had not interfered by calling on our officers to detail the men by squads for the purpose of partaking of a warm breakfast generously provided for us at the different Hotels by the City authorities.

After partaking of a good warm breakfast the men were again formed and started for camp all danger being, for the time being at least, passed. Proceeding as far as the Battery we were met by a hearse conveying the remains of one of our men belonging to Company H to the Depot, he having died the day previous. Orders were issued to countermarch and we accompanied the corpse to the Depot to render a tribute of respect to our departed comrade. Col. Wallace now left us to proceed to Indianapolis to make an effort to procure our transfer to the U.S. Service.

We marched back to camp which we reached about 2 o'clock p.m. with the pleasing reflection that we would for a time be under the rule of Capt. Morrison for whom the men all entertain feelings of "great respect" if we can judge by the "blessings" called down upon his devoted head.

At three o'clock p.m. all the arrangements having been completed, we proceeded to pay the last tribute of respect to our deceased friend and comrade A. S. Black. The ceremonies were very impressive and some appropriate remarks were made by Sergt. Maj. Dwight Klinck and just as the sun was sinking to rest we turned from the grave of our comrade with a sigh. He sleeps in a beautiful spot surrounded by the giant forest oak. A neat enclosure surrounds his grave. A board on which is carved

Abraham S. Black


June 23rd 1861

Aged 25 years

Kosciusko Guards

Company E

12th Regt. Ind. Vols.

is placed at the head, both the work of those who had learned to appreciate his worth and mourned his loss and who in his sickness endeavoured to fill the place of "the loved ones of home."

This sad duty being performed, the men were dismissed to their quarters to seek the rest and repose now so much needed. But we were soon reminded that Capt. Morrison was in power, by a requisition for 16 men from each Company for Guard duty.

This demand considering the duty performed during the past two days was so unreasonable that the "orderly" not having the fear of Capt. Morrison before his eyes refused to make the detail; and after some threats, which were disregarded, and considerable reasoning succeeded in getting the detail reduced to five men from each Company, whereupon the required number immediately volunteered to go on duty for the night.

The men are truly in a deplorable condition at present. Scarcely a man is able to do duty owing to the prevalence of the "Flux." The medicine given appears to have no effect owing no doubt to the fact that the only water we can get is from the Ohio river which is very low and almost stagnant. Still they bear up bravely and show a disposition to be jovial and put in the time as pleasantly as possible. While all appear to be united in calling down blessings of a doubtful character on the head of the immaculate Morrison, who puts on more airs than if he was chief in command and from the way he drills us around appears to think exercise is the best medicine for the diseases we are afflicted with. Canards are floating through the camp on every breeze, some of which have us discharged, disbanded, set home on half pay and some transferred to the U. S. Service.
June 28th Capt. Morrison today ordered Capt. Hubler to his quarters under arrest for refusing to give up his marque til he was provided with some other shelter. Lieutenants Gallagher and Williams who went up to headquarters to learn why the arrest was made was ordered back to their quarters by this brave man be cause as he said "they came in a menacing manner" and "self preservation is the first law of nature". He also compelled one of his own men to stand with his back against a tree for about eight hours for getting drunk, but at the same time was so much under the influence of liquor that he could hardly talk.

June 29th Col. Wallace returned to camp today and relieved the noble Captain from his responsibilities but is unable to give us any satisfaction as regards our future service, but brings the cheering news that the Paymaster will visit us soon. Lieutenant Gallagher was officer of the day. Capt. Hubler was released from arrest by the Col.

June 30th S. G. Robbins was sent to the Hospital. The boys are generally on the mend and enjoy the luxury provided by nature in the shape of fine large Blackberries which grow in such abundance that the camp is over stocked, although we can put a large number out of the way, when we have good cream, which can be procured easily. We were favored with a Service by one of the City Clergymen, and in the evening a Bible class was organized in the Company.

July 1st 1861 The health of the men is deplorable. Not more than one half of Company E is fit for duty, and in fact the whole company look more like the emptyings of some hospital than like fighting men. The camp was thrown into a state of excitement this evening by a quarrel between Capt. Morrison and one of his men named Atkinson whom he had abused considerably which terminated in Morrison's drawing a revolver and aiming at Atkinson's head, who dodged just as the Captain touched the trigger. The ball struck above the ear and passed up around the head without breaking the skull. Atkinson was conveyed to the Hospital where he received surgical attention. Morrison, taking shelter at Head quarters to escape the violence of the men, who would certainly have done some violence could they have caught him. During the night the brave Captain had urgent business to attend to in the city and took up his quarters there to await the action of a Court Martial.

July 2nd The excitement occasioned by the shooting of Atkinson still runs high. The temper of our men is not soothed much by the issue of "eighteen pounds" of Crackers in lieu of Bread for one day's rations for eighty two men. This is a piece of carelessness on the part of our Commissary for which there can be no excuse, as supplies are abundant, while the men have not the money wherewith to procure provisions.

July 3rd We were furnished to day with 48 loaves of sour bread which is only about half rations. Nothing eatable can be procured this side the city while the men have not the means to buy it, if it is placed before them.

July 4th was ushered in by the joyous barking of "Uncle Sam's Dogs." There is music in their deep toned voices, which is calculated to stir up the patriotic feelings of any man's soul. The men are enjoying themselves in various ways. Some have gone off to attend a Pic Nic and Sunday School Celebrations while those who are too weak to enjoy themselves in this way were loitering around camp, picking up scraps of fun wherever they can be found. To close up the festivities of the day, a large company of "Phantasticks" came to camp and gave an exhibition of their skill in military matters which was very amusing.

It is surprising to see what an influence one man can exert either for the benefit of the many or for their discomfort. This we are permitted to see demonstrated in the character of two officers. Capt. Morrison whose name has occurred several times in these notes and Adjutant John W. Moore of the same Company (A) who is winning the love of every man in the regiment by his kindness and generosity. He is to be seen passing around the encampment with a nod of recognition to one, a kind word for another, some needed medicine for the sick or some little luxury provided from his own purse, while with cheering words he instills a new vigor into the sinking frame much better than medicine or any remedy which man can administer. Would to God we had more such officers in the service, who win the confidence of the men by showing what hearts they possess. Men will follow any place they would lead and men with such hearts would lead wherever duty would call.

July 5th We are again on short allowance of Bread, which makes the fourth day. A complaint was lodged at Head quarters and we were assured this state of things should be inquired into and every effort used to prevent a reoccurrence of the evil. It has gone to such an extent that forbearance ceases to be a virtue and should the like occur again the Commissary department will be renovated by those who suffer the inconveniences.

Again the service demands our attention and it is rumored in camp that Col. Walace, instead of trying to get us into the U.S. Service when at Indianapolis, was really using his influence to prevent such a movement. Thus, while reports are circulated at home that the 12th refuses to leave the state, the truth is the Regiment has been misrepresented by the Colonel who is afraid to face the music and would rather lay here in idleness while the men are all impatient to share the dangers and privations of the service with their friends who are winning imperishable laurells in Western Virginia, while we are kept cooped up in camp on the Ohio by the man who is misrepresenting us at home. This state of affairs has gone to such an extent that the men have lost all confidence in the Colonel, who is known throughout the Camp as the "old Lady" "Old Granny" "Old Woman" etc.

For instance while on Dress Parade one evening the Colonel and his lady were seen coming down from head quarters when one of the boys remarked to his next man "Why there is the old Colonel". "Which one of the two is it?" was the dry response. It was a notorious fact that the man we are compelled to call Colonel did turn his back on the enemy in Mexico and run away leaving his Company to fight it out without him or to do as he had done. But probably this was only to prove the truth of the old adage that

He who fights and runs away,

May live to fight another day.

Be this as it may, the men have resolved to let Gov. Morton know their desire to be in "active service" by signing a paper asking to be transferred to the U.S. Service, or at least to have the privilege of leaving this and joining other regiments now organizing in different portions of the state. This paper is signed by nearly every man in the four companies now here and we are assured we are seconded by the balance of the 12th.

The Bible Class organized a few days since continues to meet every evening and is well attended while sectional ideas are set aside each one is free to express his views or ask questions on any passage which may be read. The result has been that the evenings pass very quietly and pleasantly and certainly with more profit than if spent in the usual pastimes.

July 9th Everything has passed off quietly for the past few days with nothing to excite or alarm us except the accidental or careless discharging of muskets. Benj. James made a narrow escape to night by accidentally discharging his musket while on Guard Duty. The charge passed between his fingers without doing any other injury than scaring him bad and benumbing his fingers so that he had no use of them for a few days.

[July] 10th The men are beginning to feel rather independent. Some of them swearing they would not drill any more until they would get some pay. It is hard to convince men that by enlisting they have laid aside their independence of action and no longer have a right to say they will or they won't do anything. It is probable however that the state of uncertainty will not last much longer for soon as Kentucky takes a decided stand either for or against the government, the 12th will undoubtedly be placed in active service in Kentucky or Virginia as occasion may demand. At present the Regiment certainly has great reason for complaint as they have been fooled so much, they don't really know whether they are in the service or not.

During the night the Regimental Colors were taken down by some one causing considerable excitement when it was discovered. It was probably the work of some dissatisfied man in camp.

The discipline is rigid; punishment for even trivial offenses severe. One mode being to compel the offender to sit down facing a small tree with his legs astride the same, his feet are then tied together, his wrists are also tied close and both hands drawn up above his head and tied to the tree in this position he is left for one hour.

Another is to tie the thumbs together with a cord then compel the man to stand by a tree where the cord is drawn up and fastened in such a position as to compel the man to stand "tip-toe" or hang with his weight on the thumbs. Still another mode is called "Bucking" and is done by tying a man's feet together also tying his hands together, he is then compelled to sit down on the ground and draw his feet up until his knees are between his arms where a stick is thrust under his knees with the ends resting over the bend of the elbow, leaving the victim in a perfectly helpless condition. Either mode can be and often is made more severe by "gagging" the victim also, and usually lasts one hour. If anything will justify a man in murdering an officer it would be in retaliation for inflicting such punishment as no circumstances can exist under which an officer can be justifiable in ordering a punishment at the same time so severe and so degrading.

When men have been imposed upon and lied to so much it is very hard to control them. If there was more truthfulness used by the controlling powers there would be but few cases of bad conduct to punish.

Accidents from careless handling of arms occur every day. One of the Fort Wayne boys was killed on the 13th inst.

[July] 14th Inspection of quarters. Episcopal services in camp. Review and inspection of arms. To Company E was awarded the praise of having everything in good order, for which the thanks of our officers was tendered.

[July] 15th A man named Fields, belonging to Co. A, having stole some money was tried by Court Martial and sentenced to have his Head shaved and be drummed out of camp and service. At 4 p.m. the Regiment was drawn up in open order where the sentence was read and Fields with his Head Shaved and hands tied behind his back and a large label "Thief" on his back and breast followed by a guard and the band playing the "Rogue's March," passed between the ranks and out of Camp. (The same man, enlisted immediately and was pronounced a No. 1 soldier)

On the 17th the Regiment was marched out to a beautiful grove near the Hospital where we found between 300 and 400 Ladies and Gentlemen from Evansville congregated and a most excellent dinner provided. There was an abundance of everything; and to say that the kindness of those who manifested such an interest in the command, was appreciated, will hardly express the feelings of those who, since leaving home, had received so few kindnesses at the hands of any one. It was one of those bright Spots in the life of a Soldier that are never forgotten.

July 18th The colonel returned from Indianapolis with the exciting news that we are to be accepted immediately with the Service for one year and the no less pleasing news that we are to make out our Rolls and receive our pay immediately to date.

[July] 19th The long looked for came at last. The Paymaster made his appearance this morning and counted out the needful in full to date. This closes our State service and henceforth Uncle Samuel will claim our allegiance and foot the bills.

[July] 20th The Regiment was brought together. The detachments from Newburgh and Mt Vernon both reporting for duty.

[July] 22th Ordered to prepare four days rations and hold ourselves ready to march at thirty minutes notice.

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