FORAGING IN MISSISSIPPI
We carried prety good loads. A knap sack, a change of clothes, a blanket, a rubber blanket with a lot of other things. Also a over coat. All soon got rid of some of our things - over coats, blankets, pant shirts, sox was discarded. Some places the side of the road was strewn with clothes. We camped close to Holly Springs. A very beautiful little town. I don't think I seen a neater and cleaner town in the south then Holly Springs. We left there. Came to a place called Lumpkins Mill. A small grist mill was here. On this march we camped in a timber and small creek ran at the foot of a hill. Just before we broke ranks the colonel said boys you know the orders against foraging. But over across the creek are a lot of hogs. But don't let an officer catch you. We got three or four nice big porkers and had plenty of fresh meat. We had very strict orders agaist taking any thing. But we lucky and were not caught. South of here I met a nomber of boys of the 46th Illinois (a Regiment with many members from Freeport area). We could only talk as we passed. We campt on the Tallahachie River. The water was a fright. Lots of dead mules in the river.
Here old Price, a rebel General, had built strong forts just across the river but he could not hold them. We took up our march for a town named Oxford. A nice clean town but no one seemed to be at home. The people had all moved out when they heard the yankies was coming. We marched south of Oxford to a little creek called Yankma Creek. Here we stayed several days. While here one night we had a earth quake. It shook the ground so we rolled on over in our beds. Some men, scared considerable, thought the rebels had planted some torpedoes (a land mine was called a torpedo during the civil war) to stop us.
One evening a great uprore in camp - fall in, fall in was the cry. Drums began to beat. Bugels blew and in a short time we started on the back track to where we did not know. We got to Oxford. Went in camp east of town during the night. The long roll of the drum began to be heard. We ware routed out and in line of battel. While here we heard the rebels had taken Holly Springs where our suplys were all burned up. The night we were in line we could hear teams and wagons moving south. No doubt they were rebels. But we soon broke rank and went to our quarters. Again the rebels destroyed nearly a million dollars worth of property. All the officers uniforms had been left their to follow up. But they were all destroyed. It caused lots of hardship. All our hard tack, all the meat was destroyed. We suffered for food. (This action in Holly Springs and Oxford took place on December 20 and 21, 1862).
On our way back we had nothing to eat but corn. I remember we got a big coffee mill. We spiked it to a tree and ground corn nearly all night. We were new to cooking but we learned. Oh how good it tasted to a hungry man. We marched back toward Holly Springs and on Christmas we camped for a few days at a place called Lumpkins Mill. A small grist mill on a creek was all that was there. Some of the boys ware out foraging and got a good sized fat hog. We bought some flour. The quarter master and our cook made some doughnuts. They tasted splendid. It was a cold Christmas. Right on a bare hill we camped. We had the old Zibly (Sibley) tent where 24 men slept in one tent. We left for some place we knew not of. We marched till we got to a small town on the Memphis and Charleston railroad at a small town called Jermontown. We stoped a few days then moved to a station called White Station. Some 12 miles from Memphis.
There we went east to winter quarters. When we got there an old planter by name of Brooks lived alone in a fine big house of (unidentified word). We had strict orders against foraging. But Brooks had a fine lot of sweet potatoes in rail bins. Some five or six of them. Well we were not alone in sampling Brooks potatoes. We kept taking till the bins was all empty. We stayed there quite a while. Their was an old log house stood some 20 feet or more from the main building. It must of been 20X30, some ten feet high. One end of gabel end was out and it looked as tho it was filled with cotton seed. A guard always stood pretty close to this building. One night one of the boys crawled around the guard and got up on top of the cotton seed. He began to dig down for nothing could be hid. But what we would find some two or three feet down he came on some boards. He dug till he uncovered a space and behold there were the choice of the potatoes. He came and routed us out. We began to carry potatoes till we had all we wanted. Then told the other companys and by morning the sweet potatoes were pretty near all gone. Say we lived good for some time. It was reported. Old Brooks still told the officers the old house was full of cotton seed. Hence the officers never done a thing to us. Their was some 50 or more goats running around in a yard and among them a lot of kids. We got quite a number of them. Spendid eating.
While we layed there the spring of 63 we had a snow storm. Some 10 inches of snow fell. Well do I remember the night for I was on picket a good mile from camp. In trying to keep my feet warm, I burned my shoes and pant legs so they crumbled to pieces. We were wet for it had rained the day before and till mid night. Some 20 or 30 rods from our picket were some cattel and amg them a nice fat calf. Our cook brought supper out and coffee. We told him we got the calf and hid it in the snow. So in the morning the cook went some little distance out to a small hay stack. Got a bundel of hay; roled the carcas in; started for camp. When he got to camp the hay had droped off so that the legs and part of the calf ware exposed. He dumped it in a barrel so we had calf meat for a time.