GOING OFF TO WAR
The fall before I inlisted or the year the war broke out no one could get me to go to the army. In the fall of 1861 we was husking corn one noon. An old pedler came to our house. He had a linement he sold. Said it was so good for sore hands. Father told him to come eat dinner with us and while we ware eating they talked war. My I trembled to hear them talk. Father would say this war won't last only a short time for the south had no food or war material. The old man said don't you believe it. They have plenty. Father said they raised nothing but cotton. No wheat or corn and they depended on the north for food. The old man said you will find out it will be a long war and your boy may go to war yet before the thing ends. My how I trembled. I was an awful coward. Nothing could get me to inlist and go to war. I was then in my 18th year and in reading history where they drafted men and put them in the front ranks to keep them from running away. I think if I was put in the front rank I would study how to get out.
Well in the spring of 1862 the Battle of Shilow was fought and a numbers of boys were killed and sent home. I was in Freeport (Illinois) one day and a Captain of some regiment was sent home dead. He laid in state up in one of the churches. I went up and went along with the people and marched in the churh to see him laying in his coffin. I had never before seen a soldier of the United States.
I got home and told pa and ma I wanted to go to war. I never felt so in my life. I just felt a great duty that I never before thought of. I stayed at home thro the summer. But in August their was a rally at the high school building in Cedarville. I was there and got the fever. To a finish that evening they recruited for a company. A man from Orangeville was recruiting for a company. This was on the 11th of August and all my comrads or associates inlisted. That is I did want to go. But I did not want to go till I had the consent of father and mother. The first thing they asked me when I got home was did you inlist. No I did not but do give your consent and let me go. All the rest of the boys have inlisted and I want to go along. Finely father said you have our consent to go and may gods blessing go with you. My dear mother stood beside me with her hands to her face crying to most break my heart. Oh the sad moment. I got my breakfast. Went to Cedarville. Put my name on the list. Was then sworn in the army to serve three years as during the war. I was now a United States soldier and was redy to go any time.
We stayed a week or so. We got order to go to camp in Rockford (Illinois). Oh what a time. I don't know how many wagons were in line from Cedarville to Freeport. Lots of people went to see us off. At those times people did not have spring wagons or buggies but a good stout lumber wagon and a board seat to sit on. When we got in sight of Freeport or rather the bridge across the river we got out of the wagons and marched thro freeport. About one hundred. We were a gay set of boys. All happy and all expected to come home after the war was over. Little did we know what hardships were before us. We left Freeport in the afternoon some time. Oh the tears by fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters was a sight I never seen or want to see. I nearly broke down when I gave father and mother good by and brother and sister. Some to young to know what war was. The depot and platform was lined with people to see us go. Oh how many gave their hands for the last time there. How many god bless yous were the remarks of many.
Finally the train came. We got aboard. Soon started and all the waving of hands and hankerchiefs. I never seen what were the thoughts of fatheres and mothers on the road home. No on knows. We were a noisy set of boys. Little did we care for what their was ahead of us. We was now on the road south to do or to die.