Sunday, 13 March 2016

from Blackwater Quartet, selection 77

Letters from the Earth

                               Blue rondos a la Garbo…
                                                     I think of you, and the days come through in pieces


I embrace the present opportunity
of dropping you a few lines.
I did not think that I would write again
until I received some money,
but the time has come when we were to be paid,
and yet another disappointment.
I cannot tell whose fault it is,
but there is palpable injustice
to say the least of it.

Somewhere, we were ordered aboard the steamer Diana
the day before yesterday, and promised once started
we would receive pay for the months
of January and February.

                               I think of you, 
                                                and for cocaine my dove’s foot  
                                                in these branches  
                                                cannot be steadied more

The boys started off in good spirits,
but we laid at the wharf eighteen hours.
A great many of the boys were drunk,
and tried how troublesome they could be.
We had our hands full to keep them down.
We started from Louisville yesterday at ten,
ran down about twenty miles, and hauled in
on the Kentucky shore about three in the afternoon,
where we are yet awaiting for the Brigade to come down.
We are very much crowded on board.

Our Regiment wagons, teams and all,
make it disagreeable.
The night before last I slept on the hurricane deck
and last night in the cabin.
I am still enjoying good health,
though Tom Debenport has the mumps.
Thomas Hamrich is also with us
and is getting pretty scared, but the balance is well.
Cam Williams got his money and seems proud of it.
The boys who received their money spent it freely,
indulging in all the luxuries of city life.
I was content with the usual camp fare,
thinking that when the money was gone
it would go hard on them coming down again
to hard crackers and fat bacon.

Kav Bullock is promoted to a captaincy
of the Company that Tom had,
and I send an extract from The Louisville Journal
about our Regiment, and will write as soon as I can.
In the meantime I should like to hear from you
as often as possible.
Address to Louisville, where arrangements are made
to forward to the Regiment.

                                        the roads aligned
                                                and the distances contained


Yesterday I went to Pulaski, and there
met with the Major for the first time since his return.
He was in command of the camp,
and so busily engaged that I could not get
an opportunity of speaking a dozen words to him.
He gave me your letter, a pair of socks,
and a cake for which accept my kindest regards.
The cake I divided as you instructed
after coming back to camp.

We are now in the midst of great excitement.
Yesterday I found Pulaski blockaded.
Expecting an attack every hour,
they have been laying on arms for three days,
though they have less than half the forces of the rebels
and all the trains and commissary stores
of this Division to guard.
Report by telegraph say the Ninth Michigan
and Third Minnesota Regiments are prisoners,
and Murfreesborough taken by the rebels.

The first time we apprehended any danger
we had two hundred infantry
and less than eight hundred cavalry,
and last night sent off one hundred cavalry.
The rail cars were kept here all night
waiting on General Nelson’s Division,
which is ordered up but has not yet come,
and our mail and papers did not come yesterday.

                                         keeping still
                                                until the body burns
                                                and falls away


Another week has rolled around,
and with it my obligation to drop you a few lines,
though I have nothing of interest to write.
I am still in the hospital here, though better,
and am in no pain, only neuralgic pains
and they are not severe
but when I exercise too much and get my blood warm.

I despise to be thus confined.
Only a few in hospital here
but what are out all day in town.
I steal a march on the old doctor myself sometimes,
though he watches me very close.

Tom Williams is here,
but has not come out since he came.
I never saw a man try as hard to die.
Only a few days ago he concluded a few hours
would wind up his earthly career.
Accordingly, I had to write a letter to that effect,
but in a few hours he belched the wind
off his stomach, which relieved him.
It would not do to tell him so,
but there has never been anything
the matter with him but the colic.

                                        remembered not
                                                as anything to worship
                                                or lament

There was only one died
of the number that came from our Regiment.
Another, John Thompson, belonging to Company “K”
cannot last long.

The rest of our boys will soon be able
to join the Regiment, but I do not expect
to be able to stand hard camp duty
until cool weather sets in.
If I cannot go home and have to stay in service,
I want to be with my Regiment.
They are still at Murfreesborough,
though strongly entrenched as I learn.

                                       as in scenes determined
                                                by dangerous asides

General McCook’s remains were brought in yesterday.
He was killed while riding in an ambulance
by a cowardly fiend in the shape of a rebel.
Sick, he was not able to ride horseback
and had got too far in advance of his men.


I take the opportunity to write,
knowing you would be anxious about me
when you heard of the great battle here,
begun on the morning of the twenty-third.

Our Brigade made the attack, drove the rebels
and occupied their first line of entrenchments.
Our Regiment lost two killed and several wounded,
Ferrin, George Faulkner’s step-son
being one of the killed.

On the twenty-fourth our Brigade laid still
while General Hooker’s forces engaged the rebels,
fought hard all day driving the enemy
from their stronghold on Lookout Mountain,
capturing eight batteries and two thousand prisoners.

Yesterday it became our turn to operate.
The rebels laid still and within rifle-shot of our line.
About noon, the order was given for our Brigade to advance,
and the most terrific battle of modern times ensued.
A spirit to conquer pervaded both armies,
but Sherman turned their right flank
and they were compelled to give way.

Our Corps charged them out of their strongholds
and up the steep hill of Missionary Ridge,
now covered with artillery and terrible with losses,
though we stand victorious with twenty seven thousand
prisoners as trophies, and more anon reported.

I cannot tell what the Regiment has lost.
I have just seen six of our men brought in dead
and hear of several others.
Three of my Company are badly wounded,
two of them mortally.
A.A. Tarvin, one of our sergeants and my old mess mate,
is shot through the mouth, I think not seriously
though his jawbone is shattered and his teeth broken out.
The rebel army is demoralised.
Our forces are still after them,
and reportedly have them surrounded.

                                       but by degrees
                                                calm and unmistakable

I was not in the battle from the effects of neuralgia
and rheumatism in my head.
I was excused, but saw it all.
The rebels are now burning and destroying all their stores,
our forces in close pursuit, with another battle
expected tomorrow near Ringold.

                                       an offering of yellow corn
                                                a calendar set in order
                                                the seasons made clear


Yours bearing the date November twenty-second
is at hand. Impatient to hear from you,
as since I last wrote the Regiment was ordered out
and I was not able to go with them,
and was left in camp with several others.

I was very lonesome, and asked to go to the hospital
to do what I could in nursing our wounded,
as I had heard they were suffering for attention.

I found them worse than I expected,
and was put on duty on one of the largest wards
among complete strangers.

The weather was very cool, the windows open,
and no fires allowed.
I caught a severe cold which rendered me unfit,
and though I have asked to go back several times,
it has been refused me, but today
I shall go without orders.

                                         To orient the days
                                                and not float forever

It is horrible to see the suffering here.
Our hospital is only one of many in Chattanooga,
yet there are over three hundred patients
wounded in every manner, some with arms off
and some with legs off.

I have been here since the first day of December
and have witnessed scenes of suffering
that would sicken the heart of any man.

My ward contains thirty-two men,
and we have lost but one since I came,
though our dead house is kept pretty full
from other wards.

                                           tool devotion
                                                to a necessary repose


I have anxiously expected a letter from you
for several days, but being disappointed
I shall devote a few moments to a short letter.

I returned to camp yesterday,
having been at the hospital doing what I could.
Bill Parker is the only one from our Regiment
who died there, but there are two or three others
whose recovery is doubted.

We hear the Regiment is coming back in a few days
from somewhere in South Carolina,
though nothing definite from it,
only that it was at Kingston.

                                        selective, affixing
                                                nuclear or lithesome
                                                burning clean
                                                though not without reprisal

Chattanooga is still a dry place, no settler’s store,
not anything that a soldier could buy,
not even a sheet of paper.

                                                      perhaps not without
                                                a turning glance sometimes
                                                sometimes not without
                                                a moment of intended recognition 
                                                a kind of believing

Colonel Mundy was relieved at Louisville
and ordered here.
He arrived in town a few days ago,
reported to General Thomas, stayed three days,
and returned home without visiting camp or hospital
to see his men.
I understand he has resigned.

                                        The sky falls in
                                                but a lone figure
                                                remains in sunlight

None of our wounded have yet got furloughs,
but for two lieutenants who were slightly wounded.

                                      in moonlight

It is now thought that we will remain
on the defensive until spring.
The rebels are fortifying at Dalton.

I have learned that General Hardee will supersede Bragg
and is ordered to act on the aggressive.
I must close now, as I have just done a big washing,
am very tired, and must go to cooking dinner.

                                       cloud shadows
                                                moving across her face


Yours bearing the date November twenty-ninth
and mailed December second is just received.
Enclosed I find four P.O. stamps.
I have a pretty good supply of stamps,
getting them from Dr. Black.

                                      and the stars, too

GEORGIA, JUNE 14, 1864

… daily expecting heavy fighting along entire line
have been in the woods two and a half days
without moving expecting orders I feel quite unwell
Frisley was killed Hardison missing
James Buckner left wounded in the field
but few left to tell

                                       causes having little
                                                to do with what certain scenes arise from

peace to our country pray for me I think of you

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