This is the second chapter to Robert Carden’s story. Chapter 2 covers the Battle of Perryville, along with the long march to Cumberland Gap. Chapter 1 is available here.
We remained in camp for a few days and then marched in a northerly direction, passing through the country where several companies of our regiment were raised and we could see women and children on the roads to greet their loved ones as we marched along. We arrived at Gainsboro, on the Cumberland river and stopped for a rest. A lot of us went down to the river to go in bathing, and I remember a circumstance that occurred while we were in the river. Some of our teamsters came down to water their mules and one of our boys asked permission of one of the teamsters to lead one of the mules into the water. There were several in the water at the time and the mule soon got into deep water and if there ever was a circus that mule certainly made one. It was but a little while till everybody was out on the bank and the soldier and the mule had the whole river to themselves. The soldier finally got away from the mule and we thought sure the animal would drown. Sometimes his head would come to the surface, then the other end would show up, then his feet were up, then he would disappear altogether, but he finally quit his capers, stuck his nose out of the water, circled around a little and came ashore.
After resting up a few days we started northward toward Kentucky. We passed several towns, that I do not remember much about, after fifty years, but I remember that we passed through Bardstown. We also went out of our way to a place named Munfordsville where about 4,500 Yankees had repulsed some of our cavalry but when they found they had Bragg’s army before them they surrendered.
I never saw any of them but I remember the night before the surrender we were lying down in the road and by the side of it, when a wagon or artillery got up a big hub-bub and if there ever was a scared lot of tired out Rebels it was us. Everyone was asleep, I suppose, and such running and scrambling I never saw. I remember that I was so scared that I left my gun lying in the road and everybody seemed to be hunting a tree to get behind. I think a Yankee corporal’s guard could have captured the whole outfit. I understood at the time that the panic ran through the whole army. I was in another panic in Georgia and it was on the same order. Everybody was scared almost to death and it started in the same way.
From here we continued our march until we arrived at Perryville, Kentucky. The battle of Perryville was fought on the 8th day of October, 1863 [Note: This should be 1862]. Gen. Bragg said in his report of the battle that his forces did not exceed 40,000, all told, and that Gen. Buell had about two to one. Bragg says: “We captured, wounded and killed not less than 25,000 of the enemy, took over thirty cannon, 17,000 small arms, some 2,000,000 cartridges for the same, destroyed over a hundred wagons and brought out of Kentucky more than a hundred more with mules and harness complete, replaced our horses by a fine mount and lived two months on rations captured from the enemy, and secured material to clothe the army.”
I remember we went into the battle close to a small creek. We had just got to the top of a small hill when we saw the enemy rise to their feet and then business began, and things were hot for a time. There was a battery on our left that was giving us grape and canister and the bullets were singing around us. A man was standing just in front of me while I was loading my gun and I happened to have my eyes on him just as a canister struck him in the breast and I saw the white flesh before it bled. He was a dead man.
Col. John H. Savage, in his report of the engagement said that our regiment, the 16th Tennessee, killed the Yankee general Jackson. The Yankee general was one of the bravest men that ever went into battle. Some of my company was close by him when he was killed. They said that he was standing on some part of a cannon with his hat in his hand, urging his men to put it to us. Our men demanded his surrender but he would not notice a word they said and in the conflict some one shot him dead.
After giving the Yankees a good thrashing we started to hunt some more to whip. We had full possession of the battlefield but our rations being about out we started for Cumberland Gap. On this retreat I suffered more with hunger than I ever did during the war. I remember one day on that march myself and a comrade were sitting down by the road to rest when our Assistant Surgeon came riding by and I asked him if he could give a fellow a bite of something to eat. He reached down in his haversack and gave me a biscuit which I divided with my comrade, and I think to this day how good that biscuit tasted. We had a hard time on this trip as the Yankees had been over this road on their way to Cumberland Gap, and where they had been there wasn’t much left for us.
-Compiled by Leonard Martinez and originally from the memoirs of Robert C. Carden. Chapter 1 is available here. Chapter 3 will be published in the future.
Oh, I'm a good old Rebel, now that's just what I am; For this "Fair Land of Freedom" I do not give a damn! I'm glad I fit against it, I only wish we'd won, And I don't want no pardon for anything I done.