This is the third chapter to Robert Carden’s story. Chapter 3 covers drunken high jinks, unscrupulous dealings and battling with William Rosecrans’ Army of the Cumberland. Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 are available on our website.
From Cumberland Gap we went to the railroad above Knoxville and took the cars to Tullahoma and went into camp where we stayed for some time. I was then within 14 miles of home and I visited home quite often. Our adjutant liked a drink of applejack quite well and as there was a still near my home I would get a pass frequently. I suppose our Colonel did not know anything about it, so I would run up home, visit the folks and lay in a jug of brandy.
I remember on one occasion while we were camped there one of our company had been out about five miles to visit his people and a night or so later four or five of us went out to where this fellow reported that his brother-in-law, a preacher at that, had a lot of liquor on hand and was selling it. As we did not want to buy any, one of the crowd acted as officer, and he told the preacher we wanted some liquor, and as he said he had some the officer told him we would have to take him to camp together with what liquor he had. If you ever heard any begging that preacher did it. As we didn’t want the preacher some of us told the officer that if he would promise not to sell any more we would let him off but we would be compelled to take what liquor he had, which we did, and let him go.
As quick as we got started we commenced to store it away and when we got back to camp we were a lively set. It was a cold frosty night and the first thing I did after getting to camp was to try to catch a dog. We had an old fellow in our company who had a little wooly dog. I had a big fish hook and baited it with a piece of meat and proceeded to catch the dog. He did not take hold of it for some time and while I was lying down on my stomach expecting him to bite one of our crowd became boisterous down on the company grounds and an officer was about to put him in the guard house. One of the boys started down there to help him out of the difficulty and I heard him go kersplash into one of the wells we had dug. I was so tickled that I knew the old fellow who owned the dog would hear me laughing so I jumped up to run just as the dog got the bait in his mouth and I dragged him a little distance when the fish hook tore loose and the dog got away. But Charlie Lance got an awful cold bath just the same.
We stayed at Tullahoma for some time until we heard of Rosencran’s and a lot of Yankees at Nashville, and as we had whipped Buell at Perryville, we hiked off down to Murfreesboro, passing through Manchester, my home town, so I got permission (I suppose) and went out two miles to see my mother and stayed all night at home, and was back to my command by daylight the next morning.
It took us two days to march to Murfreesboro and we stayed there some time until Rosecrans came out from Nashville to see what we were doing.
We marched out four or five miles on the Nashville road and formed in line of battle and the first thing Mr. Rosecrans knew we were onto him. Our forces put it to him hard and heavy, driving back his right back some distance but we could not move them back but a little where the river turns north from the pike and railroad, so we started south toward Chattanooga to see if we could find some Yankees to whip.
Before going any further with our move I will tell you about our regiment being sent down toward Nashville before the battle to see what was going on. We marched down about Lavergne, half way between Murfreesboro and Nashville and on passing a house about sixty rods from the pike we saw a bunch of our men down there, so myself and Mose Messick went down there to see what was going on. We saw a citizen selling apples to the boys out of a window. He was selling them for 50 cents a dozen. Neither Mose or myself had a cent and I thought it was no go for us, but Mose, after standing there for some time said: “Look here, ain’t you going to give me my change back at all?” and the man said he didn’t know he owed him any change and Mose proved by me that he had given him $5 and he was tired of standing there so long. The man forked over $4.50 and we went out to the pike. Mose gave me a part of the money and I went back and bought what apples we wanted.
After the battle I went over the field and saw where our forces had captured a battery and there were more dead men to 40 or 50 yards square than I ever saw during the whole war. Most of them were Yankees and I think from the way things looked that the Yankees used their guns until most of them were killed right on the spot. I noticed also that they had cut their horses throats. They were lying around there men and horses together.
We started on the retreat and went to Shelbyville via Murfreesboro and camped there quite a while. Rosecrans did not follow us up and I guess both sides got a plenty.
From there we marched to Tullahoma and remained there until in the summer time. While there we threw up breastworks and cleared Bragg’s “new ground” on the west and north of town. The clearing was something like a fourth of a mile wide and went by the name of Bragg’s New Ground for years. We did not get to plant it as Rosecrans flanked us and we had to hike for Chattanooga.
On this march I remember I found some apples about the size of a quail’s egg, under an apple tree and I ate about as many as I could hold, and that night we were notified that we could draw some rations but I was too tired and sleepy to get up. I was about petered out and had done without rations so long I was not hungry.
-Compiled by Leonard Martinez and originally from the memoirs of Robert C. Carden. Chapter 4 will be published in the future.