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19 January 1862, Kentucky, War Between the States

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Lt. Col. Carter's Diary, Part 2

Saturday 14th. Dec. 1861

Tod started to Nashville, in command of a lot of prisoners, accompanied by Dan Cliffe.

Twenty eight of our Cavalry Picket of Snow's Command, up near Waitsborough, asked at a house, permission to stay all night, the landlord immediatly shut the door, and a fire commenced from the windows by five or six men, several vollies being fired. Two of our men killed and one wounded and then beat a cowardly retreat leaving the killed on the grou[n]d[.]


Sunday 15th Dec.

Beech Grove, Ky. near Mill Spring[.] A day delightfully pleasant, reminding one more of Indian Summer than anything else. Though the Thermometer stood at 27 deg this morning. We heard through the private correspondence of a friend, that the Rock City Guards had arrived in Nashville. The 'on dit" [?] today is that one thousand of the enemy's cavalry have crossed the river; a few miles above, not reliable.


Beech Grove, Ky
Monday Dec. 16th 1861

No news of the enemy, nor nothing cheering from home. Negroes are frequently running away from camps, and supposed to be going to the enemy. Lieut. Jordan's boy Henry, is missing and thought to be run away.

Dr. Cliffe and I went in swimming - found it very invigorating.


Beech Grove Ky.
Tuesday Dec. 17_1861

A large detail, probably 200 from the 20th regt. are at work on the fortifications at the west end of our position. I have been with them all the morning.


Wednesday 19th Dec. 1861

Acted as Field officer of the day. Sharp firing between pickets, across Fishing creek_ Nobody hurt.


Thursday 19 Dec

At 10. O'Clock, last night, the following regiments, viz._ Cols. Statham, Staunton, Muney [Murray] Cummings, Battles and the Alabama battallion commanded by Lieut. Col. Harris, were ordered to march to Fishing creek for the purpose of interupting and capturing two or three regiments of Federal troops understood to be encamped near there, and seperated from the main body.

Our forces proceeded together as far as the forks of the road leading to Somerset, and crossing at different fords _ here all the regiments, but Col. Battles took the left-hand road, for the purpose of falling in their rear, - his regt. being kept back as a reserve, or probably to make a feint in front.

After making search, it was found impracticable to obtain a crossing at the place contemplated so they had then to strike the right-hand road by a near cut, and the 20th being ordered forward, met the others at the ford. The enemy having smelt a mice eluded our grasp. Our night march and chilling effort to sleep on the ground without bed clothe[s], were discomforts with compensation.

Our pickets feeling somewhat exultant at the escape from a fight, and the fright they imagined themselves to have given the enemy - got on a drunk - in their fuddled condition seemed unable to distinguish friends from foes. And fired on each other, and ran in alarming the camp, causing thereby, two regts. already worn with fatigue, to endure another night of exhaustion and watchfulness.


Beech Grove, Friday Dec. 20th

I am engaged in reading Pickwick Papers, with which I am delighted[.]


Sunday - 22

I served as officer of the day - rode all day long in a heavy pouring rain. The road becoming very slippery. Evans Shields' horse fell with him, and his foot hanging in the stirrup might have hurt him seriously, had I not caught his horse and Henry Ewing given assistance to regain his saddle.


Monday Dec 23

Having nothing special to as, and feeling a little to restless to remain in camp, concluded to accompany Maj. Duffy officer of the day, Lieut. Evans Shields & Sergt. Henry Ewing, acting as A. Adjt. Gen. in the rounds to the various picket posts. The day was very cold and disagreeable _ the men thirsted for liquor which was found near Fishing Creek, and numbers sought and obtained it. All the regts. busy building cabins for winter.


Beech Grove, near Mill Spring. Wayne Co. Ky.
Tuesday. Dec 24th 1861

Every thing agog for the advent of tomorrow, _ rude preparations to omnarious in character are being hastily made for a becoming celebration of the holiday; fowls, fruits, vegetables, butter; eggs & last though not least important of all, brandy for egg-nogg, without which, there could be no Christmas. A big cock-fight is on the taps.

Intelligence was received in camp to-night, of the demand of England for the surrender of Slidell & Mason from the United States, which created a thrill of joy throughout the camp - an ebullition of feeling, signally winced [evinced?] by prolonged shouts, making the very welkin ring.


Wednesday Dec. 25th 1861

Christmas is here! many days have witnessed the busy preparations for the looked-for holiday. Purveyors have been all activity, thronging every road and by-path, and besieging every house for miles around the camp, in quest of eatables & drinkables_ fowls, pigs, eggs, butter, fruit & vegetables, milk, cider & liquor are all in high request and taken at big prices.

Every corps had its own little arrangements for spending a merry Christmas, and all anxiously awaited its coming. In the 20th, on the night previous, there were decided symptoms that the impatient were disposed to enjoy a fortaste of the morrow

At early dawn of morning, the advent of the great day was announced by a discord of sounds, as if emanating from the voices of a half dozen sick Jack asses affiliated with phthisic, - it was the bugle-notes of one of our chief musicians, aptly styled, "Dead Express" for reasons well known to us, but, which you may guess. All knew the meaning of those inimitable bugle peals, followed by the soft, flutelike notes of the fife, playing its staple tune, "Rory O'Moore a good old tune, and highly appreciated by our field band - for it is ever played & always first on docket, - the music had its effect - the roll-call being responded to - the gay spirits began the sports of the day. Those, who could, had eggnogg, sweetened with honey, the sugar being out for 2 weeks or more, others were content take it "barefoot," or in other words without sweetning. Of one fact, I'm certain enough was taken in one shape or another to show its presence in many faces and with many voices, all were communicative and expressed a disposition to communicate at the same time, without any agreement as to topic_ it is christmas and Christmas comes but once a year[.] a leaf must be left unturned for its full and unrestricted enjoyment. A cock fight had been agreed on, and the preliminaries arranged, days in advance between the bird fanciers of the 20th and gents of like tastes of the Ala. regt. Many boasts had been made respecting the fighting qualities of the cocks interest for the contest, regiment versus regt. state vs. state, though the birds were all natives of Ky. and the excitement waxed warmer as the time approached for the trial_ They met, a circle was formed, too small of course, for all were eager to see, and many could not see - the line that bounded the circle was a mass - a living mass, through which no eyes could penetrate - Short men tip-toed, tall ones leaned forward_ the surrounding trees were filled to the top, to get a view.

At last everything being ready, they came to a pit- "Blue Hawk" the pride and champion of the 20th encountered an antagonist of equal known [renown] , and after a pass or two was removed, a deceased bird. Thus the fight progressed until five had fallen victims to the sport and cupidity of the excited multitude.

The cock-fight having ended the crowd dispersed, some to not for they had grown weary with their burden taking of spirits, though sometimes thought to be imponderable, others to enjoy the viands, which cost days of labor to collect, and constituing banquet more delectable than any sum for many a long day.

Thermometer at sunrise 27 deg.


Beech Grove Thursday Dec. 26 1861

Thermometer at sunrise 32 52 deg

Mcnairy's battalion and other cavalry corps ordered off on an expedition, said to be towards Burkesville.

Dined to-day with Lieut. Falconet[t] comdg. 2nd section of Rutledge's Artillery.

Nice young man brings a pig before him on his horse, to barbeque, but comes too late.

Cabins being rapidly built.

A small mail recd [received] today. I got nothing.


Beech Grove, Friday. Dec. 27 - 1861

Thermometer at sunrise 22 deg

Jas. A Cords - applc. non com officer in command of 7 men Cavalry pickets down the river; Ginlay? Co


Beech Grove, Tuesday Dec. 31 - 1861

Thermometer at sunrise, 27 deg.

I learned nothing new or important connected with our own brigade.

It is reported, Buckner has advanced to Green river. Is it to obtain some strategic advantage? or is it because he is driven by the importunities of the public press and popular clamor to precipatate a forward movement before he is fully prepared?



Beech Grove Ky. January 1st. 1862

Capt Shaliha's yarn[.] At Berlin it is the custom at some of the soup houses to have the knives & forks attached to the table by a chain, and the plates nailed. The customer is served with soup from a syringe, if he fails to prepay his two cents - the shop-keeper sucks up the soup with his syringe and goes on to the next.

In the same establishment, lodging is furnished on the floor, a rope is drawn across the room for a pillow. In the morning, when it is desirable for them to get up, the end of the rope is let loose and all heads come down together with a bump, and all simultaneously awakened & get up.

Benj. D. Smith & son John started home.


Monday Jan. 6_1862

Thermometer at sunrise 32 deg.
                        sunset_ 29 deg

An Ohio prisoner captured by Branner's Cav.


Tuesday Jan. 7 - 1862

Thermometer at sunrise - 26 deg
                         sunset 32 deg

Cols, Battle, Statham & Wood's regiments of Inft. and 100 cavalry under Lieut. Col. McClelland left camp, in compliance with orders to make an expedition down the river, for the protection of the steamer Ellis. They went five or six miles, and heard the whistle of looked for boat - a shout of joy rent the air, for all rejoiced at the prospect of a speedy termination of the trip. It was cold, thermometer showing 24 deg at sunrise, and all dreaded the effects of a bivouac, under such u[n]propituous suspices.


Wednesday Jan. 8 - 1862

Thermometer at sunrise 38 deg
Excessively windy.

Heard of Alex. Vaughn's death. He was killed at Tazwell by Brazellin's cavalry in the discharge of his duty

My old friend and schoolmate Wm Porter; Late Judge in California now aid de camp to Gen Crittenden came over to see me.

Gen. Crittenden ordered Dr Wyatt under arrest, for dereliction of duty.

Dr Cliffe is promoted to the position of Brigade Medical Director.

Fourteen of our cavalry were ambuscaded by about one hundred of the enemy's infantry near Fishing creek and lost two men and three horses. The enemy were followed by one hundred of our men and fired on while crossing Fishing creek. They were supposed to be six hundred strong. As they had no baggage were probably out for the purpose of cutting off our forage party, but missed it.

Lieut. Tom. Smith is making up an Artillery company for the next enlistment[.]


Beech Grove. Thursday. Jan. 9th 1862

Acted as field Officer of the day

It is rumored, the enemy is falling back from Somerset.


Beech Grove Wednesday 15th

Thermometer at sunrise - 45 deg

Marched 18 miles to Edis's bottom Under Command of Col. Cummings & Lt. Col. Carter & Maj. Rice with 100 men from each of the following regiments, Battles, Cummings, Stathams, Stanton, Powell, Wood.


Thursday - Jan 16th 1862

The baggage train of about 60 wagons that we took with us to Edis bottom being mostly filled with corn, oat & Fodder, we turned our faces Campward. We marched 10 miles to the forks of the road at a school-house_ Arrived there, barren from one of Capt. Saunders, cavalry the Hawbush creek was backed by the Cumberland past fording. We then proceeded by the left-hand road, four miles out of our way, and passing within two miles of Harrison came on to camp. making a march of 24 miles, in one day, and part of the night, over the muddiest road I ever travelled, a part of the way, - the 10 miles next to camp. The first part being on a ridge was tolerably good.

We left camp without rations and without cooking vessels. And those who could get something to eat from the scattering houses on the roadside, others fasted, until their return.

At old man Edis' we arrived in the night, having got lost in the woods, 3 miles this side of his house.

Those who were not exhasted with fatigue and hunger, went to Edis' that night, and while there, many acts of villainry were perpetrated, such as robbing bee-gums, stealing chickens, the perpetrators of which the old lady, called foul (fowl) fellows, they stole bed-clothes & cooking vessels, wasted oats, burnt posts & rails.

The people in the bottom are averse to selling their produce. The distance to Edis' down the bottom is about 9 miles & 18 - around the way we went.

Our drums, and those of the enemy at Jamestown are heard every morning at Edis'.


Friday Jan 17 - 1862

Thermometer at sunrise 36 deg

It is reported the [enemy] were crossing Fishing creek at the upper ford.


Saturday Jan. 18th 1862

Thermometer at sunrise 60 [sic] deg
Commenced raining last night.

Wad is in bed sick.

12 O'Clock M. The enemy have advanced a little. Supposed to be about two regiments on each fork of the Somerset road, this side of Fishing creek. They are also said to have been reinforced this morning by troops from Lebanon via Columbia. We have just received an order to cook two two days rations, to be ready in two hours. It is raining and has been all the morning.

The Diary of Lt.Col. Moscow Carter appears courtesy the Carter House Museum in Franklin, Tennessee.  Used by permission; all rights reserved.  See information in Part 1.

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All contents copyright 1998-2007, Geoffrey R. Walden; all rights reserved.  Except where noted, all text and photos are property of the page author, and may not be reproduced in any form without permission.  I gratefully acknowledge the permissions of the owners of other photos and articles used on the Battle of Mill Springs / Fishing Creek Homepage.
I especially wish to thank Laura Cook of the Orphan Brigade Homepage for her advice and clipart.

Last updated on:  04 September 2002

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