Daring and Suffering: - A History of the Great Railroad Adventure
by William Pittenger
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Transcriber's Note: All printer's errors retained.






"The expedition, in the daring of its conception, had the wildness of a romance; while in the gigantic and overwhelming results it sought and was likely to accomplish, it was absolutely sublime."—Official Report of Hon. Judge Holt to the Secretary of War.

"It was all the deepest laid scheme, and on the grandest scale, that ever emanated from the brains of any number of Yankees combined."—Atlanta "Southern Confederacy" of April 15th, 1862.


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1863, by


In the Office of the Clerk of the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.


R. T. TRALL, M. D.,



Leader of the Hygienic Reform,






NEW SOMERSET, Jefferson Co., O., October, 1863.



J. J. ANDREWS, Leader, Citizen of Kentucky. WILLIAM CAMPBELL, Citizen of Kentucky. GEORGE D. WILSON, Co. B, Second Reg't Ohio Vols. MARION A. ROSS, Co. A, Second Reg't Ohio Vols. PERRY G. SHADRACK, Co. K, Second Reg't Ohio Vols. SAMUEL SLAVENS, Thirty-third Reg't Ohio Vols. SAMUEL ROBINSON, Co. G, Thirty-third Reg't Ohio Vols. JOHN SCOTT, Co. K, Twenty-first Reg't Ohio Vols.


W. W. BROWN, Co. F, Twenty-first Reg't Ohio Vols. WILLIAM KNIGHT, Co. E, Twenty-first Reg't Ohio Vols. J. R. PORTER, Co. C, Twenty-first Reg't Ohio Vols. MARK WOOD, Co. C, Twenty-first Reg't Ohio Vols. J. A. WILSON, Co. C, Twenty-first Reg't Ohio Vols. M. J. HAWKINS, Co. A, Thirty-third Reg't Ohio Vols. JOHN WOLLAM, Co. C, Thirty-third Reg't Ohio Vols. D. A. DORSEY, Co. H, Thirty-third Reg't Ohio Vols.


JACOB PARROTT, Co. K, Thirty-third Reg't Ohio Vols. ROBERT BUFFUM, Co. H, Twenty-first Reg't Ohio Vols. WILLIAM BENSINGER, Co. G, Twenty-first Reg't Ohio Vols. WILLIAM REDDICK, Co. B, Thirty-third Reg't Ohio Vols. E. H. MASON, Co. K, Twenty-first Reg't Ohio Vols. WILLIAM PITTENGER, Co. G, Second Reg't Ohio Vols.


The following work is a narration of facts. My only desire is to give a clear and connected record of what will ever be regarded as a most remarkable episode in the history of the Great Rebellion.

The style of the book demands an apology. It was begun in sickness induced by the privations of rebel prisons, and completed amidst the fatigue and excitement of the most glorious campaign which has yet crowned our arms. Under these circumstances, there must be many faults of expression, which a generous reader will readily pardon.

To the many kind friends who sympathized with me during the weary interval when my fate was considered hopeless, as well as those who rejoiced with me on my return, I can only tender my most sincere thanks.

Myself and comrades are greatly indebted to the PRESIDENT and Secretary STANTON for their generous recognition of our services, and the munificent rewards bestowed upon us. To them, and to Judge HOLT, Major-General HITCHCOCK, and JAMES C. WETMORE, Ohio State Military Agent, we take this opportunity of expressing our heartfelt obligations.

Another to whom I am indebted is Dr. R. T. TRALL of New York. At his beautiful "Hygiean Home," on the mountain side, near Wernersville, Berks county, Pennsylvania, I regained my lost health. For his kindness, and that of his skillful assistants, Drs. GLASS and FAIRCHILD, I will ever be deeply grateful. It was with regret, woven with many pleasant memories, that I left their hospitable home when recovered health and duty called me again to the field.

To my early friend, Rev. ALEXANDER CLARK, Editor of the "School Visitor," I am still more deeply indebted. His literary experience was freely placed at my service, and when discouraged in the preparation of my story, which was to me an arduous undertaking, his words of hope and cheer stimulated me to renewed efforts. But for aid derived from his sympathy and advice, I would have probably abandoned my task. May he be fully rewarded!

There are a host of others whose good offices will always be kindly remembered. Among them are W. R. ALLISON of the "Steubenville Herald," Dr. JOHN McCOOK, also of Steubenville, Dr. GEORGE McCOOK of Pittsburgh, Rev. WILLIAM B. WATKINS, A. M., Dr. JOHN MILLS, and many others. Thanks to them all!


Army of the Cumberland, August, 1863.



Sad Retrospective—Object of the Book—Military Situation in the Southwest—Disaster and Energy of the Rebels—Necessity for a Secret Expedition—A Proposition to Buell and Mitchel—An Attempt and Failure—Return of Adventurers—Second Expedition—Writer Volunteers—Andrews, the Leader—Parting from the Regiment—On the Way—Perplexities—The Writer Cur-tailed! 23-35


Midnight Consultation—Plans Developed—Money Distributed—Compagnons du Voyage—A Dismal Night—Sheltered from the Storm—Southern Unionist—Arrested by Federal Soldiers—Beyond the Lines—Panic Caused by Negroes—Method of Avoiding Suspicion—Continuous Rain—Behind Time—Hunting Human Beings with Bloodhounds—The Cumberland Mountains—Rain again. 36-45


Crossing the Mountains—Playing Hypocrite—Legend of Battle Creek Valley—Lodged with a Secessionist—Strategy—A Welcome but Fatal Delay—Exaggerated Accounts of Shiloh—Prevented from Crossing the Tennessee—In the Mountains again—Amusing Rebel Story—To the River again—Perilous Crossing—Success—Chattanooga—On the Cars—Night—Arrive at Marietta. 46-56


Take an Early Train—Prospecting—Capture of the Train—Panic in Confederate Camp—Away at Lightning Speed—Thrilling Experience—Cut the Telegraph—Tear up the Track—Unexpected Obstacle—Running a Powder Train to Beauregard—Red Flag—Dropping Cross-Ties—Battering out Spikes—Immense Exertion of Strength—Pursuing Backward—Terrible Chase—Attempt to Wreck the Enemy's Train—Fearful Speed—Bold Plan. 57-67


Consternation along the Route—Wood and Water—Attempt to Fire the Train—Partial Failure—Message sent to Chattanooga—Terrific Preparations—Abandon the Train—A Capital Error—In the Woods—A Thrilling Account of the Chase from the Atlanta "Southern Confederacy." 68-90


Stupendous "Man Hunt"—My Own Adventures—Playing Acrobat—Perilous Crossing of a River—Hunger—The Bloodhounds—Flying for Life—No Sun or Star to Guide me—Traveling in a Circle—Nearing Chattanooga—Lost in Deadened Timber—Glimpse of the Moon—Fatigue produces Phantoms—Dreadful Storm—I Sleep and enter Fairy Land—Glorious Visions—Reality—A Picket—Romance Faded—Horrible Situation—Day Dawn—No Relief. 91-105


Sabbath—Continuous Rain—Press Onward—Observed—Arrested—Curious Examination—Equivocating for Life—Plans Foiled by Unexpected News—Plundered—Jail—Terrible Reflections—New and Hopeful Resolve—Unwelcome Visitors—Vigilance Committee Disappointed—Ordered to Chattanooga—A Mob—Chained to the Carriage—Escort—The Journey—Musings—Arrival—Another Mob—Benevolent Gentleman(?)—General Leadbetter—Andrews. 106-126


Negro Prison—Swims, the Jailor—Horrible Dungeon—Black Hole of Calcutta—Suffocation—Union Prisoners—Slave Catching—Our Party Reunited—Breakfast Lowered by Rope—Hunger—Counseling—Fiendish Barbarity—Chained in the Dungeon—Andrews tried as a Spy and Traitor—Sweet, but Stolen News—Removed from Dungeon—Pure Air and Sunlight—Attacked by a Mob—"A Friend"—Madison—Daring Adventure and Narrow Escape. 127-147


Return to Chattanooga—Caution of Rebels—Unchain Ourselves—Mock Trials—The Judge—Singing—One Kindness—Projected Escape—Loitering Comrades—A Gleam of Hope—Sad Parting—Knoxville—Prison Inmates—Brownlow—Awful Cruelty—Andrews Condemned to Death—Escapes with Wollam—Fearful Perils—Swimming the River—Hiding on an Island—Found by Children—Yields to His Fate—Horrible Death—Wollam's Stratagem—On the River—Passes a Gun Boat—Final Capture. 148-170


Sorrow for Andrews—Prepare for Trial—Charges and Specifications—Plan of Defence—Incidents of Trial—Encouragement—Not Allowed to Hear Pleading—Lawyer's Plea—Seven Tried—Mitchel Dissolves the Court—Tied Again—A Saucy Reply—Advantage of Sickness—Fry Deceived—Revolting Inhumanity—Fry's Capture—Starve to Atlanta—Taunts of the Mob—Atlanta Prison—A Kind Jailor. 171-183


Cavalry Approach—Seven Removed from the Room—Suspense—Sentence of Death—Heart-rending Separation—Death and the Future—Not Prepared—Inhuman Haste—The Tragedy—Speech on the Scaffold—Breaking Ropes—Enemies Affected—Gloom of Survivors—Prayer. 184-192


Religious Experience—Contraband Assistance—Intelligence of Negroes—Love of Freedom—Wollam's Recapture—A Friendly Preacher—Obtain Books—Disgusting Diet—Plays—Debates—Reading Hours—Envy the Birds—Dreams of Home—Telegraphing—Friends from our Army—Hope Deferred—Union Society—Difficulties of Tobacco-chewers—Precious Books. 193-207


Contemplated Escape—Startling Intelligence—Our Doom Pronounced from Richmond—Hesitate no Longer—Our Plan—All Ready—Supper—Farewell—Life or Death—Seize the Jailor—Guns Wrested from Guards—Alarm Given—Scaling the Wall—Guards Fire—Terrible Chase—Six Recaptured—Wood and Wilson Reach the Gulf—Dorsey's Narrative—Porter's Account—Boasting of the Guards—Barlow's Cruel Death. 208-223


Despair and Hope—Bitten Finger—Removed to Barracks—Greater Comfort—Jack Wells—Cruel Punishment of Tennesseeans—Story of a Spy—Help Him to Escape—Virtue of a Coat—A Practical Joke—Unionism—Sweet Potatoes—Enlisting in Rebel Army—Description of a Day—Happy News—Start for Richmond—Not Tied—Night Journey—Varied Incidents—Lynchburg—Rebel Audacity Punished—Suffering from the Cold—Arrival in Richmond. 224-246


The City by Moonlight—Old Accusation Renewed—Libby Prison—Discomfort—A Change—Citizens' Department—Richmond Breakfast—Removed under Guard—Castle Thunder—Miniature Bedlam—Conceal a Knife—Confined in a Stall—Dreadful Gloom—Routine of a Day—Suffering at Night—Friends Exchanged—Newspapers—Burnside—Pecuniary Perplexities—Captain Webster—Escape Prevented—Try Again on Christmas Night—Betrayed—Fearful Danger Avoided. 247-266


Letter sent Home—Alarming Pestilence—Our Quarters Changed—Rowdyism—Fairy Stories—Judge Baxter—Satanic Strategy—Miller's History—An Exchange with a Dead Man—Effect of Democratic Victories—Attempt to Make us Work—Digging out of a Cell—Worse than the Inquisition—Unexpected Interference—List from "Yankee Land"—Clothing Stolen—Paroled—A Night of Joy—Torch-light March—On the Cars—The Boat—Reach Washington—Receive Medals, Money, and Promotion—Home. 267-288


While our absent brothers are battling on the field, it is becoming that the friends at home should be eager for the minutest particulars of the camp-life, courage and endurance of the dear boys far away; for to the loyal lover of his country every soldier is a brother.

The narrative related on the following pages is one of extraordinary "daring and suffering," and will excite an interest in the public mind such as has rarely, if ever, arisen from any personal adventures recorded on the page of history.

WILLIAM PITTENGER, the oldest of a numerous family, was born in Jefferson county, Ohio, January 31st, 1840. His father, THOMAS PITTENGER, is a farmer, and trains his children in the solid experiences of manual labor. His mother is from a thinking familyhood of people, many of whom are well known in Eastern Ohio as pioneers in social and moral progress—the MILLS'S. WILLIAM learned to love his country about as early as he learned to love his own mother; for his first lessons were loyalty and liberty, syllabled by a mother's lips. Even before the boy could read, he knew in outline the history of our nation's trials and triumphs, from the days of Bunker Hill, forward to the passing events of the latest newspaper chronicling,—all of which facts were nightly canvassed around the cabin-hearth.

Although he was an adept in all branches of learning, yet, in school days, as now, young PITTENGER had two favorite studies; and they happened to be the very ones in the prosecution of which his teachers could aid him scarcely at all—History and Astronomy. But, in the face of discouragement, with the aid only of accidental helps, and by the candle-light and the star-light after the sunny hours had been toiled away, he pressed patiently and perseveringly forward in his own chosen methods, until he became an accurate historian, and a practical astronomer. At the age of seventeen, he manufactured, for the most part with his own hands, a reflecting telescope, which his friends came from near and far to see, and gaze through, at the wonderful worlds unthought-of before.

The ambitions of farm-life were not sufficient to occupy the head and hands of this searcher for knowledge. To explore the fields of the firmament with his telescope, gave him intenser pleasure than the most faithful farmer ever realized from furrowing his fields in the dewiest spring mornings. To follow the footsteps of heroes through the world's annals, as they struggled up through conflicts to glorious liberty, thrilled him with a livelier enthusiasm than ever sprang from the music of marching harvesters. While other young men of his age and neighborhood idled their rainy days and winter nights in trifling diversions, there was one who preferred the higher joy of communion with Humboldt in his "Cosmos," Macaulay in his "England," Irving in his "Columbus," or Burritt in his "Geography of the Heavens."

Owing to this decided preference for science and literature, the father found it advisable to indulge his son in the desire to enter a field more consonant with his wishes. He accordingly qualified himself, by close study at home, and without a tutor, for the profession of teaching. In this honorable avocation he labored with industry and promise, until he felt constrained by love of country to quit the desk and the children, for the tent and the hosts of armed men.

During his career as teacher, he was, for awhile, associated with the writer in the publication of the School Visitor, then issued at Cleveland, Ohio. The enterprise was, at that time, (1857-8,) to the great outer world, an unnoticed and insignificant one; yet to those whose little all was enlisted in the mission of a Day School paper, it was, indeed, something that lay close upon their hearts. That was a cheerless, friendless time in the history of the little Visitor, to at least two inexperienced adventurers in the literary world. But these were hidden trials, and shall be unwritten still.

The never-forgotten teachings of his mother, together with the unconscious tuition resulting from observation and experience, made PITTENGER an early and constant friend of freedom. Any mind imbued with an admiration of God's marches in the Heavens as an Omnipotent Creator, and inspired by a contemplation of God's finger in History as a merciful Deliverer, will rise to the high level of universal love to man, and will comprehend the broad equality of Gospel liberty and republican brotherhood. Let a man be educated, head and heart, and he will love freedom, and demand freedom, and "dare and suffer" for freedom, not for himself only, but for all the oppressed of the whole earth.

Reader, you may draw lines. You may profess a conservative Christianity that would theologize the very grace out of the command, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." You may ignore this Christ-like precept, and adopt something more fashionable and aristocratic; but if you do, you entertain in your heart treason, both to your Father in heaven and to your brother on earth. This law of love is revealed to lowly men. It cuts down through crowns and creeds and chains, and rests as a blessed benediction on sufferers and slaves. This is the inspiration that brings victory to our arms, and deals death to destroyers. This was the spirit that prompted our young hero to stand forth, one of the very first from his native county, a soldier for right and righteousness, the moment the Sumter cry rang up the valley of his Ohio home.

When PITTINGER became a volunteer, it was for the suppression of the Rebellion with all its belongings,—and if its overthrow should tumble slavery, with its clanking fetters and howling hounds, to the uttermost destruction, he would grasp his gun the firmer for the hope, and thank God for the prospect, the test, and the toil! He enlisted as a soldier for his country, ready to march anywhere, strike with any weapon, endure any fatigue, or share any sorrow. He went out not merely an armored warrior, to ward off attacks, not to strike off obnoxious top-growths; but to "lay the ax at the root of the tree," and to pierce the very heart of the monster iniquity.

In three days after the receipt of the startling intelligence that the Stars and Stripes had been fired upon by rebels in arms, PITTENGER was on his way to the Capital as a private soldier in the Second Ohio Regiment of volunteers. He fought bravely on the disastrous 21st of July, in the battle of Bull Run, while many of his comrades fell bleeding at his side. For his calm, heroic conduct throughout that memorable day of peril and panic, he received the highest praise from every officer of his regiment. Although thus a sharer of war's sternest conflicts during the three months' campaign, he was ready to re-enlist immediately, when his country called for a longer service; and after a few days' rest beneath the old homestead roof, he was again on his way with the same regiment to the seat of war in the Southwest.

During the fall and winter he saw severe service on the "dark and bloody ground." No soldiers ever endured so many midnight marches more patiently, or manifested more self-sacrificing devotion to country, through rains and storms, and wintry desolations, than the noble Ohio Second, under the command of Colonel HARRIS, through the campaign in the mountains of eastern Kentucky.

In December, the regiment was transferred to the Division commanded by the lamented General MITCHEL, then encamped at Louisville. From this point, the army pressed forward victoriously through Elizabethtown, Bowling Green, Nashville, and Murfreesboro', until the old banner floated in the Tennessee breezes at Shelbyville. While here, the daring expedition to penetrate the heart of the Confederacy was organized, of which party PITTENGER was one of the most enthusiastic and determined.

From the day the brave fellows departed over the Southern hills on their adventurous journey, a veil was dropped which hid them from sight of friends for many weary months—and some of them for ever! No tidings came in answer to all the beseeching thought-questionings that followed their mysterious pathway "beyond the lines."

Vague rumors were current around the camp-fires and home-circles that the whole party had been executed. Friends began to despair. Strangers began to inquire as if for missing friends. A universal sympathy prevailed in their behalf, and whole communities were excited to the wildest fervor on account of the lost adventurers. The widely-read letters from the Steubenville Herald's army correspondent were missed, for PITTENGER wrote no more. The family were in an agony of suspense for the silent, absent son and brother. His ever faithful friend, Chaplain GADDIS, of the Ohio Second, made an effort to go, under a flag of truce, in search of the party, but was dissuaded by the commanding officers from so hopeless an undertaking. The summer passed, and yet no tidings came. The autumn came with its melancholy,—and uncertain rumors, like withered, fallen leaves, were again afloat about the camps and the firesides. The dreary winter came, and still the hearts of the most hopeful were chilled with disappointment. The father began to think of William as dead,—the mother to talk of her darling as one who had lived,—the children to speak of their elder brother as one they should never see any more until all the lost loved ones meet in the better land. The writer was even solicited by a mutual friend to preach the funeral sermon of one whose memory was still dear, but whom none of us ever hoped to see again on earth.

But our Father in heaven was kinder than we thought. Our prayers had been heard! As our fervent petitions winged up from family altars to the ear of the Infinite Lover, the guardian angels winged afar downward through battle alarms, and ministered to him for whom we besought protection. When the bright spring days came smiling over the earth, a message came from the hand of the missing one, brighter and sunnier to our hearts than the April sunlight on the hills! Soon the story was told, and we all thanked God for the merciful deliverance of him for whom we prayed, and who had found, even in a dismal prison-cell, the Pearl of great price! The one we loved returned home a witness of the Spirit that came to him as a Comforter in his dreariest loneliness, and is already a minister of the precious Gospel that gladdened him in the time of his tribulation.

And now the reader shall know all about the tedious delay and the long silence, from the pen of him who survives to tell the story.

We commend to all who peruse this narrative an interesting volume, entitled "Beyond the Lines," another sad rehearsal of terror in rebel prisons and Southern swamps, in other portions of the Confederacy—the experience of Rev. Capt. J. J. GEER, now one of Lieutenant PITTENGER'S associate-advocates for liberty in the pulpit, as he was recently a brother-bondman in the land of tyranny and death. A. C.

PHILADELPHIA, September 15, 1863.



Sad Retrospective—Object of the Book—Military Situation in the Southwest—Disaster and Energy of the Rebels—Necessity for a Secret Expedition—A Proposition to Buell and Mitchel—An Attempt and Failure—Return of Adventurers—Second Expedition—Writer Volunteers—Andrews, the Leader—Parting from the Regiment—On the Way—Perplexities—The Writer Cur-tailed!

It is painful for me to write the adventures of the last year. As I compose my mind to the task, there arises before me the memory of days of suffering, and nights of sleepless apprehension—days and nights that, in their black monotony, seemed well nigh eternal. And the sorrow, too, which I felt on that terrible day, when my companions, whom common dangers and common sufferings had made as brothers to me, were dragged away to an ignominious death that I expected soon to share—all comes before me in the vividness of present reality, and I almost shrink back and lay down the pen. But I believe it to be a duty to give to the public the details of the great railroad adventure, which created such an excitement in the South, and which Judge Holt pronounced to be the most romantic episode of the war, both on account of the intrinsic interest involved, and still more because of the light it throws on the manners and feelings of the Southern people, and their conduct during the rebellion.

With this view, I have decided to give a detailed history of the expedition, its failure, and the subsequent imprisonment and fate of all of the members of the party. In doing this, I will have the aid of the survivors of the expedition—fourteen in all—and hope to give a narrative that will combine the strictest truth with all the interest of a romance.

In order to understand why the destruction of the Georgia State Railroad was of so much consequence, I will refer to the situation of affairs in the Southwest, in the opening of the spring of 1862.

The year commenced very auspiciously for our arms. Fort Donelson had fallen, after a desperate contest, and nearly all its garrison were taken prisoners. The scattered remains of the rebel army, under Johnston, had retreated precipitately from Kentucky, which had indeed been to them "the dark and bloody ground." Columbus and Nashville were evacuated, and fell into our hands. Island No. 10 was invested, and the Tennessee river groaned beneath a mighty army afloat, the same that had conquered Donelson, under its popular leader, General Grant, and which, it was fondly hoped, would strike far away into the center of the rebel States. Throughout the North, men talked of the war as done, and speculated as to the terms of a peace that was soon to come.

But the end was not yet. The rebel leaders, who had embarked their all in this cause, and had pictured to themselves a magnificent slaveholding empire, stretching away from the Potomac to the Sierra Madre, in Mexico, and swallowing up all tropical America in one mighty nation, devoted to the interests of cotton and slavery alone, over which they should reign, were not yet satisfied to relinquish their cause as desperate, and abandon their glorious dreams. With a wonderful energy that must command our admiration, though it be only of the kind that is accorded to Satan as pictured in "Paradise Lost," they passed the conscription law, abandoned the posts they still held on the frontier, and concentrated their forces on a shorter line of defence.

The eastern part of this line extended from Richmond, through Lynchburg, to East Tennessee. In the west, it was represented by the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, extending from Memphis, through Corinth, Huntsville, Chattanooga, and Atlanta, to Charleston. Here they poured forward their new levies, and began to prepare for another desperate contest.

The unaccountable inertness of the Eastern army of the Union, under McClellan, gave them time to strengthen their defences, and reinforce their army, which had dwindled to a very low ebb during the winter. But while the commander of the East was planning strategy that, by the slowness of its development, if by nothing worse, was destined to dim the lustre of the Union triumphs, and lose the results of a year of war, the West was in motion. Down the Mississippi swept our invincible fleet, with an army on shore to second its operations. Up the Tennessee steamed Grant's victorious army, and Buell, with forty thousand men, was marching across the State of Tennessee, to reach the same point. My own division, under the lamented General O. M. Mitchel, was also marching across the State, but in a different direction, having Chattanooga as its ultimate aim, while Morgan, with another strong force, many of whom were refugees from East Tennessee, lay before Cumberland Gap, ready to strike through that fastness to Knoxville, and thus reach the very heart of rebellion.

To meet these powerful forces, whose destination he could not altogether foresee, Beauregard, who commanded in the west, concentrated his main army at Corinth, with smaller detachments scattered along the railroad to Chattanooga. The railroads on which he relied for supplies and reinforcements, as well as for communication with the eastern portion of rebeldom, formed an irregular parallelogram, of which the northern side extended from Memphis to Chattanooga, the eastern from Chattanooga to Atlanta, the southern from Atlanta to Jackson, Mississippi, and the western, by a network of roads, from Jackson to Memphis. The great East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad, which has not inaptly been called "the backbone of the rebellion," intersected this parallelogram at Chattanooga. Thus it will be seen that to destroy the northern and eastern sides of this parallelogram isolated Beauregard, and left East Tennessee, which was then almost stripped of troops, to fall easily before General Morgan.

So important was this destruction of communication deemed by those in power, that it was at first intended to reach both sides, and destroy them by armies; but the distance was so great that the design of destroying it in this manner was abandoned.

However, just at this time, J. J. Andrews, who was a secret agent of the United States, and had repeatedly visited every part of the South, proposed another method of accomplishing the same object, by means of a secret military expedition, to burn the bridges on the road, and thus interrupt communication long enough for the accomplishment of the schemes which were expected to give rebellion in the southwest its death-blow. He first made the proposition to General Buell, who did not, for some reason, approve of it. Afterwards he repeated it to General Mitchel, who received it with more favor.

Our division was at this time lying at Murfreesboro', repairing some bridges that had been destroyed, preparatory to an onward march further into the interior. All at once, eight men were detailed from our regiment—four of them from my own company. No one knew anything of their object or destination, and numberless were the conjectures that were afloat concerning them. Some supposed they had gone home to arrest deserters; others, that they were deserters themselves. But this last idea was contradicted by the fact that they were seen in close and apparently confidential communication with the officers just before their departure, as well as by the character of the men themselves, who were among the boldest and bravest of the regiment. Many supposed that they were sent into the enemy's country as spies; but the idea of sending such a number of spies from the privates in the ranks was so obviously absurd, that I did not seriously consider it. However, I was not long to remain in uncertainty, for an officer, who was an intimate friend of mine, revealed the secret to me. The enterprise was so grand and so audacious, that it instantly charmed my imagination, and I at once went to Colonel L. A. Harris, of the Second Ohio, and asked, as a favor from him, that if any detail was made for another expedition of the same kind, I should be placed on it.

Soon after, one of the party, from Company C, returned, and reported that he had ventured as far as Chattanooga, and there had met a Confederate soldier who recognized him as belonging to the Union army; and while, for the sake of old friendship, he hesitated to denounce him to the authorities, yet advised him to return, which he immediately did, and arrived safely in camp in a few days. He would give no details that might embarrass his companions, who were still pressing their way onward into the Confederacy.

A short time after this, all the party came back, and I received full details of their trip to the center of rebeldom. They had proceeded in citizens' dress, on foot and unsuspected, to Chattanooga; there had taken the cars for Atlanta, where they arrived in safety. Here they expected to meet a Georgia engineer, who had been running on the State road for some time, and, with his assistance, intended to seize the passenger train, at breakfast, and run through to our lines, burning all the bridges in their rear. For several days they waited for him, but he came not. They afterwards learned that he had been pressed to run troops to Beauregard, who was then concentrating every available man at Corinth, in anticipation of the great battle which afterwards took place. Thus foiled, and having no man among them capable of running an engine, they abandoned the enterprise for that time, and quietly stole back to our lines. Had an engineer then been along, they would, in all probability, have been successful, as the obstacles which afterward defeated us did not then exist.

Our camp had been moved onward from Murfreesboro' to Shelbyville, which is a beautiful little city, situated on Duck river. We camped above the town, in a delightful meadow.

It was Sabbath, the 6th of April, and the earliness of the clime made the birds sing, and the fields bloom with more than the brilliancy of May in our own northern land. Deeply is the quiet of that Sabbath, with the green beauty of the warm spring landscape, pictured on my mind! An impression, I know not what, made me devote the day to writing letters to my friends. It was well I did so, for long and weary months passed ere I was permitted to write to them again.

But while the day was passing in such sweet repose with us, it was far different in another army; that was the day on which Grant was surprised by Beauregard, and only saved from destruction by the assistance of the gunboats. This, however, we did not learn for several days after.

On Monday, Andrews returned to our camp. He had spent some time along the line of the Georgia State road, and on his return reported to General Mitchel that the scheme was still feasible, and would be of more advantage than ever. He, however, asked for a larger detail of men, and twenty-four were given from the three Ohio regiments then in Sill's Brigade. One man was detailed from a company, though all the companies were not represented, and I believe in two[1] instances, two men were detailed from one company—they were probably intimate friends, who wished to go together.

[1] One of these I noticed only very lately.

During the day, I saw Andrews in the camp. I had seen him frequently before, away up in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, but did not then observe him particularly. Now I paid more attention. He was nearly six feet in hight, of powerful frame, black hair, and long, black, silken beard, Roman features, a high and expansive forehead, and a voice fine and soft as a woman's. He gave me the impression of a man who combined intellect and refinement with the most cool and dauntless courage. Yet his manner and speech, which was slow and pensive, indicated what I afterwards found to be almost his only fault—a slowness to decide on the spur of the moment, and back his decision by prompt, vigorous action. This did not detract from his value as a secret agent, when alone, for then all his actions were premeditated, and carried out with surpassing coolness and bravery; but it did unfit him for the command of men, in startling emergencies, where instant action afforded the only chance of safety. This trait of character will be more fully developed in the course of my story. I conversed with him on the object of the expedition, not, of course, expecting a full detail, but receiving a general idea. I put particular stress on his promise, that whatever happened, he would keep us all together, and, if necessary, we would cut our way through in a body. This was because, being near-sighted, and, therefore, a bad hand to travel in a strange country, with no guide, I had a particular horror of being left alone.

I returned to my company, and procured a suit of citizen's clothes from our boys who had been out before. All the members of the company, seeing me so arrayed, came around to try to dissuade me from the enterprise, which to them appeared full of unknown perils. It was gratifying to be the object of so much solicitude, but having decided to go, I could not yield.

My captain, J. F. Sarratt, of Company G, Second Ohio, as brave and true-hearted a soldier as ever lived, earnestly entreated me not to go; but finding my determination was fixed, he bade me an affectionate farewell. Seldom have I parted with more emotion from any one than these war-worn veterans.

It was about four o'clock in the afternoon when we left camp, and started for the place of rendezvous at Shelbyville. The sun was shining brightly, and the bracing evening air sent the blood coursing cheerily through our veins, and inspired us with the brightest hopes of the future. Soon we reached Shelbyville, and lingered there for an hour or two, when Ross and I, acting under the previous direction of Andrews, started out of town. Our orders were for us all to proceed along the road in small squads, for two or three miles, and then halt and wait for him.

We walked quietly along, until about dark, when, seeing none of the others, we began to grow uneasy, fearing we had gone on the wrong road. We met several persons, but they could give no account of any one before; then we saw a house just by the road, and crossing the fence, went up to it to get a drink of water. Before we reached the door, a dog came up behind my companion and bit him—then ran away before punishment could be inflicted.

The bite was not severe, and I good-humoredly laughed at his mishap; but before we again reached the fence, the same dog came once more. Ross saw him, and sprang over the fence; but I had only time to reach the top of it, where I sat in fancied security. But the merciless whelp, in his ire, sprang at me, seized my coat, and tore a large piece out of it! That coat, thus cur-tailed, I wore all through Dixie. I mention this incident, because it was what some would call a bad omen.


Midnight Consultation—Plans Developed—Money Distributed—Compagnons du Voyage—A Dismal Night—Sheltered from the Storm—Southern Unionist—Arrested by Federal Soldiers—Beyond the Lines—Panic Caused by Negroes—Method of Avoiding Suspicion—Continuous Rain—Behind Time—Hunting Human Beings with Bloodhounds—The Cumberland Mountains—Rain again.

We now proceeded on our way—not rejoicing, for our situation grew every moment more perplexing. Darkness was falling rapidly, and not one of our comrades was visible. We were almost certain we had taken the wrong road. Finally, we resolved to retrace our steps, and endeavor to obtain some clue to our journey, or if we could not, to return to camp; for, without instruction, we knew not how or where to go. We therefore retraced our steps till in sight of Shelbyville, and then, sure that none could pass without our knowledge, we waited nearly an hour longer.

Our patience was rewarded. A few, whom we recognized as belonging to our party, came along the road; we fell in with them, and were soon overtaken by others, among whom was Andrews. Now all was right. Soon we were as far from Shelbyville as Ross and I had been when alone, and a few hundred yards further on we found the remainder of our comrades.

In a little thicket of dead and withered trees, sufficiently open to assure us that no listening ear was near, we halted, and Andrews revealed to us his plans. There were twenty-three gathered around him; twenty-four had been detailed, but from some cause, one had failed to report. In low tones, amid the darkness, he gave us the details of the romantic expedition.

We were to break up in small squads of three or four, and travel as far south as Chattanooga. If questioned, we were to answer so as to avoid exciting suspicion, and tell any plausible tale that might answer our purpose.

We were to travel rapidly, and, if possible, reach Chattanooga on Thursday evening at five o'clock. This was Monday, and the distance was one hundred and three miles, a heavy travel on foot; but then we were allowed to hire conveyances, if we could.

Andrews then gave us some Confederate money to bear our expenses, and we parted. There were three others with me; P. G. Shadrack, of Company K, Second Ohio, a merry, reckless fellow, but at heart noble and generous; William Campbell, a citizen of Kentucky, who had received permission to come with us, in a soldier's place. He was a man of two hundred and twenty pounds weight, handsome as Apollo, and of immense physical strength, which he was not slow to use when roused, though good-natured and clever in the main.

The third was the most remarkable man of the whole party. He was not educated highly, though he had read a great deal; but in natural shrewdness, I rarely, if ever, saw his equal. He had traveled extensively over the United States, had observed everything, and remembered all he observed. Had he lived, the composition of this book would have been in abler hands than mine. In addition to this, he excelled, perhaps, even Parson Brownlow, in the fiery and scorching denunciation he could hurl on the head of an opponent. In action he was brave and cool; no danger could frighten him, no emergency find him unprepared. These were my companions.

The rain had begun to fall slightly as we walked out the railroad, on our route, and soon it increased to torrents. The night was pitchy dark, and we stumbled along, falling into gutters here, and nearly sticking in the mud there, until midnight, when we resolved to seek shelter from the storm.

For a long time we could find no indication of a house, until, at last, the barking of a dog gave us a clue. After some dispute as to which side of the road it was on, we struck off over a field. Our only guide were the random flashes of lightning that gave us a momentary view of the country around. The better to prosecute our search, we formed a line within hearing distance of each other, and thus swept around in all directions. At last we found a barn, but were so wet and chilly that we resolved to hunt on, in the hope of finding a fire and a bed.

After a still more tedious search, we found the goal of our wishes. It was a rude, double log-house. Here we roused up the inmates, and demanded a shelter for the night. The man of the house was evidently alarmed, but let us in, and then commenced questioning us as to who we were.

We told him we were Kentuckians who were disgusted with the tyranny of the Lincoln Government, and were seeking an asylum in the free and independent South.

"Oh," said he, "you come on a bootless errand, and had better go back home, for I have no doubt the whole of the South will soon be as much under Lincoln as Kentucky is."

"Never!" we answered, "we will fight till we die first!"

At this the old man chuckled quietly, and only said, "Well, we'll see; we'll see," which closed the discussion.

We were truly glad to find a Union man under such circumstances, but did not dare to reveal our true character to him, and he probably believes to this day that he harbored some chivalric Southerners. However, he provided us with a good supper and a comfortable bed, promising, also, not to inform the Federal pickets on us. The next morning, the sky for a time was clear, but it soon became overcast, and we were again compelled to suffer the inevitable drenching that befel us every day of this dreary journey.

We reached Wartrace in the midst of a pelting storm. At first we intended to go around the town, as it was the last station on our picket line. It was raining so hard that we thought we would not be interrupted in passing through it, but our guards were too vigilant for us. They stopped us, and after being for some time detained, and trying to play off the innocent Southern citizen, as hundreds do, we were obliged to reveal our true character to the commanding officer of the post, which, of course, secured our release.

Then again, we traveled onward for a time, wading the swollen creeks, and plodding through the mud as fast as we could. We were now outside of our lines, with nothing to trust to but the tender mercies of the rebels. Soon after, we found what a slender ground of trust that was, but now we were safe in the completeness of our disguise.

We met many others of our party, and trudged along—sometimes in company with them, but oftener alone. Toward evening, we reached Manchester, crossed Duck river, which was at flood hight, and entered the town.

Here we found the population in a wild ferment, and on inquiring the cause, learned that some of the citizens had reported an approaching band of Yankee cavalry, and that they were even now visible from the public square. We repaired thither with all speed to witness the novel spectacle of the entrance of National troops into a hostile town, from a Southern point of view. Mingled were the emotions expressed; fear was most prominent, but I thought I could detect on some countenances a half-concealed smile of exultation. Soon the terrible band loomed up over the hill which bounded the view, when lo! the dreaded enemies were seen to be only a party of negroes, who had been working in the coal mines in the mountains somewhere. Some of Mitchel's men had destroyed the works, and the contrabands were brought here for safe keeping. The feelings of the chivalry may be better imagined than described, as they dispersed with curses on the whole African race!

We here obtained from some of the citizens the names of the most prominent secessionists along the route we were to travel, who would be most likely to help us on to that blissful land where we might enjoy our rights in peace (?) undisturbed by even dreams of Abolitionists. These names were a great advantage to us, because always having some one to inquire for, and being recommended from one influential man to another, it was taken for granted that we were trustworthy characters, and few questions asked. That night we were within a few miles of Hillsboro', but so much were we delayed by the rain, that we began to fear we could not reach our destination in time. My feet, too, were sore from the gravel and dirt that filled my shoes in crossing the creeks, and wading through the mud, and already we were weary and stiff from traveling in the wet. But we resolved to press on, and, if necessary, to travel in the night, too, rather than miss our appointment.

Where we stayed that night, I first heard from the lips of a slave-owner himself of hunting negroes with bloodhounds. Our host said he had seen some one dodging around the back of his plantation, by the edge of the woods, just as it was getting dark, and in the morning he would take his bloodhounds, and go to hunt him up, and if it proved to be a negro, he would get the reward. He said he had caught great numbers of them, and seemed to regard it as a highly profitable business.

We, of course, had to agree with him; but I well remember that the idea of hunting human beings with bloodhounds, for money, sent a thrill of horror and detestation through my veins. Not long after, we found that bloodhounds were not for negroes alone.

The next morning, we continued our journey, and after walking three miles, found a man who agreed, for an exorbitant price, and for the good of the Confederacy, to give us conveyance in a wagon for a few miles. This was a great help to us, and as we trotted briskly along, we soon came in sight of the Cumberland Mountains.

Never did I behold more beautiful scenery. The rain had for a short time ceased to fall, and the air was clear. The mountains shone in the freshest green, and around their tops, just high enough to veil their loftiest summits, clung a soft, shadowy mist, gradually descending lower, shrouding one after another of the spurs and high mountain valleys from view. But the beautiful scene did not long continue. Soon the mist deepened into cloud, and again the interminable rain began to fall. To add to our discomforts, our wagon would go no further, and once more we trudged along afoot.

At noon we stopped for dinner at a house belonging to one of the "sand-hillers." This is the general name applied to the poor class of whites at the South. They have no property of their own, and live in small hovels, on the worst portions of the lands of the rich. Here they lead an ignorant, lazy life, devoting most of their time to hunting and fishing; only raising a little patch of corn to furnish their bread. They are almost as completely owned by their landlords as the slaves, and are compelled to vote as their masters choose. In the social scale they are no higher than any slave, nor do they deserve to be, for their intelligence is less. The term "sand-hiller," or "clay-eater," is a terrible one of reproach, and is applied unsparingly by the aristocrats. Of course, our entertainment here was composed of rather rude fare, but we ate the half-ground and half-baked corn bread, with the strong pork, and went on our way rejoicing.


Crossing the Mountains—Playing Hypocrite—Legend of Battle-Creek Valley—Lodged with a Secessionist—Strategy—A Welcome but Fatal Delay—Exaggerated Accounts of Shiloh—Prevented from Crossing the Tennessee—In the Mountains Again—Amusing Rebel Story—To the River Again—Perilous Crossing—Success—Chattanooga—On the Cars—Night—Arrive at Marietta.

We were near the foot of the Cumberland Mountains, and addressed ourselves to the task of crossing them. Just as we were mounting the first spur, we fell in with a Confederate soldier, who was at home on a furlough. He had been in a number of battles, and among others the first Manassas, which he described very minutely to me. Little did he think that I, too, had been there, as we laughed together at the wild panic of the Yankees. He was greatly delighted to see so many Kentuckians coming out on the right side, and contrasted our noble conduct with that of some persons of his own neighborhood, who still sympathized with the Abolitionists.

When we parted, he grasped my hand with tears in his eyes, and said he hoped "the time would soon come when we would be comrades, fighting side by side in one glorious cause." My heart revolted from the hypocrisy I was compelled to use; but having commenced, there was no possibility of turning back.

On we clambered up the mountain till the top was reached; then across the summit, which was a tolerably level road for six miles; then down again, over steep rocks, yawning chasms, and great gullies; a road that none but East Tennesseeans or soldier Yankees could have traveled at all. This rough jaunt led us down into Battle Creek, which is a delightful, picturesque valley, hemmed in by projecting ridges of lofty mountains.

While here, they told me how this valley obtained its name, which is certainly a very romantic legend, and no doubt true.

In early times there was war among the Indians. One tribe made a plundering expedition into the camp of another, and after securing their booty retreated. Of course they were pursued, and in their flight were traced to this valley. There the pursuers believed them to be concealed, and to make their capture sure, divided their force into two bands, each one taking an opposite side of the valley.

It was early in the morning, and as they wended their way cautiously onward, the mountain mist came down just as I had seen it descend that morning, and enveloped each of the parties in its folds. Determined not to be foiled, they marched on, and meeting at the head of the valley, each supposed the other to be the enemy. They poured in their fire, and a deadly conflict ensued. Not till nearly all their number had fallen did the survivors discover their mistake, and they slowly and sorrowfully returned to their wigwams. The plunderers, who had listened to their conflict in safety, being further up the mountains, were thus left to carry home their booty in triumph.

But we had no leisure for legendary tales.

The sun had set, and we stopped for the night with a rabid Secessionist, whom our soldier-friend on the mountain had recommended to us. He received us with open arms, shared with us the best his house afforded—giving us his bedroom, and sleeping with his family in the kitchen. We spent the evening in denouncing the Abolitionists, which term was used indiscriminately to designate all Federals who did not advocate the acknowledgment of the Confederacy. This did not go quite so hard as it did at first, for practice had rendered it nearly as easy for us to falsify our sentiments as to express them plainly.

Among other things we instanced to show the tyranny of the Lincolnites in Kentucky, was the expatriation law. This law provides that all persons aiding or abetting the rebels, or leaving the State and going South with their army, shall be expatriated, and lose all their right of citizenship in the State. The old man thought this was an act of unparalleled oppression; and in the morning, before I was out of bed, came in the room, and desired that some one of us would write that law down, that he might show his Union neighbors what the Yankees would do when they had the sway. I wrote it, and we all afterward signed our names to it. No doubt that document has been the theme of many angry discussions.

So thoroughly did we deceive the old man, that when, three days after, the railroad adventure fell on the astonished Confederates like a clap of thunder out of a clear sky, he would not believe that we were part of the men engaged in it. One of his neighbors, who was a Union man, and was arrested and confined in the same prison with us, told us that to the last our host maintained that his guests, at least, were true and loyal Southerners. Should I ever again be in that part of the country, I would delight to call on him in my true character, and talk over the national troubles from another point of view.

We stayed with him Wednesday night, and were still a long way from Chattanooga. We had designed, notwithstanding our weariness, to travel all that night, but accidentally met some of our comrades who had seen Andrews, who informed them that he had postponed the enterprise one day longer. This was a great relief, as it saved us a most wearisome and dreaded night tramp. But better to have taken it, for the delay of that one day was fatal. On Friday there would have been no extra trains to meet, and our success would have been sure. But this we did not know at the time.

The next day, which was Thursday, we came to Jasper, stopped in the town and around the groceries awhile, talking of the state of the country. We told them Kentucky was just ready to rise and shake off her chains, and they were just foolish enough to believe it!

Here we heard the first indistinct rumor of the battle of Shiloh—of course, a wonderful victory to the rebels, killing thousands of Yankees, and capturing innumerable cannon. It was the impression that our army was totally destroyed. One countryman gravely assured me that five hundred gunboats had been sunk. I told him I did not think the Yankees had so many as that, but was unable to shake his faith.

That night we stayed at Widow Hall's, and there met Andrews and some of our other comrades. This was on the banks of the Tennessee river, and Andrews advised us to cross there, and to take passage on the cars at Shell Mound station, as there had been a stringent order issued to let no one cross above, who could not present perfectly satisfactory credentials. Andrews had these, but we had not; it was, therefore, advisable for us to be challenged as few times as possible. We passed a pleasant evening, during which the wit of my friend Shadrack kept us in a continual roar of laughter.

At last morning came, and we went down to the bank of the river to cross. The ferryman had just swung the boat into the stream, and we were getting into it, when a man arrived with positive orders from the military authorities to let no one across for three days.

Affairs now looked dark. We could not cross except at the upper ferries, and not there unless our credentials were good. However, we resolved to persevere, and thinking in this case, as in many others, the boldest plan would be the safest, we again struck over the wild spurs of the Cumberland, which here sweep directly down to the river, on in the direction of Chattanooga, with the intention of trying to cross there, at headquarters.

Our journey was far from a pleasant one, and several times we lost our road in the entanglements of the mountains; but at last we reached a valley that ran directly down to the river, opposite Chattanooga. Here the road was more frequented, and from the travelers we met we learned further particulars of the battle of Shiloh. Still the accounts were rose-tinted for the Confederates, though they now admitted a considerable loss.

One man gave me an interesting item of news from the East; it was, that the Merrimac had steamed out, and after engaging the Monitor for some time with no decisive results, had ran alongside, and throwing grappling-hooks on her, towed her ashore, where, of course, she fell an easy prey. He said that now they had the two best gunboats in the world, and they would be able to raise the blockade without difficulty, and even to burn the Northern cities. But I have not space to tell of all the wild chimeras and absurd stories that we heard on our entrance into a land where truth always has been contraband. From that time forward, we heard of continuous Confederate victories, and not one Union triumph, till in September, when they admitted that they were repulsed by Rosecrans at Corinth.

On reaching the river, we found a great number of persons on the bank waiting to go over. The ferryman was there with a horse-boat, but the wind was so high that he feared to attempt the crossing. We waited as patiently as we could, though the time for the cars to start on the other side had nearly arrived, and we could not well afford to miss them. At length, the ferryman agreed to attempt the passage. He found it very difficult. We were about an hour in crossing, though the river was only a few hundred yards in width. Several times we were beaten back to our own side, but at last perseverance conquered, and we landed at Chattanooga.

The passage was an anxious one, for we expected to find the guard waiting for us on the other side; and then, if we failed to satisfy them that we were loyal subjects of King Jefferson, we would at once land in a Southern prison. Judge, then, of our delight when we saw no guard there, and were permitted to pass unmolested and unquestioned on our route.

I do not yet know the reason of this sudden relaxation of vigilance. Perhaps it was because all their attention was directed to Huntsville, which was now occupied in force by General Mitchel. The panic produced by this occupation was immense, as the only communication it left them with Beauregard was by the circuitous route through Atlanta, and when, the next day, this too was endangered, their excitement knew no bounds.

Chattanooga is a small town—not much more than a village. It is pleasantly situated on the banks of the Tennessee, and is bowered in amidst lofty mountain peaks. One of these hangs right over the town, and is more than seven hundred feet in perpendicular hight. From its summit parts of four States are visible—Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and North Carolina. It is capable of being very strongly fortified; and though there were no works erected when I was there, many may have been built since. It is one of the most important strategic points in the whole South, and should have been in the possession of our forces long ago.

From the river we went directly to the depot. Some of our party had arrived earlier, and gone down to Marietta on a former train. We found the cars nearly ready to start, and after loitering around a few minutes in the depot, which was crowded full of travelers—mostly soldiers—we purchased our tickets and got aboard. The cars were jammed full. There was scarcely room to stand. Many of the passengers were soldiers who had been at home on furlough, and were returning to join Beauregard. The conversation was mostly on the great battle which had just been fought, and the accounts were by no means so glowing as they had been at first; still they announced a great victory. We took part in the conversation, and expressing as much interest as any one, our true character was not suspected. There was at this time no system of passports in use on that line, and travel was entirely unrestricted.

The sun was about an hour high as we glided out of the depot, and soon sunk to rest behind the hills of Georgia. There were many bridges on the road, and as we passed over them, we could not help picturing to ourselves our proposed return on the morrow, and the probabilities of the destruction we intended to wreck on them. Darkness gradually closed in, and on we went amid the laughter and oaths of the Confederates, many of whom were very much intoxicated. I procured a seat on the coal-box, and for awhile gave myself up to the reflections naturally suggested by the near culmination of the enterprise in which I was engaged. Visions of former days and friends—dear friends, both around the camp-fire and by the hearth of home, whom I might never see again, floated before me. But gradually, as the night wore on, these faded, and I slept.

At midnight, we were wakened by the conductor calling "Marietta." The goal was reached. We were in the center of the Confederacy, with our deadly enemies all around. Before we left, we were to strike a blow that would either make all rebeldom vibrate to the center, or be ourselves at the mercy of the merciless. It was a time for solemn thought; but we were too weary to indulge in speculations of the future. We retired to bed in the Tremont House, and were soon folded in sweet slumbers—the last time we slept on a bed for many weary months.


Take an Early Train—Prospecting—Capture of the Train—Panic in Confederate Camp—Away at Lightning Speed—Thrilling Experience—Cut the Telegraph—Tear up the Track—Unexpected Obstacle—Running a Powder Train to Beauregard—Red Flag—Dropping Cross-Ties—Battering out Spikes—Immense Exertion of Strength—Pursuing Backward—Terrible Chase—Attempt to Wreck the Enemy's Train—Fearful Speed—Bold Plan.

The waiter aroused us at four o'clock in the morning, as we told him we wished to take the train at that hour back to Camp McDonald, which is located at a place called Big Shanty, eight miles north of Marietta, and is also a breakfast station. Andrews had gone to another hotel, and warned the members of the party there to be in readiness to take passage. Two of them, Hawkins and Porter, who had arrived earlier, were not warned, and were, therefore, left behind. It was not their fault, as they had no certain knowledge of the time we were to start, but rather thought it would be the next day.

There were just twenty of us on the train, Andrews and nineteen others, of whom several were engineers. We went along very quietly and inoffensively, just as any other passengers would do, until we reached Big Shanty. I knew that we were to take possession of the train at this place, but did not just know how it was to be done. I thought we would probably have to fight, and compel the conductor, train-hands, and passengers to get off. We might have done this, but it would have required very quick work, for there were then some ten thousand troops, mostly conscripts, camped there, and a guard was placed watching the train. But a far better plan was adopted.

As soon as we arrived, the engineer, conductor, and many of the passengers went over to the eating-house. Now was our opportunity! Andrews, and one or two others, went forward and examined the track, to see if everything was in readiness for a rapid start.

Oh! what a thrilling moment was that! Our hearts throbbed thick and fast with emotions we dared not manifest to those who were loafing indifferently around. In a minute, which seemed an hour, Andrews came back, opened the door, and said, very quietly and carelessly, "Let us go, now, boys." Just as quietly and carelessly we arose and followed him. The passengers who were lazily waiting for the train to move on and carry them to their destination, saw nothing in the transaction to excite their suspicions. Leisurely we moved forward—reached the head of the train—then Andrews, Brown our engineer, and Knight, who also could run an engine, leaped on the locomotive; Alfred Wilson took the top of the cars as brakesman, and the remainder of us clambered into the foremost baggage car, which, with two others, had been previously uncoupled from the hinder part of the train. For one moment of most intense suspense all was still—then a pull—a jar—a clang—and we were flying away on our perilous journey.

There are times in the life of man when whole years of intensest enjoyment seem condensed into a single moment. It was so with me then. I could comprehend the emotion of Columbus, when he first beheld through the dim dawn of morning, the new found, but long dreamed-of shores of America, or the less innocent, but no less vivid joy of Cortez, when he first planted the cross of Spain over the golden halls of Montezuma. My breast throbbed full with emotions of delight and gladness, that words labor in vain to express. A sense of ethereal lightness ran through all my veins, and I seemed to be ascending higher—higher—into realms of inexpressible bliss, with each pulsation of the engine. It was a moment of triumphant joy that will never return again. Not a dream of failure now shadowed my rapture. All had told us that the greatest difficulty was to reach and take possession of the engine, and after that, success was certain. It would have been, but for unforeseen contingencies.

Away we scoured, passing field, and village, and woodland. At each leap of the engine our hearts rose higher, and we talked merrily of the welcome that would greet us when we dashed into Huntsville a few hours later—our enterprise done, and the brightest laurels of the guerilla Morgan far eclipsed!

But the telegraph ran by our side, and was able, by the flashing of a single lightning message ahead, to arrest our progress and dissipate all our fondest hopes. There was no telegraphic station where we took the train, but we knew not how soon our enemies might reach one, or whether they might not have a portable battery at command. To obviate all danger on this point, we stopped, after running some four miles, to cut the wire.

John Scott, an active young man, climbed the pole, and with his hand knocked off the insulated box at the top, and swung down on the wire. Fortunately, there was a small saw on the engine, with which the wire was soon severed. While this was being done, another party took up a rail, and put it into the car to carry off with us. This did not long check our pursuers, but we had the satisfaction of learning that it threw them down an embankment, as will be narrated more fully in a Confederate account inserted hereafter.

When the engine first stopped, Andrews jumped off, clasped our hands in ecstasy, congratulating us that our difficulties were now all over; that we had the enemy at such a disadvantage that he could not harm us, and exhibited every sign of joy. Said he, "Only one more train to pass, and then we will put our engine to full speed, burn the bridges after us, dash through Chattanooga, and on to Mitchel at Huntsville." The programme would have been filled if we had met only one train.

We were ahead of time, and in order to meet the down train just on time, we were obliged to stop on the track awhile. These were tedious moments while we waited, but soon we moved on very slowly again. At the next station, Andrews borrowed a schedule from the tank-tender, telling him that he was running an express powder-train through to Beauregard. He gave the schedule, saying that he would send his shirt to Beauregard if he wanted it. When asked afterwards if he did not suspect anything, he said he would as soon have thought of suspecting Jeff Davis, as one who talked with so much assurance as Andrews did!

On we went till we reached the station where we were to pass what we believed to be the last train. Here the switch was not properly adjusted, and Andrews entered the station-house, without asking leave of anybody, took down the keys, and adjusted the switch. This raised some disturbance on the part of those around the station, but it was quieted by telling them the same powder story. After waiting a short time, the down train arrived, and we passed it without difficulty. But we observed on it what we did not like—a red flag, indicating that another train was behind.

This was most discouraging, for we had now hoped to have the road exclusively to ourselves; but still we did not despair. However, we had yet to run on regular time, which was, unfortunately, very slow time—not more than twelve or fifteen miles an hour. Thus unavoidably consuming our precious moments, we glided on till we reached the station where we expected to meet what we were now sure would be our last hindrance. We stopped on a side-track to wait for it, and there had to remain twenty-five minutes. Just as we had concluded to go on, and risk the chances of a collision, the expected train hove in sight.

It was safely passed, as the other had been before; but judge of our dismay when we beheld a red flag on this train also! Matters now began to look dark. Much of our precious time, which we had reserved as a margin for burning bridges, was now gone, and we were still tied down to the slow regular rate of running. Yet we could not retreat, and had no resource but to press firmly on. This we did, and obstructed the track as well as we could, by laying on cross-ties at different places. We also cut the telegraph wire between every station.

Finally, when we were nearly to the station where we expected to meet the last train, we stopped to take up a rail. We had no instruments for doing this, except a crowbar, and, instead of pulling out the spikes, as we could have done with the pinch burrs used for that purpose by railroad men, we had to batter them out. This was slow work. We had loosened this rail at one end, and eight of us took hold of it to try to pull the other end loose. Just as we were going to relinquish the effort in despair, the whistle of an engine in pursuit sounded in our ears! The effect was magical. With one convulsive effort we broke the rail in two, and tumbled pell-mell over the embankment. No one was hurt, and we took up our precious half rail, which insured us time to pass the train ahead, before our pursuers could be upon us.

We were not a moment too soon, for we were scarcely out of sight of where we had taken up the last rail, before the other train met us. This was safely passed, and when our pursuers came to the place where we had broken the rail, they abandoned their own train, and ran on foot till they met the one we had just passed, and turned it back after us, running with great speed.

We were now aware of our danger, and adopted every expedient we could think of to delay pursuit; but, as we were cutting the wire near Calhoun, they came in sight of us. Then ensued the most terrible and thrilling chase ever known on the American continent.

We instantly put our engine to full speed, and in a moment its wheels were striking fire from the rails in their rapid revolutions. The car in which we were, rocked furiously, and threw us from one side to the other like peas rattled in a gourd. Still on after us relentlessly came the pursuers. The smoke of their engine could be distinguished in every long reach, and the scream of their whistle sounded in our ears around every curve. It was still necessary for us to cut the wire, and, in order to gain time for that, we dropped a car on the track, and, soon after, another. This left us with only the locomotive, tender, and one baggage-car. Each time, when we stopped to cut the wire, we would try to take up another rail; but before we could loosen its fastenings with our imperfect tools, the approach of our enemies would compel us to hasten on.

The thought of a new expedient crossed my mind, which saved us for some time longer. It was to knock out the end of our car, and drop the rails on the track as we ran. Soon after, in one of our necessary stoppages to take care of the telegraph, we loaded on some cross ties, which we threw out in the same manner. One rail I reserved for a particular purpose. When we stopped again, I took it, placed one end under the track, and let the other project upward, jointing toward the advancing train. It was very nearly effectual. The engineer of the train in pursuit, who afterward visited us in prison, said that if it had been only one inch higher, nothing could have saved their train from wreck, because, being so dark and small, it was not noticed till too late to stop. However, it was a little too low to hook in the bars of the cow-catcher, as I intended.

Our enemies pursued us with great determination. One man rode on the cow-catcher, and, springing off, would throw the obstructions from the track, and jump on again while they had merely checked the engine. So great was our velocity, that most of the ties we threw out bounced off the track; but the few that remained enabled us several times to get out of sight of them. When this was the case, we would stop, and again try to take up a rail, which would have given us leisure for the greater operation of burning a bridge.

By this time we had a few more instruments, which Andrews and Wilson had simultaneously procured from a switch tender. We worked faithfully, but each time, before we had loosened a rail, the inexorable pursuers were again visible.

I then proposed to Andrews a plan that afforded a hope of final escape. It was to let our engineer take our engine on out of sight, while we hid on a curve after putting a tie on the track, and waited for the pursuing train to come up; then, when they checked to remove the obstruction, we could rush on them, shoot every person on the engine, reverse it, and let it drive at will back as it came. It would have chased all the trains following, of which there were now two or three, back before it, and thus have stopped the whole pursuit for a time. This would have required quick work, and have been somewhat dangerous, as the trains were now loaded with soldiers; but it afforded a chance of success. Andrews said it was a good plan—looked all around, and then hurried to the engine, and I had no further opportunity of discussing the subject. After we were in prison, he said he was very sorry that we had not made the effort.


Consternation Along the Route—Wood and Water—Attempt to Fire the Train—Partial Failure—Message Sent to Chattanooga—Terrific Preparations—Abandon the Train—A Capital Error—In the Woods—A Thrilling Account of the Chase from the Atlanta "Southern Confederacy."

All this time we were rushing through towns and villages at terrific speed. Some passengers came down when they heard our whistle, to go aboard, but they all shrank back amazed when they saw us pass with the noise of thunder, and the speed of lightning. Still more were they astonished when they saw three other trains dashing by in close pursuit, and loaded with excited soldiers. Thus the break-neck chase continued through Dalton, Ringgold, and the other small towns on the route.

But it soon became evident that it could not continue much longer. We had taken on wood and water before we were so closely pressed, but now our supply was nearly exhausted, and our pursuers were too close behind to permit us to replenish it. But before yielding, we resolved to try one more expedient.

For this purpose, we broke open the forward end of the only box-car we had left, and with the fragments endeavored to kindle a fire in it. Had we succeeded, we would have detached it, left it burning on a bridge, and run on with the locomotive alone. But the fuel on the latter was too nearly gone to afford us kindling wood, and the draught through the car, caused by our rapid motion, blew our matches out. At length we succeeded in kindling a small fire; but the drizzling rain, which had been falling all morning, blew in on it, and prevented it from burning rapidly enough to be of any service.

Thus our last hope expired, and our magnificent scheme, on which we had so long thought and toiled, was a failure. But one thing more now remained—to save ourselves, if possible.

We were within, perhaps, fifteen miles of Chattanooga, when we resolved to abandon the engine. Having made this resolve, we did not cut the telegraph wire, and then, for the first time, they succeeded in sending a message ahead of us.

This was no serious detriment to us, but it raised the wildest excitement in Chattanooga. The women and children instantly fled from the town, and sought safety in the woods and mountains. The whole military force, which was encamped near the place, came out, and selected an advantageous position to meet us. There they planted cannon, felled trees across the track, tore up the rails for some distance, and waited for our approach. Their orders were for them to make a general massacre—not to spare a single man. But we came not, and therefore they had no opportunity to display their latent cruelty.

It was at this point, when he saw every scheme we attempted to execute completely foiled, that Andrews' presence of mind, for a time, seemed to desert him. It was only fifteen miles across the country to the Tennessee river, and we could have reached it ahead of any opposition, had we all stuck together. One man had a compass, and with that, and Andrews' knowledge of the country, we could have gained, and crossed the Tennessee, and struck into the mountains beyond, before the country could have been aroused around us. Once there, in those interminable forests, it would have been almost impossible for them to capture us, well armed as we were, before we could have reached the shelter of our army. But this was not done, and this last chance of escape was lost.

The locomotive was run on till the wood and water were completely exhausted, and the pursuers plainly in view. Then Andrews gave the order for us to leave the train, disperse, and for every man to save himself, if he could. We obeyed, jumping off the train while still in motion, and were soon making the best of our way through the tangled pines of Georgia.

Before giving an account of our adventures in the woods, I will insert the following article from the "Southern Confederacy," of April 15, 1862, a paper published in Atlanta, Georgia, only three days after our adventure. This I purloined from the officer in charge of us, and carried concealed about my clothes all the time I remained in the South. It contains a good many errors of statement, particularly where it refers to our numbers and plans, but is valuable as showing the estimate the rebels placed on our enterprise, and as giving their ideas of the chase. It also represents us as tearing up the railroad many more times than we did. In no case did they take up rails behind, and lay them down before their train. This assertion was made to give Messrs. Fuller and Murphy more credit at our expense. So highly were the services of these gentlemen appreciated, that the Georgia State Legislature, in the fall of 1862, gave them a vote of thanks, and recommended the Governor to grant them the highest offices in his gift. I do not know what they actually did receive.

Below is the account:


The Most Extraordinary and Astounding Adventure of the War—The Most Daring Undertaking that Yankees ever Planned or Attempted to Execute—Stealing an Engine—Tearing up the Track—Pursued on Foot, on Hand-Cars, and Engines—Overtaken—A Scattering—The Capture—The Wonderful Energy of Messrs. Fuller, Murphy and Cain—Some Reflections, &c., &c.


Since our last issue, we have obtained full particulars of the most thrilling railroad adventure that ever occurred on the American continent, as well as the mightiest and most important in its results, if successful, that has been conceived by the Lincoln Government since the commencement of this war. Nothing on so grand a scale has been attempted, and nothing within the range of possibility could be conceived, that would fall with such a tremendous, crushing force upon us, as the accomplishment of the plans which were concocted and dependent on the execution of the one whose history we now proceed to narrate.

Its realitywhat was actually done—excels all the extravagant conceptions of the Arrow-Smith hoax, which fiction created such a profound sensation in Europe.

To make the matter more complete and intelligible, we will take our readers over the same history of the case which we related in our last, the main features of which are correct, but are lacking in details, which have since come to hand.

We will begin at the breakfast-table of the Big Shanty Hotel at Camp McDonald, on the Western and Atlantic Railroad, where several regiments of soldiers are now encamped. The morning mail and passenger train had left here at four A. M., on last Saturday morning, as usual, and had stopped there for breakfast. The conductor, William A. Fuller; the engineer, I. Cain, both of this city; and the passengers were at the table, when some eight men, having uncoupled the engine and three empty box-cars next to it, from the passenger and baggage-cars, mounted the engine, pulled open the valve, put on all steam, and left conductor, engineer, passengers, spectators, and the soldiers in the camp hard by, all lost in amazement, and dumbfounded at the strange, startling, and daring act.

This unheard-of act was, doubtless, undertaken at that place and time upon the presumption that pursuit could not be made by an engine short of Kingston, some thirty miles above, or from this place; and that by cutting down the telegraph wires as they proceeded, the adventurers could calculate on at least three or four hours' start of any pursuit it was reasonable to expect. This was a legitimate conclusion, and but for the will, energy, and quick good judgment of Mr. Fuller, and Mr. Cain, and Mr. Anthony Murphy, the intelligent and practical foreman of the wood department of the State Road shop, who accidentally went on the train from this place that morning, their calculations would have worked out as originally contemplated, and the results would have been obtained long ere this reaches the eye of our readers—the most terrible to us of any that we can conceive as possible, and unequaled by any attempted or conceived since this war commenced.

Now for the chase!

These three determined men, without a moment's delay, put out after the flying train—on foot, amidst shouts of laughter by the crowd, who, though lost in amazement at the unexpected and daring act, could not repress their risibility at seeing three men start after a train on foot, which they had just witnessed depart at lightning speed. They put on all their speed, and ran along the track for three miles, when they came across some track-raisers, who had a small truck-car, which is shoved along by men so employed on railroads, on which to carry their tools. This truck and men were at once "impressed." They took it by turns of two at a time to run behind this truck, and push it along all up grades and level portions of the road, and let it drive at will on all the down grades. A little way further up the fugitive adventurers had stopped, cut the telegraph wires, and torn up the track. Here the pursuers were thrown off pell mell, truck and men, upon the side of the road. Fortunately "nobody was hurt on our side." The truck was soon placed on the road again; enough hands were left to repair the track, and with all the power of determined will and muscle, they pushed on to Etowah Station, some twenty miles above.

Here, most fortunately, Major Cooper's old coal engine, the "Yonah"—one of the first engines on the State road—was standing out, fired up. This venerable locomotive was immediately turned upon her own track, and like an old racer, at the tap of the drum, pricked up her ears and made fine time to Kingston.

The fugitives, not expecting such early pursuit, quietly took in wood and water at Cass Station, and borrowed a schedule from the tank-tender, upon the plausible plea that they were running a pressed train, loaded with powder, for Beauregard. The attentive and patriotic tank-tender, Mr. William Russell, said he gave them his schedule, and would have sent the shirt off his back to Beauregard, if it had been asked for. Here the adventurous fugitives inquired which end of the switch they should go in on at Kingston. When they arrived at Kingston, they stopped, went to the agent there, told the powder story, readily got the switch-key, went on the upper turn-out, and waited for the down way freight train to pass. To all inquiries they replied with the same powder story. When the freight train had passed, they immediately proceeded on to the next station—Adairsville—where they were to meet the regular down freight train. At some point on the way they had taken on some fifty cross-ties, and before reaching Adairsville, they stopped on a curve, tore up the rails, and put seven cross-ties on the track—no doubt intending to wreck this down freight train, which would be along in a few minutes. They had out upon the engine a red handkerchief, as a kind of flag or signal, which, in railroading, means another train is behind—thereby indicating to all that the regular passenger train would be along presently. They stopped a moment at Adairsville, and said Fuller, with the regular passenger train, was behind, and would wait at Kingston for the freight train, and told the conductor thereon to push ahead and meet him at that point. They passed on to Calhoun, where they met the down passenger train, due here at 4.20 P. M., and without making any stop, they proceeded—on, on, and on.

But we must return to Fuller and his party, whom we have unconsciously left on the old "Yonah," making their way to Kingston.

Arriving there, and learning the adventurers were but twenty minutes ahead, they left the "Yonah" to blow off, while they mounted the engine of the Rome Branch Road, which was ready fired up, and waiting for the arrival of the passenger train nearly due, when it would have proceeded to Rome. A large party of gentlemen volunteered for the chase, some at Acworth, Altoona, Kingston, and other points, taking such arms as they could lay their hands on at the moment; and with this fresh engine they set out with all speed, but with great "care and caution," as they had scarcely time to make Adairsville, before the down freight train would leave that point. Sure enough, they discovered, this side of Adairsville, three rails torn up and other impediments in the way. They "took up" in time to prevent an accident, but could proceed with the train no further. This was most vexatious, and it may have been in some degree disheartening; but it did not cause the slightest relaxation of efforts, and, as the result proved, was but little in the way of the dead game, pluck and resolutions of Fuller and Murphy, who left the engine and again put out on foot alone! After running two miles, they met the down freight train, one mile out from Adairsville. They immediately reversed the train, and ran backwards to Adairsville—put the cars on the siding, and pressed forward, making fine time to Calhoun, where they met the regular down passenger train. Here they halted a moment, took on board a telegraph operator, and a number of men who again volunteered, taking their guns along—and continued the chase. Mr. Fuller also took on here a company of track-hands to repair the track as they went along. A short distance above Calhoun, they flushed their game on a curve, where they doubtless supposed themselves out of danger, and were quietly oiling the engine, taking up the track, &c. Discovering that they were pursued, they mounted and sped away, throwing out upon the track as they went along, the heavy cross-ties they had prepared themselves with. This was done by breaking out the end of the hindmost box-car, and pitching them out. Thus, "nip and tuck," they passed with fearful speed Resaca, Tilton, and on through Dalton.

The rails which they had taken up last they took off with them—besides throwing out cross-ties upon the track occasionally—hoping thereby the more surely to impede the pursuit; but all this was like tow to the touch of fire to the now thoroughly-aroused, excited, and eager pursuers. These men, though so much excited, and influenced by so much determination, still retained their well-known caution, were looking out for this danger, and discovered it, and though it was seemingly an insuperable obstacle to their making any headway in pursuit, was quickly overcome by the genius of Fuller and Murphy. Coming to where the rails were torn up, they stopped, tore up rails behind them, and laid them down before, till they had passed over that obstacle. When the cross-ties were reached, they hauled to and threw them off, and thus proceeded, and under these difficulties gained on the frightened fugitives. At Dalton they halted a moment. Fuller put off the telegraph operator, with instructions to telegraph to Chattanooga to have them stopped, in case he should fail to overhaul them.

Fuller pressed on in hot chase—sometimes in sight—as much to prevent their cutting the wires before the message could be sent, as to catch them. The daring adventurers stopped just opposite and very near to where Colonel Glenn's regiment is encamped, and cut the wires; but the operator at Dalton had put the message through about two minutes before. They also again tore up the track, cut down a telegraph pole, and placed the two ends of it under the cross-ties, and the middle over the rail on the track. The pursuers stopped again, and got over this impediment in the same manner they did before—taking up the rails behind, and laying them down before. Once over this, they shot on, and passed through the great tunnel at Tunnel Hill, being there only five minutes behind. The fugitives, thus finding themselves closely pursued, uncoupled two of the box-cars from the engine, to impede the progress of the pursuers. Fuller hastily coupled them to the front of his engine, and pushed them ahead of him, to the first turn-out or siding, where they were left, thus preventing the collision the adventurers intended.

Thus the engine-thieves passed Ringgold, where they began to fag. They were out of wood, water, and oil. Their rapid running and inattention to the engine had melted all the brass from the journals. They had no time to repair or refit, for an iron-horse of more bottom was close behind. Fuller and Murphy, and their men, soon came within four hundred yards of them, when the fugitives jumped from the engine, and left it, three on the north side, and five on the south side; all fleeing precipitately, and scattering through the thicket. Fuller and his party also took to the woods after them.

Some gentleman, also well armed, took the engine and some cars of the down passenger train at Calhoun, and followed up Fuller and Murphy and their party in the chase, but a short distance behind, and reached the place of the stampede but a very few moments after the first pursuers did. A large number of men were soon mounted, armed, and scouring the country in search of them. Fortunately, there was a militia muster at Ringgold. A great many countrymen were in town. Hearing of the chase, they put out on foot and on horseback in every direction, in search of the daring, but now thoroughly frightened and fugitive men.

We learn that Fuller, soon after leaving his engine, in passing a cabin in the country, found a mule, having on a bridle but no saddle, and tied to a fence. "Here's your mule," he shouted, as he leaped upon his back, and put out as fast as a good switch, well applied, could impart vigor to the muscles and accelerate the speed of the patient donkey. The cry of "Here's your mule," and "Where's my mule," have become national, and are generally heard when, on the one hand, no mule is about, and on the other when no one is hunting a mule. It seems not to be understood by any one, though it is a peculiar Confederate phrase, and is as popular as Dixie, from the Potomac to the Rio Grande. It remained for Fuller, in the midst of this exciting chase, to solve the mysterious meaning of this national by-word or phrase, and give it a practical application.

All of the eight men were captured, and are now safely lodged in jail. The particulars of their capture we have not received. This we hope to obtain in time for a postscript to this, or for our second edition. They confessed that they belonged to Lincoln's army, and had been sent down from Shelbyville to burn the bridges between here and Chattanooga; and that the whole party consisted of nineteen men, eleven of whom were dropped at several points on the road as they came down, to assist in the burning of the bridges as they went back.

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