Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers

Company A, Inc.


November 13-15, 2009
Molena, Ga.

Molena, Ga.
November 16th, 1864

Dear Friends,

I take this opportunity to improve my time with writing home once more. The old One Hundred Sixteenth Illinois is on the move again. Since I wrote last, from the locale of Atlanta, where we laid in rest for a time, we are now traveling south of that city, cross country, for parts unknown to us, but certainly known to Uncle Billy Sherman. Our line of march is by the Fifteenth Corps, with our division in the middle of the pack. We are obliged to forage off the land for all needs, since we are carting neither supplies, wagons, or artillery. The lands here are somewhat depleted in the first place, but more so as the Union soldiers sweep over the Georgia landscape.

We marched the first few days over rolling soft lands, much like home, but a little more rolling. When we arrived near here on Friday, the land abruptly got quite hilly, almost mountainous, at least to the boys from Niantic, Illinois. There is a large river hard by here, and it is quite swollen and angry from the rains of the past week. It has risen, and taken its tolls along its banks. We were concentrated here near a camp along the Flint river. It is there in the flood plains that I saw my first armored dillo. It has been flushed out of its river bank den and drowned. What a strange creature it is. Seems like the southern version of a possum, but shaped a little like a hare, except it is all leathery and platey, like a little dinosaur, and quite a sight. I wish I could draw one for you, but it is hard for me to do, so words will paint the picture.

We were rested well past sunset, and then put into our foraging parties for the next day. We were dealt a scant hunk of rancid pork, and issued torches for our work. Then we marched. Off we went into the night, I assume to get the jump on the other divisions so that our parties would be the first to arrive at the local residences in our path. After a time, we were on the river road, and were dodging large puddles and mud holes. Soon we were halted, and the sound of muskets came to our ears, sounding the alarm from the flankers on the left. We were ordered to load, and faced to the left, up a rise to a crest. Of course, it was pitch dark, and there was no moon, so that no one could actually see what we were looking at. Except the flashes of fire from some Georgia militia that had spied our advance, and determined to hold us up a little. Well, we did our best to welcome them, and we advanced up the ridge, through thick brush and woods, and were able to flush them out. There was some grousing about what we could possibly accomplish fighting in the dark, and what dire things could happen to us advancing blind in the night.

So, there it was that we were ordered to drop kits, and make it a night. The pickets were put out, and we were detailed for the 4 A.M. guard. So, we got up a fire, thanks to brother Pyro, I cooked my pork, and ate it right there, rather than save it, since I had not eaten that day at all. We laid down to sleep, but it was quite cold, so sleep was only fleeting. At the appointed time, the Sergeant of the Guard found us, and got us up for the detail. He had to admonish our Corporal, since he was trying to feign sleep in a cheap dodge. Well, we got him up, were all posted in hearing distance of each other, and proceeded to keep the watch until the dawn started to show. We were relieved at 6 A.M., and made some coffee, a welcome find in the bottom of our flat haversacks, and got ourselves together for a fine day of touring Georgia.

Standing guard, it seemed to me that the best way to travel was up the ridge in the front of our camp, as that seemed to be a road, and that was where the militia had disappeared last night. But, military command, being what it was, got us back down the hill, onto the river road, and off we marched once more. At least for a little while. The Flint river had claimed large portions of the road to the waters, and so we were obliged to route around the floods, which was accomplished by climbing up the hills, and filing indian style through the woods on a steep side trail. Most of the boys were using their rifles for walking sticks, and our right legs were soon twice the length of our lefts. Occasionally, we would make our way down the ridges and cliffs, resume the road once more, only to be forced back up the ridge when the next flood was encountered. This seemed to go on for hours, and our progress was little.

Eventually, we came to the base of a large rock cliff outcropping, dripping with water, and impassable both above and below. The orders came to scale the cliffs at their far end, and so up we all clambered, with much difficulty due to the steepness and the poor footing from our brogans. Everyone was stumbling and falling, and at one point, I was faced with friend Dan shooting downhill towards me upside down, face up. I broke his fall, but his hat went travelling down the ravine towards the rushing water. Luckily he was not hurt, someone climbed down and retrieved his hat, and we were off again. At the top, there was a hilly clearing where we rested some time, then we were off up towards the top crest of the mountain. Here the footing was also poor, slipping on a deep bed of southern yellow pine needles. That is where my newest blisters were born.

Our boys from the Niantic mess were starting to straggle a little on account of sore feet, dry mouths, and empty bellies. There was a promise of water at the crest of the hill, so off went the stoutest of the men. When we finally approached the well, we found that it was drunk dry. So we grumbled a little and kept on to catch up to the rest of the 116th. We came to a fork in the road, actually more of a tee, where the right turn went back down the mountain into a valley below, and the left proceeded to follow the crest for a time. There we encountered our friends from the 15th Michigan foraging party, and determined to cast our lots with them rather than try to travel as a pack of only three through the militia infested country side. They were not sure which way to go, and sent out small reconnoitering parties in all directions. They returned in fifteen minutes or so, and said they found no one and nothing.

There was the sound of guns down in that valley occasionally, and so we were sure that some of the parties had engaged the local wood ticks and guerrillas in that direction. That would mean trouble, which we were ordered to avoid, or capture, which we were not interested in. It also meant descending the heights, and probable that we would have to climb out either in returning or continuing on. Neither of those sounded so good, and if the other parties were there first, we would not likely find water of food. Our division commander wandered by, and he had no good suggestions on how to proceed. Our other friends of the 99th Indiana had actually gone back towards the dripping rocks, and we had not heard from them since. So, that left us the only road not taken, that along the crest and down river the way in the direction of our camp of yesterday. And that we did.

On the way, we were presented with the most sublime views of the Flint, and the valley, and the gorge between our side, and Pine Mountain. We arrived at the base of the hills, and negotiated a declivity, a rock fold, that seemed impassable. Once beyond that point, we were once again on the river road from the day before, and proceed ed to the water well that we filled up at in the morning. All spirits were quite low at that point, and we were making plans to proceed to the jump off point of the army. But, there was spotted in a depression to the right of the road a cache of supplies. On further investigation, it turned out to be a large quantity of cob corn, shelled corn, sweet potatoes, and coffee with sugar. How that lifted our spirits! We at once fell upon the treasure, and determined that it was not a civilian stash, but a Rebel requisition that was indeed unguarded. We feasted upon it, and out came all the burlap bags, and other arrangements for carrying away any stores. We indeed only took what we could use, but were not too stingy with our rations, and took all of the coffee, about ten pounds, and determined to leave the rest back for the original owners.

We at once proceeded up the slopes of the river, and found to our liking, the abandoned little village of Cherokee, Georgia. All was just left, as the residents had fleed the onslaught of the bummers, and all was as we liked. The town square was our bivouac, and all of our boys took up residence in the finest little homes surrounding the center. All had nice accommodations, beds and mattresses, and even rockers on the porches. We proceeded to make a good fire, cook all our treasures and eat like kings. We relaxed some as we knew that no one, civilian or militia, was nearby for a time. Our bellies full, we let the fire die down in the square, and that is when we started to hear the militia hard by, they were lamenting the desecration of their rations, and they proceeded up the same ridge, about a hundred rods away. There they built a big fire, ate their portion we left them, and all the time were unaware we were staring at them all the time from the Cherokee village. We decided to leave them alone, and that we would go unnoticed for the evening, and we would whack them in the morning if they could be bagged.

We spent a night in true comfort, and in the morning, got up, made a cook fire, ate again a fine breakfast with all our store, and more from the deep packs of the boys. Once we were fed, and all our coffee needs were met, we were making plans to get after the close by enemy, but it was soon heard the sound of fire. We looked over to the rebel camp, and they were gone. We quickly deployed to the west in skirmish line to sweep the area, but only swept into the rest of the Union command coming down off the mountain. They were clearing their weapons. The rebels woodticks were long gone. So, we proceeded to line the road as they all came by, and met up with all the parties that we had been separated from the afternoon before. They were also full of food, foraged from the Georgia civilians down in that dell, and were all very pleased with their performance. We fell in with the column, found our boys of the 116th, and had a good laugh abouts all our trials. We proceeded back to the main muster point, and were dismissed to rejoin our commands, and return our forage to the boys waiting. We got back to the spot, and willing shucked off our traps, and got into a good bit of booty for a time, and when properly adjusted, got back to the trains and prepared for the long haul with the main column.

We still do not know what Uncle Billy has for an objective, but are quite pleased with our new found ability to live off the land, and that we were indeed able to "Make Georgia Howl" as we did. It is even more pleasing that our little time with the 15th Michigan found us among friends, and robbing the militia directly, and not harming any civilians in the process.

I am still amazed at the sight of my first armored dillo. All the Niantic boys are well. My heals will heal.

Your humble servant,

E-Mail Us for More Information!
Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, Co.A, Inc.

Back to 2009 Archive

BACK to the 8CV Home Page.