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Letters from the front

Letters from Captain Edward T. Broughton of Company C
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Jeremiah Morrill Clough
Jeremiah Morrill Clough, a veteran of the Mexican War, served as the Lieutenant Colonel of the 7th Texas from November 1861 until killed in action at Fort Donelson, 15 February 1862.

"A colony of graves upon Kentucky's soil"

Letter from Lieutenant Colonel Jeremiah M. Clough.
[Hopkinsville, Kentucky, January 19, 1862]

Our Regiment have suffered much from sickness - indeed more than one hundred and thirty men have died in the short space of these months - a dreadful and almost unaccountable mortality. I will say that from the beginning without any agency of anyone, our men started from home predisposed to disease, that from acombination of unfortunate circumstances that could have been controlled, they arrived here well prepared to take all the diseases which hover over an army and to contract them with little prospect of getting well. That after we arrived here one half of our men or more, from a pressing necessity were obligated to make a forced march to Princeton, that on their return they were caught in a cold rain and encamped one night on wet blankets without food or fire.

Close on the heels of this march they were attacked with the measles. The remainder of the Regiment left behind were compelled to perform double duty in order to protect this point which was daily threatened with an attack. The measles spread to an alarming extent. The hospitals were without beds, blankets or furniture of any kind for sick men, the Port was without medicine and perhaps the Brigade was without competent directors and physicians if they had had medicines.

As the measles were sweeping through the regiment and the hospitals filled to overflowing, this point was threatened and Bowling Green menaced and to save our sick from destruction an order came from General Johnston one cold and snowy night for every sick man to be moved to Clarksville - the day was cold and damp and many suffered and many from the effects died....Uncommonly damp and changeable weather brought about pneumonia and as if waiting for an attackable point and a strategic occasion laid hold of our me while they were prostrated with measles and carried them away to the dark chambers of the dead, apparently without an effort. It must too be bourne in mind that in the camps and even in the hospitals we cannot have such care as and such nursing as at home with our dear Mothers....wives, sisters and friends.

Men too, saying nothing about boys, and a majority of them take no care of themselves in camp. They lie down with impunity on wet blankets and damp straw. They eat their food half cooked. They are careless and unconcerned about the cleanliness of their persons or their clothing - they are irregular about their sleep and in fact wholly and unjudiciously ignore all the sanitary and wholesome laws which in their comfortable houses they would not have dared to to disregard.

And in conclusion of the causes of so many deaths let me add that in my own knowledge at least ten in that command were diseased when they left home...In another company were at least eighteen boys whose place was in the school house and whose nurses should have been their mothers. In all the companies were old men who had more patriotism than judgement, more infirmities than prowess. They all should have staid at home and the colony of graves which now rise up on the bosom of Kentucky's soil as one of the dire evils of this war, and the oceans of tears which have fallen from the saddened faces of dear mothers, sisters, wives and daughters all might have been spared.

It may be true, and no doubt is, that our Surgeons, who should have been more physicians, have not been selected with that care and consideration that which ought to have been exercised. I make no excuse for this statement....Let the blame and condemnation fall on those who are justly entitled to have the responsibility of filling important positions by men disqualified either on the account of moral or scientific attainments. The final judgement of a thousand bleeding hearts will fix their righteous verdict upon them when officers and men come home to their own people and are once more on an equality....

J. M. Clough /s/

Khleber M. Van Zandt, Force Without Fanfare:
The Autobiography of Major K. M. Van Zandt (Forth Worth, Texas, 1968), p. 83-85.

Khleber Miller Van Zandt
Khleber Miller van Zandt organized the "Bass Grays" in May 1861, and served as captain of Company D, 7th Texas Infantry, from October 1861 until promoted major in September 1862. He returned home on sick leave in December 1863, but never regained his health.

"Look ahead men, never look back"

Major Khleber M. Van Zandt relates
the death of Lt. Col. Jeremiah Clough.

[Central Mississippi] October 5, 1862.

...He was killed about seven o'clock on Saturday morning the 15th of Feby - while bravely cheering on his troops in a charge which was said by General officers to be worthy of veteran soldiers - and much to the credit and character that this regiment won upon the field of Donelson is due to his coolness and intrepid bravery. He was shot through the brain and never breathed after falling from his horse. I was very near him at the time, but was in advance of him and did not see him when he fell, nor did I know that he was killed until Garl touched me on the shoulder and pointed to him.

I did not mention the fact to any of the boys at the time, fearing lest it may in some way confuse them. The last words he was ever heard to utter were 'Look ahead men, never look back. our mothers, our wives, and our sisters are behind us and our enemies are in front of us.' To Lt. Arch Adams are we all indebted and under many obligations. He went to the body \while the bullets were flying around him like hail and secured his watch, memorandum book, purse, etc. ... it is almost impossible, my dear sister, to give you all the facts connected with his death and describe them as I should like. I may see you before a great while and if so I can give you every circumstance connected herewith.

K. M. Van Zandt /s/

Khleber M. Van Zandt, Force Without Fanfare:
The Autobiography of Major K. M. Van Zandt (Forth Worth, Texas, 1968), p. 89-90.

"The nicest camp I have seen"

Letter from Major Khleber M. Van Zandt.
Port Hudson, Louisiana, April 15, 1863.

....We have been busily fixing our camp within the last few days, and have got it very nicely arranged. In fact we have got the nicest camp I have seen in this army. The only drawback is that we are so near the river, that when there is an engagement with the gunboats, if not on duty, we have to get down under the hill to get out of the way of shot and shell......We are having a good many fish to eat now. The boys are catching a great many, some with hooks but mostly with dip nets. Very early in the morning and late in the evening you can go to the river bank and see as many as fifty nets going....

K. M. Van Zandt /S

Khleber M. Van Zandt, Force Without Fanfare:
The Autobiography of Major K. M. Van Zandt (Forth Worth, Texas, 1968), p. 97-98.

Robert Reid Haynes
Robert Reid Haynes enlisted on May 1, 1861, as a private in the "Bass Grays", which became Company D of the 7th Texas Infantry.

"Sock rations"

Camp at Princeton, KY., Night of Nov. 18th, 1861.

. . . Today Mess No. 4, of ___ Co., had on a pot of beef. S____, a member of the mess, who was off on duty when it was "put on to bile," demanded to know what was in the pot. One of the mess told S. it was clothes. S. ran his hand in his pocket, and pulled out a pair of dirty socks, and as no one was observing him, very quickly proceeded to "bile his socks with the dinner." Imagine the dismay of Mess No. 4, ___ Co., on short rations, when dinner was announced, to find S's socks serviced up with their beef. Imagine the mirth in camp, and the roars of laughter. I merely give this as an illustration of the sources of our mirth, without intending to multiply in kind, in this letter, thereby increasing its length.

However, I may say that tales are told, songs are sung, and strains of "Dixie," Yellow Rose, et id amne genus, fill the air at times, causing us to forget our painful separation from the dear ones at home, and attracting our gaze for the moment from the cloud that impends over our beloved country. . . .

R. R. H.

P. S. I enclose you a scrap of a Lincoln flag hauled down from Marion Courthouse by our scouts. I send you the Texas star which I cut from it myself. You can exhibit it to "our folks."

Letter from the "Bass Grays." [MARSHALL] TEXAS REPUBLICAN, December 7, 1861, p. 1, c. 5


"We drill constantly"

Camp near Hopkinsville, KY., December 5th, 1861.

R. W. Loughery,
Dear Sir:--I wrote you last from the town of Princeton.
You discern we are again in our old camp at Hopkinsville. . . .

I spoke of our regiment as being "masterly inactive." I alluded to our perfecting ourselves in drill. We drill constantly in company and regimental, also skirmish drill, and with commendable proficiency. Genl. [Albert Sidney] Johnston has sent us a drill master; a dutchman named Herscher or Hauser, (pronounced Howser.) he is quite proficient, and under his able instruction our regiment can now perform almost any evolution impromptu. Some of our company drills are amusing. Capt. D. [Jack Davis of Co. E] the other day ordered his men to "right dress." The order was executed, and the line formed by his company looked like the letter S. "Now ain't that a h__l of a line," said Capt. D. "Draw in your bellies," said he. "By Blood you shan't have any more turnip soup for a month, it swells you out so you can't form a straight line." Capt. D. is the most decided original in camp. . . .

The Gregg Regiment is now armed with the Enfield rifle. They are marked on the locks "London," and "Tower," and dated "1861." Where did the War Department get these guns? If my experience entitles me to an opinion, they are the best gun extant. They are very light; the length of heavy muskets; varnished black; provided with bayonet; nipple secured by fixed cover, to keep dry in any weather; rifled sextuple continuous three raised three depressed, stock white hickory; sights for range of nine hundred yards. They shoot with immense force and accuracy. It is needless to say we are delighted with our guns. We parted with our old game guns to the government at a most liberal valuation, but-we-have-not-got-the money yet-the money is said to be ready.
Army Regulations are being enforced all over Kentucky by both belligerents. It is impossible to get along without passports or safe conducts. Provost Marshals are in every town. The system of arrest still prevails, of suspected persons. The Yankees exceed us, however, in having a test oath. The sale of intoxicating beverages is entirely suspended by the military authorities, however a "wee drap" is occasionally smuggled into lines. Several "sly" grocers have happened to have to their mortification to see their "eau de vie" beheaded in the streets. By the soldiers universally, this is considered an insupportable hardship. . .

You will please pardon this trespass on your space and patience. I hope the matters herein contained will not prove uninteresting to you or your readers. Paper, pen and ink, and leisure, and health, are rare commodities to most of us, and difficult to procure. When we do write it is frequently night, our desk is an empty candle box, pen a pencil, our light a scant candle stuck in the muzzle of an inverted bayonet stuck in the ground; our seat the mellow earth, or frozen ground beside it. I hope this candid confession will assure you that the infliction is shared.

Yours, &c.,
R. R. H.

Letter from the "Bass Grays." [MARSHALL] TEXAS REPUBLICAN, December 21, 1861, p. 3, c. 3-4

Charles E. Talley
Charles E. Talley enlisted on May 1, 1861, as a First Lieutenant in the "Bass Grays", which became Company D of the 7th Texas Infantry. He was promoted Captain and commander of Company D in September 1862. He served as acting regimental commander for several periods in the second half of 1863. Talley was captured at the Battle of Franklin and held prisoner until June, 1865.

"The Boys sometimes run the blockade"

Camp Alcorn, Hopkinsville, Ky., Friday night, Jan. 17, 1862.

Friend Loughery:
. . . You would be amused at the different styles of architecture adopted in the building of our homes. Some of them are built in the usual way of building log cabins, others are built of pickets and hooped up like barrels and in some instances, are shaped very much like one; yet they are not barrels, nor do they contain barrels, or anything that is taken from a barrel. Gen. [Charles] Clark entertains a supreme contempt for a barrel, particularly those that have blue heads, and has once or twice taken occasion to empty their contents into the streets. I am somewhat inclined to think that the boys sometimes run the blockade - though it is quite as effectual as Lincoln's - from the looks of two gents who left camp this evening, to haul bricks in a wagon, and returned with a brick in their hats. It is quite a muddy, sloppy day however, which probably accounts for the overplus of bricks. . . .

Many of us are anxiously looking for the arrival of Major Bradfield, for we expect to receive a few little extras, that our wives, mothers, and sisters have promised to send by him. Anything that comes from home is looked for and received with the greatest pleasure imaginable, though it may be no more than a paper of pins, or a sheet of blank paper. Our friends sometimes send us a blank sheet of paper in their letters, to write back to them on, and I can't help thinking it is better than that which we get in this country. While we look forward to the day that will bring Major B., there is another day that many of us begin to look for with some anxiety, and that is pay day. Having been from home some three and a half months, and our purses rather poorly filled at first, we begin to want the day to come. I learn, however, we are to be paid off next week. . . .

Yours truly,
Chas. E. Talley.

Letter from the "Bass Grays." [MARSHALL] TEXAS REPUBLICAN, February 8, 1862, p. 2, c. 3

Stanley M. Warner
Stanley M. Warner enlisted on 1 October 1861, as First Sergeant of the "Johnson Guards", Company C , 7th Texas Infantry. He was captured at Fort Donelson, but escaped after ten weeks and made his way back to Texas. Warner thereafter joined the 22nd Texas Infantry as Second Lieutenant of Company G (under Captain Jack Davis, former commander of Company E of the 7th Texas).

"Condition of the prisoners"

Nacogdoches, Texas, May 1st, 1862.

R. W. Loughery, Esq.

Dear Sir.- Since my arrival at this place, (about a week since) I have received several letters from Marshall, making inquiries respecting the general condition of the prisoners at Chicago, Ill., and specially in regard to individual members of the companies commanded by Captains [Khleber M.]Van Zandt and [William B.] Hill. I have thought best to answer, as far as possible, through the columns of your paper, that the whole community may be placed in possession of such information as I am able to give.

As you are already aware, the 7th Texas, under command of Col. Gregg, at the battle of Fort Donelson occupied "a place in the picture near the flashing of the guns," and our list of killed and wounded itself shows that we were in the hottest of the fight. I will not attempt to enter into a detailed account of that engagement, as that has undoubtedly been already done ere this by some of those who were so fortunate as to make their escape immediately after the surrender.

On Sunday morning, the 16th of February, we were ordered to stack our arms, as we had been surrendered prisoners of war to an overwhelming force. In the evening we embarked on the transports in waiting, and were taken directly to Cairo, where we were transferred to the cars and taken directly to Camp Douglass, about four miles from Chicago, on the lake shore. Comfortable barracks had been already erected, which we took possession of, and in a few days were as comfortable as one could be made in that frigid climate. Blankets were immediately furnished to those who needed them, as also clothing and shoes for those who were deficient. Up to the time that I made my escape (28th of March,) the prisoners were well treated, being very well furnished in clothing, rations, medical attendance, &c. Many of the ladies of Chicago were very kind, visiting the prisoners every day, bringing with them in their carriages large quantities of clothing, delicacies for the sick, as well as substantials for the well.

There were over five hundred sick in the hospitals, when I left, and up to that time about 120 had died. The sickness was principally caused by our exposure in the trenches at Donelson. I think that some ten or twelve had died out of our regiment. At the time of our arrival at Chicago, the weather was extremely cold, but had moderated much when I left, so that the boys could take considerably out door exercise, which was improving their health and spirits considerably.

Before I left, the commissioners from Washington visited the prison, to ascertain who were willing to be released upon taking the oath of allegiance to the Lincoln government. To the credit of Harrison count be it said that each and every one from that section indignantly refused the proposition, and but very few of the regiment entertained the idea for a moment. The most of those who applied for release upon those terms were of the Tennessee regiments. It was all of no use however, for old Abe placed his veto upon any releases on any terms, and gave us distinctly to understand that we were all to be held until the close of the war.

I therefore concluded to take "French leave," and accordingly started one very dark, tempestuous night, after fooling the guard and scaling the walls. The next morning I took the cars for Louisville and there found Southern friends who furnished me with means to proceed on my journey. I passed through Nashville, and by the way of Lewisburg, through to Decater [sic] and thence to Memphis, running the blockade of [General Joseph B. ] Mitchell's army, who were advancing on Huntsville and Decater. I will now answer some inquires which have been made of me relative to members of the Harrison companies.

J. W. Taylor (son of uncle Jo,) was in fine health when I left, as also Mr. Stansbury, one of the Weathersby's. Tom Johnson, both of the _____ brothers, Corp'l Smith, Ben. Scoggin, and the Orderly Sergeants of both companies. There are others whose names I do not now recollect, that I knew very well. I do not remember Hiram G. Austin, Wilson, nor Fyffe, concerning whom inquiry has been made.

I leave here for Tyler to-night and hope to be on my way again to the seat of war in a very short time. Every energy which I possess, mental or physical, is at the service of my country, and I never intend to lay down my arms so long as there is to be found one patriot battling for the rights and freedom of the South. Now is the time for every man to hasten to the field, and strike at least one blow for the salvation of his country. I do not intend to await the exchange of our own gallant regiment, but shall join some already organized company, or else assist in raising one immediately.

With assurances of esteem, I remain,
Your obed't serv't,
S. M. Warner,
O. S., Co. C, 7th Tex. Reg't.

A Letter from Fort Donaldson [sic] Prisoner, Who Recently Escaped. [MARSHALL]

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