The war journal of William H. Mott, reproduced below, covers the period of the War Between the States between February 2, 1862 and an undetermined date in the spring of the same year. An entry in pencil on the title page of the journal bears the date "May 24th 1862." All other entries on this page are in ink, and the handwriting of the pencil entry appers to differ from that of the journal. It seems probable, however, that this date represents the end of the period covered by journal itself. At any rate, the final descriptions and comments have to do with Tuscumbia Alabama, where the author's regiment was encamped after its retreat from Bowling Green, Kentucky, to Nashville; upon the fall of Fort Donelson; from Nashville to Murfreesboro; and thence through the southern part of Tennessee and Northern part of Alabama until it had reached that little city near the Muscle Shoals.
Now in the possession of the great grandson of Major Motts, the journal is well preserved and is easily legible except for a few words here and there. It is in a bound notebook and comprises thirty-three pages, about two thirds of which are written in ink and the remainder in pencil. The title as well internal evidence indicates that the entries were made after the evente described. Since, however, the author died within less than a year after he made the first entry, it seems reasonable to conclude that the scenes recorded were still fresh in his mind.
Although available records do not show the date of Major Mott's birth, he is was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Micawba Mott and descendent of a British soldier who had settled in the area around New York after the American Revolution. Prior to his donning the Confederate uniform, Major Mott owned and edited a newspaper at Alexandria, Tennessee. An undated clipping from an unidentified newspaper,pasted in the fly-leaf of the journal, reads:
We have, also, recieved the first number of the Alexandria Independent, a new paper just started in Alexandria, by W.H.Mott. It is neutral in politics. Mr. Mott is a spicy writer, and will, no doubt, make a paper that will be fully worth the subscription price.
W. H. Mott, at the time he began the journal, was a staff officer in the Twenty-Fourth Regiment, Tennessee Volunteers, CSA. Shortly before June 21, 1862, he was promoted to the rank of adjutant major. He was severely wounded at the Battle of Murfreesboro, was removed to his home, but died as a result of his wounds on January 16, 1863. He was buried in the family graveyard on the farm near Alexandria, TN.
Along with the journal is a letter, written by Major Mott to his wife from Camp Calvert near Tupelo, Mississippi, on June 21, 1862. It is chiefly valuable now for the light it throws on: the attitude of the writer toward the prospects of Southern independence, the attitude of the Confederate soldiers towards the draft law of 1862, and the question of desertions from the army.
Journal of W. H. Mott of Alexandria, TN.
Bowling Green, February 5th 1862
My first experience in the dreary routine of Camp life I experienced at this place. Entering upon this life with the faint idea I had of its trials, privations and general hardships, it was not strange that a slight experience enveloped me in a most profound horror for any kind of fare save the comfortable shelter of my own roof around the cheerful fireside and amid the pleasant associations of Home. Indeed home never didseem to possess so many attractions as a few weeks of winter quarters gave to it. Its memory was made doubly vivid by cold toes and rough boards to sleep upon, with not enough straw upon them for a small party to imbibe mint julips through. But Oh; the very thought of a mint julip was enough to send a cold chill through me causing my very buttons to trimble. Bowling Green is a beautiful place I should judge, although its beauteous days were well nigh spent before it was my misfortune to visit it. Tents in every direction, and mud to any extent the most vivid imagination could portray, had rent it of its former lovliness although its traces were yet left in its splendid location, its regular design, fine houses shade trees etc., etc. It is located in a lovely blue grass basin, or valley surrounded upon every side by gradually sloping bluffs, upon which fortifications were erected that commanded the town and every entrance to it, rendering the defences of the place almost impregnable to any force that might be brought to bear against it. I visited College Hill at the extreme east of the town upon which was built one of the most effective and most strong fortifications of the place. Upon this Hill a splendid College was nearly completed, one that spoke well for the people of Bowling Green, and reflected no discredit to the good commonwealth of Kentucky but upon every side of it there was placed heavy cannon whose visages overlooked the broad plain stretched out before them like huge tigers watching for their prey. Several other prominent fortifications occupy the highest points in the vicinity of Bowling Green, among them Baker's Hill, Vinegar Hill (sour name, atleast it would have proven so to an advancing enemy) and others of lesser magnitude whose importance did not render them sufficient to attach a name. The Fort on College Hill seems to have been the most complete of any and to attract more attention to visitors. It occupied an area of perhaps 20 acres immediately upon the summit of the Hill enclosed by ditches, eight or ten feet in depth, the earth thrown up as a breastwork, and nicely sodded with blue grass; it possesses a commanding view of the country in every direction for a mile and a half, and to the north & northwest perhaps four or five miles of country, fine as ever eye witnessed is presented to the view. In its rear is built a log protection for musketry, about three feet in thickness at the base, and two at the top filled in with small rock with diminutive port holes through which to protrude those messengers of death generally better known as Minnie muskets and Enfield rifles. This was an excellent protection against small arms, but would have proven a dangerous place of safety, against cannon shot.
As a whole Bowling Green would have been considered a strongly fortified point, but reverses in another direction rendered it useless to the Confederate States Army, and thus was all the work and means spent upon its works rendered useless valueless and lost. It never occurred to me that much importance could be attached to the holding of Bowling Green as a stratagetical point unless it was rendered so by the location of the Nashville and Louisville R. Road, as of late armies seem to have great partiality for the vicinity of railroads. We have gotten to be a great people for stupendous undertakings and wars arc conducted with the same grandieur and magnificence of which we boast in our national character. As a step up this ladder of grandeur we are now attempting to cut one another's throats by steam and send leaden missles of death to one another's hearts by the medium of electricity. Oh ! when will the summit of our national go-a-headitiveness cease! Echo: answer when. But a more audible voice whispers in accents not to be mistaken at the termination of this factional & unholy war. After we have wasted our substance of years of honest industy in settling the knoty questions which wire-working politicians have floundered upon, and plunged tile country into a commotion & turmoil. Into a bloody war. After every nerve of industry has been exhausted in the prosecution of this unnatural war, and not enough has been left to move tile great engine of improvement. Then will it cease. It is a gloomy picture which the future presents even at best, and a still more gloomy one to look back upon the brilliant past, laden with so much of promise & hope to the new world. We have now to build up a new fabric from the ruins of the old, which fanaticisim has riddled & torn till the stately old mansion, the temple of our blood purchased liberties has crumbled to atoms and upon its trampled remains are based the elements of a despotism & a Military ruler sits upon the same chair that Washington, Jefferson, & Adams, graced in the earlier and palmier days of the Republic. Is it thus tliat our great government is to emulate the example of previous experiments of Republicanism, crumble & recede to monarchies, or is there a germ that is to put forth like magic upon the stern old rock of Liberty & grow until its spreading branches shade the fair continent of America. I cannot bear even the thought that a tyrant's rule should ever be felt upon the good soil of America that has been fanned so long by the fresh breezes of liberty. I want it all North, South, East, and West to be Republican. If the same government cannot canopy us all let us if separated we must at least revere the recollections of the past, nor prove faithless to that trust, transmitted to us by our Fathers of the Revolution. Then let us swear by our lives our fortunes & our sacred honor that America must & shall be free, and should we fail the goal let us plant it upon the minds of posterity that they may restore what I fear we have lost. But I am leaving afar the thread of my notes and must return to Camp at Bowling Green, to a little ugly six by nine stick and mud shanty. helpeel out by the appellation of winter quarters.
It was an excellent substitute for a house, and upon the top of it was an excellent substitute for a roof. It consisted of several yards of canvas stretehed over four poles which rested upon tlie gables of our palace, in one end a huge fire place with a pot of boiling beef and several lazy fellows lounging upon a contraption on one end of which for comforts sake alone we termed a bed. Indeed it was a bed if you could call a rough board platform such. We had occasionally a straw to lay on if we could succeed in crowding a neighbor off from one. If my recollection serves me right I think there was seven straws to nine men and those were pilfered from a half starved horse that stood near by. Straw is a scarce article at Bowling Green, at least was so at the time of my writing: Notwithstanding the manyfold discomforts of winter quarters this memory is coupled with some more pleasant reflections. Good times were often had and many a jolly spree was taken. which might have hazzarded our security against the guid'arms, those terrible fellows with muskets & bayonets, placed out to enforce Military discipline and carry out the "Army Regulations"'. Night was the time of revelry for our mess, although the "privates" were less privileged and at the tap of the drum, out pops the light & silence reigns; not so oftentimes with myself and jovial comprinions, being more excluded we were of course more privileged, and therefore often "made night's sombre shades" the time for riot & revelry, which no doubt reached the ears of our old Colonel, and I predict, for I have no knowledge certain, that many a harsh expression was elicited upon our heads, that at least would not have sounded parliamentar, at a tea party. It is true however that memory fails fully to record the dark hours of the past; that being true I will no doubt look back with pleasant reflections upon the campaign thru which I am now passing, and forget the hard times through which I have passed.
We were not doomed, however, to endure either the pleasantry or the hardship of Bowling Green life long, for one night after a frolic of the old school sort, came marching Orders. The night was dark and the soldiers had "piled" themselves away as best they could, for the purpose of repose, when a messenger past the guard line in post haste with the melancholy order of "Be ready on the pike, for marching at 8 o'clock in the morning".
8 o'clock in the morning found us at the appointed place, and soon after we were on the tramp in a Southern direction, but to what place was an uncertainty, and the cause of many vague rumors and wild conjectures. It became necessary, from one of those moves of strategy, so studied by Generals called a flank, to evacuate our strong-hold. Altho' many a harsh expression it called forth, yet from the disaster which befell our Southern arms at Ft. Donaldson. it proved to be the movement just made at the nick of time. 'Twas here that my first experience in marching was obtained; an experience which I could have willingly lived a respectful lifetime without gaining. Our first march although somewhat exciting in the detail, was tiresome in the extreme, and when the shades of evening came, and we turned into an old field for the night, an easy bed [?] was found upon any spot sufficiently large to allow the full length of a 5 feet II man to stretch himself in a horizontal position. Morning came and with it a heavy fall of snow,s which rendered our quarters any thing else but comfortable. The bleak winds blew as keen and as biting as any Northern breath that ever fanned a Greenlander's temples. But on we marched as soon as the snow could be shook from our tents and frozen garments, and wagons headed over the frozen ground white with snow and rough with ice. A tiresome march we had and a cold bed to sleep upon that night, but the next day, the 15th day of February the sun shone out and soon the white coating that covered terra-firma vanished and left in its stead mud to any extent, through which we trudged the balance of the route to Nashville. We received the news of both victory and defeat at Donaldson, but not obtaining any correct information until we had marched all day on the 17th and were within about 6 or 7 miles of Nashville, it became necessay to protract our march and with weiry footstcps. we trudged our way along arriving at Nashville after dark, having marched 30 miles through mud and rain. The question was settled here for marching was "played out" and the 24th Reg't might be said to be dito [sic]. If a mile further was to have heen traveled we could not possibly have made the landing. On reaching Nashville the wildest excitement prevailed, Gunboats were looked for everv moment. and several citizens had commenced to take in their chimneys fearing that the city would soon be shelled.
The mass of soldiers and army wagons that had jamed [sic] up at the suspension bridge, rendered it Impossible to get across until our turn came. I left my Reg't to look for quarters or a place to rest for a time at least. Not being able to get a feather bed on the north side of the river I contented myself with a bed at the side of the road where the mud was about the consistency of Mush, and made a very soft but not a very warm or comfortable bed. Here I soon fell into the arms of Morpheus, and rested as quietly as I would would under ordinary circumstances in a comfortable couch.
I was not doomed to ease long. for some fellow (name not known) caught me by the arm and after several jerks and pulls and halloos I waked and after asking the very pertinent question of 'whats the matter" was informed that I had better get out of that as soon as possible, that the wagons would run over me if I delayed. Darn [?] the wagons, yawned I, What's the news? "The worst in the world sir. Buel's army is within seven miles and the gun boats expected every minute. Such was the terror sent to the hearts of both our citizens and soldiers at the very idea of the presence of gunboats, that a universal stampede was almost a natural consequence, whenever a smoke ascended in the vicinity of the bend below Nashville. We learn that one company of men from some of the back counties who had not seen the elephant or the gunboats either took fright at a steam saw mill several miles from the river and never stopped to catch their breath for about two miles. Alas poor Nashville, the grand depot of wholesale speculation and swindling, her days were numbered for awhile at least, for the Fed's as the boys call them were certain to be before her walls ere the lapse of many days, and the overwhelming force of Army at Bowling Green variously estimated from 75 to 125,000 men, had dwindled to a mere division or two, numbering not more than eight or ten thousand. To attemp to hold the city with this small force was next [to] absurdity, and long ere it was the case it was reported that Nashville was to be surrendered without the firing of a gun. Universal dissatisfaction was the consequence among the ranks, and many left without Ieave or license and their names have since been stricken from the rolls, they known by the disgraceful appellation of deserters. The surrendering of Nashville was a death blow to the valor of Tennesseans, they felt that everything was yielded which they held dear, for the city was the pride of every Tennessean.
I never shall forget the advent of the little Southern army into Nashville on the night of Sunday February 16th at 7 o'clock P.M. A drizzling rain had rendered the aspect of affairs even more gloomy than the circumstances of the occasion. I was not long in obtaining a verbal permit, in an audible whisper, from the Colonel, to visit my brother-in-law, where comfortable quarters were awaiting me and something nice to eat too, upon which I dealt some heavy epicurean blows, in short meter time. I had eaten nothing since the day previous, and then a very meagre meal of half cooked victuals. Biscuits without soda or lard and meat broiled upon embers, with a little Rye, parched and boiled, vulgarly termed coffee, constituted our fare upon the march, and to get once more where people lived and good cooks predominated seemed like emerging from a second Kane's polar expedition. The feather bed that I slept on that night was so great a contrast to what I had been used to, that I could not sleep, so I rolled off on the floor, wrapped myself up in a quilt or two and slept soundly; I would probably have been sleeping there still, had I not been aroused by the heavy firing of cannon, and the whistle [of) cannon ball just over the house, which brought me to a sudden realization of the state of affairs in that vicinity. My first impression was that the Gunboats had arrived and were shelling the city for that was the universal expectation when I left the knowing circles the night before. I was soon relieved from this painful state of belief by the information that no Fed's had arrived, and that the firing eminated from Ft. Zollicoffer, a mile below the city their guns having stood out in the rain all night. Agreeable to promise I ate a hasty breakfast and returned to my command, the rain and sleet coming down at a slow but steady rate.
I found the Reg't mainly drawn up before the city hotel, in heterogenous conglomeration, or in other words the most of the men were standing about loose, and the balance scattered over the city promiscuously. Of all gloomy pictures that I ever witnessed, the one presented on that morning wore the palm, the streets and walk were a complete jam of citizens & soldiers, with downcast looks, and muddy clothes. Stores were closed, people were vacating fine houses leaving their contents within to the charge of a feeble door-lock and looking for places of safety amid the obscurities of the country. Large amounts of government stores were being distributed to the people, both provisions & wearing apparel1 and large amounts of both were being stolen and taken off through the back allies [sic] of the city. Men women & children were engaged in this wholesale plundering of the government property, and for a while government opperatives [sic] were so panic stricken or at least so to all appearances. that little or no resistance was offered to these theiving opperations [sic]. It was soon apparent however that there could be transportation afforded for these stores and efforts were put forth to save them; Nashville had been the depot of the Western Department, and therefore was the storehouse of an immense quantity of Government stores most of these had been removed prior to this and were in consequence out of danger.
The patriotism of the ladies of Nashville, since our reverses was, even amid this grand scene of confusion and dejectedness, still manifested and a degree of confidence exhibited that the picture before them was in no way calculated to inspire. Their white handkerchiefs were waving in the air, from every window beneath which our brave soldiers walked. Never daunted, their light spirits gave even more strength to the strong arms & brave hearts that were nerved to repel the invader of our hearthstones, & many a cheer rose from the motley throng of rebels to the ladies. The ladies of Nashville have since become proverbial for their patriotism exhibited even in the very presence of the enemy who occupy the city.
At about 10 o/c AM on the morning of the 1--th we received our "forward march" and were on the move in short order in the direction of Murfreesboro, at which place rumor said we were to make a stand. About two miles from Nashville 'we were again ordered to halt & turning into a field pitched our tents built our fires and were soon engaged in getting dinner. News then reached us that a council of war was being held at Nashville by Gen'ls Johnson, Pillow, Floyd, Hardee and several prominent citizens as to the propriety of making a fight at Nashville at all hazzards, rumor, too, sent a dispatch from President Davis stating that if the place could be held 48 hours he would have seventy-five thousand troops at that place, and with that number we could successfully reoccupy the city and hold it against almost any force which the enemy might bring against it. This rumor sent a thrill of joy to the hearts of the Tennessee troops. and every man seemed anxious that the enemy should present himself. no matter how soon. The troops would have fought with desperation had the opportunity been afforded them of meeting the Feds. at Nashville. Woe unto Lincolns hordes had they made their appearance at Nashville at this time. Double our numbers would have been dealt such a defeat as only men fighting for all they hold dear and almost driven to desperation could have administered.
The war consultation was ended and the result announced the evacuation of Nashville. This information was chilling to the valorous heart that had but just determined to live or die by Nashville, and it was with some difficulty that the men & inferior officers could be restrained from breaking over the orders of Generals and taking the fight into their own hands for weal or woe. The vote was taken in our Reg't and was unanimous in favor of standing by our gallant Colonel in the defence of the city. Persuasive arguments were brought to bear and all unwillingly, however succumbed to the better dietation of Generals, whose judgement at least ought to lie the best in such matters as the one in question. Order restored on the following morning we took up our march again in the direction of Murfreesboro, believing generally that that was to be the stand point where a bloody battle would be fought.
I got permission to go back to the city on some business, and beheld the most desolate place I think that ever existed: beautiful ladies that I saw at every window had either deserted the doomed city or secreted themselves from the view of passers by. Soldiers and citizens seemed to have emulated their example and scarcely a living moving being was to be seen, not even a dog, in once busy. bustling, thriving Nashville. On entering one or two establishment, which I gained admittance to by a back door, I found all sorts of faces & heard all sorts of speeches emanate from the lips of die terrified, half terrified and the panic stricken. I received advice from one or two gentlemen of timid nerves which under some circumstances would have been considered valuable, circumstances which would have rendered it valuable however to me would have rendered it unnecessary for I should have hardly waited advice to take to the nearest place of safety had I imagined there was any reaI danger of the very close proximity of Yankee gunboats or Federal soldiery. Thanks to my well strung nerves, the excitement of those around seemed only to make them look ridiculous, and excite within me mirth rather than horror or fear.
Failing completely to find any one that I wished to see, I could only allow my little business to go undone and so set out in the evening to overtake my Regiment. Being on foot I made slow progress at first, but finding that the government was pressing all the teams wagons buggies, and milk carts, in fact anything drawn by a horse, I resorted to the same plan with admirable results. So with a little of "moral suasion" I suceeded in overcoming the stubbornness of a dutchman in possession of a little one horse wagon without any body upon it so he turned around & carried me several miles until I heard of the whereabouts of my command, when I informed the fellow that the government didn't need his services any longer, and left him. Whether or not he saw the joke I am unable to tell. He seemed so pleased with the idea of being loose again that he manifested no symptoms of my sort but gratitude, the same commodity that my heart was overflowing with just at that particular time.
A short walk brought me up with the boys again, snuggly encamped at the road side and supper just ready to appease my unsatiabel appetite. We retired that night as we were wont to do, but in the morning I arose by no means as I had been in the habit of doing; for about daybreak or just before a most violent rain fell upon us and as we had neglected digging a ditch around our tent to protect it from the water, a perfect flood poured in and when I reluctantly awoke, the water was washing under and almost over me in suficiently strong force to have carried a moderate sized Grist mill. The rain continued nearly all day, but did not materiaIly impede our march, for we trudged along like an extensive army of drowning rats nearly froze. I think I am safe in saying that there was not a dry thread in our Brigade all day. We made a halt at Laverne that night and pressed in quarters in the various shops, stables and log houses about the place, and slept I might say comfortable in comparison with the fare we were compelled to have about that time. Day dawned and we again set forth with buoyant hearts to reach the supposed place of our destination, where we arrived without meeting anything out of the regular order worthy of note, at about 4 o/c that PM.
On reaching a large stream west of Murfreesboro we were pretty well assured that Murfreesboro was to be the next battle ground for upon the opposite bank were planted several guns of tolerable calibre commanding the stream, and fortified by cotton Bales. This defense was magnifleent in the extreme, and terribly secure against the attack of gunboats or siege by land, neither of which was at all possible or in any wise probable. Considerable mirth was the result of this hastily constructed cover to our retreat. I have never been able to fully understand the object of this fortification unless it was intended by the wiley canoneers as a good joke. We were glad enough to pitch our tents at Murfreesboro once more for marching was getting below par and not relished very greatly by our troops. Five months previous our Regiment and received marching orders from this very place, and took posession of Bowling Green. Camp Anderson was but about a mile from where we were now located. the old Camp of instruction for the troops just into service; and where our boys first learned to mark time, and serve on extra. Crittenden's division here joined our army and also the troops under Floyd & Pillow which had escaped from Ft. Donaldson. Our numbers seemed to [be] greatly swelled by these acquisitions and the rumors of others, and the boys began again to regain their confidence and wish only to get a brush with the Yankees. The weather was pleasant at intervals for a day or two, and so taking advantage of the few hours of sunshine, we succeeded in drying our clothing and arranging matters with some show of comfort. When all these preparations had been completed, I obtained by close perseverance a verbal leave of absence, and set out on the morning of the 21st for home. The sky had again assumed its usual muddy frowning look and as I started the rain commenced to descend pretty copiously.
About 11 0/C that P.M. I arrived once more at home and met those dear kind souls whose images had been my constant companion ever since I had put on the garb of a soldier. The past and the future was for the time stayed at home completely buried in the present. Old associations were vivid and adversity seemed doomed to the shades of the bygones. Dining out and visiting round was the programme for about a week, when it became necessary to again partake of the comforts of camp, and the hospitality of President Davis' Arny tables. I started again to rejoin my reg't which had since my absence taken up its line of march in a Southern direction leaving Murfreesboro, the supposed place for a stand to the mercy of the Federals who soon after the evacuation entered and occupied the town. I was compelled to pursue a round about course, to avoid the enemy which by this time had gotten between me & my command. I accordingly with several others, took around by McMIinnville and having plenty of sport upon the route over took the Army encamped at Shelbyville.
I remember with good feelings the kind hospitality of one Mr. Robertson, with whom we stopped overnight; living some fifteen or twenty miles from Murfreesboro. Mr. Robertson was a refugee from Nashville and came to his country seat, where he entertained us as finely as we could possibly have wished for. He is a true Southern man and deeply elicited in the Southern cause. We had our own fun with several of the not overly intelligent citizens as we passed over the route. A party of some twenty on horseback composed our march of fellows whom we had overtaken, and who had overtaken us, all well mounted and tollerably well armed and equipped.
Several times we passed ourselves for the advance scouts of Buel's Army in search of the Confederates, which brought us in contact with several cowardly fellows who thinking that they had fallen into the hands of tbe Federals avowed themselves to have been the best of Union men. We took several prisoners on the route, but upon administering the oath of Southern allegiance we turned them loose and proceeded on our journey until we wished something unusual. The advent of an army is as a general thing to be dreaded by any people or any country, for wholesale destruction is sure to follow in its wake. The mere passing through of an army renders a country almost worthless for at least one or two years, for recovery in less time than that is almost impossible. Fences are burned and torn down to improve the roads, that the immense trains of Army wagons may pass. Soldiers are sure to use the best materials to cook with that comes in their way, therefore fences suffer materially in the vicinity of an army.
On the [date left blank] we again resumed our march and encountered nothing worthy of note, save the worst of roads, until we reached Huntsville, Ala. on the (date left blank].
Huntsville is a pretty town, and surrounded by lovely country; High & rolling, and very fertile, it presents a beautiful view. The vicinity is thickly settled and well cultivated and cleared. There is a great deal of wealth in and about the town, and the people have the character far & wide of being the most aristocratic people anywhere to be found. The place is well built up with fine buildings and all adorned with fine gardens & various other improvements which go to make up the beauty of the place. It contains about 4 or 5 thousand inhabitants.
The army tarried at Huntsville several days to recover stock & allow the men to recrut up after a long and weary march.
At Huntsville the troops were furnished with transportation on the Cars, a change of programme that was considered pleasant in the extreme after a fatigue march of two hundred or [more] miles. Having a horse I travelled through on the road in company with several others, of the Regimental Staff. We found the roads worse than I thought roads ever got to be. It had rained almost constant for several weeks and as the country was very undulating, we found that every piece of low ground was covered with was water to an extent that it almost swam our horses at every crossing. The country from Huntsville through to Tuscumbia is a gradual descent, and swampy most of the distance. We had a weary ride, met several liberal hearted and hospitible people, and a great many of the other sort.
To get accommodations was almost an impossibility either because those with whom we requested to stay were tinged a little with Unionism or that they were otherwise naturally inclined to be stuck up and ungenerous or accommodating. Those however that were upon the other hand were quite the other extreme, and treated us with marked attention, and refused any recompense whatever for this trouble in our behalf. I remember with the kindest feeling one Judge Lewis living near the station some 40 miles from Huntsville. The Judge was of a grave but generous nature with a beart burning with zeal for the Southern cause. He had been a member of the Provisional Congress As a general thing, or at least every day, we were forced to commence trying to get a place for lodging for the night about 12 o/c and generally at near or after dark we would fall upon some place of comfort and put up for the night. As to the people of Alabama generally I cannot speak. but presume they are as kind as other folks of other states; But for the country through which I passed I found them unlike our old Tennessee people in point of hospitality towards the soldiers who were out in the tented field suffering the severity of a winter campaign, having laid their lives upon the alter of their country, for tbe defense of those at home as well as for themselves. It seems natural that soldiers at least such as behave themselves should receive the warmest sympathies from the citizens. As to the patriotism of Alabama there cannot be tile slightest reflection cast. She had a full quota of troops in the field who have fought valorous upon every battle field, and won for their State the highest honors.
I readied Decatur, the probable haven of rest as I supposed on (date left blank) just in time to see the last of my reg't getting on the cars, enroute for Corinth, Miss.
I arrived at Tuscumbia on the (date left blank) and found my command snugly arranging matters for what appeared to be a lengthy respite from our toils & tires of travel. I was glad enough to get back or rather get up with the boys once more, and found them glad [to) meet us, in return. Our encampment was pleasantly located upon an elevated piece of ground airy & healthy but water inconvenient and not very plenty. We found the country not so swampy in the neighborhood of Tuscumbia as that through which we had been traveling for a few days. Tuscumbia rates very well with other towns of its dimensions. It is a very pretty place of about 3,000 population built up with neat plain houses but nothing gaudy or extravagant is discernable in its architecture. [End of Journal)
Letter of Wm. H. Mott to his Wife
Hd. Qrs. 24th Regt. Tenn. Vols. Camp Calvert Near Tupelo Miss June 21st
. . .Another opportunity affords itself to drop a few lines which I improve as usual. You have no doubt by this time given up all hopes of the advent of the Southern Army in Tennessee. The picture looks dark from the view you obtain of it of course, and I might say dark from any view that can be taken as to the present to future of Tennessee for a while at least Upon that subject I have but few words to say and those few are not to despair. Our indepcndence is as certain to be accomplished as the morrow is certain to dawn. Let the timid cowards of Tennessee bend to the yoke of Lincoln, and bow the knee of submission to Andy Johnson, and quietly submit and cry we are subjugated like Neil S. Brown, still there are stout hearts and willing hand, enough without theirs to drive back the invaders of our homes and redeem the honor of Tennessee. Tell Father to be prudent but not to lose confidence till our arms have fallen and we the soldiers of the South have yielded to the supremacy of the Federal arms. Our prospects are better of success than ever and the army of Lincolndom will fall of its own weight ere the, lapse of many more months; therefore bear up awhile longer, and then all will be right. Although I could probably get home, my heart will not allow me to leave those who I have joined destinies with in this what appears to be the dark hour of our country. Since you heard from me I have been promoted to the position of Adjutant Major temporarily, but have reason to feel that it will be permanent. So I can from this boast of a handle to my name. But title or distinction should not be the land mark of any at this time. Our homes our families our all call for the fortitude of our natures to be tested for the maintenance of our natural rights and the presesance of our sacred homes, from subjuglajtion. We have not given up by any means and hope never will until every possible effort has been exhausted in the securing of our Nationality. I am willing to do my part until the last, and only when that has been done will I consent to submit and bow before the throne of Abolitionism; no! I never will do that, although I should be driven back at the bayonet point into the Union. Union I love that name: it is an element of Heaven. but I hate the term when applied to the States of America thrust together by force of arms, discordant and beligerent and termed the Union. It was once but is no more.
. . .I have left from what I intended to write and run off into a long lingo about the war, but will try & return. I hardly know what to write about beside it however, for I know of nothing else. It seems like a century since I heard from my darling wife or from any of those dear ones at home. I expected when last I wrote to be able to start for Tennessee in a few days from this time. but I am sure that it would be by no means a safe place for me to be at, and I therefore wait & bide my time. I have no fondness for the dungeon's of Camp Chase or Douglas, or the confines of any other Northern prison, which if I went home, I most probably would have to share or else take the oath of allegiance, which I have no notion of doing at present . This war cannot last long, at best, and the time cannot be a great while ere I will he able to return in safety. I am willing to try therefore and content myself for the present and trudge a long. and request you to do the same with patience, & when I come I will bring you a nice present when I come worth having. I have already got it expressly for you. I suppose you have one for me equally as nice one that I would almost venture the wrath of Yankees to get a peep at but cannot for the present We are stationed here at Tupelo Miss, about 40 miles from Corinth but will move from here in a few days but to where is not known, we only can surmise as to that part. Give Father my love & Polly and all the balance, & don't forget to give love to Ellen & Jessee & the Drs. Tell Dr. Everett that I have quit "looting an old brats-horn," and Dr Sneed, that I will be ready to have another seven-up party with him before many months. I am well as usual but am poor as a crow. I have fallen off 20 or 25 lbs since I came into the service, yet my health keeps good. Take good care of yourself and "the baby" if there is one, and tell all to do so for my sake, kiss all for me and reserve 1000000 for your own dear self. Goodbye for the present affectionate husband.
The following was written across the lines on the front page of the letter:
. . . I have said nothing about the desertions in our Regiment, which of late has become quite popular among the cowardly devils that are in the Army. I am sorry to say that Tennesseans are the only ones that are leaving in that disgraceful manner: yet I am glad that no more are willing to disgrace themselves and their states by such acts. I do not think they go because they want to renounce the Confederacy as the Federals would like to believe. The conscript law altho having done a great deal of good has likewise done a great deal of harm, causing many to desert who perhaps would have acted otherwise had it not been for the act. An idea exists in the army to some extent that the soldiers are the mere cat's paw of the wealtlIy, and ignured by them as men and equals this idea is talked over very materially among the more ignorant. A large majority of the troops would have reenlisted had they been given the opportunity whom the conscript has sent home crying that they are free men and unwilling to be forced into measures of any kind without their consent at least. The boys are well as a general thing I believe. The health of the army is very much improved since we left Corinth. We have better health in the Regiment than for some time past.
The following was written across the lines on the back page of the letter:
. . .(Name torn from sheet) is again under arrest and in prison at Columbus. I do not know what the charges are against him, but reports say they are very grave. Some have fears as to the result of his trial. Report says that he is under a strong guard Do not say much about it so that his folks can hear it for it would mortify them very much to hear it. I advise you to say nothing of it at all out of the family or where it can get out.
Taken from the Tennessee Historical Quarterly
Volume V September, 1946 Number 3