Reminiscences of the Boys in Gray, 1861-1865. 615
1861, as First Lieutenant in Company E, First Tennessee Cavalry, Gen.
Franklin C. Armstrong's Brigade. Army of Tennessee. First Captain
was John B. Hamilton and first Colonel was James Wheeler. Was captured
Jan. 3, 1864, and put in the Nashville penitentiary and then sent to Camp
Chase, Ohio, thence to Fort Delaware and then on the 17th of August,
1864, I was one of the immortal 600 officers sent to Morris' Island and as
a matter of retaliation were put under the fire of Confederate Batteries,
where for forty-two days we remained under fire of our own guns. We
were transported on a filthy cattle ship, and four men were allowed a space
4x6 feet. We were nineteen days on this floating purgatory before landing
on Morris' Island. Our rations on Morris' Island was ten ounces of rotten
corn meal and one pint of salt pickle per day. We were accorded the most
brutal treatment ever received by prisoners of war and the death rate was
very heavy till January, 1865. After the battle of Shiloh when the army
was reorganized I was unanimously elected Captain of Company E, First
Tennessee Cavalry. Was in the battles of Shiloh, Corinth, Holly Springs,
Thompson's Station, Brentwood, Chickamauga, Knoxville, London, and all
the small engagements fought by Gens. Armstrong, Van Dorn and Forrest.
J. M. POLK, Austin, Texas. Enlisted in the Confederate Army at Corsicana,
Texas, in July, 1861, as a private in Capt. C. M. Winkler's Company.
President Davis had called upon the Governor of Texas for twenty companies
of Infantry to go to Virginia, and I was selected by the company to go
to Austin and have this company received in which I succeeded. On the
19th we started for Houston and were mustered in at Harrisburg the following
August. From there we proceeded to New Orleans via Beaumont,
Niblett's Bluff and New Iberia, La. We reached Richmond, Va., without
much delay. I had the measles; had a relapse and developed a case of
typhoid pneumonia, and my fate was uncertain for about six weeks. Mrs.
Oliver, a citizen of Richmond, had me moved to her house and by close attention,
managed to pull me through.
Capt. Winkler, Tom Morris and I were sent back to Texas for recruits.
I recall meeting Gen. Sam Houston in the barber shop of the Fannin House
in Houston. It was in April, 1862. He was on crutches, dressed in a long,
loose sack coat, broad brimmed hat, coonskin vest and wore the largest gold
ring I ever saw on a man's finger. He looked at me a few minutes and
said: "Well, young man, I suppose that you are off for the war?" "Yes,
sir," I answered. "Well," said he, "I am too old now to be of any service
to my country. Texas people refused to take my counsel. I can do them no
good, and God knows that I do not wish to do them any harm. But I do
not think our cause will justify the loss of so much life and property. It's
American against American. But if I was young and able to do anything,
and they refused to go my way, I might go with them." We reached the
army in Virginia in May, just before the battle of Seven Pines, which was
my first introduction, and gave me my first impression of the horrors of
war, of which no man can form any idea of them unless he has been in
one and took part in it.
Heavy rains had put all the creeks up and thus cut off part of the Federal
army from the main body, but the part cut off was more than we
could handle conveniently. We found them fortified, breastworks thrown
up, with heavy guns mounted and in front of this abattis work, that is,
trees were cut down, limbs and tops were sharpened and turned towards
us and most of the hard fighting was loss on both sides was caused by the
Confederates attempting to flank this position. From some reason those
heavy guns were not used. After the battle of Seven Pines, our next move
Yeary, Mamie. Reminiscences of the boys in gray, 1861-1865 / compiled by Mamie Yeary.. Dallas, Tex.. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth29786/. Accessed April 19, 2014.