August 26, 2011
WRC in the Civil War - Charles Young’s Account of Company B, 85th Ohio Volunteer Infantry - Part 6
The final installment of Young’s account describes the return home after accomplishing the prisoner exchange.
“Our progress northward was very slow; the gunboats could hardly make headway against the current. On the night of the 14-15 we met the second convoy of Confederate prisoners coming down, and Capt. Lazelle left us, turning over the command of the flotilla to me. We were very glad to get rid of him, for he had been anything but agreeable. On the 17th, about six miles above Napoleon, we were fired upon by a secesh picket on the Eastern bank. Their balls did not reach us, but the gunboats shelled them in very lively fashion for about ten minutes, without hurting anybody so far as I could learn. The rascals were in the woods and cleared out very quickly. The next day I received a communication from the Confederate commandant apologizing for this firing on a flag of truce, and promising to punish the offender. On the 18th we met a brigade of Federal troops on their way south. On the 19th we arrived at Helena about noon, turned over the men who were to delivered there, and took on coal enough to take us to Memphis, -all they could spare. Reached Memphis late on the 20th, got rid of the gunboats, landed some men, coaled, and started for Cairo very early on Monday morning where we arrived on Tuesday Sept. 23d in time to discharge the rest of our Federal prisoners, and one or two passengers who had been allowed to come North with us, among them one or two ladies. In the evening we took train at Cairo for Columbus and arrived there on Wed. the 24th. I was so tired and used up after getting through the duties at Cairo that I just curled up on the floor in a corner of the car and slept for nearly twelve hours until we reached Richmond Ind. on the border of Ohio. On the 26th and 27th we were paid off, mustered out, and discharged, and on Monday morning the 29th we started for home. Some of the fellows did not go to Cleveland but went home some nearer way; most of the men however kept with us as far as Cleveland, and scattered from there, not returning to Hudson for a week or ten days. * See Post Script I forget whether we found the College in session, -the catalogue for 1862-3 says ‘First term begins Sept. 18th,’ and perhaps it did so far as the Freshman class was concerned; but Commencement was held in Oct. 15th.
“One amusing thing, - when we first went into camp the boys lost a great many blankets, bayonets, and sometimes guns, stolen by men from the other companies. They vowed they would get even, and they did. When we came to turn over our equipments there was quite a superfluity; the fellows had at least half a dozen extra guns that I knew about, and I imagine some that I had no knowledge of, any number of bayonets, and I don’t know how many duplicate blankets. They had certainly got even with the ‘Egyptians.’
“One thing more: -We were armed at first with old smooth bores, using cartridges loaded with a ball and three buck-shot; a weapon well adapted for Guard-duty. Later, however, we were given Enfield rifles, and for some time we were the only company in the regiment to have them, much to the envy of the rest.
“Well: -you asked for my recollections, and I suspect I have given you more than you know what to do with. Use as much or as little of the material as you like; condense or omit at pleasure.
“Our military service was not very glorious, but I think it was really useful: The boys released for service in the field more than their own number of seasoned soldiers who otherwise would have had to be retained at the camp.
“And I think they saved the College, for very few of them afterwards left the institution, as they would have been likely to do but for their brief experience of soldiering which saved them from the draft in 1863.
“With all best wishes
“P.S. I found this morning a letter of my wife’s which shows that College opened on Sept. 25th and not on the 18th which, as stated in the Catalogue, was the regular date for opening.
“I find also that I was one day wrong as to the date of our arrival at Columbus- it was on the 24th, not 25th. A letter from my wife dated on ‘Wed.’ the 24th & mailed in the forenoon of the 25th, acknowledges a telegram I had sent from Columbus announcing our arrival. - Not a matter of any importance, but may as well be made correct.
Posted by jmt3 at August 26, 2011 12:43 PM
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