Letters from the front
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
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
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/
M. Van Zandt, Force Without Fanfare:
The Autobiography of Major K. M. Van Zandt (Forth Worth, Texas,
1968), p. 83-85.
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
K. M. Van Zandt /s/
Khleber M. Van Zandt, Force
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
K. M. Van Zandt /S
Khleber M. Van Zandt, Force Without
The Autobiography of Major K. M. Van Zandt (Forth Worth, Texas,
1968), p. 97-98.
Robert Reid Haynes enlisted on May 1, 1861, as a private in the
"Bass Grays", which became Company D of the 7th Texas
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,
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
R. R. H.
Letter from the "Bass
Grays." [MARSHALL] TEXAS REPUBLICAN, December 21, 1861,
p. 3, c. 3-4
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.
. . . 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. . . .
Chas. E. Talley.
Letter from the "Bass Grays."
[MARSHALL] TEXAS REPUBLICAN, February 8, 1862, p. 2, c. 3
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
"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
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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