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Co. A, 31 Mich. Vol.

Co. A, 31 Mich. Vol. image
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On train en route to Chickamauga. Chattanooga, Tenn., Tuesday, May 17, 1898. The boy was right, and we were again royally serenaded when our train pulled out of Cincinnati at 5 o'clock. The Q. & C. crossed the lower bridge, so we entered the land of "Dixie" at Ludlow, a little town half a mile below Covington. For a time the track follows the course of the Ohio river. The country is rougher than any we have yet traversed. Just beyond Ludlow, f rom a high eminence, one can look back and see the beautifully wooded bluffs which rise to a height of several hundred feet along the Cincinnati side. Our train now darted hither and thither, over high trellises bridging deep valleys, mountainous ravines tumbling over limestone slabs, through a country indisputably more grand and majestic than the mountainous región oL southern Ohio. A distinct change of climate was to be noticed here, wild roses were abundant, trees were fully leaved out, and the vegetation in general presented the appearance of a Michigan day in early June. At Erlanger, we ran parallel for some distance with the Licking river, a tributary of the Ohio. While we were here Roy Hudson, a U. of M. boy, with Company G, famous in Ann Arbor as a member of the Dowdinger club, tried his riding skill on the back of a Kentucky thoroughbred, and nearly lost his train before he could stop the norse sufficierit to turn and gallop back. Company A got off the train at Bracht, for setting up exercises. One thing of interest to wheelmen may be said of Kentucky. The roads, so far as I have been able to observe, where not too steep, are elegant. In many places crushed stone has been used, thus making the roads as good as macadam. Another curious fact which I observed in the northern part of the state is hot-beds, vhere the young tobáceo plants are grown from the seed, previous to transplanting. These beds take all sorts of shapes, and are to be four.d in the most unexpected places - along the roadside, and upon the railroad banks. The great tobáceo section of the state, however, is in the southern part, in the vicinity of Paris. At 10 o'clock we reached Lexington, where we were served supper. This was the flrst real Southern town of any size that we had come across, and it was a town in which we were royally received. Kentucky militia boys, dressed in gray, with old-fashioned military caps, cheered lustily. Our boys sang and shouted until their voices failed them. I struck up a conversation with a typical Southerner, whose politeness bordered on palaver, part of which I will report: "How large a place is Lexington?" "Waal, I reckon it's nigh onto thirty miles around." "Is it a pretty city?" "Ah! yaas, mighty pert! Have a chaw?" and he whipped out a long black twist of home-grown. I politely refused, and with a rather disappointed look he turned away. It may be remarked parenthetically that all Southern gentlemen chew tobáceo, and seem to regard with contempt those who do not. It was late when we left Lexington, a drizzling rain had set in with the coming of darkness, and we missed seeing the many beautiful sights of southern Kentucky and northern Tennessee, including the High Bridge, the scène of the battle of King's Mountain, and the famous blue grass región - one of the garden spots of the world. We passed through 28 tunnels before reaching Chattanooga. Most of the boys woke up early enough to see some of the mountain g-orges and majestic scenery. Saw, stave, and iron ore milis were to be noticed here and there, but the country is perfectly barren of agricultural resourcey. From Oakdale on to Chattanooga, we followed the gap of the Lower Cumberland and Blue Ridge mountdins. The foothills of the Cumberland range are particularly beautiful. They are about a thousand feet high, and form a solid barrler along the railroad line for as mueh as GO miles. Just before entering the city, vje crossed the Tennesiee river and passed through a gap of the Missionary Ridge range. At 10 o'clock we arrived at Chattanooga, where we remained for a few hours. I had abundant opportunity for viewing the city and surroundings, and perhaps a brief pen picture of the historie old place will prove of interest. Visitors to the Mountain City - as it is called, because situated in a deep basin surrounded on all sides by mountains - can secure a fine bird's-eye view of the city and surroundings from a tower on the seventh story of the Times building. Directly to the southwest is famous Lookout mountain, rising to a height of 2,300 feet, and towering high above all the others. This mountain, as seen from the city, presents the appearance of the upturned keel of a yacht. Two inclined railways mount to the summit, where the government has founded a beautiful park. On the west towers the Raccoon mountain, near which is Signal mountain, socalled from the signalling carried on there during the battles fought around the city. On ,the east of the city, extending for about seven miles, is Missionary Ridge. Orchard Knob, Grant's headquarters during the battle, is in the foreground, and two miles beyond, on the summit of the Ridge, is a tower marking the site of Bragg's headquarters on the day of the famous battle, fought November 15, 1863. A cedar tree marks the exact site of Bragg's position. To the left Is the part of the ridge scaled by Sherman, now known as Sherman Heights. The Ridge is covered wit a monuments and descriptive tablets. To a student of this batdone, though it is said blood actually flowed in rills down the ravine. The Confederates explain their defeat by saying that on account of the steep ascent they were unable to train their artillery to the best effect, and shot over the "Union troops. Another factor was Hooker's unexpected appearance tle, it seems almost ineredible how the Union armies scaled the heights. It is said that the attack was made in three divisions, all along the Ridge. Sherman captured the left, and Grant sent two corps to scale the Ridge, with Bragg's headquarters as the objective point. They advanced steadily througli a ravine or road, in the face of a flerce flre from the Confederates. It seems almost impossible for a man to scale the mountain at all, but it was on the other side of the ridge, when both Grant and Bragg thougnt hirn eight miles away on Lookout Mountain. A great national cemetery near the center of the city contalns the early remains of those who feil. In my next letter I shall attempt to describe our trip to Chickamauga park, and the quarters assigned to us. F. A. WAGNER. Company A, Thirty-first Infantry Michigan Volunteers, First Brigade, Second División, First Army Corps, Department of the Gulf, Camp George H. Thomas, Chickamauga Park, Ga. Sunday, May 22, 1898. "A marble sentry scans the field, And grizzly cannon frown Wh?re dusty regiments once wheeled, And shot and shell rained down." Thus the poet sings of the historical old battle ground of Chickamauga, where Company A and some fifty thousand other volunteers expect to make their home for the next few months. Perhaps no fitter spot, and certainly no more beautiful one could be found anywhere in the United States. Our regiment is parycularly fortúnate in the matter of elevation, shade, water, drainage and bathing facilities. We are tented in an oak grove, on the famous Brotherton Road, in the vicinity of Jay's Sawmill, one-half mile from Chickamauga river, on the very spot, where, thirty-five years ago next September, Forest's cavalry corps and Polk's artillery drove the Union soldiers over the hills and ravine to Kelly Field. Old steel and brass cannon are mounted here and there, the grounds are strewn with shot and shell, and the very hills seem to reverberate the echo of the mighty 'battle begun here on the morning of the 19th of September, 1863. Tablets and monuments recount the deeds of the stalwart Union soldiers, and the equally brave Confederates. The irony of fate, or, perhaps, the wise providence of a higher Power, has brought together as friends in peace with each other, the sons of those who fought as bitter enemies. This war seems to have completely effaced the last traces of sectionalism, and today the North and the South jóïn hands. United they stand; united, f need be, they fall. A road, but no barriers, divides the camp of Michigan from that of Virginia. They are nolonger "rebs" to us, but comrades in a common cause, and, though they are uncouth in appearance, and are guilty of many provincialisms in speech, they possess the souls of true men, and the courage that becomes the defenders of a mighty nation. In ordinary camp parleyance, they are a "husky" lot of fellows. They plod along barefooted through the gravel and oak grubs, live on bacon, beans and hard tack without a grumble, and stand the heat with, wonderful equanimity. But I am digressing from my main purpose, to teil you the news of Company A. We left Chattanooga at 1 o'clock Tuesday afternoon - that is, those of us who did not become strayed or lost in the mazes of the Mountain City's hotels and restaurants in search of a bath and a square meal - and, after a ride of two hours, at the rate of six miles an hour, arrived at Chickamauga Station, or Lytle, as it is more commonly called in honor of a Union general. The Thirty-first then assembied on Lytle HUI, within sight of the terrible "Bloody Pond," and, carrying all their baggage on their backs, marched through the heat and dust east by north for nearly three miles, along the Brotherton Road, to a position on the east center of the Chickamauga battlefield. There the ' boys bivouacked for the night in true army style, sleeping on the ground, with rubber blanket under, army blanket and overcoat over, and haversack for pillow. Hard tack and black coffee made up the fare that night, but it tasted good; and the boys did not murmur, for they were too tired to long for the dainties of a meal at home, or even for a brick of the customary hash served at an Ann Arbor boardinghouse. Not a cloud obscured the stars, and not a drop of dew feil, the atmosphere here is much dryer "and purer than it is in Michigan, so the boys fared none the worse for their first night in a Southern army camp. The next morning we began preparing a site for our camp, but the position selected by Col. Gardener was not sanctioned by General Brooke, so we were moved left about to the extreme east of the camp. This, however, is a great advantage for us. We are nearer the water supply, are in a higher position, and one where we can get the benefit of the mountain breeze, which blows continously, thus materially toning down our July-Michigan weather. At midday the thermometer hoverc between 90 and ICO degrees, or even higher, but you would think me a wanton prevaricator if I mentioned the reading credited by rumor. The evenings, however, are cool and coinfortable. All of our drill work is done early in the morning, or after 4 o'clock in the afternoon, so the boys do not suffer very much from the heat.


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