Author Archives: 1stminstrel

About 1stminstrel

Just an average person, retired Law Enforcement, gold miner, prospector. Metal detect for fun hobby time, interested in "true" civil war history not what has been taught in schools for the past 150 years. Avid archaeology researcher.

Time to make some money…


Are you willing to spend 30 min a day to earn a part time income? Shopping on-line is the world today, you do it and so do 1000’s of others. Own your own shopping mall loaded with stores and products.
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This is simply an incredible ecom selling system, ecom software platform, and free traffic marketplace…

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Running out of Money! What should you do next?


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New Show….24 June 19…

This is a lost episode, done earlier this year, but one of the good ones!!! Strap in, buckle your seat belt and get ready to laugh your ass off!!!

Flush after Listening….

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Arizona…Lost Shipment Of Dragoon Pistols:

59299085_1426688107474422_7914077331415629824_nIt was in 1871 that a shipment of 24 Colt Dragoon Pistols was making its way from back East to its final destination at Fort McDowell. The pistols were under military escort, consisting of eight men. A sergeant, four soldiers a Lieutenant as well as a civilian packer.

The escort left Camp Pinal (Picket Post Mountain in Superior) beginning their arduous journey to Fort McDowell. After traveling on the only real road at the time (which was a stage road) the soldiers were attacked by between 15-25 Apaches at a spot where the road narrows tightly between two hills, making an ambush a flawless success.

As the first explosion of Apache’s gun fire erupted and in less than 15 seconds the four soldiers and the civilian packer were killed in a failed attempt to return fire. The Lieutenant and Sergeant grabbed the reigns of the pack mule that was carrying the pistols and made a frantic attempt to get away from the ambush and make their way back to the garrison Camp Pinal.

They rode like hell over several ridges and down into washes while being pursued by the Apaches, but were soon cut off by more warriors riding down on them from their chosen escape route. So the Lieutenant and Sergeant cut north and either rounded a sharp bend and took shelter inside of a small cave and prepared for their defense. The first warrior to round the bend charged the cave and was shot in the face by the Lieutenant and the pursuing Apache dispersed (at least appeared to disperse).

After about three hours of waiting and not seeing any signs of movement around them from the Apache, they decided to lighten their load to make a fast get away to Fort McDowell through the Superstition Mountains. So they took off the 24 Pistols that were packed on the mule and buried them in the floor of that small cave and then made good their escape.

As they made their way through the Superstition Mountains they could see in from a distance the Apache in return watching them from rocks high above but they didn’t make any movement to attack. As the Lieutenant and Sergeant were near the Salt River and clear of the Superstition Mountains, the Apache attacked yet again. The warriors knew exactly where to lay the ambush and exactly where they had to exit the mountains and cross the Salt River. The Sergeant was shot out of his saddle and the Lieutenant just spurred his mount and made a desperate attempt to escape and rode straight through the ambush. He was now the only survivor and eventually made his way to Fort McDowell and reported what had occurred.

General Crook dispatched two or three companies of troopers to go with the Lieutenant to the place where he had buried the Pistols and to investigate the attack. The troopers gathered up the bodies (what was left of them) but the Lieutenant could not recall where the cave was located where he had buried the pistols. He was new to Arizona and didn’t know the terrain, the only ones in his escort party who did know the Mountains and trails and passes were killed during the attack. The soldiers continued searching while in frustration but with no results.

The exact cave was never located and the pistols were never recovered and still waiting to be found to this very day. If these pistols could be found they could fetch a nice price but more importantly, they would be a priceless link to our states beautiful and bloody history.

(While on your search please carry water with you and watch for rattle snakes as the temperatures grown higher and higher. Try to stay cool and always tell someone where you will be going and when to expect you home).

Categories: Arizona, artifacts, hidden, Legends, Lost Treasure, Old West, Treasure Hunters, Treasure Hunting, Treasure Legends | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Flush after listening…new show

another show just hit the airways…for those that enjoy ADULT humor….The title tonight is “Pink Vaginas and Dinosaurs”

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Dr. J. L. Whiting on early Detroit, Black Hawk, Cholera and speaking on the ‘the father of medicine in Michigan.’


Evening News, April 30, 1880.

Dr. Whiting, after fifteen years of successful practice as a physician and surgeon, retired from the profession to engage in the forwarding and commission business.

Concerning this step, he said, “The tide of immigration from the east was beginning to pour in upon us in a steady flood, and the business was most promising.

I quit medicine to follow my new venture in February, 1832, but I was compelled to return to it in July, and work harder at it than ever I had in my life.

The cholera had broken out.

“The dreadful disease was brought to us by a vessel carrying troops ordered to the scene of the Black Hawk war, a war almost unknown to the history readers of this generation.

You are aware that Black-Hawk was a powerful Sac chief, somewhat after the Pontiac pattern.

The Sacs and Winnebago’s of Wisconsin had long been ugly and spoiling for a fight.

They were angry over the rapidly advancing colonization of Illinois, and dreaded further white encroachment.

In the spring of

1832 they commenced warfare upon the frontier settlements of Illinois, killing, scalping, burning, and outraging, and a national as well as a militia force was sent out to teach them a lesson.

After a number of fights the United States troops and Illinois militia, under General Atkinson, inflicted a crushing defeat upon the redskins at the junction of the Bad Axe River with the Mississippi, capturing Black-Hawk and his son and drove the Indians beyond the father Hawk and his son were taken to Washington. On their return Black Hawk stopped for a while in Dtroit, where I saw them both.

Young Black Hawk fell desperatly in love with a prominent society belle and wanted to honor honor her by making her his squaw.

She declined the proffered dignity for reasons best known to herself, but she has never married, and is still living in a state of single blessedness at Mackinac.

“Well, as I was saying,” continued the doctor, “I had just about got used to my new work down at the dock, when along came these troops with the cholera.

One of the men died of a pronounced case of Asiatic cholera on the Fourth of July.

The military surgeon accompanying the detachment was scared almost out of his wits, and immediately upon landing betook himself to bed in the hotel.

The commanding officer, thus deserted, called upon Dr. Rice, an able physician and an amiable man, to attend the sick, and Rice came to me to ask me to go with him.

I didn’t care to go, for I knew, though I had never seen a case of

Cholera that it was frightfully contagious and rapid in its results, and I told Rice so.

He urged that he had been authorized by the quartermaster to spare no expense in securing the most competent help, and finally he persuaded me to go with him.

I told my wife when I went home that Saturday evening that I had been called upon to attend the sick soldiers.

She looked grave and sorrowful, but said that as it was a case of duty she could not ask me to back out.

“That night sixteen cases were brought ashore and placed in the quartermaster’s stores, which had been converted into a temporary cholera hospital.

The stores were back of Fisk’s present crockery warehouse, between Jefferson Avenue and the river, fronting on Woodbridge Street.

Of the sixteen cases eleven proved fatal before morning.

“On the same day Dr. Rice had the sick call sounded and carefully examined every man of the detachment.

To everyone who showed predisposing symptoms of the disease, such as the premonitory diarrhea, he administered a thumping dose of ipecacuanha and calomel on the spot.

It acted like a charm.

There wasn’t another new case in the command.

After the dead were interred the detachment was hurried up to

Fort Gratiot to recruit, and before they left, the commanding officer warmly thanked Dr. Rice and myself for our services.

“The cholera visitation upon the citizens came later in the year 1832, and imposed a vast amount of work upon me.

It was confined largely to the lower classes, and swept off the intemperate and dissipated in large numbers.

In 1834 it attacked an entirely different class; the upper orders, the sober, temperate, and church-going people.

As in 1832 I was taken away from my commission business to attend to the stricken, and had to go out to Marshall, 100 miles, to attend to the cases there, the cholera having hopped over from Ann Arbor.

Dr. Rice did wonders during both visitations.

He practiced in Detroit for some 20 years, and was a man of great merit and as quick as lightning.

“This was not the only time I was called upon to minister to United States troops.

In 1823 the quartermaster insisted upon my going to Saginaw to attend to a sick garrison from Green Bay.

The troops were suffering from malignant intermitting fever, and at the end of three weeks’ attendance upon them I was knocked over myself.

I found the whole garrison sick, with one or two exceptions, and Dr. Zina Pitcher, the surgeon in charge, was the sickest of the lot.

He was completely broken up.

He had some 120 souls, old and young—60 enlisted men, with officers, laundresses, and children—under his charge, and all of them sick but one, with one of the most abominably distressing fevers imaginable.

He was all alone, one hundred miles from anywhere, with an appalling amount of work on hand, and no wonder he broke down.

When I reached Saginaw he was being carried all over the garrison on a mattress by men well enough as yet to move about or lift anything, giving opinions and advice, and a dreadful sight he presented, I can assure you.

The garrison was broken up in October and moved to Detroit where the troops were quartered on Fort street.

I did Pitcher’s duty from August, 1823, till May, 1824, nearly a year.

At that time I began to talk to him of moving into Detroit, for I had a high opinion of him as an able physician and a fine man.

In 1828, when I was making arrangements to give up my practice, I began writing to him, endeavoring to induce him to settle in Detroit and take my place, but I did not succeed until 1835 or ’36.

“Dr. Pitcher was styled not long ago, by a president of the county medical association, the ‘father of medicine in Michigan.’

With all due respect to the president, who knew better, as I told him afterwards, medical history compels me to dispute the title awarded to my old friend.

As long ago as 1811, I commenced the formation of a medical society among the few scattered physicians of the territory.

We had three at the capital and one respectively at Pontiac, St. Clair, Mount Clemens and Monroe, and they all joined me.

Long afterwards, when I had retired from practice, and when the number of physicians was greatly increased, county and State associations were formed and Dr. Pitcher was one of the first presidents of the Wayne County Society.”

Dr. Whiting had some experience with Cass among the Indians, and was a traveling companion with General Winfield Scott as early as 1827.

“In 1827,” he said, “General Cass called upon me to accompany a treaty-making expedition to the Buttes des Morts, or Hills of the Dead, on the Fox River about 40 miles above Green Bay.

The treaty was to be executed between General Cass and Col. McKinney, Indian agent at Washington, joint high commissioners for the United States, and Winnebago’s, Chippewa’s, Pottawattamie’s, Foxes, Sacs, and Menominee’s.

The expedition went out on board the steamer class vessel in her time.

She had only a main deck, which was a fore and after, with a cabin below.

The affair was regarded as a splendid chance for speculation, so the steamer was loaded down with Detroit merchants and their goods.

I was myself entrusted with $3,000 worth of goods of one kind and another, which I disposed of to advantage.

One of the passengers was General Winfield Scott, who was on a tour of inspection of forts and posts, and as two companies were stationed at Sault Ste. Marie he persuaded the captain to take him there.

This is how the first steamboat voyage to the Sault came to be made.

“The general was about 40 hours inspecting the post, and while he was busy we were having a splendid time enjoying ourselves in pleasure and trade.

There were about a dozen beautiful young ladies on board and we had a dance nearly every night.

The after cabin was given up to the demoiselles, so General Scott used to sleep on the dining tables every night, with a whale sperm candle burning at either side of his pillow; for there was an awful deal of fuss and feathers about the old fellow, even at that early stage of his career.

“My duties as medical officer were sufficient to keep me busy night and day.

I had to attend to the Indian sick, and as it was a season when green corn was in, they gorged themselves to repletion with it, and of course, suffered torments.

I was a big gun among them, I can tell you, as the ‘medicine man,’ with a couple of interpreters in constant attendance, moving around among people who regarded me as little less than a divinity, and swallowed the most atrociously unpleasant draughts with relish.

To hear them smack their lips over rancid castor oil which spoke for itself at long range, was a caution.

“We had to wait a long time for the Winnebago’s to come in, for they were saucy and disposed to show the whites that they didn’t care for them, but at the same time they were suffering from a bad attack of green corn.

A Menominee runner came in one day in advance of his people, many of whom came down from the neighborhood of Hudson’s bay, and in answer to my inquiries replied, with gesticulations far more eloquent than words:

‘Menominee sick like hel-l-l! Eat corn!

Break up Munnominee, purroo purro-o-o-o-f ! ! !’

“There were about 3,000 Indians of the different tribes present, many of whom had marched one thousand miles to partake of the benefits of the treaty and receive the presents of food and clothing.

They were supported while they were on the treaty ground and given all the provisions they could carry away with them.

The valuable lands which they ceded have long since become among the most fertile portions of the western granary.

We went upon this expedition in June and returned in August.

The Indians thought the world of Cass, whom they named OsKotchee, or ‘Big Belly.’ ”

Of his personal share in the Black-Hawk war Dr. Whiting tells in a modest, interesting way:

“I was appointed,” he said, “surgeon of the First Michigan militia regiment in 1818, and held my commission till 1832, when the war broke out.

A Dr. Hurd, who came here in 1819, was very anxious to displace me and brought a number of recommendations from people in high position which he pressed upon General John R. Williams, then commander in chief.

When we were ordered to rendezvous at Fort Dearborn (Chicago) preparatory to marching upon Illinois, Hurd spent a whole day with the general trying to get the position.

The fact was, he had been rather unsuccessful in Detroit, and the pay was an object to him, as much as the prestige was to me.

I was determined I would not be thrust out of my rank to suit Hurd, and in the long run I defeated him and was ordered to provide a supply of medicines and make ready to march at once.

I got Dr. Chapin, then our only druggist doing anything like a business, to fit me up a big medicine chest sufficient for the requirements of 200 infantry and a company of cavalry.

We got marching orders and had gone about fifty-five miles in the direction of Illinois when we received an order from General Williams ordering us back.

Our expedition lasted from the Thursday of one week till the too short a time entirely to give the First Michigan an opportunity to disquingish themselves on the field of glory, and I regret to say, also too short to qualify any of us for the 160 acres of land which every patriot had in his eye.

I didn’t have an opportunity of physicking a single combatant before the whole business was over.”

On the close of the “second cholera” in 1834, Dr. Whiting retired permanently from the practice of medicine, and devoted himself for the ensuing eight or ten years to the forwarding business, which consisted principally in the receipt and handling of the goods of immigrants who were then flowing into the State in large numbers.

The rush of immigration began in 1828 and continued for a long period afterwards.

“I saw,” said Dr. Whiting, “the early movement of emigration to Ohio, which was vigorously proceeding when I was on my way to Michigan.

I have seen the huge wagons of the pioneers, drawn by four teams of horses or yokes of oxen, making their way over the terrible roads, laden to the bursting point with household goods, and so arranged as to be moving homes for the family for the whole duration of the journey and until the settler could erect his log cabin in the unbroken wilderness.

The immigrants who came to us were from the thriftiest and most industrious New England stock, principally from the northeastern States and New York; people who could turn their hands to almost anything, and whose industry and perseverance, which they transmitted as a heritage to their posterity, have made Michigan what she is to-day.

“While keeping an eye on immigration, I saw the arrival of most of the men who have attained to note and position in this city and State.

It was while I had my office on the dock that Zachariah Chandler, then quite a new-comer, applied to me for a situation.

I well recollect when my friend, Mr. C. C. Trowbridge, came here—I was practicing then—a bright-eyed, ambitious, enthusiastic young man whose friendship I have enjoyed for scores of years, and whose career I have watched from early manhood to old age.”

Digressing a little, Dr. Whiting said:

“I observe in your sketch of Mr. Trowbridge that he speaks of an M. Laselle having once whipped the commandant of the fort in a dispute over a question of etiquette.

M. Laselle was well known as a peppery French officer in the Union service, who was present at Winchester’s defeat at River Raisin in the war of 1812-15.

He was the officer of the day, and, as the troops slept on their arm after the carnage, while posting a tall, gaunt New Hampshire soldier as a picket guard, intelligently instructed him as to his duties as follows:

” ‘Spose you see Hinjin, you say how?


Dat call him ‘tenshun.

Den you say Endoss! Endoss!

Dat come here!

Come here!

‘Spose Hinjin no endoss, you vill sa-a-acra-wentelment baionnez le dans la ventre!”

[You will sacramentally bayonet him in the bowels.]

“To return to forwarding.

There was not much of a general trade in my earlier experience of the business.

The fur trade was carried on by a few houses, Judge Abbott, Mack & Conant, Dequindre, and the Buhls.

There were a few small manufacturing concerns turning out boots and shoes, clothing, wool hats, and so on, but nothing to signify.

For all our iron work we had to send to Cleveland, and large quantities of goods, now manufactured in and exported from Detroit, were imported from Ohio.

But as the flood of population poured in from the eastern states a change came rapidly about, which had a remarkable effect upon my business.

I had at one time the agency of five steam boats, something enormous for that period—purchased their supplies, and gave a decided impetus to the fuel trade by requiring a constant supply of from 1,500 to 2,000 cords of wood.

The steamers for which I was agent ran to Buffalo, calling at the different lake ports on the way.

Once or twice a year they went to Chicago and Mackinac with supplies and stores.

In my younger days we had quite a contemptuous opinion of Chicago as a little swampy hamlet compared with which Detroit was of metropolitan grandeur.

Times fully since then, yet always for the better in Detroit whose growth has been gradually solid and substantial.

I have seen the population grow from 900 to 130,000, and I know whereof I speak.”

Dr. Whiting, after a lengthened experience as a forwarder and commission merchant, went into business as a land and tax agent, in which he continued till his physical infirmity obliged him to retire.

He stayed at his post till he was forced to seek repose.

Speaking of politics, he said:

“I have never been actively engaged in politics.

I was originally what was called a ‘blue-light federalist,’ and cast my first vote for DeWitt Clinton for president just before I left for Detroit.

Parties have come and parties have gone, leaving me, in my opinions, pretty much where I was standing when I cast my first vote.

Though I was elected city clerk in 1832 and again in 1834, I have never sought office.

During my second term as clerk of the city I found I had to either giveup my warehouse or resign the clerkship, and I chose the latter.

This completes my experience of office.

I became a Whig when Whiggery represented principles, and when it died out I found it terrible hard work to become a republican, and only surrendered under protest.

However, I had not much time to throw away on politics and politicians; my life was too busy a one for any dissipation of the kind, and besides I have always had the confidence that this Union could take care of herself, without my going into hysterics about saving her.”

As I rose to go, Dr. Whiting said: “When you hear young fellows of yesterday talking of Detroit as a slow, fossilized place, remember that I have seen it grow from a frontier post, with half a hundred English speaking Americans in it, depending upon the precarious support afforded by the fur trade and the disbursement of public money by the troops; from a little settlement, yet showing the ravages of a long war, to a great imperial city, with the most thrifty and generally prosperous population of the United States, at the distributing head of the most magnificent inland water system of the world, and growing year by year in power and riches.”

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The 13th Michigan Infantry in the Civil War – A Narrative and Letters by Colonel Michael Shoemaker.


The 20th brigade, of which the 13th regiment was a part, commanded by Col. Charles G. Harker, of the 3d division; Brig. Gen. Thos. John Wood, of the Army of the Cumberland; commanded by Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell, arrived at Stevenson, Alabama, on Saturday, July 19th, 1862, and went into camp on the hill side east of and immediately adjacent to the town.
In our rear was a vacant house, of which I took possession and made it the headquarters of the field and staff officers of the regiment.
The other regiments of the brigade were immediately north and west of us.
Picket lines were established, and guards and sentinels posted in every direction from our camp.
The night after our arrival was very unpleasant, rain falling most of the time.
(Extracts from letter to Mrs. Shoemaker.)
“In camp near Stevenson, Alabama,
“Sunday, July 20, 1862.
“My Dear Wife:
I, yesterday, while on my way here, received your letter of July 4th.
On Thursday I marched my regiment to Decatur, and then almost immediately on arrival was notified that the brigade was to take the cars the next day for this place, and marched back again, making one of the hardest day’s work we have done since leaving Kalamazoo, in consequence of the frequent heavy showers and extreme heat.
On our return we were ordered to have reveille beat at 2 A. M., Friday, and march to the railroad.
We arrived there about sunrise, and remained there twenty-four hours waiting for the cars, they arriving about 2 A. M. Saturday.
We had to wait for another regiment, but finally got off about sunrise and arrived here last night, or rather in the afternoon, in time to get into camp by night.
I don’t know how long we shall be here, but probably until there is something done on one side or the other.
It looks now as though the Confederates would give us enough to do without waiting for us to make an attempt to take Chattanooga.
I never write much about our movements or what has been done, for you to learn all that from our newspapers much sooner than you can hear from my letters.
Tell Fred to send me a New York paper as often as twice a week.
We do not yet know much of the particulars of the battles before Richmond.
We never get papers here unless sent directly to us, and seldom at that.
Note.—In this article from the ready pen of Col. Shoemaker, we have a record not only of much personal interest, but an addition of great value, to the history of the war.
He takes us behind the scenes, “and shows how correct were our criticisms at the time, of the dilatory commanders whom we accused of trying how not to do it.”
He takes the reader along with him: we see the dreary bivouac, we follow with the weary march, we almost hear the roar and see the rush of battle, share the indignation of his men as they saw the half-hearted attempt of Gen. Buell to put down the rebellion by acting merely on the defensive, and we admire the skill with which Col. S. sustained his command at Stevenson, and made its hasty retreat by Buel’s orders— (see telegram No. 23) of nearly a hundred miles over the mountains to Nashville with the exultant foe at his heels.
The survivors of “the 13th” will thank their honored colonel for this record of their labors and trials: and, vivid as are the pen pictures he gives us, they only, no doubt, can fully appreciate the thrilling history.
On the 21st and 22d all of the command were occupied in policing our camp, making sanitary arrangements, procuring and distributing rations, and apparently making ready for a prolonged stay at this point.
I commenced to drill my regiment on the 23rd, and continued to do so every day when the weather would permit, until we moved into the fort, except such days as we were employed on fatigue duty or in the building the stockades or fort.
The brigade formed line of battle on the 24th at 3 o’clock A. M., and remained in line until after daylight.
In the afternoon I drilled my regiment.
At 9 P. M., there was an alarm sounded, and the entire brigade turned out and formed in line of battle; but the alarm was without cause, as no attack followed.
After an hour more of excitement the men were dismissed to their quarters and all became quiet.
Extract from letter dated July 22, 1862, to Mrs. Shoemaker.
“I have not seen a paper of any kind since a week ago last Sunday.
You can judge how little we know of what has taken place elsewhere, when I tell you that we learned last night that Gen. Duffleld was wounded at Murfreesboro, when it was taken, though that was near two weeks ago, and in our army.
Even this may not be so.
I mention it to show our want of opportunity to learn what is done.
“I am very well, and bear the life I lead much better than I would believe possible, for it is very, very severe in every respect.
Nothing but the cause in which we are engaged would keep me here a day, and I hope for a speedy termination of all our troubles, so that I may be released and return to my home and family.
I must confess, however, that with the limited intelligence I have of affairs elsewhere, and with my opinion of the management of our armies.
I do not see that we are any nearer a settlement than when I left home.
Tell Fred, he must send me papers.
I can get none here.
I am daily expecting Kidder and Lieut. Slayton, and shall then get some news.
“This is a miserable country, the commencement (or tail) of the mountainous country of East Tennessee; but few farms and little cultivation.
The inhabitants have nearly all left, and it is very difficult to get anything to live upon.
We have no butter, or potatoes, or vegetables of any kind.
The troops have been on half rations for some time, and it is hard living.
Pork, hard bread, and coffee are our principal articles of food.
Everything in the regiment is moving off very quietly and well, but the officers are terribly disappointed that they cannot get furloughs, and some of them will resign.
“The service is a hard one, quite a number are sick of it, and would rather leave than remain.
I do not know where the other Michigan regiments are.
I have seen none but the Mechanics and Engineers since we left Corinth.
Randall and part of the horses came with the artillery and transportation on the wagon road, and they have not yet come up.
We expect them to-day.”
[Extract from letter to Mrs. Shoemaker.]
“Stevenson, Alabama,
“July 23, 1862.
“My Dear Wife.—
No mail yet; no letters, no nothing.
This is a miserable God-forsaken country, mean and despicable in every respect, and the people not only partake of the character of the country, but are meaner and more to be despised than it is.
Cowardly hounds, lying around home day times and at night meeting with their neighbors, and making a raid as guerrillas, if they can do so with perfect safety.
“My respect for the southern character generally is much lessened.
They are none of them willing to fight unless they have every advantage of numbers, time and opportunity, and there are few of them but will murder our men by shooting them from the bushes whenever they find them straggling, singly or in small numbers, at a distance from the camp, or column, if on the march.
Men are every day killed in this way.
They will not sell us anything if they can help it, and if they do they charge three prices for it.
We are now getting as a favor, one quart of milk a day for fifteen cents.
Buttermilk the same, and butter not to be had at all.
Yet these men are all protected by orders of our army and division generals.
No soldier is allowed to go into a house, or in any way have anything to do with the in habitants, and all officers are under much the same restrictions as the soldiers.
Secessionists are much better off in this country than either union men or soldiers.
The former are protected by both parties, while the rebels are perfectly relentless to all enemies, and even to all who do not support them.
All this, and more, which I cannot give in a letter, places the union army at a great disadvantage, and is much felt by us all, but it cannot get expression as it ought, as no inferior has a right to publicly criticize the actions of his superiors.
There is great dissatisfaction in the army, both as to its inactivity and its management.
We had before Corinth, a splendid army of one hundred thousand men.
Nearly two months have elapsed since its evacuation, and it has done literally nothing or worse.
This we know, and it, together with other facts not stated, but of the same nature, has taken from the army, so far as I can judge, all confidence in Generals Buell and Wood.
The latter is a fool.
I could fill a volume if necessary, to sustain what I have said, but enough for the present.
It is not usual to comment so freely to any upon the conduct of general officers.
They may be praised, but not blamed with impunity; and this letter, though every word and more is true, would cause me to be cashiered if it was known I had written it, consequently you will be very careful to whom you show it, or what you do with it.
Don’t burn it, but put it away under lock and key, for it may someday be of service for good instead of harm.
I would as soon Governor Blair would know its contents as not, but he must not speak to any one of the facts as coming from me.
He ought to know them, and the whole country ought to know them, for a different policy must be pursued or we can never crush this rebellion.
Remember me to all friends. Kiss the babies.
“Affectionately your husband,
“Stevenson, Alabama,
“July 24, 1862.
“My Darling Wife,—
What time do you think it is?
I don’t know, for I have no watch, the one I bought of Brown never having kept good time.
I put it away in my trunk.
Speaking of that watch reminds me that I want you to tell Fred, not to pay Brown for it, as it is not as he represented it to be.
‘Says he, Riah!
Says I, what?’—
I will now, not to be as bad as the widow, go back to the time of morning.
 It is daylight, but not yet sunrise, say between four and five o’clock.
We get up at three A. M., form line of battle, and remain in that position until broad daylight, when the battalion is dismissed to attend reveille roll-call.
This early forming of line battle is to prevent the possibility of surprise, as the enemy are all around us, and vigilant.
They are on every side of us, and perhaps above and below us.
If I in chief command most of them would be in the latter position soon.
I can just see the sun; the upper disc is just visible up the valley of the Tennessee, and his beams are beautifully reflected by the forest that covers the mountains which rise here quite majestically on both sides of the river.
We are out from the town, which is no town at all (about like Leoni, or perhaps Grass Lake) less than a mile, in a beautiful grove of little oaks, and have as pleasant a camp as any heretofore occupied.
“Yesterday I went to town in my white hat and blouse, without vest, in fact in the rough, as we have to be most of the time while down here.
While there I went into an old tumble-down tavern, more like a barn than a house, had my ambrotype (early picture usually in a frame) taken, and that is the gift I am to-day sending you by mail.
I have received no letters since date of 4th, and it is said that all communication with the North is cut off, and that no mails are now received at all.
If no mails are received, then I suppose none can be sent.
I shall however, continue to write, and hope you will do the same.
“Twenty-fifth Brigade formed line of battle at 4 A.M., remained in line until sunrise.
In the afternoon I had a thorough regimental drill.
The same order was observed on the 26th by both brigade and regiment.
Lieutenant Colonel Worden applied for absence on sick leave, which was granted, and he left the regiment, not joining it again until after our arrival at Nashville with the rear part of General Buell’s army.
In the afternoon, Major Culver and myself rode out to Bolivar, a small village about four miles east of Stevenson, where we dined with Mr. Beals, who was formerly cashier of a bank (in Goshen, I think), in the State of New York.
A package of bank bills purporting to contain $1,000.00 was sent from his bank to a bank in Detroit, which when opened, was found to contain slips of newspaper cut into the size of bank bills.
It may be set down as a remarkable coincidence that I was in the bank at Detroit when this package was opened, and now met Mr. Beals, who in consequence of that transaction lost his situation in Alabama.
Quartermaster Kidder returned from Michigan, bringing letters and supplies from Mrs. Shoemaker and others.”
[Extract from letter to Mrs. Shoemaker.]
“In Camp near Stevenson, Alabama,)
“Sunday July 27, 1862. J
“My Dear Wife:—
Yesterday a mail was received, and by it I received a letter from Jackson, of the 11th inst.
After the mail Kidder came in and brought your letters of the 12th to 16th.
The communications are now so much interrupted that the mails are very irregular and some perhaps entirely lost.
I have written you every day when I could do so, which has been frequently this month.
By reference to my diary I find that I wrote you on the 4th. 6th, 7th, 9th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 16th, 20th, 21st, 23d, 24th, 25th, and to-day is the 27th.
That is sixteen letters in twenty-three days, and perhaps one or two more that I made no note of.
Now, you exacting woman, what more than this would you have of a man, particularly of a husband?
Why, most lovers don’t do as well as that before marriage.
“I have not had as many annoyances as I expected.
I entered upon the duties of my command determined to conquer its difficulties, and have done so.
Governor Blair says he has had less trouble with this regiment than any in the service; and if he will follow my recommendations concerning it I will be answerable that it will continue so.
I am now drilling the regiment every day, and am as capable of doing so as many colonels who have been in the service a year.
Those who ought to know, say I do it better than any other officer in this brigade.
I write this because I think you will be pleased to know it.
I don’t write so to anyone else.”
[Extract from letter to Mrs. Shoemaker, with criticisms on army operations.]
“In Camp Stevenson, Alabama,
“Before sunrise, July 28, 1862.
“My Dear Wife:—
I have just dismissed my men to their quarters.
We turn out before the first appearance of light, and form line of battle, and remain in position until reveille.
This is to guard against surprise.
We do not intend to be caught napping if we can prevent it.
We have four regiments of infantry, a battery, and a few cavalry here.
Our army is so scattered that I fear it will be all cut off in detail.
We had a splendid army when Corinth was evacuated by the confederates, one that was irresistible, both from its force and discipline, against any force the south had in the field.
If then Buell’s army had marched at once to Chattanooga, and the other moved down the rail road either towards New Orleans or Mobile, great results would have followed.
We might and ought to have Chattanooga and all East Tennessee.
As it is, that great army is so scattered and idle that it is only a terror to its friends, where it happens to be located in detachments.
It is attacked and being cut off in detail every day or two at some bridge, or town, which is guarded by a small force, but which would need none if a vigorous course had been pursued.
We cannot now take any place, much less Chattanooga, unless we are largely reinforced, and are more likely to be driven back to Nashville than to take Chattanooga.
Our communications are constantly interrupted, and our supplies cut off.
We have now been on half rations for two weeks, and it looks as though they might get to be even less, if not cut off entirely.
We are now in a very poor country, or short rations would not affect us.
We are now, even to make up half-rations, collecting and killing all the beef cattle, or rather all the cattle of every kind, we can find, and they are hard to find.
The farmers hide them in the woods and mountains, and we have to go eight and ten miles to find as many cattle.
Potatoes are worth two and three dollars a bushel, onions fifty cents a dozen, milk fifteen cents a quart, and butter not to be had.
“From all this you must not think that we are suffering, for we are not, but are all getting along very smoothly and well.
“I regret to see our armies so mismanaged, and think there must be a change of men and measures before the rebellion can be crushed out.
We must make war on our enemies, and not protect them in their persons or property if we wish to subdue them.
We have recently lost a force of near one hundred men at Courtland, between Decatur and Tuscumbia, and it is said that many of the assailants were recognized as men whose property our army had guarded.
“To show you the irregularity of the mails: I yesterday received your letter of the 9th, and also by the same mail one from Gov. Blair of the 21st.
Major Worden is quite sick and has applied for leave of absence, and will, I think, go home.
Are you not thankful that I am well, or do you wish me to be sick and come home?
Affectionately your husband,
July 28th.
The brigade formed line of battle at 4 A. M. When the command formed line of battle, either here or elsewhere, in the morning, it was always at either 3 or 4 o’clock, and the troops forming the line remained in that position under arms until after broad daylight.
In the afternoon I drilled my regiment for several hours.
The Sixty-fifth Ohio, V.I., Col. Furguson, were sent towards Chattanooga in a fifth Ohio, V. I., Col. Ferguson, were sent towards  Chattanooga in an expedition and to procure provisions for the brigade, particularly fresh meat and vegetables, of which there was none in our commissary stores.
The command were on short rations most of the time.
The brigade was at Stevenson, and all of the time short of many articles of food.
Fresh meat and vegetables were always scarce, and most of the time could not be procured at all.
We occasionally received onions from the north for a few rations, and the effect produced by them was so noticeable that it became at once the subject of remark.
No other vegetable produced so immediate and beneficial a change.
The inhabitants of the town and country adjoining were universally hostile, and would furnish nothing unless obliged to do so.
Every day men off duty were granted leave to go in squads and forage among the surrounding plantations for the purpose of buying any provisions they could find for sale.
This was always on their own responsibility, and all purchases were at their own expense.
When the planters refused to sell their beef, pork, or mutton, all kinds of artifices were resorted to in order to obtain them; and in case of complaint at headquarters, it was very difficult, and generally impossible, to detect the culprits; for they always reported themselves to the planters as belonging to any regiment but their own; and a search of the camp, which was sometimes ordered by Colonel Harker commanding the brigade, never resulted in the discovery of the depredators or the fresh meat they had appropriated.
I will give one instance which occurred within my own knowledge.
A planter came into the came from some two miles distant and complained at brigade headquarters, that going out of his house the day previous, Sunday, he found some soldiers skinning one of his bullocks (Bull).
When he spoke to them, he said they were very pleasant and polite, they gave him the name and number of the regiment to which they said they belonged, and informed him that they were acting in strict obedience to orders from headquarters.
The planter then said to them that he would go to the camp and see about getting pay for his animal, but on attempting to leave his premises he found them surrounded by a cordon of sentinels, each marching his beat, fully armed and equipped, none of whom would allow him to pass without orders from the officer in command.
He then inquired for the officer commanding the detachment, who was at once pointed out to him.
He complained that his property was being taken from him, and that his grounds were guarded so that he could not leave them.
He said he wanted to go to camp and see the officer commanding the brigade.
The officer heard all he had to say, and then in a stern and rather threatening manner informed him that he need not feel anxious because he could not go, but rather because he would be obliged to go, as he had orders not only to procure the beef, but also to bring him, the planter, into camp, and that he must be in readiness to go with them when they were ready to leave, at the same time intimating that the planter would find some serious charges against him.
The planter became alarmed, and asked permission to go into his house to make some necessary preparation and inform his family where he was to be taken, so that they would understand the cause of his absence.
The favor was granted most graciously, the planter went into his house, spent some little time in consultation with his family, and rather prolonged the time, as he did not like the idea of being taken from his home under arrest; for the times were such that there was no foreseeing the consequences.
He might, however innocent, be kept from home for a long time, as some of those arrested were sent to Nashville.
When he did muster up courage to go out, he did not find the sentinels posted as they had been when he left the officer, and he soon discovered that all, officers, soldiers, and beef, had suddenly, silently, and mysteriously disappeared.
In doubt as to what was proper or best to do, he remained at home until the next day, Monday, when he came into camp and made his case known at brigade headquarters.
He then found that he had been victimized by some of the soldiers of our brigade, who were not only acting without orders, but in direct violation of them.
An investigation was ordered, but nothing came of it; except that it proved that the soldiers were not of the regiment they claimed to belong to, and that no officer was with the detachment committing the depredation.
The men undoubtedly went out in small squads and united for action after leaving the camp, and were probably from more than one regiment.
The regimental officers all sympathized with the men, and we always protected them from exposure when possible to do so.
[Extract from letter to Mrs. Shoemaker.]
“Stevenson. Alabama,)
“July 29, 1862.
“My Dear Wife:—
The birds are singing in the grove on every side of me, as they do every morning, and everything appears to be peaceable and quiet, but this is all deceptive.
Under the surface there is trouble, deadly hostility, and enmity.
Yesterday an escort of cavalry to a foraging train sent out to purchase beef cattle, so that we might have even half rations, was fired upon from the bushes, two men killed and three wounded.
The cavalry force was small, and fled as usual.
Within a few days the railroad from Decatur west to Cortland was retaken by the rebels, and from 80 to 100 of our men killed or taken prisoners.
At two or three places our men repulsed them after hard fighting against four to one, and in all these cases, the dead left on the ground by the rebels are found to be citizens who had been living at home with passes and protections, and whose houses and property had in many cases been guarded by our soldiers, whom they were attempting to surprise and butcher.
“When Cortland was attacked there was a brigade at Decatur; its commander, Gen. Schorf, telegraphed to Gen. Buell at Huntsville, but could get no answer, and did not dare to go to its relief without orders, so we lost the town, the railroad, and one hundred men.
When we had a force within protecting distance, which might not only have protected the road, the town, and the men, but also have inflicted summary punishment upon a band of assassins who were allowed to carry out their acts of double treason and murder with impunity.
I am fearful that Gen. Buell’s inactivity, or sympathy for traitors, to use a mild expression, will prevent the army from accomplishing anything towards crushing the rebellion, if it maintains its ground, which is becoming doubtful.
When we left Corinth we had a splendid army, and now where is it?
Scattered over the country, divided unnecessarily into detachments, and if employed at all it is in guarding the property of rebels.
If, after Corinth, we had proceeded immediately to Chattanooga, we could have taken it and East Tennessee I think, without a blow, and be now acting on the offensive.
As it is, we are being cut off in detail while in the act of doing nothing.
These are the feelings of the army so far as I can judge them, and unless there is a change of policy and men, the north will find that their three hundred thousand men they are now raising will be of little value.
My candid opinion is, and there are more reasons for it than I can give in a letter, that if the officers who are and
have been in the regular army are allowed to govern the army as they are now doing, we might as well recognize the Southern Confederacy first as last; for under their auspices we shall never put down the rebellion.
I came into the army a ‘West Point man’ but I cannot resist the evidence of my senses, and the stake is too great to admit of, or justify, silence.
The people here were afraid of Gen. Mitchel, and he kept them quiet.
I don’t know him and have never seen him, but I do know that it is the opinion of Gen. Buell’s officers, and army, that Gen. Mitchel is the most effective man of the two, and that he has done more for the cause with his division than Gen. Buell with his entire army.
There are many evidences of all these things which I see and hear which I cannot give in a letter, but you may be sure that the rebellion will never be crushed until the armies are commanded in the field by other men than such as Generals Buell, Wood, or even Halleck.
Pope is a good officer, and was an active one here.
If you have an opportunity you may show this letter to Gov. Blair, and I would prefer that he should see it, but to no one else at all, and neither you nor he must speak of these things as coming from me.
If it was known I had written such a letter it would cause me trouble.
“Affectionately your husband,
July 29.
The brigade formed line of battle at 3 A. M., and, excepting the detail for fatigue duty, were kept all day under arms in readiness for an apparently expected attack from the Confederate forces.
Colonel Ferguson returned without having seen any opposing force, and without having procured any supplies.
The fatigue parties today commenced to fortify the town by the erection of a redoubt, by building stockades on the line of the railroad for the protection of the depot, and by protecting and fortifying the depot buildings in such manner as to make them capable of respectable resistance.
These, when finished, were all occupied by details of soldiers.
One hundred and twenty men of my regiment were on this detail, and worked all day on the fortifications.
In the night there was a heavy fall of rain.
Injury by fall of horse.
July 30.
While superintending the labors of my men at different points, I attempted to cross the track of the railroad, and my horse became frightened at an engine which was standing near.
In checking him, he fell flat upon his side, with one of my legs under him, injuring it badly.
I succeeded in getting from under the horse, and in getting both him and myself out of the way of the locomotive engine, but had a very narrow escape from serious injury, if not loss of life.
This accident became finally the cause of some of the most remarkable events of my army life; as from the serious and painful result of the injury to my leg I was obliged to give up riding on horseback, after reaching Nashville obtain leave of absence from my regiment, which led to my capture by the confederate guerrillas, my adventures while on my way to Richmond, and confinement in Libby Prison.
All of my men fit for duty were to-day working on the redoubt and stockades.
Orders were issued from brigade headquarters to impress contrabands to assist in building fortifications.
Rain fell all the afternoon and most of the night.
July 31.
Rain in A. M.
In compliance with the order of yesterday I sent Captain A. Balch with a detachment from company G. into the country to impress contrabands (negro slaves’) to assist in the work of fortification.
Received notice of resignation of Captain Vosburgh, and Lieutenant Phelps, both of whom remained in Nashville without authority from me to do so, when the regiment left there for Savannah and Shiloh in March.
Work commenced to-day under my command on the redoubt, or fort, on the hill south of the town.
One hundred and twenty of my own men on fatigue duty on this work.
I made the following extracts from a letter of this date written to my wife:
“Stevenson, Alabama,
“July 31, 1862.
“My Dear Wife,—
I had a very lucky fall yesterday.
As I was crossing the railroad track on a plank-crossing there was an engine standing within a few feet of the road, and as my horse came opposite he leaned from it and started a little.
There had been rain in the night, and many teams over the road, so that it was somewhat muddy, and the mud here is more like grease than anything else.
As my horse started his feet all slipped from under him and we both came flat on the plank, one of my legs under the horse.
I extricated my other foot from the stirrup, the horse immediately sprang up, and so did I.
We were both covered with mud, but otherwise there was not much damage done, though it is a wonder how I escaped without breaking some bones.
My leg was somewhat bruised and is a little lame to-day, but not so much as to prevent me from being around all the time.
(Col. Shoemaker’s graphic account of his capture and imprisonment will be found in volume 3)
I bathed it freely with liniment as soon as I got back to camp.
We are now all busy erecting fortifications, and to-day have parties out after Negroes from the plantations to come in and help do the work.
They are rather scarce about here.
This is the first time we have been allowed to use anything belonging to the rebels, and I am glad to see a commencement in the right direction.
If followed up as it should be, it will relieve our soldiers of much hard labor and drudgery, and add vastly to the efficiency of the army.
I have had no letter from you since I last wrote.
In fact we have had no mail.
I was much amused at your letter about ‘glory.’
Your reasoning is as good as Falstaff’s on ‘honor.’
You would never love or respect a ninny of a man, who had no spirit, and those who have no feeling for their country are too selfish to love anything but themselves, and if I had been such an one you would never have loved me.
It may do for a woman to place her family before everything else, but even you did not and would not do that.
When I thought it necessary to go into the army, you consented, regretting, as I did, the necessity, but what would the world become if men were not willing to give up all in times like these, that their children and those who do survive may have a government?
I must close now.
“Affectionately your husband,
August 1.
Out with my entire regiment and work on fort all day and until 12 o’clock P. M., with the ground very slippery and the night very dark.
The “powers that be” seem very anxious to forward the work on the fortifications, and our actions would now foreshadow a defensive rather than an offensive campaign.
I have to-day sent out another detachment to impress negroes, mules, and carts to work on the fort.
We had rain in the afternoon and night.
August 2.
Work on fortifications with one hundred and twenty of my men. Detailed one company to act as provost guard, and two companies on the picket lines.
I again sent out three detachments, to impress negroes, mules, and carts to work in the intrenchments, all of which were procured in sufficient numbers for present purposes.
Sunday, August 3.
I to-day received orders, with “carte blanche” from Colonel Harker, commanding brigade, to build fort and stockades, and make such defenses for the protection of Stevenson as in my judgment I deemed best.
Stevenson is at the junction of the Charleston & Memphis, and the Nashville & Chattanooga railroads, and was at this time made a depot for the supplies of the army, and also for the convalescent soldiers from the direction of both Huntsville and Chattanooga.
I now directed two buildings, standing in what would probably be a line of fire if we were attacked, to be torn down.
I also had the passenger depot and the platform of the freight depot barricaded, and detailed three companies to occupy the depot and platform during nights.
The following is an extract of a letter written today to Mrs. S.:
“I am awful tired, and can’t write much of a letter.
How do we spend the Sabbath in Dixie?
I will tell you.
Up at 3 A.M.; form line of battle at 3:30, and remain in that formation until reveille, say about 4:30 o’clock.
At six A.M. the whole regiment turns out and work all day on the redoubt, stockades, and intrenchments.
This includes barricading of buildings and other temporary works.
We have here a large amount of rations and army stores, with more arriving, and from all directions.
We intend to protect them and do not mean to be taken by surprise.
We are working day and night on our defensive works.
I was out Friday night in the rain, but do not appear to have caught any cold.
The regiment worked from 6 till 12 P. M. with pick and shovel.
I send this by William A. Ewing, a son of Surgeon Ewing, who has been here a few days, and can tell you much of the particulars of our situation.
You must excuse this scrawl, particularly the substance of it, for I do not know what it is, I am so tired and sleepy.
Don’t fret, be of good courage, and above all things, keep in good spirits.
I do, though suffering hardships and privations greater than you have any idea of.
“Affectionately your husband,
“M. S.”
On the 4th of August there was a very heavy fog.
Wm. A. Ewing left for home.
His father was getting somewhat uneasy about our situation.
He thought the action we were taking in fortifying our position signified that it was more probable that we would be attacked than that we would act on the offensive, and as his son was not connected with the army, he very properly concluded that he had better return home while our communications were uninterrupted.
I continued work on the fortifications with my regiment and the contrabands.
August 5.
Foggy and very hot.
Lieut. Col. Worden left for home on sick leave.
Formed line of battle 3:30 A. M.
August 6, 7, 8, 9.
Formed line of battle each day at 3:30 A. M., and work with entire regiment on fortifications at various points about the town, and on the line of the railroad.
On the 7th I wrote Mrs. Shoemaker as follows:
“Stevenson, Alabama, August 7, 1862.
“My Dear Wife:—
The sun is now just rising.
I was out at 3:30 o’clock with my regiment in line of battle to guard against surprise.
What with building stockades, breastworks, and other military duties, we are having a laborious time, particularly as the weather is not only warm, but very hot.
I have but little leisure time.
Major Worden went home sick yesterday.
He will come and see you.
He had but short notice before he left, and I had no time to write to you, as every spare moment was taken in writing to Governor Blair on official business.
When Major Worden returns I shall come home and make you a visit, or if we are stationed here, as we may be, I will send for you, though you will have to rough it if you come.
How would you like to sleep in a tent?
If ever there were any decent people here, I think they have left, for I have seen or heard of none; but I have been in but one house since I came, and got out of that as soon as I could do my business.
Most of the inhabitants of the town and country have left their homes, their houses being unoccupied in our arrival here, but from the appearance of these deserted habitations I think it never was much of a town.
We have torn down a part of it in making room for our guns to have good range.
Lieut. Woodruff will remain in Michigan some time on recruiting service.
Worden is now Lieutenant-Colonel.
On the night of the 8th Colonel Ferguson, of the Sixty-fourth Ohio, and Captain Stoughten and a very interesting meeting, at which they held such high revel that as a consequence.
Company “I,” which was acting as provost guard, was ordered into camp to prevent a recurrence of what might prove of serious injury to the discipline of the regiment, and to impress upon the officers the necessity of sobriety and strict attention to their duties, now more than ever necessary.
The order was revoked at the request of Captain Stoughten, and upon his promise that no such cause for complaint should again arise.
Captain Stoughten was a good officer, a very intelligent man, and as good as his word.
The afternoon of the 9th was spent in preparing the regiment for inspection.
On Sunday, the 10th, the regiment formed line of battle at 3:30 A.M. and worked on the stockades and redoubt in the afternoon.
As there were rumors of Confederate forces or of guerrilla bands being in our vicinity.
I sent a detachment of twenty men towards Dechard to reconnoiter.
They returned without having discovered signs of any armed force.
The following is an extract from a letter to Mrs. Shoemaker, dated August 10, 1862:
“The sun is just rising this bright, beautiful Sabbath morning, and I thought I could not better occupy my time until breakfast than by writing to you.
I was out with my regiment at 3:30 o’clock this morning; we came in at reveille, just before sunrise, and to that good habit of early rising you are indebted for this letter.
There is so much applying for leave to go home by officers that it is difficult to get away, and not desirable unless necessary.
It is hardly honorable at this time for an officer to be away from his post if he is able to do his duty.
If you come down here I may not be at home for some time, and am anxious to be kept informed about my business.
Fred, must write me once a week.”
On the 11th, I placed Company B, Captain McLaughlin, in the redoubt building on the hill south of the railroad, to remain day and night to act as a guard.
The working force of the regiment to-day finished the stockades on the railroad above the turn-table, and worked on the redoubt and barricades.
On the 12th formed line of battle at 3:30 A.M.
Regiment built lower stockades, and barricaded the brick depot and magazine.
Charley Ward, our cook, returned from Michigan.
Received and gave to Captain Jones, of Company “H,” his commission as captain.
On the 13th and 14th the regiment worked on stockades and barricades.
The stockades were all on the line of the railroads, at the bridges, and most exposed points.
The depot buildings and certain houses were barricaded, so as to be used for the defense of the station if necessary.
The work was thoroughly done, and all places fortified were occupied by detachments from my regiment or by convalescents sent here from other points on the railroad, and placed under my command.
These were at times quite numerous, frequently exceeding one thousand men and probably averaging that number from the time they commenced coming.
On the 15th I moved my regiment into the redoubt, or fort as we called it, which we were building on the hill south of Stevenson, pitched my tent and took up my headquarters there, but still continued to work at, and have charge of all the stockades and fortifications in the town and on its approaches.
[Extract from letter to Mrs. Shoemaker.]
Stevenson, Alabama,
August 16, 1862.
“My Dear Wife:
I have had no letter for several days, but as some railroad bridges are burned in Kentucky, that, I suppose is the reason.
I am now more busy than ever.
Yesterday I moved my regiment to the redoubt, and am now occupying it and the stockades.
I have for the present, command of this post, and may remain here for some time.
The present command is only temporary.
The permanent appointment will be made by Gen. Buell.
I shall be recommended by the brigade commander, and will, I think, be appointed.
It is a very honorable, but very laborious and important position, involving great care and trust.
If I am left here I do not mean to be surprised, or taken without a good, big fight.
The place is strong, and capable of resisting a large force.
If I remain here, I shall have my own regiment, a battery and a squadron of cavalry, besides other details and all convalescents sent here.
When it is decided, and it will be soon, I will let you know, and if I stay, will have you come and make me a visit.
You would not wish to remain long; there is nothing in camp life but what, to say the least of it, is uninviting to any lady.
We have never yet had one in our camp.
In most towns there are comfortable places in the houses of residents, but here there is not one.
All is military here.
No resident of the country is allowed to come within our lines unless he has a written pass, and the country itself is very poor, and almost depopulated.
We have now the hardest kind of living.
No potatoes or butter.
In fact, we have no vegetables but onions, of which we bought a barrel a few days since.
If you could put up a small jar of butter, and seal it, you might have an opportunity to send it.
We are now having very warm, dry weather.
My health is tolerably good, but I am getting very thin.
We shall finish the works here next week, and I shall then know what I am going to do.
I suppose you have seen Surgeon Ewing’s son, Will., and Lieut. Col. Worden.
It is said the latter is to be married; he looked rather yellow for that when he left here.
“Affectionately your husband,
“M. S.”
Supplies from home.
[Extract from letter to Mrs. Shoemaker.]
“Lieut. Slayton came in last night and brought your letter, and all the nice little supplies you so thoughtfully sent me.
They were all very welcome.
Col. Harker, Surgeon Ewing, and Adjutant Culver were present when I opened them.
I said, see what it is to have a good, thoughtful, loving little wife.
I gave Surgeons Ewing and Pratt the collars, and we had a good laugh over them.
Dr. Ewing is wearing his today.
One bottle of the whisky got broken in Lieut. Slayton’s trunk, so there was but one left.
Some of the corn was spoiled, but the cake, sugar, salt, pepper, and two jars of preserves were in good condition.
I am now very busy, but hope in a few days to have moor leisure.
Those collars just fit me and I have one of them on.
The handkerchiefs are being washed; they got stained with the whisky, or something else.”
This extract goes to show, though only in a slight degree, the extent to which we were obliged to depend upon our friends in our distant homes for many of what are considered the necessaries of life, or get along as we could without them.
Captain Palmer and his company “C” were on the 16th detailed to occupy the stockade at the railroad bridge across Crow Creek, west from Stevenson; an exposed and important post.
As it was outside our picket lines the greatest vigilance was necessary to prevent the men from being cut off, or the post surprised by the guerrillas.
On the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th, work was continued on the redoubt and other fortifications by a large force of negroes, mules, carts, and all of my regiment, except such as were detailed for guard and picket duty.
All the stockades and barricades were finished, leaving only the redoubt, upon which the whole force was concentrated.
[Extract from letter to Mrs. Shoemaker.]
“Stevenson, Alabama,
“Sunday, Aug. 16, 1862.
“I have just read for the third time your letter of last Sunday, and although it is “awful” hot, I thought I would write you, as I shall be busy with military matters in the cool of the evening.
It seems quite pleasant to receive a letter from you in the same week that it is written, as that has of late been unusual.
There was a steam saw-mill captured from us by the guerrillas last night within half a mile of our picket-line.
It was a saw-mill used by a detail from the Mechanics and Engineers to get out lumber for a pontoon bridge which General Buell, when acting on the offensive proposed to use in crossing the Tennessee River.
The engineer, three soldiers of that regiment, and four Negros were taken and carried away.
We are surrounded by rebels.
The bushwhackers and guerrillas are all around us, and the confederate army is above (on the river) east and south of us.
One of our men was shot in the hand on Wednesday last when returning from a spring within eighty rods of our picket lines.
Our men are shot down from the roadside whenever there is an opportunity to do so with impunity.
Our camp, the town, and country are full of spies and informers, and the rebels know all about our forces, and our weak points when we have any such.
They are generally cowardly, and don’t want to fight when the numbers and chances are even, but when they can have four or five to one, or when they can shoot from the bushes, then they are “eager for the fray.”
This war promises to become a murderous one, and if the rebels keep up their present system, the country will be desolated wherever our army goes.
“I shall send this letter by Quartermaster Kidder, who goes home.
He has intelligence that his wife is very sick, and probably will not recover.
He has resigned.
He expects to come back to the regiment.
Who is going to be Colonel of the Jackson regiment?
What position does Livermore expect to have?
Tell me all about this regiment, and who of the Jackson folks are in it.
Kiss the babies.
Remember me to your mother, Fred., and all friends.
“Affectionately your husband,
On the 20th I received an order from brigade headquarters to get my regiment in readiness to march with the brigade on the 21st.
This order was issued by mistake, and was countermanded, and an order issued appointing me to the command of the post of Stevenson, Alabama.
There was placed under my command, besides my own regiment, the 5th Indiana Battery, Captain Simonson; four companies of the Michigan Mechanics and Engineers, under command of Lieutenant Colonel Hunton; one company of the 29th Indiana V. I., Captain Casey, and all convalescents at, or to come to the Post able to do military duty.
“Colonel Harker with the other regiments of his brigade, the 64th Ohio, Lieutenant Colonel Young, 65th Ohio, Colonel Ferguson, and 51st Indiana, Colonel Straght, left early in the morning of the 21st of August, 1862 for Bridgeport, and I saw no more of them until the 7th of September, when I rejoined them at Nashville, Tennessee.
I appointed Lieutenant Eaton as Provost Marshal of the Post, and Lieutenant James R. Slayton as Assistant Provost Marshal.
Strict orders were issued to all detachments occupying stockades, guarding bridges, on picket lines, or stationed at any point outside the redoubt to observe the greatest vigilance, and to hold themselves in readiness for action at any moment.
General Don Carlos Buell, commander of the Army of the Cumberland, came in on the railroad on the 21st, from Huntsville.
There came also over one hundred convalescent soldiers from the divisions of Generals Chrittenden and McCook, to remain here in my charge, to be taken care of, and made useful as far as possible.
On the morning of the 22nd, in company with Lieutenant Colonel Hunton, I visited and inspected the entire picket line (which was several miles in extent and completely surrounded Stevenson), the redoubt, stockades, and all points where detachments of troops were stationed, except some at railroad bridges, which were outside the lines.
We found the picket posts all properly placed, and the guards prompt and watchful in the discharge of their duty.
Captains Balch and Sunderlin with the companies under their command were relieved from duty in the stockades and stationed in the redoubt, their places in the stockades being filled from those of the convalescents sent to the post who were able to bear arms.
Captain Simonson was also ordered to place his battery in position in the redoubt so as to be ready for action at any and all times, which was done.
The work on the redoubt and stockades was pressed towards completion as rapidly as possible with the force at my command, mules and carts, which had been impressed in the surrounding country, the troops being now all required for military purposes.
General Buell on being informed of what had been, and what was being done, expressed himself pleased and satisfied with my dispositions, and enjoined the necessity of great care and watchfulness, as the post was liable to be at any time attacked.
The necessity of preserving railroad communication with Huntsville was particularly impressed upon me.
He left with his staff on the 22nd by railroad for Dechard.
On the 23rd we continued to strengthen the fortifications.
While thus engaged I received the following telegram:
No. 1. “Dechabd, August 23, 1862.
“Colonel Shoemaker Commanding: —
Expedite shipment of stores from Stevenson in every possible way, and be ready to evacuate the place at a moment’s notice.
Let Engineers and Mechanics prepare pontoons for burning, and when you leave destroy everything that cannot be brought away. Confidential.
Operator at Stevenson will not let it be known.
“J. B. FRY,
“Colonel and Chief of Staff.”
The situation of officers occupying positions like myself in the Army of the Cumberland was peculiar in this.
Being always confronted by the Confederates, we had no opportunity to obtain information of what was taking place outside of our own immediate command.
We could learn nothing from those with whom we associated, for they were as ignorant as ourselves, and we never saw a northern newspaper less than from a week to ten or twenty days old.
People at home, reading the daily papers, knew infinitely more of the general movements of our army, to say nothing of the others, than did any of the brigade or regimental officers composing it.
As we had been all summer rebuilding burned bridges and repairing railroads torn up by the Confederates, and building fortifications, I had supposed that we were to act on the offensive and advance still further into the Confederacy.
It was, therefore, a great surprise to me when I received the above telegram.
I had no knowledge of the movements of the army of which we formed a part except what I actually saw, and none whatever of those of the Confederate army of Gen. Bragg to which were opposed.
This telegram, therefore, was the first intimation to me of what proved to be the incursion of Gen. Bragg into Kentucky, or that there was any other intention on the part of Gen. Buell than to hold this post, and make it a depot of supplies, as it was situated at the junction of the railroads from Memphis and from Nashville to Chattanooga, Atlanta and Charleston.
I was confirmed in my belief of the permanency of our occupation, by the fact that up to this time there had been large shipments of all kinds of supplies to Stevenson from Nashville and the north, evidently intended for distribution to the forces in the field beyond this point.
Of these there was a large amount that must now be re-shipped or destroyed.
I had under my command at this time over one thousand men, the battery, the companies of the Mechanics and Engineers, besides over a thousand convalescents, most of whom were unable to do military duty.
On the receipt of this telegram (No. 1) I immediately commenced to make arrangements for shipping all the stores and the soldiers who were too sick to be made useful.
On the 24th I dispatched by railroad a large amount of stores and all the convalescent soldiers that were unable to bear arms or unfit for other duty.
Of these there were several hundred.
I continued to work the negroes, mules, and carts in strengthening my position in the redoubt and around the railroad depot.
The following extracts from a letter written to my wife will give the opinion of the situation which I at that time entertained, and which, viewed in the light of subsequent events, proves the correctness of the views I then held.
There never was a more bungling, ill-advised campaign, or one showing such evident want of military ability, and absence of strategical design, or intent, or knowledge, than that dating first from the surprise of our army at Shiloh, and again from the capture of Corinth.
After the battle of Shiloh, if the army had been moved directly forward it could have gone into Corinth without further fighting; for, when finally there, we had the evidence of its citizens that the Confederate army came there completely disorganized, with the exception of one division.
If any effort on our part was made to ascertain the actual state of things it must have been unsuccessful, or our commanders were stunned by the magnitude of the battle which had been forced upon them.
All the indications seemed to show that we had gained a great victory; all the orders under which we acted made it apparent that those in command were still apprehensive of being again attacked, and our movements were those of an army acting on the defensive rather than the offensive; of one that had fought a drawn rather than a victorious battle.
After the capture of Corinth, the Federal army was in sufficient force to have marched through the confederacy in any direction.
All the armies of the west were concentrated there, and formed one grand whole.
It could have marched through the confederacy to any point on the gulf or ocean, and then have swept around to Virginia with greater ease and less opposition than did Sherman before fighting the battles which preceded the capture of Atlanta, some years later.
Instead of moving in a body, the different armies composing the whole (all west of the Alleghenies) , were separated and dispatched in different directions, and the campaign of 1862 in the west came to naught, or worse.
These are not ideas born of subsequent events, but those held at the time, and expressed in letters to Gov. Blair, Mrs. Shoemaker, and others, as the following letter clearly proves:
The Army of the Cumberland spent the summer in the Valley of the Tennessee west of Chattanooga, building bridges, repairing railroads, guarding plantations, protecting cotton stored thereon (of which there was enough when we passed up from Corinth to Stevenson to have paid a good share of the National debt at the close of the war), trying General Turchin by court-martial for making war, and finally in September, ignominiously retreated to Louisville, by forced marches, in order to reach there before it could be occupied by Gen. Bragg and the confederate army, which had been recruiting its strength while our army had been engaged in labor and pursuits that all eventuated to the use and benefit of our enemies.
The bridges, the railroads, the cotton, and the corn, was all, or mostly all, used or destroyed by the confederates after our army, without fighting a battle, was forced to leave the country, and before its return.
“My Dear Wife :—
The troops have all left here, and are leaving, except my regiment, which is in charge of the post.
There is much uncertainty about our future movements, but you will know from the papers what has been done sooner than by my letters.
Communication is now very uncertain, as is everything else.
It looks now as though we were to abandon this country.
We are now one of the extreme outposts, and may see some fighting before we leave.
I will write you as often as I can, but every moment of my time is now taken up by duties.
I have now about one thousand men and four pieces of artillery to garrison this place.
The enemy are said to be in large force in our immediate vicinity.
I have no letter from you for some time; the last date was two weeks today.
Don’t say anything of what I write about military matters.
Sunday night, 25th August, 1862.
They are all in confusion here, and I fear will be worse.
I am writing in the depot.
The army is retreating; Huntsville and that line is abandoned.
Gen. Buell went through here yesterday, and has his headquarters now at Dechard.
“We want good generalship, or our lives if given, will do no good, but only be a useless sacrifice to the cause.
We ought now to be acting on the offensive instead of the defensive.
I hope there will soon be a change of policy, if not of commanders.
“Kiss the children.
I send my love, and think of you every minute.
Will write again as soon as I can.
In haste.
“Yours in love,
“M. S.”
On the 25th, I received the following telegram (No. 2) from Gen. Buell:
“Dechard, August 25, 1862.
“Col. Shoemaker:
Do not let it appear there is any intention of abandoning your post, but be prepared to do so in -case of necessity.
It is desirous to hold your post as long as possible, and it is the intention to do so.
J. B. FRY,
“Col. and Chief of Staff.”
I continued to strengthen my position in every possible manner, both at the redoubt and in and about the town, keeping several hundred negroes and a large number of mules and carts constantly at work.
I allowed no one to know or have cause to suspect that there was any intention of abandoning Stevenson.
From the nature of the work carried on both day and night on the defenses of the place, both citizens and soldiers were led to believe that we meant to “hold the fort.”
Detachments from my command were every day scouring the country to procure supplies, and particularly forage for our animals for which we required a large supply.
We had one hundred and thirty-one horses with Simonson’s battery, and thirteen army wagons with four mules to each, with my regiment making one hundred and eighty-three animals, besides the horses of the officers of which there was between twenty and thirty, giving over two hundred horses and mules to feed.
I today caused water to be hauled into the fort so that we might have a supply in case of emergency.
During the day trains came in from Huntsville, and passed directly through towards Nashville as soon as they could be transferred to the Nashville and Chattanooga railroad.
With them came Judge Lane, Gen. Rosseau, and a large number of others who were evidently leaving the country, including military officers, civilians from the loyal States connected with the army, loyal southern men, and refugees from the Confederate States.
This exodus, taken in connection with the orders I was receiving, forced me to conclude that our labor in the valley of the Tennessee and at Stevenson was all to be not only worthless to our cause, but was to accrue directly to the benefit of the Confederates; and all because the Army of the Cumberland, under Gen. Buell, had spent the summer in repairing railroads, building bridges, and fortifications instead of making real, actual war upon the enemy.
The plantations, the cotton, and the corn of the southern people, however hostile they might have been, had been guarded by Federal troops; and attempts, which I am happy to state were always fruitless, were made under the immediate command of Gen. Buell, to return “fugitive slaves” that had escaped from their masters and sought refuge in our army.
This was the manner in which the gallant Army of the Cumberland was employed, instead of seeking out and dispersing the Confederate forces wherever there was an attempt to concentrate them.
If the campaign of 1862 in the valley of the Tennessee, in the States of Alabama and Georgia, was not intended to give “aid and comfort” to the Confederates, by giving them time and opportunity to recover from the defeat, and disasters of Shiloh and Corinth, it most certainly had that result; for it enabled them to recruit and gather up their forces to such an extent, that at this time they were strong enough to resume the offensive so effectually as to whirl the Federal Army back across the States of Tennessee and Kentucky to Louisville on the Ohio river, and force it to abandon and leave for the use and benefit of the Confederacy all the fruits of its labor since leaving Corinth.
During the day I received from Gen. Buell telegram No. 3 as follows:
“Dechard, August 25, 1862, on the cars.
“Col. Shoemaker:
Send one (1) of your companies to Bridgeport to escort the section of artillery at that place in its march to Stevenson.
The artillery will come up as soon as stores are removed, probably to-morrow.
J. B. FRY,
“Col. and Chief of Staff.”
I now became satisfied that the large quantity of stores in my charge must be removed or they would have to be destroyed, or left for the benefit of the Confederates; and I therefore caused all supplies, stores, and material not necessary for the defense of Stevenson to be shipped as fast as the facilities on the railroad would permit.
The prisoners were sent North under charge of Captain McLaughlin.
Late in the day, I received from General Buell Telegram No. 4, as follows:
“Dechard, August 25, 1862.
“Col. Shoemaker: —
Continue to strengthen your defenses, and be prepared for an obstinate defense.
J. B. PRY,
“Col. and Chief of Staff.”
I caused a further supply of water to be hauled into the fort, and determined to impress more negroes to work on the fortifications.
Those we had were kept at work in relief squads both day and night.
On the 26th of August, I sent four wagons for forage with an escort, with orders to bring in air the negroes they could find, with mules, carts, and tools.
Company E, Captain Webb, formed the escort and guard, and as the day and night passed with Captain Webb absent and no intelligence of his movements, I became quite anxious about the safety of his command.
I knew the country was swarming with guerrillas, but heretofore they had never ventured to attack any of our command sent out for forage or any other purpose; but any soldier wandering from his command, or for any cause found alone, was certain to be cut off, and in almost every instance his fate was unknown to us, but there was almost an absolute certainty that he was foully murdered, and those reported on the rolls as “missing” were seldom if ever again heard of among men.
As the country was undoubtedly by this time well aware of the retrograde movement of General Buell, I feared the guerrillas might have become emboldened, and have gathered in force and ventured to attack Captain Webb, or obstruct his operations.
I had every confidence in the courage and capacity of Captain Webb, which the result justified, for he came in on the 27th with a large supply of forage, mules, carts, and Negroes with “working tools” for all of them.
In compliance with the telegraphic order of General Buell I sent Captain Balch with his Company G to act as escort and guard for two howitzers (section of battery) from Bridgeport to Stevenson.
In marching back, when just east of Bolivar, towards evening, one of the company, not feeling well, fell out of the ranks.
His brother, also a soldier in the company, learning of this, also left the ranks to remain with and look after his brother.
This was all wrong, and ought not to have been allowed, as it was an almost certain sacrifice of the two men.
The sick man, if unable to march, should have been placed on one of the gun carriages and brought in with his company.
There was no danger that the force of Captain Balch, would be attacked, and no necessity for undue haste.
When these facts were reported to me I was highly indignant that these men should have been left under circumstances that most certainly would subject them to the tender mercies of the guerrillas, who were known to be perfectly inhumane in their treatment of stragglers from our ranks, and I determined to send in the early morning a force to bring them in or learn their fate.
I accordingly detailed companies K and I, with one howitzer, under command of Captain Chadwick for this duty.
The captain on his return reported that at the place where the first man left the ranks he found the brother, who last fell out of the ranks, lying on the ground, wounded, where he had been left the day previous, after being stripped of his gun, accoutrements, and most of his clothing.
This man stated that when he came in sight of his brother he was surrounded by guerillas, who fired upon, wounded, and then robbed him, and left, taking his brother with them, after having stripped him also.
The fate of the latter I never ascertained.
He is one of the great army of the “missing.”
The following orders by telegram were received the 26th:
No. 5.] “Dechard, August 26, 1862.
“Col. Shoemaker, Commanding: —
Two (2) trains are to go to Huntsville at daylight.
One of them has three companies of 10th Wisconsin on board.
Distribute these men so as to guard both trains as far as Huntsville.
These companies are to be sent back to Larkinville.
Order them positively to go through to Huntsville with trains.
“J. B. FRY,
“Col. and Chief of Staff.”
The orders were given and the trains dispatched as directed, though it was evident there was apprehension of danger.
Also the following:
No. 6.
“Dechard, August 26, 1862.
“Col. Shoemaker: —
How many animals will you have to feed?
You must get in at once all the forage you can.
Cut the green corn for fodder.
“J. B. FRY,
“Col. and Chief of Staff.”
I replied by telegram that I had 107 horses and 78 mules, and that I could and would procure full supplies of forage.
On the 27th, for the first time, the enemy began to show themselves openly in the vicinity of the fort, and two of the garrison were fired upon by a squad of mounted men within two miles of the town.
One company sent below Widow’s Creek bridge for wood reported the railroad track torn up.
The signs, and they manifested themselves in all quarters, indicated that the confederates were about to commence offensive movements in this quarter, and probably “all along the line,” as a response to the masterly inactivity of our summer campaign.
In the afternoon there came into our lines several fugitive soldiers from Bridgeport, with very conflicting reports, some of them stating that there had been heavy fighting, and that our forces had been defeated.
Others said that the Federal troops had, after gallantly defending their position against superior forces, abandoned the place and retreated across the mountain.
All agreed that Stevenson was now the outpost, and that there were no federal troops between this place and Chattanooga.
These fugitives were all very positive we were soon to be attacked by a large force.
I now thought it unsafe to leave a guard at Widow’s Creek Bridge, as it was in such an exposed position, and so far from support.
Captain Jones, who was, with his company, acting as guard at that stockade and doing picket duty near there, was ordered into camp and stationed inside the fort.
The two howitzers were placed in position on the fortifications inside the fort.
The following telegram was received:
No. 7.
“Dechard, August 27, 1862.
“Col. Shoemaker: —
Direct Col. Hunton (of Mechanics and Engineers to leave one company of Mechanics and Engineers under a good captain, at Stevenson, to do such work as may be required, and give him instructions then to march tomorrow for this place, by the road along the railroad; bring his empty wagons.
The baggage to be left in charge of the company which remains, and to come up by rail when ordered.
“J. B. FRY,
“Col. and Chief of Staff.”
I replied to this by sending a telegram to Gen. Buell, asking him to allow me to keep with my command Col. Hunton and two companies of Mechanics and Engineers, in answer to which I received the following telegram:
“Dechard, August 27, 1862.
“Col. Shoemaker:
Let two companies Engineers remain instead of one, and send one of them with train to repair.
How many convalescent and sick at Stevenson?
“Col. and Chief of Staff.”
The answer to this dispatch I did not preserve or have mislaid, but the company of Mechanics and Engineers were sent as directed, and the number of sick and convalescent, over one thousand, given.
Lieutenant Colonel Hunton with two companies of Mechanics and Engineers remained under my command.
I also received the following telegram
(No. 9):
“Dechard. August 27, 1862.
“Col. Shoemaker: —
A brigade cannot dislodge you.
Hold the place.
The property must be got away.
Let Col. Hunton remain with you.
“J. B. FRY,
“Col. and Chief of Staff.”
I replied to this that “I could and would hold the place against any force that could probably be brought against me.”
I had no doubt of my ability to do so, for I was convinced that the main army of Gen. Bragg was not moving in this direction at all, and I did not believe that any considerable force would be taken from his army (if, as appeared to be the case, he was assuming the offensive) for the purpose of attacking Stevenson.
I did not fear an irregular force, as I felt confident we could hold our own against any of that character which the Confederates could send against us.
The result proved that I was correct.
I had now the fort in an efficient state for defense, with the artillery (Captain Simonson’s Fifth Indiana battery) in position in it, held in constant readiness for use.
The railroad depot buildings and all the houses commanding the approaches to the town had been converted into fortifications.
Stockades had been built on the railroad on both sides of the town.
All these I had been able to fully man by placing in them, with part of my own regiment, the convalescents able to bear arms, which had been sent to me from both up and down the line of the M. & E. railroad.
I now received telegram (No. 10) in the afternoon:
“Dechard. August 27, 1862.
“Col. Shoemaker: —
Take in your guards between Bridgeport and Stevenson, and prepare to defend the latter.
“J. B. FRY,
“Col and Chief of Staff.”
Also the following telegram
(No. 11):
“Dechard. August 27, 18G2.
“Col. Shoemaker:
If there is no special reason to the contrary, let a guard of one company go out carefully on the train in the morning with telegraph repairer to put up line to Huntsville.
See Mr. Chittenden, chief operator.
What news from Bridgeport?
Answer. “J. B. FRY,
“Col. and Chief of Staff.”
I replied that several straggling soldiers had come into Stevenson, bringing conflicting reports.
All agreed that Bridgeport had been at tacked by a large force of Confederates, and most of them claimed that the post bad been abandoned, but what became of the garrison none of them knew.
During the day water and provisions were hauled into the fort.
In the evening Captain Webb and his command returned with a good supply of forage, negroes, mules, and carts.
He had extended his trip farther than was expected when he started, and this had caused him to take more time.
He had neither seen nor heard of any opposing force; had not been molested, but reported that the expression of hostility by the inhabitants was universal.
In compliance with order by telegram (No. 10) I ordered Captain Jones with Company H in from Widow’s creek bridge, and stationed them in the fort.
August 28th.
I did not apprehend that there was any “special reason to the contrary” and therefore sent a company as guard with the cars and telegraph repairers towards Huntsville to put up the line where it had been broken by the guerrillas.
This duty was performed without molestation.
Two of the four companies of Mechanics and Engineers which had remained with me up to this time started this morning, with the transportation of the regiment, but without their baggage or loads of any kind in their wagons.
They went by the wagon road towards Dechard.
In order to ascertain if there was any danger of an immediate attack upon this post, I sent a scouting party composed of two companies towards Battle Creek, who made a reconnaissance to within four miles of Bridgeport, but saw no Confederate forces.
Soldiers from the hospitals, convalescents and sick, had been coming in to my charge by almost every train since the post had been placed under my command, and to-day, again, all those not able to bear arms were sent to Nashville on the railroad, as was also the baggage of General McCook’s division, which had been sent here some time before.
Large quantities of stores and supplies were also shipped to Nashville,—all that could be carried by the cars furnished for that purpose.
In order that I might be prepared as perfectly as possible for any emergency which might arise, I now reorganized my forces.
Captain Palmer and his company (C) were stationed in two stockades on the Huntsville railroad west of the town, the two companies of Mechanics and Engineers in two stockades and a barricaded building on the east side of the town; the convalescents capable of bearing arms were stationed in the depot and other buildings in the town.
To Colonel Hunton, I gave command of the Mechanics and Engineers and convalescents.
My own regiment, and two companies of the 29th Indiana V. I., which had joined my command, were given in charge the picket lines, the fort, and such duty outside the lines as might become necessary.
I also changed the picket lines, drawing them in so that if attacked they could be more readily supported.
I received the following telegram
(No. 12):
“Dechard, August 28th, 1862.
“Colonel Shoemaker, Commanding: —
Send back all train guards at the earliest practicable moment.
“Brig. Gen. Commanding Post.”
I was engaged on the picket lines and with other duties until quite late, and lay down for the night without taking off my clothes; and from this time until I arrived in Nashville, Tenn., on the 6th of September, my clothes were never once taken off, and this not as a matter of choice, but of necessity.
August 29.
I this morning sent two companies under command of Captain Chadwick east on the line of the railroad leading to Chattanooga to reconnoiter.
I was determined not to be taken by surprise, and I knew I could prevent it by keeping parties of observation beyond the picket lines on the route by which any force of the enemy must approach our position.
Late in the afternoon we observed from the fort a heavy cloud of smoke rising evidently in the vicinity of Bolivar, a small place east of us and on the line of march taken by Captain Chadwick.
This I learned was caused by the burning of several houses in that hamlet.
These houses, five or six of them, were, I have no doubt, burned by some of the men of the scouting party that went out in the morning under command of Captain Chadwick, although they all, so far as I could ascertain, denied committing the act, and if done by them, was against my positive order.
I was very particular in charging all officers and soldiers sent into the country, for any purpose whatever, to carefully abstain from interfering with, or in any manner injuring the inhabitants, either in person or property, any further than was absolutely necessary to carry out the orders under which the expedition was acting.
Commands sent for forage, Negroes, or any other supplies were instructed to use such force as was necessary to procure them, but to carefully abstain from all outrage, or any unnecessary violence; and this was the only instance in which my orders were disobeyed.
I have no doubt but Bolivar was burned by soldiers of Captain Chadwick’s command, and I think with his knowledge if not consent.
My entire command had for some time been satisfied that its inhabitants were not only acting as spies, but also as guerrillas, and to them, I believe correctly, was ascribed the outrage committed on the 26th on the two brothers of Captain Batch’s command.
It was to avenge the treatment of these men, in all probability that caused their comrades to fire the houses of those they believed to be guilty of that cowardly and inhuman act.
Captain Chadwick, and the other officers who were out with him, would never admit that any of his command fired the houses, but some of them must have done so, for there were no other parties who could have done it.
Captain Chadwick and his command returned late in the afternoon.
The captain reported that he had seen no confederate force, nor any sign of any.
He went to within four miles of Bridgeport.
All of the commissary stores, and what was remaining at Stevenson of the baggage of Gen. McCook’s division, was to-day shipped by railroad to Nashville.
Negroes and whites of the country.
I still kept the Negroes and carts at work on the fort and stockades.
The Negroes worked willingly and faithfully.
If there was any one thing which they appeared to fear more than all else, it was that the Federal forces would leave the country, and that they would be remanded to the tender mercies of their masters.
The Negroes were not only industrious and faithful workmen, but were also most useful, and in fact, our only trustworthy spies.
The information obtained from them, when they were where they dare speak freely, could almost always be depended upon.
That obtained from the whites was always intended to deceive or mislead, when they thought by giving it they could lead the Federal troops into danger or make them trouble of any kind.
Each and every one of them would travel fast and far to carry information to the Confederate forces when they thought advantage could be taken of it.
So well convinced was I of this that, after the 23rd of August.
I refused to permit any person living in Stevenson to pass outside the picket lines, or anyone outside to come within, without a written permit signed by the provost marshal or myself, and this liberty was given in but few instances, and only where we were satisfied that no advantage could be taken of it.
The following telegram was received from General Buell who still had his headquarters at Dechard (No. 13):
“Dechard, August 29, 1862.
“Colonel Shoemaker—confidential:
Trains will go to Huntsville to-morrow to bring over the last stores from that place.
When they arrive at Stevenson tomorrow night have Simonson’s Battery loaded on the cars, and also all the baggage there is at Stevenson, and send all the trains up together.
The horses with harness of Simonson’s Battery and your regiment must come here by land, and you should start if possible, before daylight on the morning of the 31st.
“Direct Major Hall, 37th Indiana, to prepare a note for each of his detachments on the line, telling them to march to the North along the road, and let these notes be delivered by the last train.
Be particular on this point, as the guards must not leave until the last train passes, and that train should take the baggage of the guards.
Old tents should be destroyed.
If Major Hall is not at Stevenson some other officer must see to this.
It is the intention to evacuate the place and leave nothing to fall into the enemy’s hands which would be useful.
The pontoons should be fired just before you start.
No locomotives or cars should be allowed to fall into their hands.
“J. B. FRY,
“Col. and Chief of Staff.”
Major Hall was at Stevenson, and I gave him a copy of as much of this message as related to his command.
I had supposed until I received this telegram, that it was the intention of General Buell to hold Stevenson, as it was at the junction of the Memphis and Charleston, and Nashville & Chattanooga Railroads, and we had built here a fort, an earthwork of considerable strength.
I knew the army was moving north, but did not think the country was to be entirely abandoned.
In order that I might be better prepared to act under these orders I visited the picket lines and again changed them, bringing them nearer the town and fort, after which I received the following telegram (No. 14):
“Decharn. August 29th, 1862.
“Colonel Shoemaker:
Guards of one company for each train must be sent with the trains which go to Huntsville.
Use Mechanics and Engineers for that purpose.
“J. B. FRY,
“Col. and Chief of Staff.”
There came into our lines to-day a gentleman about 35 or 40 years of age, who asked to be taken to the officer in command.
He was taken to the Provost Marshal, Lieut. Eaton, of whom he asked to see me as the commanding officer, at the same time refusing, or rather declining to answer any questions.
I saw him, when he requested to be sent with as little delay as possible to the headquarters of Gen. Buell; and he professed to have important information which he could only impart to him (Gen. Buell).
He declined to give his name, was much agitated, and evidently laboring under considerable apprehension of danger from some quarter.
When he first saw our flag (the stars and stripes) he shed tears, and said it was the first time his eyes rested upon it for eighteen long, weary months.
He was evidently a gentleman of culture and standing.
Although I doubted his sincerity, I decided to comply with his request, and he was sent at once in charge of an officer to the headquarters of Gen. Buell, wherever that might be.
Who he was or what important information he communicated I have never learned; but if he was a sincere Union man, he was, in my belief, the only southern man I ever saw in southern Tennessee, Mississippi, or Alabama while I was in the service that was sincere in his profession of loyalty.
There were but few that made any such profession, and those we had uniformly found to be spies or informers.
The feeling of loyalty to the Confederacy, and not only disloyalty to, but hatred for the Union, was simply universal; and towards our army there was with the entire population, men, women, and children, a feeling of deadly hostility.
This was shown whenever there was an opportunity to cut off a single man or a small detachment.
While on the march we were constantly watched, and any man falling out of the rank from fatigue or any other cause, if left behind, was certain to be cut off.
My opportunities of judging of the temper and disposition of the people were exceptionally good, as my command was most of the summer of 1862 detached from the main line of the army, so that I was brought into direct communication with the inhabitants, particularly at Iuka, Bear Creek, Town Creek, and Stevenson.
We were also at Tuscumbia, Decatur, and Mooresville, and in fact, I may say that my facilities for obtaining information were good from Corinth to Chattanooga.
As a source of satisfaction to myself I felt deeply interested in learning as correctly as possible, the feelings and sentiments of the southern people, and I never lost an opportunity for obtaining information either from men, women, or Negroes.
I visited houses near all our encampments, and as far as possible took great care to make, the acquaintance of the residents in the vicinity of those stations where we remained any number of days.
The convictions to which I give expression are the result of mature deliberation.
I do not think it at all discreditable to our southern brethren that they should believe according to the light in which they were educated, but in common with all in our army, I detested the spirit which led to murder and guerrilla warfare.
From the time we left Salt river, in Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama, I found that Confederate money was taken in preference to greenbacks, and in southern and eastern Tennessee and in Mississippi, the money of the Federal States would not be received at all in payment.
This was almost universally the case after we left Nashville on our march to Shiloh.
In Mississippi and Alabama there were no exceptions.
The inhabitants would not sell us anything at all, for any kind of money, if they could avoid doing so, but if they felt compelled to do so they invariably asked two or three prices, and would then only take Confederate money in payment.
There could be no more certain indication of, not only the feelings of the people, but also of their belief in the ultimate success of the Confederate cause than their preference for Confederate, and their absolute refusal to take the national currency.
It was useless to point out to them that if the Confederacy should succeed in becoming a separate nation, yet still the greenbacks would be good as against the loyal States.
No, they would have none of them.
They did not want any “yankee money,” and that the Confederate States would succeed in the war, and of the value of the Confederate money they never, at this time, allowed themselves to doubt.
Until after our arrival at Stevenson all supplies taken in the country for the army were paid for and at all times, before and after, the officers paid for all such supplies as they procured in the country.
Dr. Mandeville was stationed at Stevenson to assist in taking care of the sick and convalescent.
There were many of both classes at Steven son all of the time, although we were sending all able to be transported, and not able to bear arms, to Nashville as fast as we could get cars.
They were also coming to us every day by every train.
Dr. Mandeville had been ordered away, and I requested of General Buell, by telegram, that he might be allowed to remain with me and received the following answer (“So. 15):
“Dechard, August 29, 1862.
“Colonel Shoemaker: Dr. Mandeville can remain until further orders.
“R. Murray.
“Surgeon U.R.A. Med. Div.”
I also received this important dispatch from General Buell (No. 16):
“Dechard, August 29th, 1862.
“Colonel Shoemaker:
Send all baggage wagons of your command here by the road along the railroad, starting at daylight tomorrow, and be ready to move with the troops at a moment’s notice.
Send Engineer companies as escort for wagons, or if they are not with you, send two of your companies.
“J. B. FRY,
“Col. and Chief of Staff.”
To obey this order would cause me to divide and weaken my force, and endanger both divisions if attacked, I therefore decided to ask General Buell to rescind this order, and sent him the following telegram:
“Stevenson, Alabama”
August 29th, 1862.
“Colonel J. B. Fry. A. A. Gen. and Chief of Staff:
Our teams are constantly employed.
Captain Simonson says he will need four, and can send but two.
I must use five.
That would leave, including ambulances, less than half to go, and would weaken my force two companies.
I think I can feed all the animals by stripping green corn, and would prefer to keep my force together.
Can I do so?
“Col. Commanding Post.”
To this I received the following answer (No. 18):
“Dechard, August 29, 1862.
“Colonel Shoemaker:
If you think best, keep all your wagons and bring them with the regiment.
They must come empty or with light loads.
“J. B. FRY,
“Col. and Chief of Staff.”
By a determined effort on my part, and much extra work of my helpers I succeeded in shipping today to Nashville all the commissary stores remaining at Stevenson and the baggage of McCook’s division.
August 30.
The picket lines were disturbed at several different points the past night by the approach of scouting parties of the Confederates and spies who were evidently attempting to ascertain the number and location of our forces.
The picket guard wounded a Confederate captain, who succeeded in making his escape, but the guard captured his body servant, a remarkably bright, intelligent, good looking mulatto.
He declared that he knew nothing of any force of the enemy in our immediate vicinity.
The events of the morrow proved his fidelity to his master, as he was undoubtedly endeavoring to deceive us.
In the morning I visited the picket lines quite early, and charged the officers in command to act with great care and caution, to observe and report the appearance of any force, or of single individuals in the neighborhood of the lines.
On my return we commenced to move the provisions and ammunition out of the fort, preparatory to its abandonment.
I made such disposition of the means at my command that it enabled me to send away everything of value.
Received from General Buell the following telegram:
“Dechard, August 30th, 1862.
“Colonel Shoemaker:
You will put caissons on the cars, and start them in the morning, but retain the guns to march with you.
The gun chests should be filled with shells, not solid shot.
In case the trains should not get through from Huntsville tomorrow, you will hold your position until night, and then march with your whole force, unless you know by delay you can cover their movement, and if opposed force your way through.
“Colonel Chapin will be Instructed to wait until ten o’clock tomorrow for the train, and then force his way to you with what detachments he can pick up on the road.
“You may not have any trouble, but prudence and resolution will carry you through in any event.
Put your baggage on the cars, so as to move light.
Keep the horses and harnesses of the caissons to help your guns over the mountains.
“I will send two battalions of cavalry down tomorrow to meet you.
Colonel Chapin’s regiment will march with you, and the train must take up the bridge guards this side of Stevenson.
D. C. Buell,
“Major General Commanding.”
On Sunday morning, August 30, 1862, I caused all the baggage, commissary stores, sick and convalescent soldiers remaining at Stevenson to be loaded on the cars, and started on the railroad towards Nashville, Tennessee.
The caissons were also sent at the same time, and the only ammunition kept with us was the shells the artillery could store in the chests of the guns of the battery, and what the soldiers could carry in their cartridge boxes.
We had quite a number of prisoners, part of whom were regarded as military and part as civilians.
These were all sent to Gen. Buell by railroad in charge of Captain McLaughlin and Lieut. Dunbar.
The civilians were mostly residents of the vicinity whom I had caused to be arrested from time to time for acting as spies, and being in secret communication with the Confederate military authorities, to whom they made known our strength and all our movements.
Some of the prisoners complained bitterly at being sent from their homes and families.
To these Captain Eaton, Provost Marshal, most pertinently replied that their action and that of others like them had taken us from our homes and families, and brought us over a thousand miles and yet, with so much more cause, we did not complain.
About 8 o’clock A.M. and before the arrival of any trains from Huntsville, I was informed by some of our scouts that there was a force of Confederate cavalry making a demonstration on the Bolivar and Bridgeport road.
I immediately sent out Captain Slayton with Company I, and Captain Simonson with two pieces of artillery to reconnoiter, with directions to check an advance on that road, if any was attempted, and ascertain the number of the forces of the enemy as nearly as possible.
Captains Slayton and Simonson were both on horseback, and were accompanied, besides their command, by some twenty or more mounted men, volunteers, of whom fourteen were of Simonsons’ battery on artillery horses, and the others, except Lieutenant-Colonel Hunton, officers of my regiment.
A short distance outside of our picket line and about one mile east of the town, they saw a force of cavalry in a small grove of woods directly on the road.
Captain Simonson immediately opened fire on them with his two pieces of artillery.
A few shells exploding among them caused their retreat without offering any resistance.
They were immediately pursued by our volunteer cavalry, who, charging at full speed through the woods, found that their hot haste almost precipitated them on to a brigade of Confederate infantry, supported by a battery of artillery and a troop of cavalry, drawn up in order of battle on the open ground and crossing the road.
They were in such close proximity that our volunteers were in imminent danger of being surrounded and their retreat cut off; but they promptly took in the situation, and before the enemy had time to act, after seeing how small was the force which was so bravely rushing through the woods, our impromptu cavalry turned, retreated and were saved from capture by the speed of their horses.
They all succeeded in reaching the ground occupied by our artillery, which again opened fire on the advancing foe, and checked the pursuit.
All this was immediately reported to me, and I dispatched another company of infantry, with orders to hold the position as long as possible, to advise me if more support was necessary, and I would send it to them at once.
The road on which they were stationed and defending was that leading directly to the depot, and if the Confederates succeeded in advancing upon it they would prevent the transfer of trains from Huntsville to the Nashville railroad.
After a lively cannonade of an hour the enemy ceased firing, drew off their forces to the left or south, and we had accomplished our object in forcing them to take a position, in making any further attack upon us, most favorable for the accomplishment of the objects we had in view.
The Confederates now approached the fort from the southwest, planting their battery and displaying their forces in the cleared field in that direction, opened quite a lively fire with their artillery on both the fort, and the town.
The two companies of infantry, and two pieces of artillery, were now ordered to return, and placed inside the fort.
They had acted with great gallantry, and rendered service of the utmost value by the tenacity with which they held their position in the face of a force so greatly superior.
They had caused the enemy to abandon the direct road to Stevenson, and swerve to the left or south, thereby not only preserving our railroad connections from immediate danger, but also protecting our line of retreat, which would have been greatly endangered, if not cut off, had the Confederates made good their advance directly upon the town, which, with the number and composition of their forces, they ought to and might have done.
The commander of the enemy did not bring his forces within range of our muskets, but Captain Simonson kept up a continuous fire on them from his battery in the fort with good effect.
They changed the position of their battery several times, and there was at intervals a good deal of confusion apparent in their ranks.
This artillery engagement was general and active from ten A.M. until about four P.M., without any loss on our side, as their balls and shells generally passed over the fort.
They had our range correctly, but did not well calculate the distance.
I do not know what loss the enemy suffered from the guns of Captain Simonson, but judge it must have been quite considerable, or they would not have been so wary or so dilatory in their movements.
The manner in which the Confederate gunners handled their artillery reflected anything but credit upon them, as it would hardly seem possible for a full battery to pound away steadily for six hours and inflict so little damage as we suffered.
There was not one man killed or wounded, no gun dismounted, and our stockades and other fortifications were not injured.
Some damage was done to several houses in Stevenson, into which they threw a portion of their shells, probably with the intention of destroying our railroad communications, but they failed in this, and “nobody was hurt.”
Soon after three o’clock the trains came in on the railroad from Huntsville with the Tenth Wisconsin Infantry, some refugees and others fleeing to the North.
I now sent a telegram to Brigadier General Soay Smith, giving him the state of affairs and telling him that I had no doubt of my ability to hold the place against the force operating against me, if such was the wish of General Buell.
The following telegram (No. 22) :
“Dechard, August 31, 1862.
“Col. Shoemaker:
Withdraw in good order, keep your artillery in advance preceded by skirmishers.
Use your artillery whenever you can, if the enemy pursues.
No cavalry has been sent.
In obedience to this order I now commenced to withdraw from the fort and town.
The trains on the railroad, four of them, after those from Huntsville were transferred to the Nashville railroad, were sent off with all the remaining stores, baggage, caissons, the convalescent and weak men – all those not able to make a forced march.
The latter were placed in charge of Dr. Foster Pratt, Assistant Surgeon, who went with them to Nashville, Surgeon Alexander Ewing remaining with me.
On the retreat, the Tenth Wisconsin took the advance, the place of safety, and the easiest on the march, and kept it until we rejoined the rest of our forces at Tallahoma, although at Tantallan it should have taken the rear.
This Col. Chapin declined to do, claiming priority of rank and the right to do as he pleased; and from that point to Tallahoma he pressed his regiment through without paying the slightest attention to those in his rear.
He acted as if very apprehensive of an attack, and as desirous of avoiding one if made.
His course in dividing the command would have placed the artillery and my regiment at great disadvantage if we had been attacked in crossing the mountain between Cowan and Tallahoma.
I was so indignant at his conduct that I thought seriously of preferring charges against him.
Next in line of march on the retreat I placed our wagons, all being without loading of any kind.
The artillery came next, and the better to conceal our movements, one gun of the battery was discharged, then taken from its position in the fort and placed in the line of march, when another was discharged and treated in the same manner, and in this way the fire on the Confederates was kept up until everything was in readiness for the march, when the last gun was fired, taken from the fort, and the march began about 5 o’clock P. M., the 13th Regiment, Michigan V. I., bringing up the rear and being the last regiment of Gen. Buell’s army to leave Alabama.
In the meanwhile the enemy had not ventured within musket shot, and had been easily kept in check by our artillery.
Had the Confederate force which made this feeble attack upon Stevenson, instead of so doing, occupied the railroad at any point between that place and Tantallan, it would have placed us in a very critical position, being as we were, in a hostile country, and it is doubtful if we could have forced our way through, as it would have involved the necessity of our attacking them in a position of their own selection, for we could only cross the mountains by a certain road, and to have reached this we would have to fight with superior numbers with the advantages all in their favor.
The Confederates could also, by tearing up a portion of the track of the railroad, have captured at least four trains of cars loaded with valuable stores, which left Stevenson not more than two hours before we marched out of the fort.
Instead, however, of opposing our retreat, the Confederates by their action appeared to be desirous to facilitate our departure from the country.
The road from Stevenson, north, runs around the foot of a high mountain in the immediate vicinity of the town.
Soon after we had passed around the end of this mountain the cavalry of the enemy appeared in force in our rear in pursuit.
In order to check any further attempt to molest our retreat I determined to give them a reception so warm that it would probably free us from further molestation.
I accordingly placed Company B in ambush on the side of the mountain, among the bushes, a few rods from the road, with orders to wait until the rear rank of the enemy was opposite them, and then open on them with a fire as rapid and fatal as possible.
I also ordered Captain Slayton, who commanded the rear guard to attack them as soon as the company in ambush should commence to fire, and informed him that he would be supported by my entire command if necessary.
As the Confederates advanced, and before they were fully abreast of Company B, one of the men fired without orders, and prematurely, which was followed by a volley from the whole company, when a number of the enemy, reported at eleven, were seen to fall from their saddles, and their entire force, estimated at two hundred, wheeled about, and retreated with the utmost precipitation.
We were no more troubled by them, or their support, and saw no other Confederate force under arms on our retreat to Tallahoma, Murfreesboro, and Nashville.
We destroyed the first bridge we crossed and continued our march until about three o’clock A. M., when we reached Anderson’s Station, on the railroad, where we bivouacked with the other forces.
In this skirmish at Stevenson we succeeded by skillful management, rather than by hard fighting, in accomplishing all we desired; for notwithstanding the attack of a large force, estimated at four times our numbers, we held them at bay for nine hours, during which time there was a heavy and continuous cannonade, and finally retreated from the fort and town, after the transfer and dispatch of all the railroad trains, without the loss of a man, animal, wagon, or any of the large amount of commissary stores which had been entrusted to my charge while in command at Stevenson.
On the march to Anderson Station we lost a four-horse ambulance, which, the night being intensely dark, got out of the road, and rolled down the mountain, on the steep side of which we were marching.
From this, the nature of the road on which we were making our retreat may be judged.
We were accompanied on our march from Stevenson by the entire negro force which had been working for us on and about the fortifications, and by all others who had come into the town while occupied by our forces.
There were among them as many women and children as men, and some of the most unpleasant scenes of the war were in witnessing the painful but determined efforts and struggles of some very old negroes, or of some mother with a whole brood of children, to keep with us on the march, and avail themselves of the protection of our troops, hoping thereby to attain their freedom.
How fruitless were their sufferings will presently appear.
There must have been with us at this time more, than one thousand negroes, of all ages, sexes, and conditions.
Anderson’s Station, and on the march.
Sept. 1.
In the morning at Anderson’s Station we found that the engine of the last train had run off the track the previous evening, and was still in that condition, thereby blocking two trains, and rendering them liable to capture.
The want of proper tools made the task of replacing the engine on the track a difficult one.
The 10th Wisconsin were immediately at work at it, and continued their efforts without success until noon.
I then proposed to have Lieut. Col. Hunton with his Mechanics and Engineers take sole charge of it.
This was done, and they soon had the engine on the rails, and about two o’clock P. M. both trains started for Nashville.
In the morning, when I found that we were to be detained for some time.
I ordered Captain Slayton to march towards Stevenson and reconnoiter, to see if any force was following us.
On his return at noon Captain Slayton reported having seen some troops advancing, who on seeing his company moving towards them, turned and retreated rapidly.
While at Anderson’s Station I received the following telegram;
(No. 23):
“Dechard, 1st Sept., 1862.
“Col. Shoemaker:
Hurry your march with all diligence, night and day.
Bring everything with you if possible.
“Brig. Gen.”
As soon as the trains on the railroad moved off we resumed our march, and proceeded about twelve miles to Tantallan, at the foot of the Cumberland Mountains, near the southern end of the tunnel on the Nashville & Chattanooga railroad, where we bivouacked.
Here one of my legs that was injured by being pressed between my horse and that of another officer, but neither that nor the one injured at Stevenson by the falling of my horse caused me much pain or inconvenience until after this time.
On the morning of the 2nd of September we commenced our march up the Cumberland Mountains, with six pieces of artillery and all our transportation (wagons and ambulances), over a road which, as we were told, had not been traversed by a wagon for eight years, or since the completion of the tunnel.
The ascent was steep, and in places not only difficult but perilous for our artillery and wagons, and not at all pleasant for officers on horseback or soldiers on foot.
The soil in the road, what little there had been, was all washed out, and it was not unusual to find a perpendicular rise of two feet in the rock crossing the road, and from this down to a bed of boulders, but after a toilsome march we arrived at the summit without accident or loss of any kind, except the breaking of the tongue of one of our wagons, and the loss of time in replacing it with a sapling cut by the roadside, by which we saved the wagon.
We found this wagon to be back in great service before morning.
At the summit we struck a traveled road, and the descent was made with comparative ease.
The distance is about ten miles, and we arrived at Cowan, at the foot of the mountains on the north side, at 2 P.M.
In crossing the mountain the line of march of the command became very much stretched out or lengthened, as all will understand who have ever marched any distance with troops; every obstruction, detention, or halt serving to throw the rear command still further behind.
My regiment brought up the rear, and as the 10th Wisconsin and Simonson’s battery did not halt for the whole command to close up, as they should have done, either at the brow or foot of the mountains, or at Dechard, we were left a long way behind.
When we reached Cowan, both the 10th Wisconsin and Simonson’s battery were out of sight.
I sent an orderly forward to them, requesting them to halt, and wait until we could close up, but they returned for answer that Gen. Smith had left Dechard, and given orders for them to march without delay, day and night, until they joined him, and that they should not wait for us, Captain Simonson adding that “self-preservation was the first law of nature.”
I was satisfied that they were unnecessarily alarmed, and if they were justified in fearing an attack, I was indignant at their pusillanimity in thus dividing the forces, and abandoning my regiment.
I did not believe there was any danger, but I knew that if the Confederates should place any force on our line of march it would be much safer for our forces to remain united than to march a detachment at a time, and that too, with the battery entirely unsupported and unprotected, except by the few men attached to it.
Judging from their hot haste it would appear that they were badly scared, if not panic struck, and that without cause; for we had seen no force of the enemy since the day we left Stevenson, and there was no evidence of any being in our vicinity.
My regiment, officers and men, were free in expressing their indignation at what they considered an unmanly desertion, and had I complied with their wishes I would have brought the conduct of Col. Chapin and Captain Simonson to the notice of Gen. Buell, but I gave it no further attention.
At Cowan I determined to halt, and refresh my men, and put them in better order for whatever we had to encounter, but I was fully satisfied in my own mind that it was nothing more than a long and fatiguing march.
I now ordered my wagons, which were in advance, to halt and wait until we joined them, which we did about two miles south of Dechard, in a pleasant grove, where we remained until our men were all in, and had partaken of such rations as we could command.
When we were ready to resume the march, I placed a wagon in charge of the captain of each company with orders that as the men became too weary to march they were to be placed in the wagons to ride, but that all such were to resume the march again as soon as sufficiently rested, so as to allow others to take their places in the wagons, and charged them to see to it that this was done in such manner that none should be left behind who should be unable to keep with their command on the march.
Many of the officers were quite active in impressing, and appropriating to the service of the government, all the horses, mules, and jacks on the route, so that when we arrived at Tullahoma most of them were mounted.
After completing my arrangements and giving my men a good rest, we started, and were enabled to continue our march to Tullahoma without making another halt.
I not only brought in all my own men, but also picked up a number of the 10th Wisconsin that had dropped out of their line from fatigue.
We reached Tullahoma after midnight, having marched from Tantallan in twenty hours, a distance of thirty-six miles, which included the crossing of the Cumberland Mountains; of itself a full and most difficult day’s march.
At Tullahoma I found Brig. Gen. Wm. Soay Smith with his division, to whom I immediately reported my arrival.
He said he had given us up as captured, and expressed himself as being greatly pleased with my conduct and management, by which I had not only saved my own command but also all of the valuable property at Stevenson, which had been in store for the army.
The first words of Gen. Smith on my entering his quarters were, “My God! Shoemaker, is that you?
I never expected to see you again; I feared you and your regiment had been captured.”
The effect of this march was important, if not serious to me, as the long continuance on horseback, with the injuries my legs had received, the one at Stevenson, and the other at Tantallan, and having now worn my boots without drawing them off for several days and nights, caused my legs to swell so as to fill my large military boots, and they became at the same time painful almost beyond endurance, feeling as though they were being pierced by thousands of needles.
After leaving Gen. Smith, I met Major Fox of the Mechanics and Engineers, who took me to his tent, where I drew my boots for the first time since the 28th of August, and got what rest I could without removing any other portion of my attire.
The action of my command at Stevenson, and in rejoining the army, did not attract the attention it deserved, or otherwise would have done, from the fact that we were in the rear of the retreating army of Gen. Buell, and was unknown except to our superior officers, to whom we made our official reports.
Gen. Buell gave us full credit for our good conduct, but he was soon after removed from the command of the Army of the Cumberland, so that he had no opportunity to do us justice.
The retreat of Gen. Buell, and the advance of Gen. Bragg, endangering as it did, our supremacy in Tennessee and Kentucky, absorbed the interest of the public, and caused all minor actions to be overlooked, when not in the immediate front, and where no special effort was made to bring them before the public.
The number, frequency, and matter of the telegrams sent me by Gen. Buell, prove not only the importance of our position, but also the service we rendered in holding the town and fort until all the trains, persons, and property were removed.
We were left at Stevenson not only to secure the property and railroad connection, but also to mask his movements with the main army, and continued there until we were looked upon as a sort of forlorn hope.
That we did not share the usual fate of one was simply because we met circumstances as they arose with a determination to maintain ourselves wherever we were until we could get out without loss.
We continued with Gen. Smith and left Tullahoma the following morning, the 3rd of September.
In leaving Tullahoma, all the negroes were, by command of Gen. Smith, turned outside our lines, and refused the further protection of our army.
This action of Gen. Smith I thought as unjust as it was unnecessary; for they asked for no help, but simply to march under our protection.
Many of them had done us good service at Stevenson; they relied, as they had good reason to do, upon us to give them a chance for freedom and liberty, and I was very sorry to see them deprived of it; but I do not know that Gen. Smith should be held responsible for this action, as he was simply carrying out the policy of Gen. Buell (his commander), while in command of the Army of the Cumberland.
Gen. Buell not only refused to protect fugitive slaves, but frequently ordered the camp to be searched for them for delivery to their owners.
I think Gen. Buell was one of our most able military commanders, but he either failed to understand the magnitude of the contest, or else was too much in sympathy with the Confederates.
Whatever the cause, he was too much of a “tender-foot” for the occasion and the times, and was very properly relieved of all command in the Federal armies.
Had all the commanders of all of our armies been allowed to treat the slaves as General Fremont proposed to do in Missouri, and the southwest, the rebellion would have been crushed in a year, and hundreds of thousands of lives, and an untold amount of suffering saved on both sides.
If the slaves coming to our lines, or rendering us service, had been protected, and advanced their freedom, the good result would soon have been apparent in such an exodus, and demonstration in our favor, as would have rendered the Confederacy powerless for resistance.
By turning them from our lines we taught them to mistrust us, and this induced them to remain contented on the plantations when almost the entire white male population of the south was in the armies of the Confederacy.
When finally we did offer them their freedom, which early in the war they would have earned for themselves if they had been permitted to do so, they feared to act, as our previous action justified them in doing, and failed to render as efficient service as they would have done had they been treated differently the first years of the war.
Here, with us, were men, women, and children, who had been working faithfully for us at Stevenson, asking nothing but to be allowed to follow us, protected from molestation, and this was mercilessly refused; when to have extended it would have required no action on our part.
All that was necessary was to let it be understood that we would not allow them to be seized and carried away.
These people were in a more pitiable condition than they would have been had they rendered us no service, for they would now be more cruelly treated by their masters or others who seized them than they would have been had they not been laboring for us at Stevenson.
After leaving Tullahoma on the morning of the 3d of September, we marched until 1 o’clock A.M. on the 4th, when we halted for two hours for rations and rest; then resuming our march and continuing until 2 o’clock A.M. on the 5th, when we reached Murfreesboro, where we joined another part of the army.
Here we were allowed to rest until noon, when the army was again put in motion on the line of march for Nashville, where we arrived on Saturday, the 6th of September, 1862, at two A. M.
I now, with my regiment, joined the division of Gen. Wood, from which we separated at Mooresville, Alabama, on the 18th of July.
I made a brief report in writing of our action at Stevenson, and sent it to Gen. Buell, as I was then acting directly under his command.
As an evidence of the incessant manner in which we were occupied, and of the fatigue we underwent, I would state that up to the time of our arrival at Nashville I had not once taken off my clothes since the Thursday of the week previous; that is, from the 28th of August to the 5th of September, and every night after Sunday, the day we left Stevenson, for the few hours’ rest we could take we lay down wherever we bivouacked, without tents or covering of any kind.
Most of the time we were without provisions, and we supplied ourselves in such manner as we best could.
After leaving Tantallan my legs commenced swelling, and every day would swell until they filled my large military boots so that it was difficult to draw them; and an impression made in the swelling, as a dent with the finger, would remain for an hour or more.
The swelling would subside when I was in a recumbent position, but as soon as I mounted my horse would again commence, and was always accompanied with a prickling sensation over the entire surface, which made the pain almost intolerable; but from which on this march there was no escape, and no opportunity to apply any remedy.
I have never suffered as much, physically, as during the march from Tantallan to Nashville.
Surgeon Ewing expressed himself as quite apprehensive of the effect of the condition of my limbs, and said that if I continued to ride on horseback there was great danger that from dropsy, or erysipelas, my legs would become permanently diseased, and perhaps endanger my life; when, with rest and prompt medical treatment I would soon recover, and be as well as ever.
He insisted on presenting my situation to General Buell and did so in person.
General Buell granted me leave of absence for thirty days, and I left Nashville Sunday night, of the day of my arrival, by stage for Franklin, Kentucky, for home; which, however, I was only destined to reach after a series of adventures and by way of Richmond, Virginia, and Libby Prison.
Near Tyree Springs the stage was surrounded by guerrillas, I was captured and taken to the headquarters of Generals Bragg, and Hardee, near Carthage, on the Cumberland River, from there to Knoxville, Richmond, and home after a short sojourn in Libby Prison.
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By far the most conspicuous object in the Island of Mackinac is the old fort which overhangs so protectingly the village below.

The thick stone and earth walls, the three old block houses, built, according to the cards upon the doors, in 1780, the old buildings within the enclosure, all force the attention of the visitor, resident or tourist, to the age of the structure, but to few is known even the name, much less anything of the career of its creator.

In the extreme northeast of Scotland lies the shire or county of Caithness; a large part of it low and boggy, it rises toward the south and west, and contains but three streams of any size, the Wickwater and the Forss and Thurso Rivers.

Most of the coast line is rocky and forbidding and good harbors are few.

Near the northeast corner is John O’Groat’s house, and south of that along the East Coast is a large bay called Sinclair’s Bay.

For several centuries the name Sinclair or St. Clair-they are in reality the same, the latter being nearer to the original Norman form-has been the leading one in Caithness; the first earl of Caithness, created in 1455, being Sir William Sinclair.

From this shire, forbidding in its natural aspects, but like so many other places in Scotland, furnishing an abundant supply of young, energetic, capable and courageous men, came Patrick Sinclair, the subject of this sketch, of interest to Michigan, not alone because of his connection with Mackinac, but because he was the first man to establish a permanent foothold in the way of occupation, erecting buildings and cultivating land along St. Clair River.


This noble river should today bear the name of Sinclair as it did for many years a century ago.

The present name is derived from Arthur St. Clair, first governor of the Northwest Territory, the original name passing gradually through forgetfulness of the one and growing importance of the other to its present form.

It is a curious fact that both Arthur St. Clair and Patrick Sinclair were born in the same year in the county of Caithness, within twenty-five miles of each other, and they were undoubtedly distantly related.

Whatever the cause, temperament, roving disposition, hard and forbidding material conditions at home, certain it is that Scotchmen have proved through centuries the mainstay of British enterprise and glory in foreign lands, and Scotch soldiers and explorers have done much to extend England’s domains.

Patrick Sinclair mas born in 1736 at Lybster, a small hamlet on the east coast of Caithness about 11 miles southeast of Wick, the chief town of the County, and was the half son and oldest of four children of Alexander who had married a connection in the person of Amelia Sinclair, the daughter of another Alexander Sinclair.

His father was the fourth Sinclair of Lybster and the name Patrick was common in the family, his grandfather bearing it, and his great grandmother was the daughter of Patrick Sinclair of Ulbster.

We have no knowledge of his youthful education but it must have been considerable as his papers and correspondence evince facility in expression, clear ideas and a good command of language,

In July, 1758, Patrick Sinclair purchased a commission as ensign – practically equivalent to 2nd Lieutenant, a grade not then existing in the famous 42nd Highlanders, or Black Watch Regiment, but he may have had some previous service in some capacity as in a letter to Gen. Haldimand in August, 1779, he refers to his 25 years’ service in the army, which if not a rhetorical exaggeration would imply that he had entered the service in 1761.

At any rate he soon saw active service, as his regiment was sent to the West

Indies in 1759, and he participated in January of that year in the attack and capture of Guadeloupe.

Not long after with his regiment he went to New York and then to Oswego where they spent several months.

In July, 1760 he was promoted to lieutenant and in August his regiment joined the army which under the leadership of General Amherst invaded Canada and captured Montreal.

Later it went to Staten Island, and in October, 1761, shortly before his regiment left for the West Indies he exchanged into the 15th Regiment of Foot.

The reason for this exchange is not evident as the 15th Foot went to the West Indies the same Fall and in August, 1763 came back to New York and then to Canada.

One Company however of the 15th Regiment remained in America and it is possible that this was Sinclair’s Company, as there is some evidence that he was at Quebec for a year from October, 1761, then for a time at New York, and again at Quebec.

For a part of the time at least he was in Capt. Robert Stobo’s Company.

In the Fall 1763 or the Spring of 1764 Sinclair must have been transferred to or connected with the Naval Department of the Lakes, as in a petition to the Earl of Hillsborough in 1769, he states that he “hath servedhis Majesty near six years last past on the Great Lakes in North America where he had the honor to command his Majesty’s vessels on the Lakes Erie, Sinclair, Huron and Michigan,” and the inscription on a silver bowl presented to him by the merchants of Detroit in 1767 refers to him as Captain Sinclair of the Naval Department.

The 15th Regiment of Foot was stationed at various posts in Canada, but no part of it as far west as Detroit, which was garrisoned mainly from the 60th Regiment during the entire period Sinclair mas in charge (as he says), of the navigation on the lakes,’ his’ headquarters, however, being Detroit.

Sinclair’s duties were general but important; to maintain and provision the boats, see to their arming and protection against the Indians, who were numerous, and, for some time after 1763, largely hostile to the English, and so dispose the shipping as to serve best the interest not only of the various garrisons, but also of the Indian traders and the merchants, who of necessity depended upon these boats for the bringing in of their goods and the carrying out of their furs.

The boats then in use consisted of canoes, batteaux, snows, sloops and schooners.

The canoe was the famed birch bark canoe noted for its carrying capacity in proportion to its weight and admirably adapted to the carriage of persons but not freight.

The batteau was a light boat worked with oars, long in proportion to its breadth and wider in the middle than at the ends.

It was well adapted for carrying freight, and for some years after the English obtained possession of the lakes it was extensively used between the posts in transporting both freight and passengers.

Of necessity the shore was closely followed both with batteau and canoe.

The snow was a type of vessel long since gone out of existence, with two ordinary masts and rigged much like a brig, but having in addition a small mast near the main mast to which the trysail was attached.

All the sailing vessels were of small burden.

The schooner “Gladwin,” famous for her successful attempt in bringing aid to the besieged Detroit garrison was of 80 tons burden.

Up to 1780 the largest boat on the lakes was the brig Gage of 154 tons, built in 1774.

In the same petition referred to above Sinclair states that he is the only person on the lakes who has ever explored the navigation of the lakes for vessels of burden “by taking exact soundings of them and the rivers and Straits which join them with the bearings of the headlands, islands, bays, etc., etc.”

The beginning of the siege of Detroit by Pontiac was signalized by the murder by the Indians on May 7th, 1763, of Captain Robertson, Sir Robert Davers, six soldiers and a boat’s crew of two sailors while engaged in taking soundings near the mouth of the “River Huron” as the account states it, now called St. Clair River, to seeif the lakes and rivers were navigable for a schooner then lying at Detroit on her way to Mackinac.

As a means of facilitating his duties, especially in regard to the communications between Detroit and the upper lakes, Sinclair erected, in 1764, a small fort just south of the mouth of Pine River in St. Clair County, the buildings comprising two barracks, one for sailors and one for soldiers, two block houses for cannon and small arms, and a wharf for drawing out and careening vessels, all enclosed within a stockade.

This post, about midway between lakes Huron and St. Clair, enabled him to control the river as regards the Indians, and also furnished a place for trade with them.

This establishment was ordered and approved by Colonel Bradstreet who was in Detroit in August, 1764.

During the season of 1764 Sinclair had under his command the schooner “Gladwin” which had brought relief to the beleaguered garrison at Detroit in the siege of Pontiac, and at the close of that season’s navigation he put her in winter quarters at Pine River.

In connection with his duties while stationed on the Lakes he made a trip of exploration down in the Indiana Country along the Wabash River, thus acquiring considerable knowledge of the French settlements in that vicinity.

Sinclair seems on the whole to have got along with the Indians very satisfactorily, and to have obtained their respect and liking and to have established a widespread reputation to that effect.

He was not entirely free from troubles however, as in 1767 the Chippewas, or Mississaguas, murdered a servant of his near the foot of Lake Huron.

The murderers were apprehended and sent to Albany for trial but were finally released to his indignation.

In 1767 the system of operating boats on the Lakes was changed and delivered over to private contractors, and Sinclair’s duties and official position terminated but it required some time to close out his matters, and when in the early summer of 1768 his regiment returned to England he remained upon the Lakes, and did not return to England until the spring of the following year.

That his conduct of affairs while in charge was acceptable to the class with whom he came most in contact outside of his government relations is proved by the presentation to him in 1767 of a silver bowl-still preserved in the family-with the following inscription engraved upon it:

“In remembrance of the encouragement experienced upon all occasions by the merchants in the Indian countries from Capt. Patrick Sinclair of the Naval Department, not as a reward for his services, but a public testimony of their gratitude this is presented instead of a more adequate acknowledgment which his disinterested disposition renders impracticable.

Dated the 23rd September, 1767.”

The merchants of Mackinac also gave him a testimonial.

Sinclair had erected the buildings and made the improvements at his fort mainly at his own expense, and in March, 1769, he applied to Gen. Gage, then commanding the British forces in America., to be reimbursed for his outlay £200, but Gage replied that the Government had not directed the construction and therefore Sinclair could do with the improvements what he saw fit.



Perhaps in anticipation of such result and as a measure of self-protection

Sinclair had obtained from the Indians a deed to a tract of land upon the St. Clair River, 2 ½ miles along the river by the same in depth to include his improvements. This deed was dated July 27th, 1768, and was signed by Massigiash and Ottawa, chiefs of the Chippewa Nation, in the presence of 15 Indians of that Nation and of George Turnbull, Captain of the Second Battalion of the 60th Regiment, George Archbold, Lieutenant, and ensigns Robert Johnson and John Amiel of the same Regiment, also of John Lewis Gage,Ensign of the 31st Regiment, and Lieut. John Hay of the 60th Regiment, Commissary of Indian affairs.


In the deed the land is described as being “on the Northwest side of the River Huron, between Lake Huron and Lake Sinclair, being one mile above the mouth of a small river commonly called Pine River and ending one mile and a half below the mouth of said Pine River.”

The consideration stated is “the love and regard we bear for our friend Lieut. Patrick Sinclair and for the love and esteem the whole of our said nation has for him for the many charitable acts he has done us, our wives and children.”

The King of England in his proclamation of October 3rd. 1763, establishing the province of Quebec, had expressly prohibited the obtaining of deeds from the Indians except under special license, and through certain officials.Site_of_Fort_MichiliMackinac_on_Mainland

This deed, therefore, although executed with considerable formality, and in the presence of the highest British Officials in the vicinity, did not operate to convey any legal title and this was recognized by Sinclair himself in 1774, in a petition to the government to be reimbursed for his expenditures on the property.

The property thug obtained was of sufficient size and quality to entitle him to consideration among the land owners of his native home, and he improved it by clearing, by setting out an orchard on the north side of Pine River, and by additional buildings.

It included a considerable body of pine and it is a curious fact that this marked on the East side of Michigan the Southern line of the great pine section of the Lower Peninsula.

During the period of his station at Detroit, Sinclair used the fort, buildings and pinery, but it is not known who looked after it during his absence from this locality after leaving in 1769 until 1759 when he arrived at Mackinac, but in 1780 Francis Bellecour, the British Indian Agent at Detroit, mas in charge.

He evidently was not giving satisfaction to the Indians in the vicinity, as in July of that year Maskeash, one of the Chiefs who signed the deed, with his wife and ten other Indians from along St. Clair River, went up on one of the government vessels, commanded by Alex Harrow, to Fort Mackinac to ask that Baptiste Point de (or du) Sable, be appointed to take of the property in place of Bellecour. DeSable mas a free mulatto who had traded with the Indians at the lower end of Lake Michigan, and, as he was friendly to the Americans, had been captured in 1779 by a British force from Fort Mackinac on the ground of his being a sympathizer with the American Rebels, and taken to Mackinac and detained.

By his conduct after his capture he commended himself to his captors and to Sinclair, then Lieutenant Governor, and as a result he was released and sent down to look after this property and trade with the Indians.

He appears to have remained there more or less continuously until 1784 when his effects were taken to Detroit and he returned to Illinois and continued at Peoria and Chicago until his death in 1811.

Although not in chronological order the subsequent history of this tract may be here narrated.


In 1783 Lieutenant Governor Sinclair was living on the Isle of Orleans awaiting a decision upon the allowance of his accounts.

A young man by the name of Nicholas Boilvin who was a native of the Parish of St. Nicholas near Quebec. decided to try his fortunes in the far west, and April 5th., 1783, Sinclair gave to him a power of attorney to take charge of on Pine River, his “stock, houses, barns, orchards, gardens, timber and every other article thereto appertaining.”

The same instrument recommended Boilvin to the protection of the officers at Detroit, so that all other persons might be prevented from cutting timber or trading near the post to Boilvin’s detriment.

Boilvin, on reaching Detroit, decided to go still farther west and September 20th, 1783, he assigned his power of attorney to David Ross and shortly after went to St. Louis.

He there became an Indian agent of the United States, but later removed to Prairie du Chien, where he mas for many years a person of some consequence.

In 1788, Sinclair’s rights were sold at auction and bought by Meldrum & Park, a firm of merchants and Indian traders of Detroit who went into possession of the property, made improvements and erected two saw mills and a grist mill.

In 1795, as the Indian deed to Sinclair had never been registered, but taken by him to England. finally finding its way to the Public Record office in London, Meldrum & Park obtained another deed from twenty-six Chippewa Chiefs, purporting to be in confirmation of the former deed to Sinclair; but the new deed conveyed a tract ten miles along St. Clair River by four miles in depth or about six times as much land.

This seems to have been in accordance with the usual way of honesty and fairness with which the white men treated the Indian.

This deed was not recognized by the United States as a conveyance of title, but the possessions taken under it enabled Meldrum & Park and their grantees to obtain patents from the United States, in 1810, to nearly five thousand acres.

In 1768 or 1769 Sinclair petitioned the Earl of Hillsborough, then Secretary for the Colonies, for the appointment of Superintendent of Navigation upon the Lakes, pointing out his experience, his successful services and the great need of such an official to protect the interests of the government, but the petition was refused, much to Sinclair’s disappointment.

It is not known exactly when he returned to England and his regiment, but it was sometime in the spring of 1769 and he was engaged in recruiting for upwards of a year.

In May 1771 he applied to the Earl of Hillsborough for the grant of a house at Detroit belonging to the Crown in lieu of his buildings at Pine River.

The matter as referred to General Gage, then at New York, who promised to look into the matter and see if that could be done without injury but apparently the inquiry was never made and nothing came of the petition.

He was promoted to Captain April 13, 1772, and the next year retired with the provision that he would not lose his rank if he rejoined the army.

Upon his retirement Sinclair returned to his ancestral home at Lybster, but time moved slowly there to a man accustomed for years to the wilderness and freedom of the Great Lakes in America and to the power and influence which Sinclair had been wont to exercise and directly upon his retirement he began exerting influence to get back to this country.

On June 1st, 1773, Sir Charles Thompson who had been for seven years the Colonel of the 15th Regiment, and who was an intimate personal friend of the King, wrote Lord Dartmouth in his behalf, recommending him as a proper person for appointment in Pennsylvania, the Jerseys, New York and the New England Provinces, but nothing came of it.

The government had never recognized his title to his land in America, nor had it ever repaid his outlays upon it, and in December, 1774, he applied for payment not only of these charges, but also for £56 which he paid to the Indians in redemption of white captives.

In the same account he includes £27 for his expenses caused by his being detained in the west when his regiment was sent to Europe and £70 for two servants killed by the Indians.

In February, 1775, his same kind and influential friend wrote again to Lord Dartmouth recommending Captain Sinclair for employment in Canada.

This time the fates were propitious and prompt, as on April 7th, 1775, he was commissioned by King George III, as Lieutenant Governor and Superintendent of the Post of Missillimakinac.

By the Proclamation of 1763 the Province of Quebec was established with such boundaries that practically all the Great Lake region lay outside, and therefore without any established form of government, which remained essentially military, without courts or ordinary civil officers.

The Quebec Act, passed by Parliament and effective in October, 1774, greatly extended the limits of the Province so as to reach the Ohio on the South and the Mississippi on the west.

By this Act a form of government by Governor and Council was provided and the old French laws recognized.

Although the Act itself made no reference to or provision for the western posts, the King in April, 1775, recognized four western districts or posts, and appointed as many Lieutenant Governors or Superintendents, one each to the posts of Detroit, Missillimakinac, St. Vincennes, and the Illinois.

These appointees were respectively Henry Hamilton, Patrick Sinclair, Edward Abbott and Matthew Johnson.

There was no attempt made to define the limits of each district, but ordinarily no question could arise over conflict of jurisdiction.

There was in each case a fortified place, which formed the center of operations.

There was, however, a clear distinction between the Post or District, and the fortified place; thus in the case of Sinclair, his seat of operations was Fort Mackinac, while his post was Missillimakinac and extended to cover the territory of all the Indians who were wont to come to that point to trade.

In the commission appointing Sinclair Lieutenant Governor there was no definition of his powers but he was to hold the position with all its “rights, privileges, profits, perquisites and advantages during the King’s pleasure.”

The incumbent, however was required to obey such orders and directions as he might receive from time to time from the Captain General and Commander in Chief of Quebec.

As there was no statute or general regulation upon the subject, the relation of the Lieutenant Governor, a civil officer, to the military force stationed at his post was indefinite and at Detroit was productive of considerable trouble.

Anxious to arrive at his post of duty promptly, there being no direct shipping from Glasgow to Quebec, Sinclair sailed for Baltimore, where he arrived July 26th, 1775, and at New York August 1st.

His purpose then was to go up the Hudson to Albany, thence to Oswego, and from there by boat to Quebec, and he made all preparation to leave New York August 4th, but on that day the Provincial Congress of New York then in session, having learned the previous day of his presence in the city, and of his great influence with the Indians, thought it unwise to permit him to go to his post where he might prejudice his Indian friends against the Colonies, and took him in custody and sent him on parole to Nassau Island in Suffolk County, Long Island, where he remained

until the following March, when upon his application to be permitted to retire to Europe, the Continental Congress granted his petition and he returned to England that summer.

He remained in England about a year and, apparently, found it rather difficult to get passage back to America, as in May, 1777, we find Lord George Germaine, then Secretary of the Colonies, granting Sinclair permission in response to request to come over in the packet Bristol rather than as “an unwelcome guest in a man-of-war.”

He did not reach America until the fall of 1777, this time at Philadelphia where he went with letters to Sir William Howe who advised him that his best plan to reach his post of duty via Quebec was to go by way of the St. Lawrence River the following spring.

Accordingly he spent the winter with Lord Howe and when the English fleet and forces left for England in May, 1778.

Captain Sinclair went as far as Halifax, where he was again compelled to wait until he could obtain transportation to Quebec.

Communications between Halifax and Quebec were infrequent and slow and it was a year later, in June, 1779, that Captain Sinclair arrived at Quebec and was ready to present himself and his commission to the Governor and receive his instructions and proceed to his post, although he had sent a communication to the Governor from Halifax in October of the year before.

At this time Sir Frederick Haldimand was Governor General.

He was of Swiss birth and, after some years’ service in the Prussian army joined the British forces in 1754 and was rapidly promoted.

He was an efficient officer and a good soldier, but his character and training both emphasized the military over the civil power.

On more than one occasion he received severe reprimands from the English government because of actions due to this feeling.

The officer then in command at Fort Mackinac was Maj. Arent Schuyler DePeyster who had been there for five years.

He was a capable officer, quite influential with the Indians and tactful in his intercourse with others.

He was gifted in a literary way, and although of American birth had strong English sympathies, sewing in the English army during the Revolutionary War.

Upon his retirement from the army he went to Dunfries, Scotland, his wife’s native place, where he became a close friend of the Poet Burns.

For some time DePeyster had been desirous of leaving Mackinac, giving as his reasons that his health was poor and that his private affairs at New York where his family had long been established sadly needed his presence but his real reason was the distance of his post from civilization, as no further complaints were heard from him after he was transferred to Detroit.

It is probable that Haldimand and Sinclair had met before.

In 1760 Haldimand, as lieutenant Colonel, accompanied the British force from Oswego to Montreal and Sinclair’s regiment, the 15th Foot, was a part of the force. Although Sinclair arrived in Quebec early in June, 1779, and undoubtedly presented himself promptly with his commission and a letter from Lord Germaine, which stated that, as Lieutenant Governor, he would have command over the military force stationed there, as well as civil authority, the Governor General, who did not relish the idea of Sinclair’s exercising military as well as civil powers at his post, put him off on various pretenses for over a month-in the meantime writing to DePeyster that he intended to delay Sinclair until the ship’s arrival from England in mid-summer, hoping perhaps to receive by then some authority to reduce or negative the instructions in Lord Germaine’s letter.

The ships arrived, but nothing to favor his wishes: he thereupon wrote to England, commenting upon the union of the civil and military authority in one person; but the reply received the following year made plain that the action of the government in this respect was fully considered and not to be altered.

In the meantime Haldimand issued a set of instructions for Sinclair, in which, disobeying the express terms of Lord Germaine’s letter, he authorized Sinclair to act as Commandant only until a senior officer of the garrison stationed there should arrive, and impressed upon him that only such senior officer had power over the troops to be sent beyond garrison limits, and in addition the perquisites attached to the commander of the post were to go to the officer.

Naturally such instructions proved very distasteful to Sinclair who at once addressed a spirited remonstrance to the Governor.

After some vigorous correspondence, in which Sinclair proposed to return to England rather than occupy a position which might be humiliating, the matter was compromised;the instructions were somewhat modified, and it was represented to him that there was in fact no senior officer at the post and an early opportunity would be given to purchase a commission as officer which would entitle him to outrank anyone who would be sent to the garrison.

With these assurances he left Quebec the last of August, 1779, for his post, and arrived at Fort Mackinac October 4th, 1779, probably by way of the Ottawa River, four and one-half years after the date of his commission.

He had crossed the ocean three times and while, until this date, he had not been able to exercise any authority under his commission, he had not neglected one important part of his duty, to draw his annual salary of £200.

Three days after his arrival, Major DePeyster left for Detroit, and Sinclair was free to examine his empire.

The fort was on the mainland on the south side of the strait, and practically in the same condition as it existed in 1763 at the time of its capture by the Indians.

It enclosed about two acres and the ramparts consisted solely of pickets driven into the ground.

It was on the sand and so near the shore that the waves in time of storm dashed over the pickets.

The practiced eye of Captain Sinclair at once noted its insecure condition, its inability to resist any attack but that of small arms, and that it could not afford protection to vessels.

In a letter to Captain Brehm, aide to Governor Haldimand, written four days after his arrival, he suggested the removal of the fort to the Island of Michilimackinac, and pointed out at some length the many advantages which the island possessed in the way of easy construction of a defensible fort, the protection of vessels, and good building material “but for God’s sake be careful in the choice of an engineer and don’t send up one of your paper engineers fond of fine regular polygons.”

In another letter to Brehm a week later, he returned to the subject and urged prompt action.

“It is the most respectable situation I ever saw, besides convenient for the subsistence of a Garrison, the safety of troops, traders and commerce.”

Without waiting for authority from the Governor, which could not be expected to be received until the following spring, Sinclair proceeded to set men at work on the island clearing, making shingles, pickets, etc.

By February he had so much done that he set about moving the French Church over to the Island and persuaded the traders and Canadians (as the French were generally called) that the removal was not only desirable but certain.

In May, 1780, came the consent of the Governor to the change with the information that lie had so much confidence in the Lieutenant Governor’s engineering abilities that no other engineer would be sent.

Sinclair soon found, however that, with the limited means at his command in masons and artificers, it would not be possible to complete the new fort sufficiently to move into it during that season, and he accordingly took all steps to put the mainland fort into the best possible condition to repel attack which he feared might come from the “rebels” – friends and adherents of the United States and their Indian friends.

In the meantime Sinclair had obtained the desired reinstatement, in military rank, so he was properly styled the Commandant (as well as Lieutenant Governor), thus uniting the military and civil powers of the post.

It so happened that Capt. George McDougall of the 84th Regiment, had been for some time anxious to sell out and retire on account of his health, but as he was an active and efficient officer, well-liked by the Indians, the Governor was loath to permit him to go.

However, in the spring of 1780, on the representation of failing health, permission was granted him to sell out and Lieut. Patrick Sinclair became the purchaser and a Captain again in the British Army, his commission being dated from April 1, 1780.

Sinclair received notice of his appointment July 8, and it evidently was a source of much satisfaction to him as he signed his letters for a time “Patrick Sinclair, Capt. 84th Regiment &Lieut. Gov.”

It was not long before an affair justified his insistence with Governor Haldimand upon the propriety and necessity of the provisions in Lord Germaine’s letter. Captain Mompesson of the 8th Reg., then at Detroit, was ordered by Maj. DePeyster to take a part of his company to Mackinac to relieve a company of Grenadiers.

Upon his arrival, Ang. 21st, 1780, he immediately refused to take orders from Sinclair and the next day issued a Regimental order that he expected obedience to his commands from the troops in the garrison.

Both officers wrote at once to the Governor who immediately decided that Captain Sinclair was in the right, that his former rank as Captain in the 15th Regiment had been ‘preserved upon his leaving that regiment, and he therefore clearly outranked Captain Mompesson.

The Governor in his letter to Sinclair about the matter added that he had at length obtained his Majesty’s decision upon the disputed rank of Lieutenant Governors of the post; this decision was, in fact, merely a confirmation of Lord George

Germaine’s letter.

Another episode happened at this time not calculated to soothe a somewhat peppery disposition and one regardful of the dignity and authority of its owner. Capt. Alex Harrow, of the Schooner Welcome, arrived July 29th, 1780, and assumed, as superior in naval command, to give an order to Captain McKay, of the Felicity, which had been plying chiefly between the post and the Island.

(Captain Harrow was a Scotchman who came to the Great Lakes in 1779 as an officer in the naval department and, in 1794, settled in St. Clair County on a large tract of land lying a short distance above Algonac and upon a part of which descendants of his are now living.)

The Lieutenant Governor resented this interference with his own authority and as both men were tenacious of their dignity, it resulted in Harrow being taken from his vessel and imprisoned in the fort.

After confinement of a month or two the authority of Sinclair was confirmed by the Governor, and Harrow, through the good nature of Sinclair, who, though quick to anger, was equally quick to relent, was released and reinstated in command of his vessel.

The command of a post so distant and isolated as that of Mackinac was a severe test of the qualities of promptness, decision, judgment and tact, and an early opportunity displayed Sinclair’s possession of the first two qualities in ample quantity.

After France embraced the cause of the United States she endeavored to get Spain to do the same; but the latter, though aiding the Americans in many ways, including the sale of a large quantity of gunpowder at New Orleans, made no formal declaration of war until May 8, 1779.

Lord Germaine either devised or adopted a plan to drive the Spanish out of Louisiana and on June 17, 1779, wrote General Haldimand, directing him in co-operation with Brigadier General Campbell to attack New Orleans and the other

Spanish posts on the Mississippi River.

Haldimand issued a circular letter to the Governors of all the Western posts giving general instructions.

This letter after passing from Colonel Bolton, at Niagara, to Major DePeyster, at Detroit, was forwarded by the latter Jan. 2, 1780, to Sinclair at Mackinac.

The day after its receipt Sinclair sent a war party to engage the Sioux Indians to proceed down the Mississippi River.

He also ordered Mr. Hesse, a trader, but formerly in the army, to collect a force of Indians and supplies in Wisconsin for the same purpose.

A few days later he dispatched a sergeant with Machiquawish, a noted Indian Chief, and his band.

The combined force made an attack on St. Louis which was only partially successful, and the project, as a whole, was a failure, the result being to leave the district South of Lake Michigan and as far West as the Mississippi River in American control.

Sinclair shows up, however, very favorably in the affair and, if the King had been as well served elsewhere, the result might have been very different.

The removal to the Island fort was made in the summer of 1781, although the fort was not entire1 completed.

When finally completed for occupation it contained four block houses, three of which are still standing; the fourth, which stood near the southeast corner was later removed.

The walls have since been widened and raised, and the roadway from the lower town brought nearer to the face of the hill and parallel to it, and lengthened so as to reduce the grade.

The officers’ quarters within the enclosure stand where they were originally constructed and the guard house, built in 1835, is on the site of the one built by Sinclair.

However, the general plan of the fort remains substantially the same today as when it was originally constructed 134 years ago, except that the North wall toward the West is brought in. thus contracting the enclosure by about one-fourth.

Sinclair proposed to call the new fort “Haldimand” after the Governor, but the latter decided that the fort should be called Fort “Makinac,” and the post should be continued to be called Michilimackinac, thus indicating that the post, meaning the civil jurisdiction, was more extensive than the fort, which included only the garrison limits.

The Governor’s spelling of the name of the fort was never carried out but the name of the post continued as long as the British retained control.

When they left and the Americans took possession, the post, as such, ceased, and both island and fort took the same name, Mackinac.

Sinclair, as a means of propitiating the Indians and securing their approval of removal to the Island, had negotiated with some of the Chiefs for a deed which he finally obtained in May, 1781.

By this deed five Chiefs of the Chippewa nation relinquished to Lieutenant Governor Sinclair, for the behalf and use of the English King, the Island of Michilimackinac, and agreed to preserve in their village a belt of wampum seven feet in length to perpetuate and be a lasting memorial of the transaction.

The consideration was £5,000 New York currency (equal to $12,500 in 1915).

The deed was signed with the totems of the Chiefs, also by Patrick Sinclair, Lt. Governor & Commandant, Captain Mompesson, Lieutenant Brooke and Ensign McDonall, and witnessed by six of the resident traders.

The work of completing the fort went on slowly as the Commandant could not get the necessary workmen.

Major Depeyster at Detroit was not feeling very friendly to Sinclair and when requested to send artificers reported that he could not spare any.

In August, Brigadier General Powell was compelled to peremptorily order him to send up two carpenters.

During the years of the construction of the fort an unusually large number of Indians came to Mackinac from all quarters to receive their annual presents from the British Government.

Sioux, Menominies, Sacs, Foxes, Ottawas and Chippewas, Winebagoes and all other tribes between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi, and even beyond, had become accustomed to make an annual pilgrimage to & Michilimackinac to meet the representative of their Great Father across the water and receive in return an outfit which would please their sense of display and enable them to support life until another season.

The coming of the white man and the introduction of strong drink and firearms had completely revolutionized the status of the Indians.

From an independent self-supporting people procuring their spare and difficult livelihood by the exercise of natural talents heightened by ever present necessity, they had become dependent for clothing and the means of obtaining food.

So longer were their own developed weapons sufficient.

They needed guns, powder and shot to kill the animals whose flesh gave them food and whose skins gave the furs the white man coveted and was willing to pay for.

The French had found it advantageous to give the Indians some presents to stimulate and maintain their friendship, but the English found it necessary to give far more.

The French, by their willingness to live the life of the Indians, to intermarry with them, and by their understanding and appreciation of Indian nature, were naturally regarded as their friends, and in the long French and English war the sympathies of the Western Indians were with the former and Pontiac found it easy to obtain the adherence of the most of the tribes.

When the English obtained possession of the western posts they thought it wise to conciliate the Indians by presents, and as time went on the number of Indians who applied for gifts and the extent of their demands increased until it became appalling to the British authorities.

An additional reason why during the period of Governor Sinclair’s station at Mackinac a larger amount of presents was needed than in ordinary times was that, owing to the Revolutionary War, the English feared-and with good reason-that the French were, in the main, friendly to the Americans, and would use their influence with the Indians to turn the latter against the English.

If this should happen all the Western posts would inevitably fall into the hands of the Americans.

The three posts on the lakes to which the Indians resorted in large numbers for supplies were Niagara, Detroit and Michilimackinac.

One of the articles most in demand was rum and, as an illustration, it appears that there was consumed during the year from June, 1780, to June, 1781, at the three posts, 19,386 gallons of this article euphemistically called “milk” at the Indian pow-wows.

This does not include the large amount used and furnished by the traders.

The nature of other articles sent by the Government as presents can be seen from the return showing that in 1781 there was sent to Lieutenant Governor Sinclair for Indian presents, 991 pairs of blankets, mostly 2% and 3 point, 102 dozen calico shirts, and 50 dozen linen ones, laced hats, feathers, looking glasses, knives, tomahawks, medals, needles and thread, axes, razors, brass and copper kettles, tobacco, powder, shot and guns, and a host of other minor articles.

It happened not infrequently that the supply of goods furnished by the government became low, or was very late in arriving at the post and, as the presents must be made when the Indians were there, the officers at the posts had been in the habit of buying from the traders such articles as they thought to be absolutely necessary.

In consequence they often were compelled to pay high prices.

These purchases as well as all other outlays were met by drafts drawn by the Lieutenant Governor upon the Governor General.

In order to prevent a further continuance of this practice and reduce, if possible. the great and Increasing expenses of the Western posts, on June 22nd, 1781, Governor Haldimand issued orders that the officers at Niagara, Detroit and Michilimackinac should, on no account whatever, after receipt of the order, purchase liquors or any other articles whatever for the use of the Indians from the trader, and that no circumstances whatever would he admitted a reason for not complying with the order.

Lieutenant Governor Sinclair did not observe this order very closely, evidently believing that this order was only intended for ordinary occasions, and that, as he was on the ground, he was entitled to use his judgment, even if it resulted in violating orders made at a great distance.

During the years 1780, 1781, 1782 the new fort was under construction, and in 1781 Sinclair drew on the Governor General drafts to the amount of £43,000 New York currency, for the engineering works and £65,000 for the Indian Department. This was an increase over the preceding year of £18,000 in the latter and nearly £35,000 in the former, which, however, was probably not unexpected as much more work was done on the new fort in 1781 than in 1780.

In 1782 the Lieutenant Governor drew for immense sums in both departments; in January one draft went forward for over £43,000 to be charged against the fort building, and to this no objection seems to have been made.

On the same day, however, he drew £11,450 on account of Indian expenditures, and when this draft was presented to Haldimand he refused to accept it, and referred the accounts to Mr. Goddard, general storekeeper and inspector of Indian presents, with instructions to charge out all articles he might consider presents to the Indians.

He later requested advice from his Attorney General upon the question whether he could legally pay part of the account, without acknowledging the whole.

Apparently he was advised that he might safely pay part as he did pay over £9,000.

In April Sinclair drew drafts to the amount of £14,500 of which £9,500 was on account of the fort and was paid, and £5,000 for Indian expenditures which was paid in part.

In July he drew for over £60,000 of which £40,000 was for the Indian department and the remainder for the Fort construction, about one-half of these drafts were accepted and the others refused and protested.

Although the Commandant at Detroit was at the same time also drawing heavily-in 1781, £162,000 and in 1782, £66,000 nearly all of which was on Indian account, none of his bills were refused.

In August, 1782, Haldimand alarmed at these enormous expenditures, which were affecting his own standing with the authorities in London, appointed Lieut. Col. Henry Hope, Sir John Johnson.

Superintendent of Indian Affairs, and James S. Goddard, to go to Mackinac and examine into the situation.

They arrived September 15th and found a number of irregularities.

There evidently had been looseness and carelessness in the keeping and checking of accounts, and the instructions of Governor Haldimand had not been followed with regard to the purchase of articles from the traders.

One of the perquisites which had been enjoyed and which though profitable to the Lieut. Governor, was detrimental to the public interests, was the reception by that official of presents from the Indians, generally in the nature of furs which naturally called for increased presents to the Indians, paid for by the Government.

It is apparent, however, that Sinclair’s actions had some justification.

Supplies ordered by him had not been sent, or were damaged in transit, or were so greatly delayed as not to arrive in time for distribution to the Indians, and the Commandant was obliged to choose between disappointing and alienating the Indians, a consequence of much importance until the Revolutionary War was ended – or purchasing goods from the traders.

Most of these drafts which were objected to were drawn in favor of George McBeath to be used by him in the payment of the various traders who had furnished articles.

McBeath had been sent up by Haldimand for the very purpose of taking charge of these expenditures and evidently thought them proper and necessary.

A few days after the arrival of the investigating board, Sinclair turned over the command of the post to Captain Robertson, the next ranking officer of the garrison, and left for Quebec arriving in October.

The fort was not yet entirely completed.

A careful survey made at the time by an engineer indicated the extent of the work done, and estimated that with 100 laborers and the necessary artificers, the fort could be put into a safe condition in about two months.

As nearly $300,000 had then been spent upon its construction without serious objection by the English authorities it may be easily conceived that they regarded the post as of high importance.

November 1st, Sinclair applied to Governor Haldimand for permission to go to Great Britain, which was refused on the ground that he was needed for the examination of his accounts.

He then took up his residence on the Isle of Orleans, awaiting action on this matter, and there he remained until the fall of 1784, when he finally obtained the desired permission and left for England.

In the meantime Haldimand wrote in October, 1782, to the English Treasury stating what he had done and that he would investigate and report.

In November, he followed this by an explanation of his reasons, which were in the main, that Sinclair had acted contrary to the order of June, 1781, in buying Indian presents from the traders.

He also promised to have the matter carefully looked into.

A year went by without any action whatever and in October, 1783, Haldimand wrote the Treasury that he was waiting with great impatience for instructions.

To this the Lords of the Treasury replied that he had failed to give them the information which he had promised, and which they needed before giving full instructions.

In January, 1784, the Treasury received remonstrances from the merchants whose bills were unpaid, and they wrote Haldimand that such parts of the bills as represented articles furnished and labor performed should be paid for at the usual rates.

In July, 1784, Haldimand wrote that he had offered £22,000 upon bills drawn for £57,000, and that his offer had been refused and he had been threatened with prosecution by the claimants.

In the meantime Sinclair was eating out his heart on the Isle of Orleans.

Prevented from going to England and meeting his family and friends, feeling the hostility of the Governor General, receiving the frequent importunities of the unfortunate traders who had parted with their goods, but had not received their money.

It is not to be wondered at that he fell into a state of deep and settled melancholy, and that even to his best friends his faculties began to seem impaired.

Representations were made to the Governor General and in August, 1784, he was allowed to return to England in company with Captain Erskine Hope and his wife, who was a connection of Sinclair.

The trip and his surroundings and his friends and relatives in Scotland, where he at once repaired upon his arrival in England, restored his health.

In November Haldimand himself left Canada for England, arriving at London in January, 1785.

As soon as Sinclair heard of this he left at once for London determined to have his affairs settled, and arrived there February 28, 1785.

He was delayed in meeting Haldimand, however, by being arrested at the suit of some of the holders of the protested Mackinac bills and thrown into Newgate prison, from which he was released on March 17th by his paying the bills.

He immediately demanded of Haldimand that the latter repay the amount at once, or he would apply for a Court Martial.

Apparently neither action was taken but early in April, Haldimand was sued for £50,000, he at once called upon the Government to defend him.

In the following year the action was dismissed, and the claimants appealed to Government for their pay.

The result of this application is unknown but the standing of Sinclair with the English authorities does not seem to have been impaired by all these proceedings. While at Mackinac he had advanced in military rank, having become a Major in 1782.

The next year his regiment, the 84th, was disbanded.

His absence from his post as Lieut. Governor did not affect his title or his salary except the allowance which he drew as commanding officer.

In August 1784, the Governor General was careful to impress upon Captain Robertson, then commanding at Mackinac, that his authority was merely in the absence of the Lieut. Governor.

In October, 1793, Sinclair was made a Colonel.

The post of Michilimackinac was transferred in June, 1796, to the Americans, and although Sinclair had not set foot in it since he left in August, 1782, he had continued to draw his yearly salary of £200 with great regularity.

According to modern ideas this would have been an unjustifiable sinecure, but that was an age of sinecures and it was acknowledged that an office was a vested right of which no possessor should be deprived without the payment of compensation.

Accordingly, it is not surprising to find that in April, 1797, Colonel Sinclair, then in London, petitioned the Duke of Portland, Secretary of State, that as he had been at great pains in fortifying and defending the post of Michilimackinac, and his Majesty had found it expedient to give it up to the United States, he flattered himself that this action would not be prejudicial to him and that his salary might be transferred to the general establishment.

This petition apparently seemed reasonable and his salary continued during the remainder of his life.

Not long after he was retired on half pay and withdrew to Lybster where he spent the remainder of his days.

Being still in line for promotion he was made a Major General on September 25th, 1803; he was made Lieut. General, July 25th, 1810, and at his death, which occurred January 31st, 1820 at the age of 84, he was the oldest officer of his rank in the British army.

From a consideration of all the evidence now available in the matter of the protested bills Sinclair was unfairly treated.

Haldimand, although a good soldier, was a stubborn opinionated man whose training as a soldier inclined him to be overbearing and impatient of anything except the most exact obedience to his orders.

In the face of the King’s commission to Sinclair with the accompanying letter of Lord George Germaine, which made the Lieut. Governor the Commandant entitling him to outrank any officer under a Brigadier General, he refused to recognize any military authority in the position.

Although admitting the great importance of placating the Western Indians, and having himself no personal knowledge of the difficulties of the situation, he thought his orders issued from a thousand miles away should be implicitly obeyed.

It is clear that Sinclair did not understand until the Board put in its appearance at Mackinac that he was doing anything more than the necessities of the situation required, in view of the fact that the government agencies were often so dilatory and neglectful as to leave the far distant post short or entirely lacking.

From his reply to Haldimand’s letter of June, 1781, it is apparent that he understood that his position as Lieut. Governor gave him discretion and this position was never contradicted by Haldimand.

His good faith is manifest all through, and even if Haldimand were justified in claiming that Sinclair had acted in contravention of his orders, that furnished no excuse for not paying the traders who had, in good faith, furnished articles actually used by the government and ordered by a representative they had no reason to suspect.

It seems probable that in the end the government paid the bills, as in 1786 the Treasury at London called on Haldimand to furnish information why the bills had been protested, and to explain why he had continued McBeath at Mackinac in connection with Indian disbursements after he had repudiated his actions in connection with Sinclair.

Sinclair married Catherine Stuart, of Invernesshire, and had four sons and one daughter.

Three sons died unmarried, and one married but left two daughters, who never married.

His only lineal descendants are through the children of his daughter, Susan, who married David Laing, surgeon, of Thurso.

A full length silhouette of General Sinclair taken after he had retired from the army shows a large handsome man of imposing presence.

Family tradition depicts him as an impulsive, warm hearted, as well as warm tempered individual, quick to resent and to punish, and equally quick to forgive; kindly and generous to dependents; philanthropic and helpful to the needy and improvident.

He lived to the good old age of eighty-four and his thoughts must frequently have gone back to this Inland Empire in which nearly a decade of his life was spent, and in which he had wielded a wide influence, and had erected a monument still enduring.

His name which was so closely connected with the early history of Michigan should be perpetuated and both Mackinac and St. Clair County should mark, by proper memorials, the name of Sinclair, as a most important one in their rolls of historic characters.

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The origin of the first occupants of this region is shrouded in mystery.

Several writers have adopted the theory that they were descendants of the lost tribes of Israel, and they fortify their position with a variety of interesting facts.

The founder of our fair domain was a believer in this theory, and the archives of France contain a lengthy memorial written by Cadillac in which he distinctly asserts his belief that the Indians are descendants of the Hebrew race, strengthening his argument with statements of many remarkable coincidences and customs confirmatory of the idea.

The researches of Schoolcraft, Prescott, Pickering, and others, indicate that the first comers were from Asia, that they were driven by winds and waves over to the Pacific coast, or made their way by the Aleutian Islands or Behring’s Strait to Alaska, and from thence southward to Mexico and South America, afterwards spreading northward and eastward over the American continent.

Elaborate and plausible arguments have been made to prove the converse theory, that the Chinese are descended from the Aztec race.

In support of this supposition, it is urged that the trade winds from the Peruvian coast pass directly to China, and that even frail vessels could easily be wafted thither.

Unique and ancient bronze implements are found alike in both countries; the picture-writings of the two countries are in many cases similar, and in others are exactly the same; and the Feast of Souls, as celebrated in Central America, is remarkably like certain of the Chinese ceremonies.

The order of the ancient occupancy of the country seems to have been, first the Olmec’s, then the Toltecs, then the Aztecs, or Aztecas.

Various reasons give rise to the theory that the Aztec race were the first occupants of this particular region.

Humboldt was of the opinion that the country of the Aztecas was in this latitude.

The meaning of their tribal name is “People of the Lakes;” and there is no place in the United States in which small lakes are so numerous as in Michigan, while the State is nearly surrounded by lakes, which are almost seas in extent.

The name Michigan is derived from two Chippewa words, Mitchaw, great, and Sagiegan, lake. Great Lake.

The so-called Indian mounds in various Western States, in their size, form, and contents, add force to the Aztecan theory.

In the township of Springwells, just below Detroit, were four of these mounds; one of them still remains inside the grounds of Fort Wayne; the second was on property now occupied by the Copper Smelting Works, and the third lay between the other two.

They were circular in form, from thirty to seventy feet in diameter, and varying from three to ten feet in height.

Two parallel embankments, about four feet high, led to them from the east.

One of these mounds was opened in 1837, and the one inside the fort, by permission of the War Department, on May 22, 1876.

Both were found to contain numerous skeletons, arrow-heads, and vases or pots of earthenware.

The one last opened contained also an iron vessel capable of holding two or three gallons, and several pounds of what appeared to be a sort of paint.

The Great Mound of the River Rouge, about half a mile below Fort Wayne, was at first, probably, fully three hundred feet long and two hundred feet wide.

In 1876 it was twenty feet high.

It has never been fully explored, but a partial investigation by Henry Gillman resulted in the discovery of stone axes, arrow-heads, fragments of pottery, and human bones much decayed.

An old Indian told a member of the Cicotte family that these mounds were erected as forts, at the time the tribes were fighting each other.

Indian tradition also ascribes these mounds to the Tuetle Indians, who preceded the Wyandotts.

The name Tuetle is believed to be a corruption of Tuteloes, a tribe once supposed to have emigrated from Virginia only as far north as the Susquehanna; but it now seems probable that some came as far as the Detroit.

Of the more modern Indian tribes who roamed over this region, the Algonquin race was the earliest.

They counted among their numbers in the northwest the tribes of the Ottawas, Menominees, Sacs, Foxes, and Chippewas.

There were also in this vicinity the tribes of the Miamis, Potowatamies, Winnebagoes, and the Ouendats, or Wyandotts.

The latter who came to this vicinity about 1680, excelled the other tribes in energy and progressiveness.

From time to time the Iroquois also appeared.

This nation was composed originally of the Onondagas, Cayugas, Senecas, Oneidas, and Mohawks.

In 1714, the Tuscaroras of North Carolina united with them, and they were afterward known as the Six Nations.

They claimed all of Michigan, and between them and the Algonquins warfare was frequent.

Indeed, the Iroquois were the enemies of all the Indians at or near Detroit, and in 1649 they drove the Algonquins from this region.

They were unfriendly to the French, and during the French and English war did good service for the English.

They were the cannibals of America, and French residents of Detroit, in 1756, stated that the Iroquois actually ate the flesh of persons slain in battle.

It was the settled policy of the French commandants to induce as many friendly Indians as possible to settle near their forts.

We find Cadillac, in 1703, urging the Ottawas to move to Detroit.

The French records of the same year show that several Miamis were already settled there, and that on June 28 thirty Hurons arrived from Mackinaw and erected wigwams near the fort.

The Potowatamies had their village west of the fort, near the mouth of what was afterwards called Knagg’s Creek.

The Ottawa settlement was where Windsor now is, and the Hurons were gathered on the Canada side, opposite the Cass Farm.

In 1705 about two hundred Indians had been persuaded by Cadillac to settle in the vicinity.

In furtherance of his plans a great council of chiefs was held, continuing from August 6 to August 10, 1707.

The following translation from a French Colonial Memoir, written in 1707, and preserved at Paris, gives a vivid picture of Indian life at this period:

The village of the Pottowatamies adjoins the fort; they lodge partly under Apaquois, which are made of mat-grass.

The women do all this work.

The men belonging to that nation are well clothed, like our domiciliated Indians at Montreal; their entire occupation is hunting and dress ; they make use of a great deal of vermilion, and in winter wear buffalo robes richly painted, and in summer either blue or red cloth.

They play a good deal at la crosse in summer, twenty or more on each side.

Their bat is a sort of little racket, and the ball with which they play is made of very heavy wood, somewhat larger than the balls used at tennis; when playing they are entirely naked, except a breech cloth, and moccasins on their feet.

Their body is completely painted with all sorts of colors.

Some, with white clay, trace white lace on their bodies, as if on all the seams of a coat, and at a distance it would be apt to be taken for silver lace.

They play very deep {gros j’eu) and often.

The bets sometimes amount to more than eight hundred livres.

They set up two poles and commence the game from the center; one party propels the ball from one side and the other from the opposite, and which ever reaches the goal, wins.

This is fine recreation and worth seeing.

They often play village against village, the Poux against the Outaoues or the Hurons, and lay heavy stakes.

Sometimes Frenchmen join in the game with them.

The women cultivate Indian corn, beans, peas, squashes, and melons, which come up very fine.

The women and girls dance at night; adorn themselves considerably, grease their hair, put on a white shift, paint their cheeks with vermilion, and wear whatever wampum they possess, and are very tidy in their way.

They dance to the sound of the drum and sisiquoi, which is a sort of a gourd containing some grains of shot.

Four or five young girls sing, and beat time with the drum and sisiquoi, and the women keep time and do not lose a step ; it is very entertaining, and lasts almost the entire night.

The old men often dance the Medelinne (Medicine Dance); they resemble a set of demons, and all this takes place during the night.

The young men often dance in a circle {le tour) and strike posts; it is then they recount their achievements, and dance, at the same time, the war dance (des decouvertes), and whenever they act thus they are highly ornamented.

It is altogether very curious.

They often perform these things for tobacco. When they go hunting, which is every fall, they carry their Apaquois with them to hut under at night.

Everybody follows, men, women, and children, and winter in the forest and return in the spring.

The Hurons are also near, perhaps the eighth of a league from the French fort.

This is the most industrious nation that can be seen.

They scarcely ever dance, and are always at work; raise a very large amount of Indian corn, peas, beans; some grow wheat.

They construct their huts entirely of bark, very strong and solid; very lofty and very long, and arched like arbors.

Their fort is strongly encircled with pickets and bastions, well redoubted, and has strong gates.

They are the most faithful nation to the French, and the most expert hunters that we have.

Their cabins are divided into sleeping compartments, which contain their misirague, and are very clean.

They are the bravest of all the nations and possess considerable talent.

They are well clad; some of them wear close overcoats {juste au corps de capot).

The men are always hunting, summer and winter, and the women work.

When they go hunting in the fall, a goodly number of them remain to guard their fort.

The old women, and throughout the winter those women who remain, collect wood in very large quantity.

The soil is very fertile; Indian corn grows there to the height of ten to twelve feet.

Their fields are very clean, and very extensive; not the smallest weed is to be seen in them.

The Outaoues are on the opposite of the river, over against the French fort ; they, likewise, have a picket fort.

Their cabins resemble somewhat those of the Hurons.

They do not make use of Apaquois except when out hunting: their cabins in this fort are all of bark, but not so clean nor so well made as those of the Hurons.

They are as well dressed and very laborious, both in their agriculture and hunting.

Their dances, juggleries, and games of ball (la crosse) and of the bowl, are the same as those of the Poux.

Their game of the bowl consists of eight small pebbles (noyaux), which are red or black on one side, and yellow or white on the other; these are tossed up in a bowl, and when he who holds the vessel tosses them and finds seven of the whole eight of the same color he gains, and continues playing as long as he receives the same thing.

When the result is different, the adverse party takes the bowl and plays next, and they risk heavy stakes on all these games.

They have likewise the game of the straws, and all the nations gamble in like manner.

In 1736 there were five hundred Indian warriors at Detroit,—two hundred each from the Huron and Ottawa tribes and one hundred from the Potowatamies.

Bougainville, who was here in 1757,says:

The Indians who usually come to trade at Detroit are the Hurons of the same tribe of those of Lorette, near Quebec, a perfidious and deceitful nation in whom we must never put confidence.

There are also the Ottawas, the Sauteux, and the Potowatamies; these last named are of all the Indians the most faithful and the most attached to our interests.

They have never murdered any Frenchmen, and have often warned us of the plots of other tribes.

Cadillac says that the Ottawas wore, as an ornament, a little stone suspended from their nose, and that “Ottawa,” the name of the tribe, signified “the nation with a hole in their nose.”

The French gave nicknames to most of the tribes in this region.

The Wyandotts they designated as Hurons, because of their fierce aspect, comparing them to a wild boar; the Chippewas, as Sauteurs, from their residence near the Sault St. Marie; the Menominees were called Folles Avoines, from “wild rice,” one of their principal articles of food.

The name Potowatamie was abbreviated into Poux.

This nation was very uncleanly.

All of the tribes known to the Americans, north of the Ohio and east of the Mississippi, had their council-fire at the village of the Wyandotts, near the mouth of the Detroit River.

The Wyandotts alone had the power to convene the tribes, and when a council was to be held, application was made to them, and it was held at their village.

This fact gave the locality a peculiar importance and made it familiar to all the Indians.

At various times nearly all the noted Indian leaders visited this post.

Pontiac, Tecumseh, and his brother The Prophet, were frequent visitors. John Logan, the Cayuga chief, whose speech to Lord Dunmore, Governor of Virginia, is familiar to every schoolboy, was here in 1774, and after the treaty of Chillicothe, he resided for many years in this vicinity.

He became a drunkard, and was killed, between Detroit and Miami, by an Indian.

The French trusted the Indians almost without fear.

No seals or locks were placed on the storehouses, and the Indians came and went as they pleased. Under English and American rule the Indians were welcomed inside the stockade during the day, but at night all were turned out except those who were entertained by private persons.

The Indians were always persistent beggars, and no Arab of the present day demands backsheesh more clamorously than did the red men of their French and English “brothers.”

Their requests were generally acceded to, and the presents given them in some measure made up for the exorbitant prices charged them for articles offered in exchange for furs.

Their likes and dislikes turned, like a pair of scales, according as they had free range or were restricted in their visitations to the houses.

On September 18, 1770, Captain Stephenson, of the Eighteenth Regiment, then in command, wrote to Sir William Johnson:

My children here are quiet at present.

They have all been to pay me a visit and suck my breast, to which they made so close an application that I told them I was afraid they would throw me in a consumption.

They are very happy at having free access to my house, which my predecessor’s delicacy would not admit.

Even after this region was surrendered, the English Government sought the favor of the Indians by annual gifts; and year by year up to 1836 thousands from various tribes gathered at Detroit, Sandwich, or Maiden to receive the presents of their Great Father, the King.

The American Government was compelled to follow this precedent.

On November 24, 1807, Governor Hull wrote to the Secretary of War that within the two or three days previous seven or eight hundred Indians had called at Detroit, on the way to their villages, and that he had been compelled to feed them.

In the autumn of 1812, while the city was in possession of the British, the Indians committed many outrages.

A party of them went in a body to rob Colonel Lambert Beaubien’s orchard, but the Colonel attacked them with his fists, and made so courageous a defense that he drove them from his premises.

After the city again passed under American control, Colonel Cass was obliged to feed great numbers of the Indians.

In one communication to the War Department he states that for several years he fed an average of four hundred Indians per day.

Between 1814 and 1817, he disbursed $200,000 for the benefit of the Indians.

To divide and distribute among them the goods and bounty of the Government was a task vexatious in the extreme, and almost unbearable, for it was impossible to satisfy the stupid and stolid savages.

All the year round they came and went, and the agent’s family was “driven from one extremity of the house to the other by them.”

In addition to the annuities the “government blacksmith” repaired, free of charge, their guns and traps.

There was always some excuse for their coming, and citizens were not surprised at any time to see a swarthy face at the window-pane; oftentimes the click of the latch was the only warning of the entrance of one of the nation’s wards.

Some of them were gayly dressed with blankets of scarlet broadcloth, and strings of silver half-moons graduated in size from one to several inches in length, hung from neck to ankles, both in front and down the back.

Their moccasins and leggins were gay with beads and the stained quills of the porcupine.

The heads of the war chiefs were frequently gayer still with the vermilion and bear’s grease which had been rubbed thereon.

The squaws were not left behind.

There was always some burden for them to carry, and the procession ceased on one day only to begin the next.

Indians and more Indians, and still they came! Indians lazy and Indians drunk, Indians sick and Indians hungry, all crying “Give! give!”

After receiving their payments, hundreds of them would lie about the city stupidly drunk; in August, 1825, they so disturbed the peace of the city, that the Council, through the mayor, sought aid from the governor to quiet and control them.

A few of these Indians came to buy goods, and were really trustworthy.

An old account book of that period contains charges made against Indians called “Saw Goose’s Wife,” “Big Wind’s Daughter,” “The Rat,” “The White Devil,” ” The Old Cow,” “The Cow’s Sister,” “The Old Eagle and Son,” “The Red Bird,” and “The Turtle.”

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