From the Hundred and Ninth.
We have intelligence from the regiment to Saturday, 21st inst. There had been little improvement in the health of the men — less than 100 out of over 600 being reported for duty. The exceedingly unfavorable weather of the past week tended to aggravate the sanitary condition of the troops, and the hospitals are crowned with unfortunates who patriotically left the civil walks of life to aid in the great work of preserving the Union, and who are now meeting death in a more revolting form than on the battle-field. Pneumonia, typhoid fever, dysentery and affections of the lungs form the chief bulk of the alarming cases; but these of course are few compared with the total number sick. In our regiment the serious cases will not exceed a dozen or fifteen, while from 400 to 500 are unfit for duty from camp diarrhea, occasional chills, severe colds, etc. The past week witnessed the death of Alexander Weaver, John Abernathie and William Finney, co. F; Orange Wilson, co. H; Jacob Dillow, co. I; Stephen Brummitt, co. H; and Capt. Misenhimer, co. I. — John Brummitt, co. H, is reported as having died in post hospital at Jackson. We cannot now give a list of cases in hospital, but hope to be able to present each week hereafter accurate reports of the sick.
The Army of the West is still badly dissatisfied. Desertions are daily taking place by wholesale. The insane policy of the leaders of the war, in subverting it from a grand struggle for the maintenance of the Union, to an extensive crusade against the people of the South, in violation of their plighted faith, and in contempt of the plainest interests of the North, has maddened the masses composing the army, and determined thousands of them to no longer aid in its prosecution. Many now believe that the war was instituted for no other purpose than to secure the destruction of slavery in the South, and a permanent dissolution of the Union. But be that as it may, a great majority of those in the army are unalterably opposed to the war as it is now conducted, and but little interest is felt by the soldiers in the success of any movement in which they may be ordered to participate. This lukewarmness is general throughout all the new regiments, and is shared to a great extent by those who have passed the fiery ordeal of Belmont, Donelson and Shiloh. They see the privations they have endured for eighteen months, and the valor they have displayed on hotly-contested fields, is to be simply productive of depriving the southern people of properly they were allowed under the constitution of the nation, devastating a once prosperous country, and flooding their own homes with a population of barbarians to compete with them in labor, associate with them in the common walks of life, and be paupers upon their industry. Such a result — revolting to every lover of his race — is not what the men of the army hoped to achieve. Officers, who have comfortable quarters, an easy life and large pay; contractors and speculators who are becoming gorged upon gains wrung from the sweating brows of our over-taxed people; Abolition fanatics who are willing that the fetters of a military despotism should be fastened upon the country, in the attempt to secure the freedom of the negroes, all urge a "vigorous prosecution of the war" under the proclamation. But the rank and file of the army, who have exchanged the liberties and comforts they enjoyed as freemen at home, for the galling slavery of military life — for the exposures of an active campaign — forced upon long marches with heavy loads, insufficiently clothed, and for weeks compelled to subsist on half rations, lying upon the frozen ground on cold nights, to snatch a few hours' repose for the next day's journey, their families writing from home of the sufferings they endure for want of the pay that is withheld from the soldiers to be squandered in the efforts to supply their places in the North, with free negroes, can not and will not endorse the suicidal programme of the free nigger saints in power. It is too much like whistling at the funeral of their own hopes. Desertion is but the natural result of an army in such a condition. An act that was once looked upon as the most heinous of crimes, is now regarded with a degree of favor. And nothing is easier than to get out of our lines. Those on guard, comparing their own life of exposure, and the objects to be accomplished, to the comforts enjoyed by the Abolitionists who are shaping the policy of the war, but who have no idea of facing danger on the battle-field, seldom see others who are escaping, and nineteen out of twenty who attempt desertion, are successful in it. — One of the regiments on duty with us at Fort Pickering (the 130th or 131st Illinois, I cannot say certainly which) has suffered to a considerable extent by desertion. I have the authority of the Orderly Sergeant of co. A, of that regiment, for saying that in five days after being placed on picket guard, their company numbered one Captain, two Lieutenants, one first sergeant, and four privates! three of whom were in the hospital. The remainder, about 80 men, had concluded to put in crops at home, and took a leave of absence in that direction.
We had been on active duty since our release from arrest about the middle of January, and it was generally supposed that the court of Inquiry, called to investigate charges against us, had found favorably for all alike, as all had been alike on duty, officers as well as men; and the court had come to be regarded as among the things that were. Some astonishment was occasioned, therefore, when on Saturday night last, the Provost Marshal arrested six of the officers — Adjutant James Evans, Captains John M. Rich, Thomas Boswell, John J. McIntosh, George W. Penninger, and Second Lieutenant John B. Stokes, by virtue of authority from Gen. Grant, embraced in the following general order:
HEADQUART'S DEPARTM'T OF THE TENNESSEE,
YOUNG'S POINT, LA., Feb. 1, 1863.
General Orders, No. 12.]
The proceedings of the court of inquiry convened at Holly Springs, Miss., by Special Orders No. 2, of date January 2, 1863, from these headquarters, and of which DeWitt C. Loudon, of the 70th Ohio Volunteers Infantry, was President, to inquire into and investigate the allegations and charges of disloyalty against the 109th Illinois Infantry Volunteers, exhonerates said regiment, as a regiment, from all suspicion of disloyalty, satisfactorily vindicates its innocence, and places it where the General commanding hoped to find it, among the pure and patriotic in their country's defence; that whatever cause for suspicion or charges of disloyalty there was, arose from the conduct and declarations of the following named officers, who are hereby dismissed from the service of the United States with forfeiture of pay and allowances, to take effect from this date, for the offences of which they are severally shown to be guilty:
Lieut. Col. Elijah Willard, for disobedience of orders, and deserting his command in the face of an enemy, that he might be taken prisoner.
Capt. John M. Rich, for disobedience of orders, encouraging his men to desert, and discouraging his men from fighting in the face of the enemy.
Capt. Thomas Boswell, for encouraging his men to desert, that they might be captured and paroled, and advising them to apply for discharges for slight causes; also, for trying to impress upon the minds of the officers and men of his regiment that they were embraced in the surrender of Holly Springs by Col. Murphy, on the 20th day of December, 1862, well knowing the same to be false.
Capt. John J. McIntosh, for declaring in the hearing of his men, and in the presence of the enemy, that he would not fight if attacked near Holly Springs, Miss, on the 20th day of December, 1862.
Capt. Penninger, of co. G, for proposing a plan by which the regiment could be surrendered to the enemy, and attempting to induce others of the regiment to aid in carrying it into execution during the raid of the enemy's cavalry on Holly Springs, on the 20th day of December, 1862.
2d. Lieut. John Stokes, for straggling from his command and procuring for himself, and a number of his men fraudulent paroles from a rebel citizen.
2d. Lieut. Daniel Kimmel, for advising the Colonel of his regiment if attacked by the enemy to surrender, and on feigned sickness, procuring a Surgeon's certificate to go the hospital at Holly Springs, Miss., by reason of which he was captured and paroled by the enemy during the raid on that place.
Adjutant James Evans, for inciting dissatisfaction among the men of his regiment, and speaking in an improper manner of the war and the President, in violation of the 5th Article of War.
Commissary Sergeant Joshua Misenhimer, is reduced to the ranks for declaring that he would never fire a gun upon the enemy, and on hearing a camp rumor that Maj. Gen. Burnside was defeated with a loss of twenty thousand men, wishing it was so.
By order of Maj. Gen. U. S. GRANT.
JNO. A. RAWLINS,
Asst. Adjt. General.
The Articles of War provide that a court of Inquiry can only be convened on demand of the accused or by order of the President. If sufficient evidence can be adduced to support charges, a trial of the accused by Court Martial takes place. In this case the order calling the court of Inquiry was not issued by the President nor on demand of the accused; nor was any Court Martial assembled for the trial of the parties. The officers dismissed did not know that any proceedings were being had against them. They were not permitted to know any part of the evidence against them, nor even the names of the witnesses who had testified. A few persons were selected as witnesses, and locked up in a guarded room; such evidence was adduced as best suited the prejudiced members of the Abolition court. A case where the verdict was more plainly decided upon before the hearing of the evidence, was never presented. The names of such persons as stood in the way of aspiring geniuses, and who could not give a cordial endorsement to a policy and proclamation which Lincoln himself pronounced unconstitutional one week before he adopted it, were taken down by the Black Republican Inquisition, and all the evidence sought for appeared directed especially against them. After this miserable farce had been played about two weeks, the conclave dispersed, and the regiment and officers were released from arrest and ordered to duty. About one month thereafter, the arrests were made and the order above printed made public. The parties decided to be guilty of violations of military law, were taken to the Provost Marshal's office upon being seized, and informed of the sentence against them. A good room was assigned them, and under close guard they were detained until Monday, two o'clock. Passage had been engaged on the steamer John D. Perry, and in company with a Lieutenant of the 117th Illinois, an Aid-de-Camp of Gen. Veach's staff, and three armed soldiers, the journey homeward was undertaken. The liberty of the cabin was given the prisoners at all times, with strict orders not to approach the doors except when the boat was under headway. No intercourse was permitted with passengers on the boat, and the severest punishment was threatened on the exchange of ordinary civilities. They were not permitted to provide or purchase anything to eat previous to starting, were sent off without pay, and no arrangements had been provided for their support on the boat. Meals were at first furnished at half a dollar each, but were subsequently raised to seventy-five cents. After nearly three days of humiliation and insult, the packet reached Cairo, where the officers were handed over to the tender mercies of the Provost Marshal at that point. Without any explanation, or information as to when they would be finally disposed of, they were sent about daylight under guard to a dirty, loathsome prison, alive with vermin, and abounding in every nauseating stink known in the vocabulary, for safe keeping! About one o'clock they were released, and after forcible injunctions not to enter Gen. Grant's lines without authority, were placed aboard the cars and safely attended to the outskirts of the city. The charges, except as embraced in the general order, and the testimony given against them were persistently withheld, in fact, insultingly denied them. The true nature of their offense, however, consisted in not changing with an administration that adapts a new policy every week; in not stultifying sentiments of patriotism, that they one day entertain, by the next endorsing and applauding the damnable schemes of Phillips, Greeley, Lincoln and others who have avowed themselves opposed to our Democratic form of government for the past twenty years; in not encouraging men in the army to commit acts of disgraceful Vandalism; in adhering to the Constitution as it is and the Union as it was, and insisting that the war should be prosecuted for that end; in opposing the enslavement of white men to secure the freedom and full equality — if not superiority — of negroes; in opposing the arming of negroes and their equality with white soldiers in the army; and in daring to think that the people of the South could not be convinced of our desire to bring them with all their former rights unimpared into the Union, by encouraging savage insurrections in their midst, murdering defenseless women and children and unarmed citizens, and wantonly destroying their property. — In the eyes of Black Republicanism this was sufficient to fasten upon them the brand of disloyalty. Mr. Lincoln and nearly every General in the army have time and again, on paper, announced their intention and determination to prosecute the war on these principles, but those who show their sincerity by acts, are to be made the victims of malignant slander and prescriptive intolerance of the Abolition despotism and their subsidized minions.
The paymaster made his appearance some days since, and disbursed shining greenbacks among the men to the extent of nineteen dollars each, which was about one-third of the amount due. It was of course better than none, though most of the soldiers are sadly in need of money to send to families who are destitute of many necessaries of life, in consequence of the hard times at home, and the non-payment of those upon whom they are compelled to rely on support.
The guerrillas are daily becoming bolder in this section. It is but a few days since they burned the splendid tow-boat Hercules, and almost daily they capture flat boats or barges loaded with coal or provisions intended for army use at this point or down the river. If these boats can be landed at some point on the Arkansas or Tennessee shores out of reach of Federal authority, the provisions are transported back into the country and disposed of for the bones of the captors; if not, the boat is burned and the cargo destroyed. It is unsafe to venture three miles from the city without a strong guard, and wagons and teams are often captured almost in sight of the Federal lines.
Considerable change has been made among the officers of the regiment, in consequence of the late removal. Major Purrine is now Lieutenant Colonel, Capt. McClure Major, and Sergt. Major Glasserd Adjutant. The First Lieutenants are coming in place of the Captains removed.