From the Hundred and Ninth.
CAMP OF 109TH REG'T ILLS. VOLS., BOLIVAR, TENN., Nov. 16, 1862.
Editor of the Jonesboro Gazette:
We are having a multitude of frightful rumors down here — of terrible engagements with appalling slaughter — secesh driven from all their strongholds and skedaddling for warmer climes — but as yet we have had but little bloodshed. We have learned at least twenty times, from "a reliable gentleman — an officer at that — just from the battle field," that the great conflict of the war is being now hotly contested; that and the victory is reported as being with each party about equally. One time we have gained a brilliant victory — scattering the rebels to the four winds; the next, Price flanked and overpowered our army and cut our men to pieces. As all these things are supposed to be occurring about 30 miles below us, we very naturally feel some interest in the result. One thing is sure. Either Price will make tracks for the lower country, or he will be forced to fight, and, if fight it should be, it will certainly be one of the most terrible engagements of the war. The army now being collected under Grant will be, when complete, one of the finest ever marshaled on this continent. It will number at least 200 regiments of as good fighting material as ever "kept step to the music of the Union." Extensive and important movements are constantly going on here, but it would be imprudent to speak of them with any definiteness.
We of the 109th are still up to our eyes in work, and have but little time to Inquire after the affairs of our neighbors. Our guard duty is very heavy, and keeps the boys busy nearly three days out of a week. The balance of the time they devote to drill, etc. It is better so than leading a life of inactivity in camp, which breeds dissatisfaction and disease among the men. — We now have some fifty in the hospital, and about one hundred more who are not well enough for duty, not quite sick enough to go to the Hospital, but can eat their weight in bread and bacon. Our pickets made their first "capture" a few days ago. Two cavalry men belonging to a Mississippi regiment rode up to our lines and delivered themselves up, saying they were tired of the war, and desired to take the required oath of allegiance and "play quits." Capt. McIntosh, of the "Jonesboro Bull Dogs," was in command of the picket, and furnished the penitent gentlemen with a safe escort to the General's headquarters, where loyalty is supposed to be dealt out to the refractory.
There is great dissatisfaction among the soldiery of this department on account of the removal of Gen. McClellan from the command of the Army of the Potomac. — McClellan has never been the especial pet of kid-gloved officials and President-makers; but that he is the favorite of the soldiers of the army and the conservative masses of the country, I am more firmly convinced with every day's contact with them. This feeling of dissatisfaction, however, is overwhelmed by the general demonstrations of joy at the result of the late elections in the North. The soldiers regard it as an expression of the feelings of the people in their behalf. That they are no longer to endure the hardships of camp life for the purpose of securing the freedom of negroes. A majority of the soldiers of the western army are Democrats, and have no sympathy with the disgraceful policy of the administration. One thing I noticed that afforded me pleasure — the general appetite in the army for wholesome Democratic reading. I think I am safe in saying that three copies of the Chicago Times are sold down here to any of the Abolition prints. I was a little in the dark as to the matter at first. So when the newsboy came into our lines the day of our arrival here, I asked for a copy of the Chicago Times. "Have none," says the boy. "Well, you needn't come to this camp again unless you bring Democratic papers." "Oh, I started with an arm full of the Times, but I sold them all out before I got here." After that I was content to take a copy of the Tribune.
The Principal Surgeon and Second Assistant for our regiment arrived here on Wednesday. They are clever, gentlemanly men, and are doing good service in our hospital. We have about 150 men on the sick list, but none are seriously ill. Next week I will give a list of the worst cases. We have had two deaths within the past week. John F. Massey, of co. H, and Chesterfield Lee, of co. B. They were buried close to our camp, with a neat head board to mark their last resting place. — Their bodies would have been sent home, but under existing orders, no one is allowed leave of absence under any circumstances, so they could have had no attendants. It would be well if this fact could be well understood at home.
You have doubtless heard of the outrages perpetrated on the people of this country by the soldiery on their march from Corinth to LaGrange. Houses and fences were burned, farms devastated, and the whole country desolated. No heed was paid to a man's sentiments. Loyal and disloyal were served alike — all were made victims to a riotous and debauched soldiery, who have done more to bring disgrace upon our cause than they can ever hope to do good. Near this place a party of cavalry entered the house of a farmer, and learning that he had disposed of his crop of cotton, demanded the money. The man expostulated — endeavored to plead the wants of his family, but of no avail, and the money, some $1600, was taken from him, and the cavalrymen, who are supposed to be "periling their lives in the cause of the Union," rode off. They tried the same game upon a neighbor, but he refused compliance with their request, and upon their attempt to use force, the negroes of the assaulted man turned against the vandals and drove them from the place. — General Grant's late order, however, has checked these infamous proceedings, and we hope to have less of them in future to disgrace our army.
I believe I have had an accident to record each week so far. On Wednesday morning last, as the boys were preparing for guard, private John P. Cox, of co. B, had a narrow escape with his life. He was standing at the entrance of his tent, had just finished loading his gun, and was drawing the rammer, when some one stepped out of the tent and struck his foot against the cock of the gun with sufficient force to break the cap and cause a discharge of the piece. The thumb and a portion of the fore-finger were blown off the right hand of Cox, the ball grazing the arm to the shoulder, and passing out through the cape of the coat.
The 81st regiment (Col. Dollins) passed down the road day before yesterday on their way to LaGrange. The Union county boys were mostly well, and seemed rejoiced at the prospect of an early brush with the enemy.
The baggage train of the Corinth army has been passing here for several days. — On Thursday one train of nearly ten miles in length passed through. It has been followed by others of smaller size every day since.
After the most tortuous delays and peregrinations, our Sutler joined us on Friday evening. He is nearly two weeks behind the regiment, but was unable to get through on account of the great rush of troops for the reinforcement of Grant's army. He was detained a week at Columbus, and nearly as long at Jackson, the rolling stock of the railroad being inadequate to the transportation of soldiers and their baggage. Speaking of Sutlers, I may remark that this is a hard market for an unfortunate individual who is afflicted with a light pocket, to live in. Potatoes are scarce at $1 50 a bushel, bread 10 and fresh beef 12 Ë cents a pound; cheese 30 cents, and other articles at like prices. A person must take several oaths of sacrecy, wind through numberless back alleys and trap doors to obtain a common article of whisky at $12 a gallon! Our boys never need the latter article, but I have been informed by those in other regiments that such a course is necessary to obtain it.
We have had rather bad mail arrangements here for some time past, but now that there is more regularity in the arrival and departure of trains, we may look for an improvement in future. We have received but two mails from home since we reached Bolivar — nearly two weeks! I do not know whether arrangements are so uncertain in going north, but if they are, persons at home must not complain of the boys here for not writing. From a peck to a half bushel of letters are sent from the regiment every morning. Let the people at home write often, remembering that it is the source of great pleasure to a soldier to receive a missive from home.