From the Hundred and Ninth.
MEMPHIS, TENN., Feb. 7, 1863.
To the Editor of the Jonesboro Gazette.
Nearly six months in the service, and "nary darned red of pay." That is the common ejaculation of the soldiers of this Department, and the 109th can now feelingly respond. This matter of neglecting to pay the soldiers, is having its effect, and next to the odious nigger policy of the war, is the great cause of the utter demoralization of this army. I venture the assertion that the splendid army of General Grant, which six months ago started out flushed with the hope of sweeping treason from the delta to the Gulf, and planting the flag of the Republic on the sandy coast of Louisiana, is to-day the worst demoralized and most thoroughly dissatisfied body of men ever congregated together in the capacity of an army. This dissatisfaction is not confined to one or two regiments, but is general throughout all the troops of the last levy. They see too much regard paid to the welfare, and too much labor expended for the benefit of vagabond negroes, while white soldiers are compelled to endure the hardships of the tented field. — They are hungry for want of rations, ragged for want of clothes, tired from long marches and excessive duty, discouraged from repeated defeats in battle, and at heart opposed to the insane policy of the administration. Their families at home are in need of the commonest comforts of life, gaunt starvation threatens their crying children, and the pay they have earned at the peril of life, is being squandered by an Abolition dynasty to carry out the pet Black Republican scheme of nigger equality. That this war is a "John Brown raid" on an extensive scale, subverted from its original purpose of restoring the Union to subjugating the southern country, devastating its fertile fields, and turning loose upon us a horde of four millions of barbarians, is plain to the most casual observer. The mass of the soldiers are satisfied of it, and even the old troops are fast becoming convinced that such is the case. Is it any wonder that an utter demoralization of the army is the result? The mass of the people were never favorable to the mad policy of Greeley, Lincoln, & Co., and now that they are soldiers, into which capacity they were deceived under the pretence the Union, they are determined not to be made pliant tools of such men as Sumner, Phillips, and their follow traitors, for the accomplishment of the damnable designs of the party in power. Their determination in this respect is greatly strengthened by the noble stand taken by the people at home. The unanimous uprising of the masses of the North in resistance to the aggressions of the administration, threatening the subversion of the people's liberties, and the overthrow of our past liberal form of government, is evidence that the people are capable of self-government. Let them not look back. — Their position is a good one, and on their success in driving back the threatened destroyers of their liberties, hang the fondest hopes of the friends of constitutional liberty. God give them success. They must have it, or the proud fabric of our fathers, which formed an asylum for the oppressed of earth, and was a grand monument of the wisdom of its founders, will be struck down by traitorous hands, and on its ruins erected an Abolition despotism.
One evidence of the healthy sentiment among the soldiers, is the universal demand for wholesome reading matter. The Tribunes and Journals have some little sale among officers, but that gallant sheet, the Chicago Times, is the soldiers' organ, and I have no hesitation in saying that three copies of it are sold in this Department to one of any other paper. As an instance: A few days ago, I inquired of a newsboy who came into our camp, of which paper he sold the greatest number. "The Times," he answered; "I started from town an hour ago with one hundred and twenty-six numbers of the Times, and fifty of each the Tribune, St. Louis Republican and Democrat. The Republicans are nearly all gone, and here is the last Times," for which your correspondent gladly paid the legal sum of ten cents. And this is only one newsboy out of scores. In fact, many of them carry no other paper but the Times, as all others have a dull sale when there is a plentiful supply of that staunch Democratic organ on hand. The Black Republican advocates of negro equality curse it as a secession sheet; but if it is secesh, certainly two-thirds of the army of the West is infected with the same malady.
In Memphis, as in most of the other towns we have stopped, there are immense numbers of negroes, who have left comfortable homes and kind masters in search of that jewel called "freedom." The miserable creatures are huddled together into old dilapidated buildings and worn-our tents on the outskirts of town, where filth, vermin and disease hold high revel. They are fed and clothed at government expense, which fact the people will more clearly understand when they come to foot the bill with pork at three cents a pound! Smallpox, in its most violent form, has broken out among the negroes here, and they are dying at the rate of fifty to a hundred a day. The honors paid in depositing in their last resting places the mortal remains of these defunct Africans, shows the depth of Abolition philanthropy. A six-mule government team drives down to the quarters, takes on a load much as cordwood is stacked in a wagon bed, and the solemn train moves on. A large hole is prepared, and the corpses are dumped in by the sympathizing attendants seizing Sambo by the wool and pulling him out of the hind-gate of the bed. When the feet are clear, the upper hold is released, and the body drops upon the ground as delicately as a chunk of lead. A couple of kicks admits it in the grave. The whole load is similarly disposed of. Three or four shovels of dirt cover them, scarcely from sight, and the team rattles off for a new load. It may be said that this is not quite up to Sambo's expectations, and he is becoming about as tired of his new master as the soldiers are of his presence. They all long for "old massa's" plentiful board, and I sincerely hope they may some day find it.
We have had a lively time in camp the past week. Our staunch old Democratic friends, S. T. Hunsaker, Preston Anderson, David Lenee, Jacob Rinehart, George Pool, C. Hileman, Samuel Brown and Wash. and Alson Lingle paid as a most welcome visit on Tuesday. It is needless to say they were hospitably received, and treated to the "cream" of camp life. Their familiar faces reminded us of old times, when peace found us a happy and prosperous people. Let others of our friends do likewise. On the same day, Parson Kroh and Dr. Durand rejoined the regiment. The former succeeded admirably in his mission of collecting sanitary stores for the needy of the regiment. A bushel of letters, more or less, brought down by the Parson, added greatly to the good feeling of the boys, and three-fourths of the entire regiment were soon immersed in searching their welcome messengers from home. Leaning up against tents, seated on a stick of wood squatted on the ground, crouched up behind old stumps, or standing in the alleys, they were learning of the condition of affairs far away. And the expressions of countenance were as varied as the positions of the anxious readers themselves. A suppressed laugh comes from one, as some adventure, "rich, rare and racy," is narrated by absent friends; a faint smile from another, as mother or sister speaks in a homelike way of funny pranks of "little Willie", a tear courses silently down the check of a third, as he learns for the first time of the death of a dear relative or cherished friend. Thirty-five boxes, with nearly four thousand pounds of stores, attested the anxiety of our friends at home for our comfort. The boxes were taken in charge by those to whom they were marked, and their contents quickly and anxiously examined. Here is a poor fellow with his toes protruding through worn-out shoes, gladdened at receiving a new stout pair of boots, which father hopes will "do him good service"; next comes a nice warm pair of socks — a decided luxury to a soldier — fresh from sister's own hands; here is a layer of onions, warranted sound, a row of cans of preserved peaches, blackberries or tomatoes, with a number of green apples for "filling"; a half dozen Gazettes or Chicago Times for reading matter, divide the above articles from a rich fruit of pound cake — the nicest mother could make — a little layer of fried-cakes and a delicious pie, with two or three rolls of sweet butter, the first of that decided luxury we had seen since leaving home; a lot of dried peaches or apples invariably accompanied such box or bag, and are a real relish to the boys. The Parson is entitled to and receives the thanks of the whole regiment for his exertions in collecting and securing safe transportation for his cargo. He proposes to return in a few weeks, if our location is easy of access, and obtain another supply. As he actually "sold none" of the articles intrusted to his care, but delivered them in good condition to those for whom they were intended, it is probable the folks will have no hesitation in trusting to him.
I regret that I cannot inform your readers of any improvement in the health of our regiment. The very unfavorable weather of the last month has filled not only our hospital, but also the other hospitals of this vicinity. We now report 230 men on the sick list, 120 absent, and only 220 for duty, exclusive of corporals, sergeants and nurses in hospital. This is not a very cheering record, when it is remembered that we left home on the 19th day of Octobers last with 970 men, all told. — Our aggregate now foots 707, officers included. But we have suffered no more severely than the 120th regiment, from Vienna, which is also encamped in the Fort. Their sick list exceeds ours, and their return of men for duty is smaller, proportionate to the total strength of the regiment, than ours. The same may be said of the 117th, raised in St. Clair county, 130th from the central part of the State, and all the other new regiments in this locality. It must not be supposed that all the men reported on the sick list are seriously ill, but only unfit for active duty. There are about 40 in our hospital, not more than one-sixth of whom are dangerously sick. The remaining 190 are afflicted with bad colds, occasional chills, diarrhea, etc. Our hospital was a few days ago supplied with thirty-five new cots, and a very complete stock of medicines, of which articles we were sadly in need. — Before they were obtained, however, disease had gained so strong a hold on several of the men, that they were beyond the reach of medical skill. Much was added to the comfort of the patients through the exertions of our faithful Hospital Steward, Dr. Durand, who at once set to work to improve the condition of the sick immediately on reaching the regiment. Through his efforts, nice chicken soup was furnished the men once a day, and a good supply of comforters, blankets, pillows, a new woolen shirt and a pair of good socks for each patient, together with a few bottles of wine and other luxuries, were obtained through the Sanitary Commission.
The following is a list of the dangerous cases in hospital: John Abernathy, co. F, typhoid dysentery; Samuel Harris, co. K, gastrites; Thomas Boswell, co. E, diseased liver; Henry Miller, co. I, disentery; John McCrite, co. B, relapse pneumonia; Wm. Carothers, co. H, pneumonia; Charles Atherton, co. K, debility; and Joseph Johnson, co. D, tonsilitis. The following cases are not regarded as serious: A. H. Keith, co. B, inflammatory rheumatism; Wm. Finney, co. F, diarrhea; Thomas Thornton co. C, bronchitis; James Dexter, co. B, bilious fever; James Manus, co. H, jaundice; W. Chapman, co. K, diarrhea; Aaron Barringer, co. I, jaundice and disease of kidneys (bad); — Slaughter, co. F, (bad); 1st Lieut. A. L. Misenhimer, co. I, dysentery; 1st Lieut. Robt. Bartleston, co. K, bilious fever; Wm. Martin, co. C, bilious fever; Syrian Corzine and Alfred Rinehart, co. A, winter fever; Wm. C. Keller, co. A, relapse of measles. The following deaths have occurred since my last report: William Frazier, co. D, of piles, on Sunday, Feb. 1st; W. S. Crow, co. H, Feb. 4; Aaron Shepard, co. K, Feb. 2; Cornelius Little, co. K, Feb. 3; James Woodward, co. K, Feb. 3; John Woods, co. G, Feb. 2. The following deaths have occurred at distant hospitals: James H. Henderson, co. H, Jackson, Tenn.; John R. Munn, co. A, LaGrange; James Dempsey, co. D, Mound City; Aaron Hankley, co. C, Chas. Lence and Zadoc Stroud, co. G, Nathan M. Mason and Moses Barringer, co. I, all at LaGrange.
The discharged men, whom I mentioned in my last letter, left here for home on Monday last. Certificates of discharge have since been issued to Robt. F. Nimmo, co. D, tuberculosis; Benjamin Harris, co. H, hernia; Newton J. Perry, co. D, sore eyes; John H. Boswell, co. E, hernia; Thomas Hinkle, co. G, injury to foot by R. R. train at Bolivar in November last; Aaron R. Barringer, co. I, diseased kidneys; William Staten, co. K, injured foot; Daniel Kesler, scrofula, who will doubtless be at home before this communication sees light. J. E.