Confederate Spirits are High
October 6, 1862. The optimism and upbeat spirit of the Confederate army prior to its confrontation with Union forces at the Battle of Perryville in Kentucky (October 8, 1862) can be gauged by a passage from Sam Watkins’s memoir of his war experiences. Watkins served in a Tennessee regiment that began the war with about 1,200 men and ended with 65.
He wrote on October 6, “I remember how gladly the citizens of Kentucky received us. I thought they had the prettiest girls that God ever made. They could not do too much for us. They had heaps and stacks of cooked rations along our route, with wine and cider everywhere, and the glad shouts of ‘Hurrah for our Southern boys!’ greeted and welcomed us at every house. . . We were in an ecstasy akin to heaven. We were happy; the troops were jubilant; our manhood blood pulsated more warmly; our patriotism was awakened; our pride was renewed and stood ready for any emergency; we felt that one Southern man could whip twenty Yankees. All was lovely and the goose was hung high.”
Sam R. Watkins, First Tennessee Regiment, excerpted from Co. Aytch: Or, a Sideshow of the Big Show, Feather Tail Press. (Watkins served in Company H, hence the title of his memoir.)
Union Morale Sapped by Insufficient Support, War Profiteering, and Even, Perhaps, Betrayal
October 6, 1862. Meanwhile, Sgt. Elisha Hunt Rhodes of the Second Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry was camped with the rest of the Union Sixth Corps in an oak grove near Downsville, Maryland. In contrast with Watkins, Rhodes’s journal entry for October 6 expresses some of
the suspicions in the North at the time of insufficient support, war profiteering, and even, perhaps, betrayal.
He wrote that the nights were cold and the tents inadequate, so the men spent much of their time around big campfires. “But we do not complain, as it is all for the Union,” he wrote, adding: “The war will not end until the North wakes up. As it is now conducted it seems to me to be a grand farce. When certain politicians, Army contractors and traitors North are put out of the way, we shall succeed.”
Elisha Hunt Rhodes, Second Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry, excerpted from All For The Union: The Civil War Diary and Letters of Elisha Hunt Rhodes, Vintage Civil War Library.
– Both pieces submitted by Bill Halainen, Milford, Pennsylvania