And we’ll march, march, march to the music of the drum,
We were driven forth in exile from our Old Kentucky Home,
We were driven forth in exile from our Old Kentucky Home.
~Kentucky Battle Song
Bragg and the Army of Tennessee continued to struggle through the miserable winter.
“…the weather, which was usually cold in middle Tennessee from January to March. Ice formed on the river and streams, and snow and rain frequently turned to sleet and freezing rain. Bragg’s infantry huddled in their tents and cabins, and Morgan’s men shivered in lean-tos made of fence rails and oil cloths, open to the fire in front. They went for days without taking off their boots and gusts of wind drove the rain in their faces as they slept; when they rolled over the ice on their blankets would rattle in their beds. Often they were aroused by the bugle call “boots and saddles,” and they would stumble out in the bleak winter chill. Hungry and faint, they would untie their horse from the side of the lean-to and ride for miles to check a Federal scouting party.”[i]
Their beloved Kentucky homeland continued to suffer under the occupation of Union soldiers.
The following letter was written within miles of the Evans’ family home. While difficult to follow, its halting style illustrates the difficulties of trying to write to a loved one while on the march, feeling ill, and trying to attend to one's duties.
“January 14, 1862 from Marion County, KY
Marion County KY
Jan 14 1862
I take the present opportunity to drop you a line. We are again on the March. We left Camp Morton on the 11 and have been out three days. We are ordered to London in Laurel County near Cumberland Gap but the Col. is in town to night it is said that the order has been Countermanded or that there is sealed orders for this Reg. We are camped to night 5 miles from Lebanon on the road to Danville. We were ordered to London by way of Springfield, Lebanon, Danville. If we keep on I expect that we well be in Danville day after tomorrow. I expect that we will go through the Crab Orchard.
We have cold weather, the coldest that we have had since we left home. It rained Sunday,snowed last night. The snow was wet and soft at noon. It made very sloppy walking but it was better on us than the rain Sunday.
A man got shot Sunday, accidentally. He was a citizen. He was shot in the hand. One of the advance guards went in to a mill to get out of the rain. When he went to go out, the hammer of the his gun struck the door facing which discharged his gun. I was asked to see him. The regiment got a head of me. I never overtook the Reg. till night.
We marched three days. We have come a crooked road which you may see by reference to the Map. This was in order to keep on the pike. We have but one wagon to a company. When get of the pike I do not know how we will get a long. We will get out of a pike at Danville and [it will be] a very rough road. I expect that we will have to through away some of our plunder. The boy will have to pack their knap sacks. I have a number of the boys knapsacks hauled. Many are the silent tear that steels down my cheek to see the boys tired with their heavy loads on their backs. We have a lot of little boys that would be better off at home. They are a dear expense to the government & no profit. My Company is about the best company in the Regiment.
We staid last night a mile from Springfield at one of the stronger union men's [homes]. He was worth half Million dollars and he was ready to do any thing to make us comfortable. Washington county, the county at Springfield, has eight hundred soldiers in the field. We meet with many [a] warm reception. Some however, not so. The warmest reception that I expect to have is when you and I shall meet. When that will be I am not now able to conjecture. I had hoped that I would have seen you soon but that hope is blasted for the present. I hope that the time will not be longer. I hope and believe that the time is not far till this Rebellion will seace [cease] it must seaec [cease] it cannot continue at such a grand scale as it is now carried on.
I am in tolerable health. I have been sick. I had the flux. I was very weak when we started on the present march. I was reported sick on the day that we marched. I expected to have to go to the Hospital at Bardstown. When the boys started [without me] the boys looked like little children without a mother. I have got better every day since we started. Our boys are generally well. John & Tom Buskirk stand the march very well. I had John’s knapsack hauled to day.
I would like to be at home to see you and the children too. Time seems long since I saw you. I would like to see little Billy. I expect that he often talks of me. I know that he will never forget me [and that] the other children often think of me. I know that they love and respect me. I know that you have taught them such lessons.
Since I have been unwell Adjutant Quinn has not put me on duty. We [take turns] being officer of the day. I have not served since I have been complaining. Had Capt Quinn not been a good fellow and a particular friend I would have had to have gone to the hospital or [have had to take] my turn [at being officer of the day]. Major Thornton let me ride his Horse to day. The Major is as clever as he knows how to be. If you in future years ever see Quinn, I hope you will esteem him for the favors to one that is as near to you. Also if ever you should see a man [named, or] any of the family of Thomas Glessner of Bardstown. When he heard that I was sick, he sent me word to come to his house. I should have a room and he would take care of me with out any pay. When I came through Bardstown [on]Sunday he begged me to stay with him until I got well or to stay at his house till Tuesday morning and then to take the rail road to Lebanon. He was a good union man that I boarded with when I was attending the Hospital [Ritter studied medicine at the University of Louisville].
I must close. I have so many things to say to you that may paper never holds out.
J A Ritter”
~ Captain John A. Ritter, M.D. 49th Indiana Volunteers[ii]
[i] James A. Ramage, “Rebel Raider” chap. 13, p.149
[ii] Civil War letters of Captain John A. Ritter, M.D. 49th Indiana Volunteers