The following letter was written by Charles N. Taylor a young man who lived in Minersville before moving to Indiana. During the Civil War Taylor enlisted in the 84th Indiana regiment and wrote many letters to the Miners Journal.
This letter is such a good example of the life of the common soldier in the civil war. This letter could have been written by a soldier from any war past or present.
FROM THE 84TH INDIANA VOLUNTEER REGIMENT
HEADQUARTERS COMPANBY E 84TH INDIANA REGIMENT
2nd Div, 2nd Brigade, 4th A.C.
Okrrwah Station, Feb. 4th 1864
Editors Miners Journal: Since my last letter to you I have taken a long march and changed my place of encampment. We were seeing easy time and had good and comfortable dog house erected: were drawing full rations and had drawn light bread three times. After we had drawn twice, the boys said we would leave in a few days. Why? Because we are drawing light bread? It is ever so. I have ever known it to fail, that when ever we draw light bread, and had good and comfortable quarters, that we were sure to leave in a few days. Such was our day when we were at Shell Mound. On the morning of the 25th ult. At reveille we had orders top be ready at 10 a.m., to march. After breakfast all was in an uproar in the camp, packing boxes. At 10 a.m. the brigade took up the line of March., the 1st brigade in the advance. The 2nd Brigade only marched 3 miles. The weather clear and pleasant. Early the next morning we took up the line of march again. Today our road runs through what is called the narrows. The dirt road runs between the railroad and the river. And is only wide enough for one wagon to run on. The first brigade being in the advance with their teams, together with Division teams they cut up the road so badly that it was almost impossible for teams laden as ours were, to come through, therefore we made slow progress the first two days having only marched about six miles. The next morning early, we again took up the line of march and passed through Whiteside. This is a small station on the K&C R.R. and before the taking of Lookout Mountain. Was a post of the utmost importance and extreme danger though it was fortified and garrisoned by old and experienced soldiers, viz: 36th and 30th Indiana , 77th Pa. and 84th Ill. With the 4th U.S. Battery, Col. Grosse, of the 36th Ind. Commanded the Brigade. The troops here also had good and comfortable quarters erected and like ourselves had to leave them. So it is with the soldier. After he has himself comfortably fixed and about to compliment himself upon his good workmanship upon his dog houses he receives orders to leave. He takes it all easy and thinks that if he has to go some of his brother soldiers will receive the benefits of them.
Oh the life of a soldier is the life for me,
He takes his duty merrily,
The winds can whistle, while he can sing,
Still faithful to his friends and kin.
We marched until about 4 p.m. when we went into camp for the night, on the bank of Lookout Creek, we having marched 12 miles today. Moccasin point is plainly to be seen and as I look across the Tennessee River and see our old camping ground, it recalls to my mind the dangers and hardships we endured while there. There are built there now good and comfortable barracks. While we lay there five weeks without blankets and tents and on half rations, our duties were so heavy we had no time to erect barracks. There is Lookout Mt. how different it looks now. How different this place looks now from that it had in Sept. 1863. The railroad has been completed and the trains loaded and rations and running daily. The commissary stores are stored away in all directions, and in general it presents quite a military appearance. We marched some tree miles south of town, where we went into camp for the night at the foot of mission ridge, on the battleground of November last.
The next morning we took up the line of march, crossed the ridge, Chickamauga creek, and then went into camp on a ridge among the trees. We lay here in camp for three days, when we again took up the line of march for this place, distance from our camp some 8 miles. It was about 10.a.m. when we started, and we went into camp here about 2 p.m. pretty fast march8ing I thought. And all of use obliged to labor under great disadvantages .viz: knapsacks or all our wardrobe and furniture, an advantage we posses that when we move we are able to take all our goods and chattels with us upon our backs. We are now lying at the above mentioned station. Enjoying ourselves as all soldiers should. The rebels are only seven miles distant, but what cares the soldier for them? We fear them not.
“Tis much he dares
And to that dauntless temper of his mind
He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valor
To act in safety”
There is a small stream here named Wolf-teaver. The railroad crosses it by means of a bridge, built mostly of stone. The wood work has been destroyed by the rebels, but as I am writing, I look down toward it and see an engine is there and competent hands at work who will so repair the same in six hours that the cars can run across in safety. In the course of a few days, should nothing unexpected turn up the cars will run through to that contested place, Knoxville.
How does the war fever rage in your peaceful town? Is there a prospect of this cruel war being over? As I am, writing how my memory wonders, I am away there in your quiet town, then at home with my parents. Then in another moment all is over, and I find myself here in east Tennessee, in my dog tent. Paper, pen and ink before me and surrounded on all sides by brother soldiers, who like, myself, have responded to their country’s call and to protect that flag, which in the opinion of a few mean an unprincipled politicians and demagogues, ought to be trampled into the dust. Never shall that be done though, while there are left a few young patriots, though many have fallen and are now quietly sleeping beneath the green sward. Yes, many a brave companion I have lost, but they were fghti9ng for a good and just cause, the maintenance of the constitution, and for that blood bought emblem the stars and stripes bestowed on us by or forefathers. Still these stay at home cowards and politicians would fain see it go down. That never shall be, No never !
Prate on vile traitors,
Thou can’t hurt no soldier’s fame with thou ill words,
Though tongues are as harmless as thy swords,
But keep clear of us boys
I will close this letter by stating that the heath of the regiment is good and mine also.
C.N.T. 84th Co. E Indiana Volunteers