Anecdotes from the History of the 42nd Indiana Volunteers

Source: History of the Forty-Second Indiana Volunteer Infantry, S.F. Horrall, 1892.

The regiment embarked at Owensboro, KY, on the steamer "Liberty" for Pittsburg Landing, TN, but the fleet split and the "Liberty" with the 42nd went up the Cumberland River to Nashville, TN, thus missing the Battle of Shiloh. The regiment arrived in Nashville on February 25th, 1862. A pork house was discovered near where the "Liberty" docked and several hundred pounds of meat disappeared. A staff officer sent from Head Quarters searched, but did not find an ounce. Lieutenant Colonel Charles Denby of the 42nd Indiana was heard to remark, "I don't care a G-- D--- if the 42nd boys steal the whole Southern Confederacy, but they must learn to hide (it)."

Early in the occupation of Nashville, strict orders protecting citizen's rights were issued and enforced. Even fence rails could not be taken for fires. Citizens could, and did, request guards for their property. One devout minister whose house had a picket fence and lots of chickens requested and received such a guard. One cold night the poor guard almost froze to death, but the minister never invited the guard to come inside to warm himself or offer him a hot beverage. The officer of the relief guard saw the situation, cursed the minister, and reported him to Head Quarters. The guard was not reinstated and within 24 hours the minister's picket fence and all his chickens were gone.

In April, 1862, the 42nd found itself in Fayetteville, TN. An officer returning from outpost duty, while passing a house, was confronted by a vicious dog that threatened him savagely. The officer saw no way out, so drew his sword and killed the dog. "The viciousness of the dog was as the gentlest zephyr is to the tornado, when compared to the unbridled fury of the woman of the house". Shaking her first in the officer's face, she yelled,

"What did you kill my dog for?"

Officer: "What did your dog run at me for?"

Woman: "Why didn't you hit him with the other end of that thing?"

Officer: "Why didn't your dog run at me with the other end?"

By May, 1862, the 42nd was in Huntsville, AL, with COL W.H. Lytle, 10th Ohio, commanding the brigade. The weather was extremely hot, but COL Lytle delighted in brigade evolutions (drill) which covered a great deal of ground. All the mounted officers seemed to enjoy it, too, but not the men, "... but for the comrades it was too much like boys told of who found pleasure and amusement by stoning the frogs. It was lots of fun for the boys, but rather unhealthy for the frogs."

While at Huntsville, Capt Cockrum received an order for a detail of 100 men to go some miles south of Huntsville on the Memphis & Charleston RR to cut timber to be used in constructing stockades in Huntsville. Orders were imperative under severe penalty against foraging. Rations gave out, and the men had nothing to eat or almost its equivalent - a little dry bread. One morning PVT Richard Pride, Co. G, with his ax was before Capt C's quarters, pounding on a telegraph pole vigorously. Capt C said, "Dick, what in the world are you doing?" "It's a ground-hog case, Captain. We are out of meat. I'm hungry, and am telegraphing for rations."

Two noteworthy incidents occurred at the Battle of Perryville, KY, involving the men of the 42nd Indiana. The first was the image of the national flag being shot down. It was the flag of the 10th Ohio, and when it went down, its bearer being shot, many a teardrop was seen upon the men of the 42nd at the sight and the thought that it fell by the hands of our own countrymen. The second incident was similarly sobering. It being their first general engagement, like most troops under like conditions, the men exhibited symptoms of fear; seeing this, Capt John Eigenman stepped to the front of his Company D, and put the men through the manual of arms. His example was followed by other officers, with good results. Great presence of mind by such an act was gained by officers and men. In battle it is needed.

While Chattanooga was in siege, the supply of rations was very short for a time. Andrew J. Pitts, a robust, large, and extraordinarily healthy soldier, who had never missed a duty or battle, one day hastily stuck his head into the quarters of Lt. Horrall, Co. G, and with much vehemence of speech, demanded:

"Lieutenant, I want a furlough, pretty damn quick must have it."

"Why, Andy, what in the world is up now?"

"Well, I'm so awful hungry. I just want a furlough to get one square meal before I die."

Another incident at Chattanooga was quoted from GEN John Beatty's book, "The Citizen Soldier."

It was Oct 5, 1863. "The enemy opened up on us from the point of Lookout Mountain. He did little damage, however. A shell entered the door of a dog tent, near which two soldiers were standing, and buried itself in the ground. One of the soldiers turned very coolly to the other and said: 'There, you damned fool, you see what you get by leaving your door open?' "

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