HEARING about this time of the extreme illness of my Bishop, the Right Reverend James Hervey Otey, in Jackson, Mississippi, I left Norfolk, with considerable regret, for the society of that city I had found most charming, and my stay there had been very pleasant. I went by way of Mobile, having for my travelling companion from Montgomery, Alabama, to that city, Captain J. F. Lay, a brother of the then Bishop of Arkansas. The Captain was a member of Beauregard's staff.
General Forney was in command at Mobile and I had a very pleasant chat with him. His left arm was still almost useless from a severe wound received in the Dranesville fight. I met also the Rev. Mr. Pierce, who afterwards became Bishop of Arkansas; and Madame Le Vert, one of the most distinguished of Southern writers. I had a drive down the bay over one of the finest shell roads in the world. And on the Sunday that I spent in Mobile, I preached my "war sermon," - adapted, of course, to the people of Mobile.
I found my beloved Bishop at the residence of Mrs. George Yerger, in Jackson, and remained in attendance on him for several weeks. He was then removed from Jackson to the residence of Mrs. Johnstone at Annandale. There he enjoyed all that kindness and wealth could give. He was able to drive out after a time, and I remember how thoroughly he enjoyed the music of the spring birds. There was one bird that he called the "wood-robin," whose notes were especially enjoyed, and the carriage was frequently stopped that he might listen to the warbling of this bird.
From Annandale I went to visit my family in Rome, Georgia, and spent some time in attendance upon the hospitals there. Then I returned to General Loring's headquarters for a brief visit to the General to whom I was warmly attached, and to make farewell visits to sundry officers and bid my old military companions a final adieu. For my intention it then was to leave the army.
General Loring's headquarters were at New River, Virginia, at a place called the Narrows, because the river gashed through Peter's Mountain, which rises abruptly from the banks on either side. The General and all the staff gave me a most cordial greeting, but the former told me that I had no business to resign and that he had kept the place open for me. If I would not be his aide he had a place for me as chaplain. But my resignation had already been accepted on the 14th of June by the Secretary of War. As soon as I had determined to resign, I forwarded to the Secretary of War a copy of my resignation to General Loring and the former had accepted it.
The General, Colonel Myer, Colonel Fitzhugh and myself, with a cavalry escort, went for a little outing to the Salt Sulphur Springs, dining on our way at the Gray Sulphur Springs. The former place was really one of the pleasantest of all the watering places I visited in Virginia. The grounds were rolling, well laid out and very well shaded. The houses were principally of stone and capable of accommodating about four hundred guests.
There were two springs of great value there, the Salt Sulphur and the Iodine. The first possessed all the sensible properties of sulphur water in general; its odor, for instance, was very like that of a "tolerable egg," and might be perceived at some distance from the Spring; and in taste it was cousin-german to a strong solution of Epsom salts and magnesia. Like most of the sulphurous, this water was transparent and deposited a whitish sediment composed of its various saline ingredients mingled with sulphur.
The Iodine Spring was altogether remarkable and was the only one possessing similar properties in all the country round. It was peculiarly adapted to cutaneous eruptions and glandular diseases. The Salt Sulphur Spring was hemmed in on every side by mountains.
General William Wing Loring, of whom I was then taking my leave, was not only a very charming companion but he was altogether a remarkable man. A braver man never lived. He was a North Carolinian by birth, and only a few years older than myself. Yet he was already the hero of three wars - the Seminole War, the War with Mexico and that in which we were then engaged. And in 1849 he had marched across the continent to Oregon with some United States troops as an escort for a party of gold-seekers. He had also engaged in Indian warfare and had taken part in the Utah Expedition in 1858. His frontier services in the United States Army were equalled only by those of that grand soldier, Albert Sidney Johnston. The following year, he had leave of absence from the army and visited Europe, Egypt and the Holy Land. He was in command of the Department of New Mexico in May 1861 and resigned to accept a commission as Brigadier-General in the Confederate Army.
As Major-General he served to the end of the war, leading a Division and frequently commanding a corps - always with credit to himself and to the service in which he was engaged. It was at Vicksburg, in 1863, that he received the familiar nickname of "Old Blizzard." After the war he took service with the Khedive of Egypt as General of Brigade and was decorated in 1875 with the "Imperial Order of Osmariah," and was promoted to be General of a Division. Four years later he was mustered out of the Egyptian service. In 1883 he published "A Confederate Soldier in Egypt," - a most readable book. He died in New York city three years later at the age of sixty-eight.
I officiated at his funeral in St. Augustine, Florida, on the 19th of March, 1886. The commanding General of the Army post at St. Augustine acted as one of the pall-bearers, and at the cemetery the body was borne from the gun-carriage to the grave by three Federal and three ex-Confederate soldiers. A salute was fired at the grave by a battery of United States Artillery.
I had looked toward the Diocese of Alabama for some parochial work, but the Bishop of Alabama, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Wilmer, not only could offer me no work in his jurisdiction, but strongly advised me to go back to the army as chaplain and surgeon, assuring me that there was work for me in that capacity. In June, I had a petition from my old regiment to rejoin it. I had no difficulty in getting a chaplain's commission. General Loring wrote me a strong letter, and that, with the aid of a telegram from General (and Bishop) Polk, secured it. So I returned to the Army of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and was enthusiastically received by the officers and members of my regiment; and especially by General Polk and his staff, upon which I found my dear friends Colonel Harry Yeatman, Colonel William B. Richmond and Colonel William D. Gale.
In August 1862 we advanced into Kentucky, crossing over Walden's Ridge and the Cumberland Mountains by way of Pikeville and Sparta, Tennessee. My first intention was to leave Chattanooga with General Polk and his staff, but on finding that Dr. Buist was going alone, I concluded to accompany him. So we two started off at 10 a.m. on the 28th of August, and following the route of our immense wagon train, which stretched out for miles along the road, we supposed we were all right and knew nothing to the contrary until we reached the top of Walden's Ridge where we found General Bragg, General Buckner and Governor Harris. The Governor put us right as to our way and we had a long ride back to get into the road taken by our Brigade, which was quite different from that taken by the wagon train.
We rode until after four o'clock in the afternoon, and then stopped at a house that was crowded with soldiers and refugees. We had a bed made on the floor for us and, with many others, slept well until I a.m., when we started on, and after a couple of hours learned that the army had halted. We rode into camp, about thirty miles from Chattanooga, at dinner time with ravenous appetites. We were having pretty good living just then, for the country was admirably watered. A great many country women visited our camp to hear our band play.
We continued our march to Mumfordville, Kentucky, where the Louisville and Nashville Railroad crosses Green River. There on the 16th of September, with a loss of fifty killed and wounded, we captured some four thousand prisoners with as many guns and much ammunition, besides killing and wounding seven hundred of the enemy. The Federal forces were commanded by General Wilder, since the war a most prominent citizen of Chattanooga, for whom I entertain the heartiest and most cordial regard. General Chalmers, one of General Bragg's brigadiers, was conspicuous in this fight for the gallantry and skill with which he handled his troops. When the Federal forces surrendered on the 17th, I stood beside the road and saw them lay down their arms. Though there were but four thousand, I thought as they passed by me that the whole Federal Army had surrendered to General Bragg. The night following this battle I found a sleeping place in a graveyard.
On the 23rd of September we reached Bardstown, Kentucky, and took possession. In the meantime General Buell, leaving a strong guard at Nashville, marched to Louisville where his army was increased to fully one hundred thousand men. It was not until October and after he had reorganized his army and was in danger of being superseded in the command thereof that he began his campaign against General Bragg's forces. The latter had collected an immense train, mostly of Federal army wagons loaded with supplies. And it being clear that the two great objects of our invasion of Kentucky - the evacuation of Nashville and the inducement of Kentucky to join the Confederacy - would fail, Bragg decided only to gain time to effect a retreat with his spoils. He harrassed the advance of Buell on Bardstown and Springfield, retired to Danville and thence marched to Harrodsburg to effect a juncture with General Kirby-Smith.
On the 7th of October he moved to Perryville, where on Wednesday, the 8th, a battle was fought between a portion of Bragg's army and Buell's advance, commanded by General McCook. At this battle of Perryville our regiment captured from the Federals four twelve-pounder Napoleon brass guns, which were afterwards, by special order, presented to the battery of Maney's Brigade.
The night before the battle I shared blankets in a barnyard with General Leonidas Polk, Bishop of Louisiana. The battle began at break of day by an artillery duel, the Federal battery being commanded by Colonel Charles Carroll Parsons and the Confederates by Captain William W. Carnes. Colonel Parsons was a graduate of West Point and Captain Carnes was a graduate of the Naval Academy at Annapolis. I took position upon an eminence at no great distance, commanding a fine view of the engagement, and there I watched the progress of the battle until duty called me elsewhere.
Captain Carnes managed his battery with the greatest skill, killing and wounding nearly all the officers, men and horses connected with Parsons' battery. Parsons fought with great bravery and coolness and continued fighting a single gun until the Confederate infantry advanced. The officer in command ordered Colonel Parsons to be shot down. As the muskets were leveled at him, he drew his sword and stood at "parade rest," ready to receive the fire. The Confederate Colonel was so impressed with this display of calm courage that he ordered the guns lowered, saying: "No! you shall not shoot down such a brave man!" And Colonel Parsons was allowed to walk off the field.
Subsequently I captured Colonel Parsons for the ministry of the Church in the Diocese of Tennessee. He was brevetted for his bravery at Perryville and he performed other feats of bravery in the war. At Murfreesboro he repelled six charges, much of the time under musketry fire. He was often mentioned in official reports of battles. After the war he was on frontier duty until 1868 when he returned to West Point as a Professor. Shortly after my consecration as Bishop of Tennessee, I preached in the Church of the Holy Trinity, Brooklyn, New York, on "Repentance and the Divine Life." This sermon made a deep impression upon Colonel Parsons, as he told me when I subsequently met him at a reception at the residence of the Hon. Hamilton Fish.
I visited him twice at West Point by his invitation, and a correspondence sprang up between us. In 1870 he resigned his commission in the army to enter the ministry. He studied theology with me at Memphis, and it was my privilege to ordain him to the diaconate and advance him to the priesthood. His first work was at Memphis. Then for a while he was at Cold Spring, New York. He returned, however, to Memphis and became rector of a parish of which Mr. Jefferson Davis was a member and a vestryman. He remained heroically at his post of duty during the great epidemic of yellow fever in 1878. He was stricken with the fever and died at my Episcopal residence on the 6th of September. Captain Carnes was the first man I confirmed after my consecration to the Episcopate of Tennessee.
With the advance of Cheatham's division the battle of Perryville began in good earnest. General Cheatham was supported by General Cleburne and General Bushrod Johnson, but it was not long before the whole Confederate line from right to left was advancing steadily, driving back the enemy. It was a fierce struggle. Until nightfall the battle raged with unexampled fury, - a perfect hurricane of shell tore up the earth and scattered death on all sides, while the storm of musketry mowed down the opposing ranks. Maney's Brigade did the most brilliant fighting of the day. It was in the charge by which the Federal Battery was captured that Major-General Jackson of the Federal Army was killed.
It was shortly after noon that the battle began with a sudden crash followed by a prolonged roar. I was resting at the time in the woods, discussing questions of theology with the Rev. Dr. Joseph Cross, a Wesleyan chaplain whom I had first met on the march into Kentucky. I sprang to my horse at once and said to him: "Let us go! There will be work enough for us presently!" He mounted his horse and followed me up a hill where we paused in full view of the enemy's line. I dismounted and sat down in the shelter of a large tree, saying as I did so: "You better get off your horse! The enemy is training a battery this way and there will be a shell here in a short time!"
Scarcely were the warning words uttered than a shell struck the tree twenty feet above my head and a shower of wooden splinters fell about me. I jumped into my saddle again and rode at full speed down the hill, followed by my friend, who shouted with laughter at what he called my resemblance to an enormous bird in flight, with my long coat-skirts like wings lying horizontal on the air. When he overtook me at the creek, I said to him: "This is the place. You will remain with me and I shall give you something more serious to do than laughing at a flying buzzard." Dr. Cross assisted me that fearful day. We met many times subsequently during the war and afterwards, I ordained him deacon and priest, and he was for a time on my staff of clergy in the Diocese of Tennessee.
When the wounded were brought to the rear, at three o'clock in the afternoon, I took my place as a surgeon on Chaplain's Creek, and throughout the rest of the day and until half past five the next morning, without food of any sort, I was incessantly occupied with the wounded. It was a horrible night I spent, - God save me from such another. I suppose excitement kept me up. About half past five in the morning of the 9th, I dropped, - I could do no more. I went out by myself and leaning against a fence, I wept like a child. And all that day I was so unnerved that if any one asked me about the regiment, I could make no reply without tears. Having taken off my shirt to tear into strips to make bandages, I took a severe cold.
The total loss of the Confederates, (whose force numbered of all arms only 16,000), was 510 killed, 2,635 wounded and 251 captured or missing, and of this loss a great part was sustained by our regiment. How well I remember the wounded men! One of the Rock City Guard, brought to me mortally wounded, cried out: "Oh, Doctor, I have been praying ever since I was shot that I might be brought to you." One of the captains was wounded mortally, it was thought at first, but it was afterwards learned that the ball which struck him in the side, instead of passing through his body, had passed around under the integuments. Lieutenant Woolridge had both eyes shot out and still lives. A stripling of fifteen years fell in the battle apparently dead, shot through the neck and collar-bone, but is still living. Lieutenant-Colonel Patterson was killed at his side. The latter was wounded in the arm early in the action. He bound his handkerchief around his arm and in the most gallant and dashing style urged his men forward until a grape shot struck him in the face killing him instantly.
Two days after the battle I went to the enemy's line with a flag of truce. And the following day General Polk, (who had won the hearts of the whole army), asked me to go with him to the church in Harrodsburg. I obtained the key and as we entered the holy house, I think that we both felt that we were in the presence of God. General Polk threw his arms about my neck and said: "Oh, for the blessed days when we walked in the house of God as friends! Let us have prayer!"
I vested myself with surplice and stole and entered the sanctuary. The General knelt at the altar railing. I said the Litany, used proper prayers and supplications, and then turned to the dear Bishop and General and pronounced the benediction from the office for the visitation of the sick. "Unto God's gracious mercy and protection I commit thee. The Lord bless thee and keep thee. The Lord make His face to shine upon thee and be gracious unto thee. The Lord lift up the light of His countenance upon thee and give thee peace, both now and evermore. Amen."
The Bishop bowed his head upon the railing and wept like a child on its mother's breast. Shortly after this service, General Kirby-Smith begged me that he might go to the church with me, so I returned, and he too was refreshed at God's altar.
General Kirby-Smith was a most remarkable character. A few years later it was my pleasure to have him as one of my neighbors at Sewanee, Tennessee, where he did much towards making the University of the South what it is. He was kindly, big-hearted, and no man was a better friend. He was a very devoted communicant of the church, and during the war, whenever opportunity offered, he held services and officiated as lay-reader. In an epidemic of cholera at Nashville, some years after the war, he was called upon to say the burial office over his own rector who had died of the dread disease. He entered upon his duties in the University of the South in 1875, as Professor of Mathematics and gave a great deal of attention to botany and natural science.
His end on the 28th of March, 1893, was very peaceful. He died as he had lived - bright, strong in his Christian faith and hope. One of his last connected utterances was the fourth verse from the twenty-third Psalm. On Good Friday, the 31st of March, 1893, it was my high privilege to commit his body to the earth in the cemetery at Sewanee: