Friday, March 31, 2017

Everett Rainey - Gone for a Soldier: Part 2

Army River Transport
[Part 2 of "Everett" - excerpts from Pat Raney's novella about our Great-great grandfather Everett Rainey's service as a Union soldier in the American Civil War. Part 1 ended with Everett's return home to recuperate from a near-fatal illness. He returned to his unit in early May, 1863. A popular Civil War camp parody of Stephen Foster's "Hard Times Come Again No More" was Hard Tack Come Again No More HERE
Actual hardtack from 1862

Smithland in southwest Kentucky at the confluence of the Cumberland and Ohio rivers.
The spring of 1863 warmed and activities in the 91st Regiment, and particularly those of B Company, heated up.  The unit left Smithland, Kentucky, on June 15th and marched through the countryside, arriving at Russellville on June 22nd.  Wherever they camped along the way, they were plagued by insects hatching early. 
Russellville, Logan County, Kentucky. Confederate sentiment was strong in the Blue Grass and western Kentucky. The residents of the mountainous eastern section were mainly small farmers and pro-Union.
There was little relief from vermin at Russellville and they looked forward to the next move.  That came on June 27th when the company was ordered eastward to Glasgow, Kentucky, away from the Cumberland River bottoms. There biting bugs diminished, much to the relief of all.

Glasgow, Barren County, Kentucky
The 91st Regiment was part of the Army of the Ohio and the XXIII Corps and on June 1, 1863, General James M. Shackelford, commander of the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division (his biography HERE), issued orders for Company B to attempt to intercept rebel guerrilla leader, General John Hunt Morgan and his troops (Morgan's biography HERE).
Confederate General John Hunt Morgan
A quick march of twenty-two miles took them to the vicinity of Marrowbone Stream, but Morgan evaded them.  They turned north toward Columbia, pursuing Morgan for five days. On the evening of the 6th they were about eight miles from Lebanon. 
Lebanon, Marion County, Kentucky
A horseman burst through nearby brush, startling the soldiers. By the grace of God, their shots missed him.  He carried a message ordering Company B to Butler’s Ford on the Green River.  
Green River, Kentucky
They camped there until the morning of the 10th; then proceeded westerly to Bowling Green, reaching it on the 12th; Burkesville on the 14th and finally, back to Russellville on the 15th.  They’d circled over two hundred miles with no rebs sighted.
They spent the rest of the summer on short expeditions, searching out enemy incursions.  Some scuffles occurred with a few injuries, mostly scrapes and bruises from chasing through underbrush.  These forays were interrupted by escort duty of prisoners arriving from the Cumberland River.

 On September 17th Company B left Russellville, arriving at Cave City that evening. The next morning they moved on to Glasgow, arriving the evening of the 18th.  To their dismay, on September 25ththey retraced their steps back to Cave City amid grumbling and speculation about the cause.
Cave City, Kentucky, home of Mammoth Cave
At Cave City they boarded a train, which carried them down to Nashville.   

Nashville Railroad Depot in 1864

They arrived the morning of the 26th and the following day Company B marched from Nashville to Munster Creek.
Nashville, Tennessee
The countryside around Nashville was less forested than western Kentucky, land rolling in long waves with the occasional oak wood and open bottom lands.  Dusty roads cut through creek beds meandering around hills, taking paths of least resistance.
At Munster Creek Company B engaged in several skirmishes and suffered some casualties.

In this their first real peril, several young soldiers bolted and fled through the trees. Contact with the Confederates lost, the company fell back to count heads.  Six men were unaccounted for.  They made camp nearby. By morning four missing privates had stumbled in, cold, hungry and repentant of their cowardice.

Captain Bogan called a council of officers and sergeants, considered the circumstances and decided the men had remained near the battle, and so were not technically absent.  The other two never returned. Considered deserters, they were never heard from again.

A short time later Company B returned by rail to Russellville, Kentucky, where it performed picket duty at the railhead and patrolled the area.  The men kept busy, repairing equipment and packing gear.  With winter approaching, they were unsure of their future.  Would they be sent south or left in Russellville for the rest of the war?
The answer came November 23, 1863, when the company headed for Camp Nelson by way of Louisville, Lexington and Nickolsville. There, several new recruits arrived as the men trained for what they expected to face.
Wheelwright's repair area at Camp Nelson, Kentucky. Interesting history of Camp Nelson HERE
On the 9th of December, bright and early, the 91st Regiment marched south, heading for Somerset, Pulaski County, Kentucky.  Arriving December 12th, Everett was pleasantly surprised, never expecting to return to his birthplace.  The family left when he was small, but he remembered much about it -- the town square and its bank, the dusty road climbing the hill out of town, then down to the creek by the old farm.

Somerset, Pulaski County, Kentucky
They didn’t tarry at Somerset, but continued on bad roads to Point Isabelle, reaching it the next morning, where they set up camp. 
Point Isabelle, Kentucky
Soon they were detailed to probe south into Tennessee again, now in the Cumberland Gap area. On January 8th, during a driving snowstorm, part of the regiment marched out.   The storm abated by midday and the men’s spirits rose, the trek seeming less difficult, but long.  Eight days later they reached Jackson County, Tennessee.
Jackson County, Tennessee
Company B rested the next three days, then reloaded supply wagons and, traveling east on some of the worst roads in the country, arrived near the Cumberland Gap.

The rest of the winter was tough.  They felled trees and fashioned crude huts.  Rations were adequate; nonetheless, some supplemented bacon, hardtack and coffee by sharing hunted game.

As winter lost its grip in eastern Tennessee, the war grew hotter. Federal forces were aggressively pressuring beleaguered Confederate forces.  General Ulysses S. Grant’s eastern troops probed the defenses to their front.   
General Grant and his horse Cincinnati
Farther west, Sherman geared up for an assault on Atlanta.

General William Tecumsah Sherman
On March 20, 1864, a detachment from Company B scouted up the Va Valley to Ball Bridge.  As they approached the bridge, Confederate skirmishers opened fire, killing a Union soldier and wounding several others. Despite these losses, the detachment captured seven rebels.
On March 27, Everett accompanied a scouting party up the Clinch River, their foray lasting until March 30th, traveling forty-four miles without contacting the enemy.
Clinch River watershed flowing from Virginia into Tennessee
On April 1st, another scout went up the Va valley, crossed Cumberland Mountain at Yellow Skip Gap and returned to camp on the 2nd for a total of twenty-two miles.
Yellow Skip Gap must be somewhere in the Cumberland Mountain National Historic Park, although its name appears to have been changed.

On the 3rd, another group went forward to Ball Bridge, staying out until April 7th  and traveling thirty miles. On the 12th, they started another series of scouts, which took them to Mt. Pleasant, Kentucky.  
In 1912 Mt. Pleasant became the town of Harlan in Harlan County, Kentucky

They returned on the 16th after a march of eighty-five miles.  Then on the 20th, they traveled to Powell Mountain via Mulberry Gap.
Mulberry Gap
The unit traveled in a circle through Tazewell, a foray of sixty miles.
Tazewell, Tennessee
 [Everett's war, well into its second year, was really just beginning. 
 Part 2 ends with another Civil War favorite Aura Lee HERE .]

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Everett Rainey (1844-1899) - Gone for a Soldier: Part I

Everett Rainey may have resembled the youth on the left
Our cousin Pat Raney wrote a novella about Great-great grandfather Everett Rainey's years as a Union soldier during the American Civil War. Pat traveled the same routes Everett marched and researched Company B, 91st Indiana Regiment's service from its camp routine to being in the thick of battle. Here is the first of five postings of selections from "Everett" with accompanying period song and photographs, unfortunately, none of Everett.

[The Rainey family, headed by James and Milly, with four daughters and eighteen-year-old Everett still on the family farm outside Pleasantville (became Spurgeon in 1867), Pike County, Indiana, had moved from southern Kentucky in the early 1850s. Everett had wanted to enlist early in the war, but his father had opposed him. In the spring of 1862 President Lincoln asked for 300,000 volunteers.  James S. Gibbons wrote this poem, which Stephen Foster set to music. Copies of its sheet music swept the country. Listen to We Are Coming Father Abraham]
In late April of 1862, the Rainey family heard through a neighbor that at Shiloh, Tennessee, the Federal army under a general named Grant had bested a Confederate army led by General Beauregard, but several southern raiders had come north and harassed people near Louisville and Cincinnati, stealing horses and grain and tearing up railroad track.  The Ohio River flowed not so far a distance south of their farm, making southern Indiana vulnerable.
Pleasantville renamed Spurgeon by 1867, Pike County, Indiana
The rumor in August that  Kentucky was preparing to secede from the union gave the war new reality.  Kentucky was just across the Ohio River.  Because of Lincoln's earlier call for recruits, Indiana was forming several volunteer regiments.
That night at supper Everett laid out his plan.  James sat thoughtfully, Milly wept quietly, and the four girls left the table to cry together in their bedroom upstairs.  James finally spoke. “Do your duty, boy.  Don’t shirk and never ever be a coward.”
The next morning, August 16, 1862, Everett shouldered a knapsack filled with fried chicken and corn bread and left for Lynnville, Indiana. His mother Milly stood on the porch with Elizabeth and Melvina.  He kissed them and Milly, gripping her apron, smiled bravely.  James came up from the barn, patted him on the back and silently turned away.  Serena and Cynthia walked with Everett to the road and waved until he stopped looking over his shoulder.

He stopped by the Dougans to pay his respects and tell Nancy, the girl he was sweet on, goodbye. In Lynnville, Everett located the recruiter at a folding table in front of the post office. He signed the papers - committing himself to a three-year enlistment - and was sworn in as a soldier in the 91st Regiment of Indiana Volunteers, Company B under Captain William Bogan.
Lynnville, Warrick County, Indiana, was near Everett's home.
Company B was marched down the dusty road towards Evansville.  That evening they arrived on the outskirts of town at a place called Camp Davis. Tents and uniforms were issued, supper served and the unit bedded down for the night.  The next morning and every morning until mid-October, the men were drilled.

As time wore on, they adjusted to camp life and each man understood his role in the unit.  Company B was taking on an identity. Orders finally came.  They were to march south into middle Kentucky to Camp Cumback.   Sergeant Ferguson came through camp barking orders. “Pack up everything; get your rifles ready!  Draw extra bullets and charges from the supply area!”  Pandemonium reigned.  Men worked at a fevered pitch.  In less than an hour B Company stood in ranks, prepared to set out.

The column marched down the road, raising dust, enveloping men in the rear ranks. Life couldn’t be more miserable.  Near the rear, Everett suffered with other privates. They were ferried across the Ohio River and in late afternoon entered Henderson, Kentucky.  Company B was dispatched to a dusty mown hay field bordering a stream and ordered to set up tents. Afterward, they busied themselves preparing a hot supper.
Henderson, Kentucky, across the Ohio River from southern Indiana
The weather turned that night and it rained until morning.  Dawn found a soggy group of muttering soldiers trying to heat water to make coffee.  Their activities churned the pasture into a quagmire, mud everywhere.  The horses and mules were edgy, stomping and snorting.
Orders came to break camp and move out at ten o’clock. With much effort the unit left for Camp Cumback at eleven, reaching it in mid-afternoon. Covered with mud, the ‘skinners were angry at the animals, the officers were angry at the non-coms and the privates received grief from everyone.

The units preceding Company B had churned the camp to mud, with water-filled ruts leading in all directions.  Company B was directed to a relatively untouched area, which they soon muddied as grumbling men slogged about with bales of straw, breaking them apart to cover the ground so they could pitch their tents.
Over the next few days the weather moderated and the encampment dried out.  Tempers mellowed, banjos and fiddles came out after evening meals and most joined in singing.  Spirits improved as units meshed into efficient fighters.  The soldiers of Company B could march up to fence lines and fire, reload and fire faster than the other companies.  Pride was evident in their step and on their faces.

Late October turned cold.  Leaves, already brown and orange, began to drop.  The air was crisp.  Mornings found everything covered with rime.  Despite the chill, the men were active, eager to perform their duties.  Every company in camp itched to get into the fight.  Finally, on the evening of October 20th, Capt. Bogan called his sergeants to his tent for a meeting.  An hour later, they walked among the men, speaking quietly to them.  As taps echoed, dozens of pairs of eyes bored into overhead tent canvases.  Few slept.

 As the sun crept over the eastern rim of the hills, Company B was already moving southward towards Madisonville. Scouts had reported back to the regiment that Confederate forces had congregated west of Nashville, and were sending small units of troops over the Kentucky border.  Company B’s mission was to scout south and engage any forward detachments.
Madisonville, Kentucky
In quick march, Company B covered a lot of ground, stopping briefly for a meal; pushed on, eager to meet the enemy.  They approached Madisonville at sunset.  As they rounded a curve, shots rang out, and a soldier grabbed his arm. Men dropped on their bellies, peering toward the gunfire. Impossible in the graying evening to make out “butternut” uniforms even if the enemy had been standing in the open.  The wounded man’s blue tunic showed crimson where the bullet sliced his arm.

Capt. Bogan directed half of his men to move down the sunken road under cover and then double back through the trees at the pasture’s edge. Hearts pounding, they did as they’d practiced. 

Dragged to the protection of a fallen log, the injured soldier’s wound was examined and bound. The young trooper was shaking, whimpering in fear and pain.  A non-com quietly talked to him, calming him.


There was yelling and several shots fired.  The men sent forward emerged from the trees, hardly discernible in the dusk, but more than expected.  They’d captured six rebs. The captain took in the situation.  No further sign of the enemy; one man injured; six captives. Knowing his men depended on him, he issued orders firmly. “We’ll move north in the dark for a couple of miles.  Sergeant, take six men and cover the rear of the column.  Private Rainey, choose five men to make sure the prisoners are secure.  Let’s go, troopers!”
Carrying out his orders, the company moved rapidly up the road to locate shelter in a copse of trees.  They tied up their prisoners, set guards on them, and rolled up in blankets to try to sleep.  Pickets were set every two hours during the night.
At dawn the men started back to the main camp, chewing hardtack as they marched.  The pace wasn’t as brisk as the day before, but fast nevertheless. Arriving at camp after dark, Company B formed up in straight files and marched smartly into the area, their prisoners secured in the center of their ranks.

November was cold and wet.  On November 6, Col. John W. Foster [his biography HERE] ordered Company B to Smithland, a small community near the mouth of the Cumberland River where it meets the Ohio.   
Smithland, Kentucky, where the Cumberland River meets the Ohio
When it wasn’t raining, it snowed.  Camp life was difficult, the men always cold.  Those not on picket or guard duty huddled around fires by day and retreated into their tents when the light failed, shivering in damp bedding. Wind often blew down tents, forcing them to crowd into tents still standing or take shelter in wagons.

On December 7, a detachment was sent to Dycusburgh to retrieve prisoners. Everett wasn’t selected, but wished he had been.  Sitting around or moving through the muddy camp drained his energy.  The cold made prisoners of them all.

On Christmas Eve, orders came to march west of camp to the Cumberland River to raze a rebel blockade.  The Confederates were attempting to block the Ohio River to hinder Federal troop movement and supplies being shipped to Fort Donelson from Louisville.
View from Fort Donelson of the Cumberland River. It and Fort Henry were captured by General Grant and Flag Officer Foote in February, 1862, opening the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers to Union control.
Two companies marched out. At the Cumberland River they discovered Federal troops in the vicinity had already put an end to the nuisance.  It had proved a diversion for bored troops, but they grumbled because of having to march on Christmas.

They spent the remainder of the winter and early spring guarding enemy soldiers prior to their transport to permanent prison camps.  The Federal army’s activities in lower Kentucky, eastern Arkansas and Missouri were yielding many rebel prisoners.  Most were funneled through Camp Cumback.
Confederate prisoners heading north
The troops erected log huts to shelter themselves from the cold, but as winter worsened, they were forced to live in even closer quarters, and sickness struck the camp.  In this environment, the men were vulnerable to any illness showing its ugly face.
Everett was stricken with measles in January, 1863, spending several weeks in bed, so sick the camp doctor at one point thought he would die. When he did recover, his eyesight was impaired.  Then he was stricken with pneumonia, a high fever and sore throat for several weeks.  When he finally left his sickbed, he was skin and bones and very weak.  Because of his condition, he was unable to accompany the several forays the company made.

On March 30 company B was ordered to Clarksville, Tennessee, to guard transports coming up the Cumberland River.  Most of the unit went with Lt. Clark.  Capt. Bogan stayed in camp to prepare for the next operation.
Clarksville, Tennessee on Cumberland River.
Company B was intensely alert.  Would a rebel cavalry unit charge in to disrupt the unloading of the barges? Guerrilla activity also was rampant in the area.  Many rebs actually lived at home, venturing out with their leaders when Union units least expected it, then melting back into the forest and dispersing to their homes, returning to daily chores as farmers, lawyers, blacksmiths and laborers.  They were difficult to stop and impossible to catch.

Night guarding was the hardest.  Everyone was tense and uneasy, every night sound jumping hearts into throats. No one relaxed until relieved, and then slept fitfully.  The unit returned to Camp Cumback on April 8, happy to be back in one piece.

Capt. Bogan took twenty men up the Cumberland to Fort Donelson to collect prisoners, returning with many “seshes”.  The outfit’s stay in western Kentucky was ending.  Orders arrived for Company B to break camp.

On April 22, Everett received a furlough, its intent to return him home for some home cooking and proper rest.  He got rides on supply wagons to Evansville and then took the stage to Pleasantville.

His family was surprised to see him and shocked at his condition.  Of course, his mother Milly fussed over him, clucking to herself that the army was killing her child.   The rest and good food improved his condition. When he reported for duty on May 2, he had gained some weight and felt better.  But a toll had been taken and Everett was never a healthy man from that time forward.

Also known as "Rally 'Round the Flag," this song became popular in 1862 - Battle Cry of Freedom HERE