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 .]

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