-- Soldier's Quotes from the War

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#61
  • Full Citation: "Letters and Diary of John Lympus Barnett," ed. James Barnett, Indiana Magazine of History 23, no. 3 (September 1927): 333-364.
  • Home: Hamilton County (Cicero)
  • Years: 1862-1863
  • Regiment: 39th Indiana Volunteer Infantry, Co. B
  • Abstract: Barnett (1830-1863) wrote letters to his family and also kept a short diary. He did not see action, and was transferred to a hospital in Nashville in December 1862. He died of apparent heart disease after being released home on disability. Article includes an image of Barnett.
  • Sample Text:
    1. "I was down in bathing yest[erday] evening with several others and we had quite a conversation with a rebel across the river." (Bridgeport, Al., July 12, 1862)
    2. "I often think of you [his sister Mary] and all and wish that I could meet you all again And hope that some time we may. But the war is not over and only 15 months of our time is out. How much is to come we know not. We only know what has passed. I can only think of home. And but for those at home I might feel less like serving my country. And I am glad whilst in my tent writing and the rain falling heavily on it that I can almost forget that I am away from those I love most."(Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 17, 1862)
  • LC Subject Headings:
    1. United States. Army. Indiana Infantry Regiment, 39th (1861-1863)
 

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#62
The James M. Randall Diary, a Union soldier

Nov. 11th Six companies of our regiment, including my own, with the 104th Ill. numbering 300 men, with wagon-trains, were sent out foraging. We marched 10 miles east, obtained 400 bushels of corn and returned to camp at 8 o'clock P.M. We passed over the ground where Cassville had stood. Two weeks to this time the town had been destroyed because many of the inhabitants were proved to be bushwhackers and bridgeburners. Of course in such cases the innocent suffered with the guilty, but is not that always the case in war? We were destined to witness wholesale destruction of property before the end came. The 3rd Division of the 15th Corps passed through Kingston on their way from Rome to Atlanta. Privates Seaton and Somerson, being sick, were sent to Chattanooga. In the evening our last mail went north and we had received our last communication from home. I had only time to write the following:


[size=-1]
Kingston, Ga.

Nov. 11th 1864



Dear Wife,

It is late and I have just been notified that our last mail to the north will soon be closed. Although I have been out on a foraging expedition and have marched 20 miles today, I am not too tired to write a few words to you. We look for marching orders at any moment. Our first move will be to Atlanta. I understand the railroad track will be thoroughly destroyed as we go, and probably a large amount of other property will be destroyed as well. Whether we shall go southwest from Atlanta towards Mobile, Ala. or southeast toward Savannah, Ga. is a matter of uncertainty, and I may as well say, indifference to the soldiers. They have unbounded faith in Gen. Sherman and are ready to follow his lead in either direction. Whichever way we may go, I doubt not we shall inflict serious damage upon the Confederacy, and I hope do much to hasten its downfall.

Dear Wife I have only time to write a short letter but a little more than to say good-bye. I know you will be glad to know that I am well, and in the best of spirits. I will write to you upon the first opportunity. Until then, good-bye. Keep of good cheer, and may God bless and protect you.

Yours Very Truly,​
James M.

[/size]
 
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#63
"The work of destruction is commencing in the suburbs of the town....The whole country around is wrapped in flames, the heavens are aglow with the light thereof...such mourning, such lamentations, such crying and pleading for mercy I never saw nor never want to see again, some were wild, crazy, mad, some cry for help while others would throw their arms around yankee soldiers necks and implore mercy." --William T. Patterson, a sergeant in Sheridan's army, describing the burning of Harrisonburg, Bridgewater, and Dayton, Virginia.
 
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#64
"The atmosphere from horizon to horizon, has been black with the smoke of a hundred conflagrations...and at night a gleam brighter and more lurid than sunset has shot from every verge....The completeness of the devastation is awful. Hundreds of nearly starving people are going north. Our trains are crowded with them. They line the wayside. Hundreds more are coming....so stripped of food that I cannot imagine how they escaped starvation." (Sheridan, Roy Morris, Jr., New York: Vintage Books, 1992, p. '564.)
 
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#65
"If the Union is disrupted I shall return to my native state and share the miseries of my people and save in defence will draw my sword on none." --Robert E. Lee to General Winfield Scott, after Scott at the request of President Lincoln, offered Lee command of the Union Army in 1861.
 
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#66
“Time sets all things right. Error lives but a day. Truth is eternal.”
--James Longstreet


No, you greatly overestimate my capacity for usefulness. A better man will soon be sent to take my place.”
--Stonewall Jackson


“You may be whatever you resolve to be.”
--Stonewall Jackson

"Bring me Longstreet’s head on a platter and the war will be over”
--Abraham Lincoln
 
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#67
“If we only save the finger of one man, that’s enough.”
--James Longstreet, Fredericksburg VA


“General, I have been a soldier all my life. I have been with soldiers, engaged in fights by squads, companies, regiments, divisions, and armies, and should know, as well as anyone what soldiers can do. It is my opinion that no fifteen thousand men ever arrayed for battle can take that position.”

--General Longstreet to General Lee, voicing concerns of an impending attack on the center of the Union Line (later to be known as “Pickett’s Charge”) to General Lee, July 3rd, 1863



"Forward, forward, men! Drive those fellows out of those woods! Forward! For God's sake forward!" --Union Major General John Foulton Reynolds' last words as he directed his men at the first day's battle of Gettysburg seconds before he was killed by a bullet to the head.
 
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#68
“Never stand and take a charge. Charge them too.”
--Nathan Bedford Forrest

“Longstreet opposed Pickett’s Charge, and the failure shows he was right. All these ****able lies about Longstreet make me want to shoulder a musket and fight another war. They originated in politics by men not fit to untie his shoestrings. We soldiers on the firing line knew there was no greater fighter in the whole Confederate army than Longstreet. I am proud that I fought under him here. I know that Longstreet did not fail Lee at Gettysburg or anywhere else. I’ll defend him as long as I live.”
--Captain O. Hooper, survivor of Pickett’s Charge, in an interview 75 years after the battle.
 
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#69
“After all, I think Forrest was the most remarkable man our Civil War produced on either side.”
--William Tecumseh Sherman, after the War

“I went into the army worth a million and a half dollars, and came out a beggar.”
--Nathan Bedford Forrest, who used much of his wealth to help his men acquire supplies.

“Abolish the Loyal League and the Ku Klux Klan; let us come together and stand together.”
--Nathan Bedford Forrest
 
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#70
"The Rebel army is now the legitimate property of the Army of the Potomac"
-- Joseph Hooker spoke these pompous words shortly before he was soundly defeated by Robert E. Lee at Chancellorsville


"Pray excuse me. I cannot take it"
-- These words were Jefferson Davis' last, spoken in response to his wife's attempt to give him medicine shortly before he died on December 6, 1889, at age 81


"Hello, Massa; bottom rail on top dis time"
-- A black Union soldier spoke these words to a Confederate prisoner he recognized--his former master




"Send for a clergyman, I wish to be baptised. I have been basely murdered."
-- General William Nelson, commander of the Union Army of Kentucky, made this final request after being fatally shot by a fellow officer, General Jefferson C. Davis, during an argument in Louisville in 1862.


"Our Southern brethren have done grievously, they have rebelled and have attacked their father's house and their loyal brothers. They must be punished and brought back, but this necessity breaks my heart."
-- Major Robert Anderson, defender of Fort Sumter in April of 1861, gave this assessment of the situation between North and South.

"Slavery was undoubtedly the immediate fomenting cause of the woeful American conflict. It was the great political factor around which the passions of the sections had long been gathered --the tallest pine in the the political forest around whose top the fiercest lightnings were to blaze and whose trunk was destined to be shivered in the earthquake shocks of war. But slavery was far from being the sole cause of the prolonged conflict. Neither it's destruction on the one hand,nor its defense on the other, was the energizing force that held the contending armies to four years of bloody work. I apprehend that if all living union soldiers were summoned to the witness-stand, everyone of them would testify that it was the preservation of the American Union and not the destruction of Southern slavery that induced him to volunteer at the call of his Country. As for the South, it is enough to say that perhaps 80% of her armies were neither slave holders, nor had the remotest interest in the institution. No other proof, however, is needed then the undeniable fact that at any period of the war from its begining to near its close the South could have saved slavery by simply laying down its arms and returning to the union." --General John B. Gordon
 
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"I can only say that I am nothing but a poor sinner, trusting in Christ alone for salvation"
-- Robert E. Lee spoke these words to his army's chaplains


"Really, Mr. Lincoln, I have had enough of this show business"
-- Ulysses S. Grant used these words to decline to attend a White House party in his honor, so that he may return to the front

"The rebels are out there thicker than fleas on a dog's back!!"
-- An excited Union officer used these words to report the advance of Confederate forces at Shiloh
 
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"Do you see those colors? Take them!"
-- General Winfield S. Hancock issued this order to the 1st Minnesota on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, as the Union line was being driven back. The Minnesotans carried out the orders, driving back the Confederates and taking the colors--at a loss of two-thirds of the regiment


"With this honor devolves upon you also a corresponding responsibility. As the country herein trusts you, so under God it will sustain you"
-- Abraham Lincoln used these words to confer upon Ulysses S. Grant the rank of lieutenant general--the army's highest rank

"If you don't have my army supplied, and keep it supplied, we'll eat your mules up, sir"
-- William T. Sherman issued this warning to an army quartermaster prior to the departure of Sherman's army from Chattanooga toward Atlanta
 
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#73
"I can make men follow me to hell"
-- The daring and profane Union General Philip Kearny used these words to evaluate his leadership ability

"There is really no crisis except an artificial one...If the great American people will only keep their temper, on both sides of the line, the trouble will come to an end"
-- Abraham Lincoln made this statement on February 15, 1861, while en-route to his inauguration

"a ****ed old goggled-eyed snapping turtle"
-- Subordinate officers so described Union General George Meade

"Tonight we will water our horses in the Tennessee River"
-- Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston made this unfulfilled prophecy shortly before the Confederate defeat at Shiloh, which cost Johnston his life

"I know the hole he went in at, but I can't tell you what hole he will come out of"
-- Abraham Lincoln made this remark when asked the destination of Sherman's destructive March to the Sea
 
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#74
"It's just like shooting squirrels, only these squirrels have guns"
-- A Federal veteran so instructed new recruits in musket drill


"Boys, he's not much for looks, but if we'd had him we wouldn't be caught in this trap"
-- A captured Union soldier described Stonewall Jackson in this way


"Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can, and strike him as hard as you can. And keep moving on!"
-- Ulysses S. Grant's philosophy of war


"a tyrannical, hot-headed vulgarian"
-- A subordinate so described Nathan Bedford Forrest


"That old man...had my division massacred at Gettysburg!"
-- George Pickett said these words to John S. Mosby shortly after paying Lee a visit in Richmond


"Well, it made you famous"
-- Mosby's reply to Pickett
 
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"Lee's army will be your objective point. Wherever Lee goes, there you will go also."
-- Newly-appointed Lt. General Ulysses S. Grant gave this order to General George Meade, commander of the Army of the Potomac, upon Grant's arrival in Virginia in 1864.


"General, if you put every [Union soldier] now on the other side of the Potomac on that field to approach me over the same line, I will kill them all before they reach my line."
-- General James Longstreet made this vow to Robert E. Lee as countless Federal assaults were beaten back by Longstreet's men at the Battle of Fredericksburg.


"If you surrender you shall be treated as prisoners of war, but if I have to storm your works you may expect no quarter."
-- Nathan Bedford Forrest routinely issued this warning to opposing forces and often received his desired result.


"Every stalk of corn in the northern and greater part of the field was cut as closely as could have been done with a knife, and the slain lay in rows precisely as they stood in their ranks a few minutes before."
-- A Union officer who survived the Battle of Antietam gave this description of the destruction of a Confederate force posted in a cornfield there.
"I do not want to make this charge. I do not see how it can succeed. I would not make it now but that General Lee has ordered it and expects it."
-- James Longstreet expressed his reservations about Pickett's Charge to a colleague as his troops moved forward to begin the infamous assault.
 
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#76
"Whoever saw a dead cavalryman?"
-- Infantry troops often uttered this sarcasm in criticism of the cavalry, who were said to fight so rarely that they seldom left casualties behind.


"If you bring these leaders to trial it will condemn the North, for by the Constitution secession is not rebellion."
-- Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court privately delivered this opinion on charging captured Confederate officers with treason.

"**** it, holler them across." ----General Jubal A. Early's response, meaning attack with the rebel yell, after ordering a charge and being told they were out of ammunition. The charge was successful.

"The dead covered more than five acres of ground about as thickly as they could be laid."
-- A Confederate survivor so described the Union dead at the Battle of Cold Harbor in 1864.



"Hold on with a bull-dog whip and chew and choke as much as possible."
-- Abraham Lincoln offered Ulysses S. Grant this encouragement during the latter's grueling Siege of Petersburg in 1864-65.


"Success and glory are in the advance, disaster and shame lurk in the rear."
-- Union General John Pope made this observation to his troops shortly before his sound defeat at the Battle of Second Manassas.


"It's all a ****ed mess! And our two armies ain't nothing but howling mobs!"
-- A captured Confederate private gave this description of the Battle of the Wilderness in 1864.
 
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#77
"General, unless he offers us honorable terms, come back and let us fight it out!"
-- James Longstreet said this to Robert E. Lee as he rode off to discuss terms for surrender with General Grant at Appomattox.



"Stand by General Burnside as you have stood by me and all will be well."
-- George McClellan gave this advice to his troops after being replaced by Burnside in November of 1862--one month before the disastrous Battle of Fredericksburg.




"I am short a cheek-bone and an ear, but am able to whip all hell yet."-- Union General John M. Corse made this peculiar boast after sustaining a head wound at the Battle of Allatoona in 1864.

"It is a good face. I am glad this war is over at last."
-- Abraham Lincoln spoke these words on the day he was shot when a prankster presented him with a photo of Robert E. Lee.




"I only know two songs. One is Yankee Doodle and the other one isn't." -- General Ulysses S. Grant

"It wasn't a miracle;....It was the infantry!" By who else, the infantry men themselves.
 

cof

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#79
On the Rebel yell...... I have never, since I was born, heard so fearful a noise as a rebel yell. It is nothing like a hurrah, but rather a regular wildcat screech

A Federal Surgeon
..... the sweetest music I ever heard.
Gen. Stonewall Jackson
 
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#80
"Some entire companies and regiments come from sections of the country where
a negro was rarely seen, and they fought against interference in the affairs
of their State, dictation by an alien people, invasion and subjugation of
their country, and against the fear of negro equality in political and
social affairs."
--H.W. Henry, Captain, 22nd Alabama Infantry, CSA
 



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