Tuesday, December 31, 2013

"Private Tooms, You are Under Arrest."

Thursday, December 31, 1863

In my younger years, I have endeavored to remain awake on the day before the new year. That is something for the young bucks. This year, as in so many past, I intend to be asleep. For several days now, there has been little else to do.

When I returned to the regiment, I was several days overdue from my furlough. I was met by my pards who had been wondering if I had been caught up in the Yankee raid in Salem. I was surprised that news of the raid was known here. Hancock informed me that some of our division had been sent away from here to catch the raiders. Our troops had made it as far as Staunton before being recalled and did not engage the enemy. While we were jawing, I noticed Corporal Flynn approaching our group with three armed men with bayonets affixed. Corporal Flynn said, "Private Tooms, you are under arrest."

With the corporal and one escort in front and the other two in the rear, they all took me, in the middle, to see Lieutenant Williamson in his cabin. Hancock, Duncan and the others followed but stayed outside. In his cabin was a staff captain who was from the Provost Marshall. Charges were read against me. It was mentioned that before I had arrived, the charges had been desertion, the penalty for which is death by firing squad. The staff officer scratched out the part about desertion and changed the charges to being absent without leave. 

The officer asked how I would plead to the charges. I responded not guilty due to the circumstances of my absence. Lieutenant Williamson asked me to present an explanation sufficient to render the charges null and void. I then told of the raid on Salem and of my conduct during the time of it. Both officers were attentive to my explanation but the captain asked if there was anyone who could verify that I was in Salem at the time. Quite unfortunately for me, I had told no one that I was going to Salem. Everyone thought that I was going to Charleston.

I thought about the officers and men of the Fiftieth Virginia who I met but we had parted company at the Charlottesville station. I did not recall telling them where I was going and since they and I parted, they could not verify my being in Salem. In a flash I thought of Captain Porteaux who had ordered me to transfer supplies in my hired wagon in Salem. Lieutenant Williamson offered to write a letter to the captain to verify my story. The staff captain said that until a satisfactory answer would be received, I, the prisoner, would have to be kept under guard in confinement.

And so, here I am, in the cabin of our mess as there is no stockade yet built. It is not so bad. I am excused from all duties. I keep a fire in the hearth and am quite warm. To my surprise, my very good blanket, which I had left behind while I was on furlough, was returned to me. All the time that I was absent, I had thought that I had seen the last of it. The rations are somewhat better than what my pares receive. Prisoners are not allowed to cook for themselves and are fed from a central mess. In addition the the basic fare of hardtack, salt junk, onions and cabbage, the same that the troops are issued, there is served to the prisoners a bowl of soup twice a day. There are a few carrots and some beef in the soup. I sleep most of the day and have ever since my return, including Christmas Day. It looks like that I will spend the first day of 1864 the same way.

While I am under arrest but suffering few privations because of it, poor Hancock and Duncan are the ones detailed to guard me, in alternating mounts. They also have no duties, other than guarding me, but they have to remain outside our cabin, bayonetted musket at the ready. The weather has turned quite cold, including frost and snow lately. Both of them leave their post when they think they can do so safely to come inside to get warm. Out of pity for their plight, I have shared my soup with them and they are mighty grateful. Corporal Flynn has not been by once to see as to my situation whereas Lieutenant Williamson has come by twice to inform me that there has been no response to his inquiry on my behalf. He is a good man.

I suppose there is nothing to do but wait and pen a few more lines in this diary. I could benefit from some more ink.

I Send You These Few Lines.

Tooms is in, "jail" but it could have been worse. Had the initial charge of desertion stuck, he would be facing several muskets, all pointing at his breast. Not a good way to bring in the new year. 

Tooms is hoping that the letter to Captain Porteaux in Salem will be his ticket to freedom. What Tooms does not know is that Porteaux was captured and is on his way to a POW camp somewhere up north.

What now, for Tooms?

Monday, December 23, 2013

"The Yankees are Here!"

Wednesday, December 23, 1863, Charlottesville

If ever I am granted a furlough again, I think that I will refuse it. All the good that has happened to me during the many days of this current one is far outweighed by the events of one night and one day. As I sit here in the railroad station awaiting a connection to Richmond, I can finally collect my thoughts and transfer them to this diary.

It was Tuesday of last week that Miss Kimberly, riding like the very Devil was after her, came to the Hofauger place to warn us all that the Yankees were coming. She stayed only long enough to tell us and like a whirlwind, she rode off again. Although it was after dark, I hitched up my hired horse and wagon, said my good-byes to the Hofaugers, warning them that they themselves may have to leave their place to the torches of the Yankees, and left as fast as the old horse could move. Elizabeth had tears in her eyes. I could only hope that whatever forces we could rally could stop the Yankees before my kind hosts could be harmed.

It was all the horse could do to maintain a trot. For short periods, she could gallop but that was dangerous to both horse and wagon let alone the driver. After a gallop, she had to rest by walking slowly for quite some time. I roundly cursed her but there was nothing more the poor beast could do.

Very early on the morning of the sixteenth, we arrived at Salem, finding the entire town in a fearful frenzy. A townsman said that the Yankees were bound for this place with murder, fire and destruction their objectives. He further said that all of the stores held at scattered places around town were being moved to the station so that they could be hurried away by train. These supplies were both for Lee's army in Virginia and Bragg's army in Tennessee.

About the same time that this citizen ran off, a mounted staff officer came next to my wagon. He introduced himself as Captain Porteaux of the Quartermaster's Department. He said that my wagon was needed and ordered me to proceed to a government warehouse where supplies may be loaded and take them with all due haste to the station. I was to repeat this until this particular warehouse was empty and then report for further orders.

I proceeded to the McClanahan's store where several other wagons were loading with the help of some Negroes whom I took for slaves as they were not working with any sort of urgency. Once loaded, I hastily went to the station whereupon the horse dropped dead. It was too much for her.
Although it was far beyond dark by this time, the lights of Salem were blazing everywhere. One could read a newspaper or make a diary entry by the light.

As we were about finished with the wagon, I was wondering if there was another horse that could help me fulfill my orders. There then rode up a staff major, Green, who, seeing the dead horse still in the traces asked what regiment I was with. I explained that I was on furlough and he reprimanded me for not having my musket with me. Staff officers know nothing of such things but at that moment, I did wish that I had not left my musket and ammunition with the Ordnance Sergeant in Virginia.

He ordered me to report to a Doctor Bittle at Roanoke College and take charge of the home guard there. He ordered me to take the guard north along the Catawba Road as that was where the Yankees were supposed to be coming from and mount a defense until re-inforcements arrived.

This Doctor Bittle had raised the Roanoke College Home Guard, comprised of the students. Doctor Bittle explained that most of the students were away for the holidays but he presented me with six who were ready to do their duty. All were under eighteen; one was fifteen. They were military in name only. Four of the six were armed with fowling pieces; the other two had nothing to shoot with. None had rations or a canteen. One had no ramrod for his fowler. With this we were to stop seasoned Yankee cavalry.

It was daylight by this time so at least we could see the enemy. We had not gone far, we were still in town when the cry, "The Yankees are here!" was heard and passed from throat to throat towards our little phalanx. At the same time that I heard hoofbeats approaching, I turned to instruct the six only to find that they had vanished. As I had no weapon, I tried to vanish, as well.

The Globe Tavern was the closest structure so there I went. Bounding up the stairs, I heard the Yankee cavalry pass close behind on the street. Amidst the yelling and screaming of the citizens could be heard the rattle of sabers and the commands of officers.

From a well-appointed room on the top floor, I peered through curtains at the unfolding spectacle. The raiders split into various parties, one going to the telegraph office inside the post office. Some others continued west to where I do not know. The main body rode to the station which was overflowing with supplies. I heard a few pistol shots and some artillery in the distance. I had hoped that the artillery meant that our own cavalry had arrived but later was informed that it belonged to the raiders. They had shot up a train arriving from Lynchburg.

It wasn't long after taking refuge that great clouds of smoke could be seen in the direction of the station. We had worked all night long to assemble the supplies there so that a train could whack them away ahead of the raiders but there was no train. All we did was put the supplies in one place and make it easy for the Yankees to destroy. Though it was daylight, flames could be seen and a great deal of smoke. There were explosions which I took for ammunition being destroyed. I crouched and I watched, feeling an overwhelming sense of uselessness and frustration.

It seemed that the Yankees had been burning forever but when they assembled to leave, I glanced at the clock in my room. They had arrived some six hours earlier and then they left by the way that they entered, the Catawba Road. It was near darkness when I emerged from my hotel refuge. The only substantial light was from the burning depot. When the wind was just wrong, I received a lungful of smoke. Embers were coming down, glowing less and less as they fluttered to the ground.

For a moment, I debated whether to stay or go. Certainly there was a need for me to stay and help but my furlough was ending. I chose to accept the risk of arrest and stay. At once, I was thrown into a fire brigade passing buckets of water to the station. There was a possibility of being killed by exploding ammunition but the fire had to be put out. I saw only white faces on the line. I saw no Negroes. I figured that they left with the Yankees.

When, several hours into the night, the burning station was only smoldering, half of us, including myself, were relieved from fire duty. We were all taken to the Globe and quartered for the night. For supper, we were fed salt beef and hardtack washed down with something called coffee. We were told to get plenty of sleep as on the morrow, we would become a track gang.

On that morrow, we were divided into two gangs. One would go east towards Lynchburg and one west, towards Bristol. I was happy to be detailed to the east gang as that was the direction of Lee's army and my regiment. There were no locomotives in Salem so tools and supplies for repairing the track were loaded on platform cars and pushed along that track that was still good. We were informed that the Yankees had tore up track in both directions out of Salem, about ten miles or so to the west and some five miles to the east. I was put on one of the platform cars to operate the brake lest it get away.

We spent the next two days repairing the track. We were given a sense or urgency to our work due to the importance of keeping our western and eastern armies supplied and in communication with one another. This was no easy task. Many of the rails had been placed on piles of ties and burned until the rails could be tied around a tree. We had so very few tools to straighten the rails and I use the term straighten with reservation.

Some rails were beyond our miserable efforts. As there were few good rails to be had, some of the rails from sidings in Salem were taken up, loaded onto the platform cars and pushed to the end of track. On the first day, we heard a train in the direction of Lynchburg. We did not know it at the time but it was a repair train, working from the other direction. Their locomotive roundly blew its' whistle and we cheered in return. As the train rounded a hill, we could see what it was and what it was doing and we cheered again. The opposite workers cheered back and the locomotive whistled again. We were tired but cheerful.

Once the rails were connected, we gladly shook hands with each other. The other workers were eager for news of the raid which we shared, of course. With some anxiety, I approached the foreman of the Lynchburg working party and explained my situation with regards to my furlough. I asked him when there would be a train coming to take passengers to Lynchburg. He explained that the work train was returning shortly for more repair supplies and that the fireman, a slave, had run off. If I was willing to work the firebox, I could leave shortly. In a moment, I asked Major Green for permission to return to my regiment and this was granted.

For the next several, too many hours, I threw chunks into the firebox of the locomotive, "San Francisco". For as much wood as I fed into that iron dragon, it should have made Lynchburg in an hour but it struggled every mile of the way. At Bonsack's, we stopped to wood up.

Now, I am here, very tired, very dirty and very hungry. There is no food to be had as it is too late. There are no rooms at any hotel. The station master is being kind by allowing me to sleep on some cotton bales with a sack of flax seed for a pillow. I want to go back to the front.

I Send You These Few Lines.

The great Averell raid is over, at least as far as the Town of Salem is concerned. The destruction the raiders caused seemed severe at the time but most was made right, with difficulty, before long. The raiders made an escape, stopping for a short rest near Mason's Cove, with Confederate forces nipping at their heels but unable to strike a killing blow.

That locomotive, "San Francisco", odd as it may sound, did serve on the Virginia & Tennessee.

Roanoke College, in Salem, did have its' student body formed into a home guards unit. It was part of the Virginia Reserves. Six of the students/home guards, ( the ones assigned to Tooms?) along with Captain Porteaux, were captured by the raiders. I have been unable to determine their fate.

All of the structures, McClanahan's store, Globe Tavern, etc., are not made up. All were in existence at the time as was Major Green, Dr. Bittle, Captain Porteaux and Samuel and Elizabeth Hofauger. Miss Kimberly did work at their house, and, in a way, still does.

After all this, what now for poor Tooms?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

"The Yankees are Coming".

Tuesday, December 15, 1863,

This is my last night here. Tomorrow, I must board the train to return to the regiment and see my pards. Elizabeth has put together a small basket of edibles for me to take along. Once I am out of sight tomorrow morning, I will take the contents of the basket and put them in my haversack. Soldiers do not carry baskets. In Big Lick, I will find some small girl and give it to her as a present.

There is not much in the basket and it is probably more than the Hofaugers can spare what with the winter coming on. The woolybears have broad stripes so this winter will be a hard one. I would like to take back a great deal for Duncan, Hancock and the rest. They would proclaim me a swell fellow if I could do that. Maybe there is something in Big Lick that can be purchased.

I am in George's room on the second floor. There's a fireplace here and it feels very good. Over the past few days, I have split a goodly amount of wood for the Hofaugers. Some of it is right in front of me. The mattress has fresh straw and I will spend my last good night to-night. If the trains do not break down, I should be back on Friday or Saturday next. As I have nothing more that a small freight wagon pulled by a horse that should have been buried before the war, I will have to leave before first light.

Elizabeth had made a shirt for George using some cloth that Miss Kimberly had spun but when George left, he forgot it. Samuel made some wooden buttons from some popular. She gave me the shirt and said she would make another for George. Elizabeth has been very good to me. All the holes in my jacket and trousers have been mended. With my new black slouch, My pards will think me quite the dandy when I return.

I have dismissed the whole idea of reporting Addy Stump as a deserter to the provost marshall. It has been too many days since he threatened to ventilate my chest. If I reported him now, the provost would want to know why I waited so long to do so. There are roving patrols looking for such folks. Addy might rejoin the army some day if he is not shot by a firing squad.

I must not write any more. It is too late and I must arise too early. This furlough has been a good rest but there is still a war to b                 A rider is coming hard. I can hear the horse's hard breathing. It is Miss Kimberly riding in an ungraceful manner. "Mister and Mrs. Hofauger. The Yankees are coming. They are coming down the Catawba road from New Castle".

I Send You These Few Lines:

The severity of a winter can be determined by the width of the dark center band of a woolybear caterpillar. The wider the band, the worse the winter will be.
An entry or two ago, Tooms had written that there was no war where he was. He was wrong. The Virginia and Tennessee Railroad had long been a objective of the Union. The railroad was a vital link in the east-west communications lines of the Confederacy. At one end of the several railroads that the V&T connected was the Army of Tennessee. At the other end was the Army of Northern Virginia. It was paramount to the Confederacy that the railroad remain intact. It was just as paramount to the Union that it be destroyed.

About two weeks after Tooms left on his furlough, a Union cavalry raiding party under Brigadier General William Averell left New Creek in present day West Virginia heading towards the railroad for the specific purpose of tearing it up.

It took the Confederate command a while to realize that a raid was underway and a longer time to determine its' route and ultimate objective. Averell managed to put out enough false probes to keep the Confederates guessing where they were going and by what route.

Actually, Averell knows that hostile forces are being gathered to beat him and some are quite close to him but his knowledge of their positive location is murky. General Lee's nephew, Fitzhugh is commanding some cavalry sent to stop Averell. Generals McCausland, Imboden and others, some from Tooms' own division, are after Averell.

Whom will get to the railroad first, the raiders, the defenders or Tooms?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"He had me at point blank range".

Friday, December 11, 1863, near Big Lick, Virginia

Outside of a battle, I came today the closest to visiting the next world than I have ever been. It happened just a bit north of Boone's Mill. Whilst in my hired wagon, I saw a ridge coming towards me heading to where I had been. As he got closer, I could see that he was in civilian clothes but had a musket slung over his shoulder and was wearing a cartridge box. I took him to be one of the home guard militia people but he looked familiar. As he neared, I recognized him and called out.

"Addy. Addy Stump. Haloo. Fancy meeting you here, friend". In an instant, he had whipped his musket around and was pointing it straight at my breast. He had me at point blank range. "Addy? Do you not recognize me, David Tooms"?  He replied, "I know who you are, Tooms, and since you know me, I should kill you right here". The look on my face must have resembled a question mark so he explained that he was a deserter. He had left his regiment in August and had been on the run since. He had had enough of the war. He asked me for food and I gave him what had been given me by the Sloans. He took it and then cocked his musket. He stared at me and I stared back, each of us saying nothing.

"I do not wish to kill you, Tooms, and if you will give me your word that you will say nothing about me, I will let you go". I swallowed and said yes, he had my word. With my life in his hands, what else could I do? I put reins to my horse and left Addy on the road. Looking back, he was still where I had left him, his musket no longer pointing at me but he did have it at the ready. I did not breathe easy until I was out of range.

From that point until I reached here, I debated with myself about my promise. It was given but not of my own free will. Certainly while under duress, no promise given is valid. Addison is a deserter in time of war. We need every musket on the line lest we become slaves to the Yankees. His deserting places a greater burden on those who remain on the line, defending our liberties. My internal debate was ended the moment that I saw my destination for the night, the Hofauger place.

George had left to return to the army as his furlough was about to end. I had left the Sloans for the same reason. I do not want to be arrested by Corporal Flynn. Once again, the Hofaugers were my midway resting place.

Without George there, I had no one to talk to. The Hofaugers, especially Samuel, talked quite a bit but I just nodded and let it pass. I have noticed that civilians and soldiers speak two different languages. I would rather return to my pards and the sooner the better. I understand them.

As Addy relieved me of everything I had to eat, the table that Elizabeth set for us was Heaven indeed. I had to restrain myself from feeding like a pig at a trough. While we were eating, we were paid a visit from Miss Kimberly. She was bringing some wool scarves and caps that the Hofaugers had asked her to make. This winter was supposed to be a bad one, she said. She has been very bust dyeing wool and spinning yarn to be made into scarves and mittens for the soldiers. And as a Christmas surprise, she presented the Hofaugers with a strawberry rhubarb pie. Elizabeth produced four plates and we all feasted.

I want to leave here as soon as possible but that would be impolite. With George gone, there are fewer hands to do the chores. There is wood to chop and that bad winter is coming. Also, there is still some pie remaining.

I Send You These Few Lines

For a moment, it looked like this blog was about to come to a conclusion for lack of a live person to continue making entries. Luckily, Addison, "Addy", Stump had second thoughts. According to the National Archives records in College Park, Maryland, Stump enlisted into the Confederate Army in Salem, Virginia, in May of 1862. The enlisting officer was Lieutenant B.P. Dyerele. Stump deserted the army in August of the next year, taking his musket and gear with him. His regiment was the 54th Virginia, a rare Virginia regiment that went west to serve under Bragg and later Joe Johnston. Stump's paper trail at the Archives ends with his desertion.

Tooms needs to be careful that his furlough doesn't end with him away from the army. He needs to hurry up and leave. He can't afford to have anything happen to him now.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

"There is no war here".

Saturday, December 5, 1863, Kemp's Ford, Virginia

If this is not home, it is something very close to it. I must confess to being surprised. I have not been away from here too long and yet, there is much here that I do not remember. I experienced some difficulty in finding the school house where I once taught. It had been whitewashed since I left and it took awhile to recognize it.

When last I made an entry, I was waiting in Charlottesville for the morning train to take me to Lynchburg. I slept in a bed and only had to share it with one person, a corporal from an Arkansas regiment who snored. There was plenty of chances in the fireplace and I slept warmly, for a change.

The next morning, without breakfast, the train took me along the Orange and Alexandria to Lynchburg. There were the usual slave boys hawking foodstuffs but as nothing looked as if it had ever been edible, I declined all offers to buy. I was determined to hold out for decent victuals in Lynchburg.

It was not too late when we arrived in the city and being famished beyond description, I made straight for Dibrell's Hotel on Main Street. Supposedly, there was a soldier's rest in the city but I was too eager to eat something quickly. The waiter, a Dutchman by his accent, informed me that the only fare in the house was salt pork, cornbread and cabbage. He explained that the war had caused this state of affairs.

As he was a portly sort, I did not believe him. I allowed him to see a quarter-eagle gold piece, part of my diminishing pre-war cache. With enlarged eyes to match his stomach, he proclaimed that since I was in uniform and obviously fighting for the cause, he would see that I was properly treated. Away he went into the kitchen. He returned directly with a plate of ham steaks and a half a mountain of potatoes. He said that he had an apple cobbler for me for dessert. I told him to bring it right away as Yankee cavalry could be hard by and they would spoil everything. He brought it, and some sweet cream as well.

I ate everything. I ate until I was in pain and kept right on. When I stopped, every plate was clean and I could have eaten more without a thought for the pain. I left him his gold piece and waddled onto the street like a duck. Had I come across a duck, I would have eaten everything but the quack. In the field, the quantity of my meal would have been four or five days rations and I consumed it all in one setting. O, how I desired that my trousers fit a bit looser.

From the hotel, I went to Meem & Gwatkins to purchase a new slouch as mine could be used as a strainer. I bought a nice black one with a brim sufficient to ward off much of the Sun. It cost eight dollars, almost a month's pay. The hat I paid for in Confederate paper for fear that two transactions in hard money would gain me the notice of the local toughs. They have enough, "courage" to remain behind and terrorize the home folks but not enough to shoulder a musket and defend those same people. I saw a number of young males unfit to be called men.

After a night at Dibrell's, I and my new slouch went to the Virginia and Tennessee station to board a train pulled by the locomotive, "Peaks of Otter", which I think I recognized from my days working for the railroad. The train passed through some very familiar places, Forest, Goode's, Liberty, Thaxton's, Bonsack's and finally Big Lick.

I had hoped to hire a horse from the livery but all the riding horses had been taken by the government. The only thing available was a broken-down plow horse and a light open wagon. It was too late in the morning to complete the trip to Kemp's Ford so I resolved to stop and rest at some suitable half-way point, say, the home of Samuel and Elizabeth Hofauger and their son, George.

As they had no inkling of my coming, they were greatly surprised to see me. The surprise was on me as George was there, on leave from the army. I could have not dreamed to be lucky enough to see him at this time. George was handling a paddle, stirring apple butter made from the last of this season's harvest. There were still apples to peel so I produced my pocket knife and started in. I sampled a piece of several random apples just to make sure they were not too old.

As I peeled and George stirred, we talked. It was unknown to me that he had enlisted in the Fifty-fourth Virginia regiment. It was just random chance that we were both on leave at the same time. He had seen action in the west, being with Bragg's army. He was at that great battle of Chickamauga. We reminded each other of the time we served in the state militia, the old 157th before this war ever started. I said that it was odd that our militia unit was known as the Salem Yellow Jackets, so-called from our uniforms and that my present unit was known as the Lancaster Hornets.

We talked about our old pards, some of which were quite young, if truth be told. There were Eman Harshberger, Jacob Sloan, David Shealor,  and other good men. Two of the Deyerle boys were railroad guards on the Virginia and Tennessee, the same that brought me to Big Lick. Addison Stump, good old "Addy", was thought to be serving somewhere.

I had to confess to George that when we joined the militia, both his parents made me promise to look after him since I was about the same age as Samuel. Elizabeth was concerned that her young boy might fall under the influence of the wicked ways of some of the others. She said that since I had served in Mexico, I was familiar with those ways and would know how to protect him. She perhaps did not mean it quite that way but I said nothing save that I would look out after George. As I was telling George this, Elizabeth was looking at us from the second story. She smiled and waved, as did we in return.

That night, we had a sumptuous supper as far as the victuals were concerned. Otherwise, it was the most uncomfortable supper that I have ever had to suffer through. Once our talk turned to the war, the situation became rapidly untenable. My host and hostess, both wonderful folks, have not a clue as to the real nature of modern war. George spoke of glory and of great battles where the few slew the many who died miserably while the few died with laurel wreaths on their heads amidst trumpeting angels. Elizabeth concurred with her husband, adding that although it may cost the life of the son she bore into the world, she would gladly offer him up and a hundred more of her children for the cause.

War is blood by the barrel. The butcher's bill is never satisfied no matter lives are paid. For those who have seen combat, a few words and a nod that are exchanged are sufficient to understand what it means to have seen the elephant. The bond that is formed is instant and forever. Those who have seen it, understand. Those who have not do not and cannot understand. They do not understand. They do not.

The following morning, yesterday, I hitched up the wagon and headed for this place, Kemp's Ford, in Franklin County. I wanted to visit a spell with friend and see if the old school in which I had taught was still there. As it had been whitewashed since I left, I almost did not recognize it. School was not in session so I went inside. There were still the same eight benches and one desk, my old desk. The chalkboard was still black paint on the walls. I was not fond of it at the time but I fondly remembered having to repaint the boards every year which caused such a mess. O, I hated that.

I am now in the Sloan grist mill. The Sloans have no room in their house but their miller has an office in the mill. My bed is comprised of sacks of ground corn. It is not bad. I am sure that the mice will dance all over me as I sleep. Whatever happened to Holles the miller? He was a good fellow.

I hear no musketry, no cannon fire. No sabers are clanging. How will I sleep? There is no war here.

I Send You These Few Lines

All the names mentioned in this entry are true names of real people living in their areas mentioned at the time.

In the previous entry, I had mentioned why I had pursued the profession of history. In my research for this entry, I needed, for the story, to find the name of the local militia unit from near where Tooms used to live in Virginia before moving to South Carolina. That's how I found the Salem Yellow Jackets. Since Tooms' company in his South Carolina regiment is known was known as the Lancaster Hornets, I knew that I had to use the Yellow Jackets. History is cool.

Once again, as Tooms has often done in previous entries, much ink has been expended on the subject of eating. Those who have been in the service will know what I'm talking about.

And speaking of knowing something, I do NOT claim any special knowledge of what happens to men in combat or the bonds formed from that crucible. I have never seen combat; being married does not count. Having worked for the military for 12 years and counting, I have met and listened to hundreds of dozens of those who have been there and done that. Their stories, each  an individual one, have the commonality of a shared collective experience. I have read the diaries and the letters, listened to the remembrances, and have seem the seen the footage. When they tell me their stories, I have seen the glimmer in their eyes...and the tears. I have heard the many and they speak as one. But I do not know.

The photograph that is supposedly of Kemp's Ford School is in reality, Kemp's Ford School. The people in the photo are my fellow interpreters from a there-century living history park in Virginia.

The railroad locomotive, "Peaks of Otter", was the real name of a real locomotive on a real railroad. The hotel and the store where Tooms purchased his hat are real as well.

Tooms stated that there was no war there. Long-time readers of this blog will remember that Tooms has a bad habit of getting things wrong. Let's hope that this time he is right.