January 7, 1916
I now drop a few lines about Forrest's raid in Middle Tennessee. [Actually, this "raid" was a movement to join Confederate General John Bell Hood's Franklin and Nashville Campaign.] We forded the Tennessee River at Mussel Shoals, September 12, 1864. I cannot tell half I saw and felt in that raid. I am meditating on my past life. Many sad thoughts are passing through my mind, oh, sad. I was in two raids in Tennessee. Forrest chased the Yankees from the Tennessee River to within three miles of Nashville. He [was] then ordered [by] General Hood to guard the Cumberland River at a point about twelve miles above Nashville. I was in two fights at Murfreesboro, one at Franklin, and one at Athens, Alabama, and one at Sulphur Trestle, Ala., and several block houses at Springhill, Tenn. General Forrest covered Hood's retreat from Nashville. I had a fine time of nights sleeping in the stable with my horse. The first night I had a fine supper. I could not see it, but it tasted good. I rejoined my command in about three days, and saw General Cheatam's [Confederate Major General Benjamin F. Cheatham's] division falling back. Oh, sad. Some of his men were without hats, coats, or shoes, and with their feet tied up in old pieces of their jackets. I could trace them by the blood on the snow from their bleeding feet, most of them without blankets, but all had their guns on their shoulders. Did I cry? Yes. Do I cry yet? Yes. Were these men in favor of negro equality? I think not. Did the Yankees come and take our negros and set them free, and take our horses and mules, and burn our houses? Yes. Was that not enough to make us fight? I think it was. These are things I saw on General Forrest's raid in Middle Tennessee, in September 1864. They are things past and gone, but not forgotten yet. Did the U.S. Government pay the Federal soldiers a pension? Did they pay the negro a pension? Who is better today, Nig or Reb? What I saw on this raid makes me ask these questions. They are solemn, yes sad to this day.
I was on a good horse and saw those boys of Cheatham's division tramp that snow with bloody feet. I thought I was seeing hard time. I was well clad, and got to stay in the stable two nights with my horse. That was all the house or tent I stayed in all that winter. The starry heavens were my roof by day and by night. While on this raid, I slept some nights under the snow. I was well clothed, but those infantry boys were not. General Hood's loss on this raid was 1,900 killed and wounded. Was this sad? I think so. [Hood's losses were actually much greater: 6,252 at the battle of Franklin alone.]
The Southern States are paying the old Confederate soldiers a pension. Hasd the U.S. Government ever pensioned one old Reb? I have asked these questions about things which occurred over fifty years ago. I have been meditating on these questions ever since the war closed. I believe that the Powers that be are ordained of God.