|IMO, one of the elements that develops people's ever growing interest in the Civil War, are the shared stories that expose the folks of that era as "real" people. Often overshadowed by generals, big battles and all the emotion of a nation at war with itself, are thousands of stories of the common citize soldier. Actually, most were anything but common.
Along with the stories of sorrow and horror on the field of battle, are stories of young men continuing to be young men, while facing conditions that they could not have imagined when they volunteered. Some of the stories that the returning veterans loved telling the most, involved humor. From my extensive 11th Indiana Battery research I have come across a few such stories but this is one of my favorites.
The battery was moving from Nashville towards Pittsburg Landing, as part of General Wood's 6th Division, with General Buell's Army of the Ohio. Lt. John Otto, of the 11th Indiana Battery, wrote in his diary, "...never forget the 7th, 8th, and 9th of April, 1862."
On this, their first campaign, the battery was armed with four 4.5 inch Siege Rifles. Each gun weighed about 8,000 pounds and was drawn by a team of 10 horses. Lt Otto described the difficulty the battery encountered. "Soon the Pike Road gave out, and then our trouble began. The soil in this part of the country is of a quicksandy disposition and before we knew it, one of our pieces with horses and drivers, were down to their bellies in the mire, and as bad luck never comes singly, it bagan to rain, which made it nearly impossible for us to keep on the move."
Stuck in the mud, the battery was left behind. The rain continued all day. Since the battery had not expected to have to provide for their own security, muskets were not available for them to post guards. Luckily, the wagon trains of U. S. Regulars attached to the Army of the Ohio were camped mearby. A deal was struck for them to provide muskets and ammunition to the battery in return for the battery providing security around both camps.
Lt. Tons of the 11th Battery was made officer of the guard and volunteers were called for to go on picket duty. Ephraim Goodwill, Bob McKee, Sam Shoaff and several others volunteered.
Sam Shoaff's post was on a road just north of the camp. Corporal John McIntosh recalled, "We were to march at 4 a.m. the next morning. The pickets were relieved at 3 o'clock, but Sam Shoaff was missing. We thought he had been captured, but before we left camp Sam turned up all right. He was asked where he had been when the pickets were relieved, and he answered that he had moved his post further out, for, said he, "I heard a rooster crow, and he crowed like he was for the Union, and I thought he ought to be inside the picket line." McIntosh added, "Sam was a very thoughtful boy, even if he was cross eyed, but at times those eyes would lead him into paths of danger."
One of my favorite stories. It illustrates an innocence that many citizen soldiers took to battle.
Regards, Dave Gorski