I don’t think I could do the narrative justice for the action seen during the Civil War as well as could the brief comments Charles Edward Broyles entered in his journal years later. So much was packed into those few years; Charles repeatedly mentioned “the horrors of war” and “the destruction of human life.” While he endured some personal suffering as well, the totality of the scenes his eyes took in, during those few years, left an indelible impact upon him.
As his narrative so briefly touched on so many battles, and included so many names mentioned, for as many as I could find, I’ve hyperlinked to further explanations in entries found at Wikipedia, if you’d like further details on the events mentioned in Charles’ notes. Other than that, I’ve left much of Charles’ spelling variations as I found it in the typewritten transcription of his original document.
In 1861 I went to Virginia a private in the 11th Ga. regiment commanded by Col. G. T. Anderson. And was with the army of General Joseph E. Johnson at Winchester Va. that made the great march to reinforce Beauregard at Bull Run. I was a foot [soldier] and not being accustomed to walking I suffered much while my feet bled freely. We did not get to the Bull Run fight. As being new troops the older was shipped from Piedmont Franquier Co. Va. in advance of us. We got there after the battle was over, but in time to witness the destruction of life and property with the horrors of war.In the fall I returned home and commenced to help raise a regiment with Col. J. A. Glenn. We succeeded and I was commissioned Major of it in 1862. I served under Kirby Smith in Kentucky in that year and in the winter came out Braggs Army. We were then soon sent to Middle Tenn. and remained there until the day before Christmas 1863 when our regiment with Stepenson’s division was ordered to Vicksburg Miss. We garrisoned this place until the Federal fleet passed Vicksburg and we then moved out on Big Black. And fought the battle of Champion Hill or Bakers Creek. This was a hard battle, I was holding my horse in the thickest of it when he was shot. I let him go to die and suppose he did. We fell back to Vicksburg and the seige commenced. It was not in my front Grant made his attack but in the Brigade to my left. I stood and witnessed the whole battle and the destruction of human life.We surrendered after 48 days and nights. During which time we suffered for food and ate mule meat. And anything we could get. We surrendered on the 4th of July 1863. Was paroled on the 9th and left on the 12th. The troops all went home. And in October of was exchanged...at Chichamauga. We followed General Burnside to London and after the battle of Chickymauga we were relieved by Longstreet and occupied missionary Ridge, while Sherman was in Chattanooga.I was commissioned Colonel of my regiment in Spring of 1864. I was in front of Sherman to Atlanta in the battles of Resacca, New Hope Church, Luss Mountain, Kennesaw, Pouder Springs, Chattahooche, and many skirmishes, and all around Atlanta I turned back with Hood and was in...Nashville Tennessee, In the two days fighting there and returned on his retreat with him to Augusta Ga.At this place I was furloughed by General Beauregard on the 5th day of February 1865, on account of rheumatism. This ended my service of the Confederacy as I was disabled and had neither horse nor money to regain my command. Then on its way to North Carolina I was paroled at Anderson Court House S. C. and in the fall of 1865 returned with my family to Dalton Ga. poor moneyless and I may say, half clothed. We worked hard and our troubles were great and many. But bourn as best we could.
Your relative got to see a goodly (badly) portion of the Civil War insanity and horror. I wonder if he had any real vested interest in the cause of the struggle (state rights, slaves, what have you).ReplyDelete
He really was a broken man by the end of things... what I find interesting is he returned home in the "fall of 1865" when the war ended in the Spring. I wonder what he was doing that summer?
Iggy, though Charles mentioned in his journal that he was against secession, sadly, he was complicit in supporting some aspects of that Southern way of life. He--as had his father before him--apparently had a number of slaves, although I don't see him as deciding to fight for that "vested interest" itself, per se. Of course, having been raised as a northerner, myself, I recoil at the thought of having that as part of my family's heritage.Delete
Perhaps, even back then, people took up the fight for their side, not being able to verbalize any specific purposes, or the personal interests that propelled them into the fray. Obviously, though, if slavery had bothered the man, he was certainly free to choose not to "purchase" slaves--or to release those he had as freed men and women. I see no record that he did any such thing. Then, again, I haven't seen any record that that was what propelled him into such military involvement personally. It seems as if slavery was the South's "dirty little secret": it was their way of life, yet nobody seemed to talk about it.
You brought up a good point about his return not occurring until the fall of 1865. Rather than discuss that here, I opted to cover that in its own post. Thanks for bringing up that point--exploring it has proven quite helpful!
Walking, most weren't provided transportation. My SC relatives were paroled at Greensboro, NC and walked home to Chesterfield, SC about 110 miles.ReplyDelete
Thanks for bringing that up, Charlie. I imagine a walk of 110 miles would have taken a while! Then too, even if a person had the money left to purchase his own transportation home, the destruction of the war impacted the roads and rail system as well, limiting options for even those with personal means.Delete
he was lucky to have survived:(ReplyDelete
Yes, in one way--but in another way, as often happens, I think the war experience left its permanent scars on him.Delete
A first hand account - so matter-of-fact.ReplyDelete
Yes, he does seem to have a detached way about how he described it all. Of course, I'm always looking for the psychological angle behind the affect. Makes me want to read between the lines...Delete