CIRCUS MEMOIRS
In the Army -1

 

About this time Company E of the Third Indiana Cavalry was formed, in which my brother William enlisted. This made me more anxious than ever to be a soldier, but again I was refused. After they were out six months recruiting officers were sent. I ran away, walked to Lexington, Indiana, and enlisted in the Thirty-eighth Indiana Regiment. The Company was sent to New Albany, camping on the fair grounds, when my father learned of my whereabouts. He came for me, and home he took me. After returning I went to Kentucky and tried to enlist in the Thirty-ninth Indiana, encamped at Nolin Creek. After I was there a few days they learned my age and returned me home. My father said to me: "If you remain at home for six months I will permit you to enlist in the same company with your brother." In a short time the recruiting officers came along. My father gave me a horse. I enlisted and joined the regiment at Budd's Ferry, Maryland, March, 1862. Shortly after my arrival we moved over into Virginia and I was in the war sure enough. We rode back and forth over a large portion of Virginia. The first skirmish was near Fredericksburg. From there I went to Cedar Mountain. The next real service was through Maryland up to South Mountain, Antietam back into Virginia, Battle of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, then back into Virginia, where on the first day of August, 1863, I with George E. Stanley was taken prisoner and landed in Libby Prison. After being confined there three weeks, we were changed to Belle Isle, where with ten thousand others, I was kept eight long months until the following March. I was detailed to cut the meat in the cook house, as a squad of our men were detailed to cook for the prisoners. It was not long before we had no beef to cut, and our diet was black eyed peas. Not wishing to be put back in the stockade I turned to cooking. We would cook all night for the day following. There was not much of a variety, sometimes only sweet potatoes. About this time they called for bakers. A number went out and baked corn bread, which was nothing more than corn meal and water mixed together. We did a great deal of business for a while with the prison guards. They would have a sack of biscuit or other food for sale. Our boys got to making money (to imitate the greenbacks), buying from the guards any food they had for sale. In the night it was difficult to detect the spurious from the real. To make this money we would grease a piece of writing paper, which made it transparent, lay it on top of a genuine bill and trace the dark lines with ink and the lighter ones with a lead pencil, then wrinkle it up to make it appear as though it had been in circulation. They would not be able to detect it until the next day. However, this only lasted a short time. They would not sell us anything more.


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