Chapter XII -- The Barefoot Squad

General Hood remained at Palmetto, Georgia for a short time after which he started on his fatal march to Tennessee when he met with opposition at several points, one of them being Ringold Gap, which gave rise to the hymn so often sung in our churches: "Hold the Fort."

At Dalton on May 8th. this campaign opened and there were a few white soldiers and a considerable force of Negroes left to hold this place for the Federals.

On Hood's march a part of his force was sent to destroy this body at Dalton, this writer being with what was then known as the barefoot squad, which was in the rear.

Ringold and New Hope were two of the most important battles after leaving Dalton. Another battle that history gives no account of, and some will perhaps say that it was fought only in the imagination of this writer. This was the Battle of the Dead Angel between Cheatham's Division of the Confederate army, which was well fortified, and General Dan McCook's corps of the Union forces. This battle was fought some three or four miles west of Kennesaw Mountain on the 27th. of June.

After moving on to Tuscumbia and Florence, Alabama we lay there for six weeks awaiting supplies. Winter had set in and while at Tuscumbia we had our first snow fall. While laying over at these places the boys resorted to many things for pleasure, pastime and profit. This consisted mostly in chuck-a-luck and poker by day, and foraging by night, but few soldiers would take another's regular rations, and the soldier who would do it was considered a low down thief, but anything bought out of, or from a peddler's wagon was considered legitimate prey for any soldier. I will give one instance of a foraging escapade at night: I had drawn and eaten a full day's rations one morning but by night I was ready to eat again, but had nothing to eat, so I set out as soon as dark set in, to seek something to devour. At last I came to General Gist's Headquarters. He had acquired a pumpkin and his two Headquarters Negroes, cook and hostler, were cooking it.

I watched the proceedings until I decided that it would be some time before the pumpkin would be mine, and as the night was very cold I returned to my own quarters to keep warm by the log fire. I made about three visits to General Gist's headquarters before those Negroes were ready to divide, as they took some of it out in a pan and cooled and ate it, then like good, honest Negroes rolled themselves in their blankets, and I thought would, as an Irishman once made the expression: "Soon be in the arms of Murphy." I roused up a pal and told him what I had treed. We got in sight of the fire and I had prepared two wooden hooks from some bushes. I gave my pal Charley one of the hooks and told him to walk on to one side of the fire, I would go on the other and we would lift the lid off the big, old time oven, then each of us would get a hook in the ears of the oven and walk away with it. Everything was going nicely until, as we were lifting off the lid it made a noise and the Negroes roused up and started shouting for the General. Charley dropped his side, and although I got hold of the oven, I could not run with it, and not wanting the General to get hold of me, I had to run and leave it. The General was from South Carolina. He was a good man, and incidentally one of the six Confederate Generals killed a short time after this occurrence at Franklin, Tennessee.

It was but a few days after this that this army took its leave from Florence and started for Nashville, Tennessee.

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