Camp of the 105th [Ohio], South Tunnel
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The past we have been one of little interest and has dragged wearily away. The boys have daily watched the coming of the regimental post master, but alas, only to turn away disappointed….Occasionally during the week we have had excepting rumors of an expected attack here, but a few night since our Col. received a dispatch from Gallatin, that Breckinridge with a large army was trying to cross the Cumberland a few miles below Gallatin and that we might expect an attack any moment….But the night passed away and morning brought a dispatch that the rumor was false. A few little incidents of this nature have served to keep us alive as it were.
They have had, however, quite exciting times at Gallatin, having been drawn up in line of battle nearly every day in expectation of an immediate attack and being started out of their sleep by the long roll in the still hour of night, only to find that the alarm was false. Last Monday part of a rebel company fired up the pickets there, the captain of the rebels had a splendid mansion about three miles out from the town, and our enraged soldiers, wheeled out a cannon and leveled it with the ground. I wish all rebel officers were served this; that the war, already prolonged too much by the imbecility of our administration and the cowardice of our officers, might end. The common soldiers of the south have no longer any heart in the matter, as all who are taken by our men say. I have myself talked with several of them and they say, to a man, that they would gladly have the old union restored and live again in the enjoyment of peace.
Yesterday I was talking with a very aged man who was a soldier in 1812. He said that when the excitement first broke out about this war the "big men" went around the country telling the people that Lincoln's robbers were coming down here for no other purpose than to set the Negroes [sic] free, incite insurrections, and pillage the country. Is it a wonder that the poor ignorant commoners deluded into this belief should rise and fight even without clothes, for the defense as they thought of their liberty, poor ignorant wretches! How much have the rebel chiefs to account for!
You cannot have the remotest idea of the sufferings of this part of rebeldom. I never did when at home and never should had I not actually seen it. If the war lasts a year longer, many of the inhabitants must actually starve and go entirely naked. The government you are aware allows no trade with the land beyond Nashville; no supplies from the southern sources can reach here. The young men are mostly off to the war, and I have seen many an old couple just tottering on the verge of the grave with a son in either army and no possible means of support the coming years. Their clothes already covered with patches, no others to buy and no money to buy them [sic]. (One old man told me he had not seen ten dollars since the war broke out.) Living in little log houses, the only thing they can have plenty of is wood and that the country abounds in.
The health of the regiment is not so good as it has been. Four have died already this week, one a day. The disease is principally diarrhea, which has so far almost wholly baffled the surgeons['] skill, owing to the villainous foot they give us. The hard crackers, when eaten dry, swell up in the stomach and when previous to eat are heavy as lead entirely indigestible. Las week out quarter master [sic] got us a lot of bacon that so rotten [sic] you could smell it all over the camp. If we could only get salt beef, a great many of the boys now sick would be well. Another man has just died, while I was writing the above. He had been sick for some time and suddenly dropped dead. My health continues pretty good for I take care of myself and keep as far from the Dr. as possible.
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This morning we received news of a federal success at Murfreesboro. It gives the camp a cheerful aspect to hear good news….
Letters of George F. Cram