Rough Experience in the War
The following data is extracted from David and Margaret Mitchell Genealogy.
From the records, it can be seen that a large number of the descendants of David Mitchell were in the Union service during the civil war. Many of them suffered great hardships; several gave their lives. Doubtless each of the brave departed had, as well as the living now has, a true and thrilling story of rough usage during that terrible struggle for the preservation of our Union, which would greatly interest all surviving relatives and friends.
We requested cousin, J. J. Mitchell, to give his story, and he does so as follows
Entered the army Aug. 4, 1862, at the age of 18; serving 3 years less 6 weeks and 2 days in Co. D, 44th O. V. I. In Jan. 1864, the Regt. veteranized as the 8th Vet. Vol. Cavalry, and discharged by reason of end of war. The 44th was mounted, Feb. 16, 1863, and was in saddle much of the time, day and night, with no regular camp, but scouted in Eastern Ky. and Middle Tennessee until Aug. 1st, same year, when we were dismounted to march about 300 miles from Danville, Ky., to Knoxville. Tenn. There was no wagon train to go along, so each soldier was loaded down like pack mules, to carry 10 days rations, an extra suit of clothes, and full infantry equipments, as well as 80 rounds of Enfield rifle ammunition. Each soldier carried one-half of a so-called "pup" or dog tent, and a gun pouch. I weighed my load and found it to be 139 pounds. which was quite a load for a boy like I was-only 19 years old, 5 ft. 10½ inches high and weighing 160 pounds.
After seeing a continual service for over six months and then to be dismounted and be "pack" horses with such a load, and march 300 miles in hot months, was not to our liking, so the entire regiment struck or mutinied. We were put in line one evening and ordered to stack arms, to be put under arrest. But every man, when ordered to leave guns and step 3 paces to the rear, took his gun with him, which meant to fight and resist the 104th O. V. L, which was to guard and hold us under arrest. That was a fearful July night, when we lay at place-rest in front of our company quarters, awaiting the outcome of our mutinous action. But after a lecture to each company separately, with good but faithfully kept promises from our beloved colonel, we were quieted down and dismissed, to quarters. A more dreadful night than any battle I was in! We were as one man, and our colonel knew it. On that march beginning Aug. 16, 1863 (the hottest day that year), we subsisted mostly on roasting ears. Burnside with his 20,000 took Knoxville, scarcely firing a shot, then under light marching orders, marched 60 mile in 60 hours, and captured Reb. Gen. Frazier and Cumberland Gap. Was in seige of Knoxville where the Rebs were so badly slaughtered in following December and Longstreets army routed and driven to the Virginia line.
We veteranized, Jan. 6, 1864, just after that cold New Years, in the cavalry service, with a furlough home, making a march of 165 miles by way of Big Creek Gap to Lexington, Ky., through deep snow; "which proved a blessing," (?) as we were without shoes, using pieces of blankets for socks and gum blankets for shoes to keep our feet dry.
We drew for the march only three spoonsful each, of sugar and coffee and 5 hard tack; as the rations could not be spared from the troops remaining there, leaving us to forage through the mountains where we would only see from one to three houses per day, for about 500 to forage from. But we made up for it in Cincinnati while lodging in 5th Street market barracks.
The 60 day furlough passed too quickly. Reported to Gen. Sheridan in Va., and put in a hard summer doing active scouting and fighting, while m winter quarters at Beverly, Va., we were surprised by Reb. Gen. Duke, that cold morning of Jan. 11, my 21st birthday, and after being stripped by the rebs of every desirable bit of clothing-being exchanged for their worn out and bad fitting clothing-and scarcely any food, we marched across mountains, waded rivers, when our clothes would be frozen like boards in 15 minutes after coming out of the water, till we arrived near Stanton, Va., in a heavy sleet storm. From here we were carried in open cattle cars to Richmond and put in Libby prison, here the only food was broken down poor mules, unscreened tailings of rice as it came from the barn floor, a two-inch cube of partly cracked corn in saltless bread but well baked. As occasional dessert we had 2 gill of soured pumpkin molasses. And as to glassless windows, no fire, and the vermin I forbear to make mention. Only by 300 men being huddled in small rooms we kept each other warm. But we had plenty of hydrant water when not frozen up. On return from army, I spent one year in school.
I am still, at 63, hale and hearty and eau do a hard day's work; have never used tobacco nor tasted any kind of liquor; am a staunch Republican
Source: David and Margaret Mitchell Genealogy