58 HISTORY OF THE SEVENTY-EIGHTH REGIMENT O.V.V.I.
It will be seen by an examination of the records that nearly one regiment of men have been used up, within a period of less than four years, by deaths from disease or wounds, killed in battle, discharged for disability, missing and deserted.
Although the regiment has suffered severely, being in all the important battles, skirmishes and campaigns of the Western army, always in the front, and in the heart of an enemy's country, and living both summer and winter among the swamps of a miasmatic and unhealthy climate yet it has been wonderfully spared and blessed. Prospering providences have attended the regiment in all its marches and battles. Very often, when in the most dangerous position, and circumstances of the most hazardous nature, some fortuitous event occurred that saved the regiment. Often, very often, has the writer observed that a few moments earlier or later would have been attended with the most disastrous consequences. Wise, prudent and skillful commanders have saved many a precious life. Yea, at times, saved the entire regiment from being annihilated or taken prisoners.
The Sanitary condition of the regiment has always been a special care of its officers. Although it received but little benefit from the Sanitary Commission nearly all the period of the war, being too far to the front to be accessible to the agencies. It has been a source of regret that the regiment could enjoy so little of the kind and generous liberality of its many friends who have contributed so largely and profusely to all the Relief Associations and Commissions for the benefit of the soldiers.
For more than one-half the past two years, the regiment has been allowanced to one-half, and sometimes to one-third rations, and many times for days together, none at all; while the Eastern army, and those in our immediate rear, were receiving almost sufficient from Christian and Sanitary Commissions to supply all deficiencies of the army rations. Often have we seen men in the rear of Vicksburg, before communications were opened, and also on the Atlanta campaign, offer five dollars for a single "hard-tack," and at the same time marching and fighting night and day; at other times, after lying in their pits and trenches, as at Vicksburg, Kenesaw Mountain, Atlanta, and the siege of Savannah, for weeks and months exposed to hot sun and the cool dampness of the nights, and constantly under the enemy's fire, with a very scanty allowance. Such circumstances must necessarily enlarge the mortality of the regiment. The wonder is not, therefore, that so many have fallen, but that any were spared; not that so many of its brave men lie scattered here and there, in nearly every rebellious State, but that so many were permitted, through a kind and merciful Providence, to return to their homes and their friends. Although we rejoice in a country saved by the valor and heroism of her sons, yet there are clouds of blackness that gather over us to dim the brightness of our joy. Sad and desolate hearts mourn, bereft of loved ones who lie sleeping their long sleep, sanctifying by their ashes the soil of traitors. We rejoice that the stars and stripes, the flag of the free, waves over a free people, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and not one slave beneath its folds. But in the midst of our rejoicing shadows of departed ones hang over us, and linger around, causing the patriot to exclaim: Alas! that it was purchased so dear. We thank God for liberty and a free land; that the fetter has been stricken from the hand of the slave; but, alas! at such a price! The sacrifice of the husband, the father, the brother, the son, who shall never return to receive the welcome smile, to hear the gladsome voices, to
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