84 HISTORY OF THE SEVENTY-EIGHTH REGIMENT O.V.V.I.
JACKSON, TENNESSEE, AND POINTS SOUTH.
A few days after the evacuation of Corinth, we struck tents, desiring to make ourselves useful - started to Purdy, and remained with the frightened citizens over night, leaving Company B with them. We started for Bethel Station, where we pitched our tents and expected to remain for some time. We were highly pleased with the place, on account of the excellent quality of the water, and the hospitality of the citizens, who made us many friendly visits, and immediately opened up a brisk trade with the boys, in butter, fruits, berries, milk, etc
. We built two large bake ovens, and hired a baker to bake bread for the regiment; determined no longer to accept of Uncle Sam's bread, which I regard as the great curse of our army. I care not what surgeons and others say of the healthy nature of crackers; nothing short of divine revelation would convince me that they are not the cause of so much of sickness and death in the army. We can fully establish this fact by examples both of individuals and of regiments who have bakeries connected with their Quartermaster's Department. But as it is not my design now to discuss the cracker business, suffice it to say, I have not yet seen the soldier who does not loath them.
A few days after our stop at Bethel, General Logan's Division, comprising sixteen Illinois regiments, came to dwell with us. The next morning after their arrival the Seventy-Eighth, with parts of the Illinois Twenty-Ninth and Thirtieth, were ordered to proceed up the railroad and open it for transportation as far as Jackson, Tennessee, a distance of forty miles; while General Logan would take a Brigade, accompanied by Colonel Marsh's Cavalry, in a different direction, to intercept cotton burners and guerrillas, who were laying waste the country about Jackson. We started in the cars Saturday morning, leaving a detail of sixty men behind to guard the engineers in bringing the telegraph after us. We arrived at Jackson seven hundred strong, about three P. M. We took the inhabitants by complete surprise. They had just had a large meeting of the citizens, appointed vigilance comittees to test more thoroughly suspicious persons, and inspect the arms and distribute them to the citizens; also to burn the bridges below the city, to prevent our entrance to the place. We came upon them before they had accomplished their last purpose. They were amazed and confounded at our appearance upon their streets; at our boldness in marching directly to the court house and taking possession of the yard. In a few minutes we demanded the keys, and Lieutenant Roberts, of Company E, bore the flag of the Seventy-Eighth to the top and fastened it to the cupola. In majesty it proudly unfurled its stars and stripes to the wind. Like a stream of blazing fire it was seen by all the inhabitants of the city, and for some distance by the citizens in the country. The ladies were seen running with disheveled hair, to the northern part of the city; a company of cavalry encamped on the fair grounds fled, leaving their supper cooked; a company of home guards in the city hastened to doff their military clothes for those of the citizens, and officers of the secesh fled immediately to the country. The people looked indignant and sullen. The colored people seemed to welcome us, and crowded the streets and public square. They said they did not believe we were Yankees, because they thought Yankees had horns and cloven feet.
The boys stacked their arms around the court house, and soon were off buying corn bread, pies and cakes; and many of them commenced boldly with the citizens to debate Unionism, and had the impudence to ask how they liked the stars and stripes. Some have told us since that our boldness was all that saved us that night. They thought we surely had a large force at calling distance.
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