88                                  HISTORY OF THE SEVENTY-EIGHTH REGIMENT O.V.V.I.

           forage, cotton and Government stores. Our wagon trains, scouting and forage parties were out daily, and a lively trade was carried on with the people for miles around. The rebel army and guerillas began to thicken around us; General Leggett, in command of the Brigade, exercised every precaution and energy to strengthen his position and guard against an attack. He asked for one more battery, and Brigade, but not being granted, was ordered by General Grant to evacuate the post and march to Bolivar. General Leggett remonstrated, and urged the propriety of reinforcements, and holding the position. The rebels were still gathering and concentrating nearer in such numbers as to make sure the capture of the Brigade, but the General, anticipating their designs, and ascertaining their position and numbers, gave the order to remove to Bolivar, Tennessee, twenty-two miles north of Grand Junction. Scarcely had our rear left the place till the rebel cavalry had possession of it, and captured a private of Company I, who having been on picket, stopped to drink a cup of coffee before he would march. Many citizens who had professed loyalty and great attachment to the national flag, and aversion to the rebel cause, were loud in their exclamations to "shoot the damned Yankees." About one hundred bales of cotton were left at the depot, which the rebel cavalry, like wolves, cut to pieces and applied the torch. They exulted over its burning as much as they would at the capture of the Brigade. After being posted at Bolivar, where they were encamped, sixteen regiments of Illinois infantry and several batteries of artillery, General Leggett with his Brigade, resumed his scouting and making reconnoisances through the country, teasing and tormenting the enemy. Wherever an encampment was heard of for miles around, the General was sure to be upon them, and in no case did they stand and make a fight. So much did General Leggett trouble them that Generals Jackson and Van Dorn offered a heavy reward for the person of General Legget and any of his officers.

           Nothing of a startling character occurred till the morning of August 30th. The time was spent principally in foraging, of which the country furnished a great abundance. Peaches, corn and sweet potatoes were brought in in great quantities, which contributed greatly to the health of the troops. There was but little sickness and but few deaths, during the months the troops remained at this place waiting the pleasure of the Government to make a forward movement.

           The Division captured while here nearly one thousand mules and horses from rebels in the vicinity. The town is a county seat and beautiful in location and appearance, containing a court-house, four churches, and some fine residences. The wealthiest citizen of the place is Major McNeal, who took the oath of allegiance and obtained a safe-guard for his property, which was the case of nearly all the citizens of the place. Major McNeal, in a few days after the attack of the rebels upon Bolivar, on the 30th of August, was sent North a prisoner. On the 28th he obtained a permit to pass our pickets and go into the country to look after the interest of his plantations and slaves, of which he had over three hundred, and over one thousand acres of land. In the fight on the 29th he was seen by those of our troops who had been taken prisoners equipped with sword and carbine, among the rebel cavalry, fighting against the Government to which he had sworn allegiance, and against the troops who were protecting his home. So certain was he that the rebels would gain possession of the place, that he had ordered his wife to have dinner ready for the officers of the rebel army. He is a good example of how much confidence can be placed in a wealthy rebel's loyalty and oath to the Government. After this his property was no longer respected. The timber and fencing, which previous to this had not been disturbed, were now all destroyed, being used for fire-wood by our troops.

Intro Previous Next ToC Index