Indiana's and Kentucky's German Americans in the C


APRIL 16, 1862







The last days were very fateful. Yesterday, the 7th, at 5 o'clock in the morning, we marched off from Pittsburg on the left bank of the Tennessee River. Nelson's division was on the left wing, and our regiment (6th Ky.) served as skirmishers; my and Capt. Martin's companies served as the forward-most skirmishers, which delighted us greatly. Around 6 o'clock we collided with the Rebels; the dance began immediately, and lasted until 8 o'clock in the evening. It cannot be looked at as a battle, but rather as a genuine slaughter. How many thousands were killed on each side cannot yet be said. The field is 7 to 8 miles long and just as wide. My brother Anton was wounded in the leg; however, not dangerously. Of the German officers, Capt. Stein, Lt. Dettweiler and, as I said, my brother, were wounded. How many dead soldiers we have is not yet known. From my company, only four were wounded and a few are missing. With this affair, we have again discovered how good it is when one is properly drilled before he attacks the enemy.

Around 10 a.m. our regiment made a bayonet charge on the Rebels, which they could not withstand; two of their regiments fled; however, they came back again reinforced, so we had to retreat. How many troops took part in the battle I cannot report exactly. One believes, however, that at noon, two hundred fifty-thousand men stood in the fire. The cannons made the earth rise; people and horses were running wildly, and I have never seen men more bloodthirsty and bold.

At certain places, fifty-to-sixty dead layed in an area about 20 paces in circumference. The sight of the dead and wounded lying around here was truly horrible. At places where there was thick undergrowth, it was mowed down by the gunfire.

The day before, General Grant had a hot fight with the Rebels and was beaten back; and if General Buell had not come at the right time with his army to help, the Rebels would have driven General Grant and his army into the Tennessee River. Our regiment made a very good showing, and is referred to by some regiments as the "bloody Sixth." It stood like a wall; and, just for that reason, our people escaped. If they had fallen back in disorder, probably all would have been killed. Our determined action and proper maneuvers instilled in the Rebels the respect which they generally have for the German soldiers. Because of this severe strain we are also worn out. We were on the march for 11 days before we came into the battle; and had nothing to eat but crackers and ham, and had no rest. We cursed sometimes about Nelson during the hard and long marches; but we have now seen we were wrong, and seen how necessary this march was. Meanwhile, we, for that reason, prevented much disaster and large losses; because on the second day of the battle was won back all that was lost on the first day and, with it, much more; and when we complete it, cut off their path, then it is soon finished for them. It is said that their commanding general was killed and Beauregard was wounded.

Our wounded are supposed to be taken to Louisville.

The wounded from my company are: Jacob Kimmel, Peter Laux, Markus Schmidt and H. Kalkoffer. Charles Franke is missing.

Capt. Stein is supposed to be seriously wounded.

In our regiment there are approximately 100 dead and missing.

Next time more details.

I am healthy and in good spirits.

Bernhard Hund

Letter published in the Louisville Anzeiger newspaper on January 13, 1864

(Translated into English by Joseph R. Reinhart)

From the 32nd Indiana Regiment

Strawberry Plains, 29 Dec.'63

Mr. Doern:

Since we finally have the opportunity, now and again, to send a letter, I want to share with you how it goes with us, and under what conditions we await the time, when we can say: "Now we are again the masters of ourselves."

Our brigade has camped for a few days near the railroad bridge at the Tennessee River. Last June, this bridge was destroyed by our cavalry, under Col. Carter, and we must rapidly work on it, in order to rebuild it.

Our soldiers have arduous work, because they must carry all the wood a long way to the construction site— such work would be better suited to a team of six mules, than to poor soldiers. But a mule would be ruined, they can not be used so hard.

We are also deficiently supplied with food. Lately they supply us with almost nothing but corn meal in which the husks that one normally separates from the meal before you feed it to the swine are still mixed.

Bacon, without which nothing can be done with the corn meal, is given to us in such small quantities, that it is hardly worth the effort.— So it is also with the coffee and salt, and the last article we must sometimes buy ourselves, and at high prices.

It is not only about the lack of food, over which we have to complain, but also clothing.— We departed from Chattanooga with totally torn up shoes, socks, shirts, etc., and have received nothing since then, other than a single time several pairs of shoes, socks, pants and shirts, barely a tenth of what is needed by the regiment. Most of us were obliged to buy shoes and socks and pay outrageous prices.

They do not seem concerned with us at all. We must do our duty, whether we stand barefoot in our torn up shoes or not, whether we lack an overcoat or cover to protect us from the cold and rain day or night. Our tents have been worn out for a long time, so they barely protect us against wind, let alone against storms. Getting new ones is not being taken care of, and if we requisition new ones, then we are responsible for paying for them ourselves.

Today the various orders regarding re-enlistment were first read to us by Colonel Erdelmeier. There is the opportunity until (illegible word) M. for all who intend to serve to notify company commanders. What will be the result of this in our regiment, will possibly be announced.

[signed] $



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