Letter No. 2
Hd. Qrs., Co. A, 129th Ills. Vols. Inft.
Buck Lodge, Tenn. Dec. 25th 1862
I commenced [a] letter hastily this afternoon & closed it this evening, & as I have still a few leisure moments I will try & give you a short description of our present situation.
We left Mitchellsville rather hastily last Saturday evening [the 20th] having learned that Morgan with a large force was intending an attack here.1 We were well fortified & felt quite secure. We have just fairly commenced our fortifications here. Bucks Lodge is nothing more than a tank which supplies the Rail-Road with water. There are two bridges & over 3/4 mile of trestle work under the road which if destroyed would take a long time to repair, hence the importance of the place.
It is a wild country all around & a few years ago a favorite haunt for deer, hence the name Buck Lodge. Our Camp composed of the 79th Ohio & 129th Ills. occupy three hills, one north, South, & west, all of which we are fortifying. The little valley is not more than a mile either way.2 Our main camp is on the west side & commands the tank & bridge, the other two command the R. Road. When our fortifications are completed, we will be able to cope with much more than an equal force unless they bring Artillery upon us.
We are all hard at work. Last night we lay in readiness to fight all night, & the entire forces were in line of battle from 4 o’clock till after day-light. Our company was stationed about 1 mile north of camp, & we were in the woods near the road all night, but no enemy came. Tonight all is quiet; rumor says the enemy has fled.3
The country about 2 miles west & South of this, I am informed, is very thickly settled. I have never had an opportunity of seeing it as yet, however. All around Camp it is quite romantic. Quite a number of the Officers were invited out to dinner to-day & talk very largely of the good things. I am not one of the fortunate ones, however. They tell me there are quite a number of Union families in the neighborhood.4
It has commenced to rain a little, but we are located so high & dry that I do not feel much uneasy[iness] but what we will be comfortable.
We organized a Regimental Church tonight & were pleased to receive 30 names. I think by Sunday it will reach 100. A very good feeling prevails, & the nightly meetings are well attended. There has been one conversion this week, a young man from Scott County. I do not recollect his name. We hope for a general revival soon. Pray for us.
The health of the Regt., with the exception of a number of cases of measles, is quite good. None of the latter cases have proven fatal. I rather think Lieut. Smith is getting them. He feels much like it to-night, but you need not mention it. As it is growing quite late, I will close with [a] kiss for yourself & baby & much love to all.
Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver
- On the 19th General Granger had telegraphed Colonel Smith to “hold yourself in readiness to march, if required, at a moment’s notice. Meantime fortify strongly to resist a superior force, be vigilant. Keep pickets out to the east and southeast.” Granger to Smith, Dec. 19, 1862, Regimental Papers, 129th Illinois, NA.
This alert had been triggered by a message from General Rosecrans warning, “John H. Morgan started today from his camp, below Lebanon, with between 5,000 and 6,000 cavalry . . . and a few small batteries, for the purpose of breaking up the railroad.” Orders soon followed for the force at Mitchellville to reinforce the regiment at Buck Lodge. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XX, pt. II, pp. 200, 202, 212. [↩]
- The 79th Ohio had been posted at Buck Lodge previous to the arrival of the 129th Illinois. On Dec. 21 Colonel Smith had notified General Rosecrans that when his regiment reached Buck Lodge the previous evening he found the 79th Ohio, “with only about 200 men fit for duty, and no fortifications.” To hold the area, he needed a section of artillery. Ibid., p. 214. [↩]
- On Christmas Eve, while J.F.C. and the soldiers of the 129th Illinois guarded the approaches to Buck Lodge, General Morgan and his raiders camped six miles south of Glasgow. As Glasgow is 50 miles northeast of Buck Lodge, this demonstrates that Morgan, as he drove toward the Louisville & Nashville Railroad on his Christmas Raid had hoodwinked Rosecrans and his subordinates. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XX, pt. I, p. 154. [↩]
- Private Dunham, on Dec. 23, had written his parents, “Thare is some good Union people heare. Thare is one good old lady that brings something in every day for the sick.” Through the South with a Union Soldier, p. 50. [↩]