Jul 6. This morning we attacked Lebanon. After five hours fighting,
Lt. Charles Hanson surrendered his Regiment. Then we double quicked
to Springfield and, at their request, paroled them. From Springfield
we traveled all night and reached Bardstown early in the morning.
July 7. The regiment halted about four miles from Bardstown,
fed and rested a little. Meanwhile I called at Col. Brown's, a hospitable
gentleman, near Bardstown, and wrote a letter to Dr. Chenault, informing
him of the sad death of his brother. At this house I met the Misses
Eddie and Sue Brown, who were as kind and hospitable to me as the noblest
of their sex could be. When the great account of humanity shall be
closed at the bright throne of Heaven, the fairest, noblest, purest
best records will be those of such ladies as these I have alluded to above.
On the evening of this lovely day we captured a train of cars on the L
& N road. It was the grandest, most imposing scene of the sort
I have ever witnessed. From this point we moved on towards Garrettsville,
across Salt River, and camped for four hours near Garrettsville.
July 8. The great Ohio River, the dividing line between the North
and the South, is reached. The command is crossing. Here I
met Capt. Heady. The enemy are pressing us in the rear, and their
gunboats keep up a steady fire on the two stern boats, in which Morgan's
command is crossing. Thoughts, hopes and anxieties chase each other in
wild succession through my mind, but my Regiment is again guarding the
rear and vigilance is the price of liberty. At 12 O'clock tonight,
it being moonrise, the enemy pressed upon us and drove our pickets in,
but again fell back.
July 9. This morning I am left with half of the Regiment one
mile from the river as a rear guard, and at daylight the Yankees moved
down upon me. It was a critical and trying moment. By the interposition
of Divine Providence, a heavy fog suddenly, and whilst hot skirmishing
was going on, enveloped friends and foes, and the Yankees halted.
Under this fog, I crossed my command over the river. As I moved
up the hills of Indiana, the enemy moved down the hills of Kentucky.
We are now fairly into Yankee land. What the result will be God only
knows. We attacked Corydon this evening, and, after a tolerable severe
fight for two hours, took the place and several hundred prisoners. Thence
to Salisberry, where we bivouacked for a few hours.
July 10. Attacked Palmyra and captured a small force of the
enemy. Then moved on Salem, where after some fighting, a considerable
force surrendered to us. Here we destroyed heavy supplies, a depot,
and several bridges. Then we captured Canton, tore up the railroad,
and tore down the telegraph, and then rapidly moved on, like an irresistable
storm, to the vicinity of Vienna, where, for a brief period, we bivouacked.
The citizens seemed frightened almost to death, for Federal papers have
published the wildest tales about us. The Governors of Indiana and
Ohio have ordered out all able-bodied men, and we have already fought decrepit,
white-haired age and bouyant, blithe boyhood.
July 11. Marched without hindrance through Vienna, New Philadelphia,
Lexington, and Paris, and came to Vernon, where we found the enemy in great
force. The enemy consisted of a large force of Volunteers and Militia.
We made a flank movement, tore up all the railroads around Vernon, and
then traveled all night to Dupont, where we rested and fed our horses.
Like an irresistable avalanche we are sweeping over this country.
Man never knows his powers of endurance 'till he tries himself. Thee
music of the enemy's balls is now as familiar and common as the carol of
the spring bird which, unknowing of death and carnage around, sings today
the same song that gladdened our forefathers.
July 12. We move rapidly through six or seven towns without any resistance,
and tonight lie down for a little while with our bridles in our hands.
July 13. Today we reach Harrison, the most beautiful
town I have yet seen in the North--a place, seemingly, where love and beauty,
peace and prosperity, sanctified by true religion, might hold high carnival.
Here we destroyed a magnificent bridge and saw many beautiful women. From
here we moved to Miami Town, where we destroyed another slendid bridge
over the Miami river. The bridge at Harrison was across the Whitewater
river. From Miami Town we passed through the most fertile and lovely
region of Ohio. For hours the column moved at full speed, for we
were now moving around Cincinnati. County seat after county seat
reared itself in stately slendor, now scarcely distinguishable for the
clouds of dust. Town after town and city after city are passed.
A part of Morgan's command makes a feint on Cincinnati, and we move at
this rate a distance of eighty-three miles, and all in sixteen hours.
If there be a man who boasts of a march, let him excel this. After
this Gilpin race we rested by capturing a train of cars on the Little Miami
and a considerable number of prisoners. Then we surrounded Camp Dennison,
captured a large train of wagons, and about two hundred mules. From
there we moved on Winchester, where we destroyed a fine bridge, and thence
July 15. Today we traveled through several unimportant towns,
destroyed one bridge, and bivouacked at Walnut Grove.
July 16. Today we find the first destruction in our way, consisting
of felled trees. The enemy are now pressing us on all sides, and
the woods swarm with militia. We capture hundreds of prisoners, but,
a parole being null, we can only sweep them as chaff out of our way.
Today we crossed the Scioto to Piketon, and as usual, destroyed the bridge.
Thence we moved to Jackson.
July 17. Today we find our road badly blocked and "axes to
the front" is now the common command. We have today passed through
many little dutch towns with which this country abounds. Tonight
we halt near Pomeroy. The enemy are in considerable force in front.
We attacked them and drove them from our front, and then moved rapidly
in the direction of Buffington, where we intend to cross.
July 18-19. All are now on the qui vive, for the Ohio River
is full of gunboats and transports, and an immense force of cavalry is
hovering in our rear. We reached Buffington tonight. All was quiet.
A dense fog wrapped this woodland scene. Early in the morning of
the 19th the Yankees guarding the ford were attacked by our force, and
driven away and their artillery captured. Immediately after this,
and whilst we were trying the river to ascertain if it was fordable, the
gunboats steamed up the river. The transports landed their infantry, thousands
of cavalry moved down upon us, and the artillery commenced its deadly work.
We formed and fought here to no purpose. The river was very full
in consequence of a heavy rain away up the river. Shells and minnie
balls were ricocheting and exploding in every direction, cavalry were charging
and the infantry with its slow, measured tread moved upon us, while broadside
after broadside was poured upon our doomed command from the gunboats.
It seemed as if our comparatively small command would be swallowed up by
the innumerable horde. About half of it was captured or killed.
I made my way out by charging through the enemy's lines with about one-half
the Regiment, and finally formed a juncture with the remnant of our command
under Gen. Morgan, now numbering 1,200. With these we moved towards
Cheshire, traveling rapidly all night, passing around the enemy's pickets,
over cliffs and ravines, which, under ordinary circumstances, would have
been considered insurmountable.
Jul 20. Today reached Cheshire. There Buffington was
entrenched to a certain extent. The Yankees pressed us in the rear
and fired upon us from their gunboats in front, thus forcing us back to
a high hill, where, after exhausting our ammunition, we surrendered 700
men. I saw Gen. Shackleford and arranged the terms of surrender.
He allowed all field officers to retain side arms and horses, all others
to retain private property*. This prosposition I announced to all
the officers, and all voted to surrender, and thus ended the saddest day
of my life. (* These surrender terms were later declared invalid)
July 21. We are now prisoners. I have just found Rube, my negro,
who was captured at Buffington. Also find that my blanket was perforated
by a minnie ball and suppose my horse shot, as I had to mount a fresh one,
and in the excitement, I did not hunt the wound. We field officers
have been paroled and are now stopping at the Cheshire Hotel. Dr.
William Mullins, USA and Col. Crittenden are here. Both kind. The
ladies stare at us, or rather the women, in our rooms and while we are
bathing, like we were wild beasts. Met a very kind lady today. Her
husband was a Rebel soldier. I regret that I have forgotten her name.
July 23. This evening I went with all the officers on board
a steamer, and we are now en route for Cincinnati. Calm, pleasant evening.
The sun shines as brightly, the birds sing as gaily, and the water ripples
as gently as it did years ago when, as a free man, I passed over the same
route. Now I am a prisoner. This sentence speaks volumes. All
seem gay and happy still.
July 26. With double guard on each side of us we marched through
an immense crowd, which cursed and hissed us, and some seemed cowardly
enough to wish to strike us. I noticed some who looked kindly, particularly
Mrs. Louise ____, who grasped many of us by the hand. We are now
lodged in 9th Street Prison, a most loathsome place filled with vermin
and impure air--in fact a Hell on earth. The shrieks and shouts of
malefactors one night made me believe I was in Hell..."
James B. McCreary was then taken to Johnson's Island POW prison before
being sent with other officers to Columbus (Ohio Pententiary). It would
not be until November 1864, after a long crueling prison experience would
McCreary again see the Stars and Bars. Most of the enlisted men were transported
to Camp Douglas POW Prison, Chicago, Illinois where many of them would