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						147
	A Soldier s Death.   Deserters.

[newspaper clipping continued: first column]
  I have seen many forms of human suffering (only
this afternoon I visited the hospital of Gen. Porter s
division, in an upper room of which were men
wounded with shot, shell, and rifle-bullets one
through the body, just above the heart), but I have
been seldom more affected than by what I beheld
this morning, not six yards from where I write.  A
private of the 105th Pennsylvania his name Sweit-
zer, from Indiana was brought in pulseless, dying.
He had been very imprudent, bathing in the stream
adjacent to his camp only yesterday, on a dull, cold
morning, thinking, with his youth and health, he
might venture anything.   It s hard, Captain,  he
said, as he lay on his rough bed of hay, to the kind
officer who, with tears in his eyes, knelt beside him
 to have to die like this, when one came to fight for
one s country.   And then again  Tell mother I
died before Yorktown.  I should like to have my
body sent to her; I wish, if it could be done, you d
promise me that.   I couldn t bear to see the end of
it.  Reader! happily away from such scenes, think
of what a life a soldier s is, and let the name move
your pity and respect, your love, honor, and grati-
tude.
  Here are a few items, gathered promiscuously:
  There came within our lines this morning, a de-
serter from the 9th Alabama Regiment, named James
Jones, a rather intelligent young fellow, about 22
years old.  He was dressed in a brown homespun
suit, ornamented with U. S. A. buttons, a white and
green flannel shirt, a slouched felt hat, and stout 
shoes.  He had left his musket behind.  He possess-
ed $50 in Confederate notes, given to him as bounty
on his enlistment, six weeks ago, and some little sil-
ver which he seemed to prize more than the former,
willingly disposing of the Secesh shinplasters to our
soldiers for Uncle Sam s currency.  With a round,
honest-looking, simple face, he told a coherent story.
His mother, he said, had advised him to desert on
the first opportunity; he would have been drafted
had he not enlisted, and so lost the bounty.  He pro-
fessed himself glad to have escaped.  He could read
and write.  His late comrades were well armed, well
clad and well fed, only they had no coffee.
When a cup of it was offered to him, he exhibited
surprise at the presence of sugar; like most of the
Rebels, he had supposed us to be entirely destitute
of it.  (Their pickets make bantering remarks to 
ours on this subject, as I think I have recorded.)  In
Secessia it is sold for two cents per pound.  The
number of the enemy he estimated so loosely, that
the figures are not worth mentioning.  They had
learnt to respect our courage, and were especially

[newspaper clipping continued: second column]
apprehensive of our Sharpshooters.  The barracks in
front of the Warwick road he pronounced deserted,
the main body of the enemy was full two miles be-
hind; they were tearing the huts down to devote
the timber to other uses.  They expected hard fight-
ing toward the end of the present month, but had
been repeatedly assured that the struggle could not
be protracted beyod the month of May; before that
peace must be achieved, some compromise arrived
at.  His commander was Gen. Wilcox.  The Rebel
earthworks, he considerd strong, but affirmed that
the guns in them were chiefly manned by infantry;
they had a few mounted to cover their riflemen.
Such flank works as they possessed, were designed
merely to conceal the arrival of reenforcements.
 They had heard only of the first day s fight at
Pittsburg, or the battle of Corinth, as he called it,
and believed that Buell was killed and Prentiss ta-
ken prisoner.  The news had arrived yesterday in
the Rebel camp that New-Orleans had fallen into the
hands of the Unionists.  This rather accelerated the
determination of the young Alabamian to desert.
He was conveyed, first to Gen. Hamilton s head-
quarters, and then to those of Gen. McClellan, for
examination.
  Apropos of the subject, two days ago, while
riding from Ship Point, I passed a batch of prisoners,
being conveyed thither under charge of a party of
troopers.  The latter had their carbines cooked, as if
to deter their captured enemies from making any at-
tempt to escape.  A dozen coarse, rough-looking,
fellows impudent, withal they appeared so far
from meditating it as to be absolutely jolly.  I
thought of the tobacco warehouses of Richmond, and
made a mental note of the contrast.
  They are often very impudent.  One, I am sorry
to say, a Vermonter, captured in a rifle-pit on Satur-
day, when at Gen. Heintzelman s, inquired, looking
at one of the signal corps:  What in h   that feller
was flopping that flag all to pieces for?   He seemed 
really to be ignorant of the meaning of the action.
A tall, raw-boned man, over six feet in hight, while
avowing his nativity he appeared not at all ashamed
of the bad cause he had been fighting for.  His com-
panions were country lads and Irishmen, and pro-
fessed  not to care a cuss for anything or anybody. 
Page
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Nineteen: page one hundred and sixty-four
Description:Newspaper clipping written by Gunn for ''The New York Tribune'' regarding a Confederate deserter named James Jones.
Date:1862-04-28
Subject:Alabama Infantry Regiment, 9th; Battle of Corinth, First (Miss.); Buell, Don Carlos; Civil War; Clothing and dress; Food; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Hamilton, Charles Smith; Hospitals; Jones, James; Jones, Mrs.; Journalism; McClellan, George B.; Medical care (U.S. army); Military; Military deserters; Peninsular Campaign (Va.); Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, 105th; Porter, Fitz-John; Prentiss, Benjamin M.; Prices; Prisoners of war (Confederate); Siege of Yorktown (Va.); Sweitzer; United States Army, Signal Corps; Wilcox, Cadmus M.
Coverage (City/State):Yorktown, [Virginia]
Scan Date:2010-06-17

 

Volume
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Nineteen
Description:Includes Gunn's descriptions of his experiences as a war correspondent for ""The New York Tribune"" in Virginia while traveling with the Army of the Potomac during the Peninsular Campaign; the Siege of Yorktown; the Battle of Williamsburg; his departure from Alexandria on the steamer Kent; the ruins of Hampton, Virginia, after it was burnt by John B. Magruder; touring the gunboat Monitor; the death of Fitz James O'Brien from a gunshot wound; Jim Parton's temporary separation from Fanny Fern; and seeing Robert E. Lee's house in Virginia.
Subject:Civil War; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Journalism; Marches (U.S. Army); Marriage; Medical care (U.S. Army); Military; Military camp life; Peninsular Campaign (Va.); Prisoners of war (Confederate); Siege of Yorktown (Va.); Slavery; Slaves; Travel; Women
Coverage (City/State):New York, New York; Washington, District of Columbia; Alexandria, Virginia; Hampton, Virginia; Yorktown, Virginia; Williamsburg, Virginia
Note:Thomas Butler Gunn was born February 15, 1826, in Banbury, England, and came to New York in 1849. During the Civil War he worked as a correspondent for the New York Tribune and the New York Evening Post. He returned to England in 1863, and died in Birmingham in April 1903. The collection includes twenty-one volumes of his diaries, including newspaper clippings, letters, photographs, sketches, and various other items inserted by Gunn. Diary entries date from July 7, 1849, to April 7, 1863, and include his experiences with the New York publishing and literary world, his descriptions of boarding houses, his travels throughout the United States, and his experiences traveling with the Federal army as a Civil War correspondent.
Publisher:Missouri History Museum
Rights:Copyright 2010 Missouri History Museum.
Source:Page images, transcriptions, and metadata of the Thomas Butler Gunn diaries have been provided by the Missouri History Museum.