Chronological History of the American Civil War

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Saturday April 19, 1862 : Elias Howe Jr. (pictured) was discharged today from the U.S. 17th Connecticut Volunteers, along with his father. The father, being old (over 40) and suffering a clubfoot, was not quite officially mustered in. Being quite wealthy, (Howe Jr. had invented the sewing machine) he was allowed to hang around anyway. Once, when the unit had not been paid in months, he wrote a personal check to cover the entire payroll, then went back in line to pick up his private’s pay of $39. Evelina McNeal Bills Polk was the daughter of John Houston Bills “The Pillars” (Hardeman County planter, businessman and diarist.) This portion of her memoirs was written in her own words for her daughter, Evelyn McNeal Polk Eldred. “Our Hardeman County troops went to Jackson,

Tennessee and on to Union City where they remained until they went to Columbus and fought in the Battle of Belmont. Pillow under Gen. Frank Cheatam in command. Our army fell back from there and next stand was made at, or near, Corinth, Mississippi at Pittsburg Landing or Shiloh as it is called. The big battle was fought --- won and lost --- by the inability of Beauregard to comprehend the situation. Albert Sidney Johnson was killed on the 6th of April and Beauregard, after the Federals had stacked their arms on the bank of the Tennessee River to give them up--- called off the troops. The Federals, reinforced that night by Buell’s command, came in fresh and our troops were compelled to give back to Corinth. Your father (Marshall Tate Polk) was left on the battlefield with a shattered leg --- carried afterwards to the cabin of a poor old woman whose house was taken possession of by the wounded. There he laid many days --- a prisoner --- unable to have his leg examined until a Federal surgeon could have time to attend to the Confederates. When it was examined superficially --- they thought he might be able to keep it --- so he was put in a box and carried to a steamboat to be carried up the river to a hospital. The boat was commanded by a Captain Turner. His wife took a fancy to your father and had his cot placed in her cabin and said she would nurse him herself. So they went up the river and passed all the hospitals and returned to Pittsburg Landing. Started up once again. The yanks grew jealous. Published in papers that a Rebel was being pampered, etc. When the boat reached Evansville, a mob gathered and demanded his landing. Captain Turner said he would not do it --- but that he thought the motion of the boat was bad for his leg, so he dropped down to the Marine Hospital and landed him there. As he lay on his cot on the riverbank, some women came and pulled the sheet from his face to look at him. Refined people truly. He made friends in the hospital however. Fond friends and true. Dr. DeBrueler’s son, about 16 years old, sat by him and talked to him day after day. Dr. DeBrueler amputated his leg --- but it had to be done above the knee --- as it had remained on so long the pus had gotten above the knee joint. He lay there many weeks --- until his aunt Sarah, Mrs. James K. Polk, asked the favor of the Commanding General --- General Halleck --- to allow her to have him removed to her home in Nashville, Tennessee. She sent a trained nurse up for him. He was brought down by boat to Nashville --- to her. We all owe her a debt of gratitude for she saved his life undoubtedly. The hospital in Evansville had erysipelas (infection of the skin) in it and your father had it severely. All this while I was in my home in Bolivar, knew not where he was --- as we were in the debatable county and had no news except grapevine.”

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