Monday, December 6, 2010

Through hell on a hard-trotting horse, with a porcupine saddle

I found this letter by accident in the September 16, 1862 edition of the Cincinnati Daily Commercial. It's rather remarkable how the writer is so extremely harsh of General Nelson at first, but then seems to support him - or at least one of his actions -by the letter's conclusion.

I liked the creative punishment he suggested in the third paragraph - that's quite an image it paints - and I may keep those words in the back of my mind to ponder when someone annoys me.

Huntsville, IND., Sept 9, 1862.

Ed. Journal: In your daily of yesterday I see an extract from a special correspondent of the Cincinnati Times, concerning the villainous barbarity of some of the citizens of Richmond, KY., shooting at our soldiers as they were retreating through that place. In addition to the testimony given by that correspondent, my own son saw it, and many others from this town and vicinity. We can procure avalanches of testimony verifying the truth of that statement; men whose word will not be doubted in any community where they are known.

With regard to Nelson killing at least two of our brave volunteers and wounding a third,
is (sic) also true. J. Bly, an honest and reputable citizen of this place, saw him kill one, and the wounded volunteer is a resident of this county. I can send a list of witnesses corroborating these statements that our worthy Secretary of State will recognize their names and standing at sight and I know that he will certify to their being men of truth and veracity.

As to General Nelson, my wish is that he may be trotted through hell on a hard trotting horse, a porcupine saddle, without water, money or friends, and that our Indiana boys will again be permitted to revisit Richmond, Ky., and that they may rain fire and brimstone on it like Sodom and Gomorrah.

The boys can make the fire, and old Randolph county will find the brimstone, until it is consumed, and never to be remembered amongst men again, especially when we think of our brave troops first passing through the town before Gen. Smith and his men. The same people had cheered them, and pretended to be Union men; but as soon as the misfortunes of the day were apparent, they waved secession flags in our boys' faces, and shouted for Jeff. Davis at the top of their voices, and shooting was started. You may consider me harsh, but I am a father, and had a son who was thus treated by these Janus faced** devils, and you may know that my feelings cannot be easily reconciled towards (illegible - fold in the original paper)

There is great lamentation in some quarters over the "brutality" of General Nelson to soldiers who were straggling. A number of individuals are virtuously indignant on the subject. General Nelson took the short method with those who were running from their comrades who stood in the line of battle. It was high time to do something to discountenance the cowardly habit of falling out of the lines on various false pretenses. Those who were basely sneaking out of the fight should have been energetically admonished of the impropriety of their course.

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**Publisher note - I had not heard the phrase "Janus faced" before, but it means something along the lines of "two-faced" named in reference to the Roman god Janus. Thanks to for providing this information.

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