17 - MUSTER OUT
Our Regiment was quite badly reduced and our boys were anxious to get home. Some of the Regiments were anxious to stay in the service. When the time came that we had a chance to be mustered out, we agreed immediately. We were so anxious to get home that we didn't quarrel with the War Department over the arrangements for transporting us from the scene of war. The officers were to ride in passenger coaches and their horses in the express cars while we were to go in the boxcars.
We left Nashville at three o'clock in the morning and arrived in Louisville the following night. We had the right-of-way so made good time. It required two trains to transport us. We stayed in Louisville two days and those of us who were in good health had a jolly time. When we were to resume our journey northward we found that arrangements had been made to again to carry us in boxcars. But to this arrangement we indignantly objected to. We refused to go in this way. We struck, and very effectively. Communication with Washington at once commenced with the result that the next order was to take us on in passenger trains only. We had planned to board the next passenger train for Chicago when the order from Washington was received. It was a good thing that it was unnecessary for us to carry out such a scheme for it was likely that some of us would have been hurt.
We arrived safely in Chicago in the early part of October. How we were cheered by the meadows and fields of our own good homeland. And the great city of Chicago enlivened our spirits greatly. We went to Camp Douglas which was about a mile beyond the city. There was still quite a number of Johnies, or Southern prisoners, here when we arrived. Some of them never went South. A good many of them were afraid that they would be shot for deserting from the Confederate army, so ignorant were they. They couldn't understand how they could go back to their homes in safety. They were very much inclined to go to Canada to be on the safe side. All we had to do here was to eat, drink, keep clean and stand camp guard which was not a hard task here. The only stirring incident that occurred was Sherman's men getting into trouble with the city police. The soldiers had been celebrating a little to boisterously when the police got busy and landed some of the boys in jail. This act provoked their comrades to desperation with the result that a serious fight took place. One or two of the police died of their wounds later. None of the soldiers died of injuries that I know of. When the General was aware of what was taking place he interceded for his men very effectively. He told the police they would have to release his men within a very short time or they would have the whole army to deal with, and they wouldn't leave the jail until it was razed to the ground. Sherman pleaded that his men would commit no serious offense, that they were only having a good-natured time.
Each Regiment was paid off in it's regular order of coming to camp. There was so much red tape to go through in this performance that there was much time consumed. The trouble didn't end there, several of the boys were relieved of their coupons of pay by pick-pockets. One of our Company was grievously scared by the discovery of his loss. The one who did this dastardly crime was caught by comrades and was treated in such a fashion that he found a great relief in giving us a good wide letting alone. He was a very prosperous looking chap, he had a very stylish silk hat on, now that I remember. He was about fifty years of age. He had between six and seven hundred dollars of the boy's pay coupons with him when caught.
After this experience, the boys kept their checks in their inside pockets. Some had really been very careless in concealing their pay envelopes. Before receiving our pay we received our discharge at an office near to our pay office. The Captain officiated, but if he was absent the ranking officer did the job. The whole performance had to be done very accurately and systematically. We had two Pat O. Farrell's in our Company and both were shot in the thigh; one in the left and the other in the right thigh. One was quite reserved, and the other quite a chatter box and very witty. Both were from the old sod and both were good brave soldiers. When our turn came to go home one train took us across the level prairies of Illinois to Jo Daviess County, six Companies of us.