42nd Indiana Regiment at Owensboro 1862

Chapter 5

Back to Calhoun — Another Dreadful March — A Whole Night on the Road.

In February, 1862, by a small steamboat, the regiment returned to Calhoun and again occupied the old camping-ground. But the command had scarcely gotten comfortably fixed before the order came to move to Owensboro. At 9 o’clock at night all tents had been struck, and everything was ready for the move. If comrades had experienced hard tramping through the mud before, they had no just conception of what was before them that night until its realization.

At the start a vigorous effort was made to keep the men in line and in the road; but before ten miles had been covered these efforts were abandoned and the comrades were permitted the “go as you please” step. Even then when the head of the regiment reached Owensboro no company had half the men in line. It is by no means an exaggeration to say that the first five months of service for the 42d Indiana were of its hardest experiences, and that the physical powers of the men were taxed to the utmost.

At Owensboro, the command embarked on the steamer Liberty, the “flag-ship” of a fleet of steamers which had been ordered there for the purpose of conveying the troops in the Green river country to Pittsburg Landing, or up the Tennessee river, where, we then only understood, a battle would probably be fought.

The enemy at Bowling Green, which during the winter we were supposed to be flanking and watching, had fallen back on Nashville, or been forwarded to the larger force of the enemy about Fort Henry and Pittsburg Landing; consequently there was no further need of a body of near 8,000 troops in the neighborhood of Calhoun, if indeed there ever had been any need of it at all.

The fleet of boats — twelve in number — touched at Evansville only long enough for the comrades who had families and friends there to shake hands with them — and to half wish they had not stopped — then proceeded to Paducah to await further orders.

As intimated, before leaving Owensboro, it was understood that Pittsburg Landing was our objective point, but upon receiving final orders the fleet divided, part going down the Ohio river, and a part going up the Cumberland river to Nashville, the 42d Regiment being included.

On the 25th day of February, ’62, the regiment, now on the boat at the Nashville wharf, was ready to debark, having remained on board for about eight days, during which time the comrades had ample time to recuperate from their tough Green river experience. Thus the first six months and fifteen days of the regiment’s three years service are recorded, with the incidents of the same.

Source: History of the Forty-Second Volunteer Infantry, Compiled and Written at the Request of W. M. Cockrum, Late Lieutenant-Colonel 42d Indiana Regiment, S. F. Horrall, Late Captain of Company G, 42d Indiana Regiment, Published for the Author, 1892.