The following is an article written by Robert S. Matthews for the Confederate Veteran magazine. He was a member of the Gadsden Spartans, Sixth TN. Inf., which was made up of men who lived in the area which became Crockett County in 1872.|
I printed this article out of a book while at the Tennessee State Library in Feb. of this year. I forgot to note the date it was written. R.S. Matthews is no relation to myself
by R.S. Matthews, Gadsden, Tenn.
I am one of seven sons and the smallest. I was subject to rheumatism early in life, and when twenty-one weighed only ninety-six pounds. When the struggle commenced between the North and South, Dr. W.J. McKinney was raising a company of volunteers at Gadsden, Tenn. He called on me to enlist. I told him that I would not be of any service as a soldier., but he replied: "I will take you; and if you can't stand it, I will send you home." My health improved, and my weight in 1863 was one hundred and forty-four pounds. The name of the company was Gadsden Spartans Company, 6th Tennessee Infantry, Cheatham's Brigade. They were in thirty-three battles and skirmishes. I was in all except the Battle of Murfreesboro, and was wounded at Shiloh and Perryville Ky. My bible was shot in my breast pocket while in the ditches at Chickamauga, I was struck by two spent balls while on picket duty, my gun was struck by a piece of cannon ball which exploded near us. So I have felt the effects of two Minie balls on my body, besides the cannon ball on my knapsack and the shock of my gun on picket.
Of the one hundred and two men in the company, only four were present at the surrender. The 6th and 9th, which contained over a thousand men each, consolidated in '63. Only thirty-three of these were at the surrender at Greensboro, N.C. Thirty-two of this number had been wounded, some of them from three to five times, and the one who was not wounded had a hole shot through his hat.
A memorable amusement in camp life was a snowball battle. I was on guard during one of the big snows when some one suggested the fun. Dividing the forces, they formed a line and the battle commenced, about a hundred engaging in it. Another interesting time was in dewberry season, when our mess had gathered a camp kettle full and prepared them for dinner. It was an enjoyable feast. Occasionally some one would received a box of provisions from home.
We were with General Bragg in the Kentucky campaign. When the army left Chattanooga, the sick and weak soldiers were ordered in camp near that place to stay until they were able to march. Mycaptain told me to report to the doctor. I replied that I could keep up with the wagon train. The first day I managed to keep up with my regiment, but the second I failed to keep in ranks. A woman whose husband was a teamster was riding horseback. She passed me and offered to take my gun and knapsack. I gladly accepted, and she carried them for me that day. Next day as we were going through the mountains an old man overtook us riding a sorry looking bay mare. He asked me to ride his horse and he would walk with my company. I accepted. That evening when he was about to leave for home I asked him if he would sell the horse. He said he would take $60 for her. I had only $50, so he accepted that. I rode old Kate on to Perryville, Ky. I was shot in the battle and old Kate was left in Kentucky.
I was one of the few wounded who were carried to Knoxville in an ambulance. It was a cold journey. One night I was left in the ambulance, and the driver fed and watered his mules in the back part of it. My blanket got wet and froze, and my feet became frostbitten.