Just to show you that I didn’t run away, I must tell you that we had ammunition issued to us after a while, and were told how to use it. We got forty rounds of cartridges at first and ten rounds right afterward. Then we formed and marched, part of the time at the double, out into a cotton-field. In front of us a few hundred yards off, was a line of forest trees, and under the trees were tents, that I guess some of our other men were driven out of that morning. Here we were at once under a hot fire and lost a lot of men. We went into action about half-past nine or ten o’clock in the forenoon, and two regiments of us stood the enemy off along that line until about noon. Then they rushed us, and such of us as could went away from there. Those that didn’t are most of them there yet. I stayed, because of a shot through my leg which splintered the bone. The enemy trampled over me as they drove our men off the field, and a horse stepped on my shoulder, breaking the collar-bone. Then, when the Johnnies were driven back, I was mauled around again, but don’t remember much except that I was thirsty. And then, for months and months, I was in one hospital or another; and finally I was discharged as unfit for service, because I was too lame to march. I can feel it in frosty weather yet; but it never amounted to much except to the dealers in riding plows and the like. So ended my military life. I had borne arms for my country for about three hours!
It was the eighth of January, 1863, when I got home. I rode from the railroad to Foster Blake’s in his sleigh, looked over my herd which he was running on shares for me, and crossed Vandemark’s Folly Marsh on the hard snow which was over the tall grass and reeds everywhere. How my grove had grown that past summer! I began to feel at home, as I warmed the little house up with a fire in the stove, and rolling up in my blankets, which for a long time were more comfortable to me than a bed, went to sleep on the floor. I never felt the sense of home more delightfully than that night. I would set things to rights, and maybe go over to Monterey Centre and see Virginia next day. I could see smoke at Magnus’s down the road. I felt a pleasure in thus sneaking in without any one’s knowing it.
I had not gone to see Mr. Lusch in Waterloo, for I had learned that so far from being killed, Captain Gowdy had come through Shiloh without a scratch, and that he had soon afterward resigned and gone back to Monterey County. It has always been believed, but I don’t know why, that he was allowed to resign either because of his relationship to the great Confederate families of Kentucky, or because of his record there before he went to Iowa. Anyhow, he never joined the G.A.R. or fellowshipped with the soldiers after the war. I always hated him; but I do him the justice to say here that he was a brave man, and except for his one great weakness—the weakness that I am told Lord Byron was destroyed by—he would have been a good man. I feel certain that if he had been given a chance to make a career in either army, he would have been a general before the war was over.