Correspondence of the N.Y. "Post"
Pulaski, Tenn. Feb. 1, 1864
From the California Newspaper, The Daily Evening Bulletin, 3/17/1864
Submitted by Marie Young
But few persons are aware of the existence of a loyal white regiment of Alabamians; yet it deserves honorable mention in this age of strife, as much for the circumstances under which it was organized, as for the signal service it has since rendered to the Government. This little body of men, around which thousands, many yet to gather, owes its organization chiefly to Col. George E. Spencer, its commander, and Charles B. Cagle of Winston County, Alabama. Uncouth and illiterate as was the latter, he possessed the qualities of bravery, fine feeling and native intelligence, which rendered him superior to his class in every respect. It is said he was never outside of Winston County until the war broke out of the State in the whole course of his life; but even while surrounded by ignorant people and pernicious influences, he was staunch and firm in our cause and never yielded in his determination to maintain it.
What the men of this regiment of Alabama have suffered none but those who have instead of the same bitter cup can conceive. Reared among slave holders, it was no easy matter for them to withdraw from their interests and openly support a cause in every way antagonistic. To avoid being swept away by the furious tide of Secession became an almost (Herculean ? unreadable) task. Some were conscripted, in spite of every effort to avoid it, and afterwards arrested, coming into the Federal lines at the risk of life -sacrificing home, property, friends, everything in the act. Is it to be wondered at if these men, smarting under the sense of manifold wrongs, have proved themselves mighty in the use of the avenging sword - if their arms are steeled by intenser purposes, their nerves strung to more than ordinary endurance? And not for themselves only does the hot blood boil and surge through their veins. The nuity of the old States has been ruthlessly broken; the old flag which they were taught to love and honor, insulted. Summing up the whole, they have a fearful account to settle with the hot- headed authors of a nation's distress.
The regiment was raised in Corinth, Miss.; its organization was completed in September last. The first company was raised in January, 1862 by Captain Burdick, and was composed entirely of the refugees then in the Federal lines and around Corinth. Immediately after the completion of the first company a second was started increasing thus until the entire twelve were filled. The regiment now numbers more than 1200 men, having for duty, at present, about 900 out of the 1200.
The (un-readable) recruiting was singular and venturesome. Men, acquainted with the country, were sent from the camps to the Union counties in Alabama, traveling at night and through the woods to avoid observation: in that way penetrating a distance of from 150 to 200 miles. They would then hide themselves in the caves and mountains, and by stratagem manage to (un-readable) with the Union men. After having got together 40 or 50 men willing to run the risk of attempting to gain the Federal hues, they would start cautiously; travel by night and through the woods, ceremoniously avoiding the public roads till out of reach of danger. Under every trial this mode succeeded admirably, Corinth being reached safely in each instance. This was carried on so successfully for some time that Governor Shorter, of Alabama, offered $10,000 reward for the body of any Federal recruiting officer taken in the State. The numerous caves in Winston County, in the vicinity of Charles Cagle's residence, made his house a favorite rendezvous for our recruiting parties. He received all who came to him cordially, fed and aided them in his power. For two years previous to his murder this poor fellow had been obliged to sleep in some of these caves for safety.
But to continue: as a specimen of the success of recruiting at that time, I will mention one instance worthy of notice. In September, Col Spencer selected Lieut. Wamel as the most suitable person for this purpose, directing him to raise a company in Walker County, Alabama. He traveled with a detail of packed men, a distance of some 200 odd miles. They walked the entire distance, got together 110 men, returning to camp in 15 days from the time of starting, bringing with them 12 prisoners and a valuable rebel mail. The (unreadable) of Wamel's expedition gave him the captaincy of the newly recruited company, and his brother officers unite in declaring that a braver or better man in not in the service.
Since the organization of the regiment it has been in constant and active service. It has captured over 900 prisoners. It has lost in one action, killed and wounded upwards of 100 men- 4 non-commissioned officers and 13 men killed, and 39 wounded. Col. Spencer had taken with him in the expedition 10 companies, numbering 520 men. They were attacked by Gen. Ferguson with 5 regiments and 6 pieces of artillery. Ferguson's force was not less than 2,300 in number. This was the 26th of October. The fight lasted from 2 o'clock, P.M. until 8, when Col. Spencer withdrew his force under cover of night, leaving his surgeon to take care of the wounded. The surgeon reported the loss of the rebels about 150. Doubtless the escape of the regiment was a severe blow to the confederates, with their superior force; they had calculated upon an easy capture, and lost all.
Col. Spencer has been out on expeditions at various times, penetrating as far as Black Warrior, in the heart of the State, burning and destroying leather factories, mills, and tanneries, returning safely to Corinth. The Colonel has asked leave to raise a brigade, believing that he can raise three or four regiments in a short time.