Family Ties and Friendships

From Stories, Anecdotes and Humor from the Civil War

Once in a great while, family ties and friendships outweighed the hostility and carnage of the war. Such was a reported incident in Tennessee:

In the rebel charge upon McCook's right in the battle of Stone River, the rebel Third Kentucky was advancing full upon one of the loyal Kentucky regiments. These two regiments were brought from the same county, and con­sequently were old friends and neighbors, and now were about to meet for the first time as enemies. As soon as they came near enough for recognition, they mutually ceased firing, and began abusing, and cursing, and swearing at each other, calling each other the most outlandish names; and all this time the battle was roaring around them without much attention from either side. It was hard to tell which regiment would come off the victor in this wordy battle.

As far as I could see, both sides were terrible at swearing; but this could not always last; by mutual consent they finally ceased cursing, and grasping their muskets charged into each other with the most unearthly yell ever heard on any field of battle. Muskets were clubbed, bayonet met bayonet, and in many instances, when old feuds made the belligerents crazy with passion, the musket was thrown away, and at it they went, pummelling, pulling, and gouging in rough and tumble style, and in a manner that any looker-on would consider a free fight. The rebels were getting rather the better of the fight, when the Twenty-third Kentucky succeeded in giving a flanking fire, when they retreated with quite a number of prisoners in their possession.

The rebels had got fairly under way, when the Ninth Ohio came up on the double-quick, and charging on their now disordered ranks, succeeded in capturing all their prisoners, besides taking in return a great many of the rebels. As the late belligerents were conducted to the rear they appeared to have forgotten their late animosity, and were now on the best of terms imaginable, laughing, and chatting, and joking, and, as the rebels were well supplied with whiskey, the canteens were readily handed about from one to the other until they all became as jolly as possible under the circumstances.