Belmont (OH) Chronicle
September 5, 1861
An Ohio Man’s Experience in the Rebel Army
The Washington Star gives an interesting account of a man named Augustine Johnson, now in that city, whither he has escaped from the Secession army. He is a native of Steubenville, Ohio, where he had, or had a few months ago a mother and four children living. Early last spring he went to New Orleans on a flatboat and was impressed with several companions in that city on the 25th of April. To distinguish Northern from Southern “volunteers,” their heads were shaved. John was assigned a place in Wheat’s First New Orleans Battalion, which, after much suffering for want of proper food and clothing, found itself at Manassas. On account of his Northern birth, Johnson was permitted to endure greater hardships than the southern soldiers. At the battle of Bull Run Wheat’s battalion was stationed at the extreme rebel left – our right. Near it was a South Carolina regiment under cover of some pines, separated by an open space from the National infantry, also under cover. As Major Wheat advanced his men into this open space they were fired upon by the South Carolinians, which caused the battalion to waver and made them easier victims to a very destructive fire that was immediately after poured in upon them by the National troops.
Near Mr. Johnson were two other Northern men. One of them, David Vance of Philadelphia, was instantly killed. The other, a comrade and warm friend of Johnston’s, an Illinoisan, named Jas. H. Hutchinson, was shot under the eye. He was in such agony that Johnson carried him from the field a long way to the hospital, occasionally resting with the wounded man’s head on his lap.
After taking his friend to the hospital, he thought the time had come to try an escape, as in the confusion there were no pickets out. He took his gun and started westward, up a ravine. After getting a considerable distance from the battle field, he threw away his gun and cartridge box.
The uniform of the battalion was cotton pants of the mixed color known as pepper and salt and red shirt. Under this red shirt Johnson had a checkered cotton shirt. He now changed these, by putting the checkered shirt outside and the red one under, expecting instant death if he was arrested as a deserter. He heard the firing all day on Sunday and traveled away from it in a Northwest direction.
At night he took two shocks of wheat and made a bed, on which he slept soundly and was awakened by the rain on Monday morning. He shortly afterward reached a Quaker settlement in Loudon county, where he found a heaven of rest, being kindly taken care of for some weeks. Being anxious to reach his home, he left Loudon on Friday last and came by way of Harper’s Ferry to Washington, where he is waiting for a pass to enable him to go over the roads without interruption, he having no funds to defray his expenses by railroad. Mr. Johnson says he did not receive one cent of pay whilst in the Confederate service. He says that Loudon county is devastated, as if it had been overrun by locusts.
See here for notes.