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CHAPTER XI.

A portion of the 16th Army Corps sent to North-eastern Alabama

- Col. Moore's Brigade garrison Tuskegee, Opelika, and Union Springs The Ninety-fifth occupy Opelika — Feelings of the Citizens Stringent Whisky Orders enforced by Col. Blanden Management of the Negro Question — Paroled Rebel Soldiers — The Fourth of July, and how the Soldiers Celebrated it at Opelika — Officers and Men anxious to be Mustered Out — The Regiment relieved, and returns to Montgomery to be sent homeProceeds to Vicksburg via Selma, Meridian, and Jackson – Arrival at Vicksburg Takes Steamer up the River to St. Louis - Goes thence to Springfield, Ill., for final Payment and Discharge

Mustered out of the Service at " Camp Butler's - Return home to McHenry and Boone Counties — The Receptions there given the various Companies — Conclusion.

THE Ninety-fifth remained in camp at Montgomery, Alabama, until the 23rd of May, when Colonel Moore's brigade was ordered into the north-eastern part of the State for garrison duty, to preserve order in society, and to collect the property of the Confederacy remaining in that section. The 33rd Wisconsin and 44th Missouri regiments were stationed at Tuskegee, the county

seat of Macon county, where Colonel Moore established his head-quarters; the 72nd Illinois at Union Springs, and the Ninety-fifth was assigned to occupy Opelika, a town on the railroad, sixty miles from Montgomery. The regiment arrived at Opelika on the 26th day of May, having had a hot and dusty march from Montgomery.

The inhabitants of the place did not express many manifestations of joy at the location of Union troops in their midst, for now that the war was over, and the rebel armies disbanded, they could see no necessity for the continued military occupation of the country.

As the regiment marched through the village to its place of encampment, the houses were all kept closed; the fair occupants, incensed at our arrival, did not show themselves, and excepting a few Confederate paroled soldiers and citizens sitting around various rum-shops and places where business was formerly transacted, the town appeared deserted and lifeless. Opelika was a point where many of the paroled rebel soldiers, on their return homeward, had been in the habit of stopping, and using freely during their stay the commissary stores and other property which had been here collected by agents of the pretended Government for which they had so long and so unsuccessfully been fighting. These released prisoners considered that, in the general bankruptcy which had befallen their cause, they were entitled to a share of the plunder, especially as against their own citizens, many of whom were appropriating it to their individual use. The whisky trade was also carried on here quite lively, and was another cause for detaining crowds of soldiers as they came through from the East. There were several stills in this vicinity, where the beverage was produced in large quantities, being manufactured from corn, and, in character and effect, strikingly resembled the article which is known to endanger the life of an individual at the distance of forty rods. Colonel Blanden, on assuming command of the Post, deeming that the whisky traffic, if continued, would give him much trouble in the government of his own command, and in controlling the numerous Confederate soldiers who were continually passing along that route, issued an order closing up all saloons and prohibiting the sale of intoxicating liquor to his men by any one.

The order was efficacious in closing the doors of the whisky-dealers. Good order soon prevailed, and little drunkenness was noticed thereafter in the streets. The Colonel was unable, however, to keep liquor from those of his own men who were in the habit of using it, and the stringent restrictions which he enforced, did not produce all the good effects intended, in the regiment. There were

such a number of whisky-stills in the neighborhood, that liquor could be easily obtained from them, and was frequently brought into camp unbeknown to the commanding officer. It has been often remarked, by officers and men, that during the whole service never was so much inebriety known in the Ninety-fifth as while under the prohibitory regulations introduced at Opelika. If the Colonel could have struck at the source of the evil, and burned down or closed up effectually those places where the whisky was manufactured, then his policy would have proven more successful, and his drinking men been more temperate. But be came here with strict orders to respect all private property, and was therefore unauthorized to interfere with the rights of those who owned, and were running, the stills. His strong temperance principles would have impelled him, had he possessed the authority, to demolish those institutions, and abate them as public nuisances.

Şoon after the arrival of the troops at Opelika, the negro question became the principal subject of consideration, and gave the military commander much trouble and annoyance. Up to this time the negroes in this section had continued to be held and considered as slaves by their former masters, who were loth to admit that the war had done away with their former relations

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and their cherished institution. The policy, however, of treating them as freedmen, which had been carried out in the Southern States by the Federal armies since President Lincoln's proclamation in 1863, was at once announced here to the people, and notice given them that, if they wished to retain their colored laborers, they must agree with them for their services and grant them just compensation for their labor. Large numbers of the colored people flocked in daily, anxious to learn what rights they had under the altered condition of affairs, and complaining, in many instances, of maltreatment on the part of their former masters. They were told that they were perfectly free, but were advised universally to seek employment immediately, either on the plantations where they had been living, or elsewhere.

The planters also appeared frequently at head-quarters with their complaints, representing their many inconveniences and sufferings consequent upon the release from bondage of the negro population. They were informed plainly, that the relation of master and slave no longer existed in Alabama, and that while the negroes would not be allowed to roam about the country unemployed, they would still be protected in all their privileges as freedmen.

The planters finally accepted the new policy with

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