Personal memoirs of Moses Aaron Sisco

4/05/2000 NOTE: The complete diary with additional historical and genealogical notes is available in Adobe PDF format by clicking here. The file size is 3,051kb. If you have any questions or would like a bound, printed version of the diary, email Robert Matthews at for more details.
Click here for a short history of the 123rd Indiana Vol.

I was born in Decatur County, Ind. about 6 mile west of Greensburg and 2 miles east of Milford on a farm owned by Jackson Braden on May 27, 1846. The house in which I was born had been built and used for a stable, my father and brother chinking and daubing between the logs and building a stone fire place with sticks chimney.

I was rocked in a sugar trough. My boyhood was spent in Greensburg, moving there when I was about one year old. I worked in Blacksmith shops on the farm and at shoe making until I was 17 years old (1863). On the morning of Nov. 17, 1863 my mother sent me downtown for some nails to fix the pig pen and hurry back were her orders. This was Friday.

Going down the street I met Goin B. Roszeth. Stopping me, he wanted to know if I did not want to go soldiering. I said yes, but Father would not let me at that time. Irvin Robbins came up and ask me if I was going with these, giving him the same reply I had given Roszeth, he said we will go and see your father. Going in the shop, they soon prevailed on him to give his consent and I was taken to the coart house for examination which was done passing me as sound and able for a soldier. I was then taken to an old hotel down by the depot that was being used for recruiting and housing the men as they enlisted.

I was soon dressed in Uncle Sam's Blue with gun and accouterments. A warrior 17 years old 5ft 1½ in in hight weighing 112 lbs. You will see by my gigantic proportion I would like Goliath of old overcome the enemy with fear. In a few days C. K. of the 123rd Ind. Vols. was recruited and mustered in. I shall always remember that occasion. We were drawn up in line, in the coart house yard, Capt. Robbins came behind me stiking a couple of bricks under my feet that I would come up to the standerd . We were placed in camp of instruction, in the fair ground north of town, the other Co.'s joyning us as they were recruited drilling every day that we could all winter with frequent forging expeditions among the farmers as well as in town.

On Friday, March 16, 1864, we were ordered to fall into line in heavy marching order and with swinging step we marched down the main street to the depot. Very few of the boys knowing that we were going to the front and caring very little about it, we barded the train, going to Lawrenceburg.

There we were loaded on a boat bound for Louisville, Ky. I had been vaccinated a short time before and my arm was about as sore as it could be. In the morning before we arrived at Louisville, John Swails came up to me taking hold of my arm where it hurt the worst. I told him my arm was sore and the cause. He again caught my arm giving it a hard squeeze. Say was I mad well I guess jumping for the gun stacks as they stood at the side of the boat. I snached my gun out throwing the stack on the floor and started for Swails with my bayonet on my gun, Lt. Weston commanding the Co. caught me, taking my gun from me or someone might have got hurt.

Swails and I never spoke from that till after the battle of Resacca Ga., As we were marching along the road Swails picked up a bridle bit saying to me" I'll find a horse next to get to ride. On arriving at Louisville, we were marched to the south of town to a camp called 3rd Street Barracks. While in that camp, I first had my blanket stolen, but said nothing about it to anyone but my inseperable Comrade Brurnfield Turner. The following night I drew another blanket while the owner slept the sleep of the first. (maybe)

One evening Capt. Robbins asked Clancy Pulse & myself, if we thought the chickens lived very long in that country? We told him we would go out that evening & find out. About dark we went back of the quarters, where we found a ladder. That someone had placed there (we did not ask who) But ___________ of co ______ went out to post ourselves, upon the average age of chickens in that county. As suggested by our Capt. After a walk of perhaps 3 mile we stoped at a large barn for our first inspection of fowels. Upon entering the barn, we found neither hay ________ or animal of any kind. But one lowly fowel a hen, but with all our coaxing, with barn cobbs sticks & other kind efforts we could not gain her confidence. And flying from place to place, always getting higher up,we at last had to give up the idia of getting any knowledge from her of the age or condition of chickens in that locality.

Going about a mile from there we stoped at another barn. But going around the side, we wakened the dogs. And with loud barks and fierce growels they came at us. When one of the boys John Garver shot at one of them, immediately the door of the house was opened a man coming out with a gun. Not desiring to have any trouble with anyone, So we moved the barn between ourselves & that gun. Only Pulse and I peeping around the corner of the barn, saw him go behind a wagon, and heard the click of a gun lock. Pulse hollorwed don't you shoot here. The man said I'll not & bang went his gun. Pulse staggered but did not fall. Without taking my eyes from that wagon, I said "Are you hurt? Only he replied not much I quess. Just then the man started for the house, as soon as he got out in the moon light, I took a shot at him with my revolver. Can not say for shure that I hit him.

We concluded that the chicken business was to unsettled to gain much information at that time. And we started for camp and in somewhat of a hurry. After finding out that Pulse's injuries consisted in about a dozen shot in his face and the upper part of his body. None doing much damage. The worst one was in his upper lip. As soon as we got to camp his face was considerable swollen the next morning. On looking at Pulse the next morning Capt Robbins did not ask any questions as to the success of our investigations. As he could see that the expiditions had met with disaster.

In a few days after arriving at Louisville, we were joined by other new Regts and were organized into Brigades and a Division the 120th, 124th & 128th Ind composed the first Brigade. The 123rd, 129th and 130th Ind the second Brigade. Our Colonel John G. McIuilsion comanded the second brigade. The division was comanded by Gen Alvin P. Havey after the division was organized. We had a grand review, with drums beating, flags flying and strutting like peacocks. We passed befor Gen Harvy the Brig comamnder and their Staffs, full fledged soldiers, ready for battle. I thought we could clean up the Rebble army in short order. And we did do our part and that was no small part either. But not so soon as I thought

One morning as I and Brurn Turner was walking close to the Sutters shanty a pop wagon drove up and stopped. The driver going in the shanty, I thought I had better sample that stuff before they sold any of it to the boys. Steppin up I took a bottle, pulling the cork took a good pull and told Brurn it was good to try it which he did. As a matter of course others saw us and we did not drop dead. They thought it might not hurt them so they came on the run, every man getting one or more bottles. The driver came out, saw there was no use to say anything to us, "but don't break the bottles boys". We soon cleaned out the load and I don't think there was but very few broke or carried away if any at all.

We only staid at Louisville a few days when we were started for Nashville, TN on the L&N R.R. when we got as far as Bolling Green we saw the first Rebs. The troops that were stationed there had a few prisoners and some of us got to see them. I remember seeing a hog's head of tobacco in a little shanty and soon had a supply for myselfe. But left enough that a great many of the boys did not have to beg for some time.

We arrived in Nashville in the morning leaving our sleeping (hog sleepers) cars. Soon after crossing the Cumberland river at the east side of town we marched through town to Fort Wegley. Going into camp a short distance to the south and east of the fort not far from the Nashville Chattanooga RR. We were there only a few days drilling every day. While there Col. Mc. punished Sid Bagbee for stealing an onion. Sid was arrested by the safe guard and brought to camp and reported to Lt. Weston commanding Co.A. (Capt. Rubbins acting Major) but Col. Mc. said he would punish him. He made him mark time for about five minuits and then told Sid he did not punish him for stealing that d------ measly little onion but for getting caught. And said any member of the 123rd that took anything and did not get away would be punished severely after that.

On the morning of April 4-64 we received orders to prepair for a long march. At once every thing was commotion. I had drawn a pair of shoes having worn a pair of boots my Father made for me up to that time. Putting on the shoes, I gave my boots, blanket, and all extra cloathing except a shirt to a little nigger. Some of the boys said I was a fool, that I would want them things, the blanket at least. I said I would not want them bad enough to wish I had carried them and I never did.

We were soon marching down the Murfreesboro pike. About the time the boyes were getting tired, and their knapsacks that were as big as a traveling trunk was bearing down pretty hard, we had the plarsure of seeing a couple of colored Co.'s come meeting us in light marching order with two wagons behind them loaded with their knapsacks, haver sacks and other camp furniture. To say the boyes wasint mad, well they cursed the niggers, the officers, the goverment and every body and every thing they could think of.

At noon we stoped for dinner and when we fell in line again, there was a good many blankets and extra clothing left on the ground, showing that some of the boyes were lighting up their loads. From that on, the roadside and the camps were strewn with every thing the boys thought they could spare and some things they should have kept. But there was no dog tents or ponchos thrown away that I saw. The night before we got to Stone river, we went into camp on the east side of the pike in a little field close to as fine a spring as I ever saw. Water cold and clear running a stream that none of the boys could jump across. The next evening we went into camp on the battlefield of Stone river, on the south side of the stream. I remember of raking up the sand with my hands and finding it a lead mine. I believe I could have filled my pockets with bullets fired on that field. In every wheel barrow of sand around there I also saw a part of a bar of R.R. iron perhaps 6 or 8 feet long that had been shot into a tree going far enough through as to leave about the same length sticking out from each side of the tree.

We drew rations there and our mess in Co. A only had a small piece of bacon to each man. Over in the 129th Regt. there was great triles in each Co. That night Clancy Pulse and I went forageing about 11 o'clock. We sliped over to the 129th crawling between there tents to a pile of meat. I got a side of bacon, then Clancy got him one. Going back to our Co. we cut the meat up, dividing with those of the boys we cared to. The next morning an officer of the 129th was over looking for there meat. As a matter of corse, we knew nothing about it and they could not find any sides of bacon about our quarters.

We marched that morning through Murfreesboro, past several forts and through breastworks. Taking the road to Shelbyville, passing through there we went to Tullahoma, thence to Deekerd where I caught a mess of fish out of Elk river. The next day we had our first experiance in mountain climbing. But the mountains, there was only good sized hills, as we found afterward. From there we went to Stevenson, Alla, from there we followed the route used by Gen Rosencrans supply trains when he was cooped up in Chattanooga the winter of 63 & 4 where he could neither hold the place or let lose of it.

The route was from Stevenson to Bridgeport, Shell Mound and Wauhatchie. The route was strewn with carcasses of mules and broken wagons. Then to Whitesides, we camped close there. There was a cave near our camp. A lot of us boys went to see it, after going in a room or two, viewing these and scratching our names in the soft stone, Geo. Moures, proposed we go through it. Bill Ruter and some other boy I have forgaton who, and I started with him. We had 2 torches when we started fowloing a stream of water that ran in the cave. Our lights soon went out leaving us in the dark. Geo. asked us if we should go on or go back. I said go on awhile and if we could not find a way out we could follow the stream back.

Away we went, sometimes in water to our waists and sometimes out of it at the side of the stream, but on and on until we thought we had better go back, but Geo. said let us go on a little farther and started ahead. Going a short distance, we seemed to make a turn, for all at once we could see a small light ahead. It did not look like any of us could get out there, if it was an outlet, but going on the light got larger and larger and by stooping a little we came out wet as we could be. Going back to camp, we had to go past the entrance to the cave and found we had traveled about a half mile underground.

The next day we marched over into Lookout Valley, camping at the foot of Lookout Mountain. The next morning while getting my breakfast, a soldier came up to me and said, "What are you doing here?" I looked at him and saw it was Steve Ballard, a young man I had known several years before at Greensburg. He belonged to the 70th Ind. I was glad to see him of corse and answering him, I said I was soldiering. He said you aught to be in school, why he said this whole division are nothing but babies and should be in school or the cradle. He did not see what Gen. Hovey wanted with babies. From that some of the old troops thought to belittle us by calling us Hovey's babies, but we rather felt proud of the name. And I will say here that after the battle of Resacca these same old troops were proud of Hovey's babies and did not object to having these handy when there was trouble.

This is only the first 20 pages of the diary...the entire diary is about 350 pages.