as exhibited in his diaries and letters, military record and obituary, and other family documents
and noted and annotated by William Edward Henry

Intelligent and Scholarly

Note 24 - 2/12/62
“Walking around to see Father and the family, and got to school to the schoolhouse.”. As soon as he can be up and about, Tabler visits first his rather patriarchal father, then the rest of the family, and then the schoolhouse. This may be significant – Luther L. Parks, who recruited Tabler, was a teacher from the Morris area. It is possible that he was a teacher at Tabler’s school. Tabler may have been a scholarly type of man.
Note 37 - 6/6/62
Tabler hears, or reads that Memphis has surrendered. He subscribes to three newspapers that we know of so far: 8/30/63 - a Cincinnatti Paper, in his letter of 11/12/63 - the New York Independent, and 11/14/63 the Nashville Weekly Press.
Note 70 - 2/7/63
“This Saturday nothing but the old routine of Camp is going on. This day there are 8 men of us in one mess. We have a debate this evening, which is a pleasant pastime, as well as an intellectual improvement. Weather clear.”. This remark gives us a clear glimpse into Tabler’s private sentiments.
Note 74 - 2/15/63
Tabler takes a stroll off through the woods with Edward Burns and Frederic Thompson. I wish he had said a little more about the nature of this stroll. Burns was 32 when he enlisted, eleven years Tabler’s senior, and an engineer. Tabler calls him “my old pard” at 2/17 and 4/29. Burns and Thompson, each 5'-8", are two inches taller than Tabler. Thompson was a student, when he enlisted, and is three years older than Tabler. So, Tabler is definitely the junior member of this group, and it looks like he habitually seeks out the better sort of companionship.
Note 76 - 2/22/63
“The day passed off quiet, the weather clear and cold. Stood around the fire most all day, talking over matters and things, remembering this day as the anniversary of the birth of Washington. Had a warm discussion or two, and then lay down for the night.”
Note 78 - 2/27/63
“Returned to Camp, all was quiet on the line during the night. This may not be very interesting to my readers, but I am assured it will be to me. The weather cloudy, and has the appearance of rain.”. Some people keep diaries, knowing that they do not intend for anyone to ever read them. Being intended to be strictly private, the writer of such a diary may possibly be more candid. But Tabler thinks that someone may someday read what he writes, and this affects the degree of his frankness. We must read between the lines, and take note of what he does NOT say.
Note 96 - 4/7/63
“Well if I write nothing but Battalion drill, I will be telling the truth. We have Battalion drill whenever we are not doing anything else. Battalion drill this day. I have so much to say about Battalion drill, you may wish to know just what it is.” 4/8/63 - “Battalion drill again. Battalion is when the Regiment is all drilling together, going through those movements that are most essential in battle. Today, while we were out drilling, Co. K graded up their street.”. Tabler is conscious, once again, of a potential reader. Tabler himself is a READER, and as is so often the case, a reader may contemplate being a WRITER.
Note 103 - 4/19/63
“This Sunday went to meeting and heard a well preached sermon by the Col. of the 73rd Regt. Ill.  This is a smart man, and just the man for to command a regiment. Had inspection also. Weather warm and pleasant.” Tabler obviously considers himself capable of judging a sermon, a competent commander, and a smart man. Tabler probably refers to Col. James F. Jaquess, Il 73rd Infantry. He originally enlisted as a chaplain, served in the Il 6th Cavalry until 8/21/62, and with the 73rd until 6/12/65.
Note 111 - 5/1/63
“Last night, while on picket post, I heard a few shots fired out on the pike, then the fierce barking of dogs and hurried scampering of horses, but the result I am loath to make known. Returned to Camp and found everything in its place.” Is this an instance where the aspiring author overreaches his vocabulary? There doesn’t seem to be any indication that he knows the result, but is reluctant to make it known.
Note 122 - 5/21/63
“Well I don’t know who I will write for today, but anyhow we had to drill three times: skirmish drill, Company drill and Brigade drill Then there is some talk of marching orders. Weather clear and healthy. I am able for duty again.” The question as to who he will write for, is an important one. His answer to that question has shaped the content of his writing.
Note 158 - 7/9/63
“Called off the picket line this morning, to get ready to march again, and it was a march too, such as you don’t read of, up on top of the Cumberland Mountains, to a place called The University of the South, for here the cornerstone was already laid.” It is possible that Tabler knew that the man who helped lay the cornerstone, Bishop Leonidas Polk, was also the General Polk who fought him and his comrades at Stone’s River.  Few men would have described that double-teamed, mule-killing haul up Cumberland Mountain – as something you don’t READ of. This is the talk of a READER, and an aspiring writer!
Note 159 - 7/10/63
“Pulled up my stakes and started again southward toward Bridgeport. Went about 7 miles and halted for this day. Companies K & H got lost on the R.R., but came out alright in the end. Here is where Murrell killed Wood, and threw him over the precipice.” The railroad was the Nashville & Chattanooga, the same one on which Sheridan’s hand-car got lost. (Page 144-145, Memoirs) The reference to Murrell, shows that Tabler was aware, at that early date, of John A. Murrell, the Great Western Land Pirate, who later occupied a considerable part of Mark Twain’s Life On the Mississippi.
Note 165 - 7/20/63
“Here’s your mule. So we marched back to University, and threw off our things for another part of a day’s rest. We met no resistance last night. All was quiet along our front. The weather continues fine. Health good.” Tabler uses two expressions common at that time – “Here’s your mule” and “All right on the goose.”
Note 170 - 7/25/63
“Came off picket this beautiful morning. All was quiet on the line during the night. Deserters keep coming. War news favorable. Weather cool and pleasant. I don’t know any further thing worthy of note. Spending my time reading.” His sense of beauty is not dulled by short rations. It’s easy to forget that Rosecrans’ Army of the Cumberland is still pursuing the enemy. Tabler was certainly not the only soldier to spend considerable time reading, but it does seem that one of Tabler’s outstanding characteristics is that he is a READER.
Note 187 - 8/17/63           
“The sun rose brilliant this morning, and all is well in Camp.  Commenced writing up this book this day, the 17th, 1863. Hope I may not be laboring in vain. I consider in future it may be of some interest to me.” Apparently, Tabler wrote this diary while at Bridgeport, probably referring to notes made earlier.
Note 191 - 8/27/63
“The left five Companies of our Regiment on picket. Nothing going on unordinary or uncommon. There was 25 deserters came in from the coal mines on the other side the river. Also the Superintendent of the diggings, who is a very intelligent man.” How would Tabler know the Superintendent was a very intelligent man? Did he hear him talk? Perhaps he talked with him? I recall the saying, “It takes one to know one.”
Note 193 - 8/29/63
“The 22nd Regiment went chopping timber to fix the bridge. Two regiments of cavalry forded the river, one above and one below this place. All is quiet in and about Bridgeport. I am taking it easy, spending my time in reading. Weather cool.” By now, it’s not surprising that, in the midst of all the activity, Tabler is READING!
Note 194 - 8/30/63
“Last night there were 4 pontoons came up from Stevenson. Was on picket this day. All quiet along the line. Sat on a large rotten log and ate my dinner. Weather clear. Gave 15 cents for the Cinncinatti Paper for one week.” It’s interesting how a detail can evoke a whole scene – here it is a large rotten log, and I remember a barren peach tree, a brick house and a walnut tree. He has now mentioned the purchase of three newspapers: the New York Independence, a Nashville Paper and the Cincinnati Paper. (It might be possible to get copies of these papers, and see what Tabler was reading at the time.)
Note 202 - 9/29/63
“Was detailed to work digging new breastworks in front. Worked all day on half rations, at the rate of 13 dollars a month. Some picket firing, our pickets obliged to keep themselves secreted, and double-quick while relieving, for safety.”  Tabler’s idealism has, temporarily at least, evaporated. No reference here of “The Cause”. Also, pickets do not here merely hide themselves, they “... keep themselves secreted ...”. This somewhat stilted language underlines the fact that Tabler is a READER who aspires to higher intellectual attainment.
Note 203 - 9/30/63
“This is a lucky day for me – though many were detailed to work, I was given a day of rest, it not being my turn. Spent my time in reading, writing, resting – and C.  All was quiet last night and this day. My health is good.” Lucky day indeed! The READER gets to read and write! I can’t interpret the “C” abbreviation.
Note 210 - 10/16/63
“The rain subsided. We to work on the Fort one half day. Had inspection in the afternoon. The Rebel sharpshooters to work again, but results not known. Our pickets well prepared for the fray, and keep off the Rebel tyrants.” Sometimes Tabler’s choice of words seems almost precociously juvenile. A READER often sounds like a talking dictionary, and is sometimes accused of “showing off”.
Note 217 - 10/26/63
“This day I was among the detail that went on picket. Did not go directly on post, but was on reserve. The Editor’s residence of the notorious sheet The Chattanooga Rebel – torn down. And one man got his leg broke.” The use of the word “sheet” indicates scorn, not so strong as “rag”, but spoken by one who wants to imagine himself as a fellow journalist. Once again, I am impressed with Tabler’s accuracy. For some time I wasn’t sure whether it was the Editor’s or the Publisher’s house. But Cozzens, in This Terrible Sound, page 36, relates an incident which probably indicates it was the Editor’s house. Right before the Confederates abandoned Chattanooga, Union artillery was shelling the town, and Cozzens writes, “An intrepid few remained to hear the minister out – ‘the longest prayer I ever heard,’ remembered Henry Waterson, editor of the Chattanooga Rebel.”

Loyal,   Idealistic,   Patriotic,   Dutiful

Note 6 - 11/12/63           
In his letter to his brother, on this date, Tabler wrote, “We have been very short of provisions since we came here, more so than any place we have been yet.  Now, since General Hooker and others have been to our assistance, we are getting along some better.”.  There is evidence that Tabler felt a special loyalty to Rosecrans, and this may explain why he includes Grant and Sherman in the phrase “... and others ...”. He does not mention Grant at this place, and never mentions Sherman throughout his letters and diaries, and I believe this omission is not accidental, since Grant assumed command from Rosecrans a month before this letter was written.
Note 10 - 11/12/63           
In the same letter, noted above, Tabler writes, “Mr. Parks was over to see me. He is well and enjoying good health. Mr. P. has acted the perfect gentleman with me all along; the neighborhood may say what it pleases.” We cannot know the basis for the neighborhood’s criticism of Mr. Parks, but it is highly suggestive that Benjamin T. Smith reported on 11/27/63 that Sgt. Parks was promoted to Lieutenant that day, and assigned to a Company of the 13th U.S. Colored Troops. It was not uncommon for white soldiers and civilians to heap scorn on white officers who accepted such assignments. (Incidentally, Luther Parks and many of his men were slaughtered in their gallant charge up Peach Orchard Hill, in the battle of Nashville, 12/16/64.)
Note 15 - 1/6/62           
“Drilling this day again, which is the duty of a soldier.” Hardly any soldier liked drilling, at first, although some liked drilling well later on. But Tabler specifies that it is the duty of a soldier to drill, and I think that it is not accidental that he emphasizes this aspect here. Tabler is outstandingly dutiful.
Note 20 - 1/31/62           
“Nothing much today. This is one month spent in soldiering & I am still alive & well. I find it requires much to be a good soldier, but by the Grace of God assisting, I’m determined to do all I can towards the Cause. The Cause is first, I’m sure, and we are confident of victory & the reorganizing of the Government on a better basis than ever was before.”.  For Tabler, the end of the month is, more than once, an occasion for reflection and summing-up. He is serving The Cause – preserving the Union, and reorganizing it on an even better basis. He is idealistic, and perhaps even philosophic.           
Note 31 - 3/15/62           
“New Madrid evacuated at 11 P.M., the Stars & Stripes were floating over it.”  Flags were very important to soldiers. At the start of the Civil War, Old Glory contained 34 stars, including those representing the seceding states.
Note 34 - 4/11/62           
“All quiet in Camp today. I feel able to do my duty.”  This recalls an earlier remark, “Drill is a soldier’s duty.”, and a later remark in a letter, dated 11/12/63, “I was in the great battle both days, done my duty nearest I knew how ...”  Tabler’s highest ambition, as a soldier, seems to be simply to do his duty.
Note 75 - 2/21/63           
“Everything is passing off quietly at this place. It commenced raining again, and I was detailed for outpost duty at the old bridge at Stone River, and got all wet – but only to dry off again. All for my beloved Country.” It’s easy to forget that many soldiers, on both sides, did indeed love their Country.
Note 76 - 2/22/63           
“The day passed off quiet, the weather clear & cold. Stood around the fire most all day, talking over matters & things, remembering this day as the anniversary of the birth of Washington. Had a warm discussion or two, and then lay down for the night.”. How many people, in this 21st century, still give serious thought to Washington’s birthday ?
Note 112 - 5/2/63           
“This day we must get ready for inspection, Brigade Inspection, with knapsacks on, well – in short, all harnessed up, ready for show. Co. K was the most respectable looking Company in the Regiment.. Weather cloudy.” Tabler doesn’t tell us whether this was an official opinion. Even if it was subjective, it indicates a degree of pride in his unit.
Note 140 - 6/19/63           
“This morning finds me on picket post, pacing back and forth, watching for the stealthy enemy. Had a mess of Dewberries, a berry not known to me before I came into the service of the United States. Rained again, in the afternoon. All quiet on the line.”  His remark, that he is in the service of the United States, contrasts with the attitude of some soldiers – that they were really serving their home State.
Note 153 - 7/4/63           
“Here I celebrated the Fourth of July on picket duty. Hoatlings Battery & the Eleventh Indiana Battery fired the National Salute, notwithstanding it rained most of the day. The Rebel Deserters keep coming in & surrendering up all.”  Tabler notes the 4th of July on both occasions covered by his diaries.
Note 202 - 9/29/63           
“Was detailed to work, digging new breastworks in front. Worked all day on half rations, at the rate of 13 dollars a month.  Some picket firing. Our pickets obliged to keep themselves secreted, and double - quick while relieving, for safety.”  It would be the rare soldier whose idealism would not temporarily evaporate once in awhile.

Aloof, Careful, Wary of Rumors

Note 2 - 11/7/64           
In his letter to a cousin, Tabler writes, “At the time that I received your letter, I was at Chattanooga, with orders to march in the morning. Since that time, I with the whole Army Corps, have marched 150 miles, and rode on Government cars about 90 miles, and are now at this place, Pulaski, Tennessee, and fortifying against an attack, as they say Hood is coming with 30,000 men to take the place.”. Tabler chooses to repeat a rumor of 30,000 enemy, while Benjamin T. Smith chooses to quote a figure of 65,000 in Private Smith’s Journal, page 183.
Note 11 - 11/12/63           
In his letter to his brother, Nathaniel, Tabler writes, “I might possibly write some more, but there are no lines here, and it bothers me.”.The fairly long letter is written on unlined paper. This is a tiny little hint, of course, but when taken with all the other indications in Tabler’s writings, we can see that this hint is emblematic of a sort of careful reserve.
Note 14 - 1/1/62           
“Commenced being a soldier in the barracks at Chicago. All is quiet now, the first day of January.”. Tabler has apparently purchased a diary at or very near the beginning of his enlistment. Contrast this with Melville Cox Follett, who did not begin his record until five months after his enlistment, and in a diary left behind by his buddy, Tom Sandle.
Note 16 - 1/7/62           
“This is the 7th & I’ve a bad cold. All is quiet in Camp.”  Then, on 1/11, “I still have a cold, sleeping on these boards. Drilling again.”. Smith, page 12, says the soldiers of the 51st Illinois slept in two-story bunks, each bed designed double for two men. He mentions, page 11, that each man was issued a blanket, and that MOST men paired off in couples, placing one blanket underneath and one on top. Tabler doesn’t mention any such arrangement, and one might wonder why.
Note 17 - 1/13/62           
“Stayed in barracks all day. The Boys dancin’ & raising the Old Scratch. Roll call at 9 o’clock. Had a General Review. Colonel Tucker rode around on his fancy horse. All the soldiers in Camp was out, I with the rest.”. Tabler sounds somewhat aloof here – it is the BOYS who are carousing – but what about himself ? And why does he find it necessary to state that he joined in a General Review which included all the soldiers in the Camp ?
Note 18 - 1/15/62           
“Escorted the Leadmine Regiment down to town. I did not go. All the soldiers went but those that was sick.”. Then, 1/19/62, “This morning the boys went to the lake shore & fired their guns at a target. I did not go. Had a General Review in the afternoon.”. Then, 1/25/62, “Had a fight & much noise, in which I took no part.”. I may be putting too fine of a point on the matter, but Tabler’s locutions seem a little strange – he could have simply said that he didn’t escort the Leadmine Regiment because he was sick. And is he deliberately vague as to whether he attended the General Review after not going to the target shoot ? He’s feeling sick, yes, but his assertion that he “... took no part in the fight ...” sounds as though he perhaps did not even gather around.
Note 33 - 4/7/62           
“Ordered up at 4 A.M., with two days & a half rations. Marched to the river at 12 A.M. Crossed the river, marched 5 miles in pursuit.”. Then, 4/8, “Rebels surrendered. Was on guard. Spent a most miserable night here. Helped guard 1,000 prisoners. Was in a cold rain all night.”. And, 4/9, “Brought them to New Madrid & returned to Camp.”. Tabler does not see this scene as a glorious victory. It’s a miserable spectacle – half the prisoners sick. There is a direct contradiction here to Smith’s statement that it was a “... clear frosty night ...”, page 32, but when it comes to accuracy, Tabler is more reliable.
Note 163 - 7/15/1863           
“On picket this day on the railroad. Had a mess of berries. Last night some long-fingered pilfering thief, or thieves, tore down or knocked down the cornerstone of the University of the South, and took out the contents. Whatever was in it is done gone up.”. Tabler condemns this vandalism, and Sheridan offers a sword for the man who upset the stone.
Note 201 - 9/28/63           
“Last night we were aroused by musket firing at a brisk rate for fully half an hour, when it died away, resulting nothing. We moved into Camp this afternoon, and was very busy fixing up our little tents for the first time for a month.”. Tabler writes of “... my little tent...” at 10/14, and “...our small tents ...” at 10/22. These expressions seem to indicate an attitude of DETACHMENT, a sort of FOND CONDESCENSION.
Note 211 - 10/18/63           
“Our Brigade went on picket, our Regiment first on the line. The Rebs very bold, and came up to the river bank on which were our pickets, and in the night time we threw sticks & stones at each other.”. It would be interesting to know if Tabler personally engaged in the horse-play. I think he was usually an OBSERVER, but even a normally aloof man may sometimes descend to frivolity.
Note 220 - 11/1/63           
“After fixing one bunk, I went over to Sheridan’s headquarters to hear a Mr. Murdock read and talk to the boys, then appeared on General Muster, and in the evening went to hear a sermon preached by a Catholic minister.”. “ and talk to the boys ...” is an odd locution – as though Tabler felt that Murdock was not reading and talking to him ! James E. Murdock, the famous actor, was highly praised by Sheridan, page 163 of his Memoirs. Later, Murdock made his poem “Sheridan’s Ride” a national hit.      

Sense of Humor

Note 45 - 8/9/62           
“Bridge burned again” and 8/10 “Bridge repaired again” – could be a sense of the futility of his present assignment, or perhaps a touch of wry humor. “The weather is mild. Fort Rosey is quiet. My health is good. On guard. Bridges burned again.”  8/10 - “The Lord’s Day and all is alive and well. Bridges repaired again.”.
Note 91 - 4/1/63           
“April Fool, hee hee.”  He didn’t note April’s Fool last year, probably because he was in poor health then, and untested in battle. Now he’s feeling pretty good. But he also does not observe Fool’s Day in 1864. “Called out for Battalion drill this morning, Capt. McWilliams commanding. We had a good drill and this is April Fool’s Day. Who would have thunk it. April Fool, hee hee, April Fool.”.
Note 94 - 4/5/63           
“... usual routine: inspection of person ... whomsoever, nevertheless, notwithstanding ...” Tabler has a gentle sense of humor, it doesn’t seem as vigorous or raucous as Benjamin T. Smith’s, for example. “This day, the Sabbath, nothing going on but the usual routine of Camp performance, this is : inspection of person, arms and accouterments and whomsoever, nevertheless, notwithstanding.”.
Note 102- 4/18/63           
“All quiet on Stone River. Had hardtack and sowbelly for breakfast, and Battalion drill for dinner, and Dress parade for supper. Suitable for a soldier, or any other man who can’t help it. Weather clear.”.
Note 108 - 4/28/63           
“Last night it rained very heavy, pelting down upon our little tent as if to sever it into pieces, but it withstood the battle nobly, and came off conqueror in the end, keeping the two lonesome, weary subalterns free from the pelting rain.”. Tabler sounds almost cute here. Not only is the word “subaltern” considerably above the average soldier’s vocabulary, but it is even questionably elevated for Pvt. Tabler’s rank.
Note 138- 6/16/63           
“This morning we appeared in inspection, and Company K had the best looking arms and equipments in the Regiment. A report of General Lee moving north into the State of Pennsylvania. Nothing of importance to note down today. Weather moderately mild and healthful.”.  6/17 - “Some firing on the outpost, but to no avail. Nothing to tell you of today. No news from Vicksburg, but the siege going on favorably. Lee’s Army reported invading Pennsylvania. It rained on Edward L. Tabler, Co. K, 51st Ill. Vol., but it didn’t hurt him, as he has got used to it.”. These entries give us some gauge of Tabler’s boredom, during this period of Rosecrans’ preparations for the Tullahoma Campaign. Also his resigned sense of humor.
Note 140 - 6/19/63           
“This morning finds me on picket-post, pacing back and forth , watching for the stealthy enemy. Had a mess of Dewberries, a berry not known to me before I came into the service of The United States. Rained again in the afternoon. All quiet on the line.”. His remark that he is in the service of the United States is. of course, literally true, but may reflect an attitude in contrast with that of some soldiers who felt they were serving their home state.
Note 182 - 8/7/63           
“The left of our Regiment went on picket. All is quiet on the picket line. Major General Rosecrans came up here to see us for the first time on his little Dummie, returned again in the evening to Stevenson. The weather mild and pleasant.”. While the dummy was indeed a diminutive steam engine, made to resemble a streetcar, I still think this remark shows an amused sense of detachment.
Note 195 - 8/31/63           
“Last night 28 pontoons came through, and are being launched in the river this morning. Men very busy putting up the bridge. A report afloat that Chattanooga is evacuated. Last night, while on picket post, I engaged a possum, and came out victorious.”. Chattanooga was not actually evacuated until 9/7 - 9/9, but this shows even Rosecrans’ miscalculation. His possum story shows a self-deprecating sense of humor.

Conclusion: Tabler was certainly no wit, nor was he a comedian. But he had a quiet, self-deprecating and detached sense of humor.

Sense of Beauty

 Note 51-10/6/62 
“This day the 6th of Oct. all is quiet. on picket, and a beautiful night.”. Some men seem insensitive to beauty, but Tabler appreciates the clear starry sky. When there is no light nearby, the planets and stars can seem unbelievably bright and close.
Note 86 - 3/20/63
“The sun rose clear this morning in this camp. We are right on the bank of the river, that is, our Regiment & the 42nd. This is a pretty place for a camp, and much care is being taken to fit it up nicely. All quiet during the day.”.
Note 90 - 3/26/63
“Went out to Salem again this day, to take our turn of picket duty for five days -- our Brigade, this is. We pitched our tents in a beautiful grove. The two Regiments, 22nd & 27th went out first on the line.”
Note 93 - 4/4/63 
“The utmost tranquillity reigns throughout this whole camp this day. The trees are beginning to put forth their green leaves, and everything in Nature smiles. On picket line again. All quiet along the line.”.
Note 95 - 4/6/63
“Drill again. Here is a beautiful place for drilling & our Generals are determined that we shall not be wanting in the drilling line of military discipline. It is good exercise for the boys, makes us eat hearty.”  He says “... for drilling ...”, but it sounds like he was feeling, not so much a sense of utility, but of beauty.
Note 109 - 4/29/63           
“Our camp field of little tents look beautiful. I and my old Pard, Edward Burns, are enjoying ourselves with all the boys. Here, I almost forgot, we had Battalion drill. Weather cloudy, and symptoms of rain.”.  Tabler may be a practical man, but many of his observations are focused on the aesthetic.
Note 114 - 5/6/63
“This morning cool with occasional showers. Enclosed our camp with Cedars, making things look green. Last night was one of the Cavalry vedettes killed by the Enemy, while on watch on the Shelbyville Pike. Weather cold & rainy.”.
Note 166 -7/21/63
“All quiet on the mountains at University. Got some soap for to wash my shirt for the first time since I left Camp Shaeffer at Murfreesboro. There are beautiful springs here, called Beersheba Springs. Last night it rained slightly.”Those springs were beautiful!
Note 170 - 7/25/63
“Came off picket this beautiful morning, all was quiet on the line during the night. Deserters keep coming. War news favorable. Weather cool and pleasant. I don’t know any further of anything worthy of note. Spending my time in reading.” His sense of beauty is not stifled by short rations.    

Racial Tolerance

Note 10 - 9/5/62
“Burning fuel. Niggers coming in. Crossed over the river at 9 P.M. & commenced our march up the river. Burned the ferry boat.”.  11/8/63 “The big guns on Point Lookout replying at long intervals, but no casualties, but a Negro killed. Other than this, all was quiet at Chattanooga. Tended divine service, and a meeting of the Black Man, the other, the soldiers.”. In his letter of 11/12/63  “There is being a great work here, in the Church, nearly every night that I can be there I witness no less than twelve or fifteen Souls asking for prayers. There is preaching every night. Shoulderstraps and all are engaged in the work, Catholic as well as Protestant, Negroe & White Man.”.  I think I see, in Tabler’s writings, a progressive growth in his racial tolerance. In his letter of 3/15/63 he writes, “It appears you boys differ some on the Nigger question. If you thought as little of them as I do, you would not think it worth your while saying anything about them... I trow you would be for the Union, and let politics alone. You would have let the Nigger question alone (knowing it would breed a disturbance) until the Union is restored. (As the Rev. Mr. Brownlow says, let it – slavery – alone, and it will stink itself away.) And then banish the Black Race from our soil, or colonize him & learn him something. Now boys, as far as having the Negroe free & to live with him, I am further from being an Abolition than I ever was before. These are the word of Rob Bradshaw, and it don’t fall much short of my own, the Emancipation Proclamation is good in its place, but now is no time for it. The Union, then the Proclamation & Nigger question.”. And in his entry of 9/5/62, before he’s had any experience with Negro troops, and speaking only about Negro camp-followers, he still speaks of “Niggers”. But then, in his entry of 11/8/63, while he says the only casualty from enemy artillery that day was a “Negro”, he goes on to say he attended a meeting of the “Black Man, the other, the soldiers.”.  This entry seems to be almost a stammering statement in writing!  Then in his letter of 11/12/63, he writes about a religious revival including “Negro & White Man”. Finally, while we cannot know for certain that Luther Parks was being criticized because he favored commanding Negro troops, it is probable – and Tabler was defending Parks. Lieutenant Luther L. Parks, and many of his men, were slaughtered in a gallant charge on Peach Orchard Hill, in the battle of Nashville 12/16/64.

Physically Tough

Note 30 - 3/1/62
The cold bothers him, but through the rain and the cold he still gathers strength, even though he reports diarrhea on 2/26, 3/12, 3/17 & 3/21. “Spring opens with high winds. The cold drives right through me.”
Note 38 - 6/5/62
“My health is good.” This sounds like the most positive statement so far, concerning his health. “Went on picket one mile east of Boonville. My health is good.”
Note 41 - 6/18/62
Tabler apparently has diarrhea from 6/18 to 6/23, but is much comforted by church meeting.  “All quiet, a nice cool day. Brigade drill at 5 PM. Diarrhea bothers me some. Cool nights.”  6/19 - “Nothing of importance going on. Battalion drill in the evening. Diarrhea bothers me some. Cool nights.”  6/20 - “Picket the day. All quiet. Troubled with the diarrhea.” 6/21 - “All quiet in Camp. Still camped near Corinth in the State of Mississippi.”  6/22 - “Somewhat unwell today. Attended Church today and was much comforted thereby. Nothing much going on.”  6/23 - “All quiet before Corinth. I feel better today. Excused from guard. Diarrhea ceased.”
Note 63 - 1/9/63
“I have been blessed with health and strength all along ...”  What can he mean ? Most readers would question this statement, having read the first diary. “All quiet in Camp. Murfreesboro all quiet. Indications of rain, and a blustery day. My health is good at present. I have been blessed with health and strength all along, thanks be to God from on high.”
Note 67 - 1/21/63
“My health is very good ...”  Tabler and his buddies begin to revive in spirit. “Came off picket this day. The greatest quietude prevailed along the line last night. My health is very good, our Company as well. The rain has turned to snow this day, and things begin to look gray.”
Note 169 - 7/24/63
Since their knapsacks are back at Murfreesboro, the men have no tents and other necessities. They have been camping in the open all this time! Some berries “... to concentrate my hunger ...”. Sheridan’s Division cannot advance until the railroad is repaired, so rations are reduced. “This day the left of our Regiment is detailed for picket. Our knapsacks have not come from Murfreesboro yet, consequently we are without tents and other necessary things that are much needed in Camp. The picket post changed. Had some berries to concentrate my hunger.”

CONCLUSION: My initial impression of Tabler, that he was a complainer about his health, was wrong. He actually was really very tough physically, surviving under severe environmental conditions.

Detached Observer: The Old Sentry Crane

Note 36 - 5/31/62           
In pursuit of the enemy. Camped on the bank of the Tuscumbia, where the rebels burned the bridges. This is the last of May, I am still alive & well. I feel to thank God for his kind protection. The battle of Fair Oaks the 31st of May & the 1st of June,” Like most soldiers, Tabler was keenly interested in events on other war fronts. Fair Oaks meant 790 Union soldiers killed and 3,590 wounded.
Note 39 - 6/11/62           
“Commenced to march at 11 A.M., went 10 miles & halted for the night. The dust 6 inches deep. Total eclipse of the moon.” Tabler did not have an almanac in the first diary, in which this notation is made, so he may have actually observed this eclipse himself.  But he did have an almanac in the second diary, so it is also possible that other soldiers had access to an almanac at that time, and word was passed around. In either case, we see Tabler as an OBSERVER, interested in farm affairs, politics, the draft, distant battles, church affairs and celestial events.
Note 42 - 6/30/62
“General Inspection. Weather cloudy & cool, Fighting before Richmond. White Oak Swamp & White Oak Creek & Charles City Crossroads.”
Note 59 - 1/1/63
Tabler ends the first diary with diary entries and clothing price-lists, and a muster list for Company K. He notes, “Edward L. Tabler, on the Memphis & Charleston Railroad, Camp Big Spring, Tishamingo, Mississippi. Edward Leroy Tabler, born in the year 1840 of Our Lord.” These entries raise three questions:  1) Did soldiers have to purchase their clothing?  If so, how could they afford it on $13 per month pay? And if not, then why the price lists?  2) How would a mere private go about acquiring a Company Muster List, and why would he?  3) Were these last entries made at the end of a partially blank diary, and at the time Tabler was guarding the railroad?
Note 83 - 3/16/63           
“All’s quiet on our side this day, No signs of the rebels about this place. I don’t know how they are getting along about this time, but I suppose they are all right on the goose. So may it be. Weather clear & pleasant”.  Tabler supposes the rebels are “... all right on the goose ...” This was a cant phrase of Southern sympathizers -- “Are you all right on the goose?”.  If you were a sympathizer, you might answer, “I am indeed!”
Note 87 - 3/23/63
“We were reviewed today by General Rosecrans & Staff. The scene was a delight. The whole Division was out on parade. It took one half day to accomplish this object, and it was to see that every officer and soldier was in the best of trim.” Tabler must have been in the parade, and yet he reports it as an OBSERVER. I think this is a mental habit with him.
Note 89 - 3/25/63
“Camp Drill is the great feature of the day. Our Company now is commanded by H. A. Buck, that in the first place was Orderly Sergeant. The boys enjoy themselves very well playing at ball & pitching horseshoes.”  Buck was a lawyer before enlisting, and was  killed at Chickamauga 9/19/63.  Tabler’s language, in writing about the boys playing, is that of an OBSERVER -- didn’t he play with them?
Note 92 - 4/2/63
“Today we had a grand Brigade Drill, across this clover field. Our artillery was out too. It was a grand sight. We performed without charging anything. Weather clear.”  Here Tabler shows his sense of beauty, and his farmer’s eye for agricultural detail. But, again, his OBSERVER’S stance makes it almost seem that he himself was not in the grand drill ! Even though a participant, he still appreciates the grandeur.
Note 97 - 4/8/63
“Battalion Drill again. Battalion is when the Regiment is all drilling together, going through those movements that are most essential in battle. Today, while we were drilling, Co. K graded up their street.”  If Battalion Drill involves the whole Regiment, how is it that Company K is grading up their street? Also, since Tabler is in Company K, how could he be drilling while Company K was grading?  Tabler’s OBSERVER’S stance often makes it difficult to know whether he was physically present in an event.
Note 98 - 4/9/63
“This Thursday, the 9th Day of Our Lord, 1863, the 51st Ill. Vol. went on picket, to watch as the Old Crane does, while the others are busily engaged helping themselves, or taking their ease, unconscious of anything that is going on about them.” Did Tabler know about the “Old Crane” by observation, or is this a reference to something he has read?  His view of the Army, part on watch, part relaxed -- is vivid.  Again, we see the OBSERVER. In fact, Tabler here seems to be the Old Crane!
Note 99 - 4/10/63
“Came off picket this morning at the usual hour. Nothing but the shrill noise of insects & croaking sound of the monster Bullfrog heard on the line last night. Weather clear, warm & pleasant.”
Note 110 - 4/30
“Went on picket this morning at 7 A. M.  Met with no trouble there. All quiet throughout the whole region. On post under a large nice Peach Tree, with no fruit on it. Watching for the Rebs, but none made their appearance.” I need to make a collection of Tabler’s vivid descriptions of his picket posts. At 5/13 he has decided that the Peach Tree is barren, as opposed to picked clean.
Note 148 - 6/28
“Rose early this morning & set out with the wagon train for Manchester, a distance of 13 miles. This was a pretty wearisome march. We reach the place at 4 P.M. and stack arms, then fled like panting cattle for the river. (Duck Run)  The Rebs fleeing. Rain most all day.” Farmers know how thirsty cattle will rush to water!
Note 150 - 7/1/63
“This wet & muddy morning we marched into Tullahoma without resistance. The place well fortified, and but for a flank movement, we would not be here today. The rebel force here 2500. Our rations have been taken to supply those in front. We are on half rations.” Tabler is aware that Rosecrans is using a flanking maneuver.
Note 158 - 7/9/63
“Called off the picket line this morning to get ready to march again, and it was a march too, such as you don’t read of, up on top the Cumberland Mountain, to a place called The University of the South, for here was the cornerstone already laid.” Few men would have described that terrific double-teamed, mule-killing haul up Cumberland Mountain as something you don’t READ of. That is the talk of a READER and an aspiring writer!
Note 180 - 8/5/63
“All is perfect quietude at this place on the Tennessee. Our Camp here is situated on a high bluff on the bank of the river. This is/was well fortified and prepared for resistence, but the Rebs, as at other places, were scared out of it, then burned the great bridge, 600 yards in length.” It would be interesting to know how Tabler knew the length of the bridge at Bridgeport.
Note 188 - 8/21/63
“No go yet, lay here in perfect quietude. Generals Rosecrans & Stanly & McCook came up from Stevenson, and mounted horses and went down the river about five miles, to visit the place & plan out for a crossing.”. What a detail of information – the grapevine must have been phenomenally efficient!
Note 192 - 8/28/63
“All was quiet along the line last night. Two Dummies came up today, bringing three or four Major Generals. The whole 27th Regiment was out choppin’ and gettin’ out timbers for the bridge. Everything going on lively, war news favorable etc. etc. etc.”. Tabler sounds lighthearted here, and even a little flip. Didn’t he know the exact number of Generals, or didn’t he care? What is the mood expressed with his “... etc. etc. etc. ...” ? Were things so lively he could not comprehend it in detail? Or was it that the diary’s constricted space prevented a coherent summary?
Note 197 - 9/16/63
“Climbed the old mountain again, on our way, also descended it, and put up for the night within 12 miles of Lafayette. Here General Negley engaged the enemy the other day & was compelled to fall back, on account of superior numbers.” How did Tabler know they camped 12 miles from Lafayette? Did a private have a map ? Did the officers take care to inform the men where they were? Was it simply the grapevine? He was informed about Negley, but why didn’t he know the exact day?
Note 198 - 9/18/63
“This morning we moved forward about 6 miles & pitched our camp. The left wing of our Regiment went on picket, where we remained for about one hour, when the long roll beat, and we had to march again in the middle of the night. Dust very thick & night dark. Made 6 miles.” An ephemeris states there was a 30% crescent moon that night.
Note 199 - 9/23/63
“Days & nights equal. All hands to work this day with pick, axe & spade. Cannonading going on, some skirmishing along the whole line, the enemy kept off. Our signal on the top of Lookout Mountain, gives us warning of all the Rebel movements.” Tabler refers to the Autumnal Equinox. This is the second astronomical note he has made – the other was the total lunar eclipse at 6/11/62. He had an almanac in his second diary, but since his birthday was 9/21, he may have been accustomed to note the official beginning of Fall. He knows his Army has a signal on Lookout Mountain!

Affectionate Condescension, Emotionally Generous

Note 44 - 8/4/62
“All quiet in our little fortification. My health is still good.” He also writes of  “    our small fort.” at 8/8/62. This type of expression says something about Tabler, but I’m not sure just what as yet. It’s a sort of relaxed expression of affection, or perhaps of condescension.
Note 46 - 8/18/62
“Fort all quiet. I am tolerably well, and a set of rowdies are on my bunk.” This is definitely a laid-back, aloof amusement ... as is “I am getting stout again.”
Note 201 - 9/28/63
“Last night we were aroused by musket firing at a brisk rate, for full half an hour, when it died away resulting nothing. We moved Camp this afternoon and was very busy fixing up our little tents for the first time for a month.” Tabler also writes of “... my little tent ...” at 10/14, and “our small tents” at10/22 This may especially affect me, because of my pleasant experiences camping with my uncles, when I was a young boy. But it also seems to say something about Tabler -- an attitude of detachment, a sort of FOND CONDESCENSION.
Note 209 - 10/14
“A wet rainy day. I am permitted to remain inside my little tent, in the dry. All was quiet along the picket line. My health good. Wrote a letter to one of my friends.” Tabler often uses this expression of a “dog tent”.  Of course, the tent was indeed little, but I think the expression carries more meaning than a simple factual reference.
Note 211 - 10/18
“Our Brigade went on picket. Our Regiment first on the line. The Rebs very bold and came up to the river bank, on which were our pickets, and in the night time we threw sticks & stones at each other.”  I would guess that Tabler personally engaged in the high-jinks, but I get the feeling he was usually an OBSERVER.
Note 212 - 10/19
“Moved back about 80 rds. where we lay on reserve. Some few shots exchanged between the boys, but no casualties. The time limited for us to stand is four hours off & four hours on.”  Tabler includes the Rebels in his phrase “... between the boys ...”  He never evinces HATRED for the enemy. He is emotionally generous.          
Note 223 - 11/9
“A cold day this. All is quiet on the Tennessee at Chattanooga. Nothing but the old routine of camp life. Chattanooga is getting to be quiet, and pretty well Yankee’ed over. The health of the troops generally good. Drawed 3/4 rations.” What sentiment does “... pretty well yankee’ed over ...” express?  It is certainly not intensely partisan. Rather, it hints at a generous attitude to the Secesh.    

Bored,  Discouraged,  Complaining,  Temper

Note 43 - 7/31/62
“The 31st day of July. Two Companies of us, H&K, are camped on the railroad, guarding a bridge. Got breastworks built of cotton bales. God knows how long we will remain here.  The month of July has passed by, and I am still alive, thanks be to God. I have been 7 months in the Army. I have endured a great many hardships, learned a great deal about military matters, seen considerable of the world & the people that inhabit it, and I feel that I must live and learn.”.  The entries for the entire month of July sound dispirited. “Uncle Sam is not doing much at present here ...” (7/16)  Tabler’s monthly summary is fatalistic.
Note 62 - 1/8/63
“Camp is all quiet this day, cleaning up around our tents. Our camp guard has been done away with at present, which was for so long a time a drudgery & fatiguing part of our duties. Weather cloudy & cold.”  Tabler apparently liked picket duty better than guard duty. Was picket duty more interesting?
Note 65 - 1/14/63
“Went out on picket to watch for the stealthy enemy. All is quiet along the line. The rain is falling in torrents all the day long, but we must grin & bear it. The river rising rapidly. Two hours on post & four off.”  (1/15)  “Came off picket all cold & wet, hungry & mad, and partook of a warm cup of coffee, which revived me up again. All was silent on the line last night, no appearance of the enemy. The day passed off quiet, so I lay in the tent.”  These entries seem to show a rare instance of temper in Tabler. Since he is rewriting this diary, he can display his vocabulary. (partook a cup of coffee).
Note 66 - 1/17/63
“Quietude prevails over the Camp this day, sitting in my tent, whiling away the long lonesome hours that accompany so many soldiers who are so far from home. Weather cold & cloudy. (1/18)  “The Sabbath, a day that there is so little regard for in the Army, passed quiet and respectably. Our chaplain back in Nashville, on duty, therefore we have no preaching on the Sabbath Day. Weather cloudy and cold.”  These entries show an unusual degree of discouragement.
Note 71- 2/9/63\
“Nothing of importance going on. I have nothing to say this day, but I must fill up with something, if it is nothing for any other man. The heavens is overhanging with heavy cloud, promising rain.”.  He’s obviously depressed, but why does he feel he must fill every diary date? Perhaps he’s embarrassed that his state of mind does not allow him to make any interesting observations.
Note 72 - 2/12/63
“This day we went out foraging on the Salem Pike, about ten miles from this place, the roads very muddy & the day rainy. We got our forage, however, and returned without molestation. A very irksome task indeed.”  He’s complained about guard duty, and now it’s foraging. Does Tabler, after the battle of Stone’s River/Murfreesboro, feel he now has the privileged freedom of a veteran -- to gripe?
Note 77 - 2/24/63
“Today our Regiment was called upon to accompany a forage train, and a rough time we had, through the mud ankle deep, wading streams & jumping ditches & striding over logs. We at last reached the place, and got forage without molestation.”.  My guess is that Tabler would rank unpleasant tasks in the following order :  hospital duty, foraging, and guard duty.
Note 105 - 4/24/63
“I don’t know what to write for this day’s transaction. This is an old story, but it’s new. All is quiet along our picket line at Salem. Came off the line this morning. Weather warm & pleasant.”
Note 106 - 4/26/63
“Cleaning up the old Camp, which has been exposed so much since our absence. Washing clothes & such like necessaries. Writing those letters of which I should have wrote, only for the inconvenience of after days.”  Things are so relaxed he can now afford the luxury of feeling guilt about not writing letters. The boredom he shows here, during this period, probably makes him also reluctant to write home, since he feels he has nothing of interest to say.
Note 117 - 5/13/63
“Got up in a hurry, and got ready to go on picket. My post was in the same place as before, under the old barren peach tree. Here I spent another turn of picket duty, in the utmost care. It rained on me too.”  The “.... large nice peach tree ...”  has now become the “... old barren peach tree ...”..
Note 126 - 5/26/63
“Went on picket this morning, as usual. A few shots fired, but not at the enemy. Good and reliable news from the Army of the Mississippi, Grant giving them their cheese down there, closing in on Vicksburg.  W. warm.”.  They shouldn’t have done it, but pickets often fired at small game, or even at a tree. Boredom was the fate of the soldier, most of the time.
Note 138 - 6/17/63
“Some firing on the outpost, but to no avail. Nothing to tell you of today. No news from Vicksburg, but the siege going favorably. Lee’s Army reported invading Pennsylvania. It rained on Edward L. Tabler, Co. K, 51st Ill. Vol., but didn’t hurt him, as he has got used to it.” Boredom prevails during this period of Rosecrans’ preparation for the Tullahoma Campaign.
Note 216 - 10/25/63
“All quiet at Cha. Was detailed to get brick to build chimneys. Worked all day hard, without anything to eat. The roads being so bad, or the distance so far for which to obtain them.” Is this possible?  I believe I could not have done it, even in my prime, on the farm. I would have fainted, I believe. Can a mule or a horse do it? If it is possible, Tabler is, once again, simply matter-of-fact.