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A history of the Ninth Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry (Volume 1) online

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Book 3"^












In this sketch of the military career of the iUli 111. Vol. Inft., my
object has been, to present the facts connected with its organization,
and its connection with the various battle-scenes throuirh which it has
passed. I have entered upon the compilation of facts with soiue
degree of hesitation. I have thrown it into the present shape, only on
the earnest solicitation of a number of the officers and men of the Keci-
nient. Originally nothing more was contemplated than a newspaj.>fcK
Bketch. It was thought that oven the prominent facts in the Regiment's
history, could not be given in such an article, without making it so long
that publishers would not wish to insert it in their papers, or the readers
of such papers be willing to read it.

It has been the writer's aim, not only to give the facts connected with
the various battles in which the Regiment has been engaged, but to
narrate many incidents on marches and scouts, both of a general and
individual character. Olten these incidents will throw more light upon
tlie real workings of soldier life, than accounts of great battles.

I am indebted for most of the facts connected with the marches and
battles of the Regiment, to the kindness of Adjutant Kloek. Most of
tJie incidents I have gathered from the officers and men in the Regi-
ment. Much dependence had to be put in these, since the writer has
only been with tlie Regiment from the first of September, 18GB.

It was felt to bo due the Regiment, that a sketch of this kind be pre-
pared. It has never had a correspondent to herald its deeds of daring
in the news of the day, as many other regiments have. Hence, although
it has performed a great amount of hard and very valuable service, etill
it has Hut seldom been noticed in the papers. Let justice be done.
Nothing more.

If I can but succeed in putting together the substanlial facts in the
History of this Regiment, so that they can be preserved by the boys,
in a convenient form for reference, and afford material to aid the future
liistorian in making up the history of this war, I will have accomplished

he object I have in view.


Cause of the I^eheUiou-^Measnrcs taken l>jj the leaders to deceive the
viasties — James Buchanan — Lincohi's journey to WasJiinr/fon, and
enter inrj upon his dutien — -Calf for 7^^,000 Vo/unteers — Organization
o/dth III. — Roster of officers — *SV./- Regiments organized in Illinois —
Natureof'-'' Threemonths' service'''— Kentucky neutrality — Scouting —
Incidents — ■ When mustered out — Reorganization.

Every lover of liis country will remember, with peculiar emotions,
the events of the Winter and Spring of 1861. On the election of Abra-
ham Lincoln to the position of President of the United States, in the
autumn of 1860, the Soutliern portion of our onco peaceful and happy
country were indignant at the result. They had so long been accus-
tomed to have everything their own way, so far as President-making
was concerned, that they could not endure the thought of being super-
ceded in their favorite work. For years they had elected Presidents
who were either Southern men, or Northern men whose views agreed
with their own on the great question at issue with them — Slavery.
Now that a Northern man was elected to the Presidency, who, it was
known, would use his constitutional powers to check the spread of that
ruinous system, they were determined not to suSer it. Loud talkings
of secession from the Union, spread rapidl}' throughout the South.

The leaders in this wicked rebellion did not allow the mass of the
people to know the exact position which the newly elected President
bad taken, and the policy he would pursue with rcfbrence to the slavery
question. If they had, we would never have heard of the rebellion now
raging in our land. Their watchword was, that whenever he would
enter upon the duties of his office, he would at once take measures to
have the slaves set free throughout the entire South; that slaves would
everywhere be stirred up to insurrection. Thus the leaders aroused
the minds of the masses, and prepareil them for the terrible ruin into
which they were about to plunge them.

During the Fall after the election of the present I^rcsidcnt. it was
my privilege to meet with a citizen of Mississippi, who was visiting lUi-
noia on matters of business. He had spent two or three weeks ia


Springfield and vicinity, attending to that business. Speaking of tbo
state of feeling existing in his State, and contrasting that with the
feelings manifested in Illinois, he said, "I would give half I am worth,
if the people of the South could only see and know what I have seen
and learned since I have been in Illinois." He had had an interview
with the President elect; had made the acquaintance of many of his
prominent friends; and had become fully satisfied that he, together
with the mass of the people South, was entirely mistaken as to tha
position which the incoming administration would occupy on the ques-
tion of slavery. "Why, sir, if my fellow citizens could only see things
aa I now see them, there would be no diiSculty. If they could only be
convinced that the incoming Administration would not interfere with
the system of slavery as it exists in the slave States, but were only
opposed to its further extension, there would be no further difficulty.
But," says he, "I cannot hope to see that state of feeling now produced.
If I should go home and tell them what I have seen and what I have
heard, my life would be in danger. I would be denounced as an abo-
litionist. My friends dissuaded me from making the journey to this
State. 'If you go to Illinois you Vi'ill be mobbed.' I feared the result
myself, but my business was urgent. I am agreeably surprised to find
that here a man can express his opinions on this vexed question, with
■perfect safety." This Southern man expressed himself thus, on the
eve of this rebellion, with tears- in his eyes.

. But time passed. The leaders in this rebellion were making Hercu-
lean efforts to be prepared for the crisis. James Buchanan occupied
the Presidential chair. He was just the instrument they needed in
that position. His heart was with them. Most of the Cabinet he had
gathered around him, were notorious traitors, and ready to resort to
any means to carry out their wicked ends. Hence they robbed the
government of its treasures, its arms, and its fortifications. During the
Winter, one State after another passed acts of secession, and he looked
quietly on, but made no demonstration towards stopping it. Armed
forces were gathering in the various seceding States. Fort Sumter
was still in possession of the govern-ment. Fortifications wore erected
iu Charleston harbor to reduce it. Its few inmates were in a starving
condition. No sujiplies were sent them.

The term of office of James Buchanan expires. The President elect
enters upon his journey i'rom Springfield, Illinois, to Washington, D. C,
He leaves his home, feeling fully aware of the great work before him.
He is satisfied that without Divine aid he will be unable to meet the
crisis. Hence, on taking his departure, while standing upon the steps


-of the cars, he asks the friends he was Icaviiij^ behind, to seek that aui
on his behalf. A plot is laid for his assassination, in the ('ity of Bal-
•fiinore. But that Providence, whose aid he desired, revealed the plot,
and he is enabled to reach Washington, on an extra train and at an
hour unexpected. At the proper time he is duly initiated into h»H
office. lie looks around and sees the sad condition of the affairH of
iState. He firmly grasps the helm, however. Althongh the ship of
jjtate is in a leaky condition; although many a plank was torn ofl';
Although many were still in it ready to strike other leaks j although but
little money with which to repair it; still he takes firm hold. Tie
gathers around him, as counselors and co-workers, those in whom he
■oould place confidence. Every exertion which could possibly be made,
is made, to set things "'to rights" again.

It is not long until Fort Sumter is fired upon by the enemies of their
•country. The roar of the cannon, whose balls shattered the walls of
that Fort, echoed throughout the land and aroused an indignant people
to arms. In the meantime the Prosideut calls for 7y,000 volun-
teers to enter the service for three months. lie has been blamed for
^■ialling for so few, and for so short a time. That call, however, doubts
less saved the capital of our nation, which was then sorely beleagured.
In compliance with this call, the State of Illinois furnished six regi-
ments for the "three months' service." That call was made on the
I5th day of April, 18G1. The county of St. Clair promptly sent six
<iompauies; the county of Madison three companies, and the county of
Montgomery one company. They rendezvoused at Springfield, lUinoif.,
<»n tlie 23d day of April, 1861, and were organized and mustered intw
the service on the 25th of the same month. It was the third regiment
■organized in Illinois, and was numbered as the 9th llegt. 111. Vol. Intt
The roster of officers of companies, as reported, is as follows:
Company A. — Aug. Mersy, Captain.

" " — Jacob Kercher, 1st Lieutenant.

" " — Birt Affleck, 2d Lieutenant.

Company B. — llodolphus Beckler, Captain.

" '' Ledergarber, 1st Lieutenant.

" " — H. Clay Hay, 2d Lieutenant.

Company C, — I. F. Tiedeman, Captain.

'' '' Conner, 1st Lieutenant.

" '• — Hamilton Lieber, 2d Lieutenant.

Company D. — .Moxander G. Hawes, Captain.

•' " Cox, 1st Lieutenant

" '' Roman, 2d LieutenanL


Company E. Catine, Captai».

" " Scheitlier, 1st Lieutenaa*t;.

" " Schemingeir/ 2d Lieutenant.

Company F. — ^Van Cleve, Captain.

" " — Loren Webb, 1st Lieutenant.

" " —Geo. Adaras-, 2d Lieutenant.

Company G. Tucker, Captain.

" " Davis, 1st Lieutenant,

" " Asli, 2d Lieutenant.

Company H. — Jesse J^ Phillips, Captain.

" " — John W. Kitehell, 1st Lieutenant,

" " — Wm. F. Armstroiog, 2d Lieutenant.

Company I. — Jos. G. Robinson, Captain.

a. u. — Thos. J. Newsham, 1st Lieutenant.

" " — Gerly, 2d Lieutenant.

Company K. — John H. Kulm, Captain.

" " Shutterer, 1st Lieutenant.

"■ " — Emil Adam, 2d Lieutenaat.

An election for field officers was held on the organization of tke Regi-
meat, which resulted in the choice of —


August Mersy, Lt. Colonel.

Jesse J. Phillips, MajoH.

The following were.' appointed staff officers :

Dr. Dell, of Springfiield, Surgeon.

Dr. S. M. Hamilton, of Monmouth^ Assistant Surgeon.

John W. Kitchell, Adjutant.

Daris, Quarter Master,

J. J. Ferree, Chaplain.

No sooner was the Regiment fully organized, than it was ealled t&>
duty. The Rebels were evidently making their arrangements to take-
possession of, and occupy Cairo, 111. They saw at once, if they could
do this, they would be able to cut off all commuaication between the
Ohio and Mississippi rivers. They would thus occupy a position from
which they would be able, not only to command these rivers, but to>
ttKike inroads into the State of Illinois. They contemplated making
their battle-grounds on Northern soil. It did not at all enter into their
original plans, to wage this war upon the sacred soil of the South-
Their soldiers were; promised the privilege of sacking Northern cities,,
and. overrunning Northern States. But pnomptty the, goTrerament. took


possession of Cairo, and thus saved Illinois from the iavasion of tho
enemy. While the Border Free States of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana
and Iowa have suffered from Kebel raids, more or less, Illinois has thus
far escaped.

To carry out this design of occupying Cairo, ere the enemy got pos-
session of it, orders were issued on the 30th of April, 1861, to the 9th
Kegt. 111. luft., to report at Cairo, 111. It arrived at that point ]May
1st, 1861, at 9 A. M. It was the third liegimeut on the ground at

The first six regiments from Illinois, that were organized under that
call of the President, were :

7th Regiment, Colonel Cooke Commanding.

8th " " Oglesby "

9th " " Paine «

10th " " Prentiss "

11th " " AYallace "

VM\i " " McArthur ''

These regiments were distributed as follows: Tho 7th Regiment
was ordered to Alton. 111.; the 8th, 9th and 10th to Cairo, 111.; the 11th
to Villa Ridge, 111.; the Vlih to Casey's Station, on the O. k M. R. R.
At an election which was held for a Brig. GJ-eneral to take tho com-
mand of the above regiments, 15. M. Prentiss was elected. His
''Head Quarters" were at Cairo, 111.

After the Regiment arrived at Cairo, 111., Lieut. Conner, of Co. C, re-
signed. Sergt. W. C. Kneffncr, of Co. D, was elected as 1st Lieut, of Co-
C, and commissioned by the Governor. Jacob Kircher was commis-
sioned as Captain of Co. A, and J. AV. Kitchell as Captain of Co. H.

After the election of J. AV. Kitchell as Captain of Co. II, 1st Lieut.
Thos. J. Newsham was appointed Adjutant of the Regiment.

The Regiment remained on duty at Cairo during the term of service
for which they were called out.

Many of the soldiers, supposing that they would be furnished with
clothing by the government, took very little clothing with them, and
that of the most ordinary kind, thinking that when they should draw
clothing they could not take care of what they took with them. The
result was, that many of them had no change of clothing for the throe
months they were in the service. They had no regular unil'urm. Some
of the companies were clothed with such a uniform as they had
selected and supplied for themselves. "When the Regiment arrived iu
Cairo, no provision was made for them in the way of tents. "War was
a new thing then, and the Quartermaster and Commissary stores werQ


not always ready to be drawn upon at a moment's warning. The sup-
ply of rations was, at times, very irregular. The men had not beea
accustomed to making themselves comfortable in Qamp; consequently
they sometimes found it pretty hard living. After they had been
there a few days, it was determined to go into camp on the edge of the
Mississippi river, between the town and the river. The camping ground
was covered with very large trees of drift-wood. These must be cleared
off. No details for fatigue duty were made; but Col. Paine, taking
hold along with the rest, said "Come, boys, we must red these logs off,
and clear up this ground." And at it they went, and after a time they
had the logs all cleared away, the stumps burnt out, and a pretty re-
spectable camping ground prepared. Much hard service was endured
during these three months. Although no fighting was necessary, yet
some of the soldiers who were with the Regiment then, and are with it
still, speak of those three months as the hardest part of their military
life. The duty consisted principally in working on the fortifications,
and guard duty. This was very onerous.

To make it harder on the boys, they were poorly provided with food
and clothing. Little or no provision was made for blankets. Many of
them, if they got their shirts washed, had to take them off and go
without while it was being done. If they did this, they were immedi-
ately attacked by a powerful and numerous enemy, in the shape of
mosquitoes. While the rebels like to attack and surprise our boys,
when clothed with new uniforms, this numerous army prefer to make
the attack when our soldiers are entirely stripped of their coats and
their shirts.

During the time the Regiment was in camp at Cairo, Kentucky was
pursuing that policy which proved so ruinous to her. She was attempt-
ing to enforce a strict neutralUij with reference to the war. Parties
were organized. No efforts were made to prevent disloyal men from
organizing companies, and committing hostilities. The State was soon
filled with rebels against the goyernment. Several scouting parties
were sent from Cairo into Kentucky for the purpose of scattering
those parties and watching their movements. In most of these, the
9th 111. Inft., was represented by detachments.

In July, an expedition which was under command of Col. J. J.
Morgan of the 10th 111., and which consisted of twelve companies, and
one section of artillery, was sent to Indian Creek, Mo., to break up an
organization of Rebels encamped at that place. The expedition was
made up of detachments from each of the regiments in camp at Cairo
at that time. The 9th 111. was represented by Companies C and H.


The Rebels prowled about in Missouri and Kentucky, and there
were frequent rumors of attacks to be made upon Cairo. But the thrca
months rolled past -without any attack.

There are some incidents that occurred during this period, worthy
of notice here. One of them occurred with our present highly esteemed
Surgeon, Dr. Guilick. lie was then a private in the Regiment. One
day he was stationed to guard a powder magazine. It was an impor-
tant post. The Dr. had served in the army in Germany, lie knew
a picket should never leave his post until relieved from duty. The rula
for picket, is two hours on duty and four off, during the twenty-four.
The first two houi'S passed away, no relief came. Two hours mors
passed. He supposed that surely at that change he would be relieved.
Still no relief came. Another two hours passed. Still no relief. Ro-
lief-hour af^er relief-hour passed. l?ut no relief for the Dr. Ho
began to feel the need of his. dinner, but no relief came, and he stuck
to his powder. That article was an important item in warfai'c, and he
was determined to guard it. Night was drawing near; still no relief.
Ita quiet hours passed by, and still no relief came. The morning
dawned, and there it beheld the Dr. tramping faithfully his beat, won-
dering, I suppose, if there was no relief. The twenty-four hours rolled
round, and the Dr. was there still, having had nothing to eat and nothing
to drink. Another thing which caused the time to pass heavily with him,
like almost all Germans, in I'act almost all soldiers, he was very fond of big
pipe. But there was the powder he was guarding, and it was not safe
to have tire near it. At the end of the twenty-four hours he wag
relieved. Our worthy Dr. has been with the Regiment ever since. He
is still faithful to his post, lie still carries out his tenacity in sticking
to his post until relieved. There is only one thing, so far as I know,
that will cause the Dr. to abandon his proper post. When the Regi-
ment is engaged in battle, unless there is immediate need for him in
the rear to care for the wounded, he will leave his post, as a non-com-
batant, and seeking some position in the advance, he is seen deliberately
firing away at the enemy with his revolver. If there is a man wounded
he hastens to the rear to attend, to him. That done, and he is off
again to his firing-post.

Another incident. I think it occurred during the three months'
service. At any rate it was during some scout. The camp was in an
old cornfield, on a hill-side. The only place the boys could well lay
was in the hollows between the corn rows. Col. Phillips (then M;ijor)
made his bed between two corn rows. He laid one gum blanket un-
derneath him, and another over him. As it was beginning to rain, ho


covered his face with his gum blanket, gathering it carefully under his
head. During the night it rained heavily; but the Major slept on.
When he awoke in the morning and attempted to uncover his head,
the first attempt to remove the blanket failed. By a more determined
effort he succeeded. But oh, horrible! The water had run down the
furrow, sweeping the mud before it. It had been piled up against his
head, the blanket keeping him dry. But instantly on raising the
blanket, rush came mud and water over his fece and head! If he had
only had sense enough to commence uncovering at the other end, he
might have crept out snug and dry, although the water had been
pouring down on both sides of him. The Col. has since manifested
much skill in fighting a retreat with his regiment. But it seems he
had not yet learned the art of retreating, for he seemed determined in
spite of all opposition, to go it, head foremost. But he conquered, and
had the consolation of knowing that his severest wounds were in the
face; and although naturally very careful of his good-looking face, I
doubt not he would rather be wounded there than in the back. Save
a brave man always from being wounded in the back.

Still another incident. Rats had become very abundant in town
and around the camps. In fact, rats, fleas and mosquitoes were the
principal enemies with which our boys had then to contend. The side
walks in town were made of plank. Under these was a beautiful place
for the rats to run and play. Sergeant Williford (now Captain) was
Sergeant of the guard in the town one night. That he might have
something to do, by which he could while away the dull hours of the
night, he armed himself with an old cavalry sabre and took his position
at a point where there was a break in the side-walk, there to watch the
movements of the enemy. They had to pass through this opening, and
as one after another made his appearance, each met a death blow from
the .Sergeant's sabre. He has now no knowledge of the multitude of
the slain, as he ceased to count the dead. I know not but that the
grand strategy by which he here deceived the enemy and the multi-
tudes slain on that night, were the beginning of his rise which has
resulted in his present commanding position.

The Regiment was mustered out of the service on the 25th day of
July, 18G1. Because of the aspect of affairs in Missouri, but a small
number of troops could be sent to Cairo, III., to take the place of the
six regiments from Illinois, whose term of service was about to expire.
Consc<|uently an application was made by Gen. Prentiss to the Com-
mander-in-chief, for permission to re-organize those six regiments in the
jEield. This permission was granted; the re-organization of the several


regiments was perfected, and the regiments recruited. The application
made to tlie axitlioritiet^ ibr tliis permission was telegraphed, and granted
in a dispatch from (jeneral 8cott.



Re-orgnnlzat!on — liostin- of ojficcrs — Drill at Cairo — Changr to Pa'
ihicdh — Promotions and usaiijivments to dutj/ — Attack on Saratoga — ■
]iiconiioi.<ance toirards Columhus hy Is/ Jirigadc — ( 'oviviissions—'
Hcconnoisancc toirardx Fort Ilcnrij — Rtgimcnt 2>aid — Incidents.

As will be seen from the preceding chapter, the 9th 111. Inft. was
mustered out of the service on the 2r)th of July, ISGl. and an order
dispatched from (tcii. Scott granting permission to re-organizo it. It
was conse([uently organized for the three years' service, atCairo, 111.,
and mustered into the service for three years, unless sooner discharged,
on the 28th day of July, 1861. The Regiment reported for duty on
the same day to Brig. General B. M., commanding the forces
at Cairo, 111.

The field, staff, and line officers were "mustered in" as follows:

Colonel— E. A. Paine, * ' July 26th, 1861.

Lieut. Col.— Aug. Mersy, " "

Major.— Jesse J-. Phillips, " '' "

Surgeon.— S. M. Hamilton, ' " " "

Assistant Surgeon. — Kmil Guelick, " " "

Adjutant.— Thos. J. Xewsham, * " " "

Begt. Quartermaster. — Wm. G. Pinckard, Aug. 26th, 1861.

Chaplain. — James J. Perree, July 26th, "

Co. A.— Captain, John H. Kuhn, " " "

" — 1st Lieutenant, Emil Adam, " '' "

" —2d Lieutenant, E. J. Wcyrich, " " "

Co. B.— Captain, Wm. C. Kneffner, •« •'

" — 1st Lieutenant, Hamilton Lieber, " " "

" —2d Lieutenant, Pred. Vogler, " " "

Co. C— Captain, D. F. Tiedeman,^ " " "

" — 1st liioutcnant, Oscar Rollmann, " " "

" — 2d Lieutenant, Chas. Schevir, " " "

Co. ]).- Captain, Bodolph Beckier, " " "

" —1st Lieutenant, P^dward Krebbs, Aug. 10th, "

" —2d Lieutenant, Wm. Bohlen, " " "


Co. E.— Captain, Alex. G. Ilawes, July 26th, 18G1.

" — lat Lieutenant, Wni. I). Craig, Aug. 6th, "

«' — 2d Lieutenant, R. B. Patterson, July 26th, "■

Co. F.— Captain, Loren Webb, " " "

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Online LibraryMarion MorrisonA history of the Ninth Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 10)