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A history of the Ninth Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry (Volume 2) online

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In this sketch of the military career of the 9th Ill. Vol. Inft., my
object has been, to present the facts connected with its organization,
and its connection with the various battle-scenes through which it has
passed. I have entered upon the compilation of these facts with some
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
Regiment. Originally nothing more was contemplated than a newspaper
sketch. It was thought that even 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. Often these incidents will throw more light upon
the 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 Klock. Most of the
incidents I have gathered from the officers and men in the Regiment.
Much dependence had to be put in these, since the writer has only been
with the Regiment from the first of September, 1863.

It was felt to be due the Regiment, that a sketch of this kind be
prepared. 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, still it has but seldom been noticed in the papers. Let
justice be done. Nothing more.

If I can but succeed in putting together the substantial 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
historian in making up the history of this war, I will have
accomplished the object I have in view.


_Cause of the Rebellion - Measures taken by the leaders to
deceive the masses - James Buchanan - Lincoln's journey to
Washington, and entering upon his duties - Call for 75,000
Volunteers - Organization of 9th Ill. - Roster of officers - Six
Regiments organized in Illinois - Nature of "Three months'
service" - Kentucky neutrality - Scouting - Incidents - When
mustered out - Reorganization._

Every lover of his country will remember, with peculiar emotions, the
events of the Winter and Spring of 1861. On the election of Abraham
Lincoln to the position of President of the United States, in the
autumn of 1860, the Southern portion of our once peaceful and happy
country were indignant at the result. They had so long been accustomed
to have everything their own way, so far as President-making was
concerned, that they could not endure the thought of being superceded
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 suffer it. Loud talkings of secession from the
Union, spread rapidly 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 had
taken, and the policy he would pursue with reference 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 prepared them for the terrible ruin into which
they were about to plunge them.

During the Fall after the election of the present President, it was my
privilege to meet with a citizen of Mississippi, who was visiting
Illinois on matters of business. He had spent two or three weeks in
Springfield and vicinity, attending to that business. Speaking of the
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
the position which the incoming administration would occupy on the
question of slavery. "Why, sir, if my fellow citizens could only see
things as I now see them, there would be no difficulty. 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 abolitionist. My friends dissuaded me from making the journey to
this State. 'If you go to Illinois you will 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 Herculean
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 government. Fortifications were erected in Charleston
harbor to reduce it. Its few inmates were in a starving condition. No
supplies were sent them.

The term of office of James Buchanan expires. The President elect
enters upon his journey from 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 leaving behind, to seek
that aid on his behalf. A plot is laid for his assassination, in the
City of Baltimore. 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 his
office. He looks around and sees the sad condition of the affairs of
State. He firmly grasps the helm, however. Although the ship of state
is in a leaky condition; although many a plank was torn off; although
many were still in it ready to strike other leaks; although but little
money with which to repair it; still he takes firm hold. He gathers
around him, as counselors and co-workers, those in whom he could 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 President calls for 75,000 volunteers to
enter the service for three months. He has been blamed for calling for
so few, and for so short a time. That call, however, doubtless saved
the capital of our nation, which was then sorely beleagured.

In compliance with this call, the State of Illinois furnished six
regiments for the "three months' service." That call was made on the
15th day of April, 1861. The county of St. Clair promptly sent six
companies; the county of Madison three companies, and the county of
Montgomery one company. They rendezvoused at Springfield, Illinois, on
the 23d day of April, 1861, and were organized and mustered into the
service on the 25th of the same month. It was the third regiment
organized in Illinois, and was numbered as the 9th Regt. Ill. Vol.

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. - Rodolphus Beckier, Captain.
" " - - - Ledergarber, 1st Lieutenant.
" " - H. Clay Hay, 2d Lieutenant.
Company C. - I. F. Tiedeman, Captain.
" " - - - Conner, 1st Lieutenant.
" " - Hamilton Lieber, 2d Lieutenant.
Company D. - Alexander G. Hawes, Captain.
" " - - - Cox, 1st Lieutenant.
" " - - - Roman, 2d Lieutenant.
Company E. - - - Catine, Captain.
" " - - - Scheitlier, 1st Lieutenant.
" " - - - Scheminger, 2d Lieutenant.
Company F. - Van Cleve, Captain.
" " - Loren Webb, 1st Lieutenant.
" " - Geo. Adams, 2d Lieutenant.
Company G. - - - Tucker, Captain.
" " - - - Davis, 1st Lieutenant.
" " - - - Ash, 2d Lieutenant.
Company H. - Jesse J. Phillips, Captain.
" " - John W. Kitchell, 1st Lieutenant.
" " - Wm. F. Armstrong, 2d Lieutenant.
Company I. - Jos. G. Robinson, Captain.
" " - Thos. J. Newsham, 1st Lieutenant.
" " - - - Gerly, 2d Lieutenant.
Company K. - John H. Kuhn, Captain.
" " - - - Shutterer, 1st Lieutenant.
" " - Emil Adam, 2d Lieutenant.

An election for field officers was held on the organization of the
Regiment, which resulted in the choice of -

AUGUST MERSY, Lt. Colonel.

The following were appointed staff officers:

Dr. Bell, of Springfield, Surgeon.
Dr. S. M. Hamilton, of Monmouth, Assistant Surgeon.
John W. Kitchell, Adjutant.
- - Davis, Quarter Master.
J. J. Ferree, Chaplain.

No sooner was the Regiment fully organized, than it was called to duty.
The Rebels were evidently making their arrangements to take possession
of, and occupy Cairo, Ill. They saw at once, if they could do this,
they would be able to cut off all communication 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 make 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 promptly the government took
possession of Cairo, and thus saved Illinois from the invasion of the
enemy. While the Border Free States of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and
Iowa have suffered from Rebel raids, more or less, Illinois has thus
far escaped.

To carry out this design of occupying Cairo, ere the enemy got
possession of it, orders were issued on the 30th of April, 1861, to the
9th Regt. Ill. Inft., to report at Cairo, Ill. It arrived at that point
May 1st, 1861, at 9 A. M. It was the third Regiment 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 " " Wallace "
12th " " McArthur "

These regiments were distributed as follows: The 7th Regiment was
ordered to Alton, Ill.; the 8th, 9th and 10th to Cairo, Ill.; the 11th
to Villa Ridge, Ill.; the 12th to Casey's Station, on the O. & M. R. R.

At an election which was held for a Brig. General to take the command
of the above regiments, B. M. Prentiss was elected. His "Head Quarters"
were at Cairo, Ill.

After the Regiment arrived at Cairo, Ill., Lieut. Conner, of Co. C,
resigned. Sergt. W. C. Kneffner, of Co. D, was elected as 1st Lieut. of
Co. C, and commissioned by the Governor. Jacob Kircher was commissioned
as Captain of Co. A, and J. W. Kitchell as Captain of Co. H.

After the election of J. W. Kitchell as Captain of Co. H, 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 three
months they were in the service. They had no regular uniform. Some of
the companies were clothed with such a uniform as they had selected and
supplied for themselves. When the Regiment arrived in Cairo, no
provision was made for them in the way of tents. War was a new thing
then, and the Quartermaster and Commissary stores were not always
ready to be drawn upon at a moment's warning. The supply of rations
was, at times, very irregular. The men had not been accustomed to
making themselves comfortable in camp; 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 respectable 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 immediately
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 attempting
to enforce a strict _neutrality_ 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 government. 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 Ill.
Inft., was represented by detachments.

In July, an expedition which was under command of Col. J. J. Morgan of
the 10th Ill., 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 Ill. 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 three 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. He was then a private in the Regiment. One day he
was stationed to guard a powder magazine. It was an important post. The
Dr. had served in the army in Germany. He knew a picket should never
leave his post until relieved from duty. The rule for picket, is two
hours on duty and four off, during the twenty-four. The first two hours
passed away, no relief came. Two hours more passed. He supposed that
surely at that change he would be relieved. Still no relief came.
Another two hours passed. Still no relief. Relief-hour after
relief-hour passed. But no relief for the Dr. He 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 warfare, and he was determined to
guard it. Night was drawing near; still no relief. Its quiet hours
passed by, and still no relief came. The morning dawned, and there it
beheld the Dr. tramping faithfully his beat, wondering, 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 fact almost all soldiers, he was very fond of
his pipe. But there was the powder he was guarding, and it was not safe
to have fire near it. At the end of the twenty-four hours he was
relieved. Our worthy Dr. has been with the Regiment ever since. He is
still faithful to his post. He 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
Regiment 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-combatant, 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 Major) made his bed
between two corn rows. He laid one gum blanket underneath him, and
another over him. As it was beginning to rain, he 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
face 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 multitudes 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,
1861. Because of the aspect of affairs in Missouri, but a small number
of troops could be sent to Cairo, Ill., to take the place of the six
regiments from Illinois, whose term of service was about to expire.
Consequently an application was made by Gen. Prentiss to the
Commander-in-chief, for permission to re-organize those six regiments
in the field. This permission was granted; the re-organization of the
several regiments was perfected, and the regiments recruited. The
application made to the authorities for this permission was
telegraphed, and granted in a dispatch from General Scott.



_Re-organization - Roster of officers - Drill at Cairo - Change to
Paducah - Promotions and assignments to duty - Attack on
Saratoga - Reconnoisance towards Columbus by 1st
Brigade - Commissions - Reconnoisance towards Fort
Henry - Regiment paid - Incidents._

As will be seen from the preceding chapter, the 9th Ill. Inft. was
mustered out of the service on the 25th of July, 1861, and an order
dispatched from Gen. Scott granting permission to re-organize it. It
was consequently organized for the three years' service, at Cairo,
Ill., 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. Prentiss, commanding the
forces at Cairo, Ill.

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. - Emil Guelick, " " "
Adjutant. - Thos. J. Newsham, " " "
Regt. Quartermaster. - Wm. G. Pinckard, Aug. 26th, 1861.
Chaplain. - James J. Ferree, July 26th, "
Co. A. - Captain, John H. Kuhn, " " "
" - 1st Lieutenant, Emil Adam, " " "
" - 2d Lieutenant, E. J. Weyrich, " " "
Co. B. - Captain, Wm. C. Kneffner, " " "

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Online LibraryMarion MorrisonA history of the Ninth Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 10)