'L I B R.ARY
ILLINOIS HISTORICAL SURVEY
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
(Late Colonel of the 125111 Volunteer Infantry.)
BY ROBERT M. ROGERS,
Late Second Sergeant Co. B.
GA/KTTK STEAM PRINT.
Who leaving the endearments and comforts of
home, willingly came at their country's call to her service,
. and on her altar yielded up their lives,
this book is affectionately dedicated by the
COMRADES AND FRIENDS :
In presenting to you this record of our military
life and of the time we passed in the service of the Government, we
have done it with the hope that our efforts will be appreciated by you.
Our desire has been to make this a record, which we can leave be-
hind us after we are gone, to those who may come after us. We
have done our best to make it reliable and correct. There may be
mistakes in it undoubtedly there are ; but the general statements
are correct, we know, while the incidents recounted are true, as
many of you will aver after you have read them. We have had to
labor under great difficulties in preparing for your inspection arid
benefit these pages, and at times have almost become discouraged,
but we persevered, and at last succeeded in getting them into a
shape which we thought would warrant us in placing them in the
hands of the printer, and distributing them among you. Between
the covers of the book you will find not only a record of our
marches, battles, and bivouacs, but also a complete roster of the
Regiment, showing what became of every man who, on the 3rd day
of September, 1862, was mustered into the service of the United
States in the 1251)1 Illinois ; whether he died on the field of battle,
was taken prisoner, transferred to other organizations, or was mus
tered out with the Regiment at Chicago, when only 343 of the
original one thousand who filled the Regiment when we left home,
answered to their names. If he is buried in any Government
Cemetery, the number of his grave is given. Hoping that our en-
deavors to make, for the regiment, a record which shall be not only
I I 75728
valuable but also entertaining, and one which shall meet with your
approbation, we place it in your hands for perusal.
But be assured that not one word has been written in these
pages with the intention of wounding any one's feelings in the least.
Far from it ! We have too much good feeling for those lads who
with us marched through "Dixie," to do anything to give them pain.
Again, hoping you will be pleased with our endeavors we remain
ROBERT M. ROGERS.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
The organization of the Regiment Rendezvous at Danville We*
start for Cincinnati, etc., etc.
Arrival at Cincinnati Camp in the corn-stalk huts at Covington,
Kentucky Incidents of Camp Life, etc., etc.
First night on picket Asleep on post Shooting at Capt. Fellows
by picket Receiving the mules necessary for transportation
Incidents connected therewith, etc., etc.
Down the Ohio to Louisville, Kentucky Arrival of Buell's army
Camp on river bank Removal to the cattle-pen, etc., etc.
Our lessons in soldiering just begun The Brigade formed The ap-
pearance of Louisville at this time Futile endeavors to get
discharged by some of our warriors, etc., etc.
We leave Louisville for the South Foraging Sickness in the regi-
ment First death in Co. B., etc., etc.
I nterview with Sheridan We reach Bardstown Locked up Speedy
release, etc., etc.
VI TABLE OF CONTENTS.
Battle of Perrysville Incidents of the fight The Regiment's
" baptism of fire" First bayonet charge, etc., etc.
Reflections on the battle of Perrysville Arrival at night of the
supply train A ramble over the battle-field Scenes and inci-
dents, etc., etc.
March to Crab Orchard Description of the country Blankets and
knapsacks Missing How Doc. McElroy lost his blanket, etc.
The march to, and arrival at, Bowling Green Relinquishment of
BuelPs command of the army to Genl. Rosecrans Better
hopes First issue of the army hat, etc., etc.
We reach Edgefield Another interview with Sheridan Sales of
coffee, etc , etc.
First inspection New kind of ammunition Our hopes not realized
Description of condition of Nashville as left by the rebel
army, etc, etc.
In camp on the hills Cotton bale breastworks Tents issued to us
Visitors from God's country The theatres Stores and ho-
tels, etc., etc.
Garrison duty at Nashville Battle of Stone River Description of
the battle, etc., etc.
Court Martial in camp The culprit's revenge Corp. Duncan's in-
terview with the captain at the Custom House, etc., etc.
TABLE OF CONTENTS. VII
Arrival of the Pay Master -Emancipation Proclamation We re-
ceive our dog tents, etc., etc.
March to Murfreesboro' Arrive at Lavergne Appearance of Mur-
freesboro' Granger orders some of the boys to be flogged, but
is restrained, etc., etc.
March to Reed's Bridge Run into rebel wagon train Almost trap-
ped The battle of Chickamauga, etc., etc.
Farewell of Genl. Rosecrans " Pap " Thomas assumes command
Caldwell's Ford Scarcity of rations, etc., etc.
An unusual reveille Death of the Chaplain Battle of Missionary
Batjle of Missionary Ridge continued Defeat of the rebels
March to Knoxville, etc., etc.
Assault on Kenesaw Death of the Colonel Visit to the hospi-
tal Scenes connected therewith Incidents of personal bra-
very, etc., etc.
The cracker-box fortification Mining the rebel works Descrip-
tion of Cheatham and Hindman, etc., etc.
The move to the right Marietta evacuated The Union Army
masters north and west of the Chattahoochie, etc., etc.
VIII TABLE OF CONTENTS.
Atlanta Sherman's letter vindicating his order Of the removal of
citizens, etc., etc.
Destruction of Atlanta We start for the sea Occupation of Mil-
lidgeville Joy of the contrabands, etc., etc.
Our stay at Savannah Appearance of the city Chuck-a-luck
Visit to the Wissahicken, etc., etc.
Still at Savannah Oysters and fresh fish Commencement of the
campaign through South Carolina Foraging Destruction of
Columbia, etc., etc.
Cheraw The dash on our cavalry by Hampton Battle of Averys-
boro' and Bentonville Occupation of Goldsboro'.
Again on the move News of Lee's surrender After Johnson " red
hot " The convention for his surrender, etc., etc.
The news reaches us of the death of the President Feeling of the
army Basis of agreement for Johnston's surrender.
The rejection by the Cabinet of the terms Johnston is notified
that Sherman " will move on him in forty-eight hours " Arrival
of General Grant, etc , etc.
The final surrender Arrival at Richmond March to Washington
Departure for Chicago, etc., etc.
TABLE OF CONTENTS. IX
Arrival at Chicago Reception at Union Hall Speeches of T. B.
Ryan, Esq., General Sherman, and Colonel Langley, etc., etc.
Rome. A Confederate Christmas. Bad meat. Public execu-
tion at Nashville. Drawing rations. Blue Ridge. Raids on the
suttler. John Kirsch and Tom Makemson's rice trip. Mrs. Dr.
Mary Walker. The Monkly fox. Roast goose or gander. The
rescued negroes. Our trip after Forrest. Personal mention. Lt.
Geo. Scroggs, Sergt. S. C. Abbott, Lt. John J. White. Our color
Bearers, Asbury D. Finlay, Harvey S. Tryon, Sergt. Wm. L. Thralls.
Resolutions on the Emancipation Proclamation. Resolutions pass-
ed by Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Louisi-
ana. Order announcing suspension of hostilities. Order for Grand
Review at Richmond. General Sherman's farewell order to the
Army. Regimental report of the Atlanta campaign. Regimental
report from the fall of Atlanta to the fall of Savannah. Regimental
report of Colonel Langley from leaving Savannah until the battle
af Bentonville. Regimental report of Captain Cook during and
after the battle of Bentonville, to Goldsboro, N. C. Roster of Com-
missioned Officers. Roster of enlisted men, giving the fate of every
man, if buried in soldiers' cemetery, the number of his grave.
Brigade reports. Lee and Gordon's Mills to Atlanta, Atlanta, Flor-
ence and Savannah, Troublefield Swamps or Bentonville, N. C.
, CHAPTER I.
The One Hundred and Twenty-Fifth Regiment, Illinois Volun-
teer Infantry, was mustered into the service of the United States,
on the third day of September, Eighteen Hundred and Sixty Two,
to serve for three years or during the war. The Regiment was made
up in the counties of Champaign and Vermilion. Champaign fur-
nishing three companies and Vermilion seven. These companies
averaged ninety men each; making a total of nine hundred men,
rank and file. The Regiment came into the field under the call for
" three hundred thousand more," to assist in putting down what had
been familiarly called by some, a " tempest in a tea pot." Four
years of bloody strife, and millions of treasure, proved that it was
the most tumultuous " tea pot tempest," that ever was heard of in
this or any other land. The companies rendezvoused at Danville,
the county seat of Vermilion County, and went into camp on the
old " Fair Grounds," utilizing the sheds and booths that had been
put up there for the exhibition of cattle, sheep, etc. Here it was
that comparative order was obtained out of chaos. The companies
were composed of men in the prime of life, who had, for the most
part, been engaged in farming, and were used to out-door life ; the
best material to make soldiers of that could be procured in any
land. The commander of the Regiment was Oscar F. Harmon, a
young and promising lawyer of Danville ; the Lieut. Colonelcy was
filled by J. W. Langley, of Champaign, who was also a member of
the bar. The Major was John B. Lee, of Vermilion, a civil engineer
by profession ; while from the busy marts of trade came the Adju-
tant, Wm. Mann, of Danville. The Surgeon was John J. McElroy,
of Vermilion ; the Assistant Surgeon, C. H. Mills, of Champaign ;
the Chaplain, Levi Sanders, of Vermilion, while from Champaign
came the Quartermaster, A. M. Ayres. The companies were offi-
cered as follows :
Co. A. Capt. Clark Ralston; ist. Lt. Jackson Charles; 2nd. Lt.
THE I25TH REGIMENT I. V. I. II
Harrison Low ; Enlisted men, eighty-six.
Co. B. Capt.'Robt Stewart; ist. Lt. W. R. Wilson; 2nd. Lt. S.
D. Connover ; Enlisted men, eighty-eight.
Co. C. Capt. W. W. Fellows; ist. Lt. Alexander Pollock ; 2nd.
Lt. Jas. D. New ; Enlisted men, eighty-eight.
Co. D. Capt. Geo. W. Galloway ; ist. Lt. Jas. B. Stevens ; 2nd.
Lt. John L. Jones ; Enlisted men, eighty-six.
Co. E. Capt. N. M. Clark , ist. Lt. W. G. Isom ; 2nd. Lt. John
Urquhart ; Enlisted men, eighty-seven.
Co. F. Capt. F. B. Sale ; ist. Lt. John B. Lester; 2nd. Lt. Al-
fred Johnson ; Enlisted men. ninety-two.
Co. G. Capt. John H. Gass ; ist. Lt. Eph. S. Howell ; 2nd. Lt.
Josiah Lee ; Enlisted men, ninety.
Co. H. Capt. P. M. Parks ; ist. Lt. D. A. Brenton ; 2nd. Lt. J.
C. Harbor ; Enlisted men, eighty-six.
Co. / Capt. Levin Vinson ; ist. Lt. John E. Vinson ; 2nd. Lt.
Stephen Brothers ; Enlisted men, ninety-six.
Co. A'. Capt. Geo. W. Cook ; ist. Lt. Oliver P. Hunt ; 2nd. Lt.
Josepn F. Crosby ; Enlisted men, one hundred and two.
Life in camp at Danville, was passed as camp life usually is. The
regular routine of guard duty, drilling, etc , etc., until one evening
at " Dress Parade," our Colonel informed us that we would break
camp, and leave for Cincinnati on the following day, and that the
number of our Regiment was the One Hundred and Twenty-Fifth.
We had been furnished, while in camp, with everything that was
necessary for a soldier in the field, excepting tents. The arms which
were given us were what were called the " Austrian Rifle," and a
poor arm they were. Some of them were not entirely drilled out,
and any quantity of them had springs that would not snap a cap,
nor on which a bayonet could be fastened without hammering. If
we were merely going out for a picnic or a procession, the Regiment
was splendidly equipped, but if we were bound for the front, it would
have been a matter of little difficulty for a small force of the enemy
to have routed us, unless we were given a chance to use the " butts "
of our guns, for in that shape only would they have been reliable.
At this stage of the war, when the private soldier received but thir-
teen dollars per. month, it was patriotism, and not a desire for wealth,
12 THE I25TH REGIMENT I. V. I.
that filled the ranks of the Union Army. So, with fifes and drums
playing the old tune to which so many have marched to their graves,
" The Girl I left behind me," and with our banners gaily floating on
the breeze, we started for the seat of war. A train of cattle cars
was to be our conveyance, and on them we clambered. The usual
scenes, incident to the departure of a Regiment from home, took
place : wives parting from their husbands, children from their fath-
ers and fathers from their children ; all phases of the human heart
were to be seen there. The lingering clasp of the fond wife, the
last kiss of the children, the hearty hand shake and a " God speed
you. and bring you back safe " of a friend ; the men trying to hide
their emotions with a forced smile or witty saying. But at last " all
aboard," the engine whistled, the bell rang, and amid the cheers of
the crowd, away we went, some to their graves. Oh ! how many? The
rest of us to return at the expiration of the war, for that was the
term of our enlistment. Looking back from this late day, the scenes,
the events, the recollections of that time, are as bright and vivid in
the mind of the writer, as if they had transpired but yesterday. I
know not how it was with other companies in the Regiment, but in
the one to which the writer belonged, only one man showed the
" white feather," at the last moment. He was left laying on the floor
of " Floral Pavilion " in the " Fair Grounds," according to his own
language, " so sick he did not know what to do." He may have
been so, or he may not ; at any rate there was not much sympathy
shown for him. as we marched off leaving him there, the sole inhab-
itant of the place.
We have taken rides on the cars which were much more enjoyable,
much more comfortable, than that night ride from Danville to La-
Fayette. The weather was pleasant, however, and there was a full
moon ; but the cars had no tops, and our eyes were filled with the
smoke and cinders from the engine. We thought it the extreme of
hardship, and an insult to pack us away like dumb brutes, on such
cars ; but before we again saw that road, we had seen the time
we would have been only too glad to have a chance to ride that way.
But we were young, in the prime of life, and our hearts were cheered
with the thought that we were doing our duty, and so with laugh
and song we whiled away the hours until we arrived at Cincinnati.
It was on a Sabbath morning, when our train finally stopped, and
we were ordered to disembark, and fall into line. The weather was
intensely warm. Now, I want to say right here, that if ever I have
to order a Regiment of men into the field, in the summer time, and
that Regiment is bound for a southern climate, I will not think it
necessary to provide them with overcoats, like we were, for we had
them issued to us before we left Danville, and thought we had to
take them. So there we stood in line, the hot sun pouring down his
rays on our heads ; our eyes sore from cinders and the loss of sleep
with our accoutrements upon us, and everybody as illnatured, as
might be expected, and no wonder. Oh ! how slow the moments
went by, it seemtd to us hours, but at last the command rings out
"Attention Battalion," "Take Arms," "Right Dress," "Right
Face," " Forward march," and away we went, the band playing
and the flags flying, across the Pontoon Bridge, over the Ohio, into
the city of Covington, and the "neutral" state of Kentucky.
Marching men, or regulating the gate of a horse to the step of new
recruits, was something our worthy Colonel was sadly ignorant of ?
and it was not to be wondered at, for it was a new business to him.
His horse walked too fast for us, and the consequence was that
when he arrived at our camp he had but a ''corporal's guard" fol-
lowing him. The remainder of the Regiment was scattered like
sheep along the way we had come.
The writer and his partner stopped at what had once been a " Beer
Garden," and on the tables which had once resounded to the clink
of glasses, and which were placed around the. enclosure in the shade
of the trees, we deposited our weary bodies, and wished we were
at home. Without intending to throw any blame whatever, on the
character or motives of our worthy Colonel, covering him with the
excuse that he was totally ignorant of the art of "marching men,"
we must give it as our candid opinion that the march from Cincin-
14 THE I25TH REGIMENT I. V. I.
nati to our camp on the hills back of Covington, did an injury to
the rank and file of the Regiment, from which it never recovered,
and which was the remote cause of death to some, and to others of
lasting injury. Our camp was situated, truly, at a lofty elevation.
We were placed in the Corn Stalk shelters which the " Squirrel Hun-
ters" had occupied when Bragg had threatened Cincinnati with his
forces, and who, at the call of the Governor of Ohio, had flocked
to the standard of the Union, with their squirrel rifles, and their shot
guns, to drive back the rebel hordes, and to maintain the old Flag,
with their life blood if need be. They came from the prairie and the
wood-land, in such numbers that the Governor was compelled to issue
another proclamation, that no more were needed. Into the shelters
which they had made from corn stalks, gathered from the fields con-
tiguous, and which were models of skill and ingenuity, showing that
the American, as a man, is equal to almost any emergency, our Reg-
iment was marched, and quarters allotted to each company. Oh !
those terrible hills, the like we had never seen before. We were
prairie men ; our homes had been in a level country, but here it was
just the reverse, and it seemed to us as if we had ascended to the
very heights. The Ohio rolled beneath us, and from its bosom we
had to procure the water that was necessary for our use. How many
lies were told to get out of the job of carrying water up to camp, or
how many oaths were uttered by those who undertook the job, driven
to it by necessity, the writer cannot pretend to state, but it was a
hard journey, and the consequence was that water became to us, for
once, valuable, and many was the raid that was made, under cover
of the night, to some fellow's mess kettle, that had been filled to
cook his breakfast with in the morning. But we enjoyed it all, after
we had gotten over our march to get there, and soon the camp was
alive with fun and frolic. We had nothing much to do but cook our
food, drill, and police the camp grounds, and occasionally go on
picket ; and so we passed the days away, wondering where we would
go to next, writing letters home and doing all in our power to make
the time pass pleasantly.
Here it was an incident happened that was ludicrous in the
extreme. It was the custom of the picket guard, when returning to
camp every morning, to discharge their guns by volley, under com-
THE 125TH REGIMENT I. V. I. 15
mand of a commissioned officer, at or into the foot (,f the < hill on
which our camp was situated. On this morning, to which we have
reference, the pickets had been relieved and returned to camp, and
as was their custom, had assembled at the foot of the hill to dis-
charge their pieces. At the command of their officer there was a
volley, and from some cause or other the bullets came whizzing over
our heads, filling the air with that buzzing sound, which is so famil-
iar to the old soldier, but which sounds like a death knell to the raw
recruit. What a scattering to and fro there was. when those leaden
missiles came whizzing through the air, what a falling to the ground,
and hugging of mother earth was there witnessed. We thought the
" Johnnies " had come sure enough ; our minds were instantly filled
with the accounts we had read of " surprises," " ambuscades," and
the idea that the enemy were right on hand, seemed to have filled the
minds of many. That scene will never be forgotten by those who
are how living, and who witnessed it. It was a terrible " give-away"
on the courage and soldierly qualities of at least one company in the
One Hundred and Twenty-Fifth Infantry. But we were indeed
" infants " in the art of war. And to have seen what followed when
it was definitely ascertained as to where the bullets came from, was
ludicrous in the extreme. To see a big, brawny fellow who had fall-
en to the ground, to all appearances as dead as a log, raise up his
head and enquire of his nearest neighbor, why he was laying there !
What in thunder was the reason that, if he felt like laying down,
every body else must lay down, too ! ! Get up and leave me alone
now, or I'll hurt somebody ! ! And to see how quietly these pros-
trate forms would assume life and locomotion, and glide away into
their corn stalk huts ; and then at night, after the affair had cooled
down somewhat, to listen, as we sat around our camp fires, to each
one as he described what his sensations were at the time, seems to
us, at this late day, to be just as comical as it was then. But oh !
how they redeemed themselves, in after days, from any stigma of
cowardice this may have cast upon them; how they faced the enemy
and met death as only brave men can, the hearts of those who sur-
vived the fray in the years that came after, can bear witness. All
honor to them, our neighbor boys, our true and tried friends.
But in looking back over the time we staid there on those "ever-
lasting hills," memory recalls to us one stormy night, when neither
moon nor star gave forth its light, when the heavens were draped in
the blackest of darkness, when the wind blew with the force of a
hurricane, and our corn stalk shelters were scattered far and wide ;
when the elements seemed to have combined to extemporize, for us,
an entertainment of the grandest description, but which was to be
enjoyed vastly more by the in-dwellers of good substantial houses,
than we who had for our only covering a roof of corn stalks. But
amid all this dm and clash of the elements, came the order for an
additional force to strengthen the picket guard. It was rumored
about that the rebel Gen. John Morgan was in the neighborhood
and was going to make a dash on our lines. Whether it was the
fact, whether it was a "camp-rumor," or whether it was an honest
alarm, we never found out. But there was the order all the same,
and it must be complied with. The order called for a detail of three
men from each company. The writer and two comrades were the
ones who were called on from Co. "B." Gathering our guns and
accoutrements was but the work of a moment, and away we went to
report at Regimental Headquarters. The night was so dark that
we could not discern our file leader, and so an attachment was made
to the coat tail of the fellow in front. Down the hill we went,
stumbling, and falling, over rocks and clods, until we reached a road.
On this we were stationed, three men on a post, with orders for one
of us to keep awake. The three to which the writer belonged were
stationed at the foot of a large tree: the countersign given us in a
whisper ; the remainder of the detail marched off ; and there we
were ! on picket ! and to our excited imagination the enemy in
countless numbers all around us. The night, as we have before
stated, was intensely dark, but down on this road, at the foot of the
high hills on which we were stationed, the wind did not strike with
THE I25TH REGIMENT I. V. I. 17
such fury, and any unusual noise could be plainly heard. There we
stood at the foot of that large tree, determined, as we agreed among