1862-1865 Illinois Infantry. 73d Regiment.

A history of the Seventy-third Regiment of Illinois Infantry Volunteers : its services and experiences in camp, on the march, on the picket and skirmish lines, and in many battles of the war, l861-65. Embracing an account of the movement from Columbia to Nashville, and the battles of Spring hill and online

. (page 6 of 52)
Online Library1862-1865 Illinois Infantry. 73d RegimentA history of the Seventy-third Regiment of Illinois Infantry Volunteers : its services and experiences in camp, on the march, on the picket and skirmish lines, and in many battles of the war, l861-65. Embracing an account of the movement from Columbia to Nashville, and the battles of Spring hill and → online text (page 6 of 52)
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plined, be prodded, goaded, and persuaded; but he got
in his work pretty well withal. He was the recipient
of many lashes, and bore many stripes; and while the
ways and means of his torture and maltreatment were
various, he had only one mode of redress, and that

often ineffectual. In
his resort to this mode
or method of redress
no drill would have
made him more per-
fect. He was an adept
in that line, a skilled
artist ; superior almost,
at least not inferior, to
the muskets we car-
ried. It was a very

JACK'S DIFFICULTY WITH THE MULE. hftrd j^ one thftt ^

quired much patience and perseverance, to hitch up
and break six raw mules. The mule can hardly be
said to have been a volunteer, except in the matter of
kicking. He had to be drafted, "impressed," and
"conscripted," to do service. The breaking of six
mule-teams was equal almost to a minstrel show;
attracted as much attention; provoked as much merri-
ment, and imparted more knowledge. With a little
help, an occasional lift, and push from the soldiers, the
mule performed his part, which was by no means incon-
siderable, in carrying on the war.





DURING the month of September, 1862, the Confed-
erate forces, under Bragg and Kirby Smith, roamed
pretty much at will over Kentucky. At Richmond,
Munfordville, and other points, smaller bodies of our
troops had been whipped and "gobbled up" by them.
The resources of the State were indiscriminately levied
upon by the enemy ; hogs, cattle, fowl, farm products,
and manufactured articles were collected, appropriated,
and carried off. When Bragg's immense train was
heavily loaded, it was made the chief business of his
army to guard it, bring it up to some point where its
contents would be doled as daily bread to the hungry
Confederates. The spectacle was here presented of
men fighting for a cause, or country, for nothing, and
boarding themselves. Strange as this may now seem,
it was equally strange that the rebel hordes were
allowed to pass beyond the limits of Kentucky with
their booty. While traversing the State, the arms-
bearing or neutral citizens were appealed to by Bragg
to join his army. Women, old and young, were ex-
horted to influence their husbands, sons, and brothers to
flock to the Confederate standard. The sequel shows


that the husbands, sons, and brothers did not join or
flock to any great extent. Kentucky was more
" neutral " perhaps than was suspected by either party
to the contest. On October 1, 1862, the Union army,
under General Buell, was put in motion, and started in
pursuit of Bragg's army, with the purpose, it would
seem, of driving it from Kentucky, not of capturing or
destroying it. The new regiments incorporated into
Buell's army swelled its numbers to nearly one hundred
thousand men. The 73d broke camp, and moved out
with the brigade and division at nine o'clock the morn-
ing of October 1st. The brigade was commanded by
Lieutenant-colonel Liabold, the division by Brigadier-
general Philip H. Sheridan, and the corps by General
C. C. Gilbert.

Delays were frequent during the first day's march.
Our first stop was in the street, before leaving Louis-
ville behind us. Getting under way finally, the halts
were not more frequent perhaps than prudence would
have dictated in the case of new troops not yet accus-
tomed to "foot" traveling. Being on the right of the
army, our column moved southward on the pike, bearing
somewhat to the left, with Bardstown, the county-seat
of Nelson County, as our first destination, that being
the last known or supposed location of the main body
of the " chaps " we were looking for. Two or three
nights and days passed. The turnpike being very hard,
notwithstanding the dust carpet an inch thick, the
weather being warm, the water scarce and impure, made
the march extremely wearisome. The result was fruit-
ful of sore feet and aching limbs, and a unanimous ver-
dict that "Jordan am a hard road to travel." Other
ailments still more disabling were produced, and the


ambulances were in demand. Many guns and accouter-
ments were piled on, or hanged on, the wagons in the
train to relieve the limping and foot-sore soldiers, and
just that much added to or imposed upon the invincible
mules. Many of the men, however, were proof against
the hardships of the march ; came off well, and halted
at night, professing an ability as well as a willingness
to "jog along" for an hour longer. Straggling was in
vogue too, though sought to be prohibited by orders.
Straggling to the rear, as a rule, was of necessity, or
involuntary ; straggling to the front, or either side, was
generally willful, and had for its motive forage, curi-
osity, or adventure. No matter how plentiful or good
Uncle Sam's rations were, or how punctually issued,
something " cabbaged " or foraged from a farm-house
or a barn-yard was a little bit more palatable, and par-
taken of with greater zest and relish. Then, telling
just how the "foraged" provisions were obtained ; detail-
ing the several steps and maneuvers made and the
schemes and tricks resorted to in obtaining them, op-
erated as an appetizer, and served as sauce while de-
vouring the full-sized meal. The advance of the army
overtaking or coming in contact with the rebel cavalry,
and engaging and driving it, perhaps checked the strag-
gling to the front, and foraging to some extent.

By October 6th we had marched some sixty-five or
seventy miles, had left Bardstown some distance in our
rear, and passed Springfield, and were pushing, not only
the cavalry, but the main body of the enemy's infantry.
According to some able critics on this campaign and its
management, the enemy might or should have been
pushed harder, " driven to the wall," or captured,
thereby saving or preventing the battle at Murfreesboro.



The need of more time on the part of the enemy in
which to get his large supply-train out of the way, or
well on the way, and the need or desire on the part of
our army for better water and more of it, and perhaps,
also, a desire to deal the enemy a blow more or less se-
vere, may be reckoned among the causes, if not consid-
ered the real, immediate objects of the battle at Perry-
ville. Whether a collision with the enemy, at Perry-
ville or elsewhere, was a part of General Buell's plan
or not, such collision was precipitated, and a battle
there on October 8, 1862, was the result.

There were a few instances of insubordination in
the regiment while on the march, just prior to the bat-
tle of Perry ville. These we shall not particularize. In
one case we have in mind, a non-commissioned officer
was reduced to the ranks ; in another case, a private
was given to understand that his offense would be for-
given if he carried himself creditably through the ex-
pected battle. In the case we refer to the forgiveness
was fully earned.

Early on the morning of October 8th, the indications
of an engagement were unmistakable. Before the set-
ting of the sun we were to undergo a new trial, be
subjected to a new and a severe test. Feelings stole
over us that can be better imagined than described.
Some of our number would fall, lose their lives before
the day's combat should close ; others would be wounded
and maimed, and compelled to suffer disabilities from
that day on to the end of their lives. Who will
fall ? For whom, and for how many, will this day be
the last of earth ? Who will be maimed and wounded
and have disabilities inflicted upon them ? were ques-
tions which arose, and kept suggesting themselves in


our minds. It was a solemn retrospect and review
of all the past of our lives, and, if possible, a still more
solemn forecast and taking of chances for the future.
We were away from the pike, off roads, and in line
of battle early in the forenoon. We changed position
moved forward, or to the right or left, as the movement
of troops in our front, or to our right or left, neces-
sitated. At about eleven o'clock in the forenoon, the
2d and 15th Missouri Regiments became hotly engaged,
and in less than an hour, lost from forty to fifty men,
mostly wounded. The 44th Illinois and our own reg-
iment were lying in easy supporting distance while the
fighting was going on. After this there was an ad-
vance and a change of position on the part of our
brigade. In making this advance we passed to the
right of the pike, and for a time occupied a position
alongside a stone-fence. Later the 73d was, from
some cause, advanced in line of battle and unsup-
ported across an open field, and for a very brief time
held a position near a rebel battery preparing to open
fire. But little farther off were the rebel infantry.
Had five minutes more elapsed before the hasty with-
drawal of the regiment from this exposed position, the
effect would have been disastrous ; one new regiment
would doubtless have been " gobbled up," and not with-
drawn at all. The withdrawal of the regiment was
not a moment too soon. The placing of the regiment
in this advanced and exposed position was a grievous
blunder ; at least we have never heard, or heard of, any
explanation or reasons that would justify or excuse the
movement. While the regiment was being rapidly
moved to its proper place in the line of battle, the en-
emy had completed his dispositions for an attack ; this


done, he waited not, but opened immediately with his
artillery, which was effectively replied to by our bat-
teries. The 73d was assigned a position in the front
line to the right of the 44th, the 2d and 15th Mis-
souri Regiments being posted immediately to the rear
as supports ; the order of the forenoon, as to our bri-
gade, being thus reversed. Between the right of the
44th and the left of the 73d, a section of battery was
in position ; and near at hand also was the 125th Illi-
nois, ready to meet any emergency that might unex-
pectedly arise. An order was received by Colonel
Jaquess, directing some change in the position of the
73d. The battle was fairly on, and this order being
misconstrued at least not properly executed the reg-
iment was mistakenly conducted several yards to the
rear of the position intended for it to occupy. Under
the circumstances, the two Missouri regiments inter-
preted the hasty move as evidence that the 73d was
panic-stricken. The mistake was soon rectified ; the
73d quickly found and filled its proper place, much to
the surprise and gratification of the Missourians. We
had been slightly engaged just before the mistake
was made.

We became engaged at once, and actively so; the
engagement continued with but slight, if any, abate-
ment for nearly two hours. The losses sustained by
the regiment in the battle of Perry ville fell principally
on the companies near the regimental colors Com-
panies C, I, E, and H. The losses were one killed
and ten wounded severely ; of these, six died sooner or
later. There were several slight wounds, "grazes,"
and " close calls." Of " scares," we probably had as
many as any regiment ever had in an introductory en-


gagement. For the names of the " killed," " wounded,"
and "died of wounds," consult the roster, in chapter i.

The day was nearing its close when the battle
ended, and we rested for the night on the ground
where we had fought our first battle. The conduct of
the regiment in the battle was heartily applauded by
the " old soldiers " of our brigade, especially by the
Missourians. The field in our immediate front, and
farther away, evidenced the fact that we inflicted on
the enemy a heavier loss than we suffered. Prisoners
captured in our front bore testimony to the same fact.
"Aim low," "aim low;" " war means killing," were the
precautions given by the colonel, and emphasized and
insisted upon by the company commanders. Hence it
was that with our " kicking " muskets, plenty of powder,
one large ball, and three small buck-shot at each fire or
discharge we did good execution.

At page 220 of Volume II, of " The American Con-
flict," we find the following description of that part
of the battle of Perryville in which the 73d actively
engaged :

"The charging rebels now struck the left flank of Gilbert's
Corps, held by R. B. Mitchell and Sheridan, which had been for
some little time engaged along its front. The key of its position
was held, and of course well held, by Brigadier-General Philip H.
Sheridan, who had been engaged in the morning, but had driven the
enemy back out of sight, after a short but sharp contest, and had
repulsed another assault on his front ; advancing his line as his assail-
ants retired, and then turning his guns upon the force which had just
driven Rousseau's right. And now General Mitchell pushed forward
the 31st Brigade, Colonel Carlin, on Sheridan's right, and charged at
double quick, breaking, and driving the enemy into and through
Perryville, to the protection of two batteries on the bluffs beyond,
capturing fifteen heavily-laden ammunition wagons, two caissons
with their horses, and a train-guard of one hundred and forty ;



retiring amid the rebel confusion to this side of the town, and thence
opening fire with his battery as darkness came on. . . .

" At six A. M. next day Gilbert's Corps advanced by order to
assail the rebel front, while Crittenden struck hard on his left

flank ; but they found no
enemy to dispute their
progress. Bragg had de-
camped during the night,
marching on Harrods-
burg, where he was
joined by Kirby Smith
and Withers, retreating
thence southward by
Bryantsville to Camp
Dick Robinson, near
Danville. Bragg ad-
mits a total loss in this
battle of not less than
twenty-five hundred, in-
cluding Brigadier-Gen-
erals Wood, Cleburne,
and Brown, wounded;
and claims to have
driven us two miles,
captured fifteen guns,
four hundred prisoners,
and inflicted a total
loss of four thousand. Buell's report admits a loss on our part of
four thousand three hundred and forty-eight nine hundred and
sixteen killed, two thousand nine hundred and forty-three
wounded, and four hundred and eighty-nine missing ; but, as to
guns, he concedes a loss of but ten, whereof all but two were left
on the field, with more than one thousand of their wounded, by
the rebels."

It seems that Bnigg either got all the fighting he
wanted, or was more intent on getting away with his
plunder. Though lightly pressed, his haste was such
that he left over one thousand of his sick at Har-
rodsburg ; also twenty-five thousand barrels of pork


and other supplies at different points. He slipped out
of Kentucky by way of Cumberland Gap into East
Tennessee, destroying on the way many valuable
stores, owing to the roughness of mountain roads and
the- lack of transportation. He finally went into winter-
quarters at Murfreesboro, no doubt expecting to be left
alone for a longer time than he was so left.

The 73d moved early, on October 9th, with the bri-
gade. We did not get entirely away from the battle-
field for a day or two. Opportunity was afforded to
view the field and to seek out the points where the
fight raged the fiercest. At these points many of the
rebel dead were still lying as they had fallen. Had
they been disturbed or handled at all, they would
probadly have been buried. Some appalling sights,
were looked upon. Many who beheld them never
again improved a similar opportunity. This was enough
in that line.

Missing sadly those of our number who had been
taken from our ranks by the chances of battle, we fol-
lowed on, filling the place assigned us in the line of
march, until we reached Crab Orchard. While waiting
at Crab Orchard a number of the regiment who had
been left at Louisville and other points, came up. The
entry in Captain Kyger's diary, under date of October
16th, discloses this fact: "Marched on through Danville,
and camped three miles beyond. Met H. A. Castle,
coming to conduct us to the regiment."

The stop here was not solely for the purpose of
affording rest to the soldiers, but partly to await
developments, and learn the direction we should take
when we next broke camp.

The country about Crab Orchard was hilly and


broken, and farther on, in the direction of Cumberland
Gap, it was still more rough and mountainous. As it
turned out, however, we proceeded no farther in that

Sunday, October 19th, was the last day of our stop
at Crab Orchard. The day was a pleasant one, and
the regiment appeared on dress parade in the afternoon.
The next morning was a bright one, with some frost.
Marching orders were received early, and by seven
o'clock we were ready to move, not knowing where we
were going. Getting started, we marched quite sixteen
miles, and camped on Clark's Creek. On the morning
of October 21st we waited until all the troops and
trains passed us. Being assigned to do duty as rear-
guard, we got under way at ten o'clock, traveled
slowly, and reached Danville, the county-seat of Boyle
County. Resumed the march, taking the pike leading
south-west, to Lebanon, the county-seat of Marion
County. We found it hard work to march sixteen
miles as rear-guard. We went into camp at Rochester
Springs, in Boyle County, at nine o'clock P. M. The
train was nearly seven miles in length, when stretched
out and moving along the pike. Many of our men
struggled some distance in advance of the regiment.
The numerous and sometimes tedious delays, occa-
sioned by the snail-like movement of the train, were
annoying, and exhausted the patience of some of the
boys. On reaching Rochester Springs, we had marched
one hundred and thirty-eight miles since leaving Lou-

We marched twenty miles on Wednesday, October
22d. In the course of the day we left the pike, and
marched across to the Rolling Fork of Salt River.


Located a camp on the south bank of a beautiful
stream, but had a scant supper, on account of the fail-
ure of train to come up. At this camp, which was
seven miles from Lebanon, we remained until October
25th. On October -24th we had battalion drill, and
drew our overcoats.

Started at 6.30, on the morning of October 25th, on
the road to New Market, seven miles south-west of
Lebanon, and nine miles from our starting-point. We
arrived at New Market, and went into camp in the
vicinity at three o'clock P. M. During the day we had
passed through an unproductive country ; the surface
was hilly and rocky, covered with " jack-oak" timber and
some chestnut. Rain fell during the afternoon, but
changed to snow at night. The snow was quite three
inches deep on the morning of Sunday, October 26th.
Being much cooler, on account of the snow, it was found
that by keeping a mess-pan well filled with live coals,
sitting in a tent, much comfort could be obtained. The
day was one of general discomfort ; however, there was
much work done by the officers, although it was Sunday.
Lists were prepared in each company of the regiment,
for roll-call purposes, and to make out morning reports
from. One cause of disappointment was the failure to
receive a mail since leaving Crab Orchard. At nine
o'clock P. M., orders to be ready to march at six o'clock
to-morrow morning were sent around. .Rations were
immediately drawn, preparatory to the march. The
night was a cold one, and corn-stalks were brought into
use, to afford us protection against the severity of the
weather. On the morning of October 27th the ground
was frozen to the depth of an inch. At six o'clock
A. M. we marched out on the Lebanon and Glasgow


turnpike, passing in a south-west direction, not very far
from the Muldraugh Hills, a high range, which traverse
this part of Kentucky. We soon passed into Taylor
County, going through a hard-looking, deserted town,
named Saloma. Our march was continued, and at night
we camped in Green County, all very nearly tired out.
Marched at six o'clock on the morning of the 28th, fol-
lowing the road leading to Glasgow Junction. We
passed through a hilly and an unproductive region, and
one town called Summerville. In the Green River
bottom we came up with other troops, including the
21st, 25th, and 125th Illinois Regiments, and also Gen-
eral Sill's Division. By this date the opinion was
pretty general that our destination was Nashville, Ten-
nessee. When at New Market we were changed, or
transferred, from the corps we had been in (Gilbert's
14th) to McCook's 20th Corps. Our brigade remained
the same as before, however. We camped on bank of
Barren River, the night of October 28th. Next morn-
ing we were up soon after three o'clock, having orders
to march at five o'clock. On this date a heavy mail
was received, the first for many days.

On the 29th we left camp at sunrise, marched twen-
ty-two miles, the longest march made to date, and
camped for the night within five miles of the Mammoth
Cave. On this day's march, many of the men, including
some line officers, were compelled to drop out and fall
behind. Some of the boys who had been straggling in
advance were overtaken.

We remained at the camp of October 29th until the
morning of the 31st. This camp was the same as that
occupied by Bragg's army, when advancing northward,
making its raid. October 30th, our knapsacks and some


other equipage came up from Louisville. Many of the
men took the opportunity and risk of visiting the Mam-
moth Cave.

At night, orders were received requiring us to mus-
ter at 6.30 o'clock the next morning, and march at
eight o'clock. This was the date of the assumption
by General Rosecrans of the command of the Army
of the Cumberland. While at this camp we were
two miles from Glasgow Junction. On the morning of
the 31st we mustered, in accordance with orders, but
did not march until nine o'clock. We moved out on
the road toward Bowling Green, our regiment in
rear of brigade. We passed through a better farm-
ing country than we had for several days. The farms
looked as though they had been well attended to before
the war, but neglected later. Pools of nice, clear water
were found in this part of Kentucky. Many of these
pools, or basins, were of regular formation, the rock
walls, in many cases, being artificially constructed. We
marched seventeen miles the last day of October, and
went into camp ten miles from Bowling Green.

We started on the march at eight o'clock, the morn-
ing of November 1, 1862, our 2d Brigade in front of
division. We found the country improved in appear-
ance as we neared Bowling Green. On our route no
demonstrations of loyalty on the part of citizens were
anywhere to be seen. We reached Bowling Green
shortly after noon, crossed Big Barren River, went down
on the Bowling Green side, and went into camp near the
old rebel fortifications built the previous winter. Some
signs of ingenuity were visible on examining these forti-
fications, but they were, not regarded as being very
strong. We had marched twelve miles to reach this


camp, since leaving our last one, making two hundred and
forty-five miles we had traveled since leaving Louisville.

November 2d and 3d, 1862, we remained in camp.
Pay-rolls were made out, and the time was taken up in
making and receiving calls on and from acquaint-
ances in other regiments. Many who were sick and
unable to march, were sent to the hospitals which had
been established in Bowling Green. This town had
nearly, if not quite, five thousand inhabitants in its
better days. Frank Blue, who formerly lived in George-
town, Illinois, and was acquainted with many members
of Company C, was unexpectedly met at Bowling Green.
Blue was serving as a member of General Rosecrans's
detective force.

We marched at eight o'clock on the morning of No-
vember 4th. We moved out on the pike leading to Nash-
ville, Tennessee. One mile from Bowling Green we
came to Lost River, which, to all appearances, is an
immense spring or body of water, which at this point
bursts from its rocky, subterranean confines, bubbles
forth, and springs to the surface and flows in a strong,

Online Library1862-1865 Illinois Infantry. 73d RegimentA history of the Seventy-third Regiment of Illinois Infantry Volunteers : its services and experiences in camp, on the march, on the picket and skirmish lines, and in many battles of the war, l861-65. Embracing an account of the movement from Columbia to Nashville, and the battles of Spring hill and → online text (page 6 of 52)