Marion Morrison.

A history of the Ninth Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry online

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Co. K. Captain, Geo. B. Poor, July 26th, "

1st Lieutenant, John L. A. Reeves, " " "

" 2d Lieutenant, Jas. C. McCIcry, " " "

After the re-organization of the Regiment, it remained at Cairo. 111.,,
until September 5th, 1861. During this time they were principally
engaged in doing guard duty and drilling. The great matter was to
have men well drilled. War was a now occupation to most of them.
They were men who had been spending their lives quietly at home on
their farms, behind their counters, in their offices, and among their
tools in -the work-shop.. The peaceful walks of life were those they
Were accustomed to tread. When their country was threatened by
those who would destroy it, at the call of that country, they left those
peaceful walks and rushed to its defence. It was new work, and they
must be trained for it. Much patient drill must be passed through.
The officers themselves, many of them, must learn what a military lift
is, and how to do its work. The men must, day after day. endure
the patient drill. They must learn the picket's duty, and how to per-
form it. They must learn that while on picket each picket is. for th*
time being, commander-in-chief of his post. When he cries 'Halt/''
his order is law. No Captain; no Colonel; no General, dare di&obey
it, unless he has his pass or can give^fce "countersign/' A Corporal
in Co. E, once narrated to me his first experience in picket duty. II
was handling his gun rather awkwardly. The officer of the guard
came along and reproved him for his awkwardness. " Let me have
your gun, sir, until I show you how to hold it." Anxious to learn
every part of a soldier's duty, in all the simplicity of his heart, h*


handed his gun over to the officer. "Now, sir, wla^re you going to-
do for your gun ? Suppose I was the enemy, what kind of a fix would
you be in ?" He at once saw the embarrassment of his position. " Did
you ever stand picket before ?" ;i No, sir." ' On that account you are
excusable; but on no other. Never give up your gun again; no officer,
no General has Jany right to it." It was a wholesome lesson. He
profited by it. From that time forward, no man ever got his gun when
on picket.

On the 5th day of September, 1861, the Regiment left Cairo, 111.,
embarked on a steamer and moved up the Ohio River to Paducah, Ky r
Here it occupied the advance position on the Columbus road.

Col. E. A. Paine was promoted to be Brigadier General, SeptembeT
3d, and Lieut. Col. August Mersy being absent. Major Jesse J. Phillips
assumed command of the Regiment.

On the 8th day of September, 1861, Brig. Gen. C. F. Smith relieved
Brig. Gen. Paine of the command at Paducah, and Lieut. Col. Mersy
returned and relieved Major Phillips of the command of the Regiment,

Adjutant Newsham was detached as Acting Assistant Adjutant Gen-
eral, and Quartermaster Pinckard as Acting Assistant Quartermaster,

About the 20th of September. Brig. Gen. Paine was assigned to the
command of the 1st Brigade. This Brigade consisted of the following"
regiments: 9th 111. Inft., 12th 111. Inft., 40th 111. Lift.. 41st 111. Lift,,
Buel's Battery, and Thielmann's Independent Cavalry Battalion. Lieut.
Adam, of Co. A, 9th Regt., was detached as Act. Assist. Adj. Gen. of
the 1st Brigade.

On the 3d day of October, 1&61, Adjutant Nusham was promoted to
be Captain and Assistant Adjutant General, and assigned to duty 011
Gen. Smith's staff.

By this time the boys were getting anxious for a fight. To use &
common expression, they were " spoiling for a fight." They felt thul
now they were ready to fight with and conquer the whole South. Oa
October 15th, 1861, a portion of the Regiment had an opportunity to
try their pluck. Major Phillips, with Companies B, H, and I, filled to
their maximum by details from other companies, with Lieut. Patterson
as aid to commanding officer, moved up the Cumberland River above
Eddyville, where they disembarked. It was ascertained that a detach-
ment of 300 rebel cavalry were in camp at Saratoga. Major Phillip*
moved upon them, surprised and completely routed them; killing from
10 to 15, wounding from 25 to 30, and capturing 20. Major Phillips'
detachment had Capt. Kncffner slightly wounded, and Corporal Greblig
of Co. B, and private Gatcwood of Co. K, severely wounded. It r-


turned to camp on the 16th of October, bringing in the prisoners and
a large amount of captured property.

First Lieutenant John L. A. Reeves, of Co. K, resigned, and his
resignation was accepted October 2d, 1861.

On the 6th day of November, 1861, the 1st Brigade, Brig. General
Paine commanding, moved on the Columbus road to Mayfield Creek,
and bivouacked for< the night. The next day they moved forward to
Milburn, Ky., 31 miles from Paducah, and 11 miles from Columbus,
bivouacked there for the night, and commenced the return march by
daylight on the 8th. Reached camp at Paducah by 2 P. M., of the
9th. This was about the first heavy marching the boys had undergone.
It was very fatiguing. There was a disposition to straggle. To prevent-
it, in the 9th, a rear guard was appointed, which compelled all to keep
their places. This, some of the boys who were very tired, no doubt
thought to be cruel. But the result was, the 9th Regiment carne into
camp in Paducah in splendid order, while the 40th and 41st 111. Regi-
ments seemed to have lost their organization altogether on the return
inarch, and came straggling into camp in small squads, during the entire
days of the 9th and 10th. Gen. Smith issued an order highly com-
mending the 9th for their orderly conduct, and condemning those
Regiments which returned in such disorder. This pleased our boys so
much, that they almost forgot their heavy marching, and there was no
more complaining about rigid discipline.

On the 9th of September, 1861, Capt. John H. Kuhn was appointed
Provost Marshal of Paducah, and his Co. (A) was detached to act as
Provost Guard.

December 2nd, 1861, commissions arrived as follows: For Lieut.
Col. Aug. Mersy to be Colone ; Major Jesse J. Phillips to be Lieuten-
ant Colonel; Capt. John H. Kuhn to be Major; 1st Lieut. Ernil Adam
to be Captain, and 2d Lieut. E. J. Weyrich to be 1st Lieutenant of
Co. A. On the 5th of December, Sergeant Scheel, of Co. F, received
a commission as 2d Lieutenant of Co. A, but was assigned to duty in
Co. D, 2d .Lieut. Bohlen of that Co. having been transferred to Co. A.

Capt. Geo. B. Poor, of Co. K, resigned, and his resignation was ac-
cepted on the 10th of December. First Lieutenant E. J. Weyrich, of
Co. A, resigned on the 25th of December.

Capt. Armstrong, of Co. H, was appointed Provost Marshal, to re-
lieve Major Kuhn, and his Co. (H) relieved Co. A, as Provost Guard,
on the 6th of December, 1861.

On the 15th of January, 1862, the entire force at Paducah, except
the 40th 111., moved towards Yiola, 13 miles, and bivouacked for th


Slight at Hickory Creek. Brig. Gen. C. F. Smith commanded the Di-
vision in person. Col. Me Arthur, of the 12th 111. Inft., was in com-
mand of the 1st 'Brigade, and Brig.. Gen. Lew. Wallace, of the 2d
Brigade. The Division was about 5,000 strong. On the 15th, moved
to Mayfield Creek, 28 miles from Paducah. On the 17th, the command
marched 23 miles to Clark's River, and bivouacked for the night on its
banks. On the 18th and 19th, owing to rain and mud, the command
moved a very short distance. It reached Callow&y Landing, on the
Tennessee River, 20 miles below Fort Henry, on the 22d of January.
Finding no enemy in that vicinity, and none nearer than Fort Henry,
the command returned to camp at Paducah, Ky., arriving there Jan-
uary 25th, 1862. It had marched altogether, during the reconnoisance,
125 miles. The most that was accomplished, was accustoming the men
to hard marches.

Second Lieutenant Wm, Bohlen, resigned, aad his resignation was
accepted on the 31st day of January, 1862. On the same day a com-
mission arrived for private Henry H. Klock, of Co. F, to be 1st Lieu-
tenant and Adjutant, to rank from October 3d, 1861, the date of Ad-
jutant Newsham's promotion.

Major I. N. Cook paid the Regiment up to January 1st, 1862. It
had been previously paid by Major G. P, E. Johnston, to September
1st, 1861.

During the time the Regiment was in camp at Paducah, some inci-
dents of interest occurred. All were longmg fol* an adventure of some
kind. The routine of camp life was becoming wearisome. One day
Major Phillips, of the 9th 111. Inft., and Major McDonald, of the 8th
Mo. Inft., rode outside the pickets. After they had rode out two or
three miles, Major McDonald remembered that he had an old acquaint*
ance living ten or twelve miles out that road. It Was proposed and
agreed upon, that they would ride out and see him. Before reaching
there, they passed where the enemy had their picket fires the night
before. Things looked suspicious. A rebel soldier was seen riding up
to 'a neighboring house. They proposed to go and take him. But
their friend with whom they stopped, insisted on their not doing it,
saying that if any fuss occurred there, they would burn his house at
once, as they were threatening him anyhow, because, of his Union sen-
timents. Dinner was ready in a short time, and they must stay for
dinner. Major Phillips, always disposed to watch rebs. closely, proposed
to stand picket while the rest were eating. He then hurriedly drank a
cup of coffee, and they mounted their horses and started for camp. In
a, short time they saw two cavalry men riding before them. Taking


them to be rebels, they gave them chase. Major Phillips, mounted OR
a splendid horse, soon came close on them. Suddenly they checked up,
wheeled around, and drew their sabres. Before our Major could check
his horse, he was close upon them. With pistol drawn, he inquired
what command they belonged to. The reply was, " Thielman's Cavalry.''
The Major mistook it for Tilman's (Rebel) Cavalry. He inquired the
second time. The same reply came, and he labored under the same
mistake. By this time Major McDonald came fairly up, and they de-
manded the surrender of the two men, and they surrendered. At this
point, they saw a short distance from them, about 25 men coming towards
them. They felt that they were in a close place. Says Major McDonald
to Phillips, " What shall we do with these* two men? shoot them?"
"No; we will take them with us, and if they don't keep up, then we
will shoot thein/ 7 was the reply. Says Major Phillips, "I would give
a horse to be in Paducah." "Paducah!" says one of the prisoners;
"we belong there, too. We are Willson's Dragoons." The mistake
arose from the fact that the Rebels had a band of c.avalry, known as.
Tilman's Cavalry, while the Federals had a battalion of cavalry, known
as Thielman's Cavalry. The prisoners being Germans, the one was
mistaken for the other. This matter explained, their prisoners were
released, and they returned to camp. Having reached camp, Major
Phillips reported to Gen. Smith, when the following interview took place.
I give the substance:

"General." ."Well, Major." "General, having permission to go
outside of the pickets to-day, I gained some valuable information, which
I thought the good of the service required that I should report to you."
" How many men had you, Major ?" " General, "(afraid to confess there
were but two,) "Major McDonald was in command of the expedition."
" How many men had Major McDonald ?" " I was wrUji him." " But,
sir, how many men did you have?" Finding the truth must come, he
replied, "The Major commanded me, and'I commanded him." "Well,
sir, you both deserve to be punished, and if you had shot those two men f
I should have had you both cashiered. But as it is, I will let it pass.
What is the valuable information you have gained ?" "I learn, at a
certain point, a Rebel company is to be organized on to-morrow."
"Well, sir, as you are fond of adventure, you will take a detachment
of forty men, and proceed to that point and disperse or capture them."
But as the next day was very rainy, the expedition was abandoned.

Another incident. Major Phillips and Captain Kuhn rode outside
the pickets late in the evening. After getting outside the pickets, they
saw some fresh wagon-tracks. Captain Kuhn, who was then acting


Provost Marshal, said that there were two wagdn'sjoadcd, that went out,
of which he was suspicious, but that with his instructions he could not
examine them. They concluded to follow them. They had gone but
a short distance until the road forked, and there, were fresh tracks on
each road. The Major took one road, and the Captain took the other.
The Major soon came in sight of them, and pushing on, came up with
them. On inquiring what they were loaded with, he was told that they
were some groceries for a store in the country. Things looking sus-
picious, he procured an ax and broke open some of the boxes, and
found that it was a regular lot of military stores. By this time Captain
Kuhn came up, and after a little consultation, they concluded to let
them go on, and told them that all was right, they could go on. They
returned immediately to town. They had gone out about five miles.
On their return, the Major again presented himself to General Smith.
"General." "Well, Major." "General, Captain Kuhn and myself
rode outside of the pickets, this evening. After getting out a short
distance, we saw wagon-tracks, which were suspicious. We followed
them a few miles and came up with them, and I am satisfied they are
loaded with goods to supply a rebel camp. We did not bring them in,
from the fact that the Captain's instructions, as Provost Marshal, would
not justify him in doing it." "Another of your fool-hardy dashes,
Major." "Yes, General; but I thought the good of the service demand-
ed it." "Well, sir, how many men will you have to bring those wagons
in to-night?" "Five men, General." "Adjutant, make a detail for
five men, to report here immediately for duty." The men came, and
the Major started on his expedition. He overtook the wagons, which
had been driving on all night, and brought them back to Paducah, and
turned them over^ to the Quartermaster.

Still another incident. Citizens were frequently coming into town.
There was not much difficulty in getting in, but they could not go out
again without a pass. One young fellow from Kentucky, having, as h$
supposed, some of the noble blood in him, said he would not apply for
a pass. He said the " niggers" had 'to have passes, and he was not going
to put himself on an equality with " niggers." So he refused to apply
for a pass. After staying in town a few days, he made an attempt or
two to run the pickets, and as a consequence, was put in the guard-
house. After staying in town a month or two, the young nobleman
was compelled to put himself on an equality with the "niggers," and
apply for a pass.

Still another. When out on a scout, at a time when every house
would be guarded as the troops were passing, and not a chicken or goose


must be toucKed, the Quartermaster went into a house to purchase some
chickens for his mess. The woman refused to sell any. "Well," says
he, " we must have something to eat. If you wont sell your chickens,
we will steal your geese." "If I sell you some chickens, sir, will you
swear that you won't steal my geese?" He promised he would. Two
or three chickens were caught for him, and then the old lady got upon
a chair and reached down an old Bible for him to swear on, that he
would not steal her geese. I guess he swore for her, but not very

One more incident. Perhaps on the same scout as the above, it was
suspected that Company K had stolen a goose. Col. Mersy got wind of
it. He addresses Lieut. Col. Phillips as follows: "Col. Phillips, I
tink Co. K steal one coose. You take de charge de right wing, while
I goes to see." The Col. rode off to Co. K, but could find no goose.
He returned to the command, thinking, I suppose, that Co. K was "all
right on the goose."

That day is now passed in the army. As our army now marches
along, the boys Weary and suffering for water, there is not a guard sta-
tioned at every well to prevent their quenching their thirst. When
they are hungry, if chickens and geese are convenient, they are not
interfered with if they try to catch them/ Often have I seen our boy a
coming in from a scout, many of them having a chicken or a goose
swinging at each side of their saddle.

CHAPTER IIL 5 ,.- ; r ...


Preparations for opening the Cumberland, Tennessee and Mississippi
Rivers^-Fort Henry taken Fort Donelson taken Part taken by
9th Ills., number killed and wounded-^ List of killed and wounded
Trip to Nashville and back Incidents.

At the opening of the year 1862, it was becoming evident that to
flrush the "hideous monster" rebellion, would require a great effort on
tne part of the government. While our armies were being raised and
disciplined, the rebels were planting themselves firmly at many points
in the South-west, as well as the East. Columbus, Island No. 10,
Memphis, Vicksburg, Port Hudson, and other points on the Mississippi
River, were being strongly fortified. Fort Henry and Fort Donelson
were fortified, and commanded the entrance of the Cumberland and
Tennessee Rivers. General Fremont had urged the early occupation


of these points, before the enemy should fortify them. But for some
reason, (I suppose a good one on the part of the government,) the enemy
were allowed to make these points strong-holds. Magnificent prepara-
tions were making, however, to take possession of these rivers, by the
government, as great national thoroughfares. Gunboats, floating bat-
teries &c., were being built with that view. These were brought to
bear, early in 1862, on the work of opening the Cumberland and Ten-
nessee Rivers, and dislodging the enemy of their strong-holds on these
rivers. A heavy land force must of course co-operate with the fleet. In
this work, the 9th 111. Lift, was destined to act a conspicuous part.
The material for the greater portion of its history is found in the part
it has taken in subduing the rebellion in Tennessee, Mississippi and
Alabama. At Cairo and at Paducah its work of discipline had been
carried on until it was well prepared for meeting the enemy on the field,
It left Paducah, a large and well-drilled Regiment.

On the evening of February 4th, 1862, Companies A, B, C, D and E,
under command of Col. Mersy, struck tents at Paducah, and embarked
on board the steamer ''Wilson/' with camp and garrison equipage.
This wing of the Regiment moved up the Tennessee River the same
night, and reported to Brig. Gen. John A. McClernand at Brown's
Landing. The remainder of the Regiment, (except Co. H, Provost
Guard,) under command of Lieut. Col. Phillips, came up on the steamer
*' B," on the evening of the 5th February. The two wings of the Regi-
ment formed a junction on the left bank of the Tennessee River, five
miles below Fort Henry, on the night of the 5th. They moved up the
river towards Fort Heiman, on the 6th, reaching and occupying the
Fort the same night. Brig. Gen. Smith's Division had left Paducah,
and passed up the river to this point. They did not reach here in time
to participate in the engagement. Fort Henry was reduced by the
gunboats alone, none of the infantry taking part in the engagement.

"\Yhen Fort Henry surrendered, the enemy quartered at Fort Heiman
evacuated the place, leaving behind them all their camp and garrison

Brig. Gen. Smith's Division was ordered to move across the river and
garrison Fort Henry, on the 7th. But the heavy rains had swollen the
Tennessee River to such an extent that it was impossible to reach the
boats, in order to cross. Hence, a Division already on that side of the
river was assigned to that duty.

It was the high stage of water, and the consequent difficulty of land*
ing, that prevented the land forces from co-operating with the gunboats
in the attack against Fort Henry. Had they been permitted to co-


operate as designed, they would have been able to cut off the retreat
of the enemy, and capture the whole force. This would have prevented
the reinforcement at Fort Donelson, and made the engagement there
less sanguinary. But perhaps the victory would not have been any
more complete than it was.

The enemy that had evacuated Forts Henry and Heiman fell back
and strengthened Fort Donelson. The next thing in the programme,
was to reduce Fort Donelso'n. The gunboats consequently were to
descend the Tennessee River and ascend the Cumberland, while the
land forces would march across the country, only twelve miles, and
attack in the rear. In accordance with this plan, Gen. Smith's Division,
still camped on the opposite side of the river, on the 12th of February,
1862, crossed the river with two days' rations, and no transportation,
and moved towards Fort Donelson and bivouacked for the night about
four miles from that place. At 11 o'clock at night, moved forward
again, two and a half miles further, and bivouacked. . At 11, A. M.,
of the 13th, moved forward to support McAllister's Battery, remaining
here until 2, P. M. At this hour, McArthur's entire Brigade, (the
one to which the 9th 111. belonged,) were ordered to the left of McCler-
nand's Division, to prevent a flank movement of the enemy on his left.
The Brigade remained here until night, when it moved one-half mile
further to the right. Company A, Capt. Adam commanding, was de-
tached at this place, to support a battery, and Lieut. R. B. Patterson,
of Co. E, was ordered with Co. A.

On the evening of the 13th, from having been warm and pleasant
when they left camp, the weather changed and became extremely cold,
Rain, sleet and snow fell alternately during the night. No fires were
allowed. Hence, they suffered much from cold.

At midnight, a heavy volley of musketry was fired in front of Col.
McArthur's Brigade. We were immediately ordered into line, and moved
three-quarters of a mile further to the right, occupying a position in
Gen. McClernand's Division and reporting to him.

The Brigade was moved again on the 14th, to the extreme right of
our line, reaching that point after dark. The 41st 111. occupied the
extreme right, and the 9th 111. next. At daylight of the 15th,. the
enemy made a furious attack on this part of Gen. McClernand's line.
The 9th and 41st 111. Regiments moved forward one hundred yards,,
to a high ridge, from which they held the rebel columns in check.
The 9th moved forward to the ridge in echelon, the 41st in line of
battle. At the second onslaught of the enemy, the 41st broke and fell
back, and the 12th 111. promptly occupied their place. The 9th Regi-


raent held its position for two and a half honrs r when all Its supports
on the right and left giving way, and its ammunition being exhausted,
it fell back, slowly and iu good order. The enemy did not press OUT
front, but moved vapidly on our right flank. So rapid was their
movement in this direction, that twice we were compelled to halt and
make demonstrations to prevent their charging us. About 11 o'clock,
A. M., the Regiment passed through the second line of battle, received
-a new supply of ammunition, and moved to. the left aad rejoined Gen.
Smith's Division, to which they properly belonged.

On the morning of tke 16th, the 9th Regiment was ordered forward
to complete 'the work so gallantly begun by the 2d Iowa Inft. on the
previous day. .That liegiment had charged the rebel breastwork?,
and in part taken possession of them. To make another charge, and
completely drive them out, was the work assigned to the 9th for this
day. But before the final order to charge was given, the enemy sur-
rendered unconditionally. The, 9th 111. Inft. and the 2d Iowa Inft,
were granted the honor of first marching into the outer works of the
enemy. On entering the works, the 9th 111. took charge of the follow-
ing rebel regiments: The 14th Mississippi, 32d, 14th and 18th Tenn-
essee, and 2d Kentucky, in all about 2,000 men.

The 9th 111. went into the fight, on the 15th, with about 600 men
reported for duty. Its loss during the action was, 35 Idlled on the field,
160 wounded, and 6 taken prisoners. Most of those taken prisoners
"were wounded and unable to fall batek with the Regiment. Companies
A and II were not engaged in the fight. Company H had been left as
Provost Guard at Paducah, and Company A, as mentioned above, had
foeen detached on the night of the loth to support a battery, and had

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