Samuel H Fletcher.

The history of Company A, Second Illinois Cavalry online

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to our regiment, the Third Michigan and the
Fourth Wisconsin, those innocent recepta-
cles seemed to become suddenly endowed
with life, became mysteriously filled with
powder and succeeded in burying themselves
in a kind of under-ground cordon around
that church. The first course had scarcely
been served and the banqueters were just
enjoying their whiskey and other appetizers,

Second Illinois Cavalry 165

when the cans registered a protest. The
opening of the ground around that sanctu-
ary was suggestive of the resurrection morn.
The officers rushed out of the room in the
wildest confusion. Persistent inquiry failed
to develop the cause. After fruitless efforts
they went back to finish their collation and
had barely begun to taste the good things
again, when the cans once more showed their
cantankerousness. Pandemonium broke
loose with ten times more din than ever. The
banquet was called off and the officers or-
dered to their respective companies to "pre-
serve order." It had its effect. The men
were as demure as monks in a monastery.
While perfect order was preserved by them,
an astonishing amount of disorder was still
"preserved" in the oyster-cans and the pre-
serveslike all preserves subjected to too
much warmth continued to "work." From
that time on, all through the night, the mys-
terious process went on. The hint was ef-
fectual. There were no more officer's ban-
quets in the presence of the ill-fed and dis-
satisfied men.

On the ninth of July, 1865, we left Shreve-
port and took up our long and tiresome
march of six hundred miles to San Antonio,

166 History of Company A

Texas. Through Louisiana it was not espe-
cially trying; but when we reached Texas
and were obliged to travel over barren
wastes, frequently as far as sixty miles with-
out finding a drop of water, it seemed unen-
durable. A tropical mid-summer sun burned
its way through the sky and onto the dusty,
treeless plains until the heat-waves quivered
upon the horizon like a blast from a furnace.
Horses and men suffered intensely. One
stretch of about one hundred miles east of
Austin was especially trying. It was a con-
tinuous test of endurance from the time we
left Shreveport until we arrived at San An-
tonio, thirty days later. During the march,
small towns were sometimes passed where
Confederate companies turned over their
arms to our command.

Upon our arrival at San Antonio, there
appeared to be nothing to do but to wait.
Aside from inspection and drills, the men
idled in camp until they became so discon-
tented and homesick that many deserted.
Most of these were fine men and good sol-
diers but poor loafers. Nobody blamed
them. All realized that the war was over
and were looking for discharge. Instead of
that we had been sent hundreds of miles

Second Illinois Cavalry 167

over a barren waste to the frontier under
most trying and discouraging conditions.
Why was all this senseless wandering? We
did not know. We were not aware that se-
cret history was being made and that we
were instrumental, as a result of these ap-
parently meaningless acts, in saving the na-
tion a second time. We did not know that
our country was upon the verge of a foreign
war, and that Napoleon the Third, anxious
to regain the Louisiana Territory, which the
First Emperor in his dire need had sold to
us for a song, had been making elaborate
preparations for war; and, believing our
people to be exhausted, as they appeared to
be, by one of the greatest conflicts of history
and torn by internal strife, would be unable
to make more than a feeble defence, had
chosen this moment to strike. We did not
know that our government was then under-
going one of the most trying ordeals of its
existence. Later developments showed that
the sudden mobilization on the frontier of
an army of tried veterans, ready if neces-
sary, to fight another war, made the foreign-
ers gasp. France and Austria and Maximil-
lian quietly subsided and the map of the
United States required no revision.

168 History of Company A

About the tenth of November, 1865, the
order came to muster out the Second and
Tenth Illinois and the Fourth Wisconsin
Cavalry. It was the signal for a jubilation.
The yells of ten thousand Indians would
have been " audible silence" compared to
the noise made by those four regiments. The
Tenth Illinois sutler rolled out four barrels
of whiskey and broke in the heads. Tin
cups, camp-kettles, canteens and every
liquid holding thing was used for its distri-
bution. How many were drunk I know not.
Men indulged who never tasted the stuff be-
fore; and, strange to say. the whole thing
took the form of a good natured frolic.
Horse-play, clownish tricks, songs, practical
jokes all were taken as a part of the fun.
Had we realized what we had been there for,
we might have been heard in France.

Instead of sleeping in tents, the men had
previously procured raw cow-hides which
they made into hammocks and stretched in
the trees. Each cow-hide served as a ham-
mock for two and some trees would have five
or six in a tier. As the boys became tired of
celebrating they would slip off to bed; but
they could not escape the watchfulness of the
others who would wait until they could get

Second Illinois Cavalry 169

a tree full, when some sly rascal would climb
the tree, cut the thongs and the whole com-
bination would come down in a heap; the
victims apparently enjoying the joke as
much as the jokers. I have never seen
drunken men retain their good nature as
they did on that occasion.

On the 24th of November, 1865, we were
mustered out. I remained in Texas to aid in
settling up the Quartermaster's accounts but
was obliged to return North on account of a
severe attack of ague and arrived at Ro-
chelle on the 21st of March, 1866.

In the meantime, there had been a general
exodus of soldiers from the South to their
northern homes and the transportation lines,
particularly the river steamers, were crowd-
ed with them. The feeling among those who
represented the lost-cause, was intensely bit-
ter and no Union soldier was safe anywhere
in the South. A secret organization known
as "The Knights of the Golden Circle," was
charged as being responsible for many as-
sassinations and other outrages. It was sig-
nificant of conditions, that boiler explosions
and other "accidents" occurred to a num-
ber of river steamers all upon homeward
voyages and all loaded with discharged Un-

History of Company A

ion soldiers. The most appalling of these
was probably that of the " Sultana" which
was lost at a point about fifty miles above
Memphis on its passage up the Mississippi.
While in midstream the boiler exploded
caused, it was believed by an explosive se-
cretly placed in the fuel and nearly all of
the passengers, numbering about fifteen
hundred, mostly discharged soldiers, were

Among the victims of the disaster was J.
A. Butterfield of Company A, whose home
was in Oregon, Illinois. Butterfield had just
been admitted to practice at the Oregon Bar,
when the war broke out. He enlisted at the
organization of the Company in Oregon, was
present at the first election of officers and
served earnestly and faithfully during the
term of his three years enlistment, after
which he was appointed as chief citizen clerk
for a Division Quartermaster at a consider-
able salary. At the close of the war he re-
signed his position and started home with
the intention of announcing his candidacy
for Sheriff of Ogle County. His body was
never recovered. It was known that he had
a large sum of money in his possession which
would have been a great aid to the depend-

Second Illinois Cavalry 171

ent mother and sister whom he left behind.
Butterfield was a brave and manly soldier
and a general favorite with the members of
his company.

Bitter as was the feeling against the
Northern soldiers, it did not approach in
vindictiveness and malignant hatred, that
which existed against Southern men who
fought upon the Union side. There were
two Southerners in our company : John S.
Elder and James Neiley whose experiences
were typical of those of thousands through-
out the South. Elder was a native of Ten-
nessee. About three years before the war
he migrated with his parents to Denton
County, Texas. His father was a staunch
supporter of the Union and did not hesitate
to announce his principles. His attitude
was well known in the community where he
lived and as partizan feeling increased, he
became a marked man. At the outbreak of
hostilities, he was called to Austin and was
never afterwards seen by his friends. While
there was no proof as to the cause of his mys-
terious disappearance, circumstances point-
ed to but one conclusion. To his family, no
proof was necessary: they knew what had
happened. Shortly after the father's loss,

172 History of Company A

John, an only son, was forced into the Con-
federate service. He was discreet and bid-
ed his time. At the battle of Prairie Grove,
he escaped, made his way into the Union
lines and succeeded in reaching St. Louis.
This was shortly after the battle at Holly
Springs, at which a portion of the Second
Illinois Cavalry gained wide distinction by
refusing to surrender to greatly superior
numbers. Elder was looking for a chance
to fight by the side of fighting men. Seeing
in the St. Louis papers a graphic account of
the Holly Springs incident, he immediately
embarked for Memphis in the hope of find-
ing the regiment. He was too late however
and went on to the vicinity of Vicksburg
where he was informed that Company A was
with General Logan at Lake Providence.
Arriving at the latter place, he presented
himself to Captain Hotaling with whom he
had a long conference. Hotaling was strong-
ly impressed by Elder's bearing and words
and the conference resulted in his immediate
enlistment. The new recruit proved to be a
valuable acquisition. He was a skillful
horseman, an unerring shot, always cheerful
and courteous, ready to perform the most
arduous duty and, withal, fearless.

Second Illinois Cavalry 173

Shortly after his enlistment the company
started upon the campaign in the rear of
Vicksburg. Elder was wounded at the Bat-
tle of Port Gibson during the first day of
the campaign but went on with the command
and participated in every hardship and en-
gagement until the surrender of Vicksburg.
He was with the company in all of its cam-
paigning in Louisiana and was one of the
twenty-two who re-enlisted at New Iberia.
Debarred from his home, he was adopted by
the veterans of the company as a "war or-
phan"; and, when veteran furloughs were
granted, accompanied his comrades to the
North where he was the subject of universal
sympathy and generous hospitality.

Elder returned with his friends to the
front and remained a valiant, fearless fight-
er to the end. During the last fight in which
the company was engaged, which occurred at
Fort Blakely, a charge was made upon the
Confederate works. The latter were protect-
ed by an abatis in which torpedoes were
placed and so connected by wires that an ab-
normal tension upon a wire would cause an
explosion. Elder was mounted upon a fine
horse which ran against one of these wires
directly over a torpedo. The explosion

174 History of Company A

which followed tore the horse into shreds,
but, owing to the intervention of its body,
did not kill but only served to stun the rider
who soon recovered from the shock.

When the regiment was mustered out at
San Antonio, Texas, Elder wished to go
home and visit his mother ; but upon the ad-
vice of friends and some old citizens of San
Antonio, he gave it up as involving too great
a risk and accompanied his comrades to Ro-
chelle, where he remained until the follow-
ing spring when his anxiety to see his mother
caused him to return to Texas. It was a
fatal step. As soon as his presence became
known, a party of ex-Confederates assem-
bled at night, surrounded the mother's
house, captured the son, hanged him to a
tree and riddled the body with bullets.

James Neiley who was reared in western
Louisiana had a similar experience. He
found his way into the Union lines during
the Red River Expedition, and upon the re-
turn of General Banks' Army, enlisted in
Company A. Neiley was quite young but
proved himself an excellent and faithful sol-
dier, was liked and respected by all of his
comrades, and served with credit to the end
of the war when he went to Rochelle with the

Second Illinois Cavalry 175

others. In the following year he returned
with Elder and went to his home near Alex-
andria, Louisiana, where he had been about
a week when he met with the same dreadful
fate that had been meted out to his friend.

And so perished two manly souls victims
to the terrible aftermath of war. Can there
be compensation for such unspeakable atroc-
ities which take the best and leave the
worst? It may be; but this is a grist for
"the mills of the Gods" to grind.

And now my tale is told. My sole excuse
for telling it is that others, who might have
done it have not made the attempt, and but
few are left. I offer no apology for its cru-
dities, imperfections or omissions. I am con-
fident that our Company engaged in not less
than a hundred skirmishes and encounters
of which I have made no mention. The space
which should have been allotted to it in the
Red River Expedition is almost a blank. My
silence as to many individual deeds of valor
and self-sacrifice has not been intentional. I
would gladly have called the roll and enum-
erated them one by one, for it would have
been a roll of honor of which all might be
justly proud.

The worth of my story, if it has worth,

176 History of Company A

lies in what it has preserved to the world as
worthy. If it be interesting at all, it is be-
cause it has been done as a work of love in
an attempt to do justice to, and to preserve
some faint memory of a handful of men who
were typical of that great host some of
whom gave all and all of whom risked all,
for a cause which has struggled towards the
light since the first man gazed longingly and
reverently at the stars.

In the outcome of the great struggle, both
sides won an equal victory, our friends, as
the liberators of a race, our foes as the lib-
erated from a degrading curse; a success
and a defeat which made victor and van-
quished alike the beneficiaries of a great in-
heritance; an inheritance, sanctified by a
higher hope and a broader love; an inher-
itance founded in the conviction of the regal
souls of the past that that for which man
has so long wrought amid travail and pain
and joy and woe and sighs and tears and
blood, " shall not perish from the earth,"
but that this nation shall be its sponsor and
its incarnation and may say to all the lands
of the earth, "Right is eternal; it must and
shall reign; 'Your people shall be my
people.' "

Second Illinois Cavalry 177

"Here shall a realm rise
Mighty in manhood."

It has not fully arisen yet and many watch-
ers are losing faith in view of the subtle and
dangerous perils which now beset it. Those
causing them may triumph for a time but
they are sowers of dragon's teeth which will
rise up as armed men to their defeat. The
universe is not a blunder; there is a power
in it which makes for right ; and the finger
wielded by that power, has always pointed
and still points to the Morning Star.

"Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong

forever on the throne,
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and

beyond the dim Unknown
Standeth God within the shadow, keep-
ing watch upon His own."


/COLONEL Silas Noble was born in Great
^ Barrington, Massachusetts, on Febru-
ary 19th, 1808. But little is known of his
early history, further than that he read law,
and at the age of twenty-six, was admitted
to practice in his native town. In the fol-
lowing year he moved to Towanda, Pennsyl-
vania, where he continued the practice of his
profession until 1841, when he emigrated to
Dixon, Illinois, then a frontier town known
as Dixon 's Ferry. In 1846 he was elected
State Senator and served one term. In 1853
he established a private bank in Dixon
known as "S. Noble & Co." In connection
with this business he continued the practice
of law until the breaking out of the Rebel-
lion in 1861. When the second call for
troops was made by President Lincoln Mr.
Noble offered his services to Governor Yates,
by whom he was appointed Colonel of the
Second Illinois Cavalry, and on July 21st,
1861, was mustered into service.

Colonel Noble was a warm personal friend
of President Lincoln, who often visited him
at his home and with whom he practiced his

180 History of Company A

profession. At the time of Lincoln's inaug-
uration the Colonel accompanied him on
his trip from Springfield to Washington.

Colonel Noble remained with the main
body of the Regiment, which made an ex-
pedition with General C. F. Smith towards
Fort Henry; and it was upon the informa-
tion thus obtained that the campaign was
decided upon which ultimately led to the
capture of Forts Henry and Donelson.

The regiment was engaged in many scout-
ing expeditions and other movements under
the leadership of its first commander, but
took part in no important battles. On one
occasion, with 350 men, Colonel Noble took
the advance of a recognizance in force from
Bolivar to La Grange, Tennessee, and ob-
tained much valuable information. He was
mustered out of the service on February
16th, 1863, shortly after which he met with
a severe accident from which he never fully
recovered. Four years later, on February
3rd, 1867, he died at his home in Dixon, Ill-
inois, from an acute attack of pneumonia.
Colonel Noble had a wide acquaintance and
was highly honored in his home community
and by all who knew him.




TTARVEY Hogg was a native of Tennes-
* * see, having been born at Carthage,
Smith County, in that state on September
14th, 1833. His parents were of Scotch de-
scent. The mother died when he was about
three years of age. Afterwards, the father
remarried. He lived but a short time, how-
ever, and died in 1840, leaving Harvey and a
half-brother, Grant A. Hogg, in charge of
the widow. The boy was carefully reared
by his step-mother and given the best school-
ing available, preparatory to a college
course. He took the lead in his class at Em-
ory and Henry College, Virginia, where he
won a prize-medal for oratory and was aft-
erwards graduated at the law-school at Leb-
anon as valedictorian of his class.

He was married at Clarksville, Tennessee,
in 1855, and in a short time removed to
Bloomington, Illinois, where he was admit-
ted to the Bar and soon obtained a recog-
nized standing as a young lawyer of ability
and promise. For several years he held the
position of City Attorney and was, later,

182 History of Company A

elected Prosecuting Attorney for that judi-
cial district, which position he filled with
honor, ability and dignity.

As a native of Tennessee, Colonel Hogg
inherited slaves, but was opposed to the in-
stitution. As a student in one of the Vir-
ginia colleges, he chose as the subject of a
thesis, "The Evils of Slavery. " This
aroused the indignation and opposition of
the faculty ; but the young man insisted that
he should "speak his honest convictions or
not at all," and he did. Upon leaving Ten-
nessee, he freed his last slave.

From the time of his advent in Illinois,
he took a warm interest in the slavery ques-
tion, aided in the formation of the Repub-
lican party, and in 1856, canvassed McLean
County for "Freemont and Freedom." In
the senatorial contest of 1858, he supported
Lincoln as against Douglas and used his ut-
most efforts for the election of the latter as

Colonel Hogg was a popular anti-slavery
speaker. His intimate familiarity with
slavery, his love for and understanding of
the Southern people and his appreciation of
their entanglement with that blighting in-
stitution, enabled him to present his side of

Second Illinois Cavalry 183

the case with great fairness, force and con-
viction. Governor Yates was so strongly
impressed with his ability that, upon the
organization of the Second Illinois Cavalry,
he tendered him the position of Lieutenant
Colonel. It was at once accepted, and on
July 24th, 1861, he was mustered into the

While his regiment was stationed in Ten-
nessee, Mrs. Hogg went there to be near him,
but died soon after her arrival. This was a
severe blow to her husband who was devot-
edly attached to her.

During the winter of 1861-2, the regiment
was stationed at Paducah, Kentucky, where
much scouting was done. On the night of
March 2nd, 1862, Lieutenant Colonel Hogg
with two hundred men, started out in an at-
tempt to reconnoiter Columbus, Kentucky.
Upon the following day they learned that
the place was being evacuated. Reaching it
about sundown, they dashed into the town
with drawn sabers and ran up the stars and
stripes. Several large guns and a consider-
able quantity of military stores were se-
cured. Upon the following day, General
Sherman, with a fleet of gunboats and trans-
ports and three regiments of infantry,

184 History of Company A

steamed carefully down the river and was
surprised to find the place in possession of
the Union forces.

On March 31st, 1862, Colonel Hogg, with
two companies of his regiment, took part in
an expedition under General Quimby in the
neighborhood of Union City, Tennessee, in
which they dispersed a Confederate brigade,
destroyed its camp-equipage and captured
fourteen prisoners and a considerable quan-
tity of stores.

On July 4th, 1862, at Trenton, Tennessee,
Colonel Hogg delivered an address to the cit-
izens of that place and vicinity which pro-
duced a marked effect upon those who were
in doubt and did much to aid the Union

This valiant soldier met his death at the
battle of Bolivar, Tennessee, on August
30th, 1862. Colonel M. D. Leggett, of the
78th Ohio, being at that place, was attacked
by a large force of Confederates, including
the Second Missouri Cavalry, commanded
by Colonel Robert McCullough and the First
Mississippi Cavalry, of which Colonel
Hogg's half brother, Dr. Grant A. Hogg,
was surgeon. The following report of the
battle is given by Colonel Leggett :

Second Illinois Cavalry 185

"The infantry reinforcements had not arrived. The
balance of the Seventy-eighth Ohio was reported close
by, but not near enough to support the artillery, hence
it could not be used. At this point, Lieut. Col. Har-
vey Hogg, of the Second Illinois Cavalry, came up
with orders from you to report to me upon the field
with four companies of his command. I immediately
assigned him a position upon the right of the road, but
discovering that the enemy would probably make a
cavalry charge upon us before Colonel Force could
reach me from Van Buren Road, I asked Colonel Hogg
if he could hold a position on the left of the road and
a little to the front of where he then was, against a
charge from the rebel cavalry. He promptly said he
could and besought me to give him the position, which
was done.

"He had not completed his change of place before
the enemy charged down the line of the road in vast
numbers, but meeting the deadly fire of the four in-
fantry companies under command of Captain Chandler,
they were compelled to retreat, leaving many of their
men and horses strewn upon the ground.

"They twice repeated their attempt to get possession
of the road and were both times repulsed by the com-
panies under Captain Chandler. Then they threw
down the fences and entered the field upon our left and
opened fire upon Colonel Hogg's cavalry and the two
companies of the Twentieth Ohio attached to Captain
Chandler's command. The infantry and cavalry re-
turned the fire briskly and with terrible effect. I then
discovered that a full regiment of cavalry was form-
ing in the rear of those firing upon us, with the de-

186 History of Company A

termination of charging upon our cavalry and that
portion of the infantry on the left of the road. I
said to Colonel Hogg if he had any doubt about hold-
ing his position he had better fall back and not receive
their charge. He promptly replied: 'Colonel Leg-
gett, for God's sake don't order me back.' I replied,
'Meet them with a charge, Colonel, and may Heaven
bless you.' He immediately ordered his men to draw
their sabers, and after giving them the order to 'For-

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Online LibrarySamuel H FletcherThe history of Company A, Second Illinois Cavalry → online text (page 9 of 11)