part of a volume entitled Fifteen Years Ago: or the Patriotism of Will County by George H. Woodruff
Submitted by Merryann Palmer, email@example.com, to whom every reader should be grateful.
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We have given some account of the enlistment and organization of the 100th regiment in our Home Record, and of its departure from Joliet. As Part Four of this work will give a full roster and muster roll of the entire regiment, no further detail is needed.
The regiment broke camp at twelve o'clock of Tuesday, Sept 2d, 1862, with 39 commissioned officers and 868 enlisted men, and took up its line of march for the C., A. & St. L. R.R. depot, where a train of twenty cars was waiting to convey them to Springfield. All the city, and thousands from the surrounding country, and from all parts of Will county, had assembled to witness their departure, as we have elsewhere recorded. The train left the depot at 3 p.m., and arrived at Springfield the next morning. Here their destination was changed from St.Louis to Louisville, and they proceeded on the G.W.R.R. eastward. At Lafayette, Ind., the citizens, having been apprized of their approach, had prepared to give the boys a warm reception. They met them at the depot, armed with baskets full of all kinds of eatables and drinkables, with which they assailed the 100th in most gallant style. But the boys came off conquerors, devouring everything before them, and closing the engagement with three rousing cheers for the Hoosier lads and lasses, when the train rushed on for Indianapolis.
At almost every station, the train was fired upon with apples, peaches, flowers, &c., a kind of warfare that pleased the boys hugely. They crossed the Ohio at Jeffersonville, and marched through Louisville, up Main street, past the Gault House, singing "We'll Hang Jeff. Davis on a Sour Apple Tree," and "John Brown's Soul." &c. They were warmly welcomed, especially in the German quarter of the city, with waving of flags and handkerchiefs, and cheers. At one corner a lady made a short speech by way of welcome. They passed out about two miles beyond the city, and went into camp.
Here the regiment received arms and accoutrements, and the balance of the day was spent in arraying themselves in the full rig of the soldier. They were also supplied with sixty rounds of ammunition. Louisville was then enjoying a big scare, martial law was declared, and some were crying "good Lord," and some "good devil," not knowing whether they should fall into the hands of Buell or Bragg, who were racing across the state - with Louisville for their goal. The men, having ridden 500 miles without rest, were very tired, and not having yet received regular rations, were also hungry. Some pie and cake peddlers made their appearance, to the great joy of the boys, and would have soon sold their entire stock, had not some wiseacre suggested that the secesh had heard of the terrible 100th, and that these peddlers might be rebel spies, and their pies and cakes were probably poisoned! This suggestion put an embargo on the pie trade - it was so probable!
The 100th now found themselves placed on duty at once. They were to play war no more. At 9 P.M., instead of turning in for a good night's rest, they were drawn up in a line of battle, pickets stationed, and the rest ordered to sleep on their arms. About half-past eleven, just as they were getting into a comfortable snooze, the call"fall in" was sounded, and they were formed in line again, and then marched through the silent city, and out on the Beardstown pike, through clouds of choking dust, about four miles, when they were ordered to halt, and fix bayonets. This looked like business! Most had never seen a line of battle, or torn a cartridge, and if some bit at the wrong end, or put the ball down first, let them not be blamed; they did the best they knew then, and they soon learned to do it right, as many a Reb found to his sorrow.
The occasion of this preparation was the approach of a regiment (the 88th) of Indiana boys, returning from the battle of Richmond. They were to be the enemy, and it was hard to restrain some of the boys from firing into them. Fortunately, however, their character became known before the 100th annihilated them. I think our boys were glad to find that they were friends. And if, when the excitement was over, one or two of his boys were found up a tree, or behind a fence, it was no doubt in order to get a better chance to fight successfully. Was not Frederick the Great, during his first battle, found shivering in a barn, at a safe distance from the field - and did he not afterwards become the greatest general of the ge!
After they had recovered from the effects of this encounter, they marched two miles further, and rested till daylight, lying down in a soft bed of dust. They were aroused early in the morning by the market wagons going into Louisville with their meat and produce. Some of the captains took the opportunity to buy some of the meat for their hungry men.
At daylight went a few miles farther, and rested through the day. As the quartermaster had not been able to procure transportation, it was hard scratching for rations, but the boys managed to satisfy their hunger on fruit and sweet potatoes, which were plenty in the adjacent fields. The men slept that night in an open clover field, and next day, (the 6th), marched to Camp Yates, on the farm of John C. Breckenridge, about four miles from the city.
Here the regiment was brigaded with the 79th and 88th Ind. and the 73d Ill. regiments, under command of Gen. Kirk. Tents and clothing were also drawn, and anyone from home would have been puzzled to identify his best friend. The regiment was also put through the necessary lessons in drill, perfecting themselves in the art, which they would now probably very soon be called upon to practice in earnest.
The regiment remained in this camp about a week. Captain Elwood, of Co. G, was made inspector general of the brigade on the 12th.
On the second day after going into camp, orders were given to prepare for inspection, and also a review by General Kirk. The regiment at once set about the work of preparation with great zeal, and equal ignorance. The guns had been loaded since leaving Louisville, and now they must be cleaned up, and got ready for inspection, and boots must be blacked and coats brushed, etc. About 3 o'clock the colonel ordered the companies to form in front of their quarters in ranks of four,that they might be ready to move to the appointed place. But the guns were yet loaded. Some one, ignorant of, or forgetting the standing rule against such a procedure, fired off his gun - it was so much easier than to draw the charge. The example was contagious; everybody else followed suit, and pop, pop, all down the line go the guns. The old nick was to pay at once. The pickets on the distant outposts hearing the sound fired off their guns to give the alarm, the long roll was sounded, and every body but the innocent 100th thought that John Morgan, or Gen. Bragg, or Jeff. Davis, or the devil, or the whole confederacy were upon them. The 100th enjoyed the sensation they had created, but Col. Bartleson was very much mortified, and Gen. Kirk stormed and swore at the boys, calling them an undisciplined mob. The review was postponed for that day, and Col. Bartleson ordered to bring his regiment to a better state of discipline.
While at this camp the regiment was presented with a banner from the ladies of Joliet. It was accompanied by an eloquent letter from Judge Parks, to which the colonel sent a suitable reply. At the same time the colonel was presented with an elegant sword, by the officers of the regiment.
Sept. 10th, the brigade moved from camp "Dick Yates," to a position in the southern suburbs of Louisville, and our regiment camped on the place of a Mr. Casseday, a brother of the late G.W. Casseday, of Joliet. On Sunday the 14th, the principal part of the brigade moved with three days' cooked rations, on a scouting expedition on the Beardstown or Shelbyville pike, to look after some rebel cavalry reported near Spring Creek, twelve miles from Louisville. They moved slowly along the pike, Gen. Kirk and staff at the head of the column, halting occasionally while some of the staff stopped to make inquiries. Major Hammond was in command of the rear guard. A clumsy, innocent looking old market wagon, driven by an old butternut, was allowed by the Major to pass along up the line to the head, where it was stopped by the General who gave the Major a severe reprimand for allowing it to pass. He suspected that it might be a spy going to inform the rebels of the approach of the brigade.
Near the end of the march they crossed a little creek. The colonel's horse, which by the way was a little gray mustang belonging to Lieut. Williams, (somewhat noted for this taste in horse flesh), seemed to want to drink, so the colonel rode him into the stream. When he had got to the middle of the stream the colonel threw the bridle upon the mustang's neck, so that he could drink the easier. The mustang it seems wanted a bath more than he did a drink, for without giving the colonel any notice, he incontinently lay down in the water to the no small amusement of the spectators, but to the great damage of the colonel's toilet and temper.
I have heard this freak of the mustang attributed to two causes. Some explain it on the supposition that a former owner had learned the animal to lie down whenever the bridle was thrown upon his neck; while others insist that the matter is sufficiently accounted for by the fact that his (then) present owner was a zealous Baptist deacon.
The regiment encamped that night in a partly wooded field to the right of the pike.
On the 15th, it returned to the city, without having captured any rebels, and camped at night at the old camp, Casseday.
On the 16th, the brigade was marched down into and around the city. The day was excessively hot, the mercury 105 in the shade. The men were fully equipped, and as yet, unused to marching, and the consequence was that many fell out by the way, utterly unable to stand the heat and dust. Some had sunstroke and were sent to the hospital. There were no fatal cases in the 100th, but there were two or three in the other regiments of the brigade. The dust was suffocating, rising higher than the tree tops, and enveloping everyone. The men were absolutely choked by it. The ladies in some portions of the city turned out and gave the men water, and presented them fans, and cheered them as they dragged through the streets, and who some fell out by the way exhausted, held the heads of the fainting and almost dying men. I am afraid the boys, many of them, imitated the English army in Flanders that day, and that curses deep, if not loud were hurled at the head of Gen. Nelson, at whose command this unnecessary marching was done, and who with his staff sat on the veranda of the Gault House, and coolly viewed the demoralized troops as they marched by.
On the 18th, the morning papers announced the surrender of Munfordsville to the rebels, and matters began to look serious; and on the 19th the troops, the 100th among them, were ordered into the city to work on and man the entrenchments. Noncombatants were also required to take the shovel, and assist in the work. The darkies were also pressed into the service. And just here came in a good joke upon a couple of Joliet boys, which as I may not have another chance to get them into history, must be told. Fred Woodruff and Dick Willis had gone down to Louisville to see the boys,had been out to their camp, and were now laying around the city loose. Some of the military authorities, - as the story goes, - not knowing that they were from Joliet, and thinking from their appearance that they might serve the country with the shovel, if they could not with a musket, put them upon the entrenchments. But I believe they made such awkward work handling the shovel, that they were glad to get rid of them the next day.
On the 20th, the brigade marched out on the Bardstown pike nine miles, staying there until the 22d, when it returned to Camp Casseday. The next day it was ordered into the city again, and placed behind the entrenchments. The excitement was intense. Bragg was reported to be close by. Stores were closed, and many women and children left the city. But Buell's army came in ahead. The difference in the appearance of his army, coming in from its long and hasty march from Corith, all rags and dirt, and the fresh rig of Kirk's brigade, was very noticeable, and highly suggestive. On the 26th, the regiment was moved to the eastern side of the city, and took up quarters in an old ropewalk.
At this time, Sept. 27th, there was a great excitement in the city, caused by the shooting of Gen. Nelson, by Gen. Jeff. C. Davis. I am afraid that there was not much mourning over his death by the men who made that exhaustive march through and around Louisville.
On the first of October the brigade organization was broken up, and the 100th was assigned to Gen. Haskell's brigade of Gen. Crittenden's corps. Accordingly, the regiment broke camp, packed up their impedimenta, sent the sick (about fifty) to the hospitals and convalescent barracks, and late in the afternoon started out on the Bardstown road to join the brigade, marching until ten o'clock at night. They slept in the road that night, and were moving again next morning at four o'clock, going to Fern Creek, the place where they had been about ten days before. Here they found the brigade, consisting of the 26th Ohio, 3d Ky., and 58th Ind., all old regiments, and so reduced in numbers that, when in camp, the 100th occupied nearly as much ground as the three. The brigade was commanded by Gen. Haskell, and the division by Gen. T.J. Wood. With these regiments and commanders, the 100th was destined to become pretty well acquainted.
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