ILLINOIS in the CIVIL WAR

part of a volume entitled Fifteen Years Ago: or the Patriotism of Will County by George H. Woodruff

Submitted by Merryann Palmer, palmerma1@usa.pipeline.com, to whom every reader should be grateful.

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January 3d, the regiment lay all day behind intrenchments without any demonstrations on the part of the enemy. The continued rains made the movement of artillery impossible. At evening, under cover of the darkness, they attempted to dislodge the pioneers, but they were repulsed with heavy loss, and they plunged into the river, making no further demonstrations, and that night retreated through Murfreesboro, and the next morning, the Union forces were in possession of the town, and the battle of Stone River, the seven days' fighting was over. Such was the baptismal battle of the Will county regiment.

The following is a list of casualties in the 100th regiment during these seven days.

Killed:

Wounded:

Co. A - Co. B - Co. C - Co. D - Co. E - Co. F - Co. H - Co. I - Co. K -

Major Hammond was grazed by a ball. A shell burst over Captain Gardner's head, paralyzing him for a few moments, and when he recovered, he found the man by his side had lost his head.

The following is from the official report of Brig. Gen. Haskell, commanding the brigade:

"I should have remarked that the 100th Ill. regiment, the other regiment composing my brigade, which was in reserve during the first engagement described above, had, under instruction of Gen. Hazen, moved to the front on the left of the railroad, and taken up a position at right angles with the railroad, where they fought splendidly in all the actions that took place on the left of the road. There was no formidable attack upon them, but they were almost constantly under fire of greater or less severity, particularly in shot and shell, and suffered quite severely in killed and wounded. Lieut. Morison Worthingham, of that regiment, was killed, while gallantly sustaining his men, and six other commissioned officers, including Maj. Hammond, were wounded. Their conduct, from Col. Bartleson down, was such as to leave nothing to be desired. Enlisted men, five killed, thirty-three wounded."

Such was Gen. Haskell's official report. He is said to have made an unofficial one, to-wit: that "if there was a flock of turkeys the other side of Murfreesboro, and he should tell the 100th to take them, they would go through all h__ll to get them."

Gen. Hazen, commanding the 2d brigade, 2d division of left wing, to whose assistance as above noticed the 100th had been sent, says: "I am under many obligations to Col. Bartleson, of the 100th, for valuable services."

Mention has been made of the fact that Major Hammond was slightly wounded. A piece was gouged out of the calf of his leg by a shot, which also carried off the tail of his coat. Col. Bartleson told him he had better enlarge the wound with caustic so as to produce a respectable eschar, and to preserve the mutilated coat as a trophy, and that when he got back home he could run for any office and be sure of success. Thus even on the grim field of battle the little colonel loved his joke. Well, the major did get a good, fat office on his return, but I should be unwilling to say that he owed it to his having lost his coat tail. The wound, though not serious, I presume was sufficiently severe to satisfy any hankering the major had in that direction. As we have seen, it did not unfavorably affect his appetite.

A curious instance of fright on the part of the animal creation at man's doings was exhibited on the field of Stone River. Turkeys, birds and rabbits were so paralyzed by fright at the terrific cannonading and musketry, that they sought the protection of the men as they were lying behind their breastworks, the rabbits actually creeping under the legs of the men, in their terror.

The battle of Stone River was one of the bloodiest and fiercest engagements of the war. It was the first in which the 100th was engaged, but it did its full share, and gave its friends no occasion to blush. The victory finally terminated on the side of the Union, but the cost was fearful. The field was one vast cemetery. Murfreesboro was converted into one vast hospital. The rebels left their wounded to our care. No business was transacted, and nothing was done except caring for the wounded of both sides.

When the right wing of our army was driven back on the morning of the 31st of December, the field hospital was for a time in the hands of the rebel cavalry, with the surgeons and all their attendants, among them Surgeon Heise, Steward Stumph, and others of the 100th. The scattering which was made among the surgeons and attendants, and the manner in which many of them became suddenly invisible is said to have been something wonderful, if not miraculous. The rebel cavalry did not make a long stay, and when they retired, surgeons and attendants were to be seen emerging from all conceivable hiding places. It also happened that Dr. McArthur, of Joliet, was at this time on a visit to his old friend and partner, Dr. Heise, and when the alarm and confusion consequent upon the visit of the cavalry occurred, he mounted his hors, intending to return to Nashville, being entirely satisfied with the glimpse he had got of the elephant. But this was not so easily done. The roads were entirely blocked up with army teams and the demoralized right wing of the army. He tried to go across logs, and is said to have performed some most astonishing feats of horsemanship and high and lofty tumbling in his hurried efforts to get through. Finding egress impossible, he returned to the hospital, nor recovered, and rendered valuable professional assistance.

While this was happening, the surgeons who were on the field (Drs. Harwood and Woodruff,) were at a loss what to do with the wounded, who were fast accumulating on their hands. Finally, in company with others of the same division, they were carried across the creek to the left, where there was a fair-sized house, all the available room of which, as well as the adjoining yard, was soon occupied. While busy in attending to the wounded, these surgeons and attendants heard the wild, unearthly yell of the rebels, and in a moment they were surrounded by rebel cavalry, who ordered the surgeons, ambulances and nurses to fall into line and go with them. A few obeyed, but the surgeons, and most of the others kept out of their way as much as possible and attended to their business, and soon one of our batteries opened on the rebels and they found the place too hot for them to hold, and left. In the afternoon the surgeons recrossed the river and sent the wounded to the division hospital, which had been recovered, and was again in order.

On the fourth day of the battle, (January 3d), when our boys were pretty hungry and rations scarce, a smoke-house was discovered between our picket line and that of the rebs, but much nearer the latter. The boys all knew that a southern smoke house meant plenty of bacon, and they determined to clean that awned, and accordingly they charged, captured the contents, and returned with the spoils. But it took some nerve to do this under a sharp fire from the rebs, who were not a little astonished at the boldness of the exploit, and chagrined at the loss of the bacon. One man was hit by a sharpshooter.

Lieut. Bartlett, also, with the quick eye of a professional, spied a cow in the distance, and got permission to go into the butchering business. It was soon brought in by the hungry men, slaughtered and dressed "secundum artem," and very soon there was nothing left but hoofs, horns and hide.

After the close of the battle, on the night of the 3d, the 100th regiment and the brigade recrossed the river, and camped back of the first day's battle field. The river was rising rapidly, and the main body of the army was on the north side of the river. Next day, the 4th, they heard that Murfreesboro was evacuated; but the division staid at this place until the 7th, lying on the rocks, and in the mud, without shelter, and short of rations. Some went hunting in the groves, and helped out the scant rations with squirrels and rabbits, and I presume, an occasional pig. They then moved to Murfreesboro, camping on the Manchester pike, and the next day the wagons came up and tents were pitched. On the 9th, the camp was again charged to the left of the town, in a low, wet place. Everyone was tired out, and many sick, and the Spence House, near by, was temporarily used as a hospital. Those who were able to work were put upon the building of fortifications made with trees and dirt.

On the 13th, the regiment was gratified with the sight of some familiar faces from home, Chas. Weeks, O.W. STillman, and Otis Hardy, of Joliet, and Dr. A.W. Bowen and Franklin Mitchell, of Wilmington, who had started on the reception of the news of the battle. Mr. Mitchell arrived too late to see his son alive. They remained with the regiment three or four days, giving the boys the news from home, and carrying back messages from them.

On the 21st, the brigade was ordered out to guard a forage train. After going two or three miles on Liberty Pike, they learned that a train of thirty-five wagons from Rosseau's division, with a very small guard, had been captured just ahead two or three hours before. The brigade started in pursuit, but infantry chasing cavalry is a long race, and not often successful, and it was not in this instance, and was given up after a few hours, and the wagons were filled with forage, and the brigade returned to camp.

About this time Colonel Bartleson left the regiment for a brief visit home.

On the 22d, Henry Stolder, of Co. E, one of the wounded, died at the Spence House.

On the 25th, the regiment lost three officers by resignation -Asst. Surg. Harwood, Lieut. Letts, of Co. E, and Lieut. McConnell, of Co. I.

On the 28th of January, a fatal accident occurred in the regiment which cast a greater gloom over the men, than even the greater losses by battle. Some of the men were felling a tree which stood in camp, which, contrary to all their expectations, fell across one of Co. K's tents, in which were four members of the company at the time, entirely unsuspicious of what was in store for them. John Fitzpatrick was killed instantly, and Meredon Davis who badly injured that he died in an hour. Another, Lisle Tanner, was so severely hurt, that for a long time it was expected that he would die, but he ultimately recovered. A committee of investigation decided that the choppers were not to blame, as according to all rules of propriety, the tree ought to have fallen in any other direction than the one it did. They should have brought a verdict of guilty against the tree, and recommended it to the mercy of the court!

On the 30th, the camp was changed to higher and better ground. The regiment now had a rest from everything except routine duty, and occasionally taking its turn in going as guard to forage trains.

On the morning of Feb. 8th, they were routed out at 4 a.m., and ordered to stand at arms, as the rebels were reported advancing, but they did not come. Next day the guns were laid down, and the boys took up spades, working on the forts. The same day (9th), Wm. Mahaffey, of Co. F, died, and on the 12th, James Taylor, a fine, bright boy of sixteen years, musician in Co. D, also died. Occasionally prisoners are captured, and refugees come in frequently.

On the 18th, the regiment went through a new experience. It was one for which they had long been looking. The boys had now been in the service almost six months, and had as yet received no pay, except the moral satisfaction of doing their duty. This is all very nice, and not to be despised, but still it would not help in buying those little extras which were needed to eke out their regular rations. It would not pay the old darkey mammies for doing their washing, or buy the tobacco to fill their pipes. Hence the appearance of a United States paymaster, with his clean new greenbacks, was welcome indeed. No man who could stand up, failed to answer to the call to muster for pay. Chaplain Crews kindly took home the spare money of the boys, and had a narrow escape from capture. The day after, the train was captured by rebel guerrillas, and Col. Buell, of the 58th Indiana, was taken with $17,000 of the money of his regiment.

March 19th, there was a grand review of the corps by General Rosecrans.

In order to have the different regiments in the brigade near each other, another change was made in the camp about the 25th of March. This time the boys fixed up their camp in splendid style, laying it out with streets and avenues lined with evergreens. They also built awnings of evergreens before their tents, and a nice chapel for Dominie Crews, their worthy and highly esteemed chaplain, to preach in, and kept the grounds nicely policed. The regiment went out often with the forage trains, gathering the corn from the fields where it was still standing, and the stacks of "fodder," as the corn tops cut while still green, and cured, are called. The boys also foraged for themselves as well as for the horses and mules, taking hams and shoulders from many a smoke-house, and poultry from the yards, leaving many a family short for rations. This seemed hard, but the army must be fed, let whoever may starve. This is one of the necessities of cruel war.

In the course of their foraging expeditions, they came across some curious samples of the ignorance of the natives, "the poor white trash." They found one widow, (and by-the-way, the women all seemed to be widows,) who said she didn't know any difference between the armies. She knew that Lincoln was not Bragg, and that was all she did know. She said that Bragg had got three of her boys, and had run one of them to death. She said she meant to go north. She was in one of the northern states once, she did not rightly remember which, but thought it was Bowling Green!

On one of these expeditions, I am sorry to say, two teamsters took from a house some silver ware, for which act they were severely punished, by order of the colonel, being "bucked and gagged," an operation which is said not to be very agreeable.

Another unpleasant incident of the stay was the robbing of the mail bag of the regiment of $300, which some of the boys were sending home. The offender was court-martialed and sentenced to two years' imprisonment.

Another man was found sleeping upon his post, and sentenced to ten years' imprisonment, while another, for the same offense, was sentenced to be shot. These punishments seem to be disproportioned to the moral guilt in the several cases - two years for robbery, and ten years and death for falling asleep. But it must be remembered that when a sentinel sleeps upon his post, he perils a whole army.

There occurred during this time, also, the hanging of a guerrilla, who had shot a citizen under very atrocious circumstances, having, after shooting him, cut out his tongue. He was convicted on the testimony of the daughter of the murdered man, who asked of Gen. Rosseau the privilege of adjusting the rope about the culprit's neck. This request, however, the general did not see fit to grant.

About the middle of April, General Wood left the division on account of ill-health, but returned before the advance. During his absence the division was commanded by General Brennan, and brigade and division drills were the order of the day.

During the stay of the regiment at Murfreesboro, they received a visit from some of the Joliet ladies, Mrs. Elwood, Mrs. Bartleson, and Mrs. Heise. I need not say that the sight of crinoline was a pleasant one to the eyes, not only of their special friends in the regiment, but also to every soldier, reminding them of the mothers, wives and sisters left behind them. The boys all vied with each other in rendering them every attention. The ladies, in return, gave a party to the officers of the regiment.

About the 28th of April, the "pup tents," as the boys designated the little shelter tents, were issued, and they had to resign their large ones for little pieces of cloth just large enough to cover two. These were very unpopular at first. At the sight of them the boys would set up a barking all along the line, which was quite amusing. But orders have to be obeyed, and they learned in time the wisdom of the order and became reconciled, as in their subsequent campaigns, if they had not had these, they would have had nothing.

Gen. Brennan kept the men pretty busy in drill exercises, but still there were many hours when the time would hang heavy. Many were the resources for relieving the tedium. Some busied themselves in the manufacture of pipes from the briar root, which grew in the woods, while others carved crosses, shirt studs, rings, buttons, etc., of the muscle shells, which abounded in the rivers, sending them home to their friends. Many of these are still sacredly treasured as mementoes of those who are dead and gone!

A very popular amusement consisted in getting the young darkies to sing and dance, and to "bunt" each other, a-la-ram. Reading was also a resource to many, and everything that could be obtained was eagerly devoured, especially the reports of a famous ecclesiastical trial then being conducted with closed doors in Joliet. At this time one of the boys was guilty of the following conundrum:

Ques. - To what tribe of Indians does J.W.H. belong?
Ans. - Paw-nees.

But the time had come for active work once more, and strange as it may seem, when we remember what is involved in an aggressive, onward movement, the men were glad to pull up stakes, and rejoiced at the words "fall in!"

On the 12th of June Col. Buell took command of the brigade, Col. Fyfe leaving.

On the 24th of June, the "Army of the Cumberland" uncoiled itself from its position of repose about Murfreesboro, and started out for new fields. The corps in which the 100th was placed moved out on the Bradyville Pike. On the first day out the regiment was train guard, which is never very pleasant duty, and this day was one of almost incessant rain. The route lay over a hilly country, presenting scenery of much beauty. The regiment camped at night in a clover field, and came down to "first principles" - i.e. - hard tack and coffee, but it was a relief to breathe fresh air again. Next day they pass through Bradyville, a little hamlet, in which the only thing noticeable was a two story warehouse, and a hearse. Only two citizens were visible. Here the pike ended, and they took a mud road, camping at night in a cornfield, where the mud was ankle deep. They remained at this camp the next day and night, the rain continuing. Palmer's division was ahead of ours at work trying to render the roads passable for the trains. There was a hard hill, three-fourths of a mile long, which was the chief obstacle. The 27th was a day of hard work. An early start was made, and the brigade was divided into detachments, and put to work on the roads, throwing in rails, stones, trees, etc., to fill up the holes, and Wagner's brigade acted as reinforcements to the mules. Reliefs for the men were stationed at short distances with ropes attached to the wagons, and from eighty to one hundred men would seize the ropes and pull away. It was a novel, noisy and exciting scene. Drivers and men hallooing and swearing, mules straining to their utmost. Now and then a wagon gets upset, and out rolls the hard-tack, baggage, tents, etc., scattered about in the mud. The regiment went about a mile and a half beyond the top and camped. It was a desolate looking country with but few inhabitants, and they were the ignorant "poor white trash." One woman was much surprised at hearing the brass bands play, and inquired if it wan't what "you'ns called a pianny."


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