part of a volume entitled History of the Ninety - Third Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry: From Organization To Muster Out --Statistics Compiled by Aaron Dunbar Sergeant, Company " B", Revised and Edited by Harvey M. Trimble, Adjutant
Submitted by Jeffrey MacAdam, to whom every reader should be grateful.
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Part 1 of 2 of Chapter 6.
On the 3rd, 4th, and 5th days of December, 1863, the Ninety-Third Illinois marched to Bridgeport, Alabama, where it remained in camp until the morning of the 22nd inst. On December 22nd and 23rd the command marched to Stevenson, Alabama.
From Stevenson, Alabama, the regiment flag, which had been literally shot to pieces in the battle, was sent home, to Bureau County, Illinois, accompanied by the following address:
Headquarters Ninety-Third Regiment Illinois Infantry Volunteers.
Stevenson, Alabama, December 24th, 1863.
To the Honorable War Committee of Bureau County,
Gentlemen:--In consideration of the fact, that the Regimental Banner of this regiment, presented by you, in behalf of the people of Bureau County, has been so nearly destroyed, by the shot and shell of the enemy, in the several engagements through which it has been borne, that it is no longer fit for service, we deem it proper to return it to you again, to be preserved among the records of Bureau County. And, feeling that our interests and the interests of those we represent are the same, and that the incidents in our history, as a regiment, are interesting to us and to our friends at home alike, we think it not amiss to accompany the banner with a brief memoranda of facts, that you may know we have not been idle. Though hastily prepared, it may give you some idea of the labor performed, hardships endured, and dangers encountered since we have been in the field.
Leaving Chicago, Illinois, November 9th, 1862, the regiment has traveled by railroad four hundred and sixty-six miles, on steamers and transports one thousand seven hundred and eighty-four miles, and has marched nine hundred and three miles. This in the space of thirteen months and fifteen days. During this time we have been in the field constantly; and one-fourth of the time have been without tents, exposed to the storm or a scorching southern sun. We engaged in the battles of Jackson, Mississippi, May 14th, 1863; Champion Hill, Mississippi, May 16th, 1863; siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi, from May 19th to July 4th, 1863; Mission Ridge, Tennessee, November 25th, 1863. In these engagements our losses were as follows, to wit: Killed, two officers and sixty-two enlisted men; wounded, eight officers and two hundred and twelve enlisted men; missing, three officers and thirty-six enlisted men. Total loss, three hundred and twenty-five officers and men. Of those wounded, fifty-two have died; making the list of mortality in action or of wounds received there, two officers and one hundred and fourteen enlisted men. Of those missing in action, twenty-three have not been heard from. One officer and seventy-eight enlisted men have died of disease contracted while in the line of duty. As those who have fallen upon the field, they as much were martyrs to their country's cause. Ten officers have resigned, and ninety-nine enlisted men have been discharged for disability. Of these, fourteen enlisted men have died on their way or after reaching home. Total list of mortality, three officers and two hundred and twenty-nine enlisted men. Eighty-three enlisted men have been transferred to other branches of the service. Of nine hundred and sixty-four officers and men mustered, five hundred and fifty-four are now members of the regiment. Total loss, from all causes, four hundred and ten officers and men. Accompanying this we send a complete list of all casualties in battle, which renders more particular remark here, under that head, unnecessary.
It might be expected, and, indeed, our own feelings would seem to suggest, that a memorandum of the minor incidents connected more directly with the Banner itself should be attached. But when we look at those folds, now torn and mutilated, and that staff, now broken, we think it needless. Though silently, it tells its own history in language more adequate than we can command. Go read it there! that conquered traitors have bent to it the knee. Go read it there! that treason crushed has paid it homage due. Read it! that fighting 'neath its shadow brave men have fallen! Friends! as it is, with its own history written upon it, we return to you to-day that Banner, which, but a little more than a year ago, we bore proudly to the field. To-day we return it to you with conscious pride that since it has been in our keeping it has never been dishonored. And yet, a sad thought comes with our pride, that so many of the noble and the brave should have fallen while fighting in its defense. Let it be preserved--a sacred relic--in memory of those fallen heroes! Upon its folds their names are written in never dying honor! Is it the name of your friend? Read it there, and be proud that he was such to you. Perchance, it may be a dearer, holier name--brother, son or husband! Read it there, and if a tear unbidden starts, restrain it not. 'Tis fit that kindred tears with kindred blood should mingle. But, oh! shed not the tear of bitter regret, that to preserve our Nation's life, our country's liberty, his life should have been demanded. Think not your country asks of you to dear a price! It is the great lesson taught by the world's history, that the price of civil liberty is blood! That for us it must be purchased with kindred blood would seem to rob the precious boon of half its worth. But no! 'Twill render it dearer, sweeter, more lasting and more permanent.
And now, take home our Banner, but forget us not. As we have received it heretofore, we still ask for your support. Let the fathers and fair maidens preserve our old Banner, while with another, you send us brave sons. Take home our Banner, forgetting not that hovering near it are the spirits of the fallen brave--immortal sentinels! Old Banner, return! Go tell our friends and loved ones that we still seek the foe! Bear tidings home to them of a brighter day! As we have been proud of thy once beautiful folds, so now, reluctantly, we bid thee adieu!
Old Banner, farewell! to our friends now return,
Who gave your bright folds to our care;
Return to our friends; though ragged and torn;
No marks of dishonor you bear.
To our friends and our homes, in peace to remain,
While in battle we still seek the foe;
In peace may we hope to meet thee again;
Until then, we bid thee adieu!
Go tell them, in combat, that you have been borne
By their sons, in battle array,
By the missiles of death your folds have been torn,
And your stall well nigh shot away.
Old Banner, return! thou hast served us well;
And should we not see thee again,
Though silent, to friends our story you tell,
That few in our ranks now remain.
May our friends, as they look on thy much wasted forms,
Remember the brave that have bled;
As they look on thy staff, now broken, behold
Our Colonel--brave Putnam--now dead.
Tell our friends, should they fill up our ranks again,
And give us a banner once more,
That its folds shall float over Georgia's plain,
To the far off Atlantic's shore.
N. C. BUSWELL,
Lieutenant Colonel, Commanding Regiment.
On December 24th, 25th and 26th, the regiment marched, via Bellefonte, to Larkinsville, Alabama, and remained in camp there until the morning of the 7th day of January, A. D. 1864. On January 7th and 8th, the command marched to Brownsville, Alabama, and on the 9th, to Huntsville, Alabama, and remained in camp there until the 27th, inclusive. January 28th and 29th, the regiment marched to Mooreville, Alabama, and on the 30th and 31st, returned to Huntsville, Alabama. From February 1st to 11th, inclusive, remained in camp at Huntsville. Left Huntsville on the Memphis & Charleston Railroad, at 6 o'clock p.m., on the 12th day of February, and arrived at Bridgeport, Alabama, at midnight following. On February 13th and 14th, marched to a point near Chattanooga, Tennessee, and remained there one day. On the 16th, marched to near Ooltewah, Tennessee, and on the 17th, to Cleveland, Tennessee, and remained there until the 22nd, inclusive.
On the 23rd, the regiment marched to within three miles of Ringgold, Georgia, making twenty-eight miles that day, which was a very hard day for the command. On the 24th, the regiment moved to a point near Tunnel Hill, Georgia, and was in line of battle nearly all day. There was some fighting in the direction of Tunnel Hill. The force here consisted of about eleven thousand men, under command of General Palmer, and was engaged in a forced reconnoissance against Dalton, Georgia, to ascertain the strength of the enemy at that place, and to prevent the reinforcement of the enemy then opposing General Sherman in Mississippi. On the 25th, the regiment moved forward at 4 o'clock in the morning, and, after marching about seven miles, went into line of battle and advanced, in line, about one mile, when the command was halted at a point about a half mile from and in plain sight of Rocky Face Gap, which is about three miles west from Dalton, where Turchin's brigade did some sharp fighting during the day. The Ninety-Third Illinois was held in reserve, in line of battle, all day and until 10 o'clock at night, but were not engaged at any time, although a few cannon shots and a good many bullets passed over and came among the command. At 10 o'clock that night, the regiment was withdrawn, and moved back to the camp occupied the previous night. On the 26th, the regiment again advanced, about a mile, toward Dalton, and was in line of battle all day and until 10 o'clock at night. At that time, the command was withdrawn, and marched back to a point within two miles of Ringgold, Georgia, and on the 27th and 28th, returned to Cleveland, Tennessee, and remained there the next day. The reconnoissance to Dalton was ended.
On the 1st day of march, the regiment marched to Ooltewah, Tennessee, and on the 2nd, to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and on the 3rd and 4th, to Bridgeport, Alabama. Leaving Bridgeport at 4 o'clock in the morning on the 6th instant, and occupied the camp from which it had moved on the 12th day of February. Remained in the same camp until April 29th, inclusive. It was the best and finest camp the regiment had during its term of service, being nearly perfect in all respects. On the 19th day of march, Company B was detached and located at, to guard the railroad bridge over, Piney Creek, about nineteen miles west of Huntsville, and Company H was detached, for the same kind of duty, at Limestone Creek, about eighteen miles from Huntsville. During the stay at Huntsville, the duty required of the command was very onerous. The entire membership of the regiment did either guard duty or fatigue service every second day. On April 30th, after being mustered for pay, and paid, the regiment moved, by rail, on the Memphis & Charleston Railroad, to Decatur, Alabama, where it remained in camp until, and including, June 14th following. On the 19th day of May, Company B and H rejoined the regiment at Decatur. While here the men were on duty full half the time, guard duty and building fortifications, and the officers a great proportion of the time.
The brigade constructed a very fine fort. While here, also, the command had frequent skirmishes with the enemy around the lines. Quite a large force of Confederate cavalry infested the country south of Decatur, and frequently annoyed the federal lines around the place. On this account it was necessary to maintain very heavy lines, which made heavy duty for the command. On June 15th and 16th, the regiment marched to Huntsville, Alabama, and remained there five days. On the 22nd, orders were received to join General Sherman's army near Atlanta, Georgia, and the regiment marched to Brownsboro, Alabama. Camp and garrison equipage was sent by rail to Chattanooga, Tennessee. June 23rd, marched at 5 o'clock in the morning, and went into camp, at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, two miles east of Point Rock Station, Alabama. June 24th, marched through Larkinsville to a point near Scottsboro, Alabama. June 25th, marched through Bellefonte, and went into camp on Crow Creek, three miles from Stevenson, Alabama, and remained there during the next day. On June 27th, in the afternoon, the command marched to Stevenson, Alabama, and there boarded the cars, on the Memphis & Charleston Railroad, and rolled out at 5 o'clock, the same afternoon, for Chattanooga, Tennessee, reaching that place at 9:30 o'clock that evening, and remained there that night.
The next morning, June 28th, the regiment changed cars, and at 9 o'clock, started, on the Western & Atlantic Railroad, leading from Chattanooga to Atlanta, for Kingston, Georgia. There were four cars, in this train, loaded with percussion shells. When about one mile northwest of Dalton, Georgia, the train collided with another train, coming up on the road, with wounded from General Sherman's army. When the men of the regiment, many of whom were on top of the train, saw the collision was inevitable, they began to shout: "Get off of this ordnance train." Many of them jumped off, although there was a grade ten to fifteen feet high on the left side of the track, which, at this point, had been cut into the side of a ridge, by reason of which they could only jump off on the left side, without great risk of going under the train if they should go off on the other side. Lieut. Milton Cross, of Company C, and thirty men of the regiment, were injured. Sylvanus P. Whitehead, of Company K, was mortally hurt, and died on the 3rd day of July following. He received his injuries in attempting to go down the end ladder between two cars. As the trains came together he was caught there and crushed. Fifteen others were so badly disabled, with sprained ankles and knees and hips, and diverse and sundry bruises, that they had to be sent back to hospital, at Chattanooga, Tennessee. The others, whose injuries were not so severe, remained with the regiment. The fronts of the two engines were considerably damaged; but fortunately, by reason that both of the engines were reversed, the shock was not sufficient to explode the fixed ammunition. Had an explosion occurred, and it was miraculous that it did not, the major part, at least, of this regiment would have been mustered out of service then and there in less than two seconds. After the debris was cleared away, the train that was coming north backed down, and the train bearing this regiment went forward, to Dalton, and remained there that night.
At 4 o'clock in the morning, on June 29th, the train moved on down the railroad and reached Kingston, Georgia, about noon. The regiment left the train, at once, and went into camp, and remained there until the evening of July 2nd. On the date last mentioned, the command marched to Gillem's bridge, over the Etowah River, four miles southeast of Kingston. From thence, Companies A, D and F went to Island Ford, two miles below, and Companies C and G went to Caldwell Ford, three miles above. The regiment was so located to guard those several crossings of the Etowah River. The command remained on duty, as above located, until the afternoon of July 11th, when orders were received to return to Kingston. The detached companies were immediately called in, and the regiment started, a little after dark, for Kingston, and reached there about 10 o'clock that night, and occupied the same camp it left on the 2nd instant. On July 12th, the command moved into the town of Kingston, and nearly all the officers and men occupied vacant houses. The regiment remained here until the 1st day of August, inclusive, and during that time parts of it made several scouts, and performed such other services as were usually required when in camp. The scouting expeditions were not very exciting, nor very useful to the service, but such as they were will be briefly stated here.
On the 15th of the month, a scouting party, consisting of a sergeant and ten men, mounted on mules, made a scout to Cassville. It was a fruitless effort to find a small number of guerrillas reported in the vicinity. The names of those who went on the expedition are not now remembered. The next day, a squad of seven or eight men, belonging at the post hospital, had a skirmish with guerrillas, just beyond Cassville, and one of the eight was mortally wounded. On the 17th, Sunday, Captain Gray, Adjutant Trimble, Sergeant Abbott and eleven men, all mounted, made a scout to Cassville, in the hope that on Sunday some of these guerrillas might be found in town. Dividing into four or five squads, a dash was made side of the town, on as many different streets, to the opposite side of the town, where the squads met again at a point agreed upon beforehand. No guerrillas were found. After assembling all the male citizens of the town, and placing a guard over them, the other members of the party went about four miles beyond the town, passing the place where the men, referred to yesterday, was mortally wounded. An investigation of that affair being made, it was learned, from citizens who helped take care of him, that he was shot three times. It was not possible to locate the miscreants who did the shooting. On returning to Cassville, seven men, who were liable to arrest under military orders then in force, were taken, and the scouting party returned to Kingston, reaching there at 5 o'clock in the afternoon. On July 21st, at 1 o'clock in the morning, a courier came from Wooley's bridge, over the Etowah River, and reported, that a Confederate force had driven the pickets from Merkerson's Ford, two miles below the bridge, and were crossing there. The regiment was called to arms, and ten or fifteen mounted men of the command were immediately sent to reconnoiter and ascertain the strength and probable movements of the enemy. The scouting party returned a little after daylight, having found nothing. A few "bushwhackers" had probably crossed the river in the night, but so few that they accomplished nothing. About 9 o'clock in the forenoon, after the scouts had rested, Lieutenant Colonel Buswell and Adjutant Trimble went with them on another scout, expecting to meet about three hundred Federal cavalry from Cartersville. Crossing the Etowah River at Island Ford, they moved on to Euharee. Failing to meet the cavalry force, they returned, by the way of Gillem's bridge, to Kingston, reaching there late in the afternoon. On the 23rd and 24th, great excitement prevailed in camp, caused by news of hard fighting, and conflicting rumors as to the result, in front of Atlanta, Georgia. The next day, definite information of victory came to hand, and the excitement subsided. But the confirmation of the report of the death of General McPherson, on the 22nd, instant, caused great grief everywhere, and cast a shadow of gloom over the whole army.
At 9 o'clock p.m. on the 24th, orders were received, directing that one hundred men of this regiment, properly officered, should be sent to Gillem's bridge, to reinforce the command on guard there. The information was, that an attack was about to be made by a considerable force of the enemy. The force ordered was immediately sent. But there was no fight. A few guerrillas made a large demonstration. They played an old lumber-wagon for artillery, scattered themselves out, in a thin line, extending a considerable distance above and below the bridge, and each one began to give commands, and make other demonstrations, indicating a considerable force. Covered by darkness, the farce was not discovered until after the reinforcements arrived and a force was sent across the bridge to develop the strength and position of the supposed enemy. When that was done all danger vanished at once. The reinforcements returned to Kingston the next morning.
On July 26th, Major Fisher, Adjutant Trimble and about two hundred officers and men made an expedition across the Etowah River, for the purpose of removing some Union families to the north side of the river and to gather forage. Both objects were accomplished without trouble. Two supposed guerrillas were arrested and taken into camp.
On July 27th, at 8 o'clock p.m., under orders, Lieutenant Colonel Buswell, Adjutant Trimble, Lieutenant Davis and sixty-six men, sixteen of the latter being mounted, started for a scout on the south side of the Etowah River. Crossing the river at Gillem's bridge, they left there about 11 o'clock that night for active operations in the country beyond. About five miles from the bridge, the houses of two notorious guerrillas, named Barnes and Wilson, were surrounded, and they were captured, with their horses, saddles, bridles, spurs, guns, revolvers, etc. A citizen, named Stone, who lived near by, was also taken, on suspicion. The command then moved about three miles farther on, to Collester's Mill, reaching there just at daylight, 4 o'clock a.m., July 28th.
Another guerrilla, named Jasper N. Garrison, was captured there, with his gun, accouterments, etc. He was in Confederate uniform, and tried to hide under a bed. He and Barnes claimed to be of the regular army, and that they were at home on furlough. But their guns and other trappings gave them away. The command remained at the mill during the day. Hearing that about three or four hundred guerrillas were encamped on Euharlee Creek, five or six miles farther south, Lieutenant Colonel Buswell sent five mounted men back to Kingston with a request that seventy-five more men should be sent to him, to make the command sufficiently strong to move on the guerrilla camp that night. These mounted men were attacked, on their way in, by about twenty- five guerrillas, and George B. McConnell, of Company A, was captured by them. His mule fell over a fence. The other four couriers escaped, and the message was delivered at Kingston in due time. Just at twilight, that evening, a squad of guerrillas made a demonstration against the command from two different points. The command was then in and near the mill. The guerrillas, after firing fifty or sixty shots, which were quickly returned by our men, formed a thin line, more than a quarter of a mile long, in the heavy timber just west of the mill, and each of them began to give loud commands as if advancing in line of battle. That ruse did not work. Our boys, shouting to them, told them to come out of the woods and show up like men, and not to hide in the woods and darkness like guerrillas, etc., etc. But they did not come out. After a little while they rode away. At 9 o'clock that evening, the reinforcements asked for, to the number of about seventy-five officers and men, reached the command at the mill. Having heard, late in the day, that the guerrillas had moved from their camp on Euharlee Creek, above mentioned, and knowing that every guerrilla in that part of the county would be warned of the presence of our force by those who had paid us a short call early in the evening, Lieutenant Colonel Buswell concluded that the command should, and it did, remain at the mill that night. On July 29th, early in the morning, about three hundred Federal cavalry came to the mill, from a scout along Euharlee Creek. After breakfast they turned back, on a new route. Lieutenant Colonel Buswell then divided his command into three parts, and started back to Kingston, on as many different routes. All met again at Gillem's bridge. The command reached Kingston at 4 o'clock that afternoon. The net result of the scout was four prisoners, four or five horses, fifteen head of cattle, and a good time, marred only by the loss of McConnell, who was captured by the enemy.
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