Author: Morrison, Marion, 1821-
United States — History — Civil War
1861-1865 — Regimental histories
Illinois — History — Civil War
United States. Army. Illinois Infantry Regiment
9th (1861-1865) — Registers
A History of the Ninth Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry
The cover image was created by the submitter and is being placed into the public domain.
ILLINOIS VOLUNTEER INFANTRY.
BY THE CHAPLAIN,
JOHN S. CLARK, PRINTER.
In this sketch of the military career of the 9th Ill. Vol. Inft., my object has been, to present the facts connected with its organization, and its connection with the various battle-scenes through which it has passed. I have entered upon the compilation of these facts with some degree of hesitation. I have thrown it into the present shape, only on the earnest solicitation of a number of the officers and men of the Regiment. Originally nothing more was contemplated than a newspaper sketch. It was thought that even the prominent facts in the Regiment’s history, could not be given in such an article, without making it so long that publishers would not wish to insert it in their papers, or the readers of such papers be willing to read it.
It has been the writer’s aim, not only to give the facts connected with the various battles in which the Regiment has been engaged, but to narrate many incidents on marches and scouts, both of a general and individual character. Often these incidents will throw more light upon the real workings of soldier life, than accounts of great battles.
I am indebted for most of the facts connected with the marches and battles of the Regiment, to the kindness of Adjutant Klock. Most of the incidents I have gathered from the officers and men in the Regiment. Much dependence had to be put in these, since the writer has only been with the Regiment from the first of September, 1863.
It was felt to be due the Regiment, that a sketch of this kind be prepared. It has never had a correspondent to herald its deeds of daring in the news of the day, as many other regiments have. Hence, although it has performed a great amount of hard and very valuable service, still it has but seldom been noticed in the papers. Let justice be done. Nothing more.
If I can but succeed in putting together the substantial facts in the History of this Regiment, so that they can be preserved by the boys, in a convenient form for reference, and afford material to aid the future historian in making up the history of this war, I will have accomplished the object I have in view.
Cause of the Rebellion—Measures taken by the leaders to deceive the masses—James Buchanan—Lincoln’s journey to Washington, and entering upon his duties—Call for 75,000 Volunteers—Organization of 9th Ill.—Roster of officers—Six Regiments organized in Illinois—Nature of “Three months’ service”—Kentucky neutrality—Scouting—Incidents—When mustered out—Reorganization.
Every lover of his country will remember, with peculiar emotions, the events of the Winter and Spring of 1861. On the election of Abraham Lincoln to the position of President of the United States, in the autumn of 1860, the Southern portion of our once peaceful and happy country were indignant at the result. They had so long been accustomed to have everything their own way, so far as President-making was concerned, that they could not endure the thought of being superceded in their favorite work. For years they had elected Presidents who were either Southern men, or Northern men whose views agreed with their own on the great question at issue with them—Slavery. Now that a Northern man was elected to the Presidency, who, it was known, would use his constitutional powers to check the spread of that ruinous system, they were determined not to suffer it. Loud talkings of secession from the Union, spread rapidly throughout the South.
The leaders in this wicked rebellion did not allow the mass of the people to know the exact position which the newly elected President had taken, and the policy he would pursue with reference to the slavery question. If they had, we would never have heard of the rebellion now raging in our land. Their watchword was, that whenever he would enter upon the duties of his office, he would at once take measures to have the slaves set free throughout the entire South; that slaves would everywhere be stirred up to insurrection. Thus the leaders aroused the minds of the masses, and prepared them for the terrible ruin into which they were about to plunge them.
During the Fall after the election of the present President, it was my privilege to meet with a citizen of Mississippi, who was visiting Illinois on matters of business. He had spent two or three weeks in Springfield and vicinity, attending to that business. Speaking of the state of feeling existing in his State, and contrasting that with the feelings manifested in Illinois, he said, “I would give half I am worth, if the people of the South could only see and know what I have seen and learned since I have been in Illinois.” He had had an interview with the President elect; had made the acquaintance of many of his prominent friends; and had become fully satisfied that he, together with the mass of the people South, was entirely mistaken as to the position which the incoming administration would occupy on the question of slavery. “Why, sir, if my fellow citizens could only see things as I now see them, there would be no difficulty. If they could only be convinced that the incoming Administration would not interfere with the system of slavery as it exists in the slave States, but were only opposed to its further extension, there would be no further difficulty. But,” says he, “I cannot hope to see that state of feeling now produced. If I should go home and tell them what I have seen and what I have heard, my life would be in danger. I would be denounced as an abolitionist. My friends dissuaded me from making the journey to this State. ‘If you go to Illinois you will be mobbed.’ I feared the result myself, but my business was urgent. I am agreeably surprised to find that here a man can express his opinions on this vexed question, with perfect safety.” This Southern man expressed himself thus, on the eve of this rebellion, with tears in his eyes.
But time passed. The leaders in this rebellion were making Herculean efforts to be prepared for the crisis. James Buchanan occupied the Presidential chair. He was just the instrument they needed in that position. His heart was with them. Most of the Cabinet he had gathered around him, were notorious traitors, and ready to resort to any means to carry out their wicked ends. Hence they robbed the government of its treasures, its arms, and its fortifications. During the Winter, one State after another passed acts of secession, and he looked quietly on, but made no demonstration towards stopping it. Armed forces were gathering in the various seceding States. Fort Sumter was still in possession of the government. Fortifications were erected in Charleston harbor to reduce it. Its few inmates were in a starving condition. No supplies were sent them.
The term of office of James Buchanan expires. The President elect enters upon his journey from Springfield, Illinois, to Washington, D. C. He leaves his home, feeling fully aware of the great work before him. He is satisfied that without Divine aid he will be unable to meet the crisis. Hence, on taking his departure, while standing upon the steps of the cars, he asks the friends he was leaving behind, to seek that aid on his behalf. A plot is laid for his assassination, in the City of Baltimore. But that Providence, whose aid he desired, revealed the plot, and he is enabled to reach Washington, on an extra train and at an hour unexpected. At the proper time he is duly initiated into his office. He looks around and sees the sad condition of the affairs of State. He firmly grasps the helm, however. Although the ship of state is in a leaky condition; although many a plank was torn off; although many were still in it ready to strike other leaks; although but little money with which to repair it; still he takes firm hold. He gathers around him, as counselors and co-workers, those in whom he could place confidence. Every exertion which could possibly be made, is made, to set things “to rights” again.
It is not long until Fort Sumter is fired upon by the enemies of their country. The roar of the cannon, whose balls shattered the walls of that Fort, echoed throughout the land and aroused an indignant people to arms. In the meantime the President calls for 75,000 volunteers to enter the service for three months. He has been blamed for calling for so few, and for so short a time. That call, however, doubtless saved the capital of our nation, which was then sorely beleagured.
In compliance with this call, the State of Illinois furnished six regiments for the “three months’ service.” That call was made on the 15th day of April, 1861. The county of St. Clair promptly sent six companies; the county of Madison three companies, and the county of Montgomery one company. They rendezvoused at Springfield, Illinois, on the 23d day of April, 1861, and were organized and mustered into the service on the 25th of the same month. It was the third regiment organized in Illinois, and was numbered as the 9th Regt. Ill. Vol. Inft.
The roster of officers of companies, as reported, is as follows:
|Company A.||—||Aug. Mersy,||Captain.|
|“||—||Jacob Kercher,||1st Lieutenant.|
|“||—||Birt Affleck,||2d Lieutenant.|
|Company B.||—||Rodolphus Beckier,||Captain.|
|“||—||—— Ledergarber,||1st Lieutenant.|
|“||—||H. Clay Hay,||2d Lieutenant.|
|Company C.||—||I. F. Tiedeman,||Captain.|
|“||—||—— Conner,||1st Lieutenant.|
|“||—||Hamilton Lieber,||2d Lieutenant.|
|Company D.||—||Alexander G. Hawes,||Captain.|
|“||—||—— Cox,||1st Lieutenant.|
|“||—||—— Roman,||2d Lieutenant.|
|Company E.||—||—— Catine,||Captain.|
|“||—||—— Scheitlier,||1st Lieutenant.|
|“||—||—— Scheminger,||2d Lieutenant.|
|Company F.||—||Van Cleve,||Captain.|
|“||—||Loren Webb,||1st Lieutenant.|
|“||—||Geo. Adams,||2d Lieutenant.|
|Company G.||—||—— Tucker,||Captain.|
|“||—||—— Davis,||1st Lieutenant.|
|“||—||—— Ash,||2d Lieutenant.|
|Company H.||—||Jesse J. Phillips,||Captain.|
|“||—||John W. Kitchell,||1st Lieutenant.|
|“||—||Wm. F. Armstrong,||2d Lieutenant.|
|Company I.||—||Jos. G. Robinson,||Captain.|
|“||—||Thos. J. Newsham,||1st Lieutenant.|
|“||—||—— Gerly,||2d Lieutenant.|
|Company K.||—||John H. Kuhn,||Captain.|
|“||—||—— Shutterer,||1st Lieutenant.|
|“||—||Emil Adam,||2d Lieutenant.|
An election for field officers was held on the organization of the Regiment, which resulted in the choice of—
|ELEAZER A. PAINE,||Colonel.|
|August Mersy,||Lt. Colonel.|
|Jesse J. Phillips,||Major.|
The following were appointed staff officers:
|Dr. Bell, of Springfield,||Surgeon.|
|Dr. S. M. Hamilton, of Monmouth,||Assistant Surgeon.|
|John W. Kitchell,||Adjutant.|
|—— Davis,||Quarter Master.|
|J. J. Ferree,||Chaplain.|
No sooner was the Regiment fully organized, than it was called to duty. The Rebels were evidently making their arrangements to take possession of, and occupy Cairo, Ill. They saw at once, if they could do this, they would be able to cut off all communication between the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. They would thus occupy a position from which they would be able, not only to command these rivers, but to make inroads into the State of Illinois. They contemplated making their battle-grounds on Northern soil. It did not at all enter into their original plans, to wage this war upon the sacred soil of the South. Their soldiers were promised the privilege of sacking Northern cities, and overrunning Northern States. But promptly the government took possession of Cairo, and thus saved Illinois from the invasion of the enemy. While the Border Free States of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Iowa have suffered from Rebel raids, more or less, Illinois has thus far escaped.
To carry out this design of occupying Cairo, ere the enemy got possession of it, orders were issued on the 30th of April, 1861, to the 9th Regt. Ill. Inft., to report at Cairo, Ill. It arrived at that point May 1st, 1861, at 9 A. M. It was the third Regiment on the ground at Cairo.
The first six regiments from Illinois, that were organized under that call of the President, were:
These regiments were distributed as follows: The 7th Regiment was ordered to Alton, Ill.; the 8th, 9th and 10th to Cairo, Ill.; the 11th to Villa Ridge, Ill.; the 12th to Casey’s Station, on the O. & M. R. R.
At an election which was held for a Brig. General to take the command of the above regiments, B. M. Prentiss was elected. His “Head Quarters” were at Cairo, Ill.
After the Regiment arrived at Cairo, Ill., Lieut. Conner, of Co. C, resigned. Sergt. W. C. Kneffner, of Co. D, was elected as 1st Lieut. of Co. C, and commissioned by the Governor. Jacob Kircher was commissioned as Captain of Co. A, and J. W. Kitchell as Captain of Co. H.
After the election of J. W. Kitchell as Captain of Co. H, 1st Lieut. Thos. J. Newsham was appointed Adjutant of the Regiment.
The Regiment remained on duty at Cairo during the term of service for which they were called out.
Many of the soldiers, supposing that they would be furnished with clothing by the government, took very little clothing with them, and that of the most ordinary kind, thinking that when they should draw clothing they could not take care of what they took with them. The result was, that many of them had no change of clothing for the three months they were in the service. They had no regular uniform. Some of the companies were clothed with such a uniform as they had selected and supplied for themselves. When the Regiment arrived in Cairo, no provision was made for them in the way of tents. War was a new thing then, and the Quartermaster and Commissary stores were not always ready to be drawn upon at a moment’s warning. The supply of rations was, at times, very irregular. The men had not been accustomed to making themselves comfortable in camp; consequently they sometimes found it pretty hard living. After they had been there a few days, it was determined to go into camp on the edge of the Mississippi river, between the town and the river. The camping ground was covered with very large trees of drift-wood. These must be cleared off. No details for fatigue duty were made; but Col. Paine, taking hold along with the rest, said “Come, boys, we must red these logs off, and clear up this ground.” And at it they went, and after a time they had the logs all cleared away, the stumps burnt out, and a pretty respectable camping ground prepared. Much hard service was endured during these three months. Although no fighting was necessary, yet some of the soldiers who were with the Regiment then, and are with it still, speak of those three months as the hardest part of their military life. The duty consisted principally in working on the fortifications, and guard duty. This was very onerous.
To make it harder on the boys, they were poorly provided with food and clothing. Little or no provision was made for blankets. Many of them, if they got their shirts washed, had to take them off and go without while it was being done. If they did this, they were immediately attacked by a powerful and numerous enemy, in the shape of mosquitoes. While the rebels like to attack and surprise our boys, when clothed with new uniforms, this numerous army prefer to make the attack when our soldiers are entirely stripped of their coats and their shirts.
During the time the Regiment was in camp at Cairo, Kentucky was pursuing that policy which proved so ruinous to her. She was attempting to enforce a strict neutrality with reference to the war. Parties were organized. No efforts were made to prevent disloyal men from organizing companies, and committing hostilities. The State was soon filled with rebels against the government. Several scouting parties were sent from Cairo into Kentucky for the purpose of scattering those parties and watching their movements. In most of these, the 9th Ill. Inft., was represented by detachments.
In July, an expedition which was under command of Col. J. J. Morgan of the 10th Ill., and which consisted of twelve companies, and one section of artillery, was sent to Indian Creek, Mo., to break up an organization of Rebels encamped at that place. The expedition was made up of detachments from each of the regiments in camp at Cairo at that time. The 9th Ill. was represented by Companies C and H.
The Rebels prowled about in Missouri and Kentucky, and there were frequent rumors of attacks to be made upon Cairo. But the three months rolled past without any attack.
There are some incidents that occurred during this period, worthy of notice here. One of them occurred with our present highly esteemed Surgeon, Dr. Guilick. He was then a private in the Regiment. One day he was stationed to guard a powder magazine. It was an important post. The Dr. had served in the army in Germany. He knew a picket should never leave his post until relieved from duty. The rule for picket, is two hours on duty and four off, during the twenty-four. The first two hours passed a