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8th Ill. History - In Dribs and Drabs

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  • 8th Ill. History - In Dribs and Drabs

    The backbone of this 'mess' is the Illinois Adjutant General's report. But you'll also find some firsthand wartime accounts (and post-war), published works, some OR stuff, etc. The typos, well, I'm probably to blame for most. Sorry about it being so disjointed, but maybe readers can glean something useful or interesting from what I've researched/scrounged.

    Hopefully there will be more,
    John Pillers

    - - - - - - -


    On the 25th day of April, 1861, the Regiment was organized at Springfield, and mustered in for three months' service. Richard J. Oglesby, of Decatur, was appointed colonel. The regiment was immediately sent to Cairo. Companies A and D, in command of Capt. Isaac Pugh, were sent to Big Muddy river, to guard the railroad bridge, as there was danger of its destruction by rebel sympathizers, to prevent the transportation of troops and supplies. Relieved by other troops, these companies rejoined the regiment at Cairo.


    A 1996 issue of North South Trader featured the following item. It was submitted by Ken Baumann ('Arming the Suckers') and was taken from 'The Book of Anecdotes of the War of the Rebellion by F. Kirkland, Chicago, 1889) - - - When the Union army was stationed at Bird's Point Missouri, secessionists were rather supposed to have 'rights that a soldier must respect' and there were stringent orders against jayhawking. Col. (later Gen.) Oglesy was then in command of the 8th Illinois. Well, one day his fife and drum majors went out into the woods to practice a new tune. Attracted no doubt by the melody, a fine fat shoat of musical proclivities came near - alas! for the safety of his bacon, too near - for the bass-drummer, by a change of base, made a base attack on his front; while the fifer, by a bold and rapid flank movement, charged him in the rear. 'Twas soon over a few well-directed volleys of clubs and other persuasives were applied, and piggy went dead again - a martyr to his love of music! But how to get the deceased pork into camp? After considerable discussion an idea 'struck' the drummer (not so as to hurt him)/ "We will put him in the drum." "Just the thing, by hokey," said the fifer. One head was taken out and the hog stored, and our heroes started for their quarters, carrying the drum between them. In the meantime the regiment went out for a dress parade; and the colonel, somewhat vexed at the absence of the principle musicians, no sooner saw the gents than, in a voice of reprimand, he ordered them to take their places with the music. The drum-bearers halted, looked at each other, then at the colonel, but said never a word. The colonel repeated his order in a style so emphatic that it could not be misunderstood. The dealers in pork felt a crisis had arrived and that an explanation had become a military necessity. So the drummer, going up close to the colonel, in a low voice made him acquainted with teh status of affairs, winding up with, "We 'low, Colonel, to bring the bets quarter over to your mess." "Sick, eh?" thundered the colonel. "Why din't you say so at first? Go to your quarters? Of course! Battaaaaalion, riiight face!" The colonel had fresh pork for supper. - - - - - - -


    James P. Moore, Co. K, 8th Ill., “War's First Rude Alarm In 1861” - MOLLUS read on Dec. 13, 1892:
    "The old mill at the point, formed by the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, was torn down and fortifications erected, mounted with heavy guns. Our camp was on this point in a low, falt space between the two levees, which had been built to protect the town from the two rivers named, and which converged almost at right angles at this fortification on the extreme point ... "

    An 8th soldier, William H. Austin, Co. C., wrote to John Sargent of a visit to a small Missouri plantation of sorts:
    Cario, Illinois June 3, 1861 ... The slaves looked upon us with eyes dancing, mouths open with great astonishment as we all carried a rifle, revolver, bouie knife and I expect we looked a little wild ourselves.”


    Account by special corresondent, NY Tribune, June 18, 1861 edition - morning of June 12, 1861 the steamer City of Alton was boarded by 'Dick Oglesby' - 8th Ills, with Co. E and F, and a 6-pound and 12-pound howitzer. This force was sent to scout down river toward Columbus, Ky. The correspondent writes:

    "They are solid, compact, well-knit men, with fuller faces and broader chests than we usually see east of the Alleghanies. Their fine, intelligent countenances were now radiant at the prospect of having something to do. They were ignorant of their destination, but there was evidently work on hand, and deep were the regrets of the companies left behind that they too could not participate in it." "He is a heavy, well-built, deep-chested man, with full, shaven face and eyes and mouth which indicate firmness and self-reliance. His bearing is soldierly; you would recognize him, anywhere, in civilians's dress as one familiar with the tented field." Oglesby sez "You have not been selected for tis service because I deem you any better soldiers than the other eight companies of my regiment, but because you are just as good. We have reason to believe that there are Rebel troops posted upon some of these islands and shores. They may attack us, or it may be necessary for us to attack them, before we return. Can I rely upon you? (Cheers, and cries of 'Aye,' 'Aye'} If we are attacked, either by infantry, or artillery, will every man of you stand firm, until the word of command, and obey it promptly when given? {'Aye,' 'Aye'} In case we make a charge, shall I lead, or will you? {'Lead us,' 'we'll follow you the the last'} That is all; if any emergency arises, I want you all to do your duty like brave men, in a glorious cause. {We will,' 'we wil.' accompanied by three cheers and a tiger.] 'Upon a tall staff, a few yards from the river, a Secession flag, fifteen feet long, with its eight stars and three stripes, was flying triumphantly. It was hard to see the symbol of treason flaunting the stars within a stone's throw of them; but we steamed slowly by, and continued the reconnoisance for two miles below the town, without hearing from any of the masked batteries about which we have had so many reports." master of the boat, Capt. William Barnes 'Come back, on board; come, every man of you," shouted Col. Oglesby "I never played Yankee Doodle so easily before," remarked the fifer, "as when I saw that flag coming down, and those ladies waving their handkerchiefs; why, it seemed to play itself." An examination of the flag showed that each of the stars bore the name, in pencil, of the young lady who sewed it on. The Maggies, and Julias, and Sues, and Kates, and Sallies, who thus left their autographs upon their handiwork, did not anticipate that it would so soon be scrutinized by 'Yankee' soldiers. The Jeff. Davis flag was run up, with its union reversed, under the Stars and Stripes.”

    James P. Moore also described the flag-grabbing expedition down river:
    "They found the flag unprotected, for at their approach its brave defenders had taken to the woods. The flag was brought back triumphantly and Brigadier-General Prentiss, then in command at Cairo, from the balcony of the St. Charles Hotel, addressed the excited thong of soldiers from camp, (and all were there), concerning this bloodless victory. And, after exhibiting the large Rebel flag as the first trophy of the war captured by Union troops, he swung it above his head and sent it whirling down amidst the now yelling mass of soldiers, saying, as it fell, in that most tragic manner peculiar to the man, "Take it and trail it in the dust." A thousand unlifted hands seized it, and in a twinkling it was in shreds."


    The regiment remained at Cairo during its term of service, when it was mustered out. July 25th, 1861, the regiment reorganized and was mustered in for three years' service.

    Of a short march through Missouri backwoods, Wm. H. Austin, Co. C., wrote to John Sargent:
    July 2, 1861 Cario, Ill. ' ... the inmates of the house being somewhat surprised at such an expected guest armed and equiped in every way for battle - they immediately left the house leaving behind them a noble supply of grub well prepared of which I eat heartly taking with me all I could carry in my knapsack of which Capt. Ashmore and a number of the boys partook freely ...'

    He later wrote:
    Camp Defiance Cario, Ill. 9 Sept. 1861 ... I shall say my health is not as good as it was when I saw you last but nothing serious is the cause of my ill health. I witnefsed the departure of the 8th Regiment this evening. Destination Norfolk, Mo. They are it is thought by many going to have some hard fighting to do - it is said there is 7000 secesh fellers at the above named point, if so they will see some hard times - there is also 7 Regiments from Missouri, Iowa and Ills. with them making our force qual if not superior to Pillows - there is a great stir in the city tonight with occasional cheers for the Union though many seem cast down quite a number of the boys of the 10th Regiment is cursing their officers on account of not getting to go - I have not been in camp since Saturday - I have been in Ky. three days last week and left Paducha last Saturday morning 3 o'clock - I shall stay until Monday next - no more at present - give my respects to Maggis. I yet remain your friend as ever.”

    The regiment remained at Cairo until October, 1861, when it was ordered at Bird's Point, Mo.


    Frederick Todd's book, America Military Equipage, says, "Very little information exists regarding the style and type of uniforms worn by the 90-day volunteers. The first recorded uniform was merely 'a gray shirt, blue cap, and red blanket roll,' for the first six regiments. In May some 5,000 uniforms arrived from New York, and these were issued to the first six regiments, number 7-12. It was described as a, 'Jacket and pants of course gray cloth, blue zouave cap, and substantial shoes.' These uniforms were later found to be of 'shoddy' construction, the work of unscrupulous contractors." Charles Wills in his diary recording his service in Co. E wrote in late May, "We had our uniforms about a week. Gray satinette pants and roundabout, with a very handsome blue cap, nine brass buttons up the jacket front and gray flannel shirt. We are obliged to wash dirty clothes the day we change and to black our shoes every evening, and polish our buttons for dress parade. Our company is the only one that does this though, and they call us dandies. We have done more work and better drilling though, than any of them, so we dont mind it. Cairo June 9, 1861 Our whole brigade of six regiments had a parade yesterday. We are all uniformed now and I think we made a respectable appearance. The general gave us a special notice.”

    To go back a little to another quote from Todd's book, that reads, "On 20 August 1861, as a reward for enlisting, the first Brigade of Illinois Volunteers (7th through 12th Regiments) were to receive a distinctive brigade uniform. It was described by a reporter of the Chicago Tribune: The uniform is in two suits, the first, a fine doeskin casimere ... (grey) coat with a short skirt, midway to the knee, trimmed with scarlett for artillery, and blue for infantry. The pants are the same material. The hat is of a soft durable felt, gray, moderately high crowned, cocked at the sides by a simple button. The fatigue suit is a shirt, pantaloon and zouave cap in a firm hickory cloth. The overcoat is the usual army pattern. "Contemporary evidence points out that this 'Brigade' uniform was not issued to all six regiments. Only the 8th, 9th, 11th and 12th Regiments seem to have received it, if the evidence found in contemporary references is correct. From various letters, diaries and order books, it appears that the Brigades uniforms were issued in late August or early September. "Contracts for gray cloth ceased upon receipt of a War Department letter dated 23 September 1861, which requested 'that no troops hereafter furnished by your State, for the service of the Government, be uniformed in gray - that being the color generally worn by the enemy.' The issuance of gray clothing did cease on receipt of this order, but gray uniforms continued to be worn by Illinois soldiers well into 1862." Charles Wills of the 8th described a uniform issued to the 8th which must have been the 'brigade uniform' noted above. On Sept. 1, 1861, Wills wrote, "A uniform was also furnished us last week. It is of all-wool goods, and not so heavy as to be uncomfortable. The color is very fine gray, the pants are fashionably cut and equal to such as would cost six dolars in Peoria. The coats have short skirts and are rather fancifully trimmed in blue ... We will have a fatigue suit shortly."


    During this time it received a thorough drill, and attained a high state of discipline. With other troops it made expeditions to Cape Girardeau, Commerce, Bloomfield, and Norfolk, Mo., and Paducah and Blandville, Ky., and joined in the feint on Columbus, Ky., in January. The move to Bloomfield is fixed in the memory of the soldiers of the Eighth by the raid on the rebel Colonel Hunter's well stocked farm, and the rapid return march from Bloomfield to Cape Girardeau. This trip to Bloomfield resulted in the printing of a newspaper called the Stars and Stripes.

    John Pillers
    Looking for images/accounts of 7th through 12th Ill. Inf. regiments from April 1861 - April 1862

    'We're putting the band back together'

  • #2
    Re: 8th Ill. History - In Dribs and Drabs

    Soldiers of the 8th Illinois had a hand in the first printing of a soldier's newspaper called The Stars and Stripes. While Grant was at Belmont, Oglesby led an expedition just to the west toward Bloomfield, Mo. There was no such fighting but the soldiers got into a little trouble at the small town. Plus, some bored printers by trade found an abandoned newspaper shop....

    John Pillers

    Looks like a goof or typo in my first posting regarding the flag capture at Columbus, KY. What it should have said was that Oglesby wouldn't let any soldiers go ashore, but the steamer's captain said he was a civilian and not under Uncle Dick's orders. He went ashore and grabbed the flag.

    - - - - - - - - -


    There following are some diary accounts, official reports related to the Bloomfield expedition of November 1861:

    "Diary of Lt. W.D. Harland and Orderly Sgt. Thos. C. Watkins - Co. H. 18th Ill. Regt." • Nov. 3 - We are ordered to be ready for a march this evening to a town called Bloomfield at present occupied by Jeff Thompson and his band. We started in company with the 8-11 and 29th Illinois Regiments and landed at Commerce, a small river town in Missouri where we encamped for the night. Sometime ago this place was occupied by the Rebels but our gunboats went up the river from Cairo and drove them out. This evening I saw a ball that was thrown from our gun boats at them and buried itself four feet in the bank close to a house where Jeff Thompson was at the time (it was a pity it had not struck him). • Nov. 4 - We resumed our march this morning in a south western direction and traveled hard until 3 o'clock when we pitched out tents on Col. Abe Hunter's farm. (Col. Hunter is in the Rebel army). The men suffered considerable from sore feet and the weight of their knapsacks as it is the first trial of tramping. Water was very scarce and there was considerable suffering on account of that. After our tents were pitched we turned out for supper which consisted of Secesh Pork, mutton, turkeys, geese, chicken, goat flesh, &c, &c, &c, it was a grand feast for us tired and hungry soldiers. • Nov. 5 - Left our camp at Col. Hunters and resumed our march in a south western direction. Nothing new or important occured during the day. The roads were very good and water very plenty. We traveled from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. Our rations of fresh meat was rather scarce today from the fact that the 18th was rear guard of the Division and did not get into camp until the boys from other Regiments had killed nearly all the Secesh stock. I forgot to mention that on our first entering Commerce Lieut. Carson, one of our scouts overtook a Rebel cavalry man who attempted to get away from him when Carson run his sword through him. Lieut. Carson has taken several prisoners since we started and this evening he killed another Rebel at Little River bridge and captured another. The Rebels have burnt Little River bridge to delay our progress but it will be but a slight delay as we can easily repair it. We encamped at Little River, a nice little stream of clear water and the best we have had on the march. • Nov. 6 - Left camp on Little River at 9 o'clock and continued our march in a western direction until 9 o'clock when we halted to wait for our train and the Rear Guard. Our march is conducted in a vary cautious manner owning to the fact that we are very near the enemie's camp and their force is unknown to us. Our cavalry scouts have had a brush with them already on Running Slough about five miles from where we camped last night. Our camp tonight is on the Castor River, a nice clear stream, running south. Our teams have not come up with us yet and a detail of ten men from each company to go back after them as they are stuck fast in the Nigger Wool Swamp. There is nothing new only it is reported that Jeff Thompson has retreated towards New Madrid with all his force. • Nov. 7- Struck out tents and resumed march still continuing in a south western course. The roads are very and lead up into the hills. At 12 o'clock we halted in Bloomfield, Missouri. The Rebels have retreated from here and we are encamped on their old camping ground, a level plot of timber adjoining the town on the south side. It is a beautiful camping ground, plenty of wood and water, and from appearance, I think there is any amount of forage. We found the Iowa 10th encamped here. The men gathered a lot of contraband goods together in town and gave them up to the Major for distribution among the several companies. There was shovels, axes, saws, hatchets, hats, tobacco, molasses, coffee-pots, coffee mills, dishes, looking glasses &c, &c, &c. The goods were divided equally and tobacco was given out to all. Some of our boys who were never satisfied, began cursing, because someone else got more than they did, or at least they thought so, when Lieutenant Harland gathered it up and took it back to the Colonel. • Nov. 8 - Left camp about 5 a.m. and marched all day quick time making thirty-three miles, a great many of our men gave out on account of sore feet. We marching in a south eastern course through Spring Hill, a shabby looking country town. Ten miles from Bloomfield several our wagons turned over but nothing was lost or broken but our camp kettles which were tied on behind a wagon and we miss them at supper tonight but we forget our hardships at the thought of our boys hoisting the Stars and Stripes over Bloomfield Court House with three Hearty Cheers, which we did yesterday at Bloomfield. Last night two of our boys (printers) went into a printing office used for printing Secesh newspapers, and printed a small Union paper called the Stars and Stripes of which tonight we have a goodly supply. We are encamped tonight at a place called Round Pond about 17 miles from Cape Girardeau. We are all too tired to pitch our tents tonight so we are going to take the open air. The roads were very good but hilly and our men are coming in in squads of from one to ten in each squad. Poor fellows they are completely tired out. One of our Sergeants named Williams (an old soldier) got to camp before us and had the hind quarter of a beef for the company when we got to camp which w very acceptable as we were very hungry. When he goes out on a foraging expedition and gets nothing no one else need try. Our supper consists of tonight beef, liver, coffee and bread that was baked by Tom. I am laying down writing by the light of a camp fire.

    "Army Life of an Illinois Soldier” - 3rd Sgt. Charles Wills - Co. E. 8th Ill. Regt. wrote:

    “Cape Girardeau, November 11, 1861 We have just arrived here after a week's absence from any sign of civilized life. Saturday the 2d we (our company) went out six or seven miles from the Point to guard a bridge on the Cairo and Fulton Railroad. Sunday we came back to the Point, and found the tents of our regiment all struck and everything prepared for a march. By dark we were all safely stowed on the "Aleck Scott," and also five companies of the 11th Illinois. At 10 p.m. the boat shoved out, but had to tie to all night about 10 miles up the river on account of the fog. Monday at 10 a.m. we landed at Commerce between Cape Girardeau and Cairo and stayed there all night. Up to this time we had not the most distant idea of where we were going, but here we began to guess that we were after Jeff Thompson and company. • Tuesday morning we started back into the country and camped for the night on Colonel Hunter's farm, a distance of 18 miles. (I forgot to mention that the 18th and 29th [sic] Illinois with three companies, cavalry and two pieces artillery joined us before we started from Commerce, making a total of some 2,200 men.) This Colonel Hunter is in the Rebel Army. When we stopped at his farm here was a large flock of sheep, at least 40 goats and pigs, turkey, geese, chickens and ducks without number. After we had been there a half hour I don't believe there was a living thing on the farm that did not come with our train. I never saw a slaughterhouse on as large a scale before. The next day the boys made an awful uproar on the road, playing that the sheep, hogs, geese, etc., inside of them were calling for their comrades. Wednesday night we stopped at Little Water River and the slaughtering commenced immediately. All along the road up to this place every horse of mule that showed himself was gobbled instanter, a bridge cramped, and some footman made happy. It was hard to tell whether our force was infantry or cavalry that night. This was too much for the colonel, so next morning he drew the brigade up in column of company and gave us fits. He made the men turn every horse loose; told us that the next man that cramped anything without permission would be dealt with as severely as the regulations would allow. That suited me. I never have been disgusted with soldiering save in those two days, and I tell you that I did then feel like deserting. When we are marching though a country as thoroughly secesh as this is, I think that the men should be allowed fresh meat at the expense of the natives; but there is a proper and soldier-like way to get it. We can send our foraging party ahead and have all we want at camp when we halt, but to allow men to butcher everything they see is moblike. • Wednesday night Jeff's men tried to burn a bridge a short distance from us and this led to a little brush, but the cavalry only were engaged. • Thursday we marched all day and went into camp at night without seeing a horse. The march was through the "Black Swamp." The ground was covered with this black moss four inches deep and so think that 'tis like a carpet. That was an awful gloomy road and I was glad enough to land at a nice clear stream and have orders to pitch tents. That night not a thing was pressed. • The next day we got into Bloomfield about 9 a.m. and found Jeff gone. For the third time we pitched tents on one of his deserted camps. I have just now heard that we started with orders to push on down to New Madrid, but here the orders were countermaded and we were started to Cape Girardeau. This Bloomfield is a rank Rebel hole. The first Rebel company in Missouri was raised here. It is the county seat of Stoddard or Scott, and a very fine place. Here the boys got the understanding that we were to be allowed some liber and take them they did. They broke open four or five stores whose owners had left, and helped themselves Colonel Dick (Oglesby) thought this was going too far, so he stopped it and sent a police force around to collect the stolen (pressed rather) property. I walked around to take a look at the pile they collected. There were lots of women's bonnets, girl's hats, mallets, jars of medicine, looking glasses three feet long, boy's boots, flat irons, a nice side table and I don't know what wasn't there. It beat anything I ever saw. The men had no way to carry these things but on their backs, and what the devil they stole them for is more than I know. Well, the colonel divided the stuff out again among the en, but stopped stealing entirely for the future. We have been a respectable regiment since then. • On the march back to the Cape, the 10th Iowa was ahead of us and they fired several houses. We (our regiment) saved one of the houses but the rest burned down. The march back to Cape was a fast one but quiet. We arrested some 20 or 30 of Jeff's men but released them all again. At Bloomfield my tent was pitched under a tree on which we saw the marks of three ropes to the ends of which Colonel Lowe attached three men not very long since. The ropes had cut through the moss on the tree and the marks will be visible a long time. • ... We have marched over 100 miles this trip, and we have not seen a mile of prairie. I haven't been 20 feet from a tree for three months. ... Our regiment will certainly be in the next fight at Columbus. We start back to the Point at 3 to-morrow morning."

    “Civil War Diaries of James W. Jessee” – Jessie of Co. K. 8th Ill. Regt, wrote:

    Sunday 3d - Received marching orders 2 oclock P.M. Went Board the Aleck Scott moved up the river 15 miles hove too and remained on the shore until 6 oclock A.M. • 4th - moved on up the River to Commerce 35 miles, landed at 11 A.M. encamped for the night • Tuesday the fifth - struck tents at half past six and commenced march a little west of south marched 15 miles and pitched tents on the farm of Abraham Hunter "Secesh" who hold Rank in the Rebel army • Wednesday the 6th - Struck tents at 6:30 AM took up line of march much delayed in consequence of Bad Roads encamped for the night on a little River 15 miles two men accidentaly shot confiscating hogs, but slightly. • Thursday 7th - marched only seven miles corrsed over and encamped on the Bank of Cascaska River. nothing of note took place during the night part of our Baggage did not get into camp on consequence of Bad Road • Friday 8th - took up line of march much delayed waiting for teams arrived at Bloomfield one P.M. distance seven miles encamped for the Night South of town • Saturday the 9th - Struck ... and commenced a retreat ... marched 15 miles and encamped for the night on mudy Creek Sunday the 10th - Struck tents at 5 oclock A.M. and took up line of march made a force march of 26 miles and encamped on White Water River for the night • Monday 11th - commenced march at 6 A.M. arriving Cape Girardeau at 11 A.M. distance 8 miles marching through Town and camped on the River.”

    There following are official reports related to the Bloomfield expedition of November 1861. They include those of Col. Richard J. Oglesby, commanding the column from Bird's Point to Bloomfield (via Commerce); Brig. Gen. U.S. Grant; Col. N. Perczel, commanding the column from Cape Girardeau to Bloomfield; and M. Jeff Thompson, Missouri State Guard encamped at Bloomfield. Some reports are after-action, others are orders prior to the march.

    HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT SOUTHEAST MISSOURI Cairo, November 2, 1861. • COLONEL: A dispatch just received requires me to send a force to the Saint Francois River to destroy rebels congregated there. I have determined to give you the command, and will require your regiment and three companies of cavalry from Bird's Point to prepare for as early a move to-morrow as practicable. The balance of your command will be sent from this side of the river. You will require 14 days' rations and about four days' forage. This latter article, being heavy, must be supplied by teh country through which you pass. Thirty of thirty-five teams must be supplied from your side of the river, and to get them you will have to draw upon the regimental transportation of the whole command there. Detailed instructions will be drawn up for you before starting. U.S. Grant, Brigadier-General, Commanding.(District of Southeast Missouri)

    BIRD'S POINT, Mo. November 13, 1861. • GENERAL: I have to report that upon receiving your oder at 12 o'clock at night November 2, I immediately organized the expedition to move inland from this point and in the direction of the Saint Francois River. On Monday morning the forces, consisting of the 18th Regiment Illinois Volunteers, commanded by Col. Michael K. Lawler; the 29th Regiment Illinois Volunteers, commanded by Col. James Rearden, and on section of Captain Schwartz's light artillery, commanded by Lt. Gumbart, from Brigadier-General McClernand's brigade, Cairo, Ill., and the 8th Regiment Illinois Volunteers, Lt. Col. Frank L. Rhoads commanding; one battalion 11th Regiment Illinois Volunteers, Lt. Col. T.E.G. Ransom commanding; Capt. Pfaff's cavalry; and Cap. Langen's cavalry, Lt. Hanson commanding and Capt. Noleman's Centralia cavalry, Lt. Tufts commanding, were landed at Commerce, Mo. The day was occupied in unloading supplies and arranging transportation for the march. Bearing in mind your order to pursue the rebel formed under Jeff. Thompson wherever they might be found, and to destroy the same if found, I marched directly for Bloomfield, Mo., at which point i was reliably informed the rebel forces were encamped. To avoid delay I moved the column directly towards the Nigger Wool Swamp, and crossed it and the swamp between it and Little River, at Stringer's Ferry, 7 miles in one day. To do this it became necessary to construct several bridges, and to cut out a new road in several places. The rebel pickets were met by my advance guard on the bridge over the lake in the swamp. A slight skirmish ensued. An effort was made by the rebels to burn the bridge. It was soon repaired, under the direction of Dr. John M. Phipps, assistant surgeon of the 8th Regiment. In the afternoon, Thursday, 7 miles from Bloomfield, I received a note from Colonel Perczel, of the 10th Regiment Iowa Volunteers, informing me that he had taken possession of the town without resistance. The forces under General Thompson retreated in the direction of New Madrid on the night of the 6th instant. At Bloomfield I received your order to turn the column in the direction of New Madrid. I had already sent forward on the roads toward New Madrid Colonel Perczel with his regiment about six miles, when Col. William H.L. Wallace came up with the remaining companies of his regiment, and took command of the 11th Regiment in person. Through Colonel Wallace I received your verbal order to return to Bird's Point. To avoid the terrible swamp in front of Bloomfield I returned by Cape Girardeau. Colonels Lawler and Rearden marched to Cape Girardeau in two days, the 8th and 11th Illinois and 10th Iowa following the next day. The whole force arrived at Bird's Point on Tuesday, the 12th, having marched over 100 miles, and embarked and debarked twice, and traveled by water 85 miles besides, in less than nine days. I detained the forces one day at Bloomfield out of the nine. The chief object of the expedition having failed, I have to inform you that the information derived about the country, and of the feelings of the inhabitants and the purposes of the rebellion, have fully compensated all the labor it has required. A more unhappy and deluded people I have never seen. Wherever the column moved consternation filled the whole community, and the face that without regard to sex or age the whole people were not outraged and destroyed seemed to stupefy them. I have to report the wanton destruction of property in one or two instances, otherwise the march through the country was most exemplary and satisfactory. My orders were obeyed with cheerfulness and alacrity. After four days I obtained forage from the people of the country for all the mules and horses. Four-fifths of the inhabitants are ready to return to the Union whenever the Government can assure them from punishment by the rebel army. The yoke of Jeff. Thompson is a heavy one, and the people are becoming disgusted at his arbitrary sway. The scrip he has substituted for a good currency is totally worthless. His brutality in murdering in cold blood so many good citizens of Missouri, and suffering them to rot unburied in full view of the public, has met its just return in the horror with which he and his whole command are beginning to be appreciated by the people of Southeast Missouri. Respectively yours, R.J. Oglesby, Colonel Eighth Regt. Ill. Vols., Comdg. Expedition.

    HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT SOUTHEAST MISSOURI Cairo, November 4, 1861. • ... you will send out an expedition towards Bloomfield - the 10th Iowa Volunteers. Send with them four days' rations and four days' forage. Caution the commanding officer of the expedition in your instructiosn that no marauding or foraging is to be allowed under any circumstances. Private houses are not to be entered against the will of the people, except in pursuance of orders of the commanding officer, and then only on business to carry out the object of the expedition. When it becomes necessary to have forage for the transporattion trains it will be taken and vouchers given at a fair valuation and accounted for. ... U.S. Grant, Brigadier-General, Commanding.(District of Southeast Missouri)

    CAMP FREMONT, Cape Girardeau, MO., November 12, 1861. • ... On the morning of the 7th I received a letter from Colonel Oglesby, informing me that he would be at Bloomfield with his forces between 3 and 4 o'clock in the afternoon, and that he would wait for my arrival. As I was at that time only 6 miles from Bloomfield, and hoping Thompson might make a stand against my threes, I decided no to wait, but to march forward. At the moment of starting my scouts brought in two citizens of Bloomfield, bearing a flag of truce; they tendered the submission of their town to the legal authorities and begged for protection. They reported that Thompson retreated the day previous toward Saint Luke. I then marched forward, arrived in Bloomfield at 10 o'clock a.m., took possession of it, and promised protection to the citizens upon condition of their good behavior. Unfortunately some disorders occurred. They were, however, speedily stopped by the appointment of a provost-marshal. ... N. Perczel, Colonel, Commanding 10th Iowa Infantry (Grant would also provide to his commander at Saint Louis, additional instructions which Grant reported he gave to Oglesby. They were nearly identical to what was posted above, but also included some more details.)

    HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT SOUTHEAST MISSOURI Cairo, November 3, 1861. • ... The object of the expedition is to destroy this force, and the manner of doing it is left largely at your discretion, believeing it better not to trammel you with instructions. Transportation will be furnished you for fourteen days' rations and four or five days' forage. All you may require outisde of this must be furnished by the country through which you pass. In taking supplies you will be careful to select a proper officer to press them, and require a receipt to be given, and the articles pressed accounted for in the same manner as if purchased. You are particularly enjoined to allow no foraging by your men. It is demoralizing in the extreme, and is apt to make open enemies where they would not otherwise exist. Yours, &., U.S. Grant, Brigadier-General

    (It is interesting enough to include some words from their enemy - M. Jeff Thomson, brigadier-general that he sent to his headquarters, First Military District, Missouri State Guard. He has been notified that the Federals are approaching from Cape Girardeau and Commerce. The latter would be the column under Oglesby.)

    BLOOMFIELD, Mo., November 5, 1861 - 8 p.m. • ... I have issued orders disposing of my forces for a defense of this position, but as the troops from Cape Girardeau will have to cross no swamp to get here, their numbers may overwhelm me, and force me southward. If there is no possible chance to whip them, I may forego the pleasure of fighting them for the purpose of trying to save this county, which has always been very true to us, and may be sacked entirely if I should kill many of their men. ... M. Jeff Thomson, Brigadier-General, Commanding.

    John Pillers
    Looking for images/accounts of 7th through 12th Ill. Inf. regiments from April 1861 - April 1862

    'We're putting the band back together'


    • #3
      Re: 8th Ill. History - In Dribs and Drabs

      Thank you, Skulker John. By the way, that infamous image of the lads reproducing that first Issue of Stars and Stripes is always a welcome sight. I hope that image didn't get lost in the big crash last August.
      [B]Charles Heath[/B]

      [URL=""]12 - 14 Jun 09 Hoosiers at Gettysburg[/URL]

      [EMAIL=""]17-19 Jul 09 Mumford/GCV Carpe Eventum [/EMAIL]

      [EMAIL=""]31 Jul - 2 Aug 09 Texans at Gettysburg [/EMAIL]

      [EMAIL=""] 11-13 Sep 09 Fortress Monroe [/EMAIL]

      [URL=""]2-4 Oct 09 Death March XI - Corduroy[/URL]

      [EMAIL=""] G'burg Memorial March [/EMAIL]


      • #4
        Re: 8th Ill. History - In Dribs and Drabs


        Well, somewhere on the dang computer is the Fort Henry/Donelson to Pittsburg Landing section.

        Now, if I could only find it.....

        John Pillers

        John Pillers
        Looking for images/accounts of 7th through 12th Ill. Inf. regiments from April 1861 - April 1862

        'We're putting the band back together'