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103rd Illinois Infantry
Regiment History

 
 
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Adjutant General's Report

About the 6th of August 1862, Hon. A. C. Babcock, Captain G. W. Wright, late of the Seventeenth Illinois, Mr. Peterson and other influential men of the county, concluded that it was possible to form an entire regiment from Fulton county.

On the 6th of September nine companies arrived at Peoria, went into camp, and organized as the One Hundred and Third Regiment, electing A. C. Babcock Colonel; Parley Stearns Lieutenant Colonel; G. W. Wright Major; W. A. Dickerman Quartermaster and S. S. Tipton Adjutant.

It had been understood with Governor Yates that in case Fulton county could not, by the 1st of October, furnish a sufficient number of men to form a regiment, he would send a company from some other county.

About the 27th of September, Colonel Babcock visited Governor Yates to get the tenth company. On referring to the last morning report, it was found there were enough to muster ten companies.

Colonel Babcock returned, and on the 1st of October ordered that the extra men be formed into a company. On the 2d of October this was done, when the Regiment was mustered into the service of the United States by Lieutenant Knox, U.S.A.

The 18th of October Colonel Babcock and Lieutenant Colonel Stearns resigned their commissions to the Governor, never having mustered into the United States service. The vacancies were filled as follows:

Quartermaster Dickerman was made Colonel. Major Wright was made Lieutenant Colonel. Captain Willison, of Company A, Major. Lieutenant Bishop, Captain of Company A. Lieutenant Worley, First Lieutenant of Company A. H. Willison, Second Lieutenant of Company A. Second Lieutenant Mellor, of Company F, was mad Quartermaster. J. H. Bailey was made Second Lieutenant of Company F.

The officers of the One Hundred and Third had many of them seen service in other regiments, the Seventeenth Infantry furnishing six; the Eighth Infantry two; the Seventh Cavalry one, and the Fifty-fifth one. For this reason the Regiment early took a front rank in regard to drill.

The 24th of October, the Regiment being in a fair condition for service, received orders to be ready to move at a momentís warning. On the 30th orders were received to move by the Illinois Central Railroad to Cairo. The next day we bade adieu to our many friends in Peoria.

At Cairo we took boat for Columbus, Ky., where we were again placed on cars and at night arrived at Bolivar, Tenn., having made the trip from Peoria in 52 hours.

We were now at the front, within 18 miles of a large and well appointed force of the enemy. We were here assigned to the First Brigade, commanded by Colonel Pugh, of the Forty-first Illinois, Fourth Division, Brigadier General Veach, Thirteenth Army Corps, General J. B. McPherson commanding.

November 3 we moved en route for LaGrange, where we arrived with the advance of the army, went into quarters near, and finally in town. Drill and frequent scouts filled up the time until  November 28, when the army designed by General Grant for the capture of Vicksburg we moved south, and on the 1st of December passed through Holly Springs and camped near Waterford, at which place we were left as garrison, with the additional duty of guarding the railroad to the Tallahatchie River. Companies B, H, I, G, E and K being placed on the railroad with orders to fortify and protect bridges.

We were here attacked by the scourge of the Army, measles, from which we lost a large number of men, who either died or had to be discharged. We remained at Waterford until the 31st of December, when the Regiment moved by rail to Jackson, Tenn., Company G taking the wagon train. At Jackson we were assigned to the Second Brigade of the Second Division of the Sixteenth Army Corps. Colonel Dunham commanding Brigade. Drill and usual camp duties filled up our time until the 10th of March 1863, when we were moved by rail to Lagrange, and assigned to the Second Brigade, First Division, Sixteenth Army Corps. The Brigade consisted of the Sixth Iowa, Fortieth Illinois, Forty-sixth Ohio, Fifteenth Michigan, and One Hundred and Third Illinois, -commanded by Colonel C. C. Wolcott, of the Forty-sixth Ohio. These regiments (with the exception of the Fifteenth Michigan which was afterwards transferred to the Second Division of the Fifteenth Corps,) and with the addition of other regiments from time to time, constituted the Second Brigade of the old Fourth Division, and when it was broken up at Atlanta in September 1864, was the Second Brigade of the First Division, Fifteenth Army Corps, until they were mustered out at Louisville, Ky., in 1865.

We remained at Lagrange, following the regular duties of camp, picket and scout, until the "Grierson Raid" was arranged. The 17th of April, with the garrison of the post under General W. Sooy Smith, left Lagrange striking south to Holly Springs and Waterford, turning to the right until we arrived at Colliersville, on the M. and C. R.R.; thence back to Lagrange. We were gone nine days. Marched one hundred and seventy-five miles on three daysí rations.

About the 1st of May Companies A and F were sent to a small station on Porterís Creek, eight or ten miles east of Grand Junction. While here, Captain Bishop in command, assisted by some natives, captured the notorious guerrilla chief, known as Colonel Sol. Street, with almost his entire command, some twenty-five or thirty.

The 2d of June the entire Regiment was placed on the M. and C. R.R., at different points. The 5th we received orders to go to Memphis. Arrived the 6th, and placed on transports the 8th, started down the river, arriving at Snyderís Bluff, on the Yazoo, the evening of the 13th, and assisted to fortify the Bluffs. We were here attached to the Ninth Corps, Major General J. G. Parks, commanding. The 23d we marched out to Oak Ridge, near Black River, and again fortified, thus guarding the rear approaches to Vicksburg.

July 4th our part of the army, under command of General Sherman, was ordered to advance to Black River, and be ready to cross. We arrived at Black River the night of the 4th. The One Hundred and Third was chosen to force the passage of the river, here four to six rods wide, and from four to ten feet deep. Fortunately, the order was revoked, and the next morning the enemy was gone. We crossed the river, and were en route for Jackson. The 11th we arrived in front of Jackson. On the 16th General Johnson quietly evacuated, and we took possession. During the siege and march we suffered greatly from want of water. There being no wells, and cisterns soon giving out, we were forced to use the water collected in pools, in nearly all of which General Johnson had caused to be killed an ox or a mule, so that to use the water was victuals as well as drink.

The 24th, our Division having been assigned to the Fifteenth Corps, as the Fourth Division, we started back to Black River, which we crossed about the 27th, and went into Camp Sherman, having suffered most terribly while on the road from heat and want of water.

We remained here, drilling, and doing a great deal of private foraging, the fruits of which aided materially in preserving the health of the Regiment, which, now that active service was over, suffered severely. At one time there were but two commissioned officers fit for duty in the Regiment. While here, Company F was on detached duty with the Division Commissary.

September 28th we received marching orders, and the next day the Fifteenth Corps was on the road and arrived at Vicksburg, taking transports for the North as fast as they could be furnished.

The One Hundred and Third arrived at Memphis on the 11th, at 9 A.M., drew new arms (we had heretofore been armed with old fashioned "69" Harperís Ferry muskets), and at 11:20 were  marched out of Memphis to the tune of "The Girl I Left Behind Me".

We arrived at Iuka about the 20th, having made two considerable detours from the direct line of march from Memphis. Here we received pay, transferred some men to the Invalid Corps, refitted the command, and on the 27th crossed the Tennessee River at Eastport, arriving at Florence the 29th, and began fortifying the place.

The 3d of November we again moved out, striking the N. & C. R.R. at Cowan about the 12th following the railroad to Stevenson and Bridgeport, where we arrived about the 18th.

An attempt had been made by General Corse, commanding, to mount the Brigade, and enough horses were picked up to mount the Fifteenth Michigan, and two companies - C and G - of the One Hundred and Third, who were then detached from, and did not rejoin the Regiment until the last of December, at Scottsboro, Ala.

On the 20th we left Bridgeport, and crossing Sand Ridge moved southeast so as to strike Trenton, near which we camped the night of the 21st. After building numerous and extensive fires to mislead the enemy, about midnight we quietly withdrew, marching towards Chattanooga, arrived at Wauhatchie the afternoon of the 22d, crossed the Tennessee at Brownís Ferry, and moved up back of the hills near to the place where Shermanís army subsequently crossed.

The morning of the 24th, with our Division, we crossed the river on the pontoon bridge and began the attack on the north end of Missionary Ridge. By 3 P.M. we had assisted to take the first of the hills, which we securely fortified, and at night drew up by hand the guns of Richardsonís First Missouri Battery and placed them in position.

The next hill, the one through which the tunnel passes, was the strong point of the Confederate right, and was accordingly strongly fortified. On the 25th our Brigade charged these works, and had it been possible, would have taken the point. Captain Walsh, of Company B, was killed within fifty feet of the rebel works, as were a number of men. After doing all that could be done General Corse ordered us to retire, which we did (part way down the hill) and fortified, expecting to try it again soon. In the meantime the rebel left and center had been crushed, which relieved us of further serious fighting. The eight companies at the beginning of the engagement mustered 237 men, of this number, one commissioned officer, Captain Walsh, and 19 enlisted men were killed on the field, and 68 wounded, 5 or 6 of whom died of their wounds.

After the engagement we followed Bragg for nearly two days and then went to the relief of Burnside at Knoxville. Arriving within 20 miles of Knoxville, we learned that General Longstreet had raised the siege and "fled to the mountains".

ĎHaving rested, we set out on our return to Chattanooga, which place we passed through about the 16th of December, arriving at Bridgeport the 19th, many of the men being literally barefooted.

Being newly clothed and paid the 24th, we marched to Stevenson, Ala., where we remained over Christmas. The next day we started for Scottsboro, Ala., but a heavy rain setting in we did not reach that place until the 28th.

In 91 days since we had left Vicksburg we had been transported 500 miles, marched over 1100 and participated in one of the most glorious victories of the war.

While in Scottsboro, nominally winter quarters, few days passed on which we were not called out for forage or scout.

Companies C and G returned to the Regiment, and Company F was again detailed to the commissary department.

About the 8th of February 1864, we were ordered to report at Cleveland, Tenn., which we did on the 14th. Here we were attached to a Provisional Brigade composed of nine regiments drawn like ourselves from the Fifteenth Corps, Colonel Dickerman, of the One Hundred and Third, being in command.

On the 23d we left Cleveland, Division commanded by General Chas. Cruft, and marched to Catoosa Springs that night. Here we joined General Palmer, commanding this detachment of the army.

The 24th we occupied the valley west of Tunnel Hill. During the night of the 24th moved to within three miles of Buzzard Roost Gap. The next morning formed the advance line and moved forward to wake up the enemy, which being accomplished, we were placed in reserve.

At night General Palmer, finding the object of the trip accomplished, ordered us to return to the position of the night before. The object of the movement was to prevent the rebels sending re-enforcementís to their army in Mississippi, while Sherman was making his Meridian Campaign.

The 26th we returned to Catoosa Springs, and the next day to Cleveland. We remained at Cleveland for a few days, then marched back to Scottsboro, where we arrived about the 10th of March. Being properly refitted and reviewed, the 1st of May we set out for Chattanooga, where we arrived the 3d, and began the glorious Atlanta Campaign. The 5th we moved south, by the way of Crawfish Springs and Gordon's Mills, over a part of the battle ground of Chickamauga, through Villanow to the entrance of Snake Creek Gap, fourteen miles southwest of Dalton. By the 14th we were in sight of Resaca, where we lost one man killed and several wounded, among the latter, Major Willison.

The 16th the enemy evacuated. We followed as fast as circumstances would permit through Adairsville and Calhoun, arriving at Kingston the 20th. The 23d we struck southwest to Van Wirt, passing over the "Dug-down" Mountains, and camped on Pumpkin Vine Creek, five miles south-west of Dallas, the night of the 25th. The 26th we moved through Dallas, taking a position about half a mile south-west of town, having quite a lively skirmish, but with no loss to our Regiment. At night works were built. The 27th, early, we were attacked, but the attack was easily repulsed. Here Captain Smith, of Company K, while advancing the skirmish line, with the help of two men, captured a rebel outpost and made twenty-one prisoners.

Our loss this day was two killed and thirty-five wounded. On the afternoon of the 28th General Hardee, with a large force, made several unsuccessful attacks on our Brigade. The loss of the Regiment in this engagement was small in numbers but seemingly irreparable, four being taken prisoners and eleven wounded, among the latter was Colonel W. A. Dickerman, who received a mortal wound near the close of the engagement. He died at 2 o'clock on the morning of the 30th. His loss was severely felt by his command, and it is believed that what reputation the Regiment had for discipline and prompt action when called upon, was largely due to him.

The night of the 1st of June the army moved by the left flank occupying Allatoona Pass, the enemy falling back, his right resting on Kenesaw and left on Lost Mountain. The night of the 2d we rested at Ackworth. The 6th, made a reconnaissance to and beyond Big Shanty and returned. The 7th we advanced to Big Shanty with the army, and about this time were in reserve for three days, this being all the time that we were not in the actual front during the entire Atlanta Campaign.

The 15th of June we moved to the extreme left of our army, and, by a rapid movement of our Brigade, captured some 470 of the enemy, the loss of the Regiment being four killed and seventeen corporals and one sergeant wounded. This was considered a bad day for Chevrons.

June 27th our Brigade, as usual, was chosen from the Fifteenth Corps to assault the impregnable Kenesaw. The attack was unsuccessful. Of twelve officers of the Regiment who went into the action, three were killed: Lieutenant Bailey of Company F, Lieutenants Montgomery and Branson of Company I, and four wounded, among the latter Lieutenant Colonel Wright, commanding the Regiment. Colonel Wright was serving on the Division Staff at the time, but, as the Regiment was without a field officer, he joined it and took command. Of the enlisted men nineteen were killed, the wounded unknown.

The morning of the July 4th we occupied Marietta, detaching a part to bury our dead of the 27th. That duty being accomplished, we moved to the extreme right of the army, near Nickajack Creek, where we remained until about the middle of the month, when, with the Army of the Tennessee, we moved to the extreme left, crossed the Chatahoochie near Roswell, and moved south to Decatur, finally swinging into line around Atlanta. On the 22d, when we were within one mile of the city, Gen. Hood attacked us with great skill and vigor, the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Corps being partially driven back, with the exception of the Brigade on the extreme right of the Seventeenth, our Regiment, being the left Regiment of the Fifteenth Corps, and, joining the Seventeenth Corps, changed from front to rear and back again, until the order had been seven times repeated, each time repelling the attack made on the position. During the day we captured some two or three hundred prisoners. Being partially protected by works our loss was not severe. Lieutenant Blair, of Company D, and three men, being killed.

On the evening and night of the 27th we were transferred to the extreme right of the army, where, on the 28th, while prolonging the line, we were again attacked by General Hood, who threw line after line on our unprotected front, but without effect; our loss was 4 killed.

Remaining in line until the night of the 25th of August we left our works, and passing by the Confederate left struck the A. & W. R.R. near Newman Station, destroyed some miles of track, then passed on the M. & A. R.R., which we struck near Jonesboro on the night of September 1. Here we attacked General Hood who had just retreated from Atlanta, and as usual defeated him.

On the 2d, Captain George Wilkinson of Company B, A.A.A.G., of the Division received a wound, from which he died the 23d. He was one of the best loved and most respected officers in the Regiment.

On the 5th of September we returned to, and camped at East Point, six miles southwest of Atlanta, and took the first nights rest since the 11th of May without the sound of a rebel gun to lull us to sleep. We had been under fire all that time, and in the front except three days. We had been in every engagement that the Brigade, Division or Corps had in any way been engaged, and were as ragged as any Regiment in the army. We were immediately clothed and refitted for business, in the meantime building a few miles of field works just to keep our hands in.

To a detail of the Regiment in the form of a Company, in connection with a Company of the 97th Indiana, was give the duty of guarding the neutral ground, on the part or our army, while prisoners were being exchanged and citizens were being sent south by General Sherman.

The Fourth Division of the Corps was here broken up and the Second Brigade was assigned to the First Division, General Charles Wood commanding.

September 27th, truce being concluded, General Hood having passed to our rear and destroyed the railroad, we followed in his wake as far as Gaylesville, Ala. Returned to Smyrna Camp Ground about the 1st of November, when we were again paid off and refitted. The 15th we passed through the burning city of Atlanta and camped near our old position. The morning of the 16th of November, saw us enroute "to the sea".

The 22d the Second Brigade, numbering 1819 muskets with two pieces of artillery, went to the support of a Division of Cavalry near Griswoldsville, a town ten miles east of Macon. We drove the enemy into and beyond the town, then retired a short distance. He we were soon attacked by the enemy 9,000 strong according to their own report, whom we severely defeated, he losing in killed, wounded and captured more than the number of our entire Brigade. Our loss was three killed and two died of wounds; the loss to the Brigade was 92 killed and wounded.

The morning of December 9, we crossed Ogeechie River and by night the investment of Savannah was completed. The 13th, Fort McAlister being captured, our "Cracker Line" was open. After a week of desultory fighting the army evacuated and the 21st we marched into Savannah and occupied one of the numerous and beautiful parks, for which the city is so justly celebrated, as city guard.

The Regiment participated in the campaign of the Carolinas, leaving Savannah about the middle of January 1865, going to Beaufort, S.C., via Thunder Bolt, where we remained until the 27th. Crossed Broad River, and on the 28th and 29th were on a reconnaissance toward Charleston. Participated in all the skirmishes and battles in which the First Division of the Fifteenth Corps was engaged.

Arrived at Goldsboro, N.C., the 22d of March, and at Raleigh April 14th.

The 30th of April the Regiment left Raleigh en route for Washington, passing through Richmond the 9th or 10th of May, and arrived at Alexandria the 19th or 20th. Being partially refitted, we participated in the Grand Review at Washington on the 24th of May, and camped three or four miles north of the city.

Not being included in the list of the regiments to be mustered out, on the 31st of May we marched to the freight depot of the B. and O. R.R., whose cars had been prepared for us, and started for Louisville, Ky., via Parkersburg, W.Va., where we took boats down the Ohio River, arriving the afternoon of the 4th of June at Louisville, and camping on Bear Grass Creek.

The 14th of June the order for our muster our was received per telegraph, and the 21st, the necessary rolls having been prepared, we were mustered out of the service on the United States by Major Dicky, U.S.A. -having been in the service two years, eight months and twenty days. In that time we had seen service in all the Confederate States but two (Texas and Florida), had been engaged in twenty-four battles, besides the sieges of Vicksburg, Jackson, Atlanta and Savannah, and skirmishes without number. We were ordered to Chicago, where we arrived June 24th, for final pay and discharge, which we received the 9th of July.

Number originally mustered in .......................................................... 804
Recruits ............................................................................................. 84
Total................................................................................................. 892
Field, staff and line officers ................................................................. 33
Aggregate......................................................................................... 925

Of the eighty-four recruits, nine never joined the Regiment. The record of the eight hundred and eighty-three men was as follows:

Killed in battle and died of wounds ..................................................... 81
Killed by accident ................................................................................ 2
Died in the field and at home.............................................................. 129
Died at Andersonville ........................................................................... 7
Total killed and died ......................................................................... 219
Discharged from wounds and disease ................................................ 134
Transferred to Fortieth Illinois.............................................................. 30
Transferred to Veteran Reserve and Invalid Corps............................... 45
Promoted to be commissioned officers ................................................ 35
Promoted to non-commissioned staff..................................................... 5
Mustered out ................................................................................... 375

This includes all the sick and in prison at the muster out of the Regiment, and all not otherwise accounted for.

Of commissioned officers we had........................................................ 68
Killed and died of wounds .................................................................... 8
Died of disease...................................................................................... 1
Resigned ............................................................................................ 23
Dishonorably discharged ....................................................................... 4
Mustered out ...................................................................................... 25
Honorably discharged ........................................................................... 2
Commissioned but not mustered ............................................................ 5


Transcribed by Susan Tortorelli
 

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