The One Hundred and Twenty-Seventh Infantry was raised under the call of President Lincoln for 500,000 volunteers in the summer of 1862. Company A was recruited in Kendall county; Company B, in and around Chicago; Company C, at Elgin; Company D, in Grundy county; Company E, at St. Charles; Company F, at Plano; Company G, in Chicago; Company H, about Lyons; Company I, at Elgin and Company K, at Aurora and Big Rock. The Regiment was mustered in this service at Camp Douglas, Sept. 6, 1862.
The Regiment performed a considerable amount of guard duty in Camp Douglas, where the Harper's Ferry prisoners were sent in the fall of 1862.
The command drew a full complement of English Enfield rifles in the beginning of November 1862, and on the 9th of that month departed over the Illinois Central railway for Cairo, where it went on board the steamer Emerald, and landed at Memphis, Tenn., on the 13th. Went into camp near the city and was assigned to the First Brigade, Second Division, Fifteenth Army Corps, then a part of the right wing of the Army of the Tennessee.
On the 26th of November, departed on the expedition under General W. T. Sherman, in pursuit of Generals Price and Van Doren. Marched to the neighborhood of Oxford, Miss., where the command was reviewed by General Grant, and returned without encountering the enemy, to Memphis, on the 13th of December.
On the 20th of that month, embarked on the Mississippi River as a part of the expedition under General Sherman destined to operated against Vicksburg. Reached the Yazoo December 25, and was engaged in the operations of the Chickasaw Bayou from December 26 to January 1, during which its losses were one man killed (William Elmy of Company H) and seven wounded. A number of men soon after died of malignant measles.
The Regiment was with the expedition under General McClernand, which captured Arkansas Post, January 11, 1863, and was one of the first to plant its colors on the enemy's works. Its losses in the assault were two killed, twenty wounded and nine missing.
Following this expedition the army encamped at Young's Point, and on the peninsula opposite Vicksburg, where the One Hundred and Twenty-seventh performed picket and fatigue duty, working on the famous "canal" begun by General Butler, and during the next three months having a great amount of sickness in its ranks, and losing a large number of men by disease. At times the Regiment could report scarce a hundred men for duty.
The One Hundred and Twenty-seventh took part in the expedition to Steele's and Black Bayous in March, but, though suffering great hardships, returned without loss.
It was engaged in the movements to Grand Gulf, and in the rear of Vicksburg in May, and, when General Grant's army closed upon the doomed city of the 18th of the month, it formed a part of the line of battle on the Fifteenth Corps, on the right of the army.
It was in the bloody assaults upon the Vicksburg lines, May 19 and 22, on the first day planting its colors on the glacis of the rebel works, and maintaining its position until nightfall, when the troops were withdrawn. The losses of the Regiment in the two engagements were about 15 killed and 60 wounded.
During the siege of Vicksburg the Regiment was on detached duty at the Chickasaw Bayou until within a few days of the surrender, when it returned to the trenches, and was present at the surrender of the rebel stronghold, July 4, 1863.
On the night following the surrender all the men fit for duty, less than 50 in number, under Major Curtiss, marched with General Sherman's command, which drove General Joe Johnston from Jackson a few days later. During these operations the remnant of the Regiment was under the immediate command of Lieutenant Richmond, of Company E.
Following the defeat of Johnston, the Fifteenth Corps went into camp near Black River, about fifteen miles east of Vicksburg, where it remained until ordered, in September, to Chattanooga.
After the return of the Fifteenth Corps from Jackson, the One Hundred and Twenty-seventh was granted about twenty-five furloughs and leaves of absence. When the Regiment went into camp at Black River it had less than 100 men fit for duty, about 400 being in hospital on Walnut Hills, in the rear of Vicksburg.
On the 22d of September the Fifteenth Army Corps, under orders from General Grant, broke camp on Black River, and, marching to Vicksburg, took steamers for Memphis, from which point the troops marched overland, 300 miles to Chattanooga, Tenn., where they began to arrive about the 15th of November. There was considerable fighting at Collierville, on the line of the Memphis and Charleston Railway, and in the neighborhood of Tuscumbia, Ala., but, in spite of all opposition, the Corps arrived in splendid fighting trim in front of General Bragg's army at Chattanooga, and took part in the battles of Lookout Mountain and Mission Ridge, Nov. 22 to 25, which ended in the total discomfiture of the rebel forces with heavy loss.
During the march through the mountains between Bridgeport and Chattanooga, the One Hundred and Twenty-seventh was on detached service guarding trains. Following the defeat of Bragg, it formed a part of General Sherman's expedition for the relief of General Burnside, besieged in Knoxville, Tenn., by the rebel general Longstreet, marching to within a few miles of that place and returning to Bridgeport about the 18th of December.
In January 1864, the Fifteenth Corps was cantoned along the Memphis and Charleston Railway, the Divisions occupying Huntsville, Woodville, Larkinsville and Scottsboro, in northern Alabama, the Second Division, to which the One Hundred and Twenty-seventh belonged, being stationed at Larkinsville.
During the latter part of January and the beginning of February, the Regiment took part in the forward movement of the Corps which crossed the Tennessee River near its southern bend, and made a demonstration in favor of General W. T. Sherman, then engaged in his famous raid from Vicksburg toward Meridian, Miss., at the head of the Seventeenth Army Corps.
During the encampment at Larkinsville, a number of the officers of the One Hundred and Twenty-seventh sent for their wives, who visited them in camp and remained several weeks.
A sad occurrence, and one which cast a gloom over the Regiment greater than the loss of twenty men in battle, was the murder of Joseph E. Corby, of Company I, who was found dead in front of our camp on the morning of January 24, 1864.
The Regiment broke camp at Larkinsville on the first day of May 1864, and moved with its Division toward Chattanooga, which place was reached on the 5th, and on the evening of the same day encamped on the Chickamauga battlefield, with the Army of the Tennessee, then under command of General J. B. McPherson.
The One Hundred and Twenty-seventh took part in the series of battles around Resaca, notably the one on the evening of May 14, when the Brigade to which it was attached carried the fortified line along the slope of Conasine Creek by a desperate assault with the bayonet, in which the Regiment bore a conspicuous part and captured a number of prisoners. Immediately following this successful charge came the return assault of General Cleburne's rebel Division, which made three furious charges upon our lines only to be bloodily repulsed. In the operations in front of Resaca the One Hundred and Twenty-seventh lost one man killed, and three wounded.
In the sharp fighting among the Dallas Hills from the 26th of May to June 1, the One Hundred and Twenty-seventh was almost constantly under fire, showing conspicuous gallantry in the actions of 27th and 29th. Daniel T. Lane, of Company E, was seriously wounded on the 27th.
On the 4th of June the enemy abandoned his strong works at Dallas and fell back behind the still stronger position on and around Kenesaw Mountain and Pine Hill, where he maintained himself for nearly a month, during which period it rained almost incessantly, making active operations nearly impossible.
On the 27th of June occurred the desperate assault of the Fifteenth Corps upon Kenesaw Mountain, which frowned a thousand feet above the heads of our men, covered with rifle pits, strong parapets, and death-dealing batteries. In this marvelous affair the One Hundred and Twenty-seventh stood up grandly under the most terrible fire it had ever encountered.
On the 2d of July the enemy abandoned the defenses of Kenesaw, and fell back to the Chattahoochie River. On the 6th our advance was in sight of Atlanta, and on the 12th and 13th the Army of the Tennessee was transferred by a rapid movement from the extreme right to the extreme left, and, following Garrard's cavalry column across the Chattahoochie near Rosswell, entrenched itself, and compelled the rebel commander to retreat across the river into his Atlanta lines. The One Hundred and Twenty-seventh took part in all these movements.
The whole army now crossed the Chattahoochie, and the battle of Peach Tree Creek followed on the 20th of July. General John B. Hood had been placed in command of the rebel army on the 19th, in place of General Joseph E. Johnston, relieved by Jefferson Davis, and fighting became desperate.
A few days later the Fifteenth Corps was transferred to the extreme right of the army, where, on the 28th of July, it was furiously assailed by a Corps of Hood's army, which was repulsed with terrible loss, leaving no less that 828 dead in front of our lines. The weight of the attack fell upon the Second Division of our Corps. The One Hundred and Twenty-seventh, forming the extreme right of the army, and, being mostly on the skirmish line, came very near being captured. The timely arrival of a Brigade of the Fourteenth Corps, piloted upon the field by Robert Murphy, a drummer boy of the One Hundred and Twenty-seventh, saved the day. The losses of the Regiment on this day were Corporal John T. Bennett and William Peterson, of Company D, and Alfred X. Murdock and William Pooley, of Company A killed, and 17 wounded and missing.
About this date Company G, Captain Sewell, was detailed at Corps headquarters as provost guard, a position which it held for several months. On the 31st of July, the morning report of the One Hundred and Twenty-seventh showed only 92 men fit for duty carrying guns.
On the 3d of August, the Regiment took part in an attack on the rebel skirmish line to the west of Atlanta, in which it displayed its usual gallantry and lost a number of men, among whom were Sergeant Ira B. Whitney, of Company B, killed, and five men, including Captain A. C. Little, wounded. Elias Smithers, of Company E, died a few days later of wounds received.
The Regiment participated in the subsequent operations around Atlanta, including the great flanking movement of August 27, by which General Sherman placed the bulk of his army in the rear of General Hood and compelled him to evacuate Atlanta on the 2d of September. During the withdrawal of the army from the lines on the night of August 26, Sergeant Major William W. Lawton, of the One Hundred and Twenty-seventh, was mortally wounded and died the same night in the ambulance. This was the only casualty in the Army of the Tennessee during the movement.
The One Hundred and Twenty-seventh was hotly engaged in the battle of Jonesboro, below Atlanta, fought by Logan's Corps on the 1st of September, its officers and men displaying the greatest gallantry and inflicting some loss upon the enemy. In this battle the killed were Sergeant J. R. Grassmire, of Company I, James Griffin, of Company H, Levi Mead, of Company F, and Francis H. Chappell, of Company D, and a number wounded.
On the 9th of September the army encamped around the captured city, the Second Division of the Fifteenth Corps occupying East Point, about six miles southwest of Atlanta. About this date Captain Gillette received his commission as Major and Lieutenant Richmond was promoted Captain of Company E.
The army remained in its cantonments until the beginning of October, during which period General Sherman exchanged 2,000 prisoners with General Hood at Rough-and-Ready Station, below Atlanta. Among those exchanged were the boys of the One Hundred and Twenty-seventh captured on the 22d of July.
General Hood began his famous raid upon the communications of Sherman's army about the 1st of October, and on the 3d of the month Sherman's army was in rapid pursuit of Hood and the subsequent march through Georgia and South Carolina, the One Hundred and Twenty-seventh was commanded by Captain Charles Schryver, of Company F, the senior officer then with the Regiment. From August 14, 1864, to April 1, 1865, Colonel Curtiss was absent from the Regiment. A portion of this time he was in command of a provisional Division under General Schofield, in North Carolina. Captain Little was also absent on furlough during about the same period, and was in command of 400 men under General Schofield in North Carolina during a part of the time.
The One Hundred and Twenty-seventh accompanied Sherman's army on its grand march through Georgia and the Carolinas. From Atlanta to Columbia, South Carolina, it was on detached service, during which time it reported directly to the Headquarters of the Army of the Tennessee. At Columbia it returned to the Division, and took part in the operations, thence on to Goldsboro, N.C. During the month of January 1865, it was encamped on the great rice plantations southwest of Savannah, Ga. It was present at the capture of Columbia, S.C., and in the advance upon Fayetteville, N.C. A number of its men were engaged in a severe skirmish, in which Francis B. Imhoff, of Company B, was killed, and R. R. Parkin, of Company I, wounded. At the severe battle of Burtonville, March 19 and 20, it was for twenty-four hours on the skirmish line, but escaped without loss. At Goldsboro, N.C., the army encamped for about fifteen days, during which time it was furnished with a complete outfit of new clothing. At Goldsboro, Colonel Curtiss, Captain Little and forty of fifty furloughed men, rejoined the Regiment. Here also Sergeant James G. Naid was mustered in as Adjutant, assuming his duties on the first of April, at which time Colonel Curtiss assumed command of the Regiment. Captain Little was soon after detailed on detached duty.
The army left Goldsboro in pursuit of General Johnston on the 10th of April, and reached Raleigh, the Capital of North Carolina, on the 14th, where it went into camp in and around the city. The Fifteenth Corps was encamped during most of the time until the last of the month about one mile north of the city.
General Joseph E. Johnston surrendered the remaining armies of the Confederacy on the 26th of April, and on the 29th the One Hundred and Twenty-seventh, in company with the Fifteenth Corps, commenced the march from Raleigh to Petersburg, Va., 168 miles distant, which point was made in just six days, equal to 28 miles each day. On the 13th of May the army passed through Richmond, and on the 21st reached the vicinity of Washington, D.C., and went into temporary camp on the hills west of Alexandria. The march through Virginia took the command through Petersburg, Richmond, Hanover Court House, Fredericksburg, Stafford, Dumfries and Occoquan. A portion of the One Hundred and Twenty-seventh visited Fort Darling, below Richmond, and made a flying visit to Mount Vernon, the home of Washington.
The One Hundred and Twenty-seventh took part in the grand review at headquarters and was specially complimented for its fine discipline and military bearing. During the next fourteen days the command was encamped near Fort Slocum north of the city, where it was mustered for discharge on June 4th by Captain Potter, of the Seventieth Ohio Volunteers.
On the 7th of June the Regiment left Washington for Chicago. It was finally mustered out on the 17th of June 1865, after an arduous service of almost three years. The actual number of men finally discharged was about 240, all that remained of the 900 with which the Regiment left Camp Douglas in November 1862.