James William Prouty

65th Illinois Infantry

The following is from The Greenville Advocate from several years ago. It contains several Bond County, IL surnames.


W. A. Kelsoe of St. Louis, writes:

"When I asked Will Prouty, now, and for many years, a resident of Daleville, Miss., to write you a story for the big Centennial edition of the Advocate, he could think of nothing to write about, but he sent me a brief account of some of his North Carolina experiences near the close of the Civil War that will be acceptable, I am sure, coming as it does from a Bond county soldier who lived in Greenville before and during the first year of that war. The Bond county boys in the 65th Illinois Infantry were J. T. Buchanan, Peter Ehrstein, H. H. Frampton, William Haeney, William Sanders, D. D. Sprague, William Tate and Thomas K. White. Ehrstein was the drummer of their company and Prouty the bugler. Dudley Sprague was orderly sergeant; Charley, third sergeant; and O'Sullivan, a corporal. In addition to "bugling" Prouty had other duties at times, one of them being picket service, and it was while he was at an outpost serving as vidette that he had the interesting experience related in his letter. Let Prouty tell the story in his own expressive way:

"It happened to be myself who was on vidette north of Wilmington, N.C., when a lot of our boys who had been released from a Rebel prison, arrived. As I was standing at my post in advance of our lines I saw a rough looking crowd coming towards me. They had no flags and looked like Johnnies, but I could see they were headed by a few blue-coated officers, so I did not shoot, yell, or run but just stood there and watched the outfit. I guess about 2,000 had marched past when I heard a familiar voice yell out, "My God, there's Prouty!" and a grey-dressed chap ran out of the ranks and embraced me. Then here came another and what those poor fellows did to me was a plenty. They were Will Grady and Jack McClusky, Company I boys, who had been captured in East Tennessee. A short time after that I was standing vidette near Goldsboro, N.C. Hardee had been around there trying to do things, but had failed. I was on the advance post, watching the road when a lot of horsemen came in sight. I knew none of our bunch was out there and began to think they were Confederate cavalry, when I saw they were dressed in flue and felt much relieved. Then I began to suspect it was General Sherman's army all the way from Georgia. When the first officer got up even with me and one asked what command I belonged to, I ansered "Schofield's Finkers." They gave a yell and rode away, feeling mighty good. Soon a bunch came along that specially attracted my attention. I saw by their flags that they were the Twentieth Corps and I began to get interested. I wanted to find our Uncles Cy and Wallace Watkins. Their brigade, the 5th Ohio, soon came along and when they got even with me, I called "Cy Watkins." About a dozen took up the cry and right away Cy came scrambling up the bank and wanted to know who I was. When I told him he yelled for Wallace. So there and then I met Uncles Cy and Wallace for the first time and I was the first one to welcome Sherman's army at Goldsboro on their now famous and historic march from Atlanta to the sea."

Thanks to Nancy Prouty for this submission.

Return to the Scrapbook