Captain Thomas Brown Rhodes

Co. A, 3rd Illinois Cavalry

Co. A, 53rd U.S. Colored Infantry

This is directly inputted from "Memorial of Thomas Brown Rhodes of Burnside Post, No. 8, Department of the Potomac, G.A.R. Address by Comrade Daniel Rhodes at the Memorial Service of the Post, June 18, 1916. Prepared and Presented in accordance with Resolutions of the Post. Washington, D. C." (Some errors in spelling of names and dates have been corrected.)

The first Rhodes to emigrate to this country was Zachariah, who settled at Pawtuxet, Rhode Island, in 1632. There the Rhodes' family remained for seven generations, and there some members still abide. Captain Rhodes' parents were Thomas F. Rhodes and Eliza Billings Smith. They were married in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1838, and Thomas Brown, the second son was born in Cincinnati, February 18, 1844. The family moved to Indiana, then to Illinois, from which State, Captain Rhodes and his oldest brother John and a brother George, enlisted in the Civil War in August 1861, when he was seventeen years of age. At the age of nineteen he was made a 1st Lieutenant--at twenty, he became a Captain and at the close of the war he was breveted Major. His brother John Rhodes, attained a similar rank.

Captain Rhodes enlisted at Chatham, on August 10, 1861, in Company A, 3rd Illinois Cavalry. He was discharged for promotion June 18, 1864, and became Captain of Co. A, 53 U.S. Colored Infantry, having been enrolled June 21st. He was discharged March 8, 1866, at Vicksburg, Miss. Hence he served nearly five years during the Civil War; two years as a private in Co. A., 3rd Illinois Cavalry; one year as 1st Lieutenant and nearly two years as Captain of Co. A, 53rd U.S. Vol. Inf.

Company A, 3rd Illinois Cavalry was raised in Sangamon County, regularly organized at Camp Butler August, 1861, by Col. Eugene A. Carr. This regiment in September went to St. Louis for instruction and regimental drill. Then to Jefferson City on Warsaw, capturing large stores of supplies.

There in camp they built a bridge across the Osage River, then continued the march in the direction of Springfield under the personal command of General Fremont. At Springfield Major General Hunter took command of the army in place of General Fremont, who had been in command just 100 days.

Soon after the army captured Springfield, the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 3rd Cavalry captured some prisoners at Corone, Corone Creek. At the battle of Pea Ridge, three weeks later, there was a three days desperate struggle against three times their number of men, giving them the victory, with the 3rd cavalry losing ten killed and forty wounded.

The enemy was next routed from Fayetteville, Arkansas; then came the long march to Helena, following down the course of the White River, marching, fighting, starving and famishing for water, during which time supplies and communication were cut off, the country having been laid waste by the enemy. During the long encampment at Helena, the regiment participated in many raids, scouts and foraging expeditions. The place was sickly because of malaria and bad water. From there in December the regiment embarked on transports, joining the forces moving on Vicksburg under the command of Major General W. S. Sherman.

Arriving at Chickasaw Bayou, the regiment was detailed for picket duty and escorts for commanding Generals, and did good service in the disastrous attacks on Haines Bluff, companies A.K. and M. being the last to embark after the battle. Retiring from the Bayou, the regiment moved up the river on Arkansas Post, where after the battle five thousand prisoners were captured, in which valuable service was rendered by the 3rd Cavalry, which returned with the victorious army to Vicksburg.

The 3rd U. S. Colored Infantry was organized at Warrenton, Mississippi, May 19, 1863, as the 3rd Mississippi Vol. Inf. to serve three years. Its designation was changed to the 53rd U. S. Colored Cavalry, March 11th, 1864, and mustered out March 8, 1866.

The regiment participated in the following engagements: Hayne's Bluff, Miss. February 23, 1864 -- 1 man killed. Grand Gulf, Miss. July 16, 1864, no loss reported. Battle of White River, Arkansas, October 22, 1864,--two men killed and one officer wounded. The wounded were forwarded to Vicksburg by steamer "Mormora."

In August 1864 the 53rd was one of the defences of Vicksburg. The 53rd was on an expedition from Vicksburg, Miss. to Grand Gulf, March 13-14, 1865 under command of Col. Risdon.

In April 1863, the 53rd was in the vicinity of Vicksburg, Miss. in Maltby's Brigade, composed of the 58th Ohio (5 companies) 59, 52, 53 and 66 U. S. Colored Infantry.

After the war, Captain Rhodes resided for twenty-five years in the State of Louisiana, being engaged in the cultivation of cotton. While in the South, he had yellow fever and was therefore immune from the disease. His business interests were such that he was brought into contact with a great many people and became extensively acquainted with the residents of the section where he resided.

Shortly after the close of the War, Captain Rhodes married Medora Taylor in Lake Providence, Louisiana. Two daughters were born to them, one still living in Lake Providence with the grandchildren. His wife Medora, having died in 1891, Captain Rhodes went West, making his home for a time in Denver with his brother, J.E. Rhodes of that place. Then business interests took him to Salt Lake, Utah. There he met and married Susie Root, a widow with one daughter.

At the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, he came to Washington, desirous of again entering the service of his country, preferably as a field officer in one of the colored immune regiments, and he asked to be ordered to Vicksburg, Miss. for this purpose, which however, was not accomplished.

During the summer of 1898, he took a position in the Depot Quartermaster's Department out at St. Asaph, Virginia, as Forage Master in charge of the corral, which position he held until July 1905, when he was transferred for convenience to the War Department at Washington, where he remained until his death January 22, 1916. He served in the Quartermaster's Department faithfully for over seventeen years.

A son was born to Captain and Mrs. Rhodes July 2, 1902, name Thomas Brown Rhodes, Jr., now a young lad whose greatest ambition is to be like his father.

Mrs. Susie Root Rhodes' Tribute to Captain Rhodes:

Captain Rhodes was a man of unfailing courtesy and quiet dignity. He had quick perception, a logical mind, and ready grasp of great problems; loyal to duty, honest and just in his dealings with men, he was ever open-eyed, clear-minded and clean-handed. A man admired, trusted and beloved.

His presence even was a benediction; his gracious smile and genial greeting won all about him. A good friend, husband and father; a christian of sturdy faith and sincere motive.

He was born of old New England stock--on both sides--none better, none more patriotic, none more religious or better educated.

His early training was moral and religious. What a heritage is this, not only for his comrades but for those nearest and dearest to him to have beautiful and sweet memories of every day that is gone, with no questions of the life beyond. His absence leaves a sense of greatest loss. May we be able, as he would have us, to look from the tomb into the open heavens.

Kind neighbor, faithful friend, trusted brother, tender husband and loving father; until the day break and the shadows flee away, Hail! and Farewell!!

Thanks to Susan Rhodes for this information.

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