William S. Sparling

86th Infantry, Co. B

"My Civil War History" - Letter to his children

I volunteered in the City of Henry, Marshall County, Illinois, in April 1862, joining Company B, 86th Regiment, Illinois Volunteers. The Regiment was made up in Peoria and mustered into service in Springfield, where we encamped for several weeks. My Captain, Company B, was Captain Worrell, brother-in-law to George Sparling, the party I was visiting and who lived near the City of Henry. I do not now remember the Colonel's name, although we had two of them within the time I was at the front. After the Battle of Bisaga, Georgia, I, with three other Blacksmiths were transferred to Nashville, Tenn. to assist in making Army wagons. From Nashville I was sent to Camp Springfield, 20 miles from Nashville, where I was given full charge of three Government saw mills, sawing timber for bridges that were destroyed by the enemy. I was made Chief Engineer of the mills and my pay raised from $13.00 per month to $125.00 per month. I remained in that position for some 9 months when I took Typhoid Fever and was sent to the Government hospital at Nashville, was there some six weeks when I returned to the Camp, but being weak and far from being well I again took a relapse and was again returned to the hospital. From there I received my discharge from the service and was given transportation to the nearest point to Canada, Buffalo, N.Y. As near as I can remember I was at the front about ONE YEAR AND NINE MONTHS. In all, I served almost three years. My Regiment, 86th Illinois, was known as the bloody 86th having done more fighting than any other Regiment in our Division. We belonged to the 3rd Brigade, 2d Division and the 14th Army Corps. Our Corps Commanders were first, General Bewal, then General Rosecrans and third General Thomas. Division Commander was Jefferson C. Davis, and Brigade Commander was Dan. Cook, afterwards killed in action. When I returned home I gave my discharge to my mother and never saw it again; she mislaid it and could not find it again. When in Nashville, your mother and myself took the train to the place where the three mills were located, where I served as Chief Engineer, and found the mills had been removed, but the foundations were still there. The hospital in Nashville had been replaced by other buildings. Only the location could be seen, but seeing both the location of the mills and hospital revived memories of many years ago.

Many thanks to Sue Rogers who submitted this letter.

Return to Scrapbook page