1862 Journal of the 51st Ill. from time of entering the field

The document is in the handwriting of Luther P. Bradley, who was lieutenant colonel of the regiment in 1862 and in command of the regiment starting in May 1862 due to the sick leave of Colonel Gilbert Cumming

Source: Regimental Letter, Endorsement, Order, Casualty and Journal Book, Volume 3, Fifty-First Illinois Volunteer Infantry; Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1780's-1917, Record Group 94; National Archives Building, Washington, DC.

Feb 14, 1862
Left Chicago for Cairo on Ill. Central Railroad. Reached Cairo 5 pm of the 15th and went into barracks.

Feb 19, 1862
Companies A & E detailed to take 1,700 rebel prisoners from Fort Donnelson to Chicago and Columbus. Regiment engaged daily in guard and fatigue duty.

Feb 28, 1862
Moved over to the Kentucky shore, opposite Cairo, and encamped. Had an alarm tonight, Gen. Cullum informing us that the rebel leader Clay King was in the neighborhood with a force. Sent out Cos. H & K but found no enemy. Weather cold and stormy.

March 4, 1862
Received orders at 3 am to break camp and cross to Bird’s Point. Crossed the river at 8 and marched for Bertrand in a snow storm over the track of the Cairo & Fulton Railroad. Reached Bertrand 22 miles at dark. Tents, baggage and staff horses to follow by rail. Bivouacked by camp fires and had a cold night.

March 5, 1862
Tents and baggage arrived tonight and the Regt went into camp. Remained here and had good weather until the 9th.

March 9, 1862
Marched at 3:00 p.m. for Sikeston with the 10th Ill, 10th Iowa, and 26th Missouri. Reached Sikeston at 6: p.m. – 8 miles – at 6 o’clock in a hard rain. Without tents or baggage,  lay out in the woods and had a miserable night. Left staff horses in Bertrand to follow to New Madrid.

March 10, 1862
Took the road at 7 am. Column under the command of Col Morgan of the 10th Ill. Found the roads very heavy and wet. Reached New Madrid – 20 miles – at 3 pm and bivouacked in the woods. Had a fine clear night.

March 11, 1862
Moved down on to the left of Pope’s Army and camped in a corn field. The 51st brigaded with the 22nd Ill under Col. Cumming. These with the 10th and 16th Ill and Yates Rifles [64th Ill] form Paine’s Division and hold the extreme left of Pope’s Army.

March 13, 1862
Marched at sunrise in light order with one day’s rations and 40 rounds cartridge. Heavy firing between our siege guns and rebel forts and gunboats since daybreak. The division under Gen Paine reached position at 8 am. Changed position at 9 and formed line with 2nd Iowa Cavalry in our rear. At 10:45 made a flank march about a mile to the left and took position with the Yates Rifles and 16th Ill with view of attacking the upper fort. Went into the field to support Rifles and were under a heavy fire of shot and shell for an hour. Returned to camp at 4 pm. No one hit. Rebels evacuated the town and forts tonight.

March 15, 1862
Tents and baggage came into today. Made camp between the 16th and 22nd.

March 16, 1862
Received orders to march with one day’s rations. Went to lower fort and took a large siege gun down the river to a point opposite rebel battery. Put gun in position and returned to camp at midnight. Privates Tapp and Woods, Company B, killed in camp today by the bursting of a shell which was brought from the field where we were stationed on the 14th.

March 26
Brigade reviewed by Gen. Paine.

April 7 crossed the river with the Division under Gen Paine at sun rise. Landed at a point 9 miles below New Madrid where the gunboats had silenced a heavy battery. Marched on the road leading to Island 10 to intercept a rebel column retreating from that place. Reached a point one mile from the island at noon and 2nd Brigade halted to reconnoiter. Moved on after an hours halt. Reached the neighborhood of Tiptonville about 9 p.m. and bivouacked.

April 8. Went into Tiptonville at sunrise and found 1st Brigade encamped. Gen Paine went out to rebel camp with 2 regts and received Gen. Mackall’s surrender with his army. Rained hard all night. Health of regt fair.

April 9, 1862
Sent prisoners off on transports to New Madrid with Cos D. E. H. & K. as guards. Balance of regt returned on steamer.

April 10, 1862
Regt paid off today, by Major Sallade.

April 11, 1862
Moved down the river 3 miles below lower fort and encamped in the mud, rained hard all night.

April 12, 1862
Embarked on steamer with Houghtelling’s battery and started at midnight for Fort Pillow. Reached point above the fort with the fleet of gunboats and transports on the 13th. Landed on the Arkansas shore and lay until the 17th when the fleet moved up the river, Pope being ordered to transfer his army to Tennessee to reinforce Gen. Halleck.

April 22, 1862
Reached Hamburgh [Tennessee] this am and landed the Regt. Moved out 1 1/2 miles and camped.

April 25. Broke camp and moved forward 4 miles and camped with the division.
(Note: Original orders to March on 25th were countermanded. Four-mile forward movement occurred on April 27.)

May 1, 1862
Broke camp and marched at 6 am. Crossed the Miss[issippi] line at 2 pm and camped at 5.

May 3, 1862
Division marched under Gen Paine on a reconnaissance. Advanced to Farmington and drove the rebels out of their camp. Had a sharp skirmish with them and held the town. Retired 3 miles after dark and camped.

May 4, 1862
Lay in the woods all day in the rain without tents. Trains came up at night.

May 8, 1862
Out on a reconnaissance with the Division under Paine. Advanced to within 1 mile of Corinth. Had skirmishing all the afternoon and came near getting into trouble. Returned to camp at midnight.

May 9, 1862
Ordered to move out to Farmington and camp, marched out at 8 am and found the rebels on the ground in formation. Formed line of battle with the Brigade, unslung knapsacks and piled them up as the day was hot. Companies A and K sent off to the right as skirmishers with 3 cos. of the 42 under Major Walworth. Balance of the Regt moved over to the left of the field and joined the 11th Missouri. Rebels proved too strong for us and drove us from the field. Retreated through the swamp to the bridge. Came out on the road and returned to the field and reported to Gen Palmer who ordered us to retire to the bridge and hold it. Moved back and posted Regt in the timber so as to command the road bridge. Remained here until ordered to return by Gen Palmer. Returned to camp with the 42nd, the last Regts on the field. The men lost all their knapsacks and extra clothing. Had 3 men wounded.

May 12, 1862
Regiment paraded at 5 pm to receive a stand of colors presented by Citizens of Chicago through F. Munson Esq.

May 15, 1862
Ordered out at daylight with two day’s rations, advanced a mile and formed line of battle. Waited ‘till noon and returned to camp.

May 17, 1862
Marched at 6:30 with balance of Division. Halted in the swamp until 11 and returned to camp. Out again at 4 pm, marched to Farmington, and bivouacked in the town. Threw up breastworks, working until after midnight – 27, 42nd, 51st, and 22nd camped in line, with entrenchments in front.

May 18, 1862
Received notice that Beauregard would attack tonight. Had rations prepared, and water supplied in the trenches. Didn’t come. Regt paid off by Maj Smith on the 21st.

May 26, 1862
Dr. Weeks joined the Regt today as Surgeon.

May 28, 1862
Moved on Corinth with the army. Brigade under command of Col. Roberts in reserve. Drove in the rebel pickets and had a sharp fight. Enemy showed in force and had a sharp fight with Hotten’s, Spoor’s and Dresser’s batteries. Held our ground and threw up entrenchments, working late into the night. Left a good many sick in Camp.

May 29, 1862
Regiment ordered on picket. Order countermanded in consequence of a heavy engagement on the lines. Under arms in trenches all day. Received orders to be ready to march at daylight with one day’s rations.

May 30, 1862
Rebels evacuated Corinth. Marched in pursuit at 5 p.m. Halted at the Tuscumbia river and bivouacked.

June 1, 1862
Marched at 7 am and crossed the Tuscumbia. Reached Rienzi at 6 pm and camped.

June 2, 1862
Started at sunrise and reached Booneville at 2 pm. Camped on east side of Mobile and Ohio railroad 20 miles from Corinth.

June 3, 1862
Marched with the Division and a large force of cavalry under Gen Granger. Took the road to Baldwin. Came on the rebels 6 miles out and had some skirmishing. Drove them across 20 mile creek. Returned to camp at 9 pm, making 20 mile march.

June 6, 1862
Ordered out to receive an expected attack. Formed line of battle and waited 2 hours. At 4 pm received order to fall back and form new camp, two miles north of Booneville. Found the greater part of Halleck’s army camped in the vicinity. The men improved in health on this march.

June 11, 1862
Paine’s Division marched back toward Corinth under Gen. Morgan. Camped at Rienzi at night. Reached Big Springs 5 miles from Corinth at noon of the 12th and went into permanent camp. Remained at Camp Big Springs under Gen. Rosecrans, until July 21 doing picket and fatigue duty and exercising in Company and Battalion drill.

July 21, 1862
Marched at 6 am for Iuka with transportation. Division under command of Gen. Morgan. Weather terrifically hot. Men suffered severely. Halted at noon, 12 miles [out]. Moved again at 4 pm. Camped at 7. Marched 17 miles.

July 22, 1862
Marched at 9 as “rear guard”. Reached Burnsville at 10 and halted for the train of the 14th Mich to come up. Moved forward with train at 5 pm. Made slow work. Halted for the night at 9. Rained hard all night.

July 23, 1862
Started at 6 am reached Iuka at 9.  Moved with the division at 10. Co. F Capt. Bellows joined here, having come from Chicago by rail. 27th Ill left here to guard the Railroad.

July 24, 1862
Marched at 6 am and reached [illegible] at 4 pm. Camped and went into Tuscumbia next morning.

July 25, 1862
Left Tuscumbia at midnight for Decatur. Reached Courtland on the 27th and Decatur on the 29th with three companies of the 7th Ill Cavalry. Left companies H & K of the [51st] under Capt Rose at Mallard Creek to guard tressle work, Companies E & G under Maj. Raymond at Fox Creek to guard bridges, Company C Lieut Tilton at Trinity, balance of the Regt at Decatur. Relieved [Lt Col Lyster] with a detachment of the 31st Ohio. Camped on a vacant lot in center of the town. Repaired stockade on the bank of the river and moved into it Aug 1st and occupied railroad depot for Head Qrs. Other stations occupied by detachments of the Regt. Built secure forts of earth and cotton bales to enable them to resist an attack in force which was daily threatened. Companies H & K had 3 men wounded at Mallard Creek. Company C had 9 men under Corp. James taken prisoners while scouting. The Regiment remained in [the] Tennessee valley guarding bridges until September 5. Surgeon Weeks was captured by the rebels while returning from Mallard Creek to Decatur, and released. The Regiment paid off on 22nd August by Maj Lowry. [Two of the men of Corporal James' detachment who were captured were Amanuel Sims and William Montgomery.]

September 5, 1862
Regt crossed the river this a.m. and burned the ferry boat by order of Gen Palmer. Marched with the 27th and 42d for Athens. Reached Athens on the morning of the 6th and formed the 2nd Brigade in Camp. Weather very hot. Marched at day light of the 7th with the Division under Gen Palmer for Nashville. Reached there on the afternoon of the 10th making a march of 125 miles. Weather excessively hot and men suffered a good deal from sore feet and exhaustion. Had skirmishing all the way from Athens with rebel Cavalry. Lost 2 men on the way, taken prisoners. Division camped 3 miles out of the City.

September 13, 1862
Moved into the city and camped on College Hill. During the balance of the month the Reg was constantly on picket, fatigue and forage duty, having nearly the whole Regt detailed 3 days out of 4.

October 1, 1862
The men are suffering considerably for want of proper rations since the arrival in Nashville September 13. We have had to do without coffee, sugar, beans, rice, having rations of soft bread and fresh meat only. We have to depend upon foraging altogether for supplies for our animals.

October 2, 1862
The guerillas around us are becoming quite impudent firing upon our pickets. A reconnaissance from our Division went out today and came upon a guerilla camp scattering them in all directions, killing several and taking forty prisoners.

October 3, 1862
Raining, by little installments. No mail has arrived since we have been here. And the Louisville and Nashville is distant to such an extent that it will take a week to receive it after we get possession of the country.

October 7, 1862
Gen Palmer with several regiments of infantry and a couple batteries of artillery went out to Lavergne last night and opened this morning upon a rebel camp. They were soon routed leaving all their camp and garrison equipage. We took 30 prisoners and one piece of artillery.

October 10, 1862
Raining today and weather quite cold. Quite an excitement was created in Nashville by a flag of truce coming in purporting to be from a large body of Secesh outside demanding the surrender of the town by sunrise tomorrow morning but little notice is taken of it as it is believed to be a trick of guerillas to ascertain the strength of the works, etc.

October 11, 12 & 16 upon foraging excursions.

October 17, 1862
We have information of quite a large Secesh force of cavalry, artillery, and infantry within two miles of us upon the Murfreesboro Pike. An attack is expected tomorrow morn.

[ ? ] October 18, 1862
No attack this morning. We move our quarters into a large foundry; the men occupy the 1st and 2nd story, the officers the 3rd. All are pleased with the change – as a reason for the change we are told – we would be nearer the entrenchments and the camp we occupied upon the hill was rather an exposed position.

October 29, 1862
The Regiment foraging again today.

Wednesday, Nov 5, 1862.
The left wing of the regt was attacked this morn upon the picket lines by a superior force of Secesh. The attack commenced at 2 o’clock am. Companies F & G were driven from their post. Afterwards went back and occupied them about daylight. The Rebels brought up artillery at the same time attacking again in several different places. Our forces were all out and the different forts had opened fire. We all supposed that the long promised attack had at last commenced but the enemy got no nearer to us than our picket line. We had seven wounded, some of them seriously. The enemy left several of their dead upon the field.

November 6, 1862.
At the same time as the attack upon our lines, John Morgan with quite a force of guerillas attempted to get possession of Edgefield upon the other side of the River, burn the cars, of which there were a great number there and destroy the bridge. This was also thwarted This is given as the object of the demonstration yesterday. Major S. B. Raymond with Co I arrived in Nashville tonight with the advance of Gen Rosecrans’ army. [In the upshot the sixty or so recruits that arrived with Raymond did not become Company I of the regiment; rather, they were distributed among the existing nine companies of the regiment].

November 7, 1862
Started early this morning for Mitchellville, Ky with a large train for supplies. Arrived in Mitchellville tonight 38 miles from Nashville. We have rations again, the first coffee, sugar, and bacon since Sept 12.

December 14, 1862
Brigade inspection this morning. We are now encamped in a beautiful place and our duties are very light compared with our requirements at Nashville.

December 16, 1862
On pickets this morning at daylight an attack is apprehended. A very cold wet stormy day.

December 18, 1862
Lieut Lester and Doyle returned to the Regiment from recruiting service this morning.

December 20, 1862
The regiment upon foraging expedition

December 22, 1862
Regiment on picket again today. The grand guard is strengthened in anticipation of an attack.

December 24, 1862
Struck tents and loaded everything on to wagons to return to Nashville while the army moved forward. We had got started towards Murfreesboro when the forward movement was countermanded and we returned to our old company ground and pitched tents again.

December 25, 1862
Not a very “Merry Christmas” for the Army of the Cumberland.

December 26
We left Camp Sheridan this morning at 7 with five days rations and marched through the rain and mud 15 miles. The advance had one continual skirmish from the time we left our picket lines until we halted for the night. Near Nolensville the enemy opened upon us with a battery. Our forces charged the battery and captured one piece. We bivouac for the night upon the top of a very high ridge of hills.

December 27, 1862
Last night it rained incessantly. We make an advance of only 6 miles. An engagement is expected every moment. The artillery upon both sides are engaged and the lines of battle are formed but night quiets the noise and we encamp in a large grove.

December 28, 1862
Because this is the Sabbath, we remain in camp. The weather has changed. Today is very pleasant. The 5 days rations that we supposed we had with us are all gone tonight.

December 29, 1862
Left camp this morn at 7 o’clock and took up our line of March across from the Nolensville to the Murfreesboro Pike a distance of 8 miles. This march not at all contested. Bivouac in the woods off from the Murfreesboro Pike.

December 30, 1862
Our rations this morning consist of a cup full of flour to a man and all the corn he may take the trouble to parch. We left our bivouac at 7 O’clock am and immediately after crossing Stewards Creek skirmishing commenced which continued incessantly all through the day. At times the skirmishing developed itself into quite brisk engagements but no general engagement was brought on. Both parties seemed to be unwilling to commence and all this firing was to ascertain the position and strength of our enemies before the decisive struggle was inaugurated. Our division (Gen Sheridan’s) had the advance today. Our casualties were ten wounded.

December 31, 1862
We are up before daybreak, the men having cooked our only rations – fresh beef – during the night. At daylight our line of battle is formed and a few moments later the enemy lines appear in sight, moving on us. We move forward at double quick to meet them and after exchanging a few vollies we drive them across the field. The Enemy open on us with grape and we retire towards our first position. In the meantime very heavy firing is heard on our right, and in a short time we learn that both Gen Johnson’s and Gen Davis’ division are falling back. This obliges us to change our position and our Brigade is moved into a cedar woods, the position that we then [ - ] up. We’re immediately occupied by the enemy. We remained in this point of woods for three hours exposed to a most destructive fire. We remained until the enemy were upon three sides of us with their artillery until our battery (Houghtaling’s) was silenced for want of ammunition and his horses all killed – until everything has left us (of our forces) upon either side – then Col Roberts being killed and the next senior col (Col Harrington) being mortally wounded, Col Bradley took command of the Brigade and we moved through the thicket coming out upon the Murfreesboro Pike a mile in the rear of our first position. Here the 51st and 27th were formed in line again and the work given us to do was to dislodge a force of the enemy who had got possession of a cedar thicket adjoining the road. We are told that everything depends upon regaining and holding this position. We move forward but upon the brow of the hill are met with a murderous fire. We protect ourselves as best we can behind rocks, etc., but the fire is more than the men can stand. We present an admirable target to the Enemy while he is not exposed. We retire behind the brow of the hill, face about – this time determined to charge them from their position. The men are now reckless mad – infuriated – this time we accomplish our work. We drive five Tennessee regiments from among the rocks across the cotton field through a cornfield taking about one hundred prisoners and retaking two pieces of artillery one a 12 lb. Howitzer and the other a 20 lb parrot. We remained in this position the balance of the day, the enemy immediately across from us in the woods, the pickets continually firing.