Letter of Lt. Thomas Lester to Illinois Adjutant General Fuller, August 19, 1862

Champaign, Ill.
August 19, 1862

To A[llen] C. Fuller
Ad. Gen. of Illinois

Sir, the bearer, First Serg. Nick Doyle, 51st Reg. Ill. Vol., is sent by me to gain your acceptance of a company now being raised for the above regiment. Said reg. was organized th 20th Sept 1861 with 10 companies of infantry, one of cavalry and Capt. Waterhouse's battery of Artillery. The cav. co. and battery were detached from the regiment after the organization was complete, and but eight (8) of the (10) ten companies were raised. Since the regiment has been in the field it has had to perform the duties of a full regiment.

One company has already been raised and was forwarded to the regiment about the 25th of July. This company, if accepted by you, will complete the organization of an old regiment, which has done good service during its 8 months active service.

Lt. Col. Bradley, commanding the 51st Ill, was very anxious for me to raise a company, he having no doubt that said company would be accepted by you.

I have about 65 men on my muster roll and expect to fill up during the next six days.

In asking for my commission as the captain of this company, I may state that I have held the position of First Lieut. of Co. 'E' 51st Ill. since the 20 Sept/61 (having been duly commissioned by Gov. Yates) and thus feel fully competent to take command of said company.

If you will grant me authority to swear in a First Lieut. and one 2nd Lieut, it will much facilitate the organization of the company. Sergt Doyle will receive any instructions as to which camp I shall report, for it is important that we immediately commence drill so that we may soon join our regiment.

I Remain
Very Respectfully
Your Obedient Svt
Thomas T. Lester
1st Lieut 51st Ill Vol.

Administrative Files of Civil War Companies and Regiments, 301.18, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, Illinois.


  1. The cavalry company became part of the Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry under Colonel Joseph Bell. Bell's regiment was organizing at Camp Douglas at the same time the Fifty-First Illinois was.
  2. Allen C. Waterhouse commanded Battery E of the First Illinois Light Artillery.
  3. Sixty-five men was not, by strict military protocol, enough to constitute a full company. A company needed at least 64 privates and 16 officers and non-commissioned officers, as well as buglers and a wagoner, for a total minimum size of 83. Thus, Lester spoke of "filling up".
  4. The upshot: Governor Richard Yates wrote to Adjutant General Fuller on August 21, "Issue order for the company to elect its own officers." But during the next month, perhaps because Lester could not quite "fill up" the company or because the regiment's companies in the field were dwindling, the decision was made to distribute Lester's recruits among the existing nine companies of the regiment.
  5. Lester was promoted captain of Company K on October 6, 1863. He was killed in battle on June 14, 1864, at the beginning of Sherman's Georgia campaign. He is buried in the Chattanooga National Cemetery.