Notes of Important Events

This is a typescript of the original "Notes" kept by Merritt Lewis of Company E of the Fifty-First Illinois.

Source: Used by kind permission of Lewis' great-granddaughter Charla Lewis Boodry.

Enlisted on the 14th of November A.D. 1861.

Arrived at Camp Douglas November the 16th '61.

Company E organized and sworn in the Service December the 24, '61.

Left Camp Douglas for the field Feb. 14, '62.

51 Reg. arrived at Cairo, Feb.15, 1862.

51st crossed the River to Birds Point March 4, 1862.

Pope's army shelled New Madrid, Mo. March 13, '62.
(Major General John Pope's Army of the Mississippi.)

Gunboat Carondolet runs the Blockade Apr. 5, 1862.

Gen. [Eleazar] Paine's Brigade crossed the River at New Madrid, went in pursuit of the enemy April 7, '62.
(The Fifty-First Illinois was one of the regiments in Paine's Brigade.)

Rebels surrender at Tiptonville, Tenn. to Gen. Pope April 8, 1862.

Embarked on steamboats to go down the Mississippi River April 11, '62.

Landed on the Arkansas side of the river near Fort Pillow [Tennessee] Apr. 16, 1862.

Lay there three days and returned up the river. Pope's army landed at Hamburg, Tennessee April 22, 1862.

We take Farmington, Miss May 3, 1862.

Pope's army makes a reconnaissance in force to the right and left of Farmington May 8, 1862.

Battle of Farmington May 9, 1862.

Shelling the fortifications before Corinth May 28, 1862.

Evacuation of Corinth by the enemy May 30, 1862.

Moved forward in pursuit May 30, 1862.

Arrived at Booneville, Miss. June 2, 1862.

Returned from Booneville to within 4 miles of Corinth June 11, 1862. Camp called Big Springs.

Left Big Springs July 21, Mississippi St[ate] A.D. 1862.

Company E & G of the 51st Regiment left at Fox Creek Alabama. Built a fort. Called it Fort Raymond. July 28, 1862.

Had a skirmish while out Foraging cotton Aug. 6 '62.

Went to Decatur, Alabama Aug 13, 1862.

Left Decatur, Alabama Sept. 5, 1862.

The Rebels fired on us at a big spring near the Tenn. line Sept. 10 '62.

Skirmishing with Rebels at Columbia, Tenn. Sept. 9, 1862.

Arrived at Nashville Sept 11, 1862.

Skirmishing at LaVergne, Tenn. Oct. 7, 1862.
(20 miles southeast of Nashville and 20 miles northwest of Murfreesboro).

The Rebels reconnoiter round our outpost on the Lebanon Pike Oct. 31, 1862.

Pickets attacked round Nashville, Nov. 5, 1862.

The advance of Rosecrans' army arrived in the vicinity of Nashville Nov. 6, 1862.

A large wagon train goes to Mitchellville for rations, Nov. 7 '62.

Our Brigade attached to Sheridan's Division Nov. 3, 62.

Moved Brigade to Camp Sheridan 5 miles from Nashville, Nov. 11 '62.

Rosecrans' Army moved forward on Murfreesboro Dec 26, 1862.

The battle of Stone River commenced Dec. 30, '62.

Rebels evacuated Murfreesboro January 4, '63.

Formed a camp south of Murfreesboro called Camp Bradley January 6, 1863.
(Camp named after Luther P. Bradley, first lieutenant colonel of the regiment. By this date, colonel of the regiment.)

Our Brigade went foraging out to Lee's Knob. Rebels fired at us with artillery Jan. 14, 1863.

Our Brigade reinforced a forage party that was attacked Feb 4 '63.

Moved to Camp Shaffer March 18, 1863.

The pickets attacked by Rebel cavalry. Our Brigade ordered out double-quick. March 27, 1863.

Sheridan's division went on a scouting expedition March 4. Went to near Columbia Tennessee and returned having several skirmishes on the way March 14, '63.

Rosecrans' army moved forward June 24, '63.

Fight at Lee's not 9 miles from Murfreesboro on the Shelbyville Pike June 24, 1863.

Cavalry fighting to the left of us June 26.

Fight at Hoover's Gap June 27, 1863.

Took possession of Tullahoma [Tennessee] July 1st 1863.

Our cavalry had a skirmish with the Rebels rear guard near Winchester [Tennessee] July 3rd 1863.

News that Vicksburg had surrendered July 7, 1863.

Got to University July 9, 1863.
(Lewis referred to the University of the South at Sewanee, Tennessee, where the Fifty-First along with other regiments camped for some days.)

News Port Hudson surrendered July 16, 1863.

Got to Bridgeport [Alabama] July 31, 1863.

Crossed the River at Bridgeport Sept. 2, 1863.

Got to Alpine Georgia Sept. 11, 1863.

Moved back to Trenton Valley Sept. 13, 1863.

Recrossed Lookout Mountain Sept. 15, 1863.

Prospects for a fight, ordered to put 20 round cartridges in our haversacks Sept. 17, 1863.

The Battles of Chickamauga Sept. 19 and 20, 1863.

We take a position at Rossville, put up temporary fortifications. Evacuate it at midnight Sept. 22, 1863.

We fall back on Chattanooga and begin to fortify Sept. 22, 1863.

Provisions very scarce from Oct. 23 to Nov. 4, 1863.

Fight between Hooker and the Rebs near Lookout Mt. Oct. 28th, 1863.

We move out to the front in line of battle. Drive the enemy's pickets and fortify our position Nov. 23, 1863.

Hard fighting on the side of Lookout Mt. Nov. 24, 1863.

At 3 P.M. we move on Mission Ridge and take it by storm capturing a large amount of prisoners and artillery Nov. 25, 1863.

Started on an expedition to Knoxville Nov. 28, 1863.

Arrived at Knoxville Dec. 7, 1863.

Skirmish at Charleston with Wheeler's cavalry Dec. 30, 1863.

Got to Blaine's Cross Roads Dec. 17, 1863.

Enlisted in the veteran service Jan. 14, 1864.

Arrived at Chattanooga Jan. 27, 1864.

Gone home for 30 days.

Wednesday [March 23, 1864]. Lieut. McCormick arrived at Camp Fry with several recruits.
(Lieutenant Archibald McCormick was a resident of Blue Grass, Vermilion County as was Merritt Lewis. McCormick, as a company officer, had been on recruiting duty during the regiment's 30-day furlough. Camp Fry was the regiment's rendevous—north side of Chicago—for preparations for returning to the front.)

Thursday. Mustering in recruits, drawing clothing, etc.

Friday. Received orders to march, but did not leave camp.

Saturday. Still at Camp Fry. Nothing of importance transpiring.

Sunday. Still remaining at Camp Fry.

Monday [March 28]. Ordered to March. Left Camp Fry at 4 P.M. Marched to Michigan Central Depot. Left Chicago at 5 P.M. on the Michigan Central R.R.

Tuesday. Arrived at Lafayette, Indiana at 10 A.M. this morning, continued East. Arrived at Indianapolis at 5 P.M. Started to Jeffersonville at 9 P.M.

Wednesday. Arrived at Jeffersonville, Indiana at 8 A.M. this morning. Went across the river to Louisville. Marched thence to the barracks.

Thursday. Remained at Louisville till 3 P.M. Started to Nashville. Traveled very fast.

Friday. Arrived at Nashville shortly before day. Went to the barracks.

Saturday. Remained in the barracks today.

Sunday. Still remained in the barracks.

Monday [April 4]. Left Nashville at 1 1/2 P.M. Marched 8 miles on the Murfreesboro Pike and encamped.

Tuesday. Continued on our march on the Murfreesboro Pike. Encamped 6 miles north of Murfreesboro.

Wednesday. Marched past the battle ground of Stone River. Encamped near the town. Engine exploded on the railroad this afternoon, killing two men.

Thursday. Left the vicinity of Murfreesboro. Marched 12 miles. Encamped.

Friday. Continued our march. Marched about 15 miles, passed through Shelbyville. Encamped 4 miles south of that place.

Saturday. Marched from near Shelbyville. 16 miles. Encamped near Tullahoma, Tenn.

Sunday. Remained at Tullahoma to rest.

Monday [April 11]. Left Tullahoma. Marched about 13 miles. Encamped at Decherd Station.

Tuesday. Left Decherd this morning. Marched over the mountain at Cowan Station. Encamped near the tunnel. Weather very wet.

Wednesday. Left camp at the tunnel. Marched about 134 miles on the R. R. Encamped at 1 P.M. at Anderson Station near the creek.

Thursday. Left Anderson Station. Marched on the R.R. 10 miles to Stevenson and encamped.

Friday. Left Stevenson. Marched through Bridgeport over the River on the pontoon bridge. Encamped 2 miles from town 12 1/2 P.M.

Saturday. Marched from the vicinity of Bridgeport. Encamped near Whiteside in the valley.

Sunday. Left Whiteside. Marched to Chattanooga. Encamped near town.

Monday [April 18]. Remained in camp at Chattanooga. Had inspection of arms.

Tuesday. Continued in camp near Chattanooga.

Wednesday. Nothing of importance transpiring.

Thursday. Detail sent out to Chickamauga battlefield to procure the bodies of some of our officers. Men drawed new accoutrements.

Friday. Regiment drawed new arms, drilling going on.

Saturday. Started from Chattanooga this morning. Marched to Etowah, halfway to Cleveland. Encamped.

Sunday. Marched to Cleveland, Tenn. Arrived there near noon.

Monday [April 25]. Engaged in cleaning up camp. A great revival going on in Cleveland.

Tuesday. Regiment fixing up camp.

Wednesday. Nothing of importance transpiring.

Thursday. Friday. Saturday. Sunday.

Monday [May 2]. Went on picket today.

Tuesday. Came off picket this morning. Received marching orders. Left camp at 1 P.M. Marched about 15 miles in the direction of Dalton [Georgia].

Wednesday. Continued our march this morning toward Dalton. Encamped near Catoosa Springs.

Thursday. Remained encamped near the springs. Threw up intrenchments.

Friday. Remained in our position of yesterday.

Saturday. Left Catoosa Springs. Proceeded towards Tunnell Hill & encamped.

Sunday. Third brigade sent out to reconnoiter. 125th Ohio skirmished with the enemy and lost 3 killed, 14 wounded.

Monday [May 9]. Skirmishing with the enemy continued on Rocky Face. A portion of the 3rd brigade—79th Ill, 125th Ohio, 64th Ohio—charged on a rebel fort and were repulsed with severe loss of officers and men.

Tuesday. Skirmishing continued today. Also some cannonading going on. Heavy thunder storm during last night.

Wednesday. Still remained on Rocky Face. weather cool after the rain.

Thursday. Our cavalry had a sharp skirmish with the enemy and were driven back.

Friday. Rebels evacuate Buzzards' Roost Pass and Dalton. Our army in pursuit. Some deserters from the enemy come in.

Saturday. Some skirmishing this forenoon. Hard battle this afternoon near Resaca on the Chattahoochie River.

Sunday. Hard fighting between Hooker and some advantage gained by our forces.

Monday [May 16]. Rebels evacuated their works near Resaca last night, crossed the river last night, burned the bridge. Our forces in pursuit captured a large amount of commissary stores at Resaca and also some artillery.

Tuesday. Continued our march. Passed through Calhoun. Heavy skirmishing this evening.

Wednesday. Continued our march. Passed through Adairsville. Encamped four miles south of the place.

Thursday. Arrived at Kingston. Severe skirmishing this evening.

Friday. Encamped near Kingston.

Saturday. Remained in camp near Kingston. Weather warm and roads dusty.

Sunday. Army resting near Kingston, Georgia.

Monday [May 23]. Left our camp near Kingston. Crossed the R.R. Moved on the left. Crossed the Etowah river. Marched till 12 o'clock at night.

Tuesday. Resumed our march this morning. Encamped near the creek.

Wednesday. Resumed our march this morning. Traveled towards Dallas. 20th Army Corps had a hard fight this evening. Lost heavily.

Thursday. Heavy skirmishing going on all day. 27th Illinois lost about 12 men. Troops arranged for battle.

Friday. Heavy artillery firing and skirmishing. Rebels charged on Wagner's Brigade and also on the right and were repulsed. Wood's division lost heavily this evening.

Saturday. Skirmishing going on. Rebels strongly entrenched at Allatoona Pass.

Sunday. Skirmishing continued. Rebels charged our lines at night and were repulsed.

Monday [May 30]. Our army still confronting the rebel army at Allatoona pass.

Tuesday. Cannonading and skirmishing still going on.

Wednesday. Remain in works at New Hope Church.

Thursday. Heavy skirmishing. Some wounded in our regiment.

Sunday, June 5, 1864. Rebels evacuate in our front. A fine day. Examine rebel works. They are strong.

Monday, June 6, 1864. March ten miles. Again in camp. About five days near Kennesaw Mountains.

Wednesday, June 15, 1864. Advance about two miles. On skirmish line. Edward Hull & James Smith are killed. Wm. Cowden wounded.
(Hull, Smith, and Cowden were members of Company E, along with Lewis. Cowden died of his wounds in early July.)

Friday, 17th. The rebels abandon their works in front.

Saturday, June 18, 1864. Make an assault on the rebel works, carry first line. Elam Beals & Jeff Wooden are wounded. A rainy day
(Beals and Wooden were members of Company E.)

Sunday, 19th. The rebels abandon their works and take position on Kenesaw Mountain, Ga. We pursue them. A great deal skirmishing but to no effect. We remain in [?] position.

Monday, [June] 27th, 1864. The charge at Kenesaw Mountain is made. Lt. A. L. McCormick is killed. Regiment losses about 150, brigade - 700. Gen. Harker is killed.
(Regimental losses were monstrous—over 40%, but the regiment had dwindled to an effective force of barely 130 by June 27. Losses in the Fifty-First were around 60.)

Saturday, July 2, 1864. Rebels evacuate Kenesaw Mt. & Marietta. Our army pursues them about six miles without opposition. Skirmishing in the evening.

July 4, 1864. Skirmish some. Rebels evacuate in the night. July 5th our army follow them to the Chattahoochie river. Make a scout to Roswell & back.

July 13. Cross the Chattahoochie on pontoon bridge. Go in camp several days. Are in sight of Atlanta.

July 18, 1864. Move toward Atlanta 6 or 7 miles. Some skirmishing. July 20 the Battle of Peach Tree Creek is fought.

July 22. Heavy fighting near Decatur, Ga. Gen. McPherson is killed.

July 23. The seige of Atlanta commenced. A great deal of cannonading. Some during the seige. August 26 move in rear of Atlanta.

Sept. 1. Battle of Jonesborough is fought.

Sept. 2. Atlanta is occupied by our forces (Gen. Slocum).

Sept. 8. Fall back onto Atlanta. Gone into permament camp.

Sept. 25, 1864. 2nd division ordered to report at Chattanooga. 3rd Brigade goes to Bridgeport into camp. Remains in camp until October 19. Then report at Chattanooga, receive recruits.
(The Fifty-First Illinois was in the Third Brigade of the Second Division of the Fourth Army Corps under General David S. Stanley.)

Oct. 22, 1864. March to Alpine. Arrive at Alpine on the 25th of Oct. Remain in camp until October 28. Ordered to report at Chattanooga. Arrived at Chatt. Oct. 30. Remain there 2 or 3 days.

Nov. 1, 1864. Take train for Athens, Ala.

Nov. 2. March for Pulaski, Tenn. Arrive at Pulaski on the 5th of Nov. go into camp. Remain in camp until 22nd of Nov. 1864.

Tuesday, Nov. 29th, 1864. The battle of Spring Hill is fought. James Petty is wounded. (Petty was a member of Company E. In early 1865 Petty was discharged for disability.)

Nov. 30th. Retreat to Franklin. The Battle of Franklin is fought. Regt. losses about 160 in killed, wounded and missing.

December 1, 1864. The Union Army falls back on Nashville, Goes into camp until Dec. 15. Then the battle before Nashville opens. Hood's army is routed on the 16th.

December 17. We pursue Hood's army. Roads are very muddy. Follow him to Lexington, Tenn.

December 31. March for Huntsville, Ala. Arrive at Huntsville on the 5th of Jan. 1865.

January 6, 1865. Take train for Decatur Alabama. Our brigade (3rd brigade) go into winter quarters.

January 11, 1865. Occupy 18th Michigan quarters.

January 31, 1865. In the same camp. Nothing transpired during the month of importance.

February 28, 1865. Nothing worth noting except a quantity of rain & short rations.

March 13, 1865. In same camp. Rumors of a move.

[Merrit Lewis' "Notes" end with the March 13 note. The rumors of a move proved true. The regiment's movements criss-crossed Tennessee in March, April, May, and June—first to Greenville in East Tennessee, then back west to Nashville, then to Johnsonville, Tennessee before finally leaving Tennessee for New Orleans, then Texas, and then muster-out on September 25, 1865.]