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Jackson County, Illinois

HISTORY OF THE EIGHTY FIRST INFANTRY

Donated by Herman Brown

The EIGHTY-FIRST ILLINOIS INFANTRY VOLUNTEERS

was recruited principally from the counties of

Perry, Franklin, Williamson, Jackson, Union, Pulaski and Alexander, in the southern portion of

Illinois, in what has, from the early history of the State, been known as "Egypt". Was mustered

into the service of the United States at Anna, Union county, August 26, 1862, with the following

field and staff officers: James J. Dollins, of Benton, Franklin Co., as Colonel; Franklin Campbell,

of Duquoin, Ill., Lieutenant Colonel; Andrew W. Rogers, of Carbondale, Jackson Co., Major;

Zebedee Hammock, of Pinckneyville, Perry Co., Adjutant, and Logan H. Roots, of Tamaroa,

Perry Co., as Quartermaster; L. Dyer, Surgeon; Isaac M. Neely, First Assistant Surgeon; Abel

Campbell, Second Assistant Surgeon; W. S. Post, Chaplain, and a full Regiment of enlisted men.

Immediately after the organization of the Regiment, it was ordered to Cairo, then on 8th of

October to join the Army in the field under General Grant, in Tennessee, the first duty being to

do garrison duty at Humboldt, Tenn., Nov. 1, 1862. The Regiment moved with the Army from

Lagrange, Tenn., southward, traversing the country as far south as Abbeyville, Miss., when the

unfortunate raid of General Van Dorn, in our rear, capturing Holly Springs, December 21, 1862

and destroying millions of supplies caused the retreat of the command to Memphis, Tenn.,

arriving at that point January 19, 1863. From this point the campaign against Vicksburg, that

resulted in surrender was begun February 20, 1863. The winter of 1862-3, is looked upon as the

gloomiest period of the war, when the Copperheads, and the Knights of the Golden Circle and

other enemies of the Government were the most active, resulting in greater desertion from the

ranks than ever before or since that time. On February 23, the command arrived at Lake

Providence, remaining there until April 17, when the command moved to Milliken's Bend, 20

miles above Vicksburg. On the 21st, a call for volunteers was made to run the Vicksburg and

Grand Gulf Batteries with (7) seven common transports, loaded with supplies for the Army. On

the success of this undertaking depended the success of the campaign against the rear of

Vicksburg.

From the Eighty-first Illinois Infantry, Captain George W. Sisney, Co. G, privates George W.

Winfield, Co. G, Edward Hoxsey, Co. K, Uriah Butler, William T. Green, Eli J. Lewis and Frank

Mayo, all of Co. I, were accepted. Many volunteered who were not accepted. Captain George W.

Sisney was assigned the command of the transport "Horizon:, and carried her through safely, but

in a disabled condition. One boat, the "Tigress", was sunk, before passing the Grand Gulf

Batteries. The Regiment crossed the Mississippi River at Bruinsburg below Grand Gulf, May 1,

and marched 20 miles, to Port Gibson by 2 P.M., and participated in that battle, as a portion of

the Third Brigade, Third Division, Seventeenth Army Corps. The Division commanded by

Major General John A. Logan, the Corps by Major General James B. McPherson. The Regiment

participated in the battle of Port Gibson, May 1, Raymond May 12, and the capture of Jackson,

the State Capital, May 14, and Champion Hill, May 16, at Black River Bridge, May 17. On the

19th the active work of investing the city of Vicksburg began. On the night of the 20th, the

Regiment took the position occupied during the siege, just south of the Jackson road. On the

22d, the Regiment participated in the general assault on the enemy's works. Was repulsed, with

the loss of 11 killed and 96 wounded, including, Colonel J. J. Dollins, Lieutenants Hugh

Warnock, Co. A, and James M. Farmer, Co. G, killed. C. S. Ward, Captain Co. D, died of

wounds June 15, Zebedee Hammock, Adjutant, died of wounds, May 29, and A. L. Lippincott

died November 3. The loss of Colonel Dollins was deeply felt by the Regiment. He was brave to

a fault, chivalrous, a strict disciplinarian in battle, one of the coolest and most collected soldiers

ever in command of a Regiment. Lieutenant Colonel Campbell succeeded to the command of the

Regiment, as Colonel, Major Rogers to be Lieutenant Colonel, and James Hightower, Captain,

Co. B., as Major, and private James J. Fitzgerrell, Co. H, to be Adjutant. The promotions took

place during the siege. The Regiment participated in its siege duties until July 4, 1863, when the

Third Division (Logan's) was assigned the post of honor in occupation and garrisoning of the

city.

August 21, the Regiment received orders to participate in the Washita, La., campaign, under the

command of Brigadier General John D. Stephenson. The expedition resulted in much good, with

small losses.

October 16, the Regiment participated in the engagement at Brownsville, Miss., leaving an

expedition, sent out from Vicksburg to Canton and Brownsville, to destroy all the property

belonging to the enemy, possible.

January 10, 1864, the Regiment participated in an expedition up the river from Vicksburg to

Greenville, Miss., returning with small loss.

The Regiment left Vicksburg March 9, 1864, to participate in the Red River Campaign,

commanded by Lieutenant Colonel A. W. Rogers, who proved himself to be an able regimental

commander, the column numbering about 10,000 troops, under the command of Major General

A. J. Smith. Of that number, six regiments belonged to the Seventeenth Army Corps, with one

Division under General Jo. Mower, belonging to the Sixteenth Army Corps.

The Regiment participated in the capture of Fort De Russey and Alexandria, before the arrival of

the army from New Orleans, commanded by Major General N. P. Banks. The advance on

Shreveport, La., began April 2, the six regiments belonging to the Seventeenth Army Corps

guarding the transport fleet convoyed by the gun boats. The fleet met with determined opposition

on their way up the river.

On the 8th of April, Bank's Army met with defeat at Mansfield, to be redeemed by the command

of General A. J. Smith, at Pleasant Hill, on the 9th, resulting, however, in the retreat of the army

to Grand Ecore.

On the 10th, the fleet received orders to retreat. On its way down the river, meeting with the

most determined resistance from numerous batteries planted on the river banks and from clouds

of infantry and cavalry sharpshooters, making one continuous series of engagements until the

13th, when the fleet returned to Grand Ecore. The Regiment met with considerable loss.

On the 20th, the army moved in retreat, arriving at Alexandria, on the 26th. The Regiment

formed a part of the command, covering the retreat of the army from this point to the mouth of

the Red River, participating in the daily series of skirmishes amounting to the dignity of battles,

as Clouterville, Marksville Prairie, Cain River, Atchafalaya Bayou, arriving at the mouth the Red

River May 21, arriving at Vicksburg May 21.

From Vicksburg, the Regiment was ordered to Memphis, Tenn., and participated in the

expedition to and battle of Guntown, Miss., June 10, 1864. The Eighty-first and Ninety-fifth

Illinois Volunteer Infantry, being the only regiments belonging to the Red River Expedition,

participating in this expedition, commanded by General Sturgis, who proved himself to be a

thoroughly incompetent commander. The Eighty-first was the first Infantry Regiment to open

fire, and continued under fire from 11 A.M. until dark, resisting charge after charge of the

enemy, forming the last line of battle some two miles in the rear of the first line, closing the

bloody drama with a loss of 9 killed, 18 wounded and 126 prisoners out of a total of 371 men. Of

the number captured, six were line officers, who, while prisoners of war, were placed under the

fire of the Union batteries at Charleston, S.C. The enlisted men were sent to Andersonville

prison. The true history of the sufferings of our comrades in Andersonville prison can never be

written. The mind of man cannot convey to tongue or pen a language sufficient to portray the

realization of the sufferings of the 30,000 Union soldiers who gave up their lives, or of the

survivors of that terrible imprisonment. No brighter page adorns the pages of the history of

heroic soldiers, than the heroism shown by our comrades who, while starving to death by inches,

refused the daily offer of health and liberty by simply taking the oath of allegiance to the

Confederacy. In every case the offer was rejected by members of the Eighty-first.

August 3, 1864, the Regiment was ordered to Duvall's Bluff, Ark., and participated in a number

of expeditions and skirmishes from that point throughout the State, until September 17, when the

Regiment broke camp, and marched with the command, under the command of General Jo.

Mower, in pursuit of General Price, on his last raid into Missouri. The pursuit was made to Cape

Girardeau, Mo., thence by boat to St. Louis, and to Jefferson City by boat, and by rail and

marches to Warrensburg, Mo., arriving at that point October 25, remaining until November 8,

when General Price having escaped into Arkansas, the Regiment returned to St. Louis, Mo., and

from that point was ordered to Nashville, Tenn., under the command of General A. J. Smith,

participating in the battle of Nashville and the utter defeat and route of the Confederate army,

December 15 and 16, 1864. The Regiment joined in the pursuit of Hood's army to Eastport,

Tenn., and to Corinth, Miss. Upon the arrival of the Regiment at St. Louis, the Adjutant, J. J.

Fitzgerrell, was ordered to Springfield, Ill., to bring up recruits for the Regiment. The Regiment

being ordered to Nashville in the meantime, he missed the Regiment at Cairo, on its passage up

the Ohio. Taking the first boat loaded with supplies for Nashville, Tenn., the "Thomas E. Tutt",

he proceeded up the river, until at Cumberland City, just below Nashville, the boat was captured

by the command of General Lyons, who crossed the river and raided on the communications of

General Thomas. The prisoners captured were paroled and sent to Fort Donelson under flag of

truce, from there to Pawl Camp, at Benton Barracks, Mo., by order of Major General Dana.

Colonel Robert Buchannan, Seventh Missouri, Adjutant J. J. Fitzgerrell, Lieutenant Jacob B.

King, First Lieutenant Company C, and six enlisted men from the Eighty-first, were captured at

the same time, who remained in Pawl Camp until exchanged at the close of

the war.

The Regiment was ordered from Eastport, Tenn., to Mobile, Ala., via New Orleans and Mexico,

and held the advance in the investment of the Spanish fort and opened the fight March 27, 1865,

and continued under fire from that date until the close of the siege, April 8, when the works were

captured by a charge, the Eighty-first being the second Regiment inside the enemies works,

capturing 83 prisoners, losing 6 killed and 14 wounded.

After the fall of Mobile, the Regiment was ordered to Montgomery, Ala., where the Third

Brigade, consisting of One Hundred and Twenty-fourth, One Hundred and Eighth, Eighty-first

Illinois, and Eighty Iowa, were assigned the position of army post duty in recognition of efficient

services in the siege, remaining there until ordered home, via Meridian and Vicksburg, Miss.,

leaving Vicksburg July 31, 1865, going direct to Chicago for final payment and muster out

August 5, 1864.

There were mustered into the Eighty-first, enlisted men, a total of 1,144; of that number there

were 54 killed or died of wounds in battle, 287 died of disease, 274 resigned or were discharged,

and 529 mustered out of service.

Now that twenty-one years have passed since the Regiment broke ranks at muster out, each

member of the Regiment feels that his Regiment made a glorious record, for unflinching courage,

and bravery in battle, much of which was due to the stern discipline of the duty of the soldier,

drilled into the raw undisciplined citizen by Colonel J. J. Dollis, whose fall was lamented by the

Regiment, and the undaunted courage of Lieutenant Colonel A. W. Rogers, who commanded the

Regiment the greater portion of the time after the siege of Vicksburg.

To speak of the soldierly qualities of any particular officer and soldier would be making, perhaps,

invidious distinction where all alike did their duty, in the fullest sense of the term.

Brices Crossroads, MS. The only battle the 81st IL Inf Regt ever lost.

Submitted by Andrew Butcher

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