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
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
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
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 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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