Civil War


Except from "History of the 85th Illinois Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry", by Henry J. Aten, First Sergeant Company G, Member of the Society of the Army of the Cumberland, Compiled and published under the Auspices of the Regimental Association, Hiawatha, Kansas, 1901, Chapter 8, page 78-79
Submitted by Sara Hemp

Headquarters Army of the Cumberland
Chattanooga, Tenn., January 26th, 1864

It having been reported to these headquarters that between seven and eight o’clock, on the evening of the 23rd ult., within one and one-half miles of the village of Mulberry, Lincoln County, Tennessee, a wagon which had become detached from a foraging train belonging to the United States was attacked by guerillas, and the officer in command of the foraging party, First Lieutenant Porter, Company A, Twenty-seventh Indiana Volunteers, the teamster, wagonmaster, and four other soldiers who had been sent to load the train (the latter four unarmed), were captured. They were immediately mounted and hurried off, the guerrillas avoiding the road, until their party halted about one o’clock in the morning, on the bank of the Elk river, where the rebels stated they were going into camp for the night. The hands of the prisoners were then tied behind them, and they were robbed of everything of value about their persons. They were next drawn up in line about five paces in front of their captors, and one of the latter, who acted as leader, commanded ready, and the whole party immediately fired upon them. One of the prisoners was shot through the head and killed instantly, and three were wounded. Lieutenant Porter was not hit. He immediately ran, was followed and fired upon three times by one of the party, and, finding that he was about to be overtaken, threw himself over a precipice into the river, and, succeeding in getting his hands loose, swam to the opposite side, and, although pursued to that side and several times fired upon, he, after twenty-four hours of extraordinary exertion and great exposure, reached a house, when he was taken to Tullahoma, where he now lies in a critical situation. The others after being shot, were immediately thrown into the river. Thus the murder of the men –
Newell E. Orcutt, Ninth Independent Battery, Ohio Volunteer Artillery; John W. Drought, Company H, Twenty-second Wisconsin Volunteers; George W. Jacobs, Company D, Twenty-second Wisconsin Volunteers – was accomplished by shooting and drowning. The fourth, John W. Folley, Ninth Independent Battery Ohio Volunteer Artillery, is now lying in the hospital, having escaped by getting his hands free while in the water.

For these atrocious, cold-blooded murders, equaling in savage ferocity and everything ever committed by the most barbarous tribes on the continent, committed by the rebel citizens of Tennessee, it is ordered that the property of all citizens living within a circuit of ten miles of the place where these men were captured be assessed each in his due proportion, according to his wealth, to make up a sum of thirty thousand dollars, to be divided among the families who were dependent upon the murdered men for their support.

Ten thousand dollars to be paid to the widow of John W. Drought, of North Cape, Racine County, Wisconsin, for the support of herself and two children.

Ten thousand dollars to be paid to the widow of George W. Jacobs, of Delevan, Walworth County, Wisconsin, for the support of herself and one child.

Ten thousand dollars to be divided between the aged mother and sister of Newell E. Orcutt, of Burton, Geauga County, Ohio.

Should the persons assessed fail, within one week after notice had been served upon them, to pay in the amount of the tax in money, sufficient of the personal property shall be seized and sold at public sale to make up the amount.

Major General H. W. Slocum, United States Volunteers, commanding the Twelfth Army corps, is charged with the execution of this order.

The men who committed these murders, if caught, will be summarily executed, and any persons executing them will be held guiltless, and will receive the protection of this army, and all persons who are suspected of having aided, abetted or harbored these guerillas will be immediately arrested and tried by military commission.

By Command of
WILLIAM D. WHIPPLE, Assistant Adjutant General

The full amount of the assessment levied by the foregoing order was promptly collected, and the entire thirty thousand dollars was distributed among the dependent relatives of the murdered soldiers.


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