31st Wisconsin
Infantry Regiment


Battles involving 31st Infantry
Assignments for 31st Infantry

- Organized on Oct 9 1862 at Prairie du Chien, WI
- Enlistment term: 3 years
- Mustered out on Jul 8 1865 at Louisville, KY

Available statistics for total numbers of men listed as:
- Enlisted or commissioned: 1067
- Drafted: 29
- Transferred in: 1
- Killed or died of wounds (Enlisted men): 23
- Died of disease: 93
- Died of disease (Officers): 3
- Died of disease (Enlisted men): 86
- Prisoner of war: 35
- Disabled: 68
- Missing: 1
- Deserted: 55
- Discharged: 54
- Mustered out: 764
- Transferred out: 31

Historical notes and Reports:

Thirty-first Infantry

Thirty-first Infantry. -- Cols., Isaac E. Messmore, Francis H. West George D. Rogers, Lieut.-Cols., Francis H. West, George D. Rowers Majs., John Clowney, William J. Gibson, George D. Rogers, R. B. Stenhenson Farlin Q. Ball.

This regiment was organized at Prairie du Chien in Aug. 1862, when six companies were recruited. It was ordered to Camp Utley, Racine, on Nov. 14, where the remaining companies were recruited, and the regiment was mustered in, Oct. 9.

It left the state March 1, 1863, for Columbus, Ky., and was assigned to the 6th division 16th corps. It remained there on picket, provost and reconnaissance duty during the spring and summer and was ordered to Murfreesboro in October. Cos. B G and K were detached and stationed at Stone's River in guard and fortification work until April, 1864.

The regiment was assigned to the 4th division, 20th corps, and divided into detachments for patrolling the Nashville & Chattanooga railroad, one detachment being mounted for dashes into the interior. The regiment was ordered to Nashville in June for provost guard duty, remaining there until July 3 when it was transferred to the 3d brigade, 1st division, 20th corps, joining the brigade on the 21st before Atlanta and remaining in the siege until Aug. 25.

It took a position on the Chattahoochee River until the evacuation of Atlanta and was then on guard and forage duty until it joined the march to the sea. When within 10 miles of Savannah, accompanied by part of another regiment, it passed through a seemingly impassable swamp, charged the enemy in two redoubts commanding the road and in the face of a severe fire carried the works.

It accompanied the army in the campaign of the Carolinas, performing well its part in destroying railroads, building corduroy roads and foraging. At the battle of Averasboro it was in the front line under heavy fire from noon until dark.

At Bentonville it held an exposed position at the front and was attacked in front and on both flanks simultaneously. It was thrown back, but reformed behind a rail fence, where it was speedily reinforced and withstood five determined charges, inflicting terrible punishment upon the enemy.

This closed its active service. It participated in the grand review at Washington. Cos. A, B. C, D, E and F. were mustered out at Louisville June 20, 1865, and the remaining companies on July 15.

The original strength of the regiment was 878. It gained by recruits, 200; total, 1,078. Loss by death, 114; missing, 2; desertion, 52; transfer, 33; discharge, 176; mustered out, 710.

Source: The Union Army, vol. 4, p. 64

Report of Col. Francis H West, Thirty-first Wisconsin Infantry.


CAPT.: In obedience to Special Orders, No. 155, from brigade headquarters, I have the honor to transmit the following report of the operations of my regiment from May 1, 1864, to the occupation of Atlanta:

May 1, 1864, the regiment was not brigaded, but attached to the Fourth Division, Twentieth Army Corps, and was stationed at the various stations on the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, between and including the station of Normandy and the city of Murfreesborough, with headquarters at Christiana Tenn. May 13, 1864, headquarters of the regiment with five companies were stationed at Duck River bridge, Tenn. At this time, in addition to guarding railroad bridges and doing picket duty, it patrolled the railroad from near Tullahoma to Murfreesborough. June 6, 1864, under orders from Brig.-Gen. Van Cleve, commanding Railroad Defenses, regiment marched toward Murfreesborough, at which place it arrived on the 8th of June, and where orders were received from Gen. Rousseau, commanding division, to proceed at once to Nashville. Regt. arrived at Nashville June 10, and was assigned to post command, to perform city provost-guard duty. On July 16, orders having been received from Maj.-Gen. Thomas, commanding Department of the Cumberland, transferring the regiment from the Fourth Division, Twentieth Corps, to the Third Brigade, First Division, Twentieth Corps, and ordering the regiment to proceed at once to the front, the regiment proceeded via Chattanooga to Marietta, Ga., by rail, from which place it marched to the army at the front on the south side of the Chattahoochee River, where it arrived and reported to Col. Robinson, commanding brigade, on the morning of July 21, 1864. On this march the regiment lost by railroad accident, when near Adairsville, Ga., 1 killed and 12 wounded, including 2 Commissioned officers. The effective force of the regiment at this date was 650; aggregate, 872. July 22, the regiment marched to enemy's defenses around Atlanta. While under the works of Atlanta the regiment lost 6 killed and 20 wounded, 2 of whom have since died of their wounds. August 25, the regiment marched to Chattahoochee River. September 4, regiment marched back and encamped in Atlanta.

Whole loss by death or discharge since May 1 is 31; by desertion 5; whole number wounded, 32. Although the regiment was not engaged in any of the severe battles of the campaign, yet I feel that I cannot award too much praise to both the officers and men for their cool, determined courage and patient endurance during the immediate operations against Atlanta, subject as they were to the almost constant fire of the enemy day and night for thirty-five days, during which we were operating against the enemy's works in front of the city.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Col., Cmdg. Regt.

Capt. A. E. LEE
A. A. A. G., 3d Brig., 1st Div., 20th Army Corps.

Source: Official Records
[Series I. Vol. 38. Part II, Reports. Serial No. 73.]

Report of Col. Francis H. West, Thirty-first Wisconsin Infantry.


CAPT.: I have the honor to make the following report of operations of this regiment from the time of the occupation of Atlanta to this date:

During the occupation of Atlanta nothing of especial interest occurred in the regiment. It was engaged in the ordinary guard duty and in drilling and preparing for a new campaign, and also furnishing heavy details to work on fortifications. It twice during the time accompanied foraging expeditions to the vicinity of Stone Mountain and Yellow River; once, under command of Col. Robinson, commanding Third Brigade, and once, under command of Gen. Geary, commanding Second Division, Twentieth Corps. On each of these occasions some 800 wagon-loads of forage were obtained.

Of the campaign from Atlanta to Savannah the history of the regiment is so inseparably connected with that of the brigade to which it belongs, that it is difficult to make a special report of its operations. Leaving Atlanta at 7 a. m. November 15, with-effective enlisted men and-officers, our march was continuous, triumphant, and almost uninterrupted, through the rich and well-settled districts of Georgia, by the way of Decatur, Social Circle, Madison, Milledgeville, Eatonton, Sandersville, Millen, Louisville, and Springfield, to within five miles of Savannah, where we arrived on the 10th instant, followed by a large number of negroes, which had been gradually accumulating as we advanced through the country, but as none of them were especial followers of my regiment, I cannot claim to have brought in any certain number. It was noticeable that they were all very much delighted at the approach of the army, although but few of them had ever seen a ''Yank'' before. There was much appearance of wealth among nearly all the inhabitants living on the line of our march and we found great abundance of corn, beef, mutton, sweet potatoes, poultry, molasses, and honey along the whole route, upon which the regiment subsisted entirely, with the exception of about ten days' rations of hard bread and full rations of sugar, coffee, and salt, which were issued immediately previous to and during the march. We also captured 10 very large, fine mules and about 30 inferior mules and horses, which were used in packing supplies, and were subsisted, as were our private and public animals, from forage we obtained from the inhabitants. During the march we, in company with the balance of the brigade, assisted in destroying a large amount of the Georgia Central Railroad in the vicinity of Stone Mountain, Spiers Station, and Jonesborough, and also of the Charleston railroad at and near Monteith. The amount destroyed by my regiment I am unable to give.

Great attempts were made by the enemy to impede our progress by destroying bridges, felling timber in the road, &c., but this caused but little delay, as our efficient pioneer corps soon cleared away all obstructions and rebuilt the bridges. We met with no resistance in force until we arrived at Turkey Roost (or Monteith) Swamp, fifteen miles from Savannah. This is an almost impenetrable morass, many miles in extent, densely covered with brush and vines, interspersed with deep sloughs. Across this the road has been built. On a little elevation on the opposite side, at a place known as Harrison's field, and immediately commanding the road across the morass, which is about 500 yards wide, and which had been very heavily obstructed, the enemy had built two strong redoubts, which were defended by artillery and about 500 infantry, with which they resolutely disputed our farther progress. The First and Second Brigades of our division had been sent around to the right (which seemed the most feasible way of crossing the morass), with instructions if possible to flank the enemy and dislodge or capture them. Finding that they were not likely to be immediately successful, I was directed by Col. Robinson, commanding brigade, to take my regiment, numbering 500 present (the immediate command of which devolved upon Lieut.-Col. Rogers), and the Sixty-First Ohio, numbering about 100 men, under command of Capt. Garrett, and make a similar attempt by way of the left. Quickly moving around about half a mile to the left and on the border of the morass, the line was formed for attack by placing the Sixty-first Ohio on the right and the Thirty-first Wisconsin on the left, with instructions to dash through the swamp by the right of companies, coming into line the moment they emerged on the open ground in vicinity of the fort. This the men did with great spirit and determination, struggling through to within about 300 yards of the forts where an open swamp extended down to within fifty yards of the forts, the last fifty yards being heavily covered with abatis. Emerging into this opening they formed instantly under a heavy fire from the enemy, and, delivering a steady volley upon the enemy, they dashed upon the works with such impetuosity that the enemy, becoming panic-stricken, fled in great confusion, abandoning much of their camp and garrison equipage and clothing. The colors of the Thirty-first Wisconsin were almost instantly flaying from the parapets of the fort. Shortly after the brigades that had gone to the right succeeded in passing the morass and camp up; also the balance of our brigade, which Col. Robinson promptly sent to my support on hearing the firing. The loss of my regiment in this affair was 1 killed and 3 wounded. We escaped with so small a loss on account of the enemy firing too high. Loss of the enemy unknown-said to have been 14.

Through me the regiment, together with the Sixty-first Ohio, received the public thanks of Maj.-Gen. Slocum, commanding Left Wing, Army of Georgia, Gen. Williams, commanding Twentieth Army Corps, and of Col. Robinson, commanding brigade, for the handsome manner in which they executed the affair.

As all in the command behaved equally well I can mention no names. I, however, here wish to make mention of the gallant conduct and efficient service rendered on this occasion by Capt.'s Wallace and Hearrick, of Col. Robinson's staff, who were detailed to assist me in the enterprise.

During the siege of Savannah, from the 10th to the 21st of December, at which time the enemy evacuated Savannah, the regiment was engaged in the ordinary siege duties, building works, &c., without any engagement with the enemy or casualties therefrom. On the 23d we moved in and took position on the bank of the Savannah River about two miles above the city, and are now engaged in preparing for future operations. Since arriving near Savannah we have had but very limited supplies of rations of forage, and we are now suffering much for subsistence, the men receiving little else than small rations of rice, and our public and private animals almost nothing at all. It is probable that this is owing to the difficulty of landing supplies from the fleet.

The health and spirits of the men were never better than during the past campaign, the average daily number requiring medical attendance being about ten.

The casualties during the campaign were 1 man severely injured while destroying railroad, 1 killed, and 3 wounded by the enemy, and 3 captured while foraging, 2 of whom have since escaped and returned to the regiment. No sick were left on the road.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Col., Cmdg. Regt.

Capt. A. E. LEE,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen., Hdqrs. 3d Brig., 1st Div., 20th Corps.

Source: Official Records
[Series I. Vol. 44. Serial No. 92.]

Reports of Col. Francis H. West, Thirty-first Wisconsin Infantry, of operations January 18-march 24 and April 10-May 27.

HDQRS. THIRTY-FIRST REGT. WISCONSIN VOLUNTEERS, Near Goldsborough, N. C., March 27, 1865.

CAPT.: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my regiment from the time of their leaving Savannah, Ga., until their arrival at this place on the 24th instant:

The regiment left camp at Savannah on the 18th of January, 1865, with an effective force of-men. On the following day we overtook the brigade near Hardeeville (it having marched a day earlier). After this the regiment was not again detached from the brigade during the campaign. On the same day we arrived at Purdeeville [Purysburg}, on the Savannah River, where we remained for seven days, making connection with boats on the river and obtaining some supplies. During this time we had very heavy rains and the country was nearly all inundated. On the 28th we started for Sister's Ferry, twenty miles farther up the river; found the water so high we could not approach miles from the ferry, where we remained three days and succeeded in getting communication with the river.

On the 2d of February we marched out from here, cutting loose from all base and starting north. Thus far on our line of march there was an indiscriminate destruction of property, leaving the country a prefect waste. Large amounts of cotton were found and burned on nearly every plantation. Here new and positive orders were issued prohibiting the burning of anything but cotton and cotton-bins. These orders were generally observed during the balance of the campaign. From this time our march was continued and almost uninterrupted, marching from town to town, from river to river, and railroad to railroad, foraging our supplies from the country, capturing large numbers of animals, destroying large quantities of cotton and great numbers of cotton-gins, and all the railroads in our course through the center of the State, and dispelling all forces of the enemy assembled to prevent our progress, they being unable to make anything like a formidable opposition to our progress until we arrived at Smithville, in North Carolina.

Having early in the campaign captured animals, and mounted thirty-five of my men as foragers, under charge of Lieut. Bonney, they succeeded in keeping the command well supplied with subsistence during the entire march through South Carolina. After reaching North Carolina, and for the last twenty days of the campaign, the country passed over was so very poor that we sometimes found great difficulty in getting sufficient breadstuff and the men were compelled to use parched corn, and at times could not get enough, of that, but they at all times had a plenty of meat.

In the swamps near Smithville on the 16th, of March we first encountered the enemy in heavy force, and Jackson's and Ward's divisions, of the Twentieth Corps, were put in line against them early in the day. The ground being very unfavorable for a general attack a desultory firing with skirmishing and occasional attacks were made through the day, with much loss to the enemy and considerable to us, the enemy being constantly driven back through the swamp. Toward night a part of the Fourteenth Corps arrived as re-enforcement, but a heavy rain setting in darkness soon terminated the conflict the enemy withdrawing under the cover of night. My regiment was in the front line during the day, and I have to regret the loss of 2 men killed and 10 wounded. During the engagement the officers and men behaved with great coolness and bravery.

Leaving here on the 17th we arrived at noon on the 19th near Bentonville, where we found the Fourteenth Corps hotly pressed by the whole combined force of the enemy. Our brigade being in advance Gen. Robinson at once moved my regiment, together with the Sixty-first and Eighty-second Ohio, into position in a gap left in the lines of the Fourteenth Corps, we being immediately to the left of the main road, which seemed to be they key to our whole position. We were scarcely in line before the brigades of the Fourteenth Corps that were on our left fell back precipitately, leaving the rebel columns to pass entirely past our left, which made it necessary for us to retire a short distance and change front at the same time, which we did under very heavy fire, Gen. Robinson himself carrying the brigade colors and leading us rapidly into position so as to again face the enemy's front, when we were furiously assailed by the enemy repeatedly until dark, our men steadily repulsing them at every assault, when under the cover of darkness they abandoned the field.

It was noticed that my men fired with great coolness and precision during the conflict, and I was greatly gratified at the gallantry displayed by my officers, very conspicuous among whom for coolness, bravery by my officers, very conspicuous among whom for coolness, bravery, and efficiency, were Lieut. Col. George D. Rogers, Adjt. J. F. Sudduth, and Lieut. Byron Hewitt, commanding Company H. On this occasion we mourn the loss of 10 killed, 30 wounded, and 20 missing. The missing were men that were sent forward as skirmishers, immediately before the flank movement of the enemy, and must have all been killed or captured as it was impossible for them to return.

Peter Anderson, a private of Company B, deserves some special consideration for his judgment and during in bringing from the field a piece of artillery belonging to the Fourteenth Corps that had been abandoned by its men as the enemy came down their flank. Anderson, entirely unassisted, drove the team out with his ramrod and saved the gun from falling into the enemy's hands.

The 20th was spent in caring for the wounded and burying the dead. On the 21st we were again placed in the front line, but with the exception of a little skirmishing were not engaged in that battle, a battle that compelled the enemy to retire and left us a clear road to Goldsborough, where we arrived on the 24th of March, having been out sixty-five days, having marched in the time nearly 500 miles, crossing many rivers and innumerable swamps, rendered much worse by almost constant rains, which made it necessary to timber or corduroy the roads a great share of the way in order to get our trains over. My men came in good health, but much exhausted by long fatigue, and their clothing was in a very dilapidated condition, some of the men being barefooted and all very ragged.

During the campaign the regiment captured 31 horses and 48 mules, burned 10 cotton-gins, and 500 bales of cotton; captured 3 officers (lieutenants) and 20 men from the enemy. I am unable to give the amount of railroad destroyed. The animals were entirely subsisted from the country and also the men, except one-quarter rations of hard bread and one-third rations of sugar and coffee were issued for the whole time (except for twelve days that no issues were made). A very little pepper and salt was also issued.

The entire casualties during the campaign have been 12 killed, 40 wounded, 20 missing in action, and 5 captured while foraging; 3 have deserted.

After having a little rest the regiment will be in fine condition for further service.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Col., Cmdg. Regt.

Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen., Third Brig., First Div., 20th Corps.


CAPT.: In pursuance of Circular 112, brigade headquarters, 26th instant, I have the honor to make the following report of operations of this regiment since leaving Goldsborough, N. C.:

The regiment marched from Goldsborough April 10, 1865, on Raleigh road, in northwestern direction. About 12 m. on this day, and after marching, say twelve miles, the First Division, leading, encountered a small force of the enemy. The regiment was here formed in line of battle, with the brigade, and moved forward across an extensive plantation. After some skirmishing with the enemy by the troops in advance they retired without engagement. Nothing of interest occurred on march to Raleigh, where the regiment arrived on the 13th of April. The regiment remained in camp near Raleigh until April 25, when it marched to Jones' Cross-Roads, about thirteen miles southwest of Raleigh. The regiment remained here until the 28th of April, when, Johnston having surrendered to Gen. Sherman, it returned to Raleigh. On the 30th of April the regiment left Raleigh on march homeward, and on the 9th of May arrived in vicinity of Manchester, Va.

May 11, the regiment marched toward Alexandria, Va., passing through the city of Richmond this day, arriving in the vicinity of Alexandria on the 19th instant. Here the regiment remained in camp till the 24th instant, when it marched through Washington, D. C., in review, to this present [encampment].

I have no casualties to report in the regiment since leaving Goldsborough, N. C.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Col., Cmdg. Regt.

Capt. A. E. LEE, A. A. A. G., 3d Brig., 1st Div., 20th Army Corps.

Source: Official Records
[Series I. Vol. 47. Part I, Reports. Serial No. 98.]

Battles (where losses incurred) involving 31st Infantry Regiment








Atlanta, GA

Jul 20 1864






Atlanta, GA

Aug 1 1864






Averysboro, NC

Mar 16 1865






Bentonville, NC

Mar 19 1865






Goldsboro, NC

Mar 21 1865






Petersburg, VA

Jun 18 1864






Brigade, Division, Corps, and Army assignments for 31st Infantry Regiment

From To Brigade Division Corps Army/Department Comments
Mar 1863 Oct 1863

District of Columbus, KY Left Wing, 16 Department of the Tennessee

Oct 1863 Jan 1864 Unattached Post Murfreesboro District Nashville Military Division of the Mississippi

Oct 1863 Jan 1864

Coburn's Dept and Army of Ohio and Cumberland

Jan 1864 Jan 1864 2 Post Nashville District Nashville Military Division of the Mississippi

Jan 2 1864 Apr 14 1864 2 3 12 Dept and Army of Ohio and Cumberland

Apr 14 1864 Jul 1864 Unassigned 4 20 Dept and Army of Ohio and Cumberland

Jul 1864 Jun 1865 3 1 20 Dept and Army of Ohio and Cumberland Mustered Out

Roster for
31st Infantry Regiment - 1,097 men

Source: Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers; War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865; Volumes I and II; compiled by Authority of the Legislature, under the direction of Jeremiah M. Rusk, Governor & Chandler P. Chapman, Adjutant General; Democrat Printing Company, State Printers; Madison, Wisconsin; 1886

Abbott - Elmer Emberson - Maginess
Magrane - Souden Sowl - Zweifel


Medal of Honor
Rank and organization: Private, Company B, 31st Wisconsin Infantry. Place and date: At Bentonville, N.C., 19 March 1865. Entered service at:------. Birth: Lafayette County, Wis. Date of issue: 16 June 1865. Citation: Entirely unassisted, brought from the field an abandoned piece of artillery and saved the gun from falling into the hands of the enemy.

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