October 20, 1865

Macomb Journal


Being the Observations and Experi-
ences of a Private Soldier.



            On the 20th of January our Colonel received notice that our regiment would take the field for more active service. We had spent three months along the line of the railroad running from Louisville to Lebanon, Ky., and our soldiers had formed acquaintances and attachments among the people that they were loth to break away from. On Sunday, the 25th, the orders came to break camp and take the cars for Louisville. We arrived in Louisville that evening about 9 o’clock. The rain was descending in torrents, and we occupied the cars untill morning. Our regiment now consisted of only eight companies. Companies B and C had been taken prisoners by the rebel Morgan, at Muldrow’s Hill, and paroled, and they were now at Benton Barracks, near St. Louis.

The rain continued to pour throughout the next day, but the regiment tramped through mud and rain to the eastern part of the city where the proceeded to lay out a camp and put out their tents. It was a dismal, gloomy time. All were wet, muddy, cold and hungry. Our fuel was very scarce indeed. A large portion of the regiment that night found quarters in the adjacent buildings, while others made themselves as comfortable as they could on the muddy ground.

We remained in this camp three days when we received orders to board the transports then lying in the river at Portland, four miles west of Louisville. Our regiment embarked on board the steamer J. H. Groesbeck. Here the Paymaster visited us and paid off the regiment up to December 31, 1862.

On Sunday morning, Feb. 1st, the ropes were unfastened and our steamer started out in company with sixty-three other vessels, all heavily loaded with troops, army equipments, etc. The whole fleet was supposed to contain 25,000 troops. The river was booming high, and the current swift; hence we made a rapid trip to Smithland, situated at the mouth of the Cumberland river. Our destination was Nashville. We reached Smithland about one o’clock on Monday afternoon, and remained there for the purpose [fold] o’clock next morning. Here six or eight gunboats joined us. The Cumberland river was in good navigable condition, but the current being against us our progress was slow. – Our boat was new and elegantly finished, this being her first trip, but the crowded state of the men on board prevented their finding much comfort or convenience. – They were compelled to make their lodging place out upon the hurricane deck, or if in the cabin, in such a crowded state as to render the atmosphere of the room stifling and suffocating. The consequence was that before we reached Nashville we had over one hundred men upon the sick list. Two men, Martin Ellis and John W. Pate, both of Co. H, died on the boat.

We passed Fort Donelson about 9 o’clock Tuesday evening, and the next morning found the fleet tied to shore opposite the little town of Dover about a mile and a half from Fort Donaldson. The old fort, made famous by the great battle of Feb. 16, 1862, had been abandoned, and fortifications had been built in the town of Dover, which had been held and occupied for three or four months by the 83d Illinois, commanded by Col. A. C. Harding, of Monmouth, in this State.

Soon after daylight a contraband on shore informed one of our men that a battle had been fought in Dover the day before, and that the rebels had been thoroughly whipped. We looked over the river and everything looked so quiet there that we could scarcely give credit to the negro’s story. A large portion of our fleet, with an occasional gunboat, were lying in close proximity, securely fastened to the shore, and the cool and frosty air of the morning seemed to admonish us all to seek the comforts of the cabin fire.
At length came rumors thicker and faster that the 83rd Illinois, with only about 700 men, had actually whipped over 4000 rebels under Wheeler and Forrest with great slaughter. It was not until afternoon that we became convinced of the real magnitude of the affair. I then provided myself with a pass, and watched an opportunity, and was fortunate enough to secure a passage across the river in a little leaky, mud-bespattered skiff, by first depositing twenty-five cents in the fist of the ferryman. I had no sooner landed upon the opposite shore than the evidences of a desperate and bloody battle became visible to me. Dead horses lay in every direction, and the ground in numberless places was marked with human gore. There was not a house, a tree or a fence about the place that did not bear evidences of the deadly strife. I walked to the village burying ground, and there in huge pile lay the unburied bodies of some forty or fifty dead rebels. Men were engaged digging trenches in which the bodies were thrown and then covered with dirt. A large government wagon, drawn by four mules, came up loaded with more dead rebels. They had been tumbled into the wagon as you would throw in a load of wood. The bodies were cold and stiff, and in one part of the load might be seen an arm poking up, and in another place a leg, rendering the whole a most horrible and sickening sight. The most of the bodies were much mangled, giving evidence of the terrible execution of our guns.

Among the rebels that I saw buried was Col. Frank McNary, of Tennessee, of blood-hound notoriety. In the early part of the of the war he was engaged in hunting down Union citizens in East Tennessee with bloodhounds. He owned property a few miles south of Nashville upon which our regiment afterward camped, and there I saw a couple of old slaves who had formerly belonged to McNary, and they appeared much pleased to hear that the old rebel “was dead gone sure.”

There was one body lifted into the trench that attracted attention by its fair and delicate skin and beautiful features. It was dressed in pants and coat of finer texture than the other bodies. A suspicion was raised that it was the body of a female which proved to be the fact. She was tumbled in with her male companions and covered with dirt.

I called upon Col. Harding and learned some of the particulars of the battle. He had been anticipating an attack for a day or two. It was the design of the rebels to get possession of Dover and thus intercept our fleet. Soon after noon on Tuesday some scouts who had been sent out came in with the intelligence that a large force of rebels was marching upon them not a mile distant. The long roll was immediately sounded and the regiment formed in line of battle. It numbered then but 700 men, one company being absent on duty at Clarksville. The rebels soon appeared, and according to custom, sent in their flag of truce demanding an unconditional surrender, as they had orders to take the place at all hazards. Col. Harding replied that they might come and take it if they could. – The rebels proceeded, even while the flag of truce was in our lines, to completely surrounded the town of Dover, and to plant their cannon in favorable positions. About 2 o’clock the battle commenced and continued without cessation until 8 o’clock in the evening. The rebels, a number of times, charged furiously and madly upon the works and guns of the 83d, but were as often repulsed. The slaughter of the [fold] beside one large siege gun. At one time the siege gun had missed fire twice, when a few rebels charged upon it, the leader exclaiming, “Why the h-l don’t you surrender – you are completely surrounded by ten times your number.” Just then the big gun was fired and the valorous rebel was blown into a hundred pieces. The 83d maintained their position from the first to the last. There were over 250 rebels buried by the 83d as the result of this battle. The wounded that remained upon the gound and fell into our hands numbered about sixty. There were also some forty or fifty prisoners taken. The 83d lost about 13 killed and 35 wounded. Among the killed was Capt. Philo Reed, a young and prominent lawyer of Monmouth. I had the pleasure of his acquaintance, and it was with sorrowful emotion that I looked upon his noble face cold in death. He was a man of excellent principle, bright intellect, and high moral worth, and had he been spared would no doubt have become one of the brightest and shining lights of the nation.

For the skill and gallantry displayed by Col. Harding on this important occasion he was soon after promoted to the position of Brigadier General, and last year the loyal and appreciating citizens of the 5th Congressional District elected the able and gallant General to a seat in Congress.

The history of the late war does not furnish a parallel to the gallant conduct of the 83d Illinois regiment. Every man in that regiment won for himself enduring fame.

Our fleet arrived in Nashville on the afternoon of the 7th of February. Here our regiment was welcomed by the 16th Illinois which was camped but a few rods from our landing place. We stopped in Nashville but a day or two when we received orders to move towards Franklin, a town about 18 miles south of Nashville.



Withdrawal of Mr. Venable.

            In another column we publish a card of withdrawal as a candidate for School Commissioner of Mr. William Venable, together with the action of the Central Committee in reference to the matter. While we have no doubt Mr. Venable would have made a worthy and efficient School Commissioner, it cannot be denied that a more suitable man for the place that Professor Branch of Prairie City could not have been named. Our Prairie City friends urged his name in the Convention, and he would have been nominated but for the fact that Mr. Venable had been a soldier, and the claims of soldiers with the Union party are always respected. Prairie City was justly entitled to a representative upon the ticket, and when the name of Professor Branch was rejected in the Convention she was aggrieved and felt that her claims had been ignored. Mr. Venable, with a magnamimity and devotion to the Union cause which does him honor, recognizes the claims of Prairie City, and the peculiar fitness of Professor Branch for that office, and yields [fold] of his ticket, and will be elected by a majority that will frighten the copperhead candidate for that office worse if possible than when the soldier thrashed him.


“Then and Now.”

            Ever since the commencement of the late war honest Democrats have been leaving the Democratic party and arranging themselves upon the side of the Union, loyalty and the constitution. In many counties the Union Republican party have placed upon their ticket those who have formerly acted with the Democratic party. Where-ever this has been done their former party friends have been their most fierce and vindictive enemies. They assail them in every manner possible that they think will damage them in public estimation. The most damaging accusation in their opinion is their old political record. It was all right while they voted the Democratic ticket, but when they leave the foul party and come out in favor of the administration and against those who would destroy the government then their old record is brought forward as enough to condemn them now and forever.

The Eagle of last week arraigns our candidate for county Judge, Mr. Simmons, for his old record. It is true that Mr. Simmons at one time acted with the Democratic party, and true to the teachings of that party opposed the war, and spoke against it. – The Journal had no friendly words for him while he occupied that position. But as the war progressed Mr. Simmons became convinced that he was wrong, and in a public speech in this city acknowledged the error of his past course, and announced his conviction that the right and proper way to deal with the war was to fight it out and whip the rebels. He showed his faith by his works, for he volunteered as a private and served as such. Mr. Simmons was at that time a Democratic office holder, and of course for the honest and patriotic course that he pursued he lost caste in the Democratic party. It was remarked by a prominent Democratic office holder in this county, speaking in reference to Mr. Simmons, that when a man took up a gun in the war he laid down his Democratic principles.


            → We publish this week an advertisement from Messrs. McClintock & Withrow, two young men who have recently formed a co-partnership for the purpose of carrying on the business of Wagon making, repairing, &c. Mr. McClintock was our fellow soldier in the 78th Illinois, and was detailed as brigade wagon maker, which place he filled with great credit to himself. Both he and Mr. Withrow are excellent mechanics, and we have no doubt they will be able to give perfect satisfaction to all who favor them with their patronage.


Macomb, Oct. 18th, 1865.

Mr. A. Blackburn, Esq.,
Acting Chairman Central Union Com. for McDonough Co., Ill.,
Dear Sir: -On the 5th of the present month I addressed a note to C. F. Wheat Esq., in substance as follows:

Macomb, Ill., Oct. 5th, 1865.

C. F. Wheat Esq., Chairman Union Central Com.

Dear Sir: – Will you be kind enough to withdraw my name from the Union Ticket as candidate for School Superintendent, and, take such action as you may deem best for the success of our principles and the triumph of our ticket.

I remain yours,
William Venable Jr.

            Why the Central Committee did not act upon my card of withdrawal at an earlier date than the present, I have no means of ascertaining; but I will remark that I have taken this step advisedly, and with ample deliberation, and I trust that my action in this affair may meet the approval of my friends.

If I may be permitted to add a suggestion to the Committee and the party, I would recommend Professor Branch as eminently fitted for the position of School Superintendent. I need not say, that which all know to be true, he is a thoroughly trained teacher, practically as well as theoretically. [Fold] and elected, proposes to devote his whole time to the educational interests of our county. I trust that whatever course the Committee may deem best will be acquiesced in by the Union voters in all parts of the county. United we can and will be successful.

Let us, then, all work together, and poll a full vote. If we do this, success is ours. Yours for the Union, and the success of our county ticket.

William Venable, Jr.

            At a called meeting of the Central Committee of McDonough county at the office of C. F. Wheat in Macomb in the 18th day of Oct., 1865, the above communication from Mr. Wm. Venable, Union candidate for Superintendent of public Instruction was received. The committee highly appreciating the patriotic motives that have moved Mr. Venable to this action, acquiesce in his request, and place the name of Daniel Branch on the ticket for the aforesaid office instead of Mr. Venable.

A. Blackburn,
Acting Chairman Central Committee.


            Col. M. R. Vernon. – A brief letter from our late Colonel of the 78th Ill., informs us that he is now at Pithole City, Pa., engaged in oil speculations. He confesses slightly to “oil on the brain,” but is willing to suffer a little for “gold in the pocket.” He suffered some loss at the recent large fire at Pithole, but not enough to discourage him. Long may he wave.


            → We have received a letter from our old friend John Van Horn, of Co. H, 78th Ill., who is now with his family at Grand Island, California. He sends us a new subscriber from that far-off country with a [fold] like the country very well, and we hope to hear that John is blessed with health, a peaceful conscience, and worldly store. He served in the 78th from its organization to the time of its muster out and always did his duty as a brave and noble soldier.


            → The eclipse passed off on Thursday morning according to programme. The sky was clear, and nothing occurred to disturb the general harmony of the arrangements. The exhibition will be repeated at some future day which will be duly announced in the almanacs.


            → Joseph Adams, whose trial for murder recently took place at the Hancock circuit court, on change of venue from this county, was acquitted and thereupon discharged from custody.


            → Go to B. F. Martin & Son to buy your furniture. They are receiving a large and varied assortment of furniture which they will sell lower than any establishment.


Furs, Boots, Shoes, Hats, Caps, and Buck Goods.

To find the best stock and best made furs at this city, go to Browne’s Boot and Shoe store on the south side of the square.

To find the largest, cheapest and best stock of boots and shoes, go to Browne’s, south side the square.

To find the best stock of hats and caps go to Browne’s, south side the square.

The best stock of fur and buck goods to be found in this city is at Browne’s, south side the square.


Town Clock.

Although our city cannot boast of a regular town clock, Mr. H. Humiston, watch, clock and notion dealer on the south side of the square, has set up a beautiful clock on the sidewalk in front of his store. It makes a handsome sign, and is worth the trouble to go around to see. Mr. H. has a large and handsome stock of clocks, watches and notions at reasonable prices.



Mr. Allen Vawters, one of our most successful nurserymen and fruit growers, has a large lot of fruit trees and grape vines this Fall, of the best varieties. Persons wishing anything in this line, will do well to call on him at his residence on Lafayette street, four blocks north of the square.


            → The cold and chilly winds begin to blow, which reminds us that we all want some good Winter Clothing. Now to all such we desire to say that William Wetherhold is on hand with a complete stock of Woolen Goods, Blankets, Cloths, Cassimers, Satinets, Flannel, Ladies Cloths, Cloaks & Circulars, and Winter Shawls; also a complete stock of Furs. Remember the place, at the sign of the “New Cheap Store,” on the east side. Goods sold at the lowest market prices. “Not to be undersold” is his motto.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: